17 May 2021

Lewis on "Science"

I do not think that Lewis disliked Science. He refers clearly to "The physical sciences, good and innocent in themselves". But I think there are strong grounds for suspecting that he was uneasy about the word

When Ransom, after killing Weston in the caves of Venus, decides to engrave a memorial inscription to the great physicist, what he carves is "He studied the properties of bodies". When he describes the space travel which Weston has contrived, he does not use any term remotely like 'Science'; Weston, we are told, did it by "enginry and Natural Philosophy". We need not suppose that Lewis had been excessively influenced by the faded Victorian lettering over the doors in the Bodleian quadrangle ("Schola Naturalis Philosophiae and the like); "Natural Philosophy" is an older term for what Modern Man calls "Science".

I wonder what lies behind this: in Hideous Strength, I think Lewis often writes 'science' and 'chemistry' with lower case first letters ... but Sociology with upper case initial letters.

When Lewis's 'baddie' characters do use the term 'science', it becomes immediately clear that he dislikes it. It represents for him the wicked intellectual monstrosities of the 1930s. 

The N.I.C.E. marks the beginning of a new era -- the really scientific era. Up to now, everything has been haphazard. This is going to put science itself on a scientific basis. There are to be forty interlocking committees sitting every day ...

The real thing is that this time we're going to get science applied to social problems and backed by the whole force of the state, just as war has been backed by the whole force of the state in the past. One hopes, of course, that it'll find out more than the old free-lance science did; but what's certain is that it can do more ...

... simple and obvious things at first -- sterilization of the unfit, liquidation of backward races (we don't want any dead weights), selective breeding. Then real education, including pre-natal education. By real education I mean one that has no 'take-it-or-leave-it' nonsense. A real education makes the patient what it wants infallibly: whatever he or his parents try to do about it. Of course, it'll have to be mainly psychological at first. But we'll get on to biochemical conditioning in the end and direct manipulation of the brain ...

 ... But this is stupendous, Feverstone.

Lewis's account of N.I.C.E. does contain one genuine scientist; but Hingest, a chemist, is on the point of walking out. "I came here because I thought it had something to do with science. Now that I find it's something more like a political conspiracy, I shall go home. I'm too old for that kind of thing, and if I wanted to join a conspiracy, this one wouldn't be my choice."

"You mean that the element of social planning doesn't appeal to you? I can understand that it doesn't fit in with your work as it does with sciences like Sociology, but --"

"There are no sciences like Sociology. And if I found chemistry beginning to fit in with a secret police run by a middle-aged virago who doesn't wear corsets and a scheme for taking away his farm and his shop and his children from every Englishman, I'd let chemistry go to the devil and take up gardening again."

Unsurprisingly, 'the scientists' needed to kill "the proud old unbeliever".

Vaccination ...

... is a word that ought to mean "Self-identifying with a cow".

I have recently received a most excellent booklet from the august and brilliant Professor Roberto de Mattei, whom I had the pleasure and privilege to get to know when we were working together on the Correctio Filialis. He is President of the Lepanto Foundation and the author of a history of Vatican II which blew the gaffe ...

The booklet is called  

ON THE MORAL LICEITY OF THE VACCINATION A clear and comprehensive response to those who consider vaccination gainst Covid-19 illicit, because of its association with abortion.

I urge anybody to get it who still has any scruples about accepting anti-Covid Vaccines. Edizioni Fiducia. 10 euro. 

Could somebody who knows their way around the world append information about how to procure copies in Anglophone countries?

The Magisterium, of course, decided this question in the document Dignitatis personae, Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith 2008, Joseph Ratzinger Cardinal Prefect. It was approved and ordered to be promulgated by John Paul II. 

16 May 2021

Prose Composition

What more pointless procedure could there be than making boys and young men spend hours putting a piece of English into Latin (or Classical Greek ... or, indeed, any other language)?

I think it is (was?) the finest, the choicest element in the traditional education of a literate Englishman who knew how to think

The little fellows often started off fiddling around with English-Latin Pocket Dictionaries, as they attempted to render the English, word for word, into Latin. One had to break them of this. They had to be made to understand that the point of the operation was ask oneself what the English really meant; and then to reproduce that meaning in Latin. The resulting passage of Latin would not, in fact, look at all like the English. 

I am sure that C S Lewis had been immersed in just this educational process. He demonstrates it in the passage (Out of the Silent Planet) where Ransom, a philologist, is required to act as an interpreter between Weston and the Oyarsa of Mars. 

Weston (and readers will note the proud assumptions of the 1930s in all this) says: "To you I may seem a vulgar robber, but I bear on my shoulders the destiny of the human race. Your tribal life with its stone-age weapons and beehive huts, its primitive coracles and elementary social structure, has nothing to compare with our science, medicine and law, our armies, our architecture, our commerce, and our transport system which is rapidly annihilating space and time. Our right to supersede you is the right of the higher over the lower."

With difficulty, Ransom renders this as follows:

"Among us, Oyarsa, there is a kind of hnau [rational creature] who will take another hanau's food and things, when they are not looking. He says he is not an ordinary one of that kind. He says what he does now will make very different things happen to those of our people who are not yet born. He says that, among you, hnau of one kindred all live together and ... have spears like those we used a very long time ago and your huts are small and round and your boats small and light and like our old ones, and you have one ruler. He says it is different with us. He says we know much. There is a thing happens in our world when the body of a living creature feels pains and bcomes weak, and he says we sometimes know how to stop it. He says we have many bent people and we kill them or shut them in huts and that we have people for settling quarrels between the bent hnau about their huts and mates and things. He says we have many ways for the hnau of one land to kill those of another and some are trained to do it. He says we build very big and strong huts of stones and things ... and he says we exchange many things among ourselves and can carry heavy weights very quickly a long way. Because of all this, he says it would not be the act of a bent hnau if our people killed all your people."

It is, of course, difficult to translate from the languages of one fallen world into the languages of different and unfallen planets ... even more difficult than to translate from Modern English into Ciceronian Latin. Hence Ransom's unavoidable prolixity. 

But the real point Lewis is making is that modern English (particularly when spoken by the Intelligentia) is very pompous and tends to conceal meaning rather than to make it clear. Once you have unpacked a word or phrase, it seems remarkably less impressive and distinctly less attractive ... and might even make you wonder about its rationality.

Ratio, Logos, will not return to our culture until our brighter students are once again taught by crumbly old gentlemen (or ladies) in MA gowns green and disintegrating with age who intermittently sustain themselves with snuff while giving advice on Ciceronian cursus.  

To follow: Lewis on Science.

15 May 2021

Archbishop Vigano

 Readers will remember that I recently commended a collection of Archbishop Vigano's articles and interviews ... and so I will not, I hope, be criticised as being hostile to His Grace. The truth is quite the opposite. So I will dare to suggest that a passage in hs most recent interview is either not quite right; or is liable to misinterpretation.

"It is at least difficult to maintain that the Mystical Body can raise up liturgical prayer -- whicvh is an official, solemn, and public action -- with a double voice: this two-fold nature can signify duplicity ..."

If this means that two rites should not coexist, then it appears contrary to the millennia-old insistence of the Roman Church that a plurality of rites is in itself good. In my mail this morning I had a letter from an enthusiastic friend who had experienced an old Carmelite Triduum. And I have Dominican friends. And friends who are Catholics of Eastern Rites. And ... I won't need to remind His Grace of the Ambrosian Rite.

We need the spirit and the Methodology of S Pius V in his Quo primum. He insisted ... No! he mandated ... the retention of Latin Rites more than two centuries old. His edition was compulsory only for churches which had not preserved a form of the Roman Rite from before that time.

Why two centuries? Because that took S Pius back to well before the invention of printing: which had facilitated in the Western Church liturgical innovation, fiddling, and Clever Ideas (when every missal had to be handwritten, this was a powerful remora against liturgical jiggery pokery).

When the time is ripe, we shall need an edition of the Roman Rite which is traditional ... and which excludes the innovations which followed the election of Eugenio Pacelli.

What do I mean by 'traditional'? Let me reply by practical examples. The first printed edition of the Roman Missal (1474) is something that I could use today. I might have to gum in newer propers (or content myself with using the Communia) but the book would be usable. I have myself used a missal which belonged to to Bishop Challoner, VA. True, I was saying a requiem and I needed to use the Common Preface, since the (Neo-Gallican) Preface for the Departed was not inserted until Benedict XV did so. But the book was usable.

But nobody could say the Novus Ordo from a Missal of 1962. Nobody could celebrate the Old, Authentic Mass from a Novus Ordo Missal.

That is what 'rupture' means!

And so that's my rule of thumb. And I would claim that it is a practical expression of what 90% of the Fathers of Vatican II thought they were expressing when they talked about 'organic evolution'. 

Rites do develop and do respond to new cultures. They are not unchanging. In fact, the immediate successors of S Pius V did make modifications in his missal. 

What is wrong with the Novus Ordo is not that the Catholic Church (to plagiarise Archbishop Thomas Cranmer)  'now from hencefurth  ... shall haue but one use', but that the NO is a corrupted rite.

14 May 2021

There must be a story here ...

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has apparently made available under its customary formal heading the text of a 'Pastoral Letter' for Pentecost. In this text, we are told that their Graces and their Lordships have decided to "speak out together ... as bishops of England, Wales, and Scotland". (What is the Scottish situation?)

I always get excited when prelates talk about "speaking out". It's that dear little three-letter word "out" which sets my wotsits tingling.

But there appears to be some sort of rumour that not all the bishops could bring themselves to agree to this text. And those, few, diocesan websites which I am able to access ... readers will be aware that I am hopeless at this IT stuff ... make no reference to the 'letter'.

A bit of a tease, yes?

I do not read Church periodicals and I live the life of an irrelevant and rightly despised recluse. But surely, out there, somebody knows what is going on and could enlighten both me and my readers?

Dogmatically, the theme of the Pastoral is that we should not divide the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit from the involvement of the same Spirit in currently fashionable "Environmental" concerns.

