30 September 2017

The Collect

Christine Mohrmann (whom I usually praise to the skies) provided this translation of the Collect in the Tridentine Missal for Pentecost 17:
Grant we beseech you O Lord that your people may avoid the temptations of the devil, and with pure minds follow you the only God.
Cranmer (1549) rendered it thus, from Trinity 18 in the Sarum Missal:
Lord we beseech thee grant thy people grace to avoid the infections of the Devil and with pure heart and mind to follow thee the only God.

Here is the Latin original as provided by S Pius V:
Da quaesumus Domine populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia, et te solum Deum pura mente sectari.

I just love the way Cranmer kept the idea of diabolical Evil as a contagion or infection which we catch and pass on. The 1662 Prayer Book, followed by Mohrmann, mess this up. But there are hundreds of sermons in it.

29 September 2017

Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear Fear

I must declare an interest. Fr Ray Blake, blogger and priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, is a very dear friend as well as being a brother priest whom I admire. On the happy morning after the happy day when I entered the Presbyterate of the Ordinariate, he graciously joined me in Brompton as I offered my first Holy Mass in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, at that marvellous pietra dura Lady Altar from Brescia with the statue of S Pius V to its right. And at lunch ...

He has also proved himself a good friend of the Ordinariate. He fosters by God's grace vocations to the priesthood. He reaches out to the poor ... I could go on.

Many readers have already commented on his most recent blogpost. This is how Father begins.

"I have been asked to sign the Filial Correction. I signed the letter of the 45 academics and pastors last year and almost immediately found Cardinal Nichols' tanks parked on my lawn to inform me of his displeasure ..."

It gets even more readable as it goes on. I am now convinced: there are better things to do than signing the Filial Correction. Fr Aidan Nichols demonstrated this when he delivered his St Albans Lecture in August, raising the question of the orthodoxy of passages within Amoris laetitia. A report of his lecture appeared in the Catholic Herald (curiously, the full text of that lecture has not been allowed to enter the public domain). Fr Ray, by publishing his frank and extensive account of the current atmosphere in Jorge Bergoglio's Church, has probably done more good than he could have achieved by merely wielding his signature. Thank you, Father.

Many excellent people have asked me what, in this current crisis, they can do. Well ... just make sure that Fr Ray's post is known far and wide among Catholics, lay, clerical, episcopal. Particularly, were you to hear somebody say that not many clergy signed the Correctio ... let them have it ... that sort of stuff is just plain sick.


You are wasting your time if you submit comments which constitute mindless abuse of the Roman Pontiff. Or if you even suggest that Jorge Bergoglio might not be truly Pope. Personally, I find such things irritating. I spent my entire adult life working for, longing for, unity with the Successor of S Peter. I am not now going to host or tolerate comments which I deem offensive.

Remember that every morning I offer the Holy Sacrifice una cum famulo tuo papa nostro Francisco.

Furthermore, from now onwards I will not enable any suggestion that it might be an option for any Catholic to join another Communion. This blog is not and will not be the aider or abettor of any kind of schismatic thinking.

As Blessed John Henry Newman put it, there is but one fold of the Redeemer.

I am running late this morning ... I never expected retirement to be like this ... and today's blogpost should be up around 1.00 BST. 

28 September 2017

Episcopal Update on Fear

Since I wrote yesterday's post about Fear, the online Catholic Herald has published two commendable pieces on the Correctio filialis. The second, by Fr Andrew Pinsent, a young priest of striking erudition, is one of the most cutting analyses of Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy that I have yet seen.

And I particularly draw your attention to one phrase in the piece by Bishop Gracida, Emeritus of Corpus Christi.

"Perhaps naively, I thought my signature might encourage more bishops to make their views public, and perhaps some will. Many are timid and fearful of retaliation by Rome".

How remarkable. Timid and fearful! Vatican II, we all thought, had raised the dignity of the Episcopate. No longer should a bishop be thought of as a mere Vicar, errand-boy, of the Roman Pontiff. No; they are Successors of the Apostles; big bold men. My goodness me, you should just see their muscles!

Accordingly, certain canonical powers which in the old system had to be periodically regranted to diocesan bishops in their "quinquennial faculties", henceforth became powers inherent in the status of a diocesan bishop. So the old method by which Rome had been able to ... er ... inconvenience recalcitrant bishops, is no longer available. And quite right, too.

But, so a very experienced retired bishop now tells us, in this Pontificate of Mercy bishops are "timid and fearful of retaliation by Rome".

Well, well, well. Who'd have thought it. What exactly are they afraid of? Where exactly does "retaliation" feature in the Lord's teaching? Luke 22:32, perhaps? ("Simon, Simon ... I have prayed for you ... and when you have turned again, retaliate upon your brethren").

I am reminded of the dear old Anglican joke ... stop me if you've heard it before ... yes, we old men are such bores ... about the laying on of hands during Episcopal Consecration.

"What" asks the ubiquitous Tiny Boy, "are they all doing to him?"

(I should explain here to Cradle Catholics that the Anglican tradition most happily preserved the ancient ritual whereby all the Consecrators - they might be a dozen or more - imposed hands simultaneously. It looked rather like a rugger scrum, with the Consecrand submerged in the middle.)

The child's Father explains to him: "They are removing his spine".

27 September 2017

The aetiology and mechanics of Fear

I have taken out a very moving Comment from the last thread; and I reproduce it here, with one or two personal details omitted, so that I can comment on it. My words express only my own views.

"There is another territory to be heard; the diocesan clergy, and I can testify to the fear out there. I feel it myself; ... I entered the diocesan priesthood from Lutheranism ... my decision to sign may come with danger  ... Unfortunately, we live in times of great venality and danger for those who just express simple orthodoxy. Going this next step is necessary but fraught with peril. Cosmas and Damian, Cyprian and Justina, pray for our courage."

Fear, my dear Father? You've certainly put your finger on it there. Perhaps you, like many of us, have spoken with brother priests who work in Rome, and who talk a great deal about the atmosphere of fear which pervades the clergy who serve the Holy See. And, at the risk of breaking secrets, let me tell you about the most striking experience I personally had while we were preparing for the publication of the Correctio: clergy who agreed with it wholeheartedly but feared to take the risk. (But, thanks be to God, the signatories have now risen to 147.)

