2 April 2020


Circulating on the Internet are texts purporting to come from the Congregation for Divine Worship, allegedly authorising formulae for use (in the Naughty Ordo) in time of plague.

One phrase sticks out: God is invited to "grind your people down" (tere).

Is this
(1) a cheeky compositor's attempt at a witticism, rather like the infamous Harcourt Interpolation in The Times newspaper of 23 January 1882? Or
(2) an April Fools' Day joke in rather poor taste? Or
(3) yet another typo in the unbroken tradition of typos and howlers which have made the CDW such a laughing stock over the last half-century?

Mariam invoca: our Lady in time of plague

I offer you my own my recension of this medieval antiphon to our Lady in time of plague. I have expanded e into ae where modern convention requires this, and arranged it so as to bring out the rhymes.

You could call it a sort of sonnet ...

Stella caeli extirpavit
  (quae lactavit Dominum)
mortis pestem, quam plantavit
  primus parens hominum.

Ipsa stella nunc dignetur
  sidera compescere,
quorum bella plebem caedunt
  dirae mortis ulcere.

O gloriosa stella maris,
a peste succurre nobis.

Audi nos: nam Filius tuus
  nil negans te honorat.
Salva nos, Jesu, pro quibus
  Virgo mater te orat. 

The first two stanzas and the final one employ trochaic tetrameters catalectic in the style of those of Pange lingua. But at O gloriosa a syllable gets added and the regularities of both rhyme and rhythm are subverted: does this heighten the emotion?

In the final stanza, I suggest that Filius is to be pronounced Filyus, and I write nil for nihil. I am far from sure that I am right about these two lines!

A translation on the internet makes a hash of quorum ... ulcere by not realising that the verb is caedunt and that ulcere .is an ablative singular, its ending guaranteed by the rhyme with compescere.

The Star of Heaven (who nourished the Lord) rooted up the plague of death which the first father of mankind planted; 
may that same Star now deign to hold in check the constellations, whose wars strike down the people with the sore of a dread death. 
O glorious Star of the sea, succour us from the plague. 
Hear us: for thy Son, denying thee nothing, honours thee. Save us, Jesus, for whom thy Virgin Mother implores thee.

Medieval science attributed plagues to configurations among the constellations ... helpfully reminding us that all 'scientific laws' are really just falsifiable hypotheses, God bless them.

I wonder if the Astronomer Royal is present at COBRA meetings ... 

1 April 2020

Modern Anglican Liturgy

The Christian Year: Calendar, Lectionary, and  Collects (Church House Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0 7151 3799 9) gave Anglicans a very fine text, authorised in Old Mother Damnable for use on today's festival of Priscilla Proudie, Educationalist and Worker for Women's Rights.

Almighty and Everlasting God, who raised up Priscilla Proudie from the low estate of the niece of a Scottish Earl, and made her equally adverse to impropriety of every description: grant us so to benefit from the example of her meekness and humility; that we may ever practise perfect abstinence from any cheering employment upon the Sabbath.

This collect is a perfect composition. Those learned in such matters will recognise the natural grace of the rhythmic cursus with which it is composed: one trispondaicus, and two examples of velox. None but a liturgical genius could have been so served by his own fine instincts as to produce such a masterpiece.

I feel sure that it must come from the pen of 'Bubbles' Stancliffe himself, quondam Bishop of Salisbury, whose deft and skilful hand guided the Church of England through the minefields of Liturgical Revision. You might call him the Great Anglican Bugnini. Does any reader know whether he, too, belonged to 'The Craft'?

He had begun life as One of Us; opposed to disorders such as the 'ordination' of women. But something led him astray.  I remember to this day the moment when a dear episcopal friend of mine, Christopher Luxmoore, strode into the Senior Common Room during breakfast complaining "Have you heard? Stancliffe has ratted".

The postman, faithful soul, brought Bubbles his mitre the very next morning. 

[Perhaps I have condensed that narrative a trifle ... but notalot ...]

As a somewhat 'rigid' authority might have put it, "Verily I say unto you, he had his reward".

So many of those right reverend b*****ds did.

H/t to Joshua, Liturgiste Extraordinaire,  for his painstaking research.

31 March 2020

The beginning of the beginning ...

