Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Walsingham, which is England’s premier Marian Shrine. It seems the perfect day to highlight just one of our newest titles, ‘A Brief History of English Catholicism’.
We spoke to the author, Fr Nicholas Schofield, asking him to tell us more about the booklet and its aims.
CTSCompass: What inspired you to write this title?
Fr Schofield: “It grew out of a talk that I have given frequently over the last 8 years or so, ‘A Catholic History of England in 45 Minutes’. People often asked if there was a book covering this subject and so eventually I decided to fill the gap myself. I am Archivist of the Archdiocese of Westminster, have written several books on English Catholic history and am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Perhaps most importantly, my passion is to provide ‘ordinary’ Catholics with an appreciation of our rich history and culture.”
CTSCompass: Why do you think this particular aspect of the history of the Church is so important?
Fr Schofield: “The Catholic history of England is largely hidden and forgotten but discovering its main riches gives us an appreciation of the workings of grace over the centuries, an understanding of where we are today and a sense of mission for the future. As Catholics, we should love our history and research the story of the Church in our own area as much as we can. And there are no other books in print giving a one volume history of Catholic England – especially within 60 pages! The aim is to give a broad framework in which the reader can slot the knowledge they already have.”
CTSCompass:: What do you hope readers will gain from reading A Brief history of English Catholicism?
Fr Schofield: “An understanding of our particular history, an appreciation of the many achievements of English Catholics, an understanding of the many continuities that we see in our own day, a greater love of the Church, a desire to discover more and a sense of how God works through individuals and groups. There is a paragraph in the booklet that sums this up which I would like to quote:
‘Every detail of the past shows the presence of Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of History. He was present in those who brought the Gospel to England and in the country’s many saints. He was present in the sufferings of the martyrs and the quiet perseverance of the recusants. He was present in those who went into exile to train priests or pray for England’s conversion. He was present in the lives of those who built our parishes and schools, the servants of the Second Spring. Now He is present in us. We are links in this great chain of Faith. Let us pray that we will be faithful and courageous as we write the next chapter of this story.'”
‘A Brief History of English Catholicism’ is available from CTS, priced £2.50.
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