31 July 2022

SEDEVACANTISM: only for new readers.

I don't want to bore faithful long-time readers of my effusions ... but (happily) new readers do keep turning up. To these I desire to make clear that it is my policy to decline to enable posts which assert or imply Sedevacantism.

I have often written on this distasteful subject, and my pieces can, I presume, be accessed by means of the Search Engine.

Two very brief pointers.

(1) Sedevacantism is the other side of the same coin as Ultrapapalism (Hyperbergoglioism?) expressed by a number of the undesirables who surround the Holy Father. In each case, there is the same erroneous major premise.

The Pope is a reliable teacher of the Faith;
Bergoglio is clearly not a reliable teacher of the Faith;
Therefore Bergoglio is not pope.

The Pope is a reliable teacher of the Faith;
Bergoglio is pope;
Therefore Bergoglio must be a reliable teacher of the Faith.


(2) Whichever of the many forms of sedevacantism you are tempted by, subject it to the Pope Honorius Test. He was condemned by an Ecumenical Council and anathematised by a successor. But can anyone produce any evidence that the Council, or any subsequent popes who condemned him, or any reputable ecclesistical writer, has ever argued that Honorius had ceased to be Pope at the moment when he acted heretically?

Both the Council, and the Pope who confirmed the condemnation it decreed, anathematised him well after his death. They did not say that he fell from office during his lifetime.

Whether or not you like Bergoglio, he is, beyond any shadow of doubt, the Pope. 


30 July 2022

Mere Christianity?

What to offer when one needs to give somebody a simple explanation of the basics of the Faith?

C S Lewis's Mere Christianity has a lot to be said for it ... has had a lot said for it ... and nothing of what has been said for it will be unsaid by me. When orthodox Christianity stood (although few realised it at the time) on the verge of the apostasies of the late twentieth century, a robust and highly intelligent product of our Anglican Patrimony stood up for it and pulled no punches.

But I want to suggest an alternative ... no; not an alternative to a list which need not stand at just one volume: I mean, an addition!

The Creed in Slow Motion by Mgr Ronald Knox (Sheed and Ward Ltd. 1949).

Here we have sermons on the Apostles' Creed, preached to the schoolgirls of the Assumption Convent when, during the War, they were evacuated to Aldenham Park, Bridgnorth: the ancient Shropshire home of his friends Lord and Lady Acton. Knox served as their chaplain, and, every Sunday, preached to them in an argot which became more and more familiar and intimate.

The published version is dedicated to one of the pupils. Pupils were known to have declined to go to the cinema on Sundays with their parents because they were unwilling to miss Father's sermon.

Lewis was a don and an Ulsterman; despite the the beer-and-tobacco manner, at heart he did dour. Knox, although Scots by ancestry, was much more feline, and as you read the sermons he preached to the girls at Aldenham, you hear ... I defy you not to hear ... the girls giggling at the literary jokes which were not quite literary and not really jokes. Knox could adapt himself to the literary manners of very different styles in English, Greek, Latin.

Believe me, if you disdain these pieces because they were preached to schoolgirls, you will make a gigantic mistake. 

29 July 2022


 Rumours abound ... and have reached me from various plausible sources ... that distinguished members of a particular, respected, religious order in this country have been or are being prevented or discouraged by various means from making public protests against (apparently and prima facie) unorthodoxies recently propounded by the current occupant (tenant?) of the See of Rome.

I will say no more, because I am unable to offer a precise and evidenced account of exactly who is putting what pressures upon whom; and by whose instructions.

Out of the same sense of profound ecclesial responsibility, I shall not enable any Comments offered to me on this subject.

But, if readers do offer Comments, even though I shall not enable them, their guidance may influence me. Think of me as pretty well a tabula rasa.

28 July 2022

Try to be objective

 I have declined to enable an offered Comment referring to some categories of women as "cow-like".

In my view, this term lacks sufficient specificity and objectivity.

It is aso open to an accusation of speciesism.

My preference is for objective terminology and for precise meaning.

I shall also decline to enable Comments referring to some categories of men as "bull-like". As for "bullock-like", I would require documentary evidence of the castration.

Out of sentiment, I would tolerate the use, in comments offered in Homeric hexameters, of the formulaic epithet boopis for particular goddesses. 'Inculturation', doncha know.

27 July 2022

More Moreton

 Fr Michael Moreton, in a letter from which I recently quoted, also wrote as follows:

"I find it hard to believe that there is any way out of the pickle resulting from the admission of women to Holy Orders in the first place. [Archbishop] Robert Runcie once said to me that the only argument against the ordination of women is tradition. But that is the argument. The tradition has never hitherto needed apology for it rests on Christian anthropology which speaks for itself. The issue is simply between Christian and secular anthropology. At present neither view can prevail over the other. It is difficult to see how both can be provided for. ... In this as in so many ways the Church of England is a microcosm of what is happening in Christendom as a whole. I used to think that most RCs were strongly opposed to the ordination of women: and of course JPII has said that he has no authority to make such a change. But now I suspect that a majority of the clergy and laity could easily be reconciled to it. ... It makes me think that the Christian Churches can survive only with difficulty in a modern democracy. Information technology and rampant capitalism have combined to create a culture that is profoundly hostile to Christianity ...

In the eighteen years since Fr Michael wrote that, I think the circumambient culture has become even more resolutely hostile to Christian Anthroplogy. In fact, vastly more inimical. Gender fluidity ... rigid censorship of dissent ...

How wise we were not even to start sliding down that slippery slope.

26 July 2022

Where to be married?

There are proposals to make it licit in these kingdoms to be married ... almost anywhere ...

The old restrictions, concerning the place and the time of weddings, were based on sound instinctive principles. There was a perceived need to prevent the deception and sexual abuse of girls and women by libertines who might persuade them by the simulation of the Sacrament to submit to pretended marriages. And the confining of the Sacrament to specific public buildings ... churches or registrars' offices ... afforded married people the protecion of formal recognition in community contexts. Secured also by the reading of Banns, the publicity of the event guaranteed it against jiggery pokery. This was as true for a couple of peasants as it was in gentle or noble contexts.

Now, of course, such considerations scarcely matter. The need to protect the chastity of women against those who would debauch them is not recognised in a society where consensual sexual promiscuity is perceived as normal and, probably, almost universal.

And the old securities have lost their necessity when divorce on demand is almost universally ... and rapidly ... avalable.

I don't quite know where we go from here. I do wonder how many modern marriages are valid.

And I do think that the Church should preserve the old restrictions, because they are pretty well the only safeguards against the disappearance of legitimate, life-long marriage.

25 July 2022

Unfinished Business of Vatican II

I hope no reader disagrees with the policy of PF's admirers ... and, indeed, of the Holy Father himself ... that the intentions of Vatican II must now finally become effective throughout the Whole State of Christ's Church Militant Here In Earth. Better late than never.

Here are two examples.

(1) V2 emphasised the role of the Bishops as successors of the Apostles. But yet the corrupt old usage of the word "Apostolic" to mean "Papal" still, more than half a century after the Council, continues.

