31 October 2021

The Western as quite literally an enduring genre at High Noon

 This COP26 Conference in Glasgow has hilarious possibilities.

I just heard Prince Charles say: "Quite literally, it is the last chance saloon."

Exquisite! Such gems adequately justify all the expense of having a Royal Family! One wonders what confused kaleidoscopic images were dancing round in the poor poppet's mind when he drafted that. At least, it must prove that (unlike Good Catholic I'm Irish Biden) he does write his own speeches.

His sister, Princess Anne, also writes her own speeches. I infer this from the fact that she once came to give a 'lecture' at the college I taught in, and it was totally captivating. Nobody, clearly, had ever explained to her that a sentence should contain a main verb!

Perhaps some readers employ the same dodge to stay awake as I do when forced to listen to twaddle: trying to render it simultaneously into Latin. No need for such contrivances when the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Battenberg get up onto their haunches.

I earnestly entreat exhort and beg readers to communicate via my thread the funniest bits they hear from the COP26.

With so many fully qualified windbags in the same place at the same time ... 

(That's an aposiopesis.) 

"They have uncrowned Him" Archbishop Lefebvre ... and Eric Zemmour?

On this yummy Feast of Christ the King, I find myself again wondering if a prophet-before-his-time has ever been so justified by subsequent events as Marcel Lefebvre. Here is piece I rote in 2017.

I am reminded of Archbishop Lefebvre's book with the above title. When I first read that volume, I was struck by a great sense of familiarity ... combined with an overwhelming awareness of unfamiliarity.

The familiarity? The understanding of Society which I found on his pages is radically similar to what, for most of its existence since 1559, would have been seen as the distinctive mark of Anglicanism ... yes, even more so than 'episcopacy' or 'Patristicism'. I invite readers to let their imagination take them back to the English countryside before the Industrial Revolution or the Catholic Revival; to the Squire and the Parson (each of them probably 'two-bottle men', or better) drinking to "Church and King" or "Church and State". The understanding was that the Crown defended the Church, and the Church upheld the Crown (a view that 'Gallican' Frenchmen might have shared). There had been a decade of hiatus in the middle of the seventeenth century; but that had become just a bad memory. True, there were ambiguities after the Dutch Invasion; as Squire and Parson raised their glasses together, perhaps the candlelight glinted on some words etched into the glasses ... Redeat Magnus ille Genius Brittaniae ... and perhaps there was a bowl of water on the table ... and perhaps Sophie Western in her lofty bower heard the drunken voices downstairs rise in song to 'bless our King ... soon to reign over us' or to peer into a future 'when the King shall have his own again'. But the implicit ideology, of a Christian state, of a 'realm', lay beneath it all.

In this sense, if you wanted to call classical 'cultural Anglicanism' 'Lefebvrian', people might find you rather eccentric but you could make a strong case for your eccentricity; as long as you made it clear that you were referring to the old 'High and Dry' churchmen more than to the new enthusiasts of the Tractarian and Evangelical movements.

The unfamiliarity? A vivid scene described early in the Archbishop's book: we are inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where the painter David has been prostituting his skills in the interests of a new ideology, and has turned from oils to papier-mache. Instead of the altare Dei and the August Presence, there is a 'mountain' with a 'Greek' temple, occupied by an agreeable petite danseuse deemed to be the Goddess Reason and surrounded by her associates singing 'hymns'; then a small gathering moves off to the Assembly so that its President can embrace 'la Deesse'. The date? 20 Brumaire, in the Year II. The Capetian uncrowned, the Redeemer dethroned, the very Calendar remade.

British Society has never since 1660 experienced quite such a brutal and total moment of discontinuity, which has marked the whole of later history and has bequeathed such rigidly defined polarities. If Britain had done a deal with Hitler in 1941, Buckingham Palace might very probably have been occupied by Wallace Simpson and a bevy of German Advisers, but EDWARDUS VIII DEI GRATIA REX INDIAE IMPERATOR would have appeared on the coins, the royal standard would still have fluttered from the flagpole, and there would ... I suspect ... have been a continuity of outward forms.

French history, on the other hand, has been marked by repeated discontinuities in the rituals and the forms, so that under Marshal Petain the Revolutionary motto and symbols in their turn give way to coins inscribed Travail Famille Patrie and bearing a Gallique Francisque. And what might a President Zemmour do? 

I am inclined to feel that an Englishman has little hope of understanding Lefebvre (or possibly many other Frenchman) if he fails to understand this.

His Excellency the Archbishop described 'the social doctrine of the Church' thus:  
"Society is not a shapeless mass of individuals, but an arranged organism of coordinated and hierarchically arranged social groups: the family, the enterprises and trades, then the professional corporations, finally the state. The corporations unite employers and workers in the same profession for the protection and the promotion of their common interests. The classes are not antagonistic, but naturally complementary".
You could call this ideal 'Corporatism' and recall with distaste that it appealed to Mussolini; or 'Toryism' and remember that as early as 1749 Henry Fielding was ridiculing it as old-fashioned; but it has broad links with the Catholic High Medieval Society which John Bossy described in the 1980s and the disappearance of which the Anglican 'Radical Orthodox' Catherine Pickstock lamented as the basis of modern, atomised, individualism.

Our more gradual British revolutions and our shyness about disturbing inherited symbols deny us the clarity afforded to Frenchmen by the almost comic abruptness of their own episodic cultural transformations; but have we not now all ... on each side of the Channel ...  ended up in very much the same place?



30 October 2021

Bishops and their Camels

Dom Gregory Dix supplies a vivid and jolly account of episcopal inadequacy during the Diocletian Persecution.

"[I]t cannot be said that the episcopate as a whole had come well out of the universal crisis of the Diocletian persecution. 

"Few bishops when it broke out were men of much distinction. Eusebius, who as a bishop and a contemporary has some claim to be heard, says frankly that they were on the whole a poor lot, and ascribes the persecution largely to divine anger at their conduct. He is rather given to pious thoughts of this kind, which have not quite the value of historical judgments. But the precise and definite evidence of episcopal failure everywhere at this time can hardly be discounted ... The better bishops, of course, proved faithful and were martyred. But a shockingly large number at the first question turned traditor - i.e., handed over the Scriptures and sacred vessels to the authorities for destruction, the formal act required of them, which Church and State agreed to consider as constituting apostasy. Others denied that they had them in their keeping, but gave the names of the lectors who had them. Others again salved their consciences by handing over other books instead ...

"When the African Council of Cirta met in 305, after the persecution had spent its first violence in these parts, it revealed a pitiful state of affairs. All the bishops present but two seem to have been traditores in some sense. The president himself was compromised, and agreed to suspend all enquiries to avoid unpleasantness. Nor were the only faults those of lack of courage. More than one of these men was afterwards found guilty of direct theft; others of simony and adultery, and of peculating Church funds. One bishop, who admitted to two murders, retained his seat in this assembly by a timely display of diabolically bad temper.

"We may hope that this sort of thing was exceptional, but the evidence is not reassuring. We hear, e.g., of bishops in Palestine who after the persecution, "because they had not rightly shepherded the rational flock of Christ, were by divine justice turned into camel-drivers, an animal of a natural perversity to which they were suited". It is a fact that though there were a score of sees in Palestine, no bishop was martyred there in ten years of persecution ... "

Father Hunwicke asks:

(1) Isn't there some jolly old ditty about Making the Punishment Fit The Crime?

(2) Does the Annuario Pontificio give careful statistics about the ratio of Bishops to Camels in each Episcopal Conference area?

(3) Might a new, reforming, pope need to have exactly this sort of information at his finger tips?

29 October 2021

All Hallows' Eve

A lovely day, the day before All Saints, in which the Roman Liturgy, with its beautiful Mass of the Eve, or Vigil, of All Saints, sets up a big marker against the heathen puerilities of "Hallow Een". And carries forward the themes of the Social Kingship of Christ. I am sure that both clergy and devout laity will enjoy the texts of this Mass.

Except that they wo'n't. What a shame that Vatican II abolished it. Just another example of all that has been wrong since the 1960s.

Except that the Vigil of All Saints was not abolished by Vatican II.

Because, as everybody knows, it was abolished by the undoubted vandals who, in the decade after the Council, certainly did use "Vatican II" as a thoroughly dishonest excuse to ignore what the Council did actually mandate. Shockers, the lot of them.

Er ... No; wrong again. This lovely Vigil was abolished by Pius XII, hero-pope of a certain sort of Traddy!!

