31 December 2016

Fr H's Review of 2016

Annus valde mirablilis, miraculis potentioribus abundans ... annus in quo Romanus Pontifex, vir inter garrulos loquacissimus, vir qui dum vigilat loqui desinere nunquam potest, a quattuor tantum cardinalibus quinque tantum dubia proponentibus in silentium profundum actus est.

Haec addenda mihi videntur: Raimundus Burke, vir pius mitis generosus doctus, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Diaconus Cardinalis, inter tot Ecclesiae Catholicae negotia calamitates incommoda aerumnas pastorem se et gregis custodem et LEONEM monstravit et HUIUS ANNI SALUTIS MMXVI VIRUM EGREGIUM.

Ecumenical voices

Here is another quotation from a friendly non-RC theologian:

"Benedict exudes holiness, whereas Bergoglio has felt like an empty fake from the beginning ... where will this all end? Most likely there is no going back for either side at this point. The great drama impacts the whole of Christendom, and I have a deep-down sense that the ultimate outcome will aid the course of Christian Unity."

I am sure that there are non-Catholics who are gleeful about Bergoglio because they see him, rightly or wrongly, as leading the Catholic Church into the same grim antinomian apostasies which began to afflict Protestantism in the 1930s. But there clearly are other non-Catholics who do not have this sick agenda, and who perceive that the "Absolute Monarchy" Papacy preached to us by Bergoglian Hypersuperueberpapalists is as dangerous as it is unattractive. Perhaps when we emerge from this horribly dark tunnel our relationship with those Protestants who sympathised and prayed for us in our bad days will be transformed. Why should it not be?

30 December 2016

The necessity of Satire and of Laughter

Henry Chadwick, the towering Anglican intellectual of the second half of the twentieth century, believed that Blessed John Henry Newman was the most superb writer of Satire and of Irony in the English language. Too true! I wonder if you have read Newman's semi-autobiographical novel Loss and Gain. He exposes to our laughter the absurdities of popular Evangelicalism; of sonorous and dignified Oxford dons who were ... well, actually just plain ridiculous. So were the new religious movements thrown up by the ferment of the 1840s. With exquisite cruelty he analyses the hypocrisies of the comfortable domestic affluence, combined with a dilettante affection for the superficial trappings of Catholicism, enjoyed by a certain type of Establishment, monied, gothic-romanticist Anglican. Clearly, it touched a raw nerve in the Ordinariate's Patron Blessed John Henry Newman, and the Novel was the only way in which he could express the strength of his feelings. And not much more gentle was his ironic mockery of those who believed that the Birmingham Oratory contained oubliettes in which heiresses were tortured to death for their inheritances.

Newman, frankly, took no prisoners. And his mode of attack is, essentially, to laugh at his adversaries. This, surely, is the most merciless sort of put-down imaginable. If someone criticises you in a flat, humdrum, pathetic, terribly earnest style, he doesn't get to you. He is a poor, sad, silly old thing. But if he laughs at you ... ! And the victims of this sort of attack ... to quote the martial figure of Corporal Jones of Dad's Army ... don't like it up 'em. The grander you are, the more surrounded by people who defer to you and treat you with respect and deference, the less you like the satirist. The more you are a bully, an obsessive oppressive, or a control-freak, the more indignant the satirist makes you feel.

And, in many ways, this age is made for the satirist. Never was there a time when the the Great, the Wise, and the Good, were less able to control a narrative ... the narrative ... all the narratives. The Internet has done for them and their customary techniques. And if, right now, you would like a neat and brief gem of modern satire, fresh from the Ordinariate stable, turn to Dr Geoffrey Kirk's blog, with its frequent pieces on Frankie and his naive correspondent Justin. Perhaps one of the funniest was his recent piece linking our Holy Father's professed interest in coprophagia with his endless loquacity. Go on, look at it now (via gkirkuk), then come back and finish my piece off.

Right. I hope you enjoyed it.

If, being Intellectuals, you would like an intellectual ... indeed, a theological ... account and justification of Satire and Laughter, I offer you the collection Essays in Satire by another brilliant Anglican, a generation later than Newman, who brought his satirical gifts into the Catholic Church: Mgr Ronald Knox. In his Introduction, he entertained the argument that "our sense of the ridiculous is not, in its original application, a child's toy at all, but a weapon, deadly in its efficacy, entrusted to us for exposing the shams and hypocrisies of the world. The tyrant may arm himself in triple mail, may surround himself with bodyguards, may sow his kingdom with a hedge of spikes, so that free speech is crushed and criticism muzzled. Nay, worse, he may so debauch the consciences of his subjects with false history and with sophistical argument that they come to believe him the thing he gives himself out for, a creature half-divine, a heaven-sent deliverer. One thing there is that he still fears; one anxiety still bids him turn this way and that to scan the faces of his slaves. He is afraid of laughter. The satirist stands there, like the little child in the procession when the Emperor walked through the capital in his famous new clothes; his is the tiny voice that interprets the consciousness of a thousand onlookers: 'But, Mother, he has no clothes on at all!'"



29 December 2016

"Brother-and-Sister"?? UPDATED

"An adulterous couple may repent of their adultery and live together, in a state of probably great temptation and occasion of sin, as long as they undertake to do their best to resist that temptation; and for as long as they are able to claim that the good of children requires it."

UPDATE How far back does this concession go? I have traced it back to the closing homily of the VIth Synod, published in AAS 72 (1980) paragraph 7 page 1082 (whence it entered Familiaris consortio). Is anybody aware of an earlier Magisterial articulation?

This idea, as is clear from the thread to yesterday's post, is fraught with problems and can be a source of real, lifelong agony to faithful but deserted spouses. I will add another problem which has occurred to me: is it understood and made clear to such adulterous couples by the 'pastor' who is 'accompanying' them that, once the good of children no longer requires their cohabitation, they will (as any deeply and truly repentant couple of former adulterers would surely wish to do) finally and definitively separate, securing a civil divorce and dividing their assets?


But my main problem is as follows. Clearly the "Brother-and-Sister" solution to the 'problem' was elaborated as just about the very furthest that the Church could possibly go in assenting to an arrangement which is manifestly full of problems. One step further, and the Church would be completely abandoning the Verba Domini concerning Indissolubility. It is a solution which clings by no more than its fingertips ... or do I mean the skin of its teeth ... to the Word of the Incarnate Torah, Divine Mercy Incarnate, our Lord Jesus Christ.

"OK ... the couple will probably fall victims to temptation from time to time ... who wouldn't ... but it's easy enough to absolve them. OK ... Marriage is not only about sex but about a totius vitae consortium, and this pair are being allowed everything else that appertains to Marriage (mensa if not torum) even if they do abstain from sex ... but that can't be helped. OK ... they are likely to constitute a public scandalum, but they can be urged to avoid this by furtively receiving the Sacraments in places where they are not known."

The contorted and extraordinary nature of this procedure makes abundantly clear that it is conceded as an extreme and just-about-defensible possibility, a piece of Pastoral Mercy which teeters on the very edge of the precipice of disobedience to the Revealed Word.

Yet it is now being attacked by the heretics, with apparent countenance from Bergoglio, as some sort of difficult, draconian, and really rather unfair and unreasonable (not to say cruel) piece of legalistic rigidity! It is treated as a nasty piece of rigid 'Pharisaeism' which is being imposed on suffering people by unfeeling and rigid clerics whom the same Bergoglio insults and foul-mouths as often as he can think of a pretext for doing so.

If I have got this wrong and am being unfair to Bergoglio, perhaps it would be pastorally helpful for him to clarify my dubia.

Are we not in a bit of a mess?

