28 July 2016

Avignon and Desenzano

The only occasion when I have been to a SSPX Mass, when I was still an Anglican priest, was when the family sent Pam and me to Avignon for a week to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary (our 50th comes next year si fata mihi parcent superstiti). I went to Sunday Mass in the exquisite rococo chapel of the Black Penitents.

The Black Penitents, don't you feel, sound rather like something sinister in a Gothick novel by Mrs Radcliff. They were in fact a pious confraternity whose charity embraced those imprisoned nearby, and those sentenced to death. They had the privilege of being able to reprieve each year one of those sentenced for a capital offence.

A couple of weeks ago, exploring Lake Garda by the ferries from my comfortable and hospitable base in the Locanda agli Angeli at Gardone Riviera, I found myself in Desenzano, once the capital of the canton embracing the Southern part of the Lake. Having 'done' the very rewarding  duomo (which, in this part of Italy, means a large church, not necesarily with a cathedra ... another old Italian term going back to the first millennium is pieve, meaning a church with a Baptistry), I climbed the hill to have a closer look at the Castle occupying the high ground. A few feet away from it, was a church built as a Chapel of S John Baptist decollati for the the Confraternity of that name. Their charism appears to have been much the same as that of the Black Penitents of Avignon.

Dr C*tt*n will know whether such pious institutions existed in Catholic England. I don't.

(Incidentally, down in the piazza of Desenzano is a Memorial to those who died in the First World War. What struck me was its fierce reference to the salveggia rabbia of the Germans and Austrians. I could detect no evidence that this might have been covered up or tampered with during the years of Italy's Second World War alliance with Hitler. Thought-provoking, yes?)

26 July 2016


After much thought and prayer, I have appointed Mr Ben Whitworth Huius Bloggi Laureatum bene merentem for his Limerick on the thread of July 21.

It is my view that the world, and the Church, need more limericks. I do not think that we can put our woes behind us unless the production of limericks, especially among Traditionalists, is dramatically stepped up. Magisterial documents should never, if they are to merit a proper obsequium, lack a limerick.

Readers will be aware that the earliest known limerick is that composed by S Thomas Aquinas in his Prayer After Communion: 

Sit vitiorum meorum evacuatio
concupiscentiae et libidinis exterminatio
     caritatis et patientiae 
     humilitatis et obedientiae
omniumque virtutum augmentatio.

I have also appointed S Thomas to be posthumously Huius Bloggi Laureatum bene merentem.

25 July 2016

S Laurence of Brindisi (Only for those who do know Latin grammar)

Since my own (1950) Missal doesn't have (July 21) S Lawrence of Brindisi, I went into the on-line version of the 1962 Missal (Sanctamissa) and found a collect beginning
Deus qui ad ardua quaeque pro nominis tui gloriam et animarum salute beato Laurentio ... spiritum sapientiae et fortitudinis contulisti ...

Perhaps there is something I'm missing, but I can't understand this unless gloriam is a misprint for gloria.

If this is so ... (1) does this mistake appear in other recent reprints of the 1962 Missal? (2) Is it in the Missals of the later 1950s? (3) Have readers found other howlers in the 1962 Missal ... any publication of it ... (4) How about the 1961 Breviary?

24 July 2016


I am more than fully occupied for the whole of the coming week with the LMS Latin Summer School. Never, when I 'worked' full-time, did I work so hard! During this week, this Blog will be a NO-COMMENT Blog. In other words, comments arriving will be deleted unread. Comments sent after July 31 will be reviewed and moderated in the usual way.

23 July 2016

Another American bishop ...

Fr Zed reveals that another North American Bishop ... another bloke who needs to be sent an elementary booklet on Latin Grammar ... has decided to jump on the Down With The East bandwagon. But this chappy has upped the ante by actually adding the word obedience to the menaces he has employed against his clergy.

When, in 1968, I was ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England, the oath of canonical obedience included the phrase "all things lawful and honest". In other words, the undertaking was circumscribed by the limitation that a bishop must be acting within the law.

This limitation is not explicit in the Ordination rites of the Latin Church. But it is implicit in the canonical understanding of obedience; compare, for example, cum secundum proprias constitutiones praecipiunt (601); and legitime praecipienti vel prohibenti (1371#2). It is also implicit in the favour shown by the recent Magisterium towards the concept of subsidiarity. If a bishop praecepit vel prohibuit contrary to an explicit Responsum ad dubium of a Roman dicastery, this must raise a grave question about whether his actions are binding.

