30 June 2015

Rainbow Houses and Fashions

How weird the North American Presidential Residence looked on our TV, in all those silly colours. Time some sensible person sent an army to burn it down. Have we still got an army?

Call me a Daft Limey, or anything else you like: I can't see why there's all this celebrating in honour of Gay Marriage. Everybody knows that the up-to-date and cutting-edge idea in homosexual circles is that homosexuality is inherently promiscuous; therefore, we are told, all the stuff about gay monogamy and fidelity is an attempt by heterosexual imperialism to impose alien concepts and restrictions upon homosexuals. Furthermore, in utilitarian terms it is easy to justify monogamous heterosexual fidelity for as long as there are children to be nurtured, but such considerations are not so obviously inherent in homosexual couplings.

It's a fad. By the time the novelty has worn off, say, in about twenty years, the number of gay 'marriages' will have slumped to something like zero. Betcha. When the new fad has become state-affirmed (simultaneous) polygamy or incest, the picture of two blokes or two gals getting 'exclusively' 'married' 'for life' will seem as deliciously retro as that of a Victorian spinster in crinolines riding a penny-farthing bicycle over cobblestones in a London smog.

27 June 2015


I am taking another, I hope blissful, fortnight away from emails. I hope to post something every day but I shall not moderate and enable comments and I shall not reply to emails.

The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

Very best wishes to the Papa Stronsay brethren, and their NZ brethren, on this wonderful solemnity. I said Mass this morning, from the Appendix pro aliquibus locis, for their Good Estate and for their Intentions. I have the most happy memories of this day, in 2012, when some of them made the journey down to Oxford, and accompanied me into London the following day for my First Mass in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, at that lovely Lady Altar in the Brompton Oratory, together with the admirable Fr Ray. And of my stay at the Monastery last year.

Right thinking people who don't already subscribe to Catholic, the Papa Stronsay newspaper, would be well advised to do so. Loads of news from all over the world; and loads and loads of absolutely magnificent pictures. In the most recent number, pictures of the S Agatha's Day celebrations in Catania; I think I'll send that page to our Ordinariate Shrine of S Agatha in Southport, where I had the privilege of preaching at their Patronal Festival a couple of years ago. Loads of decent religion down there! I enthusiastically commend their Sunday Mass to those within range who hunger for true Catholic Liturgy. Especially if you can't get to Catania ...

And pictures of His Excellency the Bishop of Copenhagen, Czeslaw Kozon, ordaining subdeacons in Gestratz. A truly pastoral bishop, who invited me to celebrate the Extraordinary Form in his Chapel (he served it himself) and breakfasted me afterwards. Kind, interested, humble, and gracious. He was glad to hear all about the Ordinariate. Indeed, all right thinking Catholics are!

Catholic is only £5 (UK);
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www.papastronsay.blogspot.com (has a 'Donate' button)

Catholic Ecumenism

Whooppee!!! A fascinating post on the Eponymous Flower about an attempt to reconstitute a united Church of the East, in communion with the See of S Peter, out of the three fragments into which it is currently broken. I hope and most devoutly pray that this may be true, and may lead to the desired goal. Rome has already prepared the way for this by its Christological agreement with the Assyrians; and its acceptance of the adequacy of the rite of Addai and Mari.

And the Society of S Pius X tells us that, after the June ordinations, it will have a priesthood of over 600.

My own view is that Separated Brethren should be viewed differently depending on whether they are officially set on a course of convergence towards, or divergence from, Catholic Unity. For example: the worldwide Anglican establishment increasingly distances itself from Catholic teaching on Holy Order and Sexual Morality. Since the latter is the main point currently at issue between the Church and the World, we must, surely, take seriously the plain fact that our 'partners in dialogue' are now increasingly committed to assisting the Devil's work, in opposition to the Body of Christ. Can anyone doubt that they are becoming more and more part of the Enemy's plan? Of course, we should not decline to talk to them; but that dialogue, as Walter Kasper made clear when he addressed the English Anglican bishops, must, realistically, be on the basis of a changed understanding of what they are and what they want.

Christians, however, who are on a course of convergence with Catholicism, should surely be treated differently. I hope that the authorities in Rome will not make an issue of details which, in a situation of restored unity and amity, would settle themselves. And, to put it crudely, our Christian brethren in the Arab world could do with a bit of a break from bad news and bloody death.

One final point. There are still some good Catholic folk in exsilio within the Anglican Communion. I think there should be a renewed openness towards Anglican clergy who are considering their position. I am far from being part of the inner counsels of the Church, but the rumours we all hear suggest that, somewhere deep in the machinery, there may be a more grudging spirit with regard to the integration of such excellent men into Catholic Unity and Catholic priesthood. We hear talk of age-limits; of delaying ordination until after a period of formation. I would be so very relieved to be proved wrong ...

Unity matters. We should actively discern the places where the Holy Spirit is actively and manifestly at work bringing schism to an end and we should actively and generously collaborate with Him.

26 June 2015

Mass in Greek at S Denys

My friend Joshua, an erudite contributor to this blog since the beginning, draws our attention to a fascinating example of the Roman Rite partially in Greek, as used in Bourbon France. Should we see this as an example of a marriage between Catholicism and the Renaissance of Greek language and literature in the educated classicising West? See the thread. Read it and be enthralled.

