29 July 2021

Who actually wants the New Rite?

LITURGY

 The church of S Nicolas of Tolentino in the Diocese of Clifton hit the news with its LBGT mass a few weeks ago. Watching the video, I had a resurgence of a feeling I have expressed before. Who actually wants the "Ordinary Form" of the Roman Rite?

In things big and small, the Tolentino Liturgy exemplified the disturbing fact that ... nobody wants it. The celebrant wore no chasuble, but a curiously drab stole with a tassle at the back. He didn't ever genuflect. OK; perhaps he is too old and weak to genuflect. Perhaps his church is too impoverished to afford a chasuble. But he also inserted a Creed on a weekday; a Creed, moreover, bearing no resemblance to any Creed the Church has ever authorised. The celebrant apparently performed the Fraction during the Institution Narrative, as if that Narrative were some sort of enactment of the Last Supper. 

And I didn't actually watch the entire rite; I just flicked quickly through. But I saw enough to make clear that ... endless 'creativity' was the order of the day.

Earlier in the story of our Ordinariate, a distinguished lecturer told us that 'disobedience' was a part of the 'Anglican Patrimony' we needn't bring with us. The point (with its implied rebuke) was a fair one. But it fitted ill with the experiences which many formerly Anglican clergy were having at just that point.

As the newly 'resprayed' Anglican clergy spread out into Catholic parish life in the 'mainstream' Catholic Church, there was genuine amazement at the degree of liturgical disorder and rank disobedience which so widely prevailed among 'mainstream' clergy. Particularly, the incessant rewording of 'authorised' texts. So one continually got (even on Sundays) the pseudo-Hippolytan Eucharistic Prayer ... bad enough in itself ...  in a form 'made more relevant' by Father. Clericalism galore! And there was the dreadful and heterodox music ... about which the bishops of the US have recently written a very telling and intelligent Letter.

There are indeed some churches where these condemnations of the Novus Ordo would be unfair; but they are largely churches where the clergy would prefer to be saying the Old Mass but for 'pastoral' reasons are unable to do so; they therefore say the new rite with greater or lesser amounts of the spirit and spirituality of the old.

As far as the Calendar is concerned, I wrote recently about a Scottish bishop for whom what is really exciting seems to be a succession of secular celebrations which, if they are not syncretistic, at least gesture more towards a didactic syncretism than towards the Truth that is in Christ alone.

Any re-appraisal of the liturgical situation in the Latin Church should begin with an honest acceptance that nobody ... almost absolutely nobody ... whether Traddy or Trendy ... actually wants the Novus Ordo ... either its Order or its Calendar.

On both sides, it is disliked, or regarded as of little relevance, and, very widely, largely set aside. 

PF

To what extent is the same true of the current Roman Pontiff?

Bobby Mickens recently wrote: " ... it's not clear what Francis actually does want. And not just on his birthday, but on many things. ... Oh, he's written and said a lot. An awful lot. But that doesn't mean he always reveals what he's really thinking. And, at times, he says things that are hard to square with things he has said and done at oher times. In a word, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is somewhat of an enigma. He rails against clericalism, yet he can also be as clerical as anyone."

Traditionis custodes in Bristol.

 Bishop Declan is, I am sure, a Traditionis custos. He must be, because he is Bishop of Clifton; and because he will have read these words in Traditionis custodes:

"I am saddened by abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides. In common with Benedict XVI, I deplore the fact that 'in many places the prescriptions of the new Missal are not observed in celebration, but indeed come to be interpreted as an authorisation for or even a requirement of creativity, which leads to almost unbearable distortions' ... the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses ..."

His lordship reacted to TC within hours in as far as it applied to the Traditionalist Benedictines at Glastonbury. It would be jolly ... very jolly ... to hear how he is dealing with the church of S Nicolas of Tolentino ... with regard to which, I am representing a couple of earlier posts, today and tomorrow.

It's a tremendously exciting place ... they even have a Creed of their own!! Which ... rather counter-culturally ... affirms the goodness of the Covidvirus!!!

28 July 2021

Now the SPIRIT of Traditionis custodes is upon us!!

Like Vatican II, TC has now (after only twelve days!!) sprouted its own ghastly SPIRIT, which can even be directly contrary to the wording of TC, but still has to be as ruthlessly enforced.

According to Fr Zed, an American cardinal called Gregory has forbidden an Authentic Form Mass in an American church which ... is NOT a "parish church".

