29 February 2020

Herr Goebbels is alive and well

From a recent Times:

"LESBIAN, gay, and bisexual people are nearly twice as likely to appear on television -- where they take 11.9% of roles -- than would be expected by their estimated 6.4% share of the national population. 

"The figures come after the head of BBC drama defended its practice of crowbarring diverse characters and plotlines into adaptations of classic novels, in an attempt to reflect the demographics of modern Britain*. Critics have accused the corporation of pushing 'woke propaganda' ...

"Older people and the disabled are the most underrepresented minority groups. Over 50s account for 20.6% of on-screen contributions but make up 31% of the workforce, while disabled people get 7.8% of on-screen jobs and 5.2% of off-screen, despite being 17 per cent of the population."

It seems to me blindingly obvious that the Enemy has successfully, brilliantly, engineered a policy, clearly devised at the very deepest levels in the Lowerarchy, of indoctrinating and corrupting an entire society. I can remember the adoption, quite long ago now, by soap scriptwriters at Eastenders and The Archers, of storylines designed to 'educate' the moral assumptions of viewers and listeners.

Or can you think of a more convincing narrative explanation?**

C S Lewis, in his Essay about Reading Old Books, wrote powerfully about the need to remember that every age has its characteristic vices and virtues, but that the vices and virtues of each particular age are different. Hence, he advised, it is important to let the robust and cleansing winds of other centuries blow through our own minds. Never read a new book, he urged, until you have read or reread a couple of old ones.

But the Enemy is endlessly resourceful. He has easily devised ways to neuter the effect of Old Books. By means of TV 'adaptations' of some Old Books, he has cunningly erected new and strong barriers against the risk that current errors might be remedied by the influence of earlier authors.

I wonder if Coronavirus will allow me to live long enough to hear of attacks being made against Englit examination boards on the grounds that they have cruelly downmarked those candidates who write their answers on the basis of culturally polluted TV 'adaptations' of (ex. gr.) Jane Austen, rather than upon the actual boring old books.

Or perhaps it has happened already?


*Notice the circularities, the skilled sleight of hand, here. First, they use their Media to indoctrinate us; then they use the success of their strategy to justifiy their continued promotion of their own social and moral landscapes.
**Recently, some cispontine TV 'personality' (Philip Schofield ... I had never heard of him ...) made himself into a national Meejah superhero overnight by apparently revealing his inclination towards acts intrinsically disordered (actus  ... suapte intrinseca natura ... inordinatos: Catechism of the Catholic Church para 2357). For 36 hours, our screens were full of dim luvvies and 'diverse' weirdoes shedding buckets full of tears at the sheer, moving, splendour and wonder of it all.

28 February 2020

Is it God's judgment?

A"Call [plague] Heaven's judgment for sin, and all you can do is to sit down under it."

B"But surely, we are expressly warned in Scripture against calling things judgments for sin. How about those eight on whom the Tower of Siloam fell?"
C"If it was anybody's sin, it was probably the carelessness of the people who built the tower."

D"And that's usually a sin that finds someone out. Unfortunately, the sinner isn't always the victim,"

A"Why should it be? Nature does not work by a scheme of poetical justice."

C"Nor does God. We suffer for one another, as, indeed, we must, being all members one of another. Can you separate the child from the father, the man from the brute, or even the man from the vegetable cell, [A]?"

Dorothy Sayers, The Documents in the Case, 1930.

Symposiast A: a biologist interested in genetics; B: a priest; C: another priest; D: a chemist.; 

27 February 2020

Bible Sunday! How S Paul would have approved!

The Gospel reading of which I wrote*** in this January post is also the Gospel for today in the Old Missal.

 Yes; we used to have 'Bible Sunday' in the C of E, on Advent II, because of the opening of the Epistle reading for that day (in the Tridentine Rite and the Book of Common Prayer). Now we are to have Bible Sunday in the Catholic Church on Epiphany III ... or, in Bitcoincurrency, The Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (how grand that sounds!). And a Year of the Bible!

And this commemoration comes along near Holocaust Memnorial Day.

I think that day is a splendid one to select. ***In the old rite it offers us the fascinating passage S Matthew 8: 1-13. This ends with the Lord remarking that the Centurion whose pais/puer He has just healed at a distance had a faith such as He had not found in Israel; for many will come from East and West to recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom, while the huioi/filii regni will be cast into the outer darkness; the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

This passage was expurgated from the Novus Ordo Sunday Lectionary; possibly it was felt that here was "Q-material" which would be covered elsewhere. But it is a fine passage, and I urge even those who will attend a Novus Ordo celebration to take it seriously.

What is interesting is that S Matthew's Gospel is often regarded as showing marks of use in a very Jewish-Christian context. Yet it is this Gospel which makes the very Pauline point that all depends on Faith, Pistis. The Centurion is praised not because he was a Gentile: far from it. The 'Sons of the Kingdom' were not cast out because they were Jews; far from it. For each, Faith, Pistis, or the lack of it, is the key. How fitting that this passage should be given to us to study in the same few days in which we celebrate the Conversion of S Paul! The theme is also Johannine: "He came unto his own, but his own received him not. But to those who did receive him ..."

These three writers were of caourse, all ethn.ic Jews; Jews absolutely soaked  in their Scriptutres and in the Jewish way of life.

And it needs to be remembered that it is into this Jewish inheritance that Faithful Gentiles are admitted. To them is made the wonderful offer expressed by Pope Pius XI in the phrase "We are all Spiritual Semites". We all need to become better Jews!! Above all, we must weed out the assumption that what we call 'the Old Testament' is only a sort of course of background reading for the New Testament. Remember that for the Disciples and for the Gospel Writers and those who penned the Epistles, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings were their only Scripture. They are still by far the largest part of Christian 'Scripture'.

I commend to those who desire to have reading commended
(1) Jesus of Nazareth by Joseph Ratzinger; and
(2) Lovely like Jerusalem by Aidan Nichols.

Lenten Laughter

Satire and irony are among the few weapons that the Little (and impecunious) Man has. This is what infuriated the Anglican bishops when Dom Gregory Dix used the weapons perfected by Swift and Newman and Knox as weapons against persecution. Did a bishop try to prevent Anglo-Catholics from having the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday? Dix would assure him solemnly and upon his honour that he would certainly not go to the extreme of using a disgusting Peruvian Jesuit innovation called the Three Hours Devotion (which 'moderate' bishops and clergy rather liked). He characterised Archbishop Fisher's creed as "God is nice and in him is no nastiness at all". He made clear how risible the Anglican episcopate seemed to him in 1947 when they sent a Loyal Address to George VI in which they referred to the then Princess Elizabeth with the words "We have watched her growth to ... well-developed womanhood".

He commented that "Even when the stately summer of the Carolines was over, the Whig Grandee bishops of the eighteenth century and the 'Greek Play' bishops of eighty years ago still had something for which the genial energy of a business-man in gaiters does not always quite compensate". When the paranoid preoccupation of many Anglican bishops was to prevent their clergy at all costs from practising Benediction and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Dix wrote "that even the best and most energetic of bishops will one day have rest from his labours, and the lance of his successor often delivers the diocese from the menace of some different windmill".

The Anglican bishops, poor consecrated snowflakes, couldn't take that sort of approach, and his 'tone' was much lamented. Unsurprisingly, an Evangelical opponent wrote, after his death, of his "mischievous, maverick, learned perversity" as "charming, beguiling and bewitching".

Dix had formed two generations of militant Anglo-Catholics. So it was not surprising that we used similar weapons to his when we were resisting the heteropractic innovation of Ordination of Women to Major Orders; we had a rather jolly journal called New Directions in which, under the editorship of the clever and witty Sarah Lowe, the effective weaponry of Satire and ridicule again successfully evoked criticism, from the Great and the Good, of our 'tone'.

