30 July 2009


One the things I like most about the Prayer Book Divine Office is the provision that at each Office the final collect said should be that used at Mass. In this, of course, it follows the usage of the whole Latin Church (except that it's a bit crude: for example, it doesn't apply accurately when a votive or ritual Mass has been said). It means that, in traditional Anglican spirituality, there is a "Collect of the Week" - last Sunday's collect which will be repeated on the followng ferias. But the Bugnini revision eliminates this usage, providing that at most offices a collect should be used which concentrates on the "time of Day". Thus a usage taken from Prime and Compline is universalised, and the Week's Collect only gets a look-in at the Office of Readings.

Perhaps the reason for this is an over-reaction against the corrupt pre-conciliar practice of saying all one's office in one great lump: some clergy cheerfully got lauds of the following day "done" just after noon the previous day. But for many of us Anglicans the loss of the constant (not in the least "vain") repetitions of those lovely old collects from the Roman Sacramentaries is the biggest wrench in the 'new' Office. It's made worse by a suspicion that most of the new 'temporal' collects are committee-compositions (I know they all aren't).

Is that true? Are there precedents in the Tradition for what Bugnini did? Where do we go from here?


"St?" Alfred the Great has been raised in the comments attached to a recent post. Some time ago I did devote a post to the oddity that the RC Bishop of Northampton includes King Alfred as a Saint in his diocesan ORDO. Does the Northampton Liturgy Office know something that the rest of us don't? I think we should be told. Why not shower them with letters asking?

I don't know whether there are folks out there with spare capacity for prayers, Masses, application of indulgences, for the recently departed. Perhaps there are, especially among the retired and also among those who would otherwise spend too long on the blogosphere. So ...

Michael Melrose, priest, Vicar of S Giles, Reading (and thus a direct successor of Blessed John Eynon, OSB and sometime Vicar of S Giles's, martyred in 1539).
Johnnie Reidy, grocer, of Knightstown on Valentia Island in County Kerry.

29 July 2009

Benedictine Liturgy

I'm sure there are much more eagle-eyed Vatican watchers than I am, who will probably correct me ...

... but I do notice two things which interest me. Benedict XVI seems to use Vespers more than I recall his immediate predecessors doing. When he goes on a pastoral visit, the event doesn't have to be a Eucharistic concelebration. It might be Vespers and sermon. I suppose this might be a conserving of the Holy Father's physical energies; I prefer to think it is a deliberate wish to draw attention to the fulness of the Church's liturgical riches and structures. (It also has an endearingly Anglican touch to it; if he employed the simple structure of Vespers, Sermon, Benediction, it would be the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the 1930s redivivus.)

Secondly: he often draws attention to occluded or even suppressed feasts - this year, the Precious Blood and now most recently, S Annie, God's Grannie. Very preconciliar.

Apostolicae curae

Tomorrow, the second half of my piece on the status of the Catechism of the Catholic Church within Ordinariates should pop up. I am in two minds whether to follow it with a discussion of the present juridical status of Apostolicae cura and of the decree of assent which it is currently seen as demanding. But I suspect that this would be useless, because the two main groups have already decided what they're going to do; some people have decided that they need the Apostolic Constitution and that reordination is a perfectly sensible price to pay for having a sacerdotal ministry which is beyond anyone's doubt. They don't need a nit-picking survey of something that doesn't bother them. On the other hand, there are those who have no intention whatsoever under any circumstances of accepting Papa Ratzinger's shilling, and for whom a 'conscientious problem' about 'implying that their entire previous priestly life was invalid' is a useful and comfortable pretext for staying where they are. For them too, it would be a waste of my time. Then there are some rather fierce papists around for whom the invalidity of Anglican Orders appears to be the central dogma of the Christian Faith ... I have no desire to provide them with the enjoyment of ranting on my blog.

But if there really were those who are not just finding excuses to stay; are truly prepared for this leap into the unknown, but would find helpful a re-examination of what someone who accepts the Magisterium is expected to believe at the present moment about that particular papal pronouncement ...


I have just been reading, courtesy of a reader, the list put out by the Congregation for Divine Worship of the Errata and Corrigenda for the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. It is very long and is a telling indictment of the workmanship that went into the 2002 Missal.

I have posted on this, more than once, before, and am conscious that returning to this subject yet again may simply confirm some readers in their conviction that I am a repetitive bore. But I must say that I doubt whether the list is exhaustive - it fails to correct some errors that I had noticed and which are real errors and not just typos. And I would be very surprised if a Corrigenda of the Corrigenda did not become necessary.

But before you give up on this tetchy post, ask yourself: is it not something deeply preposterous when the people who are supposed to be custodians of the Latin Liturgy of most of the West - and are paid to be the mechanics responsible for its decent implementation and its development as a text which can both be used at the Altar and translated into vernaculars - combine a profound ignorance of the Latin language with a real incompetence in publishing Typical Editions?

Somebody decided that in the interest of promoting nobility of materials and workmanship in all the physical objects which accompany the Sacrifice of the Altar, the 2002 Missal should be a vast heavy and expensive volume bound in fancy red leather. You open it, and there are a very few words on each page surrounded by acres of good quality empty paper (I have noticed that those saying the Novus Ordo Latin Masses at Brompton almost always actually use the earlier, smaller, lighter editions: a celebrating priest is always more impressed by a Missal which is easily handled and obliges him to turn pages as rarely as possible). But - the schoolmaster in me will out - true quality and true nobility do not repose in mannered and ostentatious presentation.

