9 December 2018

Methodist Chapels ... and 'Bible Sunday'

I find Methodist chapels disappointing. This is because so many of them have endured 'Reordering'.

The traditional English pattern for Methodist ... and other Protestant Non-Conforming ... chapels was that they were dominated, at the"ritual East end" by a broad pulpit, stretching most of the width of the chapel except for a stair up to it at left and right. A reading Desk marked the middle. Beneath the Reading Desk, there was a small table for communion services.

In chapel after chapel, all this has been removed. They now have an adaptable space, probably with some posters, children's toys, guitars  ...

So what? Why should I bother?

Well, I don't, a lot. But it seems to me that the ritually-expressed purpose of Worship, in the Methodist tradition, has been profoundly altered.

Because, surely, the meaning of the old set-up was: the proclamation of the Word of God is important; the Minister is to be regarded as an authoritative exponent of the Scripture and as one commissioned to summon the community to repentance and faith. His physical position even assimilated him to the Tabernacle in a Catholic Church or the Torah Shrine in a Synagogue.

Yes; it's dodgy expounding the religion of other people ... if you are knowledgeable, do feel free to engage critically with my assumptions.

The removal of the pulpit seems to me, until I am better advised, to suggest the unhorsing of that old tradition, and its replacement by something deemed to be less rigid and more flexible, with less authority to be discerned in the words of the preacher. Something more affective. If this is so, then I would regard the change as a divergence from the Catholic Tradition in as far as we do still consider Scripture as authoritative. And if I were to get rhetorical, as I so often do, I might make sarcastic remarks about a religion which began by claiming to be Bible-centred in a way that other Christians were alleged not to be [many West Country Methodist chapels still claim in stone above their porticoes to be "Bible Christian", one of the sects into which Wesleyanism split up] had ended up by dethroning the Word of God (as their penultimate stage before being sold for redevelopment into bijou residences named "Ye Olde Chapel").

As a mere observer and outsider (but still a fellow Christian), my complaint is that these once evocative and impressive buildings are now just dead boring little (or big) spaces.

They have no message. Rather like the empty red Art Deco telephone boxes just across the road.

8 December 2018

What is the CDF for?

Fr Thomas Rosica is a part of the Vatican Machine. He used to sit at the table during Vatican Press Conferences, defending the interests of the English Language and of his fellow Anglophones (he is a subject of The Queen's Majesty of Canada). He gave an impression of intelligence, competence, and imperturbability. He appeared to have a sense of language and of words.

On July 31, 2018, he published a piece on a platform called "Salt + Light Media". Towards the end of it, he wrote as follows:

"Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is 'free from disordered attachments.' Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture."

Philological questions: Why is the phrase 'free from disordered attachments' placed within the indications of reported speech? Is there significance in the initial t- of 'tradition' being lower case? Am I right to assume that 'its own' means 'the Church's own'?

The initial assertion that PF breaks 'traditions' is vague. In modern Anglophone culture, 'traditions' can easily mean minor picturesque and antiquarian oddities, such as keeping ravens in the Tower of London as guarantees that it will never be captured by the enemies of the realm, and objects for Japanese tourists to photograph. But when, later in this passage, the word is put in the singular, a different implication is evident: that the writer is entering those areas of theological discourse in which we discuss Tradition and Scripture together (or separately) as sources (or a source) of authoritative teaching.

A claim that a pope does or can set aside Scripture and Tradition can hardly be coherent with the teachings of the Council of Trent or Vatican I.

Prima facie, it appears to be formally heretical.

The assertion that the Church is 'openly ruled by an individual' suggests a personal monarchicalism which is difficult to reconcile with sound doctrine and, indeed, is hardly likely to appeal very much to the modern mind either.

The progressive logic of the second sentence appears to suggest that, while previously the Church was governed by a hierarchy which gave respect to Scripture and Tradition, she has now 'indeed entered a new phase' in which this has ceased to be true. This is a form of 'rupturalism' which seems to go far beyond even the controversial assumptions of the 'Bologna School' in their hermeneutic of Vatican II.

