30 November 2017

S Andrew

I normally celebrate this great feast by reminding you of the Reconciliation of England by Cardinal Pole in 1554 and the taking of Durham by the Northern Rebels temp Bloody Bess, which both happened on this day. And the popularity of S Andrew in old English Church dedications, because of the influence of the Gregorian (and hence andreaphile) liturgical texts brought to England by the Augustinian Mission; and I lament the fact that the Novus dating of Christus Rex inhibits celebration of a Sunday External Solemnity of the Apostle in places where he is Patron.

But this year, an Anglican oddity.

The old Roman Collect for today, a most elegant composition, prayed that S Andrew might be "a perpetual intercessor for us in thy sight". Cranmer had by 1549 moved beyond talk of saintly intercession; so he replaced this collect with
Almightie God, which hast geuen such grace to thy Apostle saynct Andrew, that he counted the sharp and painful death of the crosse to be an high honour, and a great glory; Graunt us to take and esteme all troubles and adversities which shal come unto us for thy sake, as things proffytable for us toward the obtaining of euerlasting life.
[Why "thy Apostle" rather than "thine Apostle" when we later have "an high honour"?]

Just a couple of years later, he replaced this with the current Anglican collect which is based upon the ready obedience of S Andrew in following the Lord's call.

Here is my take on this. When our thinking radically develops ... when conceptually we make a big jump ... not every part of our previously held set of assumptions changes instantly and automatically. Some areas lag behind and need subsequently to catch up and to be made consistent with the new structure.

In 1549, Cranmer had put behind him the idea of asking God for a share in the intercessions of the Saints; but the full narrowness of the Protestant preoccupation with sola scriptura was dawdling behind a little in his mind. And so the hagiographical account of S Andrew's martyrdom was still part of its furniture and informed the collect.

By the way: the printed text of the 1549 BCP offers quite a number of examples of hasty composition.

[Could there also be just a weeny hint of merit in the second half of the 1549 collect?]. 


29 November 2017

Oh dear. They want some more Liturgy Wars. UPDATE

The liturgical destroyers within the Church Militant ... at least, the Anglophone among them ... have maintained a relentless detestation of the current English translation of the Roman Rite. What they have campaigned for is the 1998 feminist draft translation; which was thrown out by Rome (unauthorised, unpublished) because ... it was feminist.

[It also, in accordance with the fashion of the day, added new brilliantly clever English euchological confections as 'alternatives' to the translated Latin texts.] 

These grieving groups were given new hope recently by the motu proprio Magnum principium. They claimed that this document reopened the entire question of English Liturgy, and gave them grounds to hope that they could burn all the current English liturgical books, and spend large amounts of parochial money buying new ones. Back to 1998!! [They failed to mention that Magnum principium gives no permission to anybody to add their own clever compositions to the texts translated from the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.]

The recent meeting of the CBCEW revealed that the CDW had been asked whether this claim was right; and had replied that Magnum principium was not retroactive. No to 1998!!!! Sad days for Tablet readers! Disaster for ACTA!!

A secretary to the Conference announced this to the Press in these words: "There has been a significant amount of information and correspondence received about the 1998 translation of the Missal, unfortunately Magnum Principium does not allow us to go back to that [1998] translation of the Missal; we have the 2010 translation of the Missal which is our standard edition now and we are looking forward to the translation of the new liturgical books".*

Yes ... he said "unfortunately".

Well, we all misspeak. My wife tells me that I do it most of the time. What a shame the clergyman concerned isn't lucky enough to have a wife to keep him on the straight and narrow. He looks and sounds the sort of thoroughly pleasant and sensible bloke that any girl would be glad to have. I'm sure all the poor chap really meant was a kindly "I'm sorry to have to tell the Tablet and ACTA that the answer to their dearest hopes is No".


On the other hand, we are surely entitled occasionally to wonder whether such sweet little slips might possibly sometimes be revealing. One can never be totally sure that one isn't being given a peep into the subconscious assumptions of the bureaucrats who serve Episcopal Conferences throughout the world. 

I remain convinced that Joseph Ratzinger, and more recently Gerhard Mueller, were right to emphasise the very strictly limited competences of Episcopal Conferences and the dangers lurking in their already overpowerful bureaucracies. In my humble opinion, those two Eminences are not often wrong about anything. 

And if they are, my own settled preference is generally to accompany them in their edifying errors.

*UPDATE: Fr Thomas tells me that "The use of the word "unfortunately" was meant not in respect of the bishops not being able to go back to the 1998 translation, but in the fact that the desire of the correspondents with me would not be met. The context therefore of the "unfortunately" is that it is linked to the misinterpretation of the motu proprio and those who had wanted the return to the 1998 translation of the Missal." I am glad to present this clarification to readers, and to have added to my blog posting a fuller citation (supra) of Father's words.

28 November 2017

Eric Kemp and the purpose of the Ordinariate in a Bergoglian Church


Today is the Year's Mind of the Right Reverend the Father in God Eric Waldram Kemp, sometime Lord Bishop of Chichester.

Memories crowd in: of the day when, by an act of quasi-papal primacy (immediate and ordinary and episcopal, and so dead in line with Vatican I), George Carey sent a Guildford suffragan clutching a Primatial Commission in his hot little hands to "ordain" women for the Diocese of Chichester. On that potentially depressing day Eric came to us at Lancing - he felt so at home singing Pontifical High Mass in Lancing Chapel - and then spent the rest of the day having lunch with us; his face growing redder and redder as the gin ... and the wine ... flowed, and we drowned our sorrows in the traditional Anglo-Catholic way. Memories also of the sermons he preached when Lancing had a head master, formerly head of Rugby, who did not share our foundational Catholicism. Somehow, Eric always seemed to be able to work into his homilies a scathing reference to "the ideas sometimes associated with the name of Thomas Arnold head master of Rugby". It was a commonplace that the Chichester diocese, during his pontificate, was the Indian Summer of the C of E; it was, certainly, of the 'Catholic Movement'. After he retired, the secret police went round the diocese gathering evidence of liturgical 'illegalities', and the rumour was that a man was going to be put in with a clear remit to "bring it back into the Church of England". It is certainly true that under his successor, women began to receive the diocesan license to officiate; and the Roman Rite, for the first time since 1975, began to be persecuted.

Eric had exactly what Manning found so reprehensible in Newman; the old Anglican Oxford Literary Patristic tone. It was a style of theological Anglican Catholicism which read and remembered; which argued and did Divinity in accordance with the rules of evidence and of logic; which was deeply marked by the continuities of the Anglican Catholic tradition and its rootedness in parish church as well as in Cathedral and in library; what Archbishop Michael Ramsey had beautifully called Divinity done within the sound of Church bells. But ...

Sadly, Eric was a man out of his age. His gentle gifts of erudition and rational discourse were naked before the mechanised onslaught of the panzer divisions of Liberalism and Feminism ... he was himself no Guderian; not even a Montgomery. It was under Eric's leadership of the 'Catholic Movement' that, uneasily, we gradually became aware that we were winning every battle, triumphing hands-down in every argument, but unmistakably losing the war. It took some time to realise it, but eventually we identified the great strengths our enemies possessed and which we totally lacked. Their idea of 'discussion' or 'dialogue' meant them shouting abuse until their foes fell silent. They demanded that we 'hear their experience' purely as a preliminary to getting out their cudgels. They would never engage in rational argument because, happy pantomaths, they already knew every answer. They had made bullying into a fine art. To disagree with them was but to manifest one's own psychological problems - one's phobias and hang-ups and prejudices. What defences had we, or the methods by which Divinity had hitherto been done on the banks of the Isis or even of the Cam, against this ruthless and Stalinist totalitarianism and its Dahlek-like readiness to ex-ter-min-ate?

Only God knows if the Ordinariate project will work out in the long term. I pray that it will. If it does, this will be the best possible memorial to Eric: to the old Oxford (and Cambridge and Durham) Patristic Tone - the Divinity of Pusey and Keble and Liddon and Neale and Dix and Kirk and Jalland and Lewis and Sayers and Kemp and Carpenter and Farrer and Mascall and Couratin and Ratcliff and Willis and Chadwick and Cross and Kilpatrick - as a living and thriving reality, vigorous in its defence of orthodoxy, fruit of a broad and deep and generous culture, but now, happily, transplanted into a broader Christendom.

And the Anglican Catholic Patrimony has been transplanted, surely, for the good of all Catholic Christians. Papa Ratzinger replanted us within Christ's Catholic Church Militant here in Earth so that we can share and proclaim our experience. So that we can tell our fellow Catholics: "If you go down that path, we can explain to you here and now exactly where you will end up. We can show you the map. We have already visited the future ... the future to which Bergoglianism beckons the Catholic Church ... and, believe us, it does not work."

27 November 2017

The Miraculous medal and the Anglican Patrimony

I wrote this in 2010; I reprint it, together with its admirable thread.

