31 January 2010


A lovely sunny day; so I took an hour off from proof-reading the 2011 ORDO to walk up to the watery wastes of Port Meadow in case the Tame Kingfisher were there. He was!

(What on earth does "streaming" mean and why does Fr Zed use that word whenever he's been birdwatching? I shall never be a proper blogger till I get all this arcane jargon straight.)

30 January 2010

It guttered

As I was finishing Mass this morning (having even said that marvellous Sequence about Bl Charles Stuart) one of the altar candles started guttering ... it proved to have burned down to what within the Patrimony we call the Spike.

I'm sure readers - and not only Tasmanian ones - will be able to explain to me the symbolism of this.

29 January 2010


It seems to me that we cannot avoid reconsidering some aspects of Castration. So I had better put together a post on this for tomorrow or the next day.

Utraquism again

And by this term I mean the use in a particular congregation of both the Extraordinary and the Ordinary Forms of the roman Rite. I have raised before the problems which this involves. They are, perhaps, at their most acute in the weeks before Ash Wednesday. Elsewhere in the year - for example, in Pentecost Week and on the Sunday next before Advent, these problems can be fudged or elided or ignored. But during the Gesima weeks, the problems get lengthy and structural.

In the EF rite, one irrevocably bids farewell to Alleluia with a twofold use at Evensong on the Saturday before Septuagesima. Thereafter, one replaces the Alleluia before the Gospel with the Tract. But in the OF, Alleluia continues until Shrove Tuesday. There is an obvious difficulty in this as, on weekdays perhaps, on one day the Mass is EF, on the next OF. Here at S Thomas's, we have an additional little local difficulty in as far as, while using the Three Year Lectionary on Sundays, we take the sung propers from the English Gradual (which gives the Roman/Sarum propers rendered into the texts of the Prayer Book Psalter and the Authorised Version).

Then there is the question of liturgical colour. My recollection from last year is that the Oxford Oratory sings Sunday Evensong of the Gesimas, but in green copes.

Life would be simpler if the Congregation for Divine Worship decreed - perhaps optionally - that the Gesima weeks would be Purple and Alleluia-free in the OF as well as in the EF.

28 January 2010

S Charlemagne?

Well, No. But Blessed Charlemagne you will find in local calendars as to be observed today; you will find churches dedicated in his name; and, I am told, at Aix his relics are exposed for veneration. What is going on?

In 1165, two Popes claimed the obedience of Christians. Here at S Thomas's, we are very keen on Candidate A: Alexander III. He occupied the See of Peter (although often in exile from Rome) during the great conflict between Frederick Barbarossa and the Church. What we English often fail to realise ... so insular is the way we teach and experience History ... is that in England a small side-show was going on which mirrored the titanic struggle on the mainland of Europe: a conflict between Thomas a Becket and King Henry II. Henry was in contact with Barbarossa; and Thomas enjoyed the confidence of Alexander (to whom he resigned the See of Canterbury so that it could be regranted to him by the Papacy).

In the other corner of the ring, wearing the rossa (Ha!) pants, behold Candidate B: Paschal III. He owed his position to the Emperor.

Each Candidate performed canonisations. Alexander, in 1173, canonised the Archbishop who had been martyred at the instigation of a King. Paschal, in 1165, canonised the Emperor who had founded the Empire (and who, incidentally, was not without suspicion of heresy ... the images business ...). The politics of each act are very plain. Charlemagne was canonised as a theological and hagiographical statement of the supremacy of Monarch over Church.

You will not be surprised to learn that subsequent consensus regards Alexander as the Genuine Pope, and Paschal as an "Antipope". That means, of course, that his pontifical actions are deemed null. So Charlemagne was not, after all, lawfully canonised. But de facto the cultus of Charlemagne continued. And Popes never condemned this. Because of the long standing situation, that most erudite of Pontiffs, Benedict XIV (writing as a private theologian - another parallel between XIV and XVI is their willingness to do this and thus to subject their views to the critical examination of the scholarly world) expressed the view that Charlemagne is to be considered a beatus. And this, mark you, although Paschal's act was part of a heretical denigration of Papal authority.

Am I drawing a theological conclusion from all this? You bet I am. It is the supremacy of the weight of de-fact'-icity in this question of who is - and isn't - a Saint or a Beatus. Even if there are doctrinally iffy questions, and a little matter of schism, included in the mix.

27 January 2010


Some erudite and very readable threads attached to my posts on Laudate and S Eugene. Not always much to do with what I wrote, but ... what the Hell?

24 January 2010

S Eugene

While investigating on my computer the Parisian church of S Eugene, I was intrigued to find that, in the schedule of Masses according to the 1962 Calendar, they list Sunday January 10 as "Epiphanie". I would have expected the Holy Family. I'm sure there is an interesting explanation?

It is splendid that even recalcitrant members of the French episcopate are seeing to it that they are on the right side of the motu proprio. Good for Pope Benedict! And I can certainly see how important it is that when the Review takes place, bishops can't say "Well, we made provision, but after the first few weeks practically nobody turned up". So best wishes to churches like S Eugene.