Simply a tyranny, isn't it, all this. You have to guess what Hitler or Stalin or that North Korean chappy really want, then you have to enforce it. If you know what's good for you.

This is what tyrants and their lackeys always really expect. They don't really take seriously even their own wretched enactments. They just want you to grovel.

Saint John Henry Newman and the Olympic games: ariston men hudor!

So what would be a really Patrimonial way of partaking ... spiritually, of course ... in the Olympic Games? 

I was once accorded the tremendous privilege of looking at Saint John Henry Newman's personal books at the Birmingham Oratory, in 'the Cardinal's' study (with adjacent chapel). Tiny discoveries can be as personally satisfactory as large ones, and here is such a one that I made. 

We all know that on Monday December 3, 1832, Newman left Oxford for the foreign travels which led him to Sicily, serious illness, and the writing of Lead kindly light. The Sunday before, he preached a University Sermon which has been regarded as the start of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. It concludes with a swipe at the Zeitgeist. This the same Newman as the one who, so many years later, responded to the Biglietto.

But what was he doing on the preceding Saturday? He was shopping ... for books. Devout tomes? Deary me, No. He bought a pocket copy of Thucydides; and one of Pindar! And we know he took them with him, because, in the back, there are lists jotted down of petty expenditures in Sicilian currency.

Isn't it a lovely mental picture; the slender, donnish, Oxonian, very English figure, plodding round the bumps near Syracuse and tracing (Thucydides in hand) the footprints of the ill-fated Athenian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War; then sitting in a hostelry and reading Pindar's mannered encomia (composed for the sumposion?) upon the equestrian victories of Sicilian rulers in the Olympic Games

I think I detected a wine-smudge on one page: so much for those first three words of the First Olympian! I wonder how Sicilian wine compared with contents of the cellars at Oriel.

Newman once said that he could never be a Saint because he loved literature too much. But the Church has over-ruled this apprehension.

After all, Mods dons might in some cases get to heaven!

27 July 2021

Vacatio Legis

Like most of those who have read Traditionis custodes, I was vastly intrigued by the bit right at the end.

Legal enactments of any and every sort, secular and religious, tell you when the new law will come into effect. Summorum Pontificum, for example, came into effect a couple of months after it was published. But TC was to come into effect as soon as it had been published in Osservatore Romano (a journal which, by a curious coincidence, went ... that day ... behind a paywall). 

So TC was shared with the world's media on a Friday; Osservatore Romano is published daily except on Mondays.

Why such unprecedented rapidity? Was PF afraid he might die?

How ill is/was he? The days have, I think, passed when Vatican bulletins about a pope's health used mendaciously to deny that he had the malady which all the world knew he did have. But ... do they tell all the truth? Assuming that every word they contain is true, can we be sure there isn't something which the medical report fails to mention? Or is he planning abdication? But there seem to be plans for him to visit Glasgow in the autumn to dance around on the stage at the eco-thing (and Slovakia, and Hungary).

Is the reason for the lack in TC of a vacatio legis (period before a law takes effect) a pure example of Bergoglian rage? He hates* us and 'our' Mass so much that he could wait no longer? The main victims of the lack of a period for implementation are the bishops, who are charged with making arrangements. Is PF saying: "If you've got a big practical problem with this, it's your own fault, for harbouring all those rigid fellows in your diocese"? That would fit in with an earlier press report that PF was planning to give power to the bishops "but not to the conservative bishops".

I incline to the 'rage' hypothesis. But I think PF may have shot himself in the foot here*. Failing to provide a vacatio legis is so unreasonable in a legislator that bishops far beyond the numbers of those who are bergogliocritical have noticed it. And the result has been that many bishops have made 'holding' statements while promising a fuller resolution when that have had time to think and to consult. In other words, they have awarded themselves de facto the vacatio legis which PF had decided to refuse them.

It may not always be wise for a legislator to force his subjects to take the law into their own hands. 

The world, and its bishops, have also been given a clear signal that this pontificate is entering its final phase, whether it will be death or abdication that terminates it. This can also be unwise.

Once it is obvious that a boss is soon to be gone, he suffers a most serious loss of auctoritas. In academic life one is very aware of this: I would be surprised if the same were not true of merchant banks, businesses, military units ... As soon it becomes clear that the Principal, C/O, or whatever, will, in the quite foreseeable future, be no longer able to reward those who have been 'on-message', or to disadvantage those who have been 'off-message', his/her position is gravely weakened*. I recall being at a heads-of-departments meeting where such a slippage first became apparent. The Principal ... a silly man but not a stupid one ... suddenly became aware of what was happening: I vividly remember his face during those moments.

