31 August 2022


 Yes, today is the onomastico, the Name Day, of Fr Aidan Nichols, greatest of the theological writers (and lecturers) of the current Anglosphere.


Readers will remember the highly important Paper which Fr Aidan read two or three years ago. In it, he advanced very strongly the thesis that there should be canonical possibilities for calling into question and examining the teachings of a prima facie heretical or unorthodox pope.

He suggested that this might best be done after the end of a ponrificate.

As this present very prima facie pontificate struggles towards its end, NOW is the time, surely, for all good men and true women to take this important agendum in hand.

30 August 2022


 A forgotten element in Benedict XVI's plan for a growing together of the different liturgical tendencies in the Latin Churches was his hope that the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms would enrich each other.

And that they would do so gently and harmoniously. He had no desire for the sort of  rabid bigotry which has become such a lamentable element in the every-day enforcement of Bergoglianity in its currently vicious and most intolerant form.

Yet such a rapprochement is already precedented.

In the Ordinariate Rite, Mass may optionally begin with the 'old' Preparation at the foot of the Altar. The S Pius V silent Offertory prayers may optionally replace those of S Paul VI. And, at the end of Mass, the Johannine Prologue, 'the Last Gospel', may optionally follow the Blessing.

And these three elements are authorised over the signature of PF's very own Roche.

Of course, even the 'legislation' of PF in no way prohibits the use of Latin. Even for PF, it would be preposterous for 'Rome' to attempt to prohibit in the name of Vatican II what Vatican II explicitly mandated: the continued use of Latin.

Such an extension to all Latin-Rite clergy of the permissions freely available to ex-Anglican priests would be an Enrichment as well as a welcome henotikon.

Legislation to effect this would enable the next stage in the Mutual Enrichment to be gently and christianly discerned.

Early business for the next pontificate?

Malevolent Cupichians would dislike this ... but ... how many readers would lose any sleep about that?

29 August 2022

William Penn the Papist?

In 1687, our late Sovereign liege Lord King James VII and II visited Chester. His host, Bishop Thomas Cartwright wrote:

Sunday 28 August He walked thro the City (the Mayor, bareheaded carrying the Sword before him) to the Castle and heard Mass in the Shire Hall. 

He went into the choir of the Cathedral at nine o'clock where he healed 350 persons. After which he went to his devotions in the Shire Hall, and Mr Penn held forth in the Tennis Court, and I preached in the Cathedral.

His Majesty left the following day for the great and royal Catholic shrine at Holywell to pray for the birth of an heir. He was presented with the shift which his great-grandmother Mary Queen of Scots wore when she was beheaded. He was, indeed, granted an heir: our late Sovereign liege Lord King James VIII and III.

I presume 'healed' means that he touched for the King's Evil.

Bishop Cartwright was one of those Anglican bishops who supported the King's principled desire to allow Toleration to all, Papists, Anglicans, Quakers, and the rest. He published the Declaration of Indulgence, was one of the Commissioners for the reform of Magdalen College; and, after the Dutch Invasion, followed the King into exile. He died in Dublin in 1689.

I presume Mr Penn was that same Quaker William Penn who had dealings in North America and who accepted as sincere the King's policy of religious toleration.

The visit to Chester must have been one of those truly 'ecumenical' occasions which happened in England during this reign, before the Great Treachery of 1688 put a stop to them.

It is surprising how little we hear about this particular little corner of History.

28 August 2022

Viva il Papa!

 As we continue in this fin de Papaute frenzy, I have a constructive proposal to make.

However a papacy ends, when a pontificate does end, I think the Cardinal Protodeacon should appear on the balcony and utter a formula beginning

Nuntio vobis gaudium magnum.

Caremus papa ... 

My idea goes further. Every time a subsequent vote takes place in the Sistine Chapel, the Protodeacon should stagger up to the balcony and announce the Gaudium Magnum. Not until he gets to the verb in the second line would the expectant mob know, each time, whether their Great Joy was based on the great gift of a wonderful new pontiff; or whether they were rejoicing because they were being spared, for a few more blessed hours, er ... 

27 August 2022


Five or six decades ago, it was possible to find women who combined grace and elegance with high intelligence. Such rarae aves are now even rariores; in the street and on the screen are females who have done remarkable things to ... among other things ... their hair. Multicoloured and varied and streaky ...

They have successfully attempted to be memorable.

In Waugh's satirical pictures of the 1930s and 1940s, there is a character, a corrupt member of the upper classes, called Basil Seal. As the urban poor are moved out of range of the London bombing into the suffering countyside, Seal, using the powers of a Billetting Officer, discovers a way of turning billetting into a financially rewarding past-time. Using a revolting and disgusting family called the Connollies, he blackmails his neighbours into shelling out money not to have the Connollies allocated to them. That the eldest Connolly is 'sweet' on him, makes this operation a collaborative enterprise.

"[Doris] disappeared alone into the village, returned with a small parcel, and remained hidden all the morning in the bachelors' wing. Just before luncheon she appeared in the  orangery with her head in a towel.

"I wanted you to see," she said, and uncovered a damp mob of hair which was in part pale yellow, in part its original black, and in part mottled in every intervening shade. ...

"Doris looked only at Basil . 'D'you like it? I'll give it another go this afternoon.'

"'I wouldn't,' said Basil. 'I'd leave it just as it is.'

"'You like it?' 'I think it's fine.'

"'Not too streaky?' 'Not a bit too streaky.'

" If anything had been needed to complete the horror of Doris's appearance, that morning's work had done it."


Has anybody noticed (before me) that what is, in one decade, a risible adunaton, inevitably becomes, nine or ten decades later, solid (if improbable) reality?

It sometimes seems to me that there must be, not one, but (at least) two Providences, each eternally engaged in attempting to out-do the other.

But that's enough Deep Theology for one morning.


26 August 2022

Timothy [Metropolitan Kallistos] WARE

 May the Lord remember his Episcopate.

His and my paths did quite often cross, although I would never claim him as a friend. 

Firstly, I knew him when he was a newly minted Orthodox layman, formed by his relationship with the Zernovs at Number One Canterbury Road in Oxford. This was on the occasion of my first visit there; Timothy had been a brilliant Greatsman and was now a resident student. Dr Z unloaded me onto him to be 'looked after'. Within those hospitable walls one found a culture firmly rooted in Orthodoxy but warmly open to 'ecumenical' dialogue ... the days of the dear old Eastern Churches Quarterly (the youthful Ware put together a complete run of the ECQ by rummaging in the Back Room of the Newman Bookshop) and of Sobornost; Sunday mornings spent with elderly emigrees ladies dressed in black and laden with jewels and prostrating themselves at the Greater Entrance.

