Holy Saturday Reflection

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday:

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

Report: Patriots’ AFC Championship footballs were also way too small

Tuesday, January 21, 2015
Updated: January 21, 5:36 PM ET

Pats used mini-balls in second half

By Adam Schlefter

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – During its investigation of the New England Patriots’ alleged use of deflated game balls in the AFC Championship game last Sunday against the Colts, the NFL has found other possible infractions surrounding the footballs in question. League sources involved and familiar with the investigation told DR that not only were 11 out of the 12 balls inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirement, but each ball was also considerably smaller than regulations permit.

“We are not going to comment on the investigation at this time,” said Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications. Despite the League’s official silence, several sources have stepped forward and told DR that the Patriots were actually using six-inch plastic mini-footballs during the entire second half, when Tom Brady led the team to 28 unanswered points. The plastic mini-balls have allegedly been recovered from the Patriots’ training facility and are being examined by Roger Goodell himself.

League sources have confirmed that the footballs were properly inspected and approved by referee Walt Anderson 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, before they were returned to each team. Anderson was visibly upset when DR asked him for comment on the latest revelation in what is being stupidly dubbed “Deflategate.”

“I can’t believe we didn’t catch it,” said Anderson. “I mean I’ve been an official for 18 years and I couldn’t tell they were playing with a mini-ball? What the hell is wrong with me?” Anderson hinted that he might be contemplating retirement. “The inflation stuff, ok I could have missed that. You fooled me, Belichick, good job. But if I can’t see the difference between a regulation-sized ball and one my grandson would play with, maybe it’s time I moved on.”

The sideline ball-boys have made a joint statement through their lawyers pointing the finger directly at head coach Bill Belichick. The statement reads, in full: “Bill did it. He’s seriously nefarious. He kidnapped Timmy’s dog, too.” Patriots players, however, mostly towed the company line when questioned about the allegations.

“I’m just out there playing ball. I throw whatever ball they put in my hand,” said quarterback Tom Brady, who yelled comments to reporters from his balcony dressed only in Ugg boots, Stetson cologne and a grin. “Honestly, he [center Bryan Stork] could snap me a baseball bat and if [wide receiver Brandon] LaFell is open, I’ll throw it to him.”

“Gronk smash,” said one player who spoke with DR only on the condition of anonymity. “Every ball mini-ball to me. I smash!”

No stranger to controversy, Belichick called a surprise press conference in his front yard, a rare gesture of openness from a man who famously does not like speaking to the press, or speaking in general. Any hope of gleaning more information from Belichick was soon quashed, however, as he proceeded to answer every question in his standard dry monotone, “We’re on to the Super Bowl.” He grinned only slightly before walking away when a reporter from WEEI Boston asked the coach, “Are you trolling us, Bill?”

Phil Simms, who called the AFC Championship for CBS, seemed completely shocked when he heard the news. “I’m completely shocked,” said Simms. “Just shocked. I mentioned to Jim [Nantz] after the first drive of the 3rd quarter that Brady really looked like he could do anything he wanted with the ball out there, but I never thought it was because the balls were actually smaller than his hands.”

Looking back at the game film, the difference in ball size after the second half is considerable. At one point, Brady threw a short toss to running back LeGarrette Blount in the flat. The big back completely popped the ball when he attempted to catch it. Unbelievably, the play was simply called incomplete on the field and neither team noticeably reacted.

There is no word yet on what kind of punishment Belichick or the Patriots organization will face. Most people with the League who DR spoke to were still upset with themselves, partly over being duped by Belichick yet again, but mostly because they didn’t catch the egregious, obvious, stupid mistake during the game.

“They didn’t even try to cover it up,” one source said. “It makes me sick. I was on the sideline as an observer. I can’t believe I didn’t notice. Excuse me.”

With referees and league officials distraught and questioning their life choices, the question remains, will football ever recover from this dumb scandal? Did Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots finally kill the NFL forever?

The Pigeon – A Parody.

This is a line-by-Line Comedic Parody of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Raven.”
I have been working on this off and on for the last 3 years of my undergrad career. It is equal parts parody and real-events inspired humor. Hope you enjoy!