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

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

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

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

26 November 2017

"They have uncrowned Him" (5)

In practical terms, the difference between the new teaching of Dignitatis humanae, and the previous doctrine, is not great; it is so technical that those who can live without fine distinctions can certainly live without considering this fine distinction! Because, in practice, the settled principle of the Church was that states may legislate for religious liberty for everybody and are not obliged always to maintain laws oppressive to non-Catholic minorities. (I was interested to discover, at Avignon in the Papal States, a very fine synagogue built there when the French Kingdom, just across the Rhone, discouraged Jewish worship but the Papacy allowed it; and B Pius IX boasted to Mgr Dupanloup that Rome itself contained a Synagogue and a 'Protestant Temple'). The only disagreement concerns the theological principle upon which this freedom to pass laws guaranteeing religious liberty is based. We are not discussing whether a rigorously Catholic Parliament at Westminster would pass a law to prevent Methodists from expanding their over-packed chapels or whether a devoutly Catholic James XIV would feel obliged to Revoke whatever may be the British equivalent of the Edict of Nantes! S Bartholomew's Day need hold no terrors for our few surviving Presbyterians!

The 'fine distinction' is this. The Council declared that "the human person has a right to religious freedom". It went on to declare that "the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person". But the earlier Magisterium taught that the State - if it were a Catholic State - should "protect the citizens against the seductions of error, in order to keep the City in the unity of faith, which is the supreme good", and "may regulate and moderate the public manifestations of other cults and defend its citizens against the spreading of false doctrines which, in the judgement of the Church, put their eternal salvation at risk". This teaching (I am quoting, incidentally, from the curial draft which was put before Vatican II but discarded) went on, however, to say that, because of  Christian charity and prudence, a desire to draw dissidents to the Church by kindness, to avoid scandals or civil wars, to obtain civil cooperation and peaceful coexistence, "a just tolerance, even sanctioned by laws, can, according to the circumstances, be imposed".

In other words, non-Catholics in a Catholic state may and perhaps should for good reasons be granted an immunity from coercion. It is not, as the Council asserts, a natural right founded in the dignity of the human person.

There are clever ways round this problem. Professor Thomas Pink argued that the earlier Magisterium did not in fact assign to the State the right to limit liberty; it took the view that the Church has her rights over those who through baptism are her subjects, so that, if the State did coerce, it was acting on behalf of the Church. In other words, within the assumptions of the Christendom State, which we considered in my first piece, the boundaries between Church and State are coterminous (except, habitually, for the Jews) and the problem of Religious Liberty arises only as this unity dissolves, gradually in the early modern period and catastrophically in the Age of Revolutions.

Another factor which should not be forgotten is that the Council admitted that Scripture provides no basis for novel teaching. Indeed it does not: the entire Old Testament is a consistent assertion of the corporate Judaism State, with nation and cult coterminous. This admission perhaps offers a way ahead. Here we have one of the many respects in which the life of the people of Israel before the Christian era, and belief in the Christendom State, are in close agreement. We have much to learn from our Hebrew inheritance. The integration of Scripture into this dialogue constitutes another piece of unfinished Conciliar business.

Furthermore, the curial draft (which Mgr Lefebvre helpfully provides at the end of his book) itself asserted that "the civil Authority is not permitted in any way to compel consciences to accept the faith revealed by God. Indeed the faith is essentially free and cannot be the object of any constraint." This is not quite the same as to say that the right to religious freedom has its foundations in the dignity of the human person, but are not the two positions within reach of each other?

What must  be accepted is the Right of Christ to rule and the unlawfulness of secular legislation which contradicts his Law. Legislation against the will of God is legislation which the Christian is not simply not bound to obey; it is something which he is obliged to disobey. Christ is King and, as S Paul told the Philippians, our politeuma is from above. It will become all the more important to teach this and to preach it, as the social and legal framework of secular society becomes ever more, year by year, a grotesque and Diabolical inversion and parody of the Civitas Dei. Daily, they uncrown him. Thank God for every archbishop or bishop who has bravely made this point, for every priestly or lay society which has preached Christ as King.

CONCLUSIONS
(1) There can be no doubt that the newer elements in Dignitatis humanae are embodied in a Conciliar document ratified by the Roman Pontiff (and, according to his biographer, signed by Archbishop Lefebvre together with an overwhelming majority of the Fathers). But those who promote this teaching will be performing a suppressio veri deserving of grave censure if they fail to state, as the Council did, the abiding authority of the previously established teaching. Because:
(2) The same Council with the same authority reasserted the teaching of the previous Magisterium, without any qualification. Thus any suggestion that people, such as Mgr Lefebvre's followers, who continue to lay great emphasis upon the teaching of the previous Magisterium, are opposing the Magisterium of the Council and of the post-Conciliar Church, would itself be a clear denial of the Council's authority and would seem to me to merit a formal Magisterial correction.

This is the context within which I commend Mgr Lefebvre's book* (although, to be honest, not quite all its rhetorical hyperbole) as essential reading in pursuing tasks which the Council left incomplete.
___________________________________________________________________________
*Angelus Press and Carmel Books.

25 November 2017

The Saints of England

A little while ago, we had a jolly period in which within a few days we celebrated S Edmund of Canterbury and S Hugh of Lincoln and S Edmund the Martyr King. For the Divine Office on such occasions, I use a nice old 1874 Breviarium Romanum which has at the back of it Officia propria Sanctorum Angliae. (This supplement clearly goes back to before the decree authorising a distinct Calendar and propers for each of the Flaminian Gate dioceses.)

In my old Breviary, before each of the collects we are told where it comes from: again and again, Ex Missali Sarisburiensi. The Roman liturgical authorities had no desire to sit down at a lordly table and compose new collects for our English Saints. The dear old Sarum Rite was good enough a source to satisfy this need. And those collects continued in use until the period after the Council.

I haven't done a precise survey of this, but I have a distinct impression that the Diocesan Propers for the Novus Ordo largely dispense with those silly old medieval collects. Bright new Woolworths collects take their places. Commonly, they have that verbose floridity and appetite to be clever which are such marks of modern English middle-class drafting. Moreover, I have been told that there still do not exist official Latin versions of the new collects. In other words, the English Hierarchy and the Roman liturgical authorities apparently expect the English clergy regularly to disobey Sacrosanctum Concilium paragraph 101 (1), which directs that the clergy are to recite their Office in Latin unless they have permission from their bishop to do otherwise ... and that permission can only be given "singulis pro casibus" ... on a one by one basis ... not as a general permission.

(To be fair, I should add that the Welsh dioceses do make full provision for observing the Welsh Saints in the Novus Ordo Divine Office in Latin ... we should congratulate the Welsh on being trilingual!)


Incidentally ... 'Jacobites' might be interested to note that in my 1874 Breviary, S George is referred to as "Patronus Regni". S George is patently the Patron of England but not of Scotland, and so he is in no way the Patron of "the United Kingdom". Thus, describing him as "Patronus Regni" implies the position which was maintained by James III, Charles III, and Henry IX, that the "Acts of Union" of 1707 and 1801, passed as they were by an intruded and merely de facto regime without the authority of the de jure Sovereign, did not truly extinguish the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

24 November 2017

"They have uncrowned Him" (4)

I return now to what I mentioned in the first of my series: Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's views about Christian and non-Christian Societies ... and, in particular, to the question raised in Dignitatis humanae about the 'rights of Error'. It is with regard to this Decree that a very distinguished Catholic theologian wrote, not very long ago, that it "occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics". And I begin with an anecdote of the Archbishop's which, I believe, goes to the heart of the problem. "Pope John Paul II made [this point] to me on the occasion of the audience that he granted to me on November 18, 1978: 'You know', he said to me, 'religious liberty has been very useful for us in Poland, against communism'".

It is easy to put simply what the ambiguities are. If one is coming from a culture which has been oppressed for a quarter of a century by atheistic Stalinist Communism (and before that, by National Socialism), an obvious truth will prescribe: Religious Liberty must be upheld, therefore the state must cease to prevent Catholic Truth from being upheld. But, against the background of a Christendom State, as we saw it in my first piece, in which the constitution has upheld either explicitly or implicitly the just privileges of the One True Faith taught by the the One True Church, the same truth will receive the expression: Catholic Truth must be upheld, therefore the state must discourage the growth and even the existence of errors against the Truth upheld by the Catholic Church. It is not surprising that S John Paul II, the doughty and effective warrior against a dominant Marxism, and the battle-hardened French Missionary bishop from a background of cultural opposition to the inheritance of the the French Revolution, failed to see eye to eye. Yet those two outworkings of the same principle, for two different contexts, have the same message: Catholic Truth must be upheld. And I could understand that some people might go further and say that, since there are few, if any, Christendom states left, and an increasing number of states in which Catholic Truth is opposed or even persecuted by a new illiberal Secularism or by Islam, we must forget about the second outworking and, out of prudence, make a great deal of the first.

Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP, about whom Fr Aidan Nichols has written a fine book, made this point in a passage which Mgr Lefebvre quotes with approval: "We can ... make of liberty of worship an argument ad hominem against those who, while proclaiming the liberty of worship, persecute the Church (secular and socialising states) or impede its worship (communist states, Islamic ones, etc.). This argument ad hominem is fair, and the Church does not disdain it, using it to defend effectively the right of its own liberty". So far, fair enough. [Those who do not know the real meaning of the phrase Argumentum ad hominem can read my articles via the search engine attached to this Blog; it does not mean "personal attack".]

