30 May 2021

Ordination Season

Trinity Sunday, according to the tradition of the Latin Church, used to be the main day for Ordinations in the West: prepared for by the Pentecost Ember Week. Or, to be pedantic, ordinations happened at the Mass of the Ember Saturday, when the various orders were conferred after each of the lections.

Before both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion fiddled with their respective rites, the same words appeared in both the Roman Pontifical and the Prayer Book Ordinal as the Bishop laid hands upon the ordinandi: the Lord's own paschal and pentecostal words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum to his disciples, pointing to the Gift of the Spirit in a New Creation of a New Man, transcending even that of Genesis 2:7. Fittingly; because the priesthood we are given to share is at the heart of the Paschal Mystery. And the First Reading at Mattins, in both ecclesial traditions, used to be that unforgettable passage from Isaias (6) about the Divine Glory: Et audivi vocem Domini dicentis: Quem mittam? Et dixi: Ecce ego. Mitte me. "And I said: here am I; send me". Gratias tibi, Deus, gratias tibi, vera et una Trinitas, una et summa Deitas, sancta et una Unitas.

Sacrosanctum Concilium (23) decreed that "innovations should not happen unless a true and certain usefulness for the Church demands it". I still wonder why the Liturgia Horarum rejected that chapter from Isaias about the Glory of God in the Temple of God ... I wonder what true and certain usefulness it was that (so the Experts decided) demanded its elimination. Strangely, the Church of England revisers have remained unaware of the doubtless profound reasons which compelled the post-Conciliar 'Catholic' "reformers" to make this unhappy deletion: Isaiah 6 retains its place in Anglican lectionaries, and in the Ordinariate lectionary for Trinity Sunday. 

What a wonderful feast, how full of joy, today's solemnity is. I find it difficult to to feel sympatheia with PF when he grudgingly utters sour words about "the rigidity of abstract doctrine", as if dogma, which by definition must imply an abstractio from particularity and materiality, lacks the ability to thrill and to enchant and to be entered into and to be lived and to be shared with others. Poor chap ... what an impoverished life he must lead. Perhaps that's why he always looks so miserable (oops: the other day I saw on the Internet a picture of him laughing ... it was dated 2014 ... so perhaps I ought to have written 'often' rather than 'always').

A particular pleasure is praying in the Divine Office that great paean of praise, the Quicumque vult. Our Patron Saint John Henry Newman had described it as "The most simple and sublime, the most devotional formulary, to which Christianity has given birth". I wonder what he would have said could he have known that, in a century, the Latin Church to all intents and purposes would have eliminated it from her worship!

Its loss among both priests and people in the Catholic Church is probably one of the reasons for the doctrinal collapses in the Latin Church. The poor robbed clergy are no longer shaped by its pin-point orthodoxy as well as its beautiful cadences. A shame, too, that in the OF the profoundly beautiful Preface of the Most Holy Trinity is no longer heard Sunday by Sunday during the 'green' season. It is no wonder that, deep down and instinctively, so few people now really believe in the Holy Trinity. You hear both homilists and laity talking about "God and Jesus". I sometimes have a naughty feeling that only Byzantine Christians really believe in the Trinity. But, to give credit where credit is due, I've read several things by Vincent Nichols teaching the Godhead of the Son with great clarity.

On June 9 1968, which is when Trinity Sunday fell that year, Harry Carpenter laid his hands on me, on exactly the same spot as a previous Bishop of Oxford did the same thing on a Trinity Sunday to Saint John Henry Newman ... just a few yards from the bones of Oxford's Saxon Patron S Frideswide and those of Dr Pusey and the tomb of the last Abbot of Oseney, first Bishop of Oxford and the only one to have been in full communion with the See of S Peter.

My warmest good wishes to all brother priests who were ordained on a Trinity Sunday.

