30 November 2023

A Little Latin Puzzle

"Ego omnipotenti Deo, qui unus et verus est, immolo quotidie, non taurorum carnes, nec hircorum sanguinem, sed immaculatum Agnum in altari; cuius carnem posteaquam omnis populus credentium manducaverit, Agnus qui sacrificatus est integer perseverat et vivus."

 I've put the most important words in red. If you suss those out, you've already done quite wel!!

Sometimes people like a bit of this as a break from a Crossword or a Sudoku. The above sentence, from today's Divine Office of S Andrew, was, I suspect, in the mind of S John Henry as he composed the last pages of his Second Spring sermon. 

He was, even in his Anglican days, an addict of the Traditional Roman Breviary.

S Andrew and the British Ordinariate

A very happy and holy Name Day to all those splendid people whose Patron Saint is S Andrew!

You don't need to be a Scotsman to have a devotion to S Andrew. His cultus is embedded also in the history of English Christianity in a way which goes back to the Roman origins of our Liturgy even before S Augustine had arrived off the shores of Kent. And it is most happily bound up with those heady days when England, after the Henrician schism, was reconciled to the See of S Andrew's brother.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, gives, for the most part, the same Sunday Collects, Epistles, and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V. But the Reading and Gospel for the Sunday Next Before Advent (taken, like most such Prayer Book material, from the medieval Sarum Rite) were, unlike the other Epistles and Gospels After Trinity, quite different from those in S Pius V's edition of the Roman Rite. Not because of some sort of Protestant jiggery-pokery; they are thoroughly respectable lections offered to us by our ancient Western Catholic Tradition; they go back to the earliest Roman lectionaries, the Comes of Wuerzburg and Murbach.

The old Gregorian Roman ... and the Prayer Book ... Gospel thus provided contains the John 6 account of the Miraculous Feeding, which is not only suitable as an eschatological meditation on the Messianic Banquet, but also gives prominence to S Andrew. I wonder if this is one reason why that pericope got selected; it was chosen at the time when the Sunday readings in the 'Green' seasons often reflected the themes of adjacent great festivals.  And S Andrew is, in the authentic ancient Roman Tradition, a very major solemnity indeed; an all-night vigil was held and the 'Leonine Sacramentary' offered three Masses in addition to the Vigil Mass; possibly because of S Andrew's closeness to S Peter?

The English Church, so laudably permeated by Romanita in its early days, perpetuated this superb  'Andreian' bias. The 'Leofric Missal', before it made its way to eleventh century Exeter and then, at the Reformation, to the Bodleian Library in this University, started its life as the working book of the Archbishops of Canterbury and has been thought by its (immensely painstaking) most recent editor (Henry Bradshaw Society 1999-2002) probably to have been copied from books brought from Rome to Canterbury by the Augustinian Mission. In its provision for the Consecration of Churches, this book appears to reflect a situation in which S Andrew is having a great many churches dedicated in his honour (i.e. it incorporates in the Consecration service a prayer specifically relating to just this one Saint). And in fact, the percentage of 'Andreian' churches in England is well above statistical expectation. After all, S Gregory the Great named his great monastery on the Caelian Hill (from which S Augustine and his fellows came) after S Andrew, and it was pretty certainly he who added S Andrew to the Libera nos [the Saint is absent from its pre-Gregorian form found in Stowe].

What a shame that the Novus Ordo has so very little respect for this 'Andreian' tradition: It actually makes it impossible to celebrate an External Solemnity on an adjacent Sunday ('Christ the King' does a pincer movement with Advent Sunday to put paid to any such possibility). 

Yet his Feast was the splendiferous, coruscating day in 1554 on which Parliament begged Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary to intercede with her kinsman, the Legate, and Cardinal Pole reconciled this Kingdom to the Unity of S Peter. Salve festa dies: it was also the day, in 1569, when Frs Peirson and Plumtree reconciled the diocese of Durham to Catholic Unity and sang High Mass in that amazing Cathedral.

Unity Day!! A day, surely, to gather ones right-thinking friends, at least in spirit; to stoke up the fire and to line the bottles up; nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus.

29 November 2023

Your Christmass List

 You could do worse than to put this book onto your Christmass list ... whether of Things you wish to receive or Things you wish to give.

APOLOGIA a Memoir, by Fr Aidan nichols, is precisely what it says on the tin. And it is precisely the book to read if you have been wondering what has happened to Fr Aidan during these dark days in which the agents of a questionable regime have been trying to destroy Catholicism.

Here, for a taster, is Father's account of how he himself discovered God when

" ... on a day trip from Interlaken to Geneva, in my thirteenth year, I went into the Russian church (a triumph--I later learned--of the revived Muskovite style, built by the Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna, the sister-in-law of Alexander I) and gazed at the iconostasis. With the speed of a moment I took in the implications of the icons of Christ and his Mother and their veneration by a member of the faithful, who made a profound bow, then planted a kiss and by way of continued homage lit a taper. This was the incarnate Lord, the personal God made human in the Blessed Virgin--a notion that no account of compulsory church attendance at school had managed to instill."

I think I recall Chesterton ... can any verify or find this? ... suggesting that religious education in schools should be taken off the curriculum and replaced by the presence in each classroom of a statue, 'the Virgin and Child', to which each pupil should be taught to make a profound bow.

Moi, I remember how moved I was, aged about eleven, by the little rococo village churches in the Austrian Tyrol .

28 November 2023

Dubia addressed to Cardinal Roche

Dear Eminence

I would be grateful if you could some resolve some Dubia relating to the legislative document Traditionis Custodes.They concern the requirement that the lections be in the vernacular.

(1) When the congregation is linguistically very mixed, how is a celebrant to establish which vernacular he is to use?

(2) When a congregation is mixed and divided by political or cultural antipathies (for example, part Russin and part Ukrainan), how is a celebrant to proceed?

(3) When a congregation is predominantly of a vernacular which a celebrant does not himself even know well enough to read uncomprehendingly (ex. gr., Polish, Malayalam), how is that celebrant to proceed?

(4) It can be difficult to switch between languages differently structured. Latin, for example establishes its meaning through syntactical aggregations; English requires a speaker to group words ad sensum and at his own discretion. Your dicastery will have considered this problem scientifically by calling for vota on the problems concerned. Would it be possible for your dicastery to publish a representative selection of these vota, preferably in Latin?

Your Eminence's obedient Child and Servant

John Hunwicke

27 November 2023

Tudor Pietas

From time to time, I remind readers of the dual directions in sense in liturgical texts of the words Pius  and Pietas: each may indicate God's duty, his faithfulness, to us ('loving-kindness') or ours towards him ('true religion'). In the secular politics of the New Testament period, in Augustan Rome, a further game was often played out.

Pius referred to one who fulfilled his duties (Country, Family, Gods,etc.); there was an opposite, Scelestus (derived from Scelus, Sceleris), which meant not simply one who failed to be pius but someone who behaved in the deliberately, categorically, opposite sort of way. 

Vergil's Aeneid is the quintessential literary example of this. Students who have been dumped into a few hundred or so lines of the Aeneid may think that Dido and Lerve are its themes. They are not; it is the last page that offers and resolves the theme. Aeneas has Turnus at his mercy; Turnus is the hubristic killer of the Boy Pallas. Despite everything, Aeneas suddenly has a temptation to clementia. But then he sees the baldric, balteus, which Turnus had ripped from the Boy ... and so,with renewed fury, Aeneas kills Turnus, claiming that it is Pallas who truly is killing Turnus: "Pallas immolat et poenas scelerato ex sanguine sumit". (Beautiful Esses!!)

Vengeance, ultio, is the great Augustan virtue ... the Temple of Mars Ultor is the 'plastic' symbol of this. 'Avenging my Father Caesar' was Octavian's central claim. But killing the killer of ... a boy ... goes even further, yet more resolutely, into virtuous vengeance.  

And this is what made the ideology of Aeneid XII so immensely useful to the Tudors: because Richard III had murdered the two princes , and thus deserved ... etc. ...

If he really had ... I hold no views on this and am expressing no bias.

There are two delightful little books in the British Library, from bang at the start of the Tudor period. The first has beautifully executed greyhounds ... a Tudor symbol. The book must date from between 1486 and 1487, and uses Royal colours blue and red (as well as the white and green Tudor livery colours). All this is to dignify prose and verse by the Italian humanist Giovanni Gigli, 1434-1498, later Bishop of Worcester (I don't thnk he was the sort of bishop you phoned up if you had a leak in the vestry roof), but at that moment a seller of indulgences and ... a revealing combination ... a writer of the purest classicisng Latin verse. He makes it clear that he expects Richard Fox, bishop-designate of Exeter and one of Henry VII's closest buddies, to show his verses to the King. 

