30 June 2017

Cats, skinning of, different ways of.

UPDATE: On 22 November 2016, and then again on 21 January 2017, I published the post I repeat below. 

Again and again, Cardinal Mueller has been the victim of criticism in some Traddy circles. This, in my view, is totally unjustified. His stance on Amoris laetitia is perfectly rational and it doesn't need me to guarantee its perfect orthodoxy. His is one way to skin a cat. The other skinning method is that of the Four Cardinals; to seek a clarification which will put its orthodoxy beyond the doubt which they judge some prelates and some hierarchies have created. Each Feline Modality is directly aimed at the affirmation of the same orthodoxy. Whether as a matter of fact there is 'doubt' about what AL teaches, is for individuals to assess. And an  assessment might change, obviously. If enough prelates and hierarchies were to claim that AL affirms their own personal unorthodoxy, then it is obvious that Cardinal Mueller's present judgement, that AL does not require any resolution of doubts, might need reconsideration. If, on the other hand, the Conferences and bishops of the world conclamantly and unambiguously assert the Mueller view, then I imagine the Four Cardinals might wonder whether they need spend their time composing Fraternal Corrections.

What is important is that the cat gets skinned. Not whether journalists can get some good copy about Rifts in the Vatican.

Soon after Amoris laetitia was published, Cardinal Mueller, addressing seminarians, explained that nothing has changed; that the teaching of Familiaris consortio and Sacramentum caritatis is still fully in place. He concluded his assertion with the cheeful "it's-obvious-isn't-it" observation that, if a Roman Pontiff wanted to change such important teaching, he would so explicitly and with full explanations.

The widespread opinion of others, which seems to me plausible, is that Bergoglio in fact is trying to create ambiguity and confusion and grey areas so that, in the fulness of time, heterodox conclusions will emerge from the mess ... while he, Bergoglio, will be immune to any accusation of teaching explicit heresy. OK; if that's right, do you really expect Mueller to say it? Do you in effect expect the Muellers of this world to resign noisily and thus vacate areas of power for dodgy Bergoglians to be put into? Do you think Bergoglio is happy with Mueller? Why do you suppose he sent von Schoenborn, instead of Mueller, to do the Amoris laetitia News Conference? UPDATE: Why do you think he has proclaimed the Graf von Schoenborn as the Official Interpreter of AL? Why do you think he personally weeded out some good men from the CDF and shouted at them down the phone?

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia is another very skilled skinner of cats. He worked hard and fast and got his diocesan guidelines out. No grass grew under his feet or those of his cats. Kevin "Bergoglio-is-the-voice-of-the-Holy-Spirit" Farrell then criticised Chaput and yet again dragged the Holy Spirit into his expression of his own divisively factional opinions*. Chaput neatly replied that Farrell had not in fact been a witness of the first synod and had clearly not read the Philadelphia regulations. He then very defly dealt with the idea that Episcopal Conferences should get themselves behind Amoris laetitia, by pointing out that diocesan bishops, not conferences, were responsible for their dioceses ... and that each bishop individually really loves the Holy Father simply to bits! This man is no fool and no coward. The first American pope? The first pope with genuinely Native American blood?

I, personally, rejoice in the initative of the Four. I suspect that other prelates may have whispered in Pope Francis' ear that they agree with the Four; but out of affection and loyalty were not yet saying so publicly. Why else do you think Bergoglio cancelled the talking-shop before the Consistory? Perhaps he, unlike the amnesiac Kev, remembers that there were some quite amusingly noisy and uncontrolled outbreaks of Parrhesia during the synods.

And according to the commentators, it rather looks as though, in the pleasant anonymity of their polling booths, the American bishops were contentedly unwilling to vote in any great numbers for Bergoglio's cronies and favourites.

MiaOW! Or, to approach the question from quite a different angle, MiaOW!

UPDATE: so I will not be terribly surprised if today's rumours are true. I would, however, point out that one of the pieces of evidence adduced (that his Eminence had an audience of the Roman Pontiff on Friday) proves rather little, in view of the fact that Friday is the regular day for the Prefect of the CDF to be received in audience.

*"Each bishop in his diocese has to set certain rules and parameters, but at the same time, I think that they need to be open to listening to the Holy Spirit ..."  Ah, the naive, the child-like arrogance of this so-transparent individual!

Media -watchers ...

 ... has anybody noticed whether our Holy Father, as he did last year, cancelled the customary papal meeting with the Cardinals, at which their Eminences, both the newly created  and the long-timers, have customarily enjoyed Parrhesia with the Roman Pontiff?

I can't see it on the bollettino

Incidentally, the bollettino, not once but twice, refers to the berretta. Brits will remember the affection which the late Commander James Bond, R.N., had for this particular adornment.

28 June 2017

Whom to celebrate on June 28 ???????

Today, in the Roman Rite, is traditionally the Vigil of the Solemnity of SS Peter and Paul.

Before the changes initiated under Pius XII began, S Irenaeus had been put onto this day. So, in the admirable ORDO published by the Saint Lawrence Press (giving the Roman Rite as it was circa 1939), Mass today is of that Saint, with commemorations of two octaves and of the Vigil. Or ad libitum, it is of the Vigil, with commemorations of the Saint and of the octaves.

In 1962, S Irenaeus was moved to July 3 so as to unclutter the observance of the Vigil (octaves had by now been abolished).

Less than a decade after this, the Novus Ordo Calendar put S Irenaeus back onto today.

