29 April 2022

A Week of liturgical goodies (1)

Goodies ... but, sometimes, competing and confusing goodies. We shall see this next week.

Take S Joseph. The Cultus of Saints in earlier days had a lot to do wth the possession of Relics and ... a little later ... the Dedications of Churches. S Joseph lost out there. The later fashion for a Universal Calendar based upon rational principles was to serve him rather better.

By the tenth century, he was observed in some places in the East on March 19. As such things do, this feast moved West and was accepted in Rome in 1479 ... and extended to the Universal (Latin) Church in 1621. My own unproved suspicion is that the medieval enthusiasm for S John Baptist had proved a bit of a blocker to S Joseph. Certainly, since the growth of the cultus of S Joseph, that of my own Patron the Baptist has tended to suffer something of an eclipse. 

In 1870, that inventive pontiff Pio Nono introduced a feast of S Joseph in Eastertide; newly declared to be Patron of the Universal Church, his (double of the First Class) Festival was fixed for the Wednesday in the second week after the Octave of Easter. The propers are biblical and attractive and 'typological'.

If Blessed Pius IX was inventive, Venerable Pius XII was ... let us say no more! in 1955, at the height of the Cold War, he had the brilliantly clever idea of stealing May Day from the lefties by restyling it as S Joseph the Worker. Like many brilliant ideas, it never made good. Right from the beginning, it was undermined by the American Bishops nagging for the right to observe it, instead, on their 'Labor Day'. It was such a flop that after the Council the coetus revising the calendar reduced it to an optional memoria. In other words, on May Day you could now find yourself in green vestments just celebrating the feria!

Now back a bit. In order to clear the way for S Joseph the Worker, Pius XII had to shift SS Philip and James off May 1 (observed in Rome after the Dedication in 570 of the Basilica of the XII Apostles).  They slipped down to May 11 before clawing their way after the Council back to May 3.

It seems to me perfectly clear what we need to do in order to follow Tradition and Auctoritas is to put SS Philip and James back onto May 1. 

I do not favour a fetichising of the Missal of 1962; and we have here a good example of why such fetichising is misguided. How can a Feast which was prescribed with high rank for May 1 but only existed thus for some fifteen years, be regarded as more sacrosanct than a Feast a millennium and a half old? 

I am not opposed to organic evolution. So I also favour going back to observing Pio Nono's Feast on Wednesday next. But ...

Yes; there is a knock-on-effect problem. To be continued.

28 April 2022

Next Sunday: Pip'n'jim on May Morning? Go on ... ... be daring ...

That is how Ss Philip and S James used irreverently to be referred to in Oxford. One of our most majestic Victorian Anglo-Catholic churches, also known as Pip'n'jim, raised its great spire into the sky above North Oxford; Parish Church for the redbrick suburbs that grew up in the later nineteenth century after dons were allowed to marry. Spire and building are still there, but the building now houses offices for some Evangelical organisation. A symbol of what has happened to this place. So swiftly, as Waugh put it, have the waters come flooding in; Newman's aquatint Oxford, Anthony Trollope's Oxford, hot-house of Anglican Theology ... and of Anglican scheming and quarrelling and gossipping ... the grey-stone town where and whence the black-backed parsons ruled ... even Zuleika's playground ... these Oxfords are no more, unless Plato has their idea wisely and safely tucked away in his heaven and allows tour-operators to arrange excursions.

May Morning still exists; but it consists of little more than Mr Plod doing his best to quell disorder (more among the Town than among the Gown). The Proctor, of course, comes not within a million miles of Carfax and neither do his minions in their bowler hats. Frankly, if anyone wants to listen to madrigals sung, without any alcoholic disorders, they might be happier visiting the front quad at S John's (usually, at 7). For such gentle souls, that is distinctly more attractive than pretending to enjoy the 'traditional' crowded goings-on at Magdalene bridge (at six o'clock).

Rather a sad fate, this, isn't it, for the lovely old English celebration of May Morning? And it gets sadder: Pius XII, silly fellow, followed by the Usus Deterior of the Roman Rite, trashed Tradition by abolishing the celebration of Ss Philip and James on May Morning, and shoving the pair of them around, like suspicious vagrants Of No Fixed Abode, endlessly moved on by the police. Yet this had been one of the thirty-odd Days of Obligation when the community met together for Mass, until encroachments of the Enlightenment (I particularly blame Napoleon) and an appetitive Capitalist desire to keep the workers' noses to the grindstone reduced most of those days to Days of Devotion; when the Faithful were merely urged to go to Mass (and, of course, next to nobody nowadays even urges).

Dispossessing Ss Philip and James of May 1 so that S Joseph Opifex could occupy it and so reclaim for the Church the Socialist Workers' Festival is ... let's be fair ... not a bad idea. 


But it never caught on. 

You can't, simply by decree, create a deeply known and inculturated traditional celebration. Imaginative liturgical reformers never realise that. They favour the idea of inculturation, but, when shown a living example, they scarper off and take cover in their self-invented rigidities.

And this year, of course, yet another problem raises its ugly head. Pip'n'jim is on Sunday May 1 and therefore collides with a Sunday in Eastertide; a fact which, since the time of Pius XII, has required their suppression. Mgr Burnham, emeritus Bishop of Ebbsfleet, and Dr Lawrence Hemming, have deplored these modern rules which mean that most of the feasts of the Apostles never get exposed liturgically to the contemplation of Sunday worshippers. 

I can offer a nicely pedantic dodge which might enable readers to circumvent this absurdity.

H Davis Moral and Pastoral Theology (1934) Vol iii p 145 writes "To substitute for the Mass prescribed in the Calendar another Mass at choice would normally be a venial sin, but if great scandal arose or there was contempt or serious negligence, the sin would be a grave one. It would be no sin if the celebrant had a reasonable excuse for the change and if there were no scandal. But to make such substitutions frequently would connote contempt of the Rubrics, and would be a grievous sin unless, as stated, there was a serious reason for thus acting."  

Would a devotional desire, or the pastoral need for catechesis, be a iusta causa? Even a gravis causa?

Davis, of course, was writing in those bad old Rigid times which PF has taught us to suspect. If Davis could write as permissively as that then, how much more forgivable must it be nowadays to give oneself just a little leeway in such matters? Occasionally?

Is a fortiori in your dictionary?

So who feels daring enough to tell their sacristan to put out red vestments for Sunday?

27 April 2022

An interesting little old document (1)

More than half a century ago, there emerged an Anglican document called Alternative Services Second Series. It was a significant moment in liturgical reform within the Church of England. I want to share a few words about its (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to provide a Eucharistic Prayer which would rescue the Church of England from the Reformation dichotomies.

What is the relevance of all this to today's problems? That only the Canon Romanus can without mendacity be seen as the Roman Eucharistic Prayer. Unless our ingenious friend Archbishop Roche can explain what continuity he can discern between The Roman Canon and the prayer erroneously attributed to 'Hippolytus'.

My argument: those Anglicans produced a very clever immensely brief summary of the Roman Canon which, on the (certainly questionable) assumption that such a brief summary was actually needed, was in every possible way better than the Pseudo-Hippolytan Trattoria-in-the-Trastevere Prayer which is now all but universal in the Latin Church. I will print this Prayer, indicating which of the paragraphs in the Canon each line summarises. I have put within {curly brackets} those words which do not relate to the central part of the Canon Romanus.

Hear us, O Father, through Christ thy Son our Lord;        Te igitur
through him accept                                                                 Te igitur
our sacrifice of praise;                                                            Memento
{and grant} that these gifts                                                    Te igitur
of bread and wine may be unto us his body and blood    Quam oblationem
Who ...                                                                                       Qui ...
Wherefore, O Lord, having in remembrance his saving passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven, {and looking for the coming of his kingdom,} we offer unto thee this bread and this cup;                                                                  Unde et memores
and we pray thee to accept                                                     Supra quae
this our duty and service                                                        Hanc igitur
in the presence of thy divine majesty,                                  Supplices
through the same Christ our Lord;                                         Per quem
By whom and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty,                                                                                   Per Ipsum
from the whole company of earth and heaven,                    Communicantes and Nobis quoque
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.                   Per omnia saecula ...

