17 June 2018

Photographs in Church

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

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

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

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

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

Pius IX

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

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

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

16 June 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 June 2018

The Rape of Clio

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 June 2018

S Dunstan ... a problem

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

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

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

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

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

This would also discourage careerists ...

13 June 2018

Slippery Slopes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 June 2018

Ultra-Catholics and moustachioed Jesuit 'generals'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 June 2018

Local Calendars (3)

I follow on from my series on the English Martyrs; taking, again, the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton as an example of how, in my opinion, we who celebrate the Extraordinary Form should organise our local Calendars.

The diocese of A & B was carved out of the old Southwark diocese after the de facto demise of the Old Rite. Should one therefore continue to use the old Southwark EF Calendar, since there is no provision made for A & B by the Sacred Congregation of Rites?

Up to a point, in my view, but only up to a point!

In my last two pieces, I offered some suggestions about how a Calendar needs to be emended to incorporate more fully the English Martyrs. Continuing to apply the principles underlying Canon 19, I suggest also the following.

The old diocese of Southwark included Canterbury, and that is presumably why its Calendar included a number of sainted Archbishops of Canterbury over and above the number of those Archbishops who are of interest throughout England (these latter, of course, should be retained). It seems to me that such Archbishops ought not to be on an EF Calendar for A & B. Nor should any other Saints who are really of only Kentish (or South London) concern.

This is what the Novus Ordo Calendar for A & B has considered right. The OF Calendar, of course, has no authority in the EF, but it is surely among the sources of guidance to which the principles of Canon 19 suggest it is proper for us to turn when there is an unfilled gap in the strictly lawful provision.

As there is in A & B!

10 June 2018

Donald Trump

Can any of my transpontine readers explain why Mr Trump wears a Brigade of Guards tie? Is it his die-hard Anglophilia? Can we expect him to drop the usual "Mah fellow Americans" and begin his speeches with "Mah fellow Grenadiers"? Did he leave the G7 early in order to parade incognito in yesterday's Trooping of the Colour on the Monarch's Official Birthday?

In the jolly old English phrase, he is clearly a man of many parts, not all of them public. Is it true that he is planning to bring out an improved edition of How to make friends and influence people?

White Rose Day

The wild roses in our hedgerows seem even more generously and abundantly in blossom this year than usual ... almost as if Boucher or Fragonard were personally responsible for their frothy glory ...

... On June 10, in 1688, our late Sovereign Lord King James II and VII was presented by his wife with a Son and Heir, who was to reign for longer than any other British Monarch de iure.

His Birthday became known as White Rose Day, and those who advocated his rights wore either a white rose or ... out of season ... a white cockade. Oxford was an immensely Jacobite city ... you could tap Geach into the Blog's Search Engine.

To the Glorious Memory of King James III and VIII!

Nunc est bibendum! Nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus!

And Vivat Rex!

And three cheers for the Governing House of Liechtenstein!

You know it makes sense!

9 June 2018

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (5)

If you browse through the Pontificale Romanum as it so admirably was before the post-Conciliar depravations, you will discover that the most solemn liturgical blessings and consecrations both of persons and of things had one constant feature. They began like the Preface of the Mass, with Dominus vobiscum; Sursum corda; Gratias agamus; Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare .... This is how Major Orders were conferred; how Chrism and the Paschal Candle were blessed; how Abbots, Abbesses, Virgins and Queens, Churches and Altars, were solemnly blessed. The custom was not 'primitive'; but expressed very beautifully the 'primitive' understanding that it is by Thanksgiving, Eucharistia, that things are blessed and made over to God. Nowadays, apart from the Mass, the Paschal Candle appears to be the only survival in the Novus Ordo of this noble custom (apparently, in modern liturgical theology, candles are more sacral objects than Bishops or even Virgins!). Couratin provides the Prayer for the Ordination of Priests remodelled in this way. Here we have something more than just an elegant literary embellishment; it is in itself a theological statement. Priests are something more than the merely functional. They are consecrated, changed, just as the Eucharistic Elements themselves are consecrated and changed.