Mary Pierre Ellebracht, in her erudite Remarks on the Vocabulary of the ancient orations in the Missale Romanum (1963) cunningly noticed a shift in the liturgical use of the adjective apostolicus

In some early texts, it was used instead of the genitive Apostoli ("of an Apostle"). E.g., "Apostolicis Iacobi ... praesidiis": literally, "by the Apostolic protections  of James". But this was later changed to "Apostoli tui Iacobi ... praesidiis". 

Both mean the same. It may simply be that use of the adjective appeared more stylish. (Augustan epic poets would tend to refer to "the Herculean Hands" rather than referring to "the hands of Hercules" with a plain genitive singular). 

My own suspicion is that the adjectival Apostolicus was increasingly being reserved for the See of Rome.

We need to put this trend into reverse. Apostolic Nuncios ... Constitutions ... Palaces ... you name it: they should be deapostolicised.

Would "Papal" do instead? Perhaps; but in the earlier centuries every bishop was a Papa; and His Beatitude the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria is still "papa". We mustn't be anti-ecumenical.

Perhaps "Vatican" or "Lateran" would be a sensible substitute.

(2) Dr Ellebracht's doctoral supervisor was none other than Christine Mohrmann. I think there should be a massive act of penance for the way brilliant Catholic women liturgists and academics were ignored in the Sixties (and since). An Instauratio Memoriae Christinae Mohrmann, accompanied by a lock-stock-and-barrel complete reconsideration of the entire corrupt liturgical settlement of the late Seventies, would be in order. Some Grilloids could be ceremonially eundo et lustrando flogged round the city walls. "From the tyrannye of Bysshop Bugnini and al hys detestable enormities, Good lord, deliuer us" could ... by a deft appropriation of a brilliant idea of Archbishop Cranmer's ... be added to the Litanies ... a contribution from the Ordinariates ....

You know it makes sense.

24 July 2022

Credo ...

 A very fine lecture at Gardone, by our Director of Music, David Hughes, contained this wonderful anecdote, which I suspect must date from the end of World War I.

A French train, full of German prisoners of war being sent home from France, stopped at a railway station on the border. By chance, simultaneously, a German train, full of French prisoners of war being returned to France, stopped at the same station.

Feelings were still raw and passions were high and some jostling began among the two groups of repatriated servicemen.

Then ... somebody ... intoned, using the ancient, universally known melody, the phrase Credo in unum Deum

Within a few moments, the entire station was ringing with this glorious affirmation of Catholicism, of supra-national unity and identity.

Couldn't happen nowadays, could it, and you know why.

23 July 2022

horns galore?

 According to Meejah, Liz Truss, who aspires to be our next First Lord of the Treasury, had an extra-marital affaire. She said it had strengthened her marriage.

Sounds to me a very feminine sort of wile, to explain to your husband that you did him a good turn by cuckolding him.

The late Mr Johnson ... er ... ....

Sex, Status, and Ecumenism

 The admirable periodical Friends of the Ordinariate has thrown some diverting light on the events leading up to the founding of the Ordinariates.

Most readers will probably know that there were several movements leading up to that significant event. There was the RITA (Rome Is The Answer) initiative of Bishop Andrew Burnham and two of the other English Flying Bishops; this led to success, and the Ordinariates are the measure of that success. But there was also a larger group of English Anglican bishops, mostly diocesans, who took up a fair bit of Roman time and attention. But why did those bishops draw back from the brink and ... with the noble and distinguished example of Bishop Nazir Ali ... cease to aspire to unity? (Roman sources have indicated that the attempts engineered by John Hepworth were not the most significant factor in these events: "the main factor was a desire to address the English situation").

So what happened to that group of English Anglican diocesans? Friends of the Ordinariate gives evidence that their problem was that Rome would not accept married Anglican bishops as bishops. They could be authorised, like abbots and some monsignori, to use pontificalia; but they would be denied the sacramental reality of the Episcopal Order.

So that's what all that ecumenism stuff was to lead up to! Unlike Bishop Burnham and his colleagues, unlike Bishop Ali, they were not big enough men to sacrifice ... personal status!!!

Their foremost belief was ... Bishops we are and bishops, in the fullest sense, we must be acknowledged to be ...

... and hands off our wives!


Frankly, Ecumenism has always been a seedy plot to destroy Anglican Catholicism within the Provinces of Canterbury and York. Our elite has always made clear that:"We shall not allow anything to impede our liberal Proddy desire for pan-Protestant unity ... so you 'Catholics' are going to have to give up your belief that episcopal ordination is essential for valid ordination to the priesthood. And it's no good complaining that the Methodist use of non-wine in their communion services would render their communions invalid anyway ... and you can stop banging on about Confirmation ... O, and by the way, we shall continue to persecute you for using at the Altar that horrid Roman book ... you'll still be on our 'banned' list ... "

The Anglican Dominant Tendency invented Bergoglianity decades ago! Our resistance against it has characterised Anglican Church life throughout my own decades in the provinces of Canterbury and York. 

22 July 2022

Six of the best?

 For some of us, the feast of S Mary Magdalen recalls happy Tridentine memories of her Church in Oxford during Prebendary Hooper's glorious reign. 

For others, it will evoke hilarious memories of the promulgation by the CDW of a Proper Preface containing a risibly schoolboy howler in its latinity.

Moi, both.

Ambrosian query

This is a request for information from those learned in the Ambrosian Rite. I am myself profoundly ignorant in this area; the only traditional resource I possess is a reprint of the 1712 Ambrosian Missal. 

The post-Conciliar, 1981, version of the Rite of Milan (and of a fair bit of Lombardy) contains a Eucharistic Prayer V and a Eucharistic Prayer VI. These are both (as far as I can see) non-Roman. They are said to date from the first millennium. They are ordered to be used, respectively, in Coena Domini and in Vigilia Paschali.

Some sections of these 1981 Prayers are found, mixed up with parts of the Roman Canon, in the 1712 Missal. I would like to know whether

(1) the mixed 1712 text of these Prayers is found in first-millennium versions of the Milanese Rite (mixed up with the Roman Canon as in the the 1712 Missal); with our conclusion being that the 1981 revisers had the bright idea of liberating these distinctively Ambrosian materials from the mixed forms of these canons; or whether

(2) there are extant first-millennium manuscripts with the texts of these prayers unmixed with the Roman Canon: implying that the 1981 reformers were simply and laudably returning to the evidenced early version of the Rite before it was Romanised.

The portions of the Prayers in the 1981 Missal which are found in 1712 are:

Maundy Thursday: para 77 tu nos participes ... primus offerri and para 81 Haec facimus ... tribuas ad salutem. [Spiritus sancti virtute is added, I presume in accordance with the predictable fads of the 1960s.]

Vigil: para 84 Vere sanctus ... liberaret a morte

I wonder if the prelate who ordained Alcuin Reid uses the Ambrosian Rite ...

21 July 2022

How many Sacraments ...

 You may find (for example, in the ancient Parish Church at Little Walsingham) medieval representations of the Seven Sacraments. But ... I think ... Poussin was the first great Renaissance painter to do a set of seven separate paintings of the Sacraments. In fact ... he did two such sets. And they are both in Britain.

Or rather, they were. But the first set, which the Duke of Rutland bought on the advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds, is a bit on the depleted side. In 1816 Penance  was lost in a fire. In 1946, Baptism was lost to Washington. Ordination has made its way to that fabulous gallery in Fort Worth. And Unction has migrated to the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. Leaving just Eucharist, Confirmation, and Marriage  in Belvoir Castle.

