31 August 2020

Diminished Pigmentation

As I made a Commemoration this morning of S Raymond the Unborn, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a sense of confusion. How on earth is one to virtue-signal one's political-correctness when confronted by mutually exclusive pointers?

S Raymond (men) worked for the liberation of slaves. That ought to make him a favourite and hero of the  agalmatophobic zealots who are cleansing our public places of memorials honouring slave-trade profiteers.

S Raymond (de) was liberating slaves from Moslems ... who are referred to as Impii in today's collect. Ever since S Paul VI so gloriously surrendered the Lepanto banners to the Turk, and Vatican II made its questionable remarks about the Islamic religion, this sort of language has been off-limits, surely, among woke prelates? But, surely, slavers are, by definition, impii?

Furthermore, the slaves whom S Raymond was liberating probably, as a generalisation, may have had diminished pigmentation compared with the melanic enhancement (again, I take the risk of generalising) of their enslavers. How does that fit in with a dogmatic "***** Lives Matter" ideology?

Can linguistically advanced readers offer me any guidance on how to be more politically-correct? And how, in a fallen world, to avoid split-infinitives and excessive use of the hyphen?


Post Scriptum:
A week or two ago, I saw a video clip of some pigmentation-depleted young people being arrested in North America for chalking on a pavement something like "Preborn Black Lives Matter". Has that 'story' yet had a denouement?

30 August 2020

The Importance of Nativity

"Dr [X] looked out of the window. 'There is my dullest pupil just ringing the bell, ' he said. 'I must go to the study, and listen to an essay on Swift beginning 'Swift was born.'"

Which fictional don (i.e. 'Dr X') said this?

The "binitarian" genius of the Roman Rite (4)

Oops ... instead, I'll let Gregory Dix say it for me ...

" ... the pre-Nicene theology of the incarnation as a rule regarded it, not as we do, as the effect of a conception 'by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary', but as a conception 'by the Logos (the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity) of the Virgin Mary'. The eternal Word of God Himself, the creative Logos 'coming down to us' as Athanasius himself said, 'formed for Himself the Body from the Virgin.' However perverse it may seem to us, 'the Spirit' which came upon Mary and 'the Power of te Most High' which overshadowed her were unanimously interpreted by the second century christian writers as meaning the Second not the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. And this nterpretation, general in the pre-Nicene church, lasted on in many quarters during the fourth century. It is accepted and used by all the anti-Arian stalwarts, Athanasius, Hilary, Ambrose, and Gregory Nazianzene, as a normal expression of orthodoxy. This 'Spitit = Word' terminology is obviously related to the 'Spitit = Presence-of-God' terminology  ... It is also likely that both are originally connected in pre-christian jewish thought with the idea of the sanctity and 'power' of the Name of God ... The 'Spirit = Word' terminology is, like the 'Spirit = Presence idea in christian usage, a survival of the New Testament conception of the 'presence' of the heavenly Christ as the 'quickening Spirit' in His members on earth ... What is important to our purpose here is that such language was still currently used of the eucharist in the fourth century, so that S Ambrose does not hesitate to say to catechumens about the sacrament. 'The Body of Christ is the Body of "Divine Spirit", for the Spirit is Christ.'"

When Dix moves on to the first main exegete of the eucharistic, consecratory, Eucharist, he writes:

" ... from end to end of Cyril's account of the liturgy and throughout his eucharistic teaching, Christ plays only a passive part in the eucharist. He is simply the divine VictimWhose Body and Blood are 'made' by the action of the Holy Ghost, that the earthly church may offer Him to the Father 'in propitiation for our sins'. The older tradition was that He is the active agent in the eucharist, who offers the Church as found 'in Him'..

Dom Gregory Dix, using the in-house slang of dear old 1930s Anglo-Catholicism, tells us: "The church of Jerusalem in the fourth century is 'very advanced' and S Cyril is 'a very extreme man', with no overwhelming reverence for old-fashioned churchmanship."!

I have a few concluding comments.

29 August 2020

Only for brilliant English stylists

"To say that the book is beautifully written would be mere impertinence; we expect no less from one of the most brilliant living stylists."

Who wrote this [in the 1930s] about whom?  

The "binitarian" genius of the Roman Rite (3)

On second thoughts, I will not do what I promised last time. Instead, I will quote the massive Historian of the Roman Rite, J A Jungmann, because, surprisingly, he says what I want to say so much better than I could say it.

He is writing about the Gloria in excelsis, but what he says applies very neatly also to the Canon.

" ... some commentators ... make excuses for the fact that the Holy Ghost is mentioned only at the very end, and then only in passing ... No, God and Christ are the pillars of the Christian order of the universe: God, the beginning and the end of all things, towards whom all religious seeking is bent and all prayer eventually is turned; but in the Christian order also Christ, the way, the road on which all our God-seeking must be directed. Therefore in St Paul's letters we find this duality of God and Christ not only in the introductory salutation, but time and time again throughout the writing. And if at times St Paul rounds out the duality and completes it in the Trinity, this is done not so much to acknowledge the three divine Persons themselves, as, rather, to mark more distiunctly the structure of the Christian order of salvation, in which our ascent to God is vouchsafed through Christ in the Holy Spirit.".

Perhaps I may put it crudely: if someone asks you what you have been doing all day, you don't say "Breathing". You assume that as the background, indeed, as an essential presupposition, to your activities. And Pneuma is the Greek for ... among a number of other things ... Breath.

In the next part of this, I give some doctrinal background..

28 August 2020

Only for happily married couples

"Like most happily married couples, they lived in a state of perpetual propaganda at each other's expense."

Who wrote this?

Is it true? (If responding, please state your gender or, as the case may be, your sex.)

The "binitarian" genius of the Roman Rite (2)

Dom Gregory Dix, our great Anglo-Papalist Doctor, had a particular dislike of the quaint and ludicrous old-style proddy superstition that a Doctrine needs to be clearly laid out in Scripture before it could be imposed on the Faithful (by this daft principle, the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility, and the Assumption can at best only be deemed 'opinions'). In what follows, he is concerned to explode an old adage dear to some Anglicans, limiting Doctrine to what has been believed "everywhere, always, and by all". Hear his devastating attack upon this twaddle ... appreciate the characteristically impish glee, especially in the elegant last three sentences! (His Bishops hated and feared him; he is still very much part of our Ordinariate Patrimony.)

"The doctrine of the full Deity of the Holy Ghost ... was defined in 381 ... There is nothing in the N.T. which clearly indicates that the Orthodox doctrine is certainly right ... St Athanasius and St Basil ... appealed, naturally, to scripture and tradition, and it is notorious how defective in substance their appeal is found to be when it is closely examined. It is also remarkable that in the works which they wrote to vindicate this doctrine both carefully avoid even once applying the decisive word 'God' to the Holy Ghost [the same, of course, is true of the 'Nicene Creed'] ... St Gregory Nazianzen, 'the theologian' par excellence for the East, under whose presidency the Oecumenical Council of 381 actually defined the doctrine, is explicit that there were but 'few' who acepted it in his day and that Athanasius was the first and almost the only doctor to whom God had vouchsafed light on this subject. Elsewhere he is even more devastatingly honest with the admission that while the N.T. plainly revealed the Godhead of the Son it no more than 'hinted at' (hupodeixen) that of the Holy Ghost ... This is some distance from talk of 'most certain warrants of holy Scripture' ... 

"That the full doctrine of the Spirit's Godhead was then believed in some sense 'everywhere' we may hope, although the evidence is not reassuring. That it had 'always' been believed by some we may suppose, though the evidence is at least defective. That it had previously been believed 'by all' is demonstrably untrue.".

The Gloria in excelsis is old enough to predate the dogmatising of 381; hence, it only brings in the Holy Ghost with its conclusion. The same is true of the Canon of the Mass. After 381, an 'Epiclesis' came to be deemed essential in Eastern Eucharistic Prayers, and even made a few inroads in the West. But the Canon Romanus was content to continue with the much older notion that the Gifts become the Lord's Body and Blood by virtue of their acceptance by the Father.

But ... Time moves on. Perhaps the post-Vatican II innovators were right to clutter up their new Missal with Orientalising Invocations of the Spirit? I hear you all asking me this.

In my next part, I intend to justify, against the Orientalisers, against the Modernisers, and against any other -isers, the retention of the ancient teaching incorporated in our Roman Canon.

(I blame the laity for our problems. How often, dear lay readers, have you given your priest some scissors as a prezzy, making clear that you expect him to use them to cut those 'Alternative Eucharistic Prayers' out of his Novus Ordo Missal?

'Nuff said.)

27 August 2020

Tribalism and Xenophobia

I hope to return tomorrow to the theme I began yesterday.

I don't think 'the modern generation' understands how instictively tribal we all were, even, say, a mere seventy years ago.

Every peasant in England was either Oxford or Cambridge when it came to supporting a university in the annual Boat Race, depending on family affections (or otherwise) for Squire or Parson or Doctor. Every family was 'Labour' or 'Conservative' or 'Liberal'. My father was not protected from such tribalism by having Seen The World as a sailorman. Indeed, his primary prejudices arose from his loyalty to the Navy. In the Thirties he built an Art Deco house in the middle of the countryside ... and named it after his Ship!! The largest picture in it was a gigantic Victorian engraving of Viscount Nelson raising a wine glass; the caption was "THE TOAST IS: BRITAIN". Of course, he would use the N-word as everybody then did; but there was no animus in his unreconstructed lexical habits. Perhaps his greatest contempt for tribes which were Other was reserved for the British Army. Having grown up in a garrison town, he had strong views about their ridiculous preoccupation with Drill, the fatuous pomposity of their silly salutes, their generally absurd and class-ridden culture.

