29 May 2015


Paying a visit to Rorate, I was interested to notice that the Master of Benet's, in this University, one Werner Jeanrond, is on the list of participants in the recent Secret Meeting of German, Swiss, and French clerics and savants.

What does one do? One reads a man's biog on Wikipedia and follows up references. But ... Oh dear ... two interesting links there appear to be broken. That's the Internet for you.

The only revealing snippet is that he has some connection with a periodical called Concilium which I have never read.

Synodical secrecy (1)

On March 13, our Holy Father gave an interview to the Vaticanista Valentina Alazraki, for the Mexican network Televisa. He included one particular passage which concerned me so deeply that I have not so far written about it. It seemed to demand careful thought.

It is important to remember that not everything a Pope says calls for either the adherence of Divine Faith or even for Religious Respect (obsequium). And a Mexican television interview most certainly does not come within the category of 'Magisterial' utterances. Indeed, the first point I wish to make is the importance of distinguishing between the 'Magisterial' and the 'Non-Magisterial'.

But that is not the whole story. It is a deeply Catholic instinct, and an immensely sound one, to be very shy of disagreeing with a Pope, even when he is speaking non-Magisterially. Technically, a Christian can adhere dutifully to a Magisterial statement while expressing himself in a robust and demotic way (just as Pope Francis often does!) about the non-Magisterial utterances. But in fact, the love we naturally feel for the Vicar of S Peter dissuades us from sounding critical, even though, in terms of rights we have every right to do so. And a cleric with a mandate to teach in the Church's name ought to feel particularly uneasy about any sort of public dissent from the Supreme Pontiff's lightest word. Before he does so, he must weigh the matter in terms both theological and prudential. So I have given this a great deal of very careful thought.

To be continued.

28 May 2015


This morning I received a letter from a reader in America asking for prayers. His first name was Christopher. If he would like to give me his email address as a Comment on this blog, I will delete it without publishing it and use email to reply.

26 May 2015

Responsa ad dubia

Hello Tommy! I reprint below something that I posted on April 24 about this matter of validity which you raise. "Tantum ergo" had raised it.

Hello Tantumergo! And Welcome! Your question, about the "Validity" of Eucharistic Prayer II, is so pastorally important that I think I'd better deal with it instantly.

Unless some priest is such a mad ingenious fool that he decides not to use wheat bread and grape wine, or misses out the Lord's Words at His Last Supper, it is very difficult for him to make a Mass invalid. Even if he were to be a secret atheist! Because of the chaotic situation which arose after Vatican II (but not mandated by the Council) devout laypeople quite often ask your sort of question. If you really want to read all the technical details about what is 'valid' and what is 'invalid' please look back at some earlier posts I gathered together at 4 September 2014; and also read 20 November 2013, 12 May 2014, and 13 March 2015. You see how often people do get worried! I'm sure this will not be the last time I am asked to take up a question like yours.

But my advice to anybody in your position is: Don't worry. Because using EP II certainly does make the Lord's Body and Blood to be present, and truly does offer them in Sacrifice. No ifs, no buts.

Back to Tommy ... the actual words of the form for consecrating a Bishop, introduced in the post-Conciliar Pontifical, had previously been used, for centuries, by Eastern Churches in communion with Rome or whose episcopacy Rome accepted, to consecrate bishops. When this was pointed out to Archbishop Lefebvre, he stopped doubting the efficacy of the rite. As for the Form of Ordaining a priest, the post-Conciliar Pontifical made one very slight change which silly people made a song and dance about. But the change in fact simply changed the wording back to what it had been in the first Christian millennium. If this wording really is inadequate to ordain, then S Gregory the Great, poor chap, went through his life ordaining invalidly. So did all the popes for more than a thousand years. People who claim this seem to me to be funny sorts of "Catholics".

I do get quite cross with these individuals who, because of their own passionate desire for "the Conciliar Church" not to have any true Sacraments, ignore what the Church has taught for centuries about validity.

17 May 2015

"The Dome": Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The Dome was still preoccupied withe the "South India Problem"; a part of the Anglican Communion had united with various Protestant sects in an amalgamation providing that 'non-conformist' ministers would officiate in South India without any sort of Anglican Ordination. The English Convocations, only three years previously, had put in place a system of partial intercommunion which maintained links between the the Church of England and those South Indian ministers whose ordination had been Anglican. Papalist Anglicans, not surprisingly, had vivid opinions about the illogicality of this uneasy compromise.

