23 May 2018

REFERENDUM

I think, Thursday morning and Friday morning, I will say Mass for the people of Ireland.

I know that many people are hoping that all clergy will do something like this.

And that laity will say the Holy Rosary and/or receive Holy Communion, for the same intention.

The skill with which the Evil One has set about destroying Ireland is ... awesome.

A kind American priest ...

Some eight years ago, a kind American priest very graciously sent me some extremely interesting books; most of which bear the autograph (and annotations) of a Fr J B O'Connell ... a name which seems familiar ... whose reactions to emerging 'reforms' from the 1940s to the 1960s one could trace. (Tucked inside one of them was a 1946 envelope, with rough notes on the back, from 'Great Southern Hotels'; the Irish Hotel group which includes Parknasilla, where G B Shaw wrote plays, having got there travelling bolt-upright in the back of his Rolls Royce all the way through the Rebel County of Cork ... and where my family played golf while I read and watched the otters and kingfishers on a then-secluded ruined quay ... it's a small world ... is that ruined quay still 'undeveloped'?).

One volume bears a stamp of ICEL in its earliest days; it is Mary Pierre Ellebracht's highly erudite and still very useful Remarks on the Vocabulary of the ancient Orations in the Missale Romanum of 1964. Other volumes include many papers on Latinity by the ever-great, ever-admirable Christine Mohrmann.

Over these eight years, this blog has been very much enriched by that benefaction. If you read this, thank you very much, Father.

22 May 2018

The Royal Wedding ...

... just carries on and on in the Meeja.

I can only say that I find aspects of it puzzling and alienating.

Some things I just don't even begin to understand: such as why Ms M keeps describing herself daily as a Feminist while apparently happy to be called a Duchess simply because she has married a Duke.

Alienating? The host of  'celebrities' invited to the party alienates me. I suppose in a different age the 'invitees' might have been from other Royal Families, from the Bitish Aristocracy, and from people in our public or political life. Like most ordinary Englishmen, I could discover members of aristocratic families among relations by marriage, or Oxford acquaintances, or former pupils. Foreign Royalty? I met on comfortable terms the late King of Romania; and a Duke of the House of Bourbon. I have mingled socially and bibulously with Members of Parliament. Being quite a small nation, we are comfortably integrated and surprisingly egalitarian.

But all these International Celebrities ... I think they are known technically as "A-list" ... Sir Elton John ... Clooneys ... Serena Williams ... Ophra Winfrey ... Batman, probably ... etc. etc. ... there is not a snowball's chance in Infernis that I have or ever could run into any of them, such is their inaccessible greatness. They are of a mighty altitudo far, far above my humiliated reach. I imagine they are the sort of people whose doings are related in the glossy Celebrity magazines one sees adolescent girls devouring in omnibuses. Looking at the TV clips of those confident lordlings striding into Windsor Castle, I knew how the French must have felt when Herr Hitler visited Paris in 1940 and was photographed in front of the Eiffel Tower.

                     *               *               *               *               *               *

Incidentally, according to the Times, the music played included Greensleeves ... and the wedding took place on the anniversary of the day Anne Boleyn lost her head. And there was a Henry with Welsh connections involved in all that, too ... perhaps I should take more interest in the blacker implications of last Saturday's events ...

What a cheap fool that American 'bishop' is ... it would be fun to see him taking part in a 'historical  reenactment' in the road outside the front door of the Master of Balliol.

Conveniently, the spot is already marked.

21 May 2018

Drunk on MUST?

There are elites within elites within elites within elites. If you say the Divine Office ... in Latin ... according to the Old Rite ... but using the text of the hymns as they were before Urban VIII debauched those texts in the 1630s ... then:

You will know that the Office Hymn at Mattins last week was Iam Christus astra ascenderat. In the post-conciliar reforms, Dom Anselmo Lentini kept it as the hymn for Terce; but, as well as adding a new stanza (Descende ...), he eliminated several of those in the original. Not surprisingly, one of these was an unpleasant stanza about the Jews (Iudaea ... vesana ...). But that stanza had already been neutered by Barberini. The original contained the line "ructare musti crapulam" - belching the drunkenness/drunken hang-over of the Must. But belching, although Horace uses ructare in the Ars, is not the sort of vocab you expect in the Odes - and it was the Odes which Urban VIII's merry men took as their stylistic bench-mark. So they changed it to "... madere ...". (I know what you're thinking: Quod barbari non coinquinaverunt, stupraverunt Barberini.)

You may have wondered at Mass yesterday how the disciples could have been drunk on Must: unfermented grapejuice. Sometimes, mustum seems to mean partially fermented wine, and S Jerome certainly thought that it was a fair translation for the gleukous of the original.

20 May 2018

Pentecost Time

How splendid it is that the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinariate Missal preserve for us this Pentecost Octave which stretches, like the Easter Octave, to Saturday arternoon next. But there is, I fear, something missing in what we have; an omission which undermines the liturgical integrity of Pentecost.

