30 June 2022

The Precious Blood

Perhaps even more than the Sacred Heart, tomorrow's great Feast represents the instincts embodied in the old English affection for the cult of the Redeemer's Five Wounds. Here is Fr Caswall's translation of the Lauds Office Hymn for July 1:

Hail, wounds! which through eternal years The love of Jesus show; Hail, Wounds! from whence unfailing streams Of grace and mercy flow.
More precious than the gems of Ind, Than all the stars more fair; Nor honeycomb, nor fragrant rose, Can once with you compare.
Through you is open'd to our souls A refuge safe and calm, Whither no raging enemy Can reach to work us harm.
What countless stripes did Christ receive Naked in Pilate's hall! From his torn flesh how red a shower Did all around him fall!
How doth th'ensanguined thorny crown That beauteous brow transpierce! How do the nails those hands and feet Contract with tortures fierce!
He bows his head, and forth at last His loving spirit soars; Yet even after death His heart For us its tribute pours.
Beneath the winepress of God's wrath His Blood for us He drains, Till for Himself, oh wondrous love! No single drop remains.
Oh, come, all ye on whom abide The deadly stains of sin! Come! wash in this encrimsoned tide, And ye shall be made clean.
Praise Him, who with the Father sits Enthroned upon the skies; Whose blood redeems our souls from guilt, Whose Spirit sanctifies.

Not as sure-footed as translations by John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale, is it? Incidentally, with regard to the antepenultimate stanza, Neale claimed, on physiological grounds, that the word 'roseo' in the hymn Ad coenam Agni related to the 'fact' that the last drop or two from a body almost totally drained of blood ... are rosy rather than red. A recent correspondent, a doctor in A & E, confirmed the accuracy of this.

29 June 2022

Unity cum Petro et Paulo?

 A few days ago, a kind friend sent me the Trinity Sunday Sunday booklet of a (Missouri Synod) Lutheran Church. The Collect printed was the Tidentine/Prayer Book Collect ... and the Creed was the ... yes!! ... Athanasian Creed (with Filioque). 

And a few weeks ago, I had enabled a Comment which revealed that, in another transpontine Lutheran Church, the Gospel reading was the same as in Sarum/Prayer Book.

Is this simply copying from Anglican formulae? Or, more interestingly, is it a continuation of the usages of late-Medieval Catholic Europe?

If the latter, I wonder if the immemorial traditions of Scandinavia, the British Isles, North Germany deserve to be given the respect of being authorised for Catholic use, not only in the Ordinariate, but thoughout those parts of Europe where they were in use before the Reformation.

And, surely, there are many healthy and wholesome things which could could be recovered for Catholicism from the sounder elements in Lutheranism.

Six years ago, I contributed, to the Canadian Lutheran Theological Review, a review of an extraordinarily fine Commentary On Ephesians by Dr Tom Winger. If that was an example of modern conservative Lutheran Biblical Scholarship, we could all benefit from it. Especially now that Anglicanism has given up on the Bible.

Looking even further into an exciting ecumenical future ... why not admit Lutherans to the Ordinariates? Or let them have their own?

Perhaps not immediately ... PF, with a lot of silly rhetoric anbout 'Proselytism', rubbishes the fine example of Ecumenism bequeathed by his predecessor. But, under a new Holy Father, Ecumenism and Unity may once again be viewed with favour.

28 June 2022

The Gallican Rite

Most people with such interests know Dom Gregory Dix's 'purple passages' by heart. But there are other gems, evocative of times and places, little known ...

Dix cites a Gallican Preface about S Saturninus of Toulouse:

"It is very meet and right ... especially are we bound at this time to exalt with due honour the blessed Saturninus, the conclamantissimus witness of thine awful name: whom the mob of the heathen when they thrust him from the temple thrust also into heaven. Never the less thine high-priest sent forth from Eastern regions to the city of the Tolosatians, in this Rome of the Garonne as Vicar of Thy Peter fulfilled both his episcopate and martyrdom ..."

Dix comments:

"'This Rome of the Garonne'! There is all the Frenchman's deep and tender feeling for his pays natal behind the deliciously absurd phrase. And how little French provincial catholicism has changed in its spirit and taste in all the fourteen centuries or so since this was written! The pretentious language in such homely Latin of many of these Gallican prayers is the equivalent of the heavy white marble statues, the gilt wire stands of ferns and the innumerable overwrought candlesticks and devotional bric-a-brac that express the real pride and affection of les paroissiens for the parish churches of the smaller country towns of France to this day."

And, commenting on the old Gallican Rites, Dix writes that they "plainly indicate that the end was not very far off when Charlemagne so abruptly hastened it. The barbarous boisterous Merovingian Latin in which they were composed would never have suited the clerks of the Carolingian renaissance, no Ciceros in reality but very proud of their culture, and certainly incomparably better educated than their predecessors only fifty years before. These clumsy old prayers have indeed a moving kind of poetry of their own, rather like that of the surviving fragments of the Frankish epics. But quite apart from their barbarisms of syntax and accidence, they bear very plainly written in their substance the marks of their own times, and could never have served another. ..."

Shape pp 581sqq will give you more!

As Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out, rites can die out if they fall out of use; if those who used them cease to exist.. I urge sound Catholics never to use the new Eucharistic Prayers invented in the 1960s.

Even if their promulgation was juridically valid, our disuse can consign them unde negant redire quemquam. 

27 June 2022

Narratives, narratives

I congratulate fellow Catholics in the United States for their success in rolling back the murderous aggression of foeticide.

I think I know what the next stage will be in this contest between Good and Evil.

The partisans of the Enemy will start bringing forward gruesome accounts of women who, unhappily, have died in childbed. It will be claimed that these tragedies happened because they were refused abortions. Medical sources may subsequently give the facts about how those deaths truly occurred; but the Enemy has never allowed mere facts to deflect him.

Something like that happened in Ireland. I anticipate a period which may perhaps come to be called The War Of The Narratives.

Our current National Gauleiter has condemned the SCOTUS decision. And a rabbi, speaking in a Beeb slot called Thought For the Day, which is supposed to be non-controversial, has also put SCOTUS in its place.

God bless and keep the peoples of America.

A Decade

 Today is ten years since I was admitted to the Presbyterate of the Ordinariate; on the feast of our Blessed Lady of Perpetual Succour. Bishop William Kenney officiated, at his request, which gave me great pleasure. His lordship is titular bishop of Midica, in North Africa, at one time a bit of a hot spot of Donatism. But not now. Heresies come, heresies go, as heresies ever will.

Aware that I have a secret preference for Latin Liturgy, he kindly decreed that the Canon Romanus, in Latin, was to be used. Ad multos annos Domine! Plurimosque annos!

The following day, by the kind permission of the Provost, I celebrated my First Mass in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, at that fabulous pietra dura Lady Altar in the Brompton Oratory. (It began life in the Dominican Church, now demolished, in Brescia.) I was very aware, as I did so, of the statue of the  Dominican Pope S Pius V, standing there beside our Lady. Since then, a dignified altar to S John Henry Newman has popped up beside S Pius. Did you hear me just now shout Dottore pronto?

By a happy coincidence, Ss Pius and John Henry both used an Authentic Roman Rite!  So do I!!

I hope that our Blessed Lady, and S John Henry, and S Pius, and my Holy Readers, will pray for this unworthy presbyter.