The Rite of Ordination which I have described was only used in one Anglican diocese (as far as I know) and possibly only during two episcopates, those of Kirk and Carpenter. I must emphatically disclaim any intention of investing my narrative with any broader theological significance. But that Diocese was a rather special star in our Anglican firmament (fuit Troia, fuimus Troiani ...), and Kirk was a profoundly significant figure in that now long-vanished Anglo-Catholic world of Dix and Mascall and Farrer and their associates. Surely, it cannot fail to be a matter of interest precisely how just such a bishop solemnly administered the Sacrament of Holy Order in his Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford?

How happy are those Oxford flocks
How free from heretics;
Their clergy all so orthodox
Their Bishop orthoDix. 

Bishop Harry Carpenter was succeeded by Kenneth Woolcombe, an enthusiast for the the ordination of women who was put in despite scant experience of the parochial ministry because he was regarded as a high-flyer who would almost certainly go on to Canterbury. Exactly what happened I don't know; I had moved on to Southwark (the C of E has no system of Incardination). But an enormous collapse undoubtedly occurred in the diocese. There is no trace now of that great old succession of scholar bishops and erudite parish clergy.

As the current Roman regime apparently moves towards the 'nuancing' of Humanae Vitae, we should also remember Bishop Charles Gore, who so unambiguously and so robustly denounced the apostasy of Lambeth 1930 in this matter of conjugal ethics. His witness is part of our Patrimony.

May I thank all those who, on this day of my Golden Jubilee, have sent me good wishes. Above everything, thanks be to God that by his merciful grace I have kept the Faith.


8 June 2018

It is important to keep up the pressure

Professor William Tighe ... goodness me, what a fantastic ministry he does perform of keeping sound information circulating ... points out that Fr Weinandy has published, in The Catholic Thing, a neat, elegant, and witty demonstration that the real "Neo-Gnostics" in the Church are ... stone the crows ... the Bergoglians!! Beautiful. Understated and magnificent.

Weinandy, you will remember, was the last Warden of the Oxford Greyfriars, who wrote a helpful letter to the Pope last summer and, for his trouble, was sacked by the Yankie-doodle bishops from something or other which I cannot now remember. Neither can you.

Sackings can be such fun. I think all those with a record of criticising the current regime should be given half-a-dozen or more grand titular roles so that they can be progressively stripped of them. Thus will discipline be maintained.

I would like a few archdeaconries and canonries and one or two prebends. I don't think Pam would permit me to be an Abbot nullius, even in partibus infidelium. Extraordinary Papal Legate to the Order of the Golden Fleece would be nice. Or Apostolic Administrator in absentia of the Arctic Ice-Cap.

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (4)

Continues ...
Couratin made further additions from the Pontifical; before the Ordination Prayer he included a translation of the formula Oremus fratres carissimi ...; and, during the administration of Holy Communion, the Choir were to sing the Jam non dicam vos servos .... He introduced the Offering by the Newly-ordained to the Bishop, and provided a formula: the Pontiff said "I will offer in his dwelling an oblation with great gladness: I will sing and speak praises unto the Lord"; and the choir sang "Ye have not chosen me ...". Then, during "The offering of the Bread and Wine" the choir sang "Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech". It is not difficult to detect here a determination to restore that sense of Sacrifice and Priesthood which Apostolicae curae had complained that Cranmer had eliminated.

Apostolicae curae did, however, have a point. By eliminating the part of the Roman Canon which followed the Consecration, the Prayer Book Rite presented Anglo-Catholics with a problem. Having successfully taught their laity that the bread and wine truly became the Lord's Body and Blood, they found they had a rite in which the Consecration now appeared merely to be a way of securing the Presence so that it could be adored and/or received. This was accentuated by the growing practice of singing the Agnus Dei after the Consecration. My learned predecessor at S Thomas's, Trevor Jalland, observed "Thus the whole attention of the worshippers is concentrated on the Presence at the very time when there should be thought of sacrificial offering" (This our Sacrifice, 1933, 146sqq.). He went on to suggest that "a partial remedy lies ready to hand". He recommended the use of hymns "expressive of the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist", mentioning in particular one of a number of hymns composed by W W H Jervois designed to paraphrase parts of the Unde et memores and to teach the doctrine of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice for the departed as well as for the living. This hymn was duly introduced into the Oxford rite of Ordination between the Consecration and the Agnus Dei.