Your Roman Missal, if it preserves the Roman Rite as it was at the beginning of the Pontificate of Pius XII, will show you a Pentecost which begins with a Baptismal Vigil: just as does Easter. The rites are scaled down for Pentecost; there are only six lections: but it is clear that Pentecost is a secondary Baptismal Season. Practically, it was a useful back-up to Easter for those who, for whatever reason, had not received Christian Initation at Easter. But in any case, the association is theologically appropriate, since the Pentecostal Anointing of the Spirit is central to the full rite of Initiation. Dom Gregory 'Patrimony' Dix was, I am convinced, absolutely right to insist that Consignation/Confirmation is not a secondary adjunct to "Water Baptism", but one of the primary elements in Christian Initiation.

(I devoutly trust, by the way, that the Latin Church will not follow the boring old Anglican mistake of regarding Confirmation as an adolescent Rite of Passage, a sort of Christian Bar-Mitzvah; a misunderstanding as pastorally disastrous as it is theologically flawed. It most certainly is nothing whatsoever of the sort.)

The point of the Pentecost Octave is quite simply that it follows on logically from the Baptismal Vigil Liturgy. It is a week in which (as after Easter) the Illuminati wear their Whites (a meaning still, probably, alluded to in the English name Whitsunday). The Eucharistic Celebrant continues through the week to use the form of the Hanc igitur which is said for the newly initiated. On Saturday, the Neonati returned their Whites to the Pontiff; the statio was ad S Petrum in Vaticano.

It is rumoured that Ecclesia Dei has been allowing pre-Pius XII Holy Week Rites. I can see no reason why they would object to a restoration of the Pentecost Vigil. After all, it has been restored ... sort of ... in the Novus Ordo.

FOOTNOTES
(1) The Vigil disappeared under Pius XII; we should never forget that the disintegration of the Classical Roman Rite has Pius XII [if not S Pius X!] for its godfather. The 'Council' and its aftermath merely formed a logical progression of what Pius XII and Mgr Bugnini and others had already enthusiastically set rolling in the 1950s.
(2) The practical problem of administering Confirmation to adolescents, familiar to all Anglican parish clergy, is summed up in the old Anglican joke about one Churchwarden advising another about how to get rid of the bats in his belfry despite the fact that they are a protected species. "We just got the Bishop to climb up the ladder to the bell-chamber and clamber round the bells and confirm every bat he could find. We've never had a single one of them inside the Church since".

19 May 2018

Apostasy

I have deleted a submitted comment in which the writer assured me that, if X were to happen, "That is the day I walk out of the Church never to return".

I had better be frank about this.

Such a contingent threat of Apostasy, if seriously meant, suggests to me that the writer is in a most dangerous spiritual state.

It is true that PF treats the Church Militant (happily, there is no way he can get his hands on the Church Expectant and it is not within his mercifully limited power to "make a mess" in the Church Triumphant) as if it were some sort of private playground in which he can get up to whatever games he finds personally satisfying and heap up any number of his boasted "messes". But the Church is the Body of Christ. Not PF's playground; not mine; not yours.

There have been appallingly bad popes in the past and, depending on how long it is until the Eschaton, there very probably will be more of them in the future. None of that makes a nanogram of difference to the fact that the Catholic Church is the Ark of Salvation; the only and the essential Ark of Salvation.

And it is not a human and worldly 'membership organisation' which one can walk out of in a huff. You and I were incorporated into it by our Baptism. It is rooted in eternity; splendid as an army with banners; a terror to the fallen spirits; a wonder to the Angels.

If anything I have ever written has, however unintentionally, given any encouragement to the sort of unCatholic attitude which horrified me in that comment as I sat down to deal with it this morning, then, here and now, I repent of it.

If PF, or I, by our misconduct, drive one soul to "walk out of the Church", then he (or I) will have to answer for that in the day of Judgement. But the person who has "walked out never to return" will have the gravest charge of all to answer.

Apostasy.

18 May 2018

A very personal problem

The Vatican has just put out a teaching document on economic matters. For me, personally, and I can speak for nobody else, this moment precisely epitomises the problem created by PF's misuse of the munus given him by God.

At any time before 2013, I would have simply received such a document with docility. In a case like this present one, because it deals with matters in which I am not personally academically competent, I would have done my best to understand it, quite simply because (although not ex cathedra) it came to me with authority. I would have done my best to put myself into the position of being able to explain and commend it on this blog and to members of Christ's faithful people to whom I might find myself speaking or who, out of a misguided esteem for myself, asked me about it.

But that is not how things can be now. For five years, PF has, arguably, played irresponsible games with the authority placed in his hands. He has - daily - pursued policies which are difficult to reconcile with a faithful following of our Most Holy Redeemer. In particular, he appears to have set himself to undermine the careful teaching of his predecessors, notably the last two, on the evils of moral relativism, and has publicly ignored appeals to bring clarity to these appearances. Unbelievably, the Successor of S Peter is seen by both admirers and critics as one who encourages souls for whom Christ died to be comfortable in a life of habitual adultery. He has impudently justified his conduct by talking about a God of Surprises. Hagan lios: he has had the temerity to go so far as to create 'a mess' in the Lord's Vineyard; and then to invite others to follow him.