"Nobody spoke about him with boldness (parrhesia) because of fear ..."(John 7:13). However, "there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear"(I John 4:18).

Fear is quite beautiful, isn't it, as a Satanic operational strategy? The Enemy disseminates Fear. He fills good honest men with guilt because they feel too fearful to do what they know they should do. And then, when the Correctio is published, his ministers sneer as they answer the journalists' questions, and glibly point out how few signatories there are. As Marco Tossati has put it, "Belittle, label, marginalise".

God, our most sweet Creator and Redeemer, works by Love, by the Blood of Christ which streams in the firmament. It is the Enemy who does his work by Fear. Since early in this pontificate, it is Fear, on wings of vituperation, that has cast its shadow.

As the Enemy realises that the Love of Christ is proving too powerful for him, his fury may very well urge him to even greater acts of violence. There may be more to endure before we are finished with it all. But it will be no match for the splendour which will radiate from the right hand of Mary (Fatima, Third Secret).

This is no time to lose our nerve.

26 September 2017

"The Filial Correction" - Some personal reflections (2)

Another significant detail (I give my opinion here purely as an individual) is the adherence to the Correctio of His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Society of S Pius X, and of another priest of that Society.

What cheers me is that the Society is boldly standing up for the Gospel, as, indeed, one would expect the sons of Marcel Lefebvre to do ... and is also taking part in the life of the mainstream Church. It was never the intention of Archbishop Lefebvre that the Society should be a ghetto, even a tolerated ghetto, within the Church. That is why the Society so long (and so ultimately successfully) insisted that every priest of the Latin Church (and not only clergy of tolerated groups) must be known to possess the unfettered right to use the Old Mass.

I do not wish to be unjust to anybody ... and so I apologise if I have missed anything ... but I have not noticed that the Fraternity of S Peter, or the Institute of Christ the King, have been very public in the controversies which have followed the publication of Amoris laetitia. I would yield to no-one in my belief in the primacy of the Liturgy; but liturgical battles are not the only conflicts in which our Holy Father has in effect summoned us to Fight a Good Fight. Of course, responsible superiors have to bear in mind the damage which may be done to their institutions if they fall under the disfavour of heterodox, or just plain nervous, local ordinaries. But, surely, by virtue of our baptism, we still have some  obligation to bear witness to the Gospel in the context of the Universal Church Militant.

Furthermore, the Correctio, based on the Magisterium of two millennia, is also willing to allude in its footnotes to the Magisterial teaching of Vatican II and of the later pontiffs, particularly the doughty Veritatis Splendor of S John Paul II (so disgracefully ignored in Amoris laetitia). The SSPX has been wary of the Magisterium of this period; understandably so. You do not need to remind me of the ambiguities in some documents; of the dangerous hares which were sent running in all sorts of directions. But for those of us in uncomplicated canonical relationships with the Holy See, such documents, in all their unevenness (including, in some cases, facile optimism and deliberately dishonest ambiguities), have been part of the currency in which we have had to do business. I again commend Aidan Nichols' fine and balanced The Council in Question, in which he admits the presence of an element which "occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics". (We have just heard of the death of the admirable Brunero Gherardini, Canon Theologian of S Peter's in Rome, who wrote A much needed discussion, and whose Funeral was yesterday. C.A.P.D..)

I believe that acceptance of this situation ... that, perforce, we talk to each other in a theological dialect which has been influenced by Vatican II and the "Conciliar" popes ... is the substance of the doctrinal requirements which have been made of the SSPX.  Bishop Fellay's participation in doing Theology within this general, if imperfect, context seems to me a sufficient and potent indication that the Society should be given a proper, and protected, and canonical status without further nitpicking.

It is a part of the Catholic Church; it has witnessed with great courage for nearly half century to the Faith once and forever delivered to the Saints. The time has come for it to be seen as an insider, not an outsider, in the momentous debates now happening within the Church Militant; the time for it to be heard.

25 September 2017

"The Filial Correction" ... some personal reflections (1)

Readers, I hope, have read carefully the Filial Correction of the Roman Pontiff.

One point which, speaking only on my own behalf as an individual, I would like to make is this.

The Correctio represents a return to an era of robust and energetic debate between differing theological tendencies, or "schools", within the Church.

It is now very clear that we do indeed again have "schools" ... most conspicuously, a Bergoglianist Party ... in the Latin Church. Just as once we had the Franciscans pitted against the Dominicans ... Jesuits and Jansenists ....

The difference in our present situation is that one of these "schools" or parties - the Bergoglianist - is headed by the Roman Pontiff himself (or else by individuals who have worked themselves into the position of being able to manipulate the papal office). This is confusing; Christifideles are not accustomed to having to make the distinction between what the Pope does as the head of a party; and what he does by virtue of his Petrine Ministry. But we are left with no alternative except to work within this confusing situation. The pope is the boss, and this, clearly, is how he wants things.

Amoris laetitia was obviously not a binding Magisterial document. Papa Bergoglio himself made this near the beginning (Paragraph 3; this sentence, amusingly, appears to constitute one of the most lucid and clear propositional statements in the document!). I quote:
"Confirmare volumus non cunctas doctrinales, morales, vel pastorales disputationes per magisterii declarationes esse absolvendas."

My translation [and comments]: "We [notice the 'majestic', formal plural] wish to confirm [a formal, judicial term] that not all doctrinal, moral, or pastoral disputations [a term redolent of debates between different theological tendencies in the medieval Schools] must be resolved through declarations [a term with a long history in Magisterial documents] of the Magisterium." 

As Cardinal Mueller when Prefect of the CDF made clear, if the pope wished to set aside what his predecessors had formally set in place, he would need to do so with clarity, and to do it explicitly. Pope Francis not only did not do this; he made clear, in the sentence I have just presented, that he had no intention of doing so. 

Those portions of Amoris laetitia which have been demonstrated, at least prima facie, to contradict the Magisterium set in place by recent and earlier popes, are clearly nothing more than statements of the opinions held by (just) one party within the Church Militant here in Earth, the Bergoglianist Party. 

