20 February 2019

A Philological question

This is in preparation for the post I have drafted for Thursday.

The words Crony and its derivatives.

I presume they are in use in American English just as much as in our own cispontine dialects.

Do other European languages have the same concept; and, if so, how do they express it?


If you want some good old-fashioned 'Eye Candy' this is the book for you. Beginning with a happy photograph of Benedict XVI, in whose honour the work is published, A history of St Agatha's Church Portsmouth gives you page after sumptuous page of pictures.

S Agatha's was one of the great late Victorian Anglo-Catholic churches, marking the begining of the era when Anglo-Catholics stopped saying "We are the heirs of 1548" and began to see themselves as Mediterranean Catholics who ought to be in communion with the Holy See. So Romanesque S Agatha's is the grand San Marco of Portsmouth! Fr Dolling at first thought of building a simple church; but then he realised that a dirty slum was the ideal place to build something spectacular. Therein lies the genius of the Anglo-Catholic Mission to the Periphery, the English urban slums. Bergoglioids, take note!

Hitler destroyed the parish; the Church was nearly destroyed by the town council soon after. As 'Bauhaus' Pevsner explained, it wasn't either old enough, or new enough, to merit preservation. As one councillor observed, it represented the Portsmouth of the Past, whereas the commercial development which was designed to swallow up its site represented the Portsmouth of the Future (that development has now of course been itself demolished ... you knew I was going to say that, didn't you?).

This book takes you through the building and decoration in the 1890s; the years of the Blitz; the restoration of the church under Fr Maunder; and today's Ordinariate High Mass therein.

You see, the congregation was able to bring its Church into the Ordinariate! So it now represents the optimistic Spirit of late Victorian Anglo-Catholicism and the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the 1930s together with the exuberant Traditionalist Catholicism of today's Ordinariates! 

This last is exemplified in the new painting over the Altar of the Shrine of S Agatha: S Agatha securing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus from our Lady to give it to Pope Benedict, with the former Anglican incumbents in the foot of the picture, rejoicing in this the final fulfilment and justification of their heroic work and ministry.

So much prayer; so much beauty!

And for so little money!! £4+£2 for package and posting = £6 in all, from

Father John Maunder
9 East Street
PO16 0BW

19 February 2019

Father Ernesto Cardenal

The angels weep and the demons rejoice when the priesthood of one priest is lost.

I thank God that PF has restored priestly faculties to Fr Ernesto Cardenal.

Antinous ... why did he have to be killed?

There is a minute ... tiny ... but interesting exhibition in Ashmole about Antinous, ending in a few days' time, at the end of this very week. And it is accompanied by a stylish and intelligent little book by Professor 'Bert' Smith (Antinous boy made god ).

[Those who know zilch about Antinous should either google him now or not bother any further with this blogpost.]

Briefly, Dr Smith's curatorial thesis is that, apart from founding Antinoopolis and providing an 'offical' image of Antinous, Hadrian did little to promote Antinous' cult. It spread in the same sort of way, and for the same sorts of reasons, as the cults of other neoi theoi (or heroes) in the early centuries AD. As such, it was in competition with other cults, such as Christianity. Unlike Christianity (but like the cult of, for example, Isis) it was deliberately syncretistic. Antinous could be identified with Dionysus or Silvanus, or with Osiris, the Egyptian and Ptolemaic god of Resurrection (vide infra). (At a time when the Catholic world has been shaken by apparently syncretistic errors from the pen of the Roman Pontiff himself, it is perhaps useful to remind ourselves how the Christians of the first four centuries defined themselves very sharply over against their syncretistic environment.)

I think I buy the exhibition's thesis. But I have my own theory about the mysterious death of Antinous, drowned in the River Nile.

I believe Hadrian had him killed.

Why? Because he had reached just the age when, in the Emperor's eyes, his ephebic beauty was finished. Hadrian, I suggest, wished to 'preserve' him permanently as he had been. It was a matter of ensuring that He shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary him nor the years condemn ...