25 June 2015

"Science says", does it?

The Irish Times is a very Grauniad sort of newspaper in its editorial biases, so it must be a pure coincidence that, on the very day when the Holy Father's Encyclical on the Environment was published, its long-time Science Correspondent, Professor Emeritus William Reville (a biochemist and a very accessible writer) of University College Cork (go there ... a lovely quadrangle worthy of Oxford ... fantastic Harry Clarke glass in the Chapel ... they do their academic ceremonies in Latin ...) dropped rather a bomb-shell. Half of the research work published in the Natural Sciences is, he says, so dubious as not to be fit for purpose. He cites writers including a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine ("It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published ...") and speakers at a meeting (Chatham House Rules) organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust.

The Editor-in-chief of the Lancet attended that meeting, and wrote: "The case against Science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, Science has taken a turn towards darkness ... The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few jornals. Our love of 'significance' pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairytale ... Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication ... and individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct."

It would be thoroughly puerile to try to use all this to mount some sort of gleeful attack upon the Natural Sciences. It would also leave one deservedly wide open to a gigantic Tu quoque. Only yesterday, I was reading a large book in the field of Papyrology, written by somebody who had needed to reexamine a large number of published papyri for his own research purposes. He repeatedly discovered that the published accounts were inaccurate. His realisation generated a large, originally unintended, part of his book, his Appendix 3, listing thousands of examples of error ... which he had discovered entirely obiter! I made a similar discovery a decade ago when working on late medieval records in Devon. You can't rely on published accounts; you just have to go back to the manuscript originals. And take them with a pinch of salt! Don't totally believe anybody! And as for what is laughably called "New Testament Studies", two thirds of it is rubbish written by people who are blithely unaware that, if you start with a theory which is, let us say, roughly .75 probable, and put on top of it another theory which is roughly .75 probable, you're already down to something like .56 probable, and one more similar stage takes you down to well under .5 probable; in other words, your brilliant cumulative theory in its three humanly highly plausible and attractive stages, accompanied by all your terribly persuasive rhetoric, is more likely to be false than it is to be true.

However, there is something slightly different about the Natural Sciences: (1) there are some poor, simple, credulous  souls out there who believe that 'scientists' are invariably austere and logical high-minded individuals, servants of a stern mistress, devoted to following the objective evidence wherever it may inexorably lead them; and: (2) a belief exists that 'Science' is very important and that 'Science' equals Truth and should be believed and followed by governments and individuals. "We should let ourselves be guided by the Science", cry the politicians. For as long as it suits them.

'Scientists' are, quite simply, human beings just like the rest of us. And 'Science' is one academic discipline, often imperfectly pursued, among many other such. That's all I'm saying. Nothing more.

Reville concludes: "That great cathedral of scientific progress, the peer-reviewed scientific literature, is beginning to crumble."

Join the club! Welcome back to the Human Race!

23 June 2015

Instrumentum Laboris (VIS)

"Eventual introduction of a Penitential Way": suspicious.
Synod Fathers allowed to communicate at their discretion with the Media: good.

22 June 2015

English Public Schools

I accidentally heard the 'Sunday Service' on the Home Service. It consisted of a paean of praise for some place called Wellington College (over here we are still wallowing in self-satisfaction at having just about managed not to lose the battle). Never have I heard such a brazen display of using religion (and, what is far worse, the BBC) in order to promote the fortunes of a fee-paying establishment. It included a cameo 'appearance' by Sir Anthony 'Shameless' Selden himself, reading the 'College Prayer'. Arthur Wellesley is now (equipollently?) canonised, and Welly Colly is his shrine.

Better news about Winchester College, or rather, about everyone's favourite Wyccamical bishop (is he the only one? I suspect so. How are the mighty fallen!). From him we now hear positive talk about Russian Orthodoxy; and even use of S John Paul's phrase about the Church "breathing with two lungs"! Ecumenism seems to be infiltrating 'the Resistance'!! Where will it all end!!! Three cheers for the Bishop of Broadstairs!!!! ... er ... up to a point, Lord Copper ...

21 June 2015

Respect for canonical superiors

Readers will know how punctilious I am in never criticising my canonical superiors, even by implication. Today, however, I shall break the rule of a lifetime.

Every year, on this day, the Summer Solstice, New Age and Neo-Druid and assorted nutters gather at Stonehenge to observe the rising of the Sun.

This year, it is reported, Providence intervened with a cloud cover preventing Sunrise from being visible.

This is good, but it is only one step in the right direction.

If I were Providence, I would ensure that this happened every year for a dozen or so centuries.

Eventually, they might get the point.

Am I the only person who reacts to all this "Stonehenge is a primitive astronomical observatory" stuff by murmuring "The port is with you, my lord"?*

*Vide the film Kind Hearts and Coronets.

20 June 2015


I would be grateful if somebody who happens to notice when Laudato si is made available in its official Latin Text could let me know, so that I can read it.

