20 October 2016

Fatima (4): Mary and the Martyrs

"Beneath the arms of the cross angels gather up the blood of the martyrs, and with it they give life to the souls making their way to God. Here, the blood of Christ and the blood of the martyrs are considered as one: the blood of the martyrs runs down from the arms of the cross. The martyrs die in communion with the Passion of Christ, and their death becomes one with his. For the sake of the body of Christ, they complete what is still lacking in his afflictions (cf. Colossians 1:24). Their life has itself become a Eucharist, part of the mystery of the grain of wheat which in dying yields abundant fruit. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians, said Tertullian. As from Christ's death, from his wounded side, the Church was born, so the death of the witnesses is fruitful for the future life of the Church. Therefore, the vision of the third part of the "secret", so distressing at first, concludes with an image of hope: no suffering is in vain, and it is a suffering Church, a Church of martyrs, which becomes a sign-post for man in his search for God. The loving arms of God welcome not only those who suffer like Lazarus, who found great solace there and mysteriously represents Christ, who wished to become for us the poor Lazarus. There is something more: from the suffering of the witnesses there comes a purifying and renewing power, because their suffering is the actualisation of the suffering of Christ himself and a communication in the here and now of its saving effect."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 2000.

19 October 2016

Fatima (3): some prehistory

The Fatima visionaries, poor little peasant mites, are unlikely to have known this; but, in the first millennium, May 13 was sometimes a festival of our Lady within the Roman Rite. To me, who incline to share S John Paul's view that in the workings of Providence there are no coincidences, this seems interesting.

This is how it happened. In 609, Pope S Boniface IV dedicated the old Roman Pantheon, built originally by Marcus 'Actium' Agrippa but subsequently rebuilt after a fire, as the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. He did this in the presence of the emperor Phocas ... not an altogether nice chap, but possibly the last emperor, I think, not to use the style Basileus; it had thus taken more than six centuries to dissipate the old Roman gut sentiment which animated Brutus and his associates, to the effect that no-one in Rome ought to deem himself Rex ... but I'm rambling again ...

Phocas donated an Ikon of our Lady which is still enthroned above the Altar of that Church; and the relics of many of the martyrs were disinterred and brought into the church; hence its name. This was the period when Marian Ikons, and relics of Saints, used to be processed round the wall of Constantinople when barbarian enemies appeared on the scene; I rather suspect that Phocas and Pope S Boniface had in mind to construct a defensive powerhouse in Old Rome rather than merely to stimulate pious devotion.

In the early centuries of the English Church, this festival on May 13 seems to have been important. The Leofric Missal, the Altar Book of the early Archbishops of Canterbury, based on texts brought to England by S Augustine, includes it and, interestingly, demonstrates the continuing relevance of this festival by including in the text later scribal additions and adaptations. Perhaps the Church of S Mary in Canterbury emulated the mother church in Rome. Something similar appears to have happened in Exeter (to which the Leofric Missal was later taken), where a Saxon church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres lay, I think, West of the present Cathedral and on the same axis.

I am sure that the significance of the Martyrs will have struck readers. The Third Secret of Fatima is full of the theme of Martyrs and Martyrdom; indeed, we are still living in an Age of Martyrs which rivals any earlier such age. I would draw the attention of those who do not know it to the official CDF documentary collection of 2000, The Message of Fatima, and especially to the fine and elegant exposition by Cardinal Ratzinger. I hope to contribute a post about this (his page 42 resonates particularly with me).

Sancta Maria ad Martyres, indeed.

18 October 2016

Cardinal Cupich ...

... is undoubtedly right to suggest that, when people have in conscience come to a particular conclusion, we should follow and support them. He has my support, 150%. I am filled with enthusiasm for where his principles, in my judgement, will lead.

Clearly, when a paedophile priest concludes that, in carefully judged and exceptional circumstances, his caring and loving attentions to a child are for the good, and for the maturity, of that child (a conclusion identical with the wisdom of ancient Athenian aristocratic society), it is not for sick, narrow-minded and crabbed "Traditionalists" to interfere. Few things even in the Ratzinger pontificate were more disgraceful than his use in this context of the word "Filth". Talk about stirring up prejudice!!