More. That there are, in all the Latin Church, not enough people competent in Latin even to produce an Altar Book demonstrates the deepness of the cultural rupture of the last 40 years, and the enormous uphill struggle that faces those heroic individuals who desire to reconnect the fractured traditio of Roman Catholic Christendom. I do understand how unwisely irritating the SSPX seems when it arrogantly implies that the rest of the Church - and the Vatican - need humbly to allow themselves to be wagged by so small and eccentric a tail. But the fiasco which is called the Editio Typica Tertia Missalis Romani is a small yet dramatic symptom of just how disastrously bad things have become in the mainstream of the Roman Communion.

28 July 2009


I think I do understand the attitude of Dr Ian Paisley to the Roman Catholic Church. She uses the Bible; talks a great deal about God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit; demonstrates in her members what look like the fruits of the Spirit; but, at her heart, underneath all this, she does not subscribe to the core Protestant superstition: the idea that a Christian is justified by fiducia alone. So she is a fraud made all the more horrendously perverted by the fact that that, by adorning herself in tatters and rags stolen from the Gospel, she looks like the real thing. It would be no use explaining to Dr P that the RC Church, for example, actually deploys a great deal more Bible in her life than Presbyterian Churches do; that is not the point. He would simply reply, in that splendid Ulster accent with all its diphthongised vowels, that this makes her all the more of a dangerous, blasphemous, fraud.

He has got the meaning of the term Antichrist right, whatever else he has got wrong. The essence of the concept of the Antichrist is that he, the ultimate manifestation of evil, is skilfully dressed up so as plausibly to appear the genuine article. It occurs to me to wonder if the movement known as Affirming Catholicism is exactly this. The enthusiasm and the technical mastery with which they deploy their props - the lace, the monstrances, the music, the incense, the 39 buttons down their soutanes - are they simply deceptions of the Evil One, designed to draw away the faithful from their Redeemer?

I mustn't let my rhetoric run away with me. Some of them are decent and well-meaning, but misguided, people. I am not their judge; I shall stand before the same tribunal as they do. But there are some of them who have a virulent hatred of us. They do not say "These people who reject women priests are decent and good Catholics with whom I would wish to collaborate in every possible way because - except in this one issue - we share the same faith; and I wish them well because - although they're just making this one mistake - they can share with us our mission to spread the Catholic Faith within the Church of England". They want to see us persecuted, they want to see us denied a place within the Provinces of Canterbury and York. Their hatred of us seems visceral.

Now that's where the devil really is.

27 July 2009

Swine flu

I have implemented: Communion in the hand; Communion in one kind; discontinuance of the use of the Holy Water stoups; and during the Sanctus at Sunday Mass I surreptitiously rub the thumb and forefinger of my right hand with an alcoholic gel.

Is there ... keep your funnies to yourselves, this is a serious question ... anything else I could do (I should add that S Thomas's is in any case a Pax-free zone except among the Sacred Ministers)? Am I right in assuming that germs on hymn books and Sunday Mass Books will have died by next Sunday? Are the booklets I provide for my EF congregations inherently immune from contagia impiae novitatis?

Interestingly. the liberal-evangelical 'bishop of Oxford' recommends, without any hesitation, Communion in One Kind, while the Apostolic Administrator cautiously suggests that the chalice should be available 'at another station'. But who is going to consume the remains, if we do that, and take the ablutions? I am too old to die young.

Incidentally, my Associate PP discovered a zucchetto under his dalmatic as he was vesting for Mass on the Sunday before last. Is this a miracle? Is it a supernatural intimation that the Lord is summoning him to episcopal ministry?

25 July 2009

Fr Zed

I enjoyed Fr Zed's accounts of his bonanza in London; but it embarrassesd me to realise how we English clearly give an impression that the essence of Englishness is a life punctuated by frequent recourse to "a pint". Personally, I would have to say that for me Englishness consists of the Tridentine Mass, memories of Good Queen Mary (let us trust that the cause for her beatification be not long delayed) and her Spanish consort, the rose wines of Provence, Bouillabaisse, lobster and smoked salmon from Co Kerry, the white wine made in his prize-winning vineyard just south of Oxford by my friend and one-time pupil Richard Liwicki, the art of Boucher and Tiepolo, the Lady Altar in the Brompton Oratory with the statue at the side of S Pius V, reading Ovid, reading Horace, translating the Leading Articles in the Irish Times into Ciceronian Latin, the Baroque High Altar of S Thomas's, reading Callimachus, eating spetsofai in the Greek Deli up Walton Street, the Architecture of Inigo Jones ... somehow, pints don't seem much to come into it.

24 July 2009

Uncritical - moi?

Friends tell me that a Representative of the Continuum - whatever that is - has left a comment somewhere on my blog accusing me of being an 'uncritical' papalist - whether that means Uncritical of the RC Church in general or of this Pontiff in particular, I'm uncertain. I am shattered. I would have thought that anybody who had ever read any of my blog would be aware that I am extremely critical of about two thirds of what has happened in the RC Church since the Council - particularly in liturgical matters - and even more shrill about the conceptual underpinnings of those changes: the idea that an omnipotent papacy possesses uncircumscribed power and a competence to debauch the Tradition at will: a papacy maximalised beyond even the wildest dreams of Manning and Ward and the ultramontane faction at Vatican I.