These were days when, in the streets of Oxford, one could earn great kudos by mentioning the Cappadocian Fathers and Derwas Chitty (I was later to discover that Orthodoxy could be rather more fun when it had a Cypriot or even peasant dialect in South London along the Camberwell New Road).

Ware's subsequent journey into fashionable Liberalism was securely signposted by the changes he made, in successive editions of his popular Penguin manual on Orthodoxy, with regard to Contraception. He, personally, favoured the admission of Anglicans to the Sacraments of the Orthodox Communion.

When the Church of England was on its way towards the admission of Women to what it termed Episcopacy, the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in England were each invited to nominate a representative to the 'Traditionalist' Committee which eventually, in the cellars of Gordon Square, produced Consecrated Women. The English Catholic bishops gave us (God bless them: this was in the happy days before the oppressive miseries of Bergoglianity) Fr Aidan Nichols. Aidan was always present; always friendly; always the contributer of brilliant insights. I supported (unsuccessfully) his proposal that our volume be titled The Voice of the Bridegroom.

Fr Aidan put endless hours into our project, which eventually resulted in the Ordinariate. Bishop Kallistos, however, was clearly never completely comfortable with us. It was his view that the admission of women to major Orders was a matter upon which "The Church" had never passed judgement. It seemed to me very obvious that he was determined, for whatever personal reasons,  that the question continue to be regarded as 'open'.

He was on one occasion very voluble when I had been ... not quite accurately ... minuted as having speculated at the previous meeting (which he had not attended) that perhaps Orthodox Christianity did not need a strong Magisterium because it had such a strong notion of Tradition.

And he also once publicly attacked me because, when I had fulfilled the role of Celebrant at the Anglican Eucharist during an Ecumenical conference in Walsingham, I had included the Filioque. My naive assumption had been that if qua Anglican priest one had been asked to celebrate an Anglican Eucharist, that is what an Anglican should do.

But I simply adored his gentle, dignified English accent. It was skilfully crafted to identify him as a very good speaker of English in whose accent, nonetheless, one detected traces of an original foreignness. And I once heard him explaining a matter of Orthodox teaching, and concluding: "Well, that's our Orthodox teaching. Now perhaps you will tell me what you Anglicans believe." 

As if ...

He was just about as English ... I nearly wrote 'as Anglican' ... as they come.

25 August 2022

Yeah I Mean Look You Know

Yeah I Mean Look You Know

I heard and watched a person say these words on the BBC. She had been invited to explain that, in this country, according to her view, people who do not speak received Southern English are perceived as less intellectually able. Her view was, is, that there should be no prejudice against people on the grounds of their accent or dialect.

Yeah I Mean Look You Know ...

... is how she started her attempt to convince her hearers. I jotted it down instantly so avoid any risk of the-old-man-has-a-faulty-memory syndrome.

I have no prejudice against people who pronounce, or fail to pronounce, their R. Or against people who articulate some vowels differently. I positively love the way English is pronounced by Jamaicans ... or by South Asians. Or Texans. 

Boss Hog was one of my heroes.

I can also tolerate English-speakers who teach themselves to employ the glottal stop, although I feel disappointed that people who live in Scotland or Northumberland so often nowadays feel compelled to adopt a distinctive linguistic habit common to those who live near the Estuary of the Thames. My feeling  is that they would be easier on the ear if they simply spoke the inherited English of their regional ancestors. But if they must insist ...

The six words with which that woman began her expression of her views ... do they have an 'official' philological describer? If not, would 'starters' do?

Because it seems to me that all of these words are ... analysed functionally ... instruments to enable a speaker  to start speaking. They mean "I am about to utter, so, Little People, start listening". It used to irritate me that our Mr Blair so often began with "Look". Who exactly, Mr Blair, do you think you are to command me to "look"? And I have a prejudice against "Y'Know". If I already "know" X, frankly, I do not need you to tell me that I already "know X". Perhaps I do not know X, and strongly disagree with X. In that case, who on Earth do you think you are to inform me that I "know" X?

But perhaps I am overly aggressive and insistent. Perhaps there are people who need to declaim these formulae before they feel they have sufficiently worked up the courage to Utter.

Yeah I Mean Look You Know.

But do I really have to listen to people who dredge up together every such 'starter' that anybody else ever uses, and chant them all in rapid succession and in my direction? 

Couldn't all these public pontificators, these plus-quam-generous communicators, decide which Personal Starter they, each of them, wish personally to adopt ... and then just stick with that one?

24 August 2022

S Bartholomew's Day

The Day of the Great Ejection, in 1662, of those two or three thousand Protestant Ministers who would not accept Sacerdotal Ordination by a Bishop in the Church of England; a day also to remember because of the concomitant 'sacerdotalising' changes to her rites of Ordination. This initiated an era only ended by the unhappy 'Porvoo Agreement' in which the Church of England herself formally declared, as Leo XIII had declared a century earlier, that her Orders were identical with those of Continental Protestantism (1995).

Granting the views expressed by Dermot MacCulloch about the Protestant character of the Elizabethan Reformation, should we see S Bartholomew's Day as the moment when the Church of England definitively and formally set out upon a course distinguishing herself from Common Protestantism? A course upon which she remained until the events of last two or three decades concluded it (Women priests, Porvoo, Anglican-Methodist Covenant, Women Bishops).

August 24 1662: one of a number of significant steps in the long journey from Elizabeth Tudor's coup d'etat to Benedict XVI's Ordinariate.

Dies calculo notandus.

23 August 2022

Has a pope ever visited Oxford?

Saint John Henry Newman records in Loss and Gain a rumour that circulated in the febrile atmosphere of mid-1840s Oxford:
"Have you heard the news?" said Sheffield; " I have been long enough in college to pick it up. The Kitchen man was full of it as I passed along. Jack's a particular friend of mine; a good honest fellow, and has all the gossip of the place. I don't know what it means, but Oxford has just now a very bad inside. The report is, that some of the men have turned Romans; and they say that there are strangers going about Oxford whom nobody knows anything of. Jack, who is a bit of a divine himself, says he heard the Principal say that, for certain, there were Jesuits at the bottom of it; and I don't know what he means, but he declares he saw with his own eyes the Pope walking down the High Street with the priest. I asked him how he knew it; he said he knew the Pope by his slouching hat and his long beard; and the porter told him it was the Pope ..."

Happy days, when Jesuits were sinister figures of subtle intrigue and stout defenders of Catholic orthodoxy.

Incidentally, Reginald Cardinal Pole had a long beard. What were the ecclesiastical politics of beards in the 1550s?