It was necessary, 1300 years ago, to say in sad condemnation of an earlier pope, that 'he has permitted the purity of the Church to be polluted'; that 'he has fostered heresy'. Because this has happened, we know that it can happen.

If ... may God grant it ... from this very moment onwards PF's pontificate were to be a model of humble repentance and of chastened discipleship ... then, indeed, laus Deo; but it would inevitably still take a time for it to become apparent Urbi et Orbi that this sea-change had taken place.

Whether under this pontiff or another, it may be years before one can again receive teaching emerging from the Vatican in the old simple, childlike, obedient trust; with open and willing ears. There will long be the nagging, destabilising, anxiety that, in such very extraordinary times, the chill bonds of conscience and of duty might require one dokimazein ta pneumata.

This is the measure of the catastrophic damage which Jorge Bergoglio has done to his great Office of maintaining the Depositum Fidei by being a remora against the assaults of Novelty. In Blessed John Henry Newman's language, we feel less securely under our feet the rock of the soliditas cathedrae Petri. It may take decades, at the least, for the good God to heal this insecurity.

17 May 2018

The Irish Referendum

I originally posted this piece on 1 June 2015. It seems depressingly relevant as the Irish electorate faces another Referendum, again, in effect, inviting them to vote for or against Christ.

When I was young, there was a lot of talk to the effect that Vatican I had defined the Papacy; but had left its teachings unbalanced by saying so little about the Episcopate. Vatican II was said to have done splendidly by correcting this balance.

So, at Vatican II, we had the status of bishops being given a puff ... by the bishops! And the bishops, additionally, claiming enormous moral credit for ... themselves giving themselves this puff!

I wonder what narrative History will give of the First World Episcopate in the decades since the Council.

I could go on about the collapse within the Church of the religious orders, of vocations to the priesthood. I could get rhetorical about the Liturgy. But I might simply be expressing my own prejudices. I have as many, if not more, human failings than most. And perhaps what has happened since the Council constituted in some cases (as it certainly did in the case of Liturgy) simply an extrapolation of what was already happening.

But ... the Paedophile Priest scandal! Here, considered objectively, we do have a massive dereliction of duty on the part of Bishops and of Episcopacy. In many cases, it seems, they disregarded juridical procedures and maintained 'the filth' in pastoral ministry.

And then there have been some high-profile episcopal adulterers; firstly in Ireland and then in Scotland and most recently in England (I wonder, incidentally, if there has been any enquiry into who knew what about Kieran Conry before his episcopal nomination; and why not).

I think it does the Irish laity enormous credit, in all the circumstances, that [in the Gay Marriage Referendum] so many of them did vote in accordance with the teachings of the Church. (One constituency voted against SSM; two constituencies, knife-edge.)

It would be reassuring if some representative body of bishops ... perhaps, let's say, a Synod ... were to express some corporate regret about what their Order has done to the Church in the last disastrous half century. It has, in some parts of the world and in more than a few individuals, shown disturbing indications of a radical dysfunctionality.

Instead, we have suggestions of enhancing still further the powers of this Order by entrenching canonically and structurally and even dogmatically their Episcopal Conferences.

Holy Mother Church needs that like she needs a hole in the head.

16 May 2018

sermon concludes

Throughout history, Mary comes to us as the Immaculate Conception; the one whom God preserved from Original Sin so that she could be the perfect and flawless Mother of God the Divine Son; so that she could give God back his own gift to her by giving him a perfect and flawless humanity to unite inseparably with his Divinity. And Mary comes to us as our Mother too, as well as the Mother of Jesus. Because if we are one with Christ, one in Christ, as S Paul teaches, then Christ's Mother is our Mother too. When we kneel at the Altar to receive the Lord's Body and Blood, what the priest puts  upon our lips is the Body that Jesus took from Mary and the Blood which flowed in her veins before it flowed in his. Mary is our Mother; and what is it that mothers give their children, soon after birth, except food? Our Mother Mary brings food for her children "in this our exile", food neatly packaged for the journey we are making through this Vale of Tears; food to give us strength until we reach our True Native Land. beth lehem is Hebrew for House of Bread; and when we come to Communion the Mother of this House, the Great Mother of God Mary Most Holy, brings from her cupboard and sets within us the Blessed Fruit of her womb Jesus. Because Mary is not locked away in Bethlehem or Nazareth; she's not even a fixture who only made it as far as Lourdes. Mary walks down the centuries and across the seas and countries and hurries to make her way to this country of England in this our Mary Month of May; she comes this afternoon to this place and to this moment of time; comes to be your Mother and your merciful guide and advocate, here, in your own land.
The sermon is concluded.

