10 December 2016

Response to query

Fr Aidan Nichols OP wrote Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony: the Personal Ordinariate of our lady of Walsingham, Gracewing, 96pp, pbk, £7.99. Before the Ordinariates were erected, the same author wrote The Panther and the Hind, a more historical and theological exploration of the ground.

Is Fr Z important?

I would not wish to imply that Fr Z is ever anything other than tremendously important! I wish I had half his erudition and energy! But I do wish to suggest to you that his post yesterday was very, very important indeed. ... I wish the Thesaurus offered more synonyms for "important" ...

Father gave links to a highly important paper by Professors John Finnis and Germain de Grisez. Some readers might be unaware of what enormously significant scholars these are. For decades, they have been expounding the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, and doing so in complete fidelity to the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition that comes to us from the Apostles. But doing so with a profundity and a freshness of touch which constitutes a valid and illuminating "development" of that Tradition. Finnis, of this University, is a jurist and a philosopher of Law with an international standing (an important constitutional case which has this week been argued before a full eleven judge bench of our Supreme Court involved discussion of a paper which he he had written). I mean no disrespect to the Four Courageous Cardinals when I say that the entry by Finnis and de Grisez into the Amoris laetitia controversy is probably the most disabling intellectual blow yet delivered to the shadowy and heterodox circle which surrounds our Holy Father.

Fr Z also provided a link to a sermon preached by Papa Bergoglio in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Coming as it does so soon after publication of the Sovereign Pontiff's words about shit-eating, this puerile and unbalanced attack upon those the pope appears to enjoy hating seems to me ... I feel compelled by Canon 212 paragraph 3 and the Holy Father's own often expressed desire for Parrhesia to say this ... to raise disturbing questions about Pope Francis' mind.

I shall not enable any comments upon that last paragraph.   And, by the way, I have recently declined to enable a number of comments because of the violence of their language or their espousal of heresies such as Sedevacantism. And, if you desire me to get in touch with you personally and privately, you need to send me your email address.

9 December 2016

Blue vestments

If Spain is entitled to blue vestments on December 8 because of its role in promoting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, I would have thought that a fortiori England would be even more entitled.

The use of blue among Anglicans for Advent is part of the old (Percy 'dishonest plagiariser' Dearmer) idea that you show you are are a loyal Anglican and not a beastly Romaniser by discovering details in medieval English usage which diverge from modern Roman custom, and then proudly parading them. An example of such Dearmerism, so I have been told, survives at Exeter Cathedral, where they use blue in Advent. If true, this is all the more daft because, whatever they did elsewhere in England, at Exeter Bishop Grandisson's Ordinale (14th century) clearly required violet (the dear Burgundian old boy very naturally preferred to operate iuxta morem curie Romane). Incidentally, in case any of you were wondering, its Latinity does carefully distinguish between violet and blue.

It allows, however, although optionally (non inconvenienter indui possent), the use of blue on double feasts in Advent and Lent. Since the Conception was a festum duplex, we have here "English" precedent for using blue on December 8.

Rumour has it that the use of light blue for feasts of the Theotokos is common in the Russian and other 'Slavic' Churches. Is this by Western influence? I find it a little unexpected in as far as in Byzantine iconography our Lady is normatively clad in red.

8 December 2016

Ta Niketeria: GAUDE MARIA VIRGO ...

... cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo! The Theotokos is Joy embodied, because she has trodden down beneath her virgin foot every heresy whatsoever and wheresoever. Her Immaculate Heart which enables her to behold the Father with unclouded vision (Matthew 5:8) will prevail, because (and only because) her Divine Son has told us to be of good courage for he has overcome the kosmos (John 16:33)As she once put down the Arians, so today her immaculate purity puts down the errors of those who downplay sexual promiscuity and puff up a great dark fog around the distinction between the Holy Estate of Matrimony and what they call, proudly flaunting the sophistication of their punctuation, "'irregular' situations". Yes; there most certainly has always, since the Fall, been sexual sin. But in not many ages has it merited such sympathetic almost-approval by some in such lofty places.

Today, God willing, there will be published another contribution to the debate within the Church, written by a tiny group who wish her well. Please read it and, of your charity, pray for them, and for all the others who may read it. But above all, put away fear. Let Mary make a man of you.

Our Byzantine brethren hail the great Mother of God with the title Hupermakhos strategos; our Great Fieldmarshall; the one who Transcends the Battle. It is to you, Unbrided Bride, that we ascribe the Victory Songs!

