31 March 2010

Fr Thurston and the CTS

I have copies of Fr Thurston's old CTS pamphlets about the pre-Pius XII rites for Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, and very good stuff they are. If anybody has copies of his pamphlets on Tenebrae, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday which they don't want, it would be a kind and cheering Easter prezzy to an aged and decaying priest to pop them into an envelope and send them to me at John Coombe's House/ 28 St Thomas's Street/ Oxford/ OX1 1JL.

A shame nobody is likely to reprint them.

Without a City Wall

Mrs Alexander's hymnographical ditties are easily derided, and they're certainly dated. But her words There is a green hill far away without a City wall remind me of one of the Passion sermons of S Leo the Great (I recommend all them as Passiontide readings) in which he reminds us that the Lord was not sacrificed in the one great place of the covenanted sacrifices ordained by the Father, in his Temple at Jerusalem. As that invariably readable scholar from the Jewish tradition, Jacob Neusner, has reminded us, the 'cleansing of the Temple' can only have had one theological meaning: the supersession of the Torah sacrifices. In S Leo's argument, that Cross on that hill without that city wall is the Ara Mundi, the Altar of the World, of the Cosmos, where the dear Lord was crucified who died to save us all.

30 March 2010


The Dawker, God bless his little cotton socks, has described the Holy Father as a leering villain in a frock.

This is super stuff and much to be encouraged. Could somebody whisper to him that Osama bin Laden and most of our terrorist supremoes (supremi?) wear frocks? It would be good to elicit from him yet more such beautifully subtle and intellectual rhetoric on frock-wearers. The BBC World Service could then disseminate his wisdom in the relevant areas of the globe, like Afghanistan and the Shind Valley.

What we need, as an addition to the Rainbow Diversity of our culture, is a flourishing Bomb The Dawker movement.

Ex Fide Henrici Fynes Clinton

Look at the admirable blog Ex Fide for pictures and a thumbnail sketch of the Palm Sunday Liturgy as it was before Pius XII's lackey Hannibal Bugnini, as his first experiment in liturgical wrecking, messed Holy Week up. This blog comes from the London church of S Magnus the Martyr, long the lair of the great, aristocratic, archpapalist Fr H J Fynes Clinton. I suppose this blog may have more such pictures as Holy Week continues. Give NLM and Fr Zed a break and spend Holy Week blogwise among the Anglican Catholics.

Haec omnia gratia amici nostri benevoli Rubricarii.

29 March 2010


An important new book on Vatican II has just reached me from a kind brother priest, Fr Taylor - thank you, Father. At last, somebody right at the heart of the Vatican is arguing robustly for the points long made by SSPX. I shall be taking a careful look at it after the Pascha. Publisher: cm.editrice@immacolata.ws

Important is not just the book itself, but the fact that such a debate can happen within the Church. Two or three years ago when the Good Shepherd people in Bordeaux regularised their position with the Holy See, they were told that they didn't need to change any of their views, but simply to carry on the debate within the Church. And more recently Anglicanorum coetibus refrained from imposing upon Ordinariates any baggage beyond the contents of the Catechism.

Happy, open-minded, days! A golden Age for those who long for Unity! A thousand flowers blossoming under an enlightened Pontificate!

Get the book and read it!

Pedants' Corner

A helpful word for any who need it: (Anglicanorum) Coetibus is pronounced, in the Italianate 'Ecclesiastical' pronunciation, Chay-ti-buss. This is because (diphthongised) o+e=e; which 'softens' a c.

If you are Ciceronians or Erasmians or whatever, I suppose you say Koy-ti-buss.

In the old-style English pronunciation of Latin, it would be See-ti-buss.

Not Ko-eet-i-buss or Cho-eet-i-buss. Coetus and Coitus are distinct words, although, entertainingly, they do share a common ancestry.

28 March 2010

Anglicanorum Coetibus

An idea occurs to me. Would it not be a useful for our bishops, perhaps after the July General Synod, to set up a 'provisional' Ordinariate Council, not to attempt to force Rome's hand, but to show that they have clergy who mean business and that they are consulting?

27 March 2010

Pervert Priests

For nearly three decades I served in the Diocese of Chichester under Bishop Eric Kemp. One of the things that made him so admired among his clergy was the care and love that he showed towards a priest with a problem. The fact that he gave an errant priest - even one whose lapse had been sexual - a second chance, seemed to us, back in the 1980s, the mark of a fine pastor. In that far-off decade, forgiveness and mercy were thought very highly of. In those days, forgiveness and mercy were thought of as characteristics of our blessed Lord himself. In those days, secular critics of the Church very commonly attacked her for being "unforgiving" towards those who had fallen from her standards in sexual matters. In those days, fashionable 'libertarian' organisations defended the right of pedophile groups to campaign for the legalisation of consensual sexual activity between adults and children. In those days, as we worked our way through the progressive decriminalisation of sexual activities, there were those who believed that the process would eventually encompass all sexualities. Indeed, why, on secular principles, should this not be so? In my lifetime, we used to imprison for homosexuality and abortion. Now these activities have been elevated into secular sanctities which it is increasingly dangerous to blaspheme and which are to be inculcated even among the very young at public expense. I would have no difficulty explaining to a pedophile why his predilection contravened given Christian Dogma, and why its expression was therefore an absolute evil which no little game of situational ethics could for the tiniest moment justify. I do not know how I would even begin to persuade him of the rationality of current public morality.

We all know that those who are gunning for the Pope are hypocrites. We know that they are in many cases dirty hypocrites whose own lifestyle is unmarked by any evidence of sexual continence. We know that they are bigoted hypocrites who are only marginally, if at all, interested if a rabbi or a humanist gets 'done' for pedophilia or if an Anglican diocese is bankrupted by the compensation it has paid out to abused Inuit children. There is one organisation that they detest with a loathing curiously like Hitler's dislike of the Jews. There is one man for whose downfall they have an insatiable bloodlust.

Nil novi sub sole. Dante described (Purgatorio XX 86-88) how Christ was again made captive and mocked in the person of His Vicar.

How very, very, appropriate that this malevolent evil should be reaching its climax in Holy Week. Satan has a real sense of liturgy.


