10 June 2023

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (2)

I suspect Couratin of having the large hand in producing this booklet, because when I was a seminarian at Staggers under Fr Derek Allen, the liturgical dispositions put in place by Canon Couratin were still in place. There was a particular style about them; that of accommodating Anglican formulae to a Tridentine Roman mindset. I can't express it better than thus, and with the following examples, which those of you with a certain sort of background will understand: at the Divine Office, we used to say the Collect of the Day with the standard longer conclusion, then the last two of the three final collects sub una conclusione with the longer ending after the last one (instead of Cranmer's varied conclusions after each one). 

At the start of Lent, a notice went up signed by the Bishop of the Diocese formally dispensing members of the House from the strict observance of the Lenten Fast. Mass Practice sessions inculcated the Tridentine ceremonial even in the case of seminarians who would, in their title parishes, be marrying up that ceremonial to Cranmer's libretto. So Couratin's my hunch; but, out of honesty, I'd better give you evidence for different conclusions.

When Kirk became Bishop of Oxford, certain changes were made which are described in the biography of Kirk written by his son-in-law, Eric Kemp, long-time Bishop of Chichester. These were masterminded by his friend Canon Dr N P Williams [who also used to help out at S Thomas's]. Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost were henceforth marked by a Pontifical High Mass. Kirk was given a full set of pontifical vestments, which he used on these and other occasions (they may the ones which he bequeathed to his episcopal son-in-law). "The ceremonial of the ordination was carefully worked out by Williams and E C Ratcliff, and later on was under the direction of A H Couratin ...". Ratcliff was a most distinguished liturgist with a passion for the Roman Canon; he did a great deal in collaboration with Couratin, who had an instinctive understanding of his mind. If the little booklet I am examining was the product of Ratcliff and Couratin working together, this would fit the data. It's just that I am a trifle doubtful about evidence for Williams' hand in it. (He was dead by the time of the publication of the booklet; but, of course, there could have been an earlier version of the booklet.)

So, when in the next instalments, I refer to "Couratin", what I really mean is ... whichever of these three, severally or in which combinations, did it.


9 June 2023

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus! (1)

The Choir.
Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, qui ...

is how the little book begins; it was among my late Mother's effects. On the cover it reads: "This book is the property of the Diocese of Oxford and must not be taken away." But my Mother, God rest her soul, was rather inclined to keep little mementos of memorable occasions; and this was "The Form and Manner of Making and Ordaining of Deacons and Priests"; and she preserved it as a memento of my Deaconing in 1967 and my Priesting on 9 June 1968 in the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford. It has some interesting features.

... fifty five short years ago ...

It bears no date; but bibliographical considerations narrow its printing down to the period 1945-1947; and thus to the episcopate (1937-1955) of Kenneth Escott Kirk, predecessor of the Bishop Harry Carpenter who ordained me. 

I look upon both of these as sacerdotes valde magni; incidentally, for those Catholics (sometimes they write to me) to whom the papal condemnation of Anglican Orders in Apostolicae curae is a very important part of their Faith, I will in passing point out that each of those two bishops received the episcopate from coconsecrators including Bishop Bertram Fitzgerald Simpson, who was himself raised to the 'Old Catholic', i.e. Dutch Schismatic but indubitably valid, episcopate in 1932 by Henry Theodore John Vlijmen, Bishop of Haarlem (utpote per consecratorem aequiprincipalem). Rome has never condemned 'Old Catholic' Orders, and, indeed, accepts them as valid. Simpson left it on record that when he took part in subsequent consecrations, he carefully intended always to pass on the Dutch, as well as the Anglican, episcopal succession.

