30 April 2010


I have been assuming that the "Study Text" which was made available some time ago was the definitive new ICEL English Ordo Missae. But, looking on another blog at some music composed to go with the new translation, I see, in the Sanctus, " ... God of power and might". The Study Text, felicitously, had used Cranmer's rendering of "Deus Sabaoth" as "God of Hosts".

Am I to take it that some unfortunate tampering has gone on? How extensive is it?

28 April 2010

Find out more about your Birthday

Liturgists, ORDO Compilers, historians, have a handy volume which never wanders far from beside their computers."Cheney" enables you to turn up the complete calendar for any year between 400 and 2100 within twenty seconds: look at the lists of Dates of Easter; then find the relevant calendar. There they all are laid out; from years when Easter is as early as March 22 (a rare one; it last happened in 1818 and will not recur in your lifetimes) right down to the latest possible date for Easter, April 25 (1943; you might live to see another one in 2038). The most recent 'extreme' year was, of course, 2008 (Easter on March 23), which caught out the chappies who manufactured the recent C of E Lectionary system. Septuagesima was the second Sunday after the Epiphany.

Thus our present year, 2010, last occurred in 1999 and will recur in 2021, 2083, and 2094. If you kept your old ORDOs carefully filed away, you could reuse them then. Except that you couldn't, because modern lectionary systems (see last post) delightfully complicate the possibilities and also have an exquisite tendency to be dumped every few years as a new generation of even cleverer people comes along anxious to produce an even more brilliantly constructed lectionary. The Bugninis and the Stancliffes are the very exemplars of the red-blooded male when it comes to begetting new generations of perturbatores liturgici.

Among past years which are exact matches of 2010 is 1847; an interesting year. Blessed Pius IX had been elected only months before and was still enjoying a remarkable honeymoon, even among the non-Catholic intelligentsia of Europe. He was young, liberal, modern, and progressive. In him, the Catholic Church had opened its windows to the optimistic and glorious Spirit of the Nineteenth Century. It was a time of some euphoria.

Divertingly, the next year brought something of a nemesis: 1848 produced the Spirit and Spectre of violent insurrection to haunt Europe, and Pius IX experienced the atrocities of the Roman Revolution. He learned from his experiences; he was to be the pontiff who discerned the need for the Definitions of Vatican I; I do not find it easy to see how the Church could have survived intact into the following centuries if it had not been fortified by these definitions.

And there are the glories of his Syllabus of Errors:

"If anyone shall say that the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with, Progress, Liberalism, and Modern Civilisation: Anathema sit.
"If any man shall say that every man is free to embrace and profess the religion which, guided by the light of Reason, he shall consider true: Anathema sit ...".

You can find them all on the internet. I invite readers with the leisure to to provide arguments for the timeliness now of their favourite condemnations.

More on Cheney later.

27 April 2010

Honestly ...

I read that the Eerie bishop, Donald Trautmann (who is NOT part of the Anglican Patrimony) has categorically stated that Vatican II mandated vernacular Liturgy. This would be not so much a gross misrepresentation of the facts as a thumping great lie.

I don't know about you, but I can honestly say (I am half Cretan) that I never tell a lie unless it can be prudently foreseen that there is a better than evens chance of getting away with it. But no way can Troutie, if in his right mind, have believed he had a snowball's chance in Hell of getting away with that Porkie. This is not the Middle Ages. Many of the laity can read.

I can only conclude that, appalled at the apparent collapse of his life's work in the year before his retirement, poor old Fischpersonn has fallen lock, stock, and barrel into the hands of the goat-footed god. This just has to be good news for Honest Folk, nicht wahr?


In an idle moment while contemplating my diary, I calculated that, of the last 14 Masses I have said, 11 were Latin EF. It's facts like this that convince me that the Anglican Patrimony has a great deal to offer the RCC. Don't believe mischief-makers who tell you that all English Anglican Catholics enthusiastically use the Novus Ordo.

Foreign Office sophistication

I've been mulling over sick or childish funnies which the FCO could propose in their enormously witty planning of State and Official visits by foreign Heads of State or of Government. Obama, for example: give him a video game about crashing airliners into sky-scrapers. Sarkozy: a banquet starting with Frogs' legs and with Beef Wellington for the main course. Merkel: Prince Harry goose-stepping up and down in his SS uniform. Netanyahu: something immensely hilarious about Auschwitz. The Saudi King: the stoning of some promiscuous Z-list celebrity. Chinamen: cabaret turns by the Duke of Edinburgh. Etc. etc.. If one has enough empathy to think oneself into the sniggering mind-set of drearily gamma minus adolescents with too much time on their over-paid hands, the possibilities are endless.

Should I apply for a Consultancy at the Foreign Office?

