30 November 2021

S Andrew

I often celebrate today's great feast by reminding you of the Reconciliation of England by Cardinal Pole in 1554 and the restoration of Catholicism at Durham by the Northern Rebels temp Bloody Bess Tudor, which both happened on this day. And I like dwelling upon the popularity of S Andrew in old English Church dedications, which is probably due to the influence of the Gregorian (and hence andreaphile) liturgical texts brought to England by the Augustinian Mission (whereabouts in Rome did that little band of monks come from?). Happy the City of Hexham: its great Abbey founded by S Wilfrid meant that, on the Kalendar of the English Catholic Church before the 1950s, S Andrew, Titular of the Church, is observed within the City as a Double of the First Class with an Octave (which, on December 7, had no qualms about superseding as a Greater Double the Vigil of our Lady and the celebration of S Ambrose). 

And I lament the fact that modern Novus Ordo arrangements seem specifically designed to eliminate totally, always and everywhere, any celebration of a Sunday External Solemnity of the Apostle even in places ... or countries!! ... where he is Patron. 

Yes; no wonder Louis Bouyer referred to les trois maniaques who galumphed around during the 'reform' of the Calendar in the 1960s.

Yesterday, I recorded the Existence of a Vigil for S Andrew before Bugnini and Papa Pacelli abolished it. In Sarum S Andrew also had an Octave. And (also in Sarum) on an adjacent Sunday, the 'Andrean' Gospel now preserved only in the Book of Common Prayer (John 6:5sqq) survived. S Andrew really did have quite a 'season'! (Compare the 'Petrine' Gospel, Luke 5:1sqq, which occupied a Sunday near S Peter's Day, on Trinity 5 and on Pentecost 4.)

Why did the post-Conciliar nasties have such a prejudice against the Protoclete?

But this year, on his Feast, I offer you a purely Anglican oddity.

The old Roman Collect for today, a most elegant composition, prayed that S Andrew might be "a perpetual intercessor for us in thy sight". Cranmer had by 1549 moved beyond talk of saintly intercession; so he replaced this collect with
Almightie God, which hast geuen such grace to thy Apostle saynct Andrew, that he counted the sharp and painful death of the crosse to be an high honour, and a great glory; Graunt us to take and esteme all troubles and adversities which shal come unto us for thy sake, as things proffytable for us toward the obtaining of euerlasting life.

Just a couple of years later, he replaced this with the current Anglican collect which is based upon the ready obedience of S Andrew in following the Lord's call.

Here is my take on this. When the entire structure of our thinking radically develops ... when conceptually we make a big jump ... just as when an ill-advised pope decides to inflict a 'paradigm shift' ... not every part of our previously held set of assumptions changes instantly and automatically. Some areas and some assumptions lag behind and need subsequently to catch up and to be made consistent with the new structure.

In 1549, Cranmer had put behind him the idea of asking God for a share in the intercessions of the Saints; OK. So that idea went.

But the full narrowness of the Protestant preoccupation with sola scriptura was dawdling behind a little in his mind. He had spent his life assuming that S Andrew was martyred upon a cross ... as most of England's churches demonstrated in their iconography. And so the traditional account of S Andrew's martyrdom was still part of the furniture of his mind; and it became the basis of the 1549 collect. 

He knew better by 1552.

More: could there also be just a weeny hint of Merit in the second half of that 1549 collect? A suggestion that the 'work' of accepting 'troubles and adversities'  might be 'proffytable' for 'the obtaining of euerlasting life? 

Would the fraterculus Martinus have raised a bit of an eyebrow? 

28 November 2021

Drop down ye heavens from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness

I wish my readers a very holy and devout Advent.

Three decades at Lancing left me with haunting memories of each Advent starting with the choir leading us in the unforgettable melodies and texts of the Advent Prose ... which you can, of course, now findin the Ordinariate Missal. The rubric suggests that it be used as a Processional (the old-style Anglo-Catholicism of my childhood loved having splendid if rather pointless processions in which the Vicar tottered round the Church behind choir and servers, from the Altar and back to the Altar). Or, the rubric suggests, it might be used elsewhere in the Mass, or on any of the Sundays in Advent; and on the fourth Sunday it may replace the Introit, of which it is in fact an expanded version. So there you go.

Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever; thy holy cities are a wilderness, Sion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation: our holy and our beautiful house, wherein our fathers praised thee.

Somehow, as the English winter sets in, my mind reflects upon the winter of this sad pontificate; the gusts of fear and the wildernesses of intimidation, the cold indifference to the Faith and hostility to Truth even in high places; bare trees and shrivelled buds. Is it my fault? Our fault? We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing. You must speak for yourself, but I know for certain that I am. But I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people; my salvation shall not tarry; I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions; fear not, for I will save thee: for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy one of Israel, thy Redeemer.

My salvation shall not tarry. 

The spring days and the warming sun are sorely hindered by our sins and wickedness, but we pray that His bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us*.

*Thus the somewhat flabby translation of the Advent IV collect, altered after Cranmer, found in our Missal; the more taut Latin original is "quod nostra peccata praepediunt, indulgentia tuae propitiationis acceleret". Lovely alliteration. Good cursus, with two matching and interlocking examples of tardus.

27 November 2021

The Miraculous Medal

The Propers granted by Leo XIII included this hymn ad Matutinum; it is remniniscent of the Latin style of that admirable pontiff (h/t to Ansgerus):

Tutela praesens omnium,/ Salvete Mater Numinis;/ Intacta in Hevae filiis,/ Tu foeda munda pectora.

Numisma quos ornat tuum,/ Fove benigno lumine;/ Virtus sit inter proelia/ Aigisque in hostes praepotens.

Sit flentibus solatium,/ Aegris levamen artubus./ In mortis hora, fulgidae/ Aeternitatis sponsio.

Iesu, tuam qui finiens/ Matrem dedisti servulis,/ Precante Matre, filiis/ Largire caeli gaudia. 

At the end of the first stanza, munda is the verb and foeda agrees with pectora!!

Nice to think of the miraculous medal as an aegis, yes?

The Introit of the Mass is Exodus 13:9: the words of Moses to the liberated people of Israel.

25 November 2021


I must confess that I have not conducted an exhaustive survey of the available literature on Edward VIII, Wallis Simpson, or their sexuality. But the impression I get from what I have looked at suggests that a masterful sexual dominance on his part was not the most obvious public element in their relationship. 

In Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy Sayers (it was 'completed' by J Paton Walsh), the relationship between Rosamund and Laurence Harwell appears to be so structured as to evoke some elements of that between Edward and Wallis. She controls the relationship. She calls the shots, and there are elements of suppliancy and subordination in Lawrence. "It was true that happiness had often to be wooed, pleaded for, struggled for; but he took it for granted that a woman was made like that -- she did not come half-way to meet desire ... she shrank instinctively from passion, but her shrinking inflamed it ... Since every act of love was an act of compliance, it was right to be grateful for it -- her surrender was so beautiful -- an intoxicating compliment that filled one with a perpetual consciousness of achievement. For the territory was never won; Alexander , had he been a lover, need never have lacked for new worlds to conquer -- it would have given him sufficient exercise to reconquer the same world over and over again.

"There were moments when Harwell found the endless ever-renewed warfare exhausting. To come so near, to achieve a conquest so absolute, and then, never to sit and enjoy his heritage in peace, but to find himself battering at the defences again ... She could always, of course, bring him to heel by witholding herself ...

"'But of course I love you for yourself, dearest,' he said desperately, coming over to her. 'How can you possibly think anything else? Oh, damn that telephone! Rosamund, listen ...'

"'Sure?' She smiled over his head as he knelt, in agitated surrender at the bedside, while the bell shrilled unheeded.

"'Certain. ... Surely I've proved it by this time.'

"Her face hardened. She said coldly, 'Hadn't you better answer the telephone?'" 

The two couples, the Wimseys and the Harwells, go to their respective theatres in Paris. The Harwells, at the Grand Guignol, see a melodrama about a woman who murders ... apparently, strangles ... her lover. They find 'the strangling scene' so "terribly exciting" that Rosamund is wriggling with sexual excitement in the homeward-bound taxi. 

The Wimseys, on the other hand, do not need staged kinks to remind them that they are married. They are united in finding the taxi ride to their theatre ... the Comedie-Francaise ... disappointingly rapid. Attempts to elucidate their dialogue ... about worms ... might be inappropriate on as respectable a Family Blog as this one.

Paul Delagardie, who, like any proper old gentleman, goes to the Folies, is reassured that legs ..."and breasts, for that matter ... had improved very much since his young days; for one thing, you see a great deal more of them."

One more episode (in which I will confess to a slight bibliographical uncertainty) ... should finish this topic.