Veggio ... nel Vicario suo Cristo esser catto. Veggiolo un'altra volta esser deriso; veggio rinovellar l'aceto e'l fiele ...

26 March 2010

St John of England ...who he?

Now here's an intriguing thing. When I visited the parish of St Mary the Virgin, Arlington ... sorry to go on about this, but it really was memorable to see with my own eyes the sort of arrangement which the Ordinatiates could give us ... Fr Hawkins very kindly gave me a few copies of a post-card size reproduction of an ikon of John Henry Newman. It appears to have been 'written' in 1991 (!), by someone called Robert Lentz (Info?????). But at the top the inscription reads Ho Hagios Ioannes ho tes Anglias. And he is sporting a very natty halo. Who had canonised him in 1991?

He is holding a scroll inscribed in English "The voice of the whole Church will in time make itself heard" (quoted from???????).

__________________________________________________________________________________(Albuquerque, Albuquerque New Mexico, www.natural-bridges.com

24 March 2010

Today's Collect

The ancient Collect for Lent III, with bold for the padding which Cranmer added to the Latin original:

We beseech thee, almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants: and stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty to be our defence against all our enemies.

Like last Sunday's collect, this comes from the Missal which Pope Hadrian sent to Charlemagne at the emperor's request; whose wish it was to reform the worship of the Empire by replacing the 'boisterous Merovingian Latinity' (Dix's phrase) of the 'Gallican' Rites with the elegant 'urban' Latin of the Papal rite. This was a decisive point in the journey of the Roman Rite from being the local rite of the City to being the common rite of nearly all the West.

It had better be admitted that many of these collects, marked by the disorders of the Roman Empire's last period, have, like the chants of the old rite, an embarassing relevance to our own day. Many of them deploy and link three themes: we are being mightily oppressed by our enemies; we deserve these afflictions; and we perform such duties as prayer and fasting that God may grant us the protection which we do not deserve. A millennium and a half later, our culture, too, has 'enemies' within and without: within, societal collapse and a community which seems often to be in terminal disorder; without, the threat of 'Islamic Extremism'. Do we accept that we (collectively) have deserved these things; do we trust to God alone and offer our prayers and abstinence as humble supplications for deliverance? Yet the old postcommunion prayer asks with almost naive succinctness that we may delivered from reatus (guilt) and pericula (perils) - as if these two go hand in hand, like a horse and carriage.

And it is worth looking at the readings which the preconciliar Missal shares with Cranmer's Prayer Book. Ephesians 5:1ff repeats the blunt message that fornication, covetousness, idolatry are the reasons why the Wrath of God has come upon the children of disobedience. Luke 11:14ff finds the Lord observing that a society which has once possessed the Faith (had its demons cast out) and then lost it is, at risk of having seven times as many demons returning to occupy it; the only solution is follow our Lady in humblest obedience to the word of God.

This is not the sort of way Christians tend to think nowadays; simply to suggest it is to run the risk of being attacked for claiming that God whacked the Twin Towers because the people inside were sinners. But this old Mass Proper sticks its neck out and asks us to confront the possibility that our society is under attack because of the internal dynamic of its own corruption.

Anglicanorum continues ...

Stepping back a bit from the considerations I have discussed in the last two days, I suggest that there are fundamental questions of ecclesiology involved.

Take the idea that the Church does well to be involved in Community affairs, and that this manifests the Incarnation of the Lord whose Body the Church. I don't feel that this is so much wrong as important but decidedly secondary. Surely, it is historically a working-out of the consequences of the Constantinian revolution, when the Church emerged (metaphorically) from the catacombs of persecution and walked straight out into Government favour and the possibility of changing Society for the better. It owes a great deal to conditions in late Antiquity, when ecclesiastical institutions to some degree occupied a partial vacuum left by the collapse of some imperial structures. But it does not form part of core ecclesiology. The Lord, after all, did not go around giving advice on the structures of secular life and how to improve the economy. He talked about the Kingdom and does not appear to have taught a Marxian Kingdom of this world.

I do not much believe in the notion that the Church is the only institution which exists for those who are not members - august though the proponent of the idea may have been - because I do not believe that the Church exists, primarily and in the last resort, to do good deeds in the world. With all due respect to Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, I notice that the New Testament invitations to fraternal benevolence relate primarily to the redeemed society itself ... "do good unto all men but especially to those who are of the household of the Faith". The heart of Christian ethics in the New Testament epistles is the relationship between those who are fellow members of Christ. Read Philemon, in which, notoriously, S Paul does not discuss the institution of Slavery and appears to have no awareness of the Rights of Man, but bases his entire casuistry on the transforming fact that this slave and this owner are both en Christoi.

I admire (and find myself judged by) those great Saints who, down the centuries, have displayed the unbounded love of Christ to men and women far beyond the visible boundaries of His Body. But fundamentally it is the Church which matters; and the purpose of the Church is to be Christ's one Body and to offer in all places from East to West one pure Oblation. It is of the essence that this Body should be one, as Christ is in the Father and the Father in Him.

That is why I feel so strongly the imperative to Unity. In an imperfect world, discipleship can indeed mean starting in the place where we were placed; it can mean joining with others in the discernment of the way ahead; it can mean making prudential judgements about timescales. But I need to be able to give a straight and honest answer to the Lord's question "Are you walking towards the oneness of My Body, or are you walking away from it?"

22 March 2010


I find it very irritating that I don't kow how to get my computer to do those joined-up O+Es.

An argument for staying with Rowan and putting up with the Womenbishops which deserves respectful examination, is the "Incarnational" consideration. Here in England, the life of the Church of England is deeply embedded in the life of the Nation. So the Church can appear as an enfleshed sign of the Presence of Christ. This means that a parish priest has the opportunity to be involved in the secular life of his district in a way that RC and Protestant clergy are not. I remember my (second) curacy days in an inner-London slum parish 1970-1973, and our involvement with organs of the Council, with social and community-work groups, with Tenants' groups, with other pressure groups including the Communist Party (which in the 1970s was active in good works and in building social cohesion and pride). I share the view that people without ecclesial links regarded these relationships as natural because they saw the C of E, however confusedly, as relating to the whole community as no other 'Faith Group' did.