Does the assertion that PF is free from disordered attachments mean that, being, like our Lady, untouched by Original Sin and its consequences, he has a prelapsarian immunity from erring in his choices?

I find it hard to believe that members of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity can have been happy with the claim that PF's pontificate is free from Scripture or Tradition. Orthodox and Evangelicals alike, if they have read those words, are likely to have resolved that there is a far greater chasm now between themselves and the papal communion than they could ever possibly have dreamed there was before. (Orthodox, in particular, have their own internal reasons currently for being very shy of 'the heresy of papism'.) Anglicans and Lutherans may have heaved great sighs of relief that they never took dialogue with Rome very seriously and that, most mercifully, nothing much ever came of it anyway. You need to keep the peddlers of this sort of religious absurdity at several arms' lengths.

Rosica's words seem to me to represent the most extreme form of the ultrapapalist error that I have yet encountered. Most Bergoglian ideologues at least tend, with boring consistency, to attribute the problematic utterances of this pontificate to the Holy Spirit; or to invoke, inaccurately, Newman's views about 'development'. Rosica dares to attribute to PF, with approval, a right simply to change things 'whenever he wants' ... in other words, at whimsy. My own cultural tradition condemns such attitudes with talk of 'arbitrary power'. I wonder how common such unashamed ultrabourbonism is in Canada.

I would not myself like to be judged too harshly on the basis of everything I have ever written. We can all of us misspeak, and even miswrite. Probably, I do so much more often than I should. But, given his high profile, you would have thought that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith might have asked Fr Tom for explanations and clarifications in such a way that he would by now have formally recanted his very public prima facie heresies.

I wonder if they have?

Whether they have or not, whether or not he has recanted, the words he wrote stand in the evidential record as a most disturbing revelation of the extent to which grave formal doctrinal error is part and parcel of the everyday working assumptions of the 'sycophants and careerists' (well chosen words of Cardinal Mueller) who surround PF; the regular currency which passes from hand to hand in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

It is not surprising that matters in Christ's Church Militant are as dangerously bad as they are. The Gates of Hell must be feeling quite optimistic. S Paul VI spoke about the Smoke of Satan entering the Church through a fissure; in hoc aevo Bergogliano weapons-grade Poison Gas appears to have become the problem.

Apparently, our Enemy is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention.

 

7 December 2018

Satire and the Anglican Patrimony

Henry Chadwick, the towering Anglican intellectual of the second half of the twentieth century, believed that Blessed John Henry Newman was the most superb writer of Satire and of Irony in the English language. True! I wonder if you have read Newman's semi-autobiographical novel Loss and Gain. He exposes to our laughter the absurdities of popular Evangelicalism; of sonorous, pompous, and dignified Oxford dons who were ... well, actually just plain ridiculous (and far from well-read). So were the new religious movements thrown up by the ferment of the 1840s. With exquisite cruelty he analyses the hypocrisies of the comfortable domestic affluence, combined with a dilettante affection for the superficial trappings of Catholicism, enjoyed by a certain type of Establishment, monied, gothic-romanticist Anglican. Clearly, all this touched a raw nerve in the Ordinariate's Patron Blessed John Henry Newman, and the Novel was the only way in which he could express the strength of his feelings. And not much more gentle was his ironic mockery of those daft enough to believe that the Birmingham Oratory contained oubliettes in which heiresses were tortured to death for their inheritances.

Newman, frankly, took no prisoners. And his mode of attack is, essentially, to laugh at his adversaries. This, surely, is the most ruthless possible way of putting somebody down. If a person criticises you in a flat, humdrum, pathetic, terribly earnest style, he doesn't get to you. You cheerfully write him off as a poor, sad, silly old thing. But if he laughs at you ... ! You see, the victims of this sort of attack  quite simply ... to quote the martial figure of Corporal Jones of Dad's Army ... don't like it up 'em. The grander you are, the more surrounded you are by people who defer to you and treat you with respect and deference, the less you like the satirist. The more you are a bully, an obsessive oppressive, or a control-freak, the more indignant the satirist makes you feel. Ho anaginoskon noeito.