I would like to make a preliminary comment. I think it becomes us all to read this Letter intending to be taught by it and by the one who sits in the Chair of Peter and wears the Fisherman's Ring. It is not infallible, but then, neither am I. We rightly condemn those who rubbished Humanae vitae when it was published; and those who do not accept the binding authority of Ordinatio sacerdotalis. We stand under our own condemnation if we treat this Encyclical with that same disrespect with which the Wolves malevolently treat the Church's Magisterium. (This is still true, even though it is obvious that this Encyclical does not intend to impose dogma or definitively to settle a particular and precise moral question, as each of those two documents did.)

If we find in this or in any other Encyclical some particular teaching which we genuinely have trouble understanding or appropriating, then, in my view, the most fitting response is simply not to talk about that particular aspect of its teaching until we do find that we can speak positively about it.

There is something else we should remember. This Encyclical, like all such documents, was not whimsically dreamed up in the middle of the night by some individual called Jorge Bergoglio. It is the formal teaching of the Mother and Mistress of all the Churches, and its text will, beyond any possible shadow of doubt, have been in and out of the competent dicasteries in a succession of different drafts. In particular, it will have been scrutinised under the care of Cardinal Mueller. And it is not just that Mueller has shown himself a very safe pair of doctrinal hands (he was, after all, entrusted by Pope Benedict with editing his opera), but he has spoken candidly about the enhanced role his dicastery inevitably, structurally, has when the Roman Bishop is himself not a professional theologian. Arrogant though I may be, I am not sure that I wish to back my own judgement against Gerhard Mueller's on any ordinary day of the week!

And, while I'm about it, another cognate point: I am not panicking about the appointment of Bishop Bonny to the Synod. Nobody will be able to say, later, that the heterodox were refused an opportunity to put their views across. This may very well be the reason also for that infamous lecture by Kasper. I am increasingly inclined to suspect that this Pope, while not a subtle sophisticate like his predecessor, does a rather good line in plain homely wiliness. Perhaps he has even heard the old Anglo-Saxon adage that it is best to have ones enemies inside the tent ****ing out than ...  And I rather think he might recently have suggested to Kasper that the latter should set the record straight on the degree of support the lecture had from Francis himself. Otherwise, why do you think Kasper made that embarrassing retraction? And don't you feel that the Enemy is rather more on the defensive, knowing that so many of his emissaries have been flushed out?

17 June 2015

Mutual Enrichment

Another old post of mine, in support of Cardinal Sarah's enlightened views about the Enrichment od the Ordinary Form

The Abbot of Fontgombault, in an interview reported in the blog Rorate Caeli, said (among many interesting things) the following:

Many young priests ... want a liturgy that is richer in the level of rites, associating more strictly the body to the celebration. Would it not be possible to propose in the Ordinary Form the [EF] prayers of the Offertory; to enrich it with [the] genuflections, inclinations, signs of the cross, of the Extraordinary Form? A rapprochement would [thus] easily take place between the two Forms, giving an answer to a legitimate [desire] and, additionally, a longed-for desire of Benedict XVI.

What Father Abbot calls for is exactly what the Ordinariate Use leads the way towards.

16 June 2015

Mutual Enrichment: it's happening!

(1) I know many readers will disagree; but I believe that an important way ahead in the direction of resacralising the Novus Ordo is through the sanctioning of alternatives derived from the Vetus Ordo. Happily, the Ordinariate Ordo Missae has led the way to a very significant and exemplary extent. Its authorisation deserves to be bracketed with Summorum Pontificum and the New English translation of the Missal, as one of the three major achievements of the last Pontificate in terms of Liturgy; and as a major contribution, from our beloved Anglican Catholic tradition, to the whole Western Church.

Mass may begin with the Tridentine Praeparatio at the foot of the Altar.
The Tridentine Offertory Prayers may be used; they are printed as Form 1 of two alternatives.
Mass may conclude with the Last Gospel.

(2) Moving in exactly the opposite direction: alternative Eucharistic Prayers should be ruthlessly cut back. Their introduction was a flagrant violation of Sacrosanctum Concilium 23; the defence of the innovation by Pietro Marini (p141: " ... consistent with the early Roman liturgy, which actually had used several anaphoras") seems to me ... until someone enlightens me ... a plain lie.

Here again, the Ordinariate Ordo Missae leads the way. It prints, in its main text, (an Anglo-Catholic translation of) the Canon Romanus, the First Eucharistic Prayer, used daily and universally in the Roman Rite until the disorders of the 1960s. (In an appendix, it does provide the pseudo-Hippolytan Prayer "not to be used on Sundays or Solemnities".)

I believe that the single most important liturgical reform which traditional clergy of whatever jurisdiction (if obliged to use the Novus Ordo) can effect, completely lawfully and without any permission from anyone, is to have a definite personal principle of exclusively using the Roman Canon, weekdays as well as Sundays. However much the Roman Rite varied in its various dialects and in different centuries, the Canon was the profoundly sacred moment of Consecration and of Uniformity, both synchronic and diachronic, binding together all who had ever celebrated, all who were at that moment celebrating, that Rite. I regard the introduction of alternative Eucharistic Prayers as by far the worst of the post-Conciliar corruptions. In an act of amazingly arbitrary Clericalism, the revisers placed the central Act of the Rite totally at the mercy of the daily whimsy of each celebrant.

(3) Rubrics should be redirected towards the holiness of the Great Sacrifice.

