22 March 2017

.... and so ...

... grateful thanks this morning to our Blessed Lady of the Atonement, the Mother of God of Walsingham and Fatima and Czestochowa! Kind Mother and Guardian of the Ordinariates! And may her blessings continue, particularly upon Fr Christopher Phillips and his wife JoAnn, the clergy and nuns and Faculty at the Academy of the Atonement, all the many members of the congregations; all the students.

(Wozzat? You wanna know how Fatima and Czestochowa come into this? Bishop Stephen's father is Portuguese and his mother Polish. With what joy the Canon of the Mass will have been said at the Atonement this morning una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Francisco et antistite nostro Stephano!)

21 March 2017

Our Lady of the Atonement and the future of the Ordinariates

Brilliant News!!! The Holy See has directed that the Texan parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio is, with effect from today, part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter, the American Ordinariate.

'Atonement' was the first (in 1983) of the parishes set up to perpetuate within the Roman Unity groups adhering to their Anglican Liturgy, Spirituality, and theological tradition. It was spectacularly successful, under its dynamic and charismatic Pastor Fr Christopher Phillips.

When the Ordinariates were set up, the position of parishes adhering to the 'Anglican Use', but operating as units within ordinary dioceses, became anomalous. After all, the Holy See had set up the Ordinariates specifically to include such communities.

The Archbishop of San Antonio was understandably anxious to keep such a vibrant parish and its academy within his own diocese and jurisdiction. But he is an honourable man. So he made it very clear that he would ensure the continuation at the Atonement of the provisions made by the Holy See for Anglicans who had entered the Catholic Church upon a certain understanding.

But that proposed arrangement misses the point. It treats the Anglican Use as merely something provided as a condescending kindness for ex-Anglicans or their descendants. This would mean that the Use could die out when the original 'converts' had died, unless new converts from Anglicanism had continued to trickle in so as to keep the arrangement on a life-support machine.

That is quite simply not how things can be allowed to be in a Church which takes Mission in any way seriously. A flourishing and orthodox Christian community will inevitably attract others, particularly those from the peripheries of the Church, where people may have a residual association with Catholicism but have grown disillusioned or alienated within the 'mainstream' or 'diocesan' Church.

It is a natural suspicion that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has been involved in this wise decision, which is good news not only for the Atonement but for all members of the three Ordinariates. It demonstrates that the See of S Peter is as committed to Pope Benedict's bold ecumenical experiment as ever it was. We were not 'taken up' just so that we could be 'dropped'!

Four cheers and more for his Eminence!

Hooray for the wise guidance Bishop Lopes has given to his Ordinariate!

Ut unum sint!! 

... has lost his maniple.

Devout persons who drop into Westminster Cathedral to pay their respects at the shrine of one of my favourite Saints, S John Southworth, will discover ... here's the good news first ... that there are some quite sweet little Prayer Cards now provided for use and for taking away. They contain a nice picture of the Saint vested for Mass. (I think the surname is or was pronounced Sutherth.)

The bad news is ... that, although the Saint is pictured on these cards as vested in alb, red stole, and red chasuble, he ... seems to have lost his maniple.

Medieval hagiographers would have undoubtedly had an account of how this happened; their stories would probably have ended with a spectacular miracle resulting in the supernatural restoration of the maniple. Inventive readers of this blog must surely be capable of some diverting inventions within the general conventions and dynamics of that genre. But what is to be done?

Traddies with large families might consider taking all their children into the Cathedral, equipped with red crayons or board-writers or loads of red paint, and settling them down with instructions to add maniples to all the cards. This would result in what Anglican Priestesses proudly call "Messy Church", and thus constitute an Ecumenical Gesture.

As an incorrigible classicist with an ungovernable imagination, I fear that what swept immediately into my mind was the demonstration by Aeschylus (apud Aristophanis Batrakhous, vv 1206 et sqq.) that pretty well all of Euripides' Prologues are susceptible to the conclusion lekuthion apolesen. Mutating the mutanda, it occurs to me that pretty well any statement about Papa Bergoglio or Cardinal Kasper or Cardinal Marx or the Rio Tinto, or any of the other Great Ones of the Bergoglian faction, could be reduced to bathos ... to even greater bathos ... by inserting the concluding phrase "... (has) lost his maniple". Oimoi peplegmetha!

'Terminal bathos' is surely the greatest gift made to mankind by satiric Aristophanic Old Comedy or, indeed, by classical Greek Civilisation as a whole, before it lost its oil-pot.