Pius XII it was who employed Hannibal Bugnini and began the deformation of the Roman Rite, years before Papa Roncalli had any notion whatsoever of summoning a Council. They began by interfering with the rites of Holy Week. And the Vigil of All Saints, they felt, had to go.

If, in a second-hand bookshop, you spot an old pre-1950 Missal going cheap, snaffle it up!

According to the pre-Pacelli Roman Rite, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, in a year like this one, when November 1, All Saints, comes on a Monday, you are ordered to anticipate this Vigil on Saturday October 30.

If, following the complicated current usages of the modern English Catholic Church, you observe All Saints, this year, on Sunday, it will still be mighty suitable to celebrate the Vigil on Saturday ... wo'n't it?

The only people, I imagine, who really do carefully observe this and other such traditional Vigils are Anglicans who belong to "the Prayer Book Society" (led, I believe, by dear Prince Charles and the former Mrs Parker Bowles); and those American sedevacantists who (used to???) follow the S Lawrence Press Ordo


Have members of those two last-named highly-principled organisations inherited any megatraditional dietary customs about special 'vigil' observances? A modest Lobster Thermidor, perhaps, for breakfast? A penitential Bouillabaisse for lunch? [Native British home-shucked] Oysters for those in-between snacks? I don't wish to encroach upon Fr Zed's mouthwatering culinary posts, but perhaps this is a field in which my own readers who have appropriate Traddy contacts can make a modest contribution to edifying and recatholicising the Wider Church.

28 October 2021


Those who, very kindly and indulgently, read even the more ephemeral of the ephemera I publish will have noticed that I recently took an interest in the Just William stories of Richmal Crompton, especially a short story William and the Nasties

I have learned an important lesson. And I thank all of you who helped me to find this text for your part in advancing my very limited education! Here is the Lesson you have taught me:

Never jump to conclusions. Never assume the obvious.

That story, written in 1935, shows William proposing to imitate 'Him Hitler' and the 'Nasties' and the Storm Troopers; to drive out of their English village a Jewish shopkeeper and to ransack his vast supply of sweets. In fact, the subtext of the story is elegantly anti-Nazi; it is made clear that, in England, Hitler's treatment of the Jews would be illegal. One would go to prison! William and his associates gradually realise this and lose all confidence in their plans of exspoliation. (In a somewhat mannered twist of the plot, all ends happily with a real 'thief' dragged off to prison by the police, while William and Mr Isaacs join together in happy amity.)

I assumed ... mea maxima culpa ... that the story was expunged from the canon at the time of WW2. 

I was very wrong.

It wasn't. It was expunged in 1986.

It appeared, in reprint after reprint, throughout the testing years of the War. But it was meat far too strong for the sensitivies of (what Vatican II called) hodiernum tempus.

What did 1986 find so objectionable? 

Possibly, the typecasting of the Jew; he is an entrepreneur; he speaks in an English in which W becomes V. Possibly, the presentation of something as vile as Hitlerism as a mere joke (cf also the tribulations of P G Wodehouse ... "the German Army ... a fine body of men ...").

Richmal Crompton, the author(ess), was the daughter of a clergyman who was also a Classics Master. She herself read Classics at the Royal Holloway, and went on to teach it. She was a sophisticated ironist and stylist. Her Narrator's English is literate and highly latinate; it sets off the naive illiteracy in the dialogue of the small boys whose words and exploits she presents as objects of satire. Indeed, a real 'William' would not be able to understand most of her texts at all! 

I suspect that she began by intending what she wrote to amuse literate and latinate adults. She offers us a comfortable and amused viewpoint, sitting at her own side, chuckling when she chuckles. 

Readers will recall that C S Lewis explained that he did not set out, as he visited Narnia, to write stories for children ... but what he did want to write presented itself in the genre of Children's Stories. How many child-readers would fully appreciate, for example, the passage where Lewis argues that abominable should be etymologically derived, not from abominabile, but from ab homine?

Wozzat you say? In Middle English, and in the Shakespearean folios, abominable is indeed spelt abhominable? (Holoferne favente scribo.)

Exactly. This gets us to the heart of the matter. Censorship tries to cut us off from our cultural past. It attempts to slam shut the doors into other human worlds. Writers of the 1930s, or 1430s, were not always right, but they were not always wrong. And writers of our own time are not always wrong ... but they are most certainly not always right. And, in a generation's time, this will be embarrassingly clear.

Lewis (On reading Old Books) recommended that we should never read something new until we had (re)read a couple of old books.

I suggest that the many volumes of Just William deserve to be added to the Official Canon of Old Books which need to be reread. William and the Nasties is a good starting point.

27 October 2021

Professor Germaine Greer

I will not repeat information about her which you can find on Wikipaedia. But, briefly for those who have never heard of her ... Greer was one of the great names of Feminism from the 1960s onwards. Intelligent and articulate and academic, she was a name to conjure with ... and be threatened by.

Not now. She's gone off message. Or rather, 'Feminism' has itself mutated into positions which she never held, has never accepted, and sees no reason not to repudiate. As well as The Female Eunuch, the work by which she made her name, a book I don't think you will regret giving time to is her The Whole Woman.

Don't get me wrong. I am not parading Greer before you as some Victorian Convert to Righteousness. Reading her will not reinforce all your own convictions about things with regard to which you have strong feelings. For example, she has joined no anti-abortion organisation. She waves no pro-life banner. But read what she writes about Abortion ... and a lot of other things ... in TWW, and you'll see what a lot of acute good sense she talks about the Abortion industry as a way in which men exploit, demean, and make money out of women. I rather like her angry rhetoric about "the gynecological abattoir". (Incidentally, she praised the initiative of Cardinal Winning to give women in Scotland a genuine alternative to Abortion.)

Political Correctness throughout the Western World is particularly preoccupied at the moment with 'Transgender People'. And Dr Greer has maintained the simple and obvious position that a man, even if rendered incomplete and filled with female hormones, is not a woman. Greer is willing to use female pronouns for such an individual out of courtesy; she does not desire to prevent them from having the thing done to them; but she doesn't see why she should be forced to say that Black is White. She campaigned against the election of a 'transwoman' to be a Fellow of her College in Cambridge on the grounds that the Statutes prescribe that Fellows must be women ... and that the fellowship candidate wasn't. Total universal uproar. From being a Feminist Icon, transformation into Major Hate Figure.

Among us cispontines (go on ... admit that the term is rather neat), Feminism is currently riven. Our Green Party, and our Women's Equality Party, are both divided about whether they (exempli gratia) concede the right of women to have access to safe places from which penile humans are excluded; or whether a human who declares that he is a woman must be excluded from nowhere.

This does make life less drab. In The Times, most Saturdays, there is a column by a 'feminist' called Janyce Turner. Time was, when you would have assumed that you, reader, and I, disagreed with her. But her arguments and rhetoric about trans- and cis- are admirable.

I hate to criticise my superiors. But I rather wonder whether the Lowerarchy may have made a strategic error. Led by our Father Below, they may have thought that Gender Self Identification would be their master (er!) stroke. 

But have they gone just that bit too far down the path of demanding submission to manifest contradictions?

26 October 2021

Whatever happened to all those Actresses? Authors?

I only ask because, this side of the water, the word 'actress' seems now only to exist within formulaic jokes which turn upon the phrases "As the Bishop said to the Actress" and "As the Actress said to the Bishop". I suppose the magic would be aborted if the phrase mutated to "As the Bishop said to the Actor". (Does this genre of humour exist trans undas?0

Perhaps, in the Catholic Church, there should be jokes articulated by the formula "As the Cardinal said to the Actor".

Anyway ... QUESTION 1

An English actress called Beckinsale is in the news for saying that, in Hollywood, if you are 

(a) a woman, and

(b) clever,

the combination will be a very notable career disadvantage.

Why do so many men have problems with clever women? I invite serious answers.

In the following extract, we find women undergraduates ... circa 1935 ... alluding to the phenomenon:

"I hope," said Miss Millbanks, "[Miss Flaxman] has not been trying to collect your Geoffrey."

"I'm not giving her the opportunity," said Miss Layton. "Geoffrey's sound-yes, darlings, definitely sound-but I'm taking no chances. Last time we had him to tea in the J.C.R., Flaxman came undulating in-so sorry, she had no idea anybody was there, and she'd left a book behind. With the Engaged Label on the door as large as life. I did not introduce Geoffrey." 

"Did he want you to?" inquired Miss Haydock.

