30 June 2009

A Swiss PEV

I've just listened to the interview Bishop Fellay did with a Canadian priest-journalist; I was struck by the resemblance between his manner and that of our English "PEVs", the 'emergency' bishops who look after traditionalist Anglicans. There is the same unpompous kindly humility and sense that only a crisis in orthodoxy has propelled him into a less than normative structure of episcopal service to an orthodox remnant.

I wonder whether there would be the present revirescence of Traditionalism in our Western churches (Motu proprio; Reform of the Reform) if Marcel Lefebvre had not done what he did.

On this anniversary of Bishop Fellay's consecration, I think we should pray for him and the flock he guides. And for the English PEVs and the flocks they guide.

Palliate Concelebrants

I think I observed, on the video of the Mass at which the Sovereign Pontiff delivered the Pallia to new archbishops, that when they came up to the altar to make their communions each first took a half of a 'priest's host' out of a low lying vessel, intincted it in a Chalice, and then received it.

This seems a lot neater than having deacons running round with ciboria, an artificial pause while the celebrants waits for this to be completed so that he and the concelebrants can then receive the Host simultaneously, and then the journey of the concelebrants up to the chalice.

Assuming, of course, that the Concelebration fashion is to continue anyway. How much neater still for each priest to have said his own Mass ealier and to sit in choir. I shall see whether Bishop Andrew, at his Jubilee Mass tomorrow, is neat, neater, or neatest.

(For the record: I am not a supporter of the current pseudo-traditionalist fad - or do I mean fashion - of sneering at Concelebration where it is deeply suitable and sanctified by the tradition of the Latin Church: at Ordinations and Chrism Masses and ...)

July festivals

I've been mad and wild. It started off when I realised that, this year, the Visitation on May 31 would be expunged by Pentecost. I resolved to observe, here at S Thomas's, the Visitation on its original date of July 2. Then ... you know how one thing leads to another ... I succumbed to the temptation to start July in a fully EF way. So the Precious Blood went onto the S Thomas's Calendar for July 1: the day from which Bugnini removed it on the specious ground that it duplicated Corpus Christi (which he accordingly and cumbrously renamed Corpus et Sanguis Christi). Nonsense. The Festival of July 1 concentrated on the redemptive power of the Precious Blood, Corpus Christi on the Eucharist. Of course they are connected, but they are not a duplication. Bugnini also claimed that Holy Cross day was duplicated by the Precious Blood ... you see the daft logic. The reductio ad absurdum would be to reduce the calendar to Christmas, Easter Day, and All Saints. Though, come to think of it All Saints really duplicatesEaster ...

Actually, we have a splendid start to July here in the Ebbsfleet Apostolic District. The Apostolic Administrator decided to celebrate his Jubilee on July 1, in S Barnies.It should be a good event.

29 June 2009

Ordo, Ordo

I hope everybody is diligently buying my 2010 ORDO. But there are, of course, other ORDOs.

Not many people will be able to follow to the letter the calendar and rites prescribed by the ORDO published by The Saint Lawrence Press. But, if one can read highly abbreviated Latin, it will prove a treasury of information about a past (?) age; the age of the Roman Rite as it existed before Pius XII, before 1939. Follow this thread ...
... on the first Sunday in July, all Masses are permitted of the Precious Blood. This is explained in the introduction, page 3: "Where an external solemnity of feasts, which before the last reform of the Roman Breviary were permanently fixed to some Sunday with the rank of double of the first or second class, is celebrated on that Sunday to which the feast was formerly attached, all masses are permitted ...".
For example: The feast of Precious Blood, made universal by Pius IX to celebrate the end of the Roman Revolution in 1849, was by him put onto the first Sunday in July. But the early Liturgical Movement objected to the large number of Sundays in the year on which the ancient Sunday Mass was superseded by a sexier and more fashionale pious celebration. The great Adrian Fortescue wrote: "We obey the authority of the Church, of course, always. But it is not forbidden to hope for such a pope again as Benedict XIV who will give us back more of our old Roman Calendar. Footnote Since this was written the hope has been already in great part fulfilled. The decree Divino afflatu of November. 1, 1911 does give us back much of the old Proprium temporis for office and Mass." In this reform of S Pius X, a lot of the festivals attached to particular Sundays were transferred to fixed days, so that only infrequently would they displace a Sunday Mass . The Precious Blood was moved to July 1. There, it preceded the Visitation. This meant that that it didn't get a proper Second Vespers, since both were of the same rank (double of the second class) and the Visitation was entitled to a first Vespers . Accordingly, in 1934, Pius XI raised the precious Blood to a double of the first class so that it outranked the Visitation.

