18 January 2018

Ecumenism (1)

2017 saw one piece of real ecumenism which went largely unremarked.

A small ... indeed, tiny ... group of clergy and laity put together a Filial Correction of PF, which was humbly submitted to him in early August with 40ish signatures. As with the Dubia, not even a dismissive acknowledge was received from PF or his office. It was therefore decided to make the document public. By the time this happened, some 20 or so more people who had heard about it had offered their signatures.

One of these was His Excellency Bishop Fellay. Two points:
(1) The Correctio drew upon the Magisterium of the Church of All Time including that of Vatican II and of 'the post-Conciliar popes' as well as that of the preceding millennia. Bishop Fellay did not turn up his nose at the document because of this factor.
(2) The creators of the Correctio accepted his offer. They did this in full knowledge that the malevolent Hypersuperueberpapalists surrounding PF would probably use this fact in order mendaciously to claim that they were 'cryptolefebvreists'. This is the sort of mud which that sort of person enjoys flinging around. (They did it with the Friars of the Immaculate.)

'Ecumenism', like most healthy things in the life of the Church Militant, tends not to happen in the way that is expected or anticipated. There were all those professional ecumenists, cosying up together in the Venices and the Maltas to craft deliberately ambiguous statements of verbal concord. But the God of Surprises ... YES!! ... works differently.

So here we had people brought together by nothing else than their love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of His Bride, joining together in joyful affirmation of the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition handed down through the Apostles.

17 January 2018

What's the time, Mr Wolf?

You must read Cardinal Mueller's latest piece in First Things. It reminds me of the game Grandmother's Footsteps, in which the players attempt to creep up silently upon the person who is their object, and who is facing away from them. They freeze into immobility every time he swings round. If he detects one of them in motion, that's just Too Bad for the clumsy player concerned. Our Family played it last year in Bosham churchyard on the occasion of our Golden Wedding celebrations as the Quarter Peal rang out above them.

In this article, His Eminence is gradually, deftly, moving up some phrases, some words, some ideas, closer and closer to PF's back. Words like "opportunism". Phrases like "watering down".

It is done with consummately skilful gamesmanship.

I do hope this pontificate lasts long enough to enable us to see if Gerhard Cardinal Mueller is the winner.

I bet he will be.

Indulgences for Unity Week

Enchiridion Indulgentiarum  (sectio 11, page 58) offers a plenary indulgence for participating in Unity Week. You must attend aliquot functionibus (at least two public functions) and the concluding function; and, of course, fulfil the usual conditions.

A partial indulgence may be acquired by saying an approved prayer. The following* is on the back of a rather attractive prayer card issued in 1958 by the Anglo-Papalist Confraternity of Unity, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Chair of Unity Octave.

Antiphon That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee: that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.

V  I say unto thee that thou art Peter.
R  And upon this rock I will build My Church.

Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and vouchsafe to her that peace and unity which is according to Thy Will. Who livest and reignest God world without end. Amen*.

*Which includes the prayer accompanying the Pax in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, and so is certainly legitime adprobata. In the days of the Vetus Ordo, when this prayer was said silently by the Priest, it was not as commonly known among the laity as it is now.

16 January 2018

Chair of S Peter in January?

I notice that the Calendar of the ICKSP retains the January  Feast of Cathedra Petri. Can anybody throw light on this?

Extraordinary Form ORDO, and Ordinariate directions, for the Unity Week

Unity Week starts on Thursday January 18 and ends on January 25.

                                              EXTRAORDINARY FORM

Before the 1960s, January 18 was the Feast of the Chair of S Peter at Rome (while February  22 celebrated his Chair, that is to say, his episcopate, in Antioch).

In the Good Old Days, the Wantage Sisters ... who now comprise our Ordinariate Sisters in Birmingham, the praying heart of the Ordinariate, as our Ordinary puts it ... used to publish an annual ORDO  "... in strict accordance with the Use of the Western Church". This was widely used both in Anglo-Papalist churches and in Anglo-Catholic churches generally. The latest one I possess is 1969. Before January 18, the following information is printed:

                                               CHURCH UNITY OCTAVE BEGINS

Ad lib, during the Octave: one 2cl Vot M For the Unity of the Church. Cr (on Sunday only), Common Pref (pref Trin on Sunday). P[urple]

This will undoubtedly have been lifted from what was authorised for Roman Catholics in England, Scotland, and Wales on the very eve of the liturgical alterations of the late 1960s. What it means is that it is lawful to say daily one Mass of the Votive for Christian Unity (Ad tollendum Schisma if your Missal, like mine, is pre-1962; but the texts are the same in the 1962 Missal) on the Sunday within the Octave (even if it be Septuagesima); and also on each of the weekdays, because they are all (even the Conversion of S Paul) days occupied by III class feasts and so admit Second Class Votives. No Gloria, of course.