The second little book, dating from1485/6, was designed to be be presented to another of Henry's innermost circle, the future Cardinal Morton, and contains a treatise on Canonisation ... which must derive its relevance from the Cause of Henry VI.

Henry VII's position had been less secure than hindsight might assume; it was but months since he himself had invaded the realm and, with very slight title, seized the crown. Gigli, in his epithalamium celebrating Henry's marriage, could find little better with which to buttress this royal coup than the claim that the realm was "owed" to Tudor from his uncle Henry VI and that, in any case, placating the manes of murdered boys entitled the Ultor of such scelera to the kingdom of the tyrannus ... a neatly Gordian way through a knot ... provided, of course, that Richard really was the killer ...

Gigli's verses suggested that the young prince Arthur was destined to be the first monarch of a great new Arthurian dynasty.

26 November 2023

A clutch of Marian Hymns

 There is are features in the Votive Office of the Miraculous Medal which I find intriguing.

The rubrics indicated that, unless otherwise ordered, the Office should be the same as that of the Votive Office of the Immaculate Conception ... about which I wrote quite recently. That Office is what you will find in your Breviary, if you use a twentieth century edition. Here is the first stanza of the Mattins hymn.

Praeclara custos Virginum,/ Intacta Mater Numinis,/ Caelestis aulae ianua,/ Spes nostra, caeli gaudium.//

This is recorded as having been composed in the seventeenth century by an unknown author, for the feast of the Purity of Mary, which used to be observed on the Third Sunday in October (these Sunday, October, Votives of our Lady are something else I wrote about recenly).

But there is another similar hymn, composed for the Office of our Lady of Lourdes, said to have been written by Pope Leo XIII himself in 1891. It has the line Intacta Mater Numinis ... one presumes that the Admirable Pontiff enjoyed the sound and rhythm! The 1960s 'reformers' ... you know what I'm going to say ... disliked it so much that they cut it out!.

However, in the hymn provided for the Votive Office of the Immaculate Conception, we find this stanza: Tutela praesens omnium,/ Salveto Mater Numinis;/ Intacta in Hevae filiis, /Tu foeda mundes pectora.//

The style of this stanza resembles closely the style of the hymn said to have been composed by Leo XIII. I have wondered who might be its author.

Another interesting feature: its 'doxology' is not really a doxology at all. "Jesu, tuam qui finiens/ Matrem dedisti servulis,/ Precante Matre, filiis/ Largire coeli gaudia. Amen." 

What should one make of this bold break with Tradition?

24 November 2023

Divine Warfare (2)

 In the Mattins hymn for the Feast of the Miraculous Medal on 27 November, we find the stanza Numisma quos ornat tuum/ Fove benigno lumine;/ Virtus sit inter proelia/ Aegis in hostes praepotens. (Those whom thy Medal adorns,/ Foster with kindly Light;/ May they have strength among their battles/ And may the Aegis be mightily powerful against their enemies.) Yes ... the second of those two lines might get you thinking ... but I want to concentrate on the Aegis: a regular piece of kit when Greek Gods open hostilities. Here is a modified version of a note on the Aegis by Professor Christian Fordyce of the University of Glasgow (founded by Pope Nicolas V in 1451 long before people learned to read or write in Edinburgh).

"Two different conceptions of the divine aigis appear in Homer--the result, probably, of the concurrence in the word of two homonyms, the one meaning 'hurricane', the other 'goat-skin'--and Virgil has taken over both. In Homer the aegis of Zeus is something which he takes up and brandishes in his hand to dismay mankind: it is dark, like the storm-clouds, and it was made for him by Hephaestus (Vulcan) the bronze-smith: so Apollo, when he has it, takes it in his hand to shake. The hurricane is represented as a weapon wielded by the god. That is clearly Virgil's picture of Jupiter's aegis at Aeneid VIII 354, where nigrantem and concuteret translate Homer. But elsewhere the aigis of Zeus is not dark but radiant and it is fringed, and that picture is elaborated when Athena (Minerva) has it: it seems to be conceived as something worn, with a tasselled fringe and with the Gorgon's head on it: she throws it about her shoulders and Ares (Mars) strikes her on it: so in Aeschylus the words suggest a garment hanging from the shoulders and filling with the wind. This is the form taken by representations of the aegis in art, where it is a sort of breast-armour bearing the Gorgon's head in the centre, surrounded by wreathed snakes (so it was in the Parthenon statue) and this is the aegis which Virgil describes as being made for Pallas by the Cyclopes."

The dominant imagery is of our Enemies being thoroughly terrified ... it will make their hair stand on end (horrifica). Remember that Papa Pecci was a Classicist!

23 November 2023

The Liturgy of the Miraculous Medal ... (1)

 I tried, in mid-November, to give readers a feel for how the Mass and Office of the Latin Churches were before the pontificate of S Pius X and his consequent changes. I rather feel that we should appreciate the instincts of priests and peoples during that period when the Newmans and the Mannings, Wisemans, Fabers were worshipping ... like the Pope in Rome and Latin clergy throughout the world. The changes made in the first decade or so of the twentieth century were really fairly radical in how they set aside the previous liturgical culture.

Today, a bit more on that part of the story ... focussing now on a Feast which was instituted to take place on November 27. So think yourself back, please, to the pontificate of Leo XIII ... intellectual, statesman, Classicist, fervent devotee of our Lady (Pope 1878-1903).

Leo XIII granted the Feast of the Manifestation of the Immaculate Virgin Mary Of the Sacred Medal; what we call the Miraculous Medal. S John Henry Newman began to wear the Medal on August 22 1845 ... even before his formal reception into the One Fold of the Redeemer. And I invite you to consider how the Feast came about.

The Clergy had previously been granted Votive Offices which they could say instead of the Breviary offices, so as to lighten their heavy load of liturgical prayer. One of these Votive Offices was of the Immaculate Conception of our blessed Lady. And the Office granted for November 27, Feast of the Miraculous Medal, begins with the rubrical direction "Everything as in the Votive office of the Immaculate Conception the BVM except for what follows". In other words, the 'Votive Offices' system had settled structurally (and comfortably) into the regular liturgical function of the Divine Office.

One of the 'exceptions' was that the Mattins hymn for the new Office was new. I have one or two things I would like to sayabout it.

But, for now, I propose to offer a few words about the Aegis (Aigis).  



22 November 2023

The Usurping Orange (part 2; see yesterday's post)


The Eucharistick Sacrifice being the most efficacious Means for Pardon and Grace, ought to be perform'd with proportionable Care and Solemnity. And since the New Testament has given no Form for this Principal part of the Christian Worship, the safest way is to be govern'd by the Practice of the Ancient Church: Those early Times were best Judges of Apostolical Precedent and Tradition, most exemplary in their Lives, and most remarkably bless'd with the Effusions of the Holy Spirit.

By this Direction, as to Substance and Order, the following Communion-Office is drawn.

Thus at the placing the Elements on the Altar, there is a Prayer for Acceptance, abridg'd out of S Basil's Liturgy.

The most signal Instances of the Divine Providence and Bounty are likewise briefly recounted, as introductive to the Words of Institution. This Recital is Paraphrastically taken from S. James's Liturgy.

After the Words of Institution, the Prayer of Oblation and Invocation is subjoin'd from the Apostolical Constitutions: These Prayers are address'd for completing the Sacrifice, and giving it the highest degree of of Consecration. 

The Prayer for the whole State of Christ's Church is much the same with that in the First Reformed English Liturgy. But the Order is changed, by putting it after the Prayer for Consecration. For when the Sacrifice  commemorative of that upon the Cross, is finished, and God the Father propitiiated by this Memorial: 'tis then the most proper Time to declare the Ends of the Oblation, and recommend the Church to the Divine Protection.

The Introits or Psalms, which begin the Office, stand as they did in our first Reform'd Liturgy.

The Priest's pronouncing the Ten Commandments, with the People's Answer to each, are omitted for the Reasons following: 

First, The putting the Ten Commandments in the Communion-Office was not done by our First English Reformers, and is altogether Modern and Unprecedented.

Secondly, our Duty to God and our neighbour, comprised in the Ten Commandments, is comprehensively explain'd  in the Church-Catechism: The People therefore need only apply to this Instruction; thus they will have a fuller Notion for Practice, than can be gain'd by a bare Repetition of the Decalogue.