26 June 2022

idou, exelthen ho speiron tou speirai ...

 The Beeb has recently had lots of North Americans and others on screen to educate those of us who are cursed to live in what Donald Rumsfeldt once disdainfully called Old Europe ...

I wonder how large the fees are that these folk are paid. I expect the Bimbosphere relies massively on such sources of income.

Almost all of these Pundits ... curious coincidence ... were opposed to the striking down of Roe versus Wade. In fact, quite vehemently so. One such lady started (literally) writhing to camera. Very hootworthy.

And I did enjoy the Pundit who explained that Roe versus Wade was "a seminal ruling". It's so cheering to get an occasional (sporadic?!? Geddit?) laugh ... even, an occasional piece of almost-sophisticated verbal wit.

But perhaps the ruling should, for decency's sake and in Mixed Company, be renamed "Roe versus W***".

P.S. The only speaker who has mentioned, in my hearing, 'Democracy', is Mr Trump. Can somebody explain to me, a befuddled mere European, why a decision made in the 1970s by a Court consisting of appointees is "settled" for so many fierce people, while the notion that it might be subject to review by democratically elected State legislatures is an outrage? (Not that I have a superstitious regard for 'Democracy' ... my point ... you understand me ... is exclusively ad hominem ... in Locke's sense of that phrase ...)

25 June 2022

S John Baptist

My Name Day. Am I the only person who observes his Name Day with more enthusiasm than his birthday? Today I plan to say the Johannine Mysteries of the Holy Rosary (The Annunciation to Zacharias; The Visitation; The Nativity of S JB; The Lord's Baptism; The Decollation). Incidentally, without in the least wishing to denigrate the cult of Great S Joseph the Patriarch, I do rather feel that in our Counter-Reformation Latin Christian culture it has slightly overshadowed the perhaps more primitive and ecumenical cult of S John Baptist, the greatest of the Old Covenant and a reminder of our kinship with the People of the Prophets.

The Calendar now offers us an interesting week.

I think we have the anniversary of the Econe Consecrations; so we pray for bishops, priests and seminarians of the SSPX and their lay adherents. And for Benedict XVI who extended such a generous hand of reconciliation to them, as he did to us Anglicans. I suspect it is not always realised what an agony it must all have been for him. On the one hand, he felt it his duty to attempt a collegial and consensual exercise of the Petrine Ministry with his Venerable Brethren, and, on the other hand, he believed (as he said after his inauguration) that he, before all others, will be asked to give an account of what he has done for Christian Unity. 

We know how many of his own Bishops were doubtful or worse about his initiatives to Lefebvreists or to Catholic Anglicans; we remember how, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he observed in the early 1990s 'What are the [English RC] bishops so afraid of?' 

'Christian Unity' is an automatic, axiomatic Good that all right-thinking Christians automatically and axiomatically favour ... except that, sadly, they don't. Because all we fallen human beings are very acutely nervous about the wrong sort of Unity, and Unity with the wrong sort of people. Remember the true story about the Jesuit who was asked "Why don't you like the Ordinariates? We thought you favoured Unity with Anglicans?" and who wailed in reply "But they're the wrong sort of Anglicans!!

And so we have had to endure PF with his Liturgy wars. 

We have had to watch him playing out a sort of Toddler Ecumenism by kissing Patriarchs who ... embarrassingly ... can't even manage to stay in communion with each other. 

Just as PF himself expresses so often his own intolerance of fellow Catholics.

24 June 2022

Printing and the Sacred Heart

Once when I was an Anglican, using the older of my two Latin Altar editions of Missale Romanum, I said the Mass of the Sacred Heart as it existed, firstly pro aliquibus locis and then for the Universal Church, before Pius XI provided a replacement in 1928. I rather liked the older mass. The psalmus in the Introit was Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo, a haunting verse which has stuck in the minds of many. You find it in Pius IX's Mass of the Precious Blood; it occupied the same place in the Sarum Mass of the Five Wounds; I remember deciphering it, highly abbreviated, on a choir pew put in Lifton church in the late fourteen hundreds by Parson Halyborton, an adventurous Scotch cleric who came to Devon, became an archdeacon, went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I recall seeing it on a portrait, 1582, of S Teresa of Avila, which was once in the Carmel at Lanherne ... Why did this old Mass of the Sacred Heart have to be abolished? Its collect was to be resurrected by the post-conciliar 'reform', so it can't have carried the marks of being too dated. Why couldn't the mass have been kept as an alternative, or even just as a votive, somewhere in the Missal?

I have written before about the significance, understood by too few liturgical writers, of printing. This made it possible for legislators with liturgical bees in their bonnets to enforce, in a flash, liturgical revolutions. Before printing, we had a situation - I am thinking of the early history of Corpus Christi - in which a pope could mandate a feast for the Universal Church and it wasn't even observed in the papal capella until nearly two generations later. But printing made it possible for a Cranmer to overturn an entire liturgical culture overnight, and to replace his own liturgical innovations with a substantially different and yet more radical version of them a couple of years later.

This particular technological mechanism of Rupture came to town, I mean ad almam Urbem, after Vatican II. But there were earlier signs. I have just mentioned Pius XI and the liturgy of the Sacred Heart. Then there was Pius XII and the Assumption. Out went the old Mass and Office and in came radically new replacements. There was nothing wrong with the old euchological formulae; they made the point which was at the heart of the theology of the Assumption in both East and West in the first millennium and a half: that Mary was assumed so that she could intercede, be the Mediatrix of all graces. Granted that Pius XII desired in 1950 to imprint upon the liturgy his new dogmatic definition, he could have behaved in the organic, evolutionary way of earlier pontiffs - he might, for example, have left the texts which he inherited untouched but embodied his new precisions in an added word (corporea) in the Preface; or even have asked that fertile Fr Genovese to write a Sequence, ordering it to be printed in liturgical books after that date and to be be brought into use as the newer books gradually spread. (Something like that is what Papa Barberini did when he classicised the texts of the Office Hymns.)

Printing is a very dangerous weapon in the hands of liturgists.

23 June 2022


I was unjust to him ... Mr Orator spoke well. He spoke very positively about S Edmund Campion. And he did refer to the closing down of Benets; and he referred to it with regret; and he expressed a hope that it might only be in hibernation. Bravissimo! Or Eugepae!

May I remind those with an interest in traditional Catholic Ethics (or in Oxford ... or in Women ...) of the recent book The Women are up to something by Benjamin Lipscomb. One of the four women Oxford philosophers it describes is the Elizabeth Anscomb who nobly attempted to block the conferring at Encaenia of an honorary doctorate on President Truman ... who, she so rightly pointed out, was a war criminal.

These four Oxford women philosophers were not all Catholics, but they did all make a contribution to the thesis that there is such a thing as the objectively evil. As such, they deserve to be celebrated as important prophets of Veritatis Splendor.

22 June 2022

ENCAENIA ... et alia ...

As we all set off in our moth-eaten red silk to celebrate Encaenia, the minds of right-thinking people naturally turn to Jokes in the Latin Language.

I have no doubt that the funniest book ever written is Ovid's Metamorphoses. But I never go around commending it to the Reading Lists of others, because, if you don't know Latin, and Latin literature, pretty well, you can't read Ovid. His humour depends so profoundly upon slight points of Latin grammar and vocabulary and word-order, and the interplay of genres, and the use of wickedly impish intertextualities and pastiches, that, if you buy and read a translation, you won't be reading Ovid. Yes ... you will have in your hand a nicely written collection of Greek myths in the English (or whatever) language, immensely readable; indeed, better reading by far than most of the stuff in the bookshops ... but you won't have Ovid.

