31 January 2022

Prescription in Liturgy (2)

 In fact, a sense of the over-riding auctoritas of Tradition and Custom had not entirely disappeared from the three-volume The Celebration of Mass by J O'Connell, 1940 edition. He discussed customs 'praeter legem' ... beyond the law ... and goes on to explain that customs even 'contra legem' ... contrary to the law ... may become prescriptive. Apparently, the old Sacred Congregation of Rites was known to enforce usages which were contrary to the law!

Interestingly, O'Connell argues that "Popes in Constitutions that preface the liturgical books, while abolishing existing customs contrary to the rubrics of those books, do not prohibit future customs of this character".

This is particularly entertaining in view of the way that PF, at the end of Tc, tries to tie up his "abrogation" of earlier legislation and custom. (I wonder if S John Henry Newman's description of the C of E as "the House of Bondage" ought, in all fairness, to be transferreed to the Bergoglian Domus Sanctae Marthae.)

Incredibly, we live in times more restrictive and rigid than the 'rigid and archaic' decades before the Council! A Totally Tremendous Tyranny Time! It is remarkable how restrictive and dictatorial a peronist pope who is fuelled by a really stonking hatred of Tradition can manifest himself to be.

But I will conclude with some more of Dix.

"So far as the primitive bishop had any such right he had it not so much as bishop but as celebrant. When he ceased to be the normal celebrant it passed as a practical fact to other people. If any one were to say that from the sixth century to the eleventh it was habitually exercised much more by the copyists of liturgical MSS. than by bishops, it would not be easy to bring factual evidence to refute him. And in practice there is no doubt that it was exercised by the parish priest, 'doing the liturgy' for his flock under the guidance of tradition from such MSS. as he had, which he did not feel much scruple about adding to or altering with his own hand. ...

"However much ecclesiastical administrators like Innocent I and Charlemagne may have lamented the fact, the churches in the earlier ages did not desire uniformity. And those who have taken part with any understanding  in the worship of provincial and country churches in France and Spain and Italy and Germany--or even in the parish churches of England--may wonder whether they really care very much about it now."

30 January 2022


 I have just heard ... and seen ... Her Britannic Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs say, on the Beeb, that we shall support "our Baltic Allies across the Black Sea".

I am not sure that ... for example ... the Marquess of Salisbury would have allowed himself this sort of geopolitical ... er ... oversimplification ...

29 January 2022

Prescription in Liturgy (1)

 Printing ... its invention ... is the precondition for the issuing of modern  "I-am-the-Master-you-must-obey-me-please-bow-even-more-profoundly"-style liturgical legislation. Printing has, of course, been enhanced by other pieces of more recent technology.

Think about it. It was only printing which made it possible for the bullies on Edward VI's Privy Council in 1549 ruthlessly to enforce overnight the elimination in England of the Rites of Sarum, York, etc.. Only technology made it possible for PF arrogantly to claim that, before you have your breakfast croissant tomorrow morning, Summorum pontificum will have been replaced by Traditionis custodes.

This novel approach to Liturgy, inconceivable before about 1450, cannot be part of the Catholic Faith, the Depositum fidei handed down through the Apostles. Something totally missing for the first Christian millennium and a half can hardly be at the essential core of the Faith.

In 1943, Dom Gregory Dix wrote:

"There is remarkably little foundation for the [Anglican] idea which has been assiduously propagated of late years in England that 'the catholic priest. at least if he has any tincture of the true catholic and priestly spirit, would rather say the most jejune and ill-arranged rite, which was that imposed upon him by authority, than the most splendid liturgy devised by himself'. Either the whole church from the second century to the sixteenth was devoid of 'any tincture of the true catholic and priestly spirit', or such statements are comprehensively mistaken. ...

" ... in every century every liturgy borrowed where it chose, without the intervention of 'authority' in the matter at all, till we come to the edicts of Byzantine emperors and Charlemagne. It is true that in every church the rite was from time to time codified in a revision by the local bishop -- a Sarapion, a Basil, a Gregory. But it is also true that their work never endures as they leave it. The same process of unauthorised alteration  and addition and borrowing begins again ...

"The proof is written in almost every liturgical MS in existence. The primitive bishop had control of the text of the prayers because their recitation was his special 'liturgy'; he was the normal celebrant. When he passed on that 'liturgy' to individual presbyters, in practice if not in theory the same control tended to pass to the new normal celebrant, however objectionable in principle the fact may now seem to us. The presbyter was largely ruled by tradition-- as the bishop had been. But I have a not altogether inconsiderable experience of ancient liturgical MSS. Setting aside mere copyists' errors, I do not remember any two professing to give the same rite which altogether agree on the text of the celebrant's prayers."

To be continued.

28 January 2022

A married priest at Econe

In his early days at Econe, Archbishop Lefebvre recruited the assistance of some talented teachers. One of these was Fr Francois-Olivier Dubuis.

Fr Dubuis was an antiquarian almost in the old Anglican Style ... one could imagine him getting on like a house on fire with the great Anglican Cornish antiquary, Canon Doble. At Econe, Dubuis taught patrology and history.

Born in 1921, he had begun life as a Calvinist, and was a pastor. He converted to Catholicism in 1954, and was ordained in 1964. He then taught at the Sion diocesan seminary. 

When, in 1971 (28 June), the Archbishop ordained his first priest for the Priestly Society, Fr Dubuis joined in the laying-on of hands. The priest who was then ordained remembers the participation of Fr Dubuis.

Fr Francois-Olivier Dubuis was married.

He died in 2003, having written a large number of learned books. 

And having assisted in the great enterprise of founding the SSPX.

27 January 2022


Today calls to our memory the vile horrors perpetrated by one of Europe's most 'civilised' and 'advanced' countries upon one of Europe's oldest and most decorous communities and cultures. May God protect and keep us from ever being 'advanced'. May he forgive us for our own continuing daily holocaust of the Unborn.

Today also remembers all genocides and all 'holocausts'.

As well as the Shoah, as well as the murder of the Unborn, I also recall today the Holocaust of Christians by the Turks ... of Greek Orthodox and of Armenians in particular.

Let us seek the prayers of Saint Chrysostom of Smyrna, the Metropolitan of that great Greek city. On September 10 1922, he was handed over by the Turkish regular military to be most abhominably tortured and mutilated and murdered by an Islamic mob. He was born in 1867; canonised by the Church of Greece in 1993; and is commemorated on the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Hierarch and Holy Martyr, pray for us. Remember us, though unworthy, in your perpetual Liturgy.

The Revocation of Traditionis Custodes

Frankly, I see little likelihood of The Next Pope simply revoking Traditionis custodes. That's, somehow, not the style of the papal bureaucracy.

But think of S John XXIII's Veterum Sapientia, 1962, signed by him on the High Altar of S Peter's. It mandated the intensive teaching of Latin in priestly Formation. It had lots of detailed enactments (it might almost have been put together by an infant diaper-clad roche!!!) to ensure that this definitely happened. For example: the sacking of all seminary professors unable to teach orally in Latin ...

It has never been revoked. Nor, more sadly, has it ever been obeyed.

It has just been constantly and consistently ignored. 

It is undoubtedly Law; but if a law is universally ignored ...

I think our best hope, when the Lord is satisfied that PF has finally appointed enough Cardinal Electors, is for Tc simply to fade gracefully away. 'Cheshire Cat' legislation! But without the grin!

26 January 2022

Canonical Philology

A circular today from a gentleman signing himself as a Reverend Canon.

So far, so good. The time when monsignori ... in Waugh's phrase ... were running around like rabbits, has, I hope, passed. "Canon" sounds so much more English.

But ... the missive refers to "... measure ... to mitigate against ... transmission ... The main mitigation against ..."

Oh dear.

The extent of Papal authority

Few theologians shaped Anglo-Papalism in the twentieth century more than Dom Gregory Dix. In 1938 he published a scintillating succession of articles explaining, to his fellow Anglicans, the Vatican I teaching about papal power. Near his conclusion came the following:

"The language of the Vatican [I] decrees on the Roman Pontiff is admittedly formidable at a first reading. ..."A primacy of jurisdiction, ordinary, immediate and episcopal" in every diocese in Christendom ... It is so unlike the powers we Anglicans concede to a Primacy. But is it? [Dix next apparently refers to the episode when the Bishop of Exeter refused to institute a clergyman, Mr Gorham, to a benefice and excommunicated latae sententiae anybody who should do so; the institution was done by a Commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dix goes on:] That was an act of jurisdiction in another man's diocese. It was an act of "ordinary" jurisdiction, since the Archbishop had an indisputable right, in the circumstances, to do it. It was an act of "immediate" jurisdiction, since he did not act as the bishop's delegate but against his protests. It was an act of "episcopal" jurisdiction, since it conveyed cure of souls. In other words, the whole Vatican definition of a primacy is latent in the harmless Anglican conception, for use when needed."

In our own time, when the Bishop of Chichester, Eric Kemp, refused to ordain or license women, these acts were performed within the Chichester Diocese by Commission from Archbishop Carey, thereby providing another example of Dix's point.

When English Anglican Canon Law was revised in the 1960s, the powers of the Archbishops were clearly laid out: "The archbishop has throughout his province at all times metropolitical jurisdiction, as superintendent of all ecclesiastical matters therein, to correct and supply the defects of other bishops, and, during the time of his metropolitical visitation, jurisdiction as Ordinary ..." A later codification made clear that, during a visitation "the jurisdiction of all inferior Ordinaries is suspended ..."