29 May 2021

"All this West part of the world is apostate"

Merlinus Ambrosius was struck to silence when Ransom told him that there was no Emperor to be called upon for help, even in Mankind's uttermost peril. Ransom explained:

"The poison was brewed in these West lands but it has spat itself everywhere by now. However far you went you would find the machines, the crowded cities, the empty thrones, the false writings, the barren beds: men maddened with false promises and soured with true miseries, worshipping the iron works of their own hands, cut off from the Earth their mother and from the Father in heaven. You might go East so far that East became West and you returned to Britain across the great Ocean, but even so you would not have come out anywhere into the light. The shadow of one dark wing is over all Tellus.".

I wonder if, in 1945, there were those who thought that Lewis had overstated his case. We know now how vastly he understated it. But he was a true prophet of the generations that were to follow, and not least in his description of "the Spirit of the Age ... like one of the stone giants, the size of a mountain, with its eyes shut ... They saw some of the guard coming towards them leading a great black stallion, and in it was seated a figure ... a woman in the flower of her age: she was so tall that she seemed to him like a Titaness, a sun-bright virgin clad in complete steel, with a sword naked in her hand. The giant bent forward in his chair and looked at her.

"'Who are you?' he said.

"'My name is Reason,' said the virgin.

"'Make out her passport quickly,' said the giant in a low voice. 'And let her go through our dominions and be off with all the speed she wishes.'

"'Not yet,' said Reason ... and set spurs in her stallion and it leaped up on to the giant's mossy knees and galloped up his foreleg, till she plunged her sword into his heart. Then there was a noise and a crumbling like a landslide and the huge carcass settled down: and the Spirit of the Age became what he had seemed to be at first, a sprawling hummock of rock."

I ask not whether the Woke know that they are part of the Zeitgeist ... simply whether they even know that there is such a thing as a Zeitgeist.



28 May 2021

And now ...

... the passion for giving singular subjects plural verbs.

I just heard the Beeb's Diplomatic Correspondent say "One of those are ...". 

One does, of course, get irrational attractions in Ancient Greek. But (to return to I's last posting), I don't think this latest nastiness in we's vernacular is a symptom of they spending too many hours studying Abbot and Mansfield.

By the wee: I do not sense any awkwardness in genuinely regional usages. I love the sound of Scouse and of Jameecan. But regional vowels can sound arresting. Scotland's First Minister pronounces the vowel in 'main' as if it were the vowel in 'mean'. So, to I's Essex Ear, she seems to be be seeing things like "We are peeing off ..." and "We need to find the wee  ...".

I expect a real Professor Higgins would be able to detect from this exactly where she's origin is.

I's patria is Colchester in Essex, the Colonia Claudia Victricensis. Could you's linguistic instincts have detected that?

.... and again ... and again ...

Here is something I read quite recently, sent out from the Head of House of an Oxford college .... indeed, what makes it even worse, my own college:

"[X] was married in the Chapel just before Christmas. I know everyone will join me in wishing he and Ann the very best.".

That the Head of an Oxford college should be unable to write simple, grammatical English, leaves me speechless. (Before you ask: the man is a historian.)

And, even more recently, I was informed that ... just for a week ... I could access the Catholic Herald  without a paywall. So I dipped in. 

I shan't dip into that wretched periodical again, not within this millennium, whether it's free or unfree. In it, I found Antonia Fraser writing:

"The cinema was another Oxford pleasure throughout the year -- slightly more complicated by my brother Thomas and I wanting to watch films which needed an adult to accompany a child.".

Fraser has written books; she came from a literate and literary family ... her father would have been ashamed of her ... and, indeed, she had a lengthy extra-marital affair with a notable playwright. His name was Pinter, and I bet he wouldn't have written English with such miserable illiteracy (but then, he had the advantage of being Jewish).

I suppose the once great but now failing Catholic Herald is so strapped for cash nowadays that they can't afford to employ subeditors.

Yes, I know that in 'language' matters, usage is overriding. I remember, at school, the French Master ending any argument by saying "Seventy million Frenchmen disagree". However much I may squirm and whinge, I can't get round this simple fact. It applies and always has applied to every known human language.

Mind you, I think this usage is very unfair to foreigners trying to learn a language which is already as difficult as English is. Hence, it is xenophobic or even racist. In my view, those ideologues who are trying to ram this irrational construction down our throats are pretty well guilty of Hate Speech (and should be locked up). As they win their philological victory, poor Johnny Foreigner will be faced by an ultrapedantic grammatical rule which will have to go something like this:

When a pronoun is linked by a conjunction with a noun (or another pronoun), that pronoun must always be placed in the nominative case, without any regard to the syntax of the sentence or clause. 