It is obvious that one has very little reason to increase ones credit-holding in the treasury of favours done to the boss, when the boss will himself soon be unable to repay any of them. I think some of the responses to TC from American archbishops are marked by a realisation of such realpolitik. So, when any society is coming close to the foreseen end of one 'reign', there will be an inevitable period of instability within the group's internal dynamics; perhaps, even, regroupings. And the fears aroused by PF's vindictive malice (every line of TC is dripping with bile, is it not?) will, correspondingly, diminish. 

Already, Vincent Nichols has issued a sensible and pastoral take on TC ("In my judgement, these concerns do not reflect the overall liturgical life of this diocese") and has 'dispensed from' the prohibition against the Old Mass being celebrated in parish churches.

Finally, two further rather different End of Pontificate thoughts, each of which has appeared on this blog before:

(1) Given the capacities of modern medicine, more popes are likely to live longer than their natural span. Sooner or later, there will be a pope with senile dementia. Should not provision be made in Canon Law for this inevitability?

(2) Some years ago, Fr Aidan Nichols, our prime Anglophone theologian, argued (in a lecture the full text of which appears still to be banned from publication) that canonical provision should be made for canonical procedings in the case of popes giving heretical teaching.

*You may feel that I am indebted here to a fine and important piece by a Dutch bishop, translated and printed by Peter Kwasniewski in yesterday's Rorate. But I drafted this last week; I like to leave things for a day or two ... frankly ... so that I can tone-them-down-a-bit before publication!

The Dutch bishop also reminds us of Holy Tradition. This is going, I think, to be the way ahead. PF has weakened the Petrine Office; he has chopped off the branch he was sitting on; in future, people will always wonder whether a future pope will just plain contradict what this one is saying ... because Bergoglio has made an industry of doing just this. Perhaps Byzantines, including Orthodox, may be able to help us. But Conciliarism, lock, stock, and barrel, has its own problems, and is not 'the' answer. 

I wrote, too, about all this on July 16.

26 July 2021

FOR LATINISTS

The post-conciliar revisers, in their first draft of hymns for the new Office Book, proposed the following 16th(?) century hymn, present in the Benedictine Breviary, which goes to the tune of Ave maris Stella. 

 I think it didn't make it through to the cut in the Liturgia Horarum because they decided they needed a more 'Joachim' hymn to counterbalance all those 'Anna' hymns which the Tradition offers. 

Gaude, mater Anna, 

gaude mater sancta, 

cum sis Dei facta 

genetrix avia. 

Plaude tali natae 

virgini Mariae; 

eius genitore 

Ioachim congaude.

In hac nostra terra 

primo benedicta, 

quae fuit in Eva 

quondam maledicta. 

Ergo sume laudes 

quas damus ovantes; 

nos ab omni sorde 

tua prece terge. 

Sit laus Deo Patri, 

summo Christo decus, 

Spiritui Sancto 

honor, tribus unus.

25 July 2021

Sancta Anna ora pro nobis

I have always had a soft spot for S Anne, not least because she is the Patron of my wife's college at Oxford (we sent two of our children there) ... and, indeed, contributes one of her own names. Some years ago, I found it touching to seek out some of the remnants in Brittany of their devotion to their Patron ... Anna Potentissima, for example, and all that, written in large letters around the walls of the Church at Pontrieux. I pointed it out to Junior Granddaughter, whose name is Anna.

Dom Gueranger, in his marvellous collection of materials, gives us a Responsory in her honour (Anna sanctissima Britonum spes et tutela: quam in prosperis adiutricem, in adversis auxiliatricem habemus ...). reminding us of how the people of that land once suffered because they were hesitant to accept the Evil which is embodied in the godless prayer Vive la Republique. 

Gueranger reminds us that S Anne was also the splendor Provinciae. But I will leave you with this Breton hymn.

Lucis beatae gaudiis
Gestit parens Ecclesia,
Annamque Iudaeae decus
Matrem Mariae concinit.

Regum piorum sanguini
Iungens Sacerdotes avos,
Illustris Anna splendidis
Vincit genus virtutibus.

Coelo favente nexuit
Vincli iugalis foedera,
Alvoque sancta condidt
Sidus perenne virginum.

O mira coeli gratia!
Annae parentis in sinu
Concepta virgo conterit
Saevi draconis verticem.