In our experience, a good rule-of-thumb is: when people criticise your 'tone', you are almost certainly getting the important things right.

But printed journals require resources. We may not have the wherewithal to print and to publish our laughter; our ironic mockery of the trends of thought, the intellectual fashions, which dominate both the secular and ecclesial worlds. This is where the blogosphere has been a mighty liberation for the Little Man. For example: faced by The Tablet, a powerful, respected, elegant and well-resourced platform on which trendy voices are enabled to show well (advocating Women's Ordination and unsound liturgical texts and the abolition of Catholic teaching about ethical matters and all the rest of the 'liberal' package), the Little Man, in the conditions of thirty years ago, would have had no resource except to write humbly to the Tablet's Editor and hope that, to demonstrate 'balance', his letter might graciously be granted an airing. If he poked wicked fun at the editorial policy of that periodical, calling down a great gale of public laughter upon its solemn and lofty pronouncements, he might expect his letter to be spiked! But now, with manageable financial outlay, the Little Man can write a blog! Those who have 'non-mainstream' views on Liturgy or Vatican II or anything else are no longer silenced or restricted to the smudgy pages of small fanatical newsletters with slender circulations. The grip of powerful hands - whether of newspaper barons or of the Tablet trustees - on the means of communication has been dramatically loosened. People feel free. People are free.

Which is not to everybody's liking, because it brings challenge and exposure to some complacent Tyrannosauri which had been accustomed to roam through the landscape, Rexing unchecked. One priest, who for long enjoyed a regular column in the mainstream Catholic Press, handing down from on high to the hungry masses the pure nourishment of Vatican II, so disliked what a brother priest ... a blogger ... wrote about him, that he threatened to sue him (evidently I Corinthians 6:1-6 is not part of the Spirit of Vatican II).

I suggest that, from Newman's to the present day, through the decades when the satire of Ronald Knox, enlivened our reading, Satire and Irony have been the most notable charism which we from the coetibus Anglicanorum have been able humbly to offer to the life of the Catholic Church.

Dear Reader: if I were your Spritual Director, I would direct you, this Lent, to spend more time laughing at the pomposities of fashionable heretics.

26 February 2020

When does Lent start for mathematical nerds?

No problem about this in the 'New' Liturgy. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. But for obscurantist fuddy-duddies who stick with the Old Rite (and for Ambrosians), matters are far less simple.

The First Sunday in Lent is called in capite Quadragesimae. Lenten Office Hymns don't begin until First Vespers of Sunday. You stick with Pars hiemalis Breviarii Romani until then. And, as Gueranger puts it, "Although the law of Fasting began [on Ash Wednesday], yet, Lent [Careme], properly so called, does not begin till the Vespers of Saturday next. In order to distinguish the rest of Lent from these four days which have been added to it, the Church continues to chant Vespers at the usual hour, and allows her Ministers to break their fast before having said that office. But, beginning with Saturday, the Vespers will be anticipated; every day (Sundays excepted) they will be said at such an early hour that when the Faithful take their full meal, the Evening Office will be over. It is a remnant of the discipline of the primitive Church, which forbade the Faithful to break their fast before sun-set, in other words, before Vespers or Even-song".

The mathematics and history of Lent were sorted out by Canon Callewaert, of Bruges, and Dr G G 'Patrimony' Willis, Vicar of Wing. In case anybody is interested, I give a summary of the facts.

(1) Originally, the only Fast around seems to have been the very primitive Paschal Fast, on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Lent hadn't been invented.
(2) For reasons connected with the instruction of the catechumens and the discipline of penitents, a forty-day preparation for this was added to the already existing Paschal Fast. Forty days back from Maundy Thursday gets you back precisely to the First Sunday in Lent.
(3) A later age forgot the distinction between Lent and the Paschal Fast and considered them both just "Lent". It also wished to take account of the fact that, in the Roman Rite, one does not fast on Sundays. To get forty days of fast in before Easter Day, you need 6 X a week of 6 fasting days: = 36 days; + four extra days: = 40; which gets you back to .... Ash Wednesday.
(4) But the Liturgy ... at least, the Divine Office ... endearingly ... never caught up with these latest mathematics ... until the Age of Archbishop Bugnini the Great Elephant Fetichist.

Hence the anomalous status of the four days this week "After the Ashes". A whimsy, surely, in that it took a twentieth century which had pretty well given up even the memory of fasting, to add these four days to the full Lenten status.

Sometimes I wonder why ecumenical enthusiasts never lecture us on the need to follow the Byzantines and to have a real fasting Lent.

I will be fair: I can see the point of Hannibal Bugnini's abolition of the Gesimas and his elimination of the status-anomaly of the days post cineres. Taste-wise, I suppose it's ultimately a question of whether you like your Calendar neat and clean-cut with no little puzzles side-issues to worry you or to intrigue you; or whether you prefer it weirdish and interesting.

Incidentally, S Gregory the Great, taking Lent as beginning on Sunday and ending on the early morning of Easter Sunday, calculated that it consisted of 6X7=42 days; from which you subtract the unfasting Sundays (42-6=36) and then add half a day for the fasting part of Easter Sunday (=36.5 days): which is a tithe of the year!

Sometimes I feel immensely grateful that the Fathers lacked computers. Otherwise, they would undoubtedly have spent their entire time devising ever more arcane mathematics on their flickering screens, and would never written any Theology.

25 February 2020

The Five Articles of Unity and the Ordinariate

(1) That in the Sacrament of the Altar, by virtue of the words of Christ duly spoken by the priest, is present realiter, under the kinds of bread and wine, the natural Body of Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary, and also his natural Blood.
(2) That after the consecration there remains not the substance of bread and wine, nor any other substance, but the substance of God and Man.
(3) That in the Mass is offered the true Body of Christ, and his true Blood, a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead.
(4) That to Peter the Apostle, and his lawful successors in the Apostolic See, as Christ's Vicars, is given the supreme power of feeding and ruling the Church of Christ Militant, and confirming their brethren.
(5) That the authority of handling and defining concerning the things belonging to faith, sacraments, and discipline ecclesiastical, hath hitherto ever belonged, and ought to belong, only to the pastors of the Church; whom the Holy Ghost for this purpose hath set in the Church; and not to laymen.

A beautifully sinewy piece of prose! And very much the property of the Ordinariate. These Articles date from the start of Elizabeth Tudor's reign; it seems to me that they express the continuity which exists between the Canterbury Convocation of 1559 (which enacted these Articles), and the Ordinariate; the Gathering of those who, from within the Provinces of Canterbury and York, finally shook off the burden and impedimentum of the centuries of schism.

On Saturday February 25, as the House of Commons in Westminster completed its treatment of a combined Bill for the restoration of a Book of Common Prayer and of the Royal Supremacy, a little way down the river, in Old S Paul's Cathedral, the Convocation of Canterbury (York could not meet because its bishops were in London for Parliament) met under the presidency of Bishop Bonner and passed these Articles. The first three were, with minor variations, the same articles that had been put together by Queen Mary's first Convocation in 1553 as the basis of the Disputation being planned in Oxford between Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, and some Catholic divines. The first two Articles related directly to the 1552 Book with, between its covers, the Black Rubric denying "anye reall and essencial presence ... of Christ's naturall fleshe and bloude". As Parliament hurried towards the re-enactment of the 1552 rite, Convocation in the most specific terms ('natural'; 'natural') renewed its condemnation of the eucharistic doctrine which the Black Rubric expressed.