Well, not exactly at Belvoir. Security, insurance, and all that, can make it advantageous for great paintings to live in more institutional contexts rather than costing their aristocratic owners lots of scarce cash. So the three surviving Rutland Sacraments have been living in the splendid gallery attached to Dulwich College.

But this may be coming to an end. I presume that there are some expensive leaks in the roof of Belvoir Castle, because Confirmation has been sold for £19,000,000. Perhaps somebody out there knows whether it is the Americans ... or the Chinese ... or the Arabs ... who ... ... Anyway, the Government has given us until January to match that sum and to keep the painting in Britain.

Poussin painted this set of the Sacraments for an interesting individual: Cassiano dal Pozzo: interesting, because he was Secretary to Francesco Cardinal Barberini. Who was a nephew of Pope Urban VIII.

Yes! The classicising pope who had the Breviary Office Hymns revised so that their Latinity would be worthy of Horace. 

Naturally, there was a great desire in such circles to have the detailing in the seven paintings of the Sacraments classically 'authentic'. Accordingly, for example, in the Eucharist the participants are disposed on couches, reclining as the ancients did when feasting (contrast such more 'medieval' representations of the Last Supper as Leonardo's at Mlan).

In Confirmation, the officiant is confirming a very young child. But, it seems to me, this represents the sacramental sociology of the late Middle Ages, when most non-noble children were baptised very soon after birth, but only 'confirmed' when the Bishop went on circuit round his diocese. My suspicion is that a careful study of the detail in Poussin's paintings would reveal a situation analogous to that of the Barberini hymns: a pedantic passion to be accurate in the classical details, combined with a very natural failure always to succeed in achieving this ... because such detailed knowledge is always only ever on the way to perfection.

Later, Poussin did a second set of The Sacraments. I think (?) it still belongs to the Duke of Sutherland, but lives in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.

20 July 2022

eis anatolas blepsate

In 2004, Prebendary Michael Moreton wrote to Professor Tighe (I am grateful to Dr Tighe for his permission to quote a personal letter) about Dr Uwe Michael Lang's book Turning towards the Lord

"I could not altogether suppress motions of pride in seeing my name in the bibliography; but it is gratifying to see that the critique of versus populum is steadily gaining strength. Oh to think of all the money wasted in defiance of the architectural context! -- not to say orientation."

Fr Moreton was indeed one of the first to prick the balloon of the Face the Folks Fad. He did this in a paper read at an Oxford Patristics Conference in the early eighties. Historians may wonder why Anglican scholarship was quicker than Roman Catholic academe in spotting that the fashion of leering at the laity across a reversed altar was devoid of any sound academic basis. And, indeed, despite the millions of lies or crafty examplesof suggestio falsi told by hundreds of thousands of Catholic Bishops and Priests, swinging the altars round is not so much as given a tiny hint in the Conciliar Decree of Vatican II which deals with the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. 

Why, indeed, were Anglicans faster off the mark than Catholics in spotting that the parishes were being taken for a duplicitous ride by bishops and bureaucrats who didn't really have the faintest idea what they were talking about? I suspect it might have something to do with the Anglican lack of interest in liturgical uniformity. Catholics, unhappily, may have had a working assumption that everybody should be doing more-or-less the same thing at the Altar. And, possibly, they may have had a notion that their bishop could make their life exceedingly unpleasant, if he chose. So when claims started to drift down from a diocesan office that "the Council" had ordered this or prescribed that, Catholic clergy tended to take the claims seriously. Gullible ... er ... simpletons?

Anglicans, on the other hand, have had a long plusquamhonorable community history of filing away carefully in their trashcans all sorts of very important pronunciamenti, especially if signed by the Bishop with all his full and august authority. 

We weren't born yesterday.

Or even in 1969.


19 July 2022

Thank You

 I have now read ... and enabled ... comments which arrived while I was in Gardone.

I doubt whether I shall get through all the emails ...

Grinning Royalties

 I think the noblest coins of the last century were the Irish set. Deriving inspiration from the drachmae of Greek city-states, they offered elegant renderings of such animals as befitted Mr de Valera's rural paradise. Three cheers for Percy Metcalfe ... and, indeed, for W B Yeats.

But, for more than a couple of millennia, monarchs had tended to dominate most such national systems. Thus a potentate could leave his mark upon his subject peoples; thus a People velit nolit could be reminded who their Ruler was. I could give you a Gospel reference ...

England and Scotland did well out of such a culture. Most recently, British coins, during the period 1998-2015, offerred a most elegant rendering of Elizabeth II, by a Mr Ian Rank-Broadley. It stood as proud of the surface as the genre permitted; it occupied as much as possible of the surface space available. And it married ... in my view, perfectly ... a recognisable likeness of a recognisable human being, with an expression of Majesty. you can see the tiny initials IRB just beneath where the neck is cut away.

I do not claim that my own aesthetic opinions are anything better than subjective and personal ... but I much dislike the current bust which replaces it. It shows Elizabeth II grinning ... or smiling ...

Many readers will be familiar with the Preface to Paradise Lost of C S Lewis. He emphasises the adjective solempne  and its noun Solempnitie. He points out that these Middle English terms, unlike their derivatives in modern English, "do not suggest gloom, oppression or austerity". 

" ... you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a widespread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connexion with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a general officer on a ceremonial parade, a major-domo preceding the boar's head at a Christmas feast--all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean that they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age which presides over every solemnity. The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender's inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual."

I think a fair bit of this logic applies also to how Majesty is or should be represented numismatically. 

If we are to bother with Majesty at all ... either on coins or anywhere else ... we had better enable it to be Majestic. 

Even long-standing republics, when they place symbolic figures on their representative tokens, instinctively show them raised by dignity above common humanity.

Not giggling. 

I think the only beta triple plus coin currently in circulation is the 50p of circa 2008, with the IRB Elizabeth II on one side and Britannia on the other. I regard the current chopping-up of the royal shield as a most unfortunate idea.

18 July 2022

(3) Was Archdeacon O'Sullivan a Rough Diamond?

Bishop Moriarty, friend and ally of S John Henry Newman, was a sophisticated and highly educated man. Perhaps that is why he became a bishop ... and eventually Bishop of Kerry [the earlier title for this see had been Ardfert and Aghadoe, still its title in the Anglican 'Church of Ireland']. In 1852, the clergy of the diocese had been asked who would be a suitable coadjutor Bishop, and their response had been strongly in favour of Father John O'Sullivan. But Cardinal Cullen, apparently, represented Fr John to Rome as being crude and uncouth and unsuitable. And so the post went to the then President of All Hallows' College in Dublin ... David Moriarty ... rather than to O'Sullivan. Yet a Protestant writer was later to observe that "in Kenmare the influence of one stout old priest is still felt. Fr O'Sullivan (John). A rough diamond ... [he] defied the tyranny of the [Ascendancy] Trenches both in private and in public and he defeated them so often ..."

A photograph of Fr John suggests that he was was a big burly man with a big burly beard; after his death his parishioners were to put an Altar of our blessed Lady over his body and an inscription indicating the love his people had for this "Scourge of soupers, terror of tyrants, father of the poor".

