31 December 2010

Lose some, win some

In a minute's time, at midnight, clergy and laity in the Ebbsfleet, Richborough, and Fulham Apostolic Districts all suddenly become sedevacantist.

This may not constitute the End of the World.

The Bishop of Beverley, it seems, has cast himself in the role occupied in 1559 by Anthony Kitchin, Bishop of Llandaff. He should never have been made a PEV. People who have done time in the mainstream as suffragans are ipso facto unsuitable.

Indeed, the entire Northern Province appears to have entered a status in partibus infidelium. It clearly needs a new S Wilfrid to bring it tidings of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Faith. Orthodoxy abhors a vacuum.

Public School head masters ...

... how they do run for cover, like a lot of wee timorous conies.

The head of Clifton College, anxious to distance his establishment from a member of his CR who retired in 2001 and is now suspected of an offence, said that very few of the (present) teaching staff would ever have met him.

Really? Has there been a near-complete turnover at Clifton in only ten years?

It must be a pretty dodgy school if nobody wants to stay there teaching, or if masters have to be sacked for incompetence with such frequency that there is almost nobody there now who taught there before 2001.

How very droll, head master.

Pull the other one, head master.

29 December 2010

...Logotheta ...

Some good stuff on that thread.


I have been rereading the 2003 article by the Byzantinist liturgical scholar and Jesuit, Fr Robert Taft, which deals with the 2001 Decision of three Roman dikasteries and of Pope John Paul II with regard to sacramental exchange between the Assyrian ("Nestorian") Church and the Churches in unity with Rome. You will remember that this Agreement adopted the principle that the Anaphora of Ss Addai and Mari, which lacks Words of Institution, was nevertheless sufficient for a valid Eucharist.

You get here a rather embarassing conflict between two different concepts of "Tradition". There can be a "narrower" view (in this case the instence in the Latin Churches that the Words are essential to Consecration*). "Traditionalists" can point to enactments of a more recent Magisterium which appear to offer strong support to the "narrower" view. On the other hand, it is possible to take a "broader" view (such as that adopted by the Vatican in 2001 and supported by Taft) which looks at undoubtedly "magisterial" facts such as the acceptance by the Roman Church for centuries of the sufficiency of Eucharistic Prayers which lack the Words. Each of these viewpoints can with considerable plausibility claim the support of both Tradition and Magisterium.

Advocates of the "narrower" view could attempt to trump the "broader" by pointing out
(1) that Tradition develops; so that what Pius VII said in 1822, being later than the praxis of the first millennium, is more "refined", ergo more "definitive"; and
(2) that the early centuries developed consensuses which it is not now open to us to unpick: such as the Canon of Scripture and the Threefold Ministry.
They could then plausibly argue that certain minimum ingredients, or structures, in a Eucharistic Prayer have that same degree of immutable canonicity. Taft, in my view, fails to acknowledge the strength of such arguments as these.
To these considerations I would add another: the Narrative of the Last Supper constitutes the only pericope in the entire Pauline Corpus giving a detailed account - words and actions - of an episode in the incarnate life of the Word. S Paul tells us that he had handed on to his Corinthian converts the Narrative which he had himself received. This is very far from proving that the Narrative was part of a 'Pauline' Eucharistic Prayer ... but ... it does make one wonder.

Nevertheless, I find it difficult to dispute the position adopted by the Magisterium in 2001 and vindicated in Taft's paper. An example of a 'magisterial' enactment which everybody for centuries has been anxious either to forget or to bury: the Decretum pro Armeniis of 1442 laid it down (among other things, such as the consecratory nature of the Words) that the Porrectio Instrumentorum is the Matter of the Sacrament of Order. But not only has this decree been treated as of no effect by both Leo XIII and Pius XII, it was not even viable in its own day - since the praxis of the See of Peter then, before then, and after then, was to accept that the Orders of all the Eastern Churches were valid despite their lack of this 'matter'. Taft deals with such impasses by elaborating what he calls principles of "ecumenical scholarship". Before we succumb to the temptation to See Red at this invocation of the divisive crunch word "ecumenical", I think we need to be fairly sure that we have a solution up our own sleeves which is better than his. I must confess that I do not.