And on the very day that the Commons finished their work on the Royal Supremacy, Convocation defined unambiguously in its fourth Article the Church of England's commitment to the Primacy of S Peter. It is hard to think of a more pointed declaration on a more significant day. But the fifth Article is perhaps the most bold and fearless of all (the Universities, when they subscribed the first four Articles, were apparently too nervous to pass this one). The first four Articles, on Eucharist and Primacy, undoubtedly nailed some very dangerous colours to the mast but they were not, when they were passed, actually contrary to Statute law as it stood at that moment. But to deny the competence of the Crown in Parliament to order ecclesiastical matters ran contrary to all the assumptions of all the years since 1533 - assumptions as real in the Marian statutes restoring the Old Religion as they had been in the Henrician and Edwardine statutes varying or abolishing it.

The schismatic legislation passed by Parliament formally took effect on 8 May 1559. (But perhaps, given the teaching of the Church about Particular Churches, we should deem the moment of schism to be, in each diocese, the moment when the Spritualities of a See were assumed by a prelate not in Communion with Peter?)

24 February 2020

A Hat!!!

A very kind benefactor has passed to me a relic ...

Diligent readers will know that my Anglican seminary was S Stephen's House, Oxford, commonly known as "The House", or as "Staggers". It was founded in buildings on the corner of Broad Street, where the New Bod now stands. Oops ... the New Bod has now in turn been gutted and, inside its original Art-Deco-and-Cotswold-rubble walls, something has been constructed called The Weston Library. When we were undergraduates (1960-1964), the New Bod was thought of as an eye-sore (Pevsner "Neither one thing nor the other, neither in an Oxford tradition nor modern for its date").  I principally remember the smell of the floor polish and the endless holdings, shelf after heavy shelf, of periodicals such as Mind. I did not much enjoy following my Greats Philosophical studies in such surroundings. PPE girls always seemed so much less interesting than Classical girls. You know how it is when one is young. I groan everytime I am reminded how many of the leading members of both of our main political parties once read PPE. (Philosophy Politics and Economics ... in the 1930s, people ... ludicrously ... called this deplorable course 'Modern Greats'.)

Possibly in preparation for the erection of the New Bodleian Library from 1937, Staggers moved in 1919 to some nice Victorian houses next to the Lady Margaret's Hall by the University Parks. There it stayed until 1980, when it took the opportunity of occupying the rather more C of E buildings along the Iffley Road formerly owned by the evanescent SSJE.

I was at SSH in Norham Gardens from 1964 until 1967. So I missed the principalship of Father Arthur Couratin by a couple of years. But the House, and its life, were still dominated by his ethos and the memory of his long reign (born 1902; Scholar of Corpus; SSH 1925; Priest 1927; Staff of SSH from 1935 and Principal 1936-1962; died 1988). My impression is that it was during Arthur's time that Staggers acquired the (justified) reputation of being the most 'Tridentine' seminary in the Church of England (perhaps I should have written "in England"). It would be interesting to know how many of its products are now in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, compared with how many still languish, silly fellows, in uncertain communion with Justin Welby and international fossil fuels.

So what was the relic that arrived by post on Saturday? Arthur's biretta. It is, I think, black silk outside, and the lining looks to me very much like red silk from an Oxford MA hood.

Thank You, Father, for your gift!

And welcome into Full Communion!

I wonder if I should declare myself jure integumenti Principal of the House. Or perhaps I should devise a new title ... something as appropriate to my new millinery as, say, Rector Magnificus?

Orate ...

I understand that Dr Geoffrey Kirk, priest, scholar, most consummate English satirist since the demise of Ronald Knox, is rather under the weather. Possibly, some readers will be able to spare him a Mass, a Rosary ...

23 February 2020

The Topophiliac Heresy and Biblical Teaching

Lifesitenews has an absolutely BRILLIANT piece by Cardinal Cordes on the errors of seeing the Amazon ... or any other place ... as a uniquely and theologically significant topos which is unspoiled and a source for us of authentic teaching and "Wisdom". His Eminence offers a classical Biblical exposition of the Fall. I couldn't possibly put it better than he has, so I urge you to go and read it.

Bishop Schneider points out the error of calling the Theotokos "Mother of All Creation". Error may be made more attractive to some minds by being incorporated into extravagant Mariolatry, but to do this is an insult to the Immaculata. The Liturgy regards her as the antidote to, not the facilitatrix of, all  heresies.

This sort of error is closely connected with the Christianitylite error that we should regard all peoples as brothers and as children of the Almighty. New Testament teaching suggests rather that all are under sin and in darkness until they are illumined and reborn into Christ, incorporated into His Resurrection through Baptism, Children through Adoption. (Did you spot the references to 'Illumination' and 'Seeing' in today's Quinquagesima readings?)

But, as I wrote recently, I am convinced that we should all welcome and spread abroad the good things in the Apostolic Exhortation, notably the very strong reaffirmation of the fact that the Eucharist can only be confected and offered by an ordained  male. Cardinal Mueller is, in my opinion, absolutely right in adopting this tactic. If PF is starting to realise ... certain things ...  we would be very foolish if we were to drive him back into the arms of the maniacal hyperueberultrapapalists and supraneomodernists who think they have him neatly corralled and at their disposal.

As far as the Bogey Man of 'Clericalism' is concerned, I have written before about an amusing paradox: it is the Traddy Movement which is largely organised and run by lay men and women. We clerics just jump to it and do as we are told. Perhaps the Campos people are the ones best shaped by their own background to help the Amazonians to move into a healthy and inculturated laic spirituality.

We experienced lay leadership, too, in the C of E when we had our 'flying bishops', episcopopters. One of them, being accused of acting as if he was a diocesan bishop, replied "I certainly do not. Nobody gets in touch with me when there's a leak in the Sacristy ceiling". Another remarked "We have no authority except what you give us". And there is the very splendid Anglican tradition, stretching back into the Middle Ages, of Churchwardens, male and female. I still doff my hat and stand to attention on the all-to-rare occasions when I find myself in the company of either of my last pair of these very superior men and women.

Viva Laicita ...

21 February 2020

Brideshead Revised (1)

This passage was substantially omitted from the Second Edition. I find it interesting to speculate why. Was it simply that it seemed stylistically a little de trop?

"... Burgundy. How can I describe it? The Pathetic Fallacy resounds in all our praise of wine. For centuries, every language has been strained to define its beauty, and had produced only wild conceits or the stock epithets of the trade. This Burgundy seemed to me, then, serene and triumphant ... it whispered faintly, but in the same lapidary phrase, the same words of hope."

20 February 2020

Mary's Dowry and King Richard II

As we prepare for the rededication of our land to our Lady, I elucidate a piece of Latin which is circulating on the Internet in mysteriously garbled forms. Here is the line:


It is a typical medieval hexametre; forget all you ever knew about 'longs' and 'shorts' and go by rhythm. I have inserted the red bits not as letters but as metrical dividers. I divides the line into its six 'feet'. / is the 'caesura', the midline break. As so commonly in such medieval verses the syllables just before the caesura rhyme with the syllables at the end of the line, in this case -IA. Further examples of such versification occur on the tomb of Richard II in Westminster Abbey. (The term 'Leonine' is commonly attached to such verse.)

Modern punctuation might give us this:

Dos tua, Virgo pia, haec est; quare rege, Maria. 

In English:: O pious Virgin, this is your dowry, wherefore, O Mary, rule [it].  

This inscription is recorded as having been on a picture which hung above an Altar in the English College in Rome until the Napoleonic Episode. It showed a king and queen kneeling and offering England to our Lady; it is to be her dowry, and the offering is made through the hands of S John Baptist (King Richard II's patron and one of the most popular Saints until S Joseph somewhat encroached upon his cultus). The Altar above which it stood (in what had, of course, been the old royal English Hospice until it was converted into the Venerable English College) was that of S Edmund the Martyr.

