31 May 2022

The ORDINARIATE and Malines, Mercier, and Mary

Our Lady, as Mediatrix of all Graces, used to have a big shop window in the Supplementum pro aliquibus locis; she possessed a festival granted for May 31 under Pius XI in 1921. It was granted largely at the instance of one of the great Prelates of the twentieth century, Desire-Joseph Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines 1906-1926.

Mercier, like Ratzinger, was one of those rare and admirable Catholic Prelates who were much attracted by the essential orthodoxy of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England and realised its enormous value to the Catholic Church, its true home. That is why, although he was a hammer of the Modernists (appointed, indeed, to Malines by S Pius X), Mercier was, with no inconsistency, the leading spirit in the Malines Conversations, in which Catholic and Anglo-Catholic theologians came to substantial agreements and espoused the idea of 'Corporate Reunion' expressed in the phrase "The Church of England United Not Absorbed". 'Malines' is, in fact, part of the pre-history of our  Ordinariate, and Cardinal Mercier one of its godfathers.

Pius XII is rumoured to have disliked our Lady's title Mediatrix of all Graces. That may be why he effectively sabotaged the feast in 1955 by submerging it beneath his own new festival of our Lady, Queen, on May 31. Nowadays, the fashion for treating Marian festivals as part of a game of Musical Chairs has required the Visitation being moved to May 31, except for adherents of the 1962 Missal who, today, celebrate Maria Regina, a more appropriate date for whom would be the old Octave Day of the Assumption, and ... Oh dear; is all this really respectful towards our blessed Lady?

The Mass and Office of our Lady, Mediatrix of all Graces, authorised before 'the Council' for many places (including Belgium; much of the North of England; and Wales where, back in the age of Octave Days, it was transferred to June 1) contained good things. Here is part of the fourth Reading at Mattins, from S Ephraim the Deacon. I have written before about the Latin and Byzantine testimonies to this doctrine; I hereby now, in honour of today's Marian Celebration, cheerfully mix in the Syrian, Semitic tradition.

My mistress, most holy Mother of God and Full of Grace, inexhaustible ocean of divine and secret bounties and gifts, the beseeching of all good things, Mistress of all after the Trinity, another consoler after the Paraclete, and, after the Mediator, Mediatrix of all the world ... thou hast filled creation with every kind of benefit, to the dwellers in heaven thou hast brought joy, thou hast brought salvation to earthly things. By thee we hold the most certain proof of our resurrection; by thee we believe that we shall obtain the kingdom of heaven; through thee all glory, honour and holiness, from the first Adam and unto the very end of the world, has flowed, is flowing, and will flow, to the Apostles, the Prophets, to those of righteous and humble heart; and in thee rejoices, O Full of Grace, the whole creation.

Supplex Omnipotentia, ora pro nobis.

30 May 2022

New Cardinals !!!

 At last, the hunger of the waiting multitudes will be assuaged! A Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals is promised!

How your hearts have been warmed by that news!

I bet Uncle Arthur's career will really now start motoring!

I wonder if, this time, PF will allow the Empurpled Fathers to get to know each other by actually conversing ... at least ... please, Holy Father ... in sign language. So far, he has talked a lot about Parrhesia, but what that seems to mean is "If you agree with me, say so much more loudly". The previous facility given to Cardinals at Consistories, to exchange views with each other in a synodical sort of way, has been prevented in the more recent Consistories. Loss of complete control, doncha know, is dangerous. Viva Peron! Even viva Eva!

Of course, a safe and simple dodge would be to make the imminent consistory Virtual for 'health reasons'. Then they wouldn't even be able to give each other a subversive nudge.

Personally, I think that the Sacred College has significantly lost functionality. I've forgotten how many they are currently and how many of those will be qualified to enter a Conclave (128?), but it stands to reason that the group dynamics cannot be the way they were when the numbers in the College stood at around twenty. When everybody knew the colour of everybody else's snuff.

I find it gets a bit boring that so many chappies are "Your Eminence". Surely there could be some alternative formulae of honorific address. 

How about "Your Abysmal Sublimity"?

I rather think that when C S Lewis coined that phrase he very prophetically had Cupich in mind.

29 May 2022


 The Stowe Missal, so called because it was once in the ducal library at Stowe, is insufficiently esteemed among those with an interest in Roman Liturgy.

It is of profound interest because it is a unique manuscript witness to some features in the Roman Rite before S Gregory the Great made changes in it. Although the ms dates from the last decade of the eighth century, it was clearly copied from an exemplar of before the 590s. The main deviation from the 'Gregorian Rite' is that the Fraction is in the 'Ambrosian' position, before the Lord's Prayer. And S Andrew, something of a patron for Pope Gregory, has not yet entered the Stowe Libera nos.

The Rite begins with a Litany. When I wrote a paper for the Proceedings  of the Royal Irish Acaemy, some two decades ago (Kerry and Stowe Revisited), I was puzzled by this initial Litany. It is not required by the need for an Intercession; the Stowe Intercession comes between the the Epistle and the Gospel (and, of course, there are the Nomina and the intercessory paragraphs in the Canon Romanus). Its quality is penitential.

Now, having thought my way this week through the concept of lustratio and the Rogation processions, I now have ... at least! ... a hypothesis.

The monastic and ecclesiastical sites which so proliferate in Ireland's most beautiful county, Kerry ('the Kingdom of the West' memorialised in a poem by Sir John Betjeman), normally have a wall or other geographical feature defining the extent of the claustrum

Just like such processions as those in England and elsewhere at Rogation-tide, I believe that these defining features delimit and set apart the Sacred from the Profane; 'our' territory as against that of outsiders. Just like the Rogation Processions, the religious enclosures in Kerry were, I surmise, seen as calling for ritual and periodic reassertion on the part of their community.

G G Willis (1968), in his account of the rites of Consecrating churches in Latin Christendom, makes a number of references to the use of litanies. Stowe, or its archetype, may originally have been compiled for the sacring of a new religious establishment: its Hanc igitur makes especial mention of the person who has donated the site.

28 May 2022

The Blood Royal of England ... how blessed we are!

 What a glorious time of rejoicing this is, when loyal Englishmen can enjoy celebrating a Sainted Lady of truly ancient and splendid lineage, and great personal sanctity!

And One who was the mother of the Most Eminent Father in God the last Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury! I refer, of course, to Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, last of the House of Plantagenet, martyred under Henry VIII in 1541. When news of her glorious martyrdom reached Reginald Pole, he rejoiced that he was now the Son of a Martyr.

Today, in dioceses including Clifton and Portsmouth, is her Feast Day.

She was the daughter and heiress of George, Duke of Clarence, Brother of Edward IV. The usurping Welsh house of Tudor naturally regarded her with envious hatred.

