31 October 2009

125 years

Dinner last night at Pusey House, which is celebrating its 125th Birthday. Most of the great and the good of the Catholic Movement were there, including John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham who put the Movement together again after the disasters of the mid1990s, and Dr Geoffrey Kirk, the unremittingly hard-working Secretary of Forward in Faith whose erudition, tempered by a brilliantly satiric wit, has for so long enliverned our meetings and our journal New Directions.

And how lovely to have there the gentle and friendly figure of our best friend, Fr Aidan Nichols. I can't think of anyone who has done more for us than he has. He has been so generous - in terms of personal relationships; through his book The Panther and the Hind in which he sketched his picture of Orthodox Anglicanism Reunited to the Holy See: a dream which, if the Apostolic Constitution is allowed to do its work, will soon be more than a dream. I remember the first time I met him; when I read a paper on a subject that I knew very little about in great fear and trembling as to what such a formidable intellect might say about it. I need not have worried.

And there were the young together with the once-young who served as Head Sacristans or Directors of Music at PH. Very many of those present were, as you might suspect, already in Full Communion with the Holy See. It was good to be able to gossip about the progress within the RCC of the EF Mass. It is a subject on which the young seem very sound.

I wonder what future historians might say about the role of Pusey House in the restoration of the English RCC to orthopraxy.

30 October 2009

Full communion?

My previous post on the Te igitur leaves a big question: how does its conclusion fit in with a situation in which Christendom is divided? Does it mean that only those in full canonical communion with the See of Rome should use the Canon Romanus?

I think this does not necessarily follow. The solution, I feel, may be offered by the CDF document Communionis notio of 1993 (para 14). A valid Mass offered in a community which lacks full communion with the See of Peter, by its very nature as a Eucharist of the Whole Church, "objectively calls for" the "universal communion with Peter". I feel that therefore those in this sort of anomalous situation do appropriately name the Successsor of Peter since their Mass "objectively" calls for full communion. And this is even truer, a fortiori , when the celebrant subjectively longs for such full communion and has no desire to adhere to any schism.

This is a good opportunity to repeat that Communionis notio, like its successor Dominus Iesus, was a document unfairly attacked by bigots as "unecumenical". Both are quite the opposite. They provide an impetus for properly based ecumenism by their teaching that a Particular Church, which has a Bishop and valid sacraments, is a true Particular Church and ipso facto a local manifestation of the Church Catholic even if it is not in full canonical communion with the See of Rome. Disunity will wound it because it lacks the Ministry of Peter which is organically internal to a properly constituted Church but this does not deprive it of its status as a true particular church. The CDF went on to balance this by saying that the Roman Communion is also itself wounded by the disunity because it is deprived to a degree of universality.

I have not finished with this topic. I'll return to it in two or three days.

29 October 2009


If you haven't read Dr Dawkins' full response in the Washington Post, you must. It is the most wonderful, rich, beautifully expressed, totally revealing piece of sublime Barminess I have ever seen. Our own local Anglican hero, the Barmy Bishop of Bux, is a helpless third-former compared with Dawkins. Long may God preserve him. Don't ever think of "replying" to his every point. That would be infantile. Just lie back and enjoy it for the masterpiece it is. As far as this Blog is concerned, Dawkins Rules, OK. What this Blog calls for is the preservation of Dawkins, stuffed and mounted, in the Pitt-Rivers Museum here in Oxford, his own University. If we aren't entitled to have him on permanent display, who is? If he is not available for these purposes, perhaps the staff could do a full-sized mock-up of him, like their very convincing mock-up of the Dodo, so that future generations, our grandchildren and great grandchildren (or great nephews and great great nephews, if your name is Finnegan) can know what he looked like; perhaps even feel him; the Pitt-Rivers is a delightfully interactive museum, inviting both children and adults to stroke and grope its stuffed marvels. Perhaps he could be made to go through a series of mechanised movements, as in the mock-up they have there of the baby dinosaurs emerging from their eggs.

Dawkins represents all that is most traditionally and quintessentially English. Other cultures have their atheists, but we are the only race, the only culture (if American readers try to horn in on my proud boast by claiming that they do to, I shall delete the comments) that has Protestant atheists. In 1928, during the Prayer Book Revision Crisis, two Communist MPs, proud Marxists, consistently voted against the Proposed Book. When asked why it was a matter of such concern to atheists whether or not Anglican priests had the Blessed Sacrament reserved upon their Altars, the two replied that they were of course Protestant atheists. (Stuart specialists will recall also the delightful vignette of Dear Nell leaning out of her carriage and crying to the rioting mob "Peace, Good People: I am the Protestant Whore".) Because Protestantism is the ultimate, the fall-back superstition of the English; what really lies at the pulsating heart of our national identity. Atheism, like Theism for that matter, is only superficial; something that a Dawkins only wears to go to Church or for Encaenia; the tie you put on when your girl-friend invites you home to meet Daddy. Deep down, we English couldn't care less whether God exists or not. That's just an arid question for philosophers and intellectuals. Dawkins himself thinks that "the Anglican Church", although it believes in God, is actually rather a nice organisation with "Christ-like compassion" and with a "saintly" Archbishop. No; what we English really hate - and hate with every fibre of our being - is CATHOLICS.

