23 May 2019

The Tome of S Leo

Once upon a time, S John Paul II, in the course of his admirable catecheses, spoke about the Perpetual Virginity of the Most Holy Mother of God. Virginity in any shape or form being an unusual concept to journalists, the Press wanted a Story out of this, and so they turned to the Press Office of what our Patron Blessed John Henry Newman so beautifully called the House of Bondage. Duly, next day, it was reported in the public papers that a Spokesman of the Church of England had disclaimed the doctrine and said that Modern Scholarship did not accept it. Since I was working as a priest of the Church of England, I rather objected to this anonymous individual claiming to speak on my behalf. I objected all the more, because 'Ever Virgin', aeiparthenos, is in the Conciliar documents of the Council of Chalcedon, a Council to which the Church of England has historically been regarded as doctrinally committed (under the legislation of Elizabeth I, you could be burned as a heretic for denying its teaching). Semper Virgo is, to be specific, present in the Tome of S Leo, who was one of the dozen greatest latinists of all time. I am very attached to (as we say nowadays) the Spirit of Chalcedon ... but also to its words. And equally attached to the Spirit and words of S Leo.

So I made enquiries about this Press Statement. To be brief: my enquiry was passed from hand to hand, office to office, with nobody taking responsibility, everyone disowning it. But I persisted, eventually discovered the identity of the 'Spokesman', and the processes he had gone through.

His media contacts had demanded a response before their press deadline that very same day. So he had 'phoned up the only bishop of the Church of England who had an academic reputation ... a liberal Evangelical who was 'chair' of the Doctrine Commission ... who had told him what to say.

Thus did a 'Spokesman' for the Church of England disclaim, and dissociate his ecclesial body from, the common teaching of the ancient Churches, Latin, Byzantine, Oriental, and their ancient liturgies; and of the ancient Ecumenical Councils. And disrespectfully dismiss the words of the World Leader of one of our 'partners in ecumenical dialogue'. It's as easily done as that! It's what bureaucrats are for!

The waywardness of these proceedings was emphasised by the subsequent ARCIC document on Mary, which spoke about the doctrine with much more respect, and reminded readers that Cranmer, Latimer, and Jewell had subscribed to it. 

Incidentally, I met a similar implicit disrespect for the Tome of S Leo during the period of 'priestly formation' which we had to go through at the beginning of the Ordinariate. (I have mentioned this instance before.) One of the lecturers described a formula found in the Tome (De nostro enim illi est minor Patre humanitas; de Patre illi est aequalis cum Patre divinitas, the same doctrine as that of the Quicumque vult ) as "heretical" (ipso ipsius verbo). I was not impressed by what this revealed about the reliability of the doctrinal teaching still perhaps being given even today to Catholic seminarians, or the competence of all their teachers.

I pursued that chap, too. You just can't let these people, wherever you may find them, get away with things, can you?

22 May 2019

Normal business ...

I have emerged from my month of isolation from incoming traffic, emails, comments ... how much seems to have changed.

I have enabled most of the comments submitted during this period.

PARRHESIA: Blessed John Henry Newman's views on aggressive insolent factions

As we prepare for the Canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman, I can think of no better, nor more relevant, topic for thought than our great Blessed's Parrhesia with regard to what magisterial authorities of the Church were up to in Rome.

Early in 1870, B John Henry received a letter from his bishop William Ullathorne about the disgraceful bullying going on at the [First] Vatican Council. He replied with words which became justly famous: "Why should an aggressive insolent faction be allowed to 'make the heart of the just to mourn, whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful?'" ... words which spring easily to mind when one thinks about the synodical goings-on in Rome during this last couple of years and the Exhortation Amoris laetitia which emerged from those flawed processes. Seven months later, on 23 July, Newman saw the Definition of papal infallibility five days after it had passed through the Conciliar Aula. He was relieved, even delighted, at its "moderation"; it afforded him no problems; but "does it come to me with the authority of an Ecumenical Council?" 

Newman did not instantly accept it as such. He wanted to know what the conciliar minority would do. This was important, because unanimity, at least 'moral' unanimity, was accepted as essential for the validity of a conciliar definition of doctrine. If the Fathers "allege in detail acts of violence and deceit ... if they declare they have been kept in the dark and been practised on, then there will be the gravest reasons for determining that the Definition is not valid."

We may not possess 'our Cardinal's' immense erudition. But we are subject to the same moral imperatives as those by which he was moved to speak as he did.

After Vatican II, Cardinal Heenan (who deserves rehabilitation; he was an Archbishop of Westminster a cut above most of them) complained (Sire pp 200-201) that "During the last two weeks of the Council the fathers were called upon to cast their votes before they could possibly have studied the text and context, much less the implications, of the amendments".

Sadly, the Fathers of Vatican II, who were indeed subjected to acts of violence and deceit, kept in the dark and practised on, made no such corporate protest as would (in Blessed John Henry's view) have nullified the Council. Nor, even more sadly, did Parrhesia move them to make formally any individual protests. Even Archbishop Lefebvre's subsequent repudiations of the texts he had signed were not articulated until it became clearer, well after the Council, whither the Church was being led. Let us not condemn these men; it is easy for us very much lesser men to be wise half a century after the event. But the fact remains: they did not protest; they did not repudiate.

Not, of course, that this failure to protest mattered or matters too desperately, since Vatican II, unlike Vatican I, claimed to define no dogmas. Even less competent is a Synod (still less a mere episcopal Conference) to assert doctrinal or legislative authority. Nor, as I have repeatedly pointed out, does an Exhortation ex sese have exalted Magisterial authority. If it repeats what the Church has immemorially taught and practised, then it is  for that reason magisterial; if it were to bear manifest signs of shameless rupture, the reader would have to draw the necessary conclusion and repudiate it.

But what if such a document appears to hint at, to leave a loophole for, to wink salaciously in the direction of, the new, the heterodox, the ruptured? In this case, we should interpret and accept it solely in terms of previous magisterial documents which we can employ to clarify its ambiguities and fill up its lacunae ... while regretting that our Holy Father was too timid, possibly even too craven, to use this opportunity to speak, with Parrhesia, that Truth which is in Christ; the Truth which is Christ; the Truth of whom the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar. We should most certainly not behave like the Graf von Schoenborn, who at that News Conference condescendingly talked about 'Development', dishonestly mentioned Newman, and disgracefully shut Parrhesia down.

This is a time when we, laics and clerics and bishops, are called upon to speak with the same Parrhesia that Blessed John Henry employed. If Eminent gentlemen who, in Newman's words, wear the royal hue of empire and of martyrdom, attempt to bully, to intimidate, to misuse their status to silence any who speak out, we should remember 'our Cardinal's' condemnations of an aggressive insolent faction

We have the Holy Father's own reiterated encouragements of Parrhesia as our defence and inspiration. Not to mention Canon 212.

21 May 2019

Newman and Liberalism and the Spirit of the Antichrist

When was there a more important time to have another look at Blessed John Henry Newman's teaching than this period when we are looking forward to his Canonisation? We need, in particular, to fortify ourselves against any attempted perversion of his teaching, contrived so as to make him appear as a proto-Brgoglian.

When Newman received the biglietto signifying his elevation to the rank of Cardinal, he made a speech which has often been quoted and was partially reproduced by me, a few weeks ago; and I am going to quote it yet again and not least because it beautifully enunciates the essential continuity of his life as a Catholic with his years as an Anglican. But, at the end, I wish to draw attention to a very important realisation of Newman's which is not so often quoted or appreciated. At the same time, we shall give ourselves the pleasure of analysing the rhetoric of this consummate stylist. So here he goes:

For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. ... the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are a matter of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. ... As to Religion, it is a private luxury which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not intrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

[Note the deft, almost imperceptible skill - so characteristic - with which Newman points to us the paradox that this 'liberalism' is itself a doctrine, an imposed and inexorable dogma. But it is his next observation which, I feel, gives us tremendous material for thought; when he adds that:]

There is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true ... justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence .... 

[Ah, we incautiously surmise, Liberalism isn't too bad after all; he admits that Liberalism has its Good Side. But no. Newman has tricked us. He is playing exactly the opposite game. In the spirit of {Locke's} argumentum ad hominem, he is about to pounce. Let us watch carefully, and analyse, how this skilled and merciless cat jumps.

Remember that in his earlier years Newman had been preoccupied with the concept of Antichrist. At the heart of this biblical notion, there is a realisation that the greater an evil and the closer it comes to Ultimate Evil, the more sumptuously the Enemy adorns it with rags and tatters of the good and the true and the noble. An error will be so much more dangerous precisely because it has been made to look so beautiful. So ... Blessed John Henry goes on:]

There never was a device of the Enemy, so cleverly framed, and with such promise of success.

Snap! Gotcha!

Despite its superficial charms, indeed, because of its apparent beauties, Liberalism is diabolical, a trick of Satan.

There is a great warning for us as we, more than a century later, face the devices of the Enemy in our own time.

Despite the powerful protection promised to S Peter and his Successors, even PF has fallen a victim to Satan's tawdry and meretricious glories.

Poor, gullible old man.

20 May 2019

The See of Westminster; Episcopal Conferences; and Cardinal Mueller again.

This piece was originally posted in March 2015. Subsequently, I refined and strengthened and shortened it using information supplied by kind readers.  In my view, the most important parts of this are the two passages from Cardinal Mueller.

