29 June 2018

Adolph Merkel

How cruel they were, those Greek graffiti artists and cartoonists a decade ago, who portrayed Angela Merkel, whom they saw as their financial oppressor, with a fascist moustache.

But now Germany has been ejected from the World Cup (and by South Korea!!!). The last time this happened so early in the Cup was, we are told, eighty years ago in 1938. (So if, in some Pub Quiz, you are asked what Adolph's and Angela's Germanies had in common, you know the answer.) O Frabjous Day! Callooh! Callay! (rendered by RAK as "O trisbakarton hemar: o kalou kala"). Or to quote Alcaeus, Nun Khre methusthen kai tina per bian/ ponen ... [Do it now! It's a Must! Get drunk! Go right over the top with your tippling!]

And Argentina! Holed below the waterline by dear plucky little Croatia!! What a game that was! Will the Argies' next game prove their final Belgrano?

What fun Footie is when the Baddies get clobbered!

I feel we probably ought to be making the most of it ...

Nota explicativa: demotic English antipathies tend not to have any relation with past wars, but, rather, with hubris thought to have been exhibited on the Games' Field. Hubris is the Greek equivalent of the Spanish Maradonna.

28 June 2018

Dog Days

It's a bit hot here at the moment. A lot of people are going mad.

I've just heard two separate "meteorologists" on the telly telling their poor duped public that we are now in the Dog Days.

Really? Has the Heliacal Rising of Sirius truly occurred as early as this in 2018? Why didn't these jokers warn us to get up early so as to watch such a cosmos-shaking event? However can such uncovenanted and irregular celestial phenomena be reconciled with the austere, regimented assumptions of post-Enlightenment Astronomy?

Readers will of course recall Conon, Astronomer of Ptolemy III Euergetes, who inspired Callimachus to describe the catasterised Plokamos of Queen Berenice as calling for a sky-wide muddling of the constellations. Perhaps, nearly 2,300 years later, this has finally happened!!

[Incidentally, I'm rather tempted by a newish theory which identifies the first two lines of Catullus LXVII as really the last two lines of LXVI. The Veronensian archetype lacked a division between these poems (which was, I imagine, inserted by Renaissance editors). This theory would draw support from the fragments of the Callimachean papyrus published by Pfeiffer, who himself comjectured Kh[airete.]

Alternatively, possibly the "meteorologists" have simply been driven berserk by using too much over-perfumed hair-oil. Perhaps some controlled analysis should be undertaken to establish whether the females among them, the bright-eyed bimbos who undulate so winsomely in front of their weather maps, are currently miarotatai and, if so, precisely to what extent.

We need to know.

26 June 2018

Pugin and Sarum

A kind friend has given me a small but perfectly formed book on Pugin: Beyond 'Puginism' by Gerard J Hyland (Spire Books and the Pugin Society).

Hyland demonstrates that, during his 'middle period' when he was much influenced by Dr Rock, Pugin deliberately built his churches in the hope that they would be used for the celebration of the Sarum Rite (Pugin's Pre-Rock and post-Rock inclinations differed: read the book for yourselves!). Thus: at Cheadle, he provided an Easter Sepulchre and sedilia designed to be occupied in the Sarum way with the Priest higher up and to the East of the Deacon (Tridentine custom is to have the Celebrant between the Deacon and the Subdeacon). How do we know Pugin intended this? - because he had a carved chalice and paten over the priest's seat and the Gospel Book carved over the deacon's.

Hyland gives reasons for thinking that Dr Rock celebrated the Sarum Rite at Alton Towers; and that it had been used during Holy Week at Oscott. I am more doubtful about the second claim, since it would mean that Nicholas Wiseman had taken leave of his usual Romanita

I have seen suggestions that Sarum was used in the reign of James II, but without evidence. I regard the possibility as real, since, although we tend to think of His Majesty as the King who sacrificed his throne because of his pro-papal convictions, in fact James' understanding of Monarchy vis-a-vis Papacy seems to have been rather Gallican. And ... again without chapter and verse ... I have heard it claimed that, when Westminster Cathedral was mooted, the possibility of restoring 'Sarum' was urged.

More recently, I believe a Pastor in valle Adurni did Sarum in Merton College Chapel until it was suggested to him that he should, er, stop. And, even more recently than that, a complete rendering of the Sarum Ordo Missae in Cranmerian pastiche was put together for use in the Ordinariates ... but the plan failed since the Americans and the Australians were unkeen.

(Personally, I think the methodology which led to the current Ordinariate Mass was correct.)

25 June 2018


Revisiting one of our Oxfordshire medieval churches the other day, I helped myself to one from a pile of Ordination Cards on the table at the back. It invited prayers for a woman called ***, who thinks that she is going to be ordained to the Diaconate later this month.

It was curiously unlike the breathless cards which used to circulate in my day. I don't think I kept any of those sent around by my contemporaries. A pity; they represent the sort of potentially significant ephemera which will not survive. They tended to give information about the ordaining bishop ... and, more importantly, lists of Saints who might intercede for the ordinand and his prospective parish. A pious and popish prayer often featured. Some theologically significant artwork. And the new address.