"Asked who she was. I said she was the Templeton Scholar and the world's heavyweight in the way of learning. That put him off."

"What'll Geoffrey do when you pull off your First, my child?" demanded Miss Haydock.

"Well Eve-it will be awkward if I do that. Poor lamb! I shall have to make him believe I only did it by looking fragile and pathetic at the viva." ... 


I have just heard a discussion on the Home Service about why nearly all novels nowadays are written by women; 80% of the readers are women; and what can be done about it.

Does anything need to be done?

Are women different from men? If not, why not?


25 October 2021

Very personal query only for fellow-brits

 Apparently there is a Just William story ... William and the Nasties ... from the mid-thirties, which seems unavailable for PC reasons. I have a weakness for the Thirties which inclines me to try to get behind the wall of censorship inevitably erected by the horrific events of the following decade. I have an eccentric desire to be able to see that decade as it saw and expressed itself, without the censorship that comes from hindsight.

Can anybody tell me where to find this tale (in full) on the internet?

It is pretty shameless of me ...

 ... yet again to plug a collection of essays one of which is from myself! But, of course, I always succumb to the temptation to do this! 

Are Canonizations INFALLIBLE? Revisiting a disputed question.

Arouca Press, edited by the admirable Professor Kwasniewski.

I know many readers have been worried by the spate of canonisations of 'Conciliar popes', seeing this process as politically motivated. This collection has sixteen pieces ... including one from Prospero Lambertini, Pope Benedict XIV. Their views are varied. But many of the contributions are from the stable which, as well as the Dubia, brought you the Filial Correction and the other recent documents which establish a theological case against this pontificate.

Not to be missed!

I am repeating this August post because I really do think that this is a very important book, at a time when PF has forced upon us nolentes volentes a duty of taking a long and careful and critical look at the magisterial claims he makes. This question of Canonisation is pretty central. 

Vladimir Vladimirovich

There is on the Internet an interesting piece by VV. He suggests that the Wokery and attempts at cultural or linguistic transformation which are being played out in Western societies at the moment resemble the similar attempts made in his country at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. 

I hope I am not naive about VV.Yes; I do know about his background. He may indeed be complicit in homicide, not least in my own country.

But he's not the only one to play such games. Osama bin Laden was killed by an American unit operating without sanction in the sovereign territory of another country, Pakistan. There are photographs of Obama and his cronies watching the exercise on a screen, so we know that the operation was sanctioned at the highest level. Russkiland is not the only place where it can be decided that inconvenient people be removed from an equation.

And, yes, I do realise that VV is a politician, and that ... even when they are right ... politicians have an agenda for what they say.

But ...

24 October 2021

Whom to name in the Te igitur?

Note that I do not say "in the Eucharistic Prayer". 

Because the EPs of other rites and the newer "Roman" EPs may have a different theology from that of the Canon Romanus

More than half a century ago, Dom Eizenhofer (Sacris Erudiri 1956, 75 gives the Latin summary) demonstrated, in my view conclusively, that the word "Communicantes" goes grammatically and theologically with the end of the Te igitur (Memento being an originally diaconal parenthesis). The grammar is "una cum ... communicantes". And that the theology of the Prayer means that our sacrifice is commended to the Father as acceptable because we are offering it in and for the Church in union with its [earthly] head the Bishop of Rome. He backs this up with a great many pieces of contemporary Latin showing that the language expresses the ideology of the Roman See at the time the Canon acquired its present state: that being in communion with the Roman See is the touchstone of Catholic communion. 

Of course not everybody accepts that notion. But what Eizenhofer's demonstration makes clear is that it would not be proper to substitute another prelate for the Roman Pontiff unless one were prepared at the same time to argue that he is not just a Catholic bishop, not just the Head of a Communion, but the actual Prelate communion with whom gurantees one's Catholicity. 

So the old Anglo-Catholic ploy of naming the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Orthodox 'Western Rite' practice of naming a Patriarch, are improper unless one really does believe that communion with that prelate is the universal touchstone of whether anybody is in full commuion with the Church Catholic. 

It is also worth noting that this Naming is not a prayer for the Roman Bishop. It is true that we should pray for him; but that is not what we are doing here.

We are expressing our Communio with the Successor of S Peter. I think it was S John Henry Newman who spoke about the Soliditas Petri ... In communion with him, we know that we are in the One Fold of the Redeemer (Newman again).

I find it easy, during this disastrous pontificate, to sympathise with those who question whether Bergoglio really can be pope. But you and I cannot decide such matters. The constitution of the Church is not a DIY game for anybody to play. Our duty is to bear witness against the gross errors of this pontificate, while at the same time allowing nobody to prise our fingers away from Communio with the Successor of S Peter.

That is why, every morning, I name Francis in the Canon of the Mass; and why, dear reader, your faithful priest does the same.

23 October 2021

Apologies ...

... for not having reviewed Comments ... I have been away for a few days. I have now been through them all.

I have decided that, for the foreseeable future, I will not enable posts which keep on about migrations of 'alien' peoples' into the Three Kingdoms.

New Collects?

In 1904, the acute Anglican lay liturgist J Wickham Legg wrote about "new prayers ... deficient in grammar and rhythm, and balance, and often it must be owned even in a sense of humour. The art of writing collects, it is time to impress upon every one, is a lost art."

In 1932, K D Mackenzie wrote (Liturgy and Worship) about the Orationes Communes proposed in the abortive 1928 Prayer Book: "The Collects all seem to be modern, and vary very much in character. That of a Bishop is the best, possessing all the qualities of a good Collect. That of a Matron is of almost incredible banality, and is probably the worst which has ever been admitted to an Anglican rite."

Divertingly, that Collect for a Bishop had been borrowed by 1928 from the neo-Gallican Paris Missal!

Modern Anglican compositions are always middle-class and verbose and read like something from a DPhil thesis by a not-very-clever student, designed to show how full of ideas the writer is and to cram in as many of his brilliant apercus as possible. 

In the modern Latin Catholic Church, things are not as bad as in the C of E, because the post-Conciliar  virtuosi of the 1960s stuck more with ancient models (although they did most lamentably mess around with many of them). The nastiest Catholic collects are those subsequently composed in English for our local English Saints. Presumably out of Ecumenical fellow-feeling, these show all the worst horrors of Anglican compositions. Naturally, the Sarum Collects which had previously been used in the Supplementa pro dioecesibus Angliae were regarded as far too simplistic for the sophisticated 1970s.

If you possess a Collins Daily Missal, and Common Worship, and 1928, you can verify ... or falsify? ... my assertions for yourselves.






22 October 2021


My hand-copy of the old Missal is a beautiful thing bound in red leatherwith real gold leaf on the page edges, Mechliniae e Typographia Hanicquiana MDCCCXL. Sometimes it falls naturally open at the Decree of Urban VIII - a great Latin Stylist although, as I keep telling you, he should have kept his Horatian hands off the Office Hymns. 

Here is a rendering of the beginning; I share it as a lovely example of rhetoric which came naturally in 1634 and which we totally forget at our peril. "If there is anything in the affairs of men plainly divine, which the citizens of Heaven (if they were to experience envy) could envy us possessing, it is certainly the most holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by the gift of which it happens that men by a cetain anticipation possess Heaven upon Earth, when they have before their eyes and grasp with their hands the Maker Himself of Heaven and Earth. For which reason mortals should strive all the more to give this great privilege the worship and honour which it deserves, and should beware of the Angels, haters of negligence, who compete with us in reverence." 

A little later he refers to the Breviary and the Missal as the wings which the priest, like the Cherubim of the ancient mystic Tabernacle, daily stretches out towards the true Mercy-Seat of the world. BTW, S Therese of Lisieux uses the same trope (referring to the sufferings of her now-beatified father which were to his family a spiritual opportunity "qui doit causer une sainte jaloisie aux Anges de la Celeste cour"). I expect learned readers can supply further examples.

21 October 2021

Santissimo Redentore and Coronavirus

The Appendix pro aliquibus locis in the Altar Missal I use daily has a Mass for October 23 ... for our Most Holy Redeemer. In a couple of days' time, I think, I shall use it, not least because the particular devotion goes back to the Great Plague of Venice in 1576 ... which makes it ... you know what I mean ... topical for us in these fun days. 

There were terrible numbers of plague victims, and so the Doge and the Senate vowed that ... the rest of the story writes itself, doesn't it?