Summary: (1) Today is the real festival of S Irenaeus (as well as the Vigil of the Apostles). He spent less than a decade (1962-1970) in exile on July 3. As it happens, the Novus Calendar agrees with the pre-Pius XII Calendar. What the 1962 calendar provides is both 'untraditional' AND out of sync with what the Novus part of the Roman Rite does. This is a matter of everybody in the regiment except my 1962 Johnny being out of step.
(2) Would it really be an act of base treachery to Tradition to correct the 1962 Calendar, at least in those places where the pre1962 Calendar and the Novus Calendar are in agreement with each other against 1962?
(3) The Roman Rite, like the Byzantine Rite, should be more welcoming to the custom of observing two commemorations on the same day. As it was before the 1960s.
(4) As happened before Pius XII and Bugnini, there should be more ad libitum in the 1962 missal.
(5) Would it be the ultimate crime to allow the use of Last Gospels of commemorated Sundays and Vigils, as used to happen before Pius XII let Mgr Bugnini loose on the Roman Rite?

But there is yet another Saint with a claim upon today!! We will consider him tomorrow, in connexion with the Apotles SS Peter and Paul.

27 June 2017

Mixed Metaphors and Intimidation

We all, I imagine, have our own networks of information; and a fair bit of the 'information' which has come my way over the last two or three of years has related to who is currently being persecuted by whom. Sometimes the intimidation is direct; sometimes it comes in the form of ueberpraelat X 'suggesting' to unterpraelat Y that Y should have a word with Z.

What intrigues me is this. The instances of intolerance that I hear all imply the dumping of the ton of bricks by a Bergoglian on a Wojtilan or Ratzingerian. Perhaps that merely says something about the sort of people I consort with. OK. Fair enough. Perhaps I should try to get out more.

But ... are there, in parallel, similar instances of intolerant intimidation currently being unloaded by Wojtilans and Ratzingerians upon Bergoglians?

Or do the Noxious Substances fly float or flow only in one direction?

I apologise if I have mixed my metaphors. I once worked under a head master who mixed his metaphors incessantly. It became a daily source of merriment in Common Room to collect ... and parody ... his rococo utterances.The genre can become quite an art form.

I only hope I don't get the Thin End of the Holy Father's Elbow.

25 June 2017

Sporting the Papal Oak*: the Vocabulary of Gesture

I am finding it difficult to elaborate a workable hermeneutic by which to understand the unwillingness of the Roman Pontiff to allow his door to be opened to the Four Cardinals.

It has been critically pointed out by others that he opens his door to some rather unusual applicants. This seems to me to be not at all a just object of criticism. I applaud him for it. How can anyone fail to notice that, in so doing, he is following the example of his Line Manager, the Second Person of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity? Whom did the Incarnate Word ever turn away?

But ... well, may I put it like this. If I ran a very welcoming household, admitting anyone who knocked, friends and foes, from tramps to parliamentary candidates, talking to all, hearing their troubles, struggling with their worries, and trying to resolve their uncertainties, but refused ever to find a moment to hear and talk with my wife, children, and grandchildren, what judgements ought to be made of me?

The Lord washed the feet of his most intimate friends, and that pedilavium was seen in the Church when Abbots washed the feet of their sons, Bishops the feet of their presbyters. But the present occupant of the Roman See refuses this service of humility to his associates and rigidly confines it to people whom he has, as far as we are informed, never met before. I am impressed by the symbolism of what he does do ... with its gracious imagery of openness to those on the social peripheries ... while being puzzled by the determined rigidity of his exclusions.

Perhaps ... who am I to speculate? ... our Holy Father feels impatient that Four Cardinals are unable to understand his recent document Amoris laetitia. Possibly he suspects that they fail to understand because they are determined not to understand. I know exactly the same feeling. Both in the parochial teaching ministry, and in a scholastic environment, I have sometimes had that very feeling. In my simplicity, however, I have usually tried to devise other strategies by which to make myself understood. Should I really have just refused to waste my time? Is that the message and example we lesser people are to infer from the conduct of the Vicar of Christ?

Papa Ratzinger once invited to tea a dissident theologian with a life's history of heresy and of malevolent and unpleasantly expressed antagonism towards himself: Hans Kueng. I thought that was a rather fine and lovely gesture. Or: perhaps not so much a mere gesture as a real and Christ-like openness to a brother in Christ. Was I merely naive to think this? Should Ratzinger simply have locked the door, eaten all the sandwiches himself, licked his lips, and had a nap?

I can understand it if the present occupant of the Roman See has a mental list of people he would rather not meet, which includes bishops whom he has just sacked as well as the Four Cardinals. That would be very humanly and endearingly understandable. Many pastors have, at least in petto, just such a list of parishioners. I once went along one particular street rather than another to avoid the risk of meeting such a person. But then, in my examination of conscience, it occurred to me: suppose Providence had disposed the likelihood of such a meeting with the intention that some particular good would result from it?

I am finding it quite a struggle to discover the truly Christian and pastoral meaning in locked doors, unanswered letters, and rigid exclusions.

*Male undergraduate sets of rooms in Oxford used to have an inner and an outer door. The latter was called the 'Oak' and it was said to be 'sported' when it was shut. 'Sporting one's Oak' occurred when, in some such emergency as an Essay Crisis or a woman, the undergraduate concerned had no time for socialising. Will Papa Bergoglio go down in the History books as the Papa Robustus, the Oaky Pope? Will the next step of the Four Cardinals be to compose in Greek elegiacs a paraklausithyron?

24 June 2017

Encaenia UPDATED

Wednesday,21 June, was the  University's annual celebration, Encaenia. Honorary degrees are conferred, and the Oratio Creweiana celebrates the magnificentia and praecellentia of Alma Mater Oxonia. The speeches presenting the graduands are in Latin; and this year we had a new Public Orator, Jonathan Katz, displaying to his public his Latinity for the first time. (He also teaches Greek and Sanskrit; he did not spring upon us the surprise of addressing us in the second of those tongues.) The temperatures here were pretty Texan, and Sir Christopher Wren forgot to install air conditioning in the Theatrum Sheldonianum ... 

