31 March 2020

The beginning of the beginning ...

Last time we had a health scare ... was it the Avian Flu in 2009? ... when I was still in the Diocese of Oxford, we had a hearty laugh about a diocesan statement which went into great detail about who would take over the diocese if the Diocesan Bishop died; which Area Bishop would be the next domino to fall after that ...

Happily, rather like CJD, that turned out to be a Damp Squib. Thank God for Damp Squibs. This time, when somebody has forgotten to dampen the squib, the Government has been asked which politico will take over if X dies, but has refused to give an anwer. Indeed, the whole business, so far, has been characterised by daily Press Conferences at which actual, down-to-earth, possibly useful, information is steadfastly refused.  Gracious me, talk about *n*lly retentive. Talk about condescending charlatans.

We are promised a letter from Boris Johnson to every household in the country ... millions more pieces of potentially infected rubbish shoved into letterboxes and needing to be safely disposed of. You'ld almost think ...

Talking about waste paper ... Johnson once wrote a biography of Churchill. I read it in Blackwells. It was pathetic; even a card-carrying admirer of Johnson, the historian Professor David Starkie, said how embarrassing it was. Johnson clearly has his life directed to one end: just as Churchill saved us from the Nazis, so he will go down as the Man of Destiny who saved us from ... er ... the EU. Coronavirus will undoubtedly have thrown this fanciful trajectory somewhat off course. But I'm still waiting for the Prime Ministerial Broadcast in which he will assure us that, while not the Beginning of the End, "This" (whatever 'this' might be) is the End of the Beginning.

It won't be. Johnson is not even a Montgomery.

But we always have the Conspiracy Theorists, jolly, jolly intellectuals, to cheer us up. However daunting their task, they always make everything connect with everything else, and how brilliantly they rise to each occasion. Being a simple soul, I am completely willing to believe the evidence they will undoubtedly present demonstrating that President Xi's second cousin twice removed once met the Chief Rabbi of Greenland; and that Mrs Xi's hairdresser's sister-in-law once slept with a man who was at the Chinese Embassy in Teheran at the very time when Hannibal Bugnini was Papal Nuncio there and doubling up as Worshipful Grand Master of the Teheran Lodge.

I'm sure that Marks and Spencers, Home of Boring Frocks, must be involved, too.


30 March 2020




In happy yesteryear, the feasts of the Roman Calendar Year appeared in an intoxicating variety of  categories ... stretching from the lordly Doubles of the First Class (corresponding to Pop at Eton) all the way down to poor little Simples (fags). This diversity had not arisen out of a desire for Complexity in se, but to take account of practical distinctions which needed to be clarified. Twentieth century revisers made a bonfire of nearly all these distinctions (rather like the Jesuits in Oxford burning all their relics) when, on 26 July 1960, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued the Decree Novum Rubricarum, establishing instead the classifications of First, Second, and Third Class feasts (with mere Commemorations available for some real celestial losers). (The eagle-eyed will have noticed that this had nothing to do with 'the Council', which had not then begun.)

                                                   THE NEW DECREE

But the need to make practical distinctions between levels of liturgical celebration tends to reassert itself. So, in the new 2020 CDF Decree about the Calendar of the 1962 Missal, a new category has been invented. We now have a List (Elenchus) of III Class feasts "which cannot be impeded". This specifies some seventy such feasts which are Protected from being displaced by new liberties conceded in the Decree.

There is another feature to this List: these Protected celebrations may, optionally, be used on ferias of Lent and Passiontide. So, if the CDF had not left the publication of this Decree until it was too late (Conspiracy? or Cock-up?), you could have said Mass of the Archangel S Gabriel on March 24. (But ... no; the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of our blessed Lady does not appear on the List.)

["I've got a little list ... I've got a little list ..." The provision that these Protected third class feasts could even displace Lenten and Passiontide Ferias, may possibly have been added at a late point in the drafting. I make this textcrit comment on the following evidence: in a Decree generally speaking free of howlers (I only noticed 'pubblici'), this sentence has two typos ... as if it had been added by an unlatinate typist on the instructions of somebody with dodgy handwriting ... "Dieta festa celebrari possunt etiam in feriis III classis Quadragesimae et Passionis, facta commemoratione ferire iuxta rubricas."]

Of course, the most interesting thing about this Decree is the addition to the Calendar of those canonised since 26 July 1960. What has been done? Are we all going to have to say Mass of ... e.g. ... S Paul VI? How soon? Can I say Votives of him too? Please please, tomorrow? The cloth of gold vestments ... hang on, chaps ... don't go wild ...

                                    ADDITIONS TO THE EF CALENDAR

 I think the CDF has been remarkably sensitive and pastoral. 100 marks out of 100. Because:
(1) It doesn't add any such Sancti to the EF Calendar at all.
(2) It permits such observances. And leaves it all to you!
(3) If you say such a Mass, you  may say the corresponding Office (or you may choose not to).
(4) If you do go down these paths, you are not allowed to use even the Collect authorised for the Ordinary Form. You have to stick to the Extraordinary Form Communia.
     [I think that in some ways (4) is a shame. I have been using the OF Collect for S John Henry Newman, simply changing presbyterum to confessorem. BUT there may very well be rational folks around who are prepared, even if grudgingly, to accept the proposition that "Saint X" really is in heaven, yet rather dislike the grounds alleged in his Collect for his liturgical commemoration. When the Not very nice Ordo was invented, the text of some of its its Collects was one of the cracks through which the virus of error seeped theough into liturgical life. So I sense here a deft and judicious piece of Social Distancing ... at least two yards of it  ... between the Spirit of the Roman Rite and the Spirit of Hannibal Bugnini.]

Good on yer, Cardinal Ladaria. Nice one.

So, Fathers, you will need to use the Communia. You can select which Common, where the Missal provides alternatives. (Incidentally, there is no mention of beati.) Just think: each of you can devise his own Supplementum of post-Conciliar Popes and Saints, and compose his own Decree authorising himself to use it!! What more could a faithful presbyter want!!! The CDF Decree instructs you to observe these Saints on the day provided legislatively for the Universal Church. And, of course, you must avoid the dates of feasts on the List.

                                          HOW MANY TO CHOOSE?                  

Wikipaedia helpfully indicates 238 canonisations as having occurred since the date in 1960 specified (111 of them by S John Paul II). If any keen researcher had the energy to work through the data, it would be interesting to know how many of those 238 reached the Universal Calendar (a) as optional memorials, or (b) as compulsory memorials. And then to know if any of these collided ('Occurrence') with the Protected Feasts on the new List.

My only criticism of Cardinal Ladaria is that he didn't save eventual time and hassle by providing a place on the Calendar ... and fullest, fullest, propers ... for Pope S Francis I. I could have helped him to compose them ....

                                                 REJOICE, REJOICE

Three concluding observations.
(1) The Decree carefully explains how widespread its consultations have been (did they include the SSPX?). The corresponding Decree promulgating the 'new' Prefaces makes no such claim.

(2) Despite some levity in my above comments, I applaud the emphasis on Subsidiarity in this legislation. It carries on the radical application of Subsidiarity (which so infuriated poor Cardinal Cormac and his cronies) in Summorum Pontificum. For fascisti episcopali, 'Subsidiarity' tends to be glossed to mean 'All Power To Bishops And Especially To Me'.

(3) The Decree twice quotes the De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et Beatorum Canonizatione. Since the learned and admirable Prospero Lambertini wrote his magnificent treatise before his election as Benedict XIV, it is interesting to see it referred to in the footnotes as by 'Benedict XIV'. And it is nice to know that it now has full Magisterial status!! I had better nip along and tell him. Oops ... I forgot ... Ashmole is closed because of ... quo confugiemus ...

29 March 2020

Rededication (3)

The Prayer which Cardinal Merry del Val composed and which Leo XIII commended (and iindulgenced) in his Letter (1895) Ad Anglos, is very properly used as the basis of the prayers suggested for our use at the Rededication.

There is a certain naive but pleasing simplicity about the following prayer, composed probably by Fr Hope Patten, and for use on the site of the Priory High Altar. It is found in his 1928 (first) Pilgrims' Manual; possibly some of its wording may reflect the 'Prayer Book Controversies' of 1927-8.

I imagine that Walsingham, the shrines, the churches, the sites of the original Holy House and of the Priory, are shut down as I write this ... which, curiously, puts us all this morning into the same boat, of being able to be there in spirit only.

Pardon, O Lord God, the sacrilege of our forefathers, who, from greed, or fear, or any other motive, defiled Thy holy House. Here, in the holy pyx, Thy most sacred Body reposed; food at all times for the weary pilgrim, the whole and the sick. Lord Jesus Christ, we adore Thee present in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar throughout all the ages, on all the Altars of Christendom, where the blessed Eucharist has been, and is, reserved.