Last time we had a health scare ... was it the Avian Flu in 2009? ... when I was still in the Diocese of Oxford, we had a hearty laugh about a diocesan statement which went into great detail about who would take over the diocese if the Diocesan Bishop died; which Area Bishop would be the next domino to fall after that ...

Happily, rather like CJD, that turned out to be a Damp Squib. Thank God for Damp Squibs. This time, when somebody has forgotten to dampen the squib, the Government has been asked which politico will take over if X dies, but has refused to give an anwer. Indeed, the whole business, so far, has been characterised by daily Press Conferences at which actual, down-to-earth, possibly useful, information is steadfastly refused.  Gracious me, talk about *n*lly retentive. Talk about condescending charlatans.

We are promised a letter from Boris Johnson to every household in the country ... millions more pieces of potentially infected rubbish shoved into letterboxes and needing to be safely disposed of. You'ld almost think ...

Talking about waste paper ... Johnson once wrote a biography of Churchill. I read it in Blackwells. It was pathetic; even a card-carrying admirer of Johnson, the historian Professor David Starkie, said how embarrassing it was. Johnson clearly has his life directed to one end: just as Churchill saved us from the Nazis, so he will go down as the Man of Destiny who saved us from ... er ... the EU. Coronavirus will undoubtedly have thrown this fanciful trajectory somewhat off course. But I'm still waiting for the Prime Ministerial Broadcast in which he will assure us that, while not the Beginning of the End, "This" (whatever 'this' might be) is the End of the Beginning.

It won't be. Johnson is not even a Montgomery.

But we always have the Conspiracy Theorists, jolly, jolly intellectuals, to cheer us up. However daunting their task, they always make everything connect with everything else, and how brilliantly they rise to each occasion. Being a simple soul, I am completely willing to believe the evidence they will undoubtedly present demonstrating that President Xi's second cousin twice removed once met the Chief Rabbi of Greenland; and that Mrs Xi's hairdresser's sister-in-law once slept with a man who was at the Chinese Embassy in Teheran at the very time when Hannibal Bugnini was Papal Nuncio there and doubling up as Worshipful Grand Master of the Teheran Lodge.

I'm sure that Marks and Spencers, Home of Boring Frocks, must be involved, too.


30 March 2020




In happy yesteryear, the feasts of the Roman Calendar Year appeared in an intoxicating variety of  categories ... stretching from the lordly Doubles of the First Class (corresponding to Pop at Eton) all the way down to poor little Simples (fags). This diversity had not arisen out of a desire for Complexity in se, but to take account of practical distinctions which needed to be clarified. Twentieth century revisers made a bonfire of nearly all these distinctions (rather like the Jesuits in Oxford burning all their relics) when, on 26 July 1960, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued the Decree Novum Rubricarum, establishing instead the classifications of First, Second, and Third Class feasts (with mere Commemorations available for some real celestial losers). (The eagle-eyed will have noticed that this had nothing to do with 'the Council', which had not then begun.)

                                                   THE NEW DECREE

But the need to make practical distinctions between levels of liturgical celebration tends to reassert itself. So, in the new 2020 CDF Decree about the Calendar of the 1962 Missal, a new category has been invented. We now have a List (Elenchus) of III Class feasts "which cannot be impeded". This specifies some seventy such feasts which are Protected from being displaced by new liberties conceded in the Decree.

There is another feature to this List: these Protected celebrations may, optionally, be used on ferias of Lent and Passiontide. So, if the CDF had not left the publication of this Decree until it was too late (Conspiracy? or Cock-up?), you could have said Mass of the Archangel S Gabriel on March 24. (But ... no; the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of our blessed Lady does not appear on the List.)

["I've got a little list ... I've got a little list ..." The provision that these Protected third class feasts could even displace Lenten and Passiontide Ferias, may possibly have been added at a late point in the drafting. I make this textcrit comment on the following evidence: in a Decree generally speaking free of howlers (I only noticed 'pubblici'), this sentence has two typos ... as if it had been added by an unlatinate typist on the instructions of somebody with dodgy handwriting ... "Dieta festa celebrari possunt etiam in feriis III classis Quadragesimae et Passionis, facta commemoratione ferire iuxta rubricas."]