Thirdly, the keeping the Sabbath-Day holy is Part of the Mosaick Institution, points upon Saturday, and is peculiar to the Jewish Dispensation: Since therefore the Fourth Commandment looks somewhat foreign to the Christian Religion, since it could not well have been simply omitted, 'tis thought fit to wave repeating the rest: And, instead of this particular Rehearsal to give the Sum and Substance of the whole in our Blessed Saviour's Words, together with the People's Answer at the End of the Tenth.

The rest of the Office is the same with the English Liturgies, excepting that the Rubricks, for more Direction and Solemnity, are somewhar alter'd.

The Cross and the Chrism are restored in the Confirmation-Office. The Sign of the Cross is no less significant here, than In Baptism: It was so used in our First Reform'd Liturgy, and therefore there is no need of saying more about it. And as for the Chrism, it is an Emblem of Spritual Unction, of Grace conferr'd by the Holy Ghost; and with this Reference and Allusion it has been practised by the Primitive and Universal Churtch.

The Anointing with Oil in the Office for the Sick is not only supported by Primitive Practice, but commanded by the Apostle S. James. It is not here administered by way of Extreme Unction, but in order ro Recovery.

Upon the whole, here is nothing introduced without unexceptionable Warrant; nothing of Late Beginning; Here is no Application to Saints or Angels, no Worship of Images, no Praying the Dead out of Purgatory, no Adoration of the Consecrated Elements; nothing that supposes a Corporal Presence, either by Trans- or Con-substantiation; In short, nothing but what is Primitive and agreeable to Scripture, and practis'd by the best recommended and enlighten'd Ages.

21 November 2023

The Usurping Orange (1)

When I was in teaching, I sometimes sprang a sudden General Knowlege Test. Into this test, I inserted the question "When was this kingdom of England last successfully invaded from abroad?". The fun here was watching as the dimmer students confidently scribbled down "1066" and then lounged lazily. The brighter students realised that Father H must be Up To Something, and fiddled uneasily.

I deemed the correct answer to be 1688". Because that was the year of the Dutch Invasion, the Orange Usurpation, which led to the current "Royal Family" (Sir Max Beerbohm used the entertaining phrase 'Smug Herrenhausen') being in situ.

All Office Holders ... including Clergy ... were required to swear allegiance to the New Usurping Orange. Clergy who declined to do so ... on the grounds that that they were already bound by their oaths to James VII and II ... were called Non-Jurors (Non-swearers). They were deprived; but they and their supporters regarded themselves as still the true Office Holders. And since several bishops were of this group, they were able to regard themselves and their group (though small) as the lawful, valid, Church of England. 

After some years, the group split. There were those who believed that they should maintain their legal claimed position by being strictly liturgically legal; but there were those who could not resist the temptation afforded by their position to make liturgical changes, This second group came to be called the 'Usagers'. The 'Usager' Eucharistic Liturgy of 1718 is to be found in Anglican Liturgies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, XL of the Alcuin Club Collections, London S.P.C.K. 1958, by W Jardine Grisbrooke, pp71 sqq..

But in the Library of Sion College, there is a Book of Common Prayer, which includes provision for every Anglican liturgical need. The 1718 liturgy is bound into it; but with alterations ... some of moment, others less so ... throughout. Its cataogue number, when I was last there, was ARC A35 16 N73 ... as long as I copied that correctly. I do not think the book was ever put into print.

In my next post, I plan to transcribe "THE PREFACE", which I consider to be of interest. Meanwhile, here is a 'Statement of Authority'. 

We Jeremy Collier and Thomas Brett Bishops of the Catholick Church in England do hereby with the unanimous consent of our Brethren the Priests then present receive and appoint this Book (with the Several insertions and deletions) to be our Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments & other rites and Ceremonies of the Church. Given under our hands this eleventh day of March in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and nineteen. Sign'd Jer; Collier Tho: Brett. Witness A Campbell  Geo Brown  Roger Laurence  Thos Deacon  John Rutter  Tho: Wagstaffe

20 November 2023

November 21: Our Lady of Light, 1924, and Unitatis Redintegratio, 1964

Ninety nine years ago tomorrow, on the Feast of the Presentation of our Lady, November 21 1924, in the little Anglo-Catholic mining village of S Hilary in Cornwall, where Fr Bernard Walke so heroically worked and suffered to establish the Faith, one of his collaborators had a remarkable vision. Mother Theresa, Foundress of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary, describes it:
"We were preparing to go to church as usual just before 9 p.m.. It was a dark misty night, there was no moon and the stars were not showing at all. As I came down the stairs from my bedroom, I saw through a long window on the landing that there was a great glow of light shining all round the house and lighting up the fields beyond the house. My first thought was that there must be a fire somewhere, though the light was not red but white, and I called to Emma to come out with me to see from where it was coming. We went out of the front door, which opened straight on to a lane, and stood in the middle of the lane to see better.
"At the side of the house there was a gigantic figure, veiled and crowned in a dazzling, perfectly still light. The figure seemed to reach from the sky down to the ground. It was the figure of a woman but we saw no features, the face, as well as the rest of the figure, was veiled in the pure light. We could see the other's faces and the hedges in the lane, and the fields beyond the lane, quite clearly in this light. The figure did not move at all, though we stood silently watching it for nearly ten minutes, It was still there when we left and walked up to the church, but there was no sign of it when we returned in about three quarters of an hour. We did not speak, either that night or for a long time after, to one another about what we had seen.
"I think, while I was looking at the figure, I did not reflect at all on what I saw. I hardly even wondered at it, I watched with a great sense of quietness within myself and with no surprise. Afterwards, while we were praying in church, there came into my mind and soul a certainty that what we had seen concerned our Lady and must have been an apparition of her ... "

I think the most remarkable thing about this is that our Lady said nothing. There is Light: but there is nothing here of all the daily chatter and bustle reported from Medjugorje; instead, there is Silence! I am powerfully reminded of the Byzantine liturgical texts for our Lady's Presentation, with their incessant emphasis on the theme of Light. And we recall  another Byzantine perception, which links the sojourn of the Mother of God in the Temple with the hesychast ('silent') tradition of prayer. Yet I think it unlikely that the Cornish experience was a product of subconscious memories because I know of no evidence that Mother Foundress was a student of things Byzantine. Surely, it truly was Mary, Queen of Athos, the exemplar of hesychia, the prayer of Silence, who came to that Cornish lane in a great veil of Light, on this her Feast of Light and of Silence, and said nothing, and stood in silent prayer, and gave her Son's gift of Silence ('... perfectly still Light ... the figure did not move ... we stood silently ... I watched with a sense of great quietness ...'). The messages the Mother of God brings when her Son sends her among us do not always have to be verbal.

Oh dear ... I suppose this account raises the possibly contentious question of Appearances of our Lady to those not in full canonical communion with the See of Peter. The Catholic Church has never taught that such appearances are to be denied. Unitatis Redintegratio (3) teaches ...ex elementis seu bonis, quibus simul sumptis ipsa Ecclesia aedificatur et vivificatur, quaedam immo plura et eximia exstare possunt extra visibilia Ecclesiae catholicae saepta ... haec omnia, quae a Christo proveniunt et ad Ipsum conducunt, ad unicam Christi Ecclesiam iure pertinent (many of the good things by which the Church is built up can exist outside her visible boundaries, and they by right belong to her). This was far from an innovation in teaching; it expresses what had for centuries been Catholic praxis. And I can cite the fact that Eastern Catholic calendars today include liturgical commemorations of graces bestowed through the hands of the Mediatrix of All Graces extra visibilia Ecclesiae catholicae saepta. Subject to correction, I see no reason not to accept, as a private opinion, the probable authenticity of such reported visions. The Church, of course, reserves to herself the authoritative judgement about all such matters ... both within her visibilia saepta and outside them. Readers will remember the Apparitions in a Coptic context at Zeitun; and the appearances of our Lady of the Atonement to Anglicans not yet in Full Communion with the Holy See.

I will dare to go further. It seems to me that the powerful converging arguments for the authenticity of such an Apparition as this, on a day such as this, afford support to the teaching of Vatican II, about the authenticity of the Lord's gifts outside the visible boundaries of His Church; gifts which are graces truly belonging to the Church herself.

I have left parts of the original thread.

