30 August 2008

Eius animae propitietur Deus

At S Thomas's we are grieving for the death of the senior member of our congregation, Audrey Bates; I ask the charity of your prayers and - those of you daily offer up the Immaculate Lamb under the visible tokens which he has ordained - of your suffrages in sacrificiis.

Audrey, for many long years the schoolmistress of the parish, has left a remarkable archive of pictures and newspaper cuttings of our history; particularly in the 1930s and 1940s. This is a unique parish; the use of wafer bread at Mass continued for generations after the Reformation; in the reign of Queen Anne it was clearly a hotbed of the late-Stuart patristic high-churchery which we find in figures like Bishop Kenn and the Non-juring Fathers who, expelled from the Church of England after the Dutch Invasion (as all right-thinking people call the 'Glorious Revolution'), developed the work of Laud and Cosin to recatholicise the worship of our Church and negate the negations of the sixteenth century. On the eve of the nineteenth century Catholic Revival, Mass was still being said here some fifteen times a year; and under Fr Thomas Chamberlain we became the first Oxford parish church to put into practice the academic thinking of the 'Oxford Movement'.

Audrey's archive recalls the glory days of the 1930s; the Anglo-Catholicism of slum priests and nuns in liturgical processions around the streets of the parish; when it for a moment it seemed possible that we might take over the C of E; when
...under the Travers baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
The fiddle-back chasubles a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
The bells and banners - those were the waking days
When faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze;
that wonderful middle third of the twentieth century when a band of distinguished theologians, including my predecessor Dr Jalland, called the bluff of the 'We are anti-papal Catholics' brigade by establishing the centrality to the Christian Faith of the Petrine Ministry.

Why should we let the Enemy rob us of our heritage and drive us out? And - to be down-to-earth - if you find yourself in Oxford, make sure it is in S Thomas's that you worship.

Bugnini and the 1928 Prayer Book

Some years ago I noticed that a collect in the common of pastors in the 1971 Breviary, Deus fidelium lumen, appeared to have ben stolen from the common for bishops in the 1928 Rite, the revision of the Cof E Prayer Book which Parliament vetoed. Later, browsing, as one does, through one of those Jansenising Pseudi-Gallican Missalia Parisiensia, I saw it there and realised the common source.

On Friday, it suddenly struck me that the 1971 collect for the Decollation of S John Baptist is clearly from the same stable as the 1928 collect. Is there a similar reason?

Perhaps the MPs who vetoed the 1928 book were cryptoprotolefebvreists.

27 August 2008


Wednesday is, of course, in the Ebbsfleet Apostolic District, the Solemnity of our Patron S Gregory. So on Tuesday we have our First Vespers and on the Day full solemnity usage: three readings at Mass, Gloria and Creed, and the Divine office in Solemnity mode.

What do readers think about S Gregory the Liturgist? Wasn't he a bit of a Bugnini? He had to face criticisms that he had Byzantinised the Roman Rite after picking up nasty Eastern habits during his years as apocrisiarius (Nuncio) in Byzantium: and, indeed, it seems likely that he did move the Fraction to after the Pater Noster. And then there was his advice to S Augustine to put together a conflate rite of whatever suitable bits and pieces he found in places other than Rome! What a good thing it is that S Augustine ignored this idea and gave the Church of England the Roman Rite pretty pure and simple! But his tampering with the Canon Romanus was minimal, so perhaps he can squeeze inside Alcuin Reid's definition of 'organic' development. I recall Dudley Symon's 1959 thesis that the ethos of the Church of England is more 'Roman' than that of any other Church in Christendom. Except that it isn't now. Nostalgia, nostalgia.


I have received a request from a 'Syrian Orthodox' priest to use S Thomas's once a month for a congregation drawn, I gather, from the Indian diaspora. I take it that they are what we used to call the 'Monophysites'. I am very inclined to accede to this request; but I would welcome any information readers could give me about them: I have of course googled and looked at a couple of websites they recommended, but it would be immensely helpful if anybody could put a bit of flesh to the facts; and if anybody had had personal dealings with them.