If a bishop's orders are not within his legal competence, and a scrupulous presbyter is in doubt what to do, he will find help in the repetition by Canon 14 of the ancient adage Leges ... in dubio iuris non urgent. Doubtful laws, including doubtful episcopal precepts, do not bind. And, while Cardinal Sarah's words were not legislative, a mere presbyter may surely feel that the publicly expressed opinions of a dicasterial Prefect about what is lawful within his own area of dicasterial competence are prima facie reliable guides.

Let's be human about this. I could understand a bishop pointing out in a kindly way that Facing The Other Way might cause hassle and dissension in a parish; and asking whether it was really worth the trouble. His judgement might very well be correct. He does have a responsibility in his diocese for Liturgy and for peace and harmony. I could understand it if he said "I would very much prefer that you didn't do it without having a chat with me". Or even "I'm the one who will have to pick up the pieces, and I've only got one secretary".

What grates is the lofty, totally unpastoral, lordly issuing of what are made to look like regulations or laws or prohibitions, especially when they grotesquely and misrepresent what the real Law really says. Surely, in this third Christian millennium, we have moved beyond such prelatical and tyrannous understandings of what it means to be a bishop.

I'm pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of Catholic Bishops is pastorally minded and that a couple of tin-pot Hitlers with chips on their shoulders are unrepresentative. And that is not irony.

22 July 2016


Further UPDATE: The admirable, erudite and hospitable Mgr Wadsworth has kindly copied to me the official text of the new OF Preface for S Mary Madalene ~~~ and the hortu has been corrected to horto. So no longer need we speculate about whether an amazingly sophisticated pun was intended between horto/(h)ortu (garden/dawn). But the Congregation's Typing Pool has not left us bereft of philological excitements: the heading now reads Variationes et addictiones (sic)

UPDATE: A most gratifying thread, establishing, I think, a strong probability that the Appendix attached to the Compendium of the Catechism is the source of the mistake hortu. Before writing my original text (following) I did check of course in OLD and L&S and found no evidence either early (Varro) or late for hortus in the Fourth Declension. The Compendium was published in 2005. Can anybody push hortu any further back?

So Rome has decreed that the noun hortus (a garden) shall henceforth be deemed to be of the fourth declension rather than of the second.

I wonder what the dogmatic consequences of this are. Does it offer revolutionary eisegetical possibilities for expounding Genesis 3? Lexicographically, of course, it means that faithful obedient Novus Ordo Catholics will be obliged, in the future, to refer not to horticulture but to hortuculture.

Traddies, needless to say, in their petty-minded, contrary, manner, will probably seize every opportunity to work horticulture into their conversations as a childish way of "getting at" Papa Bergoglio. Or should I write "Papa Bergugliu"? How should one decline Bergoglio? Will there be a Vatican ruling on this?

How terribly difficult it is to be a Catholic and/or a hortuculturalist in the Third Millennium.

NICHOLS versus SARAH (2)

Some readers may not be aware that our more-than superb Ordinariate Missal, while tolerating a variety of ritual uses, demonstrates a distinct and habitual preference for ad Orientem. I give just two rubrical examples: "The priest kisses the altar and, turning towards the People, extending and then joining his hands, says aloud: Pray brethren ..."; and "He kisses the altar and, turning to the People, making the Sign of the Cross over them, he says: And the blessing of God Almighty ...".

Cardinal Nichols reportedly wrote recently to his clergy that the Mass was not an occasion for a celebrant to "exercise personal preference or taste". This phraseology rang an instant bell in my mind. Haven't I heard him say that before? Readers may like to have a bit of context here.

In September 2014, addressing by invitation laity and clergy of the British Ordinariate, Nichols spoke in terms very closely similar to this. I will share with you a few of his 2014 phrases; the rather obvious feature which you will notice is the insistent repetition of the same theme in very much the same words.

"What you do, if it is done in the spirit of your Patron, will not be done as matter of personal taste, of subjective likes and dislikes. Whether in matters of liturgy ... what matters is ... striving not to satisfy your own taste, your own personal preferences ...
"the fashioning of this Ordinariate contribution is not a matter of personal taste ... I also suggest a criterion  by which that discernment between subjective taste and service of the truth may be made ... Does what you do, in pursuit of a proper distinctiveness, clearly lead to holiness?
" ... fashioning the patterns of the Ordinariate, be they liturgical ...
"We live in an age of deep individualism. The priority of personal satisfaction ...
"So I hope that as the Ordinariate develops, its parishes and groups will not be shaped by the individual personal preferences of its members, by personal likes and dislikes which are often so contentious.   
" ... whatever we may be doing, whether in liturgy ...
" ... no other preoccupation, whether aesthetical ..."

