16 November 2019

S Edmund of Abendon: let's be exuberant!

Deus qui largifluae bonitatis consilio ...

"God, who by the counsel of thy generously-flowing goodness hast adorned thy Church with the merits of blessed Edmund thy Confessor and bishop ... "

And indeed, what a great Pontiff S Edmund was. I shall pop into his Church in Abendon before diving into Waitrose this morning. It is his feast day. And what you've just read was the beginning of his Collect in the old Supplementum for England. Borrowed, of course, from Sarum.

'largifluae' is a compound word. According to OLD and LS, it only occurs in Lucretius. LS, in its schoolmasterly way, comments "ante-classical". Handy to have that spelt out in case cheeky little Johnny tries to incorporate it into his Latin Prose Compo. As well he might. It's an exotic word that raises your spirits and cheers you exuberating on your way. Because Greek enjoys creating compound adjectives, while Latin is much more shy about doing this. But in the preclassical period, avant-garde young men, neoteroi,  started imitating this Greek practice in their Latin in order to sound ... and be ... exotic. You haven't been reading Catullus 64 for long before you are introduced to Ariadne, poor deceived and deserted dimwit, "fluentisono prospectans litore Diae". Let's hope Professor Obbink comes across a copy of Calvus' lost epyllion. I bet it will be moofully full of this sort of stuff.

Carolingian and later writers enjoyed these games, too. S Peter Damian addressed S John the Divine brilliantly, exquisitely, as "magnus aeterni logotheta verbi" ... expurgated by Dom Lentini, spoil-sport, "propter graecismum nunc insolitum". I hardly need to tell you that the Novus Ordo collect for S Edmund [composed in English and possessing no Latin original] dumps the entire Sarum collect and instead informs the attentive Almighty that "by [his] grace the Bishop Saint Edmund of Abingdon was vigilant over integrity in public office". (I'm not making this up.)

One question remains. Who, in the Sarum liturgical workshop, had been spending his spare time reading that naughty hedonistic atheistical Lucretius?

15 November 2019

The Death of Sarum

According to Quo primum, S Pius V mandated that rites more than 200 years old should continue to be used unless the Bishop and the unanimous Chapter agreed to their replacement. In England, of course, these canonical measures were never able to be taken. Arguably, the Sarum Missal is still licit.

I wonder if, in Recusant Literature, there is any evidence of how the Catholic Squirearchy reacted to the replacement of the 'Sarum rite' by the Missal of S Pius V.

Here follows a repetition of a 2014 blogpost, with much of the extremely interesting thread which it elicited. Perhaps, five years later, there may be things to add. So off we go ...

Of course, we all know that the difference between those two 'rites' is very slight. But that is the judgement of bookish people like us, considering principally text. As Adrian Fortescue put it, Sarum and the rest "are merely the Roman rite with quite unimportant local variations. They can indeed hardly be called derived rites; if one may take a parallel from philology one may describe them best as dialects of the Roman rite ... To distinguish the Roman, Sarum, and Mozarabic liturgies on the same plane is like classifying English, Yorkshire dialect, and French as three languages." Thoroughly true. But they do look rather different.

One has to admit that we cannot be absolutely sure what the Sarum use did look like in, say, 1570 or 1580. Sometimes usage may leave rubric somewhat behind. But, taking the texts as printed, I give one example:

When the priest had consecrated the Host, he did not genuflect. He 'inclined himself' ... one edition says that he adored It by bowing his head ... then elevated It by lifting It for the people to see. He did not 'adore' or 'incline' again, but went on to consecrate the Chalice. After that, he did not make any act of reverence, but lifted the Chalice 'as far as his chest OR over his head'. He then stretched out his arms 'in modum crucis' for the first part of the Unde et memores.

I would have thought that the Tridentine ceremonial, familiar to us, would have seemed rather strange to those brought up on Sarum. And one could make the same point from the beginning of Mass to the end.

Fortescue (pp 202-3 fn 4) tells how Dr Lawrence Webb arrived from Rome at Douay in December 1576 and taught the young men how to do the new rite. He cites Records of the English Catholics under the Penal Laws, London, 1878, p118. Does anybody have that to hand? Are then any suggestive details?

Anybody have any actual evidence about how the laity reacted? Is there any bibliographical evidence about the survival of Sarum or the introduction of S Pius V? And Fortescue had been told, but had been unable to verify the claim, that some priests brought Sarum back into use in the happy reign of our late Sovereign Lord King James II. Anybody know anything?

14 November 2019

It's smart. Can you really do without it?

Although I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
My Ordo Recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis.

Those of Anglican Patrimony will remember Eric Mascall's exquisite poem The Ultra-Catholic. But I bet there aren't many clergy around now who remember actually handling the old Westminster Ordo.  It was the smartest of the lot ... a sort of Rolls Royce among Ordos. Its elegant white and black livery is echoed by the admirable Ordo produced by the thoroughly admirable Saint Lawrence Press.

Mgr Ronald Knox once did a spoof 'review' of an Ordo ... writing about its author's "terse nervous Latinity"... and if you really want to get the feel of what priestcraft was like before Pacelli and Bugnini got to work wrecking the labours of centuries, this is the Ordo you need. Everything else on the market (LMS; SSPX ...) is 1962ish; and it is in English.  But the (Latin) Saint Lawrence Ordo is very easy to understand because its Latin abbreviations are all so pretty obvious.

You may not be in a position to order your own liturgy according to the rich 1939 prescriptions. But there is a degree to which, however obediently you follow 1962, you need to understand what it was that 1962 is an abbreviation of before you really cotton on to what 1962 itself means. 

It's a journey back in time to a healthier liturgical culture.


13 November 2019

"The temporary suspense of the function of the Ecclesia Docens" in the teaching of S John Henry Newman

Cardinal Burke, God bless him, has talked about "a breakdown of the central teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff." This strongly reminds me of the phrase of S John Henry Newman at the top of this blogpost.

I originally published this in DECEMBER 2017. I think it is even more relevant now, because of the recent Statement Contra Recentia Sacrilegia by a number of us about the Vatican Garden Event (see Lifesitenews). And because of the additional authority which his canonisation has given to the wise teaching of S John Henry. And because of his Eminence's wise words.

SO HERE IS MY 2017 TEXT, unadapted, and with old comments on the thread.

A world-wide group of laymen and laywomen have just issued a defence of Catholic doctrine concerning Family and Life matters. The crucial paragraph, in my view, is this:

We pledge our full obedience to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the legitimate exercise of is authority. However, nothing will ever persuade us, or compel us, to abandon or contradict any article of the Catholic faith or any truth definitively established. If there is any conflict between the words and acts of any member of the hierarchy, even the pope, and the doctrine that the Church has always taught, we will remain faithful to the perennial teaching of the Church. If we were to depart from the Catholic faith, we would depart from Jesus Christ, to whom we wish to be united for all eternity."

This seems to me exactly right and exactly proportionate to the present situation in the Catholic Church. By a happy disposition of Providence, this Statement hit the media at the same time as Walter Kasper's gleeful conviction that Amoris laetitia has now become irreformable and that the 'controversy' is now over. Gracious me, what ultrahyperueberpapalist views of the Petrine Ministry these Liberals do have when they get a foul wind in their sails.

And the Statement reminds me of the phrase which Blessed John Henry Newman used in the context of the Arian controversy, in which the great majority of the Bishops, the Ecclesia docens, and including the Successor of S Peter, were either heretics, or were cowed into silence or compromise by the heretics. It is the phrase I have put at the head of this post, which I take in the sense in which Newman subsequently clarified his use of it, and not otherwise.

I suppose we had a good example of this phenomenon of 'suspense' in the pontificate of Blessed Paul VI, in the period between his setting up of a Commission to consider the question of Contraception, and his very courageous subsequent reaffirmation of the Church's Magisterial Teaching with the publication of Humanae vitae.

Surely, we are in another such period of suspense now. The question of  the admission of adulterers to Holy Communion was magisterially dealt with as recently as 2007, only ten years ago, in Sacramentum Caritatis para 29; it had  received synodical and papal clarification in each of the last two pontificates; and is embedded in the Catechism. But a 'suspense' began when it was opened up to synodal debate; and that 'suspense' grew wider when PF issued a document which has been interpreted in diametrically opposed ways. The Suspense will end when this or a subsequent Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council reasserts with unmistakeable clarity the teaching of the Magisterium (or possibly when the error, having run its course, happily dies a natural death).

The learned Patron of the Ordinariate, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, made clear that he in no way implied the cessation of the Magisterial teaching or office during a 'suspense'. The Dogma of Nicea remained de jure fully in force; but was simply not treated as such by many bishops and so did not 'function'. The bishops remained ex officio guardians and teachers of the Faith; not a microgram of their God-given authority to teach the Faith was lost to them; but de facto they failed to guard and to teach that Faith. The concept of suspense is not so much theological as historical; an observation that anybody can make if they just look around.

Things now are very similar. The teaching of the Magisterium is, obviously, formally still vigore pleno; but numbers of unfaithful or negligent bishops behave as though it were not. In many cases, they appear and/or claim to do so with the connivance of the Successor of S Peter.


During a 'suspense', does the episcopal ministry of those bishops who are heterodox on just one point still call for religiosum obsequium on other matters? Or is one obliged to consider their entire episcope vitiated by just one point of heterodoxy?

Looking back into the great Anglican Patrimony which Pope Benedict invited us to bring with us into Catholic Unity, I recall a phrase dear to a distinguished and erudite Bishop of Oxford, Charles Gore [1853-1932; a doughty asserter of the doctrine which was re-asserted by Casti Connubii]: "the wonderful coherence of Christian doctrine". A later, even more erudite occupant of the same See, Kenneth Kirk, [1886-1954] commented: "Gore saw Christian doctrine as a unified whole ... It was his conviction, shared of course with the great Scholastic tradition in theology, that if any single article in this totality was attacked, varied, or distorted, the attack, variation, or distortion would be seen on inspection to affect every other article to a greater or lesser degree. ... if two systems each of which can claim some real degree of logical principle are in conflict on any one point, investigation will ultimately prove that they differ on every point, though at first sight this may be anything but apparent. For each system is, by hypothesis, self-consistent, and therefore all its members are interlocked, and whatever affects one of them must affect them all."

