31 July 2017

Old Testament Saints

Tomorrow, in old calendars, the Holy Maccabees were celebrated - indeed, they still get a commemoration in the Old Mass. These were the seven superb Jewish brothers whose martyrdom, described in II Maccabees 7, reads so much like a rehearsal for the Acta of so many Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire, especially under the divine Diocletian.

There is manifestly no theological reason why we should not give calendar space to the saints of the Old Covenant. After all, we claim that our New Covenant community, the Church, is directly in continuity with that Jewish Faithful Remnant which did accept their Messiah and the Visitation of their God; and so we are rooted in the patriarchs and prophets ... to be frank, they are more our possession than that of the Synagogue. I presume that the reason why, in practice, we do not have festivals of S Moses and S Jeremias, has a lot to do with the fact that the Christian Sanctorale finds its origins in the cult of relics: martyrs were celebrated where their bodies rested. As Fr Zed often laudably points out, the Martyrology does commemorate more Old Testament Saints; and so do particular calendars such as those of the Carmelites and of the Diocese of Jerusalem.

The Carmelites keep S Elias (Elijah, for Protestant readers) on July 20. For them, the impetus was their enjoyment of the sacred sites in Palestine. What ensured the commemoration of the Maccabees at Rome was the veneration of their relics in the same titulus Sanctae Eudoxiae in which S Peter's Chains are kept.

We live in a nasty age in which one favourite game of nasty people is to imply 'Antisemitism' on the part of those whom they dislike. One of these periodic unpleasantnesses occurred when the English bishops, obedient to the instructions of Cardinal Marx, agitated against the prayer which Benedict XVI had composed only a few years previously for the Old Rite to use on Good Friday. Since the Liturgy of the Hours, a quite widely used form of prayer, itself has a prex for the Conversion of the Jews at Vespers on Easter Sunday (and on other Sundays in Paschaltide), one does rather wonder whether these prelates, and the shadowy anonymous bureaucrats who put them up to such things, take much notice of what they say in their own Divine Office.

And it was the Novus Ordo which evicted the Maccabees from its Calendar, in pursuit of a Rigid and unbending rubrical rule, so that no mere dead Jews should get in the way of a single-minded observance of S Alfonso on August 1*.

One might wonder who the real, practical, antisemites are. For me, I shall pray, especially tomorrow, for God's mercies to rest on the millions of Jews who were slaughtered during the Third Reich.

And may God glorify yet more our magnificent brethren the Maccabees, reigning in heavenly glory beside their Messiah.

*They do not even survive in the Proprium pro clero almae Urbis.

30 July 2017

Papyri and Fallibility (1)

Off for a walk through the papyrus groves on the Nile Delta. (You will find it in a spot marked on the tourist maps of Oxford as The Botanical Garden. The Nile is a tributary of the Cherwell, joining it just opposite St Hilda's College. Not many people know that.) I enjoy the walk. It reminds me of everything that papyrus has meant for human culture ... right down to what we used to call the 'New Sappho' (i.e. the latest papyrus fragment of a mainly lost Lesbian poetess to come out of the Egyptian sands) ... "used to call" because Dirk Obbink has since published an even newer Sappho. The old New Sappho was probably about what she wants the Girls to do at her funeral, but we may never know, because the left hand side of the page is missing. It so often is. Papyri are fun for classicists, because they are new evidence and they explode hypotheses, reminding us that a hypothesis is only a hypothesis and a scholar is only a scholar.

A couple of examples: dear old Sappho; was she a schoolmistress or just a randy old dike? (You can't, of course, be both.) Von Wilamowitz Moellendorf backed his hunch that she was a respectable schoolmistress and indignantly, chivalrously, defended her reputation against sacrilegious attack. Then D L Page did a wonderful demolition job on the Graf; pointing out that there is no evidence whatsoever for the anachronistic idea that Sappho ran a school and that the obvious assumption is that was a .... um ... Lesbian. Then a decade or three ago, a fragment of a Hellenistic biography was published which asserted that she was ... a schoolmistress. Hellenistic, biographies do not, of course, have to be correct. But at least the Wilamowitz theory could hardly any longer be dismissed as unthinkably anachronistic. Facial egg for Page; rehabilitation for the Graf von W-M.

And there is the question of the rather masochistic topos whereby Roman Elegists addressed their puella as Domina and assumed a role of servitium towards her. Who began that game? R O A M Lyne, of Balliol College in this University, proved conclusively and beyond all doubt that it was Propertius. But while Lyne's book was actually being printed, the Egyptians, ingeniously subversive fellows, built an enormous dam at Aswan. And some rescue archaeology had to be done at a Roman fortlet on the site. And a papyrus fragment - only six lines - came to light, showing that the elegist Gallus, who wrote just before Propertius and whose work had been lost more or less since (on the wise advice of Augustus) he committed suicide, addressed his Lycoris as Domina. Oops-a-daisy for Dr Lyne! Bliss! There is a Providence that shapes the ends of academic certainties!

Papyri might throw light on the New Testament. A few years ago, some fragments from Qumran rendered it distinctly probable that S Mark's Gospel and S Paul's 'Pastoral Epistles' were written before 70 A.D. That, of course, explodes the entire fashionable sceptical structure of liberal Protestant Anglo-Saxon 'New Testament Studies' created in the twentieth century. But NT 'scholars' are not like us Classicists; they can't bear having their cherished beliefs, which they have gullibly accepted all their lives, and made the basis of all their laborious hypothesising, subverted. So they just refused to believe it!

How dreadful it must be to be so mired and imprisoned in the dead dogmas of the Dark Ages!

Thanks be to God for his mercy and grace in making me a Classicist and a Catholic, encouraged to follow evidence and to think for myself.  