Another aspect of the same sort of thing is what I would call the 'porosity' of the C of E. People - especially if they were baptised (and confirmed) as nominal "C of E" - can just drop in ... out of curiosity ... without feeling that this is somewhere wholly alien. They can thereafter be 'hooked' and gradually take a fuller and fuller part in Church life without engaging with complex questions of liminality: without having to decide (as they would if they became Catholic or Orthodox) whether to buy into a definitive credal commitment with implications in terms of breaches in previous relationships. Until - bingo - there they finally are with the full faith. This is real; and I could think of numerous examples of people who ended up RC through this handy little antechamber of Anglo-Catholicism.

These considerations deserve to be taken seriously. People who experience them strongly are not to be despised or derided. I feel, however, that they are now either already unreal or in the process of becoming unreal.

I think that the acceptability of a particular Christian, lay or clerical, in secular community processes is now very much less likely to be a product of his belonging to the Established Church. In as far as such games are still available and possible, my feeling is that they are likely to depend very much more on the personality, interests, and dynamism of the individual than on a C of E background; so that such roles are likely to be just as available to an Imam, a Methodist, or an Ordinariate Anglican. Even in 1970s Southwark, we were helped by the fact that in swathes of the inner City we were just about the professionals still resident in our areas. There is no reason why the same may not be true of Ordinariate Anglican communities.

Finally, I think we have to face up to the fact that in our decade, and not least since the canny and effective Vincent Nichols replaced a bumbling fool at Westminster, the RC Church has shown itself very considerably more successful in maintaining Christian values, ethics, and culture than the "Established" Church. We have to ask ourselves which ecclesial body in this country really now plays the role of Temple or Bell or ......

Anglicanorum coetibus

Friends sometimes ask why nothing much seems to be happening. To which the answer is twofold: that these are early days; and that the arrangements on offer are open-ended. Moreover, there are practical matters to be sorted both at the Anglican and the Roman end. My recollection is that it took something like a decade for the admirable parish of St Mary the Virgin, Arlington, to settle and organise its future.

Of course there are reasons why the process does not seem publicly to be not running at a headlong pace; the most obvious of which is that a community will not move at the same speed as an individual. It's not so much that "groups move at the speed of the slowest member" as that there will be many more complexities to settled.

Some people are surprised that Fr X has no intention of "going" while Fr Y just can't wait. Yet Fr X was always the more popish of the two by far. His church has always seemed more Roman than anything in Rome, while Fr Y's church has always seemed much more 'Ordinary C of E'. It is not always understood that the less "extreme" Anglican Catholics often tend to be more upset than "advanced" churchpeople are by the activities of the C of E. The reason for this is that "moderates" really have loved, thought well of, and expected well of the Church of England. So when she does wildly unorthodox and unorthopractic things, "moderates" get very upset and heartbroken. Fr X and his people, on the other hand, because of their "extremism", never have had any time for the Church of England or expected well of it. They have in fact conducted their affairs as if the C of E did not really exist. Seeing it as already gravely flawed by the mere fact of its canonical isolation from the Holy See, they feel, every time it does something even more unacceptable, like having Womenbishops, that well, not much has changed ... what do you expect?

I do not think it is fair to complain about the tardiness of individuals who are part of a group which is discerning its future. After all, the whole point of the Apostolic Constitution was to provide a way for groups; a bridge which would remain permanently in place. I do rather wonder about individuals who now explain that they don't want to be "Ordinariate Catholics" but just "Ordinary Catholics". Fine; well and good; but in that case why are you hanging around? Shouldn't you have departed some time ago - as soon as it became clear, in Bishop Edwin's lapidary phrase, that the game was up? And - at the very latest - that point was reached when the Anglican bench of bishops made rude noises at Walter Kasper and told him to get lost. And I have even heard the old idea that we must just work and pray even harder to bring the entire C of E round so that there can be a corporate reunion of the whole shooting match. My view is that, as Anglicanism, in a definitive and irrevocable way, sets a course of radical divergence from the Catholic Church, this old notion is just daft.

I do have some sympathy, however, for those who are, for personal or relational reasons, rather trapped. This could refer to laity (or even clergy) in irregular marriages. But I would hope that Roman marriage tribunals might be potential friends here. I gather this has proved to be true in America. Such persons should not give up, and they should investigate the possibilities sooner rather than later. It might be helpful if our bishops indicated sources of assistance. More problematic are those clergy whose situation has elements, sexual or other, which make it most improbable that they would be able to exercise a sacerdotal ministry in communion with the Holy See. I understand how they might feel. I myself have been a priest for more than four decades; my whole life soaked in the disciplines, practices, and instincts of priesthood. Before that, for more than a decade my life was structured around a sense of an inner vocation to priesthood. I would find it immensely difficult now to discern a vocation to the lay state.

I believe we must be patient and understanding, and, above all, avoid cheap jibes and facile condemnations.

21 March 2010

Apostolic Visitations in Ireland

Sounds good to me. When there has been a manifest collapse in the Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy of local churches, this is what the Papacy is for: to intervene, to investigate, to judge, to depose, to condemn, to set up new structures, to call to repentance. It is for this that the See of Peter has a jurisdiction ordinary, episcopal, and immediate over each of the faithful both clerical and lay. I only wish that Rome had done something like this sooner. And in a funny sort of way, this move is rather like Anglicanorum coetibus, in which ther Holy Father reached out a sustaining hand to those oppressed by unorthodox and unorthopractic elites closer home.

Of course, Benedict's course of action will be anathema to those who believe in the autonomy of the Local Church, won't it? If the culture of a local church favours the conditions which give rise to a disgrace such as the pedophile priest scandal, well, that's fine, isn't it? It's what we call Inculturation, which can be the pretext for more or less anything. If the self-perpetuating oligarchies called Episcopal Conferences - and their bureaucracies - are happy to carry on business as usual, then obviously we must do nothing to contradict the Spirit of Vatican II.

The Bishop of Rome is the Successor of S Paul, as well as of S Peter. Distant in body, but present in spirit, he has the right to judge the sinner with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 5) and to set straight the crooked ways of the local church. As the deadly legacy of the Conciliar Decade wreaks ever greater havoc on the Flock of Christ, what we need is a more Pauline Papacy.