And when it becomes clear to a conscientious politician that a carefully controlled and, of course, limited experiment in genocide is the best way of eliminating divisive and unproductive inter-ethnic frictions, the "Traditionalists" should not be allowed to intrude their own private opinions into the public forum. "Keep your hands off my gas chambers/machetes" should be our slogan. Clergy should keep well out of politics. 'Freedom of Worship', yes; but no freedom for those who wish to impose their own prejudice-ridden religious hang-ups upon an open and pluralist society. They must be 'No-platformed' in order to preserve a 'Safe Space' for women and men of Conscience.

True, S John Paul II in his Veritatis splendor claimed that there were certain sorts of things which were always objectively and totally wrong, but we all know where to advise the "Traditionalists" to shove that peculiarly antiquated document ... as well as Familiaris consortio and all the Ratzinger stuff.

Cupich may not, himself, have yet discerned the full exciting promise and beautiful ultimate flowering of his teachings, but he is entitled to be thought of as the true godfather of the Even Newer Morality of the Even More Caring Church! A real place in History!

18 October: S Eadnoth of Dorchester

The 1,000 anniversary of the Heavenly Birthday, Natale, of S Eadnoth Bishop of Dorchester. He was killed while saying Mass during the Battle of Assandun.

The victorious Danes killed him; I expect I will be criticised for suggesting that it shows more respect ... indeed, fear ... for the power of the Sacrifice of the Mass, to kill the priest who is offering it for the victory of your enemies than it does just to dismiss the Eucharist as some irrelevance by which nobody need feel threatened. Might the recent killer of Fr Hamel be a millimetre closer to Truth than the Obama, with its campaign to replace the 'Freedom of Religion' which it so loathes with a 'Freedom of Worship' about which it couldn't care less?

S Eadnoth ended up being buried at Ely. His own Cathedral Church at Dorchester, just South of Oxford, was to lose that status half a century later under the Normans, when the sedes episcopalis was transferred to Winchester. S Eadnoth's church, or rather, the gothic Abbey Church built over its site, was once, but is no longer, a dynamic Anglo-Catholic centre with a Missionary College attached.

At the beginning of this millennium, the shrine of its founder S Birinus was reconstructed. That reconstruction is superbly emblematic of all that is pathetic about a faded and meaningless middle-of-the-road Anglicanism devoid of real content. On top of the now pointless masonry there is no feretory containing relics; attached to its west end there is no Altar for the August Sacrifice. The C of E is terribly good at milking 'heritage' and demonstrating a polite interest in the past, but has no real awareness of any interaction between the Now and the Supernatural. (The church is in the hands of a 'woman priest'.) In Kenneth Kirk's pontificate, the Anglican Bishop Suffragan of Dorchester was permitted, once a year on S Birinus' feast in December, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester with all the dignities of a Diocesan Bishop, including the presence of the famed and feared Staggers Serving Team commanded by Canon Couratin.  

Sic transit gloria mundi.

But you can find the supernatural a little way away, in the lovely little Victorian Catholic Church of S Birinus, beautifully restored by the admirable Fr Osman, who celebrates the Old Mass in it, and was one of the 45 assertores Veritatis who signed the recent Letter to the Cardinals.

Luci cedant tenebrae, et cedunt.

17 October 2016

Fatima (2) ... looking ahead to 2017

I'm sure somebody will be able to answer this: is there an authorised Mass for our Lady of Fatima in the Extraordinary Form? Of course, it is easy enough to confect one, because all you need to do is to take the OF Collect and insert it into the EF Commune of our Lady or into the Mass of her Immaculate Heart (or possibly into some other Marian text in the aliquibus locis?). And one can certainly argue that, in the present situation, necessitas would justify doing that without explicit authorisation. But the case must surely have already arisen of Old Rite pilgrimages to Fatima feeling this need. Has anything ... presumably, I mean by Ecclesia Dei ... been officially done? If not, who should do what? Ecclesia Dei has sometimes operated by means of very quietly allowing it to be understood that x or y or even z would not seem to them to be too, too terribly wicked ...