The main Festival in Venice with this title is, as I suspect many readers will know, celebrated on the Third Sunday of July. I believe that quite a lot still goes on, even though it is, I think, some years since the poor things had a Doge (Doge and Duce may to the etymologist be identical, but historically ...). In 1830, Pope Pius VIII marked his brief pontificate by extending the Feast to Rome itself, where it was to be observed on 23 October. Readers lucky enough to have a copy of the splendiferous Calendar published each year by the Redemptorist Community on Papa Stronsay, up near the North Pole, will have noticed that Santissimo Redentore is observed on the Third Sunday of July with greater solemnity, but also pops up on 23 October.

That Mass, like so many of the liturgical innovations of the Counter-Reformation, is full of exuberant joy in the wonders of our Redemption ... rather in the triumphalist spirit which animated Rubens' Triumph of the Eucharist. The Introit with which it begins, Gaudens gaudebo ... is from Isaias 61, and the psalmus of that Introit is the majestic, architectural, opening of Psalm 88: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo: in generationem et generationem annuntiabo Veritatem tuam in ore meo. This psalmus is also  used in the Votive of the Passion, and in the Sarum (and Ordinariate) Mass of the Five Wounds. And it's there in the Mass of the Most Precious Blood ... and, I think, in a number of other Masses celebrating our Redeemer. (The Mercies of HWHY shall I sing for ever; unto generation and generation I shall proclaim thy MTh in my mouth.)

And the Offertorium, most suitably, is Salus populi ... I am the salvation/health of the people, from whatsoever tribulation they call upon me I will hear them; and I will be their God for ever: Alleluia!

A splendid pun!

The best response to Coronavirus would have been for this Nation to vow a great Neo-Palladian Basilica to our Beloved Saviour, to be built perhaps on the site of that bizarre monument to utter, crass, pointlessness, the "Millennium Dome".  

Tchaikovsky wrote something which could have been played in connection with its solemn Consecration! Just imagine the artillery at the Tower of London echoing down the River!

20 October 2021

Only two Centuries of Greece?

Greece celebrates this year the bicentenary of her recovery of independance. I wish her well. So much in my life  ... since the age of twelve ... has been taken up with that scintillating civilisation. 

But every time I see Greece 'iconically' represented by pictures of the Athenian Acropolis, I groan. Or wince.

One very obvious reason for this is that Athens is not Greece. Classical Hellas was divided between very many poleis ... city-states ... independent and, very frequently, murderously at war with each other. The Acropolis in Athens is, quite simply, not some symbol of the majesty of Hellas; but an assertion of the polis of Athens.

But there is more to matters than that.

It was not until the Age of Lord Byron that the Greeks were taught by post-Christian Western European intellectuals that their glory, and the marker and symbol of their identity, ought to be found in pre-Christian Antiquity, or rather in the idiosyncratic reconstruction of Classical Greece favoured by the 'Enlightenment'. From the Advent of Christianity down to the Ottoman invasion, Hellenic identity had, on the contrary, been identical with Byzantine Christianity (that admirable civilisation which renamed Aphrodisias Stauroupolis and converted thousands of temples into churches). Until the Turks made the Parthenon a mosque and then an arsenal, it had for many centuries (more centuries than it served the pagan cults of glaukopis Athene and Mahomet) been a Church dedicated to the true Queen of Heaven, the Virgin Theotokos. Much of its statuary was defaced by the Christian Greeks themselves because of its pagan nature, especially at the East end, where a liturgical apse needed to be constructed. I would willingly contribute to a fund to restore the Parthenon so that it could again be used for the Divine Liturgy of S John Chrysostom.

But that would probably be pointless. There would be no congregation to worship there. The Acropolis Hill, until it was deliberately stripped bare, was a Levantine maze of little streets and alleys; of buildings Frankish and Ottoman and Greek; of homes and bazaars and churches. The 'iconic' scene so often now thrust before us, of a lonely arid rock, scraped nearly bare, with some damaged stonework atop, like an open mouth upon which some manic dentist has declared nuclear war,  is a ghastly symbol of a culture which clutches at a colourless 'Antiquity' of ruins, and despises the human, not to mention the true Divine which was the glory of Hellenism when it was faithful to Christ and His Mother. 

The present scene is 'iconic' only of the 'Enlightenment' preference for nostalgic memories of a long-lost pagan religious culture and a matching contempt for Christendom. This is the same preference, indeed, as was demonstrated in that infamous draft European Constitution which did a very Olympic long-jump from Ancient Greece and Rome to the 'Enlightenment', consigning the intervening centuries of Christendom to contemptuous oblivion. 

In the 1890s, the then Greek Director of Antiquities showed himself to have been brainwashed by exactly this anti-Christian spirit: he proudly proclaimed that the Acropolis had finally been 'cleansed' of all 'barbaric' encroachments. Nearly two millennia of Greek History and culture written off as 'barbarism'! What a Greek! Who needs Turks when you've got Greeks like that!

I don't think I would want to visit the Parthenon today, even for free, even if it were entirely cleared of the heaving masses of tourists simply for my own solitary pleasure and convenience.

Dear Readers: just for one pointless but magical moment, imagine what it would have been like to pant uphill and then to turn a corner in some narrow and grubby little street and, suddenly, to see a partial view of the Parthenon, majestical, rearing up in front of you; and to hear, from inside, the sound of a great-chested deacon intoning the ektene.

19 October 2021

Sir David Amess

 Early on Sunday morning, I lent half an ear to part of a programme called Sunday on the Beeb. It was ... if this is the right word ... being 'anchored' this week by ... if I heard aright ... one Emily Buchanan.

The lady sounded perfectly charming ... despite the fact that English is apparently not her first language. I do not hold that against her one little bit! One slip as an example for you: she said that somebody whose book she was reviewing "has weaved together ...". Not, of course, at all a terrible error. When she has settled down in our country, I am sure that she will get the hang of the English Language and speak it far better than most of us "cradle British".

I was ... seriously ... rather more upset by some other features of the programme, which I suspect are the fault of those who put the programme together, and not of Ms Buchanan herself. She was dealing with the tragic death of an MP called Sir David Amess, who sat for a constituency in my native Essex. Being a fellow Essex Man makes me feel protective towards his memory, quite apart from the fact that he is a fellow Catholic.

His Catholicism caused, I felt, some embarassment. 

After a death, and a fortiori after the death of somebody horrifically knifed by a possible terrorist, our custom is to say nil nisi bonum de mortuis.

This has meant that the majority of the commentariate has skated with embarrassment round Sir David's strong opposition to Abortion.

But things went even further in the Sunday programme. Buchanan asked whether the fact that he was a Catholic "made any difference" to the service he gave to his constituents of other faiths.

Perhaps I am being over-sensitive here. But it did seem to me that this rather leading question was meant to be taken in the sense "Did his Catholicism make him less fair to non-Catholic constituents?" rather than "Did his Catholicism make him an even better MP to all  his constituents, including non-Catholics?" 

Yes ... perhaps I am a bit unfair ... mention was indeed made of the influence of Catholic Social Teaching on his work ...

But, even more strangely, comment was sought from the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford.

I do not blame her Ladyship for this. She made very clear that she had only recently taken over her diocese and did not know Sir David. She kept repeating phrases such as "What I have heard is that ...". It would be totally unfair for me or anyone to criticise her. But ... why could Sir David's own Bishop, the Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, Bishop Alan, not have been given a voice? Or, if he was unavailable, the local Catholic pp, Fr Jeffrey Woolnough (a Mirfield man), who featured on a brief clip the previous evening, speaking very well and and pastorally and movingly during a Requiem at S Peter's Catholic Church. 

If a prominent Anglican died in circumstances calling for episcopal comment, I very much doubt if the commentariate would go running to a local Catholic Bishop unless there were a very special reason (for example, if the two knew each other particularly well).

Finally: I do not find it easy to feel happy about the (immensely revealing) reasons the police have offered for refusing to allow Fr Woolnough to administer the Church's Last Sacraments to Sir David. They amount to an ignorant assertion that such things do not matter. This sort of disdainful behaviour does little to enhance the reputation of the police for respect towards religious people of whatever religion or culture. And this is a time when the reputation of the police could do with quite a lot of enhancing. When, in the early Seventies, I was a curate in a rough area of inner-city South London, police and clergy found it possible to respect each other and their respective roles.

It would be so nice if we could see just a trifle less of what can look like Anglican Imperialism; and Beeb insensitivity; and police arrogance. 