And not unnaturally. When the people of Cornwall and Devon rose in rebellion against the imposition of heresy in 1549, they issued Articles ... political demands ... which grew more and more ... definite ... as the months went by. In the Third such set of Articles, they demanded that "because the lord Cardinal Pole is of the Kynges bloode, should not only have hys pardon, but also sent for to Rome and promoted to be of the kinges counsayl."

But, in the Fourth set of Articles, there was more precision. " ... hys free pardon ... to be first or second of the kinges counsayl".

How that gang of heretics, crooks, and murderers round the Council Table must have trembled ...

Beata Margareta, ora pro nobis!!

25 May 2022

Marx and Sparx

... or, as they like nowadays to be known, Emmandess, are a well-known English Departmental Store, founded in the Dawn of History by Mr Marks and Mr Spencer. If you visit their Oxford outlet in Queen Street, you might find ... I can't remember whether it's in Ladies' Fashions or Food ... a large stone rather shamefacedly displayed behind glass. It is one of the Boundary Stones of one of the Oxford parishes ... might it have been the parish of the now-demolished City Corporation Church at Carfax (Sancti Martini in Quadrifurcu)? 

The Rogation processions survived in some places the attempts of the 'Reformers' to abolish them. An important surviving element was their role in sustaining memory of the parish boundaries; at each stone, the procession stopped and a boy (boys?) was flogged. And a boy (boys?) was inverted and had his head bashed against the stone (these were pre-feminist days). It appears to have been thought that, if the lad (lads?) survived these educational procedures, he would be less likely to forget the exact positions of the Bounds. 

The Medieval Latin Christian Rogation Processions which I have been describing performed important diachronic purposes, bringing the community of 'today' into focussed identity with that of yesteryear. The banners carried will have included those celebrating the Patron Saints of the guilds: 'trade' guilds ... 'The Wives' Guild'; the Girls; the Young Men ... the innumerable associations which made distinctions and combinations in a Catholic society. Each guild had its own Wardens under the Parish's High Wardens (after the 'Reformation', when all the guilds had been destroyed, the High Wardens needed only to be termed 'The Wardens' or 'The Church Wardens'). And each guild had its own Patron Saints.

In the Rogation Procession, the 'Chest' of the parish's relics was carried and the Litanies of the Saints chanted. Thus synchronic communio with the heavenly patrons was expressed; and thus the Saints were kept in mind as vivid participants in the communal celebration.

Essentially, these Rogation celebrations were what we now classify as 'sacramentals'. They functioned to bring together Heaven and Earth; united the Universal with the topical; combined the different classes in the community; sanctified both the rural and the urban environments. 

They were a fine example of Inculturation. Indeed, it is a sobering thought that the concept of Inculturation had clumsily to be invented by academics once the actual, living, instances of it had been persecuted out of existence; and it is not surprising that the natural human instinct for the sacrality of the Earth has had to be reinvented by post-Christian intellectuals ... in awkward and unnatural ways ... once the reality of it has faded from memory.

The old Roman Lustral rites involved the use of a bronze ploughshare. 

Which takes this cultic tradition back at least to the time before the novelty of Iron had transformed human culture.

Three millennia!

24 May 2022

Fidei Christianae Confessor

May our blessed Lady the Great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, Help of Christians, our Lady of Sheshan [Shanghai], pray for us all.

Cardinal Bo has renewed his call for prayer this day for Christians in Hong Kong, and especially now for Joseph Cardinal Zen. 

In Christian Greek, martys, 'witness', means one who bears witness to Christ even unto death. The Latin confessor seems originally to have had the same meaning; the sense shifted so that it now refers to a Christian who was prepared to die for his or her witness, but has not been called upon to do so.


23 May 2022

My 'Rogations' problem

 This week's Rogation processions ... the recorded facts appear to be that they were invented by S Mamertus Bishop (primate) of Vienne (near the confluence of the Gere and the Rhone) in 470; extended to all Gaul in 511, but not introduced to Rome until the time of S Leo III (795-816).

My problem?

In 747, before the pontificate of S Leo III, the English Council of Cloveshoe ordered, in its Canon 16, the observance of the Greater Rogation on April 25; and of the Lesser Rogations on these three days before the Ascension. The Greater Rogation it calls "iuxta ritum Romanae Ecclesiae"; the Lesser Rogations"secundum morem priorem nostrorum".

So far, so good. Or is it? 

The same Canon informs us that at that moment the April 25 Rogation "laetania maior apud eam [sc Romanam Ecclesiam] vocatur".  

But why should the Roman Church call April 25 the Great Rogation unless there were Lesser Rogations from which it needed to be distinguished?

I am not convinced that, in 747, the Lesser Rogations had no place in Rome. Indeed, there is evidence that, even in Vienne, before the time of S Mamertus, there had been rogations for fine weather ... but only vagae, tepentes, infrequentes ... oscitabundae supplicationes, and that it was the Saint who made them a more serious (i.e. clericalised) business of Fasting, Prayer, Psalmody, and Tears. 

Back to that English Council of 747. It orders that the pre-Ascension Rogations should be observed "non admixtis vanitatibus, ut mos est plurimis, vel negligentibus vel imperitis, id est in ludis et equorum cursibus et epulis maioribus; sed magis cum timore". The Cross  and the Relics of the Saints are to be carried in the processions; the people are to kneel and humbly beg forgiveness for their sins.

My conclusion: I believe that a probably raucous, popular series of three processions (like the Lustrum which I described yesterday) used to happen all over the Latin World; originally pagan and designed to seek divine favour in the form of the sort of weather the crops needed. By this time, they had become unhitched from pagan cult ... but not from its comcomitant festive excesses. Hypothesising further, I wonder if the April 25 Rogation was originally a papal initiative designed to put in place a more 'proper' way of seeking divine favour ... but that the old paganish Rogations nevertheless survived (in Rome and throughout the West) until a 'Reform movement' starting with S Mamertus, taking in Cloveshoe, and ending with Pope Leo III (Charlemagne's pope), 'sorted them out'. [Rather as that spoilsport Cardinal Cullen, twelve hundred years later, 'sorted out' the old Irish pattern celebrations.]

My feeling is that the Rogations pretty certainly take us back into the intriguing world of popular Latin religion centuries before the advent of Christianity; to a time when human beings lived much closer to the Earth and its rhythms without needing to invent Gaia or Our Common Home or Pachamama, or to repackage themselves as neoDruids or Wicca rediviva

The loss of these ancient, inculturated rites, in the form that Christianity reshaped them and handed them on, is just yet another of the impoverishments left behind by those who grabbed the executive reins after the end of the Council ... in the period which poor ignorant arthur roche has explained to us was the Great Enrichment.