The EF ought to be brought up to date, not least as far as concerns its Calendar; and Benedict XVI explicitly envisaged this. (In the old days, Rome did this frequently by adding things to aliquibus locis, from which they sometimes subsequently slipped across into the Calendare Universale.) Sadly, the treatment which Traditionalists experienced for decades, during the period before Benedict XVI made it clear that the Old Mass never had lawfully been abrogated, has made them ... us ... fearful of any tinkerings. But surely a consensual way of putting this process, delicately, sensitively, gently, into effect, would be to start with May 13. Would anybody violently object to May 13 being made the festival of our Lady of Fatima? This would necessitate the removal of S Robert Bellarmine (possibly to his OF date of September 17). Surely, it is within the competence of Ecclesia Dei to do this? Having perhaps sought the opinion and good will first of SSPX, FSSP, and other major interests?

16 October 2016

A Fatima Holy Year ? (1)

Last Thursday was the 99th anniversary of the last Fatima Apparition: the one which included the Miracle of the Sun. Next year, May 13 is the centenary of the First Apparition.

We get a lot of Special Years. Some are more overtly successful than others. Pius XII had a liking for Marian Years. I had great hopes of the Pauline Year, a joint initiative of the Sees of Rome and New Rome, since I feel close to the S Paul whose epistles I taught for nearly three decades, to the great benefit of myself, whatever the experience may have done to my students. Pope Benedict hoped that the Year of Faith would open the pages of Vatican II. Now we have the Year of Mercy; its spiritual graces are known to God. But in PR terms, it has been cleverly managed; all those doors have served to keep the idea alive in the minds of many.

2017 should be a Fatima Year. Clearly, the Vatican has not pronounced it such. But Papal bright ideas are not the only gifts the Almighty has for his Church. It is open to bishops, priests, and people to create a Holy Year which, rather than being imposed from above upon us below, arises spontaneously from the love God has set in our hearts for His immaculate Mother ... a Holy Year by popular acclamation and devotion.

Arrangement are in hand for the Travelling Statue, blessed by Roman Pontiffs, to tour this country accompanied by relics of two of the visionaries ... I wonder if it will include Oxford in its travels. Many will recall the spectacular grace-filled visit of S Therese in 2009: the Oratory crawling with Pontifical Masses, Private Masses, queues for the confessionals, Solemn EF Vespers, Rosaries galore  ...

The most holy Theotokos protected Christendom from Islamic onslaughts so many times over two millennia; who would have thought that we would be calling on the hypermakhos strategos yet again in this third millennium? Has she got to do it all over again: pounding from the slaughter-painted poop, Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop, Scarlet running over on the silver and the golds, Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds ... In our own Western societies, our home-grown corruptions are, possibly, even more corrosively dangerous than the external threats because we have grown resigned to them. We can arrange our own domestic problems for the Victrix of Lepanto to line up in her sights.

The Victory is already won. Her Son has said tharseite, ego nenikeka ton kosmon: where (John 16:33) the Greek perfect tense nenikeka indicates a present fact constituted by a decisive action in the past. The Victory is there; mopping up operations are all that is left.

That is why our Lady of Victories can confidently predict: My Immaculate Heart will prevail.

15 October 2016

An interesting little old document (2)

At the heart of the Liturgical Commission which produced this document were men whose life had involved the constant use of the Canon Romanus, or sympathetic study of it. Canon A H Couratin; Professor E C Ratcliffe; Dr R C D Jasper; Dr G G Willis. I think their presence largely shaped the structure and details of this draft Eucharistic Prayer.