(If you meet James Earl Jones, ask him if he’ll record it! My crappy version can be seen/heard here: http://youtu.be/yn99-YDGNGw )

Once upon a midterm’s threshold, while I studied, weak and humbled,
Amid many a pile of towering volumes of forgotten lore,
While I lay there, clearly napping, suddenly there came a clapping,
As of someone gently snapping, snapping near my bedroom door.
“ ‘Tis my roommate,” I muttered, “clapping near my bedroom door;
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, vaguely I remember, in the dark depths of November,
How I longed for just an ember, to heat the room that I paid for,
Coldly I wished for the morrow; sunrise helped my student sorrow
Cast light on books I had to borrow, borrow for I was so poor,
For my bare and empty wallet which was known for being poor,
The state of students, evermore.

Was that sound just the caffeine, or a trick of my computer screen?
Flipped me—tripped me out with late night terrors, and I swore;
Cursing the dark and cold, to calm my soul, I kept repeating,
“ ‘Tis my roommate playing a trick with my bedroom door,
My jerk roommate playing a trick with my bedroom door.
That it is, and nothing more.”

Suddenly I gained some nerve; and spoke out to the dark with verve,
“Bro,” said I, “cease at once! You know how your pranks I deplore;
Can’t you see that I was napping, yet annoyingly you came clapping,
Disturbingly you came snapping, snapping at my bedroom door;
Applause so loud you woke me.” Here I threw the door upon the floor;
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into the blackness gazing, I stood there ‘til my eyes were hazing,
Doubting, thinking thoughts most mortals only would abhor;
But the darkness was consuming, and the quiet almost booming,
Then a word was spoken fuming, a whispered threatening word,
“No more.” This I whispered, crossly shutting the broken door,
“No more!” Clearly this, and nothing more.

Back to my studies turning, my eyes within their sockets burning,
Soon again I heard a flapping, something different than before,
“Surely,” said I, “surely, that is him where my window glass is.
Let me rise, then, and teach him truth, for this is surely war.
Let my studies wait a moment, for this is surely war.
‘Tis the end of his clamor.”

Open here I flung the window, and with head bobbing to and fro,
In there stepped a nasty pigeon, who promptly pooped upon my drawer.
No apology made he; but another drop instead there laid he,
Then fluttering against my pleas, he perched upon my bedroom door,
Perched upon the busted pallet that passes as my bedroom door,
Perched, and pooped, and nothing more.

At this dumb bird I was frowning, for my spirits he was downing,
By the so depraved decorum of the countenance it bore,
“See thy crest is worn and weathered, thou,” I said, “art sure a beggar,
Filthy, vile, infested pigeon, stumbling there above my door,
Quit me now forevermore.”

Long I waited for this beast to fly away from here at least,
Though my patience was soon bested. Oh, what a terrible chore!
Resigned to my odious task, I stole a swig from my hidden flask,
And picked up a broom to remove the bird above my bedroom door,
The wretched, distracting bird above my busted bedroom door.
And the pigeon pooped there once more.

Then the pigeon, perching simply, gained from me some ill sympathy;
Could I hit a creature staring dumbly at both wall and floor?
He appeared oh, so nearly dead, he could barely bob his head;
Then to myself I quietly said, “So he remains on my door,
I need not worry about distraction, as I am a Senior.”
Then the bird said, “Sophomore.”

Shocked by an untrue reply then said so strangely by him,
“Truly,” said I, “you know not of my studies done yet before.
Be certain that I am no fool, I brought here from my former school,
Many more credits that I shall fall upon as stock and store.
Yes, the school has promised to take along all my aged store
Of years—years before.”

Then the pigeon’s gaze caught me, and into certain laughing brought me.
Upon my mattress flopping, I stared up at bird on busted door.
His vacant stare made me uneasy, and feeling somewhat queasy,
I took to thinking what such a ragged bird so clearly poor –
What a simple, stupid, shaggy, and ragged bird so clearly poor
Meant in saying, “Sophomore.”

So I sat there deeply thinking, but with no word aloud speaking,
For the bird still stared empty, and yet meaning from it seemed to pour;
I furrowed my brow in thought, my head resting upon the spot,
And saw the outline of a paper, lying upon the floor,
Much like a lost paper I had once left lying upon the floor;
An F I earned as a Sophomore.