Nothing wrong with that, is there.

13 May 2021


On April 14 I published this:

Apologies are due to the memory of Jane Austen. According to the Times (April 10), we can watch a TV programme about someone called Brandreth visiting "some of the places that inspired her". He actually "lays eyes on the very goblet from which young Jane would have taken communion". I think the fool-journalist who wrote this nonsense probably means 'communion cup' or 'chalice'.  And "he meets members of Austentatious, the Jane Austen-themed improvisational comedy troupe". Ha, and indeed (all together now) Ha.

Brandreth is clearly clairvoyant, because he pictures Austen "in the pews, thinking naughty thoughts." But, clearly, she did more than merely having naughty thoughts while at public worship, because, so the Times tells us, Brandreth "meets one of her direct descendants".

The illiterate who wrote this offensive drivel signs himself as Joe Clay.

UPDATE: Now (to be precise, on May 8) the Times has information from another of their in-house clowns (how many of these fools do they employ?). This one is called  James Jackson. 

He informs us that C Julius Caesar was assassinated in AD 44.

By my calculation, that should make Caesar something like 144 years old at his death. 

It is surprising the assassins felt they had to stick knives in him. You'd have thought that, at such an age, he'd have fallen down dead if someone had threatened him with a feather.

(h/t to my youngest daughter for spotting this.)

The Ascension and the blessing of the beans

Through whom, O Lord, thou dost ever create, sanctify, quicken, bless and bestow all these good things upon us. This paragraph near the end of the Canon can confuse people. They can take it as refering to the consecrated Elements upon the altar. But the language is not altogether appropriate if the Sacrament is meant. The Blessed Sacrament is not Blessed Bread, like the Antidoron of the Orientals or the Blest Bread of Medieval England. It is the transsubstantiated Body of Christ our God.  God Almighty, on earth.

This paragraph originally concluded the blessing of substances seasonally brought to the Altar: such as ... beans on Ascension Day! Not that beans have any liturgical association with the dogma of the Ascension that I can think of: it just happened that the bean harvest in Rome coincided with the Ascension (no, don't ask me how the bean-harvest fluctuated according to the varying date of Easter). And the first grapes were available to be blessed on the feast of S Xystus! On both these occasions, this form was used:
Bless, O Lord, also these new fruits of the Bean [or whatever] which thou O Lord by the dew of heaven and the showers of rain and the serenity and quietness of the seasons hast deigned to bring to ripeness, and hast given to our uses to receive them with thanksgiving in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom, O Lord, thou dost ever ... etc..

The Latinity is workmanlike, I almost wrote banausic, even gauche and gawky, with little in the way of Renaissance elegance or theological sparkle. Old Roman, in fact, in its sobriety and earthiness and utter, utter matter-of-factness.

The Maundy Thursday practice of blessing oils at this point in the Canon survives, of course, even in the modern rites. (And the erudite Dom Benedict Andersen told me of a French Benedictine Missal of 1781, Congregation of SS Vane and Hydulph, in which grapes are still blessed on the Feast of the Transfiguration.) So this old custom has still, by the the very tips of its fingers, by the skin of its teeth, kept a purchase upon Catholic Usage.

I sometimes feel sad at the opportunities the post-Conciliar reformers missed. In their keenness to spend long hours devising rubbishy innovations ... such as dodgy new unRoman Eucharistic Prayers and lectionary systems yanked ex nihilo ... they rarely bothered to go for the organic development which the Council had actually mandated. They could have allowed local hierarchies to incorporate appropriate blessings at this point in the Canon, and thus also have promoted a genuine inculturation which yet was totally within the parameters and spirit of the traditional Roman Rite. No, don't panic: I'm not advocating this now (except possibly in the Amazon Basin?). The moment has passed ... the moment for gentle, unflashy conservative enrichment and reappropriation was stifled by the culture of brutalism and rupture. So be it. They did it, they ruined everything, the muggers, the Bauhaus Liturgists, the suicide bombers with their vests; the 'reformers' with their wrecking-balls and their bulldozers. Still ...

 ... I do wonder if it would be nice, on just one feast in August, to bless fragrant flowers at this point in the Canon of the Mass? The feast, perhaps, of Someone whose empty tomb when opened was found to be filled with fragrant flowers? 

Until Pius XII Pacelli set his pruning hook to the propers of August 15, we used to share all those delightful 'apocryphal' legends with the Orientals; as far as I am aware, they are now almost totally forgotten in the West, except by people who go and look at the marvellous synoptic Assumptio by Rubens in the Hermitage.

12 May 2021

Saldum est cor Virginis

Tomorrow, in provinces and dioceses where some members of the hierarchy can count, is, of course, Ascension Day. But the following might be of use to you lucky people where the arithmetical skills of the hierarchs ... holy pontiffs ... do not reach quite as far as 40: because, tomorrow, you might be celebrating our Lady of Fatima. Indeed, such appears to be the expectation of whoever put together this year's List of Marian Shrines, to assist our prayers for the end of the Pandemic.

Why do I write a blog? An old post I reread recently reminded me why. I had written about a detail in the Office of Readings in the Liturgia Horarum on the memoria of our Lady of Fatima. I had wondered about the word at the start of the Responsory after the Patristic Reading (itself a passage from S Ephraim illustrating a mot of Eric Mascall: whenever Rome wants to say something really 'extreme' about Mary she has to raid Eastern sources). Saldum est cor Virginis: ad angeli nuntium concepit mysterium divinum ...etc. I did not know saldum as a Classical Latin word. I knew, of course, that Italian saldo means 'firm'; Danteists will know that Dante once used saldo to qualify cor, but not in a Marian context. Was saldum Late Latin? Was this responsory itself a quotation from a source which uses the word? Or did an Italophone in CDW intend to write 'solidum' but have his native tongue too much in mind? Or was this another typo?

Writing a blog enables me to access information! The thread provided me with just the information I sought. You will find it repeated below. Thank God for erudite readers! Meanwhile, do remember that her Immaculate Heart will prevail.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us, that your ascended Son and God may grant us many favours at your hands..

11 May 2021

Mary's Month of May (4)

The conclusion of S Gregory's sermon.  

Therefore, O sovereign Mistress, give to all thy people, this thine inheritance, a rich share of thy mercy and of thy graces. Grant release from the dread things which constrain them. Thou seest how many and how various are the things that oppress us, at home and abroad, without and within. By thy power turn all things to the better; making gentler towards each other those within, who are of the same race, while driving away those who rush in upon from outside us like wild beasts. Weigh out to our passions thy help and healing, distributing both to souls and bodies the abundant grace, sufficient for all matters. And if we make no progress, make us the more to progress, and so deal out thy grace that, saved and empowered by it, we may glorify the Word, enfleshed from thee for us yet older than the ages, with his uncaused (anarcho) Father and the livemaking Spirit, now and for ever and unto the unending ages. Amen.

10 May 2021

Church Dedications

This is a subject which has aroused some interest. I here repeat a piece I first published November 12. 2019

 People often assume that when the Anglicans describe an ancient parish church as 'dedicated to Saint X', they are giving accurate information. Sadly, this is very often not the case.

I draw attention to English Church Dedications by Nicholas Orme (Exeter, 1996). Orme regretfully pointed out that the work of Frances Arnold-Foster, on whose reliability many (including Bishop Kirk) had based their conclusions, was to all intents and purposes useless as far as medieval evidence is concerned, since she provided what, in 1899, were then regarded as the dedications of English churches and did little or no research. Later writers were hardly better. In fact, Orme's research in medieval sources demonstrated that a very high percentage of such dedications was invented by Georgian antiquaries or Victorian High Churchmen. Earlier writers were unaware of this, and equally unaware that so great were the discontinuities of the English Reformation that pretty well everywhere the dedications were forgotten very soon after the sixteenth century ruptures. Exceptions occurred in towns, where a plurality of churches meant that people had to retain some way of distinguishing each one from the others; and where, in the countryside, two villages needed to distinguish themselves (Snoring S Cosmas; Snoring S Damian).

Thus, in Devon, I had seven village churches. Of these seven, one retained the dedication it can be shown to have had in the Middle Ages. One is now known to have been dedicated to S Andrew, but was attributed in 1742 to S Mary, probably on the ground that the parish fair happened close to February 2. The other five churches have completely lost their original dedications, and the ones they now enjoy are post-medieval conjectures.

That Andrew dedication is interesting. Saxon and Norman bishops, when they went round consecrating unconsecrated churches (a lot of this happened in the twelfth century), worked from books descended lineally from those brought here in the Saxon period, and were marked with a preference for the Saint to whom S Gregory and the Augustinian Mission had been so devoted. (It was of course Pope Gregory who added S Andrew to the Libera nos.)

So the comparative popularity of S Andrew is yet another indication of the profound Romanita of Saxon England.


Anybody with an academic interest in the assertions I make in my penultimate paragraph will find the evidence in the (fairly) new HBS edition of Leofric.

Mary Month in Ireland

(Preliminary Ooops: My recent piece on the Islas Malvinas contained a piece of Rosica-style plagiarism. The best bit was borrowed from Evelyn Waugh's Scott King's Modern Europe. Which I heartily commend ... Now that I have confessed, back now to our Month of Prayer for the end of the Pandemic.)

The Vatican List of Marian shrines, to aid our Marymonth prayer for the end of the Pandemic, takes us today to the West Coast of Ireland ... to Knock. Let me explain why I have a very soft spot for that Shrine.

Well-informed readers will be aware of the celebrated 'Eucharistic Window' in my old Anglican church of S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford. Above the Blessed Sacrament Altar, the window has, in its lower register, a priest vested for Mass and standing versus Orientem at an altar vested with lighted candles. The priest is in the act of elevating the Chalice. Above, so that His Blood could flow into that Chalice, is the Lamb slain in Sacrifice. Canon Chamberlain inserted that window soon after he had restored the use of Mass vestments. It was controversial. They stoned him in the streets. (Nowadays, I imagine, some Roman Catholics would have fits about the ad Orientem. Amazing, the skills and versatility of the Evil One.)