There was very little on ***'s card except for butterflies. There were about thirty of these (I made three attempts to count them, but ended up with a different total each time).

My wife justly complains that I am rarely at a loss for a theory about anything you might care to name, but ... 'onest injun* ... the connection between the Diaconate and Butterflies, has me stymied. I can't think of a single ...

... Ah, but Stay. A thought has just occurred to me. The beginning of a theory, indeed. Now don't hurry me.

I'm almost sure I recollect a phrase somewhere in P G Wodehouse in which the sort of chappie who flutters without commitment from girl to girl is likened to a butterfly. Is that somehow relevant?

*Is this phrase now Politically Incorrect?

24 June 2018

Art Historians again. And dear Auntie Tablet

Long time readers of this blog will remember a time when, to a high degree of tedium, I used frequently to attack art historians for their treatment of the Latin language. It was not so much that I resented their ignorance of Larin; many people are ignorant of Latin and I am myself ignorant of very many very important languages. It was their illiterate belief that by picking up a Latin dictionary and thumbing through the pages, they could, in complete ignorance of Latin Grammar, cobble together a "translation". A fine example of this was (I haven't checked recently to see if the howler is still there) the label attached to a cope of Cardinal Manning, mistranslating his motto. Of all places, this is to be seen in the Treasury attached to that big Victorian-Byzantine-style Church next to Victoria Station.

I have complained less about this failing among 'professional Art Historians' in recent years because I am getting older and weaker and with a lower exhaustion threshold, and tend to do the London Exhibitions less frequently. But the Tablet provides an example in its current on-line edition.

A Relic of Pope S Clement has, happily, made its way to Westminster Cathedral, a large church in what the Victorians thought of as the Byzantine style (situated next to Victoria Station). It is labelled
Ex Oss S Clementis P M

A person described as a Deputy Keeper at the V and A explained to the Tablet that PM probably stood for Proto Martyris. This is rubbish, partly because Protomartyr is one word and not two; more importantly, because S Clement was not the Church's Protomartyr. That role fell to S Stephen.

The words stand for Ex Oss[ibus] S[ancti] Clementis P[apae] M[artyris] ('From the bones of S Clement, Pope, Martyr.')

(Conceivably, P M might be for Pontificis Maximi, but I strongly incline to Papae Martyris because that is how S Clement is described in the Calendar.)

Some years ago, the V and A had a rather good exhibition on the Baroque, which was damaged by the amazing degree of ignorance shown in the catalogue about the Catholic Religion. I commented then that the V and A staff could have strolled next door and asked the learned Oratorians of Brompton for help, accompanying this, of course, with the assurance of a proper professional fee for their expertise.

The same dearth of zimmer frames applies in this case.

And I wonder if the people at Westminster Cathedral have corrected their own howlers yet. They were informed about them by ... not me, but by others. Seems peculiar to me that a Church which boasts of being the Mother Church of English Catholicism has nobody on its staff who knows Latin, but that is another matter. Veterum Sapientia of S John XXIII is the Background Reading here.

23 June 2018


It was reported, during the Chilean Abuse Scandal, that lengthy documents were delivered to Cardinal O'Malley which he undertook to forward to PF. PF subsequently, angrily, claimed that nobody had told him about the Scandal. (Or so the accounts allege: vide exempli gratia the report, with photograph, in the Irish Times of 6 February 2018.).

And now a news agency called Reuters, which is generally considered to have a reputation for objectivity and honesty, is claiming that PF says he only learned about the Dubia from the newspapers.

I do not think it is right or properly respectful, or even Christian, to jump to the conclusion that PF is a liar. There are at least two other clear possibilities:

(1) That he is starting to have what people call 'Senior Moments'. If this is so, then clearly some sort of competent and tactful medical intervention is called for. Benedict XVI resigned because he felt he could no longer properly perform his duties. As an honourable man, surely PF would wish to be told honestly and frankly if his mental capacities are deteriorating.

(2) That some person whose duty it was to place ... physically ... important documents into the Pope's hands, failed to do so. In view of the stories circulating about PF's violent outbursts of temper, it would perhaps be humanly understandable if one or more of his staff do habitually conceal or destroy documents likely to drive him into intemperate rages. But such a possibility is in itself gravely worrying.

And there may very probably be other possibilities which readers will be able to imagine.

Meanwhile, it would surely be a good thing if efficient office procedures were put in place. These would include specific individuals signing for documents, so that a precise paper trail existed of where significant documents actually got to. Secular organisations seem able to manage such accountability questions with routine good sense, or else are justly criticised when they fail to do so. I believe British ministers are expected to initial documents in their Red Boxes when they have read them.

The Catholic Church sets great store by the Petrine Office. And rightly so. It is profoundly rooted in Scripture and Tradition. And this carries with it a duty of proper and proportionate respect for the individual who occupies that post. But that individual himself ought to have a proper respect for the post he occupies. And this has practical implications.

Perhaps the archives of the CDF will be able to reveal whether their copy of the Dubia arrived in their Office on the day their Eminences have stated, thus giving prima facie evidence that the Cardinals are telling the truth. And Cardinal Mueller must know whether he duly discussed the matter with PF. It would do the Church no harm at all if it were seen to embrace a culture of openness; of giving Truth a priority.