It appears with the title "Hymn at the Consecration", and reads: Wherefore, O Father, we thy humble servants/ Here set before thee Christ thy well-beloved,/ All-perfect Offering, Sacrifice immortal,/ Spotless Oblation.// See now thy children, making intercession/ Through him our Saviour, Son of God incarnate,/ For all thy people, living and departed,/ Pleading before thee. It was often sung in Anglo-Catholic churches (as late as the 1960s in Pusey Chapel in Oxford) after the Consecration, while the Celebrant said various things secreto. I would be interested if anyone had evidence bearing on how widespread this usage was.

This little booklet produced for the guidance of the congregation does not mention the Latin Church's ancient custom of Concelebration by the newly ordained. But at the rehearsal, the Precentor, Fr Michael Watts, a product of St Stephen's House in the era of Canon Couratin, explained about Concelebration to the ordinands, and instructed them what to do. I remember this clearly!

Perhaps the most striking changes made by Couratin concerned the central Prayer of the Rite. As left by Cranmer, this failed to ask the Almighty to do anything whatsoever to the Ordinands. Couratin made three changes. He printed the heading "The Prayer for the Holy Spirit". Following the draft Prayer Book of 1928, which Parliament had rejected, he inserted into the Prayer a request that God would "endue them with all grace needful for their calling". And (again following 1928) he significantly changed the opening of the Prayer ...  as I plan to explain next time.

7 June 2018

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (3)

Continues ...
The Prayer Book forms of Ordination, unlike those in the Pontifical, provide Proper Collects and Epistles and Gospels. For the highly  'Romanising' form of the Anglican Rite which we are examining, it was necessary to supply what the Prayer Book lacked: such as an Introit, a Gradual, and an Alleluia (in English and in plainchant). Couratin [if my identification of the hand at work here is correct] secured them from a very interesting source. The Introit Hic accipiet benedictionem is from Psalm 23/24; Hic ... Jacob; Domini est terra; Gloria; Hic. It comes from a form disused in the Catholic Church herself since the Conciliar ruptures, the Rite De Clerico faciendo or Tonsure. It is what the Choir sings immediately after the Pontiff has cut the hair of the candidates. In other words, Couratin begins the service by supplying what would have been experienced by the ordinands if they had been taken through the Tonsure and Minor Orders as prescribed in the Pontifical.

The Gradual and Alleluia are from Psalm 14/15 and 15/16 and represent the following: Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo, aut quis requiescit in monte sancto tuo? V Qui ingreditur sine macula et operatur justitiam; qui loquitur veritatem in corde suo. Alleluia. Alleluia. V Dominus pars haereditatis meae et calicis mei: tu es qui restitues haereditatem meam mihi. Alleluia. This Alleluia incorporates the words which the ordinand was required to say while the Bishop was actually cutting his hair. Pope Benedict XVI took it to heart and remembered it all his life, quoting it in his Christmas Address to the Roman Curia in 2007. "This is marvellously expressed in a verse of a  priestly Psalm that we - the older generation - spoke during our admittance to the clerical state: 'The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, you hold my lot'. The priest praying in this psalm interprets his life on the basis of the distribution of territory as established in Deuteronomy. After taking possession of the land, every tribe obtained by drawing of lots its portion of the Holy Land and, with this, took part in the gift promised to the people of God. The tribe of Levi alone received no land: its land was God himself. This affirmation certainly had an entirely practical significamce. Priests did not live like the other tribes by cultivating the earth, but on offerings. However, the affirmation goes deeper. The true foundation of the priestly life, the ground of his existence, the ground of his life, is God himself. The Church in this Old Testament interpretation of the priestly life has rightly seen ... the following of the Apostles in communion with Jesus  himself, as the explanation of what the priestly mission means. The priest can and must say today with the Levite Dominus pars haereditatis meae et calicis mei. God himself is my portion of land, the external and internal foundation of my existence. ..."
To be continued.


