31 May 2015

The Trinity Preface

There are phrases from the Trinity Sunday preface within the Stowe Missal. This is a liturgical book scribed in the 790s, but copied undoubtedly from a much earlier source (for example, it lacks evidence of the Gregorian changes, such as the moving of the Pater Noster to a place immediately after the Roman Canon and before the Fraction). It may have been the book of an itinerant priest in South-West Ireland, or one who could not afford a large Mass-book (it only has one Epistle and Gospel, but is clearly meant for all-the-year use since it has the seasonal paragraphs of the Communicantes). And the Preface in this rite goes as follows:
" ... through Christ our Lord: who with thine only begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God and immortal God and incorruptible and immovable God and invisible and faithful God [much more like this up to:] good and holy God, not singulariter of one person but of the one substance of the Trinity; Thee we believe, Thee we bless; Thee we adore [etc.]."

This faintly reminds me of the same place in the Anaphora of S John Chrysostom:
" ...For thou art God ineffable, incomprehensible,invisible, inconceivable, ever being as Thou art, Thou and thine only-begotten Son and thy Holy Spirit [etc.]."
Is this simply a generic similarity, of Christians toto orbe divisi thinking the same way in the same context, or is there a textual link? I strongly incline to the former possibility.

The preface of the Trinity, in more or less its present form, is in the Gelasian Sacramentary, for use on the Sunday after Pentecost. Is it from a source like this that Alcuin got it for the Sunday Mass of the little book which I am sure (pace G G Willis) he put together for priests minimally equipped during the Carolingian period?

A brief look at the manuscript evidence suggests to me that the rubric directing this Preface to be used on the Sundays after Trinity (aka after the Octave of Pentecost) first appears in Sarum Missals early in the 14th century ... as one might expect. It is also in the Westminster and Hereford Missals; was it universal in the later English Middle Ages?

I then have a gap until Pope Clement XIII made it the Green Sunday (and Advent etc.) Preface in the Missale Romanum in 1759. Had there been continuity anywhere in this custom between the Tridentine curtailing of local rites, and the 18th century ... or did it just occur to the pope quite spontaneously that it was a good idea to make the Trinity Preface the all-purpose Sunday Preface?

29 May 2015


Paying a visit to Rorate, I was interested to notice that the Master of Benet's, in this University, one Werner Jeanrond, is on the list of participants in the recent Secret Meeting of German, Swiss, and French clerics and savants.

What does one do? One reads a man's biog on Wikipedia and follows up references. But ... Oh dear ... two interesting links there appear to be broken. That's the Internet for you.

The only revealing snippet is that he has some connection with a periodical called Concilium which I have never read.

Synodical secrecy (1)

On March 13, our Holy Father gave an interview to the Vaticanista Valentina Alazraki, for the Mexican network Televisa. He included one particular passage which concerned me so deeply that I have not so far written about it. It seemed to demand careful thought.

It is important to remember that not everything a Pope says calls for either the adherence of Divine Faith or even for Religious Respect (obsequium). And a Mexican television interview most certainly does not come within the category of 'Magisterial' utterances. Indeed, the first point I wish to make is the importance of distinguishing between the 'Magisterial' and the 'Non-Magisterial'.

But that is not the whole story. It is a deeply Catholic instinct, and an immensely sound one, to be very shy of disagreeing with a Pope, even when he is speaking non-Magisterially. Technically, a Christian can adhere dutifully to a Magisterial statement while expressing himself in a robust and demotic way (just as Pope Francis often does!) about the non-Magisterial utterances. But in fact, the love we naturally feel for the Vicar of S Peter dissuades us from sounding critical, even though, in terms of rights we have every right to do so. And a cleric with a mandate to teach in the Church's name ought to feel particularly uneasy about any sort of public dissent from the Supreme Pontiff's lightest word. Before he does so, he must weigh the matter in terms both theological and prudential. So I have given this a great deal of very careful thought.

To be continued.

28 May 2015


This morning I received a letter from a reader in America asking for prayers. His first name was Christopher. If he would like to give me his email address as a Comment on this blog, I will delete it without publishing it and use email to reply.

26 May 2015

Responsa ad dubia

Hello Tommy! I reprint below something that I posted on April 24 about this matter of validity which you raise. "Tantum ergo" had raised it.

Hello Tantumergo! And Welcome! Your question, about the "Validity" of Eucharistic Prayer II, is so pastorally important that I think I'd better deal with it instantly.

Unless some priest is such a mad ingenious fool that he decides not to use wheat bread and grape wine, or misses out the Lord's Words at His Last Supper, it is very difficult for him to make a Mass invalid. Even if he were to be a secret atheist! Because of the chaotic situation which arose after Vatican II (but not mandated by the Council) devout laypeople quite often ask your sort of question. If you really want to read all the technical details about what is 'valid' and what is 'invalid' please look back at some earlier posts I gathered together at 4 September 2014; and also read 20 November 2013, 12 May 2014, and 13 March 2015. You see how often people do get worried! I'm sure this will not be the last time I am asked to take up a question like yours.

But my advice to anybody in your position is: Don't worry. Because using EP II certainly does make the Lord's Body and Blood to be present, and truly does offer them in Sacrifice. No ifs, no buts.

Back to Tommy ... the actual words of the form for consecrating a Bishop, introduced in the post-Conciliar Pontifical, had previously been used, for centuries, by Eastern Churches in communion with Rome or whose episcopacy Rome accepted, to consecrate bishops. When this was pointed out to Archbishop Lefebvre, he stopped doubting the efficacy of the rite. As for the Form of Ordaining a priest, the post-Conciliar Pontifical made one very slight change which silly people made a song and dance about. But the change in fact simply changed the wording back to what it had been in the first Christian millennium. If this wording really is inadequate to ordain, then S Gregory the Great, poor chap, went through his life ordaining invalidly. So did all the popes for more than a thousand years. People who claim this seem to me to be funny sorts of "Catholics".

I do get quite cross with these individuals who, because of their own passionate desire for "the Conciliar Church" not to have any true Sacraments, ignore what the Church has taught for centuries about validity.

25 May 2015

Communion Procession in a new Dark Age (3)

Well, we all know what happened in the twentieth century. Divorce got its toe in the door ... and within decades the door was wide open. Unnatural and disordered sexual practices corrupted Marriage. Fornication gradually ceased to be furtive and, after being 'Free love' in the 1930s, had by the end of the century become the natural assumption of Western societies. Homosexuals ... no; some homosexuals ... ceased to enjoy inhabiting an amusing subculture and became aggressive public ideologues. The mortal sin of missing Mass without good cause ceased to be a matter of guilt. You know all this, and much more.

My analysis, and suggestion, is this. Society has in effect regressed to the superficially christianised state it was in during the 'Dark Ages'. We are, in other words, in a new Dark Age of widespread unrepented mortal sin. In fact, ours is an even darker age, because people do not even accept that they are in a state of sin, and do not repent, not even once a year. Nor, probably, even when they die.

Unhappily, however, we have inherited the ecclesial sacramental culture, to which the reforms of S Pius X have led, in which it appears that a General Communion is the normal custom at every Mass. It is not commonly preceded by Confession; that sacrament has become so uncommon that, at the beginning of the Year of Faith, I heard (yes, I heard this with my own ears) one priest in a mainstream church, say this to his congregation: "I have decided to use the Year of Faith to revive confession. As you all know, in this church we have for long used the Confessional for storing what gets left unsold after a Parish bring and buy sale. It's pretty full, and we need to get rid of all the stuff so as to use the Confessional for confessions again. There are a lot of books ... I invite everyone to come and help themselves to any thing at all they can take away and use; and then we'll have a Work Party to clean it out."

So people who have not been to their duties for years receive Communion when, at family events, they have the rare experience of being at a celebration of Mass. People who have committed sexual sins for which they feel no repentance, which they have no intention to strive to avoid in future, naturally troop up to the Altar and receive Communion. As a product of Anglican culture, I am still horrified by the widespread Catholic custom of receiving communion into the hand and then walking nonchalantly away putting the Host into ones mouth as one walks.

I shall argue, in the final part of this, that we should restructure our ritual practices to take account of this new and darker Age.
To be, DV, concluded.

24 May 2015

Variis linguis loquebantur Apostoli

But among the many tongues the Church speaks nowadays, Latin, the proper language of the Latin Church, apparently is not to feature.

Getting back to the Internet after a short break, I noticed that an American bishop has cheerfully informed the world that not many clergy know Latin nowadays, so that it's hard to find any who can celebrate the Extraordinary Form. He is not the first bishop who has said something similar in public.