The gist of Dix's broader argumentum ad hominem was: If you say that the early popes did not "exercise jurisdiction over the whole Church", I will agree, but with the proviso that this was a period when Bishops didn't exercise jurisdiction either ... because the whole concept of canonical jurisdiction only came later and so is anachronistic. 

The sort of authority which early popes did exercise in the Universal Church, so Dix argued, was exactly the same sort of authority that contemporary bishops exercised in their local, Particular, Churches. 

When Vatican I defined the Petrine Ministry, it did so in the juridical/canonical language of its own period (just as the first four Ecumenical Councils framed their Christology in the terms of the Greek metaphysics of their own time; although, as Dix puts it, the Gospel writers had not been Greek metaphysicians). Swallow episcopal jurisdiction, you can't avoid swallowing papal jurisdiction. Swallow the anachronisms of Nicea, and you'll be hard put to avoid swallowing those of Vatican I.

Sic Dixit.

Where Dix would indeed, I strongly suspect, dissent from the exercise of the Papacy as it happens during this present disordered pontificate is in his explanation: "It is, by implication a 'reserve power' in the constitution of the Church, which presupposes an emergency in the local church." 

This seemed, in 1938, fairly obvious. The Pope may have had ordinary, immediate, and episcopal jurisdiction, but he did not normally compose and issue the annual diocesan list whereby Father X was moved from parish Y to parish Z. He did not write each Pastoral Letter. Nor did the pope lay down in a personal communication to Mrs Murphy which decades of the Rosary she was to say when she nipped out to do her shopping, or exactly whereabouts the parish vacuum cleaner was to be stored.

Or how often the heating system was to be serviced. Even though lives could be at stake ...

There can be really profound implications in whether the junior curate in a parish takes his Day Off on Tuesday or Wednesday. Since the Roman Pontiff has Immediate Jurisdiction over all Catholics ... every single one in all the world ... it is clearly his right ... and duty ... to check up on which day each junior cleric throughout the world puts his feet up. And how far up he puts them.

Whenever there is angry controversy or violent disorder about such matters, and even if there isn't, the Holy Father would certainly have the right ... and duty ... to leap nimbly on to Eurostar and to come and sort things out ... Holy Father, how badly we need you ... come and be ordinary, immediate, and episcopal among us ...


That's not how it works.

That's not how it's meant to work.

Bishops are not "mere Vicars" of the Pope ... well, they weren't supposed to be according to Vatican II, anyway. 

And not until the Era of PF have they been treated as such. Incredibly, this is an era in which a pope, so he believes, has the authority to 'phone up a parishioner anywhere in the world and to give her pastoral directions ... without any reference to her bishop or pastor. An era in which each bishop is to be surrounded by minute regulations about his liturgical arrangements in his own diocese.

This is not a 'normal' period of Church history. It is a manic aberration. Its 'papacy' is an absurd parody of the Ministry granted by the Lord to S Peter.

You think I'm exaggerating matters? Get this:

Some Roman functionary, acting, so he claims, on the authority of PF, has recently attempted to lay down exactly what factual information each parish priest may or may not divulge in his parish newsletter!!

Do the nouns 'fool' and 'bully' spring unbidden to your mind? Or the adjectives 'pompous' and 'risible'?

That is why this current tyranny is too thoroughly ridiculous to survive; and too totally preposterous to demand any sort of respect or compliance.



25 January 2022

The Preface of the Apostles

Reverend Fathers who said the Mass of the Chair of S Peter at the start of the Chair of Unity Octave, and have today celebrated the Church's greatest Teacher, S Paul the Occupant of the Twelfth Throne, will have used the Preface of the Apostles. I wonder how many of them have ever noticed a difference between the original version of this Preface as found in the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite; and the version provided in the UD (Usus Deterior) of the Roman Rite.

The Authentic form of this Preface goes back (at least) to the Verona Sacramentary, where there are three variants of its phraseology. All of them humbly beg the Lord that he may not desert his flock, but may keep it through his blessed Apostles under endless protection. 

The Deterior form, on the other hand, thanks the Lord because he does not desert his flock, but does keep it through his blessed Apostles under endless protection.

In other words, something which the Church, down to the 1970s, regarded as a boon which the Lord should be asked to bestow, from the 1970s has become something which we take for granted. We no longer ask God for it; we simply thank him for invariably doing it. 

It's just part, doncha know, of the Divine Routine. (And, significantly, the adverb suppliciter has done a runner from the text.)

I don't think these are slight matters.

One of the immense gains of the current pontificate has been to remind us ... so effectively, so vividly, so repeatedly ... that, while the Roman Pontiff cannot infallibly, ex cathedra, teach error, his teaching and his administration are capable of being (and most days are) profoundly flawed. S John Henry Newman realised this when he wrote about "suspense" in the function of the Magisterium.

The bossy brassy baroque pontiffs of the Renaissance period, and even Blessed Pio Nono, were not ashamed that the Church should pray for their Magisterium and their Administration to be kept authentic. When, around 1943, Rome prescribed that the Preface of the Apostles should also be used at Masses commemorating popes, the text of that Preface was left unmutilated. 

Apparently, even Pius XII, not invariably a self-effacing pontiff, could live with its phraseology and was willing humbly to associate it even more closely with the papal Magisterium!

It was left to those who stole power in the pontificate of S Paul VI to decide that begging God for authenticity in the exercise of the Petrine Ministry is somehow insulting to the occupant of the Roman See.


Which of these two is the more truly disordered arrogance: (1) flamboyance, the triregnum, the sedes gestatoria, the flabella and the kissing of the the papal foot ... 

 ... or (2) perverting and corrupting the texts of prayers which have survived the vicissitudes of fifteen centuries? Twisting them so as to make them assert that wall-to-wall papal inerrancy is so assured and automatic a goody that we do not even need to bother the Almighty by praying for it?

When Pope Francis III presents himself on the balcony of S Peter's so humbly wearing a base-ball cap, an umbilical ring, and denim jeans ... O frabjous day ... we shall know for certain that, in an act of unfathomable humility, the Total Inerrancy of the Pope is finally about to be formally defined.

"Not a day too soon!" I hear you cry.

24 January 2022

Is Traditionis custodes Ultra vires? July 22 2021 Cardinal Burke wrote:

 " Pope Benedict XVI, in his Letter to the Bishops of the World, accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, made clear that the Roman Missal in use before the Missal of Pope Paul VI, 'was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.'

"But can the Roman Pontiff juridically abrogate the Usus Antiquior? The fulness of power (plenitudo potestatis) of the Roman Pontiff is the power necessary to defend and promote the doctrine and discipline of the Church. It is not 'absolute power' which would include the power to change doctrine or to eradicate a liturgical discipline which has been alive in the Church since the time of Pope Gregory the Great and even earlier. The correct interpretation of Article 1 [of Traditionis custodes] cannot be the denial that the Usus Antiquior is an ever vital expression of 'the lex orandi of the Roman Rite'. Our Lord Who gave the wonderful gift of the Usus Antiquior will not permit it to be eradicated from the life of the Church.

"It must be remembered that, from a theological point of view, every valid celebration of a sacrament, by the very fact that it is a sacrament, is also, beyond any ecclesiastical legislation, an act of worship and, therefore, also a profession of faith. In that sense, it is not possible to exclude the Roman Missal, according to the Usus Antiquior, as a valid expression of the lex orandi and, therefore, of the lex credendi of the Church. It is a question of an objective reality of divine grace which cannot be changed by a mere act of will of even the highest ecclesiastical authority."

I venture to add that, if Traditionis custodes is ultra vires, contingent and inferior attempts at legislation on the basis of what it appears to mandate ... for example, by bishops ... will also have no power to bind.

23 January 2022


Ecumenical theology owes its origins to the Magisterial interventions of an occupant of the Petrine See of Rome. It began early in the first millennium with the Western Church setting itself free from the 'common sense' proposition that, since the Spirit is the possession of the Church, the Sacraments (fruits of the Spirit) cannot exist outside that Church. 

Common Sense is, so very often, a dangerous superstition. (Another example of this is the conviction of worthy but confused people that a pope who teaches error cannot truly be a pope.)

Pope S Stephen I (pope 254-257) opposed such a Common Sense view, insisting that heretical baptism is valid. Augustine, during the Donatist controversy, established that Holy Order could validly exist among schismatics. 

In times of controversy there is always a temptation to think that one's opponents, so grave are their errors, cannot possibly be validly conveying sacramental grace. (In our own time, the Sedes, poor poppets, are tempted by this 'certainty'.) But inexorably there grew up in the West the conviction that a valid minister with a very minimal intention and using an adequate Form and Matter could validly convey the sacraments, even when in a state of mortal sin, even when in schism, even when in heresy, even if apostate. 

The ultimate and sure basis for such a view lies in the certainty that the Lord Himself is the source of the sacraments and that He Himself guarantees them and that His word is Truth.

Sometimes silly people dismiss talk about validity and invalidity as 'rigid' and 'legalistic' and 'mechanical'. Foolishly, because they do not realise that the only alternative is the 'Cyprianic' view: that anybody who is not within (what the speaker confidently defines as) "the Church", lacks Baptism and all the other sacraments. This is a view that has been held in the Orthodox Church; Timothy Ware aka Metropolitan Kallistos once observed that while Westerners did not often, for obvious reasons, meet such Orthodox, they should not forget that they exist. 