I would like to emphasise that this is not some attack on a current Archbishop of Westminster. I have simply taken the English situation as an example of a very important ecclesiological point which relates equally to every part of the Latin Church. I just happen to know a little more about the ecclesiatical history of England than I do about that of Portugal or Poland or Peru.

Non-Catholics often misunderstand the position of the Archiepiscopal See of Westminster; and this can lead to unfairness towards its occupant. I think this whole question is of importance because it bears on matters of ecclesiological doctrine which, in fact, are the real basis of many of the Church's current upheavals. Which is how Cardinal Mueller will, nearer the end of this piece, come into the question.

The Archbishop of Westminster is not, as journalists and others often appear to assume, a sort of Catholic equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The common notion that 'primate' and 'archbishop' and 'metropolitan' are interchangeable terms is historically false. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a Primate. And he is Primate of All England (totius Angliae), with certain powers (of a legatus natus sanctae Sedis continued to him by Parliamentary Statute after the Schism) even within the Province of York. When he visitatorially enters another diocese, the Diocesan Bishop automatically if temporarily loses his diocesan jurisdiction. He was known sometimes colloquially as alterius orbis papa, and his primatial dignity, remarkably, is sustained by the possession of an episcopal Curia comprising a Provincial Dean (the Bishop of London), Chancellor (Bishop of Winchester), Vice-Chancellor (Bishop of Lincoln), Precentor (Bishop of Salisbury), Chaplain (Bishop of Worcester), and Cross-bearer (Bishop of Rochester).Whatever you may think about the theological or sacramental status of a modern Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury ... and you are probably right ... these structural and legal arrangements are, substantially, in continuity with the very grand position and considerable primatial authority held by medieval Archbishops of Canterbury, as the holders of an office that historically went far back before the time when there was a King or a Kingdom or even a concept of England.

Archbishops of Canterbury have behaved accordingly ... as when a medieval ABC attempted (unsuccessfully) to enter the Diocese of Exeter on Visitation, accompanied by his private army; and when Archbishop Fisher summoned John Robinson Bishop of Woolwich to see him after the publication of Honest to God. Robinson was an auxiliary bishop of another diocesan; but Fisher greeted him with "Now look here, Woolwich, you just can't do this sort of thing" vel sim.. (But even Fisher, I suspect, might not have behaved thus towards a bishop within the Province of York.)

The See of Westminster has never been constituted or recognised by the Holy See as a Primatial See. An obvious moment to have given it that dignity would have been in 1911, when the Sees of Birmingham and Liverpool were raised to metropolitan status. There was indeed at that time a desire (see the thread) to preserve a national position for Westminster; its Archbishop was made the permanent chairman (Praeses perpetuus) of episcopal meetings and given the right to represent the national Catholic community to the Civil Power (as long as he said only what his fellow-bishops had by a majority vote agreed). But he was given no jurisdiction and the only dignities conferred were the purely ritual ones of using pallium and cathedra and cross throughout England and Wales. This falls far short of the old 'primatial' conception. Indeed, it shows a very laudable determination on the part of the Holy See to preserve the rights and status of diocesan bishops.

And, in any case, under the current CIC, primacy would be purely nominal dignity.

The position of the Archbishop of Westminster is thus simply as it is described in the front of my Breviary in a decree signed by Cardinal Griffin: Coetus episcopalis totius Angliae et Cambriae Praeses Perpetuus (by contrast, in another Breviary I possess, the corresponding part of a parallel decree from the Archbishop of Malines describes him as Primas Belgii). He is, additionally, Metropolitan of his own province [comprising the dioceses of Brentwood, East Anglia, Northampton, and Nottingham], with the distinctly tenuous and limited metropolitical powers described in Canon 436. He has no metropolitical relationship with the four totally independant metropolitical provinces of Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Southwark, or with four extra-provincial and extra-diocesan entities, the Ukrainian Eparchy, the South Indian Eparchy, the Military Ordinariate, and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (all four of which, incidentally, extend beyond the boundaries of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales).

What this means is that an Archbishop of Westminster has no substantive jurisdiction whatsoever outside his own diocese of Westminster ... which is, roughly, London North of the Thames and Hertfordshire. But, even if not a primate, does he perhaps have authority by virtue of being a Cardinal? No more than Raymond Cardinal Burke does. Or because of his Presidency of the Episcopal Conference? Not in Canon Law and not in dogma. I will, in conclusion, illustrate this by quoting  Cardinal Mueller, speaking when he was head of the CDF.

"An episcopal conference is not a particular council, even less so an ecumenical council. The president of an episcopal conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and he does not have any particular magisterial authority due to his title ... dioceses are not branches of the secretariate of a bishops conference either, nor of the diocese whose bishop presides over the episcopal conference. This kind of attitude risks in fact the reawakening of a certain polarisation between the local Churches and the Church universal, out of date since the Vatican I and Vatican II councils. The Church is not a sum of national churches ... ".  

This continues the strong teaching Cardinal Mueller has given before; in 2013, for example, "the Roman Pontiff and the individual bishops are of divine right, instituted by Jesus Christ. ... But the patriarchates and episcopal conferences, historically and today, belong solely to human ecclesiastical right. The presidents of the episcopal conferences, although important, are coordinators, nothing more, not some vicepopes! Every bishop has a direct and immediate relationship with the Pope. We cannot have a decentralisation in the conferences; there would be the danger of a new centralism, with the presidency that has all the information and the bishops submerged in documents without the time to get ready ..." 

And the same erudite Cardinal repeated the same teaching in his 2017 book-interview. 

For some reason, there seems at the moment to be a great appetite for sound teaching. 

19 May 2019

How to depose a Pope: the teaching of the Archbishopric of Westminster

I here republish a revision of an article which has appeared before, I think thrice, on my blog. (Some corrections and additions offered in the original threads have, with thanks, been incorporated into this text.) People who just visit this blog ... and, indeed, the Internet generally ... for a quick giggle need only go straight down to the brief paragraphs in blue.

I am particularly grateful to people who enable me to correct any misstatements.

As you enter Westminster Cathedral, you will, if you look at the wall to your left, see two large sheets of brass (bronze?) which purport to give us a list of the chief pastors of the Catholic Church in this country from S Augustine onwards, showing their communion with the See of S Peter. (Who compiled it? See the thread. Interestingly, it claims that the Vicars Apostolic of the London District were chief pastors during the penal days ... is this true?) The aim of this list is surely ecclesiological (indeed, polemical and anti-Anglican) and designed to make a claim for the status of the Roman Catholic Particular Churches in England based upon their Communio with the See of S Peter. Such a public witness and explicatio of Communio must clearly be held to embody the formal teaching of the Particular Church of Westminster, God bless her.

What I am interested in is the early fifteenth century, the time when the Great Western Schism had not yet been resolved. There were at one point three simultaneous, competing, 'lines' of 'popes': the Roman Popes; the Avignon Popes; and, after the Council of Pisa in 1409 deposed both of them (their depositions were not then accepted by either of them) there were also the Pisan Popes. Of course, dogmatic purists will reassure us that really there can only be one pope. One of those three prelates was the real pope; the other two were antipopes. Obviously, people who adhered to one of the two antipopes, believing him to be the true pope, were in completely good faith and most earnestly desired to be in communion with the Successor of S Peter. An argument which attempted to portray them as 'non-papalist' would be dishonest. But objectively such adherents were as a matter of fact not in communion with him; they objectively were in schism from the one man whom God (alone!) knows to have been pope.

Dr E L Mascall observed that there had never been a definitive judgement on which of the three was the genuine 'line' of 'real' popes, and different editions of such works as the Annuario pontificio are not always in agreement; but the de facto consensus is that the Roman popes were the Real Macoy. Down to 1409, that is. 1409 is the year the real fun starts. Are you sitting comfortably?

As the year 1409 began, the Roman pope was Gregory XII. England was in communion with him. Scotland, France, and Spain, on the other hand, were in communion with the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII. But, during that year 1409, most of the cardinals of each 'pope' deserted their respective masters and, in the council of Pisa, came together; and claimed to depose them both and to elect a new pope, Alexander V. 2+1=3 popes! Now let's see what the official Westmonasteriensian lists do with this situation.

The lists in Westminster Cathedral show Gregory XII (Roman) as becoming pope in 1406; then Alexander V (Pisan) in 1409 (although the 'genuine' and 'Roman' pope Gregory XII did not abdicate until 1415).

In other words, the Church and Bishop of Westminster, interestingly, by implication proclaim the Pisan doctrine that a 'Council' unlawfully convoked by a group of cardinals in collaboration with some 'schismatics' (as Pisa was) and without the consent of the lawful Roman Pontiff, can lawfully depose the lawful pope (in this case, Gregory XII) and lawfully elect eo nondum defuncto a lawful replacement.

(This Westmonasteriensian-Pisan doctrine is distinctly thought-provoking! Would four Cardinals and three SSPX bishops, gathered in solemn Conclave at the top of Westminster Cathedral's preposterous Minaret, suffice for validity?)

However, Alexander V died in 1410; and his Pisan 'line' was continued by the election of John XXIII (sic). But the Westminster list does not mention this John XXIII. The next pope it gives is Martin V, who was to be elected by the Council of Constance in 1417. (At that Council, both Gregory XII [Roman] and John XXIII [Pisan] did either accept deposition or abdicate.)

So it appears that, from 1410 until 1417, according to the public teaching of the Church of Westminster, the See of S Peter was vacant. But it is unclear why, in this public teaching of the Church of Westminster, Alexander V (Pisan) was truly pope but his immediate lineal successor John XXIII (Pisan) lacked the same status. Obviously, the idiosyncratic dogmas of Westminster have profundities which I have not yet plumbed.