I defy any reader  to deny that there are ironies in the following: during the generation when, in sunny Oxford, Canon Couratin and his associates were engaged in heavily tridentinising the Anglican rites of Ordination, in some dark and dank Roman cellar, Dom Botte and his coetus were busily at work mangling horribly the ordination rites in the Pontificale Romanum

(Incidentally, I believe I am right in saying that Bishop Kirk used to consecrate the oils according to the Roman Pontifical (preConciliar, of course) in the Benedictine Abbey at Nashdom, within his diocese, where Mass and all the Offices were done in Latin. I wonder if he was the first Church of England diocesan bishop since Tudor times to consecrate the Holy Oils?)

Ecce sacerdos magnus is a significant starter to a service; it is what is sung in Catholic churches when a Bishop enters solemnly for a great liturgical, pontifical, occasion. Bishops Kirk and Carpenter certainly regarded themselves as Catholic Bishops in the fullest Catholic sense; both were distinguished Anglo-Catholic scholars and Oxford academics and it was Kirk who masterminded the collection The Apostolic Ministry (1946) which defended Catholic doctrines of priesthood and episcopacy. 

Among his close friends (and an Honorary Chaplain from 1946) was Canon Arthur Hubert Couratin, Principal of St Stephen's House (from 1936 until 1962; died 1988) and a considerable liturgist both theoretical and practical. He used to bring his 'circus', a gang of seminarian servers, to the Cathedral in order to 'do' Kirk's ordinations. I believe, from internal evidence, that the little book I am considering is a collaboration between Kirk and Couratin; and it exhibits ... as I have said ... some very interesting features, of which Ecce sacerdos magnus is but the first.
To be continued. This is in five parts, and I shall not enable any comments until all five have appeared.

8 June 2023

Corpus Christi and the Black Rabbit

  ... ... and, to my previous post, I could have added the Aegean islands with their mixed congregations, where, in those happy days of amity in the eighteenth century, on Corpus Christi Day the Greek bishops and clergy used to emerge from their churches and offer incense to their Redeemer as He passed on His way.

In my youff, I used to read our then newspaper, the Dome, which usually had an appropriate picture in the number after Corpus Christi. I seem to remember that, on one Corpus Christi, two Anglican Catholic parish processions in North London accidentally met on the same stretch of road. I wonder how O'Connell would have sorted that out.

At Lancing, we had a very fine neo-Gothic monstrance ... of tabernacling design rather than sunburst ... bronze and massive. The woman from the V & A said it was of Belgian origin. I had purchased it for the Chapel from one of those jolly chaps who used to move around in the 1970s, picking up odds and ends from papist churches and monasteries which no longer had any use for them, and then selling them on to us Anglicans; you could get some superb stuff dirt cheap. One Corpus Christi, we had Bishop Colin Docker (Wycliffe Hall!!!) coming and had organised the procession to be inside our (Cathedral-dimensioned) chapel. I drew the bishop's attention to the considerable weight of the monstrance; with lordly episcopal dismissiveness, he indicated that such mundane considerations were no problem to him.

But, when we got to the back of the chapel, he murmurred "Would you mind suporting my elbows ..."

I think we, family and students, may have enjoyed, most of all, Arundel on Corpus Christi Thursday ... Procession from the (RC) Cathedral to the Castle ... Benediction at a temporary altar in the Castle quadrangle ... then, perhaps, off for drinks on the river banks at the Black Rabbit ... hurling missiles at passing perches and roaches ...

I wonder if the CBCEW has abolished the Black Rabbit in the spirit of the Traditionis custodes agenda of outlawing rigid fun.

"They" will not find it so easy to row back to that culture ... to those times when, in my (garbled, you say?) recollections, the sun always seemed to be shining ...



(1) It seemed to me very jejune to leave this great feast with the Common Preface, as the not-entirely-satisfactory Missal of 1962 did. Many people were happier with the older usage of employing the Nativity Preface. Communities enjoying an indult used the 'Gallican' Preface from the 1738 Paris Missal. This, happily, was authorised by the 2020 CDF legislation.

