30 April 2017

The Mind of the Church

What did the Magisterium  of Pope Paul VI teach about the the use of the First Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon?

He made a legislative statement which he did not make with regard to the other three Prayers. It was that it semper adhiberi potest. This has a very valuable consequence. It means that a priest who resolves that he will use that Prayer invariably cannot be accused of lacking the true mind of the Church, on the grounds that he never uses three other authorised Prayers. It means that when the same text goes on to suggest that Payer II is most suitable on weekdays, this cannot be held to render the use of the Canon Romanus on weekdays to be inappropriate. To use EP I invariably cannot be contrary to the spirit of the new Ordo Missae, because this provision explicitly sanctions such a resolve. Since this Ordo Missae states on its first page that it is ex decreto of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, it cannot, unless the Pope was lying, be contrary to the spirit of that Council invariably to use the Canon Romanus.

The Instructio Generalis also remarks that the Canon Romanus is used opportunius on the Sundays and Solemnities of the year; on the festivals of Saints whose names occur in that Prayer; and on days when Proper formulae are provided for the Communicantes or the Hanc igitur.

There are 52 Sundays in the year; and, by my rough estimate, 53 days covered by the other occasions thus listed. So, on something like a third of the days of the year ... and certainly on Sundays and Days of Obligation ... a strong preference for the use of the Canon Romanus is eminently in accordance with the expressed mind of the Legislator.

Even where the Pastor feels that he cannot celebrate versus Orientem or in Latin, surely he could, as a first step, restore the Roman Canon as the normative Eucharistic Prayer? Another indication of the Mind of the Church: this is exactly what the Ordinariate Missal has done! And I know a very flourishing Church in Connecticut where this is the rule!

28 April 2017

The Prisoner in the Tabernacle

In the OF, the priest genuflects to the Blessed Sacrament only on approaching the Altar at the beginning of Mass; and immediately after Mass as he returns to the Sacristy. To me, the symbolic body-language of the rite could be given this vernacular expression: "Good morning, Lord. Glad you're still here. Notice that I am giving you your due respect. But now - I'm sure you won't mind - I'm going to ignore you for a bit, and do some extremely important things with my back to you, centering myself upon pieces of furniture that bear no spatial relationship to the part of the church where we keep you. In fact, for a fair bit of time I shall actually be sitting with my back to you. But don't worry. Before I go back to the Sacristy I shall, very respectfully, notice you again."

I am unfamiliar with this ethos; I have never officiated regularly in a church where I had to have my back to the Tabernacle. Sometimes, as at S Thomas's and in my un-reordered very-moderate C of E churches in Devon, I have faced East. Sometimes, as at Lancing, I have regularly for decades celebrated versus populum but (Lancing Chapel is 'cathedral' in scale and in ordering) with the Tabernacle in a separate Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The usual modern set-up seems to me to teach - thoroughly effectively - the liturgical theology of the 1970s. For those of us who share Papa Ratzinger's critical evaluation of 1970s assumptions, this set-up cannot fail to be to some degree unhelpful. Of course one can worship in such a place ... indeed, one has little choice but to do so; but one is worshipping against the grain of the whole architectural arrangement - unhelped rather than helped by it.

This arrangement represents the apotheosis of that closed-circle liturgical culture, criticised by Benedict XVI, in which the Eucharist is as it were generated in the middle of a gathered community which ritually seems to exclude what is outside that circle. It is, in my fallible judgement, very much worse than versus- populum-without-the-Tabernacle because, in our modern arrangement, the Tabernacle of the Lord's sacramental presence is itself explicitly relegated by the geometry to outside the enclosed and exclusive ritual circle. I hesitate to appear to advocate the removal of the Tabernacle from the focal point of a church ... but, well, recall what happened at old-style Pontifical High Masses. Because the rigmarole of showing proper respect to a prelate was instinctively felt to be inconsistent with the sort of respect one should display to the Sacrament Reserved, the Tabernacle was left empty for the pontifical celebration. If the place of Reservation is at the focal point of the sanctuary, its treatment in the fashionable liturgy of the 1970s seems to me profoundly questionable.

There is a history of apprehension about too 'localised' an understanding of sacramental presence. I am not, of course, entering into that game. My point is that signs teach; the arrangement of churches is a complex of signs which are not meaningless - otherwise the liturgists of the 1970s would not have gone to the trouble to make all the changes they did make. And those changes increasingly seem to this one very fallible commentator to be difficult to reconcile with the decencies of orthodoxy.

The OF itself in no way exclusively mandates this culture; and still less did the Council. In my recollection, it is only a few years since an Irish bishop who was (still) trying to re-order his Cathedral (a famous landmark with a distinguished architectural history), claimed that he was obliged to do so by Vatican II. Happily, he was forced to take his arguments to a planning enquiry where his ... er ... inaccuracy ... was exposed. Places like Brompton demonstrate that it is not impossible to 'stage' decent OF worship, and to avoid vandalising a building which was lovingly - and expensively - constructed to enhance a particular liturgical culture. Places like Westminster Cathedral demonstrate ... under the influence of Cardinal Nichols ... how Decent things can be made if the arrangements of the 1970s are intelligently but radically reconsidered.

27 April 2017

NOTICE: No Comments on this Blog.

I am taking ... again ... about a fortnight off from the computer. Daily I will, Deo volente, put a post on the blog but I will not be reading my emails, and that includes looking at comments submitted to the blog. So you can read me but not address me!!

Readers may wonder why I do not simply allow comments to pop up without bothering to moderate them, as I did when I started my first blog, Liturgical Notes. The reason is that it was made clear to me (not by my Ordinary) that clerical bloggers are to a degree considered responsible for the comments which appear on their blogs.

I am a simple soul, an increasingly frail, absent-minded and wool-gathering retired priest concerned to serve the Lord and his Church, to defend and explain to the best of my ability the Magisterium and the Liturgy; and I have no desire to create or endure hassle.

I would, by the way, appreciate it if friends tried not to fill up my email in-box during this imminent  fortnight. It is a little overwhelming eventually to face several hundred emails all stacked up and waiting.

And I would recommend all readers to try the experience of not being open to the input which the Wonderful World daily offers us, whether by the Internet or the TV or the Wireless or the Daily Newspaper or the Telephone or even the Mails. Without all that, one experiences life just as it was experienced by the great majority of the members of the human race during the hundreds of generations preceding our own. The mind is so much more sensitive to actual real human interactions. And to the presence of the Lord in Holy Mass and Divine Office and Mental Prayer. And to the natural interstices of space and time. I do not even need to know about the Holy Father's Abdication the very moment it is announced! As it happens, I did not hear about Pope Benedict's Election until several days later. Before modern communications began, millions of Catholics probably had to wait for weeks before hearing that one pontiff had died and another had been elected. Did the delay matter?

Call it, if you like, the concept of a Secular Retreat.

(Although I am very attached to the Italian Lakes, there is no truth in the rumour that by Cardinal Nichols' kind invitation I shall be chairing this year's Spring Plenary of the CBCEW. Humility would incline me to decline such an invitation, anyway. I know the limitations to my man-management skills.)

