30 September 2018


I have now returned to Business As Normal and have rushed through proferred Comments on the blogposts of the last fortrnight, enabling, I hope, most of them.

I am sorry to have delayed the publication of so many admirable limericks. And Tolkienish suggestions.

28 September 2018

BETJEMAN: Anglo-Catholic Congresses

We, who remember the Faith, the grey-headed ones,
   Of those Anglo-Catholic Congresses swinging along,
Who heard the South Coast salvo of incense-guns
   And surged to the Albert Hall in our thousands strong
   With 'extreme' colonial bishops leading in song;

We, who remember, look back to the blossoming May-time
   On ghosts of servers and thurifers after Mass,
The slapping of backs, the flapping of cassocks, the play-time*,
   A game of Grandmother's steps on the vicarage grass -
   "Father, a little more sherry. I'll fill your glass."

We recall the triumph, that Sunday after Ascension,
  When our Protestant suffragan suffered himself to be coped -
The SYA* and the Scheme for Church Extension -
   The new diocesan's not as 'sound' as we'd hoped,
   And Kensit threatens and has Sam Gurney poped?

Yet, under the Travers baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
   The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
   The bells and banners - those were the waking days
   When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.
* Dr Simon Cotton tells me that SYA means the Seven Years Association and refers me to Ivan Clutterbuck's Marginal Catholics. A junior branch of the Church Union, founded by Peter Winckworth  at the Anglo-Catholic Congress of 1933, and with its own chapel (of the Ascension) in the Shrine at Walsingham. Members undertook obedience to the precepts of the Church until the next ACC, scheduled for 1940. So the mis-en-scene of the poem is pinned down to 1933-1940.

26 September 2018

Epicurus and Euripides have Tea in Shrewsbury College

This continues from the previous post.
Regularly, twice a year, some British Government minister gives certain formulaic and ritual undertakings.

Apparently there is so much violence against girls - of thirteen years or even as young as eleven - including a great deal of sexual violence from boyfriends - that the government is going to take action. What sort of action? Somehow reinforcing patterns of parental control? Ensuring that parents know how their young are dressed and where they're going and what they're doing and who they're with and what time they come home? A long and up-hill struggle to reintroduce patterns of courtship and of gradualism in the development of relationships? Seminars for the young on Modesty?

Not on your life. They will take the same action as they promised six months ago. Children aged five (or three?) and upwards are to be taught in school about the wrongness of violence against females.

Sex and drink need ritual. They need inherited and formalised restraints. For, as Euripides taught the Athenians in their theatre, Aphrodite and Dionysus are dangerous gods. If you don't believe me, ask Hippolytus or Pentheus. When you fail to treat the divinities with respect, they take you to the cleaners. What is wrong with our society is not that the schools fail adequately to drive home the imperatives of political correctness; it is that members of the cultural elite have in the last generations prided themselves on destroying the restraints and deriding the rituals; and now the gods have descended upon them, as they did upon that Hideous Strength, and, my goodness, with what a vengeance. And those elites don't like it. And the only remedy they seem to be capable of discerning is the ancient mantra: "Doctor says keep on taking the pills". But what the Modern Girl needs is not more skill in contraception and better access to abortifacients, but careful lessons on how to entertain the Modern Boy to Tea.

And there can never have been a society which knew so little about hedone - real pleasure. I doubt if our culture of binge drinking delivers half the pleasure of wine approached with respect and drunk in accordance with archaic rituals (I know you will remember the Alec Guinness clergyman character in Kind Hearts and Coronets reminding the visiting 'bishop' that "The decanter is with you, my Lord").

And I doubt if our culture of instant polybonk delivers a tenth of the pleasure of wondering whether she really meant to brush your hand with hers as she offered you another sandwich.

25 September 2018

Did you ever have tea at Shrewsbury College?

A story existed, in the happy days when Oxford had Men's colleges and Women's colleges, of a group of women undergraduates gossiping at a hen-party - one girl from each of the then women's colleges. In dashes another girl, with the explosive news "I've just met a man!"

How each young lady replies reveals the alleged preoccupations which ruled in each of their colleges. The Somerville girl asks "What's he reading? Is he a Scholar?". The undergraduate from LMH: "Who's his father? Is he in the House of Lords?". The one from St Hugh's: "What does he play? Is he a Blue?" From St Hilda's - an undreamily practical lot of girls there - "Where is he?" But lastly, because she seems to lack the same sense of urgency as the rest of them, the St Anne's undergraduate drawls: "I've already had him to tea".

[Alumnae of D L Sayers' Shrewsbury College might devise a version including that home of learning.]

Time was when you walked out to a women's college for Tea with a very satisfying frisson within you. Not least because the ratio of women to men was 1:7 (according to rumour, at Cambridge it was 1:9, which is why most heterosexual males applied to Oxford leaving Cambridge almost exclusively occupied by Old Etonian Marxist homosexuals already in the pay of the KGB). From four o'clockish, if you were lucky, that could mean two and a half hours of gentle, tentative verbal interaction and exploration until you did a quick sprint back to your own college, splashed some water, dived into your gown, and hurried down to Hall for Dinner. Happy days.

Not that in Hall you could gossip with your friends about the pleasures of the afternoon. To do so would be a sconceable offence. "Williams, would you present my compliments to the Senior Scholar; and I desire to sconce Mr Smith for talking about a lady". The sconce, a silver quart tankard full of beer, would arrive*; either Mr Smith could drink it all in one draft (draught?), holding the tankard with only one hand, and then, if he kept it down, the man who had sconced him had the cost of the beer put on to his battels; or Smith could just drink some, and then wipe the rim and pass it on for all to do likewise, and the cost went on to his own battels.
Concludes tomorrow.