I would have difficulty denying that I am much happier about the current regime ... the Benedict-and-Newman era ... making me in a sense a Man of this Moment ... but that is simply because in the last five years Senior Management in the RC Church has moved decisively in a Hunwickewards direction.

My only sense of guilt lies in my awareness that my prayers have finally been answered.

Who is he?

I have just seen an email text from someone called "Robert Hart", in which he dismisses four recent books on Queen Mary I with half a dozen words of hysterical abuse against that monarch.

Who on earth is this person Hart? What are his historical credentials? Is there anything I can do to stop any more of his views cropping up on my computer screen?

23 July 2009


I there is ever to be an entity for Anglicans in full Communion with the Holy See, I suspect it will need a proper liturgical provision. This is not easy to prescribe, since Anglicanism itself, in its different provinces not to say its different tendencies, has widely different attitudes both to liturgical style and to text. I suspect that three provisions might need to be made; and here I am speaking only of the Mass.

(1) There will be those who are very happy simply to use the new ICEL texts when they are authorised. A considerable majority of Anglican Catholics in England tend to use the current ICEL texts and would naturally in the course of time accept the new, vastly improved, translation. They will themselves have to answer the inevitable question "So, if your worship is going to be identical to ours, what exactly is this Anglican patrimony you say you want to bring with you?" They will have to explain that it is not just a question of liturgy; there is a whole spirituality which goes with the Anglican Faith-History. This is true ... even if it is a bit intangible.

(2) There should be a provision for something like the Novus Ordo, but in an English idiom which is Cranmerian. Where Cranmer has rendered a text (e.g. the Sunday collects per annum) his versions should be used even when he has slightly mistranslated the Latin. Their 450 year use is now itself part of the history and reception of these texts. They evolved and mutated in the early Latin Sacramentaries and in many cases were changed, not always wisely, by the post-conciliar Roman revisers; their post-reformation evolution in Anglicanism should not be dismissed out of hand. Texts like Gloria, Credo, Preface, Sanctus-Benedictus, Agnus, Blessing, should be Cranmer's, invisibly mended to the smallest degree possible. One advantage here is that the new ICEL texts - because they seek to be literal renderings - have moved distinctly closer to Cranmer's versions.

The Confession is a problem. There is a consensus that the Confession as Cranmer left it is unusable, but the replacements offered throughout the world must by now run into dozens (the C of E's Common Worship itself offers several). I suggest that a single text, crafted from phrases in and with echoes from Cranmer's, will have to be confected. Throughout the medieval period, the text of the Confiteor was fluid, and the post-conciliar Roman revisers felt free to rewrite it. There is no reason why there should not be an Anglican variant.

And, of course, the Eucharistic Prayer. There should be two. The first should be the translation of the Roman Canon in the Book of Divine Worship. The second should be a new prayer, unambiguously orthodox, with the structure which is common to the new EPs in the post-conciliar Missal, but confected as much as possible from phrases in Cranmer and in the non-Juror/Scottish/American tradition. Since one of its purposes would be to provide a EP for contexts in which the Roman Canon was deemed too long, it should be careful about its length. But it should not be as short as 'Hippolytan' EPs, since their brevity is itself a scandal.

Collects should be for the most part from the Prayer Book, together with their associated Secrets and Postcommunions as translated in the English Missal. The modern Roman Lectionary should be used.

(3) The English Missal in one of its most recent pre-conciliar editions should be authorised but with the single proviso that Cranmer's Consecration Prayer (and the combination of his Consecration Prayer with his Prayer of Oblation, once known as the Interim Rite) should be excluded because it is not orthodox. It should be replaced by the prayer suggested in the previous section. The Canon Romanus, in the same translation as that mentioned above, should remain on offer. Since the EM includes the whole of the Tridentine Missal translated into pastiche Cranmer (often extremely skilfully) and the whole of the 1662 Mass, the authorisation of this book thus modified would provide a liturgy suitable for those who wished to use the Tridentine Mass simpliciter in English; and for those who wished to use the historical rite of 1662, sanctified by the memories of Charles I and Laud, of Cosin and Kenn, of Pusey and Keble, in an unaltered form (except for the Consecration Prayer); and for those who wished to combine elements from both.

Option 3 would not, perhaps, be widely used, at least in England. But I think it would be worth fighting for such a rite both for those souls who would love it, and as a monument to the 450 years of Anglican Faith-History, in which, by the grace of God, although much has been amiss, not all has been flawed. It would also be a resource for the whole Anglophone Roman Rite, since it is not inevitable that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will never be desired in English.

21 July 2009

More primates

Although, in the old days, primates were really big men (to this day, in Anglican Canon Law, when a primate is in another diocese on Visitation, all jurisdiction is suspended including that of the diocesan bishop, and the Primate functions as Ordinary), they did not always get things their own way. One of my heroes, Bishop John de Grandisson of Exeter, a very grand and wealthy member of an important cosmopolitan family and a buddy of the reigning Sovereign Pontiff, was told that the Archbishop of Canterbury, with armed retinue, was approaching his see city on Visitation. He sent his own rather superior armed force out to give the Archbishop a bloody nose.

