28 May 2010

Keep it White

After my offer (on Pentecost Sunday) of a creative solution to Whit Week, I offer today some thoughts about the first couple of Sundays after Trinity. Corpus Christ, of course, will be celebrated by all right-thinking people on the Thursday after Trinity, but here in S Thomas's we shall also keep an 'External Solemnity' on the following Sunday, with a Sung Mass of the feast. The unreformed Roman Rite was quite generous in its provision of permissions to celebrate such external solemnities and, of course, back in the good old days of Octaves, you did it anyway under the guise of observing a Sunday Within The Octave (I find it very liberating to have the admirable St Lawrence Press ORDO in my Sacristy).

You know what I'm about to say: on the following Sunday I shall do the same with the Sacred Heart. Quite right. You know it makes sense. I deem this a relaxed and creative appropriation of the Tradition.

26 May 2010

Christus Sacerdos Aeternus

If those who use Anglican forms of the Office desire to celebrate Christ the Priest on the Thursday after Pentecost, they might care to consider the following propers;
[1EP Pss 23, 42, 43; Levit 16:1-14; Heb 4:14-5:10.]
MP Pss 110, 111, Gen 14:14-20; Heb 6:19-7:end.
2EP Ps 116; Exod 24:1-11; Heb 9:6-end.

Has anybody heard any more about this idea since the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship said he was going to supplicate the Holy Father for this feast, as a permanent mnemosune of the Year of the Priest?

23 May 2010

Pentecost Green

NLM has an interesting post on the use, by some Byzantines, of green as the liturgical colour of Pentecost. This reminds me of the lovely Postcommunion in the (EF) Roman Rite, about the inpouring of the Holy Spirit; the inward sprinkling of His dew; and the fecundity this brings.

You won't be surprised to be reminded that Bishop "Trautmann" objects strongly to all this stuff about the Dew of the Spirit.

Whit Week

I know that the week which begins today, Pentecost Sunday, ought to be the Octave of Pentecost. But ... for a moment ... I make a proposal about the Real (postconciliar) World.

The New Office invented, for the Octave of Christmass, the idea of celebrating a Saint at Morning Prayer etc; but of keeping the Octave at Vespers. Taking a leaf out of this book, next week those of you who possesss preconciliar breviaries could use your postconciliar books for Mass, Morning Prayer etc.; but for Vespers say the Vespers of the Octave from your Breviary. It is of course permitted to do this chopping-and-changing by the decree authorising the Liturgia Horarum.

This expedient would to a degree preserve the Octave while enabling you to share some commonality with the Novus Ordo Church - which will be celebrating some rather dishy Saints this week, including S Philip, S Augustine, S Bede ...


BTW, I suspect that the Oratories will, on Tuesday infra Octavam, be having Old Rite First Vespers ... but of S Philip. Is this strictly licit?

Welcome to Hind Street!

That was the liturgical opening of the Sunday Morning service on Radio 4. It was a service to celebrate, first, the 200th anniversary of this Methodist church. Not "In the name of Father Son and Spirit". Not "The Lord be with you", with its subtext of the power of the Spirit. Not even some unliturgical, charismatic and spontaneous proclamation of the Spirit's power.

I think that said all that needs to be said about the ... er ... spirit of post-Christian post-Protestant English folk-religion. And about the difference between Catholicism and such folk-religion.

22 May 2010

Good News

I expect that, even in foreign parts, friends may have read of a piece of good news to emerge from the British General Election. One of our Oxford MPs (City of Oxford; the University Members were abolished half a century ago), Dr Evan Harris, was defeated by a very narrow margin.

This could hardly fail to be good news, whoever defeated him. He is one of the best-known adherents of the Death Cause in English politics (he could justly take upon his lips C S Lewis's neat imitatio cum variatione of a biblical phrase: "I have come that you might have Death, and have it more abundantly"). He is particularly enthusiastic about abortion.

I once asked him: "We Christians can't always vote for somebody who is soundly with us on Life and moral issues; often it is a matter of voting for the lesser of the evils. So that I can estimate how extreme a pro-abortionist you are, could you answer this: would you be in favour of rules providing that, when a foetus very nearly at full term, with its nervous system fully capable of feeling pain, is to be killed, it should first be anaesthetised, before being dismembered or having its cranium opened for its brain to be vacuumed out?"

He looked me straight in the eye and replied "Not if it might upset the woman".

He was defeated by a woman with evangelical Christian antecedents. There is a very real possibility that Christian votes helped to achieve this. Deo et Deiparae Virgini gratias.

21 May 2010

Bl John Henry Newman

An appeal to those In the Know and who Have Connections. Someone will be/already has finished composing propers for John Henry Newman; to be used at and after his Beatification. I hope they will be composed in Latin (in this day and age, in fact, they ought to be composed simultaneously in both [the most relevant] vernacular, and in Latin, so that both versions say the same thing and each is a nice piece of Liturgy in its respective tongue).