(2) What a shame we don't have a Patristic Preface for the Blessed Sacrament ... but stay: we could have had! The Verona ('Leonine') Sacramentary provided, at Christmas, a superb little Preface (VD tuae laudis hostiam), mentioning ... as you would expect ... the 'typical' figures of Abel, Passover Lamb, Abraham, and Melchisedek. Beautifully Roman; elegantly phrased and terse enough to have come from a very august papal pen.

(3) The EF and OF texts in Missal and Breviary for Corpus Christi are robustly supersessionist. Take the Lauda Sion (novum Pascha novae Legis Phase vetus terminat; Vetustatem novitas, umbram fugat veritas, noctem lux eliminat) and the Pange lingua (et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui). Comments on this blog in 2016 established that German "translations" of the Liturgia Horarum, as early as the early 1970s, eliminated prayers for the Conversion of the Jews. 

Do German translations of S Thomas's hymns eliminate his supersessionism? Are the German and English hierarchies known to be agitating for the Angelic Doctor to be mutilated ('abelardised'?) so to make him Politically Correct?

Father Faber and the Feast of Corpus Christi

A most blessed feast of Corpus Christi to all readers.

"We think ... of all the thousands of masses which are being said or sung the whole world over, and all rising with one note of blissful acclamation, from grateful creatures, to the Majesty of our merciful Creator. 

How many glorious processions, with the sun upon their banners, are now winding their way round the squares of mighty cities, through the flower-strewn streets of Christian villages, through the antique cloisters of the glorious cathedral, or through the grounds of the seminary, where the various colours of the faces, and the different languages of the people are only so many fresh tokens of the unity of that faith which they are all exultingly professing in the single voice of the magnificent ritual of Rome! 

Upon how many altars of various architecture, amid sweet flowers and starry lights, amid clouds of humble incense, and the tumult of thrilling song, before thousands of prostrate worshippers, is the Blessed Sacrament raised for exposition, or taken down for benediction! And how many blessed acts of faith and love, of triumph and of reparation, do not each of these things surely represent! 

The world over, the summer air is filled with the voice of song. The gardens are shorn of their fairest blossoms, to be flung beneath the feet of the Sacramental God. The steeples are reeling with the clang of bells; the cannon are booming in the gorges of the Andes and the Appenines; the ships of the harbours are painting the bays of the sea with their show of gaudy flags; the pomp of royal or republican armies salutes the King of kings. 

The Pope on his throne, and the school-girl in her village, cloistered nuns, and sequestered hermits, bishops and dignitaries and preachers, emperors and kings and princes, all are engrossed to-day with the Blessed Sacrament ... "

Viva il Fabbro!!! May Christendom return!

7 June 2023


As we look prayerfully foreward to the next pontificate, I find the Gamaliel of Acts 5:33-42 more and more in my mind.

I pray that we may not fall into the temptation of vindictiveness. I pray indeed that Tradition may recover from the dark stranglehold that this weird pontificate has striven to impose upon it. But the last thing the Church needs, I believe, is a reverse version of the Bergoglian hatreds ... directed against other movements in the Church.

The Spirit moves where He wills. We do not need another pontificate in which some angry and narrow-minded man attempts to impose his own conviction that anybody who sees things differently from himself, is rigid and hateful and needs to be smashed.

Nor do we need a continuation of PF''s obsessive micromanagement ... strange documents demanding tthat they come into force at the same moment as tomorrow morning's breakfast croissants ... prescriptions about what rites young newly ordained priests may not be permitted to celebrate ... stringent rules about which churches in a diocese a reprobated rite can be used in, and what information is not allowed to be given in parish news-sheets. When the malevolent gloom of PF no longer casts its shadow over the Latin churches, we don't want another species of gloom, another list of obsessions, a new canon of papal personal hatreds.

The Anglican Catholic Manifesto Catholicity of 1947 spoke appreciatively and wisely about the preservation in the post-Tridentine Catholic Church of the many-sidedness of medieval Church-life; about the vastness and richness of its organic life and the existence of strong theological tensions within a single ecclesiastical body, with the spontaneity and vitality which such contained tensions always bring to theological and ecclesiastical thinking. 

