31 August 2019

A necessary pedantry

We often speak loosely about "the Church". I fear I do it myself. In a prim, schoolmasterly fashion, I would like to sugest some rather important precisions.

(1) The Church, the Body of Christ, consists of the Church Triumphant; the Church Exspectant; the Church Militant. Heaven; Purgatory; Earth. We use "the Church" so commonly when we are talking only about the Chrch Militant.

The tempter Screwtape writes to a junior tempter: "One of our greatest allies ... is the Church itself. ... I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That ... is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished sham Gothic erection ... the local grocer with an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad ... When he gets to his pew and looks around him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided..."etc., Letter 2.

The awareness that the Church is so much more than merely the Church Militant, owes, I think, a lot to the appropriation of this important truth by Anglo-Catholic writers of the twentieth century  from Orthodox writers.

(2) Sometimes we talk about "the Church" when we mean, within the Church Militant, the Latin Church. Latin Christianity is  not the only cultural, theological, liturgical tradition, even among those Christians who are in full communion with the See of S Peter.

30 August 2019


Speaking about the "Dubia" some little while ago, PF said that these questions had been published in the Press before being submitted to him. He described this action as "not ecclesial".

(Here we have to decide whether Cardinal Burke and his associates are liars for saying that the text was sent to PF long before its publication, or PF the liar for claiming the opposite. Having on a number of occasions had the privilege of Cardinal Burke's company, I have my own judgement about who the liar is. Others will naturally have their own good reasons for judging differently. But this little detail is not what I am discussing this morning.)

We now have a former Nuncio to these kingdoms reported as saying that a strong letter will be sent to the Pope "tomorrow" urging the pretended ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries.

Presumably, PF will draw this person's attention to the teaching of S John Paul II, expressive of the infallible Ordinary Magisterium, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

Presumably he will also point out how "unecclesial" it was for this initiative to be be made public before being sent to him.

Presumably some of the venom unleashed upon another retired Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, who went "off-message", will be be made generously available to this retired Nuncio, who has rubbished the infallible teaching of the Church he was ordained to serve.

29 August 2019

Valentia Island

For fifteen years of our lives while we were still in the Church of England, we would still, in late August, be spending seven weeks at one of the loveliest places I have ever known: the island of Valentia, off County Kerry near the bottom left hand corner of Ireland. The sort of jokes the English make about the Irish, are, in Ireland, made about the people of Kerry; and, in Kerry, are made about the people of Valentia. But they are, in my view, marvellous people, friendly, articulate, ever curious. We went there because, during the summer months, the Church of Ireland opened up a church there for the holidaymakers (there being no Church of Ireland parishioners permanently living there), and provided a chaplain's house.

I am reminded of Valentia every morning as I say my Latin (EF) Mass; you see, during our visits I got to know, very well, the Parish Priest, Fr John Shanahan, a gracious, generous, and well-read man. Having mentioned to him that I stood in need of an Altar Missal, and Did he have a very old one that his church wouldn't miss, I found a very nice 1950s missal in a bag on my doorstep. It must have been bought back in the glory days of the Irish church; during the Marian Year of 1954, commemorating the centenary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immmaculate Conception, when the then Parish Priest had a derelict slate quarry transformed into a very creditable representation of the Grotto at Lourdes. On Assumption Day Fr John and I used to go there and lead his congregation (with the addition of one or two of my Church of Ireland people) in the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

If you want to go to a holiday spot with fishing, water sports, regattas, ogham stones, ancient monastic sites, fossilised tetrapod footprints, choughs, razorbills, gannets, fulmars, puffins, seals, dolphins, oysters, scallops, lobsters, subtropical gardens, fantastic walks ... you can't do better than Knightstown, Valentia. And don't forget to say your rosary in the Grotto.

28 August 2019


Recently, I rejoiced on a rare Monday actually to be able to say the 'green' Mass of the Sunday. And then, on the Tuesday, I said a Mass of a local Beatus, Dominic of the Mother of God (who received S J H Newman into the Church) ... with a commemoration of S Joseph Calasanctius, the Saint on the Universal Calendar.

I would like to say those grand old Roman Masses, with their superb collects, more often. As far as the Divine Office is concerned, I think it is deplorable that, in the Novus Ordo, even on the surviving ferias one is not allowed to use the Sunday Collect (only allowed at the Office of Readings; elsewhere collects relating to the time-of-day are provided).

There is a perennial tendency for calendars to get cluttered; this is accentuated by the unnecessary Novus Ordo prohibition of what we used to call 'commemorations'. And day after day, we repeat the hymn Iste Confessor as we celebrate the endless succession of  'confessors', especially 'confessor bishops' who founded orders or congregations.

The older strata of the Roman Calendar have very many more Martyrs. As, indeed, it seems to me the Byzantine Calendar does. Perhaps this is because for centuries the Western Church was dominated by confessor bishops and founders while the Ottoman Empire offered to God New Martyrs.

I don't think that either the 1962 calendar, or that of the Liturgia Horarum, have quite got things right. As an interim remedy, perhaps the Novus Ordo Calendar should admit commemorations; perhaps the twentieth century martys canonised by S John Paul II should be among those allowed onto the 1962 Calendar ... and more saints should be made optional.

27 August 2019

Things to do in church

In Ickford church in Buckinghamshire, where Pam and I once went for a walk, one of the window sills is marked with a design for the ancient game of Nine Men's Morris [according to OED, a corruption for merrells]. In fact it is marked twice; one design neatly cut, another rather crudely.

Who played this game there, and when? I know we mustn't assume that medieval worshippers were always devout and well-behaved, but the sill concerned is rather near the site (indicated by an adjacent piscina) of an ancient altar ... and accordingly probably inside the confines of a parclose screen and perhaps within a chantry. Were the merrells players active in the age of box pews ... my Victorian predecessor at S Thomas's, Canon Chamberlain, when he was evicting the box pews from S Thomas's, claimed that such things went on within them as were an offence to female modesty. Or should we deem the perpetrators to have been parishioners at leisure, amusing themselves in church when worship was not occurring?

Romantic Anglicans sometimes forget that before the unjustly reviled Victorians got down to their sometimes admittedly heavy restorations, some of our churches were almost derelict and many were in a state of near collapse.

Any thoughts?

26 August 2019


Enixe commendatur ut quilibet sacerdos quotidie unam Missam Votivam offerat pro Cineribus Recuperandis.

De Laszlo and eyes

I wonder if the canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman will be welcomed by any thematically associated exhibitions? I might nominate a  picture which appeared in London in 2010 from Budapest and had also featured in a very jolly little exhibition put on by Christie's in 2004: a fine portrait by Philip de Laszlo of Leo XIII, who rehabilitated Newman after the Pio Nono years by giving him (despite the machinations of Cardinal Manning) a Cardinal's hat.

I never forget a Laszlo, because right beside my door in Great School at Lancing hung a superb portrait by Laszlo of a former head master ... he did it cheap because he had a couple of boys at the College. Laszlo rendered Dr Bowlby's eyes very well: haunted and disappointed. Evelyn Waugh commented that it was while he was at Lancing that Bowlby must have realised that he had been passed over for a bishopric ... he ended up sacked after a SCR coup ... one of life's unachievers?

I have been told that Laszlo's first attempt at a portrait of the Pope made him look disastrously like the late Voltaire; but the artist was very young at the time! Laszlo recorded that, during his four sittings with Pope Leo, the Holy Father conversed about "a great variety of subjects; political, religious, social, artistic and scientific". The eyes are those of an old (he was in his nineties when he died), kindly, highly intelligent, and intellectually lively man.

Pope Leo was no slouch when it came to composing Latin hymns.