Cardinal Nichols, by the way, spoke on TV the previous evening with his customary sure-footed grace and sensitivity. Tactfully, respectfully, he alluded gently to the Methodist Church on whose premises Sir David was murdered.

Cuius animae propitietur Deus.

18 October 2021

A Burgundian nobleman in Exeter

 On S Luke's day, Sunday 18 October 1327, a great concourse of cardinals, bishops, and noblemen entered the Dominican priory  church which, during the papal 'exile' in Avignon, often hosted major papal ceremonies (even Coronations). The presiding bishop on this occasion was Pierre des Prez, Cardinal Bishop of Praeneste and one of fellow-townsmen whom pope John XXII had brought with him from Cahors. There, with due solremnity, the Cardinal consecrated to the episcopate a protege who was another member of the pontiff's inner circle and, like himself, a former papal chaplain. This 35-year-old Burgundian nobleman had only recently returned from an international diplomatic mission on behalf of the papacy; and the see to which he was consecrated wouild not have been vacant if the pope had not made room for him by setting aside the capitular election and royal confirmation of a rival aspirant.

The young bishop was Jean de Grandisson (pronounced by the English as 'Grahns'n'). The vestments he wore for his Consecration were in white cloth of gold woven with gold and white birds and with needlework orphreys containing 'images' inside circles, and pearl decorations. They were listed in subsequent Cathedral inventories. And they were only the beginning of his benefactions: One such inventory concludes "of the gifts of Bishop John de Grandisson -- all the choir books, vestments of every colour, ornaments, jewels of gold and silver and others, of which on account of their multitude the number is not written here or elsewhere, because in his life and afterwards they were multiplied beyond number. God knows who knows everything."

Grandisson ws a resolute bishop who reformed many aspects of life in his diocese, and not least its worship. He pursued an interesting heretic; he repelled an Archbishop of Canterbury who desired to carry out a Metropolitan Visitation. 

Even after the depredations of time and of the Tudors, he merited a section all to himself in a 1987 exhibition at the Royal Academy.

17 October 2021

Mark Pattison and his problems with Concelebration

Mark Pattison did not confine his uncomprehending contempt to women and papists; anybody who seemed to him to stand in the way of his own boundless self-esteem aroused his helplessly intemperate verbal malevolence. In 1851, the Rectorship of Lincoln College in this University came up for election. Pattison inevitably and with total certainty knew that he was the obvious candidate. Here is his infuriated reaction to learning that another Fellow, John Calcott, also proposed to offer himself. (I should explain to those who are not of the Patrimony that in those days common Anglican Eucharistic practice was for the Celebrant to stand and kneel at the North End of the Altar, and, if there was another priest or deacon assisting, he was at the South End.)

"As I stood opposite Calcott at the altar-table on Sunday, I could not help a feeling, very untimely at that place, that I should be supposed to be engaged in competition with such a snubby, dirty, useless little dog."

You could do worse than read Pattison. I have not laughed so much on turning the pagers of a book since, so long ago now, I read Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall for the first time. For once, the pastiche of Pattison's style confected by Mgr R A Knox (Let Dons Delight, Notes to Chapter VII) is, yes, very funny, but not funnier than the reality (ht to the erudite Sue Sims for the Knox reference). Could any satirist ever have imagined that even a self-obsessed bigot like Pattison would give away his own interior corruption quite as obviously and risibly as in the above sentence?

16 October 2021

Mark Pattison (1)

If you want an unbelievably amusing read ... a thoroughly unintentionally amusing read ... I commend the autobiography ("Memoirs of an Oxford Don") of Saint John Henry's contemporary at Oxford, Mark Pattison, later Rector of Lincoln College in this University. At one time a fervent High Churchman and admirer of Newman, he did not follow Newman into Full Communion; instead, he ended up slipping into what looks like the most liberal kind of Deism.

He is one of the most delightfully and naively self-opinionated fools, fools prejudiced (for example) against women and papists, known to History. Most ludicrously comic are his accounts of those whose theological convictions moved in a direction opposite to his own. Here he is writing about a female relative: "This girl early developed a masculine understanding. It was a dominant and urgent element in her constitution ... ... speculative ability ... ... perseverance in learning ... ... she taught herself Latin, Greek (which seems incredible), Italian, German, Mathematics ... ... command over the range of history, ancient and modern, that I have never known in anybody since ... ... I have known some of the wittiest, the ablest, and the best read men of my time [of course you have, Mark, dear, of course you have], but I do not exaggerate when I say that this woman at about thirty-five was a match in power and extent of knowledge for any of them ... we corresponded upon books, upon everything we thought or read, from as early a period as I remember, she leading and I following ... "

Sadly, however, and, to poor Pattison, incomprehensibly, the girl became a papist ("her perversion preceded that of Newman")! Pattison's account of this wonderfully admirable bluestocking concludes with these hilarious two sentences: "[She and her mother] lived about a great deal in Italy, etc., afterwards, and had every opportunity of seeing the seamy side of practical Catholicism; but my cousin saw it not. Can such a wreck of a noble intellect by religious fanaticism be paralleled?"
More fun later.

15 October 2021

Bishop Nazir Ali

Bishop Michael is a man of very considerable erudition. But what stands out and marks him as different from most of those who enter into full communion with the See of Peter is his links with, and ministry to, Anglicans throughout the world of an Evangelical background.

This is most welcome. S John Henry Newman, in his biglietto speech after being made a Cardinal, made clear that he saw his entire life, his theological development since his early 'Calvinist' conversion, as being a single unbroken continuum. The Enemy had always been the same: the errors of liberalism and indifferentism and subservience to the Spirit of the Age. 

Bishop Michael could make this same noble boast.

After the events of the 1990s and the invention of the Flying Bishops within the Church of England, when that mighty pontiff John Richards was gathering together a faithful remnant out of the ruins, he was proud that his Ebbsfleet Jurisdiction included Evangelicals.

In 1983, our great Anglican Catholic Magister Catholicae Veritatis Eric Mascall had written: "Stated as simply as possible, the question is thus: Is the Christian religion something revealed by God to man in Christ having an unconditional claim on our obedience, or is it something to be constructed for us by ourselves in response to our own desires and the the pressures and assumptions of contemporary culture? It is in accepting the former of these alternatives that traditional Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism stand side by side against the liberal modernist relativism and and naturalism."

A man who might be called the theological godfather of the Ordinariate, Fr Aidan Nichols O.P., wrote (both before and after the erection of the Ordinariate) of such a body as representing "not only the distinctively Catholic teachings of the Tractarians but also the emphasis of the Evangelicals on the Atonement, and in fact the Tractarians and the Evangelicals are not wholly to be separated out when we bear in mind the Evangelical roots of some of the Oxford Fathers."

Some years ago, I took part in some private theological discussions between Catholic Anglicans and Evangelicals (mostly of the Calvinist variety). One of the latter said to me afterwards "I can see why, under this present pope [Benedict XVI] you are so keen on the papacy. But what if a different sort of pope came along ...". 

It turned out to be a fair question! But I pray that, at least in the next pontificate, a vibrant Catholic-Evangelical synergeia will again become possible. In the meantime, I believe we could all benefit from a rereading of the document Dominus Iesus, in which the future Pope Benedict, Founder of the Ordinariate, asserted against all comers the unique and salvific Lordship of Christ our Redeemer.

All may be not quite perfect at the moment in the Catholic Church. But at least we can be sure that we are fighting the right battle in the right place.

14 October 2021

Dom Prosper Gueranger

Some years ago, a kind benefactor passed on to me a full set of the volumes of the English version of Dom Gueranger's wonderful  L'Annee Liturgique; a series which I had first met years ago as an Anglican.

I was preaching a Priests' Retreat in the Devon house of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary at Posbury St Francis. The sitting room set aside for my use had, around its walls, most of the library - including Gueranger - of Prebendary John Hooper, the charismatic priest who decades before had fostered my own vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. He was part of that admirable phenomenon (its survivors are now mostly in the Ordinariate): the Exeter Mafia, Anglican Catholic clergy who spent most of their priesthood in that diocese. He was a drinking companion of Bishop Robert Mortimer, the scholar-bishop and moral theologian (They haven't had many of those in the C of E - perhaps that is the root of some of their current tragedies). Fr John had been the Posbury community's Warden; and, indeed, he was buried under the trees in their quiet and still graveyard. 

