19 October 2018

Bishops Irresponsible

The names of the Bishops in each of the synodical groups is to be witheld "to show forth the spirit of the Synod, which is a spirit of communion".

The duty of bishops when they are gathered together in councils or synods is, above all, to bear open witness to the Deposit of Faith which, handed openly down through the Apostles, they and their respective churches have each received, so as to teach it authoritatively and openly, each of them from his own cathedra. By these means, the world will know, from the open harmony of all the successors of the Apostles, what Christ's truth is.

When the Bergoglianists tried a dodge like this once before, Cardinal Mueller protested. He declared, so very rightly, that the People of God had the right to know what their Bishop was teaching.

I am having trouble thinking of anything more corrupt and corrupting than this crude attempt so to manage gatherings of bishops that they can be manipulated into consenting to error, or appearing to do so.

The history of Councils established criteria by which it could be known whether conciliar deliberations and decisions are to be regarded as valid. Blessed John Henry Newman, characteristically, visited this area of historical theology in the nervous aftermath of Vatican I (Ker pp 654sqq).

Since a 'synod', even if backed by a pope, clearly has less authority than an Ecumenical Council, we need to revisit this topic now. All the more so because of the preposterous recent Bergoglianist claim that synodical statements, provided the pope likes them, come to us with the guarantee of the Petrine Magisterium.

Has Newman's phrase for the ultrapapalists of his own time "an aggressive insolent faction" ever been more true than it is in the context of today's realities? But Newman also wrote "We have come to a climax of tyranny". I find this both sobering and curiously comforting. Today, with its woes, is not the first time that the Catholic Faith has been under lethal attack from a corrupt hyperpapalist establishment. God has always sent an Athanasius or a Newman.

18 October 2018


I gather that, this coming Saturday, October 20, there is a free Conference in the Queen's College about the Sarum rite, and particularly the Lady Mass. Coffee 10.15; Opening 10.50.

3-4.30: a performance of the Lady Mass (including Nicholas Ludford's Saturday Lady Mass). The publicity does not make clear whether this is an actual Eucharistic celebration; nor, if it is, what the status of the 'celebrant' is!

Those planning to attend should have emailed owen.rees@queens.ox.ac.uk by last Saturday, but I expect ...

17 October 2018

23 October

The admirable Lord Bishop of the diocese in which I am domiciled (although, of course, I am incardinated in the Ordinariate) has asked his priests and people to observe October 23 as a day of Reparation for the babies killed since the Abortion Act was passed in this country on that day in the year 1967. He asks clergy to use the Votive (NO) for the Progress of Peoples and to wear the purple vestments of penance.

He suggests, for that day, fasting since midnight the night before Communion and making use of silence at Mass. He particularly suggests that the Offertory Prayers be said secreto. Nice points.

Admirable. I feel strongly inclined to clamber on board his initiative. I wonder which EF Votive one might use ... Salus Populi, perhaps?

16 October 2018

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is, essentially, the Sacring Place of English Kings and - since the invention of the 'United Kingdom' - of the monarchs of that protean political institution. It is rendered suitable for the former purpose by the presence of the shrine of S Edward the Confessor ... whose joyful festival we kept last Saturday.

There was, at the beginning of the modern era, an attempt to make the Abbey something more. In 1485, one Henry Tudor had, with very scant title, seized the throne of England. Marrying a Yorkist heiress did nothing to suppress agitation by those who wanted a Sovereign of the Blood Royal (indeed, his new mother-in-law joined those who were plotting against him); and, since Nature abhors a vacuum, whenever he executed Plantagenets, low-born Pretenders emerged from the woodwork. Foreign monarchs were cautious about betrothing daughters to the family of such a parvenu and unstable 'monarch'.