Of course, the most interesting thing about this Decree is the addition to the Calendar of those canonised since 26 July 1960. What has been done? Are we all going to have to say Mass of ... e.g. ... S Paul VI? How soon? Can I say Votives of him too? Please please, tomorrow? The cloth of gold vestments ... hang on, chaps ... don't go wild ...

                                    ADDITIONS TO THE EF CALENDAR

 I think the CDF has been remarkably sensitive and pastoral. 100 marks out of 100. Because:
(1) It doesn't add any such Sancti to the EF Calendar at all.
(2) It permits such observances. And leaves it all to you!
(3) If you say such a Mass, you  may say the corresponding Office (or you may choose not to).
(4) If you do go down these paths, you are not allowed to use even the Collect authorised for the Ordinary Form. You have to stick to the Extraordinary Form Communia.
     [I think that in some ways (4) is a shame. I have been using the OF Collect for S John Henry Newman, simply changing presbyterum to confessorem. BUT there may very well be rational folks around who are prepared, even if grudgingly, to accept the proposition that "Saint X" really is in heaven, yet rather dislike the grounds alleged in his Collect for his liturgical commemoration. When the Not very nice Ordo was invented, the text of some of its its Collects was one of the cracks through which the virus of error seeped theough into liturgical life. So I sense here a deft and judicious piece of Social Distancing ... at least two yards of it  ... between the Spirit of the Roman Rite and the Spirit of Hannibal Bugnini.]

Good on yer, Cardinal Ladaria. Nice one.

So, Fathers, you will need to use the Communia. You can select which Common, where the Missal provides alternatives. (Incidentally, there is no mention of beati.) Just think: each of you can devise his own Supplementum of post-Conciliar Popes and Saints, and compose his own Decree authorising himself to use it!! What more could a faithful presbyter want!!! The CDF Decree instructs you to observe these Saints on the day provided legislatively for the Universal Church. And, of course, you must avoid the dates of feasts on the List.

                                          HOW MANY TO CHOOSE?                  

Wikipaedia helpfully indicates 238 canonisations as having occurred since the date in 1960 specified (111 of them by S John Paul II). If any keen researcher had the energy to work through the data, it would be interesting to know how many of those 238 reached the Universal Calendar (a) as optional memorials, or (b) as compulsory memorials. And then to know if any of these collided ('Occurrence') with the Protected Feasts on the new List.

My only criticism of Cardinal Ladaria is that he didn't save eventual time and hassle by providing a place on the Calendar ... and fullest, fullest, propers ... for Pope S Francis I. I could have helped him to compose them ....

                                                 REJOICE, REJOICE

Three concluding observations.
(1) The Decree carefully explains how widespread its consultations have been (did they include the SSPX?). The corresponding Decree promulgating the 'new' Prefaces makes no such claim.

(2) Despite some levity in my above comments, I applaud the emphasis on Subsidiarity in this legislation. It carries on the radical application of Subsidiarity (which so infuriated poor Cardinal Cormac and his cronies) in Summorum Pontificum. For fascisti episcopali, 'Subsidiarity' tends to be glossed to mean 'All Power To Bishops And Especially To Me'.

(3) The Decree twice quotes the De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et Beatorum Canonizatione. Since the learned and admirable Prospero Lambertini wrote his magnificent treatise before his election as Benedict XIV, it is interesting to see it referred to in the footnotes as by 'Benedict XIV'. And it is nice to know that it now has full Magisterial status!! I had better nip along and tell him. Oops ... I forgot ... Ashmole is closed because of ... quo confugiemus ...

29 March 2020

Rededication (3)

The Prayer which Cardinal Merry del Val composed and which Leo XIII commended (and iindulgenced) in his Letter (1895) Ad Anglos, is very properly used as the basis of the prayers suggested for our use at the Rededication.

There is a certain naive but pleasing simplicity about the following prayer, composed probably by Fr Hope Patten, and for use on the site of the Priory High Altar. It is found in his 1928 (first) Pilgrims' Manual; possibly some of its wording may reflect the 'Prayer Book Controversies' of 1927-8.

I imagine that Walsingham, the shrines, the churches, the sites of the original Holy House and of the Priory, are shut down as I write this ... which, curiously, puts us all this morning into the same boat, of being able to be there in spirit only.