After the Metamorphoses, I would regard the next two Funniest Books Ever Written in any language (I suppose in my pompous way I really mean 'Which I have ever read') as The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh; and Zuleika Dobson  by Sir Maximilian Beerbohm. Here I have a question of terminology, of jargon, in which I ask help of Englit specialists.

The Loved One begins with a meeting of two Englishmen for whisky and soda at sundown in a distant and barbarous land; against a background of the dry sounds of summer, the frog-voices, the grating cicadas, and the ever-present pulse of music from the neighbouring native huts, they take their ease. In the days of Empire, they are the counterparts of numberless exiled fellow-countrymen.

Except ... that this isn't quite the whole picture.

Back to Oxford In Summer Time ... In Zuleika Dobson, the beautiful Zuleika drives the entire appassionato male undergraduate body of the University of Oxford to mass suicide by drowning in the River Thames. What more proper (and more literary) than that Keen Remorse should then drive her to join them in their Watery Fate? So ... "And Zuleika? She had done a wise thing and was where it was best that she should be. Her face lay upturned on the water's surface, and round it were masses of her dark hair, half floating, half submerged. Her eyes were closed, and her lips were parted ... what to her now the loves that she had inspired ...".

Except ... that this isn't quite the whole picture.

I say no more. My lips are sealed. I refuse to spoil these exquisite works of comic genius (in combination with Death) for those literary virgins among you, who, fortunate souls, are privileged still to have the opportunity of coming to them fresh and undefiled.

I suppose that this device is a rather baroque outworking of the topos which we Classicists in our dim prosaic way call the para prosdokian. But I feel sure that you Englit specialists, hot as ever from the perusal of Frank Kermode, will have a more spot-on technical term for it.


21 June 2022

When is Education "Pure Evil"?

At the end of World War II, a brilliant young English classicist ... a Wykehamist and a scholar of his College to boot ... who was in his twenties, was charged with interrogating members of the Hitler Youth. As John Dancy's Times obituary put it, "The sight of boys who had succumbed to [Nazi indoctrination] shocked him deeply. They were without fear or any idea of right and wrong ... They were, he realised, the victims of a 'perversion of education carried so far as to be be almost satanic.'"

These young fellows were also, he noticed, defective in the sphere of mirth.

Dancy then returned to Oxford, and scooped up the Craven and the Hertford and the Gaisford Prize for Greek Prose. But the career of a don no longer appealed to him; he was to devote the rest of his life (November 13, 1920 - December 28, 2019) to schoolmastering. 

Indeed, he became head master of Lancing College. Lancing's Founder, Nathanael Woodard, had come to the conclusion, a century before, that "Education without Religion is pure Evil." At a time when the old schools of Catholic England had been turned into institutions ("Public Schools") to perpetuate the 'Enlightenment' assumptions of an arrogant Protestant governing class, Woodard founded a new set of collegiate schools designed to provide the Christian education in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. Such Catholicism, he fervently believed, had ceased to be the purpose of the Large School Near Slough, and of schools like it. At the heart of Woodard's method were 'auricular Confession' and the Patronage of the Great Mother of God.

In my own most decidedly unhumble view, the theory and practise of Education which have taken control during the decades of my own life in Education have demonstrated the complete truth of Woodard's conviction that "Education without [the Catholic] Religion is Pure Evil." 

I have little doubt that our masters will soon turn to the extirpation of Home Schooling.

As for Dancy's analysis, I would dispute only his word almost

I wonder if it was the influence of those Hitler Youths that led Dancy, in 1954, to publish an elegant Commentary on Maccabees. 

20 June 2022

The Prayer Book Society

Perhaps not many readers of this blog are using, today, the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. But ... any who are ... are using very ancient and venerable formulae which are missing elsewhere. They would have every right to quote the words of Benedict XVI about "what has been sacred ...".

The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels of all the Sundays after Trinity in the BCP were taken ... with only one or two tiny fiddlings ... from the propers used in the Sarum Use (and other medieval English 'rites'). And while these readings represent the same Epistles and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V, they are shuffled around rather. And these BCP readings are not some proddy Reformation confection; they represent the Lectionary system used all over large parts of Northern Catholic Europe before the Reformation and the subsequent widespread adoption of the Pian Missal. In effect, they are are a variant but authentic form of the Roman Rite; and stretch back to the Seventh Century.

Next point.

Those wise people who make use of Matthew Hazell's fine comparison between the Missal of S Pius V and the Novus Ordo, will be familiar with the following fact: the Novus Ordo omits scriptural readings which Modern Man of the 1960s regarded as objectionable (this applies not least to the Corpus Christi Epistle). Bad!!!

But today gives us an example of S Pius V, to superficial appearances, doing the same thing!!

Today's Gospel, repeated from yesterday, offers the parable from Luke 16, of the Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus. And this is absent from the Sunday Lections of the S Pius V Missal.

I wonder why. This is a genuine question!! I don't know!

This pericope does appear on a weekday in the S Pius V Missal: on the Thursday in the Second Week of Lent. But, as the sharp among you will be aware, Thursday used once to be an aliturgical day in the Roman Rite. It appears to have been Gregory II (715-731) who established the Thursday liturgies, and put together propers for them. And it is on one of these Thursdays that the parable of Lazarus makes its only appearance in the Authentic Roman Rite.

I wonder if there is a connection.

This parable is, perhaps, one of the neatest and sharpest and most damning of the Lord's parables. Just think about its concluding observation: If they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not listen even if one should rise from the dead ... well, one did rise from the dead ... and they didn't ... still haven't ... believed. And, as the Lord observed, all those who fail to believe will end up in that Place of Torment.

I'm not suggesting that a deliberate policy of bowdlerisation has been at work, as it was in the 1960s committee rooms where the Novus Ordo Lectionary was misbegotten. 

I am genuinely wondering if there might be something interesting and illuminating happening here. 

Or is it just a coincidenc?   

19 June 2022


 If Bishop Frere was not quite One of Us, Dom Gregory Dix certainly was. In 1942, he wrote:

"Anyone who has seen the golden dove above the altar of the choir at Amiens or the veiled pyx hanging in the Lady Chapel of the massive new conventual church at Mirfield will remember how it seems to dominate the whole space of the building, and how the sense of the sacramental presence seems to radiate out from it upon the very soul of the beholder. (To me personally this has always seemed by far the most poetic and striking of all methods of reservation and ... surely the most worthy. ... there is hardly a book of devotions or instruction for layfolk from the England of the 13th and 14th centuries which does not reveal the effect of the practice upon private devotion. Lydgate may stand for the rest: 'When thou comest to the holy place--cast holy water in thy face--Then look to the high altar--and pray to Him that hangeth there'."

I would add one of the 'Articles' of the West Country 'Prayer Book Rebels' of 1549 ... put forth within weeks of the Hanging Pyxes being brought down:

"We will have the sacrament to hang over the high altar and there to be worshipped, as it was wont to be; and they which will not thereto consent, we will have them die like heretics against the holy catholic faith."

Do you feel tempted to say Amen to that? In fact, within a decade Altar Tabernacles began to appear in some English churches.