22 May 2022


 It is a sound Catholic instinct to take seriously the formal doctrinal teaching of the Roman Pontiff, even when that teaching is not given ex cathedra and, accordingly, is not guaranteed to be infallible. I have been hauling Mansi up onto my computer screen so as to reread the formal letter whereby our former Holy Father confirmed the Council. It is good stuff: felicitously written with a great many happy turns of speech. His Holiness (or his Man of Letters) was one wotsit of a Latin stylist!

I am intrigued by the paragraph in which he (I am, of course, writing about Pope S Leo II) confirmed the Conciliar Anathema decreed by the Council (Constantinople III is, naturally, the Council about which I am writing) against the First Heretic Pope, Honorius I. In its Latin text, it explains the condemnation as being decreed because hanc apostolicam ecclesiam non apostolicae traditionis doctrina lustravit, sed profana proditione immaculatam fidem subvertere conatus est. [he did not sanctify this apostolic Church (Rome) with the teaching of apostolic Tradition, but by profane betrayal tried to subvert her spotless Faith.]

{Mansi reads 'persana', a mistake, surely, for 'profana' via a ms 'p'fana'. He gives a variant in the margin 'immaculatam maculari permisit', which, in accordance with the principle difficilior lectio potior, looks to me like an attempt slightly to soften the condemnation.}

The word lustravit intrigues me. It echoes the cultic terminology of pre-Christian Rome; the conventions and terminology of which remained in the consciousness of the Roman curia and the aristocratic Intelligentsia for long after the pagan ritual expression had disappeared. 

W Warde Fowler, Fellow of Lincoln College, described Lustratio thus: "to go round in procession, driving away or keeping out evil from farm, city, or army ..." In his lecture (Edinburgh, 1911) The Religious Experience of the Roman People he went into more detail: "to make a margin of separation between the sacred and the profane, within which the sacred processes of domestic life and husbandry might go forward, undisturbed by dangers--human, spiritual, or what not--coming from the profane world without. The boundary was marked out in some material way ... This boundary line was made sacred itself by the passage round it (lustratio) at some fixed time of the year, usually in May, when crops were ripening and especially liable to be attacked by hostile influences, of a procession occupied with sacrifice and prayer. The two main features of the rite, as formulated by Cato ... are--1, the procession of the victim, ox, sheep, and pig (suovetaurilia), the farmer's most valuable property; 2, the prayer to Mars pater, after libations to Janus and Jupiter, asking for his kindly protection of the whole familia of the farm, together with the crops of all kinds and the cattle within the boundary-line ... the farmer's object is ward off disease, calamity, dearth and infertility ... it is of a rite of this kind that Virgil must have been thinking when he wrote the beautiful pasage in the first Georgic ... terque novas circum felix eat hostia fruges, / omnis quam chorus et socii comitentur ovantes., etc.[ G I 345-6], ... as it was necessary to protect the homestead and its land by a sacred boundary, so the city had to be clearly marked off from all that was outside it."

Readers belonging to the Latin Rite will have made a jolly association here with the Litany processions which go round the boundaries of communities at this time of the year: last month on S Mark's Day and, on the first three ferias of this week, on the days before the Feast of the Ascension. They will even have noticed that, for Vergil, so for us, the event is a threefold one! It all makes you think, doesn't it! But more on this later in the week. For the moment, my point, of course, is to throw light on the Holy Father's sophisticated and forceful rhetorical use of this cultic framework distinguishing between the sacred within the boundary and the profane outside it. Honorius, the First Heretic Pope, whose duty it was to lustrare, to maintain the boundaries, to secure the wholesome unspotted life of the community within from the profane without, had scandalously and grossly neglected his sacred, cultic, obligations by promoting Heresy.

Incidentally, the Greek version of His Holiness's Letter does not attempt to put hellenophone readers straight on the mysteries of Italian pagan cultus. Instead, he uses the Greek concept of Pollution, miasma, which is remedied by the process of hagnisai. (For example, at HF 1324, Hercules' bloodied hands need to be cleansed (hagnisai) from miasma.) And that verb hagnisai appears very frequently in the LXX. You might enjoy Numbers Chapter 19.

Whether considered from the point of view of the Roman, Greek, or Hebrew religious tradition, the First Heretic Pope does not come out of things terribly well! 


Three times!

21 May 2022

Extinguishing the Paschal Candle

 There is a particular problem here for church building where the Usus Authenticus and the Usus Deterior of the Roman Rite are both in frequent use. It is distracting and unseemly to have the Candle standing in the Sanctuary ... and unlit.

Historically, there have been many different local usages with regard to the removal of the Candle. During the Gospel of the Ascension; after the Gospel on Ascension Day; after Mass, or after None, or after Compline, or at the eleventh hour on Ascension Day; the Friday after Ascension Day; the Wednesday after Ascension Day. But, in some places, we find: the Vigil of Pentecost; 'at Pentecost'; at Compline of Pentecost; or (at Worcester) on Trinity Sunday! Bishop Grandisson's rules at Exeter are not consistent: but in one rule the Candle remains until Pentecost. 

And the Usus Authenticus itself has an ambiguity. If one celebrates the Vigil of Pentecost, one is supposed to bring the Candle back into use for that liturgical event.

Messy? A bit, surely. 

Many will disagree with me; but I rather feel that the neatest solution in churches frequented by followers of both Uses would be to keep the Candle in use either until the Compline of Pentecost, or (so as to draw laudable attention to the Octave of Pentecost) until after None on the Saturday before Trinity Sunday. 

20 May 2022

Dom Gueranger ... exultant!! (2) Three Cheers for that Flaminian Gate!!!

 Pope Pius VII began his Pontificate in 1800 at Venice, where the Conclave met after the death in captivity of Pope Pius VI (they crowned their new pope with a papier mache tiara ... it would, surely, show both style and wit if that piece of gear were yanked out of the Papal Treasury and used at the next "Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry"). Pius VII tried to coexist with the Enlightened Corsican; but in 1809 he was arrested and imprisoned. As Gueranger puts it with Gallic melodrama, he was "dragged [away], during the night, by the soldiers of an ambitious tyrant". 

Regular and sympathetic readers of this blog will be intrigued by the word I have marked in red in my next quotation from Gueranger: "He had been a captive for five years, during which the spiritual government of the Christian world had suffered a total suspension." Ahaa! (arcta custodia ... viis omnibus penitus interclusis, ne Dei Ecclesiam regere posset ...)

Towards the end of 1813, Napoleon had agreed to the return of the Pope to Rome. Pius VII took his time; indeed, he turned the event into a triumphant progress, moving in short stages to receive the plaudits of armies and potentates. 

