30 May 2008


AS we joyfully celebrate the Solemnity of the SAcred Heart, let us never forget our forefathers in Medieval England who were so devoted to the cult of the FIVE WOUNDS. This included devotion to the Heart of Jesus and fulfilled much the same role for them as devotion to the Sacred Heart does for us of the Counter-Reformation. The Catholic rebels against the Tudor tyranny had the Five Wounds on their banners.

The Mass of the Five Wounds was only a few sentences different from that in the EF Missal Humiliavit (de Passione).

27 May 2008

MAY 31

God willing, I shall be at the High Mass in the Brompton Oratory on Saturday at 11, organised by CIEL as part of their charism to promote the scholarly study of the Classical Roman Rite, as well as to support and encourage the traditionalist faithful. It is to be a Mass of the Immaculate Heart of our blessed Lady, which is the Oratory's Patronal Festival. But herein lies an interesting Calendarical detail. The Mass is to be in the 1962 Rite. Goodie. But, while Saturday, being the day after the solemnity of our Lord's Sacred Heart, is the Novus Ordo day for the Immaculate Heart, the 1962 date is August 22. So Mr Provost Harrison - or whoever - will be using Extraordinary Form propers but doing so on the Novus Ordo date. I have commented before on this blog on the need for an authoritative ruling from PCED on whether, in churches where the postConciliar Calendar is in use, 1962 texts may be used on their Novus Ordo dates (and vice versa). It makes sense.

However, this year most people won't be observing the Immaculate Heart at all because it will be 'trumped' by the Visitation of our Lady, regularly fixed by the Novus Ordo on May 31. It was placed here so that it would 'logically' come between the Annunciation and the Nativity of S John Baptist. But I feel that this date is a mistake; for three reasons. Firstly: May 31 is a vulnerable date. This year it clashes with the Immaculate Heart; next year with Pentecost (so that the Visitation will be 'trumped' by Pentecost). Secondly: the original date, July 2, is interesting ecumenically. Among Byzantines, it is the festival of the Deposition of the Protecting Robe (homophorion) of the Mother of God in the Basilica of Blachernae in Costantinople. In brilliant initiative by a flawed pontiff (Urban VI appears to have been a murderous psychopath; he executed five of his cardinals), the Visitation was extended to the whole Western Church in 1389 as a day to pray for the unity of East and West. And thirdly: May 31 had become in many places (by particular papal grants) the Feast of our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces. It seems a pity that this development was stymied by the placing of the celebration of Mary, Queen, upon this day (subsequently moved, if you're still following me, to the old Octave day of the Assumption, August 22, where it is indeed very suitable). The committee which did the hymns for the postConciliar Breviary explicitly acknowledged that May 31 was, for many, associated with our Lady's Mediation, and incorporated a stanza on this theme in the new hymn they composed for Vespers on that day. But this. surely, is not enough.

When I become prefect of the CDW, I shall simplify everything and get the best of all possible worlds by arranging Marian feasts, in both forms of the Roman Rite, like this: Saturday after the Sacred Heart: the Immaculate Heart of the BVM. May 31: the BVM, Mediatrix Of All Graces. July 2: the Visitation of the BVM. August 22: the BVM, Queen.

That is how a typical Anglican would cut all these Gordian knots.

26 May 2008


The Telegraph tells us that the English Anglican Bishops have decided, by a narrow margin, to recommend General Synod to go ahead with wimminbishops without making appropriate structural provision for Catholic (or Evangelical) dissentients. I can't see any need at all for panic or distress. At first sight, it suggests to me that the proposed motion will not get the necessary two-thirds majority in the House of Bishops. In that case, it will fall. If it does get that majority, then the field will be open for us to take, without being given, the structures and future we desire and need. We could set up something like the Third Province - the solution that best suits our needs - without the consent of the liberal rump. True, this will be 'illegal', but then, so what? Are they really going to send the plods in to evict hundreds of priests and congregations? Even if they did, this would seem to me a preposterously easy martyrdom compared (for example) with the rack and the rope. As Newman once said to his brother bishops and priests at a time of great crisis, You who day by day offer up the Immaculate Lamb of God, you who hold in your hands the Incarnate Word under the visible signs which He has ordained, you who again and again drain the chalice of the Great Victim; who is to make you fear? what is to startle you? what to seduce you? who is to stop you, whether you are to suffer or to do ...