Dear heroic Prayer Book Rebels! Many of them were themselves soon to die in the genocide unleashed upon them by the foreign mercenaries of the Tudor regime. 

Can anyone doubt that they have their reward?

18 June 2022

The Battle of Waterloo

In the distant days before I retired, when I seemed to have so much more time than I do now, this was annually the day when I read Lady Longford's fine account of the Battle of Waterloo.

It will be splendid if some competent historian with a mens vere Catholica can inform us what ... against a broad background ... the significance is of the Battle of Waterloo. It's beyond me. It appears to be a significant repudiation of that gruesome and bloody Enlightenment which had been embodied in the French Revolution and all those nasty little imitative 'republics' imposed by the French armies ... Cisalpine ... Parthenopaean ... ; it restored Bourbon rule to France and Spain ... I have gazed at, and been impressed by, the vestments worn at the Sacring of Charles X, carefully kept in the Sacristy at Avignon. But in France the Restoration fell apart in a decade and a half. We can hardly call this a decisive re-establishment of ancien regime Europe. It put paid (and not only in Beethoven's mind) to the Tyranny of the Inspired Heroic Individual; but presaged the century of Stalin and Hitler, embodiments of Class Struggle or of Racial Identity. It was not exactly the War to end all Wars, and yet its scale foretold the wars of mass carnage in the following century.

Was Waterloo a pyrrhic victory; simply a massively impressive but ultimately empty attempt to prevent the onrush of an unstoppable tide? Was it the last whimper of a Europe of Tradition before the advent of the horrors ... still with us ... of a succession of ruthless ideologies; Stalin's attack upon the Ukrainians; the enormities of Hitler's hate-filled slaughter of the Jews and others; our own more polite and well-mannered slaughter of the Unborn?

But may the British and Prussian ... and French ... soldiers who died this day rest in peace. 

Long live Christ the King.

17 June 2022

When the Patriarch was returning ...

Today, within the Octave of Corpus Christi, I remind readers of the Hymn Hoste dum victo triumphans, a superb hymn about the Lord's priesthood and the ministerial priesthood rooted in Him. Fr E Caswall - after he left the Church of England for the Birmingham Oratory - translated it as When the Patriarch was returning; you will find this version in the English Catholic Hymn Book. I would regard it as a prime piece of Patrimony although Fr Caswall was a Roman Catholic when he did his translation, since it was long popular as the Office Hymn of the Votive Vespers ("Guild Office") of the old Anglican GSS ("Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary").

I am republishing this old post because you will find much valuable and fascinating information in a comment originally attached to a 2010 blogpost on this hymn.

And I now add: can anyone provide reliable info on the authorship of Hoste dum victo? The earliest evidence I can find is the 1779 Cluniac Breviary ... which is notorious as one of the most inventive and innovatory of the 'neo-Gallican' rites (which Dom Gueranger devoted his life to eradicating).

This Breviary claimed to be "iuxta mentem Pauli V" [Pope 1605-1621]. It explains: "Hymni novi, veteribus elegantiores, ex variis auctoribus, praesertim Sanctolio Victorino delecti, novum Breviarium exornant". Santolius Victorinus is the usual Latin form of the name of Jean-Baptiste de Santeuil, a prolific writer of Latin hymns and of Latin verse in general (several of his hymns are translated in modern Catholic hymnals; and his body is in S Nicolas de Chardonnet!). 

It is interesting that the Head of the Cluniac monks thought it would commend the new hymns in his own new Breviary if he could say that Santeuil had liked them!!

The penultimate stanza tells us that the laity stand around the altar, offer the Sacrifice, and join the offering of themselves with that of Christ. I can think of hints in S Augustine of parts of this devotional-cum-theological complex of ideas ... but how much evidence is there in intervening centuries? 

Or is it one of the fashions of seventeenth-century French Catholicism?

The post-Conciliar revisers of the Breviary hymns would have sympathised with that explanation

(I like the last word, halitu!)


16 June 2022


In the late 1920s, the question of How to Reserve the Blessed Sacrament was a live political issue in the Church of England. This was because of the growing numbers of clergy who wished to introduce Reservation into their churches and to encourage ... strongly ... Benediction and Exposition. The episcopate wished to supress such popish practices; the clerical faction which desired them used a great deal of emotional rhetoric about the importance of having Reservation so that no sick person might die without Viaticum. 

The episcopal consensus was that the Most Holy might be reserved in the most unobtrusive way which could be devised ... and surrounded by comprehensive regulations prescribing how it should not be used. A wall-cupboard ("Aumbry") fixed into the North wall of a side-chapel was the favoured practical solution!

At this time, there was a bishop ... Walter Frere of Truro ... who did have extensive liturgical knowledge. He was not really one of us ... he did not like the use of the Roman Canon and the Tridentine Rite; which at that time were spreading like wild fire among the Anglican clergy ("... widespread habit of using parts of the Latin Service,whether legitimartely in the form of private devotion ... or in the form of supplement to the deficiency of our present Rite, said silently but in the mind of the celebrant treated with an importance equal to that of the official Rite"), but he did favour the legalisation of Reservation, and, in 1926 wrote:

"First: I want primarily to advocate the method of the hanging pyx. This is our English tradition universally, and on that account alone I think it is desirable to keep to it. With very few exceptions this is the method of reservation which prevails from the tenth to to the sixteenth century in England: the tabernacle is Italian in its origin; the aumbry or sacrament house we find in Scotland, is common in Germany, and is found in France, roughly speaking, equally with the hanging pyx. We should,  I think, make it quite clear that we are reverting to English custom and not adopting a foreign one.

"Secondly: it is better in its effect; it does not locate the Sacramental Presence in the same way: the church is filled with it, so to speak, and not merely a corner or chapel. There is much less of the instinct to genuflect or do things in a particular direction. In that sense it minimizes the tendency to bring Christ down and to look at the prisoner of the tabernacle on the worshipper's own level. The psychological difference is, I think, enormous."

Frere was a Religious, a brother of the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield, and the first episcopal monk in the Church of England since 1559. It must have been around this time that the Community's Chapel was provided with a most impressive Hanging Pyx. I find it hard to believe that this had nothing to do with Frere's opinions: does anybody know exactly when it happened? And who the responsible architect was?

On Sunday, the Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi, I hope to return to discussing the psychology of this method of Reservation.

15 June 2022

A bishop mislaid?

Fr Bryan Houghton (whose recently rediscovered manuscript has been published as Unwanted Priest and which I have already puffed once or twice) recalls that, in December 1966, he met again Bishop Thomas Leo Parker, of Northampton. 

"We were left alone--as everyone avoided him--and I took him by the lapels of his jacket and shook him: 'Good heavens, my Lord! I have known you for twenty-five years. You don't agree with what is going on! Why don't you have the courage of your convictions?' He looked away and said nothing. He retired in January 1967. Poor man! He had no personal friends. His life was Holy Mother Church. She had let him down. Poor man!"

Perhaps some readers may point out that Houghton was biased and that his antennae might have got things wrong ... although, of course, other readers might point out, with equal truth, that those who promoted and promote the Liturgical Revolution might also have had, and have, their own biases. 

But here comes an oddity ... does anybody have any ideas?

Bishop Leo retired in 1967. In accordance with the customs of the day, he was then 'translated' to the titular see of Magarmel in partibus infidelium. The thinking was that a bishop should be bishop of somewhere, even if there were no Catholics there for him to shepherd. Being Bishop of one of these titular sees (Magarmel was in Algeria) involved no work; no residence; no diocesan responsibilities. 