In the great papal city itself ... Avignon, that is ... where the SSPX congregation welcomed this poor Anglican with great warmth, I gather that the Bishop, whom they described to me as very antipathetic towards the Old Rite, has now made provision for it ... with Masses and liturgical events happening at precisely the same times as in the SSPX church.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this.

Incidentally, it is the Sovereign Pontiff's wish that prayer for Unity should not forget the dialogue with SSPX ... and the Ordinariate Enterprise. Surely this is not simply because Unity is so dear to his heart, but also because we both have the capacity to advance his project for the resacralisation of the Latin Church. I have no idea what goes on at meetings of Deanery Clergy in the RC Church - nor even, in fact, whether Deanery Clergy do meet. But, assuming they do, I wonder what sort of difference it would make to the Atmosphere and to the Group Dynamics to have a couple of Anglicans and a couple of Lefebvreists as part of the mix! Festinet dies.

23 January 2010

The Espousals of our Lady ...

... is a feast that falls today - as users of my ORDO will have noticed (I give a large number of ancient, or indult, or Byzantine, commemorations of our Lady in bold italic on the 'Mass' line). Its texts are to be found in the Missae pro aliquibus locis section of preconciliar missals. The Mass is, essentially, a very ancient one, since it is the Mass Salve which survives on September 8, and was, before Pio Nono, also used on December 8. Only slight adaptation has been necessary: 'Nativitas' where it occurs in prayers has been replaced by 'Desponsatio', and the reference to the Espousal of Mary to Joseph in the Matthaean Infancy narrative has become the Gospel. Commemoration, appropriately, is made of S Joseph.

According to my 1870s Breviary, this feast, as a Greater Double, was to be kept in England. In those days, there was simply an 'England' supplement at the back of each volume of the Breviary. At some time, this was replaced by a calendar which instead made special provision on a diocese-by-diocese basis. I am uncertain when this happened; perhaps it was a spin-off from the beatification of the English Martyrs under Leo XIII and the need to provide for all those beati to have their more local observances. Somebody may be able to tell me. However that may be, this seems to be the point at which the Espousals disappeared from the English RC calendar. I wonder why. Could it have been a victim of Papa Sarto's pruning hook?

Curiously, the post-conciliar Collection of Marian Masses - which gave new expression to a good number of these old special and particular Marian Feasts and Masses - lacks this one. I wonder why. You'd have thought in the post-Vatican II atmosphere, affirmation of the holiness of the Sacrament of Matrimony might have been a popular cause. Perhaps the character of the Holy Marriage of the Mother of God with S Joseph as a celibate marriage embarrassed the gentry who manufactured the Collection.

More interesting is the question of why this feast was originally ordered to be kept in England anyway. It would be lovely to think that it was deemed suitable for a country which, as a matter of undeniable purely historical fact, was the Dowry of our Blessed Lady. So we keep January 23 as the date when the great Mother of God acquired - or was promised? - this particular piece of real estate! Which makes it delightfully appropriate that it comes during the Chair of Unity Octave, so that we can today pray especially for the Return of England to Unity with the Sedes Petri.

What a cunning liturgist Providence is!

21 January 2010

Thanks ..

... to Luca of Genoa for your very kind, and much appreciated, Christmass greetings.

20 January 2010

Alabama and Arkansaw

Sorry. A dreadful mistake, to confuse those two countries. As bad, I suppose, as it would be for a North American to confuse Cork and Cracow simply because they are both in Europe and are mutually alliterative. And I am so crassly ignorant that I don't even know which of the two would be the more irritated to have been confused with the other. And now I'm so befuddled that I can't recall which of the two it was that the late Richard Millhouse Clinton came from. He, by the way, was President of some confederacy of North American political units; as our Public Orator described him here a couple of years ago, "Praeses Civitatum Americanarum Foederatarum, ipse Oxoniensis et perspicax meriti existimator".

It must be dreadful being Public Orator; facing the temotation to describe Clinton as "qui bacillum nicotianum quid sit et unde depromatur optime novit" and not being allowed to do so. Oops: like Dr William King, I'd better add here "Spero me impetrare posse ab eruditorum omnium aequitate, ut nequis, me invito, hanc orationem in sermonem patrium vertat". You know about King, Principal of S Mary's Hall? In the Oxford of 1749 he had just made a rabidly "Jacobite" speech, the deft verbal ambiguities in which, if translated into English, would have been lost (the Whigs were still in a murderous mood). He had spoken at the opening of the Radcliffe Camera before both the University and Jacobite luminaries from far and wide, who included Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, known to his contemporaries and to the whole of Human History as The Great Sir Watkin ... not that Sir Watkin will have been able to read the published version of the speech; he died just in time for Dr King to include a flowery footnote to this greatest of all Welshmen " eheu! qualis vir et quantus interiit! ... quam diligens libertatis publicae propugnator! Reipublicae Parens, ac Patriae Pater .... Generis Humani decus ... Qui enim haud quenquam unum vivus habuit inimicum, nisi qui huic reipublicae et Britanno nomini esset inimicus, homo flagitiosissimus, ferreus et inhumanus ..." BTW, if you think I'm rambling again, do stop me and say so.