But other problems were beginning to appear. The March 1958 edition carried this story:

"The Rev. C.A.C. Hann, D.D., Principle of Lichfield Theological College, has stated that he has resigned on account of the betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice by the Convocation of Canterbury in its recent Resolutions on the Pastoral Care of the Divorced ... he says:
'In May last the Lower House of the Canterbury Convocation passed Resolution 2A ... As a result of this, it will be possible, provided certain conditions are fulfilled, for a divorced person who has "re-married" during the lifetime of a former partner to receive the Holy Communion. I protested most strongly against this resolution as denying Catholic Faith and Practice. Then, in September last, it was announced that a Worcestershire incumbent had gone through a form of marriage with a divorced woman whose husband was still alive ... When I read this I came to the conclusion that the Church's attitude towards divorce was the result of the desire to be "comprehensive" and, on the principle of Anglicanism, to unchurch nobody if it was possible to keep him within the Church. To my mind this was an indication that the Church of England is prepared to maintain its characteristic principle and its comprehensiveness even at the cost of sacrificing its professed adherence to Catholic Faith and Practice.
" If I felt - as I did - that the Resolution in fact denies important elements in the Catholic doctrines of Matrimony, of Holy Communion, of Grace, and of the Sin of Adultery, my re-action to to the decision of the authorities of the Church in the case of the Worcestershire incumbent was one of complete and utter disgust. To be perfectly candid, it seems to me that such action could not be taken by a Church in which the Grace of God was allowed free course.
"There is only one way to fight to the death such betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice, and that is to become exclusively Catholic. ..."

ANIMADVERTITE: (1) Things hit the Church of England about fifty years before they hit the Caholic Church; and
(2) it is important to continue to use technical terms such as "Adultery" and "had gone through a form of marriage". Talking about "remarried divorcees" just sells the pass.

15 May 2015

"The Dome": a Proto-Ordinariate?

From January 1958 until June 1959, a monthly "Newspaper for Anglican Catholics" was produced and sold; it was called The Dome and had a bright, attractive format. Its agenda was what is sometimes called Anglo-Papalist; but, in line with the attitudes of Fr Fynes Clinton, it was also very sympathetic to Orthodox hierarchs and communities. I propose to give you extracts from it from time to time. But, today, an extract from the Daily Telegraph (foolishly, my scissors, which were only seventeen years old at the time, removed the heading and date: it must be June or July 1959) about its final demise.

"The Vatican has rejected a plan for a 'Transitional Church' to be be recognised by the Holy See, and which might have involved the secession to Rome of many Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity from the Church of England.
"The decision, though charitably made 'for the good of the Universal Church', has killed the hopes of Anglicans who have long worked for corporate, or even partial, reunion with the Roman Catholic Church. Rome has made clear that no 'concessions', such as the plan suggested, can be made.
"The plan, originally drawn up in the United States, was taken to Rome in January by Rev. Frederic Davis, curate at S Francis, Oxhey, Herts.
"There it was discussed with Fr Charles Boyer, the Jesuit scholar, president of the Unitas Association. He acted as an intermediary with the Vatican, which after six months has indicated it is unacceptable. The plan contemplated:
   Recognition or ratifification by Rome of Orders (hitherto declared invalid) of Anglican clergy who joined the 'Transitional Church'.
   In certain cases, a married priesthood.
   An 'English Rite' with at least part of the Mass in English.
   Evensong and Benediction in English.


"It was recognised that the difficulties were formidable. Those accepting the 'concessions' would have to 'go into the wilderness.' Clergy would be relinquishing their livings and, with their congregations, their churches.
"But the sponsors argued that the 'Transitional Church', recognised by Rome, would act as a bridge and would, in the long run, facilitate the conversion of Enland to the Roman Faith. It is likely that this view was not taken by the Roman hierarchy in Britain.
"Fr Davis has resigned his curacy and is joining the Roman Catholic church. The Anglo-Catholic monthly newspaper the Dome, which he founded in January last year, and which had a circulation of about 5,000, is being wound up."