There need be no confusions about simple questions such as whether something that PF should have read, actually did reach him. Public Meejah discussions about whether PF or the Four Cardinals ... and Cardinal O'Malley ... are honest men, do the Church's reputation no good at all.

21 June 2018


I don't know that I warm to our new Public Orator. In the 1950s, dear Dacre Balsdon, in his sweet book Oxford Life, referred to the Orator at Encaenia as delivering Orations "studded with vile puns", but vilitude can surely be taken too far. Yesterday, presenting Professor Mary Beard, Mr Orator gave us "Num cuiquam alii inter studiosos nostros antehac tabula picta PAENE-APotheosis concessa est ?" which, so the accompanying crib explained, puns on the word 'pin-up'. (I don't think, anyway, that, even in hormone-dominated adolescence, I would ever have pinned Ms Beard up, even had I known her, which I didn't, and even if I had possessed any pins, which I didn't.) Indeed, puns, in my view should not need recondite explanations redolent of the Alexandrian Library on a Bad Hair Day. But how, without a crib, could one spot (this was in the Oration introducing my Lord Neuberger) that "MENS" punned upon the Hebrew: "mentsh among the Menschen"?

Still, there were interesting nuggets in the Creweian Oration. Mr Orator revealed that both Horace and Cicero were Oxford Men. I can only imagine that this is a recently discovered goody from the somewhat disordered early archives of the University. Perhaps it will soon appear in the Zeitschrift fuer Papyrologie und Epigraphik, possibly in the exciting Papyrus Obbink series. Mind you, I have never believed all that stuff about Boadicea having founded the University. I know that one should not rely too heavily upon an argumentum ex silentio, but the fact that Tacitus nowhere mentions her role as a fautrix litterarum latinarum seems to me decisive.

I have always suspected, however, that Rousham was the Sabine Farm; and I am sure that its stretch of the Cherwell is the fons Bandusiae. One of these days, I shall surreptitiously sacrifice a kid there.

20 June 2018

1968-1986: a miracle of evanescence

A kind friend has sent me a little booklet from 1968, put out by the American bishops to prepare priests and people for the new Eucharistic Prayers, authorised by Rome that year. It appears to be a translation of something published by the Sacred Congregation of Rites.

It seems to flutter down out of another world ... a world in which it is anticipated that ordinary folks will henceforth go around referring to Eucharistic Prayers as "anaphoras"; in which parish priests will be giving catechesis on the various elements of a Eucharistic Prayer. Here's a jolly bit which you will all much enjoy: "The world-wide and ecumenical horizons of the Second Vatican Council and also those of the so-called theology of secular values will find here a discrete, biblical and real reflection".

One intriguing detail: it says "The third eucharistic prayer ... could be used alternately with the Roman Canon for [=on?] Sundays". If only ... if only ...

By 1986, Enrico Mazza in The Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Rite, was to write of the Roman Canon that "its use today is so minimal as to be statistically irrelevant".

But, when all is said and done, there was, back in 1968, a sense of excitement about the New, which you young things will find it hard to imagine. I remember buying with eager anticipation, just a few weeks after I was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, the first Vatican Press print of the Latin text of the new Ordo Missae.

(I bought it down in the dear old Newman Bookshop opposite Christ Church, where one could find in the back room such intriguing things ... I acquired a proof edition of Knox's In three tongues ... there were endless old copies of the Eastern Churches Quarterly and of Sobornost ... Someone called Timothy Ware was often scavenging there ... he told me he had managed to put together a complete set of the ECQ. I've often wondered what happened to him subsequently. He did Mods and Greats a couple of years ahead of me. He must be getting on a bit now, I suppose. I'm sure he has long-since grown out of his 'byzantine' phase, as most of us have.)

Exciting days, yes. Nowadays, the poor old Novus Ordo is anything but exciting and new. Arthritic, rather, and with poor wind, and suffering horribly from her varicose veins. It is time, surely, to euthanise and then respectfully to bury the poor dear old biddy and to hurry quietly away and to keep ones fingers crossed that no-one digs her up. A stake through the heart, posibly, would be a wise precaution.

19 June 2018


There is a Meejah story about a one-time evangelical chanteuse called Vicky Beeching who has  disdained Holy Order in the Church of England because that body is insufficiently appreciative of her rather unevangelical Lesbianism, about which she has just ... yes, you guessed correctly ... written a book.

The Sunday Times has a jolly picture of her, clad ut videtur in her shiny leathers, standing in front of and with her back to an altar which (from what one can see of it) is stylistically Early Renaissance, with six candles on it and an apparently red hanging lamp. The statue above the altar may be of the Sacred Heart. One can't quite be sure.

It all seems rather unevangelical, unless the Evangelicals have changed a lot since I left the C of E, but I suppose the implicit narrative that she has turned her back on the Love of the Incarnate Word may be thought by some people to have a certain suitability. I won't enter into that debate.

I hope permission was duly sought by the journalists concerned for this use of the Church.

Perhaps the Church concerned should receive a share of the royalties on the book.


I do in fact know which Church Beeching chose for her photoshots that are being used to publicise her book. It is a Catholic Church; a Catholic Church with notices up forbidding photography. 