Cardinal Burke's latest (3)

My third question to his Eminence, followed by his reply, was as follows.
Is there any pastoral or legislative authority within the Church Militant by which dispensations can be granted in these matters, or do they involve a ius Divinum which sets them beyond dispensation and legislative modification?
There is no pastoral authority of any kind within the Church who can grant a dispensation to a party, so that he may live in a marital way with someone who is not his spouse. This is a question of Ius Divinum and is articulated in can. 1141 of the Code of Canon Law: "A marriage which is ratified and consummated cannot be dissolved by any human power or by any cause other than death".

His Eminence concluded his letter thus:
I hope that these answers are of some help to you and to the clergy who have raised them to you. The clear answer to these questions is imperative for the correction of the widespread confusion in the Church which is redounding to the grave harm of souls.

Asking God to bless you and all your priestly labors, and confiding your intentions to the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John Apostle and Evangelist, and Saint John Fisher, I remain

Yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke.

Concluded.

28 December 2016

Cardinal Burke's latest (2)

My second query, followed by Cardinal Burke's reply:
Is it acceptable for a couple not validly married and with offspring for whom they are responsible to argue that, for the good of that offspring, they may lawfully continue to live as husband and wife because it may prudently be foreseen that their relationship, if not sustained by adulterous intimacies, would fail to survive?
A couple who are living in an irregular matrimonial union may argue that they must continue to live under the same roof for the sake of their offspring, but they must live without recourse to adulterous acts, that is, they must live as brother and sister. In other words, the need to live under the same roof for the sake of children or elderly grandparents is not an argument which justifies acts of adultery. Both reason and faith tell us that adulterous acts can never be justified, can never serve the good of either the parties or of their children.

To continue.

27 December 2016

Cardinal Burke's latest (1)

As we await the text of the Fraternal Correction of the Roman Pontiff which Cardinal Burke has promised, I can share with you a briefer text from his Eminence's pen. A few weeks ago, some younger clergy asked me to put some queries to the Cardinal. I think the reason for this was that I, being old, am perhaps not quite as vulnerable to intimidatory threats and petty episcopal malice as they are. These queries were sent before it was made public that the Four Cardinals had submitted their five Dubia. I received his Eminence's most gracious answers dated 3 December. He responded, he said, "to certain serious questions of the clergy in the present situation of widespread confusion and error in the Church".

My first query, which was followed by the reply, follows below.
Is it licit for a priest to give Absolution or the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to a person who is living as husband or wife with another to whom they are not, in the eyes of the Church, validly married; when that person makes clear that he or she has no intention of metanoia and of doing their best, with the help of Divine Grace, to avoid committing such adultery in the future?
A priest may not give Absolution to a party who is living in an irregular matrimonial union and has no firm purpose of amendment. If the party has the firm purpose of amendment, pledging, with the help of Divine Grace, to avoid any sin of adultery in the future, then the priest may give Absolution, counseling the party that he should only approach to receive Holy Communion in a place in which there is no reasonable chance of scandal. 

To continue.

26 December 2016

Sancte Stephane ...

... Ora pro nobis. Pray for the great number of Catholic priests in full communion with the See of S Peter whose priesthood was formed at S Stephen's House; when it was on the site of what we are now supposd to call the Weston Library alias the New Bod; later in Norham Gardens; and, more recently, along the Iffley Road. If the influx of former Anglican clergy both before and after the vote of 1992 has brought things of value into the Catholic Church, to a large degree that must represent the sound liturgical spirit and the traditions of focussed clerical professionalism inculcated at Staggers ... not for us the cheerful undoctrinal amateurism which Anglican seminarians imbibed in some other places!  (I intend no sneers at some of the dear old 'Cathedral Close' seminaries, such as Chichester. But Staggers' independance of that ethos enabled its thoroughly ultramontane Romanita. Nowadays, of course, many ... most? ... Anglican clergy pick up what little they do pick up at multi-denominational non-residential 'Ministerial Training Courses' which are far from the ethos devised by Cardinal Pole and put into place by the Council of Trent.)

And pray for the repose of the souls of the departed: not least of Arthur Couratin, priest; of Derek Allen, priest.

Mary Mother of God

Once upon a time, a thousand years ago in the great basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople, high up on the ceiling near the Altar, was an enormous picture of a Palestinian teenager, that selfsame Girl who is such a lead-player in the Christmass celebrations. There she stood orans, Mediatrix of All Graces, as we Westerners would say, her hands raised in prayer, and in front of her womb, in a round circle, a painting of her Divine Son - his hand lifted in blessing. That image of Mary was called Platytera tou kosmou, the Woman Wider than the Universe. Mary was Great with Child; her Child was Almighty God. She contained the One whom the heaven of heavens is too narrow to hold. Can a foot be larger than the boot or an oyster greater than the shell? For Christians, apparently, Very Often. Mary's slender womb enthroned within it the Maker of the Universe, the God who is greater than all the galaxies that stream across the firmament. The tummy of a Girl was wider than creation.

Then on the crisp night air came the squeal of the newly born baby. It came from the cave that was both a stable and a birth-place. That stable in Bethlehem, as C S Lewis memorably explains in The Last Battle, 'had something in it that was bigger than our entire world'. The stable, like Mary, was great with child; very great, for that Child is God. And what is true of the womb of the Mother of God, and what is true of that stable at Bethlehem, is also the great truth of the Sacrament of the Altar. Bread becomes God Almighty; little round disks of unleavened bread are recreated by the Maker of the World to be Himself. As Mary's Baby was bigger than all creation, than all the stars and clouds and mass of it, so the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is bigger than the Kosmos.

As you made your Christmass communion, glorious and loving Infinity came to make His dwelling in your poor body; so that, as you walked or drove home for the rest of Christmass, you were platyteroi tou Kosmou: broader than the Universe.

25 December 2016

Ecce Agnus Dei; Ecce.

"She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes"

"I need not to tell you who this 'she' or who this 'Him'. The day rises with it in its wings. This day wrote it with the first ray of the morning sun upon the posts of the world. The Angels sung it in their choirs, the morning stars together in their courses. The Virgin Mother, the Eternal Son. The most blessed among women, the fairest of the sons of men. The woman clothed with the sun, the sun compassed with a woman. She the Gate of Heaven, He the King of Glory that came forth. She the Mother of the everlasting God: He the God without a mother; God blessed for evermore. Great persons as ever met upon a day.

"Yet as great as the persons, and great as the day, the great lesson of them both is to be little, to think and make little of ourselves; seeing the infinite greatness in this day become so little, Eternity a Child, the rays of glory wrapt in rags, Heaven crowded into the corner of a stable, and He that is everywhere want a room.
....

"It is Christmas time, and let us keep open house for Him; let His rags be our Christmas raiment, His manger our Christmas cheer, his stable our Christmas great chamber, hall, dining room. We must clothe with Him, and feed with Him, and lodge with Him at this feast.

He is now ready by and by to give himself to eat; you may see Him wrapped ready in the swaddling clothes of His Blessed Sacrament; you may behold Him laid upon the Altar as in His manger. Do but make room for Him
     and we will bring Him forth,
          and you shall look upon Him,
                and handle Him,
                    and feed upon Him;
bring we only the rags of a rent and torn and broken and contrite heart, the white linen cloths of pure intentions and honest affections to swathe Him in, wrap Him up fast, and lay Him close to our souls and bosoms.

It is a day of mysteries: it is a mysterious business that we are about;
     Christ wrapped up;
          Christ in the Sacrament;
               Christ in a mystery;
let us be content to let it go so, believe, admire and adore it."

Mark Frank, STP, Master of Pembroke College Cambridge (1613-1664), Chaplain and Censor Librorum to His Grace Archbishop Sheldon. From the Second Sermon for Christmas Day.

