31 May 2014

COUNCILS: Why I sympathise with Taft

Taft's big mistake, I suspect, is to fetichise Councils and, by expecting too much of them, to have problems when they fail to live up to the standards he has set them. This is not surprising; given a lifetime of scholarly work on Byzantine Christianity, it is natural that he should have some of its unspoken assumptions rubbed off, as it were, upon him. And an extremely high regard, even an adulation, of councils, seems, to the poor and ignorant Westerner who is writing this, to be a marked feature of Orthodoxy (I am humbly open to correction from Orthodox readers). I have two reasons for wishing to enter qualifications.

(1) I believe such an attitude gives all councils a status which is exaggerated.
(2)* I believe it leaves insufficiently regarded some councils which were not formally 'ecumenical'; and undervalues the profound significance of the Magisterium of the Roman Church.

(1) I believe that it is not only 'post-schism' councils which Joseph Ratzinger had in mind when he wrote Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis many of them have been just a waste of time. And I would add that sometimes they have been corrupt, venal, and violent; sometimes they have been open to excessive influence by secular influences, whether of Roman or Byzantine Emperors, or of French kings. Sometimes, in the words Newman angrily used of Vatican I, they have been dominated by an aggressive insolent faction. And some even of the Great First Seven Councils were sparsely attended and unrepresentative of the Oikoumene. Just as we are not required to like the Sovereign Pontiff or to approve of his obiter dicta et obiter acta, though we are required to be humbly and completely subject to his authentic Magisterium, so we are not required to admire the proceedings and the participants of Ecumenical Councils but simply to accept their dogmatic Magisterium. I have said before that I dislike the absurd personality cult which surrounds a modern pope. I dislike equally an uncritical and historically uninformed enthusiasm for councils.

Furthermore, as I have argued previously, those conciliar enactments which are not definitions of dogma definitive tenendum are marked with an implicit sell-by date. Addressed to the circumstances of a particular era, they are less relevant when that era has disappeared ... they pass, as I believe I once wrote, into the general background noise of the Church. Our decade is so profoundly different to the 1310s and the 1960s that I believe we have reached this stage with regard to the Councils of Vienne and of Vatican II (but not, in as far as they defined, with attached anathemas, authentic Catholic dogma, with regard to Chalcedon, Trent, or Vatican I).

But I would regard as just and appropriate the censuring of a writer who called into question whether either Vienne or Vatican II was a fully authentic (in Ratzinger's word, 'valid') Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church.

That is why I would like to see Robert Taft censured, while being quite sure that there is no need to censure Joseph Ratzinger.

*(2) will, DV, follow later.

30 May 2014

COUNCILS: Archimandrite Taft

Robert Taft, a scholar of immense reputation and influence, asked, last year, "Are the purely Roman Catholic post-schism councils to be considered ecumenical councils of the undivided Church? If so, says who?" (er ... was Florence 'purely Roman Catholic'? But we'll let that pass.)

Taft is a Byzantinist and, therefore, might naturally have the Byzantine Orthodox in his closest view. But others would also have the right to benefit from his new hermeneutic. I am sure the Copts are dying to get an answer to the question Are the councils which excluded our Fathers to be considered ecumenical councils of the Undivided Church? If so, says who? So much for Chalcedon. And the Arians, God bless them, will want to know this: Are the councils which excluded Arius to be considered ecumenical councils of the Undivided Church? If so, says who? We will know where to put Nicaea. The Orthodox, of course, will have to eliminate Orthodoxy Sunday and other liturgical commemorations of purely Chalcedonian post-schism councils from their calendars.

Taft's unstated assumption appears to be that 'the Church' exclusively means 'Chalcedonians'; that is to say, the Latin West in combination with the Byzantine East. So the first millennium (whether the Copts and the Assyrians like it or not) was, for him, that of the 'undivided Church'; thereafter, 'post-schism', the 'Church' was divided. All seven of the first seven ecumenical councils, common to Chalcedonian Latins and to Chalcedonian Byzantines but unacceptable to 'Oriental' communities, were truly ecumenical councils of the undivided Church ...... were they, Dr Taft? If so, says who? Does the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria say so? For somebody with a distinguished academic reputation to fall victim to such preposterously circular logic is a dreadful warning to us all.

Going off at a tangent ... does anybody know the exact text of the document on Vatican II to which the Franciscans of the Immaculate were required to subscribe? (And, incidentally, was that text given an OK by the CDF?)

Is it fair for them to be asked to subscribe to such a document when Professor Taft has a free rein to question the status of the great majority of the Church's councils? And, indeed, was it fair for Kueng to have his licence to teach as a Catholic Theologian removed, because of his lack of enthusiasm for Vatican I, when Taft can say whatever he likes? Should the excommunication of Doellinger be now, with profuse apologies, rescinded?

And if Roman Authorities who leave Taft unmolested have a problem with the SSPX, what is it?

But, having said so much, I admit to a certain sympathy for Taft, quite wrong though he is on this point. More about this later.

29 May 2014

COUNCILS: a Missed Opportunity

Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis many of them have been just a waste of time. Joseph Ratzinger, 1987.

The missed opportunity to which I refer in my heading was the 700th anniversary, in 2011, of the Convocation of the Holy Ecumenical Council of Vienne. (Oh dear, what is the proper term for a 700th anniversary?)

This great event could have been celebrated throughout the Church; and, particularly, in her educational life. Pushy young clerics aiming to advance their careers by the acquisition of a JCD could have written dissertations on The Magisterial significance of the lost Decrees of the Council of Vienne. Seminarians could have been set essays on The Spirit of the Council of Vienne: a sure guide for the Church in her Third Millennium. Sixth Forms would have been enlightened by examination modules (taught by a collaboration between the Theology and Economics Departments) on Embezzlement: its theological basis and its practical implementation. In the Church's Primary Schools, where the education is less conceptual and more vivid, teaching materials from the Bishops' Conference education offices would have concentrated on How to burn your own Templar.

I feel an urge coming on to devote a few posts to Ecumenical Councils. They may probably be in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger's wise words. Or of Gregory Dix? Or of John Henry Newman? No; of all three.