But Garrigou-Lagrange goes on "But it does not follow that the freedom of cults, considered in itself, is maintainable for Christians in principle, because it is in itself absurd and impious: indeed, truth and error cannot have the same rights". Bang on, surely. Error cannot have rights. But it is not pedantic to observe that the writer is not so much concerned to deny personal liberties to those who belong to such cults as to deny it 'in principle' to the errors asserted by the cults.

Here is the problem: Archbishop Lefebvre, and writers who agree with him, have no difficulty whatsoever in piling up quotations from Popes who wrote before the Council, to the effect that Error has no rights. And the Conciliar Declaration Dignitatis humanae begins with a section including the statement that "it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and of societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ"*. But ... as the Council goes on to "develop" its teaching, it does get quite difficult to see how the so-called 'development' is not in fact a change. This 'development' is said to be rooted in a natural right not to be coerced, which is inferred to exist because of the principle that "Man's response to God in Faith must be free."

To be concluded.
__________________________________________________________________________
*The Conciliar Acta  make clear the enormous importance of this sentence for the process of achieving Conciliar consensus. On November 19 1965 as many as 249 Fathers had voted non placet on the draft before them. At the final vote, on December 6, the number sank to 70 as the result of pressure put on many of the Fathers. Those who reluctantly changed their vote felt enabled to do so in good conscience because of the addition of this sentence as the result of a personal intervention by Pope Paul VI. It will be remembered that Conciliar decrees are expected to have the authority of a 'moral unanimity'. Dignitatis humanae, considered without the sentence added by the Pope, would be a document that lacked ... by a fairly hefty margin ... that necessary consensus. There is therefore a sense in which it is the most important statement within this whole Declaration, its clavis aperiendi cetera. It is therefore reasonable to insist that whatever else the document may go on to say, must be understood fully in accordance with both the letter and the spirit of that earlier teaching of the Magisterium.

22 November 2017

"They have uncrowned Him" (3)

When we turn from C S Lewis and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to the texts of Vatican II, I do not think we find a contradiction. In Nostra aetate the Council declared: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions". So far, it is in agreement with Lewis and Lefebvre; as it is when it goes on to say that the ethics and teachings of these religions "often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, [the Church] proclaims and must ever proclaim Christ, 'the way, the truth, and the life, in whom men find the fulness of religious life, and in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself'".

I propose now to speak frankly about the Second Holy Ecumenical Council of the Vatican.
(1) With regard even to infallible definitions of dogma by Ecumenical Councils and Roman Pontiffs, it is a commonplace that, while we are bound to accept them as of Divine Faith, we are not necessarily obliged to accept, on the same authority, the arguments which are offered to us in support of a dogma; or the prudential considerations which led to its definition. A fortiori, the same limitations apply to the documents of Vatican II. Because ...
(2) Vatican II, in any case, was not a Council which proposed infallibly any dogmas (except those which were already de fide by virtue of the previous Magisterium, such as the Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption of the Mother of God, the immorality of procured abortions, etc., etc., etc..). And ...
(3) Vatican II professed to be a pastoral Council. It is a statement of the obvious that pastoral needs (and implied audiences) can vary toto caelo between one generation and another, so that the pastoral observations of the Council will not be expected to speak as directly to successive generations as they might have done to the first half of the 1960s. Conciliar documents Of Vatican II, very helpfully, themselves made this clear by referring to mundus hodierni temporis or the like; and the very document we are now considering makes the same point by its programmatic opening words Nostra aetate.

In the context of these observations, I can only say that, as far as I can see, this Decree of the Council deals with a subject of some complexity with an almost scandalously cheerful brevity. And it is woefully over-optimistic. For example, it addresses an implied audience of non-Christians who are keenly and with goodwill open to a positive evaluation by us of their own religions. It does not - for example - address a world (such as our world) in which very many who profess thus to understand their own faith see themselves as engaged in a Holy War to exterminate, by death or by conversion, those who hold our One True Catholic Faith. Accordingly, I regard as distinctively time-conditioned ... well past their sell-by dates ... passages such as "She [the Church] looks with sincere respect upon those ways of conduct and of life, those rules and teachings which, though differing in many particulars from what she holds and sets forth ...". And it is not so much the actual words of the Council which embarrass me as, firstly, its failure to give us some well-chosen observations about the errors of false religions; secondly, its failure to give any guidance as to how we are to reconcile its new teaching with its own statement that the earlier Magisterium remains fully in force; and, thirdly, what I might venture to call its body-language - what it seems at first sight to be saying ... until one looks more carefully.

To be continued.


21 November 2017

More Martin ... further facts about the Fraterculus

I'm sorry: Luther is a bit passe now, isn't he ... PF has been to Lund, hugged an episcopussy, said ... er ... whatever he has said ...

But there is a very jolly book about Luther, The Making of Martin Luther, which has only just reached me, a gift of a generous friend, and which I can enthusiastically commend. Its narrative has a rather deliciously detached style of faintly amused superiority; it is always elegant, invariably informative, and quite often distinctly funny.

Richard Rex (a Tab) has endeavoured to excavate beneath the historical evidence and to bring us what was truly going on in the mind of Luther. In particular, he avoids the snares of writing with hindsight. He tries very hard to see how new ... or how old ... was every stance that Luther took at the moment he took it.

I really do think that most of you would enjoy most of it. The sort of Revisionism which begins by demonstrating that, pretty certainly, the fraterculus never nailed any theses to any door anywhere in that fateful October of 1517, always brings with it a certain pleasure. And the careful dissection of Luther's treatment of his opponents is fun ... Rex suggests that the unrelenting fury with which Luther treated Erasmus is the product of Luther's frustrated realisation that the great humanist had actually caught him out. I very much enjoyed the author's demonstration that Luther was a thorough-going medieval, not least in his late medieval emotional response to the Lord's Humanity. Revealingly, Luther considered S Bernard of Clairvaux to have "excelled all the ancient Fathers of the Church in his preaching, because he preached Christ so beautifully'". [Anglican readers will probably recall Gregory Dix's pointed proof (Shape pp 605 sqq.) that emotional fifteenth century devotional writings had very little in them which "the sternest protestant that ever came out of Ulster could conscientiously refuse to use".]

A tiny but thought-provoking example of Rex's ability to throw light on how something seemed at the time is his suggestion that "the mother's milk of the [recent invention of printing] in its infancy was meeting the massive demand for liturgical texts which was generated by the almost hyperventilated piety of late medieval Catholicism".

But ... er ... did it necessarily feel exactly like that in, say, Venice? Where Aldus Manutius Plancus insisted that only Greek be spoken in his Printing House ...

20 November 2017

"They have uncrowned Him" (2) False Religions?


Continuing to consider Archbishop Lefebvre's book, from my own background in Catholic Anglicanism, I discern in it more than a whiff of that admirable Anglican Ulsterman, C S Lewis. Not that Archbishop Lefebvre, I am sure, will have read him; but because first-rate Christian thinkers so often, laudably, converge. Take a particular tricky theological problem: explaining how souls rooted in a false religion may find their way to God, without asserting - or leading others to think you mean - that all religions are more or less as good as each other: 'syncretism' or 'indifferentism'. Mgr Lefebvre writes " ... in the false religions, certain souls can be oriented towards God; but this is because they do not attach themselves to the errors of their religion! It is not through their religion that these souls turn towards God, but in spite of it! Therefore, the respect that is owed to these souls would not imply that respect is owed to their religion". And: " ... these religions [he has just mentioned Islam and Hinduism] can keep some sound elements, signs of natural religion, natural occasions for salvation; even preserve some remainders of the primitive revelation (God, the fall, a salvation), hidden supernatural values which the grace of God could use in order to kindle in some people the flame of a dawning faith. But none of these values belongs in its own right to these false religions ... The wholesome elements that can subsist still belong by right to the sole true religion, that of the Catholic Church; and it is this one alone that can act through them"*.

I think this is admirably expressed, and it reminds me strongly of the penultimate chapter in Lewis's The Last Battle. A young Calormene, brought up in the worship of the false god Tash, meets the Lion Aslan, the Christ-figure in Lewis's rich narrative. "Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days, and not him. ... But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true ... that thou and Tash art one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. ... Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I also said (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek".

Whatever in the cult of Tash predisposed the young man to seek the Glorious One still belongs by right to the sole true religion, that of the Catholic Church; it does not belong of right to the cult of Tash. It is not through what is proper to the cult of Tash that he comes to Christ: that is to say, through its errors, but in spite of it. Because Tash and Aslan are opposites.

And it is worth being precise and reminding ourselves that Nostra aetate does not say that we respect the Islamic religion; but Moslems.

To be continued.
___________________________________________________________________________
*I think it is clear that Mgr Lefebvre has here in mind the wise teaching of Unitatis redintegratio para 4. " ... haec omnia, quae a Christo proveniunt et ad Ipsum conducunt, ad unicam Christi Ecclesiam iure pertinent"  where iure was added to the text on the orders of Pope Paul VI.

19 November 2017

The Propers for the Last Sunday and Week after Trinity

Readers will be in no doubt about my enthusiasm for our Ordinariate Missal. I affirm all of what I have said previously as I go on to suggest an improvement which could be made without any need for changes in the printed Missal.