[Sources: Edmund Waterton's Pietas Mariana Britannica (1879); and BL Harleian ms 360]  

The most helpful explanation I know is in Dillian Gordon's Making and Meaning THE WILTON DIPTYCH (1993; reprinted 2001). She describes that great Diptych, in our National Gallery, which also shows King Richard II dedicating England to our Lady as her dowry. In the course of investigating the Diptych, Gordon also provides the background of the now lost Roman picture which we are discussing this morning.

Gordon explains the choice of King Richard's favourite Saints; and invites us to look carefully at the orb above the white banner with the red cross. It shows, very probably, England as 'a green island with trees on the horizon and a white castle with two turrets and black windows'. It is surrounded by a sea which was originally silver leaf (I wonder if W Shakespeare ever saw this?)

You can't look at the picture in Rome because the Enlightenment so wisely destroyed it for you, but if you want to enter into the spirit of the Rededication, you can go and look at the Wilton Diptych. If yiu felt up to all the hassle of getting into Westminster Abbey, you could visit King Richard's and Queen Anne's tomb.

Gordon's book is well worth buying.

19 February 2020


Does anybody happen to have the following information? I've been unable to find crisp information on the internet ...

 ... When did Pius XII, Papa Pacelli, begin to give dispensations for married former Lutheran ministers in Germany to be ordained into the Presbyterate of the Latin Church?

Assertions on the internet vary between 1939, 1943, 1950; 1951, and 1952.

Might it have been connected with his Germanophilia? Or were there cultural reasons within German society?

In Anglophone countries, of course, anti-Anglican prejudice among episcopates of Irish extraction might have discouraged any similar idea.

An oligarchy of mediocrities?

What is a Bishop? In the early centuries ... not that I am suggesting the immutability of patterns ... but let's see how this goes ... the bishop was the Man of his Church; chosen within the local Christian Gathering (ekklesia); consecrated for them by bishops representing the Catholica; but destined to remain their Apostolic Man until he died (Translation=Adultery)*. He was the Pastor of a Congregation; and when church buildings became common, he had his cathedra, his chair of teaching and ruling, situated in the church building of his congregation, in the midst of the people he pastored Sunday by Sunday and day by day. Some of us have experience of how something like this still works out in some Orthodox communities ... I did in South London ... and a very lovely sight it is too, as the the hairdressers and cafe owners and hospital attendants and wide-boys drifted in to seek his guidance or, most commonly, simply to gossip with the man whose hand they kissed as he made them a cup of coffee.

We are, of course, unwise to try to impose too rigid an interpretation on any institution. In the early centuries, there were chorepiskopoi who ran around the countryside bishoping; we know very little about how their episkope operated - there is some evidence that at least some them really did have sees, however small the village - but the story of this institution makes clear that they were viewed with unease, restricted, and finally eliminated ... as Anglicans might say, the 'period of reception' led to their rejection by the Church. I would see them as a tentative first attempt to deal with the new problems which arose as the Church moved into the countryside. More recent centuries have known the custom of bishops with merely titular sees, both in the East and in the West; I rather agree with what John Zizioulas wrote about this practice ... trigger warning of a catty bit ... before he became Metropolitan of Pergamon. I venture, however, to suggest that in such side-roads we do not discern the essence of Episcopacy.

In much of the first millennium, a Bishop was the Man of his Church in the sense that the People might very well have known him since his childhood; had, perhaps, seen him ordained in their midst as diakonos while a young man; had watched him mature over the years; become Archidiakonos; serve for decades as the Right Hand Man of the Old Bishop both at the altar and in Church affairs; until, upon the old gentleman's demise, he seemed the obvious successor. Such a system enhanced the stability of the paradosis of a Church; diminished the risk of Clever People with New Ideas getting their shifty hands upon the tiller of God's Church. If a bishop taught a different doctrine ex cathedra from what he taught last week, or from what his predecessor had taught, it would be noticed. Corporate Memory should lie at the heart of  'Magisterium'.

In the Church of England, diocesans used to be appointed by the Crown, which was an outrageous system but did at least from time to time provide a bishop of outstanding ability who might not have been successful in a more 'democratic' set-up. This system was reformed so that a Vacancy in See Committee now submits names for formal approval. On the face of it, this system, with representation of the local Church, the wider Church, and the local community, has a lot to be said for it. In fact, as Canon Gary Bennet pointed out in a notorious Crockfords Preface, it leads to a self-perpetuating oligarchy of mediocrities. Because: those committees almost always play for safety by prefering a man who has served as a suffragan [assistant] bishop. And every suffragan is nominated by a diocesan. And diocesans have a deeply rooted fear of appointing a subordinate who will outshine them. Hence the appallingly low quality of the present Anglican episcopate.

Bennet also observed how very many of those elevated by the Anglican system had curricula vitae which intersected with that of Archbishop Runcie. Heaven forbid that a similar accusation could ever be levelled at the CBCEW!


Did the CBCEW investigations into Kieran Conry unearth any answer to the important question: How much did Cormac know about Kieran's activities before the latter's Consecration?

Since the CBCEW has not answered this question, it would be nice if the Independent Inquiry were to do so. But I suppose it will (sadly) be deemed outside their remit. Fingers crossed, however!

I am sure readers will recall the immortal exchange between Bertie Stanhope and Bishop Proudie:.
Bishop Translations are occasionally made, but not so frequently as in former days.
Bertie They've cut them all down to pretty nearly the same figure, haven't they?
i.e. the Ecclesiastical Commission had made the revenues of most sees the same by amalgamating and then dividing equally the ancient endowments, inequalities in which had hitherto fuelled the incessant quest of Whig episcopal oligarchs to get themselves translated to wealthier sees.

18 February 2020

Patrimonial Moses and Aaron

In Long Crendon church near Oxford, you can find two eighteenth century paintings; one of Moses, holding the Tablets of the Law; the other of Aaron, wearing a mitre, the breast-plate, the bells, and holding a smoking thurible.

Before the church was regothicised under the Victorians, these pictures clearly stood at each end of the Ten Commandments, which in pre-Tractarian days, stood behind and above the Altar. Moses was presumably on the South side, since he is pointing with his right hand to the (now missing) Commandments. The arrangement surivives intact in Fr Fynes Clinton's (Wren) church of S Magnus the Martyr by London Bridge and a number of other places.

I am intrigued to imagine the scene: the priest, wearing voluminous surplice and (if he was a gentleman) a red silk MA hood and a neat powdered wig, kneeling at the North End of the Altar to celebrate the Prayer Book Communion Office, with, above his head, the mitred, bell-adorned, Aaron, waggling incense. I wonder what effect these juxtapositions had on the imaginations of eighteenth century farmworkers ...

It is interesting to recollect that this iconography taken strictly suggests a notion of the Sacrifice of the Mass (aligning it narrowly with the Jewish sacrificial system) different from that of the Canon Romanus (which carefully alludes to pre-Mosaic sacrifice). Other texts in the old sacramentaries do refer, of course, to the Eucharist as the fulfilment of all the 'differentias hostiarum'. And the pre-Conciliar Pontificale takes a vivid doctrinal interest in the indumenta sacerdotalia.

So, I feel sure, did the author of the First Epistle of S Clement quam vide.

But not Dom Botte.

17 February 2020

"We're all responsible ..."

"Well", I indignantly thought, "how can I be responsible? I'd never even heard of the woman until now".

For some 36 hours, the first, and the most obsessive news item, had been the suicide of a woman who had for years (I now know) been involved in programmes such as Strickly and, most recently, Love Island. Her suicide appeared to be a national tragedy; the outpourings of love towards the defuncta had been universal and, it seemed to me, extreme. I suppose this was the Meejah village mourning one of its own; and, for people who had in fact known her, the grief was natural enough.