I just love that the word contentious. Clearly, ex contextu, it means "what I personally dislike". So much, surely, is obvious. But I would like to be permitted a few contingent observations.

Firstly, both of the Forms of the Roman Rite allow for either orientation. This is clear in each case from their Rubrics. I am on record as suggesting that those who celebrate the Extraordinary Form should not be closed to the possibility of celebrating it facing the people, in a church building which is orientated so that facing the people is the same as facing East. I have myself happily celebrated the EF versus populum.

Secondly; this whole sad episode vividly warns us of the broader potential dangers of transfering competences from Roman Dicasteries to Bishops' Conferences. Nichols' recent email to his clergy was, of course, addressed only to the clergy of his own diocese. It is of highly doubtful authority even within his own jurisdiction (readers may remember how the local ordinary of EWTN once tried to compel Mother Angelica's people to conform to his personal preference for versus populum but was compelled by Rome to withdraw his ultra vires 'regulation'). But Episcopal Conferences, if Papa Bergoglio gave them the sort of powers disallowed in the Apostolos suos of S John Paul II, could make things very bad for priests and parishes. I can imagine 'local regulations'. There are persistent hints that some pushy Conferences want more powers "in the interests of subsidiarity" ... and one suspects what that could mean in terms of wholesale local bullying and the attempted elimination of lawful liberties currently enjoyed.

We need to remind ourselves of that superb example of real subsidiarity, given when Summorum pontificum established the competence of celebrating the EF in the hands of the celebrating presbyter. Ecce Subsidiaritas vera et authentica! Here is another piece of subsidiarity: "Any priest of the Ordinariate may ... celebrate the Mass according to Divine Worship outside the parishes of the Ordinariate when celebrating Mass ... publicly with the permission of the rector/pastor of the corresponding church or parish." No need for episcopal approval! Vivat Benedictus papa! 

Thirdly: we in the Ordinariates should admit that we do ourselves have duties and important obligations towards the broader church. Perhaps we have been negligent. We owe it to the 'diocesan' Church to be much more proactive in explaining what it is about our own liturgical patrimony which makes it (in Pope Benedict's view) such an important gift to the entire Church. The importance of things like versus Orientem and Communion received kneeling are not understood by many in the Novus Ordo ethos; and how can the poor chaps and chappesses understand if nobody ever explains these matters to them? The Ordinariates are in the splendid position of being able to say "Here am I: send me"!

And perhaps we should be less reticent about explaining what is so contentious about the musical texts, the soggy and dodgy drivel, often sung among 'diocesan' congregations; and why (coming as we do, like Blessed John Henry, from an 'Anglican literary and patristic' background) we prefer scriptural, patristic, and doctrinally orthodox chants and hymnody. Another contentious matter is the unnecessary use of "Extraordinary (sic) Eucharistic Ministers" in the diocesan Churches. I once said a weekday Novus Ordo Mass in a diocesan church; the congregation consisted of two ladies ... one of whom duly came up to administer the chalice to the other! Not that I minded in the least ... a lifetime of ministry in the Church of England has left me with an almost endless capacity for amused tolerance of liturgical silliness ... but this sort of thing is, if we are to be pedantic, an abuse. Yet another contentious disregard of the mens of the Novus Ordo is the almost universal disuse of the First Eucharistic Prayer, and its replacement even on Sundays (against the advice of the GIRM) by the 'Trastevere Trattoria' Eucharistic Prayer. A final example of something contentious: in the early months of the British Ordinariate, there were accounts at our 'formation' sessions of Ordinariate clergy being angrily criticised by some of the older diocesan clergy for their unwillingness to disregard the canonical restrictions imposed by the Church on the giving of General Absolution.

Lastly: the See of Westminster is not Primatial. Nichols' own views and opinions on versus Orientem and his personal tastes and preferences with regard to Liturgy generally are of interest, if at all, only to his own diocesan subjects in his own half of Greater London. When he spoke to the Ordinariate, he was addressing the subjects of another Ordinary (of whom he is not even the Metropolitan). In fact, Mgr Newton has as much and as little power over Cardinal Nichols' subjects as Nichols has over Newton's. Our Ordinary is not some sort of Vicar General ad Anglicanos.

