20 April 2019

In Magno Sabbato

                                          IEIUNIUM PASCHALE

19 April 2019

In Parasceve Domini

                                                     IEIUNIUM PASCHALE.

18 April 2019

'qualiter ... immolatus vicerit'

As we come to the Pascha itself ... in the older understanding of that term, found in the Homilies of S Leo ... this blog will fall silent. On Friday and Saturday, I shall simply mark my blog IEIUNIUM PASCHALE -- the Paschal Fast. This Fast appears to go back to before the invention of Lent; these two Days are not technically part of Lent. If you never quite got round to a proper Lenten observance, surely you ... we ... could manage just two days?

There used to be a simplistic error to the effect that the Eastern Christians, with their superior wisdom, emphasised the glorious and joyful triumph of the Resurrection, while we poor plodding unsophisticated Occidentals were preoccupied with the gloom of the Passion. Happily, we hear less of this, not least because of the sensible insistence of Metropolitan Callistus Ware that it was a nonsense.

But I simply don't see how anybody could ever have looked at the Roman Rite and claimed that it lacked the joy, the triumphalism of the Byzantine Rite. The Breviary ... and the Liturgy ... make insistent use of the two hymns composed by S Venantius Fortunatus, at the behest of a Right Royal Reverend Mother, for the Reception of a large Relic of the Holy Cross from the Emperor (of Constantinople) himself. The Reception was pretty Right Royal as well.

So, in these hymns, we get the wonderfully paradoxical oxymoron immolatus vicerit (the Sacrificed Victim is the Conqueror). Dic triumphum nobilem. And the claim that the Cross is like a tropaion ... the Tree on a battlefield, with the spoils of the defeated enemy nailed to it, which a victorious Army left on the battlefield as a monument of its Victory. And the General himself, the Imperator, having waited with his army outside the City until the Senate voted him a Triumph, entered the city with his face painted red like that of very Juppiter himself. There was no higher human glory than his. His soldiers did their apotropaic best to distract and nullify any feeling on the part of the gods that there was hubris in all this, by shouting obscene abuse at their General. In the case of C Iulius Caesar, this consisted of reiterated allusions to his alleged acts of sexual inversion. Jolly stuff, not printable on a Family Blog.

Roman Triumphs were politically incorrect occasions. At least, that is what the defeated kings must have felt as they trudged along chained to the chariot of the Imperator, hearing the repeated shout io Triumphe, their every step bringing them one step closer to the final icing on the day's cake, their own climactic strangling.

That rather over-the-top Anglo-Saxon poem glorifying the Holy Rood indicates that there are indeed other ways of making the same triumphalist point. Serial paintings by Rubens ... the Triumph of the Eucharist, the Triumph of the Church ... also demonstrate the correct and Catholic mindset. The important thing is to be triumphant. The thrill of this Triumph should be in the heart of every Christian throughout Holy Week. It is, of course Christ's Triumph and not ours, so a certain reticent sobriety on our part ...

But Hey!! It is our triumph, because we are incorporated by Baptism into Christ and His Triumph is ours. As He remarked, tharseite, ego nenikeka ton kosmon (John 16:33).

Io Triumphe!  Immolatus vicit! Regnavit a ligno Deus!

17 April 2019

PF's Maundy Thursday Games

It started off, older readers will recall, back in the deep mists of Antiquity, with PF washing the feet of women as well as of men. This, however agreeable he may have found it, was then illegal.

He then ordered the law to be changed so that any priest could wash the feet of Christians of either sex.

But he himself has continued his friendly-to-camera encouragement of illegality by washing the feet of non-Christians.

However, whatever would he do if crafty Cardinal Sarah called his bluff and yet again changed the rubrics so as to make that legal?

PF seems to have such a deep personal need to break laws. (Could it be that when he was at school he was inadequately thrashed when he broke the rules?)

Perhaps the next stage could be for him to wash the hooves of approved ruminants (of either orientation).

Properly managed, this might enable him to be in breach of Leviticus 11:7.

Some time ago, I suggested another possible development of the Pontifical Pedilavium. This would remove the ceremony from being subject to the rubrics of the Liturgy, and so it would cease to be unlawful.