[A footnote in the field of textual criticism, which I am proud to have learned at the feet of the great George Kilpatrick, Dean Ireland Professor in this University: in the superb passage " that disgusting institution, the Roman Catholic Church, is dragging its flowing skirts in the dirt and touting for business like a common pimp", "pimp" is clearly a scribal corruption because pimps, as every feminist knows, are exploitative males, and males do not wear flowing skirts [we clergy do, but as we mince along in our homophobic yet pederastic quest of Altar Boys we always make sure that our soutanes never trail in the mud]. And the traditional topoi of the Scarlet Woman and the Whore of Babylon are clearly echoed here. Clearly one should emend to either "tart" or "whore". Since the passage is faintly archaic in its rhetoric and imagery, I prefer to conjecture "whore". At the very least, critical texts should obelise "pimp".]

28 October 2009

Anglican Clergy

One friendly RC blogger has suggested that the acceptance of Anglican clergy into RC presbyteral ministry might not be unconditional. I agree, but feel strongly that the checking be left to the Ordinariates and not be in the hands of English RC bishops. For reasons that I think are obvious; mainly, that an Anglican is best placed to know whether the training at a particular place at a particular time was in fact adequate.

It is certainly true that those "NSMs" 'trained' on correspondence courses run by the mainstream C of E will need some real training. I once asked a priest, NSM, in a London Anglo-Catholic shrine church, to hear my confession; it became clear as we went along that not only had he had no training himself in this ministry, but had clearly never himself made a Confession. At the end, I had to get up and find a BCP and show him the Formula Absolutionis in the Visitatio Infirmorum and tell him to say it.

And our constituency is not entirely without clergy who are remarried divorcees or have married divorcees, who would clearly need to be interviewed by a canon lawyer. And there are clergy who belong to proscribed organisations, like our daft old friends the 'Freemasons'. Etc., I fear. Quite so. But this must not be made an excuse for ponderous processes of 'discernment' really designed to discourage all but the most persistent. The model should be the behaviour of a French bishop in the 1990s, who, so I heard, phoned up Cardinal Ratzinger to find out if he could employ a couple of Anglicans whom he knew (they had a holiday cottage in his diocese and were fluent in French). He was told, on the phone, to go ahead (the faculties would follow by post). On Shrove Tuesday the two said Mass for the last time as Anglicans; on Ash Wednesday were received into full communion; after Easter ordained deacons sub conditione; at Pentecost ordained priests sub conditione. I don't think that quite matches the speed in Archdeacon Manning's case, but it's better than most people have had to put up with who have fallen into the hands of the English RC hierarchy. Another practical point: clergy who 'poped' years ago and are still sitting around being 'discerned' should have access to the new arrangements. They've suffered enough.

On a happier note, may I say that I hope there will be mechanisms for clergy to be loaned. Particularly if a number of retired but active clergy take the option, they might outnumber the available congregations. Perhaps they might be loaned to local RC dioceses, if it is possible to find room to squeeze them into Mass rotas without depriving current RC clergy of their cherished privilege of Quinquination. Or we could be of use to bodies like FSSP. Or, if SSPX accepts its own Roman Offer, to them. Some Anglican clergy are Byzantinophiles, who might relish the privilege of ministering to Melkites or Ukrainians.

We Anglicans are very versatile.

26 October 2009

Pardon my language

I nipped into Church House Bookshop to look at Pepinsta's Editorial in the Tablet (the restoration of Full Communion won't mean we are expected to buy the b****y thing, will it? I think we need reassurance on this from the highest levels). She says that what we have to gain from Unity is finding out about 'Sacramentality'.

Di Immortales! Viden qua ignorantia mugiat vacca? Quos putat scelesta nos esse? Quakers? Vesanum c****m.

****** ********* ******* **********

25 October 2009

Apostolic Constitution

A splendid meeting in Westminster, with hundreds of laity and priests and bishops and seminarians.

How remarkable was the enthusiasm - especially among the younger priests and seminarians - for the Holy Father's generous initiative.

The laity shared this sense of a wonderful historical moment, but had their own concerns about property; about whether the C of E would let it follow the Ordinariates.

I printed in New Directions quite recently a sermon which, knowing that something like the Constitution was imminent, I preached at our Patronal Festival at S Thomas's in July; in which I pointed out that our medieval churches were not built by Protestants or Liberals; and neither were the new slum churches built by the great Anglo-Catholic clergy of the Victorian period. The C of E, which is a dab hand at declaring churches redundant, has no need to be mean to us.