Interestingly, in Taft's "Priciples of Ecumenical theology" there are some sections [my italics] which seem to me to relate not a little to the question of the Ordination of Women.
(1) The theological foundation for this method is our faith that the Holy Spirit is with God's Church, protecting the integrity of its witness, above all in the centuries of its undivided unity ...
(2) Secondly, the Catholic Church recognises the Eastern Churches to be the historic apostolic Christianity of the East, and Sister Churches of the Catholic Church. Consequently, no view of Christian tradition can be considered anything but partial that does not take full account of the age-old, traditional teaching of these Sister Churches. Any theology must be measured not only against the common tradition of the undivided Church, but also against the on-going witness of the Spirit-filled apostolic tradition of the East ...
(4) Those who have unilaterally modified a commonly accepted tradition of the undivided Church bear the principal responsibility for any divisions caused thereby ...

It is worthy of note that the innovations favoured by some Anglicans in the matter of women in sacerdotal ministry run directly contrary to an emerging ecumenical methodology the dynamic of which is to reconcile the Churches in full Communion with the Roman See of Peter with those ancient bodies which lack the fulness of that communion. The Anglican ecclesial community is thus navigating away, not just from the current magisterial locus of the Roman See, but from an ecumenical construct which, if anything, is even broader, and yet more ancient, and with greater testimonies from the Spirit-filled life all the Ancient Churches, than we ourselves have claimed.

The advocates of such innovations have long-since made up their minds upon the basis of considerations which lack any awareness of such points as I make above. The time for rational argument with them has long since passed ... even if, given the blind dogmatism of our opponents, it ever existed. But it is natural for Anglicans considering an Ordinariate solution to be quite clear about the imperatives which drive them; imperatives which are broader and more fundamental than even we ourselves claim.


* The Order of Communion of 1548 and the Prayer Book of 1662 reveal that the Church of England is doctrinally committed to the narrowest conceivable expression of this Western convention; Consecration is effected simply by reading the paragraph [Jesus Christus] pridie quam ... Corpus meum.

28 December 2010

Invisible Saints

On my desk lie several ORDOs; I have just looked at the admirable S Laurence Press ORDO and the less admirable SSPX product*. On Sunday after Christmas ... back in those happy days before the Holy Family had migrated from Epiphany I to Christmas I ... SLP, reflecting the pre-Pius XII usage, gives S Stephen. SSPX, following the Bugnini dislike of Saints on Sundays, gives the Sunday (which SLP transfers to the free feria of Thursday; I wonder what the antiquity of this usage is and what readers think of it). SSPX does at least, unlike post-conciliar calendars, allow S Stephen a commemoration. Common Worship continues an Anglican tradition of allowing Saints to supersede Sundays except on Sundays in Advent, Easter and Lent ... or to be superseded and transferred ad lib to a free weekday. In fact, the earlier Anglican custom, dating from the 1928 Prayer Book Calendar (when full provision first began to be made for occurences and concurrences) and in use de facto until the reforms of 1967-1980, followed the pre-Bugnini Roman practice of favouring the Saint. There has been thus a consistent bias in the Anglican Patrimony of being more relaxed about Saints on Sundays than Roman tinkerers are.

Bishop Andrew Burnham's book commends this Anglican instinct. It has practical and didactic advantages: under the modern Roman system, Sunday worshippers never get exposed to all those Saints' days. Theologically, it might be pointed out that each time martyr sheds his blood in witness, this is an entering into, and expression of, the Pascha of the Lord's Suffering and of his Entrance into Glory; and is thus by no means unsuitable to be commemorated on a Sunday.


*I would be very happy to have look at the American SSPX ORDO, which is at least in Latin rather than in some degenerate Gallic Romance dialect. But Angelus press tell me that the packaging would make it prohibitively expensive for them to send me a review copy.

