26 November 2020

Strike them down, Lord, and lay them low. (1)

The Leonine Prayers at the foot of the Altar after Mass represent a distictively nineteenth century way of dealing with a perceived need to seek urgent divine interventions in particular necessities. And, of course, there was always the possibility of saying a Votive or of adding additional Votive 'commemorations' to the proper prayers of the Day. (Not to mention the possibilities offered by the Litany form ... how very flexible our Western Liturgy has been.) 

But there was once a practice which brought such ad hoc impetrations into the very heart of the Liturgy itself. Surviving texts look rather like responses to the occupation of Terra Sancta by Islamic forces. And, in terms of liturgical logic, they may not be a million miles away from the motive ascribed by Canon Arthur Couratin to the inclusion of Intercessions in the Byzantine Anaphora at the point they now occupy there; i.e., we secure the Presence of Almighty God upon the Altar so that we can then make use of It to tell Him what we want.

Thus, at Sarum. on certain days, the community was prostrate after the Santus; then, after the Libera nos and before the Pax ...; Psalms 78, 66, and 20 were recited 'in prostratione'; followed by Kyrie ... and Pater ..., versicles and responses; and three collects expressing this intention: ut Terram quam Unigenitus Filius tuus proprio sanguine consecravit, de manibus inimicorum crucis Christi eripiens, restituas cultui Christiano ...

A second part of this will describe the ancient Carmelite devotions.

In the splendid  Altar-ready Sarum Missal produced this year by a learned and devout priest, you will find this provision on pages 330-331. I also gratefully thank Gregory diPippo for setting me on this track.

Psalms are numbered according to the Vulgate. 

25 November 2020


I think ... you could evidentially falsify this if you want to be a spoil-sport ... that the leader of our current de facto regime here in Blighty has recently abandoned two of his favourite 'hot air' rhetorical phrases, World-Class and World-Beating.

A pity. I loved them. They gave me a warm sense of familiarity, and they always had the capacity to set my mind wandering. "World-Beating Health Service" ... Really? Is it quite as bad as that? And then I would construct fantasies of Bojo gazing into camera with that direct, mesmerising look of utterly convincing frank sincerity, and mouthing phrases like:

"Our World-Class radio-active dumps."

"Our World-Beating criminal classes."

"Our World-Class utterly terrible books on Churchill." 

"Our World-Beating National Hypocrisy."

"Our World-Beating Russian Oligarchs."

Et similia.

24 November 2020


The news about the successful  Oxford University Corona vaccine seems to be a matter of considerable rejoicing, except among American providers who had been planning to sell their own vaccines at eight times the price. 

At this very same moment, the University of Cambridge (of Cambridgeshire in Anglia) has informed the Tab Plods that it has lost the diaries of Charles Darwin. Or it thinks it must have done. Some time within the last two decades. If anybody remembers spotting someone, during that period, walking off with ... ...  

There must be a sermon somewhere in this. Or ... better ... a limerick?



Our present head of regime has launched a whole flotilla ... at least a thousand ships ... of important new 'green' initiatives.

Why do I say a thousand?

Because the Media claim that this is all the result of the powerful influence of his current maitresse en titre

Very probably. I suspect that the Slaves of Clio, when they come write up this period, may indeed categorise the lady (purely in the political sense) as a Lady Castlemaine rather than as a Nell Gwynne. When he tires of her, I wonder if he will give her a dukedom for his parting gift. 

As he moves on, perhaps he will honour his progeny by her with the authentically Norman French surname ffitzbojo.


Last Saturday, The Times, once regarded as the organ of the Btitish Establishment and occasionally referred to as The Thunderer, contained a review by one of its retained columnists referring, obiter et iocose, to the head of regime ... a 'Conservative' politician ... as a "sex maniac". I wonder if this is a first ...

The latest scandal in which he has been involved, refusing to sack a senior female minister found to have broken the Ministerial Code, led one civil servant to comment: "We've always been used in this country to a 'good chap' system of government; that people will do the right thing in the end. This shows that Johnson doesn't play by those rules."

