9 January 2017

Infantilising the laity

I'm afraid this is really just an update of my recent post (SEE BELOW) about the enthusiam of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity for silly games with empty shoe boxes.

Readers, of course, intelligently diagnosed (see thread) what was going on here. This is a quality blog!! The whole spirit of the PCCU enterprise resembled ... to a quite uncanny degree ... an English TV programme called Blue Peter in which children are encouraged to be creative with string and boxes. Good for children ... our five children had more fun with string and boxes than they ever did with expensive toys. But ... adults ...?

Much of what is wrong goes back to a wrong turning taken by the Liturgical Movement. The realisation of the immense riches in the Roman Rite led to a very laudable desire to open those riches more fully to the laity. This led in turn to the desire for (some??) vernacular. But the Enemy can pervert any good endeavour. So the ancient Roman Eucharistic Prayer, within a decade, was effectively displaced by a spurious confection which attracted employment by nothing except its brevity. And the seasonal Sunday Collects were eliminated en bloc. Then came Stage 2: the already mangled Roman Rite was corrupted still further in Anglophone regions by being 'translated' into the most cretinous, the most vacuous dialect of English imaginable. And, believe it or not, liturgical translators without Latin (!!) used the English version as the basis of their own renderings into minority languages. You just couldn't make it up.

Unsurprisingly, this has all fed through into the present crisis, in which God's People are treated with contempt; or, to be more precise, treated like very little children. Although the old corrupt translation has now been replaced (despite the fury of Tablet readers) by something markedly less unworthy, the damage had been done. The liturgical texts, in my experience, are still very rarely explained or expounded. Some clergy illegally but regularly paraphrase the authorised texts (even the Consecration), and do so in a way which reveals their own broad and deep incompetences. Nor are the Scriptures expounded, despite the explicit desire of Vatican II. Much preaching is pitiful. To cap it all, we now have a Roman Pontiff who talks about s**t-loving and s**t-eating and clearly feels he is a very fine fellow for doing so. Some clergy, presumably getting the message, break the rules by avoiding preaching whenever they can. Not surprisingly, they hate the Creed, especially if it's Nicene. But time can always be found for daft and soppy music.

The solution is really immensely simple. From Roman Pontifical Councils downwards [or do I mean upwards?], the clergy need to start treating the laity as grown-up Christians who do not need anybody's condescension. Who deserve respect rather than verbal cuddling. And seminarians need to be taught the essentially and unavoidably masculine character of the Roman Rite; they could well start by studying the work of those superb lay Catholic liturgists Edmund Bishop [The Genius of the Roman Rite] and Christine Mohrmann [The Origins of Liturgical Latin].

 The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, invented by Anglican Papalists and originally, admirably, known as the Chair of Unity Octave, starts on Wednesday January 18; which, in the Old Calendar, was the Feast of the Chair, the Cathedra, of S Peter. This year the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in collaboration with some Ecumenical Partners, has set out quasi-liturgical formulae for use. These forms constitute successful attempts to scale heights of risibilty which have not to my knowledge previously been attempted. This is your real hard-core Guinness-book-of-records rubbish.

The central ritual involves the moving of stones. But, because carrying real stones might be a bit like hard work for the aged biddies of each sex who are likely to be symbolising their second childhoods by taking part in these rituals, the "stones" will in fact be shoe boxes covered with packing paper. No, I'm not making this up. Twelve of them. With labels. Labels naming 'things that divide'. The 'stones' will be built up to make a 'Wall of Division' which will then be dismantled and formed into a Cross. (What happens if the officiants disagree about the neatest way in which twelve empty shoe-boxes can be arranged into a Cross, and end up in a melee of fisticuffs, is a rubrical detail which these curial nut-cases have not catered for.)

At least two things worry me here.
(1) Some of the names on the stones involve non-statement, since they imply a tautology. How helpful is it, for example, to say that Division Divides?
(2) The Divisive Factors selected by the PCCU, of course, imply a specific (and distinctly narrow) mindset. I can best illustrate this by telling you some of the things which will not be written on any of the shoe boxes. 'Heresy' is not included. Nor is 'Disobedience to the Commandments of God'. No mention of  'Divergence from Holy Tradition'. Or of 'Failure to Worship God as He has commanded'. Try guessing what, in the Spirit of the Zeitgeist, these Ecumenists have come up with, then turn to the Vatican Website and discover how close you have got to analysing accurately the Spirit of the Age. And, No: 'Following the Spirit of this Passing Age' does not claim the dignity of a shoebox.

Nor does 'Encouraging grown men and women to play daft games with shoe boxes'. 


  1. Father, is there a reason you don't include links in your posts? For the benefit of those searching for sources, the page you reference is http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/weeks-prayer-doc/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20160531_week-prayer-2017_en.html, and a history of the annual resources page is http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/sub-index/index_weeks-prayer.htm.