25 August 2008


Dear *******
I do not question your sincerity. I know I have sincere fellow-Anglicans whose consciences teach them that the ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries is so profoundly and structurally bound up with the deepest core dogmas and principles of the Christian Faith, that they are compelled to introduce it into the Church of England, even though it will prove gravely divisive within these provinces; even though it will render unattainable, for as long as can be humanly foreseen, unity with the ancient Churches of East and West which claim the allegiance of more than three quarters of the world's Christians.

Indeed, I think I even understand your belief that, in the last resort, dogma is so much more important than charity that the distress of your fellow-Anglicans is of secondary importance to the doctrinal necessity of ordaining women. Truth is, indeed, quite a trump card, if one can be quite sure that one possesses it.

And I understand the passionate and deeply held conscientious conviction that the ordination of women is an issue so radically integral to your very concept of what it means to be 'in Christ' that you consider the visible unity of the Body of Christ a prize worth surrendering in order to secure it. At the same time, I trust and pray that you and your friends may understand my position: that the unity of Christ's Body the Church Universal is a Gospel imperative rooted in the nature of the Blessed Trinity itself (John 17; Ephesians) as well as in prudential considerations of witness and mission.

After the vote of General Synod, it seemed right to reflect for a while and, in particular, to await the reactions of the Great Churches of West and East which articulate diachronically as well as synchronically the Tradition of the overwhelming majority of Christians in the overwhelming majority of Christian generations. These reactions are now to hand, and I presume you are familiar with those of them that were expressed at Lambeth.

I trust that those who have believed it necessary, for deeply and passionately held reasons, to walk away from their fellow Christians (both within and beyond these two provinces) and to choose paths of increased and increasing disunity in order to secure their own Pearl of Great Price, will understand that we also have our own Pearl, which we regard as taking priority over the mere existence, unity, stability, life, structures, and policies of the Church of England.
In Domino,

24 August 2008

The Last Sunday in October

I'm still dithering. Everybody seems to have a sort of gut feeling that the last Sunday in October is not a common or garden Sunday, coming as it does before the Solemnity of All Saints, and just before modern lectionaries start the echatological readings that lead up to Advent (Bubbles Stancliffe, our Anglican equivalent of the great Bugnini, wanted to call the November Sundays 'The season of the Kingdom', but General Synod by this point felt that it had had just about enough of clever inventiveness, and called them instead 'Sundays before Advent'). For Common Worship it is the Last Sunday after Trinity. There is Roman authority for putting the Feast of the Dedication of the church on this day; and Common Worship also encourages that (as well as the traditional Anglican date of the first Sunday in October). And, remembering that it has eliminated the theme of Scripture from Advent II (Dr Cranmer, taking a hint from Sarum, lodged it there), Common Worship also attempts to ingratiate itself with its protestant users by giving them the option of making the Last Sunday in October 'Bible Sunday'. And, you're all waiting to remind me, in the EF of the Roman Rite it is Christ the King.

I shall have to decide soon, as the S Thomas's Calendar is done by the month. Oh dear. Who will rid me of this turbulent Sunday?

21 August 2008

Pontifical truths

I gather one or two readers of my last post have read it as a typically Anglican attempt to find excuses for anti-papalism. Far from it: since the occasion more than fifty years ago, when I joined the Catholic League in the days of the formidably papalist Fr Fynes-Clinton and subscribed the decrees of Trent and Vatican I, I have understood and accepted the distinctions implicit in Pastor Aeternus between ex cathedra and non ex cathedra papal pronouncements.

The intention of my last post was to suggest by microanalysis what none other than Joseph Ratzinger asserted by macroanalysis in 1999: that the use of papal authority to put through the post-Conciliar liturgical 'reforms' was flawed; that it was in fact closer to an abuse than a use. 'After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to liturgy ... The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition'.

It is my intuition that this is what lies at the heart of Benedict XVI's liturgical policies, of 'liberating' the 'old' Mass and glossing the new one by a hermeneutic of continuity with the old. Like some other people, I have begun to wonder whether this situation creates a different methodology for observing the rubrics of the 'new' rite. The policy advocated by Fr Zed, of 'saying the black and doing the red', arose from a contemplation of abuses introduced into the 'new' rite. I think it is now worth raising the question of whether it is appropriate to allow practices deeply traditional in the EF to bed themselves into the OF even when the actual rubrics suggest otherwise.