So he attempted to embellish his tenuous claim in two ways. By calling his son Arthur, he attempted to cast over his dodgy dynasty the mantle of the Once and Future King. And another name with incantatory potential was that of 'Henry'. Accordingly, the old Lady Chapel of the Abbey was demolished so as to be replaced by a new spectacular perpendicular chapel, where Tudor and his family were to be buried, but which, technically, was to be the shrine of a great royal saint who would match the S Edward who was enshrined nearby. Pope Julius issued bulls authorising the introduction of the cause for the canonisation of Henry VI (just as 'the divorce' was to be Henry VIII's Great Matter, so the canonisation was the Great Matter of Henry VII), and for the translation of his body from Windsor to this new chapel. Henry VII was seeking to cloak himself in the aura of the saintly Lancastrian, 'our Uncle of blessed memory', whose name, and whose descent from Catherine de Valois, he shared; and the very steps up to the chapel were to be endowed with indulgences. The building was adorned with all that was most sumptuous in the decorative arts of medieval England and of renaissance Italy.

In the twentieth century, there were admirers of Henry VI, especially Old Etonians, who revived the aim of securing his canonisation. However, so far ... perhaps PF ...

It is perhaps amusing that the last heir of the House of Stuart to prefer a claim de jure to the Three Crowns should have been His Most Eminent Majesty King Henry IX Cardinal Bishop of Frascati.

Hindsight informs us that there never was to be a Tudor King Arthur I. Nor did the politically-motivated campaign come to fruition of a canonised Saint Henry VI who would swell the pilgrim numbers in the Abbey. In fact, that England of popes, pardons and chantries had less than forty years to run before the Great Plunder.

But things seemed quite different at the start of the sixteenth century.

After all, the principal truth that the Muse of History teaches us is how very often the utterly unexpected is what happens.

A comforting thought during this present pontificate.

15 October 2018

Home Schooling

Apparently critical remarks have been made about home-schooling by some participants in the Synod.

I spent most of my adult life working in a college which was part of a corporation of colleges devoted to providing a middle-class education in the Catholic Tradition as this was understood within the Church of England. It was known as the Woodard Corporation, and contained about thirty colleges.

You might suppose that Canon Nathaniel Woodard, the Founder, must have entertained an uncritical devotion to the project of educating the young in colleges.

Not so.

He once described the practice of the mass education of the young as like trying o get one's hands clean by washing them in filth. His provision of so many establishments resulted simply from his conviction that, since the system existed, its worst features should be mitigated.

It was his view that the ratio of priests to pupils should be 1:10; and he did his best to secure that every member of his colleges should make a sacramental confession (the Victorians used the phrase Auricular Confession to make it sound sinister and unEnglish) on every occasion before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. The Chaplain was to be senior to the head master.

For this, he was mercilessly and endlessly persecuted.

Perhaps today's Catholic Church needs a dose of Woodardian 'Clericalism'.

14 October 2018

S Frideswide

Presumably, before 1962 the Birmingham Supplement of the Breviary had the Nocturn 2 lections for S Frideswide on October 19.

I'd be grateful if ...

Oratiuncula hodierna

Saint Paul VI, pray that the smoke of Satan which entered the Church may, by your intercession, be driven back. Pray that the the whole Church may hear with docile obedience the moral teachings which, handed down by your predecessors, you handed down to our generations. Pray especially for your successor Pope Francis, that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he may devoutly, powerfully, and joyfully set forth the tradition received through the Apostles, the Deposit of Faith.

13 October 2018

Cardinal Wuerl ...

... has finally had his resignation accepted. Many a blameless cleric would be delighted to receive as extravagant a send-off as PF has given Wuerl. What do we all have to do to earn ...

My own unease concerning Wuerl began with a story I heard the veracity of which I cannot guarantee. So, if I've got this wrong, apologies to the clerics concerned; apologies to my readers for misleading them. I welcome any corrections from anybody who knows the facts more accurately than I do. I would not wish the record to be anything other than straight! The following account is, therefore, provisional. It may well be totally withdrawn, with apologies.

It relates to North America and to the Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter in the time of the previous Ordinary, Mgr Steenson..

My recollection is of being told that a parish in that Ordinariate had started an Extraordinary Form Mass on a weekday, which attracted quite a congregation. A stop was put to this by Cardinal Wuerl, who instructed Mgr Steenson to explain to his subjects that the EF was not part of the Anglican Patrimony, and should not be celebrated in Ordinariate churches.