Heresy, of course, does need to be repressed; but not every new and strange idea is necessarily a heresy.

Didn't somebody once talk about a thousand blossoms flourishing?

We might be ... should be ... surprised about what the Spirit might bring to pass.

6 June 2023


A big Thank You to Pope John XXII for this great feast!

'Really?' you cry, 'surely everybody knows it was ordered to be observed by Urban IV in 1264, through the bull Transiturus'. Well, yes, up to a point, Lord Copper. But the strange thing is that this bull had no ... or very little ... actual effect. It even appears (a strange crowd, those medievals) that the observance was not even kept in the papal court itself!!!

It was not until John XXII sent to the entire Western hierarchy, in 1317, a collection of decretals called the Clementines that it began to be universally observed. And Transiturus had not mentioned such things as Exposition and Processions of the Sacrament. Although there may be a very few references to such activities between 1264 and 1317, it was after that date that a great wave of enthusiasm for the cultus of the Blessed Sacrament swept the Church.

Corpus Christi as you know it and love it results from John XXII seizing the moment when the devotional mood of the faithful was exactly ready for it.

Through most of the first 1200 years of the Church's history, there was no 'devotion to the Blessed Sacrament' as we know it. The Sacrament was indeed known to be truly the Body if the Lord and was reserved so that it could be administered to the sick. But there was no sense that it also afforded a focus for adoration and for a direct relationship with our Lord verily present. That was a precious gift of which the faithful became aware in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. And it was the example of what John XXII did when he had the Host carried in glorious rite through the streets of the papal city, Avignon, that was emulated throughout the Catholic world and which provided the pattern for what you, I trust, are doing this Corpus-Christi-tide.

Three cheers for the Avignon papacy and for the greatest of the Avignon popes, John XXII!

5 June 2023

Can a Catholic criticise a Pope??

 The last Primate of England to be in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, Archbishop Heath, said in the House of Lords: "[Paul IV had been] a very austere stern father unto us, ever since his first entraunce into Peter's chayre ... by our leaping out of Peter's shippe, we must nedes be overwhelmed by the waters of schism, sects and divisions."

Papa Caraffa, in terms of international politics, had a great dislike  of the Spanish Interest. I believe Cardinal Pole, when he died, had been stripped of his legatine powers and summoned to Rome to be tried for heresy; and that Caraffa, indeed, used to refer to Pole's associates as his "Lutheran Household". 

How much was English Catholicism weakened by Caraffa's delays in filling empty bishoprics and his hostility to this Kingdom?

I wonder how much guilt that pope bears for Elizabeth Tudor and the long Protestant centuries; for the rope and the rack.

4 June 2023


 The late Fr Jerome Bertram recounts, concerning the now defunct seminary at Wonersh, that "The buildings had been greatly expanded in 1962, for the then bishop of Southark [Cyril Cowderoy] was sure that the forthconing General Council would trigger such a vast increase in priestly vocations that double the capacity would be needed. All those extra priests would then fan out over the diocese to serve the enormously increased congregations of eager converts that would come flooding into the church as soon as the longed-for reforms had begun to take effect.".

Six decades later, 3 July 2021, Wonersh was closed down. The latest intake of seminarians had numbered, er, nil.

PF and his cronies still talk about the need to implement Vatican II. But, as generation has followed generation, the English bishops have closed seminaries. They are neither fools nor fantasists. They do not repetitively explain that it's all just a matter of time: "we must keep the empty seminaries ticking over until the inevitable Vatican II tsunami of new seminarians come along ... we know we shall soon need these buildings ..."

The English bishops are not fools or fantasists. They can detect a busted flush when it comes clearly enough into view. There was never a 'Vatican II effect' and sixty years after the Council, however much Popes keep on about it, the bishops have no illusions: their dwindling congregations can no longer support the empty echoing corridors of unused seminaries. Keeping their fingers crossed that, any day now, the miracle will happen, is no longerr treated as an option.