*You could appeal to High Table against the Senior Scholar's verdict, but the written appeal had to be in Latin, and dons liked to take their time before replying eadem lingua.

24 September 2018

A Julian BREXIT?

A Handbook of Dates For students of British History appeared in a new edition in 2000; C R Cheney and revised by Michael Jones*. They wouldn't get away with that title nowadays, because, while the book gives the Regnal Years of English monarchs, it appears entirely ignorant of Scotch kings ... not to mention Welsh princes. It really is a trifle parochial; thus, it only gives Julian Easters down to 1752, when we went Gregorian, although it would have been useful (despite the self-limitation of the title) in the one volume to have continued the Julian information down to the present and beyond.

It does provide the complete layout of the unique year 1752, when the people of England were deprived of eleven days of life as September was reduced to a mere nineteen days so as to bring us out of the old Julian Calendar and into line with the Gregorian Calendar of Western Europe.

And now these Three Kingdoms (as we used to call them before they were renamed the Yewkay ... I have found the older usage surviving in literature as late as the 1930s) are due to slip their European moorings and slink off into mid-Ocean in the hope of striking lucrative trade deals with the lost continent of Atlantis. No longer will the right wing Press be able to inspire terror at such thoughts as EU standardisation of the shape of bananas, Imperial being replaced by Metrical, and all that.

But what nobody, even the Daily Mail, has advocated is going the Whole Hog by resuming use of the Julian Calendar. "Thirteen additional days of Life! A longer Summer!! A two week August Bank Holiday!!!" What's not to like? It wouldn't matter if a subsequent British Europhile regime reversed such legislation as long as in doing so they snipped the thirteen (or fourteen?) days out of the middle of winter. Who would resent being deprived of a fortnight in January? It would be a win-win situation.

You know it makes sense. Everything I suggest invariably makes sense.

Paperback, Cambridge University Press, ISBN-10 0-521-77845-X

23 September 2018

The Anglican VIA MEDIA revisited

It occurs to me that there may be more to the Anglican notion that Anglicans constitute a via media between Protestants and Papists than we sometimes suppose.

Official Anglicanism, after all, cheerfully, whole heartedly, and gleefully persecuted both Papists and Protestants. As far as the former are concerned, I wrote in 1992: "We [Anglicans] should acknowlege that ... the great historical fact is that, for hundreds of years, the community of which we are the inheritors defined itself in broad, popular, international and cultural terms by opposition to Rome, to priesthood, and to sacramental religion. We helped to torture and kill those who perceived themselves - and were perceived by others - to be maintaining these things. ... for centuries we persecuted other Christians and then, when we finally realised that they had been largely right all the time, we couldn't even be decently apologetic and humble about it".

As far as Methodism is concerned, in the 1930s Dom Gregory Dix wrote about the hunger of the early Methodists for frequent Communion (Wesley rather liked a daily Mass) and commented "When one contrasts this hunger for communion with the torpid rapacity of prelates like Archbishop Manners-Sutton, who combined the See of Canterbury (then worth £40,000 a year) with sixty-three livings with cure of souls as well as other preferment, what can one say but that, great as is the sin of schism, the sin of Amaziah the priest of Bethel may well be greater still?"

In an age in which it appears to be fashionable to apologise for what one's predecessors or ancestors did, I wonder when Official Anglicanism is going to apologise for the via media from the comfort of which it raked with its heavy artillery the poor dissenters on each side of that Way. And let us not forget the Unitarians whom it continued to burn for long after the 1559 breach with Rome.

Will a Lambeth Palace Spokesman give us dates for all these very necessary ritual grovellings?

19 September 2018

The Corn, the Wine, and the Oil

As I settled down to supper and dowsed some bread (Italian) in olive oil (Greek, Kalamata) and enjoyed the reassuring gurgle of some wine (Gascon, ad honorem deiparae Virginis de Lapurdo nuncupatae) I thought of the exquisite biblical phrase 'the corn, the wine, and the oil'. And I recalled that the old Ember Days (commonly ignored now in the 'diocesan Church' ... today is an Ember Day!!) grew out of the old Mediterranean harvests (Pentecost: cereals; September: vintage; December: olives. See G G Willis 1964).

Some of the more intelligent American bishops are ordering the restoration in their jurisdictions of the Ember days. These are the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays of certain weeks which were celebrated as agricultural festivals in the Roman world. They were continued in the Roman Rite, but with a penitential sobriety intended to reform the excesses of the pagan celebrations. Because of the fasting, they became thought of as he ideal times for Ordinations. And so these admirable American bishops are suggesting the penitential use of the Ember Weeks in the context of the present very great crisis in the Church. Needless to say, the Ordinariate Missal retains the Ember Days.

But perhaps we had better start off with a fundamental point about the survival in the Roman Rite of Ember Days. And the theological point is this: our Faith is a Mediterranean faith, rooted in the agricultural communities of the Mediterranean basin, from the Hebrew Patriarchs onwards ... let us never forget that our Hebrew Faith is not 2,000 years old, but three (at least) thousand. And our sacraments are inextricably bound up with the Corn, the Wine, and the Oil. And the denial of the Corn, the Wine, and the Oil is the basic heresy, the elemental root of all error.

I don't only have in mind the iniquity of anti-alcoholism, although that is part of it. The Gnostics, creation-denying dualists, celebrated 'eucharists' in water, and we can share the righteous disgust of that acute theologian Dr Augustus Fagan ("Lloyd George, the temperance movement, Nonconformity, and lust stalking hand in hand through the country, wasting and ravaging"). The fact that Methodists and others commonly use substances other than wine in their communion services is not, as professional ecumenists try to get away with implying, some minor detail, easily fudged. And the disappearance of the Chrism in Protestantism is a real apostasy.