But what is the Latin for USA? If the Oxford Orator renders it (vide supra) CAF, as far as the Vatican is concerned, it is SFAS (Status Foederati Americae Septentrionalis). I get this from a decree at the beginning of my fascinating copy of the 1957 "S Antonii" ORDO; the American bishops had asked for the Feast of S Joseph Opificis to be transferred in America from May 1 to the beginning of September. In a decree dripping with disdain (" ... festum civile operariorum vulgo 'Labor Day'" ...) Cardinal Cicognani declined to do this, but did allow an External Solemnity.

SFAS is a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? When the admirable John Luce was the Dublin Orator, he called the USA Confederatio Civitatium Americanarum. At Cambridge, the versatile if wayward Dr Diggle appears to have ducked the question - although he did once refer to the European Union as Communitas Nationum Europaearum foedere Romae icto Consociatarum. But even the Oxford Orator can't always avoid syllabic diarrhoea. In 2008 he had to refer to some woman called Widnall (why Oxford was honouring her nobody explained) as "apud Institutionem Technologiae Massachusettiensium professor".

Not a phrase to try to declaim after stoking up on claret. Some years ago I had a letter from a previous Orator with whom I was collaborating on a piece of Latinity which had some delicate red-wine patterns all over it. But Richard Jenkyns is sterner stuff.

Do I ramble?

19 January 2010


A couple of Anglican priests have suggested the possibility of a teach-in for Anglican priests in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite; probably in Oxford. I recall one or two enquiries some time ago about this; but I don't recall from whom.

I have done no research on where, how, or when in Oxford this could happen; and so I have no idea what the cost might be. Before I do that, I would like to know if there is any wider interest.

It has been suggested that, properly packaged, it might be able to claim CME grants!

Fr P; will you take this as an acknowledgement of your very interesting email?

18 January 2010


Advised by kind readers - and the memsahib still being away - I have been drinking deep in the evenings (how do those papist priests manage this celibacy business?) while contemplating via Sanctamissae some North American High Masses. Absolutely splendid.

Watching those videos which come from the Eternal Word Shrine in Clintonland, I have particularly relished the occasional shots of a hunched, determined, Religious figure behind the grille. I take it that this is the great Mother Angelica herself. Eis polla ete Despoina. She has the same no-prisoners-taken appearance as Reverend Mothers often have in the Patrimony. I recall from my days as a seminarian that whenever there was a crisis in the House, off went the Rector to Fairacres on the floodplain of South Oxford to get his orders. He returned and, to this day, I remember the tremors within us as he began "Mother has said ...", and we waited in trepidation to hear the latest Decrees from the heights of Carmel.

Just one anxiety. Those splendid American churches seem to have on display what I am sure a vexillologist would confirm as being the flag of the united and associated commonwealths and states of North America. Now you don't have to tell me that we Europeans are far from perfect. But at least those of us who come from what Gruppenfuehrer Rumsfeldt disdainfully called Old Europe do not usually have, exposed for veneration in our churches, the flags of our transient, flawed, ephemeral, and reprehensible little nation states. I don't recall seeing the Revolutionary tricoleur in S Nicolas de Chardonnet, or the ensigns of the Piedmontese Usurper in the basilicas of Rome.

But perhaps, some readers will advise me, I should keep my eyes more open.

17 January 2010


The Anglo-Catholic Blog reveals that the TAC has received a reply from Cardinal Levada. But it publishes only short extracts from it embedded into a lot of stuff about what Archbishop Hepworth says he's donig; and does not promise that it is going to publish the integral text of what the Cardinal said.

I wonder what is going on. A bit more openness would be attractive.

The only survivor

This Sunday Collect must be a hardy little beast. It is, I think, the only Sunday Collect to have survived from the pre-Conciliar Missal into the same Sunday of the modern rite. So (except of course for the fact that the current ICEL version, soon to be shredded, disguises the Latin original) it will be used by the 1962 folk and by the Trautpeople - and, of course, by Anglicans who use the Collectarium included in the Book of Common Prayer.

Oh dear. A fly in the woodpile. Our own dear Anglican equivalent of Bugnini, "Bubbles" Stancliffe (perhaps in this ecumenical winter a gracious advance would be to refashion his name as "Buggles Stanini") found its elegant simplicity an offense. So you won't find it in Common Worship.

Here is the Prayer Book translation. The phrase "all the days of our life" slightly obscures the original "nostris temporibus" - "to our times". I suspect that the original alludes to the disorders of the declining Roman Empire; come to think of it, it would have fitted equally well the days when Cranmer and his gruesome cronies were sending their foreign mercenaries to slaughter the Anglican Catholic peasantry of England.

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth: mercifully hear the supplications of thy people; and grant us thy peace all the days of our life.

15 January 2010

Old versus New

Truth to tell, I felt that there was a certain elegance in the way the Liturgia Horarum followed up the Epiphany theme ... the Manifestation of the Divine Wisdom ... by providing at the beginning of this week lections from the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach - although it is always irritating to get, so early in the volume as the Monday Office of Readings, an example of one of its most aggravating pieces of grammatical illiteracy. This is the determination to print 'utraque' as if it were always feminine ablative singular (utraque) even when it is manifestly neuter plural or feminine nominative singular (utraque). Interestingly, the person who proof-read Volume 1 did know the difference. Those responsible for the other three volumes should have been birched more often at their preparatory schools. Perhaps this means that those who work as 'latinists' in the Roman dikasteries never went to prep schools. Need I say more. (Actually, I never went to one either.)