24 April 2017

Saint Augustine and Limbo

A Colloquium on Limbo? A visit to the restored Pugin Shrine of S Augustine of Canterbury? 30 June to 1 July? £150 but only £75 for Seminarians, because they are already in a type of Limbo.

Try googling the Dialogos Institute.

Go on, have a look 

23 April 2017

The child-like simplicity of some Natural Scientists (1)

I once read an article in New Scientist, exulting (as I must confess I also do) in then-recent Pluto fly-past, which enquired 'where we go to next'. The author replied to his own question by suggesting a visit to Alpha Centauri, our nearest neighbouring star, which is a mere four light-years away. Acknowledging that a space-craft constructed in accordance with our current technology would take a rather long time to get there, he nevertheless enthusiastically urged such a project on the grounds that it would be tremendously exciting for our descendants, in 100,000 years, to be getting the pictures (and other data) back.

I think this sort of sweet and child-like simplicity really marks out the instinctive differences between those like me, bred to cynicism and scepticism in the Humanities, and what I will call the naive journalism-end of Science writing. (I put it like this because, during my teaching career, I had colleagues, published scientists, who were men and women of very broad interests and formidable intelligence, whom I have no desire to patronise or insult.) For me, litteris humanioribus nutritus, nothing is more obvious than that the interests and assumptions and intellectual fashions of our species vary hugely from year to year, generation to generation, century to century, millennium to millennium. My own immensely shallow forays into intellectual history have included the 1930s, the 1840s, the 1630s, the 1490s, the Classical Roman World, the Classical Greek World ... in other words, brief, superficial  forays into brief periods spread over a little more than two thousand years. Many readers will recall that a very able mind, Mgr Ronald Knox, described with erudition and brilliance the mutating preoccupations in a fictional Oxford Senior Common Room by eaves-dropping its after-dinner conversations at fifty year intervals from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries (Let Dons Delight).

Of course, I may be wrong, and I grant you the liberty to be quite certain that I am. But I have to say that nothing strikes me as more totally, mind-blowingly, absurdly improbable than the idea that, in 100,000 years, our human descendants, assuming that we have any, will be possessed of interests even remotely similar to those of early twenty-first century astronomers. 

Anyone who can believe that (I feel inclined to say) will believe anything.

22 April 2017

"Archbishop Becciu"?

So an English gentleman, Fra Matthew Festing, has been ordered by some Italian archbishop called Becciu not to set foot in Rome. Such is the degree of petty tyranny to which Christ's Church Militant has now descended.

 Did I say 'archbishop'? This Becciu has never discharged a pastoral role as a real Bishop, let alone an 'arch'bishop. He is styled 'Archbishop' because of a nasty, corrupt practice set in place by S John XXIII, of spraying episcopacy over pen-pushing bureaucrats.

I complained about this twice in 2014. Interestingly, Cardinal Kasper made exactly the same point around the same time. In this matter, he is absolutely right. This is a massive abuse calling for reform, but still unreformed even in an allegedly reforming pontificate.

I wonder what conclusions we should draw from the spectacle of a Pope whose rhetoric is about Shepherds Smelling of Sheep, and about a Church Which gets Its Hands Dirty, but who actually functions oppressively through 'archbishops' who smell of nothing so much as the Computer.

Here is one of the pieces I originally wrote in 2014.

It is nice to know that Important People in Rome read my blog so carefully and take it so seriously. Cardinal Walter Kasper, I gather, agrees with me that: it is an abuse to thrust episcopacy upon curial bureaucrats as a sort of 'honour'. Kasper points out that even the great and admirable Cardinal Ottaviani, that hugely wonderful apotheosis of doctrinal rigour combined with Traditional peasant Catholicism [that bit's my description, not Kasper's], was not a bishop until S John XXIII, in accordance with his deplorable new policy, forced him to become one. Indeed, back even in the days of the derided 'Renaissance Prince' papacy, this was not thought necessary. (Blessed John Henry Newman was a cardinal but never a bishop.) Why can't the present Holy Father see the logic of my and Kasper's point? To thrust the charism of a Successor of the Apostles upon someone who is not going to be using that sacramental status in et cum Ecclesia, as the Shepherd of a Particular Church with its presbyterium, diakonia, and laos, but is merely going to have a 'titular' see in some long-forgotten place, is an abuse of the Sacraments. It is to use the Sacraments themselves merely to augment a bureaucrat's dignity and vanity ... as well as Signor Gammarelli's profits! Of course, there are bishops whose ministry of episkope is unusual but is pastorally episcopal (one thinks of Archbishop Pozzo, in the Ecclesia Dei  Commission), but I do not think that this is typical of curial roles.

Neither Walter Kasper nor I are attacking the present Pope individually in saying this. Pope Benedict XVI and S John Paul II used episcopal Consecration in precisely the way we are criticising. In my view, it would show Pope Francis in a very good light if he took the opportunity of his reform of the structures of the Curia to introduce this reform as part of the package. He's removed all the silly stuff about curial prebyters getting automatically to call themselves Monsignore ... good ... but the abuse of the Apostolic Ministry carries on, and is a far worse abuse. [Frankly, the speed with which Bergoglio made Tucho Fernandez an archbishop, in little more than hours after becoming pope, calls into question his credentials as a 'reformer'.]

Let curial Cardinal Presbyters be and remain Cardinal Presbyters! (And wear, daily, a galero, if they want to!) But what is worst is that secretaries of dicasteries are made archbishops. Is the Holy Father not aware that, in the local churches throughout the world, 'Archbishop' is a title of some distinction?

Sometimes it is suggested that such 'rank' is necessary so that the curial chappy concerned can 'outrank' Bishops from dioceses (rather as the Officer commanding a naval base used to be made the 'Harbour Admiral' so that he could outrank pushy visiting ships' Captains).

But does the Body of Christ need this infantile preoccupation with rank?

20 April 2017

William Cardinal Allen ...

... is one of my favourite Cardinals. What a shame the Armada, perhaps the greatest Ecumenical venture ever planned, was unsuccessful! What a loss to the Ecclesia Cantuariensis!

In Westminster Cathedral, a large church in a Byzantine-derived style near Victoria Station, there are big brassy brass lists, dating from the pontificate of Cardinal Vaughan, erected to demonstrate the links of communio between successive Roman Pontiffs and the heads of the Catholic Church in England. (I have written about them before; my suspicion is that they are intended as an attempted counter-blast to Anglican claims of linear succession from S Augustine's quite successful little Church Plant from the Caelian Hill.)

What I want to know is: Why is Cardinal Allen not on that list?

Was he not appointed Head of the English Mission on September 18 1591 by Gregory XIV (an admirable pope who was a friend of S Philip Neri and of S Charles Borromeo, perpetuator of our own dear Cardinal Pole's Counter-Reformation).

What has the Ecclesia Westmonasteriensis got against William Allen? Or against Gregory XIV?