We should do more; we should be more frank. We in the Ordinariates have been too downbeat; too reticent; too shy; too inclined to keep our heads below some imaginary parapet. The Diocesan Church needs our input! Let us raise again the marvellous phrase of Benedict XVI: "Mutual Enrichment"!

21 July 2016

Why do they hate it? More on Sarahgate.

So those bishops around the world who resent liturgical renewal are getting ever nastier, and turning the screws on their unfortunate clergy ... especially the younger ones (you'd think they might be glad to have one or two younger clergy as they shut down their priestless churches by the dozen).

Why? I think they had their minds formed in an age when liturgical texts and habits preceding the 1970s were viewed by some with a deeply and viscerally personal detestation. There are some around who are still motivated by the same obsessive aversions.

Hence, the fuss caused by Sarahgate (am I first with this neologism?). It has close similarities with the fuss after Summorum Pontificum. Remember? The poor chaps in their terror complained that their declining dioceses would explode into liturgical chaos (did that ever happen?). When some curial officials came over to explain Anglicanorum coetibus to the English bishops, it transpired that some of them were still more angry about Summorum Pontificum (which had emerged two years earlier).

Sad, really, that some bishops had (have?) so little confidence in the good sense of their clergy.

Cardinal Sarah's admirable and timely advice has stirred up exactly the same widespread and uncontrolled panic; the same draconian attempts to devise intricate dodges to 'prohibit' clergy from doing things which the relevant dicasterial authorities have declared to be perfectly lawful. Apparently, ad Orientem is 100% legal and woe betide any priest in my diocese who employs it!

Why such silly tantrums? A wise priest trained in psychiatry has diagnosed the problem thus: They associate the Extraordinary Form with what they think of as a repressive and sin-obsessed form of Catholicism from which they were glad to be set free.

In other words, their liturgical passions are still tangled up in their adolescent struggles with their now aged hormones.

Makes sense to me.

20 July 2016


I began a six-part series on the Epiclesis and its admirable absence from the Roman Canon on 9 March 2015. I invite those interested to read that series. I don't feel vastly inclined to write replies to enquirers which would merely replicate hastily what I wrote with quite a lot of deliberation then.

19 July 2016

The Tablet and Cardinal Sarah and Trained Liturgists

No; I don't read the Tablet, considering it dubiously moral to push one penny in that direction, but I noticed that its front cover is currently advertising an attack (inevitably) on Cardinal Sarah, by some "liturgist" called Mark Francis. This set bells ringing in my mind. I think he may be the same person as the writer who welcomed Summorum Pontificum with the condescending comment that Papa Ratzinger, poor chap, meant well but was "not a Trained Liturgist". On that occasion, so I recall, he described the Tridentine Rite as "Medieval", and complained at the same time that the Roman Canon was "pneumatologically anaemic" ... which (for those of you who prefer to speak English) means that, except at the end, it doesn't mention the Holy Ghost.

That, of course, is because the Roman Canon is still marked by its origins before the fourth century explosion of interest in the Holy Spirit which led, in the East, to the idea that the Transformation of the Eucharistic Elements is caused by the celebrant calling down upon them ("Epiclesis") the Holy Spirit. The Roman Canon, being of earlier origins, operates on the assumption that the Elements are transformed simply through their gracious acceptance by the Father. MF breezily informed us that everybody agrees on the importance of the Epiclesis, so that the classical Roman Rite is gravely defective because it lacks one.

MF, astute bloke, thus contrived to criticise the classical Roman Rite both for being too late ("medieval") and for being too early ("pneumatologically anaemic"), and to do so pretty well in the same breath. (Given this instinct for enthusiastic self-contradiction, it would not be surprising if he feels rather more happily at home in this pontificate than he did in the last.)

What a terrific shame it is that Time Travel is only a literary fiction. Otherwise, we could have shipped MF back to that hillside on which the Man from Nazareth was advising His disciples on how to pray. After hearing the text of the Our Father, MF could have put Him straight on a whole raft of highly important things. "Of course, my dear Fellow, you chaps from Nazareth don't have the advantage of being trained liturgists. If you did, you would have realised that the prayer you have just suggested (of course, it does have one or two good bits in it; not bad; not at all bad for a first attempt) is gravely flawed by its pneumatological anaemia. My fellow Experts and I will draft for you three Alternative Lord's Prayers which will include an essential clause about the Holy Spirit. We will make one of them very brief indeed, so that your followers over the millennia will be saved an awful lot of time ... ".

