Sweet Jesus

From a very good site….

He focused particularly on the martyrdom of St John Houghton, Prior of the London Charterhouse, who was cut down from the scaffold while still alive and had his body ripped open. Henry VIII had insisted that the Carthusians were to be executed in their habits and St John still had his hair shirt on, which proved a problem for the executioners trying to hack through it.

His heart was torn out while he was still alive and St John said "Sweet Jesus! What will you do with my heart?"


Sweet Jesus.

We may see these days again.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Michael says:

    My immediate and then later thoughts: “Oh my!” … Deeply inspiring, though.


  2. Baron Korf says:

    I guess this means I’m not the only one in a melancholy tonight.

  3. Another equally inspiring series of martyrdom stories can be found in this book, “Witnesses for Christ” by Vaporis.


    Here is the description of the text:

    “This study is the culmination of two decades of research on Orthodox Christian neomartyrs under the Ottoman Turks. Fr Vaporis has complied the life stories of almost two hundred faithful men and women who were by and large of humble station, possessing little or no formal education, yet gave their lives, or witnessed, for Christ. It is a pan-Orthodox study which cuts across ethnic boundaries to include many non-Greek neomartyrs, from countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Cyprus, Egypt, Ukraine, and Georgia. It also includes a number of accounts of Muslims who converted to Orthodox Christianity and suffered a martyr’s death because they refused to return to Islam.

    This, however, is not simply a collection of hagiographic stories. Here the lives are retold in a fluid, easy-to-read manner, and set in an historical context to make them more accessible to the reader. Also of great interest are the many translations of the dialogue between the neomartyrs and the Ottoman judges (kadi), during the three interrogations that were mandated by Islamic law. These records provide fascinating information on mutual perceptions and the clash between Orthodox and Islamic cultures, illustrating how the Ottomans became decreasingly tolerant of Orthodox Christians as their empire declined.

    While of great historical interest, this collection of accounts of Orthodox neomartyrs, who had to choose between conversation to Islam and painful torture and death, will no doubt inspire many readers in their own daily lives.”

    I read this three years ago and the stories are still very vivid for me today. THe growing problem of a resurgent and radical Islam around the world, especially in Europe, makes these accounts very relevant.

  4. Fr Ray Blake says:

    I have put the whole Fr Sean Fineagan’s sermon on line

  5. Houghton G. says:

    Thomas More saw the Carthusian priors and the prior of the Birgittines at Syon (founded by Henry VIII’s royal predecessor Henry V, I believe) dragged on hurdles past his Tower window a few weeks before his own execution (commuted to beheading from the same barbaric method of hanging, drawing and quartering) and was encouraged by their steadfastness.

    The Carthusian leaders had gone to what they thought was a good-faith conversation with Henry’s henchmen about whether they could take the oath. They were arrested instead.

    Their executions reberberated across England because no one could with a straight face use the hackneyed claim that they were lax monks and wastrels. Henry thought that by executing them he could intimidate the rest of the resistance and indeed, he did intimidate many. But it only strengthened the resolve of others. After a second round of executions, Henry gave up and did not even bother with show trials for the last of the Carthusians: these he shackled to the walls and left to starve to death.

    Yes, the glorious roots of the modern English monarchy and its state church. The “why can’t we all just get along” “let’s just honor the state’s ruler as St. Peter exhorted us” Kmiec Catholics will be used to provide cover for the outlawing of the Catholic faith in America in much the same way as the majority of the bishops in England provided cover for Henry’s immense power grab. (The entire Protestant Reformation was an immense power grab on the Continent as well–the origins of the modern welfare state, when the endowments of the religious institutions were seized under the pretext of aiding the poor and used to create the “community chest.”)

    St. John Houghton is my confirmation patron.

  6. Houghton G. says:

    Correction, Richard Reynolds was not prior of Syon Abbey but a monk of that house. The three Carthusian priors (Houghton and two others) were executed May 4, 1535, and the second round of executions was two years later on May 11, 1537, so the feast day for all of them in the old calendar was May 11, which I assume was the occasion for this homily.

    In principle, all those executed by hanging, drawing, and quartering were to be cut down while still conscious and disemboweled while alive, but out of mercy, it was not uncommon to strangle the unfortunates until they were quite dead and only then perform the rest of the butchery. But presumably Henry had given orders to ensure that these executions would be carried out according to the letter of the law.

    This has implications for the Notre Shame affair: these Carthusians and other Catholic martyrs under Henry and Elizabeth were accused of lack of patriotism and executed as traitors. Fr. Jenkins has lamely tried to claim that an honorary degree for President Obama falls under St. Peter’s admonition to “honor” our legitimate rulers. Never mind that “honor” is being used in two different ways in the translation of the original Greek (whatever happened to the principle that academicians did not depend on translations but went straight to the original languages?), much as Thomas More pointed out that “worship” (worthship) as used in his day could mean both “giving respect to a human dignitary and adoring God as the Almighty Creator and that everyone could tell from context when it was being used in which manner.

