22 July 2019

S Mary of Magdala

A post slightly updated from 2010.
What a rich and varied life S Mary Magdalen had, according to writers recent and ancient. An associate of the Apostle Junia in the kipper trade, she met our Lord while he was working as a healer, during his Year Out, in the spa at Tiberias. These things are certainties. And let us not question her well-documented presence leaning upon the Lord's breast at his Last Supper. Nor be doubting spoilsports if some latter-day equivalent of Chaucer's Pardoner announces that she possesses, enclosed in a rich reliquary, the genuine Wedding Certificate of Mary of Magdala, spinster of this parish, and Jesus of Nazareth. Rarely can a figure have attracted so rich a mythopoeia: the needs of medieval Provence for a Patron; of modern feminists for a female hyperapostolos; of conspiracy theorists for a Mrs Christ; all these are fulfilled in the Magdalen. Whoever was it who said that imaginative and fertile hagiography came to an end with the demise of the Middle Ages! It continues to fulfil our every need, however bizarre.

The Magdalen provides new certainties in Biblical Sudies, too. Back in the boring old days of Modern Scientific Biblical Criticism, when S John's Gospel was Late and Unhistorical, nobody would have bet a bent farthing on the historical veracity of the story about her meeting with Christ in Garden on Easter Morning. But now .... it would be more than anyone's life was worth to question the truth ... nay more, the centrality to the whole resurrection story ... to the entire Christian Gospel ... of that pericope*.

Personally, I feel we've lost a lot since the Western Church, guided by (what Louis Bouyer in his memoires called) Three Maniacs, followed Byzantium in distinguishing between Mary of Magdala - who is now as pure as the driven snow of August 5 - and the Sinful Woman. We now no longer have access to the attractive typology of Gueranger, who sees in the Sinner of Magdala a type of fallen humanity and of adulterous Israel, destined to become glorious in her repentance.

Hair and feet feature large in Dom Gueranger's entry for today; naturally he makes much of S Mary Magdalen's attachment to the feet of Jesus (he quotes S Paulinus of Nola "I would rather be bound up in her hair at the feet of Christ ..."). And he seems to suggest that S Cyril of Alexandria admired the beauty of the Magdalen's own apostolic feet. There is no doubt that the image of the reformed but still entrancing courtesan stirred up sensuous images in the minds of many ... and, of course, so many Western artists. And is there very much harm in that? Er ... except ...oh dear ... come think of it ... the stories are disturbingly heterosexualist ... in a generation's time, they will have to be banned as constructively homophobic ... ah, well, win some, lose some ... unless, of course, three New Maniacs can adapt them into a 'trans' narrative ... .


*Similarly, the one-time conviction of so many Experts, based upon negligible evidence, that the last two chapters of Romans are inauthentic, is rarely aired nowadays. You see, these chapters contain the Apostle Junia ... dump them, and she disappears too. And that would be intolerable.

21 July 2019

Brescia; Sancte Paule Sexte, ora pro nobis

While at Gardone, we took a trip to the local Cathedral City, the ancient Brixia. Good to look round; but, despite (local boy) Catullus's elusive poem 67, very little survives from the late Republic. Fairly good floors and walls from the Empire. I found an obscene graffito which amused me rather since it was in the form of a perfectly formed elegiac couplet. They clearly had literate graffiti-composers under the Divine Tiberius. How educational standards do deteriorate.

The newer of the two Cathedrals intrigues. Within it, a 'shrine' to S Paul VI 'Brixiensis'. It contains, apparently, neither relics of the Saint nor an altar. Speculation arose in our group about whether this latter fact was a piece of subtle symbolism indicating his desire to abolish the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I strongly disagreed, arguing that his condemnation of 'Transsignification' showed that at least his heart, or part of it, was in the right place. And the evidence (Bouyer inter alios) indicates that the the worst excesses of 'his' rite can be blamed on Hannibal's deceptions.

My own theory is that the Bishop of Brescia at the time of the beatification or canonisation was a secret sedevacantist who simply, and honourably, wished to prevent the offering of Mass at a 'shrtine' of one whom he considered to be a non-Saint. (I shall not enable comments which suggest that I am a conspiracy-theorist whose fantasies exceed even those of Bishop Richard Williamson.)

I had been told that the metal sewerage fittings in Brescia all bore the name Montini, but I carelessly forgot to check this out. Could they be classified at tertiary relics? Ought they to be formally venerated?

20 July 2019

Gardone Riviera

Home again, tired but happy after the Roman Forum Conference high up overlooking Lake Garda. (Incidentally, I have just been through comments offered while I was not reading in-coming mail, and I have enabled most of them).

Once again, the food was as splendid as the wine and the fellowship, and papers read, even more splendid than both.

These Conferences truly are focussed coalitions of the joyously broad spectrum within orthodox Catholicism. Clergy were present from the Society, the Ordinariates, and the Fraternity; and there were laity present attached to all these bodies and also to the Institute. As well, of course, as clergy and laity, young and old, from a wide variety of parishes. An Akathistos was celebrared by a priest biritual in the the Byzantine and classical Roman traditions. Professor de Mattei delivered a finely pointed lecture; Dr Eva with her splendid Gloria TV team was there; and Diane Montagna.

Trendy young people talk about "safe spaces". The Gardone Conferences provide safe spaces where orthodox Catholics can be safe together and can renew their fellowship without being jumped on by heterodox elephants.

We need more of this sort of thing. Long may these superb events continue!!

More later.

19 July 2019

Learn it by heart?

Recently, my mind went back to S Stephen's House ... Norham Road ... Fr Derek Allen ... and Mass Practices before my Deaconing in 1967; you will remember that I was in the very last fortunate generation to be taught the Tridentine ceremonial culture before the Iron Curtain of Rupture came thudding down and the lights went out all over Europe.

I recalled how we were required to learn certain things off by heart. These fell into two categories: silent Tridentine formulae which accompanied actions ... principally, the prayers during the Offertory (those Tridentine Offertory Prayers which have now so happily been restored in the Anglican Use). And Anglican formulae which were to be said turning from the Altar to face the People. Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins ... Hear what comfortable words ...

But I have no recollection of being asked to learn the Praeparatio at the foot of the altar ... Ah! Of course not! Judica me Deus/Give sentence with me O God was abolished in 1965. Even Archbishop Lefebvre didn't revert to its use until 1974.

I wonder what others, as long in the Sacred Priesthood as I am or longer, can remember about their own pre-Bugnini Mass Practices, on whichever side of the Tiber they received their training. This is Oral History, Fathers, which will be lost as soon as you ... er ... that is to say, share it now!

18 July 2019


"Remedies spring up naturally in the Church, as in nature, if we wait for them."

17 July 2019

Homer's Iliad Book VI and S Ambrose: Episode 3

Finally, I will succumb to your impatience and move on to S Ambrose!

I invite you to apply the cultural analyses I have drawn from Homer to S  Ambrose's Book 2 in Lucam. Here are a few extracts.

The Angel went in to [Mary]. Learn that she was a virgin by her way of life; learn it by her modesty; learn it by the Angel's word; learn it by the Mystery. It is the characteristic of virgins to tremble, and to be afraid whenever a man enters; to fear every utterance of a man. Women should learn to imitate the resolve of her chastity. Alone in the innermost parts of the house, so that no man might see her, that only the Angel should find her; alone, without comrade, without a witness, lest she be corrupted by any ignoble address, she receives the greeting of the Angel ... 

... When Mary heard this, not as if unbelieving concerning his words, nor uncertain about his news nor doubtful about his example, but joyful for prayer, religious for duty, hasty for joy, she went to the hill-country. For, indeed, being now full of God, where should she go with haste except to the higher places? ... Mary, who previously lived alone in the most private recesses, was not delayed by the modesty of virginity from going out into the public realm, nor did the harshness of the mountains keep her from keenness, nor the difficulty of the journey from her duty ... Virgins: learn not to run around (circumcursare) other peoples' houses, not to hang around in the streets, not to gossip together in public. Mary was late leaving her home, but speedy once she was in public, and stayed with her cousin for three months.

Presumably, the habits S Ambrose castigates did exist, or he would not have wasted his time criticising them. It is the assumptions he can share with his hearers about what constitutes modest and decent behaviour that I wish to highlight.

Our society has lost, it seems to me, the entire concept of female modesty. This has been replaced by the bizarre notion that women can dress themselves and conduct themselves as shamelessly as they please and as publicly as they desire, but that a man who is misled into drawing inept conclusions from this is self-condemned.

I do not think our Christian forebears or the Greeks for whom Homer wrote or the Italian congregations to whom S Ambrose preached would have had any doubt that our society has been driven completely and incomprehensibly insane ... barking mad. To our shame, our Islamic neighbours are more likely to understand Christian and pagan antiquity, Homer and S Ambrose, than we are.

We are the strangers, the crazy misfits, the arrogant out-of-place tourists who plant our inappropriate and unwelcome feet in every other country, in every other culture, on every other age of history.

And we are so  pleased with ourselves.

16 July 2019


No; Hector does not accept Helen's transgressive invitation to join her in the thalamos. You knew he wouldn't. Before returning to the battle, he goes back to his own house. But Andromache is not there. Standing ep'oudon, on the threshold, he demands an answer from the housewomen: "C'mon! Tell me the truth". He wonders if she has gone to visit her sisters-in-law, or to the Temple of Athene, with all the other well-haired (would our Holy Father have described them as capillary?) women, to propitiate the goddess (in fact, she had gone, with chaperon and child, to a vantage point to watch the battle).

