31 March 2023

Geminating the Seven Dolours

 The Three Maniacs (sic Bouyer) who trashed and smashed the Calendar in 1969 suppressed the Feast of the Seven Dolours (today), and helpfully explained "supprimitur, uti geminatio festi sub eodem titulo die 15 Septembris agendi".

Goodie! I pray that the same principle ... the Suppression of Geminatio ... will soon be applied to the vile Pseudo-Hippolytan Eucharistic Prayer II. Indeed, Geminatio is such a horrible crime, that I do hope PF will rise from his hospital bed and do some more banning of this particular Geminatio before we get into Holy Week. Because Holy Week is a period when overworked 'mainstream' presbyters (I think in future I may call them Geminators) may be tempted to use ... for their umpteenth thousandth time ... this nasty (but, of course, both Valid and Licit) formulary.

Our Blessed Lady ... so very much like a woman ... does tend ... evasively ... to slip back in even where it has been made perfectly clear to her that she simply is not wanted. So, in one of the post 1969 editions of the Roman Missal, a Collect for the Dolorosa edged past the Swiss guards and ... Yes!!! ... back into the texts offered for today, Friday in Passion Week. Crafty!

Our beloved and sorrowful Mother ... hold onto your hats ... has actually done something even worse.  In the Ordinariate Missal (promulgated 2015) the entire (1727) Baroque Mass for Our Lady of Sorrows (headed "St Mary in Passiontide"; "Mary at the Cross" was Bishop David Silk's brilliant englishing of her title) has displaced today's Lenten ferial Mass. There isn't even an un-Marian alternative printed for use by the anti-geminating community!!!

For heaven's sake ... nobody tell Uncle Arthur ...

29 March 2023

Christine Mohrmann ... de Saussure ...

Christine Mohrmann followed de Saussure and Bally in pointing out that "language by no means serves only to communicate actual facts but is also ... a medium of expression. Whereas ... language used purely as a means of communication normally strives towards a certain degree of efficiency, which results in linguistic simplification and standardisation, language as expression usually shows a tendency to become richer and more subtle. It aims at becoming, by every possible means, more expressive and more picturesque, and it may try to attain this heightened power of expression ... by the preservation of antiquated elements already abandoned by the language as communication". It is on these grounds that she resisted the introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy (except for the readings); modern languages, in her view, develop their efficiency as media of communication, but this makes them less suitable for sacred stylisation.

It was not until 1997 that the Magisterium of the Latin Church caught up with the questions Mohrmann had posed, and in an admirable instruction Liturgiam authenticam (hysterically vilified by the illiterate vested interests) called for nothing less than the creation of new sacral vernaculars. Unhappily, this document is now very much under a cloud. But here is one of its points which have lasting validity, irrespective of the views of the current degenerate Vatican regime.

"If, indeed, words or phrases can sometimes be employed in liturgical texts which differ from common and everyday speech, this in fact quite often actually leads to the texts being more memorable and more effective in expressing heavenly things. So it appears that observance of the principles explained in this Instruction tends to the gradual production in every common language of a sacred style, which also is to be recognised as the correct dialect for worship (sermo proprie liturgicus). So it can happen that a certain way of speaking which might seem a trifle obsolete in everyday speech, can be preserved in a liturgical context". 

Perhaps those of us who are not ashamed to be traddiish should do our bit to keep alive the authority of Liturgiam Authenticam.

28 March 2023

Bredon; and Catholic Taste (2)

 "The [Catholic] Cathedral house proved to be a good specimen of that curious municipal Gothic, which is the curse of all institutions founded in 1850 ... The large room into which Bredon was shown was at least equally cheerless. It was half-panelled in atrocious pitch-pine, and it had heavy, ecclesiastical-looking chairs which discouraged all attempts at repose. There was a gas stove in the fireplace. Previous occupants of the See of Pullford lined the walls, in the worst possible style of portraiture. A plaster Madonna, of the kind that is successively exiled from the church to the sacristy, and from the sacristy to the presbytery, at one caught and repelled the eye. In point of fact the room is never used, except by the Canons of Pullford when they vest for the chapter Mass, and by the strange visitor who looks a little too important to be left in the waiting-room downstairs."

27 March 2023

Dr Arnold castrated

"Bredon [a nominal Anglican faced with meeting a Catholic Bishop] tried to rearrange his ideas about Bishops. He remembered the ceremony of being confirmed at school; a long, tiresome service, with an interminable address, in which he and fifty of his compeers were adjured to play for their side. He remembered another bishop, met in a friend's rooms at Oxford; a hand laid on hs shoulder, and an intolerably earnest voice asking him whether he had ever thought of taking Holy Orders."

A gloriously neat description of Public School Religion, with its pathetic attempt to combine bankrupt fag-end folk-Protestantism with those remnants of the Muscular Christianity which Eric Kemp, quondam Bishop of Chichester, used to describe as "the religion often linked with the name of Arnold".

On meeting the Catholic Bishop, Bredon felt that "You did not feel that there was the slightest danger of being asked whether you meant to take orders. You did not catch the smallest hint of policy or of priestcraft."

There is a jolly tale of Dom Gregory Dix arranging an Anglican Confirmation service, with a bishop who believed in "Making The Clergy Stick To the Prayer Book". Seriatim Dix explained that they need not waste time selecting hymns, because there would be no hymns; that there would be no Address ...

Eventually (most Anglican bishops were not and are not very bright) the poor old fool realised that Dix, in a neat (Lockean) Argumentum ad hominem, was drawing his attention to the fact that that the lawful Prayer Book Confirmation Service contained none of those elements which the right reverend nitwit had been accustomed illegally to interpolate. 

Collapse of Gaitered Party, as Punch might have put it. 

26 March 2023

Ordo ... twenty five years

The Ordo on my desk has these words: 

Dies Anniversarius Reverendissimi Alfredi Newman Canonici  Gilbey, Praelati, 1998.

Sandford and Faber

Six or seven years ago, the archivist of Sandford upon Thames Church discovered, in a mouldering chest, a Prayer Book and a Bible inscribed by Fr Faber as given to the church while he was serving there.

And they conjecture that their stone altar, very like that at nearby Littlemore, is ascribed to Faber.

This puts me in mind of Chapter 2 of Loss and Gain, Newman's novel of Tractarian life in Oxford back in the 1840s. Here Bateman, a young Ritualist clergyman, proudly shares his pride in the renovation of a country church near Oxford ... which is in the very latest Ritualist style (even though he does not anticipate it having an actual congregation). 'It was as pretty a building as Bateman had led them to expect, and very prettily done up too. There was a stone altar in the best style ...'. ''We offer our Mass every Sunday, according to the rite of the English Cyprian, as honest Peter Heylin calls him; what would you have more?'' explains Bateman; an explanation which mystifies his hearers all the more. 

Not that I am suggesting that Loss and Gain is satirising Faber; the details do not fit. After all, Faber, unlike Bateman did enter into Full Communion. Si monumentum requiris, vade ad Bromptonem et circumspice, preferably at a time when the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite is in use (as it is daily) in that marvellous Church.

In any case, Loss and Gain is not that sort of book. Its relevance lies mainly in the accuracy with which it catches the fashion of a particular moment in English Church life.

Mind you, if Fr Faber did put that stone altar into Sandford church in 1839, it must have been one of the earliest to enter an Anglican church after the 'Reformation'.

25 March 2023

Archbishop Lefebvre, the man who believed in Truth, the Apostle and Saint of PARRHESIA.

 Today, as well as being the day when the Theotokos by her fiat became Co-Redemptrix, is the obitus of Marcel Lefebvre. I was once quite critical of this French Archbishop.

As the years have passed, it has become increasingly clear to me what a very great man he was ... I should say is.

Why? Not because he got every detail right. I am not convinced that he was right to make the 1962 rite normative in his foundations. And I note that he changed the Rite he used whenever the Vatican changed. He adopted the ritual changes made in the mid-1960s. There is evidence that he concelebrated versus populum.

Nor did he refuse to subscribe to the Decrees of Vatican II. He signed them all. Without exception.

The fine biography of him by Bishop Tissier evidentially establishes all these points.

So how should we estimate his greatness?