22 August 2022

The Feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary

You could google your way to a lot of facts about the very many different days on which this Feast has been kept, as 'Gallican' bishops, and, later, Popes, granted it to various places or orders. The earliest date appears to be October 20; a date which enjoyed the favour of S John Eudes as early as 1647. But there seems to have been an increasing tendency to fix it on the Octave Day of the Assumption; or the Sunday within ... or the Sunday after ... that Octave. My 1874 Breviary has it then (among, of course, the observances pro aliquibus locis).

But other old liturgical books, as late as 1957, assign it to the Saturday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It was, I believe, on this day in the old Carmelite Rite.

In 1942, "gravissimas miseratus aerumnas quibus christiani populi ob ingruens immane bellum affliguntur" Pius XII consecrated the Human Race to the Immaculate Heart, and ordered its feast to be kept in the Universal Church on August 22, discarding the old Octave Mass of the Assumption. It will be seen that this represented, in calendar terms, a reversion to one of the nineteenth century dates of the Feast of the Most Pure Heart. But the Bugnini idea of using the Saturday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart was, you will have noticed, not a totally new idea. It was a reversion to the date employed until the middle of the twentieth century for the feast in the days when our Lady's Heart was described as 'Most Pure' rather than as 'Immaculate' and was still pro aliquibus locis rather than universal.

If the EF and OF calendars are one day to be harmonised, as Pope Benedict XVI hoped, it would seem to me appropriate to keep this lovely and Biblical feast on the day after the Sacred Heart, where it was until 1944 and then after 1970, not least because that would harmonise with the 'First Saturday' devotion. It would also emphasise that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are two Hearts which, as we say, beat as one.

The Octave Day of the Assumption, and Maria Regina, could then fight it out for August 22. My instinct would be to call the day by its proper name, the Octave Day of the Assumption, but to incorporate some features of Pius XII's Office or of the Liturgia horarum, such as the hymn O quam glorifica, which dates from the ninth century and was originally proper to Assumption Day itself.

May 31 should revert to being the Feast of our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces, as it increasingly was in many places where so granted by indult, until Pius XII parked Maria Regina on that date. (When Bugnini foolishly transferred the Visitation to May 31, Dom Anselmo Lentini did make a deliberate attempt to keep a memory of this earlier celebration of our Lady of Grace by including, in a hymn he composed for the Visitation, the stanza Teque felicem populi per orbem/ semper, O Mater, recitant ovantes/ atque te credunt Domini favorum/ esse ministram.)

21 August 2022

Country walks

Worminghall (Tolkien??) Church is not without its interest. It shows very early evidence of the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. The East window dates from 1847, and shows Sanctus Petrus, Salvator Mundi, and Sanctus Paulus, with angels holding instruments of the Passion in the tracery. And a 1862 window had its inscription in Latin with the phrase Requiescat in pace.

But most diverting was a brass memorial to one Philip Kinge who died in 1592. From an early age he was brought up in the house of his uncle Robert Kinge, Abbot of Thame and Oseney, a creature of Cromwell, first Bishop of the See of Oxford when the Cathedra was in the suppressed and magnificent former Abbey of Oseney before Henry Tudor decided to suppress it again qua Cathedral and replace it with the rather humbler chapel of Cardinal College in Oxford. Philip was also educated, after his uncle's death, by Lord Williams of Thame (splendidly buried in Thame church). This Lord Williams, one of those who did well out of the Tudor regime, presided at the the burning of Latymer and Ridley in Oxford during the reign of Good Queen Mary; on which occasion he rather crudely made fun of Latymer's dying commendation of his soul to God. I have very little doubt that, if he had not died at the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, he would as cheerfully have disposed (on Government orders) of the seminary priests.

Philip's son John became Bishop of London and a descendant called Henry, Bishop of Chichester.

Such are the continuities of the Church of England ...

20 August 2022


While away from home, I reread General Sir Harry Flashman's account of the doings in Afghanistan in 1842 ... moved by the recollection that this very year is the bicentennary of the birth of that doughty and intrepid old warrior of the Empire.

There was, in one of my Devon churches, a memorial tablet to a young officer, a relative of the squire, who died in the terrible events of that catastrophe. My eye was often drawn to it ... and I still recollect how incapable imperialists are of learning lessons. The Brits learned nothing from the Afghan war of 1842 ... nor, subsequently, did the Russkies from their ill-considered intrusions ... nor, recently, the Yankies. And still we pontificate and interfere. Was it a couple of decades ago when that fool Blair, he of the Weapons of Mass Destruction, kept on about Women's Rights there ... and our up-to-date fools still do. As if the educational affairs of a far off country are any business of ours. And I gather we are sitting on some Afghan money, to which we solemnly and self-righteously proclaim that we won't give them access until they prove that they are Good Little Boys on our terms.

The pomposity, the mind-shattering arrogance, I find quite incomprehensible. 

Some 450 of our young people died in the last Afghan War ... I bet the American numbers were even higher.

And, as far as Education is concerned, what is so marvellous about our educational system?

There were a couple of decades after WW2 when any English girl (or boy) capable of deriving benefit could receive, free of charge if their parents were fairly unmonied, a superb education in Latin and Greek language and literature.

Not now.

19 August 2022

Where should the PAX come?

What seems like a long time ago, Pope Benedict XVI asked for thought to be given to moving the Pax to its 'Ambrosian' position before the Offertory, so that the Lord's command (be reconciled with your brother before you bring your offering) can be obeyed. But I wonder if we are being a bit too quick in assuming that the Roman position is secondary.

Remember Dix's point:  "Unless we recognise the important change produced in Christian theological method by the definite canonization of the N.T. Scriptures, which only begins to have its full effect after c.A.D.180, we shall not understand the second-century Church" [Jurisdiction pp117-8]. And don't ever forget the immemorial antiquity of the Roman Rite, older than any other liturgical tradition, older than the time when the New Testament Canon was settled (another Dixian point). A Roman custom is not to be sneered at for being "late"; it might be earlier than biblicising fashions which started to circulate in the third century. So perhaps the 'Ambrosian' position was introduced later, when people had begun to tinker with Liturgy to make it "fit Scripture" better.

Clergy may explain the Peace variously. They may, for example, draw the attention of their people to the words at the end of the Our Father about the Lord forgiving our trespasses as we forgive the transgressions of others. Fair enough, Father. Edifying. Good stuff. But it's not the (historical) reason why! So I do think that there is a lot to be said for the clergy, at least, themselves to know the real reason why the Roman Rite does things the way she does.