If there is eventually to be a convergence between the two 'Forms' of the Roman Calendar, I would like to put in a word for the Baptism on the first Sunday after Epiphany. It is appropriate ... as well as ecumenical ... to give prominence to all three traditional themes of Epiphany; in other words, to the Baptism and to the Wedding at Cana as well as to the Magi. Indeed, taking up Byzantine aspects, I would be glad to see the dogma of Theotokos set before the Sunday congregations right after Christmass; the old Mass for January 1 could be used also on the Sunday after Christmass in places where the comites Christi - Ss Stephen, John, and Innocents - are displaced from Sunday Mass. As for the Holy Family (a bit schmalzy anyway?) and the Holy Name, they clutter the season conceptually; could they not be put in a revived Missae pro aliquibus locis ex indulto Apostolico, and placed in one of the Green seasons?

And, of course, the wonderful pericope of the Wedding at Cana needs urgently to be restored to next Sunday in all three of the Cycles of the post-conciliar lectionary.

14 January 2010

Long Live Television

As a paedagogue - it is a glib profession - I used glibly to ridicule 'mongrel' words, partly Greek (for example) and partly Latin. I remember pontificating to my IV Latin Set 1 (the only Lower School teaching I condescended to do in my grander latter decades) on the iniquities of "Television". "It should", I cheerfully asserted, "have been either Proculvision or Teleopsis". (Quick as a whatsit, a perky little Hebrew chappie from the ghettoes of Hove raised his hand: "Father, I shall always say Proculopsis". Needless to say, three years later he was snaffled up by Balliol.) "Homophobia", of course, had me in paroxysms of fury.

Now I've got my comeuppance. I've just been browsing, in the Classics department of Blackwell's, through a new book on the Greek of the Papyri. One of the collected papers surveys mixed-race words; and, apparently, there were an awful lot of them. hyponotarios; vexillophoros; protopatrikios; architabullarios; you name it. A sugkellios was apparently a monk who shared your cella -; that sounds like a slanggy short-cut, even nearly two millennia later, doesn't it? And there were plenty of Latin words in composition with with the Greek apo-, meaning an ex-. So I suppose I should start describing myself as an apopaidagogos. Perhaps even apoanglicanus.

A perennial disease of language is to forget that some word already embraces a particular notion and to add that notion anew and superfluously, thereby creating a dittography in sense (e.g. people forget that 'return' means 'go back' and so they add another lexical ingredient to convey the sense of 'back' and say 'he returned back to London'; or they 'reiterate again'). We get that in the papyri in coinages like sugkollegas.

Perhaps the people who did the Vatican Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis should have been more sympathetic towards the possibility of this sort of flexibility. I find it a diappointing book; too often it provides, not a deft one-word coinage but a cumbersome periphrasis ("machina quae does-something-or-other"). Just as, I feel, it is misguided for those concerned with the wordbag of 'Celtic' languages to feel they have to coin authentically 'Celtic' terms instead of just going-with-the-flow and adjusting appropriately the orthography of 'international' neologisms. That is what Middle Cornish unashamedly did, as anyone who peruses the Ordinalia or the Tregear Homilies will witness.

Vivat igitur Televisio.

13 January 2010


Are there any reasons of principle why you couldn't have a church in which a non-communicating Mass was celebrated by an Ordinariate priest; and then, after Mass, Communion was given from the two different tabernacles by two different priests to two ecclesially separated congregations, one belonging to the Ordinariate and one to the Church of England?

More on Global Warming

In the Cardinal College Cowfield (alliterative at Oxford, aren't we) someone has done some rather good sculpted figures sitting on one of the seats. A man sitting beside a glacial mermaid.

Thank Goodness, I thought, I hadn't got any grandchildren with me. Just think of those insistent, clamant little voices "Grandpapa, make us up a story about it".

Views across the Cowfield to an incredibly ugly modern building which the Eminent Founder would not have approved of, called, I am told, the "Meadow Building". It is in a sort of megabastard Venetian Gothic style. The only time I have ever seen it looking like anything other than an out-of-place eyesore was a couple of years ago when the floodwaters were very becomingly lapping against it. Interestingly, we do have an authentic gondola in Oxford; it lives beside Folly Bridge on the pontoon maintained by the rather good new Lebanese Restaurant there. Sorry. I ramble.

Not much evidence, in the subzero Globally Warmed temperatures, of undergraduates practising for Torpids: just a Women's Eight from Exeter College.

I wonder why women are always so much keener than men at rowing on freezing days. Perhaps it's their gorgeous subcutaneous fat. Sorry. I'm still rambling.


I sometimes - particularly when Pam is away visiting her rather poorly Mother - feel like relaxing in the evening with a bottle of wine and an EF High Mass on my computer screen. I don't like those old grainy black-and-white videos with a commentator's voice superimposed; and I don't like the things which are divided up into endless sections of four or five minutes each, so that I have to keep hitting buttons on my computer to get continuity.