And, in many ways, our own age is made for the satirist. Never was there a time when the the Great, the Wise, and the Good, were less able to control a narrative ... the narrative ... any of the narratives. The Internet has done for them and all their shabby little techniques for establishing dominance. And if, right now, you would like a neat and brief gem of modern satire, fresh from the Ordinariate stable, turn to Dr Geoffrey Kirk's blog [gkirkuk], with its frequent pieces on Frankie and his naive correspondent Justin.

If, being Intellectuals, you would like an intellectual ... indeed, a theological ... account and justification of Satire and Laughter, I offer you the collection Essays in Satire by another brilliant Anglican, a generation later than Newman, who also brought his satirical gifts into the Catholic Church: Mgr Ronald Knox. In his Introduction, he entertained the argument that "our sense of the ridiculous is not, in its original application, a child's toy at all, but a weapon, deadly in its efficacy, entrusted to us for exposing the shams and hypocrisies of the world. The tyrant may arm himself in triple mail, may surround himself with bodyguards, may sow his kingdom with a hedge of spikes, so that free speech is crushed and criticism muzzled. Nay, worse, he may so debauch the consciences of his subjects with false history and with sophistical argument that they come to believe him the thing he gives himself out for, a creature half-divine, a heaven-sent deliverer. One thing there is that he still fears; one anxiety still bids him turn this way and that to scan the faces of his slaves. He is afraid of laughter. The satirist stands there, like the little child in the procession when the Emperor walked through the capital in his famous new clothes; his is the tiny voice that interprets the consciousness of a thousand onlookers: 'But, Mother, he has no clothes on at all!'"



6 December 2018

Father Aidan Nichols on Hyperultrapapalism

In his 2017 lecture to which I referred a little while ago, Dr Nichols, according to the Catholic Herald, said that the First Vatican Council had restricted the doctrine of papal Infalibility, so that it is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He went on:

"He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly given the piety which has surrounded the figures of popes since the pontificate of Pius IX, this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better".

The Catholic Herald added that Fr Aidan went on to wonder whether "given the limits of papal infallibility, canon law might be able to accommodate a formal procedure for inquiring into whether a pope had taught error" and "a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error". Such a procedure might be less "conflictual", Fr Nichols added, if it took place during a future pontificate, rather as Pope Honorius was only condemned for error after he had ceased to occupy the chair of Peter.

Such a process would "dissuade popes from any tendency to doctrinal waywardness or simple negligence."

5 December 2018

Excommunication

Some people have been wondering about the existence of Excommunication as a remedy available under Canon Law.

I can see why these anxieties have arisen. During a period of ecclesial tyranny like the present, such a penalty has the potential to be very dangerous. Perhaps it is less likely that PF would impose such a penalty ... after all, it might damage his carefully crafted PR image ... than that the theologically illiterate sycophants and careerists who are cheerfully riding along with this regime might do so in order to demonstrate the degree of their pathetic submission (I am employing, from "theologically" down to "submission", Cardinal Mueller's admirably frank and useful recent terminology).

But I do not agree with suggestions that excommunication should therefore be abolished. It is an essential (and biblical) concept. And, with regard to a particular priest who, according to media reports, has been excommunicated in the archdiocese of Palermo, I would rather not express opinions. That is because I know nothing about the case. I would remind traddies that it is dangerous to lionise anybody ... and that there are nutters in Traddidom just as there are (in such generous abundance!!) in Trendidom.

And, even in such unusual times as these when the evidence of Diabolic involvement grows daily more obvious, I think our fall-back position should be to trust the pastors in the Church until and unless we have good and clear evidence to justify doing otherwise.

                                        BUT

But there is one reform which I do regard as highly and most urgently necessary, both in issuing a sentence of excommunication and in asserting that a particular person has incurred such a penalty latae sententiae.

A very precise explanation should be publicly issued, both in canonical and theological terms, of why such a penalty is being imposed or discerned. Such an explanation should be prepared to run the risk of being too lengthy and too detailed and, if necessary, too technical. It should be utterly clear and should avoid woffly managerial episcobabble and convenient ambivalence, as well as the condescendingly 'clericalist' manner which seems to come so often with the Grace of Episcopacy.