J O'Connell in the 1940 edition of The Celebration of Mass (Vol I pp 30-2) wrote 'Even a usage contra legem can obtain the force of custom, even against the rubrics ... the Sacred Congregation of Rites has never declared that no usage which is contrary to the rubrics may ever become a custom ... and from time to time it has not only tolerated usages contra or praeter legem but has actually approved them, and sometimes even ordered them to be observed.'

20 August 2008

Pontifical lies?

I am not accustomed to criticise Roman Pontiffs for the contents of their solemn declarations; there are enough people around doing it, most of them Roman Catholics, for it to be unnecessary that Anglicans join in too. But I do have one or two exceptions.

On April 3, 1969, Paul VI signed an Apostolic Constitution (I gather this is one of the most solemn exercises of the papal Magisterium) in which he promulgated the Novus Ordo Ordo Missae. In it he quoted Vatican II : 'elements which have suffered injury through the accidents of history are now restored to the vigour which they had in the days of the holy Fathers.' The third of the items he then listed was 'the Penitential Rite of Reconciliation with God and the brethren, which once more has its due significance'.

Perhaps someone can convince me that this is not a lie. I am not speaking ironically: I honestly do not like to think of a Pope in such a solemn context putting his signature to an untruth. But, as far as my knowledge goes, it is an untruth. In the patristic period Mass did not start with a corporate act of penitence. As I think understand it, the practice of Celebrant and ministers at the foot of the Altar making an act of penitence together, as part of their personal private ministerial preparation for the Mysteries while the Introit is being sung, is a (thoroughly good) medieval addition. It is not patristic; it was not part of the public part of the Mass until the Liturgical Movement popularised the Dialogue Mass. Please tell me if there is something I don't know about.

If, however, things are as I have sketched them, there are practical consequences. If things are as I have sketched them, I would suggest that at sung celebrations of the Novus Ordo Mass the Penitential rite should be done, as happens in the EF, privately by the Altar party under the cover of the entrance music.

18 August 2008

Law and Rubrics

NLM have interesting remarks about Abp Ranjith incorporating EF usages into his personal celebration of the OF, such as two genuflexions at each consecration, and what the 1960s radicals disparagingly called 'finger-pinching'. Although very much a non-canonist, I would have thought that what the Secretary of the CDW did ought to be able to stand as forensic evidence of a usage being permissible. What seems even clearer is that what the Pope does must surely be ipso facto licit since what we are talking about is the Roman Rite and he is the Bishop of Rome celebrating the rite of his church. (And I recall an episode when Old Marini told John Paul the Great that he should be standing and JP2 replied 'The Pope is kneeling'!)

One thing I have in mind is the practice of joining one's hands and bowing one's head at 'Let us give thanks unto the LORD our God', which Benedict XVI did at his inaugural Mass despite the fact that according to the OF rubrics the hands must stay extended. I regard this as a very beautiful act of reverence for the great Name of God.

Perhaps the fact that High Authority openly hopes for the EF to resacralise the OF creates a new situation. I nominate the Silent Canon as the next EF usage I would like to see creeping stealthily into the OF.

12 August 2008

Blessed be God for ever

As we take advantage of the new English Order of Mass to rethink what we what we get up to at Mass, I think a reconsideration of how we do the Offertory is in order.

At the moment, it seems almost universal at Mass to hear the Blessed be God ... prayers, with the congregational response at the end of each. In some Anglican churches, at a sung Mass, the celebrant actually waits until the end of the singing, then says the prayers (I'm not sufficiently familiar with RC Novus Ordo liturgy to know if that happens in the RC Church). But look back at the rubrics. The first option presented is that the priest says them silently; that is, the congregation neither hears nor responds. This is what, rubrically, must happen at Sung Masses. But if there is no singing, the priest may say the prayers audibly; if he does, it is not prescribed that the congregation respond, although it may do so. So, in effect, what very commonly happens today is that the final option ... the one, so to speak, at the end of the cul de sac ... is thought of as normative. It is not.