Indeed they do; a very fine Orthodox piece of theological exegesis emerged in 2014 (Greek edition; English translation in 2015) which sought to demolish the entire tradition which descends from Pope Stephen through S Augustine and S Thomas Aquinas down to the 'One Baptism Ecumenism' of Vatican II. Called The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II, by protopresbyter Peter Heers, it demonstrates with great clarity where you get to if you reject the Magisterium of Pope S Stephen I. It shows that 'Vatican II' is very far from being some sort of henotikon which all Orthodox are rushing with grateful hearts to embrace. But Vatican II is right and Heers is wrong.

Confusion also involves the Sacrament/Mystery of Holy Order. Last year, a Ukrainian Catholic Priest called James Siemens, a Canadian ex-Anglican, sadly joined one of the Orthodox jurisdictions which have been involved in the ructions between Constantinople and Moskow, and was received as priest, that is, without reordination. This has caused no little dissension on the Orthodoxosphere.

So it is clear that not all Orthodox necessarily accept exactly the same reading of the same data. A friend of mine, baptised as a presbyterian, became Orthodox in Brighton simply by being chrismated. When he subsequently became a monk on Mount Athos, this was all deemed a nullity and he was baptised and chrismated afresh. Yet both Mount Athos, and Holy Trinity Brighton ... so gaily painted in the Greek national colours of white and blue! ... acknowledge the primacy of the 'See of S Andrew'.

Such a praxis implies, of course, that all non-Orthodox are unbaptised heathen. For Orthodox with these attitudes, PF is not only not any sort of Sovereign Pontiff; he is not a Bishop, not a priest, because he is not even a baptised Christian layman. 

There is, surely, little possibility of 'ecumenism' with those who are entangled in the enchanting  locks of this particular Neaera. I am not sure how wise it is for some Westerners to feel that 'Unity' with the Separated Byzantines is so much simpler a proposition than Unity with Rome.

Only the 'mechanical' and 'rigid' and 'legalistic' papal teaching, that valid sacraments can exist outside the canonical bounds of the Church, affords a basis, both theologically and practically, for ecumenical activity and progress. Vide Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus.

It is to be applauded and embraced.

22 January 2022

Death and Life in Tudor Oxfordshire (2)

A little way out of Oxford there is a typical English market town called Thame. It sits on a river, the River Thame. But that river is certainly not to be confused with the River Thames, which anyway, in Oxford, is known as the Isis ... important for you all to know all that ...

The Church in Thame contains the monument of a 'Lord Williams'; son of one of those Welshmen-on-the-make who accompanied Henry Tudor in the Welsh Invasion of 1485. Williams himself, who made a packet out of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, has the countenance of an unreflective bruiser. In the reign of Good Queen Mary, he presided at the burning of Latimer and Ridley in Oxford's Broad Street. (Quaeritur: should he be in the Guiness Book of Records? Is there anybody else in history who got to preside at the burning of two bishops?) 

Ridley's last cry was "Lorde, into thy handes.etc." Williams, affecting to consider "Lorde" as addressed to himself, replied "Master Ridley, I will remember your sute" [Foxe's plate is reproduced in Duffy's Fires of Faith]. Now that really does count as Kicking A Man When He Is Down. Compared with it, the humour of the pre-War Anglo-Catholic Society of S Peter and S Paul ('For Sale: Latimer and Ridley Pricket Stands') seems almost kindly. There is a child-like innocence, almost a whiff of the playpen, about Mgr Ronald Knox and his chums who laughed so much in the early decades of the last century.

But I don't really think Lord Williams was very funny. You see, I feel an ineradicable suspicion that, had the old bully survived a couple of decades into the reign of Bessie Tudor, he would have been found accompanying the Seminary Priests on their way to the rack, the rope, and the knife, with the same heavy and unsympathetic humour.

Go to Thame and look at his face and see what you think.

21 January 2022

Dear S Agnes ...

I love these festivals of the Sainted Virgins whom we commemorate each morning in the Canon of the Mass; these Holy Women were especially popular among the clergy of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. Glorious S Agatha's, in Portsmouth, one of our few Ordinariate churches, keeps that tradition alive and vivid.

 And S Agnes in particular reminds me of the distant but satisfying days when I was a curate in the 'concrete jungle' of the 'inner city' in South London. I was at S Michael's, Bethwin Road, and our next-door parish to the West was S Agnes at Kennington, a great Anglo-Catholic shrine rebuilt after war-time bombing. I used occasionally to supply there when the Parish Priest was away or sick.

In those early 1970s, it was a 'rough' area where one ran the risk of being beaten up, as the pp had been several times (the monk resident at the nearby Greek Cypriot church was murdered .. martyred, I should say ... by burglars). This was right at the end of that period when nearly all the surviving South London Anglican churches, having been founded by the Victorian successors of the Tractarians, were still Anglo-Catholic. But the heart had been taken out of that tradition by the bombing of so many churches (most of these were not rebuilt after the War) and the displacement of the populations from the old terraced houses. They had been dispersed far and wide when their old homes were condemned by 'the Council' and replaced by tower blocks. These in turn soon became far worse than the old 'slums' had ever been, and were unbelievably murderous buildings to inhabit ... the entirely essential lifts were nearly always out of order.

Teachers, Social Workers, Doctors, Police ... all lived as far away from the area as they could. We Clergy were the only 'professionals' who, in our tied accommodation, lived on the job. We ran our Community Newspaper to bind the community together in a struggle for more human conditions. 

One year, I said a requiem at S Agnes's for the Officers and men of the Manchester Regiment, slaughtered by the Hannover Rats in the aftermath of the '45. The executions took place more or less on the site of the church. So perhaps it had been an iffy area even in the 1740s!

Happily, most of the old congregation of S Agnes's, led by their courageous Parish Priest Fr Christopher Pearson, carried the story and tradition of that church into the Ordinariate in 2011; Father is now pastor of the Church of the Precious Blood in Southwark, not so very far away.

These continuities matter. There is a sense in which the Ordinariate is not a new community.

20 January 2022

Death and Life in Tudor Oxfordshire (1)

'Gallows were set up upon the top of the tower of the parish church and all things being ready the vicar was brought to the place and by a rope about his middle drawn up to the top of the tower and there in chains hanged in his popish apparel and having a water bucket, a sprinkler, a sacring bell, a rosary, and other such popish trash hanged about him; and there, with the same about him, remained a long time; he very patiently took his death'. 

Here in Oxford much has been made in the past of those who suffered for the Protestant religion under Queen Mary. There is a 'Martyrs' Memorial' to celebrate them. I wonder if those who demand the removal of controversial statues might start a movement against these statues! I plan a post about them in a day or two's time.

And Catholics very properly celebrate our own martyrs, including Bl George Napier, who bore witness at the Castle which is within my own old parish of S Thomas the Martyr. 

But what about those who must be accounted members of the Church of England who were executed - without trial - in 1549 because they would not accept the newly state-imposed protestant 'Prayer Book' worship? On July 9 Lord Gray (an impoverished nobleman, known for his ferocity, who harnessed his diminished fortunes to the new religion) ordered the execution of four Oxfordshire clergy: Fr Richard Tompson, Vicar of Dunstew; Fr Henry Matthew, Vicar of Deddington; Fr Henry Joyes, Vicar of Chipping Norton; and Fr John Wade, Vicar of Bloxham. It was specified that the last two should be hanged from their steeples. Laymen also suffered: John White; John Brookyns; William Boolar; Richard Whittington; (?) Bowldry. Executions were to be spread around Oxford, Banbury, Deddington, Islip, Wattlington, Thame, and Bicester 'for the more terror of the said evil people'. 

What has not always been noticed is that the 'order' describes this as 'further execution to be done'; in other words, this list is only the tip of an iceberg of slaughter already perpetrated. 

Lord Gray then hurried down to Devon and Cornwall to join Lord Russell (whose fortune, still enjoyed by his descendants the Dukes of Bedford, was based on murder and the spoliation of the Church) in suppressing the better-known 'Western Rebellion', spectacularly recalled in Eamon Duffy's Voices of Morebath. That 'rebellion' is 'better-known' than the Oxfordshire 'insurrection' precisely because it was carefully recorded by a (Protestant) local chronicler, Vowell. The scale of the slaughters there has elicited the word 'genocide'. The description, above, which starts this piece, describes the execution of the Vicar of S Thomas the Martyr, Exeter. 

These were martyrs for our Catholic Faith. But they did not die in full communion with the See of S Peter. Indeed, two of them had accepted institution from the schismatic first bishop of Oxford, occupant of a see erected by Henry VIII. They undoubtedly resented the schism in which their murderous and rapacious 'betters' had involved them; their fellow-rebels in Devon significantly included in their demands the appointment of the exiled Cardinal Pole to be First in the Privy Council. How that must have made the crooks around the Privy Council table tremble!

So what are we to make of these Martyrs? They did not absent themselves from the schismatic 'Church of England', and Catholic lists of "the English Martyrs" have never, to my knowledge, included them.

Personally ... this is just me ... I regard them as protomartyrs of that burning desire for the Catholic Faith, and for Catholic Unity with the See of S Peter, which flourished among the twentieth century 'Anglo-papalists' and was to come to happy fruition when Pope Benedict XVI erected the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham.

During this Octave of Prayer for Unity ... Unity with the See of S Peter ... I find myself thinking of them and of their heroic witness.

Would it be improper for me to celebrate a Mass from the commune of Many Martyrs, with them in mind?

19 January 2022

Thanks ...

 ... to all those who offered help with my "Query". With your assistance, I have been enabled to solve the problem!!