For two happy mornings in 2015, while at the Shrine at Knock with the Brethren of the Irish branch of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and Cardinal Pell, I had the immense privilege of celebrating at the Altar of the Apparitions. I had heard rumours that the Shrine authorities were ill-disposed to the Old Mass, but such was certainly not my experience. The very courteous young sacristan rearranged the altar furnishings so that I could celebrate the Ancient Mass facing the fine carving of "an altar and the figure of a lamb with a cross reclining on his back" (as one of the visionaries described what she saw). That same typology which, in sober Anglican Oxford, Canon Chamberlain had put into S Thomas's a generation previously!! 

I felt an acute sense of being at one with that long line of cohanim who for centuries stood in the Jerusalem Temple and, morning after faithful morning, sacrificed the Tamid lamb for God's People, until the Lamb Himself came, the New Isaac, and shadows gave way to Reality. And I think I even felt a hint of the Vision at the end of The Dawntreader, of the Lamb that stands at the Uttermost East, with His sweet invitation Come and have Breakfast. Marana tha.

Readers will not suspect me of any indifference to shrines in which the Glorious and Immaculate Theotokos is placed centrally. Yet there is tremendous power in the nakedly, almost bluntly, Christocentric Apparition at Knock. And there is much didactic potential in the Typology of the Lamb, as a little book on sale in the Shrine Bookshop makes clear. Interestingly, particularly given the polylogia of the Irish, our Lady spoke not a word at Knock; as the supreme Hesychast, she "kept all these things in her heart", just as she did as Our Lady of Light in her Appearance at S Hilary in Cornwall.

Knock is as splendidly Irish as Walsingham is wonderfully English and Lourdes superbly French. The tower of the old Catholic Parish Church dates from 1828, the year of Catholic Emancipation, and reminds me of what, in Co Kerry, I expected a Church of Ireland church tower to resemble ... Gothic rather than Gothick but in the plain ungrammatical style of Gothic before the Pugins and the Carpenters took it in bookish hand. I suppose the similarity must indicate that many Church of Ireland churches were built around that same time. (Did the Emancipation lead to a lot of church-building among Catholics?) By the way: pilgrims should not miss three small but fine Harry Clarke windows in the three East windows of the Church. (Like other Clarke windows I have noticed, they are not in Nicola Bowe's list, even if signed. The other windows in the church may be 'Studio of' and from the 1950s, but, although a cut above the generality of 1950s church windows, they merely echo the work of the Great Man).

From the Akathist Hymn: The Shepherds heard the Angels extolling the Christ coming in the flesh; and running as to a shepherd they see him as a Lamb unspotted being fed on Mary's breast, to whom they sang, saying: Hail! Mother of both Lamb and Shepherd; Hail! fold of rational sheep!

9 May 2021

Update for Americans

Momentous events, over here. We've not had a "General Election", but we have had a whole gamut of different sorts of local elections.

Given the terms used to describe our de facto Ruler, "Boris" Johnson ... I recently noticed "Squalid imposter" in The Times ... you may be surprised to learn that he and his party have done remarkably well. But Traditionalists everywhere will appreciate the almost Medieval means by which this political success was encompassed.

On Polling Day, last Thursday, Voters had their eyes and ears dazzled by the archaic spectacle of active hostilities against our nearest neighbours; a very substantial proportion of our Navy was sent to confront the French! (These events had been prepared for by Media stuff about Napoleone Buonaparte, the bicentenary of whose death has recently been noticed.) Not unnaturally, as in most times of national crisis, hoi polloi dutifully voted for the strong martial Leader. Media pictures followed of the dear and triumphant Leader together with his current maitresse en titre (readers may remember  Nell Gwynn's spirited reproof when a mob mistook her for one of King Charles's French 'fiancees').

So now the Leader has decided to reward his craven electorate. He has issued a list of places which his subjects are henceforth allowed to visit on holiday. Most notably, most happily, the list includes the ever-popular Malvinas islands!

How every Briton longs to escape our dour and cold Northern fastnesses and to experience the very much more Southern culture of the Islas Malvinas! Hot oil and garlic and spilled wine; luminous pinnacles above a dusky wall; fireworks at night, fountains at noonday; the impudent, inoffensive hawkers of lottery tickets moving from table to table on the crowded pavements; the shepherd's pipe on the scented hillside; baroque monasteries overlooking ancient vineyards and groves of gnarled olives; gangs of paparazzi pursuing scantilly-clad supermodels; the yachts in the harbour of the International Smart Set; Clooneys and Sussexes wall-to-wall ... and, of course, the truly spectacular weather they have there in July. But it may confidently be predicted that, miraculously, the best places on the beaches will not all have been hogged by German sun-bathers.

This summer, the South-bound liners will be packed!

8 May 2021

The unasked question

I have read quite a lot of the reactions to the CDF document about 'blessing' intrinsically disordered relationships. I am grateful to those who enable me to read this material by supplying links on the Internet.

As I have written before, what seems to me the acid test is this: Would these bishops and 'theologians' and 'moralists'apply identical or analogous arguments in order to justify paedophiliac relationships?

If not, why not?

Why, as far as I am aware, does nobody apart from me ask this?

I know the problems about asking this question: (1) people with a limited appreciation of logic will attack those asking such questions on the grounds that "You are arguing in favour of paedophilia". And (2) other people with equally challenged capacities will complain "You are saying that we are as bad as paedophiles".

But, unless this question (or one similar) can be asked, and answers sought, I do not see how discussion can move ahead on a rational basis. "Discussion" will continue to be, as it is now, a constant reiteration of simplistic mantras (such as "love" [undefined] justifies everything) in order eventually to wear down those who at present decline to bow before the Zeitgeist.

We had it all in the C of E. Demands for "dialogue" or "to be listened to" or "to have our experience heard" amount simply to an insistence that one must keep listening to the speaker, politely and preferably without interruption, until one is prepared to make ones submission. 

On no account may one cite Holy Scripture or objective expressions of the Church's Magisterium. If one does so, one becomes particularly subject to unargued abuse and contempt.

The demand being ruthlessly made is for a one-way journey facilitated by unquestioning obedience and with a prescribed, ineluctable, conclusion.

It is a policy and a process bearing all the hallmarks of where it originated.

PS I just heard a (clerical) supporter of change, on the BBC Sunday programme, say "The Pope can change everything". 

What a beautifully succinct summary of the Bergoglianite heresy. Why was poor Doellinger excommunicated for declining to subscribe to Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I, while this appalling doctrinal disorder is pretty well a commonplace ... and is never disciplined?

Mary's Month of May (3)

S Gregory Palamas preached this sermon on August 15, hence the now in the next sentence. The Hesychast tradition which he skilfully expounded emphasised the truth, reality and possibility of human participation in the Divine Nature; accordingly, it was easy for him to see our Lady as the supreme triumph of divinisation. 

O Virgin, divine and now heavenly, how shall I tell the whole of thee? How shall I glorify thee, who art the treasury of Glory? It is alone thy memorial which sanctifies the one who uses it. Attention to thee (neusis pros se) is the only thing which makes the mind clearer, raising it immediately to a divine height; through thee the eye of contemplation is made more acute; through thee is illumined the spirit by the indwelling of the divine Spirit; for thou didst become steward (tamiouchos) and full content (perioche) of graces; not so that thou mightest keep them by thyself, but so that thou might fill the whole of everything (ta sumpanta) with grace - because the Dispenser of inexhaustible treasures ordains (epitropeuei) it on account of the distribution: for why would he make the undiminshed wealth to be closed up?

One more paragraph..

7 May 2021


Today, in the Julian Calendar the Friday in Bright Week, Byzantines celebrate the role of the Mother of God in pouring Christ's healing streams of grace upon us. Originally Zoodochos Pege (the life-receiving fount) referred to one of Constantinople's greatest basilicas (next door to the imperial residence), Blachernae. Our Lady appeared there at the hagiasma (miraculous stream), standing with her hands raised in the orans posture. After an ikon was created to portray this and placed in the church, water began to flow from her hands. One is reminded of similar imagery and ideas at much later Western shrines such as Fatima and Lourdes, and of linked motifs of water and of grace flowing from her hands. The congruence here between East and West is quite uncanny, and it can only be a glorious intimation of the fact that both East and West drink from the same wholesome wells.

Zoodochos Pege is is also the dedication of that nice little Orthodox chapel up the stairs at the back of the Anglican Shrine Church of Our Lady of Walsingham. Suitably so, because a big part of the pilgrimages at Lourdes and Walsingham is the use of the water which our Lady showed to her servant. 

What a pity there is no Catholic Byzantine chapel at Walsingham! The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer on Papa Stronsay have a history of biritualism ... a shame that, I think, their lovely little Ukrainian chapel has not been used since the Brethren regularised their canonical position. And in England there are Melkite Catholics. It would be beautiful if Byzantine Christianity were better known to English Catholics! I would love to have the faculties and facilities to serve the Liturgy in memory of a dear friend long-departed, Christopher Commodatos, Bishop of Telmissos, also associated with the Camberwell New Road! And of the Little Brother Lazarus.

It seems to me that the symbolism of Zoodochos Pege is an expression of what we Westerners have in mind when we call Mary Mediatrix omnium gratiarum, or refer to her Omnipotentia supplex.  

May she pray for the unity of all her Son's people.

6 May 2021


Perhaps, in the hope we that may eventually emerge from the pestilence, you would like a suggestion or two from me about possible Summer holidays ...

I venture to suggest the Co Kerry village of Sneem ... a very unusual Irish village. 

The Church of Ireland Rector there a generation or two ago was Charlie Gray-Stack, who was also Dean of Ardfert ... the old episcopal See of Co Kerry (features of the ruined Cathedral at Ardfert were copied by Pugin when he built the new Catholic Cathedral at Killarney). It was, I think, in 1952 that the Catholic Church, most regrettably, stopped calling the Kerry diocese Ardfert and Aghadoe (as they still do in the rather more traditional C of I). 