It is my view that these prayers, based on Jewish table blessings (berakoth), are essentially the celebrant's private prayers which may be done publicly. I feel they are better not done publicly for the following reason. No reader of this blog could doubt my enthusiasm for reading Christian liturgy in terms of its Hebrew roots. But that means understanding that since our Christian Jewish tradition parted company with that Jewish tradition which became Rabbinic Judaism, we have possessed and developed our tradition in the Church, the Body of God's Messiah, in an integral and authentic way. For us, the blessing of the holy Name of YHWH Creator and Redeemer is the Eucharistic Prayer. It begins 'Let us give thanks to YHWH our God' and carries on as we laud and magnify that glorious Name by singing Holy holy holy YHWH God of SBAOTH. The berakoth which Bugnini and Co worked up into Offertory Prayers redundantly duplicate that Great Prayer (and also detract from the authentically traditional Oratio super Oblata). Being liturgically Hebrew does not mean borrowing your neighbourhood Rabbi's Prayer Book and flicking through the pages to find some formulae you can paste into the next committee-produced make-it-up-as-you-go-along aren't-we-clever neoliturgy; it means being grounded in and fed by the unbroken 4,000-year-old Judaeo-Christian worship-tradition which we have inherited and which is our possession.

Enough of ranting. I repeat: I am not suggesting ignoring the rules of the post-Vatican II liturgies; what I am proposing is looking again at what those rites actually require and selecting what is the first option offered: doing the Offertory in silence or under the cover of singing.

11 August 2008

How should the (OF) Mass begin?

Happily, And with your spirit will now be heard in RC churches. I imagine there will be churches, particularly in America, where congregations which have been corrupted by unfaithful priests into disrespect for Tradition and the Magisterium, will ostentatiously continue to use And also with you. The reason for the change - if they bother to listen to it - will probably be even more offensive to them than the change itself. Spirit refers to the spirit impressed upon the soul of the ordained minister at his ordination whereby he is distinguished from the laos. The priest (or, before the Gospel, deacon) invokes the Lord upon the people and they respond by praying for him as he prepares to discharge the leitourgeia which was committed to him in priesthood (or diaconate).

In the EF, this exchange ocurrs more frequently; it precedes pretty well every significant recommencement after breaks or chant. Sadly, it has lost this significant role in the OF, being prescribed only before Gospel, Eucharistic Prayer, and Dismissal. This makes it all the more important to use it at the start of Mass, despite the unfortunate provision of alternatives. Surely there is no more important moment at which Priest and People should remind themselves and each other of their different but complementary taxeis in the liturgical community.

10 August 2008


I think I would give New ICEL B+++ for its rendering of Gloria in excelsis Deo. Its advantages over the version which Old ICEL cobbled together, and which is now embedded in the Church of England's Common Worship, are considerable. It shares with Cranmer's translation the humility to translate what the Latin actually says, without conflating clauses in the foolish ('Enlightenment') game of avoiding repetitiousness. Old ICEL, to give but one example, reduced
'you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us',
'you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer',
as if every second of the time of everybody sitting in church is so ineffably (good word, that) valuable that they must be spared such redundancies. In fact, the whole hymnic style of the Gloria is based upon repetition and variation within repetition, as was so much classical poetry. (And Catherine Pickstock's wise words about Repetitions and Recommencements and the 'Oral' nature of Liturgy are relevant here.) New ICEL's version stands comparison with Cranmer's. If I were to criticise it, I would single out 'adore', which seems to me inferior to 'worship' because of the vibes the former has picked up in modern English ('Darling, I adore you' and 'I simply adore Chateau neuf du Pape'); I prefer 'God the Father Almighty' because the archaic postponement of the adjective, as in the Latin, enhances its audibility and status.

Notoriously, the traditional Anglican rendering of the second line of the Gloria is based on a different text of Luke 2:14. Cranmer tried to be Clever and Up-to-date here. The Latin text of the Gloria was based on the Vulgate New Testament; Cranmer, in the interests of scholarly accuracy (and probably also of Protestant Bibliolatry) based his version on the Greek NT. In the Latin Vulgate, 'goodwill' is genitive: 'peace among people of goodwill'. In the Greek, it is nominative: 'peace, goodwill among people'. But there's an amusing twist to this. Those Greek manuscripts which give the nominative are numerous, but are mostly later than another group of Greek manuscripts (not well-known in the 16th century) ... which give the genitive! Presumably it was from such manuscripts that S Jerome composed his Vulgate. The balance of opinion among Textual Critics is to think Jerome and the Latin Mass are right to read eudokias (genitive) rather than eudokia (nominative). I suspect there's a sermon here on the dangers of being a cleverclogs who brandishes 'the latest scholarly views' in such a way as to sneer at those more cautious. In my second curacy I had an incumbent who later became a Liberal Archdeacon, who often told us that 'Most Modern Theologians believe XYZ'. It usually transpired, on enquiry, that what he really meant was 'I'm almost sure that I read XYZ somewhere in John Robinson's Honest to God'.