But I had come under his influence much earlier when he was Vicar of S Mary Mags, in this city, then its great Anglican Catholic centre. I first saw him on the feast of our blessed Lady's Immaculate Conception in 1959, when I was in Oxford as a hopeful schoolboy sitting the Scholarship examinations. Purely by chance, if there is, in God's providence, any such thing, I happened to wander into Mags that evening when the High Mass - according to what we now call the Extraordinary Form and in the language of the English Missal - was being celebrated. What an exquisite ... quite apart from everything else ... aesthetic experience! How marvellous that there is now something very like that liturgy available in the Ordinariate!

Opening Gueranger at random, I hit upon these words about the beginning of the Mass. "But see, Christians! the Sacrifice begins! The Priest is at the foot of the Altar; God is attentive, the Angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the Priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the Cross with him."

Plummy, you think? I suppose so. "God is attentive": goodness gracious, that's a bit much isn't it? But isn't it a great wonder of this most Adorable Sacrifice? - as Newman put it: "It is not a mere form of words - it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal."

Dare we? Audeamus dicere.

13 October 2021

Nugacia classica

I happened to see on the Telly the katasterism ... no; not quite the right word ... of Admiral Kirk. I was disappointed that nobody saluted the quarter-deck as they came on board; but, mostly, that his fine craft did not have his flag qua admiral painted on it.

In the Royal Navy, admirals fly the red cross of S George. To this simple design, a Rear Admiral adds two red spheres; a Vice Admiral just one red sphere; a full Admiral no spheres. 

This means that, when a Vice Admiral is promoted to the next rank, the ratings on his flagship will look up at the masthead and observe "Goodness gracious me! The Admiral has now got no spheres at all!"

Perhaps there is something peculiarly English about becoming less visibly assertive as one becomes more really important. In the US Navy, I like to think of them using American-style stars, and gradually accumulating more and more of them as they become Bigger and Better admirals ... so that the American Lord High Admiral has a veritable Milky Way flying above his head.

Is it true that Mrs Kirk's baby had pointed ears but they hushed it up?

Only for Canonists

Are certain papal edicts classified as having been issued motu proprio in order to prevent their validity being impugned on the grounds of obreption or subreption (Cfr CIC 63)?

Psalm 18 (RSV19) and the Miracle of the Sun.

Today is the Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, when it was seen to dance around the Earth. I wish to share a few thoughts about the Typology of this event, with its deeply scriptural and traditional roots.

Our starting point should be Psalm 18, and the rich use which Holy Tradition has made of this psalm. 

In the Pius XII Psalter which was masterminded by Cardinal Augustin Bea (bad ... bad), we read (verse 5) "He has made a tabernacle for the sun". An accurate translation, it may be, of the Hebrew. But this is not what we find in both the ancient Latin Vulgate and the Greek Septuagint (abbreviated to LXX): the two versions by which Christians of both East and West have always worshipped. Here is a literal rendering of what these versions give us:
5.In the sun he has placed his tabernacle: and he himself like a bridegroom going forth from his chamber has rejoiced (LXX: will rejoice) like a giant to run his course.
6. From highest (LXX: furthest) heaven {is} his going forth: and his meeting is even unto its highest (LXX: furthest); neither is there one who might hide himself from his heat.

Our Catholic and Orthodox forebears took the Sun to be our Lady (S Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem from 634: "For in thee, O Virgin, as in a most pure and sparkling Heaven, God has placed his tabernacle"). They understood the bridegroom to be Christ. The bridal-chamber is the womb of the Blessed Virgin. In that Womb he united Godhead with manhood as bridegroom is united to bride, so that he is a giant with two Natures in one Person. His going forth is his eternal generation, as the Divine and Only-begotten Son, from the Father. His meeting is the Son's equality with the Father.
Let's consider the Advent Office Hymn Conditor alme siderum. We will take the clever and accurate translation of stanza 3 by the Anglican John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale which appears as Number 1 in the English Hymnal:
Thou cam'st, the bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.

And a hymn by the great S Ambrose himself, Veni Redemptor gentium
Forth from his chamber goeth he,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now his course to run.

The Liturgy of the hours unfortunately misses out ('ad brevitatem') the next stanza, also based on our psalm, which Neale (English Hymnal 14) renders
From God the Father he proceeds,
To God the Father back he speeds;
His course he runs to death and hell,
Returning on God's throne to dwell.

The Pre-Conciliar Breviary and the English Hymnal do not provide another ancient hymn, Fit porta Christi pervia, which the Liturgy of the Hours dug up and ordered to be said at Morning Prayer on January 1. Here is a literal version of the second stanza; it shows its indebtedness to Psalm 18:
The Son of the highest Father has gone forth from the palace of the Virgin, bridegroom, Redeemer, Creator, the Giant of his Church.

 I'm sure you've noticed the relevance of all this to the importance of celebrating Mass versus Orientem, towards the Lord who comes to us at the dawning of the day, walking to meet us from the womb of his Mother, the Woman clothed with Sun, the Tabernacle of Divinity.

But today, we think of the Sun as the great cosmic Ikon of the Mother of God, which spectacularly confirmed the authenticity of the Fatima Message; confirmed it for 1917 and for every successive year.

12 October 2021

Fresher (2)

Charles Ryder recorded that "on my first afternoon [as an undergraduate] I proudly hung a reproduction of Van Gogh's Sunflowers over the fire and set up a screen, painted by Roger Fry with a Provencal landscape, which I had bought inexpensively when the Omega workshops were sold up. I displayed a poster by McKnight Kauffer and Rhyme sheets from the Poetry Bookshop, and, most painful to recall, a porcelain figure of Polly Peachum which stood between black tapers on the chimney-piece. My books were meagre and commonplace -- Roger Fry's Vision and Design, the Medici Press edition of A Shropshire Lad, Eminent Victorians, some volumes of Georgian Poetry, Sinister Street  and South Wind ..."

We learn later that Ryder's scout, with ... it is surely hinted ... the innate good taste of the lower orders, had never liked the screen, and disposed of it. I hope he got a good price. It might go for a fair bit in the sale rooms today ...

Was Lytton Strachey the first known example of the phenomenon which became so prominent in the last pontificate: a homosexualist ideologue with a pathological detestation of  'the enemy'?

Little did Ryder know how close his rooms in Hertford were to (what Beerbohm called) the virguncules of Shrewsbury College; wholesome girls who might have saved him from the wiles of Anthony Blanche.

A kind friend has sent me photographs of Mgr Gilbey's sitting room in Cambridge. I wonder if the pictures on the walls were his own.

11 October 2021

Professor de Mattei ...

 ... had a good thing, on Lepanto Day, in OnePeter. He reminded us of the heroic figure of Marcantonio Bragadin, the Captain of Famagusta, victim of the perfidy and the sadistic cruety of his Islamic adversaries; flayed alive eis marturion Christou.

I am not filled with horror at last October 4's 'ecological' event; since Metropolitan Hilarion took part, it may have been defensible in terms of traditional Christianity. But any such event can be polluted if statements are made by any participant implying syncretism or relativism. We do not all worship the same god. Marcantonio, and the monsters who flayed him, could at least have agreed about that. 

Where is the problem? Does a part of it lie in the weakness within modern Catholicism of the proper realisation that we are Jews? We are the intolerant monotheists who pulled down the altars of the Ba'alim and defiled their High Places and had no truck with Asherah. There is only One God, and his Name is HWHY. Our identity was further hardened in the centuries of Roman persecution; not even the slightest suggestion of a pinch of incense ...

I have little doubt that the Usus Deterior has some culpability here. The repetitions in the Usus Authenticus of Dominus [that is, HWHY] vobiscum were cut down.

And, in the Usus Authenticus, the last thing the priest says before his act of Holy Communion is Panem caelestem accipiam, et Nomen HWHY invocabo. 

And, as he takes up the Chalice, he asks Quid retribuam HWHY pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam, et Nomen HWHY invocabo. Laudans invocabo HWHY et ab inimicis meis salvus ero.

We who murmur these verses every morning, such as this very morning, as we stand upon the Temple Mount and take the Immaculate Lamb into our unworthy hands, should never be unaware of the origin of these words in Psalms 115 and 17 (vg). And as we say Dominus in our Mass or our Office as a humble representation of the Tetragrammaton, it should never be a mere commonplace.

"Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their libaton of blood I will not pour out, or take their names upon my lips. HWHY is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage ... in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."


