28 January 2014

Narcissistic butterflies Episode the Second

Yes; I tricked you there. You thought I would turn left inside the entrance to the Ashmolean Museum and, half way down the Howard Marbles, stop at the bust of Menander (By the way, I am confident that anyone who reads Wodehouse and Ovid will share my conviction that Menander is the Greatest of the Greek Playwrights). But no. Up the stairs I went, pausing only twice for breath, and along the corridor on the first floor to the room at the end, where there is fine series of busts of Renaissance popes, by a gifted but unknown sculptor. I set my folding chair down in front of Papa Lambertini, Benedict XIV, and looked at him. I find that, if I do this for long enough, he talks to me and answers all my questions. I ignored the Attendant who kept asking me if I was Sure that I was All Right.

After some twenty or so minutes, there was the very slightest movement ... not quite a wink ... in the Holy Father's left eye. Using my Fr Melrose walking stick to sweep aside the Attendant (he fled, bleating), I put my question.
"Beatissime Pater, who is right ... about the narcissistic butterflies ... Fr Finegan or I?"
"Rectius tu, fili, iudicasti." 
"Thank you, Sanctitas!! But ... in that case, wasn't your successor Benedict XVI a ... well ... a bit of a butterfly himself? The way he sent Good Marini to rummage endlessly through the cupboards of the Vatican and the Roman basilicas ... all those splendid sets of vestments, the mitres, the fanons, that he wore? Every time he appeared on Vatican Player he seemed to be wearing something unseen for decades ... or even for centuries ... isn't that ... butterflyish?"
"Minime minime: now ... you think of yourself as knowledgeable in matters Heraldic; I remember you looking with particular interest at my coat of arms embroidered here on my stole. Did you never notice, as you watched Vatican Player, the arms embroidered on those vestments worn by St Benedict XVI (mehercle; I shouldn't have given away his canonisation)? If you had kept your eyes open, you would have spotted who had ordered each of them to be made."
"Well ... erm ... "
"Some of the vestments were made by order of his recent predecessors; some of Paul VI; some of the Pontiffs of the first part of the last century; some of St Pius IX ... quid dicendum restat?"
"You mean ..."
"Of course I do. As Fr Finegan (a ten times better man than you, by the way) would point out on his admirable blog, it was all Hermeneutic of Continuity. St Benedict XVI was expressing, by the vestments he wore, the fact that, in an unruptured succession of Roman Pontiffs, he was successor of Paul VI no less than of St Pius X; of St Pius IX no less than of Blessed John XXIII. Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona ... vel, si fas est dicere, ante Concilium. Istius autem Francisci vestimenta, nihil loqui videntur nisi Me Me Me."
"But ... but ... but ... what about Benedict's red slippers?"

At this point the Pontiff's marble brow very slightly contracted, almost as if in anger.
To be continued.


Woody said...

Another example of this literary genre that I have grown to like maybe found here:


Keep up all the good work, Father, you are hotting home runs as we 'Murricans would say.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Kudos, Father. The use of humor is the honey that makes these difficult truths easier to swallow for the putative experts whose lay magisterium is definitive since the rise of the online trad machine.

With a grain of salt take little that machine produces for it is not one-half well informed about ecclesiastical history as the machine prides itself on being.

That is, it can not be taken at face value to say nothing about being trusted at all; believe me, I know,; oncet, I was a tiny cog in that machine.

Jesse said...

Father, your writings make it hard for one to remain Anglican. You have taken all the fun with you into the Ordinariate.

Of course you remind me of how Pope Benedict XVI, on his visit to Westminster Abbey, wore that stole originally made for Leo XIII (presumably to show that just as Petrus had made J. H. Newman a cardinal, now Petrus was declaring him a beatus).

GOR said...

Back in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI first appeared in a Camauro it raised some eyebrows and was termed by the secular media “a Santa Claus hat”…

What did they know? I well recall Papa Giovanni wearing it frequently many years previously and it does have a hermeneutic of continuity about it – both papal and secular (cfr. the Venetian Doges)..

Even your interlocutor Benedict XIV was depicted with it, like many others before him.

Now, could we have the Tiara back, please? It was hardly the stuff of butterflies.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

but not-sparticus, what would good Fr write about if we didn't have the 'trad machine?' what is a trad-machine?

what a trad-machine isn't = uninhabited habits for Christ; homilies extolling (I kid you not) those great exemplars of Christian virtue Ghandi and the Dalai lama; Ayn Rand quotes in your Sunday newsletter; refusal at a request to receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue due to local custom principles and avoiding icky tongues; confession where someone gets miffed because one might prefer to kneel and confess rather than sit and discuss one's complexes; I could go on.

I say, if there is a TM, God bless the trad-machine or else I might think all of the above was God's ordained will, rather than a permitted anti-trad-machine.

p.s. the dismissal of the red shoes is a red flag.