22 December 2010


As the people of the Three Kingdoms* shovel the unseasonal snow off their cars and listen on their radios to the journalists speculating on the newest attempts to combat Global Warming, I marvel that they accept these contradictions with such dazed passivity. (What is the Official Explanation? Is it the old notion that Warming will make the polar ice-cap disgorge massive icebergs which will then divert the Gulf Stream from our shores?) Happily, someone has dug up a piece from the Indescribably Boring in March 2000 about how Global Warming means that snow is pretty well a thing of the past as far as Britain is concerned. It cites the gurus of the Climatic Research Unit at the soi disant University of East Anglia as saying that snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event". (I rather think that these may be the jokers who got their fingers badly burned a few months ago when leaked emails led to unkind suggestions that they were doing an amusing line in suppressio veri.)

I went agnostic on all this business a few months ago, when the politically correct classes used the infallibility inherent in their new secular Magisterium to condemn "Global Warming Deniers"; these people are presumably to be reprobated and, soon, to be imprisoned, just like those daft Holocaust Deniers (I emphatically state that I do not myself also question the overwhelming evidence about the appalling genocide, a crime easily comparable with the Armenian and Stalinist genocides of the last century, inflicted upon the Jews during the Hitler years).

I wonder if readers would like to construct a Tridentine-style anathema to express the newly defined heresy of Global Warming Denial? Or, if there is a difference, Climate Change Denial? To remind you of the genre, I offer my own attempt at an anathema to condemn Holocaust deniers.

Si quis negaverit sexagiens centena milia* Hebraeorum malevolentia Imperii Germanici Tertii per annos belli quod Alterum et Universale nuncupatur interempta esse: ANATHEMA SIT.


*Three Kingdoms: the old way speaking about the British Isles - the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland; technically obsolete (except among Jacobites who regard all 'statutes' since 1688 as null) since 1707 but still found in the pages of Jane Austen. Sexagiens etc. ... er ... is this how one does 6,000,000? The Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis offers milio and attributes it to Helfer.

21 December 2010


I don't know if you spot this too: it is uncanny how often the Pope mentions something in the Old Calendar or the traditional euchology. I'm sure that he has imposed upon himself a self-denying discipline of always using the Ordinary Form (until SSPX conform?) for his public and private masses. But he undoubtedly keeps an eye on Tradition. In his allocution to the Roman Curia, he repeated over and over again the phrase Excita Domine potentiam tuam et veni; although all those splendid old Excita collects were shifted off the Sundays of Advent by Bugnini's semi-Pelagian sidekicks. Another example: yesterday the Vatican Information Service quoted his words about S Thomas the Apostle.

It is, of course, pure chance that S Thomas the Apostle, in the Traditional Calendar, comes on December 21, just before Christmas; "Interrupting", as Dr Bugnini primly put it, "the series of the Great Ferias of Advent". My problem with the rational transference of the Apostle to July is that he seems an admirable Patron Saint of Christmas ... if you can get your minds round that rather bizarre formulation.

The old Roman Mass-texts for Christmas are full of Light; there is poured upon us the new light of the Incarnate Word; God has made this most sacred Night bright with the shining of the True Light; we know the Mysteries of His Light on Earth; the new Light of His brightness has shone upon our minds. This reminds us of the theme of Illumination which the Tradition has always associated with Initiation. So the Baptised might be called the Illuminati; the Johannine pericope of the Healing of the Man Blind from Birth may be part of the Lenten propers preparing for Easter Night. Faith is Enlightenment; Faith is when the penny drops and we see everything rearranged in a new pattern; Faith is not so much the infusion by miraculous means of knowledge inaccessible by natural means as the radical restructuring of what the Carnal Man knows, but knows blindly. S Thomas saw the Risen Lord and thus saw all things differently, saw that the Rabbi of Nazareth was My Lord and My God.

Dom Gregory Dix talked about becoming what you are. Baptised we may be; yet our Illumination is not a static episode in the past but a becoming which is part of our daily being. We are never finished with the growth into seeing reality as God its creator created it and sees it.

19 December 2010

Imperial plurals

In my beautiful, red leather, Missale Romanum (e Typographia Haniquiana), 1840, last Saturday's festival of the Expectation of the Childbearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary is marked in the Missae Sanctorum celebrandae aliquibus in locis ex indulto Apostolico as "Pro omnibus Hispaniarum Regi subjectis" ("For all the subjects of the King of the Spains").

