Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Spiritual Stature in Ambivalent Times

Benson, Robert Hugh.  Kindle Edition. 

Earlier I reported my joy at having read a Robert Hugh Benson novel entitled "By What Authority?" Meantime I have thoroughly enjoyed two more.

"The King's Achievement" visits some of the same characters from the English Catholic gentry, but of a generation earlier in the reign of King Henry VIII. I would be hard pressed to say which of the two novels I prefer. This one cameo's St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More in life and in martyrdom, while offering an impelling character sketch of Cromwell, besides.

More than anything, I think I enjoyed the process of vocational discernment in the lives of Chris and Margaret. Benson is profound and does an eminent job of describing all his characters. If you enjoy this genre of the hagiographical, historical novel, please be assured of another winner in "The King's Achievement".


The History of Richard Raynal, Solitary. 
Benson, Robert Hugh. Kindle Edition. 

This work of Benson's transports one back to much more Catholic times in England and purports to be the elaboration of a partial manuscript discovered on a pilgrimage to Rome:

"It is impossible to know for certain who was this king, but I am inclined to believe that it was Henry VI., the founder of Eton College and King's College, Cambridge, whose life ended in such tragedy towards the close of the fifteenth century. His Queen is not mentioned from beginning to end, and for this and other reasons I am inclined to particularise still more, and conjecture that the period of which the book treats must be prior to the year 1445 A.D., when the King married at the age of twenty-three. Supposing that these conjectures are right, the cardinal spoken of in the book would be Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and cousin of the King. All this, however, must be doubtful, since the translator of the original English or Latin appears to have omitted with scrupulous care the names of all personages occurring in the narrative, with one or two unimportant exceptions. We do not even know in what part of the country Sir John Chaldfield held his living, but it appears to have been within thirty or forty miles of London." (p. 5) 

Quirky, perhaps, but this brief book of only 80 pages offers timeless and profound insights into the spiritual life of a whole series of persons differently called. That such a solitary as Richard Raynal could exist, I have no doubt. What plays out in terms of his acceptance of a share in the Passion of our loving Lord and Savior is eminently accessible and an invitation to all who would follow Christ more closely.

Take and read! If you haven't already made an investment, I see that Kindle is offering Benson in one volume:

Collected Works of Robert Hugh Benson 
Benson, Robert Hugh.  
Minerva Classics. Kindle Edition. 

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