And to quote Erasmus: "O Khaire Iesou meter eulogemene, mone gunaikon theotokos kai parthenos ...
 ...   geras megiston aito, theosebe ten kardian pason t'hapax hamartion eleutheran. "

28 March 2020



 In the first Christian Millennium, It often happened that a liturgical book offered a proper preface for every single Mass formula. As well as the obvious references, I also offer you, in illustaration, our own Anglo-Roman Leofric Missal.

During the second Christian Millennium, the number of prfaces was drastically reduced.

After Vatican II, there was a new resurgence of prefaces (I don't know what the Conciliar Mandate was for this).

In 1759, Pope Clement XIII had extended the Trinity Preface to all Sundays not in the seasons of Christmas-Epiphany, Lent; and Easter-up-to-Trinity-Sunday-inclusively. Previously, the Common Preface would, fairly generally, have been used.


2015A had proposed to extend the 1738 Advent Preface to the entire world. It also floated the idea of a Preface for the Gesima Season; a Preface which I discussed at some length this year on February 8 and 9. I am not going to repeat that discussion here.

2020 does not repeat these suggestions. It thus in effect leaves the Trinity Preface to be used throughout Advent and "Pre-Lent". The "Note for the presentation" explains why.
The Congregation decided to provide "texts for particular occasions such as feasts of Saints, votive Masses or ad hoc celebrations, without making any changes to the celebration of the temporal cycle. This choice was made in order to safeguard, through the unity of texts, the unanimity of sentiments and of prayer that are appropriate for the confession of the mysteries of Salvation celebrated in what constitutes the backbone of the liturgical year. In addition, the historical development of the Corpus Praefationum of the Missale Romanum up until the middle of the 20th Century shows a general movement towards the use of new prefaces for occasional celebrations rather than for celebrations of the temporal cycle."

So the Gesima Preface never got lift-off; the Advent Preface of 1738, indicated in the SSPX French-language ORDO, goes AWOL.

But not necessarily for ever. "In addition, it should be noted that the Decree does not cancel any eventual concessions of proper Prefaces granted in the past, and therefore in those particular cases where there already exists, on the basis of preceding permissions, and for the same liturgical circumatance, a particular Preface, one may choose between that Preface and the newly approved text.".

It is not clear to me what this means. Is it looking to 'eventual' regrants of a preface such as the 1738 Advent Preface; or ("already exists") affirming the abiding validity of old grants?


In my unhumble opinion, the sensible and real choices are either to argue
(1) that the CDF should be asked to reconsider the matter of the Advent and Pre-Lent Prefaces; or
(2) that the Roman Rite, with its severely and primitive binitarian instincts, does not favour the imposition of a Trinitarian character on most of the Sundays of the year, so we should go back to the pre-1759 situation and use simply the Common Preface on Sundays through Advent and Pre-Lent; or
(3) that Sunday is by nature Trinitarian; as long ago as the pre-Gregorian exemplar which Moelcaich the scribe of the Stowe Missal copied, the preface has had a Trinitarian character ... rather as it does in the Byzantine Rite. So ... back to Clement XIII.

On Monday, Dv, I shall discuss the Calendar in the new Decrees.

27 March 2020

The Dowry Dedication (2)

Possibly the concluding part of the prayers suggested to us is regarded as loosely based on Erasmus: "O alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin most pure, sinful as we are, we come to see you who are all pure, we salute you, we honour you as how we may with our humble offerings. May thy Son grant us, that imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Spirit may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul, and once conceived never to lose Him. Amen."

If so, I would observe that "Mother and Virgin" does not quite cature the Erasmian "theotokos kai parthenos". "We come to see you" has a suburban ring to it; "We honour you as how we may" seems to me a curious piece of English; and, most curiously of all, in the first sentence we have " ... you ... you ...you ..."; in the second sentence, " ... thy ... thy ...". It looks to me as though somebody has been doing some very hurried cutting and pasting.  



The CDF, which now has competence with regard to the Old Mass, has recently issued two decrees. I will refer to them as 2020.

They were approved in audientia by the Roman Pontiff on December 5 last year; they were promulgated on 23 February; and came into force ... in secret! ... on 19 March; and are now, since Wednesday, on the Internet. Although, last time I looked, the full texts promised seemed not to be there. Interesting delays. I wonder if they are now being published because newsgatherers are otherwise preoccupied ... I say this because there are some very good features in these events!

Firstly ... that there is movement with regard to the Old Rite. Some will find this paradoxical; do we really need change? But there never never never has been, in the Roman Rite, as long a period as 1960-2020, in which there have been no changes. A Liturgy set immutably in granite is profoundly untraditional! And these Decrees make clear that the Old Mass really is here to stay. I suspect that this fact will infuriate many trendies. Furthermore, all the provisions now being made are optional; nobody is being bullied; and so the Gamaliel Principle will be allowed to prevail.

And one at least of the 'new' Prefaces goes directly against the "Official Theology" (Professor Tom Pink's neat term) which has prevailed since the 1970s.


(1) In 2015, some confidential proposals went round from Ecclesia Dei, recommending seven new Prefaces; and, rather more tentatively, suggesting seven more. I shall refer to these proposals as 2015A and 2015B.
(2) There has long been a group of Prefaces called colloquially the Neo-Gallican Prefaces, found (among other places) in the Paris Missal of 1738. One of these was commandeered in 1919 by Benedict XV as the Preface for the Dead; a group of them has long been authorised and used by Francophone dioceses given the faculty to do so. The French missions of the SSPX have used this group and, according to their ORDO, still do. I will refer to these 'Parisian' Prefaces as 1738..

Now for the new Decree. I will list the seven prefaces it promulgates.
(a) the Blessed Sacrament;
(b) All Saints and Patrons;
(c) the Dedication of a church.

All three of these are 1738, and currently in use by the SSPX.

(d) for Weddings. This is not in the group used by the SSPX, but it is a very fine preface found in 1738 and coming ultimately from the Hadrianum and the Gelasianum vetus. I can see no reason not to welcome it with open arms. Only a bigot would spurn it because it had the misfortune also to appear in the Novus Ordo.
(e) the Angels. From the Novus Ordo. It is a retouched version ("ritoccata" is the word people use in Rome) of a Preface in the Verona Sacramentary. It seems to me commonplace. I doubt if I shall use it.
(f) S John Baptist. Now ... here's an oddity ... neither 2015A nor 2015B contained a preface for this most important Saint. I could never understand why.
    You see, the group of Neo-Gallican Prefaces used by the SSPX does contain a Preface for S John from 1738. In fact, it goes back well beyond 1738, being found in the Verona Sacramentary and the Supplementum.
    The Preface now (2020) provided is a Novus Ordo revision of this ancient formula.
    I have been using the 1738 Preface. But I think I will accept this new version of it instead. After all, when the Preface for S Joseph was authorised by Benedict XV, it was a completely new composition. If Benedict XV could do that in 1919, I don't see how I can refuse Francis I the right to do this in 2020. Neither theoretically nor practically am I a sedevacantist.
(g) Martyrs. A Novus Ordo Preface cobbled together from three old ones. (It appeared in 2015B.) I dislike this characteristically 1960s way of carrying on. I shall not use it.

What about the Prefaces commended in 2015A? That list contained (a), (b), (c) and (e). Also, a Novus Ordo one for Saints which has now happily vanished. Also, an Advent Preface (1738) and one for the Gesimas (Novus Ordo retouching of a very old and elegant Preface). I will discuss the interesting non-appearance of these two in 2020 in my next section.

To be continued.

26 March 2020

Euripides; and the National Rededication to our Lady of Walsingham (1)

On Sunday March 29, we are to rededicate this kingdom of England to our blessed Lady. Today and the next two days are a triduum of devotion in preparation for that event.

The prayers circulated for use are said to be based upon Erasmus' Prayer to our Lady ... I'm not quite sure which parts of the formula draw upon Erasmus.

In the Anglican Pilgrims' Manual at Walsingham, the first edition of which was put together in 1928 by Fr Hope Patten when the Shrine was still in the Parish Church, is given a somewhat mangled text of the Vow which Erasmus composed for his 1511 pilgrimage to our Blessed Lady (the self-same year that a bare-foot Henry VIII made the pilgrimage: see lines 7-8). That Manual does not reveal that the original was a delightful exercise in perfect Attic Greek iambic trimetra. Here is a complete if wooden translation; I spotted the Greek text, by the way, while browsing through the Merton Priory copy of Erasmus in Bodley. (vide The Life of Erasmus, 1726, Appendix page xliv)

Hail! Jesus' Mother, blessed,
Alone of women God-bearing and Virgin,
Others give to thee other gifts,
This man gold, that man again silver,
5. Yet another brings and offers freely precious stones
In return for which they ask in return, some, health of body,
Others, wealth, and some hope for their wives
To conceive, that they have the lovely name of Father.
Some of them hope to obtain lives as long as [Nestor] the Old Man of Pylos.
10. But I, a poet, devoted but poor,
Bringing verses - for I cannot bring anything else -
Beg as a return for my worthless gift,
The greatest prize, a devout heart
Free once for all of all sins.