19 November 2023

Barberini (2)

"Imploret, clementissime Domine, nostris opportunam necessitatem opem devote a nobis prolata meditatio, qua sanctus olim Joannes Chrysostomus, in hac basilica conditus, te cum beatissimis Apostolis Petro et Paulo repraesentavit sic colloquentem: Circumdate hanc novam Sion, et circumvallate eam: hoc est, custodite, munite, precibus firmate; ut quando irascor in tempore, et orbem terrae concutio, aspiciens sepulcrum vestrum nunquam desiturum, et quae libenter propter me geritis stigmata, iram misericordia vincam, et ob hanc percipiam vestram intercessionem. Etenim quando Sacerdotium et Regnum video  lacrymari, statim quasi compatiens ad commiserationem flector, et illius meae vocis reminiscor: Protegam urbem hanc propter David servum meum, et Aaron, sanctum meum. Domine, fiat, fiat, Amen, Amen."

That is the text of the prayer of which I yesterday provided a translation. It follows penitential prayers and versicles and responses imploring Apostolic intercessions. Then comes the exquisite and ancient prayer which serves as the Collect of the Vigil Mass of SS Peter and Paul ... and, finally, Imploret

Somebody out there will be able to explain it all. To me, its oddities include the combination of SS Peter and Paul, who are not buried in the same basilica ... was the prayer to be said at the sepulcre of each of them? Is the prayer connected with Pope Urban's Consecration of the [new] Basilica of S Peter? It surely can't have been part of the actual service of Dedication, because the Dedication of even quite a modestly sized church is a lengthy business, and no sane Pope (or MC) would want to add stuff. 

Does 'Regnum' simply nod politely to Ancien regime  polity, or does it mean the Papal States?

Most interesting to me is the theological implication that Urbs Roma is an ancient and venerable Sacramental in which the City represents and carries the symbolic weight of the city of YHWH, the Sion of God. That idea, of course, certainly goes back to the composition of the Mass of Laetare  Sunday and probably to the Empress Helena.

18 November 2023

Barberini (1)

Sensitive readers will have noticed a recent interest, on my part, in the distinctive liturgical culture of the period a century and more before the reforms of S Pius X. My interest has been stimulated not a little by the thought that this is how S John Henry daily said his Mass and Office, not to mention the Mannings, the Fabers and the Wisemans and the rest of that great number of bishops and priests and lay benefactors of all classes who (in Newman's lapidary phrase) 'set up the Church again in England' (and built all those churches which were so enthusiastically vandalised in the period after 1960).

My studies, if that is not too grand a word, have been encouraged by a Breviary which I owe to my inheritance of books from Fr Michael Melrose, Vicar of S Giles, Reading. It is Mame, 1874. I wonder if other publishing houses also contained the prayer which I propose to discuss here. 


Mafeo Barberini was pope 1623-1644; he was both praised and condemned for the classical elegance of his Latin. On November 18, 1626, he consecrated S Peter's.

This prayer is incorporated on the Breviary page before the prayer Aperi and the other preliminaries of the Divine Office. I have tried to translate it literally; given the sophistication of Barberini's Latinity, I am awkwardly aware that I may have misunderstood him!

"Most Merciful Lord, may the meditation devoutly uttered by us implore opportune help for our needs, by which S John Chrysostom, buried in this basilica, once represented thee speaking thus with the most blessed Apostles Peter and Paul: Surround this new Sion, and build fortifications round her: that is, guard, fortify, strengthen her with prayers; that when I am wrathful for a time, and strike the round world, beholding your sepulchre destined never to end, and the wounds you willingly bear on my account, I may conquer wrath with mercy, and for this purpose (ob hanc) I perceive your intercession. And when I see the Priesthood and the Kingdom the object of tears, I immediately feel compassion and am moved to mercy, and remember those words of mine: I will protect this city on account of David, my Servant, and Aaron, my Holy One. Lord, may it be, may it be, Amen, Amen."

Tomorrow, I hope to offer a few observations, and to provide the Latin original.

17 November 2023

Three Cheers for Vatican II (not III)

 As any Fule do Kno, under Papa Barberini, known often as Urban VIII, the hymns of the Roman Breviary were 'revised' ... or, if you are a classicising pedant, 'corrected' ... so that that obeyed the 'laws' of the Latinity (Prose and Verse) of the Augustan period.

Even S Ambrose was not spared humiliation. I offer a few words about a locus in his hymn Splendor paternae gloriae, which pops up at ferial Lauds on Mondays. 

[I wish, by the way, that not so many ferial offices fall victim to those never-ending Confessor Bishops who founded religious orders. I believe that the old Lauds Office hymns offer an unbeatable sweep of teaching on the spirituality of Light and on the rhythmic return of Light, the daily Ikon of Christ.]

Splendor paternae gloriae expresses a hope that Christ might be our Food; that Faith may be our Drink; that, "rejoicing, we may imbibe the sober/ drunkenness of the Spirit": "laeti bibamus sobriam/ ebrietatem Spititus".

Surely, an exquisitely eloquent oxymoron.

But Barberini gave a supercilious sniff [have I just perpetrated another oxymoron?] and emended ebrietatem to profusionem.

Happily, Sacrosanctum Concilium ordered the restoration of the original texts of the hymns ... in most cases. (Unhappily, the overconfidence of those charged with implementing the wishes of the Council led to excessive creativity in the latter years of the post-Conciliar period ... but that's another story.)

This conciliar restoration means that, in the Liturgia Horarum, S Ambrose's text is restored to due honour. Hooray!

Wozzat you say? The Barberinians perhaps thought that ebrietatem was insufficiently 'classical'? Pull the other one ... If it was good enough for Tully in the Tusculan Disputations ...

But what d'you think about this ... the conciliar chappies rejected the customary doxology on the grounds that "Haec strophe [they are referring to the last stanza, Aurora cursus ...], certe doxologica, reicit aliam doxologiam"? This stanza which seems to them certe doxologica only mentions the first two Persons of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity ... yes; I know the Spirit is mentioned twice earlier in the hymn, but, all the same, don't we nowadays rather expect ... er ...

16 November 2023

I wonder ...

 I wonder, annually, about the Mass proper for S Josaphat, whom we 'kept' quite recently.

The Collect begins "Excita ..." The Introit began "Gaudeamus ...".

These are both first millennium formulae common in the Roman Rite. It is almost as if the nineteenth century popes or functionaries who were responsible for this Mass wanted to say "The Unia which existed in the first Millennium between East and West, for which S Josaphat was martyred, makes it suitable that, when we Latins celebrate this Saint, we should do so with formulae redolent of our own liturgical Tradition during that First Millennium". 

He was beatified in 1643 by Urban VIII (1623-1644). The ODCC says that he was the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonised after process in the Congregation of Rites, in 1867, that is, during the pontificate of Pius IX. Later, Leo XIII made his observance universal. But he had been beatified in 1643, and the usual process was for a candidate to be beatified and then assigned propers printed in the Appendix pro aliquibus locis. If that candidate was subsequently canonised, and if a future Roman Pontiff desired to make his cultus universal in the Latin Churches, the liturgical provision already available in the the Appendix would often be yanked out and made the liturgical provision of the whole (Latin) Church.

Incidentally, collects beginning Excita can be found in earlier Latin Sacramentaries: the Verona Sacramentary has such a collect for S Lawrence in August; 'Gelasianum' one in Holy Week.

15 November 2023

A Dodgy trick (2)

Monday: The Holy Angels.

Tuesday:  The Holy Apostles.

Wednesday: S Joseph.

Thursday: The Most Holy Sacrament.

Friday: The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday: The Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary the Virgin. 

Such were the Votive Offices granted in the circumstances I explained yesterday. There is, by the way, no obvious relationship between these Offices and the votive Masses for the days of the week in the Carolingian Little Missal attributed to Alcuin.

The sources of the materials in these votives are, for the most part, fairly obvious. Modern readers might be puzzled by the Friday office; most of it is taken from the Commemoratio Passionis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, which, in the nineteenth century Appendix pro Aliquibus Locis, comes on the Tuesday after Sexagesima. The hymns are characteristic of the Counter Reformation; affective; emotional. "Grieving eyes, scatter tears"; such imperatives will combine with rhetorical questions ("Who is such a person as not to weep?"). Perhaps they are the metrical equivalents of the the paintings of Zurbaran; of the polychromatic statues still displayed in public in Iberian Catholic cultus. Perhaps they lose some of their vitality out of that context. Perhaps not.

They apparently supplied a need! The volume containing these votive offices is officially dated to July 1883; in April, 1896, Imprimatur was given to an additional Office of Ss Peter and Paul, alternative to the Tuesday Office of the Apostles in general. But in 1911, Divino afflatu suppressed the entire initiative.

D'you know, I can't remember where I bought that book. I thought I purchased it in a shop selling second-hand Catholic books in the Strand ... called Ducketts ... but an internet search reveals to me no evidence of any such emporium. I must have imagined it!