My own suggestion would be to start the Octave with a (permitted) Votive Mass of the Chair of S Peter on January 18 (Mass as on February 22 except that the Alleluia is said) and to conclude with the Mass for S Paul on January 25. It was the idea of linking up the two Apostles which gave rise to the Octave.

Alleluia for the Chair of S Peter: Alleluia, alleluia. Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. Alleluia.

I have thought it worth while providing this information because I do not think it is in the available Extraordinary Form ORDOs in English or French.

                                                       ORDINARIATE MISSAL

The same Mass for Unity, of course, is provided for use in Liturgical English in the Ordinariates. The rubrics make clear that it can be said on any day except Solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, All Souls, Ash Wednesday, Ember Days, Rogation Days, weekdays of Holy Week and of the Easter and Pentecost Octaves. Such votives ARE allowed BUT ONLY FOR "a real necessity or pastoral advantage" on Obligatory Memorials and the weekdays of Advent, Christmastide, Lent, and Eastertide. Pretty permissive, eh?

15 January 2018


In 1948, an English novelist wrote thus about American young women: "She was the standard product. A man could leave such a girl in a delicatessen shop in New York, fly three thousand miles and find her again in the cigar stall at San Francisco ... she would croon the same words to him in moments of endearment and express the same views and preferences in moments of social discourse. She was convenient; but Dennis came of an earlier civilisation with sharper needs. He sought the intangible, the veiled face in the fog, the silhouette at the lighted doorway, the secret graces of a body which hid itself under formal velvet. He did not covet the spoils of this rich continent, the sprawling limbs of the swimming-pool, the wide-open eyes and mouths under the arc-lamps ...".

I would go further. My fantasy of an exquisite civilisation would include the return of the habit of women wearing hats ... preferably with a veil complicating ones perception of the face behind it ... skirts at least mid-calf ...

My problem is that what Waugh derides as American seems to have become the culture of Europe as well. Wall to wall immodesty is the order of the day. I am glad I am no longer a young man. I think I would find it difficult nowadays to find satisfaction of Waugh's 'sharper needs'. As an old man, happily married and many, many decades beyond the Chase, I do retain regrets at an purely aesthetic level ...

The online edition of one popular English newspaper has an illustrated sidebar directing you to endless stories about indecently dressed female 'celebs' ... it is a newspaper which, in the 1930s, supported Facism; whose proprietor referred to 'Adolf the Great'; and who wrote to Hitler to congratulate him on his every aggression. It waged a relentless campaign against the entry into this country of the fleeing thousands of European Jewry escaping from one of the most hideous atrocities in European History. Perhaps one should look on the bright side of things. The Good News is that it does not praise Adolf the Great. But the Bad News is that it, and its competitors, remain the slavish mouthpieces of the Zeitgeist.

14 January 2018

The Next Conclave and the Papal Oath

Nothing would better express the Traditional, Biblical, Patristic, notion of the Petrine Office, as happily defined at Vatican I, than the following reform in what is done at the inauguration of a pontificate.

The prelate who emerges elected from the next Conclave should instantly sweep away all the unnecessary and obsessive ritual flummeries dreamed up, I think, by Pietro Marini and first used at the Inauguration of Benedict XVI.

They should be replaced by the taking of a solemn Oath of Fidelity done in public. Analogies and formulae existed for this in previous ages, which might be used to supply textual materials.
     For people who like ritual stuff, the Oath could be taken on the oldest Bible in the Vatican Libraries.
     For people who like even more ritual stuff, or are fixated on the use of vernaculars, each paragraph, before the pope recites it in Latin, could be chanted by, say, a Jewish Cantor in Hebrew and a Byzantine Subdeacon in Greek and read by laypeople in any number of vernaculars.
     For strange people who want even more ritual than that, the document could then be solemnly attested by Cardinal Notaries and sealed with lead.
     For those whose affection for ritual amounts to a lunatic obsession, the document could, finally, be solemnly processed through the congregation, held aloft by the Cardinal Protodeacon in the popemobile, while the crowd hysterically shouted VIVAT IUSIURANDUM! Meanwhile, the pontiff would remain kneeling in quiet and humble prayer before the Altar. The popemobile could then be taken away, either for immediate ignominious destruction, or for sale at Sotheby's in New Bond Street, the money (including, of course, the auctioneer's commission) being given to the Poor and the Ordinariates.

Essentially, the new Pontiff should swear, in words drawn from Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, to hand down uncorrupted the Tradition which is from the Lord through His Apostles, the Deposit of Faith. He should swear to resist and to put down all novitates, tam in Fide quam in moribus.