24 December 2016

Judica me Deus

One of the joys of the EF and of the Ordinariate Form is the Introibo ad Altare Dei with the Psalm at the foot of the altar, and the sense it has of human uncertainty and weakness being supported by the knowledge that one is young-every-morning (qui laetificat iuventutem meam); and the wonderful bit where I express my wobbly feelings and the server in his most robust tones instructs me to stop whinging and pick myself up and just get on with it (Spera in Deo ...). And as I walk up those steps to the Altar, I know that I am in the footsteps of Abraham and of the Incarnate Word Himself, going up ad montem sanctum Dei et ad tabernacula eius, to the one and only Place of Sacrifice where Shed Blood expiates. The only thing that troubles me is the thought that I really ought to get round to making an honest man of myself by changing my surname to Cohen. What greater privilege is there than offering every morning the One Great Sacrifice of the Lamb, which fulfills and clasps together the differentias hostiarum? The Preparation at the foot of the Altar is the perfect preparation for this mighty Action.

A correspondent has asked me how the old Praeparatio might be incorporated into a reformed Novus Ordo. Our splendid Ordinariate Missal makes this very clear. You just bung it onto the the start of Mass, before the Priest goes up the steps to kiss the Altar. After all, in the monocultural 1970s mainstream Novus Ordo they have the illegally interpolated Versicle and Response V Good Morning Every--Body. R Good Morning Fa--ther, a useless duplication [cf Sacrosanctum Concilium 50] of Dominus vobiscum, so it can hardly be dangerously improper to say a psalm and to acknowledge ones sinfulness immediately after the Entrance.

(Then, in the Ritibus Initialibus of a Said Mass without music, because the People will have heard already the Confiteor, one could use the farced Kyries, i.e. the Kyries with penitential interpolations.Or, in view of the relaxed ease with which 'mainstream' celebrants omit the Sermon and/or the Creed whenever they happen to feel like it, one could just omit the novus Ordo Confession. Despite Paul VI's naughty little fib in the eighth paragraph of Missale Romanum, the corporate Act of Reconciliation is not 'patristic'.)

23 December 2016

Censing the Elements at the Offertory

Few liturgical ceremonies seem to me more appropriate than the way the Offering of the munera is immediately followed by the sight of smoke rising above the Altar ... just as smoke went up from the great Altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. It is, surely the the moment when it most obvious that we are the True Israel.

 Let this incense, blessed by Thee, ascend unto Thee, O Lord; and may Thy Mercy come down upon us. The priest says this as he swirls the incense all over and all round the munera which have been set upon the Altar of the Christian Oblation. The words come from Psalm 140/141.

"The incense was offered morning and evening on its own special golden altar in the Holy Place, in front of the veil, at first by the High Priest only, but under the Second Temple, by the inferior priests also, chosen daily by lot for the office, as was Zachariah the father of John Baptist. Besides this separate burning of incense as an independent offering, it was joined to all the other oblations "of a sweet savour", as something which gave them acceptance; and similarly in the Apocalypse the Angel who stands at the altar with a golden censer, offers the incense 'with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne'. To the Temple sacrifice is added the perpetual intercession of CHRIST, as the Great Angel of the Covenant (compare the prayer Supplices te rogamus), that is, Christ presents His petition amidst the smoke which rises from off the altar of gold."

From the writings of one of our Tractarian Fathers.

22 December 2016

Private

Josee ... if you had included your email in the Comment you sent me, I would have been able to reply to you!!

Baroque

I feel that the Baroque gets a raw deal. English culture is deeply antipathetic to it; why? Because it is (for the most part) foreign and we are a nasty insular xenophobic people given to defining ourselves only in terms of not being foreign? Perhaps you can tell me. But there are writers of intelligence - Pickstock and Hemming spring to mind - who don't give the Baroque a fair run. And in liturgical circles, you only have to characterise something as 'Baroque' to have spoken its condemnation.

On a trip to Prague, Pope Benedict XVI said something which strikes me as perhaps the start of a Spirituality of the Baroque; if Prague, he asked, is the heart of Europe, in what does that 'heart' consist?
"Surely a clue is found in the architectural jewels that adorn this city ... Their beauty expresses faith; they are epiphanies of God that rightly leave us pondering the glorious marvels to which we creatures can apire when we give expression to the aesthetic and cognitive aspects of our inmost being ... The creative encounter of the classical tradition and the Gospel gave birth to a vision of man and society attentive to God's presence among us."

It looks to me as though Benedict's theology of the aesthetic may prove one of many significant intellectual gifts of that wonderful and unforgettable pontificate.

We of the Ordinariate Patrimony may have someting to contribute here. Sir Ninian Comper ... of whom Sir Nikolaus 'Bauhaus' Pevsner used the adjective 'limp' ... believed in 'Unity by Inclusion' . He discovered this in between the work he did at my 'title' church of S Mary's, Beaconsfield, and his contribution of such splendour in Pusey House Chapel, here in Oxford. What on earth is wrong with putting a baroque altar into a gothic church? Henry VII did it to splendid effect in the magnificent perpendicular Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey! Just imagine that vault with its polychromatic paint, enshrining the baldachino and Altar.

21 December 2016

I hope you are Unhelpful UPDATE

SOME JOLLY GOOD MATERIALS ON THE THREAD
From time to time, I address you on the sophisms and manipulations of Management-talk ... the way our Masters talk. Today, I invite you join me in analysis of a particular word: "unhelpful". I have recently read a few words by an English-speaking prelate referring to the Letter of the 45, which I, all unworthy, was privileged to sign. He found it "unhelpful".

Where I've got to so far is something like this.

'Unhelpful' corrupts judgement because it avoids questions of right and wrong. If it does elicit a dialogue, the dialogue has been required to be about whether the words concerned are helpful ... whatever that may mean ... rather than about their possible truth.

'Unhelpful' in fact implies, generally mendaciously, that there is an aim shared by all reasonable people, which some 'unhelpful' people have blundered into obstructing.

Use of adjectives like 'Unhelpful' enables the speaker (this is a common feature of much modern Management-talk) to maintain a lofty, Olympian posture of imperturbable and superior composure. Another example: Management-talkers will say "Concern has been expressed about your XYZ" because that is calm and distanced ... so very unlike speaking the the truth (which would be "Your XYZ has made me hopping mad"). Management-talkers [this is the verbal game which is being set up] are calm and dispassionate people, simply because they are such enormously great men. 'Unhelpful' means "I am very angry with you, nasty little nuisance that you are, for saying ABC because it cuts across the policies advocated by me and my almost-equally-important cronies ... indeed, it (unhelpfully!) gives away the radical fact that this is a matter about which there is disagreement ... whereas there isn't ... because there shouldn't be".

There is an amusing additional nuance about 'Unhelpful'. Often I detect a hint in this word suggesting that if you had expressed yourself more quietly and more deferentially, Authority would have been more sympathetic because it could have grandly  treated you as a poor sad thing needing TLC and help. We had all this in the C of E when they were bringing in their Women Bishops. They wouldn't have minded if we had played the role they had assigned to us: of being dim and pathetic losers. If we had snivelled quietly in a corner, they would have been all over us, arms round our shoulders and "Believe me, we do feel your pain". But we were bold and confident and we won all the arguments and we expressed ourselves in public and private fora where we were heard, and we got a great many wonderful laughs out of exposing the absurdities, hypocrisies, and dishonesties of our opponents. Archdeacon Armitage Shanks and all the rest of them, how they hated it! How truly 'unhelpful' they found it! They then imported their blessed term 'tone' into the argument. We were (of course) entitled to express our 'views', but our 'tone' was disgraceful. Believe me, when Grand People, when the Great and the Good, start telling you that it is your tone that they do not like, Rejoice and Be Glad and go home and have a nice big Drink, celebrating quia merces vestra magna est in caelo.