And the Lord's Prayer to His Father at the Last Supper (John 17) stands very badly in need of the revising pen of Trained Liturgists. How we all wince every time we hear that disgracefully Binitarian formula ("Thou, Father, art [one] in me and I in thee ...")! How much less defective it would have been if it had been revised or, indeed ... far, far better still ... created from scratch by the sanctis et venerabilibus manibus of Archbishop Bugnini himself.

(My Byzantine friends will understand that I am nothing if not deeply respectful of their own beautiful and venerable rite in its own full integrity. I deplore the Byzantinisation of the Roman Rite not one ounce more than I would condemn the Latinisation of the Byzantine Rite.)

18 July 2016

That Latin sentence, and why it bores me

The High Altar should be constructed separated from the wall so that there is the possibility for it to be easily walked round and celebration towards the people to be done at it, a thing which is convenient wherever it is possible.

A thing which in the neuter cannot refer in Latin grammar just to celebration towards the people, because celebration is feminine. So it has to refer to whole clauses.

It must refer either to the whole previous bit of the sentence The High Altar ...... at it, or to the ut-clause so that there is the possibility ...... at it.

possibility, not rigid uniformity, is in the mind of the legislator. Otherwise, he is commanding  that the the Altar be walked around ... presumably, so as to be censed ... at every Mass; i.e. he is prohibiting the celebration of Mass without incense. He's not. He's just asking that, where possible, walking round the Altar to cense it should not be excluded. (I believe the 1962 Missal, of which I do not possess a copy, explicitly envisages that a priest celebrating versus apsidem should, where this is possible, walk around the Atar to cense it on all four sides.)

The intention clearly is to ensure that in the construction of new churches, liturgical flexibilty is not impeded by the plan of the sanctuary. This passage is misused if it is treated as legislation with regard to the orientation of the celebrant. Or to a prescriptive and invariable use of incense.

I shall not enable any more comments on this detail to my Auctoritas post.

Because, frankly, I regard all this as totally boring and unfruitful. The whole point of my Auctoritas post was to point out that there are vastly broader and more important questions in play here, and that how we worship is not dependant upon how we might be able to extract obiter implications from a legislative text intended for a quite different purpose. For Vincent Nichols or his advisers to drag this into the discussion demonstrates a very silly petty legalism ... and, incidentally, shows the flimsiness of the basis for the onslaught upon Robert Sarah. If Nichols has any concern for his own reputation, he should withdraw his email and apologise to Sarah and sack his advisers.

17 July 2016

"Orientophobia: On Coming Out Of The Liturgical Closet

I commend a splendid article by a splendid young Byzantine Rite scholar, Professor Adam deVille, whom I have had the privilege and pleasure of talking with. It is in the NCR with the above title. (h/t to Professor Tighe.)

Tasters: " ... papal centralisation and personality cult" with regard to which D looks forward to "a necessary welcomed healthful decline back to earth"; "An undisciplined papacy that has done much damage with off-the-cuff comments and other utterances of dubious authority and tortuous prolixity"; "people huddling in the papal petticoats"; "shady operatives ..."

Professor deVille points out the enormously bad impression given to Orthodox and to Eastern Christians generally when badly advised Western prelates do disastrous and silly things like attacking the Ecumenical versus Orientem consensus.

I particularly like the phrase "people huddling in the papal petticoats". I only wish I had thought of it myself. Superb alliteration and assonance, worthy of Virgil and Ovid! Vividly striking imagery! Somebody commented to me only the other day how much broader the Holy Father's skirts had become since my birthday in 2013. The effect of the Santa Marta kitchens? Too much sitting in airliners? Too many cosy and sedentary chats with dodgy sycophants?

15 July 2016

Nichols versus Sarah (1)

Versus Orientem or Versus Populum? An important point which I don't think anyone has emphasised, in all the wordage concerning the attack of Vincent Cardinal Nichols upon the Address of Cardinal Sarah, is this:

 Both of these Eminent gentlemen are totally agreed that this is a subject that really matters.

