31 July 2020

Maccabees

An advantage in the the current Roman legislation regarding the "Extraordinary Form": it is currently legal, on August 1 to say Mass of the Maccabees.

This is very important. This celebration was the only relic on the Roman Calendar of the old principle that the History of God's People, "Old Testament" and "New Testament", is a continuum. There is no break. Abraham, as the Canon of the Mass insists on 363 days of the year, is our Patriarch; our great forefather.

There is no theological reason against having "Old Testament" figures on a Catholic Calendar. The local Calendar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has them ... because, there, they are local Saints. One of the joys of helping out at Lanherne is that the old Carmelite Calendar provides "Old Testament" figures in large numbers. Then, of course, there are the Eastern Christian Calendars.

So why the dearth of "Old Testament" names in the Calendar of the Church of Rome? Because, in the earlier centuries, Church dedications so often related to relics (a reason why there are so few churches dedicated to our Lady from before the Council of Ephesus). And the relics of the Maccabees are, indeed, in Rome.

"But the Maccabees were not martyrs for Christ". But they were. They were martyrs for the Torah, and the Man from Nazareth was, is, the Wisdom and Word of God, which means, the Torah. "Christ now stands on the Mountain, he now takes the place of the Torah", as Rabbi Neusner interprets S Matthew. "Jesus understands himself as the Torah -- as the word of God in person ... [he claims to be the] Temple and Torah in person", comments Joseph Ratzinger. (I have emphasised before the importance of the middle volume of his Jesus of Nazareth, pages 103sqq, Ratzinger dialoguing at length with his friend Rabbi Jacob Neusner).

Witnessing to the Torah in those days before the Torah stood among us Incarnate, they are His martyrs. Secondarily, of course, they are the perfect paradigms of the numberless martyrs of the early Christian centuries ... and of our own.

The confectors of the Novus Ordo frankly admitted that the Feast of the Maccabees is of extreme antiquity, and, indeed, universality. But they wanted to put S Alfonso on August 1, and they bound themselves by their own silly fetich not to have "Commemorations". So they left the Maccabees "to local calendars".

You might think, therefore that in the Novus Ordo local calendar "Pro clero almae urbis eiusque districtus, typis polyglottis Vaticanis MCMLXXIV" might have the Maccabees. Er ...

You'd never guess whose name appears at the bottom of the Decree authorising this supplement. It begins with B.

I think it's time somebody raised a great cry: "The Novus Ordo is anti-semitic".

Our own Sir Keir Starmer should lead an international campaign to get it banned.

30 July 2020

Psalms (2)

A Commentary on the Book of the Psalms, Preserving Christian Publications, Boonville, New York 2008, American ISBN 978-0-9802084-4-3, is a fine book which would feed the spirituality of those who wish to benefit from the surface text of the psalms. But, as Bishop Moriarty explained "it omits those portions which are purely philological, or which relate to the discrepancy and reconciliation of texts and versions". And, frankly, what the Archdeacon omitted is the sort of thing I, moi, love getting into.

Does all that 'dry' historical stuff really matter? Let me briefly take Psalm 91 (Vg-LXX) = 92 (MT). Bonum est confiteri, as Anglicans have always called it. There is a rabbinical legend that this was the song of praise uttered by Adam as the first Sabbath dawned upon the world, and that it descended by tradition as the special hymn for that day. Moving into historical time, what we do know is that it was sung in the Temple on the Sabbath at the offering of the Tamid, the first lamb of public sacrifice, in the morning, when the wine offering was poured out and the Breads were offered (Numbers 28). And verse 2 refers to both the morning and the evening sacrifices of the lamb. In the old Breviary, it was still in use on the Sabbath at Lauds because "the Roman Church, amongst other tokens of the poweful Judaizing influence which affected its earliest days, retains it as part of Saturday Lauds". Apparently, rabbinic Judaism still uses it on the Sabbath. And its Sabbath use survived the revision of the Palter under Pope S Pius X. Indeed, even the Liturgy of the Hours retains its use on alternate Sabbaths.

I am aware that not everybody, in their journey of Faith, needs the same props. But I don't see what harm such informations will do to any presbyter or laic as they say Saturday Lauds before setting off up the Hill to the Altar of Sacrifice.

In my second paragraph, I high-lighted one sentence. It was borrowed from A Commentary on the Psalms: from Primitive and Medieval writers; and from the Various Office Books and Hymns of the Roman, Mozarabic, Ambrosian, Greek, Coptic, Armenian and Syriac rites. By The Rev. J.M. Neale, D.D., sometime Warden of Sackville College, East Grinstead, and the Rev. R.F. Littledale, Ll.D., sometime scholar of Trinity College Dublin. 1887.

A ripe product of the scholarship of the second generation of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England (and Ireland). It does what it says on the tin. I doubt if it's still in print ...

29 July 2020

Liturgical law: S Joseph and the Roman Canon

Here is an old blogpost, originally from November 13 2009, and published again in June 2019, together with the threads from those earlier versions. I reprint it because of 
(1) recent debate about the editiones typicae  of the Missale Romanum.

It matters whether there was an editio typica in 1962, and, if so, what its date was. Because on these details hangs the question of whether it is lawful to add S Joseph to the Canon of the Mass. Or unlawful!!

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.

(2) There is also 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 originally 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; and that more recently printed copies do have S Joseph.

I venture to add a word of practical advice to those newly embarking on a priestly career; or who have just learned and are now using the Old Mass (congratulations, Fathers!).
ADVICE: Printed versions of the 1962 Missal are attractively produced and light-weight enough to be useful for travelling. But that version of the Roman Rite misses out a lot of earlier stuff. I would urge you to get your hands on a second-hand copy of an earlier Missal (even if you have to get it rebound). If you want to add S Joseph to the Canon, do it ... and other such emendations ... in the margin and in pencil. Similarly, things you gum in should be removeable. Because things change, and one's own views on minor matters change, and it is a very good idea only to emend a printed liturgical text in such a way that it is easy to reverse the change. And don't forget that the CDF is likely, in your lifetime if not in mine, to add post-1962 material ... as it already has the New Prefaces.



28 July 2020

The Psalms (1)

There is a splendidly produced Commentary on the Psalms, written by S Bellarmine, translated by the Venerable John O'Sullivan, Archdeacon of Kerry, and commended by David Moriarty, Bishop of Kerry. What a majestic trio!! Bellarmine was the very flower of Counter-Reformation erudition, rescuing the Faith intellectually from the Protestant claim that Popery was in opposition to 'Primitive Christianity'. David Moriarty was a close friend of S John Henry Newman, and one of, I think, only two of the Fathers of Vatican I who never actually ... as such ... subscribed the decrees of the Council. Those were the days when sound men and true were a trifle nervous that Pastor Aeternus might be used to promote ultra-papalism: they can never have suspected that the day could come when Vatican I would stand up to be counted as our protection against the ultrahyperuebersuperpapalism at the heart of the Bergoglianist error. Vivat Moriarty, Vivat Concilium. It is remarkable how le bon Dieu over-rules our errors and our anxieties.

And the Venerable Archdeacon? The Catholic Church in Ireland still maintains the honorary title of Archdeacon ... I believe the French Church did until the Revolution. Archdeacon O'Sullivan, D.D.,   was also Rector of Kenmare, in the part of Ireland I knew so very well for a couple of decades. Indeed, I once stood next to the then Catholic Archdeacon of Kerry (brother, incidentally, of the then Bishop of Kerry) in a sculpture Park in the little town of Sneem, as the Egyptian Ambassador unveiled a statue of the goddess Isis! Think about that for a moment ... Anglican priest ... Catholic Archdeacon ... Islamic Ambassador ... syncretistic pagan goddess! Whatever were we all doing ... well, I'll tell you: we were lending cheerful light-hearted backing to the local tourist trade. And today I will commend to you the Ring of Kerry as a fantastic place to holiday. There are hundreds of first-millennium monastic sites ... including the Skelligs ... and there is fish to guzzle.

Mind you, in this age of Pachamama I think I would now have qualms about appearing to be light-hearted about her cousin Isis. Among much else, relativist syncretist liberals have stolen from us so many possibilities for light-heartedness which were, only three decades ago, matters for innocent play; because, when Isis was just ancient history and ancient art, and Liz Taylor as Cleopatra was an object of helpless merriment, Isis was not much of an occasion of temptation to idolatry. PF, and all that lot, have changed things so terribly for the worse. May God forgive them for the grim and laughterless world which they have sponsored.

Archdeacon O'Sullivan ... Moriarty's Archdeacon ... was a staunch and effective defender of his people during the dark days of the 'Soupers': when, in times of famine, Protestants with money gave food away free of charge to the starving peasantry ... free, as long as they took part in proddy worship. And took their children along too. He was a very big and very great man, still remembered with pride.

PF, by cutting down the Monsignore industry, has happily made the Catholic Church in England look much more Indigenous ... Yes!! ... because our senior Catholic presbyters are now 'Canon Thingummy' rather than 'Mgr O'Wotsit'. Perhaps the next stage of inculturation will be for Vicars General, and all those 'Episcopal Vicars' galore, to be replaced by ... Archdeacons! Come back, your venerablenesses! All is forgiven!

That's the way ahead! You know it makes sense!!

In my next piece I will explain my hesitations about the Bellarmine-Moriarty-O'Sullivan commentary on the Psalms.


27 July 2020

Bishop Graham Leonard

I have decided to publish the main parts of a letter written to me (14 June 1994) by Bishop Graham Leonard. He was the senior bishop of the Province of Canterbury after the Archbishop; he was received into full communion after the vote of the General Synod in 1992 to "ordain" women to the presbyterate. Rome decided that he should be ordained to the presbyterate sub conditione.