As far as I am aware, Palermo has not done this.

Both the person concerned, and the Holy People of God, have a right to such facts. And if penalties also have the purpose of deterrence, it is proper that other people should know clearly what they should avoid in order not to suffer the same penalty. And academic communities, theological and canonical, should have the materials upon which to base an informed judgement about the validity and prudence of the proceedings. (There is no space for the fuehrerprinzip in a Christian community.)


This is what we of the Anglo-Saxon cultural tradition sometimes call ACCOUNTABILITY.

I hope it is not 'cultural imperialism' to commend it to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies!

4 December 2018

It is bad manners ...

 ... to pontificate upon the internal affairs of other communions; so I will probably not be forgiven for expressing a view that, in the current spat between Constantinople and Moskow, Moskow has distinctly very much the better of it. The assertion that Bartholomew has "fallen into the heresy of Papism" is, from a certain viewpoint, understandable ... indeed, persuasive.

Dom Gregory Dix loved to make snarky remarks about how the insignificant little see near the Bosphorus had "forged" its link with the Protoklete.

S Gregory the Great, I believe, rather disliked pretensions to 'Ecumenical' primacies! And he was not exactly without personal experience in how Byzantine primacies could work.

If people want a Universal Primacy, well, there are Biblical texts which can at least plausibly be used to prop up Roman claims (yesyesyes I know there are differing Patristic interpretations of the Petrine texts ... please don't bother to explain that to me because I won't enable you), but what on earth can Constantinople base its claims upon except for the rather unattractive Caesaropapism of its foundation and of its first millennium?

In a divided Christendom, I feel there is a lot to be said for the Ecclesiology clarified in those two admirable CDF documents Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus. Id est:

Separated bishoprics with 'valid' orders and Sacraments are true, albeit wounded, Particular Churches. 

They can be termed Sister Churches.

The operation of the Papacy, despite the support it can draw from Scripture and Tradition, can have problems, as PF is dramatically demonstrating at the moment. And it might not provide much immediate practical help in sorting out the essentially and murderously geopolitical problems experienced by Byzantine Rite Christians in post-Soviet Eastern Europe.

But, in my ignorant opinion, Catholic doctrine comes a million miles nearer to offering the beginning of solutions to such problems than the 'papism' of Patriarch Bartholomew.

If I were able to put my own questions, I might ask: on what grounds does either of those two patriarchates set up jurisdictions in the Canonical Territory (I hope I've got that phrase right) of the Roman 'Patriarchate', e.g. in Oxford or Paris? As a softie, I would concede the practical need for ad hoc arrangements. But if we turn to principles ... great nasty rigid things ...

And if Orthodoxy is the Catholic Church, why doesn't it restore a Roman 'Patriarchate'? With a genuine 'Orthodox' Patriarch of Rome?? Using, of course, the (uncorrupted) Roman Rite of the First Millennium [memories of Raymond Winch]? Perhaps ... because that would provide Embarrassments-All-Round?

It must be difficult, now that the two Patriarchates are at daggers drawn, for PF to work out which of the two he should cosy most enthusiastically up to. Perhaps he might as well finally give the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church its Patriarchate; with precedence immediately after the [Melkite] Patriarchate of Antioch (cum Alexandria cum Jerusalem) ...

 ... cats ... pigeons ...

 ... y'know, I think I rather agree with the apparent view of Benedict XVI that Patriarchates are a not unmixed blessing ...


3 December 2018

Coleridges and billabongs

An Australian prelate of this name (a relative?) is reported to have expressed the view, with regard to homosexuality, that "'Love the sinner, hate the sin' ... no longer communicates with ... the real world" in which sexuality is "part of [your] being".

I beg regular readers to forgive me for making yet again a point I have often made before when similar speakers have advanced similar ethical hermeneutics: Why does this gracious tolerance not also apply to paedophiles?

Or, perhaps, it does. Mgr Coleridge - I assume he has not been misreported - should tell us. It could help us all to be so much more relaxed and understanding about "pervert" priests. Who are we to condemn them? And to call them nasty names? After all, it is "part of their being", isn't it? God Made Them Like That, didn't He? We mustn't suggest that their sexuality is in any way "disordered", must we? Get cool, Man! Chill out! [Have I used those last idioms correctly?]