7 December 2016

Dom Prosper Gueranger and my last fifty seven years

Six years ago, a kind friend passed on to me a full set of the volumes of the English version of Dom Gueranger's wonderful  L'Annee Liturgique; a series which I had first met years ago as an Anglican when I was preaching a Priests' Retreat in the Devon house of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary at Posbury St Francis. The sitting room set aside for my use had, around its walls, most of the library - including Gueranger - of Prebendary John Hooper, the charismatic priest who decades before had fostered my own vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. He was part of that admirable phenomenon (its survivors are now mostly in the Ordinariate): the Exeter Mafia, Anglican Catholic clergy who spent most of their priesthood in that diocese. He was a drinking companion of Bishop Robert Mortimer, the scholar-bishop and moral theologian (They haven't had many of those in the C of E - perhaps that is the root of some of their current tragedies). Fr John had been the Posbury community's Warden; and, indeed, he was buried under the trees in their quiet and still graveyard. But I had come under his influence much earlier when he was Vicar of S Mary Mags, in this city, then its great Anglican Catholic centre. I first saw him on the feast of our blessed Lady's Immaculate Conception in 1959, when I was in Oxford as a hopeful schoolboy sitting the Scholarship examinations. Purely by chance, if there is, in God's providence, any such thing, I happened to wander into Mags that evening when the High Mass - according to what we now call the Extraordinary Form and in the language of the English Missal - was being celebrated. What an exquisite ... quite apart from everything else ... aesthetic experience! How marvellous that we now have that selfsame liturgy available to us in the Ordinariate!


Opening Gueranger at random, I hit upon these words about the beginning of the (EF) Mass. "But see, Christians! the Sacrifice begins! The Priest is at the foot of the Altar; God is attentive, the Angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the Priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the Cross with him."

Plummy, you think? I suppose so. "God is attentive": goodness gracious, that's a bit much isn't it? But isn't it the whole wonder of this most Adorable Sacrifice? - as Newman put it: "It is not a mere form of words - it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal."

Dare we? Audeamus dicere.

6 December 2016

Meeting old friends

Today we keep S Nicolas; for a couple of decades of my life, at Lancing, a Double of the First Class and a half-holiday when we all sallied forth down to Brighton to do our Christmas shopping or, in the case of the students, to imbibe. I remember browsing happily, one S Nick's Day, in that shop for remaindered books down East Street. I had my back to the window; and I was showing a scholarly interest in a large glossy volume entitled Forbidden Pictures From Ancient Pompei (I didn't buy it). Some cheerful drumming on the window behind me suddenly awakened me to the fact that a fair portion of the V Form approved warmly of my reading matter and shared my views about its academic significance.

The cultus of S Nicolas is one of the most ecumenical and one of the most ancient; he was a saint with as large a portfolio of Patronages as a Renaissance cardinal. He was, at Lancing, co-principal Patron with the Glorious Assumption of our Blessed Lady; on his feast day we used to sing the hymn composed for him by dear Basil Handford: Sancte, Sancte, Nicolas// Tute Patronus noster es// Laus et Deo Gloria// Sancte, pro nobis exor-a. So many of the waterside churches in Sussex, and elsewhere (Byzantine East as well as Latin West), have his Dedication. Wherever one goes, he is the old friend one so often seems to meet up with again. When we go to Gardone for the wonderful Roman Forum colloquium (have you signed up yet for 2017?), we offer our Masses each morning in the superb parish church dedicated Divo Nicolao (what a very 1750s way of writing!) high up the hillside overlooking the lake. Incidentally, one of the baroque ceiling paintings there shows S Nicolas Banishing the Moors. Megatopical?  Sancte, pro nobis exora!

But in the OF he is merely optional.

A point I would like to make is that the historical aspects of his cult mean that his observance is distinctly more significant than many feasts with a loftier 'intrinsic' status; even feasts, for example, of our Lord. S Martin is another saint about whom I would make a similar judgement. I would be far more outraged if either of them disappeared from the Calendar than I would at the disappearance of Christ the King from Excita Sunday, or S Joseph Opifex from May 1. Easy come, easy go, as Auntie used to say.

Does this mean that I lack the true Mind of the Church?

5 December 2016

Initiating processes

I've been thinking about the phrase "initiating processes rather than occupying spaces", which I heard somewhere.

I'm not a historian, but I think I read that Hitler never formally decreed the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem and certainly not verbally on paper; he just made sure that his intimates understood his feelings.

Is that the sort of thing the phrase means?