Most of the exhibits in this little exhibition show Antinous looking demurely down: an indication of sexual modesty. In fashionable upper-class Hellenistic paederastic culture, bold promiscuous boys were rather disapproved of. But Antinous had now reached the age at which he would naturally ... er ... graduate from being an eromenos to being an erastes. Hadrian, I believe, thought it much more artistic, decorous, and culturally tactful to render him immortal and immutable by drowning him, than to have a grown-up Antinous busily bedding all the lads and/or lasses at court.

Have I any evidence? Well, I do think I just may have. Antinous was drowned in the Nile on 24 October 130 ... the same day of the year on which Osiris, according to his cult followers, was ... drowned in the Nile!

Roughly a 1 in 365 chance of that being coincidental ...

As his villa at Tivoli makes clear, Hadrian was, through and through, an aesthete. And a thinking aesthete. But was he a sentimentally engaged paiderastes?


Only this week, news comes through of a spectacular 'new' Pompeian painting of Narcissus (to be added to the more than 50 Fourth Style paintings of this subject already known from the same town). This particular myth appears to have been homoerotically framed in pre-Ovidian poetry (vide Conon apud Photium), but was mostly heterosexualised (through the addition of Echo) by Ovid. I sometimes wonder whether paiderasteia really came naturally to most Romans, although they did their conscientious best in their imitatio of Greek originals and models to get themselves into the mood for it. Conon's motif of the spurned lover Ameinas, who killed himself outside the door of his beloved Narcissus, was utilised in another place (XIV 698sqq., Iphis and Anaxarete) by Ovid, but (again) heterosexualised; and lightened with a characteristically Ovidian dash of sick and aloof slapstick.


I suspect that, even for Hadrian, Epheberasteia may have been more in the mind and in the library and in the pinakotheke than in the groin. But who am I to judge?

18 February 2019

Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto (2)

So why didn't Cardinal Mueller mention the Petrine Ministry in his Manifesto? I'm sure his attachment to the Decrees of Vatican I on the Primacy and Infallibilty of the Pope is as strong as my own.

(1) The question has been raised: does the question of the papal Magisterium concern the Christian Faith: or is it about the circumstances under which one might be told something about the Christian Faith? If the latter, then it may be that statements like "The pope is infallible" have a greater similarity to claims like "The Bible is true" than they do to such dogmatic teaching as the Hypostatic Union and Transsubstantiation or moral teachings such as the indissolubility of Marriage. And it would be very understandable for Cardinal Mueller to have left the papal function out of the equation at a time when the papal function is ... well, to put it bluntly ... not functioning. [To those might argue that some of what PF teaches is orthodox, I would reply that such a confused situation is more dangerous that a situation in which everything is untrue.]

(2) The Anglican dogmatic theologian Eric Mascall raised the question of how essential the Papacy is to the Church. I am sure that, as a permanent element in the Church's divine constitution, it is in one sense completely essential. It was placed within the Church to be, as an institution, the centre of Unity; of government; of teaching (most solemnly, when that teaching is ex cathedra). But is it essential in the sense that the Church ceases to exist during a papal Interregnum? Hardly. Mascall writes about an "extreme difficulty" produced "by the fact that, between the death or abdication of one pope and the acceptance of election by his successor, the Church is ... without an earthly head. ... it is a good thing for the Church to have a pope; it does not in the least show that it is necessary ... the pope is not of the esse but only of the bene esse of the Church. If he were of the Church's esse, we should have to hold that, during a papal vacancy, the Church simply ceased to exist. And this is no merely theoretical point; after the death of Clement IV in 1268 the papacy was vacant for two years, nine months, and two days."

I would add that, according to the Archbishops of Westminster, there was an interregnum of some seven years between the death of "Alexander V" [whom Westminster, rather oddly, claims to have been a true pope] and the election of Martin V in 1417.

But I rather doubt whether this is the sort of consideration Cardinal Mueller has in mind.

(3) I think a nimbler hare would be Blessed John Henry Newman's terminology about the Arian Crisis. He said that the Church's Teaching Authority was "in suspense" for about sixty years, during which time popes, bishops, and councils failed to Teach or failed to give orthodox teaching. (One of the English bishops tried to delate JHN to Rome for this analysis, but without success ... perhaps Pio Nono's business managers felt they enough hassle on their hands with Doellinger and Hefele ...)