The intrusive, unscriptural, orientalising, notion that the Holy Spirit needs to be invoked in order to accomplish the Consecration of the Eucharistic Elements, is totally absent from this draft. I must explain that the 'Epiclesis' had in fact, rather earlier, been quite popular. It had been part of the 'ecumenical' and highly influential rites produced by the Church of South India (1954), and the Taize Community (1962). More important, it had featured even earlier in the (abortive) 1928 Eucharistic Prayer. But the popularity of the 'Epiclesis' among Anglicans interested in Liturgy suffered from its having been associated with '1928'. This was because the persuasive and popular figure of Dom Gregory Dix argued vigorously in his highly influential The Shape of the Liturgy (1945) that it was 'unprimitive'. And although Dix was as mistakenly enthusiastic as his contemporaries in his promotion of the work then, erroneously, thought to be the Apostolic Tradition of 'Hippolytus', his own edition of that document argued that the Invocation of the Spirit was not original to it. It is probably largely because of Dix's very determined hatchet-job on '1928' that it, and the epiclesis, never resurfaced in the liturgical politics of the two post-war decades.

Less well-known than Dix, but equally dismissive of 'epicletic' notions of Eucharistic Consecration, was my own much-loved teacher, to whom I owe a lot, the great Canadian scholar G D Kilpatrick, Dean Ireland Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture in this University. The Experimental Liturgy which he published (Remaking the Liturgy 1967), and which we experienced in a 'demonstration celebration' at Staggers (Kilpatrick's own former seminary), had no truck with any sort of Epiclesis.

The Second Series had been drafted in 1965. In that terrible 'year of revolutions' 1968, the Vatican authorised the three disastrous 'Alternative Eucharistic Prayers' which have so blighted the life of the Latin churches, and all three of them in lemming-like harmony incorporated sub-Eastern-style Epicleses. As the Anglican generation which had known Dix, Jasper, Willis, and Ratcliff, gradually passed away, the silly mistakes currently being made with such single-minded enthusiasm by 'Rome' increasingly exercised a mesmerising influence on Anglican liturgical 'reform'. It seemed so much more important to "do Liturgy ecumenically" than to be rooted in the ancient traditions. Thus, and thus quickly, can fashionable liturgical corruptions become embedded in the world-wide praxis of more than one ecclesial body. Accordingly, when a version of the Series Two Eucharistic Prayer was authorised in 1973 with the exciting title Series Three, it incorporated the phrase "Grant by the power of your Spirit". And, since then, this foolish fad has remained a constant in the tedious and endless Anglican parlour-game of composing Eucharistic Prayers. Perhaps it reached its high point in Prayer 3 of the 2004 Church of Ireland Prayer Book, where the Epiclesis is addressed directly to the Holy Spirit instead of to the Father.

However, for the two happy decades 1945-1965, a great classical generation of liturgical scholars in the Church of England had known very much better than did the post-Conciliar Rome of Bugnini, Botte, and Vagganini.

Thereafter, the blind unquestioningly followed the blind, as the silly fellows still do.

But we in the Ordinariate know better!

14 October 2016

A courageous Cardinal

I can understand brother priests who feel that, admirable though the views of Cardinal Sarah are, now is not yet really quite the right moment to stick one's head above the bullet-scarred parapet and to begin the gradual, gentle, pastoral, catechised move to restore ad Orientem worship.

But I urge them to read the extracts available in translation on the internet (Fr Z; Chiesa ...) from his latest book. And to consider the simple courage of this wise and godly man. And to remember that the dissuasions of some other hierarchs have been based on a mistranslation of Latin and bad advice from somebody about the Law.

After Sarah's London paper on the subject, his appeal was immediately subverted, publicly, by other cardinals and bishops. Yet he now reiterates his call and points out that no priest needs any permission from anyone to celebrate facing the same way as the people. (Compare the very similar appeal to Subsidiarity in Summorum Pontificum.) In other words, attempts by prelates cuiuslibet dignitatis to give the impression that they can inhibit their subjects from doing this are quite simply extra-legal ... pressures. If they do invoke 'law', they are ill-informed (not, I hope, mendacious).

