20 July 2018

Cardinal Allen (2)

Did I say that there remains, apart from Allen Hall, no memorial to Allen?  I erred! In Oxford, the wing of Oriel College which looks onto the High Street stands on the site of S Mary's Hall, of which, in his Oxford days, Allen had been Principal. His effigy stands there, with Cardinal Newman for company, looking devoutly across at the 1637 crowned Anglican statue of our Lady of Oxford above the porch of the University Church.

I think that if William Allen visited London now, he would be well pleased with Allen Hall; I suspect the only fault he would find with it is that it uses the Motto Vivamus in spe, which, on the website of the Hall, is translated as "We live in Hope". He would wonder, as I have often done, how it comes about that a Catholic Seminary does not possess a single member with enough Latin to know that  Vivamus does not mean "We live".

But if the admirable Cardinal were to visit the Cathedral near Victoria Station, only a short omnibus ride from Allen Hall, I think he might be puzzled and, I fear, saddened. He would see on the left as he entered some big brass tablets which claim to list the popes together with the chief pastors of the Catholic Church in England. But ...

His name is missing!!! His biographer tells us that, in the Diocesan archives, it is recorded that "Per eundem Pium V ... Alanus omnibus his missionibus praeficitur cum omni potestate spirituali ac ministrali in tali causa necessaria." If that didn't make Allen Chief Shepherd, why on earth not?

Surely, the good old man would shake a sorrowful head. (Would it cheer him up to browse through the rest of the tablets and realise that they give a list of popes which in some details differs from the 'true popes' [as opposed to antipopes] which the rest of the Catholic Church accepts? No, I share your view. I don't think it would.)

Was William Cardinal Allen left out through carelessness? Or because Cardinal Vaughan felt nervous about listing a predecessor who was so intimately bound up with the glorious enterprise called 'the Armada'?

I think it would gracious if, in the 450th year of the Foundation of his seminary, this mean injustice could be remedied.

Connoisseurs of illiterate translations of Latin could spend an enjoyable few minutes upstairs in the Cathedral Treasury where (unless matters have been corrected since I was last there) the errors include the translation of Cardinal Manning's motto. You may wonder, as I have often done, how it comes about that a major Catholic Cathedral Church does not employ a single cleric with enough Latin to know that the verb foedo does not mean "I agree".

A little more to follow.

19 July 2018

Impartial scholarship

Sometimes we are told that committed and "Christian" scholarship must be partial and biased because, well, to paraphrase Ms Mandy Rice Davies, we would say that, wouldn't we. Some years ago, in her inaugural lecture as a Professor in this University, Sarah Foot put this notion down.

She was not keen on the idea that, in order to be 'academic', the 'profession' in a modern university of a subject like ecclesiastical history has to be left to those who have a reductionist view, and who see the subject from a hostile and secularising standpoint in which Faith simply has to be considered a facade for more mundane and untheological historical processes. It is the duty of the ecclesiastical historian to restore 'their present' to earlier communities by taking them seriously. While the student does not have to be a believer, (s)he should have an empathetic (my word) understanding of the faithed humans (s)he describes.

I find it a remarkable example of diabolical skill, this idea that only those hostile to Christianity really count as impartial; as if Christians must be disqualified for having a biasing agenda but atheists are dispassionate students of their subject. I recall the passage in The Pilgrim's Regress in which C S Lewis portrays the minions of the Zeitgeist indoctrinating their prisoners:
What is the proper answer to an argument proving the existence of the Landlord [God]?
You say that because you are a Steward [priest].
Good boy ... what is the answer to an argument that two and two make four?
You say that because you are a mathematician ...

Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith of the Daughter University spent some decades restoring a genuine theological conviction to the Crusaders. And I remember particularly the words of M Schneiders in 1996, discussing early Irish liturgy: for a proper understanding of the past an affinity with the material is useful, at least if one wishes to go beyond the recovery of mere facts, if one tries to understand the people who used these texts, who celebrated Mass with these ancient prayers.

But 'useful' is too timorous a word; and Dom Gregory 'Patrimony' Dix put it so much more memorably ... well, he would, wouldn't he? ... when, writing about the Canon Romanus, he said: This very morning I 'did this' with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the Third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed. Yet 'this' can still take hold of a man's life and work with it.

18 July 2018

Lake Garda

In response to a recent correspondent: No, while at this year's fantastic Gardone Conference, I did not visit the Vittoriale. This is because I had looked round it five years ago and decided that D'Annunzio was a rather nasty little man, teeth or no teeth, whom I felt no need to revisit.

But I did go this year and look at an exquisite little octagonal Church , the Inviolata, at Riva. Four altars in addition to the High Altar; each a different design but harmoniously integrated. Stucco by David Reti; even the woodwork (doors, confessionals) within that same bracket of 1600ish to 1650.

Only one horrible incongruity: a plain wooden table stuck in front of the High Altar.

Yes yes yes yes yes. I know this sort of monstrosity is pretty common. You will tell me that what I am describing to you is hardly News. But many old churches do not aggressively flaunt their homogeneity. Indeed, it can be an agreeable experience to walk round a corner and find that you have travelled from the fifteenth to the seventeeth century. In principle, why should rounding the next corner not bring us into the twenty first century, and be praised for doing so?

But the Inviolata is so intimately of a piece; it is so very much of just one period. Even if that wooden table had been constructed to be, in the terms of the aesthetic of its own peiod, a thing of beauty, it would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

OK: Sir John Ninian 'Patrimony' Comper, having begun his oeuvre in the Gothic, spread his wings and evolved his theory and praxis of Unity by Inclusion; as, indeed Henry VII had done when he put an Italian Renaissance altar beneath the fan-vaulting of his Lady Chapel at Westminster. Martin Travers ... All this I cannot help but concede.

But ... in that little church at Riva ... this plain little table seemed to me almost diabolical in its loud narcissistic self-assertion; its hubristic mockery of the other five altars in the church.

17 July 2018

"Separated Doctors of the Catholic Church"

That is a nice phrase by Fr Aidan Nichols ... and I offer you a piece today by one of those Anglican Catholic theologians of whom Fr Aidan thinks so well: Fr Eric Mascall of Oxford.

What makes the mass one and corporate is not the fact that a lot of people are together at the same service, but the fact that it is the act of the one Christ in his Body (corpus) the Church. And I can think of no better way of making anyone understand wherein the unity and corporateness of the mass really consists than to take him into a church in which a number of priests are simultaneously celebrating private masses and to say: "Look at those men at their various altars all round the church, each of them apparently muttering away on his own and having nothing to do with the others. In fact they are all of them doing the same thing - the same essentially, the same numerically - not just a lot of things of the same kind, but the very same identical thing; each of them is taking part as a priest in the one redemptive act which Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, perpetuates in the Church which is his Body through the sacrament of his body and blood."

Mascall used to say his own mass every morning (except when he was on the Cathedral rota for a public mass) in the church where I went for daily mass as an undergraduate. How wonderful it would be if the scene he describes returned to the life of our churches ... just imagine the basilica at Lourdes every morning with a constant coming and going of priests to the altars of the fifteen mysteries.

Those fifteen altars, like so many in the thousands of churches of Latin Christendom, are now left unused ... in the Byzantine phrase, they are left "fasting". Thus is an apostasy which grew up after Vatican II perpetuated.

A little more about this subject tomorrow.