This is still one of my own working hermeneutical tools. Accordingly, I feel a tentative hesitation, during this lamentable suspense, about taking seriously any teaching statement of an apparently less that orthodox member of the hierarchy.

I throw open the above position to discussion, totally aware of my own fallibility, and anxious to be in all things a docile subject of the authentic Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

And I applaud the statement of Fidelity to Catholic Teaching issued by these eminent and admirable laypeople.

12 November 2019

Church Dedications

People often assume that when the Anglicans describe an ancient parish church as 'dedicated to Saint X', they are giving accurate information. Sadly, this is very often not the case.

I draw attention to English Church Dedications by Nicholas Orme (Exeter, 1996). Orme regretfully pointed out that the work of Frances Arnold-Foster, on whose reliability many (including Bishop Kirk) had based their conclusions, was to all intents and purposes useless as far as medieval evidence is concerned, since she provided what, in 1899, were then regarded as the dedications of English churches and did little or no research. Later writers were hardly better. In fact, Orme's research in medieval sources demonstrated that a very high percentage of such dedications were invented by Georgian antiquaries or Victorian High Churchmen. Earlier writers were unaware of this, and equally unaware that so great were the discontinuities of the English Reformation that pretty well everywhere the dedications were forgotten very soon after the sixteenth century ruptures. Exceptions occurred in towns, where a plurality of churches meant that people had to retain some way of distinguishing each one from the others; and where, in the countryside, two villages needed to distinguish themselves (Snoring S Cosmas; Snoring S Damian).

Thus, in Devon, I had seven village churches. Of these seven, one retained the dedication it can be shown to have had in the Middle Ages. One is now known to have been dedicated to S Andrew, but was attributed in 1742 to S Mary, probably on the ground that the parish fair happened close to February 2. The other five churches have completely lost their original dedications, and the ones they now enjoy are post-medieval conjectures.

That Andrew dedication is interesting. Saxon and Norman bishops, when they went round consecrating unconsecrated churches (a lot of this happened in the twelfth century), worked from books descended lineally from those brought here in the Saxon period, and were marked with a preference for the Saint to whom S Gregory and the Augustinian Mission had been so devoted. (It was of course Pope Gregory who added S Andrew to the Libera nos.)

So the comparative popularity of S Andrew is yet another indication of the profound Romanita of Saxon England.


Anybody with an academic interest in the assertions I make in my penultimate paragraph will find the evidence in the (fairly) new HBS edition of Leofric.

11 November 2019

Life in the Lower Fourth

At least Four Genuine Cheers are due to PF for putting our Lady of Loreto onto the Novus Ordo Universal Calendar (albeit optionally; December 10). I like to think of him spending his leisure hours, as so many of us have, browsing through the dear old pre-1962 Appendix pro Aliquibus Locis. It makes him seem more human.

We of the Anglican Patrimony have a soft spot for this observance because of our devotion to OL of Walsingham and her Holy House. Less than a couple of months ago I pointed out that the September 24 Mass for OLW in our Ordinariate Missal is an English translation of the old Mass (temp. Innocent XII, ob 1700)  for  the Holy House at Loreto. It is therefore just a tadge sad-making that the new PF Mass for this day is a new composition. (Or is it? They must have been using some propers in Loreto since 1969 ... are these they? Or have these just recently been confected de novo? I suspect the latter, because in the early 1970s there would still have been enough people around in Rome who knew enough Latin to avoid the monstrous, the appalling, grammatical mistake in the Collect ... de quo plura inferius.)

Earlier in this pontificate, Cardinal Sarah had to endure the sacking of a number of competent scholars from his dicastery, and their replacement by staff rumoured to be ... er ... This can harrdly have helped the maintenance of standards in that dicastery. (I have been unable to find an account of this coup on the Internet. Can anybody help?)

But, out of respect for fact, I would have to admit that the problem of illiterate Latin at the CDWgoes back to well before the appointment of Cardinal Sarah.

Things ... I am sorry to have to announce to you ... haven't got any better.

As if to make this point very powerfully and programmatically, near the top of the new Proper is the phrase Ad Calendarium Romanum Generalem. When I was teaching Latin to the young, that was the sort of howler I might have expected of the Lower Fourth. Not that I actually ever taught Lower Fourth Latin. Perhaps I am doing them an injustice.

And there are the usual minor typos ... 'Dei' rather than 'Die' ... a missing full stop ... Why doesn't anybody ever check though these things?

But on the other hand, I do like the use in the Homily of the Plautine verb minito (not its deponent form). I take this as top level Magisterial encouragement for the greater use of slapstick humour in our Latin Catholic culture. Three cheers for Mgr Laurel and Canon Hardie.

But ... Oh dear ... I can procrastinate no longer ... the new Collect ... and the Collect is of course the most prominent text of any Proper. It is used in the Divine Office and sets the tone and the themes at the start of Mass.

Here is the authorised and published text. I have highlighted the clausulae for discussion later.

Deus, qui promissa Patribus adimplens beatam Virginem Mariam elegisti, ut matrem fieret Salvatoris, concede nobis illius exempla sectari, cuius humilitas tibi placuit, et oboedientia nobis profuit.

To begin with ... I will not insult you by implying that you might not have noticed the really massive grammatical howler in the first half of this composition. Even kindergarten classics teachers would have a right to expect to be spared  things like that. What a 'clericalist' insult to the Holy People of God that they should have this sort of thing disrespectfully thrust upon them by disdainful ecclesiastics. Very unsynodal.

Instead, having shuddered, let us move hurriedly on to look at the clausulae as highlighted.

The first is a trispondaicus (or a planus if you insist on elision); the second a velox; the third a planus. So far, so good. But I find it hard to fit the last two into the main options found in the old sacramentaries (Planus, Tardus, Velox, Trispondaicus). Probably you could could find them in Cicero; but there, of course, the game is a somewhat different one.

Not that I'm denying that there is some elegant patterning in those two concluding clauses!

These curial documents tend to be signed or countersigned by some chappy called Arturo Roche (pronounced 'Rockay'??).  I don't know how good Arturo's English is, but as far as his Latin is concerned, he might benefit from attending the Latin Mass Society's Latin Summer School. He could earn his passage by doubling as our Drinks Steward ("Hey, Arturo, mine's a G and T").

I would be gentle with the poor fellow. Everybody has to start somewhere. I have always been a patient teacher.

10 November 2019

Remembrance Sunday

The Requiem Mass for the War dead prays for men and women who, like all of us, stand in need of merciful forgiveness. We plead the sacrifice of Christ, offering His Body and Blood, for them, not as heroes but as sinners. On the other hand, the customary rituals of Cenotaph observance do have - surely, even now - a nationalism built into them, while Holy Mass subverts every nationalism. It was, after all, offered on both sides in the European wars.

The great Fr Bernard Walke, who made St Hilary's in Cornwall into an Anglo-Catholic village, instituted the service of Benediction during WW1 "as an act of reparation to the Sacred Heart for the wrongs of war, and as a means of uniting ourselves with our enemies in that Sacrament which knows no frontiers". Walke, a papalist, wholeheartedly supported the attitude of Benedict XV to that War and was beaten up in the street for refusing to accept the disgusting rhetoric of the war-time hysteria.

He used to go to Dartmoor Prison to offer Mass for the 'conchies' there; denied use of the Anglican Chapel, he accepted the offer of the Methodist place of worship. I find it a moving picture ... the cold moorland mists and 'Ber' offering the Tridentine Mass in the meanest of proddy surroundings with a congregation largely consisting of persecuted and emaciated Quakers.

There, surely, was a true Ecumenism, so unlike the cosy twaddle we are expected to go along with nowadays. I am not so impressed by the popularity of a Cardinal Hinsley during WW2, who was praised as being "an Englishman first and a Christian second".

I wonder if it was a conscious echo of Walke's words about reparation to the Sacred Heart which led the congregation at my own old Anglican church of S Thomas's to put up a German-carved statue of the Sacred Heart as their War Memorial, beside tablets inscribed with the names of the departed.

As far as WW2 is concerned, I often think about the contrast between two great fictional literary products of that war, both written by combatants; both overtly semi-autobiographical. Monsarrat's The Cruel Sea is written by an ideologically and morally rudderless lapsed Marxist; as a memorial to the men who fought the war of the Atlantic convoys. I find it full of venom; venom against adulterous wives back home; against tall blond German submarine captains; against bullying Australians; against the Irish who denied Cork Harbour and Bantry Bay to the Royal Navy. 

Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy is quite different. At its beginning, Waugh's character, a traditionalist Catholic gentleman burdened with ethical Rights and Wrongs, saw the conflict as a chivalrous crusade on behalf of Christian civilisation against Nazi barbarism and its atheist allies in Moskow. When the war was ending, with Uncle Jo a genial ally and sitting in triumph on half of Europe, Waugh had come to perceive it as a sweaty tug of war between two teams of scarcely distinguishable louts. Waugh discerns the ironies and hypocrisies as embodied in the Sword of Stalingrad - a gift from the Christian King of England; a symbol of chivalry to congratulate Marshal Stalin; a triumph of craftsmanship ... and with the symbols on its scabbard upside down. Waugh's hero sees, as Waugh himself had seen, the vicious post-War savaging of Christian Europe in Tito's Jugoslavia.

The Mass is just as subversive of our modern tyrannies as it was of the horrible nationalisms of the twentieth century. It joyously subverts now-fashionable assumptions of roles and genders. As a communal and hierarchical act with a formal and inherited structure, it subverts the cultures of choice, of spontaneity, of individual autonomy, of each man constructing her own identity, everybody manufacturing their own god and their own good. As a ritual which looks beyond itself, it subverts the assumptions of human self-sufficiency. And it speaks of Judgement; Judgement passed by a Court of No Appeal far beyond any Court of Human Rights.