But I rather got the impression that among the grief-smitten were some who had not themselves known her ... except, of course, via the (spurious but seductive) intimacy of the screen ... but who needed to feel that they had known her. It reminded me of the occasion at Lancing when one of the students was found drowned in her parents' swimming pool; a 'shrine' appeared at the back of the Chapel with messages attached. One of these was from a youth who wrote that he had never actually met her, but now felt as though he had known her. People do like to crave admission to and to feel part of a popular tragedy. As we learned temp. Dianae Spencer.

But I had never even heard of the Love Island woman. Yet here was some cutie telling me that we are all ... which includes me ... responsible for her tragedy. What rubbish ... .

Perhaps not totally rubbish; after all, in society there is a great network whereby, with varying degrees of immediacy, we are all mutually co-involved. No man, indeed, is an island. My wife wondered when a homilist had last reminded his hearers that suicide is a sin. She has a point. Perhaps we clergy should preach more and more often about specific sins ... not, of course, that we will reap any more comforting a harvest than accusations of being sin-obsessed and insensitive. (I used to denounce Abortion ... but not more than two or three times a year, lest  my hearers might come to think I was preoccupied with just one issue. I'm not convinced I was wrong; if one gets that sort of reputation it blunts the message anyway.)

So ... should I have watched an episode of Love Island and then, if it seemed to me that it encouraged promiscuity, denounced it?

One of the themes of 'PreLent' ... of these Gesima Sundays  ... is that we are corporately involved . Which is why we profess our corporate sinfulness on account of which we are corporately (so the ancient Mass texts remind us) afflicted by the Almighty. Septuagesima  (what Byzantine habits would probably name Adam Sunday) spoke of the origin of Sin; Sexagesima (consider the readings and homilies in the Divine Office) was Noe (Noah) Sunday -- reminding us of the corporate punishmen inflicted upon a corporately sinful society. (Quinquagesima, of course, will be Abraham Sunday.)

Coresponsibility, then. Fair enough. So be it.

But there is still a bit of me which says: too assertive a declaration that we are "all responsible" for everything may blunt the awareness we ought to feel of a special responsibility for the things which are a lot closer home. I mean tragedies which happen to those we know, to those who are part of a more immediate community; to family members. There is a very real risk that what everybody is responsible for becomes in reality something for which nobody is really responsible, except as an easy emotional trip.

Are we capable of the fine distinctions which may be needed?!

16 February 2020


I have read in what I think is Bobbie Mickens's organ that "Most progressives, reformers, and Vatican II types ... are deeply disappointed [by the Amazon Exhortation]".

He goes on to say that the "women are hurt and angry".

I don't think, however, that all women are Hurt and Angry. I looked carefully at my Wife and a visiting Daughter today, and they didn't look at all H&A. I think I can usually tell when they are. It requires a form of discernment which starts off when a chap is a toddler and needs to spot if and when Mummy is H&A. One hones these skills throughout one's life, aided, eventually and if it is still necessary, by one's granddaughters or great granddaughters. Perhaps Mickens hasn't spent long enough with women.

Or perhaps mine are not the right sort of women. Frankly, I would have to admit that they show no signs of thinking at all about Vatican II. They seem more interested in Life. But far be it from me to hint that "Vatican II women" are likely to be humourless crones. Mickens probably knows best after all those long years spent working for The Tablet.


Last Wednesday evening, I penned a post about the Post-Synodal Exhortation. I drew particular attention to the passage in which PF explicitly declared that the Eucharistic President needs to be male. Since the 'Ordination' of Women is unmistakeably the ultimate ambition of "progressives and Reformers", these words appeared to me to be a confirmation of the teaching of S Paul VI (Inter insigniores) and, particularly, of S John Paul II in his Ordinatio sacerdotalis, which Rome declared to be an expression of the Infallible Ordinary Universal Magisterium.

This may seem to some readers a matter of slight importance compared with the agonies of all these married viri probati we keep hearing about, and the exact nature of 'diaconal' women.

I think it is important, and so will the rest of you, believe me, in a decade or two as the campaign for Women 'Priests' continues and accelerates. And becomes even more viciously shrill. Shrill? You don't yet know what that word means.

In particular, on Wednesday I asked for information about the meaning of the terms used for "man" in the various languages in which the Exhortation is available ... particularly Arabic, Polish, and Chinese (Paragraph 101). Apart from a kind hispanophone: I got zilch.

Anthropos or aner? Homo or Vir?

Nobody seems to want to help me. Can it be that many fellow-traditionalists are only interested in the words of PF when those words confirm their opinion that he is a hopeless heretic? Do some people in fact suffer disappointment when he actually behaves as a pope should ... as a remora  or obstacle against innovation and error?

The campaign for women 'priests' will be relentless. Is it nothing to many Traditionalists that PF has struck a blow for Tradition? That he has placed a marker in his 'Magisterium' which it will that bit more difficult for Francis II to circumvent?

15 February 2020


I can see why the idea of 'inculturated'Amazonian liturgy might terrify some traditionally minded Catholics. It could be the occasion of multiple heteropraxies and even heterodoxies. It could cause division, which might be prolonged. After all, this is what happened during the "Chinese Rites" controversy. And it would be easy to suspect that Amazonian communities lack even the sophistication of Mandarin communities.

But ...

We need to be careful. If we are negative, we will be in the position of telling these worthy people that they must stick, basically, with the Novus Ordo. And this is not a prospect which I myself would consider edifying.

When a community with Zwinglian/Calvinist origins entered into communion with See of S Peter in 2011, calling themselves 'Ordinariates', the Liturgy they secured consisted of something well on the way back from S Paul VI in the direction of S Pius V. In principle, I can see no reason why an 'inculturated' Amazonian Liturgy could not be produced with and for the Amazon which would be more within Tradition than the Bugnini Rite is.

What alternatives are there? Dumping onto the Amazonians the gloomy cheerless Novus Ordo as performed in so many European parishes, depressed and depressing, attended by the sad and elderly?

Even if some misjudgements were made, I would prefer to think of the Amazonians offering the August Sacrifice with a sense of joy and wonder and reverence. Would it matter if they did one or two odd or unusual things?

It might help to stop them traipsing off after the superstitions of the Pentecostalists.

But I think an important thing would be to prevent the process from falling into the hands of those determined to promote a Christianity which is not Christian.

14 February 2020

Eric Mascall

Today, February 14, is the twenty-seventh anniversary of the death of Eric Mascall, Priest and Scholar. CAPD.

Fr Aidan Nichols wrote that the Catholic Revival in the Church of England, in the twentieth century, inspired "a select band of first rate patristic scholars and systematic theologians. In such figures ... the orthodox Roman Catholic can recognise with but little effort 'separated doctors' of the Catholic Church'". In this select band he names Eric Mascall. Mascall's was indeed one of the most acute minds to detect and analyse the deceptions of the last part of the twentieth century.

Now that the tradition represented by Mascall has formally and corporately entered into Full Communion with the See of Peter in the Ordinariates, is it too ... pushy ... to hope that our fellow Catholics will regard these figures as having become their property too? Just as I trust that they will not resent us feeling that their own Saints and great men have now become ours as well ... the Elizabethan Martyrs; Bishop Challoner and his fellow Confessors?

Is this what the phrase "Church Unity" means?

13 February 2020

Martin Bashir ...

 ... in yesterday's Today programme on the Beeb explained that the Discipline of Celibacy in the Catholic Church might soon be abolished. He clearly thought that a step in this direction was likely to be taken in PF's Post Synodal Exhortation, released at noon yesterday. How pleasantly wrong he was!! (I posted about it last night.)