If true, this is preposterous. The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus says that Ordinariate clergy may use either the Roman Rite or the Ordinariate Rite. It does not distinguish between the two forms of the Roman Rite, the Ordinary and the Extraordinary. By decreeing that Ordinariate clergy can celebrate the Roman Rite, and making no distinction between its two forms, those Ordinariate clergy are placed in exactly the same position as every other presbyter of the Latin Church, by virtue of Summorum pontificum.

Is the EF "part of our Patrimony"? In one sense, clearly not. The provinces of the Anglican Communion never authorised the Missal of S Pius V.

But, equally, those provinces never authorised the Novus Ordo of B Paul VI. So, by the "not part of our Patrimony" argument, Cardinal Wuerl would prevent us from using that too.

In another sense, the EF clearly is part of our Patrimony. It has been in use by our clegy and Laity for roughly a century. When I was in the Diocese of Oxford in the Province of Canterbury, I used it, in Latin, most weekday mornings. It was also used in various Missals such as the English Missal, which provided it partly in Latin and partly in English and with the possibility of interpolating some formulae from the Book of Common Prayer. I knew it as a schoolboy in the 1950s and as an undergraduate in the early 1960s.

The same is not true of the Novus Ordo! That is totally alien both to the elegant but Zwinglian formulae in the 'official' Book of Common Prayer, and also to the de facto liturgical culture which prevailed in 'Anglo-Catholic' circles.

The old Mass is very much an integral part of our liturgical history. Our greatest liturgist and mystagogue, Dom Gregory Dix, used it daily, in Latin, in his monastery at Nashdom, and insisted on doing so in the Lutheran Churches during a lecture tour in Sweden! In the Anglican shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, there still are dozens of examples of the Missale Romanum (well, there were last time I said Mass there about ten years ago), and of the English Missal, surviving in storage from the happy days when the twenty or so altars in the Shrine Church would have been in constant use, during the pilgrimage season, by priests saying their private masses according to what, in those  happy days, we called "the Western Rite"!

So ... can anybody fill me in with regard to this American business?

12 October 2018

Dr Jalland and the Ordinariate Missal

Over the last few days, I have shown how Dr T G Jalland, my erudite predecessor as pp of S Thomas's By The Railway Station in Oxford, was one of those Anglo-Catholics in the middle of the twentieth century who transformed for thoughtful Anglicans the question of the Papacy; he used the prestigious Bampton Lectures here in Oxford to open up the subject of 'Rome' to a great and much-needed hurricane of historical truth. I have not abandoned my sense of pietas towards him. He was one of the Grandfathers of our Ordinariate.

He used the occasion of the fourth centenary of the First English Prayer Book to preach a sermon which concluded with the summary that Archbishop Cranmer was

"always, from first to last, dependant on an imperfect text of Scripture, on a narrow range of Patristic material, as yet but partially understood in relation to its true historical character, and above all on 'the latest thing from Germany'. It is hardly surprising that his laboriously fashioned structure proved to be, doctrinally and liturgically speaking, a house of cards. But it is ever to his credit that in his command of English and above all of the rhythm and melody of words, he bequeathed to us a treasury out of which may be fashioned in the end 'a manner of the holy communion' far more 'agreeable with the institution of Christ, St Paul and the old primitive and apostolic church' than ever was his own". 

"May be fashioned in the end"! A prophetic vision of our admirable Ordinariate Missal!!

(Thanks to Professor Tighe for unearthing this text for me some years ago.) 


11 October 2018

Kai Lung and Tsu Pich

Discerning people nowadays, surely, have Friends; Close Friends; and Lake Garda Friends. These  last they look forward to meeting annually at the Gardone Riviera Conference.

It was one of these, dear Alex Sepkus, who, I think three years ago, introduced me to the 'Chinese' story-teller Kai Lung. Ernest Bramah's stories seem to have appealed in the 1930s particularly to those who, in Dorothy Sayers' phrase, are intoxicated with words. Wimsey, for example, and Belloc.

The essential linguistic register in these rococo tales is a combination of extreme ritual self-deprecation with an equally mannered elevation of the person addressed ... even in situations which factually belie the language employed.