24 November 2021

ORDO, ORDO! Doth BETJEMAN still live?

(1) The happy day has arrived when comes plopping onto our doormats the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO. I enthusiastically commend this admirable publication to readers who are not already familiar with it.

It gives 2021-2022 according to the Calendar of the Roman Rite as it existed in 1939; that is, before Ven Pius XII acquired the collaboration of Hannibal Bugnini and began the series of changes which ended up with the Missal of S Paul VI. OK, you might not be in a position to use this ORDO; you might not even wish to use it; but it is quite an education to visit a world of First Vespers, Vigils, Octaves ... the world our fortunate forefathers inhabited for centuries. Frankly, you will hardly imagine how different that world was. 

When I once looked through the dusty piles of 1930s Parish Magazines at my last Anglican parish, S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford, I suddenly realised that the liturgical information provided weekly by Dr Jalland was what one now can only find in the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO! This is the Liturgy as it was practised by the great Anglo-Catholic Shrine Churches (and Shrine priests) in the bright triumphalist years between the Wars, "...  under the Travers Baroque, in a lime-washed whiteness, The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays, Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness, The bells and banners - those were the waking days When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze."

(2) The Latin Mass Society of GB ORDO. The rites of 1962 as encouraged by Summorum Pontificum.

(3) American ... No Publisher cited ... I think it is SSPX ... Ordo Divini Officii persolvendi missaeque Sacrificii peragendi, but text in English. Also 1962. It includes (which (2) doesn't) information for owners of pre-1960 Breviaries about which bits to miss out because the legislation of the period around 1960 removed them. Gives the local additions for English speaking dioceses throughout the world.

(3) The ORDO I compile: Novus Ordo  information and Church of England information from post 1960. Lots of notes recommending 'traddy' ways of doing these modern rites. Contains the 1961 Office Lectionary I describe in the next paragraph.

(4) Newish (its second year in this form) kid on the block ... the Ordinariate ORDO. The English Ordinariate has now, happily, come into line with the American and Australian Ordinariates in providing its information for the Divine Office from the Church of England's 1961 Office Lectionary, which was based on the lectionary traditions of the Latin Church in the years after S Gregory the Great. (3) also contains this Lectionary.

Its page 87 seems to me strangely familiar ... some arrangements and options remind me of something I've seen elsewhere ... 

It would have been nice if they had given me an acknowledgement!! I am only human!!

23 November 2021


 "A divorced American with painted nails and plucked eyebrows, living in a flat."

These words are recorded as the opinion of George V concerning Wallis Simpson. It seems to me that there are some interesting undertones in Christian literature of the 1930s and early 1940s, about living in a flat. 

Jane Studdock lived in a flat. It had but "a small kitchen". It had no guest room; she and Mark slept in twin beds. "She had always intended to continue her own career as a scholar after she was married: that was one of the reasons why they were to have no children, at any rate for a long time yet." Her prim and programmed sterility is so manifest a characteristic that Merlin redivivus sees her as "the falsest lady of any at this time alive"; assured that she is "chaste" and need not be decapitated, he responds that the child destined to be born of her union "will never be born, for the hour of its begetting is passed. Of their own will they are barren: I did not know till now that the usages of Sulva were so common among you."

Lewis, whose humour is often at its deadliest when it is understated, draws to our attention that this very Modern girl sees no contradiction between her own willed sterility and her projected doctoral thesis on Donne's "triumphant vindication of the body". "Jane was not, perhaps, a very original thinker".

Sayers' satire is as cruel and targetted as that of Lewis. Her own aesthetic prejudices well to the fore, she allows the "thrilled" Rosamund Harwell to explain the advantages of living in "Hyde House, the big new block in Park Lane ... its appointments constitute a positive miracle of convenience." "We have spacious rooms, and no kitchen at all -- we can eat in the restaurant on the first floor, or get our meals sent up. We have no difficulty with servants, because the service is all run for us. All the heating is electric. It is just like being in a hotel, except that we can have our own furniture. We have a lot of chrome and glass things, and lovely modern curtains designed by Ben Nicholson, and some Susie Cooper vases. The management even keep the cocktail cabinet fully stocked for us; we don't have a large one, of course, just a very neat design in walnut with a built-in wireless set and a little shelf for books."

The Wimseys share a moment of amusement at the thought of the intellectual adequacy to be expected of the books upon "a little shelf".

Sterility is as important to Rosamund Hartwell as to Jane Studdock. Her husband would like a child, but "It's so wonderful, just you and me, and if anything, anything at all came to divide our happiness ... Oh, Laurence, I'm so glad we've had all this out. It's such a relief. So long as I've got you I don't want anything more ..."

There is rather more to say about the sexuality of the Harwells, and, indeed, of Wallis Simpson and her admirer. Not to mention George V.

To continue.

22 November 2021

S Andrew is Imminent. But I am puzzled.

 I gather Eamon Duffy has published yet another volume of his Collected Papers, including one which refers to the "rebellions" under poor Bessy Tudor. Time to visit Blackwells, find a comfy chair, and read it! I love the little detail that it was on S Andrew's Day that the "rebels" restored the Catholic Religion to Durham Cathedral. Will Duffy mention that?

S Andrew may be the Patron of Scotland, but his cultus was an enormous part of the Augustinian Mission to Anglia. He is a very popular Dedication in England; the Leofric Missal, which probably began life as a Canterbury pontifical, even includes a special Secret and Preface of S Andrew for use in the Consecration of Churches. Here is the Preface, for those of you who are interested in such things.

VD ... Obsecrantes ut haec atria tuis initianda sacramentis propitius semper aspitias et implorantibus opem tuam misericors largiaris praecipue cum huius basilice presul adscitus venerabilis andreas oblator existat. Qui beati petri principis apostolice dignitatis et felicibus uitae primordiis et caelestis honore collegii et magnifico permanet fine germanus.

"Praying that thou wilt ever look upon these courts which are to be hallowed for [or by?] thy sacraments, and, merciful, wilt grant thy help to those who ask it, particularly since worshipful Andrew adopted as the bishop [Patron?] of this basilica is offerer. Who remains the brother of blessed Peter Prince of Apostolic dignity both in the happy beginnings of life and in the honor of the heavenly college and in their magnificent end."

This stumblingly literal rendering will reveal how many points there are at which I am not really sure what precisely the author is getting at. But the last sentence, in my view, is a lovely piece of Latin, which makes me feel that it is worth the effort to try to suss out the rest.

For example ... I was tempted to emend oblator to orator. But oblator does exist in ecclesiastical Latin from Tertullian onwards.

So I invite the competent ... put away the Times crossword ... drop your Sudoku ... do it now ... here are some worthy puzzles.




21 November 2021

Anti-semitism in the Middle Ages and the twentieth century

I repeat today a piece I offered several years ago; it relates to the early medieval lectionary readings for the Sunday Next Before Advent. 

I think I am the only person who comments upon these ancient readings and their ancient message, which is why I beg indulgence for my ancient repetitiousness.

Most Sundays' Sarum/Prayer Book lections are basically the same as those in the Missal of S Pius V, although with dislocations which put Epistles and Gospels onto different Sundays.

But sometimes, there is a real difference from the Pian lectionary. This happens on the Sunday Next Before Advent, when Sarum (followed by the Prayer Book) and many other Northern European uses has a quite different provision. In these uses we find an Epistle (well, actually, a Lesson from Jeremiah) and a Gospel (from S John) which both moved around a bit in the Middle Ages but pretty well always came just before or just at the start of Advent, as a taster and a preliminary for that season. Their loss is an impoverishment even in the Missal of S Pius V and, a fortiori, in the Novus Ordo.

I will explain the importance of these readings in the words of Abbot Rupert of Deutz (1075- 1129) - a considerable mystagogue. I believe that we can learn from his words about what Scripture and the Tradition teach concerning the redemption of our Jewish brethren, in greater detail than we can learn it from the fumbling (but not unorthodox) Nostra aetate or silly (non-Magisterial) documents from Rome.

"Holy Church is so intent on paying her debt of supplication, and prayer, and thanksgiving, for all men, as the Apostle demands, that we find her giving thanks also for the salvation of the children of Israel, who, she knows, are one day to be united with her. And, as their remnants are to be saved at the end of the world, so, on this last Sunday of the Year, she delights at having them, just as though they were already her members! In the Introit, calling to mind the prophecies concerning them, she sings each year: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Verily, his thoughts are those of peace, for he promises to admit to the banquet of his grace, the Jews, who are his brethren according to the flesh; thus realising what had been prefigured in the history of the patriarch Joseph. The brethren of Joseph, having sold him, came to him, when they were tormented by hunger; for then he ruled over the whole land of Egypt; he recognised them, he received them, and made, together with them, a great feast; so too, our Lord who is reigning over the whole earth, and is giving the bread of life, in abundance, to the Egyptians, (that is, to the gentiles), will see coming to him the remnants of the children of Israel. He, whom they had denied and put to death, will admit them to his favour, will give them a place at his table, and the true Joseph will feast delightedly with his brethren.