But Parker resigned this titular see, with its purely nominal dignity, in 1970 (he died in 1975).


14 June 2022

Duffy Revisited

In a new preface to his seminal The Stripping of the Altars, Eamon Duffy recalls how one of the discoveries which gave impetus to his revisionist approach to the history of the English Reformation was his realisation that, on the very eve of that 'reformation', so many parish churches were having (lay-funded) additions made to them ... a sure sign of the vitality of the cultus which they symbolised and enabled.

My own studies have given me reasons to conclude that this may be even truer than Duffy was able to gather from the evidence. I suspect that in many places building work was going on which has left only oblique evidence.

In 1644, when King Charles I was marching West, the cavalier diarist Richard Symonds traveling with him made notes about the heraldry he saw in the windows (and monuments) of all the churches and gentry houses he could get into. I was taking an interest in Lifton Church, near Okehampton; so I looked at the Victorian edition of Symonds to see what he noted there. An initial mistake ... I couldn't make his account fit. But when I looked at his ms in the British Library, and eliminated the mistakes the Victorian transcription had made, matters were much clearer. In terms of new armorial glass dignifying new local potentates, a great deal was going on in the 1490s!

But one problem continued to stand out. Symonds listed no heraldry in the South aisle windows. And when I looked carefully at the tracery in those widows, the penny dropped ... what I (and other observers) had assumed to be part of a late medieval set were nothing of the sort; they were top-quality Victorian additions deliberately made to match the earlier work.

I think it is pretty clear that a major reshaping of Lifton Church was going on just as the Reformation struck; work stopped; within the next century, the uncompleted South aisle was patched up; but not to the best standards. That is why Symonds can give us no information about any heraldic data in those windows. There was none.

Fast forward 250 years ... the Victorians put in good matching masonry and tracery; further evidence that good late medieval work had not survived. 

Because, with the lack of vision and optimism which accompanied the Reformation, no decent work had been put up there to survive!

13 June 2022

The Fall of the Parthenopaean Republic; and King Henry IX

13 June, 1799, is commonly regarded as the date of the Fall of the Parthenopaean Republic. 

Lord Nelson's arrival was a little later; but he was rewarded with the smiles of Queen Maria Carolina because of the resolute way in which he dealt with the surviving Parthenopaean insurrectionaries. His rigour not only attracted Whig attacks in the House of Commons, but even the disapproval of Cardinal Ruffo, commander of the Royalist army. 

Earlier, Nelson is recorded as giving hospitality on his Ship to our late Sovereign Liege Lord, King Henry IX, known as "Cardinal York"; destitute as a result of the Napoleonic Enlightenment. "The old man shed tears when he left his benefactor, and was regretted by all on board, to whom he was endeared by his mild and unassuming manners. Nelson frequently spoke of him with admiration, and said: 'That man's example would almost make me a convert to the Catholic faith'." 

On another occasion, Nelson found himself engaging a Spanish Captain, Don Jacobo Stuart, descendant of the Marshal Duke of Berwick (eldest but bastard son of James VII and II). He was "my brave opponent; for which I have returned him his sword, and sent him with a flag of truce to Spain. I felt it consonant to the dignity of my country, and I always act as I feel right, without regard to custom."

Considering what a dull and stiff old Proddy country Britain was, it is gratifying to recollect how becomingly we acquitted ourselves in shoring up ancien regime monarchies over the water. Nelson seems to have been distinctly more pleased with his reward, the Dukedom of Bronte in the peerage of the Two Sicilies, than he was with his British Barony (later, Viscountcy).

Wellington, of course, had two dukedoms: Ciudad Rodrigo and Victoria. He was also Knight of the Golden Fleece; and Knight of the Saint Esprit. Good going for a sprig of the Irish Protestant Ascendancy.

And he had quite a lot more gongs and titles ... 

God bless and rest Your Graces.

Long live Old Catholic Europe.

12 June 2022


What I find most striking about the liturgical texts for Trinity Sunday is the emphasis on worship. We find it in the Collect (even as mangled in the 'reforms') used in the Roman and Anglican usages, and in the Preface (before it was truncated for Anglicans by Cranmer); come to think about it, this is the point of the doxology (Glory be to ..."). And for some of us there is the Quicuncue vult, the Athanasian Creed which was not written by S Athanasius (in the Pius XII form of the Roman Rite, this is said at Prime only on this Sunday of the year?). The point about the Trinity Sunday is not how Three can be One, but that we worship Father, Son, and Spirit; we worship the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity. Possessors of the Breviary will not need to be told about the insistence of its antiphons upon Doxology: giving glory to the blessed Trinity and the undivided Unity.

For earlier generations, Trinity Sunday was the commonest day for ordination. It was for S John Henry Newman. From his ordination as an Anglican to the diaconate to his ordination in Rome as a Roman Catholic, ordination, for Newman, meant Trinitytide. And how appropriate this was. On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrated the outpouring by God the Father through his Son of the Holy Spirit; through those glorious days of Octave we Alleluiad the Holy Spirit and prayed daily in the Sequence and the Office Hymns for the Holy Spirit to "come" upon us. And on Trinity Sunday, Veni Creator Spiritus was sung over us ... in my case, it was in Christ Church Cathedral just along the road from here ... as the climax of this Octave; the bishop laid his hands upon us "for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands". As in the ancient Western Pontificals, the imposition of hands was accompanied by the paschal commission of the Lord himself: "Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins thou dost remit, they are remitted ...". Sadly, these dominical words have diappeared, with much else, from the post-Conciliar Pontificale Romanum.

I find it impossible to hear Veni Creator Spiritus without memories crowding the tears to the back of my eyes; and there is another detail of the day's liturgy which remains powerfully with me; I wonder if it did with Newman. From early in his Anglican days, he learned to love the Roman Breviary; and he will have known that on Trinity Sunday, the first two readings of Mattins were the passage from Isaiah 6 about the Glory filling the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem, and all the Seraphim singing Holy Holy Holy. You will remember that it ends with the seraph bringing a burning coal from the altar and touching the prophet's mouth; and "I heard the voice of the Lord saying 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said 'Here am I, send me'". From 1871, also this passage featured in the Prayer Book for Mattins on Trinity Sunday; how sad that the Liturgia Horarum knew so much better than to continue this usage.

Priests are given many job-descriptions, because there are many different modes in which priesthood is exercised. But in all of them, the heart of the purpose of priesthood is to give Glory to the blessed and undivided Trinity; to offer to the Father the glorious and adorable Sacrifice of his Son's Body and Blood "in the unity of the Holy Spirit", because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Act of glorification of the Trinity; whatever else a priest has to do or does, it comes second to, or is derived from, the duty of standing day by day at an altar and joining the angels and archangels and all the company of Heaven and lauding and magnifying his holy Name, evermore praising him and saying: Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.

11 June 2022


If you haven't seen Fr Zed's piece, you should. He reports the message of our Holy Father to the clergy of Sicily. Lace; bonettas [sic]; grandmothers ... the whole rich panoply of the Bergoglian Magisterium is laid out for your delectation. 

My fear is that the Vatican equivalent of the Men In Grey Suits will come and carry him off and abdicate him. And we'll never get a pope to equal him.

