Skip to comments.Michael Davies, R.I.P.
Posted on 09/26/2004 4:54:51 PM PDT by bonaventura
Michael Davies, R.I.P
On Saturday, September 25, the great Michael Davies died. After a long and courageous battle with cancer, Mr. Davies was taken, perhaps mercifully by the Divine Judge, of a massive heart attack. The debt we all owe this extraordinary individual cannot be measured. We have lost a friend and mentor, the traditional movement has lost its uncontested elder statesman, and the Church has lost one of her greatest defenders of all time.
Though he was not martyred, the name Davies can surely and without hesitation be placed alongside those of More, Fisher and Campion, as men who gave their lives to the defense of the Holy, Roman Catholic Church in times of unparalleled attack.
We are shocked, stunned and saddened beyond belief by his passing. But for now, well say and write nothing more. It is time to mourn a great and noble Catholic. May his soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
REQUIEM aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.
ETERNAL rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
". . .In recent years I have become concerned at the negative attitude of some traditional Catholics who seem more concerned with who and what we are against rather than what we are for. The martyr priests of England and Wales were not engaged in constant tirades against the Protestant establishment who had overthrown the Catholic Church in England and Wales and stripped it of its immediate assets. They preached the faith and they kept the faith. I am firmly of the belief that we all need heroes and heroines, and, in doing my best to put some of our greatest but least known before the traditionalist faithful, I will be putting what remains of my life to good use. . ."
The Death of Father Fortescue
A good number of friends have asked me how I reacted when I got the news of my illness. Did I feel that God had been a little hard on me? Quite the opposite. I gave Him thanks for what I consider the greatest blessing that He could have bestowed upon me. To be given an eighteen-month warning of the day that will decide my fate for all eternity is a great privilege, and when I received the news I gave thanks to God, and thought immediately of Father Adrian Fortescue, one of my very greatest heroes. Father Fortescue is certainly the greatest authority on the history of our traditional Roman Rite that the English-speaking world has ever known. I have combined his principal essays on the Roman Rite into my book The Wisdom of Adrian Fortescue.
Adrian Fortescue (1874-1923) was a priest of unique and remarkable talents who truly merited the title of genius. He was probably the most outstanding scholar among the clergy of the English-speaking world in the first three decades of the last century. He could not only speak but also lecture in eleven languages, was an authority on the classics, an artist of considerable talent, the greatest calligrapher of his generation, a recognized authority on heraldry, a talented musician and composer, possessed an unrivalled knowledge of the Eastern Churches (his books on them still remain classics), and he is certainly the greatest authority on the Roman Rite that the English-speaking world has ever known.
I do not have the least hesitation in claiming that The Wisdom of Adrian Fortescue is the most valuable resource on the Roman Rite to be found in the English-speaking world. It has been the least popular of my books, and I would urge as many readers as possible to order it from The Remnant Bookstore. I have asked Michael to try to make you a special offer. Once again, I must absolve myself from any suspicion of an ego trip, because not one word of the essays has been written by me. They consist of pure Fortescue.
In the midst of life, this amazing scholar was unexpectedly and cruelly called away with much of his work unfinished. Hed reached his 49th year without any serious illness, felt pains in his stomach, and on 20 December 1922, Dr. Fiddian, his general practitioner, diagnosed the presence of cancer in his patient and sent him to a Harley Street specialist on the very next day.
His cancer was terminal and he could not last more than a few weeks. An operation would have left him a helpless cripple. In typical Fortescue manner, he returned calmly to his parish, celebrated all the Christmas Masses, did what he could to put his papers and the parish finances in order, felt sad at the books he was writing but could not finish, and preached a final sermon to his flock on 31st December "Christ our Friend and Comforter."
In that sermon, he explained the meaning of the Nativity in profound but simple terms. I picked, he said, from all births, one birth for remembrance, and thats not just the birth of a human child but the special visitation of God to Earth. This was the idea of the Epiphany Heaven had visited Earth," and this visitation is the foundation upon which the Christian religion rests. Everything in Heaven became incarnate in that birth and life. The Christian religion was not a system of difficult doctrines; all we had to do was love Christ and obey Him. We need not be great philosophers, nor worry ourselves with recondite facts; we have our gospels, and our Friend is portrayed in them. Everyone wants a friend, and Christ is the best of friends. One could not even be sure of one's own friends; they forget or go away; but, whatever happens, Christ will not leave us; He will keep us company even in sorrow and death. He will not take away all evil from our circumstance, or all trials from our path. These are the terms on which we are put into the world, and we do wrong to expect or claim security; no security exists for any mortal thing subject to the laws of nature. Christ's office is to comfort us through all, for He has been through all Himself. Our heaviest burden cannot be heavier than was His, nor our road harder than was His to His sacred feet. He had gone before us into all dark places, and will strengthen us in those we have to go through. The final outcome of all is good; no evil is infinite, for the world is not governed by an evil demon, but by a living God. Meanwhile the best road for us all is the road of duty, the acceptance of tasks and their brave performance, irrespective of the pain or joy they might bring us. In following this path we will have the comfort of our dear Friend who will sustain us in weariness, cold and hunger. We must say always: "He will never leave me." Each year we can think this thought: Heaven has visited earth.
