28 February 2010

A friend asks ...

... about the OF Offertory Prayers.

The Ordo Missae of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (23 ff) says that the two "Blessed are you ..." formulae are to be said "submissa voce" - with lowered voice (the earlier edition had said "secreto"). It adds that if there is no singing at the Offertory, the priest may (not must) utter them with a raised voice. If he does that, the Congregation may (not should) reply "Blessed be God ... ". In other words, there is NEVER an obligation to say these words loudly and there is never an obligation for the people to make a response..

The other formulae are to be said "secreto"; in other words they may never be said to be heard by the congregation whether or not there is singing. The fact that some clergy say them aloud is either out of ignorance or a well-meaning feeling that the people should not be deprived of these important words. In fact, they are not important words but merely designed to keep the celebrant recollected.

Deep down, the problem is that for very many Western clergy the idea that the Liturgy is an objective sacrificial action has been totally lost and replaced by the idea - fostered by Mass versus populum - that it is a performance for the edification of the people.

In the General Instruction of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (141 ff) the "Blessed are you" formulae are ordered to be said "secreto"; which is not precisely the same as the "submissa voce" of the Ordo Missae. This is all the more striking in that the corresponding paragraph of the previous edition of the GI says neither. And the Third Edition of the GI adds that they are not to be said aloud if there is organ playing. There are here slight and curious inconsistencies.

However this may be, it is true that in each edition and in both the Ordo Missae and the General Instruction, the priest is NEVER obliged to say these prayers loudly and is NOT ALLOWED to do so when there is any sort of music. He certainly is not allowed - as some clergy do - to wait until the music is over so that he can then deliver them audibly!

The prayers at the Commixture and before the Priest's Communion are also ordered to be said "secreto".

Bishop Peter Elliot's Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite comments: "When there is no singing, the celebrant may still choose to say these prayers quietly. The 'silent' option is mentioned first in the missal".

27 February 2010

A reader asks ...

... for whom/what are we praying when we say the Leonine Prayers nowadays?

26 February 2010

Post Scriptum

Some jolly contributions in the Iocositas Episcopalis thread. And Joshua is still unloading good stuff in re Christi Sacerdotis.

You may have noticed that I gave another run to one of my most boring hobby-horses, errors and misprints in Latin liturgical texts, with a prophesy that new texts for Christus Sacerdos would be full of them. Joshua then provided the already current Spanish texts. I have not been through them with a fine toothcomb, but I did look at the Collect. Where (see earlier post) I was mystified by ex eius memoriale participatione. I have now peeped into the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, where the same collect is the collect of the Votive. It is clear that the Spanish text is a howler: it should read ex eius memorialis participatione.

I'm unsure whether to be gleeful after being proved right so expeditiously, or saddened that the Holy See can't bring itself to employ competent Latinists. What on earth do they think the Faithful pay their Peter's Pence for?

I wonder if those who are keenest on saying the black precisely and doing the red exactly take the view that one is obliged to pray ungrammatical and incomprehensible gibberish when it 'imposed' by 'authority'.

Those interested should read the thread attached to my post of November 13 2009. The Editio Typica of the 1962 Missal was dated June; S Joseph entered the Canon in December. So "Authentic 1962" has no S Joseph.

There seems to be quite a lot of disobedience of the strict rule of the Church here. All the more distressing because the Canon is so sacrosanct.

Despite the points made by Pastor in Valle, I am not completely convinced that it really matters ...

Recently, the Shepherd in the Adur Valley, ...

... one of the most elegant and kindly operators in Blogland, explained that Anglicans in an Ordinariate would have to be more liturgically disciplined. He has a point; but I think he is being less than fair to the great majority of English Anglican Catholic Clergy. It is simply because they have felt that they should, as good Catholics, obey the edicts of the Holy See precisely and to the letter that nearly all of them use the dreadful Old ICEL version of Dr Bugnini's grotesque rite. And that is why snide papists are now making unpleasant cracks about how we don't actually have a Patrimony. A 'can't win' situation: obey the rules and you haven't got a Patrimony; disregard them, and you are accused of individualistic anarchy.

