St. Edmund Campion, S.J.

St. Edmund Campion, S.J.
Posted on 12/01/2017
Martyr of England

On this day in 1581, Fr. Edmund Campion was dragged through the muddy streets of London to his death; he was charged with treason to England.  King Henry VIII required all citizens to acknowledge the monarch as head of the Church in England.  Catholics loyal to the universal Church lost property, position and even their lives.  They practiced their religion in secret and were starved for the sacraments.  Priests risked death.  A Catholic seminary in Douai, France, trained priests who would re-enter the country to minister in secret.  

The Society opened a mission to England in 1580, “to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors,”  in Edmund Campion’s words.  Everyone knew this English mission would be a field of martyrs.  Fr. Campion was in the first wave of the Society’s English Mission, “for the glory of God and benefit of souls.” (Fr. Campion).  Fr. Campion made it clear that he was a loyal servant of Queen Elizabeth in temporal matters, but, also, religiously, to the pope as “vicar of Christ.”  

Ministry to faithful Catholics – but hidden- took him from one private home to another for a year, always in disguise, always a step ahead of his pursuers, seldom more than one night in one place.  Priest-hunters were on his trail; their moment would come.  An informer knew Fr. Campion was to celebrate a Mass at a home in Berkshire.  He informed the local magistrate; Fr. Campion was arrested and taken to the Tower of London.  After a great deal of torture – and the Queen’s attempt to  lure him into a successful career in the Church of England – he was given his day in court.  The rack had rendered him almost unable to move – he could not raise his hand take the courtroom oath.  He refused to recant his loyalty to the pope and his Church; he, again, stated he was a loyal servant of the Queen, but a faithful Catholic.  

The verdict was guilt by treason; his sentence: to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.
“Ours” Jesuit Portraits, M.C. Durkin

The patron saint of our SJJ Campion Hall Theater Society is Fr. Campion. We pray in thanks for our yearly fall play and spring musical which carry on the Jesuit tradition of theater bringing a spiritual influence on both actors and audience. $4,327 was raised by the SJJ athletic department at last Friday’s Foundation Game.  This money will go to Dr. Rich Paat ’78 and his medical mission to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.  Please pray for Dr. Paat and his mission – Dr. Paat also is with SJJ every Monday night on Labre to give medical attention to all those whom we serve.  Tonight, SJJ’s longtime teacher, basketball coach, and counselor Mr. Ed Heintschel will be honored for his service.  Our SJJ Titan Dome basketball floor will bear his name. Pray for Mr. Heintschel on his special day and for his team.  St. Edmund Campions S.J., pray for us.  St. John Berchmans, pray for us.  St. Ignatius, pray for us.

“God permits desolation to try us, to see how much we are worth.  Impurities are removed from gold by fire – quite literally, the trial by fire proves how much the gold is worth.” (St. Ignatius Loyola)

C.S. Lewis in his book The Screwtape Letters, a work of theological satire consisting of letters written by a senior demon named Screwtape to an apprentice explaining the ways of God (the Enemy).  God will not override human will, Screwtape explains.  “He cannot ravish.  He can only woo.”  He continues:  “God wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.  Do not be deceived, our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our God’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.  
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