The most significant example of this is the the double genuflexion, i.e. before and after each Elevation, prescribed in the Ordinariate Rite.

Such things can be found among Novus Ordo celebrants ... both Benedict XVI and Francis have been noticed (thanks to the immediacy of Vatican Player) observing usages derived from the older form of the Roman Rite. And there is someone called Malcolm Ranjith ...

I conclude with a brief comment on today's post in Rorate Caeli. It is post which speaks negatively about the Reform of the Reform. Anglican Catholics for a century brought in the Tridentine rite gradually. While there were parishes where they went overnight from Mattins to the Missal, most clergy gradually added more of the Missal to the Prayer Book, both in terms of text and of ritual, until, perhaps decades later, they had got there. Should we undermine Catholic Clergy who feel they can take their people with them most easily by a gradual transformation of the OF ... until the day comes when the transition to the EF is totally painless?

15 June 2015

ORDINARIATE FESTIVAL (4): More on our Rite

Another repeat of an old post, in honour of Cardinal Sarah's liturgical hopes.
 Quite apart from its sacral and hieratic style of English, the Ordinariate Order of Mass speaks very precisely to the problems of Liturgy in the modern Latin Church at this exact moment.

As you will remember, Pope Benedict XVI established that the 'Tridentine Rite' had, in fact, contrary to popular belief, never been canonically abolished. He clarified, authoritatively, that every single priest of the Latin Church had a right to use it without needing the permission either of the Holy See or any other ecclesiastical authority. So that there are two 'Forms' of the Roman Rite both lawfully in use.

But it is well-known that this great Pontiff looked ahead to a day when the two Forms would converge and eventually become again one single form of the Roman Rite. However, this is going to be a long job. There is so much irrational prejudice on both sides. Among some whose personal preference is for the Ordinary Form, the Extraordinary Form is seen as some sort of return to the Dark Ages of a pre-Conciliar, rigid, sin-obsessed, clericalist Catholicism which makes them wake up in the middle of the night in a feverish sweat. Among some whose own choice is the Extraordinary Form, their narrative of decades of ruthless persecution has made them resistant to the slightest change (in itself, an 'untraditional' attitude since Liturgy has always evolved, gradually and organically).

But the Ordinariate Rite constitutes a stage in that convergence for which Pope Benedict longed, and is thus of very profound significance not simply to members of the Ordinariate but to the whole of the Western Church. In many ways its basic structure is that of the Novus Ordo. But it includes ceremonial from the Vetus Ordo, perhaps most noticeably the double genuflexions at each Consecration. It includes optionally the Praeparatio at the foot of the altar, and the Last Gospel. Of doctrinal importance is its preference for the 'Tridentine' Offertory Prayers said by the priest, full as they are of the language of Sacrifice and Propitiation, and its restoration of the normativeness of the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer, as a movement towards the longed-for and essential phasing-out of the alternative Eucharistic Prayers which Vatican II never envisaged and, indeed, by implication excluded.

These are all factors which contribute powerfully to the resacralisation of the Roman Rite, surely one of the most pressing needs of our time ... and I do not mean just liturgically.

Pope Francis to turn Tridentine?!? The Date of Easter.

 SEE NOW comment on the thread by Hierodeacon.
 According to Corriere della Sera, the Pope has again made the suggestion, which the British Press widely reported him as making more than a year ago in May 2014 when he met His All-Holiness the Patriarch Bartholomew, of a common date for Easter among all Christians. What reporters seem to be uncertain about is whether (1) he is suggesting to Orthodox Patriarchs the proposal discussed half a century ago at Vatican II, of fixing a particular Sunday to which we should all move, with both East and West abandoning their respective Julian and Gregorian Easters; or whether (2) he is going for the distinctly easier option of simply bringing the Latin Churches into line with the Julian Calendar ("adopting the Orthodox Easter"). He feels that it is embarrassing for Christians to say to each other "So when was your Jesus resurrected?"

Frankly, it would be easiest for the West to adopt (2) the Julian (Eastern) calculations. This is because it would be immensely difficult to persuade the Orthodox to change at all. The Orthodox have hitherto never been able to agree even amongst themselves about such changes (attempts in Orthodoxy to make alterations to Calendars have been known to lead to schisms termed 'Old Calendarist'). An obvious example: the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, although united in celebrating Easter and the other moveable feasts on the Julian dates, have never been able to agree amongst themselves about the celebration of the fixed festivals, such as Christmas/December 25. So the Greek Church (but not the Holy Mountain) is 'Gregorian' and keeps Christmas on the same day as we do in Latin Christendom; but for the Russian Church and some other Slavs who are 'Julian', "December 25" does not arrive until the day we call January 7. Put an Orthodox Greek and an Orthodox Russian into the same room and they might easily start fighting about "So when was your Jesus born?". Unless the Greek belongs to one of the three Old Calendarist sects! Or is a monk from Athos!