Or can you think of a snappier way of saying it? So the poor students will have to memorise such useless and pompous twaddle and try to remember to obey it. Latin and Greek grammar, as traditionally taught to tiny boys in English Prep Schools, tends to be thought of nowadays as having been obscurantist, but I don't think it knew any complexities as arcane and ridiculous, as purely useless, as contra-utilitarian, as this.

It's not new. Back in the Seventies, I heard a collegue ... a Wykehamist!! ... referring to "Paul and I's study". And I remember another colleague having a mighty argument with a girl student who, poor child, had been indoctrinated by her parents (I infer that they must have been of the Aspirant Peasant Classes like Trollope's Mrs Lookaloft) to believe that saying "I" when the grammar requires "me" was the very height of conversational gentility.

I always, if I spot it, delete from my blog all comments which include this disgusting usage.

After all, this is my blog.

27 May 2021

Cardinal Mueller


 There is a fine piece by his Eminence in First Things

It makes me feel a little bit like a schoolboy learning a new language who turns to the key at the back of the book and discovers that he has got an exercise right ...

... because on Tuesday of last week, I suggested that current events in Germany recalled nothing so much as the German Christianity of the 1930s. Mueller explains this point.

It is, I hear you murmur, rather more powerful a point when it is made by an erudite German than it is when made by me!

And I keep suggesting that, following the analyses of S John Henry Newman, we might think of PF as having placed his Magisterium "in Suspense". Mueller devotes his final three paragraphs to saying what it is the duty of the Roman Pontiff to do ... rather as Bishop Philip Egan listed, a couple of weeks ago, which of his duties PF appears to be failing to perform.

Newman's terminology seems to me to get more and more compelling as the only viable orthodox narrative for understanding this pontificate. I suggest that the exact moment when PF put his Magisterium into Suspense was when he decided to refuse to answer the Dubia of the Four Cardinals.


I can see no reason to get panicky. I imagine PF felt he had to say something to the Italian Bishops, who are not, as we say, One of Us.

My own impression is that the English Bishops, after initial hysterics on the part of poor Cormack, settled down to peaceful coexistence with the Traddy Community. I very much doubt if they will want to disturb comfortable practical arrangements which they have (in many places) set up in their dioceses themselves. In any case, crisis time is not here yet. Probably it never will be. Make yourselves a soothing cocktail. "White Lady" = 25% lemon juice, 25% Cointreau, 50% gin.

(3)  De Sublimitatibus usque ad Iocosiora ... Ecclesandbosco is distinctly jolly this week ... Ubi Eccles ibi Ecclesia ...



26 May 2021


Today is, of course, the Feast of S Philip Neri, and so of great consequence to clergy and laity throughout the world who love the old gentleman and have been influenced, as I have, by the marvellous charism of his Sons. They are so potent in spreading Catholicism within the Church!

But stay. What about the Octave of Pentecost? Should S Philip be made to tranfer from today to some time next week?

There is a real problem here which could have a solution, involving a development in Tradition.

Until Pius XII and his henchman Bugnini started galumphing around all over the Roman Rite, the days in the Octaves of Easter and of Pentecost were not uniform in status throughout the week. As in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, Monday and Tuesday had a very special status, and excluded any other feast or commemoration that tried to elbow its way in. But the same was not so true of the Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays within those Octaves. As your St Lawrence Press Ordo makes clear, those days were susceptible to the intrusion of mere commemorations (not of Festivals; the really important days had to be transferred out of the Octave so as to get a full liturgical expression).

I think both Tradition and Pastoral Utility urge a return to something a bit like the pre-Pius XII system.

So, where S Philip (or anybody else who is a Double of the First Class qua Patron) finds himself within the Octave, he might be allowed to intrude, and be observed on his proper Day..