He had seen the world; so he knew for certain that Natives were happiest by far under the Btitish Empire. But after the War, when travel again became possible, and we went on holiday to a European country, I became aware of his dislike of armed police. That man, after all, could just take out that revolver and shoot someone dead with it.

He was convinced that countries with such phenomena as armed police did not count as "free".

After all, of the many gaps dividing human from human, the gap between the man who can (possibly even on mere impulse) shoot you stone dead within five seconds without even getting near you, and the man who can't, is one of the most radical divides.

In my teens, I sloughed off most of my paternal xenophobia fairly rapidly ... I discovered a fascination for languages, and you can't easily love someone's language while despising them. But my Father's loathing for gun-toting cops lingered in my mind. I recall a feeling of genuine, physical revulsion when, decades later, during a terrorism crisis, I saw a couple of plods patrolling Heathrow Airport, with guns.

As the decades continue to roll past, my inherited feeling that countries where the police wear side-arms do not really count as 'free' has (I am glad to be able to reassure you) gradually evaporated. But not, quite, entirely. Whenever I see ... for example, a video-clip on a news bulletin, showing police with fire-arms in their hands pumping multiple bullets at point-blank range into someone's back ... there comes, unbidden, into my mind, my Father's view that

That is not a free country.

I just can't help it.


26 August 2020

The glory of Mary; and the 'binitarian' genius of the Roman Rite (1)

Glory be to God on high, and in earth peace to men of good will. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory:
   O Lord God, heavenly king, God the Father Almighty; 
   O Lord the only begotten Son, Jesu Christ;  
   O Spirit and dear advocate of orphans. 

O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, First-born of Mary the Virgin Mother, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us; thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer to the glory of Mary; Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us. 

For thou only art the Holy One, making Mary holy; thou only art the Lord, ruling Mary; thou only, O Jesu Christ, art the Most High, crowning Mary, with the Holy Ghost, in the glory of God the Father. Amen..

For your interest, I have laid out the Gloria in excelsis Deo in an adapted-Cranmer translation, as it was appointed to be sung or said on feasts of our Lady in the Rite of Sarum. I have entered in red the additions made therein to the basic text. This sort of text is called 'farced', and was, I believe, mentioned at the Council of Trent as an example of liturgical corruption! Until at least the time of Leo XIII, that is, comparatively recently, the Missal of S Pius V still retained a rubric specifically indicating that the standard text was to be used even on feasts of our Lady! (Does the removal of this rubric mean that the Marian version is now debanned?!) Personally, I find these additions not unattractive, particularly in the last paragraph.

But you will be panting to point out to me that the first interpolation is nothing to do with the Mother of God; it serves instead to import  the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity in a clause perhaps suggested by the Magnificat Antiphon on Ascension Day. It is designed to 'complete' the parallelism with the references to the other two Persons. Indeed, some earlier texts (Codex Alexandinus; Bangor Antiphonary) had also squeezed the Holy Ghost into this part of the canticle. (It has to be admitted that this trinitarianisation of the first part of the Canticle results in imposing upon the whole formula quite a different structure from that of the unfarced text.)

Understandable. People felt they ought to import the Holy Ghost into more or less everything, as soon as the Dogma of His Divinity had been articulated and Defined ...
 ... oops! I misspoke. I'd better withdraw the objectionable and improper implication that the Dogma was a novelty. I do withdraw it unreservedly. But I'll explain in part (2) how I came to make such a mistake. 

25 August 2020

Titular Sees ... and S Teresa of Calcutta ... and episcopal werewolves

Foul weather here in Blighty today. The Weather Community tells us that there will be calamity, disaster, disorder. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, if not their five Aunties. For some reason, they have given the storm the title "Francis". (I bet Mr Ivereigh is hopping mad. He probably blames it on the malign influence of Converts.)

However, I will do what comes so easily to us poor old gentlemen: I shall hunker down, stay at home,  and meditate on how everything has deteriorated since yesteryear.

In yesteryear, when everything was so perfect, when I was a bonny baby being pushed around in my perambulator ... I just loved those glorious Episcopal Sees in partibus infidelium. What a joy to know that, in Tudor Exeter, there was William, Bishop of Hippo in partibus. How his Confirmation candidates must have hung upon his every word! How Henry Tudor must have feared his fulminations on the subject of the Civitas Dei!

I gurgled with glee.

Now that the Roman See has put a stopper to these titular delights, it is often hard to know whether some prelate is Anglican or Catholic. Take, for example, the Bishop of Much Wenlock. He is quite a source of bons mots. (Here's a choice example: "Facts are only steam which obscures the mirror of truth": reliably recorded by a Protonotary Apostolic, R A Knox).

Time was, when one could be fairly confident that such a gentleman would be an Anglican Suffragan Bishop (probably a close friend of the Bishop of Buckingham).

But now ... after seven decades of ecumenical rapprochement ... how can we be sure that he is not the latest member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales? Perhaps, yet another Westminster auxiliary? Destined for Birmingham when Bernard gets Westminster?

Changing the subject to my next grumble: there are silly people on the internet complaining about somebody or other who has done a very sensible comparison of PF with S Pius X (possibly inspired by the rumours about the imminent encyclical Stuprandi Dominici Gregis)..

Oh dear. Does nobody nowadays ever read Plutarch? You'd better watch my Blog with trepidation, because I am preparing a major and definitive comparison of Pol Pot and Mother Teresa.

And finally ... there is a picture on the internet of Archbishop Hesse of Hamburg (didn't Hitler have a chum with this name?), whose mind (he desires us to know) is not closed to the possibility of wyminpriests. A man of the Future? More, I suggest, a man of the past. His chasuble is embroidered with the sort of cross that German military uniforms often bore during the Third Reich.

I bet he's a werewolf.

It's still raining.

24 August 2020

Formal and Material Collabration again.

D'you know, at one point I was tempted to consider a career in Criminal Law? It's as well I dropped the idea; the Law is far beyond me.

One of our judges has just sentenced a youth to at least 55 years in jug for murder ... when the fellow took no hand in a mass killing carried out by his brother but just helped to plan and facilitate it. And do you remember Adolf Eichmann? The Israeli courts sentenced him to the drop, although his defence was that he had never killed a Jew but had simply organised their transportation to Death (I shall not enable comments which tell me that not nearly as many Jews were killed etc. etc., so don't waste your time).

Yet, a few years ago, two senior Glaswegian midwives were sacked ... and our courts upheld their sacking. The midwives had argued that the Conscience Clauses in our abortion legislation excused them from having to organise other people to do the killing. The judges held that the Conscience Clauses did no more than excuse these women from their own personal physical participation in the killing.

I have problems with what seems to me to be a logical dislocation between these two approaches.

23 August 2020

Bishop John Grandisson

August 23, the day after the Octave Day of the Assumption, was designated as his Obit Day by Bishop Grandisson ... although it was not in fact the Day of his Death.

Decades before, he had ordered that his Installation was to be on that Octave Day, because of his great devotion to our blessed  Lady of Mercy.

He ordered that, on that Octave Day, the Benedictus should have this interpolation:  
Benedictus Filius Mariae qui venit ...

He was a very great Pontiff. He was a buddy of our late Holy Father Pope John XXII and, in my view, is probably responsible for the 'English' monument to that pope in Avignon Cathedral. He introduced Corpus Christi to his Diocese, and gave magnificent monstrances to the Cathedral and to his Collegiate Church at Ottery.

He once sent his private army to repel a Metropolitical Visitation by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It would be great fun if Bishop O'Toole had a similar exchange with his Metropolitan Archbishop. Which side would the Tablet take?

I wonder what odds the bookies are giving on O'Toole for Westminster.

22 August 2020

Texts (see post earlier today)

Choirs of angels rejoice, all the saints exult: they welcome their Queen with festivity, with the rejoicing of all creation. The pilgrim Church is joyful and praises God the almighty Father: he has done great thing in his humble servant, and raised her to the royal throne of the Son. This is the Easter of the Virgin Mother, who is raised in her body to the glory of heaven, radiant image of the Church in the future, brought to perfection in the kingdom. This is the day in which the new Adam, who overcame sin and death, raised the new Eve to be beside him, as his obedient and generous companion. Today the Virgin Mother of God, immaculate in her conceptiom, and virgin even after giving birth, triumphs over the corruption of the grave. O happy wedding day: the great daughter of Zion is presented to the Bridegroom, the Lord, adorned in pure beuaty. O day of exceeding hope: today the Star has been lit in heaven to light up the path of humanity with gentle rays of divine splendor. This is the day of peace and hope that sees the Mother, mediator of grace, adorned with the glory of the Son, watching over the steps of all her children. O God, receive our prayers on this festival day: may the Light that glows fully in Mary also shine in us. To you, God the Father, be glory and praise; you who live and reign with Christ your Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. R/ Amen.