There was an elegant ditty circulating at the time:
"The Dome
has gone to Rome
but Prism 
is still in schism."

(Prism being a lively but non-Papalist journal.)

14 May 2015

Shome Mishtake?

On the occasion of Pope Benedict's Birthday I was looking through ... sentimental old thing that I am ... some photographs in a glossy book which someone gave me very soon after his Inauguration. I was horrified to find a couple of photos of him, walking apparently unprotected, amid a crowd of exuberant young people. He was just about to kiss a baby, holding its cheeks between his hands; his face laughing in genuine pleasure and, in his eyes, that shy but warm and gentle look.

How can this be? We know that babykissing and such business was an innovation by Pope Francis because of all his humility ktl.. The Media have explained that it was how he showed how different he was to the stuffy pompous popes who went before him. These photographs must be forgeries!

Even more confusingly, I have seen a very recent videoclip showing Pope Francis going through the square in the popemobile on a day when it had been raining until a quarter of an hour before. The circumambient Security Men had obviously been given instructions that Babies And Cripples Is Off Today, because none was thrust up at the Pontiff. But ... stay!! the Popemobile has stopped! Somebody is carrying a white thing up to the Pope ... have the Bowels of Pontifical Mercy finally burst open? ...  could it be a baby? ... it would have to be a very small one ... Ah no! It's just someone bringing him a dry skull-cap ...

I suppose there must still have been some moisture in the air. And we old gentlemen do have to look after ourselves.

13 May 2015

"The English Orthodox"

I am glad that Fr Anthony Chadwick is keeping alive a lovely little booklet (I have a 1988 edition) by the late Raymond Winch, called The Canonical Mass of the English Orthodox. This attempts to establish that the form of the Eucharist known to Anglo-Saxon Christians is the canonical entitlement of modern "English Orthodox"; in other words, to be Orthodox you don't have to be Byzantine. (This would seem to be a necessary distinction to make in order to sustain a belief that the collection of Particular Churches collectively and popularly known as "the Orthodox" constitute the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.)

And that Anglo-Saxon Mass is, of course, substantially the Roman Rite as brought to this country by the Augustinian Mission. Winch attempted to establish how this rite should be done; which, of course, is a distinctly broader question than the mere establishment of texts. But you can't celebrate the Eucharist without texts; and Winch's attitude here is surefooted: you wo'n't find any nonsense in him about "correcting" the rite by inserting a Byzantine Epiclesis. But there is one detail where I'm not sure that Winch's conclusion can be sustained.

"... una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N ... communicantes ...". It is commonly held that this use of papa goes back to a time when it did not exclusively mean the Bishop of Rome (or Alexandria!). It refers to the local bishop (of course, in the local Church of Rome, from which this liturgy comes, the local bishop was the Bishop of Rome). So "English Orthodox" clergy should, at that point, just name their own bishop, and not the Bishop of Rome and (also) not their own "Patriarch" or autocephalous Archbishop. Just the one name! And this is ecclesiologically attractive in as far as the local "particular" Church is "The Church".

The problem is that in a very convincing paper by L. Eizenhofer (Sacris Erudiri VIII, 1 (1956), the writer argues that the Memento is originally diaconal and that the logic of the Canon brackets together una cum ... with communicantes ....  (I firmly believe this.) He then deploys texts from Tertullian, Cyprian, Optatus, Augustine, Leo, Felix, Simplicius and Gelasius, to build up the argument that this collocation is designed explicitly to assert the necessity for communion with the Petrine See of S Peter. I quote: "Communicare und communio sind die Worter, um die sich dann fast alles dreht in den Briefen und Traktaten, die die Papste, besonders Gelasius I  (492-496), der auch die Briefe seiner beiden Vorganger Simplicius (468-483) und Felix III (483-492) verfasst hat, gegen das Akacianische Schisma (484-519) schrieben. Da begegnen sie uns sozusagen auf jeder Seite und in jedem Kapitel, oft in vielfacher Wiederholung. Hie communio Acacii, hie communio Sancti Petri. Wer mit solchen Communio halt, die von der romischen Communio ausgeschlossen sind, der ist selbst excommuniziert". (No umlauts ... I dunno how to do them, or, for that matter, accents in French; and I leave it untranslated because I'm nervous about making a howler ... if some benevolent Germanist were to translate it on the thread, out of gratitude I will offer a Mass for his/her intentions.)