14 November 2023

A Dodgy Trick (1)

As the Novus Ordo presbyter leaps out of his austere bed and reaches for his Liturgia Horarum, he is letting himself in for ... have I got this right? ... fourteen psalms, from the Invitatory to the end of Compline. Except, of course, that it's not actually fourteen psalms, because several of them are are likely to be psalms broken up into small segments.

During the pontificate of Pius IX, things were different. Simply to get through Mattins alone, Father might have needed to recite twelve psalms. And they were not sliced up into portions. There is evidence that this was quite a burden for a number of clergy. In fact, the Divine Office had been a problem area for quite a time. Benedict XIV had set up a commission in the hope of dealing with some, at least, of the difficulties, but his efforts came to nothing.

Nestling on my bookshelves is a second-hand book, still with the price (3/6) pencilled in. I bought it as a schoolboy; it describes itself as OFFICIA VOTIVA PER ANNUM a SS. D. N. Leone PP. XIII concessa, additis Lectionibus Scripurae occurrentis, Festorum simplicium ac Vigiliarum, Orationibus Sanctorum, necnon Vesperis Dominicarum Festorumque semiduplicium, quae ad Officia ista integre recitanda pertinent.

The publisher was Desclee; he explained that that these Votive Offices, semidouble in liturgical rank, were granted by the decree URBIS ET ORBIS of the SCR on 5 JULY 1883. They might be used except at such obvious times as Ash Wednesday ... Passiontide ... etc ....

You wanna know what was going on here? It all meant that a cleric who didn't feel quite up to the burden of psalmody in the then-current Breviarium Romanum could recite the Votive Offices in this volume, and because their rank was semidouble, they imposed on him a much smaller burden of psalmody to recite ... although still considerably greater than what today's Novus Ordo cleric faces.

Everybody knew that this business was really not quite kosher. The great historian of the Breviary, Batiffol, himself shamefacedly admitted "All of us have recited these votive offices, for lack of the leisure needed for the recitation of the ferial office". He considered it a mark of saintliness that Cardinal Richard, Archbishop of Paris, "a man possessed of a sound sense of liturgy" had never used these offices. Cardinal Parocchi let it be known that he considered these votive offices entirely contrary to the tradition and desire of the Church ... and he was actually a member of the SCR!

Mgr Grospellier wanted these offices suppressed, because their introduction was "a principle absolutely novel". 

But what were these votive offices? Do their texts contain anything of value? Those questions are for tomorrow.


13 November 2023


One should always be open to adverbs one has not met before. Recently, I particularly enjoyed meeting Vicatim.

Its meaning of course, is not obscure. It comes from 'Vicus', which means the shanty town which would tend to grow up arround a Roman military establshment for families, tradesmen, and military hangers-on. I recall, years ago, when I was doing Duty for the (Anglican) parish of Burgh-by-Sands, on Hadrian's Wall, we had a group of archaeologists in the Rectory garden, excavating the 'vicus' which accompanied the Wall Fort of  'ABALLAVA'. They were led by a blond Welshman ... yes ...

Archaeologists call the villages which grew up in such contexts 'vici'. Whether this is what the Romans called them, or whether the usage is a convenient modern academic adaptation, I do not know. But, certainly in the area of the Wall, some of these vici, at least, became quite significant architecturally. Our Family enjoyed lending a hand and seeing what emerged from the ground.

So, if we were to talk about a procession round the vicus, vicus would mean the unofficial township around an important Roman site. We would be thinking about a procession ... perhaps, at Aballava, in honour of Hercules and the Deity of the Emperor (an altar with that dedication has been found there). And we could conveniently talk, adverbially, about such a procession being done vicatim, if we expected it to go piously winding round the streets and alley-ways of the township,

Which brings me very naturally on to the subject of Apostolic Constitutions.

Not that I claim particular knowledge of this subject; but, often enough, I have seen that phrase attached to what look to me ... am I right, or am I right? ... like really important bits of the Church's law ... new codes of Canon Law ... new translations of Scripture ... erections of Ordinariates ...

I am refering here to an Apostolic Constitution (Ubi Primum) of 2 October 1898 ... or, for the mathematically slower among you, of the Sixth before the Nones of October. It bears the authority of  Pope Leo XIII. It contains, most importantly, norms for Rosary Sodalities. 

Not that these norms are revolutionary: they mostly reassert legislation of S Pius V (1569); Gregory XIII (1573); Paul V (1608). 

And what they assert (XIV), among other enactments, is that on the first Sunday of each month, each Sodality should hold a pompa of our blessed Lady.

And that they should do so vicatim.

12 November 2023


Today's Sunday Collect in the Old Roman Rite and in the Ordinariate Rite is a beautiful and ancient prayer asking God to guard (custodi) his Household (familia) with "continua pietate".

Pietas is the word which gives us the English term piety; but there is rather more to it than that. After all, the English word piety suggests a humble human attitude of devout religious attention to God. Perhaps it even evokes a vision of an old woman of either gender who belongs to multiple religious societies. That is misleading. And it would confuse you as you read this particular prayer: after all, God isn't pious towards us; We're supposed to be pious towards him.

Pius is a Latin adjective and pietas is the noun that comes from it; pietate is what's called the Ablative, so pietate means "with pietas". And what these words refer to is the sense of duty and obligation which somebody has towards those to whom he is bound by bonds of kinship or religion or country or friendship or whatever. In Vergil's epic the Aeneid, the hero is called "Pius Aeneas" because he is dutiful to the Gods (he rescues the sacred Palladium); to his country Troy (for which he fights as long as possible: when there is no further hope, he guides its remnants to a new country); to his Father (whom he carries out of the wreckage of Troy upon his shoulders); to his friend Pallas (an adolescent whose death in battle Aeneas avenges in the bloodthirsty climax at the end of Book XII of the Aeneid).

But Vergil also uses pietas to refer to the gods themselves: "May the gods, if there is any pietas in heaven ...."; and "Almighty Juppiter ... if any ancient pietas regards human labours ..." (compare "If pia divinities can do anything ..."). The idea was that the Gods, too, can be thought of as having their duties towards mortals (or particular mortals). And this sense was to be very common in Christian Latin, which developed as a special dialect crafted to serve the needs of Christians and especially of their Liturgy. So pietas becomes pretty well synonymous with misericordia (mercy) and clementia (clemency). And the end of this story of the evolution of words is that we get the English derivative pity. (Incidentally, the old Lewis and Short is rather less helpful on this than the newer Oxford Latin Dictionary.)

So ... does pietate in this collect mean (1) our devoted duty to God, or (2) his covenanted loving-kindness to us? In his English translation, Archbishop Cranmer got it wrong and thought it meant the former (1): so he rendered it as "true religion" (and, in another similar collect, "godliness"). Experts are agreed, however, that it means the latter (2). But Cranmer was aware of the two possibilities: for Epiphany 1 he correctly rendered caelesti pietate ('heavenly pietas') as "mercifully".

In fact, there is a slight difference between 'ordinary' Christian speech and the usage of prayers like the collect we are considering now. In more 'ordinary' everyday Christian Latin, for example, in sermons, pietas refers to human attitudes towards God more often than the other way round; in prayers, the word most commonly refers to God's loving attitude towards us. As it does in this collect. This may be a spin-off from the way that, in Roman Imperial circles, people addressed the Mighty. Another possibility is that this may be another example of how 'Christian Latin', as used in prayer, adopted much of the style and vocabulary of very ancient pre-Christian Roman prayer-language; a process brilliantly documented by Christine Mohrmann.

[The main expert on Christian Latin was the great Christine Mohrmann. Today's post also benefits from books by Sr Mary Gonzaga Haessly and Sr Mary Pierre Ellebracht (which I gather can both be found on the Internet). This is a subject to which, before the collapse of both liturgical scholarship and of women's religious communities in the 1960s, women scholars made very significant contributions. What a tremendous shame that even their names are now so little known! I regard it as a demand of pietas to do what I can to remedy the situation!]

11 November 2023

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus

In 2003, on Remembrance Sunday, I was the house-for-duty Curate of seven Devon country churches, under a full-time stipendiary Rector - except that he had taken early retirement nine days before on account of health problems caused by those who hated him for his opposition to the sacerdotal ordination of women. But I still had the help of a retired bishop, who lived a few doors away and who, in two years, had become a very dear friend. So, that Sunday, at one end of the United Benefice I said Mass and did the village Act of Remembrance; at the other end, Bishop John Richards did the same. After brunch, he went for a walk with his family; a couple of hours later, after a sudden stroke brought on by his years of selfless service, he was dead.