Exsultet iam Angelica turba caelorum, exsultant et universi Sancti dum Reginam laetanter excipiunt cum quibus omnis concelebrat gaudiis creatura. Laetatur et Ecclesia in terra peregrinans dum Patrem laudat Omnipotentem, qui ancillae suae mirabilia fecit et in Unigeniti thronum eam exaltavit.  Haec sunt enim festa Paschalia Deiparae Virginis, quae ad caelestem gloriam in suo corpore assumpta est, Ecclesiae in regno consummandae fulgens imago. Haec est dies in qua Novus Adam peccati mortisque Victor Novam Evam in solium sublimavit ministram suam et Matrem nobis faventem. Felix namque dies in qua Dei Genetrix in sua Conceptione immaculata et post partum Virgo sepulchri triumphat corruptionem. O vere beatae nuptiae, in quibus Filia Sion Sponso et Domino tota formosa praesentatur. Dies felix, dies spei, dies coelestis stellae luce illuminata, semitam mortalibus suis divini splendoris radiis ostendens. Felix haec planeque pacis veneranda dies, in qua Gratiarum Mediatrix Filii gloria induta negotiis omnium filiorum invigilat. In huius igitur diei gratia suscipe Sancte Pater supplicationes nostras; concede ut quod in Maria omni plenitudine lumen ardet in nobis quoque indeficiens perseveret. Sit Tibi Deo Patri omnis honor et gloria, qui cum Christo Unigenito tuo vivis et regnas in unitate Spiritus Sancti per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. 

Mostly for Christian Latinists

Before the Solemnity of the Assumption, I wrote a couple of posts about a Vigil service of the Assumption, modelled on some elements of the Easter Vigil.

The (lit) Easter Candle was brought to a congregation outside the Church; a presbyteral 'Greeting' introduced the rite; the people lit their own candles; and the procession moved to the Church (Canticle: Revelation 19: 1-7). Upon arrival, the Candle was placed next to an Icon of the Dormition or Assumption. Candle and icon were censed, and then a Lucernarium was chanted.

I had publishd the text of the Lucernarium the previous day and asked readers where it came from; I received very kind and helpful answers, which are on the thread attached to this. I particularly enjoyed the Comment which gave analogies from popular Byzantine culture. That sort of contribution makes blog-writing somehow seem worth it!

At the end of the Lucernarium, the faithful extinguished their candles. A liturgy of the Word followed, with the Gospel (Luke 10: 38 sqq + 11: 27-28) which was anciently used in the West and is still used by Byzantines. The Magnificat was sung (Antiphon: Regina caeli laetare) as incense was used and flowers offered to our Lady. The service ended with a prayer.

(1) I liked the use of the Paschal Candle with elements in the Lucernarium linking it with the Exsultet of the Easter Vigil.
(2) I liked the reference to our Lady as Mediatrix of Graces; a theme emphasised in earlier Latin euchology of Assumptionday.
(3) I approved of the recovery of the pre-Bugnini and first-millennium Assumptionday Gospel.
(4) The offering of flowers, alluding to the traditional accounts of Mary's empty tomb, seemed to me a thoroughly nice idea.

In a moment, I will republish as an update that English text of an Assumption Lucernarium, together with my quick version in Latin. I composed this simply as a literary exercise, so there is no need for any fierce Traddy to make an attack on me for trying to promote Modernism ... In doing so, I was naturally hungry for echoes of the Easter Exsultet. I have not checked it through ... for example, I have not researched my use of the verb triumphare with a direct object in the accusative. It just sounds right to me in terms of Christian Latin. And the gender of dies ...

I would be interested in any comments on this entire text, in the original English or my own Latin.

21 August 2020

Marian Hokey Kokey

Tomorrow, which is Maria Regina  in the Novus Ordo, was assigned by Pius XII to the Immaculate Heart. But Maria Regina  is so suitable for the old Octave Day of the Assumption that Dom Gueranger's article for that day is in fact entirely about that theme.

The imperatives of Mutual Enrichment impel me to suggest that, in this detail, the Novus Ordo did get things right. Maria Regina should go to August 22. At the same time, Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces could return to May 31, where she was placed at dear Cardinal Mercier's request; and the Immaculate Heart could go to the Sabbath after the Sacred Heart ... where, indeed, the Most Pure Heart was sometimes celebrated in earlier times.

Very importantly, the Visitation should remain on (Vetus Ordo) or be returned to (Novus Ordo) July 2, bringing the celebration into line with Byzantine precedents.

Such rationalisation would imply two ostensible victories for the Novus Ordo (Maria Regina and the Immaculate Heart) and one victory for the Vetus Ordo (the Visitation). But the two 'victories' for the Novus Ordo  would represent, in fact, victories for pre-Pacellian liturgical or devotional instincts. There are times when Being Traditional is best served by 'going behind' Pius XII, and we should not be deterred from doing so just because the Novus Ordo happened to make those changes.

For those of the Anglican Patrimony, Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces on May 31 should be particularly dear, since it would be a kind of memorial to the great Belgian Cardinal who sponsored the Malines Conversations. C A P D 


Last night, I killed a clothes-moth. With my own hand, a lethal weapon.

In view of PF's teaching about Biodiversity in Laudato si, is this now a confessible offence? Mortal or venial?

20 August 2020

Canon Dudley Symon (3)

In the first year or so of the American Ordinariate, the then Ordinary, under pressure from, I think, an individual called Wuerl, discouraged the use of the 'Extraordinary Form' on the grounds that it was 'not part of our Patrimony'. I find it hard to think of anything more erroneous ... or more patently ridiculous.

Since the days of Pusey and Neale, the 'Tridentine Rite' had been used in some convents; in the first decades of the twentieth century, Symon's contemporary Mgr Ronald Knox, when still a young Anglican priest, used to make his way through West Oxford's slum streets to S Thomas's (my last Anglican church) so that he could celebrate, in Latin, at an altar in the Convent Chapel. These were the years that saw the first of the many editions of the English Missal; when our daughter church of S Paul's was given a Belgian interior  (Our Lady of Victory ... a revolving Tabernacle which, when swung round, revealed an Exposition Throne ...); when the Sanctuary at S Thomas's was baroquified; when, as Symon says, in a few churches there even 'attempts to oust English entirely in favour of Latin'.

Looking back in 1959, Symon wondered what was really happening back in those early days of his priesthood. "Many middle-aged and elderly people, of whom I am one, owe a great deal to the 'Sung Eucharist' of their youthful days, and I have no desire to belittle it. ... But a change began to come roughly in the decade preceding the First World War. It is not easy to see why and presumably a number of factors entered in -- greater liturgical knowledge and appreciation, for one thing, and the entry of a new generation ... there was danger that the movement would become respectable and even approved of by the Bench [of bishops]: such certainly was the spirit of the impish Society of S Peter and S Paul [of which Knox was a suppporter] ... and as the leisurely Victorian age passed away and its saintly but conservative priests with it, the new sacerdotal order found the old too slow, too lengthy and too humdrum for their adventurous, witty and impatient spirits.".

I wonder what parallels there may be with the Catholic Church in these present decades!

Fairy stories end with everybody living happily ever afterwards. I am afraid I must reveal that Canon Symon died without, as far as I am aware, entering into Full Communion with the See of S Peter. But an appendix at the end of his book makes reference to the first attempt at a 'Group Solution': the attempt to persuade Rome in 1959 to allow a 'Transitional Church'. Symon was clearly sympathetic, but appreciates that "at Rome it was adjudged not worth the trouble". He concludes:
"The tide is not flowing in our direction. 'Protestant oecumenism' is not yet a positive danger but it is an ominous threat and the unconcealed objective of the majority of the Bishops. The next twenty years, or even decade, may well be decisive and make the position untenable even for the most moderate school of Anglo-Catholics. It looks like now or never.".

Suppose the poor old thing could have know about the Feminist future of Anglicanism ...

From time to time, I aim to supply more quotations from his book.


19 August 2020

Dudley Symon (2)

Writing ... allow me to remind you ... in 1959, on the eve of the Council, Canon Symon wrote: "The Liturgical movement' abroad will no doubt eventually bring about much simplification and pruning: and in this respect the Church will certainly be going 'back to Rome'. But it is most unlikely that its chief glory, the Canon, will be touched or cease to be said in Latin even if  elsewhere much more of the vernacular is permitted.".

Although Vatican II made not the slightest suggestion, gave not the tiniest hint, that the Canon of the Mass should be tampered with, and mandated the retention of Latin, inside a decade changes were made to the Words of Consecration; and alternative Eucharistic Prayers were permitted, which, contrary to the nearly two-thousand-year-old Roman Tradition, byzantinised the Rite by introducing an 'Epiclesis'.  Symon's views on that sort of thing can be extrapolated from his condemnation of the abortive Anglican liturgy of 1927: "The pedantry of Frere insisted on orientalising the Canon". But even worse: a dozen years after the publication of Symon's book, the Canon, de facto, had been almost universally replaced in Anglophone countries by a disgustingly bad mistranslation of a brief new Eucharistic Prayer, a pitifully mangled version of something which then, quite erroneously, was attributed to an early antipope called S Hippolytus.

You just couldn't make all that up, could you? In just a dozen years!!