This is a reworking of the Greek topos, going back through Horace to Sappho, which Eduard Fraenkel (whom in a wondrous benefaction Adolf Hitler sent to Oxford to transform Classical studies here) taught us to call a priamel; "Some .... Some ... Some ... but I ... ". And, in this text, we find also the old convention of the Poor Poet.

Did Erasmus read his poem aloud by the flickering lights in the Holy House in Tudor Walsingham? I like to imagine that he did; to think of the New Learning, the Renaissance world, there at our Lady's feet; to imagine that funny little Dutchman as he murmured verses that Euripides could have written ... if only Euripides had been a Catholic Christian. Which he would have been if ...

25 March 2020


Are the senior Archangels punsters? S Gabriel certainly was; he hailed our blessed Lady with the words Khaire kekharitomene (incidentally I consider it highly probable that the Holy Family, and the Twelve, were Greek-speaking).

The second of those two words is a Greek perfect participle passive. Perfect participles in Greek refer to a present state which is the result of a past action (like our English expressions "the married" and "the dead"). So the word means that Mary is a having-been-graced-person; as the result of her Immaculate Conception (in the past) she is (now) crammed full of grace. Christine Mohrmann tells us that "several early translations, the North African Codex Palatinus (e), as well as the European , perhaps Illyrian, translation of Codex q29, render the words of St Luke ... by ave gratificata!

This Latin word looks exactly like a Latin equivalent of that Greek perfect participle passive. Mohrmann points out that words formed like this "were very popular in Early Christian Latin ... [i]n this way, one single word was sufficient to reproduce the full meaning of the Greek ... one cannot dismiss the early Bible translations as clumsy products of semi-literates, as is too often done in Classically minded phililogical circles."

It is, I am sure, no coincidence that the next paper in this Collection, Volume III of Mohrmann's collected papers, is her deservedly celebrated 1947 hatchet job in Vigiliae Christianae on the disgraceful new translation of the Psalms concocted by Cardinal Bea at the instigation of Pius XII. She quotes Bea's words advocating "Una Traduzione latina dei salmi che ... si attenga al vocabulario, alla grammatica e allo stile di quel migliore periodo della latinita", i.e. the Augustan period.

I'm sure they used to say in German seminaries, "Sancte Tulli, ora pro nobis" and "Sancte Horati, ora pro nobis.". I wonder what they say nowadays.

24 March 2020


I wonder if anybody knows of computer links to Old Rite, pre-Bugnini Chrism Masses this year?

I don't do Facebook and all the other smart things; I can just about slowly google my way to places on my aged computer.

How about the Archbishop of Vaduz? What about their Excellencies the Bishops of the SSPX?

I'm not keen to look in on Sedevacantists.

Or ... perhaps ... nobody will be doing Chrism Masses this year. In which case: how about videos of (completely unreformed) Chrism Masses in previous years?

Our Lady and Passiontide

There is, I think, a little puzzlement, particularly among the liturgically literate, about the decision to rededicate this Kingdom of England to our Lady on Passion Sunday. O'Connell austerely remarks that, in Passiontide, "images are not to be uncovered on any pretext". Whichever apparatchik in the CBCEW bureaucracy induced Their Lordships to select this day must, surely, have been a rabid (but not unhumorous) anti-traditionalist. It would be jolly to find out who s/he was and to start a campaign to weed them out ... no;  I'm joking. I think I'm only joking ...

Amusingly, there are precedents for celebrating our Lady in Passiontide. After all, Friday after Passion Sunday would have been the celebration of the Dolorosa if the 1962 rite had been rather less ungenerous.

But I am principally alluding to middle-of-the-road Anglican precedents.

The Book of Common Prayer gives no instructions about what to do if the Annunciation falls on Good Friday or Passion Sunday.

There is some evidence that clergy of a certain brand of Churchmanship (how splendid it is that Roman Catholics now know what this nice old Anglican term means) preached on a combination of the Passion and of the Annunciation when such collisions occurred.

Because of the way the Calendar operates, there were during the Tractarian/Ritualist periods unusual clusters of years when such a combination presented itself. The Annunciation occurred on Good Friday in 1842, 1853, and 1864. It happened on Passion Sunday in 1849, 1855, and 1860.

In addition to those opportunities for preaching on the subject of our Lady's Sorrows, the "Three Hour Devotion" became popular in 'moderate' Anglican circles in the earlier twentieth century. One of the Seven Last Words which the homilist needed to expound was, of course, the Ecce Mater.

(This service was invented after an earthquake in Lima, Peru, by some Jesuit called Messia, and  reached Rome in 1788. In 1815 Pius VII even indulgenced it. Younger readers may need to be informed that, in those days, the Good Friday Mass of the Presanctified happened in the morning, and so the period from noon onwards was enticingly vacant. Anti-Catholic Anglican bishops were furious with their 'extreme' clergy who restored the Mass of the Presanctified, despite its very primitive origins and its Byzantine analogues. Their Lorships never tried to secure adherence to the elegant but austere Prayer Book provisions for Good Friday, but, although sarcastically heckled by Dom Gregory Dix, instead encouraged the Hispanic and Jesuit confection of The Three Hours. A quick flip through The Alternative Service Book, Lent Holy Week and Easter, and Common Worship has revealed not a surviving whisper of this once almost universal paraliturgy. In their 1989 book on The Sacrament of Easter, Roger Greenacre and Herr Flick of the Gestapo referred ironically to the previous "surprising popularity" of the Peruvian Jesuit Three Hours.)

A practical suggestion: since the Not very nice Ordo does not peremptorily require the veiling of images during Passiontide, in churches where both versions of the Roman Rite are in use, our Lady could, just this year and for the Rededication, be left unveiled ... thus using visual symbolism to mark and emphasise this special year ...

23 March 2020


Satan has an ingenious capacity for drawing Evil out of what is good.

But our gracious Redeemer draws Good out of what is not good.

Bishops all over the place have been suggesting that clergy, unable to offer Mass with their congregations, should celebrate privately (sine populo).

This is thoroughly, entirely, admirable. And in a most grave way, it reminds clergy, who may not all have remembered this, that each offering of the Adorable Sacrifice has its own impetrative power in the sight of the Divine Majesty. They should celebrate every possible day, with or without lay presence.

Latrunculi are using the Internet to suggest that this is Bad. They claim or imply that it is contrary to Vatican II.

That is a lie. Sacrosanctum Concilium, para 57 authorises Concelebration (in limited circumstances ... we won't go ino that now) but adds that every priest retains the facultas of offering a Missam singularem.

And readers might like to reflect upon the Patrimonial teaching of Canon Professor Eric Mascall to the effect that no Mass is really private, because a Mass said by a priest alone is "as corporate as High Mass sung in St Peter's in Rome by the Pope in the presence of five hundred bishops and twenty thousand of the laity. For it is the act of Christ in the Corpus Mysticum, his Body, which is the Church". As he says, "the unity and the corporateness of the Mass are made not by men but by God."

The best construction I can put on current misrepresentatoions is that the people peddling these untruths read the Conciliar Decrees a very long time ago (if they read them at all); have by now forgotten what they actually contain; and are in subjective good faith when they claim that their own fads are part of the Conciliar mandate.

It is a good idea for lay people as well as clerics, who may be drawn into liturgical conversations, to have a translation handy of Sacrosanctum Concilium so that, when dishonest or ignorant claims are made about what the Council ordered, they can invite an interlocutor to show them where "the Decree actually says that".

Mr President Routh of Magdalen College once advised people to verify their references. It is a very sound attitude. But, quite possibly, German 'Liturgists' have not even heard of Routh ...


(1) The recent decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship etc. extends, just for this year, faculties to every priest to offer Mass privately on Maundy Thursday. It suppresses, for this year, the Foot-washing.

(2) In addition to all the good advice in many admirable places, I remind readers of the old Catholic custom of genuflecting, before one hops into bed, in the direction of the nearest Tabernacle. Unless, being German 'liturgists' you do not know where it is ... or, indeed, what ...

22 March 2020


Forget "Mothering Sunday" ... the compilers of the Naughty Ordo abolished "Mothering Sunday" when they proscribed today's ancient Epistle reading from Galatians ... S Paul at his coruscating best.

Almost unbelievable, isn't it? An ancient observance thoroughly, profoundly 'inculturated' into modern life ... and despite that, they just went and ...

Bandits, latrunculi, that's what they were.

That Galatians reading owes its selection to the fact that today's statio is at the Roman titular Church of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, built and endowed by S Helen (Patron Saint of my own proud ancestral Colonia Claudia Victricensis) on top of loads of soil carted back from Jerusalem-in-Palestine. In and for the Church of Rome, this is Jerusalem-upon-Tiber. And the ancient Epistle reading is the passage from Galatians 4 about the Jerusalem from above which is our true heavenly home; our Mother.

It is true that this is a long passage which needs careful explanation from a well-informed homilist. That is presumably why, in the abortive Anglican Prayer Book of 1928, an optional alternative was offered. But that was itself a paragraph from Hebrews on the same theme. Don't blame the Anglicans for this!