The Correctio filialis takes up the implied invitation by the Holy Father to enter into these disputationes about questions which, in the professed view of him and his party, are unresolved.

And the Correctio participates in this stimulating dialogue by making the counterclaim that particular questions which the Bergoglianist Party regards as still open have in fact already been resolved by the Church's irreformable Magisterium. 

Nothing complicated about all that, is there? 

Fr Michael Moreton

Today is his Year's Mind. May he rest in peace.

24 September 2017

Mary and heresies and the Reign of Sex

I wish all readers a wonderful solemn Day of our Lady of Walsingham. Today is the first time since the erection of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham that our titular Solemnity has come on a Sunday, thus replacing the Sunday Mass. She it is who  Ransomed three Ordinariates out of slavery in (what our other Patron, Blessed John Henry Newman, once called) the House of Bondage.

We are blessed with quite a number of feasts of our Lady at this time of the year. In the Breviary Common of our Lady, there is a phrase that sticks in my mind: one of the antiphons at Mattins credits the Theotokos with "destroying all heresies throughout the world".

This was, of course, particularly true in the period of the first Four Councils, when Arianism and Nestorianism were both put down by the assertion of her title as Mother of God.

But what is the great heresy of our own day? Surely, the Reign of Sex. Pius XI and Paul VI effectively foretold the preoccupations of the current world. Some people, simple souls, believed that pharmaceutical contraception would simply enable nice respectable married couples to ensure nice respectable two year gaps between the nice babies they would have ... nothing more than that.

How naive. How pathetic.

So we now have a culture in which ... but, since you can guess what I'm going to say, I don't need to spell it all out.

And we are told by the current occupant of the Roman bishopric that it is no longer polite to describe adulterous relationships in terms which the adulterers might find upsetting. And we are told by the secular State that, if we are not very careful in what we say, the Diversity Police will come knocking on our doors.

It's not that some new problem has arisen. Ever since the Fall, human sexuality has been assaulted by disorders. Somebody once wittily observed that Sexual Intercourse was invented in the 1960s. But did nobody ever feel and fall for a sexual temptation before then?

The only difference between this age and every preceding culture? Now, it is the Official Message of the ministers of the Zeitgeist that, in sexual matters, Fay ce que voudras admits no qualification (except as regards paedophiles).

Paul VI spoke about the Smoke of Satan entering the Church. Some traddies have tended to assume that liturgical disorder is what he had in mind. I wonder whether it might have been the complete collapse of the concept of boundaries within Sexuality.

Mary, Mother of God, Mary Ever-Virgin, Mater Purissima, stands as the great condemnation of the Reign of Sex, as she does of every other heresy.

Could there have been any better day on which to publish the Correctio Filialis?

23 September 2017

Breaking News

There are wild rumours on the Internet about News due to break tomorrow, Sunday. They are, as far as I know, all wrong. Far too wild. Far too dramatic. Far too much in the febrile spirit of the current pontificate. Calm down! ... No; it's not that, either !!

But, tomorrow, a piece of news will break: an action taken by a small group of small and very humble Christian people from many countries; some men, some women, some lay, some clerical.

It may not (to quote Churchill) be "the beginning of the end" of the disorders of this pontificate.

Its effect will depend on you and thousands like you. Depending on how you, with God's grace, take it forward, it might be looked back upon in the future as (Churchill again) "the end of the beginning".

It's up to you. And to our Lady of Fatima and Walsingham, who promised that her Immaculate Heart will prevail.

Pope Honorius I

Surprising, isn't it, how many people seem to be interested in the case of our late beloved Holy Father Pope Honorius I, just now ...

But I would like to be frank about something I don't understand.

Here it is: the claim of the subsequent Magisterium to have expelled Honorius I from the Church. I do not see how it is possible to do this to someone who is dead. Ecclesiastical authorities, as far as I am aware, only claim and have jurisdiction over or within the Church Militant (indulgences, for example, can only be applied to the Departed per modum suffragii). Or does the phrase mean something like deleting his name from the diptychs of the Dead ... a sort of ecclesiastical version of the secular damnatio memoriae? Can any Conciliar or Patristics expert explain?

I feel much happier with the way our Holy Father Pope Leo II wrote to the Spanish Bishops: " ... Honorio, qui flammam haeretici dogmatis non, ut decuit apostolicam dignitatem, incipientem extinxit, sed negligendo confovit".

I like two things in particular about this:
(1) it exemplifies Newman's highly important point that the job of the Roman Church is to be a remora, a barrier against innovation ... the duty of its bishop, because of his apostolic, Petrine, dignity, is to 'extinguish the fire of heretical doctrine as soon as it first begins'; and
(2) it makes clear that Honorius encouraged heresy by neglect.

Does this have any relevance for our times and our troubles?

Whatever may be the objective meaning of Amoris laetitia, whatever the intentions of the current pope in issuing it, there can surely be little doubt that he has de facto encouraged heresy by neglecting to correct those bishops and episcopal conferences which have promoted interpretations of the document constructively allowing for adultery.

This, in my own personal, subjective, and fallible opinion, is what most securely brackets Francis I with Honorius I, although, as a dutiful Catholic, I respect and love both of them equally and enormously.

Comments which try to get headway out of this distressing situation by advocating sedevacantist nonsense will, for reasons I have explained often enough in the past, not be enabled. Nor will mindless abuse of the current pope.

22 September 2017


More idleness on my part! Here is another old post, which has already appeared more than once! But I think it is more relevant than ever!! I have added one or two phrases. The earlier dates could be reconstructed from the thread.

PARRHESIA is a Greek noun [which, some time ago, was] used with great frequency by our Holy Father Pope Francis; it means speaking openly, boldly, fearlessly, standing like a free man rather than cowering like a slave, epecially in contexts where it might be apprehended that some powerful person could turn beastily nasty. A good, authoritative, example of its use, and a (fairly) authoritative gloss about its meaning, were provided when the Holy Father in 2014 told the Synod Fathers to speak with parrhesia, and his close friend "Archbishop" Fernandez [somebody should write a Gilbert-and-Sullivan chorus about this individual] was overheard interpreting this for the edification of common ordinary not-in-the-know not-one-of-us bishops as meaning "Mueller [then Cardinal Prefect of the CDF] won't come after us". Assuming that this concept is meant to apply symmetrically, clearly Fernandez also meant that he, Fernandez, and Pope Francis, wouldn't "come after" anybody, either. Good News for both Bishops and Bloggers worldwide. [It is a shame that those in various places who persecute, or urge others to intimidate, opponents of Pope Bergoglio's innovations, have not interiorised his calls for Parrhesia but still "come after" people they deem off-message.]