But there is a theological point here, and I think the Laity were entirely right in their concerns.

Churches, in Catholic Tradition, are massive and significant Sacramentals. They were consecrated in lengthy rites with powerful symbols; the tracing of alphabets on the floor; the anointing of the Consecration Crosses inside and out; the consecration of Altars and the sealing within them of the relics. I was reminded of this recently as I read the Opera of Benedict XIV; a King - John - of Portugal had had an entire and very grand prefabricated Chapel made in Rome (yes: the one which featured so prominently in the recent V & A Baroque exhibition). The king had asked the Pope himself to consecrate it before it was transported to Lisbon. And he did. And he wrote to the King to tell him that he had done so; and reminded his Lusitanian Majesty that the rites of Consecration are so lengthy and so tiring that the Pontificale permits a second person to take over towards the end and actually sing the Mass. But, says this admirable Pontiff, "I did it all myself".

Our churches are not, as one enthusiastic young priest seemed to imply, fairly insignificant pieces of property. They embody the love and the history and the memory of the communities which built and sustained them.

Why should the Liberals have them?

So that they can sell them to property developers?

23 October 2009

Versus Orientem

A bit of a rant in the admirable NLM. But I wonder if they are saying quite what they mean.

Take the Oxford Oratory. Currently, their OF masses are facing East; their EF masses they celebrate facing West.

Does NLM think this is wrong?

Putting it differently: are they arguing, like the Fathers of the Church, for Mass facing East; or do they want Mass with priest facing in the same direction as the people ... whatever that may be?

I think people should make up their minds. The Traditionalist Movement runs a real risk of superficiality.

Calendars yet again

I first started saying the EF regularly after my first retirement, in 2001, when I went down to Devon and had churches in which there was no tradition of a daily Mass: so I was at liberty to use whatever rite I liked without any pastoral repercussions. What I said was the EF, but with the OF calendar, and with the OF elimination of "commemorations" and the OF rules on the Gloria. I know from comments on my blog that not a few clergy do this, and I still think that it would be good if the PCED regularised it.

More recently, however, I have begun to use the EF calendar at my EF Masses. I am warming to this. The advantages are that one gets an uninterrupted liturgical tradition. I use red vestments much more often, because the EF calendar still - after all these centuries - reflects the primacy of Martyrdom as a path to Sainthood and still asserts the formative experience of the entire Church in the campaigns of the "great" Imperial persecutors to expunge Christianity. I now wonder about that elaborate Introduction issued with the Novus Calendar when it was first promulgated; it carefully showed that there were in the new Universal Calendar proportionate numbers of Saints from each age of the Church and from each Continent and from each 'constituency' - Virgins; episcopal founders; etc.. This clinical committeeism now seems to me distinctly unnatural. The old Calendar does update itself by natural, organic, means. Older saints fade from memory and their observancces are reduced in rank; new ones come in and the former occupants of particular days fade into being mere commemorations. I currently have a distinct feeling that this is a more Catholic way of doing things than the post-conciliar "quota" system.

Of course, a fundamentalist adherence to "1962" is just as unnatural as quotas artificially placed like straight-jackets on the Sanctorale. For the old natural organic development to be stopped is itself deeply untraditional. And there could well be a little tidying up. For example: before 1962, S Irenaeus was on the same day as the Vigil of SS Peter and Paul. He shared the day with them. But in 1962 this was thought a bad thing and so he was shifted into the period after the Solemnity. But Bugnini then abolished Vigils, and put S Irenaeus back onto his original day. Celebrating the Saint on his 1962 date - which only held good for less than a decade - can hardly be a touchstone of safe "Traditionalism"

What are the experiences of others?

Benedict XIV

A really exhilarating day yesterday, in Bodley, with the Omnia Opera of that great Pontiff (I am going through in detail his teaching on Concelebration).

What makes him most like his successor of today is his erudition and the freedom it gives him. He took immense pains to protect 'uniate' Easterners against latinization; a threat which came not from aggressive Western missionaries but from the 'uniates' themselves, who wanted the flexibility that comes with the Roman Rite (e.g. to say more than one Mass on one altar in one day). He resists attacks upon the zeon and upon filioque-free versions of the Creed. Because of his immense doctrinal weight, he can see beyond rules and easy assumptions to what really matters. He understands Byzantine spirituality because he has read Orthodox theology.

A real protoB16.

22 October 2009

Canon Law

We Anglicans tend to be disgustingly ignorant on this subject.

For no particular reason, I found myself wondering, with regard to the Military Ordinaries they have in the RC Church: are Chaplains incardinated into their Ordinariates? Whom do Ordinariate clergy mention in the Canon?