When a Curate in the 1960s, I seemed often to be troubled by the determination of S George to pop up in the Octave of Easter. The Scouts, or some other organisation, seemed to want a service in Church. Ordinary Christians found it hard to understand why the Church seemed so anxious to prevent him from being observed on his proper day.

My Modest Proposition: Where a Patron, a First Class Festival, occurs on the Wednesday etc. of the Pentecost Octave, (s)he should be allowed in. This is not what the Pre-Pacelli rules prescribed, but ...

... we should not be entirely deaf to lay instincts!

No? ... I suppose you're right ...

25 May 2021

Letter to an ORDINANDUS

Dear soon-to-be Father 

As we approach the traditional date of the Trinity-tide ordinations, when I myself received the gifts of Diaconia and of Sacerdotium, I cannot help hoping soon to receive a First Blessing from you. In spirit, I kneel and kiss your anointed hands. In a spirit of immense humility, I offer you my congratulations, and beg the charity of your Reverence's prayers and Masses.

May I offer you just the humblest smidgeon of priestly experience?

A brother priest in the Ordinariate once found himself lending a hand in a 'diocesan' parish. Since they did not always have a handy priest around, on most weekday evenings there was a service of the Word followed by Holy Communion from the Tabernacle, all done by layfolk. Naturally (if naively) this priest did the decent thing and offered the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for them during the period he was there. The very touching gratitude of the entire parish community for this daily privilege ...

Gratitude be d****d! There was uproar! How outrageous that he should arrogantly impose 'his' Mass on them! He was depriving X, Y, and Z of their own particular ministries ... the charisms they had exercised for years! Clericalism!! Self-aggrandisement!!! The horrible man should have stayed in the Church of England!!!!

Dom Gregory Dix criticised the old Anglican 'Prayer Book Catholic' practice, particularly common in Cathedrals, whereby, after Cranmer's rather truncated 'Prayer of Consecration', the Agnus Dei was immediately sung. Dix's complaint was that this made it look as if the only purpose of Consecration was to confect the Eucharistic Presence*. This resulted in the people ... or the best learners among them ... cottoning on to the Real Presence of the Lord in His true Body and Blood ... but having very little awareness that the Eucharist is a ... no; not a but the ... sacrifice.

I wonder if we now have a very similar problem, lack of awareness of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in the Catholic Church. And, if we do, I blame it upon the last half century; upon the almost universal use, within a dumbed-down ritual ambience, of the pseudo-Hippolytan-dewfall-Botte-Bouyer "we-made-it-up-at-a-trattoria-in-the-Trastevere" "shall-we-order-another-bottle?" Eucharistic-Prayer.

Are most modern Catholics aware that at the altar they are present at the august sacrifice of Christ himself at Calvary and within eternity? Has anybody explained to them that at Mass heaven and earth are made one and our altar is united with the altar of the Lamb slain in sacrifice before all the ages? Do they understand that at the Consecration their church is filled with the adoring and wondering hosts of Angels and Archangels and the whole company of Christ's Church?

Happily, the Catholic Church now has yourself and a splendid young generation of seminarians and newly-ordained priests coming through the system. Men who understand what Christ's Priesthood is, because they understand what His Oblation is. 

And here is the advice which, very humbly, and diffidently, I presume to offer you.

Don't assume that when you've explained things once, you've done it. However well you put it! Layfolk don't assimilate things the first time they hear them. They even sometimes assume (if it's something they haven't heard before) that they can't really be hearing what you seem to be saying. (A typesetter once, in kindly good faith, seeing "Sacrifice of the Eucharist" in a piece I had drafted, took it be a typo for "Sacrament of the Eucharist" and 'corrected' it for me!) 

You just have to keep on dishing out the same truths ... of course, in different ways and in different words ... year after year. And even then, only a minority of them will get it. Honest. 

Your task, of building up again the ruined places, will still be barely started when your ministry comes to its end.

In Domino

John indignus sacerdos

*In fact, precisely this point had been made earlier, in 1933, in a book entitled This our sacrifice, written by my distinguished predecessor at S Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, Dr Trevor Jalland. I owe my possession of this elegant and erudite work to my friend and benefactor Professor William Tighe. A sign of degenerate times: it had been sold off by the library of Selwyn College, Cambridge.

