31 March 2022


 The burden of old age ... I can actually remember the far off days of 'Good Pope John' ... and his curial reforms!

He laid it down that senior members of the Curia should be bishops; the reason he gave was that they were so intimately associated with the Roman Pontiff in the government of the Universal Church that they should possess the munus episcopale. Poor old Cardinal Ottaviani, I recall, was made to undergo episcopal Consecration. (If the same rule had existed in the days of S John Henry Newman, they would have forced him to be a bishop, too.)

Clearly, the once 'Good Pope John' has lost his cred in this Age of Bergoglianity ... PF respects his views on the Curia no more than he respects the detailed regulations he laid down in Veterum Sapientia for the reinforcement of Latin (the Vatican recently published texts for the Consecration of Russia and Ukraine in, I think, 32 languages ... which, by failing to include Latin, put it on a level with  Cornish).

I do not subscribe to the view of S John XXIII that curial bosses should all be bishops, nor with that of PF that they need not be in Holy Orders at all. I suspect that the Bergoglian change is more to do with increasing the power of PF even further by sweeping away any restriction of whom he can appoint to what.

In my view, the Roman Church, like any other Particular Church, consists of a Bishop, his Presbyterate, his Diaconate, and the plebs sancta Dei. In addition, Rome historically also has the Suburbicarian bishoprics. The executive branches of the Roman Church should be the Suburbicarian Bishops, the Presbyterate and the Diaconate.

Most Curial bosses should normally be presbyters or deacons. Just as the official titles of Cardinals ("X Cardinal Y Cardinal priest of S Z") still historically recall. 

It would be marvellous if we could get away from all this nonsense of Eminences and Excellencies in Rome. Even better if, at the same time, the entire un Christian concept of Career Structures could be binned.

And what about the Diplomatic Service? Why do they all have to be Archbishops? Particularly since they are Archbishops of absolutely nowhere real. PF wouldn't have needed fanfares heralding 'reforming' enactments in order to abolish this absurdity.

All the present rubbish is about status, so that even such a person Roche needs to be called an "Archbishop". We sha'n't be rid of all that stuff ... one staff officer jumping over another staff officer's back* ... until we we escape from the idea that episcopacy is a risible nonsense like the God-Calls-Me-God and the Kindly-Call-Me-God system of the British Civil Service.

*O What a Lovely War? They were only playing leapfrog.

30 March 2022

Pope, Liturgy, and Authority (4) GIVE US BACK PETER!

 The idea that Liturgy rests upon papal diktat, and upon the personal fads of each passing pontiff, is not just rubbish; it is poisonous rubbish.

Cardinal Ratzinger listed Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople. And he pointed out that 'Rites' "are forms of the apostolic Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of the Tradition". The great Apostolic liturgical traditions are part of the Apostolic datum; the Depositum fidei; the Tradition which comes through the Apostles; they sit beside the Canon of Scripture, the Creeds, and the Ministry. The Lex orandi which takes pride of place over the Lex credendi ranks beside ... perhaps even above ... the doctrinal  Decrees of the great, dogmatic, Ecumenical Councils. It lies far beyond the whimsies, prejudices, and personal antipathies of each pope.

In concluding this four-part survey, I remind readers that we have met no examples of liturgically-preoccupied popes hunched over desks in Rome, micromanaging what every insignificant curate anywhere in the World can be allowed to do at the Altar. 

We have met no pope who believed that doctrinal unity could only be secured or expressed by rigid uniformity of worship.

But there is an even broader point to be made than the merely liturgical question: the 'papacy' which at this moment we are so painfully enduring is a Novelty; it is not found in Antiquity and no more is it found in the admirable teaching of Vatican I (or the subsequent clarifications by Blessed Pius IX) nor in the texts of Vatican II. In the sometimes-derided high baroque period of the Roman Primacy, the writings of that admirable pontiff, Prospero Lambertini, Benedict XIV, give no countenance to it. 

It is because this style of papacy is a Novelty that it needs to be unambiguously rejected. 

Catholicism with Novelty is not Catholicism with something exotic added. One you embark upon nailing alien matter onto the Faith, what you get is not Catholicism-plus. Catholicism, with the authentic Papal Ministry subtracted from it, has ceased to be Catholicism at all.

The authentic Petrine Ministry is neatly exemplified by Sixtus III (Pope 432--441) "Let nothing further be permitted to Novitas because it is appropriate that nothing be added to Vetustas; let the transparent Faith and Belief of our forebears be disturbed by no admixture of filth." And by Pope Caelestine (422-432) "Let Novitas cease to attack Vetustas." Pope Honorius I, the First Heretic Pope, was condemned by an Ecumenical Council and his own Successors in the See of S Peter for heresy by being listed among the "novi erroris inventores". More about him later.




29 March 2022

Popes, Liturgy, and Authority (3): S PIUS V compared with S PAUL VI and PF

We are sometimes told that the imposition of a new rite by S Paul VI is precisely what S Pius V did in 1570.

It is not.

What S Paul VI did is precisely the opposite of what S Pius V did..

People who tell you anything different either have not read Quo primum ... or cannot understand Latin ... or have a regrettably fugitive grasp upon Truth.

S Pius V dealt with the question of churches with a Use of more than 200 years (i.e., going back to before the invention of printing made life so easy for liturgical tinkerers and innovators) in the following way. 

He said "nequaquam auferimus" -- in no way whatsoever do we take it (their old rite) off them. 

It is true that he added a  "permittimus" -- we permit that, if they like my edition of the Missal better, they can adopt it "de episcopi vel praelati capitulique universi consensu" -- provided that the bishop and the unanimous Chapter are in agreement.

If S Paul VI ... or PF ... had really wished to behave like S Pius V, they would have needed to decree something like this:

"We do not take away the right to use a Missal with more than 200 (or 600? Or 1200?) years of lawful use; but if a Bishop and his entire Chapter really do want to use my Novus Ordo instead, I will permit them to do so." 

28 March 2022

The Household Cavalry

Our British Household Cavalry have horses which are immaculately  trained ... except for one detail.

Accordingly, after every major event, they are followed by little men with brooms and buckets.


First, Mr Biden said that, if the Russkies used illegal weapons, the Land Of The Free would do the same.

Secondly: he assured his troops that they would soon be personally witnessing the heroism of the Ukrainian military.

And now, thirdly, he has explicitly called for Regime Change in Russkiland.


I most devoutly hope that the U S of A have a good reserve supply of brooms and buckets, and plenty of coprophiliac Blinkens.

Popes, Liturgy, and Authority (2): A SINGLE (unicus) FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE?

 So what did the Emperor Charlemagne do, given the impossible situation he was landed in by Pope Hadrian's lack of interest in Liturgical Uniformity? And the by fact that the book the pope had eventually sent him seemed unusable?

He got his scholars to provide an Appendix to Pope Hadrian's book. You see, that book didn't even contain liturgical provision for what we would call the 'Green Sundays' of the year! Or the Exsultet!

And this Appendix was mightily long! In the HBS edition, the basic papal part of the book runs to 143 pages; but the Appendix is considerably longer, with 177 pages! The two parts are divided by a Praefatiuncula usually referred to (from its first word) as the Praefatiuncula hucusque. In this, the Editors explain that 'we' velut flores pratorum vernantes had plucked, brought together, corrected ... etc.. the material in the Appendix from other sources.

They go on to make clear that they expect there to be two classes of user: those (si cui placent  ... suscipere) who will use the Appendix; and (Si vero superflua vel non necessaria sibi illa iudicaverit) those who will use only the first section and will ignore the Appendix.

If this doesn't mean that there were to be two forms of the Rite, I don't know what would!

The two categories of users were expected to behave "placabiliter"1


Ever since Summorum Pontificum, there have been pompous know-alls who have paraded around ridiculing the canonical determination of Benedict XVI that there could be two 'Forms' of the Roman Rite.

In fact, there always have been plural forms of the Roman Rite ... Archbishop Cranmer listed what there was in England alone: "some folowyng Salisbury use, some Herford use, some the use of Bangor, some of Yorke, and some of Lincolne". When I was an undergraduate, one could go to Blackfriars for the Dominican Rite, or to the (then nearly extinct) Jesuits of Alyoggers for the edition of S Pius V. 

It was Pope Francis himself who actually promulgated the Ordinariate Missal as being a lawful use of the Roman Rite.

The present, 'momentous'  'discovery' of PF that there can only be an unicus usus of the Roman Rite is as unhistorical as it is unpastoral.

It is ridiculous. It is ultra vires. Barmy.

26 March 2022


I keep on writing about the terminology elaborated by S John Henry Newman: which he termed 'the Suspense in the function of the Ecclesia Docens': a way of looking at things which arose from Newman's own detailed sudy of the period of the Arian Controversy. I last did this, I think, on March 16. Nobody ever seems to take much interest in my one-man campaign, although I think that it is an essential hermeneutic for living in the Church at this present moment. Go on ... sneer ... raise one of your many expressive eyebrows and then move on ... see if I care ...