20 March 2010

Clearing it up

At long last, an official investigation into Medjugorie. In my view, long overdue. The phenomenon is, by all accounts, so unedifying. I find it very hard, for example, to believe that our Lady would call all religions true, or say anything to encourage the disobedience of some Franciscans to the bishop of the diocese. But this is a rough and unresearched reaction. A meticulous inquiry should sort the matter out. Perhaps, for example, scientific methods could be employed: the 'seers' being interrogated in the Daniel-and-Susanna style.

And the Leadership mummble mummble of Women Religious, at long last, is being examined. It is hard to feel that here, again, the criticism will be that it should have happened a long time ago. And the new ICEL texts ... what I want to know is: why their Advent was postponed from 2010 to 2011; by whose decision and for what reasons. If it was because the Fischpersonns were convincing in their arguments for long and thorough catechesis, well, I think disgusting hypocrisy has won a victory here. Let us hope that the Holy Father will live long enough to ensure that, while having won a battle, they go on to lose the War.

Because we are left praying for the longevity of a Pope who is already frail and has already had serious health problems. I wonder if his delay in attending to his Augaean Stables was the result of a very human desire not to seem to continue as God's Policeman after being elected as the pastoral successor of S Peter. But I do suspect that the main criticisms that historians may make of him will not concern anything he will have done, but his delay in doing it.

The other massive scandal that he inherited, of course, concerned pedophile priests. It is not difficult to imagine the revulsion which this horrible business must have created in him. But if only he had been a little more proactive a little earlier ... I wonder if there is a certain truth in Morris West's rather bloated rhetoric about the Pope having the sins of the world like a leaden cope around his shoulders.

And the big thing which combines all these matters is: are they linked, at least in being the result of the same cultural matrix? Did the Bright Young Men of the Sixties ... even perhaps Fr Ratzinger ... fail to see how much of Satan there was in the giorno which to be was addressed by the aggiornamento? Was there an excess of self-confident optimism about the goodness of human nature in that Conciliar Decade?

Is it too much to hope that the Vatican/SSPX debates will address this radical question?

19 March 2010

Collapse of Mother Damnable; and Marylin is caught short

A package from the diocese of Oxford; as always, being ecological, I keep the sheets which have clean backsides, so to speak, by my printer, and bin the rest. Today, however, a little yellow sheet catches my eye. It's not from the Bishop - he's pink - but from Marylin. I had better explain for transpontines and papists that the DDO - Diocesan Director of Ordinands - is pretty well always named Marylin in the Church of England nowadays. (As well as Marylin, there is always also a Director of Women's Ministry; I wonder if, when we reach the point at which there are more women than men on the clergy list, this will change to a Director of Men's Ministry. Somehow ...)

Marylin is passing on the news that General Synod, frantic for money in this awkward interval before they collar the Methodists' assets, is having to cap the money spent on clergy training. This means cuts in those who get full-time, old-style seminary training, and those allowed to collect a degree in the course of training. More will be educated part-time in Ministerial Training courses in which the basic presuppositions are not Catholic. Which means that they will have no priestly formation in the real sense of the word. It must be rather irritating for women - some women, the good ones - finally to have won through to acceptance when they will now only get a notional formation.

Time was when the Anglican clergy were much admired for their culture and learning even among those who disliked the C of E. Mind you, this was always a bit of a fraud. Give men a nice country rectory and an Oxbridge degree and a bit of social respect and it's not too difficult for the crafty ones to simulate erudition. I know; I've pretty well raised this game to an art form myself. But there was something behind it all.

It will be a poor old thing, the House of Bondage, in a few years time. Not even a fancy facade.
Wilfrid Ward described the C of E as Old Mother Damnable; (Blessed) John Henry Newman called her the House of Bondage.

18 March 2010

Clerical celibacy

A few days away because of a family bereavement; and I find awaiting me endless emails on the subject of clerical celibacy. "And" (as the Daft Dimbleby said when commentating the 'Queen Mum's' funeral procession because he hadn't done his homework on all the regiments she had a link with and which were marching behind her coffin) "still they come". I'm just deleting them all now unread as fast as they pour in.

Personally, I am unfazed by the question of whether married clergy in the post-Apostolic period did or did not continue to have "sexual relations" with their wives. Let us assume that complete sexual abstinence was the rule. In that case, the approval by the Church in subsequent centuries and in particular contexts of married and sexually active clergies is a clear example of development. And to those of us who believe in development under the safe guidance of a Magisterium, there surely isn't any problem about this.

However, "Continuing Anglicans" with a fetich for clinging to what they believe the Bible says and the "Primitive Church" - whatever that is - did, really have got to disprove the case for clerical abstinence in those "early" days of the Church, or the poor soppy things really are up a gum tree without their trousers on.

There are also not inconsiderable problems for papists who derive extreme conclusions from the case for such abstinence. They have to explain why a "development" sanctioned by the Papacy really is - in their view - so iffy. And since the Latin Church itself has abolished celibacy for all in Major Orders by allowing (not as an exception but as a regular institution) married deacons, and since the Sacrament of Order is one and undivided ... well ... isn't there a spot of explaining to be done there too?

I suspect that there is a fair bit of work to be undertaken here. It should perhaps be done within the context of the very considerable development in the understanding of sexuality which Pius XI displayed in Casti Connubii.

17 March 2010


The blog that offered you the opportunity of out-of-the-box thinking on Purgatory now does the same with Predestination (incidental query: why do so many Roman Catholic clergy in North America have the Christian name Calvin? Who is the Saint after whom they are named and who provides them with their Name Day?).

In the Old Rite (I think I must have in mind a Rite older than Pius XII), the second Commemoration to be added to the Collect of each Lenten Feria begins Almighty and Everlasting God, who dost rule over both the quick and the dead together and hast mercy upon all whom thou dost foreknow will be thine by faith and work ... The crucial phrase is "quos tuos fide et opere futuros esse praenoscis". The Prayer goes on to pray that both those kept in the flesh by the present age and those whom the future age has received already may have their sins forgiven.

The corresponding Secret begins God, to whom alone is known the number of the elect which is to be placed in heavenly felicity, and ends by asking that the names of all those whom, commended by prayer, we have taken up, and of all the faithful, may be kept written in the book of blessed predestination.