He should acknowledge that, while he will indeed be the Supreme Legislator with full power to change the (human) Law of the Church, he will himself obey the Law and refrain from interfering with legal processes, particularly those relating to the trial, conviction, and punishment of clerical sexual predators who enjoy powerful curial protectors.

And a rather useful practical undertaking might be: "As We uncover evil practices and corrupt deeds and false teachings among Our Cardinals and their clientelae, We shall not allow Ourself to be deterred from dealing with them strictly and according to Justice, by any consideration of who supported or who resisted Our Own election."

To preserve the poor silly Media from their inveterate temptation to assume that a pope has or ought to have a "programme", the Oath should not be followed by a homily.

If the Tourist Industry desired the service to be padded out to a greater length and dignified with rather more 'heritage', this could be done by a reaffirmation and confirmation (with great solemnity) of the anathemas pronounced by the Sixth Ecumenical Council against Pope Honorius I.

13 January 2018


I hope readers have not forgotten to get a copy of the ORDO produced by The Saint Lawrence Press Ltd, 2017.  It gives directions for using the Missal and Breviary of the Roman Rite as they were in 1939. It really is important to know how radically some things were changed before the pontificate of Pius XII. It didn't all begin with 'the Council'!


President Trump

I am one of those brits who likes Americans. My circle of friends would be significantly reduced if I deleted Americans. And I actually rather admire very many Americans. And, in the last Presidential election, I would certainly have voted for anybody or anything to exclude the clinton. And would do so again without any hesitation.

So I would like my American friends to understand better why President Trump is so loathed and detested in this country that the likelihood of big demonstrations against him has led to the cancellation of his planned imminent visit here.

There is undoubtedly the fact that British (and European) politics are shifted well to the left of American politics. For example, our previous 'Conservative' and 'right wing' Prime Minister, David Cameron, would probably be considered a dangerous left-winger in terms of the American political spectrum.

And it is enormously true that DT is precisely that sort of American who incarnates what brits of pretty well every type think they find most alien about Americans.

But let me conclude by mentioning just one little episode that particularly infuriated me personally.

We had a terrorist incident in London. DT reacted to this by attacking the Mayor of London.

If there were a terrorist atrocity in New York and a British Prime Minister took precisely that opportunity to attack the Mayor of New York, I suspect that we might be very gently urged to remember that the British Crown no longer exercises jurisdiction over the United States.

OK, we are now small and insignificant and in rather a mess. But do you think that makes us enjoy being rudely and crudely humiliated?

12 January 2018


As the Coronation of George VI on May the 12th 1937 drew closer, Press interest in those who desired to be differently monarched did not lessen. Towards the end of April, an eccentric fantasist called Captain Henry Wheatley-Crowe announced to the media that the King over the Water had appointed him Regent of the Three Kingdoms, in which capacity he protested against the imminent Coronation (Crown Prince Rupprecht very quickly made clear that the Captain's claims were totally without foundation). At the beginning of May it seems that, back at Balliol, Peter Geach made a second foray in the Jacobite interest. The Milwaukee Journal reports that the "Oxford university authorities frustrated, as a student prank, a Jacobite demonstration scheduled to proclaim Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria 'king of England'. Peter Geach, 20-year-old, pink cheeked leader of Oxford Jacobites, had prepared a proclamation acclaiming Rupprecht as the British Monarch and denouncing 'a certain George Windsor' as a pretender to the throne. ... One of [Geach's] supporters was arrested Friday and fined a pound ($5) by the university's proctors."

I do rather wonder whether the nameless undergraduate 'arrested' and fined may in fact have been Geach himself. It is not clear whether the Bulldogs 'arrested' the young man, whoever he was, or the Police nabbed him and handed him over to the Proctors. There seems to be a legend that this declaration was to be made at Magdalene Bridge; which would make sense, since it was from that bridge, according to Oxford tradition, that two undergraduates were hanged during the events of 1745 ("the '45"), when Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales and empowered by a Commission of Regency from his father King James III and VIII, was endeavouring to restore the rule of law during the usurpation of ... I am indebted to that great Englishman and Oxonian Mr Max Beerbohm for this diverting periphrasis ... 'smug herrenhausen'.

Perhaps, entering into the idiom of the eighteenth century, one could aver that the future Professor Geach was "out" in "the '37".

