31 January 2011

Pastor in valle Adurni ...

... has written, on his blog (the only criticism of which I can make is that his sabbatical prevents him from writing as often as one would wish), a very thought-provoking comment on my piece in re Liverpudlitana (incidentally, while I simply adore the coinage Hepatopolis, offered by a learned correspondent, it is a fact that Vatican documents from the dear old SCR used to latinise the Venice of the North as Liverpudlia). Let me take up and run with one point that Pastor makes: a preference for Bishops administering the Sacrament of Confirmation.

This is very Anglican. In the days when Christianity was an urban phenomenon, a thing of the polis, and pagani were by definition pagans, bishops did perform the unsundered initiatory process of Water-Baptism+Confirmation+First Communion. When Christianity spread into the countryside, this became impracticable and the East responded by keeping the Rite undivided and committing it to presbyters; the West retained the involvement of the Bishop, the par excellence Apostolic Minister, but divided the Rite. Dix used to point out that there were advantages and disadvantages in each choice.

Anglicanism has been the most determined tradition in confining Confirmation to Bishops. In the East, the parish priest regularly chrismates; in the Roman Communion there are many circumstances in which the Sacrament is delegated to presbyters. But in Anglicanism, the absolutist restriction of Confirmation to bishops has led to a deplorable corruption: the multiplication of Bishops as confirming machines who are rewarded for their drudgery by Status and the hope dangled before them of a diocese. That is why we have so many Anglican bishops: for example, in the area of the RC diocese of Plymouth, which, I think, has one bishop, the C of E has two and a half diocesans and four 'suffragans' (which in Anglican terminology means a bishop with delegated jurisdiction who serves a Diocesan). This is driven mainly by the need to have Confirmers. It means, of course, Mitres for the Boys ... well, soon, I suppose, for the Girls as well. I gather that this 'Area Bishop' corruption is becoming increasingly common, too, in Roman Catholicism; that bright young men become Westminster Area Bishops and, having Shown Their Quality, have their names put at the top of the Nuncio's ternas.
I will follow this with an analysis of the corruptions inherent in the modern practice of Episcopacy among Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

30 January 2011

S Gregory Palamas

A kind friend has sent me a Kalendar published by one of the Melkite eparchies in North America. It is good to be reminded how similar the instincts of East and West are when it comes to liturgical observances; the West has Vigils and Octaves and the East has Preparations and days stretching out after a festival until they are concluded by a "Leave-taking". The East is happy to crowd several observances on to one day, just as the West has its 'commemorations'. Oops: I should have said that the West used to do all this, because two generations now have had to live with the Carthaginian General's vandalistic abolition of nearly all Vigils, Octaves and Commemorations.

This Melkite Calendar gives one particularly intriguing example of different observances crowded together on one day. In Orthodox Christianity, as my readers will be aware, the Second Sunday in Lent is the Sunday of the great fourteenth century Hesychast Doctor and mystical theologian, S Gregory Palamas ... the last but certainly not the least of the Greek Fathers. Sadly, nit-picking Westerners used to accuse him of heresy because of some of the terminology he used in his exposition of the wonderful mystery of our Deification in Christ. So, after the 1720s, when the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Successor of S Peter, renewed the fulness of his communion with that other Successor of S Peter a bit further West, it was deemed prudent to remove S Gregory from the Melkite Calendar. To fill the vacuum thus created, in 1843 the Patriarch Maximos III Mazloom made that Sunday the Commemoration of the Holy Relics.

In my 2011 Melkite Calendar, I see that S Gregory has returned to the Second Sunday in Lent. Splendid! Since the Patriarch of Antioch is - surely - the second most senior hierarch (after the Pope) of the Catholic world in communion with Rome, this is a tremendously authoritative affirmation, by the magisterium of the Catholic Church, of the sanctity and doctrinal soundness of S Gregory Palamas (and, by the way, in this calendar S Gregory also recovers his festival on November 16). Not that the Holy Relics have done runner. They share this same Sunday with S Gregory: a happy detail because Mazloom was one of the greatest Melkite Patriarchs, who secured the formal status of the Melkites as a Nation within the Ottoman Empire.

But I can't find within this Melkite Calendar poor old S Mark of Ephesus ... on whose festival a very dear friend of mine was chrismated into Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, I regard the reinstatement of S Gregory Palamas, who lived, taught, and was canonised outside formal canonical unity with the Apostolic See of Rome, as a good omen for the beatification, for the Ordinariate, of our Anglican Catholic beati.

29 January 2011


Some time ago, Joshua sought clarification of what I wrote concerning fiducia. Let Dix explain the Proddy dogma:

"[Man] needs nothing more, can do nothing more, than be conscious of feeling that confidence in the merits of Christ's sacrifice. He must cling to that feeling of confidence, for it is all that stands between him and eternal torment. Yet even so, he must always remember that this feeling of confidence cannot really undo the terrible effects of original sin in his soul. The fact that he feels this confidence does not render anything he does or could do in itself pleasing to God. He is not in any way made holy even by 'justifying faith'; otherwise his own actions would aid in his own redemption and sanctification; grace would no more be the absolutely free gift of God, but something man had at least partially merited. He is therefore emphatically not made holy but simply 'accounted holy' by God, for the sake of Christ, whose righteousness is imputed to the believing sinner by God through a sort of fiction. But in himself the redeemed and 'justified' sinner remains an entirely sinful sinner still, and only the consciousness of his own faith in the redeeming merits of Christ stands between him and the damnation his own inescapable sinfulness entails. That is the famous doctrine of 'Justification by faith alone', which in the eyes of all protestants was the very essence of Protestantism."