Incidentally, nothing much changes. How many Sundays nowadays are cluttered up with the currently fashioble Themes:Environment Sunday, Education Sunday, Vocation Sunday ... There is a law of liturgical history: clutter clutter clutter prune, clutter clutter ...

28 June 2009

Brichtelmestunensis dixit ...

Some time ago, a blogger whom I read and admire wrote : "the centre of communion is the person of the bishop of Rome". I wonder if this is quite accurately focussed.

A long time ago the well-know Anglican Catholic theologian Eric Mascall, described by Fr Aidan Nichols as a separated Magister fidei Catholicae, pointed out that there are papal vacancies, and this must have a significance. History provides us with examples as long as some three years, but even if the longest papal interregnum were only three minutes the logical problem would remain. During that three minutes, would we have to say that the Church Universal had no visible and earthly centre of unity?

I feel we are on safer ground in asserting that the centre of communion is the Roman Church, which at the beginning of the second century S Ignatius decribed as presiding over the Agape. The Roman Church, unlike the Roman Pontiff, never for a moment ceases to exist. And the Roman Pontiff himself is not a conceptually isolated individual, an episcopus vagans. His existence and meaning and ministry and significance are rooted in and inseparable from the fact that he is Bishop of Rome, Peter's Church, where Peter still speaks with authority.

My proposal in no way disturbs the definitions of Vatican I about papal Primacy and Infallibility. The bishop of any church is that church's authorised Spirit-endowed teacher, equipped with what S Irenaeus described as his charisma certum veritatis [reliable gift of truth]. So the bishop of Rome is the one who authoritatively articulates the teaching which the Roman Church authentically preserves and expresses.

27 June 2009


Perhaps I should explain that I have just been in Cornwall for a fortnight; therefore I have not been able to reply to blog comments or to many of my emails. If I have replied, you probably think that my response is briefer and less chummy than usual: please forgive this! I have read all communications with great interest.

(The posts were written before I went off, pretimed to pop up.)

25 June 2009

To whom do we pray?

Classically, to the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. Eucharistic Prayers are thus worded; and the collects in the old Sacramentaries usually do this. Antiphons and hymns, and 'private' prayers such as Veni, Suscipe and Placeat, however, can address the Son, the Spirit, the Trinity, the Saints.

Quite early, however, some confusion arose about which person of the blessed Trinity is being invited to "come" in some of the more 'immediate' Advent collects ("Stir up thy power and come ..."). In the Middle ages and later collects were composed addressing the Son; the most celebrated example of which is the one which was (probably) composed by S Thomas for Corpus Christi. Amusingly, the 1980 Anglican Alternative Service Book primly reconstructed this prayer so that it addressed the Father! But are there collects addressed to the Holy Trinity?

Since 1549, there has been at least one in the Church of England: look at the Trinity Sunday collect as offered by Cranmer. Since 1980, we have had another prayer addressed to the Trinity - now labelled as a postcommunion - which originated in the church of South India. And Cranmer went even further: the Preface for that Sunday was so modified by him that it, too, addresses the Trinity. So here we have (part of) a Eucharistic Prayer addressing not the Father but the Trinity. The latest Church of Ireland Prayer Book goes even further; it has one which addresses the Father in the Preface, the Son in the Institution narrative, the Spirit in the epicletic paragraph, and the Trinity in the Doxology! I have wondered whether such a prayer can even be a valid Form, and have declined to use it.

But I think I have read somewhere that in, for example, the Ethiopian Church, there are Eucharistic Prayers which address the Son and even ... Our Lady!!

Can anyone put me right on this?

22 June 2009

Legal Confusion (2)

So, in 1935, the 'Report of the Archbishops' Commission on the Relations between Church and State' despairingly wrote:" No one obeys the law so construed [by the Privy Council in 1868]. Not the clergy, since there is scarcely one of them who makes no change in the authorised forms of service. Not the Bishops, who are charged to see that this impossible law is carried out. Worse still, by the Declaration, as interpreted by the Courts, every priest solemnly undertakes to do that which in fact none of them actually performs."

After the war, Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, a resolute persecutor (while Bishop of London) of his Roman Rite parishes, masterminded the provision of a completely new Code of Canon Law. This cut the gordian knot which the Privy Council had tied in 1868. It decreed that "the minister who is to conduct the service may at his discretion make and use variations which are not of substantial importance". "Trivial" rules, OK.

