6 December 2009

Light from Exeter

As we continue our novenas in preparation for the Solemnity of our Lady's Immaculate Conception (at Lourdes, by the way, Cardinal Pole's successor Rowan Williams translated 'Immaculata' as 'Spotless'; I wonder why did that, rather than using the more familiar rendering ...), I thought readers might enjoy some words of Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter 1420-1458.
There is truly nothing, after God, more useful than making memorial of his most holy Mother, for if the name of God's Mother has been invoked, even if the merits of the one calling upon her do not deserve it, yet the merits of God's Mother intercede so that he might in mercy be heard; for she is the Palace of Universal Propitiation, the Cause of General Reconciliation, the Vessel of Grace and Temple of Life Eternal and of the salvation of all who are to be saved, she, the dear Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary; who, the only one to guard unimpaired the likeness of the Heavenly Craftsman, gave birth under the seal of holiness to the Splendour of the Father's Glory, the only begotten Son, indeed, of God, who knows not the Fault of Adam, that he might , by the merit of His own holiness and righteousness, restore to Paradise those whom our first Parent exiled by his fault of disobedience; for this woman, most blessed among and above all blessed women, through the blessing of her childbearing abolished for ever the curse of our first Mother Eve and trod with the foot of virtue the poisonous head of the ancient serpent ...I break off here because the sentence goes on for ever. I doubt whether, even now, this great Exonian Pontiff has completed it. He even chose, as a venue for a dissertation on the Immaculate Conception, a General Chapter of the Order of Preachers in his See City ... I know I need not remind you that the Dominicans were still distinctly negative about the doctrine at this point.

Lacy was a considerable intellectual whom his people deemed also to be a Saint. His shrine was dismantled at the 'Reformation' (by the 'Protestant Dean', Simon Haynes, who so got up the noses of his Anglican Catholic fellow chapter-members that they were able - even in the reign of Edward VI - to contrive to get him imprisoned); but when the Cathedral was bombed during the war the wax votive offerings from it were found concealed behind a nearby stone. He had a definite cultus as a beatus.

11 comments:

Fr.Ogs said...

Dear Fr.,
How reminiscent of 'the infidel Historian': Gibbon's sentences often wind their way through a page and a half -or more -, and, in the process, through innumerable Subordinate Clauses, as well as carefully equipoised Main Clauses. But Gibbon, of course, wrote with the steely-eyed cynicism so typical of the Enlightenment, whereas Bishop Lacy charms one with the warm enthusiasm his subject here draws from him. What an interesting task to set someone, to re-write Bp. Lacy's exordium as Gibbon might have done it, laden with world-weary Irony.

Fr.Ogs said...

..."whom... ... was also a Saint": obviously, Fr., you intended a Nominative Relative Pronoun here. How often Interpolated Clauses lead one astray

xl annos me taeduit said...

..."whom... ... was also a Saint": obviously, Fr., you intended a Nominative Relative Pronoun here

Fr Hunwicke was perhaps following the grammatical precedent boldly set by the fathers of the Authorized Version in Matthew 16:13 - but which few subsequent revisers have had the courage to follow.

I was disappointed that no mention was made of the shrine of Bishop Lacy in the main street of the little town of Chudleigh. It is, I believe, much resorted to.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

OOps. Sorry. Result of redrafting sloppily done.

Gengulphus said...

Have we not travelled this way before? Or perhaps we are caught in a chronic hysteresis.

Michael McDonough said...

Wikipedia claims that he was Master of University College, Oxford, in 1398. This would make him a youngish contemporary of Chaucer, I suppose. Was University College run by either the Franciscans or Dominicans at the time?

His thought gives clear witness to the doctrine of Immaculate Conception, as you point out. I am aware that some Britons take great pride (as well they should) in the idea that the Immaculate Conception was a kind of DNA of the Church in their country, Mary's Dowry.

Were the sermons or writings of beati like Bishop Edmund Lacy lost with the Reformation, or have they been preserved somehow? He sounds like another person that any future Anglican Personal Ordinariates might help raise to the altars for the good of the whole Church. We "gotta try with a little help from our friends"!

Michael McDonough said...

On re-reading Bishop Lacy's words, I was reminded of an interview by Mother Angelica (of EWTN) with a parish priest from somewhere in the midwestern U.S. who had nearly been killed in an auto accident, and who said that while in a coma he had "heard", not seen, his personal judgement by Christ. Christ found him wanting in every aspect, but Our Lady asked to have him for herself, and that he not be judged yet. Jesus granted that request.

The priest told Mother Angelica in absolute seriousness that none of the Three Divine Persons can ever deny her one single thing she asks for. He was very emphatic, and I was very impressed by the emphasis with which that priest said those words.

Joshua said...

That is why Our Lady is known as Suppliant Omnipotence (Omnipotentia Supplex).

After all, being entirely free from sin, united by grace to the Lord, and living face to face with God, she can only ever ask for what is pleasing to the Most High.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Joshua: don't fail to use the Search mechanism on this blog ... which would have revealed to you a piece on Omnipotentia Supplex on May 1 2008!

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

So presumably she didn't pray that the C of E would not ordain (or purport to ordain) women to the priesthood.....