22 September 2020

Plagiarism and Popery

Well, stone the crows. I published this post on August 15; and a book has just come out with collected limericks by Anglophone members of the bishops at Vatican II. It contains the first of the limericks below (bowdlerised), and the claim is made that it was written by an anonymous Council Father. It wasn't. It was in a volume published in 1959 by Dr Mascall. and, incidentally, copyrighted by him. The book was entitled Pi in the High because Mascall began his academic life as a Cambridge Mathematician, later becoming an Oxford Anglican Theologian.

This brings out the latent Anglican still within me ... bl**dy papists ... plagiarists ... can't even write their own limericks ... can't even give credit where credit is due  ... 

The new volume is from the admirable Arouca Press, in conjunction with Douai Abbey. A Limerickal Commentary on the Second Vatican Council. I cordially recommend it, but add a warning that it is not very tightly proof-read.  Despite the claim that it has been reproduced carefully from a typescript, there are typos which I suspect are not due to the original: e.g. page 35 suet and rues. Although three people are named as having helped with the Latin, there are peculiarities such as printing the Latin diphthong oe as a u with an acute accent over it (but not consistently): pp 15 and 37. And all the footnotes from 21 onwards are misnumbered. 

Now follows my original post of August 15.


There was an old priest of Dun Laoghaire
Who stood on his head for the Kaoghaire.
       When his people asked why
       He explained it all by
The latest liturgical thaoghaire.

What's that you say? That you're a Platonist rather than a liturgist? Excellent! You'll get into heaven far sooner. And perhaps you'll like this one better:

To Plato I said, "Tell me, P,
What are those pink rats that I see?"
       With a soupcon of pride
       He politely replied,
"Ta metaxu tou ontos kai me."

 Two limericks by the Reverend Canon Professor Dr E L Mascall, 1905-1993. In the first of them,  readers whose minds delight in impropriety will be easily able to devise varias lectiones, variant manuscript readings for the first five words of line 2.

I am not anti-Irish. Many of my best ... er ...  Of course, if one preferred to read 'Kingstown' the textual disturbance would be greater.

Mascall was ahead of his time in suggesting that liturgical improprieties may be more characteristic of elderly than of younger clergy.

21 September 2020

Extra Ecclesiam ...

... nulla Salus. I am a little nervous about the emphasis laid upon this in some traddy circles, and about some of the stricter interpretations given to the phrase. It seems to me that some people may be a little over-anxious to exclude from heaven anybody who is not in full canonical communion with the See of S Peter.

I suppose that in an age suffused with Relativism and Indifferentism, it is inevitable that sensible and thoughtful people will want to resist anything that smells of these dangerous, pernicious, heresies. But, well, y'know, sometimes a pendulum does ... er ... swing ... er ... a bit far.

Well before the post-Conciliar catastrophes struck, 'Invincible Ignorance', and all that, was part of the Church's common teaching. In 1945, Evelyn Waugh, no Relativist, explains that if Lady Julia Flyte "apostatised now, having been brought up in the Church, she would go to hell, while the Protestant girls of her acquaintance, schooled in happy ignorance, could marry eldest sons, live at peace with their world, and get to heaven before her." And remember that one of Waugh's motives in writing Brideshead was to explain the Catholic Faith to his generation by novelistic means.

S John Henry Newman avowed, towards the end of his life, that he had spent it fighting against Liberalism. He, too, used novelistic means to explain the Faith.

Priest: Do you think [Anglicans] believe and practise all that is brought home to them as being in Scripture?
Reding: Certainly they do, as far as man can judge.
Priest: Then perhaps they may be practising the virtue of faith; if there are passages in it to which they are insensible, as about the sacraments, penance, and extreme unction, or about the See of Peter, I should in charity think that these passages had never been brought home or applied to their minds and consciences - just as a Pope's Bull may be for a time unknown in a distant part of the Church. They may be in involuntary ignorance.* Yet I fear that, taking the whole nation, they are few among many.

*At this point, Newman footnotes a sentence from de Lugo which I  translate thus:
Those who err invincibly about some articles, and believe others, are not formally heretics, but have supernatural faith, by which they believe the true articles; and acts of perfect contrition can proceed from that faith so that they be justified and saved. 

