[ by Charles Cameron — Saint Vlad II? Tsar Vlad? Impaler Vlad? Ras(KGB)Putin? — my latest piece, posted today at LapidoMedia ]
Here’s the opening of my latest piece for LapidoMedia, exploring issues of Church and State — with an eye on Putin & Patriarch Kirill, and their join interest in the assassination / martydom of the Romanovs.
Vladimir Putin and St Vladimir, Church and State in Russia
THE Romanovs, the royal family of the Russian Tsars were killed, and some would say martyred, by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
But now, almost a century later, President Vladimir Putin, appears to be slowly rehabilitating the royals.
And the Romanovs’ reemergence has implications for Putin, a quasi-Tsar as Russian head of state, emphasizing renewed collaboration between Church and State, long estranged during Soviet rule.
Here as in many other ways, Putin works in close association with his fellow ex-KGB hand, Patriarch Kirill II of Moscow. Forbes described him as more than a mere informer saying he was ‘an active officer’ of the spy organization.
And Putin’s friend the Patriarch too has a keen interest in the rehabilitation of the Romanovs.
In a 2013 television broadcast on the significance of the Romanov family, he said: ‘A solemn Divine Liturgy was celebrated on March 6 in Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin, during which we commemorated all Romanovs, beginning with Mikhail Fedorovich, Aleksei Mikhailovich – the great gatherer of the Russian land, Peter I, and down to the Holy Passion-Bearer Nicholas II. We commemorated these people with thanks to God for their efforts and with prayers beseeching the Lord to grant rest to their souls in the abode of the righteous.’
To read the rest, including the end of my tale, looking at ideas that Vladimir Putin must surely have entertained– Saint Vladimir II? Tsar Vlad? Impaler Vlad? Ras(KGB)Putin? — please go to the Lapido site.
[ by Charles Cameron — from sand he came, to sand he shall return ]
The two images below — the upper image from Wm Benzon‘s New Savanna blog today, the lower from Wikipedia‘s article on Ramesses II —
— between them evoke Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s celebrated poem Ozymandias.
I was going to call Shelley’s poem “longstanding” — but given the erosion to which both images and the poem itself testify, it seems plausible that Shelley’s poem — like Shelley himself — may soon be dust.
Mark you, if I were DoubleQuoting the poem, I’d do it thus:
More details fit — the shattered visage, the trunkless legs of stone — but the image is by the same token further from Benzon’s photo, my starting point for this now quadrangular voyage.
To be exact, the lower image in the second DoubleQuote came from the DeskTop Nexus site, but a version of Foreman’s article is where I found it, and I tracked it to Foreman’s original pamphlet from there.
— however, a polarization of youth against the elderly is hardly an improvement. There’s something intangible the Leavers are loving, and perhaps Blake‘s Jerusalem, sung at the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, captures that love without the hateful rhetoric that has accompanied Farrage‘s side of the exit campaign:
Speaking of which, I’m no great admirer of Bill Maher, who is too snide to be considered much of a wit in my book — but this little jewel of an aphorism may be the best haiku-like summation of Remainer’s regret I’ve seen.
Bill Maher line last night: Pride and Prejudice beat out Sense and Sensibility in #Brexit
Civilization requires civility — and polarization seems to encourage incivility on both sides of many, many issues. Sorry, folks.
My friend Michael Robinson posted this elegaic comment the other day:
Flabbergasted | “The fearmongering and outright lies of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, The Sun and the Daily Mail have won. The UK, Europe, the west and the world are damaged. The UK is diminished and seems likely soon to be divided. Europe has lost its second-biggest and most outward-looking power. The hinge between the EU and the English-speaking powers has been snapped. This is probably the most disastrous single event in British history since the second world war. …
The UK’s decision to join the EU was taken for sound reasons. Its decision to leave was not. It is a choice to turn its back on the great effort to heal Europe’s historical divisions. This is, for me, among the saddest of hours. ” (Martin Wolf FT)
[ by Charles Cameron — the heart speaks for itself; the recusant pyx to truth of a higher order ]
It’s the second of these that really takes my breath away.
