30 April 2020

That CDF Questionnaire!

What a source of Innocent Merriment!!

A friend is suggesting additional Questions such as
"Since the Novus Ordo was introduced half a century ago, has Mass Attendance in your diocese gone up or down, and, if either of these, by how much?"

My own reaction was to suggest two pendant questions:
"How many churches in your diocese make use of the Extraordinary Form of the Eucharist?"
"How many churches in your diocese make use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion?"

Frivolity aside, here is my reaction.

I have no connections or private sources of information. But, having worked in a corporate organisation most of my life, I read this document genre-wise as the sort of thing a middle manager might send out if he thought that Someone Else might ask him questions, and he wanted to be primed to answer them, and he preferred to have his back securely covered. Moreover, the CDF has only recently taken over these liturgical competences, and it is natural for a new boss to want to take stock of 'where we are'. Or perhaps a tiny but noisy group of trouble-makers has been getting at him and he wishes to be able to reply "Well, Your Most Sublime Excellency, I have surveyed the entire Latin Episcopate, and ... " et caetera.

 I wonder what readers who have themselves worked in corporations, whether commercial or academic or religious, might think of such an analysis.

I can't honestly see much in the way of threat in these enquiries. The Liturgy Wars seem mainly now to be in the area of how the Novus Ordo is to be done. You must not turn your back on the People!! The sort of hysteria about the EF which thirteen years ago made poor Cormack wet his galero is far in the past ... surely?

Prelates who ... for example ... have handed over large derelict churches to Traddy organisations are not going to reply saying "The EF has developed in my diocese right under my own eye and my own careful supervision and has been a horrible disaster". (Although, if I were Archbishop of Liverpool, I would complain vigorously that last year the Institute had me celebrating Mass in their Dome of Home and they forgot to put my pallium over my chasuble.) There may even be 'liberal' bishops who are more than happy to sponsor an EF Mass every fifth Tuesday attended by three and a half old ladies and their cats, rather than to have a thriving important church where the Novus Ordo is done in a traddy way with heaving congregations.

Andrea Grillo ... is said to have the Pontiff's ear, although sources rarely speculate on which ear is most favoured. And he is, I concede, a dangerous man. And my eyebrows (both of them) did rise a little when I read the question about whether the EF is being done strictly in accordance with 1962. I wondered if someone had been saying "Actually, these integristes want to go back to a liturgical culture much older and infinitely more dangerous than the comparatively tolerable Rite of 1962".

But this questionnaire is (think about it) not the sort of thing the Grillos of this world really want. True, it would help their political agenda if they could use it to claim that Summorum Pontificum is "still" causing enormous practical pastoral problems. But that's not what actually interests them. They have a rooted and massively ideological objection to traditional Liturgy in itself, irrespective of any practical  questions.

However this Questionnaire business works out, it does not touch upon what the real baddies are really interested in.

Not the time to panic! And, after all, as the trendies kept saying all through the Ratzinger pontificate, we may soon have a new pope. A friend tells me that Austin Ivereigh has recently referred to 'the long winter' of S John Paul's pontificate. How naughty, so Dr Ivereigh must think, our blessed Lady of Fatima was to intervene as she did with regard to that bullet! Why do women always get in the way?

Who knows ... this 'winter' might be even shorter  ... who knows, we may soon be in May, the merry  Month of the Mary. All power to her heel.

29 April 2020

Pilgrimaging during Lock-down UPDATE

I have been moved by the appreciative comments that have reached me!

The first three 'pilgrimages' are to Glastonbury, Canterbury, and York. On Monday May 4 ('Our Lady of Westminster'), I will print those for the rest of the month. 

These are all Medieval English Shrines. Information about them is in the Waterton volume which a kind reader has attached to this thread.

Since we are Locked Down, or de facto under Interdict, or however you like to put it, I venture to suggest Spiritual Pilgrimages to Shrines of the Theotokos during May. One could use the Litany of Loretto and/or the Prayer at the foot of this post.

This idea is offered in a little book which used to be on sale in the Shrine Shop at Walsingham. It bears the name of Canon Colin Stepheson, Administrator of the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham in the early 1960s. "This book is based on an idea of Edmund Waterton, and owes much to his monumental work Pietas Mariana Britannica. Its adaptation and much of the work of compilation has been done by Hedley Hope-Nicholson who has always been a doughty champion of the rights and titles of our blessed Lady". The book bears no date; I bought mine on Whitmonday 1963. The prayer suggested  and which I print below dates from before the liturgical adoption of "Modern English"!

Each day of May is assigned a medieval English Shrine of our Lady. One could, of course, roam all over the world ... Keitun .... Lourdes ... Tinos ... Knock ... but, well, we have recently rededicated this Kingdom to our Lady as her Dowry. If I remember, I will put the place/title at the head of my blogpost  each day in May.

O most Blessed Virgin Mother of God, conceived without original sin, in mind and spirit I visit thy churches, altars, and shrines, venerated by our forefathers in this land once acknowledged as thy Dowry, but more especially today I wish to place myself before thy Shrine at ... ... ... , humbly seeking to be numbered amongst the pilgrims who have sought thee in this place and to receive through thy prayers those graces which have ever flowed from thy Sanctuaries.


Predictably, I am offered comments by those who think that the slightest intrusion upon the Calendar  of the 1962 Rite, is a "Trojan Horse" designed to undermine Tradition. This notion has again arisen in the wake of the new provisions made for the Old Rite by the CDF. I simply do not even begin to comprehend this nonsense.

This week provides a good example of how the Calendar of 1962 is in a mess because it has been unchanged since (in fact) 1960.

May 1. I'll be fair: I can see why Pius XII had the S-Joseph-Opifex idea in 1956. Here's a Pagan Festival: let's Christianise it!! It must, during the Cold War, have seemed quite clever. But it never caught on; possibly because the pagan festival itself had only been culturally skin deep. Anyway, little more than a decade later the Novus Ordo wisely reduced it to it an optional memorial, leaving the poor old Vetus Ordo saddled, all on its own, with this enormous, already dated yet innovatory, untraditional, unwanted, "First Class Feast". I have mental images of a large dead whale, marooned and decaying just above the line left by last week's Spring Tides. It would be absurd to do anything other than to clean up the beach, to spray some disinfectant around, and to put SS Philip and James (a quite ancient festival) back onto May 1 in both Calendars. And S Joseph?