28 May 2014

Communion from the tabernacle?

IGMR (editio tertia) para 85, citing documents of 1967 and 1973, describes it as valde optandum that the faithful should be communicated with hosts consecrated in the same Mass. The same hope had already been expressed by Pius XII in Mediator Dei (see footnotes below). As far as my experience goes, this 'hope' is widely disregarded, both in the more traditionalist churches and in extremely untraditionalist Catholic churches, for reasons of manifest plain practical convenience; by communicating the laity from the Tabernacle, one avoids having to guess at the number of communicants present; a priest does not have to stand at the altar before the ablutions chewing away at what Anglicans used to call the Remains of the Eucharist; he does not have to 'renew' the Reserved Sacrament regularly because the regular use each Sunday of what was not consumed the previous Sunday does this automatically [except with regard to the Benediction Host]. But how sustainable theologically is the valde optandum in itself?

"So that, through signs, Communion may better appear a participation of the Sacrifice which is actually being celebrated". Thus I literally translate the IGMR explanation. I certainly have no hang-ups with this recommendation. I actually myself rather prefer to communicate the people without recourse to the Tabernacle. I have always found it a bit of a bother to have to shift the Altar Card and unlock the tabernacle with my thumb and forefinger conjoined (and I'm often in a strange church and the Tabernacle lock and key don't quite work as I expect them to). But I am unsure how much water the official explanation actually does hold. I would take as my starting point the principle that "the Sacrifice actually being celebrated" is not so much the Sacrifice of Fr X and the good people who have walked or driven to his church on that particular morning, as it is the One Sacrifice of Calvary; what those of us who are proud of our Anglican Patrimony instinctively think of as the Lord's One Oblation of Himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient Sacrifice, Oblation, and Satisfaction: Christ's offering made sacramentally present upon our Altar. Each Mass is Calvary; there are neither two Calvaries nor many Calvaries.

I have a nagging suspicion that the modern valde optandum is part and parcel of the same sociological and anti-transcendent misunderstanding of the Eucharist fostered by and expressed in a desire for exclusively versus populum celebration. As Cardinal Ratzinger warned us, there is the danger of the inward-looking circle finding its own completion and fulness in its own activity rather than in the Lord who comes from beyond. There may in modern Liturgy be a subconscious fear of whatever does not come, self-generated, from within the Circle. There could even be the horrible superstition of laypeople being led to think that they ought to receive a host which they themselves had 'helped' to consecrate.

To be communicated from the Tabernacle with a host consecrated at a previous Mass reminds one that every Mass is the One Mass; that, as that great Separated Doctor of Catholic Truth (Fr Aidan Nichols' phrase), Eric 'Patrimony' Mascall, put it, a plurality of Masses is "the same thing - the same essentially, the same numerically - not just a lot of different things of the same kind, but the very same identical thing ... the one redemptive act which Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, perpetuates in the Church which is his Body through the Sacrament of his body and blood."

The ancient tradition of our Roman and Catholic Church does indeed encourage us to look beyond the closed circle of those gathered here and at this moment. When domnus papa sent the fermentum, the consecrated Host from his own Mass, to be mingled with the Masses of his presbyters in the outlying Roman churches as a sign of their unity with him, the separated congregations were thereby urged to look beyond their own closed circles. Furthermore, the Pope himself, as he approached the Altar at the start of his own Mass, was shown an opened capsa containing a consecrated particle from a previous Mass, which he adored. After the Pax he placed this particle in the chalice. (To this extent, Archimandrite Taft did not quite tell the whole truth when he claimed that " ... communion during Mass from hosts already consecrated at a previous Eucharist was totally unthinkable in the early Christian East and West".) Jungmann rightly explains: "In this way the continuous unity of the eucharistic sacrifice was expressed - the same Mass yesterday and today". The mingling, with our oblata, of hosts consecrated in other places or at other times, can be a powerful manifestation of the diachronic and synchronic identity of 'our' Mass with all the 'other' Masses which are being celebrated elsewhere and were celebrated at other times. For all those 'other' Masses, together with 'ours', are truly but the one Oblatio Domini.

We clergy should give appropriate respect to a recommendation of Ven Pius XII and of the IGMR when we are celebrating the Holy Mysteries. But a Catholic is not forbidden to argue that its rationale represents a dated and thoroughly unhelpful piece of thinking, which is likely to give layfolk the wrong end of more than one stick. After all, if liturgists in the pre-Conciliar period had never asked questions about the ruling praxis of their own day, there would have been no changes made in the 1960s! The heirs and admirers of those who then set aside the Liturgy of centuries are hardly well-positioned to assert that what was put in its place is beyond discussion!
______________________________________________________________________________
Footnotes: (1) When Pius XII cited (CTS translation of Mediator Dei para 126) the Bull Certiores effecti of Benedict XIV (13 November 1742; Magnum Bullarium Romanum 1752 Luxemburg edition pars decima pp 117-8) he misrepresented that Pontiff. Benedict is there dealing with a controversy "de obligatione, qua sacerdotes Missas celebrantes adstringantur Eucharistiam ministrare intra easdem fidelibus iis, qui ad ipsam accipiendam paratos se exhibent, ac petunt sacrificii, cui adstant, participes fieri"; that is, he is dealing with the desire of the faithful to receive Communion within the Mass itself and not at some other time from the reserved sacrament. Benedict is not dealing with some convenient pastoral habit by which a tabernacle is kept charged with full ciboria for the convenient and frequent communion of large numbers. I doubt (think about it!) if that habit was common two centuries before S Pius X made frequent Communion the general practice.
(2) The CTS English translation of Mediator Dei by a Mgr G D Smith contains a curious omission of three words quoted by Pius XII from Benedict XIV: " ... quamvis de eodem sacrificio participent, praeter eos quibus a Sacerdote celebrante tribuitur in ipsa Missa portio victimae a se oblatae, ii etiam, quibus Sacerdos Eucharistiam reservari solitam ministrat ...". Perhaps (subconsciously?) realising that the words in ipsa Missa in fact subvert the sense which Pius XII is erroneously attributing to Benedict XIV, Smith left them out of his translation.
(3) The words "de eodem sacrificio participent" in the passage I quote from Benedict XIV in the previous footnote in fact support the point I make in the second and fourth paragraphs of my main article. Whether the Host you receive was consecrated at that Mass, or was reserved at a previous Mass, you still receive "from the same Sacrifice".
Revised with the help of readers from a much earlier draft.