But Bishop Moriarty did respect the capacity of Fr John to defend his people; he was left for more than three decades as pp of Kenmare and served as Vicar General. And this Diamond cannot have been entirely uncut: he was able to put 'D.D.' after his name ... and he had the title 'Archdeacon', which to our own day survived  in the Irish Catholic Church. He had begun his Latin studies at the age of seven; and it was to him that the Bishop turned for an abbreviated translation of S Robert Bellarmine's Explicatio in Psalmos ... ad Paulum V Pont. Max. ... Romae Ann. M.D.C.XI.

The frontispiece of Bellarmine's Commentary on the Psalms is a fine, if faintly busy, piece of baroque workmanship; "Psalmum dicite Nomini eius" and "Spiritus Domini locutus est per me" appear in a composition framed by Salomonic columns ... emblematic in Renaissance iconography of the Temple where His ineffable Name dwells and is adored and invoked. Included beneath are the Arms of Papa Borghese ... with the information "Cum privilegio Su[mmi] Pont[ificis]".

The 150 Psalms express the continuity of our Faith not only from the Patristic period, but, of course, from our worship as God's people in His First Temple. It has often been felt that our respect and love for the Holy Rosary itself can only fitly be expressed by dignifying it with the title Our Lady's Psalter.

Archdeacon O'Sullivan's translation of Bellarmine is available from 'Preserving Christian Publications'. 

17 July 2022

S John Henry Newman, and the Psalms (2)

 So who d'you think wrote this:

"In the early ages of the Church, the Psalms were so familiar to the laity, that it was found impossible to adopt the better version, made by St Jerome from the Hebrew, for all had the older version by heart. In these days the Psalms are littler used in the private devotions of lay Catholics; and forms of prayer which have no authoritative sanction, and which are often little recommendable either for sentiment or expression, are often used instead of those which have been dictated by the Holy Ghost. The reason of this notable change in the practice of the faithful must be that they do not understand the Psalms.".

No; not Father Faber; how indignantly he would have repudiated these disdainful comments on the sort of Italianate devotions he favoured at Brompton! 

Nor, indeed, Dr Newman.

But the writer was a very close friend of Newman's: David Moriarty, Bishop of Kerry.

Most people are aware that S John Henry had a lot to do with the foundation of a new University in Dublin; perhaps not so many are aware of his wider Irish connections ... particularly in the 'wild' and 'Celtic' South West. But it is remarkable how many of the Ascendancy, Anglo-Irish gentry Newman influenced. For example: the learned, antiquarian convert Lord Dunraven, who was to build the fine Catholic church at Sneem in the County Kerry. 

And one of Newman's closest episcopal friends was Bishop Moriarty.

Moriarty was a remarkable man. He had a lot to do with the erection of a 'Pugin-Salisbury' Cathedral at Killarney, with its 'Close' including episcopal residence and seminary. Perhaps most significantly, he was ... apparently ... one of only two Bishops who never quite got round to subscribing formally the Definition of Infallibilty of Vatican I. He was fairly extreme in his opposition to 'Fenian', Irish Nationalist, violence. He seems, accordingly, to have been the British Government's favourite Irish Catholic bishop. I have found myself wondering if that may be why he was ... as far as I know ... never subjected to bullying by the ultrahyperpapalists who surrounded Pio Nono.

Remarkable, isn't it, that the Vatican I Decree on papal Primacy and Infallibility, which seemed a step too far for 'inopportunist' Vatican I bishops such as Moriarty, now seems to many of us a precious and valued protection against our current papal regime and its excesses!

It all goes to show how extreme our current disorders have become!!

And that we should trust Providence and decline to panic.

To be continued.

16 July 2022

S John Henry Newman, and the Psalms (1)

"There is so much of excellence and beauty in the services of the Breviary, that were it skilfully set before the Protestant by Roman controversialists ... it would undoubtedly raise a prejudice in their favour, if he were ... but ordinarily candid and unprejudiced."

These are the opening words of Tract 75. The Tracts for the Times were learned papers produced by a number of writers just when the Catholic Revival in the Church of England was getting under way. Tract 75 was published on 24 June 1836 ... and I am not absolutely sure who wrote it.

You see, it was drafted by Hurrell Froude, one of the pushy Intelligentsia behind the Oxford Movement. He had been with S John Henry Newman on part of that Mediterranean tour during which Newman had been so ill (1832-1833).  But Froude himself had died on 28 February 1836 ... still only in his mid-thirties. And S John Henry appears to have taken in hand, and published, the final form of this Tract. 

It therefore bears the mark of the early, formative days of that important Movement of revival; as well as of the thought of our great Doctor himself, S John Henry. 

In my opinion, Tract 75 is massively interesting. We may tend to think of the development of the Movement in terms of its revolutionary effect upon Eucharistic worship. I, naturally, remember S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford; its 'Eucharistic Window'; its claim to be the first Anglicn parish church to restore Eucharistic vestments. But the power of the Divine Office appears to have been well under way bfore Canon Chamberlain had finished gradually expanding the red silk on his Oxford MA gown ... an inch each Sunday ... until it had metamorphosed into a red chasuble!

Newman's Oxford hero in Loss and Gain, Charles Reding, had never been anywhere near Catholic worship. But, upon his conversion, when he found himself at Benediction in an unfinished Passionist church in London, "The Breviary offices were by this time not unknown to Reding; and as he threw himself on the pavement, in sudden self-abasement and joy, some words of those great Antiphons came into his mouth ...".

To this I would add a detail from my own researches: a young man called George Bampfield who, being a brilliant Classicist, had been employed by Nathanael Woodard at Lancing College. He had caught Roman fever and was spending time with Canon Chamberlain (who was reputed to be one of the few healers who could cure that recurrent malady). But Chamberlain knew his efforts were in vain when he noticed a totum (the Breviary in one volume) on Bampfield's table. 

Bampfield took himself off from Canon Chamberlain to Fr Faber; and after a few days was present at High Mass on the Feast of our Lady's Assumption. His new friends were surprised to find that this Fabroid spectacle, which they expected Bampfield would enjoy, had quite the opposite effect upon him.

As was true of Charles Reding, George Bampfield was no 'converted' by exotic ritual.

My moral is: the Roman Breviary was and is a powerful Time-Capsule from the Patristic Age, full of the prayers and spirituality of the first millennium. It was an early part of Newman's own recovery of authentic Christianity; and it is a natural part of the Patrimony by which I have been fortunate enough to have been formed. (Yes! and despite the reordering of the psalter by S Pius X!)

And the backbone of that Office is ... the Psalms of David.

To be continued.

15 July 2022

You never know ...

 ... how the bad, the poor, and the indifferent may result in the good, even the very good.

Let's take the monstrously and hideously bad.

~ Adolf Hitler's National Socialism. You may not find this easy to believe, but until the 1930s, Oxford Classics was pretty run down. But the persecution of German Jewry meant that, before long, Oxford was crammed with the cream of the Classics Faculties of German Universities. Since then, it has never lost its hegemony among the World's Classics Faculties. When I came up in 1960, it was still possible to benefit from the brilliance of Edward Frankel ... who ran a seminar on Catullus LXIV and who commented on one of his predecessors in the Corpus Chair of Latin " ... a man viz a remarkable instinct for ze improbable" (Robinson Ellis; the analysis/condemnation is absolutely bang on).