Patriarch Bartholomaios and Amoris Laetitia

So Patriarch Bartholomaios has put his money on Amoris laetitia. I think he may prove to be a ruinously poor gambler. But perhaps, as so often with regard to these Byzantines who are not yet in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, we should apply to their words a hermeneutic of asking what, in this exchange, are Constantinople and Moskow really saying to each other?

I rather doubt whether Bartholomaios, in his heart of hearts, really feels a lot of enthusiasm for a model of Universal Primacy which functions as the Bergoglian parody of the Petrine Ministry does. But Francis and Cyril met in Cuba ... Bartholomew's Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council failed (after so many years in preparation) to match up to the exacting standards of a damp squib ... the atmosphere in Istanbul seems to be getting dodgier and dodgier ... so I am not surprised that his All-Holiness currently feels badly in need of a Friend among the Big Boys in the School Playground.

I print here something I saw, words of one of our Separated Brethren, on the internet the other day:

"Speaking as one with a formal ecumenical dimension to his ministry, I can confidently say that the 'we' for whom I speak are prepared to sit down and discuss Benedict XVI's modest articulation of the papal office, whereas there is no way we could reasonably converse with Bergoglio, a dictator inventing dogma off the cuff who loves to dialogue with those who fully agree with him."

4 December 2016

Oxford Cathedral on December 4

I popped into the Cathedral the other day to warm my hands at what Mgr R A Kox and his chums in the SSPP would have advertised as a "Latimer and Ridley Pricket Stand". It is propped up against a modern and rather nasty statue of our Lady. Frankly, I think the flickering candles (none of that electrical technology here; modern Anglicans find Mystic Flicker more attractive) would be better placed before the bust of blessed Edward Bouverie Pusey, whom I quite often visit. He would have some things to say about .... and .......

What a powerful part of the Ordinariate's Anglican Patrimony Pusey is. How splendid it would be if the Ordinariate were able to fund some promising young scholar to edit and publish his (unprinted) lectures on Typology, perhaps also to reprint the University Sermon on the Eucharist for which he was suspended a munere contionandi for two years. Typology is the Catholic way of understanding and using Scripture, needed more than ever in these times. And Pusey's Eucharistic teaching, based as it is on the complete realism of the Greek Fathers whom he so lavishly quoted, is just what we need for an age in which most Catholics stroll up to a 'Eucharistic Minister' without any reverence, take a Host and then stroll nonchalantly away, conveying It to their mouths and consuming It as they walk. Is such determined and ostentatious irreverence known to have existed in any other period of the Church's history?

And nearby is the tomb of Robert King, last Abbot of Thame and Oseney and the only recorded Bishop of Rheon in partibus infidelium. He was assigned that see in 1527, apparently, with the intention that he should provide episcopal ministry in the Southern (Oxfordshire) part of the gigantic diocese of Lincoln. Why Rheon? Because it was still in the news ... many books had been written since the siege of Nigripontis in Euboea in 1470? The end of that siege was marked by the Moslems with atrocities and massacres and by their elaboration of interesting ways of killing ... such as the sawing in half of the Christian leader. Plus ca change ...

In 1542, Henry Tudor formed a new Diocese of Oxford, with one of King's Abbatial churches (Oseney, just the other side of the Thames) as its Cathedral and King as diocesan bishop. The cathedra was soon moved to the Chapel of Cardinal College, and Oseney sold off. King, a veritable Tudor Ecclesiastic, sat at Cranmer's trial and survived all the changes introduced by successive Tudor monarchs until his death on December 4 1557. He was the first and the last Bishop of Oxford to be in full communion with the See of S Peter. The see remained vacant until 1567, when Oxford's next Bishop, Hugh Curwen, was appointed. Bishop Bonner had consecrated him with the Apostolic Mandate according to the rites of the Pontifical to be the Marian Archbishop of Dublin, but he had conformed to the 'Settlement' of Bloody Bess ... do you think he now regrets doing so? ... and he died in 1568. The see then remained vacant until 1589 ... I wonder why. Did an effective sede vacante of more than thirty years, 1557-1589, have anything to do with the very recusant character of Elizabethan Oxford? Or simply result from the poverty of the see?

Quorum Animabus Propitietur Deus.

3 December 2016

Roland Freisler and the Volksgerichthof

It is commonly held that the Nazi jurist Roland Freisler, while president of the Volksgerichthof, knew that he would find his 'defendants' guilty before he tried them, and had determined upon the death sentence well before he sentenced them. According to the narratives and the Youtube clips, he did quite a lot of dramatic shouting during trials, emphasising fortissimo e prestissimo the self-evident guilt of those who stood as yet unconvicted before him.