He was a man of the Church. And this meant that he was not quick to realise it when other churchmen told him lies. Honest himself, he was slow to recognise the warm, if synthetic, sincerity on the face of a crook who is just about to tell you a pack of lies.

Gradually, however, he did come to understand the mendacity which characterised the post-Conciliar years. And, discovering this, he reacted accordingly. Realising the fact that he was surrounded by liars had the effect, I believe, of putting him in a place of glorious liberty in which he was free to live in his life the Biblical duty of PARRHESIA.

Parrhesia is his message and his sacred bequest.

We, too, have lived through a time of lies and of liars. A liturgical and then a doctrinal example: we have been constantly told that the post-Conciliar liturgical revolution as it emerged was mandated by the Council. It wasn't. In important respects, it contradicted the Council.

People have asserted that we ought to consider ourselves obliged to refrain from preaching Christ to Jews, because Nostra Aetate condemned Supersessionism and declared them still to have their own separate and saving dispensation. This is not true. The Council did nothing remotely of this sort.

And we are still living in a time of lies: lies galore; lies proliferating; lies shameless; lies Roman. A document from the Prefect of the Worship dicastery assured us that the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite was "abrogated by S Paul VI". In fact, it has never been abrogated. But the convenient but blatant lie is now made the basis of a world-wide campaign of persecution.

Lefebvre learned by his own lived experience about the generous mendacity of the ecclesial culture that surrounded him; and he reacted courageously.

This is God's message to us, also. It is our duty ... quite a simple obligation ... to declare THAT IS A LIE, when pompous and elevated bullies summon us to submit to their untruths.

24 March 2023


So here come those lovely Passiontide hymns, which are permitted in the Liturgia Horarum for this coming week even though it has officially abolished Passiontide.

Having a powerful and well-connected Mother Superior in your patch is not every cleric's preference, especially if she's inclined to start the day after Mass by just happening to mention 'By the way, father, my friend the Emperor of Constantinople is sending me a nice big relic of the True Cross. Will you be around? Could you just knock up a new hymn or two for the occasion?' But I jest: undoubtedly Venantius Fortunatus, the bishop of Poitiers who died in 609, was just as excited by the prospect of such a glamorous relic as was the Rt Revd and Rt Royal Lady Abbess Radegunde herself.

Sing my tongue the glorious battle, sing the ending of the fray,
now above the Cross, the trophy, sound the loud triumphant lay;
tell how Christ, the world's Redeemer, as a Victim won the day.
What a wonderful expression of joy at the thought of Jesus' Crucifixion. Some people used to say that only the Orthodox really understand S John's perception that Jesus' death on the Cross is the high triumphant moment of his glory (doxa). But this hymn (Pange lingua) and its twin (Vexilla regis) coming from so very Western a Christian as Venantius prove what nonsense that is.

Triumphant, yes, but before that word Venantius uses another: a Greek word, tropaion. This refers to what you did after winning a glorious battle: first you found a tree; then you lopped its branches off; and you clad it with armour stripped from your defeated foes. Clever of Venantius, to see the Cross as a Victory Tree, and neat to think of the diabolical powers as stripped naked in defeat. Next we have a Latin word, Triumph, which refers to the boisterous procession into Rome after a victory: the Triumphator, his face painted red so that he looked like Juppiter, processed in his chariot with his legions following and singing. By the chariot wheels marched the leaders of the defeated enemy; they were facing a decisive end in a dark little cellar on the Capitoline Hill (you'll remember that Cleopatra didn't look forward to making her last public appearance in such a way). And what the soldiers chanted was the Triumphant Lay: io triumphe io triumphe. Venantius neatly suggests that we Christans have our own Triumphant Lay: immolatus vicerit; The Sacrificial Victim has won the day. An oxymoron: sacrificial victims usually ended up dead rather than in glory. Or you could call it a paradox; G K Chesterton rightly observed that it's not easy to be a Christian if you can't take paradox.

The metre of this hymn calls for comment: the trochaic tetrameter catalectic (tumtytumty four times with the final syllable chopped off). What is interesting here is that this metre was used by writers such as Menander in Athenian New Comedy for scenes that are pretty nearly slapstick - Aristotle called it kordakikoteron or 'tending to a lively vulgarity'*. Caesar's soldiery chanted their ritual abuse at him (to avoid the the risk of the Gods taking offence as he rode in triumph) in this metre. I wonder if Venantius chose it because of the joyous exuberance of the procession accompanying Abbess Radegunde's spectacular new acquisition into Poitiers. Roman Triumph Processions were boisterous to the point of being disorderly, the soldiers probably having already made bibulous inroads into their bounties. I'm not suggesting that Pange lingua was written to accompany a drunken orgy, but I bet the procession at which it received its premiere was not quite the sort of prim and stately event that Anglican Outdoor Religious Processions usually are.

The same may be true of some of those first Corpus Christi processions in Avignon after one of my favourite popes, John XXII, got that festival going and thus gave an airing to the great hymn in which S Thomas Aquinas borrowed Venantius' first three words, and his metre.

(And I wonder if Prudentius danced a bit as he composed Corde natus - also in this metre.)

*Sandbach wrote, in 1973, that "such passages in this metre are distinguished in tone from the adjacent iambics, but not always in the same way". In his 2013 edition of the Samia Sommerstein wrote "trochaic tetrameters  were clearly considered suitable both for farcical scenes (such as the latter part of the present act [Samia IV]) and for passages of unusual solemnity (such as Demeas' speech in [Samia] 694-712 or Knemon's in Dyskolos 708-47)."

23 March 2023

S Gabriel ... help ... ...

So, this evening, we shall celebrate First Vespers of S Gabriel the Archangel.

Oh Yeah? you cry. What's all this about First Vespers? But you do know that according to our delightfully Semitic Catholic Tradition, days began (if you're still with me) the evening before. One of the things I find least satisfactory about the 1962 (Papa Pacelli) rite is the implicit attack it makes on this tradition, perhaps one of the most venerable in our entire Tradition. I feel its absurdity particularly on Festa, Second Class Feasts with a Vigil, when the question arises of how Vespers fits in between the Vigil and Mattins.  

Well; there you go. S Gabriel was historically a Greater Double (festum; Second Class). We owe his feast entirely to Benedict XV in 1921 ... er ... well, not quite. As with so many celebrations, this one was around long before that; it swirled around in an ever-changing and really fun-section of our liturgical books called the Appendix Pro Aliquibus Locis. In my 1874 Breviary, there it is. Er ... but ...

But it is on the day before S Joseph, 18 March

The APAL is a sort of ante-room to the full acceptance of a feast into decent society. And S Gabriel has now become incredibly  decent: the 2020 CDF liturgical decrees make him one of the privileged commemorations on the Calendar. 

Generations ago, Dom Gueranger discussed S Gabriel (on the 18th). In the course of his exposition, he offered us a couple of Franciscan, and one Dominican, hymn. That was another feature of the old system: in the 'candidate' feasts within the APAL there might be a certain very local and experimental quality to the propers locally authorised and used.

But Stay. I would not like you to be ignorant of Walter Bronescombe, Bishop of Exeter 1258-1280. S Gabriel was his Patron. So Bishop Walter decreed a feast of the Holy Archangel on the first Monday of September, and gave it a high liturgical rank. He ordered that his own obit should be kept the following day (just as Bishop Grandisson was to order his own obit to be kept on the day after the Octave of the Assumption).

Here comes my plea for YOUR HELP!

Bronescombe (I presume it was he) made liturgical provision for this important festival. The Collect was to be Absterge quaesumus Domine; the hymns were to be Laudes solvant; Supra choros angelorum; Fideles novi (Vespers, Mattins, Lauds ... these incipits are in the Ordinale Exoniense Volume I p 187).

I have not been able to find the texts in the obvious places. I am intrigued to know whether they were being passed around in the Middle Ages and were picked up, so to speak, by Bishop Walter. 

Or whether he commissioned them and ordered their construction.

Does anybody know of any evidence? 

22 March 2023



  There has been much in the air about the necessity for certain categories of people to "admit" that the Novus Ordo is valid and licit. This had made me wonder whether the Maimed Rite is decent or appropriate. Only recently, on March 14, I raised in this blog the question of whether or not one can, now, in good conscience, use this Mass. I then regarded that question as open. Parrhesia, don'tyaknow.

