31 March 2015

Our Chrism Mass

Another splendid Chrism Mass yesterday! Celebrated as ever by the Nuncio, as the Holy Father's particular representative; a lovely piece of symbolism since it reminds us that canonically and ecclesiologically we are directly under the Sovereign Pontiff himself; a detached portion, you might say, of the Church of Urbs Roma herself, miraculously transplanted into this our land. To great applause (I have to admit we did become a trifle unliturgical in our exuberance) Archbishop Tony, as I have heard him called, assured us (and not just once!) of the very special affection in which Pope Francis holds us. Among the massed concelebrants, our six formerly Anglican bishops. And Keith was very persuasive on Mission ... Chrisma as the "Oil of Mission". What a privilege it is to be incardinated into this splendid body.

Through an open door, I happened to notice, over the fireplace in the Ordinary's study, a fine painting of Bishop Graham Leonard. I felt quite touched; how marvellous to be reminded of that great Pontiff but, even better, to be reminded by him of our continuities ... that we lineally constitute as a Coetus  that Ecclesia Anglicana planted by S Augustine Romanissimus Romanorum which was violently wrenched into schism under the Tudors but then, over the grace-filled centuries, felt its way back to full Catholic orthodoxy and the fullest and most whole-hearted adherence to the Magisterium. (You should have heard us sing Praise to the Holiest at the end!) We have so much to be proud of ... Oops; I should have said, "Grateful for"; grateful for Grace, grateful for each other, grateful for Pope Benedict. God bless him! I am sure it is his prayers, joining with those of the amoluntos Theotokos of Walsingham and of Blessed John Henry, that propel us on our Way.

How the Clergy did chatter, before and after. We are so far flung that we have a lot of catching up to do. I don't think I heard one little bit of bad news; just talk of growth ... and "How's your family?" ... and "I didn't hear about the Letter until it had gone to press" ... and "What a lot of laity this morning, and weren't they cheerful?" ... and "Thank you so much for your blog" (Thank YOU, dear Fathers.) The only hints of sadness were occasional reminiscences of those who had said they would join us on our journey into unity with Peter, but who drew back at the last moment. How much more we could be doing if only ...

Perhaps we have spent too much time enjoying ourselves and not enough time in penitential prayer for them? I, for my part, plead guilty to that failing. God give them the grace to understand, and give to me the grace of self-denial.

30 March 2015

in tot adversis

Da quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui in tot adversis ex nostra infirmitate deficimus; intercedente unigeniti Filii tui passione respiremus.

Thus today's ancient Collect (Grant, we beg, almighty God: that we, who among so many adversities faint on account of our weakness, may through the mediation of thy Son's passion, get our breath back).

How extraordinarily up-to-the-moment those ancient prayers are. The Church is at this very minute under a great Satanic onslaught: she is still reeling from the wounds inflicted  by the monstrous evil of pedophilia: men privileged to take the Lord into their own hands morning by morning so as to offer the immaculate oblation with the purest of hearts became ... filth. Demonic cunning is putting the Church's doctrine of Marriage is under attack in some of the highest quarters of the Church. Sexual perversion is Proudly paraded before us, and woe-betide any who dissent. And, without the gates, Christians are hounded to Martyrdom by a foul and murderous superstition. Among so many adversities puts it mildly.

The new Rite retains this Collect. But it misses out the words in tot adversis [among so many adversities]. In the breezy and optimistic confidence of the post-conciliar years, we felt that as the Church made herself up-to-date, threw open her windows to the world, and blew her cobwebs away, old liturgical phraseology about her being besieged by afflictions was not particularly ben trovato.

Oh dear. How the chickens so carefully nurtured by the fashionable liturgists of the 1960s really are coming home to roost. One recalls the Lord's words about the yet greater demonic infestation which can occupy the swept and garnished house.

28 March 2015

Two notes in response to queries.

Gardone 2015 ... the Roman Forum ... google it ... I plan to write about it next Wednesday, but I do urge readers who can devote 10 days to high living combined with top-notch intellectual pursuits to suss it out and book now. I went last year and it was the experience of a lifetime. All that and Venice too!


Anthony Kenny wrote A Stylometric Study of the New Testament in 1986, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Simplicity and sophistication

"S Mark's Gospel must be the earliest to have been written because it is so much simpler; and its rough, primitive unsophistication ... "

"Early Christological models are inevitably simpler, indeed, more sincere, than the later Christologies, with their complex and artificial ... "

"The sophisticated theology and complex narratological techniques of S John's Gospel make clear that it can hardly predate the second decade of the second century ... "

"The worship of the Christian Churches, as it developed from the simple fellowship meals held by the early Christians in memory of Jesus of Nazareth ... "

"The palaeographic indications which appear to suggest that the papyrus containing the prayer Sub tuum praesidium dates from as early as the third century, must give way to the realisation that its developed Mariology cannot possibly ... "

So very many of the 'assured results of modern scholarship' have rested ultimately upon comfortable and rarely interrogated Enlightenment prejudices. To the mentality of the last two-and-a-half centuries, it has seemed obvious that 'primitive' simplicity must have been transformed, in a simple linear process, into greater complexity. Rousseau's Noble Savage, dated into mythical human pre-history, must necessarily predate the Bourbon Court! That such a methodological presupposition still survives among 'liberal' Christian academics is, it seems to me, another example of the failure of many such writers to keep up with advances in the secular study of the ancient world. Here is a passage, written in 1998 by Peter Parsons, Regius Professor (now emeritus) of Greek in this University and a very great papyrologist. He is surveying the large number of 'new' Classical texts which the sands of Egypt had yielded in the couple of decades before he wrote. (It is worth adding that discoveries since 1998 have done nothing to weaken his argument.)

" ... the new texts test the categories and structures of scholarship, the faible convenue which nineteenth century positivists based on the assumption that the texts then surviving were typical and to be explained simply in relation to one another. As usual, aesthetic prejudices and unquestioned categories lie below the scientific surface. Scholars used to regard Aeschylus' Suppliants as the earliest of his plays; it has a simple plot, little action, and long choruses. Now a papyrus has dated it, less than ten years earlier than the Oresteia. False assumption: that artists develop in linear mode, from simple to complex, irrespective of theme. Now that we have Simonides' celebration of the Battle of Plataea, the great patriotic war of classical Greece, we see how he reinvented epic in elegy, the Trojan war in the Persian war, Homer in himself. Standard literary histories had put such generic mutations and complex intertextualities two centuries later. Another false assumption: that classical poets were all genius without artifice (and that their successors all artifice without genius)."

26 March 2015

Wason's Bishop and his Extraordinary Sunday

As Catholic Anglicans, we had something like a century's experience of introducing what we used then to call "the Western Rite", i.e. the 'Tridentine' liturgy associated with the name of S Pius V, into parishes which had not previously known it. Quite often this was done overnight; as an interregnum came to its end, the newly instituted incumbent sprang (what Pope Benedict was later to name) the Extraordinary Form on the parish on his very first Sunday morning. I recently shared with you Fr Bernard Walke's moving account of how he did this at S Hilary's in Cornwall.

His friend Fr Sandys Wason did likewise at nearby Cury and Gunwalloe. A few months later, Fr Wason's bishop had heard that some of the congregation were restive. (Wason had also sacked a 'gentry' Churchwarden and appointed in his place a villager; and had expressed from the pulpit his view of the Ordo Recentior by holding aloft a Book of Common Prayer, and affecting to look inside it before throwing it down to the ground with the words "Made in Germany!") So the bishop announced that he was coming over the next Sunday to officiate in the church and to Sort Things Out. Probably surmising that his Lordship did not intend to use a rite that included the Third Confiteor, Father saw to it that he was already well into his own Tridentine Missa Cantata by the time the right reverend prelate's conveyance rolled up to the church. The latter announced to the large crowds of gaping sightseers who had come to watch the 'fun', that he would await the end of the Vicar's Service, and then celebrate the Holy Communion.

The Bishop underestimated both the stamina of the Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity ... and their appetite for Marian devotion. Immediately after Mass, with no greater interruption than the removal of his maniple, Fr Wason began Solemn Rosary ... not one of those rapid Irish Rosaries with the laity racing into the Holy Mary before the priest has even got to the fruit of thy womb, but a slow, meditative, Anglican Rosary in which, at the end of each Mystery, Father preached about it generously and extensively, allowing no typological crumb to fall unexamined to the ground. Eventually the Pontiff, almost fainting because he had not had a bite of lunch, gave up and was driven back to his Palace at Lys Escop. When Fr Wason - after delivering what may have been the most exhaustive treatise on the Coronation of our Lady in the history of Christian homiletics - finally emerged into the setting sun, he dismissed the waiting mob of journalists with a wave of his hand and the information that, since he was of course still fasting, he was off to have his breakfast.

Wason's Cornish critics did score some points against him, most notably when they dumped the putrescent corpse of a donkey on the Vicarage doorstep. There were times when West Country humour may have had its slightly heavy side.

Happy days, that blessed era of the Walkes and the Wasons, the glittering Age of Confessors when 'Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze'; and how authentically it is still right at the heart of our beloved Anglican Patrimony. We must keep alive in our three Ordinariates the spirit of those Heroes of the Faith! Memoria aeterna!

25 March 2015

ANGELUS DOMINI

There are customs surrounding the Angelus, familiar to those of the Anglican Patrimony, which I do not see in 'diocesan' Catholic churches.

(1) The use of the Angelus immediately after the main Sunday morning Mass;
(2) the singing of the Angelus;
(3) genuflexion at Et Verbum caro factum est; and
(4) the sign of the Cross at per passionem eius et cru+cem ... .

Can anyone throw any light on these customs (particularly their origins), which seem to me thoroughly admirable?