25 April 2010


I do not share the sense of shock-horror that some circles are expressing after the leaking of the list, put together in the FCO, of things that might be included in the papal itinerary. I find it essentially reassuring that the sense of humour of the secularist generation is thereby revealed as so lacking in sophistication and real old-style satiric wit. A condom factory, indeed. Oh, ha and ha and ha. When I was teaching as recently as the 1990s, even a 4th-form set could have come up with something funnier.

What would be disquieting would be evidence that this generation of young brain-washed secularists were capable of clever, revealing, subtle satire ... such as that of Ronnie Knox or G K Chesterton or Q Horatius Flaccus.

Good to know that our enemies can only hoodwink the intellectually challenged members of society. Worrying, however, that these dim robotic twits are being employed at public expense.

ORDO complexities

Some readers might have been fascinated and intrigued by my last two posts. I remember, as a little boy, being myself fascinated by the complexities within the Altar Missal - The English Missal - used in my church. Others will very naturally have felt that this is just the sort of thing from which the reforms under Pius XII, John XXIII, and Paul VI mercifully delivered us. There are arguments each side. On the one hand, those complexities are the result of natural organic growth and hold within them the wisdom of our ancestors and of the tradition in which we stand. On the other hand, 'Enlightenment' approaches to Liturgy see it as didactic, and seek within it clear, strong lines which will instruct and edify clergy and people alike.

I am less sure, forty years after the post-conciliar reforms, that Enlightenment didacticism really has led to a better instructed clergy and laity. Take something fairly basic which really was mandated by Vatican II: that a richer table of Scripture should be made available to God's people. I wonder if - both in the RCC and the C of E - they really do know Scripture better than they did a generation ago. I am unsure that the wonder of the Sacrifice of the Mass really is better understood and loved than it was.

As Liturgy grows by accretion, there have continually been times when it has been necessary to prune it back. Dr Cranmer appealed to this sense when he claimed that "the number and hardness of the Rules called the Pie and the manifold changings of the Service, was the cause, that to turn the Book only was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out". And , dishonestly implying that he was merely simplifying the burdensome complexities of liturgical life, he claimed that he was merely providing that "from henceforth all the whole Realm shall have but one use".

It is clear, of course, that his main motive was to smuggle in a theological revolution under the guise of simplification. What is more relevant today is that the same is true of our own time. Scholarly studies increasingly have revealed the doctrinal and sometimes revolutionary agenda behind the Bugnini reforms.

Never has it been more clear that liturgical pruning and reconstruction should be gradual and organic and only touch what is necessary to reform.

24 April 2010

After None ...

Until the mid-twentieth century, in the ORDO which every priest needed to refer to daily, he would be advised that, next Sunday, S Mark's Day, [I translate and simplify what I see before me in my copy of the admirable St Lawrence Press ORDO] "After None, the Procession happens of the Greater Litanies ... afterwards, the [Rogation] Mass Exaudivit (see Missal after Easter V) is sung with the rite and tone of a feria throughout, with no Gloria or Creed, the second collect for the Persecuted Church or the Pope, the Easter Preface, and Let us bless the Lord at the end. The Paschal Candle is not lit. The colour is violet".

We used to replace Ite Missa est with Benedicamus Domino whenever we did not say the Gloria (and, in those days, the Gloria was used every day in Eastertide and throughout the year on any saint's day - which means quite often). The matter is obscure but in my view the custom may derive from the fact that on a Lenten feria, in which the Gloria had not been said, Vespers might have followed directly after Mass, so the people were not to be encouraged to depart but to stay for the Office. So the originally coincidental fact that rather often in Lent Gloria was not said and Go this is the Dismissal was replaced by Let us bless the Lord led to the assumption that these two practices had to go together.

Violet vestments were used for all supplicatory Masses; for example, most of the Votives.

Your ORDO would have gone on to provide you with information about what to do if there is only one Mass and there is a Procession; if there is no Procession (you are encouraged to say or sing the Litanies before Mass but reminded that they cannot be anticipated, that is, said the day beforehand - a temptation for a busy priest oppressed by his liturgical load); and then - finally!- it would reveal that, after all this, you could have said all Masses (except for a Conventual Mass) of S Joseph. This is because his solemnity happened last Wednesday (as being the Wednesday after Easter II), but before Pius X changed the rubrics (he wished to ensure that more Sunday Masses survived), S Joseph had been fixed permanently onto this very Sunday, Easter III. So Pius X allowed today's Mass to continue to be - optionally - of S Joseph in case particular congregations had become very attached to his celebration on this Sunday and had perhaps got Josephine fervorini going.

So if you kept S Joseph you said four collects: S Joseph; and commemorations of S Mark, the Sunday, and the Rogation.