And today's Gospel, in the lectionary once used throughout Northern Europe, is repeated on the last Sunday before Advent (see blog 24 November 2019); with its eschatological teaching about the Inclusion of Israel. I wonder if, conceivably, we are to see the point here as, according to Abbot Rupert, the point is there: the five loaves are the five books of the Pentateuch which the Lord will break open for Israel. (So Sarum Use worshippers got this passage twice a year; Naughty Ordo worshippers get it once every three years.)

In the Naughty Ordo, the passage from Galatians is shoved off onto a Monday in alternate years. Even so, the Bandits decided it was Hottish Stuff, so they omitted  some verses (Galatians chapter 4 verse 25 and verses 28-30). I was going to lay this out neatly for you, when I remembered that in Index Lectionum by the admirable Matthew Hazell (anybody who wants to take any interest in the perversion of the Biblical Lectionary which dates from the late 1960s ABSOLUTELY needs this book) the work on the Mothering Sunday Epistle is already done for you in his Introduction by Professor Peter he-always-gets-it-right Kwasniewski (another reason why you need this volume).

So: suffice it to summarise: the Naughty omissions blunt the teaching that the Believing-Jews+Believing-Gentiles-Community (meaning us, the Catholic Church) has displaced in the divine dispensation the Unbelieving Jews as well as the Unbelieving Gentiles.

21 March 2020

Are Boris's Measurements increasing?

A hackette on the Beeb, meaning (I hypothesise) to speak about the measures which HM Government is taking, kept referring to them as 'measurements'.

Irony Trigger Warning. It looks as though many of the Young, confident that the Plague will do them no harm, are careless of the longevity of their elders.

Could the National Rifle Association ship us some semi-automatics across the water so that we can do a bit of a cull of our Yooff?


Ar Mass today, we have the marvellous story of Susanna and the Elders, paired with the narrative called the pericope de adultera, now found at the beginning of John 8 (whether or not it has always been part of the text of S John's Gospel, it does of course come to us from Holy Mother Church as part of canonical scripture; I have sometimes fantasised about how congregations would react if one announced it as Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Hebraeos).

I wonder how Mass-goers ... and my reverend brethren in the Sacred Priesthood ... would analyse this pairing. Would one, for example, say that in the Writings, an innocent woman is saved from a false accusation based upon lust, while in the Gospel a guilty woman is saved from the punishment she deserved and warned not to sin again? Or is there more to it than this?

Hippolytus saw the Susanna story typologically: the bath which she had prepared foretells the Bath of Baptism and her Ointments look to the anointing with Chrism. (The statio, by the way, was ad Sanctam Susannam ... the Christian Susanna was a martyr under Diocletian.)

I often wonder what degrees of correlation paired lections are meant to inculcate. Last Saturday, we had the story of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 27:6-40) combined with the parable of the Prodigal Son. Was the link there simply 'Two Stories of Two Sons who were at odds'?

Whatever the Lord meant by that parable, I have a sneaking suspicion that S Luke saw a relevance to the Jew/Gentile question with which he was to deal throughout his Acts. The elder brother, like the unbelieving Jews, resented the welcome given to his brother, symbolising Gentile Repentance.

Should we see the Esau-narrative as vindicating God's free choice; his sovereign elective purpose which does not always select the 'obvious' candidate? Esau, of course, was to be the ancestor of the Edomites; his father Isaac erred in purposing to give his Blessing to Esau. Rebecca's somewhat devious manipulations had the purpose of setting things back on the right track, the track that led through Jacob and his Twelve Sons.

Ultimately, might there again be an allusion here to God's Call, in the fulness of His time, to the Gentiles?

20 March 2020


Mindful of admonitions about Social Distancing, I looked out of my garden and ascertained that I could get to the large open space a hundred yards away without going anywhere near a human being at all ... let alone within two yards. I made the dash in safely; and started to walk through a part-time cow-field.

He came up behind me quite unheard: not, sadly, a friendly bull, but a jogger. In this big open empty space, acres in which he could gambol and frolic, the young man swept past me within inches of my right elbow. With a spasm of irritation, I swerved out of the 'wake' of his 'droplets' and pursued a different trajectory.

I think, for many people, coronavirus is some tedious background noise which they barely hear. Paradoxically, this chap probably sees his jogging as 'healthy', yet ...

But should I have worried, still less felt my (only too shamefully characteristic) irritation? Should I not have been prepared, with resignation, simply to "accept God's will"?

Well, perhaps. But I'm not sure. On Thursday, the Solemnity of S Joseph coincided with the beata solemnitas (so described!) of Ss Cosmas and Damian, the Silverless Physicians whose cultus so graciously unites both East and West. Many brother priests may have read the Gospel of the Mass of those twin popular health-workers and martyrs as the Last Gospel of the Mass of S Joseph. In it, we have the account of S Peter's Mother-in-law (penthera) being cured of her fever (puretos); we hear about the crowds who came to the Lord be healed ... and were not turned away. We are, surely, hardwired by a beneficent Creator to seek our physical health as a licit and attainable good. Indeed, loving care of our own bodies is a Christian duty.

But bodily 'health' is not an ultimate and overriding good.

The period towards the end of the 500s had seen a Roman plague which took off S Gregory's papal predecessor Pelagius with many of his flock ... as well as other catastrophes such as the murderous incursions of the Lombards ... who are now back in our News! The woes of this period undoubtedly left their mark on the liturgies of the 'Gesima' Sundays and, I suspect, of Lent itself. And in these liturgical formularies, we constantly hear the refrain, taken from the Law the Prophets and the Writings: we are being justly afflicted for our iniquities, have mercy upon us. The Church's teaching appears to be communitarian rather than individualistic. What was true of ancient Israel is true of today: as a community we have sinned; as a community we are being punished.

This, in my opinion, is the teaching which we need and which we are given. I see no point in curious questions about how a 'loving God' can 'allow' such things. Ultimately, I feel, such demands imply an anthropomorphic Deity imagined as a kindly old gent or gentess who doesn't want anybody ever to feel miserable.We should cease cataphatic demands for explanations; and attempt to be a bit more apophatic.

Meanwhile, with the Holy People of God now banned in many places from the August Sacrifice, I sense a particular personal involvement, as I offer that Sacrifice, in the burdens, desires, and prayers of millions of lay people. We are not physically together, but the Victim which lies upon my paten is your Victim too. Today, tomorrow, and for as long as God gives me to offer It.

May God bless and keep all of you ... all of us.

19 March 2020

Possibly, not the only way of introducing the Extraordinary Form!

The great Fr Bernard Walke describes his introduction a century ago of what we so happily used to call the Western Rite, sometimes known nowadays as the Extraordinary Form, to his Cornish Anglican parish:

"On that first Sunday after my induction the people of St Hilary flocked to church and found, in the place of a clergyman reading 'Dearly beloved', a strange figure in vestments at the altar with a little boy who knelt at his side. Many were watching for the first time the drama of the Mass. They were there as spectators who watch a play with a symbolism and language unknown to them. Man cries for redemption: Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison. God answers man's despairing cry in the opening words of the Gloria in excelsis proclaiming the advent of the promised Saviour, but still they do not understand.

"'Whatever is he doing up there now?' they say. 'Can 'e make it out at all?' The summit of the drama is reached when, the whole company of heaven having been summoned to man's aid, the words of consecration are spoken and bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus who offered himself on the Cross at Calvary. They are aware of the silence, broken by the ringing of a bell. 'Did 'e hear the bell? what is that for, my dear?' they whisper. The bell rings again at the Domine non sum dignus. There are a few who kneel in wonder at what is being accomplished; it is for them a moment of prayer such as they have never experienced before."

Over the decades, Fr Walke built up a strong and devoted congregation in S Hilary's which stood by him even when proddy thugs arrived with pickaxes (I think they had been encouraged by the Privy Council rather than by the Tablet).

Courage, Fathers! Tharseite!

18 March 2020


The Beeb had an interview with a woman emerging from a supermarket, who said: "I haven't panicbuyed." What an amusing example of subverting a fashion and distancing oneself  by parodic allusion and comic polyptoton. I simply had no idea that such sophisticated people did their shopping in Aldi.

Then the newsreader went on to tell us that somebody had criticised Mr Trump for referring to"The Chinese virus".

President Trump is not really my cup of tea. But I would have thought that, in the current crisis, even PCLG, the Politically Correct Linguistic Gestapo, might have had something better to rabbit on about than their own petty little preoccupations.

Considering the Meejah more generally, I have to say that our TV has very little news apart from members of the chattering classes endlessly pontificating about you-know-what. Some of them say "Y'know" as many as five times in a single sentence. I feel like shouting at the screen "I do NOT know".

What's that you say? Now it's me rabbiting on about my own petty little preoccupations?

Philology is never a petty little matter.

I will not enable comments which inform me that "petty little" is tautologous.

