15 August 2018

The Abbe Perdrau and our Lady

"The thought of Mary and of the Eucharist easily unite; they are connected with each other, so to speak, and are convertible terms. It is Mary who offers us the Divine Infant of Bethlehem; at the foot of the cross she presents us with the dead body of Jesus swathed in its shroud; at the Altar she gives it to us again enveloped in the Eucharistic linens.

"Is this not what the Church of God is thinking when it authorises us to chant before the Blessed Sacrament the beautiful sequence AVE VERUM: I salute thee, O Body, truly born of the Virgin Mary! Thus, at the moment when Jesus emerges from his tabernacle, the memory of Mary is revived in our souls, Mary appears to us like the monstrance in which the Saviour's Body shines. In fact, the Sacred Host is a present from the Blessed Virgin. S Augustine says so in four oft-quoted words: CARO IESU, CARO MARIAE ... The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary. This Body, this Blood of Christ which upon the Altar becomes our food and drink, derive their origin from Mary. It is the substance of Mary which has become the substance of Jesus. Mary is one of the principal constituents of the Blessed Sacrament; she contributes thereto as the grain of wheat that is sown produces the ear of corn which itself forms the harvest."


A learned reader instructs me that the Abbe wrote a devotional account of our Lady's last days at Ephesus; and that his sister Pauline was a nun who painted a picture of the Mater admirabilis which was much admired by Pio Nono. It shows our Lady, unusually, with a distaff.

14 August 2018

450 years

On Michaelmas Day this autumn, it will be 450 years since William Cardinal Allen founded a College at Douai in the Flanders, staffed by refugee scholars from Oxford and dedicated to the training of priests for the English Mission. I imagine there will be celebrations to commemorate this signifant occasion; we who were the "First Wave" of former Anglican clergy destined to the Ordinariate met for fellowship, fine food, and lectures in the London seminary called Allen Hall, and remember our meetings there with immense pleasure. I hope this means that we count in some little way as part of the Family of Cardinal Allen, because the professors and students of the College he established at Douai were compelled, at the time of the French Revolution, to flee the Continent and, after vicissitudes, some of them ended up on the site of S Thomas More's Chelsea house ... fittingly now called Allen Hall. And I, for one, deemed and deem it an enormous privilege to be grafted into Cardinal Allen's heritage and to honour the Martyrs who are proudly  named on the walls of the refectory.

However, some of the students from the Douai foundation, whose families were Northerners, ended up not near London but near Durham and founded a great seminary there called Ushaw. I expect many readers will have watched the black-and-white video of High Mass in the Chapel there in 1960. There were only 400 students in the congregation for that Mass, a couple of years before the Council. 400 is not much to write home about, is it? Just 400! What a mercy the great renewal promised by the Council was only just around the corner ...

Sixty or so years after that High Mass was filmed, Ushaw finally closed down, needless to say, for lack of vocations. And, within a decade of 1960, that Extraordinary Form of worship was forbidden (not legally but de facto; we had to wait for the pontificate of Benedict XVI to be told that, legally, the Rite had not been and, theologically, could not be abolished and that the violent discontinuities of the post-Conciliar period were illegal; 'Establishment' violence; vis sine lege; ambitious episcopal bully-boys roaming the world pillaging and destroying).

1960: by 1970 many of those 400 students had, probably, lost their sense of vocation; those who remained were seduced or cajoled or forced to celebrate a deformed form of the Rite. How many of them, I wonder, abandoned the Sacred Priesthood in the decades that followed. The Smoke of Satan entered into Ushaw to such powerful effect that it smoked the seminarians out of the place.


12 August 2018

"The Genius of Woman"

That is a phrase from PF's Gaudete et Exsultate. I expect we shall be hearing quite a lot about it in the next few years, unless Providence brings this pontificate to a cruelly premature end. And I had better be careful what I say ...

... because, you see, I have one Wife, three Daughters, and two Grand-daughters. I wouldn't like them to hear that I had written slightingly about such an important subject. So ... Mum's the word ... er ....

