Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Was Shakespeare Catholic?

Of all the things to be thinking about right now: Johannine Literature, Prophetic Literature, Moral Theology ... I suppose this is my escape. There's a lot of writing out there about this question. Fr. John Klockeman raised it at the lunch table today and I stated with all the authority granted by an English Major from the University of St. Thomas, "I think the book is pretty much closed on that. He was Catholic."

People with much more time for the scholarship have given lots of study to the question and tried to find clues in his works to decided the question. Others, more inclined to historical study, have gone through his biography to try and make a determination. Both techniques have to guess at the "lost years" of Shakespeare's life. Joseph Pearce does a rather unique study that tries to blend the approaches. In that work, he suggests a number of passages that, based on time of composition, could be understood as reflecting a sort of catharsis for Shakespeare's suffering in the midst of the religious upheavals. Whether or not one is convinced by the evidence, Shakespeare always makes good reading. Here's a passage from King Lear that might give evidence of how Shakespeare understood the plight of those Jesuits and other priests who were locked away in the tower simply for the crime of being priests:

LEAR: No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of Court news. And we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins, who's in, who's out,
And take upon's the mystery of things
As if we were God's spies. And we'll wear out,
In a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.