    So we are urged by Fr. Jenkins to give our blessing to the awarding of an overt honor (honorary) degree based on the valid principle of patriotic respect for legitimate rulers much as many in England argued that, even though one might not agree with everything Henry was doing, still, he was the duly, God-appointed king of the realm and his subjects owed him obedience. We haven’t even come to that pass, though Obama’s removal of the conscience clauses might bring us very shortly to that pass but still “patriotism” is being urged on us in a desperate attempt to rescue Notre Shame’s bacon from the fire.

  7. RBrown says:

    Houghton G,

    Inspiring stories. One of the anti-Catholic lies told many years ago in my Tudor history class (and probably the official company line) is that the only reason HVIII disbanded monasteries was for their wealth, which he then used to buy the support of the aristocracy. The persecution of the Carthusians indicates otherwise.

    At Venerable English College in Rome the names of English martyrs who had attended VEC are engraved. It is very impressive.

    The Montini Church deadened such zeal.

  8. Tomas says:

    These tortures did not happen so very long ago. The hard truth is that England is as barbaric as was the Roman Empire – and continues to be so as the West’s first “soft totalitarian state.” Except that England’s modern barbarism attempts to disguise itself as enlightenment and compassion.

  9. Edward Martin says:

    Two nights ago I watched the movie “A Man for All Seasons”. As I watched I couldn’t help but think that when the film was made (1966) St. Thomas More would have been hailed as “a man of principle”. Today someone standing up for what they believe would be condemned as intolerant.

    Today’s equivalent to being hanged, drawn, and quartered is to be financially and socially destroyed by “human rights” tribunals.

  10. pelerin says:

    ‘Today someone standing up for what they believe would be condemned as intolerant.’

    This comment above is all too true. Today those of us who oppose adoption by same-sex couples which is now legal in Britain have been branded ‘retarded homophobes’ by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

  11. MargaretMN says:

    I was fortunate to live in London for a year in the late 80s and visited some of the sites where Catholics were martyred. Of course some of them are now just busy street corners with nothing there in particular to indicate what happened there. There is a kind of museum in the basement of a convent near Tyburn (now near Marble Arch) which is dedicated to remembering the martyrs. One of the things that struck me most was how so many of their acquisitions (relics of various kinds, in some cases things that were associated with people but also the more grisly bone fragments etc.) were recent acquisitions that had been passed down in families through generations in secret. That really defined the scope of the oppression for me.

  12. Denis Crnkovic says:

    “We may see these days again.”

    Dear Fr. Zuhsldorf,

    I read your posts and comments with great enthusiasm and am always humbled by your intense knowledge and deep insights. I hope, however, that this time you are dead wrong.

  13. I am watching the Showtime series, The Tudors, about the times of Henry VIII. In one episode Henry demands that the Pope permit him to divorce his wife, Catherine. He essentially tells the Pope that if he doesn’t do as Henry wishes, Henry will withdraw his support of the Church in England. And then I read the document, signed by Nancy Pelosi et al, telling the Pope that he should not, during his recent visit to the US, publicly refuse Communion to pro-abortion elected officials, “or else” said Catholics would no longer be a guiding light of Catholic principle in public life. As if.

    Did anybody else see Henry VIII in action last summer but me?

  14. I’m American, but the stories of English martyrs always hit very close to home for me. That such attrocity could happen in such a powerful, seemingly enlightened nation, all because of the lust and pride of one man, pretty much demonstrates that none of us has leave to be complacent.

    Catholics have never been safe in this world, and we never will be. Whatever red martyrdom we may be spared will likely be exacted as white martyrdom. I, an American citizen, fully expect to suffer for my faith in one way or another, and sooner rather than later.

    But we can’t live our lives in fear for our lives, can we? We just have to keep our eyes on the prize… and what a prize it will be!

  15. Robert says:

    As I read this, my thought was: in context of my dealings with my wife, my children, my friends, family, co-workers, as regards my duties and obligations, all the little trials and temptations of my state of life, “Sweet Jesus! What will you do with my heart?”

    That I may be faithful!

  16. It is interesting when we remember that Henry VIII and subsequently his daughter Elizabeth I founded the Church of England because Henry wished to be divorced from his wife who was a WOMAN. It is somewhat refreshing when we think about it now that the Anglican/Episcopalians (except the African Anglicans, of course,) now condone same-sex “marriage”. Note that the Episcopal “church” was formerd by American Anglicans who revolted against George III who was not only their king but their “pope”.