Dix was vilified for what was called a travesty of the Prod dogma. But when, decades later, the ARCIC document on Justification attempted to explain and bury this old controversy, a critique published by English Evangelicals damned it on the simple grounds that they could not find in it the (for them) essential truth that "Fides est fiducia".

Hell, unless you can sustain within your gut a fervent feeling [fiducia] that Christ's merits have saved you! Scary, isn't it?. In such a preposterous perversion of the Christian faith, the Sacraments can only usefully function as tools to sustain this feeling. There is all the difference in the world between this dogma and our belief that the Eucharist is the objective reality, made present, of the Lord's One Sacrifice, so that we can enter into it, and be transformed by it.

28 January 2011

Liverpool Rules OK!

Three cheers for the RC Archbishop of Liverpool, who has decreed that Confirmation should precede First Communion in his diocese. We Anglicans know that this is the right thing to do (however much we sympathise with some of the general principles behind S Pius X's promotion of frequent Communion), and it is good to see a rolling-back of the (really distinctly iffy) common RC practice of deferring Confirmation until after First Communion.

And another cheer for Liverpool; these Sacraments will be conferred on eight-year-olds. There has been a most unfortunate tendency among some in the Roman Catholic Church to follow a deplorable Anglican mistake: of regarding Confirmation as a sort of Christian Bar-Mitzvah, an adolescent Rite of Passage. In my view - I did spend 28 years teaching 13-19 year-olds - nothing is more misguided than mixing up the Sacraments of Initiation in this way with the hormonal problems which thirteen-year-olds are having to face. Moreover, Confirmation is a Sacrament, not a Rite of Passage.

I think this is the time to resurrect a persistent argument of Dom Gregory Dix; that Confirmation is in fact that Baptism in the Spirit of which Biblical and Patristic texts speak. So Confirmation really is terribly important; arguably more important, Dix provocatively urged, than Water Baptism!

Dix's argument has weaknesses; the biggest of which is that liturgical patterns in the early centuries, we now know, were not as uniform as he liked to think; which makes it a little dodgy to try to force every liturgical tradition into the same straight-jacket. But the main reason while Dix was so vilified was that his emphasis on the importance of Confirmation created a very unwelcome obstacle to the pan-Protestant ecumenical schemes then in vogue. It implied that one would have to tell Free-Church people that they lacked something immensely important; or the equally unfortunate alternative of telling them that they were OK after all because they had 'equivalent' rites, such as extending the right-hand of fellowship to adolescents (here again we have a spin-off from the old Anglican error that Confirmation is really about Adolescence).

You don't need to try to persuade me that Byzantium has got things right in its simple, logical, unwillingness to sunder the Sacraments of Initiation at all. I rather tend to think that too. Indeed, I suspect that, more recently than we always assume, Confirmation was conferred upon newly-born Westerners if only their parents were of enough consequence to have a tame bishop right on tap. Isn't this what happened to Elizabeth Tudor? Perhaps the general Western custom of separating Baptism and Confirmation would never have arisen if Christianity had stuck with the old Mediterranean city-bishopric system, in which the bishop was fairly accessible because he was in the nearest market town, rather than acquiring the vast tribal dioceses of Northern Europe*.

But the Instauratio Liverpudlitana is a splendid step in the right direction for Latin Christians. There are elements in S Pius X's 'reforms' which, a century later, can do with reexamination.

Will the Ordinariate be supporting LU or Everton?


*The Thames formed the boundary between Lincoln and Winchester!

27 January 2011

Ordinariate, Anglican Patrimony, and theological method

In 1948, Dom Gregory Dix wrote these words in a private (and unpublished) letter:

What are the minimum requirements for [Eucharistic] validity? I suppose: (1) a priest; (2) bread and wine; (3) the Words of Institution. (I personally would reduce this last to any plain indication that the rite now being performed with bread and wine by the priest is intended as a deliberate fulfilment of the command at the Last Supper, touto poieite eis ten anamnesin mou. A repetition of the Words of Institution is the most compendious and unambiguous and best authorised way of doing this.)

Dix was writing about the 1552 Communion Office, not Addai and Mari (the Assyrian Eucharistic Prayer which lacks an Institution Narrative). But I suspect he had AM in mind when adding his bracketed caveat. He more allusively suggests the same conclusion when discussing AM in Shape of the Liturgy. In effect, this is the very conclusion that Rome herself came to (see an earlier post) in its agreement with the Assyrian 'Church of the East', some sixty years after Dix wrote.

I suggest that this represents a theological method which is data-driven and has immense respect for Tradition - so that it finds it extremely repugnant to 'invalidate' a sacramental formulary which has de facto sanctified countless Christian lives for centuries. This method is in marked contrast to a theological method which works from theoretical first principles (to the time-conditioned subjectivity of which it is often blind) to a priori conclusions which may make a nonsense of historical fact. The most disastrous example of this latter method was Eugene IV's Decree for the Armenians. I think there is something rather Anglican Catholic about the data-driven approach; that it might even count as part of our Patrimony.

I suggest further that this cultural/methodological divergence is an example of what Manning had in mind when, writing to Talbot (a dodgy and theory-driven character if ever there was one) he so memorably criticised Blessed John Henry in the words "It is the old Anglican, patristic, literary, Oxford tone transplanted into the Church". I would add to Manning's adjectives another: "historical".