  2. Ah, how sweet! The Vatican website actually describes the process for creating the shoe box wall: “For this project, you will need 12 shoe boxes, some sticky-backed plastic, and a squeezy bottle. Ask mum or dad to cut the boxes to size for you with scissors....” It took me back to my youth, a kind of Blue Peter Does Ecumenism. Apparently the original rite involved stones, but shoes boxes were substituted in the Novus Ordo version.

  3. It's all here folks: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/weeks-prayer-doc/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20160531_week-prayer-2017_en.html

  4. I have a shoe box labeled - The Russians hacked our Pope

  5. Fr. I couldn't find the offending "liturgy" on the Vatican website, however, at the risk of losing the will to live, it may be downloaded here:


    Until "ecumnenists" start dealing with real sins against unity such as heresy and schism, this whole anodyne project of ecumenism is destined to be the preserve of those who have lost the faith of the Church or their chosen ecclesial sect.

    One of the 12 stones does have some topical relevance, however i.e. "Abuse of power." It does seem that the next schism to occur in the Catholic Church will be precipitated by the abuse of power in fostering false discipline which is contrary to Catholic doctrine. Perhaps we should all mail a real stone with the words "Abuse of power" written on it to Casa Santa Marta.

  6. I see that "Rigidity" is not on the list which is baffling. "Pride" is on the list. This is usually the theme for LBGT marches. Indeed indeed!

  7. I honestly thought this was a joke until I found the relevant Pontifical Council's website promoting it:


    Read it... If you have the stomach for it.

    Along with the description of the shoe box game and the order of the proposed "Ecumenical Liturgy," they very helpfully include Biblical "meditations" with questions to ponder together, such as:

    "What must change in my church so that divisions can be overcome and that which unites can be strengthened?"


    "Which songs, stories, poems, and pictures from your tradition give you the feeling of participating in the reality of God´s eternity?"

    Silver lining: maybe this will help Catholic and Orthodox anti-ecumenists discover unity in their (our) common disdain for this nonsense?

  8. This sounds like a variant of the ancient game of 'knuckle-bones'. Perhaps this latest incarnation might best be called 'knuckle-head'?

  9. But Father, what about Clown Masses and Liturgical Dance?

  10. I went to a parent-teacher conference regarding one of my teenage sons. He is enrolled in a Catholic(ish) High School, and was taking a course in Religious Studies. {They are poorly catechized, but that is another rant altogether).

    The teacher was concerned that my son was reluctant to answer questions that appeared to come from quizzes in Tiger Beat or similar serious academic or theological publications, and involved putting in writing and sharing with his teacher his deepest personal thoughts about the kind of squishy, touchy-feely stuff that strikes terror into the heart of normal teenage boys.

    I essentially told his teacher that I wouldn't want to answer those questions either, because it isn't anyone else's business. Sheesh!

  11. "Apparently the original rite involved stones, but shoes boxes were substituted in the Novus Ordo version."

    Just such a rite is described in the "Apostolic Tradition" of St. Hippolytus. Liturgical scholars believe it was composed in A.D. 235 and was first used during the formal reconciliation of Pope St. Pontian of Rome and St. Hippolytus, who up till then had been an antipope.


  12. Wouldn't it be far better to be honest about who and what we are, and pray accordingly?

    (Perhaps the Roman authorities are indeed being honest…!)

    1. In the morning:

    Penitential Psalms (chanted in a low monotone, all kneeling); then
    Litany of the Saints (sung in procession); and
    Solemn High Mass for Church Unity (olim, ad tollendum schisma), with Veni Creator as Offertory Motet, and Ubi caritas as Communion Motet.

    2. In the afternoon:

    Solemn Vespers; and
    Solemn Benediction, incl. the singing of the Laudes Regiæ.

    Additionally, for example, a Moleben or other Byzantine service of supplication could be offered by those of that Rite.

    Similarly, an Ordinariate parish could celebrate solemn Evensong and Benediction.

  13. P.S. O salutaris Hostia sounds splendid when sung to Parry's 'Jerusalem'.

  14. "The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has been building up to this anniversary since 2008, by focusing each year on one particular aspect of the Reformation, for example: the Reformation and Politics, or the Reformation and Education."

    Which year focused on the Reformation of the Overpopulation of Central Europe in the 16th Century?

  15. It must be frustrating for satiric bloggers such as Eye of the Tiber when actual events in the Church exceed what a satirist could make up on his or her own.

  16. Perhaps, in the interests of Christian unity , we could adapt this lovely ritual for the internal forum among Catholics. And it would also give us a chance to practice holy and righteous recycling of paper and cardboard.
    Taking five of the boxes, one could fill them with slips of paper saying either yes, no, maybe, not sure, and pass. On the outside of the box could be written an interesting question which would help with the exploration of a bible passage. The participants, handily assembled in a circle, can then draw from each box one answer, and see if they can make sense of the bible passage, using the questions and the answers they have drawn at random.
    One could use questions drawn directly from a biblical text, such as John 21:15-17.
    My favourite version would use the text Matthew 19:1-12. In this version of the game, any combination of answers drawn will be helpful and equally valid. Some may not like to draw from every box, and that will be okay too, as 2+2 can still equal five. However in the manner of the family friendly game Bingo, a prize could be awarded to the participant who draws out the answer sequence 'no yes yes yes yes'. A particularly favoured prize are small replicas of well known heresiarchs made out of chocolate.

