29 December 2008


I have just been looking back over comments upon recent posts. Two points.

(1) I understand the pseudonimity sought by the use of pseudonyms. But one does rather wonder who some of these anonymous friends are. Would it be inconceivable for them to send me emails revealing their identities and som e personal details? (pp@thomasthemartyr.org.uk)

(2) In this matter of the validity of Orders, I do sometimes speculate on whether in messy situations some notion of Deus necessaria supplet might be necessary. Some examples:
(a) the implications [Bede IV ii] of S Chad being judged by S Theodore non rite consecratus and then having his consecration catholica ratione consummata.
(b) the ordinations of Pope Formosus which were declared null by Pope Stephen VII and then 'regularised' by Theodore II.
(c) the granting of permission by fifteenth century popes to merely presbyteral abbots of the right to ordain to major orders including the priesthood. Some commentators have argued that these ordinations were valid on the grounds that 'Roman pontiffs have granted this faculty and therefore they can grant it', but the view of Ratzinger that the Pope is the servant and not the master of Sacred Tradition rather puts sa question mark against such a radical administrative overturning of the Church's basic sacramental structure.
(d) the declaration of Eugene IV that the Matter of Ordination is the porrection of the instruments, and the probability that while this decree was held in scholis to have juridical force, less care was taken to ensure that all ordinands had received the imposition of hands than was to ensure that they had all received the porrection of the instruments.

26 December 2008

The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite

A Christmas card from Fr Alan Hawkins, one of the senior priests of the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, in North America; he included a prayer card with this devotion printed on the back:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer to you my continual obedience, pleading that all Anglicans seeking union with the Apostolic See of Peter may have fruition of their hope. By the power of your Divine Spirit so guide the Holy Father in Rome that this union will be accomplished; and that what is good and true in the Anglican heritage may be preserved to the benefit of the Universal Church. Grant that Anglican bishops and priests longing for this union may be granted continued exercise of the priestly ministry in an Anglican Rite under the authority of the Roman See and that Christians everywhere may once again know the Chair of Peter as that rock upon which your Church on earth is founded, against which hell cannot prevail. Amen.

Sounds pretty kosher to me.

23 December 2008

450 years

Last month we celebrated Masses for the repose of the souls of Reginald Pole, Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury (doesn't that roll beautifully off the tongue) and Mary Tudor, Queen of England (the first of quite a succession of de jure Queens of England with that name). It was 450 years since they died, and they were beautifully remembered in an EF Mass in Magdalen Chapel in Oxford, and an OF Mass in America, the booklet of which was sent to me by a good friend of myself and of all Catholic Anglicans, Professor Bill Tighe. (The American Mass included an anthem in lament of the Queen by Byrd; Fr Aidan Nichols - another friend and benefactor of Catholic Anglicans - observed to me with gentle irony that we strangely don't often seem to hear that. I think I'll see if our choir at S Thomas's, the Byrd Consortium, can put it on.)

Professor Eamonn Duffy, well known for his revisionist histories demonstrating the vitality and healthiness of English late medieval Catholicism, gave a lecture after the American Mass. He is to publish a book in May on the reign of Mary. I cannot believe that it will be anything other than fascinating and will put the capstone on the work of rehabilitating this reign and rescuing our national memory from 450 years of merciless brainwashing.

At this moment 450 years ago, Catholic Anglicans were nervously wondering what their future was to be. They feared the worst, and with good cause. Then a date appeared which seemed to encapsulate their fears: the Nativity of S John Baptist, 1559. On that day, so Parliament ordered, they were to abandon the Sarum Mass and return to (an only very slightly modified version of) the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI.

They kept their fingers crossed and carried on. Since this was what the letter of the law required, they continued to use the old rites until the last, legal, moment. After that, different men took different paths. Conservative men had endured the changes between 1533 and 1552 because they happened gradually, even if with increasing momentum, over two decades. Now the regime wanted them to say Yes or No overnight. But the regime was not particularly stable; so why not wait ... a little ...? But was that honourable? At one traditionalist Cathedral, Exeter, for example, the Bishop and the Dean were deprived in August; the Chancellor appeared to conform. But he was subsequently found to be harbouring two recusant colleagues in a house he had in Hereford. And, in 1561, the Precentor was in a foreign university; but he did not resign for another decade.