"... after discussions with the Cardinal [Hume] over many years, and finally after the vote, I petitioned the Holy Father to be received into the Catholic Church, setting out the position as I saw it over my Orders. I had always made it clear (vide my article in the Catholic Herald in November 1992) that I did so as a suppliant without presumption. All I asked was that I should not have to deny my former ministry. I did not seek conditional ordination which was offered by Rome. Cardinal Hume delivered my petition personally to the Pope [S John Paul II]. I am told that it was considered by 4 Cardinals and 10 consultors. The decision that I should be ordained to the priestood per saltum and not first to the diaconate was a personal decision of the Pope.
...

" ... B T Simpson played a crucial part. The Bishop who ordained me in 1948 was Edward Wynn [Bishop of Ely 1941-1957], who was consecrated by Simpson in 1941. Rome was particularly concerned about his intention in conveying Old Catholic Orders. Fortunately, Simpson executed a document of which a copy exists in Pusey House Library, certified by Darwell Stone, which makes his intention clear beyond any doubt. He writes of his 'express intention of transmitting the Old Catholic Succession as well as the Anglican'. Through the Cardinal I provided Rome with a copy of the document.

"So much for my ordination as a priest: the question of my consecration to the episcopate [as Bishop of Willesden in 1964] remains an open one. In my petition, I had said that at my age, I had no desire to exercise episcopal functions, whatever decision be made about my episcopal orders. I did point out that nine bishops in the Old Catholic succession took part in my consecration. The intention of six of them gave no cause for doubt. The then Bishop of London [Robert Stopford] and the then Bishop of Kensington had themselves been consecrated by Old Catholics, the former Archbishop of Utrecht having participated in both consecrations. I was present at the consecration of Ronald Goodchild as Kensington [in 1964] and remember what happened. However, as I say, no decision has been made about my episcopal orders. ..." 

26 July 2020

ONLY FOR OXONIANS

If you have read the recent (pompously condescending) Quad Magazine and looked at page 8 ... "100 Years of Oxford degrees for women" ... you may have wondered who the five principals photographed together when they received their degrees on October 7 1920 were.

From the left:
(1) Miss Moberly of St Hilda's;
(2) Miss Penrose of Somerville;
(3) Mrs (Bertha) Johnson of the Societas Mulierum Oxoniae Privatim Studentium, later St Anne's;
(4) Miss Jourdain of St Hugh's;
(5) Miss Blake of the Lady Margaret's Hall.

Not a single "Ms" among them!!! !!! Glorious days!

Mrs Johnson was the first actually to receive a degree. Her husband, known as "the Johnner", was Chaplain of All Souls and taught in the Hon Sch of Modern History. He was a ferocious tutor; when one undergraduate objected "to being talked to like that", the Johnner replied "Sir, I am paid to be rude to you".

Mrs Johnson originally opposed the idea of women being admitted fully to the University as then constructed, on the grounds that it involved forcing women onto a Procrustean bed designed for men; Miss Moberly headed a college originally founded for women who did not wish their studies to be circumscribed by examinations.

When, in half a millennium's time, discerning historians look back on the twentieth century, I wonder if they might have some ideas about who were the real feminists.

At the aborted Encaenia this centenary year, 2020, the proposed honorands were all women.

Er ...

Sancta Anna, Ora pro nobis

A great Lady, most deserving of the great Who shall find a strong woman lection given her by the Latin Church. May she intercede for the Land of Brittany, faithful to the Church when so much of France went a-whoring after strange deities. Let us not forget that the demonic hatreds which brought a crown of martyrdom to the Carmelites of Compiegne are still alive ... witness the recent fire in Nantes Cathedral. I recall pointing out to a tiny granddauhter called Anna the majestic wording round the ceiling of the Church at Pontrieux, which began ANNA POTENS ... and asked her to pray for the Fatherland. Pedit evidomp.

And Reverend Mother and the Carmelite Sisters at Lanherne in Cornwall, whose lovely little church has S Anne as a Patron: so fitting in the church of Carmelites who came to England in 1794, hounded by the armies of the Enlightenment.

And we shall not forget, shall we, St Anne's College Oxford, blessed spot, where I found a wife and which I rewarded by sending it a daughter and a son. Yes; it became a mixed college. When it was still one of Oxford's five Women's Colleges, and each of the five had a strong individual character, this joke circulated: a woman undergraduate burst into a hen-party with the breathless news that she had just met a man (perhaps not difficult in the days when there were seven men to every woman undergraduate at Oxford).
The Somerville girl (they were preoccupied with academic matters) asked "What's he reading?"
The Lady Margaret Hall girl (they had social antennae): "Who's his father?"
The St Hugh's girl (crazy about sport): "What does he play?"
The St Hilda's girl (waste no time): "Where can I find him?"
The St Anne's girl (elegant, accomplished, and beautiful): "I've already had him to tea".

I had tea quite often in a room overlooking Banbury Road and the Parks Entrance ...

25 July 2020

Brideshead Revised (2)

Another passage which Waugh revised out in his second edition. What is it about Wine and Sex ...

"So at sunset I took formal possession of her as her lover ... as I was made free of her narrow loins and, it seemed now, in assuaging that fierce appetite, cast a burden which I had borne all my life, toiled under, not knowing its nature -- now, while the waves still broke and thundered on the prow, the act of possession was a symbol, a rite of ancient origin and solemn meaning."

24 July 2020

What is to be done about "The Council?

How to bury Vatican II?

There have been many good books which help us to approach "the Council". Professor Roberto de Mattei on the history of the Council; Fr Serafino Lanzetta on its nature as a pastoral Council ... going back to when the splendid Mgr Gherardini opened up the log-jam in 2009 and began to ask necessary questions which, hitherto, had been unaskable in the 'Mainstream Church'. (Mgr Lefebvre, of course, had courageously asked them.)

Today, it is hard to open a computer without finding splendid stuff about the Conciliar legacy from the more courageous of the Successors of the Apostles: from a Vigano or a Schneider. How is the Bergoglian disaster to be resolved? How can the Magisterial catastrophes of this pontificate, and the problems bequeathed by Vatican II, be sorted out? Should we all begin to check through our history books to find out how long it took the disastrous pontificate of Pope Honorius to be sorted out by the definitive repudiations of an Ecumenical Council and of his own successors? Half a century? A Century?

I am all in favour of the analyses and proposals currently being made by better men and cleverer men than I am.

But I would also like a workaday fall-back plan. I want something we can be doing now; something than doesn't depend on hypotheses and hopes about future contingencies.

There is a sense in which I hope that the Council might solve its own problem. Let me explain.

Between the death of S Pius X and the Council, there was about half a century.

When the Council began and the Rhine, ordure, offal, and all, flowed into the Tiber, the cabal which successfully kidnapped the Council for its own purposes was very sure about one thing: the analysis of the needs of the Church made by S Pius X fifty years before was no longer adequate to the Church of the 1960s.

More than the same amount of time ... half a century ...  has now elapsed between the end of the Council and our own time.

Surely no-one can deny that what seemed necessary in the 1960s is now ... History.


The Cold War is no more; instead of International Communist Subversion we have the problem of Islam.

Kindly old gentlemen in the 1960s wondered if the Contraceptive Pill might be a help to nice Catholic married couples who simply wanted to "space" their clean and respectable children: now we have rampant sexual immorality: the Pill is sidelined because AIDS and all those transmissible sexual diseases with the pretty, elegiac names necessitate 'barrier' interventions in the sexual act.

"Too many mouths to feed" has been replaced as a realistic worry by a fear that the working population will soon be too small to support our society.

Above all, the cheerful optimism of the 1960s, the belief that a friendly World was just sitting there waiting to listen to the message of the Church if only we could refine our expression of the Faith ... if only we would gently open our windows ... has given place to a world that is relentlessly hostile to the Sovereignty of Christ the King. If the 1960s uncrowned Him, the 2020s are determined to get Him back on to the Cross.

Vatican II is just about as much of an irrelevancy to this new world of ours, the world of 2020, as the financial legislation of the Emperor Augustus would be to a seminar on jazz.

(Even "liberal" Catholics agree de facto with this proposition of Conciliar irrelevance. Do the Kennedys and the Pelosis, gruesome tribes, have any interest in the strong language with which the Council condemned Abortion, and did so three times?)

Getting Vatican II canonically displaced and some of the actions of PF formally repudiated is a lovely idea ... a beautiful fantasy to help one get off to sleep. I'd  vote for it twice a day. But, far more important, is the need for the Council to be forgotten and to be replaced by a Catholicism vibrantly and healthily expressive of the Gospel and the Faith of the Ages.

I'm not sure you need to be certain you have created a vacuum before you decide what to put into your vacant space.


The Council of Vienne had a Spirit of the Council. In that Spirit, the Templars were burned on probably phony charges of Sodomy and their wealth seized. The French government gathered huge sums of money on the undersnding that it would lead a crusade ... and then just hung on to it all. Does anybody give that Council a second thought? When did you last wake up in the night worrying about it?

Vatican II is as irrelevant now as the Council of Vienne is. Vatican II was every bit as fully and totally a true, valid Ecumenical Council cum Petro et sub Petro as Vienne was ... and it is just about as fully and totally irrelevant today. It is not, however, any more essential for it to be formally repudiated than it would be for Vienne to be expunged from the record. Helpful, yes; edifying, I agree; elegant and logical, most certainly; but not of the esse.

Vatican II needs to be helped to fall out of the memory of the Church, just as Vienne has been. It needs to be forgotten ... left to merge into the Church's general background murmur rather than touted around as if it offered anything whatsoever to help us to deal with Now.

23 July 2020

Dorothy Sayers as linguist (3)

Here is another, rather jolly, example of the still very live conviction among the illiterate that it is more 'genteel' to use the nominative cases of pronouns when the grammar of a sentence does not permit it. It comes from Have His Carcase (1932):

"Miss Garland's carefully modulated tones escaped from control and became shrill. 'And I said  ... so now you know where you get off. That's what I said, and it's a good thing there's a law in this country to protect girls like I'

"'Ain't she the snail's ankles?' asked Mr da Soto admiringly.".