Ah, those were the days. One has visions of Vincent Nichols, in his delightful new role as the pope's right-hand man, coming to the end of the three-hour train journey from Paddington down to Plymouth ... the train is stopped by a large force of heavily armed Liberals ... shots are fired ... the invaders retire, carrying their wounded with them ... an exultant Mr Budd re-enters his see city in triumph to sit down to a victory banquet. Medieval church life had a solid reality and rootedness to it which we lack nowadays.

Primacy lost out to the tendency of the nineteenth century papacy to absorb other jurisdictions, and in the twentieth century many of the functions which might have seemed appropriate to primates drifted into the hands of Episcopal Conferences. It might be thought that a certain accountablity was lost when a personally discharged primacy was replaced by the impenetrable bureaucratic miasma of an episcopal conference. Primacy certainly existed in the first five centuries (v. the 'Apostolic Constitutions') as it does now both in Anglicanism and in the Eastern Churches (both 'uniate' and 'separated'). Its role in the future is, I believe, part of the dialogue taking place between the R C Church and Byzantine Orthodoxy.

Organic development

... is what Vatican II mandated in the Liturgy. A good example today. The admirable S Laurence ORDO, giving the rite of around 1939, gives S Praxedes. Pius XII introduced S Laurence of Brindisi; so the SSPX ORDO gives him with a commemoration of her. Thus do fading cults give partial but not total place to growing cults. The life of the Church moves on but without consigning the older to the rubbish dump.

I think there is an important theological point somewhere here.

Praxidean query

As we celebrate S Praxedes, whose church in Rome, a superb example of the 'Carolingian Renaissance', which has among its mosaics the 'Theodora episcopa' who sends the advocates of women bishops (Google Santa Prassede; should I emulate Professor Tighe's term flaminica?) into such transports, I have a question for the really erudite among you.

Why did S Pius V in his revised Missal breach the Hermeneutic of Continuity by assigning the Station Mass of the Monday in Holy Week to her church (previously it had been at SS Nereus and Achilleus)?

19 July 2009

Liturgical Reform

To Evensong at the Oratory. Good news! They have dispensed with the organist and so we all sang the Office unaccompanied - much better. And we were spared the Vernacular Hymn between Vespers and Benediction ... which I always found a trifle irritating. Eccelente.

18 July 2009

When is Primate not a Primate?

My fellow seminarian Fr MarkElvins had a letter the other day in one of the Catholic newspapers, in which he accurately described the evolution of the Arms of the See of Westminster - I mean the see founded by Pio Nono, not the one founded by Henry VIII.

They began as an exact copy of the arms of Canterbury (a pallium superimposed upon a primatial cross). The only change made was that the field was red (for the English martyrs, I believe) instead of blue. Over the years, the primatial cross disappeared but, to ease the alteration, a little fleur de lys nestled in the angle of the pallium. More recently, that too has disappeared and the only charge on the red field is the pallium. Mark justly remarks that the coat should not have been messed around without the sanction of the granting authority - in this case, the Holy See (English heralds have always been cagey about granting corporate arms to the RC bishoprics in England).

My own suspicion is that the primatial cross was removed because someone realised that the Archbishop of Westminster had no right to it, because he is not a primate. A primate is not the same as an Archbishop or even a Metropolitan. Most archbishops are not primates. A primate is historically the occupant of an ancient and venerable see, who under earlier codes of canon law had considerable jurisdiction over the bishops in his area. Most primacies originated in the emergence of the Church from the disintegration of the Roman Empire into the light of the 'dark ages'. Gregory Dix somewhere observes that there are at least six prelates styled 'Primas Galliae', and of course England (like Ireland) has historically had two primates, one 'Primas totius Angliae' and the other 'Primas Angliae'. Incidentally, the Archbishop of Canterbury still possesses the sort of authority which, under earlier law, other primates had.

Pio Nono did not constitute his new Archbishop of Westminster 'Primate' of anywhere. So it is interesting that the arms granted showed a primatial cross. A mistake? I have noticed another mistake: when Cardinal Heenan signed the decrees of Vatican II, he signed as 'Primas Angliae'. Was this a mistake, arising from Heenan seeing that prelates above him had signed 'Primas of so-and-so' and failing to understand the technicalities involved, or was he attempting to establish 'by usage' a status for his see?

Does anybody know how Manning signed at Vatican I?

More on primates next Tuesday.

17 July 2009

S Edburga

On Saturday July 18, we celebrate S Edburga of Bicester, who was Abbess of Aylesbury; whose relics were translated to Bicester. Whether they were, in the early sixteenth century, translated to the Flanders seems doubtful. The shrine certainly remained in the priory at Bicester until the dissolution when some its masonry was moved to the church at Stanton Harcourt, where it remains to this day. Whether this S Edburga was the daughter of the pagan early Anglo-Saxon king Penda or lived 300 years later is also unclear. Oral hagiographical tradition is very insecure; saints with the same name were confused; there was a temptation to assimilate the lives of different saints by making them relatives, or disciples, of each other (try, for example, sorting out S Osyth - was she a midland lass or an Essex Girl martyred at Chich, and was she martyred by Viking marauders or three hundred years earlier ... indeed, was she martyred?).