S John Baptist Day, 2009, will be a day for Catholic Anglicans to recall with love and affection their predecessors of 450 years ago, and to wonder about the parallels that can be drawn with their own situation.

22 December 2008

Why did he sing it in Latin?

Four cheers for the admirable seminarians of Massinformation (is there anywhere in the world where either Protestant or Popish seminarians have created so learned and professional a blog?) for their piece on the Christmas Proclamation. But I am a bit shy about incorporating into the S Thomas's liturgy the assertion that our blessed Lord was born on December 25. Not that I've suddenly been attacked by the querulous pedantry that the 'Enlightenment' seems to engender in the half-informed. If our Holy Father declared Christ had been born on the thirtythird of February, you wouldn't find me stepping out of line or rabbiting on, like the 'Catholic' bishop of Arundel and Brighton, about it not being ex cathedra.

But, every Christmas, somewhere in the media, some dim clever-clever journalist looks through last year's files and then writes a piece about how different bits of Christendom have celebrated Christmas at different times; about how there is no real evidence for the date; about how it is really just a Christianisation of the old pagan Roman festival of the Unconquered Sun. And there can even be the tedium of dealing with some know-all who comes up after the service to show that he, having read the Observer, is better informed than the ignorant and credulous clergy.

If I am irritated enough, I tend to snarl at such people that it is a pity they are not up-to-date enough to have read the more recent scholarship that shows Christmas as predating the commemoration of Sol Invictus, which may well be a paganisation by resurgent paganism (never forget Julian the apostate) of the preexisting Christian celebration. And how 'calculation' approaches to calendar suggest that the conception of Christ was dated to March 25 (by a combination of rabbinic tradition and patristic mathematics) before the inference of his birth on December 25 was made.

I bet that's why the administrator of Wesminster Cathedral sings the Proclamation in Latin.

21 December 2008

Comments on the Blog

Some well-meaning Comments seem to be rather way-out. The suggestion that a right-thinking person might hope for Anglican Orders to be invalid so as not to have to be pained by what would otherwise be sacrileges, puts me in mind of the Inauguration of our present Holy Father, and the scrimmages in the mob at Communion time. I was not surprised to read later of Hosts being found trodden into the piazza. This should not make us hope that Benedict XVI's orders are invalid so that we need not be pained (unless we are sede-vacantists). Being pained by sacrileges is a decent Christian reaction but we know that by giving himself in the Sacraments our ever suffering Lord exposes himself endlessly to this. And that every time I receive communion unworthily I am probably a worse offender that some poor theologically illiterate dunce who doesn't know what he's doing.

And it is very easy to be off the mark with regard to the Doctrine of Intention. Saying that so-and-so cannot be validly administering the sacrament because he has completely erroneous views about the Sacrament sounds at first sight like common sense but is quite contrary to the tradition and praxis of the Western Church. I can supply lots of chapter-and-verse if anyone needs it. Cardinal Franzelinus took an incident in seventeenth century Marseilles in which a nutter believed that by baptising he was devoting someone to a devil to show that even this mistake 'non impediret virtutem et efficaciam sacramenti'. The Holy Office laid down that some Methodists in Oceania who actually declared in their Baptism services that Baptism did not regenerate were still capable of baptising validly. All that is needed is the most general intention to 'do what Christians do', not an accurate understanding of what it is that they do or indeed a conviction that the sacraments effect anything at all or even who 'Christians' are. There is nothing invalid about ordinations performed by Talleyrand after he became an atheist.

Provided always that adequate Form and Matter are used. So a Moslem doctor who, to comfort a Christian woman whose newlyborn baby was dying, poured water over it and said 'I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' would validly baptise, while the Sussex Anglican priest who appeared last year on telly 'baptising' with the formula 'I baptise you in the name of the Spirit' would not.

Honest. If this seems so preposterous as to be manifest nonsense, I suggest you do quite a lot of homework before you contradict me, because I know that you wouldn't want by accident to assert heresy.