Did I write "triumphant"?

Indeed: "As the triumphal chariot, on which he had been placed, came near the Flaminian Gate, the horses were unyoked, and the Pontiff was conveyed by the people to the Vatican Basilica, where a solemn thanksgiving was made, over the Tomb of the Prince of the Apostles." How the Grilli of that time must have enjoyed fixing all the tiniest liturgical details! I wonder if they made this triumphator paint his face red!

So Papa Chiaramonti goes down in History ... I like to think ... as the last person to enter the Eternal City as a Triumphator. "Io Io Triumphe!!!" This happened on 24 May 1814.

To celebrate it, and to mark such a happy day, the Feast of our Lady Help of Christians was instituted. Gueranger is a little irritated to have to admit that the Feast is not of universal observance; it is in aliquibus locis. But I guarantee you that his pages covering May 24 are among the most gloriously triumphant and triumphalist in all the sheets that ever the learned Benedictine penned.

(In the old Calendar for England [granted when?], the Feast appears as a duplex maius. In the differentiated Calendars for each individual diocese which came later [when?], only Shrewsbury and Menevia retained it.

The Office Hymns, in the Sapphic metre, reveal that the SRE Hymnographi [who?] did not resist the temptation afforded by the adonius Urbis et Orbis; and, like the Augustan poets of ancient Rome, were not averse to making pius square up against scelestus. 

I wonder exactly what French term Gueranger used for Suspension.)

19 May 2022

Dom Gueranger ... puzzled ... (1)

 "The Holy Ghost, who guides the spirit of the Church, has gradually led the Faithful to devote to honouring Mary, in an especial manner, the entire month of May, the whole of which comes, almost every year, under the glad season of Easter."

Sic Gueranger. But it evidently puzzles him that May and June "pass without any special solemnity in honour of the Mother of God. It would seem as though Holy Church wished to honour, by a respectful silence, the forty days during which Mary enjoyed the company of her Jesus, after his Resurrection. ... During these forty days, Jesus frequently visits his Disciples, weak men and sinners as they are: can he, then, keep away from his Mother, now that he is so soon to ascend into heaven, and leave her for several long years here on earth? Our hearts forbid us to entertain the thought. We feel sure that he frequently visits her ..."

I just love the felicitous way in which Gueranger lays bare the inner designs of Providence, especially when they seem so counter-intuitive ...

But, hey, here come the cavalry of the Sacred Dicastery of Rites galloping over the hill to the rescue! A splendiferous Feast of the Mother of God is now provided  ... on 24 May!!

To be concluded.

18 May 2022


Not long ago, I suggested that the indult by which the Authentic Roman Mass could be continued in England after 1970 should really be called (because of the distinguished and ecumenical signatories of the petition seeking it) "The Anglican Bishops' Indult"; or "The Greatsmen's Indult". This, by the way, is the Indult which the roche dicastery claims to know nothing about.

There is now a little more information available in print which, I think, was not previously very widely known. I refer to Unwanted Priest, by Fr Bryan Houghton, Angelico Press.

In 1977, a traddy group wished to make a pilgrimage to a shrine (which I suspect might have been Walsingham). They asked the Diocesan Bishop for permission, under the Indult, to use the Usus Authenticus. He refused, on the grounds that this would be ... I leave it to readers to guess his Lordship's exact word. It begins with a d; is eight letters long; has i three times; and v twice.

You will not find more than a single s. Phonetically, you can disregard the e.

I suggest that you read the full story in Houghton. In maintaining his refusal, the Bishop wrote: "As to the indult, it has become highly ambiguous, and many doubt whether it should ever have been obtained. Be that as it may, the Conference has decided to phase it out--and it falls to each bishop to implement this decision as he sees pastorally right."

Fr Bryan was an ex-Anglican, and so, of course, he peremptorily demanded precise information about when and where this 'momentous decision' was officially published, and also the exact wording. This is the sort of thing which makes us ex-Anglicans so widely loved.

Father concludes his narrative thus: 

"I learned from Rome in mid-April 1977 that my bishop had not been perfectly honest with me. In September 1976 it was the Vatican authorities who deemed it possible to require of the English hierarchy that they themselves should ask for the withdrawal of the indult. To the perpetual honour of the English hierarchy, this was refused. But some compromisers, among them my bishop, suggested that the indult be phased out. How devious can one be?" 

The emphasis in the above quotation is my own. 

17 May 2022

S Petroc

The great Patron of Cornubia seu potius Dumnonia, Cornwall, Britannia Maior: S Petroc the Abbot: is listed on the Ordinariate Calendar for May 23. I find this is a trifle odd. In Catholic Cornwall and Devon, he was listed on 4 June (at Tavistock Abbey, Launceston, and St Michael's Mount). The Exeter Martyrology has the same date; and so does the Sarum Breviary of 1531. Not to mention a couple of North French liturgical books.

And, following the erudite Canon Doble, the Anglicans keep him on that day.

There are three English Calendars which do observe the Patron of Cornwall on May 23; one is from Croyland and another is the Bosworth psalter. But ...

Why should the Ordinariate want to go off on this limb? 

The Roman Martyrology gives S Petroc his pretty universal date of June 4. I don't see any pressing reason to ignore this ruling.

Tell you what I'll do: In the Ordinariate, S Petroc is optional on May 23, so I'll lawfully miss him out on that day. But, in accordance with overwhelming precedent and the 'new' CDF rules and permissions of 2020, I'll observe him on June 4. 

He was also observed, in some places, on Holy Cross Day; with his 'Translatio' [to Bodmin; to get his relics away from coastal raiders] on October 1. His Collect: Gloriosi famuli tui Petroci, Domine, precibus pacem tuam nostris concede temporibus: et Ecclesiae tuae hanc largire misericordiam; ut nullus tuis privetur beneficiis qui huius Confessoris expetit opitulari suffragiis."

16 May 2022

Thank You ...

... to Almighty God for giving me the possibility ...even if only for a few more moments  ... to serve Him within the Love which He so generously shares with me.

And Thank You to everybody who, over the last two or three weeks, has prayed for me. I am grateful, immensely, to all of you.

I was yanked off to hospital very suddenly; hence, I has no opportunity to revise, reconsider, or correct the pieces I had drafted. Apologies for my many inaccuracies and incoherences!

God  bless you all.

I have looked through your comments, and enabled most of them!.


14 May 2022

Pope Francis attacks the Copts

 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 remarkable insult to hurl at the 21 Coptic Martyrs of Egypt. 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.

