18 June 2018

Flags

In pictures of the interiors of North American churches, even Catholic churches, one often sees the national flag in the Sanctuary to one side of the Altar.

I have never* seen this in an English church of any denomination. The most you might find would be the ancient 'laid up' colours of dear, long-forgotten regiments hanging from a dark and dusky ceiling, deliberately left to fall apart in cobwebs and sanctity.

I wonder when the American custom arose. To my quaint European instincts it seems an incomprehensible intrusion of transient terrestrial territorial politics into the Place of Eternity.

During the last war ... imagine German POWs being marched to Mass in an English church ... how easily could they have worshipped if the British Flag had been hanging aggressively in front of their eyes? And vice versa.

I believe the pro-Hitler 'German Christians' did it in the 1930s.

Do Ulster Protestants do it?

Do Canadians do it?

Do North American Orthodox or Eastern Catholics do it?

*Exception: In S James, Spanish Place, once the Spanish Embassy Chapel, there is, in one of the side aisles, the Spanish Royal Standard, handily placed so that, if the pp gets a message that His Most Catholic Majesty is about to pay a surprise visit, he can haul it up a rapid flagpole ...

17 June 2018

Photographs in Church

There is a Meejah story about a one-time evangelical chanteuse called Vicky Beeching who has  disdained Holy Order in the Church of England because that body is insufficiently appreciative of her rather unevangelical Lesbianism, about which she has just ... yes, you guessed correctly ... written a book.

The Sunday Times has a jolly picture of her, clad ut videtur in her shiny leathers, standing in front of and with her back to an altar which (from what one can see of it) is stylistically Early Renaissance, with six candles on it and an apparently red hanging lamp. The statue above the altar may be of the Sacred Heart. One can't quite be sure.

It all seems rather unevangelical, unless the Evangelicals have changed a lot since I left the C of E, but I suppose the implicit narrative that she has turned her back on the Love of the Incarnate Word may be thought by some people to have a certain suitability. I won't enter into that debate.

I hope permission was duly sought by the journalists concerned for this use of the Church.

Perhaps the Church concerned should receive a share of the royalties.

Pius IX

A translation of a card I once found tucked into a breviary previously owned by the late Fr Melrose of S Giles, Reading:

PRAYER to beg of God the glorification of Pius IX and to obtain graces.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who consecrated the Universal Church to thee.
(3 Gloria).
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who declared thee Immaculate.
(3 Ave).
Saint Joseph, most pure Spouse of Mary the Virgin, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who declared thee Patron of the Universal Church.
(3 Pater)
.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary, Immaculate and our Hope, Saint Joseph, hear our prayer and glorify your servant Pius IX, granting us by his merits and intercession the grace which we ardently desire.

16 June 2018

A Paradigm Shift; and Humanae vitae; and the 'ordination' of women.

A splendid talk the other day, from Fr John Hemer, at the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

His talk set me thinking about the real paradigm shift in Catholic studies during the Ratzinger Years. After the terrible aridity of "Modern Biblical Scholarship", as Catholic "scholars" aped what went for "Biblical Studies" among liberal Protestant Northern Europeans and North Americans, Professor Ratzinger (following the teaching of S John Paul II that Scripture should not be seen as a field for disdainful "see how clever I am" analysis) not only restored the respectful study of Scripture but showed, in his own three-volume Jesus of Nazareth, how it should be done.

And Benedict XVI put the Fathers into the heart of his homilies and Angelus addresses.

And readers will not need to be reminded of the significance of his liturgical interventions. His revelation that the old rites had never been lawfully and canonically abrogated created a New Ballpark (am I getting this idiom right?), and, more importantly, his assertion, theological rather than canonical, that what has been sacred never can be abolished, puts in place an important marker should some future pope attempt ultra vires to limit Tradition.

Fr Hemer's exegesis of Scripture is part of this most welcome revolution. The foundation, in Anglophone countries, of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy is a highly important factor in the renewal of witness to Catholic Truth. And the erection of the Ordinariates, thus strengthening within the Catholic Church B John Henry Newman's appropriation of Anglicanism, is another monument to the Benedict Paradigm Shift.

A particular and most recent fruit of this shift is apparent in the signing by some 500 English priests of a letter affirming the truths taught in Humanae vitae (see yesterday's Catholic Herald). Many of the signatories were, of course, members of the Ordinariate (including married clergy) and of the Confraternity, although the letter was not organised by either of those bodies. At a time when there is unease about the risk that the current Roman regime may try to relativise and water down Catholic teaching, this wise, robust, and sensible document can do nothing but good.

