31 July 2018

Taking a breath

We are told that a certain sort of Novus Ordo cleric complains that the current 2010 English translation of the Roman Rite is difficult for him to read. He certainly (judging by two OF Masses I attended last summer) does sometimes have difficulties: taking breath at the right times; pausing; emphasising ... all those little tricks by which a crafty hierophant conveys the impression that he understands what he is saying.

The poor dear poppets. They, impoverished souls, may have no ministerial background in delivering liturgically the rolling Tudor periods in Dr Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer. I pity them. Of course they are going to have trouble with any text that goes on for more than a dozen words without a full stop or colon.

OK; fair enough. But one thing really does puzzle me. There are four words which they seem so often incapable of saying ... three of them monosyllabic ... "The Mystery of Faith".

So one gets all sorts of irrelevant nonsense: "Let us proclaim the beauty of our wonderful Catholic Faith". That sort of thing. My memory is imperfect about details, because, being what PF would call a Rigid Pharisee, my mind tends to be distracted from the interesting and unrigid things the inventive presbyter is saying. Ever a victim to distraction, I am instead caught up in the wonder of the Theophany which he has just brought about upon the Altar. I can't help that; I'm too old to change now. But take it from me ...

Those four words, of course, are intended to refer to the Mystery of the Great Presence. That is why they were originally within the Verba Domini. I once wrote a piece about this, which I imagine would be accessible via the Search Engine attached to this blog.


Ah, well. Perhaps things are better in seminaries nowadays. Perhaps the chaps do now get some input, both about the meaning of the Liturgy and how to celebrate it. How to breathe, for example. But what those older clerical chaps do demonstrate, by their endless propensity to change the words, to ad lib their own interminable clevernesses, is this: they obviously find the Novus Ordo (both as composed and as translated) very deeply unsatisfactory; inadequate to meet their own needs and what they assume to be the needs of their people.

Well ... 'traddies' find it unsatisfactory ... this other 'trendy' lot does too ... so there seem to be an awful lot of clergy who dislike the OF, once you add both those opposing groups together.

Is there anybody out there who really does like the OF, as opposed to merely tolerating it for pastoral reasons, or using it as the springboard for personal inventiveness? 




29 July 2018

UPDATE

I have read through the comments submitted while I was incommunicado; most I have enabled.

Until next Friday, I shall be doing the LMS Latin course; again, without reading incoming traffic.

But there should be a post from me every day on the blog.

Hemming again (2)

Continues from the last post.
Hemming sees the fly in the ointment as being actuosa participatio, as the phrase is understood in 'Enlightenment' liturgical fashions ... that is, by the liturgical apparatchiks who still act as the guardians of what they see as the Pure Spirit of Vatican II; the same jokers who for decades sneered so nastily at Joseph Ratzinger's contributions to liturgical rethinking on the grounds that 'he is not an expert'.

The idea (writes Hemming) that a single self can consummate in itself the entire meaning of every particular liturgical act as it is enacted ... is foreign and indeed corrosive to the interior character of a complex and centuries-long symbolic language which uses the differentiatedness of place, of time, and of the different vocations and stations of all humanity, to mediate the full range of the drama of our salvation. ... The idea - well known in the East* - that the entire liturgy must be fulfilled, but that it is impossible for any one person to fulfil it alone - was superseded in the West by the idea that every priest must complete the Office and Mass daily and in full ... (he concludes by describing liturgy as:) something which the whole local church - monastic house, convent, diocese, and so forth - has to distribute across its membership and life for the sake of the distributed body of Christ as it manifests itself in particular places.

You see his point. Frantically determined that every priest should say the whole Office, the West has repeatedly slashed and reduced that Office to make the aim attainable ... and, by so doing, has lamentably ravaged its traditional Office. The alternative would be to keep (or to restore) the great integrity of the historical Office while limiting the amount of it that each individual is required to fulfill.
Hemming's principle represents exactly what happened in the medieval cathedrals of England, such as (the one I have studied in most detail) Exeter, codified by its great reforming bishop John Grandisson in his Ordinale. The Lady Chapel, for example, had its own complete and distinct establishment to ensure the fulfilment each day of an entire round of Office and Mass in honour of our Lady, which duplicated the worship at the High Altar. There survives in the Chapter library just one sheet of a Marian Missal, corrected in Grandisson's own hand, for use either in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral or in that of his Collegiate establishment at Ottery. The weekly Mass and Office of our Lady in Sabbato, as we have them in the Tridentine books, are but a pale remnant of all that. Our massive cathedrals, which now so embarrassingly struggle to demonstrate to the tourists (and to the parishes) their 'relevance', were built quite simply to house those majestic structures of worship; a massive round of daily sacrifice and praise performed in full, not necessarily by each individual, but by a large differentiated community.