May that very great Saint and Priest and Martyr for Jesus, S John Southworth, pray for us and for the whole state of Christ's Church Militant here in earth, now in these years of her passion.

20 March 2017


I do not intend to explain what this is all about ab initio to those who do not already know the general outlines. Just to add some facts which some who do know may not be familiar with.

In 1995 the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity published a learned and interesting paper which suggested that a lack of correlation between the Greek (ekporeuesthai) and Latin (procedere) terms for "proceedeth" is part of the problem. ekporeuesthai refers to the origin of the Holy Spirit within the eternal and glorious economy of the Holy Trinity. And, since the Father is the Source (pege, aitia) of the being of the other two Persons, clearly the Spirit ekporeuetai from the Father alone. To suggest that he might ekporeuesthai from the Son as well is to risk positing two sources of Divinity and thus, in effect, to believe in two Gods.

Procedere, on the other hand, is a broader term. As well as sharing the meaning of ekporeuesthai, it also encompasses the Sending (proienai), wthin time, of the Spirit by the Son. And it includes the possibility of asserting that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.When the Western Church was battling against Arianism, it seemed important to safeguard the full divinity of the Son by incorporating into the Creed His authentic Missio of the Spirit.

So you could argue that Filioque with ekporeuesthai is gravely erroneous because it is tantamount to polytheism, while procedere without the Filioque is dangerously suggestive of Arianism.

It is well known that Rome firmly forbids the addition of Filioque to the Creed when it is said in (or translated from) Greek - whether by 'uniate' Byzantines or in ecumenical contexts. But she has been slow to delete Filioque from the Creed when it is used in (or translated from) Latin.

However, in 2000 a very significant new development occurred. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a document called Dominus Iesus, which was immediately made the object of hysterical abuse by illiterates who couldn't read it (including poor dopey George Carey) - you probably remember the hooha raised at that time by the ecumaniac industry both inside and outside the Roman Catholic Church. This furore still occasionally has echoes. This is and was unfortunate; the document represented some very interesting advances ecumenically in several respects. Not the least of these is that it began by giving, as 'the fundamental contents of the profession of the Christian faith', the 'Nicene' Creed in Latin and without the Filioque.

I would lose very little sleep if a Roman Pontiff eliminated Filioque from the Latin Creed. But it would leave some traces behind it. In, for example, the Quicumque vult. And I know an Anglican priest who, being very Orthodoxophile, presses his lips together at a certain point in the Creed. But, when he does duty in College chapels here in Oxford, he has to sing, in the Litany, " ... proceeding from the Father and the Son ..." because otherwise disastrous confusion would ensue when the choir came to repeat his words. The learned Dom Benedict of Silverstream once showed me a version of the Pange lingua in which a 'Western Orthodox' had rewritten S Thomas's Doxology ...

No; I would be very unwilling to go down such paths as those. The Latin West is as entitled to the integrity of its own Patrimony as is the Byzantine East. Probably best to leave the sleeping dogs ...

And we gallant presbyters of the Ordinariate are unlikely to forget that Filioque was introduced to the English Church by the Syrian Greek S Theodore whom Pope S Vitalian (657-672) sent to be Archbishop of Canterbury. I think we could catch the stuffier "English Orthodox" on the horns of a juicy dilemma by asking them whether the "Anglo-Saxon Church" of S Theodore was Orthodox ... or not ...

19 March 2017

I did it this very morning ...

Dom Gregory Dix on the importance of using given liturgy:
"[There is] a certain timelessness about the eucharistic action and an independence of its setting, in keeping with the stability in an ever-changing world of the forms of the liturgy themselves. At Constantinople they 'do this' yet with the identical words and gestures that they used while the silver trumpets of the Basileus still called across the Bosphorus, in what seems to us now the strange fairy-tale land of the Byzantine empire. In this twentieth century Charles de Foucauld in his hermitage in the Sahara 'did this' with the same rite as Cuthbert twelve centuries before in his hermitage on Lindisfarne in the Northern seas. This very morning I 'did this' with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed."

18 March 2017

The Aetas Bugniniana

The most eagle eyed of my readers may have noticed me trying out a new piece of terminology a month or so ago.