Perhaps the time may be coming when similar interventions may be necessary in order to uphold the Church's infallible teaching with regard to the 'ordination' of women to sacerdotal ministries. There is no reason why His Eminence the Graf von Schoenborn should be allowed to make all the running ...

15 June 2018

The Rape of Clio

Apparently, there has been a 're-enactment' in Gloucester of the funeral of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, and a mighty Queen.

I have only been able to find a brief video clip; but it suggests rather massively that the Officiant was an Anglican womanpriest dressed in an anachronistic cope, who proclaimed lingua Anglica "may she rest in peace and rise in glory".

Public announcements were made honouring those who took part in the 'Suffragette' movement.

The event also seems to have involved 'Franciscans', 'Dominicans', and women 'Religious' dressed as such persons were in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Mockery is easy; but I think all this precisely encapsulates modern attitudes to History: the idea that the Past in simply the Present, dressed up perhaps in whatever the children have left in the dressing-up box. Or in what has been hired from a theatrical agency.

My suspicion is it that Modern (wo)man could not handle the truth that the Past may really be an extremely foreign country; and that, as C S Lewis argued, its very differences may be the most important gift that it can offer us.

14 June 2018

S Dunstan ... a problem

On the Vigil of Pentecost this year, prevented by the rubrics from celebrating a great Pontiff, S Dunstan, I found myself wondering: is he part of the Patrimony?

He was, as I am sure you know, a 'Reformer', and, as such, very unenthusiastic about Married Priests (or concubinarii, as we used once so succinctly to be called). But Bishop Edwin, with whom I agree about all things, has identified a married clergy as an essential part of our Anglican Patrimony. I once asked him how we are to get round this knotty little problem. He replied by reminding me that Alcuin was the son, and grandson, of priests. So that's all right, then.

Incidentally, it is not only presbyters who, in those far off days, manifested an attenuated awareness of being called to celibacy. I remember reading about one of the early occupants of the See of Ardfert in the County Kerry, whom annalists distinguished from both his predecessors and his successors as having been 'chaste'. Think about the unspoken implications of that! And, Yes, Bishop Eamonn Casey was a later bishop of this same see. Perhaps there's something in the water ...

My suspicion is that once the Latin Church has decided (in two years' time?) to admit married viri probati to the presbyterate, the regulations about what we can do in the Ordinariates may seem a little less set in stone.

Mind you, I would resist any suggestion that Priests should be able to get married, or that married men should made bishops. I do not see Mrs Proudie as an essential part of the Patrimony. The instinctive conviction of both Catholicism and Orthodoxy that there is a congruity between priesthood and celibacy can properly and decently be upheld by restricting the summum sacerdotium to celibates.

This would also discourage careerists ...

13 June 2018

Slippery Slopes

"I knew there was something wrong when he first walked out onto that balcony", I heard a priest saying a few months ago at a clerical gathering. Indeed. So one instinctively did. In my case, it was not so much that PF declined to dress as a Bishop of Rome as his choice of an unheard-of papal name. It was as if he felt the need to dissociate himself from all his predecessors in the Cathedra Petri ... even from the other 'post-conciliar popes'. In other words, it seemed to me that this was at least potentially a proclamation of papal Rupture.

But how long it took before such uneasy whispers broke out into the open in the mainstream Catholic blogs. Even when the unappealing side of PF's character ... particularly his propensity to insult and humiliate his fellow clergy on every conceivable situation ... became noticeable, and some humourist decided to make a collection of the genre ... bloggers remained cautious. After all, the Lord Himself said some impolite things about Pharisees and Pilates. We leaned over backwards to make excuses when we could; PF's ambiguous phrases and actions were glossed in as orthodox a sense as writers felt able to invent.

As late as 30 May 2016, I agonised for some time about whether to describe this pontificate as 'dysfunctional'. One's every instinct was and is to avoid writing like this about the Successor of S Peter. One has a habit of affection and, even when that had been worn away, one says to onself "Could it really be right to use such language?" Or even possibly "Such language might get me into trouble". After much thought and redrafting, I left in my draft for that day a statement that this pontificate had "some dysfunctional characteristics".

I think you might discover (to give just one example) the same sort of caution in Fr Zed; the same long reluctance to engage too directly with what was manifestly dodgy in this pontificate, until such engagement became unavoidable.