Cardinal Sarah makes this abundantly clear in his text. And he must have thought carefully before speaking in a way which he must have known would create a violent reaction. His act was not legislative. But it was a considered action on the part of the official appointed by the Roman Pontiff himself to have charge of the Roman Rite. It was an act of some considerable personal bravery. (For that reason, it seems to me that clergy should themselves have the courage not to let Robert Sarah down.) And the fact that he mentioned the First Sunday in Advent means that this is not some flaccid and timorous vague aspiration to which we might one day get round in the decade after next. He has called on us to do something concrete on a specific day quite soon.

And Cardinal Nichols is equally convinced that this really matters. He instantly emailed all his clergy. Cardinals do not go on to the public record as rubbishing what a brother cardinal has just said, unless they are feeling quite ... er ... excited. And the facts in the public domain strongly suggest that someone instantly got in touch with Papa Bergoglio, who in turn summoned Cardinal Sarah. And the usual machinery started to work in the Vatican Press Office in order ... as we say in Anglo-English ... to hang Sarah out to dry. Fr Lombardi and ... more especially ... the sinister Fr Rosica manifestly warmed to their unwholesome task. Nichols would not have set all that in motion over some little detail which no sensible person could possibly consider to matter. 

Sarah and Nichols are both 100% right: this does matter. It goes to the heart of the question of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass really is. It touches upon that whole raft of practical changes ("Reordering") which were not in any way whatsoever mandated by the Council but which were put into effect by those who subsequently got their hands on to the levers of power. It bears powerfully upon the crucial question of whether the mighty task of the redintegratio of Catholic worship, set in motion by Papa Ratzinger, will continue under Papa Bergoglio's successor.

Even further than that, it encapsulates the fundamental question raised by Benedict XVI, of whether we should see Vatican II in terms of reform within a hermeneutic of continuity, or whether the structural ruptures inflicted on the Church in the 1970s, with such catastrophic effects within the Church over the following four decades, are now to be set in dry, cold, inflexible stone.

We have reached a turning point at which every priest knows that if he heeds Cardinal Sarah's exhortation, he makes it easier for his brother priests also to do the same; and that that if he opts for a quiet life, it will be that bit easier for the Tablet and ACTA to pick off his bolder brother clergy by clamouring for their episcopal persecution. There is no reason why a start cannot be made, after catechesis, by introducing versus Orientem 'provisionally' on alternate Sundays, or even just on the first Sunday of each month. Advent, when priest and people go forward together to meet the Lord who Comes to us, is indeed a highly suitable occasion.

In the Veni Sancte Spiritus we ask God the Holy Spirit to water what is parched, to heal what is wounded, to bend what is rigid, to warm what is cold, to govern that which strays from the way.

But to do these things, the Holy Spirit needs willing human cooperators. The Body of Christ operates on Grace, not on Magic.

14 July 2016

When the King shall have his own again ...

For a bit of summer fun, I reproduce this ancient (2009) piece with its original thread. I apologise to friends who dislike it; but my sympathies have been Jacobite for about sixty years now and I feel just that little bit too old to change. I beg them to tolerate it as a Period Piece and me as a poor old has-been.

Well, Oxford has just about reached the end of her academic year. The confident accents of the New England upper classes, so delightfully dominant in the streets of Oxford during Full Term, have given place to the no less inscrutable whimperings of Japanese tourists. In the Old Days, last Saturday was the end of the last of the four terms into which the academic year was divided: commonly called Act Term. The University "Act" was a scurrilous occasion upon which a speaker called Terrae Filius made a satirical attack on pretty well everything. Unfortunately, so edifying a custom could not survive the eighteenth century. It is not simply that such things fell foul of whiggish, Chesterfieldian, standards of propriety; in the aftermath of the Hannoverian Usurpation they were positively dangerous. Oxford had retained her loyalty to her King, and the young men liked nothing better than to drink toasts to the King over the water, duck Hannover Rats in the river, and give noisy manifestations of their political preferences. So, after the failed attempt by James III in 1715 to restore lawful authority, prudence ordained that the University Act had to be neutered. Not that anybody imagined that Oxford had changed her views; the Elector sent a detachment of troops to make their own point, while demonstrating his favour for the junior university, where Whiggery prevailed, by giving it a generous benefaction of books. Oxford wits observed that he had certainly noticed Oxford's lack of 'loyalty' and had equally accurately discerned Cambridge's lack of learning.