25 August 2019

Shrewsbury College flattened usque ad fundamenta

Pam and I took a walk the other day which I don't think we've done since we were undergraduates. We strolled along South Parks Road, to see how the devotees of Natural Philosophy are getting on. And the verdict is: splendidly! Readers will recall the 1938 chapter of Let Dons Delight, where Roberts, the venerable and aged science don at Simon Magus College, is inclined to complain that "the labs are being starved". Not any more, they're not. Unbelievably, a great brutalist monstrosity on the corner of South Parks Road and Mansfield Road, temp. 1970, which in a sane world would be demolished, is being refurbished for another phase of its misbegotten life!!

We hurried past it to revisit the redbrick building with pretty Queen Anneish gables on the other side of the road: in our, happier, times a convent, but now describing itself as Linacre College. I was wondering what has become of all the clever nuns who were such an adornment to intellectual life in the 1960s ... when the penny dropped in my mind: clever nuns are now largely a thing of the past. The Spirit of Vatican II has phased out such unwanted anomalies.

So we passed the desolate site of Parsons' Pleasure, where Sir Maurice Bowra once so famously adjudged his os to be magis pudendum than his inguina, and approached Mesopotamia. But lo! there is a new path on the West side of the Cherwell ... which led us to S Catherine's College, a building described by 'Bauhaus' Pevsner in 1974 as "a perfect piece of architecture ... if young people don't like it, that may be an argument against them rather than against the college". Ah ... the facile arrogance of a cultural elite ...

The Medieval monks, in their crabbed way, devised the concept of the quadrangle or cloister, wherein the members of a scholarly (or any) community can most comfortably relate to each other, and enjoy the shelter afforded by this enclosed design against the worst demonstrations of our weather. In so devising they were, of course, simply reinventing the old Roman convention of the urban house looking inwards to its sheltered interior peristyle garden.

The Enlightenment of the 1960s knew so much better than monks and Romans. "Cat's" follows a quadrangular design but wisely leaves open the North and South ends of its neo-quadrangles, thus skilfully chanelling cold North winds so that they sweep refreshingly down through the entire complex.

We returned to Mansfield Road hoping to pass by the little house where, six decades ago, Pam used to go for tutorials with Miriam Griffin. Horror!! Not only have nearly all those coy little donnish houses been demolished, but the entire site of Shrewsbury College has been flattened! 

"Shrewsbury College" ... its very dedication calls to mind a happy era of strong and clever women, long before the advent of the whinging Sisterhood. "... Mary Countess of Shrewsbury ... the queer, strong-featured face, with its ill-tempered mouth and sidelong secretive glance ... Bess of Hardwick's daughter ... a great intellectual, indeed, but something of a holy terror: uncontrollable by her menfolk, undaunted by the Tower, contemptuously silent before the Privy Council, an obstinate recusant, a staunch friend and implacable enemy and a lady with a turn for invective remarkable even in an age when few mouths suffered from mealiness. ...  Her husband, the 'great and glorious Earl of Shrewsbury', had purchased domestic peace at a price; for, said Bacon, there was 'a greater than he, which is my Lady Shrewsbury'".

On the boarding surrounding the demolition site, there is one of those deliciously deceitful "Architects' Drawings". It demonstrates what is even now being built in place of Shrewsbury College. In the middle there will be Scone College Cricket Ground, and round it accommodation for undergraduate and postgraduate members of that eccentric collegiate institution. The drawing shows men in white, vigorously playing Cricket within, er, a few feet of plate-glass windows.

Ah, well, I'm sure the Master of Scone ("First come I. My name is Jowett / There's no knowledge but I know it") knows best.

We scuttled off down Jowett Walk ("I am the Master of this College / What I don't know isn't knowledge") to the Covered Market, and stocked up with Levantine goodies ... no; not in Palm's delicatessen; that, like Fuller's Walnut Cake, now only exists as a Platonic Idea ... but at Manos's  Greek Restaurant (admirable, but not as admirable as his magnificent first emporium still flourishing up in Jericho).

That cheered us up enough to enable us to stagger to our 'bus-stop outside Cardinal College.

24 August 2019


I don't know if you you feel this ... a stirring of irritation when somebody uses words in a just slightly "incorrect" way ... incorrect, that is, to my rather narrow little mind.

One of my examples is hearing people referring to a priest "putting on his robes".

For me, there is a world of difference between 'robes' and 'vestments'. 'ROBES' signify a laudable status which someone by laudable exertions has laudably achieved. Examples: Judges; Mayors; Doctors of Philosophy ...

This last example is a comparatively new introduction in this University. In the Old Days, when lovely clean-cut American youths came here to further their academic careers, they were told to read for one of the tried-and-tested Honour Schools. This they did. But problems arose. When the little fellows went back 'state-side', people asked them what they had achieved. "Bachelor of Arts", they proudly replied. "But you already had that from X University over here before you went across to England" was the wondering reply.

So Oxford introduced the 'Doctor of Philosophy' degree. Soon, not only Americans but everybody who had academic ambitions was taking it. When we were undergraduates in the early 1960s, the younger lecturers and Fellows tended to have one; older dons jealously, zealously, guarded the title "Mr Smith' and spluttered angrily when the well-meaning mistakenly addressed them as "Dr Smith".

To such dinosaurs, the only doctorates that meant anything were the rare old medieval doctorates in Divinity, Law, Medicine, Music, Letters, and more latterly Science.

The gown of the Doctor of Philosophy is a vulgar red and blue without proper sleeves. Nothing like the stately medieval gowns. If you will forgive a Bergoglian expression, they look like overgrown butterflies. For all I know, the gown may be based on transpontine archetypes (what are New England Butterflies like?)
Doctoral garb distinguishes the achievement of, er, achievers.

'VESTMENTS', on the other hand, negate the individuality and achievements of the wearer. He wears them to indicate that he is nothing; that he is acting solely in the name of Another. He is a man who was not honoured but humiliated, when, at his Ordination, he lay prostrate on the ground. He now acts clothed in the Priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Far from gaining or achieving anything, he has lost individuality. 'Initiative' is, quite simply, not his job. Nor is 'personality'.

He is a man whose hands and voice are not his own because his sacramental words and deeds are those of the Redeemer.

When you see him emerging, chasubled, from the Sacristy, you should say to yourself "Ah ... jolly good ... another of these Nobodies ..."

23 August 2019


A very good piece , on that blog, from the redoutable Fr Allan Hawkins.

The Papal Tiara

A few days ago, Fr Zed wrote an interesting piece about papal liturgy and its adjuncts ... including the papal tiara.

Perhaps it is time for me to revive the Hunwicke Proposal for the Restoration of the Tiara.

In 1800, the papacy was under enormous threat. Pope Pius VI had been arrested by the forces of the Enlightenment, and had died in exile. Many thought that he had been the last pope. However, eventually a Conclave was held in Venice, and Pius VII was elected. But the tiaras of his predecessors were unavailable ... because they were all in occupied Rome.

So an instant, papier-mache tiara was made for him!

It still exists.

Wonderful! This cheap-o tiara symbolises a persecuted Church; a Church Militant at the mercy of her enemies. A Church without the capacity to draw upon the physical riches of an opulent past.

An ideal piece of headgear for a Holy Father called to preside over a persecuted, a slenderer Church.

And here is another Hunwicke Proposal.

Let a law be enacted
(a) prohibiting the acquisition for use by the Roman Pontiff of any new liturgical garb; and
(b) mandating that any monies which anybody desires to use for giving the pope new liturgical garb must instead be given to the poor. Let the pontiff 'slum' by wearing the left-overs in the Vatican sacristies ... the vestments worn by his predecessors in the Roman See. Vestments still impregnated with the snuff used by B Pius IX! The very vestments in which Pius XII hiccupped his way through his final years!