It is Newman, not Manning, who has been beatified; Newman, not Manning, who is Benedict XVI's bed-time reading. Four cheers for the Old Anglican Patristic Literary Historical Oxford Method! I wonder if our Holy Father has copies of Dix?*


*I am certainly not suggesting that all RC theologians are theory-driven and all Anglican Catholics data-driven (or even that the two methods are exclusive, or that they inevitably reach conflicting conclusions); life certainly isn't as clear-cut as that. As an example of a very data-driven Roman theologian I would offer Benedict XIV (the last Pontiff before Benedict XVI to achieve enormous distinction from his writings as a private theologian); my own excursions into this massively and historically erudite pontiff suggest to me that he also was rather an Oxford-Newman-Dix sort of chap at heart ... the sort of bloke you could easily run into lurking behind a pile of folios in Duke Humphrey ... and that he could do with some resurrecting!

26 January 2011

July 2

Very graciously, the Angelus Press has sent me a review copy of their ORDO for users of the 1961/2 liturgical books. I am very grateful; it is very interesting; and I shall write about it soon. But ...

... upon opening it, I immediately found an erratum slip. As an ORDO compiler myself, I instinctively felt a great tidal wave of sympathy. This is the ultimate, the appalling nightmare. As soon as the print run is finished, one discovers that one has got the date of Easter wrong or inserted the readings for year for Year A rather than Year B, vel sim.. But, when I looked at things more closely, I began to wonder why they feel that their original text is wrong. This is what the slip says:

On July 2nd the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2nd class) is celebrated. The Feast of the Most Precious Blood will not be celebrated in 2011.

Now I instinctively think I feel that the Visitation should be celebrated that day. It is a much older feast than the Precious Blood. It was probably Urban VI who instituted it to beseech God for Christian Unity. There are Byzanine analogues. Whereas the Precious Blood is distinctly rather more parvenu.

But shouldn't a First Class Feast of Christ trump a Second Class Feast of the Theotokos?

Perhaps a reason lies in the fact that July 2 in 2011 immediately follows the Feast of the Sacred Heart. You could see the logic of suppressing the second celebration. But ... what happened? Did PCED issue a decree .... ???? Do SSPX follow PCED rulings? (Which Good Friday Prayer for the Jews do they use?)

25 January 2011


Can anybody explain why, in the old and new Vulgates, and in the old and new Latin Office Books in texts for today, Apollos is (nominative) 'Apollo'?

My assumption is that Apollos is a syncopated form of Apollonios; and I find it potentially confusing that it appears in Latin indistinguishable from the name of the Archer of Delos and 'Partner', as we have to say nowadays, of Daphne and various other nymphs.

I spent nearly three decades nagging students to remember the S at the end of of Apollos!

23 January 2011

Apology from me

A regular poster was irritated to find on a recent thread a comment under his name ... which he had not written. In fact he had ... because that Post was a heavily reworked version of something I wrote in early 2008, and still had its 2008 comments attached. I have now cleansed it appropriately. Sorry.


Sunday in the Chair of Unity Octave ... a Commemoration at Mass for S Nicolas Owen, the recusant carpenter who made so many of the 'priests' holes' in which Elizabethan Romanist clergy hid? An Oxford man born and bred, racked until he ruptured, and a great saint. It set me wondering whether, in this age of Apologies (I've lost count of how many groups the almost Blessed John Paul II was induced ... I hope non-infallibly ... to apologise to), our General Synod has yet apologised to English Roman Catholics for our long and bloody persecution of them, or to the Unitarians for so cheerfully burning them. Next ... has our House of Bishops yet apologised to the Catholic Movement for the persecution of the Ritualists by Victorian bishops? Have the successors of Archbishop Fisher apologised for his treatment of Catholic Anglicans in London during his episcopate there? Or has his successor updated Fisher's anti-Catholic bigotry by taking the lead in ferociously declining to consider church-sharing with the Ordinariate?

For, of course, the great favourite to be sneered at now is the Ordinariate. Witness that disgraceful 'Sunday' programme by Ed Stourton, about which I posted. How long shall we have to wait for Apologies ...

Then I hit upon a brilliant idea. Why can't the persecuting classes scythe through this important historical process by apologising at precisely the same time as they perpetrate their aggression? Thus, every time an Establishment bishop or archdeacon gets nasty with priests or people heading for the Ordinariate, or the Bishop of Barchester and his RC opposite number the Bishop of Silverbridge cosy up together and issue a joint declaration on the undesirability of the Ordinariate having any churches of its own, or "Spirit of Vatican II" papists and Grauniad journalists wax eloquently and Oh-so-amusingly about the dodgy characters entering the Ordinariate and the colour of their wives' hats: the computers of all these significant people could be programmed to issue simultaneously a sincere, 'historic', heart-felt, movingly-expressed, manly, open-and-honest, covering-all-the-details, gives-us-the-moral-high-ground, apology (copy to all the Press Agencies) for doing so.

You know it makes sense.

22 January 2011

POST scriptum

I've had my attention drawn to an interesting post in the blog Eastern Christian Books; which rather bears upon my last post ... and also upon a point I've made several times about the lack of an epiclesis (Byzantine style) in the Roman Canon being a sign of its immense antiquity - and about how questionable it is when "Western Rite Orthodox" (follow Bugnini and) tamper with this august monument to early Christianity.

Christian Unity Week

I think one of the most sensible things said in the realm of Ecumenism for quite a long time was the welcome given by the late Patriarch Alexis of Moskow to Benedict XVI's liberation of the Old Roman Ordo Missae."The recovery and valuing of the ancient liturgical tradition is a fact that we welcome positively".