Observe that Hector, apparently, does not go beyond the threshold of even his own home. And notice that he is surprised that his wife is not where a wife might normatively be expected to be: at home. And don't let it elude you how few are the alternative possibilities which Hector, rather hectoringly, offers. To an extent which it is difficult for us to appropriate, pre-modern societies had very definite assumptions about this sort of thing. Even in the twentieth century, women would not visit the billiards room in a gentleman's house. There was no rule; no notice on the door; it was simply assumed that women didn't go there. And I don't think it was expected that men would galumph at all hours around the Morning Room. In Rebecca the belle anonyme gets it wrong by trying to enter her own bedroom at the time when the maids expect to have it to themselves to get it straight, after the butler has made it clear that it is very unexpected that she might wish to be in the library.

Ethnosociologists have written fascinating articles about the customs of instinctive, customary, gender segregation that still exist in traditional Middle Eastern societies. There are times when no man would dream of going near the village fountain because that is when the women go there to collect water and to do their business there with each other ... We need to grasp how totally exceptional is our Western assumption that men and women just wander anywhere and mix with anybody at any time.  For that matter, it is still as a general rule true, in my local Orthodox Church, that men are on the right and women are on the left. The custom survived into mid-twentieth century Ireland. We've moved a long way, fast, so as to reach the situation in which, not long ago, in an English university, a major row could erupt when, exceptionally, it was proposed to have segregated seating in a lecture-room to accommodate the unusual preferences of a visiting lecturer.

I find it frankly frightening how readily we assume that our own habits, different, I suspect, from those of every other known culture, are a norm to which others ought to conform or to be forced to conform. I'm not suggesting starting a great campaign to return to pre-modern habits; I haven't lost all touch with reality. I'm simply suggesting that, since we are the cosmic Odd Men Out, we ought to let just the tiniest smidgeon of humility enter our treatment of others. But I know even that is a lost cause: so arrogant have we become. We are the big global cultural bullies who know exactly how everybody else should behave, from Saragossa all the way to Sarawak.

The third and final Episode will bring us up to S Ambrose.

15 July 2019


In the Iliad, the epic account of the Wrath of Achilles during the Trojan War, there is a thought-provoking vignette juxtaposing Hector and Andromache, and Paris and Helen. The latter pair are corrupt adulterers whose passion has precipitated the War. We must remember that, in Classical Literature, sexual passion is regarded as a wound or madness which leads to disaster; the Romantic superstition that sexual incontinence is "love" and that it justifies any and every wrong deed, had not yet been invented.

Hector his brother, on the other hand, is a brave man who fights for his country; and Andromache is a faithful and devoted wife and mother.

Paris was defeated in a single duel with Helen's lawful husband, Menelaus, but rescued from death by - needless to say - his patroness Aphrodite, goddess of sexual passion. She miraculously transfers him to his fragrant bedchamber and then scoops up Helen to join him in bed. Meanwhile, the slaughter continues.

In Book 6, we find Hector deciding to urge Paris back to the battlefield. He approaches Paris's house, which consists of thalamos, doma, and aule, defined respectively by the Scholiast [ancient commentator] as bridal chamber, men's quarters,and 'outside'. Still fully equipped in his armour, Hector enters (eiselthe) ... but how far does he go inside?

We shall return to this.

He finds Paris in the thalamos with Helen and the handmaids, to whom she is assigning their tasks. Paris is sitting there stroking his superb display armour (I was tempted to translate: fiddling with his tackle). To his brother's remonstrances, Paris replies that he had been feeling rather depressed, but that Helen had been wheedling him malakois epeesin to return to the battle. The Scholiast helpfully reminds us here that Paris is gunaimanes, 'womancrazed'.

Helen now adresses her brother-in-law Hector. She apologises for being an abominable bitch who would have been better not to have been born, and adds some derogatory remarks about her husband ... and starts trying to persuade Hector to 'come in' and sit beside her on this nice little chair.

But is Hector not already 'in'? I think not; and the Scholiast agrees with me. He explains that Hector had so far only entered 'in' as far as the aule. In other words, he had been standing on the threshold of the thalamos. Now she desires him to go in and sit down.

What we need to know here is that in pre-modern societies there were rigid and prescriptive assumptions about where each sex went and did not go. Except when retitring at night, you would not normally expect a man to spend daylight hours in the thalamos with his wife and the womenfolk. That Paris was doing so reflects enormous discredit upon him. And now Helen is inviting Hector to join in this discreditable behaviour.

Does Hector go in and cosy up to his sex-bomb sister-in-law? Episode 2 ...

14 July 2019

Aurea Aetas Clericorum

Walking some time ago in the Sussex countryside, we came across a memorial tablet in Bignor Church to a former Rector, Thomas Sefton. It revealed that he lived his life omnibus Iacobi optimis et Caroli annis, pace nondum laesa, and went on to describe those best years of James VI and I, and of blessed Charles Stuart, as the Golden Age of the Clergy. Not a trillion miles from the truth: King James made clear that the only problem he had with a Papacy was if it claimed power to depose monarchs; and, in the 1630s, the Bishop of Chichester, Richard Montagu (a patristic scholar and formerly Vicar of Petworth), assured the Nuncio that he was a papalist.

The old description came back to me of the Diocese of Chichester as the golden Indian Summer of the Church of England. However, I was brought back to earth the following day by looking at the service list in Chichester Cathedral and realising that most of the communion services there are presided over by a woman minister. "The vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of Peter, the grace of the Redeemer, left it", to quote S John Henry. We got out only just in time, didn't we? Right at the very last possible moment, when the gubernator Petrinus had guided his barque non sine periculo so close to our sinking ship that we were able to step from one deck to the other, our suitcases in our hands, without even getting our feet wet. What a gentle, generous, holy and humble old man Benedict XVI is. God bless him, always.

The memorial in Bignor Church went on with its curriculum vitae: Parson Sefton was a Lancastrian, mammas dein suxit Aeneanasenses. Words of comment, worthy of this spectacular and untranslatable literary trope, entirely fail me!

Two of Sefton's sons went abroad during the Great Rebellion; the third lari litans, O felix fatum, tranquillus moritur senex agricola. That last sentence could almost have been written by Q Horatius Flaccus, couldn't it? Clearly there were porci de grege Epicuri alive and well in the 1630s in the wooded dells of the Sussex Weald.

13 July 2019

The Curia Romana (3)

It is against the background I have tried to sketch out that I find myself wondering about the attitude of the present pope towards the Curia. Of course, like every institution insecurely placed in Time, it needs to be reformed from time to time. The question that worries me is whether the present pope is drawing the Curia closer in fidelity to its true ecclesial calling; or pushing it further away.

Commentators have not been slow to remark that, to the outside observer, it looks as if the current pope is attempting to prevent or eliminate the existence of strong foci within the Curia. He seems to be incapable of working with any Head of Dicastery who is not a yes-man. It is a sign, not of the Holy Father's strength, but of his weakness, that he cannot collaborate with as gentle yet principled a man as Robert Sarah, without deeming it necessary to humiliate him before the world. And Sarah was one of his own appointments.

And he aso appointed Raymond Burke to be Patron of the Order of Malta. But as soon as a problem arose in the Order, he humiliated and sidelined him. When you appoint people, you should either back them up when the going gets rough, or confess that you yourself erred in making the appointment.

Gerhard Mueller was inherited, not appointed, by Papa Bergoglio. But he confirmed him in office, and the position is a highly significant one. The current pope is neither learned nor intelligent. To run the CDF he needed someone who was each of these things. Mueller was and is. First he humiliated him by sending Schoenborn to front the Amoris laetitia news conference; then by sacking three of his collaborators without even telling him; lastly, he has humiliated him yet again by dumping him with a minute's notice and invoking a principle he had not mentioned either to Mueller or the World before: that Heads of Dicasteries will not be continued in post beyond their first quinquennium.

(Incidentally, it will be interesting to see whether this principle really does get applied as all the Cardinals come to the ends of their terms. The Franciscans of the Immaculate must be puzzled to find that their tormenter Bras de Aviz is still around. Cardinal Parolin must be starting to get demob-happy. There are going to be quite a lot of underemployed 'young' cardinals swilling around, with the Vatican Press Corps hovering hungrily above them like seagulls round a trawler.)

If the Curia really is in want of radical reform, what it needs is more strong and principled and able workers and fewer unprincipled yes-men. The Press reports suggest that this is not the way our Holy Father appears to see things. But his idiosyncrasies have been obvious since his election. For the first few years he made a daily exhibition of himself by that constant stream of obscure abuse ... butterflies, pelagians ... which seemed to be directed at clergy. He is the pope who considers that a most natural Christmas present to give his curial collaborators is a torrent of invective. He sneers at grandmothers for their infertility and describes off-message journalists as shit-eaters. Given a world so sadly unappreciative of eccentricity, in most other organisations this side of North Korea the Men in White Coats would have been sent in to hustle such a CEO out of public view.

The commentators seem to think that Archbishop Ladaria, in his new chair at the CDF, is unlikely to put up much resistance to Bergoglian tantrums. They may very well be very wrong. I pray they are; because the Archbishop has some very precious institutions under his protection: the Ordinariates and Ecclesia Dei. 

But we can be sure of one thing: if Ladaria does turn out to have both principles and guts, Pope Francis, if this pontificate continues along its established lines, will either humiliate him or sack him or both.