Where does this leave us now? Most bishops steer clear of getting into liturgical wars. But there is a handful (curiously, mostly 'Catholic') which takes the line "My dear boy, I'm prepared to turn a blind eye to pretty well everything you do, and I'll even go along with it when I visit your parish. But just one thing: you MUST say an approved Eucharistic Prayer after the Sanctus." (I know one episcopal fool who commends this approach by saying "I've got to persecute you so that I can persecute the Evangelicals too".)

One can see a reason for this. The Eucharistic Prayer, in recent Anglican history, is rather like the Ypres Salient; every yard doggedly fought over; gallons of blood spilt; whole acres dangerously mined. The 'approved' Eucharistic Prayers are supposed to have been so crafted that not a syllable treads on any toe, whether it be a Zwinglian or Transaccidentationalist one. (Gregory Dix foresaw these hypocrisies: " There is really something very profane about the idea that we can only come before God with circumlocutions which it has been agreed to misunderstand differently".) The only fly in the ointment is that Canon Law elsewhere makes it clear that the same degree of regulation applies to every part of every (legal) service; the notion that the Post-sanctus is a unique and privileged area can find no justification in the text of the canons.

It would legally be possible to test whether certain 'variations' were contrary to 'Anglican doctrine'. But if it were to be argued that - for example - the Canon Romanus was contrary to Anglican doctrine, there is morass of quicksand that the troops would have some trouble getting their heavy armour across. A few years ago the Anglican bishops, while nagging the RC authorities to allow 'intercommunion', said that Anglicans ought to be admitted to Roman Catholic altars because Anglicans "can, with good conscience, say a heartfelt Amen at the end of the [Roman] Eucharistic Prayer".

These ad hominem arguments can get you into such a fix. You can't have things both ways. Not even if you're a bishop. Not even if you're an Anglican one.

21 June 2009

Legal Confusion (1)

The liturgy imposed by the Reformation state on the Church of England was embodied in statute and interpreted by the organs of the Crown. In 1868 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council adjudged that " It is not open to a Minister of the Church, or even to their Lordships in advising Her Majesty as the hightest Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Appeal, to draw a distinction, in acts which are a departure from or violation of the Rubric, between those which are important and those which are trivial". Thus a legal straightjacket was deemed to exist unlike any which had ever existed in Catholic liturgical tradition. Before the invention of printing, in Gregory Dix's words, "broadly speaking, the sanction in liturgy was not 'law' but 'custom'."

But - you cry - especially those of you schooled by Fr Zed to Say the Black and Do the Red - what about the minute regulation clamped upon the Roman Communion by S Pius V? Was this not another Law of Medes and Persians?

No. Although the Counter-Reformation church was a tighter ship than the craft which had cheerfully navigated the preceding fifteen liturgical centuries, it didn't operate like the English Privy Council. As J O'Connell put it in 1940, "Even 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 approved them, and sometimes even ordered them to be observed."

In the Church of England, the clergy of the Catholic Revival cheerfully operated on such principles and, by the second and third decades fo the 20th Century, a whole gamut of customs had been nurtured which went beyond (praeter) or contrary (contra) to the statute law. Bishops and Crown lawyers tried to do something about this. But what hindered them at every turn was the fact that it was not only Catholics who disregarded the law, but everybody else too. Evangelicals ignored what they saw as relics of popery surviving in the Prayer Book, and middle-of-the-road men interfered pragmatically and pastorally with the strict letter of the law.

Things got worse after 1928, Parliament turned down a new draft Prayer Book - and the Bishops promptly said that they would tolerate the use of it, thus conniving in the use of a rite which, in 'Establishment' legality, had no more authority than the Liturgy of S John Chrysostom. The 'authorities' would have liked to turn a blind eye to 'sensible' flexibility while exterminating 'Romish' illegalities ... but the illogicality and unfairness of attempts to do this were glaringly apparent. (Concludes tomorrow)

20 June 2009

Offering a Blessing

I have seen an Order of Service at the end of which the rubric says "The Bishop will offer his Benediction". (I don't think this is a reference to Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.)

I have been wondering what gut instinct makes me so dislike this phrase. Perhaps it is that, in customary parlance, to 'offer' a blessing means to say "Would you like me to bless you?" But the bishop concerned could argue that, as with the Sacraments, so with a sacramental like a blessing, a potential recipient can refuse the grace proferred (the manuals use the phrase obicem ponere; to put an obstacle in the way). OK. So, in a sense, a blessing is only offered. It is ineffectual unless it is received. But then, the same is true of, for example, Confirmation and Ordination. But, at least in the Provinces of Canterbury and York, Letters of Orders do not tell us that the Bishop merely offered the priesthood (We, wozname, Bishop of wozname, on such-and-such-a-day, while solemnly administering Holy Orders in Our Cathedral Church of wozname, did rightly and duly ordain wozname to the Office of Priesthood in the Church of God ...).