10 October 2021

Opportunities missed

 A pity that PF has (we learn) decided not to visit Glasgow after all. An opportunity missed! It is my favourite Scottish city; the Pollock Gallery rivals the V & A; the Hunterian is a most admirable museum; the University is a papal foundation; I once went and read a paper to a university society there and was most hospitably entertained ... being taken afterwards to galumph over the remains of the Antonine Wall. It also possesses a magnificent Greek Orthodox Cathedral, where the presiding priest is a former academic colleague of mine, Fr Mark Mitchell, a very fine Classicist ... a very fine Byzantinist ... and, I am confident, a very fine priest. 

What more could a Roman Pontiff ... or any visiting Argentinian ... want than Glasgow?

News spread yesterday (Remnant; Rorate Caeli) about the researches done by Diane Montagna into the genesis of Traditionis custodes. I have met Diane on a number of occasions, and judge her to be a superb and honest investigative journalist with good sources. The details and the conclusions she offers paint a picture of an institution mired in chronic mendacity. 

And this morning, reports suggest that PF is today inaugurating his Synodal Process.

Heady days!

I think a Woman From Mars would be perplexed about this process of 'synodal' consultation. It is supposed to be so very open ... open to those on peripheries ... to the lapsed ... to those, even, who are outside the Church. Yet, in Traditionis custodes, PF has just done his imaginative best to strangle one of the Catholic Church's most lively and dynamic tendencies ... one that seems to attract the elderly and the young and the very young; the learned and the unlettered. The WFM would, surely, marvel at an 'open consultation' immediately preceded by a violent attempt to close off and preclude one particular possible direction of travel.

I am surprised that nobody seems even to be discussing the integration into PF's 'Synodal' process of those who favour a liturgical tradition which, as Benedict XVI made clear, has never been canonically abrogated; laics and clerics who could make their own distinctive contribution to the multifarious contributions which will be made by favoured papal cronies.

And, as for peripheries, I wonder about the members ... including very many women ... who have been ejected without mercy from religious houses because they have been judged by 'infallible' Bergoglian Visitors to 'lack a vocation'. What members of what synodal structures have been allocated to hear and listen to the sacked nuns and friars of the Bergoglian ecclesial landscape? And to the lay people deprived of their ministry?

Or are all these officially now a category lower even than the furthest of the most distant peripheries? 

Lower even than pedophile cardinals, bishops, and priests?


[rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling]

Have the SSPX been offered a role in the synodal process?

9 October 2021


What a glorious day! The Feast/Solemnity of S John Henry Newman, Confessor.

For me, one of the most sacred spots in England is the little Oratory which is part of his Study within the Oratorian Palazzo in Birmingham. One side of the partition is the collection of his more personal books, memorials of the long life of study which linked his Anglican days with his Apostolate in the Catholic Church.

He insisted that this life was an unbroken continuum of opposition to Liberalism and Relativism. 

On the other side of that partition, accompanying him every morning to the Altar, was the art-work done for him by one of the closest of his life-long friends, Maria Giberne. 

Everybody has their favourite Newman books. I love the wickedly satirical Loss and Gain with its portrait of 1840s Oxford ... and his Development of Christian Doctrine. His sermon about the Second Spring still gets the tears pricking behind my eyes. And his Grammar of Assent seems to me to anticipate the insights towards which some philosophers of the first half of the twentieth century so laboriously  trudged. And his study of the Syllabus Errorum meticulously, 'surgically', analyses the magisterial status of that document and of every paragraph within it. Rarely read now, it is a superb example of S John Henry's fierce conviction of the necessity of obedience towards the Successor of S Peter, combined with a cold, 'legalist', and almost rationalist approach to exercises of the papal magisterium.

And Newman was a pastor; witness the care he took with souls who were much troubled by the hypersuperultrapapalists and their ridiculous exaggeration of the authority of Pio Nono.

S John Henry had to wait for the Election of Papa Pecci before he received proper honours. May we hope for a Leo XIV? Subito!

8 October 2021

Fresher (1)

The First Week of Term ... how long ago it seems when in 1960 I first came up to this Towery City, and branchy between towers, Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmed, lark-charmed, rook-racked, river-rounded .... Middle Grandson, who is just beginning his second year, does not have the gigantic bedroom and even larger sitting room which was my good fortune. For all I know, he may not even have been provided with cuckoos or larks.

Women undergraduates ... my impression is ... may only ever have had bed-sitters. Harriet Vane, returning for a Gaudy in 1935, found that she had been allocated the room of "... a Fresher with an urge for modernity and very little natural taste. The narrow bed ... was covered with drapery of a crude green colour and ill-considered futuristic pattern; a bad picture in the neo-archaic manner hung above it; a chromium-plated lamp of angular and inconvenient design swore acidly at the table and wardrobe provided by the college, which were of a style usually associated with the Tottenham Court Road; while the disharmony was crowned and accentuated by the presence, on the chest of drawers, of curious statuette or three-dimensional diagram carried out in aluminium, which resembled a gigantic and contorted corkscrew, and was labelled upon its base: ASPIRATION."

Well, we can't all appreciate Art Deco. My Father built himself an Art Deco house in the thirties and I remember it from my childhood after the War; but the flat 'International Modern' roof let the water in and the village children found ways of getting into the orchard and scrumping the apples ... we soon moved ...

But how did male undergraduates furnish their sitting rooms during the Interbellum? We shall explore that in a few days' time. Meanwhile, can the docti or doctae provide me with a Scholium on what was meant by "a style usually associated with the Tottenham Court Road"?

7 October 2021

Shoddy ...

D L Sayers describes the author of a book on Carlyle:

"No research at all ... and no effort at critical judgment. She has reproduced all the old gossip without troubling to verify anything. Slipshod, showy, and catchpenny ... But I believe, poor thing, she is very hard up."

Reminds me of Boris Johnson's book on Churchill. His motive for writing it appears to have been a desire to go down in History as Churchill Mark II who by Getting Brexit Done saved us from those villains across the Channel. And, d'you think, to pay for his wallpaper?

We've just had the Conservative Party Conference. Ms Patel being incredibly muscular about keeping illegal migrants out. But ... I'm sure I remember ... one of the main points of Brexit was that we would be in control of our own borders. So what is now the problem? And "Lord" Frost ranting about how the Northern Ireland Protocol we signed was totally unfair and if Johnny Foreigner doesn't agree to a radical revision, there are all sorts of things we can do to give JF a Bloody Nose.

Going back to Boris and his hero W S Churchill: I do rather enjoy Alternative Histories. If the Chrysanthemum Throne had not saved our bacon by doing a nastiness in Pearl Harbour and thus getting Uncle Sam off his backside, I wonder what the end of the European War would have been. 

A stalemated peace biased in Hitler's favour, sealed by the Fuehrer making a State Visit to Buck House? Extermination camps on the Isle of Man?

6 October 2021


It is not Nice always to be attacking people, so I am glad to be able to reset the balance with regard to President Biden.

Frankly, if I had an Ovoid Office and if it contained a bust, or, indeed, any sort of representation, in however many or few dimensions, of any member (even remote) of the Churchill Family, I would have had it removed. Just as Mr Biden, following Mr Obamama, has recently done. I would order it to be 'relocated' in the Staff Rest Room. Had the Taliban ever taken me into their confidence, I would have tentatively suggested to them the careful transfer of the Column of Victory in the grounds at Blenheim to ... er ...  ... no, I wouldn't really ... another joke in bad taste ...

In Bond Street, just a bit down from Sotheby's, there is a bronze representation of "Sir Winston", sitting beside Mr Rooseveldt. Whitherabouts, I wonder, should these two buddies be 'relocated'? Should they be joined by the figure of their genial chum and playmate Uncle Joe Stalin?

Incidentally, in Chips Channon's Diaries, recently made available to us, Churchill is described as "fat, brilliant, unbalanced, illogical, porcine". Thank goodness for our American cousins! Whatever would we do without them? And, of course, their ever-available heiresses.

So I have no complaints about Mr Biden's alterations in the Ovoid Office. But I am less sanguine about his claim "I am Irish". Since we can all have as many as 32 great great great grandparents (have I got that right?), anybody whose family has lived in North America for any period of time ... given a healthy dash of enthusiastic miscegenation ... must have an Irishman or an Irishwoman lurking in it somewhere. 

I doubt if Mr B is any more genuinely Irish than Vladimir Vladimirovich O'Putin.

5 October 2021



I feel fairly strongly that, when the long nightmare of Bergoglianity is eventually over, the last thing we want is some sort of revenge culture. The next Roman Pontiff should not be Pope Antifranciscus!

