30 October 2016

"Intercommunion" in Lund?

Cardinal Burke has recently uttered some very (of course!) wise remarks relating to the sharing of the Sacraments between Catholics and Non-Catholics. See Rorate. But there can be a risk that his words will be misunderstood.

What his Eminence actually talks about is not, formally, the admission of 'Non-Catholics', as such, to the Sacraments. This is because he is well aware that Sacramental Sharing is not merely allowed by the Church's current canonical legislation, but even in some circumstances encouraged. This is most true with regard to those ('Eastern') communities in which the Church recognises the valid existence of her own Sacraments, such as Holy Order and the Eucharist, although outside her own strict canonical unity. Lest, however, there be some who might be tempted to use this fact as a rod with which to beat the 1983 Codex Iuris Canonici, I will again draw the attention of such readers to my pieces on the Church's praxis before 1983 ... in the eighteenth century Aegean and, with the permission of Pope S Pius X himself, in twentieth century Ukraine and Russia.

For obvious reasons, things are much less positive with regard to the ecclesial communities which emerged from the 'reformation'. But, even here, the canonical negative is not absolute.

What Cardinal Burke, with pinpoint accuracy, is concerned to make clear is that, for their own sake, the Eucharist ought not to be offered to those who do not truly believe that the Elements are the Body and Blood of Christ. This is because S Paul made clear that those who so eat and drink, "not discerning the Lord's Body", eat and drink ... nothing less than their own damnation. The current law is very insistent on this point, and properly so.

I will stick my neck out and say that I regard it as very highly improbable that, in Lund, tomorrow, as he visits Swedish Lutherans, the Holy Father will issue any general invitation to Lutherans and Catholics to receive at each other's altars. The most I would regard as within the realms of the remotely possible is some sort of minor move within the limits of what is already permitted by the current law. But even this I strongly doubt. Thirty six hours will show whether I am right! But I do think that some people allow themselves to be upset by unreal fears begotten by simplistic and irresponsible headlines.

Further arguments against any major change include these:
(1) the arrangement could not be made reciprocal, because of the unlikelihood that any Lutheran Orders, even in Sweden, are valid; and
(2) it would understandably profoundly upset those Anglicans who accept the fulness of Catholic Eucharistic teaching if favours were granted to Scandinavian Lutherans (not a few of whom Luther himself would probably not now find it easy to recognise as even Christian) which had not been granted to Catholic Anglicans.

Any slight movement in this area would need to be approached very carefully; it is not the sort of thing that is suitable material for gesturpolitik. Anything that even looked like this would be the height of imprudence.

29 October 2016

Oh dear

The personel changes at the Congregation for Divine Worship look like very bad news for the heroic figure of its Prefect, Cardinal Sarah. It looks as though some crude revenge is taking place ...

Bishop Alan Hopes, a former Anglican, is the only piece of good news I can see on the new list. But, as a bishop with a large diocese, he will not be able to be often in Rome.

But Bad Marini lives in Rome and has a minuscule job ... Eucharistic Congresses ... quid dicamus ...

25 October 2016

Father Tim ...

If anybody hasn't noticed that Father Tim of Margate has resumed blogging regularly, then I'm telling you! Congratulations to Father for his return to health and good Liturgy and elegant, erudite blogposts!

THE HERMENEUTIC OF CONTINUITY is as active as ever!!

Fatima (6): the Conversion of Russia

I think we should see the Conversion of Russia from the ecclesiological perspective outlined in my Fatima (5) piece. And, for those unfamiliar with this, I allude also to the willingness of that great Pope S Pius X to envisage communicatio in Sacris between Catholics and Orthodox in Russia (facts in my piece of 22 November 2014).

When our Lady at Fatima contingently foretold the Conversion of Russia, I do not think that she meant that every single Russian would automatically become a a faithful and sacramentally regular worshipper (as I do not think that  her promise about the preservation of the Faith in Portugal was falsified by the referendum vote of 2007 to admit abortion). That, this side of the Eschaton, is not the sort of place we are in. Nor, I think, did she mean that Patriarch Cyril and all Russians would immediately come into full juridical communion with the See of S Peter. What she did mean, surely, is something which can embrace (but is not exhausted in) the revival currently going on within the post-Soviet Russian Patriarchate, as well as in the other parts of the former Soviet bloc, such as the Ukraine.