We have the Magisterial authority of Pope S Innocent I to help us. The people of Gubbio (Iguvium), an important town some distance North of Rome, had been nagging their bishop to move the Pax from the 'Roman' position to the 'Ambrosian'*. The Holy Father [PL20, 553 or 56,515] explained to him: "The Peace has to be done after all the things which I am not allowed to mention [i.e.the Consecration] to show that the people have given their consent to everything which is done in the Mysteries and celebrated in Church, and to demonstrate that they are finished by the signaculum of the concluding Pax". And Tertullian [PL1,1171&1176-9], speaking about the ending of the Prayer, uses the phrase "assignata oratione": "When the Prayer has been sealed". The imagery is of somebody writing a letter or an agreement on a wax tablet and then pressing his signet ring down into the wax so as to seal, confirm, what is written. Tertullian asks "What Prayer is complete when the holy kiss has been torn from it? ... What sort of sacrifice is it, from which people go away without the Peace?" And other early writers such as Justin [First Apology 65] and Origen [PG 1,1282] bear witness to the belief that the Kiss "seals" a prayer which has preceded it. So the Pax 'seals' the Consecration and the Oblation. And, importantly, it has nothing to do with being chummy to ones neighbours. It is a sombre, almost legal**, business; more like signing a will or a bill of sale, than like greeting friends in the pub.

If this were realised, there would be fewer complaints that the moment between the Consecration and the Communion is not the right time to socialise (people are right! It isn't!).

I am glad that the proposal of Benedict XVI was not followed!!


*I suspect there is significance in the fact that the Pax was already in the Roman position at Gubbio. The 'Ambrosian' position looks to me like a spreading fad which was threatening an established practice. We get no hint in S Innocent's words of an awareness that the Roman position was an innovation; this would in any case be surprising, given the conservative and archaic habits of Roman Liturgy. And possibly even the 'Ambrosian' position may originally have had the purpose (see Justin) of sealing the prayer at the conclusion of the Missa Catechumenorum, rather than of expressing reconciliation before you make your offering.
** Remember the very 'legalistic' instincts of Roman Liturgy; in the Eucharistic Prayer we actually ask God to make our Sacrifice 'adscriptam' and 'ratam'; 'written into the list' and 'ratified'!

17 August 2022

Newman and Liberalism and Satan in Gucci

When Saint John Henry Newman received the biglietto signifying his elevation to the rank of Cardinal, he made a speech which has often been quoted; and I am going to quote it yet again and not least because it beautifully enunciates the essential continuity of his life as a Catholic with his years as an Anglican, from his Calvinist conversion onwards. 

And, at the end, I will draw attention to a very important realisation of Newman's which is not so often quoted or appreciated because it sits so uneasily with Bergoglian relativism. At the same time, we shall give ourselves the pleasure of analysing the rhetoric of this consummate stylist. So here he goes:

For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. ... the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are a matter of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. ... As to Religion, it is a private luxury which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not intrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

Note the deft, almost imperceptible skill - so characteristic - with which Newman points to us the paradox that this 'liberalism' is itself a doctrine, an imposed and inexorable dogma. But it is his next observation which, I feel, gives us tremendous material for thought; when he adds that:

"There is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true ... justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence .... "

Ah, we incautiously surmise, Liberalism isn't too bad after all; S John Henry admits that Liberalism has its Good Side. 

But no. 

Newman has tricked us. 

He is playing exactly the opposite game. In the spirit of {Locke's} argumentum ad hominem, he is about to pounce. 

Let us watch carefully, and analyse, how this skilled and merciless cat jumps.

Remember that in his earlier years Newman had been preoccupied with the concept of Antichrist. At the heart of this biblical notion, there is a realisation that the greater an evil and the closer it comes to Ultimate Evil, the more sumptuously the Enemy adorns it with rags and tatters of the good and the true and the noble.  

An error will be so much more dangerous precisely because it has been made to look so beautiful.  

So ... Saint John Henry goes on:

"There never was a device of the Enemy, so cleverly framed, and with such promise of success."

Snap! Gotcha! Don't even bother to wriggle!

Despite its superficial charms, indeed, because of its apparent beauties, Liberalism is diabolical, a trick of Satan!!

There is a great warning for us as we, nearly a century and a half later, face the devices of the Enemy in our own time.

16 August 2022

An interesting little old document (2)

At the heart of the Liturgical Commission which produced this document were men whose life had involved the constant use of the Canon Romanus, or sympathetic study of it. Canon A H Couratin; Professor E C Ratcliffe; Dr R C D Jasper; Dr G G Willis. I think their presence largely shaped the structure and details of this draft Eucharistic Prayer.

The intrusive, unscriptural, orientalising, notion that the Holy Spirit needs to be invoked in order to accomplish the Consecration of the Eucharistic Elements, had been popular in Orientally-based Anglican liturgies outside England. But it had never been allowed in England, and it is totally absent from this draft. I must explain that the 'Epiclesis' had in fact, rather earlier, been quite popular in Ecumenical circles. It had been part of the 'ecumenical' and highly influential rites produced by the Church of South India (1954), and the Taize Community (1962). More important, it had featured even earlier in the (abortive) 1928 Eucharistic Prayer. But the popularity of the 'Epiclesis' among Anglicans interested in Liturgy suffered from its having been associated with '1928'. This was because the persuasive and popular figure of Dom Gregory Dix argued vigorously in his highly influential The Shape of the Liturgy (1945) that it was 'unprimitive'. And although Dix was as mistakenly enthusiastic as his contemporaries in his promotion of the work then, erroneously, thought to be the Apostolic Tradition of 'Hippolytus', his own edition of that document argued that the Invocation of the Spirit was not original to it. It is probably largely because of Dix's very determined hatchet-job on '1928' that it, and the epiclesis, never resurfaced in the liturgical politics of the two post-war decades.

Less well-known than Dix, but equally dismissive of 'epicletic' notions of Eucharistic Consecration, was my own much-loved teacher, to whom I owe a lot, the great Canadian scholar G D Kilpatrick, Dean Ireland Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture in this University. The Experimental Liturgy which he published (Remaking the Liturgy 1967), and which we experienced in a 'demonstration celebration' at Staggers (Kilpatrick's own former seminary), had no truck with any sort of Epiclesis.