But more insidious still is the idea that the principle of inculturation could be applied to the elements used in the Christian sacraments. I have known suggestions that to use bread made from something other than wheat, alcohol produced not from grapes, and the oil of vegetables other than olives, would 'affirm' cultures which do not find their origins in the Mediterranean basin. This seems to be based on the notion that Christianity is an idea; and ideas can, in different cultures, be garbed in different clothes. That is what is the basic heresy. Because Christianity is not an idea. It is a Person, a God who took flesh - a particular flesh - from a particular Girl in a particular country in a particular culture. This is why the Liturgy insistently proclaims that Blessed Mary, single-handed, puts down all the heresies in universo mundo.

And that God, born of her ovaries, in that flesh died on a Cross made from a particular Tree: "One of the Trinity died upon the Cross". And He did so after He had, on a particular evening, given Himself to His friends under the outer appearances of a loaf and a cupful of wine. This particularity and this materiality, this rootedness, is Christianity. That is why the Gnostics were not Christians, and why Matthew Fox is not a Christian. And the Matter of the Sacraments is rooted in the particularity of that Incarnation and its culture.

Without the Corn, the Wine, and the Oil, nulla salus.

18 September 2018

Organic development

There are still people who do not understand the difference between Organic Development of the Liturgy, as suggested by Sacrosanctum Concilium  of Vatican II, and the sort of liturgical ruptures perpetrated in the post-Conciliar decade.

I have before me an Altar Missal printed in 1903. It was kept sedulously up to date during the first part of the twentieth century, by paste and fountain pen. Among the Prefaces, S Joseph is pasted in. After the Sunday following Corpus Christi, a very neat fountain pen has annotated "Feria VI post Oct: C.C. Festum SS. Cordis Jesu invenietur p. 380". After the Pentecost Sundays, Henricus Dante has provided the proper texts for Christus Rex, which are duly and carefully inserted. In June 1943, [Bishop] Edward Myers  has given the OK (perhaps it was difficult to secure printed texts from the continental liturgical publishers) for the Commune unius aut plurium Summorum Pontificum, and throughout the Sanctorale the Careful Pen has duly 'corrected' the entries for Holy Popes.

Personally, I dislike that characteristically Pius XII innovation of a distinctive Commune; Popes do not belong to some sacramental Order superior to that of Bishops. As originally authorised, that Commune actually and disgracefully prescribed the use on such days of the Praefatio Apostolorum; subsequently ... mercifully ... this little example of hyperpapalist excess was deleted.

The saints whose cultus was promulgated, or, in most cases, extended to the Universal Church during the Twenties and Thirties, are pasted in, providing a kaleidoscopic experience of the different typographical styles of the great publishing houses which in those happy days served the needs of the Latinophone Church ... except during the war years when Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, Ltd, London, got a look-in. The Preface for the departed, the first of the 'neo-Gallican' prefaces to be authorised for the Universal Church, got the paste-brush in 1919, entered among the Masses for the Departed..

Whoever was the careful custodian of this Missal had hung up his pen and his paste-brush before the 1950s. Gaudeamus is undisturbed upon August 15.

The book is still capable of being used now, more than a century after it was printed, by those who celebrate the Old Mass. This is the litmus test for 'organic evolution'. It is more than can be said for the books which, confected during the 1960s or 1970s, sit gathering dust in the sacristies of England.

17 September 2018

82, and counting ...

As more and more people wonder about PF's mental health, I have decided to reprint a piece I published about six months ago.
I think PF will soon be 82 years old. Since more and more voices world-wide seem to be talking about the possibility of this pontificate coming to a conclusion, I have been looking through the age-at-death of recent Roman Pontiffs. According to the rough notes I have made on the back of an old envelope next to my computer, the following ages, since Pius XI inclusively, seem at least roughly right [I excluded Pope John Paul I, the one-month pontiff]:
Pius XI, 82; Pius XII, 82; John XXIII, 82; Paul VI, 82; John Paul II, 85. [Benedict XVI was elected at the age of 78 and five years later is still 'making his pilgrimage home'.]

It would be interesting to know how long popes from before this period lived. A priori, it might be expected to be less long, because they had less advantage from modern medical advances. But I don't have enough backs-of-envelopes ...

I do not intend to suggest that an actuary would consider PF's death to be imminent ... although his own words after election, that he expected his pontificate to be only four or five years long, might suggest that he had himself used the backs of his own envelopes! No; my object is totally different.

(1) Conclaves seem very willing to elect quite old prelates to be pope. Curious, when the retirement age for bishops is 75; and, curiouser, one might have thought that bishops had less work and less strain than popes ... but, well, there you go.
(2) We seem to be in the middle of increases in the numbers of the elderly suffering from senile dementia. A quick foray into the Internet suggested to the back of my very humble envelope that perhaps one in six of those beyond the age of 80 has dementia. That really is quite a lot.

So it looks as if we have been distinctly fortunate in the excellent mental health of those elected pope from 1922 right down to the present. Long may our good luck hold!

But can we afford to be complacent? Given statistics like these, and if Conclaves keep electing old men, sooner or later we are going to have a pope with dementia.

If a bishop starts to have worrying symptoms, the Nuncio ... his Metropolitan ... the Congregation for Bishops ... the Pope himself ... all have the opportunity to intervene. But what if the Pope himself ...

Is there canonical provision for such a situation? If not, I think there should be. And, as Fr Aidan Nichols has hinted, there might also be provisions for the situation where the man who was the previous pope promoted heresy; so why not for a pope who, prima facie, is spreading heresy?.

In fact, it seems to me that there should be a whole new section in the CIC called de Romano Pontifice semovendo. The Times recently quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr as remarking that a constitution should be framed with "the bad man" in mind, because a state or an institution needs structures enabling it not merely to potter comfortably along in normal times, but also to survive a despot, or a sociopath, or a dunce ...