Ecclesial disorders


"If the word had not come to have as offensive a sound for many as 'clericalism' itself, the old term 'sacerdotalism' might well be used to describe the reconciling principle of the primitive church, so dear to S Paul, 'that there are diversities of ministries, many members, yet but one Body', in which they find their hierarchic unity; and that all are necessary to the perfection of the Church, the Body of Christ. Clericalism, I take it, means in itself simply undue exaltation of the person and importance of the minister, whether he claims priestly character and special sacramental power, or not. 'Sacerdotalism', on the other hand, means simply the belief that certain men are given by God certain priestly powers on behalf of their fellows, which their fellows have not got. These are not the same thing ... the pre-Nicene Church was certainly not 'clericalist', but it was profoundly 'sacerdotalist'."

So wrote Dom Gregory Dix; he went on to quote I Clement XLI, with its emphasis on the Bishop, presbyters, deacons, and laics having each their own tagma. He loved to point out that the Puritan liturgical drafts which were promoted as replacements for the Prayer Book were profoundly clericalist, with page after page of ministerial monologue.

(En passant, I must protest against the dishonest, thoroughly mendacious, implication in the disgraceful documentation accompanying Traditionis custodes, that affection for the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite is fomented by self-seeking clerics. Quite the opposite is the truth. Traddidom is lay-based, lay-driven, and lay-dominated. Most of its academic writers seem to be lay men and lay women, and very fine scholars they are, too. Perhaps clergy are too scared ... now ... tell me ... why should that be?)


Just as Clericalism and Sacerdotalism need to be distinguished because they are so often and easily confused, so the Petrine Ministry, and Bergoglian Ueberhyperpapalism, need to be kept carefully separate because they are so radically different. The just and proper exercise of the Petrine Office as a remora against novelty and a guarantee of the unchanging Apostolic Tradition, the Deposit of Faith, is a million miles from the wicked corruption memorably described by Joseph Ratzinger as "the impression that the pope really can do anything".

The other day, I read on the internet about an Orthodox Metropolitan, Stylianos of Australia, who, I gathered, demanded that if the Catholic Church wished to have an honest and respectful dialogue with Orthodoxy it must first "dissolve the Uniate bodies". (Does he also advocate the extermination of "Western Orthodoxy"? And the great Mone of Grottaferrata ... could it be that the stylianoi want to get their covetous hands on that? In my more sinful moments, I even wonder if the time has now come to suppress the See of Constantinople and ban for ever any clerical assumption of any title including the term "Ecumenical".)

What a hideous ecclesiological corruption is being advanced here, and by a Separated Byzantine! Such a person should know better. The Pope, apparently, perhaps with his collaborating cronies, should have the power, according to Stylianism, to "dissolve" entire groupings of autonomous and sui iuris particular Churches!! 

Pope Ming the Merciless is thus being held up as the aim of Ecumenism!!!

A single waggle of the Bad Fairy's wand, and millions of laics and clerics could, apparently, be required to choose between latinising, or joining a Separated Jurisdiction.

Beam them up, Scottie!

No wonder the Patriarchate of Moskow is so carefully on the look-out for signs of the heresy of "Papism" in the behaviour of the See of Constantinople. I am 100% with Moskow on this particular issue.

I regard the Stylianist misunderstanding of the Papacy as nothing short of monstrous.

This sort of superultrapapalism needs to be rooted out wherever it raises its ugly head.



18 January 2022

Chair of Unity Octave

Antiphon  That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

V  I say unto thee that thou art Peter
R  And upon this rock I will build my Church.

Collect  O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thine apostles Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: regard not our sins but the faith of thy Church; and grant to her peace and unity according to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

This is the form of prayer used through the first sixty years of the twentieth century by Anglo-Papalists, and commended by their organisations. When Ecumenism became broadened (and diluted??), it tended to fall out of use.

The first day of the Unity Octave, being the celebration of S Peter's Chair at Rome, is something we owe to Pope Paul IV, acting in 1558 ... the very year when Bessy Tudor's cronies were plotting a new rupture with Rome. Paul IV was not, actually, a very nice man, and did a fair bit of No Good to the English Catholic Church ... he wanted to try our own dear Cardinal Pole for heresy ... but, well, these coincidences in dates are rather intriguing, aren't they?

After the Chair of Unity Octave mutated into the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, each day in the Week was assigned to prayer for particular Christian traditions. These intentions differed from time to time. As for me, I think I may pray especially this year for Unity within the canonical borders of the One Fold of the Redeemer: that more and more Catholics may escape from the narrow, grim, frowning, focus upon hatred, and discover the generous and beautiful breadth and depth of Holy Tradition.

*I have adjusted the translation of the Collect to the text of the Ordinariate Missal, which is actually the precise wording of the Devotion as offered for use in the first Walsingham Pilgrims' Manual, suggesting that it be said outside the Slipper Chapel by our forefathers as they stood there praying God to bring them into Unity.

16 January 2022

Latin Liturgy at Oxford

The University of Oxford not only begins each term with a celebration of a Holy Communion Service in the Latin Tongue (vide this blog last week); it also offers, on the First Sunday of the Hilary Term, a Latin Litany and a Latin Sermon. Is it the only university in the UK to do such stuff? When I preached the Sermon, I complained about the fact that the University had not welcomed Professor Ratzinger during his recent Apostolic Visitation to our country; and spoke critically about a Professor Dawkins (who, sadly, was not present to hear me).

An hour spent browsing in Bodley through old University Calendars reveals the following about the history of these latinophile practices.

They are not, as one would have loved to believe, a survival from Medieval Oxford, but a piece of Tractarianism. By the start of the nineteenth century, each of Oxford's four terms [our modern Trinity term in the summer is historically a conflation of the old 'Easter Term' and the old 'Trinity, or Act, Term'] began with Latin Litany, Latin Commemoration of Benefactors, and Latin Sermon, apparently at about 10.00 in the morning in the University Church [the S Mary's where S John Henry Newman was Vicar, and with the baroque porch and statue of our Lady which became part of the indictment leading to the martyrdom of Archbishop William Laud]. In 1862 "and Holy Communion ... also in Latin", was added. I suspect this was a result of the Oxford Movement aka the Catholic Revival. So things continued until 1901, when the Holy Communion was separated from the Litany and Sermon and was now to be "Earlier in the day". I put this down to either or both of the following: the preference of Anglican Catholics to communicate fasting; and the growth in numbers of non-Anglican or non-communicant dons. In 1920, the Latin Litany and Sermon were reduced to once a year - on the first Sunday of the Hilary Term, when they still happen - but the Latin Communion was and still is three times a year. 

I rather relish the recollection of having both preached and celebrated in S John Henry's Oxford patch, the old Newmanopolis ... but not half so much as I relish having celebrated and preached in the new Newmanopolis, his Birmingham Oratory!

The Proctors, representing formally the body corporate of Chancellor Masters and Scholars, attended until 2008, when they decided that it was invidious for them thus to privilege [by getting out of bed for an 8.00 service!] one religion and a fortiori one sect of one religion.

I have reproduced an old thread upon the same subject.

15 January 2022

More on Adrian Fortescue and the Papacy

Writing about the dogma of Papal Infallibilty, Dr Fortescue explained that 

"It does not mean any sort of inspiration given to the Pope. It does not mean that he will always know or understand more about our religion than anyone else. A Pope might be quite ignorant and a very poor theologian. He may make a mistake as private theologian; only God will take care that he does not commit the whole Church to it. Papal infallibility is a negative protection. We are confident that God will not allow a certain thing to happen; that is all. It does not mean that the Pope will always give the wisest or best decision, or that what he says will always be well-advised or opportune. He may not speak at all; he may preserve a regrettable silence, just when it would be greatly to the good of the Church if he did speak. But if he does speak, and if he speaks in such a way as to commit the Church, then what he says will not be false. It may be inadequate."

Fortescue is speaking about the actual exercise of the ex cathedra Infallibility; obviously, papal interventions at a lesser level than the formally infallible will be as liable, or more liable, to the failings Fr Adrian so deftly itemises!

My own humble opinion is that the arrogance which lies at the heart of Bergoglianity is one of the factors which set a question mark against the legislative, and other major, intrusions of PF within the life of the Church. Fuelled by the confidence that he is the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit, it is hardly surprising that he is of the opinion that it lies within his competence to 'abrogate' ... with the arrival on your doorstep of tomorrow's edition of Osservatore Romano ... a liturgical tradition which stretches back more than 1500 years.

I do not believe that PF's inflated notion of his powers can place obligation upon the consciences of priests and people. Still less can it bind Bishops, who are Successors of the Apostles. Right Reverend gentlemen surely have better ways of spending their time than scurrying round their dioceses with PF's "little list" in their hands. (For example: the Catholic bishop of Plymouth looks after an area in which there are no fewer than six Anglican bishops.)

Mind you, if I were a bishop, I would use PF's words about doing the Novus Ordo correctly, as a pretext to have a real liturgical Go at 'liberal' clergy. I would ...

No, I wouldn't. That's not what episkope is about, is it? I wish someone would explain to PF what it is about.

14 January 2022

Idolatry, Apostasy, and Bergoglianity

Fr Aidan Nichols was surely right in hoping for a revision of the Church's law, rendering it possible for erroneous teaching by an occupant of the Chair of S Peter to be investigated. But I wonder if, perhaps, it might be even more important for it to be possible to test in court the behaviour of any bishop, even and especially a Roman Pontiff, who is widely suspected of public Apostasy because of his prima facie public acts of Idolatry.