[Incidentally, I have been told (was I misinformed?) that, during Patriarch Cyril's recent visit to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Russian Orthodoxy in this country, the Anglican incumbents of Canterbury and London (Chartres presumably proudly wearing his enkolpion) were present, and a Coptic bishop, but not the Archbishop of Westminster. I imagine an invitation did go to Westminster and that probably a representative was sent. This would suggest a more nuanced and tactful approach to Ukrainian sensitivities than Pope Francis was able to manage at that bungled meeting in Cuba! I wonder if Eparchial Bishop Hlib had a quiet word with Vin ... ]

24 October 2016

Homosexualist ideologues

News has come through that the Ulster Appeal Court has published its judgement on the case of the Protestant Bakery fined for refusing to ice homosexualist propaganda onto a cake. The conviction stands. So does this mean that the homosexualists will be able to queue up outside the bakery daily to make the the same requests until the fines and damages bankrupt the business? The 'Gay Marriage' which the cake was intended to demand is in fact not legal in Northern Ireland; so will followers of other non-legal causes such as paederasts or murderers be able to employ the same logic and order cakes with the message "Free Inter-generation Love" or "Cacothanasia Now", and profitably take their cases through the courts?

Incidentally, has the Catholic hierarchy been speaking in sympathy for these Protestants who, at personal risk, espouse the teaching of the Church on some sexual matters? Is it not part of the Church's ecumenical policy, since Vatican II, to affirm with joy those "elements of the Church" which may be found among Separated Brethren?

At the same time, we have another trendy policy: the suppression of the convictions of subjects of the Crown who were convicted of homosexual acts back in the days when such acts were illegal. I rather wonder how far back these historical amnesties will go. Will they merely encompass those still alive? I could see a certain human kindliness in that. OK. But if the game goes back to embrace the now dead (as it did in the case of the pardon granted to Alan Turing), the additional question, surely, arises of How Far Back Do We Go? What logic could there be in having any particular cut-off point anywhere? Similar questions arise with regard to the granting of Free Pardons to those shot for cowardice during the First War.

And what about the women burned as witches? The Protestants burned under Henry VIII and his off-spring and the Catholics HDQed under Bloody Bess? Titus Oates' victims? Those executed after the '45? Casement and Lord Haw Haw?

But, of course, under our Constitution, Parliament can do anything. What a lot of problems this can solve. Changing the Past is a prime example of what the ancients called an adunaton, an impossible thing. If all the adunata are now potentially dunata, why stop at any fashionable or convenient fantasy? Why only reconstruct the Past by decree? Why this prejudice against also reconstructing by administrative fiat the Present and the Future? Why doesn't Parliament just enact that Global Warming has never happened and is not happening? Instead of erecting expensive flood defences, why don't we just have an Order in Council enacting that the Somerset Levels will not be flooded? We could all live happily for ever after, in Fairyland, especially the people of Somerset, who would be comforted by the sure and certain reassurance that the water swirling round their necks could not possibly be a flood.

Winston in 1984 spent his entire working life rewriting the past. I wonder if Orwell ever suspected how soon his sick prophecy would be made into a gruesome reality.

I don't for one moment think there is any real desire for 'justice' involved in daft attempts to rewrite the past.

It is simply a matter of the homosexualist ideologues making clear "We are the Masters now, and we want to watch you bastards squirm". In the idiolect of the Zeitgeist, this is called "Diversity".

What a very unpleasant spectacle it all is.

23 October 2016

Quicunque vult, commonly called the 'Athanasian Creed' or 'QV'

Those of you who wisely keep an eye on the St Lawrence Press ORDO will have noticed that today is among a small number of Sundays upon which 'QV' is to be said. 

"The most simple and sublime, the most devotional formulary to which Christianity has given birth".

That is how Blessed John Henry Newman, with his superb gift for lapidary precision, described the 'Athanasian Creed'. Since the Holy See saw fit to give Newman to the English Ordinariate as a Patron, I feel that this superbly credal canticle ought to be in the forefront of the mission of the Ordinariate to repair the lacunae in the day-by-day teaching of the modern Catholic Church; and it certainly ought to be recited regularly in the Divine Office.