12 July 2019

The Curia Romana (2)

It is well-known that in the early centuries of the Church, the Bishop was the Sacramental centre of his Particular Church, and its Teacher who, assisted by the Holy Spirit, preserved and articulated the authentic teaching which that Church had received. But it seems that the presbyterium was the administrative body, the committee which took decisions, the body of men to whom the bishop turned for their consent before he even felt free to absolve a penitent or ordain a subdeacon. And this seems to have been very true in Rome. There are historians who believe that the Roman Church was, for centuries, governed by its presbyters and entirely lacked a 'monarchical Bishop'. I do not believe this theory, but the evidence upon which it is based does indicate the significance of the Roman presbyters. When a letter had to be sent to Corinth to sort out the disorders in the Church there, the earliest document we have of the exercise of a disciplinary Primacy by Rome, it was not sent in the name of the Bishop. Indeed, it has been argued that S Clement was not so much the Bishop/Pope, but just the presbyter in charge of correspondence! Again, I do not accept this, but, again, the fact that such an argument has been deployed does indicate the significance of the Presbyteratus Romanus. A little later, we have the account by Pope Cornelius of how a previous pope had begged for the favour of being allowed to ordain a particular presbyter who had been vetoed by the clergy and many of the laity; and Tertullian's (imaginative and scathing) account of Pope Callistus imploring the consent of the fraternitas to be allowed to absolve an adulterer. The Church of those centuries saw itself as corporate in a way that we find hard to imagine. Take the earliest letter to the Roman Church after S Paul's letter, the letter of S Ignatius: it does not actually mention a bishop; it is the Church which is said to preside (Kathemene). Nor does the passage in S Irenaeus which is our earliest evidence for the idea of the Roman Church as the locus par excellence of authentic doctrinal teaching contra haereses, locate that role specifically in the Pope, but in the Church. It all amounts, of course, to the precisely same thing; if Rome teaches authentic doctrine, and if its bishop is the ecclesiatical organ which enunciates that authentic teaching of the Roman Church ... well, Bob's your uncle. But these facts do bring me back to my initial point: Jorge Bergoglio is nothing; the Bishop of Rome is everything. Papa Bergoglio is Episcopus Romanus in et cum Ecclesia Romana. He is not a vagans.

My conclusion is the same as it was at the end of my first part. The Curia Romana is a body of theological significance. If I wished, in the time-honoured style of this University, to set a spoof quotation as an essay question, "Papa sine Curia Papa nullus: discuss" might occur to me ... and I would give deltas to those who argued in favour of or against the tag ... and better marks to those who subdivided their propositions and came out somewhere in the middle.
To be concluded.

11 July 2019

The Curia Romana (1)

Since rumours abound about a planned 'reform' of the Roman Cuioa, I am reprinting three old blogposts on this subect. My motive is this. If I wait until the document is signed and promulgated, suspicious individuals might feel that I am just reacting automatically by opposing every 'reform' that springs fully-formed from the Head of PF.

Jorge Bergoglio has no Magisterial authority whatsoever. The Bishop of Rome does. But, of course, Jorge Bergoglio is Bishop of Rome; and so, qua Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis possesses the very considerable authority defined dogmatically by the First Vatican Council and expressed legally in the two Codices Iuris Canonici. Being Bishop of Rome is what counts. And being Bishop of Rome, like being Bishop of Anywhere, means being Bishop of Somewhere. And being Bishop of Somewhere means being Bishop of certain people ... of certain living and breathing Christian humans.

What is "a Bishop"? There is a (largely Anglophone) ecclesiastical underworld populated by what are often called "Episcopi vagantes", "Wandering Bishops". These are persons who have privately secured for themselves technically 'valid' episcopal orders. Many people suspect that their motive for doing this has been personal vanity, because these are 'bishops' who are not surrounded by the serried and serious ranks of their presbyterium, nor ministered to ad altare by their cheerful bustling Deacons, and who lack the boisterous, sometimes disorderly, mob of 'their' Laity, laos. And they are not, these Episcopi vagantes, in peace and communion with the Apostolic, or indeed with any other, See. Far from it.

Per contra, in Catholic (and Orthodox) ecclesiology, a Bishop is a man who discharges the functions of the high Episcopal office in the context of the structured Church life of People, Deacons, and Presbyters. A gathering of Christians so structured is known as a "Particular Church". Like any other Diocesan Bishop, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is a Bishop with a Presbyterium, a Diakonia, a Laos. He is not a lonely isolated individual with technically valid orders and a technically valid Electio in Summum Pontificem tucked into his back pocket. He is not, that is to say, a Papa vagans. With his usual acuity, Blessed John Henry Newman argued, in the case of some early popes who showed signs of doctrinal wobble, that, since this happened after they had been beaten up in Byzantine prisons, it had no bearing on the Papal Office, since they were acting as individuals in physical and moral isolation from their Ecclesia.

In the Particular, local Church of Rome, the "Cardinal Presbyters" are the Pope's presbyterium, which is why they have "titular" churches assigned to them of which they are the titular parish priests. Mutatis mutandis, the Cardinal Deacons. You will see where this is leading. The 'Cardinalate', if that is the right word, is not without theological significance. It is part of the organic structure of the very important Particular (i.e.local) Church of which the Successor of S Peter is the Bishop. This is seen most easily and most visibly in the persons of the curial Cardinals who permanently work in Rome. But it applies also to the other Cardinals throughout the world, who qua Roman Presbyters have their titular churches and are distributed among the boards of the Roman dicasteries. The Cardinal Archbishop of Timbuctoo wears red and is addressed as 'Eminence' not because he is the important local 'Primate' of a big 'National Church', but because he is Cardinal Presbyter of the Titular Church of SS Promiscuus and Miscellaneus*, which, until the Risorgimento, the Pontiff used to visit for the Stational Mass on February 31.

There has sometimes been a tendency, which I very strongly condemn, to want to separate the notion of the Pope from that of the Curia. The Pope, it is sometimes said, is the Pope and has his highly significant dogmatically based prerogatives which we can't really avoid fessing up to because they were dogmatically defined at Vatican I. But the Curia ... that is nothing more than a civil service, and a rather unattractive one to boot ( ... er ... ). Not only is it without doctrinal significance, but its members get in the way; they behave in a bossy fashion in their dealings with the Churches throughout the world. Perhaps they should be cut down. Perhaps they should be put in their place. Might we not be happier without them? Liberal journalists are programmed to cheer any pope whose sycophants put it about that he intends to savage the Curia.

In my view, this is not merely humanly unfair but is also extremely flawed theologically. It is a direct assault upon that structure, the structure of the Particular local Church of Rome, within which the Supreme Pontiff necessarily discharges his unique and indispensible role. It is a solvent which, because it seeks to split off the Pope from the structures of his Particular local Church, has the potential to leave the Roman Pontiff as a lonely and decontextualised figure; in effect, a very powerful Episcopus vagans. And that sounds to me very much like saying 'a theologically dubious Absolute Monarch'.
To be continued.
*I owe this intriguing duo, and their Feast Day (a semidouble), to the fertile imagination of the late Rt Revd Mgr Ronald Arbuthnott Knox, Protonotary Apostolic and Master of Arts (Oxon.). 

10 July 2019

Definition and Dogma

When, in 1950, Papa Pacelli defined the dogma of the Corporeal Assumption of the Mother of God, the formula with which he did so very carefully avoided saying either that she died before her Assumption, or that she did not die (expletu terrestris vitae cursu). This definition had the practical effect of eliminating from the devotional life of Catholics much of the 'apocryphal' narrative which, in both the East and the West, had surrounded the Eschaton of the Theotokos. Prayers which are found in earlier Western liturgies (e.g. festivitas ...in qua dei genetrix mortem subiit temporalem ...) became unusable; many iconographic representations became problematic; tropes, such as that of S Gregory Palamas, explaining to prepon that she had to die to be like her Son, while by no means excluded as pious opinions, became beliefs which it was impossible to describe as the Teaching of the Church. In effect, far from being a novel imposition, the doctrine proclaimed in 1950 constituted the elimination of 95% of what had previously been taught or believed. What was left was but an austere and minimalist doctrinal skeleton of the rich narrative tapestries which nourished Christians from Ireland to India before the Definition.

The root within the verb/noun definire/definitio is -fin-, meaning a boundary. To define a proposition is thus to place boundaries round it, to limit it. While, therefore, a definition may make an additional claim upon the consciences of some, upon others it is likely to have the quite opposite effect. Foliage surrounding the defined doctrinal core has, in effect, been scythed away.

In 1870, the Decree Pastor aeternus did, I would have to concede, impose an additional claim upon 'Gallicans' and 'Conciliarists': they were obliged to believe that the Roman Pontiff ex cathedra was infallible. But he was only described as infallible in matters of Faith and Morals. That is limiting. The Council admirably discerned and even boasted that it was narrowing the notion of Infallibility which Catholics were free to accept before the Council. Neque enim Petri successoribus Sanctus Spiritus promissus est ut eo revelante novam doctrinam patefacerent, sed ut, eo assistente, traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum sancte custodirent et fideliter exponerent.

As we prepare to have a Bean Feast ... or do I mean a Bun Fight ... to celebrate the canonisation of Saint John Henry Newman, we might revisit the vexing question of the exact binding force of a canonisation.

Theologians had for centuries discussed the possession by the Roman Bishop of an infallible magisterium. But they had not conducted that discussion within the tight boundaries of the 1870 Definition. If a theologian writing BEFORE 1870 asserted that X had been infallibly taught, you cannot fairly claim that he asserted X to have been infallibly taught in THAT sense of Infallibility which was only to be defined in 1870. He may be thinking in broader, or narrower, categories than those of Pastor aeternus.

Thus, when writers of the eighteenth or earlier centuries argue that Canonisations are infallible, they are not claiming that a canonisation concerns Faith or Morals and that it is part of the Revelation handed on by the Apostles ... for rather obvious reasons: if the Saint lived in the sixteenth century, their sanctity can clearly not be part of that immutable body of truth which was taught and believed also in the fifth and fifteenth centuries; and Saint So-and-so did not exist within the depositum which the Apostles tradiderunt.

I share the view of Benedict XIV, writing as a private doctor, that questioning a canonisation is temerarious. Nor do I deny the propriety of any use of the I-word with regard to canonisations. But it seems to me clear that a canonisation cannot claim that infallibility, that binding force, which the Decree Pastor aeternus of 1870 attributes to the Roman Pontiff when speaking ex cathedra.