Am I right in suspecting that the idea of using plurals when referring to a King of a world-wide empire began with His Most Catholic Majesty? That Third Rome then cribbed it ("Autocrat of all the Russias")? And that after dear Dizzy had proclaimed his lady friend Empress of India, the people in charge of the inscriptions on our coins adopted it: "Britanniarum omnium Regina Indiae Imperatrix" ("Queen of all the Britains, Empress of India"*)? Or had the Hanoverians used it previously? Are there other examples?


*I think I am right in recalling that the Director General of the British Museum, in his recent "History of the World in 100 Objects" series, translated it as " ... of all Britain". There's Art Historians for you. Show them the simplest piece of Latin and you can infallibly rely upon them to mistranslate it.

17 December 2010

This will certainly save her life

I think I saw that Dr Dawkins had put his name to the appeal on behalf of the Iranian woman under sentence of death. Just imagine how that will move and impress the Ayatollahs. "Goodness Gracious! The leading British atheist is one of her friends! Release her immediately!"

15 December 2010


A grateful ThankYou to the anonymous friend who sent a very kind and generous Mass stipend for EF requiems for the repose of their late parents. I was most touched. I shall say eight such Masses between now and the end of January. Quorum animabus propitietur Deus.

14 December 2010

Capital punishment

Make no mistake, I am opposed to Capital Punishment for the reasons set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But when I see an Appeal signed by the Great and the Good, demanding clemency for an Iranian woman sentenced to be stoned for adultery and murder, it makes me wonder if the Great and the Good are barking mad. This missive is addressed to a state which claims to be Islamic and to follow Islamic Law. Moreover, it is a state which is trying to achieve parity of nuclear menace with the state of Israel. Yet the Appeal numbers among its signatories ... well-known Jews and women notorious for their life-style.

Would it not be more likely to be taken seriously by the Iranian Government if it did not flaunt the support of Jews and of immoral women? Or are the Great and the Good more concerned to polish and display their Greatness and Goodness before their own admiring Western media than to save this poor woman's life?

13 December 2010

Are you listening, Fr Hope Patten?

... as three nuns are shown the door from your shrine for desiring unity with the Holy See? What a shame, in retrospect, that Walsingham ever gave up being a papalist fortified position, in Yelton's words, and became C of E. Does anyone seriously doubt that within a decade there will be 'women celebrants' at its altars?

I wonder if the papalist foundation stone of the Holy House will be removed or covered up?

10 December 2010

Diairmid McCullough, or however he is spelt ...

Sauntering through Blackwells the other day, to pick up the Holy Father's Interview book, I stopped by D M's History of Christendom, which is now at the paperback stage of its decline. I dipped into it.

I do, somewhat boldly, think that there are some areas in which I have a very modest competence, but I am extremely aware of the boundaries of my knowledge (for example, I most certainly am not a historian). So I have a test which I apply particularly to the writings of people who produce Big Books in subject areas which are not my own (by the way, on the subject of Big Books in general, three cheers for the views of the greatest of the Greek poets, Callimachus).

The Hunwicke test is this. I find some topic in his discussion in which the Big Writer has strayed into an area in which I do know something. And I test his assertions. My assumption is that if it turns out that he is writing a load of tasteless white fish with small, needle-like bones* in an area in which I am able to judge him, there is every possibility (or at the very least a risk) that he is just as unreliable, tendentious, or crooked in areas where I do not have competence.

DM decides to tell us about the Kyries. He makes two assertions. The first is that the threefold Kyries (Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison) are ever-present 'mantras' in Byzantine liturgy. The second is that in the Roman Rite they are relics of the period when the worship of the Roman Church was in Greek. Each of these assertions is untrue, the former partially and the latter totally. The paragraph concerned does not even condescend to offer a footnote directing us to any evidence for these crass assertions of inaccuracy and falsehood.

You may tell me that in so very Big a Book, it is unreasonable for a writer to be expected never to make little errors. "Don't be a pedant. Go for his Big Picture."

I could not more profoundly disagree with you. Any Big Picture is built up of innumerable small brush-strokes. If a man is slipshod about his details, it will be, to a greater or lesser extent, probable that his Big Picture is not worth the paper, so to speak, which it is written on. And in any case, nobody is under a legal or moral obligation to write Big Books. If someone chooses to do so, he should either get his facts straight or be excoriated for not doing so.