Readers will remember that, on 15 February 2015, "Islamic militants" beheaded, on the shore of Libya, twenty Coptic Christians and an Egyptian who identified with them. I expect the video is still somewhere on the Internet. A week later, they were canonised by the Pope of Alexandria. The liturgical language of the Copts is, of course, Coptic, which is no longer a spoken vernacular.

The strange thing is, at the time, PF wrote with sympathetic feeling to the Patriarch. Clearly, he has changed his mind now, having convinced himself that these twenty one peasant construction workers, who confessed Christ with their last breaths, were really "laughing at the Word of God."

Perhaps those more expert than me in the arcane mysteries of Bergoglian hyperultrapapalism can explain: does that cult require that, if one day PF says X, and the next day he says Anti-X, the faithful believer is required to give equal and equally absolute assent to each conflicting proposition as it emerges from the Sacred Mouth?


13 May 2022

The Good Urinals Guide

When I first taught at Lancing, the urinals were still called 'The Groves', because it was in groves, in the College's earlier and primitive days, that such functions were ... er ... discharged. The groves behind Field's House were built in the indigenous vernacular architecture of the Sussex chalk downlands: worked masonry framing knapped flint. The building was so superbly done that there was not a millimetre between the beautifully knapped and fitted flints. Sir John Betjeman, on one of his visits, referred to it [fact! ... but, I think, unpublished] as the finest Gothic Revival Urinal in England. It may well have been. In fact, far too fine a building, in the minds of provosts and bursars, for its designated functions. Naturally, it is now a Pottery. 

A decade or two after we finally closed down our last coal-mines and steel-refineries, there is very little now left of England that is not either a pottery or a craft-shoppe or a merchant bank.

Near enough actually to be seen from that despoiled urinary masterpiece there is another similar tragedy of Spirit of Vatican II-style 'reordering'. On the coastal plain below the great heaped Gothic mass of Lancing College on its hill-top, lies Shoreham Airport, London's first international airport in the days when you took the train from Victoria and hopped off at the very edge of the Channel waves and got onto a plane which could, just about, on a good day, get you across to the French coast. Here, in the 1930s, was built a fine Art Deco airport building ... which is still there. And, inside it, is was a superb, pure, Art Deco loo (or bath room or rest room or WC or whatever ...). As you stood in your 'standing', a little below the level of your nose was a small cigarette-shaped ledge on which the sophisticated air-traveller who self-identified as male could rest his cigarette so as to have both hands free for enabling his necessary function. 

I am not a smoker ... but I surmise that this provision may also have been a prudently necessary safeguard against dangerous avalanches of glowing ash. The philoprogenitive male can never be too careful.

Now the whole dam' shootin'-match is no more. Eheu, you are so right to say, fugaces.

12 May 2022

DIX and the Jesuit

 Today is the obit of our great Anglican Catholic liturgist and mystagogue and wit, Dom Gregory Dix.

Dr Eric Mascall criticised the common Anglican assumption that everyone will "to the end of our earthly days ... perform discursive meditations on the Ignatian model, with all the multiplicity of acts that are peculiar to its many variants", and gives this anecdote about Dix: "Some years before Vatican II he was, rather daringly, invited by Cardinal Gerlier of Lyon to give a lecture on Anglican spirituality. In the discussion he was asked by an unidentified priest whether the Anglican clergy were taught Ignatian spirituality. Dix replied that it was the only kind that most of them were taught, and that this was very unfortunate, as it was a type that was very unsuitable to English people, so that most of them, having tried it without success, abandoned prayer altogether.

"There was a burst of laughter and the questioner, somewhat disconcerted, sat down with the remark, 'Father, that is a truly Benedictine sentiment'. 

"The chairman whispered to Dom Gregory, 'That was the Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus'"

His book The Shape of the Liturgy, amusing and stimulating and immensely influential in the days immediately after the War, gave rise to a set of verses [written by Mascall???] including this stanza:

"Gloom in the Athenaeum,/ Darkness and dirty looks!/ Bishops huddled in corners,/ Reading their Contact Books,/ Flickers the flame of Fisher,/ Waver the words of Woods,/ Faint and vague is he voice of Haigh,/ Garbett's not the goods,/ The glory that was Pollock,/ The grandeur that was Hicks,/ Gone to a monk at Nashdom,/ Gone to Gregory Dix."

Dix would not have been favoured in this dark Age of Bergoglianity and of the poor arthur roches. He liked to be able to say that "This very morning I [said Mass] with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed."


11 May 2022

Pope Francis attacks Sant Francis. (How high do ostriches fly?)

 PF took the name 'Francis' as a way of implying "I'm not like any other pope there has ever been". After this memorable if unsubtle piece of arrogance, you may think that is is strange for our Holy Father now to attack the Poverello.

Yet he has by implication done exactly that.

Fact is so often stranger than Fiction!!!

He has told us that proclaiming the Scriptures in a non-vernacular language is "like laughing at the Word of God".

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 now must be in precisely just such a period of Suspense. I cannot see how else one can analyse PF in terms of any sort of Catholic ecclesiology.

You see, S Francis was a deacon. This means that his own particular liturgical ministry at Mass was to sing the Gospel. In PF's world of rich fantasy, whenever S Francis sang Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum ... he (presumably) felt the laughter welling up inside him. After singing In illo tempore ..., his mirth (we conjecture) was just too much for him. He must have sunk helpless to the ground with great sobs of tearful laughter. I hope there was a doctor in the house.

You find this scenario "improbable"? You may say that, Maddy; I couldn't possibly comment. But my aged memory does recall hearing, some six decades ago, Eduard Frankel (one of Adolph Hitler's greatest benefactions to the Oxford Honour School of Litterae Humaniores) referring to Robinson Ellis as "A man viz a remarkable instinct for ze improbable." I think he may have been referring to Ellis's words about Queen Arsinoe II's Flying Ostriches.

(I wonder if we should discern a connexion with an address PF once gave to servers, in which he recalled that, as a boy, back in the time of the Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite, he himself loved to make a mockery of the Most Holy Eucharist by changing the words and ceremonies in order to render them risible. By implication, PF apparently urged his youthful hearers to perform similar amusing sacrileges.)

10 May 2022

Gaia, Natura, and all the Earth Mothers

"The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism, and modern cosmic religion is really in this proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a step-mother. The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our siater. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. Nature was a solemn mother to the worshippers of Isis and Cybele. Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth or to Emerson. But Nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved."