20 December 2008

Communion in the hand

The normal Anglican custom is as follows. The communicant very reverently kneels (unless infirm) at the communion rails. He extends a left hand, flat, palm uppermost, and his right hand on top of it, palm uppermost. The Host is placed on the right palm, and he moves both hands up to his mouth, taking the host off his palm with his moist tongue. (The details of this are based on a Tractarian reading of some patristic practices, and thus have a usage of about a century and a half. Previous Anglican reception in the hand had been less neat, but had nevertheless taken place at the altar rails and kneeling. The kneeling had been a battleground in English Christianity ever since the 'Reformatiom'.) Incidentally, when I say 'normal Anglican', I mean just that. I have in mind such admirable people as the parishioners of the six completely 'middle of the road' Devon parishes I served between 2001 and 2007. I am not just talking about Anglo-Catholicism. Indeed, 'extremely advanced' churches are at some risk of having adoped the less desireable habits of contemporary faddish Catholicism.

Among most Roman Catholics, the communicant saunters up to where the altar rail was before it was thrown out, receives the host in one hand, turns, and walks away; while walking he transfers in a very matter-of-fact way the Host from his hand to his mouth with the thumb and forefinger of his other hand.

I know which I consider the more decorous. For what it's worth, I have known members of the Church of Ireland (not one of our more papalist provinces) comment adversely upon the irreverence of what has become the RC norm.

I am all for preserving the Anglican custom, and very often employ it myself. I am made all the more comfortable in it by the knowledge that a Vatican Instruction in the pontificate of Paul VI (Memoriale Domini of May 29, 1969, which is after the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass) allowed communion in the hand to continue where it was the established custom and where there were good and verifiable reasons for it. What is disgraceful is the unprincipled use of this very guarded exception by Roman liturgical modernisers to enforce their innovatory preferences (generated by their own heterodoxies with regard to the reality of the Eucharistic Presence) throughout their communion.

So I applaud the return under this pontificate to the decencies of the preBugnini era; without in any way wishing to discourage our decent traditional Anglican ways.

19 December 2008


I feel that there is some confusion about what the Holy See might allow to Anglicans coming into full communion as groups.

Uniatism is not a term that has any canonical meaning. There are no Uniate Churches. There are only Churches, of different Rites, in full communion with the Holy See.

Anglicans do not have a distinct Rite. The idea of some tractarians that medieval England used, not the 'Roman Rite' , but the Sarum (and other rites), was a nonsense. Sarum et al were mere dialects of what has always been a pluriform Roman Rite (and, before the standardisation which printing enabled, was very much more pluriform). Adrian Fortescue neatly pointed out that to speak of the Roman and Sarum rites is as daft as to speak of English, French, and Yorkshire as three languages. Significantly, and very logically, the United Anglicans in the USA who use the Book of Divine Worship are using 'The Anglican Usage of the Roman Rite'. The question is: what structures Rome would allow for groups that use variant forms of the Roman Rite.

And there is no doubt that Rome would be infinitely flexible, adapting canonical structures to suit the needs of real situations.

There is, in the Roman Communion, the 'Extraordinary Form' of the Roman Rite. When an entire quasi-Diocese in Brazil, which used this Form, returned to full communion, Rome erected them into a personal (but stable) Apostolic Administration. Something even more broadminded and generous is on offer to the SSPX. These are the analogies which are relevant to our situation.

I suspect that the real issue is not what structures Rome would allow, but the ability of Anglican Catholic clergy to bring groups with them. So many layfolk have a residual affection for their ancient parish church or even their ancient diocese. That is why we need to be a firmed-up ecclesial entity before we make a final move (see earlier posts). And to be strong and real enough to be able to take with us some of our properties - which, in its heart of hearts, the Cof E doesn't really want to be lumbered with the upkeep of anyway.

16 December 2008

Apostolicae curae again

My little piece seems to have acquired threads of comments in various places. Since I took up blogging, I have been intrigued to discover that the most decisive negative comments generally seem to come from those who haven't read the piece concerned and/or know very little. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that there is very little point in replying, because if they haven't read the first post, they probably aren't going to read a painstaking reply from me either. So I won't. The other thing that strikes me is that there are some people out there who quite desperately want Anglican Orders to be invalid. That somebody could regretfully come to such a conclusion, compelled by the facts, I could understand even though I disagreed. But the animus ...