9 December 2010

Browsing completely aimlessly ...

... as one so often does on the internet, I found myself reading about "Allen Hall". I discovered myself informed that the motto of the college is Vivamus in spe, "which means We Live In Hope".

Oh dear me. Whatever would the erudite and admirable Cardinal Allen have said about so elementary a howler as not knowing the difference between indicatives and subjunctives? Obviously not a place where the Extraordinary Form is lovingly and carefully inculcated.

Can anyone explain to me the origins of the impaled arms? Is the Heraldry as dodgy as the Latinity?

6 December 2010


I've often wondered about the etymology of this old English surname. Now I know. Having said an Mass of S Nic in the Old Rite in S Thomas's, I had a phone call from a brother priest whom a sudden call prevented from saying his scheduled 12.00 EF Mass. So I dashed over (ah: another question of philology for you: does the noun 'bination' mean there is a verb 'binare'? so that I could say "cucurri binaturus ad ecclesiam S N ..."?) and found a very nice little congregation awaiting me; not to mention one of the classiest of the late Fr Melrose's Altar Missals. What a pleasure to be invited.

But a quick flip through last Friday's Catholic Herald at the back of the Oratory revealed to me a letter by "Outraged of Tunbridge Wells", infuriated that the Old Rite is spreading like wildfire among Anglicans too, and attacking me personally for saying Latin Masses. I presume it must be from some Liberal RC. When will these people get it straight that the Sovereign Pontiff has laid down that any priest of the Latin Rite can say the "EF" whenever he wishes?

I hope nobody tells the poor chap or chappess that every academic term which starts at Oxford is marked by a Latin celebration.

5 December 2010

Conditional Ordination for Ordinariate Anglicans?

A good technical case could, it is true, be made for this on the grounds of the Bishop Graham Leonard precedent. But, in his case, the CDF considered the orthodoxy or otherwise of every 'link' in the ordinations which led from the Dutchmen to the Bishop who ordained him priest. It cannot be anything other than a profound mistake in practical terms to attempt to clutter up the beginning of an Ordinariate with the sort of paper chases and delays which would be involved. And it would create an invidious divide between most of us and a few worthy priests who, because of age or because they were ordained in other parts of the Anglican Communion, were priested by bishops who had not contracted the Dutch Touch. So, my strong conviction is: NO ... just don't go there.

But is there a problem in conscience about 'receiving again' the Sacrament of Order when one is morally certain that one has already received it? This did indeed trouble Blessed John Henry Newman. But he willingly accepted it after being assured that the conditionality would be "implied in the Church's intention" (Ker pp 321 and 466). In view of the repeated assurances given, to the effect that clergy entering into full communion are not being required to deny the validity of anything they have previously received or done, and the careful statement of Fr Aidan Nichols that the invalidity of Anglican Orders is not now unconditionally proposed by the Roman Magisterium, I feel that the understanding which satisfied Newman should be good enough for less brilliant minds than his. Indeed, if the Magisterium took the view that those entering an Ordinariate must accept the invalidity of their current Orders, either explicitly or constructively, they would presumably have required that, before even applying for admission to the presbyterate of the Latin Church, Anglican clergy should have ceased performing sacrilegious simulations of the Eucharist. This is, quite simply, not the line which, so I gather, has been or is being taken either in Rome or locally.

Trent did indeed say, as a correspondent reminds me, that three sacraments non possunt iterari. The present indicative of possunt demonstrates that this is simply a statement of fact. If "Ordination I" was valid, then "Ordination II" is as a matter of fact a nullity. If "Ordination II" is valid, then "Ordination I" must have been a nullity.

I do, however, have a preference about how things are 'done'. If Anglican priests were 'reordained' at a grand, public, triumphalist ceremony, this might have the body-language of "These men were not really priests before". And it could be extremely damaging to ecumenical relationships generally - something which Rome and - so they keep telling us - Westminster too, are rightly anxious to avoid. But if the proceedings were private and low-key (like the ordinations of Bishop Leonard and a number of others), the Anglican Establishment need not be offended, and the conviction of Anglicans that their priesthood truly began at their original Anglican ordination would be respected by the 'reordination's' social marginality and its lack of public ritual assertion. In 1993 Fr Aidan Nichols advocated proceeding along exactly these lines in his elegant picture of an Anglican place of study which could "provide supplementation for the priestly training of former Church of England clergymen and a discreet setting for the making good of any defects in their Orders".