Martin Bashir's 'presentation' included recordings made at Allen Hall, a fine seminary which is a credit to the Catholic Church in this country (historically, it is in continuity with the great numbers of world-class academics who fled from Oxford in the 1560s, and it is sanctified by its many martyrs).

The programme told us about priests "ventilating" their sexuality ... a rather jolly, if unusual, term ... and it raised the question of a link between Celibacy and the sexual abuse of children. Quite accurately, we were told that some Catholic institutions and dioceses had been thoroughly investigated by our current Independent Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children.

What Bashir did not reveal to listeners was that the Church of England came rather worse out of that Inquiry than did the dioceses of the Catholic Church. The whole wretched tale of the paedophile clergy in the Anglican Diocese of Chichester, and the lifetime of sexual abuse, on an industrial scale, perpetrated by the creepy Anglican Bishop Peter Ball, was reviewed by the Inquiry at merciless length. Only yesterday, the General Synod of the C of E discussed how it was to find the money to 'compensate' so many wounded victims. People who think that permitting clerical marriage is a safeguard against ephebophilia might find the speech of Archbishop Welby rather interesting. He clearly is unaware that life is so simple.

Bashir may not know this, but, since 1559, the Church of England has not only permitted married men to be ordained, but has even allowed those already ordained to marry.

My own (not uninformed) view is that this liberty has made no difference whatsoever to the incidence of the sexual abuse of children or young people. Numbers of abusing priests have, indeed, been men with wives and children.

Is Bashir guilty of Suppressio veri? Or Suggestio falsi? Or both?

Martin Bashir seemed rather irritated by the fact that the only woman present during his visit to Allen Hall (whose Rector, by the way, spoke very well) was there to prevent him from getting in the way of the worship. Sounds a rather good arrangement to me.

That worship, after the end of (sic Bashir) "Evensong", consisted of Benediction ... Tantum Ergo and Adoremus very nicely sung by the lads.

Very well done, Allen Hall. Is the food still as good? Floreas ...

12 February 2020

COVID 19: Benedic Coronavirus Dominum: lauda et superexulta eum in saecula

I gather that today we shall see the post-synodal etc. etc.. While we feverishly await PF's next great Paradigm Shift, let us reconsider for a moment PF's big ecological initiative: the prophetic call of Laudato si, and its teaching about what its text calls biodiversitas.

My point is to ask why the Mundus Bergoglianus is doing so little to defend and to promote the increase in biodiversity exemplified by the newly vigorous life-form CORONAVIRUS alias COVID 19. There has been surprisingly little jubilation about the spectacular spread of this wonderful piece of BIODIVERSITAS. 

(I have, incidentally, searched for Biodiversitas, which occurs quite a number of times in the Encyclical, through the pages of the Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis. I have not found it. I hope I will not be too far astray if I assume that it means something rather like the English neologism Biodiversity. Personally, I do rather dislike these bastard words which promiscuously combine Greek with Latin elements.)

PF pointed out that the existence of  a great multiplicity of species has utilitarian purposes; but, acute theologian that he is, huius temporis ipsissimus Aristoteles, he dug deeper than this. He complained that hundreds of species have gone missing, and deplored that these now extinct forms "sua existentia Deum non clarificabunt".

I am not myself a properly trained theologian; and so I would welcome full and careful elucidation of how the Coronavirus "by its very existence glorifies God". But I am a faithful Catholic and so I of course accept the teaching of the Sovereign Pontiff that it does indeed do this. Laus Deo! But in that case, why are PF's court publicists and his world-wide gangs of admirers doing, as far as I can see, absolutely nothing to protect and to spread Coronavirus? Why is the great Austin Ivereigh not sprinting round the studios defending Coronavirus in the mighty Meejah world which he knows so well? At this time one would have thought that Bergoglianists per orbem terrarum would be devising ways of encouraging this spectacular life-form to mutate into an even greater and yet more God-glorifying variety of life-forms. I shall believe in the genuine adherence of the German episcopate to Laudato si and Biodiversity when I hear rhat at least two thirds of them (including Marx) have voluntarily and successfully put themselves in the way of welcoming Coronavirus.

Worse: opponents of PF's Magisterium are even searching for pharmaceutical ways of destroying this species, which (at least in the BBC TV studio mock-up) looks so fascinating. It has exquisite knobbly bits.

If someone were to show me evidence that Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider are anticoronavirus, biodiversity-deniers, I would not dismiss the accusation, grave though it would be, entirely out of hand. 

It needs to be asked: what is the CBCEW doing to promote the spread of this noble virus in our own country? Have the Englishnwelsh bishops volunteered to host within their own episcopal persons the coronavirus? If not, why not? Why are there no Biodiversity 'Activists' waving banners outside Archbishop's House? "Free the Coronavirus One".

Nuncios, when they are constructing terna to send to Rome, ought to ask potential consecrandi whether they would be generously willing to offer their own bodies as gracious and patient havens of the very richest biodiversity.

11 February 2020

The Feast of our lady of Lourdes: for Latinists

At an early stage in the reforms which led from the Breviarium Romanum to the Liturgia Horarum, the (very competent and distinguished) scholar presiding over Hymnology, Dom Anselmo Lentini, proposed to assign a Proper hymn, Omnis expertem, to this feast. Taken from the pre-Conciliar Propers, its ultimate origin was a local Office of our Lady of Lourdes granted to the Diocese of Tarbes (now 'Tarbes et Lourdes') in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII (extended to the Universal Roman Rite by Pope S Pius X in 1907). Its interest is increased by the fact that there are grounds for strongly suspecting that this hymn was composed by the Pontiff himself, Leo XIII, who was (like Pope S Leo the Great) a Latinist of considerable distinction, as well as being an enthusiastic promoter of the cultus of our Lady of Lourdes. Its text is at the bottom of this page.

Other hymns to our Lady which you might like to compare are these**; do you think a stylistic study supports, or otherwise, the attribution of Omnis expertem to Pope Leo?

*Te dicimus praeconio: Also perhaps by Leo XIII, and also composed for the Office of our Lady of Lourdes. Lentini transferred it in the Liturgia Horarum to the Immaculate Conception. Sadly, he changed the stately second line (Intacta Mater Numinis) to the somewhat prosaic Mater Dei purissima, on the grounds that Numinis "sapit mythologiam". (Vide Sacrosanctum Concilium 93; I can see this point when it applies to Olympus or Iuppiter tonans, but is there much wrong with numen?) 

*O lux beata and *Sacra iam splendent for the Feast of the Holy Family: certainly by Leo; Lentini knocked a couple of stanzas off the beginning of Sacra, thus turning it into Dulce fit. These two hymns survive from the Breviary into the Liturgia Horarum.

Here is the text of the hymn to our Lady of Lourdes, for those of you who lack a pre-Conciliar Breviary. It is, surely, particularly appropriate at this time this year, as Septuagesima bids us think about the Fall, the Felix Culpa.

Omnis expertem maculae Mariam
edocet summus fidei magister;
Virginis gaudens celebrat fidelis
     terra triumphum.

Ipsa se praebens humili puellae
Virgo spectandam, recreat paventem,
seque conceptam sine labe sancto
     praedicat ore.

O specus felix, decorata divae
matris aspectu! veneranda rupes,
unde vitales scatuere pleno
     gurgite lymphae!

*Huc catervatim pia turba nostris,
huc ab externis peregrina terris
affuit supplex et opem potentis
     Virginis orat.

*Excipit mater lacrimas precantum,
donat optatam miseris salutem;
compos hinc voti patrias ad oras
     turba revertit.

Supplicum, Virgo, miserata casus,
semper o nostros refove labores,
impetrans maestis bona sempiternae
     gaudia vitae.

Sit decus Patri, genitaeque Proli,
et tibi, compar utriusque virtus,
Spiritus semper, Deus unus, omni
     temporis aevo.