The term is quite common in the New Testament: S Mark 8:32; S John 7:4,13,26; 10:24; 11:14,54; 16:25,29; 18:20; Acts 2:29; 4:13,29,31; 28:31; etc. etc.. For the verb parrhesiazomai, mainly in Acts, see 9:27,28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26 ...

[Anybody got a Concordance for the Septuagint? The Vulgate rendering is often palam ... loqui. For a link to a good (Oz) talk about Parrhesia in the Classical period of Attic Greek, see a comment of my own on the old thread infra.]

[In Italian and Spanish, it is written without the h, and, sadly, the rather limited chappies who do the English versions of Vatican statements sometimes don't realise that the English, transliterated of course directly from the Greek, is parrhesia. Don't let them confuse or worry you. Not now, not ever.]

21 September 2017

Whose hands?

Here's a Medieval oddity which I don't think anybody has noticed.

In the Statuta Antiqua, when a bishop is consecrated, "two bishops place and hold a book of the Gospels over his neck, and as the Ordainer pours the Blessing over him, the bishops who are present touch his head with their hands".

Now to the Spanish, Mozarabic, rite for the ordination of a presbyter. "The presbyters lay hands on him, and he is blessed by the bishop as follows ...".

Spot it? Well, in neither of these very different sources does the rubric actually say that the Ordainer himself lays hands on the ordinand.

I know what you're going to say. The imposition of hands by the ordainer is taken-for-granted. The rubrician doesn't bother to specify the blindingly obvious. And you might very well be right. But I'm not totally sure.

In each of these cases, I am convinced that what we have is a collegial act. The new bishop is being incorporated into the world-wide (and, as E L Mascall would insist, time-wide) college of bishops. The new presbyter is being incorporated by the corporate, collegiate presbyterium, into the priesthood of the local church (and since the local church is the manifestation of the Church Universal, this simultaneously incorporates him into the whole priestly body of Christ's whole Church).

I am quite certain that those presbyters could not so incorporate a new member if they acted on their own without the presidency of their head, the bishop. An attempt to do so would be, in the still appropriate language of the old manuals, 'invalid'. But with him they truly can do what they could not do without him. Just like the coconsecrators in the episcopal rite, they truly confer the sacrament.

And I feel pretty sure that in the Mozarabic rite, it was thought appropriate for the form to be uttered by the Bishop, the matter supplied by his presbyterium. See I Timothy 4:14.

20 September 2017


There is a great deal to be joyful about; in fact, I feel on something of an emotional high. These are exhilarating times to be a "traditional" Latin Catholic! And not least of the sources of joy is the sense of panic in "Liberal" quarters: almost hysterical panic that, although in this pontificate they have their hands on all the central levers of power in the Church, they seem to be making so little headway in stifling the Gospel and the Tradition.

I say that so as to put some grumps into perspective.

Grump (1) I hope you have read, on LifeSiteNews, the account by Diane Montagna of what has just been done to the S John Paul Institute for the Family.

Diane is a remarkable young journalist; at the Vatican News Conference when the Graf von Schoenborn "presented" Amoris laetitia, she asked the one, real, important question. The Graf proceeded, with that ready smile which some odd people find so winsome, condescendingly to put her down by a misrepresentation of the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Her piece on LifeSiteNews is a deft and penetrating analysis of this latest attack on the Magisterium of S John Paul.

Grump (2) Fr Zed reveals the aggression perpetrated against the SSPX when they went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Blessed Lady at Knock; the use of security men to prevent the SSPX group from offering the Holy Sacrifice or saying the Rosary within the Shrine precincts.

The fact that the Society has been allowed to pray in Roman basilicas, and in the Concrete Submarine at Lourdes [see a lovely video of the pontifical High Mass celebrated there by His Excellency Bishop Fellay, which I access by googling Fr Ray Blake SSPX Lourdes], makes this illiberal act stand out like a sore etc.etc..

Questions are in order. (a) Was a pretext offered? Ex. Gr. "You haven't booked in and another group is booked in to use the same facilities at precisely the same moment." Even if there was a technical pretext, one doubts whether a group, say, of Orthodox or Anglicans would have had detachments of security men let loose on them.
(b) Was the diocesan bishop involved in this debacle?

When I was at Knock, I was pleasantly surprised by how very friendly the staff were in enabling me to say Mass (EF) at the Altar of the Vision. One brother priest to whom I said this remarked "I can only tell you that you were remarkably lucky". Could it be that the fact I was in company with Cardinal Pell influenced people?

Not a grump at all but just a question (3): NLM has an interesting primer on how to Enrich the Novus Ordo. Among much else, it suggests wiping thumbs, forefingers three times on the Corporal at the start of the Qui pridie. Three times is not what I was taught at England's most prestigious Seminary, Staggers (1967), in our Mass Practices, nor can I find it in O'Connell. Do I now need, in advanced old age, to triple the habit of a lifetime?

19 September 2017

Irreversibly Bye Bye to Vatican II

Fr Zed revealed a week or so ago that the Vatican publishing house had no plans to do a reprint of the Latin text of the post-Vatican II Breviary, the Liturgia Horarum. It is, apparently, out of print and unobtainable.

Unobtainable? But if I go into Blackwells in Oxford, they can rush off, within a fortnight, a one-off reprint of any out-of-print book. And it is very cheap. Yet the Libreria Editrice Vaticana didn't make any such offer to their enquirer. Just: "It's out of print. We have no plans."

Remarkable. Vatican II, in its liturgical decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, explicitly mandated that (except in a tiny number of exceptional cases) the clergy should continue to recite their Office in Latin. 