That is all I have to say
Dr. Fortescue concluded his sermon with the words: "That is all I have to say." In view of his impending death, this was profoundly true in a sense that, probably, he did not intend. Despite his awe-inspiring erudition, the faith of this great priest had been basically a simple one, like that of such great saints as the Curé d'Ars or St. Pius X. It was based not on a set of abstract propositions but on a deep and personal relationship with Christ our Friend and Comforter. All that is necessary to save our souls is to love and obey Him, even when He asks us to follow Him along the path of suffering that His own sacred feet had taken for our salvation. That was all that he had to say, and what is there that he or any other preacher could have added to this simple message. Dr. Fortescue was now about to live in death what he had preached in life.
On 3 January 1923, Dr. Fortescue left Letchworth for Dollis Hill Hospital, where he died of cancer on 11 February. Before leaving his parish of St. Hugh for what he knew would be the last time in his life, to took the train for London, he bade his little church a lone and final farewell, and was seen kissing silently the altar-stone upon which he had so often offered that holy sacrifice about which he had written so profoundly.
It came as no surprise to his congregation, who prayed for him unceasingly, to learn from those who were with him in his last illness that his mind dwelt constantly during those weeks of agony on the sufferings of Our Lord, and that he many times refused morphine in his determination to persevere along the "royal road of pain" one of the expressions he had used each year in his little church at Letchworth during his Lenten sermons on the Passion, which had held the congregation spellbound. To preach upon the "royal road" is one thing, to walk upon it is another. This great priest died on 11 February 1923, at the age of forty-nine with the name of Jesus on his lips.
I have mentioned friends asking whether I felt that that God had been a little hard on me. Father Fortescue has given us the answer:
"He will keep us company even in sorrow and death. He will not take away all evil from our circumstance, or all trials from our path. These are the terms on which we are put into the world, and we do wrong to expect or claim security; no security exists for any mortal thing subject to the laws of nature. Christ's office is to comfort us through all, for He has been through all Himself."
The very idea that God could be hard on us, let alone too hard on us, is blasphemous, and, in this case, I repeat, I give Him thanks for what I consider the greatest blessing that He could have bestowed upon me, eighteen months or more to sort out my priorities.
I think this is splendid point that Mr. Davies makes here. We are for the faith of our Fathers!
Where do you get that?
May he rest in peace and may the perpetual light shine upon him.
What a Catholic he was!
We will miss him greatly.
A brilliant light has gone out in this world.
May the Perpetual Light shine upon the soul of God's faithful servant, Michael Davies, and upon the souls of all of the faithful departed through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
To honor the legacy of Michael Davies, may I respectfully suggest that we all strive a little more fervently to restore the traditional Latin Mass - the Source and Summit of our Faith - to Roman Catholic altars everywhere.
Though many brave warriors of the caliber of Michael Davies and Walter Matt have fiercely fought against the siege of the last 40 years, the battle is still far from won.
As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I had great respect for Michael Davies. He knew what he believed, and he was able to articulate it beautifully and clearly. His was not a religion of greys and neutral shades. May he rest in peace...
I don't want to start a flame fest. If you want to discuss my comments with me further, please FReepmail me. You are right that he stayed within the Church, and his organization, Una Voce, advocated such a position. However, I recall seeing criticism of both Davies and his organization, due to his traditionalism. That's why I made that request.
Why doesn't one hear translations this beautiful in modern Roman Catholic Churches?
In my fairly extensive collection of prayer and liturgical books, some of my more prized possessions are a St. Joseph's Missal in traditional liturgical English, an old Douay-Rheims in traditional liturgical English, and a parallel Latin/English Psalter in traditional liturgical English.
When, where, and how was the decision made to jettison the traditional language translations that had been done within the Roman Catholic Church earlier in the century, in favor of the new style of modern English that is ubiquitous in modern Catholic parishes?
"Why doesn't one hear translations this beautiful in modern Roman Catholic Churches?"
That is the $64 million question!
As a result of the 2nd Vatican Council it was decided to allow the liturgy to be celebrated in the venacular in some parts. Unfortunately the modernists quickly got hold of this project with the aim of translating the whole Mass into a modern "man-in-the-street" vernacular using the liberal translation principles of dynamic equivalence. This change took place somewhere between 1965 and 1970.
The Church is still struggling with the damaging consequences of this change to this day. The orthodox believers want as a minimum to see a reverent and accurate translation (if not return to the Latin), whereas the dregs of the 1960's hippies who have ascended to the episcopate are desperately trying to cling on to their dumbed-down semi-heretical street-patois.
It may be off-topic, but it was interesting that an Orthodox Christian could spot the difference so quickly when so many of our co-religionists either cannot see the difference or prefer the banal secularity of the modern.
Acutely, or terminally, deficient phronema is my diagnosis!
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