The Second Series had been drafted in 1965. In that terrible 'year of revolutions' 1968, the Vatican authorised the three disastrous 'Alternative Eucharistic Prayers' which have so blighted the life of the Latin churches, and all three of them in lemming-like harmony incorporated sub-Eastern-style Epicleses. As the Anglican generation which had known Dix, Jasper, Willis, and Ratcliff, gradually passed away, the silly mistakes currently being made with such single-minded enthusiasm by 'Rome' increasingly exercised a mesmerising influence on Anglican liturgical 'reform'. It seemed so much more important to "do Liturgy ecumenically" than to be rooted in the ancient traditions. Thus, and thus quickly, can fashionable liturgical corruptions become embedded in the world-wide praxis of more than one ecclesial body. Accordingly, when a version of the Series Two Eucharistic Prayer was authorised in 1973 with the exciting title Series Three, it incorporated the phrase "Grant by the power of your Spirit". And, since then, this foolish fad has remained a constant in the tedious and endless Anglican parlour-game of composing Eucharistic Prayers. Perhaps it reached its high point in Prayer 3 of the 2004 Church of Ireland Prayer Book, where the Epiclesis is addressed directly to the Holy Spirit instead of to the Father.

However, for the two happy decades 1945-1965, a great classical generation of liturgical scholars in the Church of England had known very much better than did the post-Conciliar Rome of Bugnini, Botte, and Vagganini.

Thereafter, the blind unquestioningly followed the blind, as the silly fellows still do.

15 August 2022

S Bernard says it all

An unofficial translation of a Reading in both forms of the Divine Office for Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12.

From the Homilies in praise of the Virgin Mother of S Bernard the Abbot.

'And', the Gospel writer says, 'The Virgin's name was Mary'. Let us say a few things about this Name also, which is said to mean Star of the Sea, and very suitably fits the Virgin Mother. For she is very suitably compared to a star since, just as without any loss to itself a star sends out its ray, so without suffering any loss to her virginity the Virgin bears a Son. Nor does the ray lessen the brightness of the star; and neither does thre Son lessen the integrity of his Virgin Mother. So she is that noble Star risen from Jacob, whose ray pours light upon the whole world, whose splendour shines before all other things in the heavens above and penetrates to the lowest places below, shining also throughout all lands and warming minds rather than bodies; fosters virtues; burns away vices. She, I say, is the distinguished and special star raised above this great and broad sea, shining with her merits, shedding light by her examples.

Whoever you are who understand that in the floods of this age you are walking among squalls and storms rather than on land, do do not turn your eyes from the brightness of this star, if you do not wish to be overwhelmed by the squalls. If gales of temptations arise, if you run aground on rocks of tribulations, look upon this star, call upon Mary. If you are tossed around by waves of pride, or ambition, or depression, or envy, look upon the star, call upon Mary. If anger or greed or the lure of the flesh strike the poor little ship of your mind, look upon Mary. If you are thrown into confusion by a great mass of sins, or bewildered by a sense of disgust in your conscience, or terrified by a horror of judgement, and you begin to be sucked down by a whirlpool of grief or an abyss of desperation, think upon Mary.

In dangers, in tight corners, in dubious matters, think upon Mary, call upon Mary. Let her not leave your lips, let her not leave your heart, and, so that you may win the help of her prayer, do not abandon the example of her way of life. As long as you follow her, you have not strayed from the path; as long as you call upon her, you are not without hope; as long as you think upon her, you are not lost; if she holds you fast you do not fall to the ground; as she protects you, you are without fear; with her as your guide, you are not wearied; with her favour, you reach your destination and thus experience within yourself how fittingly it was said: 'And the Virgin's name was Mary'.

14 August 2022

Ta Niketeria: GAUDE MARIA VIRGO ...

... cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo! The Theotokos is Joy embodied, because she has trodden down beneath her virgin foot every heresy whatsoever and wheresoever. Her eschatological Victory which enables her to behold the Father with unclouded vision (Matthew 5:8) will prevail, because (and only because) her Divine Son has told us to be of good courage for he has overcome the kosmos (John 16:33). As she once put down the Arians, so today her immaculate purity will put down the errors of those who, reportedly, are plotting in Rome the evisceration of Humanae Vitae

Our Byzantine brethren hail the great Mother of God with the title Hupermakhos strategos; our Great Fieldmarshall; the one who Transcends the Battle. 

It is to you, Unbrided Bride, that we ascribe the Victory Songs!

13 August 2022

Evening Prayer before the Assumption

The Eve of the Assumption is a day to say Vespers from any form of the Roman Rite which precedes the post-Conciliar 'reforms'. So as to have the magical experience of actually beginning the Office with that great shout of triumph and joy suddenly going forth: Assumpta est Maria in caelum gaudent Angeli laudantes benedicunt Dominum. Imagine the day of Mary's Transitus and that cry re-echoing ever outwards among the innumerable circles of the oyeresu to the uttermost extremes of the Universe! Compare that with the pedantic Marian minimalism of the Liturgy of the Hours. You can just imagine those grim committee-men sitting round their table ... "We really had better begin the Assumption by setting it in the theological context of the Ascension of Christ". I gather, incidentally, that the Antiphonale offers as the first antiphon at first Vespers Quae est ista, which at least shows a decent liturgical sense still surviving somewhere!

Even the Pius XII forms still have Ave Maris Stella at II Vespers, despite Fr Genovesi's dominance of the rest of the Hymnody. In Pius XII's time they at least kept Ave Maris Stella for II Vespers on most Marian Festivals. The 'reformers' knew better and they knew wrong.

The real loss in 1951 was of the Collect for the Assmption. We beseech thee O Lord forgive the offences of thy servants: that we who are not able to please thee by our own deserts; may by the intercession of the Mother of thy Son our Lord be saved. (Happily, it survives as an optional collect for our Lady in the Liturgia Horarum.) It was replaced by a modern composition which I must confess to finding inferior to the older one. The older collect emphasises the ancient conviction of East and West that the purpose of the Assumption is that our Lady might intercede for us; it reminds us that only through the Mediatrix of All Graces, reigning body and soul in heavenly glory, can we attain Salvation; it always reminds me of the homilies of the Greek Fathers, culminating in S Gregory Palamas, about the Mediation of our Lady. And of the plea one hears in the Byzantine Rite Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Indeed ... soson hemas ...

12 August 2022

A kind American priest ...

Some twelve years ago, a kind American priest very graciously sent me some extremely interesting books; most of which bear the autograph (and annotations) of Fr J B O'Connell ... a name which appears nowadays sandwiched between Fortescue and Reid. His whose reactions to emerging 'reforms' from the 1940s to the 1960s one could trace. I am not prejudiced against Dom Alcuin; but I would like to think that an immense need might suddenly arise for the 1943 Edition instead of for the Reid Edition which tells people how to use the 1962 Missal.

Tucked inside one of these books was a 1946 envelope, with rough notes on the back, from 'Great Southern Hotels'; the Irish Hotel group which includes Parknasilla, where G B Shaw wrote St Joan and other plays, having reached there travelling bolt-upright in the back of his Rolls Royce all the way through the Rebel County of Cork ... and where my family played golf while I read and watched the otters and kingfishers on a then-secluded ruined quay ... it's a small world ... is that ruined quay still 'undeveloped'?).