Keen Josephites might enjoy the restoration of the previous (Blessed Pius IX: Gueranger says 1847; dumped by Pius XII) Feast of the "Patronage of S Joseph" on the Wednesday of the second week after the Octave of Easter. That would mean that, this year, we would be celebrating this Feast ... er ...  today!! Those old propers traced  nice typological themes linking S Joseph with his OT namesake. (Interestingly, the Novus Ordo permits Episcopal Conferences to transfer S Joseph (March 19) out of Lent into Eastertide.) I think it would be a good idea to ask the CDF definitively to solve the Josephprobleme. This could 'bring the EF into line with the OF' by eliminating the Pius XII festival on May 1, and reverting to how things were in 1954; but what's so terribly dreadful about both the EF and the OF walking back, hand-in-hand, to Tradition?

There is a story that B Pius IX said "I am Tradition", but, so it seems to me, it was Pius XII who behaved as if he were. His liturgical dispositions should be regarded as no more sacrosanct than he regarded the arrangements of B Pius IX.

From 1960 to 2020, the 'Vetus Ordo' was paralysed and set rigidly in stone. Compare this sixty-year period with the previous sixty years, 1900-1960. That saw the addition of four new prefaces to the Roman Rite, one of them 'neo-Gallican', the others newly composed. And there were many Saints added to the Calendar, some, such as S Maria Goretti, newly martyred and newly canonised; others, older Saints whose journey from local to universal celebration had been a more gradual process through the Appendix pro aliquibus locis.

The inert paralysis of the Old Rite during the years 1960-2020 has been profoundly unTraditional. Never before in two millennia has Liturgy been left so totally unresponsive to the evolving piety of the Faithful. The present attempt of the CDF to do some catching-up is the most modest and delicately careful step that could have been taken, especially considering the fact that everything 'new' is optional. Trojan Horse', indeed!! What nonsense. Take the 'new' Prefaces, for example. Most of them were 'Neo-Gallican' forms in use by indult long before Vatican II. The Francophone Ordo Recitandi of the SSPX indicates them ad lib.. So Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was a 'Trojan Horse', was he, engaged in smuggling Liberalism into the Church? Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.

I will tell you where the true Trojan Horse is to be found. It is in the pathetic wreckage of Holy Week which Pius XII-Bugnini imposed in the 1950s. I would advise those with a philia for Horses, Trojan or otherwise, to read the Latin Commentarius which Bugnini wrote to accompany this horror story. At the front of his book is a lavish set of compliments to Pius XII for presiding over the liturgical revisions up to that point, and a fervent prayer that he will live to be famed as the Restorer of the Entire Liturgy. Then, throughout the text and the footnotes, there are deft little hints about what ought to come next in the process of 'reform'.

I am reminded of an old Thelwell cartoon with a tiny girl telling Mummy that her (Trojan?) pony "has just Been to the Bathroom outside the Front Door".

Is there nobody in the house with a big shovel?

But thank God for whoever is currently running the Liturgy section in the CDF. He is learned, sensitive and judicious.

Who is he?And how does all this link up with the "Questionnaire" about the Old Rite recently sent round to episcopal conferences? Watch this space!

27 April 2020


(1) The ritual preamble of meaningless 'fillers' used by so many of those who chatter "to Camera" before they feel adequately fuelled up to make substantive utterance gets ever more excruciatingly long. I heard, a few evenings ago, the following. I am not making this up.

"Yeah-I-mean-look-you-know ...".

Six words before intelligible communication was even attempted! Is this a record?

[The Apostate Bishop in C S Lewis's The Great Divorce began one of his replies with"Well, really, you know"; the book is dated 1946. In 1932, Peter Wimsey said "Well, really, don't you know", but he was masquerading as a Silly Ass.]

(2) A singular noun with a dependent genitive plural seems nowadays invariably to attract a plural verb:

"The presence of antibodies don't guarantee immunity ...".

"The number of deaths are low ..."

(3) The glottal stop seems to have migrated from 'Estuary English' and to be spreading, virus-like, in every patois. I can't remember when I last heard the word Communi:y pronounced with an audible t. Except by North Americans, God bless them, who say (what strikes an English ear as) Communiddy!

(4) Has "Universal Education" achieved anything other than irritating logorrhea among the intellectually challenged?

26 April 2020

Ovid a liturgist?

I have remarked before how strange it is that not even a single one of the old Roman collects for the Sundays after Easter survived the post-Conciliar 'reforms' for use on an Eastertide Sunday. This is, surely, a great historical curiosity. (Incidentally, an identical fate befell all the Sunday Collects for Lent and Advent.) Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II had limited change to points where it is truly and certainly clear that the benefit to the Church demands them (23). Another such oddity is the fact that the OF collect for today is a modern composition. Whatever is wrong with an old collect for this Sunday? Can it really be true that no Western Christian knew how to pray to God on a Sunday within Eastertide until 1970?

The Vatican 'reformers' did in fact keep this prayer and re-assign it, ejected from Eastertide, to one of the 'green' Sundays. So, even in their view, it cannot be totally beyond all redemption. But in doing so they (you know what I'm going to say) changed it; out went the reference to 'perpetual death' (replaced by 'slavery of sin') - and since that had to disappear, the parallel reference to 'perpetual joy' had to be changed to 'holy joy'. How exactly does vera et certa utilitas demand (exigat) the excision of the wonderful truth that the Father has rescued us from everlasting death? Or that the 'joy' He promises us will be for ever?

Here is the preconciliar text: Deus qui in Filii tui humilitate iacentem mundum erexisti: fidelibus tuis perpetuam concede laetitiam; ut quos perpetuae mortis eripuisti casibus, gaudiis facias perfrui sempiternis. God, who in the lowliness of thy Son didst make upright a prostrate world: grant to thy faithful people perpetual joy; that to those whom thou hast snatched from the fallings of  perpetual death, thou mightest give the fruition of everlasting joys.

I simply love the sophisticated interplay of words in the opening phrases. Humilitas comes from humus, the ground, and so it has an etymological sense of flat-upon-the-ground (as did the Greek tapeinos). So we are offered the elegant paradox that the lowliness of Christ raised upright, erect, a world which was prostrate or, literally, lying. As a frivolous Classicist, I am reminded of the similar word-play at VIII 526 of Ovid's Metamorphoses, where all Calydon is grieving at the death of Meleager: Alta iacet Calydon, lofty Calydon lies prostrate, where, as the late (and lamented) Adrian Hollis of Keble College in this University pointed out, the 'sportiveness' of this combination of the literal and metaphorical is enhanced by the fact that 'lofty' is a traditional epithet (aipeinei Kaludoni Iliad XIII 217). Hollis rightly described the humour as 'whimsical, almost Callimachean' (it was Callimachus of Cyrene, greatest of all the Hellenistic poets, who elevated verbal fun to be the highest art form). The concept of flat-on-the-ground is neatly taken up yet again in our collect when perpetual death is said to result from falls, casibus, unrepented sins.