20 September 2020

A couple more Avignon memories ...

 ... have just come back to me.

(1) We were there during a French presidential election, and much enjoyed seeing what was happening, and watching a few things on the TV in our hotel room.

We were particularly diverted by a speech made by one of the candidates, a Mme Segolene Royale. I think she was giving an explanation of the fact that the bloke with whom she was shacked up and who was the father of her children was not her husband. Neatly, she averred that this made her une femme libre pour une France libre.

Even greater diversion was afforded us, back in England, a few weeks later when the man concerned, the midget but perfectly formed Francois Hollande, dumped her.

As, giggling, we remarked to each other, this made her even more libre.

(2) The restaurants.

19 September 2020

Avignon and Mme Pepinster

The former editor of The Tablet, a Mrs Pepinster, was on the Home Service a few weeks ago and spoke about the unfortunate way the Catholic Church had treated the Jews. I was not in a position to have a view about this, since I have never studied the subject. (I do, however, recall that when a recent Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, the son of a Rabbi, visited Israel, he was treated with some discourtesy.)

But ... hang on ... here is something with which perhaps readers can assist me.

When Pam and I had our 40th Wedding Anniversary (April 1 2007), the Family very generously sent us off to Avignon for a week. I have haunting memories ... The big square, where each evening a ?counter-tenor anxious to sell his compact disks sang in tones like nothing I have ever heard ... I reflected that must have been rather how castrati sounded. The exquisite rococo Chapel of the Black Penitents, used by the SSPX (who gave me as an Anglican priest a most hospitable welcome). The Art Gallery, blissfully empty and full of good stuff. The tomb of Pope John XXII, made by English craftsmen. The Cathedral Sacristy, with vestments used at the Coronation of Charles X.

And, yes, a fine eighteenth century Synagogue. At that time, such Hebrew ostentation was not permitted (so we were told) within France. But across the Rhone, in the Papal States, there were ... apparently ... no problems.

What the doctiores among you can explain to me is why this should have been so.

18 September 2020


As the Solemnity of our Lady of Walsingham ... and S John Henry Newman ... start to appear over the horizon, here are some points which apply only to members of the three Ordinariates.


Worthy folk may easily be confused about who a Patron is. The Table of Liturgical Days in the Divine Worship Missal is almost the same as that of the Novus Ordo Calendar (plus the Octave of Pentecost, Ember Days, and Rogation Days) with the following exceptions. In Section 4, this is added: (a) The Solemnity of the Title of the Ordinariate; and in 8 (a) Diocese is changed to Ordinariate.

So there is a distinction between the "Title" of the Ordinariate; and the "Patron". In the decrees of the Erections of the Ordinariates, section 14 indicates in each case who is the patron of each. In England: S John Henry Newman. In America: Our Lady of Walsingham. In Australia: S Augustine of Canterbury.

The Title is a Solemnity; the Patron is a Festum. So, in England, OLW is a Solemnity because she is the Title; in America, she is only a Festum because she is the Patron. And, in Englsnd, S JHN is only a Festum because he is the Patron


But in the Missale Romanum of 1962, things are different. The Patron is to be "First Class", which is the MR1962 equivalent of the DWM "Solemnity" (MR1962 91/12/6 and 8).

So, in practical terms, S JHN is First Class and therefore has a First Vespers according to MR1962, but not according to DWM. And in the EF he gets the Creed at Mass, and the Horae minores of the Divine Office.

17 September 2020

Palladianism, late Stuart Anglicanism, and Jacobitism???

Dudley Symon wrote that when
"the Church of England had 'found herself', [and] developed a liturgical sense and interpretation of the popular appeal of her own Liturgy, she instinctively turned to the Classical, the Palladian and the Renaissance model as a more fitting vesture and shrine for her rites. For its meaning and particular beauty to become apparent it needed (as Canon Addleshaw says) such a building as the chapel of Trinity College, Oxford, beloved by Newman, or the churches of Wren".

Indeed, even Pevsner considered Trinity Chapel as "one of the most perfect ensembles of the late C17 in the whole country"..