Charlie was no Paisleyite Protestant. He astonished both the papists and his fellow Irish Anglicans by his enthusiasm for the Holy Rosary and his defence of the televised Angelus - which, even in those days, was already being targetted by the secularists of Dublin 4. He transfigured his church; announced that it was dedicated to the Transfiguration (C of I parish churches originally lacked dedications, as did most C of E churches until the Victorian 'ecclesiologists' came along and invented them); and filled it with icons. It had been a typical, rather mean little Irish church in poor and ungrammatical Gothic, built to serve the as-yet unburned Ascendancy Big Houses which abounded in the subtropical climate of the South Iveragh. Charlie plastered and whitewashed the outside and planted palm trees, so that looked positively Mediterranean, instead of dour, Northern, and proddy. 

An earlier member of the congregation was presumably the actress Dorothea Jordan who was the long-serving mistress of William IV when he was Duke of Clarence. (That is why he surnamed his innumerable brood of bastards 'FitzClarence'; and created his eldest 'natural' son 'Earl of Munster'.)

The Catholic church in Sneem was built by Lord Dunraven, one of that interesting gaggle of Ascendancy aristocrats and gentry, not often remembered, who followed Saint John Henry into Full Communion. He had it dedicated to the Holy Cross. It was he who began the academic study of the extensive early monastic remains in coastal Kerry, sailing round the headlands and islands in his yacht and making notes and drawings. He is a gentleman and a scholar who deserves to be less forgotten both among Brits - and among the Irish who, despite their intermittent cultural make-overs (invariably for the worse), still suffer from a passion for discontinuity, their communal memories ruptured by the events of 1920/2 and a lurking anglophobia. 

Beside the Catholic church is a sculpture park; I recall one very surreal day when we gathered for the unveiling of a statue of Isis, given by the Egyptian ambassador (yet another addict of holidaying in Sneem). There stood I; beside me, Archdeacon Murphy, brother of the then Catholic Bishop (Irish Catholics retain the title of Archdeacon as an honorific); I wondered how an image of that Hellenistic Goddess who was such a potent rival of Christianity could be so lackadaisically tolerated by two Christian priests, not to mention a sternly monotheistic Moslem. When I last saw it, the Irish damp had done quite a bit of no good to the said idol which, under a shiny black surface, was plaster. The smooth Ptolemaic lines of the Philopateira Thea are now enhanced by enormous and positively super-baroque blisters.

Down by some lush inlets of the sea is the Parknasilla Hotel; G B Shaw used to go there, being driven, sitting bolt upright, in the back of his Rolls Royce, fearless through the bailiwick of the Third West Cork Brigade (who so memorably dealt with both the Black and Tans and poor Mr Collins). He wrote a lot at Parknasilla, including S Joan. Tea on the terrace there, overlooking the fertile, myrtle-clad coastline and Kenmare Water, is quite a Grand Hotel (often, Mediterranean) experience, if you can ignore the hunched figure of Bertie Ahern ... remember him? ... biting his fingernails in the corner. 

In fact, you could go on retreat there. The Hotel, needing to fill some empty book-shelves, bought en bloc the entire library of a defunct seminary (a commodity in which Modern Ireland is immensely rich).

Another military man, M le General de Gaulle, also holidayed in Sneem. Some wag, hearing that le General had stayed there, took to calling it Sneem les Deux Eglises which, it happens, is magnificently suitable! Attached to the Hotel is the most beautiful, scenic, twelve-hole Hotel golf course I have ever seen. Pam used to play rounds there with her sons/sons-in-law while I sat on a ruined and secluded jetty, drank Beamish, translated the Irish Times leader into Latin, looked out for the kingfishers and sea-otters, and watched the mullet drifting lazily in on the rising tide. 

The day when Ireland no longer offers Secluded Ruins will be the day when it is finally and irrevocably no longer Ireland.

If you were to holiday in Sneem, you could say the Rosary as you went out on the boats, past the great gannetry of the Little Skellig to the monastic island of Skellig S Michael (Shaw was rowed there but I doubt if he said the Rosary). It was one of the great pilgrimage centres in Ireland before, in the nineteenth century, Cardinal Cullen, that monumental spoil-sport, dragged the Irish Church kicking and screaming into the Tridentine reforms. 

I expect he used to preach about The Spirit Of The Council (of Trent, of course). Some people will stop at nothing.

5 May 2021


 I've just heard a news bulletin from our national broadcaster informing us that today is the 200th anniversary of the death of "France's Last Emperor".

What a pathetically ignorant little country "Great Britain" is.

S John at the Latin Gate ... should it be a Double of the First Class?

S John at the Latin Gate, a Prayer Book festival (also still to be found in the delightfully unreformed Calendar of the University of Oxford) long since abolished on the modern Roman Calendar, reappears on May 6 on the Calendar of the Ordinariate (disguised as "S John in Eastertide")! Since you have probably been wondering why, and because I know you are discreet, I will let you into the secret. Just within these four walls. Are you sitting comfortably?

Before the Ordinariates were canonically erected by the great, the erudite, the fabulous Benedict XVI, the Pope of Christian Unity, a group of us had a series of highly confidential meetings in catacumbis, or, to be more prosaic, in the Catholick Apostolick cellars of Gordon Square, guided by our Flying Bishops. Episcopopteryx Andrew Burnham decided to term these the 'Latin Gate' meetings, because the first of them took place on May 6 in 2010! So tomorrow is the glorious celebration of the first synodos of that bold group, some of whom risked being bullied into premature resignation if their Anglican bishops had found out what they were up to (that is why the meetings had to be so secret).

What a lot seems to have happened in a mere eleven years!

Tomorrow's feast celebrates the start of the process which led to those priests becoming the core of the founding presbyterate of the English Ordinariate. Imagine us as being rather like the courageous First Wave that stormed up the Normandy beaches on June 6 in 1944! I think that we battle-scarred heroes, we noble Band of Brothers, the Class of 2010, ought to be given special medals to pin proudly onto the Black Scarves of our Anglican choir dress (what might its design include?). But, Fathers, the least we can do is to celebrate S John the Apostle at the Altar.

Those subterranean meetings eventually morphed into the 'Formation' [not a word I much like] meetings at Allen Hall, where we were made to feel wonderfully welcome by staff and students alike. It was an exhilarating experience for us, whose Catholic Faith was mediated to us within the Church of England, to feel, at last, our longed-for unity with the other great strand of English Catholicism, the Martyres Duacenses listed on the panels upon the walls.

A technical point here: do we count as Alumni of Allen Hall? I do so much hope so.

You will know that Allen Hall was founded at Douay following the accession of Elizabeth Tudor, Bloody Bess, after ex-vice-chancellors, Heads of Houses, Regius Professors, Fellows, students galore, had had to flee in a great Exodus from Oxford; and it was founded moreover by the indefatigable Cardinal Allen, sometime Proctor of this University and Principal of S Mary's Hall, who would have been Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England if only the winds had been a tadge more accommodating in 1588. I am sure he would have 'progged' the Elizabethan elite in ways they would not, in a hurry, have forgotten. Happily, his statue looks across to the University Church from the North front of Oriel ... one of the statues associated with the Rhodes of the Rhodes-must-go campaign.

So Allen Hall is in a real continuity with Marian, Catholic, Oxford (so well evoked by Duffy's Fires). And it was a novel luxury for us to have access to its bibliotheca superbissima where the Bullaria of the Roman Pontiffs ... including the great Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini ... were just sitting there on the open shelves, immediately inside the door, generously available to anybody and everybody to browse in passing. Not even the library at Staggers was as well equipped! No wonder Allen Hall men are such excellent priests!

The food, too, was better than at Staggers.

4 May 2021

Our Lady's hair

I have occasionally noticed that late Medieval representations of our most blessed Lady often show her bare-headed and with her hair over her shoulders and arms. I think of the Marian banner in St John's College (reproduced in Duffy Fires); of the statue of the Assumption in the church at Sandford upon Thames.

And the Roman Pontifical, describing a Queen approaching her Coronation, says that she comes crine soluto. The records of the Coronations of Good Queen Mary and of Bloody Bess agree: she wears her hair loose and 'decently let down on her shoulders'.

I know what you're going to say to me: "Don't be silly ... they were going to be needing to balance a crown upon their heads, so of course hats and fancy hair-does were excluded ... do try to be practical ..."

I suppose you're right ... if, perhaps, a trifle prosaic.

But I still can't help wondering whether there might be some association of a bare female head with regality. 

Matthew Sarbiewski, a Pole and one of the associates of Urban VIII in the importation of Horatian poetics into the Christian Latin of the 1620s, describes the head of the Mother of God: 

Tu [his friend Rosa] rerum dominam canes,

     Et sparsam Zephyrorum arbitrio comam

Nudis ludere bracchiis,

     Et nimbos volucrum fundere crinium ... 

3 May 2021

Mary's Month of May (2)

This continues a previous post in this series. 

For since the following rule is established for ever in the heavens: 'Through the greater the lesser share in the One who is established beyond Being' - and the Virginmother is beyond all comparison greater than all - through her those will share whosoevever will share in God; and whosoever know God will win her, the place of the Unencompassed One (tou achoretou choran); and those will hymn her after God whosoever hymn God. She also is the cause (aitia) of what came before her, and the advocate of those who follow after her, and guardian of eternal things. She is the subject matter of the prophets, the head (arche) of the apostles, the firm basis of the martyrs, the foundation of the teachers. She is the glory of what is on earth, the pleasure of what is in heaven, the pride of all creation. She is the beginning and fount and root of goods beyond telling. She is the highest point of what is holy, and its perfection.  