I felicitate Americans whose Supreme Court has found for the American Evangelical bakers.

I hope our own Supreme Court will come to a similar conclusion about some Ulster Evangelical Bakers. Call me a Marsh-wiggle if you like, but I don't trust that Lady Hale who is the new president of our Court. She backed the sacking of a couple of senior Glaswegian midwives who refused to organise abortions. She held that conscience clauses only protect medical personel from being compelled physically to partake in the 'procedure'.

It will be interesting to see what today's SCUK Judgement on the validity of the Northern Irish Abortion Law comes up with. Will it resurrect the old Denning dream of judges (in effect) setting aside Statute Law?

6 June 2018


Nice images via the Internet of the reopening of the beautifully restored Church of Corpus Christi, Covent Garden. NB the Ordinariate presences at the EF Pontifical High Mass: Fr Elliot-Smith, pp of Warwick Street, deaconing; and in choir the Ordinary the Rt Revd Mgr Keith Newton  (episcopus emeritus Rutupiensis necnon et protonotarius apostolicus). And I think one of my Churchwardens may have been there. Now that really is a very good sign.

Also there in choir, Fr John Osman, who has done such wonderful things to his own exquisite little church at Dorchester near Oxford.

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (2)

I suspect Couratin of having the large hand in producing this booklet, because when I was a seminarian at Staggers under Fr Derek Allen, the liturgical dispositions put in place by Canon Couratin were still in place. There was a particular style about them; that of accommodating Anglican formulae to a Tridentine Roman mindset. I can't express it better than thus, and with the following examples, which those of you with a certain sort of background will understand: at the Divine Office, we used to say the Collect of the Day with the standard longer conclusion, then the last two of the three final collects sub una conclusione with the longer ending after the last one (instead of Cranmer's varied conclusions after each one). At the start of Lent, a notice went up signed by the Bishop of the Diocese formally dispensing members of the House from the strict observance of the Lenten Fast. Mass Practice sessions inculcated the Tridentine ceremonial even in the case of seminarians who would, in their title parishes, be marrying up that ceremonial to Cranmer's libretto. So Couratin's my hunch; but, out of honesty, I'd better give you evidence for different conclusions.

When Kirk became Bishop of Oxford, certain changes were made which are described in the biography of Kirk written by his son-in-law, Eric Kemp, long-time Bishop of Chichester. These were masterminded by his friend Canon Dr N P Williams [who also used to help out at S Thomas's]. Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost were henceforth marked by a Pontifical High Mass. Kirk was given a full set of pontifical vestments, which he used on these and other occasions (they may the ones which he bequeathed to his episcopal son-in-law). "The ceremonial of the ordination was carefully worked out by Williams and E C Ratcliff, and later on was under the direction of A H Couratin ...". Ratcliff was a most distinguished liturgist with a passion for the Roman Canon; he did a great deal in collaboration with Couratin, who had an instinctive understanding of his mind. If the little booklet I am examining was the product of Ratcliff and Couratin working together, this would fit the data. It's just that I am a trifle doubtful about evidence for Williams' hand in it. (He was dead by the time of the publication of the booklet; but, of course, there could have been an earlier version of the booklet.)

So, when in the next instalments, I refer to "Couratin", what I really mean is ... whichever of these three, severally or in which combinations, did it.



ONEPETERFIVE is carrying a story that the outgoing Archbishop of La Plata has not only had his resignation accepted with significantly indecent haste, but is being told not to reside in the Archdiocese. If this turns out to be true, it will show a cavalier attitude to Canon Law (402:  ... habitationis sedem, si id exoptet, in ipsa dioecesi servare potest, nisi certis in casibus ob specialia adiuncta ab Apostolica Sede aliter provideatur.)