There is so much of linguistic interest in Sayers. There is the movement of Wimsey's own speech from huntin'-an'-shootin' English in the earlier novels to the 'Oxford Academical' diction in Gaudy Night. There is a considerable difference between the Jeevesish speech of Bunter when  he is speaking to the Quality, and the way he talks when he has been sent off to extract information below stairs.

And there are the  regional dialects. Quite a bit of 'West Country' in Have His Carcase, the Fens get into the Nine Tailors, but there is page after page of Lowland Scots in Five Red Herrings. A lot of this evidence is now getting on for a century old. Doubtless, the regional dialects have changed in that time (for example, it seems to me that the glottal stop has become all-conquering). But I wonder if there are evidential controls enabling some sort of judgement to be made about whether, in their time, Sayers' accounts were accurate. Or perhaps she is herself the best evidence we have for how provincials really did speak between the Two Wars.

But I think she did have a very special interest in the speech habits and patterns of those whose social situations were ambiguous (such as the individuals named in the Pauline Epistles and analysed in 1983 by Wayne Meeks [The First Urban Christians, 1983], using the sociological tool of "Status Inconsistency").

Professor Higgins could have told us whether 'dagoes' really did use phrases like "Ain't she the snail's ankles". Or did Sayers invent it off, so to speak, her own bat?

I think it is perfectly brilliant and I shall incorporate it into my own private dialect.


22 July 2020

S Mary Magdalen (2); Dorothy Sayers guides us through linguistics

                                                HYPERCORRECTION

As for the howler hortu, I do have a theory. I think it is an example of hypercorrection.

Educated Italians are conscious of the risk of amalgamating the fourth Latin declension with the second, because this is precisely what their own language has done. So they find themselves constantly typing "Sancto Spirito" and then having to correct it to "Sancto Spiritu".

So in this preface somebody hypercorrected the correct 'horto' to the incorrect 'hortu'.

In languages where the letter H is vulnerable, poor ignorant hypercorrecting people like Catullus's Arrius put an H in where it is not supposed to be. Similarly, in our own time, they are nervous about betraying their illiteracy by saying "Tom and me are going to the chipper"; so nervous that, even where "Tom and me" is required by English grammar (e.g. "he was very rude to Tom and me") they hypercorrect and erroneously say "He was very rude to Tom and I" ... ...  poor illiterate things! They will even admit that they somehow can't get out of their minds the idea that "Tom and I " just "sounds right"!!! Such is the power of incompetent nannies and thoroughly bad teachers!! And the terrible, ghastly, desire to sound genteel! Better to sound Rustic than Genteel, sez I.

[Dorothy Sayers had a fine ... and amused ... ear for linguistic nuance. In 1933 (Murder must advertise) she offered, as from a cockney youth, "She is always telling tales on we boys"; and, as from a 'reception clerk', "Strictly between you and I." I wonder how much further this sort of thing can be traced back. In Have His Carcase (1932), Doris, whose "fundamental cockney was overlaid by a veneer of intense refinement", says "'It's not so easy for we dancers.'"]

I suspect that it was hypercorrection which led the old, correct version of a place-name five miles south of here to mutate, in the early modern period, from the historically and philologically correct 'Abendon' to the incorrect 'Abingdon' under the influence of all the other place-names where rustic tongues had carelessly modified -ing to -en'.

                                            DELAYED UPDATING

Theologically, a thorough-going up-to-date Bergoglian would, of course, have to change the final bit of that S Mary Magdalene Preface to "ad mundi fines, Israele scilicet excepto, perveniret". Sometimes, familiar phraseologies ... our automatic linguistic habits ... long survive changes which have happened in realpolitik. [I have noticed, as late as Dorothy Sayers (Strong Poison, 1930), Lord Peter Wimsey referring to "the three kingdoms" ... an anachronistic solecism, of course, since 1707.] Similarly, with all the old habitual formulae still potent just behind their tongues, Bergoglianists sometimes forget the Bergoglianist conviction according to which the Jews are not to be offered saving Faith in Christ our Redeemer. And they thoughtlessly continue to use, unmodified, *silly old outmoded biblical phrases like "preaching the Gospel to all nations" when, by their own theology, they ought to be writing "preaching the Gospel to all nations except, of course, the Jews".

Perhaps they will all have corrected, 'updated', their instincts by the time we get to the Pontificate of S Frances XII, goddess bless her.

*Trigger warning here about the imminence of unAmerican Irony.

21 July 2020

S Mary Magdalen (1)

As we approach the commemoration of S Mary Magdalen ... The Novus Ordo has followed the Church of England in promoting her to a Festum ... I have revised and now repeat, with parts of the original threads, my views about the Preface authorised in the Novus Ordo. Here is its text, warts and all; my comments will follow tomorrow:

"Qui [id est, Christus] in hortu manifestus apparuit Mariae Magdalenae, quippe quae eum dilexerat viventem, in cruce viderat morientem, quaesierat in sepulcro iacentem, ac prima adoraverat a mortuis resurgentem, et eam apostolatus officio coram apostolis honoravit, ut bonum novae vitae nuntium ad mundi fines perveniret."

20 July 2020

Racism

This is getting quite out of hand.

During Sunday's Sunday programme on the Beeb, there was a lot of stuff about how racist the Methodist Church is.

This is none of my business. I am not a Methodist. If you were to tell me that Methodist ministers habitually conduct their services dressed in SS uniforms, I would instantly disclaim any locus standi in the matter. But ...

Auntie Beeb produced just one Methodist minister  ... a rather glib-sounding young man. Asked if he had evidence for Methodist Racism, he offered just one anecdote, concerning himself. Nobody else was brought into the programme in order to dispute, qualify, or contextualise his account. You would have thought that BBC journalists might have been familiar with the possibility that, in any dispute, there may be two ... or even more ... sides to an argument. No ... the Beeb, I have concluded, employs only the most naive ingenus/ingenues.

And the story he told? That he had been rebuked for having, during a funeral service, included in his talk a brief passage in a Ghanaian language which he had also uttered in English.

Let us pass over the rather obvious fact that this appears to be about language rather than race. Because it aroused in me memories ...

Immediately after the first Ordinariate clergy began to be let loose on main-stream parishes, the amusing tales came back about worshippers complaining, after Mass, "Why did we have to have all that Latin at the start of the service?" Such, apparently, can be the "excluding" effect of the Kyries. When teaching, I once came to suspect that a couple of Chinese students were exchanging subversive written comments about myself. I commandeered the piece of paper and thenceforth made them sit separately. Not that I was able to understand the Cantonese characters they had written, but ... I had felt "excluded". Rumour has it that, in some parts of Wales, if a holiday-homing Anglo-Saxon comes into a pub, its denizens immediately break into Welsh in order to make him feel "excluded". Indeed, I have, for convenience, sometimes conversed with my wife in Latin, deliberately in order to exclude somebody at a nearby table who might overhear what I do not want them to hear.

Whether people like it or not, Language not only enables communication.

Language is also most exquisitely potent to exclude.

This is not quite the End of the World. Except for those poor souls who have been brain-washed by the liberal gauleiters to complain about "feeling excluded". Those for whom "You are making me feel excluded" is the Whining Whinge against which there is no possible appeal.

The semiliterate chattering classes who wish to impose upon us all their own tedious shibboleths cannot have it both ways.


They need to decide which of these two slogans trumps the other:
(1) "People must be allowed to express their diversity"; or
(2) "People must not be made to feel excluded"?

19 July 2020

LEX ORANDI

S Prosper of Aquitaine was so close a collaborator with S Leo the Great that it is not always entirely clear which of S Leo's writings are his, and which might owe much to S Prosper. It was he who formulated the adage that "the Law of Praying should establish the Law of Believing" (obsecrationum quoque sacerdotalium sacramenta respiciamus, quae ab apostolis tradita in toto mundo atque in omni catholica ecclesia uniformiter celebrantur, ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. It is, in other words, to the Law of the Church's Prayer that we should turn in order to find sound doctrine.

I am a trifle uneasy about the way in which Pius XII flirted (Mediator Dei, 1947) with the notion of reversing this formula so as to make the Law of Believing establish the Law of Praying, and of retaining both versions in, as it were, creative tension. This could easily relegate the Law of Praying to the humble status of a resource occasionally plundered by those drafting pontifical documents and needing proof-texts to bolster up a weak argument with impressive footnotes. This demotion of the Law of Praying seems indeed to be precisely what happened in the disordered years after the Council, when the levers of liturgical power in the Church fell into the hands of a tendenz determined to make their own presuppositions the dominant norm according to which liturgical texts would be judged and changed or even (as in the rite for the Consecration of bishops and by the provision of "Alternative Eucharistic Prayers") dumped.

An expression of this desire to make the Lex credendi determine the Lex orandi (rather than the correct way round) can be found in the Decree of 1951 ordering a new Office for August 15: " ... congruum erat ut etiam Officium iis adornatum esset laudibus, quae Deiparae Virgini ob definitum corporeae Assumptionis dogma merito tribuendae erant".

As so often, when one really looks into matters, Pius XII turns out to be the real progenitor of the "Post-Conciliar Reforms". Hannibal Bugnini forsaw this very clearly when he wrote in 1956 that the pope who had been, first, the Restorer of the Vigil and then the Restorer of Holy Week, would become the Supreme Restorer of the entire sacred Liturgy (totius sacrae Liturgiae Summus Instaurator).

We did not then and do not now need a Supreme Restorer of the entire Liturgy. We need a recovery of respect for the ancient liturgical texts so that they can shape the beliefs of the worshipping community.