Is that Conciliar liturgical prescription "irreversible"? You will have to submit a dubium to the current occupant of the Roman bishopric if you want a quick answer to that question. I thought I heard recently that he takes a rather strong view on the "irreversibility" of all the Vatican II and post-Vatican II liturgical stuff. I rather think he even described his own opinions on this subject as "Magisterial", whatever, in this context, that means. But his own Vatican publishers seem very relaxed about the whole business.

I can only draw two possible conclusions from this puzzling episode. Either
(1) hint hint, the clergy are no longer expected to recite the Divine Office; or
(2) hint hint, the clergy are expected to procure copies of the (very much still in print) 1962 , pre-Conciliar, Latin Breviary, and to use that.

Clearly, we have now definitively (irreversibly?) moved out of the dark shadow of Vatican II. If those in Rome whose job it is to render physically possible the observance of what the Council explicitly ordered couldn't care less about it, obviously we lesser men (and all you lesser women too) can now just totally (irreversibly?) forget about it. What was it that Newman and Ratzinger each said about Councils?

I know how to take a hint, and how to take it irreversibly ...

17 September 2017

Sister Teresa Forcades UPDATE

UPDATE: A rather odd correspondent has accused me of accusing the Sister of expurgating the text of Scripture. I think it should be clear to any reader that this is the opposite of what, in the following, I am implying she may have guiltily done. My view is that she appears to me to be guilty of making the swaggering, macho claim that she expurgates Scripture ... when (since it has already been expurgated in the Novus Ordo) she doesn't!

Context: I would never pay money for The Tablet but in a weak moment I signed up for their you-can-read-online-six-articles-a-month-free offer. I now wish to comment on an article I read: but I can't revisit it to check the facts, having used up my allocation. I rely upon readers to tell me if through poor memory I am doing someone an injustice, so that I can amend or withdraw this post.

Recently I read in the Tablet a piece about a Catalan nun called, I think, Teresa Forcades. In the course of this article, she was reported as saying that, when reading in Church the First Letter of Timothy, she always left out Chapter 2 verse 12 (in which S Paul does not allow women to teach in Church).

What puzzled me here was the fact that, in the Novus Ordo, that verse is not included in the Lectionary ... in other words, the post-Conciliar revisers had already expurgated it from the text, thereby wilfully and wickedly depriving Sister of the fun of expurgating it herself.

How can I be sure of this? Because I checked it up in Matthew P Hazell's Index Lectionum, which enables you to check such things in an instant. If you haven't got this admirable book already, I recommend it highly. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3. It reveals the locations of so very many interred corpses.

But perhaps this verse was included in a pericope from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours? I checked the index at the end of each of the four volumes: no luck.

I think ... frabjous day! ... I may just have discovered a New Argument against the Novus Ordo ... videlicet:

It deprives radical nuns and progressive layfolk of the simple daily joy of chopping out of Holy Scripture the bits with which they disagree!!

Spoil Sport!

As for Sister ... does she, perhaps, very occasionally, allow her imagination to run away with her?

16 September 2017

The Eucharistic Fast

Some time ago, as I was talking to one of the Russian Orthodox clergy here in Oxford, I was interested to hear that the Orthodox, when, during Lent, they receive Holy Communion at an evening Liturgy of the Presanctified, are only nowadays expected to fast from midday (I hope I've got that right). It brought home to me that it is not only the West which, since the time of Pius XII, has felt that a discipline of fasting (which was apparently manageable to a European peasantry that toiled all day beneath the sun at their subsistence agriculture) is too much for our own soft culture.

But enough of grumps. I want to advance the notion that a Hermeneutic of Continuity might incline us to reconsider our practice of the Eucharistic Fast; which Pius XII first reduced to three hours and then Blessed Paul VI reduced to one hour. And that is one hour before the time of Communion, not one hour before the beginning of Mass. And recent legislation has permitted binating clergy on Sundays to snack between Masses even if that cuts into the one hour. To all intents and purposes, the Fast has been abolished.

When I retired to Devon at the age of sixty, I found myself not infrequently saying three Masses on Sunday morning (trinating! I took it that unreprobated custom and pastoral necessity justified this rather iffy practice). I continued my habit of fasting until after the third Mass ... which meant until about 12.30. And I am one whom gluttony has rendered self-indulgent and unfit. I'm not boasting when I say that I never had any problem with it. And, in conversation once with the Syrian Orthodox who came to celebrate their Liturgy in S Thomas's, I discovered that they fasted from supper-time the evening beforehand: as, of course, did their priest: who had just driven from Croydon to celebrate a Liturgy that lasted from 12.00 until after 2.00. It can be done.

I'm not going to rant about the effective reduction of the Eucharistic Fast from a rigid rule to an option, however horrified our Tractarian Fathers would have been by this. I would never write anything to make others feel guilty or to discourage others from going to Mass and receiving the Lord's Body and Blood. But I wonder if we ought to be doing more to move towards a more Traditional and Patristic habit in this matter.

My own practice is: when I am de facto observing the old convention that Mass be celebrated between Dawn and Midday, I observe the old (Western) rule of fasting from the previous midnight. When I am being modern and saying Mass after Midday, I keep B Paul VI's modern rule of a one-hour fast. Is this really so desperately impossible or absurdly illogical?

For what it's worth, Pius XII did urge all those capable of doing so to observe the old rule. And I have heard rumours that, before legislating, he sought confirmation that it was within his power so to legislate. Among Anglo-Catholics, who had spent decades arguing for the Apostolic importance of the Eucharistic Fast, there was consternation. I have been told that the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament asked my erudite predecessor, Dr Trevor Jalland, to explain what was going on.

15 September 2017

CDF: throw the archives open

In his illuminating Cuddesdon paper, Fr Aidan Nichols reminded us that, according to reports, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then directed by the admirable Gerhard Mueller) submitted copious corrections to the draft of Amoris laetitia ... all, or most, of which were ignored.

Let me remind you why this matters. As Fr Aidan said, we would find it preferable to be able to believe that the errors and (at least prima facie) heresies in AL were a matter of negligent language on the part of Papa Bergoglio, rather than the result of a positive intention to teach what he knew to be error. We can only judge which of those two verdicts needs to be passed on our Holy Father (and, obviously, the latter is a graver matter than the former) if we can collate the corrections offered to him by the Congregation with the successive drafts of AL and its final text.