In the discussion which will occupy the second half of this piece, I do not intend to go over the (ultimately successful) Evangelical campaign to eliminate we offer ... this bread and this cup. I am more interested in the fact that there is here no Invocation of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the Eucharistic Elements. What we do have here is best understood as an intelligent (and amazingly terse!) expression of the old Roman (and rather 'binitarian') idea, preceding the sudden fourth century explosion of interest in the Holy Spirit, that the elements are 'consecrated' by their acceptance by the Father. It is a shame that the compilers of the Ordinariate Missal, feeling obliged to allow something shorter than the Canon for optional use on weekdays, did not select this rather than Pseudo-Hippolytus. 

{and looking for the coming of his kingdom} I attribute to the enthusiasm of the 1960s for seeing everything Eschatologically. As Fr Jack Hegarty explained to Bishop Brennan during the Visitation of Craggy Island, most 'questions' are Eschatological ... at least to the extent that this magical word has a extraordinary capacity to silence bores.

To be continued.

26 April 2022

Names of Blogs

 I never considered calling this blog after some hero of mine ... mainly because I don't much do heroes. (Had I done so, perhaps you might now be reading "Prospero Lambertini").

There is on the Internet a blog named after Archbishop Cranmer. Iffy, I would have thought. Is this the same Cranmer who helped to send so many men and women to their deaths in the service of corrupt and murderous Tudor regimes? The Cranmer who colluded with the Great Genocide of the South West in 1549? 

That 'blog' is currently very angry indeed. It describes Patriarch Cyril of Moskow as "a wolf in sheep's clothing, a false prophet, and a whited sepulchre. He sits in Christ's seat with his flowing tassels and silken robes ... He just blessed everyone and splashed a bit of holy water around and crossed his chest and waved his flames ..."

Just the sort of crazed, rabid protestantism as that of the real Cranmer, at whose instigation the parish churches of England were looted and vandalised. So reminiscent also of the Kensitite mobs which wrecked Anglo-Catholic churches a century ago; which beat up Fr Bernard Walke because he went to Dartmoor and said Mass among the 'Conchie' prisoners, including the Quakers.

How some proddies do so viscerally hate and detest the accompaniments of Traditional worship ... "tassels ... silken ... robes ... holy water ... 'waved' ..."

And how absolute is their determination to refuse to understand what makes other Christians tick; in this case, the association of Land and Faith in 'Holy Rus', and the consequent insistence upon "the canonical territory of the Moskow Patriarchate".

I am a Roman Catholic. I don't buy the full package of the self-understanding of the Moskow Patriarchate. But I am 'ecumenical' enough to respect Christians from whom I differ.

And to want to understand them better.

After something like a century of the "Ecumenical Movement", there are apparently still people around who turn instantly to abuse, and to demands that the Moskow Patriarchate be expelled from the WCC.

Not in my name.


25 April 2022


 In 1927 and 1928, Parliament twice rejected a revised Anglican Book of Common Prayer. One reason for this was a weird campaign which saw two groups fighting for the rejection, which were at daggers drrawn with each other. The hard-line Calvinists thought that the revised book was too popish. The Anglo-Catholics, many of whom were papalists, opposed it because it was part of a plan by the Bishops to suppress the Tridentine Rite, which by then was spreading in the Church of England like wildfire. 

(Why do bad and/or misguided men so hate the "Tridentine Rite"?)

You see, the 'old' book of 1662 (essentially 1552) was by then obeyed by nobody in the C of E. This made it hard for a bishop to persecute the papalists, because if he attacked a priest for disobeying 1662 pages 11, 21, and 31, the attacked cleric could retort "But you disobey pages 15, 25, and 35". But if 1928 had been passed, the Establishment could then have persecuted the papalists for any infringement of 'the Book' without thereby manifesting themselves as hypocrites.

The failure of 1928 meant that the Anglo-papalists continued to use the Tridentine Rite, either in English or in Latin, until, around 1970, the silly, silly fellows gave it up in favour of the new 'Bugnini' Roman Rite: what on this blog we will call the Usus Deterior.

The C of E licked its wounds for decades after 1928. But eventually, on 1 May 1966, it secured powers to adopt "alternative services for experimental use". A schedule of such permissions was published and called "Series 1".

This was at a time when, in Rome, the post-Conciliar destruction of the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite was at a fairly early stage: Sacrosanctum Concilium had been passed by the Council but the changes to be inflicted upon parishes were as yet comparatively minimal. No-one then knew that the 'reforms' would end up going so very far beyond what the Council had mandated ... PF and his roche conceal this dirty little secret by continually refering to the Usus Deterior as if it were just what the Council had called for. They appear to be motivated by the wise perception of Dr Goebbels that, if you tell a lie often enough and loudly enough, people will believe it.

Series 1 enables us to see a stage of Anglican reform which was modest and organic. 

 After Rome really got going with her vandalisation, the C of E slavishly imitated her. But that stage had in 1966 as yet not quite been reached. For example: the post-Conciliar Vatican revisers were to convince themselves of the necessity of a Eucharistic Epiclesis (calling upon the Holy Ghost to transsubstantiate the bread and wine). But the disastrous 'Additional Eucharistic Prayers' exemplifying this unfortunate innovation were not authorised by Rome until 23 May 1968.

Accordingly, the eucharistic provisions of Series 1 in 1966 show no signs whatsoever of interpolating the Holy Spirit into the Anglican Order of the Eucharist.

But the Conciliar Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium had indeed referred to "enriching" the "table of Scripture" offered to the laity. And this did affect Series 1. 

Readers will know that, eventually, the Roman post-Conciliar 'revisers' were to abolish totally the inherited Epistles and Gospels which went back in the Roman Rite for a millennium and a half. But they had not yet issued a new lectionary. So the C of E authorised its own "Table of Old Testament lessons for the Holy Communion." 

And this was done by retaining the ancient Western Epistles and Gospels which the C of E had kept from the medieval rites ... and simply adding to it OT readings which matched one or other of the Epistle or Gospel. A couple of random examples: on Trinity 4, the Epistle, Romans 8:18sqq, refers to the Creation itself groaning and travailing as it awaits redemption. So the matching OT reading provided was Genesis 3:17-19, describing the state of fallen Creation. On Trinity 5, where the Gospel describes (Luke 5:1sqq) how S Peter and his associates "forsook all and followed him", I Kings 19:19-21 describes Elisha forsaking all and following Elijah. 

You get the point.

Sometimes people say that they do not understand the concept of "organic" liturgical evolution. I think that this neat little detail of Anglican evolution is a good example of a method alternative to (and so very much better than) Year A Year B and Year C and all the stuff so well listed and exposed by Matthew P Hazell in his indispensable Index Lectionum.

I write this not in order to recommend that particular Anglican set of readings; but to illustrate that things can be made to evolve organically ... which is exactly what Sacrosanctum Concilium explicitly, actually, mandated.

The post-conciliar revisers could simply have obeyed Vatican II. Instead, they decided on their Scorch and Burn, Rape and Pllage, approach to "Reform".

24 April 2022

The Pascha; and Martyrion (12)

My warmest good wishes to Fathers and their Faithful who observe the Pascha today. And the assurance of my prayers for them throughout Bright Week.

I think East and West are united in perceiving the importance of this ancient Easter Reading. Here is the last of Canon Couratin's expositions of the Vigil Lections.

 Lesson XII. The Three Children. (Daniel 3:1-24) 

What a ridiculous ending to an otherwise edifying series of lessons, -- three men with absurd names, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, -- and the harp, sackbut, psaltery and dulcimer, and the funny story about the band as before -- and their being cast into the burning fiery furnace completely dressed in their coats, their hosen and their hats.

But it didn't seem so funny to the Jews in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, when it encouraged men who were waiting to be burned to death to hope that they would meet one like unto the Son of Man in the midst of the fire.

And it didn't seem so funny to the Christians of the second and third centuries who painted the three children, -- coats, hosen, hats and all, -- on the sides of the catacombs, after burying the charred remains of their fellows in the tombs along the walls.

This text presumably entered the liturgy before the Christisn religion was permitted by the Roman Government. It was a final warning to those who were about to be baptised that it might cost them their lives. And many of those who heard the lesson, but neglected its warning and went on to Baptism, must never have heard it again. For by the next celebration of  the Vigil they had gone the way of the martyrs, and were reigning with Christ in the brightness of the eternal Easter. 

Alethos anesti! ... thanatoi thanaton patesas, kai tois en tois mnemasin zoen kharisamenos ...