The only possibilities I enjoy at the moment are that Sacred Heart High Mass from Flavigny ... but the young men do seen a trifle ... er ... excessively kempt. And there is the Last Sunday after Pentecost Sung Mass from the Anglican Chaplaincy in Paris, S Nicolas de Chardonnet, which now has to be accessed via the Wikipedia article on the church concerned.

Is there anything else?

11 January 2010

Yet more on Sex

I. Homophobia

I write with apprehension; because Sex is always embarassing to write about. What does the writer reveal about himself? What does this piece he's written say about me? Is he getting directly at my sexuality here? Do I applaud him or condemn him?

But there is no getting away from the fact that Sex is one of the big new dividing points opening up between Christians (and by no means always solely between denominations). And between Christianity and the World. Not the least of the tragedy is that it is less easy to talk joyfully and affirmatively about God's gift of sexuality than one would like it to be.

I wrote a little while ago about Masturbation And All That. May I recall here the main point I was getting at: the fact that the World and its Spirit, Zeitgeist, have decided that this little practice is a matter of indifference and that people who carry on about it must have some very strange hang-ups. But it is 'Tradition' that the practice is "disordered". And that's not the only thing that is, according to the Tradition, disordered. The same split has opened up with regard to Fornication ... particularly in that form of it which is called Living Together Without Being Married. The two-millennia old Tradition of the Church unambiguously condemns it. But ... And what about the 'Marriage' of divorcees? It is condemned by the most explicit words of Christ, and yet has become mainstream among non-RCs - so much so that when I went to a New Incumbents' Lunch with the Archdeacon soon after I arrived in Oxford, I was interested to find that much of the conversation, between a couple of women 'priests', was about how embarassing and intrusive it is when the Bishop tries to check up on the circumstances of the break-up of one marriage before consenting to a clergygirl's next prospective coupling (lovely word from the 1549 Marriage Service, yes?).

And what about Humanae Vitae? As I point out below in Part II, this Encyclical proclaimed, in effect, that the sort of sexual culture lived by a great proportion of First World married people is disordered and unnatural.

Against this background, it is unsurprising that an integral expression of the Tradition is also less than benign towards genitally enacted homosexual relationships. Since pretty well every common Western form of heterosexual lifestyle ends up surrounded by question marks, it would be remarkable if the homosexual lifestyle escaped unmentioned.

There is a philologically nasty coinage "homophobia". Where I do think it has justification is when it is applied to the sort of middle-of-the-road 'moderate' Christian attitude in which Homosexuality is pretty well the only life-style which does attract criticism. For example, I wonder what is going on if a denomination has few problems with clergy who are remarried divorcees but is fussy about clergy in civil partnerships. In purely worldly terms, you might have thought that people would say "Heterosexuals have had the chance of getting married, homosexuals have not; so it's appropriate to be a bit more understanding of the problems of the latter than of those of the former"; but I haven't heard followers of GAFCON saying that. I would sympathise very much more with the Christian Superintendent Registrar who was sacked because her conscience did not allow her to solemnise Civil Partnerships, if she had not (I presume) spent the best years of her life cheerfully 'marrying' divorcees.

And - to move outside our First World culture - I do not desire to discharge unsubstantiated insults when I ask whether African Evangelicals with very strong views on homosexuality are quite so relentlessly hardline when it comes to polygamy. Is that going to attract heavy, even lethal, penal sanctions in Uganda? If not, why not? And what about males who have conducted themselves promiscuously and then infected their wives with AIDS? String them up?

What am I saying? That there is a distinct and coherent package of Traditional Christian doctrine about sexuality which accords ill with the mores which many Christians (especially but not only in the West), whatever their sexual orientation, absorb from the World and live out. Accepting that traditional package integrally is one thing; dumping some of the Don'ts (so that I and my sexuality are left comfortably uncondemned), while keeping the rest of the Don'ts in place (so as to have the luxury of condemning others), is unpleasantly self-righteous and is, I suspect, the sort of "Judging" of which the Lord spoke rather sternly.

Oh, and while we are talking about Judging: I do feel uneasy about a society which not only condemns pedophiles but works itself up into a great hysterical froth about them so that lynch mobs roam the streets, while regarding every other conceivable (bad choice of word, that) sexual practice (as long as consensual) as meriting Affirmation in the intersts of Diversity.

Oh dear ... with trepidation I await proof that I will have offended and enraged at least three diametrically opposed lots of people for diametrically opposed reasons.

II. Humanae vitae

Since the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, there has been some discussion in the media and on the Internet about the acceptability or otherwise, to Anglicans who might or might not wish to avail themselves of its provisions, of the teaching of the Roman Magisterium about artificial contraception. I would like to recall some facts which are sometimes forgotten.
(1) Dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the RC Church in ARCIC was explicitly based on "The common ancient traditions".
(2) Lambeth VI (1920) declared "We utter an emphatic warning against the use of unnatural means for the avoidance of conception, together with the grave dangers - physical, moral, and religious, thereby incurred ... In opposition to the teaching which, under the name of science and religion, encourages married people in the deliberate cultivation of sexual union as an end in itself, we steadfastly uphold what must always be regarded as the governing considerations of Christian marriage. One is the primary purpose for which marriage exists, namely the continuation of the race through the gift and heritage of children; the other is the paramount importance in married life of deliberate and thoughtful self-control".
(3) Even Lambeth VII, while allowing the possibility of hard cases, did not displace this as the norm.
(4) In the first edition of his influential book The Orthodox Church (1963), Timothy Ware simply wrote: "Artificial methods of birth control are forbidden in the Orthodox Church".