But now somebody else has just said something which you cannot as easily ignore.

Gerhard Cardinal Mueller.  

"Whoever wants to prescribe to the faithful other sources of revelation besides the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition, has fallen away from the Catholic faith (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum 9f). Heretical bishops must not be obeyed, and every Catholic is called upon to bear witness to the truth against them, even if they enforce their power with brute force, just as the Arian and Donatist bishops once persecuted true Catholics".


Hooray! At last!

Read it again! 

25 March 2022

The Gospel Canticles

 The priest of the Roman Rite mentions Abraham on three significant occasions each day: most importantly, at Mass, when he refers to the Sacrifice of Abraham; the Sacrifice on Mount Moriah which is the type of the Lord's Sacrifice upon His Cross. 

But, already, at Dawn, the priest has mentioned Abraham in the Benedictus: the song of Zacharias father of S John Baptist. This song begins with (what classicists sometimes call) a 'motto'; a quotation from an earlier piece of literature, which establishes a prescriptive resonance between the two. Here, we notice Psalm 40 (MT 41); Psalm 71 (MT 72); 105 (MT 106): "Blessed be YHWH  the God of Israel". I mentioned recently the close linkage between the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) and the assertion that He is exclusively the God of His people, and associated with Jerusalem, Sion, and the Temple where His Name dwells. I think we are not to miss the fact that Zacharias is a priest of that Temple. And that in the psalms I have just listed, the phrase comes almost at the end of the text, as a kind of doxology. The Ministry of the Forerunner takes up, and elevates to a new level, the Covenant Mercy and Salvation which is the message of the psalmist. In accordance with God's oath to Abraham, this child will be a New Dawn for His People.

The Magnificat also begins with a 'motto'; this time, alluding to I Samuel = I Kings 2: 1-10. Hannah has conceived her longed-for child: so, in the House of YHWH, she offers sacrifice and prays "My heart exults in YHWH". Like our blessed Lady, she associates herself with the anawim: the devout poor who, against the high and the mighty, remain faithful to YHWH. And, as the evening lights illumine our Churches, and Magnificat is sung, incense swirls up around the Altar as once it did (Exodus 30) on the Temple Mount; "a perpetual incense before YHWH throughout your generations".

The 'Lucan Infancy narratives' demonstrate the fidelity of Mary and her spouse to her Covenant God; a fidelity expressed by their scrupulous adherence to the Torah ... "as it is written in the Torah of YHWH". But, in the Christian Tradition, Western and Eastern, there is also a happy liturgical conviction that the great Lady was herself presented in the Temple as a baby, and was maintained there, being fed by angels with paradisal food from the Tree of Life, as befits her prelapsarian status. Readers will recall Byzantine icons of this event ... up in the corner, there is that small image of Mary lodged a in a pinnacle of God's Temple and receiving the divine sustenance ... food, so S Gregory Palamas explains, "which Adam had not tasted, because, if he had, he would not have fallen from life".

Byzantine 'Palamite' Councils of the 14th century enthusiastically anathematised those (probably proto-Enlightenment Western 'rationalists') who rejected these laudable narratives ...

Quite right too! We could do with a lot more anathemas!

Mary, poor and redeemed, whose heart is truly Immaculate, sings the Mercies of YHWH which He spoke to our Fathers and to Abraham and his Seed for ever. And her immaculate heel will crush His enemies because she has alone put down all the heresies in all the world!

24 March 2022

Fr Melrose of Reading

Father Zed has a good piece about the Ratisbon (Pustet) prayer book for priests. I possess an earlier edition, about which I wrote on 17 October 2010. Here is what I wrote.

Pray for the people of S Giles', Reading, that they may receive a priest, a good priest, soon, to succeed Fr Michael Melrose, who died more than a year ago now. And, for that matter, a worthy successor to Blessed John Eynon, Vicar of S Giles', martyred in the time of the second Henry Tudor. 

Among the liturgical books left by Fr Melrose, which I am now fortunate enough to possess and use daily, is a very slender volume: Preces ante et post Missam. It consists of the prayers to be said "According to the opportunity of the priest", found in the old Missal and also included, for convenience, in old Breviaries. But this separate edition (Pustet, 1913) is interestingly augmented. Firstly, it includes two lists, of the quick and of the dead, whom a priest should remember in the Mementos of the Canon. Among the rather chilling categories listed are "all to whom I have been a burden (gravamen), a scandal, and an occasion of sin". And, inter mortuos, "souls who, because of me, are suffering in Purgatory". 

I think it is a very good idea to be reminded, day by day, what a very great opportunity for doing evil, and provoking others into disbelief or sin, we priests have. I wonder when and why these lists disappeared. They appear in nineteenth century breviaries in my possession, and apparently survived until at least 1913. So ...? 

The booklet also includes "Actus virtutum", from the writings of S Francis de Sales. I invite comments on a detail that made me pause for thought. The Act of Adoration begins: "O God in three persons ... and thou, Lord Jesus Christ, I adore from my whole heart ... And because my adoration is exceedingly slight and weak, I offer to thee those adorations which continually thy most holy Humanity offers to thee ... " What surprised me was the idea of praying to Our Lord Jesus Christ's Godhead separately and as divisible from his Sacred Humanity. Isn't this, I wondered, something a tadge more in the spirit of Nestorius than of S Cyril? What, I thought, becomes of akhoristos and all that? But S Francis de Sales is a Doctor of the Church, and I am not ... er ...

Pope Naaman and Fatima?

 Silly old fuddy duddy that I am, I just wish that Roman Pontiffs had more of an instinct to do just as they are told.

Why can't they simply do ad litteram what the Theotokos is reported to have asked for at Fatima, and leave it at that?

Of course, their advisers give them advice, and, of course, they themselves think about all the ecclesial and political implications of what they are proposing to do. But ...

In 4 Kingdoms (=2 Kings) 5, Naaman was a man with commendably well-developed liturgico-theological instincts: he assumed that Eliseus (Elishah) would wave his hand over the Leprous Spot and intone YHWH. 

Er ... No.

Very reverently, Naaman felt that he himself could nominate a couple of rivers in Damascus more worthy to be favoured by a spectacular exercise of Divine Power than the Jordan. (I would criticise him only for not considering the Cherwell or the Stiffkey.)

For all I know, he might even have wondered whether eight dippings ... or fourteen ... or twenty one ... would be even more devout and respectful towards the Hebrew god than a mere, grudging, seven.

"Fourteen", he might plausibly have observed, "does include seven. So I would still be fulfilling the command."

It was when he just did just what the Prophetic Voice had so boringly instructed him to do, without any attempt to nuance it or to improve upon it, that he was just healed.


 Dear me; the room was warm and I was tired and, in mid-psalm, my breviary (Burns Oates and Washbourne 1946; nice engravings by Reynolds Stone) slipped from my fingers ...

Worse: I have been saying the Divine Office since the 1950s, and there have been previous occasions when the loving arms of Morpheus etc. etc..

There are dodges one can employ to combat this weakness of our ... well; mine, anyway ... fallen Flesh. Arrogantly (for my clerical readers are undoubtedly holier men than I am) I venture to suggest one dodge which has been useful to me. I apologise if it appears more Academic than Devotional. That is another of my failings ...

In the Psalms, there is often a distinction between Dominus when it represents the tetragrammaton YHWH; and, on the other hand, the quite distinct term Deus

Dominus-YHWH is precise and delimited and even, one might dare to say, local. It refers to my God, the God of Israel. It does not refer to any old god like the unreal impostures or demons which the Gentiles worship. It excludes any syncretistic nonsense about all gods being really, underneath it all, essentially the same. It is not a friendly term for such present-day syncretists as Freemasons or Bergoglians (vide Aslan and Tash in The Last Battle).

So one will quite often find Dominus-YHWH closely associated with the Temple, with Sion; with Jerusalem.

And, linked with it or not very far away in the text, one will very often find references to His Name. Because, of course, that Name is YHWH=Dominus. Perhaps we may even be informed that His Name dwells in Sion or in His Temple.

We know Who is the New Temple replacing the old. That is a piece of typology which (even in terms of the crudest 'Enlightenment' historicism) seems reliably to go back to the words of the Word Himself (compare Mark 14:57-59 and John 2:19-22). The Breviary Office for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, with elegant associative confusion, takes up Old Testament texts referring to the Tetragrammaton and makes them refer to the Name Yesh-wah.

And is quite right to do so!

23 March 2022


Missing helpful papal teaching? Tired of reading about PF's most recent obsessive rant and becoming either upset or angry? Here is an antidote (which, sadly, is not available on the NHS). Joseph Ratzinger alias Pope Benedict XVI in his Jesus of Nazareth.