Indeed, the rights which the Mass enthrones are the sovereign rights of a Creator and the vested interests of a Redeemer. Vivat Christus Rex.

9 November 2019

Saint John Henry Newman on the Stinking Corpse

When S Augustine came to Canterbury, he built a cathedral church In honorem Sancti Salvatoris. In other words, he gave it the same dedication as that of the papal cathedral church in Rome, the Lateran basilica, the Mother Church of the world, the festival of whose dedication we keep today. Later, just as Rome had the basilicas of Ss Peter and Paul, outside the walls because they were built on the sites of the cemeteries where the Apostles were buried (Roman burials were always outside city walls), so Canterbury was to have the great monastery of Ss Peter and Paul (vulgo S Augustine's), outside the city walls, where burials took place. And, to represent Great S Mary's in Rome, to the East of Ss Peter and Paul was the church of our Lady.

Nostalgia, nostalgia. Today's commemoration of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica is marked surely with tears for those of us whose religious formation was as Anglicans. We lament the ruin of the great Ecclesia Anglicana which, from her beginning, was a beacon and monument of Romanitas in these damp and misty islands of the North, at a time when distinctively Roman Christianity had not yet spread much further that Rome herself. As S John Henry put it, Canterbury has gone its way, and York is gone, and Durham is gone, and Winchester is gone. It was sore to part with them. We clung to the vision of past greatness, and would not believe it could come to nought ... but the vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of S Peter, the grace of the Redeemer has left it. That old Church in its day became a corpse (a marvellous change!) and then it did but corrupt the air it once refreshed and cumber the ground which once it beautified.

As James Joyce pointed out, S John Henry was a superb prose stylist ... you might say, the Stylists' Stylist.

Only he could have got away with calling the Church of England a Stinking Corpse, because he said it so very elegantly.

8 November 2019

Ancestors and Combustibility

In some Amazon Synod document, I read the following, which I find puzzling:

"The wisdom of ancestral peoples affirms that Mother Earth has a female face."

There's plenty there to scratch one's head about. What particularly puzzles me is the phrase "ancestral peoples".

Don't we all have ancestors? Why am I not an Ancestral Person? Talking about Ancestral Peoples implies that other, lesser, hominid groupings may not be 'ancestral'. But how can this be? Even the mighty PF, when all is said and done, surely has ancestors? Or is he, according to the Nouvelle Theologie, some sort of extra-terrestrial creation, fatherless and motherless, who emerged from a flying saucer in some American desert?

(If this were so, would he be capax Sacramenti Ordinis?)

Should we all reassert our biblical Ancestrality by reviving the Narnian expressions Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve?

Changing the subject ... I liked the video of that splendid clergyman burning a Pachamama. But we need help here, which perhaps could be supplied by some of our traddy communities of nuns. They could manufacture Pachamama statues, perhaps of papier-mache impregnated with parafin or other combustible substances, which would be very easy even for the clumsiest priest to burn ceremonially ... and, er, frequently.

For the sisters, it would be a probably welcome change from baking Altar Breads. 

We need more imagination in the Church ...

You know I'm right.

7 November 2019

Is Newman a Saint?

Someone put to me this query: Suppose, in the future, it were to be decided by Authority that PF committed a formal act of Apostasy at the Vatican Gardens Event and thereby ceased to be pope. Would his act of canonising John Henry Newman still be valid?

Frankly, I regard this scenario as being in the very highest degree improbable. But ... what if ...

I would argue that, basically, it is what we Westerners nowadays call Beatification that really matters. (In the 'Orthodox' Churches, there has never been a two-stage ascent to Sainthood; just one stage.) In our Western Church, Beatification is the point at which the Church definitively permits a Catholic to be venerated by being given a Mass and Office in his honour; together with cultus. No longer are Masses to be offered for the repose of his soul. This change of status occurred when Pope Benedict beatified Newman at Birmingham. Canonisation simply extends the cultus from the restricted localities or communities specified in the decree of Beatification, to the Universal Church.

But even then things are not totally clear-cut. Not every newly canonised Saint is put on all the Universal Calendars as a memoria to be observed everywhere. (This is despite a hint in the writings of Pope Benedict XIV that a canonisation is not fully definitive unless acceptance of it is universally required.)

A little while ago, I accidentally came across a video made by Ann Widdecombe before Newman's Beatification. As a result of her enquiries and interviews, she expressed an opinion about why Benedict XVI was so keen for JHN to be beatified, and why, contrary to present practice, he wished to perform the rite himself rather than by delegation.

Absolutely correctly, Widdecombe focussed on the biglietto speech made by S John Henry upon receiving notification of his elevation to the Sacred College. In this, he asserted that throughout his life, both as an Anglican and as a Catholic, he had fought against what was for him the great error of the day: Liberalism. By this he meant what Benedict XVI called indifferentism and relativism: the idea that there is no absolute Truth.

Benedict beatified JHN by his own personal and direct act as a witness to the priority and certainty of the deposit of Faith handed down through the Apostles.

This theme has not been so much to the forefront of this pontificate ... before the canonisation, I did once make a jocular remark to the effect that people should pray that PF might not find out what Newman really stood for, before the scheduled date of the canonisation, lest the event be cancelled.

It is because S John Henry is not a witness to the predominant and abnormal themes of this present pontificate, but to an exactly opposite analysis, and because, unlike other modern canonizati, his elevation to the Altars of the Church is by the authority of two pontiffs, that I have confidence in the propriety of his cultus.

And, of course, God gave a very impresssive miracle as the witness to this great Saint's Sainthood.

6 November 2019

... cuius animae propitietur Deus

This morning, to the funeral Mass of Father Jerome Bertram, Congregation of the Oratory, Master of Arts, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He was ... is ... a priest of unusual erudition, worn very lightly. He wrote Latin with great skill and elegance.

He had been giving me help and advice in my study of a mutilated Brass in St Mawgan Church in Cornwall, commemorating a recusant lady called Catherine Tregian (nata Arundell; Mother of Francis Tregian). Now I shall have to finish it on my own.

The Church was packed out with both clergy and laity. The Extraordinary Form Solemn Mass of Requiem was beautifully done and accompanied by properly Oratorian music ... as if the Bandit Decades of the 60s and 70s had never happened; as if 2013 and the Triumph of the Wolves were just a bad dream.

5 November 2019

Dom Gregory Dix and the Papacy

Anglicans have commonly complained about the definition of Papal jurisdiction in Vatican I as an Ordinary, Episcopal, and Immediate jurisdiction over every Christian. It apparently subverts a doctrine of Episcopacy (sometimes called 'Cyprianic') which has often attracted Anglicans. "It makes the Pope a parallel and superior diocesan bishop in every diocese of Christendom", is the criticism.

Dom Gregory Dix dealt with this by referring to an incident in Anglican history in which, a diocesan having refused to institute a parish priest, the institution was therefore performed, after the legal processes ended with the diocesan losing the case, by or by commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury as Primate. As Dix pointed out, this is Ordinary (in accordance with norms of canon law) Episcopal (conferring the Cura animarum) and Immediate. If Anglicans can accept this, they need have no problems with Pastor Aeternus.

I assumed that this referred to the Gorham judgement of the 1840s, when a High Church bishop, Philpott of Exeter, refused to institute an Evangelical incumbent who denied Baptismal Regeneration. But Fr Alan Cooke of S Mark's Chadderton wrote to me in 2009: " In the early days of Archbishop Lang's primacy, as related on page 379 of Lockhart's biography, Bishop Barnes [the ultra-Modernist bishop] of Birmingham refused to institute a priest of whose views he disapproved. After proceedings in the High Court of Chancery, the Bishop remained intransigent, and the priest was instituted by the Archbishop. I wonder if it might be this incident that was in Dix's mind. He would certainly have had more sympathy with the view of that priest in Birmingham (the Revd Doyle Simmonds) than with those of Mr Gorham."

This may very well be right. But - if I may play Devil's Advocate:
(1) the Gorham case was much more high-profile; and contributed to Archdeacon Manning's departure from the C of E; and
(2) if Dix had 'Gorham' in mind, he really is taking the war into the enemies' territory by arguing that even the most anti-papal factions within Anglicanism are delighted to have a Pio Nono on tap when it suits them and their proddy cause. This is the sort of cheeky ad hominem argument that Dix, like Newman, loved to employ.

I use ad hominem in the Lockean sense of pressing a man with the implications of his own assertions.

4 November 2019

The Preface of All Saints

Alert readers will be aware of the 'Gallican' preface of All Saints (and of Patrons) included, I believe, in the 1962 Missal (I don't possess a copy of that rite), and widely used, especially in France, long before 1962 (it still appears in the SSPX ORDO). These 'Gallican' prefaces derive ultimately from the Paris Missal of 1738.

In the Good Old Days, the proper preface of a major festival was used throughout its octave (even when the Mass was not of the octave). In the spirit of this tradition, I venture to suggest the propriety of using the All Saints preface tomorrow in the Mass of the Holy Relics; and whenever this week the calendar of an area or religious order has a "Feast of All Saints of X". November 6, of course, is the festival of All Saints of Ireland; and the old Octave Day, November 8, has been widely kept since 1928 as the Feast of All Saints of England (and Wales).

In confirmation of my instinct, the Ordinariate Missal admirably provides for the use of an All Saints preface on the Feast of All Saints of England (although the prefaces offered do not include the 'Gallican' preface).