(In the end, by the way, we did clamber up onto the podium to collect the Gold Medal, because there was a Somebody in Rome with whom we had been in touch since the 1990s and who had listened to us and taken us seriously and understood us and who gave us that Corporate Unity with the See of S Peter for which generations of our forbears had longed.) 

Over to you!! Two generations ago, English philologists demonstrated and analysed (seminally, Professor Alan Ross in 1954) the distinction between U talk and Non-U talk ['U' means 'Upper-class']. How about M and Non-M? You must all have experienced Management-talk? You might even (now, here's a thought) be Management-talkers! 

 Examples ... analysis ...

20 December 2016

Private messages

Dear Josee  ... Dear Protasius ... if you will make your email addresses available to me, I will explain to you why your (very different!) comments have not been enabled, and what changes in them would make me feel able to do so. I beg you to forgive me in the circumstances in which "Enable" and "Delete" are the only options I have.

Dear Mike: everyone is welcome in an Ordinariate congregation. If you are a Catholic ... of Latin or Byzantine or Maronite or whatever rite ... you are welcome to take the very fullest part in the sacramental life of an Ordinariate community. We would simply love to have you. If you can serve or sing, your ministry would be invaluable!! If you are a cradle Catholic, we can't actually put you on the books as a canonical member of the Ordinariate ... unless a member of your family has Anglican Previous, in which case you can squeeze in with them!

But not being on the canonical books would make no difference to your daily life as member of an Ordinariate community. It would only impinge if things like Marriage or Ordination were in mind.

When I say everyone, of course I mean also those who are still Anglicans. In normal circumstances, you would not be allowed to receive the Sacraments (although the rules of the Catholic Church in this respect are not actually as strict as some people think, as long as you share fully the whole Catholic belief about the Eucharist). But if you are attracted by Catholic worship in the Anglican tradition, you could be very happy with us.

19 December 2016

Summorum Pontificum

Bishop Schneider has called for the SSPX to be given the justice they were denied in the 1970s. I do wonder, with great respect to his Lordship, whether things are now any longer quite as simple as that.

For a decade or two, we have been told that regularisation must wait upon the acceptance by the Society of the teaching of Vatican II and of the post-Conciliar Magisterium. But given the way things are now, might it not be fair and equitable for the Society now to insist that Papa Bergoglio manifest a proper and unambiguous submission to the post-Conciliar Magisterium of S John Paul II and of Benedict XVI? And, in particular, that he enact (perhaps as part of a deal with the Society) a solemn reconfirmation in his own name of Veritatis splendor, Familiaris consortio, and Summorum Pontificum?

The Roman Pontiff, suspiciously, has already declined to to give the very simple answers requested of him to the effect that Veritatis splendor and Familiaris consortio still, as it were, apply. And on November 20, I expressed a fear that a regularisation of the SSPX might be accompanied by a cancellation, or evisceration, of Summorum Pontificum. Indeed, on 21 September 2016 Sandro Magister had reported somebody called Andrew Grillo (Alcuin Reid's sparring partner??) as opining that the next Synod would discuss "the collegial exercise of the episcopate and the restitution to the bishop of full authority over diocesan liturgy". It was pretty obvious to me what the nasty little phrase I italicise was code for, as I wrote a few days later on my blog. In the event, we were reprieved; a different topic was to be selected for the next Synod (Youff, I think), possibly because Bergoglio is decent enough still to have some reticence about too overt a public humiliation of Joseph Ratzinger while he is still alive. But Grillo's expectations are unlikely to have been entertained by him alone.

There has always been a practical certainty that a certain sort of bishop, for whom 'subsidiarity' means I Must Be Free To Ban Everything That Isn't To My Personal Taste, would not easily abandon his hopes of (at least) limiting and controlling worship according to the Old Rite. In one of the Ordinariates (not the British one!) a local bishop put pressure some years ago on the Ordinary to prevent the use of the Extraordinary Form within that Ordinariate. Readers will not need to be reminded of the savage humiliations inflicted, and by a Roman Dicastery, upon the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate; humiliations which are still, as far as I know, in place. There was an American bishop who required clergy to pass a test in Latin to prove that they were idonei to celebrate the Old Mass ... typical piece of Liberal nastiness, isn't it ... you arrange for your clergy, contra canonem, to be ordained without having been taught Latin, then you jeer and sneer at them for not knowing it. At a jollier level, English clergy may remember how Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor acquired, for a year or two, the nickname of "The Envisager" because he attempted to circumscribe Summorum Pontificum by issuing a whole lot of comically panic-ridden rubbish making use of the phrase "It is envisaged that ..." [NB good example of Management-talk using the impersonal passive construction].

Bigotry still abounds.

Archbishop Lefebvre's Society always insisted that they were not begging to be allowed to exist as a tolerated ghetto. They insisted that they would only do a deal if every Latin Rite priest were allowed, without needing special faculties or permissions, to offer the authentic Roman Rite. Accordingly, the entire point of Summorum Pontificum was to call their bluff by giving precisely what they had demanded, and returning the Usus Antiquior to the whole Latin Church. This represented an authoritative removal of the old 'Indult' culture, in which it was only allowed within personal parishes served by organisations such as FSSP and ICKSP, or where it was permitted by an indulgent Diocesan.

Were some deal to be put before the SSPX, accompanied by suspicions that there might be a diminution in the right of every Latin Rite priest to offer the Old Mass, I very much hope that His Excellency Bishop Fellay would refuse it. Or would indicate that, in such a possible future eventuality, he would unilaterally suspend certain of the articles in his agreement with the Vatican. A firm hand on the tiller would be a very great service to the entire Latin Church.

I write this as someone who have, for years, said the prayer Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti in all my Masses with an intention for the canonical regularisation of the SSPX. Regularisation would afford great benefits both to the entire Latin Church, and to the Society; not least by providing a refuge of incardination for clergy being intimidated elsewhere (any provision excluding the Society from exercising the right to incardinate would be ... very dodgy .... very fishy ..... ). I hope the terms agreed would include a provision for the Agenda of each Episcopal Conference to be sent in good time to the Superior of the Society, so that he or one of the other bishops could attend a meeting and explain why some particular proposal would have a divisive effect. After all, the whole point of enhancing the authority of Episcopal Conferences is to encourage divisiveness. Isn't it?

Capitulation is not the way ahead.

18 December 2016

ABSTINENCE DURING OCTAVES

Readers who daily check out Fr Zed's blog will have read his piece on Abstinence on the Friday after Christmas. He explains it all with his usual lucidity. BUT a different rule applies within the territories of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Here is a piece I have printed previously. Read on!

ABSTINENCE IN THE EASTER OCTAVE
It was Pius XII who levelled out the Octaves by making all the days Doubles of the First Class, or, as some of you might nowadays say, Solemnities. Such days, canonically, do not admit Abstinence. So one is not bound to Abstinence on the Friday after Easter.

ABSTINENCE IN THE PENTECOST OCTAVE
What about Abstinence on Pentecost Friday? I repeat below a ruling by the CBCEW to the effect that Abstinence is "contrary to the mentality of an octave". But the Friday in the Pentecost Octave survives in the EF but not in the OF! Here, surely, we have a juridical gap.