"The benefit of this divine table is signified, in the office of this Sunday, by the Gospel, which tells us of the Lord's feeding the multitude with five loaves. For it will be then that Jesus will open to the Jews the five books of Moses, which are now being carried whole and not yet broken - yea, carried by a child, that is to say, this people itself, who, up to that time, will have been cramped up in the narrowness of a childish spirit.

"Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremias, which is so aptly placed before this gospel: They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but, The Lord liveth, which brought up, and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north-country, and from all countries whither I have driven them.

"Thus delivered from the spiritual bondage which still holds them, they will sing with their heart, the words of thanksgiving as we have them in the Gradual: It is thou, O Lord, that savest us from our enemies!

"The words we use in the Offertory: Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord, clearly allude to the same events; for, on that day, his brethren will say to the great and true Joseph: We beseech thee to forget the wickedness of thy brethren! The Communion: Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and it shall be done unto you, is the answer made by that same Joseph, as it was by the first: Fear not! Ye thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present ye see, and might save many people. Fear not, therefore, I will feed you, and your children.
" (The Reading is Jeremiah 23:5 ff; the Gospel, John 6: 5 ff, is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. My translations of the propers are taken from the Book of Common Prayer and the good old English Missal.)

This is a superb exposition, in the biblical and patristic 'typological' idiom, of an important theme in Pauline eschatology - see Romans 9-11. The crucial passage, Romans 11:25-28, is omitted from the Novus Ordo Sunday lectionaries. There is significance, I suspect, in the fact that modern lectionaries delicately step around this Biblical theme: the Eschatological Submission of the Jews to the Call of Christ. 

Sometimes I feel that, despite the call for a "richer table of Scripture" in Sacrosanctum concilium, the Scriptures read to the People of God have in some respects, paradoxically, been made conceptually narrower in the post-conciliar books. I commend (yet again) to the reader the fine Index Lectionum by Matthew Hazell ... a must-have for anybody seriously concerned with Liturgy. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback).

20 November 2021

Ou est la Moutarde?

Last year, the Archbishop of Dijon (Yes!!) expelled some clergy from his diocese because they refused ever to concelebrate with him.

In one sense, this is interesting news, because it implies that we now have a generation of senior prelates who have not even read the Conciliar documents of Vatican II.

But it is sad to witness a new wave of persecution. And ... even more worryingly ... his Grace claimed that his actions are merely a prolepsis of what PF was shortly to enact (Traditionis custodes had not then been published.)

I do not believe that Concelebration is something which we all need to avoid, totally and invariably, as an absolutely essential  matter of conscience. From time to time, I republish old pieces which make clear the Magisterial basis of my belief.

But the Dijon deed is darkly dirty.

You see, what his Grace is doing is to use the old dodge, beloved of persecutors, of the Trick Question. 

I have heard of a Scandinavian Lutheran ordinand who was suspected of having doubts about the Ordination of Women. His 'bishop' dealt with the matter by calling in his 'chaplain', a 'womanpriest', to celebrate the 'Eucharist' there and then on the study table, so that the young man could demonstrate his conformity and submission by 'communicating'.

During the penal times in our own country, Recusants hauled before the courts could get the Tudor law off their backs by simply ... going to Church! Elizabeth Tudor did not, indeed, make windows into men's souls; they could believe what they liked, but they must conform together with the rest of the community.

And when Recusant clergy were being tortured, there was often the Bloody Question: "If England were invaded by an army blessed by the Pope, in order to remove Elizabeth, would you fight for your Queen or for your Pope?"

I humbly urge brother priests not be fooled by such malevolent tricks.

To be honest, my own weakness has always been for la Mostarda di Cremona.

19 November 2021

Slippery slopes

A kind benefactor once sent me a 1957 ORDO - beautifully bound - of the Province of San Antonio (my guess is that that is in America Septentrionalis). That ORDO has a number of Roman documents printed at the beginning of it revealing that 1957 is a most significant year. It comes just after the first major footmarks were printed upon the Roman Rite by that towering Punic figure, Hannibal 'Non-sum-delendus' Bugnini. The new Holy Week Order had emerged not long before and was to be observed in accordance with a decree of the SCR of 15 March 1956. 

This 'reform' was in fact more radical than the reforms that followed Vatican II; however, the producers of that Holy Week book got away with it because the vast bulk of God's People had for centuries not attended the liturgical Rites of Holy Week; in many places only a lay and clerical elite had done so. And what happens only once a year may anyway not be quite as deeply inscribed within you as what marks your Christian life weekly or daily. 

Less well known is the Decree Cum nostra of the SCR (March 23 1955) simplifying the rubrics of the Missal and Breviary. Tucked away in the Decree is a bit of methodology that was to prove the weapon of first choice among the radical liturgists of the mid-twentieth century: these changes were imposed by, but not confected by, the mandarins of the SCR; they were actually devised by a special (peculiaris) Commissio of experts (periti) - which included Annibale nostro

This was when a scythe cut through all but seven vigils and all but three octaves. Commemorations were not to exceed three. First Vespers were abolished except in the case of first and second class feasts and Sundays. What we now call an 'optional memoria' was invented. Variable Last Gospels were, except at Christmas, abolished. 

Of course my list does not include a myriad of details which, so much has our liturgical culture changed, would now require a great deal of exegesis for many readers. The Bugninis of this world are always best at the broad brush. Because periti had devised these 'reforms' (and not the hands-on pedants of SCR whose entire lives had been spent spotting in advance how a minute twitch upon the Calendar here would have a consequence there), there were innumerable unforeseen knock-on effects. Dubia streamed into the offices of the SCR and Responsa had to be issued less than three months later. 

There are signs that the mandarins had rightly become suspicious of the slipshod workmanship of the Commissio; this time they asked the views of the Commissio but then carefully themselves went through the matters that had been raised. But that did not prevent a new crop of dubia being thrown up when the attempt was made to put the Decree into effect for a complete liturgical year (Advent 1956-Advent 1957). Perhaps by now the SCR was getting embarrassed at having to cart admissions of shoddy drafting down to the editorial offices of Acta Apostolicae Sedis; the next crop of Responsa was published only in Ephemerides Liturgicae, and the Cardinal Prefect of the SCR apparently didn't bother to sign it or have it sealed. 

The period from 1955 until 1967 is a single, coherent, period of slashing and ripping which became ever wilder and ever less respectful of the liturgical inheritance of the Latin Church. People say that it is the first act of embezzlement or adultery that can be difficult; then one soon gets comfortably into the culture of it. Something very similar is true of liturgical 'reform'. The 1955 Decree already includes those sinister words generalis instauratio liturgica. That Decree, and the Missal of 1962, and the Conciliar document Sacrosanctum Concilium, and the Novus Ordo, are all simply episodes in a roller-coaster ride that very quickly got completely out of control and clearly would have done so if no Council had ever been summoned. Even Mgr Lefebvre failed to recognise this until he was already almost in the water at the bottom of the big slope. 

Pius XII was the (albeit unconscious) begetter of the Novus Ordo.

18 November 2021

Chantry Foundations in late Medieval England (2)

Among the impressive relics of the Percy family, who dominated the North of England until the jealous Welsh eyes of the Tudors fell upon them, is Warkworth Castle. It keeps watch, its (intact) Great Tower for all the world like a skyscraper keeping a lordly eye over all Manhatten, over the eiderducks and curlews and waders and oyster catchers of the meres surrounding the estuary of the River Coquet. And, just up the river, is "The Hermitage".

I'm confident that it wasn't a hermitage; the first documentary evidence (1487) describes it as a chantry. It is carved out of the living rock, which has limited the degree of decay into which it has been able to fall. It is a chapel with what is identified as a side-chapel to the North of it; attached is a dwelling just like a substantial house in miniature: kitchen, screens passage, hall on the ground floor; above, solar adjoining the chapel. From the solar there are four slits through the West wall of the chapel enabling worshippers there to partake in Holy Mass.

Imagine that you are standing at the Altar offering the Holy Sacrifice. Immediately to your left (North) is a wall opening with expensive tracery (and ferramenta suggesting that it was glazed) offering a view of the action of the Mass to somebody kneeling and facing South in the possible side-chapel. Immediately to your right (South), occupying the sill of a window which looks onto the outside, is an almost life-sized piece of sculpture which has, I think plausibly, been discerned as a Nativity scene: our Lady in child-bed with S Joseph at the foot (West) of her bed, and (much eroded) manger animals behind her (i.e. to her South).