27 May 2014

Splendid Gestures

What a splendid pair of Gestures by the Holy Father: praying at the Temple Wall ... and then going on to pray at the Wall of Separation, in such a way that the world's cameras picked up the graffiti written upon it. Absolutely masterly. I won't comment further because my favourite Catholic Theologian, S Paul of Tarsus, has already got in first (Ephesians 2:11-22), as he so often does.

Splendid, too, that the Holy Father has referred to the Jewish People as the 'Elder Brother'. This is theologically important and significant: it alludes of course to the Narrative of Esau and Jacob, in which God's Election rests with the Younger Brother. I wonder how long ago it was that a Roman Pontiff spoke in such laudably 'supersessionist' terms.

Splendid, too, that he has invited victims of clerical abuse to join him at the Lord's Table. Such gestures are immensely useful; while he is still enjoying something of a Media honeymoon, it is right that the Pope should exploit it ... most of the worthy hacks will, of course, be unaware that his two immediate predecessors also met with victims and so they will see this latest gesture as another wonderful 'Franciscan First'. Fair enough, if their ignorance and the Pope's gesture combine to do the Church's image some good.

Splendid, too, that he should put clerical abuse and Satanic sacrilege on the same level.

However, sooner or later it may be necessary for the Holy Father to move beyond gestures. If there is any action which the Church should be taking with regard to the vile problem of clerical paederasty, then she should put a hold on further gestures and take such necessary actions; even, if necessary, ruthlessly. If, on the other hand, she has done everything (and more) that can be done, then she should say so robustly and call the bluff of her enemies by (1) asking what else she can do; and (2) raising the question of other organisations with a much poorer record than her own. Perhaps, too, she should address a hypothesised Elephant In The Room: the question of an alleged possible relationship between paiderasteia, epheberasteia, and some varieties of the homosexual orientation. This is not a question on which I have either views or even the competence to entertain views; but the Church could set up a group of academics with the competent skills, to work on the subject, for the benefit of humankind in general. Even if, as is likely, they were unable to present a united report, the exposition, with supporting evidence, of different positions, would be immensely valuable. It is generally useful to enquire about the roots of problems rather endlessly to get excited about symptoms.

Windows

I am in the middle of a few days when I could look through some comments on posts on my blog. So if, after this last couple or so weeks, there is something you really wanted to write and you feel really irritated about not having been able to offer it during the period of Comments not accepted, I suggest you do so now, appending it for convenience to this post and mentioning to which post it is relevant.

No? Nothing? Just shows how ephemeral all this stuff is, doesn't it.

By the way, if you emailed me about something and got either a very brief reply or no reply, I do apologise. I returned to a couple of hundred emails and, with the best will in the world ... I am only less than human.

26 May 2014

May 26 ... ROMANITA

In the Calendar for England in the years before the post-1962 events, today was the feast of S Augustine (Double of the Second Class) with a commemoration of S Philip Neri. The Common Worship Calendar of the Church of England still combines these Saints on this day (let's pass over the third name it plonks onto May 26). Another missed opportunity here in the Ordinariate Calendar ...

It would be very easy to write a sermon on these two Saints together; the great link being Romanita. It was S Augustine who ignored the advice of S Gregory to foist upon the English Church an eclectic liturgy; S Augustine simply used the books of the Roman Rite which he had brought from Rome and thus bequeathed to Ecclesia Anglicana its wonderful tradition of being a distant island of the Roman Rite, the Ritus ipsius Urbis, a Liturgy of exquisite and majestic austerity, at a time when when most of Europe worshipped in styles marked by florid imprecision. And S Philip was the great Second Apostle of a Rome which stood in need of a reformation; who blessed the young men of the English college as they set out in S Augustine's footsteps to bring the Roman Rite, now standardised by S Pius V, back to England

Two intercessors for the restoration of Christendom, and of Romanita, to England. And two intercessors for a vibrant group of Christian women whose communal liturgical life exemplifies that Romanita and who are going through a time of trial.

I mean the contemplative Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate at Lanhearn in Cornwall; a young flourishing community occupying an historic Recusant House in which the continuities are unbroken. If this community were to go under, the risk could be that the House will end up as a Golfing Hotel or something similar. But I say this merely for context; it is of course for Mother Francesca, Mother Rosa, and their sisters that our prayers and Masses are needed.

25 May 2014

Where does this come from?

Dr Pusey: Newman's conversion was "perhaps the greatest event which has happened since the communion of the churches has been interrupted ... If anything could open their eyes to what is good in us, or soften in us any wrong prejudices against them, it would be the presence of such a one, nurtured and grown to ripeness in our church, and now removed to theirs".

(Thanks to Mgr Wilkinson for this gem.)

23 May 2014

COLOUR

Sometimes we moderns instinctively feel that 'White' is not a colour; that White is a neutral blank sheet before we put upon it the red, the blue, the purple, the 'colours'. But No; White is not only a colour; it is a difficult colour to produce. The Transfiguration Lord wore robes "white as no fuller on earth could bleach them". In the ancient world, 'fulling' consisted of the use of chemicals most easily accessed through urine. This was why, in towns and cities, outside a fuller's shop were groin-high receptacles so that passers-by could provide fluid for recycling. The mixture fullers concocted was sometimes used as a punishment ... troublesome slaves were made to drink it.

White, I am saying, is not the absence of colour; it is itself a colour. And it is a colour which easily shows dirt (another clerical blogger recently described noticing that the S John Paul's cassock was rather grubby). Personally, I rather dislike white. My beard tends to wear away the black linen of a clerical shirt ... and, to stiffen the collar, the manufacturers put a band of plastic round the inside. And the b*****s always make it white plastic. Shirts would last me very much longer if the makers didn't have  this fetich for white. Black plastic backing would give me a couple of years more wear than the Transfiguration White which begins to show through a couple of months after I start a new shirt. Or perhaps the makers craftily want shirts to wear out fast ... If any brother priest knows of shirts which have black backing to the neck-band ...