I don't need anybody to lecture me about the shortcomings of the Novus Ordo. But, viewed incrementally, the first step in true liturgical restoration might be, not so much the immediate prohibition of the entire Novus Ordo as the immediate outlawing of those Cuckoo's Eggs in the Roman Liturgy: the unRoman and orientalising "Alternative Eucharistic Prayers".

18 July 2020

Pulpit manners

"I don't know when I've heard a discourse more to my mind. He reads extremely well , with great propriety and in a very impressive manner; and at the same time, without any theatrical grimace or violence. I own, I do not like much action in the pulpit -- I do not like the studied air and artificial inflexions of voice, which your very popular and most admired preachers generally have. A simple delivery is much better calculated to inspire devotion, and shows a much better taste. Mr Howard read like a scholar and a gentleman".

Thus a character in The Watsons, with Jane Austen's clear approval. When, recently, I was researching the Reverend Sir Harry Trelawny, Bart, I found a contemporary description of him which reminded me uncannily of the Reverend Mr Howard:
"... he performed the whole service with simplicity and devotion, and ... He has nothing studied in his manner or expression; he seems himself strongly to feel the divine truths he delivers, and makes a suitable impression on the minds of his attentive audience.".

This was penned within the same five or so years in which Jane Austen probably wrote The Watsons.

And we might move onwards a generation or so, to S John Henry Newman's pulpit manner: it is recorded that he, too, never waved his arms around or sought strange vocal effects. In the days when I was free of the extensive (and largely untapped) Victorian archives at Lancing, I read a description (I can't remember by whom) of going to S Mary's for the University Sermon; "Marriot, serviceable, but not the silver voice [of Newman]". (Perhaps it will be best if we refrain from investigating Fr Faber's pulpit manner ... there may be something in Knox's hint that it was really rather Methodist.)

Today is the Year's Mind of the incomparable Jane. She was second only to Newman in her satirical wit and devastating irony; she was a devout Churchwoman; she received the Blessed Sacrament on her death bed; she was unshockable in her detached observation of the adulteries of Georgian England ... but shocked only by the sight of a notorious adulteress "staying for the Sacrament". Please murmur an Ave for a brilliant woman who exemplified so much that was so good in Anglicanism before the Catholic Revival..

But that Anglican culture had its ... gaps. Not surprisingly, they were pointed out by S John Henry (Loss and Gain pt i cap xviii).  "[The Reverend Mr Reding] was a most respectable clergyman of the old school; pious in his sentiments, a gentleman in his feelings, exemplary in his social relations. He was no reader, and never had been in the way to gain theological knowledge; he sincerely believed all that was in the Prayer-book, but his sermons were very rarely doctrinal. They were sensible, manly* discourses on the moral duties. He administered holy communion at the three great festivals, saw his Bishop once or twice a year, was on good terms with the country gentleman in his neighbourhood, was charitable to the poor, hospitable in his housekeeping, and was a staunch though not a violent supporter of the Tory interest in his county. He was incapable of anything harsh, or petty, or low, or uncourteous; and died esteemed by the great houses about him, and lamented by his parishioners.".

Newman, I am sure, is luring us into asking: "So what on earth can possibly have been wrong with such a paragon?"

I will suggest: Excessive Inculturation into the social structures of Society! Together with a lack of a compelling feeling of the primacy of the supernatural; and an absence of that sense of sacrifice which is primarily expressed in Celibacy (vide pt iii cap ii, about the Bath bookshop in Danvers Street* ... perhaps the most savagely violent piece of sustained sarcasm in all Newman's oeuvre).

S John Henry would not have favoured 'Modified Celibacy'!

* 'Manly': my printed text (Burns Oates Washbourne) reads 'mainly'. I have no hesitation in emending. I wonder if an autograph text survives.
* Was there a Danvers Street in early Victorian Bath? Did it contain a bookshop? 


 

17 July 2020

The Third Marquis of Bute

As one does, I have been browsing through Sir David Hunter Blair's Memoire of Lord Bute ... the massively wealthy ivereightriggerwarning Victorian convert to Catholicism. Bute seems to have been unusual in more ways than one.

He supported Home Rule for Scotland; how much more civilised the history of the Three Kingdoms might have been in the twentieth century if Scotland and Ireland had indeed enjoyed such a status.

He spoke very well of the Maharajah of Baroda. Baroda was later to secure notoriety by his behaviour at the 1911 Durbar. British officials expected the "Native Princes" to turn up all frantically competing with each other in such matters as exotic garments and massive jewels ("Natives" are like that, y'know). They were expected to bow deeply three times to the "King Emperor" and then to retire without turning their backs on The Imperial Presence. Baroda arrived with the minimum of bling and nodded only once before turning his back and strolling away with a smile (he later explained that he had "missed the rehearsal"!). A man after my own heart ... does anybody ever want to Play the Game if given the alternative of being a Loose Cannon? Bute once met Baroda at a party and observed later how much better was his English than that of a British royal duke who was also present (poor imbecile sex-obsessed Clarence, possibly?); and how very much better were his manners. Baroda was an early member of the  Congress Party.

And Bute, Rector of St Andrews University, provided a lecturer for women medical students after a male lecturer refused to lecture to Anatomy classes which included women.

And he worked hard to found a Jewish college at St Andrews. Yes; I said Jewish.

I find something not totally unattractive, in retrospect, about the days when Catholics and Jews shouldered together the burden of the nasty prejudices of the nasty British cultural imagination. In the 1890s, a monster demonstration was held in a Clacton chapel to call for the expulsion of Jews and Catholics; happily, the God of Mount Sinai, God of the Seven Hills, decided it would be drole to burn the building down. The mob was, at bottom, quite right. Both Jews and Catholics had ... and surely must have ... an ultimate loyalty which transcends the Nation State of a Henry Tudor or an Adolf Hitler. The old notices "No Jews No Catholics" did express a horrible bigotry but it was a bigotry which discerned the glimmerings of a truth. Perhaps Catholics in this country lost something during the Basil Hume years when it seemed so important and so comfortable to be accepted as part of mainstream British society and culture. That state and that society by which they were so anxious to be tolerated is now in full view as the soft-fascist state which sponsors mass Abortion, dogmatically imposes 'gender' disorders, and even suspends the administration of the Sacraments.

Don't you think it would be awf'ly jolly if we snitched a page or two or three out of the Jewish book and composed an "International Definition of Anti-Catholicism", which Party Leaders and Universities would be expected to enforce?

Cats ... ... Pigeons ... ...

16 July 2020

Spiritus Sanctus in Sancta Ecclesia

The Holy Spirit is not Magic.

The"Holy Spirit" is not a magical incantation.

In fact, the Holy Spirit does work, and does work day by day, century by century, in the life of the Church. But, like a modest human being, He doesn't keep drawing showy attention to Himself. He doesn't parade around with banners proclaiming "I am the Holy Spirit and this is what I am ordering you to do". 

I offer you a passage by S John Henry Newman on how the Holy Spirit has so often guided the Ecclesia docens in past centuries.

"Perhaps a local teacher, or a doctor in some local school, hazards a proposition, and a controversy ensues. It smoulders or burns in one place, no one interposing; Rome simply lets it alone. Then it comes before a bishop; or some priest, or some professor in some other seat of learning takes it up; and then there is a second stage of it. Then it comes before a university, and it may be condemned by the theological faculty. So the controversy proceeds year after year, and Rome is still silent. An appeal perhaps is made to a seat of authority inferior to Rome; and then at last after a long while it comes before the supreme power. Meanwhile, the question has been ventilated and turned over and over again, and viewed on every side of it, and authority is called upon to pronounce a decision, which has already been arrived at by reason. But even then, perhaps the supreme authority hesitates to do so, and nothing is determined on the point for years; or so generally and vaguely, that the whole controversy has to be gone through again, before it is ultimately determined." 

I am aware that not every age calls for the same methods; but, so it seems to me, the Bergoglian approach ... this 'making of a mess' and this drawing of conclusions ... cronies claiming that the Holy Spirit is behind every innovation ... spokesmen assuring gullible dupes that, if the Holy Father realises he is running out of time, he will crank up the speed of his innovations ... all this seems to me to be, not only in degree but also in essence, different toto caelo from what S John Henry discerned in the history of the first Christian millennia. 

The whole notion of subjecting the Catholic Church to speedy transformatiion so that she becomes a sub-species of the Zeitgeist was tried in the 1960s, and we know what happened. Why are so many people so blind about the fact that the Enemy is trying the same tedious tricks again now?

There is one thing which is even worse than a Disaster: a boring Disaster. 

15 July 2020

Not a Norwegian

Is it right to show our Most Holy Redeemer as a Negro? I feel rather uneasy about it. He was not a Negro.

But I also feel uneasy about medieval and later art showing Him as a Northern European and his persecutors as exclusively people with strongly and stereotypically Jewish Faces..

To show Him and them thus is to do Marcionite art; it is reminiscent of the nonsense peddled by the 'German Christians' during Hitler's Reich, claiming that Galilee was a sort of Aryan, non-Jewish enclave.


He was neither a Negro nor a Norwegian. He was a Jew.

I have always admired the Caravaggio of the Supper at Emmaus (London NG), which seems to me to show Him, fittingly, as Jewish.

It would of course be acceptable to show His persecutors, or some of them, as Negro. And some as Norwegian and some as Jewish. We all crucified Him by our sins, which are many. Yes, even, but not only, Jews.

I crucified Him by my sins, which are many. Mr George Floyd, dare I say so, crucifed Him by his sins, which were many.

Bearded, shaven, long-haired, short-haired? How clothed?

The cultural lingua franc of that area at that time was Hellenistic. He pretty certainly did His teaching, or most of it, in Koine Greek. So show Him whatever way the experts tell you was common among culturally Hellenistic men of the 20s and 30s AD.