I do not think there is any doubt about what the One Great and Ancient Common Tradition teaches in this matter. The frequent suggestion that Humanae Vitae represents some sort of specifically Roman awkwardness is either deceitful misinformation or culpable ignorance. And furthermore:-

(5) It is true that the Commission set up to consider this matter by Paul VI came to a majority decision which was set aside by the Pontiff when he came to compose his Encyclical. But that 'Majority' decision was based on the assumption that the use of condoms and occlusive pessaries should continue to be excluded as totally immoral, but that the new technology of the Pill created a novel ethical situation. It was argued that, since the structure of the sexual act itself was not disordered by this technology, it did not fall under the same condemnation. Therefore it could be used by married people who were using their sexuality in a philoprogenitive way, but wished responsibly to 'Plan their Families'. (In fact, of course, this is exactly what did not happen; the Pill facilitated a great explosion of promiscuity - very soon, some English Public School doctors were putting all VI form girls on the Pill as a matter of routine).

This cultural orthodoxy was, entertainingly, the cause of its own rapid demise and of the reinstatement of the condom in the esteem of the fashionable. The promiscuity encouraged by the Pill resulted in an enormous increase in Venereal Diseases. The ethical gurus of secular sexual mores suddenly remembered that the condom could plausibly be represented as affording some protection against VD. Since their unspoken agenda is, always, at all costs, to encourage promiscuity, the poor old Pill came under something of a shadow while, now, Condom and Abortion form the twin majestic totems of our sexually incontinent cultural Establishment. Currently the Roman Pontiff is widely criticised for a negative approach to condoms (he is "deliberately murdering" millions of Africans); the Pill rarely now gets a mention.

My point is that, had Paul VI gone along with the majority view of his Commission in maintaining the 'ban' on condoms while embracing (a lovely picture) the Pill, and if his successors had maintained such a decision, the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church would still be in the position of being traduced and vilified because of its lack of enthusiasm for the now applauded condom.

The only way of being sure that you avoid the a fate of being condemned by our protean Zeitgeist is by a fixed policy of retreating promptly in the face of every latest advance in the thinking of the pornocrats who govern Western Public Opinion. Which is what PECUSA very competently does. (I'm sorry we never hear about PECUSA nowadays. It always sounded to me delightfully like peccousa, which would be a late-antique grecising feminine participle of a Latin verb.)

It seems to me that one has to decide between the Magisterium of Paul VI and that of Ms Jefferts Schori. It seems to me logically unfair to criticise either of these Pontiffs except from the viewpoint of the other. Condemning either one of them from the sort of middle-of-the-Anglican-road position taken, as I understand it, by some admirers of GAFCON and by followers of Bishop Duncan and by some in what I believe is called the Continuum, is pure crass ... sorry, I meant purely crass. Only an adverb can modify an adjective.

Canonical query

If an Orthodox cleric in major orders contracts matrimony, do he and his wife slide comfortably into ther status of Lay Orthodox In Good Standing; or are they beyond the pale?

10 January 2010

Busy on Sex

I'm sorry; I in the process of writing a long post for tomorrow, on Sex, Homosexuality, Pedophilia, and Anglicans apprehensions that the Apostolic Constitution would commit them to Popish rules on Contraception. Forgive me for not providing a substantive piece today. And prepare - if you read this Blog - for a long, varied, and offensive piece tomorrow.

9 January 2010


In a few weeks I plan a flying visit, so to speak, to North America; I who who have never hitherto set foot outside what that Donald von Rumsfeldt referred to as Old Europe.

Do I need a visa? Do I have to jump through any hoops apart from having a passport and a ticket?

Holy Houses

I refer to my post of 1 December about Walsingham and Glastonbury. See now a NLM article on baroque South-German examples at Grussau and Schonenberg.

My instinct is that the fashion began in the mid-fifteenth century. Has anybody ever done any work on this?

8 January 2010

Bishop Leonard: the obituaries

At last: a good perceptive obituary in the Times by someone who knows what he's (she's?*) talking about. The Grauniad was worst; it contrived to sneer at everything Bishop Graham stood for, and assured the gullible bigots who read that most dogmatically intolerant of newspapers that people like Bishop Leonard 'distrust' historical and theological research.

Read the Times obituary. You'll get the spirit of the man and of his greatness.


*I would have preferred to write 'they're'. I feel this is a helpful usage when what one wants to emphasise is 'he - but ... ah, well, good chance it might have been a female'. But last time I did this, readers rebuked me. I'm a pedant myself, but are there to be no useful developments grammatically?