I always feel uneasy about Western Christians who adopt a few of the sexier externals of Byzantine devotion and feel very pleased with themselves about it (Byzantine customs with regard to fasting are not commonly among the elements they appear to borrow). Likewise, I get no pleasure at all from the thought of footloose Byzantine Christians believing that their Christianity is incomplete until they have gone shopping in my tradition. Each lawful tradition is in itself a wholesome and holistic entire way of living the Christian life.

The real Ecumenism is: that each of us should drink ever more deeply in the pure fountains of our own tradition. As we come to know our own way to Christ better and better, we shall discover surprising things about our oneness in Christ*.

As Patriarch Alexis went on to say, it was purely through its rootedness in the Byzantine tradition of lived worship that the Russian Church was enabled to survive the twentieth century atheist persecutions. It is in commitment to the life of each tradition that the Lord, and the strength he gives, are found.


*To take as an example a small matter of detail: when recently, after carefully investigating the Roman tradition, I wrote about the Diaconate as a cultic, not philanthropic, Order, some Western comments did not grasp my point: ".... it's surely both .......", they cried, perhaps a trifle condescendingly, as if such an obvious thought could never have occurred to me.

But Russian Village Priest instantly knew what I was talking about.

19 January 2011


Am I right in thinking that the clerus almae Urbis historically wear birettas without those French bobbles? and that, as clergy directly subject to the Roman Pontiff, clergy of the Ordinariate fall into that category (together with Redemptorists, Oratorians .... anybody else?)

Will such clergy need to borrow their wives' scissors on the morning of incardination?

And how about those sixteenth century Roman collars worn by Redemptorists and Oratorians?

I shall delete comments which make nasty insinuations about the priorities of Anglican Catholics.

18 January 2011

Calendar matters: the ORDINARIATE

Do I take it that, automatically, the Commemorations of our Lady of Walsingham (September 21) and of Bl John Henry Newman (October 9) are, in the Ordinariate, Solemnities (or, depending on the language you speak, Doubles of the First Class)?

We ORDO Compilers need to know these things.

A model of Christian tact ...

... is found in the wording of the Vatican Information Service announcement of the appointment of the Ordinary (I wonder if "Reverend" rather than "Fr" means it was signed or prepared for signature between Thursday evening and Saturday noon). Anything which, as this announcement does, emphasises continuities rather than discontinuities is to be welcomed.

I wonder, too, how one names a non-episcopal ordinary in the new Eucharistic Prayers. "Ordinario"? In Te igitur, I rather think that Antistite, which does not actually mean Bishop, could be vague enough to stand. Does anybody know what happened, ex.gr., in Abbeys nullius, in the pre-Vatican II days?

16 January 2011

ORDNARIATE: Common Sense and Mutual Enrichment

Just back from Bishop Andrew's First RC Mass in the Oratory ...

Well, it must still be All Right to refer to him as "Bishop Andrew" because Fr Aidan Nichols did so in his brilliantly characteristic homily. Fr Aidan has been House Theologian to the Ordinariate during all those many long years before The Project actually turned into The Ordinariate; he first sketched the theological meaning of an Anglicanism united but not absorbed in his The Panther and the Hind. Since then, there have been meetings of the FIF theological group with him in the cellars at Gordon Square; Fr Aidan always so gracious, so sympathetic, so helpful, so erudite, so generous. The first time I read a paper - a very poor one - in his presence, I remember how nervous I felt; but there was no need to.

Fr Aidan returned, today, to the great enterprise of gathering up the fragments that none be lost; of appropriating, for the good of all the church, the Anglican inheritance discerned through the purifying prism of Catholic Orthodoxy. He mentioned that Bishop Andrew is engaged in the liturgical side of that - but made clear, referring especially to Blessed John Henry and the Tractarian Fathers, that there is much more to it than Liturgy. His homily, I think, counts as the Programmatic Statement of the Ordinariate as far as theology is concerned. I hope he stays involved.

If Fr Aidan's homily was characteristic, so was Bishop Andrew's liturgy. Fine music (Byrd; Morales); Latin from the Sursum corda until the Communion. We had examples of what the American blogosphere now calls Common Sense and Mutual Enrichment. Sanctus covered the (silent) first half of the Canon Romanus and Benedictus the second half; we were spared those horrid 'Acclamations' after the Consecration. At the Invitation to Communion, Bishop Andrew continued his custom of using the New ICEL translation of Ecce Agnus Dei.

I arrived home to hear the end of the celebratory peal rung on the S Thomas's (ten) very fine bells. That's Patrimony, too.

15 January 2011

Westminster Cathedral and the Ordinariate

No. I wasn't in "WC" this morning. I had a prior engagement.

I went to the Oratory Church in Oxford for the Reception of Mr James Turner, former Head Sacristan of Pusey House (of which I am privileged to be a Senior Research Fellow).

This splendid event represented all that is most attractive about the 'current religious scene'. James is young and intelligent, as are so may of those taking this stage in their own pilgrimages. It was good to meet again, at this event, Mr Andrew Wagstaffe, a valued friend since the time I taught him at Lancing College. He, also, was a Head Sacristan at Pusey before he entered into full communion six years ago; he is one of the half-dozen most brilliant people whom I had the fun of teaching (I think he may be known to that distinguished priest and blogger Fr Ray Blake).