This law should last for, say, 300 years. By then, perhaps these inherited vestments would indeed all have been used up.

And the poor might not be poor.

22 August 2019


Happy times, when I used to go a couple of Sundays each year to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Latin Mass group in Copenhagen when they did not have a regular priest! Days when my friend Ulf, whose eyes see everything, who understands everything, took me round the palaces and parks, the museums and galleries of that most exquisitely civilised city! And introduced me to its culinary delights ... did you know that it possesses probably one of the half-dozen best Italian restaurants in the world?

Ulf has most kindly sent me a present: Hymnarium Suppletivum: Hymni Sacri recentiores compositi a Ioanne Georgio Bertram (this second edition, 2017, has the ISBN numbers 10:3-86417-088-5 and 13:978-3-86417-088-1). This is a profoundly interesting volume in which every page one turns elicits a "Wow"!

Bertram begins his Praefatio ad secundam editionem by remarking, justly, that Leo XIII was a hymnodus ingeniosus et entheos. He laments that, since that time, the Muses have been silent! He makes an exception for Dom Anselmo Lentini ... who, he says, composed some new hymns for the Benedictine Saints. True: but Dom Anselmo also composed quite a number of other hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours to supply exactly the want which Bertram pinpoints -- the lack of proper hymns for Saints, particularly including the newly canonised.

So, for example, Bertram provides a fine composition for the Visitation of our Lady on July 2. But Lentini had already composed a new hymn for this feast (on its Novus Ordo date), so it is not quite accurate to say that the Muses had been entirely silent. When one compares the two, I think it has to be said that Lentini's has the instinct for sobriety which, as Edmund Bishop pointed out, characterises the Roman Rite. Bertram portrays S John Baptist loudly complaining that he is still confined in the darkness of the womb! (Lentini's work can be found in two volumes, Hymni Instaurandi of 1968 and Te decet of 1984.)

Bertram's compositions seem to me often to breathe the exuberant spirit of the Middle Ages (and I do not say this in a sneering or pejorative spirit). He is not scared of starting a hymn with Westphalicum illud praecipuum genus ... . Medieval in spirit is his detailed refutation, in a hymn he composes in honour of Pius XII, of the accusations concerning papal policy towards the persecution of the Jewish people. He even works in an account of how Rome's Chief Rabbi received in Baptism the name Eugenio! His admiration for Cardinal Midszenty elicits a hymn in honour of that great pontiff; and a hymn starting Habsburgensibus goes on to apostrophise Sic te, Carole, sic te Zita ...

I am not sure that this collection is, so to speak, oven-ready to be added to the (pre-Conciliar) Breviarium Romanum. But it will undoubtedly be a stimulating volume for the clerus Latinus to keep close at hand, perhaps on the prayer-desk or beside the bed.

Thank you, Ulf, for this gift and for the friendship of the years!

21 August 2019

G K Chesterton

The Right Reverend Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton, has recently declined to progress, as we say nowadays, the cause for the Beatification of G K Chesterton.

I don't understand his first reason : he says that there is no local cult. But, traditionally, those promoting a cause had to demonstrate that there was no local cult; that the local Church had not jumped the canonical gun. Perhaps a canonist could explain this to me. Nor do I find it easy to take seriously his second reason: "I have not been able to tease out a pattern of personal spirituality". The liturgical Calendar is already, arguably, overloaded with Bishops and Founders. The addition of a simple and married layperson who sought sanctity simply through the plain everyday means of grace offered by the Redeemer in His Church would seem to me a valuable affirmation of plain 'mere' Christian 'spirituality'.

It seems to me obvious that the real reason for Bishop Doyle's decision is the third claim he makes: that "even allowing for the context of GKC's time, the issue of anti-Semitism is a real obstacle particularly at this time in the United Kingdom".

I had better make clear that I am not a Chestertonian enthusiast. I have no dog in this fight.

My apprehension is a 'justice' issue. His lordship is behaving in a quasi-judicial manner, and I do not believe that he possesses the necessary and publicly visible judicial impartiality.

Why? Soon after the end of Pope Benedict's pontificate, the German bishops launched an attack on part of his legacy: his imposition on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite of a Prayer for the Jews, composed by the Pope himself, for use (only) on Good Friday. And somebody persuaded the CBCEW to fall into line behind Cardinal Marx.

This was probably the most disgraceful episode in the history of the CBCEW.

A body of men so anxious to rubbish a Magisterial action of a very learned Pope only half a decade or so after that action is not a body of men which can claim impartiality in the area concerned.

Peter Doyle was a member of that body of men.

20 August 2019

Meeting Newman

A fine way of encountering Blessed John Henry Newman, as we prepare for his Canonisation, is to revisit the Oxford which formed both Newman the Anglican and Newman the Catholic; Newman the Tractarian controversialist and Newman the venerated Cardinal.

In 1945, Evelyn Waugh looked back to the 1920s and wrote "Oxford -- submerged now and obliterated, irrecoverable as Lyonesse, so quickly have the waters come flooding in -- Oxford, in those days, was still a city of aquatint. In her spacious and quiet streets men walked and talked and spoke as they had done in Newman's day; her autumnal mists, her grey springtime, and the rare glory of her summer days ... when the chestnut was in flower and the bells rang out high and clear over her gables and cupolas, exhaled the soft airs of centuries of youth."

But how can you revisit that city, those aquatints, those submerged streets? There are still copies available of a booklet deceptive in its slightness (50 pages) which the admirable Fr Jerome Bertram of the Oratory wrote in 1995 and greatly enlarged in 2010 to celebrate the Beatification. It is called Newman's Oxford and is in stock at the Bookshop attached to St Aloysius' Church in St Giles. With painstaking scholarship, it traces the places the Blessed lived and worked in, and retells anecdotes very worthy of the retelling ... such as the College washerwoman who so memorably impinged upon the installation of Edward Hawkins as Provost of Oriel ...

But stay: I am aware that some of you may be unable to visit Oxford before the Canonisation. Do ot worry. One of the strengths of Fr Jerome's work is that he has hunted down some thirty pictures and engravings of Oxford as she was in Newman's time.

Perusing this slender but exquisite volume, you will visit Oxford  -- Newman's Oxgord -- more truly than if you fought your way through the regiments of Oriental touristswho have gridlocked the city once so "branchy between towers; Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmed, lark-charmed, rook-racked, river-rounded ..."

19 August 2019

Missile Romanum ... hairesis kai skandalon ...

The egregious Austin Ivereigh is reported to have complained that admirers of the former Roman Pontiff Pope Benedict are a "source of division and scandal" because they launch aginst PF "a missile every month".

It is surprising how different things can seem from different viewpoints. To me, it seems that admirers of PF, and sometimes even his own pontifical mouth, are the most constant sources of division and scandal, consistently reliable in their grim predictability.

And it seems to me that never a month goes by without these same gruesome sources emitting divisive missiles of unorthodoxy or of scandalous ambiguity.

Let us be fair. From the beginning of this pontificate, there has been no concealment of the fact that  its policy is "to make a mess". It is a shame that the words ataxian polutropos poieson are missing from so many of the Greek manuscripts of II Timothy 4.

However, in the surviving fragments of that sadly lacunose text, S Paul does advise us to preach the Word eukairos akairos. He never ... even in an ambiguous footnote ... mentions the need to do this on an irregular, intermittent, or less than monthly basis.

18 August 2019

Typology is the answer

The 'Spirit of the Council' has had a lot to do with the erroneous notion that 'the Council' told the Jews that they did not need to 'convert'.