In this context, I would also commend the writings of Laszlo Dobszay.

28 July 2018

Hemming and "the distributed body of Christ" (1)

Ten years ago, in 2008, Laurence Hemming published his Worship as a Revelation. It has now lost its status as a 'new' book and will have a few decades to go before it becomes a Revived Classic. In this betweentime I thought I would remind you of this (uneven but) extremely important book. Not least of its importance is the fact that it reminds us of how close many of the instincts of the 'unreformed' Roman Rite - that is, the rite as it was before S Pius X got his hands on it - are to the ritual instincts which (apologies if as an ignorant Latin I have got this side of things wrong) animate Byzantine worship.

I have recently revisited Chapter 11, "Temporal Liturgy"; because I recalled that it gave me a 'line' on some thoughts that have been nagging at my mind recently. I have been comparing the distribution of the Psalter in the Roman Rite
before Pius X;
and after Pius X;
and post-Vatican II.
And what you find here is an ever more intense application, as time goes on, of the associated principles of brevity (the clergy must not be given too great a burden to recite in their Office) and of avoiding repetition. An example of what I mean: before Pius X, you said psalms 148, 149, 150, every day at Lauds (all lumped together with one antiphon and just one final Gloria) . They were the 'Praise' psalms (ainoi) that gave 'Laudes' its name. But such incessant repetition means that there isn't room for a vastly extensive use of the rest of the Psalter ... unless you pile on the 'burden'. So under S Pius X they were removed from daily repetition, split up from each other, and, together with other psalms beginning Laudate, spread lightly around. That great Dr 'Patrimony' Wickham-Legg wrote: "In the estimation of the devout Roman Catholic, the Canon of the Mass and the distribution of the Psalter in the Breviary were almost on a footing as regards the impossibility of either being changed, amended, or re-arranged. They were the sacred Ark of the Liturgy, which no man might touch ... the Curia ... has already accomplished what can only be described as an astounding liturgical revolution, a thorough-going redistribution of the Psalter, in place of the old distribution, which can claim the most venerable antiquity; which Benedict XIV and his consultors in their proposed reform of the Breviary had not dared to touch, for they could not find that the Church of Rome had ever used any other"*.

Liturgical scholars (at that time, many of them were still Men of the Tradition rather than innovatory tinkerers) were horrified at the disappearance under Pius X* from daily use of the ainoi, which at least arguably go back to the Jewish usage of the first century. The recent 'spreading more thinly' of Miserere, which used to mark each day in Lent, can also be deplored as a sad dilution of the spirit of that season. But ... if we were still to recite these splendid things ... and all the other splendid things ... preces and suffragia and goodness knows what ... and with recollection! ... our Office would take all day! Hemming cuts this Gordian Knot by arguing that not everybody always needs to say everything.
Continues.

_____________________________________________________________________

*Those dodgy liturgists Quignon and Cranmer, followed by the equally dodgy 'Gallican' (Jansenist?) bishops who confected the eighteenth century French breviaries, had led the way in mistreating the
laudate psalms. Incidentally, I won't get too dewy eyed about Wickham Legg's rhetoric because, I fear, his argument was that if Pius X could do such things, what harm was there in Cranmer having done them 350 years earlier?

27 July 2018

The Sunday Obligation

The great Anglican Benedictine and mystagogue Dom Gregory Dix explains why every Christian is obliged to be at Mass every Sunday:
"To secure [the Sunday Corporate Eucharist] a whole congregation of obscure provincials at Abilinitina in Africa took the risk of almost certain detection by assembling at the height of the Diocletian persecution in their own town, where the authorities were on the watch for them, because, as they said in court, the eucharist had been lacking a long while through the apostasy of their bishop Fundanus, and they could no longer bear the lack of it. And so they called on a presbyter to celebrate - and paid the penalty of their faith to a man. ... 

"The christian came to the eucharist, not indeed 'to learn something', for faith was presupposed, but certainly not to seek a psychological thrill. He came simply to do something, which he conceived he had an overwhelming personal duty to do, come what may. 