As far as personal and subjective aesthetic taste is concerned, I do rather like those jewel-like windows by Sir Ninian Comper (there's one at Walsingham), showing Him sitting in majesty as a clean-shaven young man. And those Pantocrators we see in Byzantine churches, His features sternly set in judgement. I rather wince at representations which seem to me embarrassingly androgynous (which includes quite a lot of Sacred Heart pictures).

Worst of all, of course, are those crucifixes popular among American Episcopalians a generation ago, showing the crucified figure as female. This seems to me the ultimate in Docetism.

If we're going to have controversy, let's compromise on the given and real specificity of the historical Incarnation: that means, on a masculine Jewish Jesus of Hellenistic culture.

14 July 2020

THE INCARNATE WISDOM UPDATED

There are reports that the Great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is going to be turned into a mosque.

This has hit me rather like a sudden blow in the belly.

PF has great experience of the rituals of kissing Orthodox hierarchs and asking to be blessed by them. This is the time for him to show solidarity by speaking out. He did, in the early days of his pontificate, bravely speak out about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians. He is, or once was, capable of it.

In our own Western lands, few things would do more to improve cultural relations than if the leaders of our own Islamic communities were to say, very loudly, NOT IN MY NAME.

Another eloquent gesture would be for those sponsoring an "Abrahamic House" in the Middle East to build the Christian component in that complex as a replica of Hagia Sophia. 

Yes; PF did protest!! Good for him.

Next question: the Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb, with whom PF signed that syncretistic document last year: has he protested against the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque? I can't find any such protest in the Media ... has anybody else seem a relevant news item?  Or, indeed, has anybody seen any reports of Islamic leaders anywhere rising in solidarity with their Christian 'partners in dialogue'?

Why so silent, brothers? Our ears are twitching with expectation.

The Cerne Abbas Giant

All tourists to this Sceptred Isle, as soon as we let them out of quarantine, flock to Dorsetshire to admire the Cerne Abbas Giant. On a chalkland hillside, cut into the grass turf, is the gigantic outline of  a naked man waggling a large club. He is endowed with a massive phallus which, come summer, come winter, is permanently at the ready. He is clearly one of the evidences of the pre-Christian Fertility Cult which was the religion of these islands before Swinburne's "Pale Galilaean" triumphed and the world grew grey from His breath; an age when men and women entertained happier, more wholesome, much more cheerful, notions of the divine. Admire the gracious rhythms of Nature's fertility! Three cheers for Gaia and for great Greta her priestess! A round of applause for the gallivanting girls of Wicca!

Except that this is all pretty certainly rubbish. Recently published provisional research suggests that the figure may have been carved as late as the middle of the seventeenth century (it is first recorded in 1694); and is pretty certainly of the second Christian millennium (dating of snail shells comes into this!). We may know more when soil samples have been analysed.

One theory is that this is an anti-Cromwellian mega-graffito: apparently the great Mr Genocide was sometimes shown with Herculean attributes, and this club-waggling figure would be a subversion of such tropes.

These investigations appear to have been encouraged by the admirable Ronald Hutton, who 'has form' in such studies. His work has undercut the old Thirties, anti-Christian, conviction that (despite the persecution of the Church) pre-Christian fertility cults survived among Europe's common folk. His 1996 Stations of the Sun disproves a great deal of this sort of stuff; and includes the following rather jolly story.

In 1929, some woman called Banks, later President of the Folk-Lore Society, visited the May Day revels at Padstow in Cornwall. One of the officiants was dressed as a woman. This fitted Banks's idea that the rite was a relic of a pagan 'Sacred Marriage' between earth and sky; the presence of a man-woman was essential to her theory. She was delighted!

Two years later, she returned. And that character was no longer in drag! She gave him a a fine public telling-off for "spoiling the rite". He as angrily told her that there was no one traditional costume for the part. "For once", comments Hutton, "the bonds of social deference snapped"!

Other examples of mythical survivals of mythical paganism: The 'Green Man' often found in medieval art used to be seen as a fertility symbol; that idea has disappeared in academe although it still does the rounds in popular 'guide books'. Another alleged 'fertility symbol' was the Shenanigan, a female figure with her legs wide apart and her hands holding her vagina open. Despite Victorian ideas of propriety, she survives in many English and Irish medieval churches. Current thinking is that the topos may be a dissuasio Libidinis rather than a pre-Christian celebration of the sacrality of female generative processes. (Medieval men, silly fellows, seem to have shared the inexplicable conviction of their Greeks and Roman counterparts that women are sexually insatiable.)

And, looking briefly at a broader canvas, the notion that much Minoan iconography expressed the pre-Patriarchal 'Matriarchal Religion' of Europe in the second millennium ante Christum (an idea which so excited Robert Graves) has had a bit of a hard time since the deciphering of the Linear B tablets revealed the prominence in Bronze Age Cretan cult of the familiar male Gods we know from Classical Greek Literature.

13 July 2020

Christine Mohrmann

Today is the Year's Mind of a woman who could fairly be considered the greatest mind in Catholic historical studies of the last century.

Christine Mohrmann (1903-1988) took a Tardis (a type of British Time Travel Machine) back to the earliest Christian centuries, travelling via philology. Her minute and erudite study of Christian Latin (and Greek) enabled her to demonstrate that it was a distinct dialect of Latin which grew up ... and, to a degree, was consciously devised ... by the Christian communities. She rescued it from the contempt of all the poor little schoolboys who had been brainwashed into thinking of Latin as meaning the "Classical" Latin of Cicero, so that any prose that differed from Tully's was to be deemed degenerate.

This was not a new error. When Urban VIII, Papa Barberini, 'reformed' the Breviary hymns in the 1630s so that they looked as if they had been written by Horace, he was victim of the same disastrous mistake. Vatican II wisely ordered that the texts of the hymns should be restored to their original state (obviously, nobody revealed to the Council Fathers that, within five years, recitation of the Office in Latin would have all but disappeared).

But those tinkerings were confined to the Corpus Hymnorum. In Mohrmann's own days, the great perpetrator of this same superstition was a fly-blown German Jesuit called Bea. In collaboration with Pius XII, Papa Pacelli (whose influence on the Liturgy was the beginning of the rot), this person produced a new translation of the Psalter which defenestrated the Latin of the Fathers, of the Vulgate, and of the Liturgy. It was approved for optional use. To this day, if you buy a second-hand breviary from the 1940s or 1950s, it is important to check that it does not include the Bea Psalter. Incidentally ...  good news ... that Psalter was implicitly consigned to the bin by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. (The 'Neo-Vulgate' authorised by S John Paul II does not contain so much as a hint of the disastrous Pius XII/Bea project.)

Mohrmann's studies led her to a strong belief in the necessity for a special priestly hieratic language in the Liturgy (an idea which might not have seemed outrageous to Orthodox Jews!). So (with exceptions such as the lections) she was strongly opposed to use of the vernacular in Liturgy. Not absolutely opposed; it was just that she felt that no modern European vernacular was anything like ready ... that is, sacral enough ... to be employed at the altar.

By the 1960s, direction of the (originally admirable) bandwaggon labelled "Liturgical Movement" had fallen into bad hands. Most of its adherents were by now second rate and semi-literate camp-followers out to make their careers. Even the ones, like Dom Bernard Botte, who were not illiterate were academically flawed. In Botte's case the root problem was his conviction that a weird document then mistakenly identified as the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus was the Liturgy of early third century Rome, a view widespread in the 1960s but now no longer held. As a result of this mistake, the "Second Eucharistic Prayer", now almost universally and exclusively used by Modernist clergy, was put into the Missal, and a rite for the Consecration of Bishops was, scandalously, inserted into the Pontifical, displacing the immemorially ancient Roman Prayer for making bishops.

The Enemy had so far corrupted Catholic Academe that the work of Mohrmann -- and its practical implications -- were ignored, just when they were most needed, throughout the Conciliar and post-Conciliar periods.

What a neat, what a decisive triumph for Evil.

Her seminal 1957 work Liturgical Latin Its Origins and Character can still be purchased: I know, because, a few years ago, a kind benefactor sent me a copy, reprinted by "Maximus Scriptorius". I was thus enabled to dump the tattered photocopies upon which I had previously relied!

She was, she is, a very great woman. May she rest in peace.

12 July 2020

Communion in the Hand (4)

My cards are on the table. I think reception kneeling is the most important ritual adjunct to Holy Communion. Not that I in any way deny the very great propriety and suitability of receiving in os. It is certainly to be strongly encouraged in all three forms of the Roman Rite.

In the Church of England, before the 'Catholic Revival', reception was in manum. It had not always been so. In his first (1549) essay at a vernacular rite, Cranmer laid down that the Host should be received in the mouth. This was because people "many tymes conveyghed the same secretly awaye, kept it with them, and diversely abused it". At that stage, hosts were still unleavened bread, and round, thereby setting them aside from the common estimation of common bread. (The main change which Cranmer's rite ordered was that hosts should be broken, "and menne muste not thynke lesse to be receyved in parte then in the whole, but in eache of them the whole body of our savioure Jesu Christ". Not very Zwinglian language! My own suspicion is that this is an example of linguistic habits trailing some way behind a man's latest speculative musings.)

In his second Prayer Book, Cranmer changed things so that the consecrated Bread was delivered into the hands of the communicants. At the same time, he changed his earlier requirement of unleavened, round, hosts, to this: "it shall suffyse that the bread be such as is usuall to bee eaten at the Table wyth other meates ...". In these changed circumstances, he probably thought that nobody was now likely to bother to "conveygh the same secretly awaye".

As for kneeling, Cranmer, even at his most Zwinglian, retained it. Faced with strong pressure to rescind the practice, he tartly pointed out that, since "the Booke" had been through all its Parliamentary stages and received Royal Assent, making changes would be legally questionable. "The Counsell" contented itself with gumming their illegal "Black Rubric" (denying "anye reall and essenciall presence") into the already printed Prayer Books. Happily, a few months later Good Queen Mary was on the throne, and right-thinking people were organising big bonfires, just as, in 1549, many of them had already done once. Fire is so very cleansing.