23 April 2022

Canon Couratin (11)

Lesson XI. The Last Words of Moses. (Deuteronomy 31:22-30)

1. Moses before his death makes a last appeal to the Old Israel to be faithful to the Law of God. He has led them through the wilderness forty years and they have come to the waters of Jordan, and he knows their weakness and their instability. He is about to leave them, and he warns them that if they fall away, they will bring the divine judgement upon them.

2. The Church makes this warning its own in addressing the catechumens now that the three years' catechumenate and the forty days of immediate preparation are over, and they have come to the waters of Baptism. And she addresses the warning with equal appropriateness to all the baptised as well.

3. In every age all Christians have always needed reminding that not every one that saith unto Christ: Lord, Lord, (whether in the baptismal confession, or in the ordinary services of the Church) shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but only he that doeth the the will of Christ's father which is in Heaven. It is not those who make a good beginning in Baptism, or who make an annual effort in the Holy Week Retreat, that will be saved, but only those who endure unto the end. 

When is this year's 'Celtic' Easter

 Can anyone tell me when the 'Celtic', or Irish, Easter is this year? And, of course, why?

If an answer depends on the 1987 Peritia article, I would be glad to have a link.

22 April 2022

Canon Couratin (10)

Lesson X. Jonah's Mission to Nineveh. (Jonah 3:1-10)

1. Jonah is the Old Testament prophet who is sent by God to preach repentance to the Gentiles. In spite of his initial unwillingness and his subsequent impatience, he succeeds in securing the repentance of the people of Nineveh, and so saves the city and its inhabitants from the destruction that hangs over them.

2. It is therefore a suitable example to put before the people of the New Testament, especially at the time of their entrance into the Church in Baptism. For the Israel to which they are admitted is an Apostolic Church, charged with the duty of converting, or reconverting, all the nations of the world to repentance and faith.

3. But Jonah is also connected more cosely with the Passion and Resurrection, bercause our Lord uses the story of Jonah and the whale as a parable of his own dying and rising. The story had originally been told to illustrate the resurrection of Israel as a nation after being carried away into captivity and apparently destroyed. Our Lord uses the story to illustrate the resurrection of Israel in his own Messianic person, after the whole nation had destroyed itself by rejecting God's Messiah. 


 The NLM blog, last Tuesday, had a set of quotations from Cardinal Ratzinger. They go back over his long years and his many decades. They demonstrate that the Usus Deterior (or Novus Ordo, or Unicus Usus, or Ordinary Form ... whatever you want to call it) is not what Vatican II wanted and mandated; and that it is contrary to the nearly two Christian millennia that preceded it ...  in terms both of Law and of Liturgical Custom.

Then there is the question of the intentions of the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI when he issued his own Summorum Pontificum.

Lots and lots of VERY BIG LIES are currently being told (and acted upon) BY VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE, about all these related matters

We need facts.

We are in Peter Kwasniewski's debt (as so very often) for ensuring that these highly important quotations are right at our finger tips.


21 April 2022

Canon Couratin (9)

Lesson IX. The Paschal Lamb. (Exodus 12:1-11) 

1. It was by means of the Flesh and Blood of the Paschal Lamb that the Old Israel escaped from the bondage of Egypt. The blood was smeared upon the door-posts, and turned away the destroying angel of God's wrath, and the flesh was eaten by the People of God in accordance with his command.

2. It is by means of the Flesh and Blood of Christ that the New Israel escapes from the bondage of sin and death. The Passion and Resurrection of the Lord is the Christian Passover. Christ is the Paschal Lamb, who dies to put his life-giving Flesh and Blood at the disposal of his People. But Christ is also the New Israel who in his death and resurrection passes over from the bondage of this evil world into the freedom of the world to come.

3. Each Christian shares in the Christian Passover by means of the Paschal Sacraments. In Baptism the Christian is washed in the Blood of Christ, which turns away the destroying angel from his soul and makes him accepted in the beloved Son. In Baptism the Christian passes over from the bondage of this evil world into the glorious liberty of the children of God. And in the Eucharist he enters into the heavenly places and tastes the powers of the world to come and feeds on the Flesh and Blood of the Lamb of God.

S Mary of Magdala

Reading Gueranger for today, I was struck by the fact that he gives us the 'feminist' topos that she is the 'Apostle of the Apostles'. Indeed, Dom G makes today a sort of Day of the Magdalene.

One mustn't let trendy fashions blind one ...

I do, however, wonder whether devotion to this interesting woman has increased or diminished since she was so comprehensively revised in the 1960s.

20 April 2022

Canon Couratin (8)

 Lesson VIII. Isaiah describes the Church. (Isaiah 4:1-6)

1. Isaiah prophesies that there shall be a remnant of Israel left in Jerusalem, and that this remnant shall be holy. For the Lord shall have washed away the sins of the remnant, and shall have given them his own indwelling presence. 

2. The prophecy is fulfilled in the Christian Church, the new Israel. This is the true remnant of the Old Israel, enlarged by the admission of the Gentiles, and rendered holy by the descent of the Holy Spirit, who tabernacles in the Christian Church like the Glory in the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

3. It is also fulfilled in the life of each Christian, who becomes one of the Holy People by putting off his sins, original and actual, in the waters of Baptism, and by receiving the abiding presence of the Spirit in Confirmation; and the Spirit travels through life with each Christian as surely as the pillar of cloud and of fire guided the Israelites of old through the wilderness.


 A S Stephen's House priest who was a student there in the time of Canon Arthur Couratin writes: "I was there for these very distinctive features of the Vigil rite in Arthur's time, so they cannot possibly have been composed later. The style is utterly Arthurian both in structure and in the pithy turn of phrase, and it never occurred to anyone at the House that they might have been the product of anyone other than the Principal."

Thank you, Father! I have accordingly removed the question marks in my headings!!

19 April 2022

Canon Couratin? (7)

 Lesson VII. Ezekiel's Vision (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

1. Ezekiel saw the Spirit of God breathe upon the valley of dry bones and cause the bodies of the slain to come together again, and to stand up upon their feet. The vision was a parable of the restoration of Israel as a nation under the power of the Spirit of God.

2. Ezekiel's vision was fulfilled in the death and resurrection of our Lord, and in the gift of the Spirit which that resurrection secured for his Church. The Holy Spirit was not given before Jesus was glorified in his Passion. But when he was glorified, then he was empowered to impart to his Church the Spirit which was given him without measure by his Father.

3. The Spirit who was set free by Christ's Death and Resurrection, was imparted to his Church at Pentecost. He descended in power, and enabled the Apostles to live the Resurrection life here and now. And in each generation he effects a death and resurrection in those who come under his creative power in the waters of the font, and empowers them in Confirmaton to live by anticipation the life of the world to come.

Vulpium Combustio

Such is the dear old title for today on the dear old Roman Calendar .... I mean, the pagan, pre-Christian Roman Calendar. Ovidium vide. Ovidium omnes cognostis videndum esse.

Catch your fox; tie a brand to its tail; ignite the brand ... and Off It Goes. The Fox is trying to get away from the fire without realising that, the faster he runs, the faster the fire follows him. Poor primitive animal! What a jape!

So, as the spring evening darkens into night ... albeit, night illumined and sanctified by the Passover Moon ... one watches the fires spreading and merging in the distance ... one senses on the fragrantly romantic air the perfume of burning fox ... and wasn't there once a Franciscan priest called Father Volpi, a collaborator of our Holy Father ... I can't remember now quite how he comes into the story ... or how igneous he was ... but it all sounds so reassuringly Franciscan ...

Of course, Tradition is everywhere nowadays so very much under threat. I am starting RSPCA ... The Rigid Society for the  Preservation of the Customs of Antiquity.

For short, it will be referred to as Lore Enforcement. You may already have heard that phrase on excited lips. How quickly things do get around!

I expect warm endorsements from Prince Charles and HRH the Duchess of Sussex and the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Honourable the Earl of Oystermouth and Greta Wozname ...

And there is scope here too for Ecumenical Progress. I would expect this beautiful old ritual ... so in harmony with all our old instincts for entering into the Mother-Earth-based rhythms of the countryside ... to create new and fruitful harmonies between ourselves and Wicca ... and the Druids ... Pachamama ... Cardinal Madariaga ... Amazonian villagers ... the sacral purlieus of the Vatican Gardens ...