* Lentini proposed to omit these two stanzas. Huc, hinc seemed to him to imply a Gallocentric world view!

10 February 2020


Such is the (highly convenient) term used in the Ordinariate Missal for the 'Gesima' two-and-a-half-weeks.

That same Missal, like the Old Roman Rite, sensibly provides that the A-word should not be used during 'Prelent'.

Life must be difficult, during this time, for clergy who, obliged to remember not to say the A-word, perhaps in their next Mass an hour later are required by the Novus Ordo to utter it. Such 'pastoral' details are not unimportant.

In order to facilitate the convergence of different forms of the Roman Rite, it is surely appropriate that the A-word should be eliminated from the Novus Ordo during these three weeks. Perhaps the colour Purple could be allowed optionally during this period, to help people to remember not to say ... Furthermore, the S Paul VI version of the preface I have discussed in my last two posts is already available for use in the NO during these Sundays.

Incidentally, the Ordinariate Missal does provide a Preface for Prelent (which may also be used during Lenrt as an alternative to the Lenten Preface). I suspect its origin may lie in an American Book of Common Prayer. (Is that right?)

I favour the provision of an (optional) 'Gesima' Preface such as the one I have been discussing (or its Ordinariate equivalent). For those using the Old Roman Rite, it would provide a reminder that we are in a different part of the year even on days when, as today, we climb into white vestments to say Mass of S Scholastica or whoever. And on the Sundays, this is surely the moment to move on from the Holy Trinity preface prescribed for green Sundays by Pope Clement XIII in 1759 ... after all, these Gesima Sundays are not 'green'. (For the same reasons, I welcome the use in Advent of the 'Gallican' Advent Preface commended in the SSPX francophone ORDO ... somebody once told me that it's provided optionally in the 1962 Missal ... is that right? ... my four altar missals are from deplorably early vintages ...).

Surely there is someone out there who could whisper into Cardinal Sara's receptive ear the importance of ...

9 February 2020

We are justly afflicted

The Septuagesima propers confess our corporate sinfulness to God and confess that we are justly afflicted for our sins.

As we face the possibility of a major epidemic, journalists perform their ancient ritual of clustering round 'Christian leaders' to ask them how a loving God can behave so terribly badly.

The abolition of the Septuagesima message was, pastorally, perhaps the greatest apostasy of the 1960s. How badly the world needs this teaching.

7 February 2020

Egg and Bacon

So we approach the 'Burying', on the Saturday before Septuagesima, of ALLELUIA.

In my seminary days, this caused one practical problem . We all returned from vacation to the Holy Week Retreat; and this involved practising the music for the Triduum ... and also for Easter Day.

How does one practise music including the A-word, without uttering the A-word?

My recollection is that when we got to the A-word in a text, instead of that forbidden vocable we sang "Eggs and Bacon".

I wonder what other memories fellow presbyters ... and musicians ... have of this nice little practical matter.

It was also important to remember not to schedule for use, until after Easter, the wonderfully moving "Russian Contakion of the Departed" which appeared in the English Hymnal clinging on by the skin of its teeth  as Number 744, and was very popular in Anglican Catholic circles. The Byzantia, of course, do not 'bury' the A-word.

6 February 2020


UPDATE Cardinal Mueller , in his most recent Interview, has expressed a position very much like that adopted by Tom Weinandy. Here is the Lifesitenews text:
" As soon as [the bishops] teach and decide something contrary to the Apostolic doctrine and the sacramental constitution of the Church, they have lost the right to the 'religious obedience of the faithful' (Lumen Gentium 25; Dei Verbum 10). Already  many bishops in the course of Church history have become heretical or led their parishes in schism, as for example the Donatists, who, with their majority, stood up to the Catholics in North Africa."
 As a poor sad old product of the intellectual passions of the 1960s, I still ... Yes!! ... believe in the importance of the cause of Christian Unity. Every morning this week, I have offered that marvellous old Mass ad tollendum schisma, with those moving lections from S Paul ad Ephesios, and the Lord's High Priestly Prayer. It has profoundly affected me.

Of course, I have been aware that currently we should be praying, not least, for the Unity of all those who are already in Full Communion with the See of S Peter. And suddenly, there came into my mind (by chance, if you believe in chance) memories of the teaching of Fr Thomas Weinandy (lecture, February 2018, in Sidney).

Weinandy, once Warden of Greyfriars in this University and, until he was sacked, a Very Big Man on the theological Commission of the USA Episcopal Conference, analysed the ecclesiology of S Ignatius the Matyr.

In the course of this, he discussed the position of a bishop who "espouse[d] heretical teaching, whether concerning doctrine, morals, or pastoral and sacramental practice which bears upon doctrine and morals". He argued that "such a bishop no longer was in union with the catholic ecclesial community for he no longer professed the one apostolic faith of the Church and thus rendered himself incapable of exercising fully his office as bishop. ... He may continue to act outside the Church, or even within the Church, but his actions would would lack a genuine ecclesial character, for the essential and indispensible four marks of the Church would be absent within his specious ministry".

[I myself might have said: "was no longer in full union withe catholic ecclesial community".]

Fr Tom remarked:"I similarly employ [this argument] in the face of our contemporary ecclesial crisis". I agree. His judgement would apply, in my opinion, to any bishop who fitted his analysis, from the servus servorum Dei upwards.

I am sustained in this opinion by its closeness to the teaching of our Patron S John Henry Newman. Analysing ecclesiologically the Arian Crisis, he argued that, during that period, the Magisterium of the Ecclesia docens was in suspense: in the sense that, as an objective historical fact, bishops from the pope downwards were, whether because of their own heresy or because of fear and intimidation,  not de facto exercising the sacred teaching ministry vested in them.

We must, I believe, pray that all those bishops, high and low, whose ministry is thus sadly and gravely vitiated may, with the help of God's grace, return to the exercise of an episcopal ministry which possesses "a genuine ecclesial character", thus coming fully back into the Unity for which Christ prayed, and restoring to the Church her Oneness, her Holiness, her Catholicity, and her Apostolicity.

Mater Nostra quae es ...

Rumour has it that the Italian churches are soon to have PF's silly revision of the Oratio Dominica imposed upon them.

I doubt whether PF would try to impose this universally. That's not his style. His way of working is to 'make a mess' and, great glorious termite that he is, to attack Catholicism by nibbling away at its foundations. He takes the long view.

England is perhaps not as vulnerable to this sort of nonsense as Italy. That is because such a change in Anglophone liturgy would be unecumenical. In other words, the historically dominant Anglican tradition of the English version of this Prayer may serve to protect Anglophone Catholics from interference, at least until the pontificate of Frances III.

Intermittently, the Church of England has permitted optionally alternative versions of the Our Father, although, interestingly, the particular phrase that the Bergoglianist Ascendancy has such problems with has never featured in these versions. (This may be because Anglicans have tended to be shy of knowing better than the Author of the Prayer.) But, I think overwhelmingly, Anglican clergy have felt that 'changing the Lord's Prayer' would alienate occasional worshippers for whom the older version is just about the only liturgical formula that they do know off by heart.

PF's initiative raises a diverting question: if, without being ultra vires, PF can fiddle around like this, why cannot other Christians (or Pope Frances III) eliminate the 'offensive' Patriarchality of Pater hemon?

Footnotes: (1) the C of E did change the Our Father in 1662, when the doxology ('For thine is ...) was added to some, but (curiously) not all, of the liturgical occasions of the Prayer. I do not know of any record of how this went down in the pews.
(2) Single words have, in the last century, been changed, but this has made little impact because it does not significantly disturb the communal use of the prayer if some people are saying 'which' while others are saying 'who'. It is a disturbing of the order of words and a changing of the structures of phrases that raise problems in the communal use of a formula.