Clergy might, I most humbly suggest, ask themselves how they will feel if ... just for the moment, of course ... they ignore Sarah's appeal ... and the forces pitted against him then succeed in getting him hung out to dry.

The possibility of this is suggested by his own hint that the Holy Father (as well as the Vatican Press Office chappies) might not like his return to the topic of reforming the reform; and his insistence that the Pope "must" prevent arrogant intellectuals from stealing the patrimony of authentic Catholic worship from God's poor.

In practical and pastoral terms, I will pass on a point someone made at the Ordinariate Plenary Meeting only yesterday: if you do the Liturgy of the Word at the Seat, and return to the Seat for the oratio post communionem, facing ad Orientem simply for the Eucharistic Prayer, Our Father, and Fraction, you will actually not have been "turning your back on the people" for very long. Also from the Patrimony: remember that in a transitional period you could face the people at some Masses and not others; on some Sundays of the Month and not others.

And I beg brother clergy not to listen to some fiercely hard-line traddies, who actually prefer the Novus Ordo to be done in a certain sort of way, including ad populum, and as badly as possible, so that the Extraordinary Form is left as the only solution still on offer to the the crisis facing Catholic Worship (as Cardinal Sarah recently described it). This attitude is quite simply (IMO) sectarian and divisive and elitist.

Readers from the Anglican Patrimony will also recall the persecutions, more than a century ago, unloaded upon our own clergy who were restoring worship ad Orientem; and the trial (and trials) of the saintly bishop Edward King of Lincoln. (To think that the same battles, apparently, now have to be refought in the Catholic Church! How persuasive the Enemy is!)

Since the Cardinal's latest book is on the subject of Silence, the Anglican Patrimony can also offer the following supportive words from C S Lewis's Screwtape Letters.

The devil Screwtape says: Music and Silence - how I detest them both! ... Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless and virile - Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. ... The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. ...

Cardinal Sarah, dear Eminence: this poor Ordinariate member, at least, offers his prayers for you; and admires your courage as much as he does your wisdom.

The Universal Church is very much in your debt. God bless you.


Yet again! ... I will be taking a break from incoming computer traffic, including emails and Comments offered to the blog, from now, October 14, until October 21 inclusively. I hope to manage a blogpost most days.

By the way ... I do not enable comments arguing that, for whatever reason, Bergoglio is not the lawful Bishop of Rome. Recently, too, I did not accept something written in Croatian. This is because I gather that the English Bishops consider that bloggers are responsible for the comments they allow. And I do not think I can rely upon Google translators to reveal accurately to me the sense of a piece of Serbo-Croat.

When I took over my desk at Lancing in 1972, I found in one of the drawers a 1930s Serbo-Croat phrasebook with delicious entries such as "At what time does the Airship leave for Zagreb?". Sadly, I did not keep it.


A couple of people have rebuked me for talking about "Serbo-Croat". Well, if you insist, I'm sorry. But that was how the booklet described itself. You can hardly expect me to dissemble the Truth ...

13 October 2016

An interesting little old document (1)

We are about fifty years from the publication of an Anglican document called Alternative Service Second Series. It was a significant moment in liturgical reform within the Church of England. I want to share a few words about its (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to provide a Eucharistic Prayer which would rescue the Church of England from the Reformation dichotomies.

My argument: that it produced a very clever immensely brief summary of the Roman Canon which, on the (certainly questionable) assumption that such a brief summary was actually needed, was in every possible way better than the Pseudo-Hippolytan Trattoria-in-the-Trastevere Prayer which is now all but universal in the Latin Church. I will print this Prayer, indicating which of the paragraphs in the Canon each line summarises. I have put within {curly brackets} those words which do not relate to the central part of the Canon Romanus.