In the Church of England, in which I ministered for more than four decades, well-instructed devout lay persoms who are not High Church communicate kneeling, with their hands stretched out, the left hand "making a throne" for the right hand ... which is flat. The host having been placed on the palm of the right hand, the worshipper brings his tongue down to the host and, using the natural moisture of the tongue, takes the host into his mouth. It is good practice to keep the palm of one's right hand clean by not having used it "to exchange a sign of Peace"; and to check, after Communion, that there are no tiny crumbs left.

I also have quite a bit of experience of the Church of Ireland, which traditionally was thought of as a rather Protestant couple of provinces, and which continued to prescribe the use of leavened bread. The amiable and civilised Ned Darling, Bishop of Limerick (and of seven other places) showed me how to prepare the bread. One rolled it flat, and then cut it into neat squares with a sharp knife. This meant that one never (in my experience) had any problem whatsoever with crumbs.

And, while the 'Catholics' down the road strolled nonchalantly around their church to collect a host and then communicated themselves with it while still walking, in the Church of Ireland the communicants reverently knelt. I know which usage seems to me the more congruent with the Eucharistic dogmatic teaching of the Council of Trent!

Incidentally and irrelevantly, I am referring to Knightstown on Valentia Island, where S John Baptist's C of I Church was built by an ancestor of Sir Adrian Fitzgerald, Hereditary Knight of Kerry, Knight of Malta, Patron of the Latin Mass Society.

11 July 2020

The TABLET takes an interest in Oxford!!!

A DELATOR has graciously taken an interest in the Catholic life of this City! He has done this in the traditional Tabletista way of complaining via that periodical about a priest of the diocese.

English Catholics remember the trials to which Fr Tim at Blackfen was subjected some years ago. Fr Tim is a priest of great learning and great pastoral instincts. 

And so is Fr John Saward, pp of SS Gregory and Augustine in the North of Oxford. He is a dogmatic theologian and spiritual writer of enormous ability. Like Fr Tim, he is a former Seminary professor.

And Fr John is uneasy about the reverence ... or rather, irreverence ... involved in administering Holy Communion according to the present CBCEW regulations. (Vide my posts over the last four days.)

I would not like you to get the impression that a member of his congregation has made a complaint. Most certainly not. Indeed, the diocese of Birmingham is at pains to make exactly this clear. There has been no complaint to Father; there has been no complaint to the diocese.

Instead, a complaint to the Tablet, which has then ... you'd never have guessed, would you? ... passed the complaint on to the diocese.

The DELATOR did not put himself to the irritating trouble of actually attending public worship. Oh dear me No; these people are not as crude as that. Peering at a sophisticated screen, he watched a 'streamed' Mass and then took out his subtle pen.

But perhaps this is the time to offer constructive suggestions. So ... ...

One of the concerns of Governments and Hierarchies making regulations about public worship during this pandemic is, absolutely rightly, to discourage people from projecting potentially infected particles from their mouths in the direction of congregations. Medical opinion still seems uneasily uncertain about how far such projection might reach and how effective masks really are.

Father has been very careful about this. His care has taken the immensely sensible form of celebrating ad Orientem. At a time when, unhappily, there are still some priests who, despite the wise advice of Cardinal Sara, still persist in celebrating versus populum, surely Fr Saward should be given the credit for going this extra mile in the battle against the plague. 

And surely, strong pressure should be put on other clergy to follow the same responsible and pastoral policy.

Why should congregations be put at risk, just because of clerical caprice, in the interests of some rigid 'liberal' shibboleth? 

10 July 2020

Communion in the Hand (3)

But Stay. Surely, we should find out what the Primitive Church did at Communion time, and just follow that?

Fair enough. But we shall still need to sort out some of the more minor details. For example: when we prostrate ourselves flat upon the ground before Communion, should we (1) kiss the ground; or (2) kiss the priest's foot? (Or both?) 'Primitive' usage appears to have differed from place to place. (2) could be deemed a breach of social-distancing. But if we do (1), might this not spread the virus if we all kiss the same spot upon the ground?

Should we touch the Lord's Body to our eyes? Not a bad idea, emphasising the importance of custody-of-the-eyes. If my lips are moist from the Chalice, should I touch that moisture to all my senses? How about the common ancient custom of communicating bare-foot? But this might  lead to a spate of shoe-thieves infesting our churches. Just imagine the clustering spivs outside the Brompton Oratory after Sunday Mass: "'Ere, Missus, pair of Gucci double G ankle-boots 'ardly worn at all fifty quid to you."

I hope it will not seem that I am writing irreverently in highlighting the the variety of customs common in antiquity ... indeed, throughout the first Christian millennium. In fact, I am going to make the point that all this bewildering diversity expresses one single very simple and extremely important perception.

Receiving Holy Communion is such an immensely significant action that it ought to be surrounded by a lot of fuss and bother, tons and tons and tons of ritual and 'palaver'.

For this reason, it seems to me that kneeling is, in many ways, more important than the question of hand or mouth. Not that I am criticising or discouraging in os. I am saying what I am saying: that I think kneeling is even more important.

One more part in this series.

9 July 2020

Our Lady of Aberdeen

Today is the Festival of our Lady of Aberdeen; in the old days, in the Diocese of Aberdeen, Double of the First Class with an Octave; under the Novus Ordo, I gather, a Sollemnitas thoughout the Kingdom of Scotland but, strangely, without an Octave. My friend Fr Michael Mary, on my visit to Papa Stronsay, gave me a booklet with fantastic pictures.

Until the Reformation, the statue was in Aberdeen, perhaps in the medieval Cathedral. But the original statue (replaced now in Aberdeen's Catholic Cathedral with a copy) is currently in Brussels ...

The Aberdeen Journal recorded the "common belief of the vulgar people that the statue was thrown into the sea at Aberdeen and carried on the waves of the sea miraculously to Ostend". Historical evidence, however, suggests that the 'translation' of the statue was a little more prosaic. But she got there (just as our Lady of Ipswich got to Nettuno), and so escaped the Scotch Reformation. Duffy illustrates how, in England, the contents of churches were 'laundered' around faithful parishioners until the happy days returned; and comparisons of inventories suggest that, in the years before the Tudor despoliation, vast amounts ... incredibly vast amounts ...of stuff just disappeared, rather than fall into the hands of the Edwardine regime. I bet things were very similar in the Northern Kingdom.

There was an attractive hymn to our Lady of Aberdeen in use among Aberdonian Catholics; the first three stanzas had the refrain Bring the old Faith back to Scotland / Our Lady of Aberdeen. It contained plain historical facts, such as The love of God grows cold / In a country that has forgotten / The saving truths of old; statements of the obvious, like The ashes of faith still smoulder / where the fire of the Faith has been; and rousing descriptions with which all right-thinking people would agree: In the happy days of old / Men deck'd thy gracious image / With silver and with gold; / Though darker days succeeded / Thou still art Scotland's Queen / Come back, come back to Scotland, / Our Lady of Aberdeen.

That hymn was pretty well totally rewritten in the enlightened pontificate of Bishop Conti, anno 1983. For example, the last of the quotations I have just offered you became Once by this comely shore / Men looked to thy protection ...

The only surviving words from the original version are men and thy. And uet they are words which are now disallowed!!


Yes, you know what I'm going to say ... 1983 was just about the tipping point when one stopped being allowed to use men in this inclusive way; and archaic pronouns were already a good decade out of date.

Amusing, yes?

8 July 2020

Communion in the hand (2)

But what about those of you who reject the Conciliar and post-Conciliar 'reforms? OK, you reject Memoriale Domini of 1969. But where does that leave you?

As we saw, Memoriale Domini rightly says that the Latin custom of receiving in os 'rests' (innititur) on the custom handed down by many ages. But it cites no legislative enactments. The Old Missal does not mention the communion of the People at all in the Ordo Missae; one has to turn for that to the Rituale Romanum. Here, there are varous requirements: communicants should have been to Confession; be fasting since midnight; be kneeling on both knees; and, as far as possible, with men separated from women. All of which sounds good to me. But nothing about mouths or hands.

Perhaps a canonist might argue that the mandate of 1929 (YES! as recently as that!) requiring the use of the Communion patten implied in os. But, frankly, it didn't. And a theologian might point out with warm approval the very considerable weight attached in Memoriale Domini to Tradition. Fair enough. I would agree. But Memoriale Domini left Episcopal Conference free to request a differemt usage, and Rome started issuing dispensations within days. Was everything, you suggest, so obvious pre-1962 that it seemed unnecessary to spell it out? Possibly; but that can be a dangerous argument.

Of course, Traditionalists will be the last people to wish to abandon a mos plurium saeculorum. Nor would I wish them to. But it seems to me that the matter is not quite as tightly and explicitly tied up in the legislation pre-1962 surrounding the Mass of Ages, the Vetus Ordo, as it is in the rules of 1969 and later, relating to the Novus Ordo. 
 
Pre-Vatican II, there is at least the arguable possibility of wriggle room. Post-Vatican II, the law is rigid to the point of being Mosaic: lay folk desiring Communion in os are entitled to it.

So what is going on? I am sure that the Catholic Bishops, learned and principled men, know what they are doing. Given the admirable subtilty of their minds, I feel it is our duty to read-between-the-lines and thus to discover what they really want us to do.


So here is my hypothesis. What they are saying, with a nudge-nudge here and a wink-wink there, is: "During this pandemic crisis, we want all our clergy exclusively to use the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and to use its gaps and ambiguities to administer Communion only in the hand." 

They are surely entitled to expect adherence to an expectation so simple and sensible.

Continues. 