I have returned to this question because the current, apparently politically motivated, frenzy for canonising recent Bishops of Rome may have tainted for many the very concept of canonisation ... may have rubbed off it some of the gloss. How can we enjoy the oncoming event with proper exuberance when the currency of canonisation has been so devalued, so reduced to a political formality?

I have no problems. Since Saint John Henry taught a great deal which is directly in opposition to the attitudes of the current pontificate, his canonisation cannot be seen as a political act intended to subvert the Great Tradition.

On the contrary.

I regard it as a triumph of divine Grace in the midst of the dark clouds of this pontificate; as a sudden bright burst of sunlit glory piercing the clouds and giving us a certain pledge of the ultimate triumph of orthodoxy!

Deo gratias!

9 July 2019

Read Ker

I read somewhere that a layman, said to be a buddy of some of the English Bishops, had claimed that for Blessed John Henry to be canonised by PF was highly suitable, because JHN was opposed to papal Infallibility, while PF often admits that he is wrong.

I can think of few suggestions more childishly perverse. JHN was most certainly not opposed to the dogma of papal infallibilty. Indeed, the claim itself demonstrates a woeful lack of appreciation of a brilliant, subtle, and nuanced mind.

Nor is PF famous for admitting his errors. Try asking the unfortunates whom he has viciously attacked and continues to lacerate.

I am afraid that we are going to get more of this: as we approach the canonisation, Begoglians, illiterates, and other life-forms will crawl out of the woodwork, claiming to instruct us on the teaching, and the significance, of this great Saint. How irritating. I suggest that readers who have not already done so should educate themselves by reading Dr Ker's biography of JHN in the 'Oxford Lives' series.

A thoughtful friend is uneasy about the canonisation because, she feels, for JHN to be canonised by such a pope runs the risk of bracketing JHN with some dodgy individuals canonised by this pope. I do see her point.

But apart from the clearly identifiable disorder of canonising 'the conciliar popes' as a crude piece of highly unedifying church politics, most canonisations have been of individuals who were already moving comfortably through the pipeline. Although the Bishop of Rome does the final formalities, I believe we should look upon canonisation as an act of the Church.

In order to give expression to this conviction, I shall in future refer to JHN as "S John Henry", even before October!

8 July 2019

Rosica lives

Readers will recall the splendid exposition of Bergoglianity given by Fr Thomas Rosica (some months before he felt that the disgrace of plagiarism merited early retirement).

"Our Church ... is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture".

PF himself recently reaffirmed the accuracy of Rosica's analysis. He gave away some relics of S Peter.

In doing so, he explained that he himself no longer said Mass in the chapel in which they were kept. He could easily, of course, have moved them to the chapel in Santa Marta, where he does often say Mass. So the message clearly is that PF sets little value on saying Mass before the relics of the Apostle whose Successor he is.

That is, he does not value the symbolism of demonstrating liturgically his daily adherence to Apostolic Tradition.

I am surprised that the Orthodox recipients of this gift see it as a move towards Unity. The policy of this pontificate, of setting aside Holy Tradition, would, you might have thought, put thoughtful Orthodox off the idea of Unity. Aren't they supposed to be quite keen on Tradition? And a bit less keen on having the Church ruled by an arbitrary individual?

And if PF had any genuinely political sense, he might have wondered what the occupant of the other Petrine See, Antioch, would think of this prioritising of the 'Andrean' See. And he might have suspected, given the current schism between Constantinople and Moskow, that the Third Rome might see his action as a taking of sides with the patriarch whom Moskow accuses of the heresy of papism. Giving Bartholomew relics of S Peter is hardly going to diminish the temptation to 'papism' of the Church of Constantinople, is it? Or am I missing something?

I wonder how widely and prudently PF consulted before taking this decision.

7 July 2019


Deo volente, after today I shall be at the Lake Garda Roman Forum Conference for a fortnight. I hope to post every day, but I shall not be dealing with (or even reading) incoming Emails and Comments. Until I am back home.

Last time I put up a notice like this one, I came back to find a highly irascible comment from somebody who obvious does not read Notices. He was furious that I had "decided to ignore" a comment he had submitted.

I know that readers are under no canonical obligation to read everything I write, or to remember what I put in a Notice; but neither am I under any obligation to take any notice of their communications.


Tastes differ, but I greatly relish getting back to these delicious Sundays after Trinity, in green vestments, with their exquisitely simple yet compact Collects from the old Roman Sacramentaries, penned by pontiffs going back to S Leo. Today, we have Deprecationem nostram , quaesumus, Domine, benignus exaudi: et quibus supplicandi praestas affectum; tribue defensionis auilium. Or, as Archbishop Cranmer rendered it, Lorde, we beseche thee mercifully to heare us, and unto whom thou hast geven an heartie desyre to pray; graunt that by thy mightie ayde we may be defended. (Later meddlers filled it out by adding and comforted in all dangers and adversities.)

But you are puzzled. That is not the Collect you heard at your EF Mass this morning! No; because  there are dislocations in the Masses of these Sundays, between the Southern European propers found in the Missal of S Pius V and the Northern European propers found, for example, in the English Missals of the Sarum, Hereford, and York 'Uses' and still preserved, with only very minor changes, in the Book of Common Prayer.

Furthermore, the old Mass for the first Sunday after Pentecost is appointed in the Use of S Pius V to be used on weekdays after Trinity Sunday, while the English Uses transferred that Mass to the following Sunday. Hence dislocations: the EF and the BCP have the same Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, but distributed over different Sundays. And today's Collect, absent from the post Pentecosten Masses (but used elsewhere by S Pius) creates an additional factor of complication.

Because of the proximity of the Solemnity of SS Peter and Paul, in the Sarum and similar Uses, a reading from I Peter is paired on Trinity 5 with the Gospel about the Lord teaching from Simon's boat. This sort of connectivity between Temporale and Sanctorale used to be more common.

6 July 2019

More about County Kerry

You will recognise this poetic voice:
There in pinnacled protecton,/ One extinguished family waits/ A Church of Ireland resurrection/ By the broken, rusty gates./ Sheepswool, straw and droppings cover,/ Graves of spinster, rake and lover, / Whose fantastic mausoleum/ Sings its own seablown Te Deum, /In and out the slipping slates.

The old and ruined Church of Ireland Church at Knightstown in County Kerry is a little bit like that. When we used to spend our Summer Vacations there, I sometimes passed the time of day with Sir Adrian Fitzgerald, who would be vigorously cutting back the rampant vegetation threatening to cover the graves of his forebears. Because this church was just up the road from Glanleam, the one-time estate of the Fitzgerald Hereditary Knights of Kerry. Sir Adrian no longer owned the property, but had retained ownership of a cottage on the shore of the bay.

The newer Anglican Church down in Knightstown retained the Prayer Books previously used in the Family pew, with 'Glanleam' in gold on the covers. Not that Sir Adrian worshipped there; because he had become a Catholic.

Indeed, he is now Patron of the Latin Mass Society.

Some readers may be surprised by the phrase "Hereditary Knights". Certainly, such beings do not exist in England; but there survives one such family in the West of Ireland. In the reign of Victoria, an attempt was made to bring them to heel by giving them baronetcies, which assured to them the style 'Sir' without accepting that Knighthood really could be hereditary.

I do not, of course, spend my summers now sustaining the Church of Ireland. But I did meet Sir Adrian again a couple of years ago, when I was being splendidly entertained (by a member of the Irish bar who also belongs to Fr Gerald Deighan's congregation in Harrington Street) in a distinctly stylish club on St Stephen's Green.

Sir Adrian was one member of a group of gentlemen who arrived when we were getting ourselves round our main courses. They were members of the once-sovereign Military Order of Malta. One of them recognised me and cheerfully suggested that the Ordinariate was moving into Ireland.

I wish it were ... just as I wish that the Knights were still Sovereign ...

5 July 2019

Meadowsweet and the Irish Ritual Canons

We went strolling the other day in our adjacent meadow to enjoy the orchids, now at their best, and in the (successful) hope of finding Marbled White butterflies. But also, one of my favourite flowers is just coming on stream: Meadowsweet.

During the happy decades when I did annual summer duty in the Dromod Union of the Church of Ireland in County Kerry, the then Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh, and  Emly, with his wife Patricia (eight Sees but only one Wife), used to motor across for one of the Sundays I was there. On (I think) our second Kerry summer, I greeted Bishop Ned with the news that I was breaching the Ritual Canons of the Church of Ireland. I must explain to you that one of these forbids that incense or "any substitution therefor, or imitation thereof, shall at any time be used in any church or chapel, or other place in which the public services of the Church are celebrated". The Pontiff looked a trifle anxious, until we entered the Church and he realised that I had in mind the vases full of Meadowsweet on the windowsills. Who needs arcane and incendiary Oriental spices when there is Meadowsweet?

He had initially, I rather think, regarded me with possibly just a tadge of reserve. But not hereafter.

He taught me some pieces of priestcraft which, unaccountably, my Staggers training had omitted. For example: the way of compressing and cutting leavened bread so that it can be administered sacramentally without risk of crumbs. And how to give the Blessing in the Irish language. He shared with me the information, which had clearly struck him, that in the Devon Anglican parish where one of his children lived, the full Roman Rite was in use. He mentioned this as something interesting, perhaps even surprising, but not outrageous.

I hope he and Patricia are enjoying his retirement. I found him a kindly, highly intelligent, and quietly sociable Bishop, who knew his people and was liked by them. A Corkman by descent, perhaps he had picked up the gracious ethos of traditional Anglican ministry from his many clerical ancestors!