November 5, is the Feast of the Holy Relics

What a wholesome liturgical instinct this festival represents. In the medieval English rites, it tried out various dates; May 22 or the Monday after the Ascension at Exeter; the Sunday after the Translation of S Thomas (July 7) at Hereford and Sarum - although Sarum notes that 'nuper' it occupied the Octave Day of our Lady's Nativity, with an appropriate Collect "Grant we beseech thee Almighty God, that the merits may protect us of the holy Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary and of thy Saints whose relics are kept in this church ...". The traditional Benedictine rite keeps this festival on May 13, presumably a learned allusion to the Dedication of the Pantheon in Rome, upon this day, as the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. Before the reforms of S Pius X, this festival was to be found among the Masses For Some Places on October 26, or on the Last Sunday of October.

After S Pius X, the Feast of the Relics settled, most appropriately, onto a day within the Octave of All Saints, November 5, where it was observed by papal indult in certain places (often as a Greater Double). The colour to be used is red. This is consistent with the fact that the Office is the Common of Many Martyrs, despite the fact that not all the Saints whose relics we this day venerate were martyred. Perhaps we may relate this usage to the primitive notion that the Martyrs are the prototypical saints; that the unmartyred sancti et sanctae in a sense just piggy-back along upon the martyrs.

The Sacred Congregation of Rites sometimes felt tempted to turn to Byzantine sources to get a richer mixture than one always finds in formal Western texts (Sessio xxv of Trent is sound enough on the relics but a trifle sober). So the proper lections at Mattins for this feast are taken from that always-reliable Doctor of the Church S John of Damascus (Fr Eric Mascall once observed the propensity of Roman liturgists to resort to Eastern sources whenever they felt moved to say something 'extreme'). "For since Life itself and the Author of Life was numbered among the dead, we do not call those who finished their last day in the hope of Resurrection and of faith in Him 'Dead'. For how can a dead body utter miracles? Through relics the devils are cast out, diseases sent fleeing, the sick healed, the blind see ..." etc. etc.. The Collect is a fine composition which likewise sees the miracles performed through the relics of Saints as pledges of the Resurrection: Increase in us O Lord our faith in the Resurrection, who in the relics of thy Saints dost perform marvellous works: and make us partakers of the immortal glory of which our veneration of their ashes [cineres] is a pledge.

In the Leofric Missal, copied from texts brought to England in S Augustine's rucksack, there is a Votive for use in a Church or Oratory where relics are held. Its Collect lists all those categories of Saints of whom we might possess relics ... including our Lady and the Angelic Powers! A couple of its texts use the word patrocinium apparently to mean "our hoard of relics", and one phrase reminds God that we have gone to the trouble to collect them (colligere curavimus)!

This celebration disappeared from Church life in the post-Conciliar period, for presumably the same reasons that at the same time caused the Jesuits, who then occupied the Church of S Aloysius in this City, to have a massive bonfire of all the relics and reliquaries in their splendid Relics Chapel (Fr Bertram's elegant booklet about those events reminds one uncannily of the similar things which happened throughout England in the late 1540s ... mercifully, the gracious spirit of S Philip Neri has now restored lost glories by filling the Alyoggers Relics Chapel with a grand new collection).

This feast is, in my view, rich in themes for evangelical preaching and teaching, and ripe for wider revival. It teaches the goodness of material things against a false 'spiritualism'; it preaches the ultimately indissoluble link between Body and Soul against the sub-Christian notion that only the soul really matters; it proclaims the transforming eschatological glory which will clothe this perishable with what is imperishable, and this mortal with what is immortal, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

3 November 2019

Bungled again

According to a TV reviewer in the Times newspaper, "Depicting a fascist rally in Manchester in 1939, the opening scene had the leaders dressed in Blackshirt uniform". But, under the 1936 Public Order Act, this had been banned.

How carefully accurate does a historical film have to be? Of course, there is no objective answer to this. It depends on what you want. I am going to tell you what I want.

Personally, I want to understand  historical periods; to feel, to the tiny degree to which such a thing is possible, how things were. I instinctively treat such productions as Evidence; sources; data which, added to data I already have, can fill in details within a picture of a historical reality.

In the old 1960s film of Tom Jones, an Anglican clergyman, so I recall, wore a stole. If somebody really had done that, it would have been a very interesting fact indeed. In a clip of a Jane Austen which I once saw, a girl was wearing a cross on a chain round her neck. Did Georgian Anglican girls do this? It would be interesting to be told that they did ... this detail would go to building up a revisionist picture of Georgian Anglicanism. Otherwise, I think I would assume that the girl must have been a recusant. In which case, I would wonder which clever literary researcher had discovered such an interesting subtext.

But ... we all know it's probably just an unbelievably ignorant props manager ... and that we can only enjoy such productions if we suspend completely any instinct to look for clues and just doze through it all. Or if we are prepared to work so hard as to treat each piece as if it really operates at two levels: this is how a stupid person in the 1990s misunderstood the 1830s.

But isn't that very hard work? And potentially unrewarding?

In a 1990s dramatisation of Stendahl's Le rouge et le noir, a French monarch of the Bourbon Restoration is about to drive through a township. Those waiting to cheer him are waving sweet little tricolour flags on sweet little sticks. How interesting that this custom existed in France as early as the first third of the nineteenth century. If it did! But, forgetting about that comparatively minor detail, my own reading of such a scene would lead me to assume that the town was very provocatively anti-Bourbon ... indeed, to wonder whether the imminent monarch (Charles X?) would perpetrate an angry massacre when he beheld such breath-taking defiance with his very own royal eyes. After all, much later in the century King Henri V sacrificed an opportunity of restoration because he refused to sanction the Emblem of the Revolution.

British readers will admire my restraint in saying nothing about some 'Austens' currently on our TV.
I simply can't watch silly costume dramas by dirty-minded illiterates purporting to offer us the divine Jane. 

In fact, my only surviving weaknesses in this area are the Beeb's Brideshead and David Suchet's Poirot (the other night, I think I saw a genuine Tamara Lempicka hanging on an Art Deco wall ...). 

2 November 2019

Pontificale Romanum: the Second Meddler

(This post presupposes that you read about the previous Meddler a few weeks ago.)

Thomas Cranmer faced, four hundred years before Bernard Botte, the prolixity of the late Medieval Rite for the Consecration of a Bishop. As Dom Gregory Dix enjoyed pointing out, the problem with the sixteenth century 'Reformers' was that they both knew very little about early Christian worship and were very determined to throw out all the Medieval bathwater. But in their profound ignorance, what they generally managed to throw out was the 'primitive' Baby, and the late medieval bathwater is what they sedulously preserved, enthroning it for veneration with all the gleeful fervour of a medieval monastic relic-hunter. Cranmer's revision of the Rite of Episcopal Consecration falls exactly into this pattern. The late medieval Imperative Formula Take the Holy Ghost becomes the centre-piece of his rite [later Anglicans were to make it more explicit: Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and work of a Bishop in the Church of God].

The ancient and venerable Roman Consecratory Prayer got as short shrift from Cranmer in the 1550s as it was later to receive from Botte in the 1960s. It emphasised the significance of the vesture of the Aaronic priesthood, and both of our Meddlers undoubtedly will have felt very little enthusiasm for the typological significance of a lot of Hebrew needlework. In its place, Cranmer provided a prayer of his own composition. He was not lacking in self-confidence!

But Cranmer concluded his confection with a slightly abbreviated translation of the Missale Francorum interpolation into the Roman Prayer.

Neither of these two Meddlers, in my opinion, comes at all well out of all this. But, if you were to ask me which of the two of them preserved more of the traditions of the Western Church as they had received them, and moved the more 'organically' within a Hermeneutic of Continuity, I think I might plead that Cranmer wins by a rather dodgy microwhisker.

1 November 2019

Noah ... or Noe ...

I wonder why Noe does not appear, together with Abel, Abraham, and Melkizedek, in the Supra quae of the Canon Romanus. This is all the more pertinent a question since Noe does appear, with the others, in the Apostolic Constitutions and in the Liturgies of S Basil and of S James.

I don't have a cut-and-dried answer to this - perhaps correspondents will have contributions - but my suspicion is as follows. The other three have a very much stronger symbolic or typological relationship with Christ and with his Sacrifice. Abel, dikaios like Christ, was a Shepherd and offered, let us say, a Lamb. Abraham, our Father by virtue of his and our Faith, offered on Mount Moriah (which was to be the Temple mount and the place of Christ's Sacrifice) a sacrifice which was in a sense the offering of his Son but was offered per modum of a ... grown-up lamb. Melkizedek offered Bread and Wine, suggestive of the Eucharist ... and the Writer ad Hebraeos gives further reasons for linking Melkizedek typologically with Christ.

I expect there is some important factor which I have missed ...??

31 October 2019

Women Scientists

I expect you know that in the eighteenth century women were not only allowed to study the Natural Sciences in Italian universities (particularly at Bologna), but could and did take degrees and become university teachers? And that this happened with Church - and even papal - sponsorship and encouragement; long before English universities had any public teaching of Sciences or allowed women anywhere near the doors of lecture rooms? Not surprisingly, that erudite pontiff, Papa Lambertini aka Bendict XIV, was the pope involved. His true enlightenment compares favourably with the spurious Enlightenment of  Rousseau, who believed that the education of women should only be directed to the end of training them to massage the male ego.

This looks to me like a detail of history which does not very often get publicity. It subverts the barmy views of Bishop Williamson, who seems to side with Rousseau against Benedict XIV, as well as the predictable assumptions of Catholicophobe journalists and pundits.

30 October 2019

Dr William J Walsh, Archbishop of Dublin, wrote ...

If all the prayers of loving hearts from the beginning of the world, and all the seraphic worship of the thrones and principalities of heaven, and the burning devotion and love of the Virgin Mother of God, and the million voices of the universe of all creatures of heaven and earth and sea were offered up in one universal and harmonious act of praise and adoration, they would not equal or even approach in value and efficacy the infinite worth of a SINGLE MASS.

Spot on, yes? A humbling thought for us presbyters, as, morning by morning, we stumble up the steps murmuring Aufer a nobis quaesumus Domine iniquitates nostras ut ad Sancta Sanctorum ...