There have recently been pictures doing the rounds of Cardinals wearing completely plain black cassocks. Am I being cynical in suggesting that they may be signing up thereby to the new 'Francis' ethos of 'simplicity'? If so, good for them; I have no problems with it. I wish I'd known earlier so that I could have bought shares in Gamarelli's before this Cardinalitial rush dramatically enhanced their profits. But it does raise the question of whether the Holy Father himself ought to follow their lead. As Benedict XVI pointed out, red is the historical colour for popes*. The increasing use by Roman Pontiffs of Transfiguration White is a recent fad (modo) closely associated with the rather questionable Personality Cult of the popes since Pio Nono.

Now that Cardinals are too nervous to wear red, the decent thing would be for the Pope himself to give up his rather ostentatiously flashy Transfiguration White, which seems to shout "Look how unique I am! Look how pure I am!", and to revert to the historically correct papal Red. It would be ecological, too. His cassocks wouldn't need to be cleaned so often, and so he would be saving on expenditure and demonstrating an ecological instinct. Go on, Jorge! You know it makes sense!

Red is the new Green and the new White!
_____________________________________________________________________________
*See my Narcissistic Butterflies, especially Episode the Third.

21 May 2014

I'll let you into a secret

With regard to those two posts, taken of course from Fr Bernard Walke's Twenty years at St Hilary, there is one detail which he omitted. He wrote "other images were substituted for those carried off". The detail? Aware that a raid might be imminent, Fr Walke had removed from the church some very fine statues, and had replaced them by cheap plaster statues. When the mob had cheerfully taken away the latter, the former were put back in place ... indeed, in the precise words he wrote in his account, "other images were substituted for those carried off"!!!

When the organisers of the Protestant mob realised what had happened, they were immensely indignant and accused 'Fr Ber' of deceit!

Ah, the wonders of Proddy morality! Shall we ever understand it?

20 May 2014

Church vandalism

".... The three of us imprisoned there, an old mam, a youth and myself, could do nothing against the forty or fifty men assembled. I attempted to withdraw into myself, to say my prayers and to repeat as much of the offices of the breviary as I knew by heart ... But however much I tried, I could not escape from what was going on round me. I might shut my eyes, but I still saw men standing on the holy altar, hacking at the reredos or carrying away the image of our Lady. I could not close my ears to the sounds of hammering which now filled the church.

" ... the guardianship of the Blessed Sacrament is part of the priest's office; the two men with me realised as fully as I did that the Holy Sacrament must be defended against profanation. While we were conferring together, a man who appeared to be in charge, approached me and suggested that if I surrendered the monstrance, now locked in the safe, he would be willing for me to remove the Sacrament. I could make no terms with him. Seeing that we were preparing to defend the Sacrament at all costs, he consented to my demands and allowed me to carry It to a place of safety. ... after vesting I went to the altar and, opening the door of the tabernacle, took out the Sanctissimum.

"Outside the church were a number of people ... As I came from the little doorway of the Lady Chapel carrying the Holy Sacrament, I found them all on their knees lining the pathway through the churchyard, with lighted candles in their hands.

"I had passed from the noise and tumult of passion to a quiet world of faith.

"That night there was a service of reparation, when the Most Holy Sacrament was borne back to the church. All along the roadway from house to church were rows of people with bowed heads; as the procession passed slowly by they sang the hymn of S Thomas: Therefore we before him bending/ This great sacrament revere; words in which the summit of man's faith is reached. Never had I so realised the God-given quality of faith as on that night when, together with this company of people, I entered the dismantled church.

"During the week people were busy restoring the house of God; carpenters and masons were repairing the damage; other images were substituted for those carried off and the church made gay with many flowers; so that by Sunday it was fit for the offering of the Holy Sacrifice."

18 May 2014

Epigraphy (2)

Die XVII Septembris MMX Benedictus XVI in Britanniam a Regina Elizabeth invitatus Missam Pretiosissimi Sanguinis hic celebravit fides in societate quod commodum fit beatifici J H Newman exemplo illustrans.

Oremus gives this translation of the last bit: "showing what advantage faith may be to society through the example of Blessed J H Newman".

I would express the sentiment in the purple bit by something along the lines of "rei publicae relligionem prodesse etc." ... if I had to.

But, frankly, I dislike the implication that 'Faith', meaning 'the Christian Faith', can be some sort of advantage or adornment or assistance to the post-Christian State or community. Of course, in a sense it is; but if your liner had been holed, and were going down fast, you wouldn't say "a lifeboat would be something of an advantage" unless you had iron nerves and couldn't resist going to your watery grave with an ironic litotes or meiosis on your lips. Individuals need Faith for Salvation; and states need the Kingship of Christ ... totally, urgently. Not as an advantage but as a necessity. And before SSPXers among you start crowing, I invite you to read the text of Pope Benedict's sermon, where you will discover that he says nothing remotely like what the 'translation' of the inscription alleges.

I don't like fides or societas in the senses apparent here; I don't understand the point of fit rather than est; and I don't like the quod ... construction. Apart from that ...

17 May 2014

Epigraphy (1)

                   DIE XVII SEPTEMBRIS MMX
                             BENEDICTVS XVI
   IN BRITANNIAM A REGINA ELIZABETH INVITATVS
MISSAM PRETIOSISSIMI SANGVINIS HIC CELEBRAVIT
      FIDES IN SOCIETATE QVOD COMMODVM FIT
   BEATIFICI J H NEWMAN EXEMPLO ILLVSTRANS

This is what you walk over now as you cross the lintel into Westminster Cathedral. It's all very straightforward, it seems to me, except for line 5. A 'translation' is offered in the November 2013 number of OREMUS, the Westminster Cathedral Magazine, but I wonder if you might care to consider three questions before you look at that. The plain meaning seems to me to be "because keeping ones oaths in an alliance becomes an advantage", but I have a suspicion that this rather military and Livian sentiment isn't what the author thought he was saying! Questions, then:
(1) What did the author want to say?
(2) How would you put into Latin what you think he wanted to say?
(3) Does (1), in any case, fairly summarise the sermon that our Holy Father did preach on that occasion?