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo!

27 July 2017

Cardinal Sarah and the Ordinariate Rite

In his latest lecture, the very admirable and very courageous Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (Oops ... have I perpetrated an anachronism?) adds, to the suggestions he had made earlier, at least two new points for the improvement of the Ordinary Form:

(1) The priest should genuflect immediately after the Consecration of the Host and of the Chalice.

It is, surely, unnecessary to explain why this is so desirable. I point out that it already happens in the Ordinariate Rite. (You will remember that, upon seeing a copy of our Ordinariate Missal, His Eminence wistfully commented "Why can't we have something like this?")

(2) The holding of thumb and index finger conjoined after they have touched the Consecrated Host.

After the regime of Edward Tudor had imposed the First Prayer Book upon the suffering clergy and people of England, the tyrants discovered that the clergy were assimilating the service as closely as possible to the Sarum Mass. So draft Articles of Visitation ordered "For a uniformity, that no minister do counterfeit the popish mass, as to kiss the Lord's table; washing his fingers at every time in the communion; blessing his eyes with the paten, or sudary; or crossing his head with the paten; shifting of the book from one place to another; laying down and licking the chalice of the communion; holding up his fingers, hands, or thumbs, joined towards his temples; breathing upon the the bread or chalice; showing the sacrament openly before the distribution of the communion; ringing of sacrying bells; or setting any light upon the Lord's board ...".

I suspect that the section I have boldened refers to the conjoining of thumb and index finger ... what, in the 1960s, trendy vandals used to call "finger pinching".

We of the Anglican Patrimony have a long experience ... centuries ... of catholicising defective liturgies imposed by soi-disant authorities.

Perhaps we should set up a lucrative Consultancy to show those who want to catholicise their bog-standard Novus Ordo how it's done? No need ... if they attend a Latin Mass Society training week on the Extraordinary Form, they'll find it fairly obvious how to transfer the skills from EF to OF.

26 July 2017

Nazis and Nazis

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the Sunday upon which the Dutch Hierarchy had ordered a Pastoral Letter to be read in all their churches, protesting vigorously and explicitly against the Nazi persecution of Dutch Jewry.

Not surprisingly, this Letter sent the Nazi authorities into paroxysms of rage.

It contained a sentiment which equally infuriates the currently dominant faction in the Catholic Church, and in particular, so we are told, the German and English hierarchies.

It hoped for the Conversion of the Jews.

25 July 2017


Ah, S James the Great, Compostella ... how often have I sat, perhaps for half an hour or more, just gazing at wonder at the great Portico de la Gloria in Compostella Cathedral. Not, of course, that I've ever been to Spain. Indeed, I don't think I've ever knowingly entered His Most Catholic Majesty's domains at all ... unless the old embassy church of S James, Spanish Place, counts, with its Spanish royal banner just waiting for the parish priest to haul it up the flagpost if he gets a sudden email warning him that the King's Majesty is on his way to pay a visit.

If you can't afford, given the present ruinous state of the exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro, to go to Spain, you can contemplate the Portico de la Gloria ... and Hadrian's column ... and the Plantagenet tombs at Fontevrault ... and the main door of Arles Cathedral ... simply by visiting the Casts Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

And, as we all know, for those who can't afford a holiday in Italy, there is always the Oratory Church next to the V and A. And, for those who can't afford a visit to France, there is the Racine Restaurant.

23 July 2017


Again, I am taking a week off from moderating and enabling comments. I shall endeavour to give you something to read each day, but I shall read none of any comments you may submit until mid-July. Nor shall I be reading emails or checking the blogosphere!

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (5)

A little more about Paragraph 57 (2) of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

"Salva tamen sit semper sit cuique sacerdoti facultas Missam singularem celebrandi ..."

[Abbott: "Nevertheless, each priest shall always retain his right to celebrate Mass individually ..."] 

I dealt last time with the Hermeneutical Miracle, the Circaean Touch in the iniquitous daraft Working Paper, whereby this Conciliar mandate is metamorphosed into meaning "A priest may only withdraw from concelebrating in order to serve the needs of the Laity". I want to emphasise this morning that the Suppressio veri and Suggestio falsi involved here are so shameless as, in effect, to constitute barefaced lies.

Vatican II is clearly preserving here a right which the clergy had before the Council. While permitting Concelebration, with the limitations made clear in Paragraph 57 (Maundy Thursday, Councils, Ordinations and abbatial Blessings, other occasions to which the Ordinary has explicitly consented), it is also preserving an existing right. As Canon 902 in turn puts it,

" ... integra tamen pro singulis libertate manente Eucharistiam individuali modo celebrandi ..."

["... for each and every priest, the freedom remains intact of celebrating the Eucharist in the individual way ..."]

Notice manente. The liberty remains. Notice integra. It remains intact. In other words, the pre-Conciliar freedom is not abrogated. It is preserved, it is set in stone.

Not even the dodgy group which put together this disgraceful Working Paper could go so far as to rewrite History and to claim that, before the Council, 'private Masses' were forbidden or discouraged. They were an integral part of universal priestly culture in the Latin Church. They were vigorously defended by Pius XII (Mediator Dei) in 1947, who explicitly condemned the very errors now resurrected by the draft Working Paper (I will quote him in my final piece).

And, less than two decades after the teaching of Pius XII, the Council, followed by the Novus Ordo Missal, and, a few years after that, the Conciliar Code of Canon Law, all carefully and unambiguously preserved his right to every priest of the Latin Churches. How decisive and repeated does the Magisterium of the Church have to be before the wayward and the heterodox take notice of it? Why are curial departments so cluttered up with the wayward and the heterodox?