My view is that, in communities or families in which the dominant "Form" is the EF, the Friday is, according to the legislation in the 1962 books, and the statement of the English and Welsh bishops, a day which excludes Abstinence. (There is, of course, a bit of an oddity in this, in as far as this Friday is an Ember Day on which historically Catholics fasted. But that was a long time ago.)
                                             
ABSTINENCE IN THE CHRISTMAS OCTAVE                              
On 16 October 2014, the Catholic Herald announced that a spokesperson of the CBCEW had stated that Boxing Day, which in 2014 was a Friday, is not a day of Abstinence. "To consider St Stephen's Day or Boxing Day as a day of abstinence would not be compatible with the festive and celebratory nature of the Christmas Octave ... An octave is an ongoing celebration of the two highest ranking solemnities of the Liturgical Year ... it is contrary to the mentality of what an octave is to consider one of its days as penitential ... Octaves are weeks of joy, not abstinence, even though the Easter Octave ranks unambiguously higher than that of Christmas."

There is no doubt that local hierarchies do have the canonical right to make rules about Abstinence (Canon 1253 Episcoporum conferentia potest pressius determinare observantiam ... ieiunii et abstinentiae ...).


Interestingly, the statement makes clear that the ruling applies not just to a Boxing Day which falls on a Friday, but, every yearto whichever day in the Octave of Christmas is a Friday*.

When I first published a version of this, some people got worried about whether the CBCEW spokesman was misleading them. Two basic rules of Traditional Catholic Moral Theology: (1) Doubtful laws do not bind. In other words, if there is some doubt whether a law applies to me ... it doesn't. If the Bishops say it doesn't apply to me, then their statement creates at least a doubt as to whether it applies to me
(2) We are NOT obliged to be Rigorists, Tutiorists, or Probabiliorists. The Church condemned the Jansenists. If there is a genuine doubt between two possibilities, one is entitled to exercise one's free choice.

That is what the pre-Conciliar books on Moral Theology say.

Not that there is any doubt in this matter. YOU NEED NOT ABSTAIN FROM MEAT ON THE FRIDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, IF YOU LIVE IN ENGLAND OR WALES.
___________________________________________________________________________
*  Where a National or Diocesan or Ordinariate or Parochial Patron is observed as a Solemnity and falls on a Friday, that Friday is not a day of Abstinence.


17 December 2016

An appeal to Ecclesia Dei on behalf of our Lady of Fatima

Pope Francis has said that he does not agree with "The Reform of the Reform". Some of my correspondents find this odd ... after all, those who engineered the imposition of the Novus Ordo back in the 1960s did not seem terribly devoted to a principle of Liturgical Immutability. But the Holy Father's words do raise the question: are we supposed to say Good Bye to the whole Ratzinger policy whereby the OF and EF would converge so that, in a generation or three, they would together constitute just one Form?

My own view is we should not abandon the idea of Enriching each Form from the other one. And I think Ecclesia Dei should take the lead, in this coming Fatima Year.

The EF ought to be brought up to date, not least as far as concerns its Calendar; and Benedict XVI explicitly envisaged this. (In the old days, Rome did this frequently by adding things to aliquibus locis, from which they sometimes subsequently slipped across into the Calendare Universale.) Sadly, the treatment which Traditionalists experienced for decades, during the period before Benedict XVI made it clear that the Old Mass never had lawfully been abrogated, has made them ... us ... fearful of any tinkerings. But in fact a Calendar which has not been added to in fifty years is itself something unknown in Tradition. So ... a consensual way of putting this process into effect, delicately, sensitively, gently, would be to start with May 13. Would anybody, especially any devoted client of our blessed Lady, violently object to May 13 being made the EF festival of our Lady of Fatima, with an appropriate Mass and Office being authorised? This would necessitate the removal of S Robert Bellarmine (possibly to his OF date of September 17).

Surely, it is within the competence of Ecclesia Dei to do this? Having perhaps sought the opinion and good will first of SSPX, FSSP, the Ordinariates, ICKSP, and other major interests?
 

16 December 2016

Seminary training (2)

Continues ...
 (2) General Norms 1 and 4 clearly subordinate the Diocesan Bishop, in this matter of training ordinandi, to the Episcopal Conference. There have been other evidences of this most deplorable tendency in recent legislation. I deplore it on the doctrinal grounds that the Lord has set his Church up as Universal and Particular ... and the Particular Church is not a National Episcopal Conference but the Church in communion with its bishop. This desired subordination of Bishop to Conference represents an attack upon the status of both the Universal Church and the Particular Church. And I object to it on the practical grounds that it, unhappily, it is linked to current attempts within the Church, by (what Blessed John Henry Newman so neatly called) "an arrogant and insolent faction", to gain control and to exercise a dictatorial power which is unmindful of Tradition, doing this by means of powerful conferences and bully boy bureaucracies. Long live Apostolos suos. Long live Gerhard Mueller.

(3) Para 4 cheerfully informs us (without explanation) that presbyters are ordained "by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit". Such epicletic enthusiasms do not conform to the spirit and genius (or the texts) of the Roman Church and her liturgy, in which the Episcopate is typologically aggregated to the Aaronic High Priest; the Presbyters to the Temple Priests; and the Deacons to the Levites. This was the clear teaching of the Roman Church from I Clement down to the aftermath of Vatican II, when Dom Botte got his hands on the Pontifical.

(4) Paragraph 166, on the teaching of Scripture, fails to mention the importance of teaching the Typological way of understanding the Scriptures. It seems to think that the Old Testament is studied, not because it is central to our Religion (which it is), but mainly in order to enable Catholics to be chummy with present-day post-Biblical Jamnian Synagogue-centred Judaism ... a radically different religion from the Altar-centred cult of the Old Testament of which we are the continuators. I doubt if one would catch those who train rabbis explaining that the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings should be studied so that their students will understand Christians better! Of course not! The reason for that, G*d bless them, is that they have not lost their nerve, their self-confidence.

(5) In Paragraph 183, it does not seem to occur to those who drafted it to think that knowledge of Latin might have anything to do with Liturgy. Sacrosanctum Concilium is now remembered only as an archaic incantation, mumbo jumbo to be uttered in appropriate circumstances, not for what its actual text actually said ... Heaven forbid! That way would lie Rigidity!

What the Latin Church needs is a closer and more faithful conformity to the totality of her traditions, not only to documents dated later than 1961, or, even worse, after 2012. If the elements I have cited from this new Vatican document are anything to go by, the gulf between the Traditum and the everyday life of the modern Church is still being prised ever wider, and the wells of community Memory are still being rendered ever more polluted.

15 December 2016

Clericalism? Are the Traddies guilty?

The medieval historian John Bossy used to point out how dominant the laity were in the Church life of the High Middle Ages. Parishes were corporately structured, and dominated by powerful lay Guilds led by pairs of Wardens; for their religious needs they hired and paid clergy, just as, doubtless, for their footwear they employed and remunerated cobblers. Sometimes you can still see the guildswomen or guildsmen pictorially immortalised at the bottoms of the windows they put into their Parish Churches, as at S Neots in Cornwall. There were sacramental things that only the clergy, of course, could do; but it was not the clergy who called the tune. ('Clericalism', Dix loved to suggest, is a post-Reformation Presbyterian and Calvinist phenomenon.)

I hope no-one will be offended if I point out that things are rather like the High Middle Ages in Traddiland. In my experience, the Traditionalist enterprise is forcefully energised and led by well-qualified and determined lay men and women, often if not usually young. For their liturgical needs, they call upon clergy whom they know to be idonei. They are very polite and courteous and grateful and generous; but it always seems clear to me who is in charge. To avoid all misunderstanding, I must make clear that I think this de facto system works extremely well and I am very happy indeed when I am allowed to be part of it. I am not being snide ... quite the opposite ... and if anybody suggests I am 'complaining' I shall strangle them with a printed copy of the Novus Ordo.