It may even be given a footnote in a revised edition of Laudato Si.


18 April 2022

War is a vile thing

 I am not a pacifist. I accept ex animo the Teaching of the Church on the subject of the Just War. I also entertain the suspicion held by many others, that in present circumstances it is not easy to see that any war can easily fulfil all the necessary conditions for being a Just War. I am also aware that I am not infallible or even humanly sound in my judgements about prudential human affairs. I beg forgiveness of those of you who may have recently thought that, confronted with obvious Evil, I have been unable to condemn it as you feel I should. I am probably the one in the wrong.

More than two decades ago, I did rejoice when Prince Charles opened the 'Hermitage Rooms' in central London. A set of rooms in a former Royal Palace on the banks of the Thames had been sumptuously redecorated in the style of the Hermitage Gallery in St Petersburg, and those rooms were to hold rotating exhibitions of spectacular goodies from the Hermitage itself. The fixer who had made all this possible was Lord Rothschild, a notable and highly distiguished patron of the Arts in modern Britain. 

In that first year, how spectacular those loaned goodies were. I loved it all; and, not least, a display of medals struck on the orders of the Empress Catherine the Great

One of these commemorated the Annexation of the Crimea "without bloodshed" on 8 April 1783 ... which I suspect might just be 19 April in our Gregorian Calendar. The Empress herself added to the draft design the words "the Result Of Peace".

Perhaps the antecedents of this event were not quite so entirely pacific. In 1770, Russia had destroyed the Turkish fleet in the Battle of Chesme; an engagement, incidentally, in which a Scottish sailor called Samuel Greig had taken part. He had entered the Empress's service as a captain and was promoted Admiral; after his death in 1788, Catherine had a fine golden medal struck in his honour; I wonder if this victory merits being listed with all those other triumphs of Western Christian Arms against Ottoman expansionism, including Lepanto.

And in 1787, another gold medal had commemorated the triumphant visit by the Empress to her new possessions. She was accompanied by the foreign ambassadors, and by "Count Falkenstein". This gentleman was ... incognito ... the Emperor of Austria.

I wonder if, possibly, we might sleep more securely if we knew Russia to be a comfortable part of a harmoniously Western Catholic/Orthodox culture ... but, you will tell me, that fantasy can now be no more.

Sadly, those grand rotating exhibitions no longer travel from the Hermitage on the Neva to the Hermitage on the Thames. Since Catherine initiated her collections by buying up the Walpole collection of Old Masters, one could make a good case for a great deal of this stuff to be categorised as part of our English Art Heritage! Why should we need to travel to S Petersburg to look at it?


17 April 2022


My text this Easter morning is a couple of lines from the Paschal Hymn Chorus novae Ierusalem, by S Fulbert of Chartres.

Captivitate libera/ Iesum sequuntur agmina.

In the Name ... 

Once upon a time, back in the dark, unreformed days when Roman Pontiffs could both read and write, Prospero Lambertini ... you think of him as Benedict XIV (1740-1758) ... was visiting the papal prisoners in the Sant' Angelo. No; I'm afraid he didn't wash their feet, because most unfortunately none of them was a Moslem or a woman and in any case their feet were quite disgustingly clean. But he did speak to each of them individually in that quiet and pastoral way which comes as naturally to the Successors of S Peter as nuclear buttons do to American Presidents. He asked every one of them in turn how he came to be incarcerated there. 

In their understated, frank, and honest Italian way, they told him. And what a sad story it was. All the enormities of the pre-Garibaldian legal system were described to him: corrupt judges; venal juries; mendacious witnesses ...  Each convict emphasised his own intensely devout Catholicism and (of course) the depth of his personal piety.

The Holy Father listened quietly and sympathetically. Each prisoner was impressed, and given the hope that his own case might be favourably reviewed on the Pope's instructions.

The final prisoner, however, was different. Trembling with guilt, he did not even venture to look up into the Pope's face. "Holy Father," he mumbled, "I was a professional burglar. I was fairly convicted after a just trial, and given a proper sentence. I deserve to be here".

Pope Benedict's reaction was peremptory, merciless, and rigid. Turning upon the Governor, he angrily ordered "What a dangerous crook this one is, and by his own admission! Release him instantly before he has any chance to corrupt all those other innocent and devout men!" 

16 April 2022

Knox's Exsultet

Here is a section of the translation of the Exsultet done by Mgr R A Knox, while he was still an Anglican:

The night is come, wherein, when our fathers, the children of Israel, were led forth from Egypt, thou dividest the Sea and madest them pass over as on dry land. Yea, the night is come, that with the fiery pillar hath purged away the darkness of our condemnation. The night is come, whereby all that believe in Christ on all the face of the earth, delivered from this naughty world and out of the shadow of death, are renewed unto grace and are made partakers of eternal life. The night is come, wherein the bonds of death are loosed, and Christ harrowing Hell rose again in triumph. For wherefore should man be born into this world, save that being born he might be redeemed? How wonderful then, O God, is thy loving-kindness unto us thy children! Behold, what manner of love he hath bestowed upon us: who, to redeem a servant, delivered up his only Son! O wonderful providence of Adam's transgression, that by such a death sin might be done away! O blessed iniquity [O felix culpa], for whose redemption such a price was paid by such a Saviour! ...

This has now been restored to use in the Ordinariate Missal. A couple of textual details:
(1) line 2: the Missal reads dividest; should it be dividedst?
(2) line 4: the Missal replaces naughty with wicked.

14 April 2022


O admirabilis potentia Crucis! O ineffabilis gloria passionis, in qua et tribunal Domini et iudicium mundi et potestas est Crucifixi. (Leo, PL 54, 340; O wonderful powerfulness of the Cross! O unspeakable Glory of the Passion! in which is the Tribunal of the Lord and the Judgement of the World and the powerful authority of the Crucified). Superb latinity: notice the contrast between potentia [what it can achieve] and potestas [the authority of a public official], the first pointing to and enacting the second. S Leo the Roman, the consummation of the old pagan Romanitas and principal begetter of the new, portrays the Crucified as a Roman Magistrate seated in full authority upon his curule chair passing Judgement on the mundus, the world which is now beginning to pass away; tetelestai!! .... ego nenikeka ton kosmon!!! But this Magistrate is not togatus; it is the essence of His Imperium that He is naked and scarred, and His curule chair is soaked in the scarlet of His Blood. Is this the ultimate apotheosis of oxymoron, the purpose for which oxymoron was, before time began, created in the mind of the Father and is now Spoken?

And what majestic theology. However can people repeat the old nonsense that we Latins see only pathos in the Crucifixion, and only Glory in the Resurrection! Gloria Passionis!

But we do rather indulge ourselves in the idea that our crucified Lord is ever merciful. He is, and the Divine Mercy does flow endlessly from His opened Sacred Heart, but that is only one side of a single coin. The Cross is also the tribunal, the Judgement seat, where the mundus receives iudicium, condemnation. We kneel before it on Good Friday in loving gratitude for the Blood of Salvation, but equally, surely, in Fear. The very tortured Reality whose feet we kneel today to kiss emphasises the reality and horror of the Sin in my own heart; He is the Lord whose painful light shows up the dark corners of my life and admits no other evidence in His Court of Appeal than His own Blood. He is the One who strips away all our chattering man-made self-justification so as to leave us naked but saved.

13 April 2022

Quis quem adloquitur?

"There is a father of the Church called St Tarasius, and I'm sorry to say that I know nothing about him, except that an extremely long and rather trying passage from one of his sermons came into the office yesterday, the [fifth day] in the Octave of the Immaculate Conception. He addresses our Lady in a series of very elaborate titles, mostly taken from the Old Testamemt; and among other things he says. 'Hail, thou light cloud, that dost scatter the heavenly rain'. At first, you rather wonder what he is talking about; but if you know your Bible very well, which I'm afraid most of us don't, you will remember that the prophet Isaias once said, 'Behold, the Lord shall go upon a light cloud, and shall enter into Egypt'. Well, that begins to put the thing more in its proper setting, and it's rather a nice idea, really, to think of the Flight into Egypt in that way--St Joseph trudging along, on those hard winter roads, and our Lady jogging along on the donkey's back, which isn't a really comfortable way of going long distances, though it's all right just for a few hundred yards at Folkestone, on the soft sand. But our Lord, you see, rests quietly on our Lady's breast, borne along as if on a light cloud."