For Lent and Holy Week, you need "Part Two". Pure gold. Based on encyclopedic reading by one of the very finest minds of our time. Academically up-to-date, but based on a humbly Catholic submission to God's biblical revelation, rather than on 'Enlightenment' arrogance or the latest twaddle from German synodal-way adulterifiers and homosexualisers. Ratzinger is as likely to pluck out of his pudding a radical Proddy plum as he is a Rabbinic Jewish plum, and, in either case, he will turn it inside out and make more of it.

Quoting an Engelberg Benedictine called Studer, Ratzinger observes that the first generation of Christians "developed a special 'name-Christology' ... Name, Law, Covenant, Beginning, and Day" now became Christological titles. 

I'm going to pick out of that: Name

On the following page, Ratzinger quotes John 17:11: Holy Father, keep them in your Name, which you have given me.

God the Father ... has given His Name ... to Jesus of Nazareth. 


Is that what your Bible says?

The Vulgate and the Greek Textus Receptus and their dependant translations will offer you Holy Father, keep them in your Name, whom you have given me.  

In other words, does the relative clause wh** you have given me refer to the Disciples, or to the Name?

I follow the view of Benedict XVI and most textcrit specialists (including both the NeoVulgate and my own mentor, the brilliant Canadian Oxford professor George Kilpatrick) and read which; so ... the Father did give His Name ... YHWH, the LORD ... to Jesus! [This involves agreeing with those Greek manuscripts which read hoi rather than with those which read hous, and perhaps being fortified by the textcrit maxim difficilior lectio potior.]

But ... the attentive among you are jostling to point out to me ... isn't that exactly what S Paul said at Philippians 2:9-11: "God gave Him, Jesus, the Name which is above every name ... LORD=KYRIOS=YHWH"!

Indeed it is. 'Modern Biblical Studies', which is mostly bunkum, tends to dislike the idea that the same teaching might be found in the different strands and traditions within Holy Scripture. They prefer dissonance. Moi, since I am a Catholic, I am more than happy to discover that S John and S Paul were not locked in a mutual death struggle.

But let me share with you what Mgr Knox does with this crux interpretum. He writes in a footnote: "Some of the Greek Manuscripts refer this to the Father's name, some to the disciples." OK. That's fact. But now look back up the page at his translation: "Holy Father, keep them true to thy name, thy gift to me ..."

Isn't that just wonderfully deft? Deft to the point of being cunning? The intelligent reader can read 'thy gift to me' as referring either to 'them' or she can refer it to 'name'. A lovely fence to sit on!

Nice one, Ronnie!

Finally ... back to Ratzinger. What does it mean to say that Jesus has the Father's Name?

" ... name was more than a word. It meant that God allowed himself to be invoked, that he had entered into communion with Israel ... 'God's name' means: God present among men. It is said of the Temple in Jerusalem that God "made his name dwell there" ... Israel would never have dared to say simply: God lives there. Israel knew that God is infinitely great, that he surpasses and embraces the whole world. And yet he was tuly present: he himself. That is what is meant by saying: 'He made his name dwell there.' He is truly present, yet always remains infinitely greater and beyond our reach. 'God's name' is God himself insofar as he gives himself to us; however certain we are of his closeness and however much we rejoice over it, he always remains infinitely greater. ... In Jesus, God gives himself entirely into the world of mankind: whoever sees Jesus sees the Father."

21 March 2022

Translations of dead languages

If one does not read Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, how is one to handle the task, encouraged by Holy Mother Church, of getting immersed in the Scriptures?

Is an Anglophone able to access the Douay Rheims translation of the Bible? I doubt it. Offers of this version usually seem to turn out to be copies of Dr Challoner's revised version.

In 1954, Cardinal Griffin very warmly encouraged use of the translation by Mgr R A Knox; New Testament 1945; Old Testament 1949. I would commend it to those who can benefit from such a thing. It is in a dignified, 'timeless' register of English ... which has the advantage of not sounding Elizabethan. So one feels one is reading something fresh.

And, believe me, Knox's erudition was profound. As a Biblicist, he was not one of those callow youths or youthesses chasing after a DPhil who pontificate iconoclastically about the Bible while they themselves are a bit vague about the more exciting recesses of such Greek verbs as histemi

Knox knew his stuff. And his translation was more reliable than those of lesser beings. One example. 

In both the Usus Authenticus and the Usus Deterior of the Roman Rite, the Mass of a Doctor starts with the Introit In medio Ecclesiae aperuit os eius, et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae ... In the current English translation, that is given as In the midst of the Church he opened his mouth, and the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom ...

This makes it sound as if the Saint opened his mouth; and then the Lord filled him with the spirit of wisdom. But this is a false rendering of the Latin; which means that In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth and filled him with the spirit of wisdom ... 

In 1949, Burns Oates and Washbourne published The Missal in Latin and English. If you notice a copy going cheap in a second hand book shop, I would advise you to snaffle it up. It is a class product. And the English translations of Scripture are from Knox.

So here is Knox's version of that same Introit; more free in word-order but without howlers in the  understanding of the Latin:

The Lord moved him to speak before the assembled people, filling him with the spirit of wisdom ... 

In a couple of days, I'll weave Benedict XVI and Knox together with interesting results.


20 March 2022

Dr Dimble

 "Have you ever noticed that the universe, and every little bit of the universe, is always hardening and narrowing and coming to a point? ... I mean this ... If you dip into any college, or school, or parish, or family--anything you like--at a given point in its history, you always find that there was a time before that point when there was more elbow room and contrasts weren't quite so sharp; and that there's going to be a time after that point when there is even less room for indecision and choices are even more momentous. Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing. The whole thing is sorting itself out all the time, coming to a point, getting sharper and harder. ... But it's not only in questions of moral choice. Everything is getting more itself and more different from everything else all the time. Evolution means species getting less and less like one another. Minds getting more and more spiritual, matter more and more material. Even in literature, poetry and prose draw further and further apart."

Written circa 1943. Is he on to something?

Is one more likely to feel like that if one is getting advanced in life?

Please, no long addresses on Evolution.

18 March 2022

Doctor Harricus Truman, War Criminal?

Today is the Birthday of one the most outstanding philosophers of the last century, Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001); Fellow of Somerville and pupil and friend of Wittgenstein. She was a strongly conviction convert to the Catholic Faith and a doughty warrior for truth and logical precision. Cuius animae propitietur Deus.


I have been reminded of an episode in her life by some recent talk about War Criminals. Prosecuting people for War Crimes seems to me a very good idea, except for the fact that what it really ... in the real world ... ends up meaning is "Victors' Justice". We half-educated peasants might simply cry "String the bastards up", but our pompous middle class intelligentsia craves fancy terminology.

Some of the issues involved in discussion about War Crimes came up in Oxford during the weeks before President Harry Truman was due to receive the honorary Degree of DCL at the Encaenia on June 20 1956 (rather endearingly, Mr Public Orator referred to him as 'Harricus'.)

Anscombe decided to oppose this honour in Convocation. "I determined to oppose the proposal to give Mr Truman an honorary degree here in Oxford. ... I informed the Senior Proctor of my intention to oppose Mr Truman's degree. He consulted the Registrar to get me informed on procedure. The Vice-Chancellor was informed; I was cautiously asked if I had got up a party. I had not; but a fine House [of Convocation] was whipped up to vote for the honour. The dons at St John's were simply told "The women are up to something in Convocation; we have to go and vote them down". In Worcester, in All Souls, in New College, however, consciences were greatly exercised, as I have heard. A reason was found to satisfy them: It would be wrong to try to PUNISH Mr Truman! I must say I rather like St John's."

The opposing speech, favouring the granting of the honour, was made by Alan Bullock, later Lord Bullock, one of our British Great and Good (a generally mucky lot). He was author of a still-famous book on Hitler, based largely on the Nuremberg Trials. He

" had an odious task. He must make a speech which should pretend to show that a couple of massacres to a man's credit are not exactly a reason for not showing him honour. He had, however, one great advantage: he did not have to persuade his audience, who were already perfectly convinced of that proposition. But at any rate he had to make show.

"The defence, I think, would not have been well received at Nuremberg. ..."

Yes; Anscombe was, like many very clever and very principled people, not a little waspish. "a quite mediocre person can do spectacularly wicked things without thereby becoming impressive ...". And here is a nice little praeteritio; "I will not suggest, as some would like to do, that there was an exultant itch to use the new [nuclear] weapons ... We can now reformulate the principle of doing evil that good may come: every fool can be as much of a knave as suits him. I recommend this history to undergraduates reading Greats as throwing a glaring light on Aristotle's thesis that you cannot be or do any good where you are stupid."

BTW: since this is a Catholic blog, I shall not enable comments arguing that a good end can justify an intrinsically evil means. Anscombe upholds "the idea that ... actions, such as murder, may be absolutely excluded." When the Great Catholic Restoration happens, S John Paul's robust and cogent Encyclical Veritatis Splendor should inevitably hold centre stage. And Elizabeth Anscombe will make a fine supporting figure to its paragraph 80

I resume my quotation of her pamphlet about what happened in Oxford:

"I vehemently object to our action in offering Mr Truman honours, because one can share in the guilt of a bad action  by praise and flattery, as also by defending it. When I puzzle myself over the attitude of the Vice-Chancellor and the Hebdomadal Council, I look around to see if any explanation is available why so many Oxford people should be willing to flatter such a man."