Happily, our Ordinariate Missal restores the normacy of the Canon ('pseudo-Hippolytus' being only permitted on weekdays). I will conclude today with Symon's remarks about the Roman Canon, which, like Hugh Ross Williamson, he called
"the 'Great Prayer' which by the end of the sixth century had taken its final shape and become the heart of the Catholic rite, the Canon of the Latin Mass ... we see how magnificently the Roman genius flowered again in this incomparable expression of the Church in its central act of adoration and offering to Almighty God. ... This was the Prayer that S Augustine brought with him to England in A.D. 597 and which for a thousand years was familiar to and loved by the English people. It is almost incredible that by a stroke of the pen it was made illegal by State action, though not so strange that revolts were widespread against this piece of tyranny, revolts that could only be stamped out by German mercenaries.".

Symon school mastered and head mastered until 1947; in retirement he served as Warden of S Anne's House in Soho; Chaplain to a convent; Bursar of the Society of the Faith; Proctor in Convocation and Superior General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.

Perhaps it is, in some ways, as well that he died in 1961.

18 August 2020

Canon Dudley Simon (1)

"A Pontifical High Mass, as it is celebrated today [these word are taken from a book published in ... 1959!!!], with all the adjuncts of light, colour, scent, movement and music, is one of the greatest artistic achievements of the human mind, worthy to be set beside a Symphony by Beethoven, or the Parthenon at Athens, or the frescoes of Michael Angelo. The Liturgical Reformers, like all other Reformers, will need watching lest their zeal leads them 'to root up the wheat also.'".

The author of these words was the Reverend Canon Dudley James Symon, whose life ran interestingly in tandem with that of Mgr Ronald Knox. I am planning to share with you more extracts from the same little book, because, as I think most readers will agree, they are both edifying and thought-provoking. And, also, because Symon was a predecessor of mine at Lancing College. Indeed, he will have taught the great Basil Handford, whose colleague and friend I was privileged to be until his death in 1994.

Symon, like Knox and Handford, was a Greatsman, and his love of the Classics shines through what he writes. He was born in 1887 (Knox, in 1888), and from St John's College did Mods in 1908, Greats in 1910, and trained for the Sacred Priesthood at King's London. Like Knox, he was priested in 1912; unlike Knox, he went off to a four-year Midlands curacy.

The beginning of the War found him at Chigwell School, as Knox was at Shrewsbury. The reason for this becomes clear as we read Waugh's biography of Knox: being in Holy Orders, such young men were excluded from rushing to enlist. And so, like lots of elderly scholars of distinction, they 'did their bit' by taking teaching jobs in order to free young lay schoolmasters to go and fight. Waugh, again, draws a vivid picture of the agonies that followed as the casualty lists, of friends and of pupils, were read out.

Symon moved to Lancing in 1917 (when Waugh was a student there). The great Chapel  had been dedicated in 1911; it looked and looks like amighty Cathedral from North France: 'French Gothic of the thirteenth century'. Sir John Summerson testifies to its pure grammatical accuracy, and calls it "a late-comer to a great International family of buildings. It takes is place among them with perfect confidence and grace". Noyon ... Beauvais ... Saint Denis ... Westminster Abbey ...

Beneath the high, white, arrogant vault of Sussex chalk, Symon will have seen the chairs of the students who had been there at the Dedication in 1911 and whose names were carved on them. As the lists of the dead were posted, those who had been at Lancing had brass plaques Pro Patria attached to their names. Quorum animabus propitietur Deus.

Later, I will give you more of Symon's liturgical comments. His sentence at the head of this post, on the beauty of the Traditional Roman Rite, especially when solemnly offered, reminds me of a day a few years ago, in the ICKSP Church in Limerick. After his solemn Mass there, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke murmured to me: "So beautiful ... so beautiful ... why ... ...".

17 August 2020


                                       HABEMUS PAPAM!!

That's what the Cardinal Protodeacon of the Holy Roman Church proclaimed on this day in 1740. Yes; today is the Anniversary of the Electio in Summum Pontificem in 1740 of Prospero Cardinal Lambertini, qui sibi nomen imposuit "Benedictum XIV". (Or should the name be in the genitive case? What sort of genitive would that be? Or the nominative?)

I am drinking my coffee today out of one of Father Zed's excellent mugs with the Arms, style, dates, and portrait of Papa Lambertini on it. I hope you are too. There are few things more reliably indicative of an anima naturaliter Catholica than having a full set of Fr Zed mugs. You could ask your pp to bless them all. Should he use for that the Benedictio ad omnia, or is there a special formula for such superior ceramics?

The Roman See had been vacant for some six months when the Conclave finally made today's wise choice. That's what we need now ... a nice lengthy Conclave ... it's just what the doctor ordered. So that the Cardinals (whom PF has diligently, cunningly, prevented from getting to know each other and developing a common mind) can indeed find out about each other. If the Conclave is over in a couple of days, I shall be ... ... suspicious. And a nice long conclave would help to dispel the infantilising, insulting notion that nothing can really happen in the Church without 'inspiration' from the Domus Sanctae Marthae. A long interregnum would work wonders. To take up an idea suggested by PF himself, we could have a whopping great Carnival, with Guido Marini as ringmaster. He must be badly in need of a spot of fun. As at the beginning of a British Game Season, we could send the beaters in to raise the Pelagian Butterflies in front of our guns. Our modest suburban walls could then be adorned with their stuffed heads. "My dear, that one's called Parolin ... Archbishop Vigano winged him in the first minute ..."

At the end of the frivolities, we shall need a thoughtful and prudent pontiff; not another eccentric who reacts to the promptings of an ill-regulated gut. What I am really saying is: we need a pope who has read Vatican I and understands that his job is, not to teach new doctrines, but to hand on the the Deposit of Faith, the Faith handed down through the Apostles. PF indicated, from the start, that he desired to be seen as something New. Symbolising rupture from Day 1, he took a name which nobody had ever taken before; he didn't even have the humility to dress properly when he made his first appearance. From that moment on, it was clear that he was a wrong 'un, even though, for months, we put as good a gloss as we could manage on the unfolding disaster.

Above all, we need a pope who is not taken in by crooks and charlatans.

Benedict XIV, being introduced to a lady with a positively Olympic decolletage, was asked by a cheeky monsignore if he had noticed her necklace with its amazing diamond cross. He replied that he had  seen and admired both the Cross and its Calvary.

Perhaps applicants for the See of Rome should be made to run the gauntlet of surprise encounters. You may be able to think of some.

16 August 2020


A repeat of an old (2018) post, with its original thread. Among those on that thread is that great Pontiff Edwin Barnes, the first Bishop of Richborough (Rutupiae) since (probably) around 380. May he rest in peace. 

I invited English versions: in my view, the winner, in that old thread, was Mrs Sims.

Here is what I wrote in 2018:
I am not the first to point this out; but some readers may not have heard it: the first recorded Limerick is found in the middle of the prayer attributed to S Thomas Aquinas in thanksgiving after Celebrating and Communicating.

Sit vitiorum meorum evacuatio,
Concupiscentiae et libidinis exterminatio,
      Caritatis et patientiae,
      Humilitatis et obedientiae,
Omniumque virtutum augmentatio.

This must surely prove that there is something inherently satisfying about these structured rhythms and rhymes.

UPDATE about the early history of the Limerick.

Wikipedia offers the following from 1717, refering to a Dr Bainbridge who moved from Cambridge to Oxford to be professor of Astronomy. In the course of a lecture the poor higorant Tab said de Polis et Axis [he should of course have said Axibus]; eliciting the comment:
     Dr Bainbridge
     Was sent from Cambridge
To read lectures de Polis et Axis.
     Lett them that brought him hither
     Return him thither
And teach him the rules of Syntaxis. 

Not quite in accordance with the modern structure of the Limerick, but demonstrating the direction in which such popular epigrammatic verse was evolving.

I have come across the following, written by William Kent (not, I believe, Alexander Pope) in 1739. Again, it is embedded in a slightly longer piece ... so I have printed in bold the section which is Limerickish. 

Ho! Gate, how came ye here?
I came fro Chelsea the last yere
Inigo Jones there put me together
Then was I dropping by wind and weather
     Sir Hannes Sloane
     Let me alone
But Burlington brought me hither.

This architecton-ical
Gate Inigo Jon-ical
Was late Sir Hans Slon-ical
And now Burlington-ical.

This example illustrates an interesting point. The nineteenth century Limerick as it was popularised by Edward Lear had the same rhyme in the first and fifth lines. However, after Lear's time, the Limerick took on a new life when that restriction was abandoned. But this earlier evidence suggests that in the eighteenth century, Lear's rule did not yet exist.

Of course, the main reason I left the Church of England was that modern Anglican limericists (have I just coined a new word? Limerikhographoi, perhaps, in Greek?) show a dogged and tedious pertinacity in concentrating upon the current occupant of the See of Buckingham. (When the Vatican creates a Sedes titularis Buckinghamiensis I shall flee to the Chaldaeans.)

Future Church Historians may well wonder why there are so few Limericks relating to and illustrating the genius of this present pontificate. To help them out, I may be willing to enable any suggestions made as long as they strike me as decentia.

[Episcopal readers are welcome to use pseudonyms ... I do understand what nervous times these are for Successors of the Apostles ... as long as they put the + sign before their pseudonyms (++ for Metropolitan Archbishops; +++ for Cardinals).]