I rather incline to the narrative according to which the Angelus was instituted by Pope John XXII, who certainly did institute the Solemnity of Corpus Christi as we have it today. He 'provided' that great pontiff and builder and liturgist John de Grandisson to the See of Exeter, and I have long wondered whether that can possibly have anything to do with the fact that Grandisson's patron is commemorated in Avignon by a fine tomb of English manufacture.

24 March 2015

GERMANS ARE NOT ALL BAD!

Rorate reproduces a superbly savage piece by Cardinal Cordes smashing a great big hole through all the twaddle we hear from some leading members of the German hierarchy. Read it not only for its truth but for its wonderful rhetoric!

AND The Hermeneutic of Continuity contains an important letter signed by a very large number of British priests on the same subject of Marriage and the Synod. When Vatican II was happening and in the era of Humanae vitae, orthodox presbyters were largely quiescent. It is very good news that so many are resolved not to make the same mistake this time round. Apparently there have been some signs of pressure and intimidation to discourage clergy from signing. I have not been aware of any in the Ordinariate or in the Diocese of Portsmouth. Had I experienced such, I suspect I would have responded with brisk decisiveness, possibly citing the teaching of Dignitatis humanae on Conscience.

Dignitatis humanae: Fr Zuhlsdorf's QUAERITUR

An acute reader of the Archiblogopoios has pointed out to him a slipshod piece in the Vatican website English Language translation of Dignitatis humanae. This does not surprise me; long-time readers will recall that, until I came to fear that they would regard me as a bore for doing it almost daily, I repeatedly gave examples of the truth that very few people in the Vatican appear to have any competence in Latin.

I think I may be able to explain how the problem arose with this passage in Dignitatis humanae. It is easily explicable by recalling the methodology of Textual Criticism, which means the study of different versions of a text so as 
(1) to recover what the original text read before, in the course of scribal transmission, it became corrupt; and
(2) to demonstrate how the corruption occurred.

The Latin original passed by the Council Fathers, which of course does not need to be recovered because it is on record, reads ... contra suam conscientiam neque impediatur quominus iuxta suam conscientiam agat ...

What has happened here is that the English translator's eye slipped from the conscientiam at the end of the first clause to the conscientiam in the second clause, with the consequent omission of the words between. This slipping of the eye is called technically parablepsis. The fact that it is caused by two phrases or two lines ending with the same word (or even, sometimes, with just the same or a similar run of letters) is called homoeoteleuton.

These two phenomena in combination account for a considerable number of scribal errors both in Biblical and in profane manuscripts.

The interesting point here is the evidence that some people both inside and outside the Vatican really do not give a damn what the Council actually taught. Like all good old-fashioned witch-doctors, they use the words "The Council" as an arcane mantra, devoid of meaning, wherewith to beat SSPX or other traditionalists. But we knew that anyway.

23 March 2015

Genetics ...

... is a subject in which I have nil competence. And I haven't been able to obtain and read the widely reported Nature article (March 19, I think) about the genetic composition of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; I have had to rely on the reports in the 'broadsheet' papers.

But I feel two main problems (which of course may be dealt with in the full article). Firstly, the statement that "there is little Roman DNA in the British genetic make-up". You see, I don't even understand what such a negative actually means in this context. "Roman", in the first four centuries of the Christian Era, refers to people who could have come from the whole Mediterranean region. "Roman" soldiers and merchants came from anywhere between our Portugal and our Iraq; our Scotland and our Algeria. Many of them will never have visited Rome.

But more: if "Roman" is, on the contrary, intended to mean "only from the city of Rome", the problem is just as great. By the first century, Rome was a gigantic multiracial mix rather like modern London or New York. Even if everyone who came here between 40AD and 400 AD did come physically from the city of Rome and nowhere else, that, surely, still would not offer the investigator a single and simple genetic pattern to recognise or to fail to recognise.

Secondly: the investigators say they were surprised that "Celtic" turns out genetically to be a totally meaningless term. I am immensely surprised by their immense surprise. The "Celtic" myth was exploded in the 1990s at the latest. The word as currently used to bracket together the peoples of Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Man, Scotland, and Ireland, or to refer to the pre-Roman Iron Age inhabitants of Great Britain, is devoid of significatory content except in as far as it may retain linguistically a usefulness based upon the fact that it has conventionally come to denote two groups of similar languages. That convention, of talking about "the Celtic languages", itself goes no further back than 1707, when the Welsh scholar Edward Lhuyd invented it. As long ago as 1998, Simon James wrote "Society as a whole simply accepts Celtdom as a fact, and has made it part of itself. Scholars started the Celtic hare running. The hare has now turned into a chimera, and the debate over how to kill it - if we can, and if we have the right to try - is only just beginning." If people, even academics, persist in being misled into thinking that the term does have any substance, it might be better for the philologists to dream up a replacement term.

And can it be that this 'surprising discovery' is another example of the dividedness of the modern Academy; a world in which geneticists do not read archeologists? I'll stick my neck yet further out and say: a world in which 'scientists' are too grand to bother with 'historians'?

Can anybody supply me with a link to this article? If I have been completely, comprehensively, unfair, It's my duty to admiy it!


Footnote: The alleged distinctiveness of 'Celtic Christianity' was disputed by Kathleen Hughes in 1981 followed by many since; Professor Thomas Charles-Edwards of this University has written dismissively of "that entity beloved of modern sectarians and romantics, but unknown to the early Middle Ages - 'the Celtic Church'."

21 March 2015

The Magisterium: latest on the limits of Papal authority

Recently, Cardinal Mueller, in the faithful discharge of the office mandated to him by the Holy Father, has spoken frankly and lucidly about the limitations of the papal office. You will have seen his letter to the Hungarian bishops dated 13 January 2015 (in Vatican Documents).

His intervention is closely in line with the words of  Pope Francis' immediate predecessor: "In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... the authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition."

Thus wrote Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as part of his attack on that maximalising concept of the Papacy which, in the years after the Council, led to the notion that "the pope could really do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the the mandate of an ecumenical council". Let us be clear about this: he was explicitly criticising, not Blessed Paul VI, but an incorrect understanding prevalent during the Montini papacy, and doing so forcefully at a time when he was Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

It is not always observed
that our Holy Father the Pope Emeritus was alluding to a controversy which arose after Vatican I. Chancellor Bismarck had accused Vatican I of creating a view of the Papacy under which the Pope was an absolute monarch ... to the detriment of political and other liberties. The German bishops replied (Denzinger 3114) by denying that the conciliar decrees had this sort of effect upon the the civil loyalties of Catholics; and went on to say that "praeterea neque quoad res ecclesiasticas papa monarchus absolutus nuncupari potest, quippe qui cum subordinatus sit iuri divino et obstrictus sit iis quae Christus pro Ecclesia sua disposuit ... ". B Pius IX himself subsequently, formally but with great warmth, approved this statement.

And all this is simply a rolling-out, an explicatio, of the Great Negative of Vatican I in Pastor aeternus; its vitally important teaching that the Holy Spirit was not given to Roman Pontiffs so that they could teach novelties. Moreover, by defining the authority of Roman Pontiffs, that admirable Council automatically set limits upon it (this is a point emphatically made by Newman, LD. 170, 204). That is what the verb definire means. Finis is Latin for a boundary.


What is particulaly interesting and immensely reassuring about Cardinal Mueller's recent intervention is that he explicitly cites the CDF document of 1998, paragraph 7, signed by Joseph Ratzinger, about the Papal Primacy. And that document itself cited with equal explicitness the Declaration of the German Bishops which I quote above (Denzinger 3114), and which was both confirmed and warmly applauded by none other than Blessed Pope Pius IX himself.

It is very disheartening to some faithful Catholics that some Eminent voices appear to ignore this clear Conciliar teaching by advocating a return to that maximalising, innovatory, exercise of papal authority which Benedict XVI discerned as having been so corrosive during the period following Vatican II; accurately discerned and appropriately condemned

The sort of faithful Catholics, who in the 1870s after Vatican I were criticised as maximalists for asserting what the Council did decree about extent of papal authority, seems now to run the risk of being criticised as minimalists for asserting what Vatican I decreed about the limits of papal authority. And behind it all is an uneasy feeling, I am sure, groundless, among some such people, that our beloved Holy Father may see them as a Problem standing in the way of what he wishes to achieve. Trust between the Roman Pontiff and those whose great wish is to be his faithful children, is thus damaged. Hence the anguish about this pontificate in 'traddy' areas of the internet.

I write personally as one individual in the communities which entered into Full Communion via the Ordinariates. We had spent decades asserting and defending the decrees of Vatican I on the Primacy and Infallibility of the Successor of S Peter (I particularly have in mind Dom Gregory Dix's papers on Vatican I, and the 'Centenary Papers', both from the 1930s). Our position since we came into Full Communion, I presume, continues to combine (a) full acceptance of both the positive and the negative formulations within Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, with (b) the summary of Catholic Doctrine in the Catechism.  

Meden huper ha gegraptai! 

20 March 2015

Puzzling

The GIRM (Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani) at the beginning of the Missal explains the contents of the Eucharistic Prayer. The First Edition informed us that, in the Epiclesis, "Divine Power" (divinam virtutem) is invoked to change bread and wine into the Lord's Body and Blood. It does not say "the Power of the Holy Spirit", presumably because back in 1969 everybody still remembered that the Roman Canon, Eucharistic Prayer 1, did not contain any reference to the Holy Spirit (until it got to the doxology).

But, in the current Third Edition, the words "Divine Power" are changed to "Power of the Holy Spirit".

All I can think of is that, by 2002, even 'professional' Vatican liturgists had become unfamiliar with the words of the Roman Canon.

There must surely be a better explanation?