It's very closely similar to what happened to Liturgy: the Council Fathers thought that in Sacrosanctum Concilium they were mandating a modest revision which would leave Latin substantially in place ... and so on. But in less than a decade, change had vastly outstripped the texts which the Fathers had actually subscribed. And, gradually, people were led to think that the Council had ordered a totally vernacular Liturgy; had prescribed the well-nigh universal reordering of sanctuaries ... and all the rest.  

Nostra aetate  had a very similar fate. The Fathers thought they were roundly condemning anti-Jewish persecution and prejudice. They thought they were doing what little they could to atone for the Shoah. Disgust at what had happened less than two decades earlier led them to speak strongly against the obscene horror which had befouled the face of Europe and about defects in Christian culture which may have contributed to it. But they did not establish, and did not intend (indeed, there is no evidence that they even considered this) to establish, the Two Covenant Error. Yet within a few decades people were being told that the Council had outlawed 'supersessionism'.

Just as there are millions who have never read a page of Sacrosanctum Concilium but are quite sure that it ordered the liturgical ruptures and abuses which in fact ensued, so there are very many who have never opened Nostra aetate but have been lied to about what it contains.

And where did we go wrong?

I don't mean ... two things. Firstly, I don't mean that we should particularly target Jewish communities in our 'mission'. I have never stood outside a synagogue dishing out leaflets. Nor, for that matter, outside a mosque or a Methodist Church or a Mormon centre. Like most clergy, I have always felt that there were enough people around who technically belonged to my Church but were either totally lapsed or had only very light observance. And then, good heavens, there are the multitudes that are not even technically anything. There are only twenty four hours in the day ... and I think I would even feel a trifle uneasy about the deep-down attitudes of people who had a great obsessive thing about Converting Jews and did little about converting anybody else. There is such a nastiness as Anti-Judaism (I prefer to avoid the vague term Anti-Semitism, because, after all, Arabs, too, are Semites). But, when all is said  and done, the Gospel Call to Faith in Christ is for all men and women and that includes Jews. Always and everywhere and despite whatever. There is no Alternative Covenant for anybody; nothing but the Covenant which is in the Blood of Christ.

Secondly, I also do not believe that, unless particular urgent needs make it essential, we should preach or teach against other faiths. My view is that we have failed adequately to teach our own faith.

 One, big, example.

Typology. Exodus the Type, Baptism the Antitype. And so on. All that. Typology is what makes clear that the Old Divine Dispensation has been superseded by the work of Christ. Typology permeates the the Scriptures and the Fathers. It is the Christian hermeneutic for reading the Old Testament. With it, pretty well everything points to Christ; or is a type of something in the Christian life. It is because most laypeople (and clergy?) are unaware or only nominally aware of this that the usually unspoken problem they have is: What is the point of reading the Old Testament? Why do we have all those dreary and irrelevant psalms? And then there is the Easter Vigil: without an understanding of Typology, it is meaningless mumbo-jumbo. The Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore, indeed. Poor Egyptians. What a nasty God. And what a long time ago. Why on earth am I sitting here listening to all this?

I don't think I've ever heard anybody, apart from myself, work this subject into a sermon. I try to introduce people to it myself, especially when I am invited to give Retreats or Conferences or Lent Courses. But ... well, let me put it like this. I was sitting in Allen Hall in one of the "formation" sessions awaiting a lecture entitled something like the Catholic Approach to Scripture. I did not have much expectation of anything other than an hour of 1960s tedium. But then Fr John Hemer came in and explained, lucidly and brilliantly ... that the Catholic Approach to Scripture is Typology! What a sense of liberation I felt ... gosh, I thought, I'm not, after all, the only one ...

To be fair: Cardinal Danielou did Typology in The Bible and the Liturgy 1956.

And Byzantium does a good line on Typology: if you don't use it already, why not pray the Akathist Hymn? But perhaps we Anglicans In Full Communion With Peter could have a particular role to play here. We had John Mason Neale, who filled the windows of his large Convent Chapel with typology ... Lionel Thornton, a Mirfield Father and a notable typologist ... Austin Farrer ... and, deep in the archives of Pusey House, lie the manuscript lectures on Typology of our own great Dr Pusey quo maior vix ullus.

Pusey ... If the Ordinariates have any purpose at all beyond mere survival, it must surely be to bring Pusey along with us as a big part of our luggage, as a particular treasure of our Anglican Patrimony, as a gift of incalculable value to the Universal Church. May he, before the Throne of Grace, intercede for us his children in the Ordinariates.

Oh, and by the way, in addition to the rest of his polymathy, he was Professor of Hebrew in this University.

17 August 2019

Priestly Formation

Back in the happy days when the Church of England still existed in more than name, she was famed for the intellectual quality of her clergy. Nowadays her degenerate successor organisation trains its ministers largely at non-residential regional Ministerial Training Courses, run jointly with the Methodists ... I remember a day when Bishop John Richards and I had met one of these gentry and 'JR' had some things to say about his total ignorance of Scripture and, indeed, of anything.

In the old days, much seminary training went on in theological colleges. Those Theological Colleges were largely one of the fruits of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England (Chichester was founded by Charles Marriott). In the spirit of the Counter-Reformation Tridentine reforms, first adumbrated, as Eamon Duffy pointed out, by Reginal Cardinal Pole, they were very often founded in cathedral closes ... Chichester or Wells or Salisbury or Lincoln ... not simply so that the seminarians could benefit from the influence and teaching of erudite canons residentiary, but so that they might be part of the episcopal familia. They remind me of Archbishop Michael Ramsay's admirable definition of classical Anglican Theology as Divinity done within the sound of church bells. Their closure (do chickens come before eggs?) betokened the collapse of that classical Anglicanism which it is the duty of the Ordinariates to recover and to repatriate into Catholic Unity.

It would be wonderful if our Catholic Bishops, or some of them, were to rebegin clerical formation within their own households. (Possibly Bishop Mark Davies is heading in this direction with his Mater Sacerdotum House.) How such a reform would rejoice the priestly hearts of Cardinal Reginald Pole and S Charles Borromeo! This could help in the long labour of rebuilding a clerical culture in accordance with the mind and legislation of the Church. I am thinking here not least of Veterum Sapientia (S John XXIII) and of the provisions of canon 249.


The celebrated Schola Sainte-Cecile will be in Oxford for the first part of next week.

Monday August 19: 6.30: Vespers and Benediction, the Oratory.

Tuesday August 20: 9.30 am: Solemn Mass in Balliol Chapel.

Wednesday August 21: 11.00 Solemn Mass, the Oratory.
                                            6.30: Sarum Rite Vespers, in Balliol Chapel.

Lucky Oxford!

16 August 2019

Masterful Me ...

Returning to contact with the World, I have done my best to deal with comments and emails.

And I have capriciously decided not to enable two additional categories of comment:
1. Comments including the grammatical error "We must respect he who is the King of Tonga". We do not, in English, say "we must respect he [nominative]"; we say "We must respect him [accusative]". A curious idea seems to be growing up that whenever the relative pronoun "who" is used, it has to be preceded by a nominative. It most certainly doesn't. This is the same sort of error as using the nominative for the second of two linked names: "He spoke to Theodore and I". We do not in English say "He spoke to I"; we say "He spoke to me". So: "He spoke to Theodore and me".

I once heard a colleague refer to "Paul and I's study".

A less spectacularly horrible usage which is getting common is to make genitive only the second of two linked names. "Michael and Anne's house" is, surely, as illogical as it is imprecise. It would imply that we were talking about two objects: (1) Michael; and (2) Anne's house. If we are talking about a house which belongs to both Michael and Anne, the logical form surely is "Michael's and Anne's house".

The correct thing for that colleague (who, incidentally, was a Wykehamist, heaven help us) to have said would have been: "Paul's and my study".

2. Comments in a language which I do not understand or imperfectly understand. The reason for this is, I think, obvious.

So there. Dixi.