16 July 2018

Sorry ...

 ... but I'm taking another break from incoming messages ... perhaps for some ten days. Then I'll look at what has been sent.

Deo volente, my posts will still pop up daily.

PF and the Ordinariates

There was a circumstantial account, when the Ordinariates were set up, that Archbishop Bergoglio invited to breakfast the [Anglican] Archbishop of the Southern Cone ... or something ... and cheered him up by telling him that he disapproved of the action.

Some weeks ago, PF spoke to a delegation from the Moskow Patriarchate and assured them, very categorically, of his most profound disapproval, and prohibition, of 'Uniatism' [to be fair, there was one brief clause asserting the rights of the existing sui iuris Churches].

I think this more or less confirms the old story.

PF also reiterated on this occasion his belief in the practical irrelevance of doctrine.

The text was immensely characteristic.

15 July 2018

Personally ...

Brother Yankie Doodle, who has not always been averse to Changing Regimes throughout the World, is all of a sudden getting enormously indignant about Brother Russkie interfering in his politics. I find this richly hilarious.

But, a fortiori, if it is true that American political structures really are so risibly fragile, so vulnerable to a sharp little fixer like Vladimir Vladimirovich, you'd think Yankie Doodle would want to conceal such a humiliating fact rather than boasting about having been made such a laughing stock.

I shall never understand the Yankie national mindset (I am not assisted by the fact that most Americans I know tell me that they also fail to understand it). But if DT and VV really were to establish a fruitful relationship, I think it could be very good for all of us.

Perhaps all those Nasty Neocons might be dressed up in orange jumpsuits and then Specially Renditioned to Siberia or to a waterboarding facility on a rapidly melting Arctic ice floe somewhere to the North of Murmansk.

14 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 6 [Conclusio]

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 July 2018

Hey Ho ...

 ... desptite my dissuasives, there will probably be some  Comments offered during my period sequestered from incoming traffic. I am about to go through them ...

Christine Mohrmann, 1 August 1903 - 13 July 1988

Today is the (30th) obit of one of the greatest intellectual figures of the last century. Mohrmann it was who demonstrated that Liturgical Latin, like Liturgical Greek (and one thinks of Church Slavonic and Church Coptic), was an artificial construct deliberately invented so as to be as worthy as possible for the August Sacrifice (forget the creaky old Protestant and 1960s superstition that 'the Primitive Church' was dead set on 'vernacular' liturgies designed to be 'understanded of the people').

One of the tragedies of the 1960s was that a particular version of a 'Liturgical Movement' got its grip upon the minds of superficial 'professional liturgists' who had their sticky hands upon the levers of power. Men (yes, I think they were all men) who were deaf to Mohrmann's scholarship and her immense erudition. Men (well, let us say half-men) who knew what was best for little Johnny and insisted on little Johnny's jaws being clamped open while they force-fed him with their revolting gruel.

In those middle years of that century there were other very competent women liturgists. I wonder if the "Liturgical Reform" would have been less disastrous if it had not been forced through by an insensitive illiterate narrow-minded fascist androcracy.

Curious, isn't it, that our male culture went pretty well straight from a crass and arrogant assumption that the little woman had little capacity for intelligent thought, all the way to a servile and creepy subordination to every whimsy of femino-fascism.

Men are such odd creatures.

12 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 5

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

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

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

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

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

11 July 2018


The Society's General Chapter, so I believe, begins today.

We live in times when faithful Catholics, whenever they meet, exchange views about the present situation in the Whole State of Christ's Church Militant Here in Earth. This must inevitably also be true of the SSPX. And, all the more so, since the Society cannot avoid being compelled to make prudential judgements about its own relationships with the Holy See.

One can only feel immense compassion for those involved in such decisions. On the one hand, the Society's bishops are now thirty years older than when they were consecrated. If they were to be supplemented sine mandato Apostolico, that would incur new excommunications latae sententiae; so there would have been a real step backwards in de facto relationships.

On the other hand, nobody needs to be reminded of the way Rome is capable of treating those whom it has at its mercy. And, despite the rhetoric, Mercy is not a hallmark of the present regime.

Being a cynic, I tend to think that any agreement ought to secure the independant financial state of this dear and admirable Society, so that, if subsequently there were Roman bad faith, the Society could resume its former course undamaged. 'Hands off the Cash and the Property' seems to me a most important consideration. Collaring the Kaboodle appeared to be one of the main motives of the savage Visitatorial regime imposed upon the Franciscans of the Immaculate. But what can I know about the intricacies of the present situation?

What I am sure of is that the members of the Society are our beloved brethren in the Lord for whom at this time we have a considerable obligation to pray. And, in doing so, also to give thanks for all that the SSPX has done for the maintenance of the Faith.

As one of those who generated the Filial Correction, I cannot forget that H E Bishop Fellay was the only Successor of the Apostles who gave it his signature.

10 July 2018

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

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

Klaus Gamber viewed the 1965 form of the Roman Rite as effectively the last form of that Rite. Archbishop Lefebvre used 1965 until, in the mid 1970s, he decided to revert to 1962 (during the 1960s he had allowed his Holy Ghost Fathers only two 'vernacular Masses' a week).

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 3

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

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

8 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 2

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

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

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

7 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 1

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

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

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

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

6 July 2018

The Macarrick Scandal and Kieran Conry

Fr Lucie-Smith has recently written in the Catholic Herald "Given that his alleged misbehaviour has been widely rumoured for some time (I myself heard some of these stories when I was a student in Rome in 2000), it is only natural to ask why he was made a bishop, then an archbishop, and finally a cardinal, if his faults were common knowledge. If the people who were responsible for the appointments did not know, then they must explain their ignorance."

This precisely mirrors the unease I have several times expressed on this blog (apologies to regular readers) about the Kieran Conry Scandal.

Here again, rumours were rife within Sussex. And at least one account questioning his suitability had occurred in print around the time of his Consecration.

We have never been given any explanation of how he attained the episcopate. Not unnaturally, there have been rumours that Cormack M-O'C was involved. It may not be easy to check this, but presumably there are paper trails of some sort in the Nunciature and in Rome.

The plain fact is that the Great and the Good stick by each other. I believe that the case of the Anglican Bishop Peter Ball is currently under review in the British enquiry into sexual abuse. I remember speaking to one of Ball's highly placed 'Establishment' supporters about his misbehaviour, and being very loftily put down. And this even happened after he had accepted a police caution and resigned his diocese. Ball and his grand chums were by then putting it around that, although innocent, he had accepted the police caution in order to save the Church [of England] embarrassment.

The Conry business is, I am sure, quietly buried, and for good.

I would think more highly of the CBCEW if this were not so.

Lucie-Smith is right. Such appointments are too important to be left at the mercy of grand people who make remarks in the ears of other grand people.

Grand people do not always know best. Indeed, it can be surprising how often they get so many things wrong. This can be because they are so susceptible to the deceits of other grand people.

5 July 2018

Michael Moreton and the Canon of the Mass (2)

Letter dated 11 July 2000.

"I agree that the inclusion of intercessions in the eucharistic prayer is important. But what distinguishes these intercessions from those of the oratio universalis in the Synaxis is that the latter are general in scope, while in the eucharistic prayer they are directly related to those who share in the oblations. Where the eucharistic prayer is defective in regard to the oblation and epiclesis, the character of the intercessions is undermined. 