As well as during "the '45", there were 'disorders' in Oxford, in favour of King James, during 1748, which were serious enough to make the University authorities very frightened indeed that the Whig de facto regime might come down heavily on Alma Mater Oxonia. The Dedication of the Radcliffe Camera had to be postponed; when, in 1749, that event was able finally to take place, the renewed 'disorders' were led, this time, by a don rather than by the undergraduates. A lengthy Oration was delivered by 'the Pretender's great agent' [Horace Walpole's description] Dr William King. Jacobites gathered from all over England and Wales to hear King's ringing denunciations of the wealthy Whig oligarchy, its network of informers, its culture of bribery, its militarism ... leading up to a magnificent peroration in which paragraph after thundering paragraph began with the word REDEAT ["May he {i.e. Prince Charles} return"]. But the Latin syntax was so delicately manoeuvred that the subject of that subjunctive was, technically, never explicitly Prince Charles. Since in Latin word-order a subjunctive like REDEAT can come first in its sentence (and, in a rhetorical cause, might indeed prefer to do so; vide the last line of this post), King could utter it, pause awhile to milk the enthusiastic applause, and then carry on to supply some other, vaguer, phrase as the 'official' grammatical subject (e.g. 'Redeat ... magnus ille genius Brittaniae'). King prudently included in his printed text a prohibition against any translation being made into the vernacular: a process during which grammatical niceties might well have been fatally coarsened.

'Fatally' because Dr King's head, indeed, did depend upon the syntactical nicety!

Vivat Rex! Floreat Oxonia! Requiescat in pace vir doctissimus Petrus Geach!

11 January 2018


Today, a little more on Professor Peter Geach, Balliol College, distinguished Catholic philosopher and husband of the equally distinguished Elizabeth Anscombe (see post of December 21). Readers will recall that 1937 was a time when the Abdication crisis had put the institution of the Monarchy under considerable pressure, and a charismatic and popular 'modern' (i.e. e.g. pro-Nazi) king had been replaced by a younger brother whose startling lack of glamour was exceeded only by the courage and resolution he was to display in the unwanted role of kingship during a difficult war ... a damn' close run thing. But, in 1937, the virtues of 'Stuttering Bertie' still awaited future demonstration.

"Fifty Oxford undergraduates championed a lost cause when, on January 31, they proclaimed Rupprecht, ex-Crown Prince of Bavaria, legitimate heir to the throne of Britain' as descendant of the Stuarts."

The proclamation was read at the Martyr's Memorial. The undergraduates did not even Anglicise the new 'king's' name to the Stuart 'Rupert' - who was a member of St John's College and who led the German forces against Britain on the Western Front. ... The proclamation sneered at the House of Windsor for failing to defend "the dignity of the crown and the liberties of the people". The ceremony lasted but a few minutes. "The undergraduates, wearing in their button-holes the white rose of the 'Legitimist' clique, raised a cheer. Mr Peter Geach, 21-year-old scholar of Balliol College, who made the proclamation ... stressed the 'loyalty' of Balliol. 'There are many in Oxford', he said, 'who would be willing to fight for the Stuarts'. ...He said the Jacobites would take no part in the Coronation celebrations ...".

Another newspaper added the information that "should former Prince Ruprecht of Bavaria become king of England, the only reward Peter Geach plans to ask is 'the right to lead a quiet academic life' ... Geach, who wore his scholar's gown when he made the proclamation, continues to peer through his horn-rimmed spectacles at the Latin and Greek tomes on which he must stand examination [Honour Moderations in Litterae Humaniores, aka 'Mods'] this spring. ... slender for his six foot height, Geach comes from Cardiff, Wales, and is of Cornish descent ..." This account is headed by a photograph of Geach waving his academic cap.
To be continued and concluded tomorrow.

10 January 2018

Thank you ...

... to everyone who sdent me Christmas Greetings!

Most of the American cards arrived a few days after Christmas; I blame the Royal Mail! And today, a card to celebrate the Julian Christmas.

God bless all of you; and everybody who reads this blog.

Rowan Williams on "the Celtic Church"

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, who was previously [Anglican] Archbishop of Wales, wrote (2012) about the Celtic Myth in these words:
"A great deal of nonsense has been written about Celtic Christianity, as if this were an intelligible designation for some selfcontained variant of Catholic orthodoxy in the early Middle Ages, a variant more attuned to the sacredness of nature and less obsessed with institutional discipline. Historically, the churches of those regions where Celtic languages were spoken never thought of themselves as part of a network other than that of the Western Catholic Church. They wrote and spoke Latin. They looked to Rome as the focus of their ecclesial life (Welsh kings as well as English spent their final years in Rome) and they accepted the creeds and canons of the Catholic Church. The irony is that Bede's concern to show them as mysteriously and suspiciously 'other' to the Roman norm is one of the the roots of modern mythologies about a Celtic Christianity that is somehow deeper and more spritually comprehensive than the orthodox mainstream.  ... what modern fantasy has turned into a contrast between institutional 'Roman' Christianity and native Wordsworthian innocence and mystical insight ... if Bede finds a genuine nineteenth-century Catholic echo, it is perhaps more obviously in the mature Newman, who both understood the need for universal communion and valued the spiritual legacy of those who, for a variety of good and bad reasons, had stood on or beyond the edges of that communion."