Yes! You're right! Congratulations for spotting it! You read the Last Gospel of the Sunday Mass!!

I'll finish this off a bit later.

23 April 2010

Next Sunday

According to the Roman Rite as it existed before Pius XII (I am naturally refering to my handy copy of the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO), next Sunday we celebrate S Mark. Indeed, in the abortive 1928 Prayer Book the same held good; 1928 took its provisions for Occurence and Concurrence basically from the current Roman Rite. (Prayer Book Measures in 1965 and 1968 also made it possible to oberve S Mark instead of the Sunday.)

But there was under thjose older rules a "commemoration" of Sunday; that is to say, the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion of Sunday were said after the collect etc. of the Saint. This sort of thing went out with Bugnini; it became accepted orthodoxy that you only have one theme at each Mass. This 'Enlightenment' Puritanism swept aside a whole culture, common to Byzantine East as well as to Roman West, of expressing diachronic and synchronic sympathies within the same liturgy. Laurence Hemming has called this 'reform' into question: rightly.

But you would also have had a third collect - a second commemoration - as well as that of the Sunday. A commemoration of the Rogation; because S Mark's Day by ancient Western custom had a Rogation Procession, with Litanies, attached to it. So the prayers from that Mass got a look-in too. Incidentally, you didn't say the conclusion ("Through ...") at the end of each collect; you said it the end of the first; then said again Let Us Pray, followed by the second collect without its conclusion; then (without repeating Let Us Pray) the third collect with its conclusion. (Even earlier forms of the Roman Rite encouraged even more commemorations, but required them to add up to an uneven number).

At the end of next Sunday's Mass of S Mark, the Last Gospel would be read from the Sunday, rather than from the Prologue of S John's Gospel. You did this as a mark of repect to certain important Sundays and Ferias when they had been obscured by a Saintly festival. Thus two important parts of the Sunday Mass: Collect and Gospel - were not lost.

Next ... I'd better finish this later.

22 April 2010

This poor old gentleman

How very bizarre, at a time when, arguably, we are suffering from the unwholesome results of systematic failures among members of the episcopate, that Hans Kueng should issue a rousing summons to the episcopate to take over the Church from the Pope. What planet does this poor old gentleman live on?

More entertainingly, he appears to see ecclesial significance in the 'fact' that he and Professor Ratzinger are the only survivors of Vatican II, and to be summoning Vatican III by virtue of his status as The Alternative.

An antipope? A sedevacantist? Whatever he is, the Anglican Patrimony cries ad ignes.

19 April 2010

MARTURION and the Good Shepherd

During his Inauguration sermon, my recollection is that Benedict XVI, among some other pieces of striking imagery, said something like "Pray that I may not desert the flock for fear of the wolves". I found it rather strange that a Pope at his Inauguration might so foresee the need to be protected by God's grace from falling victim to the temptation to desert his universal flock. Now I wonder whether this good and holy man might have the gift of discernment recorded of some great saints, such as S Philip Neri. The relevance of those words to the present situation might otherwise seem uncanny. And, once again, the Compiler of the Celestial ORDO has added his penniworth: those of you who heard yesterday (or will hear some day this week) the Extraordinary Form and Book of Common Prayer propers, will have heard the Good Shepherd Gospel from S John 10, with its words about the Hireling Shepherd who, when he sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep and flees. In the 2005, this Gospel was read the Sunday before the Inauguration.

Today, however, in the relevant parts of this Kingdom, we said Mass of a martyred pontiff, S Alphege, together with a commemoration pro Papa, on this anniversary day of the Holy Father's Election. I find it thought provoking that the terms Confessor and Martys both mean the same: one who has witnessed to Christ. Only gradually did Confessor mean one whose heroic witness under great trials was not actually unto death. Confessor disappeared from the vocabulary of the Ordinary Form after the Council; understandably, for it had come to mean nothing more than "he was a male and he wasn't killed". Might we not revive the term, and use it for those who witnessed under persecution or exceptional tribulation? Such as John Paul II for his witness in the Marxist decades, and Benedict XVI for his great suffering under the tyranny of aggressive secularism?

18 April 2010

Yet more Burnham

Bishop Andrew (Heaven and Earth in little space) argues that the concept of Eastertide as Fifty Days (a week of weeks) is not subverted by the Pentecost Octave.
There is great significance in the notion of the eighth day, as Alexander Schmeman reminds us. Up to the time of S Basil the Great, Sunday was the 'eighth day': after six days of creation and a day of rest, the resurrection inaugurates the new and eternal day. There were eight people in the Ark, the first letter of S Peter tells us, and Baptism too is salvation through water through the resurrection of Christ. The risen Christ appears after eight days and this makes the liturgical octave fundamental not only to Easter but other feasts too. What is Pentecost but the eighth day after seven times seven weeeks? What is the Pentecost octave but the eighth week after seven times seven weeks?