I will simply, therefore, observe that it goes without saying that there most definitely is a Genius of Woman, and that it is completely different from the equally real Genius of Man. My consequent question is:

As we quite properly, if belatedly, celebrate the Genius of Woman, what plans are PF and his associates making to follow it up with a special, balancing, celebration of the Genius of Man? Will there be a special new Roman dicastery (jobs for the girls?) to raise awareness of the Genius of Man? A 'Year of the Man', perhaps? A 'Synod on Men'? Vatican Postage Stamps exclusively celebrating Men? Special Vatican Press Presentations of Men, hosted by a winsomely smiling Graf? Supplements on Men in Osservatore Romano? An Apostolic Exhortation on Men (Dignitas virilis)? The admission of Men to exclusive, secretive and powerful organisations like the American Leadership Conference of Women Religious? Special mechanisms to fast-track more Men into Parish Flower Guilds? A quota system to ensure that men are more proportionately represented in teams of Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers? Successions of seminars so that everyone can listen sensitively to the Voice of Men: their needs, fears, and hopes; after all, men simply want to be heard ... to have their narratives, their own particular Truth, respected; why should they not be allowed to be as visible and audible in the public forum as normal humans are? Possibly even a special Men's Column in the Tablet?

Perhaps we need a major enquiry into why, since 1973, Men have been totally denied ordination to the Subdiaconate in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite?

There's a lot of catching-up to do.

11 August 2018

"Humble Crumble"

In the Ordinariate Ordo Missae authorised by the Holy See, there is a very interesting Prayer taken from the Book of Common Prayer: called the 'Prayer of Humble Access' (Often frivolously called the humble crumble. We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.). It begins with a paraphrase of the 'Ambrosian Prayer' given in your S Pius V Missals for use by the celebrant before Mass: Ad mensam dulcissimi convivii tui, pie Domine Iesu Christe, ego peccator de propriis meis meritis nihil praesumens, sed de tua confidens misericordia et bonitate, accedere vereor et contremisco.

Just before its end, the Anglican Prayer reads as follows: Grant us therefore gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may ever more dwell in him, and he in us.

This association of the Lord's Body with the needs of our bodies, and of his Blood with the needs of our souls, is a medieval idea going back to an unknown writer whose works were mixed up with those of S Ambrose, so that he is for convenience known as Ambrosiaster. S Thomas Aquinas, who in the Summa (III, lxxiv, 1) teaches this distinction (as had that enthusiastic Carolingian upholder of the Real Presence, S Paschasius Radbertus), quotes it as from S Ambrose; and I think it is clearly what the Angelic Doctor had in mind when he wrote the third stanza of his Verbum supernum prodiens; I give a literal translation: To whom [i.e.the disciples] He gave flesh and blood under twofold appearance that He might feed the whole Man of double substance. That is to say, He gave himself in the two species so that He might feed the entirety of Man who is composed, doubly, of both body and soul.

In his first (1548) liturgical experiment in the Eucharistic Liturgy, Cranmer carried this Thomistic distinction even into the formulae for Communion: The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ .... preserve thy body ... and The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ ... preserve thy soul .... After a year he gave this distinction up.

Successive generations of Anglican liturgists have been nervous about the conclusion of the Prayer of Humble Access with its Thomist, non-Biblical distinction between the effect of the Body upon our bodies and of the Blood upon our souls; Dix cattily remarked "there is no particular reason why people should be made to pray medieval speculations in a Reformed church"*. The Puritans asked for its removal in the abortive negotiations which followed 1660 on the ground that it appeared to accord more efficacy to the Blood than to the Body... which seems to me potentially Manichaean. It has been eliminated from many modern Anglican rites including the American Prayer Book upon which the old (Anglican Use) Book of Divine Worship was based. So its happy re-appearance in the Ordinariate Ordo Missae is a significant bit of Magisterium. Delightfully distinctive! To paraphrase the catch-phrase of GloriaTV, The more distinctive the better!

Our erudite correspondent Joshua once told me ... I never got round to verifying it ... that Garrigou Lagrange argued for the Blood being more eficacious than the Body, because the reception of the Body ipso facto remitted all venial sins repented of, thus leaving the soul the more cleansed and ready to profit from the Chalice (medieval monarchs at their coronations were given the Chalice "ad augmentum gratiae"). GL also held that a desire thus to profit was a sufficient motive for desiring the Holy Order of priesthood!

Lex orandi lex credendi. Yes? The Ordinariates even have distinctive doctrine!


*One of his favourite themes - it never ceased to amuse him - was that sixteenth century Protestant liturgical compositions, far from being (as their authors had fondly supposed) 'Biblical' or 'Primitive', were in fact Late Medieval in both thought and expression. Indeed, the whole Prayer of Humble Access exemplifies a very Dixian point: it takes inspiration from a medieval private priest's prayer and makes it part of the public Liturgy. The great classical Western liturgical texts would be very unlikely to have the priest, saying publicly and 'in the name of the people,' a prayer with phrases like "We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy".