4 July 2019

Lavington Churchyard

A few days in Sussex gave us the opportunity of walking to Lavington Church to visit Caroline (nee) Sargent's grave. I hadn't been there since the mid-1950s, and we had trouble rediscovering it ... you know how hard inscriptions can be to read when lichen has superimposed its own arabesques upon the lettering. Eventually we found it, under a shady wall, right under the steep and sunless wooded North incline of the Downs. I had to kneel down to trace the inscription with my fingers, my knees crunching in the beechmast. Her husband is not buried beside her.

They were married in 1833 in the nearby church by her brother-in-law Soapy Sam, later bishop of Oxford and then of Winchester, who was to earn eternal detestation among prim and humourless people by getting a cheap laugh at Darwin's expense. Four years later, childless, she died of consumption. Had she lived, might she have been the wife of an Archbishop of Canterbury? I have lost count of the number of bishops, not to mention the mere parsons, in her family connections.

Her husband succeeded her father, whose curate he had been, as Rector of Lavington and Graffham. He left behind him diverting accounts of his peasant parishioners, in which the summaries, if critical, ex. gr. 'addictus inebrietati', 'familia malo et ignaviae addicta', are in Latin or Greek. "The morning and evening prayers and the music of the English Bible for 17 years became part of my soul. If there were no eternal world, I could have made it my home".

A friend described his deathbed, nearly sixty years after the marriage: "I was by his bedside; he looked around to see that we were alone: he fumbled under his pillow for something; he drew out a battered little pocket-book full of a woman's fine handwriting. He said 'For years you have been a son to me, Henry; I know not to whom else to leave this - I leave it to you. In this little book my dearest wife wrote her prayers and meditations. Not a day has passed since her death, on which I have not prayed and meditated from this book. All the good I may have done, all the good I may have been, I owe to her. Take precious care of it'. He ceased speaking and soon afterwards unconsciousness came on".

You will remember the edifying accounts of how, when the body of S Thomas More was prepared for burial, under his outer finery was discovered a hair shirt. But on this occasion what they found on this corpse was a small locket, containing the portrait of his 'dearest wife' Caroline.

I hope they had the decency to leave that locket where they found it, round his neck, beneath the pallium. I like to feel, as I approach the Byzantine edifice to which they moved his body, that, under all the haughty marble assertion, beneath the dangling red hat, there lies a tiny picture of the very devout and pretty girl who was the daughter of a squarson and the wife of his curate and who lies in spe beatae resurrectionis under the beechmast in Lavington churchyard.

3 July 2019


Since PF is reported to have enjoyed Mgr Benson's apocalyptic novel Lord of the World, I thought I had better read it ... truth to tell, His Holiness's ideology and strategy still leave me in a state of some incomprehension; if anything is going to help me, I thought, to acquire the key to his mind, perhaps this volume might; and so I ought to give it a try.

I don't know that it has helped. PF does quite often mention the Devil, and this novel certainly takes seriously the personal power of Evil. And, I think in future, I will keep my eyes open in case his utterances indicate a belief that the End is very imminent. But the novel's profound conviction is that, in the Final Apostasy, Mankind is to be divided very radically between those who fall for Satan and the Antichrist, and those who reject them and adhere to the Catholic Church; and I don't think this idea comes out in PF's utterances. Still, perhaps I have been careless and obtuse in failing to detect this subtext. I will examine what he says more carefully in future for signs of what, back in the 1960s, our lecturers used to call Unrealised and Imminent Eschatology.

Entertainingly, one can find a hint in Mgr Benson's oeuvre of the Ordinariates! In his world, Protestantism has evaporated, squeezed out, and all that is left facing the Antichrist is the Church. So, realignment has occurred: the 'Ritualists' went over from the Church of England when the Nicene Creed was abolished (no; Benson does not foresee the gender errors and dysfunctions symbolised by the Ordination of women) and, during the course of the narrative ... while clergy of the diocese of Westminster, and surviving old Recusant families, fall into apostasy and have to be excommunicated ... the Bishop of Carlisle and half-a-dozen of his clergy enter the Church. (It will be remembered that the Monsignore, God bless him, was an ex-Anglican ... one of us ...)

Benson did not foresee the rise of the Great Dictators and their passionate love-affairs with Death. His dystopia was written in 1907, and, true, his fantasy world is richly endowed with Euthanasia (which my OED indicates was first used in its modern sense of murder in 1869). But he could not know that Hitler was to give all that sort of thing a terribly bad name, and that it would be half a century or more after 1945 before the Death Movement fully got all its courage back.

I don't think this book is great literature, but it is a decided cut above most of what is offered for us to read nowadays. I'm extremely glad that PF enjoyed it. If he wants to enjoy more of our very fine English-language fiction, and thus acquire a taste for our rather specialised Anglo-Saxon sense of humour, I would recommend a Lenten retreat spent in the Close at Barchester and a tour around the Ireland of Miss Nugent and Castle Rackrent, followed by a sabbatical year or two in Shrewsbury College Oxford [co-educational since the death of Miss Hillyard in 1982] with long, lazy, bibulous vacations spent at Brideshead playing croquet, riding (side-saddle?) to hounds, and daily celebrating the Extraordinary Form in the Art Nouveau Chapel which Lord Melstead* has recently restored.

What would be your recommendations? (Comments nominating Blandings Castle will not be enabled; the current Lord Emsworth keeps delaying his entry into the Ordinariate.)
* Transpontine readers may welcome an explanation of who this gentleman is. Upon the extinction of the Hanoverian Marquisate of Marchmain and the Earldom of Brideshead, the 1415 Barony by writ of summons survived by having passed through a woman in a cadet (and Recusant) branch of the Flyte family. His Lordship is the 23rd Baron, and he inherited Brideshead (there being no entail) under the will of his fourth cousin twice removed, the Lady Julia Flyte. His grandfather had recouped the family's finances by marrying a Transpontine heiress and his own daughter has married a Russian oligarch. Consequently, there are no financial constraints to force the House to open to the Public, and its Lodges are manned by heavily armed Slavic security personnel, rendering it a safe and agreeable residence for any Sovereign Pontiff with a mind to avoid being troubled by common ordinary folk or Cardinals carrying Dubia or, especially, Archbishop Vigano.

2 July 2019

Petrine Primacy

An interesting piece on Erick Ybarra's blog about Byzantine perspectives on the Petrine Primacy. He concludes it by wondering what S Maximus the Confessor (perhaps the most explicitly papalist Eastern Father) could have said about PF.

When the Fathers of Chalcedon shouted "Peter has spoken through Leo", I do not for one moment believe that they meant "What an exciting novel doctrine! How clever of Leo to think it up!" I think they meant something very much more like "Leo has discharged the Petrine duty of defending us against heretical innnovation".

In both the East and in the West, the Papacy has at least wished to function as an obstacle against doctrinal innovation. Blessed John Henry Newman, whose imminent canonisation was happily made official yesterday, called this function that of being a remora, a barrier. Vatican I most felicitously asserted that the Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that, by His inspiration, they could teach new doctrine. Dr Trevor Jalland, a predecessor of mine in my last Anglican job, devoted his monumental Bampton Lectures to making just this point.

The ultrapapalism of Bergoglianism is not something more than Catholicism; it is something very greatly less.

The clique around PF has, in fact, deprived us of the Papacy we are entitled to have, a Papacy bestowed by God and devoted to guarding and expounding carefully what has been handed down. Instead of this, an "aggressive, insolent faction" (Newman puts things so succinctly!) has endeavoured and is still endeavouring to foist upon us a fake Papacy which Vatican I explicitly repudiated, operating as a pseudoPapacy which is an indefatigable engine of doctrinal innovation, ambiguity, and disorder, disguised as inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

I have myself collaborated in documents attempting to specify and enumerate the heretical positions that PF has favoured. I do not repent of having done this. They were valuable contributions to the Universal Church. But I do feel that the essence of PF's doctrinal delinquency lies in his de facto repudiation of what Vatican I taught about the limitations and purpose of the papal ministry.

Doellinger, poor fellow, was (to Newman's sorrow) excommunicated for feeling unable to subscribe to the teaching of Vatican I. (Little did he realise that, in God's most merciful providence, Vatican I would be a monument against papal misbehaviour.)

PF is undoubtedly the one and only genuine pope, as Professor Ratzinger again recently made clear. Let there be no doubt about that. Sedevacantism is a disorder equal to Bergoglianism.

But geese; ganders; sauces; Doellinger; Bergoglio.

1 July 2019

The Visitation and the Precious Blood

How very ruthless of the post-Conciliar 'reforms': Westminster Cathedral, overnight, lost its Patronal Festival when the 'reformers' reduced July 1 to a feria on the almost sacrilegiously flippant grounds that the Precious Blood would get a perfectly adequate 'covering' by being merely added to the title of Corpus Christi. Maestissimi homunculi. Thus a gorgeous piece of B Pius IX liturgy disappeared: the Solemn Festival he had placed on the calendar to commemorate his return to the City after the Roman Revolution of 1848. (There is nothing vulgar, incidentally, about doing that sort of thing to the calendar, or, if there is, it is simply the vulgarity of an incarnational religion. Byzantine calendars are richly and very appropriately peppered with such observances related to events in Christian history.)

Good news, however: the Ordinariate Church South of the River, Precious Blood Southwark, keeps its patronal festival on the proper day, today.

Incidentally, on the same occasion B Pius IX also raised our Lady's Visitation from a Greater Double to a Double of the Second Class. Urban VI had fitted that festivity onto July 2 as a prayer for Unity. It was the first day available after the Octave of S John, and had long been, among Byzantines, the Feast of the Deposition of the Protecting Robe of the Theotokos in the great Basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople. All that, even the Ecumenical relevance of it, was treated in the post-Conciliar 'reforms' as so much extravagance to be shovelled away: and so the Visitation had a more 'logical' date discovered for it.