Other friends were there; Mr John Whitehead, of Oriel College, a former Churchwarden of S Thomas's and now a member of the Oratory congregation; together with one of my present Churchwardens ... and ... and ... and apologies for not naming all of you. Others hovered invisibly present ... Martin, I thought of you, immured in your Norwegian seminary, during the Mass. Remember us in your prayers.

The rite of reception, and the Mass which followed , were in the pre-Conciliar rite; a final joyful evidence of the vivid reappropriation of the Catholic Latin tradition and of the Hermeneutic of Continuity which are integral to the Benedictine Renaissance in the Western Church. Sancte Pater, ad multos annos.

May the Immaculate Mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, and Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us all; and especially for Keith, Ordinary of our Lady of Walsingham.

14 January 2011

Best wishes ...

... for a very happy New Year - I'm sorry that this is a bit belated for those living adjacent to the Greenwich meridian - all my readers who follow that Calendar which is actually to be found in the liturgical books dating from the Pontificate of that great pontiff, S Pius V, and in the liturgical books from the reign of our late Sovereign Lord King Charles II of most blessed memory.

May I take the opportunity of again recommending The Tridentine Rite Blog. Not only can one look at its Sunday-by-Sunday explanations of the Real and Organic Calendar; you can of course look back to last year and see what it says about an up-coming day.

I believe it is the decently humble custom of the Roman Catholic Church, in countries where the predominant Christian Calendar is Julian, to require even Latins to observe the Julian Easter. Two queries: does this principle extend to the fixed festivals; and: do Anglican chaplaincies in these countries follow the same humane and courteous principle? Or do we behave in accordance with our instinctive English and Anglican cultural arrogance?

... and so much for the King's Road.

Among those with whom I talked in Chelsea yesterday was a very agreeable chap called Fr Hemer, who teaches Old Testament. Perhaps I was over-mellowed by the excellence of the food and wine, but I found myself thinking that there would be worse things to do than listening to a Refresher Course from him. Though why I say "Refresher" I can't think. At least in my time, we Anglican seminarians were quite appallingly taught about the Bible; a load of improbable bilge about source criticism and pseudonymity and God only knows what. I never believed a word of it. Dogmatic Theology and Moral Theology and Church History, it would be a waste of time to revisit. But the Bible ... and, I have to admit, Canon Law ... well, that would fill some gaps.

To summarise, then: the prospect of free food at Allen Hall, combined with some intellectual stimulation ... would be very tempting.

As I was saying ...

... when I suddenly remembered my Home Communions, the food was strikingly good at the liturgical event upon which I stumbled in Chelsea last night. I entirely agreed with Bishop Andrew when, in a little speech at the end "on behalf of the Three Bishops", he said this very emphatically.

The liturgy, whatever it was, was clearly both episcopal and ecumenical in way that combined both of these things very cunningly. For example, the Three Bishops were dressed , like Byzantine bishops, in dalmatics, and very impressive they looked, especially Bishop Andrew with his beard. The Church Universal truly must breathe with both lungs.

Fortunately, there will be a photographic record of this splendid event. As well as Fr Bradley, there were some blokes present who looked ... from the Important way they bobbed around ... like Professional Photographers. But these latter rather puzzled me. They seemed to be taking many more pictures of Bishop Keith than of the other two.

I'm no judge of male good looks, burdened as I am with the curse of having to live my life with an incurable heterosexual condition. But it seemed to me that Bishop Keith is the least handsome of the three of them.

Ah, well, it takes all sorts.

Ordinariate Up in Arms

According to Papworth and Burke, the Arms of the old Augustinian Priory of our Lady at Walsingham were Argent on a cross sable five billets of the first: i.e. a silver shield with a black cross and on the black cross five silver rectangles. In use at the newly restored Shrine for donkey's years - I suspect Fr Fynes Clinton may have had a hand in all this; Heraldry was the sort of thing he was into - were the arms Silver; black cross; on the cross five lilies ... or so I think; I am going by memory. Also, in the first quarter was a golden representation of the Holy House: a breach of the usual convention that something gold cannot heraldically sit on something silver. However, this convention was very occasionally breached for overwhelmingly compelling reasons - such as in the Arms of Jerusalem. My theory is that HP or FC thought that the dignity of our Lady's shrine provided another overwhelmingly compelling reason! Incidentally, I have no knowledge whether the College of Heralds granted these arms; my hunch is that they were adopted without anybody troubling Queen Victoria Street.

None of us is supposed to use the arms of somebody else (not even if they have the same surname as ourselves!). If you have genuine connexion with some person, place or institution you may have arms which are like theirs but with some change to show the 'difference'. Thus the Holy See granted the see of Westminster arms indistinguishable from those of Canterbury except that they were 'differenced' by having the shield red rather than blue. The Holy See does not, I think, nowadays grant arms; although it does apparently expect bishops and those who in law are equivalent to bishops to have arms. The English heralds do still grant arms, but there are said to be legal reasons why they cannot grant arms to RC dioceses.

If anyone were ever to want arms - I can't think why they would - which were related to those of the Priory and/or shrine at Walsingham, the silver shield with a black cross and the lilies on the cross would be a good start; you could then 'difference' it by changing the colour of the cross.

Up and down the King's Road

Yesterday evening, as I was strolling up and down the King's Road in Chelsea looking for a bit of Night Life - we old gentleman tend to do that sort of thing - I noticed the familiar figure of Fr James 'Ubiquitous Camera' Bradley, who has chronicled every significant event in the Anglican Catholic world for decades - lugging his equipment along. Curious, I followed him discretely and discovered myself in a Roman Catholic place of worship which I gather was originally (1568) founded at Douai by a fellow of Oriel College, Principal of St Mary's Hall, and Proctor in this University called William Allen, after he very wisely scarpered abroad in the dark days of Elizabeth Tudor. Not that I'm sure Dr Allen would have recognised the Chapel as a place of Catholic worship ...