8 August 2008


I am glad to see 'Brethren' as an option at several places in the new English RC Mass, where it is an alternative to 'Brothers and sisters'. I have always found the latter formula awkward when facing a congregation exclusively of one gender; so much so that I have sometimes felt moved to substitute 'Dearly beloved'.

Scoffers will probably say that 'brethren' is still awkward to say when there are only sistren present. But the point is that the archaism 'brethren' is just that little way removed from gender-specific awkwardness simply because it is an archaism. Additionally, of course, as an archaism 'brethren' is a relic of a language in which grammatically the masculine was usable as a common gender 'embracing', as shoolboys sniggeringly said, 'the female'. I regard this as a sensible example of bringing all the resources of a language, even its archaisms, to the service of Liturgy. Liturgiam authenticam rightly
envisaged the development of a liturgical dialect in which a little moderate archaism would be in place (traditional Anglicans, of course, as well as many Orthodox, think that thoroughly archaic language is thoroughly good anyway).

This is bound to raise again the question of the Orate fratres. My own view is that it was really intended as an exchange between Celebrant and those around him at the altar, not as a way of asking the entire congregation to unite itself with the offering of the Sacrifice. The EF rubric sees it like this, although of course the OF explicitly expects 'the people' to reply. I would welcome the re-emergence of the custom whereby at sung masses, if the singing is still going on, priest and altar-party get the Orate fratres and its response done among themselves without waiting for the chant to end.

We should accept that traditional liturgy has always envisaged three classes of participant: Celebrant; Sulleitourgountes, the ministers around the altar; and the People. This is particularly noticeable at two places in the Canon Romanus: Hanc igitur, where God is asked to accept the oblation 'servitutis nostrae' (a Leonine periphrasis for 'of us your servants') 'but also of your whole family'; and Unde et memores, where 'we your servants' are distinguished from 'your holy people'.In each place the fact that two groups are intended is made clear by the two phrases being linked by 'sed et'. The new translation appears deliberately to underplay this distinction.

Here, as so often, being soaked in the EF will help priests and people gradually to reappropriate what is the true sense of the texts and rituals in the OF.

Problems in America: some Anglican help

The Adoremus account of the meeting of the American bishops, in which a determined minority prevented the new ICEL drafts from going through, is a disappointing reminder that the American RC Church is not without its very deep cultural divisions. As an Anglican, I suggest that they publish the new Missal at once with the following preface, which I read somewhere or other ... I can't quite recall where:
And if any would iudge this waye more painfull, because that all thynges must be read upon the boke, whereas before, by the reason of so much repeticion, they could saye many thinges by heart: if those men will waye their labor, with the profite in knowlege, which dayely they shal obtein by readyng upon the boke, they will not refuse the payn, in consideracion of the greate profite that shall ensue therof.
Incidentally, the account of the debate appeared to suggest that the translations of the four Eucharistic prayers are still being fine-tuned. Is this so?

7 August 2008

Complexu in misero

Another 'Dear Colleague' letter from the Bishop of Oxford; immensely valuable as a vivid demonstration of the two worlds that he and we live in: his world, the Establishment Mainstream of those whose parameters are what is called 'Anglicanism' as a cultural entity preoccupied with nothing but its own narrow questions to which it gives its own narrowly heretical answers; ours, the Church Universal, the Great Tradition, and our relationship with each of these.

We might have been wondering how he and his confratres (sed et consorores) at Lambeth reacted to the experience of Christ's Vicar upon Earth sending two of his Cardinal Presbyters to explain that, with womenbishops a fact established in Anglicanism, dialogue directed towards organic unity is permanently and definitively at an end. In Pritchard's letter, bringing us up to speed on Lambeth, all I can find about this is the sentence 'There was huge support for us from ecumenical participants eager to help us sustain our unity'. You see what I mean about 'two worlds'.