It has long been my fear that PF might wish to fast-track Tucho Fernandez, the Professor of the Art of Kissing, to be Prefect of the CDF. This may be a step towards that. We must pray that this pontificate may not last long enough to allow any such plot to mature.

If all this is true, it exemplifies the picture painted by recent historians, of this pontificate as a tyranny; an absolute monarchy. Sire; Lawler; Douthat. Except that in real absolute monarchies there were de facto checks and balances.

The only attractive feature of this story is that the emeritus archbishop is said to have been offered a bed by an Orthodox bishop. Vivat Byzantium.

God grant that the whole story may turn out to be untrue.

5 June 2018

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (1)

The Choir.
Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, qui ...

is how the little book begins; it was among my late Mother's effects. On the cover it reads: "This book is the property of the Diocese of Oxford and must not be taken away." But my Mother, God rest her soul, was rather inclined to keep little mementos of memorable occasions; and this was "The Form and Manner of Making and Ordaining of Deacons and Priests"; and she preserved it as a memento of my Deaconing in 1967 and my Priesting on 9 June 1968 in the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford. It has some interesting features.

It bears no date; but bibliographical considerations narrow its printing down to the period 1945-1947; and thus to the episcopate (1937-1955) of Kenneth Escott Kirk, predecessor of the Bishop Harry Carpenter who ordained me. I look upon both of these as sacerdotes valde magni; incidentally, for those Catholics (sometimes they write to me) to whom the papal condemnation of Anglican Orders in Apostolicae curae is a very important part of their Faith, I will in passing point out that each of those two bishops received the episcopate from coconsecrators including Bishop Bertram Fitzgerald Simpson, who was himself raised to the 'Old Catholic', i.e. Dutch Schismatic but indubitably valid, episcopate in 1932 by Henry Theodore John Vlijmen, Bishop of Haarlem (utpote per consecratorem aequiprincipalem). Rome has never condemned 'Old Catholic' Orders, and, indeed, accepts them as valid. Simpson left it on record that when he took part in subsequent consecrations, he carefully intended always to pass on the Dutch, as well as the Anglican, episcopal succession.

(Incidentally, I believe I am right in saying that Bishop Kirk used to consecrate the oils according to the Roman Pontifical (preConciliar, of course) in the Benedictine Abbey at Nashdom, within his diocese, where Mass and all the Offices were done in Latin. I wonder if he was the first Church of England bishop since Tudor times to consecrate the Holy Oils?)

Ecce sacerdos magnus is a significant starter to a service; it is what is sung in Catholic churches when a Bishop enters solemnly for a great liturgical occasion. Bishops Kirk and Carpenter certainly regarded themselves as Catholic Bishops in the fullest Catholic sense; both were distinguished Anglo-Catholic scholars and Oxford academics and it was Kirk who masterminded the collection The Apostolic Ministry (1946) which defended Catholic doctrines of priesthood and episcopacy. Among his close friends (and an Honorary Chaplain from 1946) was Canon Arthur Hubert Couratin, Principal of St Stephen's House (1936-1962; died 1988) and a considerable liturgist both theoretical and practical. He used to bring his 'circus', a gang of seminarian servers, to the Cathedral in order to 'do' Kirk's ordinations. I believe, from internal evidence, that the little book I am considering is a collaboration between Kirk and Couratin; and it exhibits ... as I have said ... some very interesting features, of which Ecce sacerdos magnus is the first.
To be continued. This is in five parts, and I shall not enable any comments until all five have appeared.


In the last couple of days, I have enabled two comments from valued correspondents, one accusing another person of 'fatuity'; the second employing the term 'twaddle'.

Henceforth, I shall not enable comments such as these.