For the West to adopt, under the guidance of the Sovereign Pontiff, (2), the Julian ("Orthodox") Easter, would have the highly, the exquisitely amusing result of shifting the Latin Churches back to how things were when S Pius V promulgated his Missal and Breviary (until 1582, of course, all the world kept the Julian - "Orthodox" - Easter). Pope Francis would suddenly appear in the role of the man who moved the West back to the Tridentine dates! "All together now, back to S Pius V!" "Quo primum rules OK!" I bet neither his friends nor his foes have hitherto seen Francis in this ultra-traddy light! I rather like it!! His Excellency Bishop Fellay must be breaking open the champagne, if they have any in the cellars at Econe ... do you think they do? Pol Roger, perhaps? I once met a man who ... Oh dear, encroaching senility makes it so difficult for me to stick to the point ... these temptations to take trips down Memory Lane ...

But Western governments ... not to mention the tourist and 'leisure' trades ... are unlikely to view with much enthusiasm (2) the adoption of a Julian Easter which can sometimes be as much as six weeks later than our present Western Gregorian Easter. What secular interests have, since the 1920s, always wanted is (1) an Easter fixed on ... for example ... the second Sunday of April. If Pope Francis hopes to persuade all the separate Autocephalous Byzantine Churches, not to mention the non-Chalcedonian communions who now like to be known as 'Oriental Orthodox', to dump the Nicene calculations which they have insisted on sticking to for seventeen hundred years, and to agree to (1) a comfortable 'secular' date like the Second Sunday in April, I hope he's confident that he's going to be living for an enormously long time!

FOOTNOTE In fact, the rule of the Catholic Church at the moment is that, in countries (such as Greece) where the dominant Christian community observes the Julian ("Orthodox") Easter, even the Latin Rite Christians should do the same so that there will indeed only be one Easter. Orthodox Eastern communities domiciled in traditionally Catholic or Protestant lands are not, of course, prepared to make a symmetrical concession because "it would go against Nicea".

FOOTNOTE The December 25/January 7 business has nothing to do with the Theophany/Epiphany. And the Easter difficulty is in no way connected with the problems (related in S Bede) about 'Celtic' calculations of Easter. Or with the Quartodecimans. Comments which muddy the waters by implying that there are some connections here will not be accepted. Our present divergence only arose in 1582, when the West broke ranks with the East by changing to the Gregorian Calendar. We did so ... what pedants we Latins are ... on the specious grounds that the real, astronomical, Solstices and Equinoxes and the movements of the Sun through the zodiacal zones were no longer happening on the days on which the ecclesiastical calendars claimed they were! Nor will I accept comments which condescendingly inform me of something I've already said ... yes, people do that! Why bother, they feel, to read the whole article before putting the old gentleman right!

14 June 2015

Why the worship of the Ordinariate matters to everybody.

I reprint an old post of mine because Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has recently expressed a hope that the next edition of the (OF) Roman Missal will include, in the interests of Mutual Enrichment, the (EF) Praeparatio and Offertory Prayers. Just as I do in this piece. For the next few days, as well as my usual fresh post around 10.00 every morning, I shall reprint later in each day an old post on this same theme: Bring Back the Praeparatio and the Offertory Prayers as options in the OF!

Where now, I ask, are the sourpusses who were once so sure that our beloved Holy Father would appoint Piero Marini to CDW and thus usher in a new Dark Age of deteriorating Liturgy?

Tomorrow being the Anniversary of the Inauguration, by blessed Benedict XVI, of the British Ordinariate, I venture to repeat the warmest of invitations to Traditionalist Catholics to experience the Ordinariate Rite of Mass. You will know that this Use is authorised by the Holy See; and when we had our great Ordinariate celebration in Westminster last year, with Cardinal Nichols there to show his enthusiastic support, Mgr Keith Newton, our Ordinary, emphatically urged as many of his clergy as possible to use our own rite and thus to display our distinctiveness. 'Our' Mass can be accessed in London at the Assumption, Warwick Street; go there! But I invite you also, if you can get to Oxford, to visit this splendid Rite as celebrated by the Oxford Ordinariate group for the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evenings at 6.00.Why not come? Why not book your flights from Rio or from Tasmania or from Samarkand?

For a Vigil Mass, you cry? I know what you mean. A Vigil Mass can (prescinding from the fact that the most blessed and august and holy Sacrifice of the Mass is always inherently a matter of joy to the entire Cosmos and to the Angels and to ourselves) seem, in its ritual and social expression, a rather sad event in which people are "getting it over with" as painlessly as possible so that they can "enjoy" their Sunday. Fine music and a 'traddy' atmosphere are not commonly evoked by the phrase "Vigil Mass". But with us, the music is of the best, and the heart of Archbishop Lefebvre himself would have been melted by the entire liturgical effect. I will stick out my neck by saying that the Oxford Ordinariate Vigil Mass is, as Vigil Masses go, unique.

And, as I hope you know, the Ordinariate Ordo Missae breathes new life into a venerable liturgical tradition. Until the majority of Anglo-Catholic clergy most unwisely decided, in many cases with great reluctance, that it was their duty to adopt the Novus Ordo in the 1960s and 1970s, Catholic Anglican worship in the Church of England was a marvel. Ignorant people sometimes used to say that "If one Sunday Fr Murphy down at the Sacred Heart happened to flick a fly from his shoulder, the gesture would instantly be mimicked in the local Anglo-Papalist church". Nothing could be more ridiculous, or further from the truth. It was Rome itself that we Anglo-Papalists "aped", not the church-down-the-road. O'Connell-Fortescue was, for us, the last and greatest book of the Bible, and sat comfortably on the Sacristy bookshelf. Heaven (really!) forgive our arrogance, we rather prided ourselves on being different from, and a distinct cut above, Fr Murphy at the Sacred Heart! High Mass, largely unknown among English Roman Catholics, was our Sunday norm.