Our Missal does not include the Readings, which are to be taken from the Novus Ordo.

I would very much welcome the authorisation of the old Sarum Readings for Sundays. These are to be found (with very slight changes) in the Book of Common Prayer, from which they could be read. A simple two line decree could also conveniently authorise the celebration of Christ the King at the end of October ad libitum.

Most Sundays' Sarum/PrayerBook lections are basically the same as those in the Missal of S Pius V, although with dislocations which put Epistles and Gospels onto different Sundays.

But sometimes, there is a real difference from the Pian lectionary. This happened last Sunday, when Sarum (followed by the Prayer Book) and many other Northern European uses had a quite different provision. In these uses we find an Epistle (well, actually, a Lesson from Jeremiah) and a Gospel (from S John) which both moved around a bit in the Middle Ages but pretty well always came just before or just at the start of Advent, as a taster and a preliminary for that season. Their loss is an impoverishment in the Missal of S Pius V.

I will explain the importance of these readings in the words of Abbot Rupert of Deutz (1075- 1129) - a considerable mystagogue. I believe that we can learn from his words about what Scripture and the Tradition teach concerning the redemption of our Jewish brethren, in greater detail than we can learn it from Nostra aetate or that silly document that came from Rome last year.

"Holy Church is so intent on paying her debt of supplication, and prayer, and thanksgiving, for all men, as the Apostle demands, that we find her giving thanks also for the salvation of the children of Israel, who, she knows, are one day to be united with her. And, as their remnants are to be saved at the end of the world, so, on this last Sunday of the Year, she delights at having them, just as though they were already her members! In the Introit, calling to mind the prophecies concerning them, she sings each year: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Verily, his thoughts are those of peace, for he promises to admit to the banquet of his grace, the Jews, who are his brethren according to the flesh; thus realising what had been prefigured in the history of the patriarch Joseph. The brethren of Joseph, having sold him, came to him, when they were tormented by hunger; for then he ruled over the whole land of Egypt; he recognised them, he received them, and made, together with them, a great feast; so too, our Lord who is reigning over the whole earth, and is giving the bread of life, in abundance, to the Egyptians, (that is, to the gentiles), will see coming to him the remnants of the children of Israel. He, whom they had denied and put to death, will admit them to his favour, will give them a place at his table, and the true Joseph will feast delightedly with his brethren.

"The benefit of this divine table is signified, in the office of this Sunday, by the Gospel, which tells us of the Lord's feeding the multitude with five loaves. For it will be then that Jesus will open to the Jews the five books of Moses, which are now being carried whole and not yet broken - yea, carried by a child, that is to say, this people itself, who, up to that time, will have been cramped up in the narrowness of a childish spirit.

"Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremias, which is so aptly placed before this gospel: They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but, The Lord liveth, which brought up, and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north-country,and from all countries whither I have driven them.

"Thus delivered from the spiritual bondage which still holds them, they will sing with their heart, the words of thanksgiving as we have them in the Gradual: It is thou, O Lord, that savest us from our enemies!

"The words we use in the Offertory: Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord, clearly allude to the same events; for, on that day, his brethren will say to the great and true Joseph: We beseech thee to forget the wickedness of thy brethren! The Communion: Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and it shall be done unto you, is the answer made by that same Joseph, as it was by the first: Fear not! Ye thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present ye see, and might save many people. Fear not, therefore, I will feed you, and your children.
" (The Reading is Jeremiah 23:5 ff; the Gospel, John 6: 5 ff, is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. My translations of the propers are taken from the Book of Common Prayer and the good old English Missal.)

This is a superb exposition, in the patristic 'typological' idiom, of an important theme in Pauline eschatology - see Romans 9-11. The crucial passage, Romans 11:25-28, is omitted from the new Sunday lectionaries. There is significance, I suspect, in the fact that modern lectionaries delicately step around this theme: the Eschatological Submission of the Jews to the Call of Christ. 

Sometimes I feel that, despite the call for a "richer table of Scripture" in Sacrosanctum concilium, the Scriptures read to the People of God have in some respects, paradoxically, been made conceptually narrower in the post-conciliar books. I commend (again) to the reader the fine Index Lectionum produced earlier this year by Matthew Hazell ... a must-have for anybody seriously concerned with Liturgy. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback).

Jewry, and Eschatology

As Dom Gueranger explains, the instinct of the Latin Church, in these last glorious Sundays before Advent, was to think about the Salvation of the Jews in the End Time (vide Romans 11:25sqq.). He draws our attention to the Introit (from Jeremiah 29) which we keep repeating in November:
Thus saith the Lord: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction; ye shall call upon me, and I will hearken unto you: and will bring again your captivity from all places. Psalmus 85 Lord, thou art become gracious unto thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

And those of you with Anglican previous could blow the dust off your Prayer Books and read the passage from Jeremiah 28 which BCP provides for the 'Epistle' on Stir up Sunday. It is a passage which, in the Middle Ages, different parts of the Latin Church used on different Sundays, but always just before or just at the start of Advent.

And then  ... how are we to understand the majestic words in the Gospel which follows: Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

I gave you the exegesis of Abbot Rupert about this time last year. I'll reprint it this evening. And I will include the original thread to that blogpost, which included some exceedingly powerful points.

How on earth will the Incoming of Jewry, their eschatological acceptance by Faith of their Messiah and their Entry with him into his kingdom, take place? Will all Jews be saved? But S Paul has just talked about "the Fullness of the Gentiles". Are we to believe that all the Gentiles will be saved? I put these questions, not because I propose to offer answers, but because they will occur to intelligent readers. I am not going to offer answers because, throughout the Church's history, no good has ever come out of eschatological speculations. But good does come out of our humble acceptance of the Promises in Holy Scripture that the One who has promised is faithful to his Promises.

As we think about the Jews, there are two pernicious dead ends. One is to say that they do not need Christ and are best remaining in their own religion, so let's stop talking about their conversion. The other is to say that they killed the Messiah, and lie under an everlasting condemnation. Each of these is equally anti-semitic and contrary to the immemorial teaching of Scripture. And to the teaching of the Liturgy.

Lex orandi legem statuat credendi.

18 November 2017

"They have uncrowned Him" (1) Archbishop Lefebvre

By popular request, and since quite a few churches still celebrate Christ the King on the Sunday next before Advent, I am making available an old series on this subject

As we approach the great Festival of Christus Rex, I am reminded of Archbishop Lefebvre's book with the above title. When I first read that volume, I was struck by a great sense of familiarity ... combined with an overwhelming awareness of unfamiliarity.

The familiarity? The understanding of Society which I found on his pages is radically similar to what, for most of its existence since 1559, would have been seen as the distinctive mark of Anglicanism ... yes, even more so than 'episcopacy' or 'Patristicism'. I invite readers to let their imagination take them back to the English countryside before the Industrial Revolution or the Catholic Revival; to the Squire and the Parson (each of them probably 'two-bottle men', or better) drinking to "Church and King" or "Church and State". The understanding was that the Crown defended the Church, and the Church upheld the Crown (a view that Gallican Frenchmen might have shared). There had been a decade of hiatus in the middle of the seventeenth century; but that had become just a bad memory. True, there were ambiguities after the Dutch Invasion; as Squire and Parson raised their glasses together, perhaps the candlelight glinted on some words etched into the glasses ... Redeat Magnus ille Genius Brittaniae ... and perhaps there was a bowl of water on the table ... and perhaps Sophie Western in her lofty bower heard the drunken voices downstairs rise in song to 'bless our King ... soon to reign over us' or to peer into a future 'when the King shall have his own again'. But the implicit ideology, of a Christian state, of a 'realm', lay beneath it all as a solid foundation.

In this sense, if you wanted to call classical cultural Anglicanism 'Lefebvrian', people might find you rather eccentric but you could make a strong case for your eccentricity, as long as you made it clear that you were referring to the old 'High and Dry' churchmen more than to the new enthusiasts of the Tractarian and Evangelical movements.

The unfamiliarity? A vivid scene described early in the Archbishop's book: we are inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where the painter David has been prostituting his skills in the interests of a new ideology, and has turned from oils to papier-mache; instead of the altare Dei and the August Presence, there is a 'mountain' with a 'Greek' temple, occupied by an agreeable petite danseuse deemed to be the Goddess Reason and surrounded by her associates singing 'hymns'; then a small gathering moves off to the Assembly so that its President can embrace 'la Deesse'. The date? 20 Brumaire, in the Year II. The Capetian uncrowned, the Redeemer dethroned, the very Calendar remade.

British Society has never since 1660 experienced quite such a brutal and total moment of discontinuity, which has marked the whole of later history and has bequeathed such rigidly defined polarities. If Britain had done a deal with Hitler in 1941, Buckingham Palace might very probably have been occupied by Wallace Simpson and a bevy of German Advisers, but EDWARDUS VIII DEI GRATIA REX INDIAE IMPERATOR would have appeared on the coins, the royal standard would still have fluttered from the flagpole, and there would have been a continuity of outward forms.

French history, on the other hand, has been marked by repeated discontinuities in the rituals and the forms, so that under Marshal Petain the Revolutionary motto and symbols in their turn give way to coins inscribed Travail Famille Patrie and bearing a Gallique Francisque. I am inclined to feel that an Englishman has little hope of understanding Lefebvre (or possibly many other Frenchman) if he fails to understand this.