I'm not sure that all Architecture buffs would agree in cheerfully lumping togetherr the 'impure classicism' of poor Wren with the purities of Andrea Palladio and Inigo Jones. But the sponsors of Palladianism in the Oxford of Queen Anne's time, Aldrich and Clarke, have inspired a suspicion of being linked together by that very high Toryism which merged almost imperceptibly into a careful, fall-back, Jacobitism.

Something to think about as one takes the short cut through Peck Quad ...

And rumours about Lord Burlington's more private politics have never quite died away, have they? Earlier this year, the National Trust revealed evidence that Sir Henry Bedingfield, 3rd Baronet of Oxburgh Hall, was slipping money to James VIII's banker in 1726, when he was in Paris with Burlington (whose sister he married). He also made payments to Andrew Crotty, Burlington's agent, who was known to the Hannoverian Intelligence Service as "the great Jacobite" (The Times, Feb 15 2020).

I wish I knew more about Architecture! Can anybody put me straight?

There is an interesting chapter in Sir Howard Colvin's Unbuilt Oxford.

16 September 2020


This piece assumes that the reader already knew, or has by now taken on board, the original sense of ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM which my earlier post explained. The following example of this argumentum is taken from the great Anglican Catholic theologian Dr Eric Mascall.

Fr Eric is dealing with the claim that Anglo-Catholics are subversive Quislings because they try to reverse, within the Church of England, the changes made at the Reformation. He points out that it ill becomes those who support the Reformation Settlement to argue that a status quo should never be changed.

Let's unpack that or, to use Fr Zed's neat term, 'drill into it'.

Someone who believes "Changing a status quo is always bad" cannot be a supporter of what was done at the Reformation. Because, in that period, a status quo was changed.

Someone who supports what was done at the Reformation cannot also, simultaneously, believe that "Changing a status quo is always bad", because that is exactly what the 'Reformers' did.

Of course, it is open to anyone to say "Ah, but the status quo which the 'Reformers' changed was a wicked and corrupt status quo and so they were right to change it; but the present status quo is a good one, so you are wicked to try to change that". That is fair enough, because you and he can then dialogue or argue about whether the two claims in his statement are in fact true.

If he modifies his assertion of principle to "Bad status quos should always be changed and good ones should always be preserved", then he has shifted his ground to a rational (if a somewhat blindingly obvious) stand. You may well agree with him, while insisting that it is necessary to apply the two halves of his proposition with dispassionate care.

What he is not entitled to do ... not today, not ever, not even on the Day of Judgement ... is to have his cake and eat it: to rant about how "change is always per se wrong" when it suits him, and then to change horses to "Change is sometimes necessary" when that suits him. If he persists in trying to have things both ways, there is no point in wasting your time on arguing with him.

We can disentangle this from those boring old intra-Anglican squabbles and apply it to today's Catholic Church by considering the attitudes of the 1970s Liturgical Fetichists who
(a) dislike Cardinal Sarah's admirable and admirably repeated call for worship Ad Orientem and
(b) who also claim that it is totally beyond the pale even to imagine reversing the gigantic changes made in the 1970s; forgetful as they are of how vicious and radical were those changes of the 1970s.

A traddy Socrates would (despite his own very profound dislike of the 1970s 'reforms') probably start by cunningly representing himself as being where his interlocutor actually is (as a supporter of the 1970s 'reforms') by saying ...

Socrates Do you agree that the 1970s liturgical reforms were a good thing?
1970s Liturgical Fetichist I jolly well do (panu ge).
Socrates And did those reforms constitute a profound change in the inaccessible, guilt-ridden, incomprehensible, clericalist and hide-bound Liturgy of the pre-Conciliar Church?
1970s Liturgical Fetichist Dead right, Socrates, that's just what they did. You never said a truer word (panu men oun, kai alethe legeis).
Socrates So when the 1970s reformers made their root-and-branch changes, they did well?
1970s Liturgical Fetichist B****y well, if you'll forgive the French, Socrates, me old chum (kai mala, o sokratidion, houto phainetai).
Socrates It seems, then, that we are agreed that change can sometimes be necessary?
1970s Liturgical Fetichist Yeah, well, fair do's, I s'pose we are, if you put it like that (alla moi dokeis ge, o sokrates, metrios legein, kai houto tithemai).
Socrates So if it were to appear upon further study that what Cardinal Sarah and the Traddies are currently trying to do to the worship of the Catholic Church is a necessary change, then we would need to applaud them and to follow them?
1970s Liturgical Fetichist Crikey! I don't at all like the sound of that! (ou ma ton Dia).
Socrates But you cannot both agree that change may be necessary, and say that we must refuse to consider the changes proposed by Sarah and the Traddies. *ei gar tauta amphotera ereis, oukh hoios t'esei sumphonein soi.