The Creweian Oration, nowadays, is in English. Last year, when Mr Orator Jenkyns was doing his last stint of duty, he asked the Chancellor for the customary permission to use the vernacular for this Oration: Honoratissime et Insignissime Cancellarie, licetne Anglice loqui? And the Chancellor, with feigned irritation, and no small delay, eventually murmured Hoc ultimo tempore, licet. This year, back to just licet.

An Englishwoman; a Scotswoman; four American males; one American female. Such were our honorands this year. I am fearful that, in the years to come, outside Europe, we shall become more and more of an American dependancy, in cultural, academic, political, economic, trading, terms. I was never blind to the failings of the European project; I just hoped it might protect us from ...  alternatives ...

Shirley, Baroness Williams, was one of the Gang of Four who split the British Labour Party a generation ago. Since her gender is unambiguous, I wondered how apt was the Latin Societas Quattuorvirorum. Quaterna cohors? Quaternum Latrocinium? 

One of the things I dislike about the Vatican's Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis is its preference for circumlocutions. Machina quae facit x y z ... that sort of thing. Cumbersome. So I did not much like Mr Orator Katz's librorum per aethera legendorum saeculum for "the e-book era". I prefer coinages: Mr Orator Griffin very wittily did e-mail by e-pistula. I am sure readers will be able to contrive neologisms for e-book.

Caeliscalpium for Sky-scraper, I did rather like.

20 June 2017

Ordinations in the Ordinariate

What a superb occasion, last Saturday! As England enjoyed ... or endured ... a flow of very hot weather from Spain, the Ordinariate happily migrated to the cool spaces of the old Spanish Embassy Chapel: S James Spanish Place. The Sacrament of Order was solemnly administered by our dear friend Bishop Robert Byrne, who ordained Deacons for England, Scotland, and Wales (yes ... poor old Ireland is still inordinariate.). This seems to me a most welcome advance on the old practice of ordinands being 'done' by the geographical diocesan Bishop of their place of residence. That could appear to suggest that they are really clergy of the diocese and that the Ordinary is just a sort of Vicar General for iffy converts. The new arrangements make visible the fact that the Ordinariate is a totally separate jurisdiction, directly subject to the Holy See, distinct from and equal to the dioceses. The fact that Spanish Place as an old Embassy Chapel goes back to before the Restoration of the Hierarchy, makes the point even more crisply (the same is, of course, true of our Principal Church, the old Bavarian Embassy Chapel). And indeed, Bishop Robert's titular See, Cuncacestre, takes us right back to the glory days of the Anglo-Saxon Church. Proto-ordinariate! Memories of the sweet talent with which S Bede the Venerable married together Englishness and Romanita!

The S James's Choir and servers did splendidly by us. So did the blessed providers of the Repast which followed. But the biggest stars were our ten new clergy. As well as eight in Anglican Orders, two had discerned their priestly vocation as lay members of the Ordinariate ... the first such two.

I wonder how many dioceses in Northern Europe have ordained as many clerics this summer. Last Saturday offered the Catholic World a vivid picture of a Traditional jurisdiction which is really going places! Four cheers for Mgr Keith!!

All we need now is for diocesan bishops to 'think Ordinariate' when they wonder what to with their imminently redundant churches and presbyteries. And a relaxation of the rules confining membership of the Ordinariates to those with Anglican or Methodist connexions, would help us enormously. Is it really in accordance with the New Evangelisation for us to have to turn people away?

19 June 2017

Cardinals, Collegiality and Amoris Laetitia UPDATE.

This morning the Settimo cielo blog prints the text of the latest appeal by the Four Cardinals for an audience to discuss the Dubia which they raised earlier with the Sovereign Pontiff. I repeat, below, the piece I published yesterday, Monday.

Collegiality did not wait to be invented by Vatican II. In the 1950s, Papa Pacelli, Pius XII, wrote to each bishop of the Catholic Church to ask (1) whether he believed in the Corporal Assumption of the Mother of God; and (2) whether he considered it opportune for the dogma to be defined. The subsequent Solemn Definition followed upon the overwhelming consensus apparent in the replies of the world-wide episcopate.

More than a year has passed since the emergence of the divisive and poorly drafted document called Amoris laetitia. In this time, many Bishops and  episcopal conferences have issued guidelines making clear that nothing has changed since S John Paul II in Familiaris consortio, and Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis, reemphasised the Church's immemorial discipline: 'remarried' divorcees who will not repent of their adultery and undertake either to separate or at least to try, with the help of God's grace, to cohabit chastely, exclude themselves from the Sacraments during the time of their impenitence.

A few conferences and Bishops have issued statements understood as meaning that the thusly impenitent may, by virtue of Amoris laetitia, receive the Sacraments. Yet other conferences, such as that in England and Wales, have been manifestly unable to agree among themselves. It is clear that the Universal Episcopate is not united behind a 'German' interpretation of Amoris laetitia. Very far from it.

In the context of the Unity of the Una Catholica and of the collegial nature of the Universal Episcopate, cum et sub Petro, the time has surely come for this 'dialogue' to be moved to a new stage. Manifestly, if we are to persist with the embarrassing notion that we belong to one Church with one Teaching about the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, steps must be taken to move in the direction of coherence, harmony, and united witness. The idea that someone who is excluded from the Sacraments by his own impenitent rejection of the Gospel needs only to walk across the border between Poland and Germany, or from one American diocese to another, to be welcomed enthusiastically as a communicant in good standing, is obviously a profoundly unCatholic absurdity which needs speedily to be resolved. Indeed, if one of Bishop Lopes's Ordinariate parishes in America were geographically within a 'liberal', Cupichoid, diocese, the dissonance between the two in doctrine and discipline would be even more ludicrous.