Recusants were the British subjects who remained Catholic in faith and practice at a time when the newfangled Protestantism made that behavior a heinous offence, punishable at times by death.
It has been the life and martyrdom of the Jesuit scholar and priest Edmund Campion in Elizabeth‘s reign and under her increasingly repressive laws — as Evelyn Waugh describes him in his book of that name — which engraved in me the heroic role of the recusants, and among them of their “massing priests” and the sacrament they brought to their faithful recusant remnant.
The Catholic majority did not submissively acquiesce to Elizabeth’s scheme. Much has been written of the fate of the priests, educated and ordained abroad, who were accused of treason, tortured, then hung, drawn and quartered; but as the Catholic Church went underground the laity also began to take enormous risks. Catholic gentry opened their stately homes up to the missionary priests. Escape routes were devised, with the diminutive Jesuit layman St. Nicholas Owen leading the way in ingenious acts of carpentry. He created hiding-holes for priests, their vestments and other liturgical items, that were so effective that centuries passed before some of them were discovered. In 1620 he died in the Tower of London under torture, taking his secrets with him.
Campion himself gets to the heart of the recusant matter, though, in the first salvo of his celebrated Brag — addressed before his capture to those who might capture him, the “Right Honourable, the Lords of Her Majestie’s Privy Council”:
I confesse that I am (albeit unworthie) a priest of ye Catholike Church, and through ye great mercie of God vowed now these viii years into the Religion of the Societie of Jhesus. Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and eke resigned all my interest or possibilitie of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldlie felicitie.
Waugh emphasizes, in turn, the significance of a priest as one who says Mass, ie whose sacramental act “in the person of Christ” continues the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, turning the very bread and wine of the offering into the body and blood of Christ, while they retain their outward and physical form, following the words of Christ at the Last Supper:Take, eat; this is My body and Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood.
It was this transformation, this transubstantiation of bread into the very body, wine into the very blood of Christ, which so frightened and infuriated the Protestants. As Waugh notes:
Whatever the sectional differences between the various Anglican groups, they were united in their resolve to stamp out this vital practice of the old religion. They struck hard at all the ancient habits of spiritual life — the rosary, devotion to Our Lady and the Saints, pilgrimages, religious art, fasting, confession, penance and the great succession of traditional holidays — but the Mass was recognized as being both the distinguishing sign and main sustenance of their opponents
To be a priest, a Jesuit, and above all the great scholar Edmund Campion SJ, was to court death for treason. But the priest’s duty was to bring that sustenance, the blessed sacrament, to the faithful — and when they could not attend Mass, it could be carried to them in just such a silver box on a string as is illustrated above. This pyx, as it was called, would have carried the body of Christ to the needy, hidden on a chain under the shirt, and on pain of most painful and drawn out death.
It is for this reason that the recusant pyx, beautiful as it may be, means so much to me, and I hope to have conveyed something of that sense to you also: seldom if ever has a container carried a freight so exalted in service to a people so spiritually hungry, under so grave a threat.
But to relax a little…
The situation was fraught, and increasingly so, for those who remained loyal Catholics — and yet just as there were pockets of recusants still faithful to the old ways, there were pockets of allowance made for them in certain circumstances. Waugh puts it nicely:
In many places the priest would say Mass in his own house for the Catholics before proceeding to read Morning Prayer in the parish church; occasionally, it is said, he would even bring consecrated wafers and communicate his Catholic parishioners at thesame time as he distributed to the Protestants the bread blessed according to the new rite.
Thus also Queen Elizabeth I herself favored the composer William Byrd enough that he was able to compose not only works suited to the Protestants (Anglicans) such as his four Services, but also Masses for specifically Catholic use, in three, four, and five voices.
Byrd for Her Protestant Majesty, Queen Elizabeth:
The Nunc dimittis (Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace) from the Great Service
Byrd the faithful Catholic, for his fellow recusants:
The Agnus Dei from the Mass for five voices, Westminster Cathedral, Pope Benedict XVI celebrating
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