Then, methought, the air grew thicker, altered by some bad malt liquor,
Poured by drunkards flunked by same mistake many years before.
“Knave,” I cried, “my God present thee – by these drunkards he hath sent me
Some abasement – issued from your beak upon my broken door!
Take, o take this harsh humility, I will retain the thought of yore!”
Quoth the pigeon, “Sophomore!”

“Stop it!” said I, “thou art vile! Stop it, bird, cease that hateful bile!
Not from God hath this dismay fallen to me upon the floor.
Discouraged, I have been visited by magic so foreign,
And I must know of the origin – tell me truly, I implore:
Do your words – your wretched words – have reason? Tell me, I implore!”
Quote the pigeon, “Sophomore.”

“Stop it!” said I, “thou art vile! Stop it bird, cease this hateful bile!”
Lunging forward now hostile, I slid on the sheet I had seen before.
An official slip still enclosed, bearing words callously composed:
My credits would not be transferred, by ruling of the Board.
Two more years of ceaseless work required, by ruling of the Board.
Quoth the pigeon, “Sophomore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting –
“Get thee gone and take with thee the hateful word you meekly roar!
Leave only droppings behind ye, the least of your evil to remind me!
Leave me to my lonely, unending work! – by ruling of the Board!
Take thy bobbing head and wretched eyes from off my busted door!”
Mocked the pigeon, “Sophomore.”

And the pigeon, never quitting, still is sitting, still is shitting,
Upon the busted pallet that passes as my bedroom door;
And his crossed eyes yet remind me, how unending time still grinds me,
And his poop drops down eternal, like my dream I so hoped for,
And my heart dissolves away, like the degree I so hoped for.
Perpetually – a sophomore!

Messages by Night.

(I wrote the framework for this a very long time ago. I recently found it in an old notebook and discovered some inspiration to finish it in sonnet form.)

After day passes his skies of clear blue,
I rejoice in Night because I know soon,
My Messenger will travel west to you,
Carrying with him my bittersweet tune.

Fairest one, the night brings my note to you,
My Courier flies not by light of noon.
He travels with the shade, before the dew,
And carries there my troubled, caring tune.

A pearl against the black he passes through,
He continues where I cannot pursue.
Outside your window ledge he hovers true,
Singing to you my ever honest tune:

Every time you see the tender moon,
Remember in your heart that I Love You.

A Lunar Sonnet

“Fly me to the moon/
let me swing among the stars…”
Written rather hastily on the occasion of Neil Armstrong’s death, for him and all others who have bravely followed the human spirit of wonder and exploration out into the wilderness.

Flying through space, through expanses unknown,
Driven to find ever new paths to pave,
Leaving the one place all life has called home,
You were the best of the free and the brave.

Your feet upon my surface made no sound,
Yet thundered a message none could ignore:
“Mankind has leaped forth from his Earthly bounds,
Small steps mark our once distant neighbor!”

Standing in my dust, you saw sights unseen,
You stared back at the world like a mirror.
Full of hope for a place so blue and green,
You returned home, never to come nearer.

You’ve left Earth again, but remind your brethr’n.
“Fear not! This isn’t my first trip to heav’n.”

Quis Sum Ego?

I wrote this “personal statement” for a writing class I am taking this semester, and since the prompt asked us to write this statement for entry onto a blog, I figured I should probably go ahead and post the final draft to my real blog! Here you are:

Three words, spoken as a question, can bring both the strong and the weak to their knees. Fathers and mothers, children and adults, the rich and the poor, the idealist, the realist, the atheist, and the believer, all shall succumb to the power of the words, if they but say them with reverence and honesty. Three of the shortest words are these: Who am I? The cocksure might change their order and proudly say, “Who I am,” but the philosopher, the poet, and the garbage collector know the folly of this vanity. When spoken from a place of honesty, the words can only truly form a question for us mortals, and an ever-changing one at that. Once one recognizes the importance of this question, it can come to dominate and give purpose to one’s every action and thought.