The time has surely come for the Four Cardinals who intervened last year with their Dubia to revisit the question. And the time for Bishops, Successors of the Apostles according to the teaching of Leo XIII and of Vatican II and not mere vicars of the Roman Pontiff, to speak with courage, clarity and unanimity. And for clergy, laity, and academics to do the same. Remember that, at the height of the Arian Crisis, it was not among the Bishops or even in Rome that the Faith was most conspicuously preserved and defended. Remember the careful and lucid teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman, beloved Patron of our English Ordinariate, on the Suspense of the Magisterium.

Parrhesia, boldness in witnessing to the Truth, a virtue which was once (only a couple of years ago ... it seems like an eternity, doesn't it?) so very incessantly on the lips of the current occupant of the Roman See, is surely still an obligation for all faithful Catholics.

The more who speak boldly, the more difficult it will be for individuals to be put under unsympathetic pressure.

18 June 2017

A little elementary ... no; intermediate ... Latin

In his great hymn Pange lingua for Vespers at Corpus Christi, S Thomas writes:
Verbum caro panem verum
    verbo carnem efficit ...

We are going to translate it together. Are you sitting comfortably?

You will only be able to translate it by first asking and answering certain questions. Such as these.

Here we go.

What is the subject? That is, what is in the nominative? Verbum ... but caro as well. They are in what is often called 'apposition'. They stick together. Verbum means the Word in the sense of the Second Person of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity. Caro means flesh; so Verbum caro means the Word [who had become] flesh ... i.e. the Incarnate Word.

What is the verb? efficit, meaning makes.

What is the object? That is, what is in the accusative? panem, verum, and carnem. Let me persuade you to put carnem in the fridge for a moment and to deal first with panem verum. That means true bread.

So far, we have "The Word [made] flesh makes true bread ...."

Time to polish off carnem. Let's pause for a moment. Consider (1)"He beat the boy black and blue"; (2). "He beat the black and blue boy". In each of these English sentences, 'black and blue' is in grammatical agreement with (i.e. it tells us more about) the boy. But they are different. (2) means that the boy was black and blue before the beating. (1) means that the blackness and blueness was the result of the beating ... i.e. the end, purpose, result, of the verbal action.

Carnem is like (1). It is the result of the verbal action.

"The Word [made] flesh makes true bread [to be] flesh".

Oops ... we've left out verbo, which, incidentally, has a lower-case v. Its ending makes clear that it is either dative or ablative. I will tell you for free that it is ablative.

"The Word [made] flesh by a word makes true bread [to be] flesh".

You can't translate Latin, as you can a lot of modern languages, by attacking each word in the order in which it comes in the sentence. You have to work out grammatical things like what is the subject, what is the verb, what is the object etc. etc.. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time.

By 'wasting', I mean wasting.

Because the sense in Latin depends on the inflexions (i.e. the syllable at the end of a word which changes, as with verbum ... verbo; caro ... carnem), a poet is able to group the words in a beautiful or pointed way. The patterning of this couple of lines is, in my view, perfectly exquisite.

The great Anglican scholar John Mason Neale translated these lines, very simply, very finely,
Word made Flesh, by word he maketh
       Very bread his Flesh to be. 

Have you booked yet to attend the Latin Mass Society Latin course this summer in Pantasaph?


16 June 2017

Idolatry?? (2)

Sometimes one hears it suggested that pagan deities are simply the "God whom we all worship" in a different garb and cultural context. So that, however convinced we are that our inherited perception of God is divinely revealed to us, we might licitly respect other, albeit imperfect, manifestations of God. Perhaps all the "gods" are simply masks behind which lies "the same one God".

Such an attitude is not irrational. In fact, is was widely held in the early centuries of the Christian era. I am not an expert on Hinduism, but I think it is today the belief of educated Hindus. It deserves the respect we owe to all good people who hold to an erroneous religious faith.

The good people who held it 2,000 years ago were those who worshipped the goddess Isis; an ancient Egyptian deity hellenised and much promoted by the Ptolemaic (Macedonian Greek) rulers of Egypt in the centuries between Alexander the Great and the the absorption of Egypt into the Roman Empire. Cleopatra VII herself was, indeed, the father-loving goddess the new [i.e. Incarnate] Isis.

You can explore Isiacism in Book 11 of the Metamorphosis of Apuleius ... a work available in paperback translation. Or, if you have access to an academic library, in Plutarch; or in P. Oxy 1380 of the Oxyrrhynchus papyri (modern books about the cult are often unreliable and are not recommended).

Cult members believed that Isis was the proper name of the deity, and that the cult as propagated by the Ptolemies was her authentic cult. But they believed that she was in fact the same deity that was worshipped in every place under a variety of names and by different cults. So, if you woshipped her in one place as Hera, in another as Athene, in another as Diana, you were worshipping the same divinity. Behind all these different external formats, the deity was One. Accordingly, if you had been initiated into the Mysteries of Isis, there was no reason why you could not also be initiated into other cults, such as the associated cult of Osiris, or that of Mithras ... In Apuleius, indeed, the subject of the narrative seems to be rather keen on 'collecting' such initiations. Quite prbably, some of his Christian converts at Corinth whom S Paul warned against idolatry had been people of such a type ... which is why such vigilant pastoral care needed to be taken of them and their religious activities.

This is one form of a religious culture sometimes known as 'syncretism'.

In the time of S Paul, Isiacism was extremely popular (particularly among women, as Mithraism was among soldiers). Had you asked a contemporary of S Paul "What is the Future of Religion?", you would probably have been told 'Isis' or 'Mithras'. In a cosmopolitan and mobile world, these sophisticated and personal international 'mystery' cults from the Orient had an appeal which the old, rather distant classical tutelary gods of the polis did not have.

Christianity stood out against such syncretisms. Pagan gods, S Paul taught, were either non-existent; or were demons. In either case, they needed to be very firmly shunned. The advice available to us in Scripture affords no support for a policy of respecting Isiac or Mithraic or Hindu cult objects as a way of demonstrating polite respect for the persons of Partners in Interfaith Dialogue (otherwise known as Idolaters). And I can find nothing in the advice of Vatican II which in this matter contradicts Scripture. If I did, it might not be Scripture that I would downplay.