Somebody kneeling in the 'side-chapel' would look out through the ornate tracery directly onto the Altar and the celebrant, and beyond the priest would see the almost life-sized (and certainly richly painted) Nativity scene. If there was no priest saying Mass, the viewer would look directly onto the Nativity scene ... rather like kneeling at the Crib.

This set up a lot of queries in my mind. Do learned readers know of parallels to a set-up in which a privileged worshipper looking out onto an altar from its left would be provided with a sumptuous devotional object of devotion the other side of the altar? Do you know of other chantry chapels a few hundred yards along a river from a noble family residence? At Alnwick, there was Alnwick Abbey a stone's throw from the enormous Percy Castle there: might the chantry at Warkworth serve a purpose there which would be served at Alnwick by the nearby Abbey? The Percys were not buried in Northumberland: does a sumptuous chantry provide a substitute (a sort of cenotaph) for the opportunity to pray at the burial place of ones forebears? Might the Earl have gone to Chapel to make his confession?

What I am particularly after is evidence and parallels.

17 November 2021

Mucky deeds

I enjoyed the report about the Catalan bishop who has run away with a 'sexologist' and is now employed by a firm which markets pig semen. (I trust the firm is kosher.) But I dismissed it as a crude Bergoglian attempt to destroy Eccles is saved by undercutting it. So I am relieved that Eccles (short for Ecclesiasticus?) has bounced back with a launch of the Arthur Roche for Pope campaign.

It has been suggested, I gather, that this could be the only really water-tight way of preventing him from succeeding Vin at Westminster.

Philological glamour pusses

What an important saint he was, S Hugh Bishop of Lincoln (c1135-1200; within whose massive diocese medieval Oxford lay); who certainly consecrated the church of S Giles in this city in 1200. On the occasion of this visit to Oxford, so the traditional account has it, he instituted the Giler*, still one of the largest fairs in England, which occupies the whole of the broad thoroughfare called S Giles' Street, North of the North Gate.

S Hugh is best known among the narrators of 'romantic' tales because he noticed that the body of Henry II's paelex [in the form pellicem, apparently from the Greek pallax, it is the word used in the old rite Mattins readings for S Hugh's feast] Rosamund Clifford had been buried in the sanctuary of Godstow Priory and that her resting place had become something of a flower-covered and candle-bedecked  popular shrine (this mob adulation post mortem of a royal glamour-puss is curiously redolent of the bizarre and sick cultus of Diana Spencer).

I wonder why Sex and Death, in combination, have such power over the human imagination. Something deep here.

S Hugh ordered that her body be removed and reburied outside in loco profano. "to the end that religion be not vilified and that other women might be terrified from such adulterous practices".** Happy times ... when ecclesiastics were willing to mark their disapproval of the public adultery of kings and magnates. The old Sarum collect (still in use in diocesan calendars of the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite) prays that eius exempla nos provocent ... but who are we to judge?

On the eve of the Dissolution, the priory was a popular place for the education of young noblewomen; the river would have made it accessible ... might we call it Oxford's first Women's College? A sort of ProtoHildas or UrSomerville? 

The 'romantic' can still visit the ruins of Godstow Priory, opposite the Trout, a favourite undergraduate pub in our days but now unhappily devoid of either 'character' or 'romance'.

Giles = Giler; traditional Oxford slang. Cf. Proctor = Progger; Breakfast = Brekker; Queens = Quaggers; Jesus College = Jaggers; etc.. Soccer (for AsSOCiation Football) and Rugger survive nationally. Fr Hummerstone, with characteristic philological acuity, once reminded me of the all-important Wagger Pagger Bagger where, in the primitive days before episcopal and diocesan communications became paperless, we used to ... er ... file away the weighty musings of our episcopal mentors.

** I wonder if S Hugh wrote Latin Elegiacs? An inscription in that metre incised upon her tomb is recorded, which I will very loosely paraphrase in English: "Rosa munda is supposed to mean clean rose, but this specimen was distinctly filthy. She used to have a very nice smell, but now she just ... smells". 

Do you think Rosa Mundi might bear a suggestion of gyne pandemios?

One account tells us that "It bifel that she died and was buried while the king was absent. And whanne he cam agen, for grete love that he had to yr, he wolde se the bodye in the grave, and wan the grave was opened, there sate an orible tode upon her breste bytwene hir teetys, and a foule adder bigirt hir body about in the midle. And she stanke so that the kyng, ne non other, might stond to se that oryble sight." [I suppose this story could be a back-formation from the inscription supra.]

They knew how to tell a story in those days. A bit Grimm.

Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a learned lady, and I bet she imbibed at the Trout ... unchaperoned, d'you think? 

I wonder if she had a reason for giving the name Rosamund (interpreted by Sayers as rosa mundi) to the sexually unwholesome murderee (thoughts of strangling really stir her up) in Thrones, Dominations? The original Rosamunda, according to late legends, died when the jealous Queen offered her the choice between a dagger and a bowl of poison; she chose the poison. 

Oh gracious me ... they really did know how to tell a story in those days.

16 November 2021

Chantry Foundations in late Medieval England (1)

Beside the River Till in Northumberland stand the remains of Etal Castle, maintained by the Manners family and granted a licence to crenellate in 1341 (it passed by marriage to the barony of Roos in 1495). [[In a converted Presbyterian Chapel which has been converted into an Interpretation centre, there is a lot of stuff about the Battle of Flodden, which happened nearby. Laudably, Heraldry is given an appropriate look-in. Among the arms displayed are those of the Scotch nobles who died in that battle; they include those of Archbishop Stewart ... who is shown as bearing Scotland without any difference. Surely this is improbable. And Bishop Hepburn of the Isles is shown with his family arms. Surely, in any case, these prelates had and used diocesan arms?]]

What really interested me was the fact that, a little way along the river, there are the ruins of "S Mary's Chantry Chapel". The main reason for this post and the one which will follow is to ask my erudite readership if they can think of parallels to chantry foundations a little way along a river from a castle. A future post will describe a comparable but more substantial foundation nearby. Additionally, there is the rock-chapel of our Lady of the Crag, just along the river from Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire. Friends have suggested I should consider foundations at Grinton and Wakefield.

But I can't leave Etal behind without one little footnote which, I suppose, will only be of interest to fellow-patrimonials.

Nearby is Etal Manor, once owned by the Boyles, Earls of Glasgow. It was loaned to Lord Frederick Fitzclarence when he married Lady Augusta Boyle; they moved in in 1821. English readers will be aware that the Fitzclarences were the large illegitimate brood which Dorothea Bland (from Parknasilla in the County Kerry in Munster, where my wife, sons, and sons-in-law used to play golf) bore to William Duke of Clarence, later known as William IV; the eldest of them was created Earl of Munster and the rest of them were accorded the rank and precedence of the children of a duke (hence the "Lord").

Lady Augusta came under the influence of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England, and in 1856 built a chapel in her grounds, dedicated to S Mary, explicitly as a successor to the ruinous chantry chapel along the river. In it were buried Lord Frederick; and their only daughter Frederica with her husband Frederick (who had been aide de camp to Lord Frederick ... lots of freds around ... ). It contains a simple monument to Lord Frederick (a cross and a sword; copied, I suspect, from a medieval stone in the floor of nearby Ford church), and explicit prayers for the dead. I doubt whether she could have got away with that in a parish church ... remember all the trouble preceding the consecration of S Saviour's, Leeds ... but this was a private chapel on private ground.

1856 is interestingly early for the building of such an edifice in the post-Reformation Church of England ... you will not be surprised to learn that the architect was William Butterfield.

I'm going to offer a Mass for the repose of the souls of Lady Augusta and her family. One has to keep faith with such people, doesn't one?
To continue.

15 November 2021


 Professor Peter Kwasniewski has done it again!! However, whencever, does he get the time and the energy?? He has again edited, and himself made important contributions to, a valuable collection of papers.

From Benedict's PEACE to Francis's WAR, Angelico Press, hot from the presses ... is, of course, concerned with responses to PF's declaration of War on the Great and Holy Tradition. I suppose if I were a citizen of the U S of A, it might make me think of the attack upon Pearl Harbour; a violent and unprovoked attack on a peaceable people by thanatophile enthusiasts. I mean, of course, Traditionis custodes.

This crude assault on the authentic worship of the Latin Church is, perhaps, even more gross than the events of the late sixties and the seventies. Since then, reconstruction, painstaking and prayer-driven, had brought us laboriously back, step-by-step, ever closer, to a healthy Catholic culture. Beginning in 1971 with the highly restrictive Indult which Cardinal Heenan extracted from S Paul VI, we have moved, step by step, nearer to orthopraxy. Now a grim, rigid, merciless bigotry is attempting to steal the fruits of so much work ... and, indeed, of so much scholarship ... done over half a century. 