Hear us, O Father, through Christ thy Son our Lord;        Te igitur
through him accept                                                                 Te igitur
our sacrifice of praise;                                                            Memento
{and grant} that these gifts                                                    Te igitur
of bread and wine may be unto us his body and blood    Quam oblationem
Who ...                                                                                       Qui ...
Wherefore, O Lord, having in remembrace his saving passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven, {and looking for the coming of his kingdom,} we offer unto thee this bread and this cup;                                                                  Unde et memores
and we pray thee to accept                                                     Supra quae
this our duty and service                                                        Hanc igitur
in the presence of thy divine majesty,                                  Supplices
through the same Christ our Lord;                                         Per quem
By whom and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty,                                                                                   Per Ipsum
from the whole company of earth and heaven,                    Communicantes and Nobis quoque
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.                   Per omnia saecula ...

In the discussion which will occupy the second half of this piece, I do not intend to go over the (ultimately successful) Evangelical campaign to eliminate we offer ... this bread and this cup. I am more interested in the fact that there is here no Invocation of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the Eucharistic Elements. What we do have here is best understood as an intelligent (and amazingly terse!) expression of the old Roman (and rather 'binitarian') idea, preceding the sudden fourth century explosion of interest in the Holy Spirit, that the elements are 'consecrated' by their acceptance by the Father. This would, I admit, be a trifle clearer if the Prayer had omitted the superfluous words {and grant}. 

[{and looking for the coming of his kingdom} I attribute to the enthusiasm of the 1960s for seeing everything Eschatologically.]

To be continued.

12 October 2016


I think it was immensely witty of our beloved Holy Father to give Dr Welby a reproduction of S Gregory's crosier ... there must be a sermon in that ... but it would have said more for poor Welby's own sense of humour (oxymorologizo?) if he had given Bergoglio in return a reproduction of S Pius V's triregnum.

What will Bergoglio give the Swedish Lutheran 'bishops' at the end of this month as they venerate together the Stuprator Borae? I'm putting my bets on a jumbo-size Plenary Indulgence, accompanied by a whopping invoice and a framed photograph of S Peter's in Vaticano.

Newman and Liberalism and the Spirit of the Antichrist

When Newman received the biglietto signifying his elevation to the rank of Cardinal, he made a speech which has often been quoted; and I am going to quote it yet again and not least because it beautifully enunciates the essential continuity of his life as a Catholic with his years as an Anglican. But, at the end, I wish to draw attention to a very important realisation of Newman's which is not so often quoted or appreciated. So here he goes:

For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. ... the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are a matter of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. ... As to Religion, it is a private luxury which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not intrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

[Note the deft, almost imperceptible skill - so characteristic - with which Newman points to us the paradox that this 'liberalism' is itself a doctrine, an imposed and inexorable dogma. But it is his next observation which, I feel, gives us tremendous material for thought; when he adds that:]

There is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true ... justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence .... 

[Ah, we incautiously surmise, Liberalism isn't too bad after all; he admits that Liberalism has its Good Side. But no. Newman has tricked us. He is playing exactly the opposite game. In the spirit of the argumentum ad hominem, he is about to pounce. Let us watch carefully, and analyse, how the cat jumps.

Remember that in his earlier years Newman had been preoccupied with the concept of Antichrist. At the heart of this biblical notion, there is a realisation that the greater an evil and the closer it comes to Ultimate Evil, the more sumptuously the Enemy adorns it with rags and tatters of the good and the true and the noble. An error will be so much more dangerous precisely because it has been made to look so beautiful. So ... Blessed John Henry goes on:]

There never was a device of the Enemy, so cleverly framed, and with such promise of success.

Snap! Gotcha!

Despite its superficial charms, indeed, because of its apparent beauties, Liberalism is diabolical, a trick of Satan.

There is a great warning for us as we, more than a century later, face the devices of the Enemy in our own time.

Just one modern example of this will be enough for today: our blessed Lord did not say to the woman in the Johannine pericope de adultera "Go; and sin some more". Whenever, whoever, decks out encouragement or tolerance of adultery in nobly coloured biblical garments, whether 'Mercy' or any other scriptural tags, we know that the Spirit of the Antichrist is abroad.