And then there are the antitheses and assonances. They raise my spirit in the same sort of way as do the brilliant firework-displays of that great gift of Byzantine Christianity to the Catholic world, the Akathist Hymn. Why do the killjoys, gloomily lugubrious, want to rob the Liturgy of the Latin Church of its sparkle, its fun? Why, after Vatican II, are only Byzantines allowed to enjoy their Faith?

But, underneath the sheer fun of the classical prayers of the old Roman Rite, there is the saving and glorious truth that it is the Lord, weakened by scourging, falling under his Cross deep into the grime and filth of a fallen world, who alone raises up that world and conveys to us an endlessness of joy. Christian euchology renders soteriological the Classical humour.  

25 April 2020

Distractions in times of Pestilence: Ole Blue Eyes in 1929

A diverting little nescioquid on the Beeb ... they have received complaints about it ... and so they should ... it all adds to the gaiety of nations ...

Thursday April 9, on its P** Emm programme, the Home Service played a ditty, ex ipsissimo ore Frank Sinatra, Without a Song, with the line ... my dear, so very 1920s ...

"A darkie's born, he ain't no good no how without a song".

[In 1956, the Dwarfs in The Last Battle were still addressing the Calormenes as "Darkies". But the Calormene officer addressed the Dwarfs as "Children of Mud". I think, in Brit law, that is hatespeech.]

I think Sinatra's line fell some way short of a nuanced or in any way adequate Christian Anthropology, not to mention the grammar of Standard Received English. One might have to pass a similar judgement upon most of the lyrics of much popular music. But, surely some dignity should cling to the original authentic texts of historic lyrics, however sludge-like, whatever their degree of banality, however mafioso the crooner?

A fortiori, I am still outraged by the habit in the Arianising swamps of America's Proddiland of "correcting" S John Henry Newman's Praise to the Holiest in Height. Apparently, his phrase "A Higher Gift than Grace", describing thus the Second Person of the Glorious and Undivided Trinity in His Incarnate State, is offensive to the fastidious proddy theological ear, or to some part of it.

Yeah, you're right, who gives a t*ss about ... er ....

24 April 2020

A plea for litanies

I expect a number of clergy will do what I plan for April 25: said the Litany privately after Lauds. And we have the Rogation Days coming up next week, inviting us again to revisit the Litany (is it very unreconstructed-Anglican to use the word in the singular, or should I papalise myself and always say "Litanies"?). But perhaps an overview would be useful.

Perhaps I should make clear that I am referring to the Litany; what is sometimes called the Litany of the Saints. 

The use of the Litany is a plea for Divine Mercy  The texts of the Rogation Mass suggest that, rather like the Gesima Sundays, these days upon which the Litany has commonly been sung constitute a cry for help in times of affliction. But how often do we so use it? Might not the modern Catholic be more likely to turn to the Rosary? Corporately, might we offer somebody, like the Holy Father, a spiritual bouquet of Rosaries? Heaven knows, I have nothing against the Rosary. How could anyone? But the Litany is the great, majestic, formal supplication of the Western Church. Especially in times of trial.

It is also used when we are engaged upon some great Action. Hence, truncated forms of the Litany will have been heard by most Catholics on Holy Saturday, as Holy Mother Church prepares to nurture a new Brood of neophytes. It will have been heard by many at Ordinations and Consecrations, as new clergy receive the Church's most solemn commission. Those who have watched papal inaugurations will have heard it. But it rarely gets a look-in outside these contexts.

The spirit behind the use of the Litany as the solemn, stately, corporate Entreaty of an afflicted Church is particularly emphasised by its use at the Quarant' ore: the Forty Hours devotion before the most Holy Sacrament exposed. It is easy to think of this magnificent devotion as an expression of wonder at the Presence among us of our Eucharistic Lord, but this is not how the Church has seen it (what follows is plagiarised from an attractive little CTS booklet of 1949, edited by an Oratorian called Fr J R McKee).

The Forty Hours seems to have started in the 1530s, when the Church was afflicted by heretics within and Islam without. In 1539 Pope Paul III, granting indulgences to those partaking, made clear that its purpose was "to appease the anger of God, provoked by the offences of Christians, and in order to bring to naught the efforts and machinations of the Turks, who are pressing forward to the destruction of Christendom". In 1592, Pope Clement VIII wrote as follows: "Pray for the Holy Catholic Church, that the mists of error may be scattered and the truth of the one Faith be diffused throughout the world. Pray that sinners ... may be saved from drowning by the plank of Penance. Pray for the peace and unity of kings and of all Christians ... Pray that the enemies of our Faith, the dreaded Turks, who, in the heat of their presumptuous fury, threaten slavery and devastation to all Christendom, may be crushed by the right hand of the Almighty. Pray, lastly, for ourselves ...". [It is not easy to be be sure that our needs have changed much!]

And the Quarant' ore includes, on its first and third (final) day, the solemn singing of the Litany before the Blessed Sacrament exposed.

At various times and places, the Litany was accompanied by such penitential endeavours as fasting and abstinence; but not recently. The only relevant indulgence I can find in the Encheiridion is a partial one for anybody reciting any of the approved litanies (and, of course, those taking part in a Quarant' ore can acquire the plenary indulgences obtainable suetis condicionibus for spending half an hour in eucharistic adoration or taking part in a Eucharistic Procession). A rather ungenerous provision, don't you think, for which we can blame the post-conciliar cull (Pius XI had attached to the Litany a plenary indulgence semel in mense). The Hymnos Akathistos gets a plenary, and so it jolly well should; why not the Litany??

23 April 2020

Renewing your vows

Yes ... the Novus Ordo  suggests that we renew our Baptismal Vows before Confirmation and annually at the Easter Vigil; priests are required to renew priestly vows at the Chrism Mass; married people reaching significant anniversaries ...

I am.genuinely unsure what I think about all this; or how strongly I think it. Let me make a prosecution case.

All these renewals renew vows or commitments made before sacraments which indelibly mark the soul (or, in the case of Marriage, set up an unbreakable union which can omly be broken by the death of a partner). They are not soluble by fiat or consent or desuetude.

Is there not a risk that people might think they are renewable in the sense that a professional qualification may be renewable?

Is there not a risk that people of weak or faltering Faith might agonise over whether they want, or are able, to renew them? So that the Easter when one didn't go to Church and renew one's vows might come to seem the occasion when I ceased to be obliged by them ... when, so to speak, they gently walked out of my life.

In a sense, we renew our Baptismal commitment every time dip our fingers in the Holy Water Stoup. But this meaningful and elegant symbol is not structured so as repeatedly to set a stark black-or-white choice before our elective capacities. And we renew our fidelity to our Baptism when we go to Confession.