I'm not panicking yet. And I hope brethren and sistren young and old will stand firm and will not allow themselves to be divided or driven out and will follow the lead which will be decided by the leaders who have served our constituency so well since the dark days of the early nineties.

I beg Roman Catholic friends to pray for us to have the wisdom and resolution that we need, mindful that this could be the end-game which leads to that realignment among the inheritors of the Catholic Tradition which we have always desired.

24 May 2008


Have you ever read Newman's novel Loss and Gain? There are lovely things in it; like this scene towards the end when the hero, having made up his mind to enter into full communion with the Holy See, enters for the first time a Catholic church where Benediction is about to happen: A priest, or at least an assistant, had mounted for a moment above the altar, and removed a chalice or vessel which stood there; he could not see distinctly. A cloud of incense was rising on high; the people suddenly all bowed low; what could it mean? The truth flashed on him, fearfully yet sweetly; it was the Blessed Sacrament - it was the Lord Incarnate who was on the altar, who had come to visit and to bless his people. It was the Great Presence, which makes a Catholic Church different from every other place in the world; which makes it as no other place can be, holy. The Breviary offices were by this time not unknown to [him]; and as he threw himself on the pavement, in sudden self-abasement and joy, some words of those great Antiphons came into his mouth ... O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the bush to Moses; O Emmanuel, the desire of the nations and their Saviour, come and save us, O Lord our God.

22 May 2008

CORPUS CHRISTI: the Patrimonial history

What a shame that this great festival should now be a source of division among English Christians. I wonder what Wiseman, Manning, Faber, Newman, would have thought if they could have been told that in 2008 the observance of this day would be, to all intents and purposes, forbidden by the Westminster hierarchy and left to be kept by those dreadful, illogical, schismatical Anglicans (and rebellious Tridentinists). And I detect another peculiarity which I don't think has often been remarked: the ecumenical. Since Vatican II a certain type of Roman Catholic has continually argued for a certain line of liturgical 'reform' on the grounds that it would bring Catholic and Anglican Worship into line. We have been led to believe that ecumenically minded Roman Catholics liked having festivals on the same day, as well as having a common eucharistic lectionary and common translations of liturgical texts. Now, when the poor old C of E comes into line and actually makes (Common Worship) Corpus Christi - on Thursday - a Festival, the Westminster hierarchy promptly does the dirty on us. What are Anglicans supposed to think?

Catholic Anglicans have suffered for the observance of Corpus Christi. A century ago, its observance led to their persecution within the Cof E. But persecution goes back in Catholic Anglican history a lot further than that. In the Great Western Rebellion of 1549, which led to a genocidal onslaught upon Devon and Cornwall by the foreign mercenaries of the Tudor dictatorship, one of the main episodes appears to have occured on Corpus Christi (June 20). Walter Raleigh (father of the equally unpleasant 'Sir' Walter Raleigh) came upon an old woman going to the parish church of S Mary Clyste while saying her Rosary. He ranted ('there was a punyshement by lawe apoynted agaynste her and all suche'); she went and told her fellow parishioners; they started fortifying their town; and Raleigh was very nearly lynched (Oh, the might-have-beens of history). One of the traditional celebrations of that 1549 Corpus Christi will have been at the Church of S Thomas the Martyr outside the walls of Exeter, where the Vicar, Fr Robert Walshe, maintained the old Faith. For his pains, he was, after the suppression of the Rising, hanged (without benefit of judge and jury) from his church tower, clad in his Mass vestments.