Instead, I will attack the question from a different angle. In the bona fide attempts of the Anglican episcopate (back in the days when, whatever their failings, they believed in Christian Unity) to solve this question and establish that Anglican bishops are bishops in the same sense as Roman Catholic bishops, we seem to have been dogged by bad luck. The procedure used after 1933 was that the schismatic Dutch bishops executed and sealed Latin documents declaring their intention to convey, as principal consecrators, the episcopate they had received; and then imposed hands, at the same moment as the Archbishop of Canterbury, saying aloud the Form of Episcopal consecration. Or rather, they used the words which were once commonly held in manuals of Sacramental theology throughout the Western Church to be the Form. The Dutchmen deemed this to be safe, assured, and secure.

It wasn't. In the 1940s Pius XII declared that the words previously considered consecratory were not; instead, that a sentence in the long quasi-Eucharistic prayer in the Pontifical was to be held to be the essential Form. In fact there were good scholarly and theological reasons for this, but, for us, it had the unfortunate result of weakening the foundations of the procedures in use since 1933. Subsequently, in the aftermath of the Council, the Vatican apparently decided that the quasi-Eucharistic prayer concerned did not itself express terribly well the theology of the Episcopate; in the grotesque Bugniniesque passion for discontinuity of the time, the whole prayer was dumped and replaced by a prayer of questionable and oriental provenance (which has led the some of the more extreme members of the Lefebvreist tradition to wonder whether bishops consecrated with it are validly consecrated ... what a tangled web we weave ...).

We Catholic Anglicans face a future in which it is essential that we sever ourselves from the ministerial mass damnationis of the main ecclesial body. Within a few generations, the Anglican mainstream, with womenbishops as well as womenpresbyters, will be a body in which nobody will know whether a 'priest's' orders are valid without going through the chancellries checking an endless successsion of who-consecrated-whoms. We need, not as a luxury but as a basic survival-necessity, an episcopate separate from all this. The sooner we face up to this, the better. I am not certain that we are wise to be so singleminded in our struggle to secure some minimum structure for toleration within the mainstream that we leave this question on one side, for a later period of leisure that will never come. There are rumours that there is a retired bishop willing to be the first to brave the wrath of Henry VIII's wraith by committing the ultimate sin of 'illegal consecrations'. In my view, this cannot come soon enough. Apart from the theology, it would show that we really do mean business.

But there is something else that is necessary. The brave and careful attempt after 1933 to relegate Apostolicae curae to the history books foundered for the reasons I have skipped through above. The most that Rome - officially - will acknowledge, as in the case of Graham Leonard, is that the invalidity of some Anglican Orders is now a matter of doubt. We need to do '1933' again, and this time we need to get it right. I do not believe it would be impossible to find a bishop out there of impeccably valid orders who would be prepared to give us, so to speak, a hand. We should put the matter beyond question by having consecrator and consecrands signing documents giving a careful theological rationale of what is being done and, using a bit of deft overkill, perhaps the consecrator could use all three of the Forms which Roman Catholics have, over the last century, regarded as essential! And would there be any objection to all of us in ministerial office receiving a sub conditione reordination? Certainly not on my part.

Thus we could firm up our ecclesial identity as a preliminary to the most exciting ecumenical step forward since Cardinal Pole absolved this realm from schism on the Feast of S Andrew in 1554.

14 December 2008

Apostolicae Curae

I do meet clergy, sound and thoroughly orthodox men, who are disturbed by the Bull Apostolicae curae Leo XIII declaring Anglican priestly Orders to be null and void. And one meets nice young laymen, fairly recently received into full communion with the Holy See, who make a point of addressing one as Mr So-and-so. And some rather fierce RC traditionalists fume and foam at the thought that we can give the impression of being so sound when, in their view, we are not even priests. Let me share my own thoughts.

I am not in favour of criticising and trying to unpick Apostolicae curae. That would simply put us in the same position as all those other people who are so totally loyal to the Holy See ... except in one particular matter. The only point I would make is that that the actual bull sealed for Leo XIII described the question as hoc caput disciplinae, and this is what was first officially published. It appeared to situate the question in the area of discipline and not of dogma. Pressure from the English RC hierarchy resulted in the removal from subsequent editions of the word disciplinae.