24 May 2021

Monsignore Basil Loftus

Oh dear! A terrible day! Pope Francis, of all people, has let down Fr Basil Loftus, a former Catholic Times columnist, and let him down megabigway! 

Today, Whit Monday, is now, in the Novus Ordo, the feast of our Lady Mother of the Church. And this feast was recently instituted by the present pope. "Mother of the Church" is the very same title which S Paul VI proclaimed in what Father Loftus once called a "private document", but was really the Conciliar Allocution addressed to the Conciliar Fathers of Vatican II by the Roman Pontiff at the solemn end of their Third Session. And now even PF has joined in, has become complicit in, the perpetration of that "cheat"! 

But there is a solution at hand. Whit Monday, in the Extraordinary Form and in the Ordinariate Rite, is still Whit Monday and the status of that day excludes the Feast of our Lady Mother of the Church.

I hope the following doesn't sound negative or 'uninclusive' ... but I think it would require a special Vatican dispensation for Father Basil lawfully to use the Ordinariate Rite. Narrow and negative, I agree. Indeed, I think what the Church really needs is the availability of the Ordinariate Rite, Divine Worship, to all clergy whose English is just about good enough (idonei is the technical term we use)

Passing thought: What 'Anglican tradition' really favours is not so much English as the Vernacular. I wonder if our Dean for Scotland could provide a Scots Gaelic version of the Rite? And how about Welsh and Cornish? Latin, for the Colleges of Oxford, Cambridge, Winchester, and Eton?

I've just remembered: Old Norman French for the Channel Islands, part of the Diocese of Portsmouth.

Manx ...

Urdu ...

However, there is another and much easier answer. According to Summorum Pontificum of Good Pope Benedict XVI, nobody can prevent Fr Basil (I assume he is idoneus) from using the 1962 Extraordinary Form Latin Missal. This would enable him to avoid today's 'Cheat' Feast.

Welcome on board, Father! And sincere good wishes!

_________________________________________________________________________________ "Pope Paul VI cheated and referred to Mary as Mother of the Church during one of his private documents during the Council". Those are the precise words which Fr Loftus actually wrote, as published. For the facts of what the Holy Pontiff actually did and said when he solemnly proclaimed this title of the Mother of God, see Acta Synodalia III/8 909-918 et praesertim 916.

A Birthday!

Bob Dylan is eighty! 


Although, mind you, the charism of Being Eighty seems to me a trifle exaggerated ...

Of course (dear Bishop John Richards used to say 'of course' before sharing the most recondite and/or controversial pieces of information) according to the old Calendar of the Diocese of Menevia ... sounds so Mediterranean, doesn't it?  ... obviously, a See tucked away in some particularly backwoods part of Calabria ... May 24 is the Feast of our Lady Help of Christians, Double of the First Class with Octave.

This year, I suppose, it would have to be transferred out of the Octave of Pentecost? I had better ask Rubricarius ...


23 May 2021


I have just reread a 2010 Pentecost homily of the Holy Father emeritus; to be embarrassingly personal, it brought tears to my eyes to be reminded of the elegance, the clarity, the Biblical insight with which Benedict XVI spoke and wrote; rereading it was like drinking, after a hot and dry and dusty and sweaty and tiring day, a glass-full of limpidly pure and refreshingly cold water. Here is part of it, translated by Zenit. (In the literal sense of the words, this was uttered ex cathedra!)

[The highlighting in red is my doing. How uncannily this passage points to Bishop Baetzing and the Mandatory Synodal Way!]

"This is the effect of God's work: unity; thus unity is the sign of recognition, the 'business-card' of the Church in the course of her universal history. From the very beginning, from the Day of Pentecost, she speaks all languages. The universal Church precedes the particular Churches, and the latter must always conform to the former according to a criterion of unity and universality. The Church never remains a prisoner within political, racial and cultural confines; she cannot be confused with states nor with federations of states, because her unity is of a different type and aspires to transcend every human frontier.