Last Sunday, however, H E Arthur Cardinal Roche, solemnly pontificating on BBC Radio 4, announced that "The theology of the Church has changed".

I'm not convinced that Pope S Paul VI in his post-Conciliar pronouncements took this distinctly radical view ... on the contrary. Consider ... ... But Now is Now.

And if Roche, now, is right about the situation now, then I think the status of the proposition I examined a week or so ago has become clearer. The Novus Ordo will have been assigned a meaning which sets it beyond the possibility of orthodox use. Using it now would be rather like using a Semi-Arian Creed after Nicea. Or collecting signatures for the Henotikon.

So the proposition that the NO should, as a matter of principle, be avoided, has (I now tentatively suggest) graduated from probabilis status to  probabilior.

No; I'm not pontificating. I'm wondering. Even under PF that, surely, must be permissible.


I have not commented on this, and I probably won't. I think one should not do so until one has carefully studied the text and any associated documents. 

Additionally, there would be the question of whether 'Mayan' elements originally, or currently now, implied or imply meanings contrary to the Faith. Answering this would require a capacity to judge upon philological and cultural questions far beyond any competence I could ever claim.

If it were clear that any elements were expressive of departures from the Faith as defined, I suppose one would have to move on to questions like whether formal papal approval had constituted formal Apostasy, so that the Petrine See had now become vacant.

So I'm staying well to the windward side of this whole business. Bargepoles, and all that.

Here's a good Examination Question: How Mayan is the Ordinariate Rite?

Personally, I rather liked the 1950s/1960s Missa Luba, drums and all. Does the Congo at any point ever flow into the Amazon? Do the Congolese (benedicantur) still speak Latin? 

The bit in the film where the progressive head master is shot in the quad is superb. Bang Bang!

Cathartic?? I couldn't possibly say.


21 March 2023


Long ago, in my first week of teaching, I happened to be passing through the Common Room, and found myself also passing one of my new colleagues. Being somewhat in awe of him, but feeling that I ought not to pass him silently by, I made a remark which I cannot now remember but which was pretty, pretty cretinous.

He looked at me as though I were something which the cat etc., and remarked in his broad Yorkshire accent "For un uppurently intelligent mun, thut's a bloody silly remark." 

What did I learn from that? (1) Not to make bloody silly remarks; and (2) Not to be intimidated by Yorkshiremen. Possibly some of those cricketers 'of South Asian heritage' who, in our current UK news, are complaining about 'racism' among their former Yorkshire team-mates, should have been given a similar induction into the arcane structures of native Yorkshire culture.

My colleague was called Donald Bancroft. He was an extraordinarily clever man with a particular gift for teaching Latin Prose Composition. During the War, he had worked in 'Intelligence' at Bletchley Park, but we only discovered this later ... members of that elite body still, in the 1970s, didn't blab about it. 

DB was not homosexually inclined. If he had enjoyed this additional PR advantage, absque dubio he would by now have been promoted to the status of National Hero and Victim, and given a place on banknotes.

I have been told that the Bletchley brains were helped when an Enigma machine was rescued, in heroic circumstances, from a sinking German U-boat. And that a film was made about  this episode. The main historical inaccuracy therein was that: whereas in fact the feat was performed by the Royal Navy, the film-maker, unaccountably, attributed it to the US Navy.

20 March 2023


Genuinely, I don't know what to think about one feature of the Bergoglio papacy: its down-playing of local primacies. 

Sees which seemed regularly entitled to be graced by a Cardinal's Hat, no longer appear to be thus honoured. Milan (even dignified until recent vandalism by the possession of its own ancient Rite), Naples, Venice (styled Patriarch because of his wide sway within the Eastern Mediterranean), Palermo, Turin ...

In many cases, these sees exhibited the last vestiges of what used to be called local primacies, particularly where, as in Italy, the modern 'Nation State' is very much a johnny-come-lately phenomenon compared with older political units (La Serenissima; the Papal States; the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ...). Dix counted some half a dozen prelates who bore the monniker Primate of Gaul.

My hesitancy: should my innate conservatism incline me to deplore this erasing of gracious historical dignities, endowed with massive auctoritas; or should I applaud a sensible insistence upon modern reality?

It looks to me like deliberate destruction of a local primacy when a Previous Archbishop Big is made to coexist with a suffragan wearing a Cardinal's hat: having two Archbishop Bigs elides the auctoritas of each. Is PF really incapable of coexisting with another centre of auctoritas anywhere in the world?

One thing I dislike, in either case, is that the Red Hat Game still continues in the Curia. Why should the Italian prelates I listed above, and their congregations, be humiliated while the Roches of this world continue to galumph around with the inappropriate grandeurs of the baroque era?

Is it simply so that they can outrank really considerable men in local sees, rather like a Harbour Admiral always being able to outrank a mere ship's Captain?

In other words, is it yet another example of PF's dislike of anybody who might stand up to him?

19 March 2023


So clergy and sacristans are busily fishing out rose vestments for 'Mothering Sunday'; although I'm unclear why today is so observed by those who do not follow either the Tridentine Rite or the 1662 Prayer Book. 

"Mothering Sunday" is still (thanks to commercial interests) still part of our culture, both religious and secular ... but not even this was sufficient to protect Mothering Sunday from the ruthless scissors of the post-Conciliar 'reformers'.

So the theme of the old Roman Mass is (Galatians 4) of our Mother the heavenly Jerusalem; but in the modern rite, the Roman Pontiff is not instructed to have a statio at the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, as so long a list of his predecessors were. 

This is the Roman church which the Empress Helena, my Colcestrian concivis, devised to be 'Jerusalem in Rome' and to which she imported cartloads of soil from Jerusalem together with significant relics of the Crucifixion. Sadly, moreover, choirs are now rarely required to sing all those lovely Siony texts, from the Introit onwards, which embellish the old propers. Anglican Common Worship, of course, slavishly, pathetically, follows the modern Roman Rite in abandoning the theme of the Heavenly Jerusalem, our Mother; the City whose politeuma we enjoy.

Of course, those old propers and S Paul's teaching in Galatians 4 raise in an acute form the very problem involved in the Good Friday prayers for the Jews. Has God's Covenant with the Jews been superseded? Do they need to take Christ on board to be saved, or are they, alone of all races and peoples, given a Christless way to salvation? It seems to me clear that S Paul teaches throughout Romans that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile either in the problem - sin - or in the solution - faith in Christ. 

I recall that the founder of the late twentieth century New Line on S Paul, Ed Sanders, concluded that, qua exegete of Paul, he was obliged to admit that in Paul's view Jews as well as Gentiles do need Christ (although qua liberal he did not think that Paul's view was now plausible).

So: 'cast out the bondwoman and her son'; Jews both need and are entitled to Christ. The Old Covenant was the type, the shadow, of the reality which is Christ. Not, of couse, that it would be particularly seemly somehow to to seem to single out Jews for mission in a Western society which largely consists of lapsed Christians: it would seem as if we were saying 'We've made a hash of hanging onto our own people so now we're going to try to get our hands on yours'. But the principle needs maintaining; all have sinned and all need Christ.

I have sometimes wondered if Pope Benedict had in his mind, when revising the EF Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, that his own ordaining bishop, Cardinal von Faulhaber, was a member of the group Amici Israel, which proposed a revision in the 1920s. ( Merry del Val may have been among those who scuppered this proposal.) But I am not convinced that, in its essence, the original Good Friday Bidding (Let us pray for the unbelieving Jews) was anti-semitic - on the contrary. 

There have always been Christian Jews and they are as fully privileged as any other Christians ... indeed ... more so. In the Good Friday prayer we were not disdainfully and in a racist way praying against the Jews as a race but for those members of that race who do not believe. The reason why we prayed for them specifically was simply their special place in God's dealings with Man and the steady New Testament witness, echoed in Pope Benedict's revised prayer, that the Eschaton will mean the combined redemption of Jew as well as Gentile. 

There is also, as S Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 10, a sharp reminder for all of us in the fact that the great majority of Jewry, for whom first the Euangelium was intended, failed to hear God's call. 