A final dash of rhetoric. Forget for a moment the RC question; if I became an Orthodox, I would undoubtedly have to be 'reordained' in order to liturgise. Can it really be God's will that Catholic Anglican priests are boxed into a prison camp out which it is impossible for them in good conscience to move into the ministry of any of the Ancient Churches? Is the 'Consensus of the First Millennium', to which so many among us (especially the less 'papalist') have so often appealed, in fact permanently inaccessible to us?

Are some of my brethren sure that this particular 'difficulty' is anything other than a clutching at an arguably respectable pretext for 'not going'?

4 December 2010

Rupert Bear

Every Christmas, my maternal grandparents used to give me the Rupert Bear Annual, and I delved again into the affairs of Rupert Bear, Bill Badger, the mysterious and enchanting Tiger Lily (these were in the days before Chinese Restaurants brought us Sweet and Sour Pork and the other culinary delights of San Francisco), and all their friends. I read with never failing pleasure the narratives encapsulated into those memorable couplets, the iambs marching inexorably onwards to the hilarious bathos of the predictable rhymes.

What I didn't know as a toddler was that the charming and accessible artwork was the product of one Alfred Bestall (1892-1986). If you live in Oxford you must not miss the tiny but exquisite exhibition of his work in Bodley, just inside the Proscholium entrance and on the right. Where you will not just meet up again tantum post lapsum temporis with the inhabitants of Nutwood, but will see other examples of the work of a draughtsman who perfectly embodied the style and spirit of the interwar years. There is one little watercolour which is, as we say, to die for. Titled The Coffee Stall, it shows a gathering of flappers and their male appendages, at dawn after a fancy dress ball, refreshing themselves as the London proletariat look sympathetically on. Don't miss the girl on the left who sways away from her escort to light the cigarette in her holder from that of a bulky member of the Lower Orders. Don't miss any of them.

It's worth a hundred Picassos or Monets.

3 December 2010

Ordinariate consciences

Yet again, the other day, someone asked me how an Anglican priest could possibly allow himself to go through a process of reordination so as to join an Ordinariate.

I continue to have great problems understanding those who ask this question. Let me be autobiographical. In the 1960s, there was a scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity. This would have involved a "Service of Reconciliation". In that service, an Anglican Bishop would have laid hands on all the Methodist ministers and prayed: "Pour out thy Holy Spirit, to endue each, according to his need, with grace for the office of a priest in the Church of God". I eventually voted for this scheme. (I certainly wouldn't have done later. But, back in the 1960s, we all took seriously the idea of Christian Unity; this was well before the Liberals decided that their own new dogmas took precedence over Unity.) I became convinced that the business was just about kosher after bishop Eric Kemp, then Dean of Worcester, explained to us Oxford clergy that this rite was an adequate form of Conditional Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood, and would transform the Methodist ministers into priests.

In turn, if this scheme had gone forward, the Anglican clergy would in turn have knelt before a Methodist minister, who would have imposed hands and prayed : "Pour out thy Holy Spirit upon them for the work of a minister in thy Church". This scheme received the approval of a large majority in the Church of England, especially among the bishops.

I have some difficulty understanding why we were (nearly) all so willing then to undergo this 'reordination', which would have made us all into Methodist ministers acceptable to take any manner of service within Methodism, whereas now there seems to be some gigantic, enormous problem, among some people, about undergoing a similar rite to make us acceptable to fulfil every kind of priestly ministration within the Roman Catholic Church.

I s'pose it's a good sign really. We live in so amoral a world that the mere existence of such amazingly superscrupulous and such bewilderingly, unbelievably, hypertender consciences, is to be warmly welcomed. Yet doubts persist in my mind. If it is so terrible, so unthinkable, to be 'reordained' - if the superscrupulous conscience so decisively vetoes it - why do many of these same people have no qualms about all the compromises which are necessary to coexist with women priests? Why, for example, does a conscience which has no trouble about being in communion with a bishop who licences and institutes women to the care of souls, suddenly get so picky when it comes to the formalities which are necessary to ensure that every Roman Catholic in the world can be without qualms about the Anglican priesthood?