19 March 2015

SSPX and Unity

As a beneficiary of blessed Benedict XVI's ecumenical goodwill, an Ordinariate Catholic naturally prays that the SSPX communities, to whom Benedict also reached out, might also receive the same joys and the same benefits as we received. I hope that the SSPX will soon have a canonical status which will protect its distinctive charism as an authentic part of the Latin Church. I write this on the Feast of S Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, a day this year made that bit less joyful by Bishop Williamson's sad if characteristic decision to create a new schism and himself to become a non-Catholic by incurring excommunication latae sententiae and conferring that same excommunication, with his own two hands, upon his consecrand. But let us today consider the SSPX itself, which so wisely dissociated itself from this Wyccamical eccentric.

Nothing is gained by the present situation between the SSPX and the 'mainstream' Church. Absolutions are given and Marriages solemnised which are of doubtful (or if you prefer it, doubted) validity. Who gains from maintaining that situation? If some piece of canonical ingenuity, without necessarilly granting full faculties to SSPX clergy, were at least to eliminate this particular pastoral anomaly, who would be the loser? Would a shepherd who achieved this end not smell of his sheep? Would this not be Merciful? Is the SSPX not a Periphery as deserving to be reached as any other?

The SSPX can currently set up a Mission in an area where the local bishop may have well-founded reasons for prefering this not to happen. But because of the present situation, there is nothing he can do to prevent it. Paradoxically, the Society, because it is deemed to be canonically non-existent, actually has complete freedom of action! So how does the bishop gain from this situation? Similarly, I know a town, not within these Three Kingdoms, with a well-established SSPX presence where, after Summorum Pontificum, the local bishop started up an EF Mass at exactly the same time  as the SSPX Mass, thereby denying traditionally inclined laity the pastoral flexibility of two different Mass-times. The SSPX has no redress against such obvious, and childish, 'spoiling' tactics clearly designed to hamper, wound, and divide its pastoral mission.

Nobody apart from the Evil One gains from the present stand-off. If I'm wrong, tell me who does.

The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus has a number of provisions to the effect that an Ordinary of an Ordinariate can do X or Y or Z "after consulting with the territorial bishop"; or "after hearing the views of the Episcopal Conference". This gives an Ordinary the right to do these things without consent, but gives him a powerful incentive to act collaboratively. Likewise, the bishop or the conference may be the more likely to act reasonably because they know that their failure to do so could lead to unilateral action by the Ordinary.

Isn't this exactly the sort of arrangement which would enable the SSPX and the 'mainstream' Church to grow in trust? To move gently, perhaps through some intermediate stages, to full integration? Wouldn't  this make it easier for the SSPX to move gradually and consensually without abrupt moments which might precipitate schism among those of its members who, because of past wounds, find trust the more difficult?

Who would lose?

In the present situation, the SSPX has no input into Episcopal Conferences, or the Synods in Rome ... so who, except 'liberals', gains from this muting of the witness of the SSPX? Certainly not the 'traditionalist cause' in the Church.

If it ceased to be irregular for a would-be seminarian to choose a SSPX seminary, might not 'mainstream' seminaries be incentivised to bring the Formation they offer more into line with what Canon Law and Veterum Sapientia require? Market forces! Might the more bullying of the staff in 'liberal' seminaries be less inclined to 'sack' a seminarian with traditional instincts if they knew he could knock on another door, and be welcomed?

Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican seminaries have traditionally done 'exchanges'. Who loses if SSPX seminaries join in? Which part of Unitatis redintegratio encourages the warmest sentiments between Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox but demands that Western Catholic groups which have slipped into a canonically anomalous state have got to be kept at arm's length and treated like naughty schoolboys who deserve only relentless discipline until they abase themselves sufficiently low?

In France and England, there are hundreds of little used churches and empty presbyteries. Who would lose if the SSPX had a free hand to hoover the cobwebs out of some of them?

18 March 2015

Consecration in the Roman Mass 6 [Conclusio]

Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth, our full homage to demand.
This lovely text is a translation by G Moultie of a formula (Sigesato pasa sarx broteia) in the Liturgy of S James; which may be the oldest rite still used in Christendom except, of course, for our immemorially ancient Roman Rite. I have recently been discussing the contrast between the theology of Consecration in that Rite, and that in our own Roman rite.

It is indeed a splendid hymn, and the concept of the Lord's eucharistic epiphaneia is beautifully expressed. Generations of Anglican worshippers have been moved by the picture of the host of heaven spreading its vanguard before the Lord as he descends from the realms of endless day to stand on earth upon the altars of our churches. Long may its use continue.

But it it is instructive to look back at the Greek original. Moultrie has done a bit of a naughty in his translation, because, instead of speaking of Christ our God to earth descending, what the Greek actually says is: 'Christ our God is going forth to be slain in sacrifice' (proerchetai sphagiasthenai). And that is language which causes problems for some people - unnecessarily. Christ did die but once for all upon the cross, as the Reformers never ceased to declare, but his one sacrifice is beyond time in God's everlasting Now. God's 'Once' is not locked into one moment in one place in History ... it is not imprisoned in 33AD.

Think of it like this: God could have chosen to create nothing, but to exist in his own social, Trinal, simplicity. If He did choose to create, He could have elected to create just one moment. He could have created, for that one moment, just one place. We never think about it; but, surely, that is the most obvious, sensible, 'clean-cut', unmessy, thing to do. Yet that isn't what He did. In that tremendous eccentricity which is rooted in the very nature of the Divine Act of Creation, He created a multiplicity of times and a multiplicity of places. Within those multiplicities, He could have created just one, monic, being to exist and to be loved; but He chose instead to create a multiplicity of beings. And so it is into that complexity of times, places, beings, that His 'Once for all' is graciously communicated. The sacrifice of the Eternal Son is, in the Mass, made 'sacramentally' present on earth, in and to that plurality of the times and places which the Creator God in his fluent generosity has given to the innumerable multitudes He has created in which to worship him and to work out their salvation. And whenever it is so made present, Christ our God does "go forth to be slain in sacrifice". Furthermore, each Eucharist, bestowed from Eternity into Time, is not merely the offering of a monic being, but of Christ in his social body the Church, associating with him and in him those who are partaking in that new Mass in that new moment, so that the sacrifice of the Mass is ever one and unchanging and rooted in Eternity, and yet for ever here and for ever new.

So I've never had any problems with that offertory prayer in the Sarum Mass, in which the priest referred to hoc sacrificium novum. But, of course, the 'Reformers' did object, and the idea of a nova mactatio has come to be regarded as one of the worst corruptions of medieval Catholicism. It is good to have the Rite of S James to remind us that this way of employing language is not only sound and wholesome but is guaranteed by the witness of East as well as of West.

Throughout the Church, and throughout its history, different notions of the relation of Christ's One Sacrifice to the actual text and movement of the Liturgy have, quite harmlessly, been held. In the Greek version of the  Liturgy of S James, this (Sigesato) text is used to accompany the Great Entrance; as if the Bread already is the Lord, making his way to Calvary and to Sacrifice (both Great Entrance and Sigesato are absent from the Syriac version of the rite). Theodore of Mopsuestia clearly believed that the Elements processed in by the deacons were already the dead Body of Christ, "a Body which will very shortly rise to an immortal being". As one writer has put it, "Theodore's idea is that the elements, by the mere fact that they are the offering of the church, are already the Body and Blood from the moment of the offertory". Some Oriental epicletic formulae accordingly ask that the Holy Spirit may show (not make) the Bread to be the Lord's Body. The idea that the offertory pre-consecrates can also be found among the Assyrians and the Armenians, and would appear to be implied by the custom, which I first witnessed in Oxford in the 1960s, of aged Russian Grand Duchesses, in their black dresses and weighed down with jewelry, prostrate on the ground during the Great Entrance. These Eastern instincts, in a curious sort of roundabout way, witness to the convention we have discerned in the classical Roman rite, that it is essentially the Father's acceptance of the Church's Offering which is consecratory, not the Divine Response to a Petition for the Descent of the Spirit.
This series is now complete. I will now consider any comments submitted. Please attach any such comments to this final instalment.

17 March 2015

Ordinariate in Ireland?

I have heard over the last two or three years whispers of interest in the Ordinariate idea, and I believe there are, or were, a couple of TAC groups in Ireland. Does anyone have any information?

More Ireland for S Patrick's Day!

Well-informed readers will be aware of the celebrated 'Eucharistic Window' in my old church of S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford. Above the Blessed Sacrament Altar, the window has, in its lower register, a priest vested for Mass and standing versus Orientem at an altar vested with lighted candles. The priest is in the act of elevating the Chalice. Above, so that His Blood could flow into that Chalice, is the Lamb slain in Sacrifice. Canon Chamberlain inserted that window soon after he had restored the use of Mass vestments. It was controversial. They stoned him in the streets. Nowadays, I imagine, some Roman Catholics would have fits about the ad Orientem. Amazing, the skills and versatility of the Evil One.

For two happy mornings last week, while at the Shrine at Knock with the Brethren of the Irish branch of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, I had the immense privilege of celebrating at the Altar of the Apparitions. The very courteous young sacristan rearranged the altar furnishings so that I could celebrate the Ancient Mass facing the fine carving of "an altar and the figure of a lamb with a cross reclining on his back" (as one of the visionaries described what she saw). That very typology which Canon Chamberlain had put into S Thomas's a generation previously!! I felt an acute sense of being one of that long line of priests who for centuries stood in the Jerusalem Temple and, each morning, sacrificed the Tamid lamb for God's People, until the Lamb Himself came, the New Isaac, and shadows gave way to Reality. And I think I even felt a hint of the Vision at the end of The Dawntreader, of the Lamb that stands at the Uttermost East, with His sweet invitation Come and have Breakfast. Marana tha.

Readers will not suspect me of any indifference to shrines in which the Glorious and Immaculate Theotokos is placed centrally. Yet there is tremendous power in the nakedly, almost bluntly, Christocentric Apparition at Knock. And there is much didactic potential in the Typology of the Lamb, as a little book on sale in the Shrine Bookshop makes clear. Interestingly, particularly given the polylogia of the Irish, our Lady spoke not a word at Knock; as the supreme Hesychast, she "kept all these things in her heart", just as she did as Our Lady of Light in her Appearance at S Hilary in Cornwall (see post of 21 November 2014).