His Excellency the Archbishop described 'the social doctrine of the Church' thus:  
"Society is not a shapeless mass of individuals, but an arranged organism of coordinated and hierarchically arranged social groups: the family, the enterprises and trades, then the professional corporations, finally the state. The corporations unite employers and workers in the same profession for the protection and the promotion of their common interests. The classes are not antagonistic, but naturally complementary".
You could call this ideal 'Corporatism' and recall with distaste that it appealed to Mussolini; or 'Toryism' and remember that as early as 1749 Henry Fielding was ridiculing it as old-fashioned; but it has broad links with the Catholic High Medieval Society which John Bossy described in the 1980s and the disappearance of which the Anglican 'Radical Orthodox' Catherine Pickstock lamented as the basis of modern, atomised, individualism.

Our more gradual British revolutions and our shyness about disturbing inherited symbols deny us the clarity afforded to Frenchmen by the almost comic abruptness of their own episodic cultural transformations; but have we not now all ended up in very much the same place?

CHRISTUS VINCIT CHRISTUS REGNAT CHRISTUS IMPERAT

To be continued.

16 November 2017

For Classicists ...

There is an interesting internet correspondence going on concerning Leitourgeia. Does it, as we are often told by a certain school of modern Catholic liturgical 'experts', mean "Work of the People"; or "Work for the People"?

Nobis in hoc exsilio, Sancte Pater Edmunde ...

R Caelestis patriae amorem, quaesumus, infunde.

Ad Magnificat et Benedictus Antiphona Dilexit justitiam et odivit iniquitatem, propterea moritur in exsilio.

[Holy Father Edmund, we beseech thee to pour upon us in this exile love of our heavenly homeland. He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, wherefore he dies in exile.]

These are 'proper' parts of the Divine Office (Breviarium Romanum, Appendix pro Dioecesibus Angliae) for today, feast of S Edmund of Abingdon (Abendonia, in the Breviary reading) Patron of this Diocese. It is a good day to pray for the Diocese of Portsmouth and its thoroughly admirable, orthodox, bishop, Philip Egan, a definitely extraordinary ordinary. Come to think of it, every day is a good day to do that.

S Edmund's education was divided between the great Abbey in Abingdon, and the 'schools' in Oxford (where he later taught ... er ... I think he may also have visited Paris ...). We live between these two towns; Oxford has quite good libraries, and I go to Abingdon to do bits of shopping in Waitrose and to pick up my free coffee and newspaper. There's not much to see of Abingdon Abbey; as far as Oxford is concerned, I think the only surviving buildings upon which S Edmund's eyes may have rested are the Castle and the Church of S Michael at the North Gate. (Incidentally; the Breviary naturally gives the locative of Oxonia as Oxoniae; the Oxford University Press has always used the form Oxonii. Well, there you go.)

S Edmund became Archbishop of Canterbury; he was involved in disputes, not only with the Chapter there, who were the usual lot of troublesome monks, but also with the King. He died at Pontigny, probably on his way to Rome to deal with the legal cases in which he was involved. He is still to be venerated in his shrine there.

The parts of the Divine Office at the head of this piece remind me of S Paul's rather pointed observation to his Philippian converts ... Philippi had the constitutional status of a Roman colonia , which meant that its citizens possessed citizenship of Rome. They were obsessively proud of this, so S Paul reminds them not to think about earthly things, epigeia, but to remember that their politeuma is situated in the heavens.

We are all in exile until we reach our patria; and the knowledge that our true Passport Office is at a heavenly address ought, I rather think, to discourage us from making too much of a fetich of the fairly modern concept of the Nation State.

15 November 2017

Why is the post-Conciliar Catholic Church so antisemitic?

I don't blame the Council; there is nothing, as far as I am aware, in any of its documents to justify all the antisemitism which followed in the trail of the Council..

The Council did not mandate the dreadful reduction in the amount of psalmody in the Divine Office. It did nothing to encourage the untraditional, unorganic revolution of inserting "New Testament Canticles" into the Vespers psalmody, thereby reducing its psalms from five to two! And the Council encouraged the community celebration of the Office ... yet how many Catholic Churches  have Vespers on Saturday or Sunday evening? (God bless the Oratorians!) How many even of regularly  practising Catholics have ever attended Vespers, with that moving offering of Incense in memory of ... no; in continuation of ... the Evening Offering in God's Temple? Sicut incensum in conspectu tuo ... It is as if there has been a concerted plot to rob Christian clergy and laity of their consciousness of their essentially and gloriously Judaic identity.

The Council ordered that the Faithful should be given a richer diet of Scripture; and it is true that, in years following, an Old Testament reading was tacked on to the Sunday Epistle and Gospel. But the price that had to be paid for this somewhat external and artificial alteration was the eviction of the more integrated and ancient structural elements which were lost during the process of 'reform'.  The ecumenical twelve readings of the Easter Vigil had been reduced to a pitiful four (or fewer); the Pentecost Vigil, the Ember Days, the Lenten 'stational' weekday series of lections from the Hebrew Bible, all needed to disappear. The quiet, daily insistence of the Eucharistic celebrant, as he stood at the foot of the Altar, that he was going up to God's holy Hill of Sacrifice, treading in the footsteps of Abraham and Isaac and the Family from Nazareth and entering God's tabernacula, was ruthlessly expunged.

The Council did not abolish the Roman Canon ... indeed, if the Conciliar movers and shakers had even hinted that this was the direction they were moving in, I bet enough of the Fathers would have risen in rebellion to prevent their plans. So, fifty years ago, every devout presbyter of the Latin Church, every morning, explicitly remembered and renewed and fulfilled the sacrifices of God's Righteous Boy Abel, and our Patriarch Abraham, and the High Priest Melchisedek; he offered the tamid lamb for God's People and looked for the Salvation which was to come from the East. Nowadays, only an eccentric minority of clergy, out of favour with the current regime, take such words upon their lips. How many, indeed, of the clergy and laity out there in the 'Mainstream Church' are even aware that Holy Mass is a Sacrifice? How often does anyone remind them of it? How much awareness is there that the very heart of Man's commerce with the Divine, even before and outside the Mosaic dispensation, was and is sacrificial?

Our great Anglican Benedictine mystagogogue Dom Gregory Dix, who daily prayed the Canon of the Mass, memorably wrote of "that mighty and most necessary truth, the majestic tradition of the worshipping Church, the rich tradition of the liturgy unbroken since the Apostles, and beyond - beyond even Calvary and Sion and the Synagogues of Capernaum and Nazareth, back to the heights of Moriah and Sinai and the shadowy altar on Ararat - and beyond that again".

And now we are told that the Council is 'finally' being implemented ... by a pope who attacks the Torah, God's Holy Law! Who has spoken about "the Torah with its quibbles [cavilli]". Indeed! Quibbles!! I will not repeat what I have written about such antisemitisms in my paper included in Luther and his Progeny, Angelico Press; I situated them in the context of the unbroken and deplorable tradition of Lutheran and Protestant antisemitism since the sixteenth century.


Traddiland is in many ways a strange country; persecution may indeed have driven us into eccentricity! But, at least, we have preserved, against all the odds, the basic DNA, the fundamentally Hebrew grammar, of the Christian Faith. Nobody will be able ever to take that boast from us.

14 November 2017

Double standards (2), (3), and (4)

It is difficult always to be certain what PF has said, because throughout his pontificate there has been a persistent risk that he has been misreported or misunderstood. I prefix that very important caveat as I continue to list amusing examples of Double Standards.

(2) PF told Cardinal Mueller that he had decided not to reappoint curial officials after the expiry of their five-year term. Mueller was to consider himself to be but the first victim of the new convention.

There seem to be uncertainties about whether PF has been applying this norm uniformly ... or, indeed, at all.

(3) PF talked loudly about Parrhesia in the distant days when he hoped it would encourage Synodal Fathers to say what he wanted to hear them saying. It is rumoured that he has more recently been much more reticent about uttering the pi word.

(4) PF is described as favouring Subsidiarity especially in the new exciting sense of allowing Germanophone hierarchs do do whatever they like. But ...
    (a) a few months ago, a Roman Instruction stripped diocesan bishops of the right to authorise new religious communities within their jurisdictions without the prior inspection and sanction of the Congregation for Religious.
   (b) a draft document did the rounds in Rome, according to which young clergy in the Roman Colleges, whoever are the ordinaries of the home dioceses that pay for their education, would be required to concelebrate rather than being allowed to get into the disgusting habit of saying a daily private EF Mass. [Does anyone know what became of this proposal?]

4 a & b are very understandable. The great renaissance of Catholicism which began in the last decades of the 25-year Wojtyla-Ratzinger dyarchy disproportionately influenced the young of both sexes. Hence, the demise of old communities now reduced to impotent senility was accompanied by a mushrooming of young religious orders which either prefer the Old Mass or, with a broader menu, elevate the Old Mass to optable equality with the New. Hence also the growth of vocations to the Sacred Priesthood in the Ecclesia Dei communities but, much more strikingly still, also in the Church at large. This has led to a new phenomenon: young priests who for pastoral reasons do willingly say the New Mass (although not necessarily always with the ritual options most fashionable in the 1970s), but who derive their ars celebrandi from the Old Mass which is their personal gold Standard; and who will, if pastoral needs do not demand otherwise, instinctively say their daily private Masses according to the Old Missal.