I don't suppose there are many around this July to drink loyal toasts or drown Whigs. Certainly not the New Englanders and probably not the Japanese. But today is the Birthday of the Prince who, by the laws of primogeniture would inherit the crowns of Henry IX, and last week was the Anniversary of his Accession de jure to the Thrones of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland; to the Dukedoms of Bavaria, Franconia, and Swabia; and to the County Palatine of the Rhine.

Vivat Rex.

Church and State.


You know it makes sense.

13 July 2016

To be read!

(1) I urge readers to peruse the Lake Garda Statement (Rorate).

(2) Father Zed has a very good piece saying most of what needs to be pointed out with regard to Cardinal Nichols' attack on versus Orientem.

(3) Rorate reveals the urgent appeal being made to the College of Cardinals and the Patriarchs of the sui iuris Churches, asking them to beg the Sovereign Pontiff to clarify passages in Amoris laetitia which appear to give countenance to heterodoxies. I cannot suggest that you read it, because, as a necessarily proper courtesy, its text is not being made public before it has been sent to the Cardinals. But it bears the signatures of some very distinguished theologians, and I ask readers to pray, with great earnestness, that this initiative may bring forth rich fruit. I assure you that it is extremely precise and logical, in the best tradition of accurate theological discourse within the Catholic Church, and eschews woffle and rhetoric. (Is that how one spells waffle?)

10 July 2016

PROPITIUS; for Latinists

In today's EF Collect, Largire, the term propitius is very oddly placed. It can be forcibly translated as being in its usual function of an adjective in grammatical concord with the Deus or Dominus who is being addressed, and which thus invites an English adverbial rendering; "Mercifully" is the Cranmerian rendering in, ex. gr., the collects for Epiphany and Epiphany III in the Ordinariate Missal. (Interestingly, Cranmer omitted propitius in his rendering of today's collect, which in our rite is attached to the Ninth Sunday after Trinity for reasons which I explained on July 4). But its placing is just plain weird.

Sr Dr Haessly (sub Dominica) remarks that propitius is in an "unusual position", and wonders whether it should be taken with largire spiritum cogitandi or with largire spiritum agendi or as "a common element" with both. Sr Dr Ellebracht, whose promotor ad doctoratum was the well-nigh divine Christine Mohrmann (why do we hear so little from modern liturgists about these great women students of the Classical Roman Rite?) lists (sub voce) the word patterns within which propitius commonly occurs. "This adjective reveals an exceptionally strong tendency to be used in fixed expressions ... Thus we see how rigidly stylised the use of this adjective is. There is remarkably little variety in its employment." Today's Collect does not exhibit any of the four patterns she documents.

When one turns to the Verona Sacramentary (quondam "Leonine"), one finds that the text gives, not propitius, but promptius

We instantly perceive the ease with which the m could be replaced with a tilde and thus become lost, leaving an incomprehensible proptius which would invite easy 'correction' to propitius.

The post-Conciliar revisers did not consider this elegant little collect good enough for Sunday use, but allowed it onto a feria.

And they gave the Verona text. In my view, rightly. 

9 July 2016


On June 24 I put the following notice on my blog. If you failed to notice it, and sent comments which have not appeared, this is why.

For a fortnight from June 25 until July 9 I shall not be looking at a computer or moderating Comments. If you feel strongly about the posts which I plan to publish daily during this period, send Comments after July 9; but you might find it simplest just to regard this blog as a NO COMMENT BLOG during this fortnight.

The Pontificate of Pius XII (2)

Until 1942, whenever a Holy Pope had to be observed at Mass, the celebrant used one of the two Communia Masses for a Martyr Bishop, or one of the two for a Confessor Bishop; or that for a Doctor of the Church, as might be appropriate. The probability is that most of these texts had themselves evolved in the early centuries of the Roman Rite to be used for Bishops of Rome.

In 1942, Pope Pius XII, or his liturgists, were not so preoccuied with the War that they could find no time to rectify this situation. A new Commune, the Mass Si diligis, was composed to be used on the festivals of Sovereign Pontiffs. The same Mass was used for non-martyrs as for martyrs, except for the addition in the prayers of the words "(and Martyr)". It was, apparently, more significant that a man was a Pope than that he was a martyr. More interestingly still, there could be an implication that a Pope was sacramentally something more than a Bishop: which would contradict the ancient and ecumenical verity that there are but three orders of Sacramental Ministry in Christ's Church: Deacons; Presbyters; and Bishops. As Mascall wisely pointed out "whereas the episcopate is a sacramental function of the Church, which is imparted by the sacramental act of consecration, the Papacy is a juridical and administrative one, which is imparted by the administrative act of election". This unhappy mistake, that the Pope is something other than simply a Bishop (in this case, of the Petrine See of Rome), has raised its silly head during this last year in the idea that, somehow or other, something of the Papacy continued to be present in Benedict XVI after his abdication.