Knock is as splendidly Irish as Walsingham is wonderfully English and Lourdes superbly French. The tower of the old Catholic Parish Church dates from 1828, the year of Catholic Emancipation, and reminds me of what, in Co Kerry, I expected a Church of Ireland church tower to resemble ... Gothic rather than Gothick but in the plain ungrammatical style of Gothic before the Pugins and the Carpenters took it in hand. I suppose the similarity must indicate that many Church of Ireland churches were built around that same time. (Did the Emancipation lead to a lot of church-building among Catholics?) By the way: pilgrims should not miss three small but fine Harry Clarke windows in the three East windows of the Church. (Like other Clarke windows I have noticed, they are not in Nicola Bowe's list, even if signed. The other windows in the church may be 'Studio of' and from the 1950s, but, although a cut above the generality of 1950s church windows, they merely echo the Great Man).

There surely must be something in the Akathist Hymn about our Lady as the Mother of the Lamb ...

ORDO query

The LMS ORDO, admirable guide for those who use the 1962 Missal or Breviary, envisages S Patrick having only a Commemoration at Lauds and Low Masses today (I am talking about England, Wales, and Scotland).

I wonder why this is. In the 1940s, the English, Welsh, and Scottish dioceses differed greatly, some hardly noticing S Patrick, while a dozen or so classed him as a Greater Double just like S Gregory on the 12th. In the changes which came in with the 1960s, one would expect the 'Grd' to convert into a '2 Class'. And I have a 1969 ORDO, from the very eve of the disappearance of the old Calendars, in which S Patrick is a '2 cl' in the whole of Great Britain (1cl in Ireland, Commemoration "outside the British Isles").

I wonder if those me in his rebus valde doctiores would care to comment. It is of course not a minor detail, of interest only to those who need to be told to get a life, since upon it rests the question of whether S Patrick is actually noticed liturgically today (except by a mere commemoration after the Lenten collect etc.).

(In the 1940s Calendars, there seems no rhyme or reason about which British dioceses noticed S Patrick: Liverpool, for example, failed to do so! Incidentally, "All dioceses in Scotland" used a rather attractive Mass Egredere [cf Genesis 12:1-2]. And, in the 1940s, the Gospel of the Lenten Feria did duty as the Last Gospel.)

16 March 2015

Consecration in the Roman Mass 5

(As regards comments, see the first part of this.)
But ... quam oblationem ... the prayer in which the Church beseeches the Father that her Oblation may be given-the-OK (benedictam) and written-on-the-list (adscriptam) so that, being accepted, it may become the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Word ... is not yet a completed sentence, because it carries on qui pridie quam pateretur ... Thus, the Church goes on to recall, in a subordinated relative clause, the Episode, the Last Supper, on the grounds of which she asks that the consequences of acceptance will indeed be transformation.

Qui is an important word in the Church's life of prayer. A common pattern, which goes back to pre-Christian prayer in the Roman and Greek worlds, is (1) to address a deity, then (2) to recall some attribute or undertaking of that deity, and finally (3) to make the intended request. The logic (going back perhaps to a sense that a deity needs to be convinced or cajoled, even threatened or bribed, or that it will consider itself bound by legal precedent) is that (2) gives the reason why it reasonable to ask for (3) with an expectation of success. Latin has a handy little verb impetrare, which cannot be translated by one single English verb because it means to-ask-and-to-get. Impetratio is at the heart of successful prayer in the ancient world ... I don't think a Roman would waste his time praying if he had no grounds to hope that he was in fact impetrating. So the qui, who, which links up (2) with (3) in effect means something very much like forasmuch as. Almost legally, rather as in the preamble to a British Parliamentary statute*, we tell God why our prayer deserves to be an impetratio. And the qui which links the 'Institution Narrative' to the Prayer for Acceptance which preceded it, has very much this character. So, surely, the logic of this entire passage we have been looking at is: Accept our Offering so that it may become the Lord's Body and Blood forasmuch as the Lord himself guaranteed that Bread and Wine, being thus accepted, would become His Body and Blood.

In our Latin shorthand, we think of this as constituting the Verba Domini as 'consecratory', and this is a very sensible way of thinking and talking (the Church of England adopted the same principle in 1662). It is an extremely ancient view, quite possibly going back to when Christians first started to think logically about such matters. Notoriously, it is given vivid expression in the Byzantine East by S John Chrysostom (c347-407); in Syria, Severus (should I call him Saint?) 'monophysite' Patriarch of Antioch (c465-538), shared it (Dom Gregory Dix was dead chuffed to discover this fact in one of Severus's Letters); and it is found in the Slavic East as late as the first edition of the Orthodox Confession (1638) of Peter Mogila, Metropolitan (should I say Patriarch?) of Kiev (1596-1646). 

It is true that 'the Great Church of Constantinople', replying in 1896 to overtures of unity from Leo XIII, alleged that "The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils used to receive [the teaching that] the precious gifts are hallowed after the Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit by the blessing of the priest", apparently thereby implying that the Church and Rite of Rome did not exist in the centuries between Nicaea I and Nicaea II in 787. But this only proves that we Latins are not the only ones who quite often say and do extremely foolish things. Happily, a few years ago a writer in the theological journal of the Moscow Patriarchate declared himself content with the Roman Canon.

It is a shame that the dominant school among the fashionable intellectuals of the Western Church in the 1960s did not share this contentedness.
_____________________________________________________________________
*I think the English 'Reformers', with their Tudor legalese, would have used the term 'warrant'.



15 March 2015

Ireland again

I was mightily privileged to be able to join the Irish Confraternity of Catholic Clergy for their colloquium at Knock (about the shrine, more another day). What an agreeable band of brother priests, mostly young, all intelligent. We were joined by Cardinal Pell, who with his characteristic generosity had taken a couple of days out of his holiday to come and talk to us in a very straightforward way about our shared ministry. Important pieces of very simple advice, such as "play to your strengths". He joined in our life in his easy and unassuming way, wearing a gray cardigan, a priest among priests. We also heard a paper by a canonist member, unpacking the theological riches of Canon 1055. Yes! Because if Canon Law is not firmly and richly based on the Faith, there is, surely, something wrong?

I had flown to Dublin a day early, so as not to miss anything, and was hospitably welcomed by Fr Gerard Deighan, Classicist, Biblical scholar and OT specialist. His church, S Kevin's, which supplies both Forms of the Roman Rite, was already filling up very nicely at 7.15 in the morning, when I went down to say my own EF Mass. The previous evening, we had been invited to dinner at the Kildare Street and University Club on St Stephen's Green, as the guests of a very distinguished Irish and international jurist. Conversation did not flag. The food was not run-of-the-mill.

Over dinner, I renewed, entirely by chance, some acquaintances. Over one of the fireplaces in the dining room, Lady Lavery, painted by her husband. The remarkable wife of a remarkable artist, and a friend of Michael Collins. When Sotheby's and Christie's, back in the Celtic Tiger days, had their lavish 'Irish Sales' in London each May, I got to know her features (and his brushwork) very well. Until Modernity struck, she featured on the Free State's ten shillings up to £100 notes, rather in the same sort of way as Frances Stewart did on late Stuart halfpennies.

Another party came in ... let's not list names ... and I heard a voice saying "I see the Ordinariate is spreading its wings in Ireland". They included someone I had not met since we passed the time of day while he hacked away at the Japanese knotweed on the graves of his ancestors. That was in the years when, each summer, I headed off on the Monday after the end of term to open up (for the summer) the Church of S John the Evangelist, in Knightstown on Valentia Island in the County Kerry, which I liked to think was me presbytero the only fully Papalist church in the Church of Ireland.

No need wistfully to say "Ah, Happy Days", because the days seem just to keep getting happier.

The series on Consecration will resume shortly.

14 March 2015

Press deadlines and Divine Mercy

In one respect, Pope Francis is as bad ... no, I think I must mean, as good ... as his two immediate predecessors. He has the same preference for waiting until the ORDO I compile has been printed, and then announcing Holy Years. I had just opened my Compiler's Packet of ORDOs (dark blue cover for 2016!) when the Year of Mercy was announced.

One particular group on the periphery of Church life, the Franciscans of the Immaculate, must be mightily relieved by this announcement. I expect their restoration to a proper canonical state will be the main content of the Bull on Mercy to be published on Low Sunday.

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.

Possibly, not the only way of introducing the Extraordinary Form!

The great Fr Bernard Walke describes his introduction of the Western Rite, otherwise known nowadays as the Extraordinary Form, to his Cornish Anglican parish, nearly a century ago:

On that first Sunday after my induction the people of St Hilary flocked to church and found, in the place of a clergyman reading 'Dearly beloved', a strange figure in vestments at the altar with a little boy who knelt at his side. Many were watching for the first time the drama of the Mass. They were there as spectators who watch a play with a symbolism and language unknown to them. Man cries for redemption: kyrie eleison, christe eleison, kyrie eleison. God answers man's despairing cry in the opening words of the Gloria in excelsis proclaiming the advent of the promised Saviour, but still they do not understand.

'Whatever is he doing up there now?' they say. 'Can 'e make it out at all?' The summit of the drama is reached when, the whole company of heaven having been summoned to man's aid, the words of consecration are spoken and bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus who offered himself on the Cross at Calvary. They are aware of the silence, broken by the ringing of a bell. 'Did 'e hear the bell? what is that for, my dear?' they whisper. The bell rings again at the Domine non sum dignus. There are a few who kneel in wonder at what is being accomplished; it is for them a moment of prayer such as they have never experienced before.


Over the decades, Fr Walke built up a strong and devoted congregation in S Hilary's which stood by him even when the thugs arrived with the pickaxes.

13 March 2015

Returned ...