John Richards was a former Exeter diocesan Archdeacon and a very establishment man who was made one of the first two flying bishops, and in those days after 1993, days heavy with the danger of despair, built up and strengthened a people faithful to the Lord within the apostate body still called the Church of England. The skills which he had used as Archdeacon (and he was a Church Commissioner) to chivvy parishes who were late with their quota were now brought into play to defend the Faithful Remnant against the bullying and cruelty of the liberal establishment.

Going around with John Richards, I soon realised that he had created a new style of episcopal ministry, free from pomposity and prelacy and animated only by the love of God and a perceived calling to strengthen his brethren. PEVs, like ante-Nicene bishops, had no jurisdiction in the modern sense. I think it was the now deceased Bishop (later Mgr) Edwin Barnes who acutely remarked to his clergy 'Fathers, remember that the only jurisdiction we have is what you give us'. I thank God that one part of the patrimony which we carried into the Ordinariates was this vision of pastoral and unprelatical episkope.

John Richards was an Anglican to his fingertips. As we settled down together in the train for the long haul back to Devon after some meeting in London, and I start murmuring some Latin from some Romish volume, he would be fishing out a battered Prayer Book and Bible for O Lord, open thou our lips. But he was far too busy and too big a man to waste his time on anti-Romanism. Whatever he was or did, it was positive and Christ-driven. I think that, had he lived, he would have had no doubts about accompanying his former fellow Exeter Archdeacon Robin Ellis and joining the Ordinariate. But he would have done things in a distinctively Anglican way and in his own inimitatively combative way. He would probably have got down straightaway to enthusiastically devising ways of showing those bloody papists how much better we could do things in the Ordinariate. "Now look here, boy, now we're in the Ordinariate, what we've got to do is  ..."

I can almost hear his voice saying it. He was a dear man.

Cuius animae propitietur Deus.

10 November 2023

The LORD be with you [2]

 And every Mass starts publicly with the priest turning to the plebs sancta Dei and greeting them with "Dominus vobiscum": "YHWH [be] with you". And, before the Canon, priest and people establish contact with these same words.

The suitability of this is emphasised by the plain and historical fact that the God who wonderfully created the dignity of the Human Substance yet more wonderfully restored it when Gabriel appeared bearing this greeting, saying exactly these words (in the singular: Ho Kurios meta sou) to a Girl in Nazareth: 'YHWH be with you'. S Luke points out to us that what surprised Mary was, apparently, not the sudden appearance of an Archangel ... as you might have expected ... whatever Gabriel may have looked like ... but what he  said: epi toi logoi dietarakthe ... potapos eie ho aspasmos houtos ....

But, first, a vocative: Khaire kekharitomene, 'Hail Graced One'. We mut include here Luke 1:30: do not fear, for you have found grace, favour (heures gar kharin) with God. Ruth said that she has found grace (heuron kharin) and prayed that she might find grace (heuroimi kharin). Ruth is told 'me phobou', do not fear; the same words that are used to Mary; she describes herself as your 'doule', 'slave'; Mary uses the same word for herself. And the word 'eulogemene' used by Elizabeth ('Blessed') is used in this passage in Ruth. 

S Luke's narrative is shot through and through with vocabulary and turns of phrase from the Septuagintal translation of the Hebrew Bible; the word 'pastiche' almost suggests itself to me.

But the thought I would like to leave with you is this: What a lot you are carrying with you, each time you pray the Hail Mary! And perhaps, mentally, you should capitalise the crucial phrase as "the LORD is with thee". 

When Elizabeth wonders why it is that the 'Meter tou Kuriou mou' should come to her, surely we have here Theotokos?

Ave Maria is (at least) as 'heavy' theologically as the Oratio dominica.

9 November 2023

The LORD be with you [1]

When, um, did you last read the Book of Ruth? " ... and his name was Boos". Very 'Lucan' in style, isn't it? ... See Luke 1:26-27. ""And behold, Boos came from Bethlehem; and he said to the reapers 'The Lord be with you'". Clearly, a man of substance. 

Except that if you have a Bible translated in the tradition of Anglican bibles deriving from the Authorised (or 'King James') version, it will read 'Boaz', because that is how the Septuagint, the standard Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, gives his name.

And, additionally, your Anglican-based Bible will read 'The LORD be with you'. 

Does that make any difference? It most certainly does.

In the written Hebrew, the Name of the Hebrew God, or rather, its consonants, is given without any fuss. YHWH (or, if you prefer, HWHY). But the Jews got into the habit of never uttering the Name, because of its extreme holiness. So, when the Biblical text was being read aloud, and the reader got to YHWH, what he actually vocalised ... said ... was 'the Lord'. So 'the Lord' became a regular stand-in for YHWH. And when the Old Testament was translated into other languages, from Greek onwards, the words for 'Lord', in those languages, were substituted for YHWH.

And the Anglican translators had the brilliant idea of printing the word in capital letters: LORD. This is brilliant because it gives valuable information. "The LORD" means that, at this point, the Hebrew text gives the Name YHWH which is too sacred for us to utter without disrespect.

So what Boos said to his reapers was "YHWH be with you".

Apologies to those of you who knew all that.

One of the many excellent reasons why we Clerks in Holy Orders are canonically obliged to say the Divine Office is to ensure that our Mass is situated in a thoroughly Jewish, Hebrew, setting and culture. The God we worship is the Jewish God. No ifs, no buts. As a great pope once said, we are spiritually Semites. Our religion is ... The Genuine Judaism. Hence, all those psalms we recite with all those references to "Thy Name". (Generations of intelligent Anglicans must have wondered how we can glorify His Name when we are not given that Name in most of our texts.)

And, just as, in the Canon of the Mass of the Authentic Roman Rite, we give a daily central mention to "our" Patriarch Abraham, so, in the majestic climaxes of the Divine Office, we mention Abraham in the Gospel Canticles, the Benedictus and the Magnificat at Lauds and Vespers. And we talk incessantly about Sion and going there and worshipping in the Temple of the LORD. Why, we even do it as clergy when we stand at the foot of the Altar, morning after morning after morning, Sacrificing Priests preparing to climb up ad Sancta Sanctorum and to immolate the Lamb. S John Henry reminded us that, day by day, we offer up the Immaculate Lamb. And apparently, in hushed horror at their scandalised tea parties, the clerical wives of Oxford remarked that, every morning, Dr Pusey ("Did you know this, my dear?") slaughtered a lamb in the Cathedral. 

Somebody had got something across!

8 November 2023


The compilers of the C of E's abortive "1928" Prayer Book appear to have taken over, from the Irish Catholic Calendar (the clue is that they borrowed the Collect used in Ireland on November 6) the bright idea of a festival of "Saints, Martyrs, Missionaries, and Doctors of the Church of England" ... which they intelligently placed on November 8 [the old Octave Day of All Saints]. 

"Three centuries ago, and the Catholic Church, that great creation of God's power, stood in this land in pride of place. It had the honours of near a thousand years upon it; it was enthroned in some twenty sees up and down the broad country; it was based in the will of a faithful people; it energized through ten thousand instruments of power and influence; and it was enobled by a host of Saints and Martyrs. The churches, one by one, recounted and rejoiced in the line of glorified intercessors, who were the respective objects of their grateful homage. Canterbury alone numbered perhaps some sixteen, from St Augustine to St Dunstan and St Elphege, from St Anselm and St Thomas down to S Edmund. York had its St Paulinus, St John, St Wilfrid, and St William; London its St Erconwald; Durham, its St Cuthbert; Winton, its St Swithin. Then there were St Aidan of Lindisfarne, and St Hugh of Lincoln, and St Chad of Lichfield, and St Thomas of Hereford, and St Oswald and St Wulfstan of Worcester, and St Osmund of Salisbury, and St Birinus of Dorchester , and St Richard of Chichester. ..."

S John Henry Newman. 

Here is the 1928 English translation of the old Irish Catholic Collect for the day:

"We beseech thee, O Lord, to multiply thy grace upon us who commemorate the saints of our nation; that, as we rejoice to be their fellow-citizens on earth, so we may have fellowship also with them in heaven; through ... "

I regard that as graceful in its elegant simplicity ... 'Old Roman' in its noble brevity. 

Unfortunately, when the Ordinariate Missal emerged, what it gave us was:

"Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we may in all things be comforted by the intercession of holy Mary, Mother of God, of all the holy Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, and Virgins, and all the Saints of England (Wales); and that like as we do call to mind their godliness of life; so we may be effectually defended by their help; through ... "

Plodding? Verbose? 

7 November 2023

Vain Repetitions?

 Sacrosanctum Concilium wisely advises the avoidance of "repetitiones inutiles". This, of course, implies that some repetitions are not 'useless'. 