(By the way: in the reading from I Corinthians 10, which the Novus Ordo does allow once in every three years, verses 7-9 [mentioning Idolatry and Fornication {porneia} and their divine punishment] are characteristically expunged. The Authentic Use of the Roman Rite, as it was prior to what Arthur Roche calls its 'enrichment', contains the passage complete and unbowdlerised.)

I draw to your attention the book Index Lectionum A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite published in 2016 by Matthew P Hazell (and his wife Lucy; I reviewed it when it first came out. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3); if you want to take a serious interest in what the Bugnini junkies did after Vatican II, you really do need to have this book. At the flick of a wrist it reveals that the Novus Ordo Sunday Lectionary entirely dumped this old reading from Galatians (a pitifully bowdlerised version of it was allowed to survive on a Monday morning in Ordinary Time in alternate years).

I can just imagine Screwtape's glee: "The bad news, my dear Wormwood, is that the Christian leaders have decided to encourage their people to become more familiar with the pestilential Enemy propaganda known as The Bible. But all is not lost ... far from it! Our policy is now to work through the soi disant 'liturgical experts', whom we already have securely under our control. They will be easily persuaded to increase the amount of time reading the Bible in Church, while eviscerating the text of passages and ideas which we will convince them are 'difficult'. Thus any teaching which is not currently popular among a certain narrow portion of the intelligentsia in the 1960s will be carefully concealed. The next stage, which we have scheduled for the beginning of the Third Millennium, will be to use the dominant ideologues to promote the notion that the portions of Scripture which have been censored out of public use contain ideas which it is actually forbidden for Christians accept. We will then stir up particular, easily duped, constituencies (our planning department has the especially gullible German and English episcopates primarily in mind) to demand peremptorily the elimination of these ideas from any public prayers".

18 March 2023


Of course, the Statio today has to be at the Roman Church of S Susanna, who might have died a dreadful death if Daniel hadn't shown his detective skills. Dorothy Sayers included this delightful story (from what Anglicans call the Deutero-canonical parts of the Book of Daniel) in an anthology of detective fiction, with the comment "Susanna ... may be taken as foreshadowing the Gallic method of eliciting the truth by the confrontation of witnesses."

In the Missal, of course, the story is paired with the Johannine comma, in which the Lord protects (not an innocent but) a guilty woman. I think there is some evidence that this pericope came from the lost Gospel according to the Hebrews, which had (judging from quotations given by S Jerome) some stylistic links with S Luke.

The story of Susanna being a bit longish, the Novus Ordo offered, as an alternative, a shortened version. In a Collins Missal we used in the College Chapel three decades ago, there was a line down the margin: if you read just those bits, you would get the abbreviated essence of the story. I had a colleague, now departed this life who, instead, read the bits which lacked the line. This resulted in the most incomprehensible narrative of the purest gibberish I ever heard in Christian worship.

Hippolytus gave a typological interpretation of this story (I summarise the story and interpolate the typological interpretations in red).

"On an opportune day On the Pascha Susanna desired to be washed a bath was prepared because it was hot (kauma en), for those who were 'burning'. Two companions Faith and Charity prepared soaps (smigmata) the Commandments of the Word,  and oil Chrism to confer the Spirit. Susanna was bathed The Church is cleansed by a bath of baptismal water."

17 March 2023


In the second half of Lent, the ancient Authentic Form of the Roman Rite offered three Gospel readings, all from S John. All of them are long; all of them are beautifully crafted and full of the very finest teaching; and are intended primarily for the catechumens preparing for Initiation at Easter. I list them briefly with a few notes about their histories since the 1970s.

The Samaritan Woman. Theme: Living Water. S John Chapter 4. Traditional place: Friday after Lent 3. Novus Ordo place: Sunday Lent 3 in year A.

The Man Born Blind. Theme: Enlightenment. S John Chapter 9. Traditional place: Wednesday after Lent 4. Novus Ordo place: Sunday Lent 4 in year A.

Lazarus. Theme: New Life. S John Chapter 11. Traditional place: Friday after Lent 4. Novus Ordo place: Sunday Lent 5 in year A ('Passion Sunday').

The readings selected to accompany these passages in the Novus Ordo do not show much interest in the Readings associated with these Gospels in the Old Rite.

In the Novus Ordo, they may also be used with their associated readings, in Years B and C. They may also be used, together with their associated readings, on weekdays. Abbreviated selections of verses are authorised.

All three Readings have associated Proper Prefaces; each of which is a highly abbreviated version of a Preface taken from the Appendix which Charlemagne and his academics added to the 'Gregorian Sacramentary'.

Current Anglican English provision copies Rome.

In the ancient Ambrosian Rite, the Sunday Gospels are: 

Lent 2: The Samaritan Woman.

Lent 3: Abraham (John 8:31-end).

Lent 4: The Man Born Blind.

Lent 5: Lazarus.

In the Byzantine Rite, Lazarus is read on the Saturday before Palm Sunday; the Samaritan Woman and the Man Born Blind occupy Sundays in the period after Easter.

C S Lewis, a Literature Man, and E L Mascall, a Mathematician, both commented on the literary form of these pasages: almost 'modern novelistic'; 'vivid' (Mascall rendered the Man Born Blind into Cockney). Lewis observed that he had been studying literature, ancient, medieval, and modern, for yonks years and had never come across stylistic parallels. Both scholars treated with abrasive and merited contempt the reductive views of self-styled 'modern biblical experts'.

These three majestic Johannine narratives deserve respect and also deserve close attention.


I repeat this from 2017 in response to a query.

Bishop Richard Williamson of SSPX published some months ago an article arguing (these are his words) that in the post-conciliar Church, sacraments are increasingly going to be invalid. "If [a priest's] ideas of what the Church is and does do not correspond to the Catholic realities, how can he intend to do what the Church does, and so how can he administer true sacraments?"

I hesitate to criticise a Wykehamist - many of my best friends are Wykehamists - but this quite simply is not what the teaching and praxis of the Western Church has always been. It has, for example, been held and taught (see Apostolicare curae, the sentence beginning "Quo sane principio") that even a Moslem could administer baptism validly if he used adequate form and matter - perhaps in baptising a baby about to die in the delivery room whose mother has asked for this to be done. The unbeliever believes nothing about Baptism except that this is something Christians do. His only intention is to do what Christians do. His action is valid, but if it in any way depended on his personal beliefs, it would be invalid.

The Church's standard teaching is graphically expressed by S Robert Bellarmine: "There is no need to intend to do what the Roman Church does; but what the true Church does, whichever it is, or what Christ instituted, or what Christians do: for they amount to the same. You ask: What if someone intends to do what some particular or false church does, which he thinks the true one, like that of Geneva, and intends not to do what the Roman church does? I answer: even that is sufficient. For the one who intends to do what the church of Geneva does, intends to do what the universal church does. For he intends to do what such a church does, because he thinks it to be a member of the true universal church: although he is wrong in his discernment of the true church. For the mistake of the minister does not take away the efficacy of the sacrament: only a defectus intentionis does that."  

Cardinal Franzelin gives an extreme case: a daft priest who didn't want to confer grace when he baptised but actually believed that by baptising he would consign someone to the Devil - there was a seventeenth century rumour about this in Marseilles. Non tamen, he writes, sacramenti virtutem et efficaciam impediret. 

He qotes Aquinas in support. 

In nineteenth century, the Holy Office declared that Methodist missionaries in Oceania who explicitly denied in the course of the Baptism service itself that Baptism regenerates, did not thereby invalidate the Sacrament. Heresy or even total Unbelief is, in the traditional Theology of the Western Church, NOT the same as a Defect of Intention. Defect of Intention means a deliberate intention not to confer any Sacrament at all, NOT a mistake about what the Sacrament is or confers. Bishop Williamson's theology, despite his admirable desire to be Traditional, is NOT the teaching of Catholic Christendom. Pope Leo XIII reiterated this truth in his Bull Apostolicae curae in the section which begins "De mente vel intentione ...".

This has to be right; otherwise the validity of any sacrament would be at the mercy of any rubbish that some fool of a cleric had mistakenly got into his daft head because he misunderstood what he was taught in seminary or was just a perverse nutter anyway; every Mass celebrated by a 'liberal' priest who believed that it was merely a community supper, would have to be invalid. 