15 August 2020


The word 'Committee' conjures up images of clerkly people sitting round a boring table doodling with slightly bitten biros. It carries only very slightly any suggestion of dramatic, incisive, and virile action.

I was never surprised that Baroness Thatcher, sending her fleet to the Falklands in order to biff Brother Argie, called it a 'Task Force'. I wonder if she coined the phrase??

Since then, in Whitehall the term has pretty well displaced the word 'Committee'.

But perhaps it is in turn showing signs of aging ... of itself needing the attention of a taxidermist.

Because yesterday, I heard a politician promising the setting up of "A Gold Command Task Force".

One of those really would make Brother Chinaman tremble in fear.

14 August 2020

Fr Hunwicke is wrong ... at least twice ... or ...

Good news ... a declaration from the CDF about the invalidity of a baptismal formula being used by some nutters somewhere. (Where? Anybody know? It would also be interesting to know the seminary decades of the nutful clergy involved.)

Good news, because it indicates, to my way of thinking, that the CDF is still in competent hands. Soon after the start of this pontificate, I expressed a fear that PF might hand over the CDF to his Argentine crony "Gimme a Kiss" Fernandez. I was wrong. I hope and pray that I will continue to be totally, completely, wrong, for as long as it takes. It means something, even in the darkest of days, that the CDF (and the CDWDS) is headed by somebody who is uncompromised by heterodoxy.

The baptismal formula now condemned as invalid starts off by saying "In the name of ..." and then mentions the parents, godparents, and, indeed, everybody and anybody else who might be upset not to be listed; and finally it says " ... we baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

The Decree has the usual CDF guarantee that the Roman Pontiff has approved it and ordered it to be published. It makes very clear that those invalidly "baptised" by the use of this formula must be identified and baptised (absolutely; not conditionally).

A devilish paradox, isn't it ... some barmy priestling gets the idea that he will mess around with the formula so as to make it "more inclusive" (or whatever his motive was).

By means of this brilliant idea, the poor fool renders Baptism, the Church's liminal Sacrament ... invalid! His lordship the Bishop of Stupidland will now have to tell Father Nutcase that he must get in touch with the families of all those whom he has non-baptised, and shamefacedly explain why they've got to bring baby back in order to ... er .... actually be baptised. And matters are probably much worse even than that. Fashionable fads have the capacity to spread like wildfire (Holy Water stoups filled with sand during Lent?). Fr Nutcase will pretty certainly have boasted to all his gullible clerical friends about his megafantastic idea, and the dafter among them will, like the dumb and impressionable sheep they are, have copied him. BaaaHaaa. So we probably have an invalid-baptism pandemic spreading like Coronavirus throughout Stupidland and its adjacent areas.

And Fr Nutcase may, mendaciously, have entered into his baptismal register an assertion that he baptised A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, and N according to the rites of the Catholic Church. Granted that he conscientiously attempts to rectify the situation with regard to every single one of those he has so cleverly, so inventively, so trendily, non-baptised, can we be sure of his 100% success? If not, imagine that one of these, in 25 years' time, is approaching Ordination. A certificate of Baptism based upon an untruthful register signed by a barmy priest could result in an unbaptised Ordinandus being non-ordained to the priesthood. And, later, consecrated to the lordly ranks of the non-Episcopate.

To baptise validly is so simple that, after a few minutes' coaching, a five-year-old could do it. It beggars belief that even a stupid man can spend seven years in a seminary and emerge from that expensive process unable to be relied upon to baptise validly.

It is not difficult to understand why Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre took the line he did.

I haven't always felt sure that he was right to push matters to a breaking point in 1988.

I was wrong. Now I know better. The Novus Ordo Church and its bishops indeed could not then be trusted to form priests. When we Ordinariate clergy spent time in Allen Hall (and what a privilege it was to be allowed to share in such an august heritage) the then Rector alluded to the decades when all had not been well in that place. I wonder if, even now, some areas of corruption still persist in the seminary world. How much time did they devote to Sacramental Theology in their seminal explorations at the Theodore Cardinal McCarrick Beach Academy?

We do not need clever priests, or clever bishops, or even clever popes, half as much as we need clerics who are humble enough ... and clever enough ... not to be clever.


I've just had an alternative idea. Fr Nutcase is a sedevacantist agent, part of a huge network maintained world-wide by Pan Cekada. Having smuggled invalidity into the Catholic Church and its ministry, they will keep careful records and eventually  ... etc. etc.. Am I right?

13 August 2020

Ritual adequacy and Sacramental validity

The approach to 'validity' which is employed by some modern writers seems to me excessively, grossly, legalistic and fails to take account of the older, broader, more humane approach of earlier Catholic theologians. In order to summarise this tradition, I will quote from the well-judged words of Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, the great and massively erudite Father of modern Canon Law*. Perhaps I should explain that he was writing at a time when the universal opinion was that the Form of Episcopal Consecration was the formula Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, said by the consecrator as he imposed hands; but a time also when scholars had become aware that, in the ancient Roman Sacramentaries, the Form had been the ancient prayer which came down to us disguised as a Prefacestructured as a Preface.

"Among all these rites which the Roman Pontifical prescribes in Episcopal Consecration, the common opinion is that the Matter is the imposition of the hands of the consecrating bishop (rather, of the consecrating bishops) and the Form is the related words Receive the Holy Spirit.

"We think ... that, in the hypothesis of the imposition of the bishop's hands with the Preface alone, without those words Receive the Holy Spirit, the Consecration is valid, just as it was valid in the ancient liturgy; for how could you prove that the Church had taken its consecratory power away from this Prayer?

"Equally, in the hypothesis of the imposition of the bishop's hands with those words alone Receive the Holy Spirit, without the Preface, we admit, with the common opinion, that the ordination is valid, since, although those words alone, considered in themselves, are indeterminate and do not sufficiently express the conferring of the episcopal order
, nevertheless they are made sufficiently determinate not only by the Preface but by the caeremonia itself without the Preface."

And, of course, if  'determination' can be given to indeterminate wording such as Receive the Holy Spirit, then 'determination' can also thus be given to a phrase such as pneuma hegemonicon in the post-Conciliar Pontificale. Especially if it occurs in formulae which have for centuries been accepted in the praxis of the Roman See as adequate to confer the episcopate.

So Gasparri's generously sensible approach* is, I think, more than sufficient to put paid to scaremongering nonsense about the validity of the ministerial orders of the post-conciliar Church.

But it is not enough for us simply to be able to dismiss an erroneous argument. There is a great deal more to be said.

It ought never to have been made so easy for such erroneous arguments to be made. It ought never to have been made possible for the ancient and venerable sacramental formulae of the Roman Church to be dumped like so much rubbish by a committee of opinionated and self-important academics. It ought never to have happened that the transient scholarly opinion of a single academic generation became the basis of a liturgical revolution. It ought never to have happened that one man, Bugnini, was able to manipulate and deceive a Roman Pontiff and thereby debauch the euchology of the Roman Church. Credence should never have been given to the disgraceful notion that a Roman Pontiff, even if working on the basis of a conciliar mandate, could do anything that appealed to him.

*This common sense approach is not, I think, a million miles from the attitude of Fr Eric Mascall; that a rite is a means of doing something, not a theological statement of the nature of what is being done [for example, the word baptizo says nothing about regeneration or the deletion of Original Sin]; that a valid ordination rite can be recognised by its declared purpose of conferring a specified one of the three orders of the historic ministry.

Readers will not be surprised that I also share the view that the Eucharistic Prayer of Addai and Mari is adequate to confect the Holy Eucharist. A mens vere Catholica looks, not at a priori speculations about what 'ought' to be required for Sacramental validity, but at the praxis of the Catholic Church.

12 August 2020

Vaccines and Abortion (2)

I have to say that the conclusions drawn by Bishop Sherrington seem to me broadly in line with the the principles of Moral Theology in the manuals I have described. Regular readers of this blog will hardly consider me to be a venal patsy of the English Bishops: quite the opposite ... I think they need careful watching. Their behaviour during the years after 1992, when we were trying to secure a Corporate Solution to our problems; and their conduct with regard to the Magisterium of Benedict XVI, do not always inspire confidence. But they are not necessarily, always, ex officio, wrong.

I do not think they are wrong in the guidance they are offering at this particular time and in this particular matter. But I am aware that bishops elsewhere in the world, including some whom I and many readers will respect, have taken a different view.

Accordingly, I think it has to be admitted that we have a situation in which, as an objective historical fact, there exists Doubt.

So does Doubt mean that a real Christian should go for the strictest conclusion, thereby making sure that she is "on the safe side"?

NO! It means that we are in the area once known to moralists as "the Doubtful Conscience". Much discussion used to go on about how we deal with this phenomenon! Since the 1960s, such discussion has unfortunately been replaced by the dodgy actions of shifty practicioners who present us, instead, with systems of morality ("Situation Ethics"?) in which there is no definite Right or Wrong at all. Heretics, the lot of them! I would commend to readers the fine passage in Veritatis Splendor from paragraph 79 onwards.

So we'll forget all those megaheretical Trendies and go back to the dusty old manuals; back to S Alfonso and Davis and Pruemmer and even Bishop Mortimer. 

This, therefore, is the traditional approach the Doubtful Conscience.