The 'reforms' to the Liturgy with which so many Latin Catholics now have to live were not, as many traditionalists have been led to think, the result of "the Council". One could argue that they started with the changes to the Psalter under S Pius X or even with the Barberini corruption of the hymns; but, substantially, what I have in mind is the string of changes which began under Pius XII with the root-and-branch 'reform' of the Easter Vigil and continued through to the 'post-Conciliar' 'reforms'. One could make a case that, if the Council had never happened, but Pius XII had lived for another twenty years, the 'reforms' might have been even worse. But that's another question!

In my need for an uncumbersome phrase to describe concisely this period and this process, I had toyed with the phrase "the Pio-Pauline interferences". But this, of course, elides the role played by Papa Roncalli.

So I am now suggesting the interferences of the aetas Bugniniana vel brevius the Bugninian interferences; because, of course the late Hannibal was a Promoting Spirit of all this stuff pretty well from beginning to end.

And now ... the apparent prospect of a new liturgical Dark Age, with the participation of Bad Marini, Bugnini's spiritual son. The Aetas Bugniniana Altera?

17 March 2017


More than a month ago, a Bergoglian bishop reportedly said: "Whoever wants to discover what Jesus wants from him, he must ask the Pope, this Pope, not the one who came before him, or the one who came before that. This present Pope".

I had hoped to hear some retraction from this cleric ... after all, each of us can and often does misspeak, and we hope to be forgiven for it. Or some correction of those (perhaps just childishly impetuous) words, administered by the Roman Pontiff himself. But there has, I think, been nothing (if any reader is aware of a retraction, or a papal condemnation, of these words I would be very grateful to be pointed to it).

And this misguided man still occupies a See as a metropolitan Archbishop of the Catholic Church.

I think this is the most horrible misdescription of the Catholic Faith I have yet to hear, in this crisis, from a Catholic bishop. Horrible in its trashing of the concept of paradosis to which S Paul pointed when he said What I have received I have handed on. Horrible in its shameless, shameful denial of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church at Vatican I (The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might publish new doctrine but so that by His assistance they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles, that is, the Deposit of the Faith). Horrible in its idolisation of one man, the incense it burns to one mere human; in other words, it breathes that same spirit of the Antichrist which inspired the devilish chant Ein volk ein reich ein fuehrer.

Horrible, above all, in that it blasphemously brings into its crippled parody of Christian Truth the sweet Name of our Most Holy Redeemer.

16 March 2017

Other Blogs

(1) On GKIRKUK the admirable and learned Dr Kirk raises the question of Vincent Cardinal Nichols'  interestingly sycophantic letter to the Holy Father, and asks ... why ... why now ...

My hypothesis is that Vin knows Bergoglio well enough to realise how deeply he resents dissent; and that he, Vin, wrote this letter at a time when he knows that our beleaguered Holy Father is coming under a lot of behind-the-scenes pressure and expressions of concern from mainstream Cardinals and Bishops. So the letter's message is: Hard times, but I'm behind you; I love you; and you can rely on me to see to it that the entire English Church is soundly bergoglianist! Franciscus papa et Vincentius contra mundum!

(2)  The SSPX USA website has a series of six good pieces by a professor at Econe explaining that Bergoglio is not a formal heretic, and has not lost the Petrine See. Recommend it to any panicky friends who are toying with the unmitigated nonsenses, the illiterate rubbish, of sedevacantism!

(3) Eponymous Flower has good videos of the Liturgical celebrations in S Petersburg last autumn. How splendid to see such vast crowds; such a public  and corporate exhibition of the Faith in the great City of our Lady of KAZAN ... who is the very same as the Mother of God of FATIMA!!! Her Immaculate Heart will prevail!! Most Holy Mother of God, save us!!

(4) Settimo Cielo blog has fine extracts from a piece by Rabbi Professor Giuseppe Laras, complaining about the "homilies of the Pontiff" which "on a daily basis" repeat and reinforce "the old inveterate structures" of ignorant misrepresentation of Judaism. A paper of my own on this very subject is due, God and the printers willing, to be published in two or three weeks. I wish Rabbi Laras and I had been able to synchronise our  ...

Christine Mohrmann (5)

Christine Mohrmann followed de Saussure and Bally in pointing out that "language by no means serves only to communicate actual facts but is also ... a medium of expression. Whereas ... language used purely as a means of communication normally strives towards a certain degree of efficiency, which results in linguistic simplification and standardisation, language as expression usually shows a tendency to become richer and more subtle. It aims at becoming, by every possible means, more expressive and more picturesque, and it may try to attain this heightened power of expression ... by the preservation of antiquated elements already abandoned by the language as communication". It is on these grounds that she resisted the introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy (except for the readings); modern languages, in her view, develop their efficiency as media of communication, but this makes them less suitable for sacred stylisation.