Was Vaughan in Lord Burley's pay?

A toast to the Glorious Memories of Popes Gregory XIV, Benedict XIV, and Clement XIV! And of William Cardinal Allen!!

19 April 2017

"In communion with the Pope"

Some bishop somewhere out there in foreigner-land has suspended a priest who criticised Pope Bergoglio in a sermon.

Personally, I think it is bad form to use a sermon to criticise directly any other Catholic cleric ... including the Pope. It is not what sermons are for.

But I take great exception to the wording which this bishop is reported to have used. And I mention it because it is a linguistic usage I have come across elsewhere during this increasingly illiberal pontificate.

Preaching should serve, said the bishop, "meditation of the readings of the day, and certainly not to give personal judgements, especially if they were not in communion with the Pope ... It is certain that priestly ministry in the Catholic Church presupposes communion with the Holy Father [sic all the syntax]".

Being in Communion with the Pope, or (since baptised non-Catholics may be said to be in partial communion) being in full Communion with the Pope is, surely, a juridical category whch implies that one has not been separated from the Communion of the Catholic Church by some formal judgement or by committing a canonical crime which, according to Canon Law, carries with it a sentence of excommunication latae sententiae.

Simply to criticise the Pope (however improperly or unwisely) surely does not incur such a sentence. Or, if it does, which Canon says so? And which Canon says that a cleric so acting incurs suspension either latae or ferendae sententiae?

If criticising the Pope automatically puts one out of communion with Christ's Body the Church, then there must be quite a lot of people who criticised Pope Benedict and who are still wandering around with an invisible but very real excommunication latae sententiae dangling round their necks and clashing at embarrassing moments with their pectoral crosses.

18 April 2017

Canon Brian Brindley ...

... wrote a nice piece on S Mary's Bourne Street ... or, as we called it once, Graham ['Grahm'] Street. My last visiting preachment as an Anglican was to this lovely 'Travers' building; the Marylebone Ordinariate Group, in aeternum floreat, represents in my mind the Faithful Remnant of that great old tradition, with its 'Mascall' connections.

Brindley explained that the key to understanding this Church was that it was intended to look like a Catholic Church which had gently and organically evolved over the centuries. He went on:

" ... in the Church of England, in all circles, low church and moderate as well as high church, the liturgical initiative is seen to lie with the Roman Church, and the Roman Church on the continent of Europe in particular. All the gimmicks which we see accepted without demur in the most official Anglican circles within the Church of England today - evening Mass, 'concelebration', Mass facing the people, 'primitive' vestments - all of them came to us direct from the Roman Church. Even in the matter of liturgy 'understanded of the people', where the Church of England has had a few centuries' start, it must be confessed that it has lagged behind the Romans. Church people who travel on the continent now find a very different external manifestation of Catholic continuity from that which delighted Maurice Child and Ronald Knox in the days before the Great War - tabernacles empty, high altars stripped and deserted, statues removed, votive-stands gone, high mass abandoned, plainsong and polyphony alike cast out in favour of vernacular hymns and trivial melodies; and, everywhere, communion-tables strictly in accordance with Cranmer's rubrics of 1552, in use at Mass. A Belgian or a Spanish visitor, wandering by chance into St Mary's, might be forgiven for thinking that he had strayed into some forgotten land of liturgical conservatism."

Father got some things wrong:
(1) Evening Mass was invented by Evangelicals, probably (has anybody researched this?) as an attempt to subvert Tractarian emphasis on Fasting Communion; and
(2) the 1552 BCP rubrics ordered the priest to stand at the North, or left, side of the Table. Thus he would be sideways-on to the people, who would have a good view of his right ear but would not be required to be confronted by his grinning face ... as the custom is in most Novus Ordo Churches. And

(3) are things quite as bad now?

Thanks to the erudite Dr Cotton for this.

17 April 2017

Fr Thurston again

Fr Altiere has kindly told me that Fr Thurston's book Lent and Holy Week can be read integrally online:


Father adds that Ft T also has an interesting article on the O Antyoiphons and, among other things, a study of the English Coronation Service, probably written at the time of the Coronation of George V.

16 April 2017


A courtier once asked Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini, whether he had noticed the large cross being worn suspended from a necklace by a certain well-endowed marchesa.

The enquiry was a cheeky one because the lady was displaying her emerald cross just above a very plunging neckline.

"Yes", replied the Sovereign Pontiff. "And I've also noticed the hill of Calvary upon which it is set up".

Easter Morning

In medieval England, Mattins on Easter morning, which some modern forms of the Office assure us we can leave unsaid if we have been at the Vigil, was a centrally important corporate part of the life of the community, for which parish magnates were proud to lay out money to provide the resources. The Liturgy, of course, which we call the Vigil, had happened earlier on Holy Saturday; now, early on the Sunday morning before Mattins began, the Host and Crucifix (which on Good Friday had been 'buried' in the 'Easter Sepulchre') were taken in procession, the former to the High Altar, the latter to a side altar. Antiphons were sung; the versicle and response
V The Lord hath risen from the grave
R Who hung for us upon the Cross.
were followed by a collect. Similar services took place in many parts of Europe, some even surviving to our own time. So culturally important was it that Archbishop Cranmer, in his First English Prayer Book, felt obliged to leave a shadow of it still in existence (vide inferius).

Around 1000ish, on Easter morning, the Roman Pontiff entered his Cathedral and opened the silver doors which gave access to the ancient Resurrection Ikon. He kissed the Lord's feet three times and then chanted the same versicle, to which the response was given. He then venerated the Cross, and his household did the same. The Pope then gave the Peace to each of them, with the words
V The Lord hath risen indeed; to which each replied
R And hath appeared unto Simon.

In recent years, a form of this rite, with the same verses (although no longer in V and R form) being used, has been restored as a preliminary to Easter morning Mass at S Peter's. It is now seen as an expression of the tradition that the Lord appeared either first or most significantly (Luke 24:34; I Corinthians 15:5) to S Peter; so that when the Pontiff, in whom Peter lives and witnesses, venerates the ikon, that Meeting is re-enacted.

Back to England, Sarum, and Archbishop Cranmer: when translating the Medieval texts, he replaced the first versicle and response with
V Show forth to all nations the glory of God.
R And among all people his wonderful works.
This strikes me as motivated by a desire to eliminate the idea of a Mystery experienced and presently relived, and its replacement by the scaled-down notion of remembering and proclaiming his past wonders. The poor old gentleman just could not bear the thought that, for the devout common peasantry of England and in objective reality, the Lord in His most August Sacrament had  been in the Sepulchre in the North Wall of the Chancel of their Church.

I don't think Thomas Cranmer and Dom Odo Casels would have found much upon which to agree.

Joseph Ratzinger

Joseph Ratzinger celebrates his ninetieth birthday today.

Blessed John Henry Newman notoriously rejoiced that so few popes had been clever; the purpose of a pope, he insisted, is to be a barrier against innovation.

Benedict XVI, one of God's choicest gifts to His Church in two millennia, was that most rare of things: a very clever pope who courageously set his hand and mind to the dangerous labour of building up the broken places.