One of the good results of the Liturgical Revolution of circa 1970 is that, subsequently, immense amounts of research have revolutionised our understanding of the liturgical culture of the churches of the Roman Rite. There were some big names among those who laboured in the decades after the Council; but how much more we now know and understand than they did. 

And many of the pieces in this book are by some of those scholars.

In this volume, you will find the words of five cardinals ... two of them former prefects of Vatican dicasteries whose glory it is that PF found them insufficiently compliant, but could not silence them. And more than sixty other writers (the proprieties prescribe that I must confess: that they include myself).


Are Canonizations Infallible? is also a collection by Peter Kwasniewski; I have commended it to you before. An additional reason for everybody below the age of seventy to buy and read this book has just recently occurred to me. Videlicet:

Usually, empirical tests are hard to apply to discussions concerning theological topics. Freddie Ayer, the atheist Oxford philosopher whose lectures I rather enjoyed as an undergraduate, used to make this point rather powerfully ... until he had a ... well, shall we say an experience ... which very nearly ... um ...

In the question of Canonisations, we may have an exception to Ayer's non-falsifiability doctrine.

If, in the aftermath of this all-fun pontificate, PF is canonised, we shall know for a certainty ... do you agree? ... that canonisations can be as fallible as they can be, er, risible.

(Arouca Press.)

Read it!! 


FOOTNOTE: I have searched in vain among the footnotes for any evidence that whoever drafted TC had read the works of Christine Mohrman.

14 November 2021


"They wish to call the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive even though this survival took place side by side with other liturgical forms."

This is the conclusion of the 1971 letter to Pope S Paul VI, which led him to grant the 'Agatha Christie Indult', allowing a survival of the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite in England.

The letter was signed by a number of highly distinguished people in British public life. Agatha Christie was one of them; there is a legend that S Paul VI recognised and was impressed by the sight of her name among the signatories! Hence ... "the Agatha Christie Indult."

But among the other names were Maurice Bowra; Colin Hardie; Max Mallowan (Christie's husband); Robert Mortimer; Iris Murdoch (my wife's Philosophy tutor); R C Zaehner (or did he transfer to Oriental Languages immediately after Classical Mods?); the Second Earl of Oxford and Asquith. These were all nationally famous Oxford Classicists: that is, they had "read Greats", the four-year prestigious Oxford course which included not only Latin and Greek Language and Literature and Ancient History, but also both Ancient and Modern Philosophy. Its official name is Litterae Humaniores. In aeternum floreat.

The 1971 Indult, and the reasons for which it was sought, are as relevant now, in this bleak and rigid and merciless pontificate, as ever they were in the gentler and more literate times of S Paul VI and Cardinal Heenan.

Scrub my words "as relevant": I should have written even more relevant.

Henceforth, I suggest an alternative title: THE GREATS INDULT.

Incidentally, I thought it was immensely jolly that Arthur Roche, careless chappy, has lost his copy of the Indult. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke, could it?

A Traditional Catholic Aristophanes would probably rejoice to subvert Euripides' prologues with the phrase "... lost his Indult."

 [In Operation Pax, is Mark Bultitude based on Bowra?]

13 November 2021


 "They wish to call to the attention of the Holy See, the appalling responsibility it would incur in the history of the human spirit were it to refuse to allow the Traditional Mass to survive, even though this survival took place side by side with other liturgical forms."

This is the conclusion of the 1971 letter to Pope S Paul VI, which led him to grant the 'Agatha Christie Indult' allowing a survival of the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite in England. The letter was signed by a number of distinguished people in British public life. Agatha Christie was one of them; there is a legend that S Paul VI recognised and was impressed by the sight of her name! Hence ... "the Agatha Christie Indult."

But among the other signatories were  "+Robert Exeter" and "+John Ripon" ... the then Anglican bishops of Exeter and Ripon, Robert Mortimer and John Moorman.

Anglican bishops! (No Catholic bishops signed.)

Cradle Catholics often fail to understand Anglicanism! I mentioned Robert Mortimer on this blog early last November, offering a link to a Canadian video which showed Bishop Mortimer offering Pontifical High Mass in his Cathedral Church in the 1970s ... gloves and all! ... and solemnly administering the Sacrament of Holy Order. He was a distinguished scholar who had held an Oxford chair before condescending to episcopacy.

Bishop Moorman was another man of significance and considerable erudition. He played a leading role in ARCIC, the ecumenical talking shop in the dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans ... but this should not be held against him! That was a time of convergence; the understanding was that neither side would add new causes of division while both sides worked to remove the old problems. Things radically changed, however, when the Anglicans unilaterally decided in the 1990s that admitting women to sacerdotal ministry was such a first-rank question of fundamental Christian obedience that it took precedence over Christian Unity.

This indult, and the reasons for which it was sought, are as relevant now, in this bleak and rigid and merciless pontificate, as ever they were in the gentler and more literate times of S Paul VI and Cardinal Heenan.

Scrub my words "as relevant": I should have written even more relevant.

Hence, I suggest an alternative title: THE ANGLICAN BISHOPS'INDULT.

Tomorrow, I hope to offer you yet another possible title! You can't have enough of them!! 


12 November 2021

Chaotic "Law"

Just a few examples:

(1) Traditionis custodes lays down (2:3) that the reading at Mass should be "in the vernacular language". But the Vicar of  Rome ... a town where, in the past, Catholics from every country in the world have often gone on pilgrimage ... has laid down that the readings should be in Italian. 

So a priest leading a group of his own folk who do not understand Italian really has got to struggle through two readings in a language he does not himself understand and will not pronounce correctly, for the benefit of a congregation for whom this silly performance will be pure gibberish.

We also have here yet another example of Italophile imperialist arrogance; the mentality which de facto treats Italian, rather than Latin, as the official language of the Catholic Church.

(2) PF laid down that "everything that I have declared in this Apostolic Letter ... I order to be observed in all its parts etc.. But the letter of the Vicar for Rome informs his readers that one of the articles in the Motu proprio is "not being activated" in Rome.

Unlike PF, who wanted every word of his decree to be activated immediately, in Rome itself, apparently, this legislation has to await the say-so of the Cardinal Vicar to be "activated".

(3) The Cardinal Vicar neatly explained that such other books as the old Rituale are now forbidden. But, in his letter to Vincent Nichols, Arthur Roche replied to precisely this question with the words "Traditionis custodes speaks only of the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 and Eucharistic celebration."

I am sure that canonical experts must have discussed the situation arising when an apparent 'law' is so badly drafted as to be incomprehensible, or impractical, or manifestly contrary to the good of christifideles.

11 November 2021

Which is the real Bergoglio??

 Not exactly for the first time in this pontificate, PF, in September, talked about how concern for Law can so easily "lead to a rigid religiosity".

In fact, he went a bit further this time. He assured his suffering and bewildered flock that "Rigidity is a sin against the patience of God".

In the light of that, I have had another look at the text of Traditionis custodes.

I simply adore the penultimate bit: "Previous norms, instructions, permissions and customs that do not conform to the present Motu proprio are abrogated."

You see, I love the formulaic rigidities and the desire to be absolutely clear and complete about what is being enacted or prohibited, which we find both in British statute law, and in Vatican enactments.

But the final paragraph gets even better: "Everything that I have declared in this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, I order to be observed in all its parts, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it be promulgated by way of publication in 'L'Osservatore Romano', entering immediately into force ...". 

But, er, isn't this a bit legal? Isn't it ... well ... rigid? Putting things the other way round, how could it have been any more rigid? 

Then there are all those provisions which limit the freedom of bishops ... despite the strange claim (a few lines above) that he is re-establishing the authority of bishops. 

Then there are the bits about what newly ordained priests can't do ... about places and times where the Authentic Roman Rite may not be celebrated ... all the other things bishops are now prohibited from doing in their own dioceses ...

Well, all this looks like "Law" to me. It looks pretty "rigid" to me. Whenever I see words like "notwithstanding", I start getting nightmares about horse-hair wigs, and memories flood back of that big painting in the King's Inn in Dublin showing the trial of Sir Roger Casement.

Will the real Bergoglio please stand up? Is he the rigid and draconian legislator who is ferociously keen to block up any possible legal loopholes? Or is he the Bergoglio who is suspicious of all Law and hates, above everything else, Rigidity? The Fay ce que tu voudras Bergoglio?

Of course, we all know what is really going on. PF wants to encourage people to take very lightly laws he doesn't himself much like. Make a Mess! Parrhesia!!! At the same time, he demands the most scrupulous and rigid observance of his own rigid enactments in pursuit of his own personal and visceral detestation of the Great Tradition, and his rigid loathing of any who are so off-message as not to share his own feverish bigotries. 