15 August 2019

Sol in Virgo [sic]

Medieval calendars quite often inform us that the Sun is in the constellation Virgo on August 15. I wonder if it has ever been suggested that this astronomical fact has anything to do with the selection of that day to celebrate our Lady's Assumption.

Which Collect is preferable on August 15? Certainly not an Anglican one: they all seem rather sad examples of modern Anglican collect writing: a couple of wordy banalities shoved together, and all the time a sense that the writer is looking over his shoulder fearing that he might be deemed too "extreme". The Pius XII composition is preferable ... but I'm not over-enthusiastic about it quite simply because the older collects it replaced are, in my view, extremely fine.

Veneranda nobis Domine huius est diei festivitas, in qua Sancta Dei Genetrix mortem subiit temporalem, nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit quae filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se genuit incarnatum.

Famulorum tuorum, quaesumus, Domine, delictis ignoxsce: ut, qui tibi placere de actibus nostris non valemus; Genetricis Filii tui Domini nostri intercessione salvemur.

I don't see how anybody whose affections are excited by the old collect Veneranda, and by the teaching of S John Damascene, and the explicitness of the Byzantine Liturgy about the glorification of Mary's wholeness, can dislike the Pius XII collect for doctrinal reasons. But minimally conceived 'doctrine' does not exhaust the content of 'Tradition'.

My own hesitations about features the 1950 definition relate not to what it said, to which I of course very cheerfully subscribe ex animo, but (1) to what, by not saying, it appeared to imply could be forgotten - such as the edifying common legends which informed piety and art in East and West for centuries and about which Blessed John Henry Newman spoke so sympathetically; and (2) to the fact of our Lady's mediation of all graces. This was clearer in the older traditions of East and West, but in the West has more recently been overshadowed by preoccupation with the idea, true in itself, that the Assumption is the logical consequence of her preservation from all sin.

Mary, in History, mediated all graces to humankind by giving birth to the Redeemer; her Assumption means that what she was in History she is ontologically and for all eternity. In her, function and ontology are fused into one.

I would feel more cheerful about the 1951 liturgical texts if they could be supplemented by a definition of our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces. It could be phrased in the elegant Greek with which S Gregory Palamas explained this truth! Pius XII, for all his Marian devotion, seems to have been lukewarm towards the concept of our Lady's Universal Mediation.

13 August 2019

Thumbs and tongues

I shall get slammed for this piece of sexual stereotyping ... but I have to express my conviction that the ceaseless use of little plastic machines held in the left hand is commoner among young women than it is among young - or older - men. It is ... have I got this right? ... called Texting, and involves the agile flickering of the thumb of the left hand in order mysteriously to communicate with distant other young women. It appears to imply an unwillingness to have communications severed, even for an hour, even for a minute, even for the blinking of an eye, by mere distance.

Long before these funny little machines were invented, I at the age of about six was aware that the little girls at my Primary School simply could not stop gossiping with each other. Except when compelled to be silent in class, they were endlessly engaged in huddling together in corners whispering their perfervid confidences to each other. Sometimes they became noisy and shouted (just as girls now sometimes talk loudly on mobile 'phones), but the intimacy of the corner, filled with murmuring and giggles, seemed preferred. Mark Studdart in That Hideous Strength felt, as a small boy, so terribly excluded by the whispered intimacies his sister Myrtle shared with the little girl next door. Is Texting simply the ultimate, the technological validation, of this urgent biological necessity among young girls? Should we relate it to the different linguistic functions of the two sexes as the men crawl around silently in distant fields doing the Hunter Gatherer stuff, while the women endlessly Cement Relationships back in the Cave?

Girls can, as I have just said, still be noisy. The previous house we occupied in Oxford was on the bus route which conveyed the trainee school-teachers of Brookes University from one campus to another (they seemed almost all to be female). Those large double-deckers were capsules of din as fifty or sixty young women endlessly and ferociously exchanged information. You will remember that the maidservants in Odysseus' home on Ithaca tended to be heard phthongo eperkhomenai ... . But confidences seem to be even more attractive than din. I have just had a sudden vision of the Fornicating Maidservants in the Odyssey, after being led out (end of book 22) by Telemachus to be hanged, stretching their necks forward into the nooses while their thumbs still flickered on their texting machines minuntha per, ou ti mala den.

S Ambrose was critical of girls who were accustomed circumcursare per alienas aedes ... demorari in plateis ... in publico miscere sermones .... Is the Texting Machine the Omega Point to which a girl-culture of the unbroken exchange of unmemorable secrets has, through all the millennia of human history, been deplorably pointing?

12 August 2019


Now that Mr Trump has proclaimed the final defeat of ISIS, this may at last be a safe moment to reveal that I am, myself, the Founder of Isis*.

It happened in a modestly Anglo-Catholic establishment on the South Downs, called Lancing College. In 1973, newly appointed, I founded a Society which gave members the opportunity to get off the campus and attend meetings in my house and to go on expeditions which did not exclude hostelries (nowadays, organising such society activities would be an instantly sackable offence). Quite why we chose Isis as our Patron, I cannot now remember; but we had nice ties manufactured bearing the hieroglyph of Her of the Throne. I still have one somewhere. You had better not tell the CIA.

In the first centuries of the Christian era, Isiacism was a very attractive syncretistic religion. It denied the validity of no other religion; it conceded that the same Deity was behind all the divine names in all the cults. Isis was the preferred name (and her mysteria  the most satisfying); but in no exclusive way. Like PF, they believed that plurality of religions was part of the Divine Will. I have often wondered why those relativistic Christians who take an analogously syncretistic stand because all religion is at root the same, do not have courage of their convictions and rebrand themselves as Isiacs. It would be a particularly attractive cult for those of them who, by an unfortunate accident, have like poor dear Apuleius got themselves metamorphosed into donkeys with oversized membra virilia.

Moreover, if only the Right Side had been victorious at Actium, Isis might have had a great literary future. After all, Cleopatra VII, the philopateira Thea, was also the Nea Isis. Would Vergil, instead of writing that rather tortured aetiological epic about the Ira Iunonis, Venus Genetrix, Pallas puer, and Pius Aeneas, have poured all his heart and genius into an Isiad, which would have climaxed, not in the vengeful killing of Turnus paidophonos, but in the divinely glorious Nuptials and exquisite couplings of Isis Epiphanes with her Neos Bakkhos? Er ... perhaps not ... I admit that you are right. He probably wouldn't. No scope there for his libido pronior in pueros. But somebody else might have done it. Publius Ovidius Nosey, for example.

Since an excitingly Hellenistic Romano-Alexandrian Empire would have had a much more Eastwards bias than the boring old Roman Empire did, the Name of Isis would have been Great in the Orient, two thousand years earlier than today.
*To make Isiacs feel at home in Oxford, we have renamed our bit of the Thames after the Goddess, and divided our other river, the Cherwell, into two parallel streams so that we can call the bit in between them Mesopotamia.

11 August 2019

Talking Oxford (2)

At the 2014 Encaenia, the then Public Orator, Mr Richard Jenkyns felicissimae memoriae of LMH, had used a phrase which one of his hearers ... none other than the then Vice-Chancellor himself, a poor silly Professor A D Hamilton ... had disliked so much that he cherished it, for four months, in a Resentful Bosom. When he came to make his own Oration in October at the start of the 2014/2015 academic year, Hamilton, speaking in English, had this to say:
"I want to reflect with you on the public value of Oxford; the benefit that flows to others from who we are, what we do, and how we do it. And if, in the course of these reflections, I manage to say something of wider interest and relevance about the special importance and value of higher education in the world of the twenty-first century, well, then I shall consider I have not entirely wasted my time or, more importantly, yours."