I know we can hardly expect, in this pontificate, so open and frank an action as the publication of the CDF's comments. That, in a sense, is the problem about this troubled period in the history of the Church Militant. The current occupant of the Roman See talks without ceasing when it would become him to be silent; and keeps his mouth zippered when it is his duty to open it and to defend the Fides tradita and to confirm his brethren. Where there should be secrecy there is openness; where we need openness, there is secrecy.

Incidentally, may I appeal for help? There are reports in a the German digital newspaper, Mannheimer Morgan, that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has made some rather important points. I would be interested to see the text (or an English crib, if possible) of the Cardinal's actual words. Can anybody supply me with a link? This is how the report sums up the part I am mainly interest in: "To rely solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in theological questions? A frightening idea for [Mueller]. Mueller makes reference here to the example of S Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621); he pointed out to Clement VIII (1536-1605) in clear words his lack of theological competence".

(To be clear: I do not want another link to the newspaper report but to his Eminence's actual words which are here merely summarised.)

I suspect that Mueller may have made an important contribution to the problem of how we handle a doctrinally disfunctional pontificate.

13 September 2017

Carnival time?

It was rumoured that, immediately after his election to the Roman Bishopric, Jorge Bergoglio said to his Caeremoniarius, who had offered him the garment indicating his new status as Servus servorum Dei, "The Carnival is over, Monsignor; wear it yourself". This was subsequently denied ... conclusively, I was very relieved and happy to assume. Back in those days, we had fewer data to go on with regard to how very nasty our Holy Father can be.

But now Monsignor Basil Loftus (in the article from which I have derived so much recent enlightenment) has apparently alluded to this story. And the Monsignor is a pretty extreme Bergoglianist, not to say a hyperultraueberpapalist.

So is the story, after all, true? Or is the Monsignor being even more Bergoglian than Bergoglio, and hinting that he would have liked the anecdote to be true?

Sometimes, of course, ben trovato fabrications are indeed truer than Clio, a distinctly unpermissive lady, would in her rather pedantically preserved virginity prefer to concede. I once had an academic colleague of whom it was said among our fellows that he had been Head Boy of ******* [a very minor English Public School]. This was not factually true but it was ... er ... truly true.

It told you more about him than any mere facts could convey.

I think we will leave Fr Basil at this point. Indeed, I do in fact agree with one argument he proposes: to the effect that the Episcopal Conferences in the Three Kingdoms should be open about what goes on in their meetings, just as the USA Conference is. And, when all is said and done, he is a brother priest whose ministry I pray will be ever fruitful, just as I hope and pray to be clear-sighted about the many shortcomings of my own.

12 September 2017

Mon Signore Loftus (3)

The overlaps in content (but certainly not style) between the article by "Monsignor Loftus", which I have shared with you, and the elegant paper delivered recently to an ecumenical audience by Fr Aidan Nichols, are quite considerable. And all the more diverting since they come from the opposite ends of the theological spectrum.

The Catholic Herald account of Fr Aidan's address quotes him as saying that "bishops' conferences ha[ve] been slow to support Pope Francis, probably because they [a]re divided among themselves". The Monsignore is much more prolix. "And in many, many more countries, our own included, whole episcopates are sitting on the fence ..." ... I honestly don't feel up to copying out the two columns which follow. I do, you know, type my posts with just the one finger.

All you need to know is that the Monsignore does not like Episcopal Conferences, least of all his own. He does not like "young" bishops, who are "often over-moralising, over-dogmatising, and over-sure". And, above all, he dislikes young priests, who are "youngsters", "aggressive", "narcissistic", "Tridentinising". "Unless some opposition to all this backward-looking ecclesiology is forthcoming ... mumble mumble mumble ... growing and clergy-led retreat ... mumble mumble mumble ...  introspective sacristy-sect"....

Historians will be diverted to realise that, while B Paul VI unwisely tried to rid the Church of the curse of gerontocracy by curbing the electoral powers of elderly Cardinals, the Monsignore apparently sees the salvation of the Church as lying entirely in the hands of the elderly. In their richly varied shades of grey, they should break their retirement and flock to Episcopal Conferences and deanery meetings and never stop putting their successors right about everything.

We wrinklies are enormously good at that sort of activity, and generous, to boot. "When I was ABC, what I used to do was DEF ..." "I always found it good practice to GHI...". "I think you will find, as I did, that JKL ...". Our anecdotes (rarely flawed by concise over-abbreviation) never end in our own discomfiture, but always in the confusion of the partes adversae. And it is amazing what excellent wind we still have, even though the advance of the years means that our flecks of spittle are broadcast with perhaps just a tadge less discipline than in the days of our prime.

It's called "being boring".

11 September 2017

"Monsigor" 'Loftus Part 2; together with Fr Aidan Nichols

Readers will recall the rather explosive (but very necessary) lecture given recently by the doyen of English Catholic academics, the learned Dominican Fr Aidan Nichols. Parts of it were printed in the Catholic Herald; I do urge readers who are not familiar with it to track that news item down on the Internet (sadly, it appears that the piece will not be made available more widely or in full).

Fr Aidan wrote: "[The Pope's] programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, very often of the closet variety, have in the fairly recent past been appointed to high positions both in the world episcopate and in the ranks of the Roman Curia."

Rather divertingly, the  '"Mgr" Basil Loftus', about whom I wrote yesterday, says exactly the same, from a diametrically opposed theological standpoint. "Slowly but surely national hierarchies are being transformed by Francis' inspired appointments, just as within the Roman Curia there is a similar shift."

Goodness me. Can it really be quite so obvious that episcopal and curial appointments, under this regime, are made, not on the basis of pastoral, personal or doctrinal excellence, but on the dear old Third World principle of cronyism? Is this what the Pope from the Peripheries has brought us?

10 September 2017

Mgr Loftus

I have recently read an article from a journal of Catholic origin. It was an 'opinion piece' by a cleric called ... of course, this is probably a nom de plume ... Mgr Basil Loftus.

'Loftus' is clearly a Bergoglianist, because I read that "Pope Francis has resolved the culture of ecclesial poverty, the renunciation of carnival custume and pretentious titles, and ...".