 She concluded her pamphlet:

"It is possible still to withdraw from this shameful business in some slight degree: it is possible not to go to Encaenia; if it were embarrassing, to someone who would normally go, to plead other business, he could take to his bed.

"I, indeed should fear to go, in case God's patience suddenly ends."

Wow! What a woman!



17 March 2022

How the countrymen of S Patrick did get round ...

Silchester is of interest as almost the only Roman City in Brittania which became a green field site, rather than having a medieval and modern city built over it. The Society of Antiquaries excavated it more than a hundred years ago, in the rather ruthless way people did before the advent of modern Archaeology.

Professor Fulford, more than a decade ago, chose Insula IX because the SA excavators had found ... there in the middle of England! ... an Ogham stone stuffed down a disused well. It is so remarkable to find such a piece of distinctively Irish culture in a late Roman context that for quite a time the Silchester Ogham was regarded as a forgery; a sort of epigraphical equivalent of Piltdown Person. But Tebicatos - the named individual - is now vindicated and respectable. It is his context that now remains beguilingly intriguing. During one visit, looking down at the hole in the ground where this Ogham was found, there in the middle of Roman urban culture, I felt quite disoriented. Peering at Ogham stones is something that I expected to do in the cityless Kingdom of the West, God's own blessed country the County of Kerry, with the fuchsias luxuriating in the hedgerows and the choughs complaining overhead ... or at least in the "Celtic" extremities of Cornwall. Of course, there were Irish Kingdoms in Wales - Dyfed, I believe - and one of the factors that intrigues historians is that while the Latin and Irish languages were dignified with stone inscriptions, Welsh and Cornish were apparently despised. Irishness implied, it seems, status. And so Tebicatos would not have been a peasant or a tramp. Indeed, it seems a priori unlikely that one would erect a stone inscription which could only be read by the the person who erected it ... so it appears unlikely he was the only Irishman around.

As far as I can make out, the scholarly establishment has not made any connection between Tebicatos and his stone, and the discovery by the SA excavators of a building in Silchester which, on the basis of its plan, they and subsequent writers have considered likely to have been a Christian church. And let us also take in here one of the controversies within the Irish archaeological community: was Ogham script specifically, culturally, Christian? Many think it was (I would adduce an Ogham stone in my old Irish parish of Dromod in the Diocese of Ardfert: in an ecclesiastical site on Church Island just off Beginnish Island just off Valentia Island just off the coast of Kerry, where the Ogham inscription is superimposed upon a good quality carved cross).

You see where I am going. Is Tebicatos the first named member of a Christian congregation to be identifiable from Roman Britain?

I wonder how good his Latin was. Christine Mohrmann says this about S Patrick's Latin: " ... more or less oral, spoken Latin but spoken by a man who is not speaking fluently, who is hesitating, who does not always find the right word."

16 March 2022

"The temporary suspense of the function of the Ecclesia Docens" in the teaching of S John Henry Newman

Cardinal Burke, God bless him, has talked about "a breakdown of the central teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff." This strongly reminds me of the phrase of S John Henry Newman at the top of this blogpost.

I originally published what follows in DECEMBER 2017. I think it is even more relevant now, because of  the additional authority which his canonisation has given to the wise teaching of S John Henry. And because of his Eminence's wise words.

SO HERE IS MY 2017 TEXT, with only one adaptation, and with old comments on the thread.

A world-wide group of laymen and laywomen have just issued a defence of Catholic doctrine concerning Family and Life matters. The crucial paragraph, in my view, is this:

We pledge our full obedience to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the legitimate exercise of is authority. However, nothing will ever persuade us, or compel us, to abandon or contradict any article of the Catholic faith or any truth definitively established. If there is any conflict between the words and acts of any member of the hierarchy, even the pope, and the doctrine that the Church has always taught, we will remain faithful to the perennial teaching of the Church. If we were to depart from the Catholic faith, we would depart from Jesus Christ, to whom we wish to be united for all eternity."

This seems to me exactly right and exactly proportionate to the present situation in the Catholic Church. By a happy disposition of Providence, this Statement hit the media at the same time as Walter Kasper's gleeful conviction that Amoris laetitia has now become irreformable and that the 'controversy' is now over. Gracious me, what ultrahyperueberpapalist views of the Petrine Ministry these Liberals do have when they get a foul wind in their sails.

And the Statement reminds me of the phrase which Blessed John Henry Newman used in the context of the Arian controversy, in which the great majority of the Bishops, the Ecclesia docens, and including the Successor of S Peter, were either heretics, or were cowed into silence or compromise by the heretics. It is the phrase I have put at the head of this post, which I take in the sense in which Newman subsequently clarified his use of it, and not otherwise.

I suppose we had a good example of this phenomenon of 'suspense' in the pontificate of Blessed Paul VI, in the period between his setting up of a Commission to consider the question of Contraception, and his very courageous subsequent reaffirmation of the Church's Magisterial Teaching with the publication of Humanae vitae.

Surely, we are in another such period of suspense now. The question of  the admission of adulterers to Holy Communion was magisterially dealt with as recently as 2007, only ten years ago, in Sacramentum Caritatis para 29; it had  received synodical and papal clarification in each of the last two pontificates; and is embedded in the Catechism. But a 'suspense' began when it was opened up to synodal debate; and that 'suspense' grew wider when PF issued a document which has been interpreted in diametrically opposed ways. The suspense will end when this or a subsequent Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council reasserts with unmistakeable clarity the teaching of the Magisterium (or possibly when the error, having run its course, happily dies a natural death).

The learned Patron of the Ordinariate, Blessed Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, made clear that he in no way implied the cessation of the Magisterial teaching or office during a 'suspense'. The Dogma of Nicea remained de jure fully in force; but was simply not treated as such by many bishops and so did not 'function'. The bishops remained ex officio guardians and teachers of the Faith; not a microgram of their God-given authority to teach the Faith was lost to them; but de facto they failed to guard and to teach that Faith. The concept of suspense is not so much theological as historical; an observation that anybody can make if they just look around.

Things now are very similar. The teaching of the Magisterium is, obviously, formally still vigore pleno; but numbers of unfaithful or negligent bishops behave as though it were not. In many cases, they appear and/or claim to do so with the connivance of the Successor of S Peter.


During a 'suspense', does the episcopal ministry of those bishops who are heterodox on just one point still call for religiosum obsequium on other matters? Or is one obliged to consider their entire episcope vitiated by just one point of heterodoxy?

Looking back into the great Anglican Patrimony which Pope Benedict invited us to bring with us into Catholic Unity, I recall a phrase dear to a distinguished and erudite Bishop of Oxford, Charles Gore [1853-1932; a doughty asserter of the doctrine which was re-asserted by Casti Connubii]: "the wonderful coherence of Christian doctrine". A later, even more erudite occupant of the same See, Kenneth Kirk, [1886-1954] commented: "Gore saw Christian doctrine as a unified whole ... It was his conviction, shared of course with the great Scholastic tradition in theology, that if any single article in this totality was attacked, varied, or distorted, the attack, variation, or distortion would be seen on inspection to affect every other article to a greater or lesser degree. ... if two systems each of which can claim some real degree of logical principle are in conflict on any one point, investigation will ultimately prove that they differ on every point, though at first sight this may be anything but apparent. For each system is, by hypothesis, self-consistent, and therefore all its members are interlocked, and whatever affects one of them must affect them all."

This is still one of my own working hermeneutical tools. Accordingly, I feel a tentative hesitation, during this lamentable suspense, about taking seriously any teaching statement of an apparently less that orthodox member of the hierarchy.

I throw open the above position to discussion, totally aware of my own fallibility, and anxious to be in all things a docile subject of the authentic Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

15 March 2022

More grave questions

 After the announcement of Anglicanorum coetibus, signifying the erection of the Ordinariates, the senior Anglican in Argentina ... so he narrates ... received an invitation from H E Cardinal Bergoglio. He "called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the church needs us as Anglicans."

Archbishop Venables later "clarified" this by saying that the cardinal's comments were more an affirmation of Anglicanism than criticism of the Ordinariate.

Some years later, after election to the See of S Peter, PF said to Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Pembroke College Oxford and 'Foreign Minister' of the Moskow Patriarchate): "Before you I would like to reiterate--in a special way before you, my dear brother, and before all of you--that the Catholic Church will never allow an attitude of division to arise from her people. We will never allow ourselves to do this, I do not want it. In Moscow--in Russia--there is only one Patriarchate: yours. We will not have another one. And when some Catholic faithful, be they laypeople, priests or bishops, raise the banner of Uniatism, which does not work anymore, and is over, then it causes me pain. The Churches that are united in [sic] Rome must be respected, but Uniatism as a path to unity is not valid today."