A seven-year interregnum, in which nobody is in communion with a pope because there isn't one, is surely long enough to raise interesting ecclesiological questions. I return to this in Footnote (3).

So far we have been considering the papal names on the left side of the Westminster Cathedral list. Let us now look to the right, where we find the Archbishops of Canterbury listed and the date (if known) when they received their  Pallia. The anonymous begetter of this list rightly takes granting and reception of the Pallium to be a clear indicator of Communio between Rome and Canterbury. And in 1414, Henry Chichele became Archbishop of Canterbury and, that same year, received the Pallium at Kings Sutton. Yes ... he received the Pallium ... in ... get this ... 1414.

In 1414, most of the world, including England, regarded the Pisan pope John XXIII as the true pope. Only Italy still adhered to the Roman pope Gregory XII. (Remember: the Church of Westminster regards the See of Rome as being vacant from 1410 to 1417; incidentally, in case you were wondering, the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII, had fled to a small Spanish town called Peniscola and by this point was ignored by everyone everywhere else.)  

So who sent the Pallium to Archbishop Chichele in 1414?

I have no doubt that it was the Pisan pope John XXIII. (See the thread.)

But the Church of Westminster officially and very publicly dismisses this poor chap as non-existent, i.e. by implication as a mere antipope. As do modern lists of the popes.

So, when Papa Roncalli was elected Bishop of Rome in 1958, he took the title 'John XXIII' as if there never before had been a lawful pope of that name and number.

Irrespective of the question whether John XXIII (version 1) was or was not truly pope, I find it hard to understand how the Church of Westminster thinks it is demonstrating the importance of links of communion between the chief pastors of the Catholic Church in this country and the Holy See by boasting that Archbishop Chichele received the Pallium at a time when its own list declares the See of Rome to have been vacant, without there being any lawful pope (in the Westmonasteriensian view) qualified to bless and send out Pallia.

Stigand, incidentally, raises similar questions for Rigid Westmonasterialensian Extremists.

FOOTNOTES: (1) All this would be even greater fun if a Catholic Cathedral in Scotland had a parallel list ... also writ very large in brass (bronze?) ... showing the quite different list of 'popes' with whom the Scottish dioceses were in communion between 1378 and 1409, and who, I imagine, sent Pallia to Scottish metropolitans. The Avignon Pope Benedict XIII conferred University status upon the Schola at S Andrews in 1413 ... he is still honoured there. I wonder which papal claimant the town of Berwick on Tweed held communio with! And how about the Medieval diocese of Sodor and Man, which in any case showed a tendency to episcopal duplicity in the Middle Ages? And there are our beloved Channel Islands, happy little sunlit tax-havens and historically parts of the Diocese of Coutances. There could be industrial scope for manufacturers of big brass plates to make money by producing contradictory successio lists!
(2) I would not like anybody to think that I am mocking the teaching of Holy Mother Church, defined as tenendum de fide at Vatican I, concerning the Petrine Ministry; or that the facts about the Great Schism of the West in any way whatsoever throw the least doubt upon that teaching, which I have spent my whole adult life asserting and defending. They most certainly do not. In my view, the theological problems which are indeed thrown up by the Great Western Schism are easily, and best, dealt with by applying principles laid out in Paragraph 17 of the document Communionis notio (1992 AAS 85) issued by the CDF under Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. And, indeed, any narrative of the Great Schism indicates the need for just such a nuanced understanding of Ecclesiology, of Communio, and of schism, as Ratzinger gives there. (See also his thoroughly admirable Dominus Iesus [2000] Paragraph 17. I cannot help feeling that this is an attitude which Professor Dr E L Mascall, who cogently raised the ecclesiological problems thrown up by the Great Schism, would have been able to adopt.)
(3) Another approach would be to argue that  fundamentally it is with the Roman Church, not with its Bishop simpliciter, that Christians are technically obliged to be in Communion. This would also solve another problem raised by Fr Mascall, that of periods of papal sede vacante ... which, in the Westmonasteriensian view, can go on for at least seven years without any insuperable theological problem arising ... during which, of course, nobody is in communion with the pope because there isn't one, but Catholics are all in Communion with the Roman Church because that does not cease to exist. Readers will also remember that two of the earliest witnesses to the Roman Primacy, S Ignatius and S Irenaeus, refer to the Church of Rome without actually mentioning its Bishop; and that the earliest known exercise of a primatial ministry is the 'Epistle of Clement', which is written as from the Roman Church. Of course, Rome's primacy is necessarily going to be exercised by the Bishop of that Church, who justly is held to be S Peter's Successor. But, in the end, I propose, Rome is not the primatial Church because it has the Pope as its Bishop; the Pope is the primatial Bishop because he has Rome for his Church. I put this forward as a personal speculation which seems to me to resolve some of the problems.

18 May 2019


"Inspiration is positive, and infallibility is negative. Perrone 'Numquam Catholici docuerunt donum infallibilitatis a Deo ecclesiae tribui ad modum inspirationis.'

['Catholics have never taught that the gift of infallibility is given by God to the Church by way of inspiration']

17 May 2019

The Marian Revolution

I recall an interesting paper arguing that at the Renaissance it became fashionable in certain elite intellectual circles to look down a faintly snooty nose at the old inherited conventions of Heraldry, in favour of symbolic pictures (imprese; or emblems) which could better express a man's "personal values, virtues, and ambitions".

The writer thus quoted Camden (1605): Queen Mary when she was a princesse, used both a red and white Rose, and a Pomegranate knit together to show her descent from Lancaster, Yorke, and Spaine. When she came to the kingdom, by perswasion of the Clergie, shee bare winged Time drawing Truth out of a Pit, with VERITAS TEMPORIS FILIA.

Two points: firstly, this reminds me rather of the talking-to she received early in her reign from Cardinal Pole, who pointed out to her that she ought not to use even merely conventional expressions of filial esteem when speaking of the King her Father, the adulterous schismatic Henry Tudor. By using this impresa she did indeed distance herself from the culture of her father.

Secondly: this Renaissance affectation marked her reign out as a fresh turning point with a new, reformed, stream-lined counter-Reformation Catholicism. This is the point Duffy made in Fires of Faith, his revisionist account of Marian England as an experimental laboratory for so many of the features of (what was to become) Tridentine Catholicism.

You don't need to remind me that neither badges nor coats of arms were in fact discarded in the reign of Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary. The impaled arms of Spain and England were prominent enough on their coinage. I am wondering if anybody can give evidence to substantiate the claim Camden makes. It would be interesting to know how true it is, and in what contexts Mary may have employed this new, fashionable device.


I have been interested in this area of study since I was able to demonstrate (Transactions of the Dumfriesshire ... , 1993) that the previously unidentified sculptures at the Scottish castle of the recusant Maxwell family, carved in the 1630s, were taken, some (via the Emblemes of Quarles, 1635) from a Jesuit book (Typus Mundi) printed in Antwerp in 1627, and some from Andrea Alciato's best seller of 1531. Caerlaverock, by the way, is a truly lovely spot.

16 May 2019

Hermeneutics of Magisterium (2)

Cardinal Mueller wrote, while he was still Prefect of the CDF: "In Europe, theologians immediately have to have the exact council text ready when words like 'faith' or 'mercy' are used. This kind of theology with which we are familiar doesn't exist in Latin America. They are more intuitive there ... they look at a text without considering it as a part of a whole. We must somehow respect and accept this style. But I nevertheless wish that as far as teaching documents are concerned clear theologicsal preparation must take place."

This perceptive analysis must sure be a valuable tool when we are analysing texts issued under this pontificate.

15 May 2019

Hermeneutics of Magisterium (1)

Some five years ago, PF wrote: "I have written an encyclical and an apostolic exhortation, and I continually make declarations and give homilies, and this is Magisterium".

On a more recent occasion, he said that the liturgical dispositions of the 1960s and 1970s were 'irreversible', and added: "This is Magisterium".

Such an understanding of what Magisterium is and how magisterial teaching operates seems to me to be at the level of toddler-talk. It must give rise to the suspicion that none of the teaching of someone who functions at this sort of level can be analysed as adult or as authentically magisterial.

14 May 2019


Earlier in this pontificate, I received a letter from a friend which included these words: "You will know that all of us who require the nihil obstat of the Holy See for our work have been threatened with its removal if we identify with any formal criticism. I received a renewal of this 'advice' only this morning".

Lovely lot, these Bergoglians, aren't they?

13 May 2019

A hypothetical question

When a Eucharistic Prayer is being used which contains an 'epiclesis' later than the Institution Narrative, should the Lord's Body and Blood still be shown for adoration after the Verba Domini?

Yes! Fortescue (The Mass, 1912) explains: "The whole consecration-prayer is one thing, of which the effect is the change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. During this prayer we ask continually ask for that grace; although the prayer takes time to say and God grants what we ask at one onstant, not necessarily the last instant of the prayer. So in all rites constantly people still ask for what, presumably, they have already received. Our baptism and ordination services furnish obvious parallel examples. The Epiklesis is surely also to be explained in this way ... the Canon is one prayer. Consecration is the answer to that one prayer. It takes place no doubt at the words of institution, but it is the effect of the whole prayer. There is no sequence of time with God. He changes the bread and wine intuitu totius orationis [in consideration of the whole prayer]."

Readers of Catherine Pickstock's After Writing will remember her insistence, in her illuminating exposition of the traditional Roman Rite, on liturgical stammerings and repetitions and rebeginnings, as features of Orality.