Newman often sprang to the defence of this Creed, and our Tractarian Fathers (and their successors during the Prayer Book controversies of 1927-8) fought for its retention in Anglican worship. The most recent occasion upon which I felt a great temptation myself to spring to the defence of the Quicunque vult was during one of the less good lectures during our 'formation'. A lecturer told us this anecdote: one of his regular students had found, on the the EWTN website, the teaching that Christ is "equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood." He had felt it necessary to explain to his students that this was heretical, and had encouraged them to write to EWTN and explain that they were promoting heresy (he actually used this unfashionable term). Looking meaningfully at us, with a nod and a wink, he regretted that none of his students had yet done so.

During that 'formation', I maintained a principle of not offering corrections of howlers promoted by the lecturers, lest (mirabile dictu) I should appear to be a troublemaker. But I felt obliged to enter into an email correspondence with the joker concerned, pointing out that this 'heresy' was not only in the Athanasian Creed, but in the Tome of S Leo (and hence inter acta Concilii Chalcedoniensis). It is present in S Augustine and I tracked it down in most of the Latin Fathers. Eventually, very grudgingly, he made some sort of vague retraction (but, of course, not publicly).

S Pius V's Breviary anticipated this Creed being said at the Divine Office on most Sundays; although, in effect, by the twentieth century, it was very rarely said because a commemoratio 'excused' its omission from Prime. The Book of Common Prayer prescribed its use a dozen times a year. During the aetas Bugniniana it was eventually dislodged from its last Catholic toehold, Trinity Sunday.

S Pius V, and Thomas Cranmer, were dead right in this consensus. And, today, the 'Athanasian Creed' is as necessary as ever it was. Trinitarian errors still abound, and many of our present woes arise from faulty beliefs with regard to Catholic teaching about the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union. Dorothy Sayers, a major part of our Anglican theological Patrimony but sadly almost forgotten even among those who should know better, wrote immensely well about this in her The Mind of the Maker (especially Chapter 10; it's on the Internet).

22 October 2016

New York

I decided I really had better nip over to New York and commune with Subleyras' fine portrait of Benedict XIV in the Met ... you would expect no less of me ... and I have to tell you that His Holiness is not sanguine about the current state of the Church. But I will be able to give you more detail about that in the weeks ahead.

I took the opportunity to avail myself of the very great privilege of celebrating and preaching in the fine church at Norwalk in Connecticut over which a fellow Oxonian, Dr Richard Cipolla of Cardinal College, a hospitable host, presides to such splendid effect. It is most impressive; the liturgy runs like the smoothest clockwork and the Music is in the charge of the mighty, impeccable, and infallible David Hughes. I had the unusual experience of being congratulated by no fewer than two of my hearers on preaching a sermon full of  Ciceronian praeteritio. You don't often get that class of comment on this side of the water. One truly 'traditional' feature of the church is that, as part of the reredos of the High Altar, it has a newly painted picture of the Assumption of the Theotokos, which pictures the old and ecumenical muthoi about the events surrounding her Glorification; those stories which, to all intents and purposes, Papa Pacelli did rather prune away.

By the generous courtesy of the Society of S Hugh of Cluny, I was able to speak both in Norwalk and in New York, where I had the great joy of meeting a long-time and erudite friend: Professor Bill Tighe, who walks in and out of the prosopography of the Tudor Court as if he has never lived anywhere else, and who is the historical expert on the Demise of Anglicanism. And Professor John Rao, presiding genius of the Roman Forum ... and, by the way, numbers are already looking very promising for next summer's (Silver Jubilee!) Gardone Riviera colloquium. Get in there fast!! And I had the pleasure of meeting other Gardone friends, young and old; and of making new ones.

A special Thank You to Stuart and Jill Chessman,  and their son Stuart, who put themselves to so much trouble to facilitate my week.

18 October 2016

Cardinal Cupich ...

... is undoubtedly right to suggest that, when people have in conscience come to a particular conclusion, we should follow and support them. He has my support, 150%. I am filled with enthusiasm for where his principles, in my judgement, will lead.