But most interesting of all, in the 1942 Mass Si diligis it was appointed that the Praefatio Apostolorum should be used.

Happily, the doctrinal impropriety of this last detail was understood even within the Pontificate of Pius XII, and the Praefatio Communis was soon substituted. But I find it a significant indication of the spirit of the times that such an indecent provision could have been made at all.

4 July 2016

After Trinity, After Pentecost, per Annum: the Collects

There are 25 Sundays between Trinity Sunday and Advent in the ORDINARIATE MISSAL ( O ... reproducing the texts of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which in turn derived them from the Sarum and other North European Uses). In the Tridentine Missal, they are 24. But in T, the first Collect of the series is assigned to Trinity Sunday itself, where it is used as a commemoration at the Mass of the Trinity and then in ferial masses during the week. In O, it is moved to the First Sunday after Trinity, which means that in effect the Trinity itself has an Octave (this disposition continues in CW, Common Worship); presumably, ferial masses in the following week are in white vestments. This also means that T is a Sunday ahead of O. But T also omits one of this ancient series of collects, the formula represented by O Trinity III (here is the original Latin of that prayer: Deprecationem nostram, qs, Dne, benignus exaudi: et quibus supplicandi praestas affectum, tribue defensionis auxilium). Because of this omission, for the rest of the year T is two Sundays ahead of O. (In what follows I shall exclude from consideration the Excita collect of the last Sunday before Advent, which, because of the imposition of Christ the King on this day, has its own problems).

CW restored, after the aberrations of the Alternative Service Book, the enumeration of the Sundays after Trinity (except that it terminates them before Advent so as to have a pre-Advent season concentrating on themes of the Kingdom and, optionally, in red vestments). CW also restores some of the old collects, and even allows them to occupy the same Sundays as in O. These collects are Trinity 1,4,6,7,10,11,12,19,21.

B (Bugnini) used some of the old series of collects; but, because of the invention of a novel 34-week tempus per annum, these survivors are all mixed up and only by very occasional coincidences will they fall upon their old Sundays. The collects thus preserved in B are the collects which, in O, are attached to the following Sundays after Trinity: 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,11,12,13,14,17,20. This is four more than CW. What I find interesting is that the taste of the CW committee and that of the B group did not always coincide. In six cases it did; but CW rather liked three which B despised; B liked seven which did not make the CW cut. (B did also incorporate into its new set a couple of collects which had originally lived After Easter but which were not 'paschal' enough in theme for the B peculiar eccentricity of treating all of the fifty days as the Easter Octave.)

The evidence supports the suspicion that these modern committee, in each communion, although working at around the same time and having many of the same presuppositions, did their picking and choosing and suppressing for the most part on the basis of pure personal whimsy, probably connected with which sides of their beds they had got out of.

2 July 2016


A friend linked me to an item in the Grauniad ... at which point I should pause to instruct non-British readers that the Guardian, the paper of the English liberal and libertine and laiciste elite, has traditionally been so full of misprints and errors that it is commonly and contemptuously called the Grauniad.

The item in question informed us that in the Catholic Church Deacons can say Mass.

It isn't only the Grauniad which treats 'religious news' with such contempt that they use writers who lack the faintest idea what they are talking about. The practice is common. It makes me reflect "Presumably the people who write on Economics/Politics/Science/Music/Drama/History/Sport in this newspaper are also just as pathetically ignorant about the subjects they handle".

Probably, however, this is not always the case. The phenomenon may rather be the product of a contempt for 'religion' so profound that it seems natural to editors to ask ignorant half-wits to write about it.

It reminds me of an occasion while I was still teaching, when I had a row with some woman who ran the GCSE 'Religious Studies' examination about the content of the papers, the marking schemes, and the conceptual assumptions. She rendered me speechless by saying "I think you have to realise that in pretty well all schools 'Religious Studies' is taught by anybody who happens to have a light timetable".