In 1946, that great Pontiff, Kenneth Kirk, bishop of Oxford back in the good old days when the diocese was under orthodox and Catholic management, and Provost of the Society of our Lady and S Nicolas at Lancing, had laryngitis. While bedridden, he wrote a jolly little book called Church Dedications in the Oxford Diocese. It showed a large number of Assumption dedications in the diocese; and also traced some Pilgrim Ways to various shrines. It is tremendous fun, but probably flawed in several respects. It took as reliable data accounts of church dedications which we now know to be disastrously unreliable. Nicholas Orme (English Church Dedications) has shown that (except in multichurched towns where dedications were remembered because they distinguished one church from another, and where, in the countryside two villages had the same name - Snodbury S Peter needed to be distinguishable from Snodbury S Paul), medieval dedications were pretty well totally forgotten after the Reformation (another blow to our sentimental respect for oral tradition). Georgian antiquaries and Victorian high churchmen then invented or guessed on the basis of inadequate evidence. Historically reliable evidence now depends on combing through medieval episcopal registers and wills; a chore Orme discharged for Devon and Cornwall but which still waits to be done for the rest of England. Of the seven churches I had in Devon, the real dedications of only two were known: and one of those had been forgotten after the Reformation and replaced by an erroneous guess! Frankly, the discontinuities of the Reformation period were very much greater than even rather ordinary middle-of-the-road churchpeople imagine.

Another flaw in Bishop Kirk's book was his assumption that church dedications enabled one to trace Pilgrim Ways. This may be no more true than the Victorian assumption that in the 'Celtic' fringe, you could use church dedications to trace the travellings of the early 'Celtic' saints. This sort of evidence may relate instead to early land-ownership patterns.

We celebrate saints not - as the old Anglican superstition had it - because we know all about them and therefore can imitate them, but because they are our concives, our fellow citizens, our glorified fellow-members of Christ's Body, given to us by God as intercessors.

Sancta Edburga, ora pro nobis.

16 July 2009


In the liturgical tradition that many of us grew up in, there were, at Mass and in the Office, quite often 'commemorations'. After the collect of the day's main celebration, the collect [plus, in the Office, antiphon, versicle, response] of a lesser celebration was said. The same happened at Mass with the Secret and the Postcommunio. The 'reforms' associated with the aftermath of Vatican II enforced a rigid discipline of one celebration only on one day. Laurence Hemming in Worship as a Revelation, Chapter 11, reminds us that this had first been proposed at the Jamsenist Synod of Pistoia; he gives good reasons for revisiting this question.

I feel that the problem of 'NO commemorations' hits particularly hard on two days: S Valentine and S Swithun. Each of these days still has a standing in English popular culture; yet each is unobservable in the liturgy of those who adhere to the modern 'reforms' because there is, on the same day, a compulsory celebration on the Universal Calendar of another Saint or Saints. (Problems also arise with regard to SS Philip Neri, S Augustine, and S Bede; and with SS Hugh and Hilda.) The best one could do would be to mention the other Saint somehow in the Intercession.

Yesterday morning, saying a New Rite Mass of S Bonaventura (actually, I had done him the previous day in my EF Mass, but that's yet another problem), I suddenly, without premeditation, added a commem of S Swithun.This, like all such impulsive actions, caused a minor problem: the people were aleady sitting for the Reading. So, when I got to the Prayer over the Oblations, I resorted to another exstinct custom of yesteryear: I said the 'commemoration' under one conclusion with the collect of the day. Yes, I know that this is licentious individualism run riot.

The Orthodox do not have a problem with combining celebrations; I believe Old Calendarists still observe the complicated rules for combining Easter Day with the Annunciation. Our Tractarian forefathers rather enjoyed the opportunity to preach on our Lady of Sorrows when the Annunciation fell on Good Friday. Why should one only be allowed one theme on one day? What is wrong with the appetite for synchronic and diachronic fellowship involved in 'commemorating' a Saint whose main celebration was in an earlier century or is now in another place?

15 July 2009

Chalcedon Revisited

I don’t know whether I have ever mentioned that part of our Diversity campaign, which is at the heart of the 90,000 word long S Thomas’s Mission Statement, is our Outreach to Christians of the Syrian Rite. A group of South Indian Christians worship in our church; and recently we had a visit from the diocesan bishop. On these photographs, he is the taller of the two bishops. The other bishop is the bishop of Cochin, who is visiting England and jumped at the opportunity to visit such an important and well-known Oxford church. See if you can guess which of the two priests is me and which is my pro ritu syriaco curate.

My Indian Syrian people are what hardliners among you might unjustly call Monophysites. They cook fabulous South Indian fish curries, and their womenfolk are decidedly fetching. I am beginning to rethink my attitude to the Chalcedonian Definition. Here are some more pictures of the Visitation. As the Slovak waitresses in our local Italian restaurant say, “Enjoy”.

You can watch a video compiled to mark the occasion by clicking here

13 July 2009

The "Continuum"

I gather that I have been the object of criticism in something called the "Continuum"? What is this? Who are they? I have been told that they dislike me for being a "Papalist", like S Augustine of Canterbury and a number of other inferior people over the centuries, and that they use the verb/noun "camp" as often as they can in each sentence they write ... perhaps we latinists should call them the castrati ... geddit? geddit?