If, in the terminology of the Roman Church in those centuries, this passage of the Canon asserts or assumes the necessity of being in communion with Rome, or of Rome as a test of Catholic Communion, there would be a problem about using una cum papa nostro N to name the local bishop, as Winch and others suggest, unless they really are willing to assert that communio with their local bishop is ecclesiologically an essential marker of Catholic Communion.

But then, wouldn't you expect there to be some problem about using a a text crafted in Rome, in an ecclesial context out of communion with the Roman See?

(I would prefer any comments to engage with Eizenhofer's paper rather than with my summarising.)

12 May 2015

Money and Concelebration.

Benedict XIV (1740-1758) concludes his argument that concelebrants are, each of them, true celebrants (pariter concelebrant) by dealing with the question of concelebrants accepting Mass-stipends. This is the acid test. You are stealing from the laity if you accept a Mass-stipend but do not say the Mass for the intention of the donor. So the question is: if a hundred priests concebrate, can a hundred priests accept, each of them, a Mass-stipend for that same Eucharistic celebration? Now ... traddies among you had better hold on tightly to something fixed to the ground, because you are not likely to enjoy what follows ... the answer given by the Sovereign Pontiff is an unambiguous Yes. In other words, each concelebrant has precisely the same sacramental standing as a priest saying his own private Mass. Watch my lips: Each : one : is : saying : Mass.

It is not surprising that, for the next two centuries, manualists concurred with this weighty papal judgement. Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini, had an immense reputation, based equally upon his own erudition and his papal status. In the last expiring months of the Old Rite (which had at that point received only two or three trifling modifications), on March 7 1965, a Rite of Concelebration was promulgated for use with the old rite. In accordance with actual words of the Council, the document was less than whole-hearted in its endorsement of daily Concelebration when all the concelebrants are presbyters, but the rite was intended to be used universally at Ordinations, Consecrations, Abbatial Blessings, in Councils, Synods, and Episcopal meetings, and at both Masses on Maundy Thursday.

As far as Maundy Thursday Concelebration is concerned, this is something which had not lost its last foothold in the Latin Church until our own time. The Rite of Lyons, which survived until the Council, provided that on that one day six presbyters had the right to sit with the Archbishop and concelebrate (honor sedendi et offerendi). This was but the last survival of a widespread practice of such concelebration in French cathedrals during the Counter-Reformation period.

So those 1965 provisions seem to me a thoroughly 'organic' liturgical development. They seem to me to draw, not as revolutionary liturgical subversives so often and so cheerfully do, upon dubious, impobable, and unedifying reconstructions of "what the Early Church did", but upon a broad consideration of the Latin Church's whole liturgical tradition; upon the Magisterium, and especially (when the meaning of the Roman Rite is concerned) that of Roman Pontiffs; and upon the consensus of reliable manualists.They seem to me to rest on the consistent and reiterated teaching of Popes and Doctors over the last millennium. They are not some load of rubbish dreamed up by archbishop Bugnini's generation.

And (paragraph 10) they concur with the judgement on Mass-stipends of Benedict XIV and those who followed him: Singuli concelebrantes stipendium legitime percipere possunt ad normam iuris.

The mature and settled inheritance, the auctoritas, of the Latin Church prescribes that, normally, each presbyter should celebrate ('presidentially') daily, and do so privately if he is not obliged to serve a pastoral need. This needs to be upheld and, where necessary, restored.

But the notion which one sometimes meets among traditionalists who have not informed themselves of the facts, that any form of concelebration is a treacherous sell-out to the 'Spirit of Vatican II', contradicts the traditions of the Latin Churches and the Magisterium of Popes Innocent III  and Benedict XIV and the considered judgement of S Thomas Aquinas ... and a lot of Counter-Reformation manualists.

11 May 2015


I have a number of academic and other matters on which I must spend some time.

I will continue, Deo volente, to make a daily comment on this blog; but I do not think I shall have much time to check through comments. Nor shall I be able to deal individually with a lot of the greatly increasing number of emails I receive.