Can someone slip me copies ... either now or as soon as they get them?

19 May 2010

The Great Lanherne Treasure

Reverend Mother (see the two last posts) passed out to us through the Turn the large relic of S Cuthbert Mayne. S Cuthbert was a West Country man (born near Barnstaple) who, in many ways, provides the link between the Catholic Renaissance of Queen Mary's reign, and the Recusant culture that followed the apostasy of Elizabeth Tudor. He got his education in Elizabeth's time at S John's College Oxford, which had been founded as a place of Catholic renewal in the previous reign. Although outwardly conforming to the new regime, S John's, even more than the rest of Oxford, long remained secretly devoted to the old Faith, which was kept alive and vigorously taught there (another son of this college was to be William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, martyred by the Puritans in the 1640s). Mayne learned the Faith at S John's and then went to the new College at Douai for his priestly formation. He returned to England and ministered in the South West; eventually he was captured and after the customary torture hanged, drawn and quartered at Launceston (then the 'capital' of Cornwall) in 1577.

His head was exposed on a pike at Wadebridge, not far from Lanherne, and rescued from there by one of the Arundells. The crown of the skull is kept in the Sisters' choir of the Chapel at Lanherne, a light constantly burning before it. This relic we venerated and were blessed with; and then we passed it back through the Turn! Mother also very graciously sent us Miraculous Medals.

The Tridentine Mass which S Cuthbert brought to England - he was the Protomartyr of the Seminaries - is still celebrated, honoured and loved at Lanherne. I pray that the sundered traditions of English Catholicism may, by his intercession, and by the prayers of the Sisters of the Immaculate at Lanherne, be reunited. This, surely, is what the Ordinariate scheme is all about?

18 May 2010


The little house at Lanherne, tucked away in its magical Cornish valley between S Columb and the sea (see last post), is no longer the home of Arundells (a branch of which family does survive at Wardour Castle). Throughout the Penal period, it was a recusant house - it is said that at no time did the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar cease to be reserved and honoured there. But the Lanherne Arundells died out towards the end of the eighteenth century, and the House was then converted into a Carmel; occupied by a Carmelite community of English women who had been in Antwerp since 1619, and returned to their native land in 1794, during the disorders of the Revolutionary period.

But the twentieth century brought a decline in vocations, and the few remaining Carmelite sisters have joined another Carmel in the North of England. Their House is now occupied by the Sisters of the Immaculate: one of those young, vibrant communities which have sprung up during the new spring of the last and of this Pontificate. They have adopted the liturgical books of 1962, and found professores to teach them Liturgy and Latin. By the kindness of one of these, a priest who is dear friend of mine, we met Reverend Mother and Sister Vicar. Sitting our side of the double grill in the Parlour, we heard about the energy and devotion of this young community of thirteen, about their formation and charism. I felt particularly at home with them, since they are devoted to that great master of the spiritual life, S Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, and to his teaching about Consecration to Jesus through Mary (yes, he is the chappie who was so important to Venerable John Paul II and who provided that Pontiff's motto Totus tuus). The sisters have a Marian vow - that our Lady may do with them whatever she wills - to complement the three Religious vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience; and, said Mother, "We treat that as our first vow".

Pam and I and Fr X had tea our side of the grill, passed though the Turn beforehand by Mother. After tea, Mother very graciously - it was entirely her idea - suggested passing out to us, through the Turn, the greatest treasure of her House ... Continues.

16 May 2010

lectionary systems

It is difficult to read a new book on Liturgy (have you bought Burnham yet?) without coming across suggestions about the reintegration of the ancient Western cursus of Sunday Eucharistic readings as we find it in the EF and (with a dislocation or two) the BCP. Here is Hunwicke's view, arising out of many years of ORDO compiling.

Make the traddy cursus a fourth option - D to follow on from A, B, and C (it could be allowed additionally to be used optionally in place of any of the other three, just as those long Lenten Johannine Gospels in year A are permitted in other years too).

Practically, this would reduce the number of different combinations of the Sunday Three Year Cycle with the Weekday Two Year Cycle which we poor lectionary compilers have to juggle with. At the moment we have A1, B2, C1, A2, B1, C2 - six possibilities. Under my scheme we would only have four combinations: A1, B2, C1, D2. And, since, for example, Sunday Year A would always coincide with Weekday Year 1, it would make some fine tuning possible, to avoid duplications between the two systems or to open up some intertextualities, for those who still hunger for 'improvements'.

It is conceivable that clergy would come under pressure to favour the D cycle from lay people anxious to soak themselves in the Old Testament through their private Bible Study rather than through the public worship of the Church.

And if the old series of Sunday Collects were made optionally permissible, both forms of the Roman Rite would be able to feed each other.

All sorts of interesting pennies could drop as to why such a reading in the D cursus crops up at such a time of the year ... for example, why Luke 5 (the Gospel of Pentecost IV and Trinity V) comes near 'Petertide'.