17 March 2020


Throughout most of the twentieth century, Catholic theological expositors of Eucharistic Dogma were concerned to deny that the Church's teaching, as expounded by Trent and subsequently, did in fact fall into one quite horrible late Medieval error. Be you a Masure or a Vonier, you constructed your theology of the Sacrifice so as to be able to plead Not Guilty to a charge that you regarded it as a New Sacrifice; that you believed in a Christ who was sacrificed anew, slaughtered upon the Altar, each day. Because ... we have to admit it ... that is what those benighted Medievals did believe.

Or did they? There have long been Catholic writers who have in fact questioned whether the medievals really did fall into that terrible error. As a matter of History, so they argue, this error was never prevalent. It is part of a Protestant determination to produce an alibi for the hysteria towards the Most August Sacrament of the Altar ... with all the concomitant vandalism and murder ... which the 'Reformers' encouraged.

What not many people tend to notice is that, according to the Rite of Sarum, when, at the Offertory, the celebrant offered (together) the charged chalice and paten, he said a prayer which began Suscipe sancta Trinitas ... and ended In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, acceptum sit omnipotenti Deo hoc sacrificium novum. [God is asked to accept "this new Sacrifice"]. So, it seems, the Medievals were guilty.

Or were they? The 'reformers', as they harried Catholic priests to their deaths, sometimes advanced the entertaining ad hominem argument that they were self-condemned, since they actually claimed that they slaughtered Christ! ("Worse than the Jews, who only killed him once!") There are undoubtedly easy ways of avoiding this convenient conclusion. The Sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary, perpetually pleaded on high before the Throne of Grace and present mystikos upon our altars, is a new sacrifice in as far as it replaced and replaces (supersession) what some of the old secrets call the differentias hostiarum, the complex of different sacrifices prescribed by and under the Torah. Calvary ... and the Eucharist ... conjointly, in that sense, are a new Sacrifice in as far as they are the Sacrifice Novi et Aeterni Testamenti.

16 March 2020

S Eanswythe and the cult of relics.

The discovery/identification of the Relics of S Eanswythe, Virgin and Abbess, in Folkestone Anglican parish church (see post of about a week ago), seems to me an excellent opportunity to teach the importance of Relics, as they are understood among Latin Christians, Byzantines and Copts. The glorious truth that God himself took a 'body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man's nature'; that he redeemed by his Incarnation the material Universe; that he continues to operate through the tangible and visible realities of material things; that the Relics of the Saints are potent foretastes of the Resurrection of the Body ... these are not peripheral sentiments but right at the heart of our Faith.

And the relics of S Eanswythe could powerfully focus teaching upon the importance of the Religious Life and of the majesty of Consecrated Virginity.

The spread of Relics (accompanied by repeated subdivision) throughout the Christian world, sometimes despised by clevers as superstitious or even 'medieval', also performed a real service in bringing Christians together; in creating a universal Christian commonwealth; in cementing an understanding that we are all knit together in one communion and fellowship.

Relic-collecting should never be despised or viewed as an embarrassment to enlightened modern Christians. When I was pp of S Thomas the Martyr iuxta ferriviam in Oxford, I took the parish on pilgrimage to Walsingham, where the Anglican Shrine has a very fine collection of Relics. As well as kneeling at the feet of our blessed Lady, we had the joy of venerating a substantial relic of our Patron S Thomas of Canterbury. In other words, we went on pilgrimage not only to England's 'Nazareth', but to 'Canterbury' ... all the more truly so because at (the 'real') Canterbury the site of the original Shrine is a large, eloquent, and ignoble void.

It would be good to be able to venerate S Eanswythe at the Anglican or the Catholic Shrine in Walsingham. Or at Brompton or Westminster. But I wonder how this could be secured.

A simple request, coming from Anglo-Catholics or Roman Catholics, would almost certainly be declined. The true reason for this would be the residual (but very real) prejudice against Catholicism in the British Establishment. And, believe me, the dear old C of E is still part of that Establishment. But the reply to such a request would not simply be "No, because we still hate you". It would be wrapped up in legalese (possibly in appeals to legislation concerning the disposal of human remains). There is not a lot nowadays that Anglicans are much good at, but in the area of pompous hypocrisy they remain unrivalled. So their response would be letters of regret, deep, powerful, sympathetic expressions of sorrow. How Old Mother Damnable would have loved to respond positively, had it not been for this clause or that in the following statutes or statutory instruments ...

But ... I suggest a Cunning Ploy. There are the 'Orthodox'. Anglicans have long felt wetly sentimental about Separated Byzantines. They feel that 'Orthodoxy' is more ancient than Popery. Politically, they have a cosy sense that the existence of the Separated Eastern Churches is a useful apologetic defence against 'Rome'.

If the 'Orthodox' led on this one, I think the Anglicans would lean over backwards to be generous. They would, of course, need to have it explained to them that very small slivers of bone ... a couple of millimetres ... would be enough.

We would not (necessarily) want anything as generous as an entire toe.

Sancta Eanswida, ora pro nobis.

15 March 2020

Dominus ... er ... Episcopa ...

There was a letter in The Times the other week from a lady who described herself as "Lord Bishop of ..."

How diverting. Are the women who have been fast-tracked in droves onto the episcopal benches of the House of Lords to be deemed officially male? Or of fluid gender? Or has she self-identuified as male? If so, should she have availed herself of the fast-track-for-females provisions? That immensely readable Janice Turner, who writes so well in The Times on Saturdays, might have a view on the subject.

Will this ... person's ...  liturgical designation be as a "Right Reverend Father in God"? Will the legal ceremonies to put in place a female Archbishop (do you think they might have got the Mullarkey lined up to follow the Welby?) still refer to  ... er ... it ... as "the Most Reverend the Father in God"? With what pronouns will such liminal individuals be referred to in Lords' debates?

Women High Court Judges do not seem to crave this bizarre sexual indeterminacy. They are happy to be Ladies (Lady Hale, for example, retiring Chief Justice of the SCOTUK, seemed to have no problems about being a woman).

After 1559, the question arose of how the wives of Elizabeth Tudor's Protestant bishops should be addressed. Hitherto, the wife of a peer had, by age-old custom, borrowed noble staus from her husband. But Elizabeth Tudor didn't like the idea of these episcopussies being 'ladies'. Didn't like it at all! In our own time, might she have been transwomanphobic?

But ... come to think of it ... the speech Bloody Bess herself is alleged to have made at Tilbury might be evidence that the poor old thing thought that she had been "born into the wrong body".

That Ms Mantel should be able to tell us whether Thomas Cromwell was a transwoman ... or a transman ... or a cismurderer ...

14 March 2020

The Art of Translating, Christian-style

Yesterday being my birthday ... I am now in my eightieth year ... but for how long ... I did what all right-thinking people do: I got out and reread an academic paper by Christine Mohrmann. I have quite a lot of her things on my shelves as the result of benefactions from two kind friends. One batch came from the library of Fr J O'Connell.

As I read the following, I thought how relevant it is to the dispositions of Liturgiam authenticam. And then the penny dropped ... this is dead relevant also to the enthusiasm of PF, poor old gentleman, for rewriting the Oratio Dominica, the Pater noster.

"It is a general characteristic of all early Latin Bible translations that they follow the original text (i.e. the text the translator had in front of him) as closely as possible. Fully conscious of the fact that they were dealing with consecrated texts, where every word had its meaning (often difficult for the human intellect to fathom), where, as Jerome will subsequently point out, even the word order conceals some mystery, the Latin translators proceeded with extreme care. They deliberately abandon the system of free translation, advocated by Cicero among others, and proceed word for word, thus conserving as much as possible, the stylistic and linguistic peculiarities of the original text. For the Latins this means as faithful a reproduction as possible, in extremely untraditional Latin, of Greek texts which were already somewhat exotic. This respectful awe of the text, stops the translator from taking any risks, so that, even in cases where it does not appear strictly necessary, they directly transcribe the Greek word. This system of translation continues a tradition of the Jewish translators and it is not impossible that the earliest Latin bible-translators were subject to direct Jewish influence, by the way of Jewish Christians or otherwise."

She goes on to discern "rabbinic influence". 

Interesting, that Dom Gregory Dix also had a penchant for detecting Hebrew influences in the earliest Christian liturgical evidences. (It was perhaps one of the reasons why he had a fraught relationship with pro-Hitler members of the British Establishment, including top bishops, in the 1930s [cf the Wendy House anecdote].)

13 March 2020

Linguistics: Is everything alright?

For a liitle while now, I have noticed that letters from civil servants often begin "Good Morning".

'Allo 'Allo!

I'm not doing one of my usual moanings. This mode of address is miles, leagues, better than those ghastly letters and emails beginning "Dear John", from people with whom I was unaware that I was on 'Christian name' terms. Especially when I have never seen them and have no desire to graduate to 'Christian Name' terms with them. And "Dear Sir or Madam" does seem horribly laboured. And, like most English clerics, I wince almost out of my skin at "Dear Reverend" or "Dear Reverend Hunwicke". The propagation of this particularly nasty vocative is, I think, the one thing I resent most about the intrusion of American culture, especially that of Whispering Glades.