S Gregory Palamas was Archbishop of Thessalonica in the fourteenth century, defender and expounder of the 'hesychast' mystical tradition of union with God which was particularly associated with the monks of Mount Athos. It is my view that his Mariological writings are refreshingly different both in their content and their assumptions from what we are used to in the West.


To be continued.

2 May 2021

Mary's Month of May (1)

I plan to reprint during this Marian month, bit by bit (because it is a very dense piece of Byzantine rhetorical theology and repays careful study section by section) a passage of a homily which, I feel, has an interest as explaining, from a Byzantine point of view, why our Lady should be deemed Mediatrix of All Graces. The author was S Gregory Palamas, sometimes thought of as a defender of the Orthodox theological tradition against 'Latin error' (Greek at PG CLI 472C sqq). 

Just as through [Mary] alone, [Christ] came to be with us and was seen upon earth and dwelt among men - he who before her was invisible to all - so, unto the coming endless age, every advance of divine enlightenment, every revelation of divine mysteries, and every kind of spiritual gift, cannot be encompassed (achoreton) by any without (choris) her. She it was who first received the fulness of him who fills all things, and made him encompassable by all, distributing powerfully to each, proportionately according to the measure of the purity of each: so that she is the treasury (tamieion) and Controller (prytanis) of the riches of the Godhead. 

I welcome comments, both on the theology and on my attempt to render the highly mannered Greek in comprehensible yet faithful English.

Unaccountably, last Friday's Vatican list of world-wide shrines of our Lady omits her great Shrine at Tinos. Or is "da confermare" the Italian for Tinos?

1 May 2021


Last year, I published a list associating each day of May with an English Shrine of our Lady.

Without any acknowledgement of my blog whatsoever, some people calling themselves the "Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples" have just put out a world-wide list for this May.  

I can't wait to get to May 24, when, in mind and spirit, we shall associate ourselves with the Shrine of our Lady "da Confermare".

May 1 is assigned to our Lady of Walsingham. There's still time if you hurry ... ...

S Joseph

Today, Fr Zed reprints on his admirable blog the Litany to S Joseph.

Ha Ha! Bishop Roach, who is probably in charge temporarily of the CDW, has just put out an updated and augmented version. 

I'm glad +Arthur's long years in Rome haven't made him lose his wicked English sense of humour! 


The Times has a heading which includes the phrase "Male Chauvinist pigs".

I strongly approve of this. Such language makes life so much more vivid.

I am keeping watch for the visionary Times headline which will refer to "Feminist Sows". 

Grunt Grunt! C'mon, you Runts, roll it on!!

The Mary Month of May. She feared the light.

So reads a responsory which, in the Liturgia Horarum, comes after the first reading of the Office of Readings on March 25. 

Why did our Lady fear the light? Where does the detail come from?

The responsory was taken over from the old Breviary, so we don't have to wonder about on what grounds to criticise Bugnini & Co.. I tried the Protevangelium Iacobi, in case it has its origin in an apocryphal source, but no luck there.

The Latin has "expavescit de lumine" - which isn't quite the same. But what is the point, anyway, of this vivid little detail?

Could it be to provide a narrative reason as to exactly why our Lady was afeared? Perhaps it originated in a culture in which Angels did not (yet?) have the iconographical convention of big give-away wings, and so Light (rather than feathers) was how their presence was known.

In C S Lewis's interplanetary novels, the Oyeresu are described as manifesting themselves as pulses, scarcely perceptible rods, of light.

One of Lewis's motives in writing his interplanetary romances was to rescue Christianity from Religion (a point which, I think, Rowan Williams makes). Perhaps he felt that Angels, in particular, need to be rescued from the culture of the Primary School Nativity Play and the Victorian church window.

And perhaps, during this Mary Month of May, we might wonder if the Theotokos, also, needs to be rescued from Religion so that an apostate world can see her in her great might as a mega thauma, and wonder at her Immaculate Heart, and tremble?

30 April 2021


Here is something which has probably lurked at least in the the subconscious mind of each reader who is daily concerned to live the daily liturgy of our Latin Church.

The imminent week has a unique and glorious characteristic. It is, for those following the Gregorian Calendar, always part of Eastertide. However late Easter is (April 25?), it is never so late that the Abstinences of Lent and Passiontide can thrust their austere requirements forward into May. However early Easter is (March 22?), it is never so early that Red (or even dreader thought, Green) vestments can claw their way back into early May. Simplifying a bit (details of course in Cheney): this one week of the year is always clear of pre-Eastertide, always clear of post-Eastertide, and generally clear even of the pressures of the Easter and Pentecost Octaves.

The Week that is never unEaster!

So you might expect that the special Providence which looks after ecclesiastical calendars would have made this unique week very distinctly special.

It did! It did!


Tomorrow, for example, May 1, is in many diverse cultures special. I don't know that I believe all the stuff so beloved of anti-Christians ("old pagan festivals Christianised ... Beltane ... "), but May Day is a happy celebration of Spring (apologies to the Antipodes) and not least here in Oxford (Covid permitting). For us, it is the glorious English Festival of Ss Philip and James. 

Then, at least this year, Sunday brings us the Julian Easter with its own special joy, followed by Bright Week. Christos anesti! Alethos anesti! Don't forget the Zoodochos Pege!

And Monday, May 3, is pure genius. The festival of the Finding of the Holy Cross ... a Double of the Second Class ... shows us the Cross of Salvation suffused now with the light of the Resurrection. Eng-lit enthusiasts will recall the splendid old English poem about the Glorious Rood, but for all of us, important as is the Cross of the Dolours, the Cross of Pathos, our crucial focus should be on the Cross of Triumph. Qualiter Redemptor Orbis/ immolatus vicerit! Io Triumphe!

May 4, for the English, brings another Triumph, that of our beloved English Martyrs. A 'Festum' in the Novus Ordo and the Ordinariate; in a revised Trad Calendar for England, it must surely be made at least a Greater Double ... or a Double of the Second Class.

Wednesday commemorates the great pontiff S Pius V, whose statue is so reassuringly at our Lady's side in the Brompton Oratory. Regnans in excelsis!

Thursday, May 6, S John at the Latin Gate, celebrates in our Ordinariate the beginning of the secret, underground meetings by which we responded to the gracious call to Unity of Pope Benedict XVI. 

And May 8, the Apparition of S Michael, the Protector of Cornwall, calls to our minds the Cornish S Michael's Mount and the story of the Wedged Bull between the theves (see blogpost of this time last year); the old Cornish Language Mystery plays with their cheerful peasant Catholic humour; the splendour of the late Medieval Churches with their iconography of the Five Wound; and the ever-present memory of those Catholics, gentry and peasantry, who were slaughtered in the proddy genocide of 1549. Not to mention Fr Bernard Walke and Fr Sandys Wason and Athelstan Riley and all the heroes, laic and cleric, Confessores Domini, of the distant but glorious days when Truro was the most Catholic Diocese in the C of E. Sed transivit gloria istius mundi.

This is not a week to be sniffed at! Not a Week for stuffy sobriety!!

Nothing and nobody can take these glories from us!! Well, Pius XII and Bugnini tried to, but Christendom in its long memory knows, with Benedict XVI, that what has been sacred cannot be trashed for ever. 

So Fathers, Mothers, Sister, Brothers ... untrash it! Grab it all! Take it back! Or, if you wish to plan ahead circumspectly, why not work out this week how you will celebrate WONDER WEEK next year!

29 April 2021

The "Appeal to Antiquity"

Everybody appeals to Antiquity: whether S Pius V (bull  Quod a nobis " ... ad pristinam orandi regulam conformata revocaretur ...")  or Archbishop Cranmer ("these many years passed, this godly and decent order of the ancient fathers hath been so altered, broken, and neglected ..."). And Vatican II, quoted by S Paul VI ("restituuntur ad pristinam sanctorum Patrum  normam nonnulla quae temporum iniuria deciderunt ...").

Smart chaps sometimes point out the problems here: Dom Gregory Dix loved to explain how little the 'reformers' actually knew about the worship of the 'Primitive Church' because relevant texts had not been published, but earlier (1904) Wickam Legg acknowledged that "Appeal to Antiquity may from imperfect knowledge of antiquity fail here and there". He comforted himself, however, with the thought that Antiquity "is a better principle than that which approves every abuse that has grown up in the Church ...". Legg footnotes the contrary opinion of Henry Manning: "But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine".

But the problem tends to be "Which Antiquity?" In Manning's time, the 'Antiquity' to which men appealed might often be the medieval usages of English Catholicism. Legg quotes a 'remarkable letter written to Cardinal Manning in 1866 by Mgr Talbot, who was in the household of Pius IX' "Your rule ought to be the Bullariun Romanum, and not the opinions of Dr Rock". 

But Rock (and Pugin and the Medievalist Anglican Ritualists) are not the only people whose mirage of a normative Antiquity is open to question. In the 1960s, the authentic early Roman liturgical Apostolic Tradition of Pope S Hippolytus was immensely influential. It supplied the Eucharistic Prayer which, in our post-Conciliar Church, is used in the overwhelming number of Eucharistic celebrations. And the Consecratory Prayer by which Latin Rite bishops are consecrated. Magnificent stuff.

But ... oops-a-daisy ... unfortunately, the document concerned is now universally realised to be neither authentically early Roman nor to have anything whatsoever to do with anybody called Hippolytus or, indeed, with any pope. The tectonic plates in Academe can shift a frightfully long way in a generation or two. Doesn't that make life fun?

And dodgy operatives may use the siren call of "Antiquity" in less than honest ways. S Paul VI (Missale Romanum) tried to palm off on us the idea that the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass was one of the Patristic features which had sadly slipped out of the Liturgy and ought to be restored. (Even more slippery was his attempt to attribute this opinion to the Conciliar Fathers of Vatican II: whatever you my think of the decree Sacrosanctum concilium, it did not make this claim.)