I apologise, therefore, for what is likely to seem a discourtesy. I am not sure when I can undertake to return to giving my computer the amount of attention it has been getting for the last year or two; I hope soon.

A week or ten days, perhaps? I will let you know.

Benedict XIV on Concelebration

Innocent III (Pope 1198-1216) made his views on concelebration clear enough; so did S Thomas (see earlier posts). But the former, it could be argued (Durandus did), was writing as a private theologian; and as for the latter, despite his eminence, Cajetan disagreed with him.

Benedict XIV (Pope 1740-1758), undoubtedly one of the half-dozen most erudite men ever to grace the Cathedra Petri, left nothing to chance. As well as in his monumental work de Sacrosancto Missae Sacrificio (Liber III caput xvi), he made his teaching about Concelebration very clear in two magisterial documents, the encyclicals Demandatam (12 December 1743; paragraphs 9-10) and Allatae (26 July 1755; paragraph 38).

The basis of the Sovereign Pontiff's teaching is his conviction that the Eastern and Western churches are at one in this matter so that the practice of the Byzantine East can throw definitive light on the significance of our Latin practice: "It was once a rite common to the Western and Eastern Church equally, that presbyters should offer the Sacrifice of the Mass together with the bishop [copious references follow] ... at the present moment the Rite of Concelebration has grown obsolete in the Western Church, except in the Ordination of Priests which the bishop performs, and in the Consecration of Bishops, which is carried out by a bishop with two other bishops assisting".

He points out that the obsolescence of Concelebration in other circumstances in the West is comparatively recent (temporibus haud ita ab aetate nostra remotis), and that previously the 'disciplina Ecclesiae Occidentalis' demanded (postulabat) that on major solemnities, when a bishop was celebrating, presbyters should celebrate together with (una cum) the bishop - and the words of Innocent III are one of a number of exempla that he draws in to support the assertion. Not that he believes Concelebration is confined to Concelebration cum episcopo. He had to dealing with a request from Byzantines who desired to celebrate the Eucharist daily but who lacked enough altars to do so; Byzantine custom insists that every Eucharist be celebrated on a 'fasting' altar. He categorically refuses them permission to celebrate twice on the same altar and advises them instead to concelebrate "with a bishop or with another priest".

He insists that concelebrants should vest as celebrants and utter the words of Consecration "just as if they were saying Mass on their own [perinde ac si sacrosanctum sacrificium singulatim conficerent]". Benedict denies the wriggle-argument that such priests are merely saying the Words of Consecration "materialiter et recitative", insisting that they utter them "significative". They are true celebrants, albeit secondary ones (etsi secundarii, tamen vere celebrantes).

I do not believe that a laudable desire to shape ones liturgical praxis by the authentic customs of the Roman Liturgy requires that a priest should decline to concelebrate the Maundy Thursday Masses with his Bishop and Presbyterium.

More later.

10 May 2015

S Thomas on Concelebration

S Thomas Aquinas, as his custom was, covers pretty well most of the problems of late C20 Christianity ... Ordination of women; Concelebration ... and does so in a neat formulaic way. First, he crisply formulates an erroneous opinion; then disposes of it with Respondeo.

So first he states a propositio sometimes advanced in neo-traditionalist circles: That many priests cannot consecrate one and the same Host. He disposes of this - he was a good Catholic - by pointing to what the Church does. "According to the custom of a number of Churches the newly ordained concelebrate". The problem of rogue concelebrants Jumping The Gun he disposes of in exactly the same way as Pope Innocent III (see previous post) had done: "And it is not true that by this the consecration over the same Host is doubled; since, as Innocent III says, the intention of all must be referred (ferri) to the same instant of Consecration".

Having disposed of that little technical difficulty, he justifies the practice in itself: "Since a priest does not consecrate except in the persona of Christ, and the many are one in Christ, therefore it does not matter whether this Sacrament is consecrated through one or through many".

There is no doubt that the practice of Concelebration has become unseemly since the Council. Those of us who are hermeneutic-of-continuity traditionalists will do well to rethink the way we use Concelebration. But the fashion in some circles of ridiculing all use of Concelebration, and of denying that what the newly ordained do with their Bishop really is true Concelebration, is ill-informed and gives 'traditionalism' a bad name. We must avoid the temptation (as we struggle to set Tradition back upon her pedestal) to make 'Tradition' up ourselves; and to forget that the lady has many things new and old in her treasury.