We are offered different pastoral systems, with exciting names like Rigorism, Tutiorism, Probabiliorism, Aequiprobabilism, Probabilism, and Laxism. Some of these have been condemned by the Magisterium, some not. A Christian, and his Confessor, has the liberty to adopt any of these systems ... except the condemned ones! To keep this narrative within reasonable lengths, I will deal only with Probabilism.

For the probabilist, if a Christian is facing a choice between two (or more!) moral choices, and each of them seems really to have a very great deal to be said for it, then each of the contemplated choices is termed 'Probable'. And, in this situation, she is free to opt for either. She may think: "Well, A has a lot to be said for it ... has a real chance of being right ... but I think, on balance, B has its nose just across the line", but she may still choose and do A. Lucky girl, she is entitled to bet on horses which get a place, not merely upon winners!

That pre-Conciliar Moral Theology had a flexibility and was genuinely pastoral. No rigidity there! What it means for the the current matter under review is that you don't have to go for the tougher choice, 'being on the safe side', even if you feel that the arguments that way are a bit stronger. You are at liberty to go for the 'easier' option as long as it is a real option with four legs and is still in it with a chance as the horses enter the final furlong.

I sometimes feel that in the current ecclesial situation, which catastrophically includes a pope who refuses to teach clearly and faithfully, there is the following very dangerous risk: the danger that 'Traditionalist' Christians, being determined not to go down the path of the crooks and false guides who proliferated after the Council, will instead opt for "always being on the safe side" ... i.e. the Rigorist option.

But Rigorism was condemned by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690! It's not, therefore, available to a good Catholic who tries to live according to the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church.

So, in the question "Can I use a vaccine derived from genetic material taken from murdered foetuses?", even if the 'tougher' solution, "No", seems to you to have the better argument, you may still go for the 'easier' option put before you by Bishop Sherrington in the name of the English bishops. As long as you conscientiously believe that it does have some sort of decent chance of being right.

Being a Traditionalist means taking seriously what the 'Democracy of the Past' offers you, even when it is currently unfashionable. Being a Traditionalist does not mean standing fearfully with your back to the wall, terrified of getting something wrong. God is merciful and knows you better even than you know yourself. We are to use His grace, trustingly, and then leave the issue to Him.

And I do not believe that confessors, and guides of souls, have any right to try to impose upon Christifideles laici any tougher course of action.

11 August 2020

Vaccines and Abortion (1)

In England, a Bishop John Sherrington, "lead" for the CBCEW on Life Issues, is responsible for a statement to the effect that Covid vaccines which use stem-cells derived from foetuses killed in the 1970s, may be used in good conscience by Catholics.

He cites a 2005 document from the Pontifical Council for Life, called Reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human foetus. This document was approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under its then Prefect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

Bishop Sherrington's views are not Magisterium, neither is a document from the Pontifical Council for Life ... even if they honestly assure us that the CDF has given it the OK. The question needs to be decided against the background of Catholic moral discourse. The area of Moral Theology concerned is labelled technically "Co-operation in evil'; and it is treated in terms of formal co-operation and material  co-operation. We can find discussions in reliable sources under the general heading of De Praecepto Caritatis erga proximum, answering the general question "An liceat alterius peccato materialiter co-operari?" Traditionally, the section comes early in the manuals, as part of a discussion concerning the Commanndment to love one's neighbour.

In the older books, 'Co-operation in Evil' is concerned with how far a conscientioius Catholic can go in giving a helping hand to somebody who has in mind to commit a sin. Could a servant help his master to carry a ladder to a place where the said master intends to clamber inside a bedroom in order to commit a sexual crime? Or to deliver a letter which might well be arranging an adulterous assignation? Must a young woman working in a factory producing condoms be told to give up her job? The writers of the manuals were clever men, and if they found such matters difficult to resolve, it is hardly surpising if we find the same.

In my (Marietti, 1874) copy of S Alfonso, the section on Co-operation in evil is at Liber II, Dubium 5, Articulus 3. The great Redemptorist moralist gives examples from the teaching of earlier moralists, with references, and sometimes says whether or not he agrees. Because here, as with so many other intricate questions, experts do not always agree.

Sitting beside S Alfonso, I have the immensely helpful four volumes of Henry Davis, SJ, Moral and Pastoral Theology (1935). Volume I Chapter VIII ...

And then 'Baby Pruemmer", the English summary of the large work by a Dominican; 'Big Pruemmer' was published in 1921. "Co-operation in Evil" comes towards the end of Treatise IX, "Theological Charity and Contrary Vices".

And, ex pietate, I will mention The Elements of Moral Theology (1947) by Robert Mortimer, sometime Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology in this University and later Bishop of Exeter, drinking companion of my one-time Director, the late Prebendary John Hooper. His work is based upon Pruemmer and Merkelbach, but, he writes, "I have always gone behind them to their main source, St Thomas Aquinas".

I hope you have observed that none of my props comes from the iffy years immediately before and after "the Council". If you distrust the Moral Theology which was dreamed up during and after the 1960s, well, I share your apprehensions.

To summarise the subtle and sophisticated teaching which those earlier writers handed down to us: Formal Co-operation in the sins of others is always intrinsece malum, automatically wrong; Material Co-operation may not always be sinful, particularly where there is "grave incommodum" [grave personal inconvenience: S Alfonso's term]. In other words, the matter is up for discussion and we must consider the distance between the sin of the killing and the actions of today.

The morality of using vaccines created from cells taken out of foetuses murdered half a century ago comes under "Material Co-operation". By using such cells, how close is ones co-opertation in the evil of the killing? Near or distant?

To be concluded.

10 August 2020

The Fate of Hagia Sophia and Anglican Catholic Ecumenism

Before his death on December 4 1959, Father Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, Rector of S Magnus the Martyr by London Bridge (FC in what follows), had for many years been a ... or the ... leading light in the Papalist Movement within the Church of England. Many people at that time, and since then, have found it hard to understand the model of Ecumenism which was the policy of FC and his associates.

It consisted of two stages, each ... in my unhumble view ... admirable!

Firstly: it consisted of acting as if the Tudor Schism had never happened, and the Provinces of Canterbury and York (many papalists declined to use the syncope 'Church of England') were but two provinces of the Western, Latin, Church, irregularly severed from the other provinces by the Tudor Tyranny. So they regarded the Rite of S Pius V as their proper and lawful liturgy and all the culture of Western Catholicism as their legitimate playground. If you enjoy doing so, you can call them mad, but it is not fair to call them unprincipled.

Secondly, they acted as if the schism between East and West had never happened. Hence, those dear old photographs of FC leading a Dalmatian archbishop into the Holy House at Walsingham, or deaconing the Metropolitan of Cyprus at the 1920 Anglo-Catholic Congress. Hence, all the Orders, Dignities and Decorations FC hoovered up in Orthodox Eastern Europe! Neither the probability that some of these Orthodox clerics were violently anti-papal, nor the fact that Rome regarded them as schismatics, caused him any anxiety, despite his ultra-papalist ecclesiology. Since his days, increasing doubts have indeed arisen about whether the break between East and West was ever formal ... doubts which I share. Perhaps FC was prophetic!

As all well-informed people will be aware, today is the CENTENARY of the Treaty of Sevres. In the chaos surrounding Turkey's defeat in the First World War, the victorious powers divided up the old Ottoman Empire, and in anticipation of this, from November 13 1918 (until October 4 1923), Constantinople had been occupied by French and British troops ... I think, by Italians as well.

This caused high and optimistic hopes among British Byzantinophiles, who, of course, included FC. He had chosen Our Lady of Victory (or 'victories') as Patron of his 'Catholic League' because her commemoration (October 7; Lepanto) was not only redolent of Baroque Catholicism but also "marked the turning of the tide of the aggession of the Moslem power, when a defeat would probably have meant the subjugation of most of Europe to the arch-enemy of the Faith." He looked forward to "the final ejection from the great capital city of Eastern Christendom of the anti-Christian and bloodstained power that has too long ground under foot the 'cattle' (as our co-religionists are called). ... May the coming Easter see the Risen Body of Christ adored on the altar of St Sophia!"

But a disagreement arose. An English RC representative, having pointed out that, on the eve of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Great Church had been in communion with the See of Rome, argued that it ought to be restored to ... the Uniates!! FC blew his top and furiously replied: "Separated bodies would regard the handing over of the Church to Rome or to the Uniate Patriarch ... as an intolerable outrage to the age-long sentiment and dream. Nothing could more hopelessly retard the hoped-for reunion of East and West ... On the other hand, nothing could, I believe, lead the Greeks and all Orthodox to modify their unhappy suspicion and antagonism to Rome, and prepare the way for reunion, more than to understand that the Roman Church not only favoured but actively assisted in handing over of the Church to their Patriarch."

Of course, none of this came to anything. There were suspicions that the Vatican's Ostpolitik (not to mention French foreign policy) was rootedly opposed to any extension of Hellenic influence in the Middle East as being likely to create a dangerous Byzantium redivivum. Such a sophisticated Diplomatic Service they have in the Vatican: what a shame it so often gets things wrong!!

May S Chrysostom of Smyrna, Great Martyr, pray for us all!

I did once suggest a 'Hunwicke Solution': that Hagia Sophia be returned to the Orthodox and, in compensation, 'Westminster Cathedral' ... already equipped with a superb minaret ... should be handed over to Islam. The sound wafting over Buck House of the muezzin calling the Faithful to prayer would add quite a lot to the atmosphere of Palace Garden Parties. But nobody ever takes any notice of anything I say.