I suggest you go and read it fast, before the spoilsports claim it's a forgery and it gets pulled off the internet.

PERSONAL NOTE: I've never possessed a lacey alb or cotta. Until a year or two ago I had a very senior biretta, but I think I accidentally mislaid it when I was last at Lanherne ... and I'd had it since I was deaconed in 1967. I f anyone would like to supply these lacunae, perhaps the simplest way would for them to contact Mr Luzar and arrange matters with him.

Eric Lionel Mascall ... and the Trinitytide Ordinations

Today is the Anniversary of the Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood on Trinity Sunday (June 11 in 1933) of the Reverend Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, Thomist, Theologian, Canon of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford, Sacrae Theologiae Professor, singled out by Fr Aidan Nichols as Magister Catholicae Veritatis.

He was ordained in Southwark Anglican Cathedral; two days later, on the Dedication Festival of his Title Church of S Andrew's Stockwell, he sang his First Holy Mass. "It was a High Mass and took place early in the morning, for in those days evening masses were, of course, unthinkable. There was a large congregation and it was a joyful and rumbustious occasion. ... I left the sanctuary to the triumphant notes of the pseudo-Purcellian Trumpet voluntary, and I felt that none of the young men who had been launched on the priesthood that Trinitytide had been given as encouraging a start as I had ... ". S Andrew's was "remarkably loyal to the 1662 Prayer Book", even to the point of having the Lord's Prayer and the Gloria in excelsis ... sung in the 'Prayer Book place' [i.e. after  Communion and before the Blessing].

But of course, "Most of the canon of the Roman mass was recited, but entirely silently". That goes without saying. PF might possibly have called it "laughing at God".

When this form of Liturgy was used, the problem arose of when to 'take' the Ablutions. Consistent Tridentinisers claimed to TARP (Take Ablutions in Right Place ... i.e. directly after the Communion of priest and people). But the Prayer Book itself prescribes taking the Ablutions after the Blessing (somebody once told me that the Usus deterior allows this).

Moi, I rather thought it was edifying to say or sing the Gloria in excelsis Deo coram Sanctissimo that is, in the very presence of the Most Holy. You just had to remember, when it came to the Blessing, to follow Fortescue/O'Connell: "... he turns ... not quite in the middle, but a little towards the Gospel side, and does not fully turn round facing the people, so as not to turn his back to the Sanctissimum."

Ah, the happy days of proper priestcraft ...

10 June 2022

22 Prairial of Year II ...

 ... was the date (=June 10 1794) of the passing of the Law of 22 Prairial, which initiated ... or, if you prefer, heightened ... the Terror. Under it, hundreds were judicially murdered, among whom we especially remember quarumque suffragia petimus, the Carmelite Sisters of Compiegne, guillotined on the 17th of July (their feast day in the Carmelite Calendar, directly after the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel).

During that year of blood, the French revolutionary armies made their second attack on Belgium. Five days after the Dutch and Anglo-Hannoverian armies had evacuated Antwerp, the English Carmelite nuns in that city (together with the Augustinians of Bruges) sailed from Rotterdam on Sunday June 29, the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul, reaching England on the 12th of July, eventually settling in the old Recusant House at Lanherne in Cornwall. (I wonder how long it was before they heard of the martyrdoms of July 17.) Today, a group of young nuns, refugees from the brutally oppressed Franciscans of the Immaculate, have rediscovered the Carmelite charism in that same place.

The Law of 22 Prairial was repealed on August 1; but the baleful influence of the Enlightenment was really only just beginning its career of cultural poison ... which is as lethal, in both senses, now as ever it was.

Perhaps, in this age of fashionable Apologies for past History, the heirs of the Enlightenment Revolutions, led or represented by their North American and European and British Aeschrophants, might themselves care to Apologise for their murderous inheritance. However that may be, I cannot help feeling that today, 22 Prairial, is a suitable day for us to remember the millions whom the Enlightenment has driven to guillotines or death camps or to death by famine or to the slaughter of the abortion clinics. 

This, surely, is the last Apostasy of these, the Last Days ... the dogma that man can remake himself, free from the Kingship of Christ.

Long live Christ the King! Marana tha!

9 June 2022

Chacun a ...

The Wikipedia article about the "Cisalpine Republic" includes a photograph of what seems to me an indescribably beautiful silver coin struck by this seedy (and very temporary) North Italian Napoleonic client state of the French 'Enlightenment'. In my humblest of opinions, it is fine enough to have been forged for ... if not by ... Winckelmann himself.

(Why do I have a weakness for Neoclassicism? I can assure you that the W among my initials doesn't stand for Winckelmann.)

As I admired this coin, I realised that it represented one-and-a-half Librae ... equivalent to 30 Solidi /Soldi. And I recollected the eternal Truth that there are 12 Denarii in a Solidus.

I wonder how many other parts of Old Europe enjoyed a monetary system based on £/s/d, 1/20/12. How privileged I was to live with that system for some three decades! I wonder how the teaching of Mathematics has been disadvantaged by its abolition. (If a dozen apples cost five farthings, how many apples can I buy for £2 3s 2d?)

I know what you're going to say: those even more archaic sums which include 13s 4or 6s 8d are even better fun.

Is it true that the members of the College of Arms are still paid in Marks?


In a collection of much-abraded English coins which I extracted from general circulation in the 1940s, there is a poorly designed (very non-Winckelmann) Gothick silver coin dated 'mdccclxx' with the information "one florin one tenth of a pound" on the reverse. I presume this represents the great triumph of Planty Palliser's great campaign. His statues should be daubed. Gatherum Castle should be sacked. His dukedom should be attainted, if dukedoms are subject to attainder. Death to Whiggery.

I got interested in the Cisalpine Republic when I read somewhere that the reason why churches down the West Bank of Lake Garda have a stall (coro ligneo) round the back and sides of the Altar was to accommodate the Arciprete and the chaplains of the parochial schools and confraternities (of the Most Holy Sacrament ... of the Holy Rosary ... etc..); which guilds, I gather, were disappropriated (incamerati) by ... er ...

When those clerics were not laudably sitting there reciting together the canonical Hours, they were busy educating the young. 

After they lost their pre-enlightenment incomes, I bet they never got very much sight of large silver coins, least of all of any indescribably beautiful neoclassical examples.


8 June 2022


 A Gracious Monarch has just bestowed upon my own ancestral city of Colchester the Title, Style, and Dignity of a City.

But ... oops ... is this not just a trifle ... er ... a tadge, perhaps ... er ... husteron proteron?

Before Her august ancestors sailed from Herrenhausen to England, this ancient city was ... already ancient.

Indeed, it is massively older than any 'United Kingdom'.

Come to think of it, Colchester was already groaning under the weight of the centuries when somebody invented the very notion of a 'Kingdom of England'.

And, penetrating yet further into the mists of Antiquity, we find that Colchester was more than half a millennium old when Archbishop Augustine brought Romanitas back to this island and re-established it in Canterbury. It is older than the Kingdom of Essex and the other realms of that parvenu agglomeration, 'the Heptarchy'.

Civitas ... Colonia Claudia Victricensis ...

So what should have been done?

Colchester should have elected duumviri; and the two of them, preceded by their Lictors and the Fasces, et potestate duumvirili necnon et togis suis induti, they should have marched into the presence of the Monarch, and formally conferred upon Her the Title, Style, and Dignity of Regina Magna in Britannia (confer Cogidubnum inter Regnenses 'Regem' dictum 'Magnum').

