6 December 2016

Meeting old friends

Today we keep S Nicolas; for a couple of decades of my life, at Lancing, a Double of the First Class and a half-holiday when we all sallied forth down to Brighton to do our Christmas shopping or, in the case of the students, to imbibe. I remember browsing happily, one S Nick's Day, in that shop for remaindered books down East Street. I had my back to the window; and I was showing a scholarly interest in a large glossy volume entitled Forbidden Pictures From Ancient Pompei (I didn't buy it). Some cheerful drumming on the window behind me suddenly awakened me to the fact that a fair portion of the V Form approved warmly of my reading matter and shared my views about its academic significance.

The cultus of S Nicolas is one of the most ecumenical and one of the most ancient; he was a saint with as large a portfolio of Patronages as a Renaissance cardinal. He was, at Lancing, co-principal Patron with the Glorious Assumption of our Blessed Lady; on his feast day we used to sing the hymn composed for him by dear Basil Handford: Sancte, Sancte, Nicolas// Tute Patronus noster es// Laus et Deo Gloria// Sancte, pro nobis exor-a. So many of the waterside churches in Sussex, and elsewhere (Byzantine East as well as Latin West), have his Dedication. Wherever one goes, he is the old friend one so often seems to meet up with again. When we go to Gardone for the wonderful Roman Forum colloquium (have you signed up yet for 2017?), we offer our Masses each morning in the superb parish church dedicated Divo Nicolao (what a very 1750s way of writing!) high up the hillside overlooking the lake. Incidentally, one of the baroque ceiling paintings there shows S Nicolas Banishing the Moors. Megatopical?  Sancte, pro nobis exora!

But in the OF he is merely optional.

A point I would like to make is that the historical aspects of his cult mean that his observance is distinctly more significant than many feasts with a loftier 'intrinsic' status; even feasts, for example, of our Lord. S Martin is another saint about whom I would make a similar judgement. I would be far more outraged if either of them disappeared from the Calendar than I would at the disappearance of Christ the King from Excita Sunday, or S Joseph Opifex from May 1. Easy come, easy go, as Auntie used to say.

Does this mean that I lack the true Mind of the Church?

5 December 2016

Initiating processes

I've been thinking about the phrase "initiating processes rather than occupying spaces", which I heard somewhere.

I'm not a historian, but I think I read that Hitler never formally decreed the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem and certainly not verbally on paper; he just made sure that his intimates understood his feelings.

Is that the sort of thing the phrase means?

Patriarch Bartholomaios and Amoris Laetitia

So Patriarch Bartholomaios has put his money on Amoris laetitia. I think he may prove to be a ruinously poor gambler. But perhaps, as so often with regard to these Byzantines who are not yet in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, we should apply to their words a hermeneutic of asking what, in this exchange, are Constantinople and Moskow really saying to each other?

I rather doubt whether Bartholomaios, in his heart of hearts, really feels a lot of enthusiasm for a model of Universal Primacy which functions as the Bergoglian parody of the Petrine Ministry does. But Francis and Cyril met in Cuba ... Bartholomew's Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council failed (after so many years in preparation) to match up to the exacting standards of a damp squib ... the atmosphere in Istanbul seems to be getting dodgier and dodgier ... so I am not surprised that his All-Holiness currently feels badly in need of a Friend among the Big Boys in the School Playground.

I print here something I saw, words of one of our Separated Brethren, on the internet the other day:

"Speaking as one with a formal ecumenical dimension to his ministry, I can confidently say that the 'we' for whom I speak are prepared to sit down and discuss Benedict XVI's modest articulation of the papal office, whereas there is no way we could reasonably converse with Bergoglio, a dictator inventing dogma off the cuff who loves to dialogue with those who fully agree with him."

4 December 2016

Oxford Cathedral on December 4

I popped into the Cathedral the other day to warm my hands at what Mgr R A Kox and his chums in the SSPP would have advertised as a "Latimer and Ridley Pricket Stand". It is propped up against a modern and rather nasty statue of our Lady. Frankly, I think the flickering candles (none of that electrical technology here; modern Anglicans find Mystic Flicker more attractive) would be better placed before the bust of blessed Edward Bouverie Pusey, whom I quite often visit. He would have some things to say about .... and .......