Here, for example, Ernest Bramah descibes a murderous bandit kidnapping a hapless traveller:

"Precede me to my mean and uninviting hovel, while I gain more honour than I can reasonably bear by following closely in your elegant footsteps, and guarding your Imperial person with this inadequate but heavily-loaded weapon."

I could not help thinking of Kai Lung when I read of how a lofty (although diminutive) individual called Tsu Pich had treated a mean and lowly personage called Kal Chick. Consider this passage:

"For some weeks now, I have become increasingly concerned about a number of issues at Resurrection Parish. It has become clear to me that Kal Chick must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support, so that his needs can be assessed".

 Philogical notes: 
 Concerned: nowadays, lofty and grand  people are never angry or even worried. In the impassibility of their Olympian fastnesses, they are concerned. 
Issues: in today's world and today's Church, we happily do not have problems. We do, however, have issues, which no longer means that our wives have born children, but that ... er ... we have ...er ... problems.
Receive pastoral support: modern management never does anything hostile, vindictive or harmful; everything done is always for the good of the victim. 
His needs ... assessed: ditto.

So, in the idiom of Kai Lung and Tsu Pich, an ordinary vernacular English analysis such as "This guy needs to be taken away and thoroughly beaten up" gets translated into "We shall give him pastoral support and assess his needs".

It makes the legendary Spanish Inquisition seem almost inviting, doesn't it?

10 October 2018

Montini and Modesty in Martyrdom

As we contemplate the impending canonisation of Blessed Montini, my undisciplined mind has started to meander among some of the more recondite goodies which the mox-Sanctus is responsible for having introduced into the Liturgy ...

Since I am a classicist, certain lines in S Ambrose's Hymn about S Agnes, brought into the Liturgia Horarum by Dom Lentini's coetus, drifted into my memory ... lines which might cause other Classicist readers the momentary puzzlement engendered by an obscure feeling of familiarity. Yes, you have read something like this in 'profane' Classical poetry.

The hymn contains the lines

Nam veste se totam tegens
terram genu flexo petit
lapsu verecundo cadens.
[ For, covering herself completely with her garment she made for ground with bended knee, falling with a modest fall.]

In the back of my mind was the thought that it sounded like Euripides and probably came from the Iphigeneia in Aulide (where Agamemnon secures a wind to get his fleet to Troy so that Helen can be retrieved, by the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigeneia). But a reading through the Messenger Speech near the end of that play proved the falsity of my suspicion. I sat stymied, until the Muse who looks after Liturgical bloggers (who she?) slipped into my mind the name Polyxena. Yupp! There it is in Euripides' Hecuba (so I was right about the author). Polyxena was a Trojan princess, loved by Achilles, who, after the Fall of Troy (and death of Achilles) was sacrificed upon his tomb, so that, so to speak, he got her in the end ...

Then the Pierian Lady vouchsafed me a second flash of enlightenment: it's also to be found in the Metamorphoses of the Greatest Latin Poet, Ovid. There you have the same three ideas: she covered herself; she fell to the ground on her knee; she fell in a way that did not betray her modesty.
Euripides: katheisa pros gaian gonu ... thneskousa homos pollen pronoian eikhen euskhemon pesein, kruptousa ha kruptein ommata arsenon khreon.
Ovid: illa super terram defecto poplite labens pertulit intrepidos ad fata novissima vultus; tum quoque cura fuit partes velare tegendas, cum caderet, castique decus servare pudoris.

Given the fact that each of these lubricious authors kept a frivolous tongue fairly consistently in a wicked cheek, I suspect that each is amusing himself with a little dry irony at the idea that a girl who was being poleaxed might be preoccupied with the need to prevent the chaps from getting a glimpse of her knees (Euripides had already enjoyed a bit of a schoolboy snigger, surely, in making Talthybios, a few lines earlier, praise Polyxena by saying that she had better breasts than a statue).

Entertainingly, the 'reformers' who provided the texts of the Hymns for the Liturgia Horarum missed out four lines, explaining that they did so because the lines 'nimis insistunt in praedicando pudore' [they go a bit too far in preaching modesty]. What a lovely and revealing (!) Sixties assumption: the idea that going on too much about sexual continence is a mistake*!