I'm just curious. When did "Good Morning" start? Is it another Americanism?

But here is a thing I really do dislike: being addressed (especially when with my wife) by waiters as"Guys". I was brought up to identify 'guys' as a masculine term ... but, I suppose, increasing numbers of the rising generation are unfamiliar with "Sir" and "Madam", or would dislike implicitly identifying themselves as being of the 'servant' class. "Guys" is breezy, friendly, informal, egalitarian, sexless. I loathe it. I suspect this is an Americanism. Yes?

Nor do I enjoy the imperative "Enjoy". Since when was it proper for servants to give orders? And even if one is a host at a dinner party, it is customary to wait for one's guests to gush about how 'enjoyable' they found the food one set before them.

Most of all, I dislike being interrupted by waiters or waitresses with "Is everything alright?" They do this (1) if they spot that some member of a party is imparting information or telling a story; an anecdote, perhaps ... or especially a joke which needs careful structuring to ensure that necessary information is imparted and the climax neatly delivered. Being 'Waiters' they wait and watch carefully; then, at the most disruptive moment possible in the narrative, they walk up and shout loudly at the entire table "Is everything alright, guys?" Nobody, clearly, has ever suggested to these dim, gormless, mannerless, and witless children that it is Bad Manners to interrupt anybody, but especially one's elders.

And (2) they do it when I am just at the point of leaning over a table for two and looking into my Wife's eyes. Savonarola was never such a puritan as Modern Youthful Waiting Persons; their ethical antennae simply cannot tolerate the possibility of Affection being openly displayed, in foro publico, between heterosexual persons around the age of eighty. One can almost hear them thinking "The disgusting old man ... I'd better go and put a stop to that ...".

The Waiting Community does clearly have Principles, God bless them. I always feel how well-qualified I am to give them intimate advice about where I would very much like them to put their Principles and how long I would urge them to keep them there.

12 March 2020

Top University

A week or so ago, some website indicated which universities worldwide are 'top' in various subects. The Times reported that Oxford came top in eight faculties. That's nice, isn't it? It will give Mr Orator something to make a joke about at Encaenia in June when he delivers his Creweian Oration.

Unsurprisingly, Classics is one of the eight. But 'Natural Philosophy' does not exactly dominate the rest of the list, which may be the reason why the University's PR persons are being a bit reticent about publicising what precisely the eight subjects are ... although they do make clear that the Daughter University has not done nearly as well.

I am sorry to have to tell you that Theology is not one of the eight.

I wonder what the Master of Lazarus, the mighty Dr Gwynne, would have said to Archdeacon Grantley about that.

Or, indeed, Dr Pusey to Mr Keble.

I once used to have that Mr Arabin in the back of my cab ...

11 March 2020

Hand-shaking in Oxford

The onset of the Chinese Plague has engendered a feeling that shaking hands is a gracious gesture which may not be without its implications for the transmission of (what PF would call) Biodiversity.
I imagine there are readers who are not sorry to be spared the Sign of Peace, whether in the Liturgy or in social intercourse.

I am reminded of two (separate) passages in Gaudy Night (Dorothy Sayers, 1935).

(1) He got up and held out a hand.
"Peter ... what are you thinking about? One doesn't shake hands at Oxford."
"The elephant never forgets." He kissed her fingers gently. "I have brought my formal cosmopolitan courtesy with me ..."

(2) "I'll come and die upon the barricades."
"I think you would," said Miss Chilperic, astonishingly, and, in defiance of tradition, gave him her hand.

There can be few universities about which so much fiction  ... and even a little fact ... has been written ... can anybody remember any other allusions to such a 'tradition'?

10 March 2020

Rededication of England to our Lady

To help to keep us all in the right mood, I offer a few lines from the original Walsingham Pilgrimage hymn, composed, I think, in 1926 by Sir William Milner (replaced later by Fr Colin Stephenson's composition which, however, did retain these stanzas).

Till at last, when full measure of penance was poured,
In her home see the honour of Mary restored:
          Ave ....

Again 'neath her image the tapers shine fairt,
In her children's endeavours past wrongs to repair.
          Ave ...

Again in her home her due honour is taught:
Her name is invoked, her fair graces besought:
          Ave ...

9 March 2020

S Eanswythe

Media reports indicate that some bones, found in a lead box within a church wall (Church of S Mary and S Eanswythe, Folkestone) are seventh century, and therefore have a very decent chance of being the relics of S Eanswythe, Abbess, Princess of the Royal House of Kent, grand-daughter of King Ethelbert, Kent's first Christian monarch.

May she pray for us.

I like to recall that there was a kingdom of Kent before there was an England, let alone a Yewkay, and that the Primacy S Gregory established at Canterbury made that corner of England an outpost of specifically and intensely Roman Christianity.

May S Eanswythe indeed pray for us!

In the magnificent rose-coloured Cathedral at Kirkwall in the Orkneys, it appears that when the Presbyterian Reformation struck, they put their relics in boxes and placed them behind masonry. These included the relics of S Magnus the Martyr. What a happy afternoon I spent there in the company of Fr Michael Mary and the admirable Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay.

May S Magnus pray for us!

That devoted antiquary Adolph Hitler made a valuable contribution to the study of Reformation Exeter by uncovering a collection of votive offerings which had been walled up by the tomb of bishop Lacey. Lacey was never canonised ... the Reformation came too soon ... but he had a lively cultus among the common folk. The protestant Dean, Dr Simon Heans, did his best to suppress this devotion and, indeed, vandalised the monument, but his canonical colleagues got him locked up for 'Lutheranism'.

May Bishop Lacey pray for us!

8 March 2020

International Women's Day

Oh dear. It is a terrible obligation to feel that has to spend 24 hours oppressing women, since the message being sent out is that this is what every other male is doing. Where can a retiring shy chap like me find oppressible women? How does one distinguish them from normal women?

'The Old Testament' ... the 'OT' ...

I refer to the the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings ...

The tradition of the Roman Church through very much of two millennia was that there were no OT readings at Sunday Mass. But, through certain times, particularly Lent, the reading before the Gospel in the old rite is from the OT on all weekdays. (Last week, being an Ember Week as well, we had eleven such OT readings.)

Those accustomed to the Old Mass will have noticed that the Missal tells us, each day in Lent, what the 'Stational Church' was. I believe that at S John Cantius they have devised ingenious and edifying ways of bringing this alive in their liturgy! But my purpose today is to point out what these 'stational' arrangements really teach us.

These days were days when the whole Roman Church gathered together with the Pontiff to celebrate Mass together. Pope, presbyters, and people prayed and celebrated Lent corporately.

This meant that the plebs sancta Dei did get a substantial exposure to the OT. The fact that these arrangements are not today part of the life even of most 'traddy' Catholics is inevitable but, I think, suboptimal.

A couple of rather obvious suggestions:
(1) If you are fortunate enough to have access to the Old Roman Rite on a daily basis, take advantage of this!!
(2) Otherwise, perhaps you could find time to read the weekday Lenten lections ... carefully and liturgically? (You might do this by 'labiating'; that is, moving your tongue and lips as you read ... just as your clergy do when saying their Office. Otherwise, 'reading' can so easily degenerate into 'casting the eyes down the page'.)

Looking ahead, I hope a time may come when the place of the OT in the Roman Rite will be reconsidered. This is not the time to do that: so many people were so wounded by the corrupt and illegal changes made to the Western Liturgy after the Council that fiddling around now would be unpastoral and inopportune. But, until 1962, Liturgy was not unchangeable ... it evolved graduallyand organically and according to type and in accordance with genuinely Catholic principles.

It would be possible for OT readings to be added to the Epistles and Gospels in the Missal of S Pius V.

In fact, a suitable such table was devised in 1965 ... in the Church of England. Readers will be aware that the Sunday Epistles and Gospels in the Book of Common Prayer are the same as those in the Missal of S Pius V*. So the OT readings offered in that Anglican list might be appropriate accompaniments to the authentic Roman Rite.


*There are some dislocations due to the fact that the Anglican Epistles and Gospels follow a lectionary which was widely common in Catholic Medieval Northern Europe but not quite the same as that used in Southern Europe. But this is a minor detail easily accommodated.

7 March 2020

Episcopus Rutupiensis

March 7, the good old Roman Feast of Ss Perpetua and Felicity. On this day in 2002, Keith Newton was consecrated Bishop of Richborough, Rutupiae, that being one of the harbours which served Canterbury and probably provided the route by which S Augustine of Rome, commissioned by Pope Gregory I 'the Great', entered upon his mission territory. Keith, of course, went on to be, and is, our first Ordinary.