I am unlike most such Anglo-Catholics. The reason for this is that, although a Papalist, I never desired to to be in an ecclesial ghetto. My first parish was Prayer Book and surplice and stole, with Mattins for the brigadiers and stockbrokers at 11.00. My succeeding ministries were all in fairly mainstream C of E churches where I could not have got away with just dumping on them the rite imposed by Rome. In every case the only option was a gradual and organic evolution into something better. This is an approach which has a very respectable history among Catholic Anglicans from the 1840s down to 1970. And even when I came to S Thomas's a couple of years ago, I found that the priest who had cared for it during the long interregnum had, very shortly before I arrived, had splendid little books printed giving the rather peculiar combination of Cranmer, Common Worship, and Old ICEL which he had evolved to suit his own taste. The congregation was minute, and I did not want to scare away the few I had, so I proceeded gently. We have now moved on to something a little less idiosyncratic - at least I always use the Canon Romanus - although the rite remains rather sui generis; not least because, at first, I did not want to revise it without taking account of the then imminent New ICEL texts; and secondly, because I now wish to take account of what the Ordinariate comes up with.

In this rather betwixt and between time, it is true that I have also naughtily indulged myself the use of the 1939 EF Roman Rite. This does not mean that, should I happily find my position canonically regularised, I would decline to use the 1962 rite. But I confess that I will rather miss some of the things that disappeared during the protoBugnini period late in the Pontificate of Papa Pacelli.

Some practical points:
(1) The question of Calendar must be sorted out. Utraquism is bound to be a long term phenomenon, and sensible provision must be made for Utraquist churches. Anecdotally ... there are RC clergy who do use the EF with the OF calendar. I know Pastor wouldn't do something so wicked ... any more than you would catch him toying with the Sarum Rite ...
(2) Perhaps Pastor, given the connections that he has, could find out for me definitively whether I should be naming S Joseph in the EF 1962 Canon; and whether the Third Confiteor is still mandatory, abolished, or optional. Then I shall be at least better placed to know exactly what it is that I doing right or wrong.
(3) On the 25th of February Fr Zed did a post, full of gung-ho zest, in which he criticised the OF rubrics which prescribe that, at the OF Mass, servers and clergy genuflect towards the Tabernacle only at the start and the end of Mass. He said that, of course, it was his inflexible rule that people should Do the Red ... and then added "but ...". He also asserted his belief that ignoring these rubrics was not even a venial sin. Did Pastor whack Fr Zed for this? And ... gracious me ... Fr Zed is the Great High Priest of complete rubrical obedience!

Isn't that concept in its absolute form getting just a tiny bit frayed round the edges as both the EF movement and the Reform of the Reform gain in confidence? When Fr Schmidt was in London a year or two ago, he spoke in a way that made me rather wonder if he was quite squeaky clean when it came to not using the old and abolished Commemorationes de Tempore. And I believe that Lawrence Hemming uses an Urban VIII Breviary for his Office. Does this, in Pastor's view, fulfill the obligation? Papa Sarto, in promulgating his new distribution of the Psalter, categorically stated that it did not.

O'Connell, writing in the early 1940s, is fairly relaxed about some usages praeter and even contra legem, and cites SRC decrees in his support ("In some cases, the SRC has even ordered usages contra legem to be followed"). Some people ... like Fr Zed ... have been hammering home the concept of total obedience to the rubrics; and understandably so, because this is the only way in which the liberals can be restrained in the dark aftermath of Bugnini. But anybody who has studied the matter knows that rubrics have never really been accorded quite such a status: certainly not in the centuries before the invention of printing; and not even entirely in the more centralising times since.

Oh, and do SSPX clergy wear birettas on the way to the altar?