4 June 2018


I commend an article at New Liturgical Movement in which Dr Peter Kwasniewski argues that the Classical Roman Rite and the Classical Byzantine Rite [and one might add other rites from further East] have a commonality which the Novus Ordo lacks.

I am reminded of how the former Patriarch of Moskow welcomed Summorum Pontificum on the grounds that when East and West properly respect their own rites, they grow closer in their Common Ancient Traditions.

In the Novus Ordo, every single euchological formula in the classical Roman Rite has either been eliminated or modified or, when allowed to survive, has only been tolerated because it is considered to be in accordance with the transient and already out-dated assumptions of the 1960s.

The rupture of the 1960s can be paralleled only in the ruptures of the 'Reformation'.

BTW: I have heard on a grapevine [but not seen its text] that the Eparch in Britain for the Syro-Malabar Rite has preached a fine homily on the Liturgy as the organ of Tradition and of magisterial teaching.


A marvellous day or two last week at Ramsgate during their S Augustine's Week.

I took the train along the North Kent coast ... which was a bit of a disappointment. Passing through Rochester, I failed to see, from the train, Rochester Cathedral. The train then reached Margate, where of course, like any good Catholic, I scanned the platform carefully to see if I could catch a glimpse of the magnificent Fr Tim ... but, sadly, no sighting. Soon we slowed down to enter Broadstairs ... Ah, I thought, surely a glimpse here of a certain dignified episcopal presence ... but there was not a sign of His Excellency to wave me on my way with a Dickensian benediction or to cheer me with a snatch of Beethoven.

But Ramsgate was no disappointment. From the superb between-the-Wars Railway Station onwards, every prospect pleased. Not least the sight of the hospitable Shrine Rector, Fr Marcus, and of my old friend and colleague from Lancing, Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate, a considerable Historian. The Catholics of Ramsgate are very fortunate in their clergy.

If you don't know Ramsgate, as I didn't, you should follow my lead and remedy the omission (preferably during S Augustine's Week). I peered out through the sea fret almost hoping to see a phantasma of S Augustine's boat bringing the purest Roman Christianity to the people of Kent; then i looked round the Church which now houses a relic of the Saint. Forgive me for going all wet on you, but I felt a great sense of being 'in on' the foundation of the English Church, a millennium and a half ago.

And Ramsgate had the luck to be favoured by Pugin, the architectural wizard who breathed more than a little life into the memories of the Age of Faith. His house ... his Church. Apparently, he had a tunnel from his house down to where his boat was moored, so that he could rescue sailors (and their cargoes) who navigated carelessly close to the Goodwin Sands. Believe it or not, he built his Church out of the money he made from salvaging.

The next morning I said a private Mass of Corpus Christi in S Ethelbert's Church before setting off back to the Midlands, leaving as the clergy and laity were about to go on a boat trip to look at the sandbank and to see England, aka Pegwell Bay, from the point of view of an approaching Italian missionary band.

I do so very much hope they got back safely. Perhaps someone could reassure me ...

3 June 2018

Introibo ITERUM ad altare Dei

Many readers will remember the story of the priest in Revolutionary France, who, vested as for Mass, said the praeparatio while ascending the steps to the guillotine. Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam. As the erudite Dr Simon Cotton reminded me the other day, his name was Noel Pinot; having refused to take the oath whereby he would have submitted to the State, he was arrested while secretly saying Mass in a remote farmhouse in the Vendee during the February of 1794, and executed not long afterwards.

I find it a haunting story. So often, as I stand at the foot of Mount Moriah and in my unworthiness prepare to go up the Temple Mount to offer to the Father the Tamid Lamb for His whole people, the image of Blessed Noel Pinot climbing that ladder comes back to me. And here is a certainty, for me as for every single priest in the world: there will be a day, one particular day and not another, when by God's grace I offer that Sacrifice, that Mystery, a Beauty so ancient and yet so new, for my last time in via.

If you are celebrating today the Feast or the Octave Sunday or the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi, of your charity pray for all of us who have this awe-full responsibility, and also for so many young men who this month will be ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, to be sons of our Father Aaron.