One of these gifted volumes bears a stamp of ICEL in its earliest days; it is Mary Pierre Ellebracht's highly erudite and still very useful Remarks on the Vocabulary of the ancient Orations in the Missale Romanum of 1964. I wonder if the Liturgy of the Anglophone churches might have been in safer hands if early ICEL had hung onto their Ellebracht.

Other volumes include many papers on Latinity by the ever-great, ever-admirable Christine Mohrmann.

Over these twelve years, this blog has been very much enriched by that benefaction. If you read this, thank you very much, Father.

11 August 2022

uc uc uc

 "'You are Martin's father, are you not?' A woman beside Routh had turned to him and was looking at him in friendly interrogation.

"For a moment Routh stared at her in stupid panic. Then he nodded spasmodically, 'Yes,' he said, 'that's right. I'm Martin's father. ' ...

"'I saw the resemblance at once. May I introduce myself? I'm Elizabeth's mother.' The woman laughed charmingly, as if there was a great deal of merriment in this fact. ..."

Operation Pax, J I M Stewart, 1951.

I speculatively advance the thought that this usage ... the formulaic rhythmic conversational laugh ... is commoner among women that among men; and that it is an attempt to lighten a statement or observation that might otherwise seem overweighted ... or oversolemn ... or even pompous.

I hear it particularly often at bus-stops among nice old ladies ... exchanges such as:

Sunny day today, isn't it uc uc uc.

And a bit warmer than yesterday uc uc uc.

Bus nearly running on time today uc uc uc.

Not like last week uc uc uc.

Spect it was the building works on Folly Bridge uc uc uc.

Kai ta loipa ...


10 August 2022

PF, Evelyn Waugh, and Humanae Vitae

 Uncanny ... the way my topography overlaps that of Waugh, although not, of course, simultaneously. He was at the College where I spent nearly three decades teaching ... he and I were at the same undergraduate College ... he was married in the Church which is now the Ordinariate Church in London ... he loathed the destruction of the authentic Roman Rite (although he died before the worst of its corruption was engineered) ...

As PF, reportedly, sits huddled over the draft of his intended document destroying Humanae vitae, I recall a jolly passage from Waugh'ss novel Black Mischief, written in 1932, not long after he became a Catholic.

It is situated on an imaginary island in the Indian Ocean, called Azania, which is portrayed as enduring 1930s-style 'Modernity'. 

" ... the Emperor assimilated the various books that had arrived for him by the last mail. Worst of all, the pageant of birth control was proving altogether more trouble than it was worth; in spite of repeated remonstrances ... it continued to occupy the the mind of the Emperor in precedence of all other interests. He had already renamed the site of the Anglican Cathedral, Place Marie Stopes

"'Heaven knows what will happen if he ever discovers psycho-analysis,' remarked Basil, gloomily foreseeeing a Boulevard Kraft-Ebing, an Avenue Oedipus and a pageant of coprophagists ..."

Yes ... even that unseemly preoccupation of PF!!

Black Mischief was viciously attacked by a periodical called The Tablet.


9 August 2022

Roma liberanda Papa Rex (2)

Some little while ago, a kind Canadian benefactor sent me a book ... small, as we say, but perfectly formed ... which set me thinking about the Temporal Power of the Papacy. It was a reissue of a book by Dom Martial Besse (1861-1920) about Mgr Louis-Francois-Desire-Edouard Pie, Cardinal Bishop of Poitiers (1815-1880). (Le Cardinal Pie Sa Vie Son Action religieuse et Sociale; Edition de Chire). I commend it to anyone who can muddle through a little French and is mindful of C S Lewis's wise advice that one should never read another new book until one has read three old ones.

"The temporal Government of the Vicar of Jesus Christ is, in effect, the very nearly unique refuge of orthodox polity (la politique orthodoxe). What a triumph for Hell, if this last fortress of Christian Order (le droit chretien) were broken and overturned." Pie sees in such sacrilegious enterprises as the Piedmontese and Garibaldian aims of uniting Italy "a supreme effort of the Revolution and of Hell to introduce the principles of 1789 in the whole of Italy and even in the States of the Church, to the end that the church would no longer have the thought, the possibility of re-establishing the principles of Christian Order among the nations".

I suppose most of us would defend the establishment of the Vatican City-State as a useful way of preserving the independence of the Church from any secular state. It was certainly useful in WW2. But it had never occurred to me to see in it any deeper purpose. Which means, I suppose, that I am less wise than so many of those builders of Europe, both in its West and in its East, who understood just a little of the meaning of the Kingship of Christ. I gather Cardinal Pie has not been totally forgotten in France; perhaps he deserves to be better known this side of the water. Perhaps Fr George Bampfield and his Papal Zouaves were not so stupid.

Not surprisingly, Victor Emmanuel complained to Napoleon III, who had one of his ministers pass the complaint on to Poitiers, and who spoke personally about it to the future Cardinal. But Pie was not to be silenced; he spoke movingly at the funeral of Papal Zouaves who died defending the rights of the Holy See; he saw meaning in the person of the de jure Henry V.

Who, some people say, could have had his throne if he had been prepared to accept the revolutionary tricolore.

Would that have been a proper sacrifice to make?

8 August 2022

Roma liberanda Papa Rex (1)

The college, founded in 1848, in which I taught for so long was, unaccountably, accused in its early days of being popish; possibly because the Founder Nathaniel Woodard insisted on Confession before the reception of Holy Communion. To be fair, it is true that some of his younger collaborators did go off and become Catholics ... especially a young man called George Bampfield. And he was very popish.

As a Catholic priest, Fr Bampfield founded a number of Catholic schools in which his inculcation of the Faith was mingled with an inculcation of deep personal affection for Blessed Pio Nono. As a young priest Bampfield had been to Rome "to drink of Catholicity at its fountain head" and "had the happiness of kneeling at the feet of Pio Nono". After enlarging his church at Barnet he reopened it on the day of the Sovereign Pontiff's Episcopal Jubilee, and commemorated the occasion in stained glass. His autobiography [written in the third person] relates that "Not only once, but throughout the history of the schools, affection and reverence for the Holy Father had been inculcated and practised continually. So when the death [of B Pius IX] was announced, there was a solemn Requiem in the Church, to which the boys marched in sad procession, headed by the band playing the Dead March in Saul. Even the youngest must have felt that he had lost a friend, and, indeed, this was the truth".