25 February 2010

Christus Sacerdos

Joshua has very kindly put into the New Solemnities thread an Office of Christus Sacerdos. Perhaps someone could indicate where it comes from; I don't think it comes from a Liturgia Horarum which I possess. One wonders who composed the hymns; I invite comments on their quality.

In the Collect, I wonder if periti would like to comment on the meaning of the phrase ex eius memoriale participatione; and on whether the final phrase has a valid cursus.

Iocositas Episcopalis. Forged passports

(1) I don't know why there is all this glee about a German Protestant Bishopess having a noggin or two. Leave the poor thing alone, that's what I say. How is it funny?

Now the little episode of Tom Butler "Bishop of Southwark", the Irish Embassy party, the toys in the car, and the episcopal amnesia ... that had real style and quality to it. You get a better class of buffoon among Mirfield apostates.

(2) This matter of Mossad cloning British, Irish and French passports in their perfectly spiffing Dubai murder plot ... why didn't they forge US passports? Surely there are many more American passport-holders domiciled in Israel than there are Old Europeans? Will Hammas keep the fun going by cloning Yankie passports in a plot to assassinate a "war criminal" or two in Israel? Fingers crossed.

Thank goodness there are still some people around in the world who don't take this boring old Rule-of-Law business too seriously.

New Solemnities?

Well, I dunno. Cardinal Canizares, we are told, is to petition the Holy Father to extend the Feast Of Our Lord, Priest, from the Dominions of His Most Catholic Majesty to the Universal Church. Thursday after Pentecost, where it will interfere with the Octave (why couldn't it precede Pentecost? On the Octave day of the Ascension it would rather elegantly take up the Biblical theme of Christ, Ascended, sending down his charismata upon his Church. I rather like Pentecost Thursday with its jolly and exuberant propers on the Holy Spirit and his power in the Church's mission). And it will be represent a bit more silting up of the Calendar.

My own feeling is that we could do, first, with the recovery of things lost in the Bugninizeit. Such as the Precious Blood. And such as our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces (which was really on a roll to take over May 31 in the Universal Church until Pius XII meddled). And the old Easter feasts of the Holy Cross and S Joseph. And, for that matter, the Octave of Pentecost! But perhaps we do need a reassertion of the importance of the Sacred Priesthood. Which makes me hope that the current post-Bugnini votive won't be the basis of the new propers, because it doesn't do that terribly well. If this has to happen, I would prefer that some literate chappie went through the early Roman Sacramentaries ... where there are appropriate euchological materials.

I presume the Cardinal knows that the Holy Father will agree ... if he didn't, that in itself would be interesting! And it will be diverting to see whether propers are issued in both the EF and OF. Irritating, of course, that Rome always come up with initiatives just when the ORDO is nearly ready for the printers.

If I were a Bookie, I would now open a Book on how many misprints and grammatical errors there will be in the Notitae publication of the new CDW Latin texts. If anyone wants an informed guess, based upon my years of experience, ... six.

24 February 2010


A few days ago, I heard some delightfully old-fashioned language on the Home Service. A gentleman describing himself as "the Bishop of Leicester" was talking about Unity!!! Just as people like him used to back in the 1960s!! It was all there: the importance of Unity for Mission; the Prayer of the Lord for Unity (Anglican bishops get quite fundamentalist about the Gospels containing the Lord's ipsissima verba when it suits them ... less so when it doesn't) ...

"Gracious!" I thought, putting down my piece of toast laden with melitzanosalata from that nice Greek Deli up Walton Street (it was a little after 8.30 and I was tucking into brekker after my 7.45 EF Mass). "The buggers have changed their minds! They want Unity after all! They're going to call Walter Kasper back and tell him, in floods of tears, that, despite everything, they long for his kisses and are heeding his call not to go further down the path of wilful and heretical divergence!"