29 October 2019

Naive Europeans

Of course we Europeans are naive. I, however, like to think that I am different. This is because I have had explained to me by very erudite American friends that their Constitution is gravely and radically flawed; and that their 'Founding Fathers' were a shocking and vastly unpleasant gang of men.

(Was the Confederacy any better?)

So I was highly intrigued to receive my 2019 copy of The Coat of Arms, the academic journal of the Heraldry Society. It includes a paper by Paul A Fox, FSA, AIH (what does the latter abbreviation denote?) entitulated George Washington and the Origin of the Arms and Flag of the United States. In this context, the latter phrase clearly means the United States of North America.

Fox, a revisonist, attempts (plausibly, in my judgement) to re-establish the old story that the design of the Stars and Stripes was influenced by Washington's own inherited armorial achievement. OK. But what particularly interested me was that in his discussion it comes out how strongly the iconography of the Revolution was influenced by 'Free Masonry'; and how many of those who set up the US of A were rabid 'Masons' . There is an interesting discussion of the Summons Plate of the new Philadelphia Lodge in 1759.

(Incidentally, Fox does not discuss the significance of the Triangle with the Tetragrammaton inside it ...  which was not, I believe, confined to 'Masonry' but occurs also in Catholic Baroque religious iconography.)

Apparently, Washington was accompanied on his military rampages by a 'Command Flag' looking exactly like our European flag, except that, instead of the Twelve Stars of our blessed Lady's Crown, it has thirteen stars. Fox explains that 'Masonic' lodges have lots of stars painted on their ceilings.

I commend this article to mah fellow Europeans. It will help them better to understand that mysterious superpower which lurks just over the horizon from County Kerry.

28 October 2019


Anglican clergy have never been totally indifferent to millinery. The magical Fr Sandys Wason, lawful incumbent of Cury and Gunwalloe, maestro of Cope and Fenwick, wore his biretta even when playing tennis.

I know of one Canterbury Cap which still makes its appearance within the Ordinariate and even consorts with a morning coat at Ascott; and the sort of clergyman who wore bands over his tippet and hood might also, to celebrate the major festivals, carry his academic square up and down the church at the Divine Office (Yes ... I admit it ... I have done that). We Catholics of the Anglican patrimony, of course, have always been preoccupied with birettas. I once lent S Thomas's to the/an Order of S Lazarus and was fascinated by the crop of green pompoms. Old photographs from Walsingham in the days of Fr Hope Patten reveal that clerical members of the College of Guardians wore birettas twice the height of ordinary ones. Some clergy, doubtless in pious memory of our late Sovereign Lord King Philip, wore Spanish models. Clergy who claimed dubious doctorates from obscure institutions far across the heaving Ocean added an additional wing to their headwear. And there was the pleasure of covering and uncovering: I once heard a sermon by an Anglican bishop in which, for some reason which now eludes me, he repeatedly named the then Sovereign Pontiff. The numerous clerical brethren in choir duly uncovered at each such mention ... ever more enthusiastically as time went on (not that they all subsequently accepted the invitation to corporate unity issued by that same Pope ... there is perhaps a sermon in this ...).

My own biretta, in constant use since I was deaconed in 1967, has lost the pristine gloss it possessed when I first bought it in Vanpoules. Having sustained showers of rain more often than I care to remember when I was stumbling across country churchyards in front of an undertaker, or panting up the irregular hillside of the cemetery at High Wycombe, or going round the village on sick calls during winter blizzards, it is somewhat faded and warped. More strangely, the pompom, over the decades, gradually turned a shade of reddy black. (I look to those with chemical know-how to explain this.) I got tired of parrying the quips of those who enquired whether, like a dragon-fly larva, I might be gradually metamorphosing into a Canon, and so when the thread attaching the pompom weakened and broke, I did not sow it back on. (My friend the mighty Fr Ray Blake once told me that his own biretta had changed, like the disintegrating MA gowns of superannuated schoolmasters, into an episcopal green.)

But it is born upon me that the biretta-without-a-pompom should really be deemed the proper historical headwear for the clerus Romanus. It is still worn as such by Redemptorists and Oratorians and Cardinals (pompoms being a piece of effeminate frenchification, oo la la, give it another twirl, yes??). A recent hint from Fr Zed leads the way. And, since the Ordinariate is directly subject to the Roman Pontiff, I am sure that the biretta-without-a-pompom is exactly what our beloved Holy Father wishes us to wear.

We owe it to him to get our headwear right, whatever the cost, come what may.

27 October 2019

Celebrating Christ the King? UPDATED

There is an Internet record (Independent Catholic News November 23 2009) recording a visit made by Archbishop Nichols to a Hindu Temple in Neasden on Saturday 21 November 2009, the Eve of the Novus Ordo celebration of Christ the King. Here is a paragraph.

"Yogvivek Swami guided the Archbishop around the Mandir complex, including the sanctum sanctorum where the Archbishop offered flowers at the altar to the deities. He then moved to the deity of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan) where he joined Yogvivek Swami in praying for world peace and harmony".

The account, which is long and detailed, reads like an official statement or communique. I don't know my way terribly well around the Internet ... can any reader clarify whether this is an official account which perhaps appeared on the Westminster or CBCEW websites before being removed?

If it were accurate, it would interestingly illustrate the difference between the Christus Rex of Pius XI (Quas primas 1925), with its emphasis on the Lordship of Christ, and the Novus Ordo Christ the King of Bugnini, which would apparently be compatible with idolatrous/syncretistic cultic activity. If it is indeed true that Bugnini belonged to the syncretistic 'Masonic' cult, this would hardly be surprising..

Pius XI quoted the words of Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ."

As we celebrate Christ the King today, it might be a valuable exercise to reread Dominus Iesus, issued by the CDF during Cardinal Ratzinger's most distinguished prefecture.

Not much syncretism there!

UPDATE A kind correspondent has verified that the Communique did appear on the Westminster Diocesan website, before it was removed.

What a good thing the current CIC does not contain any tactless and unhelpful provisions about what happens latae sententiae to clerics who take part in public Idolatry.

26 October 2019


I recently expressed my own individual feeling that we all need expert and informed information about the Vatican Gardens Event. It is clear that, whether or not this was a formal act of idolatry, it constituted a very great skandalon. But was it an act of idolatry?

Our Holy Father has himself now usefully progressed and clarified the question.

There had been doubts whether 'Pachamama' was the correct term for a pagan Amazonian deity. But PF has been reported as himself referring to the statue or statues as Pachamama.

I wonder what difference, canonically, this makes. What I mean is this.

If the statue venerated in the VGE was not of Pachamama, but PF erroneously believed that it was, would his act of veneration of this statue (if he did make such an act) still be a formal act of Apostasy, on the grounds that the Roman Pontiff intended to commit an act of idolatry?

I would prefer not to have angry and intemperate comments offered by people with strong opinions but without competence in Canon Law.

I applaud the sensible and measured comments of Cardinal Mueller; as well as the highly appropriate act of Intiberisation. But there are rumours that the Roman plods have recovered the idols. In future, might it not be safer to burn idols which have inappropriately been set up in Catholic places of worship? Or to smash them effectively up?

25 October 2019


On the internet it is claimed that there is a history of Christian missionaries re-identifying representations of pagan divinities as objects of licit Christian cultus.

Well, I'm old enough to be wise enough not to assert universal negatives. So I won't claim that this could never have happened anywhere. But I would like to be shown some evidence.

Because the ancient world provides interesting examples of quite the opposite. It would be very easy for a statue of Isis with Horus upon her lap to be recycled as Our Lady. Perhaps the easiest place for this to have happened would have been in the home teritory of Isis, Egypt ... where, indeed, the cultus of the Theotokos was to find enthusiastic adherents earlier than it did in some other places.

But the evidence is that when Christians converted an Isiac temple to the true faith, they did not dedicate the church to the Mother of God.

On the contrary: the christianisation was performed by placing the relics of martyrs within the buildings, and offering them cultus. The building was regarded as dedicated to those martyrs.

This is completely in line with what S Bede records S Gregory as Magisterially commending at HE I: 30.

24 October 2019

The Cherwell

We love to play confusing tricks upon foreigners with regard to surnames and placenames. One example of the former: there are people whose name is Fanshaw, but who sign themselves Featherstonehaugh. I sometimes wonder how they get on when entering America and facing those grim and defensive immigration officials.

With some regularity, a controversy arises every eighteen months about how the name of the River Cherwell, which joins the Thames at Oxford, should be pronounced.

Oxonians make the first syllable rhyme with bar (compare also the County of Berkshire ... I'm not sure about the Berkley, er, Hunt ...). But rustic folks living up the Cherwell valley make that first syllable rhyme with sir. Old maps, old documents, which vary the orthography between Charwell and Cherwell, make clear that the former is, historically, correct.

I have little doubt that explanation is to be found in Mgr Knox's words about the Barsetshire town of Greshamsbury. " ... the inhabitants no longer called it Greemsbury, but pronounced it as it was spelt; for with the coming of education they had learned how to write and forgotten how to talk ...".

In Devon, to give another example, Crediton is now called, as spelt, Crediton; but it used to be pronounced Kirton.

You see, in Oxford we have two rivers, and so it is often necessary to specify which is intended. But where there is only one river, it would be excessive to name it: one would just call it "the River" or, if tidal, "the Water". Similarly, if there is only one church, it is "the Church". Only if there is the possibility of confusion would one say "S Mark's Church" or "S Peter's" or "the Presbyterian Church".

This is why so many of our River "names" are simply 'Celtic' or even 'pre-Celtic' words meaning River (Avon ...).

Some river names on modern maps seem even to arise from mistakes by those busy and pompous people, Antiquarians (the Adur ...)!

23 October 2019

What on earth is Dr Kwasniewski up to?