Beeching's quarrel is with the Church of England; in which, apparently, it has been made clear to her that if she were admitted to Holy Orders, she would be expected to be chaste. This is hardly a remarkable stipulation; the only objection I would make would be to the apparent assunption that chastity is something which is not also required of the Laity. This seems to me a mind-blowingly exaggerated form of corrupt and over-the-top Clericalism. However, no longer being a member of the Church of England, I would be open to fair criticism if I started laying down the law about how that apostate body should conduct itself. But surely I cannot be criticised for objecting to a member of that institution deciding to use a Catholic Church for her ill-judged exhibitionism and her advocacy of activities and lifestyles which Christ and His Church condemn. Is it not, at the very least, terribly bad manners?

I have rather wondered if the reason might be that, had she turned up in S Paul's or in Westminster Abbey and started to mess around with her photographers, "Security" would undoubtedly have intervened.

Or is it simply that, for these sad ideologists who promote disordered genital activity, the Catholic Church is the natural, indeed, prescriptive, object of hatred?  

Final frivolous passing thought: couldn't Beeching and her photographic crew go off and do stuff in some Kremlin Church, under the immediate and watchful eye of Vladimir Vladimirovich? One could then at least respect their courage. And the aftermath would be real publicity! Just think how sales would rocket!  

18 June 2018


In pictures of the interiors of North American churches, even Catholic churches, one often sees the national flag in the Sanctuary to one side of the Altar.

I have never* seen this in an English church of any denomination. The most you might find would be the ancient 'laid up' colours of dear, long-forgotten regiments hanging from a dark and dusky ceiling, deliberately left to fall apart in cobwebs and sanctity.

I wonder when the American custom arose. To my quaint European instincts it seems an incomprehensible intrusion of transient terrestrial territorial politics into the Place of Eternity.

During the last war ... imagine German POWs being marched to Mass in an English church ... how easily could they have worshipped if the British Flag had been hanging aggressively in front of their eyes? And vice versa.

I believe the pro-Hitler 'German Christians' did it in the 1930s.

Do Ulster Protestants do it?

Do Canadians do it?

Do North American Orthodox or Eastern Catholics do it?

*Exception: In S James, Spanish Place, once the Spanish Embassy Chapel, there is, in one of the side aisles, the Spanish Royal Standard, handily placed so that, if the pp gets a message that His Most Catholic Majesty is about to pay a surprise visit, he can haul it up a rapid flagpole ...

17 June 2018

Pius IX

A translation of a card I once found tucked into a breviary previously owned by the late Fr Melrose of S Giles, Reading:

PRAYER to beg of God the glorification of Pius IX and to obtain graces.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who consecrated the Universal Church to thee.
(3 Gloria).
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who declared thee Immaculate.
(3 Ave).
Saint Joseph, most pure Spouse of Mary the Virgin, hear our prayer and glorify thy servant Pius IX who declared thee Patron of the Universal Church.
(3 Pater)
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary, Immaculate and our Hope, Saint Joseph, hear our prayer and glorify your servant Pius IX, granting us by his merits and intercession the grace which we ardently desire.

16 June 2018

A Paradigm Shift; and Humanae vitae; and the 'ordination' of women.

A splendid talk the other day, from Fr John Hemer, at the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

His talk set me thinking about the real paradigm shift in Catholic studies during the Ratzinger Years. After the terrible aridity of "Modern Biblical Scholarship", as Catholic "scholars" aped what went for "Biblical Studies" among liberal Protestant Northern Europeans and North Americans, Professor Ratzinger (following the teaching of S John Paul II that Scripture should not be seen as a field for disdainful "see how clever I am" analysis) not only restored the respectful study of Scripture but showed, in his own three-volume Jesus of Nazareth, how it should be done.

And Benedict XVI put the Fathers into the heart of his homilies and Angelus addresses.

And readers will not need to be reminded of the significance of his liturgical interventions. His revelation that the old rites had never been lawfully and canonically abrogated created a New Ballpark (am I getting this idiom right?), and, more importantly, his assertion, theological rather than canonical, that what has been sacred never can be abolished, puts in place an important marker should some future pope attempt ultra vires to limit Tradition.

Fr Hemer's exegesis of Scripture is part of this most welcome revolution. The foundation, in Anglophone countries, of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy is a highly important factor in the renewal of witness to Catholic Truth. And the erection of the Ordinariates, thus strengthening within the Catholic Church B John Henry Newman's appropriation of Anglicanism, is another monument to the Benedict Paradigm Shift.

A particular and most recent fruit of this shift is apparent in the signing by some 500 English priests of a letter affirming the truths taught in Humanae vitae (see yesterday's Catholic Herald). Many of the signatories were, of course, members of the Ordinariate (including married clergy) and of the Confraternity, although the letter was not organised by either of those bodies. At a time when there is unease about the risk that the current Roman regime may try to relativise and water down Catholic teaching, this wise, robust, and sensible document can do nothing but good.

Perhaps the time may be coming when similar interventions may be necessary in order to uphold the Church's infallible teaching with regard to the 'ordination' of women to sacerdotal ministries. There is no reason why His Eminence the Graf von Schoenborn should be allowed to make all the running ...