It was not until 1997 that the Magisterium of the Latin Church caught up with the questions Mohrmann had posed, and in an admirable instruction Liturgiam authenticam (hysterically vilified by the illiterate vested interests which at that time dominated ICEL, and now under threat from a Bergoglianist committee set up in the CDW) called for nothing less than the creation of new sacral vernaculars. "If, indeed, words or phrases can sometimes be employed in liturgical texts which differ from common and everyday speech, this in fact quite often actually leads to the texts being more memorable and more effective in expressing heavenly things. So it appears that observance of the principles explained in this Instruction tends to the gradual production in every common language of a sacred style, which also is to be recognised as the correct dialect for worship (sermo proprie liturgicus). So it can happen that a certain way of speaking which might seem a trifle obsolete in everyday speech, can be preserved in a liturgical context". Speaking in 2001, Fr Aidan Nichols envisaged the enrichment of the 'classical' - that is, Tridentine - Roman Rite with"all that is best in the Pauline reform" and its "diffusion" either in Latin "or in a 'high' vernacular capable of exercising the functions of a sacral language".

In the Ordinariate, we do, of course, already possess a high, hieratic vernacular. And we use it!

15 March 2017

Christine Mohrmann (4)

The ancient Romans were very legalistically minded. When they prayed to the Gods, they did their best to ensure that they covered everything; that they addressed the Gods by the right titles (and all of them) so that they could be assured that they were heard; that they asked for everything that they required so that an accidental omission would not frustrate their petitions. Christine Mohrmann showed that there is more than a little of this attitude in the prayers which comprise the Roman Rite of the ancient Latin Church.

In the Canon of the Mass, perhaps this is shown most clearly in the word 'adscriptam'. It means, I suppose, "written on the list". It's lawyer-like. If something's in the Statute, in the inventory, then it's covered. If not, not. We pray that our oblation be "written up". The old ICEL version simply ignored the word; the new ICEL, currently in use, renders it "acknowledged", which is still a trifle coy.

It is not difficult to understand the nervousness of the translators. "Legalism" is not instinctively seen as a virtue in modern culture, still less in modern religious thought. God is not, we feel, a crabbed old backwoods attorney or solicitor just looking all the time for an opportunity or a pedantic excuse to catch us out. He's loving, merciful, generous, understanding. Perhaps, it is suspected, the authors of the Roman Canon were a little bit too Roman and a little bit less Christian than they should have been.

But No. Long before the Roman Canon was written, S Ignatius of Antioch wrote that the Eucharist had to be celebrated by the Bishop, or by one to whom the bishop committed it, for it to be bebaios: a Greek word meaning sure, certain, secure, safe. Conditions have to be fulfilled. To some, this may seem like Legalism. But it is a principle which in turn is based on two root principles of our Faith.

God is true and will do what he has promised. We are called to be faithful and to do what he has commanded in the way that he has commanded. When we are obedient we know that what we have done is official, valid, in the archive, stamped by the clerk.

Praise to him for his faithfulness.

14 March 2017

Mohrmann (3)

I have enabled some intelligent comments questioning whether ... granted that Liturgical Latin is the way it is presented in the ancient Roman Sacramentaries and as it is analysed by Christine Mohrmann ... we really do need to worship like that. To this point, I would reply:
(1) The Liturgy we use is described as the Roman Rite. That is the label on the tin.
(2) Vatican II, which I regard as a true Ecumenical Council, did lay down in Sacrosanctum Concilium that the Roman Rite, while being up for revision, was to be substantially retained.
(3) In the fifth part of this series, I shall summarise Mohrmann's own account of twentieth century work on linguistics and varied linguistic registers.
(4) Liturgical Greek ... which Mohrmann also worked on ... is certainly not reductive or banausic. I do not know Coptic and Church Slavonic, but I have been told that the same is true of them.
(5) There is currently a sweet little exhibition in Bodley including a late Medieval Altar Missal with the Roman Rite in the Croatian language. I would love to be told what sort of Croatian that is!
(6) If we do not retain the tradition of the Sacral Language, I do not entirely see why we should retain traditional gestures, traditional vestments ...
(7) One comment, which suggests that we should change the language because we now see God differently, seems to me to give several games away.
(8) I think that most societies have had a more sophisticated set of linguistic presuppositions than Modern European Man. Classicists will recall the Homeric rhapsodes, who did business in a dialect of Greek which never ever had been used anywhere in Greece. And the Doricising traits of choral lyric.