Every time the bishops have closed a seminary, that action has in fact been a massive, public admission, before God and before the World, that the Vatican II miracle did not happen and it is not now expected that it will happen.

So what has become, in the Church life of our time, of "Vatican II"?

It has metamorphosed into a mantra. Implement Vatican II means Smash Tradition.

In our time, the question has become sharper and nastier because, unlike his predecessors, PF has a shrill and violent hatred of Tradition.

We have seen this in his attitude to the Holy Spirit. His professed conviction has been that the Holy Spirit will manifest himself suddenly, unexpectedly, and in unexpected forms. We must be open to this. 

But when something unexpected does show itself, PF just doesn't want to know. The interest of younger generations in Tradition, not least in liturgical Tradition, drives him into uncontrollable fury. 

Does anybody know if the Trustees of the Franciscans of the Immaculate have yet been bullied into surrendering their property and assets?

What's the latest news on that property in Sloane Square?

But PF is still a happy man, sending out cartloads of Roches with instructions to boldly smash where nobody has smashed before.


3 June 2023

Catholic Cornwall

The First and Last Anglican church in the land is at St Just. Happy memories: it was on the notice board of that ('Ebbsfleet') church that I first saw the news of the election of papa Ratzinger. Less happy memories are presented by churches which were once great Catholic shrines, back in the days when the Truro diocese had the reputation of being the most Catholic in the Church of England. Bishop Graham Leonard, the great praecursor of the Ordinariate, whose portrait hangs proudly in our Ordinary's study, epitomised that tradition. Ecce sacerdos valde magnus. But the last two or three bishops of Truro, obedient servants of the Zeitgeist, put paid to it all. So many Altars now with women; so many Tabernacles with cobwebs.

Sometimes impertinent people hijack our Patrimonial fathers and apply some condescending argument to the effect that the 'papalism' of those great figures was so conditioned by the circumstances of the time that it doesn't really 'count'. So the heroic Fr Bernard Walke of St Hilary, who had to watch his church being wrecked by a protestant mob, had the heroism of his witness neutered decades later by the disdain of the smoothly unpleasant Donald Allchin. But Walke's words are just as powerful and as relevant now as when he wrote them in 1935: '[I] was convinced that the Catholic movement in the Church of England, which began in the discovery of the Church as a divine institution, could have no other end but a corporate union with the Apostolic See of Rome. Outside that unity there could be no assurance of the preservation of the faith and morals of the Christian revelation'. This is indeed the conviction which has brought us into the Ordinariate.

Notice there the words and morals. Fr Walke did indeed begin his incumbency by immediately replacing Prayer Book Mattins with the Tridentine Rite; but he was not some silly 'smells and bells' but unprincipled high churchman. Not long before he wrote, the Lambeth Conference had begun, albeit tentatively, the long but unambiguous process of uncoupling Anglicanism from the common ancient tradition of historic Christendom with regard to sexual morality, by admitting the possibility of artificial contraception. Only, of course, in the rarest and most exceptional cases. Where would the liberal agenda be if wedges did not have such very thin ends?

I am sure Walke had this in mind, and how right his prognosis has proved to be. It is instructive to compare his words with those of Bishop Gore, in a pamphlet which can be found on PROJECT CANTERBURY. Gore, a 'non-papal catholic', was a good enough scholar to know that what had happened at Lambeth was a disaster, both ethical and ecclesiological, of major proportions. But, blind to the significance in the divine dispensation of the Roman Primacy, his paper, for all its erudition, quite simply flounders.

We must pray that the divinely instituted Roman Primacy may soon be again as great and unambiguous a bulwark against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil as it was in the days of Pope Pius XI ... and of Fr Bernard Walke and Bishop Gore. What is a decade of hiatus sub specie aeternitatis?