10 August 2018

Archidiaconissa de Silverbridge in comitatu Barnensi

I invite a brief Trollopean account of what Mr Archdeacon Grantley said when he heard that Dr Proudie had preferred Miss Slope to the Archdeaconry of Silverbridge.

9 August 2018

Fay ce que voudras

... and call your House Thelema. I can't for the life of me recall who said and did this, but I was reminded of him some time ago now, when I saw in the window of a Quakers' Meeting House: "THOU SHALT" in big gothic capitals followed by "decide for yourself" in smaller modern cursive.

I was fairly horrified. Time was when the Quakers were thought of as a gentle folk, egalitarian and pacifist by inclination, who were regarded with affection even by those who disagreed with their distinctive dogmas. When their sect originally began, their sweet simplistic biblicism led them to talk to each other in a comic dialect, that of the Authorised Version of the Bible viewed through eyes innocent of syntax (they used thee as both Nominative and Oblique). Now, apparently, they not only treat quasi-biblical English with contempt, but have descended into the extremest form of anomia.
Even the likes of Richard Dawkins are not amoral antinomians. As far as I can understand them, 'Humanists' do adhere to the rather flabby form of the "Utilitarianism" which we were taught to discuss in General Studies essays when we were bright little Sixth Formers working for our Oxford Scholarships. But Humanist Utilitarianism is something. The Quakers, however, apparently now believe that not only are codes such as the Decalogue to be viewed with contempt; but that anybody can do whatever he decides. Murder, apparently; genocide; pedophilia; snuff movies; suicide bombing; sex slavery; the grossest forms of economic exploitation - if you decide to do them, you'll have Brother Quaker patting you on the head with kindly approval. "At least you didn't just blindly follow some rules invented by someone else", he will gently murmur.

I wonder if some sort of enquiry should be launched into what is in principle clearly a very dangerous little cult. At least Islamic and other terrorists have some sort of notion that there is right and that there is wrong, however corrupted their moral perceptions may be. Quakers, so they assure us, don't ... except for their one mighty dogma ignore rule-books and make your own decisions.

Don't  get me wrong; I'm sure many Quakers live to as high a moral standard as many Catholics or Humanists or Marxists or Moslems. I condemn nobody. It's their publicly proclaimed dogmas that terrify me.

8 August 2018

Ad Litus Neronianum

I am off for a few days, leaving other members of my family in our Oxford house, to a daughter's house near the Sussex Coast. As usual, I hope to post every day but will not deal with incoming traffic until my return to the apices somniantes.

I think of Sussex as the Costa Neroniana because, at Fishbourne Palace, there is what has been identified as a statue of the infant Nero, smashed after his damnatio; at Bosham a detached head from a large monumental statue has been suspected of being Nero's, dislodged post-damnatio; and, by chance, a statue in the Egremont Collection at Petworth is thought to be, again, the infant emperor.

Sussex, as a client kingdom, was 'Romanised' very early. The Palace at Fishbourne was not just another of England's numerous rather standard-issue second-century 'Roman Villas', but a lavish first-century sea-side palace "of a great King", in the style which the Roman aristocracy (and King Herod) borrowed from the culture of Royal Macedonia.

I suppose it could be contrasted with Prinny's preposterous erection at Brighton.

7 August 2018

The Eucharist as a societal paradigm (2)

Dom Gregory Dix continues: " But the eucharist is not a mere symbolic mystery representing the right ordering of earthly life, though it is that incidentally and as a consequence. It is the representative act of a fully redeemed human life. This perfected society is not an end in itself, but is consciously and wholly directed to the only end which can give meaning and dignity to human life - the eternal God and the loving and conscious obedience of man in time to His known will. There the eternal and absolute value of each individual is affirmed by setting him in the most direct of all earthly relations with the eternal and absolute Being of God; though it is thus affirmed and established only through his membership of the perfect society. There the only means to that end is proclaimed and accepted and employed - man's redemption through the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ at a particular time and place in human history, communicated to us at other times and places through the church which is the 'fulfilment' of Him. That is the eucharist. Over against the dissatisfied 'Acquisitive Man' and his no less avid successor the dehumanised 'Mass-Man' of our economically focussed societies insecurely organised for time, christianity sets the type of 'Eucharistic Man' - man giving thanks with the product of his labours upon the gifts of God, and daily rejoicing with his fellows in the worshipping society which is grounded in eternity. This is man to whom it was promised on the night before Calvary that he should henceforth eat and drink at the table of God and be a king. That is not only a more joyful and more humane ideal. It is the divine and only authentic conception of the the meaning of all human life, and its realisation is in the eucharist."