It occurs to me: there is surely a parallel between the invention soon after the year 1700 of the idea of 'Celtic' nations, 'Celtic' religion, 'Celtic' culture, 'Celtic' identity, 'Celtic' solidarity; and the invention of Africa. Just as the Irish and the Cornish in the year 1500 had no inkling ... not the remotest idea!! ... that they were 'Celts', let alone 'fellow Celts', I would wager that the Zulus, the Hottentots, and the Swahili had no awareness that they were 'Africans', sharing a combined mystical destiny. Nkosi Sikelei Afrika is a text set to a stirring and moving melody: but 'Afrika' can in its origins rest only upon a Western imperialist cultural construct. Based, of course, on a Roman imperialist cultural concept!

I wonder if we invented India and China too. And what about Russia? Where would the world without us?

9 January 2018

Sunday Mass

For a century and more, life in our society has become more atomised and individualistic. We no longer live in integrated communities in which different people fulfil different and complementary roles for the common good. Millions live in dormitory suburbs, have no common interests with their neighbours, and few common activities. I do.

This has inevitably had an effect upon the liturgical community. Particularly in Northern Europe and particularly among Catholics, the Church has operated an efficient system based upon optimum use of plant and personel. One priest with one Church and a decently sized carpark and faculties to trinate can serve a large area, and do so economically. Rural Anglicanism, on the other hand, often functions with one priest serving six or more congregations the size of which may vary; in Devon I had congregations of ten to twenty five, with just one Church among the six gathering about forty. Anglican and ex-Anglican clergy will recall the the difficulty of persuading people to unite, even just once a month, in a 'United Benefice Service'. In my experience, about 50% of those nominally on the roll never went to Church on those Sundays when 'the Service' was not at 'their' Church.

The Catholic model has a resilience which the Anglican lacks; I have little doubt that, in a generation, Rural Anglicanism will be as dead as Inner City Anglicanism (leaving just Prosperous Suburb Anglicanism). But the Catholic model has weaknesses too. It means that you might well not know the worshippers with whom you so cheerfully 'exchange the peace'. You are an aggregation of individuals (laudably) fulfilling your obligation, but with an enervated sense of coinherence. How alive can the phrase 'The Body of Christ' be in such a context?

The old culture of the community church, the Church of a community which worshipped regularly together, had a beauty as well as a theological strength to it. And one of the things which has weakened it is the Vigil Mass.

Only God knows the tally; how many people the Vigil Mass culture has retained in the practice of the Faith; how many it has lost because of the weakening of communal links. No sane person would want to step back from it, however much we may sense a certain dreariness in the sight of all those people 'getting it out of the way' so that they can be 'free' on Sunday. And, however much we explain to ourselves and to others that the Liturgical Day begins with the Eve, we all sense that Saturday Evening is not ... really ... instinctively ... Sunday. And let us admit it: the Vigil Mass constitutes a surrender to the life-style of the zeitgeist. What father could face explaining to his sons that they cannot take part in the local footie culture which invariably situates its practice sessions ... on Sunday morning?

The experience of a whole community, wearing 'Sunday Best', strolling down in families to their Parish Church as the bells ring on a Sunday morning in which secular pursuits have been set aside has, I am convinced, much more value to it than mere romanticism, or (as you are probably intending to explain to me) nostalgia for an irrecoverable social order.

Is there really no way in which we can move back in the direction of a Sunday Community Mass? Does it still survive anywhere other than in rural Greece?

8 January 2018

Cardinal Mueller on Exclusive ideologists

"Some ideological groups present themselves as the exclusive guardians of the only true interpretation of Amoris laetitia. They feel they have the right to condemn all people of another standpoint as stupid, rigid, old-fashioned, Medieval, etc.. ..."

I have a problem with this ... not that I often quarel with his Eminence ... I have always prided myself on being stupid, old-fashioned, and Medieval. Then, this last year, following PF's insistent encouragement, I added to my temperament the additional characteristic of Rigidity.

I'm very happy with this combination of the virtues. Couldn't I hang on to them just until the end of this pontificate?

7 January 2018

The Ordinariates, and How To Save The English Church

"Given the kinds of statistics I've outlined - that is, too many churches for the numbers of priests and worshippers we actually have - it's no wonder that many bishops have readily borrowed ordinariate priests for their dioceses. 

"Anglicanorum coetibus was, in this sense, an unexpected windfall of additional clergy. There are, I believe, currently 60 ordinariate priests on loan to the English and Welsh dioceses, with most of these assigned to parishes. I recognise, of course, the benefits and expediency of such arrangements. As it happens, I have been glad of 'borrowed' ordinariate priests in two dioceses I've lived in. Bishops need priests, and priests - and their families - need stipends. Nevertheless, I don't think the current model of plugging gaps in ordinary diocesan provision is, in the long run, a sensible one for either party.