I take Mueller's fine Manifesto as a sensible and valuable action to fill the gap at a time when PF has placed his Magisterium in Suspense by improperly employing his office to promote oddities, errors, and ambiguities which sound like heresies, instead of teaching the Faith which he received from his predecessors. The Manifesto looks like the nearest thing we shall get to reliable Magisterial teaching during this pontificate. It deserves to be used as such by those whose duty it is to set forth God's saving truth.

The Manifesto is an admirable and orthodox initiative to supply a need, and to forward the process of working towards the eventual restoration of what we have sadly lacked since the abdication of Benedict XVI: videlicet a teaching papacy.

17 February 2019


The ancient usage of the Western Church suggests you should ... now ... be reading the book of Genesis in your Divine Office. And that you should have started reading Genesis today, Septuagesima. Thus, the Roman Breviary; thus, the Anglican 1961 Lectionary for the Divine Office, authorised in the American and Australian Ordinariates (but, strangely, not in the English Ordinariate).

During Lent, of which Septuagesima is the preamble, we repent of the Fall and the mark which it has left on each successive age of human history and on each one of us. Lent leads up to Easter Night, with the great, the outrageous impudence of the Deacon's shout: O felix Culpa: O blessed iniquity (that's Knox's Patrimonial translation ... now, gloriously, restored for use in the Ordinariates!!!); the marvel of Adam's Trangression which deserved such and so great a Redeemer. And then Eastertide invites us to live the Risen Life with and in our New Adam.

The S Pius V/Book of Common Prayer/Ordinariate Eucharistic psalmody for Septuagesima and its season express this spirituality. The Introit is about "The sorrows of Death", recalling the Genesis theme that the pains, labours, and mortality of Man (and not least of Woman) result from the Fall. Yes, I know that the Gesimas were probably introduced by S Gregory the Great at a time of great distress, strife, and chaos in Italy - which does lie behind the sense of agony and helplessness in this and other texts. My point is that it was the Pontiff who discerned a connection between a world ravaged and disordered by the Fall ... and the realities of late sixth century Italy. How can anyone who reads the newspapers doubt that a similar connection is just as possible now?

I incline to believe that S Gregory has left us his own explanation of his liturgical creation, Septuagesima, in the passage from his writings of which the old Breviary gives us a portion in the Third Nocturn (Hom 19 in Evang.; the full text of which is handily available in PL 76 coll 1153sqq.). Speaking, according to the manuscripts, in the basilica of S Lawrence one Septuagesima morning, he explains the different times of the day referred to in the Sunday's EF Gospel (the parable of the Husbandman hiring labourers for his vineyard): "The morning of the world was from Adam to Noah; the third hour, Noah to Abraham; Sixth, Abraham to Moses; Ninth, Moses to the Lord's Advent; eleventh, from the Lord's Advent to the end of the world". The EF Epistle reading ends with the disobedience of many in Jewry in the time of Moses ("in many of them God was not well-pleased"); the Gospel concludes "Many were called but few were chosen".

While there is no doubt that the Tradition has seen this applying to those Jews who rejected the Messiah's call, Bible and Fathers leave no room whatsoever for complacency on the part of Gentile Christians. The whole point of I Corinthians 10, from which the Septuagesima EF Epistle is taken, is that the fall from grace which happened to some who were "baptized into Moses" is just as much a fall awaiting some of those who have been baptised into Christ. And the passage from S Gregory selected for Mattins ends sharply "At the Eleventh hour the Gentiles are called; to whom it is said 'Why are you standing here lazy all day?' " S Gregory goes on to ask "Look what a lot of people we are gathered here, we're packing the walls of the church, but, y'know (tamen), who can know how few there are who're numbered in the flock of God's chosen?" ... a decade or two ago, the Principal of an Evangelical PPH in this University got into terrible trouble for asking a question rather like that.

Divine election ... Human disobedience ... its just punishment in the tribulations of the present age...  followed by a call to Christians to recollect their own sinfulness before Lent begins: it all looks to my eye like a very coherent Proper. Perhaps it is a trifle politically incorrect: the Journalist In The Street tends indignantly to demand of fashionable bishops whether Disasters are a Divine Punishment and why it is that a good God ... all that ...  but Stay: my assumption is that this blog has a superior class of theologically literate readers who can do the theodicy stuff for themselves.