Yeah, pull the other one.


You may be wondering what happened to that Unity Scheme. It failed to get over the 75% hurdle required. 75%, you ask? Well, er, yes; it was after this that, with an eye doubtless to the future, the Great and the Good lowered the hurdle in such matters to 67%. What a good thing they did so. Otherwise, there would be no chance of the Ordination of Women getting through now! Foresight!

2 December 2010

Book Sales

Passing through Blackwells, I came upon a remaindered copy of Bishop Eric Kemp's autobiography, Shy but not retiring (his obit, by the way, was on Sunday; cuius animae propitietur Deus). I snaffled it up and brought it home to read. This is a splendid book to give to anyone tempted by the mirage of a long-term future in the Church of England.

It is of course cruel to flay anybody from the comfortable and complaisant high ground of hindsight. And probably dangerous: which of us could pass such an exacting test? But ... yes, you knew there was a But coming, didn't you?

Back in the 1990s, we all thought that the Leaders of thge Catholic Movement would pull some rabbit out of their hats. And of nobody did we have more expectations than of Eric Kemp. He had been around - with a finger in every pie, be it Anglo-Catholicism or Church politics - since the 1930s. But we now know that there was no rabbit and probably not even a hat. In as far as anything did get cooked up, it was done by a suave figure of the Establishment, the Old Etonian John Habgood.

It was fun in the Diocese of Chichester in Kemp's days, the 'Indian summer of the Church of England'. But we were living off the fat. There was no coherent plan ... what am I saying: there was not even an incoherent plan ... for anything that might be described as a future. We were teetering, just about to plunge, on the funfair railway, from the point right at the top, down the big slope to the splash at the bottom. And, as I now learn from Kemp's autobiography, the Butler was not even laying down a vintage or two whose drinking date would be ten, or twenty, years ahead. BTW, I am going for a Guinness Book of Records entry for mixed or inappositely combined metaphors*.

Eric's biography reveals that at no point did he have a higher motive than shepherding his diocese, looking after his clergy (at which he was very good) and keeping, for as long as he could, his own hand on the tiller. There have been vast swathes of Church History in which such ambitions sufficed for a Bishop in the Church of God. But in the decades of Eric Kemp's episcopate, there needed to be a sense of whither to turn that tiller; an attempt to discern the Signs of the Times; a capacity and a willingness, as they say in business, to think outside the box.

And now SWISH offer us another pointless, wasted, generation of the same ball-game. And why? In a determined attempt quite simply to spoil Dr Ratzinger's gambit.

*How many does that make?

1 December 2010

Epicleses and Elevations

Should the Body and Blood of the Lord still be shown for adoration in the traditional places, after the Words of Institution, when a Eucharistic Prayer is being used which defers the Epiclesis until later? For those determined to use such prayers and who would like an answer out of the older Western Catholic tradition: Yes! In 1912, Fortescue wrote:

"The whole consecration-prayer is one thing, of which the effect is the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. During this Prayer we ask continually for that grace; although the Prayer takes time to say and God grants what we ask at one instant, not necessarily the last instant of the Prayer. So in all rites constantly people still ask for what, presumably, they have already received. Our Baptism and Ordination services furnish obvious parallel examples [Hunwicke adds: compare here Catherine Pickstock's words about 'liturgical stammering' and repeated beginnings and their basis in pre-'Enlightenment' orality]. The Epiclesis is surely also to be to be explained in this way ... the Canon is one Prayer. Consecration is the answer to that one Prayer. It takes place no doubt at the Words of Institution, but it is the effect of the whole Prayer. There is no sequence of time with God. He changes the bread and wine intuitu totius orationis'.

And in Cardinal Ximenes' edition of the Mozarabic rite, in which some 20 or so of the 200 Eucharistic Prayers have an Epiclesis after the Institution Narrative, the elevations always happen in the 'Roman' place.

I wrote that in 2004; I haven't reverified the last paragraph.)