The Church Militant needs to take such advice on board. Her survival is indeed divinely guaranteed, but the whole economy of Faith rests on the assumption of a God who works with and through human synergy.

The Depths

In Saturday's Times, Mgr Roderick Strange, formerly Rector of the Beda, wrote:

"And it may be that even now the depths have not been plumbed, as allegations seek to compromise Pope Francis".

I wonder what he knows ... Mr Henry Sire's latest article at Onepeterfive about Cardinal Bergoglio's years in Argentina is most disturbing.

I will be reprinting in a few minutes a piece I wrote about six months ago when I was worried about PF's mental health. Frankly, and particularly in view of his habitual mendacity and buck-passing, I increasingly incline to fear that PF's problem is moral rather than psychiatric.

16 September 2018

Mainly for Tolkienists and Hellenists.

Currently, in the New Bod, there is quite a tasty little exhibition relating to the brilliant Catholic apologist and philologist J R R Tolkien. Among the goodies is a jeu penned by T when on a walking holiday with fellow Inklings.

It constitutes a spoof Examination Paper. This is how it begins:

College of Cretacious Perambulators. 

[?1] April 1938

Comment on the following.

(1) It is no good setting them that, they would know it.
(2) 'The poet sat in the third and laughed.'
(3) 'Ten twenty thirty you're very dirty.'
(4) 'The Armada can wait but my bowels can't.'
(5) Panta sphairei [in Greek letters with accents.]
(6) Felix qui potuit felis cognoscere caudam.

(1) presumably parodies the thought processes assumed to be present in the minds of cantankerous examiners. (3) is from George MacDonald ... Does anybody have any thoughts about (2)? Or about contextualisation in general?

(4), (5), and (6) speak for themselves ... or do they? In (5), the ink of the final two letters is much stronger, and it appears to me that they represent a correction of what was first written rather more faintly. Grammarians will immediately guess that the lectio prima might have been Panta sphairoi. But, in either case, what is the phrase supposed to mean?

I wonder if there are conceptual links between the 'questions'. One could certainly imagine a link between the appalling Drake's profluent bowels and the apophthegm of Heraclitus "Panta rhei". And between Heraclitus and the greatest of the Greek philosophers, Epicurus, as mediated through Lucretius to Virgil.

Whose was the cat and whence its sapient tail?

15 September 2018


From today and for two weeks, I shall not be reading emails or moderating comments. But I still hope that there will be daily posting on this blog.

Sub tuum praesidium ...

The earliest known prayer to our Lady is found first in a Greek Papyrus from around the year 200.

The Latin text which most Catholics will know either in the Latin or in a vernacular translation can be rendered:

We fly to [really 'beneath'] thy protection, O Holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O ever [the 'ever' should really go with 'deliver us'] glorious and blessed Virgin.

The Greek in the papyrus could be rendered thus:
We flee beneath thy mercy, O Mother of God; do not overlook our petitions in necessity, but deliver us from danger, O only Chaste, only Blessed.

You will notice that 'protection' was originally* compassionate mercy, eusplagnia. The root here is a word literally meaning 'bowels', seen as the seat of feeling, of compassion. When the Synoptic writers say that "Jesus had compassion upon ... ", this is the root they are employing. The Apostles sometimes beg their converts to show eusplagnia to each other. And the word for 'deliver' is the same one that we have at the end of the our Father. The prayer, in other words, is thoroughly biblical in its language, and the writer is clearly familiar with the Lucan narrative in which our Lady is Blessed, eulogemene. It is interesting to note how, well before the Council of Ephesus, it seems natural to call our Lady Mother of God.

It might seem odd to call our Lady only [mone] chaste. And other women might also qualify as blessed. I take it that the sense is that Mary is in quite a different league from other chaste and blessed women. Perhaps the point is that our Lady's chastity reaches deeply into her being so as to protect her from the sensual corruptions of the Enemy. If so, it is a witness to her Immaculate Conception.

Indeed, it is the very elevation assigned to the Mother of God that made the first modern editor of the rediscovered text misrepresent the date of this lovely prayer.


* Logically, of course, the Latin and the Greek might both come from a lost common archetype ...

14 September 2018

Ticking me off

I would much prefer that people who submit comments should do so under their own names. However, I certainly understand some proper motives for not doing so, particularly among clergy and academics. So I will not bluster or rant about this.

Editors of newspapers still maintain the old principle of declining anonymous communications, except in the most exceptional circumstances. This is good. One of the problems, surely, about the internet is the encouragement it has given to people to hurl anonymous, and therefore unaccountable, abuse for which they take no responsibility.

What I intend no longer to tolerate are those (I think, two) who tick me off, wagging their forefingers like Victorian Schoolmarms, and lecture me in a condescending way ... from behind a pseudonym. It's not the criticism so much as the asymmetry that gets me: my name, history, and personality are public knowledge; but my tellers-off maintain a lofty and protective anonymity.

I could ban particular pseudonyms, but that would be pointless because s/he could just invent a new pseudonym. So I'll probably just commit such occasional irritants to "Delete for ever".

I once expressed my views about a writer who called him/herself "Savonarola". I used inverted commas because I assumed that this was not his/her real name. In retaliation, s/he placed inverted commas round "Fr Hunwicke". Since John William Hunwicke is the name I have gone under since 13 March 1941 (sometimes, since around June 1968, varied to "Fr Hunwicke"), I took exception to the curious implication that Hunwicke was a crafty and invented pseudonym behind which I was nervously concealing my true identity.

Just plain rude, it seems to me.

13 September 2018

On His Holiness's Most Secret and Most Sacred Service

There are Internet reports that the Vatican's Secret Security Service has been given, as its most highly prioritised current operation, orders to hunt down H E Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

Such reports give us quite a new insight into daily life in the City of Saints.