The Psalter

S Gregory the Great once refused to consecrate a man to the episcopate because of a certain inadequacy on the candidate's part; indeed, the same specific inadequacy would prevent the great S Gennadius Patriarch of Constantinople from ordaining any clerk. Such pontifical intransigence received conciliar endorsement: from Nicea II, not to mention Toledo VIII (653) and Oviedo (1050).

The inadequacy alleged? Not being able to repeat the entire Psalter by heart. And evidence survives, from throughout the first Christian millennium, from Palestine in the East (where S Jerome says that the common people sang them 'like pop songs' as they went about their labours) to the 'Celtic' West (S Patrick recited the Psalter daily), among all Christian classes, of the popularity of the Psalter and the ubiquity of its use both within and outside the Liturgy.

We are amazed at such feats of memory; and it is very useful for us all - but particularly academics, who can be so very narrow-minded - to recall the capacity of the memory in societies basically oral (this point pretty well subverts most of the 'New Testament Scholarship' of the twentieth century, from the Great Synoptic Non-Problem onwards). But I wish to make different points.

This use of the Psalter drives home the importance in the Christian life of being soaked, saturated in texts, so that they are part of one's being. That is why the cheerful twentieth century passion for 'Liturgical Reform', of the most radical kind, was so misplaced. And liturgical scholars need to be rather quicker at spotting echoes of the psalms in euchological texts. It is only in my seventh decade that I have become really aware how very many of the collects in the Latin Sacramentaries have a verse from a psalm as their starting-point.

But - most important of all - we need to recover a sense of the Christological meaning that Tradition sees in so many psalms*. They are not dusty old Jewish texts whose prominence in traditional worship is an embarrassment**. In some, we speak of Christ or to Him; in others, Christ Himself prays to the Father and we are incorporated into His Prayer.


*It is notorious that the first psalm in the book is taken Christologically by the Tradition; which is why modern 'translations' which obscure this are so reprehensible. 'Blessed is the Man' says the Hebrew, using the word which refers to the masculine human (ish). But the heretics render 'Blessed are they'. Curiously, when it is a matter of the Foolish Man saying in his heart that there is no God, heretical 'translators' sometimes lose their enthusiasm for gender-free language ... even though in this case there is no Hebrew justification for 'man'!
**There is a well-worn story of a Tractarian Vicar explaining to a recalcitrant yokel that the Psalter was the Early Church's Hymn Book, to be told that this was a very fine reason why we should be so glad of the demise of the Early Church.

7 January 2010


Visually, a lovely Epiphany at S Thomas's. Heavy falls of Global Warming overnight left the church and churchyard looking magical. But the drifts did rather reduce the numbers in the 12.30 congregation. However, it was nice to be told by one worshipper what a pleasure it had been to walk down the towpath to such a church for such a rite (we were Latin EF).

Then today Pam and I bashed the Climate Change off the yew beside the porch so that we could remove the Christmass decorations. On top of the porch was an almost perfectly-formed ball of snow perching above the heraldic bearings of my distinguished predecessor Robert ('Melancholy') Burton (I have a lot of distinguished predecessors; students of Aristophanic satire will know what I mean when I say that my own name at the end of the list sounds like a piece of Terminal Bathos).

A Happy Christmass to those keeping Christmass according to the directions of the Council of Nicea.*


*yes, I know this is an obscure question.

5 January 2010

Num egemus Anglicanorum coetibus?

With regard to Anglicanorum coetibus, the elephant-in-the-room ... my real reason for wanting unity with the Holy See ... now, this is totally confidential; just within these four walls ... is that I have long been dead envious of Proper Churches (like that one opposite the Italian restaurant in Kensington, for example) which are full of all those minute but marvellously devout Philippino ladies in mantillas running round and beaming up at one one.

After my more than two years here, S Thomas's was visited this morning by my first Philippino lady. As she put it, "It is just the same!" (I didn't ask her "Same as what?")

Now, if she were to multiply into a couple of dozen of the same (I'm not a greedy man), would I still need coetus of Anglicani? Wouldn't a Philippino Patrimony be perfectly adequate?

4 January 2010


I feel that some of the loveliest words in the Wedding Service are at the end of the Nuptial Blessing, where the Priest prays that the couple may see their children's children even unto the third and fourth generation, and come to the longed-for old age. One of the deceptions of the Zeitgeist is the pretence that Old Age is an abnormality to be feared (cover up those wrinkles; you know you're worth it). The Christian Tradition, rooted in some glorious texts from the Hebrew Scriptures, is that the Old Age is - just as much as the Youff and the Prime (such as yours, Miss Jean Brodie) - part of the God-given wholeness of human life. And that the sexual relationship is no more only the romance of the young (which they are expected ever to struggle to recapture and to rekindle) than it is the settled and comfortable oneness of the old. Ad optatam perveniant senectutem.