6 August 2018

The Eucharist as a societal paradigm (1)

"In this period of the disintegration and attempted reconstruction of thought about our secular society [1943], the individual's relation to society and his need for and securing of material things are the haunting problems of the age. There is a christian pattern of a solution which is expressed for us and by us at the eucharist. There the individual is perfectly integrated in society, for there the individual christian only exists as a christian individual inasmuch as he is fully exercising his own function in the christian society. There his need of and utter dependence upon material things even for 'the good life' in this world is not denied or even ascetically repressed, but emphasised and met. Yet his needs are met from the resources of the whole society, not by his own self-regarding provision. But there the resources of the society are nothing else but the total substance freely offered by each of its members for all. There, too, is displayed a true hierarchy of functions within a society organically adapted to a single end, together with a complete equality of recompense."

Dom Gregory Dix's words may remind others of my generation of the trajectory explored, under titles like "The Eucharist as a paradigm of a Socialist Society", by Terry Eagleton and his associates back in the 1960s in the Catholic-Marxist periodical Slant.

Dix, however, began his next paragraph with the word BUT. I will print it tomorrow.

5 August 2018

More on Deathgate

The Latin text has now been published; and there is indeed no suggestion that the death penalty is intrinsece malum. That would have been overt heresy.

On the contrary: the accompanying letter to bishops makes clear that the death penalty is not intrinsece malum. "The new formulation ... desire to give energy to a movement towards a decisive commitment to favour a mentality  ... in respectful dialogue with civil authorities ...  encourage the creation of conditions ..."

Suppose this were a matter of abortion or trafficking women for sex or paedophilia or genocide. The Magisterium would demand that the practice at once stop, not rabbit on about Favouring Mentalities and Encouraging Conditions. This is not how the Catholic Church talks about grave moral offences.

In the prudential sphere, I think, as I explained yesterday, that aspects of this move are profoundly unfortunate. Not least, the impression given through manipulation of the media that doctrine has been changed. This morning, the BBC account explicitly situated the item in these terms. As in the case of Amoris laetitia, heresy is being promulgated but carefully packaged so that it is not formally expressed. It is this mind-set and methodology which led some of us, last year, to issue the Filial Correction. I fear that PF remains every bit as badly in need of being filially corrected!

And I am as uneasy as I was yesterday about the confection of a new, undefined moral category of "inadmissible". The fact that the French version expresses things quite differently ("inhumaine") suggests that the authors were simply groping helplessly around for terms which sound incredibly stern but have no discernible meaning. People such as head masters, poor poppets, do that sort of thing when they are losing their grip, as they so often are. But have a heart. Don't be too sententious. It can't be all fun working for someone like PF, can it?

If you're feeling anxious, remember that, if doctrine' could be "developed" so easily and so soon as the result of changes in anthropological fads, it could be as easily "developed" again, or even "developed" back again.

If that were to happen ... in a few decades, under Pope Francis IV, we might once again (of course, with papal encouragement) be back to hanging difficult members of our underclass on multiple gallows for stealing thruppence. Or perhaps we shall be employing the picturesque Argentine practice of hurling them into the sea out of aeroplanes. Must move with the times.

Come on, chaps, don't get too het-up. Life's too short.

Just think: the Holy Father's initiative will mean that it will now be dear Cardinal Parolin's happy duty to explain to Mr Netanyahu that he and his political associates have got to drop their naughty campaign to reintroduce the infliction of the death pealty in Israel for terrorist-related murders. Just wait for the accusations of 'Anti-semitism' to start flying around the Eminent head. And next on his list there will be the Chinamen ... It couldn't all happen to a nicer chap.

Instead of panicking, toddle off and have a drink and a laugh. You know you deserve it. And there would be no harm in saying a decade or two ...

4 August 2018


I can't see much point in making substantive comments on the "changes made to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the death penalty" until the new text is published. All I can so far find on the Internet are some vernacular versions. .