Psychopaths too ... I'm not an expert in these matters, but isn't their condition 'part of what they are'?

And perhaps the Most Reverend cobber could add an explanation of his words "no longer". When was the time when the aphorism did "communicate with the real world"? How long ago was that? What has happened so that, apparently, it now "no longer" does so? What has made it cease "communicating"? In what other areas of Moral Philosophy would he expect this principle to apply?

Or has such an important paradigm-shift so far only taken place in the gay billabongs of the Antipodes? When will this joyfully inverted and liberating morality reach us stodgy unsophisticates in the Podes, labouring as we still are under the cruel and deadening yoke of Heterosexuality? Is some Jolly and Most Reverend Swagman perhaps even now already making his topsy turvy way with it packed in his episcopal Tucker Bag? Verily verily I say unto him, "Advance Australia Fair!"

The ethical pronouncements of the proponents of Bergoglianity are so hard for us ordinary chaps and chapesses to construe, whichever way up you stand them.

(Is it true that 'a Matilda' is the idiomatic Oz term for 'a Bergoglianist bishop'? Does Mr Gammarelli supply their Tucker Bags? Does the ever-watchful eye of PF check to ensure that the Tucker Bags are neither Rigid nor Pharisaical?)

(Apologies to Joshua ... and my many other friends down under ... I will try to control my racism better ...)

2 December 2018

"Saint John Henry Newman, Doctor of the Church"

It looks as if our kindly and most erudite Patron may have a second miracle recognised enabling him to be canonised in October, during this present ecclesiastical year of 2019.

Great news!! It is reassuring to see the divine Hand powerfully at work in His Church.

But at the same time, we should remember the enormous skill with which the Enemy uses what is good and skilfully perverts it to his own ends.

The months leading up to the canonisation will be a time of enormous danger. The teaching of this great Doctor will be corrupted and misrepresented. The Eminent Graf von Schoenborn has already had a swipe at doing this (at the News Conference 'launching' Amoris laetitia). B John Henry, who spent his whole life opposing liberalism and indifferentism, and opposing cruel and corrupt ultrapapalist  'factions' in Rome, is likely to be repackaged as a forerunner of ultrapapalist and ethically dubious Bergoglianism; not to mention inevitable attempts to attribute to him the silly claim that X can "develop" not only into Non-X and but even into Contra-X.

Even PF's actual words at the ceremony of canonisation may quite possibly be painful to us, if he indulges his recurrent need to hurt people.

We should ensure that we know what Newman taught and how he lived so that we can detect and expose the sophistical falsehoods which will abound as we approach the canonisation.

It is likely that those in the Church who are promoting the acceptance of homosexual genital activity will revive the old claim that, in orientation if not in physical activities, Newman was homosexual. They will carefully ignore evidence such as entries in his Diary recording temptations he felt meeting girls at parties when, as a 15-year old schoolboy, he returned home for Christmas. Our age, which knows nothing of warm friendships between men because it is preoccupied so exclusively with genital fumblings, is not the best age to understand Victorian mores. My own subjective impression, for what it is worth, is that there is something extremely masculine about Dr Newman's calmly ruthless controversial methods.


The best biography I know of Blessed John Henry is the big fat one by Dr Ker, which quotes masses of Blessed John Henry's own words. I venture to suggest that, if anybody wants to know what they can buy you for Christmas, suggest this book ... then make the study of it one of your Lenten Exercises.

The next aim, surely, must be to secure him the title Doctor of the Church. S Edith Stein received that title pretty soon after her canonisation. Then, perhaps, "Patron of the Third Millennium".


1 December 2018

Anti-semitism in the Middle Ages and the twentieth century

During the Middle Ages, there were undoubtedly atrocities committed against Jewish people ... just as there were rather greater ones during the Century of the Triumph of the Enlightenment, between 1939 and 1945. But medieval intellectuals were usually aware of a healthier narrative than that of the anti-semitic bullies. This was because of their instinctive confidence in Holy Scripture. I reprint, with a couple of comments, an earlier piece of mine relating to this.