I am amazed by the nonchalant way that bishops make this point without any apparent awareness that Canon Law (249) requires the clergy to be proficient in Latin. If a diocesan bishop were rebuking a negligent pastor for ignoring Canon Law, what would be his reaction if the cleric concerned cheerfully and nonchalantly said "Come off it, Bish dear, nobody takes any notice of all that old Canon Law c**p any more nowadays! Crawl out from under your mitre and try to get real!" But apparently there are bishops who feel exactly thus with regard to Canon Law. Is chirpy insouciance any less reprehensible among bishops than it is among presbyters? 

I am moved to repeat an old post of my own on this very subject.

S JOHN XXIII and Latin.
 Roman Pontiffs do not commonly sign their Magisterial documents on the High Altar of S Peter's in the presence of the body of Cardinals. But S John XXIII thus promulgated his Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia, 1962, in which he insisted that the Latin language must remain central to the culture of Western Christianity. What on earth could the good old gentleman have done in order to make his point more emphatically?

That Letter was praised by B Paul VI (Studia Latinitatis, 1964, " ... principem obtinere locum dicenda sane est"), who was anxious that seminarians "magna cum cura et diligentia ad antiquas et humanas litteras informentur"; and S John Paul II (Sapientia Christiana) emphasised the requirement for knowlege of Latin "for the faculties of the Sacred Sciences, so that students can understand and use the sources and documents of the Church". More recently Benedict XVI (Latina lingua, 2012), praised Veterum sapientia as having been issued iure meritoque: it is to be taken seriously both because of its legal force and because of the intrinsic merit of its arguments; and in his Encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis wrote specifically about the need for seminarians to be taught Latin. We have, in other words, a coherent and continuous expectation in the teaching of popes S John XXIII, B Paul VI, S John Paul II, and Benedict XVI that all seminarians should become proficient in Latin, the language of the Church. [So let nobody argue that the provisions of Canon 249 have fallen into desuetude because the legislator has failed within living memory to continue to insist upon them.] And the attitude of the popes to the promotion of Latin studies in even broader contexts than that of the formation of the clergy is demonstrated in the establishment by B Paul VI of a Latin Academy; a foundation re-established and strengthened by Benedict XVI.

This papal teaching by no means relates solely to the language of worship; it desires Latin to remain a living vernacular for the clergy and not least for their formation; and it is explicitly based upon the belief that, by being latinate, a clerisy will have access to a continuity of culture. My post would have to be very long indeed if it quoted fully all the words of all four popes to this effect. Coming as I do from the Anglican Patrimony, I will instead share the witness of C S Lewis's Devil Screwtape, who confessed, "Since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another". And in his Pilgrim's Regress, Lewis suggests that the growing disuse of Classical languages is a Diabolical trick to isolate the educated classes from the wisdom of the Past. Both in secular culture and within the Church, there is a risk that the educated class will be cut off and imprisoned in the narrow confines of a particular culture - victims of its particular Zeitgeist. A literate clerisy is one that reads what other ages wrote, which means that it will at least be able to read Latin; and an obvious sign of such a clerisy, in practical terms, will be that it can with ease read its Divine Office in Latin.

VATICAN II and Latin.
It is in this context that we must see the requirement of Vatican II (Sacrosanctum Concilium 101): "In accordance with the centuries-old tradition (saecularis traditio) of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in reciting the Divine Office". And it is highly significant that it goes on to make any use of the vernacular an (apparently very rare) exception which bishops can grant "only on an individual basis". One might plausibly surmise that this exception may have been envisaged as useful in areas where resources for clerical formation were limited, like the remoter parts of the 1960s Third World. I wonder how the Council Fathers - or a significant proportion of them - might have reacted to the information that in less than a decade the bishops of Western, Old, Europe (whose culture both religious and secular had been based upon Latin for nearly two millennia, the continent of the great universities in which the civilisation of the Greek and Roman worlds had been transmitted) would regard both this conciliar mandate, reinforced by the directions of the Conciliar Decree Optatam totius on seminary training, as an irrelevant dead letter. As early as 1966, B Paul VI was deploring (Sacrificium laudis) the habit of requesting dispensations for a vernacular Office.

Readers of this blog are probably familiar* with the other prescriptions of Vatican II for the retention of Latin, particularly in the Liturgy, and I will not labour the point. I emphasise that I am not basing an argument for the retention of a living Latin culture simply and nakedly upon the words of the Council. The auctoritas for that retention is very much more broadly based, as the Council Fathers themselves emphasised by calling it and invoking it as a saecularis traditio. The conciliar mandate is merely a dutiful affirmation, proper to an Ecumenical Council of the Church, of the continuity and abiding prescriptiveness of the Church's Tradition; the guarantee making explicit that in an age of revolutions the old assumptions are still in place. Without these words of the Council, it might have been plausibly argued by ill-disposed persons that a radical cultural and intellectual shift had invalidated previous assumptions. In view of the plain language of the Council, such a thesis can only be advanced as a deliberate repudiation of the explicit words of an Ecumenical Council ... as well as of the centuries preceding it and of the teaching of subsequent popes. 

CANON LAW and Latin.
But not long ago I met a bright and recently ordained young priest who had been taught "a little Greek but not a word of Latin". So, despite Canon 249 (in the post-Conciliar Code of Canon Law), the clergy have not all learned, and are not now all being taught, Latin as part of their seminary formation?

Well, of course they all haven't so learnt, and are not all being so taught. Everybody knows that. A priest of my acquaintance once wrote to me "When I was a seminarian in the 1980s, the very fact of having done a course in Latin at University was considered tantamount to a declaration in favour of Archbishop Lefebvre. A priest who gave a retreat (a prominent moral theologian of those days) searched our places in choir and denounced those who possessed Latin Breviaries as certainly having no vocation". One can hardly blame the present generation of English bishops for a problem which looks as though it arose more than half a century ago (in any case, blame is not my purpose). Indeed, I have heard that matters may now be a little less bad. But not, I believe, everywhere, and certainly not for all seminarians. Surely Catholic Bishops have some say about the syllabuses taught in seminaries? Surely they have some responsibility for the formation of their own clergy? Are they happy that seminaries are run in a way which pays only very selective regard to the Magisterium of S John XXIII, so recently canonised? And to the Second Vatican Council, which (vide Optatam totius 13) laid emphasis on the role of Latin in seminary education: or is that particular Conciliar document now to be consigned to oblivion? B Paul VI, so recently beatified, as the first in his list of academic priorities for seminarians, wrote "The cultural formation of the young priest must certainly include an adequate knowledge of languages  and especially of Latin (particularly for those of the Latin Rite)." (Summi Dei verbum.) There has long been a tacit assumption among some that the Magisterium of the 'pre-Conciliar popes' is to be quietly forgotten. Pius IX? Pius XII? Who on earth were they? But now one might be forgiven for wondering whether the Magisterium of the Council itself, and the teaching of the 'post-Conciliar popes', are now also (when it suits) being treated with similar contempt. Are these more recent Pontiffs to be elaborately honoured with Beatifications and break-neck-speed Canonisations and facile rhetorical praise, while their actual teaching, emphatically and insistently given, is tossed aside as irrelevant or impractical?

"There just isn't room on the syllabus for any of that". Is there not? Since entering into Full Communion in 2011, I have met significant numbers of clergy who have deplored the fact that, at seminary, they were robbed of what the Catholic Church regards as the first building block of a priestly formation. They have seemed to have in mind quite a number of useless topics which could profitably have been omitted so as to liberate syllabus time.

Cardinal Basil Hume, back in the 1990s, reminded Anglican enquirers that "Catholicism is table d'hote, not a la carte". Surely that gives an ex-Anglican some right to wonder whether this principle also applies as much to those who run or who episcopally supervise seminaries as it does to Anglican enquirers?

A final quotation from S John XXIII. "The teachers ... in universities or seminaries are required to speak Latin (latine loqui tenentur) and to make use of textbooks written in Latin. Those whose ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for them to obey these instructions shall gradually be replaced by teachers who are suited to this task (in eorum locum doctores ad hoc idonei gradatim sufficiantur). Any difficulties that may be advanced by students or professors must be overcome (vincantur necesse est) either by the patient insistence of the bishops or religious superiors, or by the good will of the teachers."

And a final question: how many of those currently teaching in English seminaries are idonei?
*You sometimes find claims made to the effect that "Vatican II mandated more extensive use of vernacular languages in the liturgy". Sacrosanctum concilium para 54 says 'Linguae vernaculae in Missis cum populo celebratis congruus locus tribui possit'. Doesn't sound to me much like a 'mandate'. Not even 'potest'! It goes on to say 'praesertim' and mentions the readings. Then, much more cautiously, it raises the possibility of the vernacular 'even' (etiam) 'in partibus quae ad populum spectant' linking this with a specific requirement that the laity should also be able to sing and say those selfsame parts in Latin. Hardly a 'mandate' for the vernacular! Rather, a nervously tentative partial permission.