Moreover, in Apostolicae curae we got what we deserved. For more than three hundred years we, as a faith-community, had behaved as if we were a Protestant sect intent on harrying, persecuting, sneering at, and murdering Roman Catholics. After all that it is rather bad form for us to make a fuss about Cardinal Vaughan's success in politicking his way, against the views of the leading RC scholars of the time, to getting this condemnation.

What has to be pointed out is that Apostolicae curae no longer applies. Some sixteen years ago I coined the phrase 'the Dutch Touch' to describe the participation after 1933 of Dutch schismatics with indubitably valid orders in Anglican episcopal consecrations (the technical details are in my paper in the volume Reuniting Anglicans with Rome). The secret archives in Pusey House, Oxford, make absolutely clear that the intention of the very highest levels in the Church of England and the Dutch Old Catholic Church was to introduce the 'Dutch Succession' into the Church of England and so, after two or three generations, render Apostolicae curae obsolete. Remember that in 1662 the Cof E had made the formulae in presbyteral and episcopal ordination (which Leo had asserted were insufficiently clear), more explicit. Although the plotting of 1933 was done in private (so that nobody could say'Ah, the Anglicans do realise they are not real priests'), it clearly represents a formal and ecclesial act.

The Dutch Touch started in 1933. It must by now have reached those parts which other Touches cannot reach. Rome has not reinvestigated the question. But when Bishop Graham Leonard became a R C, the CDF did look at photocopies of the Pusey archive and recommended that there was enough doubt about the invalifidity of Bidshop Graham's presbyteral ordination for him to be ordained only sub conditione and not absolutely. John Paul II disagreed only to the extent that he ordered Bishop Graham not to be subjected to the indignity of diaconal reordination, either conditional or absolute. Rome specifically did not investigate the question of the validity of his episcopal orders, because of the problems which would have followed the discovery that the RC Church now had a married bishop!

Now, of course, we are nearly in agreement with Rome about the dubiety of Anglican Orders anyway. We believe that a large and growing percentage of Anglican Ordinations are invalid: the purported ordinations of women, and of both men and women by 'women bishops'. That is why, if we are to hang on in the C of E, we need a separate episcopate and clear mechanisms for the reordination of men who come to join us having been invalidlty ordained within the 'mainstream' Church.

12 December 2008


OK, so Sunday's Postcommunion in the Ordinary Form is not a modern composition. You can find it in the Hadrianum, the Sacramentary Pope Hadrian sent to Charlemagne. But it's always worth checking that the Bugninides didn't do a naughty when they incorporated a collect into the post-Conciliar Missal. In this case, I suspect they did. The original text hopes that God will enable us terrena despicere; to despise (well, literally, to look down upon) the things of earth. The Revising Committee changed that to terrena sapienter perpendere, to weigh up wisely the things of earth.

One can see why. We are not Manicheans; we are not opposed to material things; we do not despise the Earth that God has created. Indeed, the ancient Roman Eucharistic Prayer, the Canon Romanus, ended in its classical period by asking a blessing on the fruits of the Earth, concluding: haec omnia semper creas sanctificas benedicis et praestas nobis. God's Goods are good, and it is our duty to discern and weigh them and to be wise in our use of them. But the old text - and it resembles a great many other such texts in the euchological tradition of the Western Church - is based on the infinite space between things earthly and things heavenly; between God and (even the good) things which he creates and gives us. We must pass through a willingness to accept that even the best of them, even when entirely used as God wills, are as nothing in the estimation of the Christian compared with caelestia, the things of Heaven.

11 December 2008


The other day I went to the library at Blackfriars to look through the two or three recent numbers of Notitiae, the official Vatican periodical which, like the Britrish Government's Gazette, gives the official news and statements and Decrees of the Congregation for Divine Worship. As the Compiler of the Church of England's 'Catholic' Ordo Missae Celebrandae et Officii Divini Persolvendi, I like to keep my eye on things and, in particular, to make available to users New Propers; Masses and Offices of Saints newly added to the Universal Calendar, of which, in the present state of things, I have to do my own unofficial translations. These I print in the Ordo as they come out; and make available in subsequent years to users who apply to me for them.