"From this, dear brothers, there derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: When a person or a community limits itself to its own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign that it has distanced itself from the Holy Spirit. The path of Christians and of the particular Churches must always conform itself with the path of the One and Catholic Church, and harmonise with it. This does not mean that the unity created by the Holy Spirit is a kind of homogenisation. On the contrary, that is rather the model of Babel, that is, the imposition of a culture of unity that we would call 'technological'. The Bible, in fact, tells us that in Babel everyone spoke the same language. At Pentecost, however, the Apostles speak different languages in such a way that everyone understands the message in his own tongue. The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding. The Church is one and multiple by her nature, destined as she is to live among all nations, all peoples, and in the most diverse social contexts. She responds to her vocation to be the sign and instrument of unity of the human race only if she remains free from every state and every particular culture. Always and in every place the Church must truly be Catholic and universal, the house of all in which each one can find a place."

22 May 2021


A (dubious) anecdote told of Mgr R A Knox, M.A., Protonotary Apostolic:

"On one of the first occasions when as a Catholic he preached coram episcopo, the Bishop said: 'An interesting sermon, Father, but it was a pity you had to read it.' To which Ronald answered: 'I am bitterly conscious of my disability, my lord. Only the other day a friend remarked, "When I saw you go into the pulpit with a sheaf of papers I thought we were in for another of those dreadful Pastorals."'"

(From Waugh's biography of Knox.) 

21 May 2021


[Happily, in more and more places the old Roman Vigil Service of Pentecost is being restored. I published this piece in 2009. The Collect to which I referred, Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui paschale sacramentum ... , was in the 'Gregorian' Sacramentary.]

"Almighty everlasting God, who didst will that the Paschal Sacrament should be contained in the mystery of fifty days [paschale sacramentum ... voluisti contineri] ... ". This is an ancient Roman collect associated with the Pentecost Vigil at which Christian initiation took place, not least for those who should have been Done at Easter but somehow missed it. Bugnini moved it to the First Evensong of Pentecost, and also used it to support his notion that Pascha is one Great Day which lasts for fifty days. 

This idea was the basis of a whole series of liturgical alterations made by both Roman and Anglican liturgists in the post-Conciliar period, not least the describing of Sundays as "of", not "after", Easter; the ditching of the old collects for those Sundays and their replacement by a new set some of which were newly composed; and the abolition of the Pentecost Octave. I am increasingly unsure that this whole business is soundly based. [The Ordinariate Divine Worship Missal restored the Octave.]

Tentatively, I propose to those competent in such matters that the sense of that collect could be paraphrased as "God, you wanted Christian Initiation to be confined to the fifty days of Pentecost". Cognoscenti will remember that in many places those who, for reasons of emergency or whatever, were baptised at some time other than during those fifty days could be subject to life-long canonical incapacities.

20 May 2021

More on the Abortive Pastoral. HELP!!

You can help me! You do so, so often! But this particular appeal is mainly to Britons.

It will be interesting to know if in any dioceses of England, Wales, and Scotland the Abortive Pastoral is ordered to be read. I would be enormously grateful if you could let me know what happens in your experience.

I would also be interested if some local ordinaries sit on the fence by saying that the text 'may be used'' ... or words to that effect, rather than ordering it to be read in all churches.

If you do not wish me to enable your comment, but are simply (very graciously) sending me this information, please begin your comment with PRIVATE in capital letters. When I have read it, I will then delete it..

Out of interest, I have just reread the Encyclical letter Dominum et Vivificantem of Pope S John Paul II. I've got quite a collection of old CTS editions of Papal documents in translation, pre-Internet and dating from those golden days when I eagerly read such things with confidence that they would instruct and inform me.

The rereading impresses me. Why not reread it yourselves? The Encyclical is ... as you will expect ... a very great deal shorter than the documents which emerge from the present very generous papal regime. And it is pervaded by Holy Scripture and the Fathers in a way quite foreign to Bergoglianist documents. Forget the ultratraddies who denigrate JP2. He had his failings, but ...

Dunno if the CTS still stocks such things, or whether exelthen dogma para HQ to "pulp all the old rubbish", but I imagine that this Encyclical is in any case still available on the Internet. It is a significant Magisterial document for the Great Jubilee which inaugurated this Christian millennium. Hence its status, in the mind of the Holy Pontiff whose authority it bears, must be other than transient.