15 May 2018

sermon continues

I don't think Jesus changes; our Saviour God, Scripture tells us, is the same yesterday, today, and always. And I know Mary must be the same, yesterday, today, and always. I was privileged - together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and several hundred other Church of England people - to go on pilgrimage to Lourdes in the year of the 150th anniversary of the Appearances of the Mother of God to S Bernardette Soubirous. We prayed at a little cleft in a rocky cliffside, called the Grotto, which is where S Bernardette had her vision. The Archbishop bent forward full-length on the cold, damp rock of the little cave and prayed there for some minutes. A few feet above his head was the fissure, the slit where our Lady appeared. At the time, S Bernardette was 14 years old - just the same age as Mary was when she became God's Mother - and Bernardette described the Lady of her vision as"no bigger than me". It is as though, through all eternity, Mary is to be seen of men as she was at that moment when she did the Great Thing which all the millennia had been looking forward to and brought God into his own world as her own Baby. She is for ever the One-giving-birth-to-God, Theotokos. And she was, so S Bernardette said, very beautiful. Beautiful, we might say, like her Son who is the fairest among the Sons of Adam.

Let me tell you another thing about Mary that doesn't seem to change. It's the way she talks. Just as she murmured to her Baby, not in Greek, the international language of Big People in government and politics, but in Aramaic, the language of ephphatha and Abba, so, when she appeared at Lourdes, she didn't speak to Bernardette in some grand language of the great affairs of men. There in Lourdes, in the Grotto, two or three feet above where Archbishop Rowan got his cassock damp from lying on the rock underneath the statue of our Lady, they've written the words Mary said when Bernardette asked her who she was: Que soy era Immaculado Concepcion. And that's not French. It's the local dialect, a branch of an ancient and almost extinct language they spoke in the South of France centuries before they spoke French there. It's called Gascon, and it's the language little girls like Bernardette still used among themselves. Que soy era Immaculado Concepcion: I am the Immaculate Conception. 

Continues later

14 May 2018

The (new) Bishop's fine new mitre ...

Firstly: apologies to those to whom I have, in the last fortnight, failed to reply. As I did explain a fortnight ago, I have been in retreat from Modernity ... id est, from all in-coming information about the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. I have now enabled many of the Comments some of you sent me during those two weeks.

A nice worldly, fleshly, and devilish tit-bit I missed in that period was about the daft new Austrian Bishop who wears a see-through Chasuble. My first thought, reading this, was to wonder whether his Mitre is also see-through. (My second: to wonder if the gentleman knows the story of the Emperor's New Suit.)

Indeed, episcopal rings, pectoral crosses, and pallia could all be made see-through too.

Why not?

After all, such trinkets only concern mere status. They are terribly out of the spirit of Bergoglian humility.The Mozetta PF wore when he first stepped out as Pope onto the balcony of S Peter's was, you will remember, entirely see-through.

13 May 2018

May Sermon

As I made a bonfire of old homilies, including some from 2011, I decided to give this one a last outing on the blog.
In lots of places, in the old days, there was a custom of fixing a card to the Paschal Candle giving some dates and times. This year the 'Charta' would have told you that it was the 1978th year since the Lord's Death and Resurrection; the 2011th since his Birth; and also the 2025th since the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tot it up: you'll see that, according to tradition, our Blessed Lady was 14 when she became God's Mother. There's a picture I find very moving - of a little girl, not much more than a child herself, leaning over the cradle of her baby Son, and murmuring the first endearments that a mother utters to the little thing that was part of her own body only minutes ago ... bonding, as they call it. And, as Divine Baby grew into Divine Toddler, I think we can actually put our finger on some of the things Mary said to her Son. The official language of that time was Greek, but I think that mothers and babies and people in bedrooms and kitchens used, in Palestine, a different languge: Aramaic. I don't think I have much doubt about one word Mary used to our blessed Lord. Imagine him - sitting in whatever sort of high chair they used to feed toddlers in. I think what Mary said was what most parents say: "Open wide". The little mouth opens, and one deftly manoeuvres the spoonful in before it shuts again. And the Aramaic for "Open wide" is Ephphatha. And so, when years later the Redeemer was healing a mute, S Mark tells us that he slipped from talking Greek into Aramaic and said "Ephphatha".

And I think I know another Aramaic word that Mary said to her Saviour. It was while she was teaching him his prayers and telling him about God the Father. She taught him to call God "Abba"; which some philologists translarte as "Daddy". In other words, she taught him to keep the Daddy-word, not for S Joseph, but for God the Father of Heaven. And we know Jesus called him "Abba"; he used that word in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest: " Abba, not my will but thine be done".

And there's another thing about that Mother and that Baby that people often don't spot. Our God and Lord Jesus Christ didn't have an earthly, human father; his Father was the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. Now: you know how it is with an ordinary baby: "Cor - he's got his mother's nose". "Look: she's got her father's ears". But this Baby ... there's only one person he could look like: Mary. If you could have seen them side by side, I'm sure you would have spotted the uncanny similarities; the distance between the eyes, perhaps; the curl of the lips; the shape of the fingernails; some indefinable likeness in the way each of them walked. Just as identical twins are so very like each other, I suspect that Mother and that Son must have been very strikingly similar. And, as our Lord took his humanity solely and uniquely from Mary's, I wonder if his human mind ran along the same tracks as hers; so that each often felt they knew what the other was thinking before anybody actually said anything ... as happens with some identical twins.
Continues later.