Clearly, when a paedophile priest concludes that, in carefully judged and exceptional circumstances, his caring and loving attentions to a child are for the good, and for the maturity, of that child (a conclusion identical with the wisdom of ancient Athenian aristocratic society), it is not for sick, narrow-minded and crabbed "Traditionalists" to interfere. Few things even in the Ratzinger pontificate were more disgraceful than his use in this context of the word "Filth". Talk about stirring up prejudice!!

And when it becomes clear to a conscientious politician that a carefully controlled and, of course, limited experiment in genocide is the best way of eliminating divisive and unproductive inter-ethnic frictions, the "Traditionalists" should not be allowed to intrude their own private opinions into the public forum. "Keep your hands off my gas chambers/machetes" should be our slogan. Clergy should keep well out of politics. 'Freedom of Worship', yes; but no freedom for those who wish to impose their own prejudice-ridden religious hang-ups upon an open and pluralist society. They must be 'No-platformed' in order to preserve a 'Safe Space' for women and men of Conscience.

True, S John Paul II in his Veritatis splendor claimed that there were certain sorts of things which were always objectively and totally wrong, but we all know where to advise the "Traditionalists" to shove that peculiarly antiquated document ... as well as Familiaris consortio and all the Ratzinger stuff.

Cupich may not, himself, have yet discerned the full exciting promise and beautiful ultimate flowering of his teachings, but he is entitled to be thought of as the true godfather of the Even Newer Morality of the Even More Caring Church! A real place in History!

14 October 2016

A courageous Cardinal

I can understand brother priests who feel that, admirable though the views of Cardinal Sarah are, now is not yet really quite the right moment to stick one's head above the bullet-scarred parapet and to begin the gradual, gentle, pastoral, catechised move to restore ad Orientem worship.

But I urge them to read the extracts available in translation on the internet (Fr Z; Chiesa ...) from his latest book. And to consider the simple courage of this wise and godly man. And to remember that the dissuasions of some other hierarchs have been based on a mistranslation of Latin and bad advice from somebody about the Law.

After Sarah's London paper on the subject, his appeal was immediately subverted, publicly, by other cardinals and bishops. Yet he now reiterates his call and points out that no priest needs any permission from anyone to celebrate facing the same way as the people. (Compare the very similar appeal to Subsidiarity in Summorum Pontificum.) In other words, attempts by prelates cuiuslibet dignitatis to give the impression that they can inhibit their subjects from doing this are quite simply extra-legal ... pressures. If they do invoke 'law', they are ill-informed (not, I hope, mendacious).

Clergy might, I most humbly suggest, ask themselves how they will feel if ... just for the moment, of course ... they ignore Sarah's appeal ... and the forces pitted against him then succeed in getting him hung out to dry.

The possibility of this is suggested by his own hint that the Holy Father (as well as the Vatican Press Office chappies) might not like his return to the topic of reforming the reform; and his insistence that the Pope "must" prevent arrogant intellectuals from stealing the patrimony of authentic Catholic worship from God's poor.

In practical and pastoral terms, I will pass on a point someone made at the Ordinariate Plenary Meeting only yesterday: if you do the Liturgy of the Word at the Seat, and return to the Seat for the oratio post communionem, facing ad Orientem simply for the Eucharistic Prayer, Our Father, and Fraction, you will actually not have been "turning your back on the people" for very long. Also from the Patrimony: remember that in a transitional period you could face the people at some Masses and not others; on some Sundays of the Month and not others.

And I beg brother clergy not to listen to some fiercely hard-line traddies, who actually prefer the Novus Ordo to be done in a certain sort of way, including ad populum, and as badly as possible, so that the Extraordinary Form is left as the only solution still on offer to the the crisis facing Catholic Worship (as Cardinal Sarah recently described it). This attitude is quite simply (IMO) sectarian and divisive and elitist.

Readers from the Anglican Patrimony will also recall the persecutions, more than a century ago, unloaded upon our own clergy who were restoring worship ad Orientem; and the trial (and trials) of the saintly bishop Edward King of Lincoln. (To think that the same battles, apparently, now have to be refought in the Catholic Church! How persuasive the Enemy is!)

Since the Cardinal's latest book is on the subject of Silence, the Anglican Patrimony can also offer the following supportive words from C S Lewis's Screwtape Letters.

The devil Screwtape says: Music and Silence - how I detest them both! ... Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless and virile - Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. ... The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. ...