By the way, a quite friendly RC blog gives a list of 'rites' that clergy in Pope Benedict's Ordinariates would be restricted to. But surely, these structures and their clergy will be part of the Latin Church. So, surely, they will have access to the provisions of Summorum Pontificum?

21 October 2009

My views on the Apostolic Constitution

Some friends wonder why I haven't said much. The reason is that having expected for some time something like the Ap Con, I have already posted a lot of expressions of opinion about the practical matters involved; particularly the liturgical and those relating to clerical marriage. Just last month, for example, you could look back to Sept 9&10; Sept 12&13&14; Sept 24.

The plain fact is that the details are going to be very important and it is the details that we do not have. I suspect that the document is not actually written: we have not, you notice, been told its name (the first couple of words of the Latin text). Rowan mentioned a 'Code of Practice'; perhaps this is something mentioned to him by Levada the previous evening.

I regard as significantly positive the willingness of Rome to allow married Anglican bishops to continue to exercise episkope in the guise of prebyteral Ordinaries. The Holy Father, as in the matter of Summorum Pontificum, has not just given the minimum.

Pessimists might wonder what the English RC bishops said to Levada on Monday, and what effect that will have on the eventual form of the legislation.

20 October 2009


A correspondent reminds me of the old Oxford ditty

How happy are the Oxford flocks,
How free from heretics!
Their priests so very orthodox,
Their Bishop orthoDix!

relating to the close friendship between Dom Gregory Dix and Dr Kenneth Kirk, Bishop of Oxford.

Accident prone

Some time ago I heard a sad and dreary little discussion on the Radio between two sad and deary little people. One was called Cornwell; the other Pepinster (does that name suggest that she is descended from a bastard line of the Merovingian dynasty? Personally - call me a trendy if you like - I tend to go for the Carolingian Renaissance).

Pope Benedict, Cornwell said, is 'accident prone'. I think this sort of nonsense has to be met head-on. We live in an age of quite hysterical prejudice; against 'Religion'; against Christianity; against Catholicism; against the Pope (in that ascending order). So if he says something erudite, carefully phrased, and carefully considered, this is distorted by those who are either too intellectually challenged to begin to understand it, or are so malevolent that they are determined to distort it (usually both). Accident prone he isn't. And we shouldn't go half-way to meet his enemies by assuming that this is the acceptable formula for distancing ourselves from him.

BTW, my guess is that in the run-up to the Papal visit there will be a crescendo of malevolent and lying abuse against the holy Father from all the usual foghorns and graylings.

And take the lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Williamson. Miraculously, it appears, excommunication is no longer, for the chattering classes, a dangerous and oppressive relic of the Dark Ages; no longer a grim act of aggression by a loathesome theocracy. It is the reaction of first choice by the cuddly people, the nice and the good, if someone dares to question one of their own orthodoxies. Just as calling somebody a heretic is no longer a dangerously medieval denial of the self-evident maxim that everybody has 'their own truth'; in the hands of Jefferts Schori, 'Primate' of some American sect, it is an obvious way to characterise an opponent (to be fair, poor George Carey began this game long before JS had even acquired her first canon lawyer).

'Absolutism' is unpopular, too; it suggests Louis XIV and that most un-Anglo-Saxon of things, 'Arbitrary Power'. Yet apparently Pope Benedict would have been the hero of the day if he had said "What the Hell; I've decide that some blokes will no longer be subjected to penalties because they were uncanonically consecrated; but I'll leave Williamson excommunicate, although he has done nothing else making him in law liable to canonical penalties, because I find his historical opinions distasteful".

19 October 2009


A correspondent is quite right to point out that in liturgical Latin the Abl/dat of anima is (always??) animabus and not animis. Put the slip down to my so many decades of teaching Classical Latin, where, I suspect, only filia and dea operate (for obvious reasons) in this way.

Thinking about it, I recall also famulabus in liturgical Latin. What other examples are there?

I wonder if animabus goes back far enough to count as another example of Christine Mohrmann's point about the deliberate archaism of liturgical Latin. Or whether it's simply to distinguish anima from animus.

The Solemnity of S Frideswide

When I was an undergraduate, today, the Festival of the Patron Saint of the City, University, and Diocese of Oxford used to be observed with a Pontifical High Mass sung in the Cathedral by the Diocesan. Those, of course, were the Catholic glory days of the diocese; Bishop Kirk was no longer bishop but Bishop Carpenter, who ordained me to the Diaconate and the Sacred Priesthood, was a more than adequate substitute. Quorum animabus propitietur Deus.

Fuimus, et fuit Troia.

Another Grouse ...