23 May 2015

Communion Procession in a new Dark Age? (2)

The thesis I am testing is that the moment when S Pius X started encouraging frequent communion is the moment at which the the mass cultural Catholicism of post-Constantinian Chritianity, in which mass conversions led to a situation in which most people and most societies were not radically 'converted', had been superseded. Some anecdotes from my own unsystematic reading of Irish Church History: a twelfth century Bishop of Ardfert (i.e. Kerry) was reputed to be "chaste". Just think what that implies for the most of the episcopate: they were presumably Caseys, Doyles, and Conrys to a man! I once amused byself by looking at the entries in episcopal registers of the late medieval parochial clergy of Kerry. Time and time again, the record revealed that a cleric was dispensed for illegitimacy. That might mean that most couples were not canonically married and that therefore most children were canonically illegitimate; or, more probably, that these clerics were the sons of priests who naturally planned to inherit their fathers' trade: in either case, it tells us something about society!

But the counter-Reformation implied a clericate different from the medieval priesthood in which a man who could read but had no training could turn up at the Embertide and be ordained (the old system which, like so many of the medieval abuses, survived in the Church of England long after the Catholic Church had moved on). The introduction of seminaries meant a much more professionalised priesthood with an expectation that they would have a more professional attitude to the formation of their laity.

By the time of S Pius X, things were ripe for a new Catholicism in which frequent Confession and frequent Communion could be encouraged. The Dark Ages had finally come to an end. Their ritual marks remained; Communion from the tabernacle rather than within Mass was still common in Oxford Anglo-Catholicism when I was an undergraduate in the 1960s; in both East and West the Body of Christ was not delivered into the hands of the laity; neither was the Chalice delivered into the hands of the laity. Both of these were practices which developed in the 'Dark Ages' out of fear profanation or sacrilege. But, with a more trained and 'sacramentalised' laity, the situation had become ripe for change.

Dv, to be continued.

22 May 2015

"Communion Procession" in a new Dark Age? (1)

In the CTS hand Missal for the Laity, where one might expect a heading "COMMUNION", there is instead the heading "COMMUNION PROCESSION"; "Communion" has, functionally, become adjectival. Syntactically, this rather teutonic agglutinisation of nouns is a phenomenon which has become very common, and is often found in newspaper headings. "Football Manager" "Rape Victim" "Crash Survivor". There is no justification in the Ordo Missae itself for this particular insertion. It seems to me strange that emphasis should thus be taken off the centrality of the act of Holy Communion and the weight made to rest upon the act of processing.

But there is reference to the Communion Procession in the IGMR. In its original 1969 version it read (56 (i) "... cantus ad Communionem, cuius est  ... processionem ad Corpus Christi suscipiendum magis fraternam reddere." In 2001, this became " ... cantus ad Communionem, cuius est ... indolem 'communitariam' processionis ad Eucharistiam suscipiendam magis in lucem ponere." This is undoubtedly a strengthening of the idea. As for the idea itself, I can't see much in Jungmann's Volume II to support it.

The propriety of this development seems to me to arise from the process of frequent communion encouraged by S Pius X, and so accentuated since the middle years of the last century that it became  what we Anglicans used to call a "A General Communion". I want to suggest that the impetus given to this by the Holy Pontiff needs to be seen in a particular historical context.

It was in the nineteenth century that Catholicism in many countries was reformed very radically in its social manifestations. Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, presided over a revolution which eliminated the centuries-old peasant Catholicism of Irish culture (elements of which I strongly suspect go back to the sixth century) and finally imposed the discipline ... I nearly wrote 'military discipline' ... of the Counter-Reformation. In particular, out went the 'patterns', the old Patronal Festivals, which although cultic were occasions of every known kind of debauchery. The old Catholicism, in which one went to confession before Easter so as to be in a state of Grace and 'fit' to receive at Easter the Holy Communion which most people did not receive during the rest of the year, was laudably replaced by a new Catholicism in which the clergy were encouraged to strive to ensure that their people were normally, and not just for a few days each spring, in a state of Grace.

I suspect that a connection could be found between this and the general increase in disapproval of adultery, and other sexual sins, in both Protestant and Catholic contexts. As late as the seventeenth century royal courts, nobody failed to believe that adultery was a mortal sin. But equally, it was a cultural assumption that Kings did commit that mortal sin of adultery and even had mistresses en titre, right down - in France - to the accession of the saintly Louis XVI; and acknowledged and ennobled their bastards. I read somewhere of an uxorious German prince who maintained mistresses he didn't sleep with because princely status required it! In England, that culture lasted until William IV in the 1830s; the eldest of his bastards by Dorothy Bland, of Parknasilla in Co Kerry (where Pam and her sons and sons-in-law played golf in just about the most scenic 12 hole hotel course there must be anywhere) was made Earl of Munster ... but nota bene ... only the eldest son and only an earl. By the end of the same century it had become unthinkable that Albert Edward Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, certainly one of the hundred most unedifying lechers known to history, should acknowledge and ennoble bastards.

Things had changed.

Dv, to continue.

20 May 2015

Our Lady in Eastertide

Down in Cornwall, during the Middle Ages, they had religious plays in the ancient Cornish language ... yes, the selfsame language that some enthusiasts are currently trying to revive. In fact, these dramas in Medieval Cornish are the main basis of the 'revived' language ... which I find oddish. Just suppose we spoke an English constructed upon the verses of Chaucer, without paying any attention to the fact that our Geoffrey had both chosen and arranged his words so as to fit his metrical scheme! After all (and I admit that this is an extreme parallel), Homer's Greek can never have been spoken as a vernacular by anyone. Something similar must go for the poetic diction of pretty well every language and age.

However ... I am wandering yet again. Back to the point. In the Resurrexio Domini [sic], the Lord (of course) appears first to his Immaculate Mother. It is a beautifully constructed scene, full of human interest; the Mother of God, for example, needs to be reassured that her Risen Son really has no pains, no permanent ill-effects, from the ordeals he has been through!

Medieval Cornish, like Modern English, was an omnivorous language heavy with vocabulary, quotations, phrases, technicalities, expletives from other languages ... English; Latin borrowings going back to the Roman Occupation; contemporary Latin borrowings; French (another thing which the inventors of 'Modern Cornish' can't stand; rather as Herr Hitler did for the German language, their dictionaries constantly enjoin us not to use loan-words amply attested in the literature, but to stick to pure 'Celtic' roots). And the Lord greets his Mother with the Latin phrase O salve Sancta Parens. This, of course, is the beginning of the Introit for Eastertide Masses of our Lady (and comes ultimately from Sedulius). The O needs to be in the Cornish text because the lines have to have seven syllables.

Now: here comes the puzzle. Throughout the manuscript, there are two scribal hands. Manus prima, is the slightly faded original. Rather darker, manus secunda adds some stage directions, changes some ts to ds, and, at one point, appears to have updated a joke by erasing three lines and writing some different Cornish placenames into the space thus made available ... making it, I suspect, topical to a different audience from that for which the manus prima had originally written out the play.

In the greeting O salve Sancta parens, it looks as if that erasing knife has again been at work underneath the first two words. Over that rasura, O salve is darkly inked in by manus secunda.

I cannot for the life of me guess what has gone on here. What might manus prima originally have written? Why? Might it be as simple as this: manus prima wrote Salve Sancta parens; manus secunda realised that a syllable extra was needed - made a botched job of supplying it - then scraped the area clean so as to make a neat fresh start?

You can look for yourselves at the manuscript without even travelling up to Oxford: search for Bodley 791 and scroll down to folio 61 verso.

19 May 2015

Oxford Terms

Many people will know that Oxford has three terms (Michaelmas; Hilary; Trinity); each of them contains eight weeks of "Full Term", in which undergraduates are expected to be resident. Each week is a Sunday-Saturday week, and is known as First week ... etc.. Increasingly, Colleges expect undergraduates to come back before First Week so as to get geared up and write Collection Papers to prove that they did their Vacation reading; and this week has come to be called Noughth Week (I apologise to mathematicians). Technically, the terms are rather longer than that, but Full Term is what matters for most practical purposes. So the Trinity Term this year began technically on Monday April 20 and ends Monday July 6; but, within that, Full Term is the eight weeks from Sunday April 26 until Saturday June 20.

But, historically, things were much more complicated (and what follows is actually a simplification). The old Latin Statutes knew of two summer terms. There was the Easter Term: Easter Wednesday until the Friday before Pentecost; and the Trinity or "Act" term, the Saturday before Pentecost until the Saturday following the first Tuesday in July. This year, April 8 until May 22; and then May 23 until Saturday 11 July. Hope I've got that right ...