Oh dear. Not a word of this is Talking Oxford, is it? How terribly portentous and consequential! How full of a Politically Correct sense that we must demonstrate the vast amount of good we do to others! Might it even contain 'virtue signalling'? Do you feel the adjective "pompous" struggling to make itself heard in your mind? Not a touch here of that quick and allusive levity, that faux self-deprecation behind which Oxonians lightly conceal our feeling that we are so obviously unique that we don't even need to remember that fact, still less to be so unspeakably vulgar as to assert it. Even worse, observe the implication that Oxford is relevant. Nemo qui mammas almae huius Universitatis ipse suxisset haec vel talia unquam proferre potuisset! Quid de apicibus somniantibus? Quid de rebus desperatis? 

This sad (and now happily long departed) Hamilton was not a man who, in those formative youthful years, was woken daily by his College Servant bringing him hot water and the information "Good morning sir, quarter to eight sir, blizzard in the night sir, three cars crashed on the ice coming down Headington Hill, eleven people killed sir, will there be anything else, sir?" vel similia. You see, Talking Cambridge is a class dialect designed to condescend and to insult those marked out by the speaker as social inferiors. But Talking Oxford is a style of processing and assimilating reality, of cutting mere facticity down to size, a style which in my undergraduate days owed as much (at least in the men's colleges) to our beloved and respected College Servants as to dons or undergraduates.

Let us resume our reading of poor daft Hamilton's embarrassing Oration.
"It was our celebrated Public Orator, Richard Jenkyns, at Encaenia [2014] who stated in the course of a typically mordant review of the worldly achievements of Oxford alumni, I quote: 'Life - always our most dangerous competitor.' He captures neatly that too familiar perception of the academic world having little if anything to do with life, certainly life as it is lived; life with a capital L.

"Well, this morning I want to try not just to take issue with that perception by illustrating some of the ways in which it is woefully wide of the mark, but to go further and even to argue that life as it is lived - still with that capital L ..." and blah blah blah for several pages more. Dinosaurs competed for mention with budgerigars. Honest! Heaven help us.

10 August 2019

Talking Oxford (1)

Cambridge men and women, vulgo "Tabs", are, in my experience, without exception (well, 'spiritually', as Rex Mottram would say), Old Etonians with aunties and uncles high up in the KGB, who speak with a leisurely, languorous and protracted drawl which rarely seems to approach a conclusion. It expresses their contemptuous sense of superiority to the rest of the world ... "You dear little people, you have nothing better to do with your poor little lives than to listen to me". It has been suggested that Oxonians feel no need to prove any such thesis and and that we more characteristically speak faster and then pause for breath in mid-sentence so that, when we do get to the end of the sentence, we can immediately leap into the next sentence without giving any opportunity to a polite interlocutor to ... er ... er ... interlocute (stet haec sententia pro exemplo). I think this is right; but there is more to "talking Oxford" than just that one particular (very serviceable) device.

At this point you need to know that, since about 2004, the role of Vice-Chancellor in this University has radically changed. Previously, the VC was himself an Oxford product, commissioned, so to speak, from the Lower Deck. But since then we have had members of the new international elite of super-administrators, Staff College products who have never drunk from the Isis, who can (and do) cheerfully flit from running Yale to running Oxford; from running Oxford to running NYU. Let us not go into the question of any financial aspects there may be to these arrangements (neat example of a Ciceronian praeteritio, yes?). What this sociological change means is that a modern Vice-Chancellor does not now speak, or even understand, Oxford's own idiolect (forgive the dittography). He ... or she ... has, quite simply, not been suckled at the correct breasts. Ergo, a deep gap in communication ... C S Lewis's phrase a phatic hiatus will have sprung to your minds. Exactly. Gottit.

More later.

9 August 2019


"[Like Balaam who] wished to curse but opened his mouth with blessings, so a pope may all his life be in error, but if he attempts to put it forth, he will be cut off, or be deterred, or find himself saying what he did not mean to say".

8 August 2019

"porne ps*l*ph*ge!!"; only for Classicists.

The Golden-Mouthed  had his tetchy moments, like PG 59.28 "You there, Sir! [i.e. the verbs are singular] You stand listening to S John and through him learning the things of the Spirit, and after that you go off to listen to prostitute women talking dirty and behaving dirtier and to perverts (malakon) who get beaten and beat each other". It seems probable that Chrysostom is here referring to mimes of considerable vulgarity. A couple of sides of just one such mime appeared in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol. LXXIX, 2014, and they are full of very low-class slapstick and obscenity

I think the papyrological industry must be literally (ut ita dicam) motoring through those old tea boxes in the cellars of Ashmole, because this mime fragment is numbered P Oxy 5189 ... it seems like only yesterday when the numbering was in the 2000s. I recall a seminar ... I think it was in 2014 ... on the new discovery, set in motion by Peter Parsons, whose quick-fire witticisms flow as easily as ever they did in his greener youth (he started off by observing "Frankly, Greek Mime is no laughing matter ..."). There appears to be a stock character in this mime, the akairos who falls over anything that can be fallen over; and there are pornai and malakoi more or less wall-to-wall. Much of the humour seems to be at the level of abusing and thumping people for cooking badly. In fact, so much thumping goes on that we have a newish word kossos/kossizomai for it; it seems to mean swiping someone with an open hand, which Professor Parsons illustrated with a number of cartoon pictures. (Hooray for Desperate Dan! But he could also have drawn upon William George Bunter.) The term, apparently, has to be distinguished from kolaphos, for which Edith Hall suggested the translation 'knuckle sandwich'. kossos is so common in the Papyrus that it even (like the nomina sacra in Biblical mss) has its own abbreviation: kappa with a little omicron tucked between its two uprights. It is not completely new; it's in Suidas and in some Byzantine hagiographical (!!) authors such as Leontios (yes, the Papyrus is sixth century).

Discussion meandered through questions like the amount of rehearsing you have to do to get slapstick right, and the politically incorrect violence of Punch and Judy. Stephanie West suggested that mimes might have been hired for symposia; which would throw a new light on how Plato spent his evenings. A sort of mid-Byzantine equivalent of Strickly. I kept prudently quiet about my own theory that the fragment was a discarded early draft by Cardinal Baldissieri for the Amazonian Synod.

Somebody suggested a new aphorism, A slap a day keeps the slave in play. One of the main advantages of the Classics is that it keeps you politically incorrect.

7 August 2019

MANIPLES: the Finer Points

Moi, I am a pedant. I take my maniple off before saying the Leonine Prayers at the foot of the Altar. According to O'Connell, this is the strictly logical thing to do ... but it is, he says, commonly ignored.

It is the strictly logical thing to do because only the maniple is worn only during Mass. The Chasuble might sometimes be worn in extra-liturgical ceremonies ... but never the maniple. I remember that when Paul VI made the maniple optional, there was a most irate article in one of the old-style Anglican Papalist periodicals which still then survived ... it might have been the dear old Pilot ... in which some lovely ancient priest pointed out that, since the maniple is the vestment which par excellence is worn during Mass, the new rule meant, technically, that most clergy would now be saying Mass unvested.

One of the last of the old generation of Anglican Papalist priests, Fr Clive Beresford, followed such rules to the letter. Back in the early 1960s, in churches where the 'Western Rite' was followed, it was quite common, especially on Sundays, for some little bits of Cranmer to pop their heads above the parapet. For example, after the Secret, Dr Cranmer's Prayer for the Church Militant might be interpolated; after the Postcommunion, his Prayer of Thanksgiving After Communion. When pastoral necessity compelled Fr Beresford unwillingly to incorporate these dodgy Zwingligenous additamenta, he always took his maniple off before doing so.