23 November 2020

SLAVERY ... Queries

(1) ... I put this forward ... no agenda ... just out of curiosity ... Which Saints do we know to have been slave-owners? Saint Philemon, I seem to recall, is on the Byzantine Calendar. And I have one or two other totally tentative enquiries:

(2) Why is there no splendid, eye-catching, monument to those coastal inhabitants of South-West England, whose villages were raided by Algerian Corsairs and who were kidnapped and sold into slavery? (I would nominate Carn Brae, the First and Last Hill, overlooking Land's End; it would be a help to the flagging Cornish tourist industry. It could sell cheap replica Arab currency from the Slavery period, together with other tawdry trinkets of the sort that the lower orders rather enjoy. 'Escape from Your Arab Slaver' games based loosely on the Monopoly principle would be a big hit. Children could be given 'Arab slave manacle' sets to play with. 'Slaver Whips' might interest those with exotic tastes. Wealthier and transpontine tourists would willingly purchase models of Arab slaving ships. Internet games enabling one to target and sink incoming corsairs ... etc. etc..)

(3) Is there a monument near Lepanto commemorating the glorious liberation of the Christian (and other) galley slaves exploited by the Turks? Where could I find video-clips of Mr Erdogan apologising for the galley-slave system? (What a shame Papa Montini, such a silly man, gave those Lepanto banners back to Brother Turk: they could have featured in a Lepanto Liberation Shrine.)

(4) I feel pretty sure the Incas and the Aztecs will have had slaves. Did slaves number among those who were flayed alive and viventes had their hearts cut out? What monuments exist commemorating the admirable elimination by Catholic Spain of these horrible indigenous cultures, resulting in the liberation of their slaves?

(5) What massive international studies are on hand into the African chieftains who enslaved members of 'lesser' tribes, and sold them on to the dealers, who then disposed of them to European slave traders? What are the Slavery connections of the Benin Bronzes culture? When will the bronzes be melted down and the bronze used for a great Monument erected to British sailors who lost their lives in putting down the slave trade?

(6) What stage has been reached in the campaign to have Washington (and Washington) renamed? Are there any countries so politically incorrect as to have portraits of Slaver Washington on their wretched currencies? Could we have him postumously tried for treason, and his remains hung up at Tyburn? Why don't we have annual celebrations of this infamous man's demise, centred on bonfires made up of cherry trees and with Washington effigies on top ... processions ... street parties ... on the day of his death?

22 November 2020

The Miraculous medal and the Anglican Patrimony

My excuse for reprinting, yet again, this piece from 2010, is that the Feast of the Miraculous Medal (November 27) draws close, and, in accordance with the CDF legislation of last March, this Mass, from the pro aliquibus locis appendix in the 1962 Missal, together with the accompanying Divine Office, is available for optional use. Given the connections with our Patron S John Henry Newman, I venture to suggest its suitability to all my brethren in the presbyterate of the Ordinariate.

On Saturday 27 November 1830, a young French nun, (S) Catherine Laboure, beheld her second and third visions of the Mother of God in the Sanctuary of her Convent Chapel in the Rue du Bac in Paris. Our Lady appeared to her, radiant, standing on a globe, and with her arms stretched out in a compassionate gesture. From her fingers rays of light fell upon the globe at her feet. An oval frame then formed around her with gold lettering that read: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Our Lady promised great graces to those who wore this design with confidence; she showed the Saint the design which now appears on the back of the Miraculous Medal: a large M surmounted by a bar and cross, with two hearts beneath it, one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword, all encircled by twelve stars.

In 1836, Abbe Desgenettes, who had taken over the Church of Our Lady of Victories (a church degraded and desecrated during the Revolution and with a minute congregation), dedicated his parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and founded a Confraternity of Prayer, which had the Miraculous Medal as its badge. In the days before S John Henry Newman's conversion, intense prayer was offered for him in this Church by the members of that very same Fraternity. Back in Blighty, it was on the Octave Day of the Assumption in 1845 (a very patrimonial day: it was also the birthday of blessed Edward Bouverie Pusey) that our great Saint first began to wear the Miraculous Medal.

Yes! The greatest intellect of the nineteenth century! Like the simplest of peasants, he wore a miraculous medal! Is there a sobering message here for our supercilious cultural pride? Should we each be a little more thorough in rooting out of our own minds the sordid dregs of Enlightenment superstitions? I stand by my mixed metaphor!!

Now back two or three years, to January 20, 1842. On this day, a wealthy Jewish banker called Alphonse Ratisbonne had, in the Church of S Andrea delle Fratte in Rome, a vision of our Lady just as she appeared on the Miraculous Medal. Shunt forward ... please ... to 1847: S John Henry and St John (who, after their reception, had visited the shrine in Notre Dame des Victoires in thanksgiving for the prayers offered for him there) found themselves now awaiting admission to the presbyterate of the Latin Church, lodged in the Collegio di Propaganda in Rome. Newman makes clear in a number of letters that their windows looked down on the Church of S Andrea delle Fratte; it clearly made some considerable impression upon him. On June 9 1847, his long-time intimate woman friend, Maria Giberne, painted a picture of Newman and St John in a room at Propaganda, with our Lady, as she appears on the Miraculous Medal, between the two of them.