"Act Term"? During the dark days of popish ecclesiastical tyranny, and even through the oppressions of the absolutist early Stuarts, the University Act was a celebration with many ingredients but, particularly, outrageously satirical attacks upon the Mighty in Academe, Church and State: presided over by an individual called Terrae Filius [the Son of the Earth]. But, following the liberties mercifully secured to us by the Glorious Revolution, enhanced in the fulness of time by the Splendid Enlightenment, it became an occasion increasingly dangerous to the Powers that Be (something similar happened in the Convocations of the clergy of Canterbury and York) with the result that it was tamed and made very respectable and now survives as Encaenia [Commencement], the annual Latin Ceremony (Wednesday after Eighth Week) when Honorary Degrees are conferred upon distinguished visitors such as Mrs Jefferts Schori ... No; don't say it. Just don't say it.

18 May 2015


People talk about 'comfort reading' (Decline and Fall, Have his Carcase, and Zuleika Dobson are some of mine) but there can also be Comfort Video-Watching. The other day I watched the full video of blessed Benedict XVI's Mass in Westminster Cathedral. It really is fun unexpectedly spotting Good Eggs on screen. Among the concelebrants, the great Mgr Andrew Wadsworth (Yes!! I hear everyone's cries of Vescovo subito!!! What a lot I owe to him!); and an Oxford friend, now much missed, Yakoub Banglash, nonchalantly poised in front of one of the cameras. And there is fun too in noticing the Bad Eggs ... not that I ever did spot the photogenic features of Kieran Conry.

The Mass was probably very close to being what most of the more moderately modernising Fathers of Vatican II imagined they were signing up to when they voted for Sacrosanctum concilium; Latin dominated, including the Roman Canon; but there were some Propers and Intercessions in English. In the Canon, it is always interesting to listen carefully to those senior concelebrants who have parts of the Great Prayer assigned to them to deliver individually. Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who had the good fortune of being ordained well before the Rupture and thus for more than a decade had experience of saying the Canon daily, was smooth and accurate. So, interestingly, was Cardinal Keith O'Brien (he had a couple of years of it). Archbishop Vincent Nichols (ordained in December 1969), on the other hand, gave the impression of not being quite within his comfort zone.

There was just one slight whiff of dissatisfaction; His Grace the Archbishop of Cardiff did not conceal that Welsh Catholics were rather disappointed that the Sovereign Pontiff's itinerary had not included the Principality. Hardly surprising. I didn't blame His Grace for giving everyone, in retaliation, an extensive experience of the Welsh Language! Served them right! And I had felt that Pope Benedict should have been allowed to go to Walsingham; I recall that his Predecessor had also wished to go there, and was irritated to be prohibited (you may remember that, as a consolation prize, S John Paul II was told that our Lady of Walsingham would be at his main Mass; he couldn't see her when he arrived to celebrate Mass, and gave peremptory instructions that she should at once be moved onto the Altar itself). A recent correspondent, a Catholic priest not of the Ordinariate, wrote to me: "English Catholic Bishops are more likely to be found in Lourdes than in Walsingham; and I think that the fact that the Catholic Shrine and associated plant in Walsingham is so shabby and underfunded in comparison with its Anglican counterpart is a reflection of the way in which Catholics tend to undervalue Walsingham". I'm not too certain about the individual details in that critical verdict, but the essential point is an interesting one. Are some Catholics still uneasy about the Anglican initiative at Walsingham, or irritated by the brilliantly conceived and truly Catholic spirit of Fr Hope Patten's elegant Holy House and Shrine Church, each so very much unlike a barn?

And Oxford. I wonder why he didn't come here? Could it have anything to do with the aggressive secularism of so many in the modern University? Or were the English bishops opposed? When preaching the University Sermon in Latin in the University Church (the sort of thing that still happens once a year in Oxford) soon after the papal visit to England, I lamented at some length on the sadness that so very erudite a Pontiff should not be able to visit this great shrine of all the scientiae, and to see Newman's Altar and Newman's Pulpit (which I was at that moment preaching from). I still think the same. And Benedict XVI would have been the first to understand that Blessed John Henry belongs to  Anglicans as well as to Catholics, and that Oxford is the symbol of that. Cardinal Manning might have agreed too ... you remember his criticism of Newman ... "the old Oxford literary Patristic tone" ... such crimes ...

A couple of attractive ecumenical opportunities went down the drain there!

17 May 2015

"The Dome": Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The Dome was still preoccupied withe the "South India Problem"; a part of the Anglican Communion had united with various Protestant sects in an amalgamation providing that 'non-conformist' ministers would officiate in South India without any sort of Anglican Ordination. The English Convocations, only three years previously, had put in place a system of partial intercommunion which maintained links between the the Church of England and those South Indian ministers whose ordination had been Anglican. Papalist Anglicans, not surprisingly, had vivid opinions about the illogicality of this uneasy compromise.

But other problems were beginning to appear. The March 1958 edition carried this story:

"The Rev. C.A.C. Hann, D.D., Principle of Lichfield Theological College, has stated that he has resigned on account of the betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice by the Convocation of Canterbury in its recent Resolutions on the Pastoral Care of the Divorced ... he says:
'In May last the Lower House of the Canterbury Convocation passed Resolution 2A ... As a result of this, it will be possible, provided certain conditions are fulfilled, for a divorced person who has "re-married" during the lifetime of a former partner to receive the Holy Communion. I protested most strongly against this resolution as denying Catholic Faith and Practice. Then, in September last, it was announced that a Worcestershire incumbent had gone through a form of marriage with a divorced woman whose husband was still alive ... When I read this I came to the conclusion that the Church's attitude towards divorce was the result of the desire to be "comprehensive" and, on the principle of Anglicanism, to unchurch nobody if it was possible to keep him within the Church. To my mind this was an indication that the Church of England is prepared to maintain its characteristic principle and its comprehensiveness even at the cost of sacrificing its professed adherence to Catholic Faith and Practice.
" If I felt - as I did - that the Resolution in fact denies important elements in the Catholic doctrines of Matrimony, of Holy Communion, of Grace, and of the Sin of Adultery, my re-action to to the decision of the authorities of the Church in the case of the Worcestershire incumbent was one of complete and utter disgust. To be perfectly candid, it seems to me that such action could not be taken by a Church in which the Grace of God was allowed free course.
"There is only one way to fight to the death such betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice, and that is to become exclusively Catholic. ..."

ANIMADVERTITE: (1) Things hit the Church of England about fifty years before they hit the Caholic Church; and
(2) it is important to continue to use technical terms such as "Adultery" and "had gone through a form of marriage". Talking about "remarried divorcees" just sells the pass.

16 May 2015

Bernard of Cluny and Bishop Grandisson of Exeter

In the Chapter Library at Exeter, there is an unpublished fragment which comes from a Mary Missal; a Missal containing only the Ordo Missae and the Masses of our Lady (analogous to the Requiem Missals we have nowadays). They were produced for use in the Lady Chapels of great churches which were able to provide an entire establishment ... clergy, books, vestments, plate, cantors ... for  use in such chapels. This fragment was corrected by the hand of Bishop John de Grandisson (pronounced Grahnsn; Bishop of Exeter in the fourteenth cenrury).

In this fragment, the Eastertide Mass of our Lady has a Sequence which neither the late Walter 'Patrimony' Frere nor I were able to find elsewhere. I print the remains below; [] indicates a hole in the manuscript. Fr James 'Patrimony' 'Ordinariate' Bradley kindly spotted that the first stanza came from the Mariale (III) of Bernard of Cluny; a long praise of our Lady in 15 Rhythmi; and the other stanzas are scattered around in V. I was accordingly able to fill up most holes in the text from Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi; Volume 50, pp 423 sqq...

This hymn is associated with the name of S Casimir, because a text of it was buried with him. We know it best in the form of the translation Daily, daily, sing to Mary, which only uses a small selection from the hundreds of stanzas.

The question remains, whether the centonisation was done by Bishop 'Patrimony' Grandisson of Exeter himself, a great client of our Lady, for the Mary Missal which he had made for his Cathedral or for his collegiate foundation at Ottery; or whether someone else had already done the work.

At the bottom, for my own satisfaction, I give, from AH, a brief account of textual variants it records.

III.15 [O beat]a
per quam data
nova mun[do gaudia]
et aperta
fide certa
regna sunt caelestia.

V.19 [Quot dolore]s
et angores
tua sensit anima
cum in cru[cem
summ]um ducem
gens levavit pessima!