Cardinal Sarah, dear Eminence: this poor Ordinariate member, at least, offers his prayers for you; and admires your courage as much as he does your wisdom.

The Universal Church is very much in your debt. God bless you.


Yet again! ... I will be taking a break from incoming computer traffic, including emails and Comments offered to the blog, from now, October 14, until October 21 inclusively. I hope to manage a blogpost most days.

By the way ... I do not enable comments arguing that, for whatever reason, Bergoglio is not the lawful Bishop of Rome. Recently, too, I did not accept something written in Croatian. This is because I gather that the English Bishops consider that bloggers are responsible for the comments they allow. And I do not think I can rely upon Google translators to reveal accurately to me the sense of a piece of Serbo-Croat.

When I took over my desk at Lancing in 1972, I found in one of the drawers a 1930s Serbo-Croat phrasebook with delicious entries such as "At what time does the Airship leave for Zagreb?". Sadly, I did not keep it.


A couple of people have rebuked me for talking about "Serbo-Croat". Well, if you insist, I'm sorry. But that was how the booklet described itself. You can hardly expect me to dissemble the Truth ...

12 October 2016


I think it was immensely witty of our beloved Holy Father to give Dr Welby a reproduction of S Gregory's crosier ... there must be a sermon in that ... but it would have said more for poor Welby's own sense of humour (oxymorologizo?) if he had given Bergoglio in return a reproduction of S Pius V's triregnum.

What will Bergoglio give the Swedish Lutheran 'bishops' at the end of this month as they venerate together the Stuprator Borae? I'm putting my bets on a jumbo-size Plenary Indulgence, accompanied by a whopping invoice and a framed photograph of S Peter's in Vaticano.

11 October 2016

The US of A; and the Anglican Use Mass

It is kind of readers to wish me well; I have never been to those more Arctic parts of North America before. The last time I headed across the Herring Pond it was to the pleasantly cosy climes of the Lone Star State ... I think, my fourth visit there. I had already got to know the admirable Fr Allan Hawkins and the warm welcome of his people, not least when I preached a Lenten Course there; my next experience was getting to know Fr Christopher Phillips and the vibrant, growing church and school he had built in San Antonio. A school, incidentally, in which Latin is well provided for! The Commencement Addresses I was privileged to give more or less wrote themselves!

What particularly struck me and impressed me at our Lady of the Atonement was the large number of Hispanic worshippers at the Anglican Use liturgies. I wondered what poor Dr Cranmer would have thought if he could have had a vision (or perhaps I mean an audition), as he walked towards the stake in the Oxford city ditch outside Balliol College, of prayers he had composed flowing with such cheerful ease from the lips of Catholic descendants of the Spanish subjects of good King Philip (I of England and II of Spain)!

The Liturgy at the Atonement does not include the Extraordinary Form, but it is done in a traditional idiom which would would have made it instantly recognisable to the original worshippers at the Texan Spanish Mission churches I was taken to see, in the Northern part of New Spain. The Hispanic members of the Atonement congregation seemed at least as enthusiastic about the fare they were receiving as did the Anglo-Saxons; they were clearly going to Mass there because they sensed that it provided them with something hard-wired into their genes.

The Ordinariate form of Mass manifestly has a much broader appeal than merely to ex-Anglicans or merely to the English (and Scots and Welsh). This is, quite simply, because it taps back into the Great Tradition; it re-establishes links with the grammar by which Western and Eastern Europeans worshipped for a couple of millennia. And that style of worship, penetrated throughout by the numinous, lasted so long and spread so far and so wide simply because, for generation after generation, it measured up to one great cultural and religious test: Is this what it ought to be like to be worshipping the Christian God?

Members of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham sensed that vividly last Saturday in Blessed John Henry Newman's shrine in Birmingham; Fr Phillips' huge and devout congregations, gathered from every cultural tradition, sense it as vividly under the warm sun of San Antonio.

10 October 2016

Visiting North America

I sometimes assure people that, if I plan to visit across the water, I will tell them. So ...