In Cardinal Ximenes' edition of the Mozarabic Rite, in which some twenty or so of the 200 Eucharistic Prayers have an epiclesis after the Institution Narrative, the elevations nevertheless always happen at the 'Roman' place.

Ever since 1928, many Anglican liturgical tinkerers have rather liked putting epicleses after the the Institution Narratives. I suspect this is partly the old Anglican weakness for cosying up to what they think of as Orthodoxy, and partly a vandalistic desire to clobber "mechanical" understandings of Consecration. I have known Anglicans who have believed that it is superstitious to think that Consecration is effected by five words, but, for some unexplained reason, enlightened to attribute it to several hundred words.

12 May 2019

Virgo Potens, ora pro nobis

I once photocopied a fine baroque engraving of Virgo Potens. The Mother of God is portrayed in an oval, holding what I presume must be a Marshal's baton. By her head is written Omnia possum in eo. Round the oval is a fearsome array of arms, from bows and arrows to cannons. There is a bust of Minerva at the top. Around this is written Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, and underneath In manu tua virtus et potentia I Paral 29. [Paralipomena is what Protestants call Chronicles]. Beneath our Lady is a field crammed with (I presume) military pavilions; on the left, the elegant figure of Jael (nice shapely arm) wielding a hammer over the prostrate figure of Sisera [Judges 4] balancing, on the other side, Judith brandishing (delightfully graceful wrist) Holophernes' head [Judith 13].

Beneath it all, the letters C.P.S.C.M. [??] and "Klauber Cath sc[ulpsit] et exe[ravit] A.V. [?].

Very much in the spirit of the Akathist Hymn, and its portrayal of the Theotokos as a successful Field Martial. And of the Lady of Victories who wasted no time at Lepanto!

Sadly, in our age none of this would be comprehensible to one person in a thouand.

Could anybody provide a link to it, information about the admirable Klauber, and explanation of the mysterious capital letters?

Her Immaculate Heart will prevail!

11 May 2019

I will go unto the Altar of God

The Preparation at the Foot of the Altar, now returned to us by our splendid Ordinariate Missal, is a very dear part of our Patrimony, offered in the English Missal  and so many of the other twentieth century Anglo-Catholic Mass Books (and even in 1928!). As we all ... I hope ... become more and more familiar with it, I offer you two comments on this verse, both from erudite Anglicans but, my goodness, how differently erudite.

Firstly from Catherine ("radical Orthodoxy") Pickstock. "Unlike ordinary geographical destinations, the altar of God is an infinitely receding place, always vertically beyond, in the sense of altaria, a raised place where offerings were upwardly burnt, possibly linked in Latin to adolere ("to burn in sacrifice"), adolescere ("to burn") and the concomitant sensual diffusion of olere ("odour"). This raised place of sacrificial burning is the site where offerings are altered and transubstantiated."

And next, from John Mason ("Ritualist and Patristical") Neale. "Never, surely, more glorious and comforting a verse than this. To see the Man of Sorrows, - now His warfare almost accomlished, - now the sin He bare for us almost pardoned, - approaching to the Great Altar of the Evening Sacrifice of the world".

Introibo ad Altare Dei. What greater privilege than this; to stand at the foot of the altar and to say in and with and through the Eternal Son these words "I will go unto the Altar of God" - to say or hear them three times because they are not an observation to be uttered and cast aside but an entering into the heart of meaning. And then to go up the steps, ascending with Him ad montem sanctum Dei as so many of God's pilgrim people went up to Sion, since those ancient, shadowy, days when there first was a place of sacrifice upon that Mount. To be granted to kiss the stone of sacrifice and to stand there as Abraham did with Isaac on Moriah. And, thus, "day by day to offer up the Immaculate Lamb of God, to hold in one's hands the Incarnate Word under the visible tokens which He has ordained, again and again to drain the chalice of the Great Victim" (Newman).

10 May 2019


"Pray Brethren that my sacrifice and yours ..."

We find the roots of this formula, which precedes the Prayer Over The Offerings, in Carolingian Gaul, in a rubric which goes: "Then indeed the Priest to [or with?] right hand and left asks of the other priests that they pray for him".

I am suggesting that originally the Orate Fratres was a formula addressed to concelebrants; although, of course, through being used by celebrants who had no concelebrants around them, it soon came to be thought of as addressed to the assistant clergy in the sanctuary and to the congregation.

The strength of my suggestion is that it makes sense of the concept of "my sacrifice and yours". I have long been puzzled by the assumption we have all made that a formula which entered the Mass as late as the Carolingian period should seem to want so explicitly to refer to the People as offerers of the Sacrifice. Yes, I know that in a sense they most certainly are, but that was a period in which emphasis was laid more and more strongly on the idea that the Priest sacrifices for the people (so that the phrase "for whom we offer unto thee" entered the Memento).

9 May 2019

Knife marks and Co Kerry

Today, after visiting the tomb of the last (indeed, the only) Catholic Bishop of Oxford in the Cathedral here, I dropped into the shop in the Chapter House to buy some hosts. Having a minute or two to idle around, I wandered around some of the Church silver kept there ... mostly stuff never used in the parish churches and kept in Oxford partly for safety and partly so that it can be on view. It must have been the way the light was slanting ... I was looking at a typically Anglican 1694 standing paten when I noticed knife marks criss-crossing on the surface of the silver. Then I realised several other patens on display were similarly marked.

Before the Catholic Revival, leavened bread was commonly used in the Church of England for the Eucharist. It was cut into cubes. In the cloister of Chichester Cathedral there is a monument, I think to an early nineteenth century canon, showing a Georgian chalice and paten with the cubes neatly arranged piled up on the paten. Clearly, some sextons cut the bread up on the paten itself, using a rather sharp knife.

Also in the Oxford Treasury I came upon a fourteenth century paten with knife marks. That, I presume, must have been in continual use before and after the Reformation.

As the Catholic Revival spread, unleavened bread became usual in the Church of England, even in rather 'low' churches. But, back in the sixties, there was a trendy fad for using 'real' bread. Happily, it was transient: its manifest inconvenience was a deterrent. But I do remember doing summer duty one summer at Cowes on the Isle of Wight four or five decades ago, and having to use buns. The crumb problem was an absolute nightmare. Not to mention the consumption of the Remains.

When I began my long and most pleasurable period of spending the summer vacations serving a couple of Anglican churches in County Kerry, I had to conform to the Irish Anglican canonical requirement of leavened bread. We soon became friends of Bishop Ned Darling and his wife Patricia, who visited annually on one of our Sundays there. "This is what we do", he explained. A slice of bread is squidged  by being rolled flat and thin, and is then neatly cut into rectangles. The crumb situation thus becomes no greater than with unleavened bread. But it means, of course, getting up a few minutes earlier every Sunday morning before setting out to say ones Masses.

Entre nous, I did use an ordinary priest's host as well for myself and my family. And I uneasily left to the Almighty the question of whether commercial sliced bread is or is not so adulterated as to be dubious matter.

Bishop Ned, by the way, was a pluralist in the finest, grandest, medieval manner; Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert, Aghadoe, Killaloe, Kilfenora, Clonfert, Kilmacduagh, and Emly ... well, to be honest, also of Inniscattery, united with Limerick around 1450. He signed himself differently wherever he went. I wonder what Pope Hildebrand says to these Anglican Irish bishops when they get to the Pearly Gates. [When he came to us, he put +Edward Ardfert: in the Register.]

8 May 2019

Common Sense

Here is an old post from 2014, together with its old thread.

 I think it would be for the best if the Holy Father henceforth confined his public utterances to formal texts which had been passed by the appropriate and responsible Roman Dicasteries. If he wishes to publish some views qua private theologian, he should, as Professor Ratzinger did, indicate this formally and explicitly.

The present situation simply cannot be allowed to continue.

I now add ... in 2019 ... the following response to the thread.

The august and necessary Teaching Authority of the Roman Pontiff does not adhere to him as an individual. It applies to him as the Bishop of S Peter's See, Rome. That is why Blessed John Henry Newman argues that what some popes said or signed after being beaten up in Byzantine prisons does not create a problem for the doctrine of Papal Infalibility. Such a pope was not speaking as Bishop of Rome surrounded by  the Council of his Presbyters or his Synod of Suburbicarian and visiting Bishops.

I argued, and still argue, that a Pope, if he wishes to act as pope, cannot act as a whimsical individual. He lost that privilege the moment he accepted election.

I think I was right in the apprehensions I felt early in this pontificate. 

7 May 2019

Papyri and Fallibility

"S Mark's Gospel must be the earliest to have been written because it is so much simpler; and its rough, primitive unsophistication ... "

"Early Christological models are inevitably simpler, indeed, more sincere, than the later Christologies, with their complex and artificial ... "

"The sophisticated theology and complex narratological techniques of S John's Gospel make clear that it can hardly predate the second decade of the second century ... "

"The worship of the Christian Churches, as it developed from the simple fellowship meals held by the early Christians in memory of Jesus of Nazareth ... "

"The palaeographic indications which appear to suggest that the papyrus [containing the prayer Sub tuum praesidium] dates from as early as the third century, must give way to the realisation that its developed Mariology cannot possibly ... "

So very many of the 'assured results of modern scholarship' have rested ultimately upon comfortable and rarely interrogated Enlightenment prejudices. To the mentality of the last two-and-a-half centuries, it has seemed obvious that 'primitive' simplicity must have been transformed, in a simple linear process, into greater complexity. Rousseau's Noble Savage, dated into mythical human pre-history, must necessarily predate the Bourbon Court! That such a methodological presupposition still survives among 'liberal' Christian academics is, it seems to me, another example of the intellectual naivite of such writers and of their chronic inability to keep up with advances in the secular study of the ancient world. Here is a passage, written in 1998 by Peter Parsons, Regius Professor (now emeritus) of Greek in this University and a very great papyrologist. He is surveying the large number of 'new' ancient Greek texts which the sands of Egypt had yielded in the couple of decades before he wrote. (It is worth adding that further papyrological discoveries in the two decades since, have done nothing to weaken his argument.)