Most Sundays' Sarum/PrayerBook lections are basically the same as those in the Missal of S Pius V, although with dislocations which put Epistles and Gospels onto different Sundays.

But sometimes, there is a real difference from the Pian lectionary. This happened last Sunday, when Sarum (followed by the Prayer Book) and many other Northern European uses had a quite different provision. In these uses we find an Epistle (well, actually, a Lesson from Jeremiah) and a Gospel (from S John) which both moved around a bit in the Middle Ages but pretty well always came just before or just at the start of Advent, as a taster and a preliminary for that season. Their loss is an impoverishment in the Missal of S Pius V and, a fortiori, in the Novus Ordo.

I will explain the importance of these readings in the words of Abbot Rupert of Deutz (1075- 1129) - a considerable mystagogue. I believe that we can learn from his words about what Scripture and the Tradition teach concerning the redemption of our Jewish brethren, in greater detail than we can learn it from the fumbling (but not unorthodox) Nostra aetate or that silly (non-Magisterial) document that came from Rome a year or two or three ago.

"Holy Church is so intent on paying her debt of supplication, and prayer, and thanksgiving, for all men, as the Apostle demands, that we find her giving thanks also for the salvation of the children of Israel, who, she knows, are one day to be united with her. And, as their remnants are to be saved at the end of the world, so, on this last Sunday of the Year, she delights at having them, just as though they were already her members! In the Introit, calling to mind the prophecies concerning them, she sings each year: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Verily, his thoughts are those of peace, for he promises to admit to the banquet of his grace, the Jews, who are his brethren according to the flesh; thus realising what had been prefigured in the history of the patriarch Joseph. The brethren of Joseph, having sold him, came to him, when they were tormented by hunger; for then he ruled over the whole land of Egypt; he recognised them, he received them, and made, together with them, a great feast; so too, our Lord who is reigning over the whole earth, and is giving the bread of life, in abundance, to the Egyptians, (that is, to the gentiles), will see coming to him the remnants of the children of Israel. He, whom they had denied and put to death, will admit them to his favour, will give them a place at his table, and the true Joseph will feast delightedly with his brethren.

"The benefit of this divine table is signified, in the office of this Sunday, by the Gospel, which tells us of the Lord's feeding the multitude with five loaves. For it will be then that Jesus will open to the Jews the five books of Moses, which are now being carried whole and not yet broken - yea, carried by a child, that is to say, this people itself, who, up to that time, will have been cramped up in the narrowness of a childish spirit.

"Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremias, which is so aptly placed before this gospel: They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but, The Lord liveth, which brought up, and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north-country,and from all countries whither I have driven them.

"Thus delivered from the spiritual bondage which still holds them, they will sing with their heart, the words of thanksgiving as we have them in the Gradual: It is thou, O Lord, that savest us from our enemies!

"The words we use in the Offertory: Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord, clearly allude to the same events; for, on that day, his brethren will say to the great and true Joseph: We beseech thee to forget the wickedness of thy brethren! The Communion: Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and it shall be done unto you, is the answer made by that same Joseph, as it was by the first: Fear not! Ye thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present ye see, and might save many people. Fear not, therefore, I will feed you, and your children.
" (The Reading is Jeremiah 23:5 ff; the Gospel, John 6: 5 ff, is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. My translations of the propers are taken from the Book of Common Prayer and the good old English Missal.)

This is a superb exposition, in the biblical and patristic 'typological' idiom, of an important theme in Pauline eschatology - see Romans 9-11. The crucial passage, Romans 11:25-28, is omitted from the new Sunday lectionaries. There is significance, I suspect, in the fact that modern lectionaries delicately step around this theme: the Eschatological Submission of the Jews to the Call of Christ. 

Sometimes I feel that, despite the call for a "richer table of Scripture" in Sacrosanctum concilium, the Scriptures read to the People of God have in some respects, paradoxically, been made conceptually narrower in the post-conciliar books. I commend (yet again) to the reader the fine Index Lectionum by Matthew Hazell ... a must-have for anybody seriously concerned with Liturgy. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback).