... about linguistic "fillers". I have just walked through central Oxford with a horrible and noisy gaggle of screeching little girls just behind me carrying on about how few "boys" of their "year" were "good-looking" and with the filler "like" several times in each sentence - even the horrendous construction "he was like ..." for "he said ...". The noise suddenly abated as I passed Brasenose, so I suspect that is the college which needs seriously to revise its entrance procedures. There are times when I do feel I understand what drives men to homosexuality.

But girls are not the only culprits. In last week's radio programme by Lord Bragg (a weekly seminar called "In our Time", for colonial readers), on the politics of the death of Elizabeth Tudor, one of three participating dons was a Cambridge professor whose name now eludes me. His filler was "y'know", and his filler-frequency was, if anything, greater than that of those women undergraduates at Brasenose. I think I understand this particular filler; it is often used by 'charismatic' teachers who affect a 'spontaneous' style of delivery in which everything is so breathlessly and elaborately intimate, informal and unpompous that few sentences are so tedious as to procede grammatically to a main verb because the speaker continually charges off down some exciting sideroad. This sort of academic is often surrounded by young and equally breathless female groupies, so perhaps there is a link with the Brasenose phenomenon.

Such linguistic usage can't be the prescriptive patois of allCambridge-educated Tudor historians, because Professor Tighe wouldn't use it if his life depended on it.

18 October 2009


Somebody wants to put into my churchyard (I'm a coward, so of course I'll agree) a gravestone describing the deceased as "Beloved Daughter, Sister, Aunty".

What I dislike is that the Lady concerned was a very considerable person who was the parish's Schoolmistress for decades and touched, for the better, innumerable lives. None of this apparently matters. It's almost enough to make me a screaming feminist. The inscription desired seems to me to mean, translated into plain English,

She was a

Since I'm on about it: I also dislike the modern fad for seeing someone solely in terms of intra-familial relationships and without any reference to their role in the wider community. (One of the best inscriptions in my churchyard is that to Olive Gibbs, because it details her long stint as national Chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and her mayoral service to this city and county.)

And I dislike the absence of any reference to the deep religious commitment of the person concerned, and the lack of any suggestion that we might pray for her or that Jesus might have mercy upon her or that she might rise again.

And I don't care for the hypocoristic Aunty.

I think I must be out of sync with the Zeitgeist.

17 October 2009

The Prayer Book Office

I used the old Roman Breviary before I went to Seminary; the BCP Office (but in Latin and Greek and with the Breviary hymns and Collects and some antiphons) for my first 25 years in Holy Orders; then, after my Silver Jubilee, took up the Liturgy of the Hours: for a change; because it only required lugging one book around; because I wanted to experience the patristic lections. More recently ... but let's not go into that now.

I am not, therefore, an inherently prejudiced person. And I would like to canvas views on the BCP Office, by which I mean the Office starting at O Lord, open ... and ending with the Third Collect. In my opinion ...

Advantages: not too long - you don't find yourself running two hours together for practical reasons; you don't hurry through because there is a lot to say; it is accessible to the Laity; it combines a lot of the important elements of the Western Office tradition in a manageable format; gives the Apostles' Creed twice a day; includes the Athanasian Creed; gives a good diet of Scripture.

Disadvantages: the four lections give it a heavy, didactic, Reformation bias rather different from the emphasis on praise proper to Lauds and Vespers; no patristic lections; no hymns; Evensong combines Vespers and Compline so that it is not really totally suitable either for the traditional hour of Vespers (late afternoon) or that of Compline (bedtime); does not allow for the tradition (thought by many to go back to first century Judaism) of praising God at dawn with the use of the Laudate psalms, 148, 149, 150.

Over to you.

16 October 2009

Have a snort

Last Sunday, a most diverting interview on the wireless (yes, I am unashamedly non-U) about the latest committee decision with regard to wyminbishops; a discussion involving Father Master General and some feminist woman. He did the Reasonable and Moderate Act that he pulls off so well (how does he do it? Why do I in contrast always end up sounding like a raving bigot? There's no need to answer that. I am working very hard to emulate his manner of scrupulous courtesy always and in all places towards and about those with whom we disagree).

But she, poor girl, must have allowed herself to be situated too close to the microphone, because all through the interview we could hear her puffing and snorting and pawing the ground like a thwarted stallion.

Daft cow.

Help needed

My Parochial Church Council has demanded, as such bodies do, that in Advent we should have Solemn Vespers of our Lady followed by Solemn Benediction.

In the cobwebby laden cupboard at the back of the Church, we do have a nice set of copies for the laity of Vespers of our Blessed Lady, produced by and in the inimitable style of the Society of Saints Peter and Paul. But what about the music?

Can any kindly reader point me in the direction of a musical version?

I mean, in English. We do Benediction in Latin, but Vespers in English.