" ... reactions to Common Worship are altogether too bland. [Anglican] Catholics need to adopt a far more critical attitude.

"[Anglican] Catholics will never get a satisfactory EP out of the Liturgical Commission and the General Synod. Geoffrey Willis and E C Ratcliff saw this at the very beginning when they resigned over draft Series Two. Our forebears in the Catholic Revival were on the right lines when they saw that the only alternative to the BCP is the Roman Canon - I mean in the English Missal. That is what we must encourage people to use."

4 July 2018

Michael Moreton and the Canon of the Mass (1)

The Reverend Michael Moreton, Prebendary of Exeter, was the last of the great Anglican liturgical scholars of the twentieth century to die. I had the pleasure and honour of his acquaintance. While sorting through some old files the other day, I came across two letters from him, which I will share with you.

Why should you be interested in the views of some Anglican? Because, quite simply, the problems about which he wrote were essentially the very same liturgical problems at the heart of the worship of the modern Catholic Church. Fr Michael put his finger right on the heart of the problem.

The first is dated 29 June 2000. I omit some personalia.

"There has been, so far as I am aware, a muted reaction to my critique of the eucharistic prayers in Common Worship [the Anglican liturgical book which had just come into use]. At a meeting ... there seemed to be an uncritical acceptance of these prayers, and puzzlement that I should find them defective ... . And while I have heard nothing but enthusiasm for Christ our Future [an Anglo-Catholic celebration of the opening of the new millennium], no one seems to have had any misgivings about the eucharistic prayer that was used. Brian Brindley, its part-author, had no illusions about its evasive language, and never used it himself. He must be smiling inwardly that Forward in Faith Catholics should be sold on it now.

"One has to distinguish, I think, between legality and authority in the eucharistic prayer. Getting on for thirty eucharistic prayers have had legality conferred upon them in as many years in the Church of England, which shows how confused Anglicans are in this matter. But the Roman Canon has an authority which it shares with the Canon of Scripture, the Canon of Faith, and canonical order. In my opinion Forward in Faith should stand by this authority, recognising that it will never get past the General Synod."

The second letter, tomorrow.

3 July 2018

S Irenaeus

S Irenaeus, God bless him, neatly divides the calendars of the Roman Rite. Those excellent people who follow the 1962 books, whether in the mainstream or in the SSPX, keep S Irenaeus today, July 3. Novus enthusiasts kept it on June 28. But there is a third group; principled eccentrics who use the St Lawrence ORDO. In this ORDO, often commended on my blog, the calendar employed is the Roman Calendar as it was before the Pontificate of Pius XII, in 1939. And that calendar has S Irenaeus on ... the Novus Ordo date, of June 28 (where you can say Mass of the Vigil of Ss Peter and Paul with commemoration of S Irenaeus, or of of S Irenaeus with commemoration of the Vigil, and Last Gospel of the Vigil; happily, the Octave of S John Baptist also gets a look in).

Because the 1962 date of S Irenaeus is a very ephemeral phenomenon, designed to get him off the Vigil of the Apostles. Earlier usage had no problem with combining celebrations; but in the early 1960s we were already going down the path of the Enlightenment/Bugnini rigidities, which disallow any sort of combinations and austerely insist that one Mass has one theme - and no more. So Saint and Vigil had to be disentangled. But when the whole old system of vigils was itself abolished, the mandarins in charge of the calendar after the Council had nothing to prevent them from cheerfully bunging S Irenaeus back onto his original date.

So S Irenaeus was on July 3 for less than a decade.

I suspect you discern the direction I am going. The 1962 calendar is neither unchangeable nor, in fact, ideal. Would it be disastrous to revise it gently, so that, at least, where the Novus Ordo calendar is in line with an earlier form of the Roman Calendar, 1962 came into line with the pair of them?

There is, I think, an increasing tendency to realise that 1962 is a problem; rather betwixt and between as a liturgical dispensation. There is an increasing interest in forms of the post-Tridentine Rite which were unmarked by the fashions of the mid-twentieth century. I do not share the detestation of '1962' which some of my friends have; not least, because once a priest has taught himself the use of the 1962 Ordo Missae, he has got over the major hurdle in the way of the appropriation of the pre-Pius XII rite. This just  has to be a big step in the right direction. But I am sure that it is a good thing for a priest to have a broader and more balanced understanding of the history of the Roman Rite in the twentieth century, rather than simply thinking of '1962' as "the Old Rite".

2 July 2018

...ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam!!

What marvellous occasions Ordinations are. This last weekend, my friends Oliver, Thomas, and Jonathan were ordained to the Sacred priesthood; Oliver in and for the Oxford Oratory, Thomas and Jonathan in the Birmingham Oratory (together with a crowd of other Ordinariate ordinandi). Friends? Well, we have spent many happy hours reading Latin texts together. Need I say more? And Thomas was a member of the 'Oxford Ordinariate Group' which began life in the little Church of S Thomas the Martyr iuxta Ferriviam Oxoniensium.

That both ordinations took place in an Oratorian Church will surprise nobody and will be a sufficient guarantee to sensible readers that things were done superbly well. And a reminder of the crucial role which dear kind S Philip is playing, especially in Anglophone Catholicism. Together, needless to say, with his Son Blessed John Henry Newman.

The Benedict Renaissance did not fizzle out with the end of that pontificate; the sanctuaries this weekend crowded with mainly young priests and seminarians look to me like the dawn of that youthful and revitalised Catholic Church which must surely be in God's promise; served by priests who have heard the assurance "My Immaculate Heart will prevail".

The disaster-bemoaners who claim all over the Internet that the Church is in calamitous melt-down should try to get out more ... to Ordinariate Churches; to Oratories; to Ordinations! Be happy! When I am Pope, I shall issue Plenary Indulgences galore for all who Laugh within two hours of the end of an Ordination.

I have seen the future, and it does work!

1 July 2018

S Aaron

Today, Feast of the Most Precious Blood, is also in some places the Feast of S Aaron, a mighty Pontiff. I will not be so condescending as to imply that you need me to explain the appropriateness of such a coincidence!!

A too-forgotten but great churchman of the last century, Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger, in the epitaph for himself that he composed and is still to be read in Notre Dame de Paris, listed S Aaron as his first Patron (and regarded himself as always a Jew, a "fulfilled Jew"). He suffered quite a bit from Jewish bigots who could not handle the phenomenon of "fulfilled Jews". As Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, he was observed celebrating a Qaddish for his mother, who had died in Auschwitz. He was a close friend and collaborator of S John Paul II, Papa Wojtyla.

Before the Ritualists began their great 'ecclesiological' mission of "Back to 1549", many Anglican Churches, in those days when the Eucharistic Celebrant stood at the North End of the Altar of Sacrifice, had a picture of S Aaron, vestments and thurible and all, above the Celebrant (and one of S Moses above the South End, where a deacon or Assistant Priest might stand). I think this may survive in S Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge.

One of the great tragedies of the corruption of Catholic Worship which followed (but was most definitely not mandated by) 'the Council' was the elimination of the old Prayer of Consecration of a Latin Catholic Bishop, which made typological references to the Vesture of the Aaronic priesthood.

Sancte Aaron, ora pro nobis.

30 June 2018


From today and for two weeks, I shall not be reading emails or moderating comments. But I still hope that there will be daily posting on this blog.