This is the historical background against which we have to understand the firm formulation in Acts: "There is no other name under heaven by which a man may be saved except that of Jesus".

One of the reasons why Christians have always spurned 'Freemasonry' is that its ritual, so it is reported, combine and mingle together the One True God with the names of heathen so-called divinities ... in other words, the very essence of syncretism.

Even very Eminent people need to be warned: "Shun Idolatry!"

15 June 2017

Salus, honor, virtus quoque sit ...

I've often wondered about these words in the Tantum ergo. Honour we can give to God, as is his due; Might we cannot give Him, because he possessses it, but we can and should doxologically ascribe it to him, acknowledging that it is his. But "Salus", Salvation, seems to me a different Kettle of Fish: it is in principle what he bestows upon us. In what sense can we 'give' it to him, or say "let it be" to him?

I wondered if Latin philology might help; given the root meaning, does it here mean 'perfection', which we could ascribe to God? Or, in view of the phrase "dat salutem", "gives greeting", is that the sense here? But it seems unlikely that S Thomas is delving into antiquated Indo-European philology; or that the phrase is simply a way of saying "Hello, God".

I suspect S Thomas got the phrase from the old hymn to S Martin, Iste Confessor, eighth century and probably Carolingian (they liked Sapphics), where the doxology begins "Sit salus illi, decus atque virtus ...". But there is a Biblical basis: Revelation 7:10 "Salus Deo nostro" (the Greek is "He Soteria toi theoi hemon" ... see also 12:10 and 19:1). R H Charles (still my favourite commentary on Revelation) comments that "They know and proclaim that the Deliverance is not their own achievement, but that of God and of the Lamb".

So are we really saying, in these doxologies, "We ascribe our Salvation to God's action"?.

I would be glad if anyone has spotted something textual, literary, or historical that I have missed.


By the way, Iste Confessor used to be the Office Hymn for all 'Confessors' (i.e. male Saints who were not martyrs) in the Old Rites. Dom Lentini's coetus commented "The very few metrical licenses led the Urbanian correctors to make so many and such grave changes that they gave pretty well a new appearance to the hymn. It ought to be totally restored; it is very well known and worthy and not to be restricted simply to the feast of S Martin".

But when Liturgia Horarum came out, Lentini had been overruled, the hymn confined to S Martin, and some very unmemorable compositions had been provided for every category of male non-martyr.

14 June 2017

Idolatry?? (1)

Apparently, the English Catholic Diocese of Hallam has on its website advice about how to behave in pagan places of worship ... which pagan cult objects to bow to, for example. This has caused some degree of negative interest.

The advice may very well have been set up without the knowledge of the Bishop. Since I can't find it on the website, it may very well have been taken down by now; quite probably in a proper exercise of the Bishop's episcopal diligence.

The phrase used in this advice was that these ritual gestures "show respect to the host community". This does, of course, provide a rationale for dissociating the gesture from its idolatrous implications by redirecting it away from idolatrous cultic objects themselves and towards the people  to whom we might wish, very naturally, to show proper human respect.

Whether ordinary Christian people ought to be troubled with such semiological incoherences seems to me debatable. Still, perhaps we should not get too hysterical about this. The Hallam situation is, it appears to me, a great deal less scandalous than the "Earth Mother" devotions in which, according to reports, Cardinal Ravasi has taken part. And one recalls the disturbing action, reported and uncorrected in his Wilkipedia entry, in which Vincent Nichols in 2009 is said to have offered flowers to Hindu deities in a Hindu temple in Neasden. (Yes! There really is such a place, even outside the pages of Private Eye!!)

But I do still feel a residual unease about the Hallam situation. Somebody ... probably a local 'Interfaith' clerical enthusiast with some titular dignity in the local curia ... must have been responsible. If so, I think it is fair to ask questions about the degree of appropriate Christian formation of such an individual.

Christianity, the lineal descendant and successor of the Judaic Covenant, is still committed to the principled and unrelenting monotheism of the Hebrew prophets. And, most particularly, the principle of refusing reverence to pagan cult objects was deeply branded into our Christian consciousness during the periods of violent persecution which our Martyrs endured in the centuries before the Peace of the Church.

An apparent assumption that the natural desire to be courteous to our partners in interfaith dialogue renders this monotheistic consciousness 'out of date', seems to me to demonstrate an extremely shallow degree of integration into our own Christian identity on the part of an individual concerned.
To be continued.

13 June 2017

Kneeling for Communion

In absolute terms, it is hard to condemn the practice of standing for Holy Communion, since this is the customary posture in Oriental rites validly and licitly and laudably used within the Catholic Church.

But there is a difference between standing for Communion in a Christian tradition in which it has always been thus, and doing so as an innovation in a tradition where kneeling has for centuries been the custom.

To forget this is, ultimately, to forget that ours is an Incarnational religion in which the transcendent Mysteries are expressed and inculturated in multiplicities of times and spaces, that is, within the immemorial traditions and lives of social entities embodied within history.

Cardinal Sarah has beautifully described the insistence with which S John Paul II, dying, weak, and in great pain, insisted on being helped to his knees in order to receive Holy Communion. Strangely, the description is closely paralleled by an account of Henry VIII being advised that, because of the immense agony which his stinking leg ulcers caused him, he need not kneel for Communion. The dying king, despite the schism which he had precipitated, had never lost his belief in the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, and he insisted on kneeling, on the grounds that, could he even crawl beneath the earth, he would do insufficient honour to his Sacramental Lord and God.

12 June 2017

Hugh Curwen (3)

Old and ill, and perhaps panicking that Elizabeth Tudor's regime would discover the extent to which he had been frustrating its Protestant intentions, Hugh Curwen, English Archbishop of the 'English' see of Dublin, left Ireland in 1567 to become Bishop of Oxford.

