Sunday, May 04, 2003

If it were not Sunday

today would be the feast of St. John Houghton, who died on this day with the other martyrs of the London Charterhouse in 1535. There is information on him here.
While I love all of the English and Welsh martyrs, (and wish that the feast of the Forty Martyrs was at least given as an option on the US calendar), the fact that these Carthusians were the first ones to suffer, even before the magnificent St. John Fisher and the beloved St. Thomas More (who watched them being dragged to execution from his own cell), makes them special in my eyes. The later martyrs, the wonderful Jesuits and seminary priests, went into enemy territory to fight the good fight knowing what they were up against. The Carthusians were living in a country that had been Catholic for a thousand years, quietly pursuing sanctity in prayer and solitude- and suddenly they were dragged into a politicized religious maelstrom, facing not just any death, but the sickening torture of hanging, drawing and quartering. (It must have been an incredible shock to those witnessing it as well..... imagine the inhabitants of a Catholic country seeing monks, still clad in their habits, being dragged, stripped, half-hanged, and dismembered...)
And St. John Houghton's last words, spoken while he was still conscious even though the butchers were ripping his body apart and tearing his heart from his chest, always make me cry...
"And what wilt Thou do with my heart, O Christ?" ......


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