July 13 is when Blessed John Henry Newman preached, in 1852, his Sermon on The Second Spring: I think it the most devastating and moving exercise in rhetoric that I know in any language I know. In 2010, in the aftermath of the decision by the Church of England to consecrate anew the schism of the sixteenth century by charting once more, despite all the promise of the ARCIC years, a course of deliberate divergence from the Catholic church and from Catholic Truth, I found myself haunted by one passage in particular in which JHN talks about what happened to the Church of England at the Reformation. As, increasingly, one discovered once 'Catholic' Anglican churches now occupied by women 'priests', or put into 'groups' under liberal management, lonely places now with empty tabernacles, a century and a half of gradually, laboriously, restored Truth once again 'disposed of and shovelled away', these words assumed for me a renewed pathos:
"The vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of St Peter, the grace of the Redeemer, left it. That old Church in its day became a corpse (a marvellous, an awful change!); and then it did but corrupt the air which once it beautified. So all seemed to be lost; and there was a struggle for a time, and then its priests were cast out or martyred. There were sacrileges innumerable. Its temples were profaned or destroyed; its revenues seized by covetous nobles, or squandered upon the ministers of a new faith ... It took a long time to do this thoroughly; much time, much thought, much labour, much expense; but at last it was done ... the fair form of Truth, moral and material, hacked piecemeal, and every limb and organ carried off, and burned in the fire, or cast into the deep! But at last the work was done. Truth was disposed of, and shovelled away, and there was a calm, a silence, a sort of peace ... "
A corpse indeed!