Surely, quite a number of questions arise here.

(1) PF is speaking of matters which have doctrinal aspects. But he is not, apparently, speaking Magisterially. 

(2) What did PF mean by "Russia"? I understand that His All-holiness the Patriarch of Moskow enjoys the title " ... and of all the Russias". Does this phrase include, in Muskovite understanding, Byelorussia and the Ukraine? The current breach of communio between Constantinople and Moskow would suggest that it does.

(3) Do PF's words indicate that he does not accept the assumption that all Christians should be in full communion with Rome? Or, at least, that such a state is highly desirable?

(4) Does he take the view that it is improper for groups of Christians ... or entire churches ... to enter into unity with Rome while still retaining those elements of Culture, Spirituality, Liturgy, Patrimony which they have enjoyed in separation, and which are not contrary to the defined doctrine of the Catholic Church?

(5) Is PF's attitude expressive of his dislike of Liturgical Traditions which differ from what he has claimed to be the unicus usus of the Roman Rite? Is it his belief that, if such regrettable phenomena must exist, it is better that they should stay well out of communion with the See of S Peter so that he can keep his Latin Church free of ancient Tradition and Usage, a Sartrian tabula rasa, pliable and malleable so that he can mould it to conform to his personal whimsies?


(1) would give rise to confusion. The more emphatically PF spoke, the more the exchange is, in my view ... improper, confusing, and a skandalon.

(2) would imply that PF is 'siding' with Moskow against Constantinople.

 (3) and (4) appear to me haeresi proxima. They certainly indicate attitudes directly opposite to those inherent in the actions which PF's papal predecessor embodied in an Apostolic Constitution.

(5) suggests that PF does not really see himself as shepherd of the Universal Church, but only of its Latin portions. Such a self-understanding would mean, in effect, that he does not truly understand himself to be Pope. So is he, constructively, a Sedevacantist?


14 March 2022

Pope Francis attacks Jesuit founder; and the Lex Ridendi.

Yes ... strange but true.

Proclaiming the Scriptures in a non-vernacular language is, according to our Holy Father, "like laughing at the Word of God".

I find this a most interesting insult, especially since PF is himself, according to Wikipedia, a Jesuit; and their Founder S Ignatius will, as a priest, have read daily the Mass Readings in Latin. 

The records are silent about how long, after Mass, he spent laughing. Or did he do his laughing immediately after the Gospel?

Does this connect up with the boast PF once made to Altar Servers, that he himself, as a boy server, used to make a mockery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

(It is a good thing that, some years ago now, after reading S John Henry Newman on the Suspense of the function of the Ecclesia docens, I concluded that we must now be in precisely just such a period of Suspense as our great Doctor there described. I cannot see how else one can fit PF into any sort of Catholic ecclesiology.)

I wonder how common it is for modern Jesuits to "laugh at the Word of God". How many times a day are they required to do it? Which language does their strange rule require them to do the laughing in? Is failure to laugh at God's Word a confessible sin according to Jesuit spiritual directors?

Is this Jesuit lex ridendi associated with the first millennium mosaic recently reproduced on New Liturgical Movement showing S Ephraim with the words Blessed are those who weep for they shall laugh? Is this verbum Domini claimed by Jesuits to mean that, at the Eschaton, everybody will be a Jesuit? When the Great Judgement is declared upon all Flesh, will any Jesuits present burst into laughter? Do Jesuits in Hell still regularly laugh, or does their rule cease to apply among the damned?

I think I am getting confused.

Perhaps in these interesting revelations we have the secret reason why Pope Clement XIV suppressed the order. I wonder if he laughed as he did so. Father Zed would have done.

Father Zed makes available mugs splendidly adorned with the likeness and Arms of Papa Ganganelli.

Hooray for Pope Clement! Hooray for Father Zed! 

Monita Caii Valerii Catulli implentes clamemus omnes Ridete quidquid est domi cachinorum!

13 March 2022

Banning a penetrating truth: Theosis and the Light of Transfiguration

 On the Fourth Sunday After Easter, 1843 ... May 14 ... Edward Bouverie Pusey, Regius Professor of Hebrew in this University and Canon of Christ Church, preached a sermon for which he was suspended from preaching before the University. It was entitled The Holy Eucharist a Comfort to the Penitent. You can and should read it on your computer; here is an extract.

" ... His body being perfected, there shall be no check or hindrance to the full effluence of His Divine Nature, circulating through the whole Body, into which He shall have 'knit things in heaven and things in earth,' 'the innumerable company of the Angels,' and 'the just made perfect;' and the whole glorified Church shall be clothed and radiant with Him, the Sun of Righteousness.

"And of this we have the germs and first beginnings now. This is (if we may reverently so speak) the order of the Mystery of the Incarnation, that the Eternal Word so took our flesh into Himself, as to impart to it His own inherent life; so then, we partaking of It, that life is transmitted on to us also, and not to our souls only, but our bodies, since we become flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bone, and He Who is wholly life is imparted to us wholly. The Life which He is, spreads around, first giving Its own vitality to that sinless Flesh which He united indissolubly with Himself and in It encircling and vivifying our whole nature, and then, through that bread which is His Flesh, finding an entrance into us individually, penetrating us, soul and body, and spirit, and irradiating and transforming into His own light and life. ..."

Surely, here we have the entire entwined Mystery of Incarnation and Redemption and Theosis and the Eschaton. Not at all a bad sermon to consider on this Sunday when the West thinks about the Divine Light of the Transfiguration and Byzantine calendars celebrate S Gregory Palamas. How comfortable it feels when East and West stretch out reconciling hands to each other.

Surely, there is just a frisson of sexuality in Pusey's statement about His Flesh finding an entrance, penetrating, our bodies as well as our souls and spirits. Are we embarrassed by it?

I know few homilies, in any language, which have such a power to startle us with such an affirmation of the utterly fleshly reality of the Incarnation of God and our communion with Him.

Pusey was a blessed and very great Catholicae Fidei Magister

He is buried in the Cathedral here; may God bring on the day when a joyous pilgrimage Mass in the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite may be sung by his grave.

Not far away, in Cassington church, there are the Jacobean Stalls originally in Christ Church Cathedral ... Pusey's stall for 42 years is marked with a plaque ... if nobody is looking, you could even sit in it for a moment ...


12 March 2022

Concelebration on Maundy Thursday

Christmas is well behind us ... and I suppose we are now making our way to the next crisis point in the Liturgy Wars which PF, most bellicose pontiff since Papa della Rovere, has declared on the Traddy Periphery in his suffering Church.

Roche's Responsa ad Dubia makes much of the Concelebration at the Chrism Mass. I feel there are careful distinctions to be made here.

Vatican II, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, made it clear that every (cuique) priest always (semper) has the option (facultas) of celebrating a 'private Mass'. 

But this was limited by "non vero ... feria V in Cena Domini".

So do we here have that iniquitous Council forbidding us poor presbyters to offer our 'own' Masses on Maundy Thursday?? The day of the founding of the Priesthood! Just the day when every priest will most want to offer his Mass! We should be elbowing each other out of the way in our haste to ...etc..

But stay. One moment! In the ancient tradition of our Western Church, Maundy Thursday was a day when no priest was allowed to offer a private Mass. As Gueranger wrote: "To offer the Faithful an outward expression of the greatness and the unity of this Supper, which our Saviour gave to his Disciples, and, through them, to us, - the Church forbids her Priests to say private Masses on this day, except in cases of necessity. She would have but one Sacrifice to be offered in each church, at which the other Priests are to assist, and receive Holy Communion from the hands of the Celebrant. When approaching the Altar, they put on the Stole, the emblem of their Prieshood."

There are one or two things here which I would have expressed differently, but the point is that, in forbidding private Masses on this day, the modern rules are bang in the centre of the ancient Tradition of the Latin Church. If a traddy doesn't like it, well, in this respect he's not very traddy.

So what should a traddy cleric do? (In this day and age, of course, he is more likely to be the celebrant at the day's single Mass than he would have been 130 years ago ... but let's leave that on one side). 

He could do what Gueranger describes, and what Bouyer commended as "more primitive", and communicate wearing a stole. He could attend the Chrism Mass and communicate in this way. 

Alternatively, he can take the opportunity offered to him by the post-Conciliar rules, and concelebrate. Indeed, by the modern rules, he could get two concelebrations in, one at the Chrism Mass, one at the Mass of the last Supper (remember that it was part of the tinkerings of Pius XII 'n' Bugnini which divided the day's single pontifical Mass up into two Masses).

I can think of good arguments in favour of any of these options ...

What seems to me outrageous is for a Bishop to use concelebration at the Chrism Mass as some sort of test of loyalty, whether loyalty to himself or to some such loftier concept as the Spirit of the Council.

The Council gives not the slightest hint that concelebrating with the Bishop, on this day or any other, is or could be used as a test which (if a priest fails it) can render him liable to persecution.

This little game  is all the nastier because it represents a politicisation of what should be very dear and particularly holy.