So this year is the 450th anniversary of Curwen's brief occupancy of the See of Oxford. (His Election was confirmed by the Crown on the 8th of October.)

He came to a bishopric which had never been able to get itself properly organised since Henry VIII established the See in the magnificent former abbey church at Oseney in the Western suburbs of modern Oxford. Within two or three years, Tudor had decided to save money by suppressing the cathedral at Oseney and transferring the See to the chaotic building site upon which Cardinal Wolsey had founded Cardinal College. The projected Chapel there, which Wolsey had intended to surpass King's College Chapel in Cambridge in its splendour*, had not risen above ground level (it never did) when the Cardinal fell from grace; and worship perforce continued to be held in the Priory Church of S Frideswide, which, marked for replacement, was already partially demolished. The question of whether the Bishop of Oxford was entitled to regard as his palace the buildings of the former monastic college of Gloucester Hall [Worcester College is now on this site] was to rumble on in litigation for generations (in fact, Gloucester Hall was already notorious, when Curwen arrived, as a full-blooded 'recusant' appendage of the 'Church papist' college of S John's). So Curwen settled into an episcopal residence near Burford in Oxfordshire, and died a few months later in the autumn of 1568.

Thomas Goldwell, the friend who anointed Pole on his death-bed and was in 1558 bishop-elect of Oxford, had been unable to take possession of his See because of the accession of Elizabeth Tudor**. So, when Curwen was appointed in 1567, the See had been vacant for nearly a decade. After Curwen's death, it remained vacant until John Underhill took possession in 1589, during what some historians call the "second reign" of Elizabeth: which began in 1584 when the monarch entered upon new extremes of savagery in the torture of Catholics***. Thus it was not until 1589 that Oxford, rife with recusancy and church popery, received a bishop who had been consecrated according to the Anglican Ordinal and had a mind to impose Protestantism. The actual day by day administration of the diocese (which in those days encompassed only the County of Oxfordshire) had presumably been in the hands of the Archdeacon and his Court, throughout this remarkable thirty-year episcopal hiatus ... longer even than the sede vacante which Bloody Bess notoriously contrived at Ely so that she could milk the revenues of that See.

Curwen is the English Marian Archbishop who 'conformed'; the man who wasn't a hero. But who are we to condemn an old man who used his extensive training in Canon Law to protect the Faith and to frustrate the heretics while he placed his own soul in danger? Especially if we spent so many decades ourselves as 'Church Papists'?

* Colvin, Unbuilt Oxford.
** He was the sole representative of the English episcopate at Trent.
*** John Guy Elizabeth The Forgotten Years.

11 June 2017


A reader has emailed me to say that he can't read the comments on my Saturday post because every time he tries to do so, he gets an occlusion on his screen, allegedly from Google Chrome.

Are other people getting this?

I would appreciate both positive and negative responses.

9 June 2017

June 9 1968

I have a signed and sealed document which assures me that on this day in 1968, Harry, by divine permission bishop of Oxford, solemnly administering Holy Orders in his Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford, did duly and rightly ordain ME to the office of Priesthood ... etc.. Curious the things one remembers; during the imposition of hands by the Bishop and his presbyters simultaneously (so much more meaningful a collegiate action, inherited in the Church of England from the old Sarum Pontifical, than the curious little procession of individual presbyters that does it according to the more recent Roman Pontificals) I was aware of a curious fluttering on my head; not so much the Holy Spirit struggling to get through but the hand of one of the canons, a very distinguished Anglican Catholic theologian who was, poor chap, just starting Parkinson's disease. Cuius animae propitietur Deus. I use almost daily a work of reference which he compiled.

Then back to my place; and a few minutes later, as the Cathedral choir began the Sanctus, I began, for the first time as a presbyter, to murmur Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Iesum Christum ... How many times, since then ...

Harry Carpenter was a kindly and gracious, if rather shy, Father-in-God, and a very learned (and orthodox) Bishop. He derived his episcopal succession not only through S Augustine's successors in the See of Canterbury (and, incidentally, through bishop Bonner, the hero of 1559), but also (via some rather iffy Dutchmen) through Bossuet and Cardinal Barberini, nephew of Urban VIII. It seemed difficult to imagine, back in 1968, how anything could happen that would make one wish to fulfill one's vocation as a Priest of the Catholic and Latin Church anywhere other than in the Provinces of Canterbury and York. So much holiness was there and so much real and profound learning; so much were they part of of the fabric of every English town and village; so autochthonous.

I wonder how many generations it took for those once flourishing churches around Hippo in North Africa to pass into sand and become history and memories. Sic transit ... As Blessed John Henry Newman put it, Canterbury has gone its way, and York is gone, and Durham is gone, and Winchester is gone. It was sore to part with them. We clung to the vision of past greatness, and would not believe it could come to naught; but ... And even Oxford, in a sense, is gone; the Oxford which for Newman - and for Trollope! - was the bastion and symbol of all that was best and most solidly enduring in Anglicanism.

Thank goodness I did not make the mistake of continuing to cling.

8 June 2017

The Holy Spirit and the Roman Rite UPDATED

Every now and again I return to the question of the Epiclesis of the Roman Rite. My answer is invariably the same (see Search Engine attached to this blog): the Roman rite not only does not have an Epiclesis to summon the Holy Spirit upon the Elements so that they may become the Lord's Body and Blood; it never did have such a formula. Comments then flood in from readers who have been brainwashed by the belief of late Victorian scholarship that the Roman Rite must originally have had an oriental-style Epiclesis [as mythical as the canals once discerned on the surface of Mars]; combined with some untruths perpetrated in the years after the Council.

The Roman Rite does not have an Epiclesis because that rite is so ancient. It predates the interest in the Holy Spirit which developed in the fourth century and which then influenced most Eastern Rites.