As you know, I am dreadfully ill-informed about the complex niceties of Novus Ordo worship, so I can't give you an intelligent account of what was going on. However, it seemed to involve our three Bishops, so I guessed it probably had something to do with this ORDINARIATE thinggy. Just in case I ever find myself having to use the Ordinary Form, I watched carefully what happened. There were some striking differences from what most Anglican Catholics are used to. For example: after the Consecration we tend to ring bells and waggle incense. But, it seems, in the Novus Ordo Mass, all the fire alarms go off while the celebrant is actually uttering the verba Domini over the Host; and keep ringing until after the Consecration of the Chalice. They come on later, too, to remind the congregation that it is Communion time.

The episcopae seemed to have a big role to play. They brought up the elements at the Offertory (yes ... I know what you're thinking ... a bit Parish Communionny) and had special blessings and things at the end. From time to time, the bishops seemed to kiss them. The service began with the sort of music you get in a Crem - Jesu joy or Come down O love Divine or something like that. It ended with the sort of business you get at weddings, with various fluctuating groups of people coalescing and dispersing and regathering for photographs. Altogether, a rich liturgical event. I felt most at home in the sung Ordinary of the Mass, Kyries etc., which was sung in dead languages, and when Bishop Andrew sang the Ite missa est at the end.

But, craftily, nobody accepted his rather peremptory order to "Go". We all tucked into some strikingly good food, wine, and conversation with some very agreeable people. Some of them had even read my blog.

Changing the subject rather, I have had a sudden illumination about what might be a good Coat of Arms for an Ordinariate. You remember that lovely medieval shield used by the Abbey at Walsingham: Silver; a black cross; on it, four lilies. Something like that ... perhaps the cross changed to blue or even S George's red ... would look very well.

Oops ... I 'm going to be late for my Home Communiuons. More later.

13 January 2011

Benedictus es ...

A writer on another blog recently criticised a priest who conflated the Offertory prayers into a singular formula. Since this is an unauthorised alteration, the writer was right to call it a liturgical abuse. But he also criticised it on the grounds that the separate offering of Bread and Wine was "theologically significant". Well; perhaps it is; I don't know what reasons he had in mind for saying this. But I think anybody going very far down that particular path needs to watch what they say. In the Sarum Rite, the Bread and Wine were offered together, with one prayer, and the Ecclesia Anglicana was for a thousand years in peace and communion with the Holy See. And the Dominican Rite - the traditional one - still offers the elements together; and the Order of Preachers is still in full communion with Rome. This represents a sustantial piece of traditional praxis. It can't be theologically unCatholic to offer the elements together.

Personally, I intensely dislike those prayers anyway on a practical ground: because I find them immensely difficult to say. Since they are so similar to each other, you can't lift the elements up and say the prayer on autopilot; you have to look at a printed text or else concentrate mentally on getting each lot of words right. I bet there isn't a priest in the Latin Church who hasn't at some time bungled it.

I also dislike the words "spiritual drink". I know poma pneumatikon is a clever borrowing from I Corinthians; but as a spoken formula judged in literary terms -particularly in its English versions - it seems to me to make the end of the prayer collapse into an unattractive bathos. I certainly understand those people who improve it with the phrase, from the Canon, "Cup [Chalice?] of Salvation".

But the plain fact is that these prayers are not ordered by the rubrics to be said aloud; that is merely an option on those occasions, and only those occasions, when there is no singing at the Offertory. For twenty or thirty years I did say them aloud in English at said Masses; but quite a long time ago I took to saying them, when I celebrated a Novus Ordo said Mass, silently and in Latin.

Well, to be honest, for some time now I have silently said Suscipe ... etc. instead. Happily, thanks to a writer on another blog, I can now justify this as Common-sense-and-mutual-enrichment.

12 January 2011

Accipe potestatem offerre Missam ...

Very best wishes to our three bishops as they tomorrow revisit the concept of diakonia. I wonder if they will wear their old light-weight pontifical dalmatics for the ceremony.

On Saturday there will follow necessary formalities ensuring that their sacerdotal ministrations are acceptable to all Roman Catholics everywhere. I suppose that later in the year there will be similar ceremonies for those priests and deacons who decide to apply for entry to the ministry of the Ordinariate and are accepted. God bless them, whoever they may be.

I wonder if they will all be 'done' simultaneously. Let us suppose - just to pluck a number out of the air for the sake of hypothesis - that some 50/60 or so priests were concerned. Wouldn't that be rather a lot of prostrate bodies to accommodate on one floor? We wouldn't want Fr X to kick Fr Y in the eye ... er ... purely, you understand, by accident.

If there were two such events, would it not be be very much in the spirit of Summorum pontificum for one of them to be OF and the other Antiquior? There would be an additional bonus of an ecumenical kind. It would mean that, when the Vatican is finally reconciled to the SSPX, those ex-Anglicans who had been 'done' antiquius would not have the inconvenience of having to be 'ordained' yet again to satisfy SSPX scruples. It would also make our orders acceptable to all those other fussy traditionalists who have noisy doubts about the adequacy of the post-conciliar Pontificale and even amusingly suggest that it falls under the condemnation of Apostolicae curae.