To follow Roche down this path is to embrace a culture of tin-pot tyranny.

To suggest that somehow "the Council" requires (or even encourages) this, is to travel many miles down the well-trodden road of Bergoglian mendacity. (Is the word pseudophile in your dictionary?)

Moi??  I have concelebrated the Chrism Mass for decades. With both pleasure and even enthusiasm. (I just wish they would chop out all that silly stuff about Renewing Vows.)

My 'archaeological' preference would be for the older system of just the one pontifical Mass on Maundy Thursday, to 'make' the Chrism and to celebrate the Supper, as things used to be before the Liturgical Movement. And I would welcome restoration of the ancient concelebration by twelve vested presbyters of the Consecration of the Chrism. 

A genuinely traditional Concelebration!

11 March 2022


A bishop in Puerto Rico has been summarily dismissed by PF. I find myself unsympathetic towards some of the views ascribed to that Bishop; but I am far more disturbed by the ecclesial and doctrinal  aspects of this episode. 

As Bishop Torres has said: "A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be due canonical process to remove a parish priest." Indeed so. I am continually irritated by repetition of the platitude that Vatican II enhanced the status of the episcopate, when simultaneously steps are taken diminishing the powers of diocesan bishops. Traditionis custodes sinned shamelessly in this way. 'Subsidiarity' and 'Parrhesia' may be favoured rhetoric, but they are far from being accepted praxis.

Perhaps we remember here the strong language rightly used publicly by Cardinal Mueller when three of his operatives in the CDF were dismissed without process by PF: H E pointed out that this was not how any organisation should treat its employees. Bergoglian 'Mercy' is less truly merciful than recognised 'good practice' within secular business systems.

Torres was asked 'informally' by the Nuncio to resign. This sort of way of doing business is a hall-mark of tyranny ... the sort of thing that goes on, I presume, behind closed doors in banana republics.

Torres was told that he "had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico." (1) We have here an autocratic model of papacy under which, apparently, a dissent from aspects of current papal policy counts as sackable disobedience to the Roman pontiff. How different this is from the exchanges recorded between Archbishop Errington and Blessed Pius IX, when Errington refused to 'do a favour' to Pio Nono! (2) Torres had been the sole dissentient voice with regard to a certain piece of policy desired by the rest of the Puerto Rico episcopate. Former, wiser, pontiffs set in place a normative provision to the effect that Episcopal Conferences need to be unanimous for their decisions to take effect. This is in accordance with Catholic ecclesiology.

I am reminded of a rumour which circulated when Mark Davis was nominated to Shrewsbury: it was to the effect that some English bishops had complained to Rome that Nuncio Mennini was creating an 'unbalanced' English bench of bishops. Individuals do sometimes need to be protected against collective bullying by an aging oligarchy.

Torres 'had his card marked' earlier for being unenthusiastic about sending his seminarians to a National seminary. Tight control of seminary training appears to be a standard method of tyrannical oppression ... the first big stick the bully reaches for. I recall that the Franciscans of the Immaculate had their seminaries suppressed in order to eliminate their charism and to smash the order up.

And, apparently, Bishop Torres has been less than enthusiastic about banning Catholic worship.

Torres has remarked that "in the Church where mercy is so much preached, in practice some lack a minimum sense of justice". It is true that before the dread Tribunal we shall all hope for Mercy rather than for Justice. But in this fallen world, juridical systems and concepts of 'rights' and codes of Canon Law exist to protect the individual from arbitrary injustice. In the Church, if Mercy is truly more powerful than Justice, well and good; I will not condemn PF for having promoted a paedophile bishop (now convicted and Doing Time) to a nice little office in Rome. But there is nothing well and good about any system on earth, even Christ's Mystical Body militant here in earth, where an individual is not even granted Justice.

The retired Argentinian Archbishop Hector Aguer summed it all up:

"As never before, Roman centrality is imposed in the name of unity. These positions make us yearn for the freedom that the great popes supported, supporting the episcopate that was committed to the growth of the Church, and the evangelization of those who were still outside it."

Bene dixti domne.



10 March 2022


Because Arthur Roche is a busy man, I have drafted for him an Instruction which, I am confident, can be issued without the need for much emendation. I am offering curious readers a peep at my draft.

                                   EUCHARISTIC PRAYERS

(1) It has come to the notice of this August Dicastery that some presbyters, even some bishops, select the Eucharistic Prayer they intend to use without any reference to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, paragraph 365 (322 in earlier editions). By ignoring the plain sense of the advice and directions there given, they are ignoring the Mind of the Church. Because, as every fule do kno, the Missal promulgated after the Council by S Paul VI is the Mind of the Church. Never forget, little people, that the Roman Rite has only one (unicus) Use. Ignoring paragraph 365, especially in as grave a matter as the selection of the Eucharistic Prayer, demonstrates a mind opposed to that of the Council as well as ... which is even worse ... to that of our Holy Father Pope S Francis I. 

(2) Paragraph 365 makes clear that the only Eucharistic Prayer "which can always be used" is Prayer 1, the Roman Canon. According to the Mind of the Church, it should be used from Christmas Day until 1 January; on the Epiphany; at the Easter Vigil and until the Saturday after Easter; on the Ascension; at Pentecost; on All Saints' Day; at all celebrations of our Lady, S Joseph, S John Baptist, all and every one of the Apostles; on the festivals of Ss Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Laurence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, John, Stephan, Barnabas, Ignatius, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, and Anastasia.

(3) In addition, it should, according to the Mind of the Church, be used on all Sundays unless, for pastoral reasons, Prayer 3 be preferred. 

(4) Prayer 2 is provided for use on weekdays, although it is made clear that Prayer 1 "can always be used". It is clearly contrary to the Mind of the Church for Prayer 2 to be used on Sundays, either on the Sunday itself or at vigil Masses.

(5) Prayer 4, originally provided for congregations learned in Holy Scripture, may now be used on Sundays. Most prayerfully, this Compassionate Dicastery wishes you the very best of luck if you do so.

(6) It is the desire of the Holy Father and of this vastly Majestic Dicastery that the abuse of using Prayer 2 at Sunday Masses should cease forthwith. In particular, no priest ordained after the promulgation yesterday of this Instruction may use this Prayer unless with permission from his Bishop. Before giving such permission, a Bishop should consult this Wondrous Dicastery ... did I say consult? Of course, I meant to say seek permission from. This is what the official Latin Version of the present Instruction makes clear ... or, rather, will do in six months time when piccolo Andrea has done the Latin Translation. At the moment, he says he has mislaid his copy of A Latin Dictionary For Weaker Students In Minor Seminaries, as well as his teddy bear. If anyone has seen either or both of them lying around ...

At the audience granted on ........ the Holy Father Pope S Francis I approved this Instruction and ordered it to be published. 

9 March 2022

A Retiring Priest ... and the Olive Tree

Unwanted Priest The Autobiography of a Latin Mass Exile, Bryan Houghton, published by Angelico Press and with a Preface by Fr Gerard (say-no-more) Deighan, has loads of goodies.

Fr Houghton thought of retiring in 1964, when people started tampering with the Mass. "But I decided against [it]: the 1964 Mass had not touched the Canon--which in theory remained silent and in Latin. It was still possible to say the 1964 Mass with a certain amount of devotion. However, I wrote to the bishop handing in my resignation the day on which the Canon of the Mass was touched. He wrote back a charming letter in which he says: 'Nobody intends to reform the Canon,' and that 'the bishops are there precisely to preserve it.' Poor, dear Bishop! Little did he know what was going to happen." Yet Bishop Leo Parker had attended all four sessions of the Council; if even he failed to realise the plots that were being hatched ...

But Fr Bryan knew ... " ... interesting gossip ... Missions de France ... Innsbruck ... chat ... Karl Rahner ... Jungmann ... Both were most enlightening." ... ... ... ...

Five years later:

"Anyway, the new Mass was to come into force on the first Sunday of Advent, 1969. I wrote immediately to the bishop. Since the Canon had been altered, he had my resignation in my file since 1964. I should retire at midnight between Saturday and Sunday 29th/30th November, 1969."

So Fr Houghton did the logical thing: he drove South. "It would be absurd not to retire to the South. What I wanted was the northern limit of the South. But how can you tell that the South has started? Ah, that's easy: the olive tree. Thus, I drove down the right bank of the Rhone until I saw an olive tree." 

There he stopped; there, the very same day, he bought a house! 

Somebody should write a thesis about the relationship between Divine Grace and the possession of oodles of Old Money! 

Moi, I have little money and even fewer oodles, but I did plant an olive tree in my garden here after we moved in. During summer, I sit always to the south of it, spitting out olive stones all around it.

In those harrowing events, we have another illustration of the historical problem of the 1960s: the English bishops were not bad men. Far from it. But they had no idea what was going on ... and they were deceived by cunning crooks. Deceived themselves, they then deceived their clergy and laity. 