It was, in various different ways on the various Catholic blogs, an unwillingness which only gradually got eroded.

Then, of course, and with as much reluctance, we moved into the period of the Five Dubia and the Filial Correction. And now the world has had a spate of books about this pontificate by lay historians.

PF really did have to work enormously hard before the current atmosphere of frank talking was born.

12 June 2018

Ultra-Catholics and moustachioed Jesuit 'generals'

On this august festival of S John of Fagondez, I am giving this old post another outing.

 The Reverend Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, a distinguished theologian (and mathematician), was for some years the unofficial House Theologian of 'Anglo-Catholicism'. In these comic verses he portrays the extremest of the extreme in that movement. But don't be too deceived; when Mascall was not on the Christ Church Cathedral weekday Mass rota, he himself said a private Tridentine Mass in Mags. Unlike a certain sort of High Churchman, who tinkered with both Western and Eastern practices or Dearmerised with Sarumidippity, Mascall was in no doubt that he was a Latin Catholic. He was a Thomist, too, so they would have liked him at Econe. They would have liked him anyway.

Satirical verse has long been at the heart of the Anglican Patrimony. We write it far better than anybody else, and we laugh louder ... even at ourselves ...

I am an Ultra-Catholic - No 'Anglo-'*, I beseech you!
You'll find no heresy in anything I teach you.
The clergyman across the road has whiskers and a bowler,
But I wear buckles on my shoes and sport a Feriola.

My alb is edged with deepest lace, spread over rich black satin;
The psalms of Dahvid I recite in heaven's own native Latin,
And, though I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
My ordo recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis.

I teach the children in my school the Penny Catechism,
Explaining how the C of E's in heresy and schism.
The truths of Trent and Vatican I bate not one iota.
I have not met the rural Dean. I do not pay my quota.

The Bishop's put me under his 'profoundest disapproval'
And, though he cannot bring about my actual removal,
He will not come and visit me or take my confirmations.
Colonial prelates I employ from far-off mission-stations.

The music we perform at Mass is Verdi and Scarlatti.
Assorted females form the choir; I wish they weren't so catty.
Two flutes, a fiddle and a harp assist them in the gallery.
The organist left years ago, and so we save his salary.

We've started a 'Sodality of John of San Fagondez,'
Consisting of the five young men who serve High Mass on Sundays;
And though they simply will not come to weekday Mass at seven,
They turn out looking wonderful on Sundays at eleven.

The Holy Father I extol in fervid perorations,
The Cardinals in curia, the Sacred Congregations;
And, though I've not submitted yet, as all my friends expected,
I should have gone last Tuesday week, had not my wife objected.
______________________________________________________________
*Such clerics did not in fact describe themselves as Ultra-Catholics; simply as Catholics. They did eschew 'Anglo-' because, rightly, they saw it as implying a modified form of Catholicism. (Outsiders, missing these nuances, did speak of them as 'Anglo-Catholic'.) They hated being called High Churchmen; historically they were again right, because this term preceded the Oxford Movement and didn't necessarily at all imply 'advanced' ceremonial or an addiction to the Bishop of Rome (but often a 'high' view of the C of E over against all forms of Dissent or Whiggery). Laypeople, however, generally used 'High' to describe any usage with which they were themselves unfamiliar. ( I was once accused of being 'High Church' because, for State Mattins, I wore 'preaching bands' with my surplice, scarf and MA hood ... their usual officiant didn't wear bands.)

11 June 2018

Local Calendars (3)

I follow on from my series on the English Martyrs; taking, again, the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton as an example of how, in my opinion, we who celebrate the Extraordinary Form should organise our local Calendars.

The diocese of A & B was carved out of the old Southwark diocese after the de facto demise of the Old Rite. Should one therefore continue to use the old Southwark EF Calendar, since there is no provision made for A & B by the Sacred Congregation of Rites?

Up to a point, in my view, but only up to a point!

In my last two pieces, I offered some suggestions about how a Calendar needs to be emended to incorporate more fully the English Martyrs. Continuing to apply the principles underlying Canon 19, I suggest also the following.

The old diocese of Southwark included Canterbury, and that is presumably why its Calendar included a number of sainted Archbishops of Canterbury over and above the number of those Archbishops who are of interest throughout England (these latter, of course, should be retained). It seems to me that such Archbishops ought not to be on an EF Calendar for A & B. Nor should any other Saints who are really of only Kentish (or South London) concern.