Essential reading: The Anglican Papalist: a Personal Portrait of Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, by Fr A T John Salter. ISBN 978-0-9560565-2-8

9 August 2020

Please ...

A kind friend in America tells me that my last two posts have not been provided by "RSS". I know I can hardly ask you to let me know if you are not seeing this, but it would be helpful if very briefly you could indicate that you are.

And do you have any ideas? I am hopeless at IT.


Holy Antipopes, pray for us

Gregory Dipippo, in his superb NLM blog, recently offered us a splendid Detective Story: a full account of the Mysterious Affair of Pope Felix II. If you missed it, go right back and unmiss it!

I am concerned here only with one aspect of the 'Case'.

The other day, on the festival of S Martha, your Pre-Bugnini Missal offered you a commemoration of Saint Felix II, Pope and Martyr (he was combined, for convenience, with some other saints ... the older customs of the Roman Rite allowed this even when the saints concerned had no connection with each other). But in 1947, the Annuario Pontificio demoted him to the status ... of an antipope! (My 1950 Altar Missal still calls him pope, but he got demoted soon after that.)

Let us now 'fast-forward' to the 1998 CDF Commentary on Ad tuendam fidem (paragraph 11). This document gave examples of "truths connected to revelation by historical necessity and which are to be held definitively". One was "the legitimacy of the election of the Sovereign Pontiff".

Well, the Case of Pope Felix II seems to be a matter of some doubt as far as the legitimacy ... or not ... of Pope S Felix II's pontificate is concerned. Doubt at the highest Vatican levels!!

And he's not the only one.

*I have near my desk a useful little CTS pamphlet (1958) (it cost me 6d when I was a smart little chap of seventeen ... money well spent): The Popes from St Peter to Pius XII. Jolly good for dates and simple summaries. Based upon the Annuario Pontificio of 1904 and 1905. Each pope has his own number. Numbers 112, 114, 116: Pope Formosus was posthumously deposed by his successor Stephen VII but rehabilitated by his successor Theodore II. 119 Leo V:  "Regarded as probably an anti-pope". Leo VIII (993): "His election is of doubtful validity". 133 Benedict V: "His election is of doubtful validity". 146A Sylvester III: "His election is of doubtful validity". 147 Gregory VI: "His election therefore is of doubtful validity". 200 Urban VI: "The election ... has however been generally deemed valid".

Quite a bag of popes here about whose legitimacy (or illegitimacy) greater or lesser doubts are openly expressed. If the list-makers are themselves in such states of doubt, how can the ordinary Catholic know how to submit to the requirements ("to be held definitively") implied by the Commentary? Urban VI, number 200, is fairly important. Upon his status depends the question whether, from 1378 onwards, the 'Roman' popes or the 'Avignon' popes were the true line. The schism lasted until 1417 and there has never been, as far as I am aware, a definitive resolution of the uncertainties before that date. To say that his "election has been generally deemed valid" seems to my untutored and uncanonical eye much weaker than to say "the legitimacy of his election is to be held definitively". And, to add to the confusions, respectable authors have imported an axiom Papa dubius Papa nullus (I can't discover who first deployed it) to argue that, during the Great Schism, there was for four decades no Pope at all. You can see why this has some appeal: after the Council of Pisa (1409) the 'Roman' pope, Gregory XII, commonly regarded as the 'real' pope, did not have jurisdiction beyond Italy; the 'Avignon' 'antipope' Benedict XIII was accepted by nobody outside a little Spanish town called Peniscola; and the Pisan 'antipope' Alexander V held sway over the rest of the world.

But ... Oh dear ... I've just discovered that my schoolboy list is out of date. It is rather different from that in the current Annuario Pontificio. Apparently, the list in my leaflet dated back to 1904/5, but there was that revision in 1947. Indeed? Then the scholars who did that revision, the person responsible for that revision, did not, apparently, regard the previous list as definitive tenendum. And ... Ah!! God bless Wikipedia! There was more revision in 2001! Gracious! So those responsible for doing that did not regard the list which they picked up to revise as being definitive tenendum. So, why on earth ...

Yeah ... I know ... I am trying your patience. The Commentary was simply clobbering modern sedevacantists ... and so it jolly well should ... all power to its elbow. There was no intention to spray irrelevant anathemas all over historical pedants who hold divergent views about the status of long dead popes and antipopes. Nor was it excommunicating the chappies who keep revising the list in the Annuario every generation or soHave some common sense, Fr H. Fair enough.

But ... and this is my point ... I think the methodology of the Commentary is lacking in logical rigour. It cannot really mean exactly what it says. (It was not approved by the then pope ... nor approved in forma specifica.) And it risks dragging into disrepute the entire concept of "to be held definitively". In strictly logical terms, why should it be 'what-the-Hell-who-cares' to dispute the validity of the election of Gregory VI but totally terrible to question that of Francis I?  Over the years, apparently, definitive tenendum gradually and gracefully evaporates. As the magicians say, Now you see it, now you don't.

My tentative conclusion (I really am open to well-argued elucidations but not to irritable rants) is that this paragraph in the Commentary is intended to point pastorally and reliably to where authentic Church Life is, here and now, to be found and lived. It is to be found in communion with Francis, who really is Pope (not in sedevacantist groups). Sure pointers to sure realities; reliable notice-boards about real minefields where Death truly lurks. That is why, here and now, observing it as definitive tenendum keeps you safe, and is important. But, despite its rather fierce appearance, this language is not intended, cannot be intended, as an implacable iron rule to resolve every doubt in past history - it just doesn't work - nor can it, need it, be an eternal mill-stone round the Church's neck.

It cannot be wrong to speculate on what future generations of editors of the Annuario Pontificio might decide about the status of Francis I. After his death (or, perhaps, before it ... remember those aids to devotion that were going around a couple of years ago with "Pope Francis, Pray For Us" on them?) he will, of course, be canonised. But, next millennium, who knows if some little pen-pusher in Rome might just ... cross him out?

*From this point there is material from an earlier blogpost.

8 August 2020

Papa Lambertini's conundrum

Pope Benedict XIV pointed out (1) that we are obliged to venerate an exposed Host (cultum negari non posse hostiae ad venerationem expositae). But (2): although it is de fide that consecrated Hosts have been transubstantiated, (3) it is not de fide that this particular host actually was, as a matter of History, certainly consecrated (licet de fide non sit esse consecratam).

You see what he means in part (3) of that. The validity of its (or rather, Its) consecration depends on our certainty that Fr O'Flanahan did say the proper words over it with an adequate intention (poor old chap undoubtedly getting senile) and that the novice nun who baked it did get the recipe right (last week her scones tasted of Vindaloo) and that the village miller's labourer didn't confuse his wheat-grain with his barley-grain (should have gone to Specsavers) and that our rather cranky Sacristan Maire Murphy didn't surreptitiously substitute an unconsecrated host for the consecrated Host (has brainstorms every full moon) and that the priest who baptised Fr O'Flanahan, the notorious Fr Jack Hegarty of Craggy Island, didn't deliberately do it invalidly (by withdrawing his intention to perform any sort of Christian rite) in order to take revenge on bishop Brennan for cutting off his supply of whiskey and girls.

While we are in via, even the majesty of Dogma does not free us from dependance on ordinary human probabilities. Watertight logical certainties guaranteed by a string of immaculate syllogisms are not the stuff of our Christian lives.

In addition to Dogma and syllogisms, we need Trust in God,

I think that we particularly need to be aware of this truth when we are living through a period of ecclesial crisis.

Important reading: Newman's Grammar of Assent.

7 August 2020

The Assumption: dodgy celebrants

The wickedest of thoughts came into my mind ...

In England this year, as far as the 'Extraordinary Form' is concerned, Saturday August 15 is the Assumption and we are  also allowed an External Solemnity on the Sunday August 16 (I wonder what S Joachim has to say about this).

What would be completely wrong for all celebrants to do, even old gentlemen in retirement celebrating privately in their homes, would be the following: to celebrate the old S Pius V Assumption Mass Gaudeamus on Saturday the 15th, and the Papa Pacelli Assumption Mass Signum magnum on the Sunday.

Oh, the iniquity of it. Keep this under your hats. We don't want the idea getting around.

Atcherlee it wouldn't be quite as simple as that. Gaudeamus exists in two forms. There is the S Pius V form of the Mass, using the lovely collect Famulorum tuorum, asking that we may be saved by the intercession of the Theotokos. This harks back to the early Christian idea that, as the Secret at the Vigil puts it, the very reason (idcirco ...) for the Assumption was that Mary might intercede for us.

But there is also the form of Gaudeamus found in the Sarum Missal ... which means that it was probably used over most of Northern Europe. The main difference here is that the Collect is not Famulorum tuorum, but a formula beginning Veneranda. In fact, before Sarum it was used in the Leofric Missal (or rather, Pontifical), the most recent editor of which has mooted the probability that much of its content goes back to the liturgical books brought to Canterbury by S Augustine. The collect goes
Veneranda nobis, Domine, huius diei festivitas opem conferat sempiternam, in qua sancta Dei genetrix mortem subiit temporalem; nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit, quae filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se genuit incarnatum. Qui tecum. (Lord, may the worshipful festivity of this day bring us everlasting assistance, on which the holy Mother of God underwent temporal death; but she could not be held down by the bonds of death since she brought forth Incarnate from herself thy Son our Lord.)