I am immensely grateful to the Archibibliopola of Oxford, the erudite Mr Christopher Zealley, MA., for sending me Legg's monograph on Cardinal Tommasi, from which I have plagiarised much of the first part of the above. Learned strangers visiting Oxford may need to be told that "St Philip's Books Ltd." is down St Aldates, more or less opposite the entrance to the Meadow. It is full of Catholic things and all fine literature, and has a rather good plaster ?Stuart ceiling.

28 April 2021

S Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort

Chaps who possess a copy of the 1962 Missal inform me that it contains de Montfort in its Appendix pro aliquibus locis; and the SSPX ORDO (the Francophone one) lists him for April 28 "en certes lieux". Chaps who use the Novus Ordo tell me that he has now entered (optionally) the Novus Ordo  Calendar! We aged chaps do try to keep-up-to-date, and depend so much upon you Bright Young Things to keep us informed. In return I can tell you that he is in the Ordinariate Calendar. How could he not be?

I have long had a high regard for this Breton priest; hence he is gummed into my (1955) Altar Missal, available always when the rubrics allow a Votive. This regard was shared by S John Paul II, who took his motto, totus tuus, from the Saint's writings. 

I first met S Louis Marie in the 1950s when I was a little boy, in the Catholic Church in Clacton-on-Sea, where, most suitably, a fine statue, very movimento as the Saint strides forward, stands right beside the culturally very Breton shrine of our Lady of Light. There's not much else that's Breton about Clacton! I wonder if the Confraternity of our Lady of Light still survives in that parish; if the Rosary is still said daily at that Shrine. (Regular readers will recall my series on the history of this superb devotion, involving the eccentic Cornish convert baronet the Reverend Sir Harry Trelawny, which I published in January 2020. Stuff you just couldn't make up! I beg readers who are new to this blog to go back to it.)

De Montfort comes from a Baroque devotional milieu which has been an object of criticism. Particularly out of favour has been the wholehearted style of his devotion to our Lady, which involves a consecration of servitus [slavery] to Mary. In fact, it wasn't too popular in his own time: there were unwholesome people around called "Jansenists" who sniffed at such things. 

Promise me that you will run a mile if you ever meet one.

Grounds for snooty disdain are obvious: granted that the word doulos [slave] occurs frequently in Scripture, surely, so the condescending will remark, it is Jesus whose doulos, slave, S Paul so often proclaims himself to be. So is the douleia of Mary just another example of popery putting the Mother of God into the place reserved for her divine Son?

But no reader will have forgotten the biblical verb hypotassesthai: to submit oneself, to order, to arrange, to subject oneself hypo, beneath, another, be that 'other' a master, a spouse, a ruler, or whatever. New Testament religion is a million miles from the individualistic Protestantism which knows only a relationship between the one and the One. S Paul in fact calls upon us to submit ourselves in this way one to another: not just to Jesus (although all must be en Christoi). And since Mary alone is unflawed by Original Sin, she is the one to whom a Christian can be hypotassesthai without that relationship being flawed (as all other hypotaxeis except that to her Divine Son can run the risk of being) by unchristlike traits in the other.

S Louis Marie is far from being the first Christian to have practised and promoted this Slavery of Mary. In his True Devotion to Mary he lists many predecessors in both East and West; to whom I would add my own favourite Bishop of Exeter, John de Grandisson. He concluded a life of servitus to Mary by having himself described on his lead coffin as Matris Misericordiae miserrimus servus. So clearly this devotion is authentic Anglican Patrimony! Since the terms kyrios(a) and doulos(e) are correlative, the terms domina and kuria [Lady], common in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity (not to mention the more archaic Greek despoina and the English phrase our Lady in the Book of Common Prayer), imply a Montfortian devotional attitude.

I think you should make the Montfortian consecration today.

27 April 2021

Essay Questions and Austro-Hungarian Bankers

C S Lewis describes Mark Studdock as "a glib examinee in subjects that require no exact knowledge" who "always does well in Essays and General Papers". 

As I have observed before, there must have been times when Lewis was a less than comfortable college tutor.

I will dangerously generalise: in writing 'general' essays, women are often businesslike, hate to waste time, and are incisive without being flashy. They get to the point. Substance means more to them than stylish woffle. We chaps, on the other hand, are adept at concealing our chronic idleness behind a facade of mannered, or even dilettante, glibness. Readers may feel that this is a temptation from which I have not yet entirely, er, struggled free.

Back in those sun-lit days of Harold Macmillan and General Papers, the Spoof Quotation figured large. It was followed by the peremptory instruction Discuss. You could tell that the quotations were mostly Spoof, because no amount of detergent can entirely wash away an aroma of donnishness. 

But I have recently spotted, in a Times obituary, a genuine quotation ... I'm sure of it ... which could give candidates, all sorts of them, scope galore to spread themselves in innumerable different ways. And how revealing their answers might be! Perhaps every girl to whom Marriage has been proposed should require of her suitor(s) a response to this question (write only on one side of the paper and use only alternate lines).

The subject of the obituary was a wealthy bachelor, of Jewish, Austro-Hungarian, background but whose forebears on becoming Catholics had sacrificed the euphonious name of 'Guttmann' for the bathos of 'de Gelsey'. He was extremely generous to the Brompton Oratory (indeed, one of the most deserving causes in all the Three Kingdoms). Like me, he enriched his own life with Caviare and White Lady cocktails. He led an agreeable social life ... surrounded, often, so reports have it, by glamorous women. He evidently enjoyed their company, and they his. 

Somebody once enquired of him (a disgustingly impertinent question but that's Third Millennium degeneracy for you) why he had never got married. Here is his (unspoof) reply:

"Why buy a book when you can go to the library?"

Orate pro anima Gulielmi de Gelsey, 1921-2021, qui obiit die 28 Februarii. C A P D.

26 April 2021

Hell Mell in Clubland (3)

Screwtape summoned a Club servant to fill his glass. He shifted in his chair, animated by the recollection of his own triumphs. "The master stroke was my brilliant idea for an entire Papacy in which "teaching" would be structured around ambiguity ... the beauty of this was that it introduced into the teaching of the Church just that primacy of imprecision, of self-contradiction, of deliberately cultivated vagueness, of programmed disintegration and fissiparous confusion, which is the essence of our own rules and traditions down here in the Pandaemonium Club. It also has the strategic advantage of making it very hard for mortals to pinpoint explicit error in a text which eschews the heresy of explicitness." He waited as the glass was filled, and raised it to his nose. The dogmatisms, perhaps, of Savonarola and of Bertrand Russell excitingly blended? With deeper hints of Martin Luther and Bishop Baetzing?

"At the next War Cabinet meeting Sodgrope, iniquitous careerist, claimed as his own a brilliant cultural transformation which was in fact a construct of mine ... I cannot wait to welcome, to embrace him ... to draw him in ... to make make him one with myself ... ouroborinda ... ... ... You see, in the bad old days, Roman Pontiffs passed on to their successors what they had themselves received. This rendered most difficult all our hopes for reconstructing their religion upon lines which reflect the luminous realism of Hell. The human means by which such continuity was achieved included often the successive elections of men who had been closely associated with a previous Pope. This used to be done by, for example, the election of senior deacons in those days when the deacons were the pope's first ministers. Or by the election of a Ratzinger after a Wojtila ... and what a tragedy that was ... the waste of nearly three decades when we could only achieve our ends by oblique means ... My new policy (and, whatever Sodgrope may claim, it was mine) helped the Cardinal Electors to understand the need for Fresh Blood and a Wind of Change and a Radically New Approach ... and for the election of a man from the most distant place on earth ..."

Wormwood interjected: "And a narcissist of limited intelligence"; Screwtape gave a weary sigh. Would this simpleton of a supposed tempter never grasp the objective realism of Hell? "Well, there may be those who consider him somewhat self-obsessed, but, my dear nephew, as I have grown tired of explaining to you, what the Infernal Actuaries demand of us is not abuse of the Enemy and his associates, however satisfying, but concrete results. Remind me to send you a leaflet about the new Correctional Training Techniques being developed for unsuccessful tempters ... it is most copiously illustrated ... What is truly to our purpose is that Bergoglio is certainly a man with a contempt for what he inherited and found in Rome, and that this gives us rich opportunities to contrive rupture ... opportunities which have already yielded results ... fine piece of work ... crucial consolidation of my own position in the current power structure ... decanter ... Sodgrope ... Daemoniorum laetitia ... Me ... ambiguities ... Snodgrove ... Ted McCarrick ... drink ... peripheries ... Kasper ... want ..."

The effort of his exposition had clearly been tiring work for the aging Spirit. Ignoring his nephew, Screwtape drained the decanter into his glass, grasped it with crackling  knuckles, and buried his nose in the fumes. What was this? H G Wells matured in barrels impregnated with Lloyd George? Or Simone de Beauvoir with an aftertaste of Major Hardcastle? John Wither blended with ... with ... After a minute or two, the glass slipped from his fingers, unloading its ambiguous contents over the dreaming tempter.

On tiptoe, still fearing the wrath of the mendacious old bore, Wormwood crept away.

25 April 2021

The Pandaemonium Club (2)

"You must understand the brilliance of our strategy with Bergoglio. When he was elected, there was a real danger that he might do a great deal of what the Enemy calls 'good'". Screwtape's fine old eyes moved meditatively along the bound leather volumes of The Wisdom of Aleister Crowley in the Club Library. " He had a Latin American background; the risk was that he would develop the concepts of Liberation Theology and devote his Pontificate to the poor: both to the state of those economically poor and to those our Enemy calls the Anawim; the righteous Poor whose poverty results from their adherence to the Enemy's Law. The very moment after Bergoglio was elected Pope, his friend Cardinal Hummes ..."

Wormwood has gone so far as to open his mouth in order to share a tired witticism about Cardinals Hummous, Tzatziki, and Taramasalata. He saw the red gleam of hungry malevolence in his uncle's eye, and shut his mouth again.