Williamson's view superficially seems common sense; but Catholic teaching, since the anti-Donatist controversy, has been firmly on the side of believing that it is very difficult for a minister to invalidate a sacrament by his own sin or stupidity or schism or even heresy or total unbelief ... as long as he Does the Red and Says the Black with at least a habitual intention of Doing Stuff (and not, for example, of performing a didactic demonstration or a blasphemous parody). And all this is ultimately based upon a very simple truth: the Sacraments are not ours, but the Sacraments of the Lord Christ.

I am of course quite aware that this teaching presupposes the use of adequate Form and Matter. Do not bother to write in and explain that to me. I simply wish to establish what the Western Church teaches about sacramental intention qua intention.

16 March 2023

An Anglo-Papalist Liturgist in the time of King James II

The Revd Edward Stephens, who died in 1706, was a late Stuart Anglo-papalist; he wrote that 'the dignity of the Church of Rome, and the authority of the Bishop of Rome, as the chief patriarch in the Kingdom of Christ, I do heartily embrace, and am resolved, by the grace of God, to assert against all schismatical acts whatsoever' (although he was a less extreme papalist than the Master of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, the probable author of A Proposal for Catholic Reunion in 1704). Stephens also was a keen advocate of the Daily Mass ("Certain it is that the taking away of the Daily Sacrifice is as notorious a Mark of the Spirit of the Antichrist ... as any "). He composed a pamphlet called The Cranmerian Liturgy, Or, The subtilty of the Serpent in corrupting the True English Liturgy, by Cranmer and a Faction of Calvinists. He rather neatly wrote of the Prayer Book as 'hug'd [by the C of E] like a Bastard Child by a silly abused husband'. You can find his liturgies, and copious extracts from his writings, in the 1958 volume of the Alcuin Club Collections, Anglican Liturgies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, by Jardine Grisbrooke ... a lovely exploration of the protohistory of Anglican Catholic and Ordinariate worship.

Stephens was quite rhetorician ... and what a superb blogger he would have made (he wrote about the Church of England's "execrable Schism and Separation from the Whole Catholic Church of all Ages").

As well as a liturgy to be used privately (rather Eastern in style), he produced one for public use which owed a lot to the book of 1549. In this he sharpened up Cranmer's English by writing 'who made there by his own oblation ...' (a modification made easier by the fact that the English word 'one' had not yet universally acquired the pronunciation wun). He justified his divergences from the Book which he had, by his oath of canonical obedience, promised to use, with the words 'we must obey God rather than Man, and prefer the Authority of the Catholick Church before that of any particular Church whatever'; a very typically Catholic Anglican observation. I am sure he would have been with us in the Ordinariate.

The admirable game of making Cranmer's texts less heterodox continued in the Scotch Liturgy of 1764. As well as incorporating Stephens's emendation 'own', 1764 omitted the word 'there', so that the Sacrifice of Christ was not limited to his Crucifixion.

All these attempts at a specifically Anglican and Catholic Liturgy are but ancestors and antecedents of the Ordinariate Missal. Ecclesiologically, they demonstrate that as soon as Anglicans started studying the early history of Christendom, they realised the appalling mistake which had been made in the casting off of papal authority; and as soon as they began to study the actual evidences of 'primitive' worship, they were not slow to understand that  the Cranmerian inheritance had been, essentially, a disaster.

Except for its linguistic register and its Divine Office and its collects and some particular gems ...

15 March 2023

fugitive evidences

 Fellow Church-Crawlers will know so many of the tiny indications that still remain in English parish churches of ancient, godlier, times. That opening in a medieval chancel ceiling through which once hung the chain which supported God's Body in His pyx ... that minute piece of painted plaster which preserves the last remnant of one of the twelve original Consecration Crosses ... the mere square inch of Renaissance glass in an almost invisible angle of the tracery suggesting that, in the very last days before the Reformation, the church had invested in an expensive set of fashionable windows ...

I've got a new one for  you. Outside in the Yard ... probably, if it is angular, in a corner ... some pieces of masonry, not large but big enough to hold ... yes; reliquaries.

"Ther was a chapple in the parishe of Sct Newlan in Cornwall called Sct Neghtons of the saint to which it was dedicated, which chapple had a yard belonginge vnto it in which ther were foure stones on a little mount or hill at the Northwest corner wher the crosses and reliques of Sct Piran, Sct Crantocke, Sct Cuthbert, Sct Newlan were wont to bee placed in rogation weeke, at which time they vsed to meete ther and a sermond made to the people, and the last was preached by persone Crane in Queene Maries tyme, as I have bene credibly informed by a preist who had bene an eye witnesse."

I wonder if, anywhere in this Kingdom, such unrecognised stones might still hide away behind the brambles.

14 March 2023

Priscilla Proudie and the Novus Ordo.

 Off to Barchester the other day ... I like to try to get there once a year for old-time's sake ...  firstly, to visit Mrs Proudie's monument ... and to look at the site of the shrine of S Ewold, marked nowadays by four candlesticks around a vase of flowers (not all plastic) on the bare Cathedral pavement ... ... amusing how modern Anglicanism tries to stake out some claims to continuity but in so doing seems simply to emphasise its historical ruptures and emptiness.

I don't only go to Barchester to visit the Departed. I meet up (why nowadays does one have to "meet up" with someone rather than simply meeting them?) with a friend from our Anglican days, Fr ****. Sadly, I found him incredibly (yes!) depressed. Eventually, he came out with it. "John ... I don't know whether I can with a good conscience continue to celebrate public Masses any more." 

He explained that, in retirement, he has had a routine of saying Mass on Thursdays in the church of S Philomena (Virgin) down by the Railway Station (in modern English, "the Rail Station"), to enable the pp to get away for his Day Off. That Mass has been Novus Ordo (rather than the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite which we had both learned at Staggers back in 1966). 

For us old gentlemen, there are indeed practical problems about the Novus Ordo; things like all the books one has to juggle with ... Missal; Lectionary; Intercessions ... the endless fiddling around and all the fuss and bother ... it's all so complicated and convoluted, as if deliberately designed to catch one out. Especially as compared with the streamlined simplicities of the Authentic Mass.

On one of the last few occasions before I finally gave up the Novus Ordo, there were just two elderly ladies there. At Communion time, both came up and one of them announced to me "I am the Eucharistic Minister". I simply couldn't think what I was supposed to do to each of of them, or in what order.

But for ****, it is the basic propriety of actually using the Novus Ordo rite AT ALL that increasingly now worries his conscience. Qua rite, it strikes him as somehow indecens sacerdoti. He explained:

"It's certainly not because I doubt its validity. I don't even question its liceity. After all, if you went to a windswept beach in January and found a Council Notice saying 'It is licit to skinny-dip from this beach on cold winter's days, BY ORDER', that wouldn't actually make it illicit for you to keep your trousers on and to button up your overcoat, would it?"

"Er ... n-n-no . .. I stammered, shivering a little. Indeed, I have never vastly liked either skinny-dipping or the Novus Ordo.When I was a toddler during the War, there was also the (Valid and totally Licit) Codliver Oil  Problem.

But **** had not finished. He went on:

"It's ... well, the Novus Ordo has got rather inextricably bound up, hasn't it, with the whole excruciatingly horrible phenomenon of Bergoglianism. It's as if, by celebrating that Mass, one is associating oneself with the errors and heresies and general cultural nastinesses of this ghastly pontificate; it's as though, in celebrating it, one is siding with all the bullies and liars around the world who are gleefully taking part in the persecution of orthodox Catholic individuals and families."

Dangerous stuff, this, I thought. Surreptitiously, I checked that there were no Bergoglian spies or delatores lurking behind Priscilla Proudie or the plastic flowers. I quietly murmured the ancient prayer in necessitatibus to S Ewold: "Beate Ewolde Confessor, in tempore malo Dux noster et Protector ..." etc..

Then **** came up with his specific question:

"So, John, here's my question to you. Do you think I should give the Novus Ordo totally up and henceforth refuse to celebrate it at all?"

I'm afraid I was at a loss how to help him.