... from yet another very happy visit to Ireland, I have enabled some comments and deleted others. Reasons for deletion include: One source repeatedly condemns whatever is not Feeneyite. One routinely makes clear that the gap between itself and me is so great that there are no points of contact and just cheerfully tells me what a fool I am over and over again. A third, in comments of only a few lines, contrives to include several typos.

Consecration in the Roman Mass 4 (is the Novus Ordo the "Roman Rite"?

(As regards comments, see the first part of this)
If you go to a Novus Ordo Mass, the spine of the Altar Book will make a claim that it is the "Roman Missal". But is it? Does it ... I quote a British Television commercial ... do what it says on the tin? I do not think that anybody who has carefully thought these things through could answer Yes. Fr Joseph Gelineau, described by Bugnini himself as "one of the great masters of the international liturgical world", a liturgical radical who wholeheartedly applauded what happened after Vatican II, did not make that claim. He wrote "We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone." He did not share the ignorant view sometimes put forward, that the post-Conciliar 'reform' was analogous to the edition of the Roman Missal published by the orders of S Pius V ... ("If it was alright," people say to us, "for Pius V to bring out his own Missal, why couldn't B Paul VI do the same?") You will all have heard and read that sort of thing; but you won't have heard it from Gelineau. Gelineau was not 'one of us', but he was neither ignorant or stupid. He wrote "We must not weep over ruins or dream of a historical reconstruction .... we must open new ways to the sources of life, or we shall be condemned as Jesus condemned the Pharisees. But it would not be right to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further, and forward beyond the conciliar prescriptions".

Dom Alcuin Reid has recently reminded us that Klaus Gamber viewed the 1965 form of the Roman Rite as effectively the last form of that Rite (I don't quite agree, incidentally, with Dom Alcuin's view that there never was a 1965 Missal; the Decretum specifies that the Ordo Missae "in novis Missalis romani editionibus assumeretur"; so that notionally such a book existed even if de facto no publisher actually put one on sale). Archbishop Lefebvre used 1965 until, in the mid 1970s, he decided to revert to 1962 (during the 1960s he had allowed his Holy Ghost Fathers only two 'vernacular Masses' a week).

At the opposite end of the academic spectrum from Gelineau, Fr Aidan Nichols points out that "the Rite of Paul VI contains more features of Oriental provenance than the Roman Rite has ever known historically, and notably in the new anaphoras, for these are central to the definition of any eucharistic style". (He goes on to suggest how the Novus Ordo could be used, and that it could be renamed as the ritus communis). A very distinguished Anglican liturgical scholar, Dr G G Willis, wrote that "Rome has invented in its recent rites a hybrid form ... The Roman rite has hitherto kept out the epiclesis, as being inconsistent with its theory of consecration, and the introduction of Oriental elements (seen also in the acclamations of the people, which the new Roman revisions have introduced) would be better eschewed". Another Anglican scholar, the recently deceased Fr Michael Moreton, was very firm and resolute about the need for the exclusive use of the Roman Canon. So should we Latins all be. The chaps that know, know.

The Novus Ordo rite as commonly presented is not the Roman rite.** I would grant it to be arguable that if one used only its First Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon, what one celebrated might still ... just about ... yes, I know there were outrageous tamperings with the Verba Domini ... be fairly called the Roman rite, without infringing the Trade Descriptions Act too badly. But not a Mass celebrated using one of the new, Orientalised, epicletified, Eucharistic Prayers. And the pseudo-Hippolytan ultra-short Prayer is the one in almost universal and invariable use throughout the 'mainstream Church' ... despite the hopes expressed in the GIRM that the Roman Canon be used on Sundays and Festivals. Accordingly, the Roman rite proprie dictus, it has to be admitted, has now almost entirely died out in most of the Latin Church, except in such places as Oratories and Ordinariates and the FSSP and Christ the King parishes. And, of course, the SSPX.

It seems to me a cause worth taking seriously, to restore the Roman Rite to use by using exclusively the Roman Canon. The GIRM itself has pointed to this by saying, in each edition it has been through, that "This Prayer may be always used" (Editio tertia para 365 semper adhiberi potest); a comment it makes about none of the other anaphoras.

Such a reform could be introduced gradually in three stages:
(1) Weaning a congregation off Prayer 2 by using Prayer 3 and taking it slowly;
(2) Using Prayer 1 shortened by leaving out all the sections within brackets;
(3) Using Prayer 1 in its full integrity. 
One might add:
(4) Using the Extraordinary Form with the Readings in the vernacular, as permitted by Summorum Pontificum. 

 Furthermore, the Ordinary Form may be celebrated versus apsidem, and the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated versus populum. We have the same dilemma that faced old-style Anglo-Catholic clergy: to make all ones reforms at once; or to try to keep everyone on side by making them gradually!

**BUT IT IS A VALID MASS. Anybody who even hints otherwise is not teaching you the Catholic Faith, and may even be running the risk of leading you into sacrilege. I have to explain all this stuff quite frequently: I have lodged three of my earlier posts at 4 September 2014. The Novus Ordo may not be the "Roman Rite", but it IS still a VALID CATHOLIC MASS. In the Novus Ordo the Body and Blood of Christ ARE truly made present and ARE truly offered. That is as CERTAIN as anything in this life.  

12 March 2015

Consecration in the Roman Mass 3

(As regards comments, see the first part of this.)
The great Christine Mohrman pointed out the juridical nature of Christian liturgical Latin, and showed that it was in direct descent from the pagan cultic Latin used in the centuries ante Christum; for example, in the Prayer asking the Gods of a city under siege to leave it ... to leave the city and its homes and temples and streets and ... The principle is to cover everything and leave nothing out. So, in our Quam oblationem Prayer, the priest asks that our offering may be "on the list"(adscriptam)!! For a Mass to be valid, one realises, it must be on God's official list, just as there is no point in turning up at Heathrow and asking for a Boarding Pass unless your booking is in the computer. God must have said the OK to it (benedictam). Bene-dicere (literally, "to say well") is a verb closely linked in Biblical Latin to the idea of God "looking with favour" on an offering  ... that is, accepting it. Consider Genesis 4:4-5 ... Respexit Dominus ad Abel et ad munera eius. Abel, not surprisingly, is cited in our Canon as a precedent for divine acceptance. And so the Secret for Dominica VII post Pentecosten says: Accipe sacrificium a devotis tibi famulis, et pari benedictione, sicut munera Abel, sanctifica. In other words, while the Epiclesis I quoted at the beginning from the liturgy of S James made itself rather lengthy by citing divine precedents for the sending down of the Spirit to work mighty change, the Roman Canon is content simply to mention the Biblical 'typological' precedents for divine acceptance of human Offering. Ratam ... acceptabilem make the same point about divine acceptance and ratification ... just as when you enter the USA and the Homeland Warrior asks penetrating questions about your motives for trying to do so ... this even happened to a son-in-law of mine who has American citizenship ... and then reluctantly stamps your passport making you ratus and  acceptus. Rationabilem relates to the Sacrifice as logiken rather than cruentatam but, none the less, acceptable.

It is not my purpose to discuss which of these attitudes is preferable, although I will admit to a strong preference for the theology of the Roman Canon, just as I would expect an Oriental Christian to feel most at home with the Eastern approach. There is a sense in which I would even agree with Ms Jefferts Schori's adage about Diversity being essential to Catholicity! What I do wish to highlight is, quite simply, that they are different. And that they can't just be taken into the kitchen and shoved into the blender and mixed up. One of the very few things I object to very strongly about Orthodoxy is that it sanctions 'Western Rites' in which an Oriental Epiclesis has been violently shoved into the Roman Canon. I would complain with no less vigour if some daft Latinising imperialist tried to mangle or eviscerate an Eastern Anaphora. Each of our rites has its own integrity, its own logic, its own grammar. Neither should be bullied into conformity with the other. To do so ... I would go so far as to call it sacrilege.

11 March 2015

Fr Zuhlsdorf and the SSPX

I subscribe to the nuanced views expressed recently by Fr Zed archiblogopoios. I also think that what appears to be the current policy of the Holy See is intelligent: the old idea that a meeting of theologians will deliver results has given way to a sensible policy of multiplying personal contacts, by means of visits both to and from Econe. If the Holy See ever wants an Ordinariate priest to visit Econe and report back to the Holy Father, I am their man! No no! This is not a joke!

I have had a soft spot for the Society ever since, while I was still in the Church of England, the family sent us to Avignon on the occasion of our fortieth wedding anniversary. We went to a 'mainstream' church for the Sunday Vigil, and then on Sunday morning I went to the exquisite little SSPX chapel (Chapel of the Black Penitents, Rue Banasterie). It is a baroque/rococo masterpiece; amid all the splendours of the City of the Popes it was the highlight of my trip! I did not conceal that I was an Anglican priest, but they treated me to a very warm welcome. These were not prickly bigots. The congregation embraced all age groups ... unlike the congregation we had joined the previous evening ... and the liturgy was reverently done ... and I felt very much at home. This is the only SSPX Mass I have ever been to: perhaps it was untypical, but I take people as I find them.

There is one thing that Bishop Fellay could do which might be understood as significant (I very humbly suggest) in Rome. On Good Friday, he could be known to use the elegant, biblical, and sensible Oratio pro Iudaeis composed by Benedict XVI. After all, the Society does already use the highly modified 'Bugnini' Holy Week Rites which in the 1950s Pius XII substituted for the ancient Roman rites. And, in the 1962 Missal, the Prayer for the Jews was itself modified by S John XXIII. If the Society were still using the ancient pre-1950s forms, I would sympathise with a disinclination to fiddle around with them. But if they are going to use Pius XII-as-modified-by-S John XXIII anyway, is it a big deal to use Pius XII-as-modified-by-S John XXIII-and-by-Benedict XVI? It would be an edifying act of acceptance of a living Magisterium

Or perhaps Bishop Fellay already does this. Does anybody know?