  17. Sounds just like the "team-building" exercises or "ice-breakers" many of us have been subjected to in our working lives. I suspect flip-charts and Magic Markers were involved in whatever brainstorming sessions produced this. I trust participants will be issued with a pretty A4 certificate of something on mock-parchment paper (pink or blue are favourites).

  18. @ Jonathan.

    Indeed. This reminds me of first reading the headline about the slideshow on the facade of St. Peter's, and being convinced I was accidentally reading EotT. And shouldn't stone-bearers be "stone-bearers" in the rubrics (or "rubrics"... once scare quotes begin here, where will they stop?)?

  19. To turn towards something more adult and less patronising:

    Evensong and Benediction for Christian Unity

    Psalms 67, 85, 122, 133 [as suggested in the 1928 US BCP]

    Lessons: Isaiah 35 and John 17 [ditto]

    Collects (that for SS Simon & Jude, and two for Unity):

    O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    O LORD Jesus Christ, who didst say unto thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant it that peace and unity which is agreeable to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

    O GOD, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly Union and Concord; that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one Hope of our Calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond of Truth and Peace, of Faith and Charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Hymn at Evensong: "The Church’s one foundation"
    Hymn at Benediction: "O thou who at thy Eucharist didst pray"

  20. O God, keep me away from shoebokes and their ilk!
    Christian unity will be accomplshed when all the bishops, east and west are hearded into a large room to figure things out, and all the bathroom and kitchen doors are plugged until they decide. considering the relative ages of the bishops and their relative girth, it won't take long!
    Snark off....
    jim of olym

  21. Well, when all your told over and over again that the sensus fidelium is to "pray, pay and obey", it's not that surprising. Laity were told for generations that they had no authority regarding doctrine and dogma; indeed, the whole concept of the Magisterium seems to be a mechanism for the laity to easily outsource the responsibility and means to develop maturity. Sort of like a business outsourcing its Information Technology function; "let the specialists do that", in this case, the clergy. And, once the clergy gave each other permission to do anything they wanted with the liturgy (the laity having been thoroughly beaten into submission by the Magisterium and so unable to put up a fight), all you're left with is "Clergy Gone Wild" to add to an already horrible video series.

  22. I had the original post open in my browser when I put the computer in sleep mode. When I refreshed, the post was 404. I thought perhaps that Fr Hunwicke had fallen for some satirical prank, but sadly, this is all too real. It was reposted with some additional comments. The Saints must weep at this childish nonsense.

  23. For those who would rather not play with cardboard boxes, here are the Octave Prayers as set out by Fr. Paul of Graymoor, and which we have used at Our Lady of the Atonement Church for the past thirty-three years.

    ANTIPHON: That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in me and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.

    V. I say unto thee, thou art Peter;

    R. And upon this rock I will build my Church.

    [Here is brought to mind the intention for the day's prayer.]

    January 18: For the return of the "other sheep" to the One Fold of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    January 19: For the return of the Eastern Orthodox Christians to communion with the Apostolic See.

    January 20: For the return of the Anglicans to the authority of the Vicar of Christ.

    January 21: For the return of all Protestants throughout the world to the unity of the Catholic Church.

    January 22: That Christians in America (or, in my own country) may be one, in union with the Chair of Saint Peter.

    January 23: That lapsed Catholics will return to the Sacraments of the Church.

    January 24: That the Jewish people will be converted to the Catholic Faith.

    January 25: That missionary zeal will conquer the world for Christ.

    Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thine apostles, peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church; and grant to her peace and unity according to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

  24. In the spirit of offering useful links, some of Mr Bishop's works can be read here.

  25. Well, Stephen, with respect I don't entirely agree. I emphasised the lay status of Bishop and Mohrmann to remind readers that while lay men and lay women may not have Magisterial POWER, they have every right (and duty) to express themselves according to their competences. The Byzantine Churches are very familiar with the vocation of the Lay Theologian; and, within the Anglican Patrimony, how can we forget C S Lewis and D L Sayers?

  26. Continuing our theme representing the destruction of the Church in makrame, next week we will be making Catholic Humble Pie with Valerie Singleton. Ask mummy to get you some pastry (the flakier the better, it must not be rigid). First, soften up a bunch of vegetables (no, not the episcopacy, silly!). Any proprietary pie-mix may be used, though I find that this recipe works especially well when filled simply with self-loathing – but who am I to judge? To serve, the dish may “accompanied” according to local synodal custom, but we favour any kind of Swede - Lutheran varieties are particularly popular at the moment.

  27. All need to buy or Kindle book: WHAT HAPPENED AT Vatican11 by OMalley. It explains why Francis speaks as he does bc it explains what happened at Vaticn2.

  28. Where are the parishes where priests are not preaching at all? That is one abuse I would infinitely prefer to what I am getting right now.

    And that is how bad things are: we are reduced to going with the abuses we are best able to stomach.