"What brought him to the eucharist week by week, despite all dangers and inconveniences, was no thrill provoked by the service itself, which was bare and unimpressive to the point of dullness, and would soon lose any attraction of novelty. Nor yet was it a longing for personal communion with God, which he could and did fulfil otherwise in his his daily communion from the reserved sacrament at home. What brought him was an intense belief that in the eucharistic action of the Body of Christ, as in no other way, he himself took part in that act of sacrificial obedience to the will of God which was consummated on Calvary and which had redeemed the world, including himself. What brought him was the conviction that there rested on each of the redeemed an absolute necessity to take his own part in the self-offering of Christ, a necessity more binding even than the instinct of self-preservation.

"Simply as members of Christ's body, the church, all christians must do this, and they can do it in no other way than that which was the last command of Jesus to his own. That rule of the absolute obligation upon each of the faithful of presence at Sunday mass under pain of mortal sin,which seems so mechanical and formal to the protestant, is something which was burned into the corporate mind of historic christendom in the centuries between Nero and Diocletian, but it rests upon something more evangelical and more profound than historical memories. It expresses as nothing else can the whole new testament doctrine of redemption; of Jesus, God and Man, as the only saviour of mankind, who intends to draw all men to him by his sacrificial and atoning death; and of the church as the communion of redeemed sinnners, the body of Christ, corporately invested with his own mission of salvation to the world."

26 July 2018

Historical Evidence?

It is recorded that on one occasion when speaking to an off-message questioner about the Bishop Barros problem, PF referred to those making trouble as 'left-wingers'.

I do not know Spanish, nor a fortiori do I know what whichever word he used would mean in the context of Latin American politics, or of specifically Argentinian politics, or more particularly still in terms of the former Argentine military dictatorship. So, out of the bottomless pit of my ignorance I can only articulate questions.

There is, I sense, a feeling among many that we do not yet know quite everything about PF's motives and actions during that particularly unpleasant dictatorship.

But there is often a revealing significance in what a man blurts out when he has lost his temper.

And, on that occasion, PF had very understandably lost his temper with somebody who kept badgering him with questions he had no intention of answering.

So I ignorantly wonder if this (in itself insignificant and unimportant) little outburst does reveal anything about a murkier pontifical past than most of us have hidden away in our memories?

25 July 2018

Christ the King (2)

Continues:
"in the eucharist we christians concentrate our motive and act out our theory of human living. Mankind are not to be 'as Gods', a competing horde of dying rvivals to the Living God. We are his creatures, fallen and redeemed, His dear recovered sons, who by His free love are 'made partakers of the Divine nature'. But our obedience and our salvation are not of ourselves, even while we are mysteriously free to disobey and damn ourselves. We are dependent on Him even for our own dependence. We are accepted sons in the Son, by the real sacrifice and acceptance of His Body and Blood, Who 'though he were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; called of God an high-priest after the order of Melchisedech.'"

24 July 2018

Christ the King uncrowned (1)

"'There is one human race in which the mysteries of God are fulfilled' [Irenaeus]. It has been said that the problem of our generation [1944] will be the motive of civilisation. But in fact that is the problem in one form or another of all generations, the theory of human living. It has only been made more acute for us by the progressive apostasy of the liberal tradition in Europe for the last three centuries. The dream of the self-sufficiency of human power has haunted the hearts of all men since it was first whispered that by slipping from under the trammels of the law of God 'ye shall be as gods' choosing your own good and evil. The shadows of that dream renew themselves continually in fresh shapes even in the minds and wills of those who serve God's kingship. Where that kingship is unknown or consciously denied that dream rules men, who are in the apostle's terrible phrase  'free from righteousness'. In its crudest form, in the politics of our day, the pagan dream of human power has turned one more into a nightmare oppressing men's outward lives. That will pass, because it is too violent a disorder to be endured. But elsewhere and less vulgarly, as a mystique of technical and scientific mastery of man's environment, it is swiftly replacing the old materialism as the prevalent anti-christianity of the twentieth century. In this subtler form it will more secretly but even more terribly oppress the human spirit".

Dom Gregory Dix. To be continued.

23 July 2018

Homosexuality

A very senior prelate is reported recently to have said
"X, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and loves you like this and I don't care. [I] love you like this. You have to be happy with who you are."

I find it logically helpful to substitute other things for gay (Paedophile? Psychopath?) and to see how the propositions look then.


Of course, this is a dangerous line to take. Those with an enfeebled grasp of logic are likely to blurt out "So you're saying that all homosexuals are paedophiles!" or "So you think homosexuals are as bad as psychopaths?"