There! Sort all that out, if you dare. As you are doing so, I will comfortably reflect that one of the most exciting things about the sort of Liturgy that has grown organically and by accretion over many centuries is that it does contain such conundrums ... things that no liturgist of our own day would, in a year of Sundays, ever dream of either composing or including. The newer Rite is not all new in the sense that every word in it has been composed afresh at one moment, en atomoi, in the Bugninizeit. Hundreds of its formulae do truly come from the old Latin books of the first millennium, and in the cases of some them one can rejoice in their rediscovery. But they have been selected (and sometimes 'emended') because they match up to the accepted orthodoxies of just one moment. So the collection as a whole is conceptually flat, unproblematic, and unmysterious. I am reminded of the advice given by C S Lewis's Screwtape, about the importance for Tempters of keeping the Ages separate, so that nobody will learn from another age than his own, and there will be no 'risk' that the characteristic errors of one generation may be corrected by the insights of another.

I think this is important.

15 March 2010

SARUM ... 1549

Oh dear ... yet again the dread word "Sarum" has been waggled around over the prospect of Ordinariate liturgical revision. I will risk the wrath of the Pastor of the Adur Valley by expressing a sense of horror.

I am capable of juggling with the EF in Latin, the EF in English, the OF in Latin, the OF in English, and of leaping in mid-circus from an ICEL horse to a Common Worship one. 1662 holds no terrors for me. Nor does the imminent New ICEL.

Have I really got to add another option to all this?

And I'm even less keen when 1549 raises its ugly head. Dix demonstrated conclusively that Cranmer was very heterodox; McCullough proved the same without apparently being aware that Dix had got in decades before him. 1549 made the common folk of England rise in rebellion; Cranmer's foreign friends persuaded him that it was, from their point of view, flawed, and so it was soon replaced by the rite which (apart from minor changes) has had statutory authority ever since. 1549 must have been the most short-lived liturgy in Anglican history; nobody loved it, nobody wanted it, and I don't want it now.

14 March 2010

Saint Thomas More

The Founder of the College in which I taught Classical Languages and Literature, and Theology, for three decades, once observed that "Education without Religion is a pure Evil". I was reminded of Nathanael Woodard's decisive and true words when Fr Hawkins (of the 'Anglican Use' parish at Arlington in Texas) took me to lunch in the small but perfectly formed College of S Thomas More in Fort Worth. Here I found, alive and very well, the ancient ideal of the Christian Respublica Litterarum. The spirit of Thomas More, Totius Angliae Cancellarius, and of John Henry Newman, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalis Diaconus, greeted one at every turn.

"The Fellows and Tutors of the College are its principal asset, representing as they do a community of learning founded by the great Greek poets and philosophers, the law-givers and Gospel writers, sometimes neglected, always recovered and vivified, and living still ..." Perhaps there is something a trifle American about the confident assertiveness of this, but the more I think about it, the more important and true it seems. Education is not, as modish idiots will have it, about each student working out for himself ab initio what is true for him; it is about Traditio, the handing down of that Christian culture which baptised Greek and Roman civilisation. And in this little Texan College, that is exactly what they do. The Syllabus is headed by a quotation from Richard Weaver: "If we really mean business, this will mean Latin and Greek". And it starts off with Book I of the Iliad ... and just carries on from there ... and keeps alive the reality of both Quadrivium and Trivium.

As we sat down to lunch, I felt a trifle undressed, since I had not thought to include my MA gown in the luggage which American Airlines transported for me. But, undeterred, I turned to the young man on my right and asked him what he had been doing that morning. "A poem by Horace about Cleopatra", he replied. So we batted around some ideas concerning Nunc est bibendum and it was quite clear that he knew what he was talking about. This led (Classicists will recognise the train of thought) to the slaying of Turnus at the end of Aeneid XII: where, once again, the student was well-informed. Well done, I thought, Harry Lacey, Fellow and Senior Tutor in Classical Studies (who, incidentally, is a member of the congregation at St Mary's, Arlington).

"The great tradition of humane letters is a gift to be studied, cherished, and handed on from generation to generation ... poetry, philosophy, the classical languages, history, and mathematics ... The study of these natural disciplines with the study of theology forms a Christian classicism that has been the intellectual heart of our civilisation for seventeen centuries ...."

Exactly. Three ... and more ... cheers for Dr James Patrick, the Chancellor; Harry Lacey, the Dean (both of them, incidentally, formerly Episcopalian priests); and all the members of this "academic fellowship". In aeternum floreat.

13 March 2010

How do you decline Texas?

Not that anyone would wish to decline a visit to this fascinating and welcoming State. What I mean is: in terms of Latin grammar, would it be Texas, Texadem, Texadis ... or, more Hellenically, Texas, Texada, Texados ... or what? There must be an answer to this, because, as I could see in my recent trip to the land of bluebonnets and purple sage, Classical Languages are far from dead there. This became clear to me when I caught Terry Southard At It on my first evening there: doing her Latin homework. A group of them meet for lessons after the Parish Mass on Sundays in the Church of St Mary the Virgin Arlingto (see previous posts). And the next day Fr Hawkins took me visiting ...

We went first to look at the (Catholic) Cathedral of Fort Worth; rather ugly outside, but a wonderland within. It was built by a French priest in the 1890s (I must resist the solecism of calling it 'Victorian') for a congregation which, judging from the dedicants of its stained glass windows, was largely Irish. And it looks like a church built by a Frenchman for Irishmen. Its fittings are superb; late French baroque ... for example, our Lady in swirls of drapery leaning forward so that the bulgy crown upon her head looks to be in danger of toppling off. To transfer a topos, if you couldn't afford to go to France for a holiday, a visit to S Patrick's (yes!) Cathedral would be a good substitute. For contrast, we then dropped in on the old stockyards, through which cattle are still driven daily by elderly gentlemen one of whom had those exquisitely drooping moustaches which seem to descend well below the collar-bone.

But we couldn't stop longer than it took to buy postcards for my grandchildren because we were destined for lunch at the College of St Thomas More. It became clear that we had arrived as we parked our car beside a nice young man wearing an MA gown in a back street positively pulsating with Latin and Greek culture .... to be continued shortly.