What a powerful part of the Ordinariate's Anglican Patrimony Pusey is. How splendid it would be if the Ordinariate were able to fund some promising young scholar to edit and publish his (unprinted) lectures on Typology, perhaps also to reprint the University Sermon on the Eucharist for which he was suspended a munere contionandi for two years. Typology is the Catholic way of understanding and using Scripture, needed more than ever in these times. And Pusey's Eucharistic teaching, based as it is on the complete realism of the Greek Fathers whom he so lavishly quoted, is just what we need for an age in which most Catholics stroll up to a 'Eucharistic Minister' without any reverence, take a Host and then stroll nonchalantly away, conveying It to their mouths and consuming It as they walk. Is such determined and ostentatious irreverence known to have existed in any other period of the Church's history?

And nearby is the tomb of Robert King, last Abbot of Thame and Oseney and the only recorded Bishop of Rheon in partibus infidelium. He was assigned that see in 1527, apparently, with the intention that he should provide episcopal ministry in the Southern (Oxfordshire) part of the gigantic diocese of Lincoln. Why Rheon? Because it was still in the news ... many books had been written since the siege of Nigripontis in Euboea in 1470? The end of that siege was marked by the Moslems with atrocities and massacres and by their elaboration of interesting ways of killing ... such as the sawing in half of the Christian leader. Plus ca change ...

In 1542, Henry Tudor formed a new Diocese of Oxford, with one of King's Abbatial churches (Oseney, just the other side of the Thames) as its Cathedral and King as diocesan bishop. The cathedra was soon moved to the Chapel of Cardinal College, and Oseney sold off. King, a veritable Tudor Ecclesiastic, sat at Cranmer's trial and survived all the changes introduced by successive Tudor monarchs until his death on December 4 1557. He was the first and the last Bishop of Oxford to be in full communion with the See of S Peter. The see remained vacant until 1567, when Oxford's next Bishop, Hugh Curwen, was appointed. Bishop Bonner had consecrated him with the Apostolic Mandate according to the rites of the Pontifical to be the Marian Archbishop of Dublin, but he had conformed to the 'Settlement' of Bloody Bess ... do you think he now regrets doing so? ... and he died in 1568. The see then remained vacant until 1589 ... I wonder why. Did an effective sede vacante of more than thirty years, 1557-1589, have anything to do with the very recusant character of Elizabethan Oxford? Or simply result from the poverty of the see?

Quorum Animabus Propitietur Deus.

3 December 2016

Roland Freisler and the Volksgerichthof

It is commonly held that the Nazi jurist Roland Freisler, while president of the Volksgerichthof, knew that he would find his 'defendants' guilty before he tried them, and had determined upon the death sentence well before he sentenced them. According to the narratives and the Youtube clips, he did quite a lot of dramatic shouting during trials, emphasising fortissimo e prestissimo the self-evident guilt of those who stood as yet unconvicted before him.

I was reminded of dear Freisler ... such a straightforward sort of bloke ... when reading about the recent rantings of the Dean of the Rota, Pio Vito Pinto. Of course, Pinto was not sitting in court and trying the Four Cardinals. And Pinto, since he is a Judge in Marriage processes, would be unlikely himself to be involved judicially in any possible procedings against the Four. But, in our tame and gutless legal system this side of the water, it is, I think, generally held to be indecorous, and probably prejudicial, for any member of the judiciary to express with great decision views about the certain guilt of, and extreme penalties appropriate for, named individuals who have not yet even been formally accused and certainly not yet found guilty.

Clearly, these foreign chappies are not much like our own boringly phlegmatic, pedestrian, and unimaginative English judges. Could this be because our judges are not guided by such well-honed certainties about the Holy Spirit?

2 December 2016

A MUST BUY ... UPDATED

Those whose Altar Missal or Breviary dates from before 1962 will be familiar with the curious experience of realising, by seeing it in their books, that (e.g.) yesterday's S Andrew had, until very recently, a Vigil and a First Vespers. Whatever happened to them? Why are they nowhere to be seen in the 1962 books?