May the Ancient of Days make His merciful Face to shine upon all His cohanim.

2 June 2018

Newly overbumped

On the first day last week of this year's Eights Week Races, I strolled down to see a Historical First. It was the first time St Benet's Hall had fielded ... if that's the right term ... a women's boat.

Benets never had women until this year. You see, it is an offial Benedictine House as well as being a PPH of this University, and I gather there is something rather obscurantist in the Regula or else in current law about women lurking in men's houses. But Benets has a new Master ... who is no longer a Benedictine monk from Ampleforth. This lay Master, according to rumour, is not unknown in the circles of the S Gallen Mafia. Under his new regime, an important decision was taken. So that it could hold its own among the other colleges, secularised more than a century ago, Benets needed, of course, to have women. Don't we all? So it purchased the former convent in Norham Gardens (my generation at Staggers will remember it). That is where they hide their women undergraduates (these are not, I believe, women religious).

And this year, their women showed on the River, having secured a place through the Rowing On process, in the bottom Women's Division.

They looked terribly nervous. One of them said "per omnia saecula saeculorum", another added "Kyrie eleison", and a third asked "Does anybody know any other Latin words?" (You couldn't make it up, could you? I promise I haven't.)

The gun went off; off they went; and I watched until, intactae, the sweet little mites disappeared under Donnington Bridge and out of my sight. I gather that later, sadly, they were bumped: indeed, they were overbumped. What would S Benedict have made of that? What is the Latin for 'overbumped'? Unaccountably, the Vatican Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis affords no help.

I think I know how the Benets Women's Boat, next year, could begin the long journey to Head of the River. My solution is very much in the Spirit of S Gallen and of the Zeitgeist. All the beefiest young male Benedictines at Benets should "Self-Identify" as women. Perhaps the Master should lead the way.

Hey Presto!! Bob's your uncle!!! Tempora mutantur, nos et ... er ...

1 June 2018

Fasting Communion

When the Venerable Pius XII and Blessed Paul VI made their respective interventions with regard to the Eucharistic Fast, the assumption (very strongly asserted by Pacelli) was that all who could do so would continue to fast from midnight ... the new rules being an accommodation to the constraints of life in the modern secular polis, provided for those who need them.

All that seems now forgotten. I have just been looking at the Horarium of a Novus Ordo religious community; they start at 7:00 with the Office of Readings; at 7:15, Personal Prayer; at 8:15, Breakfast; at 9:05, Morning Prayer; at 9:30, Eucharist. My purpose is not to criticise other Christians who are probably a great deal holier than I am but to draw attention to the fact that they are quite willing to get out of bed to appear in Chapel at 7:00, but there is apparently no instinct whatsoever
(1) to organise their time so that they begin with Laudes, the service which should be the first, because it lauds God at the time of the rising Sun, the great icon of Christ our Orient; or
(2) to celebrate the Eucharist fasting before diving into the happy dissipations of breakfast. Yet, being Religious, there is probably no practical reason why they cannot do this.

When I was a seminarian at Staggers in the mid-sixties, we had Mattins, then Meditation, then Mass, then Breakfast, so as to be free to start the academic day at 9:00. Before Staggers, as an undergraduate, I used to go to Mags before breakfast every morning, and usually there were visiting priests saying private masses at the other altars during the public Mass.

But my main grouse today is that not even traditionalists assign much of a priority to Mass-before-breakfast. And this post is not an attempt to rerun discussions we've had together before, in which we all agree that it would have been better if the Church had stuck to the three-hour fast. Brekker at 8:00 for example, then Mass at, say, 12:00, is not what I think accords with the Tradition of both East and West. It is not what anybody in the West or East before Pius XII would have considered to be real  'Fasting Communion'. And even when we come to organise traddy conferences, we don't seem to attach much importance to having Mass before breakfast.

I am not all hot and bothered about this, nor am I terribly flush with solutions: I just wanted to raise the question.