12 May 2018

Getting to Know Newman

I venture to make a constructive suggestion. In 1848 Newman published Loss and Gain; a partly autobiographical novel about the life, the currents of thought, the characteristic personages of the Oxford that he left in 1845. Of course we can (and should) go to Littlemore; how evocative it is, how welcoming the Sisters. You can venerate in nearby cases the red silk MA hood that Newman wore when celebrating the Eucharist as an Anglican, and the alb he wore at his first Eucharist in full Communion with the See of S Peter. But if it is Newman's mind you are after, this novel will be your key.

It is full of the most wonderful satire (as a satirist, Newman left Dean Swift many parasangs behind): of sweet young 'Catholic' things who think that they are discussing becoming monks and nuns when really they are falling in love with each other; of dons who use the XXXIX Articles to bully undergraduates but turn out not to know the actual text terribly well; of silly young ritualists who think that Catholicism is a matter of piscinas which will never drain an actual chalice and tabernacles which will never contain an actual Host; of the bizarre figures in the religious underworld of the day. And it contains some of Newman's most moving purple passages - not least Willis's famous eulogy of the Mass; and the description of worship in the unfinished Passionist Church.

Newman also describes the emotional hold of the Anglican Prayer Book upon those who know and love it, and its capacity to be a comfort in bad times as well as good. And the picture of the hero's father describes him as a decent, pious, generous, devout, popular, gentlemanly High Tory parson of the old school. This was Newman's tribute to all that was good and lovely in the Anglicanism which he had left; but my understanding of it is that Newman is praising, in Anglicanism, those good and wholesome things which were natural goods but which preceded the special graces which come with Catholic Faith. Newman's own father had been a banker, but he gave Charles Reding a gentlemanly clerical father who was generous to the poor and whose manners made him welcome in the greatest houses ... but whose sermons were undoctrinal.

Little known because of anti-Catholic prejudice, this book is, I am convinced, one of the greatest, most cleverly and most sharply yet beautifully written pieces of fiction produced by the nineteenth century.

11 May 2018

Caught you out there

I refer to all those pedants who thought they had caught me out in error when I described this Diocese as "The old Catholic Diocese of Oxford" ... since it was founded by "King" Henry "VIII", surely better referred to as Tudor Minor.

Yah boo ... the diocese of Oxford was erected by Reginald Cardinal Pole on December 24, 1554, by virtue of his Legatine powers, in his Legatine Constitution Cum supremum. So there.

Another bit of Revenge Pedantry: Roman Catholic writers love to remind us that, apart from a Welshman called Kitchen, no 'Marian' bishop conformed to the 'Settlement' of Elizabeth Tudor the once Virgin 'Queen'. Not so. Hugh Curwen, who had been consecrated Archbishop of Dublin by Edmund 'Patrimony' Bonner, Bishop of London, in 1555, was later translated to Oxford. I often wonder how this poor old bishop-of-bray got on with the grim gang of Calvinists who were his confratres. Not to mention the Calvinist dons who by this time had been intruded into Oxford professorial chairs. "Serve him right", I hear you say. You are a heartless lot.

I append some very interesting comments attached to a much older post on this subject.

10 May 2018

We share His Divinity

From time to time I talk about Divinisation in the teaching of S Gregory Palamas and the Hesychast tradition; of course, the basis of the tradition is much older and indeed Biblical. The locus classicus is II Peter 1:4: we become theias koinonoi phuseos (shareholders in the Divine Nature). S Leo (or conceivably an admirer soaked in his thought and latinity) wrote the prayer we still use secreto at the filling of the chalice at Mass: eius divinitatis esse consortes (to be sharers of his Divinity). And the ancient Western Preface for the Ascension seems to come from the same mind: ut divinitatis suae tribueret esse participes (that he might grant us to be partakers of his Godhead).

Cranmer, in one of his less fortunate expansions of his Latin originals, made this into 'to prepare a place for us; that where he is, thither we might also ascend, and reign with him in glory'.(I suspect one reason for this mutilation is the Protestant Reformation belief that even the justified sinner is still totally a sinner, simul justus et peccator: against the Catholic view that sanctifying grace truly transforms.) Bad Old ICEL rendered this 'to claim for us a share in his divine life': where 'claim' is not the same as 'grant us to be partakers' , and 'divine life ' is a watering down of 'Divinity'.

Good New ICEL offers "sharers in his divinity". As so often, accuracy in Latin translation, as well as being desireable in itself, has the bonus of manifesting the essential unity of the Latin and Byzantine traditions.

9 May 2018

More on Steventon

The Directors of the Railway Company used to have their meeting in Steventon; it is roughly half-way between London and Bristol, and a train from each place brought the two groups of Directors for Board Meetings, held in a solid building (which still survives) beside the Railway Station (which does not; a "Kingdom Hall" is built on its site). If you go up Steventon High Street and then turn left down the ancient Causeway, half-timbered medieval houses beside you for all its length, you come to the Church. Its notice board caught my eye.