B Pius IX's original date for the Precious Blood had been the First Sunday in July. It was the reforms of S Pius X that shifted the Festival onto July 1. S Pius X's liturgists felt, in my view rightly, that too many of the old Roman Sunday Masses were unused on their Sundays year after year because so many feasts were permanently anchored on "the xth Sunday of such-a-month". S Pius X's change did not, of course, mean that the Precious Blood never fell upon a Sunday; it meant that it only fell on a Sunday once every six or seven years. And, with a pastoral flexibility which characterised papal liturgical interventions before the fateful, deplorable collaborazione between Pius XII and Hannibal, S Pius X still allowed, for pastoral reasons, all the Masses on the First Sunday of July to be of the Precious Blood even though the festival had been moved.

For those of us who so wisely use 'the Old Breviary' today has superb Office Hymns (their authors, sadly, unknown). The one provided for Lauds relates particularly well to the old English devotion to the Five Wounds. The English Catholic Hymn Book gives the Vespers hymn Festivis resonent in translation; a great majestic hymn in striding all-conquering Asclepiads, a monument to the triumphant Counter- Reformation. Anyone who's interested in its metre will find an article of mine at 19 March 2019. (Viva viva Gesu, of course, appears in modern hymnals as 'Glory be to Jesus'.)

During the Month of the Precious Blood, perhaps the Litany authorised by S John XXIII could be dusted off and given an airing ... I wonder if any Byzantine poet has ever composed a Paracletic Canon in honour of the Precious and Life-giving Blood of our Most Holy Redeemer.

30 June 2019

The worst evil of Uniatism?

I find it encouraging that PF has canonised a group of "uniate" martyrs in Romania. I am less enthusiatic about his concomitant statement that "Uniatism is not licit today". If Uniatism means the acceptance of groups into full communion, with their own rites ad spiritualities, then PF is setting himself against many previous popes and not least his immediate predecessor, who erected the Ordinariates. Is PF, in a characteristic confusion, saying that people may only enter into full communion as individuals, and without bringing any patrimony? "If you want unity, then all I
offer you is the Novus Ordo (with, of course, my own on-going corrections of the Lord's Prayer)". Is his message really so narrow-minded, so bitter, so divisive, so destructive, so illiterate? If so, it needs to be vigorously repudiated and corrected. Absolute nonsense, Holy Father!! Here's yet another thing you've got wrong!!

I think that the saddest part in the video of Pope Ratzinger's Inauguration ... I watch it for comfort viewing when feeling depressed ... is the proclamation of the Holy Gospel by the Greek Deacon. The camera swivels to where the Byzantine and Oriental delegations are standing. And some of them have actually turned away, even turned their backs.

It is well known that many Separated Byzantines have a particular dislike of "Uniates". That, of course, is why PF feels he has to keep kicking Uniatism. But I wonder what their view is of the "Western Rite Orthodox" which some Separated Byzantine jurisdictions either encourage or at least tolerate. Why is this phenomenon tolerable while "Uniatism" is the ultimate sin?

Moreover, in (I am open to correction) most of these WRO groups the venerable Roman Canon is corrupted by having a Byzantine-style epiclesis interpolated after the Institution Narrative. This is a  gross disruption which makes a disrupted nonsense of the Roman liturgical Tradition (older, of course, than the Byzantine). For the Roman Canon, Consecration means that we offer bread and wine to the Omnipotent Father so that he, by accepting them, makes them the Body and Blood of His Son in accordance with the Words uttered by the Incarbnate Word. In Byzantium, the Priest, bidden by the Deacon, invokes the Holy Ghost to descend upon the elements so that by His Transformation, they may be the Lord's Body and Blood.

Each tradition is entitled to its own integrity. If some aggressive latiniser were to remove the Epiclesis from the form of the Byzantine Rite used by "Uniates", this would be outrageous,

It is no less outrageously unecumenical that some Byzantines treat the Roman Rite with exactly the same sort of contempt.

For such Byzantines to attack Uniatism is hypocrisy in its most primevally authentic form.

Nor is this behaviour in accordance with the praxis of the Byzantine Churches over two millennia. Many criticisms were, during parts of this period, hurled in each direction across the Adriatic Sea; but, to my knowledge, the lack of an epiclesis in the Roman Canon has not often been one of the criticisms levelled by the Eastern side.

One of our Oxford eccentrics, an Orthodox layman called Raymond Winch, published in 1988 The Canonical Mass of the English Orthodox. This contained what Winch claimed English (not, he emphasised, British) Orthodox were entitled to call their authentic liturgical usage. It consisted of the Roman Rite as used in Anglo-Saxon England.

Winch knew better than to Byzantinise. He wrote in his Preface:
I appreciate that liturgy is inevitably subject to development, but we ought to do our best to ensure that this development is of the gentle organic sort. I emphasise that it would be most unwise to permit any changes in our rite until it is once again firmly established  and in general use among us. In particular the anaphora of the Roman Mass is of great antiquity and provides a vital witness to the abiding tradition of the universal Church. Apart from the proper names, it is essential that the text of the canon be retained without addition or omission. To make any changes in the canon in order to "improve" its theology would be more reprehensible than to alter texts of the fathers on the presumption of superior spiritual insight.

29 June 2019


Continued from yesterday.
There was a time when Satan took up bodily the King of Saints, and carried Him whither he would. Then was our most Holy Saviour and Lord clasped in the arms of ambition, avarice, and impurity; -- and in like manner His Church also after Him, though full of divine gifts, the Immaculate Spouse, the Oracle of Truth, the Voice of the Holy Ghost, infallible in matters of faith and morals, whether in the chair of her Supreme Pontiff, or in the unity of her Episcopate, nevertheless was at this time so environed, so implicated, with sin and lawlessness, as to appear in the eyes of the world to be what she was not. Never, as then, were her rulers, some in higher, some in lower degree, so near compromising what can never be compromised; never so near denying in private what they taught in public, and undoing by their lives what they professed with their mouths; never were they so mixed up with vanity, so tempted by pride, so haunted by concupiscence; never breathed they so tainted an atmosphere, or were kissed by such traitorous friends, or were subjected to such sights of shame, or were clad in such blood-stained garments, as in the centuries upon and in which St Philip [Neri] came into the world.

28 June 2019


[S Philip Neri's] times were such as the Church has never seen before nor since, and such as the world must last long for her to see again; nor peculiar only in themselves, but involving a singular and most severe trial of the faith and love of her children. It was a time of sifting and peril and of the fall and resurrection of many in Israel. Our gracious Lord, we well know, never will forsake her; He will sustain her in all dangers, and she will last while the world lasts; but, if ever there was a time when He seemed preparing to forsake her, it was not the time of persecution, when thousands upon thousands of her choicest were cut off, and her flock decimated; it was not in the middle age, when the ferocity of the soldier and subtlety of the sophist beleagurered her, -- but it was in that dreary time, at the close and in the the fulness of which St Philip entered upon his work. A great author, one of his own sons, Cardinal Baronius, has said of the dark age, that it was a time when our Lord seemed to be asleep in Peter's boat; but there is another passage of the Gospel still more wonderful than the record of that sleep, and one which had a still more marvellous accomplishment in the period of which I have to speak. 
To be continued, Dv, tomorrow.

27 June 2019

"Free Alcohol" in Wales

I do not despise people who happen not to know some particular language. There are enough languages I don't know to keep me fairly humble! Even if the language is Latin ... it's not your fault if you were not taught Latin in the general education system. Even if you are a cleric, it's not your fault if the mitred lawbreakers who supervised your seminary cheerfully took the view that "There's too much on the syllabus to find time for Latin! Forget Canon 249! Forget S John XXIII!! Forget Vatican II!!!"

But there are people whom I ... not so much despise as find arrogant and enormously stupid. They are the people who think that they can translate from X into English, or even from English into X, when they know not word of X, simply by looking in a dictionary or using a mechanical 'translator'.

Sadly, languages are not as simple as that!

In the Treasury of Westminster Cathedral, there is (or was; could somebody check?) a cope of Cardinal Manning's, accompanied by a "translation" into English of his motto.


This is Latin for "I prefer to die rather than to be disgraced". Foedari is the passive present infinitive of FOEDO, a verb meaning 'I disgrace'.

Apparently, some arrogant ignoramus looked in a dictionary (or a Google Translation machine?) and found a word Foedus, meaning 'an agreement'. So he rendered the motto "I would rather die than compromise"!!! (Believe me, there is no way Foedus could be inflected so that it offered a form Foedari.)

An Asda supermarket in Wales recently needed to put up a bilingual sign indicating that the supermarket was "Alcohol Free". So a fool with the "I've-got-a-dictionary" mentality put up "ALCOHOL AM DDIM". This actually means, in Welsh, "FREE ALCOHOL"! Or so I have been told. Because I don't know Welsh.

The fact that you don't know a language doesn't mean that you are entitled to treat it with disdainful contempt.

A language embodies the precious life and culture, over many centuries, of a human community. It is entitled to respect.

Whether it's Latin or Welsh, Mandarin or Hottentot, either respect it enough to learn it or keep your mucky hands off it!

26 June 2019

Sexual Abuse and celibacy.

The news got out, over the weekend, that Bishop Peter Ball, formerly Bishop of Lewes (a suffragan see of the diocese of Chichester) and then of Gloucester, has died. Apparently, his death occurred last Friday, 21 June.

I knew him fairly well; I remember him as one of the most sinister people I have ever had dealings with. Eventually he did time for his career of sadistic sexual abuse of young men (one of whom he drove to suicide). He was the protected darling of the British Establishment; Prince Charles, an Archbishop of Canterbury, Judges, Public School heads ... they were all taken in by his 'charismatic' manner and his skilfully crafted persona of ascetic sanctity.