The Society of SS P & P existed in the first half of the C20 in the time of that Baroque triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism which we now find so appealing. It was considered provocative (don't ask me why) that they described themselves as Publishers to the Church of England, and also sold such Church Requisites as Latimer and Ridley Pricket Stands.

Sacrosanctum Concilium

A reading of the Comciliar Decree on Liturgy reveals that a considerable divergence among bishops is masked by a simple legislative device. Some things are mandated by the Council; other things are permitted if local bishops or hierarchies sanction them. Reread the Decree yourself with this hermeneutic, and spot the phenomenon in paragraph after paragraph.

A second thing to note: those things allowed at the discretion of local bishops and hierarchies soon became, under the pressure of the then dominant elite, the universal practice.

One particular example is concelebration. In the Roman Rite, this was alreadythe custom, since time immemorial, at the Ordination of Presbyters and the Consecration of Bishops. The Council now extended it to the (analogous) Blessing of Abbots; and to the Masses of Maundy Thursday, both the Chrism Mass and the Missa in Coena Domini. It will be recalled that Private Masses are forbidden that day; so this in fact constitutes an extension of the ability of every priest to exercise his priesthood on that day. In addition, the Chrism Mass already contained, not indeed a Concelebration of the Mass, but a Coconsecration of the Chrism. Let me put my cards on the table: I regard this Conciliar provision as not only 'organic', but in itself a desirable development. As Pope Innocent III pointed out eight centuries earlier, it was the immemorial custom of the Cardinal Presbyters of Rome to concelebrate with the Pontiff; and one of the few occasions when under modern circumstances a Bishop expresses his Eucharistic presidency surrounded by his Presbyterium is the Chrism Mass. For the same reason, I applaud the facultas given for Concelebration at Councils, Episcopal Meetings, and Synods.

But with the licence of the Ordinary, Concelebration was also permitted at the main Mass in churches where the needs of the Faithful do not require a celebration on his own by each priest,; and at any sort of Clergy meetings. And consequently, Concelebration became the norm in any and every conceivable situation.

My proposition is that what the Council decided to permit universally is good, wholesome, 'organic', and should be embraced by 'traditionalists'. What was left to the licentia Ordinarii should stay just that: a possibility which can be permitted in special circumstances.

I would like to conclude with a historical fact well worth consideration. Mgr Marcel Lefebvre signed this Decree and did not obstruct its implementation. Like many bishops, he was part of a tacit agreement that what some of what the more 'liberal' bishops desired could be allowed to them, while it would not be imposed on those who were looking for a more cautious reform.

15 October 2009

Fauna and a bit of flora

I must be careful not to give the impression that I am aping Another Blogger by carrying on interminably about birds. So I will just mention that I decided on the last day of summer to go and look at the lower end of the (artificial) lake in the grounds of Johnny Churchill's Folly near Woodstock. Where I saw 30+ grebe, 12 cormorants, 2 herons, 2 jays, 2 buzzards, 2 kingfishers.

Like many places in England at this moment, it had a positively Exodic plague of ladybirds (ladybugs to colonials); mostly the sort with 18 spots, which I believe are an unwelcome foreign invasion ... is that right? A few of the black sort with red spots ('counterchanged', as we armorists might say). And just one, red, with no spots at all. Is that rare? Should I have kept it and sold it for millions? Some other blogger ... such as Fr Zootheblackandsaythered (or have I got that the wrong way round? No wonder some of my Masses are a bit strange) would know.

On the East front of the Folly a goodish (but not very movimento) bust of the Great Monarch, snitched by Johnny from the walls of Tornai. Sadly, the Sun King has lichen on his nose. I wonder if the republican regime currently rumoured to hold sway in France would care to have it cleaned off.

I don't go gawping round the interior of the Folly; there are enough Japanese and Americans doing that. But I did nip in to pay my repects to a nice (Mazzaoli) bust of 'Cardinal Borromeo'. He looks so very much happier than his neighbours, the Divine Vespasian (indigestion) and Our Lord and God Caracalla (chewing glass).

And Mohrmann again

Pentecost 16
May your grace, we beseech you O Lord, ever go before us and follow us, and may it make us ever intent upon good works.
Trinity 17
Lord we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works.
Per annum 28
Tua nos quaesumus Domine gratia semper et praeveniat et sequatur, ac bonis operibus iugiter praetet esse intentos.

14 October 2009


I know this will lose me lots of friends, but I have decided that the Winner in the Limerick Question is Sue Sims, whose limerick seems to have a delightful unforced quality to it. I proclaim her Hujus Blogguli Laureata.

Changing the subject ...
the other day my wife was cornered by a gentleman who addressed her about his atheism and lifestyle. He concluded by saying "I live by the Nine Commandments". Quick as a flash, she retorted "That's an unusual name for a pub". Who wouldn't love a girl like that?