The Ordinariate Mass gives us back a great deal of our lost ancient glories. The language is the Tudor English which Archbishop Cranmer and King James's Bible translators created to be the superb sacral dialect in which our worship commonly took place. It is a mirror image of the artificial hieratic Latin in which the Old Rite is written.  And, in the Ordinariate Use, we have recovered a vast amount of 'Tridentine' material which the Western Church so sadly lost when the Novus Ordo came marching in: most particularly, the Tridentine emphasis on the Mass as a true propitiatory Sacrifice, to be offered with awe and reverence rather than with folksy chumminess. We can start off humbling ourselves with the Praeparatio at the foot of the altar; we honour the Altar each time with a kiss before we turn away from it; we are able to use the Tridentine Offertory Prayers with their unambiguously sacrificial language; we genuflect both before after each Elevation and after touching the Most Holy; we are encouraged always to use the Roman Canon, and the Libera nos as it was before Archbishop Bugnini 'improved' it; we can end on the magnificently triumphal note of the Last Gospel to bridge that gap between the Incarnate Word and World He was incarnated to redeem. We all truly face God's East, and are not bullied by a laity which demands its rights to watch Father's thoroughly repulsive face at every moment in the Mass. There is a magnificent schola and much of what it sings is, as Vatican II encouraged, in Latin. Patrimonial early Tudor English Church music is one of our specialities. The Ordinariate Rite is an example to the whole of the Latin Rite Church.

'Nuff Said. 6.00 on Saturdays, at the Church of the Holy Rood just South of Folly Bridge in Oxford (jokes about this will be deleted). Angelus before Mass; Anthem of our Lady and wine afterwards.

The thread contains comments offered to a previous edition of this piece, with which I celebrated my return to blogging after a silence which I had deemed prudent because of the attempts that had been made to prevent me from being admitted to the Ordinariate priesthood, on account of my liturgical preferences.

"Anglicanism united not absorbed"

I remember having an entirely good-natured running dispute with the late Dean of Studies at Allen Hall, the totally admirable and affable and hospitable Dr Stephen Wang (Vescovo subito!).

My view was that we of the Ordinariate are Anglicans in full Communion with the See of S Peter. His was that we are Catholics with Anglican Previous.

My instinct is based on a lifetime of longing for the realisation of the vision set before us by Dom Lambert Beauduin and taken up by Cardinal Mercier in the Malines Conversations, of an Anglicanism united but not absorbed.

There is nothing purely abstract here; this is not about how many angels can dance on the head of a needle: it is a practical matter bearing upon the subject of just how distinctive the Ordinariates should be. And even upon the question that nags at some Ordinariate clergy: Keith's Chrism Mass or the Diocesan one? It seems to me that the whole grammar of what blessed Benedict XVI set up, with its culture of rapid admission to the priestly life of the Catholic Church upon the presentation of ones Letters of Orders from ones Anglican Ordinations, points to the duty of consolidating a strong group identity, even in the case of clergy who may be out on loan, full or partial, to diocesan bishops (the synchronic side of things).

Moreover, being in the Ordinariate carries with it the duty of a strong sense of identity with, and continuity from, our past (the diachronic). This is why I keep hammering on about our great 'Patrimony' teachers; not only Blessed John Henry Newman but also Pusey and Keble and Neale; Dix and Farrer and Mascall ... Lewis and Sayers ... separated Doctors of Catholic Truth. Not to mention blessed Charles Stuart and William Laud. Oh, and let's not forget Ken and the Non-Jurors. They are who we are ... transplanted!! Transplanted in coetibus! Patrimony is not just Choral Evensong. Patrimony is Pusey .... and ...... and ........

13 June 2015


                                        GOD'S FINAL WORD IS CALLED JESUS

 It seems that the Holy Father had Medjugorje and its so-called "seers" and their followers in mind when he said this, but what a wonderful and beautifully terse expression it is of Christian Orthodoxy. It puts down the errors of Islam; it is a rebuff to the neo-Gnostic convolutions of the Kaspers and Marxes. It is a superb expression of the function of the Roman Pontiff to act as a barrier, what Blessed John Henry Newman called a remora, against innovation, whether dogmatic or moral; and it could serve as a summary of the the decree Pastor aeternus of Vatican I. Four cheers for our beloved Holy Father!

To those who, like me, have sometimes rather missed the elegance and profundity of the teaching of Benedict XVI, I say: You can't wish for better than this!

11 June 2015


One of my own anxieties about the current ecclesiastical climate is the tendency for 'Traditionalists' to invent contradictions between 'Tradition' and 'Newchurch'. I think we have an example of this in the report about the imminent Encyclical by Eponymous Flower (a blog for which I have great respect). It describes Lodato si (if I have remembered the Medieval Italian correctly) as "the first Encyclical of history also to have a subtitle". I have problems with this. I have by chance before me the Vatican Press Latin original of S John Paul II's Ecclesia de Eucharistia, in which it is given a subtitle ("de Eucharistia eiusque necessitudine cum Ecclesia"). On the handy revolving bookcase just to my right, I have a collection of the old CTS English translations of Papal Encyclicals according to which, at the very least as far back as Pius XI, encyclicals did have subtitles.