Er ... No. "Leicester" was in conversation with a Methodist gentleman, and his rhetoric was just part of the longstanding campaign - really, when you think about it, rather like the activity of Somali pirates - of the Anglican Establishment to kidnap the Methodists' buoyant and smartly painted property portfolio and Pension Fund before HMS Ecclesia Anglicana sinks finally beneath its burdens of debt and bureaucratic overspending. (Someone should warn the Methodists that Anglican bishops may sound like gentle and respectful wooers, but it's important for a girl to watch where they put their hands.)

How could I have been so naive?

23 February 2010

Utraquism once more

Calendars continue to trouble me in this little utraquist church iuxta ferriviam Oxoniensium. I know that PCED has said we have to use the EF calendar with the EF and the OF calendar withthe OF. So this morning I included in my EF Mass commem and Last Gospel of the Vigil of S Matthias. But tomorrow, when the Mass is OF (in our own S Thomas's version of the OF in Cranmer's English and with unreformed ritual), I shall not be keeping S Matthias.

Perhaps I should in clarification add that I follow the St Lawrence Press ORDO.

22 February 2010

Anglicanorum coetibus in Springtime

A lovely spring day, yesterday, with everybody cheerfully confident that the crocuses in the Churchyard presage Spring. Today, snow again. I was reminded of a passage in some sermon or other of one or other of the Tractarians - more learned readers will have no difficulty identifying homilist and context.

"Could we be surprised if the winter even now should not be quite over? Have we any right to take it strange, if, in this English land, the springtime of the Church should turn out to be an English spring, an uncertain, anxious time of hope and fear and joy and suffering - of bright promise and budding hopes, yet withal, of keen blasts, and cold showers, and sudden storms?"

Pusey House
Exposition until 12 and then 2.30-4.00 (Solemn Evensong and Benediction).
The Oxford Oratory Holy Hour 8-9.

Pray for for more sun and less snow during this Third Spring. You know it makes sense.

21 February 2010

Ecumenical bridges

I had a quick look recently at a blog which I don't often contemplate - because its long-winded silliness just makes me cross. And this occasion was no exception. I found the suggestion that Anglicanism - whatever that is - is an ecumenical Bridge between East and West.

Oh dear. Many Orthodox, over the last two or three generations, have been carefully explaining that the problem about the West is that its own antinomies are usually two sides of one and the same erroneous coin; that Westerners, despite their own conviction that they disagree with each other, are really much of a muchness and mired in identical presuppositions: from which Orthodoxy is free and can liberate them.

You could find holes to pick in that. Orthodoxy is not, in fact, as uniform itself as the proposition implies. And one sometimes wonders if there are Eastern problems to which the West can help with an answer. And some Orthodox - like many Westerners - can be a trifle self-congratulatory. And we Latins certainly should not accept them lock, stock, and barrel, at their own self-estimation.

But there is a very great deal of truth left in the proposition. I myself, proud to be a Latin to my fingertips, have felt that Oriental ways of talking about theosis, from the Greek Fathers through S Symeon the New Theologian to S Gregory Palamas, can provide a breath of fresh air which blows away the cobwebs of sixteenth century (and earlier) Western debates about Justification and Grace.

The idea that 'Anglicanism', with all its own baggage, and its dearth at the moment of theologians who work within the Great Tradition, is needed as a bridge between Benedict and Cyril and Bartholomew ... you may feel that this is a unique situation in that it has left me speechless. When at a loss, my wont is to reach for alliteration. "Bearded Buffoons" springs to mind ... er ... but I recall that my own elaborately pogoniate state ... wherever did I put those scissors ...

And now - goodness gracious, to quote the Nabob of Bhanipur! - I descry the claim that Dom Gregory Dix was anti-papal ... hang on ... somewhere here I have some more amplodomine ... yes ... better now ... are these poor ignorant nincompoops [good word, yes? etymology??] unaware that he devoted an entire series of papers in Laudate to establishing that the Decree of Vatican I Pastor Aeternus is "on a careful analysis very closely in line with what we have found in the second century ... there has been development in both cases [Nicaea and Vatican I]. But it is a true development, as I see it, bringing out only what was implicit and in germ in the original conception, and guarding it from misunderstanding and error."