There is no reference in his letter to the womenbishops question; perhaps fairly since it was not on the Lambeth agenda. But there is a fascinating sentence in his section on 'Human sexuality'. 'My own view remains that we need to hold together in respectful and prayerful dialogue, under scripture, remembering that it took the Communion 100 years to sort out its approach to polygamy, 50 years on contraception and 40 years on the marriage of divorced people.' So it took the Anglican Communion 100 years, apparently, to discover that it preferred monogamy; impressive. If anyone doubted the need for a living Magisterium in Christ's Church, that alone should have convinced them. But the rest of the sentence is even more revealing. Pritchard refers with apparent satisfaction to the processes whereby the Church of England moved from a moral position of explicit conformity with the teachings of the Catholic Church on two matters, to a position of explicit dissent on those same two matters. Pritchard is a kindly, sensitive, and, I am convinced, inherently decent sort of bloke. But I find the confident and unworried cheerfulness with which he identifies himself with a determination to walk apart and away from 1,500 years of belief hitherto shared in common by Canterbury and Rome, utterly chilling.

I am yet again haunted by a couple of sentences by Newman: 'The vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of St Peter, the grace of the Redeemer, left it. That old Church in its day became a corpse (a marvellous, an awful change!); and then it did but corrupt the air which once it refreshed, and cumber the ground which once it beautified.' Mezentius, in Vergil's Aeneid, killed the living by tying them to the decaying corpses of the already dead (sanie taboque fluentis complexu in misero longa sic morte necabat). That is the reason why we must have a discrete ecclesial structure if we are to survive in the Church of England. Only that degree of separation can enable some degree of common life and dialogue to continue.

6 August 2008

Liturgiam authenticam?

...was an admirable Roman document which urged as much literalism as possible in the rendering of Latin liturgical texts into English. I had tried my own hand at translation, mainly in the rendering of the Paul VI prefaces (the ICEL products just seemed too gross for use in the House of God) and in texts of propria novissima which the users of my ORDO wished to be able to use; and I did find the tension between exactness and literary elegance rather a struggle. So I was interested how exactly New ICEL would work this out in practice.

It has to be said that New ICEL has not been nearly as literal as it could quite easily have been. Examples: Cardinal Medina Estevez once singled out the phrase in the Apostles' Creed carnis resurrectionem as one which would have to be translated accurately as 'the resurrection of the flesh' (Cranmer himself dithered over this, writing 'flesh' in one place and 'body' in another). But Ordo2008 renders 'the resurrection of the body'. Laus tibi Christe is rendered in traditional Anglican liturgy as 'Praise be to thee O Christ', where I would argue that 'be' does accurately express an exclamatory optative in ellipse. Dead literalism could have been served by 'Praise to thee O Christ'. I wonder why NewICEL went for pleonasm here.

Ite missa est has always been a problem. 'Go: it's the dismissal' has just seemed too, too banausic for anybody to sponsor it. I feel it could be justified; this formula has a bivalence, a unique double function and nature as being simultaneously the conclusion of the liturgical act and the resumption of the non-liturgical world; at one a part and not a part of the Mass; so perhaps it could have done with having such a unique and striking literary form. I am cautious about developing the dismissal element in the mass. Among Anglicans such development has led to unfortunate turgidities like 'Send us out into the world in the power of thy Spirit to live and work to thy praise and glory'. I do hope that my RC friends will not allow themselves to be led down this path. The Eucharist is not a jolly useful springboard for the real Christian business of going out and changing the world and doing social service and voting Green. The Eucharist is the telos, the end and purpose of human life and existence, the Son's everlasting propitiation before His Father in a wonderful mysterion granted to be among us. Seeing the Mass as having a utilitarian purpose, however high and noble, is the beginning of godlessness.