Why is it that such a phrase is now to be used, and what cultural baggage is it carting along with it?

19 June 2009

The English Missal

For most of the 20th Century, Anglican Catholic worship meant a volume called "The English Missal". It contained the whole Missale Romanum translated into English; into an English based on the style of Thomas Cranmer's liturgical dialect in the Book of Common Prayer. The "EM" took everything biblical from the translation known as the King James Bible or Authorised Version. Cranmer's Eucharistic order was incorporated into Ordo Missae of the Missal of S Pius V. On days for which Cranmer provided a collect, that collect of his - whether it was a translation or a new composition - was provided.

The book, however, was a trifle protean. As the century progressed, the (anonymous) editors grew more and more uneasy about diverging from the strict letter of the Missale Romanum (translated); you might call them forerunners of Liturgicam authenticam. So, where Cranmer had translated a little freely (and, as I explained some time ago, he had a natural tendency to expand his Latin originals), later editions of the English Missal pruned his texts down to conformity with the Latin. And the collects which were Cranmer's own compositions were either removed or allowed to survive as mere alternatives to versions of the Latin. It was deemed necessary to provide translations of the Masses for all the "Sundays after Pentecost", where earlier editions had assumed that Anglican Catholic priests would be happy to use Cranmer's propers, taken from the Sarum Rite, for the "Sundays after Trinity" (supplemented by the portions which Cranmer had omitted: Introits, etc.). It was assumed that clergy were getting less and less willing to interpolate Prayer Book formularies into the Roman Rite, and also more anxious to say as much as possible in Latin. This had an unfortunate effect: the book on the Altar increasingly offered different texts from those the devout laity found in their hand editions. I prefer the more 'Anglican' earlier editions. Like Joseph Ratzinger and the other Vatican supporters of the Book of Divine Worship (the Liturgy used by those American ex-Anglican communities who are the "Anglican Use of the Roman Rite"), I think there are excellent reasons for Anglican Catholics to have there own distinctive dialect of what remains the one Roman Rite: Extraordinary Form, Anglican Form, Ordinary Form, Dominican Form. After all, whatever undesireable ruptures accompanied the birth of our English rites in the 16th century, 450 years of devout use to carry their own sanctification. But, in whatever edition, the English Missal is a very fine vernacular version of the classical Roman Rite, in a very fine liturgical, hieratic, dialect. When the great Christine Mohrmann lamented that modern European vernaculars did not possess a hieratic form, she had not met the English Missal. I deeply regret that most Anglican Catholic clergy deemed it obsolete when Old ICEL in the 1970s issued the horrrendous current English RC liturgy. I am glad that EM is now again in print; and I trust that traditionalist Anglican clergy may be inclined to bring it back into the Church's repertoire. Sadly, I recognise that it is not fair to urge this upon Roman Catholics at a time when they are gearing up to cope with the New ICEL translation.

A begging note: does anybody know of - or have unwanted sets of - booklet editions of (just the) the Order of Mass, for the laity?

16 June 2009

Cranmer, Dix, Sarum, 1549 ... (2)

Unfortunately, that plan to celebrate a Sarum Votive of the Five Wounds of Jesus came to nothing; the energetic and enthusiastic priest who was organising it discovered that, to his dismay, the resurgent Cornish Nationalists whom he expected to rally round were mostly antipathetic to Christianity; those who were not, tended to regard Methodism as the authentic native religion of Cornwall. But I have not lost faith with the Votive of the Five Wounds; I made the discovery that this votive is in fact very nearly the same votive which appears in the Missale Romanum of S Pius V as the Votive de Passione Christi; with two or three phrases pencilled into the margin, one more or less has the English medieval Votive. It used to be said on Fridays; I sometimes use it as an alternative to the Sacred Heart Votive.

Wills and tombstones make clear that this Votive was one of the most popular in late Medieval England (see Duffy's 'Stripping of the Altars'). Dr Thomas Cranmer clearly knew it off by heart: in the Prayer Book he composed in 1549 the Intercession ends with most of the Collect of that Votive, translated so closely that we can almost decide which edition of the Sarum Missal Cranmer knew it from.