These **** *** ********** ******** appear to be claiming to be the defenders of authentic Anglicanism! I am far from sure what 'Anglicanism' is - I have never subscribed any canonical formula that included it. Some superficial people, of course, might absurdly define it in terms of being in communion with some See in Kent ... But if I ever find out what this lot means by the word, it will be my first duty to ensure that I put as much distance as possible between It and Me.

18 February 2010

Pro Iudaeis

This concludes the subject raised in two previous posts.
It is not so very long to Good Friday; when we shall probably be reminded of the controversy last year about the Prayer for the Jews. Incidentally, nobody ever replied then to my request for information about whether SSPX did obey the Holy Father's imposition of a rewritten Collect.
It would be easy to enter a technical defence of those original references in the Orationes Sollemnes to Jewish perfidia; since the Jews were those to whom the Messiah was long promised and then finally sent, it seemed particularly terrible to the early Christian centuries that so very many of the Jewish people abandoned their Faith in their ancient Covenant God by refusing to accept his Messiah. But there can be no doubt that the phrase sounds very nasty nowadays and I believe it was completely right to eliminate any causes that any reasonable person might have for taking offence. Undoubtedly, the original phraseology bears a considerable risk of sounding as though it is suggesting that Judaica perfidia, taken as meaning dishonesty and perjury, is some sort of congenital failing of all those who are racially Jewish (despite the fact that it really means something like "those of the Jews who have remained unbelieving"). And that would be a nasty and improper slur. It is essential unconditionally to repudiate it.

But even after the Sovereign Pontiff had composed a new prayer, solidly based upon the theology of the last part in the Letter to the Romans of the Rabbi from Tarsus, this replacememt prayer was heavily criticised. I think we must be quite clear about why this was. The guilt of the Holocaust is felt to hang heavily over all of Western society and seems to be felt most strongly by the liberal elements in it. It has become an orthodoxy among these people and in the Interfaith Dialogue industry to raise one's hands in horror at any suggestion that the Christian Gospel might have a claim on people of Jewish origin*. And this instinctive modern orthodoxy has been given conceptual expression in the the assertion that their original covenant and promise remain valid for the Jews in such a way that the New Covenant is not for them. Readers of the posts leading up to this one will have read my explanation of why this is a flawed piece of logic. Or you could reread Romans, helped, perhaps, by E P Sanders' exegesis.

Frankly - and this is to put my head upon a very uncomfortable block - I do sometimes wonder for how many more generations people are to be disciplined with the whip of the Holocaust for any word or deed with which some admirers of Zionism choose to disagree.

*In fact, I suspect that these people are really opposed to any idea that the Gospel has a claim on anybody; but the Jewish question is the most plausible area in which to establish their bridgehead of repudiating the universal explicit claim of Christ.
I would be grateful if readers would refrain from comments which are, or could be misrepresented as being, anti-semitic or anti-judaic; or as constituting 'Holocaust denial'.

15 February 2010


I have had a look at the site metre map. Whichever visitor I hit, I was given a lot of info about him/her. What puzzles me is that in each case it assured me that the length of the visit was nil seconds.

I shall never understand this computer business.

11 February 2010


As the weeks of deprivation approach, I observe in a newly opened supermarket lobsters for only £4.99. They come frozen all the way from British North America.

Even observant Byzantines, I gather, are allowed to eat such food, categorised as marine rubbish, during Lent.

Roll on the happy season.

Is it philologically correct to speak of the "carbon footprint" of a lobster?

10 February 2010


Tomorrow, Feast of our Blessed Lady of Lourdes, affords one of those liturgical coincidences with which the Compiler of the Celestial ORDO delights to delight us. If the day had been a feria, the Mattins reading from Genesis would have been about YHWH setting his Bow in the heavens as a sign to Noah of His Covenant. But it isn't. Yet in the Mattins which the Old Rite gives us of our Lady's Appearance, we find this elegant piece of typology: "R Like a bow shining among the clouds, and like the blossom of roses in days of spring, and like lilies in the places that water passes through,* Thus shines the Virgin Immaculate. V I shall set my bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of my Covenant with you. Thus ..."