The tremendously Good News about Summorum Pontificum is that it has given seminarians and priests an enormous impulse to learn how to offer Mass according to the immemorially ancient Ordo Missae of the Roman Church.. If you, dear clerical reader, have learned how to do that, you don't need me to tell you that you have acquired a pearl of great price. But what is often not realised is that, as far as the Calendar is concerned, '1962' constituted a a very considerable break in continuity. You see, the process which led to the imposition in 1970 of the Novus Ordo did not start after 'the Council'; it had begun a couple of decades earlier when Pius XII and his youthful protege Annibale Bugnini set out on a two-decade journey to the Novus Ordo. During that period, Vigils and Octaves galore bit the dust; but perhaps the most questionable 'reform' of all was the abolition of First Vespers for all but the highest rank of festivals. This abolished the ancient Christian practice, inherited from the Synagogue, of starting a day on the previous evening.

What I am urging you to purchase, if you are not already familiar with it, is the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO for 2017. OK, you may very well not wish to follow it liturgically, but simply contemplating, day by day, what the old Roman Rite did before itching and twitching fingers got to work on it, is, believe me, a considerable education.

UPDATE: THE COMPILER HAS KINDLY PROVIDED A LINK FOR PURCHASERS. SEE THE THREAD. This ORDO can be sought from ordorecitandi@gmail.com; or from 59 Sandscroft Avenue, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7EJ, United Kingdom.

The Compiler of that ORDO also runs a blog explaining the pre-Pius XII Roman Rite the st lawrence press blog.

If 'Tridentine' is to refer to the actual liturgical books of S Pius V, as I think it probably should, then you can find out about the Tridentine Rite by looking at another blog by the same erudite author, called The Tridentine Rite. There you will discover that the Common Preface is (I mean, in the Missal actually issued by S Pius V) used on these green Sundays! You will also, I suspect, be surprised by some of the rather Puritanical prunings of the Calendar: for example, the elimination of 'non-biblical' feasts such as S Anne and the Presentation of our Lady. They soon returned, by popular demand; but they had sunk without trace under Pius V.

And the Office Hymns of S Pius V, of course, will not be those with which users of the 1962 Breviary are familiar. Those texts were produced in the 1620s by Urban VIII, aka Papa Barberini. The breviary of S Pius V had the ancient texts, sometimes totally different from the Barberini versions, which one will also find in the Sarum and Benedictine Breviaries.


Technical assistance, anywhere?

There is a rumour ... what a lot of rumours do float around in our Modern Church! ... that a member of the CBCEW recently endorsed the intemperate and disrespectful language used by a Latin-rite Greek prelate about the Four Cardinals. And that the same English bishop then went on to argue that those justified by grace might yet be incapable of living according to the moral law.

Gracious! I had rather thought that proposition attracted an Anathema at Trent. Perhaps readers who know their dogmatic theology a great deal better than I do could put me right on this.

And then I started to wonder: if a bishop does ... per impossibile, as it were ... walk into the position of being anathematised by an Ecumenical Council, does he fall victim to any Canonical penalty or sanction latae or ferendae sententiae? Excommunication, for example, to name but one. Or Interdict or Irregularity or Suspension or Deposition? Perhaps readers who know their Canon Law a great deal better than I do could put me right on this. We mere Ordinariate presbyters need a lot of help in understanding all this complicated technical stuff. We're just plain simple chaps.

Just think ... if only I were a proper Catholic priest, properly trained, I would know the answers to these tricky questions! And to so many more like them!!

Sancta Bibiana

I felt moved by today's Breviary lectiones, perhaps all the more so because they lack those miraculous details which we find in some Acta Martyrum.

It is, I suspect, probable that most of the Martyr Virgins were barely, if at all, into their teens when they bore their Witness. Like S Maria Goretti.

What wonderfully resolute girls they must have been. What rebukes to our weak faith and cool ardour. And to the compromises we make with the Zeitgeist.

30 November 2016

From the ORDINARIATE

There may be readers here who have not yet made the acquaintance of the blog written by Dr Geoffrey Kirk, formerly Vicar of Lewisham and now in the Ordinariate. It is called Ignatius his conclave and I access it by googling gkirkuk.

Dr K used to write beautiful satire about the liberals and their entire project when we were still in the C of E. They used to complain about the 'tone' of the magazine we published. In the words of an old and much loved British Soap, they didn't like it up 'em.