21 Corde tris[ti
pa]ssionis gladium
cum irrisum
et occisum
as[pexisti filium.]

28 Sed quam laeta
es effecta
die statim tertia
[cum rex fortis
v]ictae mortis
protulit indicia!

30 Nec nar[rari
nec pensari]
tuum possit gaudium,
quando maestis
[rex caelestis
pacis dedit nuntium.]


mss=most of the manuscripts; ms=one or few of them.

III.15 ms quam beata

V.19 mss quot angores quot dolores; ms tot dolores; ms et dolores; ms quot languores quot dolores; ms quot dolores quot angores
mss cum; ms dum; ms levavit impia.

V.21 mss tuum cernis filium; ms cernens filium; ms tuum vides filium

V. 28 mss o quam; ms es completa; ms et repleta [haec cum assonantia]; mss die facta tertia; ms die virgo tertia; ms facta die tertia; ms dum rex; ms qua rex; ms dirae mortis; ms pertulit; ms iudicia.

V. 30 mss quis narrare quis pensare; ms quis pensare quis narrare; ms hinc narrare, quis pensare; ms unde maestis; ms quoniam maestis.

15 May 2015

"The Dome": a Proto-Ordinariate?

From January 1958 until June 1959, a monthly "Newspaper for Anglican Catholics" was produced and sold; it was called The Dome and had a bright, attractive format. Its agenda was what is sometimes called Anglo-Papalist; but, in line with the attitudes of Fr Fynes Clinton, it was also very sympathetic to Orthodox hierarchs and communities. I propose to give you extracts from it from time to time. But, today, an extract from the Daily Telegraph (foolishly, my scissors, which were only seventeen years old at the time, removed the heading and date: it must be June or July 1959) about its final demise.

"The Vatican has rejected a plan for a 'Transitional Church' to be be recognised by the Holy See, and which might have involved the secession to Rome of many Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity from the Church of England.
"The decision, though charitably made 'for the good of the Universal Church', has killed the hopes of Anglicans who have long worked for corporate, or even partial, reunion with the Roman Catholic Church. Rome has made clear that no 'concessions', such as the plan suggested, can be made.
"The plan, originally drawn up in the United States, was taken to Rome in January by Rev. Frederic Davis, curate at S Francis, Oxhey, Herts.
"There it was discussed with Fr Charles Boyer, the Jesuit scholar, president of the Unitas Association. He acted as an intermediary with the Vatican, which after six months has indicated it is unacceptable. The plan contemplated:
   Recognition or ratifification by Rome of Orders (hitherto declared invalid) of Anglican clergy who joined the 'Transitional Church'.
   In certain cases, a married priesthood.
   An 'English Rite' with at least part of the Mass in English.
   Evensong and Benediction in English.


"It was recognised that the difficulties were formidable. Those accepting the 'concessions' would have to 'go into the wilderness.' Clergy would be relinquishing their livings and, with their congregations, their churches.
"But the sponsors argued that the 'Transitional Church', recognised by Rome, would act as a bridge and would, in the long run, facilitate the conversion of Enland to the Roman Faith. It is likely that this view was not taken by the Roman hierarchy in Britain.
"Fr Davis has resigned his curacy and is joining the Roman Catholic church. The Anglo-Catholic monthly newspaper the Dome, which he founded in January last year, and which had a circulation of about 5,000, is being wound up."

There was an elegant ditty circulating at the time:
"The Dome
has gone to Rome
but Prism 
is still in schism."

(Prism being a lively but non-Papalist journal.)

14 May 2015

Shome Mishtake?

On the occasion of Pope Benedict's Birthday I was looking through ... sentimental old thing that I am ... some photographs in a glossy book which someone gave me very soon after his Inauguration. I was horrified to find a couple of photos of him, walking apparently unprotected, amid a crowd of exuberant young people. He was just about to kiss a baby, holding its cheeks between his hands; his face laughing in genuine pleasure and, in his eyes, that shy but warm and gentle look.

How can this be? We know that babykissing and such business was an innovation by Pope Francis because of all his humility ktl.. The Media have explained that it was how he showed how different he was to the stuffy pompous popes who went before him. These photographs must be forgeries!

Even more confusingly, I have seen a very recent videoclip showing Pope Francis going through the square in the popemobile on a day when it had been raining until a quarter of an hour before. The circumambient Security Men had obviously been given instructions that Babies And Cripples Is Off Today, because none was thrust up at the Pontiff. But ... stay!! the Popemobile has stopped! Somebody is carrying a white thing up to the Pope ... have the Bowels of Pontifical Mercy finally burst open? ...  could it be a baby? ... it would have to be a very small one ... Ah no! It's just someone bringing him a dry skull-cap ...

I suppose there must still have been some moisture in the air. And we old gentlemen do have to look after ourselves.

13 May 2015

"The English Orthodox"

I am glad that Fr Anthony Chadwick is keeping alive a lovely little booklet (I have a 1988 edition) by the late Raymond Winch, called The Canonical Mass of the English Orthodox. This attempts to establish that the form of the Eucharist known to Anglo-Saxon Christians is the canonical entitlement of modern "English Orthodox"; in other words, to be Orthodox you don't have to be Byzantine. (This would seem to be a necessary distinction to make in order to sustain a belief that the collection of Particular Churches collectively and popularly known as "the Orthodox" constitute the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.)

And that Anglo-Saxon Mass is, of course, substantially the Roman Rite as brought to this country by the Augustinian Mission. Winch attempted to establish how this rite should be done; which, of course, is a distinctly broader question than the mere establishment of texts. But you can't celebrate the Eucharist without texts; and Winch's attitude here is surefooted: you wo'n't find any nonsense in him about "correcting" the rite by inserting a Byzantine Epiclesis. But there is one detail where I'm not sure that Winch's conclusion can be sustained.

"... una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N ... communicantes ...". It is commonly held that this use of papa goes back to a time when it did not exclusively mean the Bishop of Rome (or Alexandria!). It refers to the local bishop (of course, in the local Church of Rome, from which this liturgy comes, the local bishop was the Bishop of Rome). So "English Orthodox" clergy should, at that point, just name their own bishop, and not the Bishop of Rome and (also) not their own "Patriarch" or autocephalous Archbishop. Just the one name! And this is ecclesiologically attractive in as far as the local "particular" Church is "The Church".

The problem is that in a very convincing paper by L. Eizenhofer (Sacris Erudiri VIII, 1 (1956), the writer argues that the Memento is originally diaconal and that the logic of the Canon brackets together una cum ... with communicantes ....  (I firmly believe this.) He then deploys texts from Tertullian, Cyprian, Optatus, Augustine, Leo, Felix, Simplicius and Gelasius, to build up the argument that this collocation is designed explicitly to assert the necessity for communion with the Petrine See of S Peter. I quote: "Communicare und communio sind die Worter, um die sich dann fast alles dreht in den Briefen und Traktaten, die die Papste, besonders Gelasius I  (492-496), der auch die Briefe seiner beiden Vorganger Simplicius (468-483) und Felix III (483-492) verfasst hat, gegen das Akacianische Schisma (484-519) schrieben. Da begegnen sie uns sozusagen auf jeder Seite und in jedem Kapitel, oft in vielfacher Wiederholung. Hie communio Acacii, hie communio Sancti Petri. Wer mit solchen Communio halt, die von der romischen Communio ausgeschlossen sind, der ist selbst excommuniziert". (No umlauts ... I dunno how to do them, or, for that matter, accents in French; and I leave it untranslated because I'm nervous about making a howler ... if some benevolent Germanist were to translate it on the thread, out of gratitude I will offer a Mass for his/her intentions.)

If, in the terminology of the Roman Church in those centuries, this passage of the Canon asserts or assumes the necessity of being in communion with Rome, or of Rome as a test of Catholic Communion, there would be a problem about using una cum papa nostro N to name the local bishop, as Winch and others suggest, unless they really are willing to assert that communio with their local bishop is ecclesiologically an essential marker of Catholic Communion.

But then, wouldn't you expect there to be some problem about using a a text crafted in Rome, in an ecclesial context out of communion with the Roman See?

(I would prefer any comments to engage with Eizenhofer's paper rather than with my summarising.)

12 May 2015

Money and Concelebration.

Benedict XIV (1740-1758) concludes his argument that concelebrants are, each of them, true celebrants (pariter concelebrant) by dealing with the question of concelebrants accepting Mass-stipends. This is the acid test. You are stealing from the laity if you accept a Mass-stipend but do not say the Mass for the intention of the donor. So the question is: if a hundred priests concebrate, can a hundred priests accept, each of them, a Mass-stipend for that same Eucharistic celebration? Now ... traddies among you had better hold on tightly to something fixed to the ground, because you are not likely to enjoy what follows ... the answer given by the Sovereign Pontiff is an unambiguous Yes. In other words, each concelebrant has precisely the same sacramental standing as a priest saying his own private Mass. Watch my lips: Each : one : is : saying : Mass.