I can't think of a riposte anything like as good. My poor attempts are
"Really? I have been told that Adultery is a much overrated pastime", and "Gosh, how interesting to meet someone who covets his neighbour's Ass".

I bet noone can think of a better one than Pam's.

12 October 2009

Our Lady's hair

We all know that in the last years of the Middle Ages, Western iconography tended to show our blessed Lady with long, loose, waist-length hair. But what colour was it?

In the Bodleian 'Bindings' Exhibition, there is a C14 book with the Coronation of our Lady on the front, in enamel. And while our Lord has very clearly brown hair, our Lady's hair is distinctly golden.

I need help ...

... because I have just read, in an old RC newspaper passed on to me by my Head Server, a piece by someone called "Mgr Basil Loftus". In it he defines the Eucharistic role of the priest as to "animate and energise" the congregation.

As a poor schismatic, I know nothing about RC Theology. So of course I have to accept that this is in fact what the Council of Trent defined as sacerdotium. But it seems curiously like what we Anglicans would call "Extreme Low Church Nonsense".

Does this gentleman really hold a celebret from a validly consecrated bishop in full communion with the See of Rome? He would surely be much happier in the C of E. Should I offer to meet him secretly, in some sleazy pub somewhere, so that we can swap celebrets - and jobs? (But he can't have my wife.)

But, on reflexion, No. The congregation at S Thomas's would lynch him before he'd finished animating and energising them in the Asperges.

And can anyone explain to me what "Mgr" means? I thought it was something rather up-market, because for more than fifty years I have maintained an acquaintance with a very splendid priest called Mgr Anthony Stark. His churchmanship is much more sound. Now I have to assimilate the fact that he is presumably in cahoots with this "Loftus" chappie.

What a dark, mysterious, frightening body the Church of Rome is.

11 October 2009


In the monthly Calendars published in the Newsletter by my predecessor Dr Jalland, when there was nothing to disturb the greenness of a Feria, he quite often put down the word Chantry. Presumably this means he said a requiem. Would that have been a requiem of those whose Year's Minds ("Anniversaries" for you Roman Catholics) were occurring? Was this piece of terminology common back in the 1930s?

10 October 2009

Pleae ...

... could Little Black Sambo email me?

9 October 2009

S Therese again

The (nicely done) service books they were putting out at S Alyoggers described the Saint as a Double of the Second Class. Why? Where is (or was) she that rank? Surely, at Lisieux she was DiCl.

Ave atque Vale

What fun to see S Alyoggers during yesterday's stay by S Therese. Large devout crowds; clergymen wedged in corners hearing confessions; the queues approaching the reliquary to venerate; the tinkle of bells from low masses at side altars. It reminded me of places like Walsngham, before the post-Conciliar ruptures; and of Mr Newman's words
This is popular religion ... how wonderful that people call this worship formal and external; it seems to possess all classes, young and old, polished and vulgar, men and women indiscriminately; it is the working of one Spirit in all, making many one. And he contrasted it with Anglican worship as it was before the Catholic Revival, in which "the clergyman or the organ was everything and the people nothing, except so far as the clerk is their representative; here everything was just reversed".

Incidentally, a very good sermon by the pp, Fr Seward; elegant, literate, and moving.

7 October 2009


They must have been anxious for weeks; waking up in the night worrying about some detail they might have forgotten. But the Oratory clergy have triumphed, for now Oxford is, although for less than 24 hours, a shrine of the Little Flower. The Oratory received the reliquary of S Therese of Lisieux this evening with enormous panache; rose petals descended as some hefty Sixth Formers carried her in; the organ pealed; we sang a vernacular hymn; then the Oratory clergy sang Solemn Vespers with what I take to be the local propers (proper hymns and all) of S Therese according to the old Breviary; First Vespers, so the booklet proclaimed, of a Double of the Second Class (so the bonus is that we go retro to the usages of Pius XII!). The occasion was really rather unEnglish ... the crowds, the fervour ... but at the heart of it was that very Anglican liturgical style which the Oratories of dear S Philip carry off so well.

I have just reread Mgr Ronnie Knox's translation of the History of a Soul, and I feel in no doubt that the decision to make S Therese a Doctor (Doctrix?) of the Church was inspired. She was such a joy-filled young woman - no Protestant preoccupation with sin - who writes in the most natural (not naive) way imaginable about the science of collaborating with Grace to show the World the Love of Christ.

I am skipping this evening's novus ordo communion service at the Oratory in favour of their EF Sung Mass tomorrow at 8.30 a.m. (after my own 7.30 Mass at S Thomas's). And I pray S Therese to excise my innate malevolence and help me to love God and neighbour in the details of my own life.