Yet most people I know never really ask themselves, “Who am I?” Perhaps this comes down to our culture and our language. Our culture seems to be full of people looking for their “identity,” but answering with a collection of activities, accomplishments, and interests. Instead of taking a quiet moment to contemplate the question, “Who am I?” most of us would rather ask, “What do I love to do?” As a result, even the word “identity,” has grown shallow and has come to  describe not the essence of who each person is, but rather the things each person does. (A useful note: if I use the word “identity,” from here on, I do not mean this shallow definition, but rather the deep and all-important answer to the question that I have mentioned many times already.)

Our language might also contribute to the question being neglected. Perhaps people are scared to ask, “Who am I?” because the phrase sounds vague and shapeless to our modern ears. The way many of us say them, the words might even come across as whiny in English, which could certainly be connected to the aforementioned shallowness that has become linked to any search for identity. As a possible remedy to all of this, I tend to like the Latin translation of the words better: Quis sum ego? Maybe I am biased because I love Latin, but as most things written in Latin tend to be more serious than flippant, the language seems to better convey the weight of those three words. I can see a Roman politician with a furrowed brow sitting in the Senate at the end of the day – after all the other members have gone home to their favorite bottles of Alban wine – muttering to himself over and over, “Quis sum ego?” The character could easily be played by Charlton Heston in the  1970s Hollywood version of this digression.

Moving back to the point at hand, you might be wondering whether I have ever asked myself this question that I seem to hold in such high regard. For many years, I operated under the same shallow view of my identity as much of the rest of the world. The few times when someone actually asked me, “Who are you?” I thought this a very strange question and answered it with something like, “Well, I’m Mark, of course.” If they pressed further for a somewhat deeper answer, I would begin to mumble out obscure accomplishments, passions, and the like. I know so much about how one can avoid asking and answering this most existential question precisely because I avoided it most of my life. In fact, I never actually took a long enough look at my life to ask a question like, “Who am I?” (I still said it in English at that point) until just before my 21st birthday.

As my birthday approached, I was in the midst of the deepest identity crisis of my life. The year and a half prior had been a roller coaster of depression and confusion, and it all came to a head in those early months of 2009. My undergraduate studies were coming to an end, not because I had completed a degree, but rather because I did not have the desire to continue forward with one. The men and women whom I considered my friends had either abandoned me or had been pushed away by my actions. The hours I spent brooding in my room greatly outnumbered those spent in the company of others. I felt like I stood on the brink of a precipice being buffeted by fierce winds from all sides. Pushed to an edge so steep, I had three choices: I could jump off and offer myself to the mercy of the cliffs, I could stand on that spot and slowly whither in the winds until I was swept away like so much dust, or I could turn around and try to make my way in a different direction.

I despised the power those winds of isolation and self-loathing imposed on me, so I knew staying still could not be the way. To jump or turn? Now, don’t take that statement as an option between life and death; both paths involved my life continuing. The jump in this instance was a complete change of scenery; a jump from my comfort zone into a new and foreign world. Standing on that cliff, it seemed more logical to just continue forward rather than to turn around, and so one night, overcome with the deep sort of despair bred only in isolation and loneliness, I laid out my plan. In just one evening of frenzied work, I had chosen a new place to live, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, found a loft for rent, contacted the landlord, and figured out that by selling my car I could get enough start-up money for the flight and first month’s rent. I even found a job opening at a small store down the street from my prospective apartment and sent an e-mail to the manager. My mind was made up. Within the month I would jump off the cliff and move to Hawaii, and nothing could stop me!

My father stopped me. Truthfully, he didn’t physically stop me, but the next day I called him and I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the plan my sudden burst of action had nearly completed the night before. I took a big breath and tabled Kauai, just for the moment though, I told myself. Around this same time, as if to betray the side of me that wanted to jump off the cliff, something that had laid dormant in my soul began to resurface. I was raised in a Catholic family, but I slowly drifted away from the faith after I left for school simply because life in college was easier without a conscience. The ultimate act of “turning around” for me would be to return to that faith, and inertia makes turning very difficult. At the same time, my worldly life of passions had only brought upon me despair and pain, so I began to seek something higher. I started going back to Mass. I adamantly told those who asked me that I wasn’t really going back to Mass, though, and I made up the story that a girl I liked was drawing me there. Despite these claims, I would sometimes find myself sitting in the pews in the old brick church on the Hill without really remembering how I got there. I particularly gravitated to a Tuesday night candlelit liturgy that featured a Latin chant choir. I liked the candles, the incense, and the music because they were so beautiful, and I liked the darkness because it allowed me to think. Sometime later I wrote on this very blog that I had been, “drawn into the peaceful darkness within because the darkness without was unsettling to my soul.”