The years before the erection of the Ordinariate were thus, rather charmingly, designed by Providence (and I wonder, by whom else) to call to mind the pure Romanitas of the nascent Anglo-Saxon Church. Augustine planted in England the pure Roman Rite; give or take a few details, the Rite some rather strangely call the Extraordinary Form. This was, of course, the fall-back rite of the dear old Anglo-papalist movement in which the older among us grew up. Dix explained to us "a certain timelessness about the eucharistic action and an independence of its setting, in keeping with the stability in an ever-changing world of the forms of the liturgy themselves. ..." I can make my own Dix's words: "This very morning I did this with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed."

S Augustine went on to create at Canterbury a 'little Rome', his Cathedral sharing its dedication with the Lateran Basilica in Rome; the 'Abbey' representing the burial basilicas of the Apostles Peter and Paul; and S Mary's witnessing to the Roman Church of that dedication. The elegant building in Warwick Street, the Ordinariate's Principal Church, reminds us of these things now by its dedication of the S Gregory who sent us the Faith.

We do, of course, have our Ordinariate Missal, which ingeniously marries elements of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, and even nods towards the oeuvre of Thomas Cranmer. But hard-wired into our DNA is that old Roman Rite, the rite of the 'Celtic' saints (vide Stowe) as well as of the Monks from the Caelian Hill; the rite of Hope Patten and Fynes Clinton, of Hole and Baverstock and all the rest of them, confessors within the separated Provinces of Canterbury and York of the pure Catholic and Roman Faith.

What is our 'Patrimony'?

Quite simply, the Rome of all Ages; the unchanging Rome of the Authentic Rule. As ever, those nostalgic phrases "Western Rite" and "Full Catholic Privileges" embody our raison d'etre.

What a shame that, back in the C of E, we did let that culture slip away, for a few decades after the Council, when many among us were sadly persuaded that, because some Roman authorities had diluted their sacred inheritance, we should change too.

But I thank God that, at the heart of our Patrimony are that Faith and that Rite which, for more than half a century, came to us between the covers of the Missale Romanum and its mediating handmaid, The English Missal.

6 March 2020

Liberation Theology

When Traditionalists attack Liberation Theology, I often wish they would take the trouble to make distinctions. For example: between the two very differently focussed CDF statements on the subject. Between those parts of LT which are within the Tradition, and those which manifestly derive from the transient silliness of Cultural Marxism. It is worth remembering that Cardinal Mueller is an expert in just this subject. It is not, and should not be, a dead theological topic.

Father Ernesto Cardenale sought from PF and was granted the restoration of his priestly faculties. He has recently died; his funeral was disgracefully disrupted by manic lefties who regard him as a Traitor.

My generation remembers the memorable scene when, as a Sandinista cabinet minister, he knelt to be blessed by S John Paul II ... and received instead  a paternal admonition to 'regularise' his relationship with the Church. But this hero of the liberationists, when the time came, saw that Liberation Theology had been manipulated into being just another cheap Latino tyranny. And he condemned it strongly.

Hence the shouts of "Traitor".

I think we should be open to those parts of PF's Amazon Exhortation which touch upon the ruthless exploitation of the Amazon lands by financial interests. It is a shame that the current Deutsche Christen campaign to replace Catholicism with a Volksreligion based on Liberalism, Relativism, the Zeitgeist, and a sexually promiscuous bourgeois lifestyle, has so successfully focussed discussion on ridiculous irrelevancies like 'Women Deacons'. It is, of course, yet another example of the skill of the Enemy.

It is not for us to Judge the balance between the good and the evil in any human life. But I pray that the good which Ernesto Cardenal did; his own priestly offering of the August Sacrifice; the boundless merits of the Redeemer; may intercede for this priest of God before the Throne of Mercy.

God bless him; God purge him; God rest him.

And may he pray for us.

The New Sin: why I blinked three times

On that La Croix website which, I believe, is associated with Mickens and Faggioli et alia talia, I saw this superb thing ... in effect, the proclamation (as in one of Mgr Knox's pieces of fun) of a New Sin:

"Undermining the credibility of what is attributed to the pope in the press."

Magnifique, yes? Hilarious?

Bless me Father for I have undermined ...

5 March 2020

Titian's Poesie (2): Danae and the Shower of Gold

Before Titian painted the Danae which he sent to London to our late sovereign liege lord Philip, King of England, France, Ireland and Spain, he had painted an earlier version which is now in the Capodimonte in Naples. It was a tadge more modest than the later London/Madrid version; an expanse of linen sheet broke the enticing line of Danae's thigh. Another change which Titian made for his commission from King Philip was the insertion of Danae's nutrix or trophos: elderly women, and especially wetnurses devoted to the child they had suckled, were often figures of fun in Comedy and Tragedy. This trophos is stretching out a garment to try to collect as much as possible of the shower of gold ... a shower which was Juppiter ipse. Witty, yes? Ovidianissimum, yes?

Some three decades ago, a student of mine visited the museum in Naples and very kindly brought me back a glossy and profusely illustrated book called Forbidden Pompei. Ah, the impertinent benefactions of students! It is a wooden and highly unidiomatic translation of an original Italian; I would characterise its English style as Hilariously Comical were I not aware that the translator probably knew more English than I can claim to know Italian. The book begins:

"The pornographic collection was made up in 1819 on request of Francesco 1st, duke of Calabria who, during his visit to the Museum, thought of being right in closing all obscene objects, of any material, down in a room, where only aged and moral people had access. ... It lasted in a such more or less visible manner, up to 1849, when the hypocrite religiousness of Government agents caused hard directions, in order to close down and clenching collection doors as well as removing the sight of all Venus and other naked figures ... Such a religious frenzy went so on that, in 1852, after having carried all collection monuments in a hole, and after having walled-up its doors, Director of the Museum asked for the destruction of any external sign of that Cabinet deplorable existence and for its consignment to oblivion, as much as possible. Not yet satisfied, on March 1865, he expelled from the picture-gallery, closing whith a triple and different key in a damp dark place: Tiziano's Danae ..."

I thought you would enjoy that.

I wonder if Admiral Lord Nelson managed to get a peep at that Neapolitan version of Danae during the months when he was engaged in putting down the Parthenopean Republic and restoring a very ancien regime to the magical Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

My Father's favourite ship was HMS Danae, in which he had sailed round the world with the Special Service Squadron in 1923-4. (The Lower Decks pronounced her name 'Day-knee'.) In the late 1930s, he named an Art Deco house he built in Essex 'Danae', and I still recall sitting with him and listening, aged about seven, to a sad BBC News Bulletin which listed the ships sentenced to be scrapped after the War ... including HMS Danae. Long after my Father had left her, she had been handed over to the Free Poles, and had served on D-Day.

I would love to be able to tell you that, in pride of place in the Ship's Ward Room, hung a fine copy of Titian's masterpiece in one or the other of its two versions.

Sadly, were I to do so, I would be telling you a Porkie.

4 March 2020

... de ... de ...

I watched an interview on the Beeb between 'Andrew Marr' ... in my view, not the brightest cookie in the bag among our Meejah interviewers ... and a French Europe Minister called Mme de Lombard de Montchalin. She was young and bright and fluent ... the Marr kept explaining to her what the EU had got to agree to in view of the fact that the British electorate had voted for Sovereignty and knew what it expected from this. She patiently pointed out that Europe and its constituent nations also professed to operate on a principle of popular legitimacy. I don't think she quite got this difficult concept across to poor dim Andrew.

Apparently she is a practising Catholic.

Intrigued by her name ... or rather, her husband's name ... I started grubbing around on the computer (you know how it is). Apparently, his family stood well among the French aristocracy under the Bourbons. It included an Abbe who, in exile after the Revolution, gave orations in London after the deaths of the Duc d'Enghien (shot during the bloodlust of the Corsican Enlightenment) and of the Abbe Edgeworth (relative of Maria and, at the end, Confessor to Louis XVI).

These Orations were preached in the 'Chapel of S Patrick'. I suspect this may mean S Patrick's, Soho ... a church currently being (literally) undermined by an endless and intrusive project to construct an Underground Railway (zillions of years behind schedule and £billions over budget ... insultingly, they intend, so I think I read somewhere, to call it the 'Elizabeth Line'.). This church is currently under the management of the admirable and hospitable Canon Sherbrooke, who was educated in a large school near Slough ... why has Father never been made a bishop??? Perhaps our new Nuncio will remedy this oversight.

Dunno why, but somehow I invariably feel more at home in those Catholic churches which date from before the 'Restoration of the Hierarchy'. S Patrick's is one of these, as well as our Ordinariate main church, the Assumption Warwick Street.

3 March 2020

Anglexit: the Poesie

This month, the National Gallery will have another of its ueberhyped blockbuster exhibitions, with the six poesie  of Titian at its centre.

These tasty examples of renaissance art, expressing in pigment the exquisite and witty hexametres of Ovid's Metamorphoses, are, we are told, being brought together for the first time since 1700ish.

I wonder if the teaching materials that will be provided will make the connection with the reign of our own Good King Philip and our own Good Queen Mary. The first few of the poesie were in fact sent to the King in London. But soon, in 1558, the Queen was dead; Bloody Bess occupied the throne, and repeated her infamous father's infamous Anglexit: and the pictures departed from our shores. Thus ended England's brief moment of participation in the Ovidian Renaissance of Catholic Europe. Perhaps this consideration should be added to Eamonn Duffy's demonstration (Fires of Faith) of the vibrancy and intellectual distintion of those brief, happy, years 1553-1558.