I am reminded of the description in Dix (Shape pp 24-26) of the Apostasy of the clergy of Cirta (Constantine, in Algeria) in 303. Here is a snippet of the great Anglican Benedictine in characteristic  (purple passage) full flood:

" ... What could they have said? To have surrendered the scriptures and the sacred vessels was 'apostasy', still for clerics (though not for laymen) the irremissible sin for which there was no possible penance. And they knew it; Felix [the City Warden] knew it; even the grinning public slaves knew it. They had saved their lives - but they had all irremediably forfeited their orders in that quarter of an hour. I know no more moving picture of the inner meaning of the persecutions than that shamefaced helpless group of apostate African clergy with the uncouth Berber names - the men who were not martyrs - as the public slave saw them across the shoulders of their enemies and jotted down their actions on that hot May afternoon sixteen centuries ago."

The last decade or so has given us photographs of a Jesuit General praying like a Buddhist among Buddhists. I believe the most recent very senior cleric to be caught apparently committing Idolatry 'to camera' was Maradiaga. It is claimed, I do not know upon what evidence, that there is another cardinal who once offered flowers to the deities in a Hindu temple at Neasden (Yes!! There really is such a place!). Pretty certainly misreported nonsense? Well, let us hope so. But it is the sort of misreported nonsense that can be unsettling for us simple and unsophisticated members of the plebs sancta Dei. I suspect I have in mind the technical sense of the term skandalon.

Then, you will remind me, there is the Pachamama business. It is important, in all these cases, that nothing should be presumed or asserted without a proper forensic investigation about what, physically, occurred; what the meaning of such acts was in terms of the non-Christian religion concerned; and how these acts in se relate to established Catholic theological notions of Idolatry and Apostasy. It is not for an individual such as me (or you) to pass judgment since I lack the needful theological and legal training. You probably lack them too.

Such matters need rigorous, forensic, investigation in a free court.

Meanwhile, I wonder how we are bound to regard those against whom there is very plausible and undenied  prima facie evidence of Idolatry. Are they still morally entitled to the exercise of their Orders (of course, the character of the Sacrament of Holy Order will certainly not have been expunged from their souls ... the Church's Rigid Dogma makes that clear). 

My instinct is that any expression of an opinion by me, at a time when such individuals have not yet been properly tried and convicted, is way above my pay-grade. 

And pretty certainly way above yours.

But ... during (for example) the Diocletian persecution, many Christians bore painful witness to Christ against the background of the Apostasy of their hierarchical superiors.

So, simply to ask these questions, even about PF and highly placed Bergoglianical prelates, is not a subversive frivolity. Indeed, Canon 212 talks about us having the duty (officium) to raise such matters of concern. If the appearance or possibility of Apostasy at the very highest level in the Church is not a valid matter of concern, I cannot think of anything else that could be. Can you?

If a future court were to find (ex. gr.) that PF did commit a formal act of Apostasy during his Pachamama games, presumably a future Annuario Pontificio would record his pontificate as having come, de iure, to an end at the moment of his sad apostasy.

Such of his later de facto routine enactments as were deemed unobjectionable could, I imagine, be granted a sanatio in radice under the new pontificate.

13 January 2022

Rhodanus Eloquentiae Latinae ... the Feast of S Hilary and of All Holy Airport Bishops

 "The Rhone of Latin Eloquence": is that how you would characterise S Hilary of Poitiers? Truth to tell, I am not totally sure that I understand what S Jerome meant when he thus described the great Athanasius of the West. Or when he used another phrase: that S Hilary was the 'Gallic Cothornus'. The Rhone, of course, for the Romans, was the great River of Gaul ... flowing down through a coastline civilised for centuries by Greek colonies, temples, theatres, vineyards; the river of the city of Arles, which was for late Antiquity one of the world's great, primatial, cities. As one looks across from the pons abruptus at Avignon, one is certainly aware of the might of this river. Perhaps there ought to be a special word for the world's really great rivers. Megalopotamoi?

Today is the "real" festival of S Hilary; it was only because they wanted to disentangle him from the Octave Day of the Epiphany that some usages eased him onto the following day.

I think it was in 2013 that PF coined that inspired and wonderful phrase "airport bishop". Keen though the Airport Pope has himself been (like his predecessors from S Paul VI onwards) to swing around the globe like a besequinned and idolised pop-star, PF is dead scared of anybody else getting in on the same act. But S Hilary was ... whatever "an Airport bishop" would have to be in Greek or Latin (any ideas?). 

One powerful Arian crook, the Primate of Arles himself, by insidiis et dolo got S Hilary exiled to Syria. But ... gracious me ... we orthodox don't play by the rules, do we? Just recall how the Ss Eusebii I mentioned in December, and S Athanasius himself, made good use of their government-imposed exiles. S Hilary did exactly the same. He spread the horrors of Catholic Truth wherever he went. The Arian bully-boys hand-in-glove with the government found him most terribly off-message.

This, of course, was an era very much like our own, when, in S John Henry Newman's neat expression, the Church's Teaching Authority was In Suspense. I don't think you'll find much mention of the Roman Bishopric in the old Breviary readings for S Hilary. In a couple of centuries, when you look at the Breviary Readings for S Raymond Burke and S Athanasius Schneider, you may not find many references to PF.

S Hilary is most definitely, and in so very many ways, a Saint For Our Time.

So ... S Hilary was such a nuisance to the Arians in the East that they were soon plotting to get him out of their hair by sending him back to Poitiers! From there, he seems to have converted the whole of Gaul ... all three parts ... from dozy old unreflective Arian-like assumptions to full-blooded and explicit Nicene Christianity, doing it partly (as S Ambrose was to do later) by composing Catholic hymns with sound Christology for his laity to sing. (One of the metres he used was the trochaic tetrameter catalectic, a 'triumphalist' metre, associated with Victory [Pange lingua gloriosi ...] ... S Venantius Fortunatus ... S Thomas Aquinas ...)

Dom Gueranger says that at Poitiers in his own time, the Preface of the Holy Trinity was used on the Feast of S Hilary. Not a bad idea. Unrubrical; but we mustn't be Rigid.

No; "Airport bishops" don't fit into a Bergoglianical agenda, do they ... and rumour had it that Bishop Schneider was addressed strictly about the need to cut down on his travels and to hand his airmiles over to Cardinal Parolin.

When you are a pope and you have an ingenious master-plan, carefully crafted and based on using your office to spread error and immorality thoughout the world (and to suppress the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite and to miserify those who love it), you're not exactly going to be pleased when some German bishop from Kazakhstan starts popping up all over the place with orthodoxy and orthopraxy springing up around him like the fritillaries along Addison's Walk.

Not quite the sort of "Surprise" the Bergoglians thought they had scripted, is it?

Nor precisely the right sort of "Mess".

12 January 2022

Saint John Henry's Altar

Tomorrow is the Thursday within "Noughth Week" ... in our Anglican days, back in 2009, I once kicked off the University 'Hilary' Term in the University Church by celebrating in Latin the 1662 rite. 

This was in the very same church in which Cranmer its author made his last academic appearance ... viva voce!! ... before his final public appointment outside the Master's Lodgings of Balliol College, in the City ditch we now call Broad Street. (You can still discover the North walls of the city behind and built into the shop fronts along the South side of Broad Street.)

And what strange Latin I used on that occasion.. 

I think the Altar Book placed in front of me was compiled in 1706; it attempts to translate Cranmer's English without much regard for Cranmer's Sarum originals. The 'Standard' Latin BCP as used since the 'Oxford Movement'  by latinate Anglo-Catholics has more than an eye on Sarum: Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare. But 'Oxford 1706' has Vere dignum et iustum est, quodque iure debemus. Standard has: Simili modo posteaquam coenatum est. 'Oxford 1706' offered: Similiter ... And Standard retains the enim which a Latin dislike of asyndeton inserts into the Words of Dominical Institution; 'Oxford 1706' omits it. Servet instead of custodiat in the Words of Administration seems just plain contrariness!

The stalls at which the congregation knelt had houselling cloths; I wonder if this is a Tractarian innovation, or a genuine medieval survival.

The Bedell of Medicine led in the Senior ProProctor and the ProViceChancellor; you might deem that to be a bit of a come-down since the days when the whole majesty of an Anglican University, led and represented by Proctors and Vice-Chancellor, was present, but I thought it was jolly nice of them to come.  

Gummed into the front of the service book was a typed sheet with the vestry prayers, and, as I read the one at the end of Mass, I realised: it was a Latin translation of the 1928 Prayer Book's Corpus Christi collect. Which, in turn, was an English translation of S Thomas Aquinas' Latin collect. (!!!!!)

Anglicanism does have its quaint side. But I venerated with a kiss before Mass the engravings in the vestry of Saint John Henry  ... and of blessed Charles Stuart.

11 January 2022

The views of Fr Adrian Fortescue on the limitations upon the Papal Office

 " ... even in religious matters the Pope is bound, very considerably, by the Divine constitution of the Church. There are any number of things that the Pope cannot do in religion. He cannot modify, nor touch in any way, one single point of revelation Christ gave to the Church; his business is only to guard this against attack and false interpretation. We believe that God will so guide him that his decisions of this nature will be nothing more than a defence or unfolding of what Christ revealed. The Pope can neither make nor unmake a sacrament, he cannot affect the essence of any sacrament in any way. He cannot touch the Bible; he can neither take away a text from the inspired Scriptures nor add one to them. He has no fresh inspiration nor revelation. His business is to believe the revelation of Christ, as all Catholics believe it, and to defend it against heresy."

Thus Dr Fortescue, in his (beautifully printed!) The Early Papacy, 1920, three years before his death.