I urge those who can, to read S Gregory's entire homily; it ends with a lurid and lengthy account of an unrepentent sinner at the point of death; it is a real mission-sermon rant such as Fr Faber might have preached to his recalcitrant Irishmen before he moved on to (what Newman called) the 'second rate gentry' of Brompton. S Gregory wasn't half the Latin stylist that S Leo was; but, to be regretfully honest, I sometimes doubt whether the plebs sancta Dei understood much of S Leo's lapidary periods ... but I bet you could have heard a pin drop when S Gregory launched into one of his purple passages and the pontifical spittle was really flying.

16 February 2019

This Blog Needs More Heraldry

I plan, in the middle of next week, a little post on heraldic intercourse between Cardinals. Meanwhile, may I briefly float this: a laicised cleric ought to have the right to display his status armorially.

For Cardinals, perhaps this could be done by superimposing on the shield  and on the galero a small escutcheon of the arms of S Gallen in Switzerland.

Any Bishops who, being  heterosexual, have begotten children would need some small elegant charge which the heirs male of their body would be proud to inherit and to display. Ideas? A mitre, perhaps, debruised by a baton sinister?

My problems with a particular Novus Ordo Preface (only for the Latinate)

This is an old preface tinkered with in the 1970s. It is provided, in several Sacramentaries, either for the last Sunday after Epiphany or for Sepuagesima itself. So I suppose it is ... sort of ... seasonal.

Praefatio III de Dominicis per Annum.

VD ... omnipotens aeterne Deus: Ad cuius immensam gloriam pertinere cognoscimus ut mortalibus tua Deitate succurreres; sed et nobis provideres de ipsa mortalitate nostra remedium, et perditos quosque unde perierant, inde salvares, per Xtm Dnm nostrum.

I first started thinking about this ... you know how it is  ... because I couldn't think of the answer to a rather obvious question which a III Former could probably suss: why are the subjunctive verbs in Historic Sequence (i.e. Imperfect Subjunctives)? I still haven't shifted this log-jam in my mind ...

In despair, I ended up, as one does, looking at the Verona Sacramentary, which I suspect has the earliest known version of this preface (beginning of October). Basic differences are these: for the "pertinere cognoscimus" VS simply had "pertinet"; and the subjunctive verbs were in the Perfect Subjunctive: "succurreris ... provideris ... salvaris". These perfect subjunctives seem already to have mutated into imperfects in the Sacramentarium Bergomense and the 'Gregorian' Missal. [Salvaris is by a common syncope for salvaveris. One source, incidentally, has its knickers in a real twist: it reads succurras.]

Are we to interpet the Verona Sacramentary version as "It pertains to your ginormous glory that you have succoured ... have provided ... have saved ...?" This seems to me to make better sense and grammar than the (I suspect) subsequent alterations. It is, indeed, roughly how current ICEL actually translates the formula.

15 February 2019

Without the Father ... Cardinal Mueller's Manifesto (1)

I have now withdrawn from public view the piece I wrote about Pope Honorius, together with its thread. I had been genuinely irritated at the constant stream of "of course" comments from angry sedevacantists, and thought I would give them the opportunity of answering specific questions. It certainly did winkle them out of their shells, didn't it? Enough hot air to affect disastrously our Global Warming (no; I will not accept comments on Global Warming), but nothing as vulgar as actual answers to my actual questions. Henceforth, no comments will be published from those who want to make my blog an instrument for promoting Sedevacantism or Invalidism.

Now, I think, we must move on.

Silence can say more than a million words. Conan Doyle's dog, for example, that did not bark in the night. I think the most striking thing about the Manifesto given us by Gerhard Cardinal Mueller was what it did not mention ...

 ... the Papacy.