One of the Prize Poems written by a pupil was entitled 'The Prisoner of the Vatican'; and a significant day came in 1874 with "a presentation of colours, worked by the Ladies Howard, sisters of the Duke of Norfolk, to St Andrew's Regiment of Papal Zouaves, for be it known that the boys were devoted to the Pope; that they marched, with band playing and colours flying, to church every Sunday, and that their drum bore the Papal arms and the regimental motto, Roma liberanda, Papa Rex".

You will not need me to tell you that Fr Bampfield had been under the influence of Fr Faber; and how the accounts of his doings bring to life the perfervid papalism of that era. How difficult it is to empathise with it now! To think that there were people who went around advocating that the Temporal Power of the Papacy be defined as a dogma of the Faith! Thank goodness we have moved on to a more balanced papalism!

But I wonder if this is quite the whole story. Perhaps there might be a rather more nuanced interpretation of the narrative.
Bampfield was the model for Fr Barham in Trollope's The Way We Live Now. To be continued.

7 August 2022


For the next ten days or so, I shall be teaching the LMS Latin Course and then visiting Family. Every day, God Willing, I shall put something on the blog, but I shall not read Comments which may be offered ... or emails.

The Eucharist as a societal paradigm (2)

Dom Gregory Dix continues: " But the eucharist is not a mere symbolic mystery representing the right ordering of earthly life, though it is that incidentally and as a consequence. It is the representative act of a fully redeemed human life. This perfected society is not an end in itself, but is consciously and wholly directed to the only end which can give meaning and dignity to human life - the eternal God and the loving and conscious obedience of man in time to His known will. There the eternal and absolute value of each individual is affirmed by setting him in the most direct of all earthly relations with the eternal and absolute Being of God; though it is thus affirmed and established only through his membership of the perfect society. There the only means to that end is proclaimed and accepted and employed - man's redemption through the personal sacrifice of Jesus Christ at a particular time and place in human history, communicated to us at other times and places through the church which is the 'fulfilment' of Him. That is the eucharist. Over against the dissatisfied 'Acquisitive Man' and his no less avid successor the dehumanised 'Mass-Man' of our economically focussed societies insecurely organised for time, christianity sets the type of 'Eucharistic Man' - man giving thanks with the product of his labours upon the gifts of God, and daily rejoicing with his fellows in the worshipping society which is grounded in eternity. This is man to whom it was promised on the night before Calvary that he should henceforth eat and drink at the table of God and be a king. That is not only a more joyful and more humane ideal. It is the divine and only authentic conception of the the meaning of all human life, and its realisation is in the eucharist."

6 August 2022

The Eucharist as a societal paradigm (1)

"In this period of the disintegration and attempted reconstruction of thought about our secular society [1943], the individual's relation to society and his need for and securing of material things are the haunting problems of the age. There is a christian pattern of a solution which is expressed for us and by us at the eucharist. There the individual is perfectly integrated in society, for there the individual christian only exists as a christian individual inasmuch as he is fully exercising his own function in the christian society. There his need of and utter dependence upon material things even for 'the good life' in this world is not denied or even ascetically repressed, but emphasised and met. Yet his needs are met from the resources of the whole society, not by his own self-regarding provision. But there the resources of the society are nothing else but the total substance freely offered by each of its members for all. There, too, is displayed a true hierarchy of functions within a society organically adapted to a single end, together with a complete equality of recompense."

Dom Gregory Dix's words may remind others of my generation of the trajectory explored, under titles like "The Eucharist as a paradigm of a Socialist Society", by Terry Eagleton and his associates back in the 1960s in the Catholic-Marxist periodical Slant.

Dix, however, began his next paragraph with the word BUT. I will print it tomorrow.

5 August 2022

The Abbe Perdrau and our Lady

"The thought of Mary and of the Eucharist easily unite; they are connected with each other, so to speak, and are convertible terms. It is Mary who offers us the Divine Infant of Bethlehem; at the foot of the cross she presents us with the dead body of Jesus swathed in its shroud; at the Altar she gives it to us again enveloped in the Eucharistic linens.

"Is this not what the Church of God is thinking when it authorises us to chant before the Blessed Sacrament the beautiful sequence AVE VERUM: I salute thee, O Body, truly born of the Virgin Mary! Thus, at the moment when Jesus emerges from his tabernacle, the memory of Mary is revived in our souls, Mary appears to us like the monstrance in which the Saviour's Body shines. In fact, the Sacred Host is a present from the Blessed Virgin. S Augustine says so in four oft-quoted words: CARO IESU, CARO MARIAE ... The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary. This Body, this Blood of Christ which upon the Altar becomes our food and drink, derive their origin from Mary. It is the substance of Mary which has become the substance of Jesus. Mary is one of the principal constituents of the Blessed Sacrament; she contributes thereto as the grain of wheat that is sown produces the ear of corn which itself forms the harvest."


A learned reader instructs me that the Abbe wrote a devotional account of our Lady's last days at Ephesus; and that his sister Pauline was a nun who painted a picture of the Mater admirabilis which was much admired by Pio Nono. It shows our Lady, unusually, with a distaff.

4 August 2022


For reasons which are obvious ... and boring ... I performed, in my Anglican days, very few "blessings" of Marriages.

But I did conduct one such event. Having satisfied myself that the couple had aready lawfully contracted the state of Matrimony, I allowed them to devise their own 'vows' for the subsequent 'Blessing' ... subject to my own scrutiny and appoval. (This devisal seemed to matter to them a great deal; I think they saw it as agreeably personal and individual ... unlike the official, formal, goings-on.)

When I saw their draft, I made clear that there was one element that I could not sanction, because it contradicted the Church's teaching on Marriage.

They were surprised when I revealed which piece of wording I deemed unacceptable.

It was the bit where they wished to speak about their love and their marriage being "eternal".

I explained that, in the Church's doctrine, their marriage would terminate when one (or both of them) died.

Matter here for thought ...

3 August 2022

"Only a game"

 When I was in my teens, an England cricket captain, Len Hutton, was made a Knight Bachelor. I well recall the heavy disdain in my Father's reaction to this announcement:

"It's only a game."

Since then, Sport has received an ever heavier emphasis in our public life. I have no doubt that honours galore, like muck being shovelled off the back of a lorry, will be onloaded onto everybody associated with "our" most recent Triumph: the winning by England of the European Women's Footie Championship. Important pigeonholes in Sports Personalityy Of The Year competitions are, one imagines, already booked. Who would dare ... ...

Much of the current hysteria, I quite simply fail to understand. The defeat of Germany by England, we are told, was an immense victory for Women and Girls. I presume these words are intended to mean something objective in the real world: but since both teams were composed exclusively of women, presumably ... whoever won ... it would have equally been a 'triumph for women' ... and ... Freddy Ayer, he say ... what cannot be falsified can hardly be safely affirmed.