It is not surprising that there are those for whom these new cultural manifestations are less than unambiguously welcome. Now an older generation, but still luxuriating on the emotional highs of the late 'sixties, they peer from under their dear drooping eyelids into the faces of the young. Is it remarkable that they discern in those faces the sure prognostics of their own transience?

13 November 2017

"Little boys should be allowed to wear tiaras!"

Thus, the Church of England's Education Department, nobly defending the rights of Anglican transtoddlers.

Now we know why all those "I'll pope as soon as I qualify for my pension" clerics are still hanging on in what Blessed John Henry so felicitously referred to as the House of Bondage.

Ahhhhh ... the simple pleasure of seeing Fr A, Fr B, and Fr C, not to mention the Right Reverend episcopopters, entering Church to the sound of Tu es Petrus, each wearing his triregnum! I simply can't wait!

Just for once, the beneficent and omnicompetent Mr Luzar may be incapable of supplying instantly all their needs!!!!

12 November 2017

S Willibrord's Little Rome

The Saints of England, God bless them, do seem rather to tug at our maniples these days as we struggle up to the Altar. There was November 8, preserving a shadow of the old Octave Day as we celebrated in the Ordinariate the very agreeable Feast of All the Saints of England. Last month, the cardinale volante Raymond Burke went to Puginopolis, aka Ramsgate, to seal the Shrine Relic of S Augustine into a splendid new reliquary. Recently we kept the feast of S Willibrord ...

At a time (597) when the Roman Rite was, fairly simpliciter, the Rite of Rome, the Augustinian Roman Mission planted Little Romes in England; places where the dedications of churches mirrored those of Rome; where the Liturgy was Roman; where the education was Roman. A second wave of missions took this Anglo-Saxon Romanita across to Northern Europe. Which is why S Willibrord, via Northumberland and Ireland, ended up being consecrated Archbishop of the Frisians by Pope S Sergius I, and setting up his cathedra at Utrecht.

Those Anglo-Saxon Churches were comfortably, even aggressively, papalist; which makes it all the more preposterous that (for example) an Anglican 'Society', designed to shelter those who disdained Pope Benedict's gracious ecumenical offer, should award itself the patronage of S Wilfrid! S Willibrord was similarly kidnapped much earlier by a group advocating close links between the schismatic Dutch 'Old Catholic Church' (now depressingly ultra-liberal, but possessed of orders regarded by Rome as valid), and the Church of England.

This link produced an initiative in the 1930s designed to circumvent the condemnation of Anglican Orders by the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII. By mutual interconsecrations, the 'Old Catholic' and English Anglican episcopates were ... this was the explicit intention ... woven together into one "so that even the strictest romanist will not be able to doubt Anglican Orders". The C of E, half a century later, gave up this ingeniously intricate attempt to render its priestly orders equivalent to those of the Catholic Church; it formally declared that its own orders were, after all that trouble, despite all the ink spilt rebutting Leo XIII, worth no more than those of Methodists and Lutherans! Yes; it is a strange body!

But the point of this rather rambling blogpost is to disentangle our own dear S Willibrord, the real Willibrord, from all those weird goings-on and to draw your attention to the wonderful pictures on the Internet of the Church of S Willibrord in Utrecht, which is being blessed and brought back to use this very day by His Excellency Bishop Fellay (a man who has risen in my esteem since he so wisely signed our Filial Correction). That superb, soaring church (not unworthy of Pugin) will be an inspiring restoration of Anglo-Saxon Romanita North of the Alps; a Little Rome up there among the foggy boggy mists of the Low Countries to console the Faithful as a pledge of the Faith's return in full and glorious expression to the queenly city upon the Seven Hills where an immigrant from the Middle East once made an act of Martyrium.

We must all make the most of our Little Romes!

11 November 2017

Bishops: a "courage deficit"?

Those who use the Liturgia horarum found themselves today saying the very jolly hymn by S Odo, abbot of Cluny (d 943), 'Martine par apostolis', which notoriously moved Peter Abelard to call its opening hyperbole a 'praesumptio'.

S Odo's fourth stanza originally concluded:

monastico nunc ordini
iam paene lapso subveni.

The 1968 revising coetus, aka Dom Anselmo Lentini & Co. Ltd., commented that the first of these lines needed to be broadened and, as far as the second is concerned, 'evidenter mutandum' (Oh yeah?). So they came up with:

pontificum nunc ordini
pio favore subveni.

Isn't all this fun? I began by feeling that, given the collapse of the Religious life in the First World, perhaps the original would again now be apposite. Then I recalled all the Good News regarding the current vibrant revival of the Religious Life. So I started toying instead with the idea of adopting just one of Lentini's proposed changes, so that the text would read:

pontificum nunc ordini
iam paene lapso subveni.

But, given the unwillingness of ... shall we say, just a few? ... the Successors of the Apostles to speak clearly and frankly about the disfunctions in the current flow of the River Tiber, perhaps the following would, if you will forgive an uncharacteristic lapse into modish jargon, tick all the boxes:

pontificum nunc ordini
En! paene merso subveni.

10 November 2017

Splendid News!

Apparently, John Paul I is going to be made a Saint! About time, too! After all, he was a pope!

I believe one account of the dying words of our late Sovereign Lord Vespasian offers us

"Vae! Puto, deus fio!"

After all, he was an emperor!

Jonathan Sachs

A brilliant Thought for the Day on the BBC Home Service Today Programme by Rabbi Lord Sachs, about Freedom of Speech. Sparkling, vivid, scintillating.

It comes just after a good bit on the aulos, by Armand D'angour, Fellow and Mods tutor at Jesus College in this University, at around 1hour 40 minutes into the programme.

9 November 2017

NCREPORTER

The Winter article to which I referred a few days ago, not only attacks Fr Weinanandy, but also berates Cardinal DiNardo and the USA Episcopal Conference. Winter thinks that their response to Weinandy was weak.

Actually, on reflection, I can't help feeling there is a little something in this. DiNardo does talk about dialogue and does refrain from angry personal remarks about Weinandy. Moreover, being 'sacked' as a Consultor of the Doctrine Commission may be rather a sweet martyrdom. Father will be spared boring chores arising from an episcopal tendency to kick troublesome balls into long grass by referring them to the Commission. He will have more time now to get on with his own stuff! Like Cardinal Mueller, he may even feel less inhibited!

As Father wrote, the Bishops of the world have mostly been extremely quiet. Some of those who have said the bolder things are among the younger bishops; men whose age and current position means that, when the natural time comes for their next move, we are likely to have entered into a new pontificate. I have, throughout my own career, several times noticed with amused interest how little auctoritas a principal seems to retain when he is known to be in his last year or so!

When the Cardinal Secretary of State can go public with the opinion that PF's critics do deserve an answer, the evidence suggests that the tide is not flowing strongly in PF's direction, and that even 'top people' are starting to hedge their bets or to distance themselves.

I urge readers to keep their heads and to do anything they can to ensure that the momentum ... rolls. We are getting somewhere; the pressure on PF is mounting. There are signs of real panic in partibus adversis. As PF's defenders become fewer and more nuanced, perhaps we should detect a growing apprehension among some of them that it might not do their own careers much good in the next pontificate to have been too loudly explicit in this one. And PF's determination to follow up Amorislaetitiagate so quickly with Luthergate and deathpenaltygate and liturgygate may suggest that he is himself panicking at the thought of not having time to fulfill his ambitions and those of his cronies.

Believe me, they're on the back foot. Control of the agenda seems to be slipping from their grasp. Fewer and fewer thoughtful observers are confident that PF is a safe pair of hands.

Courage!

8 November 2017

DIRTY, DIRTY, DIRTY

A good piece over there on onepeterfive about Pastoral Fear.

Some attacks on the Filial Correction have jeered at us on the ground that "not many people signed". When I consider the BULLYING that goes on in the Catholic Church, my reaction to these nasty jibes is DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY.

How do you tell whether liturgical change is 'organic'?

Some years ago, while looking through the library of the late and learned and very lamented Fr Michael Melrose, Successor Martyris as Vicar of S Giles, Reading, I spotted an unusual little volume (well, there were plenty of those: what a Library!): very slender, published in 1912, it gave the Psalter as rearranged by S Pius X. In other words, when S Pius made his revolutionary changes to the distribution of the psalms, you didn't have to buy a new Breviary; you bought the Slender Volume and used it in conjunction with your old Breviary.

But you did have to make some such provision to say the psalms in the new arrangement. The Decree Divino afflatu makes clear that if, after a certain date, you fail to fall in with the new order of things, you are not fulfilling your obligation to say the Divine Office. Fierce!!

In this, it differs considerably from the decree Divinam Psalmodiam of Urban VIII (1631). Urban's decree is full of fire-breathing menaces for anybody who shall print unamended texts after the decree, but he permits books already printed to go to the booksellers ... and books in the bookshops to be sold ... and books in use to continue to be used. In other words, Urban was content to rely on a gradual process of books wearing out and being replaced.