In his Shape of the Liturgy, Dom Gregory Dix notoriously fantasises about what was going through Cranmer's mind during the last minutes of his life in Marian Oxford. It's a fine piece of Dixian rhetoric (if my RC readers have not read Dix, I suggest they do so: written in 1944, the book is still in print and will do nothing at all to weaken their Catholic Faith). Naturally, the train of thought Dix reconstructs neatly confirms the reconstruction Dix has just done of Cranmer's theology. I would dare to reconstruct a different sequence of reflections that might have passed through the old man's mind as he hurried of his own accord out of S Mary's and along the Turl to where the stake sood in the middle of the Broad. I suspect that as he struggled to sustain in his Protestant heart that Faith, that feeling, that fiducia, which alone, according to Reformation Protestantism, stands between the soul and eternal damnation, he prayed that, the other side of the stake, he might find not Balliol College but his Lord, and that at the day of the generall resurreccion he might be set on Christ's right hand, and heare that his most ioyfull voyce: Come unto me, O ye that be blessed of my father, and possesse the kingdom.

Poor old gentleman. What an enormous amount of harm he did. But how superb his liturgical English. The older editions of the English Missal (in which Cranmer's texts, and the Authorised version of the Bible, are reproduced and supplemented by translations of those Missal texts Cranmer failed to translate, done into an English which is a very creditable attempt at the liturgical dialect he created) is in my view the finest vernacular liturgical book ever produced and deserves to be given a new lease of life. It is certainly getting one here in S Thomas's, where in liturgical use it takes pride of place immediately after its Latin original.

15 June 2009


No liturgical edition is perfect. Here are some changes that ought to be made in a new edition of the Missal of S Pius V.

The Creed: "sub Pontio Pilato" should be punctuated to go with "Crucifixus etiam pro nobis", and not with "passus et sepultus". The Pauline Missal is right here, as the Greek makes clear.

The Preface: We should punctuate "Lord, Holy Father, Almighty everlasting God". "Lord" stands for LORD=YHWH= the ineffable Name of the God of our Hebrew Fathers. "Holy Father" is taken from John 17, our Lord's High Priestly Prayer, and is his distinctive mode of addressing His Father.

I feel the Amen should go from the end of the Pater noster.

There! I've finally come out in my true colours as a sort of second Bugnini.

Another detail: "... in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum." If one pauses, should one pause before or after Deus? My generation was taught to pause after it. I think this is right: Deus refers to the divinity of the Son with the Father and the Spirit, not to the Eternity of Divinity. In the Pian Ordo the ecphonesis "Per omnia saecula saeculorum" (not Deus per ...), and the punctuation of the text of the prayers before Communion indicate this. But some (self-taught?) young men make an emphasis of linking Deus with what follows it.

14 June 2009

Cranmer, Dix, Sarum, 1549 ... (1)

The school in which I was educated, although in existence in the 12th century, was refounded by Henry VIII and rerefounded by Elizabeth I (who was it who said that the schools the Tudors 'founded' were the ones they left unsuppressed?). We were made to sing a School Song which included the words " ... for we are sons of men who marched/ beneath the Tudor banners". I never felt happy about this and I still don't. Apart from an occasional boader skirmish against the Scots, what glorious land battles did the Tudor armies ever win? As a teenager I already knew that the victories won by Tudor Arms were largely won in the suppression of insurrections by native Englishmen against the religious innovations for which the Tudors were guilty. And they were won largely by foreign mercenaries ... so did the School Song mean that we were all descended from the bastards begotten by these German and Italian soldiers in the raping sessions which will undoubtedly have followed their 'victories'? My queries were not well received; nor was my suggestion that if anybody gave me a Tudor Banner I would subject it to certain traditional indignities.

I suspect that, for most readers of this blog, the Banner of the Tudor period which they would most respect would have been the Banner of the Five Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which was carried at the head of the rebellions of the Catholic loyalists during the Tudor period; a banner which Protestants were most embarassed by. It was so Christocentric, yet the central PR lie of the Protestants was that they were the ones who were restoring Christocentricity to religion. I studied the medieval votive Mass of the Five Wounds when I was writing about a Scots priest who became an Archdeacon in Devon and Rector of one of my Seven churches there. He had these words carved on some choir stalls he put in one of the churches: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo. I discovered that they were the opening words of the psalmus of the Introit of that Votive. And, in church after church in Devon and Cornwall there still survive bench ends, carvings, and stained glass representations of the Five wounds, sometimes known as the arma Christi, with the Sacred Heart in the middle and two pierced hands above and two pierced feet beneath.

So I jumped at the opportunity to celebrate a Sarum Votive of the Five Wounds in memory of those who died in the Western Rebellion of 1549. (Continues later.)