It is an amusing paradox that the disorders in the post-Conciliar Church should have led to such a (please forgive my use of this word) empowerment of the traddy Laity. By empowerment I do not refer to anything like the activities of the infantilised laity of the 'Mainstream Church'. You all know the sort of "lay involvement" that happens there ... just before Holy Communion, the celebrant breaks into the sugary mood-music to call out "We're short of a Eucharistic Minister ... can somebody else please come up?" And there is some gruesome little committee which meets weekly with the pp to "arrange the liturgy". No; I am talking about laity empowered in the sense of possessing adult competence and grown-up self-confidence.

I think this is one of the many admirable fruits of the movement towards Catholic authenticity which so blessed the last part of the pontificate of Papa Wojtila, and then the Ratzinger Years. Indeed, it was encouraged by (for example) the provisions in Summorum Pontificum establishing the rights of lay coetus with its unparalleled (and admirable) emphasis on subsidiarity. It is what makes the Traddy movement so strong and resilient ... and so well armoured against unsympathetic prelates. No paseran!

Catholic Traditionalist laity, above all, do not seem to be nearly as scared of bishops as so many Catholic clergy are, the poor trembly things.

Failure to tremble at the knees at the very thought of "The Bishop" or "The Archbishop" or "The Cardinal" is, of course, a healthy feature also of the Anglican Patrimony and so it flourishes also in the Ordinariates. It needs to spread. Down with Clericalism! As the Holy Father would (and probably does) say, Down with Rigid Narcissistic Pelagian Prelaticism!

14 December 2016

Seminary training (1)

I have had a quick look through the new Vatican document. I may have missed things; or I may be offering unbalanced accounts. Those who have read the text carefully are invited (with references to specific paragraphs) to correct me.

Three points.
(1) it seems to me that very little of this document goes back behind and beyond the Second Vatican Council. Thus the document Veterum Sapientia of Pope S John XXIII has left few marks. For example; its very sensible and moderate requirement that Seminary Professors be sacked if they are not fluent in Latin does not appear in the recent document (unless it's in a footnote?).

But ... the good news ... Para 183 says "As well as Biblical Hebrew and Greek, seminarians should be introduced to the the study of Latin from the start of the course of formation." But  ... I have some dubia (which I will not submit to the Sovereign Pontiff himself):
(a) What does "introduced to ... from" mean? Does it imply the same practical end result as the canonical term calleant?
(b) How does the phrase "As well as Biblical Hebrew and Greek" fit syntactically into the sentence as a whole? Does it just mean "As well as the Hebrew and Greek we've mentioned in Para 166 ..."
(c) Para 166 says that seminarians should be "given the opportunity to learn some elements of Biblical Hebrew and Greek". I feel uneasy about the three words opportunity and some and elements.

Various additions are made to syllabuses, including Ecology. I spent most of my working life in Education, where I learned to have a deep and respectful admiration for the genius of those who make or advocate  additions to syllabuses. Where my admiration sometimes fell short was when it came to the question of how space was to be found for such additions without increasing the lengths of days and of years (although there has been a recent media story to the effect than in a few hundred million years the day will indeed have twenty five hours).

To be continued.

13 December 2016

"Madmen and sycophants in the Vatican": A FOOTNOTE

I wrote yesterday in criticism of the hypersuperueberpapalist nutters who, in their respective generations, have seemed to wish to assimilate the Roman Pontiff to one of the Persons of the Glorious and Undivided Trinity. Today, I wish very briefly to point out that this tendency, as well as being arguably blasphemous and idolatrous or at least heretical, is contrary to the Tradition of the Universal Church, and to that of the great and glorious Roman Church herself.

At Chalcedon, the Fathers greeted the Tome of S Leo, not with cries of "Christ himself has spoken" or "This is the utterance of the Holy Spirit", but (after carefully examining its text) Peter has spoken through Leo. This is profoundly in accordance with an Irenaean ecclesiology, whereby orthodoxy is witnessed by the identity of the teaching handed down from generation to generation in the particular churches, more especially in those of Apostolic foundation, and most normatively in the Roman Church. And this, of course, is why S Peter ... and very commonly S Paul ... are central to any account we give of the Ministry of the Roman Church within the Oikoumene. They are fontal to that Church's Tradition.

But Olivier Clement of the Institute of S Sergius in Paris has pointed out that Martyrdom adds a further element: "As martyrs - seized, that is to say, by the Resurrection - they are for ever present in Rome". Rome is the place "where the apostles (Peter and Paul) preside daily and where their blood renders constant testimony to the glory of God". And so the tropaia ton Apostolon, the presence of the enshrined bodies of Ss Peter and Paul, guarantee for Theodoret of Cyrrhus that "Rome is the metropolis of Religion".

When, in more recent times, Roman Pontiffs have defined dogma ex cathedra, they have prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before doing so; but they have not boldly claimed to be mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit or to speak upon His inspiration. Even today, when a Pope canonises, he does so auctoritate Domini nostri Iesu Christi, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli ac Nostra; when at Easter the Indulgence is proclaimed, it is the authority of the Apostles Peter and Paul that is mentioned.

Does this matter? After all, a Pope could proclaim nonsense and try to cloak it with talk about being Peter's Successor. Wouldn't that be as bad as all Bergoglio's talk about the Holy Spirit?

I think it does matter, and does make a great deal of difference. Faithfulness to the Didache Petrou, to the freedom guaranteed by the Petrine Ministry, keeps Peter's Successor, and us, safe in the historical and objective realities of Scripture and Tradition, and (let's dare to be down to earth about this) the unavoidable Textuality of each. On the other hand, claims to the inspiration of "the Holy Spirit", unverifiable by objective constraints and controls, can lure us into the servitude of a religion manufactured by man, a cult of Let's Make It Up For Ourselves. This cult is ultimately fashioned upon the model of the old religion of the Gnostics, who created their own fake alternatives to the Tradition received from the Apostles because they felt they knew with such certainty that the Church's Tradition was wrong.

To employ the terminology currently being encouraged by the Enemy himself, it is better to be 'Rigid' in the Faith once for all delivered, than to be led up the infinitely flexible garden path.

Believe me, we do not need some new and horrible dogma that the voice of Bergoglio is the voice of the Holy Spirit. For two millennia, Roman Pontiffs, in harmony with Churches of the East and of the West, have been content with the notion that Ss Peter and Paul are sub Christo the basis of their authority. And the First Vatican Council put this beyond denial when it infallibly defined that the Holy Spirit does not inspire the Pope to teach new doctrine; the claim made by the church's authentic Magisterium is that He helps the Successors of S Peter to guard the Apostolic Tradition, the Depositum Fidei.

What Roman Pontiffs, in communion with the whole Body of Christ, have through so many centuries taught, I know or I can ascertain. Who, or what, Bergoglio's "God of surprises", the "Spirit" his sycophants so enthusiastically endorse, is, I fearfully confess that I do not know.

12 December 2016

Madmen and sycophants in the Vatican: nothing new under the sun.

Everybody knows that Blessed John Henry Newman wrote critically about the "aggressive insolent faction" which attempted, unsuccessfully, to foist doctrinal aburdities upon the Church at the First Vatican Council. Let's zoom the camera in on that fascinating period.

In the feverish Roman atmosphere of 1870, as the hypersuperueberpapalists at the Council ran around propagating extreme and barmy notions of the papal office, this little bit of nonsense did the rounds: "The three incarnations of the Son of God are: in the womb of our Lady; in the Eucharist; and in the Pope". We appear now in 2016 to have moved on from that, because instead we have Pintos and Farrells and other hypers telling us that whatever Bergoglio utters is the utterance of the Holy Spirit. What has stayed the same is that the hypers in each age appear to have the same disordered passion to see the Roman Pontiff as some sort of incarnation of one of the Persons of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity. Seems to me close to blasphemy and idolatry. Did I say 'close'?