I was reminded of dear Freisler ... such a straightforward sort of bloke ... when reading about the recent rantings of the Dean of the Rota, Pio Vito Pinto. Of course, Pinto was not sitting in court and trying the Four Cardinals. And Pinto, since he is a Judge in Marriage processes, would be unlikely himself to be involved judicially in any possible procedings against the Four. But, in our tame and gutless legal system this side of the water, it is, I think, generally held to be indecorous, and probably prejudicial, for any member of the judiciary to express with great decision views about the certain guilt of, and extreme penalties appropriate for, named individuals who have not yet even been formally accused and certainly not yet found guilty.

Clearly, these foreign chappies are not much like our own boringly phlegmatic, pedestrian, and unimaginative English judges. Could this be because our judges are not guided by such well-honed certainties about the Holy Spirit?

2 December 2016

A MUST BUY ... UPDATED

Those whose Altar Missal or Breviary dates from before 1962 will be familiar with the curious experience of realising, by seeing it in their books, that (e.g.) yesterday's S Andrew had, until very recently, a Vigil and a First Vespers. Whatever happened to them? Why are they nowhere to be seen in the 1962 books?

The tremendously Good News about Summorum Pontificum is that it has given seminarians and priests an enormous impulse to learn how to offer Mass according to the immemorially ancient Ordo Missae of the Roman Church.. If you, dear clerical reader, have learned how to do that, you don't need me to tell you that you have acquired a pearl of great price. But what is often not realised is that, as far as the Calendar is concerned, '1962' constituted a a very considerable break in continuity. You see, the process which led to the imposition in 1970 of the Novus Ordo did not start after 'the Council'; it had begun a couple of decades earlier when Pius XII and his youthful protege Annibale Bugnini set out on a two-decade journey to the Novus Ordo. During that period, Vigils and Octaves galore bit the dust; but perhaps the most questionable 'reform' of all was the abolition of First Vespers for all but the highest rank of festivals. This abolished the ancient Christian practice, inherited from the Synagogue, of starting a day on the previous evening.

What I am urging you to purchase, if you are not already familiar with it, is the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO for 2017. OK, you may very well not wish to follow it liturgically, but simply contemplating, day by day, what the old Roman Rite did before itching and twitching fingers got to work on it, is, believe me, a considerable education.

UPDATE: THE COMPILER HAS KINDLY PROVIDED A LINK FOR PURCHASERS. SEE THE THREAD. This ORDO can be sought from ordorecitandi@gmail.com; or from 59 Sandscroft Avenue, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7EJ, United Kingdom.

The Compiler of that ORDO also runs a blog explaining the pre-Pius XII Roman Rite the st lawrence press blog.

If 'Tridentine' is to refer to the actual liturgical books of S Pius V, as I think it probably should, then you can find out about the Tridentine Rite by looking at another blog by the same erudite author, called The Tridentine Rite. There you will discover that the Common Preface is (I mean, in the Missal actually issued by S Pius V) used on these green Sundays! You will also, I suspect, be surprised by some of the rather Puritanical prunings of the Calendar: for example, the elimination of 'non-biblical' feasts such as S Anne and the Presentation of our Lady. They soon returned, by popular demand; but they had sunk without trace under Pius V.

And the Office Hymns of S Pius V, of course, will not be those with which users of the 1962 Breviary are familiar. Those texts were produced in the 1620s by Urban VIII, aka Papa Barberini. The breviary of S Pius V had the ancient texts, sometimes totally different from the Barberini versions, which one will also find in the Sarum and Benedictine Breviaries.


Technical assistance, anywhere?

There is a rumour ... what a lot of rumours do float around in our Modern Church! ... that a member of the CBCEW recently endorsed the intemperate and disrespectful language used by a Latin-rite Greek prelate about the Four Cardinals. And that the same English bishop then went on to argue that those justified by grace might yet be incapable of living according to the moral law.

Gracious! I had rather thought that proposition attracted an Anathema at Trent. Perhaps readers who know their dogmatic theology a great deal better than I do could put me right on this.

And then I started to wonder: if a bishop does ... per impossibile, as it were ... walk into the position of being anathematised by an Ecumenical Council, does he fall victim to any Canonical penalty or sanction latae or ferendae sententiae? Excommunication, for example, to name but one. Or Interdict or Irregularity or Suspension or Deposition? Perhaps readers who know their Canon Law a great deal better than I do could put me right on this. We mere Ordinariate presbyters need a lot of help in understanding all this complicated technical stuff. We're just plain simple chaps.

Just think ... if only I were a proper Catholic priest, properly trained, I would know the answers to these tricky questions! And to so many more like them!!