13 June 2009


Another of those discussions one has after Mass ... stimulated, on this occasion, by the Corpus Christi sequence. In our vernacular Mass, it was a Cento: a Latin word, not much found in classical authors, meaning a patchwork. It is commonly used to refer to a translation which has been stitched together from different translators, taking (hoffentlich) the neatest renderings from each. In Lauda Sion the Anglican translation is a Cento; I haven't checked ... I expect some reader will know ... but I imagine Dr Neale and Fr Caswall may be substantial contributors.

The metrical and rhyming scheme in Lauda Sion is the same as in Stabat Mater. Who originated it? The 12th century poet Adam of S Victor is usually credited with it (earlier sequences not having anything like the same tight structure). Extracts from one of his sequences in this metre were used at the Office of Readings on Pentecost by those of us who use the Latin Liturgia Horarum: "Lux iucunda, lux insignis". You could call the basic line a trochaic dimeter: tumty is a trochee; a metron is two of them; here we have two metra. The last line of each stanza is the same but catalectic: i.e. the last syllable of the dimeter is missed out. The structure is deliciously emphasised by the (unclassical) heavy rhyming scheme. And I just love the way the stanzas get longer as we reach the end of the poem: there seems a pathos, a plangency, in the increasing delay before one is granred the release of the catalectic line. Look again at the last two stanzas of Lauda Sion; either in the Latin or in the English Hymnal Cento.

12 June 2009

Post scriptum

A reader asks about legal questions concerning the use of the Roman Canon in the provinces of Canterbury and York.

A browse through recent posts will reveal that I have already touched a fair bit upon this. I hope to return to it several times before June 24.

The Roman Canon

When I was a little lad in Essex (yes, all those Essex Man jokes you have ever heard find their fulfilment in me) I used to drop in quite often to the local RC church. One of the clergy there - I can still remember his name: it was Fr Horace Tennant of the Oblates of S Charles - used to say Mass with incredible rapidity. He 'recited' the (silent in those days) Canon quicker than I could flick my eye down the text of it in my hand copy of Missale Romanum. Frankly, one can only call this sacrilegious.

Nowadays, many clergy say the Eucharistic Prayer in just as brief a time-span ... aloud; they achieve this by using the 'Hippolytan' Second Eucharistic Prayer: which is unnaturally brief. My accusation is this: what was a corruption before the 'reforms' has been now institutionalised as law: i.e. clergy treat the Eucharistic Prayer as an unfortunate formality which has to be disposed of as quickly as possible so that neither priest or people have to spend a nanosecond longer than the possible minimum before they get back to doing all things they'd rather be doing which are so much more important than saying a lot of tedious old prayers with affection and devotion.

Soon we reach the 450th anniversary of the day when the English parliament made the use of the Roman Canon a penal offence. This was an act of oppressive tyranny which could only be imposed by the shedding of much blood, both priestly and lay. At this time I implore clerical readers seriously to consider making the Roman Canon their normative Eucharistic Prayer. It was used for the first millennium of English Christianity; it is the Canon of the oldest liturgical book to survive in these islands, the Stowe Missal; it was dear to the Fathers of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. The current Roman rubrics make it pretty clear that it ought to be the normative prayer on Sundays and Festivals, and say - uniquely of this prayer - that it may "always be used". And I urge lay readers to nag their clergy to use it. Many clergy sincerely think that their people will be grateful to be let out of church as soon as possible. Disabuse them of this notion!

Sixty Years

On June 12, 1949, Fr Michael Moreton was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in the Cathedral Church of S Andrew in Wells. He is one of the few considerable liturgists in the Church of England; a distinguished if rather liberal New Testament scholar; and a much sought-after spiritual director. He is still going strong.

Fr Michael was a lone voice many years ago, in that chaotic period when altars were being moved around and priests started squeezing their way behind them. He was the small boy who shouted out that the Emperor had no clothes. He demonstrated that versus Orientem was the practice of ecumenical antiquity; he was adamant in his insistence on the Canon Romanus. His voice, of course, was one crying in a wilderness. Indeed, there are still ignorant clergy in the C of E who, when they discover an 'unreformed' altar, can't wait to 'rectify' it. Only last year, in a nice Roman Rite (OF with subsidiary EF) church in Plymouth, an illiterate priest doing duty during an interregnum 'reformed' the church; out went versus Orientem; out went the Roman Rite. It makes you want to weep, doesn't it. Talk about Smoke-of-Satan.