It is not surprising that, for the next two centuries, manualists concurred with this weighty papal judgement. Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini, had an immense reputation, based equally upon his own erudition and his papal status. In the last expiring months of the Old Rite (which had at that point received only two or three trifling modifications), on March 7 1965, a Rite of Concelebration was promulgated for use with the old rite. In accordance with actual words of the Council, the document was less than whole-hearted in its endorsement of daily Concelebration when all the concelebrants are presbyters, but the rite was intended to be used universally at Ordinations, Consecrations, Abbatial Blessings, in Councils, Synods, and Episcopal meetings, and at both Masses on Maundy Thursday.

As far as Maundy Thursday Concelebration is concerned, this is something which had not lost its last foothold in the Latin Church until our own time. The Rite of Lyons, which survived until the Council, provided that on that one day six presbyters had the right to sit with the Archbishop and concelebrate (honor sedendi et offerendi). This was but the last survival of a widespread practice of such concelebration in French cathedrals during the Counter-Reformation period.

So those 1965 provisions seem to me a thoroughly 'organic' liturgical development. They seem to me to draw, not as revolutionary liturgical subversives so often and so cheerfully do, upon dubious, impobable, and unedifying reconstructions of "what the Early Church did", but upon a broad consideration of the Latin Church's whole liturgical tradition; upon the Magisterium, and especially (when the meaning of the Roman Rite is concerned) that of Roman Pontiffs; and upon the consensus of reliable manualists.They seem to me to rest on the consistent and reiterated teaching of Popes and Doctors over the last millennium. They are not some load of rubbish dreamed up by archbishop Bugnini's generation.

And (paragraph 10) they concur with the judgement on Mass-stipends of Benedict XIV and those who followed him: Singuli concelebrantes stipendium legitime percipere possunt ad normam iuris.

The mature and settled inheritance, the auctoritas, of the Latin Church prescribes that, normally, each presbyter should celebrate ('presidentially') daily, and do so privately if he is not obliged to serve a pastoral need. This needs to be upheld and, where necessary, restored.

But the notion which one sometimes meets among traditionalists who have not informed themselves of the facts, that any form of concelebration is a treacherous sell-out to the 'Spirit of Vatican II', contradicts the traditions of the Latin Churches and the Magisterium of Popes Innocent III  and Benedict XIV and the considered judgement of S Thomas Aquinas ... and a lot of Counter-Reformation manualists.

11 May 2015


I have a number of academic and other matters on which I must spend some time.

I will continue, Deo volente, to make a daily comment on this blog; but I do not think I shall have much time to check through comments. Nor shall I be able to deal individually with a lot of the greatly increasing number of emails I receive.

I apologise, therefore, for what is likely to seem a discourtesy. I am not sure when I can undertake to return to giving my computer the amount of attention it has been getting for the last year or two; I hope soon.

A week or ten days, perhaps? I will let you know.

Benedict XIV on Concelebration

Innocent III (Pope 1198-1216) made his views on concelebration clear enough; so did S Thomas (see earlier posts). But the former, it could be argued (Durandus did), was writing as a private theologian; and as for the latter, despite his eminence, Cajetan disagreed with him.

Benedict XIV (Pope 1740-1758), undoubtedly one of the half-dozen most erudite men ever to grace the Cathedra Petri, left nothing to chance. As well as in his monumental work de Sacrosancto Missae Sacrificio (Liber III caput xvi), he made his teaching about Concelebration very clear in two magisterial documents, the encyclicals Demandatam (12 December 1743; paragraphs 9-10) and Allatae (26 July 1755; paragraph 38).

The basis of the Sovereign Pontiff's teaching is his conviction that the Eastern and Western churches are at one in this matter so that the practice of the Byzantine East can throw definitive light on the significance of our Latin practice: "It was once a rite common to the Western and Eastern Church equally, that presbyters should offer the Sacrifice of the Mass together with the bishop [copious references follow] ... at the present moment the Rite of Concelebration has grown obsolete in the Western Church, except in the Ordination of Priests which the bishop performs, and in the Consecration of Bishops, which is carried out by a bishop with two other bishops assisting".

He points out that the obsolescence of Concelebration in other circumstances in the West is comparatively recent (temporibus haud ita ab aetate nostra remotis), and that previously the 'disciplina Ecclesiae Occidentalis' demanded (postulabat) that on major solemnities, when a bishop was celebrating, presbyters should celebrate together with (una cum) the bishop - and the words of Innocent III are one of a number of exempla that he draws in to support the assertion. Not that he believes Concelebration is confined to Concelebration cum episcopo. He had to dealing with a request from Byzantines who desired to celebrate the Eucharist daily but who lacked enough altars to do so; Byzantine custom insists that every Eucharist be celebrated on a 'fasting' altar. He categorically refuses them permission to celebrate twice on the same altar and advises them instead to concelebrate "with a bishop or with another priest".

He insists that concelebrants should vest as celebrants and utter the words of Consecration "just as if they were saying Mass on their own [perinde ac si sacrosanctum sacrificium singulatim conficerent]". Benedict denies the wriggle-argument that such priests are merely saying the Words of Consecration "materialiter et recitative", insisting that they utter them "significative". They are true celebrants, albeit secondary ones (etsi secundarii, tamen vere celebrantes).

I do not believe that a laudable desire to shape ones liturgical praxis by the authentic customs of the Roman Liturgy requires that a priest should decline to concelebrate the Maundy Thursday Masses with his Bishop and Presbyterium.

More later.

10 May 2015

S Thomas on Concelebration

S Thomas Aquinas, as his custom was, covers pretty well most of the problems of late C20 Christianity ... Ordination of women; Concelebration ... and does so in a neat formulaic way. First, he crisply formulates an erroneous opinion; then disposes of it with Respondeo.

So first he states a propositio sometimes advanced in neo-traditionalist circles: That many priests cannot consecrate one and the same Host. He disposes of this - he was a good Catholic - by pointing to what the Church does. "According to the custom of a number of Churches the newly ordained concelebrate". The problem of rogue concelebrants Jumping The Gun he disposes of in exactly the same way as Pope Innocent III (see previous post) had done: "And it is not true that by this the consecration over the same Host is doubled; since, as Innocent III says, the intention of all must be referred (ferri) to the same instant of Consecration".

Having disposed of that little technical difficulty, he justifies the practice in itself: "Since a priest does not consecrate except in the persona of Christ, and the many are one in Christ, therefore it does not matter whether this Sacrament is consecrated through one or through many".

There is no doubt that the practice of Concelebration has become unseemly since the Council. Those of us who are hermeneutic-of-continuity traditionalists will do well to rethink the way we use Concelebration. But the fashion in some circles of ridiculing all use of Concelebration, and of denying that what the newly ordained do with their Bishop really is true Concelebration, is ill-informed and gives 'traditionalism' a bad name. We must avoid the temptation (as we struggle to set Tradition back upon her pedestal) to make 'Tradition' up ourselves; and to forget that the lady has many things new and old in her treasury.

Innocent III was a Pope, and a learned one, and as Bishop of Rome was entitled authoritatively to interpret the practice of his own Church. And S Thomas Aquinas was no mean Doctor. Not that the story ends with them.

Next, Benedict XIV.

9 May 2015

Pope Innocent III on Concelebration

For a number of years, before I came to believe that Concelebration should only be done rarely and under the presidency of one's bishop, I concelebrated each morning with my colleagues (except on those mornings when I said a Latin Mass in a different Chapel with the boys and masters who liked that sort of thing). I was disconcerted by a concelebrating colleague who had a habit of edging his voice ahead of mine even when I was Principal Celebrant. Why should he, I fretted, snatch the Mass from me by consecrating ahead of me and leaving me without the substances of bread and wine to consecrate myself? So I developed a habit of getting a good head of breath earlier in the Institution Narrative so that I could keep in sync with him. I needn't have bothered. A Pope sorted this problem out for me 800 years ago.

Innocent III (1198-1216) takes it for granted that "from time to time many priests concelebrate" and adds "the Cardinal Presbyters of Rome have been accustomed to stand around the the Pontiff and to consecrate together with him" - a pretty blunt and authoritative indication from the Bishop of Rome as to the meaning of the Rites of his own Church. What concerns him is this very question of what happens if they don't keep their voices together at the words of Consecration. "Is the one who first pronounces the words the only one who confects the Sacrament?" His answer to this is that "Whether the priests utter them before or after, their intention must be referred to the instant at which the Bishop says them, with whom principally they are concelebrating, and then all consecrate and confect at the same time".

Some modern 'traditionalists' believe that all Concelebration is wrong.  Innocent III thought differently.