9 May 2022


Recycled from a previous year.
Once a term (on the Saturday, I believe, in Seventh Week, which is this week), the authorities of S John's College in this University open their gates to those who wish to look at their unique collection of late Medieval vestments. These vestments date from the foundation of the college in the reign of Good Queen Mary as part of the reform movement which she, Cardinal Pole, and their bishops were sponsoring. After the dark days of Henry VIII and Edward VI, it must have seemed to right-thinking Christians that all was back to rights again; but Mary's reign was not just a restoration of the old. New standards of clerical professionalism were part of its nascent policy, together with new schemes for instructing the laity in their Catholic Faith (Mary's collaborators were not afraid to use some of those precise methods which were used in the previous reign to disseminate heresy). This is England's aborted but briefly glorious Counter-Reformation. Duffy, of course ...

I wonder if there will ever be a national exhibition of what remains of this period - one of the most sparkling quinquennia in our history. If there were, S John's could provide some spectacular exhibits; and in my view the two banners which they possess would have the greatest interest. One is of their Patron, S John Baptist, and shows him in a distinctly baroque style. The other is of our Lady Assumpta; an idiosyncrasy is that the crescent moon on which she stands has, on top of it, a face - the Man-in-the-Moon (another of the vestments on display also shows our Lady upon the crescent Moon; I wonder how early this Baroque commonplace is found in late Medieval English iconography? I have seen it circa 1450 ... can anyone push it earlier?).

But the most remarkable thing about this banner is the name, at the top, of its donor: Thomas Campion. Was this Thomas a relative of the future Jesuit martyr S Edmund Campion (martyred 1581)? A supporter of Sir Thomas White, the wealthy Founder of S John's (he had been Warden of the Merchant Taylours)? We know that S Edmund entered S John's upon its foundation and, being an able Latinist, very soon became a Fellow. In those brief, happy years before the Queen's death, S Edmund must have worshipped in Chapel and looked at the banner of our Lady which his kinsman had given. At the bottom of it among other shields is a shield of the Five Wounds of our Redeemer (the other banner also bears this device). It is difficult not to feel the significance of this: the Tudor rebellions in defence of the old Faith had marched behind this banner; it represened the devotional heart of Catholic England. Even Cranmer knew the popular votive of the Five Wounds so well that in his 1549 Prayer Book he incorporated the text of most of its Collect into his Prayer for the Church and used it twice in his Burial Service. Less than a decade before S Edmund entered S John's, there had been executions in Oxford and throughout Oxfordshire (these Troubles are less well known that the West Country insurrection, possibly because they lacked a chronicler) at the conclusion of the 1549 Rising against Protestantism. The device of the Five Wounds was a mark of identity, of commitment to the historic Faith, and S Edmund must have felt this as he saw it carried.

Readers of this blog will know that the banner of the Five Wounds can sometmes be seen flying over the Catholic Chaplaincy in Cardiff!

Those banners, surely, represent the tipping point between a Catholicism that looked back to the old, and the 'new' Catholicism of the seminary priests; between the culture of Marian priests surreptitiously saying the old Sarum Rite and that of the young men who brought the Missal of S Pius V back with them to England (at Douay, the students were taught the Missal of S Pius V between December 1576 and April 1577; presumably the Protomartyr of the seminaries, S Cuthbert Mayne, another S John's College man, ordained in 1575, had used the Sarum Rite).

Campion and Mayne were not S John's only martyrs. If you penetrate to the back quadrangle, you will find baroque architecture as fine as any in England: even the dreadful Nikolaus 'Bauhaus' Pevsner saw it as of European significance and quality. The two entrances are framed by statues of blessed Charles Stuart, King and Martyr, and his Queen Henrietta Maria. This building was done in the 1630s*, the decade in which England and Rome were most nearly reunited; and the builder was our martyred archbishop William Laud ... he and his King both parts of the glorious baggage of the Anglican Patrimony. The St John's exhibition includes blessed William Laud's zucchetto, and a dark satin cope linked with his name (he was President of the College).
*A pilgrimage to this fascinating decade would include this quadrangle, the glass in Magdalen Chapel, and the Porch of the University Church with its statue of our Lady. What else? The 1640's, of course, would bring in all the colleges used when Oxford was the administrative capital of Royalist England, and the monuments to dead royalists in the Lucy Chapel in the Cathedral.

8 May 2022

Victory in Europe?

 One of our best-loved Catholic novelists, Evelyn Waugh, once wrote about 1945 as "the drab and sour period of victory".

In his partially autobiographical World War Two trilogy, the final volume is entitled Unconditional Surrender.


Waugh himself (and his creation Guy Crouchback) at first saw that war as a Crusade; with Hitlerite Germany in alliance with Stalinist Russia, how could the battle against the pair of them be other than romantically heroic? We were up against the combined Modern World in all its horror.

In his 1946 Scott-King's Modern Europe, the experience of a dim, passed-over schoolmaster is: "[A]s the face of Europe coarsened  and the war, as it appeared in the common-room newspapers and the common-room wireless, cast its heoic and chivalrous disguise and became a sweaty tug-of-war between teams of indistinguishable louts ...".

Waugh was not a pacifist. Indeed, the degree of his personal courage under fire was sometimes regarded as inappropriate by colleagues who did not share it. After the War, his military duties obliged him to be complicit in the decidedly non-Catholic policies of Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia, as it persecuted Catholic clergy and mistreated Jews. His own profound disillusionment became the basis of his post-war fictional writing. 

When I was very small, I somehow got my hands on a romantic account of the Finnish war with the Soviet Union. Heroic, courageous Finns, ski-born, descended through the soundless snows upon the Russian aggressor. How could one not be moved by their exploits? How I hungered to read more about their successes ... about their inevitable and deserved triumph, elegant Davids against such a monstrous Goliath ...

It was quite a few years before I discovered what really happened.

When we found ourselves allied with Uncle Jo Stalin, we (I mean, this 'United Kingdom') ... yes ... we declared war on plucky little Finland.

I think one of Waugh's finest pieces of oblique and symbolist writing concerns the Sword of Stalingrad, a piece of metalwork given by George VI to Stalin to commemorate his military prowess, and exhibited like a sacred relic in Westminster Abbey before it made its journey Eastwards.

The heraldry on the scabbard was upside down. 

7 May 2022

Married priests

When ... happy, far-off days ... I used to spend my Anglican summers in the Kingdom of the West, County Kerry, chaplaining a couple of Church of Ireland churches ... kindly Roman Catholics in Ireland, anxious to sound friendly, often sought to show their soundness by telling me why they were in favour of allowing married clergy in the Catholic Church. 

"It will solve the problem of paedophile priests", they confidently asserted. They tended to be surprised when I explained that allowing married clergy does not achieve this end. I could tell them so much about Anglican priests - and bishops - who have laboured vigorously to disprove this assumption. The English Independent Inquiry into sexual abuse recently described mercilessly the situation in one specimen Anglican diocese. My own Anglican ministry was overshadowed by the proximity of a bishop whose sadistic abuse of epheboi was at an industrial level.