The Visitation and the Precious Blood

How very ruthless of the post-Conciliar 'reforms': Westminster Cathedral, overnight, lost its Patronal Festival when the 'reformers' reduced July 1 to a feria on the almost sacrilegiously flippant grounds that the Precious Blood would get a perfectly adequate 'covering' by being merely added to the title of Corpus Christi. Sad little men. Thus a gorgeous piece of B Pius IX liturgy disappeared: the Solemn Festival he had placed on the calendar to commemorate his return to the City after the Roman Revolution of 1848. (There is nothing vulgar, incidentally, about doing that sort of thing to the calendar, or, if there is, it is simply the vulgarity of an incarnational religion. Byzantine calendars are richly and very appropriately peppered with such observances related to events in Christian history.)

Incidentally, on the same occasion B Pius IX also raised our Lady's Visitation from a Greater Double to a Double of the Second Class. Urban VI had fitted that festivity onto July 2 as a prayer for Unity. It was the first day available after the Octave of S John, and had long been, among Byzantines, the Feast of the Deposition of the Protecting Robe of the Theotokos in the great Basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople. All that, even the Ecumenical relevance of it, was treated in the post-Conciliar 'reforms' as so much extravagance to be shovelled away: and so the Visitation had a more 'logical' date discovered for it.

B Pius IX's original date for the Precious Blood had been the First Sunday in July. It was the reforms of S Pius X that shifted the Festival onto July 1. S Pius X's liturgists felt, in my view rightly, that too many of the old Roman Sunday Masses were unused on their Sundays year after year because so many feasts were permanently anchored on "the xth Sunday of such-a-month". S Pius X's change did not, of course, mean that the Precious Blood never fell upon a Sunday; it meant that it only fell on a Sunday once every six or seven years. And, with a pastoral flexibility which characterised papal liturgical interventions before the fateful, deplorable collaborazione between Pius XII and Hannibal, S Pius X still allowed, for pastoral reasons, all the Masses on the First Sunday of July to be of the Precious Blood even though the festival had been moved.

So, this year, when July 1 and the First Sunday in July coincide, we have a sense of this great Feast as B Pius IX first intended it; the magnificent public opening of the Month of the Most Precious Blood. For those who use 'the Old Breviary' there are the superb Office Hymns. The one provided for Lauds relates particularly well to the old English devotion to the Five Wounds. [The English Catholic Hymn Book gives the Vespers hymn in translation; and Viva viva Gesu, of course, appears in modern hymnals as 'Glory be to Jesus'.]

During the Month of the Precious Blood, perhaps the Litany authorised by S John XXIII could be dusted off and given an airing ... I wonder if any Byzantine poet has ever composed a Paracletic Canon in honour of the Precious and Life-giving Blood of our Most Holy Redeemer.

29 June 2018

Adolph Merkel

How cruel they were, those Greek graffiti artists and cartoonists a decade ago, who portrayed Angela Merkel, whom they saw as their financial oppressor, with a fascist moustache.

But now Germany has been ejected from the World Cup (and by South Korea!!!). The last time this happened so early in the Cup was, we are told, eighty years ago in 1938. (So if, in some Pub Quiz, you are asked what Adolph's and Angela's Germanies had in common, you know the answer.) O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! (rendered by RAK as "O trisbakarton hemar: o kalou kala"). Or to quote Alcaeus, Nun Khre methusthen kai tina per bian/ ponen ... [Do it now! It's a Must! Get drunk! Go right over the top with your tippling!]

And Argentina! Holed below the waterline by dear plucky little Croatia!! What a game that was! Will the Argies' next game prove their final Belgrano?

What fun Footie is when the Baddies get clobbered!

I feel we probably ought to be making the most of it ...

Nota explicativa: demotic English antipathies tend not to have any relation with past wars, but, rather, with hubris thought to have been exhibited on the Games' Field. Hubris is the Greek equivalent of the Spanish Maradonna.

28 June 2018

Dog Days

It's a bit hot here at the moment. A lot of people are going mad.

I've just heard two separate "meteorologists" on the telly telling their poor duped public that we are now in the Dog Days.

Really? Has the Heliacal Rising of Sirius truly occurred as early as this in 2018? Why didn't these jokers warn us to get up early so as to watch such a cosmos-shaking event? However can such uncovenanted and irregular celestial phenomena be reconciled with the austere, regimented assumptions of post-Enlightenment Astronomy?

Readers will of course recall Conon, Astronomer of Ptolemy III Euergetes, who inspired Callimachus to describe the catasterised Plokamos of Queen Berenice as calling for a sky-wide muddling of the constellations. Perhaps, nearly 2,300 years later, this has finally happened!!

[Incidentally, I'm rather tempted by a newish theory which identifies the first two lines of Catullus LXVII as really the last two lines of LXVI. The Veronensian archetype lacked a division between these poems (which was, I imagine, inserted by Renaissance editors). This theory would draw support from the fragments of the Callimachean papyrus published by Pfeiffer, who himself comjectured Kh[airete.]

Alternatively, possibly the "meteorologists" have simply been driven berserk by using too much over-perfumed hair-oil. Perhaps some controlled analysis should be undertaken to establish whether the females among them, the bright-eyed bimbos who undulate so winsomely in front of their weather maps, are currently miarotatai and, if so, precisely to what extent.

We need to know.

27 June 2018

RUSSIA and Lord Houghton

At least three times people have been killed in our towns in circumstances in which it is very easy to suspect some elements somewhere in the Russian machine of awareness or even collusion (the Bulgarian Umbrella; the Polonium Tea; the Novichok). It is difficult not to feel aggrieved about what happened in Salisbury. Even if, in a crude way, the Russians might feel that they have a right to deal with their own people on our streets, they need to understand that when others, including one of our policeman, suffer, we can hardly smile and do nothing. Mutatis mutandis, they jolly well wouldn't.

You're right; there's a BUT coming. After the Fall of Communism, the first thought of many in the West was to move the borders of NATO and the EU right up to the borders of the Russian Federation. There was no recollection that Russia had been invaded by both Napoleon and Hitler, with disastrous cost to the Russian people. Russia, despite the phobias of the Cold War period, has never invaded the West.

In our Meejah and government circles, there appear no signs of proper respect for the Russian people. The best Russia can exspect, apparently, is lectures about 'Human Rights' and the iniquity of locking up the feminists who behaved blasphemously in a Cathedral; and the overwhelming importance of  "Gay Rights". (In my view, each day it becomes clearer that Western "Human Rights" are a facade for something diabolically nasty.)

There are arguments that Russian policy in Syria is at least less culpable than the behaviour of those Western powers including my own which aided and abetted the "Arab Spring", that radix malorum. The continuing disorders in Afghanistan remind us that the Taliban are still fighting with the weapons given them by the CIA in order to destabilise a legitimate Russian sphere of influence in that area.

I really do believe that the time has come for a new start, in which there will be recognition that Russia and we do have common interests. And that mutual respect might pay better dividends than disdain and 'sanctions'.

Curiously, I drafted this some time ago, and yesterday morning Nick Houghton said a lot of the same stuff in an interview on the Beeb. Nick used to be Chief of the Defence Staff (what we once called Chief of the Imperial General Staff before our cousins across the water explained to us that we were not allowed to have an Empire any more). Upon retirement he was given a life peerage, because over here we have a ridiculous and almost powerless institution called the House of Lords, which is really simply a very grand national debating chamber. The convention is that retired persons who have been eminent in different walks of life join it after retirement. Thus their experience is retained in the service of the Kingdom. It is a totally lunatic system which works remarkably well.