I wonder if S Thomas Aquinas agrees with him? I'll answer that question next.

7 May 2015

A plea for litanies

I expect a number of clergy did what I did on April 25: said the Litany privately after Lauds. And we have the Rogation Days coming up next week, inviting us again to revisit the Litany (is it very unreconstructed-Anglican to use the word in the singular, or should I papalise myself and always say "Litanies"?). But perhaps an overview would be useful.

Perhaps I should make clear that I am referring to the Litany; what is sometimes called the Litany of the Saints. 

The use of the Litany is a plea for Divine Mercy (so should the Holy Father have mentioned the suitability of litanies during his Jubilee Year?). The texts of the Rogation Mass suggest that, rather like the Gesima Sundays, these days upon which the Litany has commonly been sung constitute a cry for help in times of affliction. But how often do we so use it? Might not the modern Catholic be more likely to turn to the Rosary? Corporately, might we offer somebody, like the Holy Father, a spiritual bouquet of Rosaries? Heaven knows, I have nothing against the Rosary. How could anyone? But the Litany is the great, majestic, formal supplication of the Western Church. Especially in times of trial.

It is also used when we are engaged upon some great Action. Hence, truncated forms of the Litany will have been heard by most Catholics on Holy Saturday, as Holy Mother Church prepares to nurture a new Brood of neophytes. It will have been heard by many at Ordinations and Consecrations, as new clergy receive the Church's most solemn commission. Those who have watched papal inaugurations will have heard it. But it rarely gets a look-in outside these contexts.

The spirit behind the use of the Litany as the solemn, stately, corporate Entreaty of an afflicted Church is particularly emphasised by its use at the Quarant' ore: the Forty Hours devotion before the most Holy Sacrament exposed. It is easy to think of this magnificent devotion as an expression of wonder at the Presence among us of our Eucharistic Lord, but this is not how the Church has seen it (what follows is plagiarised from an attractive little CTS booklet of 1949, edited by an Oratorian called Fr J R McKee).

The Forty Hours seems to have started in the 1530s, when the Church was afflicted by heretics within and Islam without. In 1539 Pope Paul III, granting indulgences to those partaking, made clear that its purpose was "to appease the anger of God, provoked by the offences of Christians, and in order to bring to naught the efforts and machinations of the Turks, who are pressing forward to the destruction of Christendom". In 1592, Pope Clement VIII wrote as follows: "Pray for the Holy Catholic Church, that the mists of error may be scattered and the truth of the one Faith be diffused throughout the world. Pray that sinners ... may be saved from drowning by the plank of Penance. Pray for the peace and unity of kings and of all Christians ... Pray that the enemies of our Faith, the dreaded Turks, who, in the heat of their presumptuous fury, threaten slavery and devastation to all Christendom, may be crushed by the right hand of the Almighty. Pray, lastly, for ourselves ...". [It is not easy to be be sure that our needs have changed much!]

And the Quarant' ore includes, on its first and third (final) day, the solemn singing of the Litany before the Blessed Sacrament exposed.

At various times and places, the Litany was accompanied by such penitential endeavours as fasting and abstinence; but not recently. The only relevant indulgence I can find in the Encheiridion is a partial one for anybody reciting any of the approved litanies (and, of course, those taking part in a Quarant' ore can acquire the plenary indulgences obtainable suetis condicionibus for spending half an hour in eucharistic adoration or taking part in a Eucharistic Procession). A rather ungenerous provision, don't you think, for which we can blame the post-conciliar cull (Pius XI had attached to the Litany a plenary indulgence semel in mense). The Hymnos Akathistos gets a plenary, and so it jolly well should; why not the Litany??

Perhaps, during the Jubilee year ...

Lords Spiritual

Election day ... one recalls the old bewhiskered jokes: "Sunshine until 5.00 p.m., followed by torrential rain, would be worth 30 marginals to the Conservative Party." The Irish maxim: "Vote early, Vote often". More contributions?

A friend raises the question of Mitred Abbots in our House of Lords. The Abbey of Ampleforth convinced the College of Heralds that it was the lawful successor body of Westminster (the last survivor of the Marian community under Abbot Feckenham having formally conveyed the rights of his House to an exiled English Benedictine community) and therefore entitled to use its Arms. The House of Lords traditionally had much experience of calling titles which had been dormant for centuries out of their dormancy. Could it reinstate Westminster/Ampleforth? What is the difference between Dormancy and Abeyance? Were the mitred Abbots ever legislated out of Parliament, or was it simply assumed that, since after 1559 there weren't any, they need not be noticed in statutes? I bet somebody out there knows.

6 May 2015


I provide a thread for a friend to raise some interesting questions.

5 May 2015


There is a myth which is endlessly repeated ... I groan every time I read it ... about the liturgical reforms of S Pius V. It goes like this:

(1) He wished to standardise and centralise. So he ordered everybody to use his new edition of the Roman Missal (but he did permit those with rites more than 200 years old to keep them).

This is pretty well the opposite of what his legislation ordered. He:

(2) Ordered those with such old rites to keep them. But, if they positively wanted to adopt his new edition instead, he permitted them to adopt it AS LONG AS THE BISHOP AND THE UNANIMOUS CHAPTER WERE IN AGREEMENT.

If you don't want to believe me, I suggest you read the actual TEXT of Quo primum yourself and find out. DO NOT READ SOMEBODY'S SUMMARY OF THE BULL, BECAUSE THAT WILL (almost certainly) JUST TELL YOU THE MYTH.

If you want more detail, with a fuller account of the liturgical context in the middle years of the sixteenth century, you will find a much longer explanation on my blog, 6 December 2014.

I sha'n't enable comments which show no signs of the writer having read the bull or of reading my piece from last December and simply splutter at me; or disdainful comments which tell me that I'm just splitting hairs. If you can't see the immensely profound difference between (1) and (2), it's not worth having a discussion.

4 May 2015

Liberation Theology (2)

(The continuation of the piece which was begun on May Day.)
Briefly, I will single out just one or two of the differences between the '1984' and the '1986' documents. Liberation Theology made much of the concept of institutionalised Sin. Sin, many Liberationists argued, should not be seen as an individual delict committed by an individual, but something embedded in the structures of societies; particularly in those of exploitative capitalist societies. Against this view, '1984' argued that the war against Sin was primarily to be found in the internal conversion of the individual. But '1986' saw the work for internal conversions and the improvement of structures as simultaneous. And, two years later in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, S John Paul wrote: "The principal obstacle to be overcome on the way to authentic liberation is Sin and the structures produced by Sin as it multiplies and spreads".

'1984' deplored any use of Marxist analysis; '1986' did not repeat this grumble. Indeed, some of the writings of the early Marx (Grundrisse) about Alienation and Reification might arguably be illuminating to a Catholic thinker; and some of the anthropological writings of Guevara on the New (Socialist) Man would bear interesting comparison with S Paul's anthropology if Guevara's views were not so sadly limited (I might go so far as to say vitiated) by his simplistic unawareness of the existence and nature of Original Sin.

'1986' actually used the controversial phrase "Option for the Poor"; because the man who affirms poverty is worth more for what he is than for what he has; so that the Option "excludes nobody". And S John Paul II used the phrase with approval in his Redemptoris Mater of 1987.

Marxist ethics notoriously have their roots in the dogma of the Primacy of Praxis. This found expression among the Comunidades de base of Latin America, often led by their revolutionary clergy. There had therefore been natural suspicion in the Church of these Base Communities, arising from their behaviour and the writings of some of their proponents; but '1986' actually favoured them as long as (unlike those American LCWR nuns) they did not "go beyond" Christ and His Church.

The Church, the World, and Latin America, have come a long way since the 1980s. But it is still, I understand, true that the gap between rich and poor in many places has widened rather than narrowed. Plutocratic self-interest still uses its wealth to attempt to bully 'Third World' countries into enforcing abortion and contraception, on the wholly mendacious grounds that the planet cannot sustain a growing population. We abort a large percentage of our own population and then wonder, firstly, why there seems to be a strange vacuum in our labour market which attracts foreigners to come and fill it; and, secondly, how an aging population profile can possibly be supported by a diminishing working population. Some 'Green' movements seem to me to inherit the ideologies of the Nazi, American, and Scandinavian 'Eugenics' and 'Racial Hygiene' movements of the 1930s; the  racism is now covert rather than overt but the leopard's spots have in fact changed very little: the cry is still essentially that Subhumans Breed Too Much. And still we find it easier to try to work out how to stop them getting to Lampedousa than to take much interest in the structural causes of demographic instability.