15 April 2017

Have you seen it? UPDATED

Not in Cornwall; although in the weeks following Corpus Christi in 1549, the rebels carried it before them until the Tudor regime's genocidal German mercenaries drenched the countryside in blood. Nor in Oxfordshire, where, the same year, Lord Russell ordered the priests to be hanged from their Church towers. Nor will you see it in the North, not since the suppression by Bloody Bess of the the last Catholic insurrection in 1569.

But you can see it, newly made and newly flying in triumph above the Catholic Chaplaincy and its Hall of Residence in Cardiff. Vivat Cambria!

The banner of the Five Wounds, or the Flag of the "Arms of Christ", was the great battle-standard of the Catholic culture of late Medieval England. You can still see these arms carved in the bench ends of many old churches in Cornwall and Devon. I think there is a surviving ancient banner kept in the archives at Arundel. Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, the Cardinal's martyred Mother, had it enbroidered on the back of her shift.

Easter is surely the great celebration of the Five Wounds, when the risen Christ comes hurrying to meet each one of us in our Easter Communion, His outstretched arms and feet marked with the now glorified signs of His love, His open Heart both a fount of Mercy and a safe refuge. At the Day of Judgement the same Lord will bear the same signs, more dazzling than all the suns in Creation, as He comes from the East to call His blessed ones into His Father's Kingdom.

Happily, the old Sarum Votive Mass of the Five Wounds is found in our Ordinariate Missal, with the Paschal Alleluia: "To thee be glory, hosanna: to thee the crown of highest praise and honour. Alleluia"!

UPDATE: those with queries about the Mass of the Five Wounds will find a dozen or so posts by tapping FIVE WOUNDS into the search engine at the top left hand corner of the blog. If you can't find it, you may need to turn off your adblocker. 

13 April 2017

PEDILAVIUM or FOOT WASHING: such a wealth of different meanings

The meaning of this rite, in the intention of the current Sovereign Pontiff, has been changed.

Let me explain.


(1) The sense which the Pedilavium appears (not invariably but) most commonly to have had in the pre-modern period was of humble service done by a superior (Bishop, Abbot) before his own subjects, and in the intimacy of their own close fellowship. Among the feet which Father Abbot washed were those of the young monk whom, perhaps, he had needed yesterday to discipline. His Lordship the Bishop did the same for a presbyter with whom ... forfend the thought! ... he may have had a less than cordial relationship. Perhaps an equivalent would be Papa Bergoglio washing the feet of curial cardinals including those who had disagreed with him or even presented him with unwanted Dubia!  

The Lord did not, as people sometimes carelessly assert, "wash the feet of his disciples", who were many; He washed the feet of a much more limited group, the Twelve. He did not wash the feet of the people who flocked to hear Him teach in the fields or on the Mountain or beside the Lake or in the village square, or even the feet of the Seventy He sent forth or of the women who ministered to Him; when He washed the feet of the Twelve, it was behind the closed doors of an exclusive Meeting arranged in almost 007-style secrecy. And the implication of S Peter's words was that this had not been the Lord's regular custom.

Washing the feet of a person with whom one has no relationship, no daily fellowship whether for better or for worse, empties the rite of this, historically (I think) its first, meaning. Unless a different meaning is devised, it becomes an empty, formalistic, ritual.

(2) A second meaning of some historic pedilavium ceremonies has been both the humility and the generosity of the great and the grand towards their social inferiors. Holy Condescension. This is the meaning which the rite had when it was used by sovereigns and by some up-market bishops. Food, clothing, money would often be distributed. In the twentieth century, British monarchs restored the rite in this sense, but did not revive the actual footwashing. Specially minted pieces of archaic coinage are distributed. True, the Lord High Almoner still girds himself with a towel, but that is only because this is the sort of thing which the English, a strange race, deem to be 'tradition'.

Meanings (1) and (2) both rest upon presuppositions of status and hierarchy. These are concepts now rather out of vogue. Perhaps that is why the Holy Father has dreamed up a new and completely different understanding of the rite ... inculturating it, so to speak, into post-modernity.

(3) This different and new meaning which Papa Bergoglio now wishes to attach to the rite is the boundless love and Mercy of God to all, and not least to those on the peripheries of Society. This removes any overlaps with meanings (1) and (2) (and it is very far from what the closed and exclusive intimacy of the Last Supper suggests that the Lord had in mind). But, as long as we all understand that this new meaning has nothing whatsoever to do with S John's Last Supper narrative or the Church's ancient liturgical tradition, it seems to me a perfectly reasonable Acted Parable for an innovative liturgist to dream up. No harm in a bit of imagination!!

The Pedilavium as part of the Mass of the Last Supper is, in historical terms, a very recent and completely optional importation into the Liturgy of a ceremony which (where it was done at all) used to be extra-liturgical and took varying forms. Accordingly, I cannot see why any Roman Pontiff, or, for that matter, any junior curate, should not be entitled to juggle around with it, and to give it whatever new meaning or meanings he chooses to suit his own specific social context.

Whether Maundy Thursday, a congested Day on which liturgically quite a lot already happens, is the most apt time for such performances, I very much doubt. Here, I have a constructive suggestion to make: see, below, in my purple paragraph.

                                                    A RIGID RESTRICTION?

What puzzles me is not that Pope Francis has opted for meaning (3). This is very much in character. What I do find so incomprehensibly strange is the new restriction he has has himself placed on those whose feet are washed, i.e. his demand that they must be Christians. [As he wrote to Cardinal Sarah: "I have reached the decision ... I order that ... from among all the members of the People of God".] This was not previously the rule. Francis has in the past, for example, according to reports, himself washed Moslem feet.  And the new restriction seems to me to go directly against the Pope's declared preferred meaning (3). There seems to be something of a self-contradiction here ... perhaps making it emblematic of this pontificate!

Wouldn't it be more congruous for those symbolically served in this way to represent the entire Human Community without restricting the rite to the Baptised, indeed, without any restrictions? Should it not be open to persons of all religions and none? Dr Dawkins and the Dalai Llama? And Mass-murderers? Rapists and Paedophiles? Victims of ecclesiastical malevolent prejudice such as the Franciscans of the Immaculate? ISIS Suicide Bombers, Neo-Pelagian butterflies, and even Journalists? The Ku Klux Klan and the Cosa nostraQuot homines tot peripheriae.

                                                   A MODEST PROPOSAL

Perhaps, indeed, Papa Bergoglio's new rite could be adopted in exchange for a custom, invented, I believe, by the late Herr Hitler and now rather boringly out of date: hugging babies with 'celebrity' ostentation. This has had its day: we need a substitute. And the Sovereign Pontiff has opportunely hit upon the makings of one. How might his intuitions be worked up and given a formal shape? What about this:

While being driven round and round the Piazza di San Pietro, the Pope could suddenly leap sylph-like from his popemobile. His security guards would then drag out of the cheering crowd the selected individual and liberate her from her shoes and tights. The ever-faithful, ever-efficient Guido 'Jeeves' Marini would appear ex nihilo, magically, imperturbably, at his Master's side with basin, water and towel. The People's Pontiff could then take it from there.