In those pews, surrounded by that peaceful darkness, I finally spoke the fateful words into the perfumed and candlelit air: “Who am I?” Like my Roman politician, I asked over and over. I asked within the context of lengthy and angry rants, and I asked through the wordless simplicity of bitter weeping. For the first time in my life, I truly asked. For the first time in my life, I truly received. No radical Divine Revelation appeared before my eyes, and no word from God Almighty entered my ears and gave me eternal peace. Instead, I received hope and a steady direction in which to travel. I turned from the cliff, and found a beautiful and narrow road called the Catholic Church. In the years since, this road has led me to the heights of the Andes and the slums of Lima. I have seen the beauty of cathedrals and the beauty of homeless shelters. I have spent time learning from lofty-minded academics and humble-souled Franciscan friars. All in search of an answer to an answerless question I posed to the darkness some three years ago this February.

So the question remains, and will always remain, “Quis sum ego?” I have come to believe, as I have already implied, that a person might never come to an end of answering this question. If one takes the previously mentioned achievement-driven view toward identity, the prospect of an unending search might cause hopelessness. It seems that one can never “do” enough to find the answer. But traveling on this Catholic road toward identity causes one to eschew that self-referential attitude and begin searching outward to some degree. When we drop the veil of individual achievism, our newly opened eyes can discover that the road is actually packed with a community of believers all seeking the same end. While we are each on our own journey, we are also all moving in the same direction. Traveling together, asking the same questions, we need not look down at our feet anymore, trying to perfect our stride, our balance, ourselves. Rather we can walk with our heads up and eyes wide, taking in the answers to be found in Creation and community around us. These companions also guide each other, pick each other up, encourage, and love. Every day on the road I learn more about myself as I learn more about others. I find it much easier to answer questions about myself by posing them to those who care about me and by experiencing the ways they ask and answer the same questions. Their stories, with my experiences, combine to illuminate the way.

It should be clear at this point that those who walk this Catholic road seeking self-knowledge together are also seeking God at the same time. I believe these searches are not only simultaneous, but actually one and the same. But is the search for God actually a necessary part of the search for self? And will that combined search ever truly lead to complete knowledge of one’s identity? My answer to both questions is ultimately yes. It may sound like a Christian cliché at first, but it seems to me that both searches will end in the same instant: death. You see, I have this sneaking suspicion that when we die and come before the Just Judge, He will look deeply, lovingly into our eyes and simply tell us who we really are. The full knowledge of how we did or did not live up to this, the ultimate reality of our being, will be our conviction and our acquittal. In that line of thinking, it follows that we should seek to know the One who will speak to us on that day, the One who understands who we are better than we do ourselves. We look to Christ as our compass for the road so that on that Day of Judgment we might have grown to know God, and therefore ourselves, well enough that the words He speaks to us might sound less strange to our ears and more like a description of the lives we just finished living moments before. Until that day when I will finally know the complete answer, I can happily respond to this ultimate human question as St. Teresa of Avila once did: “We shall never know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God.” And so together we shall endeavor.

Prayer in Distress.

Taken from Compline prayer for Tuesday nights (Psalm 143: 1-11). This struck me so deeply tonight and I had to write it down.


Lord, listen to my prayer;
turn your ear to my appeal.
You are faithful, you are just; give answer.
Do not call your servant to judgment
for no one is just in your sight.

The enemy pursues my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead, long forgotten.
Therefore my spirit fails;
my heart is numb within me.

I remember the days that are past;
I ponder all your works.
I muse on what your hand has wrought
and to you I stretch out my hands.
Like a parched land my soul thirsts for you.

Lord, make haste and answer.
for my spirit fails within me.
Do not hide your face
lest I become like those in the grave.

In the morning let me know your love
for I put my trust in you.
Make me know the way I should walk:
to you I lift up my soul.

Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will
for you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
in ways that are level and smooth.