I think that readers who perused the texts I printed yesterday ... the Reply of the German Bishops to the attacks of Bismarck, and the enthusiastic approval by Pope Pius IX of what they wrote ... may be struck by the close, even verbal, similarity of Fortescue's lucid and engaging exposition to the passages I cited from Denzinger (although his book is carefully footnoted, he does not give references to these passages).

I have printed, above, in red, those of Fr Fortescue's words which laudably emphasise, just as S John Henry Newman did in his Apologia, the essentially negative function of the Petrine Ministry; it is a remora against innovation. 

Like Vatican I, AF emphasises that the Roman Pontiff is not the recipient of new inspiration or revelation. 

I am not a Dogmatic Theologian; but it is at this point that the praxis of this pontificate worries me most. I write, of course, subject to appropriate correction, but the persistent suggestion that the Holy Spirit is using Pope Francis to guide the Church into "surprises", seems to me, prima facie, so diametrically opposed to the clear words of Vatican I that I cannot help wondering if the Bergoglianity on the lips both of PF and of his admirers counts formally as heresy. 

In his unfortunate Epiphany homily last week, he once again took the opportunity to roll out his tired and angry rhetoric about the Spirit of Change. 

In this inordinately lengthy pontificate, already far too many painful decades long, he has expressed his own Surprise that so many, particularly the younger, turn to the Authentic forms of the Roman Rite ... it never seems to occur to him that this Surprise might just possibly be one of the Surprises of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary: his response to the Surprise of Tradition is to attempt to restrict and extinguish it it by minute and rigid regulation accompanied by intemperate abuse and sheer cruelty of action. 

When the youthful lads and lasses of the Franciscans of the Immaculate developed Surprising liturgical preferences, he and his thugs soon put paid to them and that, didn't they?

Why is he so eaten up with hatred? Does it go back to unhappy childhood experiences?

I gave evidences of these Bergoglianical preoccupations in my paper published in Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies, Arouca, 2021. Among many examples, I included some words of Vincent Nichols, the retiring Archbishop of Westminster, asserting that the Holy Spirit guided PF's election and guides him daily. 

Nichols claimed to be writing to PF "on the behalf of the Catholic Community of England ...". 

Not in my name.

10 January 2022


(1) "The decrees of the Vatican Council give not even the shadow of a foundation to the assertion that the pope has been made by them an absolute ruler (principem absolutum), and, indeed, by virtue of the Infallibility, "a monarch more absolute than any in the world". ...  even as far as concerns ecclesiastical matters, the pope cannot be called an absolute monarch (monarchus absolutus), since indeed he is subject to Divine Law and is bound to those things which Christ set in order (disposuit) for His Church. He cannot change the constitution (constitutionem) of the Church which was given to it by its Divine Founder, after the manner of a civil legislator who can change the constitution of the state. The constitution of the Church in all essential matters is founded in the divine arrangement (ordinatione) and is therefore immune from every arbitrary human disposition." (Denzinger 3114)

(2) "Venerable Brethren, you have continued the glory of the Church, since you have undertaken to restore the genuine sense of the definitions of the Vatican Council which had been twisted by the deceptive interpretation publicised by a certain circular letter, lest it deceive the faithful and, converted into an object of ill-will, appear to provide a handle to machinations being placed in the way of the freedom of election of a new pontiff. Indeed, such is the perspicuity and solidity of your declaration, that, since it leaves nothing to be desired, it ought to provide the occasion for our most fulsome congratulations; unless the crafty (versuta) voice of some journals were to demand from us an even weightier testimony - a voice which, in order to restore the force of the letter which has been refuted by you, has tried to deprive your hard work of credibility by arguing that the teaching of the conciliar definitions approved by you has been softened and on that account does not truly correspond with the mind of this Apostolic See. We therefore reject this sly (vafram) and dodgy (calumniosam) insinuation and suggestion; since your declaration expresses the inherent (nativam) catholic judgement, which is accordingly that of the sacred Council and of this Holy See, skilfully fortified and cleverly (nitide) explained with such brilliant (luculentis) and inescapable arguments (rationum momentis) that it can demonstrate to any honest person that there is nothing in the attacked definitions which is new or makes any change ..." (Denzinger 3117)

Let me explain. (1) is part of the response of the German Hierarchy to Chancellor Bismarck, who, after the definition of Papal Infallibility in 1870, had attacked it as being subversive both of State and of Church. The German Bishops thus vigorously refuted the notion that the Pope is an absolute monarch who can do anything.

Their admirable declaration was then attacked on the grounds that they were toning down what Papal Primacy and Infallibility really meant; that their motive in doing so was simply to calm things down in Germany; it was even suggested that Rome itself was angry with them.

(2) is part of the message of Blessed Pius IX to the German Bishops, confirming their interpretation of the Council. And can you detect anything niggardly about his approbation of their words? Even Pio Nono, despite his undeserved reputation, had no notion of the arbitrary, absolutist, and despotic view of the Papacy which is held ... but only when it suits them! ... by modern liberals enthusiastic about promoting an innovatory agenda.


 In the light of (1) and (2), let us now consider the centrally important paragraph by which S John Paul II, in his brief document Ordinatio sacerdotalis, condemned the idea of women priests.

"Ut igitur omne dubium auferatur circa rem magni momenti, quae ad ipsam Ecclesiae divinam constitutionem pertinet ... declaramus Ecclesiam facultatem nullatenus habere ordinationem sacerdotalem mulieribus conferendi, hancque sententiam ab omnibus Ecclesiae fidelibus esse definitive tenendam."

The Holy Pontiff thus unambiguously declares that the inability of the Church to ordain women is a matter which "pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself". The language he uses is a clear allusion to (1) above. Indeed, we know that Cardinal Ratzinger, who presumably drafted this passage, had (1) very much in his mind: you will recall his famous condemnation of the "Spirit of Vatican II" error that the Pope is an absolute monarch who, especially if acting upon the mandate of a ecumenical council, can do anything.

I hope this simple clarification may be of assistance to anybody who finds him/herself obliged to oppose the idea that 'WO' is a matter which is up for any discussion other than that of further demonstrating the coherence of the Holy Pontiff's teaching with the general body of Catholic doctrine. To argue for this aberration would be an assault, not merely upon the infallible Ordinary Magisterium of the Universal Church which S John Paul here declares, but upon the very wise limitations with which Vatican I surrounded its teaching on the Papacy ... "the Holy Spirit was not promised to the popes so that they could disclose new doctrine but so that they can guard the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles." 

To be fair: I here add that PF has used opportunities to reinforce the teaching of his predecessors about the impossibility of woomen in priesthood. My assumption is that he has looked into this matter; has had it explained to him that there is no way of 'getting round' this teaching; and has accepted that fact.
Ordinatio sacerdotalis declared that the Church nullatenus has the facultas to ordain women. The sense of these two Latin words is important. Facultas comes from the root of facere, to do; and has a general sense of the wherewithal, the means, to do, to effect something. To say that the Church lacks the facultas to ordain women is like saying that a man with an empty purse does not have the facultas to to give a sovereign to a beggar; a man without a membrum virile does not have the facultas to perform sexual intercourse. In other words, the Holy Pontiff is not saying that the Church ought not to ordain women; he is saying that she is unable to do so. If she attempted to, the action would be a nullity, just as to give someone a 'dud cheque' is to give them nothing. Nullatenus [accent on the a; I once heard a liberal so-called scholar mispronounce it in a symposium with comically vigorous decision] is a post-classical word meaning literally "right as far as, absolutely all the way up to, nothing". The Holy Pontiff could have written nullam habere facultatem ... ("has no wherewithal to ... ") or facultatem non habere ... ("does not have the wherewithal to ... "), but instead chose, more  emphatically, to assert that the Church has "absolutely no wherewithal whatsoever ... none at all ...
                                                     nil, zilch ... ".

9 January 2022

A happy hymn

Leo XIII deserves to be better known. And he deserves to be better known for his hymns. 

He wrote the hymns we use on today's feast of the Holy Family. Gregory diPippo once passed on to me a splendid story about Pope Leo waking up in the middle of the night and frantically ringing the bell for his servants, and shouting "Il piede! Il piede!". [Piede is Italian for Foot, and metres as well as popes have feet.] They assumed he had hurt his foot and wanted a medic; instead, he called for pen and paper. He had just solved, in his sleep ... as one does ... a metrical problem in a poem he was working on ... waking up with the solution in his head, he needed to jot it down before he forgot it. I wonder if he explained this to his footman. (Yes!! It's Pantomime Time!!!)

Back to today's Holy Family hymns.

The Mattins hymn Sacra iam splendent. was composed by Leo in the Sapphic Metre, which was either invented or brought into prominence by Sappho, a poetess of the Greek island of Lesbos (which PF loves to visit) around 600ish BC, and made popular in Latin by Catullus and Horace; a metre which has always been a favourite among schoolboys because it is one of the easier metres in which to write Latin verse. Perhaps that is why it was so widely used in the Carolingian period; but Leo was too good a Latinist to have chosen it from such a base motive. [Incidentally, you can always recognise this metre on a printed page because it is the metre where the fourth line is shorter than the first three, and goes Tumtitty Tumtum; e.g. English Hymnal 335 Wherefore, O Father, we thy humble servants, which was used (and probably written) to cover the silent repetition by the Anglican Catholic clergy of the Unde et memores etc. of the Canon Romanus, the oblatory language of which it echoes.]

Back yet again to Leo and his Holy Family hymn ... he bequeathed three problems to the post-Vatican II revisers.
(1) Horror of horrors, the hymn was ten (10!!) stanzas long. Far too long for modern clergy.