Jolly jolly good old-fashioned hypocrisy, in other words.

These elegant contradictions, according to his lights, are perfectly logical. I suspect that his Nanny smacked him too much when he was tiny. Or else not enough.

My sympathy lies ... not so much with laics and clerics who, as far as I can make out, view TC with amused contempt ... but with Diocesan Bishops and their Chancellors, who are having to draft, confect, print, sign, seal, issue and entrust to the GPO pompous-looking documents giving presbyters 'permissions' to do simple ordinary everyday presbyteral things which, as Pope Benedict made clear, they need absolutely no 'permission' whatsoever from anyone to do.

A thought, too, and a prayer, for the SSPX who are naturally wondering if they have enough clergy and sufficient resources to meet contingencies which are already arising in some regions. What a good thing they have retained their canonical freedom, so that the Bergoglians won't be able to get their greedy hands on money or property! But will the Society not soon have to face up to the question of new episcopal Consecrations? Is that pencilled in for the start of the next pontificate? May God give them prudence and courage. 

How can I get an invitation?

10 November 2021

Some lies to entertain you

"The New Mass  is what Vatican II ordered."

Vatican II, in its Sacrosanctum Concilium, gave sensible guidelines for the reform of the Liturgy. Unfortunately, these guidelines were largely ignored in the decade that followed. RUPTURE!

"All but four of the Council Fathers voted for the New Rite."

No; what all but four of the Fathers voted for was Sacrosanctum Concilium. But this actual Conciliar Decree was largely ignored once 'the Experts' got their hands on the levers of power. RUPTURE!

"Modern Catholic Worship is what the Council wanted."

Even the New Rite as actually drafted after the Council had ended, and as authorised by the post-Conciliar popes is not what you get in most ordinary parish churches. For example: the official New Rite wants the First Eucharistic Prayer, the 'Roman Canon' to be used on Sundays and major feast days. It is largely ignored today.  Does anybody seriously think that the Ottavianis and the Lefebvres would have voted nearly unanimously and without complaint for a New Rite in which the Canon of the Mass would be replaced by poorly-conceived committee-manufactured Eucharistic Prayers? RUPTURE!

"Everything, the Liturgy included, needs to be updated. That's why we need the New, modernised, Rite."

Updated? OK, then, let's consider the implications of your claim. It's now more than fifty years since the the New Rite was brought in. Time, therefore, now, according to you, for an even newer one. WE NEED TO RUPTURE OUR WAY AHEAD, TO BOLDLY RUPTURE WHERE NOONE HAS RUPTURED BEFORE!!

"But the New Rite takes account of Modern liturgical thinking."

No it doesn't. It takes account of the thinking of the late 1960s.

"But isn't that recent enough?"

Well, the people who invented the New Rite around 1967 didn't confine themselves to the liturgical thinking of around 1907, so why should we all be stuck with 1967? In Liturgical studies, as in everything else, things move on. Sixty years can be quite a long time in the History of Ideas. You are reading this on a computer ...

"But only a few eccentrics are unhappy with the New Rite."

Really? Joseph Ratzinger? Cardinal Sarah? Competent academics throughout the world?

"So how does the modern thinking of today differ from that of the 1960s?"

Very briefly: in the 1960s, Liturgy was commonly seen as having a primary purpose of enabling the Laity to understand their Faith and Worship better. So everything ... the 'experts' felt ... should be very clear and orderly and precisely expressed. Within the last generation, academic work has taken account of a distinction between 'orality' and 'literacy'. The Liturgy , according to more recent linguistic analysis, is in an 'oral' style in which repetitions and digressions, even stutterings and rebeginnings,  are natural. Body-language, hints, allusions and nuances are part of communication which is the Church's act both of union within herself across time and space, and of love towards her Lord. An Anglican scholar called Catherine Pickstock, and a Catholic theologian called Fr Aidan Nichols have written well about such things.

"And you're saying that in the 1960s nobody understood that sort of stuff?"

Well, there was a most distinguished Dutch scholar called Christine Mohrmann, but, poor thing, she was not a member of the highly exclusive Big Boys' Club (CathPop!) of "We are the Elite Liturgical Experts and we know everything". She was cleverer and more learned than the 'Experts', so she was never given a look-in 

"So you're saying that every sixty years, the entire Liturgy should be turned upside down."

No, I'm saying the opposite. It is a very bad idea to put the entire liturgical inheritance into a melting pot every generation or two. What the Council actually ordered in Sacrosanctum Concilium (why not read it?) was an organic and evolutionary approach, gently updating and adjusting. Which is what has happened throughout the nearly two millennia of Church History. That was a good policy, human and humane. It is a shame the words of the Council were ignored.

"So where ... in practical terms ... should we go from here?"

At least for the time being, a mixed economy and a gentle tolerance of liturgical diversity seem to me sensible. New Rite in Latin; New Rite in English; Old Rite in Latin; Old Rite in English ... that would be a true policy of leaving things to God, wouldn't it? Look up Gamaliel in Acts 5!

9 November 2021

Pastor eximius

On Sunday, a Pastoral Letter ('God's Creation') was to be read at all Masses in the Diocese of Portsmouth, in which I am domiciled. These texts are always worth reading; Bishop Philip Egan takes his job seriously and includes proper footnotes indicating the Magisterial bases for his teaching.

Congregations won't hear it, but today's 'Footnote 5' points us to the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate of Benedict XVI ... and to paragraph 51. (I regard that paragraph as possibly the most important part of that Encyclical; just as paragraph 80 of Veritatis Splendor is, surely, central to that document). 

(Rereading encyclicals of Pope Benedict is, for me, a slightly saddening experience. It reminds me of what we have lost! How many popes would incorporate a quotation from Heraclitus of Ephesus, c535-c475 B.C.: Hocosper sarma eike kekhumenon ho kallistos kosmos, with the appropriate reference to Diehl and Kranz Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (6th edition)?)

Paragraph 51 is where Pope Benedict deploys the concept of Human Ecology (?first found in S John Paul's Centesimus Annus of 1991, paras 38sqq?). However much the Church has a responsibility towards creation, above all (ante omnia) "she must protect mankind from self destruction". "If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to natural death, if human conception, gestation, and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed (immolantur) to  research" ... if we ignore "life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations, integral human development (humanae integraeque progressionis)", other ecological concerns are just one hell of a contradiction (gravis antinomia). 

In 2011, addressing the Brasilian Bishops, Benedict added "the family based on marriage between a man and a woman." In Laudato si (155) PF laudably amplified this with words about the complementarity between male and female. Accordingly, he categorised the consuetudo which desires differentiam sexualem delere as non sana (sano/sana in the Italian /Spanish versions).

This looks to me like a healthily evolving Magisterial teaching, well in accordance with the munus of the Successor of S Peter to act as what S John Henry Newman called a remora against innovation.

As so much chatter continues concerning "the Environment", I think it is worth remembering what it is that the teaching of the Magisterium sets before us as the prime and over-riding 'ecological' consideration ... not least because I bet you won't get the slightest whiff of it in all the hot air emerging from Glasgow.

8 November 2021

All Saints of England

The Ordinariate Calendar offers, on the old Octave Day of All Saints, a Festum of all the Saints of England. Or of Wales!

The Mass which follows seems to me a very good one. But I do not know where it comes from. Does any reader?

There is, however, a prehistory to this celebration. The abortive English Anglican Prayer Book of 1928 contained, in an appendix, this feast. And the Collect it offered was

We beseech thee, O Lord, to multiply thy grace upon us who commemorate the saints of our nation: that, as we rejoice to be their fellow-citizens on earth; so we may have fellowship with them in heaven. Through.

What interests me is that this collect seems to have been lifted by '1928' from the Irish Appendix of the Roman Missal, which commemorates All the Saints of Ireland on November 6, with this Collect:

Gratiam tuam, Domine, multiplica super nos, solemnitatem celebrantes omnium insulae nostrae sanctorum: ut quorum esse cives gratulamur  in terris; cum his mancipatum habere mereamur in caelis. Per.

The whole Mass is Proper to that day. I wonder who borrowed it for '1928'.

It has long been my own custom to say this Mass on November 8 as (a double) of the Second Class. If someone could point me to a Latin original of the Divine Worship Mass, I will happily use that!

It is, course, satisfying to observe in some way the Octave Days sadly abolished by Pius XII. The Breviary readings for the Octave Day of All Saints seem to me very suitable for All the Saints of England!