We Anglican Catholics were a very principled people.

Too rarified to be allowed to survive, I hear you say ...

6 August 2019

Mr and Mrs Markel

The other day, it was revealed that the UK birth-rate, already well below replacement levels, had plummetted still further. The following day, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that their family would not exceed two.

Bad luck for somebody if they conceived twins (or ...).

Her admirers will be relieved to know that the Duchess's reproductive processes will not be subjected to the strain of giving birth to somebody whose future labours and taxes might help to sustain financially the upper end of a top-heavy demographic.

And since the most fertile portions of our population are Islamic, nobody could accuse the Sussexes of anti-Islamic plotting to deny our Islamic population its probable eventual numerical superiority.

So what's not to like?

5 August 2019

Again ...

... I am taking time off from keeping up to date with the world! For about a fortnight, I will not be reading Comments (or emails); but, after that, I shall try to catch up.

As ever, I hope to post something every day.

Urban Myths and the Amazon Synod

Any English reader will be able to name a village ... some village, somewhere ... in which property prices are well above the incomes of that same rural peasantry which occupied the properties in yesteryear. Because these properties have been bought up as retirement homes, or holiday homes, by the upper middle classes. When a man has spent his working life in a city office, commuting daily from a dormitory suburb by means of a transport system bursting at the seams, his retirement fantasy is a (carefully renovated) country cottage, with hollyhocks crowding suggestively around the door.

An idealised and imagined rural idyll is a direct product of, and reaction to, Urbanisation.

It was ever thus. Theocritus initiated a tradition of European 'Pastoral Poetry' as he read in the great Library at Alexandria, one of the megalopoleis of the ancient world. While he sought the lucrative favour of Ptolemy II, he imagined a world of rural simplicity in which shepherds or cowherds held poetic competitions while their complaisant flocks or herds nibbled beautifully but unobtrusively. In this genre, the main problem was that shepherdesses often had tangled hair; but that mattered little as long as the shepherd could imagine himself exquisitely caught within her tangles. Vergil may have been libidinis in pueros pronioris, but, in the world of his Eclogues, a shepherdess or two running provocatively to hide behind the willow trees never came amiss. And that same Vergil, city educated, was among the court propagandists jockying for position and rewards in the cut-throat culture of newly 'imperial' Rome. Wall-paintings recovered at Pompei remind us that such mythical landscapes came right into the living quarters of the urban elite.

Already Horace (Epode II) had seen through this Urban Myth; but I doubt whether Marie Antoinette and her ladies read the Epodes as they tended their lambs at the Petit Trianon.

Trianon-time is back with a vengeance. The Pastoralist Community had never been quite sure where their 'True Countryside' was to be found; they just knew it had to be far distant from the tower-blocks and the filthy crowded streets of the metropolis. Might it be in Arcadia? Sicily? Shropshire? Versailles? ... but now the secret is out! Amazonia!! Amaryllis of the tangled hair, clutching her milking-stool, has decamped to the Amazon! At long last, Jorge I'm-the-Magisterium Bergoglio and his 'Spirit'-filled entourage have pinned it down! Amazonia is where the most mega-Trianon of all time is waiting to be built! Amazonia is where Rousseau's Savage really is still authentically Noble, happily unencumbered with either the felix culpa or the talis et tantus Redemptor!

Go there (by rowing boat, of course; little Swedish Greta Wozname will crew for you). Take your camera and get shots of Kasper herding his heiffers and of Marx playing with his syrinx. Your own face could even appear in a selfie together with Hans Kueng being pelted with apples by lascivious (but guaranteed indigenous) nymphs!

As Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has observed, "It is certainly beautiful to be beside by the Rhine and to dream of the Amazon"! How often that irritating man does get things exactly right!! No wonder he had to be sacked!!! What a good job PF has done in shutting him up!!!!

4 August 2019

clap trap

When I was a simple curate in my (Anglican) Title Parish, I did my best to explain the Faith as lucidly and as vividly as I could. One Sunday, along came a visiting preacher, who made a great Thing about he called the Hic Et Nunc. And ... gracious me ... how impressed so many of the people were simply by his use of a Latin tag. It taught me one of the valuable lessons we all learn early in our Ministry: that very many of the laity are extremely gullible and terribly easily impressed ... particularly by charlatans who prey upon that gullibility.

The hyperbergolianistical Instrumentum laboris issued to guide the Fathers of the Amazonian Synod has been beautifully dissected by Cardinal Mueller. At the LMS Latin Summer School last week, somebody asked me what I thought of the Amazonian Synod. I wish I had just replied "Exactly what Cardinal Mueller has said". He beautifully demonstrates the pompous redundancy and repetitiousness of this fatuous document, pointing out that if all the repetitions were eliminated, it would probabably be less than half its length. His destruction job reminds me of the elegant pamphlets, Church Literature Association, which the late Professor Eric Mascal used to write after painful events such as the publication of the Encyclicals and Resolutions of the Anglican Lambeth Conferences. Trained as a Mathematician and then as a Thomist, Mascall used his icy and razor-sharp analytical mind to expose the pompous and silly twaddle that, in such documents, passed as Theology.

Mueller cites the following from the Instrumentum laboris: "Furthermore, we can say that the Amazon ... or another indigenous or communal territory ... is not only an ubi ... but aso a quid ... thus territory is a theological place where faith is lived and also a particular source of God's revelation: epiphanic places where blah blah blah "(I hope Fr Zed will forgive my appropriation of his convenient formula).

Need I say more? So I won't. Not least because His Eminence has already clobbered all this crass and evil verbiage far better than I could.

3 August 2019

Kasper and his not-so-Noble Savages

The Bergoglianist apparent belief that a Neo-Eden inhabited by Noble Savages exists in the Amazonian Basin may perhaps remind us that people of this general theological orientataion have not always been so open to the intuitions of non-Europeans in a 'Third' World.  What about Kasper and his views concerning African intuitions?

Readers will remember the theological debate between Cardinals Ratzinger and Kasper about which comes logically first: the Universal Church or the local, i.e. particular, Churches.

This may seem to Plain Men and Plain Women like us a sort of arid 'theological' debate like the (alleged) debate about Angels and Points of Needles, involving fancy word games and with little relevance to our plain everyday lives. But that is not so. Followers of the Kasper line, in which the particular Church comes first, are now using that belief to justify their conviction that particular Churches, embedded in their different cultures, might adopt different doctrines and disciplines with regard to marriage and sexuality.

That is what lies behind the interview (which Kasper later, mendaciously, denied had ever happened, until Ed Pentin produced the tapes) in which Kasper talked sneeringly about African Catholics and said that "They should not tell us too much what we have to do". He admitted that "in the end there must be ... general criteria", but emphasised that "There must be space also for the local bishops' conferences to solve their problems". Memories for us of a Lambeth Conference at which an American 'episcopalian' bishop was heard to remark "Some of these Africans will do anything for a chicken". REMEMBER that we ex-Anglicans have seen it all. If you want to know what is scheduled by the Enemy to happen next in the Catholic Church, ask your Ordinariate friends.

The truth is that the the Universal Church comes first. It comes first in time because it begins as the One Apostolic Church gathered from all nations into one in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost; it comes first theologically because it is the Mystical Body of Christ Himself, which must be ontologically [in the order of being] prior to the various gatherings of Christians (incorporated by Baptism into Him) which we call ecclesiae.

This has enormous practical consequences with regard to whether the German bishops, or others, can be allowed to go their own ways (unrestrained by the Universal Church) with regard to things like the treatment of remarried divorcees and of those living in genital homosexual relationships.

In 1992, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published, over Joseph Ratzinger's signature, a very fine document Communionis notio, approved by S John Paul II and ordered by him to be published. (I would remind readers that 'particular Church' in this and other similar texts refers to what we might call a diocese: the People, Deacons, Presbyters gathered round their Bishop.)