(2) The first stanza evokes a lovely picture of a Catholic (or Orthodox) church at festival time; lights burning; altars wreathed; clouds of incense. Just think how maddened PF and Arthur Roche would have been, had it been allowed to remain! Just imagine the spittle-flecked pontifical tirades!
Sacra iam splendent decorata lychnis
Templa, iam sertis redimitur ara,
Et pio fumant redolentque acerrae
        Thuris honore. 

(3) "fessis". Disgusting? It is disgusting. Let me tell you why.

Leo wrote that our blessed Lady, a good Mother and a good spouse, gave a helping hand to both Son and husband,
.......................................... felix
si potest curas relevare fessis
       munere amico.
[ ................. happy
if she can lighten, with a friendly duty,
      cares for the weary.]
But 'fessis' suggests to the Francophone or Italophone ear not 'weary' but 'buttocks'. [A Late Latin word? Cognate with fascia?] So Dom Anselmo Lentini, boss of the coetus which revised the hymns of the Divine Office after the Council, changed it to the problem-free word 'lassis', thus spoiling the nicely alliterative "felix ... fessis" but sparing the blushes of those notoriously bashful constituencies, the French and Italian clergy. 

I will award this Blog's Order of Chastity, Fourth Class, which authorises you to have a pink pompom on your biretta, to any reader who can demonstrate that there is another language in which 'lassis' sounds even more indelicate than 'fessis' does to French and Italians.

Leo was a fluent French speaker. Yet, as a cultivated Latinist, he wrote "fessis" without a moment's anxiety. 

What sort of cultural shift has landed us with an 'emancipated' society in which the word is too sniggerworthy to be printable? 

I wonder if Dom Anselmo considered spelling fessis as f***is.

8 January 2022

Big lies and little lies and polychrome diversity

 "Summorum Pontificum confirmed juridically that the Latin Church had lived for some four decades under the dominion of a lie. The Vetus Ordo had not been lawfully prohibited. Much persecution of devout priests and layfolk that took place during those decades is therefore now seen to have been vis sine lege [force without law]. For this so long to have been so true with regard to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which lies at the heart of the Church's life, argues a profound illness deep within the Latin Church. And the Big Lie was reinforced by multitudes of Little Lies ... that the Council mandated reordered sanctuaries ... that the Council mandated exclusive use of the vernacular ... The de facto situation created by the Big Lie and the Little Lies combined ought not to be regarded as normative. Its questionable parentage must give it a degree of provisionality, even (perhaps especially) to those who find it comfortable to live with. The onslaught upon the Franciscans of the Immaculate suggests that there are those, high in the Church's administration, who have still internalised neither the juridical findings of Summorum Pontificum nor its pastoral call for harmony."

 I wrote this in January 2014. Rereading it seven years later, reproduced in Professor Kwasniewski's highly cogent recent article (onepeterfive), I feel its force even more strongly! A clique of men who now de facto hold high power in the Church never did respect the teaching of Summorum Pontificum; now, unhappily, they feel strong enough to demand that bishops, priests, and people should all bow down before them and their Big Lie.

On December 2 last, PF, in Cyprus, talked about the Latin Church as a "polychrome people", a "true point of encounter between different ethnicities and cultures." He went on to conclude:

"Please remember, walls do not and should not exist in the Catholic Church. For the Church is a common home, a place of relationships and of coexistence in diversity."

Oh Yeah?? So is this exciting "common home" big enough to encompass "in diversity" the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite? 

We already had one indication of PF's preferred polychrome diversities when he explained to us (in Abu Dhabi) that they include the diversity of false religions. Pretty broad, huh? Pretty tolerant type of bloke, eh?

Strangely, his Epiphany homily on Wednesday showed a man still determined to continue his spiteful campaign of facile sneers against those fellow-Catholics whom he hates.

No; "hates" is not too strong a word. Hatred is the sick leitmotiv of this pontificate. 


7 January 2022

Fr Aidan Nichols on heretical popes

On August 18, 2017, Dan Hitchens published news in the Catholic Herald about a paper read by the Dominican, Oxford and Cambridge, theologian, Fr Aidan Nichols. 

Fr Aidan publishes a lot; his connection with us goes back to the years long before the Ordinariate when he devoted enormous amounts of time and care to helping us as we worked towards what finally came to fruition in the Ordinariate. He is a major theological heavyweight.

Back in 2017, we were all coming to terms with Amoris laetitia, PF's first major encouragement of heresy and incitement to sexual immorality. Aidan's paper entered into those topics ("an extremely grave situation") . 

Today, however, I'm planning to give a new airing to his more general remarks. Sadly, the full text of the paper is not available; after the Hitchens report, Aidan appears to have been forbidden to share it further. 

In Easter Week, 2019, he broke silence to the extent of signing the Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church; in 2020, he was sent to teach in the seminary in Jamaica (seven seminarians!).

Fr Nichols said that neither the Western nor Eastern Codes of Canon Law contain a procedure "for enquiry into the case of a pope believed to have taught doctrinal error, much less is there provision for a trial." He remarked that the tradition of canon law is that "the first see is judged by no-one". But the First Vatican Council had restricted the doctrine of papal infallibility, so that "it is not the position of the Roman Catholic Church that a pope is incapable of leading people astray by false teaching as a public doctor. He may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom ... but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly given the piety that has surrounded the figures of the popes since the pontificate of Pius IX, this fact appears to be unknown to to many who ought to know better." Given the limits on papal infallibility, Aidan remarked, canon law might be able to accommodate a formal procedure for inquiring into whether a pope had taught error ... "a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error."

He said that the judicial process would "dissuade popes from any tendency to doctrinal waywardness or simple negligence", and would answer some "ecumenical anxieties" of Anglicans, Orthodox, and others who fear that the pope has carte blanche to impose any teaching. "Indeed, it may be that the present crisis of the Roman Magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of primacy in this regard."

He thought that this procedure might be less "conflictual" if it took place during a future pontificate, rather as Pope Honorius was only condemned after he had ceased to occupy the chair of Peter.

6 January 2022

Help needed with Hymn

Here is the text of a hymn, part of which is still used at the Epiphany in Milan.

Illuminans altissimus Micantium astrorum globos, Pax, Vita, Lumen, Veritas, Iesu fave precantibus.

Seu mystico baptismate Fluenta Iordanis retro Conversa quondam tertio Praesentem sacraris diem;

Seu stella partum Virginis Caelo micans signaveris Et hac adoratum die Praesepe magos duxeris. 

Vel hydriis plenis aqua Vini saporem infuderis, Hausit minister conscius Quod ipse non impleverat.

Aquas colorari videns, Inebriare flumina, Mutata elementa stupe[n]t Transire in usus alteros.

Sic quinque milibus virum Dum quinque panes dividis, Edentium sub dentibus In ore crescebat cibus,

Multiplicabatur magis Dispendio panis suo, Quis haev videns mirabitur Iuges meatus fontium.

Inter manus frangentium Panis rigatur profluus, Intacta quae non fregerant Fragmenta subrepunt viris.

I am genuinely unsure about what is going on in some places. I wonder if, like ex.gr Ad Cenam Agni it dates from a disintegrating era in Roman grammar. Does the second stanza contain that construction beloved of the dimmer members of the Lower Sixth, an Accusative Absolute? Is adoratum a supine of purpose following a verb of motion? etc.etc.. Here is the crudest of crude and crudely literal translations, in the hope that it will enable you to see where I have gone wrong. I think I have in the final stanza!

Jesu, very high above, illuminating the spheres of the shining stars: Peace, Life, Light, Truth; be favourable to those who beseech.

Whether you shall have sanctified the present day with mystic baptism, the streams of the Jordan of old turned backwards three times,

Or, as a star shining from heaven, you shall have marked the birth-giving of the Virgin and on this day led the Magi to worship the manger,

Or poured the taste of wine into jars full of water, the steward decanted knowing that he himself had not filled them,

Seeing the waters being coloured, the flows becoming inebriated, he wonders at the changed elements transitioning into other uses.

Thus, while you divide five loaves for five thousands of men, the food was increasing in the mouth under the teeth of the eaters,

The loaf was being multiplied more by its own distribution; who, seeing these things, will wonder at the never-failing flows of fountains.

Between the hands of those breaking the flowing bread is chanelled; untouched fragments which they had not broken creep secretly into the men.

I can't help liking it. The idea of water becoming inebriated ... the jingle edentium sub dentibus ... the notion that the multiplying loaves resembled flowing water ...

I like the topos of the Jordan turning back for the third time; I like the idea of bringing in the Feeding of the Five Thousand to complement the Intoxication of the Wedding Guests ... I think it is in a sermon of S Augustine; and Prospero Lambertini, later Pope Benedict XIV, brings his erudition to bear on the subject in his de Festis.

There's more to Epiphany than meets the eye!


5 January 2022

Perhaps ... Saint John Henry on pre-'Ecclesiological' English Church buildings

 " ... the dilapidated deformed church, with its outside staircases, its unsightly galleries, its wide-intruded windows, its uncouth pews, its low nunting table, its forlorn vestry, and its damp earthy smell ... there were the old monuments, with Latin inscriptions and strange devices, the black boards with white letters, the Resurgams and grinning skulls, the fire-buckets, the faded militia-colours, and, almost as much a fixture, the old clerk, with a Welsh wig over his ears, shouting the responses out of place  ... "

Almost like a cartoon by Hogarth verbis picta, yes? But, tucked away in a corner of a box-pew, perhaps there was a Jane Austen or a Maria Edgeworth ... or perhaps an elderly spinster remembering when the militia colours were not so faded ... remembering when the next pew contained an interesting young man in a red coat who, perhaps, was not to survive Waterloo ... whose eye, perhaps, occasionally, accidentally, met hers ...