The main point I wish to make is that it contains none of the stuff we get in the Abortive PL. It is all about God and the Trinity and Holy Scripture ... as things sometimes were in those far-off times. There is a place (paragraph 64) where it could have nodded towards the 'ecological' preoccupations of PF and his associates, but it signally fails to do so. 

And this is the Dog which Failed to Bark in the Night.

What does all this mean? That a major pontifical instrument issued to the Universal Church for Pentecost 1986, is now, in the eyes of some of the present bishops, Old Mitre. It's not what the Boss in Rome wants. So we dump it. And, instead, we address our flocks with the latest fashionable babble of the World. Because he has bought into it.

Catholic teaching, apparently, does not nowadays 'develop'. Plain Rupture is the prescribed order of the day, as we dump the teaching of three or four decades ago ... and three or four centuries  ago. And the newly confected  dogmas of 2021 take its place.

As one Bergoglianist extremist (Scicluna) put it: "Whoever wishes to discover what Jesus wants from him, he must ask the pope, this pope. not the one who came before him, or the one who came before that. This present pope."

That things should come to such an explicit and unrebuked apostasy from Catholic Tradition!

Thirty or forty years from now, much the same thing will presumably take place. The logorrhoeic prolixities of PF will in their turn be discarded with contempt and ridicule. ("Did you say 'pope Francis'? Dear old 'Amazonian' Bergoglio?!? Ho Ho Ho! Pass the bottle!"). And justly and inevitably so: no pope has any more authority than any other pope (or any less). By his implicit denigration of the Magisterium of his predecessors, PF has sawn through the branch of the tree upon which he is (or was, just a moment ago) himself sitting.

And a further point. The teaching of S John Paul, in Dominum et Vivificantem, not only misses an opportunity to hint at Bergoglianism: it undercuts it and, in advance, very effectively contradicts it. For instance:.

Bergoglianism loves to avoid hard or 'offensive' language. Amoris laetitia declined to use the word 'Adultery' although an important purpose of that document was to facilitate and to detoxify the notion of Adultery. Currently, Bergoglianist ideologues are lecturing us on the need to rid the Catechism of terminology such as "disordered". A CDF declaration that the Church cannot "bless Sin", recently caused noisy outrage among those who are happiest when their outrage is noisiest. 

But the Polish Pope devoted much of his encyclical to talking about Sin. The Holy Spirit whom the Lord promises will convince, convict, the world of Sin. And "A result of an upright conscience is, first of all, to call good and evil by their proper names [JP2 italics]." The unforgivable "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" is "the radical refusal to be converted". And JP2 even dared to quote one of those very unBergoglian NT lists of sins which disqualify from the kingdom: "fornication, impurity, licentiousness ... [porneia; akatharsia; aselgeia ...]".

I do not think that a JP2 redivivus would be persona grata among the precious post-Catholic functionaries who tremble before PF's tantrums in the baroque and deferential Court at the Santa Marta.

And JP2 might even prove a rather awkward participant in the more genteel deliberations of the CBCEW. 

But he's dead.

So that's all right, then. 

19 May 2021

The Pastoral Letter that wasn't

Personally ... probably it's just me ... Pastoral Letters take me different ways. There's one English bishop whose PLs are laden with footnotes.

I like that. The man is saying: "This is not a load of my personal opinions. This is what the Church teaches." It is an immensely attractive indication of humility. Bishops are not forbidden to be humble.

Recently I wrote about a draft PL which cannot go out with the status of a Pastoral Letter of all the bishops of Great Britain, because not all the bishops have assented to it. 

This text is totally unencumbered with footnotes. That strikes me as arrogant and prelatical and disdainful. It says to me: "We're Big Boys. We're telling you that you little fellers gotta fall into line and swallow the following, although we're not going to run the risk of being caught out by claiming that it is the Teaching of the Church."

The contents of the abortive 'Pentecost' PL do not engender confidence. I cannot discern within its text the authentic notes of Holy Scripture, the Fathers, or the Magisterium of the ages. Acts chapter 2 suggests to me that the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles so that they might proclaim to the world the Resurrection of the Lord. The abortive PL does not, as we say, major on that topic.