Not for the first time, Peter Kwasniewski has placed us all in his debt. I am refering to his recent John Henry Newman on Worship, Reverence and Ritual (Os Justi Press, 513 pages, ISBN 9 781692 121020). In it, he gathers together a very large number of splendid texts by S John Henry which relate to continuity in liturgical praxis. But I would like to suggest that the erudite compiler has raised a deeper question.

The pieces Peter collects are arranged in chronological order of composition. This encouraged me, on drawing this substantial volume out of its packing, instantly to detect that some three quarters of its pages  are taken from S JHN's 'Anglican period'. Turning then to the 'Editor's Note', I found this acknowledgement: "While the majority of writings contained herein are from Newman's Anglican period (particularly from the eight volumes of the incomparable Parochial and Plain Sermons), there is very little in their content that would even need to be rewritten, let alone retracted, by a Roman Catholic." I was instantly reminded of the Saint's own protestation of the continuities in his life and thought, expressed in his Biglietto speech: " ... to one great mischief I have from the first opposed myself. For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion."

The deeper question which arises from the recent canonisation is this. Saint John Henry Newman is a very unusual, very atypical, Teacher to be given by God to the Universal Church. I am sure there are saints a-many whose views changed when they left haeresis for the light of the Gospel. And it is true that the overall corpus of S John Henry's teaching does need to be focussed, perhaps aligned, perhaps corrected, by the fulness of his views after his entry into full communion (as a a young man ... for example ... he had opined that the Roman Pontiff was Antichrist).

But has there ever been a Saint a significant part of whose authentic teaching was delivered outside the visible unity of the One Fold of the Redeemer?

You see, this Saint offers the Universal Church a body of teaching which, taken as a whole, is conspicuous, from his earliest Anglican teaching onwards, for its power to edify. And, not least, to edify the Catholic Church in the crisis in which she finds herself during this particular  kairos. Newman is God's messenger for this, the seventh year of the pontificate of Pope Francis. Whether PF himself realises that or not.

We have the authority of Joseph Ratzinger for drawing upon the teaching of the Anglican Newman. In defence of his view that what has been sacred cannot simply be discarded, the doctrinal essence of Summorum Pontificum, the future Pope Benedict cited Parochial and Plain Sermons volume 2 (1835), Sermon 7, included in Dr Kwasniewski's selection from Newman.

The continuous direction and consistency in S JHN's teaching is a remarkable testimony to the working of grace within the separated Anglican community in which he grew up. And it is surely no surprise that he was beatified by the same Roman Pontiff who invited 'Anglican groups' to bring into full communion with the See of Peter the wise and gracious things which they had enjoyed in the centuries of separation, those days in terra aliena.

We, particularly (but by no means only) members of the Ordinariates, have an awesome duty.

Tertullian, poor fellow, slithered from Catholicism into haeresis. Yet he is sometimes cited Magisterially. A fortiori, how important it will be to cite both the Anglican and the Catholic S JHN and to do so with deferential respect and admiration.

Let me be clear about this: it is our duty to know and to quote and to promote those teachings which Newman gave when he was still an Anglican as well as the things he did and wrote after that rainy evening at Littlemore just outside Oxford on October 9 in the Year of Salvation 1845.

Peter: Thank You very much for this superb compilation of S John Henry's Magisterial writings upon Tradition and Worship. In your pages, the reader will find not only sound doctrine, and sensitive teaching, but the exquisite cadences of the greatest stylist of modern Catholic England.

In every sense of the word, you have given us a Treasure!! 

22 October 2019


Even Adrian Molesworth no about the Defenestration of Prague. Would "The Depontification of Pachamama" do as a description of the watery relocation of those iffy statues in Rome? Or "The Intiberisation"? Does it merit an annual liturgical celebration? I expect Joshua has Propers (Extraordinary Form) at the ready.



There is an intriguing news story going around.

Here in Oxford, in what we used to call the Library of the Ashmolean but now call the Sackler since its magnificent rebuild, they store thousands of papayri, some published, many unpublished. These were dug up in a 2000-year-old rubbish dump at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt back in the 1890s by a couple called Grenfell anf Hunt. (Dry sand preserves papyrus.) They are the property of 'The Egypt Exploration Society'. These papyri range from literary texts lost since the fall of Constantinople to laundry lists.

Among them are some OT and NT fragments. And some of these, missing from the Sackler, appear now to be held by an American Evangelical 'Museum of the Bible' financed by a family called Green. (They have very promptly said that they will return anything to which they do not have title.)

The name of an Oxford American papyrologist called Dirk Obbink has cropped up.

What our media do not seem to be aware of is that Obbink has been in the news in a variety of contexts. One of these concerns the Aeolian poetess Sappho of Lesbos.

Most of her oeuvre is lost, the last copies having very probably been destroyed during the spread of Islamic enlightenment. A few pieces survived because they were quoted by other writers. But in the last century quite a few papyrus fragments have been identified and published. One such substantial and quite 'recent' fragment was unofficially named "the New Sappho". Obbink has been in the Sappho Industry from an early stage. And when an "Even Newer Sappho" was published by him, much interest was aroused.

There were some nasty-minded people who even wondered if this might be a forgery ... a suspicion definitively disproved. Interest then turned to 'provenance'. Then there were those who felt that Obbink had given an unsatisfactorily laconic account of where he got it from. It transpired that the Green Museum somehow came somewhere into the story. Nobody has suggested that the Greens have behaved with anything other than complete propriety from beginning to end.

In publishing this text, Obbink, in his understated American way [might he be a relative of Max Beerbohm's Oover?], secured blessed immortality by giving it the title "Papyrus Obbink".

The University is "investigating". Inspector Morse has not been called in. Who needs plods when you have dons?

Why might readers of this humble blog have any interest in such a subject? Because Sappho either invented, or somehow found her name attached to, a metre called the Sapphic. Users of a Breviary will know this metre extremely well because of the hymn Iste Confessor, which crops up with great regularity whenever ... as we so often do in the Western Rites ... we celebrate yet another 'Confessor'. Dragged from Greek into Latin poetry by Catullus and Horace, the 'Sapphic Metre' has for centuries been popular among those composing Latin verse, including hymns. I used it in my recent Latin hymn to S John Henry, Salve Fundator.

In English translations, it springs up at you from the pages of your hymn book because it has three longish lines and then a very short one with the rhythm tumtitty tumtum. [Exempli gratia: Wherefore O Father, we thy humble servants; Lord of our life and God of our salvation ...]

21 October 2019

Silly person

Some person called Mary Beard, who enjoys the title of 'professor' at some 'university', has said to the meejah: " ... do I like the Romans? I really hate them ... I am not going to love a culture that gave the likes of me no political rights, however interesting I find them. The same would go for the Victorians."

"The same would go" for Germany before 1919; the Beard will have to "hate" pre-Weimar Germany. Comparatively, at least, she will accord an easier toleration to the more liberal German electoral system which left the Nazis in charge. I expect she adores Stalin and can't wait to live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

What a thoroughly fatuous individual. She "really hates" [schoolgirl talk?] every culture before around 1920. Dumping any attempt at nuance, she misreads earlier cultures by implying that 'political rights' had the same significance in all of them that the phrase possesses in modern Western societies.

I wonder what Livia would have made of being condescended to by the pity of a Beard, on the grounds that she "lacked political rights". Have fig, dear. Have several.

In earlier societies, male and female spheres were different and distinguished. Typically, the male sphere included the the relationship between the family and external society. The female related to the household. This is carefully explained in the last chapter of Proverbs.

We may be better off or worse off now that we have discarded such distinctions. In my fairer moments I can see plausible arguments both ways.

But for 'professor' Beard simply not to understand such elementary matters makes me wonder if it was ever wise to allow Cambridge the title of university. Is it too late for us to have second thoughts about this?

20 October 2019

Vatican Gardens Event

There's a lot of hot air on the internet, following the Vatican Gardens Event. I noticed one in particular by a person saying that he could not say AMEN to a prayer for the pope. I would like to make a technical point: the Te igitur of the Roman Canon does not pray for the pope, still less does it in some way glorify him; it expresses our sacramental communio with him. I do that each morning with determination.

I propose to start deleting proffered comments which angrily attack PF for the VGE.

What I would like to see is a careful exegesis by some academically qualified person who is expert in the 'indigenous' religions of Amazonia, of what PF did at the VGE I shall not accept comments which woffle angrily. It would need to rely on a precise and evidenced account of what actually happened.

Our great Anglican mystagogue Dom Gregory Dix used to assert (e.g. Shape pp 24-26) that during the early persecutions Apostasy by a cleric meant that he had irremediably lost his Orders. I would like to see accounts by academically qualified writers of how this matter stands, historically and theologically.

Please do not waste your time or mine writing in with your own strong views unless you are academically competent.

19 October 2019

Bishop Robert Barron and Papa Lambertini's conundrum

Pope Benedict XIV pointed out (1) that we are obliged to venerate an exposed Host (cultum negari non posse hostiae ad venerationem expositae). But (2): although it is de fide that consecrated Hosts have been transubstantiated, (3) it is not de fide that this particular host actually was, as a matter of History, certainly consecrated (licet de fide non sit esse consecratam).

You see what he means in part (3) of that. The validity of its (or Its) consecration depends on our certainty that Fr O'Flanahan did say the proper words over it with an adequate intention (poor old chap undoubtedly getting senile) and that the novice nun who baked it did get the recipe right (last week her scones tasted of Vindaloo) and that the village miller's labourer didn't confuse his wheat-grain with his barley-grain (should have gone to Specsavers) and that our rather cranky Sacristan Maire Murphy didn't surreptitiously substitute an unconsecrated host for the consecrated Host (has brainstorms every alternate full moon) and that the priest who baptised Fr O'Flanahan, the notorious Fr Jack Hegarty of Graggy Island, didn't deliberately do it invalidly (by withdrawing his intention to perform any sort of Christian rite) in order to take revenge on bishop Brennan for cutting off his supply of whiskey and girls.