I'm not sure how keen I am on these exhibitions. They cost a lot, and are crowded. I hope it isn't cultural snobbery to reflect that 99.99999% of those cluttering up the galleries will never have read Ovid, and, even if a few do a little homework before traipsing to Trafalgar Square, the fact that they've mugged up some "background" will be nothing like the experience of a cultural elite which knew their Ovid, before their eyes engaged with Titian's visual representations of the text. It is not my fault that the cultural bigotry of our age has robbed most of the population of the Greek and Latin classics.

Perhaps the jolliest gallery in London is the Wallace Collection. It possesses one of the poesie, Perseus and Andromeda. Last time London's NG had a Titian blockbuster, in 2003, this picture was not part of it: because the Wallace had firm rules about not lending. It was the one gallery in London ... or anywhere ...  where you never saw a nasty little white card informing you that what you'd come to see was on loan to et cetera. And the Wallace is off the tourists' beaten track.

So after 'doing' the 2003 blochkbuster, I went to the Wallace (it's next door to the old Spanish Embassy Chapel) and enjoyed Andromeda undisturbed. I did not have to pay a penny for her.

But the Wallace trustees have now 'discovered' that their founders did not peremptorily forbid loans. So this time round, Andromeda will be in the heaving mob at the NG, undoubtedly with a couple of dim women standing in front of her with their backs to her endlessly chattering about how their nephew Nigel is getting on in the City.

Yes; I really am every bit as nasty as I sound!

I don't think I'll bother with Titian this time round. Perhaps I'll go to the Wallace and peacefully enjoy some Rejoiner hopes in front of Boucher's playful version of Europa. Unless they've loaned it to someone. Who cares if every myrhological poppet Boucher ever painted was posed for by Mme Boucher? I think it's rather endearing.

Less chance, too, of picking up the Coronavirus in the Wallace.

2 March 2020

A Walk with Newman and Challoner

On an idle spring day, one can take a bus down to Steventon, walk down that magnificent (and unique?) 'Causeway' with its Medieval houses and the church, then round to the site of the old Railway Station. Why? Because it is the spot halfway between Bristol and London, where the Directors of the Great Western had their Board Meetings, those from each town coming in their respective trains to convene in the solid early Victorian buildings which still survive? No; the better reason is that, in the days when the University was strong enough to maintain its veto on the railways coming right into Oxford (for obvious reasons; in my time the last train back to Oxford on Sunday evenings was still called the Flying Fornicator) Steventon is where one got off and took horse transport back to the University. It is through Steventon that Newman's semi-autobiographical hero Charles Reding made his emotional last visit to Oxford before his reception into full communion. The site of the actual station ... oh dear ... is now occupied by a bathetic building called Kingdom Hall of J******'s Witnesses.

Then, Ordnance Survey in hand, one can walk along country bridleways to Milton Manor, a recusant house with an evocative chapel in 'Strawberry-Hill Gothick' and with good medieval glass from Steventon's medieval Parish Church and elsewhere. This is a reminder to me of something I discovered in my Devon researches: that England's medieval stained glass was not, for the most part, vandalised by Protestants or Puritans; it just hung on in there until the dilapidation of time dealt with it, or until Georgian antiquaries (read, here, 'Catholic squires') carried it off in the earliest dawn of the Gothic[k] Revival. Just north of Oxford, on the way to Woodstock, in the windows of Yarnton Church, one can see just a part of the vast collection put together in the first two decades of the nineteenth century by an Alderman Fletcher (his most spectacular pieces ended up in the windows of Selden End).

Bishop Challoner often stayed at Milton with his friend Squire Barret, whose hospitable descendant still owns the house and maintains the worship in its chapel. I have had the privilege of offering the Holy Sacrifice there using Challoner's Altar, Chalice, and Missal, and, after Mass, saying the Prayer for his Beatification. He was buried in the Squire's vault in the Anglican Village Church at the manor gate, until 'they' hoiked him out and reinterred him amid the unconvincing 'Byzantine' of Westminster Cathedral. I wonder if that very splendid old gentleman might have preferred to remain among his friends the Barrets until the General Resurrection overtakes the gentle Berkshire countryside.

Happily, it never occurred to 'them' to kidnap Mrs Archdeacon Manning from her peaceful grave in the quiet shadow of the everlasting hills, by the South Downs in Sussex, and to transfer her to beside her husband where he now lies under his suspended Cardinal's Hat at Westminster. I wonder why ... 'they' could have had an effigy carved of her as well as of her hubby, and her favourite Easter Bonnet could have been suspended above her, there to remain until, with the passing of the centuries, the English Spring flowers had shrivelled and the moths had gnawed through the cord, and it dropped. Perhaps her devotional notebook, which the Cardinal read daily and said was the basis of everything good he had ever done, could have been buried between them.

The spot could have become a marker and monument of that admirable Patrimonial tradition: the Christian family in the Rectory as the social heart of parish daily life.

1 March 2020

Stowe, Filioque, and Organic Development

We still sometimes read the suggestion that the changes made in the Roman Mass by Pope Paul VI were no more remarkable that those made earlier by other popes ... a weary old claim. The argument has even been put to me that the arrogant papal insertion of the Filioque into the Creed was a similarly revolutionary innovation. Er ...

Where exactly does one start with that? In the first place: the popes did not introduce the Creed into the Mass. According to Jungmann ([ET] Vol II p 469), it entered the Western Mass in Gaul in the 790s. Or there seems some evidence that those mysterious people the Mozarabs might have done it a couple of centuries earlier. Its introduction may have been a response to the Adoptianism of some Spanish bishops. Rome herself did not reluctantly follow Charlemagne's initiative for another couple of centuries.

But how did the filioque spread itself around? Not as a Papal initiative. There is an interesting paper by A Breen (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 90c, 107-21) discussing the text of the Creed in an Irish Altar Book known as the Stowe Missal (once owned by the Dukes of Buckingham at Stowe). That book seems to have been scribed in the 790s, when it contained a text of the creed without filioque. But what makes this Missal so fascinating is the way it was subsequently added to and changed by different people. Sometimes somebody would even take a knife to the vellum and scrape portions of text away and then, in smaller handwriting, repeat what he had just scraped away but with additional material ... but he might then discover that he still didn't have all the room he needed so he would bind in a small additional sheet of vellum. (In the first millennium, perhaps the first task of a liturgical tamperer was to catch his calf ...) That is the context in which filioque entered the Mass in one Irish monastic site.

 Here in the Stowe Missal we have organic evolution of the Liturgy physically on display before our very eyes (if we can get to look at it in Dublin*). In the hands of the presbyters of the worshipping community which actually used the book, it gradually accommodated itself to the changing needs of its church or to the changing fashions within the wider Church. Nobody made massive alterations overnight, whether on his own authority or at the behest of Superior Authority. Nothing could be more unlike what Vatican  committeemen did in the 1960s.

As I remarked, Stowe had the Creed, and without filioque. But, as Breen demonstrates, only a few years after the production of Stowe, somebody made some corrections to its text of the Creed, one of which was the addition of filioque above the line. And the text of the Creed which the corrector used to make his corrections was one which had just been promulgated at the 796/7 Council of Foroiulianum. This text had been composed by S Paulinus II, Patriarch of Aquileia (an influential see which used to be so powerful that it wasn't always content to be obediently in communion with Rome). Not a whisker here of the actions of some pope or, for that matter of any external authority. Indeed, when the scribe of Stowe added filioque to his altar book, Patriarch Paulinus, and his Council, and his Emperor, as far as I understand, had no jurisdiction over Ireland. In the centuries before printing, the authority in Liturgy was very generally a combination of Tradition, Sensus Fidelium, and Subsidiarity - with the emphasis very strongly upon the first of this troika.

I suggest, from our consideration of the history of the Stowe Missal, a useful rule of thumb for discerning whether a liturgical change is 'organic' [as the decree Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II mandates] or not. Here goes: If you can continue to use your old Altar Book, while from time to time gumming a new Mass or preface in here or making a marginal alteration there or crossing out this bit or remembering to do that bit differently, then evolution is probably happening organically. If, on the other hand, you have absolutely no choice but to abandon that book to gather dust lying useless on the top shelf in your sacristy ... while you go out to the shop and pay big money for a new book ... then the changes are certainly not organic. In those circumstances, what you've got on your hands is not evolution, but revolution.

I call this the Stowe Test.

The Pius XII/Bugnini Holy Week seems to me to fail that test. The S Pius X psalter might just squeeze past, because publishing houses provided small and slender 'psalter' volumes so that one did not need to buy an entire new Breviary. You disagree? You're probably right. But do you see what I mean?
* There is a full facsimile in HBS Vol XXXI. I think one can get to it on the Internet.