Let us not get so excited about ruptures in the Tradition that we spot them where they don't exist.

Personally, I propose to refrain from comments upon the text of this Encyclical until I have read it. And I sha'n't read it until it appears in the authoritative Latin. And here I do have a bit of a problem about ruptures. I was uneasy about the 'rupture' implied by Cardinal Bergoglio's choice of the nomen assumptum Francis, which seemed to set him aside from all popes since the ninth century, as it was a name which had never before been born by a Roman Pontiff. And I have problems about the publication of allegedly Magisterial documents which are formally "presented" in Rome, and read and widely discussed, in vernacular translations before the actual text which invites our obsequium is available. Shall we have, as has happened before during this pontificate, savants learnedly comparing different and dissonant vernacular editions in order to try to suss out what a particular passage is trying to say? Are there not better ways for academics and journalists to spend their time than in such ultimately pointless philological contortions? How many languages are the Faithful, whether lay or cleric, simple or learned, supposed to have at their fingertips, in order to be able to appropriate the Church's teaching?

9 June 2015

The Primatial See of Malines

Not so very long ago, the Tradisphere was pulsating with appehension that Mgr Pietro Marini would be put in charge of the Congregation for Worship. The apprehensions were, to a degree, understandable; Marini, in that job, would have been a very gravely divisive figure; moreover, a book which was ghost-written for him calls his liturgical competence most seriously into question. He never was appointed. I never thought he would be, even if simply because of his age. Instead, the Holy Father made a fine and most appropriate appointment.

Now there are similar apprehensions about the See of Malines. The fear-figure, tradispherically, is now Bishop Bonny, who, like Marini, is also, to an extreme degree, a divisive figure who has adopted for himself a high profile. What seems to me most radically problematic about him is the letter he wrote before the last Synod in which he called into question the letter Humanae vitae of Blessed Paul VI on the grounds that it did not emerge in the way Bishop Bonny thinks it should have done, from a collegial collaboration between the Pope and the Bishops. This seems to me tantamount to attacking the two basic roles the Bishop of Rome has in the Universal Church: of obstructing innovation and preserving the Tradition; and of being the principle of Unity in the visible Church Militant.

My trust in the good sense of our beloved Holy Father inclines me to be as suspicious of this rumour as I was of the Marini rumour.

What has Malines to do with me? Bonds of affection. Memories of dear Cardinal Mercier, of the 'Malines Conversations' which he sponsored; Mercier, the saintly godfather of the great dream of an 'Anglican Church united but not absorbed'. This was the principle which so magnificently was given reality when Benedict XVI founded the Ordinariates.

I cannot convince myself that Bishop Bonny, with his clearly markered desire to be divisive, would be a proper person to wear the mitre of as great a man as Cardinal Mercier, who devoted so much effort to bringing divided Christians into unity.

8 June 2015

First Blessings

What lovelier and more joyful occasions are there than Weddings, Ordinations, Professions?!

And what more striking a sight is there than that at the end of the Ordination, when the Pontiff kneels to receive the blessing of the man he has just ordained.

When a newly ordained priest "gives New Blessings" during the first six months after his Ordination, I do not believe that any particular form of words is prescribed. But the following is by widespread custom often used.

Per impositionem manuum mearum sacerdotalium et per intercessionem beatae Mariae semper Virginis, Sancti N et omnium Sanctorum, omni benedictione caelesti atque terrestri benedicat te Omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. Amen.

[By the imposition of my priestly hands and by the intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, S N and all the Saints, may God Almighty bless you with every blessing both heavenly and earthly, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.]

Here, in English, are the words which the Bishop had said during the Ordination as he anointed the hands of the Newly Ordained:
"Be pleased, O Lord, to consecrate and to sanctify these hands through this Anointing and our benediction ... that whatsoever they shall have blessed may be blessed, and whatsoever they shall have consecrated, may be consecrated and sanctified, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Notice that this prayer is made in the Name of the Incarnate Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. It can be instructive to read the Gospels and to notice the many occasions when our Lord's hands are referred to, either explicitly or implicitly. They are, Holy Mass twice reminds us, sanctae et venerabiles manus. The enfleshed Word did not heal and bless with the Word alone of His tongue, but also with Words of His hands; and at the Table, and upon the Altar of the Cross, He stretched out His hands to suffer and to offer; and displayed them, shot through with Resurrection glory, to His doubting followers.

7 June 2015

A Penance for Frivolity

Rose Marie, wisely, corrected me recently for referring to the elect Vice-Chancellor of this University, a lady of Irish origin, as a "girl from the County Waterford". Would I have desribed a man as "a boy"?

What can I do but plead guilty and throw myself upon the mercy of the court? But convicts are, in some jurisdictions, allowed to make pleas in mitigation.

The vision that had floated before my mind was that of a wild Irish colleen, bare-footed, brought up in a smokey cabin somewhere on the backside of  the Knock-me-down Mountains, skilled in the cultivation of potatoes, adept at strumming the udders of a cow, striding suddenly into the pomposities of faux-sophisticated Oxford.