Dr Kirk's views and his targets have hardly changed. All that has changed is that the baddies are now riding high within the Catholic Church herself.

S Andrew's Day ...

... is not only the Patronal Festival of Scotland and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but also the felicitous and significant day upon which Cardinal Pole absolved this realm from schism in 1554. Moreover, it is the anniversary of a marvellous scene on S Andrew's Day in 1569: the Absolution of the Diocese of Durham from Heresy and Schism. (Also a day to reread Eamon Duffy's Fires of Faith. Do it now before you forget.)

It is, moreover, if we gaze back at the Protohistory of the Ordinariate, the anniversary of the Consecration of Andrew Burnham as Bishop of Ebbsfleet (it was to be Bishop Andrew who appealed to Pope Benedict for help; thus formally setting in motion the process that led to the Ordinariate). In those days, the old system persisted in the Province of Canterbury of consecrating all bishops in London, and Andrew was 'done' in S Paul's Cathedral. My three main memories (apart from George Carey's dismal liturgical instincts) are of someone trying to die in the pew behind me in the South transept; of a remarkably inapposite sermon in which the preacher appeared to be making fun of the Orthodox (which is also the Catholic) practice of the Veneration of Relics; and of the scene, afterwards, on the steps outside.

As the custom used to be, the Consecration had been of two pontiffs for the price of one. The other consecrand was being provided to be a new suffragan for that illiberal liberal bishop, Selby of Worcester. Afterwards, at one end of the steps, a large queue formed up to kiss Bishop Andrew's ring and to receive his episcopal blessing. At the other end, the Worcester consecrand seemed to be doing a strange little ritual dance amid a small group of friends and family, intermittently yanking up his trousers to show off his Socks Of Many Colours. Perhaps he was a Mason, or an animist, or both.

The Ebbsfleet years were fun. And fine preparation for the real fun: the Ordinariate!

29 November 2016

Pio Vito Pinto

Name of the Dean of the Rota. I have warned you about him several times. He's one of those who believe that whatever Bergoglio says is the voice of the Holy Spirit - the hypersuperueberpapalists. He's been doing it again, in Spain, and talking about the Four Cardinals being stripped of their dignity. (I thank Professor Tighe for this information.)

Go and look at him. You can see him at EWTN News (English). Captured in the act of doing it.

I looked at the picture and asked myself:
~ is this the face of someone through whom the Holy Spirit is speaking?
~ is this the Face of Mercy?

Dead scary.

I hope that all our Partners in Ecumenical Dialogue are carefully reading about what being in Communion with a Bergoglian Papacy would really be like.

29 November, 2015, was the memorable ...

... day upon which the full Ordinariate Missal entered into lawful use. The day which confirmed the status, for example, of We do not presume as an official liturgical prayer within the English Catholic Church ... the day which formally established the possibility of celebrating something very much like the good old English Missal High Mass ... the day when our immensely distinctive ... the more distinctive the better ... liturgical Patrimony became dono papae Benedicti a family member of English Catholicism. Not, surely, a day which either poor, confused Archbishop Cranmer, as they tied him to the stake in the City Ditch outside the Master's Lodgings of Balliol College, could possibly have imagined; nor could that admirable Cardinal Allen, at the dark moment when they brought him news of the failure of the Armada. But a day on whose anniversary, doubtless, addicts of Lesbian poetry all over the Ordinariates will be singing Nun khre methusthen kai tina per bian ponen ... interspersed with vinous cries of Vivat Benedictus! Eis polla ete, Despota! Quantus et qualis Pontifex! Nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus! Redeant dies fausti, annique Benedicti! Deprome, depromite!!

The song, indeed, of them that triumph, the shout of them that feast!

At this depressing moment in the history of the Church, how good to have something which is 101% worth celebrating!!

The Prayer I mentioned ... We do not presume ... is sometimes known among Anglicans as the Prayer of Humble Access or demotically as the Humble Crumble; a pre-Tractarian title was "The Address". Our greatest modern Anglican Thomist, Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, used to substitute it, in his daily private celebration of the Tridentine Rite in Mags, for the Priest's two private prayers immediately before Communion ... which is exactly the place it has been assigned in the Ordinariate Order of Mass. I append (look two lines lower) an older piece of my own about its unusual and distinctive theology.