 ... Deo volente, I plan to fly over the Great Waters this Friday;

and to celebrate next Sunday October 16 and preach at the 9.30 a.m. High Mass at St Mary's Church 669 West Avenue, Norwalk CT;

and, same place same Sunday, 7.00 p.m., to speak to the subject of "Could a pope [or anybody else!] abolish the Extraordinary Form?";

and, on Tuesday October 18, 7.00 p.m., at St Patrick's Old Cathedral, 263 Mulberry Street New York, to speak about "Kasperism and the aspirations of [some!] Episcopal Conferences".

It would be good to meet friends old and new.

To Birmingham

What a splendid way for the Ordinary, Mgr Newton, to conclude the Ordinariate observances he has organised for the Year of Mercy! A large gathering of priests and laypeople went on pilgrimage to the Birmingham Oratory, Blessed John Henry Newman's own home and Church, along the Hagley Road.

The Oratory Church is an exquisite building, mirroring an earlier expression of Renaissance architecture than the full-blown baroque at Brompton. (If you want to 'do' Italian Renaissance art and architecture, you don't need to go to Italy or even to the V and A: just go to the two Oratories ... where, especially on Sundays, you can see what it's all for.) At the Ordinariate Pilgrimage Mass on Saturday morning, I think it is blabbing no secret to say that Father Keith felt very emotional when he was given our Blessed Patron's own crozier to carry during the Mass. After lunch, we heard two fine addresses, both by proven good friends of the Ordinariate: Father Deacon Dr Stephen Morgan upon Newman as Doctor Amicitiae and the relevance of this to the New Evangelisation; and Father Provost Ignatius Harrison, about our Anglican Patrimony in terms of our splendid Ordinariate Missal, which he thought gave much finer renderings of Latin originals than the ICEL Missal does. Father felt that we needed to be thoroughly distinctive ... this is our great contibution to evangelisation ... and thought that our own 'Use of the Roman Rite' did this very well; although, like many of us, he hoped that this would be 'work in progress' and might be edged closer to the dear old English Missal.

The Pilgrimage concluded with Solemn Benediction ... a very Patrimonial service ... with the English Hymnal translation of Tantum ergo. It was particularly appropriate to the place, types and shadows have their ending echoing Newman's ex umbris et imaginibus in Veritatem.

I was privileged to stay on overnight and to witness the Aggregation of a new member of this predominantly young and growing Oratory Community, and on Sunday morning I celebrated and preached at the parish High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the actual Feast of our great Blessed. What a privilege!! I felt quite emotional as, at the end of Mass, I censed the Relic of our Patron. I was also rather moved that they still use the Latin hymn they asked me to write for them, addressed to 'the Cardinal'. It accompanied me down the Church and to the Sacristy!

We sha'n't forget last weekend in a hurry. In practical terms, immense credit is due to Mgr Keith and the Oratorians and Fr Ron.

More profoundly, these two days symbolised the glorious, and beautiful, truths, that we really have come home, and that we truly are wanted and valued and needed.

7 October 2016

Moving beyond monoculture: solving the problem of the Novus Ordo (2)

Pope Benedict XVI wondered whether the European Churches, in a generation or two, might be leaner, hardier, more orthodox. We cannot know the end of that story. What we do know is that several English bishops are planning to reduce operations out there in the parishes to a significant extent. This may well have consequences for the survival of the 1970s monoculture within the Ordinary Form.

What I have in mind is this. Suppose Fr Mainstream says a Vigil Mass of Sunday, and two Sunday Masses, each weekend. Two of the three, let us supppose, are in the 1970s monoculture, while the third is ... Different. How Different, makes no difference to my point. It might be in the EF. Or, please God, in the Ordinariate Use. Or it might, in many places, be an OF Mass with features that distinguish it from the monoculture ... perhaps versus apsidem ... a well worked out, well expressed and orthodox sermon ... the liturgy partly in Latin ... scripturally and dogmatically orthodox hymns from the sound old Anglo-Catholic English Hymnal ... Holy Communion reverently administered and reverently received ... great fogs of incense ... any one or more of these in any combination.

Then Father has to take on an additional Church 50 miles away, which has, let us say, the same arrangements. Father now has six Masses to cover. He naturally considers reducing this burden to four: two vigil Masses, one at each Church; and, on Sunday, a Mass in each of the Churches. Naturally, in the pastoral interests of diversity and of a Laywoman's Right to Choose, he will retain the two Different Masses. The result of this will be that the four monocultural 1970s-style Masses will now be reduced to two ... a reduction of 50%.