Lawrence Hemming's Worship as a Revelation began the radical rethink, the genuine post-post-conciliar ressourcement, of liturgical thinking. Anybody concerned with this whole business should put Burnham onto their bookshelves just to the right of Hemming.

17 April 2010

The Shape of Eastertide

In the book which everyone is reading, Bishop Andrew Burnham's Heaven and Earth in Little Space, Monsignore writes:
In any reconsideratiion of the hermeneutic of reform, the post-conciliar refashioning of the liturgical calendar and year, and particularly of the Easter cycle, will inevitably figure. ... there are ... costs in limiting Eastertide to fifty days: the destabilization of Ascension Day, the loss of the Rogation Days, the loss of the Pentecost Octave, the loss of the Pentecost ember days, and some diminishment of Trinity Sunday ... the short season of rogation usually falls early enough in the year to counterpoint with harvest - Rogation asking for a blessing on the cropsand fields and harvest a time to give thanks. Nor is Rogation irrelevant to urban communities: here is a timely reminderfor the needy to pray and to pray for the needy. What is perhaps most concerning is the moving of Ascension Day. There may be communities for which Ascension is feasible only on the Sunday but, in the movability, there is a hint too of some of the reductionist theology of a generation ago ... Moving Ascension to Sunday creates a further problem ... to lose the nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost ... is to obscure the first novena (Acts 1:14) ...

16 April 2010

The Cross again

Very sharp-eyed users of 'Novus' Liturgy in Latin will have noticed from today's Mass that the collect previously offered for today, which was the very collect I referred to in my recent post on commemorating the Cross in Eastertide (April 12), has been replaced in the Third Edition of the Missal by another. I wonder why. (I presume the next edition of the Liturgia Horarum will bring it into line.)

After many hours of agonising, I cut this Gordian Knot by saying an EF Mass of the Five Wounds*. It's the Patrimony; so to remember our first Anglican Catholic Martyrs, the villagers of England who marched beneath its banner, slaughtered by Edward Tudor's armies of mercenaries in 1549.


* Videlicet the Mass Humiliavit, with a couple of phrases added from the Sarum Missal.

Lynch the corrupters! Salvation from Oz!

Bishop Lindsay Urwin, Administrator of the Shrine of our Blessed Lady at Walsingham (an Oz), has sent his thoughts about the pedophile business to all who are Priests Associate of the Holy House. He writes: "There is little doubt that those who see young people primarily as an economic target group deliberately raise their sexual awareness in order to attract their purchasing power ... It won't do for society to think it is protection enough to simply hunt down and punish the individual abusers of children, while ignoring the more subtle, frighteningly acceptable forms of the corporate manipulation of the young that exist today".

He quotes a couple of Oz sociologists: "Being sexy is cool, and that's why even prepubescent girls are being sexualised. The Olsen sisters, who visited Australia in 2003 became famous as cute 5 year old twins in a US sitcom before growing into pouting teenager entrepreneurs promoting sexy lingerie, including matching padded bras and panties to their 6 yo 12 year old fans".

Snap! I noticed, the very same day, at our petrol filling station, the headline of the Sun Newspaper: "PEDO BIKINI TOP". It was about those who sell padded bikini tops to seven year old girlies. That newspaper is a "tabloid" produced by an Oz Press Baron called Murdoch. Bully for Oz, I thought. If an Oz bishop can persuade an Oz tycoon that it is feasible to get the British less-than-literate-classes thinking about the connection between the sexualisation of the young and pedophilia, perhaps there is hope for us.

Then I went to my doctyor for a routine check-up. In the Nurse's Room was a a calendar provided as advertising material by a Pharmaceutical firm. "X IS A SAFE CONTRACEPTIVE ... X CURES YOUR ACNE", it said. QED. At what age, I wondered, do tiny girls suffer from acne?

Bishop Lindsay concludes with another Oz quote: "If adults who are sexually attracted to children are called paedophiles, what do we call adults who set out to make children sexually attractive? Advertising executives".

I wonder if the Dawker is planning the arrest and prosecution of large swathes of industry, PR, Entertainment, and Advertising, for their role in the sexual corruption of the young? And, if not, why not?

15 April 2010

Herr Hitler again

Have just watched, courtesy of Damian T, another of those rather jolly Hitler videos, this time about the Dawker. Some bits ring quite true; for example, the bit about the sniggers in New College SCR behind the back of "Dr Bonkers". I wonder who has blown the ...