S Paul once told the Roman Christians that the End was was nearer "than when you believed" [hote episteusate]. In English, that makes it sound as if the believing was something one used to do in the past! But the Apostle used the aorist tense, which ... roughly ... points to a single past action. So S Paul is here referring to the momentary action when, having professed pistis, one was baptised into the Body of Christ and, having shared His Death and Burial, one entered upon His Resurrection life.

And that single event, which is unrepeatable, abides for all eternity.

Just as God's Covenant with Israel, to which His People have so often been faithless, is a rock-solid permanency rooted in His faithfulness.

We should think of these states as Acts of God rather than as acts of revocable human choice. I am not a Christian / a priest / a husband only on those occasions when I feel like it. The old Anglican 1662 Form of priestly Ordination put it beautifully bluntly by using the words of the Lord to His disciples, as in the medieval pontificals, and then adding a temporal specificity to them:
Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven etc...

I am afraid that all this emphsis on Renewing runs the risk of smuggling into our responses a fashionable modern subjectivity as well as modern notions of personal autonomy.

Does it?

22 April 2020

Dr Newman and the Coronavirus

S John Henry Newman in this passage  refutes the Proddy superstition that Catholic Priests do not themselves believe the Catholic Faith ... they are not as strupid as that ... but use it hypocritically to exploit a gullible laity. Here is his argument.

"What is their reward for committing themselves to a life of self-restraint and toil, and after all to a premature and miserable death? The Irish fever cut off betweeen Liverpool and Leeds thirty priests and more, young men in the flower of their days, old men who seemed entitled to some quiet time after their long toil. There was a bishop cut off in the north; but what had a man of his ecclesiastical rank to do with the drudgery and danger of sick calls, except that Christian faith and charity constrained him? Priests volunteered for the dangerous service. It was the same on the first coming of the cholera, that mysterious awe-inspiring infliction .... What could support a set of hypocrites in the presence of a deadly disorder, one of them following another in long order up the forlorn hope, and one after another perishing? And such, I may say, in its substance, is every misson-priest's life. He is ever ready to sacrifice himself for his people. Night and day, sick or well himself, in all weathers, off he is, on the news of a sick call. The fact of a parishioner dying without the sacraments through his fault is terrible to him ...".

Times change; we might nowadays be rather more aware of the danger of the priest himself actually coneying an infection. But when every allowance has been made, I do think that this passage raises awkward questions.

19 April 2020

Not of much interest to anybody

I wonder why Cranmer truncated today's Gospel from S John Chapter 20 to make it end at verse 23.

The still very useful Liturgy and Worship  explains that "the events of the eighth day after Easter ... are now narrated in the second Lesson at Evensong." This may be true of twentieth century Anglican Lectionaries, but I cannot find that Cranmer made any such provision in 1549 or 1552. Maybe the fact that these verses appear as the Gospel on S Thomas's Day led him to avoid duplication. But he allowed substantially the same Gospel on Lent 4 and Trinity 25.

Just possibly ... ... could his problem have been the popularity in medieval Catholic iconography of the story after verse 24? And its close connection with the devotion to the Five Wounds? Already, in these earlier months of 1549 (the Prayer Book was printed in March), had there been rumours of Rustic Folk manufacturing banners of the Five Wounds?

This would not be only time in the History of Christianity when an intelligentsia committed to giving the Laity more Scripture ended up censoring the bits they were prepared to have the pewfodder hearing.

Incidentally, when did I John 5: 7-8, in today's Epistle, get dargged away from the Vulgate and the Textus Receptus? I suspect 1928.

ARCIC and Coronavirus and S John Henry Newman

                         "REAL PRESENCE": ARCIC SORTED IT OUT

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, from its beginnings until 1994, dealt withn the Eucharist. It concluded, in 1994, with a statement by "the appropriate dicasteries of the Holy See" [which must include the CDF] to the effect that "The agreement reached on Eucharist and Ministry by ARCIC-1 is thus greatly strengthened and no further study would seem to be required at this stage".

It was no secret that, on the Vatican side, there had been unease about the reality of this agreement. In some quarters, there was a suspicion that the doctrinal formulae of agreement were abstract verbal confections which papered over a real and persisting disagreement. It centred upon the question of the Eucharistic Presence, particularly with regard to the Reserved Sacrament. Given this unease, there was a very sensible desire to investigate Anglican praxis ... what people did with the Eucharistic Elements; how they were physically treated. This was on the ground that praxis would reveal whether the fancy verbal agreements actually meant anything.

So the question was insistently put: Do the Anglicans adore It? [Apparently: YES!]

                                   THE EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE: PRAXIS

But there is another equally important aspect of Eucharistic doctrine that needed to sorted out by ARCIC: the question of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. ARCIC had indeed arrived at some formulae of agreement; but it was not easy to see how the test question, the litmus test,  How about praxis? Does praxis confirm the agreement? could be made to operate in this field.

But now ... 2020 ... a question of praxis ... yippee!! ... has finally presented itself.

The Anglican hierarchy, during the Coronavirus lockdown, forbade clergy to celebrate the Eucharist even on their own in locked churches; even when the clergy-house was so adjacent to the church that the priest could get into it without "going outside". I believe there was even a suggestion that clergy discipline regulations might be made to apply if a priest disobeyed this behest (yes; I know that Anglican bishops are lovely and smiley on TV but many of them are unpleasant bullies in real life).

On the other hand: Archbishop Nichols explained on the BBC that Catholics don't talk much about "Going to Church"; what matters for us is the Mass.

The Mass is a Sacrifice, impetratory, propitiatory.

With the country in turmoil and people dying by the thousand, here and throughout the world, any priest would naturally wish, above all else, to offer to God the Father the Sacrifice of His only-begotten Son. Not less often, but very greatly more often. Even if, exceptionally, he had to offer the Sacrifice without lay presence.

Nichols explained that, despite the coronavirus, every Catholic priest would be offering Mass daily. He did so, alone, in his own darkened and empty Cathedral, and did it online.

The reality of Anglican belief concerning the Eucharistic Sacrifice has been made abundantly and practically clear.

Those who control the C of E do not believe in it. And as for praxis: they are prepared to enforce their disbelief by sending their ecclesiastical  police in. This policy, it seems, is being enforced even by Anglican bishops who claim to be "Catholic" ... who wear skull caps and waggle incense around and who think that sort of stuff makes them "Catholic".

                                           S JOHN HENRY NEWMAN
said that he welcomed the existence of the C of E as a bulwark agaist unbelief, but recognised that the time was likely when it would be more of an obstacle to Truth than a help. In his Second Spring sermon he envisions the C of E as a corpse which corrupts the air which once it refreshed, and cumbers the ground which once it beautified.