I noticed two things. Since the election of our present Holy Father, I do not think there have been any additions to the Universal Calendar. And there has been a meeting at the Congregation to establish and refine criteria for 'promoting' Saints out of local calendars into that of the Universal Church. I suspect this represents a policy right at the top of exercising more of a control over that perennial liturgical phenomenon, the silting up of the Calendar as special interest groups - countries and religious orders - campaign to publicise their own candidates.

Under the previous Pontificate, it was sometimes the Holy Father himself who provided the impetus. A striking example of this was the inclusion in the Universal Calendar of S Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. It was from his writings that John Paul II took his own motto Totus tuus, and the Decree introducing this Mass and Office diverged from the usual formulae to emphasise that the promulgation was the Pontiff's own and personal initiative. I suspect that this sort of thing may now become less common.

This has nothing to do wth the number of people beatifed and canonised. John Paul II was often accused of 'inflation' in this regard - once by a distinguished Oxford Benedictine giving a paper to CIEL ... of all people! The raw numbers of those canonised, which could be made to suggest that JP2 canonised more people than had ever been canonised before, concealed the fact that his Sancti and Beati included several groups. This is thoroughly traditional. In some old calendars there had been groups of tens of thousands! And very few of these groups became compulsory commemorations on the Universal Calendar. Benedict XVI has beatified a very large group of martyrs from the period of the Spanish Civil War; and there is no reason to expect this sort of thing to be discontinued. Local churches have every right to the celebration of their local saints.

This fact has been emphasised by another feature of the present Pontificate: the relegation of most Beatifications to the local church. This is a reversion to the earlier practise of distinguishing between the the local cultus of local saints and the List of Saints commended to the Universal church. It is not always remembered that until well into the seventeenth century Beati were proclaimed in the local church without any recourse to Rome. Moreover, Beatification, right through the seventeenth century, consisted simply of the promulgation of their Mass and Office: not of glamorous public ceremonies.

Rather what happened among us wioth regard to Blessed Charles Stuart. And, in the fifteenth century, that great Bishop of Exeter, Blessed Edmund Lacy (see earlier posts).


If you do not already read this eloquent and important blog, I think you should.

10 December 2008

Pro aliquibus locis

Those of us who wield Extraordinary Form missals, or even the venerable English Missal, do well to remember the sections of Masses for Certain Places and The Supplement for ... England. Tucked away in such places is the Mass of the Holy House - composed and granted for the Shrine of our Lady of Loretto, where the Holy House of Nazareth is the devotional centre of the pilgrimage. We Anglicans, of course, go to Walsingham to perform the same act of memory of the Incarnation, recalling that God Incarnate lived in a House as the Member of a Human Family: Perfect God and Perfect Man, as the Quicunque vult puts it.

The Restorer of the shrine at Walsingham, Fr Hope Patten, incorporated this Mass in the Pilgrims' Manual which went through so many editions in his lifetime and since - although, sadly, this beautiful Mass isn't in more recent editions, just as it no longer appears in the RC calendar for England and Wales. Fr HP did remove from the Collect the words eamque in sinu Ecclesiae tuae mirabiliter collocasti.

What a shame I do not have the technical competence to put pictures onto my blog. If I did, I would share with you the glorious ceiling in the Venetian church of the Discalced Carmelites, where Tiepolo has shown us our Lady transferring her Holy House through the air from Nazareth to Loretto. I seem to recall that it inspired some recent Pope to make our Lady of Loretto Patron of air travellers; perhaps more learned readers can put me right on the details of this.

8 December 2008

Core Values

Another talk on the wireless about how the different immigrant communities need to be made to share our British Core Values. This is not just Twaddle and Balderdash, but dangerously so. If I could flush Core Values down the sewer, I would willingly do it. In modern Britain, our Core Values are inextricably bound up with an anti-Life agenda, a terrified hatred of of the sexual mores which traditional Christianity shares with most other religious traditions, and an idea of 'democracy' which means that whatever can get a majority vote, in a process which is generally initiated, guided, and dominated by a secularist 'intellectual' elite, must be right. I do not share British Core Values, and if any reader of this blog does, I hope she or he will renounce them forthwith. I feel just as much an alien in modern Britain as I imagine any 'immigrant' does.