Tanto salutis pignore
Iam sperat humanum genus:
Orbi redempto praevia
Pacem columba nuntiat.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique Sancte Spiritus.
Annam pie colentibus
Confer perennem gratiam. Amen.


24 July 2021

S Pius V and Traditionis Custodes

Dear Father

Thank you for your email about whether you are bound in conscience to adhere to Traditionis Custodes

The answer is No; certainly Not; and Of Course Not.

We need to look at the document of 1570 Quo primum tempore, which S Pius V put right at the front of his own edition of the Missale Romanum.

QUO PRIMUM: THE WRONG ARGUMENT

Sometimes traddy people quote stuff towards the end where S Pius V appears to condemn anybody who makes any changes in his 1570 Missal. But he cannot have meant to forbid a gentle evolutionary process ... an additional Festival here, an occasional new Preface there ... because every pontiff since his time has made such changes ... if they have lived long enough. It's what happens in traditional lived Liturgy.

QUO PRIMUM: THE RIGHT ARGUMENT

What S Pius V ordered does, however, bear strongly on the issues in play today. But we need to be quite clear what S Pius actually said. Please bear with me.

Both Bergoglians and some Traddies are currently writing as if S Pius V in 1570  "permitted" rites with more than 200 years behind them to continue.

He did not.

He ORDERED such old rites to be continued. Nequaquam auferimus were his words ... auferimus means "we take away", nequaquam means "not at all". 

What he did allow was his own new 1570 Edition to be brought into use if a bishop and his entire Chapter agreed. 

Just imagine this scene in 1570:

New Trendy bishop ... wants to bring in the 1570 Missal ... Chapter, load of cringing cowards, say "Yes Bishop Of course Bishop Anything you say Bishop What shall we lick next Bishop". But, over there sitting in the corner, sociably passing wind, is old Canon Lostitzio. He's pretty gaga ... senile, almost ... and drunk most of the day from breakfast onwards. Not even his wife can keep him off the bottle. But he won't agree to the 1570 Missal. Last time the bishop very coaxingly spoke to him about "Our Diocesan Mission Strategy", he just blew some snuff right up the episcopal nostrils and said some unusual words in an obscure Ligurian dialect.

So, in that diocese, there was no Capituli universi consensus. Therefore, in that diocese, there can be no 1570 Missal ... Bishop Trendino and the rest of them will have to stick with their old rite. 

Oh D*mn!

That's what S Pius V mandated.   

Even if Canon Lostitzio dies tonight, Bishop Trendino still isn't obliged to bring in the new Missal. What S Pius V says is "permittimus". That means "we permit". 'Permitto' is nice old-fashioned Latin verb that popes quite often used, once upon a time. It's still in some of the more old-fashioned dictionaries.

SO: ONE SINGLE OFF-MESSAGE OLD MAN AND HIS VETO COULD PRESERVE THE LOCAL TRADITION OF HIS PARTICULAR CHURCH. 

THAT'S HOW STRONGLY S PIUS V BELIEVED IN TRADITION.

QUO PRIMUM AND RATZINGER

When Papa Ratzinger issued Summorum pontificum, he explained to his brother bishops that "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."

Observe that Benedict XVI did not say "It should not be forbidden"; he said "it cannot be ... "

From 1570 until 1970, Quo primum stood at the beginning of every Missal of the Roman Rite. 

Pope Bendict XVI, in his own words, in our time, has reiterated its assertion of the essential, theological, primacy of Tradition.

"Cannot be"

Is anything else needed to make clear that this is the settled doctrine of the Catholic Church?

QUO PRIMUM AND BERGOGLIO

Are you obliged to obey PF if he attempts to prevent you from using the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite? Most certainly not. He is only the Pope; he has no right to overrule Holy Tradition. A pope cannot "do anything". (I think I've remembered that from somebody else's words ... I must try to identify the quotation ...)

He has no more right than I do. 

He has no more right than your Aunt Mavis does. 

He has no more right to order you to set aside Holy Tradition than do Aunt Mavis's little twins Nicolas and Nicola (who, so you tell me, have just started at their kindergarten and are learning to lithp thothe thublime wordth Amo Amath Amat Amamuth Amatith Amant). 

Even if all six of us order you to dump Tradition ... Me; Mavis; Nicola; Nicolas; Nicola's teddy-bear Wilfrid; and  PF ... and if we all order you simultaneously ... while waggling, each of us, a great big nasty club with a nail in it ... we are all acting ultra our vires. 

I expect you will have noticed Cardinal Burke's words on this subject.