Perhaps the next ARCIC agenda should concentrate on what to do with corpses ... ecclesial corpses.

17 April 2020

Two Dimboes

(1) During Holy Week, I browsed throught The Sacred Made Real, which accompanied the 2010 [yes; old story] NG exhibition about Spanish art ... especially artefacts used in worship during Holy Week. I found this:  
"... the Virgin of Solitude [was] a cult which  ... was celebrated in the Mass on Easter Saturday."

Well, perhaps the nitwit who wrote this meant to write "Holy Saturday", because I can see no reason to celebrate our Lady's loneliness after her Son's Resurrection. I remember that in the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, on the evening of Good Friday there used to be a devotion to Maria Desolata, and on Easter Day, the devotion called Maria Consolata.

But ... hang on ... there certainly wasn't a Mass of our Lady or of anyone else on Holy Saturday, Easter Eve. Wikipedia confirms these rather obvious facts. There are two days in the year when Mass is prohibited, and one of them is Holy Saturday (before the Vigil).

The ignorant nitwit who wrote this tripe was some man called de Ceballos. Judging from the list of his publications, he is a very erudite and academically highly admired ignorant nitwit.

Art historians are rarely well informed about the Catholic Faith; a fine example of this was the book that accompanied the V&A exhibition on The Baroque. Like most of the chattering classes, these men and women despise Christianity so much that they don't even feel an academic obligation to represent accurately the religion they despise.

(2) On Good Friday morning, Cardinal Nichols did an interview on the Home Service Today programme. As ever, he knew how to deal with the Press: he was sure-footed, well-expressed, even elegant. Some woman called Carney was interviewing him.

Vin began by neatly explaining that Catholics don't think about "Going to Church" as much as about "the Mass". Unabashed, the Carney continued to talk about "Going to Church".

Nichols explained that "every day in every Catholic church Mass is celebrated".

I suppose that one should go easy on the Carney, because her programme had been going on for three hours. We're all human. Not surprisingly, her mind had lost its original acuity. It was just two or three minutes before the end of the programme. But ...

She (I presume) looked down again at the list of THINGS TO ASK VN on her clip-board and enquired whether Catholic priests had been saying Mass during the last few days.

Just the teensy weensiest hint of exasperation slipped into His Eminence's voice here; he even allowed himself the words "As I say" before explaining the same stuff all over again to the silly creature, and emphasising "every single day". He was far more gentle with her than she deserved.

[Carney was on the Beeb again just now. She read a poem about the Island of Innisfree and explained to us that, in these hard times, "Nature" could bring us "solace". If the Virus isn't part of 'Nature', what on earth is it part of? How do these weird people define 'Nature'? How does it differ from the topoi and platitudes of modern Anglo-Irish lyric verse?]

As I've written before, our Meejah, when Economics is the subject, get somebody who can at least mug up a bit on Economics to do their interviewing. When it's Sport ...etc.etc. mutatis mutandis. When it comes to "Religion", however, the b*****s don't even bother to put up someone who can be bothered to listen.

[Incidentally ... (a)  the Cardinal did categorically quash the myth that the CBCEW had closed the Churches before being required to do so by the Government; and
(b) it is reported that Anglican prelaticals such as the Mullarkey have forbidden clerics from even going alone into their churches when they live adjoining them. Sieg Heil, Satana.]


16 April 2020


I am not blind to the difficulties facing popes, patriarchs and bishops during the Plague Crisis. They creditably feel that they have a civic, a communal duty to care for the temporal good of the countries in which they are domiciled. And, to a degree, they are right. What would have been gained if the public had got the impression that the Plague became worse than it needed to be because of the Papists? For long centuries, the 'Monument' in London bore an inscription reminding passers by that the Great Fire of London was started by Catholics! (It wasn't.)

But ...

There does have to be a But. Facilities deemed 'essential' remained open in our towns. It is a telling illustration of the marginalisation of the Faith of Jesus in this land that the Presence of the Tabernacled Lord, that the offering of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, were dismissed as being of no more importance than public games of football.

And that bishops accepted this implicit adjustment of priorities.

Mind you, one English bishop did become rather uneasy about locking all his churches up. And he has wondered why non-Christian places of worship appeared to feel these pressures perhaps rather less strongly than the CBCEW did.

We can all think "what should have been done". In Poland, the idea was raised of having so many Masses that congregations could be socially spaced in Church ... or in the open spaces where Mass happened. Every priest could have been given faculties to say five Masses a day and ten on Sundays! Yes ... ideas could cheerfully abound ...

Part of what I want to say is that pastors should not have panicked. But even more important than that ...

Pastors should responsibly discuss some of the key issues involved, real issues in secular Britain, such as the pressures put on Churches by the State. And, after all, it will not quite wash to say that "Nobody could know that Coronavirus was coming". A decade ago, Avian 'flu' appeared to be a lethal menace, and detailed planning took place. The fact that Avian 'flu' never took off does not change the fact that many people have felt that a major pandemic was a distinct and continuing probability.

PF is now planning his next preoccupying ego-trip, which will double up as another episode in his plan radically to damage the Catholic Church. A Synod on, er, Synodality. You couldn't make it up, could you?

So here he is, preparing to fly off yet again to Kai Lung's Garden of  Bright Images; to the Land of the Giants whom Don Quixote (should have gone to Specsavers) so valiantly attacked.

14 April 2020

Wrong priorities (1) Deceptive Windmills and Gardens Galore

What the Mighty Ones, the Great and the Good, deem to be their Priorities are often temptations of the Enemy. Come to think of it, this may also be true of the Lowly among us! I had better remember that.

Hilaire Belloc was particularly amused by the following couple of sentences in Kai Lung:
'"Your insight is clear and unbiased," said the gracious Sovereign. "But however entrancing it is to wander unchecked through a garden of bright images, are we not enticing your mind from a another subject of almost equal importance?"'.

Indeed. We can all get hung up on our treasured fancies and fantasies.

This entrancement happened in a very big way with regard to Jorge Brergoglio. His favourite chip ... on his favourite shoulder ... has been, from the very beginning of his pontificate, his fellow clergy, 'butterflies', 'neo-pelagians' ... followed closely by the devout laity ... the sort of misguided people who might offer him Rosary Bouquets.

Personally, I thought the most offensive thing in Amoris Laetitia was the footnote telling confessors to remember that the Confessional is not a torture chamber. That's what this ... man ... thinks of his brother clergy! I read that when I had just returned from supplying duty at a very busy church; I was literally aching after sitting for more than two hours bent up with my ear to the grille doing my best to help; so very often telling people not to beat themselves up too much about matters where they were, in my view, judging themselves too harshly.

And the ... poor silly man ... thinks of me and my brother priests as unsympathetic and stupid sadists.