Did Leo XIII's liturgists dream this up, or is the typology from one of the Fathers? Anyway, a pretty 'organic' piece of liturgical development, sez I . (Perhaps you gather from this that I have just started reading for review Laszlo Dobszay's The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite.)

I like the feast, and texts, of our Lady of Lourdes, anyway. They suggest that spring might come soon.

Unless, of course, you're Oz.

8 February 2010

Is this the End?

Like those nice old London Routemasters, all of a sudden juicy bits of news arrive in convoys. That pert Ms Gledhill (did the naughty girl disregard an embargo?) prematurely blew the gaff on the refusal of the Manchester Group to envisage an honourable place in the Church of England for Catholics. In the world of secular politics, that obnoxious Blair redivivus David Cameron is advising the ABC to reform the C of E along the lines of his own 'transformation' of the Conservative Party: what a hoot! And how clear now is his New Liberal agenda to bully Political Correctness through with just as much determined brutality as any old-style Lefty. You won't catch me rooting for that tacky little crook-on-the-make. Under Cameron, the old idea that at least there were a few shreds of Toryism left in the 'Conservative' party has finally expired.

And poor Sentamu is getting a battering for his claim that Ordinariate members would not be 'real Catholics'. I think people should lay off him. The plain and obvious fact is that he is not very bright. Dissecting his utterances is just cruelty to dumb animals. The last time Canterbury was vacant, they had to bring a Welshman in to fill it ... and another name mentioned was that of an Irish bishop ... because the quality of the English bench of bishops (with extremely few exceptions) can hardly ever have been lower. (Possibly this is because the job is such a lousy one nowadays that very few men of any distinction are likely to want it: remember the Chadwicks?). As long ago as 1944, Gregory Dix wrote "Even when the stately summer of the Carolines was over, the 'Whig grandee' bishops of the eighteenth century and the 'Greek Play' bishops of [the 1860s] still had something for which the genial energy of a business man in gaiters does not quite compensate. It was a dignified tradition, with much of solid good about it in spite of its gaps. But the growing poverty of the clergy and the growth of great industrial dioceses have today made it permanently impossible to maintain something which was more a consequence of the social 'set-up' based on landed property in the aristocratic rural England of the seventeenth-eighteenth centuries than a product of Anglicanism in itself. And the loss of the old otium cum dig. has brought with it a lowering of the general level of clerical scholarship, which counted for a good deal in building up that particular tradition ... Nor could I personally cling to the C of E only or chiefly because of the singular graciousness and goodness of some aspects of its past ... these things are now in the past, you know!"

Canon Gary Bennett made some of the same points in his 1987 Crockford's preface, for which he was hounded to suicide ("The vultures are already circling round this man", one of those kindly episcopal liberals observed the day before his death). More than two decades later, the situation is even more stark. We are emerging into a new, hard-faced, savage world in which even the velvet glove around the iron fist is being discarded as an outmoded civility. 'Conservatives' are determined to hack away any remnants of the idea that human beings exist within a tradition. 'Liberals' are notorious for their illiberal determination to root out any who question their own dogmatic rigidities. And the Church of England is substantially in the hands of very little men whose lack of any idea where they are going is surpassed only by their determination to go there as fast as possible. Facilis ... and, indeed praeceps ...

This is the basic reason - far beyond such mere symptoms as womenbishops - why the Ordinariate scheme is essential. Newman, notoriously, did not want the Church of England (even after he had left it) to be damaged while it still functioned as a bastion against infidelity. But he forsaw a day when sects like the Church of England would have been so infiltrated and taken over by the Enemy that, instead of being fortresses contributing to the defence of Christendom, they would themselves have become part of the military strength of the advancing Enemy.