Friends inform me that I am disliked by whoever these people are for "behaving as though the Reformation had never happened". I do hope they never visit the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. The restored Holy House there has a foundation stone with a Latin inscription - probably drafted by the great Papalist Fr Fynes Clinton (Fr Hope Patten's Latin never got far beyond the nominative of mensa). It lists the reigning Sovereign Pontiff, the diocesan bishop, and the Parish Priest, just as if there were no little hiatuses in communion between any of the three of them. Just as though, in fact, the Reformation had never ... er ...

If the Continuum come to Mass at S Thomas's I will try to ensure that we sing them that lovely old hymn which includes the poetic words
... strikes no chord more true to Rome's,
Than rings within our hearts and homes:
"God bless our Pope, the great, the good."

12 July 2009

Post Trinitatem, Post Pentecosten

The members of the Prayer Book Society, and adherents of SSPX, pray the same prayers, and are fed by the same scriptural readings, between Trinity and Advent. But not, regrettably, on the same Sundays.

These readings are first found in Roman lectionary books going back to the seventh and eighth centuries. The Prayers - collects, secrets ["over the Offerings"], postcommunions, are found in the ancient sacramentaries containing formulae which the liturgical scholars of the first half of the twentieth century were in many cases able to identify as written by particular Roman Pontiffs - not least S Leo the Great and S Gelasius. But neither readings nor prayers seem to have been selected to 'go with' each other, nor is it easy to detect the grounds upon which they were chosen at all - except in a few cases, such as the Gospels for Trinity III and Trinity V, which probably relate to the nearby feast of SS Peter and Paul. (Indeed, in early days Sundays were often thought of as 'before' or 'after' important feasts, such as that of S Lawrence, rather than as forming part of a relentless series marching from Pentecost all the way to Advent). It was this lack of strong control which gave the post-conciliar revisers their excuse to disregard their inheritance. I suspect that the jury is still out on whether discarding what the Western Church had possessed for 1300 years was a good idea.

The reasons why the rite of S Pius V - the traditional or Tridentine rite - and the Anglican Prayer Books are not quite in sync', is twofold. (1) The first Mass in the series for the 'green' Sundays was used differently in different places. Pius V inherited a tradition which used it on the weekdays after Trinity Sunday. The English medieval usage which the Prayer Book inherited and perpetuated used it on the first Sunday after Trinity and the weekdays which followed that Sunday. Hence, English custom puts all the Masses one week later than the Pian custom: the Mass of Trinity V, for example, is the Mass for Pentecost V (a Sunday after Trinity comes obviously a week later than the Sunday with the same number after Pentecost because Trinity is a week later than Pentecost).
(2) The English medieval missals used, on TrinityIII, an ancient Roman collect (which had its secret and postcommunion attached to it) which had dropped out of the books used by the revisers of Pius V. And on Trinity IV they used an ancient Roman Gospel which did not make it into the Pian Missal.

So on and after TrinityV, the Prayer Book is a week later than the Tridentine Missal as regards most of the Mass, but two weeks behind with regard to the Prayers and Gospels. If you are still reading this, apply for your £1m reward. (There are one or two disruptions as regards the graduals, but, O gawd, let's not go into that.)

So if you want to use a Tridentine Missal but keep in sync' with what your Prayer Book fellow Anglicans are doing, not to mention, of course, the pre-reformation English missals, you have otch about a bit in the book. Things are, incidentally, a bit easier if you say the Sunday Office from a Tridentine Breviary; on and after Trinity V all you need to do is to use the collect, third nocturn readings, and the antiphons for the Benedictus and Magnificat, according to this formula: Trinity x = Pentecost x-1.

Anglican revisers in 1980 abandoned the ancient series of collects but around 2000 adopted a series which included many of the old collects on their old (Prayer Book) Sundays. The post-conciliar Roman Rite retains a fair number of the old collects but higglety pigglety, according to an enumeration 'per annum' rather than 'post Pentecosten', and (at the moment in Anglophone countries) in 'translations' which render them unrecognisable.

10 July 2009

Is it true that ...

... the Sovereign Pontiff gave the Aborma a gift of the text of the Vatican document on bioethics?

Let nobody ever again say that Germans don't have a sense of humour.

Annus Sacerdotalis

It infuriates me ... significant Roman decisions about the calendar are always made well after my ORDO has been printed. Things like the Year of Paul - and now the Year of the Priest.

Had I known about it, I would have made provision. Here is the information I would have given!

Just as there is a custom of saying a Votive of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the first Friday, and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the first Saturday, of each month (see page 42 of the 2009 ORDO and page 38 of the 2010), as long as there is no solemnity or festum, except during Lent, so the Tradition offers the old custom of saying a votive of our Lord Jesus Christ, High and Everlasting Priest, on the first Thursday of each month. This observance, as well as being inherently edifying, seems particularly appropriate in this Year of thePriest.

This votive may be inaccessible to many, since it is not in the first editions of the post-Conciliar Missal, and the Third Edition (which does contain it) is still not published in the new translation which bishop Donald "Ineffable" Trautmannnn is obstructing in America. There is, however, the older votive text in the English Missal.