On it (I approve of the use of Heraldry) are the arms of the old Catholic Diocese of Oxford. These show a fess; above it, three female demi-Saints who were clearly princesses, since they are crowned. Tradition identifies them as S Frideswide, Advocata specialis almae Universitatis, and two other ladies who appear in her legends: S Margaret and S Etheldreda (the three appear again in the famous Eucharistic Window in S Thomas's, cause of the celebrated anti-Ritualist law-suit). In the base is an Ox walking across a ford. The old undergraduate joke was that the composition represents three lady dons viva-ing a cow.

However, the artist of the Steventon notice board had introduced a variation of his own. Each of the three ladies has her upper garment drawn open, revealing her breasts. They look for all the world like those rather noticeable 'priestesses' or 'mother goddesses' dug up by Sir Arthur Evans (whose home was not many miles away in Boars Hill) in Minoan Crete.

I wondered how one would blazon such a detail. The words "lactating, proper" passed through my mind, but that's not quite right.

8 May 2018

Steventon

Not long ago, we went down to Steventon, a large village South of Oxford.

Steventon was the place where one got off the train back in the days of Mr Newman, when the branch line up to Oxford had not yet been built and the Alma Universitas was resisting tooth and nail the distractions which such a piece of modern technology would bring to the undergraduate body. You will remember how, in Loss and Gain, Newman's semi-autobiographical novel, Charles Reding, after deciding to go for a pre-Ordinariate option, decides (for no very obvious reason demanded by the plot; Newman is clearly indulging his sentiment) to visit Oxford for the last time before his reception in London. "On his arrival at Steventon ... the afternoon being fine, he left his portmanteau to follow him by omnibus, and put himself on the road ... he had passed through Bagley Wood, and the spires and towers of the University came on his view, hallowed by how many tender associations, lost to him for two whole years, suddenly recovered - recovered to be lost for ever! There lay old Oxford before him, with its hills as gentle and its meadows as green as ever. At the first view of that beloved place, he stood still with folded arms, unable to proceed. Each college, each church, he counted them by their pinnacles and turrets. The silver Isis, the grey willows, the far-stretching plains, the dark groves, the distant range of Shotover ... wood, water, stone, all so calm, so bright, they might have been his, but his they were not ..."

 I will continue this a little later.

7 May 2018

Newman and "The Anglican Patrimony"

People still sometimes ask what is this Anglican Patrimony of which Professor Ratzinger wrote in Anglicanorum coetibus. I believe dear old Archdeacon ... oops, Cardinal ... Manning summed it up thus:

I see much danger of an English Catholicism of which Newman is the highest type. It is the old Anglican, patristic, literary, Oxford tone transplanted into the Church.

I have often wondered whether our own Henry 'Patrimony' Chadwick had Manning's words consciously in mind when he wrote

The fact that [Newman] had been converted to Catholicism by Oxford and the study of the Church Fathers, not by any personal friendship with Roman Catholics, meant that everything he wrote and said sounded almost Anglican.

That's the Patrimony: Anglican tone. Including, of course, Newman's old Anglican gifts of Irony, Satire, and especially, above all, and pretty well daily, the Argumentum ad hominem. And an adherence to Blessed John Henry's belief in the iniquities of Liberalism and of Ultrahyperueberpapalism. And his emphasis on getting one's guidance from the Fathers. And doing one's humble best to write decent English. That's what I would have concentrated upon if I had ben asked to read a paper at last week's Staggers Conference on The Patrimony. (I hope it went well without me.)

I am very much tempted to think that Ordinariate members should see themselves, not as "former Anglicans", but as "Anglicans", yet more proudly qualifying that already proud term by the phrase "in full communion with the Holy See".

I gather Melkites rather like calling themselves "Orthodox in communion with Rome".

United but not absorbed ... coat of many colours ... multiple lungs ...

6 May 2018

Consensus at the Wannsee Conference

In that chilling and disgusting meeting at which the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem was organised, it is clear that many of the participants were uneasy about certain categories ... half-Jews .... those married to Jews ... Jews who had won the Iron Cross (first Class) in the Great War. But what nobody round that table said was: this whole policy is radically evil.

The presuppositions were never debated. There was a basic consensus.

And many of the elderly among us have experienced how committees much less murderous than Wannsee deliver their results if determined people with a clear agenda have imposed or inherited parameters which nobody else questions.

I am always uneasy about debates which turn upon the question of what should be the criteria for the "termination of a pregnancy".

And, moving from these life-and-death questions ... going from the Infernal to the Ridiculous ... to accounts of the discussions leading to the liturgical 'reforms' of the 1960s, what fascinates me is, again, that no-one, as far as I know, queried the assumptions. What nobody said was: we were not given a free hand; we were given, by an Ecumenical Council, a list of specific mandates to which we are required to give effect. And, however attractive the arguments for such and such a particular innovation, we have no mandate for it.