2 June 2023

Poor Poppet Pollock

 There seems to be some sort of silly rumour that the Catholic bishop of East Anglia might have banned the celebration of the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite in the Catholic Shrine at Walsingham. I can't find what seems to me a reliable account of what, if anything, has happened. Probably absolutely nothing has! That is my hope! So, in what follows, I unreservedly withdraw a radice anything which seems critical of his Lordship and which does not accurately describe the current situation. Vivat Episcopus!

Frankly, I have never liked the 'Chapel of Reconciliation' outside Walsingham; and the attached Slipper Chapel was, after all, never intended to be a 'shrine'. If we who are devoted to the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite were to be (constructively) banned from using that complex, this would cause me, personally, vastly little distress.

We have ... in a community sense ... been here before. Nothing is ever exactly like anything else in History, but I can't help recalling that the Bishop of Norwich once required the Vicar, Fr Hope Patten, to remove the statue and shrine which Father had set up in his (Anglican) parish Church. Father did so ... although the style and manner of the 'removal' may not have been exactly what the bishop, poor poppet Pollock, had had in mind.

" ... a procession with over a thousand people walking, each bearing his or her lighted taper; many women in blue veils, little children in white casting their flowers; dark-habited religious, nuns and monks; over a hundred priests in cassock and cotta; the mitred Abbot of Pershore and Bishop O'Rorke. Behind streamed the many hundreds of other people, all singing the glories of Mary, and in the midst of this throng, high and lifted up upon the shoulders of four clergy in dalmatics, and under a blue and gold canopy fixed to the feretory, sat the venerated figure of our Lady, crowned with the silver Oxford Crown, and robed in a mantle of cloth of gold."

Hope Patten had constructed a replica of the Medieval Holy House in the village; and here the 'removed' statue "was enthroned in the niche prepared above the altar ... ". 

If any attempt were ever to be made to discourage the use of the Authentic Form in the Catholic Shrine, which God forbid, what would be the obvious remedy? The old Anglican Catholic solution which would have been urged by the Fynes Clinton generation would probably have been the provision of a Modest Private Facility in the village, containing perhaps a couple of altars, safe from the prohibitions of the bishop; clergy could book to celebrate the Authentic Form in the Modest Facility but use the Anglican Shrine, or the Priory ruins, or both, for ancillary devotions. 

But perhaps this is just that tadge too red-bloodedly Nineteen Thirties??

Deipara numquam exstirpanda, ritus Romanus non exstirpandus. 

1 June 2023

Octaves, High Priests ...

In the palmy days before Venerable Pius XII, Mondays and Tuesdays within the Octaves of Easter and Pentecost, rather as in the Book of Common Prayer, were incredibly Doubles of the First Class. But for the rest of the week, the days were semidoubles and not nearly as pompous (when did you last wake up and cry "It's a semidouble! I'd better put a bottle of Cava to chill to have with my breakfast!"?).  

So Wednesday, yesterday, you would have commemorated S Angela Merici!! Even if you were not on the exquisite shores of Lake Garda!

And, in those verily antique times, you could, Father, say (or at least commemorate) a Votive of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Priest, on the first Thursday of most months ... like today. 

Gracious! PF and his minions have put OLJC Priest back onto the Thursday within the Octave of Pentecost as a Festum! Like today!

How can anybody deny that the Supreme Calendarist and Capital Ordo Compiler in the Heavenly Places has and demonstrates a sense of humour?

Proper Last Gospel, of course. I wonder if PF is aware of that refinement.

When I was a callow curate in the 1960s, and the then 'experimental' rite of the C of E contained the phrase "Seeing we have a Great High Priest ...", I was once approached by a rather troubled lady who said "I don't like to think of Him as a High Priest  ... I prefer to think of Him as just an ordinary person ..."

I was completely non-plussed. I just mumbled some completely useless piece of information like  "Well., it's in the Bible ...". 

After all, it was hardly entirely my fault that a lifetime in the C of E had left her uninstructed in the Letter to the Hebrews.