Just consider the amount of controversy the question of the Petrine Ministry created at the time of Vatican I; how much controversy there has been between Catholic and non-Catholic polemicists. Consider the Personality Cult which has surrounded popes since, I think, roughly the last part of the pontificate of Blessed Pius IX. A cult that treats the Roman Bishop like a demi-god or a pop star. I have written about it several times. I think it is sentimental and mawkish, sickly, corrupt and corrupting. It was certainly not invented by PF and his cronies, but it has reached a new theological peak in this pontificate. Curial cronies tell us that the Holy Spirit speaks through PF's mouth; the English bishops write letters to inform him that the Holy Spirit was responsible for his election and guides him daily; a Fr Rosica, incredibly, explains to us that the pope is free from the encumbrances of Scripture and Tradition. It is what I have called 'Bergoglianism'. I think it is not only sick in itself, but is a dangerous poison of rare toxicity within the Church Militant.

Yet, despite all this, Cardinal Mueller did not even mention this enormous elephant in a tiny room, even in passing.

I have not felt so refreshed for a long time.

To be continued.

14 February 2019

Catholicae Veritatis Magister

Today is the Obit of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Eric Lionel Mascall. I included his name, with immense gratitude to him and to the Lord who gave him to us, in the Memento etiam of the Mass of S Valentine this morning; thinking as I did so of the that familiar figure, back in the Sixties, murmuring this same 'Western Rite'* Mass privately, day by day, at one of the altars in 'Mags'. He possessed the same clarity of thought and the same willingness to think outside the dominant fashions of his day, as another shy and distinguished Teacher of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger. A Man of the Great Tradition.


*Thus we used then to describe what our new friends so fittingly call 'the Mass of Ages'.

13 February 2019

An Occupied City

I felt quite embarrassed, last Saturday, walking round Oxford with some American friends. I felt I had to explain that the Rainbow 'diversity' flag did not normally fly from the flagpole of every college. "I'm afraid it's Pink Week", I rather wetly said.

When film-makers produce WWII films, they very often show Swastika flags hanging down the fronts of buildings in occupied cities. It must have been a good period for having shares in flag-making businesses! It's much the same over here now, with the fascist 'rainbow' flags much in evidence. We are, indeed, an occupied land. I wonder who is carting off the profits.

Although Abortion is still an important cause for Establishment Fascism, the more up-to-the-minute trendy ikon is now transgenderism. Our papers regale us with stories of police activity to crush  Christianity and Decency and plain Common Sense by categorising them as 'Transphobia'. An old woman had the police in her house telling her off. A young mother was taken to the plodshop for seven hours, despite her autistic child and the baby at her breast. A witty TV scriptwriter (the creator of Father Ted) is being hauled through the courts. Getting one's pronouns wrong is a dangerous mistake.

British Police, you indignantly ask me, persecuting old women and nursing mothers? You needn't be surprised. It's happened before. When the Germans occupied our Channel Islands, the police collaborated manfully with the occupiers in rounding up Jews. (So did the governing elite of the Islands; a post-War intelligence report made clear that while every attempt was made to protect the Freemasons, no protest was made at the removal of Jews. After Liberation, it was decided that it was more in the interest of rebuilding national cohesion for the top islanders to be knighted rather than hanged.)

Policemen, of course, are only human. And they are trained to do as they are told. If Sir says"Round up the Jews", then your good English bobbies will get on with it. If the Gender-Fascists who run our Police Forces tell them to intimidate helpless citizens, the only question will be "How loud shall we shout?" If they are made to sit through Diversity Awareness Lectures, I doubt if many of them will get their cards marked and their careers ruined by protesting.

So we are all going to be bullied to acknowledge that a human with silicone breasts and a vagina that leads nowhere is a woman ... or pay the penalty of denying Caesar his pinch of incense. But there are compensations. We find, standing with us, some of the old-style feminists: such as dear old Germaine Greer, as brilliant as ever she was in the days of The Female Eunuch, who is now no-platformed for her preposterous notion that women are women and men are not women. And in the Times newspaper (on Saturdays) there is a very able columnist called Janice Turner, who knows her facts and knows how to deploy stylish rhetorical skills. Cicero would have been proud of her.

Whenever intelligent people of whatever background realise that it is their duty to resist the crass and sinister idiocies of the Zeitgeist, they are walking in the right direction. There is hope for humanity.

12 February 2019

Archdeacon George Austin

Orate pro anima Georgii Austin viri Venerabilis Ecclesiae Eboracensis quondam Archidiaconi necnon et Canonici Fidei quoque Catholicae propugnatoris qui nuperrime obiit.  C A P D