Feverish indeed it was, that time of Vatican I, just like our own age. In their enthusiam to push their program through megafast, the hypers had a brilliant thought: "Definition by Acclamation" (hypers not unusually have an eye for the Short-Cut). Four brave Fathers opposed this, and announced that if it happened, they would walk out of the Council and tell the world why. They were the admirably principled Archbishop Kenrick and his two fellow Americans, Archbishop Purcell and Bishop Fitzgerald of Little Rock; and an Irishman, David Moriarty. I think Four is a good number.

More recent visitors to this blog may be unfamiliar with that last name. Dr Moriarty was Bishop of Kerry (the ancient see once known as Ardfert and Aghadoe); and he was a very close friend and correspondent of Blessed John Henry Newman, our Patron in the Ordinariate (Kenrick, also, was influenced by Newman's thought). If we ever have a posthumous category of goodies labelled "Historical Honorary Chums of the Ordinariate", I shall nominate David Moriarty, Scourge of the hypers.

Long live the 'Kingdom of the West'! Long live the Ordinariate! Down with aggressive insolent factions!

10 December 2016

Response to query

Fr Aidan Nichols OP wrote Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony: the Personal Ordinariate of our lady of Walsingham, Gracewing, 96pp, pbk, £7.99. Before the Ordinariates were erected, the same author wrote The Panther and the Hind, a more historical and theological exploration of the ground.

Is Fr Z important?

I would not wish to imply that Fr Z is ever anything other than tremendously important! I wish I had half his erudition and energy! But I do wish to suggest to you that his post yesterday was very, very important indeed. ... I wish the Thesaurus offered more synonyms for "important" ...

Father gave links to a highly important paper by Professors John Finnis and Germain Grisez. Some readers might be unaware of what enormously significant scholars these are. For decades, they have been expounding the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, and doing so in complete fidelity to the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition that comes to us from the Apostles. But doing so with a profundity and a freshness of touch which constitutes a valid and illuminating "development" of that Tradition. Finnis, of this University, is a jurist and a philosopher of Law with an international standing (an important constitutional case which has this week been argued before a full eleven judge bench of our Supreme Court involved discussion of a paper which he he had written). I mean no disrespect to the Four Courageous Cardinals when I say that the entry by Finnis and Grisez into the Amoris laetitia controversy is probably the most disabling intellectual blow yet delivered to the shadowy and heterodox circle which surrounds our Holy Father.

Fr Z also provided a link to a sermon preached by Papa Bergoglio in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Coming as it does so soon after publication of the Sovereign Pontiff's words about shit-eating, this puerile and unbalanced attack upon those the pope appears to enjoy hating seems to me ... I feel compelled by Canon 212 paragraph 3 and the Holy Father's own often-expressed desire for Parrhesia to say this ... to raise disturbing questions about Pope Francis' mind.

I shall not enable any comments upon that last paragraph.   And, by the way, I have recently declined to enable a number of comments because of the violence of their language or their espousal of heresies such as Sedevacantism. And, if you desire me to get in touch with you personally and privately, you need to send me your email address.

9 December 2016

Blue vestments

If Spain is entitled to blue vestments on December 8 because of its role in promoting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, I would have thought that a fortiori England would be even more entitled.

The use of blue among Anglicans for Advent is part of the old (Percy 'dishonest plagiariser' Dearmer) idea that you show you are are a loyal Anglican and not a beastly Romaniser by discovering details in medieval English usage which diverge from modern Roman custom, and then proudly parading them. An example of such Dearmerism, so I have been told, survives at Exeter Cathedral, where they use blue in Advent. If true, this is all the more daft because, whatever they did elsewhere in England, at Exeter Bishop Grandisson's Ordinale (14th century) clearly required violet (the dear Burgundian old boy very naturally preferred to operate iuxta morem curie Romane). Incidentally, in case any of you were wondering, its Latinity does carefully distinguish between violet and blue.

It allows, however, although optionally (non inconvenienter indui possent), the use of blue on double feasts in Advent and Lent. Since the Conception was a festum duplex, we have here "English" precedent for using blue on December 8.

Rumour has it that the use of light blue for feasts of the Theotokos is common in the Russian and other 'Slavic' Churches. Is this by Western influence? I find it a little unexpected in as far as in Byzantine iconography our Lady is normatively clad in red.

8 December 2016

Ta Niketeria: GAUDE MARIA VIRGO ...

... cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo! The Theotokos is Joy embodied, because she has trodden down beneath her virgin foot every heresy whatsoever and wheresoever. Her Immaculate Heart which enables her to behold the Father with unclouded vision (Matthew 5:8) will prevail, because (and only because) her Divine Son has told us to be of good courage for he has overcome the kosmos (John 16:33)As she once put down the Arians, so today her immaculate purity puts down the errors of those who downplay sexual promiscuity and puff up a great dark fog around the distinction between the Holy Estate of Matrimony and what they call, proudly flaunting the sophistication of their punctuation, "'irregular' situations". Yes; there most certainly has always, since the Fall, been sexual sin. But in not many ages has it merited such sympathetic almost-approval by some in such lofty places.

Today, God willing, there will be published another contribution to the debate within the Church, written by a tiny group who wish her well. Please read it and, of your charity, pray for them, and for all the others who may read it. But above all, put away fear. Let Mary make a man of you.

Our Byzantine brethren hail the great Mother of God with the title Hupermakhos strategos; our Great Fieldmarshall; the one who Transcends the Battle. It is to you, Unbrided Bride, that we ascribe the Victory Songs!

7 December 2016

Dom Prosper Gueranger and my last fifty seven years

Six years ago, a kind friend passed on to me a full set of the volumes of the English version of Dom Gueranger's wonderful  L'Annee Liturgique; a series which I had first met years ago as an Anglican when I was preaching a Priests' Retreat in the Devon house of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary at Posbury St Francis. The sitting room set aside for my use had, around its walls, most of the library - including Gueranger - of Prebendary John Hooper, the charismatic priest who decades before had fostered my own vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. He was part of that admirable phenomenon (its survivors are now mostly in the Ordinariate): the Exeter Mafia, Anglican Catholic clergy who spent most of their priesthood in that diocese. He was a drinking companion of Bishop Robert Mortimer, the scholar-bishop and moral theologian (They haven't had many of those in the C of E - perhaps that is the root of some of their current tragedies). Fr John had been the Posbury community's Warden; and, indeed, he was buried under the trees in their quiet and still graveyard. But I had come under his influence much earlier when he was Vicar of S Mary Mags, in this city, then its great Anglican Catholic centre. I first saw him on the feast of our blessed Lady's Immaculate Conception in 1959, when I was in Oxford as a hopeful schoolboy sitting the Scholarship examinations. Purely by chance, if there is, in God's providence, any such thing, I happened to wander into Mags that evening when the High Mass - according to what we now call the Extraordinary Form and in the language of the English Missal - was being celebrated. What an exquisite ... quite apart from everything else ... aesthetic experience! How marvellous that we now have that selfsame liturgy available to us in the Ordinariate!


Opening Gueranger at random, I hit upon these words about the beginning of the (EF) Mass. "But see, Christians! the Sacrifice begins! The Priest is at the foot of the Altar; God is attentive, the Angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the Priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the Cross with him."