" ... the new texts test the categories and structures of scholarship, the faible convenue which nineteenth century positivists based on the assumption that the texts then surviving were typical and to be explained simply in relation to one another. As usual, aesthetic prejudices and unquestioned categories lie below the scientific surface. Scholars used to regard Aeschylus' Suppliants as the earliest of his plays; it has a simple plot, little action, and long choruses. Now a papyrus has dated it, less than ten years earlier than the Oresteia. False assumption: that artists develop in linear mode, from simple to complex, irrespective of theme. Now that we have Simonides' celebration of the Battle of Plataea, the great patriotic war of classical Greece, we see how he reinvented epic in elegy, the Trojan war in the Persian war, Homer in himself. Standard literary histories had put such generic mutations and complex intertextualities two centuries later. Another false assumption: that classical poets were all genius without artifice (and that their successors [of the 'Hellenistic' period were] all artifice without genius)."

6 May 2019


"As to the Pope being a heretic as a private person, while he is infallible ex cathedra, this is an idea quite intelligible."

5 May 2019

"Conventional Morality"

Recently, a novelist died ... Diana Athill ... who had been sexually promiscuous. In a newspaper column, I read

"Diana Athill, who died this week, was never a slave to conventional morality."

It immediately (yes, I know I'm weird) set me thinking ... in the early days of May 1945, suppose a member of the Commentariat had written

"Adolf Hitler, who died this week, was never a slave to conventional morality."

Aren't Language Games fascinating?

4 May 2019

"Lore Enforcement"

The other day, I heard a long discussion on the wireless about "Lore Enforcement". It is a subject that has puzzled me for years. Politicians on-the-make wax eloquent about it. They're jolly keen on "Lore and Order, too. But they never specify what sort of "lore" is to be "enforced". Morris Dancing? American Footie with girls waggling pom-poms? Cabers tossed in the Scottish Highlands? Ravens preserved in the Tower of London or Monkeys on the Rock of Gibralter? And why should Lore be "enforced"?

Perhaps the attraction of Lore has disappeared in our culture. Three or four dacades ago, Bridesheasd Revisited was beautifully filmed for a Beeb TV series (don't confuse this with a much more recent cretinous and disastrous cinema version). But there were one or two textual slips. Ryder as narrator is talking about his first Oxford Trinity term in the company of Sebastian Flyte. Toward the end of this term, he had needed to cram the texts prescribed in the Statuta, texts of which "I remember no syllable now; but the other, more ancient lore which I acquired that term will be with me in one shape or another to my last hour".

Ryder's words, converted by the script-writers into a voice-over, inadvertently changed this to "the other, more ancient love," thus narrowing and limiting "lore" into the Love which dared not speak its name.

Homosexuality was, of course, still then unlawful.

Or do I mean unloreful ...

3 May 2019

Merton Priory

A few years ago, I amused myself in Bodley by perusing six books recorded as having come from the library at Merton.

Amusement, indeed! The books were fascinating to look at, and gave an interesting picture of intellectual life in the century before Suppression. Of course, I had no way of knowing whether these six books were typical of the contents of the canons' library. But if they were, they would certainly support a 'Duffy' view: that there was nothing torpid about the late Medieval Church. Three of them were crammed full of mathematics, astronomy, trigonometry, and what we fuddy duddies call Natural Philosophy; books which had been used and bore marginal comments. A text of S Isidore's Summum Bonum recorded how it had been bought in Italy in 1463. The solitary printed book was a collection of works of Desiderius Erasmus, printed in Basle in a lovely Renaissance fount in 1519 ... less than two decades before the Priory's Suppression. It included Erasmus' classicising poems in Latin and in Greek.

The after-History of these books was also not without interest. One of them bore embossed on its covers the arms of Sir Kenelm Digby; another, those of blessed William Laud, Bishop and Martyr. Digby, a colourful Roman Catholic and occasional Anglican with persistent Court connexions, studied in Oxford at Gloucester Hall (now Worcester College in this parish), which was a Recusant annexe to the more ambiguously 'Church Papist' S John's College; Laud of course was an Anglican and a St John's man. Current historiography emphasises the dark discontinuities of the 'Elizabethan' Church and its radical Protestantism. But no one denies that the Stuart period brought with it a softening of antitheses, a Hermeneutic of Continuity, and a building up of broken bridges with the past and with the currents of intellectual life in Counter-Reformation Europe.

It was good to handle and to think about these books, which escaped destruction in the massive book-burnings of Protestantism (Duke Humphrey's Library - not yet refounded as Bodley - was stripped of all its books, which went into an enormous bonfire); happy survivors which made it through the bottle-neck and helped to pass on the wisdom, science, culture of two millennia and of the Humanist springtime embodied in S John Fisher and Reginald Cardinal Pole.

2 May 2019

A Chronogram

My friend Dr Simon Cotton, no less an erudite ecclesiologist than a distinguished research chemist, has kindly sent me a piece he wrote for New Directions about the Church of S Peter ad vincula at Coveney in Cambridgeshire.

For 55 years, the Patron of the Benefice was Athelstan Riley, an Anglo-Catholic squire and benefactor of churches. He is perhaps best known for his little gem at Little Petherick in Cornwall, adorned so as to look just like that medieval church would have looked if the Reformation had never occurred. It includes a superb chantry chapel; possesses (or did when I was still in the C of E)  a great collection of continental vestments; and was accompanied by a Home for retired clergy. I think Riley imagined these reverend gentlemen queuing up to say their masses each morning at his altars wearing his vestments!

At Coveney he made the sort of benefactions that delighted him; including a replica of the vincula Sancti Petri! And a baroque Netherlandish pulpit. And a German Reredos ... with this inscription:

eCClesiae sCi petri De coveney eX voto athelstanus rIley arM benefiCII patrn's

(Abbreviations: arm for armiger; patrn's for patronus.)

You will notice that some letters are larger than others!

A CHRONOGRAM is an inscription in which those letters which in Roman usage can stand for a number are counted up ... and usually give a date.

So here you take the (larger) letters CCCDXIMCII. This you will tot up to 1913 ... presumably, the date of this benefaction.

There are two sorts of Chronogram.
(1) The Pure Chronogram; in which if you use an M, D, C, L, X, V, or an I, they must, every single instance, all be included in the computation. This sort of Chronogram is very difficult to compose! I know; I've done it! You only have to insert inadvertently a SVM and you've got a possibly unwanted 1,005!
(2) The Easy Chronogram; where you aren't compelled to compute mathematically every occurrence of those mathematically significant letters. You simply write the letters you desire to be totted up in a larger or different or coloured script distinguishing them from all the rest of the inscription.

The Coveney Chronogram is the easier type! Were it a Pure Chronogram, there would be an extra and unwanted LIIICVVLVLI (269) to be included in the count!

More fun, surely, than a sudoku!

1 May 2019

Four hundred years ago ...

Four hundred years ago pretty well to the day, at the beginning of May in 1619, a Carmelite House was founded at Antwerp for exiled English recusant ladies. The community in 1794 transferred to Lanherne in Cornwall. If you discount a recent hiatus of three or four years, there are four centuries of Carmelite continuity now represented at Lanherne.

During one of my early visits there, "We'll put out the five kilo chasuble" said Reverend Mother through the grille. "It dates from when the House was opened in Antwerp in 1619. But we'll also put out a lighter chasuble in case it's too much for you."

Of course, I wore the five kilo chasuble, its embroidery a heavy riot of baroque cornucopias. How could one resist such a challenge? After Mass, as I left the Chapel, and looked at the gravestones surrounding the first millenium crucifix outside the door, this inscription caught my eye: Beneath is interred the Rev Louis Dourlen Chaplain of Lanherne formerly priest of the Diocese of St Omers and Canon of Arras Cathedral 1839. Aged 85.

It suddenly dawned upon me that M le Chanoine would very probably have worn that five kilo chasuble; the penny dropped that he must have been a gentleman clergyman who had left France during its Revolutionary troubles. I later discovered (George Oliver, Collections, page 287) that Dourlen joined, for a while, the considerable community (unmentioned by Jane Austen) of French emigres in Bath. There, "he was much respected and esteemed for his integrity and polished manners"; he was gout-ridden but never wore spectacles! I suppose he was in his thirties when Arras Cathedral was declared the Temple of Reason and, presumably, he lost the stipends of his canonry. The Cathedral was subsequently demolished.

In the aftermath of the recent fire at Notre Dame de Paris, someone ... I think it was President Macron ... said that fire, war, and revolutions had destroyed French Cathedrals before, but they had always been restored. I think he must have forgotten Dourlen's Cathedral at Arras. Not a stone stands upon a stone!