Innocent III was a Pope, and a learned one, and as Bishop of Rome was entitled authoritatively to interpret the practice of his own Church. And S Thomas Aquinas was no mean Doctor. Not that the story ends with them.

Next, Benedict XIV.

9 May 2015

Pope Innocent III on Concelebration

For a number of years, before I came to believe that Concelebration should only be done rarely and under the presidency of one's bishop, I concelebrated each morning with my colleagues (except on those mornings when I said a Latin Mass in a different Chapel with the boys and masters who liked that sort of thing). I was disconcerted by a concelebrating colleague who had a habit of edging his voice ahead of mine even when I was Principal Celebrant. Why should he, I fretted, snatch the Mass from me by consecrating ahead of me and leaving me without the substances of bread and wine to consecrate myself? So I developed a habit of getting a good head of breath earlier in the Institution Narrative so that I could keep in sync with him. I needn't have bothered. A Pope sorted this problem out for me 800 years ago.

Innocent III (1198-1216) takes it for granted that "from time to time many priests concelebrate" and adds "the Cardinal Presbyters of Rome have been accustomed to stand around the the Pontiff and to consecrate together with him" - a pretty blunt and authoritative indication from the Bishop of Rome as to the meaning of the Rites of his own Church. What concerns him is this very question of what happens if they don't keep their voices together at the words of Consecration. "Is the one who first pronounces the words the only one who confects the Sacrament?" His answer to this is that "Whether the priests utter them before or after, their intention must be referred to the instant at which the Bishop says them, with whom principally they are concelebrating, and then all consecrate and confect at the same time".

Some modern 'traditionalists' believe that all Concelebration is wrong.  Innocent III thought differently.

I wonder if S Thomas Aquinas agrees with him? I'll answer that question next.

7 May 2015

Lords Spiritual

Election day ... one recalls the old bewhiskered jokes: "Sunshine until 5.00 p.m., followed by torrential rain, would be worth 30 marginals to the Conservative Party." The Irish maxim: "Vote early, Vote often". More contributions?

A friend raises the question of Mitred Abbots in our House of Lords. The Abbey of Ampleforth convinced the College of Heralds that it was the lawful successor body of Westminster (the last survivor of the Marian community under Abbot Feckenham having formally conveyed the rights of his House to an exiled English Benedictine community) and therefore entitled to use its Arms. The House of Lords traditionally had much experience of calling titles which had been dormant for centuries out of their dormancy. Could it reinstate Westminster/Ampleforth? What is the difference between Dormancy and Abeyance? Were the mitred Abbots ever legislated out of Parliament, or was it simply assumed that, since after 1559 there weren't any, they need not be noticed in statutes? I bet somebody out there knows.

6 May 2015


I provide a thread for a friend to raise some interesting questions.

5 May 2015


There is a myth which is endlessly repeated ... I groan every time I read it ... about the liturgical reforms of S Pius V. It goes like this:

(1) He wished to standardise and centralise. So he ordered everybody to use his new edition of the Roman Missal (but he did permit those with rites more than 200 years old to keep them).

This is pretty well the opposite of what his legislation ordered. He:

(2) Ordered those with such old rites to keep them. But, if they positively wanted to adopt his new edition instead, he permitted them to adopt it AS LONG AS THE BISHOP AND THE UNANIMOUS CHAPTER WERE IN AGREEMENT.

If you don't want to believe me, I suggest you read the actual TEXT of Quo primum yourself and find out. DO NOT READ SOMEBODY'S SUMMARY OF THE BULL, BECAUSE THAT WILL (almost certainly) JUST TELL YOU THE MYTH.

If you want more detail, with a fuller account of the liturgical context in the middle years of the sixteenth century, you will find a much longer explanation on my blog, 6 December 2014.

I sha'n't enable comments which show no signs of the writer having read the bull or of reading my piece from last December and simply splutter at me; or disdainful comments which tell me that I'm just splitting hairs. If you can't see the immensely profound difference between (1) and (2), it's not worth having a discussion.