" ... said to him 'Do not forget the poor.' That was the moment at which our Father Below summoned his War Cabinet to crisis session. You see, Gerhardt Mueller is, most unfortunately, an expert on Liberation Theology ... Bergoglio and Mueller in collaboration might have done immense damage to our cause ... Bergoglio providing the the enthusiasm, the boldness, and Mueller the theological control ... some, indeed, quite deep among the Lowerarchy showed signs of panic.

"But Our Father Below simply and calmly asked each Cabinet Member in turn how we might avert this threatened catastrophe. Happily, I suggested that we should work on Bergoglio's liking for empty ritual. And it worked! Bergoglio was childishly keen on making a great parade of Favouring the Poor while actually taking no action whatsoever on their behalf. It suited him to a ... whatsoever ...

"I also suggested backing this policy up by contriving a personal breach between the two of them. Here again, Bergoglio's love for ritual without content provided us with a winner. The tactic I adumbrated involved letting him prose on endlessly about dealing with paedophile priests ... in the land of Airliner Rhetoric, while actually protecting them ... in the real world. So we lured Bergoglio into sacking some of the experts on paedophilia who were working under Mueller. And, again, my plan worked to our Father's great satisfaction. Two ends were served: quite a number of very fine paedophiles were preserved, unmolested, in the full-time, full-hearted, ministerial service of Our Father Below. And Mueller himself was personally affronted by the radical realism (or 'manifest injustice', as humans call it) of Bergoglio's actions. 

"Just to make matters the more sure, we contrived that the the breach was sealed by another dramatic public humiliation of Mueller by Bergoglio. He demanded that Mueller be summoned to trot from the altar to the telephone while he was actually celebrating Mass in order to be instructed ... with peremptory discourtesy ... to drop a particular canonical investigation ... "

A long pause followed. Wormwood, whose curiosity had been fostered, eventually broke the silence by enquiring what that investigation had involved. Screwtape glared at him, but could not resist the temptation to boast. about his own master-stroke. "It involved one particular Anglo-Saxon Cardinal ... indeed, a leading member of the group of Cardinals which, under close infernal control, had organised Bergoglio's election to the Roman See. Mueller had to drop that Investigation ... naturally, this rankled.

"With Mueller out of the way, we put into place the brilliant strategy whereby Bergoglio's sympathies were transferred to the monied classes of libertine North European and North American societies, instead of dangerously engaging with the Righteous Poor, faithful servants of the Enemy. Absolutely any disaster could have occurred if we had allowed him to continue fantasising about the really poor.

"Bergoglio's imaginative identification was secured to those who had formally and decisively rejected the Enemy's call to sexual continence by remarrying after divorce. He never even noticed the substitution! In addition, Gropepope, Bergoglio's own personal tempter, put in some good work by reminding him of the immense and tempting wealth of the German Church. We soon had the poor old peronist safely in our bag."

To continue.

24 April 2021

Clubland in Pell Mell (1)

Mr Under-Secretary Screwtape felt confused. He savoured the liqueur in his glass ... was it Annibale Bugnini blended with Jimmy Saville? Or Augustin Bea with fine aftertastes of Freddy Ayer? The concoction was, in either case, superb; but he had an uneasy feeling that the failure of his palate to make those really precise distinctions ... a malady he felt all too often nowadays ... might be the first sign of that disintegration, that dissolution, which he had always known he would ultimately experience. But so soon? After so few millennia? When he felt still at the height of his powers?

He was woken from his reveries by the grating voice of his most detested nephew, Wormwood. "Uncle! Wake up! Uncle! Isn't it marvellous news? Uncle!! Wake up!".

It had been a great mistake to allow this callow junior tempter to be elected to Club membership; he should have been whiteballed. Too late, however to complain about that now. Screwtape opened one eye. "And what, precisely, is this news?"

"Germany!! yelped the whippersnapper. "It looks as though the German Church is going to split from the other churches so as to advocate Adultery, more Sodomy, more and better dodgy financial dealings! It's all actually happening!" 

Again, the old gentledevil winced. Such obvious, such adolescent light-headedness. No style. No finesse. A put-down had become necessary. "If you stop shouting silly jargon and jolting my arm and spilling my drink and demonstrating your total incapacity for strategic forward thinking, I will tell you precisely how the trick was worked. And I strongly advise you to avoid a tendency to anthropomorphic analyses ... you have been in trouble about that before ... Our Father Below regards the adoption of human pseudo-rationalism as a sign that a Tempter is going native ... we must always remember to put and to maintain a proper distance between ourselves and our patients."

To continue.

23 April 2021

Doubly crowned?

April 23 (1661) was the date of the Coronation of King Charles II; the return of Merry England marked by a Coronation on the Feast of S George, Patron of the Realm. After His Majesty's death, his brother James fixed his Coronation (1685) for the same date (and I am sure that a political point was being made when 'Queen Anne' did the same).

But the Coronation of King James VII & II offered a complication. The form of the English Coronation Service, laid out in a venerable liturgical book called the Liber Regalis, kept at Westminster Abbey, retained the old Catholic structure of a Coronation inserted into a non-communicating Pontifical High Mass. (Apart from the Celebrant, he only Communicant was the Sovereign, and, if he had one, his Consort.) The celebrant was, normally, the Archbishop of Canterbury; deacon ('Gospeller') and subdeacon ('Epistoler') were senior diocesan bishops.

All well and good. But since the Schism which Bloody Bess perpetrated (incidentally, after her Coronation by Catholic rites and lawful Catholic bishops), the Eucharistic Rite had been the new Anglican one. James VI & I; Charles I; Charles II had all thus been crowned. And the Celebrant, who also performed the Anointing and the Crowning. was a prelate not in communion with the See of Rome.

And, in 1685, the new King was a Catholic. 

They tried to persuade him that, since the Eucharist was an integral part of the ceremony, he should receive Holy Communion according to the Anglican Use. But he resisted; and, on April 23, for the only time in history, a King of England was crowned according to a rite which excluded the Eucharist.

You may or may not have have found all that interesting. But here comes the really intriguing bit.

There have been persistent rumours that King James had himself crowned privately according to Catholic rites, before his 'Anglican' Coronation.

Where? No problem there. Despite the Schism, most Queens Consort had been Catholics, and, just to the North of S James's Park, there is the Chapel Royal of the Queen (built by Inigo Jones). So there was a Royal Catholic Chapel fully equipped with clergy and other necessary persons and appurtenances.

By whom? This is the dodgy bit. At that time there was no Catholic Bishop in England.

Andrew Barclay's doctoral thesis on King James' Household alludes to notes by a Benedictine called Ralph Benet Weldon. He claimed that the King, and Queen Mary of Modena, were anointed and crowned in private by a Capuchin priest called Mansuet, using oil sent from Rheims by Louis XIV (British Library Additional Manuscript 10118, folio 93). 

A lovely idea. But it worries me. Kings should be crowned by Bishops, both in the traditions of the English Monarchy and according to the Post-Reformation Pontificale Romanum.

I find it hard to believe that a mere presbyter took it upon himself to do a full Coronation Service, according to either of those two rites.

Might he have simply anointed King James, on the grounds that the anointing in Westminster Abbey was going to be invalid? 

Or, possibly, the information is a garbled version of information to the effect that King James received Holy Communin from Fr Mansuet (of course, reception of Holy Communion by layfolk was not very common among Catholics at that time and might therefore have been noticed). 

It would be interesting to know if there is any other evidence which does not come ultimately from the Weldon-source. 


22 April 2021


I may need some eye treatment. This may mean that I might not read comments, let alone enable them. I cannot say when the status quo ante might return. I would be very grateful for prayers.

I have set up some posts which should, Deo volente, pop up automatically every day without my further agency.

I thought I had answered the Benedicentist position in my recent piece about how to behave when one is offerred two alternative popes. Or three. Or even four. Or, indeed, as many as Providence sends you.

If people want to practise DIY popemaking, let them take into Westminster Cathedral a reliable checklist of popes and antipopes. And a pencil. And lots of paper. Work through the lists on the left-hand wall. Pay special attention to amusing little details like which archbishops apparently received a pallium from which papal claimant, and whether that claimant was, er, indeed alive at the relevant time. And which papal claimant inherits his claim from which predecessor and why not. 

Hours of fun! Try not to get infuriated. If you do get infuriated, avoid (1) shouting; (2) attempting to correct the lists with your chisel.

In fact, probably best not to take the chisel after all.

Amusing additional questions: Why is the mighty Cardinal Allen not on the list? Who sez that the Vicars Apostolic of the London District were chief pastors of the Catholic Church in England?

Not I.

Post Scriptum: Why is Mr Biden wearing a British Brigade of Guards tie today? Was he a MI5 agent during the Troubles?

An Answer to ********, *******, ****, and *********.

Dear ****************************************

I was deeply moved by the tone and content of the comments you offered me. I did not feel able to publish them, but I offer you, in return, the following.

During the Great Schism of the Western Church, there were, at one time, as many as three competing 'popes'! (Even nowadays, there has been no watertight magisterial defintion about which of those ancient claimants were authentic, and which were "antipopes". The big bronze list of popes in Westminster Cathedral contradicts itself and is a pompous nonsense mainly designed to humiliate Anglicans.) Which 'pope' you were in communion with depended on your monarch. In effect, he chose, within the context of international politics. For example, an Englishman would be in communion with the 'Urbanist' 'pope' in Rome; a Scotsman would be in communion with the 'Clementine' 'pope' in Avignon. (When you walked across the border ... ...!)

There were no doctrinal differences between these different competing lines of 'popes'; but it remains true that, if your king did choose the wrong one, he would be dragging you into schism together with himself because he would be dragging you into communion with a spurious anti-pope. The fact that everybody thought they were doing the right thing does not change the fact that you would find yourself not in communion with the true pope if your king had got things wrong. Only God, of course, would know who was right! No wonder the Devil laughed!

So now ...