S Peter calls the hearers to repentance: "Repent (metanoesate) and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins ... Save yourselves (sothete) from this crooked (skolias) generation." Then, he promises, you will receive the gift of the Spirit. 

The abortive PL does not preach to our world and to our society that it is skolia, bent; that it needs metanoia, a radical change of heart. It does not identify its authors as counter-cultural. At one point, it nervously assures its readers that the ecological agenda it enjoins will involve "minimum inconvenience and change". This is not the Scriptural call to metanoia. It is an invitation to self-righteousness at minimum cost.

The abortive PL suggests that 'we' are on the same side as the current fashions of World. It implicitly calls upon the World to accept this alliance. It is the sort of document which lives easily with the involvement of the Church in international ecological meetings (it mentions a couple of such meetings later this year).

I am unhappy because this sort of document represents the replacement of the Christan call to radical conversion with  "minimum" morality.

Man does rather like to have a moral code. The code prescribed in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition is a hard one, involving the priority of worship; and sexual discipline, and withdrawing from lying and stealing ... But an Ecological Ethic offers Man the possibilty of complacently enjoying his moral righteousness without falling before the Lord in adoration, without giving up his own sweet covetousnesses. 

It is an alluring, but a dangerous, temptation.

I believe that the bishops who declined to associate themselves with this draft did their own reputations, and that of all their confratres, a very good turn.

Two final (but not unimportant) points. 

(1) The fact that congregations all over Great Britain will not be made to listen to this document is due to the acts of a minority (possibly, a minority of one!) of the bishops in the two conferences concerned. It is this insistence upon episcopal unanimity which is our safeguard against a takeover by a Deutsche Christen majority determined to bring the Church into line with the Zeitgeist.

(2) One of the dangers of this pontificate is its use of the mantra "the Holy Spirit" to validate and impose a particular innovatory agenda. It is a policy which seems to me to fall foul of the dogmatic decree Pastor aeternus of Vatican I. If I am right, it may be categorised as formally heretical.

18 May 2021

Deutsche Christen ... still going strong ...

Readers will know well that in Nazi Germany there was a "Christian Movement" which aligned itself entirely with the dominant ideology of the decade. In Germany, that ideology was "National Socialist", but much of the error was not confined to Germany. Throughout Europe and North America, there were those who believed that Christianity should adopt the views of the 1930s Zeitgeist

Adopting the Zeitgeist is the temptation of every age. The Zeitgeist changes ... so that, today, we no longer admire the shine on the jackboots. The smart and intoxicating Hitlerite culture by which Barbara Pym (a biography has recently been published) and Mrs Simpson and Miss Mitford were so bewitched no longer tempts us (although the Mitfords are currently on TV here in the UK). Antisemitism is now the opposite of fashionable. We pat ourselves on our own heads for 'knowing better'. Indeed, "You are so much better informed, so much more morally correct than those who lived 90 years ago" is the sweet mantra which lures the gullible to worship the Zeitgeist in every age.

Therefore, if German Christianity was the error of the 1930s, we must not allow the Enemy in the 2020s to deceive us into assuming that we have avoided the Worship of the Zeitgeist if we simply ban Nazi memorabilia and persecute those we suspect of Antisemitism. 

The Zeitgeist is ipsa natura protean. By definition, it does not have the same shape as it did in the 1930s; but ... decked out in its new clothes ... it is still, in 2021, an invitation to Apostasy.

That is why many members of the current German 'Catholic' hierarchy are attempting to impose the modern equivalent of the Deutsche Christen ideology.

A German Catholic bishop is said (Lifesitenews) to have written "As to the demand for chastity: What does this mean from the perspective of people who experience homosexual inclinations? I think that few of them would consider this demand as tactful and respectful ...".

I have little time for people who attack homosexuals while going easy on heterosexual libertines. But I have just as little time for those who wish to privilege homosexual genital activity because this is what today's Zeitgeist has adopted as its current posture.

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.

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 many 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, once 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.

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?