I am not completely sure that we have quite reached that point; there are still small groups of embattled Christians precariously surviving within the Established Church. I am certain that it is against the background of such an analysis that we must try to discern our future. Heaven knows, there is enough Satanic Smoke, as Paul VI put it, in the current RC Church. But we are being offered a position in one of the last strongpoints during what may, in terms at least of this present civilisation, be the Last Battle.

7 February 2010

Patrologia Graeca

Very many thanks to kind colleagues for their help with Migne .

As far as I can make out, having tried out the help offered, PG 151 (with S Gregory Palamas' homilies, or rather, some of them) is not available free online. If anybody discovers that it is, I'd be grateful...

6 February 2010

Uterque Calix

Can anyone explain to me why, on videos from EWTN of EF Masses, the celebrant (?always) appears to prepare, consecrate (and subsequently ablute) two chalices?

Are they crypto-Anglicans?


No, it's not a matter of one chalice being used as a ciborium. Look for yourself.

5 February 2010

Nomina Sacra

Recently I was at a RC OF Mass; and, as so often, was struck by the fact that not even the clergy (there were about fifty concelebrants) bow their heads at the Name of Jesus, let alone at the names of the Great Mother of God, the Saint of the Day, or the Sovereign Pontiff. Is this the result of the demise of the Biretta culture? In the Patrimony, we are so used to keeping our ears pricked for those blessed Names at which we twitch our hats that, even when we are hatless, these Names don't just sweep over us unnoticed as we loll comatose.

Each of the RC OF Masses I have been to in the last three or four months has been deeply moving because of the personal reasons that drew me to attend ... persons of whom I am deeply fond. But, liturgically, I have obcurely felt that the experience had an alien dimension. Even though each of them was, I was informed, at the "good end" of the spectrum of 'performance'. Indeed, I found myself wondering if Newman's point had not, by some strange paradox, been turned on its head. He, you remember, explained to an Anglican that: "The idea of worship is different in the Catholic Church from the idea of it in your Church". Faith, he went on to argue, is needed to take the convert over the gap so that he can understand the Catholic idea of worship. How different things are today. Nowadays, Charles Reding would not get the liturgical flash of enlightenment which he has in the last pages of Loss and Gain by going to a RC church. Nowadays, in effect, an Anglican Catholic convert to the RCC is invited to transfer from liturgy which does express the "Catholic idea" to a culture in which, it seems to me, that "idea" has sometimes to be read into the rite rather than being read out of it. In saying this, I reveal, perhaps, personal inadequacies, and I have no desire to be combative or cause offence.

But I can't rid myself of a feeling that in our time, Reding's sort of transformative experience would be much more likely to be had in an Anglican Catholic church. It is there, and in but a very small handful of RC 'show' churches, and in Oriental rites, that worship which is manifestly transcendent, objective, and an irruption of the Divine, can be encountered. In very many RC churches, where the worship is not strongly distinct from what you find among devout high church Methodists, it can require a real act of will, logic, and of Faith to remind oneself that the minimum technical requirements for validity are being fulfilled and that therefore This really is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I am not surprised that Evelyn Waugh's felt as he did after the post-conciliar 'reforms'.

In our time, Newman's RC Willis would be very unlikely to say: "To me, nothing is so consoling, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever, and not be tired."

Who was it who called the Mass the most beautiful thing this side of heaven? Was it the Novus Ordo that he had in mind?

3 February 2010

The Brandsma Review

Somebody kindly sent me a copy of this Irish bimonthly; which is full of good stuff. An article on the Hiberno-Catholic priest (Anglo-Catholic seems an inept term) Fr Basil Maturin; on Dr Johnson's sympathy for Catholicism; and many sound opinions well argued. Oestrogen pollution in our waterways ... Filippo Lippi's La Madonna dell' umilita with a discussion about whether the Infant Lord is portrayed as a Down 's syndrome baby. ...