Surely, there were and are (to recycle the the rococo irony of Kai Lung) other "subjects of almost equal importance" worthy to engage the attention of a Roman Pontiff.

We have just experienced what one writer characterised as the first time in two millennia that Easter Was Cancelled; when episcopates in collusion with governments and led by the Vicar of Someone quite simply forbade Christians even to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I will return to this monstrosity later, because it seems to me to raise enormous and disturbing matters of first principle.

To adapt some words of a famous spiritual writer of the last century:
"Even the best and most energetic of popes will one day have rest from his labours, and the lance of his successor often delivers the Church from the menace of some quite different windmill.".

This pontificate has been a pontificate of deceptive Windmills and distracting Gardens. Hidalgo Bergoglio has expended far too much of his energy in charging at the former. He has wandered unchecked in too many of the latter, where the bright images have blinded him to his true duties.

To be continued.

13 April 2020

'New' Saints in the Old Calendar

The recent Decree of the CDF permitted the optional  observance in the Old Roman Rite of Saints canonised since 1960.

But nobody, of course, will want to observe all the several hundreds of them! Journalists often do not understand that when a man or woman is added to the Catalogus Sanctorum, this does  not mean that they are observed on their feast day in every Catholic Church in the world. Not even in every Latin Catholic Church in the world! And even if they do achieve the status of being in the (Novus Ordo) Calendarium Romanum Generale, this stiill does not mean that they have compulsory observations . They may be (mere!) ad libitum memoriae.

So I have tried to collect those post 1960 canonisations which are in the General Roman Calendar as Saints who are to be observed obligatorily in the Novus Ordo. One might say that these have settled down into the piety of the faithful, and enjoy the full confidence of the Latin Church.

So how many hundreds does that reduce the applicants to? Well, it reduces the pressing crowds to just five commemorations (three of which, however, commemorate groups of Martyrs). And two of these five, square bracketed on the list beneath, fail at the last hurdle to make the cut.

So then there were three.

They are these:

IUNIUS 3   S Caroli Lwanga et Sociorum Martyrum.
[AUGUSTUS 14   S Maximiliani Mariae Kolbe Martyris; but he will be kept out in the ccold by the II Class Vigil of the Assmption.]
SEPTEMBER 20   Ss Andreae Kim et Sociorum Martyrum.
                          23   S Pii de Pietrelcina Confessoris.
[NOVEMBER 24   Ss Andreae Dung-Lac et Sociorum Martyrum collides with S John of the Cross.]

So, if one desires, one can observe these three de facto as Class III Saints, using the Commons in the Missal and Breviary.

Please let me know if I've made mistakes or forgotten somebody ... I probably have.

If anyone wants a list of Commemorations which are optional in the Novus Ordo, let me know. I think it might amount to 12-15, including those post-Conciliar popes, Mother Theresa ...

And remember that there are also people like S Louis Grignion de Montfort, who were canonised well before 1960, but who only made the transition from pro aliquibus locis to the Calendarium Romanum Generale after that date.

12 April 2020


Sandford Lock, at Sandford upon Thames, is not to be confused with Dry Sandford (where once the distinguished emeritus bishop of Ebbsfleet maintained his episcopium, sadly distant from his eponymous sandbank and his very grand private railway station). The other side of the Lock was the home of the recusant Powell family, and the church contains a fine Assumpta, which was concealed at the Reformation.

Regina caeli, laetare!

It is edifying to consider the importance of the River in the days before roads were anything better than mud-baths. At the Dissolution, loot from the suppressed Abbey ar Reading, including fine panelling, travelled upstream to grace Magdalen College; that carving of the Assumption hidden in Sandford churchyard could have come from Oxford or Abendon; the allegorical painting in the ceiling of Wren's first commission, the Sheldonian Theatre, was painted in London and barged upstream.

Now, of course, the Isis exists for little more than recreation and undergraduate rowing.

And for leisure. One of the aspects of this involves the longboats moored along the banks for summer use or, occasionally, as permanent or semipermanent homes.

The other day, taking the daily exercise still graciously permitted by the Authorities, I strolled down there to count the cormorants and to admire the kingfisher. And there was a new boat moored there which made me pause in thought. It is very smart, painted partly in a colour you might call Cardinals' Red.

Its name is "Vinny Boy".

Gracious, I thought. Warming to my theme, and suddenly inspired by the wraith of Warden Spooner, I wondered if this might be the Eminent Retirement Home of the Most Imminent the Father in God the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

The masculine name would otherwise be unusual. You see, most of those boats have feminine names. I assume this is because when the rude mechanicals who own them gather together for laughter and lager, they like to be able to make sophisticated jokes to each other such as "You gonna be getting on board Petunia next weekend?"

A few yards North of Vinny Boy, Nirvana II is safely tethered.

God bless her and all who sail in her. I wonder what fearful catastrophe befell Nirvana I.

We must all remember to wish Cardinal Vincent a buoyant retirement (Plaudite! Plaudite!), when he retires.

10 April 2020

Our Lady of Solitude

May the Mother of God, our blessed Lady of Solitude, Mediatrix of All Graces, pray for all those who, this Pascha, have been left alone by the loss of those whom they loved.

Pestilence, Abortion and Euthanasia in Perelandra?

"And will you teach us Death?" asked the Lady to Weston's shape, where it stood above her.

"Yes", it said, "it is for this that I came here, that you may have Death in abundance".

Geoffrey Kirk

Early this Good Friday morning, Dr Geoffrey Kirk, priest, theologian, wit, satirist, blogger, bon viveur, slipped away into the Eternal Pasch. Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales, Qui nos pascis hic mortales: Tuos ibi commensales, Coheredes et sodales Fac sanctorum civium.

9 April 2020

Join us at the Table

It seems an eternity ago; another age; but in reality it's hardly a decade. Back in those Church of England days I had the considerable privilege of sitting round a table in a basement in Gordon Square with half a dozen others in a Working Party, putting together a statement about our theological position (Consecrated Women). There was a great sense within that group of a mission: to fill up and then to guide a lifeboat to the rescue ship. Most of us are now in the Ordinariate; but others, including some of those who seemed most enthusiastic and vocal about the 'Roman Option', are still with the remnants in the Church of England, gratefully scavenging whatever scraps they can. They include one who was, as well as being a member of our Working Party, also the secret Theological Adviser to an initiative unrelated to the Working Party: a secret group of Anglican bishops (seven diocesans and at least a couple of others) who made secret dead-of-night visits with secret overtures to Rome but who drew their secret and trembling toes back up out of the water when Benedict XVI made public his offer of an Ordinariate. (I wonder if those bishops - especially those of them who are now associated with the Society of SS Wilfred and Hilda -  feel at all ashamed about how they treated that dear good old man as they sit in their retirement homes, nothing to do now except to polish carefully each day their Reasons For Not Going and to feed the cat and to go to Waitrose with their wives).