Something like this human and common-sense approach can be found as late as 1902 in the Edition of the Ambrosian Missal promulgated that year by Andrew Cardinal Ferrari. He required his new edition to be used "in virtute sanctae obedientiae", but with this let-out clause: "Concedimus tamen, aequis de causis, ut donec a Nobis aliter disponatur, vetera approbata exemplaria adhuc adhiberi possint; ita tamen ut nullum eorum ex quocunque titulo abhinc acquiratur ad Sacram Liturgiam peragandam". In other words, if you've got a previous edition in your sacristy, you may continue to use it, but you mustn't "acquire" another copy of that old edition.

It is my view that a rough but good and healthy rule of thumb as to whether a 'reform' is or is not 'organic' [vide Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II] is the consideration: Does it render all existing liturgical books totally obsolete after a certain date? When people defend the process of imposition under Blessed Paul VI of his new books by reminding us that changes had been made in earlier times, I don't think they realise the depth and rapidity of the Pauline rupture, compared with pre-1950 discontinuities. The same is true, of course, of the slash-and-burn approach adopted by Pius XII and his side-kick Bugnini to the ancient Roman rites of Holy Week.

Nobody is entitled to disagree with me about this if they have not compared, firstly, the Missal of S Pius V with the first printed edition of the Roman Missal a century earlier; and, secondly, the Missal of B Paul VI with that promulgated by his predecessor less than a decade earlier.

And there is no way that the printers could have confected a Slender Volume aided by which you could use an old Missal to say the Novus Ordo. The changes are vastly too massive.

And yet, curiously, although B Paul VI's decree Laudis Canticum was explicit in displacing and suppressing the Breviary hitherto in use, his decree Missale Romanum did not state that the Old Mass would be illegal after the New came into use. Was that an oversight? Did the canonists drafting it think that it was too obvious to need saying? I suspect that something like this may be the answer.

My theory is that this funny little lapse was the ground upon which a Commission of Cardinal canonists decided by a majority vote that the Old Missal was not abrogated - a verdict finally published and confirmed in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

7 November 2017

Double Standards (1): Pope Francis answers Dubium!!!

Pope Francis has replied to a plea for an answer to a question, and has done so within SIX WEEKS!!

A well-known theologian has commented with immense joy, pointing out how wonderful it is  

"that Francis answered at all and did not let my appeal fall on deaf ears";

"that he replied himself and not via his private secretary or the secretary of state";

"that he clearly read the appeal most attentively";

"that he is highly appreciative".

Who is the theologian? Hans Kueng. What was his appeal? That PF would allow free discussion concerning the doctrine of papal infallibility, which Kueng has spent a lot of his life attacking.

Kueng wrote to PF on March 9 2016; his ecstatic press statement describing PF's reply was released to The Tablet on April 27 2016.

Papal Infallibility is a dogma solemnly defined by an Ecumenical Council, Vatican I, in 1870. Its teaching included anathemas against those who denied the doctrine.

Kueng says that PF "set no restrictions. He has thus responded to my request to give room to a free discussion on the dogma of infallibility. I think it is now imperative to use this new freedom ..." etc. etc..

This gripping news broke some weeks before the recent spate of Internet papers by court theologians arguing that documents like Amoris laetitia require a more obsequious acceptance from the theological community than they have in some quarters received.

So ... assuming that Kueng has not been telling naughty porkies ... on the one hand, obsequious submission is required; on the other, the whole fundamental substructure of the Petrine Ministry is up for grabs!!

You couldn't make it up, could you?

Double standards (2), (3), and (4) are due to follow.

6 November 2017

A Pope and the Liturgy: Non Potest

Following on from my post about possible dangers to sound Liturgy arising from PF's own personal liturgical fads and his dirigiste instincts, I want to draw to the attention of readers two loci of Magisterial status. (I presume that readers are already familiar with what the then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in The Spirit of the Liturgy, when he criticised the hyperpapalism which, after Vatican II, played on an erroneous assumption that the pope can do anything. This, of course, could be argued to be non-Magisterial.)

The two places that I wish, very briefly, to draw to your attention are full exercises of a Papal Magisterium.
(1) In the Letter to the Bishops which accompanied Summorum Pontificum, pope Benedict XVI wrote "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden forbidden". Notice the expression cannot. The learned pontiff says, not "should not be"; he says "cannot be".

(2) I suspect Ratzinger of being responsible for drafting paragraph 1125 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although, of course, it was promulgated with the force of an Apostolic Constitution in 1992 by Pope S John Paul II.

The second sentence of this paragraph begins with the phrase "Ipsa auctoritas Ecclesiae suprema [Even the supreme authority of the Church itself]". This is a phrase commonly used, especially at Vatican II, of the Pope himself (although surely it would also apply to an Ecumenical Council). Next comes "non potest [is not able]". I ask you to notice that we do not have "non licet" ["he is not permitted"], nor do we have a jussive subjunctive ["he shouldn't do it"]. What is being excluded is being excluded as an impossibility. Just as S John Paul II excluded the sacerdotal ordination of women as an impossibility (nullam facultatem habere).

The sentence in the Catechism continues: "liturgiam ad placitum commutare suum [change the Liturgy in accordance with his own fads] sed solummodo in oboedientia fidei et in religiosa mysterii liturgiae observantia [but only in the obedience of the Faith and in the religious observance of the mystery of the Liturgy]."

In other words, if a pope were to attempt to change the Liturgy in accordance with his personal fads, he would be acting ultra vires. And so his attempt would be null.

I suspect we would have to go back to the principled and glorious teaching of Vatican I (Pastor aeternus) to find as clear and forthright a Magisterial statement of what a pope is not competent to do!


My apologies to readers who recognise this as the theme of a paper I have read in a number of places during the last five years, sometimes under the title "Can the pope abolish the Vetus Ordo?". I am willing to dig it out and update it and come and read it again if anyone else wants to hear it!!! Anywhere in Europe! Just my expenses!


5 November 2017

Development

Almost at the very end of the press conference to 'present' Amoris laetitia, a young woman, who, I think, was sitting next to the erudite Professor Roberto de Mattei, was allowed to ask a question. Unlike most of the hacks and hackettes, Diane Montagna asked a question ... an appeal for "clarification" ... "everybody wants to know" ... which was very short and totally to the point. She just wanted to know whether there was anything in this new document which contradicted paragraph 84 of Familiaris consortio. The question went for answer to some Austrian called von Schoenborn. He repudiated strongly the idea that there could possibly be a contradiction. But he proceeded to explain that Doctrine develops.

The Austrian gentleman referred us instead to Blessed John Henry Newman's Essay on Development. I think anybody who wants to be up-to-the-minute should reread that brilliant tour de force. Remember, incidentally, that the Blessed did not write it as a guide to how future curial spokespersons, by a neat conjuring trick, could present Change as Non-change; but as an analysis of how in fact Catholic Doctrine had in the past developed while remaining true to type.

Newman shared with S Paul the advantage of not being an Austrian aristocrat.

When Pope Francis was later asked about the coherence of Amoris laetitia, he replied by referring us all to this 'Introduction' by von Schoenborn, whom he described as a great theologian and a former secretary of the CDF. (It is a mercy that Vatican I, in defining the Primacy and Infallibility of Roman Pontiffs, did not claim that they had good memories with regard to the Curricula Vitae of their associates.)

I have recently been repeating some previous posts making clear what the Church has formally taught about DEVELOPMENT, in a Magisterium which begins with a phrase of S Paul's which was then taken up by writer after writer, pope after pope, Council after Council, until our own time.

The phrase is

                                EODEM SENSU EADEMQUE SENTENTIA.

People ought to chant this at PF whenever he .... er ... 

New readers might like to read back over these old articles of mine, which I usually published at 5 in the afternoon.

4 November 2017

Argumentum ad hominem UPDATED

UPDATE: The Bibliography attached to the Wikipaedia entry suggests that the "modern" usage is not found earlier than 1986; and that the Lockean meaning still held force in Fowler, 1926. Whoever wrote that entry appears not to have heard of Locke or to have read much literature from before the 1990s. This exemplifies another cultural problem: the erecting of barriers between the ages. C S Lewis attributes this to the activity of devils. It probably also exemplifies a decline in the study of the Classics. Another C S Lewis point ...

I seem to keep seeing, day after day, the phrase Argumentum ad hominem misused. A recent example occurred in Fr Tom Weinandy's otherwise splendid Letter to PF.

People use it now, apparently, to mean "a personal attack". That is, when you attack somebody in a violent and deeply personal way, rather than arguing politely and rationally about a question in hand. That is how Fr Tom uses it; his point is that PF and the Bergoglians refuse polite dialogue and simply hurl nasty hate-filled personal abuse around. And, of course, he's dead right. That is exactly what they do. But this is not what Argumentum ad hominem means.

Well, language changes. If enough people use Argumentum ad hominem in this incorrect sense, then I suppose one will, regretfully, have to stop calling it wrong. Usage validates. Every philologist knows that.

But I think it is a great shame that an elegant and well-observed description of a certain sort of precise argument is being taken over and forced to mean something crude which is totally different. Something useful is being lost in the field of human discourse, with no apparent compensating advantage that I am capable of discerning.