Canon Dourlen had lived through the days when the ambiguities of the Oath, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and of the Concordat tried the consciences of the Clerus Gallicanus; the despoiling of the Church in the Hiberian and Italian peninsulars; the period in 1799 when "the last pope" died, a lonely prisoner of the triumphant and invincible French revolutionary regime ... the pope at whose death the long history of the Catholic Church came, manifestly, unmistakably, definitively, to its end: and the gates of Hell prevailed, as the Enemy had always known they certainly would.

The Carmelites of Antwerp, in the summer of 1794, nineteen days before the Blessed Carmelite Sisters of Compiegne were to be butchered on the guillotine, had set sail from the Continent to England to escape the murderous armies of the Enlightenment. They settled at Lanherne, with the permission of the owners, the recusant Arundell family. Now, after a brief hiatus, the Carmelite charism, and its ancient Liturgy, again flourish at Lanherne.

As people say, the rumours of the Catholic Church's demise were much exaggerated. Pius VI did, after all, have a successor, and Bonaparte was, happily, totally vincible. There are no historical inevitables except the Church's indefectibility.

Ambiguities; ruptures; continuities. The Church Militant always has, in her institutions, even in the Papacy, a tension between continuita interiore and appearances of discontinuity.

Does her life really change much?

30 April 2019

Mary's Month of May, and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner

The happy birds Te Deum sing,
'Tis Mary's month of May;
Her smile turns winter into spring
And darkness into day ...

Number 936  in the good old English Catholic Hymn Book; how very true it all is. But I doubt whether Sir Nikolaus ever had those edifying thoughts crossing his mind.

Pevsner will need no introduction to British readers; our transpontine friends may not all know that he produced, largely single-handed, The Buildings of England  guides which still indicate to the middle-class middle-brow Brit whether that little church behind the trees over there is worth having a glance inside. In this, he is, in my view, a dangerous cicerone: on innumerable occasions I have found fascinations is things and places where (racism trigger warning) his dull teutonic eye saw nothing. He is sometimes referred to as Bauhaus Pevsner, which is not at all the whole truth but gives the general idea. His praise of buildings he liked has not saved at least one brutalist monstrosity from recent demolition here in Oxford.

This is what he gives us for the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham: "It is a disappointing building, of brick, partly whitewashed, and looking for all its ambitions, like a minor suburban church."

The Shrine Church was not constructed as a prize entry for an architectural competition in Weimar Germany. It sprouted up organically from the soil of a particular situation within a particular community. So ... Bishop Pollock had ordered Fr Hope Patten to remove the statue of our Lady which he had placed, without a faculty, in Little Walsingham Parish Church [Little Walsingham is, of course larger than Great Walsingham]. So he did. So he reconstructed a Holy House [think Nazareth; think Loretto, think Erasmus at medieval Walsingham] and put her there. With a little chapel around it. People came. There was never enough room. There were never enough altars for all the priests to say all their private Masses ... the building expanded ... and expanded ... our Lady was given a silver crown, the "Oxford Crown", by a parish which was once a daughter church of my last Anglican parish. And people gave relics in reliquaries. And 'Catholic Societies' wanted their own special places, so they sponsored the altars of the fifteen Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

You can't stride in and enjoy the satisfying vistas because, immediately inside the entrance, unfortunately, your view is blocked by the Altar of the Annunciation with a major relic of S Vincent to your left.

It is one of those irritating buildings where you are constantly being drawn round intriguing corners and surprised by the unexpected. Here a Relic of the True Cross; there a Russian copy of the Ikon of our Lady ton Iveron on Mount Athos; or a Holy Well (discovered by the builders); or the pan-Orthodox Chapel; or the foundation stone naming the reigning pontiff as well as Bishop Pollock ... there's a story in that and there's a story in practically everything.

My memories are of the early 1960s, and the tinkle of bells at the altars and the traffic of servers and priests from sacristy to altars and the queues at the confessionals and the queues of new pilgrims arriving with their priest saying the Prayers upon Arrival.

It is where generations of Anglo-Catholics discovered the awe of Catholic worship and the holy busy-ness and the fun of it all.

"A disappointing building".

29 April 2019

Ad cenam agni providi/Ad regias agni dapes

An old post which I am reprinting not least because of a highly interesting Comment

Low Sunday has passed; we are now again using hymns in our Office. If you are accustomed to the Liturgia Horarum, and if you look in a 1961 Breviary, you will get a shock when you got to the Office Hymn for Vespers during Eastertide. Instead of Ad cenam agni providi you will find Ad regias agni dapes. This text is the piece of elegant Renaissance Latinity which Urban VIII substituted for the the fifth century text previously in use. The problem Pope Urban had with the original is that it was written when Latin was still a spoken language, a living and vivid vernacular, and its text is therefore, from the point of view of classical purists, full of irregularities. For example, it treats stolis albis candidi [bright with white garments] as if it were istolis albis candidi (eight syllables): ist- is how they pronounced st- in the 'Vulgar Latin' period*. Like many popular and subclassical texts, strongly influenced by a basically 'oral' culture, the original form of this hymn has anacoloutha, diminutives, and 'intolerably' erratic systems of accented syllables. All this is why I like it. I even have a personal theory that the author was a considerable poet who actually used 'irregular' accentual patterns to emphasise words.

Urban's gang of resurrected Horaces so rewrote the second stanza that not a word of the original remained ... but perhaps by this point I have lost non-latinists. Never mind. If you have your English Hymnal [the finest English Language hymnal there is; one of the Patrimony's principal gifts] to hand, you can find the original, translated by the incomparable John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale, at 125. You will find the Urbanist replacement at 128. You may feel that both, in their different ways, are good hymns. In my opinion, you are right, at least as far as the Latin original of 128 is concerned (the great Adrian Fortescue disagreed: for him, there was not one single good word to be said for Pope Urban's hymns, and their elimination, he felt, should be the first element in a reform of the Breviary). I just happen to feel that Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II was indeed wise to mandate the restoration of the original texts of the hymns (although the Dom Anselmo Lentini's 1968 revisers, foolishly, did straighten out the rhythms a bit). The Benedictines, incidentally, never did adopt the Urbanist texts.

Moreover, the Renaissance version can miss things. Neale was convinced that the old text's description of Christ's blood as 'rosy' (roseo: 'light pink', because Roman roses were not modern cultivars) is explained by that fact that if a body is totally drained of blood, the last few drops are ... pink (how did he know? Was he right?).

*Grandgent writes thus about this prosthetic vowel: "The earliest Latin example is probably iscolasticus, written in Barcelona in the second century; it is found repeatedly, though not frequently, in the third century; in the fourth and fifth it is very common: espiritum, ischola, iscripta, isperabi ..." Isidore of Seville in the seventh century was the first to comment on it. It has, of course, left innumerable marks upon the lexicography of the Romance languages (e.g. stella became istella which became estaile which became etoile).

28 April 2019


At the funeral of Lyra McPhee, the camera revealed to us what the occupants of the front rows were doing during the singing of the evangelical hymn How Great Thou Art, composed, I gather, by a Methodist proselytiser whose life's work was to convert Ukrainians and Poles.

Mrs Arlene Forster, DUP, was singing lustily.

President Michael Higgins was joining in but wihout, er, going over the top.

Mrs May was doing things the Anglican way ... her lips moving strongly.

Mr Leo Varadkar, the Abortionist, kept his lips firmly closed.

Had this been in the time of Mr DeValera ... or even of Mr Ahern? ... one might have assumed that a card-carrying Catholic was not allowed by his conscience to associate himself formally with Protestant worship ...

27 April 2019

Continuities; and the English Martyrs

On the 1st of May, you can, if you live in Oxford, go into town early and listen to the Hymn to the Blessed and Undivided Trinity being sung at 6.00 from the top of Magdalen Tower. Or you can avoid the drunken excesses around Magdalen and go to S John's for the madrigals from their tower at 7.00. Nice. Afterwards, you could pop into the exquisite Renaissance quadrangle at the back, with its statues of blessed Charles at one end and his much loved (does anybody now read the Court Masques of the 1630s?) Queen, Henrietta Maria, at the other.

I sometimes wonder about the assertion, now I think pretty well an orthodoxy, that until the Stuarts brought about the invention of a characteristic and distinctive Anglicanism, the Church of England was just any old Proddy Boddy, more concerned with asserting a rigid rupture between itself and the dark days of Popery, than with discerning continuities (vide inter alios Diarmid McCulloch). Possibly S John's College might incline us to nuance that judgement.

S John's was founded as a distinctively Counter-Reformation college during the reign of Good Queen Mary; some of its original vestments, including a banner given by a Campion, survive (they are on public display every term on, I think, the Saturday of Seventh Week).  During the reign of Bloody Bess, it was a hotbed of 'Church Popery' ... dons and undergraduates who conformed outwardly and occasionally but who awaited better days. It had sort of annexe, Gloucester Hall (where Worcester College now stands), which was rather more resolutely recusant. Not surprisingly, there were repeated defections to Douai (now incarnated in Allen Hall) from both of these.

But then, under James I, appears the figure of blessed William Laud of St John's College, one of those for whom the Church of England was not to be defined simply by a detestation of Rome.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a prosopographical study of the role S John's (and other Oxford colleges more generally) played in that fascinating half-century in which a distinct prejudice for continuity rather than for rupture did survive as a powerful intellectual force, with the allegiance of a numerically significant faction among the clerisy.

Eamonn Duffy brought to us the vivid figure of Parson Trichay. West Country historians, less glamorous than Duffy, have brought to us the less sharply focused but very interesting Parson Tregeare and his possible circle. How many Catholic-minded clergy, probably mostly Marian survivors, still survived well into Bloody Bess's reign to provide a spring-board for the Stuart Renaissance?