Well; there you go. Who is the preacher? And ... you will have noticed the almost intimate, informal style of his preaching ... to whom is he speaking?

Here's a bit more:

"And you can think of it in another way; you can think of a country all parched with drought, and the farmers all scratching their heads and tapping the barometer and hoping for a nice drop of rain because what'll happen to the roots otherwise, and then a light cloud rising in the monotonous calm of the sky, with the promise of rain at last. That's how the world was, you see, when our Lord came, parched, dry, waiting for its redemption. And the cloud which brought promise of rain was the appearance on earth of our Blessed Lady, ready to bring down from heaven the precious Dew of Grace which would bring life into our starved natures once more."

Regnavit a ligno Deus

I venture to repeat, with its thread, an offering from five years ago.

 "The Lord has reigned from the Tree".

As Neale translates this stanza of the Vexilla Regis:

Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.

You will not find the words from the tree [literally, wood] in any version of the psalter that reposes upon your bookshelves ... nor in any translation ... unless you are lucky and learned enough to possess a copy of the 'Psalterium Romanum': where it does occur in verse 10 of psalm 96MT/AV=95LXX/Vg. This psalter was used by many in the time of Venantius, as well as much earlier. S Justin Martyr knew the reading a ligno, and accuses the Jews of deliberately censoring these words from their text because of the embarrassing Christian resonances. Tertullian, S Cyprian, Lactantius, and S Augustine knew it, but S Jerome could not find it in a Hebrew text. Nor is it in the Septuagint, except in one single bilingual manuscript ('apo xulou') where it might have crept across from the Latin side.

Despite this, could it be original? Well, the discovery of Hebrew Biblical manuscripts much earlier than the medieval Hebrew 'Masoretic text' which Jewry treats as authentic, has shown a much greater diversity in the textual tradition than most people expected ... especially in the poetic books. (I counted some 28 occasions on which the producers of the New Vulgate adopted a reading from the Qumran Isaiah, supported by early translations, in preference to a reading from the Masoretic Text.) And it has become very obvious (not least to that admirable Methodist Margaret Barker) that elimination of 'Christian' verses did occur. If this phrase is original, it could originally have referred to the wood of the ark of the Covenant, victorious over the Philistine god Dagon. That's quite a nice piece of typology anyway, isn't it?

This, however, is not in my view the big question. Texts, before the invention of printing, were inherently unstable (look at the apparatus criticus of the OCT Homer), and this phrase, 'original' or not, is quite simply part of our Biblical tradition (just as is the story in S John of the Woman Caught in Adultery); canonised by the Fathers who were fed by it ... and by the use of Venantius' hymn throughout the Latin Christian centuries. Dom Lentini, in his first draft (1968) of the revised Breviary hymns, retained the stanza, and admirably added in a footnote "We do not dare [non audemus] to suppress the strophe nor to change the line". Good for him.

However, by the time the Liturgia Horarum was authorised (1971), a more radical and philistine attitude held sway; a determination to 'dare' to make the Great Tradition less visible; a hermeneutic of rupture. It is the prayer of all right-thinking people that Papa Ratzinger was successful in starting a process of turning the Philistines back. The restoration of this stanza to the Liturgy is overdue.

Perhaps I should make clear that I would not, for example, want to add the phrase to the Vulgate or neoVulgate psalters. I just object to editing it out of Venantius, so as to create a univocal and exclusive model of the interaction between biblical texts and patristic/liturgical texts. Both in secular literature and within Scripture, intertextualities are often immensely complex and extremely rewarding.

As long as some addict of 'Enlightenment' linearity doesn't come along and rob us of them.

12 April 2022

My very grateful thanks ...

... to all who have been willing to facilitate my participation in the Roman Forum Conference in Gardone this summer. I feel very much in your debt.

"The Royal Maundy"

Maundy Thursday ... the Beeb has been refering to it as "Maundy Day". Just as so many of our chattering classes refer to Holy Week as Easter Week. I've just seen Good Friday referred to as Easter Friday ... I wonder if their arrogantly comfortable preference for being ignorantly offensive is a policy which the Meejah also enthusiastically apply to Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Humanism ...

On Maundy Thursday, the de facto successor of the Catholic Kings of Catholic England, visiting the Cathedral churches of the C of E in turn, gives purses of specially minted 'Maundy money' to deserving elderly people. The journalists love the'traditional'details: the number of recipients and the number of coins correspond to the years of the monarch ... the recipients have to decide whether to retain their coins or flog them to the dealers who circle round them like Bald Eagles ...or do I mean Texan Vultures ...

This ceremony is the old Christian Maundy foot-washing rite ... without the actual foot-washing! Very English, Very Anglican, you murmur ... although, as a memorial of earlier more Catholic times, a retired Chemistry teacher from Lancing College still hangs around these royal goings-on swathed in towels (he is now demoted to being styled 'Bishop of Worcester' and 'Lord High Almoner' ...).

It is obvious, culturally, that an actual foot-washing could never have survived the dignity-obsessed Whig Ascendancy. It didn't!

Greenacre and Haselock (The Sacrament of Easter) remind us of poor Cranmer's view that ceremonies retained in reformed ecclesial bodies should be "neyther darke nor dumme", and then comment: "It has regretfully to be conceded that the Royal Maundy as practised in our own days (moving, splendid, and memorable though it undoubtedly is) has become as dark and dumb as any of the ceremonies of the so-called 'Unreformed Churches'. The climax of the whole rite, the washing of the feet by the Sovereign, has been omitted. Surprisingly, William III was perhaps the last monarch to have performed it in person; it died out finally in the Hanoverian period, although as late as 1731 the Archbishop of York, as Lord High Almoner, washed the feet of the poor in the Chapel Royal on behalf of the King. ... Yet, in spite of this omission, many secondary features, such as the wearing of girded towels and the carrying of nosegays as a protection against the smell of unwashed feet, have been retained which can only make sense if the footwashing is performed. The real danger is that the sign of  'personal service' performed by the Sovereign can now be interpreted more as an act of generosity -- the distribution of purses -- than as an act of real, Christ-like, humility. A revival of the original Royal Maundy would be a powerful sign of the radical reinterpretation of the meaning of authority in the Christian tradition."

Atcherlee, I bet our exiled de jure monarchs (James II, James III, Charles III, Henry IX) carried the ceremony out in an authentic way. (And touched for the King's Evil ...)

And I doubt if the feet of Stuart peasants were very smelly ... first they had been washed by a lowly member of the Royal Household, then by a high official of the Household, before the Sovereign got anywhere near them.

11 April 2022

Some not-so-Solemn Good Friday Prayers

 In the First English Prayer Book of 1549, two faint shadows remained of the traditional Latin Solemn Prayers from the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified. One was Cranmer's graceful rendering of the old prayer Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, cuius Spiritu....

The second was an amalgamation of the intercession for Jews, Unbelievers, and heretics. This is how it went:

Mercyfull God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothyng that thou hast made, nor wouldest the deathe of a synner, but rather that he should be conuerted and liue; haue mercy upon *all Jewes, Turkes, Infidels, and hereticks, and take from them all ignoraunce, hardnes of heart, and contempt of thy word: and so fetche them home, blessed Lorde, to thy flocke, that they maye be saued among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one folde under one shepeherde, Jesu Christ our Lord; who lyveth and reigneth, &c.

 The abortive Prayer Book of 1928 which was widely drawn upon for modernising alternatives, emended the prayer from my red asterisk onwards:

*thine ancient people the Jews, and upon all who have not known thee, or who deny the faith of Christ crucified; take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Alternative Service Book of 1980 incorporated this form of the prayer, in 'modernised' English. (Around the turn of the millennium, the prayer finally disppeared from general Church of England Good Friday worship.)

I think I prefer Cranmer's version, with its OT and NT 'Remnant' theology.

So, in 1980 and the decades after, it was still non-outrageous for Anglicans to pray for the Conversion of the Jews.

Really diligent readers may remember a series of mine, a few years ago, which demonstrated that the Liturgia Horarum, published in 1972, contained prayer for the Conversion of the Jews on Easter Sunday Evening Prayer, repeated on the Sunday evenings of Easter 3 and Easter 5. As far as I know, it still does.

