17 April 2009

Fr Arthur Middleton and my Biretta

I would never dream of lauching one of my snide attacks on our great historian Fr Arthur Middleton. He is infinitely more learned than I could ever hope to be; has deployed his erudition unsparingly for the Catholic Cause; and is a far nicer person than I am. And it's not so much anything he has written that I have problems with, but what you might call the Body Language of what he writes.

He is a dab hand at showing how the Anglican tradition of the last 450 years bears upon the problems besetting our Communion at the moment; and he does it with magisterial elegance. But the incautious reader just might get the impression that our tradition is that of the last 450 years, and that the Church of England seeks its customary authority and traditional teaching in the divines of that period. I'm sure Fr Arthur would be among the first to agree that the Church of England ... the provinces, that is, of Canterbury and York ... dates from around 596 and that the last 1400 years (despite such nastinesses as the Tudor Disruptions and the Great Rebellion and the Dutch Invasion) are an essentially unbroken continuity. But what I am sure is implicit in his writings may not always seem explicit to some.

This is where my biretta comes in. My previous two posts have shown the uniqueness of the C of E as a Roman foundation, and the significance of the Ancient Tradition that our clergy ... or at least, the clergy who Receive the Chrism from the bishops of Canterbury, Richborough, and Ebbsfleet ... dress like the clergy of Rome itself; pompomless biretta and all. I am reminded of Dom Gregory Dix's words: Under a succession of archbishops who were all missionaries from Italy (this includes the Greek S Theodore) or Saxon disciples trained in their school, the Anglo-Saxon church was 'ROMAN OF THE CITY' in its rite, in its calendar, in the dedications and fittings of its churches, in its church music and in ecclesiastical details generally.
That is how I define Anglicanism, to which I owe unswerving loyalty: to be ROMAN OF THE CITY. Here lies what, in the post-Conciliar jargon, we might call our Anglican Foundational Charism. S Thomas's church expresses this by the picture in the baroque reredos above the High Altar: a superb copy of the painting Raffael did for the High Altar of the church of Sancta Maria in Ara Caeli on the Capitoline Hill: the heart of Rome where the Imperatores concluded their Triumph processions and where our Lady is said to have explained to Augustus the Advent of a yet greater King. I do my best to lead my people in being ROMAN OF THE CITY. And I notice that Bede, in his account of all the paraphernalia sent from Rome in 601 to sustain the life of our young church, includes sacerdotalia vel clericilia indumenta: the things that priests or clerics wear. That is why the purest expression of our unique Anglican identity is to be as ROMAN OF THE CITY as possible; in big things, like dogma, in middling things, like the use of the Canon Romanus, and in little things, like pompoms.

As Tully used to say, dixi.

As traditionalist American RCs get angrier and angrier about Aborma being welcomed at "Catholic" Universities, I hope they will not fail to notice the good news. Apparently he has decreed that CIA operatives guilty of torture will not be prosecuted. While that is thoroughly bad news in itself, it does have just a little silver lining ... it could be the beginning of the end of all this mindless adulation.


Robin Ward said...

Didn't S. Peter found the diocese of Trier - hence the unique papal deployment of a crozier when visiting?

Coming back briefly to Lesbian Vampire Killers, these newspaper headline phrases are syntactically quite interesting as they show the capacity of English to adopt in certain circumstances a Chinese syntactical pattern which other modern European languages still in thrall to inflection cannot do. Hence our linguistic world dominance.

Traditionalists can exploit this: a large noticeboard outside a church saying Extraordinary Form Lovers might be just the thing, leaving the complexities of the ablative absolute for once the punters are inside.

Mantellone said...

It was said that the Pope did not use a crozier precisely because S. Peter had given his to S. Eucharius, first bishop of Trier and one of the Seventy-two (commem. on 8 Dec). Said staff restored the subdeacon Maternus to life.

Maternus went on to become third bishop of Trier and first of Cologne, and is buried with Valerius (the diaconal companion of Eucharius and second bishop of Trier) in the Abbey of S. Matthias the Apostle (which houses his body) in Trier, not to be confused with the Castle of Gonio-Apsaros in Georgia, where the Apostle's body is also buried. There is a reliquary for the "Petrusstab" in the Staurothek of the cathedral in Trier.

It ought to be said, in order to clear up any misunderstanding, that Lesbian Vampire Killers in this instance are Killers of Lesbian Vampires, although the Lesbian Vampires are themselves, of course, Killers.

The Religious PĂ­caro said...

President Obama made the correct decision in not prosecuting those who acted on orders explicitly allowing things like waterboarding. The ones who should be prosecuted are those like President Bush, his Vice-President, and others, who formulated the policies and directed that they be carried out.

You are correct, though, that it's time for mindless adulation of the President to end. Likewise the mindless denigration one all too often sees.

William Tighe said...

The late G. G. Willis wrote a long substantial essay (published in his *Further Essays in Early Roman Liturgy* [1968]) on the Roman rite in england from 597 to ca. 800 that established this very point of "Roman of Rome."

William Tighe

Little Black Sambo said...

"Coming back briefly to Lesbian Vampire Killers ..." I just love that linking phrase. Was that man ever a BBC announcer?

And "Extraordinary Form Lovers" would be alluring to the modest, since they never do it facing the people.

Mantellone said...

Proper Extraordinary Form Lovers would never settle for doing it with fewer than three.

For the Germans, "Lesbische Vampir-Toeter" is different from "Lesbische Vampirtoeter".

In French, "Des tuers de vampires lesbiennes" is clear, since our Killers are all male or of mixed gender, and our Vampires are clearly lady sapphists, but what if our Killers were all female, as well as our Vampires?

"Des tueuses lesbiennes de vampires" is clearly not what we're after, but "Des tueuses de vampires lesbiennes" isn't entirely clear at first glance, since our Vampires are perforce of ambiguous gender.

Anonymous said...

""Extraordinary Form Lovers" would be alluring to the modest, since they never do it facing the people."

There is so much that is right about this sentence - so much richness for the mind's eye. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Anonymous said...

"[O]ne of the last truly universal European minds belongs to the octogenarian Pope Benedict XVI. In 1996, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had said in an interview published as Die Salz der Erde, "Perhaps we have to abandon the idea of the popular Church. Possibly, we stand before a new epoch of Church history with quite different conditions, in which Christianity will stand under the sign of the mustard seed, in small and apparently insignificant groups, which nonetheless oppose evil intensively and bring the Good into the world." The best mind in the Catholic Church squarely considered the possibility that Christianity itself might shrink into seeming insignificance."

Not quite on the topic, but this recent "plum" has Papa B. d'accord Rev'd up.

The whole distrubing article (written by a snarling Jew) is here:


Where's Elisha to sic the bears on him and praise God with all his might?