Pardon, O Lord God, the sacrilege of our forefathers, who, from greed, or fear, or any other motive, defiled Thy holy House. Here, in the holy pyx, Thy most sacred Body reposed; food at all times for the weary pilgrim, the whole and the sick. Lord Jesus Christ, we adore Thee present in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar throughout all the ages, on all the Altars of Christendom, where the blessed Eucharist has been, and is, reserved.

And to quote Erasmus: "O Khaire Iesou meter eulogemene, mone gunaikon theotokos kai parthenos ...
 ...   geras megiston aito, theosebe ten kardian pason t'hapax hamartion eleutheran. "

28 March 2020



 In the first Christian Millennium, It often happened that a liturgical book offered a proper preface for every single Mass formula. As well as the obvious references, I also offer you, in illustaration, our own Anglo-Roman Leofric Missal.

During the second Christian Millennium, the number of prfaces was drastically reduced.

After Vatican II, there was a new resurgence of prefaces (I don't know what the Conciliar Mandate was for this).

In 1759, Pope Clement XIII had extended the Trinity Preface to all Sundays not in the seasons of Christmas-Epiphany, Lent; and Easter-up-to-Trinity-Sunday-inclusively. Previously, the Common Preface would, fairly generally, have been used.


2015A had proposed to extend the 1738 Advent Preface to the entire world. It also floated the idea of a Preface for the Gesima Season; a Preface which I discussed at some length this year on February 8 and 9. I am not going to repeat that discussion here.

2020 does not repeat these suggestions. It thus in effect leaves the Trinity Preface to be used throughout Advent and "Pre-Lent". The "Note for the presentation" explains why.
The Congregation decided to provide "texts for particular occasions such as feasts of Saints, votive Masses or ad hoc celebrations, without making any changes to the celebration of the temporal cycle. This choice was made in order to safeguard, through the unity of texts, the unanimity of sentiments and of prayer that are appropriate for the confession of the mysteries of Salvation celebrated in what constitutes the backbone of the liturgical year. In addition, the historical development of the Corpus Praefationum of the Missale Romanum up until the middle of the 20th Century shows a general movement towards the use of new prefaces for occasional celebrations rather than for celebrations of the temporal cycle."

So the Gesima Preface never got lift-off; the Advent Preface of 1738, indicated in the SSPX French-language ORDO, goes AWOL.

But not necessarily for ever. "In addition, it should be noted that the Decree does not cancel any eventual concessions of proper Prefaces granted in the past, and therefore in those particular cases where there already exists, on the basis of preceding permissions, and for the same liturgical circumatance, a particular Preface, one may choose between that Preface and the newly approved text.".

It is not clear to me what this means. Is it looking to 'eventual' regrants of a preface such as the 1738 Advent Preface; or ("already exists") affirming the abiding validity of old grants?


In my unhumble opinion, the sensible and real choices are either to argue
(1) that the CDF should be asked to reconsider the matter of the Advent and Pre-Lent Prefaces; or
(2) that the Roman Rite, with its severely and primitive binitarian instincts, does not favour the imposition of a Trinitarian character on most of the Sundays of the year, so we should go back to the pre-1759 situation and use simply the Common Preface on Sundays through Advent and Pre-Lent; or
(3) that Sunday is by nature Trinitarian; as long ago as the pre-Gregorian exemplar which Moelcaich the scribe of the Stowe Missal copied, the preface has had a Trinitarian character ... rather as it does in the Byzantine Rite. So ... back to Clement XIII.

On Monday, Dv, I shall discuss the Calendar in the new Decrees.

27 March 2020

The Dowry Dedication (2)

Possibly the concluding part of the prayers suggested to us is regarded as loosely based on Erasmus: "O alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin most pure, sinful as we are, we come to see you who are all pure, we salute you, we honour you as how we may with our humble offerings. May thy Son grant us, that imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Spirit may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul, and once conceived never to lose Him. Amen."