There are times when I wonder if we would have a more peaceful world if decisions concerning War and Peace were made by admirals and generals rather than by politicians.

26 June 2018

Pugin and Sarum

A kind friend has given me a small but perfectly formed book on Pugin: Beyond 'Puginism' by Gerard J Hyland (Spire Books and the Pugin Society).

Hyland demonstrates that, during his 'middle period' when he was much influenced by Dr Rock, Pugin deliberately built his churches in the hope that they would be used for the celebration of the Sarum Rite (Pugin's Pre-Rock and post-Rock inclinations differed: read the book for yourselves!). Thus: at Cheadle, he provided an Easter Sepulchre and sedilia designed to be occupied in the Sarum way with the Priest higher up and to the East of the Deacon (Tridentine custom is to have the Celebrant between the Deacon and the Subdeacon). How do we know Pugin intended this? - because he had a carved chalice and paten over the priest's seat and the Gospel Book carved over the deacon's.

Hyland gives reasons for thinking that Dr Rock celebrated the Sarum Rite at Alton Towers; and that it had been used during Holy Week at Oscott. I am more doubtful about the second claim, since it would mean that Nicholas Wiseman had taken leave of his usual Romanita

I have seen suggestions that Sarum was used in the reign of James II, but without evidence. I regard the possibility as real, since, although we tend to think of His Majesty as the King who sacrificed his throne because of his pro-papal convictions, in fact James' understanding of Monarchy vis-a-vis Papacy seems to have been rather Gallican. And ... again without chapter and verse ... I have heard it claimed that, when Westminster Cathedral was mooted, the possibility of restoring 'Sarum' was urged.

More recently, I believe a Pastor in valle Adurni did Sarum in Merton College Chapel until it was suggested to him that he should, er, stop. And, even more recently than that, a complete rendering of the Sarum Ordo Missae in Cranmerian pastiche was put together for use in the Ordinariates ... but the plan failed since the Americans and the Australians were unkeen.

(Personally, I think the methodology which led to the current Ordinariate Mass was correct.)

25 June 2018


Revisiting one of our Oxfordshire medieval churches the other day, I helped myself to one from a pile of Ordination Cards on the table at the back. It invited prayers for a woman called ***, who thinks that she is going to be ordained to the Diaconate later this month.

It was curiously unlike the breathless cards which used to circulate in my day. I don't think I kept any of those sent around by my contemporaries. A pity; they represent the sort of potentially significant ephemera which will not survive. They tended to give information about the ordaining bishop ... and, more importantly, lists of Saints who might intercede for the ordinand and his prospective parish. A pious and popish prayer often featured. Some theologically significant artwork. And the new address.

There was very little on ***'s card except for butterflies. There were about thirty of these (I made three attempts to count them, but ended up with a different total each time).

My wife justly complains that I am rarely at a loss for a theory about anything you might care to name, but ... 'onest injun* ... the connection between the Diaconate and Butterflies, has me stymied. I can't think of a single ...

... Ah, but Stay. A thought has just occurred to me. The beginning of a theory, indeed. Now don't hurry me.

I'm almost sure I recollect a phrase somewhere in P G Wodehouse in which the sort of chappie who flutters without commitment from girl to girl is likened to a butterfly. Is that somehow relevant?

*Is this phrase now Politically Incorrect?

24 June 2018

Art Historians again. And dear Auntie Tablet

Long time readers of this blog will remember a time when, to a high degree of tedium, I used frequently to attack art historians for their treatment of the Latin language. It was not so much that I resented their ignorance of Larin; many people are ignorant of Latin and I am myself ignorant of very many very important languages. It was their illiterate belief that by picking up a Latin dictionary and thumbing through the pages, they could, in complete ignorance of Latin Grammar, cobble together a "translation". A fine example of this was (I haven't checked recently to see if the howler is still there) the label attached to a cope of Cardinal Manning, mistranslating his motto. Of all places, this is to be seen in the Treasury attached to that big Victorian-Byzantine-style Church next to Victoria Station.

I have complained less about this failing among 'professional Art Historians' in recent years because I am getting older and weaker and with a lower exhaustion threshold, and tend to do the London Exhibitions less frequently. But the Tablet provides an example in its current on-line edition.

A Relic of Pope S Clement has, happily, made its way to Westminster Cathedral, a large church in what the Victorians thought of as the Byzantine style (situated next to Victoria Station). It is labelled
Ex Oss S Clementis P M

A person described as a Deputy Keeper at the V and A explained to the Tablet that PM probably stood for Proto Martyris. This is rubbish, partly because Protomartyr is one word and not two; more importantly, because S Clement was not the Church's Protomartyr. That role fell to S Stephen.

The words stand for Ex Oss[ibus] S[ancti] Clementis P[apae] M[artyris] ('From the bones of S Clement, Pope, Martyr.')

(Conceivably, P M might be for Pontificis Maximi, but I strongly incline to Papae Martyris because that is how S Clement is described in the Calendar.)

Some years ago, the V and A had a rather good exhibition on the Baroque, which was damaged by the amazing degree of ignorance shown in the catalogue about the Catholic Religion. I commented then that the V and A staff could have strolled next door and asked the learned Oratorians of Brompton for help, accompanying this, of course, with the assurance of a proper professional fee for their expertise.

The same dearth of zimmer frames applies in this case.

And I wonder if the people at Westminster Cathedral have corrected their own howlers yet. They were informed about them by ... not me, but by others. Seems peculiar to me that a Church which boasts of being the Mother Church of English Catholicism has nobody on its staff who knows Latin, but that is another matter. Veterum Sapientia of S John XXIII is the Background Reading here.

23 June 2018


It was reported, during the Chilean Abuse Scandal, that lengthy documents were delivered to Cardinal O'Malley which he undertook to forward to PF. PF subsequently, angrily, claimed that nobody had told him about the Scandal. (Or so the accounts allege: vide exempli gratia the report, with photograph, in the Irish Times of 6 February 2018.).

And now a news agency called Reuters, which is generally considered to have a reputation for objectivity and honesty, is claiming that PF says he only learned about the Dubia from the newspapers.

I do not think it is right or properly respectful, or even Christian, to jump to the conclusion that PF is a liar. There are at least two other clear possibilities:

(1) That he is starting to have what people call 'Senior Moments'. If this is so, then clearly some sort of competent and tactful medical intervention is called for. Benedict XVI resigned because he felt he could no longer properly perform his duties. As an honourable man, surely PF would wish to be told honestly and frankly if his mental capacities are deteriorating.

(2) That some person whose duty it was to place ... physically ... important documents into the Pope's hands, failed to do so. In view of the stories circulating about PF's violent outbursts of temper, it would perhaps be humanly understandable if one or more of his staff do habitually conceal or destroy documents likely to drive him into intemperate rages. But such a possibility is in itself gravely worrying.

And there may very probably be other possibilities which readers will be able to imagine.

Meanwhile, it would surely be a good thing if efficient office procedures were put in place. These would include specific individuals signing for documents, so that a precise paper trail existed of where significant documents actually got to. Secular organisations seem able to manage such accountability questions with routine good sense, or else are justly criticised when they fail to do so. I believe British ministers are expected to initial documents in their Red Boxes when they have read them.