This would have a wealth of meaning, a real profundity. It would, for example, remind the impenitent that the Eschaton, the Day of Wrath and Doom Impending, could happen unexpectedly, at any moment.

Trade would boom for Roman pedicurists.

11 April 2017

Father Zed, Eamon Duffy, and the Jesuits

Fr Zed, archiblogopoios, has, this morning, at the head of his blog, very jolly pictures of Pope Clement XIV ... including a medal presumably struck under that Pontiff . On the reverse, it shows our Lord dismissing the Jesuits with the words Nunquam novi vos: discedite a me omnes. But I can't read what it says in the exergue. Can anybody help? Father changes his heading every day, so you may need to be quick.

Eamon Duffy's splendid new book of essays has a sparkling piece on the internecine war in the English Recusant community between the secular clergy and Jesuits (they seem to have hated each other distinctly more than they hated the common enemy, the Protestants). Apparently, the seculars referred to the Jesuits as "the Walkers".

Presumably an insulting term ... but what does it actually mean? Could it have been the usage of the Catholic Squirearchy, who may have preferred to have a nice comfortable amenable resident Chaplain, while the J's tended to move around being spectacular and leaving other people to clear up after them?

I am happy to be sent witty explanations, but I would also like to know the real reason!

A Triduum hermeneutic

I here repeat, together with its very interesting thread, a post from 2009. My views have now changed to the extent that I now more strongly favour the pre-Pius XII rites wherever it is unproblematic to do them. But I think this piece ... and the associated thread ... raise and discuss some very important topics, especially given the Benedict XVI principle that what has been sacred cannot just be abolished.

It is not surprising that the Spirit of Bugnini struck, proleptically, when Pius XII published the first revision of the Holy Week Rites. They were an easy target; very few laypeople attended them and they were celebrated at hours which did not respect the Authenticity of Time, the veritatem horae. Even those who did attend them only did so, of course, once a year. They naturally had much less of a constituency which felt an investment in them, than the daily liturgy did. So they became the first big example of radical revision which ignored the concept of organic development; the first victims of whatever the Germanic compound for Committeeliturgy would be.

Moreover, it happened a very long time ago. There are lots of clergy and laypeople who remember the Mass of the 1962 Missal; I was myself was part of the very last generation trained at seminary to say the Tridentine Mass and I am, just about, in full time ministry still. So there are continuities, and not least because, since the Heenan indult, there have always been tridentine celebrants. But any priest who remembers doing the pre-Pius XII Holy Week rites must be eighty or older. For most of us, standing outside the church hoping the fire will 'take' and wielding our stylus to incise some marks on the candle before processing it inside the building, sprinkling the people after they have renewed their baptismal vows, and all the rest of it, constitute our oldest memories of the Great Vigil.

I think the reforms contained a substantial gain. I gather that Abp Lefebvre also thought so; I believe one of the origins of the SSPV lay in his unwillingness to sanction the older rites. And it must be better to have a goodly number attending somewhat mangled rites than practically nobody taking part in pure pristine rites. A hermeneutic of continuity implies now the organic development of the Pian rites; a return to the pre-Pian rites would be that very archaeologism which (with Pius XII) we rightly condemn when it is used to foster formulae questionably derived from Hippolytus.

But those who most favour the revised usages are ill placed to argue that a status quo is totally immutable. And it remains true that changing the Holy Week Rites is less disruptive than altering what happens weekly and daily in the life of Christians (sauce for goose, ditto for gander). You can't do Holy Week on autopilot; you have to fish out your last-year's notes of where to leave the props and how to rehearse the servers.

So what should we be doing? For starters, I think we priests should try to find time, during our retreat if not in the hustle and bustle of Holy Week itself, to read each year the rites in the older books; and thus at least to understand more adequately (and perhaps to preach more profoundly upon) the meaning of these ancient Mysteries of our Redemption.

10 April 2017

The Chrism Mass UPDATED

UPDATE: Bishop Robert did brilliantly! You'd have thought he was an Anglican!!! The whole event was joyfully triumphal and triumphalist, evoking thoughts of our old triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism with its relishing of the spectacle, the music, the versus Orientem ... memories perhaps, too, for some of us, of the old Chrism Masses in the diocese of Chichester in Bishop Eric's days when we used, as we did today, the processional hymn Lift High the Cross ... and a fine sermon from Mgr Keith, starting from the Olive and reminding us of the need to be distinctive when we have so many riches we can put on display ... was this the first time Bishop Robert has used liturgically Dr Cranmer's fine prayer We do not presume ...?

And good to meet old friends, including m'learned friend Dr James Bradley, now back with his triumphant Doctorate in Canon Law from America (Ad multos annos ...). His thesis was directly related to the Ordinariates, so he will be a great source of strength to us. For the time being, Dr Egan has given him a cura animarum in the Diocese of Portsmouth.

QUAERITUR: When a priest has charge of a Ordinariate Group and a Diocesan Parish, should he be keeping two lots of the oils for separate use with his two congregations?????

SEQUITUR the original post.

Like many jurisdictions, the Ordinariate has its Chrism Mass earlier in Holy Week than Maundy Thursday: so, today, off to London.

Since our foundation, because our Ordinary did not receive episcopal Consecration in full communion with the See of S Peter, we have needed, so to speak, to 'buy in' a bishop for such events. (It is rumoured that there were members of the CBCEW who were surprised that we intended to do something as 'divisive' as having a Chrism Mass of our own ... I will make no comment ...) And, until now our choice has been Tony Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio who was recently transferred back to the Curia. What a man ... older readers will remember the courageous role he played in the events which followed the kidnapping of Aldo Moro. The relationship he built up with us meant that the applause he received was every bit as sincere as it sounded. And he was a link with our beloved Founder, Pope Benedict.

That the Papal Nuncio should celebrate our Chrism Mass was theologically appropriate, since the Ordinariate is subject, not to any canonical structures in this country however eminent, but (via the CDF) to the Roman Pontiff himself. It was also personally appropriate because of the Benedict Connexion. (We were a bit puzzled when it came out in 2013 that the 'new' pope had reportedly made negative remarks about the Ordinariate scheme over breakfast with an Anglican Evangelical Archbishop, but we soon cottoned on to the fact that he tends to say to people other than Curia members and Traddy clergy what he thinks they will like to hear: and so then we became much less upset.)

But who could take Archbishop Mennini's place? Happily, Bishop Robert Byrne, of the Congregation of the Oratory, has agreed to do so. I call this 'happy' because Bishop Byrne (a Birmingham auxiliary) served as the Catholic Observer at the Church of England's General Synod ... which gives him interesting 'form' ...  but mostly because of the obvious affinity in terms of liturgical culture, spirituality, and style between the Sons of S Philip and the Ordinariates. Blessed John Henry, pray for us all!