Even more readers may recall, because I snarl about this every few months, that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, meekly obeying the commands of the German bishops, attacked the Prayer for the Jews which had been composed less than a decade previously by Pope Benedict XVI himself, propria manu, for use in the Authentic Use  of the Roman Rite.

So why do some people make such a hysterical fuss and bother about the Old Roman Rite praying for the Conversion of the Jews, when such prayer

(1) is done in the legal form of worship prescribed by Act of Parliament for the Established Church (Common Worship being only an authorised optional alternative) ... and never a word said;

(2) is prescribed for all those who say the post-Vatican II Novus Ordo Divine Office of the Latin Church ... and never a word said.

I will tell you why. It is because there are unbalanced, hysterical folk who have an uncontrolled gut detestation of the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite. So they run around tearing their hair out and screaming on and on about the Traddies praying for the Conversion of Jews (as, indeed, they do and should do). 

Yet the Old Form affects only a tiny handful of worshippers on one day of the year which is not a Day of Obligation. While the "New" post-Conciliar forms of worship affect every cleric who uses them for the Divine Office.

So, while they rant, the angries simultaneously ignore the enormous plank in their own eyes.

Hypocrites. Raving Rabid Roaring Hypocrites.

They should be sent for counselling or locked up in a small dark windowless cell with Blaise Cupich.



10 April 2022

Fr Geoffrey Kirk

As well as for Confessors, Doctors, Non-Virgins, and all the rest, there ought to be a special liturgical category for Satirists. I do not feel that that there are many higher categories of ministry in the Church Militant here in Earth than that of the Satirist. Take the Apostate Bishop in C S Lewis's The Great Divorce. A fat clean-shaven man with a cultured voice. Why is he in Hell? 

"But don't you know? You went there because you are an apostate". 

It's all there in Lewis's description of the gentleman in gaiters; his Anglican assurance of status and of caste; the easy in-bred condescension; the complacent pride in his unbelief. "My opinions were certainly honest. They were not only honest but heroic. I asserted them fearlessly. When the doctrine of the Resurrection ceased to commend itself to the critical faculties which God had given me, I openly rejected it. I preached my famous sermon. I defied the whole chapter. I took every risk".

"What risk? what was at all likely to come of it except what actually came--popularity, sales for your books, invitations, and finally a bishopric?"

Lewis's prophetic description (1946) achieved uncannily precise fulfilment in some of the fashionable Anglican bishops of the next generation, and not least in the person of David Jenkins Bishop of Durham. In response to this verbose and self-assured phenomenon, Geoffrey Kirk was inspired to construct a beautiful parody of a popular Methodist hymn:

No one comes with clouds descending,/ None for favoured sinners slain./ Not a single saint attending/ In that non-existent train .... Yea, Amen! Let all ignore him,/ Neither praise nor denigrate,/ All this vain attention-seeking/ Is so cheap and second-rate./ Enfants terrible/ Are absurd at eighty eight.

Disaster can befall the satirist ... 'the real world' may attempt arrogantly to usurp his fantasy. This happened in 1999 to the Reverend April Heavisides, who in Geoffrey's chronicles was a canon of Southwark Cathedral (or, as Geoffrey's followers knew it in those Blairite days, 'Cool Britannia's House of Prayer'). But ... you may find this hard to believe ... 'Reality' invented a 'real' Reverend April ... and ... great heavens above!! ... made her an honorary Canon of ... that very self-same Cathedral ...

Kirk died on Good Friday (April 10) 2020. He was an unremitting exponent of the twaddle talked by hierarchs, Anglicans or Catholics, whose lode-star is not the Gospel but the Zeitgeist

May he rest in peace.

9 April 2022

All Times belong to Him: your Paschal Candle

In many parts of the West, people liked to show how the current year related to broad chronological markers and perspectives. So, each year, a piece of paper, called the charta, was fixed to the Paschal Candle; a custom which survived at Amiens until 1969.

The following, which I hope is accurate for Easter 2022, translates, simplifies, updates and adapts French examples of charta texts (some of which were very long). Do feel free to offer corrections!
Year since the Lord's Incarnation 2022
Year since the Lord's Passion 1989
Year since our Lady's Nativity 2036
Year since her Glorious Assumption 1972
Year since Summorum Pontificum 15
Year of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham 11

But, you cry, what about the Year of Creation? The Monarch? The President? The Pope? The Diocesan Bishop? The Suspense of the Function of the Ecclesia Docens? The Year of Covid? The Year of Cupich?

8 April 2022


 ... or ... a Palm Branch on Olive Sunday??

So what improvements has the Ordinariate Missal  made to the Novus Ordo rites for Palm Sunday? Well, the 'palms' are to be properly blessed and then distributed; and their solemn Blessing begins with a Sursum corda. Both of these are important gestures back to the pre-Pius XII, pre-Bugnini Roman Rite. But, in my view, the most important return to Tradition is that the formulae mention the Olive as well as the Palm. Let me explain the importance of this.

Palm, of course, is the ancient Mediterranean symbol of Victory: and our Lord's triumphant ride into Jerusalem is what we might call the pre-emptive procession of the Great Conqueror. Perhaps we should not think of Holy Week in too 'linear' a way. It is well known that S John's Gospel, read in the Western Rite on Good Friday, emphasises the Victory of the Cross (Victory doesn't have to wait for Easter morning). On Maundy Thursday, the Lord gives his disciples to eat and drink the Body and Blood which, in terms of a simplistic 'linear' approach, have not yet been broken, shed, or sacrificed. Yet he gives them to his disciples as already sacrificed. And Triumph is already integral to Palm Sunday. All the themes and elements of Pascha surface in all the rites of Holy Week; it is a thematic unity, even if poor mortals, bogged down by 'linear' time, have to take the components one at a time. The shopping bag you brought back from the supermarket contains all your groceries simultaneously, even if you take them out one at a time.

But Olive has, if anything, an even profounder ideology associated with it than does Palm. It suggests richness and fruitfulness enjoyed in peace. The Tridentine and Ordinariate rites allude to Noah, to whom the dove brought back an Olive twig, emblem of the end of God's wrath, emblem of the first covenantal peace between God and His people. How fitting to think of the Olive on this day when He who is the Covenant sets aside the Temple Sacrifices by 'cleansing' His Temple of the beasts awaiting immolation ... so that, antitype for type, He can set up the Eucharistic New Table of Sacrifice.

We meet Olive again at the Chrism Mass, and I would like to revive an edifying speculation of Dom Gregory Dix. Ancient Jewish tradition held that the tree of life standing in the midst of the garden of Eden was an Olive, from which came the oil of mercy that cured both pain and death. That is why patristic sources insistently associate the Chrism of Confirmation with immortality and resurrection. And the Medieval Cornish Mystery Plays make much headway, typologically, with the pun between elaion [oil; pronounced in later Antiquity as eleon] and eleos [mercy]

In some early writings, the tree from which this oil flows is the tree of the Cross. It seems to me that here the images of Scripture and Tradition merge and mingle. The Cross, the New Tree in the New Garden, is the true Tree of Life, and the Anointing (Chrisma), which makes and marks us as Christians unto everlasting life, flows from that tree. And it is the tree of which Venantius Fortunatus in his Pange lingua teaches us that it is itself soaked, anointed, through and through, with the blood of the lamb ( ... quem sacer cruor perunxit fusus agni corpore).

A preChristian Jewish writing pictures Adam begging to be given of the oil that flows from the tree in garden. He is given for anwer: 'It shall not be thine now, but at the end of the times. Then shall all flesh be raised up and God will give them of the tree of life'. 

Praise be to God, who, even here in the end-time, gives us in our Confirmation the privilege to be marked with the anointing unto everlasting life; and to eat the Food of Eternity.

"A Direct Frontal attack on Christian Tradition."

 A visit to the princeps bibliopolarum, Mr Christopher Zealley, M.A., down opposite the entrance to Christ Church Meadow. He has on sale a translation of the Breviary as translated into English during the brief period when clergy who had such faculties were allowed to say the old Office in an approved vernacular translation. The Collects are ... translated by Christine Mohrmann!

Also, another interesting curiosity, which was among my purchases. Readers will know that the beginning of the whole modern disastrous onslaught upon the Latin Rite was the authorisation by Pius XII of a new Latin translation of the Psalter, known as the Psalterium Pianum but popularly as the Bea Psalter. Mohrmann did (in French) a beautiful hatchet-job on it in Vigiliae 1947; reprinted in Volume III of her Etudes. But a year later she read a Dutch version of her paper to a society of Dutch graduates, which is a trifle less academic and noticeably more combattive (it was translated into English by an American Benedictine). 