Interesting, that last. Artists have portrayed Christ, so as to make a point, as negroid or Asiatic; no harm there, since he was Jewish and yet we have often portrayed him as Caucasian. But offensively female Christs have appeared, as avant garde artists and ultraliberal clerics conspire to make their silly point. We could play this game too. Christ with Down's Syndrome would be a telling way of making a good point about the holocaust to which those thus formed are subjected in our thanatophiliac culture. And about the equal worth of all humans. Yes?


Papal Visit

Well, the news that the Pope is to visit Britain is hardly news, is it, and we still know absolutely nothing about the itinerary. A month or two ago, I speculated on what might happen if the Holy Father comes - as rumour had it he would to Oxford. Let me be more explicit. When Heads of State come here, the custom is for them to be given Honorary Degrees "by Diploma". This means that, instead of an Oration which might be, in parts, light-hearted, Mr Orator reads out a dignified legal document (most sections start with "Cum ...") on the excellences of the distinguished visitor. Clearly, this is even more appropriate when the visitor is himself of considerable academic standing. If it does not happen with regard to the Holy Father, I think I will be interested to know why.

More speculations from me: the media are distinctly more overtly hostile now than they were during the last papal visit in 1982. For one thing, John Paul's lifetime opposition to varying forms of totalitarianism tended to restrain the secularists a little at a time when memories of Stalinism were a trifle fresher. No such considerations apply now. And they've got a real head of steam going. I don't suppose the Hitlerjugend question will be much good except for a few sneers and cartoons; unless the "investigative journalists" who are undoubtedly even now burrowing away can come up with something really new and dramatic in this field, to make very much of it would just cause yawns. But one possibility is that they will attempt to smear the Sovereign Pontiff by suggesting that he was involved in paedophile cover-ups. They might use their familiar weapons of suggestio falsi and suppressio veri by examining all the cases that might have passed over his desk, and then testing whether any of the characters involved might have crossed the pontiff's path in other contexts: so as to suggest that he protected a vast network of iffy cronies.

When Benedict became Pope, he restored some items of pontifical garb which had become obsolete: red shoes, and so on. And journalists noticed that he wore sunglasses; and such things were combined into a narrative of campness, which was then linked with the claim that his middle-aged secretary was not totally ugly, so as to create a suggestion of homosexuality. He and Mgr G were alleged to have spent nights together - sinister, that - in Dr Ratzinger's flat. This is all totally risible, but the papers might try it on if they can't come up with something better.

And, talking about sexuality, there is the question of Newman's 'orientation'. I would be surprised and disappointed if the Grauniad did not do an article on that which would appeal to the credulous dogmatists who read that once great newspaper. Possibly, too, there may be pickings for Top Names in Academe, especially in the History Faculty. Diarmuid McCullough and David Starkey might be able to pocket some fees for various pieces of 'background'. However that may be, I have very little doubt that dissident 'Catholics' will be wheeled out to repeat their tired claptrap.

One thing you can be sure of: the Devil will not spend his entire summer sunbathing on some beach in Florida. Not a lot will happen while we have other things on our minds with a British General Election pending, nor while a new government is having its First Hundred Days. But a fortnight or so before the Holy Father's arrival ...

2 February 2010

LENT Carni "vale" dicamus

Meat during Lent? Some good comments from readers about the ecology of cows and the importance of eating woodcock and rabbits. I used to when we lived in the Sussex and Devon countrysides. Indeed, I was Master in charge of the Shoot ...

1 February 2010

Declining numbers

Since last November, visitor numbers have been declining by about a thousand a month. Perhaps readers who enjoy this blog could promote it by providing links to it from other blogs? At this rate, numbers will be down to nil in a couple of years.

A friend says that many people hit a blog by accident when they are seeking some particular word or idea through a search engine; and that on (or just before?) the feast that comes on February 14 I should include words that resonate with those hungry for lerve. Ideas?

Keep it clean.