But a prejudice against any and all repetitions is not a new thing among liturgists.

I have in mind today the old arrangements with regard to the Sundays in October. In the days of S John Henry Newman, in many dioceses including those of England, the first, second, third and fourth Sundays in this month commemorated, in turn, the Holy Rosary [and Lepanto!]; the Motherhood; the Purity; and the Patronage of our Lady. But, so a Dom Grospellier argued, certain modern festivals, wherein are celebrated this or that mystery of the life of our Saviour or the Blessed Virgin, are but useless repetitions of what is contained in the office of the season. "Thus, for example, the double Mystery of the Virginity and of the Maternity of Mary is expressed in a manner most beautifully poetical, and full of the symbolism dear to the Christian epoch when it was written, in the office of the octave [day] of Christmas, that is to say of the festival which we now call the Circumcision of our Lord. In the feasts for the Sundays in October, conceded to many dioceses, we find similar repetitions."

I spent quite a few decades teaching, both the younger and the older generations. And the most important piece of advice I could give to anybody setting out to teach members of either category is this: Don't assume that when you've said something once, you've done the job. You haven't ... however brilliantly you explained it! People learn at different speeds. And, above all, they remember different parts of what you say. If you aren't prepared to repeat yourself ... and to do so quite often ... you aren't much of a teacher. Don't expect your A-level results to sparkle!

The didactic element in the Church's Liturgy is subject to the same law. The widespread ignorance of the Church's teaching in our own time is, in my view, partly the result of a failure to grasp this principle.


6 November 2023

Fifteen Altars, Fifteen Pictures?

Saint John Henry, with the English Martyrs presumably in mind, refers to those "whose pictures are above our altars or soon shall be, the surest proof that the Lord's arm has not waxen short, nor his mercy failed--they ... are looking down from their thrones on high ... ". 

In our days, we have a genre facing near-extinction: the Sacred Picture above, behind, an altar.

I did a post not long ago, being snide about the way 'Art' tends to end up being ripped out of its sacral context, at the mercy of the grim and generally bog-ignorant 'art history' industry. Today, I am complaining rather more about the way the supply of such art has pretty well dried up anyway. Not entirely: there is the splendid new canvas behind one of the altars in the Ordinariate basilica of S Agatha's, in the Portsmouth area of Venice not far from the Bacino. And those most admirable people, the Brompton Oratorians, have created a stylish chapel of S John Henry, with a fine copy of the Arundel/Millais Newman. (Plenty of space in that chapel, incidentally, for the faithful to fill up with crutches and silver ex voto expressions of gratitude for answers to prayer, as we all  bother Providence for dottore subito.)

And, indeed, in a recent number of the Brompton Parish Magazine, the Provost writes that when the Roman Oratory Church was being rebuilt, S Philip Neri insisted "that every chapel should contain an image of Our Lady over the altar. His personal favourite was Federico Barocci's rendering of the embrace between the Blessed Virgin and Elizabeth, for the altar of the Visitation, before which he was to be seen in ecstasy. And so, when the Roman Oratory fathers constructed a shrine after his death to contain his mortal remains, they made sure that the beautiful painting of our saint by Guido Reni over the altar depicted him on his knees, in Mass vestments, in front of a vision of the Madonna and Child."

Pictures over altars were still quite normal in the good old days of good old Papa Pecci, aka Leo XIII, who wrote a Rosary Encyclical each year. He seems to have been genuinely thrilled that the Diocese of Lourdes-Tarbes had built a Rosary Basilica, with fifteen altars honouring the Fifteen Mysteries. He commissioned a buddy, the Cardinal Archbishop of Rheims, to go and and consecrate it, giving him faculties to wear his pallium extra provinciam. [REDHERRINGWARNING: the Apostolic Letter describing this reads "praesenti autem anno a quo suum saeculum vicesimum ducit exordium" ... readers will rember how, in our time, millions of the innumerate all round the world were convinced that the New Millennium began with the year 2000. Pope Leo, apparently, could count, because he was writing in 1901.]

5 November 2023

Please ...

 I have recently been suffering rather from my malady, and intermittently falling over. 

Please pray for me; and be generous if I am rather backward in enabling comments, or responding to emails.

Thank you.

John Hunwicke

November 5, Feast of the Holy Relics

What a wholesome liturgical instinct this glorious festival represents. In the medieval English rites, it tried out various dates; May 22 or the Monday after the Ascension at Exeter; the Sunday after the Translation of S Thomas (July 7) at Hereford and Sarum - although Sarum notes that 'nuper' it occupied the Octave Day of our Lady's Nativity, with an appropriate Collect "Grant we beseech thee Almighty God, that the merits may protect us of the holy Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary and of thy Saints whose relics are kept in this church ...". The traditional Benedictine rite keeps this festival on May 13, presumably a learned allusion to the Dedication of the Pantheon in Rome, upon this day, as the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. Before the reforms of S Pius X, this festival was to be found among the Masses For Some Places on October 26, or on the Last Sunday of October.

After S Pius X, the Feast of the Relics settled, most appropriately, onto a day within the Octave of All Saints, November 5, where it was observed by papal indult in certain places (often as a Greater Double). The colour to be used is red. This is consistent with the fact that the Office is the Common of Many Martyrs, despite the fact that not all the Saints whose relics we this day venerate were martyred. Perhaps we may relate this usage to the primitive notion that the Martyrs are the prototypical saints; that the unmartyred sancti et sanctae in a sense just piggy-back along upon the martyrs.

The dear old Sacred Congregation of Rites sometimes felt tempted to turn to Byzantine sources to get a richer mixture than one always finds in formal Western texts (Sessio xxv of Trent is sound enough on the relics but a trifle sober). So the proper lections at Mattins for this feast are taken from that always-reliable Doctor of the Church S John of Damascus (Fr Eric Mascall once observed the propensity of Roman liturgists to resort to Eastern sources whenever they felt moved to say something 'extreme'). "For since Life itself and the Author of Life was numbered among the dead, we do not call those who finished their last day in the hope of Resurrection and of faith in Him 'Dead'. For how can a dead body utter miracles? Through relics the devils are cast out, diseases sent fleeing, the sick healed, the blind see ..." etc. etc.. The Collect is a fine composition which likewise sees the miracles performed through the relics of Saints as pledges of the Resurrection: Increase in us O Lord our faith in the Resurrection, who in the relics of thy Saints dost perform marvellous works: and make us partakers of the immortal glory of which our veneration of their ashes [cineres] is a pledge.

In the Leofric Missal, copied probably from texts brought to England in S Augustine's rucksack, there is a Votive for use in a Church or Oratory where relics are held. Its Collect lists all those categories of Saints of whom we might possess relics ... including our Lady and the Angelic Powers! A couple of its texts use the word patrocinium apparently to mean "our hoard of relics", and one phrase reminds God that we have gone to the trouble to collect them (colligere curavimus)!

This celebration disappeared from Church life in the post-Conciliar period, for presumably the same reasons that at the same time caused the Jesuits, who then occupied the Church of S Aloysius in this City, to have a massive bonfire of all the relics and reliquaries in their splendid Relics Chapel (the late Fr Bertram's elegant booklet about those events reminds one uncannily of the similar things which happened throughout England in the late 1540s ... mercifully, the gracious spirit of S Philip Neri has now restored lost glories by filling the Alyoggers Relics Chapel with a grand new collection).

This feast is, in my view, rich in themes for evangelical preaching and teaching, and ripe for wider revival. It teaches the goodness of material things against a false 'spiritualism'; it preaches the ultimately indissoluble link between Body and Soul against the sub-Christian notion that only the soul really matters; it proclaims the transforming eschatological glory which will clothe this perishable with what is imperishable, and this mortal with what is immortal, in a moment (en atomoi), in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

4 November 2023

Nasty Newman?

The late Henry Chadwick, the towering Anglican intellectual of the second half of the twentieth century (an extinct species), believed that John Henry Newman was the most superb writer of Satire and of Irony in the English language. True! I commend to those who have never read it Newman's semi-autobiographical novel Loss and Gain. He exposes to our laughter the absurdities of popular Evangelicalism; of sonorous, pompous, and dignified Oxford dons who were ... well, actually just plain ridiculous (and far from well-read). 

So were the new religious movements thrown up by the ferment of the 1840s. With exquisite cruelty he analyses the hypocrisies of the comfortable domestic affluence, combined with a dilettante affection for the superficial trappings of Catholicism, enjoyed by a certain type of Establishment, monied, gothic-romanticist young Anglican. Clearly, all this touched a raw nerve, and the Novel was the only way in which Saint John Henry could express the strength of his feelings. And not much more gentle was his ironic mockery of those daft enough to believe that the Birmingham Oratory contained oubliettes in which heiresses were tortured to death for their inheritances.