I would rather like the next Roman Pontiff to take the name Gamaliel, in memory of the admirable  Pharisee in Acts 5 who so wisely advised that the followers of the new Christian movement should not be persecuted out of existence: if this thing is of God, he thought, it will prosper.

The Spirit of Gamaliel was very much alive among the Franciscans of the Immaculate before the Vatican's cruel (and continuing) onslaught upon them. The Usus Authenticus was not part of their rule; it spread among them rather like ... well, rather as Christianity spread among that first, Jewish, generation of Christians. But there came the moment when it attracted the notice of the wolves. 

In the next pontificate, I hope for a degree of peace. I long for a Catholic culture in which the Faith is taught firmly but quietly and gently; in which the Holy Spirit is allowed to speak in the hearts of priests and people and religious without the Police hammering at the door. 

I hope for a pontificate in which the pope refrains from giving aircraft interviews; does not give interviews to loose-cannon journalists who don't even take notes; in which papal documents are very much rarer and more careful and are footnoted with sources a decent percentage of which will go back well beyond sixty years.

Hatred should not be given the sort of free rein which it has enjoyed in this pontificate. It should not be made possible for amused young cynics to make collections of the rhetorical excesses used by the pope ... or by anybody else ... to denigrate and humiliate fellow Catholics. Not even fellow clergy!

PF has left nobody in any doubt about whom ... and what ... he loaths, and with what visceral disgust he detests them. We can all, I hope, do without another raging, angry pontificate.

Personally, I would welcome a pontificate in which the Personality Cult of the reigning pope is considerably scaled down. Papal visits may be necessary or useful when there is a crisis of teaching or of communion which needs addressing (one thinks of Germany), but not as a regular institution.

And, in practical terms, we could do with a pope who listens (and even answers dubia!) rather than one whose natural idiom is to rant.

And one who, when he does open his mouth ... tells the truth. Wouldn't that be a treat!

4 October 2021

Keeping the Wolves at bay

I must confess it: I was shocked by the number of religious communities listed by Archbishop Vigano as having been mangled by the current regime in septem collibus. (How useful it is when a Nuncio decides to spill the beans ... is there an Italian proverbial expression analogous to our "spilling beans"?).

It is, frankly, upsetting to think of pious religious being dragged from their knees and interrogated; tricked by cunning and devious 'Visitors', whose agenda will include building up a case against their charism and spirituality, so that they can be dispersed or subjected to alien structures and patterns.

In the world of education, there are different but similar processes. If management decides to take steps against somebody, the victim is allowed to have (what is colloquially called) a 'prisoner's friend' present at the procedings. And also present will be an official of the victim's professional association. (The latter will make interjections with the formula "It is my member's view that ...". For some reason, I found the reiteration of the phrase "my member" more than a little comical.)

I was once a Prisoner's Friend. I enjoyed it immensely. The 'prisoner', very wisely, had efficiently maintained an extensive Paper Trail, which I was able to use, to devastating effect, against the Prosecution. I found the entire process incredibly [have you noticed how ubiquitous that adverb has become in the last few months?] exhilarating, rather like taking a powerful drug. (Not, of course, that I have ever done that.) We won!

Visitated religious, I realise, are not formally being forensically prosecuted. They might have more protections if they were! But I think the parallels are close enough to merit the following suggestion.

When the interrogation of each Visitated individual Victim is taking place, that Victim should be accompanied by a sympathetic and acute canon lawyer who has been carefully briefed on the particular circumstances. That canonist would be able to spot devious snares and traps and to give useful advice on dealing with them. And he/she would have the opportunity of building up an overall picture of the case being built up; of how the Victims are, to use S John Henry Newman's phrase, being "practised upon" both individually and collectively.

I know that this would not be quite within the Spirit of Peronism. Could we live with that?

My readers would rise up in fury against me if I were, even in the merest jollity and fun, to use such a phrase as "Banana Pontificate". Idcirco talem opinionem omnino praetereo. But will anybody deny that the life of Christ's Church would be strengthened ... and purged ... if a dash of our Anglo-Saxon tradition of openness in public affairs were introduced in atria domus Domini?

2 October 2021

Atcherleee ...

From a stylish English writer in the mid-thirties who had a fair bit of experience of youff:

"They found [him] a tornado of well-bred apologies, all punctuated with an irritating repetition of the word 'actually' -- a habit of modern youth, particularly when it is lying."

I do find these usages fascinating, until they become infuriating. As readers are aware, I am sick to death of Y'know; there is a Beeb programme in which members of the chattering classes comment on the stories in the first editions of the following day's papers. Most of these people are young women with squeaky vowels and a limited tonal range, and ... er ...

Some of them use a new and stylish adverb: particully.

When I was in teaching, I deemed it professionally insulting if I caught myself speaking in this sort of way, even (or a fortiori?) to beta minus students. Yet Mary Beard does it all the time; apparently deliberately, to establish an atmosphere of unpompous intimacy ... or, if not that, of what? Educate me.

"To be frank" and "To be honest" always provoke me to inner mirth because of their plain, ingenuous admission that the rest of what that speaker says is naturally to be taken as unfrank or dishonest. Or am I misunderstanding some more profound linguistic trope? Did Tully ever say ut vera loquar? I think he may have done ...

Talking about profundity ... Before the US election, Mr Trump, accepting the Republican nomination, said "I profoundly accept". 

Ahhhhhhh ... happy days .....

1 October 2021

Jorge and the Jews

Some viewers of the Internet may have been puzzled to find that PF is currently the recipient of strong criticism from some Jewish quarters. Surely, such a kindly gentleman whose universal love ...

I am not at all puzzled. In 2016 I contributed a paper to that year's Gardone Conference, subsequently published in  Luther and his progeny, 2017, ed. John Rao, pub. Angelico Press. I am surprised that it has taken so long for this subject to become a matter of public controversy. I am glad I am not Cardinal Koch.

Let me explain PF's big problem. On the one hand, he ... of course ... like all the Nice and the Good ... loves Jews and desires his love to be manifest and accepted and reciprocated. On the other hand, he loves to attack those in the Church whom he hates, smiting them with the accusation that they are rigid and unloving and hypocrites. He does this by bracketing them with the Pharisees of the time of the Lord's Incarnation. "You are just like those whom Christ so fiercely criticised" is his eternal refrain. "By opposing me, you also oppose Christ."

So it is not surprising that he gets his knickers in such a twist.

In my 2016 paper, I quoted a passage from his Bull of Indiction of his Year of Mercy.

"Before [S Paul] met Christ on the road to Damascus, he dedicated his whole life to fulfilling in every way the Righteousness of the Torah [Lex]. But, converted to Christ, he so radically [prorsus] changed his mind that he wrote in his Letter to the Galatians: 'We have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we are made righteous out of Faith in Christ and not out of works prescribed by the Torah.' Paul turns totally upside down the basic idea of Righteousness [rationem iustitiae omnino evertit]. He puts in the first place, not now the Torah, but Faith. Keeping the Torah does not save, but Faith in Christ Jesus, who through His death and resurrection brings His salvation through the Mercy which makes righteous."

My paper also explains how poorly PF's views, like those of Luther, have stood up to the renaissance in Pauline studies associated with the name of 'Ed' Sanders in the last half-century. 

Having strong views but a fragile grasp upon Catholic Doctrine makes one rather vulnerable to such confusions. 

I have not forgotten the disrespectful attack by the CBCEW on Pope Benedict's Prayer for the Jews.


Lethal Typists

What a jolly story in today's news, the one about the 'feisty' [nowadays, a must-have word for every right-thinking woman] little old German lady in her late nineties who legged it from her care home just hours before the scheduled beginning of her trial in North Germany. She is charged with having, as an eighteen-year-old, worked in the admin department of an extermination camp.

Herr von Plod did catch up with her. I wonder whither she was heading ... to that much-storied Last Nazi Redoubt somewhere in the Alps, perhaps?

Perhaps they will confiscate her zimmer-frame to ensure that she now faces justice without further mishap. Her escapade, of course, ensures that her trial will receive more coverage than might otherwise have been the case.

Personally, I believe that the Shoah was such a horrible act of monstrous evil that even a typist who merely made up the lists should have to answer for her conduct. However aged she is. 

Every single Jew who was exterminated deserves at least this modest expiation.

Just as I like to hope that, be it ever so long after my own death, the nice young ladies who with elegant efficiency confect the Operating Rotas in our fine modern British Abortion Clinics will be given the opportunity to explain themselves.