It is very jolly to compare the two versions.

Just one little example.

In the published French version, she refers to one of the mistakes of the Bea Psalter as "peu heureuse". But in the Dutch paper, as translated by Abbot McCann and purchased by me, she described it as ...

(... come to think of it, one could apply this lapidary phrase to the entire process of liturgical mayhem perpetrated by Pius XII and S Paul VI from 1941 onwards ...)

"a direct, frontal attack on Christian tradition".

St Philip's Books is at 82 St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1RA (sales@stphilipsbooks.co.uk) 

00 44 1865 202182 

7 April 2022

Countercultural Illumination ... "a new and liberating truth"

 The Sixth of the Twelve Old Roman Vigil Lections which I am inviting you to consider (six before Easter; six in Easter Week) seems to me particularly important; and the Nineteen Fifties Anglican Catholic Note which I have reproduced today seems to me particularly inspired and massively relevant. 

The writer, who might or might not have been Canon Arthur Couratin, very prophetically observed that what he called "the Church of tomorrow" would have a problem: a gigantic gap would have opened up between the "standards" of the World and "the Christian way of looking at things". In the 1950s, they were still "in the fag end of a Christian society"; the Christian might well see her duty as striving, with the aid of Divine Grace, to live up to standards to which the wider society at least paid lip-service. But now, not only have the old Christian no-nos (No divorce ... no contraception ... no pre-marital sex ... ...) almost entirely disappeared from view, but a whole new set of precepts, inimical to Christian morality, have taken their place: inclusivity ... liceity of homosexual genital activity ... all the 'trans' nonsenses ... .... and, pray note, most of these Ten Dozen Commandments are not take-it-or-leave it; they are as compulsory as the land-blood-and-race nonsense was under Hitler.

In this context, the Christian is distinguished from the non-Christian by an enormous ethical chasm. 

And, in this context, the Christian is "illuminated" by possessing a Wisdom which the World does not know or (if it has heard of it) violently and angrily demands should be given up. This Wisdom of ours includes the mores which the three millennia of our culture have inculcated.

BTW: in the early fifties, this Reading from Baruch was ejected from the Vigil by Papa Pacelli, Pius XII, as part of his violent assault upon Tradition ... I presume, therefore, that the 1962 missal fails to include it. After the Council, Baruch was to a degree reprieved by being reincluded as an option. But I doubt if there are very many places where it can be heard. Its message is that of Quinquagesima: the Christian neophyte is to be one who can See as others cannot See; the man who possesses a Wisdom radically alien from that of the Zeitgeist and its blasphemous parody of Wisdom.

Canon Couratin? (6)

Lesson VI. Baruch praises Wisdom (Baruch 3:9-15&32-4:4) 

1. Baruch is addressing the Old Israel and is talking to them about the wisdom that is from above. The Old Israel possessed that wisdom in virtue of the divine revelation in the Law and the Prophets. And all the disasters that befell the Old Israel were due to their forsaking that wisdom and the God who was the fountain of that wisdom.

2. The Church reads Baruch in the Baptismal Vigil to remind the newly baptised, and all baptised Christians, that they possess a greater measure of the supernatual wisdom than was given to the members of the Old Israel. If ever as individuals or as a Church they forsake that wisdom and its author, the same fate will overtake them as overtook the Old Israel. They will grow old in a strange country, a place where they don't really belong; they will be defiled with the dead, the company of those who are not spiritually alive; they will be counted with them that go down into the grave, for they will themselves be spiritually dead.

3. Being brought up in the fag end of a Christian society, we think it strange that the Baptismal Gift should be thought of primarily as wisdom, and that the baptised should be thought of as the Illuminated. Grace seems to us to be primarily a gift of strength to live up to the standards that everyone accepts. But in the early Church, -- and it will be equally true in the Church of tomorrow -- the Christian way of looking at things was so different from that of this world that it appeared as a new and liberating truth and Christians were seen to be people illuminated with new wisdom.

S John Henry Newman in Hungary

 I have received a perfectly charming communication from Hungary, about a church dedicated to S John Henry Newman! I wonder if it is the first such church in the world?

Here you can see Mass in the Usus Authenticus being celebrated there:


Or is the g a q?

How JHN would have loved it!

6 April 2022

Canon Couratin? (5)

Lesson V. Isaiah describes Salvation. (Isaiah 54:5-14 & 55: 1-11) 

1. God in Christ is offering an everlasting covenant to man. Through him, as the true David, the true King of Israel, God is ready to give more abundant gifts to men than the human mind can conceive. In the Paschal Sacraments he is preparing to bestow upon men the very life of God himself.

2. God gives away this incomprehensible gift freely -- "without money and without price". He lavishes salvation upon men and demands nothing in return, nothing except repentance -- "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts" -- and faith "Ho everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters".

3. Note that the Christian in the early Church really longed for salvation in a way that we ought to long for it, but don't. The hart desiring the water brooks was a constant subject of painting and carving. The procession to the font in the traditional rite is still made to the Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum. Early Christians would inevitably understand Isaiah's allusions to God's bounty under the images of water and bread and wine and milk as being hidden allusions to the Christian rites through which salvation was conveyed, -- the water of Baptism, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, and the cup of milk and honey that was given to the new Christian as a token that he had entered the Promised Land.

5 April 2022

Canon Couratin? (4)

Lesson IV. Moses and the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:24-31 & 15:1)

1. Israel, the seed of Abraham, was pursued by the wicked Pharaoh, and only escaped by plunging into the Red Sea. God delivered him supernaturally from drowning, and carried him safely over into the Promised Land, while at the same time overthrowing the hosts of the Egyptians.

2. Christ, the true seed of Abraham, is persecuted by the devil and his angels, and by their human agents, the wicked Jews, and only escapes by plunging into the waters of death. God delivers him supernaturally from death by raising him up on the third day, and carries him safely over into the heavenly places, while at the same time breaking the power of the evil one.

3. The Christian, who becomes a true son of Abrahan by sharing in Abraham's faith in God, is persecuted by the powers of evil, and by his own past sins and his present sinful habits, and only escapes by plunging into the waters of Baptism and there dying with Christ. God delivers him supernaturally by raising him up in Christ, and makes him sit already in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, while at the same time withdrawing him from the reach of Satan.

Greedy Personal Appeal

Readers will recall my writing in previous years about the 


which, each July, takes place on the shores of Lake Garda ... near where Reginald Cardinal Pole, Queen Mary's Archbishop of Canterbury, once lurked in safety from the hired assassins of Henry VIII.

The Worship at the Conference is totally traditional, lectures are given, discussion takes place. Traditional scholars from all parts of the world take part. ... fellowsip ... music ... wine ...

For some years, I have been privileged to be invited to be ... in the American phrase ... "one of the Faculty". I would very much like to do the same this year.

Because of the pandemic interruptions of the last couple of years, Professor Rao is cautiously building up this year's Faculty as the necessary finance is promised to him.

Each lecturer costs the Conference $2,900.

If any reader feels he/she would like to do me a good turn, and has the money to do so, I would be grateful if he/she could inform Dr Rao how much they are prepared to sponsor me for. I will, of course, show my gratitude by saying Masses for my benefactors.


4 April 2022

Canon Couratin? (3)

 Lesson III. Abraham and Isaac. (Genesis 22:1-19)

1. God founded the Church in Abraham. He founded it upon Abraham's faith. He promised on two occasions to bring life from the dead, and demanded that Abraham should believe in his power to do so. He promised that Sarah should have a child when she was past age and Abraham himself as good as dead. Abraham believed that God was able to perform this miracle, and in due course Isaac as born. Again God promised that Abraham's posterity should be as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and at the same time demanded the sacrifice of his only son. Abraham believed in God's power to effect this, and proceeded to offer up Isaac in Sacrifice, receiving him back from death in a figure.

2. The same faith that God demanded of Abraham is demanded of a Christian, faith in God's power to bring life from the dead. The Christian at his baptism makes the act of faith in Christ natum et passum, conceived supernaturally of a virgin by the Holy Ghost, and raised from death supernaturally on the third day.