I think 'Find the Continuities' would be a jollier game than McCulloch's simplistic model.

26 April 2019

More Laziness

Yes, I am so well known for my idleness that people flock here in coaches from far distant places just to watch me being idle. I plan to resist incoming traffic on my blog and my computer and my telephone, from now to the end of May!!!

But, Deo volente, I hope to publish something every day.

I do so like the sound of my own voice ...

The latest liturgical innovation

The Blessing Urbi et Orbi by the Bishop Of Rome, this year, took the following (gracious, merciful and humble) form:

Benedictio Dei Omnipotentis, Patris, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus, descendat super vos et maneat semper.

Listen to it on Vatican TV if you don't believe me. And he had an enormous white book held open in front of him by some poor sweating flunkey.

For five years, PF's cronies have been assuring us that his every word and deed is by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Is he now claiming the infallible and Magisterial right to change, not only the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not only Denziger, but even Kennedy's Latin Primer?

Or does this highly sophisticated form of blessing somehow mysteriously imply tritheism?

Does a public manifestation of Trinitarian heterodoxy mean that he has finally lost the munus Petrinum?

Father Ceckada will know. I'll ask him next time we get together for a pint and a giggle at the King's Arms.

Mormons are tritheists. Is PF a Mormon? Who are we to judge?

Episcopus nunc vocandus Civitatis prope Lacum Salinarum? Dierum Ultimorum Sanctus?

Scio bene quid vos omnes utpote qui curiosiores sitis cognoscere cupiatis: quot habet uxores?

25 April 2019

Genre fluidity?

I thought Professor Ratzinger's latest was rather good. Not being germanophone, I did pause for just a moment at the bit about public disorders being stimulated in airliners by naked thighs. Then I realised that, pretty certainly, this was a piece of Bavarian humour. He, after all, was the pontiff who wrote with such approval about the Risus Paschalis. God bless him. The images evoked in my mind by his little quip were, indeed, diverting. How on earth would all those sweet little grandmothers who do the bulk of the stewarding on American Airlines have coped with the lust-filled hordes ...

His thesis, essentially, was that if, after a long period of no-exceptions ethical teaching, you suddenly spring on seminarians, not to mention on the world, the idea that there are no moral absolutes, there is a high a priori probability that ethical restraints, among people of all 'orientations', are more likely to be weakened rather than to be reinforced. There came into my imagination a picture of an enterprising urban fox sniffing with interest around the edges of a suspected tautology. Is there a technical term among the Intelligentsia for a Statement of the Bl**d*ng *bv***s?

We now know that the Ratzinger 'notes' were sent to PF and Parolin before the Vatican Meeting on Abuse as a contribution to the debate, but were suppressed until the Pope Emeritus himself later made them public. I am surprised that anybody should be surprised. This, after all, is the pontificate in which PF with shameless mendacity claimed that the dubia had never actually been sent to him; that nobody had ever given him the facts about episcopal abuse in Latin America. In which the Filial Correction received no reply. In which the Vigano revelations merely elicited a load of c*dsw*ll*p about the virtues of Silence, subsequently given a noisy reprise during Holy Week.

Is the term 'c*dsw*ll*p' current in North American English?

This is not a pontificate in which Telling the Truth has a high priority. Or any discernible priority. Happily, however, the former Roman Pontiff has not quite allowed mellow old age to blunt his capacity for deft sharpness. Equally happily, Cardinal Mueller has demonstrated the good sense of the old political advice about keeping your enemy close to your chest. Traddies who complain that "Nobody ever speaks up about the current crisis" should pay more attention to Gerhard Mueller's words. He gives no quarter and he doesn't give it so beautifully.

The delightfully deadpan way in which he demolishes PF actually makes me laugh aloud.

Ah, these Germans!! The Graf, on the other hand, just makes me cry. Don't talk to me about Viennese Charm ... but if you insist I won't say No to another pastry ...

24 April 2019

Fifty Happy Years

An article in the Catholic Herald reminded the less mathematical among us that the Novus Ordo is half a century old. Goodness me, how time does fly when one is enjoying oneself.

The article recounted the prediction of Cardinal Heenan (whom I regard as having been quite a Good Egg) that the New Mass would produce only women and children.

Was he right about the children?

23 April 2019

S George?? UPDATED

Before the changes made just before the beginning of the twentieth century, S George, a Double of the First Class here in England, could today have taken advantage of the very human, pastoral, and compassionate rule that ubi ... est ... concursus populi ad celebrandum Festum quod transferri debet, possunt cantari duae Missae, una de die, alia de Festo.

[The Rubricae Generales, around this time, were modified so as to exclude the Monday and Tuesday of Easter Week from this generous approach! But, right down to the 1950s, it remained the law that this liberty could be taken on the Wednesday (etc.) of Easter Week.]

I remember, as a young priest more than half a century ago, explaining to people how S George could not possibly be observed in Easter Week because the Resurrection of the Lord was so important that S George had to be ignored until next Monday. How cocksure and infallible I was in those days*. As I observed recently in this blog, Mothering Sunday and S Valentine's day, abolished after the Council, have proved so resilient that, by gritting their teeth, they have survived into the bleak, cold, liturgical winds of the third millennium. Even PF organised a romantic love-in for desponsati on [the abolished] S Valentine's day!

The strength of these survivals in popular devotion demonstrates the power of inculturation and of actuosa participatio. And yet the liturgists who write learned treatises about Inculturation and Actuosa Participatio are the upholders of the post-Conciliar fads, modi, which eliminated prime examples of both.

Often, those to whom I condescendingly explained the impossibility of observing S George on S George's day were members of societies with his name, or Boy Scout Leaders. I now wonder how necessary it was to fight those battles. The Saints in the Christmas Octave were so well dug-in that even Bugnini and Co could not uproot them. Generations of usage allowed S Anastasia to retain a toehold in the Masses of Christmas Day itself. Byzantines remain capable of a wide variety of liturgical combinations.

So what am I saying? Not, I hope, that I now have yet another cocksure, infallible, template for remaking the Calendar or its rubrics. I simply desire to throw into the mix, for discussion, the following hypothesis. For over a century, liturgical experts have been laying down how the people of God ought not to worship. Very often, their prescriptions have contradicted the instincts and inherited, inculturated, customs of ordinary priests and ordinary congregations. The post-Conciliar mistakes were only the final stage in this process of academic, intellectualist, even perhaps Jansenist, liturgical arrogance.

If this has something of the truth in it, here comes the tricky question. In the pathless wilderness into which we experts have led the Church, is there any chance of finding a way to something of the richness and the populism of the worshipping culture which we started trashing a century ago?
*Perhaps, to be a little fairer to myself, I should say that my error was too much respect and deference to what "the Church" had liturgically decided. I will do penance by not making the same mistake for another half century.

22 April 2019

Prokathemene tes agapes

Today is the obitus of a pope. S Soter, Pope around 170ish, sent alms to the Corinthian Church during a famine; S Denys, Bishop of Corinth, wrote to his Brother about how this was the custom, ethos, of the Roman Church from the beginning, ap' arkhes, arkhethen. S Denys reveals that S Soter's Letter has been read at the Sunday Synaxis in Corinth and will continue to be read frequently, as the earlier Letter from S Clement still continued to be read.

Here we have got to the very heart of the question of Christian Unity and of the role played in that by the Roman Church. Communio, Koinonia, from the New Testament onwards, was expressed by hospitality (the receiving of fellow Christians from other Churches); by the sending of material assistance; and by the exchange of letters. If you wish to follow this up, try the roots koinon-/sunkoinon-, xen-, sustat-, and dekh-/dokh- in your Moulton. The root agap- perhaps sums it all up.

This is not all just a matter of kindliness and chumminess and having an affectionate sentiment beneath one's navel. It is shot through by dogma. When S Paul made his Gentile Christians collect money to be taken physically by their representatives to the Jerusalem Church, his motives were steely rather than soppy. By accepting the material assistance of their Gentile fellow Christians, the Jewish Christian headquarters would, in a very visible and tangible way, be accepting the validity of the Christian vocation of non-Jews. And in the early centuries we find in the giving or witholding of hospitality, and in the sending of letters, the diagnostics of what we would call 'being in communion'.

When S Ignatius refers to the Roman Church as "presiding over the agape", he is not paying some sort of conventional compliment to its soft-hearted generosity. He is alluding to the crucial, the nodal, centrality of the Roman Church in the links of Communio which manifest all the particular, local Churches, to be one Universal Church, Christ's Body.

21 April 2019

Risus Paschalis 2019

Some years before Vatican II, Dom Gregory Dix was, rather daringly, invited by Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons to give a lecture on Anglican spirituality.

In the discussion, he was asked by an unidentified priest whether the Anglican clergy were taught Ignatian spirituality.

Dix replied that it was the only kind that most of them were taught, and that this was very unfortunate, as it was a type that was very unsuitable to English people, so that most of them, having tried it without success, abandoned prayer altogether.

There was a burst of laughter and the questioner, somewhat disconcerted, sat down with the remark, "Father, that is a truly Benedictine sentiment".

The chairman of the meeting whispered to Dom Gregory, "That was the Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus".

Narratore E L Mascall.

20 April 2019

In Magno Sabbato

                                          IEIUNIUM PASCHALE

19 April 2019

In Parasceve Domini

                                                     IEIUNIUM PASCHALE.