[Can I just break off here to clarify that I am not anti-Irish ... if the officiating clergyman had been, not Fr O'Flanahan of the County Tipperary but Fr Featherstonehaugh-Cholmondeleigh, Eton, Kings, and the Beda, one of the Barsetshire Featherstonehaugh-Cholmondeleighs (note for transatlantic readers: pronounced 'Fanshaw-Chumly'), I could have gone on for pages and pages more ... ]

While we are in via, even the majesty of Dogma does not free us from dependance on ordinary human probabilities. Watertight logical certainties guaranteed by a string of immaculate syllogisms are not the stuff of our Christian lives.

The other day, Bishop Robert Barron lectured memorably in the University Church on S John Henry's Grammar of Assent. I wonder if the Lambertini Conundrum gives interesting Magisterial support to the argument of the Grammar!

18 October 2019

18 October: S Eadnoth of Dorchester

The Heavenly Birthday, Natale, of S Eadnoth Bishop of Dorchester. He was killed while saying Mass during the Battle of Assandun.

The victorious Danes killed him; I expect I will be criticised for suggesting that it shows more respect ... indeed, fear ... towards the power of the Sacrifice of the Mass, to kill a priest for offering it than it does just to dismiss the Eucharist as some irrelevance by which nobody need feel threatened. Might the Danes who killed S Eadnoth and the man who killed Fr Hamel at the altar be a millimetre closer to Truth than the Obama who so slyly campaigned to replace 'Freedom of Religion' with a 'Freedom of Worship' about which he couldn't care less?

S Eadnoth ended up being buried at Ely. His own Cathedral Church at Dorchester, just South of Oxford, was to lose that status half a century later under the Normans, when the sedes episcopalis was transferred to Winchester. S Eadnoth's church, or rather, the gothic Abbey Church built over its site, was once, but is no longer, a dynamic Anglo-Catholic centre with a Missionary College attached.

At the beginning of this millennium, the shrine of Dorchester's founding bishop S Birinus was reconstructed. That reconstruction is superbly emblematic of all that is pathetic about a faded and gutless middle-of-the-road Anglicanism devoid of real content. On top of the now meaningless masonry there is no feretory containing relics; attached to its west end there is no Altar for the August Sacrifice. (The same is true of S Frideswide's Shrine in Oxford.) The C of E is terribly good at 'heritage' and demonstrating a polite enthusiasm for the past, but has no real awareness of any interaction between the Now and the Supernatural. (The church is in the hands of a woman 'priest'.) In Kenneth Kirk's pontificate, the Anglican Bishop Suffragan of Dorchester was permitted, once a year on S Birinus' feast in December, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester with all the dignities of a Diocesan Bishop, including the presence of the famed and feared Staggers Serving Team commanded by Canon Couratin.  A past era; a departed culture.

Sic transit gloria ....

But you can find the supernatural a little way away, down by Dorchester's river, in the lovely little Victorian Catholic Church of S Birinus, beautifully restored by the admirable Fr Osman, who celebrates the Old Mass in it, and is one of the assertores Veritatis who is prepared to lift his head above current parapets.

Luci cedant tenebrae, et cedunt.

17 October 2019

Sancta Patrona, ora pro nobis UPDATED

A rare liturgical treat this year. Saint Frideswide, Patron of this City and Univerity, has her feast on Saturday (October 19). And, thanks to the Latin Mass Society, there is a High Mass in the traditional Dominican Rite at Blackfriars. 11 a.m..

A treat, because the Dominican Rite is very similar to the old Sarum Rite (the main visual difference is that modern Dominicans do all the 'tridentine' genuflections, which 'Sarum' didn't have). So this is the closest you are likely to get to what happened in honour of the Saint in Oxford Cathedral, originally the church of the priory of S Frideswide until the suppression of the monasteries under Cardinal Wolsey. Unless, of course, it were to happen that ... er ...

Despite the 'Reformation', the University never quite got round to deleting S Frideswide from its Calendar. Check this in your Oxford Diary if you don't believe me.

As Patron, S Frideswide grabs the (second) Vespers of S Luke, who, according to the 1962 rules, doesn't even get a commemoration. She steals her own Second Vespers from the Sunday, which does get a commemoration. Before P*us XII and B*gnini got tinkering, S Luke did get a commemoration of his (Second) Vespers. And there would have been a Common Octave of S Frideswide ...  If I've got some of that wrong, I'm sure there is One Above who will correct me!

Moi, I shall use the 'Gallican' Preface of Patrons.

Back in the days of the dear old Church of England, now no more than a sanctified memory, on this Feast the Lord Bishop sang Pontifical High Mass in his Cathedral, assisted by the Staggers Travelling Circus. Happy times! But all good things come to an end ... up to a point ...

Not very far from the bones of S Frideswide is the grave of Robert King, last abbot of Thame and Oseney and Bishop of Rheon in partibus infidelium, first and only de facto Bishop of Oseney, first Bishop of Oxford (the See was canonically erected by Cardinal Pole on 24 December 1554). His de facto successor was Hugh Curwen, who had been consecrated by Dr Bonner temp' Philippi et Mariae to Dublin (it is not quite true, as people carelessly claim, that only one Marian bishop conformed under Elisabeth). I've no idea where he's buried, poor old gentleman.
[UPDATE: Mark West kindly points out that, according to the DNB, Curwen was buried at Burford; 'Pevsner' does not record a surviving monument.]

Our exalted Patron is still there in her Church, buried under a stone inscribed Frideswide, her bones amusingly mixed with those of some Protestant woman. Nearby, the fairly complete fragments of the medieval shrine have been reassembled.

A statio, perhaps, to be made on the way up to Blackfriars.

16 October 2019

Was Vincenzo Carducci a crypto-Anglican?

There is a delightful picture by a Baroque painter of the seventeenth century, Vincenzo Carducci, who worked for the Spanish Crown. It shows the Ordination of S John Matha (and his first Mass in which he received a mercedarian vocation).

Carducci or his patron, interestingly, clearly did not accept the then current assumption, based upon the teaching of Pope Eugene IV, that the Porrectio Instrumentorum was the Matter of Ordination. He shows the Holy Spirit descending like a flame of fire upon the head of the Saint as the bishop imposes his hands and says the words Receive the Holy Ghost ...whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven ... etc..

I wonder if the artist and his Most Catholic Royal Patron would have been surprised if they could have known that, four centuries later, Ordination by means of that Matter accompanied by that Form would survive among Anglicans who use the Prayer Book Ordinal (Bishop Harry Carpenter, who had Bossuet on the Dutch side of his episcopal pedigree, dealt thus with me on Trinity Sunday in 1968), but that the imposition of hands with that formula would be abolished in the post-Vatican II Roman version of presbyteral Ordination.

Ah, the whimsies of liturgical history!

15 October 2019

Walsingham and the CCC

I heard a rumour ... just a rumour ... that the Catholic Shrine at Walsingham, long known to dyspeptic Anglicans as The Barn, may be reordered or even demolished and replaced (plaudite! plaudite!) by something a tadge more like a Catholic Shrine ... indeed, something more like the Anglican Shrine, with its 16 Rosary Altars and its superb collection of relics (not to mention its Holy House and its Holy Well).

The dynamic 'new' Administrator, Canon Armitage, might give away some hints about his plans when he speaks at the Colloquium being held at Walsingham from November 19-21 by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (not too late, Fathers, to book).

The main speaker is to be Dom Mark Kirby (Vivat! Vivat!), the charismatic and eloquent Prior of the (traditional) Benedictine House at Silverstream in the County Meath ... a fantastic man; a fantastic place.

I don't understand why some people are so negative and pessimistic about the state of the Church Militant ...

14 October 2019


As diligent readers will know, I've been sequestered from from the input of the World ... so I'm ill-placed to comment upon Mysterious Happenings in the Vatican Gardens (there must be a joke somewhere here about leading people Up The Garden Path).

But a kind American friend draws my attention to the comments on the American fsspx.news.

Eccelente. What a superb witness the Society has given to plain sanity over so many years ... decades ...


One or two random notes and queries arising from Sunday's liturgy.

Again, the rite used was that put in place by PF. It omits the formulae which had been added by Pope Benedict and which had enhanced the Magisterial status of the rite. Common sense suggests that canonisations in this reduced rite assert less certainty about the process.

The Greek Deacon omitted, I think, the Customary Kisses of the Hierarch's hand. Previous Greek Deacons have done them. Was this by instruction? Another example of the perennial tendency to latinise Byzantines?

PF is Bishop of Rome. It is strange that he did not use the Roman Eucharistic Prayer. Doesn't he like the job? Is he getting into retirement mode?

Some clergy, at communion time, gave the Host into the mouth of a recipient, even if s/he held out his/her hands; some went along with the wishes of the recipient. At one point there seemed to be an MC gesturing to the effect that reception should be in the mouth.

At the end, Lead Kindly Light was sung in Italian. If we are to have vernacular liturgy, it would seem common sense to have a text written by one of the canonizati sung in the language in which he/she wrote it. And after all, English is not exactly one of the world's rarest languages. I deplore the rabid and relentless Italianisation of the Catholic Church. My Father used to express the view that the Catholic Church might be OK for Eye Ties, but not for Englishmen. It is a shame that current Vatican policy appears to concur.

Who were the Anglican bishops near the pope? Was one of them a scarlet woman? Why do modern Anglican bishops shun the dear sober old patrimonial Penguin which was good enough for blessed William Laud? The C of E should put a stop to all this vulgar highchurchery.

What a wonderful showing all those Keralan Catholics, and the crowds of Syro-Malabar clergy, made!

PS The cameraman generously showed us quite a lot of shots of a particular chap sitting among the Great and the Good. He very extravagantly leaned sideways and forward while reaching behind him so as to give his bottom a good scratch; then engaged with his texting machine; then started picking at his fingernails. The poor fellow was very restless.  Does Novus Ordo liturgy have this effect on everyone? Is there a medical name for the physical consequences of Modern Liturgy? Are there known remedies?