And I could go on to tell jolly tales galore about Anglican priests - and bishops - who have been sacked for adultery. And to point out that clergy wives can create their own scandals by running off with the Curate or the Rector or the chairman ... or chairwoman ... of the Parish Council. A priest who is trying to look after three young children singlehanded after his missus has done a bunk with a deft and friendly organist is not best placed to devote himself singlemindedly to the care of his people. 

 "And a married priest will understand marriage ... and women ... so much better", the Irish cheerfully added. There's a great load of nonsense in this. An unmarried priest has, does he not, experience of the marriage in which he was nurtured? And does he not have a mother, sisters, nieces? And yet ... there is a tiny something in this argument. But not, necessarily, quite what the speaker might confidently assume. Take this example: "Father, I can't get to Mass regularly; I've got young children". A celibate, hearing this, might feel intimidated. If he replies "Rubbish; pull the other one", there is a risk that he might get an abusive earful about how he has no personal experience of being up all night with sickly or cantankerous children, and of being stared at by censorious worshippers when the kiddies start screaming in church. 

If, however, someone has tried that nonsense on me, I have always been able to say "I remember when my wife had four small children and the latest in the carry-cot and I never heard a squeak out of any of them all through Mass. And you have your husband sitting beside you to help, so that you're not - as my wife was - coping singlehanded while your husband liturgised and preached. And you've only got two. I wonder why that is." (No; I don't think I ever really did say that last bit.)

But, strangely, Pope Francis has slightly mitigated my views on this matter of married priests.

If he had a wife, his equal who could Frankly point out to him his failings and misjudgements and unfairnesses and inconsistencies and hypocrisies ... that marvellous officium with which wives are so richly endowed ... would he be so cruel, spiteful, and hate-filled? 

Do we need to rethink this matter? Perhaps, by confining the Apostolic See to ordained widowers?

Henry Manning might have been Pope!

You know it makes sense. 

6 May 2022

Wokery upon wokery upon wokery

 It was a newspaper quiz that first got my mind going ... I have never been to Accra, or the Gold Coast, but a picture of a simple neo-Classical Triumphal Arch, with the date "AD 1957" and the words "Freedom and Justice", gave me an obvious answer. I recognised the black star on top ... the symbolic 'lode star' of black African liberation which Kwame Nkrumah took as the symbol that Ghana was the first British colony to become an independant nation. I'm glad it's still there: Colonel Wozname and Brigadier Thingummy did follow up on the Brit tyranny with a succession of coups designed to nuance both the Freedom and the Justice with the help of the never niggardly operatives of the CIA, yet they've never pulled down the black star.

But then I found myself wondering: A[nno] D[omini] ... isn't that a bit Christocentric? And those three English words: aren't they a little Anglocentric

I remember the Sixties when anti-Apartheid demonstrators used to march through my parish chanting "One Man One Vote". How totally fashions do change.

So statues, plaques, go up; and then, as certainly as night follows day, statues, plaques, will have to come down. What seems depressingly permanent is the human appetite for moral posturing and the lack of even the dimmest suspicion  that today's fashions may themselves ever come to be objects of stern condemnation. When did you last hear a suggestion that all new monuments now being erected ought to be so constructed that their removal will, when the moment comes, be cheap and easy?

S Teresa of Calcutta went from being a secular international saint  ... almost overnight ... to being a figure of hate when the chattering classes discovered that she opposed abortion. Now, some UN committee has awarded David Attenborough a florid title ... was it 'Saviour of the Solar System'? ... or 'Champion of the Planet'? ... or 'Glorious Gauleiter of the Galumphing Galaxies'? ... I can't remember which it was. But, if the man has any significance whatsoever, his fashion will, surely, pass.

Wozzat? Transpontine readers have never heard of him? He is a Brit "Environmentalist", one of our Great and Good, with an immensely oily and condescending I-know-best style of speaking; after hearing his voice I tend to feel like a gamma-minus sewer rat into whose subterranean paradise a rabid restauranteur has just poured a load of poor-quality past-its-use-by-date cooking oil.

I don't suppose I shall live long enough to see his statues being angrily pulled down by the ethically-certain cult-followers of the next fatuous piece of neo-wokery but two. 

But you can't stop me imagining it, can you?

5 May 2022

S Pius V and the liars

Today, his Feast Day, is the 450th anniversary of the Heavenly Birthday of Papa Ghislieri, Saint Pius V, Bishop of Rome.

Two BIG UNTRUTHS in particular are told about him, poor fellow.

Lie Number 1: he issued a radically revised version of the Roman Missal, just as S Paul VI was to do after Vatican II.

Fact: S Pius's edition of the Missal was so light a revision that it was still possible, after its promulgation, to continue to use your old Missal.

Lie Number 2: although permitting some exceptions, S Pius ordered his edition to be used by everybody.

Fact: he ORDERED all rites older than 200 years to be kept in use. (He only permitted churches with 200-year-old-or-more rites to change over to his own new edition if the Diocesan Bishop and the unanimous chapter agreed).

I hope that is clear enough. But ... so many people ... Popes ... Cardinals ... Bishops  ... have such trouble with all this ... so ... here's another simple way of explaining the difference between S Pius V and Pope Francis:

(a) Pope Pius V ORDERED Rites older than 200 years to be RETAINED

(b) Pope Francis is TRYING TO EXTERMINATE a Rite which is centuries more than 500 years old. 

If people you are talking to really are so thick that they can't understand the difference when you've tried both these ways of explaining things, give up.  

4 May 2022


Fr Bryan Houghton writes about his tastes when he was ten years old: "Now, I hated hymns. I do not know why. It is just a fact.When grown-ups talked about 'pornography' I thought they were talking about 'hymn-singing."

But, in later life, he was converted. " ... when Paul VI canonised the forty English Martyrs ... I wrote a beautiful poem for the occasion. Unfortunately it was not sung, as I had intended, in Saint Peter's--but it was in many churches in England, including Saint James's, Spanish Place, in London."

To be sung to the tune of 'The Church's One Foundation' or 'I'll Sing a Hymn to Mary'.

The Church's transformation/ By Paul the Sixth our Pope/ Has left for contemplation/ A void deprived of Hope,/ Where Charity is wanting/ And Faith is fled as well./ One hears above the chanting/ A little hiss from Hell.

Four more stanzas to be found in Unwanted Priest.


3 May 2022


Yes; wise readers will have remembered, from their frequent use of their glorious and capacious Fr Zed mug, that May 3 is the obitus of the greatest pontiff of the Second Millennium, Benedict XIV, Prospero Lambertini. But what is it that makes him such a great figure, and one so relevant to our own degenerate days?