If so, I would observe that "Mother and Virgin" does not quite cature the Erasmian "theotokos kai parthenos". "We come to see you" has a suburban ring to it; "We honour you as how we may" seems to me a curious piece of English; and, most curiously of all, in the first sentence we have " ... you ... you ...you ..."; in the second sentence, " ... thy ... thy ...". It looks to me as though somebody has been doing some very hurried cutting and pasting.  



The CDF, which now has competence with regard to the Old Mass, has recently issued two decrees. I will refer to them as 2020.

They were approved in audientia by the Roman Pontiff on December 5 last year; they were promulgated on 23 February; and came into force ... in secret! ... on 19 March; and are now, since Wednesday, on the Internet. Although, last time I looked, the full texts promised seemed not to be there. Interesting delays. I wonder if they are now being published because newsgatherers are otherwise preoccupied ... I say this because there are some very good features in these events!

Firstly ... that there is movement with regard to the Old Rite. Some will find this paradoxical; do we really need change? But there never never never has been, in the Roman Rite, as long a period as 1960-2020, in which there have been no changes. A Liturgy set immutably in granite is profoundly untraditional! And these Decrees make clear that the Old Mass really is here to stay. I suspect that this fact will infuriate many trendies. Furthermore, all the provisions now being made are optional; nobody is being bullied; and so the Gamaliel Principle will be allowed to prevail.

And one at least of the 'new' Prefaces goes directly against the "Official Theology" (Professor Tom Pink's neat term) which has prevailed since the 1970s.


(1) In 2015, some confidential proposals went round from Ecclesia Dei, recommending seven new Prefaces; and, rather more tentatively, suggesting seven more. I shall refer to these proposals as 2015A and 2015B.
(2) There has long been a group of Prefaces called colloquially the Neo-Gallican Prefaces, found (among other places) in the Paris Missal of 1738. One of these was commandeered in 1919 by Benedict XV as the Preface for the Dead; a group of them has long been authorised and used by Francophone dioceses given the faculty to do so. The French missions of the SSPX have used this group and, according to their ORDO, still do. I will refer to these 'Parisian' Prefaces as 1738..

Now for the new Decree. I will list the seven prefaces it promulgates.
(a) the Blessed Sacrament;
(b) All Saints and Patrons;
(c) the Dedication of a church.

All three of these are 1738, and currently in use by the SSPX.

(d) for Weddings. This is not in the group used by the SSPX, but it is a very fine preface found in 1738 and coming ultimately from the Hadrianum and the Gelasianum vetus. I can see no reason not to welcome it with open arms. Only a bigot would spurn it because it had the misfortune also to appear in the Novus Ordo.
(e) the Angels. From the Novus Ordo. It is a retouched version ("ritoccata" is the word people use in Rome) of a Preface in the Verona Sacramentary. It seems to me commonplace. I doubt if I shall use it.
(f) S John Baptist. Now ... here's an oddity ... neither 2015A nor 2015B contained a preface for this most important Saint. I could never understand why.
    You see, the group of Neo-Gallican Prefaces used by the SSPX does contain a Preface for S John from 1738. In fact, it goes back well beyond 1738, being found in the Verona Sacramentary and the Supplementum.
    The Preface now (2020) provided is a Novus Ordo revision of this ancient formula.
    I have been using the 1738 Preface. But I think I will accept this new version of it instead. After all, when the Preface for S Joseph was authorised by Benedict XV, it was a completely new composition. If Benedict XV could do that in 1919, I don't see how I can refuse Francis I the right to do this in 2020. Neither theoretically nor practically am I a sedevacantist.
(g) Martyrs. A Novus Ordo Preface cobbled together from three old ones. (It appeared in 2015B.) I dislike this characteristically 1960s way of carrying on. I shall not use it.

What about the Prefaces commended in 2015A? That list contained (a), (b), (c) and (e). Also, a Novus Ordo one for Saints which has now happily vanished. Also, an Advent Preface (1738) and one for the Gesimas (Novus Ordo retouching of a very old and elegant Preface). I will discuss the interesting non-appearance of these two in 2020 in my next section.

To be continued.

26 March 2020

Euripides; and the National Rededication to our Lady of Walsingham (1)

On Sunday March 29, we are to rededicate this kingdom of England to our blessed Lady. Today and the next two days are a triduum of devotion in preparation for that event.