The Catholic Church sets great store by the Petrine Office. And rightly so. It is profoundly rooted in Scripture and Tradition. And this carries with it a duty of proper and proportionate respect for the individual who occupies that post. But that individual himself ought to have a proper respect for the post he occupies. And this has practical implications.

Perhaps the archives of the CDF will be able to reveal whether their copy of the Dubia arrived in their Office on the day their Eminences have stated, thus giving prima facie evidence that the Cardinals are telling the truth. And Cardinal Mueller must know whether he duly discussed the matter with PF. It would do the Church no harm at all if it were seen to embrace a culture of openness; of giving Truth a priority.

There need be no confusions about simple questions such as whether something that PF should have read, actually did reach him. Public Meejah discussions about whether PF or the Four Cardinals ... and Cardinal O'Malley ... are honest men, do the Church's reputation no good at all.

22 June 2018

The Anglicans prepare to flush Ecumenism away

UPDATE: I published this last December. Now, voices are heard in England, from Anglican Clergy and lawyers, advocating an attack upon the integrity of the seal of the Confessional.

Rumour has it that the Anglican Church in Australia is modifying or has modified the Seal of the Confessional so that Anglican Clergy may report paedophiles to the police. This happens at the same time as legal pressures, I gather, are growing in Australia to compel (all) clergy to report such offences to the police. (Unsurprisingly, similar suggestions have been made before the British Royal Commission on Sex Abuse ... but not, I think, by Anglican clergy. Tell me if I'm wrong!)

One argument brought forward is that if a child mentions such activity while confessing, they are not really confessing a sin of their own. The answer to this seems to me fairly simple. ("My dear, I need you to come to me outside this confessional and to tell me again what Uncle X did to you. Then I will be able to help both you and Uncle X properly".)

If the information in my first paragraph is accurate, then I believe that a very serious situation is arising for ecumenical dialogue, and especially for the now-pointless (but still-expensive) organisation called ARCIC. This dialogue was set up on the explicit premise that the old disagreements inherited from the Reformation period would be sorted out, and that neither 'side' would put in place new divergences. I wonder if this question of the Seal of the Confessional was ever discussed at any level of 'ecumenical dialogue', nationally or internationally.

In English Anglican Canon Law (Canon 113 of 1604, never repealed), the provisions for the Seal of the Confessional are for practical purposes the same as they are for Catholics (the Anglican canon does, I regretfully admit, permit the Seal to be broken if, otherwise, the priest himself would incur the death penalty for not reporting some matter ... but there cannot be many offences for which a priest can be strung up under modern Australian or British law).

Of course, the ARCIC understanding that neither side would introduce new divergences was bull-dozed out of the way in order to allow for the 'ordination' of women to sacerdotal ministries within most Anglican provinces. But this new divergence concering the seal of the Confessional is, in some ways, even graver. You see, with the Anglicans going down this path, things will become much more difficult for Catholic clergy who may be prosecuted for not delating paedophile penitents. Catholic clergy will have been hung out to dry by their Anglican 'friends'.

The Anglicans will also have made it easier for Catholic priests to be sent to prison for contempt of court ... because, of course, a Catholic priest in the witness box is unable even to say "I never heard that in my Confessional", because one is not allowed to say anything about what transpires there. Or even to indicate it by a nod or a wink or a hint or an allusion.

Some moralists used to argue that one could deny having heard something in the confessional by assuming "I heard it while acting as a conduit to God; I did not hear it qua Father X". But this would have the unfortunate effect of providing a court with evidence for the innocence of a guilty defendant.

And it's even nastier than that. Anglican clergy (especially but not only in the diocese of Sidney) hear very few confessions compared with the numbers that Catholic clergy hear. So the Anglicans are abandoning their Catholic 'partners in ecumenical dialogue' to be persecuted by the agents of the Zeitgeist with regard to a subject which really matters very little to the overwhelming majority of  Anglicans.

It reminds me of how some Orthodox collaborated with Stalinism in the persecution of their fellow-Christians.

Ultimately, this whole business is a symbol of the determination of the secular state to leave no corner of space or moment of time outside its own iron grip. Under cover of protecting children, Christ the King will have been even more effectively uncrowned. Am I alone in detecting here all the hallmarks of the Enemy?

Well, so be it. But it's a shame the Anglicans too are so keen to kick us in the teeth. After all those hypocritical decades of wet nonsense about 'Ecumenism'. Perhaps it's just that they find it so terribly hard to get out of the habit of persecuting us. But there is no need to worry, is there: in a century or two, with tears of emotion in their eyes, their successors will formally apologise to our successors. That will make everything All Right, won't it?

21 June 2018


I don't know that I warm to our new Public Orator. In the 1950s, dear Dacre Balsdon, in his sweet book Oxford Life, referred to the Orator at Encaenia as delivering Orations "studded with vile puns", but vilitude can surely be taken too far. Yesterday, presenting Professor Mary Beard, Mr Orator gave us "Num cuiquam alii inter studiosos nostros antehac tabula picta PAENE-APotheosis concessa est ?" which, so the accompanying crib explained, puns on the word 'pin-up'. (I don't think, anyway, that, even in hormone-dominated adolescence, I would ever have pinned Ms Beard up, even had I known her, which I didn't, and even if I had possessed any pins, which I didn't.) Indeed, puns, in my view should not need recondite explanations redolent of the Alexandrian Library on a Bad Hair Day. But how, without a crib, could one spot (this was in the Oration introducing my Lord Neuberger) that "MENS" punned upon the Hebrew: "mentsh among the Menschen"?

Still, there were interesting nuggets in the Creweian Oration. Mr Orator revealed that both Horace and Cicero were Oxford Men. I can only imagine that this is a recently discovered goody from the somewhat disordered early archives of the University. Perhaps it will soon appear in the Zeitschrift fuer Papyrologie und Epigraphik, possibly in the exciting Papyrus Obbink series. Mind you, I have never believed all that stuff about Boadicea having founded the University. I know that one should not rely too heavily upon an argumentum ex silentio, but the fact that Tacitus nowhere mentions her role as a fautrix litterarum latinarum seems to me decisive.

I have always suspected, however, that Rousham was the Sabine Farm; and I am sure that its stretch of the Cherwell is the fons Bandusiae. One of these days, I shall surreptitiously sacrifice a kid there.

20 June 2018

1968-1986: a miracle of evanescence

A kind friend has sent me a little booklet from 1968, put out by the American bishops to prepare priests and people for the new Eucharistic Prayers, authorised by Rome that year. It appears to be a translation of something published by the Sacred Congregation of Rites.

It seems to flutter down out of another world ... a world in which it is anticipated that ordinary folks will henceforth go around referring to Eucharistic Prayers as "anaphoras"; in which parish priests will be giving catechesis on the various elements of a Eucharistic Prayer. Here's a jolly bit which you will all much enjoy: "The world-wide and ecumenical horizons of the Second Vatican Council and also those of the so-called theology of secular values will find here a discrete, biblical and real reflection".

One intriguing detail: it says "The third eucharistic prayer ... could be used alternately with the Roman Canon for [=on?] Sundays". If only ... if only ...

By 1986, Enrico Mazza in The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite, was to write of the Roman Canon that "its use today is so minimal as to be statistically irrelevant".