That's the sort of way the Enemy achieves his ends. Because, it does work, doesn't it?

8 March 2022

The necessary Canonisation of holy nuns?

On 27 February 1912, the Revd Dr Adrian Fortescue, writing to a blue-stocking friend, Mrs Courtenay Crickmer, explained

"Our Apostolick Lord [S Pius X] is going to die this year, which is really the best thing he can do. A holy nun has had a revelation, saw all the heavenly host crying 'Come long, Pius Puss, Puss Pius'. So he's got to go. When I am pope I shall canonize the nun."

S Pius in fact lasted until 20 August 1914, so, the vision not having been proved veridical, 'Pope S Adrian VII' would have been able to wriggle out of his ... er ... rash undertaking.

Oh ... the naughty, naughty, man!!

How might an equally naughty modern fantasist, if such an improbable person existed, update Sister's (rather iffy) vision? "Franky duckie, duckie Franky"? Or should it be in Patagonian Welsh? Is that what they speak in Argentina?

h/t to Fr Aidan Nichols' biography of Fr Fortescue. Well worth reading. Tons of good stuff.

7 March 2022

FORCED CONCELEBRATION: Louis Bouyer on why it is wrong

It is no secret that some bishops and some liturgical circles are ardently attracted by the idea that clergy who are devoted to the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite should be compelled, as a sign of communio, to concelebrate with their Bishop at the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday.

Personally, I not only have no principled objection to doing this; I actually favour it and regard it as appropriate. (I just wish that the daft 'Renewing of Vows' could be got rid of.) But my personal preferences are not the point.

Louis Bouyer was one of the most influential liturgical writers of the pre-Conciliar and Conciliar periods; he was himself actually involved in liturgical draftsmanship during the post-Conciliar period. In 1954, he had written Life and Liturgy; it appeared in English in 1956. In my view, it is a book still worth reading ... and not least because the positions he adopts and defends are not always comfortable to those who might regard themselves as "Vatican II" thinkers. 

Bouyer defends Concelebration in general: "It is certainly a legitimate hope that the practice of concelebration be allowed in the West as freely as in the East." 

But he goes on to assert that it "is definitely not primitive". And he argues for a liturgical "usage which is still quite according to the law in the West, is more ancient than the use of concelebration, and has, perhaps an even deeper significance [than Concelebration]." (My emphasis). For Bouyer, the essential unities of the Eucharist are "perhaps shown most clearly by the primitive type of celebration, that is, when only one priest, the bishop or his representative, says and performs the prex sacerdotalis."

So the preference (of, I believe I have heard, some members of the FSSP, as well as of others) for being present in choro at the Chrism Mass, but not concelebrating, is, in the mind of Bouyer, more 'primitive' and theologically, liturgically, better.


Everybody should remember that Vatican II at no point enforced Concelebration. 

If anybody tells you that Vatican II does, in any context, require Concelebration, he is a liar. Vatican II, in fact, explicitly preserves the right of every presbyter not to be made to concelebrate (Sacrosanctum Concilium 57 2 2). 

So, if any Bishop were to require a presbyter to concelebrate, or were to make Concelebration a precondition for some pastoral or canonical favour, that Bishop would ... constructively ... be a liar.

It is, I think, clear that those who deem it of great importance for their presbyters to concelebrate with them at the Chrism Mass (or on any other occasion), are not activated or motivated by genuine and soundly-based theological or liturgical principles. 

I find it difficult to avoid a conclusion that what would (if this happened) be going on would be an act of crude 'managerial' bullying whereby a small disfavoured minority would be publicly humiliated by being required to perform a ritual act of meek submission to a bully ... or his Daughter-in-law elect ...

Not nice. 


6 March 2022

GNOSTICISM: Valentinus redivivus

 First ... a Corrigendum. I have, from time to time, remarked on the scandal that the Usus Deterior of the Roman Rite eliminates the use as Sunday Collects of all the Sunday Collects of the great Christian seasons ... Advent; Lent; Easter ... as found in the Usus Authenticus. I failed to notice an exception: the Collect for Palm Sunday did survive. Apologies to readers.

But today: my subject is the Collect for the First Sunday in Lent. The Usus Deterior Collect asks that we may go ahead  to understanding Christ's Secret. When I looked at it the other day (like all sensible people, I don't have much more to do with the Usus Deterior than I have to) I was struck by how neatly this fits the the Gnostic Heresy. I mean, the idea that Christianity is to do with the understanding of unbodily things, and, even, of secret mysteries, and is not interested in the redemption and divinising of the body.

But this Collect is not a Sixties confection. That cannot be our charge against the Usus Deterior on this occasion. While this Collect is not in the Usus Authenticus, or in the so-called Gregorian Sacramentary, which is an earlier edition of the same rite, it is in the so-called Gelasian Sacramentary. The confectors, back in the Sixties, of the Usus Deterior were moderately keen on making use of forms they found in earlier rites. The gravamen against them is that in the selection and choices and emendations they made, there is a consistent and impatient motive of eliminating certain ideas. That is what lies at the heart of the bias intelligent people have in favour of the Usus Authenticus: it offers a far broader and more generous (and sometimes more daring: consider the formulae pro defunctis) selection from two millennia of Christian praying, while the impoverished Usus Deterior works with a far narrower and more grudging set of concepts and themes.

The Collect for Lent 2 (which is a Sixties confection) would also have been equally acceptable to the great Gnostic heresiarchs such as dear Valentinus (the Word will feed us  inwardly so that we may be purified by spiritual vision).

Sunday worshippers regularly at the Usus Deterior will not be faced this Lent with bodily concepts unless they survive until Lent 3, when the Collect (taken from the so-called Gelasian Sacramentary) does refer to fasts, prayers, and alms.

So what did the toilers of the Sixties eliminate from the euchological tradition of the Roman Church? They were, understandably, shy about the whole concept of fasting, which had largely gone missing from Western Christendom. 

I tend to feel that the Papacy, by its neglect during the last century, shares some blame for allowing this ancient Christian praxis to disappear. Is it really so much more difficult for office-workers to fast in the temperate zones of world than it was for peasants working under a hot sun in their Middle Eastern fields? Why is it that our own substantial Islamic population has so little trouble observing Ramadan?

And then there is the whole bundle of ideas that the sufferings we endure, from natural disasters as well as by acts of human agency, are sent by God as punishments, and that by bodily fasting we in some degree expiate the sins of our First Parents; of the society surrounding us; of ourselves.

Yes; there are problems here about how we relate to the post-Christian world we live in. The hopes many Orthodox felt, that their Great and Holy Council would sort out for them the interface between Modernity and Tradition, were dashed.

But I wonder if the violent and extensive 'Bugnini' mishandling of the Liturgical Tradition which followed after Vatican II was really the best methodology for dealing with these problems. Professor Ratzinger came to doubt that it was.

Sacrosanctum Concilium tiptoed very nervously round Fasting (paras 109, 110, and especially 111). Despite the claim of Vatican II to be a 'Pastoral Council', its boldest intervention is its laughably timorous requirement that the Paschal Fast ("Good Friday and, iuxta opportunitatem, prolonged throughout Holy Saturday") should be observed (sacrum esto ... ubique celebrandum ...).

I am sure that PF and his roche are even now preparing strict regulations reinforced by blood-curdling responsa ad dubia regarding observance of this quite modest conciliar mandate! Roll them out, grammatical howlers in your Latin included! 

It's less than six weeks until the Triduum!

5 March 2022


 The whole Church, the immaculate Spouse, the Ark of salvation, [has been turned into] a vast, sprawling mass of discussion groups. There are the Roman Synod, national and regional councils of bishops, the same of priests, commissions for this, commissions for that, diocesan senates, refresher courses, study days, even deanery meetings, days of recollection, retreats and in some cases the Mass itself have all been turned into discussion groups. The wretched laity have not been spared but have been dragged into commissions and councils at every level.  ... everything is discussed in an absract, irresponsible , open-ended way. Everything is questioned, down to the foundations of religion itself ...

Sic scripsit Bryan Houghton Anno 1975.

My own private and personal view of Cosmopolitics is this. The Enemy has got this 'Synodality' thing going because he realised that he was losing control. There were troubling signs in the Church of supernatural growth; of little shoots and new buds offering the first presentiments of a bright Spring of Divine Grace. Emergency action was called for: So a stop had to be put to new expressions of the Religious life, such as the Franciscans of the Immaculate. Liturgical renewal had to be stopped in its tracks before it could do any more harm.

The (from an Infernal point of view) fine days of the post-Conciliar disorders needed to be brought back. And what better method than to get everybody thinking and talking and having meetings about change. Humans need to have some purpose ... and so here is the reason for the feverish nonsense of Synodality. Above all, the policy of the Great Power Below is to get people excited about a Future which ... by definition ... does not exist. And to prevent humans from focussing on the only gift God is bestowing: His present moment.