But what the H**l: if one is part of a Vatican culture engaged on the exciting and far-reaching project of subverting the Sacrament (and Natural Institution) of Holy Matrimony, one is hardly going to draw the line at telling a few lies in order to put a stop to private masses and the Extraordinary Form.

To be concluded.

22 July 2017

Noli me tangere

In the 9th Reading at Mattins on this feast of S Mary Magdalene, we find S Augustine writing about the Woman Who Was A Sinner: "If such a woman had approached the feet of that pharisee, he would have been about to say what Isaias says about such people "Go away from me, do not touch me, for I am clean" [Recede a me, noli me tangere, quoniam mundus sum".

This seems eerily similar to what the Lord says to Mary of Magdala in the Garden; in a passage of which the commentators make heavy weather (no, this is not an invitation for everybody to write in with their own favourite explanation of that crux interpretum).

Is this just the wildest of strange coincidences, or could there just possibly be something worth sorting out here?

What is the reference in Isaias?

21 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (4)

You will have been asking: does this Working Paper forget to mention the explicit words of Sacrosanctum Concilium, of the liturgical books, and of the Code of Canon Law, which secure to a presbyter his right (facultas) of celebrating a private (singularis) Mass?

Not a bit of it. To be fair, it grasps that problem very firmly and with both hands. It quotes it, gives the references, and then this is what it says (the highlighting is in the original draft):

Il criterio fondamentale che giustifica la celebrazione individuale nello stesso giorno nel quale la Chiesa o la comunita propone la concelebrazione e quando il beneficio dei fedeli lo richieda o lo consigli.

(The fundamental criterion which justifies individual celebration on the same day on which the Church or the community proposes concelebration is when the benefit of the faithful requests or advises it.)

Yes. I thought that would take your breath away. I really do not think it necessary for me to labour the nastiness of this ... and its cleverness in seeking to prevent young priests from saying their daily Mass. It completely perverts the plain and contextual meaning of the Council, the rubrics, and Canon Law.

Another anxiety: papal and curial documents like to build up a 'position' by citing previous documents, regarded as precedents. If the Congregation for Clergy gets away with this cheap dodge, there is every risk that their enactment will be littered around in the footnotes of future repressive documents until we are told that it has become the Church's settled position.

I will merely add that the Working Paper does not deal with another right canonically secured to every presbyter of the Roman Rite: that of celebrating a private mass daily in the Extraordinary Form (vide the opening sections of Summorum Pontificum). If the Working Paper had taken up this question, doubtless its conclusion would have been just as clever and equally nasty.

I have one more piece (5) about this a nasty document put together by a nasty group in pursuance of a nasty plot. After that, my final piece (6) on this subject will throw the windows wide open to the clean fresh air of the wholesome paradosis of our wonderful Western and Latin Christendom. It will contain extensive quotations from somebody whom I consider one of the great theologians of the last century, whom I knew and whose teachings greatly influenced my own vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. So hang on there: something good is on the way

To be continued.

20 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (3)

Today: a couple of dogs that failed to bark in the night.

(1) Dog A is the CDW, still nominally under the direction of the disgraced not-sufficiently-bergoglian Cardinal Sarah. There is no evidence in the Working Paper which we are considering that the CDW was consulted. Yet the Working Paper is exclusively about a liturgical matter! Here we have another example of bergoglian method: the dodge of not entrusting something to an actually relevant dicastery. There would, you see, be the terrible risk that they might not come up with the right answer. After all, the Holy Father told Sarah to change the rules concerning the Maundy Thursday pedilavium and Sarah did nothing until, a year later, Bergoglio kicked him. Sarah then did as he was told but made it public that he was acting under duress. Just so, Amoris laetitia was presented to the Press by the Graf von Schoenborn and not by the (then) Cardinal Prefect of the CDF. Far, far safer! Gerhard is so, so off message!

(2) Dog B is the Divine Office. True, the Working Paper we are currently considering is, according to its explicit heading, concerned with Concelebration. But the closely connected question of the common recitation of the Divine Office cannot be irrelevant here. The Institutio Generalis de Liturgia Horarum makes clear (paragraphs 9 and 20) the great desirability of the common recitation of the Offoce. And it draws upon the same advice of Sacrosanctum Concilium which the Working Paper on Concelebration mentions. Why does the Congregatio pro clericis not allude to this?

I think the reasons for this deafening silence are practical and obvious. Any attempt to force student clergy in Roman Colleges to celebrate (ex. gr.) Lauds, Vespers, and the Office of Readings and Compline in common would probably lead to a general insurrection. The Offices in the Liturgy of the Hours are short and the daily pensum could probably be got through by an individual, moving his lips silently, in less than a total of twenty minutes. The Office need cause very little interruption to the working life of a priest or student. But if one had to stop what one was doing, go to chapel, and sing the texts, they would take up very much more time. I'm not denying that this might be a good thing ... I haven't forgotten the view of S Benedict that the the opus Dei should take priority over everything ... I'm simply saying that the students, being only human, might not all embrace it with equal enthusiasm ... I mean, they would cut up rough.

So ... the drafters of the Working Paper decided to let that potentially irritable Sleeping Dog lie. After all, Who Cares? Our priority, they mused, is to put a stop to this pernicious practice of all these disgraceful young priests getting out of bed early and slipping off before breakfast to access an altar on which to celebrate that Extraordinary Form which the current pope so dislikes; which encapsulates an entire attitude to Priesthood and to life which he fears and loaths.

To be continued.

19 July 2017

Quaestiones caninae diesque

A priest of my acquaintance has recently acquired a new dog, a Rottweilerish mongrel with a rather uncertain temper. (The animal has none of the refinement of His Feline Eminence Cardinal Pushkin up the Hagley Road.)