But, when all is said and done, there was, back in 1968, a sense of excitement about the New, which you young things will find it hard to imagine. I remember buying with eager anticipation, just a few weeks after I was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, the first Vatican Press print of the Latin text of the new Ordo Missae.

(I bought it down in the dear old Newman Bookshop opposite Christ Church, where one could find in the back room such intriguing things ... I acquired a proof edition of Knox's In three tongues ... there were endless old copies of the Eastern Churches Quarterly and of Sobornost ... Someone called Timothy Ware was often scavenging there ... he told me he had managed to put together a complete set of the ECQ. I've often wondered what happened to him subsequently. He did Mods and Greats a couple of years ahead of me. He must be getting on a bit now, I suppose. I'm sure he has long-since grown out of his 'byzantine' phase, as most of us have.)

Exciting days, yes. Nowadays, the poor old Novus Ordo is anything but exciting and new. Arthritic, rather, and with poor wind, and suffering horribly from her varicose veins. It is time, surely, to euthanise and then respectfully to bury the poor dear old biddy and to hurry quietly away and to keep ones fingers crossed that no-one digs her up. A stake through the heart, posibly, would be a wise precaution.

19 June 2018


There is a Meejah story about a one-time evangelical chanteuse called Vicky Beeching who has  disdained Holy Order in the Church of England because that body is insufficiently appreciative of her rather unevangelical Lesbianism, about which she has just ... yes, you guessed correctly ... written a book.

The Sunday Times has a jolly picture of her, clad ut videtur in her shiny leathers, standing in front of and with her back to an altar which (from what one can see of it) is stylistically Early Renaissance, with six candles on it and an apparently red hanging lamp. The statue above the altar may be of the Sacred Heart. One can't quite be sure.

It all seems rather unevangelical, unless the Evangelicals have changed a lot since I left the C of E, but I suppose the implicit narrative that she has turned her back on the Love of the Incarnate Word may be thought by some people to have a certain suitability. I won't enter into that debate.

I hope permission was duly sought by the journalists concerned for this use of the Church.

Perhaps the Church concerned should receive a share of the royalties on the book.


I do in fact know which Church Beeching chose for her photoshots that are being used to publicise her book. It is a Catholic Church; a Catholic Church with notices up forbidding photography. 

Beeching's quarrel is with the Church of England; in which, apparently, it has been made clear to her that if she were admitted to Holy Orders, she would be expected to be chaste. This is hardly a remarkable stipulation; the only objection I would make would be to the apparent assunption that chastity is something which is not also required of the Laity. This seems to me a mind-blowingly exaggerated form of corrupt and over-the-top Clericalism. However, no longer being a member of the Church of England, I would be open to fair criticism if I started laying down the law about how that apostate body should conduct itself. But surely I cannot be criticised for objecting to a member of that institution deciding to use a Catholic Church for her ill-judged exhibitionism and her advocacy of activities and lifestyles which Christ and His Church condemn. Is it not, at the very least, terribly bad manners?

I have rather wondered if the reason might be that, had she turned up in S Paul's or in Westminster Abbey and started to mess around with her photographers, "Security" would undoubtedly have intervened.

Or is it simply that, for these sad ideologists who promote disordered genital activity, the Catholic Church is the natural, indeed, prescriptive, object of hatred?  

Final frivolous passing thought: couldn't Beeching and her photographic crew go off and do stuff in some Kremlin Church, under the immediate and watchful eye of Vladimir Vladimirovich? One could then at least respect their courage. And the aftermath would be real publicity! Just think how sales would rocket!  

18 June 2018


In pictures of the interiors of North American churches, even Catholic churches, one often sees the national flag in the Sanctuary to one side of the Altar.

I have never* seen this in an English church of any denomination. The most you might find would be the ancient 'laid up' colours of dear, long-forgotten regiments hanging from a dark and dusky ceiling, deliberately left to fall apart in cobwebs and sanctity.

I wonder when the American custom arose. To my quaint European instincts it seems an incomprehensible intrusion of transient terrestrial territorial politics into the Place of Eternity.

During the last war ... imagine German POWs being marched to Mass in an English church ... how easily could they have worshipped if the British Flag had been hanging aggressively in front of their eyes? And vice versa.

I believe the pro-Hitler 'German Christians' did it in the 1930s.

Do Ulster Protestants do it?

Do Canadians do it?

Do North American Orthodox or Eastern Catholics do it?

*Exception: In S James, Spanish Place, once the Spanish Embassy Chapel, there is, in one of the side aisles, the Spanish Royal Standard, handily placed so that, if the pp gets a message that His Most Catholic Majesty is about to pay a surprise visit, he can haul it up a rapid flagpole ...

17 June 2018

Pius IX

A translation of a card I once found tucked into a breviary previously owned by the late Fr Melrose of S Giles, Reading:

PRAYER to beg of God the glorification of Pius IX and to obtain graces.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who consecrated the Universal Church to thee.
(3 Gloria).
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who declared thee Immaculate.
(3 Ave).
Saint Joseph, most pure Spouse of Mary the Virgin, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who declared thee Patron of the Universal Church.
(3 Pater)
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary, Immaculate and our Hope, Saint Joseph, hear our prayer and glorify your servant Pius IX, granting us by his merits and intercession the grace which we ardently desire.

16 June 2018

A Paradigm Shift; and Humanae vitae; and the 'ordination' of women.

A splendid talk the other day, from Fr John Hemer, at the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

His talk set me thinking about the real paradigm shift in Catholic studies during the Ratzinger Years. After the terrible aridity of "Modern Biblical Scholarship", as Catholic "scholars" aped what went for "Biblical Studies" among liberal Protestant Northern Europeans and North Americans, Professor Ratzinger (following the teaching of S John Paul II that Scripture should not be seen as a field for disdainful "see how clever I am" analysis) not only restored the respectful study of Scripture but showed, in his own three-volume Jesus of Nazareth, how it should be done.

And Benedict XVI put the Fathers into the heart of his homilies and Angelus addresses.

And readers will not need to be reminded of the significance of his liturgical interventions. His revelation that the old rites had never been lawfully and canonically abrogated created a New Ballpark (am I getting this idiom right?), and, more importantly, his assertion, theological rather than canonical, that what has been sacred never can be abolished, puts in place an important marker should some future pope attempt ultra vires to limit Tradition.

Fr Hemer's exegesis of Scripture is part of this most welcome revolution. The foundation, in Anglophone countries, of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy is a highly important factor in the renewal of witness to Catholic Truth. And the erection of the Ordinariates, thus strengthening within the Catholic Church B John Henry Newman's appropriation of Anglicanism, is another monument to the Benedict Paradigm Shift.

A particular and most recent fruit of this shift is apparent in the signing by some 500 English priests of a letter affirming the truths taught in Humanae vitae (see yesterday's Catholic Herald). Many of the signatories were, of course, members of the Ordinariate (including married clergy) and of the Confraternity, although the letter was not organised by either of those bodies. At a time when there is unease about the risk that the current Roman regime may try to relativise and water down Catholic teaching, this wise, robust, and sensible document can do nothing but good.

Perhaps the time may be coming when similar interventions may be necessary in order to uphold the Church's infallible teaching with regard to the 'ordination' of women to sacerdotal ministries. There is no reason why His Eminence the Graf von Schoenborn should be allowed to make all the running ...