Men are created for Godhead; for theosis, the divinisation which is imparted in Holy Baptism; and is perfected though participation in the Divine Gifts of the Redeemer's Body and Blood. The over-arching purpose of all human life is the offering of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist, a Sanctum Sacrificium, an Immaculata Hostia. And the multiplication of Human Beings to perpetuate this offering as Companions in His love. By this more-than-act, Man and God come into a unity of exchange, an Admirabile Commercium in which the Almighty is given, in the one and only way possible, the glory due to His Name, and Man has the privilege, which is like nothing else on earth, of entering into the movement of that Great Offering.

Will PF's load of contrived busy-ness succeed in putting Glory to flight?

I rather think not. But my duty is not to speculate but to ...

4 March 2022

Lots of News ...

 Good pictures on my screen yesterday of coal mines going at full pelt so that "the West" will no longer need to worry about having Russky gas and oil cut off! Splendid!! It seems only a few weeks since we had yet another of those 'Climate Change' Conferences with gallons galore of moralising about the absolute and over-riding obligation of Saving The Planet For Our Great Grandchildren. Mega!! Good to know that Mother Earth ... and our Great Grandchildren ... no longer need to be Saved from the dreaded Carbon! Phew! What a relief!

And there were eloquent remarks from one of our politicians, about trying Russky generals for War Crimes. What makes this splendid news all the more welcome is that it presumably must imply that the US of A are finally going to sign up to the International Criminal Court!!

And the same fellow has threatened Russky generals that they will be "hunted down". Why do the most ineffectual politicians so often come up with the most robustly virile rhetoric?

And, on successive days, we have been told about the channel Russia Today being banned from our airwaves (quite right too! ban it now!); and that the Russkies are (wicked tyrants!) to be condemned for daring to prevent their populations from hearing The Facts being broadcast from Western Media. Absolutely right!

Yesterday, we strolled down to the River for Torpids. Neither Earth nor Air nor Fire was the dominant Element ... but an undergraduate grandson was rowing. Nec sine fausto effectu! What was, additionally, immensely cheering was to see the Ukrainian Flag prominent on boathouses each side of the River. 

A welcome change from the addiction of many in their generation to the upsetting and divisive LBGT flag! 

What passionate and principled poppets the Young are!

3 March 2022

Pope Francis attacks the Holy English Martyrs

Reading the Scriptures at Mass in a non-vernacular language is, according to our Holy Father, "like laughing at the Word of God". 

I find this a remarkable insult to hurl at our English Martyrs. 

It is a good thing that, some years ago now, after reading S John Henry Newman on the Suspense of the function of the Ecclesia docens, I concluded that we must now be in precisely just such a period of Suspense. I cannot see how else one can fit PF into any sort of Catholic Ecclesiology.

The earliest of the English Martyrs were attached to the Sarum Rite ... not really, Fortescue explains, a 'Rite' but a dialect of the Roman Rite. S John Fisher ... the Holy Carthusian Martyrs ... John Forest ... the blessed Benedictine Abbots ... Blessed Thomas Plumtree who restored the Sarum Rite to Durham Cathedral ... layfolk such as the glorious yokels martyred in the South West and Oxfordshire, and the Lord Chancellor and Cardinal Pole's martyred mother and Thomas Percy Earl of Northumberland. (There is still a sweet little stained-glass window of him in the former, 1820s, Catholic Church in Alnwick, beneath the shadow of his castle. Secularised, the church is now a museum.)

And the readings in the Sarum Rite were not done in the vernacular.

Those martyrs were "laughing at the Word of God"!

Then, in 1576 at Douay, they started to teach the young men the 'Tridentine' Rite ... young men whom S Philip Neri addressed in the streets of Rome with the words Salvete flores martyrum. The last beatified martyrs were Fr Thomas Thweng and William Howard, Viscount Stafford, condemned for "the Plot" in 1680.

And the readings in the Tridentine Rite were not done in the vernacular.

They, too, were "laughing at the Word of God".

I wonder if it will ever occur to this obsessed person to apologise for his campaign of hatred against Catholic worship; against so many holy priests who have used the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite, including our Martyrs.

So many heroic lives; so much blood.

And all, we are taught by the Summus Fidei Magister, so that those martyrs could "laugh at the Word of God".


2 March 2022

an orible tode upon hir breste bytwene hir teetys ... and she stanke ...

 Really loyal readers may recall my post last November about the Fair Rosamund, a Plantagenet Paelex, on whose grave was carved, allegedly by S Hugh (Bishop of Lincoln 1186-1200), the elegiac distich:

Hic iacet in tumba rosa mundi non rosa munda/ Nec redolet sed olet quod redolere solet.

Videlicet, she was a 'lady' who smelt lovely while she lived, but whose body, when her tomb was opened, "stanke so that the kyng, ne non other, might stond to se that oryble sight". (The king was Henry II, regnabat 1154-1189.)

These same two lines still appear on the tomb of a French canon in South West France, who died in 1334. His name was not even Rosamund! There must be other examples ...?

I was reminded of this trope on the festival (November 26) of S Silvester the Abbot. He died in 1267. His Breviary readings relate that, seeing the 'deforme cadaver' of a relative, he observed Ego sum quod hic fuit; quod hic est ego ero. [I am what he was; what he is, I shall be.] This became a medieval commonplace.

Apparently, it was in the 1430s that the efflorescence began of the Memento mori custom; carving beneath the memorial effigy of some notable person, a sculpture of their decaying corpse ... often, worms and all.

Today, Ash Wednesday, we hear the words Memento homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris.

I wonder if anybody has ever published research on the medieval homiletic use of the realities of corporal decomposition. What were its social or literary sources? Is there a significant timeline?

Footnote (1): The Ordinariate Missal omits the word homo. Sad!  When administering this rite, saying these words again and again over so many different types of humans, I used to feel quite moved by the repeated, solemn assertion of our commom and shared, humanity, with its common human destiny in Death. Why should feminism have been able to rob us of this sentiment?

Footnote (2): Does anybody know when use of the formula Memento homo ... (cf Genesis 3:19) starts or becomes general? We know, of course, that fixing the first day of Lent on the Wednesday after Quinquagesima happened quite late. There are first-millenium associations between penitential systems and ashes, but 'Wednesday Ashes' appear not to have been used at Rome before circa 1090-1140 (although outside Rome itself  ... for example at Eynsham near Oxford ... things appear to have happened earlier). And I am uncertain whether one ought to be alive to possible distinctions between Distributing, Sprinkling, and Imposing.

1 March 2022

ALL your sins!! Shrove Tuesay

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath lefte power to his Churche to absolue all sinners, which truely repent and beleue in hym: of his great mercy forgeue thee thyne offences: and by his autoritie committed to me, I absolue thee from all thy synnes, in the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen.

Such is the form of Absolution in the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, and in its subsequent English recensions. S John Henry Newman, naughty man, in his Apologia pro Vita Sua, used it ad hominem to taunt Evangelical critics of  'Auricular Confession'.

(When the Church of Ireland was disestablished, it seized the opportunity to discontinue this form. It wished also to eliminate from the formula of priestly ordination "Whose sins thou dost retain" etc.:  but the lawyers explained that this omission might give rise to questions in law about whether Irish ordinations would be considered valid in the Church of England. ... BTW ... Rumour has it that the post-Conciliar Roman Pontifical has indeed scratched out that formula ... surely not ... whatever would Leo XIII, author of Apostolicae curae, have said!! Not to mention dear Cardinal Vaughan!)

What strikes you as unusual about the 1549 wording of the Absolution?


The priest absolves the penitent from all his or her sins. Roman forms, both old and new, tend not to specify all. But all goes back to the pre-Reformation English rites, such as that of Sarum. 

I think quite a number of ex-Anglicans have noticed the less explicitly complete and generous wording of the Roman forms! Strange that PF never spotted it, what with Mercy and all that stuff a few years ago.

Personally, I do rather like the (Pre-Bugnini) Roman form. I positively wallow in that lovely rounded phrase in quantum possum et tu indiges. 

And the remission of censures, etc.. The delicious ancient legalism of Roman Christianity (vide Christine Mohrmann) shines very nicely through.

Anyway ... I think the Ordinariates should resume the historic Anglican, and ancient English Catholic, form. Or, if they don't, ex-Anglican confessors could emphatically insert the word ALL

Invictae Imperatrici ...

I hesitate to emphasise the status of Kiev, Great City and the cradle of Holy Rus, lest I seem to imply that human beings elsewhere in suffering Ukraine do not "matter as much". 

But I am irresistibly compelled by the indulgenced bilingual version of the Acathist hymn discovered by Joshua ... needless to say, the Roman Pontiff responsible is the Great and Glorious Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini. 

Invictae Imperatrici festos Tibi ob victoriam dies Ego Civitas tua, utpote a calamitatibus liberata, in gratiarum actiones perscribo, o Dei Genetrix. Tu autem ut quae virtute polles insuperabili, ab omni me periculorum genere eripe, quo ad Te clamem: AVE SPONSA INNUPTA!