And I am taking with me chasuble, maniple, and stole. Because ... but no: my views on Concelebration are already expressed in detail on this blog (see the search engine ... if you can't find it, I am told you may need to turn off your adblocker). Suffice it to say that I stand within the Second Millennium ethos of the Latin Church and willingly concelebrate at major episcopal, sacramental events such as Chrism Masses. I shall not enable comments which rebuke me for doing this without having read my series on the subject and without being aware of the teaching of Innocent III, Benedict XIV, S Thomas Aquinas, etc. etc.. So there!

9 April 2017


... is the title of a collection of papers newly off the press ... in this case, the Angelico press. The papers were read at last year's Roman Forum conference at Gardone Riviera on Lake Garda.

I think I may have contributed one of the papers, so please ... I beg of you ... I would, wouldn't I? ... buy this humble inexpensive little volume and read it.

Which reminds me ... I do hope friends and readers are signed up to the 2017 Gardone Conference.

Fr Thurston on Palm Sunday

If you ever get the opportunity of buying some of the old CTS pamphlets which Fr Thurston wrote to explain the rites of Holy Week, grab it.

Here, for a taster, is a passage from his Palm Sunday Pamphlet.

"[W]e have retained a vestige of the solemn entry into the city or cathedral in the halt still made by the sacred ministers in front of the closed church door. Of old, as the procession came back to the town - that is in their symbolistic conception of the scene, as our Saviour drew nigh to the walls of Jerusalem - high up among the battlements over the city gate, or over the cathedral porch, a group of choristers would be looking out ready to greet His approach. The procession comes to a standstill, and there above their heads the fresh young voices of the choir-boys ring out through the still morning air, chanting the words:

Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit, Rex, Christe Redemptor,
Cui puerile decus prompsit Hosanna pium. "

8 April 2017

The Cleansing of the Temple and the Sacrifice of the Mass

UPDATE The Neusner reference I give below is from a periodical called New Testament Studies that comes out several times a year. You could embark upon Neusner by reading the extensive extracts in Joseph Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth and following up the Bibliography reference Ratzinger gives.

Ratzinger and Neusner are close friends and Neusner often defended Ratzinger on the occasions when the wolf-pack attacked him.

The central purpose of the Mass ... even before the 'Supper' aspect ... is sacrifice. Do you feel any little doubts lurking on the outskirts of your mind about this proposition?

Doubt 1: Why did S Paul call the Eucharist the Lord's Supper (kyriakon deipnon)?
But deipnon, Supper, is, surprisingly to us, sacrificial language. In the Greco-Roman world, sacrifice was a communal activity. After the animal was killed and the prescribed portions sacrificially burned, the rest was cooked and eaten by the worshippers in a supper which was not just a sequel but was an integral part of the sacrificial ritual (what the Jews called a Communion Sacrifice). Many such invitations have come to light in the rubbish dumps of ancient Egypt, preserved by the dryness of the desert sand. A typical example is 'An invitation to you from Nilos to have deipnon in the dining room of the Kyrios Serapis in the Serapeum' (POxy 2592; late first century). That is why so many excavated temple complexes have dining rooms and extensive kitchen areas attached to them; although sometimes the sacrificial banquet happened, like Christian Eucharist, in a private home (when this happened, the phrase in the papyri is en tei idiai oikiai). And it is one reason why S Paul is so concerned about his Corinthian converts partaking "in the tables of demons". To do so is to share in the pagan sacrifice. Look at I Cor 10:14-22 and note the parallelism the Saint draws between pagan sacificial banquets and the sacrificial banquet which is the Eucharist. Kyriakon deipnon certainly did not, as liberals like to assume, mean some informal sort of matey event ("an expression of fellowship") or a plate in front of the television during Channel Four News.

Doubt 2: Did Jesus really have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and its sacrificial theology in mind when he sat at table with his disciples hours before his death?
Jacob Neusner powerfully argues that he did ... [New Testament Studies 1989 pp287-290]
Jacob Neusner? Who's he? He's a very distinguished and learned rabbi and academic expert on first century Judaism and Christian origins.
Oh yes? So why didn't I hear about him when I was doing New Testament Studies? Because his researches often give strong support to the Catholic and Orthodox Faith from an academic, non-Christian, Jewish standpoint. Your mentors, careful men, naturally wanted to spare you such explosive material, and anyway they were far too busy teaching you about the Synoptic Problem, the Historical Jesus, the non-physical nature of the Resurrection, and the inauthenticity of most of S Paul's letters.
But you can't expect me to take seriously what a Jewish scholar thinks about Jesus.
I don't see why not. Pope Benedict did. In the first volume of his Jesus of Nazareth, the entire section on the Sermon on the Mount was indebted to an analysis by Neusner. And Neusner, in another brilliantly argued piece, shows that the reason why our Lord 'cleansed' the Temple on the first Palm Sunday was to denote the termination of the Jewish sacrificial system (particularly the offering of the tamid lamb, morning and evening, for the People; their Temple taxes, paid in Temple shekels acquired from the money-changers, went to provide the lambs) because he purposed, on Maundy Thursday, to replace it with his own sacrifice of the Eucharist: Table in place of Table, Sacrifice in place of Sacrifice.

If it's good enough for Neusner it's good enough for me.

6 April 2017

S John Paul's legacy is under threat, but it is safe in the Ordinariates

That marvellous Roman document of 2001, Liturgiam authenticam, is currently reported to be under threat by the wolves who are becoming ever more unrestrained as they circle hungrily round the reinstatements of Tradition which blessed the end of the Pontificate of S John Paul II and that of Benedict XVI.

I rather think that it is arrant hypocrisy to canonise a Saint and, not more than a decade and a half later, to strive contemptuously to dismantle his legacy.

Although LA subverted the assumptions of Comme le prevoit, and thus of the style of vernacular Liturgy created in the 1970s, it was very soundly based on the very sound work done by an earlier generation of immensely erudite scholars; men and women the destruction of whose scholarship is one of the disgraces of the Rupture Years.

Prominent among these was the great student of liturgical Latin Christine Mohrmann. She expressed the hope that modern European vernaculars might develop sacral, liturgical dialects. So LA talked about "the gradual creation in every vulgar tongue of a sacred style, to be recognised as the correct way of talking liturgically (sermo proprie liturgicus; para 27)" and the production of a "sacred vernacular language the vocabulary, syntax, and grammar of which are to be proper to divine worship" (para 47).

Patrimonial readers, of course, will reflect that the liturgical tradition initiated by Dr Cranmer's Prayer Books had provided just such a vernacular sacred dialect. A couple of years ago, the Ordinariate Missal came on stream, so that Cranmer's hieratic English - although not his heterodox theology - is now a liturgical usage in good standing within the liturgical community of the Roman Catholic Church. I wonder what Professor Mohrmann would have thought of it ... I like to imagine her warmly approving.