I conclude with a passage kindly sent in by Thomas a couple of years ago, taken from The Earliest English Poems by Michael Alexander (Penguin 1966).

" ... old English prose never achieved the sophisticated word-order and complex synrtax of Greek or Latin. This does not apply to verse ... the poets used a special archaic diction inherited from days when their art had been purely oral. This word-hoard amounts almost to a language within a language; it differs greatly in vocabulary and syntax from the rudimentary attempts of the prose writers - because ... the poet is the keeper of the traditions which hold the cynn (the kin) together ... the older a word was, the more it was vlued by the cynn ... the poet is historian and priest, and his songs have ritual significance. That is why the language of the poets was so deeply conservative, and why the written records of it that we have show it so different from the language of the earliest prose-writers."

To which I would add a reminder of (the Anglican) Catherine Pickstock's brilliant account of the Classical Roman Rite in terms of oral culture (Beyond Writing). As well as reading Mohrmann, the tinkerers in Rome would be well advised to read Pickstock.

13 March 2017

Benedict XIV, Clement XIV, and Clement XV.

Once again, I visited the bust of Pope Benedict XIV in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum for one of my periodic discussions with that great Pontiff. There is a brief summary for non-Latinists at the bottom.
Res mira! Hodie ridentem inveni magnum et carum pontificem! Quem saepe lugentem, miserum inveneram, quinimmo paene flentem, tot miseriis adflictum propter vulnera in Ecclesiam Militantem his temporibus illata, hodie palam gaudentem aspexi. "Cur Domne laetaris?" rogavi. "Propter tuum Zuhlsdorfium" respondit "virum lepidum et ad cor meum, qui mirabiliter prae Mundi oculis exhibuit amicum meum Ganganelli, meum in Sede Petrina sub nomine Clementis XIV successorem. Tot poculis huius papae et imagine et armis adornatis per orbem terrarum missis, gloriam tanti historici valde promovit et promovet!"

"Poculis tam bonis cotidie utor. Sed amicus tuus, Sancte Pater, Ganganelli fuit? Historicum dixti?"

Parvum emisit suspirium. "Ignorasne quot et quanta pro Iudaeis defendendis hic gesserit?" Ignorare me demissis oculis confessus sum. Ille "Iudaei per saecula multa inter homines nefasti et scelesti habebantur. Hoc illis crimen scelestissimum adlatum est, eos sanguine Christianorum et praesertim parvulorum in suis panibus conficiendis uti et usos esse. Quam rem Ganganello meo commisi penitus inquirendam. Omnia perscrutatus omnia lucide monstravit: crimen omnino falsum esse; nil tale unquam factum. Et Poetae Tragici L. Annaei Senecae fautorem se doctum monstravit. Gavisus sum maxime illo in Sedem Apostolicam postea promoto. [Hic pausam aliquantulam fecit et venuste subrisit] Sed audi! Hoc quoque placet et placebit ... dies nunc appropinquat liberationis vestrae."

Attonitus tacui. Deinde "Qui dies quae" dixi "liberatio?"

Circumspexit ne quis prope esset auditor; tum suo more cautius murmure parvo hoc mihi patefecit: fore ut pontifex Romanus ... e suo loco tolleretur! Quae secutura dixit, me prohibuit nuntiare; hoc tantum vobis dicere possum, tempora breviora. Idcirco annuntio vobis gaudium magnum!! Non habebimus papam!!!

Abire parantem me detinuit. "Et novi quid tu, improbe, paucis his ante diebus egeris" ait. Rubui et immotus steti. "Ubi Domne?" "In viis et angiportibus Urbis nostrae". "Quid Domne?" "Proscriptionibus muros texisti. Papam accusationibus iustissimis verberasti. Et novi quibuscum hoc feceris".

"Tace Domne tace" perterritus clamavi. "In Urbe vestra muri scelerum conscii silent; haec Oxonia nostra est, cuius urbis muri auriti sunt; quaecumque audiunt vix mora interposita conclamant".

Papam cachinnantem currens effugi et hoc benigne addentem "Natalem tibi hodiernum, pusille, quam faustissimum precor!".

If your Latin is a little rusty, all you actually need to know is: get your Ganganelli mugs from Fr Zed fast because they may soon be valuable historical items. IMPORTANT!