That was the prayer of all right-thinking people in Oxford (and, indeed, of many from much further afield) who flocked, last Saturday, to the Wedding of the Year: of Alexandra Vinall and Daniel Lloyd. We homed in on the seminary chapel at S Stephen's House ... only that morning I'd had coffee with a seminarian from the North American College at Rome (Hello, Michael, and Hello, Joshua), who had been distinctly intrigued by the idea of Seminary Weddings ... for a celebration of a very family event; the family being that within the Staggers-Pusey-Ebbsfleet triangle; with Bishop Andrew solemnising the Wedding and then presiding from the Throne as Dr Baker sang the Mass and bestowed the Nuptial Blessing, with Dr Ward in his stall in choir wearing his splendid new furs. Alex (Wadham College) looked perfectly exquisite; Daniel (Merton College) looked as pleased as punch: as well he might. A couple that knew their minds: Alex did include the O-word in her vows - remarkable how, three generations ago, girls tried to show their independence by refusing to 'obey', while now one can show one's independence of shallow faddery by saying this lovely four-letter word.

And they knew their minds theologically; the booklet rather resembled the elegant productions of the Office for Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, with explanatory prefaces as part of the Church's mission of teaching. So the unaware will have learned that "the culmination of this service is, in many ways, not the marriage itself." In the first millennium, I believe, 'marriage' consisted in the consent of the couple expressed in their coming together in the assembly of Christ's Body to receive together the Sacrament of Christ's Body; the Nuptial Mass is the real and ancient heart of Christian wedding. Of course, both bride and groom are Ministers of the Sacrament; but it always seems to me that the Essential Minister of Marriage is the Bride, who is the subject of the solemn and ancient Nuptial Blessing ... hubby only getting a look-in at the end. Marriage is the Woman's Sacrament. I found it very moving that the Groom spent his time awaiting Her arrival in prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

And the music and the art demonstrated the same firm control: Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Communio were in Latin from the Old Roman Rite and the Mass setting was by Tomas Luis de Victoria. Indeed, that exciting cultural moment in the mid-sixteenth century when Spain led a grand European Union was at the heart of the Spirit of the Celebration. Christopher de Morales provided the setting of the Communio, and William Byrd's Sing joyfully (a gorgeous 'Blow the trumpet' passage) occupied the signing of the register. All three of these were alive between 1548 and 1553, as was the painter of the picture on the cover of the book, The wedding at Cana: Marten de Vos, who did so much, artistically, to put right the damage the 'Reformation' had done in the Spanish Netherlands. His bustle, human interest, and colour seem to bridge the divide between Netherlandish art and the Venice of Veronese.

All in all, a Wedding that expressed so much of what we mean by the 'Anglican Patrimony'. There seemed to be some talk that, the next morning, the Happy Couple might be at Mass in some church in Paris called S Nicolas de Chardonnet. I hope I've got the name right. Diocese of Gibraltar and Europe that would be, I s'pose.

3 January 2010

Ecumenism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Fr Aidan Nichols, in an address to Forward in Faith in 2002, spoke of the Anglican Establishment ("The ecumenical conversations between this Anglicanism and the Catholic Church will inevitably be long and arduous") and added:
" There is another Anglicanism, more restricted in size but at the same time more compact and coherent in doctrinal outlook and sacramental practice. ... This is an Anglicanism which looks to pre-Reformation Christendom, to the apostolic See of the West and, further afield, to those of the East. It is an Anglicanism that has already received much from the Latin Catholic inheritance, liturgically and otherwise. It is an Anglicanism too that has often nurtured the hope of restoring union with the patriarchal church of the West from which it was sundered.

"This, I might add, should be on the understanding that the church of Peter and Paul does not wish the West to breathe without the East, without that 'other lung' in the metaphor of the Dominican ecclesiologist Yves Congar. 'The other lung' is a phrase which [Pope John Paul II] often repeated, and indeed turned into action, not least in the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, much of which, as has been said, reads as if written in Constantinople. With this other Anglicanism the ecumenical journey is, by any reasonable assessment, shorter and more secure".

Perhaps the idea of the CCC as the doctrinal standards of the Ordinariates arose from a desire to pay tribute to the affection Anglican Catholics have always had for the East. That strictly papalist figure Fr Fynes Clinton loved hobnobbing with Orientals. And do you remember all those 1930s photographs of that equally hard-line papalist, Fr Hope Patten, leading Russian hierarchs into the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham to celebrate an Akathist before the (Russian copy of the) Ikon of our Lady Portaitissa ton Iberon?

Affection for, and a passion to learn from, Byzantine and other Eastern forms of the One Great Tradition, is not something which is extrinsic to our identity. Originally, it came from a slightly questionable motive: a polemical desire to use Orthodoxy as a stick to beat Rome (and there are still one or two endearing old dinosaurs around who live in that time-warp). But it has long since bedded down as a wholesome and most fertile part of our Patrimony. One of my first visits when I go to Walsingham is up the stairs on the right to the parekklesia of our Lady Zoodochos Pege. And I have more homiliae photocopied from the S Gregory Palamas volume of PG than from any other.

2 January 2010

No plagiarism

I would love to be able to describe to you how I walked up the Thames with Filia nata Tertia yesterday, preceded by an almost tame kingfisher, its turquoise and orange incandescent in the brilliant sunshine. And about how, when we got to the Trout, a peacock walked around our table as I had an al fresco Guinness.

But you would just think that I was trying to ape the great Father Zed.

Although, come to think of it, he doesn't write much about daughters.