In a couple of days, I'll publish my own answer to those questions.

[BEATIFICI is odd. I mean, Blessed John Henry Newman does make us happy ... or me, at least ... but 'happy-making' is a strange epithet to assign to him. I wonder if someone was under the impression that it meant 'beatified'.]

16 May 2014

Headlam and the Wendy House (2)

Obliged to keep an appointment with 'Nazi' Headlam, Dix turned up punctually. Of course, the Bishop was not yet at leisure to receive him. Anglican bishops (I'm sure Catholic bishops are quite different) generally keep you waiting. This is a very old and splendid Management trick to make the point that your time is of no value whatsoever, while the Bishop is extremely grand and important. Dix, therefore, was not surprised to be kept waiting. Into the room in which he had been parked there wandered a small and very sad girl, sobbing inconsolably. After a while, Dix asked her who she was. She broke off to tell him that she was the bishop's granddaughter, and then returned to her grief. After another interval, Dix enquired why she was crying. "It's my Wendy House", he was informed. (Wendy Houses are toy houses for children to play in, scaled down to their less than adult proportions.) With bachelor reticence, Dix hesitated to invade with gross masculine insensitivity these maidenly mysteries ... until the renewed sobs drove him in exasperation to demand more precise information. "Well", said the tiny, "We were playing together in the nursery and I persuaded grandpapa to crawl into my Wendy House. It wasn't really big enough for him, but in the end I got him wedged inside. Then I shut ... ". Here the distraught female resorted again to heart-rending sobs. Dix pressed upon her the cleaner of his two monastic handkerchiefs, and tactfully asked her to continue. "Well I shut the door and then I locked it and then I went for a ride on my pony and there was nobody else in the nursery wing of the Palace so nobody heard him shouting for three hours and then when they got him out he was stiff and hoarse and all he could say was Now I've got to go and see that bloody monk ... Oh! Oh! I shouldn't have said the bad word! You won't tell them, will you? PLEASE PLEASE promise you won't tell them ... I'm already in disgrace ..."

Recounting this story afterwards to an admiring circle of friends, Dix - who liked to 'play' his audiences - paused to stuff some more tobacco into his pipe. One of his hearers pressed him: "So what, Father, did you do?". "I patted her on the head and told her what a good girl she was and gave her half a crown."


15 May 2014

Headlam and the Wendy House (1)

I wasn't around during the Thirties, but the anecdotally-driven impression I get is that European culture was divided. There were those who believed in stark, virile, Nordic culture, combined with 'race' and 'blood' imperatives. This involved Improving the Race by Eugenic methods which included sterilisation, abortion, and 'euthanasia', and the supersession or even elimination of lesser races. And there were those who strongly opposed these deadly superstitions. Nazism, of course, grabbed these ideas and ran with them, but they had been around in Northern Europe and North America long before the advent of Nazism. With varying levels of extremism, such ideologies ideas found within the churches a degree of support. German Protestantism split; those who would not run with the Zeitgeist formed a 'Confessing' Church which repudiated the mainstream and more conformist parts of German Protestantism.

If you were inclined to Satire, then you had enormous scope. If Germany had invaded Britain, the wag who observed that Aryans were as tall as Goebels, as slim as Goering, as blond as Hitler, might have been called to account. Mgr R A Knox was inclined to see the ridiculous side of the Nordic, Teutonic, fashion; so was G K Chesterton ... and Dom Gregory Dix.

One of Dix's least favourite bishops was Headlam of Gloucester. Headlam was a disdainful upper-class Wykehamist; he saw things from an 'Establishment', 'Management' standpoint. So he profoundly disliked the 'Confessing' Church for their anti-government approach. He had made himself interested in 'Church Unity'; so he disapproved of the split in German Protestantism caused by the opponents of Hitlerism. As late as 1938, he was criticising those who insisted upon an incompatibility between Christianity and National Socialism. Dix, with his contempt for Nordophilia, his suspicion of 'ecumenical' initiatives which amounted to pan-Protestantism, and radical antipathy to grand people who took themselves seriously, couldn't have been more different from Headlam.
Not at all hilarious so far. I'll get on to the Wendy House soon. I thought you ought to have background.

14 May 2014

But are Cuckoos' Eggs Roman? (3) (WARNING Contains some irony)

Fr Aidan suggested that the 1969 Missal should be renamed the Ritus Communis instead of the Ritus Romanus, since it "contains more features of Oriental provenance than the Roman rite has ever known historically"; he thinks it might be useful  for "new ritual families" in, for example, India; or for converted Western Evangelicals (who, unlike former Anglo-Catholics, do not share a passion for the Roman Canon). But, as my favourite liturgist, Lenin, would put it, what is to be done? It is obviously important to do something fast, before the Advertising Standards people realise that they should be prosecuting the publishers for printing a misleading description on the spines of all our ROMAN MISSALs. Perhaps the simplest solution would be to use small razors to cut the cuckoos' eggs, Eucharistic Prayers II, III, and IV, out of this sadly invaded (and overcrowded) nest. Probably Mr Cameron would be glad to take Fr Aidan's advice and ship the cuttings out to India as part of his Foreign Aid programme. When visiting a strange church, keep a razor handy.

FOOTNOTE: WHEN THE ROMAN MISSAL IS NEXT REPRINTED ...
(1) It will have to contain the Cuckoo Canons, so as to conform canonically with the Editio Typica. But their pages should be perforated at the inner edge, so as to make them easily removable without any need for a razor.
(2) Could it, please, have bound in with it, as the previous translation did, the Missale Parvum: which comprised Latin texts of the Ordo Missae with a basic working minimum of Latin propers? This was for priests finding themselves celebrating in countries where they had no knowledge of the dominant language used liturgically. It would also be useful for clergy who, in accordance with the clear expectation oSacrosanctum Concilium para 54, wish to celebrate in a mixture of Latin and the vernacular. Our old English Missal, dear old volume, had the Offertory prayers, and everything from Te igitur onwards, in both Latin and English on facing pages or columns.
(3) The tabs are wrongly placed. For example, as you move on from the Preface to the Te igitur, the relevant tab ought to be on the left page, the one with the picture. And so on.