"Il nome e Bond ... ... Giacomo Bond ..."

But perhaps Archbishop Vigano is not in great danger. When those rather naughty posters were stuck up all round central Rome attacking PF, we were told that Security would soon discover and punish the culprits ... but no very extreme measures seem to have been taken ...

... or perhaps the Holy See is running low in its stocks of Novichoc ...

I take this opportunity to make it absolutely clear that there is absolutely no truth whatsoever in any rumour that Mgr Vigano is under the protection of the Ordinariates; or in any report that he is being moved from Safe House to Safe House within those Ordinariates, always just one step ahead of 'Smersh' Parolin's hit squads.

And, as far as I know, it is simply not true that Vigano has secured a Reader's Pass to the Bodleian Library and habitually sits at the third desk on the left as you enter the Patristics Room. Nor do I consider it at all likely that the Crown will nominate him to a Regius Professorship in Ecclesiastical History.

One should not believe everything one hears.

12 September 2018

Archbishop Gaenswein

I think it would be a genre error to try to read the Archbishop's fine lecture in the hope of discovering coded cricisms of the current regime. I think his intention is to point us back to the Magisterial documents of Benedict XVI, on the understanding that Pope Benedict had very accurately discerned the signs of the times, both with regard to the Church and the World.

In the current crisis, it is by drinking again from the wisdom of Papa Ratzinger that we shall equip ourselves for the future. This is bang on.

I suppose there is an implication here that we may not get much help or encouragement from documents of this pontificate; and perhaps PF might not feel that G is terribly on-message. But G is, I feel sure, laying down some directional pointers by showing where the resources are which will help us forward beyond the present pontificate. And this is precisely what we need.

I believe we should take the lecture very seriously, particuarly the quotations from Benedict.

The Most Holy Name of Mary

Today's suggested Pious Resolution: to get into the way of bowing your head reverently at the Holy Name of Jesus ... and at that also of His Most Holy Mother.

My apologies to those of you who do this already; but my impression is that very few people do, even among the pious, even among the pious clergy. Yet bowing at the Name of Jesus is even prescribed in the old Canon Law of the Patrimonial Church of England to be done by clergy and laity alike, and this order was explicitly retained in the twentieth century revision of Canon Law. And, of course, it was laid down in the old Ritus Celebrandi Missam: 'When the Name of Jesus is named, [the celebrant] bows his head ... and similarly whenevever the Name of blessed Mary is named, or that of the Saints of whom the mass is said ...'. (Modern legislation regarding the Novus Ordo makes the same provision; I wonder how often Novus Ordo enthusiasts do so.) I try to do this, not only liturgically, but also when I hear the Name of our Saviour uttered lightly as an expletive.

A great Bishop of Exeter, John Grandisson, made the encouragement of this the first thing he did when he arrived in Exeter in 1328 after having been 'provided' to the see by his friend and patron, that immensely interesting pontiff John XXII. In his decree Ineffabilis Misericordiae Matris he wrote 'The Mother of Mercy - a mercy beyond all words - has endlessly shown favour with ready hand to the whole human race, from the beginning of our redemption; favours that will last for ever. Having these always before our eyes, and not forgetting how often she has helped, cared for, protected and excused us before her Son, and has graciously reconciled us to herself, we desire with all our heart to entice and enflame the minds of others to her love and service.' He went on to remind his cathedral clergy of the 'very great indulgences which we know Popes Urban IV and John XXII graciously to have granted' and to add to these a new indulgence of his own to all his clergy who 'sweetly call to mind the Name of her Son Jesus Christ or of Mary, when it is sung or read, by bowing their head.'

This is not only a matter of Law but also, surely, a decorous and attractive indication of our servitium Mariae.

11 September 2018

Not Answering Questions

Some writers on the Internet have noticed that PF, since his masterly handling of reporters' questions  in the Airliner after Viganogate, has been rather preoccupied with Biblical allusions to Silence. Much tut-tutting has been expressed by some of these rather censorious writers, who feel that PF has been rather bold in comparing himself to the Lord who was led out in Silence like a lamb to be sacrificed. Others have sarcastically alluded to the contrast beteen his recent stratospheric taciturnity and the endless loquacity which particularly characterised the first carefree years of his pontificate. Personally, I wondered if he was going into training before retiring to Mount Athos to immerse himself in the Hesychia of the Palamite monastic tradition (don't forget you read it here first).

But, this last Sunday (XVI post Pentecosten), PF has missed a fine opportunity to add to his growing collection of Biblical proof-texts about the aureity of Silence. If, as I daringly surmise, PF celebrated he Novus Ordo rather than the Mass of Ages, he missed the opportunity of reading (as the rest of us did in the EF) and preaching upon a passage in S Luke Chapter 14. It includes verses 2-6, in which the Lord addressed a question (or, as we might say nowadays, posed a dubium) to the nomikoi kai Pharisaioi (Torah-experts and Pharisees) about whether it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not.

Hoi de hesychasan (But they kept silent)! How very, how exactly like the new and evasive PF!! They were not going to run the risk of answering questions which might expose them! They weren't born yesterday! You don't get to where they got to by answering tricky questions!


I know what some of you are saying: "Here is Fr H sneering yet again at the Novus Ordo. As mandated by Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II, a much broader set of Biblical readings is now available for the edification of the Faithful. The next liturgical Year is C in the cycle, which means that we shall soon be getting a real ear-full of S Luke for an entire year, doubtlessly including those five particular verses which H is so keen on. I'll prove it ... just hang on while I flip through the Sundays per Annum ... here we are ... Year C ... look at that! ... 22nd Sunday per Annum ... there you are ... Luke Chapter 14 ... here it is ... Oh dear, here it isn't ... the Gospel reading seems to skip from verse 1 straight to verse 7 ... er ..."