When the Pevsners of this world censoriously notice that a particular church suffered a 'harsh' restoration under the Victorians, perhaps they forget how horribly dilapidated and deformed so many churches had become.

S John Henry remembers so much for us.

Dearly beloved, the Scripture moveth us in sundry places ...

If someone asked me to be specific about what 'Englishness' means, perhaps I might invite her to read Newman. She would at least discover what Englishness was.

4 January 2022

Must Rhodes fall? More light on the elimination of politically incorrect statues.

Should statues be pulled down?  Of erstwhile slavers? Of British colonialists? Of Confederacy generals?

There is a neat, possible resolution to this controversial modern dilemma in an essay (Mobled King, 1911) by an English belletrist ... I will not insult your perspicacity by spelling out his name. He was inspired by the haunting sight, in Italy, of a statue of King Umberto I which, once erected, had never been unveiled.

"I had hoped that by this essay I might rid my mind of him. He is inexcutible, confound him! ...

"In my young days, I wrote a plea that all the statues in the streets and squares of London should be extirpated and, according to their materials, smashed or melted down. From an aesthetic standpoint, I went a trifle too far: London has a few good statues. From a humane standpoint, my plea was all wrong. Let no violence be done to the effigies of the dead. There is no disrespect in setting up a dead man's effigy and then not unveiling it. But there would be no disrespect, and there would be no violence, if the bad statues familiar to London were ceremoniously veiled, and their inscribed pedestals left just as they are ...

"Let an inventory be taken of those statues. Let it be submitted to Lord Rosebery, and he be asked to tick off all those statesmen, poets, philosophers and other personages about whom he would wish to orate. Then let the list be passed on to other orators, until every statue on it shall have its particular spokesman. Then let the dates for the various veilings be appointed. If there be four or five veilings every week, I conceive that the whole list will be exhausted in two years or so. And my enjoyment of the reported speeches will not be the less keen because I can so well imagine them ...

"Not, however, because those speeches will so edify and soothe me, nor merely because those veiled statues will make less uncouth the city I was born in, do I feverishly thrust on you my proposition. The wish in me is that posterity shall be haunted by our dead heroes even as I am by Umberto. Rather hard on posterity? Well, the prevision of its plight would cheer me in mine immensely."

3 January 2022


 In probably the most serious crisis to hit the Catholic Church in its nearly two-thousand-year history, Pope ABC has abdicated only 21 days after his Election and just nine days after his Solemn Inauguration. The news broke last night shortly after reports emerged that the DEF newspaper group was planning to publish allegations that, as a young priest in his thirties, he was guilty of the multiple sexual abuse of young people and transpersons of several sexes and varied genders.

The abdication takes effect in two weeks. It is thought that this elapse of time is designed to give ABC the opportunity to relocate in seclusion away from the Vatican while still having Sovereign Immunity to protect him from arrest. His departure from Fiumicino airport by private jet late yesterday evening has been connected with a flurry of unusual transactions in the Vatican Bank ... ... ...

In unrelated news, it is reported that the previous pope, ABC's predecessor pope Francis, having recognised a retired reporter lurking at the back of an elderly airliner, forced him to take part in an off-the-cuff interview concerning ... etc.etc..

Perhaps the details of such a scenario are not quite as improbable today as they might have seemed a couple of generations ago. Popes are (by convention rather than by strict law) elected from among the body of Cardinals, and there have been unfortunate cases among members of the Sacred College in recent years. McCarrick ... O'Brian ... rumours involving the name of another dead British Cardinal ... quite apart from reports about disreputable goings-on involving, if not directly implicating, curial officials of various ranks. And: how thoroughly is each papabile Cardinal vetted before the final ballot and the catasterising white smoke? At all?

Yes ... the practicalities. I know. But one way of circumventing this problem would be the careful vetting of all Cardinals before their final admission to the Sacred College. I don't just mean psychometric tests at Manchester; I have in mind searching investigations by professional operators with a track record of uncovering nastinesses which were buried decades earlier.

Corrupt Cardinals and unworthy Popes may have been less of a menace to the Church in past centuries. But the advent of the Global Village with its instant mass communications, combined with the ultra-hyped cult of the godlike 'Holy Father' who is always right because he is reputed to be, daily, guided by the Holy Spirit, make the dangers of a proven criminal pope all the more terrible to contemplate.

Rather than just carrying on as before, fingers-crossed behind her back, I think our indefectible Holy Mother the Church should take steps now to protect herself against future catastrophes just waiting to happen.


2 January 2022


 Anglican bishops are such funny old poppets and poppetesses: not so many decades ago, those of them who did celebrate Chrism Masses did so rather secretly ... the news got around on a grape-vine! 

Years later, things changed: those events became very popular; and it ended up with clergy being told that if they were not going to be present, they should humbly seek permission to be absent!

Needless to say, that was in the period after the admission of women to sacerdotal ministries in the Church of England. That process was what made all the difference: bishops who had previously regarded consecrating oils as iffy and high church, suddenly cottoned on to the new possibilities. Getting clergy to turn up now became a way of trying to bully into submission those who did not wish to enact their full communio with bishops who were ordaining women.

I wonder if some officers of the Catholic Church will behave similarly, forcing traddy clergy to make the Chrism Mass the occasion for making a massive symbolic act of conformity with Traditionis custodes

If this happens, I do hope that 'traditional' priests will not play into the hands of their enemies by giving them pretexts for persecution. 

Rumours abound of Visitations and of other jolly ways of persecuting those who adhere to the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite. 2022 may turn out to be a richly nuanced year!

The basic fact, is of course, that 'legislation' including, and issuing from, Tc, can in no way bind in conscience. For a long time, liberals and modernists have been quoting that thing of S John Henry's, about the drinking of toasts ...

Again, I recall how matters turned out in the Church of England.

The word was spread that congregations leaving the C of E to join the Ordinariate could in no way take their churches with them. Perhaps this was inevitable.  But it was also made clear that any sort of shared use of property was out of the question.

One prominent bishop was reported to have said that he would rather any church of his should be bulldozed to the ground than used by Ordinariate Groups! And such attitudes came from men who had mis-spent most of their silly lives declaring that no considerations whatsoever should stand in the way of Christian Unity! When Pope Benedict actually parked Unity right in front of their episcopal noses, they did not recognise it! It didn't look exactly how they had always imagined it! Its pullover was the wrong colour! Outrageous!

There is (not identity but) an interesting set of similarities between the Anglican and the Catholic situations. In each case, we seem to have a highly orgulous elite, culturally heavily infected by the Zeitgeist (lots of 'viral load' around, as we say nowadays), setting itself to subjugate a subclass ... including both intellectuals and non-intellectuals ... which has maintained a sturdy, God-mandated independence from the Zeitgeist. 

So what is going on? 

Is it that the Bergoglian elite sees accommodation with the Zeitgeist as a necessary way of maintaining its own privilege at a time when it might otherwise come under threat? Is PF's Declaration of his Liturgy War based upon his fear even more than upon his evident hatreds? What might future cultural historians make of all this?

My hope and prayer is that Traditionalists will, in these dangerous next few months, be as wise as serpents.

This may be a time to be cunning and devious. And to remember that, according to many moralists, there are circumstances in which Suppressio veri and Suggestio falsi can be morally justified. S John Henry has some interesting things to say about all this in his Apologia.

1 January 2022

New Year's Resolution: preach about the Sacrifice of the Mass

After the Catholic Revival in the Church of England, we emphasised the reality of the Lord's presence in the consecrated elements. And so we should have done. Indeed, perhaps we should have done more of it. While I was in Devon, nearly every sermon I preached for six years was about the Eucharist; and, right at the end of it, one distinctly intelligent parishioner told me that he was starting to realise what it was all about. 

Moreover, the extent to which Roman Catholic laity have forgotten the Lord's Eucharistic Presence is notorious. I once heard some of my Church of Ireland people talking in shocked tones about the irreverence with which RCs received Communion. Yes; this job is still not finished. 

But there is another job which I sometimes feel we have barely started. And that is teaching about the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In 1947, Dom Gregory Dix congratulated the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, which he was addressing, upon having done 'notable work' in restoring adoration, corporate and personal; reparation; and many other aspects of Eucharistic devotion which centred round the doctrine of the Real Presence. But he felt that the sacrificial aspect had proved much less easy to bring out. 

I would like to leave you - and especially brother priests - with this thought. I think we have been made much too nervous by Protestant attacks upon the Sacrifice of the Mass on the grounds that it undermines the uniqueness of Calvary. We have tended to feel that, rather than saying something which, horror of horrors, led to this appalling error, it will be better to say nothing. I think this is completely wrong. 

Laypeople get a whole lot of things wrong; and if you don't think your laity do, then I think you should try to talk to them more. We can't ensure that every woman-jill of them puts everything just precisely accurately. Even among clergy, I often feel that some sort of general approximation and a few dollops of goodwill are the best we can hope for. So, sez I, teach them that the Mass is the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ and that it is offered daily in your church by the priest and that it is the sacrifice appointed by God to take away sins. 

Don't put a paragraph or two into your homily about how incredibly careful we must be to avoid compromising the uniqueness of Calvary. If the Calvary question gets raised, of course you can do some finessing. But even if their understanding is likely to be askew, nevertheless just teach the basics, simply and ... yes ... crudely. And ...yes ... repeatedly.