According to the later Oriental rites, the priest invokes the Spirit which then descends to change the Elements.

According to the older Roman Rite, the Church offers the Elements to the Father, and it is simply by His gracious act of acceptance that they become the Body and Blood of His Son.  

This is exemplified in the Prayers over the Offerings, the 'Secrets', of this Octave week of Pentecost. If the venerable Roman tradition had had the least inkling that the Spirit is involved in the Consecration of Bread and Wine, surely the Pentecost Octave, and the Prayers over the Offerings, would have been its opportunity to offer some sort of hint in this direction.

There is none.The Propers of these days emphasise the role of the Holy Ghost in the Paschal Mysteries of Initiation, Baptism anf Confirmation. For this connection, of course, there is Biblical and Patristic evidence galore. And the renewal of the hearts and lives of the Faithful by the outpouring of the Spirit is expressed.

But not a whisker of any suggestion that the Gifts which, by the gift of the Faithful and the Ministry of the Deacons, have just been piled up on the Altar, might be transformed by that Spirit  from bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Word.

Of those 'Secret' Prayers, one only brings the Holy Ghost into any sort of proximity with the oblata. It stands out because of its arresting and unusual imagery: the Secret of the Mass of the Friday. Here is a dead literal translation:
O Lord, grant that that Divine fire may take away the sacrifices which have been offered in thy sights, which [=Divine fire]set alight the hearts of the disciples of Christ thy Son through the Holy Spirit.

The imagery is of the animal sacrifices of the Jewish, Greek, and Roman cults, in which some or all of the meat of the sacrificed animal is burned away to nothing upon the stone altar.

7 June 2017

Older than the Octave

People like me tend to nag you about the desireability of keeping the Pentecost Octave. But there was an observance this week which is much older than the Octave; indeed, much older than Christianity itself: the Summer Ember Season.

The pagan Romans kept Feriae messis, Days of Harvest, connected with the corn harvest. In the ancient Liturgy of the (local) Church of Rome, which we are privileged to have received for our own, this ancient piece of local Romanita is preserved for us as the Ember Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the week following Pentecost. Like the other pagan agricultural festivals, this one was converted by the Church into a fast: S Leo regards fasting as particularly appropriate for the Ember Days this week "So that if, amid the joys of the festivities, negligent liberty and inordinate licence has made any presumption, this [fast] may discipline (castiget) it by the censure of religious abstinence".

So some elements in the Old Rite propers for these days precede the imposition of 'Spirit' themes by the Octave. Today's Gospel about the Bread of Life, for example, christianises the pagan celebration of the corn harvest. I will leave you to fish out your good old English Missals and find the evidence for this also in the readings for Friday and Saturday. (Remember that our forefathers in the Faith believed that healings from illnesses and exorcism of unclean spirits were closely related to fasting [see Mark 9:29 with the variant reading and Matthew 17:21], so also be on the lookout for pericopes about healings and exorcisms.)

In 455, the Arian Gaiseric was attacking Rome (he took it on the Ember Wednesday, secured thousands of potential candidates for the slave markets, and pillaged most of the basilicas ... it's the sort of thing heretics do). Pope S Leo wrote a number of collects on this occasion; one of them survives as the collect for the Ember Friday this week. Find it in your English Missal. You'll see the point of the phrase hostili nullatenus incursione turbetur. Relevant today?

6 June 2017

Lock'em up and grab the cash

A common Protestant myth in mid-Victorian England concerned gullible young ladies who were also the heiresses to considerable fortunes. They were induced by cunningly persuasive Catholic priests, so it was widely believed, to join religious orders and to hand over the caboodle ... after which, mysteriously, they very quickly died. Blessed John Henry Newman, a superb exponent of the Swiftian traditions of English Satire, once delivered a hilarious send-up of this jolly topos. Some things are best dealt with through satire; I rather like the hypothesis floated by Mgr Ronnie Knox to the effect that Satire is the purpose for which God created Humour. Satire is at the heart of the cultural identity of the Ordinariate.

What Victorian Protestant bigots absurdly believed about the Catholic Church is being metamorphosed into truth in this Age of Bergoglian Mercy. Circe and her wand are alive and well! According to rumours supported by various sources, Fr Manelli, Founder of the once vibrant young order called The Franciscans of the Immaculate, is being held under house arrest on Vatican orders, and denied normal contact with people outside the House of his incarceration.

[I suspect that most readers will know about the merciless persecution to which that order has been subjected. I refer those who are unaware to the facts available on the Internet.]

According to recent reports on the Internet, Fr Manelli, who is well into his eighties, was recently presented with a demand that he swear an oath of obedience to the current occupant of the Roman See. Perhaps unwisely, he did this. Soon afterwards, he was presented with a demand that he hand over the assets of his foundation.

I understand that in fact, the 'properties of the Friars of the Immaculate' are held by lay trustees, since the Friars do not hold property. Is the intention now that Fr Manelli should use his influence to persuade these Trustees to hand the assets over??

Readers may well recall reports that the resignation of Fra Matthew Festing from the Grand Mastership of the Sovereign Order of Malta was secured by the same ruse of appealing to a sense of obedience to the current occupant of the Roman See.

Choppy weather.

Sources: Eponymous Flower blog; Horace Odes I 14; Alcaeus fragments 6, 208, 73 [Loeb].

4 June 2017


Today is, I think, as well as being the Great Feast of Pentecost, the anniversary of the last occasion before 2013 upon which a Roman Pontiff abdicated. On June 4 1415, Pope Gregory XII, Angelo Correr, abdicated from the See of S Peter.