He calls it Francis or, when stroking it or wobbling its dewlaps, Santo Padre.

Are these canonical offences?

When one hears Father calling his new pet by name, should one doff ones biretta? Or bow the head as one does ad nomen Summi Pontificis in the Te igitur?

More dogs tomorrow. If you like, you can call these the Dog Days. The already drafted post on Hesiod which you all await will eventually follow, probably on September 5.

Tomorrow, Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (3).

18 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (2)

I do not know whence this proposal ultimately arises, but it seems to me to bear all the hallmarks of the current regime. We have come to recognise the methodology of Bergoglian realpolitik. "Doctrine is not changed", and so a document like Amoris laetitia may even contain an explicit assertion of the indissolubilty of Marriage ... several hundred pages apart from rhe deft little footnote, or the crafty ambiguity, by which this doctrine may in practice be set aside. Episcopal Conferences may not have been formally given the right to attack the Sacrament of Marriage, but nods, winks, and private letters single out those Conferences which Have Got the Message.

This is a culture in which Cardinal Sarah has not been sacked, but he is publicly humiliated and neutered by having his colleagues and staff sacked and replaced by bergoglians ( I except from this generalisation Bishop Alan Hopes who, being a former Anglican, has sound and orthodox liturgical instincts).

So it is with the proposal that priests in the Roman Colleges should be bullied into forgoing their canonical right to celebrate individually the Holy Eucharist. Summorum Pontificum is not set aside, but it is circumvented.

Not that this document explicitly mentions Summorum Pontificum, or indeed the Extraordinary Form. It is far too cunning to do that. But this is what it is all about. Consider:  
since Concelebration is permitted in the Novus Ordo, but (except at Ordinations) forbidden in the Classical Roman Mass, 
and since the readers are repeatedly told that the young men must be intimidated into prefering Concelebration, 
what we have in this draft document is, in practical, political terms, a major initiative to prevent the use of the Extraordinary Form by "student priests".

Doubtless it is hoped that the provisions of this illiberal document will spread, particularly in places under the watchful eye of rigidly bergoglianist bishops.

To be continued.

17 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (1)

Readers will be familiar with the document described recently by Professor Roberto de Mattei on the Rorate Blog, designed to intimidate those who work in the Roman Colleges into concelebrating, rather than celebrating 'private' Masses.

Many, including of course the admirable and indefatigable Archibloggopoios Fr Zed, have pointed out that this represents a direct and shameless attack on a right embodied in the direct enactment of an Ecumenical Council, in Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II. This is a particularly unscrupulous example of the practice of citing Vatican II, or its Spirit, when it suits a writer; and of ignoring or misrepresenting its explicit mandates when they are inconvenient. But more about this in a later section of this series.

However, I do urge readers to take courage from this offensive, intolerant, and thoroughly nasty draft Working Paper, because it proves that They are worried. Indeed, They have every reason to be anxious. Young priests, and Seminarians, are overwhelmingly either in favour of Tradition, or are at least tolerant of it. Increasingly, one hears those cheerful gusts of laughter as the younger clergy reflect on the certainty that Age and our Beloved Sister Death will solve the problem of the bigotted generation currently in the ascendancy. As our late Holy Father Pope emeritus Benedict enigmatically pointed out to Bergoglio's new cardinals, God wins in the end. Indeed he does. We may have another decade or two to work and suffer through, until the Cupich generation is itself called to its reward, but it can prudently be predicted that the End is now in sight, that the light can finally be discerned, even if only dimly, at the end of the tunnel.

We should also take heart from the sense of panic manifested in that other recent repressive proposal, that Transitional Deacons, having worked in a parish, should need a positive votum from "the laity" before they procede to the presbyterate. This actually constitutes an attack upon the Sacrament of Holy Order, because it implies that men who felt a call to priestood might be marooned in a diaconate to which they had never felt permanently called. Would their oath of Celibacy be dispensed? Whoever dreamed up this piece of discrimination evidently believes that the Grace of the Holy Spirit for the Order of Deacon in the Church of God is a piece of rubbish that can easily and conveniently be dumped. Of course, saying this does not mean that one mistrusts the Laity. It means that one has the sense to realise that, under the current ascendancy, a faction of the Laity will be used ... abused ... as a manipulative tool for keeping out of the priesthood many young men who believe in priesthood. "My dear boy, I'm terribly sorry ... if it were just left to me ... but the Laity have spoken ... What did you say? How many of them? What percentage? Now really! Be reasonable! You can't expect us to conduct an actual vote, can you ...". Remember what happened at Maynooth last year when the 'formators' tried to chuck out almost an entire year because they didn't like their attitudes.

The last occasion on which I concelebrated a Novus Ordo  Mass was a couple of years ago; a keen and hardworking young priest ... not an Extraordinary Form type but what I think of as 'Wojtyla loyalist' ... was hounded out of his parish by a lay faction. Blame me if you will, but I felt compelled, out of priestly solidarity, to go along and concelebrate with him his last Mass in his parish.

It does not take much imagination to guess what such factions would do if given the power currently being discussed. Remember the Irish diocese in which, four or five years ago, even the diocesan Bishop was himself bullied by such people into abandoning his proposal to introduce Permanent Deacons. It was felt that this would reinforce the Patriarchy of the clerical state. The ultimate ambition, of course, is to introduce women priests or, failing that, to ensure that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is replaced by lay-led communion services ... or worse ...

To be continued.