Cranmer had a characteristic habit of expanding, padding out, just by a few syllables, his Latin originals. The original Roman prayers were so spare, terse, and elegant that - to put it bluntly - a literal English version might be over before the congregation had started attending to what it said. This can be illustrated by the collect for the Second Sunday in Lent in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite ... and in Ordinariate Use. Bold italic type indicates Cranmer's supplementing of the Latin Original.

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourseves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul (Latin: in mente).

This superb old collect, from the Sacramentary sent by Pope Hadrian I to Charlemagne, does not feature at all among the Lenten Sunday collects in the modern Roman Rite ... which eliminates all five of the old Sunday collects before Palm Sunday and replaces three of them with new compositions (two of these 'worked up' from some phrases found in the Mozarabic Rite). The Anglican Common Worship also eliminates them. Silly Tweedle Dum is so often to be found panting along just behind silly Tweedle Dee.

The old collects were just too simple, profound, austere; too imbued with that wonderfully dignified Romanita which formed Western European culture for nearly two millennia ... for blinkered modern liturgical committee-men, both Anglican and Roman, to be able to tolerate them.

5 April 2017


                                  LATINIST AND LITURGIST
                                              Born 1861
                                       Died 5 April 1941

Agnes nata Dickson, herself the daughter of a priest, married in 1895 Fr H. W. G. Kenrick. It is he who was responsible for the first printed edition of the English Missal in 1912. This work soon became the almost universal Altar Book within Anglo-Catholicism, containing, dovetailed into the Prayer Book liturgical texts, the entire Roman Missal translated into English. Bishops banned it. Consistory courts ordered its removal from churches. It was for more than half a century at the centre of the religious life of countless priests and layfolk. There must be thousands of copies now covered with cobwebs in sacristy cupboards all over England. May God forgive us the cobwebs.

This liturgical masterpiece is a lineal ancestor of the Ordinariate Altar Missal.

The vast work of translation was largely carried out by Fr Kenrick's wife Agnes, who was a very fine Latinist and an accomplished English stylist. Any who criticise her learning or craftsmaship need to be able clearly to display their own superiority! And they should tread lightly on the memory of all those priests whom, though her labours, Agnes Kenrick accompanied each morning to the Altar.

This liturgical production by a 'clergy daughter' who became a 'clergy wife', a 'presbytera', is one little example of the deep and rich culture of the 'Vicarage Family' which is such a central part of our 'Anglican Patrimony'. Mrs Kenrick is also a reminder of the Learned Lady, a phenomenon which did not delay its appearance until the invention of feminist ideological dogmas.

This is a Patrimony, and that is a culture, which God calls upon us in the Ordinariate to preserve.

                                CUIUS ANIMAE PROPITIETUR DEUS.

4 April 2017

Taking the long view

I don't know whether I agree with Trump or Obama about Climate Change ... perhaps a rough description of my feelings would be "I'm not competent to judge disputes in the Natural Sciences, but since most of those who are, take the Obama view, I suppose it's probably safest to assume that there might be something in it rather to leave a future generation to regret that we missed an opportunity". Similarly in the question of whether to praise or criticise Laudato si.

It's really a matter of age. One sees fashions come and go. Did I say 'Fashions'? I meant 'Certainties'.

When I was a small boy, they built a nuclear power station near the part of Essex where I grew up and was educated. (It was at Bradwell on Sea, on a desolate skylark-ridden part of the Essex marshes, not far from the ruins of a Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort called Othona, where S Cedd built within his monastic episcopium one of the oldest churches in England.)

I remember our Physics master talking to us in a self-important way (much use of the pronoun 'we') which seemed to imply that he was himself personally responsible for the anatomy and the properties of the atom. He solemnly assured us that, once this power station had paid off the initial costs of its construction, it would supply  free energy for ever.

Tiny that I was, I thought something like "If a man is stupid enough to believe that, he will be stupid enough to believe anything". Although the School had rules designed to ensure that each of us made a 'balanced' selection of academic options, I took steps to ensure that I got out of this daft, sci-fy fantasy subject as soon as I could. This included getting 3% in the next Physics examination, neatly matching the 97% I had got the previous term. Believe me, achieving such delicate and satisfying patterning is not easy, although I say it myself.

Yes, I was as nasty and opinionated as a schoolboy as I am now that I have become a wrinkly.

Now we have just been told that the hideous costs of decommissioning and rendering safe that generation of nuclear power stations will be far, unbelievably far, beyond all the other combined disastrous costs mounting up from all the many other bungled governmental decisions of the past.

Part of the problem is, apparently, that the wise infallibilists who designed and ran these poisonous institutions did not even bother to make records of how and where they stored their 'used rods', or whatever the silly phrase is.

3 April 2017

The Ordinariate Missal throughout all ages world without end.

In the Byzantine Rite, prayers often end eis tous aionas ton aionon (unto the ages of ages); and in the Roman Rite, per omnia saecula saeculorum (through all the ages of ages), although in saecula is not unknown. The Ordinariate Missal, basing itself on the the Anglican Prayer Book dialect, renders this by World without end.

I imagine the Hebrew le'olam 'lamim lies behind this. The English phrase goes back in Middle English well behind Cranmer ... I wonder if it occurs in the Primers? I have found it in the translation of the Canon made for polemic purposes by the appalling Miles Coverdale, chaplain to the largely mercenary foreign army which slaughtered the Catholic peasantry of Cornwall in 1549.

In one particular place ... at the end of the Canon of the Mass ... the Ordinariate Missal, following the Anglo-Catholic liturgical books, translates it more amply as Throughout all ages world without end. This is because world without end doesn't have enough syllables to sustain the chant (in the Latin Missals) of per omnia saecula saeculorum. The Authorised Version thus translated eis pasas tas geneas tou aionos ton aionon; amen at Ephesians 3:21. Thomas Winger's admirable and immensely rich new Lutheran Commentary on Ephesians comments "This particular combination of words is unique among biblical doxologies, but combines features found elsewhere". He describes ages of ages as, first a semitic qualitative genitive and secondly a superlative genitive; in which he sees eschatological references (vide Ephesians 1:21 and 2:2).

Winger goes on to discuss the English phrases, pointing out that world  held the archaic meaning of age. "As world lost this meaning, it was feared that the phrase might be misunderstood as implying the eternality of the earth, of fallen creation. Modern hymnals adopted the insipid translation forever and ever, which, unfortunately, lost the reference to the Messianic age", the new Age inauguated by Christ.

Nice to know that the best of the more traditional Lutheran Bibilical scholarship (which is what Winger gives us) can affirm the importance of avoiding the insipidities of modern translators, and emphasise the rich depths and layers of meaning in 'archaic' renderings! This is a point affirmed by the profound and important Roman document Liturgiam authenticam.

Which, according to current rumours, the seedy little men who try to achieve their ends by influencing our Holy Father hope to be able to dismantle.

2 April 2017

I am very moved ...

 ... by the numbers of people who have wished Pam and me well. Thank you very much.

(For classicists) Pange lingua ...