Indeed so. 'Seems to skip' is just about the size of it. [Those who go to Mass daily will, however, hear those verses on the Friday of Week 30.] Most Catholics, indeed most bishops and popes, in their pursuit of the Novus Ordo, will be spared these verses at Sunday Mass for their entire lives! (A similar situation exists in the Church of England, where those who use the Three Year Lectionary will never hear these verses, while the Book of Common Prayer admirably gives the unmangled Tridentine reading on Trinity 17.)

These sorts of lectionary details can be checked in about 12.5 seconds by using the immensely handy Index Lectionum by Matthew P Hazell. Everybody should possess one!

10 September 2018


On Sunday morning, the Beeb broadcast extracts from the young people's service at the English Catholic Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool, which had taken place the previous day.

Liturgical Apartheid along age lines has always intrigued me. At Lancing we once had a head master who profoundly disliked our traditional Catholic Solemn Mass; in the end, as a compromise, it was agreed that the younger students would have a separate and more "age-appropriate" plain-said-Mass-with-hymns provided for them. This led to a most diverting rebellion; some of the students concerned, naturally, would have preferred not to be compelled at all to go to Chapel, but they all made it very clear that, if they had to attend, they insisted on going to a 'proper', adult, service. The 'experiment' was discontinued amid general rejoicing.

So I listened with curiosity to the first part of the Liverpool service!

It began with addresses by two Metropolitan Archbishops. The first of these Most Reverend and Palliate Fathers expressed his joy at being with the vigorous young people because "people in anoracs with grey hair" tended to be a bit tired. The second hierarch also managed a deft sneer at the older people "next door". (In Classical Latin Rhetoric, this sort of game is called a captatio benevolentiae.)

Beautifully old-fashioned, don't you feel? We shall know that our archbishops really have been swept up into Modern Thinking about Ageism when they also tell older people how much better it is to be with wiser and more experienced people than it is to waste time with the rash and facile impetuosity of Youth.

Or, far far better than both, when they have learned the difficult art of speaking to Catholics of all and every ages without any such clericalist condescension. Sneering at one age group is not, surely, the only way of ingratiating oneself with another group. Indeed, I find this sort of Age Discrimination distinctly unattractive.

They were followed by a voluble and enthusiastic (but pallium-free) Americanette. She started by trying to get a revivalist-style roar out of the gathering ... but failed! This was the point at which a "Whoopee" sensation passed through my mind, as I realised that our splendid Catholic young people were not going to allow themselves to be led by their unwilling noses into noisy vulgarity. This augurs well for the future of English Catholicism, and I am most certainly not being ironic or, I hope, condescending in saying so.

But the speaker didn't like their reticence, and she accused the gathering of ... ... lacking "spunk"!!! Yes, she actually used that indecent obscenity!!!

Two great nations, indeed, divided by a common language!

I was so glad I had listened in. One must keep in touch with the Mainstream.

8 September 2018

Ave Maris Stella

Vespers of our Lady, which we shall celebrate this evening (with Commemoration of the Sunday) gives us the iucunditas of the hymn Ave Maris Stella.

 In the English Catholic Hymn Book and in the form of Vespers of our Blessed Lady, published by the Society of SS Peter and Paul, a translation is given of Ave Maris Stella which begins Star of ocean fairest/ Mother, God who barest ...This appeared in 1904 in a volume called Songs of Syon, edited by a priest called George Radcliffe Woodward (1848-1934). Woodward served at Houghton S Giles near Walsingham; he and his wife were buried at Walsingham; so he looks rather like a bit of Walsingham's Catholic pre-History, from before Year 1 of the Hope Patten Era. Like many Anglican Catholics - even papalists such as Fr Fynes Clinton and Fr Hope Patten - his ecumenical breadth spread beyond the Catholic West to Orthodoxy; he produced a translation of the Akathist Hymn (the philobyzantinist  aspect of the Patrimony is something which we should not lose).

Star of Ocean Fairest was itself the work of the Revd Thomas Isaac Ball (1838-1916), who held a number of Scottish curacies, was for many years a leading member of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and became Provost of the College of the Holy Spirit, Cumbrae (a theological College within the Scottish Episcopal Church - nowadays a small and muddy liberal puddle but, at one time, a distinctly 'Catholic' province of the Anglican Communion). He had in 1863 translated a number of Latin hymns for the Appendix to the Hymnal Noted of S Alban's, Holborn (I wonder if Star was one of them? Does anyone have a copy?).

I suspect that Athelstan Riley's version of Ave Maris Stella, which is the version offered by the English Hymnal (and its bastard progeny The New English Hymnal), was an attempt to produce a slightly toned-down version of the original, in the hope that it would be easier for the 'Mainstream' to use. This is not an unworthy political decision for someone to take whose basic motive is to encourage devotion to our Lady. But I, for one, have always been a trifle uneasy about it.

I am in no way hostile to Athelstan Riley, a great Anglo-Catholic layman who played a distinctive role in the completion of Lancing Chapel and more or less created a magical little 'Catholic' hamlet called Little Petherick in Cornwall. I have published a couple of things on him, and regard him as having been a close companion for forty years. But I do wonder if Fr Thomas Ball and his more accurate translation of Ave Maris Stella might be a lost fragment of the Patrimony, ripe for recovery.


Dr David McConkey kindly provided information embodied in this post.

7 September 2018


Pam being away for a few days, I strolled up Walton Street for a light lunch and to pick up Supplies from Manos's. Is there a more splendid Deli anywhere in the world?

And then back past the Tower of the Winds.  Is there a more superb secular building than this in the entire Solar System? Rumour has it that there may be a copy of it in some town in Attica, but ...