16 July 2017


Liturgia Horarum or Breviarium Romanum? A case could be made either way. The LH has advantages. It was a good idea to make the Office of Readings something that could be flexibly disposed of at any time of day (the General Instruction actually allows it after Vespers of the day before); and so to make it less of a burden to those who are not required by monastic discipline to rise in the middle of the night. Prime clutter up the start of the day for a secular priest, suitable though it is for the monastic way of life. And Terce, Sext, and None can be difficult for those with a mobile lifestyle. Breviaries, even if small enough to cram into a pocket, are quite a weight to lug around. The old office was never perfect for the secular priest. This is shown by the fact that, de facto, he used to say it in amalgamated lumps, without any regard to the Authenticity of Time. And if you belonged to the right priestly associations, you even had faculties to say Lauds from midday the day before. The Office was regarded as a Legal Obligation To Be Fulfilled and not at all as the sanctifying of each hour by its proper Liturgy.

But LH has its very real and quite considerable disadvantages and difficulties. The main problem is the usual one: the Bugninides were never content to go for a minimalist organic evolution and improvement of what we inherited. Once they felt the wind in their sails, like all Committee-liturgists they couldn't stop just cramming in all the 'good ideas' that anybody round the table could dream up. So the psalms at Lauds and Vespers were reduced from five to two; contrary to the immemorial tradition of the Roman Rite, 'New Testament Canticles' were crammed in; those dreadful 1960s-style intercessions were confected.

Another case for using the LH is that S Pius X had already upset the immemorially ancient Roman distribution of the psalms; and Urban VIII had corrupted the texts of the Office Hymns (LH restores many of these in their original, ancient, texts).

I would only point out
(1) that it is legitimate to use the LH, but for Vespers on Sundays and Festivals, to say the BR. That is the one service which survived almost unchanged the redistribution of the psalter under Pius X. 1962 Sunday Vespers is the only surviving Office in an authorised form of the Roman Rite which S Benedict or Augustine, Anselm, Lanfranc, or Pole or S Edmund Campion, would comfortably recognise; and
(2) that the same is true of Sunday and Festival Lauds, if one is prepared to expand the S Pius X provision of psalms so as to include the three he missed out (see beneath).

The original Lauds psalms were (Vulgate numbering):
62+66 with one concluding Gloria Patri.
148+149+150 with one concluding Gloria Patri.

15 July 2017

Who does the Intercession in the modern rites?

Who should do the Intercession? The Pauline Rite says that the 'priest' is in charge (moderari); that he invites the Faithful to pray; that he concludes it with a collect (oratione). But it is suitable (expedit) for the 'intentiones' to be done by the Deacon, a cantor, 'vel ab alio'. It has been the custom in televised papal liturgies for a variety of laypeople in a variety of langages to give the intentions. Common Worship cheerfully regards 'leading the prayers of intercession' as part of 'The ministry of the members of the congregation'.

The fine Ordinariate Missal, on the other hand, provides several intercessions. These are done by the Priest; or by the Deacon; or, in one case, by a Reader. That seems right to me. But to be honest, I must admit that the rubric at the top of the Appendix (4) does say that one of the forms provided 'may', not 'must', be used. So there is, sadly, a loophole. The Intercession, incidentally, is optional on weekdays.

In the earlier Roman Rite, the Solemn Prayers (surviving on Good Friday) were done by the Deacon giving the people an intention; after a silence the Pontiff sang a collect. The Deprecatio papae Gelasii divided the giving of the Intentions between Deacon and Schola - and the people responded Kyrie eleison. But at one stage it appears that within the Eucharistic Prayer the deacon read the Memento and Memento etiam. In the Byzantine Rite the Deacon proclaims the Intentions and the people reply with Kyrie eleison.

I would be interested to know what conclusions others would daw from this or from other evidence. It seems to me that the practice of leaving the Intercession to some lay person both to write and to deliver receives no support from ancient precedent and rather little from modern Roman legislation. The celebrant should be in charge and the the rite should not be regarded as a moment of informality in the Mass: as though we heave a sigh of relief and thank God for giving us a few moments of freedom in which we are not dominated by hieratic ministers and hieratic ritual. The Intercession should be conspicuously part of the official worship of the Church.

12 July 2017

Cranmer, the Ancient Fathers, and the Ordinariate Missal

The Anglican Patrimony is and was a strange thing ...

Most of the Reformation ecclesial bodies took as normative the Bible, the Early Church, and, to provide a 'hermeneutic' (after all, both Bible and Early Church can be differently interpreted by different people) a normative theological interpreter: it might be Luther; or there is always Calvin; or whoever. But the Church of England never had a hermeneutic; we have no Reformation guru (like Luther for Lutherans) who, if you can find evidence in his werke , trumps all arguments. So we were left with just Bible and Early Church and, if you will forgive me for saying so, the Grace of God..

When poor Dr Cranmer composed his Liturgy there was not a lot of evidence about how the Early Church actually did worship. Despite his threefold appeal to 'the auncient fathers' in the preface to the 1549 book, we now know that in that and subsequent books a lot of primitive baby got thrown out and a lot of medieval bathwater got retained. This became clear over the next 200 years. And, as early liturgical texts gradually emerged from the presses, those who kept their reading up-to-date became aware that Cranmer's Liturgy fell far short of what could be shown to be the'godly order of the auncient fathers'.

This left two possibilities: the Protestant option: Cranmer's Liturgy may not be primitive but it is scriptural and that rules, OK; the Catholic option; his Rite must be reformed in accordance with what is now known about the worship of the Early Church, if we are to be faithful to what he himself set as his gold-standard. So, in the 1630s, Laud's Scottish colleagues gave Scotland a Prayer book revised in accordance with 'primitive' precedent; and in the 1660s some bishops did the same in England by restoring the'Prayer of Oblation' to immediately after the 'Prayer of Consecration'. Edward Stephens  went much further. Arguing that the Cranmerian Liturgy was imposed by Parliament and had never had approval from the Church [just as the twentieth century papalists like Fr Alban Baverstock were to argue], he asked 'Whether .. one having knowledge ... ought or may use this imperfect and disordered Form, or comply with it, by reason of any Humane Law, or of his own Subscripton .. '. To his own question he gave a decidedly negative answer: 'all, who have any regard to their Baptismal Covenant and Renunciation therein of the Devil and all his works [he had come to regard Cranmer's texts as an opus Diaboli].... if they be Priests , must celebrate this Holy Sacrifice ... in the compleatest form they can procure ...'. And in his own liturgical forms he did just that: using Eastern material to supplement Cranmer's texts.