"From my outsider's view - I'm neither a member, nor eligible to become one - the ordinariate offers the Church in England and Wales (Scotland too!) a significant pastoral opportunity: the possibility of a permanent structure, fully part of the wider Catholic community, but with its own distinctive liturgy, spirituality, musical traditions, parish culture and atmosphere. Rather than being simply a one-off fix to bring a wave of former Anglicans into full communion with Rome, it is genuinely sustainable. It is continuing to attract former Anglicans and others (not excluding other Catholics) on its own terms, while at the same time being a community in which children are brought up, who in turn bring up their own children in it.

"Christ's Church has plenty of room in it for such a body, as is again amply proved by the Eastern Catholic churches ... with the ordinariate offering a niche way of 'being Church' that complements, rather than competes with, the default normal parish offering. 

"I've even seen it work - in Texas, of all places. Last year I stood at the back of a packed vigil Mass at Houston's ordinariate Cathedral of our Lady of Walsingham. The next day there would be four further Masses, all using the Divine Worship missal and all similarly well attended. Around a third of those present, I was told, were former Episcopalians and their families, a third were cradle Catholics of various types, and a third were converts from otherChristian denominations, other religions, or no religion at all.  ...

"From where I'm kneeling, we seem to have a God-given cure to many a diocesan bishop's headache. So why are our dioceses not queuing up for the ordinariate to take otherwise under-threat churches  off their hands, and on extremely advantageous terms? This is a genuine question, for I am genuinely puzzled."

This is the end of an article by Professor Stephen Bullivant in the Catholic Herald. (Father Zed reprinted most of the aricle, but only briefly alluded to this final section.)

I have no other status in the Ordinariate than that of an incardinated retired priest. But, entirely as an individual, I agree with every word of this. I would only add something which has come to me as a widely heard rumour, with a number of sources, but for which I cannot vouch. It is that, somewhere in the Church's system, there is blockage point, a spirit of negativity, with regard to the rapid and smooth 'reordination' of former Anglican clergy ... what our jargon calls 'respraying'.

I have no idea why this should be, if indeed it is so. Might it possibly be that some bishops hope their staffing problems will soon be solved by the mass ordinations of married deacons? Or do stretched diocesan finances dictate the closure of churches and the commercial development of their sites? I dunno!

But I am kneeling somewhere very close to Professor Bullivant. If the English Bishops wanted an influx of what he describes elsewhere in his article as "dozens of young and energetic clergy, thoroughly immersed in British culture, and with years (if not decades) of pastoral experience as well", they could have them for the asking.

6 January 2018

Gold ...

On the Feast of the Epiphany, by ancient English Tradition the Sovereign's representative offers in the Chapel Royal (Catharine of Aragon's Tudor one right inside the Palace of S James, where the Chapel Royal functions in the Winter months; not in Henrietta Maria's Inigo Jones masterpiece whither the Chapel migrates at Easter) gifts of GOLD, Incense, and Myrrh ... Epiphany, when pictures of the Magoi ... or, as the folk-religion of Latin Christendom calls them, the three kings ... get one thinking about money yet again. GOLD! We had our Golden Wedding last year. Our ingenious children  ...

But I digress.

In the Mueller Interview, I read:  
"The biggest danger to the Pope these days are those opportunists, careerists, and false friends who are concerned not for the good of the Church, but for their own financial interests and self-advancement."

Money! There's money, his Eminence reveals to us, in being a Bergoglian! How does one get it?  I thought the naughty fellows were disinterestedly clustered in the Bergogliosphere out of mere pravitas haeretica. Gold! Does one get in touch with the Papal Almoner? Would he provide me with a nice golden chalice and paten ... baroque ... putti crawling all over it ... you know the sort of thing ... after all, there are insistent calls for the immense wealth of the Vatican to be shared among the Poor, which we certainly are. They must have thousands of those things in Rome. Certain passages of the prophet Amos (in my view, the greatest of the prophets) come to mind ...

Would I have to declare it to the Tax Man?

5 January 2018

Mutual Enrichment

Some time ago, following the 1962 rubrics, I discovered that I had three consecutive days saying the Mass of the previous Sunday. I must say that I found this most refreshing. The simple luxury of putting on green vestments and using the marvellous ancient collects and psalmody which come to us from the fifth century and breath the genius of the old Roman Rite; its terse elegance; its austerity; its capacity for patterning an economic number of words with as much expressive skill as a Horace ...

Moreover, with a less cluttered calendar, one got the Sunday Collect over and over again in the Office ... one lived with it ... and I remembered the admirable old Anglican Patrimonial tradition of learning (Cranmer's elegant translations of) these dear early Roman collects week by week; of thus making them part of ones being. Instead of enduring an endless succession of Confessor Bishops who, bully for them, founded religious orders, and whose labours were rewarded with flat, predictable, formulaic collects.