At that point I hesitated, and referred just half an inch to the left, to the as-yet unutilised earlier part of the article ... where the author is described as Mgr Basil Loftus.

I scratched my head. Mgr? Surely, that is an Italian abbreviation for Mon Signore? And, surely, that, in English, is My Lord? Is 'Loftus' a barone or a conte? Perhaps even a marchese? In my simple Anglican Patrimony ignorance, I (subsequently) asked a friend ... one of those Cradle Catholics from whom we poor converts have been urged by Mr Ivereigh and his friends to take our religion as from a purer fount ... what Monsignore meant. "Ah", he said, nodding his wise old Cradle Catholic head. "It means that 'Loftus' is a Domestic Chaplain to the Supreme Pontiff".

You can imagine how stunned I was. 'Loftus' is clearly very old; to think of him popping off to Rome every few days to perform the important if menial tasks of laying out the Holy Father's baroque maniples and lacy albs and satin ferraiolas and whatnot indicates a very personal devotion to the Great Man. "Er", said my mentor, "No, 'Loftus' pretty certainly never gets anywhere near the Vatican. If he did, the pope would probably strangle him with one of his maniples. Monsignore and Domestic Chaplain are just  ... well, let's say, just rather pretentious titles ..."

Oh dear. Now I am terribly puzzled. How difficult it is to be a poor ignorant convert.

Do you think 'Loftus' would take me on and give me some private coaching?

To be continued.

9 September 2017

I have now resumed ...

... the reception of messages from the outside world, after my latest fortnight Away From It All. Incidentally, I commend the practice as a useful Aid to Sanity.

I have now enabled Comments on this blog which arrived during the last fortnight, except for one or two which I deemed abusive towards Papa Bergoglio. I say again: whether you like it, whether I like it or not, he is Pope. And that's it.

I have also tried to deal as best I can with the hundreds of emails. If you felt that my reply to you was briefer than you expected, that is why! I do apologise.

And I also apologise if a message of yours somehow went missing.

The Magisterium: your rights and mine

I wish to re-emphasise what I published, on 4 September 2016, in the following piece.

Canon 212 (paragraph 3) informs us that Christifideles (i.e., vide Canonem 207, both clerics and laics) have the ius immo et aliquando officium conformably with their scientia, competentia, et praestantia, "ut sententiam suam de his quae ad  bonum Ecclesiae pertinent sacris Pastoribus manifestent" [Anglice "the right, and, indeed, sometimes the duty, according to their knowledge, competence, and dignity, to manifest to Sacred Shepherds their judgement about those things which pertain to the good of the Church"]. The text goes on to add that they also have this right and (even) duty to make their judgement known to the rest of the Christifideles.

Not long ago [before September 2016] , as is well known, a group of 45 scholars, teachers, and pastors, wrote a Letter. (I emphasise that these people came from a wide variety of countries throughout the world: I emphasise this because I do not want what I am about to say to be narrowly construed as a criticism of any members of the English Church.) The Letter was addressed to each member of the Sacred College of Cardinals respectfully asking them to beg the Holy Father graciously to consider the clarification of certain parts of Amoris laetitia which have proved to be dangerously ambiguous. Cardinals, I think, count as Sacred Shepherds. This was a private letter (although its contents have unfortunately become public). Even if it had been a public letter, I do not see how it could have failed to enjoy the protection of Canon 212.

Dr Javier Hervada, sometime Professor of Canon Law at Navarra, comments on Canon 212: "The right of free speech and public opinion within the Church is acknowledged. Science, skill, and prestige are required to exercise the right justly or to give the corresponding moral obligation greater or less force. The basis of this right does not reside in these prerequisites but in the condition of being one of the faithful".

In the fourth [fifth] year of this current pontificate, it is appropriate also to mention the insistently repeated calls of the Holy Father Pope Francis himself for Parrhesia [bold and free speaking] in the Church.

With regard to the paragraph which now follows below, I would like to make it very clear that I am not talking about myself or in any way describing or alluding to my own situation or any experience I have had.

Intimidation and cruel pressures have, it appears, been applied to persuade some of the signatories to the Letter to rescind their signatures. 

Perhaps this may remind English readers of the occasion when, a couple of years ago, some 450 English clerics wrote an open letter with regard to the agenda of the Synod of Bishops, and it was reported in the public papers that intimidation had been applied to dissuade priests from signing. How those guilty of such worldly intimidation can think that their behaviour helps any cause in which they sincerely and Christianly believe, I simply do not even begin to understand. It all seems to me so much more like the actions of playground bullies than any conduct which could be appropriate between those whom the Lord called His Friends (philous; John 15:15).

I have not always agreed with everything this Holy Father has said and done. But I very much doubt whether he is complicit in this. There is such a pettiness about it.

I shall not entertain any comments or queries on this distressing subject, now or at any later time.

Footnote: Canon 212 also talks convincingly and appropriately about the obedientia necessary when Shepherds, as fidei magistri, make doctrinal declarations, or, as rulers of the Church, legislate (statuunt). In view of the opening paragraphs of Amoris laetitia, I do not get the impression that the Sovereign Pontiff is, in this Exhortation, claiming either to define dogma or to legislate.

7 September 2017

"Hippolytus"; or "The Second Eucharistic Prayer"

How able, how cunning, the Enemy is in his plots to bring Evil out of Good.  I will illustrate this by considering his use of a Eucharistic Prayer still sometimes linked with the name of the early third century antipope Hippolytus.

My distinguished predecessor at S Thomas's, Dr Trevor Jalland, wrote 'The widespread interest evoked by the visual demonstrations of the Hippolytean Eucharist, which have been given in various parts of the country [by Dix since July 1948], testify to the deep indebtedness not merely of scholars, but of the ordinary worshipper, to Dr Gregory Dix in making available for English readers the text of Hippolytus' invaluable treatise The Apostolic Tradition.'

One aspect of this rite which particularly appealed to Catholic Anglicans was the presence of the phrase 'we offer unto thee this bread and this cup'. This seemed to provide an alibi for smuggling back into the mainstream worship of the Church of England a formula expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, absent from our Parliamentary Liturgy since 1559. Thus in 1966 the English Liturgical Commission recommended a rite ('Series II') which contained this phrase; justified on the ground that 'It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries. It is the language used by Hippolytus ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity'.