The Text is binding

I am no Vaticanologist; but I can't help wondering if these words of Cardinal Arinze, in his letter announcing to the RC bishops of the USA that Rome has now finalised the new translation into English of the Order of Mass, really means that Rome is unwilling to receive further nagging from the remnants of the old American liturgical establishment, whose pastoral sensitivity sometimes manifests itself in a determination to retain 40-year-old mistranslations. And the other good news is that it appears to be a unitary translation with no national opt-outs: so American voice-boxes will somehow have to accomodate themselves to 'difficult' words like 'consubstantial'; and we shall see the end of the horrible ditty 'Christ has died etc '. Fingers crossed. But the accompanying letter from the USCCB suggests that the new Order will not come into use until the whole Missal translation is completed, which seems to me to invite procrastination from the usual suspects. I wonder if Rome is wise to have offered this hostage to liberal fortune ... if, indeed, she has. Feet were dragged for a whole decade in the 1990s as liberal Americans waited with indecorous impatience for the long-expected death of John Paul II to give them a chance of bullying a new papal ear. It will be sad if they now try to play things out until after the death of Benedict XVI quem in multos annos conservet Omnipotens Deus Ecclesiae suae pontificem doctum sapientem benignum, and who, we are told, has laid down a very useful marker in saying non expedire to a tentative move by new ICEL to show some initiative with regard to Eucharistic Prayer IV.

But enough of arrogant Anglican intrusions into the affairs of another Communion. What, from the 'Ecumenical partner' angle, can an Anglican say? Firstly, surely, that it is good to see the RC Church breaking free of the old 'Let's do Liturgy by Ecumenical Consensus' policy. It led to unwholesome games in which the old ICEL snuggled up to Anglican liturgical trendies, and said 'We're planning to do X, Y, and Z; why don't you do the same?' The Anglicans - we are simple folk easily outwitted by subtle papists - bought this with enthusiasm. Old ICEL then attempted to bully Rome by saying that X, Y, and Z were an ecumenical consensus to which Rome, it was implied, was morally obliged to agree. We are now happily through this phase with the result that the Anglophone RC Church is at last free - for the first time ever - have a decent vernacular Liturgy to worship with.

Anybody with an academic interest in liturgy could pick holes in the details of this text (my own main objection would be that new ICEL, by ignoring what Dom Leo Eisenhofer established 50 years ago is the meaning of communicantes, has provided a mistranslation). But I will hope in some future posts to make some comments from the point of view of Anglican traditional Liturgy; and content myself now with saying that the only phrase of Cranmer that I can find in the new Order is 'not weighing our merits' as a rendering of non aestimator meriti.

2 August 2008

A Double Thumping

For so long, we wondered why Rome was so blind to the truth about official Anglicanism; why they pretended that ARCIC was going to produce something really bankable. Now we have Cardinal Dias telling our Establishment that they're the spiritual and ecclesial equivalents of sufferers from Altzheimer's and Parkinson's; and Mr Nice himself, Cardinal Kasper, saying 'Apart from sending you cards at Christmas, we've given up on you'.

Mind you, some deaf never hear. I wonder how long it will be before Anglican heresiarchs resume their two ancestral mantras: (1) 'Rome doesn't really mean that dialogue is at an end'; and (2) ' Of course, the next pope but one ...'

Kasper Converted

After all those years in which the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity refused to take any interest in us because they thought it was so important to snuggle up instead to the gloomy Protestant tyranny that constitutes official Anglicanism, at last the said tyrants have shot themselves in the foot and made it impossible even for the rose-tinted spectacles of PCCU to ignore their true nature. Whoopee. Now even Walter realises that he will have to talk to us. And there's another bonus: the last paragraph of his Lambeth paper acknowledges (fudging this one is now apparently over) that the Catholic Anglican Movement constitutes the one thing that is worth saving in the decaying morass which is Anglicanism. Double Whoopee. And, best of all, he says that 'the ordination of women to the episcopate effectively and definitively blocks a possible recognition of Anglican Orders'. This implies that for discrete fragments of the Anglican community which refuse such innovations, such a 'recognition' is now 'possible'.

In the grim aftermath of the General Synod vote it seemed that all was lost. Now it appears that by their overreaching misjudgement the idiots might actually have given us what we have always pined for: dialogue with Rome uncluttered by de facto vetoes from heterodox factions within Anglicanism.

Isn't the Grace of God wonderful? Let us pray that it keeps them befuddled: the last thing we would want now is some sort of drawing-back at the February Synod. And that we have the courage to grab this one and run with it.

Corporal Jones

As we continue to wonder how to react to the decision of the English General Synod to get rid of us, and what attitude to take now to our 'liberal' enemies, the TV listings reveal an evening of vintage episodes of Dad's Army. I shall watch, wineglass in hand, and raise a cheer every time Corporal Jones utters one of his two catch-phrases: 'Don't panic' and 'They don't like it up'em'. This, I feel, is the balanced way ahead.