11 March 2010

It's happening

In posts dated October 20, 2009, and February 3, I foretold and warned that a horrifying crescendo of abuse against the Holy Father would characterise this year, the year of his prospective visit to this country. I am not in the least gratified to discover that I appear to be right. We all need to pray and offer Masses regularly for this deeply holy and admirable man.

We hear, too, the old nonsense that clerical abuse scandals are somehow connected with the rule of celibacy. This is nonsense. In the Church of England, where clerical marriage is allowed, I know of horrible examples of such abuse. And it not only happens among clergy who have chosen not to marry; the idea that a married man is uniquely proofed against this perversion is simplistic rubbish.

I also know of accusations made against both priests and schoolmasters which were false and which nevertheless ruined the lives of those accused. That is also a peculiarly horrible form of abuse. How sure are we that all the accusations currently being relished by our sick and prurient media are true? After all, people who expend much effort in digging big holes are not commonly attempting and hoping to find nothing.

St Mary of the Virgin?

Here in the Church of England, a very large percentage of our churches is dedicated to our Lady under the simple and gracious title of St Mary the Virgin. Post-Irish-immigration RC churches tend to prefer to be our Lady of something-or-other or the something-or-other of our Lady. Which is why, Fr Allan Hawkins tells me, his Anglican Usage Catholic parish in Arlington, Texas, is sometimes misdescribed as "St Mary of the Virgin". The elegant Englishness of "St Mary the Virgin" was deliberately chosen by his congregation when, in the 1980s, they entered into full communion with the Holy See (they were previously St Bartholomew's). This process was equally simple and elegant: on Pentecost Sunday they celebrated their last Mass together as Anglicans; a fortnight later Father became a priest in good standing with the RC diocese of Fort Worth and St Mary's resumed its communal life of witness to the Catholic faith as that has been received by Catholic Anglicans.

It seems quite English and very Anglican in a pleasantly old-fashioned sort of way ... the Angelus after the Sunday Parish Mass sung in our traditional melodies; more of Mass at the High Altar than at the Seat; use of the biretta ... and of course the use of the Prayer Book (the 1979 American Prayer Book, with the Roman Eucharistic Prayers, called The Book of Divine Worship). Any Anglican of a "Catholic" inclination - but not too "extreme" - would find himself completely at home here. The only thing that might slightly surprise her would be the size of the congregations; these have become very much larger since St Mary's swapped Canterbury for Rome; a hundred or so at both 8.00 and 6.00; a couple of hundred at 10.30. These people are not all former Anglicans; not unnaturally, quite a few Roman Catholics have found the worship, traditions, and style of St Mary's to their taste. Church life is vibrant, forward-looking, and immensely friendly and welcoming. Fr Hawkins (formerly of Stevenage and Swindon) maintains very warm relationships with his Bishop (a fairly new and 'traditionalist' appointment who has massively increased the number of seminarians under his wing and is very fond of the 'Anglican' parish he inherited) and with neighbouring clergy, both Anglican and RC.

It is difficult not to hope that this experiment ... no, it has been going for a generation; this highly successful adventure will prove transplantable to an English context. An Anglicanism reconciled to a greater Christendom - and showing how it can be a true ecumenical bridge - is just, surely, what the Holy Spirit is calling for. Go and look at Arlington if you aren't sure it's possible. What in the last resort is so impressive is that it has bedded down to look so natural and, in the best sense of the word, so ordinary.

10 March 2010


Well, I'm not sure I know much more about the US of A as such. You see, I went for just a few days to stay with Craig and Terry Southard in Arlington and have a look at Texas; thinking that it would be a typical bit of America ... in my ignorance. Now I appreciate that The Lone Star State is really quite different and special; acute, intelligent, and with natural good taste. For example ...

One afternoon we spent a happy couple of hours looking at "the West" ... as seen through the eyes of painters including C M Russel and F Remington, both of whom seemed as miraculously adept in at getting a horse into bronze as into oils. I found myself wondering whether Russell (who just about lived late enough) ever saw the art of the Irish hippophile Jack Butler Yates, and whether he ever saw theirs. Then we strolled down across the lawns (where with my own eyes I SAW A MOCKING-BIRD!!!) to a gallery (the Kimbell) which would be the envy of any city this side of the water ... where Tiepolo and Rubens and the rest of the Big Boys were on show (to the sound of live music); but also a modello by Bernini for his fountain in the Piazza Navona; I could have walked slowly round it for hours. Then ... good heavens ... Michelangelo's first painting, done when he was an adolescent: horribly feely demons surrounding a delightfully indifferent and supercilious S Anthony. And, just round the corner, a late fifteenth century German silver statue of our Lady imperially crowned and standing upon the moon. I wonder if her wearing the Imperial crown was common on the continent at this time; there is a stone carving of Maria Assumpta thus crowned near here at Sandford upon Thames, which I suspect might have come at the Dissolution from the Oxford Whitefriars - but I have been having trouble paralleling the Imperial crown in other Marian iconography in England. I also wonder when the crescent moon (which we of course associate with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) became a common motif in England.

Then, however, I made a mistake. We went to a nearby Dairy Queen, where I had ... Oh dear, I can't quite recall the name ... a sort of massive Ice Cream and Chocolate and Brownie volcanic eruption. Temptations, temptations. But I disgraced myself. I couldn't finish it. Fortunately, a charming and well-read seven-year-old called (apologies to her if I'm spelling this wrongly: spelling never was my strong point) Mikayla very kindly assisted me by finishing it off.

And, by a happy coincidence, there was also nearby a church - St Mary the Virgin, Arlington - which belongs to the Anglican Usage group of parishes set up (with Cardinal Ratzinger's connivance) during the time of John Paul II. More about that, if you would be interested, soon.

Texas has got just about everything except that I didn't get to see Boss Hog.

9 March 2010


... to close friends who have emailed me and got very terse replies. I nipped across the Herring Pond and am, of course, now overwhemed with catching up. I hope the brief replies I zingged off will do ...

The Sacred Heart and the Wounds of Christ

It is a commonplace to point out that in counter-Reformation Latin piety, the Sacred Heart occupies the place formerly enjoyed by the cult of the Five Wounds. Are there losses and/or gains in this?