13 May 2014

But are Cuckoos' Eggs Roman? (2)

Happily, the House of Commons in 1928 showed a lamentable lack of interest in the great project to Byzantinise the Anglican Eucharistic Prayer by adding to it an Orientalising Epiclesis of the Spirit; they threw the proposed rite out. That left the C of E with the 1662 Consecration Prayer and none other; this Prayer has a lot wrong with it, but in notable respects remains soberly and austerely Roman: action is besought of the Father without any suggestion that he is obliged to employ the Spirit to do it, and the old Roman concept - which also suited the Tudor mind - of stating a 'legal basis' for what is done ("according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution") is retained. My recollection of the time forty years after 1928 is that in all the propaganda of the 1960s, advocating liturgical reform in the C of E, much was made of the 'deplorable' lack of mention of the agency of the Spirit in the Cranmerian rite. Quietly superior people murmured 'Tut tut tut, we know so much better now'. In other words, identical mischief was afoot in both communions. It is not always to be taken for granted that ecumenical convergence is convergence on the truth.

A basis for this disastrous ecumenical convergence was the high prestige of an old liturgical book which, in the 1960s, everybody believed was the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, and thus an early liturgical rite from Rome itself. It contained an Epiclesis of the Spirit. Current consensus has now abandoned this identification of authorship and place of origin, but it was so compelling half a century ago that all the committee-generated products of that decade which still clutter up Catholic and Anglican rites have got pneumatic epicleses all over them, like the prickles on a Texan cactus. A very prolific, a thoroughly ecumenical, cuckoo was indeed at work! Dom Gregory Dix's role here is interesting. He had opposed the Anglican shenanigans of 1928 and remained strongly opposed to introducing Oriental epicleses into Western liturgies. But, like everybody else, he had fallen for the 'Hippolytus' identification. His canny and accurate instincts told him that there could not have been an epiclesis in a Roman rite of the date then attributed to 'Hippolytus'; so, in an edition of 'Hippolytus' which he produced, he omitted the Epiclesis (to be fair to him, there was some textual evidence that justified this omission).

This sad tale of intrusive epiclesiphilia has an important moral: It is a bad idea to put all ones eggs into one basket. Academic fashions can change fast; it is an act of supreme historical arrogance for one decade to gamble on its own fads being Permanent Truth. It ends up with Cuckoo worship.

Another and very sinister motive for this fad has been suggested: to sabotage the inherited Western Catholic practices around the Consecratory Words of the Lord and thus to attack belief in Transubstantiation.
To be continued.

12 May 2014

But are Cuckoos' Eggs Roman? (1)

ROMAN MISSAL, it says on the spine of that splendidly and expensively produced Altar Book which everybody bought three or four years ago; so much more attractive than the old plastic Altar Books with SACRAMENTARY blocked upon them. The change was part of the Hermeneutic of Reform in Continuity, just as the earlier description had been a conscious assertion of rupture. Our Liturgy, we are now taught, is to be seen as in continuity with what preceded it, just as the Edition of S Pius V was in continuity with the printed missals of the late fifteenth century. This motive is highly laudable ... its heart is in the right place ... but I wonder whether its assertion is quite true.

As Aidan Nichols neatly explained, "anaphoras ... are central to the definition of any Eucharistic style". And that is why the title ROMAN MISSAL is only a quarter-truth. The First Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman Canon, is indeed Roman. Its theology is the old theology of Consecration which preceded the changes driven in the East by the realisation that the Holy Spirit is fully God. In the Roman Canon, the Spirit only makes an appearance in the Doxology. Its doctrine is very simple: Divine acceptance is Consecration. In the Quam oblationem, we ask the Father to accept the offering; to bless it by writing it on the Official List of Eucharists (remember Christine Mohrmann's demonstration of the legalism of Roman religious thought both Christian and pre-Christian) and ratifying it (benedictam adscriptam ratam rationabilem acceptabilem). The next word is ut; the linkage is precise and intended. God is asked to accept the offering in order that it may become the Lord's Body and Blood. Then follows Qui pridie .... This qui has a sense of forasmuch as (remember all those collects beginning Deus qui ..., in which the qui clause gives the factual basis upon the logic of which we base our request which follows in the second half of the collect). The Qui pridie  gives the grounds upon which we centre our confidence that the Father will do what is asked. Accept this offering so that it becomes the Lord's body; and His statements at His Last Supper form the 'legal' basis for our confident request.

The Eastern theology is quite different. The Father is asked to send down his Spirit upon the elements and to make them the Body and blood, He, by His Holy Spirit, making the change. No longer is the theology one in which the Divine Acceptance itself constitutes the transformation; instead, the (newly discovered) Holy Spirit is deemed, is asked, to come down ab extra and to transform bread and wine*. (I have no problems with Byzantines keeping the pattern they have had for 1400 or so years, and I would sign any petition against any proposal to latinise their rites; for the same reason that I am disappointed by Byzantines who accept 'Western Rite Orthodox' only if they add an Oriental Epiclesis to the Roman Canon, thereby transsubstantiating it into gobbledegook.)

You know what I'm going to say next. The three Cuckoos' Eggs which follow the Roman Canon in the ROMAN MISSAL do not pray for Acceptance so that Bread becomes Body; instead, they call for the action of the Holy Spirit so that Bread may become Body. Our distinguished Anglican liturgist G G Willis wrote that "the rite has certainly become hybrid"; he surprised Roman liturgists in the post-conciliar period (they thought that Anglicans would be over-the-moon because of their innovations) by taking every opportunity to explain to them how questionable it was to "incorporate into the Western liturgy features which are not native to it, but confessedly derived from Oriental sources".

IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: Traditional Catholics sometimes make the unfortunate mistake of thinking that the sort of enquiry which I am conducting means or implies that such-and-such a sort of Mass is "invalid". This is very seriously wrong, as I have explained three times before. However celebrated, the Novus Ordo Mass contains ALL the requirements for a valid Mass. You DO receive the Body of the Incarnate Word. AND: there is no such thing as "more valid" and "less valid". A sacrament is valid or invalid, period. There is nothing in between. You may find the Novus Mass very greatly less helpful to you than the Vetus Mass. So might I. But both forms are equally valid. GOD, the significant actor, does exactly the same in each.
To be continued.
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*The following amuses me: In the full fervour of exaggerated pneumatology which gripped the East in and after the fourth century, S Cyril of Jerusalem actually taught that, in exactly the same way as the invoked Spirit transsubstantiated bread and wine into the Lord's Body and Blood, so the invoked Spirit transsubstantiated oil into the charisma of the Holy Spirit. This passage was incorporated into the Liturgia Horarum by the post-conciliar revisers ... but with the Eucharistic analogy excised from the text. They chickened!!! 

11 May 2014

Are they really bishops? (3)

It is argued that the words in the post-Conciliar Form for consecrating Bishops, spiritus principalis, are insufficiently univocal (unambiguous) to denote the ordo episcopalis. I have pointed out that the same problem could be urged against the corresponding words which Pius XII declared to be the Form: ministerii tui summam (or its manuscript variant mysterii tui summam). But before 1947, the communis sententia among the approved manualists (this is summed up by Cardinal Gasparri, Secretary of State under Benedict XV and Pius XI) saw the Form for episcopal Consecration as being three quite different words, which had entered the Pontifical comparatively late: Accipe Spiritum Sanctum. Bishops, when consecrating a new bishop before 1947, intended to consecrate him when they opened their mouths and said these words, not when they uttered the words which Pius XII subsequently selected and declared to be the Form. 

Are those three words sufficiently precise to indicate, univocally, the Episcopate? By your standards, O thou sedevacantist, surely not; they actually appeared also in the rite for ordaining a presbyter in the pre-Conciliar rites (they were said over me in 1968) and they could even without complete inappropriateness be linked to the Diaconate and to Confirmation. If (like popes, bishops and theologians for hundreds of years) you are happy with these vague words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum as the Form for episcopal consecration, why do you have a problem with the rather more explicit, distinctly less vague, words Spiritus principalis?

Cardinal Gasparri (this is a most interesting and telling point) also raised the hypothetical question of whether a consecrand would be validly consecrated if the whole of the ancient consecratory prayer were omitted and so all he had said over him were the three words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum. He concluded that this would be valid: "quia licet illa sola verba in se inspecta sint indeterminata, et non satis exprimant collationem ordinis episcopalis, tamen satis determinantur ... ipsamet caeremonia". Is your competence in these matters, O sedevacantist, really so much greater than that of the man who masterminded the production of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Gasparri the Great?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The sedevacantist arguments urged against the validity of Consecrations performed with the post-Conciliar Pontifical do not hold a drop of water in them ... not a molecule. These arguments are shown to be baseless, not by deploying what some might dismiss as modernist, specious, flabby post-Conciliar arguments, but by understanding the standard texts and praxis of the pre-Conciliar Church.

I would have some sympathy with you, O sedevacantist, if all you desired to argue was that it was deplorable for the 1960s revisers, without any Conciliar mandate, to eliminate the ancient Roman Prayer for making a bishop (the theology of which can be traced back to the Letter to Corinth of Pope S Clement I in the 90s of the first Christian century) and to replace it by an Oriental prayer of unknown origin (but fashionable in the 1960s; the chairman of the coetus concerned with the Pontifical, Dom Botte, had himself produced an edition of it). A Catholic is not forbidden to entertain such a view. In fact, I hold it.

But that action, however deplorable, did not come within a million miles of rendering the Orders of the Catholic Church invalid.

10 May 2014

Are they really bishops? (2)

It is argued that the words in the post-Conciliar Pontifical for Consecrating a Bishop are insufficiently precise.

But that prayer was used for centuries by Oriental communities in communion with Rome, and dissident communities whose orders the settled praxis of the Holy See for centuries was to accept. It was on this ground that Archbishop Lefebvre himself, upon receiving fuller information, changed his mind and accepted that this prayer was adequate to confer the episcopate.

It is argued that the phrase spiritus principalis is insufficiently precise because it is used in some dissident communities in the prayer which is said over a man who is already a bishop but is now being constituted a Patriarch. So ... are you, O ye sedevacantists, saying: "Originally this prayer, used for centuries to consecrate bishops, was adequate; but now, since some communities began to use it for a different purpose, it has become insufficient, even in those communities where it is not used for blessing Patriarchs?" If so, I would regard this argument as absurdly and unconvincingly rococo.

Before going on to my next section, I think I had better point out out that it is very easy indeed to construct immensely attractive arguments for dismissing the Orders of people one doesn't like; the grief comes when the question is asked: "You deployed that argument to prove that X's Orders are invalid; but the same argument proves also the invalidity of the Orders of Y and of Z and, indeed, of you yourself and the clergy whose ministrations you depend upon." If you want to shoot off such arguments, my advice is: go to the middle of a large empty field with good lines of vision; discharge your arguments; then keep your eyes and ears wide open for the sound and sight of the returning boomerang. It has sharp edges.

Pius XII (1947) laid down that the Form in the (then) Roman Pontifical for consecrating a Bishop was Comple in sacerdote tuo ministerii tui summam etc..

(1) Are you quite sure, O thou sedevacantist, that this is explicit enough? If I have up my sleeve (I'm not saying I do) an example of a medieval pope who, already a bishop, had this read over him when he was promoted to the See of Peter, would you conclude that it was too vague to signify the Episcopate? If not, why not?

(2) And if I have up my sleeve early manuscripts of this prayer (I'm not saying I do) which read mysterii rather than ministerii, will this variant still be explicit enough for you? If not, will you admit that very many medieval bishops, consecrated with the use of this form, were not validly consecrated, including almost certainly many popes? If not, why not?