The later eighteenth century Anglican Catholic ritualists, such as the Non-Jurors (those ejected from the C of E for refusing to swear allegiance to the Orange Usurper after the Dutch Invasion of 1688) did the same; during that century there was an assumption that the newly discovered early Eastern liturgical forms were 'more primitive' than Western forms such as the Canon of the Roman Mass. The Victorian Ritualists knew better, and a succession of Altar Books increasingly supplemented Cranmer with Roman material (sometimes diplomatically described as 'Sarum'). This tradition of Altar Books culminated in the English Missal, which dominated Anglo-Catholicism until, after the Council, it lost its nerve and aped the progressive liturgical corruptions adopted by 'Rome'. Our Ordinariate Missal is, of course, the final and splendid product of the English Missal tradition.

Is there any other of the 'Reformation' ecclesial bodies which has had such a succession of theologians and liturgists, since the 1630s, who assented to papal primacy, discarded Reformation texts or supplemented them with ancient liturgical texts, believed in the full reality of the Lord's presence in the Eucharist, believed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, offered it daily or weekly?

11 July 2017


One of the suggestions doing the rounds about how we can let the 'New Rite' improve the 'Old' is the incorporation of some of the collects from Sanctorale of the new. This is because the collects in the post-Conciliar books refer to the biography or charism of a saint much more closely than do most of the collects in the 'Tridentine' books, and often do so quite neatly.

I don't want to be absolutist and dogmatic on this point. Some of the new collects are indeed fine (I had better make it clear that I am refering to the Latin originals, not the old ICEL parodies). If the two uses of the Roman Rite are to converge and eventually coalesce, I'll put in a vote for S Joseph's new collect: an elegant, slinky, almost Leonine piece of Latinity.

But I would not favour a doctrinaire replacement of all or even many of the old Sanctorale collects by the new biographical ones. My reasons are quite simple: (1) I am in favour of cultural diversity and inclusivity in Liturgy. A rite should not too closely reflect the fashions of any one particular phase in its history. And the preference for 'biographical' collects is a phase, a phashion, and even a phad. (2) The most important thing about the saints is that they are our fellows now; not dead figures in the past with whom the only relationship that we can have is that of recollection and emulation. As the Communicantes and Nobis quoque make clear, we seek the protection of their prayers, and admission into their consortium. And let's be frank about it: even when the facts about a Saint are clear and authentic, it is often far from obvious that we should imitate them. One of the most embarassing sermons I ever heard was by a daft bishop who told a Public School congregation, invoking the example of S Francis, that if their bishop told them to take all their clothes off, they should do so. (He is now completing a well-deserved prison sentence.) No: our relationship with the Saints should be that of fellowship, and the old collects of the Roman Rite expressed and emphasised this by their constant requests to God for the help of the prayers of the Saints. That is why it is not even the end of the world if one has to use the collects from the communia from time to time.

Again, I am not going to be absolutist here. But it seems to me that the preference for 'biographical' collects has a lot to do with the exaggerated historicism which led medieval hagiographers, when they couldn't find facts, to elaborate romances. This even tripped up no lesser liturgist than Dr Cranmer. In composing his first (1549) Prayer Book, he was faced with an ancient collect for S Andrew which in effect asked God that the Saint might continue his Apostolic ministry of preaching and ruling by being now our perpetuus intercessor. Poor Protty Cranmer couldn't allow that, so he composed a new collect refering to the Saint's 'sharp and painful death of the crosse'. It was one of the old boy's oops-a-daisy moments; he soon realised (or did one of his hatchet-jawed teutonic mentors waspishly point it out to him?) that S Andrew's cross was an unbiblical legend. So in his 1552 book this had to be replaced with something appropriately biblical about the protoclete.

10 July 2017

Country churches galore

Waterstock Church: late fifteenth century glass, of donors. Originally associated with figures of Ss Mary, Ignatius, and Swithun. Here, as so commonly, it was not the Reformation that led to the disappearance of so much glass; it was not even the Puritans; it was weather and the decay of centuries.

A brief look at Pevsner had made me, schoolmaster to my fingertips, classify Waterstock church as Beta Triple Minus. Waterperry, before I actually visited it, I had down as Alpha triple minus; but two of those minuses were undeserved. It goes from Saxon chancel arch to Georgian monument in Francis Chantrey's best style (the Chantrey who worked for Lord Egremont at Petworth). Three-decker pulpit and box pews survive; spectacular brasses (one palimpsest); well preserved medieval glass, including the gorgeous arms of Saunders (per chevron sable and argent, three elephants' heads counterchanged, armed ... or should I blazon tusked? ... or).

The palimpsest brass encapsulated the history of the looting of the Church of England by the Tudors: the original brass was early fifteenth century and was in the Austin friary of Christ Church in London - sold, upon the suppression in 1532, as scrap - recut for Sir Walter Curson (who had died in 1527) for his grave in the Austin Friary in Oxford (of which he was a benefactor; Wadham College now stands on the site) - transferred to Waterperry upon its dissolution in 1539.