Cardinal Ratzinger once pointed out that "In biblical language, the 'heart' indicates the centre of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation". And in The Pierced One he writes of all the Old Testament refences to the Heart of YHWH (e.g. Hosea: "My Heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender") and argues that in Christ "the anthopomorphisms of the Old Testament are radicalised and attain their ultimate depth of meaning". I think his paper is worth rereading; and I think in just those two brief quotations I have given from the Holy Father there is a great deal to stimulate thought.

And perhaps one great advantage of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart is that it is essentially a devotion to the Risen Lord.

But, in favour of the Five Wounds Devotion, it can be said that there is need for a real interior appropriation of the sufferings of Christ. And visiting imaginatively a single wound can move one more than can a generalised glance at unimaginable suffering which is outside one's own capacity for real empathy. I think it was while watching Dr Zhivago in the '60s that I was aware of the cinema audience freezing with horror - not when the Cossacks sabred a crowd; that was just History - but when one character, standing before a mirrior, steeled himself to pour iodine into the slash on his face. And the The Sacred made Real exhibition moved me most when I looked at the raw knees and damaged fingernails of the Dead Christ.

6 March 2010

Bird-Watching and the Five Wounds

If you get stuck into your copies of that wonderful series of books in which Professor Eamon Duffy, of the junior University, has rehabilitated English medieval religion (and most recently the Counter-Reformation of Queen Mary and Cardinal Pole) you will find all the necessary background about the prominence of this devotion in late medieval England. On this blog I prefer to give you fresh stuff rather than plagiarising or epitomising, so I won't labour the point (What? You haven't got Duffy? Well, you should have).

If you want a holiday that combines good coastal walking, the possibility of sighting Fr 'Streaming' Zed and lots of other twitchers photographing the rare Choughs which became extinct in Cornwall but have now mysteriously reappeared, go to Cornwall (well, the coasts are more spectacular and the choughs gather in flocks of forty or more in the Kingdom of the West, County Kerry. But Cornwall is a good second best). While you are there, look at the medieval bench-ends which you will find surviving in dozens of the churches. Again and again you will find the shield of the Five Wounds appearing among the designs. You have, moreover, a good chance of finding bits of medieval stained glass with the same design. In the middle of 'the arms of Christ' is his pierced Heart, and in the four corners the pierced hands and feet. Sometimes, in the middle, there might instead be a Chalice and Host, and the Host might have the Heart combined with it.

It is not surprising that the people of this peninsular rose in rebellion when, in 1549, Edward Tudor tried to impose the alien and superstitious cult of Reformation Protestantism upon them (Duffy, Morebath). Of course, hardline Roman Catholics among you will not approve of these yokels; they had been in schism from Rome since 1534 and so they cannot claim to be proper Catholics, only Anglican Catholics. But, for us, they are our beloved martyrs. And it is not surprising that they carried banners before them embroidered with the Five Wounds of Christ.

Dr Cranmer and his cronies were very scared. And like a lot of scared people, they turned nasty (Dom Gregory Dix writes beautifully about the intellectual dishonesty with which Cranmer, in his writings, practised suppressio veri, concealing facts which simple people might not know for themselves). Cranmer wrote sarcastically about the banners of the Five Wounds, and admonished these brave folk that true devotion to the Redeemer had nothing to do with waving such banners around (I've mislaid the quotation I meant to deploy; can anyone help?).

But I don't think Cranmer had always been so inimical towards the Devotion to the Five Wounds.

Cranmer and the Five Wounds soon.


Deo volente, when you read this I shall have arrived in North America in an attempt to find out what Americans are really like. Hitherto, of course, my knowledge of them, while extensive, has been totally derivative and mostly literary.

As a small boy, I read the Greyfriars School books ... about William George Bunter and his classmates in the Remove. In those happy pages I met the sole American in the school, Fisher T Fish (I believe the T stood for Tarleton). He was a loan shark. I don't quite recall whether his father was a partner in Lehmann Brothers.

When I came to man's estate, I read in Zuleika Dobson of Oover, the American undergraduate member of the Junta, who waxed eloquently for page after page in defence of the simple and laconic colonial manners of himself and his countrymen. The turgidity of his rhetoric was protoObamaesque.

Then I fell victim to New Media and I hired a Television for the children on winter afternoons. We watched The Dukes of Hazard; nothing, in fact, about aristocratic gamblers but a lot about a typical, wholesome, North American community. I remember a couple of good-looking and wholesome young men, their wholesome car, and a girl with a couple of (invariably unclad) wholesome legs; but what particularly mesmerised me was the figure of Boss Hogg, the local politico, who had all the verve and charm and wholesome integrity of the Kennedy family. I believe he wore a white leather suit.

Of such is my imagining of Americans and their mores composed. Shall I be disappointed when I meet the real thing? Future posts may reveal ...

5 March 2010


Had better dash to the airport and mug up on all the advice I have been given on how to mislead Yankie immigration officials. Before I go: back to those Cluniac hymns for Christ the Priest. It's probably a waste of time (I expect they'll just universalise the Spanish propers), but there may just be a chance of persuading the CDW to consider those French Cluniac hymns from the seventeeth century which some of you so cleverly suggested and then dug up. Especially if CDW are told how dear they are to Anglicans. Could those of you more IT savvy than I am belabour the relevant authorities with appropriate information and advice?

It would be fun to have pulled this off.

The Mass of the Five wounds

The reason why I have a niggling doubt about the account of what S Raphael said to Pope S Boniface is that the Mass found in the Sarum Missal for the Five Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ seems to be more or less the same as the Mass de Passione Domini preserved from earlier in the Tridentine Roman Missal. Phrases have been added: in the Collect, after 'descendisti' the words 'et in ligno Crucis quinque plagas sustinuisti'; and in the Postcommunion, after 'deprecamur ut', the words 'per tuae passionis et vulnerum tuorum merita'. And there are areas of the Sarum Gradual and Sequence which are clearly textually corrupt. Therefore, obviously, Sarum's is an adapted, secondary version of this Mass. Don't you agree?