The prayers circulated for use are said to be based upon Erasmus' Prayer to our Lady ... I'm not quite sure which parts of the formula draw upon Erasmus.

In the Anglican Pilgrims' Manual at Walsingham, the first edition of which was put together in 1928 by Fr Hope Patten when the Shrine was still in the Parish Church, is given a somewhat mangled text of the Vow which Erasmus composed for his 1511 pilgrimage to our Blessed Lady (the self-same year that a bare-foot Henry VIII made the pilgrimage: see lines 7-8). That Manual does not reveal that the original was a delightful exercise in perfect Attic Greek iambic trimetra. Here is a complete if wooden translation; I spotted the Greek text, by the way, while browsing through the Merton Priory copy of Erasmus in Bodley. (vide The Life of Erasmus, 1726, Appendix page xliv)

Hail! Jesus' Mother, blessed,
Alone of women God-bearing and Virgin,
Others give to thee other gifts,
This man gold, that man again silver,
5. Yet another brings and offers freely precious stones
In return for which they ask in return, some, health of body,
Others, wealth, and some hope for their wives
To conceive, that they have the lovely name of Father.
Some of them hope to obtain lives as long as [Nestor] the Old Man of Pylos.
10. But I, a poet, devoted but poor,
Bringing verses - for I cannot bring anything else -
Beg as a return for my worthless gift,
The greatest prize, a devout heart
Free once for all of all sins.

This is a reworking of the Greek topos, going back through Horace to Sappho, which Eduard Fraenkel (whom in a wondrous benefaction Adolf Hitler sent to Oxford to transform Classical studies here) taught us to call a priamel; "Some .... Some ... Some ... but I ... ". And, in this text, we find also the old convention of the Poor Poet.

Did Erasmus read his poem aloud by the flickering lights in the Holy House in Tudor Walsingham? I like to imagine that he did; to think of the New Learning, the Renaissance world, there at our Lady's feet; to imagine that funny little Dutchman as he murmured verses that Euripides could have written ... if only Euripides had been a Catholic Christian. Which he would have been if ...

25 March 2020


Are the senior Archangels punsters? S Gabriel certainly was; he hailed our blessed Lady with the words Khaire kekharitomene (incidentally I consider it highly probable that the Holy Family, and the Twelve, were Greek-speaking).

The second of those two words is a Greek perfect participle passive. Perfect participles in Greek refer to a present state which is the result of a past action (like our English expressions "the married" and "the dead"). So the word means that Mary is a having-been-graced-person; as the result of her Immaculate Conception (in the past) she is (now) crammed full of grace. Christine Mohrmann tells us that "several early translations, the North African Codex Palatinus (e), as well as the European , perhaps Illyrian, translation of Codex q29, render the words of St Luke ... by ave gratificata!

This Latin word looks exactly like a Latin equivalent of that Greek perfect participle passive. Mohrmann points out that words formed like this "were very popular in Early Christian Latin ... [i]n this way, one single word was sufficient to reproduce the full meaning of the Greek ... one cannot dismiss the early Bible translations as clumsy products of semi-literates, as is too often done in Classically minded phililogical circles."

It is, I am sure, no coincidence that the next paper in this Collection, Volume III of Mohrmann's collected papers, is her deservedly celebrated 1947 hatchet job in Vigiliae Christianae on the disgraceful new translation of the Psalms concocted by Cardinal Bea at the instigation of Pius XII. She quotes Bea's words advocating "Una Traduzione latina dei salmi che ... si attenga al vocabulario, alla grammatica e allo stile di quel migliore periodo della latinita", i.e. the Augustan period.

I'm sure they used to say in German seminaries, "Sancte Tulli, ora pro nobis" and "Sancte Horati, ora pro nobis.". I wonder what they say nowadays.

24 March 2020


I wonder if anybody knows of computer links to Old Rite, pre-Bugnini Chrism Masses this year?

I don't do Facebook and all the other smart things; I can just about slowly google my way to places on my aged computer.

How about the Archbishop of Vaduz? What about their Excellencies the Bishops of the SSPX?

I'm not keen to look in on Sedevacantists.

Or ... perhaps ... nobody will be doing Chrism Masses this year. In which case: how about videos of (completely unreformed) Chrism Masses in previous years?