I have, of course, said Mass for the repose of his soul. I pray that, before his death, he was able to attain the clarity and humility of contrition for the evil he did. Please God, may I, and every reader of these words, die penitent and absolved.

Only a little while ago, the Independent Inquiry into the Sexual Abuse of Children published its report into the Anglican diocese of Chichester; just last week, the RC Archdiocese of Birmingham had its turn. Neither 'case study' makes pleasant reading, but it seems to me that things were by far the worse in the diocese of Chichester and in the Church of England.

Sometimes, foolish people suggest that the Catholic Church would not have had its Paedophile Priest scandal, were it not for the law of clerical celibacy.

The Church of England has never, since 1559, had a law of clerical celibacy. This lack did not preserve the diocese of Chichester from the vileness of Bishop Ball and its other clerical paedophiles, some whom ... I know you are wondering this ... were married.

25 June 2019

Adding Water to the Chalice

Is it essential for a priest to add a drop of water to the Chalice at the Offertory?

Well, it all depends on what one means by 'essential'. It is not essential to validity. If a priest fails to do this, bread and wine are still transsubstantiated into the Lord's Body and Blood; the Holy Sacrifice is still validly offered. In general terms, it is very difficult for a priest to render a sacrament invalid.

Sometimes anxious Catholics wonder whether a Mass is invalid if the celebrant (for example) does not actually believe in the Mass. "How can he intend to offer Mass if he does not believe in the Mass?". It sounds like plain common sense, but in fact  it is contrary to the teaching of the Church. This is why an atheist or a Moslem can, in emergency, baptise a weak newly born baby, even though he/she does not believe in Christianity, still less, in Baptism. The basic intention to 'do the thing that Christians do', is sufficient. (And, of course, the use of water and the basic words.)

The Holy Office once had to decide on the validity of Baptisms performed by a nut-case priest who believed that by baptising a baby he was consigning it to the Devil!! The answer was that his Baptisms were valid. However misguided his views, as long as he was intending to do the thing called Baptism, it was valid. On another occasion, it came to light that Methodist missionaries in Oceania were actually saying in the course of the Baptism Service that it was merely a symbol and did not confer Regeneration. The Holy Office declared that even this public declaration of blasphemous heresy did not invalidate the baptisms.

The basic reason for this is that the Sacraments are the Sacraments of the Lord, and He is faithful to His promises.

The only way a priest could invalidate the Mass would be to use substances other than wheaten bread and wine of the grape; or to omit the crucial words of Consecration; or to form an intention deliberately not to consecrate ... out of hatred, perhaps, for the congregation or for the Lord ....

The apprehension among some Traddies that Novus Ordo Masses may often be invalid, because of a defect in the priest's 'Intention', is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. S Robert Bellarmine explained carefully that if a validly ordained priest became a Calvinist, and, believing that the Church of Geneva was Christ's True Church, intended to celebrate the Lord's Supper as the Calvinists had received it, his (dreadful and sacrilegious) service would still be a valid Mass.

Heresy, or even complete unbelief, on the part of a Minister does NOT invalidate his sacraments. Not ever.

I shall not enable comments which contradict this explanation. The matter needs to be understood. It is not up for discussion. It is what the Church teaches, and has taught for centuries, and has embedded in her praxis.

So omitting the drop of water in the Chalice would not invalidate a Mass. But it would be highly unbecoming and unpriestly. The ancients generally mixed water with wine; our Lord will undoubtedly have done this; and Bishops and Priests have faithfully continued to do this ever since. For nearly two millennia!! But it is not required for validity.

A priest who fails to do this is probably just being absent-minded. This is something that can happen to any of us! Especially as we plumb the ever-more-profound depths of senility!

It might be kind, very respectfully and deferentially, after giving him a whiskey or three, to tell such a priest that his omission is something that some members of his congregation find distracting.

24 June 2019

Liturgical law: S Joseph and the Roman Canon

Here is an old post from November 13 2009. Dear me, what a long time I have been writing a blog! I reprint it because the attached thread established, in my view conclusively, that S Joseph is not part of the Canon in the "1962 Missal" ... assuming that canonically there is such a thing as the 1962 Missal!!!!! 

Accordingly, his insertion in Masses said by virtue of Summorum Pontificum would appear to be of very doubtful legality.

I think this is quite interesting! That insertion was the beginning of the tampering with the Roman Canon which led us to the Novus Ordo alterations in that venerable Prayer. Its discontinuation seems to me laudable.

It would also give us a snappy answer to clerics who do not use the Canon "because it's too long".

Readers also discussed the important  fact that, pretty universally, the rather unsatisfactory rite of "1962" is not celebrated as printed but with a lot of the manners, mannerisms, of the previous dispensation. These variations presumably now (compare Canon 26) have the prescription of consuetudo; and remember O'Connell's discussion of consuetudines contra vel praeter legem.
This is what I had written in 2009: "A very strange youtube video has appeared, from the Ecclesia Dei Commission, showing How To Say Mass. I mention here only the oddity that S Joseph is absent from the Canon. (And, in case you were wondering, there is no Third Confiteor)".

I expect that youtube has long-since disappeared.

23 June 2019

Liturgical law: The Ordinariate Rite

With the practical use of the Ordinariate Rite in mind, and entirely for my own guidance, I have jotted down some notes about rubrics ... how rigid they really are ...  drawn from the older (pre-Conciliar) Manualists. A 1940s O'Connell is my main source. I begin with Law, its obligations, in general; then move on to Liturgical Law; and end up with a frivolously bold speculation.

LAW. We are not in conscience obliged to obey a law the authority of which is uncertain. Lex dubia non obligat; non potest lex incerta certam obligationem inducere; nemo ad aliquam legem servandam tenetur, nisi illa ut certa ei manifestetur. How are we to know whether in a particular matter a law is certain? Of the systems proposed in the old manuals, Probabilism seems to many of us the most persuasive. If in doubt between two or more moral possibilities each of which can be characterised as Probable, we may follow even that possibility which is the less or least probable, provided that it is genuinely still probable.

LITURGICAL LAW. Rubrics are either substantial, because they prescribe the form or matter of a Sacrament; or accidental when they do not prescribe form or matter. They also fall into these categories: Preceptive and directive. [There are also facultative rubrics which explicitly permit a choice; I shall not trouble with them further.] Substantial rubrics are preceptive and bind in conscience. The question to interest us is whether accidental rubrics are all, necessarily, preceptive; or whether some among them are only directive. If some are merely directive, this means that they do not in themselves bind in conscience, but simply provide the approved way of carrying out a liturgical action.

Most moral theologians, and many of the old rubrical experts, hold, with varying degrees of emphasis, that at least some rubrics are only directive. They feel that the Church does not intend that small details should oblige sub gravi. They tend not to be very generous in suggesting actual examples: it is, perhaps, easy to guess why! Even among those who incline to believe that all rubrics are preceptive, there is sometimes an inclination to feel that some wiggle-room is necessary. A distinguished example of this is Benedict XIV writing as a private theologian; having reported his own agreement with the idea that they are preceptive, he adds that one can be immune from mortal sin when breaking a rubric "propter parvitatem materiae".

CONCLUSIONS. The question whether each and every rubric binds in conscience or not, is an open question. Since the question is open, one is in conscience free to choose and follow even a less probable judgement, provided always that one has a good reason and that it still does have a degree of probability.

CUSTOM. The old writers also devote some energy to the question of custom acquiring the force of Law even when the custom is contrary to the letter of the law (contra legem). They are able to show that the SRC operated itself upon this principle. I omit a detailed discussion of this point because the necessary time has not yet have elapsed since the promulgation of the Ordinariate Ordo Missae for this to be relevant, i.e. for immemorial and unreprobated custom to have become established.

But it would be amusing to propose an argument that approved immemorial customs which accompanied these liturgical formulae when they were used, by ourselves, in the century or so before we entered into Full Communion. Ecclesiologically, this would posit a continuity within our community before and after the act of reunion, a Hermeneutic of Continuity of our very own. Similar logic would enable us to continue to apply the provision in the Canon Law of Canterbury and York that "the minister who is to conduct the service may in his discretion make and use variations which are not of substantial importance": a principle which de facto has been observed anyway within the Catholic Church by most users of the Novus Ordo for nearly half a century.

22 June 2019

S Alban

So what is the correct day to celebrate the Protomartyr of this Island?

The Book of Common Prayer made a curious mistake. When its Calendar was revised in 1662, S Alban, previously omitted, was included, but on June 17. This is an error probably due (sic Procter and Frere) to a misreading of xxii as xvii. The error was corrected in 1928.

So the original and correct date for S Alban is June 22, today. Thus it remains in the Church of England, in Common Worship. And, happily, the Traditional Calendars for the RC dioceses of England continue to give the correct date. So this morning I said the Mass of S Alban.

So far, so good. Admirably ecumenical.

However, complications were ultimately to arise from the canonisation of S Thomas More and S John Fisher. More was martyred on July 6; but this was the Octave Day of SS Peter and Paul. So the combined commemoration of these two great Saints was settled onto July 9.

So far, still so good!

But the Novus Ordo Universal Calendar, crudely ignoring our Protomartyr, stuck SS John and Thomas onto June 22, the anniversary of the martyrdom of S John Fisher. 

And English Catholics were arrogantly forced to adhere to the Universal Calendar. So they had to find a different date for S Alban. Thus, in the Novus Ordo Calendar for England, S Alban got manhandled back to June 20. (Unhappily, the Ordinariate Calendar does the same.)

I know what conclusions I draw from all this ...

21 June 2019

Is Bishop Gore Patrimony?

It is easy and natural for us in the Ordinariates to set before other Catholics the great Papalist teachers within Anglicanism: perhaps most obviously Dom Gregory Dix. Such men were indeed in our luggage as we entered into Full Communion. But what of others who fell short of such exacting standards? What, for example, about Bishop Charles Gore?