It is so much more blessed to Give than to Receive. 

7 June 2022


Not so many years since this University closed down Greyfriars, it is now to close down St Benet's Hall. 

The Order of S Benedict has been bound up with the history of England; since S Augustine brought Roman Monasticism to Canterbury. And it is even more closely bound up with the Kingdom of England: with the great Abbey at Westminster, Shrine of King Edward the Confessor, Burying Place of the Kings of England.

After the Reformation, the last surviving monk of the Marian Restoration of this Abbey formally conveyed the rights and continuities of his community to a group of exiled recusant Benedictines. When, much later, this community was able to re-establish itself back in England, at Ampleforth in Yorkshire, the College of Arms recognised the right of Ampleforth to the medieval Arms of Westminster Abbey (the Tudors had granted a new and stylistically very Tudor shield to the establishment they now called the Collegiate Church of St Peter). 

And St Benet's Hall is ... was ... the House of Studies set up in Oxford by that Ampleforth Commnuity.

Just as a humble row of staircases, now part of 'Worcester College', represented the Benedictine Houses of Medieval England before their Suppression (you can still see the shields of Arms of those Houses above the entrances to those staircases).

There are countries where Christinity is hounded out by overt violence.

England ... and Oxford ... have more subtle, more polite ways of hounding out the traditions which once made England what it once was.

6 June 2022

We took to arms

The Monday of Whit week, Monday in the Octave of Pentecost, was the day in 1549 when many of the people of Devon and Cornwall made quite clear to their parish clergy that they did not want the Government's Protestant service (they likened it to a Christmas game) for a second day, let alone a second Sunday (they had experienced Dr Cranmer's matchless English prose and his iffy theology on Whit Sunday, and they thought that once was enough). In fact, they rose in rebellion (and so did people in Oxfordshire and in many parts of England), and marched with their demands, under the banners of the Five Wounds of our Redeemer. This is the same admirable banner which sometimes flies over the Catholic Chaplaincy at Cardiff.

The Five Wounds are a recurrent theme in the surviving late Medieval decoration in West Country churches. And its Mass was very popular (and, appropriately, is included in the ORDINARIATE MISSAL). But the devotion to the Five Wounds is not a morbid preoccupation, somewhat gruesome and probably lugubrious, with the sufferings of a dead Saviour. In the Ordinalia - the Mystery Plays in the Cornish language written most probably by the canons at the Collegiate Church of Glasney in Cornwall - this is made very clear. The Resurrexio Domini emphasises the centrality of the Five Wounds to the joyful celebration of Christ's Resurrection. In particular, it emphasises that it is by those Five Wounds that the Lord who died on the Cross is discerned as truly risen.

Thus, the Ortolanus, Gardener, who appears to Mary of Magdala in the garden asks her if she would recognise Jesus. She replies that she would - "dhe'n kensa vu", at first sight. Et tunc demonstrabit latus ejus ad Mariam et dicit: "Marya, myr, ow fymp woly! Crys my dhe wyr dhe dhasserghy". Mary, behold, my Five Wounds! Believe that I am in truth Risen! So Mary goes to the Apostles: "y fyrys y wolyow!" I saw his wounds. The motif is also intruded into the pericope about the Road to Emmaus; the two disciples do not so much recognise Jesus in the breaking of the bread as when ostendit eis vulnera, and one of them says "my a wel dha wolyow warbath a-les": I see your wounds, all together, wide! They depart, saying that they have no time, once they have seen all his wounds, for playing - gwaryow.

This is precisely the word which is used to refer to the 'playing place' (plen-a-gwary) in which these Cornish dramas were probably performed. The playwright, I presume, is suggesting, not without some sophistication, that the theme he is presenting dramatically is not in fact a drama but salvific reality.

Much of the rest of the play is devoted to Thomas's long refusal to believe the witness of the other disciples; a tortured agon which is ultimately resolved when the Lord appears to him also: "Thomas, rak ty dhe weles oll ow golyow a-les, yn dha golon ty a grys": Thomas, because you have seen all my wounds open, in your heart you believe.

Medieval devotion was a religion of joy and faith in a crucified Saviour alive now and for ever and apprehended by faith in the transfigured reality of those wounds which are, as the Cornish texts repeatedly emphasise, "a-les": wide open.

5 June 2022


A pious Jew from Cyrenaica, on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, was passing up the Street of the Chain about nine o'clock in the morning, when he observed several little groups of men shouting aloud as if under the influence of some uncontrollable emotion, to the astonishment or amusement of the bystanders. As he approached the first group, he found that these men, peasants from the country, were talking neither the Aramaic he knew, nor the Greek he used on his travels, nor the Latin which was his familiar tongue. The second group were still more of a surprise; one of them, quite distinctly, was talking in the Berber patois he learned as a child from his nurse! 

That is, unimaginatively put, the story of Pentecost.

"How is it that we hear them speak in our own tongues?"--the miracle was discussed, naturally enough, in terms of its miracle value. But the question which suggests itself as we look back on the story is a Why? It is hard to believe that there were any pilgrims in Jerusalem at the time who knew nothing but the language (say) of Cappadocia; hard to believe, therefore, that the glossolaly had any merely practical purpose. Rather, it was a Divine gesture. And it is easy to see that the beginning of a Universal Church was a suitable moment for repealing the curse of Babel, for making men forget their differences of nationality. But the curious thing is that the miracle, if anything, emphasised nationality. Peter got up and addressed the onlookers, presumably in Greek of the koine, and they all seem to have understood. Indeed, the known world of that period was nearer to having a common culture and a common speech than it has ever been before or since. What the miracle did was, apparently, to drag to light these half-forgotten local dialects which Greek, at the time, had almost superseded; to make men Cappadocia-conscious, when for years they had been thinking of themselves as cosmopolites. That, surely, needs explaining, if we can be hardy enough to demand explanations when Heaven is at pains to lavish its portents.

Is it fanciful to suggest that a Church launched under such auspices must have been conscious of a mission to be at once international and national? To override distinctions, without obliterating them? This is, after all, the characteristic genius of Christendom. Mahommedanism appears in history as a culture that subdues, Christianity as a culture that absorbs. Neither Jew nor Greek, neither barbarian nor Scythian--and yet the Church has stood by the cradle of all the European nations and sponsored them; sponsors thenm still. A hazardous, but a Divine commission. 

4 June 2022

Royal Unction

Englishmen, bemused by the coincidence of Pentecost with a Seventy-year 'Jubilee', might be interested by an historical coincidence: after the destruction of the ancient Regalia of England under Cromwell, the only survivors were the bird-shaped ampula for the Oil; and the spoon used (merely silver-gilt) during the anointing.

Pope Francis attacks Saint John Henry Newman

 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 S John Henry, especially in view of the fact that PF himself canonised him only a few years previously. But the solution to this conundrum is to be found in the writings of this great Saint and Teacher himself; he wrote about the Suspense of the function of the Ecclesia docens. Having carefully, a few years ago, read what he wrote, 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.

I have had the privilege of standing in the divided room where, at one end, Newman's books are shelved, and, at the other, is the little chapel where he so often offered up the Holy Sacrifice. I found it immensely moving. I recalled his words " ... nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever, and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words--it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal ..."

I need hardly point out that, in the England of the 1840s, the lections at Mass were not proclaimed in English.