Don't tell Ms Clooney about it. She'd probably start agitating for the Tower to be demolished and re-erected elsewhere.

A Right Reverend Abbess ... (1)

In England, bishops are not Most Reverend as they are in the Irish Empire; in their natural modesty Anglobishops are merely Right Reverend (unless they are Metropolitan Archbishops, when they do get a bit moster). And Benedictine abbesses by Tradition have precisely the same dignity as a diocesan bishop. "The Right Reverend the Lady Abbess of A" precisely parallels "The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of B".

For completeness, I will add that fully professed Benedictine Choir nuns have in England historically had the title Dame (= Domina), just as Benedictine monks are Dom (= Domnus = Dominus). In Medieval England, 'Dame' was often used for the wives of knights or noblemen. In modern England, the style Dame is now used as the equivalent of Sir ... you talk about X having received his knighthood or Y having got her damehood. I wonder if the British Establishment asked permission from the Order of S Benedict before usurping their title in this rather cheeky way.

And now the United States of North America are to have their own Right Reverend Lady Abbess ... thought to be first ever. At Gower in Missouri, next Monday, Mother Caecilia, hitherto Prioress, will be blessed as an Abbess , and some of her sisters will be professed. This will complete a fantastic weekend in which the brand new Abbey Church of our Lady of Ephesus will have been consecrated. Sancta Maria, Regina Apostolorum, ora pro eis, ora pro nobis, ora pro Ecclesia Dei adflicta.

I hope on Sunday to offer a few words about the Rite of Consecration of an Abbess in the Tridentine Pontifical.

6 September 2018

Doncha just love him?

I mean, of course, Reverendissimum ac eminentissimum Dominum, Dominum Blasium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem CUPICH ...

So neat, so sweetly petite, so invariably kempt with never a hair out of place ... what a credit he is to his Nanny, God bless her! What a perfectly precious poppet he is! Don't you just long to throw your arms around him and give him a great big hug ... I address, of course, my female readers ... And just think that the dreadful Dr Kirk has described him as not being the sharpest knife in the drawer ... these Ordinariate bloggers really are the limit ...

What a revealing explanation poor little Cupich has indeed given of why PF is right to refuse to answer questions about the Vigano Testimony: He's too busy sorting out Ecology and Migration ... and, Lo, right on schedule, last Saturday PF launched an attack on Plastics ... the Plastics of Satan have, one gathers, entered through some crack into the Church ... It all reminds me of a story I heard from an American round about the time of the Viertnam War. A woman is explaining how her husband is truly Boss: "He makes all the important decisions ... international politics ... who should be the next President ... nuclear war ... I just make the small unimportant decisions about things like how we spend the money, where we live, how we bring the children up ..."

Life really is hilarious, isn't it? I know many of you long each day to hear that this pontificate has ended, and of course I'm totally with you really, deep down; but we shall lose an awful lot of laughs when it does end. I have manufactured neat little notices which I pin up whenever I come across an example of some non-reader of Laudato si having fly-tipped rubbish in a beauty spot; or on beaches covered with curial condoms: POPE FRANCIS HAS BEEN INFORMED, or BIG FATHER IS WATCHING YOU.

Perhaps PF should also devote his attention to the interplanetary environment and become ktistes, Founder, of the first colony on Mars (Belgranoville? Antinoopolis Martia?). The first colonists could consist of the surviving prominent clerical homosexuals listed in that gigantic dossier Pope Benedict left for his successor in the Papal Safe ...
"What's that you say, Holy Father? You never saw that dossier? Nobody ever told you there was a safe in your study? And, in any case, someone else had mislaid the key? If you do ever come across the dossier, of course you will take action? You only learned about it from the newspapers? Through absolutely no fault of your own you are surrounded by people who constantly misinform you and brief you badly?"

Of course, of course, of course. We know how it is. Don't worry. Nobody blames you. There there. Don't cry ...

5 September 2018

Bishop Lopes

The Catholic Herald reports a fine homily by Bishop Stephen Lopes, Ordinary of the American Ordinariate, upon the Vigano controversy. (Readers will remember the robust statement, drawing extensively upon authentically Anglican tradition, which his Lordship put out after Amoris laetitia).

I can only speak for myself when I say how gratified I am that Bishop Stephen is again manifestly within the Catholic Anglican tradition of speaking the Truth, even at times when High Authority does not wish to hear it. This is one of the things which Anglican Patrimony means.

He also explains (as I have done on this blog) that the recent change to the Catechism on the question of Capital Punishment is not formally heretical because it does not describe Capital Punishment as intrinsece malum.

Readers may care to recall that, because of his ten years in the service of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Lopes is well situated to know what the mice were whispering behind the panelling of the Palace of the Holy Office during some of the years to which Archbishop Vigano's narrative refers.

A reminder ...

I think I had better remind readers yet again that I do not enable comments which even hint that Jorge Bergoglio may not be the true Bishop of Rome and Successor of S Peter and Vicar of Christ.

Throughout history, even when a pope has been a heretic, it has never been suggested that he might have somehow lost his Office. Even dear Pope Honorius, who was condemned as a heretic both by his successors and by an Ecumenical Council, was never said thereby to have lost his papacy. Who knows what condemnations PF may subsequently come under ... but it would be utterly contrary to Tradition if he were declared to have forfeited his office. You can't have Tradition when it suits you and forget about it when you don't like it.

We have to live in the real world, and that is a world in which the current Roman Pontiff's exercise of his duties is profoundly and (it seems to me) manifestly flawed tam in fide quam in moribus. But he is still the Roman Pontiff. Attempts to avoid this fact constitute childish attempts to avoid what may be our duties in the current situation, and to live in a private fantasy world.