The various religious orders observed festivals of All their Saints as follows: Jesuits, November 6; Benedictines, November 13; Franciscans, November 29; Dominicans, November 9; Discalced Carmelites, November 14; Augustinians, November 13; Servites, November 16. Some of these began Mass with an introit adapting Gaudeamus ...


Long time ago

I believe today is the anniversary of the august occasion in 1745 when HRH the Prince of Wales, bearing a Commission of Regency, entered the Kingdom of England leading the troops of the King his Father.

Why do I care about such things? Because I wish to subvert ... even if only for myself ... the Whig View of History.

7 November 2021

Archbishop Roche

Fr Zed has done us all a service in publishing correspondence between Vincent Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop Arthur Roche concerning he implementation of Traditionis custodes

It is not easy to be optimistic about the future, as long as this calamitous pontificate survives. But more of that below.

My first surprise was to read that, in Roche's view, the pre-conciliar Liturgy "was abrogated by Pope Saint Paul VI".

Pope Benedict wrote, in Summorum Pontificum Article 1, that the Roman Missal as promulgated in 1962 was "never abrogated". In the accompanying Letter that he wrote to the World's Bishops, he iterated this historical fact: "I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted."

Roche could, perhaps, have argued that the 1962 Missal has now, by implication, been abrogated by Pope Francis by virtue of Traditionis custodes. Or in some other way.

Roche chose instead to assert that it was "abrogated by S Paul VI". But on July 7 2007, Pope Benedict explicitly excluded any such abrogation. Who on earth are the poor b****y infantry supposed to believe?

PF and his associates constantly write about "only limited concessions by previous pontiffs". This verges upon mendacity. Benedict made clear that the earlier Roman Rite was "in principle, always permitted."

This is not a slight matter. It is yet another example of the problems we all find ourselves in when one pontificate directly ... fully frontally ... contradicts, in a matter of historical fact or of Doctrine, what the previous pontificate made clear.

If Pope Benedict's clear statement ... made twice! ... that 1962 was not abrogated by S Paul VI can be trashed like this by a mere curial official, it is clear that definitive statements by the present Pope can also as easily be trashed. Or even more easily trashed!!

Are we all now called upon by PF and Arthur Roche to boldly trash where nobody has trashed before?

My words above treat what, really, is but a canonical detail. But there is dogma here as well.

Benedict XVI wrote, in his Letter to the Bishops: "In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful." He was, in fact, reiterating the teaching he gave when he was Prefect of the CDF: "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of Faith ..."

And this is in line with the Decree by which S Pius V promulgated his 1570 edition of the Roman Missal. This Decree is often misrepresented. People talk and write as if S Pius imposed his edition on the West, while allowing earlier rites to continue.

He did nothing of the sort. He ordered those earlier rites to continue (nequaquam auferimus) ... unless, unanimously, Bishop and Chapter should choose to use his Pian edition instead.

Those who claim that recent pontiffs are doing no more than S Pius V did are either misinformed, or untruth-tellers. He prohibited the disuse of rites which had been in place for more than 200 years. Recent Roman documents claim to be able to forbid a rite which has been in place for much more than 200 years.

Even a child should be able to understand the difference ... 

Again to quote Joseph Ratzinger: "Rites ... are forms of the apostolic Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of the Tradition." 

That Apostolic Tradition authoritatively handed down to us the Canon and Text of Holy Scripture; the Creeds; the structure of the Church's Ministry and her other sacramental rites. It also handed down to us, with the same authority, the great classical liturgies. They have that same abiding sacrosanctity.

It is, in my judgement, Catholic Doctrine that the Apostolic Tradition is not subject to rogue functionaries.

6 November 2021

Walls, Tiepolo, and S James the Great (2)

Tiepolo ... or perhaps Mr Ambassador Richard Walls ... was tactful. There had, after all, been bellicose passages in the historical memories of relations between England and Spain. So, tactfully, S James is not here shown slaying Moors by the million (although if you look carefully between the horse's legs, you will see some old-fashioned bits of military mayhem). But the Saint, his eyes fixed on heaven, moves onwards. True, he carries a drawn sword. True, with that sword he gently bends the head of a kneeling, subjected, Moor. 

But the violence is past. The subjected Moor will rise as a Christian. The Spanish Empire, extensive and diverse, has purchased, not without a use of force, a peaceful and a Christian civilisation. I think that is what Tiepolo thought he was painting for the Chapel in London of the Spanish Ambassador.

Is the idea an unworthy one?

My second query: S James of Spain carries a banner. It appears to be white and to bear a red Cross.

You are perfectly aware that I am not an expert on Spanish (or Venetian) art. And negatives are always dodgy things to do business with. 

But I don't recall examples of what looks like the flag of S George of England being carried in a Hispanic military context.

What think ye?


At the Glasgow Event, they had a mock up of part of a dinosaur, which advised the viewers, in perfect English, that it isn't very nice to become extinct.

I am at a loss to know ... even in its own terms ... what the logic of this demonstration is supposed to be. Were they really suggesting that, had Conference Venues existed all those millennia ago ... had there been tiny Swedes running around saying Blah Blah ... somehow or other the meteor whose impact led to the extinction of the dinosaurs would have been averted?

Does it "matter", in the view of these people, when one species is replaced by others, as the dinosaurs were by the mammals including us? If so, in their view, why? 

We are surrounded by madmen.

5 November 2021

Fireworks Time!! Celebrating November 5 (1)

A mighty day of celebration! After all, November 5 1694 was the natal day of Richard Wall! Yes!!

Wall ... the Wall who was born in County Cork and became First Minister of the Spanish Empire. That Wall. Which Wall did you think I meant?

You want even more specificity? The Wall who, earlier in his political career, was the ambassador in London of the King's Majesty of Spain. The Wall who ordered that striking picture ...

Ah! this is where Ricardo Wall might just possibly have intersected with your lives, as he has with mine. While he was Mr Spain in London, he ordered from "il famoso artista Tiepolo di Venezia" an altar piece for his embassy chapel in Spanish Place. It is regarded as one of (Giambattista) Tiepolo's finest pieces. So every decade or so, whenever there is an exhibition in this country of Venetian art or Baroque art or Tiepolo or ... , the Art People ship it back and S James the Great peers out of his frame and murmurs to his horse "ah ... London yet again ... "

He could have stayed here; he might still have been under the kindly jurisdiction of Canon Colvin. But they seem to have misinformed Tiepolo about the measurements. And Wall, being British himself ...

You weren't listening. Wall came from County Cork; his family fled after the Dutch Invasion, like so many of the best and brightest in the Three Kingdoms, and made their fortunes on the continent in the service of the Catholic and Christian (and other) monarchies. Richard did well in the Navy and the Army and the Diplomatic Service. He was acquainted with the Fitz-James Dukes of Berwick; in his collateral descendants within today's Spanish Aristocracy the blood of the Stuarts and of the Walls is still mingled.

Always strictly faithful to the monarch he served, he nevertheless worked for peace between the Three Kingdoms and the Spanish dominions. He was witty and popular ...

... yes, they had misinformed Tiepolo about the dimensions of the Embassy Chapel. And the Ambassador got cold feet about English reactions to the warlike ethos of the Spanish Patron Saint. And that horse did seem rather to loom ... Perhaps a Crucifixion would be more tactful ...

So the canvas went to the Royal Collection in Madrid and was eventually sold on to the Esterhazys. That is why, in the dying days of WW2, it, together with a lot of the Esterhazy collection, was found dumped in the Hungarian snow. The assumption is that the Wehrmacht was, very responsibly, conveying it quamquam inter arma to a place of safety.

There is a question I would like you to help me with tomorrow. Meanwhile, you will find a good Wikipedia piece on Walls, and, I'm sure, representations of the Picture of S James helping to defeat the Moors at the Battle of Clavijo in 844. Perhaps that more-than-adequate Cava which Messrs Wait and Rose purvey, which is also served by King Philip VI at Receptions in the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid, would be a suitable tipple to accompany your toasts.. 

"Walls!" "The Glorious Memory!" "Richard Walls!". "The Fitz-Jameses!" "The Clergy of Spanish Place!!" "Vivat Hispania!!!" "His Grace the Duke of Berwick!!!!"

4 November 2021

Can Water self-identify as dry? The blessed and glorious truth of Truisms.

We are besieged with peremptory instructions that we should reform our pronouns; should be careful how we refer to cervix-possessors; and be respectful towards 'transmen' and 'transwomen'; should remember that it is not 'women' who menstruate, but 'people'. We should fling every lavatory door wide open to penis-holders who Self Identify; and lend our deferential ears to dogmatic medics who resent any limitations on their appetite for mutilating pre-pubescent children.

We've been here before; not least in that unblessed year '1984', so much more real than the merely historical 1984.