Is there not a vacuum here for the Teaching Authority of the Church to re-enter; in which to establish a new bridgehead? Will the imminent 'Encyclical on the Environment' go any way to doing so? Valde optandum. I will be most disappointed if it just goes on about global warming and rain-forests. Vitally important here is the phrase 'human ecology', first used by S John Paul but memorably deployed by the august emeritus pontiff Benedict XVI: "The human being will be capable of respecting other creatures only if he keeps the full meaning of life in his own heart. Otherwise he will come to despise himself and his surroundings, and to disrespect the environment, the creation, in which he lives. For this reason, the first ecology to be defended is human ecology. This is to say, that, without a clear defence of human life from conception until natural death, without a defence of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, without an authentic defence of those excluded and marginalised by Society ... we will never be able to speak of authentic protection of the environment". Just as goodness cannot authentically come from an evil and corrupted individual heart, so authentic 'environmentalism' cannot come from an evil and corrupted human society. A Church which makes her peace with those who promote abortion and disordered sexual acts (whether heterosexual or homosexual) on the grounds that 'we may disagree about some things but we can co-operate because we find common ground with regard to the ozone layer', will be a Church which has been deceived by the Evil One.

I am, incidentally, very pleased that the Pope is going to visit Cuba, dutifully following in the footsteps of his august predecessor. I was intrigued by the news that Pope Benedict, when he met Fidel Castro, discussed Liturgy with him ... it would be so beautiful if this papal visit were to lead to the aged revolutionary returning to the Sacraments! I bet he would join the Latin Mass Society.

We are told that, immediately after his Election, our beloved Holy Father had this message whispered into his ear by a close friend among the Patres purpurati, Cardinal Hummes: Do not forget the Poor. I cannot help wondering if the priorities of this Pontificate have been subverted by noisy Northern European cardinals who belabour the papal ear with demands generated among the comfortable (if sexually incontinent) Kirchensteuer (Church Tax) paying congregations who fund them.

Such people ... either the bishops or the tax-payers concerned ... are not exactly what Holy Scripture means when it talks about hoi ptokhoi toi pneumati, "the Poor".

3 May 2015

Those May festivals again

I have noticed in the Angelus Press ORDO that the Masses of the Invention of the Holy Cross (May 3), S John before the Latin Gate (May 6), and the Apparition of S Michael (May 8), may be said as IV class festal Masses because they are included by the 1962 Missal in its Appendix. I presume this information is accurate, and commend it to those whom it may concern. (Let's have no pedantry here: any pick-axe to break the pack-ice is to grabbed with both hands.)

This Appendix appears to have some parallelism with the provision by the 'Gregorian' Sacramentary of the texts which follow the Praefatiuncula Hucusque ( ... illa collegimus, in quibus, cui animo sedent, potest repperire)! Similarly, after S Pius X had shifted onto fixed days of the month all those festivals which earlier devotional habits had plonked onto fixed Sundays, ORDOs continued to offer some relief from this now-fashionable austerity: "Hodie celebrari potest unica Missa Sanctissimi Nominis Mariae", or even "Hodie celebrari possunt omnes Missae (praeter Conventualem) Sacratissimi Rosarii BMV" (check this out in your St Lawrence Press ORDO). It is a shame that the merciless, ruthless, singleminded revisers of the period Pius XII-Paul VI were so sure of themselves and had so little humanity, so little respect for the inculturated pieties and affections of ordinary clerics and laics. What an unprecedented rupure they did insist upon!

I do not possess a copy of the 1962 Missal; I would be genuinely grateful if readers who do have one could keep me posted about little matters of interest, such as this Appendix, which I might have missed.

2 May 2015

S Athanasius and his mouth

Doctors of the Church commonly, both in the Novus (see, e.g., S Athanasius) and Vetus Masses, have an Introit which begins In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os eius et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae ... in the Latin, but, according to the New ICEL translation, In the midst of the Church he opened his mouth, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom ...

I am worried by the implied translation of eius. In Latin there are two words for his. We use suum when 'his' refers ('reflexive') back to the subject of the verb (and, in effect, means 'his own'). We use eius when 'his' does not refer back to the subject of the verb. So 'his' cannot refer back to 'he'. The character who 'opened' did not open his own mouth. If the Latin had meant to say 'he opened his [own] mouth', the word would have to be suum.

The subject both of 'opened' and of 'filled' has therefore to be Dominus, the Lord; even though it comes a bit late in the Latin (Latin word order is more flexible than English). So the introit means In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth and filled him with the spirit of wisdom ... .  Divine initiative ... prevenient grace ...

"But" - you cry - "probably Fr H is getting this wrong. Excessive pedanticism, combined with their innate arrogance, is the reason why all right-thinking people hate, loath, and detest all classicists so much".

You are probably right about most of that, but I have not got this little matter wrong. Try the Septuagint, where the subject of the sentence is in fact Divine Wisdom; she is the subject of every verb in the relevant passage (Ecclesiasticus 15:1-5). In the Neo-Vulgate, the same is true. And in the Authorised Version and the RSV. And, in the 1949 Burns Oates Latin-English Missal, Mgr Ronald Knox, no mean classicist, no mean biblicist, translates this introit The Lord moved him to speak before the assembled people, filling him with the spirit of wisdom ...

It's an interesting passage. Close examination will reveal to you that the translations I have listed have the verb in the future; and that one line preserved in the Vulgate is missing elsewhere. Hebrew tenses don't work like Indo-European tenses; and the Vulgate sometimes preserves a better text than other versions - its variant readings are always worth taking seriously. (There must be someone out there who would enjoy getting into the Vetus Latina ... and there are some Hebrew fragments of Sirach ...)

The introduction to the Neo-Vulgate wisely expresses doubt whether an "original text" of this book, 'The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach', otherwise known as 'Ecclesiasticus'** [not to be confused with Ecclesiastes], ever was or could be recoverable; an agnosticism with which I would like to see more editors, both of sacred and of profane texts, handling their documents. Catholics, free from the fetiches of textual fundamentalism, have less need to be worried by this than do Westcotts and Horts and the 'modern' scholarship of the twentieth century.

** If the bible on your desk doesn't have this book in it, under either name, it means you are using a Protestant bible. Get a Catholic one!

1 May 2015

Liberation Theology (1)

May Day ... and, in the pre-Pius XII rite, the churches were decked out in red to celebrate the Holy Apostles Ss Philip and James. In the old Breviary, (si tunc temporis non legitur de Epistula B Iacobi) the first sixteen verses of the Letter of James are today read in the First Nocturn of Mattins*; a passage which Archbishop Cranmer transferred to be be the Epistle of the Mass; " ... so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways". The Breviary has this entire Epistle, with its lucid (Amos-like) teaching about the Righteous Poor and the Righteousness-despising Rich, read during the week after Easter IV; starting, therefore, this year, on Sunday next. [The Church of Ireland, subdividing Jameses, now adopts October 23, following Byzantium, for the 'Brother of the Lord'].

Now ... just suppose that S Joseph the opifex had always been commemorated on May 1; imagine that Paul VI had then replaced him with the Blood of the Martyred Apostles and the anti-plutocratic theology of S James; Catholics of a certain tendency would have grabbed at this as evidence that the poor Pontiff was a secret Marxist!

The Church's attitude to Liberation Theology is still fossilised in the 1980s. I believe it should be unfossilised. I think our present and much loved Holy Father is just the man to do it ... but I'll come back to him in the second half of this.

It is commonly held that the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith condemned Liberation Theology in the 1980s; and that this is all that needs to be said. That is a travesty of the truth. There were in fact two documents, with only a couple of years between them, and, a couple of years after that, a significant Encyclical by S John Paul II ('1984', '1986', '1988')

'1984' was, indeed, negative. We must remember that the period beteeen 1960 and 1984 came during the polarised situation of the Cold War; of blacks and whites. It was also a time when there were vivid memories of clergymen such as Fr Camillo Torres, the clerical Che Guevara, who left Altar, Breviary, and Rosary behind him and died fighting as a guerilla. There were indeed clergy who drew their inspiration from Marx rather than from the Magisterium or the Bible, and who saw themselves as commissioned to lead their congregations in cathartic wars of political liberation. During this period, "The  Historical Jesus", that protean individual, was, as represented by Professor Sammy Brandon, a Freedom Fighter. And there was a simplistic (and profoundly erroneous) assumption that Scriptural references to "the Poor" related solely to the economically disadvantaged per se. In such a situation, it would have been a dereliction of duty if the Congregation had not laid down clear markers. And, in 1984, it did so. But that was not the end of its interest.
To be continued.

*FOOTNOTE  In the very nice 1946 Burns Oates Breviary which I use, in lectio ii, the print-setter suffered parablepsis so that his eye slipped from (exaltatione) sua to (humilitate) sua, missing out the intervening words, thus making it the poor man rather than the rich who sicut flos foeni transibit!