There is the essence of the Argumentum ad hominem, in that last sentence of Socrates: *"For if you are going to say both these things, you will not be able to be in agreement with yourself". 

This, the Argumentum ad hominem, is how S John Henry Newman admitted that he amused himself in the Oriel Common Room by tying slower thinkers up in knots; this is the device that Dom Gregory Dix so relished. Not to mention Mgr Ronald Knox, Protonotary Apostolic, and Fr Eric Mascall. Even Socrates and ... your humble servant.

I repeat: as Locke pithily described it, the Argumentum ad hominem consists of pressing a man with consequences drawn from his own principles and concessions.

Aesthetically, at its best it affords you the pleasure of watching, perhaps with a vivid glass of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc in handas your adversary squirms and wriggles on the painful horns of a dilemma which ... am I mixing my metaphors again? ... he has walked right into, hook, line, and sinker.

There are, surely, in God's wonderland of earthly pleasures, few sweeter, more exquisite, delights than contemplating that? You agree? Panu ge!!
* Plato, the Cratylus, 433B.

15 September 2020


We continually see examples of people using the phrase Argumentum ad hominem with the following meaning: "Arguing against somebody by simply hurling personal abuse at him".

In all linguistic matters, I cannot deny that usage can change the meanings of words and phrases. But I think it is a tremendous shame that this immensely useful phrase is in danger of losing the totally different meaning it originally had. I want to make clear that, on this blog, I use the phrase in the original sense in which it was used by Locke: "to press a man with Consequences drawn from his own Principles and Concessions". 

As you might expect, an example, nearly contemporary with Locke himself, is found in the 1738 chapter of Let Dons Delight.

So ... to be boringly clear about ths ... I have not used, do not and will not use, argumentum ad hominem in the sense of 'personal abuse'. Permit me to be even more explicit, and even nastier: I think this new meaning now very widely attached to the phrase originated in a common human failing. And that failing is: trying to sound erudite by using a piece of Latin ... often, as in this case, misunderstood Latin. 

Allow me to explain what Locke and I mean by Argumentum ad hominem.

If a man says "Matilda never lies", and two paragraphs later he says "Matilda lied when she said X", then you are entitled to 'press' him with this. Logically, he must withdraw one of these two statements, or he is involved in a contradiction and cannot expect us to follow him. (He can, of course, also withdraw both.) Whether or not Matilda is truthful is, at least for the time being, irrelevant. It is the speaker's inconsistency which requires analysis.

If a man says "I believe A" and later says "I do not believe B because it is not explicitly in Scripture", he has handed you a hostage to fortune: if you can successfully demonstrate that A also is 'not explicitly in Scripture', then either he must preserve the 'principle' in his second statement "I do not believe B" by also discarding his belief in A; or, continuing to believe in A, he must cease to deny B on the grounds that it is not explicitly in Scripture (he might, of course, if he is quick on his feet, be able to think up a different reason for denying B and argue that; what he cannot maintain is his original and stated reason for denying it.)

This is called an argumentum ad hominem because, strictly speaking it does not prove anything at all; it only demonstrates that this particular man cannot maintain two contradictory or inconsistent statements. So it is "an Argument against [that particular] Man".

For example, if you are strolling into the Parks with a friend to watch the University playing Barsetshire, and he says "I don't believe Mary is the Mother of God", you can ask him if he believes that Jesus Christ is 'fully' God. If he replies "Yes I do", you can then say "So Mary, who is the Mother of Jesus Christ, is the Mother of God".