"While being driven round and round the piazza di San Pietro, the Pope could suddenly leap sylph-like from his popemobile. His security guards would then drag out of the cheering crowd a selected individual and liberate her from her shoes and other, er, pedal integuments. The ever faithful, invariably efficient Guido 'Jeeves' Marini would appear ex nihilo, magically, imperturbably, at his Master's side with basin, water, and towel. 

"The People's Pontiff would then dive to his knees and ..." et cetera vel similia.

16 April 2019

Fire and the Baalim UPDATE

Having just heard yesterday afternoon of the fire in Paris, I took up my Breviarium Romanum to say Mattins of the following day (today) and found myself reading Jeremiah 11: 15-20:

Olivam uberem, pulchram, fructiferam, speciosam vocavit Dominus nomen tuum: ad vocem loquelae, grandis exarsit ignis in ea, et combusta sunt fruteta eius. Et Dominus exercituum, qui plantavit te, locutus est super te malum: pro malis domus Israel et domus Iuda, quae fecerunt sibi ad irritandum me, libantes Baalim.

I couldn't help thinking of PF's syncretistic Abu Dhabi statement. How could anybody?

Later, one Macron appeared  on the TV, talking in long syllables about the rebuilding which would follow. I thought: Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum ....

Apparently, the use of public money would not offend against laicite because Notre Dame is, culturally, so much bigger a thing than mere Christianity. So that's all right, then. Some arty person, interviewed this morning, explained that the rebuilt Cathedral will of course be disentangled from the (Christian) myths which led to its building. More or less back to the Revolution, and the Goddess Reason. Since first writing this piece, I still feel cold about the emotions 

I shall not contribute one sou to the construction of a new High Place to the Baalim. If there were to be a specific proposal to restore the High Altar to its pre1989, pre-Conciliar, state, I might be tempted to shell out a libre or two for that.

15 April 2019

1549? Or 1971?

A correspondent whom I greatly respect as a Confessor of the Faith in these troubled times, asks for more information about my statement that the Jesuits burned the relics in the Reliquary Chapel in Oxford's Catholic Parish Church, Alyoggers. Information is provided in an excellent, erudite, and readable little book called St Aloysius Parish Oxford The Third English Oratory A Brief History and Guide 1793-2000 New Edition by Fr Jerome Bertram, MA, FSA, of the Oratory. I will lift some bits from Father's narrative.

"In 1954 the Jesuits decided to 'modernise' the church. Nearly all the statues and pictures disappeared, as did several memorial brasses to priests and parishioners, and the whole building was painted battleship grey, obliterating all the brilliant colouring of the internal decorations ... In the 1960s came the major changes in the Catholic Church following the second Vatican Council ...The parish registers tell their story: whereas in 1959 there were forty one converts received, in 1969 there were but two. The Corpus Christi and other processions were suppressed  ... The Relic chapel had long been neglected ... Now the collection was dispersed. Most of the actual relics were burnt, the containers thrown away, vestments, including some mitres that had belonged to Pope Pius IX, given away to amateur actors, and the books appropriated away from the parish. By the end of the 1970s hardly anything remained, and the chapel screen had been scrapped ... The cupboards on each side were intended to display the relics and antiquities, and the body of Saint Pacificus, an early Christian martyr, was enshrined beneath the altar.  ... There were thirty three relics of St Philip Neri, mostly fragments of his clothing, five of St Teresa including her signature, many English martyrs such as part of St Thomas More's cap, relics of popular modern saints like the Cure d'Ars, mementoes of the three Jesuit boy saints ... many souvenirs of Pope Pius IX, including the pen with which he signed the bull defining the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and a great collection of letters, several from early Oratorian Fathers such as Cardinal Baronius. In addition the collection included vestments, candlesticks, chalices and the like as well as a number of oil paintings and several crystal and marble urns from the Catacombs All these relics and treasures were destroyed or dispersed in 1971 ... "

14 April 2019


A couple of years ago, I was in the world's largest Jewish city around the time of Succoth, the autumn Feast of Tabernacles. Passing through Grand Central on my way to visit the Frick Collection, I was accosted by a charming young man, with skull-cap, who seemed all of eight years old, who profferred me a strip of palm with the question "You're Jewish?" It took me but a nanosecond to decide that this was not the occasion to offer subtle distinctions; so I just said "I'm afraid I'm not", at which he cheerfully withdrew the palm and passed on his way. Neither of us attempted to proselytise the other.