Father: May God bless you in His and your most holy priesthood. Remember always that it does not belong to the pope. Mei in sacrificiis tuis sis memor.

Yours in Domino

John

  

23 July 2021

Der Fuehrerbefehl

 Many of you will be too young to remember the infamous events of 1962. They led to famine and public disorder; to mobs of crazed people jostling in the streets as they struggled in the queues to register for their unemployment benefit and for hand-outs of public foodstuffs. Gaunt and famished, in country after country the hungry men, driven to despair, protested in the only way they knew. The barricades ... the street massacres ...

The cruel decree Veterum Sapientia had ordered the sacking of thousands of men, and some women, from Catholic seminaries throughout the world. Papa Roncalli, "Good Pope John XXIII" as he had ironically been called, in full consciousness of His authority, Decreed and Commanded eight important rules. Rule 5 ordered that the major sacred sciences should be taught in Latin, that the professors of these sciences in universities or seminaries be required to speak Latin and to make use of textbooks written in Latin. "Those whose ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for them to obey these instructions shall be gradually replaced by professors who are suited for this task. Any difficulties which may be advanced by students or professors must be overcome ..."

Hence the world-wide sackings. The Pope had spoken. Petrus locutus est.

Fiat Latinitas, ruat caelum.

S John XXIII ended with the impressive words "In virtue of our Apostolic Authority, We will and command that all the decisions, decrees, proclamations and recommendations of this Our Constitution remain firmly established and ratified, "anything to the contrary notwithstanding, even things worthy of special note". Gosh!! Nobody would disregard something as definite as that, would they?

What a persecution was then unleashed! Spies and informers abounded; Gestapo-like bands of thugs went around seminaries collecting evidence and listing names. Unspeakable cruelties were perpetrated upon these hungry, workless, men; upon their unfed women and their emaciated catamites. Since the elimination by burning of the Cathars, nothing like it had been seen in the Catholic Church.

In Argentina, no bishop was more rigorous than Bishop Bergoglio in enforcing the decrees of S John XXIII. If ever he heard of a seminary professor giving a single lecture in Spanish rather than Latin, he was instantly on the phone demanding that the man be sacked. He had the reputation of being the strictest bishop in Latin America in implementing Veterum Sapientia.

Of course, the relentless pressure of the Bishops and of the Seminary Management Boards proved ... as they  must ... successful. Vernacular teaching totally disappeared from our seminaries; and as the succeeding Popes enforced the same rules, even the memory of Vernacular Seminary Teaching has disappeared. The world feels, somehow, so much cleaner, so much safer.

And how right all this has been. Veterum Sapientia was an Apostolic Constitution, signed, for greater emphasis, on the High Altar of S Peter's. Catholic clergy and Laity know their duty of submission to the authority of the Roman Pontiff. When we hear the Pope's voice, it is S Peter that we hear. This knowledge calls us to unquestioning obedience. "Do all your seminary teaching in Latin", he cries. Our response is "Certainly, Holy Father. Pronto!!".

Our privilege today, in 2021, is that we are being given a very similar opportunity for total and unthinking obedience, Jesuit style. Pope Francis possesses precisely and exactly the same authority as S John XXIII. When he decrees the extermination of the Old Mass, that decree comes to us with precisely and exactly the same force as the requirement of S John XXIII that all Priestly Formation in seminaries should be done entirely in Latin ... er ... except that possibly a motu proprio may not have ...um ... quite the authority of an Apostolic Constitution ... er ... . I wouldn't know about that sort of thing; I'm only a 'convert'.

Just suppose that 1962 decree had been ignored! Just suppose that the Rectors and the Episcopal Boards running seminaries had taken not the slightest bit of notice of those Decrees of S John XXIII!

It just doesn't bear thinking about, does it?


22 July 2021

The Pugin Pontificate

Liberation! 

I have long been uneasy about the arbitrary provision in Summorum Pontificum that the normative form of the Authentic Version of the Roman Rite should be that of 1962. I suppose Benedict XVI was being kind to Archbishop Lefebvre, who, after some variations, settled, in the mid-seventies, for 1962.

But now! ... marvellous!! ... PF, with his generously reiterated abrogations, has liberated us from all the Ratzinger provisions!!!

We are now in a happy period of freedom. Broad Sunlit Uplands territory! Bound no longer to '1962', we are at liberty to use ... for example ... the 1939 rite as provided in the St Lawrence Press Ordo.

Or any other ...