Let us suppose that your friend says "Ah yes! I do see! She is Mother of God in the the sense that she is the Mother of the one hypostasis of the Incarnate Second person of the Glorious Trinity. Fair enough". You and he can then warmly embrace; an ecumenical advance has been made. But Stay!!!: behind that substantial Rhododendron Bush was lurking Dr Dawkins of this University, beautifully coiffured as ever, eavesdropping upon your dialogue. He now leaps through the leaves and blossoms screaming maniacally "But there is no God at all and so Jesus Christ is not God and his Mother is not the Mother of God because there isn't a God for her to be Mother of because there isn't a God". Premises which were common ground between your interlocutor and yourself are not, you gather, intuitively shared by Dr D, poor silly old thing. So, to him, to Dr Dawkins, you have proved absolutely and totally nothing.

Indeed, your argument was not intended to convince someone of Dr Dawkins' limited understanding; you were only endeavouring to convince your friend, by appealing to his beliefs, to his 'Principles', to what he already deems true and has asserted. Your argument was designed to persuade him by presenting him with the dilemma: "Either withdraw your belief that Jesus Christ is God; or withdraw your statement that Mary is not the Mother of God".

It is in this old Lockean sense of the phrase that I commend Dr Newman's and Dr Dix's attachment ... and my own ... to the Argumentum ad hominem.  

To be concluded.

14 September 2020

Eat the Fat and Drink the Sweet

The Ember Days of the old (Tridentine and Divine Worship Missal) liturgies began life as pagan Roman Harvest Festivals, celebrating the gathering-in of the corn, the wine, and the oil. The Church of Rome christianised them; pointed out in her lections that the Torah refers to analogous agricultural festivals; and turned them into fasts so as to eliminate the excesses of pagan celebration.

The September Ember season is, in my view, the most fun, because the down-to-earth agricultural liturgical texts have not been overladen with themes of Advent, Lent, or Pentecost, as those of the other three Embertides have been. So let's wallow in the Harvest Festival joy of this week's liturgies, and let's enjoy it all the more by doing it with the Tudor English texts in the Divine Worship (Ordinariate) Missal ..."Sing we merrily unto God our Strength, make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob ... "

And the ancient readings carried the same message: "behold, the days come when the plowman shall overcome the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed: and the mountains shall drop sweet wine ... and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof ... eat the fat and drink the sweet ...

But these Ember Days were fast days! Look at the Collects: "Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, to us thy humble servants, that we, who do refrain ourselves from carnal feastings ...". And the ancient Ember Gospels were concerned with healings, because healing and exorcism were linked with fasting. The Church became supremely potent to heal and to cast out demons, through her sacred ministers, because she had humbled and purified herself before the Lord with fasting. And so, at these times, the Church also besought God to send down the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God by the imposition of the Bishop's hands, having prepared herself by communal fasting (cf Acts 13:1-3). S John Paul II used to prepare himself to administer Holy Orders with fasting and discipline.

I wonder if the disappearance of Fasting is one of the reasons why the Devil has so much power over members and ministers of the modern Church. And ... by the way ... the disappearance of fasting in the Western Church is not an area in which we can heap all the blame on S Paul VI. As so often, it was Pius XII who got there first.

13 September 2020

Apostolicae curae: text

September 13 1896 is the date of the Bull which condemned Anglican Orders. I published the following on August 1, 2010. The only changes I am making today are the insertions of the passages in red.
What does Apostolicae curae say about its own status within the Magisterium? Here there is a curious textual anomaly. Different printed versions say different things. One has the Bull referring to the subject with which it deals as "idem caput disciplinae". Another omits "disciplinae" ("This same matter [of discipline]"). The question is of considerable significance. Nobody doubts that there are doctrinal matters involved in this business; but a disciplinary decision, while it has its own area in which it does bind, is not binding in the same sort of way as a doctrinal decision.

I once made an attempt to get to the bottom of this question. I received this reply: "The word is actually included in the version published in Acta Sanctae Sedis 29 (1896-7), which is the official version of the text. There is therefore no need to view the original document signed by the two cardinals. However, in the collected edition of the Acta Leonis XIII the word is omitted; this edition seems to be unofficial, being published by the Societas Sancti Augustini, Desclee de Brouwer, Bruges, vol. 6, 1900". My informant, a Roman Catholic theologian of some distinction and international reknown, commented "I can only guess that someone was afraid the word might lead people to think the decision might be changed". Indeed. In the 1956 Catholic Truth Society translation, a footnote by Dr E C Messenger frankly admits "The omission would seem to have been deliberate". 