And there were oddities ... such as this: one goal-scorer yanked off her shirt and ran around waving it (she was weaing a "sports bra"). A daft commentator expressed enormous pleasure because "She is doing exactly what the men do". I say no more.

But my main point is to ask what this hysteria for Sport really betokens.

What does it replace? 

What cultural phenomena does it express?

What is it hiding? 

2 August 2022

S Alfonso and Monkeypox ... Coprocracy rampant?

Our prayers and enthusiastically best wishes must on this feast be with the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists, and their brethren in New Zealand, who keep alive in our own time the charism of that great Doctor of the Church. I hope that today the Fathers and Brethren may be allowed some festive relaxation of their labours! Ad multos annos!!

Descending from the sublime to the depressing, I wonder how S Alfonso, a magnificent exponent of Catholic Moral Theology, would be ... well, is ... responding to the Monkeypox ... which appears to be another contribution to our culture from such promiscuous homosexuals as might not bother with Safe Sex. 

In a desire not to seem exclusively to condemn genitally active homosexuals, it is commonly suggested that we are all at risk of being infected by sexually transmitted diseases.

Really? A husband and wife neither of whom has ever had intercourse with anybody else? A homosexual couple neither of whom has ever had sexual contact with anybody else? And who have never injected drugs? 

Well, I suppose that anybody can catch Aids if they have a rogue GP who reuses dirty needles or if something goes wrong in the Blood Transfusion service, but what percentage of Aids (or monkeypox) sufferers falls into those categories?

It reminds me of hearing one of the advocates of the Libidinous Society saying that Sexually Transmitted Diseases are a risk for "everybody who is sexually active".

How far is that true for a couple neither of whom has ever had another sexual partner?

According to this fashionable linguistic usage, when a married couple neither of whom has ever had intercourse with anybody else get into bed together and make love, they do not qualify for the lofty modern status of being "sexually active". This is not even new. I recall an American series we had decades ago on TV called Cagney and Lacey in which ... for clarity ... we were informed that one of these constabular ladies was "married" while the other was "sexually active".

I think there should be a Dedicated Title for our elite and dominant Filthy Classes, I mean, for those who operate on the assumption, and are permitted relentlessly to promote in the Media the idea, that  everybody is automatically promiscuous.

 In the spirit of the lexicographical passions of the current pontificate, I suggest "the Coprocracy".

1 August 2022


I reprint, this morning, together with some of its original thread, an old blog post. It has even more force, I think, than when I originally posted it, because the CDF liturgical legislation of 2020 in effect encouraged this celebration among those who, so wisely, worship according to the immemorial Usus Authenticus of the Roman Rite.

Its crude elimination from the Novus Ordo emphasises the de facto anti-semitism of the mangled liturgical mess which PF has had the temerity to describe as the unicus Usus of the Roman Rite.

Well, this morning I put on red vestments and said the Mass of the Holy Maccabees: the seven pre-Christian Jewish brothers whose martyrdom, described in II Maccabees 7, reads so much like a preview of the acta of the Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire.

There is no strictly theological reason why we should not celebrate the saints of the Old Covenant liturgically; as Catholics we know that we are in organic continuity with the Jewish faithful remnant who did accept their God and Messiah. The practical reason why we do not have more 'Old Testament' saints in our Latin calendar lies in the the origin of our Sanctorale in the local cult of the martyrs: they were celebrated liturgically where their bodies were venerated. The relics of the Maccabees, of course, are indeed preserved in Rome. [I preserve, on the thread, a valuable comment appended by a Byzantine writer to an earlier piece of mine upon the Maccabees.]

But this admirable Feast did not make the cut in the post-Conciliar 'reforms'! Interestingly, the post-conciliar revisers of the Calendar have left us an account of their thinking. I translate [my italics]: "The memoria of the Holy Maccabees, although it is extremely ancient and almost universal, is left to particular calendars: until 1960 only their commemoration happened on the feast of S Peter ad Vincula; now indeed August 1 is the memoria of S Alfonso and, according to the rubrics, another memoria cannot be kept on the same day". The revisers know that this commemoration is of immemorial antiquity and amazing universality; they feel embarrassed and sheepish about abolishing it; they can't think of any defence to make for their actions, except to appeal to their own novel man-made liturgical dogma (which is out of continuity with the traditions of both East and West) that you mustn't combine celebrations. The fact that today's commemoration is unique in the Calendar of the Roman Rite had no power whatsoever to influence them. 

The totalitarian inflexibility of innovators! The triumph of blind self-imposed dogma over every indication of history, doctrine, and common sense!

There is a tiny but telling detail I can add here: the 'reformers' left the Maccabees "to particular calendars" ... this what they may have said ... but when they authorised, in 1973, Propers for the Liturgy of the Hours for the Clergy of Rome herself, the city where the relics of the Maccabees rest, they omitted these Holy Martyrs even from that Calendar (Prot. n. 928/72).

Today's Mass makes clear that the Maccabees are truly our martyrs who pray for us. It calls them the true brotherhood which followed Christ; who were proved by the testimony of Faith and found in Christ Jesu our Lord; who confessed the Son of God, whose Faith we hope to follow. Yet they died before the Incarnation! Because they followed the Torah! But Christ is the Wisdom, Word, and Torah of the Father, to whom they, in the only way possible before His Incarnation, did bear witness. (You might like to read, in Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth, the brilliant dialogue between Ratzinger and Rabbi Jacob Neusner, about the Sermon on the Mount.) 

Their liturgical commemoration by us does not imply the novel error that Jews now, after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, are left outside his gracious call to share the redemption and the new covenant which he, the Incarnate Torah, brings to all mankind without racial distinction. It would not now be possible for a Jew to be deemed one of our martyrs because of an exclusive act of obedient witness to what the Incarnation rendered old and "fulfilled" (although S Edith Stein, killed propter odium Iudaeorum is a Patron of Europe). 

But this highly important commemoration reminds us of our continuity with the the Old Testament (just as the Canon of the Mass does in its daily reference to Abraham as our Patriarch), warning us against Marcionism. That beastly heresy was revived by the Nazified 'German Christians' of the 1930s.

How enthusiastic some German Christians seem to be, as age follows age, about clinging to the monstrous errors of the Zeitgeist

Today's celebration also witnesses against any sort of hint, however tiny, of racial prejudice against people of Jewish origin.

In the true descent which, as S Paul insistently teaches, is rooted in Faith, we are The Jews, true children of Abraham; and the Maccabees are among our most glorious martyrs.

Intercedant pro nobis.