In my opinion, it is his combination of the virtues of Enlightenment scholarship with his understanding of the normativeness of Tradition; and a hefty dollop of fine judgement.

As a Enlightenment man, respected as such even by English Whig intellectuals (ex. gr. Horace Walpole), he was aware that 'Tradition' does not mean "How I'm almost sure things probably were in Grandmother's time". His immense erudition ensured his profound awareness that the Past is a country of very considerable complexity. He combined with this understanding an extremely sound sense of judgement, enabling him to discern what really matters in 'the Past'.

The story of his (ultimately unsuccessful) attempts to reform the Breviary exemplifies this. He was aware that things needed to be changed ... not least, in some of the 'historical' lections. But did this mean that the whole shooting-match had to go into the melting pot?

He gathered a group of 'consultators'. They, also, were discerning and adept historians. Their report reminded the Pontiff that some of these questions had arisen under Clement VIII (1592-1605), when that pope's advisers had concluded that the distribution of the psalms in the Divine Office should not be changed. The reasons they adduced were those advanced by S Gregory VII ('Hildebrand'; 1073-1085). "Is igitur  qui nunc in Ecclesia Romana viget divinae psalmodiae ritus vetustissima antiquitate utitur, a qua sine aliqua novitatis nota ac sine periculo recedi vix possit." The central words here are, of course, vetustissima antiquitate ... 'the very oldest ancientness'! 

The Pope's experts surveyed the views of the learned men of the medieval and renaisasance periods; and ended up with a quotation from Radulphus de Rivo: "Stick with (it is far safer) what foresighted antiquitas et auctoritas teach, rather than what reckless novitas et infirmitas have dreamed up."

Readers will have no difficulty understanding the Latin words I have left in Red!

This was the sound and well-judged liturgical culture over which Papa Lambertini presided. It is a shame that S Pius X, and his successors, poor poppets, did not have rather more of those instincts!

2 May 2022


 As I write, the TV journalists are busily discovering nice old ladies and gentlemen in Central Europe who have brothers and sisters the other side of the border which divides Ukrainia from the Russian Federation and/or Belorus. The old dears can't understand why their siblings don't understand the current war in the way they do. Manifestly, they themselves don't see things as their estranged siblings do.

At the North end of Lake Garda, there was, until the aftermath of WWI, an international border. To the North, called 'South Tyrol', was a province of substantially German culture and language, part of the Austrian Empire. As Italy's reward for selecting the right side in the War, the entire kaboodle, lock stock, and barrel, was transferred to Italy. It still is part of Italy, although German-language newspapers are on sale. 

Josef Mayr-Nusser was born in the 'South Tyrol' in 1910 as an Austrian citizen. He declined the possibility of leaving for Germany in 1939. 

After the collapse of Italian Fascism, the Germans occupied the South Tyrol. Josef, now an Italian citizen but considered an Ethnic German, was drafted into the Waffen-SS. But, being a devout Catholic Christian, he declined to take the oath of allegiance to the Fuehrer and Kanzler of the German Reich. Accordingly, he was sentenced to death. Loaded onto a cattle wagon, he was sent off to Dachau. But damaged railway lines at Erlangen meant that his wagon could go no further. He died there on February 24, 1945, of pneumonia and hunger.

He was beatified on March 18, 2017; his liturgical commemoration is on October 3. 

There was much about the "European Union" which merited criticism; for me, its lowest point came with the Brussels proposal to adopt a constitution which glorified Antiquity and the 'Enlightenment' and made not the slightest reference to the common Christian centuries which came in between.

But there was and is one saving grace in the EU ... enormously saving and very much a Divine Grace.

National borders slowly but surely started to ... melt; those borders which were so bound up with the Passion and Martyrion of Blessed Josef.

A character in Evelyn Waugh remarked: "I am a Croat, born under the Habsburg Empire. That was a true League of Nations. As a young man I studied in Zagreb, Budapest, Prague, Vienna - one was free, one moved where one would; one was a citizen of Europe. Then we were liberated and put under the Serbs. Now we are liberated again and put under the Russians. And always more police, more prisons, more hanging."

When I hear politicians glorifying Nationalism and British Values and all the rest of that stuff, I ask myself Cui bono?

1 May 2022

The happy birds ... Mary's Month of May

The happy birds Te Deum sing,/'Tis Mary's month of May;/Her smile turns winter into spring,/And darkness into day;/And there's a fragrance in the air./The bells their music make,/And O the world is bright and fair,/ And all for Mary's sake. 

Number 936 in the English Catholic Hymn Book! The hymn was written by Father Alfred Gurney, 1843-1898, Vicar of S Barnabas Pimlico. Anglican Patrimony!

Those were the days!

I am, of course, using today to urge readers both laic and cleric to realise in the worship of their churches the exuberant joy of pre-Conciliar Catholicism ... especially during Mary Month. The thought of the processions, the flowers, the Crowning of the statue of our dear Mother ... What a loss it has been; of a culture well worth the effort of restoration. Especially in days such as these.

And those Victorian hymns carry a lot with them. A later stanza of Fr Gurney's hymn goes:

How many are the thoughts that throng/On faithful souls today;!/All year we sing our Lady's song,/'Tis still the song of May:/Magnificat! O may we feel/ That rapture more and more;/And chiefly, Lord, what time we kneel/Thine altar throne before.

Thine altar throne!! When did you last hear that wonderful phrase, either in a homily or in the music of of a 'main-stream' Catholic church? The centre of our Faith! Here is another piece of Anglican Patrimony, a stanza from a hymn in use a century and a half ago in (what is now) our great Ordinariate Basilica of S Agatha in Landport  

Thou, God and Man, art in our midst,/The Altar is Thy throne;/We bow before Thy Mercy Seat,/And Thee, our Maker, own./My soul, fall prostrate to adore,/In lowliest worship bent;/Each day I live I love Thee more,/Sweet Sacrament! Sweet Sacrament! 

Who, even in these dark days of lofty oppression and pontifical disapproval, could try to exclude such devotion? Great Heavens, these hymns are even in the vernacular! And, lest anybody damn them with the faint praise of being 'rather Father Faberish', here is a stanza of a hymn by a rather different Victorian cleric (Westminster Hymnal 118):

They tell us of that Paradise/Of everlasting rest,/And that high Tree, all flowers and fruit,/The sweetest, yet the best./O Mary, pure and beautiful,/Thou art the Queen of May:/Our garlands wear about thy hair,/And they will ne'er decay. 

And that is by the greatest, most precise, theologian of the 19th century, S John Henry Newman. How characteristic, his deft insertion of patristic themes into popular devotion.

Hymns! Flowers! Processions! Homilies! Love! You know it makes sense!

The Mary Month of May!