In the 1962 Missal, in the Appendix pro aliquibus locis, November 27 is the feast of Our Lady Immaculate of the the Miraculous Medal. Let us hope that this commemoration, already lawful as an option in the Extraordinary Form, will one day make its way into the Calendar of the Patrimony!

HELP! Can anybody provide us with a link to the DIVINE OFFICE for this feast?

21 November 2020

The Pope, the Rabbis, and the Anglican bishop.

The Beeb, dear raddled old whore, has a sweet little 'religion' slot on the Home Service each weekday morning, called ... not A Word of Prophecy, not Speaking Truth to Power ... but (how very English!) Thought for the Day. Recently it was done by one of those jolly Anglican bishops who are happy to 'oblige' for the Meejah on the implicit understanding that they won't attack the Zeitgeist.

As many such people tend to do, this bishop celebrated the demise of a Significant Person by doing a nudge-nudge-wink-wink-I-knew-him act. He did this by pouncing on the late, great, Rabbi Lord Sacks ... who "said to me 'James, do you know what are the three most extraordinary words of Jesus?'"

The answer is But I say (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 44). Why I find the exchange interesting is that exactly this same perception is discussed at some length in Joseph Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth, where the author dialogues with Rabbi Jacob Neussner about the Sermon on the Mount.

Of course, there are such complications as possible Coincidence. But I feel reasonably sure that Sacks had read the Ratzinger ... and that the bishop hadn't.

And further ... I think Lord Sacks, who was nobody's fool, knew that the bishop would not have read Ratzinger!!

Ho, d'you think, Ho Ho? I do.


Well, it is fairly obvious that the head of regime is not going to honour his nod-nod wink-wink undertaking to Sir Edward Leigh to get the Churches open again. He is not a man of honour. But did any man or woman ever think ...

If I could make a single minor liturgical change this very morning, it would be to give today's lovely Festival of our Lady's Presentation in the Temple its old Byzantine name of her Entry Into the Temple, ad perpetuam memoriam of the year when Public Worship was proscribed in this kingdom for the first time since the eighteenth century. 

May our Lady pray for our country, that we may be delivered from tyranny.

20 November 2020

Dix Updated to Petroleum

Last June, 'Archbishop' Justin ("Buy my Crude! Sixpence a barrel!") Welby was asked about the 'politically incorrect' monuments and memorials which clutter up most of England's historical churches and cathedrals. (Vide The Times 10 November 2020)

"Some will have to come down, some names will have to change. The Church, goodness me, you just go round Canterbury Cathedral and there are monuments everywhere, or Westminster Abbey. We are looking at all that, and some will have to come down."

A lovely passage, in which incoherent syntax precisely matches buffoonery of content.

I feel that the time has come for me to update for you some words (1944) of Dom Gregory Dix about Anglican Bishops. You will easily spot where I have arrogantly tampered with his finer original.

"Even when the stately summer of the Carolines was over, the 'Whig grandee' bishops of the eighteenth century and the 'Greek Play' bishops of the nineteeenth still had something for which the well-meaning attempts of a gasolene salesman to appear Woke do not always quite compensate. It was a dignified tradition, with much of solid good about it, despite its gaps. But ... the loss of the old otium cum dignitate has brought with it a lowering of the general level of clerical scholarship, which counted for a good deal in the building up of that particular tradition."

POST SCRIPTUM Which monuments, according to Oilby, must 'change their names'? Nelson, perhaps, to be renamed 'Hamilton'? Nominations are invited.


[BTW ... on November 9 I let nostagia for an Anglicanism which still lingered on into the 1970s get the better of me. A friend has kindly sent me a 1972 video of Exeter Cathedral, which includes clips of the Rt Revd the Father in God Robert Cecil Mortimer, almost at the end of his long pontificate, solemnly administering Holy Orders in his Cathedral Church of S Peter. I hope the friend who sent it will provide a link to it.] 


19 November 2020

Little Liturgical Notes

In the statement by Arcbishops Nichols and McMahon (Wednesday 4 November), the two gentlemen called for a day of Prayer for the ending of the pandemic on "the Vigil of Christ the King (21st November)".