I have no doubt that the EF Calendar is overloaded. Historically, Calendars do get overloaded and the poor things need, every now and again, to be pruned. S Pius V certainly operated on that principle! Even S Anne was mercilessly deleted! But his successors recommenced the overloading of his calendar, and I get tired of reading the (truncated form of) the Parable of the talents at Mass; in the Divine Office, there is the endless saying of the hymn Iste confessor, bringing with it the daily anguish of remembering whether mutatur tertius versus.

In the Novus Ordo, lots of memoriae are optional. We could do with that principle in the Old Rite.

And in the Liturgy of the Hours, on most ordinary memoriae, one has the liberty of saying (for example) the ferial hymns. So one has the advantage, among other things, of using that wonderful old cycle of the Days of Creation at Vespers. That rubrical adjustment would be an enrichment of the old Breviary. (Yes, I know, 99% of clergy who say the LH don't get those hymns anyway because the English translations of LH don't include many translations of Latin hymns. How crafty the Enemy is.)

In theory, I would not object to using some Weekday Eucharistic Lectionary (medieval dialects of the Roman Rite sometimes offered variant Epistles and Gospels midweek). In practice, I would most strongly object, because the most comfortable thing about the Old Rite, especially for the aged, is that we don't have to keep juggling with a multiplicity of complicated and confusing books! Vera simplicitas et simplex Veritas!

4 January 2018

The King of Love

"The Son - Jesus, the King of Love - receiving us from the Father, makes us His own by the outpouring of His Blood. He unites us to Himself as His own Bride upon the marriage bed of the Cross, and so leads us back to the Father, as members joined to their Head, and as the Bride who forms one flesh with Him. The royal prerogatives of the Son become the royal prerogatives of His Bride, the Church, and of every soul united to the King of Love in the mystic nuptial graces of Baptism and Holy Communion.

"United in this way to Christ the King, the Church - the Queen who stands at His right side arrayed in garments finely wrought of gold - addresses the Father with a majestic reverence, with a holy boldness, with words and gestures inspired by the Holy Ghost."

Dom Mark Kirby, Prior of Silverstream, is one of those rare guides who has the gift of making what is immeasurably old sound new and fresh.

3 January 2018


The Breviary readings on December 4 recounted that S Peter Chrysologos preached a very fierce sermon against chaps in masks (personati) who took part in ludi with variis saltationibus on the Kalends of January.

His view was that people who wanted to fool around (iocari) with the Devil were not fit to rejoice with Christ. It reminded me rather of S Damasus' campaign aainst the Lupercalia.

Can anybody supply background to this?

UPDATE: following hints from kind correspondents, whom I thank, I was waiting outside Bodley yesterday morning as the portcullis went up after the midwinter absit doctrina break. 

For any who have any interest, I commend the Ninth Oration of the late pagan Greek rhetorician Libanius, a supporter of Julian the Apostate (332-363). Naturally, he defends the existence of this old pagan celebration ... though how old it can really be in the Greek world (it is commonly remarked that postponing something until the Greek Calends is a bit like PF setting up a Committee, since Greek Calends do not exist)? [I read it in the Teubner Edition, Vol 1 Fasc 2 pp 393-398. I don't know whither the Greekless could turn to find a crib. The Loeb volumes of Libanius do not include this Oration.]

More entertaining is a sermon by S Asterius, bishop of Amaseia, circa 350 to circa 410. [Migne Patrologia Graeca XL 216-226. Migne is on the Internet and includes a Latin crib of every text printed. Although in many cases, including this one, the 'translation' is more of a paraphrase.] S Asterius describes the Kalends of January as the relentless Argyrolatria of the 'Christmas Shopping period' in post-Christian Western 'civilisation'; as the often extortionate and menacing 'trick or treat' period around 'Hallow e'en'; and as a more-than-usually unwholesome 'Gay Pride' celebration: all arranged neatly together in harmonious disorder on the same day.

Perhaps that's why Chrysologus had his doubts about it. 

Enemies ...

Again, a kind friend alerts me to the fact that, apparently, I am being censored from Facebook. Can it really be true that those opposed to the publication of views which they dislike can get away with this sort of thing?

See the comment on "Circumcision".

2 January 2018


Reports indicate that, at the end of last October, an antipodean Cardinal Archbishop [ACA in what follows] ordered his Novus Ordo parishes to omit, on a certain Sunday, the Old Testament Reading and the Epistle and the associated psalmody from the Sunday Mass; to replace the normal proclamation of the Gospel with a reading in the style of the Lectio Divina; and to have that Gospel delivered by a lay person: all of which is contra legem. The ACA justified his order in these words:
"The lectio divina initiative is a way the Archdiocese is responding to the plea of Pope Francis to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. He has reminded us that we can take creative initiatives in our parishes so that we can become 'living vessels for the transmission of God's Word'".