7 July 2020

Communion in the hand? Why I am Infuriated (1)

Well, y'know, I started writing this in a state of fury. Y'see, I thought I'd better read the 1969 decree Memoriale Domini of the Liturgy dicastery, all about the methods of receiving Holy Communion. But ... could I find the actual text anywhere on the internet? Answer: No! So in the end ... I hate doing this because it always seems to end up with lots of tedious scrolling up and down ... I turned to Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1969 pp 541sqq, and read quickly through it (it's not very long) right down to the last line. That last line consists of the great name, the name above (or rather, below) all other names ... that of the Worshipful Grand Master of Liturgy himself, H Bugnini. (Even in this blog, I bet there are readers so ignorant that they weren't aware that 'Annibale' starts with an H. Now you know.)

Of course, for those of you, megatraddies, who refuse any and every piece of liturgical legislation later than the Council of Laodicea oops I meant Vatican II, Memoriale Domini  is out-of-court. 1969 is well after the Council; well after the cut-off point of 1962 as appointed by Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum. So you will not be AT ALL interested in the facts that (1) it orders Communion in the mouth to be retained (servari debet, non solum quia in tradito plurium saeculorum more innotitur, sed praesertim quia Christifidelium reverentiam erga Eucharistiam significat); (2) it leaves the door a few millimetres ajar for exceptions to be made; and (3) it preserves the right of faithful Christians to receive in the mouth even where permission has been given for optional reception in the hand. For you hardline Extraordinary Form traditionalists, none of this has any relevance at all. That is why I have not just explained it with such care.

But for keen post-Concilar types, Bugniniphiles; Tablet readers; many Bishops; the clear directive here is that a layperson who wishes to reive in os must be allowed to do so. And these safeguards have been iterated since 1969. Bugnini locutus est, causa finita est, as S Augustine put it after he sacked his girl-friend. Obedience is important! Bow, bow, before his daughter-in-law elect!!

I shall delete unread any comments offered before I have completed this post in a day or two.

6 July 2020

Departed Worlds??? (1)

A Patrimonial friend once passed on to me a dear little volume called Euchologium Anglicanum; and, if that very title isn't an echo of an Anglican culture which has passed away, what is? It was printed in 1963. Could one imagine, in 2015, such a name being given to such a book anywhere in this solar system? But stay: let me tell you how it came into existence, and what it contains.

John Eyre Winstanley Wallis, sometime Scholar of Brasenose College in this University, and from 1945 Canon Chancellor of Lichfield Cathedral (d.1957), had begun to compose devotions for use after the Third Collect at Sunday Evensong in his Cathedral. "It seemed to me that the early Sacramentaries supplied the very models that I wanted, Christian but not technical. I set to work first to translate prayers from these, but I was driven in time to write prayers."

And at the beginning of 1957, Wallis proposed to a friend (and undergraduate contemporary), F C Geary, Fellow of Corpus 1928-1952, that he, Geary, provide Latin versions to accompany the English prayers Wallis had been "driven ... to write": "The Latin ... will be used mainly by the Vicar and his educated laity at their prayer desks, where the work of engaging the mind with the heart in its devotions is very greatly assisted by the use of Latin ...". In his Foreward, Geary remarks that Wallis's own English compositions were "based ... on the language and rhythms of the early Sacramentaries, which from long study were familiar to him".

If all that doesn't bring tears to your eyes, O ye hard of heart, nothing will. It conjures up a picture in which the parson knows the Roman Sacramentaries and his 'educated laity' understand how Latin would enrich their life of private prayer; a picture in which gentle and scholarly priests make their way across the Cathedral Close as formidably learned spinster ladies critically dissect last Sunday's sermons after collating manuscripts in the Chapter Library. Whatever happened to all that? Is it not a Departed World??? And, while that world had its lacunae, are we the better off or the worse off for its demise? For those of us with age and memories, it is perhaps suggestive ... and chilling ... to think how different the 1970s were from the 1950s. Yes ... you see what I mean! Just suppose the 1960s had never happened! And Euchologium Anglicanum wasn't the only little book to be published in 1963, was it ... ? But more of that later.

You want to know about F C Geary? You want to read examples of these prayers? And so you shall!

5 July 2020

Three Emigre French clergy

At the beginning of May in 1619, a Carmelite House was founded at Antwerp for exiled English recusant ladies. The community in 1794 transferred to Lanherne in Cornwall. If you discount a recent hiatus of three or four years, there are four centuries of Carmelite continuity now represented at Lanherne.

During one of my early visits there, "We'll put out the five kilo chasuble" said Reverend Mother through the grille. "It dates from when the House was opened in Antwerp in 1619. But we'll also put out a lighter chasuble in case it's too much for you."

Of course, I wore the five kilo chasuble, its embroidery a heavy riot of baroque cornucopias. How could one resist such a challenge? After Mass, as I left the Chapel, and looked at the gravestones surrounding the first millenium crucifix outside the door, this inscription caught my eye: Beneath is interred the Rev Louis Dourlen Chaplain of Lanherne formerly priest of the Diocese of St Omers and Canon of Arras Cathedral 1839. Aged 85.

It suddenly dawned upon me that M le Chanoine would very probably have worn that five kilo chasuble; the penny dropped that he must have been a gentleman clergyman who had left France during its Revolutionary troubles. I later discovered (George Oliver, Collections, page 287) that Dourlen joined, for a while, the considerable community (unmentioned by Jane Austen) of French emigres in Bath. There, "he was much respected and esteemed for his integrity and polished manners"; he was gout-ridden but never wore spectacles! I suppose he was in his thirties when Arras Cathedral was declared the Temple of Reason and, presumably, he lost the stipends of his canonry (so it is no surprise that, according to a Guide to Regency Bath, he was available to give French lessons!). The Cathedral was subsequently demolished.

I have recently written about an Abbe Chauvel, whose life was interwoven with the activities of the Catholic Trelawnys. Tentatively, I wonder if he may be the cleric listed as "A Pannece. Chauvel (Jean), ex-vicaire; y exerce. Insoumis, peu eclaire, sans moyens, tres pieux" (E Sevestre, Le clerge Breton en 1801 d'apres les enquetes prefectorales de l'an IX et l'an X conservees aux archives nationales). Peu eclaire! what an accolade! Faxit Deus ...

There were some 5,000 emigre clergy from France in this country after the Revolution, including thirty bishops. They were organised by the Bishop of Saint Pol de Leon, Jean Francois de la Marche, who had escaped to England in the spring of 1791. He played a big role in organising the emigre clergy of London; Sir Harry Trelawny could have known him in London before the bishop's death in 1806. But, although Wilson records that Trelawny spent "a considerable time" in Saint Pol de Leon, it is not easy to see how he could have done this at the same time as while de la Marche was resident in his See.

These clergy ... confessores Fidei in the old sense ... had lived through the days when the ambiguities of the Oath, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and of the Concordat tried the consciences of the Clerus Gallicanus; the despoiling of the Church in the Hiberian and Italian peninsulars; the period in 1799 when "the last pope" died, a lonely prisoner of the triumphant and invincible French revolutionary regime ... the pope at whose death the long history of the Catholic Church came, manifestly, unmistakably, definitively, to its end: and the gates of Hell prevailed, as the Enemy had always known they certainly would.


As people say, the rumours of the Catholic Church's demise were much exaggerated. Pius VI did, after all, have a successor, and Bonaparte was, happily, ultimately vincible. There are no historical inevitables except the Church's indefectibility.

Ambiguities; ruptures; continuities. The Church Militant always has, in her institutions, even in the Papacy, a tension between continuita interiore and appearances of discontinuity.

Does her life really change much?

4 July 2020

The New Normal

Well, in these kingdoms our rulers, gracious and sympathetic persons, are permitting layfolk to attend the Sacraments from now onwards (provided pastors jump through a large number of ingenious hoops). Similar things may be happening in other lands.

Personally, given PF's insistent claim to be opposed to something he has been pleased to call "clericalism", I am surprised that he has been so happy about a situation in which the clergy have been able, indeed, encouraged, to offer the August Sacrifice daily in their homes, while the Holy People of God have been  forced to undergo a "Eucharistic Fast". He is even reported to have described Lombard clergy who, in breach of the de facto Interdict, have ministered to their people, as "adolescent". I shall never understand this remarkable man or his ever-more-bulging lexicon of insults. Having once insulted grandmothers, what is his strategy in now insulting adolescents? Is it simply his innate Argentinian sense of fair play?

But life has not stood still during these last months. It is no secret that many clergy have been spending their lock-down time teaching themselves the Old Rite. And others have been streaming celebrations of the Old Rite from their churches, thereby making it easy for the even moderately curious lay person to sample it ... painlessly ...

I think we should pray for priests and people in this new situation; for the enrichment of both; thanking God for these new opportunities to reappropriate the authentic liturgical patrimony of the Latin Churches; begging Him that it may bear a rich fruit.


"Eucharistic Fast" is a concept some of us have experienced before. When the Ordinariates were erected, it was somehow decided (no sign of it in Anglicanorum coetibus) that incoming Anglicans should be required to spend a non-sacramental few weeks between leaving the Church of England on Shrove Tuesday and being received into Full Communion. Playful people referred to it as "detox"!

No explanation of the theology or purpose of this policy was ever given. At a clergy meeting with our Anglican 'flying bishops' together with a RC bishop, I publicly asked where this idea came from. In a very embarrassing moment, the Anglican bishops pointed at the RC bishop ... and he pointed at them!! Afterwards, I was quietly told that the insistence upon this came from somewhere within the CBCEW.

3 July 2020

Silly Question ...

Exactly where is it laid down that Holy Communion in the Extraordinary Form must be given in os? My 1912 Rituale makes clear that communicants must be kneeling and that men and women should be separate, but I can't find in os.

Fr Michael Melrose of S Giles, Reading


I inherited a fine collection of liturgical books from Father; in one of them was this old prayer card.