~ Now let's move on to ... the monstrously and hideously bad: the Enlightenment and its apotheosis in the French Revolution and the imitators it spawned. In 1797, a revolutionary government, the 'Cisalpine Republic', was set up in a Brescia 'liberated' from la Serenissima Reppublica. As one does, it suppressed the Religious Houses and did a Henry VIII on religious endowments. One of the communities to suffer was the Brixian House of the Order of Preachers. Unused and derelict for a century, it contained a superb Lady Altar piece in pietra dura by Francis Corbarelli and his sons, paid for by the Rosary Confraternity. When its contents were finally dispersed, Fr Keogh of the Brompton Oratory bought the Altar piece and re-erected it in all its splendour.

It was the altar at which, as I mentioned the other day, I said my first Mass after being received into Full Communion with the See of S Peter. I could never have afforded to go to Brescia ...

14 July 2022


I am glad that Alcuin Reid gave new life to The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, and, moreover, that a new edition was called for. But that highly valuable book is not the only thing O'Connell did. I have before me the 1942 edition of his three volume The Celebration of Mass. (I believe the 1962 one-volume edition has been reproduced. But my own preference is for manuals antedating entirely the long process of fiddling which was inaugurated by Pius XII.)

TCOM contains a wealth of information about how traditional Western Liturgy was done. It brings back for me memories of Mass-practices in 1967 at S Stephen's House under Derek Allen ... the gentle way he checked whether we really had learned off by heart the texts (Suscipe ...) you need to do from memory. I recall one such occasion when I was doing my best not to trip over my new cassock, fresh from Wolverhampton ... what a great day it was when Noel Vasey brought our new cassocks ... invariably, in accordance with the Staggers tradition, with 39 buttons down the front in honour of the XXXIX Articles, so that one could sew the Canon of Scripture or the Royal Supremacy back on when it became loose ...

I said Oremus at the foot of the Altar and set off towards it saying the Aufer a nobis only to be stopped dead in my tracks with "No; you start off with your right foot".We learned arcane mysteries such as the need, when the rubrics say extensis manibus to hold the hands strictly facing each other so that the Sacerdotal Energies would bounce back and forth from palm to palm until, at the Hanc igitur, one brought them down in full force upon the elements. None of this modern rubbish about waving ones hands around in the vicinity of ones ears.

Little did we all know that, in 1967, we were the very last generation to be taught the old Mass as a matter of course at seminary ... until the happy days of Revival arrived.

TCOM has extensive sections on the role of custom in liturgical law. It is of some interest in as far as it rebuts the notion, entertained both by friends and enemies of the Old Rite, that it was a matter of rigid and inflexible rules. On the contrary; O'Connell explained how customs praeter and even contra legem could acquire by custom the force of law, and had indeed done so in SCR decisions.

By the generosity of a reader, I have a fair bit of JBO'C's library. Another friend has told me that, in old age, he would attend the Capitular Mass at Prinknash, kneeling in choir and saying his rosary.

13 July 2022

Mass Practices before the Council

Here is a piece of Oral Tradition which was swilling round the House* in my time (1964-1967).

Anglican seminaries had periodic Inspections; S Stephen's House*, England's senior seminary, was suspected of being very Extreme (rubbish! totally mainstreme!) and the Inspectors used to turn up looking for Evidence of Extremism and Illegality. During one such inspection, they had spotted "Mass Practices" scheduled on the Notice Board, and they naturally homed in like vultures on this event, pencils and notebooks in their claws.

Two seminarians were listed for training. The first was a young man destined for one of the (very Anglo-Catholic) dioceses in East Africa. The Inspectors were convinced, as they watched the tuition, that he was being taught to recite very wrong and wicked texts, probably dating from the time of that Evil Man Pope S Leo I. But they were hampered in their collection of hostile evidence by the fact that he was practising how to say Mass in Swahili.

The second youth was a rather rare phenomenon at Staggers*: an Irishman. He was being taught the full Catholic pre-Conciliar liturgical manners, the complete, formal Staggers Style: " ... then you walk to here ... no no; right foot first .... now raise your hands ... no no, two inches higher ... no no, bow from the neck ... ". But the Rite he was practising was totally compliant with the Canons, rubrics, and texts (1929) of the Church of Ireland .... North End, Black Scarf, and all.

The Inspectors shambled out, shaking their dim heads, dimly aware that they were being taken for a ride.

Ah, happy days in the Church of England, while that body still existed! But take heart: the fun and the merriment have survived into the Ordinariate, together with all the rest of our splendid Anglican inheritance ... even, volens nolens, Dr Cranmer! Mortua Ecclesia Anglicana, vivant Ordinariatus Anglicani!

Thanks be to God for our ever more-than-beloved, more-than-blessed Papa nunc emeritus Ratzinger; and for his Christ-like decision to send in the baskets to collect up the crumbs, so that nothing, not a crumb, be lost. Eis polla ete, Despota! Polla! Polla!
*S Stephen's House was known as 'the House' (to the irritation of some who had been at Cardinal Wolsey's little foundation down the road); or as 'Staggers' (cf. Breakfast and Brekker; Worcester College and Wuggins; Jesus College and Jaggers; the Proctor and Proggins, etc.).

12 July 2022

C S Lewis, and S John XXIII

Since Papa Bergoglio does not believe in making a fetich of Law, I suppose I am Out of Fashion in referring to the questionable training of our Catholic clergy. I refer to the scandal that for more than a generation those being formed for the priesthood were - in flagrant disregard of CIC 249 - not made fluent in Latin. Things have, I know, improved; but how many chaps graduate from seminaries able to understand, talk, and think in Latin?

As long ago as 1933, C S ('Patrimony') Lewis advanced the suggestion that the attacks - even then - upon the position of Latin and Greek as the basis of education, might be part of a plot devised in Hell to subvert the Faith. In The Pilgrim's Regress he reminds the reader that "till recently" members of our society "had been made to learn" these languages "and that meant that at least they started no further from the light than the old Pagans themselves and had therefore the chance to come at last" to saving Faith. "But now they are cutting themselves off even from that roundabout route ... and suppressing every kind of knowledge except mechanical knowledge". He believed that this shift had much to do with the need of the educated classes to cope with the increasing disinclination of the lower orders to work in domestic service, and added "No doubt the great landowners in the background [scilicet devils] have their own reasons for encouraging this movement".

You will not be surprised to be reminded that one such 'landowner', His Abysmal Sublimity Under Secretary Screwtape, strongly advocated the policy of preventing each generation from learning from its predecessors: "Since we [devils] cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another." That is why the demise of sacred languages among the clergy and the clerisy is such a triumph for our Enemy. As we have seen recently, the problem becomes worse when Cardinals, Bishops, and/or their liturgical advisers, cannot parse accurately a simple piece of Latin.

Incidentally, we have here a fine argument for constantly rereading the older documents of the Magisterium ... not because they said every useful thing which would ever need to be said, or said everything in the best possible way, but so that "the characteristic errors of one generation may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another".

Older readers may remember the teaching given to the Universal Church by S John XXIII in Veterum sapientia. This was an Apostolic Constitution about the  necessity of Latin, which the good old man went to all the trouble of signing upon the High Altar of S Peter's itself. Frankly, I think his wisdom is all the more essential during this pontificate in which it appears to be held by people close to the Pontiff that there has been a sea-change which moves the Catholic Church on from the old paradigms.