He did this for the good and the unity of the Universal Church Militant, which was gravely afflicted by schism. This had meant, for example, that if as a priest you walked outside the walls of the English town of Berwick to say Mass in a church within the adjacent Scottish county of Berwickshire, instead of saying una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Gregorio, you had to remember to say Una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Benedicto. Unless ... oops ... I'd forgotten this one ... you accepted the third pope, recently elected on the authority of a Council at Pisa and called John XXIII. Going into a strange Sacristy and looking around for the notice headed Nomen Papae must have afforded the travelling priest with endless surprises. Perhaps, after all, God is a God of Surprises.

Confusing times. Evidence of these confusions is still on public display in Westminster Cathedral, where a big and prominent List of Popes shamelessly displays a very uncertain attitude to the question of who was pope when and where and why in those diverting years at the beginning of the fourteen hundreds.

Disunity in Christ's Church Militant is always a bad and sad thing.

3 June 2017

Hugh Curwen (2)


I had better make it plain that, in cultural terms, Curwen was Archbishop of an English see. An Englishman himself, he went to a Dublin which, socially, politically, and religiously defined itself as part of the 'Englishry', as opposed to the 'Irishry' beyond the Pale ... in the rest of Gaelic or Gaelicised Ireland. The whole of Dublin's ecclesiastical structure was English; and one very amusing example of how this tension between the Englishry and the Irishry played out is provided by Curwen's predecessor, Archbishop Browne.

Browne, rather like Thomas Cranmer, had been so far infected by the new heresies that he had contracted a form of marriage, and maintained his floosy on a remote episcopal manor. But, when in 1541 Henry VIII attempted to reinforce the discipline of clerical celibacy, this left Browne in a very difficult position. His enemies knew of his marriage, and were able to use it to blackmail him in terms of policy. Of course, it was never in their interest to go for the 'nuclear option' of sending a full account to London; once you blow your information, you lose all hold over the victim of your blackmail. So matters were ... adjusted. Mrs Browne was disposed of to become Mrs Bathe; the archiepiscopal bastards were provided for. When the reign of Edward Tudor began, and clerical marriage was legalised, Browne heaved a great sigh of relief; the new King was of such tender years that the reign was clearly destined to be a long one. Mrs Bathe was sent for, and resumed the dignity of Mrs Browne.

But of course, the pious stripling was soon assumed to his eternal reward, and in the Marian restoration, Browne had to do some very nippy footwork with Cardinal Pole to regularise his position ... and Mrs Browne reverted to Bathehood. (Yes, I know you want to know what became of her ... after Bathe, she had three more husbands and lived until the 1590s. Clearly, she had been a young and lusty wench when first she graced the primatial couch. What a shame that no portrait of her is known to survive. She encapsulates the problems involved in gambling upon one's guesses during the decades of the Tricky Tudors.)

The significance of all this is that clerical celibacy was not merely an element in traditional Catholic discipline, but was something even closer to home: one of those things that the 'Englishry' of the Pale saw as distinguishing them from the Gaelic culture of the rest of Ireland ... where concubinage was rife among the clergy*. Celibacy was the proof that the Dublin clergy were 'English' rather than 'Irish'. It set the seal on a culture where English language, English law, and English cathedral structures (and the Sarum 'use' at the altar) were the order of the day. It was part of a public demonstration of the superiority of the English culture of the Pale over the despised barbarism perceived to reign in Gaelic Ireland.


*I once did a little research into the Medieval parochial clergy of the diocese of Ardfert, alias Kerry, the Kingdom of the West, where never ending 'dispensations from the impediment of bastardy' punctuate the succession of clergy who were obviously inheriting the family profession and business, generation after generation, from Dad.

2 June 2017

The enigma of Hugh Curwen (1)

This year we, here in Oxford, are offered a 450th anniversary celebration which might be characterised as a rather 'niche', or even 'boutique', commemoration. I shall return to that in the last of this three-part series.

We all have our myths and quite often they need tidying up. For example: the myth that upon the accession of Elizabeth 'my-father-said-I-was-a-bastard' Tudor, all the English bishops except for the occupant of one Welsh see refused to take the oath of Supremacy. This fails to take account of suffragan bishops, such as the bishops of Bedford, Berwick, Hull, Shrewsbury, and Thetford. It also fails to take account of the enigmatic figure of Hugh Curwen (pronounced Curen).

A few years ago, Enforcing the English Reformation in Ireland, by James Murray, gave Curwen some context. He was one of Cardinal Pole's choices of reliable and reforming bishops who would bring the Counter-Reformation to the British Isles and would staunchly maintain the rights of the Church and of the Roman Primacy - what you might call a very 'Duffy' figure. He was papally 'provided' as Archbishop of Dublin, and consecrated by Bonner in Old S Paul's Cathedral in 1555, the Pallium having been granted even before his Consecration. He was thorough and resolute in restoring the supremacy of the Catholic Faith in the Diocese of Dublin. But, upon Elizabeth's acquisition of power, he (as we say) 'conformed'.

Historians, not surprisingly, have found it easy to regard Curwen as an episcopal Vicar of Bray, especially since he had tolerated all the Tudor changes since 1541. Murray, through a careful examination of minutiae, argues for a strong likehood that Curwen was a 'Church Papist'; that he remained opposed to to the Reformation but stayed in post in order to have his hands on the mechanisms of episcopal jurisdiction, with a deliberate intention of thus frustrating and obstructing government religious policy. In this, he was successful; Dublin remained a Catholic city until the influx of Protestant immigrants in the next century. Of course, his enemies reported his doings to London; he was an 'unprofitable workman', a 'living enemy of the truth', a 'disguised dissembler' who was unwilling to further 'our business'. Inevitably, Curwen attempted in 1564 to exculpate himself by assuring the Tudor despot that the 'sinister information' which had made her 'conceive some misliking towards me and my doings' was untrue. As Murray puts it, "From this point on ... the Archbishop knew that it would be increasingly difficult to sustain his outwardly conformist attitude to the established religion, while at the same time continuing to defend the interests of the old religion and his conservative clergy".