I am not aware that PF has legislated for what the ACA ordered. I therefore suspect that the ACA is claiming that his own 'initiative' is not precisely what PF has formally mandated, but, as we learned to say in the last century, "in the spirit of" PF. So having lived for half a century under the grim and mendacious "Spirit of the Council", we now, apparently, have got to live with the added encumbrance of the Spirit of PF.

It appears that "creative initiatives" trump Law. I'm rather uncertain how this is a true expression of the words of Sacrosanctum Concilium paragraph 22.

In one contemporary sense, of course, the ACA has a good argument. 'Law' has had a very bad press in this pontificate. It is forced to parade down the lexical catwalk in company with terms like 'rigid' and 'pharisaical' and 'quibbles' and 'clericalism' and 'closed hearts'. All good clean fun and I'm sure PF feels a lot better after getting all that nonsense off his chest. But the truth is that Law functions as a protection against tyranny; a shield against arbitrary rule. Of course bullies know better than the Law; of course tyrants are acting solely in the better interests of their subjects when they themselves break the Law or order that it be disobeyed within their bailiwicks. But if the Law guarantees to Christifideles laici that they are entitled to hear an Old Testament Reading and an Epistle at Novus Ordo Sunday Mass, then the Law is giving the humble occupants of the pews a protection against all and every one of those who know infinitely better than the pewfodder what is good for them, and who are happy to deprive them of their rights and protections.

I doubt whether PF and the ACA and most other prelates are consistent in their antinomianism. I have little doubt that, when it suits them, they are fervent in their enthusiasm for the Law. PF, for example, has not, to my knowledge, suggested to bishops that they need not be rigid or pharisaical about submitting their resignations when they reach the statutory age. There have been examples of bishops, not in the pontifical favour, who have had their resignations accepted with somewhat discourteous rapidity within days of submission. The system currently in place in our poor suffering Latin Church appears to be "I need not obey the Law because I am grand and I know best; but those below me need to submit to it. Indeed, if I tell them to do something contra legem, they even need to submit to that as well".

'Law', in this sense, is simply lawless tyranny, vis sine lege.

Nor do I find attractive the view sometimes put forward that the Roman Pontiff, being the Supreme Lawgiver, is therefore himself above the obligation to obey the Law. Most legal systems do not encourage the idea that legislators are ipso facto themselves exempt from the Law. If one of our Members of Parliament were charged with embezzlement, I doubt if our courts would accept his plea that his status qua legislator exempted him from prosecution. Yet PF invites the cameras of the oikoumene in to film him breaking the Law on Maundy Thursday by washing the feet of those whom the rubrics exclude.

My dear Father, God rest his soul, would have called such conduct 'brazen'. But he did not live to understand the 'Catholic System' as this pontificate presents it. There are times when I wonder if I do. Indeed, whether I even want to understand it.

1 January 2018


People sometimes talk about how January 1 has been"changed".

The facts are very simple.

Originally, in the Roman rite, this was the Octave of Christmas. An old Roman (and Byzantine) custom is to surround major festivals with associated celebrations. So the Divine Maternity of our Lady occupied the Octave Day. Look at the Collect and Postcommunion in the ancient rite.

Because the dies octava  of the Nativity is the Day upon which the Incarnate Word was circumcised, that event, as narrated by S Luke, became the the Gospel for the Day, and, as is normal, this Gospel was explained in the readings of the Third Nocturn at Mattins.

Then it became fashionable for the Day to be renamed as "the Circumcision". But when this happened, the texts, for the most part, and in most places, were not changed. Simply the head-title of the Day.

In the twentieth century, the Day was given back its more ancient title. This did not result in any changes in the formulae of the Vetus Ordo, because the texts were already mainly about the Divine Maternity ... as they had been for very many centuries.

(In the late Medieval Church, exemplified by the Anglican tradition, there were a few places where changes were made, to turn this Day thematically into a meditation upon Circumcision.)

So there is no need for traddies to get excited by the thought that the twentieth century "abolished" the "Feast of the Circumcision". Nobody has had anything taken away from them!

But perhaps there might be floating in the air just a weeny hint of embarrassment about the genital particularity of the historical event of the Lord's Circumcision. How to explain it to the Children? Will it bring a blush to the cheeks of Maiden Aunts, assuming that there are any of those left?

I was on the point of calling such prudery "Victorian". Then I remembered that, in Anglicanism, the Day and its prayers and readings fixated on Circumcision right down to the second half of the twentieth century. And I wondered how fair it was to saddle the Victorians (or Maiden Aunts) with accusations of a prudery they showed no signs of having!