Here I have a problem. I would love to share all the important bits of this Apostolic Constitution with you, but, after doing the two clicks necessary to bring it up on my screen, I realised that pretty well every word of this document is the purest gold. So ... here are just a very few words in order to stimulate your resolution to do those two clicks yourselves. "No-one is to be admitted to the study of Philosophy or Theology except he be thoroughly grounded in [Latin] and capable of using it ... wherever the study of Latin has suffered partial eclipse ... the traditional method of teaching the language is to be completely restored. Such is Our will ... the major sacred sciences shall be taught in Latin ... if ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for some [seminary professors] to obey these instructions, they shall gradually be replaced by professors who are suited to this task ..." NOTE that he could have left his encouragement of Latin in terms of vague and unthreatening general exhortations. There is, surely, something engagingly raw about his order for the wholesale sacking of seminary professors! Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? When I'm Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, there may have to be some changes at Allen Hall ... (but not including the removal of the admirable Fr John Hemer).

'Liberals', of course, might point out that this document is not ex cathedra (although the Altar of S Peter is not a million miles from the papal cathedra). I agree, because I think the adverb gradually is unnecessary.

As for sedevacantists who deny that the author of these wise words, S John XXIII, was truly pope, well, what I say is Burn the lot of them. It's the only sort of language these people understand!

11 July 2022

Blame Gasquet?

Older readers will recall my distaste at "Vaughan's Folly": the big brass and brassy sheets of inscribed metal on your left as you enter "Westminster Cathedral". Long lists in two columns purport to show you the 'Chief Pastors' of the English Catholic Church matched neatly with the Bishops of Rome with whom they were, one by one andneatly in turn, so inevitably in Communion.

The whole concept was manifestly a vulgar piece of anti-Anglican propaganda. It is riddled with errors and inconsistencies ... the mistakes start, indeed, with Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, who received the Pallium ... yes! You've guessed!! ... from an antipope. When it gets on to the Great Schism of the West, it completely loses its way among the various successions of popes and antipopes and who sent a pallium to which Archbishop of Canterbury.

Another major error is that the Begetter of these lists was under the impression that the Vicars Apostolic of the London District, from 1688 until 1850, were the Chief Pastors of English Catholicism. This is not what I had thought; and, the other day, browsing again through The English Vicars Apostolic 1688-1850, by Fathers Schofield and Skinner (if you don't possess a copy, I think the less well of you) I came across the following:

"[William] Gibson[, VA of the Northern District from 1790 until 1821] hosted a number of important meetings for the English bishops ... at Durham in 1809, 1812, 1813, and 1814. Gibson was aware of his status, for much of of his administration, as the senior Vicar Apostolic in the country. During the vacancies in the Midland District following the deaths of bishops Berington and Stapleton, Gibson claimed jurisdiction, which was confirmed by Rome. In 1799 he not only issued a Lenten Pastoral with certain dispensations from fasting, but deprived Fr John Wilkes of his faculties and wrote to each of the Staffordshire clergy asking them to retract their liberal principles."

Abbot Gasquet (1846-1929), as an ecclesiastical historian, has not enjoyed a reputation for careful scholarship. Indeed, he was not another Lingard, or Tierney, or Oliver, or Rock ... or even another Messenger. He was essentially and at heart a Whig, in as far as he believed and practised a 'History' in which everything had necessarily to lead right up to a desired point of excellence which just happened to be ...  Exactly Where We Are Now. Thank Providence for disposing our ecclesiastical reference points with such pinpoint accuracy!

The embellishment of a Large Church Near Victoria Station with its enormous propaganda assertions that Cardinal Vaughan was the true and only successor ... in uninterrupted and direct line ... of S Augustine, would have enormously appealed to Gasquet, poor poppet. So I wonder ... er ...

10 July 2022

The Pontificate of Pius XII

Fr Eric Mascall interestingly pointed out that the article 'POPE' in Addis's and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary did at one point in its history ... mutate. Here is a passage from the edition of 1905:

It must not be supposed for a moment that the Pope is an absolute monarch. He cannot ... annul the constitution of the Church ordained by Christ. His power of definition is limited by a multitude of previous definitions due to his predecessors, to the councils, to the ordinary exercise of the Church's magisterium through the pastors united to the Holy See. If the Pope obstinately rejected an article of faith which had already been proposed by the Church, and to which the Pope owes allegiance as much as the simplest of the faithful, he might be judged and replaced. 'It has always been maintained', says F. Ryder ... 'that for heresy the Church may judge the Pope, because, as most maintain, by heresy he ceases to be pope'. Bellarmine and Turrecremata maintain that he would cease to be Pope ipso facto; Cajetan and John of St Thomas require formal deposition.

The last three sentences, which I have rendered into italic type, were omitted by the 1951 edition.

Apparently, this passage gave no offence, seemed in no way problematic, in the quarter-century after Vatican I had, under the presidency of B Pio Nono, defined the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his Infallibility. It is interesting to note that it had become too dangerous ... or tactless? ... to reprint it in the pontificate of Pius XII.

It is sometimes felt that the 'problem' of the Papacy has something to do with the Decrees of Vatican I. I have never believed this to be so. It was in the middle of the twentieth century, under Pius XII, that inflated views of the Papacy reached a dangerous pitch. And, as Joseph Ratzinger pointed out, it was in the years after the Council that the erroneous view spread that "a pope could do anything". And now, under Papa Bergoglio, the disease has become even more acute.

9 July 2022

We didn't do it because it was fun, but, when we did it, it WAS fun!

The first generation of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England emphasised the continuity of the C of E with the medieval English Church. Taking the Prayer Book 'Ornaments Rubric' literally, it strove to make churches - and clergy - look as they would have done in 1548. But in the twentieth century, a new aestheticism led the way to a new self-understanding - and a new appetite for Unity. The baroque could express the assertion that the Church of England was not a survival of the second year of Edward VI but a living part of the Catholic Church of Italy, Spain, and France. Medievalism was left (as Ronald Knox explained) to the 'comparatively moderate party' who asserted 'loyalty' to the C of E by fulminating against 'Roman innovations'. (This was the period when Sir Ninian 'Patrimony' Comper grabbed the best of both those worlds with his motto of 'Unity by inclusion'.)

The Society of SS Peter and Paul was founded in 1911 to articulate this aesthetic and this programme. The mysterious and exotic Fr Maurice Child was its begetter, aided by Mr Samuel Gurney ... that name sounds familiar to you? ... yes ... Sir John Betjeman's verses about the hopes of the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the inter-war years - and its anxieties - "And has Sam Gurney poped?" (He never did.)

Its provocative humour was that of the young curates who multiplied like rabbits in the clergy-houses of Anglo-Catholic England. So the SSPP announced itself as "Publishers to the Church of England". It sold "Lambeth Frankincense" and, never inclined to take prisoners, advertised "Latimer and Ridley Votive-candle stands". Child borrowed a church near Regent Street for High Mass on the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, and publicised it widely: "members of the Order need not wear their insignia". A large and inquisitive congregation turned up.