I shall not enable comments which show disrespect to the Society. The Ordinariates are Pope Benedict's remarkable gesture towards Christian Unity, and this post stands in the same spirit of a desire to see gathered into one the orthodox broken fragments of Latin Christendom.

FOOTNOTE It is interesting that the Bugnini Commission had not tampered either with this prayer, or with that for Heretics. Incidentally, in the Church of England its (still doctrinally normative) liturgy, that of 1662, still prays on Good Friday " ... Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word: and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ ... ". I wonder why all the noisy bigots who so malevolently attacked the Vetus Ordo and Pope Benedict and the prayer he composed never get hot and bothered about this. I believe that Prince Charles filius Fidei Defensoris is Patron of the Prayer Book Society, which advocates use of the 1662 book.

10 March 2015

Consecration in the Roman Mass 2

(As regards comments, see the first part of this)
 Why this Gadarene preoccupation, in the 1960s, with epicleses asking the Spirit to be sent to change Bread into Body? The answer is embarrassingly simple. Pretty well all rites except the Roman had an epiclesis. Therefore it must be 'Primitive'. Therefore it was desireable. The alternative possibility, that Rome lacked an epiclesis because it was older than those other rites, occurred to very few. So, for a hundred years or more, the question had been (not why did the other rites add an epiclesis, but) Whatever Happened to the Roman Epiclesis ... deemed to have existed originally but, for some mysterious reason, to have gone missing. Readers who still have on their shelves The Mass by Adrian Fortescue can still find page after page describing the ingenious pursuits, by entire generations of clever and erudite men, of this particular invisible (well, to be frank, mythical) fox. The conviction was bolstered by an inclination to believe that all the existing rites of Christendom must have descended from an Original Liturgy which, at least in its dominant features, was fairly uniform, and could therefore, in principle, be reconstructed from a comparison of existing liturgies. This assumption, as the pendulum swings, is currently highly unfashionable; an Anglican liturgist called Paul Bradshaw has spent most of his life rebutting it.

But why should we not just add the epiclesis to the Roman Rite anyway? Would it not be an Enrichment? There is surely no real harm ...

I began the first part of this enquiry by printing an Eastern epiclesis of the Spirit; and the nearest equivalent which the Roman Rite possesses. Put simply, the East says Send the Spirit so that He may change bread into Christ's Body. While Rome says Accept our Offering so that it may become Christ's Body. In other words, awed by the great mystery of this Change, the East is convinced that the most powerful Force that there is - God the Holy Spirit - must be responsible, and needs to be invoked. Rome, in her humdrum way, has carried on with the earlier Christian belief that the simple acceptance by the Father of the Church's Oblation will mean that bread will be changed (in accordance with the definitive and prescriptive Word of the Lord at His Supper) into His Body. Accordingly, Rome has felt the need to be confident that the Father really has accepted the Oblation, while the East has been concerned to ensure that the Father really has sent the Holy Spirit ... at least, that is the conclusion I draw from the emphases within each respective Petition, one Occidental and the other Oriental. So, in the West, as the sentence ends in which this Prayer for Acceptance is made, the bell is rung and the Priest is lifting up the Lord's Body for Adoration. In the East, solemnity attends the Prayer for the Spirit.

9 March 2015

Consecration in the Roman Mass 1

... and send out upon us and upon the gifts lying before Thee thy Spirit the all-holy, the Lord and life-giver, the thronesharer with Thee the God and Father and thine only-begotten Son; the coruling One; the consubstantial and coeternal; the One that spake in law and prophets and thy New Covenant; the One that came down in the appearance of a dove upon our lord Jesus Christ in the river Jordan and abode upon Him; the One that came down upon thine Apostles in the appearance of fiery tongues in the upper room of the holy and glorious Sion, on the day of Pentecost; this same Spirit of thine, all-holy, send down, Master, upon us and upon these holy gifts which lie before Thee; that coming upon them with his holy and good and glorious presence [parousiai] he may sanctify and make this loaf the holy Body of thy Christ and this cup, the precious Blood of thy Christ ... (Liturgy of S James, Tetralogia Liturgica of John Mason Neale).

Which oblation, we beseech thee, O Lord, that thou wouldest make in all things blessed, enrolled, ratified, reasonable and acceptable, that for us it may be made the Body and Blood of thy most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, on the day before  ... (Canon Romanus)

Well, the "Petitions for Consecration", in the ancient Eastern Liturgy of S James, and in our own dear and familiar Roman Rite, could not be more different. The Eastern rule is to leave hardly a noun without an adjective; its conviction is that one adjective is rarely as satisfying as two, three or four; its respect for Holy Scripture is such as never to lose a trick. I hope I am not insulting what is holy to my beloved Byzantine brethren if I call it flowery, Scriptural, and wordy. I hope my fellow Latins will not be too cross with me if I call our own rite lean, terse, matter of fact, and legalistic.

But what I wish to emphasise this week is the Elephant which is so conspicuous by its absence from our Roman Canon of the Mass: the Holy Spirit, who does not make it into the text until the Trinitarian Doxology at its very end. Indeed, much was made of this absence in the 1960s by the pensants who reformed the Roman Rite. Constructing new Eucharistic Prayers, they made sure that the Holy Spirit was called upon in each one of them to work the miracle of transsubstantiation. I remember similar stuff being churned out in the C of E: we neo-ordinati were to do the propaganda for these innovations  by descending on worshippers who from their tenderest years had listened to Cranmer's Eucharistic Prayer; we were to point out to uneasy individuals (who, I recall, could only be persuaded reluctantly to receive change by the categorical assurance that it would bring the Young People flooding in) that the Holy Spirit was all but missing, and culpably so, from Cranmer's sonorous periods. And so the revised Anglican rites were, as in the Roman Communion, fitted up, like Edwardian roues being forced into corsets, with Epicleses of the Holy Spirit. The great Begetter of liturgical reform in the C of E, Dom Gregory Dix, must have been rotating in his grave. He had, as recently as 1944, devoted a fair number of pages in The Shape of the Liturgy, to explaining that the Epiclesis was not 'primitive'; and to ensuring that his readers would understand what the implications were of such an importation (which had first been attempted in the C of E in the abortive revised Prayer Book of 1928).
This piece will continue in five more sections. I shall not enable comments until it is finished in all six parts, because it constitutes a whole.

8 March 2015

Spring pays a visit to Oxford

Lovely spring day, yesterday. The previous owner of the house, a Professor Whittaker, was a keen plantsman who contrived that there be blossoms at all seasons. So I watched the butterflies and bumblebees and bees in the garden as I lunched well on Canteloupe and Prosciutto [notice the Father Zed touch here], and then fell asleep in the sun. We walked down to the Isis to see the last day of Torpids: Senior Grand-daughter's College was Head of the River. How noisy these triumphs do make the young people! My own college, Hertford, achieved Blades. Even that created massive decibels.

Then on to Holy Rood, just a stone's throw from the river, to sing the Ordinariate Vigil Mass at 6.00. Among the visitors, from all over the world, a lady with Anglican Previous who expressed great pleasure at again hearing We do not presume ...

Simple pleasures, all of them.

Senior Grand-daughter is sitting Prelims this week. Perhaps those of you who believe in a helping-hand prayer for nervous undergraduates ...

Dioceses

Plans are afoot, it seems, drastically to reduce the number of 'smaller' Italian dioceses. I'm not terribly enthusiastic about this. There have already, I understand, been too many amalgamations.

History has known different models of diocesan episcopacy. One thinks perhaps primarily of (1) the old 'city-state' model: a middle-sized market town and the villages socially and economically attached to it; and (2) the gigantic northern European dioceses based upon pre-urban tribal boundaries (medieval Oxford was in the diocese of Lincoln).

(1) goes back to the first evangelisation, when Christianity took root in the polis well before it spread out among the pagani. It is still alive in the dreamier parts of the Mediterranean. Or rather, it was back in the '60s. I rather liked it. The Bishop was not a distant prelate or what Gregory Dix called a cheerfully brisk businessman in gaiters. People could drop in for a cup of coffee and to gossip, and, most Sundays, he celebrated in his Cathedral in the presence of a sizeable percentage of his people. Perhaps most of the babies were still baptised in the Baptistry attached to the Cathedral. The boundaries were there; you never forgot he was the bishop, but the sort of prelacy which sadly encrusts episcopacy in this country was happily absent. Having a Bishop in the Apostolic Succession does not have to mean that he lives a couple of hours' driving away and has all the apparatus of secretaries and menials to keep the common people at a distance; the over-loaded diary; the perpetual feeling that you're taking up too much of the time of somebody with terribly important things to do. "Call me Bob" is no substitute for feeling that somebody really has got space for you. I remember Mervyn Stockwood who, even before his Chauffeur had got the car moving after a parish visit, was already talking into his dictaphone.

It's the system I blame, not the Bishops. Even though I'm not incardinated into the Diocese of Portsmouth, Bishop Philip Egan has been a model of a kindly pastor (and he has got a real reforming grip upon his diocese and writes delightful Pastorals of refreshing orthodoxy). And I hear well of Mark O'Toole ... but, good heavens, his diocese stretches from the Scillies to the Eastern borders of Dorset. (Does anybody remember that very funny joke he told us in Allen Hall? I've completely forgotten it except for the punch-line "I didn't mean the whole b****y bucket".)

We learned what true, pastoral episcopacy was when we had our flying Bishops. I had learned it earlier, in South London, in my friendship with Bishop Christopher Commodatos and his Cypriot congregation. The Bishop as the high-powered District Manager is a concept that leaves me cold.

I hope those dozy little Italian dioceses survive. But I bet they won't.

7 March 2015

Bishop Kirk and the coming Synod

Final part of a sermon I recently preached at Solemn [Ordinariate] Evensong and Benediction in the Blackfriars' Church in Oxford.