The pedophile business deserves to be put in a broader context. In this country we have just experienced a quite bizarre explosion of visceral hysteria (dittography?) about MPs and their expenses. Not so many years ago when Diana Spencer and one of her blokes got themselves killed in a car crash, Tony Blair was obliged to tell poor Brenda (as she is affectionately called in our Satire Community) that if she didn't hurry back to Buck House and grovel, he couldn't guarantee the survival of the Monarchy (I wonder if she and the Sovereign Pontiff will swop experiences in Holyroodhouse). Is there a technical name for such frightening outbursts.

Rather as in Hitler's Germany, one of the nastier facets of these episodes is the willingness of the literate classes, of academics and intellectuals, to collude in or even to stimulate the irrationality of the mob. I wonder why people whose professional methodology ought to include a scrupulosity about facticity and evidence ...

13 April 2010

A very handsome foetus

In his Foreward to Bishop Andrew Burnham's new Heaven and Earth in Little Space: the Re-enchantment of Liturgy, now hitting the bookshops, Fr Aidan Nichols describes the erudite author as
someone who wishes to forward, in the domain of worship, the 'Benedictine' hermeneutic of continuity understood as an optimally rich renewal from the best possible sources. And he wishes to do so, not only in the interests of helping the two existing communions most closely affected - Anglicanism and Rome - but also as a a midwife to a baby yet to be born, an embryonic ecclesia with an Anglican patrimony 'united not absorbed'. That would be a fine addition (we are learning to call them 'the Anglican Ordinariates') to the circle of churches, Western and Eastern, that make up the Great Church, from whose universally primatial see Gregory once sent Augustine to England, to land on the Ebbsfleet shore.

It is a fine tribute to the Bishop of Ebbsfleet's fine book; all the most fittingly so because the learned Dominican has done more than anybody else outside the Church of England, over a couple of decades now, to further the project of Anglicanism repatriated to Catholic Unity. Back in the days when such an idea was a pipe-dream as remote as Scifi, Fr Aidan set the ball rolling with The Panther and the Hind; when nobody else seemed to want us, he sat with a group of us, day after day, helping us as we tried to do theology in that familiar cellar in Gordon Square; he addressed the Forward in Faith Assembly, with memorable elegance, in the Emmanuel Centre at Westminster; he preached a superb retreat in the Close at Salisbury to the Ebbsfleet clergy.

If Bishop Andrew, together with Bishops John and Keith, is one of the midwives ... an excitingly rococo piece of imagery ... then Fr Aidan is undoubtedly the Consultant Obstetrician. Ad multos annos, Magister.

Make sure you read the book.

11 April 2010

More on Gaudium, Spes, and Sex

See the previous post.
Bishop Casey's chaplain, so I was told, was rather surprised to notice, as he drove the Bishop back one evening from some vibrant cultural event, that the Bishop and Mrs Murphy were holding hands in the back of the car. But he assumed that this was the sort of thing which charismatic bishops did after vibrant cultural events. Prurient tourists can now visit the former holiday residence of the Bishops of Kerry, the Red House on the Dingle, where His Excellency and Annie got it together ... it's currently a rather attractive guesthouse.

My suggestion is that the cheerful optimism of the Vatican II period and its aftermath generated a sense that the cobwebs of an old, dark, negative, sex-obsessed Catholicism had indeed been blown away. Out, so people felt, went rules, fear, and the ghost of Dr McQuaid; in came confidence in the goodness of human nature and ... a practical Pelagianism. As the altars and statues, the tabernacles and the altar rails disappeared from cathedrals and churches, there was a sense that the oppression and restriction of an entire old culture with its attendant mores were disappearing too. I think we underestimate the power which cultural discontinuities have in the psyche both of an individual and of a society.

Add to this the fact that from the day that the Council consented to leave the question of "The Pill" to the Pope, until the publication of Humanae vitae, there was de facto a complete practical vacatio legis in this whole moral area. How can you possibly leave an entire Universal Church in doubt about a matter which bears upon the daily sexual lives of millions of couples, without radically undermining the whole concept of discipline within sexuality?

Moreover, it is the job of the Church to counter, in each generation, not heresies which only live in history books, but the errors of the present moment. In a decade strongly marked by a secular sense of sexual liberation, it was a gross pastoral dereliction of this "pastoral" council that it failed to speak out with with strong warnings or even with anathemas (the cultural inadequacy of the relevant paragraphs in Gaudium et Spes is demonstrated by the fact that they are rarely discussed, whether by those who favour or those who oppose traditional teaching). The fact is that 'pastoral' care of Christ's flock implies and does require warning them against dangers; just as Railtrack would be seriously negligent if they failed to put warning notices around their high-speed tracks.

But anathemas and the wagging of an admonitory forefinger were not in the ethos of the cheerful, optimistic, aggiornamento of the Council; and still less were they elements in the subsequent era of the Council's 'Spirit'.