There was, and still is, a distinctive genre of Anglo-Catholic humour very different from the jocosity of RC presbyteries. One thinks of the cutting satiric wit of S John Henry Newman; the comic verse of Betjeman, Farmer, Mascall, Stephenson. 

Come to think of it, that humour, with its bite and irreverence, is what made us so disliked by other Anglicans. They wouldn't have cared what we said if we had been sad, grumpy and moribund; that would just have inclined them to condescend to us. What they found hard to take was that we laughed; and that we laughed at them, the high Protestants, the Lords of the Earth (as S John Henry Newman's irony described them). One could almost hear them murmuring in their episcopal palaces, and in their London clubs "It's the tone that is so objectionable".

As I've written before, if anyone criticises your tone, you know you've got something right.

Ah, the tone of the Patrimony. 

It is my working assumption that this is ... again ... how repetitive Clio seems to be getting ... the basic and gut feeling why the old grumps who flourish in high places in this Bergoglian era, so hate traddidom.

Any good bits above are plagiarised from Waugh's biography of Knox.

8 July 2022

Bring back the hat and improve womankind.

"After leaving the flat that morning Jane also had gone down to Edgestowe and bought a hat. She had before now expressed some contempt for the kind of woman who buys hats, as a man buys drinks, for a stimulant and a consolation. It did not occur to her that she was doing so on this occasion. She liked her clothes to be rather severe and in colours that were really good on serious aesthetic grounds--clothes which would make it plain to everyone that she was an intelligent adult and not a woman of the chocolate-box variety--and because of this preference, she did not know that she was interested in clothes at all. She was therefore a little annoyed when Mrs Dimble met her coming out of Sparrow's and said, 'Hullo dear! Been buying a hat? Come home to lunch and let's see it ...' ... ...

"'You'll have to wait for lunch till I've seen Jane's new hat,' said Mother Dimble [to her husband], and forthwith hurried Jane upstairs. There followed some minutes of conversation which was strictly feminine in the old-fashioned sense. Jane, while preserving a certain sense of superiority, found it indefinably comforting; and though Mrs Dimble had really the wrong point of view about such things, there was no denying that the one small alteration which she suggested did go to the root of the matter. When the hat was being put away again ..."

Ahh ...  the gentle ... and not all so totally gentle ... Lewisian ironies (1943) in this nicely-observed account! But am I alone in musing with nostalgia on the days when women bought hats ... wore hats? Photographs of street scenes from the Interbellum ... not least, pictures from the opening of the (Anglican) Shrine Church of our Lady of Walsingham ... remind me of how vastly such vistas are improved by hats. Instead of all those grim 'Charity Shops' in our now deserted post-Brexit post-Covid High Streets, how splendid it would be if every third emporium were a purveyor of Ladies' Head Coverings ... each with a special mantilla department ...

I doubt if there is a woman in the world who doesn't look better in a hat. Even head-scarves ... And as for veils ... don't get me going on that ... it's enough to make a chap turn Moslem ...

7 July 2022

Transient Futures

In the Sixties, there were liturgical fashions, anticipations of what was expected to become the norm in "the Western Rite", which did in fact not succeed in doing so. I attended Mags in Oxford from October 1960 until June 1964; although Mags was firmly "Western Rite" (i.e. the Tridentine Rite found in the old English Missal), a Curate, Fr Michael Watts ... I think it was he ... had some bright ideas which were thought to be the Way Things Were Going. One such was the wearing of a cope at Sunday High Mass during the "Mass of the Catechumens", after which the Chasuble was used. (Perhaps ... I can't remember ... this meant keeping the cope on after the Asperges.)

All this was based, I presume, upon the incorrect assumption that the chasuble was distinctively sacerdotal and sacrificial ... a mistake from which the older custom of  'folded chasubles' and 'broad stoles' might have preserved us.

Does anybody else recall this passion for Copes at the Liturgy of the Word? Particularly at Western Rite churches like Mags?

About the time I served my first curacy as a Deacon (1967, Beaconsfield), 'experimental' Anglican rites were making the Blessing at the end of Mass optional. With the pomposity of the young, I remember explaining that, after they have received the inestimable gift of Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, to give the laity a sacerdotal Blessing is both unnecessary and the purest 'clericalism'. In fact, I was assuming the 'Enlightenment' superstition of a linear Liturgy free from repetitions or stumbling restarts. Instinctively, the Laity knew better than their "clever" new curate. (Additionally, I learned from this the humbling fact that clergy and laity speak different languages, and that I might just as well have been addressing them in Aramaic.)

Because Rome retained the Blessing, so did most subsequent Anglican usage. Does the fashionable 1960s hostility to the Blessing still survive anywhere?

At Charlestown in Cornwall, and in quite a few places, each communicant placed a host in a ciborium  as they entered the church. 

I once did Sunday duty in a church at Cowes, where a bun of white leavened bread was used ... one can understand the motivation, but the sheer practicality of long-lasting crumb-free unleavened 'wafers' has saved even the trendy, I suspect, from going down that path. 

Trendy ideas did generally involve more liturgical fuss and bother.

That sort of thing ...

There must have been many other little whimsies which were once all the rage, but which failed to stand the test of time.

6 July 2022


 For the next ten days or so, I WILL be putting up a daily post each day; but I shall not be reading/enabling Comments or, indeed, Emails.This is because I hope ... British Airways permitting ... to be on the Gardone 'Roman Forum' Conference.

I take this opportunity again to thank those whose contibutions have helped to enable this year's conference.

Reginald Pole, the last Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury, found the shores of Garda a safer place, during the 1530s, than Tudor England.


[Here is a piece of ancient history, from my days as an Anglican in 2009.] 

Seeing all those nice pictures of the traditionalist pilgrimage to Chartres on another blog (nice except that there seemed to be a TRICOLOUR on one of them) put me in mind of my 28 years in the Diocese of Chichester. We were twinned with Chartres, and from time to time disturbing rumours reached us. Once I was queueing up after [the late] Bishop Eric [Kemp]'s Chrism Mass to fill my stocks when the priest behind me observed: "You know, in the diocese of Chartres, they only have one oil. The bishop says the three blessings over one oil and they use it for any of the three purposes". Dear dear.

They did make Bishop Eric a canon of Chartres, which pleased him a lot. And it was nice to be able to address him as "Monsieur le chanoine". But there was a slight hiatus in his canonisation. They didn't seem to have a proper form in Latin - or couldn't find it - for appointing canons. And Eric rather fancied having something framed to hang on his wall. So, at the request of [the late, great] Fr Roger Greenacre, his Canon Theologian, I composed an appropriate form of words, which was duly calligraphed, sealed, and framed. I ensured that the plain implication of the wording was that this was a transaction between two brother Catholic Bishops.

So, on the front cover of our Diocesan Magazine, we had a lovely picture of Eric vested in the cloth of gold set which the Empress Eugenie gave to Chartres. 

Rumour had it that it was only got out for Anglican canons to wear.

5 July 2022


Sad news ... the See of Ebbsfleet is being handed over to 'Complementarian Evangelicals' (I think this means what we used to call Conservative Evangelicals ... in other words, Anglicans subscribing to the dogmas of Master Calvin).

When 'Provincial Episcopal Visitors' were invented to pastor Anglicans in the Province of Canterbury who refused the ministry of women claiming to be Priests or bishops, these two 'Flying Bishops' were given Ebbsfleet and Richborough as their sees. I thought this was beautiful, because those are both places associated with the beginning of the English Mission under S Augustine.

