Blessed Roger Dicconson, Blessed Ralph Milner, and Blessed Lawrence Humphrey (died 1591). Each of these holy men faced persecution and death without fear, confident in the Lord, ready to die for our faith. Their lives and deaths remind us of the importance of our beliefs, and their sacrifice inspires us to live more confidently in the Lord.
The Catholic Church was persecuted in England for quite some time, particularly under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. I have previously written about Blessed Edward Jones and Anthony Middleton, Saint Margaret Clitherow, Saint Nicholas Owen, and Saints Thomas More and John Fisher. The three holy men we remember today join the ranks of over 40 martyrs who gave their lives for the faith in England.
Ralph Milner met Father Dicconson after he was imprisoned for being Catholic. Ralph had grown up in Flacstead, Hampshire, and tended a family farm there. He was married, and he and his wife had raised eight children in the Protestant faith. Ralph’s neighbors, who were Catholic, inspired him to convert through their goodness and charity, and along with his entire family, he received instruction and welcome into the Church. The very day that he received his first Holy Eucharist, he was arrested and imprisoned. By all accounts a cheerful and well behaved man, the guards of the prison took to Ralph instantly. Rather than leave him locked up, they offered him frequent passes out of prison to buy supplies, food, and perform simple tasks. One of his tasks—unbeknownst to the guards—was to tend to the spiritual needs of the other Catholic prisoners by bringing them undercover priests, such as Father Dicconson.
"All you have to do," the judge declared, "is pay a to a Protestant church, just for a few minutes, to say you have been there. I'll let you go free to be with your family." Without hesitation, Ralph quietly and firmly refused, proclaiming he would rather die for his faith, and refusing "to embrace a counsel so disagreeable to the maxims of the Gospel." Despite every effort by the judge and the guards who had come to like him, Ralph was unshaken in his resolution. After giving his children his last blessing, he declared that "he could wish them no greater happiness than to die for the like cause.” Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened: Ralph Milner, Lawrence Humphrey, and Father Dicconson were hung, drawn, and quartered on July 7, 1591.
Inspired by the origins and spiritual history of the Holy Rosary, we continue our meditation on the psalms, one each day, in order, for 150 days. The three holy martyrs we celebrate today clung to their beliefs and goodness, preferring to be persecuted and killed in this world, rather than falsely happy.
Today’s Psalm: Psalm 73: The False Happiness of the Wicked
1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, "How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?"
12 This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.
13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.
15 If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
20 As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
Day 188 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Confidence and deep faith in the Lord.
Requested Intentions: Infant in Intensive Care (N); Employment (K); Employment; Discernment of God’s will (A); Healing of illness (P); Small business assistance, blessings on jobs, financial aid for college student (M); Financial assistance (F); For a recovery and sanctification (X); For a daughter struggling with disease and illness (T); For all lost children (I); Prosperity, health, healing, and conversion for a family (M); Health and healing of a mother (A); Healing of heart and mind (T); Healing of a new relationship before marriage (K); Healing of a relationship (T); Eternal rest for the dearly departed, end to financial struggles, successful sale of home, ability to travel on pilgrimage (L); For healing of a stomach illness (L); For the repose of the soul of a sister (C); Vocational security for family, Financial security for daughter beginning college (M); Vocational guidance, courage and strength (I); Health for an ailing nephew (A); Those suffering from depression (J); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).
Psalm: Psalm 73: The False Happiness of the Wicked
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."