I often think about the still-Anglican members of that Working Party, and my other friends in the priesthood and episcopate of the provinces of Canterbury and York, with great affection, mingled with sadness at the thought of how much fun, how much sense of real purpose, they are missing out on; how much real talent is being wasted on a dead end; how very much some of them could offer to the great project outlined by Aidan Nichols, of repatriating to Catholic Unity all that was good in Anglicanism. So far, we haven't attended to much more than the liturgical side of things; I claim that I am doing my humblest best but there's work here for dozens (especially, but by no means only, those with academic skills). And there are others who have spent decades talking about Unity with the See of Peter ... what is one to say ...

Yes; I know that 'Papalism' seems much less attractive, even less convincing, under the present clique in Rome. But, honestly, that is a reason for diving in rather than digging in. The Papacy is more than just one Argentinian. 

I ought to make it clear that I am not 'proselytising'. I do not have in mind younger clergy who have, with a good conscience, discerned a particular ministry to be completed within the Church of England. I am not thinking of those who are not and never have been 'papalists'; those for whom going to Rome is as problematic (or even more so) than staying. I have in mind solely those who, when we were together, by their words and body-language, made clear that Rome, 'the rock from which we were hewn' as one of them repeatedly put it, was the answer to our pressing need; those who cheerfully said to a PEV 'Give us the lead, Bishop, and we'll follow'; those who told us that they would just put in the few more years necessary to secure their pensions and then join us; and, inexplicably, have been nowhere to be seen since the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus.

Of one thing I am sure. When their time comes, it must be made easy for them (and indeed also for those ex-diocesan bishops, if only they can be man enough and humble enough). There must be no unpleasant nonsense about how they missed the opportunity when the 'terms' were easy. Men who have spent 50 years in the Sacred Priesthood, who are priests to their fingertips, must not be told that they are "too old" for the presbyterate of the Ordinariate; that never again can they expect to stand at an altar holding in their hands the Adorable Sacrifice, that vocation which in the Mind of the Eternal was theirs before the ages began. There must be no manufacturing of hoops  ... detoxification periods ... long periods of 'formation' ... There must be no subtle (or unsubtle!) systems of discouragement. The spirit of Benedict's gracious intentions must be honoured to the full. The doors must be widely and generously and permanently open. These are good and able men, fine priests, who are called by God to give service in His Vineyard. To treat them in any way otherwise would be positively very wicked.

But I do urge them not to hang around. We're Keeping The Home Fires Burning until you are ready to Come In From The Cold! Risky, however, to leave it! Do you really want to die in the C of E as it is now, let alone as it will be in a couple of decades? What would you lose by making discreet enquiries?

8 April 2020

Olives, oil, and Chrism ... the end! (5)

In 1955, the Bugnini reformers eliminated the final paragraph from the Prayer to Consecrate the Chrism.

It was a paragraph which, in some early Missals, had served as the proper preface of the Mass itself. So Hannibal and chums restored it to its former use as the preface of the Mass, removing it at the same time from the Prayer to Consecrate Chrism.

If one has to fiddle, I had better admit, that was not a bad piece of fiddling to do, and it did have solid tradition behind it. An Anglican liturgist Leonard Mitchell, commenting in 1966, wrote "The preface of the missa chrismalis is of great beauty, and it has been again assigned by the Roman Catholic Church to the chrismal mass in the 'restored' Holy Week rites of 1955".

Well, after the Council, the next group of Clevers to start bodging clumsily all over Holy Week decided they could, after all, write a yet better Preface. Richer and Cleverer. They needed to allude to the "renewal of the vows of priestly servic" and all that sort of thing. And (such was the way of things in the 1960s) because they could, they did. The policy of the rapist all down the ages.

But the passage to which I referred in my first two paraphs was shoved back into one of the alternative Prayers for Consecrating Chrism, so I suppose I should not complain too much.

So I offer you in my own wooden and literal translation this passage "of great beauty":

" ... that, for those who are to be made new by the Baptism of spiritual washing, thou mightest strengthen the creature of Chrism to be a sacrament of perfect salvation and of life; that, the sanctification of anointing being poured forth, the corruption of their first birth being taken away [literally, swallowed, absorpta] the holy Temple [i.e. body] of each one of them may be redolent with the perfume of the innocence of an acceptable life; that, according to the sacrament of thine institution [secundum constitutionis tuae sacramentum], being drenched [perfusi] with kingly and priestly and and prophetic honour, they may be clad in the garment of thine incorrupt gift [vestimento incorrupti muneris induantur]."

6 April 2020

Best wishes and prayers ...

... to and for all my friends in the US of A at this terrible time. And particular good wishes to friends ... friends I know and friends I don't know ... not least, 'Gardone' friends ... in and around  New York, which has been much on our tv screems in these recent days.

And all the good friends I have made ... 'Anglican Use' friends ... in the Lone Star State. Perhaps you might remember me to our Lady of Candellaria, our Lady of the Atonement.

And those throughout the world with whom I have been in touch , or who have thought either well or ill of me as they have read what I have written.

And my fellow Countrymen; including my fathers and brothers and sisters in the Ordinariate or whom I may have served in the cause of Tradition.

Naturally, one becomes aware that at any moment one could, oneself, be struck down. Nine tenths of those dying in Britain of the Coronavirus Plague are above the age of 60! Should this happen to me, I ask the charity of your prayers, and ... of all my brother priests ... the charity of the August Sacrifice.

If God wills, I will offer Mass tomorrow for all of you.

Post Scriptum: if you should chance to hear of my demise or incapacity, please do not stop reading this blog. You see, I do keep a bit ahead of the Calendar with drafted blogposts in case I am on some particular day too busy or preoccupied to write something, so it might even appear that I am addressing you from beyond the grave. Spooky, yes??

Once upon a time ...

There exists indisputable archival evidence, including a photograph, that, on December 26 1966, a major Religious Superior, an Archbishop, celebrated Holy Mass facing the people, and concelebrating with his brother priests.

This is hardly remarkable. It was a year and a half since the promulgation (7 March 1965) of the post-Conciliar Ritus Servandus in Concelebratione Missae. And, of course, disorderly clergy had been experimenting according to their personal whimsies for  years, if not decades.

What does give a certain piquancy to this information is that the Archbishop concerned was Marcel Lefebvre, Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers.