This, in itself, I object to. The world has been given the impression that the Catholic Church has changed its teaching when nobody has the wherewithal to judge whether or not this is true. I can only call this sort of behaviour in  matters of faith and morals disgracefully frivolous. Can it be that PF wants to make an immediate impression on world opinion without giving theological professionals the prior opportunity to weaken by their analyses that impact?

More importantly: the English version says that the death penalty is "inadmissible". I have not the faintest idea what this curious term means theologically or canonically. If the actual text, when published, turns out to contain the phrase "intrinsece malum" then, frankly, we do have quite a problem on our hands. But Cardinal Ladaria is no fool. I shall be very surprised if those words are used. I'd put money on this!

Personally, like PF, I view the death penalty with considerable personal abhorrence ... anywhere, for any reason, at any time. I applaud attempts to discourage its use. I am less certain that the pages of a theological compendium such as the CCC are the right place to wage such a (very worthy) political campaign.

Furthermore, this move appears to take no account of  'advances' in Moral theology since and consequent upon Amoris laetitia. That document appeared to leave it to local hierarchies to make decisions for their own countries. But in the case of Deathgate, it appears that PF's wishes are of peremptory universal application. Perhaps the genial Graf von Schoenborn, or the sinister and brooding Fr Rosica, could explain to us, carefully and precisely, what the difference is. At the same time, it would be good to have an answer to the following: Adultery, while (yes?) generally wrong, may apparently, according to Amoris Laetitia, be Fair Enough in some circumstances. But PF's initiative concerning the death penalty apparently admits no exceptions. Why? And if it does tacitly admit exceptions, are we not left in the same poition as we were in with the earlier formula S John Paul had put into the CCC?

Then there is the problem of the Marx which did not bark during the night. Two or three years ago, with regard to Communion for divorcees, Cardinal Marx asserted the autonomy of the 'German Church' with the fearless and ringing words "We are not subsidiaries of Rome". I have not yet seen a similarly brave assertion that, also in this matter of the death penalty, Germany is Not a Subsidiary of Rome.


May I also be personal?

The CCC was made the doctrinal standard of the Ordinariates. I know I will be reminded that any Catholic, in an Ordinariate or anywhere else, is bound to what the Magisterium will authentically teach as well as to what it has taught and is teaching. I agree, absolutely. But, nevertheless, such an arbitrary change in a documentary henotikon, in which X has metamorphosed into not-X in a very few years, and without (as far as we know) a detailed collegial consultation with the whole College of Bishops (such as Pius XII conducted before defining the Assumption), leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth. It is because I have been driven to the unhappy conclusion that the present pontificate is manipulative and dishonest, that I wonder if this change in the CCC may be preparing the way for some of Senor Bergoglio's other private opinions and personal convictions to be given spurious Magisterial colouring.

Such apprehensions are, regrettably, difficult not to entertain at a time when the ultrapapalist perversion of the Petrine Ministry which Cardinal Ratzinger once so vigorously refuted, and which was condemned in advance by the lapidary phraseology in Pastor aeternus of Vatican I (and see Denziger paras 3114-3117), appears to be the currently dominant ideology within the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

3 August 2018

The Roman Canon as the Rule

OK, there are risks in Liturgical Restoration. Introduce a prime-time Vetus Ordo on Sunday morning, and it's always possible that a misguided group will get in touch with the Tablet and, before you know where you are, the local auxiliary bishop will be knocking on your door. Or even celebrate the Mysteries facing in the same direction as the People of God, as commended by the considerable authority of Cardinal Sarah, and some people may react as if the End of the world is imminent.

But there is one thing that a priest can do with relative impunity. Use the Roman Canon. Use it invariably. Say Good Bye to all the other, phony, 'Eucharistic Prayers' and stick to the only authentic Roman EP, EP1.

The IGRM says that this is the only EP which 'may always be used'.

If anybody does want to know why you have adopted this practice, the explanation is simple.

(1) This is the only ancient Roman Eucharistic Prayer.

(2) It is much more ancient in its theology than any other EP.

(3) For example: it displays the ancient idea that the Bread and Wine are transubstantiated into the Lord's Body and Blood simply by being accepted by the Father (see the prayer Quam oblationem). All the later prayers appear to operate on the unRoman assumption that the Father, in response to the prayer of the Priest, sends the Holy Spirit down from heaven onto the bread and wine so as to change them. Thus, even if they appear in a volume labelled ROMAN MISSAL, they are not 'Roman' prayers.