15 June 2018

The Rape of Clio

Apparently, there has been a 're-enactment' in Gloucester of the funeral of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, and a mighty Queen.

I have only been able to find a brief video clip; but it suggests rather massively that the Officiant was an Anglican womanpriest dressed in an anachronistic cope, who proclaimed lingua Anglica "may she rest in peace and rise in glory".

Public announcements were made honouring those who took part in the 'Suffragette' movement.

The event also seems to have involved 'Franciscans', 'Dominicans', and women 'Religious' dressed as such persons were in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Mockery is easy; but I think all this precisely encapsulates modern attitudes to History: the idea that the Past in simply the Present, dressed up perhaps in whatever the children have left in the dressing-up box. Or in what has been hired from a theatrical agency.

My suspicion is it that Modern (wo)man could not handle the truth that the Past may really be an extremely foreign country; and that, as C S Lewis argued, its very differences may be the most important gift that it can offer us.

14 June 2018

S Dunstan ... a problem

On the Vigil of Pentecost this year, prevented by the rubrics from celebrating a great Pontiff, S Dunstan, I found myself wondering: is he part of the Patrimony?

He was, as I am sure you know, a 'Reformer', and, as such, very unenthusiastic about Married Priests (or concubinarii, as we used once so succinctly to be called). But Bishop Edwin, with whom I agree about all things, has identified a married clergy as an essential part of our Anglican Patrimony. I once asked him how we are to get round this knotty little problem. He replied by reminding me that Alcuin was the son, and grandson, of priests. So that's all right, then.

Incidentally, it is not only presbyters who, in those far off days, manifested an attenuated awareness of being called to celibacy. I remember reading about one of the early occupants of the See of Ardfert in the County Kerry, whom annalists distinguished from both his predecessors and his successors as having been 'chaste'. Think about the unspoken implications of that! And, Yes, Bishop Eamonn Casey was a later bishop of this same see. Perhaps there's something in the water ...

My suspicion is that once the Latin Church has decided (in two years' time?) to admit married viri probati to the presbyterate, the regulations about what we can do in the Ordinariates may seem a little less set in stone.

Mind you, I would resist any suggestion that Priests should be able to get married, or that married men should made bishops. I do not see Mrs Proudie as an essential part of the Patrimony. The instinctive conviction of both Catholicism and Orthodoxy that there is a congruity between priesthood and celibacy can properly and decently be upheld by restricting the summum sacerdotium to celibates.

This would also discourage careerists ...

13 June 2018

Slippery Slopes

"I knew there was something wrong when he first walked out onto that balcony", I heard a priest saying a few months ago at a clerical gathering. Indeed. So one instinctively did. In my case, it was not so much that PF declined to dress as a Bishop of Rome as his choice of an unheard-of papal name. It was as if he felt the need to dissociate himself from all his predecessors in the Cathedra Petri ... even from the other 'post-conciliar popes'. In other words, it seemed to me that this was at least potentially a proclamation of papal Rupture.

But how long it took before such uneasy whispers broke out into the open in the mainstream Catholic blogs. Even when the unappealing side of PF's character ... particularly his propensity to insult and humiliate his fellow clergy on every conceivable situation ... became noticeable, and some humourist decided to make a collection of the genre ... bloggers remained cautious. After all, the Lord Himself said some impolite things about Pharisees and Pilates. We leaned over backwards to make excuses when we could; PF's ambiguous phrases and actions were glossed in as orthodox a sense as writers felt able to invent.

As late as 30 May 2016, I agonised for some time about whether to describe this pontificate as 'dysfunctional'. One's every instinct was and is to avoid writing like this about the Successor of S Peter. One has a habit of affection and, even when that had been worn away, one says to onself "Could it really be right to use such language?" Or even possibly "Such language might get me into trouble". After much thought and redrafting, I left in my draft for that day a statement that this pontificate had "some dysfunctional characteristics".

I think you might discover (to give just one example) the same sort of caution in Fr Zed; the same long reluctance to engage too directly with what was manifestly dodgy in this pontificate, until such engagement became unavoidable.

It was, in various different ways on the various Catholic blogs, an unwillingness which only gradually got eroded.

Then, of course, and with as much reluctance, we moved into the period of the Five Dubia and the Filial Correction. And now the world has had a spate of books about this pontificate by lay historians.

PF really did have to work enormously hard before the current atmosphere of frank talking was born.

12 June 2018

Ultra-Catholics and moustachioed Jesuit 'generals'

On this august festival of S John of Fagondez, I am giving this old post another outing.

 The Reverend Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, a distinguished theologian (and mathematician), was for some years the unofficial House Theologian of 'Anglo-Catholicism'. In these comic verses he portrays the extremest of the extreme in that movement. But don't be too deceived; when Mascall was not on the Christ Church Cathedral weekday Mass rota, he himself said a private Tridentine Mass in Mags. Unlike a certain sort of High Churchman, who tinkered with both Western and Eastern practices or Dearmerised with Sarumidippity, Mascall was in no doubt that he was a Latin Catholic. He was a Thomist, too, so they would have liked him at Econe. They would have liked him anyway.