 ... The Christian Faith is a coherent and integrated whole. Every bit fits in with every other bit. Drop just one single bit out, and you throw the whole complex unity into disarray. Perhaps you will allow me, in conclusion, to take a topical example of this; topical, because we are at this precise moment immersed in the fascinating if febrile period between last year's Synod and this year's Synod. And so Marriage is very much in the mind of each of us. And, of course, fallen human nature being what it is, when we say we're thinking about Marriage, it seems to turn out to mean that we're thinking about Divorce. That's the way that Screwtape and his associates have adjusted our philology. And the Lord said that Divorce is impossible; in fact, he said it so clearly that the way He actually put it was that if you get divorced and then "marry again", you'll really only be living in adultery. I've often wondered if there is any way, in any human language, in which the point could be made more plainly and more ... I dare to say ... 'offensively'.

Now ... side by side with the Lord's teaching ... let us set some remarkable words from S Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. He likens the nuptial covenant between husband and wife to that equally nuptial covenant, the 'mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His Church'.

You see, I'm sure, the bearing of all this. If a valid and consummated Christian marriage is as indissoluble as the union between Christ and His Church, it follows that the union between Christ and His Church is as indissoluble as that between husband and wife. Or, to put it the other way round, the union between Christ and His Church is as soluble and it is as breakable as marriage. Advocacy of remarriage after divorce is constructively tantamount to saying that the Lord may desert His Church and could renounce His nuptial covenant with her.

I think I had better come clean. The point I'm making is, in fact, disgracefully plagiarised. I have lifted this exposition from a magisterial book called Marriage and Divorce by a very great pontiff, Kenneth Escott Kirk, Lord Bishop of Oxford between 1937 and 1954 and sometime Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology in this University, which he wrote in the context of the English Divorce Act of 1937. Bishop Kirk makes with concise precision the point I have laboured in this homily; a point which Cardinal Hume once made by saying that our holy Faith is not a la carte. We accept it table d'hote, because it is a perfectly integrated and interlinked whole. Tear out one element, and the whole cardigan unravels. I'm sure Bishop Kirk would have been an Ordinariate Man ... we would have had to learn to refer to him as Monsignor Kirk ... so I'll end with his own words.

"To plead for divorce with the right to second marriage is to ignore the whole of this constructive theology which relates the union of the sexes to that of Christ and His Church, and thereby to deny the unity of purpose which runs through the whole scheme of God's activity both in the natural and in the supernatural sphere. ...

"The Christian tradition of the indissolubility of marriage does no more than give effect to S Paul's great teaching, in which our Lord's precepts about marriage are set in the framework of the unity of God's purpose. To deny that tradition, therefore, is to cast doubt upon the very nature of God, and the modes of activity in which He has manifested Himself to man."


6 March 2015

The Joseph Goebbels Award

UPDATE: Father Zed's graphic account of the attacks upon Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco illustrates the determination of an educational, social, and legal establishment to preserve its right to groom children to participate in the Pornosphere.
Apparently, there are Primary Schools where a (private) programme called CHIPS is in use. Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools uses brilliant methods to get its message across. It retells the story of Noah's Ark in terms of fictional animals which are left behind because they are "different". Eight and nine year old children are made to "create a wedding scene with two princes in the front getting married". Six and seven year olds design a dress for a "Princess boy". "What do we think in our school about gay people getting married (we say it's OK!)." The plight of a transgender six year old in Colorado is to be discussed in class.

The government has issued new standards requiring that even free schools "actively promote" equality of sexual orientation as specified in the 2010 Equality Act. And schools will be expected to "challenge" parents who disagree. How very much like the Russia of dear Marshal Stalin, our popular wartime ally! We can envisage a future in which both Jack and Jill will be encouraged to report their parents to the Commissar if they overhear them uttering Speech Crimes!

This is all absolutely superb. Just think how totally brilliant it is. You might have supposed that children would have to be of an age to know what Sex is before they were taught to welcome Sexual Perversion. But No!!! Even before they know about penises and vaginas and their inherent functional complementarity, you can start preparing the ground for indoctrination about the desirability of making other, much more creative, uses of those organs! Get Perversion into the infant mind even before it understands Normality! It's like using well-constructed educational courses about the simple wholesome pleasures of Embezzlement on children who have not yet been taught about Money! That distinguished member of the Lowerarchy, Mr Undersecretary Screwtape, has lost nothing of his inventive and imaginative brilliance!

I think it is clearly necessary to create, at the heart of our British honours system, a suitable recognition for those whose contribution to corrupting public perceptions and, particularly, to indoctrinating the very young (through their imaginations) so as to embrace the normality of perversion, has been particularly noteworthy. The obvious choice here of a role-model is that towering figure, Joseph Goebbels. I know what you're going to say: we can't make role-model of someone who laboured with such success to convince the population of an entire nation that Jews were proper objects of hatred. I agree. And I know that Enthusiastic Hatred of Judaism and Enthusiastic Acceptance of Sexual Perversion are not in any way parallel evils (a very clear difference is that the latter, happily, does not embrace the taking of human life). But what both of these causes do have in common is the poisoning of the mass imagination, the use of sophisticated propaganda to pollute the common culture, and awareness of the need to begin this process as early as possible by planting Evil in the hearts of the very young. And in all this, Goebbels was a superb, a consummate practitioner. We shall not see his like again; but we should not, for that reason, ignore what our age can learn, not from his own particular abhorrent ideology, but from his general working methodology. After all, anti-Christian ideologies come and go, and good riddance to them once they're gone, and Nazism is, most fortunately, not the dominant ideology of our age; but the existence of perverted anti-Christian ideologies, differing from generation to generation, but always needing to be promoted, is a given.

We could have an Order of Joseph Goebbels (OJG), in which there could be the rank of Member (MJG), Companion (CJG), Knight Commander (or Dame: KCJG or DCJG), and Knight (Dames too, of course) Grand Cross of Joseph Goebbels (GCJG). Knights and Dames Grand Cross could have a pink sash to wear and, on great occasions, a pink cloak. The Church of England could provide, perhaps in Southwark Cathedral where Dean Colin Slee toiled so devotedly, a Chapel for the Order where the GCJGs could hang their banners and have their Plates on their Stalls. Processions of the GCJGs could be integrated into Pride Week, participation in which will very soon be compulsory for all Government Employees. A popular musician who has always promoted Orientation Equality could be rewarded for his life's work by being made Sovereign of the Order. The Prelate of the Order, in these ecumenical days, should not be required to be an Anglican Bishop.

Talking about the Government reminds me: we clearly need a dedicated Ministry to coordinate the indoctrination of the populace and to disseminate information about Worst Practice. I suggest the resurrection of the Ministry of Instruction and Morale, for which that great public servant Helen, Duchess of Denver, worked during the last War. It should be given the largely redundant Treasury Building as a marker of its national importance. A statue of Goebbels should grace the central atrium, a copy perhaps of the one which must be erected on the vacant plinth in Trafalgar Square.
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Information from the Autumn 2014 Bulletin of SPUC Safe at School. Yes, you're quite right, today's is an abrasive post, with its talk about 'perversion'; not at all in my usual emollient style. It has always been my desire to avoid any slightest risk of hurt to friends who have a homosexual inclination. But I would never use the term 'pervert' to apply to chaste, celibate homosexuals, because in my view someone (of whatever orientation) who lives, despite the pressures of our culture, a chaste and celibate life, is a distinctly nobler person than comfortable happily married heterosexuals like me. And I even feel more sympathy for genitally active homosexuals than for heterosexual fornicators and adulterers, since the latter, unlike the former, have been given by Providence an Estate in which those that have not the gift of continence might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's Body.

So why the change of style? Since the murder of the Paris Blasphemers, we have been so lectured by the Camerons and Hollandes and Obamas about tolerance (tolerance even of the grossest sacrileges and insults), that it seems to me that a 'rougher' style cannot possibly be the object of any criticism. Frankness, free speech, that is, Parrhesia, even if it hurts, is officially ring-fenced. Isn't it? And now dear Stephen Fry has led the way in demonstrating the excellence of unrestrained Frankness. Ole, or whatever the word is!

5 March 2015

Episcopal Translations.

I know little about the relationship between the Holy Father and his bishops. But Stay: why do I call them "his" bishops? As Leo XIII stated, and Vatican II agreed, bishops are not Vicars of the Roman Pontiff. They, like him, are Successors of the Apostles. But it is praiseworthy that the Bishop of Rome takes such a careful brotherly interest even in his Venerable Brethren the Assistant bishops ... for example, in a new coadjutor bishop, for Albenga Imperia in Italy.

And I know even less about the rights and the wrongs in the 'emeritusing' of the bishops who fall foul of Rome ... but I am curious about the canonical procedures involved. Because it does not sound as if they all just resign.

When, years ago, the Bishop of Evreux was Got Rid Of in the time of S John Paul II, my recollection is that he was actually translated to a see in partibus infidelium, somewhere in the middle of the Sahara: I believe it may have had some such amusingly improbable name as Parthenia (what a wag Cardinal Gantin was!). So I wonder what they did with that more recent Toowoomba chappie down in Oz? Perhaps there was a derelict shanty-town in the Outback to which he was translated? I suppose the Australian equivalent of Parthenia might be something like Sheilas' Rest (Refrigerium scortorum in partibus infidelium), perhaps? No? OK, I apologise to those who discern a patronising 'colonialist' slur.

In English constitutional practice, Members of the House of Commons who 'Want Out' apply for the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds or of the Manor of Northolt which, being technically Offices of profit under the Crown, automatically disqualify the holder from membership of the Commons. A list of those honoured with these dignities would afford a peepshow of some of the most diverting characters to have served their country, or, er, not.