IPSE DOMINUS HOSTIA OMNIUM SACERDOTUM EST. IPSIQUE SUNT HOSTIAE SACERDOTES. S Paulinus de Nola

MICHAEL MELROSE
offered for the first time to the honour
and propitiation
of Almighty God
the Most August Sacrifice of the Mass
for the Peace of Holy Church
a blessing on all his friends and for
himself the gift of apostolic and
priestly charity.
ALL SAINTS CHELMSFORD
JULY 3rd, 1972*

O ADMIRABILE COMMERCIUM

Father was a shy and bookish and devout priest deeply loved and trusted by his people. I have very little doubt that he would have been with us in the Ordinariate. His predecessor, Blessed John Eynon, was a Benedictine monk (probably) of Reading Abbey and pp of S Giles, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered  together with Abbot Faringdon, on November 15, 1539.

* By 1972, I presume that the Church of England had invented "the Petertide Ordinations". They did this not so much out of an exuberant affection for the See of Rome as out of a desire to get a full academic year in before the main ordinations. Trinity Sunday, drat it, was inconveniently situated. They even had the nerve to reposition the Ember Week. Thus ordinati were deprived of the joy of reading Isaiah 6 (both in the C of E Lectionary and the Old Roman Breviary) at Mattins on the morning of their ordination and on its subsequent anniversaries.

Fr Melrose presumably said his first Mass on the Monday after being priested on the Sunday.

2 July 2020

MYSTERIUM FIDEI

There is some discussion on the Internet ... again! ... about the phrase 'Mystery of Faith', in the Institution Narrative of the Roman Rite.

I published the following in August last year. In my view, it explains exactly what the phrase is taken to mean, and why it was inserted into the Words of Consecration of the Chalice. So I've sharpened it up a bit and now I reoffer it to you.

A striking characteristic of the Roman Institution Narrative is its determination to gather in whatever can be found in Scripture ... and, by that, we mean the Hebrew Scriptures as well as what we call the New Testament. Too often even Catholics, who should know better, fail to comprehend the Scriptures holistically as a single narrative of Salvation History in which everything relates to everything.

(1) So we say that the Lord took hunc praeclarum calicem ["this excellent chalice"]. This phrase is gathered into the Last Supper Narrative from Psalm 22:5 [The Lord is my shepherd...]. A dreary 'Enlightenment' approach might tediously discuss the date and authorship of the psalm, and would implicitly ignore the Eucharistic reference, obvious to any Catholic or Orthodox, of calix meus quam praeclarus est. But we are Catholics.

(2) The words about the Lord lifting his eyes to heaven ... you will have noticed that these are gathered into the Institution Narrative from the Feedings of the 5,000 and the 4,000 recorded in Scripture, which we recognise as Eucharistic anticipations.

(3) Our Covenant is not only the  Covenant [Testament] which lies at the heart of the 'Old Testament'; it is also 'New' (I Corinthians 11:25), and additionally 'Eternal' (Psalm 110:9; Ecclus.17:12; 45: 15: etc.).So "New" and "Eternal" are gathered into the story of the Last Supper.

(4) The most puzzlement is caused by the words Mysterium Fidei. Jungmann rightly dismisses as "poetry, not history" the theory that these were words originally spoken by the Deacon. Baseless myths, however, die hard and after Vatican II it became yet another silly (and illegal) fad to give these words to the Deacon.

I am quite sure that the phrase was gathered into the Consecration of the Chalice from I Timothy 3:9, which talks about the deacons "holding the Mystery of Faith". Since the Deacon was commonly regarded as having a special responsibility for the Chalice (at High Mass he still joins the Priest in offering the Chalice), "holding the Mystery of Faith" was taken to be equivalent to "holding the Chalice".

So "Mystery of Faith" in the Roman rite means the Chalice of the Lord's Blood.

So, just as "this excellent chalice" and "lifting up His eyes to heaven" and "New" Covenant and "Eternal' were gathered into the Institution Narrative from elsewhere in Holy Scripture, so also the Apostle's words about the Deacons "holding" [ekhontas] the "Mystery of Faith" were understood as referring to the Chalice and gathered into the account of the Last Supper.

The Next Conclave

A couple of years ago, to cheer myself up a bit, I drafted this piece, so as to have it at the ready in case something interesting happened. It then went on hold. But, since the admirable Ed Pentin has a book coming out marking up the odds on the front runners, I have decided to put this humble piece before you now.

I think I am among many who feel that the method of electing a Roman Pontiff has become disfunctional to the point of being calamitous.

The electorate ... the College of Cardinals ... Purpurati Patres ... once consisted, theologically, of the clerus of the Holy Roman Church. Although a man might be Primate of some great regional See, he took part in this election qua being the presbyter of a Roman titular Church ... or the Deacon of one of its Deaconries (remember that in the earlier centuries the Roman Deacons were very powerful men) ... or the Bishop of one of the suburbicarian bishoprics.

In formal terms, this system was structurally corrupted in the latter part of the twentieth century. S John XXIII decreed that all the members of this body should receive episcopal consecration; which sends out precisely the wrong message. (Benedict XVI only half-heartedly retreated from this mistake when he laudably restored the practice of the Cardinal Deacons wearing dalmatics.) And some of the Oriental Patriarchs were made members of the Order of Cardinal Bishops, again corrupting its essential character as part of the clerus Romanus. But perhaps these are pedantic details compared with the practical change brought about by the great increase in the numbers of this electorate.

No longer was the Sacred College a small group of perhaps twenty or twenty-four members who knew each other. In the sixteenth century (with another hike in the twentieth century) it became a large body in which forceful men with a flair for organisation, or a group who had plotted their tactics in advance of the Conclave, could ... organise matters. PF has stopped the Consistories at which, before this pontificate, the Cardinals could discuss matters together with Parrhesia. There are natural suspicions that he has done this because he wishes to restrict, in any way he can, the possibilities for realistic interaction between the members of the next Conclave. He wants a compliant assembly in which sharp men can fix another coup.

Nescioquis dicet: "But a long Conclave would be disastrous. Anything rather than that!"

Oh Yeah? Prospero Lambertini was so fortunately elected pope on 17 August 1740; his predecessor had died on the 8th of February. That is an interregnum of some six months. Was this disastrous? Does the Catholic Church cease to exist when she "has no visible Head"? Of course not. Given the august and Petrine Majesty, the God-given Primacy, of the Roman See, a long interregnum in that See might indeed weaken the Church Universal (some readers may feel that a good long inerregnum would, however, be prefereable to another disordered pontificate ... I couldn't possibly comment). But we surely need to believe that the Church, in all its essential functions, continues to exist during a papal interregnum. And, after the death of Clement IV in 1268, it was two years, nine months, and two days before Blessed Gregory IX was elected. And how do we juggle with the Great Western Schism and the adage Papa dubius Papa nullus? Moreover, during the earlier period known as the Pornocracy, although there was a formal succession of popes, they were men of infamous, depraved, and murderous natures; it is hard to resist the conclusion that the Universal Church was indeed deprived of the genuine exercise of the Petrine Ministry. A characteristic mode of papal succession in that period became the murder of one's predecessor. Unsurprisingly, it is still a matter of academic uncertainty which of those blood-stained Pontiffs is to be deemed "validly" to have secured the cathedra Petri.

In my view, the first sign that things are going well in the next Conclave will be ... if it turns out to be a very long one.

Why are Popes nowadays elected so rapidly? It is, surely, a function of the maudlin and sickly Personality Cult which has deformed and unbalanced the Catholic Church especially since the 1930s. Even when the Roman Pontiff was still the 'Prisoner in the Vatican', Eugenio Pacelli invented, as Cardinal Secretary of State, the idea of a quasi-papal travelling circus framing himself ... from which he acquired the nicknames Il Vice-Papa, Il Cardinale volante. This phenomenon, so demeaning to the Local Churches, created a situation in which, at the next Conclave, he was elected pope on (was it?) the third ballot. And that is more or less where we are now. Adoring, febrile mobs jostle as they await the white smoke, while, inside the Sistine Chapel, the electors convince themselves that, once it is clear which way the ballots seem to be tending, it will Look Better to the Customers if matters are made pretty unanimous pretty quickly. Hence, the almost inevitability, nowadays, of the Two or Three Day Conclave.

If we had, say, a two-month Conclave, the crowds of excited tourists and giggling nuns might just possibly have thinned out a bit.

The modern two-day Conclave easily feeds into the gross and embarrassing superstition that popes are chosen by God Himself (probably God the Holy Spirit). When John Paul I was elected, I remember Cardinal Hume making a characteristically foolish remark: "For my part, he was God's Candidate". While the inscrutable designs of Providence are indeed beyond our reckoning, in human terms it did seem to me almost funny when 'God's Candidate' was so decisively snatched from us a mere month later. Despite Joseph Ratzinger's gently ironic but firm dismissal of this sort of nonsense, from here it was a straight line of development to today and to the pernicious errors of Bergoglianism. A central feature of this phenomenon is: the Pontiff is surrounded by cronies and sycophants determined to assure the world that he is the Voice of God, the Mouthpiece of the Spirit. And, possibly blasphemously, references to the "Holy Spirit" and to his close associate "the God of Surprises" are used to shortcut the normal and wholesome (if often lengthy) processes by which the Petrine See had, over centuries, functioned within the Church and served the great good of the Church.

If I had anything to do with Conclave arrangements, I would fix things so that the food got better and better within the Conclave as its weeks lengthened into months. And the wine became ever more plentiful. After two months, I would transfer the whole Conclave, lock, stock, and barrel, to Lake Garda and borrow some houris from PF's Islamic chums ... 'Ecumenical Feminae Probatae' they could be  called.

So much is so wrong that it is hard to be very optimistic about the next Conclave. But, for me, the longer it takes, the more I will, in my subjective, fallible way, suspect that, possibly, just some of Their Eminences may have smuggled in their rosaries.