I will make three points:

(1) Only four Conciliar Fathers voted against the Conciliar liturgical Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium. How is this to be understood? There are still people around who lie and deceive; they remind us of this statistic in order to try to convince us, wickedly and mendaciously, that all the Fathers except for a mere four were strongly in favour of
     (a) all the vicious and unnecessary textual revolutions in liturgical books which (unmandated) followed the Council; and
     (b) the drastic abolition, accompanied by what one can only call bullying, of an entire liturgical culture; and
     (c) the massive vandalisation of churches.

The claim, explicit or implicit, that these things were 'ordered by the Council', is a wantonly and grossly mendacious retrojection. It bears the finger-prints of the Father of Lies himself. Most of the Council Fathers expected a very much more modest reform. That is why only four voted against the draft decree. The Fathers certainly did not anticipate the displacement, however optional, of the Roman Canon -- a move which is not even hinted at in the Decree.

(2) There was an expectation that a modest reform was going to happen. And only four Fathers, of whom Archbishop Lefebvre was not one, resisted this general expectation. Accordingly, it is in no way surprising that Marcel Lefebvre was prepared to concelebrate and (as the Ritus Servandus prescribed) to do so facing the people. Indeed, as early as April 1963, the Archbishop had written to the Rectors of the major scholasticates of his order forbidding Mass versus populum but with a caveat: "other than exceptionally and after necessary permission has been obtained". He was not  an integriste bigot.

(3) The 1965 liturgical rules still envisaged only one Eucharistic Prayer, the Canon Romanus, and expected the Latin language and all the usual rituals to be observed (concelebrants even wore maniples!). Only Iudica me Deus and the Last Gospel had been, three months earlier, removed from the Mass.

An important piece of collateral damage, resulting from the disasters of the 1960s and 1970s, is that we have been deprived of the sort of very gentle and principled liturgical evolution which happened after Trent and which most bishops rightly expected after Vatican II.

The highly intelligent optional permissions for the Usus Antiquior granted by the two recent decrees of the CDF, combined with the possibilities allowed in Summorum Pontificum, constitute exactly the sort of thing which should have been able to follow Vatican II.

Finally, the proper organic evolution of the Ancient Roman Rite has been, with gentle skill, got under way. These two CDF decrees are not as significant as Summorum Pontificum; SP opened up the possibility of thousands of priests learning how to celebrate, and indeed celebrating, a form of the Old Rite only slightly deformed by the period 1950-2000. But the CDF decrees, combined with permissions to celebrate the Old Holy Week, are a very important step, theologically as well as liturgically.

These are the sort of developments which were prevented from happening half a century ago by a gang whom Louis Bouyer rightly called the Madmen ... intent on bringing the whole edifice of Catholic worship crashing down in an atmosphere of hate-filled Rupture.

2 April 2020


Circulating on the Internet are texts purporting to come from the Congregation for Divine Worship, allegedly authorising formulae for use (in the Naughty Ordo) in time of plague.

One phrase sticks out: God is invited to "grind your people down" (tere).

Is this
(1) a cheeky compositor's attempt at a witticism, rather like the infamous Harcourt Interpolation in The Times newspaper of 23 January 1882? Or
(2) an April Fools' Day joke in rather poor taste? Or
(3) yet another typo in the unbroken tradition of typos and howlers which have made the CDW such a laughing stock over the last half-century?

Mariam invoca: our Lady in time of plague

I offer you my own my recension of this medieval antiphon to our Lady in time of plague. I have expanded e into ae where modern convention requires this, and arranged it so as to bring out the rhymes.

You could call it a sort of sonnet ...

Stella caeli extirpavit
  (quae lactavit Dominum)
mortis pestem, quam plantavit
  primus parens hominum.

Ipsa stella nunc dignetur
  sidera compescere,
quorum bella plebem caedunt
  dirae mortis ulcere.

O gloriosa stella maris,
a peste succurre nobis.

Audi nos: nam Filius tuus
  nil negans te honorat.
Salva nos, Jesu, pro quibus
  Virgo mater te orat. 

The first two stanzas and the final one employ trochaic tetrameters catalectic in the style of those of Pange lingua. But at O gloriosa a syllable gets added and the regularities of both rhyme and rhythm are subverted: does this heighten the emotion?

In the final stanza, I suggest that Filius is to be pronounced Filyus, and I write nil for nihil. I am far from sure that I am right about these two lines!

A translation on the internet makes a hash of quorum ... ulcere by not realising that the verb is caedunt and that ulcere .is an ablative singular, its ending guaranteed by the rhyme with compescere.

The Star of Heaven (who nourished the Lord) rooted up the plague of death which the first father of mankind planted; 
may that same Star now deign to hold in check the constellations, whose wars strike down the people with the sore of a dread death. 
O glorious Star of the sea, succour us from the plague. 
Hear us: for thy Son, denying thee nothing, honours thee. Save us, Jesus, for whom thy Virgin Mother implores thee.

Medieval science attributed plagues to configurations among the constellations ... helpfully reminding us that all 'scientific laws' are really just falsifiable hypotheses, God bless them.

I wonder if the Astronomer Royal is present at COBRA meetings ... 

1 April 2020

Modern Anglican Liturgy

The Christian Year: Calendar, Lectionary, and  Collects (Church House Publishing, 1997, ISBN 0 7151 3799 9) gave Anglicans a very fine text, authorised in Old Mother Damnable for use on today's festival of Priscilla Proudie, Educationalist and Worker for Women's Rights.

Almighty and Everlasting God, who raised up Priscilla Proudie from the low estate of the niece of a Scottish Earl, and made her equally adverse to impropriety of every description: grant us so to benefit from the example of her meekness and humility; that we may ever practise perfect abstinence from any cheering employment upon the Sabbath.

This collect is a perfect composition. Those learned in such matters will recognise the natural grace of the rhythmic cursus with which it is composed: one trispondaicus, and two examples of velox. None but a liturgical genius could have been so served by his own fine instincts as to produce such a masterpiece.

I feel sure that it must come from the pen of 'Bubbles' Stancliffe himself, quondam Bishop of Salisbury, whose deft and skilful hand guided the Church of England through the minefields of Liturgical Revision. You might call him the Great Anglican Bugnini. Does any reader know whether he, too, belonged to 'The Craft'?

He had begun life as One of Us; opposed to disorders such as the 'ordination' of women. But something led him astray.  I remember to this day the moment when a dear episcopal friend of mine, Christopher Luxmoore, strode into the Senior Common Room during breakfast complaining "Have you heard? Stancliffe has ratted".

The postman, faithful soul, brought Bubbles his mitre the very next morning. 

[Perhaps I have condensed that narrative a trifle ... but notalot ...]

As a somewhat 'rigid' authority might have put it, "Verily I say unto you, he had his reward".

So many of those right reverend b*****ds did.

H/t to Joshua, Liturgiste Extraordinaire,  for his painstaking research.