In terms of media scandal, Casey was the first swallow of this unwholesome summer. Switching metaphors, I suggest that the pedophile scandal represents the return to roost of quite a lot of conciliar chickens ... including some liturgical fouls.

Mgr Gherardini's book is to be distributed by Maurice Marshall at Carmel Books Exeter.

10 April 2010

Gaudium, Spes, and Sex

As you walk beside the lake at Killarney, if you look towards the town you will see a view that looks quite spookily like John Constable's picture of Salisbury Cathedral across the English watermeadows; a Pugin Cathedral romantically discerned across Kerry watermeadows. It was built under the auspices of the Catholic Viscounts Kenmare (a Jacobite viscountcy), who kept the Faith through the darkest periods, and also managed to retain their property and to thwart the anti-recusancy laws by the deft mechanism of only having one male heir in each generation.

Go and look inside it: and you will get a rude shock. Virtually all the rich 'Victorian' furnishings and decorations have been stripped out, leaving bare walls of crude stone and rough brickwork, which the architect never intended to be seen without a covering of plaster. Very few of the fittings remain. The tabernacle has been replaced by a dumpy 'sacrament house' which the tourists stroll around and, unaware that it asserts any sacrality, prod and poke at.

A long time ago now, when I first looked inside this once great church, I got talking with a group of admirable Irish crones. They had graphic accounts of the spoliation: great skips outside the Cathedral filled with smashed statuary and marble altar rails. Although I thought I knew the answer, I asked a question. "Who did this?" They pursed their lips ... and then confirmed my suspicions.

Eamonn Casey, Bishop of Kerry before he was translated to Galway and from there into international scandal, was one of the most charismatic young bishops of the post-conciliar period. He was loved and admired, and he sponsored not a few churches in the idiom of the 1960s. He opened the windows and blew out the cobwebs and brought his diocese into modernity.

He also met Anne Murphy, an American divorcee.

To be continued.

8 April 2010

Gaudium et ... er ... Spes

Mgr Gherardini has written a fascinating book; not flawless in content (at one point he or his translator alarmingly confuses Plato with Socrates; and his references to the Malines Conversations are a mess) or in style, but always thought-provoking.

He reminds us that in Gaudium et Spes "the Council Fathers wasted a great deal of time and thought in order to decipher what the actual culture of the day might be ... Their analysis almost always remained generic, superficial, and redundant".

Indeed. My own feeling is that the Council was guilty of a radical failure in its attempt to Discern the Times. The 1960s were in many ways an attractive era; but the seeds of the horrors which were to come to maturity in the next half-century were already present. The holocaust of the unborn was already a legislative probability. The trajectory which was to lead to the affirmation of heterosexual and homosexual moral disorders as normality, was already fairly clear. Events in the Congo had already given clear indications of the genocidal possibilities inherent in the dissolution of Empire. But warnings and condemnations were quite simply not what the Council wanted to utter; so there was very little attempt to describe and analyse what might just possibly be dangerous or even just plain wrong with the newly emerging world.

With the advantage of hindsight, we can see that the only document of that period which demonstrated any foresight and put in place any caveats was Humanae Vitae.

Which was not a product of the collective wisdom and collegial processes of the Fathers of the Council, but an action of a Roman Pontiff acting solus.

I find that rather thought-provoking.

7 April 2010

More Gherardini on Vatican II

"There was a heedless and unfounded optimism; the capsizing of perspective, which no longer came from above towards what was below, but vice versa with a perspective starting from an unlimited confidence in man; the clouding of the sacred; a false and dangerous irenicism; the spirit of good nature and cooperation with opposing forces; the deconsecration of, and simultaneously, the adoration of certain aspects of creation - above all, of freedom. The Trojan horse was not, properly speaking, the collection of the conciliar documents, but the ideas of certain pressure groups which succeeded in infiltrating the conciliar hall and determining the line of the progressive maturation which consequently flowed out into the post-conciliar culture. The 'sin' of the Council Fathers, therefore, at least the vast majority of them, was not of the formal type 'of full recognition and deliberate consent', but rather the material sin of 'lack of recognition', of levity, of superficial and exaggerated optimism, of good faith on a personal level."

My own (loquitur JWH) view is that the liberals won decisive victories whenever, by craftily arguing that the Curia was trying to dictate to the Council, they managed to persuade the Fathers to discard curial drafts in favour of liberal drafts. We all know how crucial it is to secure the bridgehead of providing the draft which is the basis of discussion; even if you don't always get your way in the ensuing wheeling and dealing, you have at least set the parameters. With luck, you end up with people unhappy about the entire basic culture and presuppositions of the document before them, but reluctantly signing it because they can't quite see what amendments of detail would put things right. That is why - however SSPX tries to get round it - Mgr Lefebvre and very many others did sign the Decree on Religious Liberty while aware they they were being taken for a ride.