One wonders if the 'reformers' ' studies and libraries provided generous views from their windows of the immodest Sixties garments worn by the floozies (lupae, as we and pope Benedict might call them) in the Roman streets outside. It would explain how Bugnini - whom I picture as a man modestly garbed in the Apron of the Craft and with his mind set on weightier considerations than knees - got away with so much liturgical dishonesty.

*Originally the text went

nam veste se totam tegit,
curam pudoris praestitit
ne quis retectam cerneret.
in morte vivebat pudor;
vultumque texerat manu,
terram genu flexo petit
lapsu verecundo cadens.

Perhaps vultum texerat would have made the Saint sound too Islamic. French gendarmes might have arrested her.

9 October 2018

Dr Jalland in 1934

I continue this little "Jalland" series, which I hope well-disposed readers have enjoyed, by giving you a sketch of what Church Life was like at S Thomas's in Oxford, and in thousands of Anglo-Catholic Churches throughout England, in the 1930s. As I hope discerning readers have spotted, I am not doing this out of mere nostalgia. I think, living as we now are in peace and communuon with the See of S Peter, we may still have a lot to learn from 1930's Anglo-Catholicism as we lift our eyes to a beautiful vision of how the current Latin Church could be, once she is awakened and vivified.

I know that many readers may not have agreed with the analysis Jalland and his fellows came to with regard to what the Church of England really was. I would like to feel that we could leave those judgements to the Great Judge. Because what I desire to focus on is what the old Anglo-papalists thought they were doing: building up again the great edifice of Catholicism in places where they thought it had been obscured and perhaps even lost.

And is that not where we are today in the Catholic Church?

While I was browsing through the S Thomas's archives, the following 'Vicar's Notes' from 1934 attracted my attention; not least for the sense of a vibrant Catholic parish life during that decade when the Catholic movement in the Church of England was riding so very high. Jalland is writing about the observance of the Patronal Festival, of the Translation of S Thomas of Canterbury, on Saturday July 7.

"On that day there will be Masses at 6.30, 7.30, and a High Mass at 9. It is likely that the first evensong of the feast will be sung at 7.30 p.m., on Friday evening, at which there will be a Sermon by the Reverend Canon A.G.G. Ross, Vicar of St Mark, Swindon. It is hoped that there will be many who will take advantage of this opportunity of adding corporate worship to their personal preparation for the Feast. Confessions will be heard on several days before the Festival ... On the Sunday in the Octave the Sermon at Mass will be preached by the Rev. C. Gill, of St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, and after Evensong by the Rev.D Sargent, Vicar of St Cross, Holywell ..."

Mass, fasting, before breakfast; multiple morning Masses and a High Mass on a weekday morning; First Evensongs; high jinks continuing into the Sunday within the Octave; lots of confessions; and oodles of Visiting Preachers. This is the Anglo-Catholicism which Betjeman remembered and celebrated in his verses, when "the Faith was taught and fanned to a holy blaze". I suspect that those inter-war years were the last sparkling times before the Luftwaffe destroyed so many of the old Anglo-Papalist slum churches and British governments dispersed the remnants of their congregations into suburbs and high-rise flats.

A speculation of mine is that some of these Patronal celebrations may have owed a lot to what the Anglo-Catholic clergy saw on the Continent. I have in mind Canon Doble of the Diocese of Truro, who did so much research into the Cornish Saints by hunting down the cultus those same saints  enjoyed in Brittany (giving, as he did so, the French clergy whom he met the cheekily inaccurate impression that the entire Church of England was really totally Catholic!). Because it is my impression that Patronal Festivals never were and never have been very prominent in the culture of Irish-English Roman Catholicism. And, in any case, we rather prided ourselves in not aping the English Catholic Church.

Is this a Catholicism which needed the 'liturgical reforms' which followed so soon after the War? Were the 'reforms' of Pius XII - abolition of Octaves and First Evensongs - abolition of Fasting Communion and non-communicating High Masses - really advances? Have they really bequeathed to us a more flourishing, cheerful, inculturated Catholicism? 

We can never put the clock back ... but we can learn from the mistakes of the post-war years.