You see, my mind, in its very great weakness, does tend to dwell on visions of frivolous incongruity. When I wrote recently about the Master of Benets, who appears to have worked with immense distinction in pretty well every university in the known world, I had a picture of him sitting on the Hebdomadal Council in his native peasant lederhosen. (Or am I confusing Saarland with the Tyrol?). The other day, walking past the Salvation Army Citadel in Oxford, which is built on the site of the mediaeval Dominican house, I had a sudden fantasy of knocking on the door and advising them of the appropriateness of adopting the Dominican Rite in their Conventual Chapel. The temptation was so powerful that I very nearly did it. You are right: I am well past my sell-by date.

Sometimes, when I hear of the pontifications of self-obsessed prelates, I like to imagine them as married men, listening to their wives' accurately balloon-pricking assessments. I suffer from this sort of over-vivid and radically disordered imagination.

Megaweird, I know, but we all have our own mental eccentricities. I wonder, Rose Marie, if mine entitle me to any remission of sentence?

6 June 2015


I remind readers that I do not accept gross abuse of the Sovereign Pontiff nor, indeed, of any other fellow-Catholic. With much regret, I have had to deline a particular Comment although it made a number of interesting points. But the words "What a foolish old man!" and, very much more so, the sentence which followed that, are beyond the boundaries which I feel compelled to enforce. I would be very happy to accept the Comment without those two sentences.

I was born in 1941 and am rather a "1968" sort of person, so my preference would naturally be to do without any censorship (except with regard to what may be libellous), as I did in the early years of this blog. But, as I have explained three times before, it has been represented to me that bloggers are deemed to be, to a degree, responsible for what they enable. Hence I decline that sort of remark. To maintain a symmetry of censorship, I also decline remarks from one or two sources at the other end of the spectrum, as well as those from a repetitively Feeneyite source.

Another point I have made before: I also occasionally decline comments which contain multiple typos and bad grammar. This is because I feel that, if somebody is too busy to check through the two or three lines they have dashed off, and to emend them, then they are too busy.

You may wonder why I do not exclude all comments, as numbers of other bloggers do on their blogs. That is because I do this blog partly as an extension of my own curiosity: in the hope of finding out things from those more knowledgeable in particular areas than I am. And sometimes, to test a hypothesis ..."Will this stand up to the examination and criticism of others?"

3 June 2015

The new Evangelisation

Some splendid photos on the Transalpine Redemptorist blog.

2 June 2015


I don't know that I much liked Mgr Fisichella's reference to our Holy Father having a "programme". I rather approved of the somewhat unenthusiastic words about papal 'programmes' in Pope Benedict's Inauguration Homily. I don't actually think that a Bishop of Rome, who is not a secular politician, really needs much of a "programme", except the intention, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to guard piously and expound faithfully the Apostolic Tradition, the Deposit of Faith, handed down through the Apostles; and to act as what Blessed John Henry Newman called a 'remora' against innovation; which amounts to much the same thing. That's his job and, given a World, and a Church, not completely free of errors and corruptions, I'd have thought that it was quite a big enough job-description without curialists trying to make him add 'programmes' to it. Our beloved Holy Father only has 24 hours in his day, and only seven days in his week. Members of the Curia should try to remember this. They should keep their 'programmes' to themselves.

But I got keener when I read on: the second Sunday in October next year is to be dedicated to our Blessed Lady, the Mother of Mercy. (I could have done without the very slight hint, though, that this is only for the sort of people who like that sort of Marian stuff.) This is a most intriguing return to the high baroque Renaissance encrustation of the Sanctorale which lasted until S Pius X (a bit of a sourpuss?) motored like a combine harvester through the Calendar. Until then, 'Green Sundays' barely existed, especially in October, when Holy Rosary Sunday was followed by Maternity of our Lady Sunday, and then Patronage of our Lady Sunday. That admirable pope Benedict XIV was one of the practitioners of this liturgical goodyism: Progress! Moving on! Bring on Benedict XIV!! Tally Ho!!! Lambertini rules OK!

But then things got even better: I recalled that our Lady's title Mother of Mercy was very dear to my old friend, John De Grandisson (pronounced Grahns'n), Bishop of Exeter in the fourteenth century. Even more progress! Back to John XXII!! Vive d'Euse!

Yet stay! Was not this title of our Lady on the dying lips of the much loved S Richard of Chichester, Chancellor of this University, in the century before? Faster still!! Ahead to the thirteenth century!

[The Missae pro aliquibus locis include a Mass for our Lady of Mercy. I expect we shall all be using it a lot during the Jubilee year. Will the Ecclesia Dei people give it an enhanced status so that it trumps ordinary double ... I mean, III class ... feasts?]

1 June 2015

All the way from Waterford

So this University's next Vice-Chancellor is a girl from the Co Waterford; a TCD MA.

I hope her installation will include a ceremony we see all to rarely in modern Oxford: Incorporation ad eundem.

As a seasoned hibernophile, I would view this appointment with enthusiasm but for the fact that she took a year out from Trinity to go to America and describes the experience as 'liberating'.

Oh dear.

She'll probably end up as president of her home country.