18 May 2008

S Dunstan

In some of the Greek islands near the Turkish coast, there are decaying mosques and weed-grown islamic graveyards. After disastrous wars between Greece and Turkey, there were eventually Exchanges of Population; Greek refugees from Anatolia found sanctuary among their fellow Orthodox Greeks.
We have been asked to pray for the bishops of the Church of England as they meet tomorrow, and I commend such prayer to any readers who are not Anglicans. Tomorrow, looking at it with the eyes of worldly wisdom, a majority of the bishops are certain express their enthusiasm for womenbishops; but they are meeting on the festival of S Dunstan, a very great Archbishop of Canterbury. Might his prayers win for us a change of heart on their part? Nothing is impossible with God, not even the conversion of bishops.
Or might it be God's will that this deadly corruption could rescue good from evil by precipitating a realignment in Christendom? An Exchange of Populations so that those Roman Catholics who so long for women priests could glut themselves with the feminist riches that the C of E can offer them? While we of the Backwards in Bigotry movement could find peace-from-strife in full communion with the Holy See?
But we wouldn't have to migrate from Anatolia to Rhodes. And there is no reason why we should leave our shrines, churches, and convents behind us. Surely, the Cof E - unless it just wants to be stroppy - could do with losing some surplus church buildings?

15 May 2008

The Octave of Pentecost

On Tuesday, to the Archdeacon's Visitation. A sad piece of Liturgy, however nice and civilised our Archdeacon is. It reminded me of all the reasons why I so dislike de facto modern Anglican establishment Liturgy. But one thing interested me: the theme was Pentecostal, of the gift of the Spirit. In other words: this was a motley gathering of high, low, middling, and broad, but their instinct was to stay within the influence of Pentecost Sunday, notwithstanding the fact that Common Worship, slavishly following the post-Conciliar Roman usage, expects Christian people to drop the theme of the Spirit like a hot potato at the midnight which concludes Whitsunday. The gut instinct of the ordinary Christian is pro-octave!

Looking at the collects given for Evensong infra octavas pentecosten (sic) in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary, I notice that Saturday's goes like this: Grant, we beseech thee, merciful God, that like as by the name of Father and Son we do know the truth of the divine nature, so we may in the Holy Spirit acknowledge the substance of the whole Trinity. Having concluded Eastertide with a great celebration of the Spirit, it is natural to recollect, as this slightly naive collect does, that, the Spirit being as truly God as Father and Son, we have now 'done' the whole Trinity. So Trinity Sunday was a glorious feast which had long been waiting to happen in the instincts of the Faithful when that admirable pontiff, John XXII, imposed it upon the whole Western Church (I'll do a post sometime soon on how much of its liturgical and devotional patrimony the Latin Church owes to the Avignon Papacy in general and to that pope in particular). Here at S Thomas's, of course, Trinity Sunday is a great day for us because it was on Trinity Sunday 1162 that our Patron was consecrated to the episcopate.

For those who follow the Calendar which the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship (each of which refuses to provide an 'ordinary time' collect and orders the Trinity collect to be used throughout the week) inherited from medieval English usage, the question arises of what to make of the week after Trinity. If Trinity Sunday's Mass is used, presumably it should be in white vestments. Some medieval uses ordained that (unless festivals intervened) Monday's Mass should be of the Trinity, Tuesday's of the Apostles, and Wednesday's of our Lady; Corpus Christi, of course, occupies Thursday, and then on Friday and Saturday we either return to the Trinity ... or observe an octave for Corpus Christi! What a tangled web we weave once we abandon the crisp certainties of the post-Conciliar calendar!

8 May 2008

Liturgical Seasons

I do find myself, despite the enthusiasm with which I embraced the New Calendar 40 years ago (it seemed to have a simplicity and clarity which struck me as pastorally valuable), starting to have doubts about some aspects. For example: Christ the King. It's not just that in Ascension Day we already observe Christ the King (after all, we allow Corpus Christi to duplicate Maundy Thursday, and Trinity Sunday -- the Lord's Baptism, and the Sacred Heart -- Good Friday), as a suspicion that it's not a good idea to eschatologise it by putting it just before (and overshadowing) Advent. And some of the texts (one of the hymns; the homily by Origen) seem, anyway, to be more about Christ-ruling-in-my-heart than eschatological. And in any case, the pre-Conciliar celebration has a lovely political ring about it: Christ as ruler of all human estates is just as relevant now as in the days of Hitler and Stalin. Interestingly, the old Collect, mangled by the Roman revisers so as to be eschatological, is retained for a Sunday in early November in Common Worship. Wouldn't this celebration (understood in the old, 'political', sense) come rather nicely at the end of October so that it interrupted the 'Green' Sundays, emphasising Christ as the Great Interrupter of the comfortable continuities of human affairs and politics?
(Incidentally, the fact that Christ the King before Advent makes it impossible for S Andrew, one of the historically great celebrations of the historical Roman Rite, ever to happen on a Sunday even where he is a Patron, is not a negligible problem.)