Satirical verse has long been at the heart of the Anglican Patrimony. We write it far better than anybody else, and we laugh louder ... even at ourselves ...

I am an Ultra-Catholic - No 'Anglo-'*, I beseech you!
You'll find no heresy in anything I teach you.
The clergyman across the road has whiskers and a bowler,
But I wear buckles on my shoes and sport a Feriola.

My alb is edged with deepest lace, spread over rich black satin;
The psalms of Dahvid I recite in heaven's own native Latin,
And, though I don't quite understand those awkward moods and tenses,
My ordo recitandi's strict Westmonasteriensis.

I teach the children in my school the Penny Catechism,
Explaining how the C of E's in heresy and schism.
The truths of Trent and Vatican I bate not one iota.
I have not met the rural Dean. I do not pay my quota.

The Bishop's put me under his 'profoundest disapproval'
And, though he cannot bring about my actual removal,
He will not come and visit me or take my confirmations.
Colonial prelates I employ from far-off mission-stations.

The music we perform at Mass is Verdi and Scarlatti.
Assorted females form the choir; I wish they weren't so catty.
Two flutes, a fiddle and a harp assist them in the gallery.
The organist left years ago, and so we save his salary.

We've started a 'Sodality of John of San Fagondez,'
Consisting of the five young men who serve High Mass on Sundays;
And though they simply will not come to weekday Mass at seven,
They turn out looking wonderful on Sundays at eleven.

The Holy Father I extol in fervid perorations,
The Cardinals in curia, the Sacred Congregations;
And, though I've not submitted yet, as all my friends expected,
I should have gone last Tuesday week, had not my wife objected.
*Such clerics did not in fact describe themselves as Ultra-Catholics; simply as Catholics. They did eschew 'Anglo-' because, rightly, they saw it as implying a modified form of Catholicism. (Outsiders, missing these nuances, did speak of them as 'Anglo-Catholic'.) They hated being called High Churchmen; historically they were again right, because this term preceded the Oxford Movement and didn't necessarily at all imply 'advanced' ceremonial or an addiction to the Bishop of Rome (but often a 'high' view of the C of E over against all forms of Dissent or Whiggery). Laypeople, however, generally used 'High' to describe any usage with which they were themselves unfamiliar. ( I was once accused of being 'High Church' because, for State Mattins, I wore 'preaching bands' with my surplice, scarf and MA hood ... their usual officiant didn't wear bands.)

11 June 2018

Local Calendars (3)

I follow on from my series on the English Martyrs; taking, again, the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton as an example of how, in my opinion, we who celebrate the Extraordinary Form should organise our local Calendars.

The diocese of A & B was carved out of the old Southwark diocese after the de facto demise of the Old Rite. Should one therefore continue to use the old Southwark EF Calendar, since there is no provision made for A & B by the Sacred Congregation of Rites?

Up to a point, in my view, but only up to a point!

In my last two pieces, I offered some suggestions about how a Calendar needs to be emended to incorporate more fully the English Martyrs. Continuing to apply the principles underlying Canon 19, I suggest also the following.

The old diocese of Southwark included Canterbury, and that is presumably why its Calendar included a number of sainted Archbishops of Canterbury over and above the number of those Archbishops who are of interest throughout England (these latter, of course, should be retained). It seems to me that such Archbishops ought not to be on an EF Calendar for A & B. Nor should any other Saints who are really of only Kentish (or South London) concern.

This is what the Novus Ordo Calendar for A & B has considered right. The OF Calendar, of course, has no authority in the EF, but it is surely among the sources of guidance to which the principles of Canon 19 suggest it is proper for us to turn when there is an unfilled gap in the strictly lawful provision.

As there is in A & B!

10 June 2018

Donald Trump

Can any of my transpontine readers explain why Mr Trump wears a Brigade of Guards tie? Is it his die-hard Anglophilia? Can we expect him to drop the usual "Mah fellow Americans" and begin his speeches with "Mah fellow Grenadiers"? Did he leave the G7 early in order to parade incognito in yesterday's Trooping of the Colour on the Monarch's Official Birthday?

In the jolly old English phrase, he is clearly a man of many parts, not all of them public. Is it true that he is planning to bring out an improved edition of How to make friends and influence people?

White Rose Day

The wild roses in our hedgerows seem even more generously and abundantly in blossom this year than usual ... almost as if Boucher or Fragonard were personally responsible for their frothy glory ...

... On June 10, in 1688, our late Sovereign Lord King James II and VII was presented by his wife with a Son and Heir, who was to reign for longer than any other British Monarch de iure.

His Birthday became known as White Rose Day, and those who advocated his rights wore either a white rose or ... out of season ... a white cockade. Oxford was an immensely Jacobite city ... you could tap Geach into the Blog's Search Engine.

To the Glorious Memory of King James III and VIII!

Nunc est bibendum! Nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus!

And Vivat Rex!

And three cheers for the Governing House of Liechtenstein!

You know it makes sense!