A final fact about that very stately collect: When Pius XII defined the dogma of the Bodily Assumption, he quoted it ... Yes! Verbatim! ... in the earlier part of the Bull Munificentissimus Deus. And he described it as 'praeclarum', further accentuating its Magisterial significance by telling us that "Decessor noster immortalis memoriae Hadrianus Primus misit [the Sacramentary containing it] ad Imperatorem Carolum Magnum".

After the Definition, a new Mass, Signum magnum, was imposed on the Latin Church. It was scraped even cleaner of Tradition than were the Holy Week services which Pius XII also sponsored in the 1950s. Why was the very suitable collect Veneranda  not given some role in this composition?

Since Hannibal Bugnini is no longer alive to enlighten you, his mantle falls upon my unworthy shoulders. 

Pius XII was anxious to leave open the question of whether our Lady did, or did not, "undergo a temporal death" before her Glorious Assumption.

4 August 2020

Assumption Gospel: appeal for information

Most readers will know that, until August 1951, the Roman Gospel for the Assumption was S Luke 10: 38-42 (Jesus, Martha, and Mary). The passage originally had Luke 11: 27-28 tacked on at the end; and this combination of pericopes is still used in the Byzantine and Mozarabic Rites as the Gospel for this day (and, indeed, for other Marian festivals).

I suspect an Eastern origin.

I have always taken this to be a reference to Mary as the True Hesychast; the one who Listens quietly to Christ; the perfect Daughter of Israel who Hears YHWH. She is the Mistress and Owner of Mount Athos, the exponent of Hesychia. If one goes through S Luke's Chapters 10-11 looking out for the connections established by the verb akouein (hear) in its enhanced sense of listen obediently, this composite Gospel reads distinctly well.

Gueranger quotes S Bruno of Asti as interpreting thus: Mary, like Martha, 'received' Jesus, and not only into her home but into her womb; and Mary, like Mary, listened silently and pondered.

What I would be interested to know is comments on these passages  by Fathers of East or West ...  comments which relate either or both parts of the pericope to the Mystery of the Dormition/Assumption, or to her ministry of Intercession.

3 August 2020

Psalms (4) VENITE, Psalm 94/95

"For the LORD is a great God: and a great King above all gods."

I am going to assume that the learned readers of this humble blog are aware that the Name of the Hebrew God was not uttered aloud in the periods with which we are concerned; that when a reader came across the Four Letters YHWH, he actually uttered the word for "Lord" ... and that this convention continued in Latin and Greek. And that, brilliantly and helpfully, Bible translations in the Anglican tradition derived from the King James Bible signify this by rendering YHWH as LORD in upper-case letters. So, in verse three of the Venite, as Neale/Littledale point out, the literal rendering [I slightly adapt] is "For YHWH is a great El, and a great King over all Elohim."

It is depressingly easy, when saying the Divine Office in Latin or English, to forget the significance of LORD, Dominus; perhaps subconsciously to assume that it is simply a stylistic variant upon "God". I find I have to make an effort ... But if we do make this incorrect assumption, we miss innumerable nuances. Because when we say "He is the LORD our God", we are saying that our God is YHWH. Not one of the other options; not one of the other gods.

And YHWH is associated with His City and with His Temple. So we often find, as in this psalm, that a reference to Him may be textually close to a reference (explicit or implicit) to His Temple. And when, as so often, there is reference to His Name, this means the Name which is associated with His People, His City, and especially His Temple.

It is an exclusive, unecumenical, term. Our God is YHWH, not one of the gods of the nations. And I feel that it would Marcionite heresy to forget this at Mass. Gratias agamus Domino, Deo nostro emphasises precisely the point of the psalmist: "Let us give thanks to YHWH because He is our God ... we have no truck with any others". And we affirm our full place in the Hebraic heritage. It is possible that, in verse 4, when we say that "the strength of the hills is His also", we are claiming for our God YHWH the 'High Places' which the fertility deities of Canaan had taken over for their cult. Neale/Littledale refer to "the overthrow of heathen temples, and the rearing of Christian shrines on the eminences of Tabor, Sinai, Athos, and many another famous hill".

Perhaps for centuries, women and men of our culture have thought of Idolatry as a happily long defeated error; a primitive folly of earlier and 'less advanced' ages. Preachers have rescued and redeployed traditional polemic against idolatry by telling us that we should not be worshipping Money or Ambition or whatever. And that is perfectly fair, even necessary.

But how very singular that in our own 'advanced' and 'sophisticated' age, the ancient idolatries in their earthiest forms have crept back among us, looking curiously like the shapes they took in the time of our ancestors, in Canaan of old. A new fashion for "the indigenous", feeding upon a new (and proper) guilt about capitalist assaults upon the rain-forests, has bred a diabolical respect for the numina of  'Amazonian' and other cults. Who, if they exist, are demons.

'Pachamama' ... or whatever ... is not the Name above all other names; it is also not an equivalent for that Name.

The second half of the Venite warns us about the dangers of falling into idolatry. This is the same warning S Paul gave his gentile converts in Romans 11: 21 and I Corinthians 10. It is the warning of all the Prophets, bound up in The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. 

How fitting that every priest of the Latin Rite says the Venite every day at the start of his Office.

It is God's warning for today.

2 August 2020

Pope S Horace I?

Browsing through the Bull Munificentissimus Deus, in which Papa Pacelli defined the dogma of our Blessed Lady's Bodily Assumption, I noticed a particular phrase on the very edge of the formal definition itself.

The pope explained that one reason for the definition was personal: he wished to leave a monumentum aere perennius of his burning love for the Theotokos.

A 'memorial more long-lasting than bronze' is the exact phrase used by Quintus Horatius Flaccus as he concluded the first three books of his Carmina: a work by which he hoped to secure immortal renown as the man who spun the 'Aeolian song' of Sappho and Alcaeus into Latin poetry.

I wonder whether any other Infallible pronouncement of the Church's Magisterium has ever been introduced in such a way. It is not easy to imagine Trent beginning with something juicy by Catullus, or Nicaea I being introduced with a line from Aristophanes.

... um er ... genre confusion ... um er ...

And just you get this gigantic coincidence: Horace's birthday was December 8, Feast of our Lady's Holy and Immaculate Conception.

When Pope Leo XIV issues his mighty Constitutio Dogmatica Apostolica necnon et Synodica cancelling e radicibus the entire (ita dictum) "Magisterium" of PF, I wonder what might be a suitable literary quotation to accompany it.

Surely somebody can offer a helpful suggestion? It doesn't have to be from Juvenal or even Milton.

1 August 2020

Psalms (3)

Curiously, we do not know how the Venite (Ps 94 Vg/LXX = Ps 95 MT) was used in Temple worship. But we should take seriously the opening word, which implies motion. (I mean that it is not like the English "C'mon let's have a singsong".) We are to "come" somewhere; we are to move to where God is to be encountered. Nothing is more subversive of true religion than the "spiritual" notion that we need not do more than discern a ubiquitous god. The whole point of Creation is the endless variety of objects and times and places. Exclusively "Spiritual" commerce between an ego and a monad effectively denies the credal affirmation of God as Creator.

Does the Hebrew text point to the Temple Mount upon its lofty rock? We are, literally, urged to make a joyful noise to "the rock of our salvation". But the Septuagintal translation, followed by the Vugate, renders "rock" as "God"! This is an example of how, throughout the Psalter, concrete and vivd terms such as  rock, shield, fortress are replaced by more respectful terms. It has been suggested that one motive may be a desire to avoid encouraging idolatry. (If so, the policy might be said to have failed in the case of Wordsworth and the tradition of English Poetic Landscape-and-Weather Worship.)

S Jerome, pointing out that the word Salvation shares its root with the Name Jesus, neatly suggested that we might translate "rock of our Salvation" as "Jesus our Rock". This might open up interesting links with the Rock which Moses struck open in the Wilderness and thereby to devotion to the Sacred Heart. If, on the other hand, we stick with the version in the Breviary, Deo salutari nostro, an appetite for elegant intertextualities will remark upon its similarity to Mary's phrase near the beginning of the Magnificat, Deo salutari meo (the Greek Bible offers the same parallelism).

"Venite". So we are to come into His presence; Neale/Littledale point out that "coming before His Face" often implies coming before God with Sacrifice (Micah 6:6). "The chief constituent of the sacrifice of Thanksgiving  ... was an oblation of cakes of fine flour and wafer bread, and thus we may justly see in this place a prophecy of the Sacrifice of the New Law, that Eucharistic oblation of praise and thanksgiving wherein CHRIST is Himself offered in a mystery to the FATHER".

In fact, to be pedantic, Leviticus 7 is saying that the 'cakes' accompany  the Thank Offering. Canon Arthur Couratin, long-time Principal of Staggers, used to irritate Protestants who chattered on about "sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving" by pointing out that in the Law, Sacrifices of Thanksgiving tended, as he put it, to have four legs and say "Baaahaaah".

How fittingly do Byzantines refer to the Eucharistic Host as the amnos.

In verse three, Neale/Littledale remark "The force of this verse is somewhat weakened in all the versions, by their failing to give the precisepoint of the Hebrew". I save this for next time.