5 February 2020

Gaudeamus omnes ... S Agatha, ora, ora pro nobis

Cardinal Burke's Titular Church in Rome is S Agatha's of the Goths: the only Catholic church in Rome built originally for non-Catholics (Arians). (As Sir Michael Caine says, "Not many people know that.")

Those whose diaries won't accommodate a trip to Rome for its Patronal Festival will be looking forward to flocking instead to the great 'Venetian' Anglo-Catholic Basilica, now an Ordinariate church, of S Agatha in Landport, Portsmouth. S Agatha's Day is February 5; the External Solemnity at the weekend is the annual occasion for a Solemn High Mass (Ordinariate Rite) which could make you think you were back in the triumphalist Anglo-Papalism of the 1930s ... when "Faith was taught, and fanned to a golden blaze".

Anecdotally: I rather think that Tractarian church-founders rather liked dedications such as S Agatha, S Agnes ... I wonder why ...

SATURDAY 8 February: High Mass 11.00 a.m., 

The pp, the splendid Fr Maunder, continues the work of restoring and improving the church. The new  S Agatha Picture is now in place, painted in the baroque style. Here is Father's description:
"The Blessed Virgin holding forth a scroll [Anglicanorum coetibus] whilst S Agatha beckons towards Benedict XVI, who, kneeling, is vested in a cloth-of-gold cope with the triple crown placed to one side. Below, separated by putti and appropriate clouds, the first four priests of S Agatha's: Fr Linklater, Fr Dolling, Fr Tremenheere, and Fr Coles; kneel, eyes heavenward, offering prayer for unity with the Holy See."

The next project is the restoration of the Lady Chapel, a bit of which was lopped off when a road was abortively planned.

How wonderful it would be if Catdinal Burke, Fidei Defensor Eminentissimus, were in some future year to celebrate the Mass in this unique church!

4 February 2020

Facing the Mystery; or Catholic Crustaceans

The sort of liturgical culture which Catholics have experienced since the 1960s is in fact a culture which was common in English Protestant Non-Conformity for many generations before the 1960s; and in a Protestant ethos it represents the theologically right and appropriate liturgical expectation. If the faith-feeling, fiducia, is the salvific reality to which the Christian must cling, then worship can have no other purpose than to produce and sustain it. It is not for nothing that Protestant ideologues have seen the Sacraments - on the rare occasions when they celebrate them - as merely 'enacted Words'. The problem for us is that for half a century most Catholics have been indoctrinated into that same essentially Protestant presupposition. When, now, they are exposed to something as ancient and authentic as versus Orientem, they can feel excluded by the celebrant - "Why isn't he attending to me?": the reaction of the toddler whose mother seems now to be devoting to the new baby all the love and attention upon which previously that toddler had an exclusive claim. "Leave your horrid private God alone and turn round and be my friend again". These poor layfolk are bound to feel repulsed; the outrage done to their gut-instincts may even make them revolted.

Those of my readers who do not know their Dix off by heart may be amused - as well as instructed - by his well-known account of his Methodist grandmother.
It is an uncanny fact that there is still scarcely any subject on which the imagination of those outside the faith is more apt to surrender to the unrestrained nonsense of panic than that of what happens at the catholic eucharist. As a trivial instance, I remember that my own grandmorther, a devout Wesleyan, believed to her dying day that at the Roman Catholic mass the priest let a crab loose upon the altar, which it was his mysterious duty to prevent from crawling sideways into the view of the congregation. (Hence the gestures of the celebrant.) How she became possessed of this notion, or what she supposed eventually happened to the crustacean, I never discovered. But she affirmed with the utmost sincerity that she had once with her own eyes actually watched this horrible rite in progress; and there could be no doubt of the deplorable effect that solitary visit to a Roman Catholic church had had on her estmate of Roman Catholics in general, though she was the soul of charity in all things else. To all suggestions that the mass might be intended as some sort of holy communion service she replied only with the wise and gentle pity of the fully informed for the ignorant.

3 February 2020


The Brexit kerfuffle has got me puzzled. People who hang from their bedroom windows the EU flag are presumably anti-Brexit; those who show the Union Flag are probably pro-Brexit; but the folks flying the S George's flag ...  logically, so I would infer, these must be in favour of (the area covered by the medieval kingdom of) England withdrawing from the Yewkay. And hence these rare spirits are in line with the policy of the Scottish National Party ... pretty certainly a Fifth Column organised by Nicola Sturgeon right in the heart of England. Have I got that right?

Somehow I feel there is a factor here I'm not understanding.

There are two other flags which intermittently cause me considerable puzzlement.

One is the white and yellow flag which flies on some Catholic buildings. What is it? Is it the flag of Catholicism, of the Catholic Faith, or of the Bishop of Rome; or of the Holy See; or of the Vatican city-state? If it symbolises either of the latter two of these, it seems to me understandable, but improper, that it should fly over buildings in this country other than, of course, the buildings associated with the Vatican's diplomatic mission in our land.

The other flag is an elegant white and blue composition including the Star of David. I saw it not long ago being waved around in TV reports about demonstrations being held in central London against the anti-semitism asserted to be endemic in our Labour Party. I had always thought of it as the flag of the State of Israel. Is it, rather, a flag symbolising all Jews everywhere, the international symbol of Judaism?

In each of these cases, I feel that careful distinctions are capable of being made which are perhaps being forgotten. Or are there subtleties which I have not appreciated?

I expect to be accused of being anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic. One can so easily nowadays find oneself being ranted at. To live is to be attacked, as S John Henry didn't say.

2 February 2020

What is Christmastide and when does it end?

Dom Gueranger talks about Christmastide as ending with today's festival of the Purification/Presentation. Certainly, the rules concerning the Antiphon of our Lady after the Divine Office would suggest that.

The C of E, which so often goes over the top in its ultrapapalism, goes even further than Gueranger. The liturgical colour until February 2 is to be white.  And they have invented a contorted oddity called the Epiphany Season, modelled on the Easter Season of the Novus Ordo. So the period from Epiphany to Presentation is not allowed to have "Sundays after Epiphany"; they have to be called "Sundays of Epiphany". (They have needed to keep fidling with their Lectionaries because when Epiphany falls on a Sunday, that is itself the "First Sunday of Epiphant; and so the next Sunday is "The Second Sunday of Epiphany" ... but which propers does it have?) Of course, one continues to use the Epiphany Preface. Their view is that February 2 is when we stop thinking about Nativity themes and set our faces towards Jerusalem; towards Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

I believe some medieval sequences of colour may have stayed in white until February 2, but certainly not all (Exeter: viridibus est utendum).

The most obvious solution is to conclude that the Western Churches have never quite sorted all this out. For wise people who follow the old Roman Rite, the definitive moment is surely when the Gesimas start. That can be as early as 18 January or as late as 21 February. It would be very messy to get to work on the magnificent themes of Septuagesima on 18 January while trying to pretend that we are still in 'the Christmas Season'.

So, in my view, the Vetus Ordo gives us the most logical solution. The second most clean and logical system is, surely, that of the Novus Ordo: go green on the day after the Feast of the Baptism and stay green until Ash Wednesday brings down the shutters on "Ordinary Time" and viridity. The Church of England provides us with an example of the almighty mess what happens when one tries to be too clever, which is the invariable temptation of gathering together 'Liturgical Experts' and calling them a Commission.

(The man responsible for the C of E jiggery pokery was 'Bubbles' Stancliff, quondam Bishop of Salisbury, who was always having Bright Ideas. Another of these was to call the weeks before Advent the Season of the Kingdom, and to wear royally red vestments. General Synod drew the line against this adventure in nomenclature. It would, to be fair, have joined up the old and new dates for Christ the King.)