... gloriosi; and how glorious Venantius' hymn is. And how admirable that Dom Lentini's boys gave us back, in the Liturgia Horarum, something approaching the authentic text. The nominative (or accusative) absolute in Lustra sex ... peracta even survives: cleverly promoted to the licit status of a praedicativum obiecti!

But I am a bit disappointed by the survival of the old emendation ferre saecli pretium. The original is ferre pretium saeculi*, which was the text offered in the first draft Hymni instaurandi Breviarii Romani of Coetus VII. Here pretium is to be pronounced pretzum. This is to be expected in Late Latin: texts survive in which negotiator is spelt, by someone writing his Latin phonetically in the Greek alphabet, as nagouzatro; we even find gaudioso written as gauzioso. Saecli, of course, is a perfectly acceptable syncope for saeculi; but why replace the words of Venantius? Is it not part of the joy of saying one's office in Latin that linguistic markers survive from all the different centuries through which the Latin liturgy has made its august way? A permanent monument to the Hermeneutic of Continuity?
*The same problem arises in the Vexilla regis. The problem of course is that, in chant, if one pronounces pretium as having three syllables, the line is one syllable too long for the rhythm. The Coetus got round this in their first draft by printing preti in italics.

1 April 2017

Tot anni, tanta gaudia!

How time does fly by.

We're down with the children, children-in-law, and grandchildren today, graciously helping them to celebrate our Golden Wedding.

What an astute move it was on my part, all those decades ago, to nab the cleverest and prettiest girl in Oxford!

The wedding was at 12.05, so that nobody could suspect it was an April Fools joke!

The Grand Mufti of Egypt ...

IN CASE somebody reads this post in the future without noticing the date, I am appending this note making clear that this is an example of the April Fools' Day genre. 

But, in fact, this spoof is within syllables of being historically accurate. I have transferred to the same day my discussion of the thoroughly disgraceful attack by the English and Welsh bishops on the Prayer for the Jews in the EF Liturgy for Good Friday ... see beneath.

The Grand Mufti of Egypt is entitled to his opinions. His recent criticism of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is something (I am not an reasonable man) I can thoroughly understand, although I do wonder who has put him up to it (one does not expect Grand Muftis to have Liturgical Consultants!). But, that being said, I can fully understand how all that exuberant stuff in the EF Easter Vigil about the drowning of Egyptians in the Red Sea, and particularly the rather tactless glorying in their demise, must sound to Egyptians. "And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore, and Israel saw that great work which the LORD did ... We will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously ...". Haec nox est, indeed!

Somebody, however should gently point out to His Excellency's advisers that the same texts do also appear in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and in non-Catholic Liturgies (I won't  mention Judaism, because if one does that all hell is let loose!). There is something just slightly peculiar in picking out the Extraordinary Form for special attack.

But, on the whole, I make no criticism of the Grand Mufti. Our real enemies are very much closer to home.

What strikes me as totally bizarre ... I nearly wrote 'manic' ... about the whole business is the prompt statement by a "spokesperson" for the CBCEW agreeing with the Grand Mufti and demanding that the Ecclesia Dei people should "review" these "offensive" texts. One does not expect literacy, still less liturgical competence, of CBCEW spokespersons; but they, of all people, ought to be aware that their beloved Ordinary Form Easter Vigil contains texts every bit as offensive to Egyptian ears as anything in the Extraordinary Form. All the more so since they're in the vernacular! Do these overpaid bureaucrats never go near a Church themselves? Even at Easter?

And those OF texts are used in thousands of Catholic Churches; while there can hardly be half a dozen Churches in England which use the EF Easter Vigil texts. Why the fuss about the few and the tolerance of the many?

There is something very strange going on here. I hope Ecclesia Dei give a short sharp answer.

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales UPDATE

"The Bishops' Conference requests that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei review the prayer Pro Conversione Iudaeorum in the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in the light of the understanding in Nostra Aetate of the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism".

There appears to be no indication whether this resolution, passed last week by the English and Welsh Bishops, was unanimous; or how detailed and profound their discussion had been.

It expresses a suggestio falsi which is within a nanometre of being a Great Big Lie. Any normal reader not versed in liturgical minutiae would assume that the bishops were calling for an EF text dating from centuries before the Second Vatican Council to be brought into line with the subsequent teaching of that Council. Dishonestly, dishonourably, disgracefully, these bishops conceal the fact that the Prayer in the EF was composed four decades after the Council by somebody who, unlike any of these episcopal tricksters, was actually part of the Council: Pope Benedict XVI. There is also the bizarre, arrogant assumption in this passage that the bishops know exactly what Nostra aetate says and means, but that the writer of the Prayer, Benedict XVI, never quite got round to reading Nostra aetate.

Assuming that the bishops did not all wake up one morning with one identical thought in every head, it would be interesting to know where this concern originated; particularly, whether with one of the bishops or in some Liturgy Committee or other pressure group. Such open information is always available with regard to the deliberations of the American Episcopal Conference.

I find it extraordinary that whoever originated this move is unaware that the current (as from 2008) form of that Prayer comes directly from the pen of Benedict XVI himself, who was at the Council as a peritus and, it has always seemed to me, gives the impression of knowing some of the Conciliar documents really quite well. And, while aware that a lot of people viscerally loath Joseph Ratzinger, I have always found his writings, both as a theologian, and as Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, and as Successor of S Peter, cogent, convincing, and illuminating. I would like to be helped to understand where it is that I have gone wrong in this judgement.

Is this part of an attempt to get rolling a movement for dismantling the Magisterium (and dishonouring the memory) of Benedict XVI; and for derailing the current rather promising rapprochement, under the direction of Pope Francis, between the Vatican and the SSPX?

What I would like to have, as a concerned Catholic Priest who tries to understand the Church's Magisterium, is a lucid and unwoffly statement of what exactly it is in the Prayer which contradicts which precise affirmations of Nostra Aetate, a document to which, of course, I subscribe. Since the Prayer as composed by Benedict XVI in 2008 carefully follows, even verbally, the teaching of S Paul* (an author whom I spent three decades teaching), I would also be very interested to know what it is in S Paul's teaching that is deemed to fall under the condemnation of Nostra Aetate.

* Romans 11:25-26; this pericope has not yet been censored from the Novus Ordo Lectionary. 
The BC has now published a Note (see the thread) which does considerable discredit to whoever drafted it. He or she, indeed, appears to be unaware that the Prayer concerned was written by the Sovereign Pontiff himself ... or else wishes the fact not to be known. The Note gives no information about what it is in the text composed by Pope Benedict that contradicts Nostra aetate. It claims that "the Prayer produced in 2008 reverted to being a prayer for the conversion of Jews to Christianity", but fails to indicate which phrases in the text of the Prayer it deems objectionable. Whoever drafted it is clearly someone who believes, at all costs, in avoiding honest, or precise, dialogue.

At one point only does it come clean. "The Bishops of England and Wales have now added their voice to that of the German Bishops who have asked for the Prayer in the Extraordinary Form to be changed". 

So now we know what is going on. Kasper's belated revenge on Ratzinger, now that he can't answer back. 

Not in my name.