Gore was founding Principal of Pusey House in this University, where I worshipped as an undergraduate and had the honour of a Senior Research Fellowship when I returned to Oxford; later he was Vicar of Radley, a few hundred yards from where I now live; then Bishop of Oxford; also Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, of which our much-loved Mgr Robert Mercer of the Ordinariate is a member. You can find ... I admit it ... in his writings attacks upon what he saw as the failings of the Catholic Church, and teaching upon Biblical Inspiration which might have been unpopular in the pontificate of S Pius X.

But it is my strong conviction that blessed Benedict XVI intended us to bring into the unity of the Catholic Church all that was good in our inheritance; setting it when necessary within a Catholic context so that it may be corrected and completed.

The Lambeth Conference, a gathering with no canonical status but considerable 'moral' authority, used to gather together, every ten years, all the bishops in peace and communion with the See of Canterbury. Its meeting in 1920 spoke very sternly about the immorality of Contraception. By 1930, on the other hand, this teaching had radically changed. Gore spoke about this change, with no holds barred! I urge you to read his arguments at anglicanhistory.org/gore/contra1930.html. He was, like Pius XI (Casti connubii) and B Paul VI (the Pope of Humanae vitae) a prophet who foresaw the complete overthrow of Christian sexual morality in the final third of the twentieth century. The 1930 Lambeth Conference was indeed the thin end of Satan's wedge; the dirty work was to be finished off by the 1968 Lambeth. Gore admired the Catholic Church for bearing a witness to Truth and Purity which his own Communion had, to his distress, abandoned. He also wrote well about the High Priests who served before the 1930s Altar of Modernity, the HG Wellses, the Bertrand Russells, the Margaret Sangers, the Eugenicists, Racial Hygienists and  Euthanasiacs, worthy Precursors of Adolf Hitler's Gestapo and of the Thought Police of our own time. He has a lovely tone of righteous and faintly surprised indignation.

At this when the wolves are knocking at the door of the Catholic Church, Gore is a Christian Teacher with a message directly for us. A 'Patrimony' gift to the whole Church Catholic? Why not read him?

Perhaps there is another piece of advice which the Anglican Patrimony can share with those who want to change the sexual teaching of the Catholic Church. You are merely trying to follow the Anglicans in the journey upon which they embarked in 1930. Why? If you want to be the way they are now, you can have that, now, simply by joining them, without having to wait some 90 years. Remember the old tombstone memento mori: Memento viator, quia quod tu es, ego eram; et quod ego sum, tu eris. 

20 June 2019

C S Lewis and the errors of German Christianity

Because it is so topical to the debates going on at the moment in the Catholic Church, we have been considering the Truth that the Universal Catholic Church is ontologically prior (see earlier posts for that weirdo expression) to the local Church; and understanding how wrong the Kasperites are in putting the local Church first and concluding that it's OK for Northern European local Churches to abandon the received Tradition of the Universal Church on matters like Communion for Remarried Divorcees; and those in genital homosexual relationships.

C S 'Anglican Patrimony' Lewis's Devil Screwtape wrote like this about the Church:
"One of our [Devils'] great allies at the present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans."

Lewis here brilliantly reminds us of the synchronic as well as diachronic aspects of the Church; i.e. that it is not only spread throughout the world at this present time but throughout all of time. It is more than just what you see around you.

19 June 2019


Not long ago, we had a Swedish schoolgirl explaining to us, in very stylish English, about Climate Change.

Stylish ... but one word grabbed my attention. She said the dangers were "existential".

That word has been around quite a time now; at first, it frightened me. When a new term becomes all the rage, and one doesn't know what it means, one somehow ... at least I do ... feels excluded from a national discourse in which everybody else is apparently comfortable. I was young when Existentialism was a philosophical fad of a French gentleman called Sartre. His theories seemed not to take the doctrine of Original Sin very seriously. But I don't think that's relevant to this new use of the word 'existential'.

Suddenly the penny dropped as to what the term means. I think (e contextu) that it means "It really is real". "It really does exist". "If you don't take this seriously I shall spit on you from my loftier moral higher ground."

So now I no longer feel excluded. I've got it sussed. It is just another example of the modern dodge of choosing a fancy, upmarket-sounding, word to say something that was previously said rather more simply and prosaically, so that the speaker sounds either more like an Intellectual or more like a member of Society's elite. It's like 'locate'. The other morning I heard on the Home Service a pompous rambling old bore called John Humphries asking somebody whom he "had on the line" what his location was. Not "Where are you?" That would not have been consequential enough for the PROB. A year or two ago, I heard an announcement on a train to the effect that the safety information was "located adjacent to the door". Gosh, what an important person the announcer must have been. Only inferior individuals like that seedy old clergyman snuffling inexplicably in the corner of the carriage would say something as downmarket as "by the door". One has to maintain standards. Or do I mean status?

"Issue" is another case which, I think, illustrates several things. We used to have 'problems'. But if I admit that I have a problem, that puts me in the moral low ground. Aggessive people say things like "I'm a practising werewolf. Do you have a problem with that?" To which the only permitted reply is "Er ... um ... no; of course not".

So, instead, we have 'issues'. 'Issues' enable me to be lofty and disdainful, without admitting that something really has got to me .

18 June 2019

Dr Eric Mascall and the errors of Walter Kasper

One of our greatest Anglican Catholic theologians was the late Fr Mascall. When I was an undergraduate, he said his private (Tridentine) Mass daily at the Altar next to the Altar in S Mary Mags where I was hearing the public (Tridentine) Mass. He was as kind a man as he was a fine Thomist and a scholar of immense erudition. I cite below some passages in which he repeatedly emphasises that we err if we use the phrase "the Church" to mean "Christians now on earth". It really incorporates all those who have ever been incorporated by Baptism into Christ's Body and have not been lost. We must conclude from this that questions such as those about Marriage and sexuality are therefore not matters for individual local Churches to make decisions upon, nor even just for the whole state of Christ's Church now militant here in earth. 'Tradition' is the expression of this understanding. A shame Kasper and his like have never read Mascall. They would have understood, poor things, how obvious it is that the Church Universal, the Body of Christ throughout Space and Time, is ontologically [in the order of Being] prior to individual Particular Churches.

The Church is not merely "a society formed by the voluntary association of those individual Christians who are now on earth"; it is "rooted in the concrete historical events of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ ... we who are now on earth are only the last of sixty or so generations of Christians who have each in its turn made up the earthly Church ... There is a fine phrase in which tradition has been described as 'the democracy of the dead' ... But, since Christ has overcome death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life, the Church which was once militant here upon earth in the past is the Church which is now triumphant and expectant beyond the grave. This is therefore not just the democracy of the dead but of the living, as God himself is not of the dead but of the living. "
" ... the Church  ... is not just the empirically manifested Church now militant on earth, but the archetypal Church which is nothing less than Christ's own manhood into which generations of Christians have been incorporated ..."
" ... at any particular epoch the Church militant is only a minute fraction of the Church Catholic... in the great living and growing organism which is the Body of Christ, we who are now on earth are not the successors of those who are now at rest and sleep in the sleep of peace or of the saints who now enjoy the beatific vision; we are their contemporaries, united with them by incorporation into the ascended Lord who is the Body's Head ..."
"If we identify the Church of God simply with the Church Militant, we shall look upon it as a society with membership that is constantly changing as new members enter it by baptism and old ones leave it by death, after the pattern of any other earthly society. If, however, we remember that the Church militant is only the lower fringe of the whole Church, we shall see the Church as an organism, a body which is constantly growing, which is being built up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ".

VIVAT the Anglican Patrimony!

17 June 2019

The Antidote to Pride

No; this is not a tirade against 'Pride' parades ....

At the Daughter University, there is a Classics don called Mary Beard. I dislike her. Apart from the fact that she is not My Sort of Woman, one reason for this is that, when lecturing, she likes to sound demotic. Not for her the elegantly crafted sentence. She wants to sound Immediate and Spontaneous. So her diction is larded with fillers, not least "y'know".

And now she has had the temerity to attack PF! Loyal Catholics will be horrified. Why should anybody, even a Cambridge don, do such a wicked thing? Answer: she is very angry because he is trying to change the ending of the Oratio Dominica. He is attempting to eliminate the suggestion that the Father might if undissuaded "lead us into temptation". And he is encouraging the more spineless and illiterate Episcopal Conferences to adopt a "superior translation". The Italians, disgraceful apostates from Renaissance Scholarship, have bent the knee to Ba'al.

The Beard points out that the PF-preferred version is not in fact a 'translation'. And this isn't just a question of traduttore traditore. She explains the Greek line word by word, very much as one might explain it to a bright little boy in the top class of his prep school, who is doing a year of Greek in an attempt to make him a more attractive scholarship candidate at the Public School of his choice.

What makes this particularly irritating is that she is dead right. The PF-sponsored 'correction' has nothing whatsoever to do with the original Greek. It has everything to do with the unbelievable over-confidence of a pope who is convinced that his own silly little whimsies take authoritative precedence over the express words of the Incarnate Word himself, and the abiding liturgical tradition of the Church, in all her rites, over nearly two millennia. There can be no doubt that Fr Rosica was giving his Master's authentic views when he described PF as being free from the burdensome chains of Scripture and Tradition.

Of course, PF has every right to be pleased with his own crack-pot twaddle. He is an old man; I m a decade younger and I already claim this same privilege for myself. Readers of my blog will have noticed this.

But does he have the right to make the rest of us into a laughing stock in the eyes of literate people everywhere?

Perhaps he does. Perhaps this humiliation is bestowed upon us by a wise Providence to give us an opportunity to fight our besetting sin of Pride?