"Consensus" is, especially for the managerial elites of our culture, a warm and cuddly word. But both the word and its reality seem to me profoundly potentially dangerous. I recall a passage from C S Lewis's Hideous Strength:  
"This was the first thing Mark had been asked to do which he himself, before he did it, clearly knew to be criminal. But the moment of his consent almost escaped his notice; certainly, there was no struggle, no sense of turning a corner. There may have been a time in the world's history when such moments fully revealed their gravity, with witches prophesying on a blasted heath or visible Rubicons to be crossed. But, for him, it all slipped past in a chatter of laughter, of that intimate laughter among fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men."

Ab omni malo consensu: libera nos Domine. 


5 May 2018

S John at the Latin Gate ... should it be a Double of the First Class?

S John at the Latin Gate, a Prayer Book festival (also still to be found in the delightfully unreformed Calendar of the University of Oxford) long since abolished on the modern Roman Calendar, reappears on May 6 on the Calendar of the Ordinariate (disguised as "S John in Eastertide")! Since you have probably been wondering why, and because I know you are discreet, I will let you into the secret. Just within these four walls. Are you sitting comfortably?

Before the Ordinariates were canonically erected by the great, the erudite, the fabulous Benedict XVI, the Pope of Christian Unity, a group of us had a series of highly confidential meetings in catacumbis, or, to be more prosaic, in the Catholick Apostolick cellars of Gordon Square, guided by our Flying Bishops. Episcopopteryx Andrew Burnham decided to term these the 'Latin Gate' meetings, because the first of them took place on May 6 in 2010! So tomorrow is the glorious celebration of the first synodos of that bold group, some of whom risked being bullied into premature resignation if their Anglican bishops had found out what they were up to (that is why the meetings had to be so secret).

What a lot seems to have happened in a mere eight years!

It celebrates the start of the process which led to those priests becoming the core of the founding presbyterate of the English Ordinariate. Imagine us as being rather like the courageous First Wave that stormed up the Normandy beaches on June 6 in 1944! I think that we battle-scarred heroes, we noble Band of Brothers, the Class of 2010, ought to be given special medals to pin proudly onto the Black Scarves of our Anglican choir dress. But, Fathers, the least we can do is to celebrate S John the Apostle at the Altar, provided he falls on a weekday ... as he will next year.

Those subterranean meetings eventually morphed into the 'Formation' [not a word I much like] meetings at Allen Hall, where we were made to feel wonderfully welcome by staff and students alike. It was an exhilarating experience for us, whose Catholic Faith was mediated to us within the Church of England, to feel, at last, our longed-for unity with the other great strand of English Catholicism, the Martyres. 

You will know that Allen Hall was founded at Douay following the accession of Elizabeth Tudor, Bloody Bess, after ex-vice-chancellors, Heads of Houses, Regius Professors, Fellows, students galore, had had to flee in a great Exodus from Oxford; and it was founded moreover by the indefatigable Cardinal Allen, sometime Proctor of this University and Principal of S Mary's Hall, who would have been Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England if only the winds had been a tadge more accommodating in 1588.

So Allen Hall is in a real continuity with Marian, Catholic, Oxford (so well evoked by Duffy's Fires). And it was a novel luxury for us to have access to its bibliotheca superbissima where the Bullaria of the Roman Pontiffs ... including the great Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini ... were just sitting there on the open shelves, immediately inside the door, generously available to anybody and everybody to browse in passing. Not even the library at Staggers was as well equipped! No wonder Allen Hall men are such excellent priests!

The food, too, was better than at Staggers.

4 May 2018

Chesterton and the Anglican liturgical tradition (3)

A last quotation from GKC:

"Modern prayers, and theirs [the Anglicans'] perhaps more than any, seem to be perfectly incapable of avoiding journalese. And the Prayer-Book prose seems to follow them like a derisive echo. Lambeth or Convocation will publish a prayer saying something like "Guide us, O Lord, to the solution of our social problems"; and the great organ of old will groan in the background .... "All who are desolate and oppressed." The first Anglicans asked for peace and happiness, truth and Justice; but nothing can stop the latest Anglicans, and many others, from the horrid habit of asking for improvement in international relations."

3 May 2018

Chesterton on the Anglican liturgical tradition (2)

"Let anyone recall for himself the very finest passages in the Book of Common Prayer and he will soon see that they are concerned specially with spiritual thoughts and themes that now seem strange and terrible; but anyhow, the reverse of common; ".. in the hour of death and in the day of Judgment". Who talks about the hour of death? Who talks about the Day of Judgement? Only a litter of shabby little priests from the Italian Mission. Not certainly the popular and eloquent Dean of Bumblebury, who is so Broad and yet so High. Certainly not the charming and fashionable Vicar of St Ethelbald's, who is so High and yet so Broad. Still less the clergyman helping in the same parish, who is frankly Low. It is the same on every page, where the spirit inspires that style. "Suffer us not, for any pains of death, to fall from Thee." ... "Ah, that's what gets you" (or words to that effect), as Lord Peter Wimsey truly said of this phrase, in the detective tale of Miss Dorothy Sayers; who, like Lord Peter, knows a good deal about other things besides poisons; and understands her hero's historical traditions very well. But did you ever hear the curate fresh from the cricket-field, or the vicar smiling undr the Union Jacks of the Conservatuive Rally, dwell upon that penultimate peril; or the danger of falling from God amid the pains of death? Very morbid. Just like those Dago devotional books. So very Roman."