I had not realised that, in fact, each morning Newman was "laughing at the Word of God".

3 June 2022

"The Road from Hyperpapalism to Catholicicism". Read Kwasniewski.

 Such is the title of a two-volume opus by Peter Kwasniewski, published by the admirable Arouca Press

I commend it without reservation. The second volume, the larger one, contains papers and articles which Peter has published over the years, and is the sort of book that you can open at random ... and read ... and benefit mightily from. Or, having heard somebody's name (either of a Goody or of a Baddy!) you dive into the index. (I'm in the index and I'm a Goody.)

Volume I, on the other hand, comes closer to systematic Theology. The structure upon which it hangs begins with subjects such as Earlier Papal lapses. And this is theologically important. 

There are different ways of 'progressing' Theology: there is the a priori, which means starting with basic principles and building stage by stage until you have constructed an impressive edifice as splendid as the Eiffel Tower or the Tower of Babel. 

On the other hand, there is the historical method, which means that you have to be very careful not to argue yourself into the position of asserting theological 'principles' which can be falsified by contradictory historical evidence from earlier in Church History. 

The First Vatican Council was initially driven by the a priori method ("The Lord said so-and-so to Peter and therefore S Peter's successors must logically have the following prerogatives"). But this rather dangerous procedure was controlled and kept in check by the presence at the Council of some very distinguished Church historians ("If you say that a certain type of Papal pronouncement or enactment must be infallible, how are you going to get round the fact that Pope X did Y and said Z and everybody would now agree that that is rubbish?").

This is why the Decrees defining Papal Infallibility and Primacy are so restrained ... why S John Henry Newman had so little trouble with the texts of these Decrees. But he feared the continuing energy of the crazed and rabid Hyperpapalists of his own day, who aimed at "enlarging the province of Infallibility". He was even prepared to write that "we must hope, for one is obliged to hope it, that the Pope will be driven from Rome, and will not continue the Council, or that there will be another Pope" ... which, mark you, at that time meant 'hoping' for the death of Pius IX.

But he did not 'hope' in vain ... and he got that red hat of martyrdom and of empire at the beginning of the next Pontificate!

I think I hear you all clamouring for him to be declared a Doctor of the Church! All power to your collective elbows!! Dottore subito!

And, if you like the sort of mind-games that proliferate at the backs of modern newspapers, here is my humble suggestion for this morning: skip the Sudoku, pass over the Times Crossword, and compose a modern equivalent (within the bounds of decency) of Newman's lucid words which I have quoted above in red!

Difficult, isn't it? But I beg you to persevere.


2 June 2022

PRIDE MONTH and TRANSPHOBIA and Aeschylus and Euripides and Junia and the Gestapo

As many readers will know, Adolf Hitler was unintentionally (and hideously) by far the most significant benefactor of the Oxford Classics Faculty (called Litterae Humaniores) in well over a century. In the 1930s, Oxford became the home to many of the finest Classicists from the German universities: such as Eduard Fraenkel, 'the World's greatest Latinist' who (not without some opposition) walked straight from his Freiburg Chair into the Corpus Professorship. It has been shown that in his monumental Commentary on the Agamemnon, especially in the figure of Cassandra and in the fate of Agamemnon, Fraenkel's 'strictly philological' treatment of the ancient text is in fact constantly marked by the Holocaust experiences of European Jewry (Fraenkel was a Jew). And, in Pfeiffer's History of Classical Scholarship, largely written during the War, Ptolemy VIII, under whom the great men of the Learned City of Alexandria fled in what came to be called the secessio doctorum, is clearly framed as the Type for which Hitler is the Antitype.

It is salutary sometimes to recollect upon ones good fortune; Fraenkel and Pfeiffer had been pupils of the 'legendary' Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf ... what an Apostolic Tradition we callow and naive undergraduates of the 1950s and 1960s were privileged to be admitted to!

And the paradosis continues in strange and unpredictable ways. I once I went to an undergraduate performance of the Hippolytus in Oriel College (the quadrangle used was once the St Mary's Hall of which Cardinal Allen was Principal ... a statue of S John Henry Newman presides over it ...). Rather undergraduate; twenty minutes late starting because they couldn't get the patio heater to light up! But the Greek text was faultlessly learned and vigorously delivered and the tragic conclusion really did grip the (albeit slightly chilled) audience. Oh, the charming, touching innocence of the young ... I bet none of them knew that Hippolytus was also the name of somebody who didn't write the text which Botte and Bouyer so lamentably adapted into that dreadful Eucharistic Prayer, their bibulous pencils dancing frantically as they drafted their opus on the terrace of a trattoria in the Trastevere while the Phaedras of the Night minced up and down before them. And I bet the young people also didn't know, when they got to the line describing Aphrodite as episemos en brotois, that this is a line detested by feminists because grammatically it subverts their daft claim that there ever was a 'Female Apostle' called Junia.

Good thing they didn't know ... the feminist Thought Police or the genderist Gestapo might have demanded its excision ... I wonder what Euripides would have thought of being No Platformed ... no ... Aristophanes would be the man to ask about that ... what a wonderful satire he could have written on No Platforming and Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings and Transphobia and (this is "Pride Month" in Not-terribly-great Britain) Hubris kai ta loipa. What would it have been called? Hoi Eunouchoi? Hoi Malakoi? Lyssanesos? Eschropolis? [I am indebted to the late Dr C S Lewis of this University for the last two suggestions.]

Quaeritur ... if anyone's interested ... the old 1962 film version of the Hippolytus, entitled Phaedra, with the myth transposed to a modern Greek ship-owning family ... Melina Mercouri as Phaedra, score by Theodorakis, you name it ... the Wikipedia entry says it was popular in Europe, but a box-office flop in the US of A. I wonder why?

1 June 2022

Blessed John Storey ...

 ... had been President of Broadgates Hall in this University [the site is now occupied by Pembroke College], DCL and Regius Professor of Law. 

He received the Crown of Martyrdom on June 1, 1571, under the auspices of Elizabeth Tudor.

And this was despite the fact that he had become a subject of the King's Majesty of Spain. He was kidnapped by trickery from the nether lands and brought back to England for killing.

Yes; he had indeed supported the Northern Rising of November 1569, and had urged the Duke of Alba to invade England. 

But the extreme savagery of his execution has been thought to be the result of the hostility of the account given of him in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, first published in 1563. A new edition of this work of Protestant propaganda, nearly double the original in size, had emerged in 1570. Copies were provided for reading in many parish churches; it contained a woodcut to Storey's disadvantage.

Martyrdom has often been the result of the the Christian principle that we may be called to be counter-cultural ... in Diocletian's Rome ... in the bloodstained reign of "the First Elizabeth" ... in the torture chambers of Hitler and Stalin. And the Christian duty to resist what our masters call  'British values' remains valid for us in this Yewkay, where laws [Abortion ... ... ... ] have been passed under "the Second Elizabeth" which even the regime of Bloody Bess would have considered immoral.

The witness of our canonised and beatified Martyrs of England and Wales is as important and relevant today as ever it was.

By the way ... the Father Robert Hugh Benson who wrote Lord of the World; who was the convert son of an Archbishop of Canterbury ... also wrote a historical novel By What Authority, which covers the  kidnapping of Storey. It has been made available by the Cenacle Press, at Silverstream Priory. Also, Benson's The King's Achievemnt and his The Friendship of Christ

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