For your name’s sake, Lord, save my life;
in your justice save my soul from distress.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever.


Late Have I Loved You.

(Still the most beautiful prayer I have ever come across, and it is just as relevant to me today as the first time I read it.)


Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness, I plunged into the lovely things which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would have not been at all.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

-St. Augustine

Campion’s Brag.

I recently began to read more about St. Edmund Campion and I love his story! St. Edmund Campion (1540-1581) was an Englishman who left his country because he desired to join the Catholic Church. After studying under St. Ignatius Loyola in Europe and becoming a Jesuit, St. Edmund was sent back to England to evangelize his people. Upon hearing of his return, the leaders of the English government hunted him without reprieve. He jumped from Catholic home to Catholic home celebrating Mass, preaching, and narrowly avoiding capture. He famously wrote this letter, explanation of his mission, and defense of the faith to his pursuers. Though he titled the apologia, “Challenge to the Privy Council,” the English disparagingly referred to it as “Campion’s Brag,” the title by which it is most commonly known today. It is one of the earliest defenses of the faith to appear in the English language during the Reformation. St. Edmund was eventually captured, tortured, subjected to a fixed trial, and then hanged, drawn and quartered at the Tyburn. St. Edmund Campion, pray for us!


To the Right Honourable, the Lords of Her Majesty’s Privy Council:

Whereas I have come out of Germany and Bohemia, being sent by my superiors, and adventured myself into this noble realm, my dear country, for the glory of God and benefit of souls, I thought it like enough that, in this busy, watchful, and suspicious world, I should either sooner or later be intercepted and stopped of my course.

Wherefore, providing for all events, and uncertain what may become of me, when God shall haply deliver my body into durance, I supposed it needful to put this in writing in a readiness, desiring your good lordships to give it your reading, for to know my cause. This doing, I trust I shall ease you of some labour. For that which otherwise you must have sought for by practice of wit, I do now lay into your hands by plain confession. And to the intent that the whole matter may be conceived in order, and so the better both understood and remembered, I make thereof these nine points or articles, directly, truly and resolutely opening my full enterprise and purpose.

i. I confess that I am (albeit unworthy) a priest of the Catholic Church, and through the great mercy of God vowed now these eight years into the religion [religious order] of the Society of Jesus. Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and also resigned all my interest or possibility of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldly felicity.

ii. At the voice of our General, which is to me a warrant from heaven and oracle of Christ, I took my voyage from Prague to Rome (where our General Father is always resident) and from Rome to England, as I might and would have done joyously into any part of Christendom or Heatheness, had I been thereto assigned.

iii. My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors—in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused.

iv. I never had mind, and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts.

v. I do ask, to the glory of God, with all humility, and under your correction, three sorts of indifferent and quiet audiences: the first, before your Honours, wherein I will discourse of religion, so far as it toucheth the common weal and your nobilities: the second, whereof I make more account, before the Doctors and Masters and chosen men of both universities, wherein I undertake to avow the faith of our Catholic Church by proofs innumerable—Scriptures, councils, Fathers, history, natural and moral reasons: the third, before the lawyers, spiritual and temporal, wherein I will justify the said faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing yet in force and practice.

vi. I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man’s foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.

vii. And because it hath pleased God to enrich the Queen my Sovereign Lady with notable gifts of nature, learning, and princely education, I do verily trust that if her Highness would vouchsafe her royal person and good attention to such a conference as, in the second part of my fifth article I have motioned, or to a few sermons, which in her or your hearing I am to utter such manifest and fair light by good method and plain dealing may be cast upon these controversies, that possibly her zeal of truth and love of her people shall incline her noble Grace to disfavour some proceedings hurtful to the realm, and procure towards us oppressed more equity.

viii. Moreover I doubt not but you, her Highness’ Council, being of such wisdom and discreet in cases most important, when you shall have heard these questions of religion opened faithfully, which many times by our adversaries are huddled up and confounded, will see upon what substantial grounds our Catholic Faith is builded, how feeble that side is which by sway of the time prevaileth against us, and so at last for your own souls, and for many thousand souls that depend upon your government, will discountenance error when it is bewrayed [revealed], and hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.

ix. If these my offers be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour. I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us his grace, and see us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.