30 November 2018

S Andrew and the British Ordinariate

A very happy and holy Name Day to all those splendid people whose Patron Saint is S Andrew!

You don't need to be a Scotsman to have a devotion to S Andrew. His cultus is embedded also in the history of English Christianity in a way which goes back to the Roman origins of our Liturgy even before S Augustine had arrived off the shores of Kent. And it is most happily bound up with those heady days when England, after the Henrician schism, was reconciled to the See of S Andrew's brother.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, gives, for the most part, the same Sunday Collects, Epistles, and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V. But the Reading and Gospel for the Sunday Next Before Advent (taken, like most such Prayer Book material, from the medieval Sarum Rite) were, unlike the other Epistles and Gospels After Trinity, quite different from those in S Pius V's edition of the Roman Rite. Not because they are some sort of Protestant jiggery-pokery; they are thoroughly respectable lections offered to us by Tradition; they go back to the earliest Roman lectionaries, the Comes of Wuerzburg and Murbach.

The old Gregorian Roman and Prayer Book Gospel thus provided contains the John 6 account of the Miraculous Feeding, which is not only suitable as an eschatological meditation on the Messianic Banquet, but also gives prominence to S Andrew. I wondered if this is one reason why that pericope got selected; it was chosen at the time when the Sunday readings in the 'Green' seasons often reflected the themes of adjacent great festivals.  And S Andrew is, in the authentic ancient Roman Tradition, a very major solemnity indeed; an all-night vigil was held and the 'Leonine Sacramentary' offered three Masses in addition to the Vigil Mass; possibly because of S Andrew's closeness to S Peter?

The English Church, so laudably permeated by Romanita in its early days, perpetuated this 'Andreian' bias. The 'Leofric Missal', before it made its way to eleventh century Exeter and then, at the Reformation, to the Bodleian Library in this University, started its life as the working book of the Archbishops of Canterbury and has been thought by its (immensely painstaking) most recent editor (Henry Bradshaw Society 1999-2002) probably to have been copied from books brought from Rome to Canterbury by the Augustinian Mission. In its provision for the Consecration of Churches, this book appears to reflect a situation in which S Andrew is having a great many churches dedicated in his honour (i.e. it incorporates a prayer specifically relating to just this one Saint). And in fact, the percentage of 'Andreian' churches in England is well above statistical expectation. After all, S Gregory the Great named his great monastery on the Caelian Hill (from which S Augustine and his fellows came) after S Andrew, and it was pretty certainly he who added S Andrew to the Libera nos [he is absent from the pre-Gregorian form found in Stowe].

What a shame that the modern Roman Rite has so very little respect for this 'Andreian' tradition. Not least because not only is S Andrew the Patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and of several Orthodox countries; in Kiev, where tradition has it that S Andrew planted his wooden Cross, there now stands one the world's baroque masterpieces, the great Church of S Andrew (now a Cathedral of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church). Closer to home, his Feast was the splendiferous, coruscating day in 1554 on which Parliament begged Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary to intercede with the Legate, and Cardinal Pole reconciled this Kingdom to the Unity of S Peter. It was also the day, in 1569, when Frs Peirson and Plumtree reconciled the diocese of Durham to Catholic Unity and sang High Mass in that amazing Cathedral.

Unity Day!! A day, surely, to gather ones right-thinking friends, at least in spirit; to stoke up the fire and to line the bottles up; nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus.

More Wolves ... Pope Francis and the Black Death ...

S Peter, when he wrote his Catholic Epistle, envisaged danger as likely to come from the attentions of the Enemy who tamquam leo rugiens circuit. However, despite PF's pleas for Biodiversity, imaginative plans to reintroduce lions into the English countryside are not currently in the forefront of our public debate. Nor are we likely to release the small pox from its incarceration, or to launch battalions of genetically enhanced rats infected with the Black Death. Rigid Pharisaical obscurantism is thus still preventing the full and generous implementation of Laudato si. O we of little faith. But the Holy Father would undoubtedly be delighted to know that wolves now howl nightly around the precincts of Douai Abbey.