8 July 2009

Rambling round Ecclesiae Unitatem

The Holy Father's latest motu proprio, happily, does not do exactly what had been expected and feared. It does not combine the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission (which looks afterTridentinists who are in good standing with the Holy See and is charged with facilitating the reconciliation of the SSPX, which is not) with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Instead, in view of the large doctrinal element in the regularisation of the position of SSPX, it provides that the Prefect of the CDF should also be the President of PCED. It then leaves the PCED with an intact and separate structure. This is wise; PCED also has a strictly liturgical and regulatory duty.

The opening paragraph could almost have been drafted as the beginning of the awaited motu proprio on the reconciliation of Anglican Catholics. We recall how the Holy Father, at his inauguration, made clear that he regarded Unity as the principal duty laid upon him by the Lord. But, as someone completely ignorant of canonical niceties, I find one phrase a bit puzzling. In para 4 he talks about inviting the SSPX bishops "ut ad plenam cum ecclesia communionem iter denuo invenirent". But their excommunications have been lifted. Granted, they have no missio canonica and remain technically suspended a sacris. As individuals, however, they surely are in full communion.

Fr H and the Pope and some ramblings

A friend points out to me that the Holy Father, like me, has not forgotten the association of the beginning of July with the Precious Blood. It is nice to have confirmation that my instincts are sound. And that the Pope's are.

Incidentally, IGLH para 245 allows "any votive office" to be said on any day except Solemnities, Sundays in Advent, Lent, and Easter, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Easter Week, and November 2, simply "for the sake of devotion". This is a remarkably wide discretion; and it is not accompanied by any restrictions about where one might get these votive offices from. I don't see any reason why one shouldn't borrow material from the old Breviary on days like July 1. And, of course, since Summorum pontificum there is no reason why, on such days (or any days) one should not substitute - for example - Mattins Lauds and Vespers from the old books for those in ones LH. I do. (And I found some Proper Hymns for SS Cyril and Methodius in my pars aestiva the other day ... they would enrich the OF Office.)

As I understand it, for one to have a Sunday votive Mass of one of those suppressed solemnities, one is supposed to have permission from the bishop in view of an unusually serious pastoral need.

Another friend points out to me some simple but outstanding catechetical materials available at http://www.sancarlo.pcn.net/argomenti_inglese/pagina0.html

Hanging above my computer, I have the rather nice Calendar of the ICKSP. This month, there is a picture of S Laurent sur Sevres ... is that the shrine of S Louis Marie de Grignion? (I've been fond of him since I saw his statue, and bought his book, as a boy in the RC church at Clacton in Essex - I am an Essex Man). My churchwarden lent me a tape of songs from there.

Chattering after Mass on Sunday, one or two of us revisited the question of the benefits of infrequent communion. I said I might do a post on it. Then I recalled that - I think - I did one; probably in February or March, when the question had cropped up in this year's Oxford Bampton lectures. Does anyone remember where it is?

Last night I watched the video of Cardinal Canares doing the EF in the Lateran basilica last May. I was surprised by how much of it he got wrong ... e.g. not genuflecting after the consecrations; not keeping his thumbs and index fingers together after the consecration ... and I'm not sure he knew how to cense an altar. Castrillon was a bit shaky on that last year in Westminster Cathedral. Frankly, I do understand the thinking of Vincent Nichols when he declined, at an EF Conference in Merton a year or two ago, to celebrate the EF himself. If one is going to do a thing, one ought to try to get it right.

A very good Conference on Chesterton last Saturday in the Old Palace. Sheridan Gilley, Ian Ker, John Saward, Aidan Nichols, William Oddie (all very good; Aidan sparkling and brilliant as ever).

Are any of those gentry cradle Catholics? Where would the English RC Church be if it didn't receive continual infusions of Anglican Catholic blood? Why is its own culture so impoverished?

4 July 2009

More Daft Rituals

Anointing; or, as the people who typeset services often spell it, Annointing. We have a new fashion - or do I mean fad - what is the difference? - of anointing a cleric whenever he or she changes jobs. Priests going to a new parish; bishops committing the spiritual adultery of swapping bishoprics (do you remember the conversation between Bertie Stanhope and Bishop Proudie: Bishop: "Translations from see to see happen rather less frequently nowadays"; Bertie: "Yes, they've cut them all down to more or less the same income now, haven't they?").

When I was licensed at S Thomas's, I had to make a stand against being anointed; Ordination is the only Unction a priest needs. And I gather that the installation of new diocesans is now generally accompanied by lavish unctuosity.

Is there a connexion between the fact that the C of E has definitively set out on a path of ecumenical divergence from Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy, and the new appetite for misusing (and thus cheapening) traditional Catholic usages? And does anyone know when all this nonsense started? Is it another of B*****'s inspirations?

3 July 2009

Last Gospels

I think it's probably the idea of "Bubbles" Stancliff, Bishop of Salisbury, a resolute enemy of our Integrity but a very High Church lover of exotic ritual novelty: the Ritualists' ritualist. The idea? "Resurrect the Last Gospel"! It's suggested in a recent semi-official book of Fancy Rituals which I won't give you the details of because I disapprove of that sort of thing and I wouldn't want anyone to go out and buy a copy (I haven't. Give me the sober dignity which characterises both traditional Roman Liturgy and the old ethos of the C of E, any day of the week.)