But most poignant was some Georgian Gothick panelling at the back of the church. Waterperry was one of the great Recusant centres in the Oxfordshire countryside, and this panelling was ejected from the manor house when the Recusant Curson family expired and their domestic chapel in the house was closed down.

Later occupants discovered the graves, within the house, of Catholic clergy buried secretly during the penal period.

I wonder how common this was. 

8 July 2017

Ratzinger on Traditional Liturgy

 Here is what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1998.

" ... It is good here to recall what Cardinal Newman observed*, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church. An orthodox liturgy, that is to say, one which expresses the true faith, is never a compilation made according to the pragmatic criteria of different ceremonies, handled in a positivist and arbitrary way, one way today and another way tomorrow. The orthodox forms of a rite are living realities, born out of the dialect of love between the Church and her Lord. They are expressions of the life of the Church, in which are distilled the faith, the prayer, and the very life of past generations, and which make incarnate in specific forms both the action of God and the response of man. Such rites can die, if those who have used them in a particular era should disappear, or if the life-situation of those same people should change. The authority of the church had the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them!"


*Can anyone provide a reference to this?

All italics are mine.

7 July 2017

The Real Importance of Summorum Pontificum

A glorious day: the tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, when Pope Benedict XVI made clear that, juridically, the Missal of S Pius V was never lawfully abolished.

I do not dissent from that judgement ... far from it. But I think that, as well as giving the Latin Church that canonical clarification, Pope Benedict gave the Church Universal an even more important theological teaching. I tried to explain this in 2011, in a piece examining and rejecting the views of a canonist called Chad Gendinning. He, like some other canonists, had written critically about the assertion, in Summorum pontificum, that the Vetus Ordo had never been lawfully abolished.

My assertion is that Pope Benedict was arguing, as I would argue, that a pope ... any pope ... cannot abolish the classical Roman Rite. An attempt to do so, in other words, would be ultra vires just as it is beyond the competence of any pope to change the Canon of Scripture.

Here, slightly adjusted, is what I wrote.


Chad Glendinning quotes A S Sanchez-Gil as feeling that the Roman Missal, along with other liturgical books, cannot be reduced to a collection of liturgical laws. This is along the right lines, but does not, I feel, go nearly far enough. The great Anglican liturgist Prebendary Michael Moreton saw the Canon Romanus - if I understood him aright in the six years during which we conversed - as being in a position not unlike that of the Canon of Scripture; a given in the Tradition which it is not for us to treat as disposable. He spoke of the Canon as having auctoritas given to it by tradition, which far surpasses the merely canonical, legalistic, authorisation, which fly-by-night 'Eucharistic Prayers' composed by the Top Experts of one single decade might have. I think it may be a coincidence that his term auctoritas occurs also in John Paul II's instruction Ecclesia Dei. It is a profound term with roots deep in the sense of the Orthodox as well as of Traditionalist Catholics that there are weightier imperatives than Canon Law. I remind you of the startling fact that the then Patriarch of Moskow welcomed Summorum pontificum as an ecumenically positive action.

Glendinning had informed us that Summorum pontificum, if it is not an "imprecise use of canonical terminology" was "a rather overt denunciation of the pope's predecessors and of the praxis curiae". In a funny sort of way, I think this last bit is right. Benedict XVI was superseding the assumptions underlying the enactments of his predecessor Paul VI, and, unobserved by Glendinning, he was doing so on grounds which he had previously, before his election to the See of Peter, explained thoroughly lucidly. Papa Ratzinger even restated those views of Cardinal Ratzinger, in the Letter to Bishops which accompanied Summorum pontificum: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden forbidden". Note Cannot! We are talking about non potests rather than non licets. We are talking about what it is not within the competence of a pope to do.

As for curial enactments, well, I think it has to be pointed out that the pope is not only, as Glendinning concedes, the Supreme Legislator, but, as Vatican I defined, also the Supreme Judge of the Church. If his statements in Summorum pontificum went contrary to what Roman dikasteries had prescribed or implied, this was surely analogous to a court of appeal overriding an earlier judgement by a legislator of inferior jurisdiction. J Baldovini, quoted by Glendinning, wrote that "even someone with supreme legislative authority cannot undo historic facts". But Benedict XVI was not misdescribing (or even describing) historical facts, I suggest, but defining what the deepest law of the Church is. He based himself upon a view of history, Theology, and law which was broader than the juridical bases of those previous enactments. That is in fact what makes his declaration so significant; so much more in line with a Catholic - and Orthodox - and Anglo-Catholic - concept of Liturgy.

Benedict XVI identified (not created) a Principle deeper than mere legislation; a Law even deeper than the law; to the effect that "what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too". This is not so much a canonical principle as a statement of a theological truth ineradicably inscribed in the very nature itself of the Church Militant. It is what Moreton and I have called auctoritas. Papa Ratzinger concluded that "it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful".

It is worth remembering this in a post-Benedictine era. Subsequent legislators cannot legislate to abolish this datum because, established as it is in immutable historical facts, it is not accessible to the pen of a legislator. Summorum Pontificum, qua legislation, is itself no more immutable than other piece of legislation.  

But the Principle underlying it is one of those principles which are integral to the life of the Church; unchangeably part of it for ever.

5 July 2017

Recusant Ickford

Ickford is only a couple of miles along the River Thame from the recusant centre at Waterperry. Ickford church has a number of monuments to the Phillips family, who seem to have oscillated between being Recusants and Church Papists. Fr Thomas Phillips, in the first part of the eighteenth century, joined the Society of Jesus; I feel he was a man after my own heart, because he developed a great love for teaching the Humanities. When his superiors refused his plea to be allowed to teach a course in that subject, in a fit of pique he left the Society and acquired the patronage of King Charles III. The King secured him a canonry at Tongres and a dispensation to apply its income to his work in the English Mission. He ended his life chaplaining in great Catholic houses, such as that of the Earls of Shrewsbury; among his works was a lengthy biography of Cardinal Pole. Perhaps we could see him as a link between the dangerous recusancy of the seventeenth century and the first glimmerings of the catholic revival which was to happen in the nineteenth; and as a precursor of learned gentleman clergy in the English Catholic Church, such as Lingard and Tierney and Oliver.