I first met Fr Michael when I moved into the Diocese of Exeter for six years, and was invited to join 'The Society of S Boniface'; Catholic priests who met for study of the Greek New Testament and fellowship and to read papers to each other. I was introduced by my friend and colleague John Richards, the first Bishop of Ebbsfleet, ecce sacerdos valde magnus, who in the bleak days after the vote for wyminpriests in 1992 built up a new people for the Lord amidst the wreckage of the Church of England. John had previously been an archdeacon with a reputation for being a stern disciplinarian and episcopal enforcer. He was also instinctively 'Church of England' and no Romaniser. It was a grand day when he sidled sheepishly up to me (he wasn't often sheepish) and said: "Now, boy [a common vocative on his lips]; I'm down to say the Mass at Boniface this month ... now ... um ... er ... this "Roman Canon" ... I know Michael sets great store by it ... do you happen to have a copy?"

I did.

Father Michael, ad multos annos.

11 June 2009


As ever, a fine Corpus Christ Mass at Pusey House. How good it is, on Ascension Day and Corpus Christi, not to be in full communion with the See of Westminster.

Even the finest Novus Ordo celebrations seem to me to have an awkwardness built into the centre of them. Fine music is sung (and at PH it really is very fine; particularly one of the female voices) which includes Sanctus and Benedictus sung while the celebrant stands mute at the Altar before consecrating. We really do need to put in place a Custom whereby the first part of the Canon Romanus is said during the Sanctus, and the Benedictus is sung after the Consecration. The canon doesn't have to be said sotto voce; it could be said in a normal speaking voice while the singing went on.

There would be a spin-off advantage: the congregation might not hear who was - or was not - named in the Te igitur.

Dudley Symon (1959) again

"The 'English Missal', which allows the v Prayer Book to appear in small type, but otherwise is completely the 'Roman' missal, has become the standard Altar Book and increasingly popular among the laity ... the Mass restored to us would not only be the deepening of our knowledge and appreciation of the Divine Mysteries, but a proclamation of our unity with the true source of our being, the rock whence we were hewed. It would safeguard officially and in the surest way - for worship is the truest expression of belief - those essential Catholic tenets which the Archbishop of Canterbury assures us are still our heritage in spite of the controversies and upheavals of the Reformation".

10 June 2009

Supplices te Rogamus ...

In the Eastern rites, and in the invented Eucharistic Prayers which were introduced into both Roman Catholic and Anglican worship in the 1970s and 1980s, the Epiclesis is treated as crucially important. The Holy Spirit is invoked to come and make the elements the Body and Blood of Christ. I am not a Byzantine and I have no interest in rubbishing their ancient and noble tradition. Nor would I stand for any 'latinising' of their tradition. The only criticism I have is of those Byzantines who encourage an Orthodox 'Western Rite' in which an epiclesis has been intruded into the Roman Canon. Because the epiclesis is not our tradition. And our tradition should not be Byzantinised.

At the beginning of the 20th century, liturgists commonly believed that the epiclesis was 'primitive' and must somehow have got 'lost' from the Roman Canon. If you have a copy of Fortescue, you will find an account by him of the various theories which were held about this; and the various ingenious attempts made to 'reconstruct' the 'original Roman epiclesis'.

A succession of distinguished Anglican scholars disposed of this nonsense. Yes: Anglican. I know that it is natural for Roman Catholics to feel that there is something impertinent in Anglicans playing in their backyard by taking such an interest in 'their' Canon. The fact is, the Canon is something which we lost 450 years ago - and then, in the middle of the 19h century, rediscovered. What you discover for yourself often means more to you than something that Daddy Tried To Make You Do.

Where Easterners call upon the Spirit to come down upon the elements, our ancient Western, Roman tradition asks the Lord to take his Church's offerings to the Altar on high. E C Ratcliff, one of our great Anglican liturgists, summarised this as "a ticket to the Royal Enclosure". That we, in the Mass, are swept up into the heavenly places with our offerings, which become his, so that we can be filled with all heavenly benediction and grace, is quite as august a notion of the Eucharist as the idea that the Spirit comes down upon us from above.

It also happens to be distinctly older. Look again at the paragraph Supplices te rogamus in your missal.

9 June 2009

Is the Prayer Book legal?

In 1959, the Anglican Catholic priest and writer Dudley Symon summed up what so many of his predecessors had said and written since the Catholic Revival. He spoke of "the right of the Church of England to the Roman Mass and its use", and went on: "Clearly the moral and spiritual case, apart from any matter of State law, is extremely strong. The Mass was never canonically abolished by the Church in this country, each of the successive Prayer Books of 1549, 1552, and 1559 being imposed by State action pure and simple ... on strict canonical and moral grounds it has no claim to loyalty either external or internal".

He could have pointed out that at the very time the government in 1559 was bullying Parliament into passing the Act of Uniformity, Convocation and the Universities solemnly declared "The authority of handling and defining concerning the things belonging to faith, sacraments, and discipline ecclesiastical, hath hitherto ever belonged, and ought to belong, only to the pastors of the Church; whom the Holy Ghost for this purpose hath set in the Church; and not to laymen".