Mgr Rifan must be one of very few working bishops in full canonical union with the See of Ss Peter and Paul to have been consecrated with the glorious old Prayer for Episcopal Consecration used in the Roman Church before iffy Oriental formulae were substituted by Bugnini (if one wanted to be tendentious, a failing which I have always avoided like the very plague, one could argue that the Rite of Episcopal Consecration in the Prayer Book Ordinal retained more features and phrases from pre-Reformation rites than does the current Pontificale). So Rifan would be the ideal chap to do this job. Orders conferred by him would never need to be repeated (until, that is, the Latin West submits in all humility to Third Rome).

Aesthetically, it would be rather jolly if the antiquior ceremony were done within the genuine baroque lay-out and furnishings of the Brompton Oratory - the Gesu near Harrods - rather than in the midst of the totally unconvincing 'Byzantinism' of the Hagia Sophia by Victoria Station. Those involved would feel more at home, too; there is somehow something cosily familiar and Anglican about the atmosphere of Romanita created in their churches by the Sons of S Philip. I wonder why.


*New readers, if any, may - passim - be assisted hermeneutically if I confess that I have sometimes been suspected of writing with my tongue in one of my cheeks.

11 January 2011


I'm a trifle puzzled by the Westminster announcement that the Ordinariate will be erected "on or before Saturday January 15". Our three bishops are due to be deaconed on Thurday January 13; and Canon Law appears to say that a deacon has to be incardinated to ensure that there are no horrid acephalous clerics roaming around (a delightfully grotesque, even Gothick, piece of imagery to scare to the kiddies with ... "Swallow your Cod Liver Oil, dears, or the ACEPHALOUS CLERIC will GET you"). But we Anglicans know nothing about Canon Law ... perhaps a Roman Catholic can explain this oddity to me.

I had rather hoped that the erection of the Ordinariate might have been dated January 6. I will delete comments which purport to explain why I had rather hoped this.

8 January 2011

culture changes (1)

In my experience, pretty well every clergyman in the C of E knows exactly how services should be done. Indeed, in some cases he knows so well that he is constantly growing into even better knowledge, with the result that his people often have to adjust periodically to the particular stage which their pastor's liturgical researches have reached. Whether such is true in other communions, I have little first-hand knowledge. But I suspect that it is not only among Anglicans that there can sometimes be a gap between clergy and laity, which can result not only from the changes they are made to experience in their own churches but the surprises which they encounter when they move house and parish. This is partly because the laity are naturally conservative; by which I mean that they often find it less than easy to change instincts which they acquired 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

For 40 years now, many worshipers in the Western Churches have become accustomed to a particular form of 'participation', in which there is an expectation that liturgy is for them in the sense that it has some of the characteristics of entertainment or didaxis. They expect that their hierophant will relate to them; look at them; anticipate their spoken or assumed responses; be concerned that he is 'getting through' to them. He gathers them into what he is doing by looking at them across the altar; he interjects little relational asides to keep them with him; instead of standing in a pulpit six feet above contradiction, he walks up and down the church as he informally sermonises. It is possible that these expectations have been reinforced by the interactive and participatory modes fashionable in television.

I think we priests sometimes fail to realise how very different (and difficult) it is for laity, who for a generation have known nothing but this, when they are offered 'traditional' worship. Worship, I mean, where the fundamental sense is that something objective is being done which, for its essential effectiveness, depends not one tiny bit upon the understanding or 'participation' or even presence of laity. We find it easy to yawn at phrases like " ...with his back to the people." Oh dear, we cry, not that old nonsense again. But for people whose liturgical experience has hitherto been a priest preoccupied with their responsiveness, suddenly to experience a liturgist who is focussed primarily on what he is doing coram Deo, must be just shattering.


6 January 2011

Noveritis, fratres carissimi ...

... as I proclaimed after the Gospel at Mass this morning. Then, after the Last Gospel, I blessed chalk. It was the first year I have done this; Wikipedia says that it is a central European custom. I have been wondering whether its spread in recent years to England is related to immigration by groups from EU member countries. I have wondered the same thing about the Rorate Mass. OR were both these things taken by immigrant groups to North America, from where they have now drifted across on the Gulf Stream? Are further such goodies on their way by whatever route?

I have also been wondering about a Responsio ad dubium which the Ecclestone Square Liturgy Office secured from PCED and which they represented as ordering that even in celebrations of the EF the Epiphany should be transferred to a Sunday. My recollection is that Ecclestone Square refused to disclose the actual text of the Responsio they had received, so that the LMS then submitted its own dubium which elicited a rather different reply. Has the Ecclestone Square Responsio ever been published, or is it still covered by some sort of Official Secrets Act?

I hasten to add that at S Thomas's we did keep last Sunday as an External Solemnity of the Epiphany. We are terribly mainstream.

4 January 2011

You won't like this ...

... but, if I were the Commission Ecclesia Dei, I would be working towards a new Editio Typica of the Extraordinary Form in which some very minor changes would indicate that the EF is not fossilised. We are not 1962 fetichists (or are we?). The way ahead for the EF is for the most judicious of minor corrections in the 1962 missal. Nobody should take any notice of fundamentalists who believe that anything which the reformers of the 1960s favoured is automatically beyond the pale; and a reincorporation of elements - Vigils, perhaps, and Octaves - which were unwisely cut out during the early Bugnini tinkerings of the 1950s, is most desireable. Have I got this right?