Secondly: has the subsuming of the themes of Holy Spirit into the days before Pentecost really worked pastorally and devotionally? Yes, I know that the Octave of Pentecost is historically comparatively late and it is confusing to have Eastertide lasting 56 days rather than 50, but ....

I think I will start a process of Obscurantist Reaction by celebrating the old Vigil Mass (1962 Missal) of Pentecost on Saturday morning in Red vestments. Perhaps next year we could move on to celebrating the whole Pentecostal Baptismal Vigil as in the pre-1962 Missale Romanum. And when would readers advise me to keep Christ the King at S Thomas's this year?

7 May 2008


Not a bad day; Home Communions followed by Mass at 12.30 followed by a visit to the mother of one of our servers; she has just been bereaved of her husband. Many anecdotes of life in Devon 60 years ago. I had to go down to Abingdon to see her; Catholic Anglicans like her son have to travel far to find a sound, Ebbsfleet church (una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Benedicto et antistite nostro Andrea ...). Not knowing the way to her house, I dropped in to the RC presbytery to ask directions. A charming pp with a Dublin accent; I spotted a preconciliar Missale Romanum open in his study: 'Now , Father,' says I, 'would you be learning the extraordinary form?' 'No', he replied, 'but when I moved in here there it was in a load of rubbish left by my predecessor to be thrown out and it seemed a pity ...' He looked quite interested when I told him that I said the extraordinary form several times a week. Have I sown a seed there? And, in between times, I was sorting details of Thursday's meeting of the Oxford branch of the Ecumenical Society of the BVM (resurrected ... with minimal assistance from me ... by the admirable and learned Jill Pinnock, wife and mother of two great Catholic priests and a great champion of the Faith: Pusey House at 7.30); and of the 40th anniversary of my own ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, which I hope to celebrate on June 9 with a sung Tridentine Latin Mass (preacher, the Apostolic Administrator himself; 7.00 in S Thomas's Church). Ah, the simple yet satisfying pleasures of the parochial ministry.

And, in the post, three magazines which I recommend to anybody inclined to listen to me. First: the Latin Mass Society periodical, MASS of ages.It is jam-packed full of top-quality articles; I will just single out a piece by a bishop in Kazakhstan on the significance and importance of receiving communion in the mouth. Honestly, Catholic Anglicans who do not read this mag and are not members of this Society are missing an enormous amount (not least the possibility of attending a celebration of a solemn 'old' pontifical Mass by a Spanish Cardinal in Westminster Cathedral (June 14, 2.00)). Second: New Directions, the monthly of Forward in Faith. With diffident respect to my Roman Catholics friends, I have to say that the front line in the battle against Liberalism, Women Bishops, Gay Marriage, and all that, is really to be found in the C of E. I have a review in the May number of Aidan Nichols' book Realm, in which that distinguished and traditionalist RC theologian calls for a crusade to convert England by the English RC church hand-in-hand with 'the Catholic-compatible' remnant of the C of E. Third: The Church Observer, edited by my friend and one-time colleague, the brilliant Fr Simon Heans. Among much admirable stuff, there is an article by Fr Simon himself on how the Lambeth Conference of 1930, which first opened the door by a crack to artifical contraception, has turned out to be the corner-stone of the moral and doctrinal confusion in the C of E during the last 78 years.

Roman Catholics who do not read those two superb Anglican periodicals are missing out on some of the best traditionalist writing of our time.