Symon - and such earlier writers who had pushed the same argument (notably Fathers Baverstock and Hole) - was dead right. Goverment acted ultra vires and such acts as that Uniformity do not oblige in conscience. The Roman Rite - in some shape or form - is the lawful rite of the Ecclesia Anglicana.

6 June 2009

Hugh Ross Williamson was the ...

... son of a Congregationalist minister; he found the Catholic Faith and was ordained as an Anglican papalist priest. In 1955 he wrote a fine book on the Canon of the Mass, arguing that, since it was so primitive, and preceded the Reformation controversies by so many centuries, it was something all Christians could agree upon as the expression of their common faith. In The Great Prayer: concerning the Canon of the Mass he makes this case, and in doing so also manages to write a very lovely devotional book. It convinced a number of clergy - notably, Fr Hope Patten, Restorer of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham - that this was the right Eucharistic Prayer to put one's money on.

If you are fortunate enough to find it in a second hand bookshop ...

5 June 2009

Societas Sanctae Crucis

Great fun to be at the annual Synod for the South East of Engand, with hundreds of brethren. In these dodgy times, with heterodoxy and heteropraxy (is there a difference?) rife, we need these expressions of fellowship.

The liturgy was interesting: Novus Ordo (third Roman Eucharistic Prayer) in the style which used to be called "Modern Catholic". I remember finding that sort of thing very refreshing when Eric Kemp introduced it at Chichester diocesan events in the 1970s - Chrism Masses, diocesan pilgrimages to Walsingham, etc. - because it it was such a lovely change from what had been the style of official Anglican liturgy: turgid, safe, pompous, tedious, self-conscious, with a whiff of the Victorians about it. But that was the 1970s. And, even then, I remember being uneasy about those Glorias and Sanctuses and Agnuses which involved jolly choruses superimposed upon very free paraphrases of texts. Liturgiam authentican was subsequently to agree with me on this. Presumably SSC will catch up with the newer Roman dispensation; perhaps next year's Synod Mass will be the last in the genuine 1970s style.

Perhaps someone should make a video of it for the archives.

4 June 2009


A nice report in the post about the Apostolic Administration of Campos in Brazil; about its vibrancy, its apostolic charity, its devotion to traditional liturgy. I was reminded of life in the Ebbsfleet Apostolic District, where we too have the same sense of closeness to our bishop and of fellowship with each other.

This Apostolic Administration goes back to ther post-Conciliar 'reforms', which the then Bishop of Campos refused to implement. Eventually he incurred automatic excommunication by joining Mgr Lefebvre in the uncanonical Consecration of the four SSPX bishops, and so there were, in effect, two parallel dioceses of Campos. But a couple of years ago, the 'traditionalist' 'diocese' regularised its position with Rome. Technically, its bishop is the superior of a 'Priestly Society' to which his clergy belong, and is thus a local ordinary in full communion with the Holy See.was given the status

How good that the Lord is showing to both Anglicans and Roman Catholics Fresh Ways of Being Church. Perhaps this is a presage of an ecumenical future.

2 June 2009


For the Byzantine tradition, 'Pentecost' refers to the Fifty Days (so that the 'Pentecostarion' is what modern Westerners might call a 'Paschaltide' book). This is in line with the Greek New Testament; compare "When the days of Pentecost were completed". It seems to me that the classical usage is to call Easter Sunday "the Pasch"; to call the Sundays following "Sundays after Pasch"; to give Pasch an Octave (during which the baptised wore their albae and were catechised) ending on Saturday, after which we say that we have finished (peregimus) the Paschal mysteries. Whitsunday is the day when the Fifty Days have been completed, and, if those Fifty Days are to have an official title, "Pentecost" is what they should be called.

In addition to this, we in the West have a concept of "Tempus Paschale"; "Eastertide", during which Alleluias are multiplied, Regina Caeli is said, and so on. The Easter precept can be fulfilled during this period. Traditionally it ends at None on the Saturday after Pentecost Sunday.

I surmise that misunderstanding has arisen from confusion between the "Days of Pentecost", i.e. the Fifty days which begin with the Pasch and last a week of weeks; and Tempus Paschale. I suspect that these two are not the same thing, despite the fact that treating them as such is at the basis of the Bugnini reform of the Calendar.

Everything above is really a question. I may have got it all wrong. I am seeking enlightenment and failing to find it in the standard places of refence.

Perhaps a reader can put me right!