Would it be a Jolly Thought if there were a similar special Titular See to which errant bishops were automatically translated? The Successio Apostolica of that See would be terribly interesting. In an age of virtual Anythings on the Internet, it could have its own virtual Cathedral with sumptuous but virtual monuments to the glories of previous virtual pontiffs. Just virtually think! Virtual Bernini wall to wall! There could be a virtual Shrine, thronged by virtual pilgrims, to that great liturgical reformer S Rembert Weakland, with, in the background, an immense virtual painting, in the style of Rubens' Triumph of the Church, of the archbishop's friend upon a great baroque chariot, triumphantly on his way to the bank with the archdiocesan virtual finances! The virtual Spirit of Vatican II! If I knew how to put illustrations on to blogs, I would design its armorial bearings for you.

4 March 2015

Obama and the Da Vinci Code

There is a report that some daft archbishop somewhere has suggested that since the Pope has the power of the keys, perhaps he can dissolve valid consummated sacramental marriages. But, however hard these extreme ultrapapalist mavericks struggle to portray the Holy Father as some sort of magically cunctipotent wizard or godlike superman or supremely effective alchymist, the fact remains that only a nutter, surely, really believes the Pope could do anything. He can't, for example, in my humble and respectful but cynical and decided opinion, turn the Alps into cheese or add the Da Vinci Code to the Bible or beam Obama up to Mars or grow a tail or turn Walter Kasper into the Dalai Lama or abolish the Sacrament of Baptism or suppress Easter or turn a pumpkin into a carriage or abolish bodily death or transsubstantiate a consecrated Host into bread or dissolve a Christian marriage or erase the character of Holy Order or transmute lead into gold. 

I repeat, underneath, a previous post about what the Pope is for and is supposed to do and does have the grace of the Holy Spirit guaranteed to him to accomplish. You might have thought that someone, such as a seminary lecturer, would have broken this somewhat ancient news, dating from at least 1870, to wannabe archbishops.

Doellinger, poor old thing, was excommunicated because he felt unable to accept Vatican I. Why do we now have an open season ...

 "The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might disclose new teaching, but that, by His assistance, they might devoutly guard, and faithfully set forth, the Revelation handed down through the Apostles, the Deposit of Faith."

A very sensible reader asked me where this came from. I am happy to oblige. I can reveal that it came from the Decree of the First Vatican Council, on Papal Infallibility. It is a dogma which every Catholic, from the Pope downwards or upwards or sideways, is obliged to believe. Here's some more splendid stuff from the same source:

"So this gift of truth and of unfailing faith is divinely invested in Peter and his successors in this chair, so that they may discharge their lofty job [munere] in order that the whole flock of Christ, turned away through them [the popes] from the poisonous food of heresy, may be nourished by the food of heavenly teaching so that, all occasion of schism being done away, the whole Church may be kept as one and, resting upon its foundation, may stand firm against the Gates of Hell."

I will oblige further with a fine quotation from Blessed John Henry Newman:

"It is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of doctrine. And it is an objection  which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift."

And, finally, with a neatly incisive passage from Joseph Ratzinger:

"After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything ... especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. ... In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith ... it is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition."

Our beloved Holy Father Pope Francis is most truly and visibly pope when you see him formally and officially condemning doctrinal error; when from the Chair of S Peter he carefully and lucidly puts into words what some erroneous innovation consists of, and then, in effect, declares "If anyone says that, let him be anathema". Or "This judgement is to be definitively held by all the faithful."

THAT is the job ['munus' in that Decree of Vatican I] that he's really there for: keeping the Church in unity by banishing the 'poisonous food' of heresy. 

God bless him; may God in due time make of him a worthy successor to his great predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. As Benedict prayed for himself at his own inauguration, so may Pope Francis, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, discover the strength to resist the Wolves. He will not find this easy; but God does provide for our human weakness whatever graces are needful for the job we are, each of us, put here to fulfill. Pope Francis so very badly needs our prayers.

3 March 2015

Apologies ...

... to those who emailed me, or submitted comments, during my week in Ireland. I am afraid that, as ever, the numbers of these were so great that I had to race through at breakneck speed. I am sorry if I mislaid you altogether, or sent you a rather curtly brief reply. No discourtesy intended.

I was surprised to get back home to my computer to discover that in Rome there is going to be a special Mass to commemorate fifty years since the first Mass entirely in the Italian Language. Surely, this sort of rather Renaissance triumphalist crowing is both in bad taste, and sadly divisive? Will the Mass be a Requiem to pray for the souls of those whose faith was disastrously weakened by those of the post-Conciliar changes which were praeter Concilium seu contra Concilium, and which proliferated during this half-century?

If you are a no-longer-fertile Mexican grandmother possessing shares in the Ignatius Press, whose newly ordained narcissistic grandson possesses a semi-Pelagian biretta and works in the deeply flawed Roman Curia, you must be in sore need of something to cheer you up. This event may not be precisely what you've been waiting for.

2 March 2015

SILVERSTREAM

What a wonderful place, a monastery in a Classical house (1843, but no suggestion of the Gothic) beside its silver stream in the gentle countryside of County Meath, but within a few minutes of Dublin airport! I was privileged to be asked to give retreat addresses there last week; but what a privilege just to be  there!

I suppose Anglicans of my generation might suffer from a nostalgia trip down memory lane: the particular lane in question being Nashdom in the high days of the Anglican Benedictine House of which Dom Gregory Dix had been such an ornament. The Chapel is not exactly, as at Nashdom, a Russian princely ballroom, but the feel is very similar. Most significant, of course, the melodies of the antiphons in the monastic breviary, and of the Graduale Romanum, which I don't think I have heard in the more than half a century since I visited Nashdom. But there is nothing retro about the community, which is entirely young and very vital, led by its charismatic prior Dom Mark Kirby. It is supplemented by young men known as 'observers', who are having a first nibble at the monastic life. Australian accents are a big part of the mix! And it was fun to meet a priest of the Ethiopian Church, based in Dublin, who feels at home during his visits ... happy to be among fellow monks, and, formed in the Ge'ez Liturgical texts, very appreciative of worship in a hieratic language! I wonder if the Ethiopian Church uses the works of Christine Mohrmann in its clerical formation?!

In many curious ways, the feel of Silverstream is very Anglican (several English Missals seem to lurk around). I was dead chuffed to be asked to celebrate, one morning, the Ordinariate Rite for the Chapter Mass: we rather think that this was the first use of our own particular rite in Ireland. It went down like a ... whatever it is that goes down very well!

The Sunday Mass is probably more redolent of old Ireland before the liturgical collapses of the 1960s: reverent but with that faint sense of perpetual movement which you get from the presence of a lot of children! The builders of the house [possibly as a dower house???], the Viscounts Gormanston (a genuine Irish medieval Viscountcy ... no whiff of the bribery surrounding the events of 1800-1801 about this title), who kept the Faith, would have felt faintly bewildered but very much at home.


1 March 2015

The Five Articles of Unity and the Ordinariate

(1) That in the Sacrament of the Altar, by virtue of the words of Christ duly spoken by the priest, is present realiter, under the kinds of bread and wine, the natural Body of Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary, and also his natural Blood.
(2) That after the consecration there remains not the substance of bread and wine, nor any other substance, but the substance of God and Man.
(3) That in the Mass is offered the true Body of Christ, and his true Blood, a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead.
(4) That to Peter the Apostle, and his lawful successors in the Apostolic See, as Christ's Vicars, is given the supreme power of feeding and ruling the Church of Christ Militant, and confirming their brethren.
(5) That the authority of handling and defining concerning the things belonging to faith, sacraments, and discipline ecclesiastical, hath hitherto ever belonged, and ought to belong, only to the pastors of the Church; whom the Holy Ghost for this purpose hath set in the Church; and not to laymen.


A beautifully sinewy piece of prose! And very much the property of the Ordinariate. These Articles date from the start of Elizabeth Tudor's reign; it seems to me that they express the continuity which exists between the Canterbury Convocation of 1559 (which enacted these Articles), and the Ordinariate; the Gathering of those who, from within the Provinces of Canterbury and York, finally shook off the burden and impedimentum of the centuries of schism.

On Saturday February 25, as the House of Commons in Westminster completed its treatment of a combined Bill for the restoration of a Book of Common Prayer and of the Royal Supremacy, a little way down the river, in Old S Paul's Cathedral, the Convocation of Canterbury (York could not meet because its bishops were in London for Parliament) met under the presidency of Bishop Bonner and passed these Articles. The first three were, with minor variations, the same articles that had been put together by Queen Mary's first Convocation in 1553 as the basis of the Disputation being planned in Oxford between Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, and some Catholic divines. The first two Articles related directly to the 1552 Book with, between its covers, the Black Rubric denying "anye reall and essencial presence ... of Christ's naturall fleshe and bloude". As Parliament hurried towards the re-enactment of the 1552 rite, Convocation in the most specific terms ('natural'; 'natural') renewed its condemnation of the eucharistic doctrine which the Black Rubric expressed.

And on the very day that the Commons finished their work on the Royal Supremacy, Convocation defined unambiguously in its fourth Article the Church of England's commitment to the Primacy of S Peter. It is hard to think of a more pointed declaration on a more significant day. But the fifth Article is perhaps the most bold and fearless of all (the Universities, when they subscribed the first four Articles, were apparently too nervous to pass this one). The first four Articles, on Eucharist and Primacy, undoubtedly nailed some very dangerous colours to the mast but they were not, when they were passed, actually contrary to Statute law as it stood at that moment. But to deny the competence of the Crown in Parliament to order ecclesiastical matters ran contrary to all the assumptions of all the years since 1533 - assumptions as real in the Marian statutes restoring the Old Religion as they had been in the Henrician and Edwardine statutes varying or abolishing it.

Our forefathers showed their courage at the moment when the regime enacted schism; and courage won the day when Benedict XVI enacted the Ordinariate at the request of three Anglican bishops, two of whom bore the titles of the places of S Augustine's landfalls in 597 after his journey from Rome.

25 February 1559 - 15 January 2011. What a long and wearisome separation.