(In fact, I think that Christian homosexuals are, almost by definition, likely to be more admirable than heterosexuals. Because, denied the sexual outlets which are available to heterosexuals, they lead a grace-filled and continent life. I condemn those heterosexuals, often fundamentalist Evangelicals, who are very 'strong' against homosexuality, but don't seem to have noticed what the Lord said about remarriage after divorce.)

Questions abound, some of them in the field known as theodicy. Does God make people gay, or are there (sometimes?) cultural factors involved? If gaydom is to be deemed a matter of divine creation, why is paedophilia (or bipolarity or spina bifida) not to be so considered? If gaydom is a matter of divine creation, does this imply that those so born should be permitted/encouraged to live along their instincts?

These are difficult questions. But Holy Mother Church has always taken the line that, whatever one is born with, one is still subject to the same divine laws (although psychological compulsion may well diminish the subjective culpability of particular breaches of the laws in individual cases).

If this is, according to the High Prelate concerned, no longer true, then it is not only 'gays' who are affected. There are other categories who need to be reassured that they are made the way they are by God, loved like that by him, and expected by him to be happy with the way they are; others who, perhaps, must be allowed to express the sexual inclinations God is said to have put within them.

22 July 2018

Allen Hall (3)

"All the students hear mass together every day at five o' clock, after having first said the litanies for the Church and the conversion of our country. Every Sunday and on the greater feasts they confess and communicate, and almost all of them say the canonical hours every day. The priests celebrate daily. On the feasts of S Gregory, S Augustine, apostle of England, and S Thomas of Canterbury, martyr, we all meet together for high mass ..... and pray for the conversion of our country and the peace of the whole Church and of that place in which By God's providence we live in exile. We fast twice a week for the same intention, and we commend much to the Lord the cause of all who are in bondage or affliction for religion's sake."

This is Cardinal Allen's account of life in the Seminary he founded in Douai.

It occurs to me that it would be a becoming tribute to him if, from this 450th anniversary year onwards, the feasts of those three Saints were observed as he describes ...

21 July 2018

Queries


There is a committee in Rome, we are told, researching the genesis of ... the events and processes leading up to ... Humanae Vitae. I wonder what is going on. If anybody actually knows I would be glad to be informed. But I suspect that we all have little to go on except for inferences to be drawn from the composition of the committee.

So ... a hypothesis ...

The committee's task is to construct a claim like this: "HV says ... apparently and on the surface ... X. But if you examine HV carefully in the context of the evolution of its text, it becomes obvious that HV really means non-X (or not-quite-X or not-always-X)."

Other hypotheses?

Less hypothetically: B Paul VI  is going to be canonised, unless the  Eschaton prevents it. Rather than letting the organisers make headway out of it as a celebration for the Bergoglian view of 'the Council', would it not be rather jolly if something could be done to present the positive aspects of that pontificate?

Seminars on the biblical typology of the concept of the Smoke of Satan ... that sort of thing, perhaps?

On the magisterial teaching of Paul VI on the Latin Language?

20 July 2018

Cardinal Allen (2)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

A little more to follow.

19 July 2018

Impartial scholarship

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

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

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

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

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

18 July 2018

Lake Garda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 July 2018

"Separated Doctors of the Catholic Church"

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

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

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

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

A little more about this subject tomorrow.

16 July 2018

Sorry ...

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

Deo volente, my posts will still pop up daily.

PF and the Ordinariates

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

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

I think this more or less confirms the old story.

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

The text was immensely characteristic.

15 July 2018

Personally ...

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

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

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

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

14 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 6 [Conclusio]

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 July 2018

Hey Ho ...

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

Christine Mohrmann, 1 August 1903 - 13 July 1988

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

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

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

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

Men are such odd creatures.

12 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 5

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

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

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

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

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



11 July 2018

SSPX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 July 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 3

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

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

8 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 2

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

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

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

7 July 2018

Consecration in the Roman Mass 1

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

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

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

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

6 July 2018

The Macarrick Scandal and Kieran Conry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 July 2018

Michael Moreton and the Canon of the Mass (2)

Letter dated 11 July 2000.

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

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

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

4 July 2018

Michael Moreton and the Canon of the Mass (1)

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

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

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

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

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

The second letter, tomorrow.


3 July 2018

S Irenaeus

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

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

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

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

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

2 July 2018

...ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam!!

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

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

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

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

I have seen the future, and it does work!

1 July 2018

S Aaron

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

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

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

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

Sancte Aaron, ora pro nobis.