In other words, these two places were resonant of authentic Roman Christianity before S Augustine even reached Canterbury ... expressions of the Romanita of our English Catholicism.

Eventually, the Ebbsfleet district acquired Bishop Andrew Burnham as its Pontiff. He reorganised it along Romeish line, calling it "the Ebbsfleet Apostolic District".

Among other things, he raised the festival of the Presentation of our Lady, 21 November, to the rank of a FESTUM.

I wonder if we can rely upon the Evangelicals to continue the celebration  of that (very Byzantine and Ecumenical) festival in its enhanced status. And to observe S Gregory as their Patron.

4 July 2022

Obsessive Pontiffs

 There have been pontificates enough in which some Catholics have been familiar with obsessed and rambling popes; Pietro Caraffa, Pope Paul IV, for example, was full of detestation of all things Spanish, and wanted nothing better than to wage war with Queen Mary I and to cite Reginald Cardinal Pole for heresy. 

Adrian Fortescue was among those who felt that S Pius X was somewhat obsessed with the war against Modernism, and might be better dead.

Perhaps some, more recently, have believed that Benedict XVI used his pontifical status to carry on his ecclesiological disagreement against Walter Kasper, investing his own views with his papal Magisterium. Personally, unlike many traddies, I have never felt that Kasper is 100% Bad; when the English Anglican bishops were considering the introduction of episcopussies, he came and read them a very categorical no-holds-barred explanation of what such a move would mean.

But I suspect that, whenever Benedict XVI engaged with his differences against Kasper, very few people simply dismissed his words as another example of poor old Ratzinger going on yet again ... delivering yet another rambling, rabid, bad-tempered, ill-argued diatribe about the priority of Ecclesia Universalis over against Ecclesia Particularis.

This is because Ratzinger was never a one-issue man. And never an obsessive.

When I returned home from hospital recently, and started again taking an interest in the News, how depressed I felt to recognise the same relentless, obsessive, onslaughts of PF against Tradition and those who rspect it.

Popes, poor poppets, should really try very hard to have more than one obsession. 

Could somebody persuade PF to take up Stamp Collecting? Train spotting? Lenition in Patagonian Welsh? 

He could make valued, peer-reviewed, academic contributions to the published literature on Eva Peron's taste in shoes.


3 July 2022

Today's Collect in the ORDINARIATE MISSAL (and Sarum)

Normally, of course, the Sunday Propers of ORDINARIATE MISSAL are the same as those of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. But during the Sundays after Pentecost, which we call the Sundays after Trinity, there is a dislocation, partly (let's not go into all the intricacies) due to the question of whether or not one of the ordinary Sunday masses is used up by the weekdays between Trinity Sunday and the next Sunday; and partly because we have an additional Sunday proper, which we call The Third Sunday After Trinity, which is missing from the Missals of S Pius V and S John XXIII. It does, however, come from the same old Roman Sacramentary sources as all the other Sunday Masses. Here is the Latin original of the Collect, followed by Dr Cranmer's 1549 translation and then by the form this prayer was given in 1662 (bold type for its 'padding').

Deprecationem nostram, quaesumus, Domine, benignus exaudi; et quibus supplicandi praestas affectum, tribue defensionis auxilium.

1549: Lorde, we beseche thee mercifully to heare us, and unto whom thou hast given an heartie desyre to pray; grant that by thy mightie ayde we may be defended.

1662: O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us: and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities.

Perhaps Cranmer's very Liturgiam authenticam preservation of the clause order  of the Latin had, by 1662, come to seem a trifle mannered, if not plain obscure.

Sharp-eyed users of the preconciliar Missal and Breviary may find this collect oddly familiar. That is because the compilers of the ancient Roman Sacramentaries were not shy about using identical or nearly identical formularies on different occasions. See if you can find it.

As I have said before, the marker of these immemorially ancient prayers is their brevity, simplicity, and preoccupation with the most basic needs of the most ordinary Christian life. None of the verbose clevernesses which tempt modern liturgical committeepersons, both Anglican and Roman Catholic. Thank God for them - the ancient prayers, I mean, not the modern committeepersons.

2 July 2022


Mr Christopher Zealley, Archibibliopolos Oxoniensis, has shown me a passage by Santayana ... atheist Spaniard yet 'aesthetic Catholic' and great lover of Oxford ... cited in First Things:

"It is one of the foibles of romanticism to insist on rewriting history and perpetually publishing new views without new matter. Can we know more about the past than its memorials transmit to us? Evidently we cannot know more; in point of truth concering history, any tradition is better than any reconstruction. A tradition may be a ruin, broken unrecognizably, or shabbily built over in a jungle of accretions, yet it always retains some nucleus of antiquity; whereas a reconstruction ... is something fundamentally arbitrary, created by personal fancy, and modern from top to bottom. Such a substitution is no mere mistake; it is a voluntary delusion which romantic egotism positively craves: to rebuild the truth nearer the heart's desire."

1 July 2022

The Precious Blood

 Here is a Retreat Address by Canon Arthur Couratin for Maundy Thursday, as noted by a member of S Stephen's House who took part in the House Holy Week Retreat in 1957.

First Prelude. Picture Lamb of God lifted up on the the altar of the Cross, the full, perfect and sufficient Sacrifice, Oblation, and Satisfaction for the sins of the whole World.

Second Prelude. Want a desire for holiness without which no man shall see God.

First Consideration. Think of Sin (not only as an everlasting power, nor as misleading ignorance, nor as an insult to God, nor as the cause of all human misery) but as a nauseating corruption which defiles and rots our inmost being. Think how it renders us utterly unworthy to approach God in whose sight the vey stars are impure.

Second Consideration. Think of Jesus Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant. See how by His self-sacrifice He sets free his cleansing and life-giving Blood which cleanses us from all sin when it is applied to our hearts in Baptism and in Penance.

Third Consideration. Think of the new status He has given us. We are a kingdom and priests. We have an Altar. We have been made worthy to stand before God and to minister to Him. We possess a new and living way into the heavenly places because we have washed our robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.

Colloquy. With Jesus the Lamb of God hanging upon the Cross. Praise Him with the song of the Angels: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing! Praise Him for His Precious Blood that has cleansed us, pray that He may present us a living sacrifice to His Father.

Hymn: English Hymnal 99, translated by Fr Caswall.

Glory be to Jesus,/Who, in bitter pains,/ Poured for us the life-blood/ From his sacred veins.

Grace and life eternal/ In that Blood I find;/ Blest be his compassion/ Infinitely kind.

Blest through endless ages/ Be the precious stream,/ Which from endless torment/ Doth the world redeem.

Abel's blood for vengeance/ Pleaded to the skies;/ But the Blood of Jesus/ For our pardon cries.

Oft as it is sprinkled/ On our guilty hearts,/ Satan in confusion/ Terror-struck departs.

Oft as earth exulting/ Wafts its praise on high;/ Hell with terror trembles,/Heaven is filled with joy.

Lift ye then your voices;/ Swell the mighty flood;/ Louder still and louder/ Praise the precious Blood. 

Reading: Revelation 5. 

Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open the seals, for thou wast slain and by thy Blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.