Chris used to steady himself in this storm of words as well as he could, by reflecting that he probably would not have to make a decision, for it would be done for him, at least as regarded his life in the convent or out, by his superiors. Or again he would fix his mind resolutely on his approaching priesthood; while the Prior sat gnawing his lips, playing with his cross and rapping his foot, before bursting out again and bidding them all be silent, for they knew not what they were meddling with.
The misery rose to its climax when the Injunctions arrived; and the chapter sat far into the morning, meeting again after dinner to consider them.
These were directions, issued to the clergy throughout the country, by the authority of the King alone; and this very fact was significant of what the Royal Supremacy meant. Some of them did not touch the Religious, and were intended only for parish-priests; but others were bitterly hard to receive.
The community was informed that in future, once in every quarter, a sermon was to be preached against the Bishop of Rome’s usurped power; the Ten Articles, previously issued, were to be brought before the notice of the congregation; and careful instructions were to be given as regards superstition in the matter of praying to the saints. It was the first of these that caused the most strife.
Dom Anthony, who was becoming more and more the leader of the conservative party, pointed out that the See of Peter was to every Catholic the root of authority and unity, and that Christianity itself was imperilled if this rock were touched.
The Prior angrily retorted that it was not the Holy See that was to be assaulted, but the erection falsely raised upon it; it was the abuse of power, not the use of it that had to be denounced.
Dom Anthony requested the Prior to inform him where the line of distinction lay; and the Prior in answer burst into angry explanations, instancing the pecuniary demands of the Pope, the appointment of foreigners to English benefices, and all the rest of the accusations that were playing such a part now in the religious controversy of the country.