Nor will I accept comments which dispute what I have written. Ego locutus sum, causa finita est!

4 September 2018

It's different now.

The Dubia ...  the Filial Correction ... how shy the clergy were about associating themselves with these initiatives.

But, with Viganogate, a number of bishops have been very willing to call for a proper investigation.

Why the change?

Of course, the major difference is that by softening the Church's witness against Adultery, PF was moving in the direction of fashionable assumptions held in the World. The Media, for the most part, would be overwhelmingly in favour of such a 'modernising' stance. The same is likely to be true of any softening of the Church's witness on homosexuality. And PF's views on the Death Penalty fit comfortably with the liberal Western Zeitgeist.

In these matters, the pope was easily seen as moving in line with a 'soft' consensus. And one has to admit that the so-called 'modernising' views are held by very many Catholics.

The problem now is clerical sexual abuse of minors or of the vulnerable, accompanied by a veritable industry of prelatical cover-ups. These are not subjects with which the Media are comfortable and relaxed. Nor is child-abuse nearly as acceptable and agreeable to the laity. "Giving a second chance to people whose first marriages have broken down" ... that seemed kind, merciful, and modern. Not so sex abuse, cover up, pay outs, and silence clauses.

And in the secular sphere, it is commonplace for 'investigative journalism' to hunt down 'cover-ups' and 'hypocrisy'. The Vigano event plays into this culture and these assumptions.

So, all of a sudden, PF has lost the PR initiative, which has passed to his critics. This, surely, is why there is such incandescent rage among his cronies. They have been suddenly cast into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable position. Riding on the crest of a 'Francis is Merciful' campaign was rather fun. Being asked why their pope is so shy, so unwilling to answer questions about a rather horrible sexual scandal, is not at all what they thought they were signed up to.

And it is easier for bishops to call for 'transparency' and 'full disclosure' than it was for them to 'split hairs' in the realm of moral theology, and to discuss the finer points of the 'doctrine' of 'Development'. In Amoris laetitia and his Synods, PF followed his declared policy of 'creating a mess', of getting others to create facts which he would then be able to interpret and push forward. This immensely civilised PR policy for advancing heresy is unavailable now that the PR imperative is to distance PF from sex abuse and cover-ups. PF, and his rabble of shifty time-servers, find their backs right up against the wall; room for manoeuvre there is none.

In this abuse crisis, schmaltzy Viennese smiles and condescending advice to go away and read Newman will not solve the problems of an angry (albeit hypocritical) world, or of a bewildered and highly distressed laity.

(Maybe this would not quite be the moment for Archbishop Fernandez to produce a new and augmented Second Edition of his Manual on Kissing with a commending preface by PF.)

Yet the teaching found in Amoris laetitia, and the immorality disclosed out by Archbishop Vigano's 'Testimony', are essentially the same. The completely and radically flawed 'lenient'and laxist ethical casuistry proposed for the comfort of German adulterers could, with perfect logic and fairness, be called in aid by paedophiles. After all, there have been human societies in which paederasty and ephebophilia have been socially acceptable and on public display. They attracted their own extensive and distinctive romantic literature. I, of course, and my readers, will regard such ideas and such cultures with visceral disgust or with reasoned contempt. But the Vigano 'Testimony' has left PF and his faction without a leg to stand on.

Perhaps they do not read Hesiod in Argentine schools; maybe young Jorge never heard about Pandora and her pithos. But it will be as difficult as ever it was to get the poma back on the pithos.

We shall have much characteristically Bergoglian bluster. We may again see the sort of bullying which raised its ugly head after the Correctio even in 'civilised' countries like Austria and Britain.

But this must, surely, be ... if not the Beginning of the End, at least the End of the Beginning.

Because, at last, a hitherto largely quiescent episcopate is showing signs of becoming restive and audible. Extreme measures, even extreme language, against bishops who call for Facts and Accountability and who want to find out Who knew What When, would hardly chime with the public mood.

2 September 2018

V is for ...

A distinguished brother priest has sent me a picture of Churchill giving his "V for Victory" sign, together with a suggestion that V stands both for Victory and for Vigano.

This simple gesture could be used at Papal Public Audiences, Diocesan synods, Deanery meetings; whenever a speaker (or homilist) says something implicitly critical of Archbishop Vigano ...

The heart of Bergoglianity

The heart of the Bergoglianist error is, in my fallible opinion, to be found in such texts as the letter Archbishop Nichols wrote last year to PF, assuring him that English Catholics believe that his election was the work of the Holy Spirit [not in my name, Vincent], and that the Holy Spirit guides him daily [ditto]; vide similar statements by now-Cardinal Farrell linking the Pope to the Holy Spirit ... Mgr Pio of the Rota ... ...

Now one of the Church's leading and most extreme hyperultrapapalists, the papolatrous Cardinal Maradiaga, has encapsulated that error in a single lucid sentence and, in so doing, has pushed the error a few notches further up the scale ... or even, you may feel, off the scale. Here are his reported words:

"To ask for the resignation of the pope is, in my opinion, a sin against the Holy Spirit, who ultimately is the guide of the Church."

I need not remind you that the "sin against the Holy Spirit" is, according to the words of the Lord, the unforgivable sin: unforgivable both in this world and in the next (Mt 12:31 sqq et parr).

Not even, apparently, merely a sin canonically reserved to the Holy See. A sin ... unforgivable!

As PF's grip on power becomes ever more threatened, it is natural that his cronies should become daily more extreme in their desperate rhetoric designed to protect their unfortunate and profoundly flawed hero.

But to say that calling on him to resign is a sin against the Holy Spirit goes even further than I had  feared possible. 

I wrote recently, "They are running scared and they will become very dangerous". 

When I wrote this I had no idea just how scared and how dangerous. Is there anything they will stop at?