I have returned from the Abbey after preaching a retreat to a select group of highly intelligent ladies, one at least of whom was awakened at night by the authentically Gothick experience of the wolfpack discussing Brexit. Fr Guestmaster reassured us that, although one of the pack had escaped from its enclosure not long ago and had still not returned from its Annual Break, dangers were but minimal. I chased out of my fevered imagination a naughty fantasy that Father might himself be a werewolf just on the point of ...

I like Douai. Cardinal Allen greets you in Reception ... what a great Englishman and Oxonian he was. Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England ... but for a faulty weather forecast. I just love his cheerful and reassuring prediction that, in the days after the success of the Armada, not many of the Protestant governing class might have survived. And round the walls of the Guest Refectory (good food) hang portraits of an Alternative England which, so sadly, never got its chances. Queen Mary of Modena's Almoner in Paris  ... Bishop Richard Smith, who is described in his picture as Totius Angliae et Scotiae Ordinarius (same title as Mgr Newton's) ... Deans of the Old Chapter (now, 'Brotherhood') of the English Clergy, that august body of most superior men ... et tot alii totque clarissimi. Along the corridors hang monks who enjoyed the evocative style of (Titular) Abbot of Westminster. In the Library, serried ranks of English Recusant gentlewomen who founded and ruled English convents in the Low Countries. Formidable ladies; I would rather face the wolves than their disapprobation.

That Catholic England never got beyond being what you might call a Platonic Idea. But you can almost catch a glimpse of  it at Douai.

29 November 2018

Signum magnum ...

Tuesday's celebration of the Miraculous Medal ... and the very tasty Mass formula, with its allusions to the Johannine theology of the semeia ['Signs'] of the Lord ... inspired me to ask our Supplex Omnipotentia, our blessed Lady of Cana, for a Sign to strengthen the afflicted Church of which she is herself such a beautiful and powerful Sign.

I must confess that when I opened my computer on Wednesday morning I felt that my prayer had been answered. Lifesitenews provided the reactions of orthodox prelates to the current homosexualist furore. I have to single out the magnificent disdain of the magnificent Cardinal Mueller ("... effusions of an academic nobody..."); in the next pontificate, whatever role that man has, he must surely be involved in cleaning out the Augean Stables which PF has chosen ... such a strange predilection ... to inhabit.

And my eye was particularly caught by the piece from Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Two points.

(1) He situates the homosexualist onslaught in terms of  heresy. I think this is massively important. We should not let the machinations of a very nasty lobby obscure the fact that many people with a same-sex orientation live lives of heroic sanctity. By grace they triumph over temptation and are an example to ... to take just one example ... those heterosexuals who unchastely corrupt the marital act.

The current movement among some sick members of the Church to validate homosexual genital activity is far more evil in its conceptual roots than it is in particular disordered physical actions which, after all, are after repentance mercifully absolved. It is heretical because it overthrows the Natural Order and thus attempts to set individual autonomy above the Sovereign Rights of our Creator and Redeemer. Obvious stuff. Forgive me for labouring what readers will already know very well. Some of you will recall Archbishop Lefebvre's great cry They have uncrowned Him.

(2) Bishop Schneider writes "We have to notice an eclipse in the Papal exercise of this very task of strengthening the truth regarding homosexuality". Observe the words eclipse in the papal exercise ... . This is highly reminiscent of the phrase of Blessed John Henry Newman suspense of the function of the Ecclesia Docens. He used it in his analysis of the Arian Controversy, when most of the episcopate, including Pope Liberius, ceased to exercise their function of using their Teaching Authority. When complaints were made to Rome about his words, our great English Blessed made clear that he was not suggesting popes or bishops had lost their Magisterial authority, but observing, as a matter of historical fact, that for forty or more years they had chosen not to exercise it. Rome, wisely, did not intervene against him!

This is very close to where we are now. As Bishop Schneider is pointing out. No wonder they want to stop him travelling. Long live his airmiles!

And I liked Fr Fessio's suggestion that PhD means Philosophische Dumheit. These people need to be laughed at.


Exhilarating, Yes? A battle worth joining in, Yes? Nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus, Yes?