18 April 2019

'qualiter ... immolatus vicerit'

As we come to the Pascha itself ... in the older understanding of that term, found in the Homilies of S Leo ... this blog will fall silent. On Friday and Saturday, I shall simply mark my blog IEIUNIUM PASCHALE -- the Paschal Fast. This Fast appears to go back to before the invention of Lent; these two Days are not technically part of Lent. If you never quite got round to a proper Lenten observance, surely you ... we ... could manage just two days?

There used to be a simplistic error to the effect that the Eastern Christians, with their superior wisdom, emphasised the glorious and joyful triumph of the Resurrection, while we poor plodding unsophisticated Occidentals were preoccupied with the gloom of the Passion. Happily, we hear less of this, not least because of the sensible insistence of Metropolitan Callistus Ware that it was a nonsense.

But I simply don't see how anybody could ever have looked at the Roman Rite and claimed that it lacked the joy, the triumphalism of the Byzantine Rite. The Breviary ... and the Liturgy ... make insistent use of the two hymns composed by S Venantius Fortunatus, at the behest of a Right Royal Reverend Mother, for the Reception of a large Relic of the Holy Cross from the Emperor (of Constantinople) himself. The Reception was pretty Right Royal as well.

So, in these hymns, we get the wonderfully paradoxical oxymoron immolatus vicerit (the Sacrificed Victim is the Conqueror). Dic triumphum nobilem. And the claim that the Cross is like a tropaion ... the Tree on a battlefield, with the spoils of the defeated enemy nailed to it, which a victorious Army left on the battlefield as a monument of its Victory. And the General himself, the Imperator, having waited with his army outside the City until the Senate voted him a Triumph, entered the city with his face painted red like that of very Juppiter himself. There was no higher human glory than his. His soldiers did their apotropaic best to distract and nullify any feeling on the part of the gods that there was hubris in all this, by shouting obscene abuse at their General. In the case of C Iulius Caesar, this consisted of reiterated allusions to his alleged acts of sexual inversion. Jolly stuff, not printable on a Family Blog.

Roman Triumphs were politically incorrect occasions. At least, that is what the defeated kings must have felt as they trudged along chained to the chariot of the Imperator, hearing the repeated shout io Triumphe, their every step bringing them one step closer to the final icing on the day's cake, their own climactic strangling.

That rather over-the-top Anglo-Saxon poem glorifying the Holy Rood indicates that there are indeed other ways of making the same triumphalist point. Serial paintings by Rubens ... the Triumph of the Eucharist, the Triumph of the Church ... also demonstrate the correct and Catholic mindset. The important thing is to be triumphant. The thrill of this Triumph should be in the heart of every Christian throughout Holy Week. It is, of course Christ's Triumph and not ours, so a certain reticent sobriety on our part ...

But Hey!! It is our triumph, because we are incorporated by Baptism into Christ and His Triumph is ours. As He remarked, tharseite, ego nenikeka ton kosmon (John 16:33).

Io Triumphe!  Immolatus vicit! Regnavit a ligno Deus!

17 April 2019

PF's Maundy Thursday Games

It started off, older readers will recall, back in the deep mists of Antiquity, with PF washing the feet of women as well as of men. This, however agreeable he may have found it, was then illegal.

He then ordered the law to be changed so that any priest could wash the feet of Christians of either sex.

But he himself has continued his friendly-to-camera encouragement of illegality by washing the feet of non-Christians.

However, whatever would he do if crafty Cardinal Sarah called his bluff and yet again changed the rubrics so as to make that legal?

PF seems to have such a deep personal need to break laws. (Could it be that when he was at school he was inadequately thrashed when he broke the rules?)

Perhaps the next stage could be for him to wash the hooves of approved ruminants (of either orientation).

Properly managed, this might enable him to be in breach of Leviticus 11:7.

Some time ago, I suggested another possible development of the Pontifical Pedilavium. This would remove the ceremony from being subject to the rubrics of the Liturgy, and so it would cease to be unlawful.

"While being driven round and round the piazza di San Pietro, the Pope could suddenly leap sylph-like from his popemobile. His security guards would then drag out of the cheering crowd a selected individual and liberate her from her shoes and other, er, pedal integuments. The ever faithful, invariably efficient Guido 'Jeeves' Marini would appear ex nihilo, magically, imperturbably, at his Master's side with basin, water, and towel. 

"The People's Pontiff would then dive to his knees and ..." et cetera vel similia.

16 April 2019

Fire and the Baalim UPDATE

Having just heard yesterday afternoon of the fire in Paris, I took up my Breviarium Romanum to say Mattins of the following day (today) and found myself reading Jeremiah 11: 15-20:

Olivam uberem, pulchram, fructiferam, speciosam vocavit Dominus nomen tuum: ad vocem loquelae, grandis exarsit ignis in ea, et combusta sunt fruteta eius. Et Dominus exercituum, qui plantavit te, locutus est super te malum: pro malis domus Israel et domus Iuda, quae fecerunt sibi ad irritandum me, libantes Baalim.

I couldn't help thinking of PF's syncretistic Abu Dhabi statement. How could anybody?

Later, one Macron appeared  on the TV, talking in long syllables about the rebuilding which would follow. I thought: Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum ....

Apparently, the use of public money would not offend against laicite because Notre Dame is, culturally, so much bigger a thing than mere Christianity. So that's all right, then. Some arty person, interviewed this morning, explained that the rebuilt Cathedral will of course be disentangled from the (Christian) myths which led to its building. More or less back to the Revolution, and the Goddess Reason. Since first writing this piece, I still feel cold about the emotions 

I shall not contribute one sou to the construction of a new High Place to the Baalim. If there were to be a specific proposal to restore the High Altar to its pre1989, pre-Conciliar, state, I might be tempted to shell out a libre or two for that.

15 April 2019

1549? Or 1971?

A correspondent whom I greatly respect as a Confessor of the Faith in these troubled times, asks for more information about my statement that the Jesuits burned the relics in the Reliquary Chapel in Oxford's Catholic Parish Church, Alyoggers. Information is provided in an excellent, erudite, and readable little book called St Aloysius Parish Oxford The Third English Oratory A Brief History and Guide 1793-2000 New Edition by Fr Jerome Bertram, MA, FSA, of the Oratory. I will lift some bits from Father's narrative.

"In 1954 the Jesuits decided to 'modernise' the church. Nearly all the statues and pictures disappeared, as did several memorial brasses to priests and parishioners, and the whole building was painted battleship grey, obliterating all the brilliant colouring of the internal decorations ... In the 1960s came the major changes in the Catholic Church following the second Vatican Council ...The parish registers tell their story: whereas in 1959 there were forty one converts received, in 1969 there were but two. The Corpus Christi and other processions were suppressed  ... The Relic chapel had long been neglected ... Now the collection was dispersed. Most of the actual relics were burnt, the containers thrown away, vestments, including some mitres that had belonged to Pope Pius IX, given away to amateur actors, and the books appropriated away from the parish. By the end of the 1970s hardly anything remained, and the chapel screen had been scrapped ... The cupboards on each side were intended to display the relics and antiquities, and the body of Saint Pacificus, an early Christian martyr, was enshrined beneath the altar.  ... There were thirty three relics of St Philip Neri, mostly fragments of his clothing, five of St Teresa including her signature, many English martyrs such as part of St Thomas More's cap, relics of popular modern saints like the Cure d'Ars, mementoes of the three Jesuit boy saints ... many souvenirs of Pope Pius IX, including the pen with which he signed the bull defining the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and a great collection of letters, several from early Oratorian Fathers such as Cardinal Baronius. In addition the collection included vestments, candlesticks, chalices and the like as well as a number of oil paintings and several crystal and marble urns from the Catacombs All these relics and treasures were destroyed or dispersed in 1971 ... "

14 April 2019


A couple of years ago, I was in the world's largest Jewish city around the time of Succoth, the autumn Feast of Tabernacles. Passing through Grand Central on my way to visit the Frick Collection, I was accosted by a charming young man, with skull-cap, who seemed all of eight years old, who profferred me a strip of palm with the question "You're Jewish?" It took me but a nanosecond to decide that this was not the occasion to offer subtle distinctions; so I just said "I'm afraid I'm not", at which he cheerfully withdrew the palm and passed on his way. Neither of us attempted to proselytise the other.

Here are some words from Fr Thurston's admirable CTS pamphlet dated 1949:
It is perhaps sometimes forgotten that the association of the cry Hosanna with the waving of palm-branches does not date merely from our Lord's solemn entry into Jerusalem. If the people saluted our Saviour in this manner at the moment of His triumph, it was because both action and words were familiar to them as part of the ceremonies of one of the most joyful festivals of the year. On each of the seven days of the feast of Tabernacles the people moved in procession about the altar in the court of the Temple, making their boughs of palm bend towards it, and shouting Hosanna ("save now"), while the trumpets sounded. Moreover it would seem that verses 25 and 26 of Psalm cxvii, beginning Hosanna and containing the phrase, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," were used as a sort of responsory to the great Hallel (Psalms cxii-cxvii), which was recited on this occasion. When it is added from the explicit tradition of the Talmud that the children who were old enough to wave the palm-branches were expected to take part in the celebration, and that the boughs themselves came in the course of time to be called  Hosannas, it will be clear how close a connection there is between the Christian procession of Palm Sunday and the palm festival still observed by the Jews after the harvest in the autumn. Both the ceremonies of the Jews in their synagogues and our own procession on Palm Sunday represent a rite which has existed in some shape from the time of the entry into the promised land more than 3,000 years ago.