Voila. Or, as we say nowadays, Bergoglio's your uncle. Add to this the fact that an increasing percentage of clergy, poor dears, are too young to have known the full glories of the 1970s and, while discerning their vocation, they somehow got hold of some idea that God was calling them to be priests. These bright young well-informed blokes aren't going to want to spend their priestly lives maintaining a dreary 1970s theme park. They are sufficiently big-hearted not to need to keep their laity reduced to a state of infantilisation. And it won't be possible to lock them up in the presbytery cellar and make them serve twenty penal years as the Junior Curate on a staff of six because, happily, the shortage of clergy will mean that they will have to be made priests-in-charge subito! ... or, as the Pakistani taxi drivers round here rather sweetly say, pretty dam' quick.

Current shortages and closures may well prove to be a godsend. My suspicion is: worrying times ahead for Tabletistas and ACTA clones! They may have a sadly blighted old age to which to look forward!

6 October 2016

Moving beyond monoculture: a solution to the problem of the Novus Ordo (1)

The recent debate in the Latin Church occasioned by the spat between Cardinals Sarah and Nichols makes one thing clear. The causa belli is not about Extraordinary Form versus Ordinary Form. Only the Tablet-reader type of person brings the EF into the argument, largely as a way of scaring the horses. No; it is about how the Novus Ordo may best be done.

My analysis is that the problem lies not so much in the OF as such. This debate has made that very clear: fury has been stoked by the prospect of seeing the OF done versus apsidem. Some time ago, it was reported that Bishop Fellay, having witnessed a celebration of the OF done according to Tradfition, commented that the Great Archbishop himself would not have objected to that. The point at issue is what used to be called the Reform of the Reform: and I agree rather with Fr Lombardi that this is not altogether an attractive term. I would prefer to talk critically about a monoculture of the OF, by which I would mean the OF done as it is in hundreds of churches; versus populum; Holy Communion received ambulando; trite music; a preponderance of the vernacular; the widespread use of large numbers of 'Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion"; the pseudo-hippolytan trattoria in trastevere Eucharistic Prayer at Sunday Masses.

In my view, any and every step away from this monoculture is a good step. As Fr Zed puts it, brick by brick. Let me give you one example. Until Vincent Nichols attained the See of Westminster, the nasty practice obtained of wheeling out a temporary altar into the Sanctuary and celebrating at that, facing the people and leaving the great High Altar ignored and widowed. This was catechetically appalling: the Altar symbolises Christ; symbolises the oneness of the community; shows that this Eucharist is one with the one worship of the Lamb in heaven. After his appointment ... if he was responsible, he is much to be praised for this ... the mobile altar was pensioned off and the High Altar brought back into use, albeit versus populum.

I don't know how much catechesis there was about this significant and laudable change; which lay representative bodies were consulted beforehand; how many Tablet-readers walked out of the Cathedral in disgust and never returned ... my guess is, Not Many. I don't even care. I am just thankful that it was done. Three cheers for whoever was responsible.

To be continued.

5 October 2016

Where my heart is ...

There are, I know, some Traditionalists who feel uneasy about any priest who ever celebrates the Novus Ordo. They acknowledge that the Novus Ordo Mass is valid; but they feel so strongly about its inadequacies that they could never attend an Old Rite Masss celebrated by a priest who had 'compromised' himself in this way; they see a question mark hanging over the ministry of any priest who feels able to celebrate so flawed (as they see it) a rite.

I do not think that this attitude quite does justice to the complexities of the situation. For example: the Dominican Rite has differences from the Tridentine Rite ... a different Confiteor, different (and much shorter) Offertory Prayers ... So: if a priest celebrated the Novus Ordo in Latin and versus Orientem, selecting of course the Roman Canon, how could such a celebration be seen as more radically different from the Tridentine Rite than the Dominican or Carmelite Rites are? And would such 'strict' lay people refuse to attend a Sarum Mass, used in Medieval England and in the English Seminaries abroad until Dr Lawrence Webb arrived from Rome in December 1576 and began to teach the new Missal? Not to mention, of course, the (old) Ambrosian Rite, with its archaic positioning of the Fraction. Bishop Fellay is reported to have spoken favourably of a thoroughly traditional celebration of the Novus Ordo; and let it be remembered that Archbishop Lefebvre adopted the incremental changes made in the Ordo Missae throughout the 1960s, only returning to the Classical Roman Ordo Missae, with the Iudica me and the Last Gospel et cetera, in the mid 1970s.