6 October 2009


As I write this, we do not yet know the arrangements for the Beatification of John Henry Newman. Will it be in Rome, as beatifications commonly were in recent pontificates, or will it happen in England? Will it be done by the Holy Father or by a local Archbishop? One of the most interesting changes made by Benedict XVI was the localising of many beatifications. And this is in itself a good example of Benedict's way of working and of his understanding of a hermeneutic of continuity.

Misunderstandings can arise from an assumption that beatification is just a step to canonisation, just as the diaconate is (in popular but mistaken understanding) just a step to the priesthood. Beatification is, on the contrary, a refinement of an arrangement always implicit in 'Saint-making': the distinction between a local cultus and a universal cultus. Often the movement from the former to the latter was a gradual process with popular input, as pilgrims and tourists transported reports of sanctity (and sometimes relics) around the Christian world. Most strikingly, a Middle Eastern Martyr of whom little is known became the Patron Saint of England.

Beatifications were the actions of the local Church until quite late. That erudite pontiff Benedict XIV wrote a classical work on Saint-making and recorded the beatification, in 1603, of Blessed (later Saint) Boniface of Lausanne by the Archbishop of Malines. Soon after this, beatification was restricted to the Roman Pontiff as part of that centralisation which followed the Counter-Reformation. But another fact which also might sound strange to us is the low-key informality of beatification in those days. Pronouncements were not made to a crowd of people at a fever pitch of pious excitement; the beatifying authority simply issued texts for Mass and Office of the new beatus. And originally this permission for cultus was commonly very limited; when S Philip Neri was beatified in 1615 the liturgical texts were only allowed to be used in the Oratorian Church of the Chiesa Nuova in Rome ... not even in other Oratories. The Pope reminded the Oratory of their obligation to celebrate their founder "with restraint". Not until the beatification of S Francis de Sales in 1662 was a beatification done in the modern sense of that word.

John Henry Newman, of course, is a rather special case. He is already a universal figure; and is regarded by many as one of the main sources of all that was good about Vatican II and its 'spirit'. And it would be good if the Holy Father were to perform the Beatification of Newman himself, breaking his own rule of leaving such events to a local Primate acting as his legate. Remember that the RC Church in England does not have a primate (see posts of July 18 and 21). And Newman is in many ways the property both of the English Ecclesial Community which nurtured him and which he transformed before 1845, and of the one he joined. Surely it would be sensible for the Bishop of Rome, who is the common Father of all Western Christians, to perform this act.

5 October 2009

In the Goolies

Have you seen Dr Ratzinger's address to the African Synod? The bit where he refers to the spiritual toxic waste of the First World going to Africa and being a form of colonialism?

He really does have a gift for bowling his rhetoric straight into the goolies of his detractors, doesn't he? This Pontificate truly is fun, isn't it?

3 October 2009

What you want is the English Missal

Christine Mohrmann wanted the development of sacred, hieratic vernaculars; Aidan Nichols envisaged the diffusion of the EF Mass in just such 'high verbnacular'. Anglicans will be panting to point out that Anglicanism developed just such a sacral vernacular in the sixteenth century; and that the English Missal, the Altar Book of Anglican Catholics before they unwisely dumped it to follow slavishly post-conciliar RC liturgy, provides just what Fr Aidan says he wants.

The sixteenth century was a propitious age; liturgical Latin had owed a fair bit of its genius to the Roman passion for legal precision and completeness - and Tudor English had many of the same characteristics. So, if the Canon of the Mass could talk of haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrifucia illibata, Cranmer, a Protestant with a Protestant agenda, could write of a full perfect and sufficient sacrifice oblation and satisfaction. How distant was his theology from the patristic theology of the ancient Canon; yet how close his style! A great Anglican mystagogue, Dom Gregory Dix - let us hope that he is enjoying Chridstine Mohrmann's company on that further shore - who was an Anglican and yet said the ancient Latin words of the Missa Romana most of the days of his priestly life, hit the nail upon the the head when wrote about the Sunday collects of the Roman Rite that " they are lovely things, grave, melodious and thoughtful, and compact with evangelical doctrine - characteristic products of the liturgical genius of Rome in the fifth and sixth centuries. Cranmer's reputation as a writer of english prose largely rests on his translations of some seventy of these prayers ... And rightly so, for his are among the very best translations ever made, and his products when he is not working on a Latin original are not always so happy". Only the occasional phrase from the Canon survived the Zwinglian prism of Cranmer's mind, but how those survivors whet one's appetite: not weighing our merits but pardoning our offences for "non aestimator meriti sed veniae ... largitor". And if It is very meet right and our bounden duty is not quite a literal translation of "Vere dignum et iustum est", how exquisitely it echoes the majestic syllables with which the Roman Rite begins the Great Eucharistic Prayer.

2 October 2009


I see that tomorrow Cardinal Bertone is to take possession of his Cathedral Church at Frascati.

Wasn't that the Church of the Cardinal King, where he conducted the funeral of Charles III?