No? What? You want to know whether I have checked how far back the Passion Mass goes and whether I have considered the possibility that the version in the current EF Missal might be a pruned and secondary version of the Five Wounds Mass? Well ... er ... um ... no, ... er ... I ... um ... er ..., as my students used to say when, having listened to their miserable essays, I began savaging them. It is possible. The Counter-Reformation was a rather puritanical period. The Calendar in the original Missal of S Pius V is a tree even more savagely trimmed in some respects than Dr Bugnini's. The lovely Raffael pictire of La Madonna di Foligno, a copy of which is part of the baroque superstructure of the High Altar at S Thomas's, was ejected from the Church of Sancta Maria in Ara Coeli on the Capitoline Hilland and a dusty old medieval ikon reinstated in its place. So somebody certainly could have taken scissors to the florid old English medieval Mass. We must not assume that earlier versions are always shorter and that time brings accretion: that is one of the most egregiously erroneous assumptions of twentieth century NT textual criticism, as my old and beloved mentor, the greatest of all textual critics, George 'Eclectic' Kilpatrick, formerly Dean Ireland's Professor in this University, used to love demonstrating.

So, no rash assumptions. If anybody likes to do the necessary research, I'm very willing to eat my biretta and concede that the Archangel Raphael did indeed give all those mathematically precise instructions to Pope S Boniface ... oh, and you might as well, while you're about it, suss out which Boniface that was.

But while you're busy with that, I'll start drafting the next post on the history of this Mass and devotion.

2 March 2010


Strange how words grab people differently. I've just read something by "a sacramental theologian" on how, in the Institution Narrative within the Eucharistic Prayer, Anamnesis must NEVER be translated as 'Remembrance' - because that is just too, too heretical. 'Memory', however, apparently bathes within the bright sunshine of complete heavenly orthodoxy.

There is a problem. Each word, it seems to me, is inadequate, as each suggests to the modern English ear a purely celebral recollection of a past event. That is why Dom Gregory Dix as a consummate mystagogue always used the Greek term anamnesis (which is hardly an option in liturgical texts). But I would be hard put to explain the effortless superiority of 'Memory'. We use it of nostalgia: "Memories, memories", we murmur, as we fondly recall the distant day when Auntie Mildred nearly caused an international incident by pinching the bottom of the fat Italian waiter at that slightly odd cafe a little way down from the Trevi Fountain. But 'Remembrance' does have a hint of objectivity about it: "Have this brandy glass as a remembrance of Uncle Bob".

Frankly, 'Remembrance' has a lot to be said for it. It comes ultimately from the Late Latin rememorari, used by S Jerome to render anamimneskein in Hebrews (re- being a Latin equivalent of the Greek ana-). Friends and enemies have always regarded me as a nit-picking pedant, but I can't detect any subtle difference in nuance between 'Remembrance' and 'Memory'. Neither could Cranmer, who used the two words interchangeably in his Consecration Prayer. Nor did the authors of the Caroline and Non-Juring liturgies (Grisbrooke passim) who in times of persecution rewrote his Liturgy to make it express explicitly the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

There is a fair bit wrong with some of Cranmer's formulae. I have never once used his Consecration Prayer* without some sense of guilt. But it has never occurred to me that I am a heretic when I say "remembrance". I do hope that liturgical revision in Ordinariates is not going to be bedevilled by hoards of people all queuing up each with his own home-made sibboleth.


Not that he called it a Consecration Prayer, because he didn't believe in Consecration. It acquired that title when the Prayer Book was tittivated under the influence of Caroline High Churchery in 1662; a telling ikon of the tension between Cranmer's Zwinglian euchology and the rather different eucharistic beliefs of many who down the centuries have been landed with using it.

1 March 2010

To Blackfriars

for a very useful Liturgy Conference. It is not for me to blab on about papers which will be published in the form in which their authors desire them to see the world. But the last one had an interest beyond its subject. The speaker argued that the close connexion between Sunday and the Resurrection is less securely early than we have always thought, and is the result of the appropriation in the Great Church of some ideas of Marcion. I am far from sure what to make of that, but I can see some attractions in the proposition that 'Pascha' referred to the Passion of Christ; remember that big homily of Meleto of Sardis ("Pascha from paschein"); S Paul's emphasis on Christ our Paschal Lamb being sacrificed for us; S Leo's usage of the word Pascha to refer to the Crucifixion (and see my post on When does Lent begin for mathematicians?).

This general approach could fit in with Jacob Neusner's emphasis on the Institution of the Eucharist as a deliberate sacrificial replacement of the Jewish sacrificial system; and would follow on nicely from a Margaret Barkerish idea that the antecedents of Christian worship should be discerned more in the sacrificial system of the Jewish Temple than in fellowhip meals or synagogue services of the Word. So we would see the Sunday Eucharist as, right from the start, a distinctively and unambiguously sacrificial enactment at the heart of Christianity. So Good Bye to dafties like Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and Buchanan. And, for that matter, to some of the spawn of Bugnini and all that 'Spirit of the Council' rubbish about the Eucharist being essentially a meal. Thank heaven that the C of E got it right at the 'Reformation', with the unambiguous statement of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1559 that "In the Mass is offered the true Body of Christ and His true Blood, a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead".

Dom Gregory Dix, the masterly mystagogue of our Patrimony, wrote about the Easter Vigil: "It appears that in the Roman rite c. A.D. 200 the lessons included Hosea 6 and the account of the Israelite Passover in Exodus 12 ... the paschal liturgy of Asia Minor agreed with that of Rome at least in including the lesson from Exodus ... it is probable that the points on which their paschal liturgies agreed in that period are independent survivals of a rite drawn up at a very early date indeed ... nothing could more clearly indicate the close connection of the christian and jewish 'passover' than the choice of this lesson. There followed a lection from the gospel of John, the account of the death and resurrection of our Lord ... the choice of lessons is in the exact spirit of S Paul's phrase 'Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast with joy' " It was Dix's view that this liturgy was a "liturgy of 'Redemption' rather than a commemoration of the historical fact of the resurrection". He regarded the separation of the observance of the Death from that of the Resurrection (both being seen in primarily historical terms) as part of the 'Historicisation' of Liturgy, leading to the invention of Good Friday and the transference to that day of the readings from Hosea 6 and Exodus 12.

This reading of the situation by Dix has been under a bit of a cloud in recent decades. Perhaps it's due for a revival.