  17. TJM says:

    Nice actions by the founder of Anglicanism. I know it would make me very proud if Jesus had done these things! (NOT). Tom

  18. irishgirl says:

    Oh, that Catholics today would have such zeal and courage….

    Heather-you’re right on! We are never safe in this world. I’d rather keep my eyes on the prize…..

  19. R.V. Miole says:

    Weird. I was just reading ‘An Infinity of Little Hours’ and had just finished reading about the marytrdom of the English Carthusians. Hanged, drawn, and quartered.

  20. Lee says:

    A few years ago I was deeply involved with a yahoogroup devoted to Carthusian spirituality and at the same time happened to read a biography of St Thomas More. When it came to the last 18 mos ( I believe) of his life which he spent in the Tower, it was simply impossible to miss the fact that he spent those months living as close an approximation of the Carthusian life as possible to him.

    We don’t think of him as being among the Carthusian martyrs, but I wonder how God thinks of it. It is wonderfully encouraging, is it not, to think that although we may be laymen and living in the world, we may yet die the death of saints.

    One other thing that comes to mind was their high good humor in the face of death.

    As I remember one story, More and Bishop John Fisher being taken to the Tower arrived at its gate at exactly the same time. “Well, Sir Thomas,” said St. John smiling, “This is certainly a narrow gate. We must be in the right way.”

    God grant us the grace in these time to find our own narrow way

  21. cathomommy says:

    Yesterday, my 7-year old son and I finished reading a biography of St. Edmund Campion as part of his homeschooling lesson. When we got to the part describing his execution (hung until “almost dead,” then having his entrails cut out and held up for him to see, then beheaded and his body drawn and quartered), Paul asked, “They wouldn’t put priests to death anymore, though, right?” All I could respond was with an explanation that everyone’s lives are in God’s hands, and that it’s our job while here on earth to love Him as much as we can, live our lives the way He wants, and stay true to our Catholic faith no matter what. If we do that, then what happens to our bodies in the end won’t matter too much…because then our souls will live in eternal happiness with God in heaven. Heavy lessons for a seven year old, but at least he’ll know what life is all about…and it ain’t about self-esteem, as the school system would have taught him!

  22. magdalene says:

    I have long been fascinated by the saints who are martyrs and particularly the English martyrs. I have a good deal of information on them.

    Yes, Lord, grant that I might be faithful even unto death. You died for me and even though I do not deserve the honor, may I die for You?

    Things changed quickly in England and many faithful suffered greatly. The most demonic hatred was directed towards the priests. The devil must eliminate the Eucharist and thus those who confect It. We saw the same thing in the Spanish civil war where in at least one diocese, every priest was murdered. We saw it under communism too. Our holy priests will take the brunt of an uncoming persecution, make no mistake.

  23. TerryN says:

    Doesn’t this make your heart burn within you! The Carthusian martyrs – all the English martyrs – are so glorious.

  24. Catherine says:

    The great challenge is to teach our children, teens, and young adults the value of suffering sweetly and courageously, when they can’t even endure the “pain” of being separated from their IPOD’s or cell phones for more than a minute or two.

    I have grieved at my inability to do so…try as I might.

  25. Rouxfus says:

    TAN Books (now Benedictine Press) has a clearance sale going on the Baronius edition of Robert Hughes Benson’s novel “Come Rack! Come Rope” about recusant priests and laymen living during the English Reformation under Elizabeth I:


    I read it over Easter weekend and it is an amazing story, based on true events and featuring historical personages such as St. Edmund Campion, Mary Queen of Scotts, Babington and more. An interesting glimpse into life under a regime of persecution of Catholics.

  26. Thomas Burk says:

    ‘Today someone standing up for what they believe would be condemned as intolerant.’

    A recent example may be seen in, of all things, a beauty pageant! The hatred and calumny heaped on Carrie Prejean was astonishing, and the usual suspects like NOW not once attempted to help her. I think she acquitted herself quite well. The enemy is terrified of the truth. I’m with Fr. Z – I believe it could well get very bad for us.

  27. Supertradmom says:

    I believe we shall see another age of martyrs. I have stood at the corner of Bayswater Road near Hyde Park, where the scaffold once stood. It is hallowed ground. The sisters across the road used to have part of the gallows above the altar in their convent. Check this out.http://www.tyburnconvent.org.uk/home/index.html I saw part of the gallows there in 1986. Very moving.

  28. Mike D. says:

    “We may see these days again.”

    Some would say I’m over-reacting, but I think, Father Z, that this is only the tip of the iceberg. It may get much, much worse than this. The potential is there, whether it will happen…….

  29. Mark says:

    “We may see these days again.”

    With due respect, “may?”

  30. Teresa says:

    This makes me consider what my own last words may be.

  31. Martin says:

    Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
    Were still in heart and conscience free…

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