This is what the Novus Ordo Calendar for A & B has considered right. The OF Calendar, of course, has no authority in the EF, but it is surely among the sources of guidance to which the principles of Canon 19 suggest it is proper for us to turn when there is an unfilled gap in the strictly lawful provision.

As there is in A & B!

10 June 2018

Donald Trump

Can any of my transpontine readers explain why Mr Trump wears a Brigade of Guards tie? Is it his die-hard Anglophilia? Can we expect him to drop the usual "Mah fellow Americans" and begin his speeches with "Mah fellow Grenadiers"? Did he leave the G7 early in order to parade incognito in yesterday's Trooping of the Colour on the Monarch's Official Birthday?

In the jolly old English phrase, he is clearly a man of many parts, not all of them public. Is it true that he is planning to bring out an improved edition of How to make friends and influence people?

White Rose Day

The wild roses in our hedgerows seem even more generously and abundantly in blossom this year than usual ... almost as if Boucher or Fragonard were personally responsible for their frothy glory ...

... On June 10, in 1688, our late Sovereign Lord King James II and VII was presented by his wife with a Son and Heir, who was to reign for longer than any other British Monarch de iure.

His Birthday became known as White Rose Day, and those who advocated his rights wore either a white rose or ... out of season ... a white cockade. Oxford was an immensely Jacobite city ... you could tap Geach into the Blog's Search Engine.

To the Glorious Memory of King James III and VIII!

Nunc est bibendum! Nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus!

And Vivat Rex!

And three cheers for the Governing House of Liechtenstein!

You know it makes sense!



9 June 2018

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (5)

Continues
If you browse through the Pontificale Romanum as it so admirably was before the post-Conciliar depravations, you will discover that the most solemn liturgical blessings and consecrations both of persons and of things had one constant feature. They began like the Preface of the Mass, with Dominus vobiscum; Sursum corda; Gratias agamus; Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare .... This is how Major Orders were conferred; how Chrism and the Paschal Candle were blessed; how Abbots, Abbesses, Virgins and Queens, Churches and Altars, were solemnly blessed. The custom was not 'primitive'; but expressed very beautifully the 'primitive' understanding that it is by Thanksgiving, Eucharistia, that things are blessed and made over to God. Nowadays, apart from the Mass, the Paschal Candle appears to be the only survival in the Novus Ordo of this noble custom (apparently, in modern liturgical theology, candles are more sacral objects than Bishops or even Virgins!). Couratin provides the Prayer for the Ordination of Priests remodelled in this way. Here we have something more than just an elegant literary embellishment; it is in itself a theological statement. Priests are something more than the merely functional. They are consecrated, changed, just as the Eucharistic Elements themselves are consecrated and changed.

*************************************

The Rite of Ordination which I have described was only used in one Anglican diocese (as far as I know) and possibly only during two episcopates, those of Kirk and Carpenter. I must emphatically disclaim any intention of investing my narrative with any broader theological significance. But that Diocese was a rather special star in our Anglican firmament (fuit Troia, fuimus Troiani ...), and Kirk was a profoundly significant figure in that now long-vanished Anglo-Catholic world of Dix and Mascall and Farrer and their associates. Surely, it cannot fail to be a matter of interest precisely how just such a bishop solemnly administered the Sacrament of Holy Order in his Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford?

How happy are those Oxford flocks
How free from heretics;
Their clergy all so orthodox
Their Bishop orthoDix. 

Bishop Harry Carpenter was succeeded by Kenneth Woolcombe, an enthusiast for the the ordination of women who was put in despite scant experience of the parochial ministry because he was regarded as a high-flyer who would almost certainly go on to Canterbury. Exactly what happened I don't know; I had moved on to Southwark (the C of E has no system of Incardination). But an enormous collapse undoubtedly occurred in the diocese. There is no trace now of that great old succession of scholar bishops and erudite parish clergy.

As the current Roman regime apparently moves towards the 'nuancing' of Humanae Vitae, we should also remember Bishop Charles Gore, who so unambiguously and so robustly denounced the apostasy of Lambeth 1930 in this matter of conjugal ethics. His witness is part of our Patrimony.

May I thank all those who, on this day of my Golden Jubilee, have sent me good wishes. Above everything, thanks be to God that by his merciful grace I have kept the Faith.

Ends.