4 July 2017

Country church-crawling

Ickford Church has wonderful vibes. Its Rector, 1911-1933, was Canon Vernon Staley, author of The Catholic Religion. This was a standard manual for Anglo-Catholics in the first part of the twentieth century, and went into a number of editions. Staley was pre-papalist; for example, he believed that our Lady was purified before her birth rather than conceived Immaculate. I suppose he would have been at home, dogmatically, in the forteenth century. Not good enough, I absolutely agree. But then, I gather that one Hans Kueng, despite his noisy heresies, still holds an unrevoked celebret. Is it really so very much better to devote a long life to subverting the Faith from within the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church than to work unremittingly outside those boundaries to teach the common people of England a version of the Faith with which S Thomas Aquinas might not have had much of a problem?

Staley was apparently not untouched by the more developed Catholicism of the later twentieth century; he secured Sir Ninian 'Patrimony' Comper to work on the glass at Ickford. A window depicting S Bede the Venerable is said to have Staley's own face. But Fr and Mrs Staley had a great grief. Their only son, aged 19, was killed in the last six weeks of the First World War. A candelabrum (with adjacent Latin inscription) hangs as a memorial; a Comper window of S John Baptist commemorates him (was the Baptist's face based on that of young Staley?); and a three-light Comper window, our Lady between two sainted soldier princes, is in his honour. Before he went back to the front for the last time, the young man coloured a representation of the royal arms which his father had carved (Canon Staley also himself carved the font cover and the tester over the altar).

Ickford retained Comper's services after Staley's death; a good window of S Thomas More, 1947. Perhaps Thomas Batterbury was responsible; a brass tablet commemorating him (1959) offers two Sapphic stanzas in honour of the Saint:

Te Pater, Thomas tuus adiuvante
pertulit duras hilaris catenas,
pertulit mortis faciem imminentis

Cuius exemplum doceat fideles
ut petant laetis animis coronam;
sic in aeternae veniamus omnes
gaudia vitae.

Not great poetry; but unusually late for Latin verse in a monument; and an uncommon metre for this purpose. I wonder what the old school-marm of Lesbos would have made of it. And, most satisfying, these two stanzas and the window above them would have had Henry Tudor spitting nails ...

Beta double plus.

Oops ... I forgot the Recusant aspects of Ickford church. I'll polish that off a little later.

3 July 2017

Abuse of Faith

The Report of the Enquiry set up by the Church of England into the doings of the sexual predator Bishop Peter Ball has emerged in not much more than a year, and it is blisteringly frank. The Church of England, in my view, has acted extremely wisely in securing this Report and in hanging so very much dirty washing on its line.  In view of the horrors which the Report itemises, it would be tactless to call all this a Good Result; but, given the basic enormity of the situation, I think the C of E has done very well.

But ... I do rather wonder about the subsequent singling out of Archbishop emeritus of Canterbury George Carey for every last refinement of ritual humiliation.

His reputation is already in shreds. But he is not a bad man; simply a stupid one. Ball, and his brother Bishop Michael Ball (against whom there is no evidence of abusive behaviour), were (as the Report makes clear) extraordinarily plausible and endlessly manipulative. They were able to run rings round poor Carey. One conclusion might be: it is a very bad idea to appoint someone as profoundly foolish to senior management in any organisation, especially an ecclesial body. But it is rather ugly to do so and then to give such a man a good kicking when he is down.

After all, it appears that some other individuals and bodies fall rather short of the standard of frankness wisely demonstrated by the C of E. The Enquiry had no power to sub poena individuals or organisations or their records; and one police force simply declined to collaborate. So did Ball's identical twin Michael. The CPS decided finally not to press charges concerning abuse of those beneath the age of consent, thus, potentially, enabling Ball to get away with a much shorter sentence. Understandably, some victims feel aggrieved about this. It is, surely, not too late to try Ball for these even more serious allegations.

Furthermore, Carey was not the only fool to be taken in by the craft and guile of an immensely cunning sexual criminal. The Great and the Good of the British Establishment were helpless suckers for the Ball 'magic'. Such people included the Prince of Wales, a High Court Judge and a raft of risibly gullible Public School head masters, who, more than a decade after Ball accepted a Police Caution and thereby admitted his abusive behaviour (1993), were still clamouring to get this 'charismatic' and 'approachable' figure to visit their schools and enjoy unsupervised contact with pupils. These naive dupes, like Carey, accepted the narrative of the Ball brothers that he was 'basically innocent'; that he had been 'set up'; that he had accepted the Police Caution only in order "to spare the Church the embarrassment of a trial". Shouldn't such individuals also suffer some reputational disadvantage? Dim daft Carey, I fear, is the working class boy who is being hung out to dry by an Establishment which is well protected by its ancient lore of how a chap covers his own back.

Lastly, two examples from closer home, of the evasion of negative consequences for past misjudgements:

Has the CBCEW ever published a report on who knew about Bishop Kieran Conry's womanising; and. most particularly, how early they knew about it? My impression is that the main desire has been to move on.

Our Holy Father appointed to his Synod on the Family a Cardinal notorious for having tried to cover up abuse by a fellow bishop, abuse which concerned that bishop's own nephew. (Yes; it would be funny if it were not so nasty.)

Such breath-taking hubris.