Who was/is he?

13 October 2019


I made it clear before leaving my computer for ten days that I would not be reading emails or moderating proferred comments. Again, I return to a load of abuse from someone who presumably did not read that notification, and is cross that I didn't publish his 'comments'. You might have thought he would have noticed that I didn't enable any other comments either.

Now I've been through them and enabled most.

S Columba and Canonisation

The 'Stowe Missal', once in the library at Stowe of the Dukes of Buckingham and now kept by the Royal Irish Academy, gives us evidence of the worship of at least one Irish worshipping community in the 790s; it is the earliest surviving Altar Book from this archipelago and also preserves, fossilised, valuable information about the history of the Roman Rite before S Gregory the Great threw the Hermeneutic of Continuity to the winds with his Byzantinising alterations. Stowe reveals that Mass used to begin with a litany; and an anecdote about S Columba suggests that this had been true in his time (he died in 597).

One morning, as his brethren were putting on their shoes to go to work, S Columba stopped them and ordered that they should instead prepare for Mass and for a festal meal. "And I who am so unworthy must today celebrate the sacred mystery of the Eucharist out of reverence for the soul that last night was carried away among the choirs of angels ...". So they did; but the Saint interrupted the litany to tell the singers to add the name of S Colman the bishop [S Colman moccu Loigse of Leinster] who - so it had been revealed to him - had died that night.

It is well known that legal preliminaries and formal papal pronouncements were not the means by which a man or woman was 'raised to the Altars of the Church' in the early centuries. But I take issue with the assumption sometimes made that canonisation was by acclamation; as if the Church were an ochlocracy in which decisions were made by mobs shouting. The Church has always been a structured, hierarchical body, and the placing of a name on the 'list' or 'canon' of saints must always have been an action formally done by the celebrant of the Eucharist (who in early centuries would of course normatively have been episcopal).

So here S Columba does not charge around saying "I've had a vision that Colman is dead"; his monastic brethren do not then start jumping up and down yelling "Goodness how holy he was! Santo subito!" No; S Columba 'canonises' Colman formally by prescribing a Eucharistic celebration on a day on which this would not normally have happened; summoning his monks to church wearing the white garments they normally wore on major feasts, and then instructing the cantores to name Colman.

So that Naming and the Invocation (Ora pro nobis) constituted, to speak anachronistically, his canonisation.

12 October 2019

Newmanology and S Philip Neri

In his distractingly moving peroration to his Second Spring sermon - arguably the most superb piece of rhetoric to emerge from the nineteenth century - Blessed John Henry Newman talks about the habit of the English seminarians in Rome of going to S Philip Neri before returning to the perils of the English Mission, for his blessing. "They went for a Saint's blessing; they went to a calm old man who had never seen blood, except in penance; ... and therefore came those bright-haired strangers to him, ere they set out for the scene of their passion, that the full zeal and love pent up in that burning breast might find a vent, and flow over, from him who was kept at home, upon those who were to to face the foe. Therefore one by one, each in his turn, those youthful soldiers came to an old man; and one by one they they persevered and gained the crown and palm - all but one, who had not gone, and would not go, for the salutary blessing.

"My Fathers, my brothers, that old man was my own S Philip. Bear with me for his sake ...".

Who was the 'one who would not go'? Professor Tighe once suggested to me the name Anthony Tyrell ...

11 October 2019

Mary's YES to God: Annuntiata et CoRedemptrix

Today's lovely Feast of the Motherhood of the Theotokos has reminded me of the 2010 Ecumenical Walsingham Pilgrimage. A Methodist friend of mine, Prebendary Norman Wallwork, preached a most memorable sermon on our Lady as CoRedemptrix. Here is part of what Father Norman said:
"Mary is the recipient of the sword of sacrifice which pierces her being as she participates in the redemptive offering of Christ at Calvary. The Lukan prophecy of the sword - made by Simeon to Mary in the Temple - and the Johannine picture of the Mother of Jesus - at the foot of the Cross - are really two moments within a single event. Mary's YES to God that she would be the God-bearer was a YES that began in the joy of carrying the Christ child within her but ended as she gazed on her Son on the Cross. For the sacrifice that Mary began to offer in her fiat was a sacrifice she only completed at Calvary. Mary does not make a sacrifice independently of the work of her Son - her sacrifice is united to his. Within Christ's grand oblation of himself in his life and in his death for us all there is comjoined the sacrifice of his Mother. Neither could have been made without the other.

"At the heart of the Eucharist we particpate in the same sacrifice which Christ offers once and for ever. The Eucharistic sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving and the Eucharistic oblation of ourselves to the Father through the Son, in the Spirit, is a sacrifice we can only offer because it is conjoined to the one, true, pure and immortal and ever-prevailing sacrifice of Christ. At every Eucharist there is one sacrifice - Christ's and ours - and within that conjoined sacrifice is mingled the sacrifice of the one who knew - at Calvary - that her sacrifice was finished and accomplished as far as in her lay - as it is finished and accomplished by Christ as far as in him lay - and as it is finished and accomplished by us in this place on this day at this hour."

I feel the Wesleys would have applauded ... and so would S Gregory Palamas and S Bernard.

10 October 2019


I imagine many people, like myself, are preparing for the canonisation by rereading Fr Ker's biography of Blessed John Henry Newman, which deserves all the praise which Henry 'Patrimony' Chadwick heaped upon it in his review.

But many might find it a trifle long and daunting to read ab initio usque ad finem. The answer is: to dip and delve. I have recently reread the section on Newman, Infallibility, and Vatican I. As so often with Newman, it is striking how frequently his instincts coincide with those of Pope Benedict XVI. It has become a bit of a yawn-making commonplace to say that Newman's comments on Vatican I (how it needed to be 'balanced') prepare the way for Vatican II. Rather more interesting is the way in which his experience of living through the conciliar years of Vatican I increasingly reminded him of the embarassing historical fact that Councils - although a merciful God may protect them from the formal teaching of error - are commonly nasty, messy, and unpleasant phenomena. Joseph Ratzinger came to a very similar conclusion as a result of living through the conciliar years of Vatican II.

So I particularly commend Ker's account of Newman's attitude to this question (and perhaps also Dom Gregory Dix's masterly vindication of the decrees of Vatican I). Newman's quiet faith that the Holy Spirit would prevent the rabid ultramontanes from writing their absurdities into a conciliar decree; his satisfaction when he read the final text ("nothing has been passed of consequence") and realised that the ultras had been as comprehensively beaten as the Gallicans; his profound historical perspective: should reassure any open-minded enquirer. I was interested to be reminded of an often forgotten anxiety of Newman; that the Gallicans would succeed in extending the concept of the infallibility of the Church to matters far beyond Faith and Morals; and that the Ultramontanes would then attempt to secure a decree attributing such an inflated infallibility to the pope. Part of Newman's greatness was this: his unease at the activities of the Wards and the Mannings did not blind him to the even greater dangers looming on the Gallican side. (An unease about inflated versions of papal power is another feature common to Newman and Ratzinger.)

Off at a bit of a tangent here ... Not much is known this side of the water about a close Irish friend of Newman's: David Moriarty, Bishop of Kerry. A fascinating man; the British Government's favourite Irish bishop because of his fiece opposition to republican violence. He was, I believe, the only bishop who never actually formally subscribed the conciliar decrees on infallibility and primacy. He was responsible for Killarney Cathedral, one of Ireland's loveliest until an adulterous liberal bishop gutted it in the 1960s.

9 October 2019

Cor ad Cor loquitur

As Blessed John Henry related years later to Dr Pusey, on August 22 1845 [Pusey's birthday, Octave Day of the Assumption], Newman first "saw his way clear" to put a Miraculous Medal round his neck.

The phrase reminded me rather of how Archdeacon Manning, six years later, did not say his first Hail Mary until he had formally resigned his archdeaconry and walked across the bridge to say his prayers in Southwark Cathedral. Marian devotion seemed a dividing line in the sense that, however one's theological views might have developed, it somehow didn't seem right to do certain things while one was still 'eating the bread' of the Established Church.

August 22 was some weeks before that rainy evening when Newman threw himself at the feet of the dripping and steaming Fr Dominic Barberi and began his two-day long General Confession. Clearly, on that August day, Newman saw himself as having turned a corner. I wonder if it could be anything to do with the fact that (he was already familiar with the use of the Roman Breviary) he had just celebrated the Octave of the Assumption with its Marian readings at Mattins (rather more of them in the 1840s than in the circa1962 Breviary).

I have heard the fascinating suggestion that the Cor ad Cor loquitur of Newman's motto referred to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary as they appear together on the back of the Miraculous Medal.

Bonair and Buxom

Some friends and I were once chatting about the relationship between Dr Cranmer's Wedding Service and its antecedents. They had, in fact, arranged that their own wedding tok place according to the Prayer Book of 1549! I said that there was more continuity in this area than in most of his compositions; I here append the Sarum form of the wife's Plighting of the Troth, which of course is technically part of the Espousals which took place at the church door and were followed by the Nuptiae as everyone moved to the choir.

I N take thee N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to be bonair and buxum in bed and at the board; till death us depart, if Holy Church it will ordain, and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Isn't is lovely, the phrase I've highlighted, in its alliterative power?!?

According to the OED, bonair derives from the French debonnair, id est, de bonne aire, 'of good disposition, gentle, kind, complaisant, mild, gracious'. Buxum means 'bowsome, flexible, obedient, pliant, compliant', and has a parallel form in German (biegsam). The meaning moved on to 'blithe, jolly'; but only in the sixteenth century did the sense 'plump' become clear.

In Middle English, I gather, 'depart' was a transitive verb meaning 'part, separate'. I think it was in 1662 that it was deftly changed to 'do part' to keep up with the changes in the language.

I seem to remember that Recusant usage continued to use the Manuale Sarisburiense for Marriage.