Plummy, you think? I suppose so. "God is attentive": goodness gracious, that's a bit much isn't it? But isn't it the whole wonder of this most Adorable Sacrifice? - as Newman put it: "It is not a mere form of words - it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal."

Dare we? Audeamus dicere.

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.
In the Ordinariate Ordo Missae authorised by the Holy See, there is a very interesting Prayer taken from the Book of Common Prayer: called the 'Prayer of Humble Access' (We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.). It begins with a paraphrase of the 'Ambrosian Prayer' given in your S Pius V Missals for use by the celebrant before Mass: Ad mensam dulcissimi convivii tui, pie Domine Iesu Christe, ego peccator de propriis meis meritis nihil praesumens, sed de tua confidens misericordia et bonitate, accedere vereor et contremisco.

Just before its end, the Anglican Prayer reads as follows: Grant us therefore gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may ever more dwell in him, and he in us.

This association of the Lord's Body with the needs of our bodies, and of his Blood with the needs of our souls, is a medieval idea going back to an unknown writer whose works were mixed up with those of S Ambrose, so that he is for convenience known as Ambrosiaster. S Thomas Aquinas, who in the Summa (III, lxxiv, 1) teaches this distinction (as had that enthusiastic Carolingian upholder of the Real Presence, S Paschasius Radbertus), quotes it as from S Ambrose; and I think it is clearly what the Angelic Doctor had in mind when he wrote the third stanza of his Verbum supernum prodiens; I give a literal translation: To whom [i.e.the disciples] He gave flesh and blood under twofold appearance that He might feed the whole Man of double substance. That is to say, He gave himself in the two species so that He might feed the entirety of Man who is composed, doubly, of both body and soul.

In his first (1548) liturgical experiment in the Eucharistic Liturgy, Cranmer carried this Thomistic distinction even into the formulae for Communion: The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ .... preserve thy body ... and The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ ... preserve thy soul .... After a year he gave this distinction up.

Successive generations of Anglican liturgists have been nervous about the conclusion of the Prayer of Humble Access with its Thomist, non-Biblical distinction between the effect of the Body upon our bodies and of the Blood upon our souls; Dix cattily remarked "there is no particular reason why people should be made to pray medieval speculations in a Reformed church"*. The Puritans asked for its removal in the abortive negotiations which followed 1660; it has been eliminated from many modern Anglican rites including the American Prayer Book upon which the old (Anglican Use) Book of Divine Worship was based. So its happy re-appearance in the Ordinariate Ordo Missae is a significant bit of Magisterium. Delightfully distinctive! To paraphrase the catch-phrase of GloriaTV, The more distinctive the better!

Lex orandi lex credendi. Yes? The Ordinariates even have distinctive doctrine!

____________________________________________________________________________

*One of his favourite themes - it never ceased to amuse him - was that sixteenth century Protestant liturgical compositions, far from being (as their authors had fondly supposed) 'Biblical' or 'Primitive', were in fact Late Medieval in both thought and expression. Indeed, the whole Prayer of Humble Access exemplifies a very Dixian point: it takes inspiration from a medieval private priest's prayer and makes it part of the public Liturgy. The great classical Western liturgical texts would be very unlikely to have the priest, saying publicly and 'in the name of the people,' a prayer with phrases like "We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy".


28 November 2016

December goodies

THURSDAY DECEMBER 1 is the festival of S Edmund Campion and his companions the Holy and Blessed Martyrs of Oxford University; hundreds of scholars and students of this University were killed under the Tudors for keeping alive the thousand-year-old Faith and worship of the English Church. Many of them had to flee to abroad where they completed their training for the priesthood before returning to their native land ... and to martyrdom. Just as, in an earlier century, a secession of docti from Oxford had resulted in the Daughter University in the Fens, so this Elizabethan secession led to a Nova Oxonia at Douay in the Low Countries. Whence per aliquot vicissitudines comes Allen Hall, now nestling under S Thomas More's Mulberry tree on the site of his Chelsea house. Long live the conies.

MONDAY DECEMBER 5 is the date on pre-Conciliar local calendars for S Birinus of Dorchester, a few miles down the Thames from Oxford. He came from Rome around 635; converted and baptised the King of Wessex and set up his bishopric among the Roman remains in Dorchester at a time when there were no bishops either in Winchester or Lincoln. In more recent decades, when the Diocese of Oxford was in Anglo-Catholic hands, and the see of Dorchester had been revived as merely a suffragan see of Oxford, the Bishop of Dorchester was allowed, just on S Birinus' day, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester Abbey with the full ceremonial of a diocesan bishop. On one memorable occasion in the 1940s the Pontiff gave his blessing at the end of Mass with such enthusiasm that his ring flew off his gloved hand and could only with difficulty be recovered from behind a radiator! Nowadays there is an immensely sweet little Catholic church by the bridge, where Fr John Osman (who took his own bit of the Patrimony with him across the Tiber some years ago) is superbly restoring both the fabric and the Old Mass, while the old Abbey is in the hands of a priestess. The  former great Anglo-Catholic Missionary College at Dorchester is now hardly even a memory.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 8, the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, was one of the English Church's gifts to the rest of the Western Church. We borrowed it from the East in Saxon days; Norman bishops tried to ban it on the grounds that it wasn't observed in Rome; but we hung on to it and eventually Rome came round to our way of thinking. A foretaste of the valuable contributions of the Anglican Patrimony!

FRIDAY DECEMBER 9 is the day of S John Diego Cuahtlatoatzin, whose name betrays his Aztec origins, and who had a most beautiful vision of our Lady. And so on the following MONDAY we observe our Lady of Guadaloupe, Patron of America. These Novus Ordo commemorations, thematically coherent with the season of Advent, would slide neatly and beautifully onto the EF Calendar! Why are traddies so shy about pestering Ecclesia Dei to enrich the 1962 calendar?

SATURDAY DECEMBER 10, meanwhile, is the memorial of the Holy House. Mary's home at Nazareth is a symbol both of Incarnation and of the sanctity of simple family life. This festival relates primarily to the shrine of the Holy House at Loretto in Italy, where the House is encased in baroque finery; but, of course, there is the restored Anglican Holy House at Walsingham, where the architecture and ambience still speak of the joyfully optimistic Anglo-Catholicism of the 1930s (and its fine aesthetic taste). In the Ordinariate, we have not lost our affection for this shrine; the Mass authorised in our Missal for our Lady of Walsingham is the lovely old Mass authorised for the Holy House at Loretto (by Innocent XII, 1691-1700), which Fr Fynes Clinton adapted for use at Walsingham by simply omitting the phrase in the Collect about a miraculous Translation!! Sadly, the Anglican shrine has given up the use of this Mass. We in the Ordinariate are faithful old bodies ... we don't just dump our Anglo-Catholic Patrimony!

There was a (now lost) Holy House at Glastonbury, where the void reminds one of the void that lies at the heart of Protestantism, Liberalism, Relativism, and Iconoclasm. I have a private suspicion that these English medieval Holy Houses might have had their origins in First Millennium wooden or turf Oratories which were already venerated for their antiquity long before the Norman Conquest.

27 November 2016

Suspense of the Magisterium: a footnote

Professor Tighe draws attention to two articles about the teaching of John of S Thomas (1589-1644), in which that writer treats, with discussions of the great writers of earlier centuries, the question of the Deposition of Popes.

These pieces are to be found on the website of the Dominicans of Avrille, under November last year. In commending them ... in this febrile atmosphere I had better make this clear ... I imply neither that I look for the deposition of this pontiff, nor that I subscribe to the ecclesiological analysis of these Dominicans.

But there are people whose temptation to the absurdities of sedevacantism seems impervious to my own repeated words of reason. Hence my commendation of other explorations of relevant theological resources.