(1) How jolly. I had thought that Vigils, except as Saturday evening celebrations of the Sunday Mass (called a vigil mass), had been abolished in the course of the post-Conciliar disorders. It is always jolly to see the Bishops moving back behind Bugnini.

(2) In fact, November 21 is the Feast of the Presentation of our Lady in the Temple, not to be confused with February 2, the Feast once called the Purification of the BVM but renamed by Bugnini the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This November 21 festival has a rather low rank on Western Calendars, but is one of the Great Feasts in the Byzantine Rite. It celebrates the presentation of the three-year-old Mary to the Temple, where she stayed until puberty, being fed with paradisal food by angels. As befitted her unfallen state. Indeed, it has always seemed to me that there are conceptual links between this festival and that of the Immaculate Conception.

Yes, you did read my words aright.  At a time when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is strictly proscribed in our churches, we shall be celebrating ... the Entry into, and lengthy sojourn within, the Temple at Jerusalem, by our blessed Lady.

There must be a joke somewhere here. Can somebody help?

I wonder if some sweet little sharp-eyed labourer in the Liturgy Office of the CBCEW advised their Lordships against referring to November 21 by the title of our Lady's festival. 

We wouldn't want the Lower Clergy, would we, to have a laugh at the bishops' expense!

18 November 2020

Restoration at Ripon Minster

On 18 November 1569, a thousand and a half horsemen gathered in the market place in Ripon, under the Standard of (almost certainly) the Arms of Christ: the Five Wounds of our Redeemer. It had been embroidered by a daughter of 'Old Norton', the Sheriff of Yorkshire, the menfolk of whose family were prominent in events which preceded and followed. 

One of those present had been complicit in plots to rescue the Queen's Majesty of Scotland, who was imprisoned in nearby Bolton Castle. 

The insurgents marched off and took Barnard Castle, and a little later the Old Religion was magnificently restored in Durham Cathedral. But it all ended in tears; Bloody Bess issued orders to "make the examples great in Ripon and Tadcaster", and two Nortons were martyred at Tyburn.

Someone who got off comparatively lightly was Sir Thomas Blackburn, chantry priest at Ripon Minster, records of whom span the period 1540-1570, making him a sort of parallel figure to Duffy's Parson Trickay. He was among those who, at Elizabeth Tudor's accession, carefully stored away in a vault some 49 Catholic liturgical books. He also, together with four other of the Minster's Vicars, hid altar stones and secreted underground a number of English alabaster tablets (including the Resurrection and the Coronation of our Lady) which must have been elements in the reredoses of altars. 

Before the Rising, he  had been in trouble for failing to 'take down' the stone Altars, and admitted to performing Catholic Sacramentals, such as Churchings. He strenuously denied removing objects of idolatry from the Church: his protestations were presumably made with a good conscience, since he had not removed them but carefully buried them! After the Rising, in 1570, he was found guilty of offering the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and other Catholic liturgical activity. He was fined ten marks (£6 13s 4d) and ordered to do public penance in a white sheet. I wonder how a fine of ten marks would correspond, in real terms, to the fines available to the current regime for those pulicly offering Mass.

Trickay in Devon, Tregear in Cornwall, Blackburn in Yorkshire ... and how many hundreds others ... clerics and laics ... the good men who were not among the martyrs. They just did their best and kept their fingers crossed and hoped for better times. They are a special category who should surely not be forgotten (especially in the Ordinariates).

As S John Henry put it: "It took a long time to do [the Reformation] thoroughly; much time, much thought, much labour, much expense; but at last it was done. ... What a martyrdom to live in it and see the fair form of Truth, moral and material, hacked piecemeal, and every limb and organ carried off, and burned in the fire, or cast into the deep! But at last the work was done. Truth was disposed of and shovelled away ..."

17 November 2020

The Holy Father Speaks

"Non temo nulla, agisco in nome e per conto di nostro Signore. Son' un incosciente? Difetto di un po'di prudenza? Non saprei cosa dire. Mi guida l'instinto e lo Spirito Santo."

Being a mere convert, and not even a Beda man, my Italian is extremely poor. I append below the best translation I can manage, after much labour, of these recent words of PF, in the hope that a competent linguist will be able to correct any nuances I've got wrong.

So here goes.

"I do not have the faintest idea about the nature of the Office I hold. I simply regard it as a sort of nursery playpen in which I can throw my toys around, or smash them up, whenever and however the mood takes me. Waaaaaahhh ... "