15 June 2018

The Rape of Clio

Apparently, there has been a 're-enactment' in Gloucester of the funeral of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, and a mighty Queen.

I have only been able to find a brief video clip; but it suggests rather massively that the Officiant was an Anglican womanpriest dressed in an anachronistic cope, who proclaimed lingua Anglica "may she rest in peace and rise in glory".

Public announcements were made honouring those who took part in the 'Suffragette' movement.

The event also seems to have involved 'Franciscans', 'Dominicans', and women 'Religious' dressed as such persons were in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Mockery is easy; but I think all this precisely encapsulates modern attitudes to History: the idea that the Past in simply the Present, dressed up perhaps in whatever the children have left in the dressing-up box. Or in what has been hired from a theatrical agency.

My suspicion is it that Modern (wo)man could not handle the truth that the Past may really be an extremely foreign country; and that, as C S Lewis argued, its very differences may be the most important gift that it can offer us.

14 June 2018

S Dunstan ... a problem

On the Vigil of Pentecost this year, prevented by the rubrics from celebrating a great Pontiff, S Dunstan, I found myself wondering: is he part of the Patrimony?

He was, as I am sure you know, a 'Reformer', and, as such, very unenthusiastic about Married Priests (or concubinarii, as we used once so succinctly to be called). But Bishop Edwin, with whom I agree about all things, has identified a married clergy as an essential part of our Anglican Patrimony. I once asked him how we are to get round this knotty little problem. He replied by reminding me that Alcuin was the son, and grandson, of priests. So that's all right, then.

Incidentally, it is not only presbyters who, in those far off days, manifested an attenuated awareness of being called to celibacy. I remember reading about one of the early occupants of the See of Ardfert in the County Kerry, whom annalists distinguished from both his predecessors and his successors as having been 'chaste'. Think about the unspoken implications of that! And, Yes, Bishop Eamonn Casey was a later bishop of this same see. Perhaps there's something in the water ...

My suspicion is that once the Latin Church has decided (in two years' time?) to admit married viri probati to the presbyterate, the regulations about what we can do in the Ordinariates may seem a little less set in stone.

Mind you, I would resist any suggestion that Priests should be able to get married, or that married men should made bishops. I do not see Mrs Proudie as an essential part of the Patrimony. The instinctive conviction of both Catholicism and Orthodoxy that there is a congruity between priesthood and celibacy can properly and decently be upheld by restricting the summum sacerdotium to celibates.

This would also discourage careerists ...

13 June 2018

Slippery Slopes

"I knew there was something wrong when he first walked out onto that balcony", I heard a priest saying a few months ago at a clerical gathering. Indeed. So one instinctively did. In my case, it was not so much that PF declined to dress as a Bishop of Rome as his choice of an unheard-of papal name. It was as if he felt the need to dissociate himself from all his predecessors in the Cathedra Petri ... even from the other 'post-conciliar popes'. In other words, it seemed to me that this was at least potentially a proclamation of papal Rupture.

But how long it took before such uneasy whispers broke out into the open in the mainstream Catholic blogs. Even when the unappealing side of PF's character ... particularly his propensity to insult and humiliate his fellow clergy on every conceivable situation ... became noticeable, and some humourist decided to make a collection of the genre ... bloggers remained cautious. After all, the Lord Himself said some impolite things about Pharisees and Pilates. We leaned over backwards to make excuses when we could; PF's ambiguous phrases and actions were glossed in as orthodox a sense as writers felt able to invent.

As late as 30 May 2016, I agonised for some time about whether to describe this pontificate as 'dysfunctional'. One's every instinct was and is to avoid writing like this about the Successor of S Peter. One has a habit of affection and, even when that had been worn away, one says to onself "Could it really be right to use such language?" Or even possibly "Such language might get me into trouble". After much thought and redrafting, I left in my draft for that day a statement that this pontificate had "some dysfunctional characteristics".

I think you might discover (to give just one example) the same sort of caution in Fr Zed; the same long reluctance to engage too directly with what was manifestly dodgy in this pontificate, until such engagement became unavoidable.

It was, in various different ways on the various Catholic blogs, an unwillingness which only gradually got eroded.

Then, of course, and with as much reluctance, we moved into the period of the Five Dubia and the Filial Correction. And now the world has had a spate of books about this pontificate by lay historians.

PF really did have to work enormously hard before the current atmosphere of frank talking was born.

12 June 2018

Ultra-Catholics and moustachioed Jesuit 'generals'

On this august festival of S John of Fagondez, I am giving this old post another outing.

 The Reverend Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, a distinguished theologian (and mathematician), was for some years the unofficial House Theologian of 'Anglo-Catholicism'. In these comic verses he portrays the extremest of the extreme in that movement. But don't be too deceived; when Mascall was not on the Christ Church Cathedral weekday Mass rota, he himself said a private Tridentine Mass in Mags. Unlike a certain sort of High Churchman, who tinkered with both Western and Eastern practices or Dearmerised with Sarumidippity, Mascall was in no doubt that he was a Latin Catholic. He was a Thomist, too, so they would have liked him at Econe. They would have liked him anyway.

Satirical verse has long been at the heart of the Anglican Patrimony. We write it far better than anybody else, and we laugh louder ... even at ourselves ...

I am an Ultra-Catholic - No 'Anglo-'*, I beseech you!
You'll find no heresy in anything I teach you.
The clergyman across the road has whiskers and a bowler,
But I wear buckles on my shoes and sport a Feriola.

My alb is edged with deepest lace, spread over rich black satin;
The psalms of Dahvid I recite in heaven's own native Latin,
And, though I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
My ordo recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis.

I teach the children in my school the Penny Catechism,
Explaining how the C of E's in heresy and schism.
The truths of Trent and Vatican I bate not one iota.
I have not met the rural Dean. I do not pay my quota.

The Bishop's put me under his 'profoundest disapproval'
And, though he cannot bring about my actual removal,
He will not come and visit me or take my confirmations.
Colonial prelates I employ from far-off mission-stations.

The music we perform at Mass is Verdi and Scarlatti.
Assorted females form the choir; I wish they weren't so catty.
Two flutes, a fiddle and a harp assist them in the gallery.
The organist left years ago, and so we save his salary.

We've started a 'Sodality of John of San Fagondez,'
Consisting of the five young men who serve High Mass on Sundays;
And though they simply will not come to weekday Mass at seven,
They turn out looking wonderful on Sundays at eleven.

The Holy Father I extol in fervid perorations,
The Cardinals in curia, the Sacred Congregations;
And, though I've not submitted yet, as all my friends expected,
I should have gone last Tuesday week, had not my wife objected.
*Such clerics did not in fact describe themselves as Ultra-Catholics; simply as Catholics. They did eschew 'Anglo-' because, rightly, they saw it as implying a modified form of Catholicism. (Outsiders, missing these nuances, did speak of them as 'Anglo-Catholic'.) They hated being called High Churchmen; historically they were again right, because this term preceded the Oxford Movement and didn't necessarily at all imply 'advanced' ceremonial or an addiction to the Bishop of Rome (but often a 'high' view of the C of E over against all forms of Dissent or Whiggery). Laypeople, however, generally used 'High' to describe any usage with which they were themselves unfamiliar. ( I was once accused of being 'High Church' because, for State Mattins, I wore 'preaching bands' with my surplice, scarf and MA hood ... their usual officiant didn't wear bands.)