6 April 2010

Shucks on you ...

(a good Americanism, yes? have I got it right? is this what they say in Texas?) if you haven't by now read Mgr Gherardini's book on Vatican II (see earlier post). Among his perceptions (it's obvious if you think about it, but it hadn't occurred to me) is this nice point: those who claim that Vatican II is a completely new start for the Church ... a rupture with what was in the past ... are in exactly the same error as the sedevacantists (those who claim that the postconciliar Church is so mired in heresy that no pope since Pius XII is a legitimate occupant of the cathedra Petri). They are two sides of the same heterodox coin, in as far as they both claim that "Vatican II is outside of and contrary to the Church".

Perhaps the strongest part of Monsignore's book is where he establishes this. Those who apply a hermeneutic of rupture to Vatican II are in fact in the position of arguing that a lot of its words are traditional garbage just repeated for the form of it: the bits that really matter are those which are different or - at least - point or hint at something revolutionary. This is exactly the heretical myth with which adherents of the Protestant superstition surround the so-called 'Reformation'. In my college in Oxford, tucked away in a dark old room, is a picture of the 'Reformers', each with a flame upon his head - just like the Apostles at Pentecost. It is something of a Sin against the Holy Spirit to deny that it guides and guards each generation of the Church, and to claim instead that the Church has gone so totally off the rails that she needs a radical New Start or New Pentecost. This has been the root heresy of such diverse groups as Reformation Protestantism; the Mormons with their even newer Testament; the inventors of Feminist Theology; the German Christians who evicted from their Bible both Moses and the Jew from Galilee.

Mgr Gherardini points out that, since Vatican II claimed textually to be folllowing Tradition, the Hermeneutic of Rupture "distanced itself from the very Council it interpreted. And if some pale connection was maintained with Vatican II, it was only in order to celebrate the year 'zero' of the 'new beginning'".

To be continued.

5 April 2010

Red Socks

Or whatever. Whatever does Rounders, about which Fr "Zed" has done a post, have to do with What the Prayer Really Means, or with "Catholic Affairs" in general? You won't catch me in such irrelevances, even though Pam and I did stroll with daughter Katie to the Parks today to watch the University against Northamptonshire. Truth to tell, Oxford cricket doesn't seem to have the same style to it as when we were undergraduates, in an era when our contemporary the Nawab of Pataudi was big in University ... and, for that matter, international ... cricket. Those were the days, when Indian and African noblemen lent zest to undergraduate life; before the University propositioned yankeedom with the vulgar plea "Send us your money and your daughters".

Then we went to the University Museum so that I could show my womenfolk a Mockingbird ... but cases were being rearranged and stuffed birds were Off. When I found a rattlesnake, it was broken in half. What is the University of Oxford coming to? But my Texan friends may be reassured to know that I did find a couple of very fetching and completely undamaged Horned Frogs.

Happy days return

Happily, the Sovereign Pontiff didn't pander to the media by refering to you-know-what in his Easter Sermon. I repeat a point I have made before: hearing Benedict XVI, you feel that the 'Patristic Period' is still with us. I suppose that's why he shares our affection for Newman (memories here of the uxorious Manning damning Newman with the words 'the same old Oxford Patristic tone'). Incidentally, his Vigil Sermon struck a personal chord with Pam and me: last time we had a Cornish break, we read together the Cornish texts (the 'Ordinalia') in which the old pun eleos/elaios* is turned into the story of the Oil of Mercy which Adam desires on his death-bed.

I specially liked the bit in his polyglot Easter greetings where the Holy Father started the Filipino greeting; all the Filipino ladies in the crowd began shrilling; he broke off and gave that lovely shy smile; then waved; then continued. Incidentally, I hear rumours that in the congregation at S Magnus the Martyr, from which you got those Ex Fide pictures of the pre-Pius XII Holy Week rites, the number of Filipino ladies grows.

I regard them as an essential part of the Patrimony. I wish I knew how to get a couple of dozen of them for S Thomas's.

*Eleos, Greek for Mercy (it's the root you know from Kyrie eleison); Elaion, pronounced in Koine Greek Eleon (so that they are phonetically indistinguishable in the oblique cases), Oil.