The main change I would make in the Ordo Missae would be in the Preface. I would punctuate Domine, sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus. Because: Domine reproduces in Latin the tetragrammaton YHWH and reminds us that the God we worship (for are we not all, as Pius XI put it, Spiritual Semites?) is the God of our forefathers in Faith, the People of Israel. Sancte Pater is the way in which the Incarnate Word addressed his Father, particularly in the Gospel according to S John, Chapter 17.

Or would you be happier if I simply omitted all the commas, leaving the word-division to the celebrant?

Or will you only be happy if I make no change whatsoever?


We were told in Summorum Pontificum that some of the OF Prefaces would be incorporated in the EF and a recent interview given by Mgr Pozzo implies that this will soon happen. I can't see why it should cause any ill-will do do this, particularly if they are made optional. The SSPX ORDO reveals that in that Society they use Prefaces for the Saints and for Advent ad libitum. And if it is acceptable for the inter-war popes to have added prefaces for the Sacred Heart and Christ the King and ... most most revolutionary of all in view of the large numbers of Requiems that used to be said ... for the Departed, why are Prefaces from fifty years later problematic? (I do, on the other hand, strongly support the caution shown by Mgr Pozzo with regard to allowing the post-conciliar lectionary to be used with the old Mass. The old readings are inextricably bedded down in the old propers.)

My own preference, however, would be that OF Prefaces incorporated in the Traditional Missal should be mainly restricted to those which were recovered for the OF from the early Roman sacramentaries ... not least those identified, by liturgists such as Callewaerts and Capelle, as probably from the pen of S Leo or other early pontiffs ... rather than being Clever Compositions by post-conciliar committees headed by ... er ... And I do not favour the very jejune conclusions which link some of those newer prefaces to the Sanctus.

3 January 2011

Fr Zed and the verb histemi

I notice that Fr Zed spells Apostacy sic. I have also noticed, in American books, Exstacy.

Is this a 'regular' Americanism? We in Old Europe (what is the objectionable Rumsfeldt doing nowadays?) tend to assume, for fairly obvious reasons, that derivatives of histemi* are spelled (spelt?) -stasy. I wonder what our transpontine cousins consider the countervailing arguments to be.

Enough on Fr Zed for today.


*I doubt if I have ever blushed more deeply than I did when, in my first term in this university, my Tutor for Greek Prose Composition, the immortal, the fabulously erudite, the magnificently Australian Margaret Hubbard irritably moved her cat off her gin-bottle, drew heavily on her cigarette, and said "Tush, Mr Hunwicke, do we not know histemi?"

Fr Zed comes into line.

On December 16 I did a post suggesting that, while Say the Black and do the Red was a splendid exocet to direct against liberals, traditionalists should not bother too much about it themselves.

Now: January 3: Fr Zed announces his conversion to my tentative suggestions. Dealing with the question of starting the Canon while the Sanctus (and Benedictus) are still being sung, he invokes Common Sense and the Mutual Enrichment of both forms of the Roman Rite to justify it, at least when the sung Sanctus is a bit long.

Perhaps the next edition of his mug should read COMMON SENSE AND MUTUAL ENRICHMENT.

What is most striking about this, of course, is that Fr Zed, most laudably, is suggesting direct and unambiguous disobedience with regard to a very clear rubrical direction. IGMR para 30* clearly describes the Eucharistic Prayer as the principal "oratio praesidentialis". And para 32* requires that all these 'presidential' parts must, because of their inherent nature ("Natura partium 'praesidentialium' exigit ..."), be rendered "clara et elata voce ... et ab omnibus cum attentione auscultentur".

Bugnini could hardly have made that clearer, could he?

Three cheers for Fr Zed in his new incarnation! Don't forget you read it in Hunwicke first.


* paras 10 and 12 in the 1975 Missal.

And now Fr Zed has spotted it too

Regular readers became completely bored, months ago, by my continual ranting about the typographical carelessness, and illiteracy with regard to the Latin Language, in the modern Vatican.

In the last week, Fr Zed has done two posts on the subject.

Those of you who use recent editions of the Liturgia Horarum can amuse yourselves by very easily looking up one of the worst examples of culpable carelessness. It concerns Feb 22: Cathedra Petri. This Feast has to be printed in Vol 2 and Vol 3, because it might come before, or during, Lent.

In Vol 3, the Patristic Reading is printed, as far as I can see, accurately [except for utraque (neuter plural) being printed with the accent on the middle syllable: a systemic mistake in Vols 2, 3, and 4 of LH (not, curiously, in Vol 1)].

But in Vol 2, a couple of lines are omitted from the first paragraph of the Reading from S Leo. This omission makes the entire passage gibberish. (Correct your Vol 2 from your Vol 3!)

And S Leo is the most lucid and graceful of Latinists.

2 January 2011

An elegant reminder ...

... on the NLM, of M l'Abbe Quoex. C A P D . Incidentally, Did Fr Quoex have a bobble on his biretta? Look at the first photograph in NLM. Does being a Savoyard rather than French mean that one eschews the froggy bobble?

And I hope you read, on Fr Tim's blog, his brilliant "Ten Reasons Why I Never Wash".

But, most of all, I was moved by Fr Ray Blake's piece on the Church in Iraq.

Can anyone dispute the immensely high quality of the English Catholic blogosphere?

1 January 2011


There seems to be surprise about today's news.

Well, I did try to drop massive hints on December 18 for anybody who cared to read between the lines and didn't need everything spelt out as for toddlers.

The Five Bishops are very considerable men who have tirelessly, selflessly, done an impossible job, tending struggling oases in a parched and hopeless desert. God bless them and reward them.