"The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth's centre. With the feeling that ... he was setting forth an important axiom, [Winston Smith] wrote:

Freedom is the the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."

'George Orwell' may not have been a Christian, but deep experience of the tyrannies of the Thirties and the Forties ... and their methods ... had enabled him to discern and elegantly to demonstrate that the corruption of Language and the denial of objective reality itself are the ultimate weapons of Evil and of evil men. It has been given to us to bear our witness in an epoch which is, I suspect, even more than his, fanatical to the point of intolerant bigotry in its attack on Truisms, Reality, and Language.

Like Winston Smith, I feel a sudden urgent need to "set forth" my "axiomatic" repudiation of the ("misological"??) culture in which I live. Ergo ...

I do not belong to 'the Party', and I will never join it.

In the last resort, Truth is more important than being sensitive, or even polite.

Human Beings may be so self-deceived that they even misdescribe themselves. 

If someone assures me that he is a Martian Asparagus, it is permitted to me to demur.

I do not believe in 'Dysphoria' (or any other phony and manipulative grecism).

People who do believe in it are either crooks or deceived fools.

There are no such things as 'transwomen'. 

But there are castrated men.  

And there are men who have not been castrated.

If a man has not been castrated, he is a man who has not been castrated. 

"If that is granted, all else follows."


 S Charles Borromeo died in the arms of one of his vicars general, Owen Lewis, of Winchester College and of New College in this University. Lewis went on to be Bishop of Cassano.

Welshmen and Englishmen will probably rejoice in this very personal link between the glorious Counter-Reformation of Reginald Pole's England and Marian Oxford; and the Counter-Reformation in Borromeo's Milan.

Lewis was far from being the only Fellow of New College who had to flee from Bloody Bess.


Technical problems, I am told, were resolved by the website being reconfigured as


Try it now or in the next day or two.

3 November 2021

Terrible News

 My dear Wormwood

I am sure you will not have forgotten the aftermath of the dreadful occasion when C S Lewis published a tranche of my letters to you ... perhaps three quarters of a century ago. There was no positive proof that you were the 'whistleblower', but, in the austere realities of Hell, so free of all infantile fetishes, the mere lack of evidence has never been regarded as an impediment to the most thorough, most exhaustive, most exquisitely satisfying punishment of a putative offender. 

Now you have done it again. Or perhaps you haven't. Who cares? the documents now being published at http://www.screwtaperedivivus.co.uk  provide the fullest possible pretext for the merciless torture of somebody, and, as your devoted Uncle, I am actively defending the priority of your expectations in this matter.

You yourself would, I know, in your (lamentably few) worse moments not wish to deprive me of the fullest enjoyment of the condign agonies that  that must now be your ineluctable destiny in view of paragraph 86,092/a/51 of the Satanic Constitution Suppliciorum custodes

I await the formal imposition upon you of the fullest, long-term infliction of unimaginable horror. I shall intercede, to the fullest extent of my avuncular capacity, to ensure that terms such as 'excruciating' fall infinitely short of the imminent and exciting realities.

Your ravenously affectionate and unremittingly attentive Uncle


De Amoenitate Ruris et de Necessitate Tmeseos

Dies aliquot recenter degens in comitatu Sussexiae, semitam ambulans inveni faecibus foedatam ... canum, ut opinor, potius quam elephantorum seu dinosaurorum seu Arianorum seu etiam peritorum liturgicorum.

Eheu! Memini verborum viri docti Iohannis 'Passeris' Collegii Animarum Omnium Defunctarum in hac Universitate quondam Custodis: Canis est illa assidua et immunda machina foeditatis ...

Tunc in mentem venit formula notissima astronautica Quorum ea erat missio ut proficis(audacter)cerentur quo nemo antea profectus est. Ridens hoc intra me effatus sum: Canum ea est missio ut foed(audacter)ent ubi canis nullus antea foedavit.


2 November 2021

All Souls Day

Some clergy are advised by the ORDO RECITANDI on their desks to say the third of their three All Souls Day Masses for "the Roman Pontiff's Intentions". As I understand it, and subject to correction, that Mass should be said according to the Intentions of Pope Benedict XV, "for the souls of all, especially youth, who fall victim to the appalling carnage of war."

Pope Benedict XV also linked in here "and to make up for testamentary masses neglected or forgotten".

Since we have most of November, the Month of the Departed, still before us, I take the liberty of deferentially suggesting to my reverend brethren in the Sacred Priesthood the good sense of that last Intention. In England, thousands of Masses endowed before 1559 are never said. I try to remember to say Masses for those who endowed Masses but whose endowments were, at the 'Reformation', annexed to either my own School, or my College, or my University, thus making me one of their beneficiaries; and also for some whom I got to know because I met them in my historical researches as I wandered around in the period 1490-1510 within the County of Devon.

Yes, Archdeacon Holyborton (I hope you enjoyed your pilgrimage to Jerusalem ... but I have to tell you that the splendid purple humeral veil you brought back for Exeter Cathedral did not survive the Tudors) ... Yes, Dame Thomasina (what a good idea it was to found that school, but I don't think the ad scalas  Masses you endowed in Westminster Abbey are still being said) ... I mean you ... among so many others ...

And I sometimes say the Votive of the Five Wounds, which was so often endowed in medieval England instead of Requiems. A translation of the once immensely popular old Sarum texts for that Votive is to be found in the Ordinariate Missal

Those texts are closely similar to the Tridentine Votive Humiliavit. Clergy without Ordinariate faculties could say that Mass.

1 November 2021

OMNES Sancti

 Possibly, not all Catholics remember that there were Saints before the period of 'the New Testament'. It it is easily forgotten, because with perhaps three exceptions such Saints don't appear on our Rome-based Calendar.

The first exception, of course, and a powerful theological pointer, is S John Baptist, last and greatest of the prophets, greatest among the Sons of Men, that is, among those who lived before the Redemption wrought by the Word. Secondly, there is the Patriarch S Joseph, a comparatively recent accession to the Roman Calendar and whose euchology recalls typologically the earlier Joseph.

But if we want to set aside S John Baptist and the Foster Father of the Lord 'because they are New Testament Saints', there are the Maccabees, heroic Martyrs for Christ who is the Torah, even before His Incarnation. They are on the Authentic Roman Calendar because their Relics are kept and venerated in Rome. Crude this may be, but the fact is that the Sanctorale and its evolution have a lot to to do with the presence of the physical relics of Saints. The Local Calendar of Jerusalem, and the older Carmelite calendars, offer a rich profusion of 'Old Testament Saints' simply because they were 'local' Saints for Christians in Palestine.

The Bugninioids who revised the Roman Calendar in the 1960s, magnificently and so very accurately called by Fr Louis Bouyer Les Trois Maniaques, eliminated the Maccabees ... they don't even occur in the 1974 supplement for the City of Rome itself! 

This is rank anti-semitism. It's one reason among so many why the Novus Ordo should only be permitted (by rare and almost inaccessible dispensations) in the most extreme circumstances ... exempli gratia, for those of the clergy ordained in the 1970s ... lovable if aged gents ... who are now too far, er, past their prime to be able to learn how to celebrate the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite.

And those same merciless vandalisers of the Authentic Roman Rite also manifested the same cheerful, thoughtless, anti-semitism in their bowdlerisation of the Mass Reading for All Saints' Day. Chop chop snippety snip, and out went the solemn and moving ritual enumeration of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The poor wreckage that the maniaques condescended to leave behind them almost completely destroys the logic and certainly ruins the structural balance and the august majesty of Chapter 7 of the Apocalypse. May God forgive them. They should be sentenced to scrub synagogue floors as a penance.

Tradition, needless to say, is nothing like so forgetful of the Saints of the Old Testament; by the Grace of God I murmur the name of Abraham our Patriarch every morning at the Altar (and even Novus Ordo  clerics, dear old chaps, are supposed to mention him morning and evening in the Gospel Canticles of Lauds and Vespers). Oh, and, of course, I also remember daily Abel, God's 'Righteous Boy'. I think I may also slip in a passing reference to the Most Reverend Melchisedech ... does that shock you?

Coetus omnes angelici/ patriarcharum cunei,/ ac prophetarum merita/ nobis precentur veniam.

That's how one of the All Saints Office Hymns put it before Quintus Horatius Barberinus sharpened his stylus.

'Cuneus', means a wedge and is particularly applied ... as here? ... to wedge-shaped miltary formations (just imagine meeting Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah together when all three of them were in a really pugnacious mood!). Many readers will have met cuneus in the phrase 'cuneiform script'. We once had a politician in this country called Cuneus Benn ... or something like that ... do let me know when you think I'm starting to ramble ... getting a bit past my prime ... long in the tooth ...

Omnes Sancti et Sanctae Dei, orate pro nobis.