What should I have said to the poor chap, not to mention his poor conscience, in his moment of need? O All ye Blessed Casuists, assist us both!

13 March 2023


We have exchanged information before about the old Oxford dialect: Soccer; Rugger; Brekker; Wagger Pagger Bagger; and the rest. But I don't think we've swapped opinions on Divvers.

"Divvers" was part of the First Public Examination (Honour Mods or Prelims). It was a compulsory paper which consisted of an examination, both written and Viva Voce, on Scripture -- one Synoptic Gospel; S John; Acts. (Appropriate, if arcane, alternative provisions were made for candidates with Indian backgrounds.)

You had to pass it; it was the hurdle which Sir John Betjeman failed with the result that he was sent down. HisTutor (C S Lewis) was unsympathetic; Betjeman had been  a far from model undergraduate. He was idle and lackadaisical, and ... worse ... tended to make cruel fun of Lewis behind his back. Lewis was unprepared to intercede on Betjeman's behalf: "You would only have got a Third".

("Divvers" had already disappeared when our generation went up in 1960. It is not to be confused with Responsions, which was an even earlier hoop one had to jump through in order to secure entry to the University in the first place.) 

In 1933, this joke was still doing the rounds (Knox Silo): a man who has just been interviewed by the police says: "Never had such an easy let down since they viva'd me for Divvers at Oxford. No, not Galileo, Mr Tollard, he doesn't come in the Acts, they said. Doesn't he; I said, it's all one to me. And they let me through on it."

12 March 2023

Bouyer (2)

 In the extract which follows, Bouyer favours the provision of more Proper Prefaces, but criticises the treatment by the 'reformers' of Lenten (and some other) collects.

"Le seul element non critiquable dans ce nouveau missel fut l'enrichissement apporte surtout par la resurrection d'un bon nombre de prefaces magnifiques reprises aux anciens sacramentaires et l'extension des lectures bibliques (encore que, sur ce dernier point, on allat trop vite aussi pour produire quelque chose d'entierement satisfaisant). Je passe sur nombre d'anciennes oraisons pour les temps de penitence ... qu'on nous obligea a estropier de maniere a en evacuer le plus possible ... precisement la penitence!"

As far as the Sunday Lectionary is concerned, I do think the Council left to the next generation quite a problem. But how would something like the following work out so as to preserve Tradition but also to enable a wider exposure to Scripture? (SPV means the readings in the missal of S Pius V.)

Year 1: SPV.

Year 2: S Matthew or SPV.

Year 3: SPV

Year 4: Ss Mark and S John or SPV. 

Year 5: SPV.

Year 6: S Luke or SPV.

Years 2, 4, 6 involve the three-year sets of Epistle and Gospel readings produced and used in fact now with the Novus Ordo.

The option of always using SPV would safeguard Tradition. 

11 March 2023

Fr Louis Bouyer (1)

There is a splendid English translation of Bouyer's Memoires; but I often think that ... especially when the content and vocabulary are racy .. there's a lot to be said for peeping at the original.

So here is a quite famous passage from pp 199-200. (Sorry I don't know how to type accents etc..)

"Je prefere ne rien dire ou si peu que rien du nouveau calendrier, oeuvre d'un trio de maniaques, supprimant sans aucun motif serieux la Septuagesime et l'octave de Pentecote, et balancant les trois quarts des saints n'importe ou, en fonction d'idees a eux!

"Comme ces trois excites se refusaient obstinement a rien changer a leur ouvrage, et que le pape  voulait  vite en finir pour ne pas laisser le chaos se developper, on accepta leur projet, si delirant fut-il!"

Later, another bit of Boyer, on Prefaces and Lenten Collects


10 March 2023

Is next Sunday a bit extreme??

 The Mass provided by the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite for next Sunday, Lent III, strikes me as extraordinarily interesting. (Needless to say, it has disappeared from the Forma Mutila et Corrupta.)

The theme of Epistle and Gospel recognises the risk of falling from Grace and from our Baptismal Covenant; and appears to emphasise the need to make our language conform with the Law of God. If we talk unchristianly, the malady will spread from our lips to our hearts and thence to our lives.

Here are some samples of the vocabulary; I offer the Prayer Book translation and the Greek original.


fornicationporneia, uncleannessakatharsia, covetousnesspleonexia, reprove them for it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret ... elengkhete; ta gar kruphe ginomena hup' auton aiskhron estin kai legein ...

In the GOSPEL,

observe the rigorism and uncompromising character of He that is not with me is against me; there is no half-way house, no nuance to hide under. And for the lapsed (semi-lapsed??) Former Christian The last state of that man is worse than the first. 

 I suspect that the Roman context here is as follows: on Sunday Lent III, the 'Scrutinies' were announced which, beginning this week, prepared the catechumens for their initiation at Easter. The 'rigorist' emphasis on the dangers of recidivism, of falling back into the clutches of the Zeitgeist, seem particularly relevant to this period.

I habitually view with suspicion any assumption (whether in interpretation of a Gospel or of the Church's lectionary) that a passage is simply a 'unit of material' which somehow finds itself shoved into a hotchpot collection of unrelated materials. The concluding two verses (27-28) of Luke 11 ... about the Woman in the crowd who blessed the womb which had born the Lord and the breasts which he had sucked ... seem to me, even in merely literary terms, an absolutely stunning conclusion to the entire preceding passage: 

Those truly Blessed are those who, having heard the Word of God, keep (phulassontes) it.

And I am not in the least surprised that this entire passage of S Luke was treated so dismissively by the post-Conciliar 'reformers'. Manfully, they resisted any temptation they might have felt to allow Luke 11: 27-28 to retain its Lucan purpose: of concluding, and epigrammatically summarising, the themes of Luke 11: 14-26. 

"Enrichment", indeed!!!  ('Enrochement' ?)

I wonder if those 'reformers' included the luminaries described by Fr Louis Bouyer as Les Trois Maniaques.

I do beg readers to peruse both of these Biblical passages. They urge upon all of us a deeper and more exclusive commitment.

9 March 2023


I was a patient some years ago in a West Country hospital; a nurse with a strong Scottish accent addressed me. I couldn't make out what she was saying, so I smiled broadly and nodded. 

But this was not good enough. 

She repeated her message. It had some of these sounds in it: "w'nid so' o' y'wi". I smiled even more affirmatively. What else could I do?

She went off, looking miffed. A couple of minutes later, another nurse, manifestly armed for combat, came up to my bed. "My colleague tells me that you are refusing to supply a urine sample", she said.

Going back over the Scottish syllables I had been offered, I was able to reconstruct them in my mind as "We need some of your Wee." 

What I had been grappling with was two tough linguistic barriers. (1): A propensity to elide consonants;and (2): In medical English, I now understand, 'urine' is a non-term; 'wee' has supplanted it. (I now also know that another piece of modern professional technical medicalese is 'poo'. Had I then been aware of this, I could have replied to the nurse with a warm and inviting "Poo too?") 

I suspect that a reason for this all-important 'wee' and 'poo' is an underlying convention whereby medical functionaries believe it is important to infantilise patients. The smart way of doing this is perceived to be the imposition of baby-talk as the lingua franca of the ward. When I was again hospitalised during this past twelve-month, one officiant kept addressing me as 'My lovely'. I put up with this for three days; then something snapped within me and I snarled "I am not your lovely and, for that matter, you are not my lovely".

Dialects, dialects. During the Beeb's Thought for the Day not long ago, an 'academic' twice confused the verbs lie and lay

There is a remedy for this. 

If every little boy and girl passing through the English educational system were again to be taught the Attic Greek of the 'Classical' period, before s/he embarked upon Modern English, they would all be well primed in the verb Histemi, which, as you will recall, has some parts transitive and other parts intransitive. 

Then, when these delighful tinies approached the more advanced stumbling-blocks of our current chilly Northern dialect, they would be fore-armed. As well as properly formed in the dialogues of Plato.

Should I patent this as 'Hunwicke's New Elementary Linguistics'?

8 March 2023

A Sweet Little Book

 A little above four and a half inches by three, all this little book reveals on its spine is COMMON PRAYER   Hymns A & M       OXFORD.