3 May 2015

Those May festivals again

I have noticed in the Angelus Press ORDO that the Masses of the Invention of the Holy Cross (May 3), S John before the Latin Gate (May 6), and the Apparition of S Michael (May 8), may be said as IV class festal Masses because they are included by the 1962 Missal in its Appendix. I presume this information is accurate, and commend it to those whom it may concern. (Let's have no pedantry here: any pick-axe to break the pack-ice is to grabbed with both hands.)

This Appendix appears to have some parallelism with the provision by the 'Gregorian' Sacramentary of the texts which follow the Praefatiuncula Hucusque ( ... illa collegimus, in quibus, cui animo sedent, potest repperire)! Similarly, after S Pius X had shifted onto fixed days of the month all those festivals which earlier devotional habits had plonked onto fixed Sundays, ORDOs continued to offer some relief from this now-fashionable austerity: "Hodie celebrari potest unica Missa Sanctissimi Nominis Mariae", or even "Hodie celebrari possunt omnes Missae (praeter Conventualem) Sacratissimi Rosarii BMV" (check this out in your St Lawrence Press ORDO). It is a shame that the merciless, ruthless, singleminded revisers of the period Pius XII-Paul VI were so sure of themselves and had so little humanity, so little respect for the inculturated pieties and affections of ordinary clerics and laics. What an unprecedented rupure they did insist upon!

I do not possess a copy of the 1962 Missal; I would be genuinely grateful if readers who do have one could keep me posted about little matters of interest, such as this Appendix, which I might have missed.

2 May 2015

S Athanasius and his mouth

Doctors of the Church commonly, both in the Novus (see, e.g., S Athanasius) and Vetus Masses, have an Introit which begins In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os eius et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae ... in the Latin, but, according to the New ICEL translation, In the midst of the Church he opened his mouth, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom ...

I am worried by the implied translation of eius. In Latin there are two words for his. We use suum when 'his' refers ('reflexive') back to the subject of the verb (and, in effect, means 'his own'). We use eius when 'his' does not refer back to the subject of the verb. So 'his' cannot refer back to 'he'. The character who 'opened' did not open his own mouth. If the Latin had meant to say 'he opened his [own] mouth', the word would have to be suum.

The subject both of 'opened' and of 'filled' has therefore to be Dominus, the Lord; even though it comes a bit late in the Latin (Latin word order is more flexible than English). So the introit means In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth and filled him with the spirit of wisdom ... .  Divine initiative ... prevenient grace ...

"But" - you cry - "probably Fr H is getting this wrong. Excessive pedanticism, combined with their innate arrogance, is the reason why all right-thinking people hate, loath, and detest all classicists so much".

You are probably right about most of that, but I have not got this little matter wrong. Try the Septuagint, where the subject of the sentence is in fact Divine Wisdom; she is the subject of every verb in the relevant passage (Ecclesiasticus 15:1-5). In the Neo-Vulgate, the same is true. And in the Authorised Version and the RSV. And, in the 1949 Burns Oates Latin-English Missal, Mgr Ronald Knox, no mean classicist, no mean biblicist, translates this introit The Lord moved him to speak before the assembled people, filling him with the spirit of wisdom ...

It's an interesting passage. Close examination will reveal to you that the translations I have listed have the verb in the future; and that one line preserved in the Vulgate is missing elsewhere. Hebrew tenses don't work like Indo-European tenses; and the Vulgate sometimes preserves a better text than other versions - its variant readings are always worth taking seriously. (There must be someone out there who would enjoy getting into the Vetus Latina ... and there are some Hebrew fragments of Sirach ...)

The introduction to the Neo-Vulgate wisely expresses doubt whether an "original text" of this book, 'The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach', otherwise known as 'Ecclesiasticus'** [not to be confused with Ecclesiastes], ever was or could be recoverable; an agnosticism with which I would like to see more editors, both of sacred and of profane texts, handling their documents. Catholics, free from the fetiches of textual fundamentalism, have less need to be worried by this than do Westcotts and Horts and the 'modern' scholarship of the twentieth century.

** If the bible on your desk doesn't have this book in it, under either name, it means you are using a Protestant bible. Get a Catholic one!