Of course, there was a time when we had different Core Values: formed by a Christian, Protestant, and Anglican (to paraphrase Fielding's Mr Square) tradition, which were, in a rough and ready sort of way, acceptable. In those days, there were 'alien' groups with alleged 'alien' allegiances: the Papists, alleged to have a prior loyalty to a sinister organisation called 'Rome'; and the Jews, regarded as being in thrall to an extraordinary mythical concept labelled 'International Jewry'. We viewed them with suspicion. God forgive us for having done so, because our chickens have come home to roost. We now have the choice to be 'Assimilationist' - to roll out our prayer mats in front of the Grauniad newpaper and spend our time aborting foetuses or having 'democratic' votes on whether God wants womenbishops - or to be Aliens in our own land.

You will not get me joining any campaign to bully British Moslems into adopting our Core Values. I'm too busy wondering where I shall go when the cry comes 'If you won't accept our Core Values, go back to where you came from'. The Moslems, lucky people, could at a pinch go back to where their grandparents came from; the Jews have Israel with its Law of Return; where do we traditional Latin Christians have that we can go? The monastery of S Andrew on the Caelian Hill from which S Augustine travelled to Canterbury? Would there be room for us all?

6 December 2008

Mission and Majesty

I don't often criticise the Holy Father's liturgical instincts, but I'm not too keen on the idea of making the Ordinary Form Mass end with a dismissal that hypes the notion of God's people being sent out for Mission. The alternative forms of dismissal now authorised include one which is inspired by that idea, and I gather that Orationes super populum soon to be authorised will play the same game. We went through all this in the Anglican 'reforms' of the 1970s, and if one isn't careful one can still find oneself in a church where one can't get away at the end of Mass before one has yawned one's way through send us out in the power of your spirit to live and work to your praise and glory, or something similar. My own suspicion is that most christifideles, as they walk out of church, have their minds more set on having a fag or a gin and wondering if it's too late to dump the children on the grandparents so as to be able to get an undisturbed Sunday grope at the wife. Or husband. And in any case, the Eucharist is not some preliminary to Involvement In The World, but itself the supreme Involvement of God in His world, finished and perfected when the deacon sings Ite Missa Est. These changes will seem to me to be additional grounds for favouring the Extraordinary Form.

And, reading about the constitutional crisis in Luxembourg caused by the unwillingness of the Grand Duke - bully for him - to sign a Euthanasia bill, I recall a similar crisis a decade or two ago when the King of the Belgians wouldn't sign an Abortion bill. It is disturbing that such flickerings of Christian conscience never seem to trouble our own Head of State. I am not in the habit of criticising her - it seems to me that she's worth ten of all those seedy trendies and libertines who sneer and giggle at her - but it sets me wondering whether we ought to bring the King back. Does anybody know what views our Sovereign Liege Lord King Francis II has on such moral questions?

5 December 2008

Am I a Calvinist?

I haven't been inside Oxford's 'Reform Evangelical' church, S Ebbe's, since as an undergraduate, I went to mass there out of curiosity as an undergraduate; but I went there today to a Memorial service. Some nice medieval glass (our blessed Lady; and their great patron S Ebbe) and, in Victorian glass, an anonymous bishop wearing full pontifical Mass vestments and a pallium. How true it is that the Divine Light ejected by the reformers so often sidles (how spelt?) back in through the windows. Homily by a Fr Peter Wilkinson; thoroughly out of kilter with the ethos of the Church of England in that he obviously believed in the Resurrection. What slightly disconcerted me was that he didn't say much about Grace. It was as if his Jesus was the fairy on top of the Christmas tree but not the root and fount of all good and the One who sets all his people free from Adam's trangression. There is always the risk that people who do not explicitly believe in the Immaculate Conception will fall into this mistake.

I found myself wondering whether the shades of Father Calvin would have approved slightly more of my theology than of Fr Peter's. And whether there is much cultus nowadays of S Ebbe. S Ebbe's, since my visit 50 years ago, has lost its Altar (drums instead, framed by the old reredos with its Decalogue), but we could always use S Thomas's, where we still hang on to our altars, for an Extraordinary Form Mass on her feast day (when's that?).