But inside the cover, there is a picture of a corpulent gentleman labelled "His Majesty King Edward VII", covered by tissue. Peering at him hopefully through the tissue is "Her Majesty Queen Alexandra". Interestingly, the curiously pedantic "Queen Consort", so de rigeur in our own happy days, does not appear.

On the next page, "The Royal Commemoration Prayer Book" frames an Art Nouveau design showing a Knight in Armour clutching a helmet, flanking a person of indeterminate gender holding in its right hand a crown or coronet, and, in its left, a Church, which I suppose might be the original Westminster Abbey. Under the Shield (Quarterly England Scotland Ireland England badly executed) a scroll advises us FEAR GOD, HONOUR THE KING. And, at the bottom "OXFORD 1902". 

But bound in between the Book of Common Prayer and Hymns Ancient and Modern, is "The Form and Order of the SERVICE that is to be performed and of the Ceremonies that are to be observed in The Coronation of Their Majesties King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in the Abbey Church of S. Peter, Westminster On Thursday, the 26th day of June, 1902 Oxford: Printed at the University Press ..."

I wnder why it is still called an 'Abbey' Church after Bloody Bess supressed the Abbey in 1559. Wouldn't "Collegiate" be more appropriate?

And then XIX "Sections" follow. 

Several thoughts occur to me. The portly representation of 'Edward VII' reminds me of the curious piece of furniture created for his, er, greater ease and more commodious use in some establishment in France. This leads me on to the question of whether the Keeper of the Royal Conscience, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of All England and Primate, ever took it upon himself to address the King pastorally on the subject of giving up Fornication and Adultery. At the Coronation, however, the Litany was shortened and, doubtless to save time, "fornication, and all other deadly sin" have done a runner.


All over England, there are deluded people who possess a mug produced to commemorate the Coronation of the next Edward. These folk assume that, since this personage never was crowned, the curiosity factor must have greatly enhanced the monetary value of their mugs. 

But, I gather, so many zillions of these potatory goodies were produced that their value is practically nil.

I wonder what memorabilia the 2023 event will throw up. Mrs Parker Bowles, perhaps, wearing a crown?


7 March 2023

"I baptise you ... in whose name?"

ARCIC. What is ARCIC doing?

For decades now, I have been arguing that ARCIC (if not closed down) should be discussing new or imminent matters of controversy and dissent. It should move out of the sixteenth century.

The C of E has embarked upon a discussion about non-gendered language in Liturgy. We all know what this means ... that in the foreseeable future, it will be licit to baptise in the name of Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. OK ... this will only be an optional alternative. So what?

Such a formula has been ruled by the organs of the Catholic Church, not to be valid.  

Acceptance of a Common Baptism lies at the heart of the Ecumenism of the last century. ARCIC should discuss, and provide documents on, this matter, soon.

Leaving the question kicked into the long grass and keeping our fingers crossed that Time will be the Great Healer ... however tempting to the minds of Anglicans and Ecumenists ... simply will not do.

The Crunch is coming. It has already bought its ticket and caught the train.

They know how to manage things. There will be all sorts of hysterically emotional appeals ... all sorts of angry protestations against Rigid People.

What on earth is supposed to be the point of ARCIC??

6 March 2023

Only for Sarum and BCP enthusiasts

 While most followers of the Authentic Version of the Roman Rite were hearing the Matthaean account of the Transfiguration yesterday, the very select readers I itemise above heard, for their Sunday Gospel, the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman whose daughter the Lord exorcised. 

The still useful Anglican handbook Liturgy and Worship (1932) explains as follows (auctore K D Mackenzie ... I have expanded some of his abbreviations): "Lent II. Originally a vacant Sunday (cf. Advent IV). Hence there are great variations in the Proprium. Schuster speaks of the 'patchwork composition' of the [Modern Roman] Mass, and [the Medieval English uses in general have] not much more individuality. When the local Roman Sacramentary and Lectionary were adopted in other places, it was necessary to make up a Proprium from various sources. [The Comes of Murbach also offers the Syro-Phoenician Woman.]"

My Question: Why should that pericope have been conseidered, in Northern Europe and elsewhere, appropriate for this Sunday? Or for bringing an Ember Week to its conclusion? 

Things have reasons!

5 March 2023

Has it really come to this?

There is today [Saturday] ... and has been ... correspondence in The Times about alleged antisemitism in the writings of Dorothy Sayers.

I think DLS has been defended on the grounds that her thought-crime was simply that of her time, so she can be forgiven. 

I think this entirely, horribly, grossly misses the point. In DLS's first whodunnit, it turns out that the killer is an upper-class WASP intellectual with the socio-ethical assumpptions of his time. The victim is a Jew to whom Sayers ascribes every human virtue that the human mind can conceive.

 Modern 'critics' lack intelligence and subtlety. They are not fit to read or to comment on writers who had a capacity to use and to understand nuance or to handle the implicit.

And censorship of un-PC language in the children's books of Roald Dahl has recently been a News item. You're right: wokery rampant and horrible. I won't get onto Blyton ...

And Billy Bunter ... I recall wokery and the Modern Age getting their nasty little noses in there, too. I believe Bunter was censored so that the Kickings of the Fat Boy were eliminated. Moreover: the passages, some of them hilarious funny, which end with Henry Samuel Quelch M.A. flogging Bunter for comical errors in his construe of Latin, still make my nostrils twitch. The only intelligent member of the Greyfriars Remove seems to be an Indian aristocrat ...

Some readers may have noticed that I rather like reading well-written 1930s English ... Lewis, Sayers ... yesterday I was travelling in that Time Machine again, and noticed this in Mgr Knox's The Body on the Silo: "Wherever you went, there was noise; there a loudspeaker breathing out throaty inaccuracies about tomorrow's weather, there a gramophone, wallowing in the revolting eroticism of the American negro, and his still more revolting religiosity; nor did anybody seem inclined to hush these noises as a prelude to conversation."

In Waugh, we meet Chokey, who "though graceful of bearing and irreproachably dressed, was a Negro. ... 'What price the coon?' [Sam Clutterbuck] asked ... 'I've got a friend lives in Savannah ... he's told me a thing or two about niggers ... to put it bluntly, they have uncontrollable passions ' ... 'What a terrible thing!'said Grimes."

And Sayers: "'God bless my soul,' said Sir Charles, horrified, 'an English girl in the hands of a nigger. How abominable!' [An English girl] 'carried off for some end unthinkably sinister, by a black man ... [a newspaper] came out ... with a patriotic leader about the danger of encouraging coloured aliens." 

These last three writers were sophisticated commentators of the 1930s cultural scene; the absurdities they parody most certainly did not coincide with their own attitudes. In the novel by Sayers, the 'clues' were confected by the murderess herself, a very English and upper-class girl (the only actual negro in the story is totally innocent, harmless, admirable and decent). In Waugh, the loftily censorious Harrovian Captain Grimes is ... the reader has been very clearly told ... a disreputable paedophile.

Let me be clear about what I am saying.

The finest writers of that period, particularly those from a Christian stable, subverted the prejudices of their time by putting them onto the lips of disreputable or risible characters. 

Parody can be a profoundly elegant way of making social comments, and should cetainly not be illicit.

I think it is disgraceful ... and a bad genre-error ... to be blind (or do I mean deaf?) to nuanced writing.

Are we to be deprived of the opportunity of hearing the finest satirists of that period attacking the absurd prejudices of their dim contemporaries?

And all because their vocabulary, which neatly mirrors the bigotry of the time, happens to have fallen foul of some rule-book arrogantly imposed upon us by adolescent modern wokery?  

4 March 2023

Vere Vix Credibile ...

Axion kai dikaion se hymnein ...; Dignum et iustum est ... Hos alethos axion estin kai dikaion, prepon te kai opheilomenon ... Alethos gar axion esti  kai dikaion ... Thus begin the Eucharistic Prayers in (respectively) the rites of S John Chrrysostom; of the Mozarabic Rite; of the Rites of S James and S Mark. 

In our dear Roman Rite, Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare ...

And, for us of the Anglican liturgical heritage, It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty ...

Curiously, "vere" is not used (according to Sr Ellebracht's data) in the Roman collects. Perhaps such superlatives are indeed best kept for the moment the Priest approaches the Mysterium tremendum. Or as the Paschal Deacon gets launched into his Exsultet.