3. Christ is the true seed of Abraham; by faith men become members of Christ, and therefore sons of Abraham and members of the true Israel. God's promise to Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed is fulfilled in the continual increase of the church.

3 April 2022

Dr Kwasniewski

 Peter Kwasniewski has produced a pocket-sized book which I regard as both important and well-conceived. True Obedience in the Church A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times. 

As we say in this country, it is precisely what it says on the label.

Catholics naturally desire to act in obedience to the Catholic Church. So when the levers of power in the Church seem to fall into the hands of operators who appear determined to undermine what, as far as we can judge, are the fundamental structures of our Faith, well, we end up with something of a problem!

I commend this extremely helpful contribution.

Sophia Institute Press Manchester New Hampshire.

Canon Couratin? (2)

Lesson II. The Flood (Genesis 5,6,7,8.)

1. In the beginning darkness was upon the face of the deep. The primaeval waters stand for darkness and for nothingness. But once the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, then there was light, and the act of creation was begun. Water, the symbol of destruction, is transformed into the symbol of fruitfulness and life.

2. After the fall of man and the corruption of the human race, God saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth and it repented the Lord that he had created man on the earth: and the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created."And he let loose once more the destructiveness of the primaeval deep, which in the beginning he had transformed into the lifegiving waters of creation by the power of the Spirit of God. But the same waters, which destroy the wicked by drowning, save righteous Noah and his posterity, by causing the Ark to ride high above the destruction of the world.

3. So in the redemption God lets loose again the destructive waters upon the human race in the Sacrament of Baptism, whereby the sins of men are washed away and the old man is utterly destroyed. But because the Spirit of God has moved upon the Baptismal waters, they are also the life-giving means by which we are new-created unto God. 

2 April 2022

Canon Couratin? (1)

 At S Stephen's House, in the Sixties, those who attended the Holy Week Retreat were given a series of succinct typewritten Notes on the Twelve Readings of the Traditional Easter Vigil. Since the Pacelli era was to include a lamentable onslaught upon that series of lections, I presume that the Notes preceded the sixties: therefore, that they are more likely to have been drafted by the legendary Canon Arthur Couratin (Principal 1936-1962) than by his successor, poor Derek. But I may be wrong in this assumption: if anybody has knowledge of the genesis of these pieces, I would be grateful to be enabled to share it.

These Notes seem to me redolent of all that was best in our Anglican Catholic spirituality; they are profoundly biblical and patristic; simple, direct, and unpompous. There are a few infelicities in the drafting, reminiscent of the days of typewriters, when one could not just hop back a few places by the touch of a finger and tidy things up. But I have 'improved' or 'corrected' nothing.

I propose to reproduce them on the blog: the first six before Easter, and the other half-dozen after the Pasch. So here I go with the first of the twelve.

[Incidentally, the corresponding Service in the Byzantine Rite has fifteen lessons; of these, six (=Roman I, III, IV, IX, X, XII) correspond loosely to our readings.]

Lesson 1. The Creation (Genesis 1:1-2:2)

1. In the beginning God created all things through his word and by his spirit. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made." "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and God said: 'Let there be light', and there was light." And God created man after the pattern of the Word, 'Who is the image of the invisible God, the first begotten before all creation." He "formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the spirit of life, and man became a living soul."

2. So also in the last days God redeems all mankind through his Word and by his Spirit. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore that holy thing which shall be 'created' shall be called the Son of God." "That which was created in him was life, and the life was the light of men", because it was "the brightness of God's glory and the express image of his person". And when his time was come, Christ "throgh the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God". 

3. And in the last days God sanctifies the elect people of God by recreating them through his Word and by his Spirit. They ae washed and sanctified and justified in the name of our Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. They are born again of Water and the Spirit, and if any man is in Christ he is a new creation, part of the new creation of God, who is saying"Behold I make all things new."


1 April 2022


I am immensely grateful to those of you who have troubled to respond to my plea; both on account of your erudition and of your wit. I am aware of the good fortune I enjoy in having such a readership!

There is, of course, the school-boy howler at the end. The output of that Dicastery ... I am not exaggerating ... more often has such a Howler than not! It is yet another example of the malaise at the heart of Bergoglianity, that the Worship of the Latin Churches should be so helplessly at the mercy of a poor thing like Roche and his associated illiterates.

But I also share the views of those of you who dislike victimis

When one is inducting students into the art of Latin Prose Compo, the first thing one has to cure them of is the assumption that they can take the English words one by one and look them up in an English-into-Latin Dictionary. They need to know that you have to put the sense of the English into an innate idiom of Latin. Thus, Meissner/Auden, via its index, tells you that if you need to render some such English phrase as victims of calamity, you will probably need a construction like calamitatibus affligi, 'to be afflicted by calamities'. 

The usage in modern languages of 'victims of' to mean 'those gravely disadvantaged by' would, I think, have puzzled readers even a couple of generations ago. Sister Doctor Ellebracht's learned Remarks (1963) know nothing of the idiom.

FINALLY ... using the word impiorum to mean Russian reaches new depths. Does anybody have contact with Metropolitan Hilarion? I think he should know about this detail so that, the next time PF goes angling for an invitation to Moscow, such a very striking lexical refinement can be taken into account in framing the reply! 


The CDW ... oops ... the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Innovative Latinity ... have issued the following optional addition to the Solemn Prayers for Good Friday. The addition, of course relates only to what PF has delightfully termed The Unicus Usus of the Roman Rite.

At least, I hope it does!


Deus pacis et misericordiae, qui humilium pauperumque misereris et oppressores eorum deprimis, praesta quaesumus, omnibus victimis violentiae belli salutem; ut, a te corde mutato impiorum, tuam praevaleat pacem.


God of peace and mercy, who take pity on the poor and lowly and put down their oppressors, grant, we pray, deliverance to all victims of war and violence, that as you change the heart of the aggressor, so your peace will prevail. 

The old English Diocesan Calendars

Before the 1960s, each English Catholic Diocese had its own Calendar of local celebrations. These were all granted by that indefatigable organisation, the Sacred Congregation of Rites. All through World War Two those diligent functionaries kept hard at work; I wonder how, in, say, 1943, Cardinal Salotti managed to smuggle his Decretum Approbationis ( ... hodiernus episcopus Hogglestockiensis Sanctissimo Domino Nostro Pio XII Proprium dioecesanum rite concinnatum pro debita approbatione humillime subiecit. Sacra porro Rituum Congregatio, utendo facultatibus sibi specialiter ab ipso Sanctissimo Domino Nostro tributis ...) through War-stricken Europe to the Western English County of Barsetshire. Was there some arrangement with neutral Portugal? Do the Enigma machines come into the story?

Miraculously, the Decrees, and their accompanying Officia Propria, somehow managed to arrive safely, undamaged by doodlebugs and without a single typo or grammatical error! Why is it that the very definitely Unsacred and minimally sacral Congregation for Divine Worship, current proprietor Arthur Roche, despite ... as far as Italy is concerned ... working in peace time, is now so incapable of achieving this simple result? (Readers probably saw Fr Zed's withering post last December on Our Lady of Loreto and her new grossly ungrammatical Collect.) Does Uncle Arthur disagree in principle with employing competent latinists? Or was he personally humiliated when he was a tiny boy by a Classics Master? Or is the corrupt Latin that emerges nowadays from that dicastery designed specifically as a Bergoglian plot to subvert the Christian Tradition? Like saying "So you like Latin? Let me show you what garbage I can turn it into ..."

I have been totally unable to secure a complete copy of the old Hogglestock Diocesan Propers. When I sought permission to look in the diocesan archives, the Bishop asked why and, when I explained, promptly denied that he had any archives. All I know ... information via Mgr Ronald Knox, Protonotary Apostolic ... is that it contained a 'local' Saint, S Ewold of Barchester, Episcopi et Confessoris, with the rank of a Double, on June 31; and that this late Saxon Saint had squashed down to the rank of a mere commemoration the much older 'Gregorian' observance of Ss Promiscuus and Miscellaneus in the liturgical books of S Pius V. 

Incidentally,what a nuisance it has been to a couple of millennia of rubricists that the Holy Roman Church produced such an unnecessary and excessive abundance of martyrs. Thank goodness the Punic radix et ramus ... always the Elephant in the Room! ... Hannibal abolished most of them.

Can anybody provide any additional information?