8 June 2018

It is important to keep up the pressure

Professor William Tighe ... goodness me, what a fantastic ministry he does perform of keeping sound information circulating ... points out that Fr Weinandy has published, in The Catholic Thing, a neat, elegant, and witty demonstration that the real "Neo-Gnostics" in the Church are ... stone the crows ... the Bergoglians!! Beautiful. Understated and magnificent.

Weinandy, you will remember, was the last Warden of the Oxford Greyfriars, who wrote a helpful letter to the Pope last summer and, for his trouble, was sacked by the Yankie-doodle bishops from something or other which I cannot now remember. Neither can you.

Sackings can be such fun. I think all those with a record of criticising the current regime should be given half-a-dozen or more grand titular roles so that they can be progressively stripped of them. Thus will discipline be maintained.

I would like a few archdeaconries and canonries and one or two prebends. I don't think Pam would permit me to be an Abbot nullius, even in partibus infidelium. Extraordinary Papal Legate to the Order of the Golden Fleece would be nice. Or Apostolic Administrator in absentia of the Arctic Ice-Cap.

7 June 2018


I felicitate Americans whose Supreme Court has found for the American Evangelical bakers.

I hope our own Supreme Court will come to a similar conclusion about some Ulster Evangelical Bakers. Call me a Marsh-wiggle if you like, but I don't trust that Lady Hale who is the new president of our Court. She backed the sacking of a couple of senior Glaswegian midwives who refused to organise abortions. She held that conscience clauses only protect medical personel from being compelled physically to partake in the 'procedure'.

It will be interesting to see what today's SCUK Judgement on the validity of the Northern Irish Abortion Law comes up with. Will it resurrect the old Denning dream of judges (in effect) setting aside Statute Law?

6 June 2018


Nice images via the Internet of the reopening of the beautifully restored Church of Corpus Christi, Covent Garden. NB the Ordinariate presences at the EF Pontifical High Mass: Fr Elliot-Smith, pp of Warwick Street, deaconing; and in choir the Ordinary the Rt Revd Mgr Keith Newton  (episcopus emeritus Rutupiensis necnon et protonotarius apostolicus). And I think one of my Churchwardens may have been there. Now that really is a very good sign.

Also there in choir, Fr John Osman, who has done such wonderful things to his own exquisite little church at Dorchester near Oxford.

5 June 2018


In the last couple of days, I have enabled two comments from valued correspondents, one accusing another person of 'fatuity'; the second employing the term 'twaddle'.

Henceforth, I shall not enable comments such as these.

4 June 2018


I commend an article at New Liturgical Movement in which Dr Peter Kwasniewski argues that the Classical Roman Rite and the Classical Byzantine Rite [and one might add other rites from further East] have a commonality which the Novus Ordo lacks.

I am reminded of how the former Patriarch of Moskow welcomed Summorum Pontificum on the grounds that when East and West properly respect their own rites, they grow closer in their Common Ancient Traditions.

In the Novus Ordo, every single euchological formula in the classical Roman Rite has either been eliminated or modified or, when allowed to survive, has only been tolerated because it is considered to be in accordance with the transient and already out-dated assumptions of the 1960s.

The rupture of the 1960s can be paralleled only in the ruptures of the 'Reformation'.

BTW: I have heard on a grapevine [but not seen its text] that the Eparch in Britain for the Syro-Malabar Rite has preached a fine homily on the Liturgy as the organ of Tradition and of magisterial teaching.


A marvellous day or two last week at Ramsgate during their S Augustine's Week.

I took the train along the North Kent coast ... which was a bit of a disappointment. Passing through Rochester, I failed to see, from the train, Rochester Cathedral. The train then reached Margate, where of course, like any good Catholic, I scanned the platform carefully to see if I could catch a glimpse of the magnificent Fr Tim ... but, sadly, no sighting. Soon we slowed down to enter Broadstairs ... Ah, I thought, surely a glimpse here of a certain dignified episcopal presence ... but there was not a sign of His Excellency to wave me on my way with a Dickensian benediction or to cheer me with a snatch of Beethoven.

But Ramsgate was no disappointment. From the superb between-the-Wars Railway Station onwards, every prospect pleased. Not least the sight of the hospitable Shrine Rector, Fr Marcus, and of my old friend and colleague from Lancing, Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate, a considerable Historian. The Catholics of Ramsgate are very fortunate in their clergy.

If you don't know Ramsgate, as I didn't, you should follow my lead and remedy the omission (preferably during S Augustine's Week). I peered out through the sea fret almost hoping to see a phantasma of S Augustine's boat bringing the purest Roman Christianity to the people of Kent; then i looked round the Church which now houses a relic of the Saint. Forgive me for going all wet on you, but I felt a great sense of being 'in on' the foundation of the English Church, a millennium and a half ago.

And Ramsgate had the luck to be favoured by Pugin, the architectural wizard who breathed more than a little life into the memories of the Age of Faith. His house ... his Church. Apparently, he had a tunnel from his house down to where his boat was moored, so that he could rescue sailors (and their cargoes) who navigated carelessly close to the Goodwin Sands. Believe it or not, he built his Church out of the money he made from salvaging.

The next morning I said a private Mass of Corpus Christi in S Ethelbert's Church before setting off back to the Midlands, leaving as the clergy and laity were about to go on a boat trip to look at the sandbank and to see England, aka Pegwell Bay, from the point of view of an approaching Italian missionary band.