It is amusing to imagine the look on Cardinal Vaughan's face, in the midst of the triumphant rejoicings in Archbishop's House Westminster after he had secured the issue of Apostolicae curae, as the corks popped merrily in the Throne Room, when he suddenly realised the subversive potential of the one word "disciplinae". In a funny sort of way, the fact that "someone" took whatever trouble had to be taken to get the text changed in a subsequent unofficial publication of the Bull is a witness to the importance "someone" attached to the matter. If it makes no difference, why bother?

So what's new? I just looked at the text of this Bull on the official Vatican website ... and ... Lo!! ... it reads "caput disciplinae"!

As for expressions like "forever in the future valid and in force", an article in the Heythrop Journal (27, 1986, 178-180), on the genuineness of the tomb of S James at Compostella, raises some interesting questions.

Nitpicking? I profoundly disagree. Whenever anyone says to me "You're splitting hairs", I know that he knows that I know that he has lost the argument!

12 September 2020


I plan to take a few days away from reading emails and moderating comments. But I plan, Deo volente, still to publish a piece each day.

The Longevity of Herr Goebbels ... and the power of flags

UPDATE: No fascist flags being waved tonight!

Flags, I thnk, have the power to enforce culturally what they symbolise. Goebbels understood this.

I simply adore those old video clips of the sweet flaxen-haired little girls clustering around the Fuehrer ... such images of Aryan purity as imagined by hitlerite bigots; redolent of everything that was, in their perverted mindset, good and noble and wholesome.

And how fitting it is that the symbol of the Swastika should have been incorporated into so many of those scenes ... reminding everybody, young and old, that the ubiquitous symbol itself encapsulated all that was best in the life of the Volk.

It must be a matter of immense joy that the Rainbow, our modern equivalent of the Swastika, is nowadays so widely displayed and promoted. Children ... even those who are not little and not girls and not flaxen-haired ... are encouraged to draw and paint rainbows in order to celebrate, for example, the efforts of our health-care professionals. By associating this symbol of Niceness with nice and self-sacrificing people, we ensure that the young are properly formed so as to glorify, in step with their growing understandings, Equal Marriage and Trans Rights and Abortion and Pride Marches and all the other things on our current must-like list, symbolised, summarised, and joyously brought together as they all are by our Rainbow flag.

Tonight, in Britain, we have "The Last Night of the Proms", a musical bonanza. It has been surrounded by controversy: is it right, in a BLM culture, to sing songs like Rule Britannia, and even to mention the S-word ("Britons never never never shall be Slaves") without the correct ritual obeissances. But I remember the corresponding performance last year: the lead female singer was waving the ... Rainbow Flag! Nice one, Herr G! So I am waiting to see if this elegantly situated piece of fascism will recur this year.

Perhaps we have lost a certain je ne sais quoi as we have moved from the Swastika to the Rainbow. Our faddish chatter about British Values and Inclusivity and White Lives Matter and all the rest, does indeed rather lack the forceful vigour of Ein Volk ein Reich ein Fuehrer. But before you criticise Satan and Goebbels too harshly, be fair: the Swastika did get a very critical press; it's only sensible that it should have been replaced by something more PR friendly. It's results that really count; and currently something like a quarter of babies are intentionally killed before birth. Credit where credit is due. Heil Whatever!

It is indeed a mighty reassurance to know that, despite reports to the contrary, Herr Goebbels survived the War and is still alive and well; and still, with his immense wit and wisdom, directing the propaganda department of the Lowerarchy. It is particularly gratifying to have so much evidence of his complete control over (nearly) all the Media; the coercive mechanisms of the State; and the moral pressure brought to bear by Public Opinion. (Only one of his old tricks is still untried: the apotheosis of a violent dead street brawler by the composition of something like the Horst Wessel song.)

His firm hand upon the tiller is just what we need as we march into our Golden Future.

(On this blog, mixed metaphors and irony are parts of the genre.)