Newman, frankly, took no prisoners. And his mode of attack is, essentially, to laugh at his adversaries. This, surely, is the most ruthless possible way of putting somebody down. If a person criticises you in a flat, humdrum, pathetic, terribly earnest style, s/he doesn't get to you. You cheerfully write him/her off as a poor, sad, silly old thing. But if s/he laughs ... or sniggers ... at you ... !! 

You see, the victims of this sort of attack  quite simply ... to quote the martial figure of Corporal Jones of Dad's Army ... don't like it up 'em. The grander you are, the more surrounded you are by people who defer to you and treat you with respect and deference, the less you like the satirist. The more you are a bully, an obsessive oppressive, or a control-freak, the more indignant the satirist makes you feel. Ho anaginoskon noeito.

And, in many ways, our own age is made for the satirist. Never was there a time when the the Great, the Wise, and the Good, were less able to control a narrative ... the narrative ... any of the narratives. The Internet has done for them and for all their shabby little techniques for establishing dominance. 

 If, being Intellectuals, you would like an intellectual ... indeed, a theological ... account and justification of Satire and Laughter, I offer you the collection Essays in Satire by another brilliant Anglican, a generation later than Newman, who also brought his satirical gifts into the Catholic Church: Mgr Ronald Knox. In his Introduction, he entertained the speculation that "our sense of the ridiculous is not, in its original application, a child's toy at all, but a weapon, deadly in its efficacy, entrusted to us for exposing the shams and hypocrisies of the world. The tyrant may arm himself in triple mail, may surround himself with bodyguards, may sow his kingdom with a hedge of spikes, so that free speech is crushed and criticism muzzled. Nay, worse, he may so debauch the consciences of his subjects with false history and with sophistical argument that they come to believe him the thing he gives himself out for, a creature half-divine, a heaven-sent deliverer. 

"One thing there is that he still fears; one anxiety still bids him turn this way and that to scan the faces of his slaves. He is afraid of laughter. The satirist stands there, like the little child in the procession when the Emperor walked through the capital in his famous new clothes; his is the tiny voice that interprets the consciousness of a thousand onlookers: 'But, Mother, he has no clothes on at all!'"

3 November 2023

Distractions and Ramblings

As I said Mass yesterday for All the Souls, a distraction struck me at the Offertory.

I was just about to bless the cruet labelled Aqua when Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury 1961-1974, distracted my mind. Here is a story which those of you who lack the advantages of Anglican Previous may not already have heard.

At Requiems, one does not bless, sign with the Cross, the cruet containing water.  But on one occasion, Ramsey momentarily forgot this, and began to make the sign of the Cross. But then he remembered, and, half way through the blessing, changed it into a kind of rubbing-out gesture, deleting, as were, the half-given blessing.

Ramsey would, Fr Aidan Nichols has pointed out, have been one of the great Archbishops of Canterbury, but for the fact that, during the Humanae Vitae controversies, he took the wrong side. Perhaps, you might say, he was 'around' at the wrong time ...

It is so important to be on-stream at the right time. Perhaps that is part of what is meant by the Et ne nos inducas eis peirasmon at the end of the Our Father. A shame PF was unaware of this when he blasphemously purported to change the Prayer.

Dear me, what a tragedy it is that PF has (apparently) never had at hand somebody to explain the Christian Faith to him!

Footnote: when bilingual service books for Papal rites are printed, the Italian column gives the Bergoglian corruption of the Our Father; but the Latin column gives a translation of the version as mistakenly delivered by the Man from Nazareth.

2 November 2023

Pelagianism and Prayer for the Departed

Some time ago we took buses to Shipton-under-Wychwood (don't we have entrancing place-names in England?) and did a walk in the valley of the Evenlode (and beautiful river names?). In Shipton church is a palimpsest brass.

The 'front' bears an inscription about a woman who died in 1548. Interestingly, it bears no hint of expectation that it might be appropriate to pray for the repose of her soul. This calls for explanation: out in the Oxfordshire backwoods in 1549 the people rose in rebellion against the Prayer Book. So you don't expect to find there evidence of a Protestantism which by then had made little progress beyond some very small areas in the East of England. But the inscription cheerfully assured us that her virtues and her virtuous deeds had undoubtedly brought her straight to heaven.

You don't need to remind me that this assumption is not quite what poor dear Fraterculus Luther thought he meant when he was plugging Justification By Faith Alone. But it is in line with the tens of thousands of funerary inscriptions dating from the ensuing Protestant centuries, postulating certain and immediate sainthood for every deceased person on account of their unbelievably virtuous lives (there is that old story about a little girl who read the gravestones in a churchyard and asked "Mummy, where are all the bad people buried?"). 

I wonder if anyone has ever written an interpretative account of how the academic doctrinaire Protestantism of Luther and Calvin (Faith, not Works) led with such immediate and apparently automatic ease to its precise and polar opposite (Works), a practical popular Pelagianism.

I do have a theory about this. It is that it was precisely the much-derided 'chantry' system, with its financial link between clergy remuneration and masses for the welfare of the souls of the Faithful Departed, which de facto reminded common unacademic medievals that we are all sinners who depend upon God's gracious mercy for our salvation. De facto, take that away and common unacademic folk, needing to fill a conceptual vacuum, will replace it in their own minds with the assumption that since the recently departed Mary Smith doesn't need Masses said for her soul - the government has just declared this and has sequestrated all the assets of all the chantries - ergo if we love Ms Smith we need to be convinced that her good deeds outweigh any sins. 

It becomes psychologically important to shy away in our minds from the disturbing consequence that, if this is not so, then she is, er, in Hell. 

Moreover, if there is no Purgatory, then she is already in Heaven ... or Hell. So ... this is my tentative hypothetical proposal ... the paradoxical emphasis in popular Protestantism upon salvation by works (which is ultimately to feed into a facile Universalism which assumes that everybody except probably Adolf Hitler and Myra Hindley will end up Saved), emerged in 1548 from a mass crisis of popular rethinking about soteriology and the Departed.

On the back of the brass, in the reused original dating from 1492, we have a potent reminder of the complex and deep-rooted system which was destroyed by the suppression of the chantries. It is an account of bequests to the Guild of our Lady in Aylesbury for Masses and Dirges. Presumably it came on to the market in the despoliations which followed the suppression of the chantries (statute of December 1547). 

It reminded me of the manuscript* description of endowments made by Sir John Percival, Lord Mayor of London in the reign of the first Tudor, which hung by his tomb in the London City church of S Mary Woolnoth; presumably such public declarations were at least partly intended to ensure the compliance of future generations in fulfilling the dispositions.

*Rediscovered at the back of a cupboard in S Mary Woolnoth; the interested can find an account in a piece I published in 2007 in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association (they might also reread Duffy Stripping pp 515ff.). Sir John's document survived because, amid all the provisions for masses for his soul, which will have become obsolete in 1548, there were a few other provisions for benefactions which did not thus become obsolete. A later hand has marked these surviving provisions with an arrow in the margin.

1 November 2023

Saint Sara Smith of Golders Green?

Have you ever meditated upon what a chancy business the awarding of the Victoria Cross ... our most significant award for military gallantry ... is?

Where a conflict is at its fiercest, the chance must be greatest that there will be no surviving witness to describe the heroism of the most heroic.

I hope you will forgive a certain crudity in a comparison I am about to make.

The 'Saints business', our preoccupation today, All Saints' Day, may be a bit like that.

If we attain beatitude, we may be surprised that the greatest figures in Saint-land are men and women we had never heard of. I have in mind a passage in C S Lewis's The Great Divorce where the Narrative Persona [Sorry!] is being taught about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. "The under-sides of the leafy branches had begun to tremble with dancing light ... some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it.

"First came bright spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers ... Between them went musicians and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done. ... only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face."

The Narrative Persona naturally wonders if this Lady might be the great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy; but Lewis is careful to keep this speculation from becoming explicit.

"'Is it? ... is  it?' I whispered to my guide. 'Not at all,' said he. It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.'

"'She seems to be ... well, a person of particular importance?' 

"'Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.'"

The Guide goes on to describe the wonders of the Lady's earthly life, and the effect she had on all those ... even the animals ... with whom she came in contact. "And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them ... there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life."

So many Great Ones in Christ; so many gracious intercessors; so many of whom we may never have heard. 

Orent, nihilominus, pro nobis.