And ... I am sorry to be personal!! ... I greatly mistrust the motives of some who misuse the phrase. I think the poor things sometimes do it because they think it sounds fine and dandy to say something in Latin. I think saying something in Latin, when you think it means something quite the opposite to what it really means, is embarrassingly pretentious and, to be frank, a display of ignorance. Why not just say "You are making this attack rather personal"? What harm is there, for heaven's sake, in speaking English? It's a very respectable language ... the language of Jane Austen and Ronald Knox and C S Lewis and etc.etc..

So what really is an Argumentum ad hominem? A proper one, in its true native habitat?

Here is Locke's very neat definition: "To press a man with consequences drawn from his own Principles and Concessions".

I've written about this before, giving examples from Socrates to Newman. You could find my earlier blogposts via the search Engine attached to this blog, sub voce Argumentum ad hominem ... if you were interested.

3 November 2017

Gimme money!

Don't miss this ... a wonderfully, miraculously funny piece of hysteria in The National Catholic Reporter by an individual called Michael Sean Winters, screaming his abuse at Fr Weinandy. It is a classic, a real winner!

One little factual query. Winters says that the opponents of PF (opponents whom, incidentally, he appears to invite to leave the Church or at least her Ministry) are "well-funded and very noisy". If he would count me in this category, I would have no problem about being deemed "very noisy".

But "well-funded"? My wife and I live off our Church of England pension, with one or two modest additions. 

"Well-funded"! How do I get my hands on all this limitless loot which is apparently swilling around? Who dispenses it? To whom should I make application? Why has nobody told me about this before? How is a poor convert supposed to know about this eldorado if nobody tells him?

I want money! And I want it now! Just tell me whom to ask! 

November 5, is the Feast of the Holy Relics

However, this year, the Feast is displaced by a Sunday. But does that prevent homilists from expounding its themes at the Sunday Mass? After all, modern custom is to identify Sunday mainly with the Resurrection, and Resurrection is what the Feast of all the Holy Relics preserved in our churches is really about. (And the Mass can be said as a Votive on any free day ...)

What a wholesome liturgical instinct this festival represents. In the medieval English rites, it tried out various dates; May 22 or the Monday after the Ascension at Exeter; the Sunday after the Translation of S Thomas (July 7) at Hereford and Sarum - although Sarum notes that 'nuper' it occupied the Octave Day of our Lady's Nativity, with an appropriate Collect "Grant we beseech thee Almighty God, that the merits may protect us of the holy Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary and of thy Saints whose relics are kept in this church ...". The traditional Benedictine rite keeps this festival on May 13, presumably a learned allusion to the Dedication of the Pantheon in Rome, upon this day, as the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. Before the reforms of S Pius X, this festival was to be found among the Masses For Some Places on October 26, or on the Last Sunday of October.

After S Pius X, the Feast of the Relics settled, most appropriately, onto a day within the Octave of All Saints, November 5, where it was observed by papal indult in certain places (often as a Greater Double). The colour to be used is red. This is consistent with the fact that the Office is the Common of Many Martyrs, despite the fact that not all the Saints whose relics we this day venerate were martyred. Perhaps we may relate this usage to the primitive notion that the Martyrs are the prototypical saints; that the unmartyred sancti et sanctae in a sense just piggy-back along upon the martyrs.

The Sacred Congregation of Rites sometimes felt tempted to turn to Byzantine sources to get a richer mixture than one always finds in formal Western texts (Sessio xxv of Trent is sound enough on the relics but a trifle sober). So the proper lections at Mattins for this feast are taken from that always-reliable Doctor of the Church S John of Damascus (Fr Eric Mascall once observed the propensity of Roman liturgists to resort to Eastern sources whenever they felt moved to say something 'extreme'). "For since Life itself and the Author of Life was numbered among the dead, we do not call those who finished their last day in the hope of Resurrection and of faith in Him 'Dead'. For how can a dead body utter miracles? Through relics the devils are cast out, diseases sent fleeing, the sick healed, the blind see ..." etc. etc.. The Collect is a fine composition which likewise sees the miracles performed through the relics of Saints as pledges of the Resurrection: Increase in us O Lord our faith in the Resurrection, who in the relics of thy Saints dost perform marvellous works: and make us partakers of the immortal glory of which our veneration of their ashes [cineres] is a pledge.

This celebration disappeared from Church life in the post-Conciliar period, for presumably the same reasons that at the same time caused the Jesuits, who then occupied the Church of S Aloysius in this City, to have a massive bonfire of all the relics and reliquaries in their splendid Relics Chapel (Fr Bertram's elegant booklet about those events reminds one uncannily of the similar things which happened throughout England in the late 1540s ... mercifully, the gracious spirit of S Philip Neri has now restored lost glories by filling the Alyoggers Relics Chapel with a grand new collection).

This feast is, in my view, rich in themes for evangelical preaching and teaching, and ripe for wider revival. It teaches the goodness of material things against a false 'spiritualism'; it preaches the ultimately indissoluble link between Body and Soul against the sub-Christian notion that only the soul really matters; it proclaims the transforming eschatological glory which will clothe this perishable with what is imperishable, and this mortal with what is immortal, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

2 November 2017

Liturgical Arts Journal

Older readers will remember with affection the name of Shawn Tribe who, back in the days when Liturgical Restoration was just beginning, founded the blog New Liturgical Movement.

Mr Tribe is at it again! The Liturgical Arts Journal is now up and running, with website, facebook, and twitter presences. It cannot but be good!

Fr Weinandy

I very much regret that I have never met Fr Thomas Weinandy, whose letter to PF has just been published. He is a distinguished American theologian; he was in Oxford for a decade or two and his reputation was high when I came back here later than his return to America. He was Warden of Greyfriars, a Permanent Private Hall of the University, and for a time Chairman of the Theology Faculty.

The fact that the American Episcopal Conference, within minutes, sacked him from being a Consultor of their Doctrine Committee must indicate that America is awash with brilliant theologians. If that Conference really can so easily do without someone of his standing ...

It must also indicate that the USA Episcopal Conference is dominated by very little men. God bless the dear little fellows.

This cheap and vulgar ritual humiliation exemplifies the extent to which PF is presiding over a bully-boy Church in which midget bishops and minicardinals compete to defeat each other in the sycophancy stakes. Just as Tom Weinandy has, in effect, just said.

The young Weinandy was taught at Kings, London, by the great Anglican Thomist Canon Professor  Eric Mascall, which gives him a link with our great Anglican Patrimony. I like to think that his action redeems the honour of the American Church, just as the courageous lecture given in August by Fr Aidan Nichols redeemed that of the English Church. Nichols is an Oxford man (Cardinal College) and Weinandy is Oxonian by adoption, so I feel that dear S Frideswide Universitatis specialis adiutrix must be quietly satisfied that, despite the demonic spirit of secularisation at work in modern Oxford, some of her lads have turned out good during this unparalleled crisis in the Church Militant. Floreat Oxonia.

1 November 2017

Joseph Ratzinger

Happy All Hallows! May the Saints pray for the whole stae of Christ's Church Militant here in Earth. We need you!

This is a slightly unusual post which some people ... probably rightly ... may consider in bad taste.

Archbishop Gaenswein has described the life of emeritus pope Benedict as flickering away like a candle flame. Please God, he may yet live to give service to the Church. Back in 2013, some unwholesome individuals were already gleefully anticipating his funeral ... one of whom has actually just cheerfully suggested that Ratzinger should now campaign in support of PF! "Brazen", did you say? But nobody lives for ever. If his death is within sight, it seems to me that there are some practical points which it might be useful to make.

It will be an occasion for grief but also for retrospectives. The Media love retrospecting! It will also be a time in which even some of the nastier specimens in the bilge water of the Barque of S Peter will by convention put their gut hatred temporarily on hold. Joseph Ratzinger may, for a week, become in death more audible!

It seems to me that this should be an occasion for emphasising and showcasing what we think is important about his distinguished pontificate; not simply out of nostalgia and affection but with an eye on what needs to be emphasised for the good of the Church's ongoing life. It is my view that any of us who have any sort of entree into the Media world should have given some sort of forethought to this question.

Secondly, I have a suspicion that PF, out of a thoroughly commendable sense of decency, has not liked to savage elements of Papa Ratzinger's legacy too obviously while his predecessor is still alive. And I doubt if he would wish to do so on the very morrow of his death. But there is some evidence that PF is aware of his own mortality, and might not wait as long as he would wish before doing some spoiling. We must also not forget his unfortunate tendency to be easily influenced by some immensely dodgy people.

'Liturgy' springs to mind; and not least the position of Cardinal Sarah, around whom the Wolves ... and probably the Vultures as well ... have been circling for some time. It is rumoured that he was appointed by PF on a recommendation of Papa emeritus Ratzinger. Repeated and rather nasty public humiliations by PF have happily failed to persuade His gutsy Eminence to behave like an Anglo-Saxon and fall on his own sword. I wonder how long his heroic service to the Church in his present lonely role will survive Joseph Ratzinger's death.

Sarah, Liturgiam authenticam, and Summorum Pontificum are treasures which the Church can ill afford to lose. And they are what the Wolves particularly have their eye upon.