But I think there is a more radical personal consideration than that. This is what I think gets to the heart of the matter: does a priest think of the Old Rite as the Gold Standard? Does he naturally, automatically, instinctively, say his own private Mass, when pastoral considerations do not require of him a public Mass, in the Extraordinary Form? Is his spirituality formed by the Old Rite? Does he do the Novus Ordo in as traditional a way as pastoral circumstances allow him? Is his whole attitude, and his ritual care about such things as reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, formed by his grounding in the Old Rite? Perhaps is he a priest, brought up on the Novus Ordo but knowing better, and who is doing his best to learn and understand the Old Rite? Perhaps he is an Ordinariate priest, nurtured by the devout and sacramentally orthodox and orthopraxic culture of Anglo-Catholic worship and now employing the vernacular but orthodox and most laudable liturgy to be found in the Ordinariate Missal?

Such priests are quite different from a cleric who celebrates the Novus Ordo without a care or a thought, and whose instincts and, indeed, prejudices are lodged firmly in the tawdry world of the 1970s monoculture; even if he may have learned the Old Mass so as to be able occasionally to say it in order to keep some silly old (or young) people quiet.

Of course, things being as they are, there will be clergy who are somewhere in between. My concern is to make very clear my view that a generosity of approach on the part of laity and clergy is very much more rational and desirable than a harsh rigidity.

If God had wanted you to live your Catholic life in the 1930s, that is where he would have put you!

3 October 2016


Is the Eucharistic Host bread? Or is It the Body of Christ? Can we call It 'Bread' after the Consecration? I remember long explanations given by myself to parishioners in Devon about how we should not talk about "taking the bread and wine". But there is a philological difficulty.

People are not always aware that the Latin (also the Greek) word means LOAF and only sometimes the substantia of BREAD.

There are two problems about translating PANIS simply as BREAD:
(1) One loses the meaning of phrases like UNUS PANIS, pointing as they do to a parallelism between the oneness of Christ's Eucharistic and Mystical Bodies. You will remember the very early Patristic topos of the symbolism expressed by the making of the one loaf from the innumerable grains of wheat.
(2) Referring to the consecrated element as "bread" suggests, misleadingly, that it is bread rather than Christ's Body (in Aristotelian-Thomistic terms, that the ousia or substantia of bread remains).

I don't think one can incorporate "loaf" into English renderings of liturgical texts, but I think it is a good idea for the thoughtful to be aware of this problem.

1 October 2016

Vesting Prayers

Is it customary for Deacon and Subdeacon to say Vesting Prayers? A correspondent points me to Ceremonies of High Mass (Dublin 1843) which advises that each minister "may use the prayers to be said by a bishop".

Indeed, why not? the prayers for the Dalmatic and Tunicle are already provided among the prayers to be said by a bishop when vesting, and I suspect they are of some antiquity because they express the first-millennium idea that these vestments are signs of joy (which is why during penitential seasons they are replaced by folded chasubles - find my treatment of that via the Archive facility). Oh yes ... and can I ask ... am I the only person who puts the Maniple on after the Dalmatic for fear that otherwise my left arm will get helplessly entangled? Is that one reason why the book referred to above advises that "The deacon is to kiss the maniple in due order of vestments but he does not take the maniple until the celebrant is entirely vested".

Come to think of it, the Maniple Prayer doesn't go particularly well with the Dalmatic Prayer.

At the request of a colleague at Lancing, I once composed a rather nice Latin prayer to be said while putting on the radio microphone. Sadly, I can't now find a copy ...

While we're on Vesting Prayers ... I've always envied pontiffs the prayer said while taking off the Cappa: Undress me, O Lord, of the Old Man with his morals and activities ... There ought to be another prayer (I hope someone would like to compose one in Latin) for the pontiff to say, after Mass, as he again puts back on the Old Adam and goes back to his ordinary everyday life of murdering, fornicating, and embezzling.