Here are some words from Fr Thurston's admirable CTS pamphlet dated 1949:
It is perhaps sometimes forgotten that the association of the cry Hosanna with the waving of palm-branches does not date merely from our Lord's solemn entry into Jerusalem. If the people saluted our Saviour in this manner at the moment of His triumph, it was because both action and words were familiar to them as part of the ceremonies of one of the most joyful festivals of the year. On each of the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles the people moved in procession about the altar in the court of the Temple, making their boughs of palm bend towards it, and shouting Hosanna ("save now"), while the trumpets sounded. Moreover it would seem that verses 25 and 26 of Psalm cxvii, beginning Hosanna and containing the phrase, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," were used as a sort of responsory to the great Hallel (Psalms cxii-cxvii), which was recited on this occasion. When it is added from the explicit tradition of the Talmud that the children who were old enough to wave the palm-branches were expected to take part in the celebration, and that the boughs themselves came in the course of time to be called  Hosannas, it will be clear how close a connection there is between the Christian procession of Palm Sunday and the palm festival still observed by the Jews after the harvest in the autumn. Both the ceremonies of the Jews in their synagogues and our own procession on Palm Sunday represent a rite which has existed in some shape from the time of the entry into the promised land more than 3,000 years ago.

13 April 2019

Leptis Magna

You should never believe a word you hear from ex-Anglican clergy, or members of Ordinariates. They always get things wrong, or they only tell you half a story.

Take Dr Kirk's piece for April 1, rather naughtily breaking the embargoed news that I have been nominated to the titular See of Leptis Magna in partibus infidelium.

It's not that this is totally untrue. But it doesn't give the right reason. The suggestion is that this preferment is a reward for my much-appreciated personal services to the Roman Pontiff.


'Leptis Magna' is a real job. What it will involve is me being Coadjutor with Right of Succession to the See of Westminster.

Believe me, I did try to get out of it (Pam doesn't like living in big cities) by frankly explaining to the Nuncio my life-long plan which I have mentioned on this blog before: to hand over the red-brick building with the large minaret near Victoria Station, hitherto known as "Westminster Cathedral", to the Moslem Council of Great Britain, so that it can become their Grand London Mosque.

I thought that making this confession would lead to the immediate withdrawal of the offer. But the opposite happened. My bluff was called. Apparently PF, although not a regular reader of this blog, has noticed my plans for "Westminster Cathedral". And he is absolutely over the moon about them (he even talked about coming to Oxford to kiss my feet). That is why he decided to over-rule the Congregation for Bishops and to put me into Westminster, contrariis non obstantibus.

So ... Thank You, Holy Father! I will endeavour etc.etc..

I shall, of course, move my cathedra to the Brompton Oratory.

Tally Ho!!

(I may have to be a bit of a New Broom at Brompton. I think it is high time the Novus Ordo was given the boost of being made a niche interest. So it will be confined to the S Joseph Chapel at 4.30  on the afternoons of the fourth Sundays in alternate months, exactly the sort of generous provision that has enabled the EF and the Ordinariate Rite to flourish in so many places.)

12 April 2019

Among the Freemasons

Off in the sunshine to the Chrism Mass, celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio, a cheerful American lad called Edward Adams. We had the Spatzenmesse by one Mozart ... I did try to spot the Masonic bits, but not being a music buff I failed. It is always a pleasure to be at Warwick Street, however, because of the historical connection with my Lord the Marquis of Pombal. Our Principal Church was not founded by the diocese or even by the Vicars Apostolic: it was the Portuguese embassy Chapel when his lordship was the Portuguese ambassador. All this seems to give the place a whiff of independence ... and there is the fact that my Father was a Freemason. However, there wasn't much of the Enlightenment about today's liturgical event, thank goodness. Very much the Patrimony rather than Pistoia. His Excellency was not, I think, 'formed' at Staggers, but Fr Lloyd, the MC, was, so that was OK.

The facade and galleried interior have an engaging suggestion of a West Country Methodist Chapel before the Methodists abandoned their -ism; the only jarring note is provided by the Sanctuary walls, which look as if they are playing truant from Westminster Cathedral. One is taken back to a jollier age by the bas-relief of Maria Assumpta now over the Sacristy door, carved by that engaging Irish scoundrel John Edward Carew. Pre-Bentley, it was the High Altar reredos.