Canon of S Peter's calls for review of Vatican II

Perhaps, amid all the press and hubbub of Easter, you might have noticed, with the Sovereign Pontiff at S Peter's, the 85-year old but sprightly figure of Mgr Canon Brunero Gherardini ... whose many distinctions include that of being a consultor of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and a professorship in the Pontifical Lateran University. Monsignore published last year Concilio Ecumenico Vaticano II: Un discorso da fare. This has now appeared in an English Translation as The Ecumenical Vatican Council II A MUCH NEEDED DISCUSSION. It is published by the Casa Mariana Editrice, who offer not an ISBN number but an email address: cm.editrice@immacolata.ws

The sharp-eyed will notice that this publication is due to the Franciscans of the Immaculate; the rapidly growing order of friars, pictures of whose ordination of new friars (what Fr Zed would call eye-candy) in some pokey little place called All Saints Florence appeared on NLM only last week (needless to say, the superb set of nearly a hundred images is due to an Anglican seminarian, the soon-to-be-Fr James Bradley). Their corresponding order of sisters have provided, of course, the vibrant young community at the ancient Cornish recusant house of Lanhearne (in which the reservation of the Sacrament of our Lord's love has never ceased since before the Reformation). This new family of Extraordinary Form religious are to be much thanked for making such an important book available to a wide public.

My blog, of course, has often referred to the large amount of work to be done with regard to the authentic siting of Vatican II in the life of the Church. This too is the implication of our Holy Father's emphasis on a hermeneutic of continuity (these words actually mean something; they are not simply the title of England's premier Catholic Blog!). That Council can only logically be seen as a phenomenon which was in continuity with the (antecedent) unbroken tradition of the Church. But it is one thing to assert this important principle; quite another to demonstrate such continuity by an engagement with the texts of Vatican II side by side with earlier and reiterated statements of the Magisterium.

The Vatican and SSPX are at this moment getting down to this very task in deadly secret. I understand some reasons for this secrecy, but I am a little unhappy about it. The question concerned is perhaps the biggest task facing Benedict XVI's slimmed-down Church, because it involves nothing less than the reintegration of the Church's dogmatic theology after the disorders of the second half of the twentieth century.

You can't be a fly on the wall as the SSPX discussions take place, but the admirable Franciscans of the Immaculate have given you the opportunity of doing your own study of this question in parallel with the Vatican negotiations. It's not just me that suggests this; no lesser figure than Mgr Fellay has made a similar point.

I shall be returning to this book.

Get it and read it. You're already out-of-date if you haven't done so.

4 April 2010

Haec dies ...

This is the Day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Words dating from a Rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem; and inspired by YHWH to refer to His New Temple, the Lord's Body, which he promised he would raise up in three days after His Enemies had destroyed it.

There is so much in this that it is not surprising that the Western Church considered it to make Hymns, Capitula, Responsoria redundant.

Would this be a good 'ejaculatory prayer' to keep saying during the festa Paschalia: that is, until the First Evensong of Low Sunday? Something to interpolate into the daily Rosary?

A very Happy Easter to all Readers.

3 April 2010


Ex Fide blog for superb pictures and good brief explanations of the Real (pre-Pius XII) Holy Week rites, and details of their newly made black set with Spanish Cut folded chazzies. Knocks NLM for six.

On Good Friday, should the Altar Cross have been veiled black, just as on Maundy Thursday it is white? Or am I imagining this?

1 April 2010

Benedict XVI

I nearly ignored this because I don't normally bother with Lutheran things. But this is IMPORTANT. The dictatorship of Relativism, by John Stephenson, LOGIA March 31. Read it ALL.

Leering old villains of the world unite in frocks

April 1. I sometimes worry that the title "All Fools Day" is a trifle over-general and unspecific. Perhaps we should rename today Dawkins Day, in perpetuam rei memoriam, as Roman Pontiffs put it.

I do hope you won't forget the Dawker's memorable description (see my heading) of our Holy Father. There is so much there - as the great Fr Zed would put it - to drill into.

Trousers, as I understand it, irrupted upon the scene when the Barbarians invaded the decaying Roman Imperium. We clergy, when properly clad, have never quite reconciled ourselves to this nasty innovation. It's not only us, however. In the Middle East as in very many parts of the world, the traditional dress for all men no less than for women is frockish. Trousers only marched in when Western Imperialism planted its economic and military feet around the globe. And today, trousers are a symbol of Western Cultural Imperialism; whether worn by male bankers or by abortifacient women flocking to International Conferences on Reproductive Health Care, or whatever it's called.

Tear off your Trousers; on to the bonfire with them. You know it makes sense. Destroy this symbol of the Vandals and the Goths, and of those who transplanted the deathly values of the 'Enlightenment' into country after country, continent after continent. And if this seems a dauntingly large enterprise, well, as Fr Zed (how that man has left his mark upon us all) so wisely puts it, Brick By Brick. We could begin with something really quite modest and specific; as a sort of proleptic synecdoche, we could debag the Dawker.


If some pedant comments that the Vandals didn't really wear trousers, I shall delete him. After all, this is April 1, and, like the Dawker, I'm in no mood for facts or logic.