Readers will remember the provisions of S Pius V in Quo primum. This is often misquoted ... indeed, it was by PF ... as if S Pius permitted the continuation of rites with more than 200 years' prescription.

He did nothing of the sort.

He ordered, he mandated the continued use of such rites; unless the Bishop and the unanimous Chapter of a diocese should agree to adopt instead his own edition of the Roman Rite.

The fall-back position bequeathed by Quo primum was and is: that those old rites stay firmly in place.

I think it is fairly safe to, despite the difficulties of asserting and proving historical negatives, state that in no English diocese, in the years after 1559, did the Bishop, with his unanimous, rejoicing, Chapter, agree to abrogate the old rites of Sarum, York, Hereford, Lincoln, Bangor ... or do I mean Bognor ...

Ergo ...

I think Sarum is the rite with which (in our new-found loyalty to PF) we should begin our restorations. Within the last year, an admirable and learned priest has edited and published an Altar Edition of the Sarum Missal [the "unique expression" of the Sarum Rite]. And Mr Urquhart has done a fine and painstaking O'Connell to go with it (Ceremonies of the Sarum Missal). I expect the poor fellow will be nagged to edit an annual Ordo recitandi Officii Divini Sacrique peragendi secundum usum insignis et praeclarae Ecclesiae Sarisburiensis so as to help us through the nombre and hardnes of the rules called the pie.

Sarum is, as our Mr Johnson would cry, Oven Ready and Awaiting Lift Off.

Whereabouts to begin?

In Puginopolis, clearly (Ramsgate, as hoi polloi call it). Just think how it will rejoice the heart of dear Augustus Welby. There is evidence that Dr Wiseman celebrated 'according to the rite of Sarum' there.

Historians will undoubtedly come to call this the Pugin Pontificate.

Then, perhaps, the ruins of Glastonbury ... in honour of the Blessed Abbot Richard Whiting, and his martyred Companions; on Tower Hill, honouring the Cardinal Bishop of Rochester ... 

What glorious events those Pontifical High Masses will be! We must pray for fine weather!

Viva il Papa!

(Readers who were puzzled by the concept of the Split Infinitive will find a careful and, I hope, helpful example in the post above.)

21 July 2021

Funny

(1) There doesn't seem to be a Latin text of Traditionis custodes. That, in this pontificate, is not particularly remarkable.

There is an English version headed "Official Translation". But the Italian and Spanish have no corresponding heading (and no other language is apparently deemed worthy of a version at all ... bow down, ye Frogs, grovel, ye Krauts ...).

In the Italian version, the pontiff uses the first person singular. Until, that is, he comes to the end ... when he refers to the "year of our pontificate".

Does this mean that PF has an Apostolic Wife tucked away in an attic?

(2) I agree with Mrs Sims, huius Universitatis Artium Magistra, that "to boldly go" is a quite exquisite phrase. As far as English English is concerned, it is as deeply embedded in our shared culture of mirth as the Curate's Egg. 

But if the splitting of the infinitive were to become common (ne dicam prescriptive), would not this bright flower become powerless and faded, its hot-house perfume but an exotic memory for aged pedants?

That is the anxiety which drives slumber away and keeps me awake and fretful during the dark watches of the night.

Mass last Saturday

As I finished saying Mass last Saturday, the morning after Traditionis custodes, the thought struck me: That is the Mass, those were the words, for which our Anglo-Catholic Fathers were persecuted ... in some cases, imprisoned ... An Argentinian pope may be very different from an English former Public School head master, Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, but how like they both are in their hatred of the Old Mass, and of those who celebrate it.

But then a different and less unworthy thought took over: Those Anglo-Catholic clergy, at worst, spent but a few weeks in prison ... I should be thinking rather of the English Seminary Martyrs ... the rack, the rope, the knife ... the heads on the spikes over the City Gates, the carrion birds, the smell on the wind ...

Then, familiar words of Gregory Dix ... I've quoted them before: "This very morning I did this with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed."

Then ... all those Masses during all those Persecutions in all those blood-stained Enlightenments. So many holy priests ... so many gaolers bribed to smuggle in the necessities for a last Mass ... Te igitur for the last time ... blinking, as they took you out into the sunlight ...

There swept over me an enormous sense of privilege; a sense (this is not sarcasm) of gratitude to our Holy Father for reminding me of the wonder of those words which I say every morning. Words so ancient, yet, every morning, so radiant, so new. Words that remake ones inmost being.

Things rarely seem as precious as they do when there are attempts to rob you of them.

God be praised, now and for ever, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.