An extract follows.

" ... the particular Churches, insofar as they are 'part of the one Church of Christ,' have a special relationship of 'mutual interiority' with the whole, that is, with the universal Church, because in every particular Church 'the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active'. For this reason, 'the universal Church cannot be conceived as the sum of the particular Churches, or as a federation of particular Churches'. It is not the result of the communion of the Churches, but, in its essential mystery, it is a reality ontologically and temporally prior to every individual particular Church. Indeed, according to the Fathers, ontologically, the Church-mystery, the Church that is one and unique, precedes creation, and gives birth to the particular Churches as her daughters. She expresses herself in them; she is the mother and not the offspring of the particular Churches. Furthermore, the Church is manifested, temporally, on the day of Pentecost in the community of the one hundred and twenty gathered around Mary and the twelve apostles, the representatives of the one unique Church and founders-to-be of the local churches, who have a mission directed to the world. From the beginning the Church speaks all languages. 

"From the Church, which in its origins and its first manifestation is universal, have arisen the different local Churches, as particular expressions of the one unique Church of Jesus Christ. Arising within and out of the universal Church, they have their ecclesiality in her and from her. Hence the formula of the Second Vatican Council: The Church in and formed out of the Churches (Ecclesia in et ex Ecclesiis), is inseparable from this other formula: The Churches in and formed out of the Church (Ecclesiae in et ex Ecclesia*)."
*Translation based on the Libreria Editrice Vaticana translation. I have corrected two printers' errors in the last parenthesis. There are also two typographical errors in the references given in the appended footnotes.

2 August 2019

An unobserved Anniversay for CORNWALL

On this day*, in 1595, the forces of our late Sovereign Liege Lord King Philip, commanded by Carlo de Amesquita, landed in Cornwall in the area of Penzance and harried the neighbourhood. They burned a number of churches defiled by dissident worship, but left unburned the chapel of S Mary in Penzance. They did this because an English Catholic captain, Richard Burley of Weymouth, who was guiding them, informed them that it had been used for Catholic worship. Since the same could be said for the other churches which were burned, in as far as they were medieval churches used for Catholic worship before the Schism, the captain presumably meant that the chapel in Penzance was still being used for Catholic worship. This would fit in with a body of evidence for continuing Recusant activities in Cornwall until quite late in the reign of Bloody Bess.

At Paul the church was burned; and an interesting detail survives. The Spaniards, devout and exemplary Catholics, were horrified to discover an idol in Paul church: a wooden horse. The realisation that Protestants were even more abandoned to error than they had suspected ... that they actually sacrificed to horrible hippomorphic heathen deities ... increased their pious wrath and they made a special point of burning it. (I have a theory here: that what they found may have been preserved from the early Middle Ages when, in many places, a wooden donkey gave dramatic verisimilitude to the Palm Sunday Procession.)

Then, on August 3 or 4*, Mass was solemnly sung  on a hilltop near Paul, and the Commander of the expedition before sailing away vowed that when the Faith had been restored to England, a chapel would be built there ex voto.

*Well, they landed on August 2 Old Style. Of course, this was July 23 New Style. So if it was August 4 Old Style when the Spaniards celebrated their hilltop Mass before departing, that would have been July 25 New Style, the Feast of S James, a not insignificant day. See my post for July 25.

1 August 2019

Liberation Theology (2)

(The continuation of the piece which was begun on May Day.)
Briefly, I will single out just one or two of the differences between the '1984' and the '1986' documents. Liberation Theology made much of the concept of institutionalised Sin. Sin, many Liberationists argued, should not be seen as an individual delict committed by an individual, but something embedded in the structures of societies; particularly in those of exploitative capitalist societies. Against this view, '1984' argued that the war against Sin was primarily to be found in the internal conversion of the individual. But '1986' saw the work for internal conversions and the improvement of structures as simultaneous. And, two years later in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, S John Paul wrote: "The principal obstacle to be overcome on the way to authentic liberation is Sin and the structures produced by Sin as it multiplies and spreads".

'1984' deplored any use of Marxist analysis; '1986' did not repeat this grumble. Indeed, some of the writings of the early Marx (Grundrisse) about Alienation and Reification might arguably be illuminating to a Catholic thinker; and some of the anthropological writings of Guevara on the New (Socialist) Man would bear interesting comparison with S Paul's anthropology if Guevara's views were not so sadly limited (I might go so far as to say vitiated) by his simplistic unawareness of the existence and nature of Original Sin.

'1986' actually used the controversial phrase "Option for the Poor"; because the man who affirms poverty is worth more for what he is than for what he has; so that the Option "excludes nobody". And S John Paul II used the phrase with approval in his Redemptoris Mater of 1987.

Marxist ethics notoriously have their roots in the dogma of the Primacy of Praxis. This found expression among the Comunidades de base of Latin America, often led by their revolutionary clergy. There had therefore been natural suspicion in the Church of these Base Communities, arising from their behaviour and the writings of some of their proponents; but '1986' actually favoured them as long as they did not "go beyond" Christ and His Church.

The Church, the World, and Latin America, have come a long way since the 1980s. But it is still, I understand, true that the gap between rich and poor in many places has widened rather than narrowed. Plutocratic self-interest still uses its wealth to attempt to bully 'Third World' countries into enforcing abortion and contraception, on the wholly mendacious grounds that the planet cannot sustain a growing population. We abort a large percentage of our own population and then wonder, firstly, why there seems to be a strange vacuum in our labour market which attracts foreigners to come and fill it; and, secondly, how an aging population profile can possibly be supported by a diminishing working population. Some 'Green' movements seem to me to inherit the ideologies of the Nazi, American, and Scandinavian 'Eugenics' and 'Racial Hygiene' movements of the 1930s; the  racism is now covert rather than overt but the leopard's spots have in fact changed very little: the cry is still essentially that Subhumans Breed Too Much. And still we find it easier to try to work out how to stop them getting to Lampedousa than to take much interest in the structural causes of demographic instability.

Is there not a vacuum here for the Teaching Authority of the Church to re-enter; in which to establish a new bridgehead? Ecclesiastical teaching on global warming and rain-forests can be so simplistic. Vitally important here is the phrase 'human ecology', first used by S John Paul but memorably deployed by the august emeritus pontiff Benedict XVI: "The human being will be capable of respecting other creatures only if he keeps the full meaning of life in his own heart. Otherwise he will come to despise himself and his surroundings, and to disrespect the environment, the creation, in which he lives. For this reason, the first ecology to be defended is human ecology. This is to say, that, without a clear defence of human life from conception until natural death, without a defence of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, without an authentic defence of those excluded and marginalised by Society ... we will never be able to speak of authentic protection of the environment". Just as goodness cannot authentically come from an evil and corrupted individual heart, so authentic 'environmentalism' cannot come from an evil and corrupted human society. A Church which makes her peace with those who promote abortion and disordered sexual acts (whether heterosexual or homosexual) on the grounds that 'we may disagree about some things but we can co-operate because we find common ground with regard to the ozone layer', is a Church which has been deceived by the Evil One.

We are told that, immediately after his Election, PF had this message whispered into his ear by a close friend among the Patres purpurati, Cardinal Hummes: Do not forget the Poor. I cannot help wondering if the priorities of this Pontificate have been subverted by noisy Northern European cardinals who belabour the papal ear with demands generated among the comfortable (if sexually incontinent) Kirchensteuer (Church Tax) paying congregations who fund them.

Such people ... either the bishops or the tax-payers concerned ... are not exactly what Holy Scripture means when it talks about hoi ptokhoi toi pneumati, "the Poor in Spirit".