If you act in communion with "Pope Francis" because your bishop, and the other bishops of your land, accept him as pope and you are in communion with them, then I cannot believe that you are in some way separated from God our loving Father. He accepts you, whatever nonsenses your bishops get up to. That will have to be on their consciences. Medieval Christians were convinced that lots and lots both of bishops and of popes (and kings) went to Hell!! Whether these inferences were based upon sound data, God has not revealed to me.

Even if it transpires subsequently that your bishop has got things wrong, and  PF is not really pope, I do not think that your allegiance to him will be regarded by God as having been grounds for sending you to Hell. In fact, people who were on both opposing sides during the Great Schism were subsequently canonised.

So ... in practical terms ... find out whether your own bishop names PF in the Te igitur and ... bob's your uncle! ... if he does so, it will be safe for you to regard him as pope too. Let His Lordship take the rap! He has broad shoulders! It will do him good!

Even if it turns out that you are right in your suspicions that PF may not be pope!

21 April 2021

THE YEAR OF S JOESPH! S Joseph should have his proper, pre-Pius XII, respect.

(1) S Joseph's Feast on March 19 got under way in the 15th century and gradually spread. It celebrated S Joseph, Spouse of the Theotokos.
(2) Then his Feast as Guardian of the Universal Church was added (universal in the Latin Church from 1847), fixed on the Second Sunday (EF) after Easter (='Third Sunday of Eastertide' in the OF).
(3) Then, when S Pius X liberated Sundays from feasts which perpetually occurred upon them, this feast moved from the Sunday to the subsequent Wednesday. But for some decades clergy were allowed to celebrate External Solemnities of S Joseph on the Sunday, in places where their people had become attached to the custom.
(4) During the Cold War, Pius XII had the clever-clever idea (1955; in the decade when his minions had already set to work to vandalise the Easter Vigil) of making the Workers' Day, May 1, the Feast of S Joseph the Worker as a witness against Marxism. Ss Philip and James, who hasd been the ancient (570) celebration on May 1, were ... er ... kicked unceremoniously into the long grass.
(5) For a variety of reasons, S Joseph the Worker (happily!) never caught on and is now, in the OF, merely an optional memoria. (In the official EF it is still, sadly, in situ as a top-class festival on May 1, though I find it hard to imagine that traddidom really wants it.)

(6) But S Joseph the Guardian (see 2) had been abolished in order to make space for this new substantial Josephine celebration within Eastertide (see 4). His title of Guardian of the Universal Church had been amalgamated with his March 19 festival.
(7) But the old Mass texts of S Joseph the Guardian survived and survive still as the Votive of S Joseph in the Weekday Votives of the pre-Conciliar Missal.
(8) S Joseph's Guardianship of the Universal Church is, in this pontificate, a theme just begging for revival.
(9) Episcopal Conferences (did you know this?) have the faculty (in the OF) of moving S Joseph out of Lent.

Although some traddies get nervous about ideas like the following, I believe that a judicious, careful, gentle realignment of the EF and the OF is a good idea, as long as it is not made a cheap excuse for rubbishing the EF. The relegation of S Joseph the Workman to being merely an Optional Memorial in the OF sets a general example which the EF should follow, restoring S Joseph the Patron to his S Pius X date as described in (3) supra. 

Indeed, where a date in the OF coincides with a date in the Missal of S Pius V, or in a pre-Pacelli edition of the Roman Missal, I think that, prima facie, the earlier date witnessed by both the Missal of S Pius V and the OF should be preferred. (Have a look, for example, at S Irenaeus, where the OF restores him to the date he had before Pius XII+Bugnini.)

I think the relevant department in the CDF should relegate S Joseph the Workman to Pro aliquibus locis (and among the Votives) and restore SS Pip and Jim to May 1. If they made clear that they were doing this as a mark of respect for the Anglican Communion, how could critics possibly complain?!

Quite apart from anything else, it would be nice again to see the churches and the Sacred Ministers garbed in deepest red on May Day ... for the martyred Apostles, of course, rather than for Karl Marx. And in some places ... such as Oxford ... May Day still has a historic memory.


(1) I do not enable comments which suggest that Jorge Bergoglio is not pope. Having examined, over and over again, historical analogies and reliable  authors, I have no doubt that the correct analysis is that this disordered and uncharitable individual is pope. I know no evidence of it being suggested, in the past, that any pope had "lost" his office through heresy or any other crime. Tradition makes it clear that subsequent magisterial anathematisation is the correct procedure.

Being a Traditionalist means taking Tradition seriously, not making it up as one goes along to suit one's own fads and passions.

S John Henry Newman spoke of unworthy shepherds having voluntarily placed their authority in SUSPENSE. Precisely. That fits the facts, the precedents, and the realities of the situation. And, given the status of JHN, makes it difficult for anybody to be taken to task for employing this analysis.

And it also means ... since none of us is infallible ... that, if I am wrong, when I go to my account I shall not have to face charges of having seduced Christ's people from Communion with the Successor of S Peter. But, believe me, I am not wrong!

(2) Because bloggers do, apparently, bear some responsibility for what occurs on their threads, I do not, I very much regret, enable comments in languages of which I have not an adequate knowledge. Sorry!

God save New Zealand!! And the Pays Basque! And Kurdistan!

God bless and keep you all in the 'One Fold of the Redeemer'.

20 April 2021

Flower power: our Holy Father and his Aspidistra

I wrote not long ago about the CDF prohibition of the 'blessing' of 'gay marriages'; I pointed out that PF, instead of "approving it and ordering its publication", was simply informed of it and permitted its publication. I can't help feeling that the way is being left open for Cardinal Ladaria ... when the time is right ... to be hung out to dry. Or "thrown under a 'bus"? Which phrase would be preferable?

But this timorous approach of PF is not matched by that of the Patriarchate of Moskow. Metropolitan Hilarion, of this University, 'Foreign Minister of the Russian Church', made clear that the Third Rome backs the prohibition. He even went so far as to explain the prohibition rather more neatly than Rome has done, emphasising the difference between blessing someone who comes for a blessing; and blessing a sinful relationship. 

As PF continues nervously to maintain the SUSPENSE of his Petrine Ministry, perhaps we should be thankful that the "true but wounded Sister Churches" [confer Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus] of the Moskow Patriarchate are prepared to open their mouths.

Strange, though, isn't it? PF is the Successor of S Peter, yet he prefers to be mute. He is the current occupant of the See made, if possible, yet more glorious by S Leo and S Gregory; by Papa Hildebrand (he knew how to deal with Germans!!) and Papa Lambertini and Papa Pecci. But this present ritual-mad pontiff prefers to wallow in his beloved but empty outward gestures ... meeting Orientals ... hugging them ... rather than to join them in robust affirmation of what we and they hold in common as we confront together the Spirit of the Age.

PF feels happiest ... safest ... hiding behind his Aspidistra. God bless it.

19 April 2021


A valued reader, who has made this point before, disapproves of my choice occasionally ... quite rarely ... to write in Latin without providing him with a a crib.

(1) Frankly, this is my blog, and I will write in any language I know and choose. This is still a free country ... er ... up to a point ...

There are things one can more easily say in one language than one could in another. There are devices that sit easily in the rhetoric of language A which will look gawky or de trop or even, possibly, dangerous, in language B. Perhaps the use of rhetorical questions is one example. Traduttore traditore? as the Latin poet put it.

Dr William King, of this University, made a magnificent oration in Latin  in 1748, at the Dedication of the Radcliffe Library. He forbade his fellow-docti to translate it. Had one of them done so, and had he made a poor judgement in regard to a single nuance, King could have ended up with a rope around his neck. Those were years when the cultured and cultivated Whig Oligarchy was still killing people in public with gruesome cruelty, and perpetrating genocide in parts of Scotland. Come to think of it, England, then, was rather like present-day Burma ... treasonous crooks, not financially unmotivated, had illegally seized power, and imposed a tyranny, and were still murdering whom they chose in order to sustain it. Within quite recent memory, undergraduates had been hanged at the entrances to Oxford.

(2) I am ideologically suspicious of the 'Crib' culture. Try engaging ... exempli gratia ... with any pre-modern work via your computer or your local bookshop, and you will find that 'Homer' means 'a translation of Homer'. It is a laboured business to get to an actual copy of Homer, probably involving explanations such as "I mean, what I want is the original Greek text of Homer ... er well ... not necessarily of course, um, the original, because, as we all know, the textual tradition seems to get more unstable the earlier the papyri, and the great Alexandian scholars did not always make clear exactly why they athetised certain lines, and the concept of an 'original text is indeed discounted by many modern practicioners of textcrit, but, er, ... ..."

The person who wants the Latin original of a Magisterial Document will probably find his search long and wearisome.

Declining to submit to the 'crib' culture seems to me one way of sticking up for authenticity and for cultural continuity.

So ... No; I am not going to be pushed around and bullied into writing in languages I choose not to employ.

If this is objectionable to anybody, there are possible solutions available. But I do appreciate the implied compliment paid to me by my reader's plaint, so I will refrain from jokes and arcasms. I do very much value him as a reader.

Translations are  not Pretty Much the Same Thing. I admit: they may be not without uses. When I was about twelve, I came to love what I thought was Homer through Dr Rieu's Penguin translations. (But when I came to man's estate, I realised that what I had been missing was ... er, Homer.) And when, around Christmas, I read to our infant children at bed-time about Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight, I will confess that I did read it in a translation. And Harvard University publishes handy texts, conveniently using Green covers for the Greek, red for the Latin, and blue for the Renaissance Latin, with the original on the left hand page and a crib on the right. Like the Rosetta Stone but not so heavy as you drag them through Security.

Mind you, there are times when, to paraphrase Mgr Ronald Knox*, the left hand page seems a useful crib for understanding the right hand page.

So, in conclusion, I leave all my kind and valued readers with these immortal words of C S Lewis (The Pilgrim's Regress lib 5 cap 5 iuxta finem): 

"pellite cras ingens tum-tum nomoi hos diakeitai."

* I believe Knox once described the Greek NT as a useful crib for understanding the Douai-Rheims Bible.