My goodness, what an up-beat spirit there was; I can't think why all those other chaps out there still sojourn in what Blessed John Henry called the House of Bondage. Come on in, rejoin your true friends!! Have fun!!!

Bishop Keith was in good form!

11 April 2019

O Bampfield, O Newman

In the 1854, a a young clergyman called George Bampfield had reached that moment of decision. Nathaniel Woodard, down in Sussex, had moved him on from his post schoolmastering in the College of Ss Mary and Nicolas at Lancing, because of his attack of Roman Fever. So he spent a few weeks in Oxford, with Canon Chamberlain the Vicar of S Thomas's, known as England's most advanced parochial clergyman  (he wore a chasuble for the Lord's Supper, confected of two Oxford red silk MA hoods sewn together) and as a marvellous physician in cases of Roman Fever. But Chamberlain knew that "all was lost" one morning when he went into Bampfield's room and saw a Totum on the table. He was dead right: within days the young man was knocking at Fr Faber's door ... and receiving a warm welcome.

A Totum was an edition of the Roman Breviary in just one volume. And while this may seem odd to us, the evidence is that keen young Tractarians and Ritualists immersed themselves in the Breviary long before they had familiarised themselves with the Missal. It was, indeed, considered a less Romish volume.

While he was yet an Anglican, John Henry Newman had also become familiar with the Roman Breviary. And Newman was particularly haunted by the great "O" antiphons which we sing at Vespers during the last great ferias of Advent. They are, surely, the quintessence of Advent; invocations of the the God who led and guided and saved his people Israel; who even bestowed his Presence in burning bush and pillar of fire ... Type of that Antitype whose Real Presence we encounter in the Blessed Sacrament.

In his semi-autobiographical novel Loss and Gain, Newman pictures a convert, Willis, describing the wonders of the Mass by quoting from the Great Antiphons: "And as Moses on the mountain, so we too make haste and bow our heads to the earth and adore. So we, all around, each in his place, look out for the great Advent, waiting for the moving of the water. ... It is wonderful! Quite wonderful! When will these dear good people be enlightened? O Sapientia, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia, O Adonai, O Clavis David et expectatio gentium, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster."

And in the climax of the book, when its hero Charles Reding is present for the first time at Benediction, "the truth flashed upon him, fearfully yet sweetly; it was the Blessed Sacrament - it was the Lord Incarnate who was on the Altar, who had come to visit and to bless His people. It was the great Presence, which makes a Catholic Church different from every other place in the world; which makes it holy as no other place can be holy. The Breviary offices were by this time not unknown to Reding: and as he threw himself on the pavement, in sudden self-abasement and joy, some words of those great Antiphons came into his mouth, from which Willis had formerly quoted: O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in rubo apparuisti; O Emmanuel, Expectatio Gentium et Salvator earum, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster".

10 April 2019


I know of a decayed, overgrown chapel (not Anglican, not Catholic, but Calvinist) deep in a wooded demesne in the County Kerry, the Kingdom of the West.

It dates from the time of the Famine. The Squire provided ample food to those of the peasantry, and to their children, who were prepared to come along and take part with him in the dark idolatrous superstitions of Reformation Calvinism.

If you declined participation in the 'Souper's' religion, your children would starve.

That dreadful building still had, when I discovered it twenty years ago, hanging around it the stink of Evil.

9 April 2019

Cardinal Sarah and proselytism

His Eminence Cardinal Sarah does not rant. He does not take PF to task directly by name.

He just tells the Truth.. When PF has taught error, as he so frequently does, Sarah does not tactfully wait a few weeks and then tactfully tell the Truth. He tells it straight away. Calmly, humbly, elegantly.

PF is no fool. He knows that if you slam 'proselytism' without defining the term, non-Christians and non-Catholics will hear what they want to hear. But he will have a bolt hole enabling him to deny, if it suits him, that he ever condemned seeking to bring to their Redeemer souls whom Chrtist died to save.

I wonder what further attacks upon our Lord PF will make, taking advantage of the Mysterium Paschale.

I do not have Cardinal Sarah's gentle and saintly gifts. I find it difficult to conceal the fact that, in my own opinion and speaking only for myself, this pontificate has moved from being an embarrassment to being a problem, and, now, to being something far worse.

Tomorrow I will offer a concrete example of what I regard as Proselytism.