At about the same time the pot-Conciliar revisers of the Roman Rite incorporated a mangled version of 'Hippolytus' Eucharistic Prayer' as an alternative to the venerable Canon Romanus, the invariable Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman rite for so many centuries. The version which those revisers adopted had been confected by Dom Bernard Botte and Fr Louis Bouyer in between caraffes of wine in one of Rome's seedier areas tras Tevere. 

By 1989, however, Bouyer, at least, had given up the idea that 'Hippolytus' really was by Hippolytus, or even had any connection with the Roman Church. This doubt has now become the academic orthodoxy. (If necessary, one murmurs here the name of Professor Paul Bradshaw.)

Unfortunately, 'Hippolytus' failed in the laudable struggle to recatholicise the worship of the Church of England; the Evangelicals vetoed the crucial phrase. The Enemy saw to that.

But the version put out by the Roman revisers did, by the Enemy's able machinations, succeed in almost entirely eliminating the Canon Romanus from the worship of most ordinary RC churches, where its extreme brevity appealed to priests and people alike (despite the rubrical guidance given that the Canon Romanus was for Sundays and 'Hippolytus' for other occasions). The passion for brevity, which made dear old Fr O'Murphy I say the Old Mass with such unholy rapidity, made his trendier nephew Fr O'Murphy II select 'Hippolytus' with unholy regularity in the New Mass.

So, in the one body, 'Hipplolytus' failed to achieve the hoped-for good of restoring the Eucharistic Oblation; and in the other body it did massive positive harm by edging out of use the Eucharistic Prayer which did express the full doctrine of that Sacrifice.

 Satan's Smoke! Killing two birds with one stone!

5 September 2017

Dog daie en

While browsing through the differences - this is the sort of way we liturgists spend our time - between the Calendar in the Second Prayer Book of Edward Tudor and that in the First, I noticed that the Second restored a number of Calendrical data which used to occur in Medieval Catholic liturgical Calendars but had disappeared from the 1549 Book. For example, against August 15 the 1552 Book gives, rather suggestively, Sol in virgo. And, on September 5 (yes, I remember that the difference between Julian and Gregorian Calendars will complicate matters) 1552 offers the observation that the 'Dog Daie en' [= Dog Days End].

This reminded me, as I know it will have reminded you, of the bit in Hesiod - it must be somewhere in the Erga kai Hemerai - where the funny old boy claims that at this time of the year, when the Dogstar parches head and knees and dries the skin, "women are most lustful, and men are most feeble [makhlotatai ... aphaurotatoi]". I wonder if heterosexual readers with a scientific bent have ever tested by a controlled experiment the veracity of this archaic generalisation.

But hang on: perhaps I could myself make an evidential contribution. When, six decades ago, at the age of eighteen, I was in Athens during the Dog Days, I was propositioned by an American girl who was spending Daddy's money in the Hotel Grande Bretagne as if there were no tomorrow [if she's reading this now: Hi!]. When I expressed my deep sense of the honour done to me but begged with great respect to decline the favour, she concluded the episode by saying "Gee [am I right in assuming that in American English this is a reverential periphrasis for "God"?], you sure are cute".

I've often wondered about the meaning of that word 'cute'. Is it by predelision from 'acute'? Perhaps American readers can help.

In the County Kerry, the blessed Kingdom of the West, in aeternum floreat, I was once referred to as a cute hoor. What on earth does this mean?

4 September 2017

How to introduce the Vetus Ordo to a country church overnight

"For weeks before my induction I had been in the parish seeing people in their homes and in the fields ... endeavouring to prepare the minds of all who would listen for the changes I contemplated making in the services.

"All had been made ready for the solemn offering of the Mass. Nicholas Peters had learnt to swing the censer, Peter Curnow ... to make the responses, when on that first Sunday after my induction the people of St Hilary flocked to the church and found, in the place of a clergyman reading Dearly beloved, a strange figure in vestments at the altar with a little boy who knelt at his side. Many were watching for the first time the drama of the Mass. They were there as spectators who watch a play with a symbolism and language unknown to them. Man cries for redemption, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. God answers man's despairing cry in the opening words of the Gloria in excelsis, proclaiming the advent of the promised Saviour, but still they do not understand.

"'Whatever is he doing up there now?' they say. 'Can 'e make it out at all?' The summit of the drama is reached when, the whole company of heaven having been summoned to man's aid, the words of consecration are spoken and the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus who offered Himself on the Cross at Calvary. They are aware of the silence, broken by the ringing of a bell. 'Did 'e hear the bell? What is that for, my dear' they whisper. The bell rings again at the Domine non sum dignus. There are a few who kneel in wonder at what is being accomplished; it is for them a moment of prayer such as they have never experienced before. But for many who crowd the church the great drama of the Mass remains without meaning."

I know what readers are thinking ... "That's not very brick-by-brick".

1 September 2017

A Couple of Good Collects

The 'historicising' post-Conciliar Revisers reached September 1. Here they found S Giles; he had no proper collect and so he was observed with the Common collect: 'O Lord, may the intercession of blessed Giles thine abbot commend us: that, what we cannot by our own merits, we may attain by his patronage'. Observing that his Vita is fabulosa, they left him 'for particular calendars'. The same day a commemoration had to be made of the Twelve Brethren Martyrs. The Revisers, noting that the Acta of these martyrs were - again - fabulosa and that in any case the twelve were not brothers and that they died in different places, exultantly cried 'deletur!', and so deprived us of the lovely prayer (lovely in the Latin: this is again a merely schoolmasterly translation) 'O Lord, may the brotherly crown of thy martyrs bring us joy: and may it grant us increases in the virtues of our faith and console us with their multiple suffrage'.

So a day which for so long had enabled Christians to express both their diachronic fellowship with the saints of long ago (but who are still our joyful friends in Christ) and their synchronic identity with those in the lands where these saints bore witness, was emptied into feriality ... if you see what I mean.

Legally, however, users of the modern Roman Rite may, on such a 'free' feria, say Mass of any saint ascribed to that day in the martyrology. So Giles or the Twelve could have been observed; but not both together, and not with their ancient collects.