The idea? To bring back the last Gospel. No; not the traditional Johannine prologue. This new idea is perhaps inspired more by the (rather late) Roman Rubric providing for a variety of different Last Gospels (usually from important Masses which have been reduced to a commemoration in the Mass which one has just said).

The new "Bubbles" style Last Gospels would conclude Mass on Festivals with a brief Reading which would summarise the theme and meaning of the festival, and be ringing in the ears of the faithful as they left church.

Moving chairs on the Titanic, do I hear you say? Well, yes, but the Bubbleses of this world do not believe in icebergs.

2 July 2009

Post scriptum

(1) "Was Bishop Andrew's Jubilee an ecumenical event?"
Definitely. There was a very nice gentleman there called Bishop Colin representing the Church of England.
(2) "Anglican Catholics have no sense of humour".
Untrue and unfair. Inside the cover of last evening's service book is a sentence "Common Worship ... material from which is included in this service, is copyright C The Archbishops' Council".

Dies triplex

Yesterday, up the road to the Oxford Oratory for the Requiem and Funeral ceremonies of a Roman Catholic parishioner, Mr Paul Mellins. Paul had stipulated (liturgical orthopraxy is in the very air of West Oxford) that his exsequies should be according to the old rite; and how decently it was done. Low Mass with a cantor; the Roman liturgical tradition at its very finest - so dignified, restrained, objective; nothing but the certainty of death and judgement and the fact of Man's sin, Man's need, God's mercy.

The rite ended with a champagne reception, which I sadly had to miss to hurry back to S Thomas's for the Wednesday 12.30 Mass. Fort the first time since the 1960s I observed the Feast of the Most Precious Blood - and what a fine way that is to start July. What glories Bugnini robbed us of; this celebration of the shed blood of the suffering Redeemer which for ever speaks for us before the Father's throne. Incidentally, the Lauds Office hymn is a beautiful expression of the spirituality of the devotion to the Five Wounds, which so animated our Anglican Catholic forefathers in their rebellions against the Tudor tyrannies. Three cheers for Pio Nono, one of my favourite pontiffs.

Viva viva Gesu; S Alfonso's lovely hymn to the Precious Blood (Caswall translation) began another manifestation of West Oxford liturgical orthopraxy, the celebration by our Apostolic Administrator of the Silver Jubilee of his Sacerdotal Ordination. S Barnabas' was packed with clergy and faithful laity who were edified by a homily preached by Bishop Keith, of the Richborough Apostolic District, naturally very relevant to the Year of the Priest proclaimed by our Holy Father, and by a Solemn Pontifical Mass which represented the very best of all that is meant by the Reform of the Reform. It concluded with Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Solemn Pontifical Benediction, and the presentation of flowers at the feet of our Lady while the choir sang Ave Maria.

Since Bishop Andrew is a distiguished musiclogist, our aural appetites were not starved. I felt the welcome presence of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the contribution to it of early recusant England; two hymns by S Alfonso; music by Byrd and Tallis and de Victoria (long a favourite of Bishop Andrew). And the Avignon origins of so much that we love in the Counter-Reformation was represented by the Anima Christi attributed to Pope John XXII "arr. AB".

Bishop Andrew observes "A polyphonic Sanctus is designed to be sung over a silent canon and a polyphonic Benedictus is intrinsically a meditation on the eucharistic presence while the canon proceeds". And that is what we had. Memories of days as an Anglo-Catholic undergraduate were revived by hearing the propers sung according to the psalm tones.

For liturgical pundits, a rarely observed ritual was the rite described in the Appendix 77 of some editions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum, the one headed De floribus ad uxorem Pontificis deferendis in Iubilaeo celebrando.

1 July 2009

Ordo Ordo Ordo

My ORDO is printed by the Additional Curates Society at Gordon Browning House, 8 Spitfire [Yes!] Road, Birmingham B24 9PB Telephone 0121 382 5533 ; and is a product of Tufton Books, The Church Union 2A the Cloisters, Gordon Square, London WC 1H 0AG and Faith House, 7 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QN Telephone 0207 222 6952. The ISBN number is 9-780851-913278.

"The purpose of this ORDO is to serve worship needs of Anglicans and Roman Catholics. For the former it provides for the recitation of Morning and Evening Prayer and the celebration of Holy Communion in accordance with modern forms autorised or encouraged in the Provinces of Canterbury and York. These forms are selected, arranged, and interpreted in the the spirit of what has become generally customary in Western Christendom since the Second Vatican Council; but notes draw attention to Orthodox insights.

"It also provides a full Calendar according to the modern Roman Rite, together with explanatory and catechetical notes ...

"Anglicans who prefer forms of Liturgy based on the Book of Common Prayer will find a lectionary designed for use with the BCP ... "

Fidei Defensatrix

Moved by Duffy's new book, I went to look at some medals in the B Mus; not least the one Duffy reproduces showing Anglia supplex being raised up by a beneficent Roman Pontiff.

There is another medal nearby, presumably dating from before the Spanish Marriage since Good Queen Mary is shown alone and without any Hapsburg titles. But she does have the title Fidei Defensatrix.

Was the statute by which Henry Tudor secured Fidei Defensor to himself after the breach with Rome still on the statute books? Did Mary continue too use it? Was Elizabeth ever Defensatrix, or did she go for the unisex Defensor?

That's just the sort of information Professor Tighe would have at his fingertips.