Nasty old Zwinglian though he was, as a composer of liturgical formulae Cranmer so often seems to feel the tug of earlier, and Latin Catholic, formulae. (G J Cuming, in his A History of Anglican Liturgy, is particularly sensitive to this.) So, faced with translating Vere dignum et iustum est, the dominating echo of the Latin took over, and Cranmer wrote It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty ...

For many of us, hearing the vicar intoning these words to their ancient melodies will be one of our earliest churchy memories. Only later will it have dawned upon us that very here must function as an adverb synonymous with verily, truly.

But we live in an age hostile to such language. vere disappears from most 'modern' translations. And now it is, finally, disappearing also from our vernacular. When did you last hear it used? "It's very sunny today"?

No, learned reader. You, as a modern man or woman, speaking modern English, will say "It's incredibly sunny today". 

"This newspaper report is Incredibly Ordinary". Language is such fun, isn't it?

I can't prove this, but my impression is that the terminal decline in the use of very coincides with the Pandemic. We had so many superlatives offering themselves to us ... superlatives about the new and terrifying disease itself; superlatives about its social consequences; superlatives about the heroes and heroines, in the medical professions, who struggled in combat with the malady ...

That is when it no longer ... somehow ... seemed adequate to say that the Vindaloo was very hot; we only felt we had said enough if it was incredibly hot. Politicians were no longer allowed to repose in an understated category of the very corrupt ...

No? You think I'm being silly yet again? Try listening to some jounalists, and doing a count.

I'm not suggesting we can or should do anything about this.

But when you hear the Vicaress saying in Church It is incredibly meet, right, and our bounden duty ... , please remember that it was this blog that gave you the news first. When the Cathedral Dean prints at the head of his notepaper The Incredibly Reverend Frances Arabin ... nuff said ...

(Did I hear somebody murmur hyperbole? How incredibly pretentious ...)

3 March 2023

Ember Sacerdotalism

 It is always worth taking seriously the views expressed by Abbot Rupert of Deutz (ob ca 1130) with regard to the reasons behind the liturgical choices made in our present (S Gregory I/S Pius V) liturgical books. So I offer to your learned consuderation his views on the Transgfiguration Gospel shared by the Saturday Ember Mass and the Sunday which follows it.

"Priests [sacerdotes] having been ordained on Saturday, and the other ministers of Christ's Altar, this Gospel is fitly read ... For priests and the other ministers of the Altar, when they are promoted to so great a ministry, as it were ascend with the Lord up a very lofty mountain, that with no veil [revelata facie] they may gaze upon his glory, so fit to be contemplated, and might understand what with him or concerning him Moses and Elias, that is, the Law and the Prophets, are saying, and may proclaim it to the people below [inferiori], and having with the faith of Christ the morality which comes from the Law and the doctrine which comes from the Prophets, they may be ready to give an account to everyone who seeks it ..." 

Expositors sometimes offer clever and elegant accounts of why we hear the Transfiguration at the start of every Lent. I feel pretty confident that Abbot Rupert gives us the real reason for the choice of this pericope in the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite. 

Archbishop Myers remarked upon how many opportunities are offered for Ordination in the Lent of the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite. I suggest a pragmatic reason for this ... all the actuosa participatio in the rites of Holy Week and Pascha required a full complement of clerical functionaries!

This stuff is sacerdotalist, even clericalist, and unashamedly so. Priesthood is an august mystery, an intimate association with the Lord himself. (Rupert's own priesting, incidentally, was delayed because of his refusal to accept Holy Orders from an excommunicated bishop.) 

The imagery of going up and apart with the Lord to behold his glory, may have been the more striking to priests and people alike when (visually) it meant going with the Domnus Papa beyond the great curtains or hangings which surrounded the Altar. As one of the Ordines puts it, the Pontiff "intrat in Canonem".

2 March 2023

So where have this week's Ember Masses disappeared to?


Where have these gone to? In the 1969 Vatican Document Calendarium Romanum, page 59, reasons are given for abolishing the 'Pre-Lent Season', but this promise then follows: "Textus proprii harum trium Dominicarum alibi ponentur in Missali romano".

"Will be placed somewhere else in the Roman Missal".

So where are they? 


In the same Vatican document, we are told that the Masses for these days "non amplius in Proprio de Tempore, sed inter Missas votivas, locum habebunt." 

Oh Yeah? So where are they?


When Sacrosanctum Concilium was put together and then promulgated as the first of the Council's decrees, nobody knew ... they had not been provided with crystal balls ... how much of the old would, in less than a decade, be just dumped, and replaced (if replaced at all) by shiny new compositions. It is against that background that the historian will read Paragraph 107. It prescribes that the liturgical year should be so revised that "servatis aut restitutis sacrorum temporum traditis consuetudinibus et disciplinis ... ipsorum indoles nativa retineatur ...".

The Council accepted that many of the contents of the Rogation and Ember Masses related to seasonal agricultural processes which would (for example) differ in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

This was not an irrational concern. It is not surprising that the Fathers went along with it.

But, even given this awareness, the Council mandated that "Accommodationes autem, secundum locorum condiciones, si quae forte necessariae sint ... "

Good heavens!!!

Remember: this is "the Council!!!" which the Bergoglios and the Roches rely upon for their radical and aggressive agenda.

And notice the phrase "if any changes were perchance to be necessary". And notice the subjunctive verb sint rather than indicative sunt.  


I am making two points: (1) the Council anticipated the retention of much that in fact disappeared; and (2) the Fathers, when they voted for the text of Sacrosanctum Concilium in front of them, had been given not an inkling of the broad, extensive mandate which would be assumed by the post-Conciliar 'revisers'.

1 March 2023

Ember Weeks (2)

 Most of the Ordinations in the Roman Church happened at the December Embertides. The next Ember season after that would be in June. That left half the year without an Ordination Season. I favour the conjecture that the Spring Ember Season, this week, originated in a need to fill that gap. 

There are clues which point in this direction. Egbert of York, S Leo the Great, and the Liber Pontificalis associate the Ember with Moses. So does 'a short anonymous Carolingian tract' edited by Dom Morin.


Did that make your ears prick up? MOSES!

The Wednesday Ember Mass gives us Exodus 24:12 ... in which HWHY summons Moses up the Mount, and gives him tables of stone and a Law and commandments. On the Ember Saturday in the First reading, Moses brings that Torah down to the People of Israel ... and, in the Second, he commands them diligently to keep it. And, in the Third reading, "The priests made a prayer whilst the sacrifice was consuming ...".

The association of Moses with our Ministry is one the earliest parts of our Traditional Roman Liturgy. It even seems to go back to I Clement and the account there of how Moses arranged the Ministry. I need hardly remind presbyteral readers that the Great Prayer (still surviving) of Priestly Ordination in the Roman Rite is based around the narrative that HWHY took the Spirit of Moses and shared it among the Seventy Elders.

And the last reading in the Ember Saturday Mass is S Matthew's account of the Transfiguration ... in which Moses appears with the Lord and Elias on the Mountain of the Transfiguration.

We are not Marcionites. We know that we are in unbroken continuity with the earliest covenantal relationship between HWHY and his only, his chosen, people. If we have the privilege of Priestly Ordination, that sets us within the Ministries which God gave of old, so very anciently, among humankind. 

To deny this is, I think, practical, liturgical, Anti-semitism. It needs to be hounded out of the Church!

Sadly, the Old Testament texts in the Missale Romanum which witness to us during this Ember Week of Moses and of our Mosaic Priesthood were ruthlessly eliminated by the post-Conciliar 'reformers' from the lections of their newly-confected Unicus usus. 

This vandalism is what the orotund authority of Arthur Roche calls "Enrichment"!

Even worse: when Dom Botte and his colleagues got their hands on the rite of Episcopal Consecration, which made much of the parallel between the Christian Pontiff and the Aaronic High Priest, they ruthlessly smashed it all up.

What they put in its place undoubtedly possesses validity. It even possesses liceity. We must never let any of these slippery operators put us in the wrong by tricking us into appearing to question this. 

But ... AUCTORITAS ... the newer rites certainly do not possess that. 

Not a nanogram.