I do so very much hope they got back safely. Perhaps someone could reassure me ...

3 June 2018

Introibo ITERUM ad altare Dei

Many readers will remember the story of the priest in Revolutionary France, who, vested as for Mass, said the praeparatio while ascending the steps to the guillotine. Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam. As the erudite Dr Simon Cotton reminded me the other day, his name was Noel Pinot; having refused to take the oath whereby he would have submitted to the State, he was arrested while secretly saying Mass in a remote farmhouse in the Vendee during the February of 1794, and executed not long afterwards.

I find it a haunting story. So often, as I stand at the foot of Mount Moriah and in my unworthiness prepare to go up the Temple Mount to offer to the Father the Tamid Lamb for His whole people, the image of Blessed Noel Pinot climbing that ladder comes back to me. And here is a certainty, for me as for every single priest in the world: there will be a day, one particular day and not another, when by God's grace I offer that Sacrifice, that Mystery, a Beauty so ancient and yet so new, for my last time in via.

If you are celebrating today the Feast or the Octave Sunday or the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi, of your charity pray for all of us who have this awe-full responsibility, and also for so many young men who this month will be ordained to the Sacred Priesthood, to be sons of our Father Aaron.

May the Ancient of Days make His merciful Face to shine upon all His cohanim.

2 June 2018

Newly overbumped

On the first day last week of this year's Eights Week Races, I strolled down to see a Historical First. It was the first time St Benet's Hall had fielded ... if that's the right term ... a women's boat.

Benets never had women until this year. You see, it is an offial Benedictine House as well as being a PPH of this University, and I gather there is something rather obscurantist in the Regula or else in current law about women lurking in men's houses. But Benets has a new Master ... who is no longer a Benedictine monk from Ampleforth. This lay Master, according to rumour, is not unknown in the circles of the S Gallen Mafia. Under his new regime, an important decision was taken. So that it could hold its own among the other colleges, secularised more than a century ago, Benets needed, of course, to have women. Don't we all? So it purchased the former convent in Norham Gardens (my generation at Staggers will remember it). That is where they hide their women undergraduates (these are not, I believe, women religious).

And this year, their women showed on the River, having secured a place through the Rowing On process, in the bottom Women's Division.

They looked terribly nervous. One of them said "per omnia saecula saeculorum", another added "Kyrie eleison", and a third asked "Does anybody know any other Latin words?" (You couldn't make it up, could you? I promise I haven't.)

The gun went off; off they went; and I watched until, intactae, the sweet little mites disappeared under Donnington Bridge and out of my sight. I gather that later, sadly, they were bumped: indeed, they were overbumped. What would S Benedict have made of that? What is the Latin for 'overbumped'? Unaccountably, the Vatican Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis affords no help.

I think I know how the Benets Women's Boat, next year, could begin the long journey to Head of the River. My solution is very much in the Spirit of S Gallen and of the Zeitgeist. All the beefiest young male Benedictines at Benets should "Self-Identify" as women. Perhaps the Master should lead the way.

Hey Presto!! Bob's your uncle!!! Tempora mutantur, nos et ... er ...

1 June 2018

Fasting Communion

When the Venerable Pius XII and Blessed Paul VI made their respective interventions with regard to the Eucharistic Fast, the assumption (very strongly asserted by Pacelli) was that all who could do so would continue to fast from midnight ... the new rules being an accommodation to the constraints of life in the modern secular polis, provided for those who need them.

All that seems now forgotten. I have just been looking at the Horarium of a Novus Ordo religious community; they start at 7:00 with the Office of Readings; at 7:15, Personal Prayer; at 8:15, Breakfast; at 9:05, Morning Prayer; at 9:30, Eucharist. My purpose is not to criticise other Christians who are probably a great deal holier than I am but to draw attention to the fact that they are quite willing to get out of bed to appear in Chapel at 7:00, but there is apparently no instinct whatsoever
(1) to organise their time so that they begin with Laudes, the service which should be the first, because it lauds God at the time of the rising Sun, the great icon of Christ our Orient; or
(2) to celebrate the Eucharist fasting before diving into the happy dissipations of breakfast. Yet, being Religious, there is probably no practical reason why they cannot do this.

When I was a seminarian at Staggers in the mid-sixties, we had Mattins, then Meditation, then Mass, then Breakfast, so as to be free to start the academic day at 9:00. Before Staggers, as an undergraduate, I used to go to Mags before breakfast every morning, and usually there were visiting priests saying private masses at the other altars during the public Mass.

But my main grouse today is that not even traditionalists assign much of a priority to Mass-before-breakfast. And this post is not an attempt to rerun discussions we've had together before, in which we all agree that it would have been better if the Church had stuck to the three-hour fast. Brekker at 8:00 for example, then Mass at, say, 12:00, is not what I think accords with the Tradition of both East and West. It is not what anybody in the West or East before Pius XII would have considered to be real  'Fasting Communion'. And even when we come to organise traddy conferences, we don't seem to attach much importance to having Mass before breakfast.

I am not all hot and bothered about this, nor am I terribly flush with solutions: I just wanted to raise the question.