(3) And if I have up my sleeve (I'm not saying I do) a medieval rite of presbyteral ordination in which that same formula was used to ordain a mere priest, would you be still consistent enough to advance the argument that the words, since they were used in a context other than episcopal consecration, manifestly do not univocally signify the episcopate? And that therefore most, if not all, medieval and later Western bishops were not validly ordained? If not, why not?

Be careful how you answer those questions: I have capacious sleeves.

To be concluded. I will not enable comments until after the next and final installment.

9 May 2014

Are they really bishops? (1)

From time to time I get enquiries about the validity of the Orders of the post-Conciliar Church. I've tended to ignore such questions until now, because "the post-Vatican II Church" is the One, Holy Catholic Apostolic Church of God, just as much as "the Post-Tridentine Church" was, in full continuity with the Church of all ages. I have no intention of even seeming to accept the possibility of a 'sedevacantist' analysis being worth taking seriously. But, well, if there are people who are worried by this question and really want help ... you did ask ...

The preliminary logical question to be put to those who find themselves tempted by Sedevacantism is: "You claim to hold the basic Catholic dogmas that the Church is indefectible; and that the Bishop of Rome holds a unique and God-given place within the life of that Church. How many more decades does the Roman See have to be vacant before these combined doctrines become impossible for sedevacantists to hold?" It seems to me significant that, at this moment, Bishop Williamson is very painstakingly putting lots of blue water between himself and Sedevacantism. He wasn't born yesterday. There are no flies on him. He is a Wykehamist. He doesn't want to get caught in that little trap.

And if the post-Vatican II Church is the Catholic Church, and is indefectible, you can't argue that the overwhelming majority of its bishops and priests are not bishops and priests in the sight of God. Or, if you can do it, you'll have to write a very long and very clever book to do so.

However, prescinding from those rather obvious ... I would say, totally conclusive ... points ... I come now to the substance of the arguments that Ordinations according to the post-Conciliar Pontifical are not valid.

It is suggested that the 'form' used in the post-Vatican II rites for the consecration of a Bishop (which is what I am going to concentrate upon) is insufficiently precise. But any language, and any specialised subform of any language, has its own internal logic. If the Church, in the new rites, in effect says "We decree that the words spiritus principalis hereafter and herein are to have the meaning of episkope", then that is the meaning they do have, even if they didn't have it beforehand. Just as legislatures enacting legislation, or solicitors composing legal agreements, all commonly begin by defining terms ("within this Act/Agreement, the term The Society shall be deemed to mean the United Society of Water Diviners and Weak Beer Drinkers of the Parish of Little Snottingham in the Parliamentary Constituency of West Barsetshire"). Such assignment of precision to a potentially vague term is effective for the described purpose.
To be continued for two more sections. I sha'n't enable comments till I've finished.

4 May 2014

Continuities; and the English Martyrs

On May Day I went into town early; I avoided the drunken excesses around Magdalen and went to S John's for the madrigals from their tower at 7.00. Nice. Afterwards, I went, as one does, to the exquisite Renaissance quadrangle at the back, with its statues of blessed Charles at one end and his much loved (does anybody now read the Court Masques of the 1630s?) Queen, Henrietta Maria, at the other.

Walking home, I began to wonder about the assertion, now I think pretty well an orthodoxy, that until the Stuarts brought about the invention of a characteristic and distinctive Anglicanism, the Church of England was just any old Proddy Boddy, more concerned with asserting a rigid rupture between itself and the dark days of Popery, that with discerning continuities. Possibly S John's College might incline us to nuance that judgement.

S John's was founded as a distinctively Counter-Reformation college during the reign of Good Queen Mary; some of its original vestments, including a banner given by a Campion, survive. During the reign of Bloody Bess, it was a hotbed of 'Church Popery' ... dons and undergraduates who conformed outwardly and occasionally but who awaited better days. It had sort of annexe, Gloucester Hall (where Worcester College now stands), which was rather more resolutely recusant. Not surprisingly, there were repeated defections to Douai (now incarnated in Allen Hall) from both of these.

But then, under James I, appears the figure of blessed William Laud of St John's College, one of those for whom the Church of England was not to be defined simply by a detestation of Rome.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a prosopographical study of the role S John's (and other Oxford colleges more generally) played in that fascinating half-century in which a distinct prejudice for continuity rather than for rupture did survive as a powerful intellectual force, with the allegiance of a numerically significant faction among the clerisy.

Eamonn Duffy brought to us the vivid figure of Parson Trichay. West Country historians, less glamorous than Duffy, have brought to us the less sharply focused but very interesting Parson Tregeare and his possible circle. How many Catholic-minded clergy, probably mostly Marian survivors, still survived well into Bloody Bess's reign to provide a spring-board for the Stuart Renaissance?

I think 'Find the Continuities' would be a jollier game than McCulloch's simplistic model.

But I'm not a historian, just an ignorant classicist meddling in a field where I lack competence.

2 May 2014

INFORMATION

I am coming up to a busy period, involving visits, Deo volente, to Cornwall, Texas, Italy, Wales, and Sussex. Not being very computer literate ... and not having a mobile phone or any of those little machines one sees people clutching on trains ... and not knowing how to access my blog or my emails from other people's computers ... I shall be able neither to write any new posts from the places I shall be in, nor to read and moderate Comments. I have accordingly disabled the capacity of my blog to receive Comments. This is not permanent; but is likely to remain so for a number of weeks. Since it is rather arrogant to set oneself above criticism, when I return to normal I shall make it possible for any who wish to comment on the posts of the previous period, to do so.

However, being fond of the sound of my own voice ... as we say ... I have, over the last few weeks, built up quite a 'bank' of precomposed pieces which are scheduled to pop up automatically. You will probably find that a lot of them give the appearance of commenting on what were the burning issues of some weeks previously! This is because, I am afraid, that is precisely what they will be.

I am sorry to be going incommunicado, and will myself miss the worldwide sense of daily contact, and of tolerant or even kind appreciation, which is provided by dealing with comments and contacts. I hope to get back to that when the Conference Season is over.

Over, then, to Autopilot! Roger, or whatever they say, and out!