Monday, 20 February 2012

All Things New, Dvořák and Cardinal Merry del Val

In previous years, we would have thought of yesterday as Quinquagesima, or the Next Sunday Before Lent, now for us it was the Seventh Sunday of the Year.   Despite the difference, we felt no pangs of loss for the former things passed away. 

The Epistle we heard on this day in previous years was the resonant Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels (upon which the eminent Fr Hunwicke has commented so fascinatingly here).  Instead, we had 2 Corinthians 1:18-22, which talks of the constant "Yes" of the promises of God in Christ Jesus, to which we, sealed by God in the Spirit, reply "Amen".

The Gospel readings were closer to each other.  In our Anglican days, we would have had Jesus healing the blind man (Luke 18:31), whereas yesterday we had Jesus healing the paralitic (Mark 2:1-12).  The parallel went beyond a simple tale of healing, and, picking up on Fr Colven's theme in his homily, both readings show that healing (for which one might read forgiveness) is available to all, if it is asked for and desired, and if a firm resolve exists to lead a new life.

Something else that was new to all of us, at least in a liturgical context, was the Dvořák Mass setting in D Major.  Given the efficient way in which the Canon is said at St James's (the Celebrant says it during the singing of the Sanctus, the Consecration occurs, then the choir continues with the Benedictus while the Celebrant continues with the Anamnesis), this long mass setting only delayed our visit to the local hostelry (an example of Anglican Patrimony) by ten minutes.  However, these were ten minutes very well spent, particularly on the beautiful Kyrie and Gloria. 

We all learned one further new thing yesterday, being the association of Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val with St James's.  Fr Colven's parish notes describe this below :
.....he was baptised in the old church in Spanish Place in 1865, received some of his early education here in London, and began his studies for the priesthood at Ushaw College outside Durham.  A polyglot, when asked in later life what was his first language, his reply was that his dreams were always in English! He was related to the de Zulueta family who played such a large part in the life of Saint James’s in the first half of the last century (they had a personal chapel in their house at 21, Devonshire Place) and were largely responsible for the decoration of the Lady Chapel – the crucifix on its wall belonged to him. Recruited into the diplomatic service of the Vatican, Merry del Val rose to become Cardinal Secretary of State to Pope St Pius X and, it is rumoured, came within a handful of votes of succeeding him as the Successor of St Peter. In 1953 the cause for his canonisation was begun, and he is now termed “Servant of God”. So in this good and holy man (who died in 1930) Saint James’s might have had from within its congregation a Pope – and perhaps, one day God willing, even its own saint ......... from his vantage point in Heaven may he watch over and pray for this parish which first nurtured him in the Faith. 
Cardinal Merry del Val, pictured below with Pope St Pius X, composed the Litany of Humility, which he recited after every Mass.

Fr Colven has suggested that all those attend St James's might wish to pray at least once a week during Lent.  It would be a very good thing if readers of this blog would also consider doing the same.
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honoured, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
Following on from recent blogposts here, one little historic aside worth making is the link between Cardinal Merry del Val and King Edward VII. 
  • We mentioned in a recent blogpost that King Edward became the first British monarch publicly to attend a Catholic Mass since King James VII and II, when he attended, wearing the uniform of a Portuguese Colonel, the Requiem Mass for the assassinated King and Crown Prince of Portugal in 1908.  This Mass was celebrated at St James's, the church which had first nurtured the faith of the young boy who grew up to become Cardinal Merry del Val. 
  • As Archbishop Merry del Val, he attended, with the newly ordained Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) the Coronation of King Edward VII as the official representative of Pope Leo XIII
  • A rather more macabre co-incidence is that Merry del Val died while being operated on for appendicitis, the same condition that had led to King Edward VII, some years before, falling seriously ill and having had to delay his Coronation. 
Former Anglicans in particular may also know Cardinal Merry del Val as the driving force behind Apostolicae Curae.  While Apostolicae Curae is now sometimes bandied about as some sort of insult from Rome, it should be noted that (a) the Church of England took steps in Saepius Officio and through the Dutch Touch to address points made in Apostolicae Curae, and (b) that at the time, though disappointing to leading Anglo-Catholics who had perhaps pushed the discussion too far too soon, Apostolicae Curae was generally received in the Church of England in a more positive way than it would have been had Rome declared that the Church of England's clergy were in fact fully functioning Catholic priests.

Cardinal Merry del Val died in 1930, and so falls within the period during which it is possible that vintage footage of him exists.  He is quite probably to be glimpsed in footage of those around Pope Benedict XV or Pope Pius XI (there is very little easily accessible film of Pope St Pius X), but more certain than following that approach is for us to include this 1926 footage of Cardinal Merry del Val acting as Papal Legate at the Commemoration held in Assisi for the 700th Anniversary of the death of St Francis.

Cardinal Merry del Val, Servant of God, is buried in St Peter's Basilica in Rome, next to the triple tomb of the last of the Stuarts, the exiled King James VIII and III, and his two sons, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie, King Charles III), and Henry Benedict Cardinal Stuart, Duke of York (King Henry I and IX, and Dean of the College of Cardinals).

1 comment:

  1. Cardinal Rafael, before he went to seminary, was a fine athlete: a talented tennis player and expert equestrian. He was asked (by his father, I think) if he would mind giving up these pastimes once he was ordained. The young man replied that he was glad he had these enjoyments to offer to God as a sacrifice.
    Before the Pope (Pius IX?) spotted the young man's talent & potential, Rafael was yearning to become a priest in England, as he was fired by the desire for Britain to return to the true faith -- what a fine, though unknown, patron of the Anglican Ordinariate he is -- I hope the Ordinariate can one day have a church or chapel named for him.