2 May 2018

Chesterton on the Anglican liturgical tradition (1)

(ht to Professor Tighe)

" ... why has the old Prayer-Book a power like that of great poetry upon the spirit and heart? The reason is much deeper than the mere avoidance of journalese. It might be put in a sentence; it has style, it has tradition; it has religion; it was written by apostate Catholics. It is strong, not in so far as it is the first Protestant book, but in so far as it was the last Catholic book. 

As it happens, this can be proved in the most practical manner from the actual details of the prose. The most moving passages in the old Anglican Prayer Book are exactly those that are least like the atmosphere of the Anglicans. They are moving, or indeed thrilling, precisely because they say the things which Protestants have long left off saying; and which Catholics still say. Anybody who knows anything of literature knows when a style lifts itself to its loftiest efforts; and in these cases it is always to say strongly what we [Catholics] still endeavour to say, however weakly; but which nobody else ever endeavours to say at all. Let anyone recall for himself the very finest passages in the Book of Common Prayer, and he will soon see that they are concerned specially with spiritual thoughts and themes that now seem strange and terrible; but anyhow, the reverse of common."

More of this tomorrow; it comes from a collection of his pieces published in 1935, the year before he died (he had converted in 1922). When you read my next instalment, you will grow, I suspect, more and embarrassed about .... modern Catholic culture.

1 May 2018

Easter Festivals Pius XII and S John XXIII robbed us of

On May 3, we lose the Feast Inventionis Sanctae Crucis, double of the Second Class. It was a beautiful opportunity to contemplate the Cross suffused with rays of Easter, Resurrection, rejoicing. (The Easter Commemoratio de Cruce, added often at the end of Lauds and Vespers, served the same admirable purpose.) Of course, May 3 is the Novus Ordo date for SS Philip and James, the Dedication Festival of their Church; its ejection from May 1 by Pius XII to May 11 seems to me particularly deplorable. I was a bit depressed by the failure of the Ordinariate Calendar to rectify this disaster; but there is a legal way round this in the Ordinariate: say a votive of Pip and Jim on May 1!

Both of these feasts were Days of Devotion (Holy Days which had been demoted from "Obligation to go to Mass" to "You are most strongly urged to go to Mass"), and were still days on which Parish Priests were obliged applicare Missam pro populo. The ease with which, from the middle of the twentieth century, quite highly ranking festivals were dumped or shifted around from day to day at the ephemeral whimsy of transient Pontiffs, or rather, their liturgical 'experts', seems to me an early indication of that arbitrary approach of papal liturgists to Tradition to which we rightly apply terms like Rupture and against which Benedict XVI complained.

Pip and Jim, of course, went on their travels in 1956, after Pius XII, or one of his advisers, had the bright idea of snitching May 1 from the Marxists by making it the Solemnity of S Joseph the Workman ('Opifex' ... 'Craftsman'?). The Cunning Ploy never worked, not least because the US of A kept Labour Day on quite a different date. In any case, I rather liked  putting on blood-red vestments on the Workers' Day and commemorating the Apostle who, in his Prayer Book Epistle, did make some remarks about the Unrighteous Rich which surpass in fruitiness anything Marx and Engels said. So, for most of the Latin Church, the Workman on May 1 as a major celebration lasted little more than a decade.

And when S Joseph was frogmarched to May 1, his solemnity on the Wednesday after Easter II was abolished ... a Double of the First Class with an Octave reduced to zilch, just like that. It had been extended (from the Carmelites) to the entire Church by Blessed Pius IX in 1847 ... the eve of the Year of Revolutions (you recall that we also owe to him the Feast of the Precious Blood) ... and was moved from a Sunday after Easter to a Wednesday by Pius X. Frankly, I rather like the propers for that feast, with their emphasis on S Joseph's ancestry and the suggestion that his antitypical sexual continence is typified by his typical namesake's rejection of Mrs Potiphar's bed. That the 'Workman' was pure, temporary, faddery ... what PF would call a modo ... is demonstrated by his demotion to an Optional Memorial in the post-Conciliar rite.

Incidentally, younger readers should make a note that - as Wise Virgins who keep Cheney by their computers will already have spotted - in 2047, 2058, and 2069, the Wednesday after Easter II will fall ... on May 1! Annos valde Iosephinos! Episcopal Conferences, as they feverishly read this blog, might like to remember that they have the competence to move, for the Novus Ordo, S Joseph from March 19 to a date permanently outside Lent ... they could select the Wednesday after Easter II!

S John before the Latin Gate, and S Michael, May 8, will follow in a day or two.