27 May 2015

Communion Procession in a new even Darker Age (4)

Essentially, in this new Dark Age marked by a culture of ostensibly (for we can none of us know the conscience of another) unrepented mortal sin, we need to do whatever can be done to destroy the culture of Almost Inevitable Communion. You may have better ideas than I do about what, practically, can be done. But it seems to me that a basic starting point is the elimination of the Communion Procession. It creates an impression that everybody will receive Communion. It even puts pressure on people to receive communion when they have no desire to do so. In human terms, it is difficult to avoid a fear that it lead to sacrilegious communions. When the person who is directing the Communion gets to the pew in which a person is sitting, it may for some people be embarrassing to be the only person in the row who does not obediently rise and follow directions up to the Altar. We cannot be sure that we are not almost forcing people who may not be in a state of Grace to receive the Sacrament, and doing so, as I explained in an earlier part of this dissertation, in a changed situation in which there are entire categories of persons ('remarried divorcees', 'couples living together', 'Lesbian and Gay and Transexual couples') whose situation objectively contradicts the reception of Communion but who also, in my opinion, most certainly should not be made to feel awkward or odd or conspicuous if they refrain from communion.

And the grim little shuffle up the church in a queue rather like the queue in the bank or supermarket, is just about the last thing that needs to be decked out with some bright new ritual 'significance', yet another ritual straightjacket. "Walking to the Lord together", indeed. What twaddle. But I've read it.

I will conclude with a couple of historical observations, not because they enable me to try to prescribe details of a new praxis but simply because I think we need a wider general perspective on this matter than current praxis gives us. UPDATE: I drafted this before reading the May 1 Chiesa piece advocating, as I do here, an adaptation for our own age of the old Ordo Paenitentium.

In the first millennium, in Ireland, there were innumerable 'monastic' sites. But who were the 'monks'? Burial sites have revealed to the excavator female and infantile inhumations as well as male. It seems that the term monk meant, not a person vowed to celibacy, but someone who was not living adulterously or promiscuously. Perhaps a hermit, but more probably a couple living in the bonds of Marriage. These people were thus, apparently, firmly distinguished from others whose lifestyle was not marked by evidence of chaste living.

And there is evidence that, in the area surrounding the first millennium Irish oratories, there were different physical  levels in which different categories stood to worship. Nearest to the oratory, the monks. Further away, penitents. You get the idea. Everyone in his Order.

We need to move back to a liturgical culture, not (Heaven forbid) of turning people away from the Christian synaxis; not of implying by word or gesture that they should not be here: but of accepting them, welcoming them, as they are and where they are, without a judgement which it is not ours to pass, so that within the Christian community they can grow in love and understanding. As the Irish did more than a thousand years ago, we need to provide for the subchristianised in our congregations a culture in which it is the universally understood thing that a lot of people don't receive communion; that there's nothing odd or unusual about 'not going up'; it is thoroughly natural and normal not to communicate at Mass; nobody will wonder what's 'wrong' with you. (And it's not their business anyway.)

How about this for size: a down-to-earth practical system would be the distribution of Communion from the tabernacle before or after Mass; or, in big well-staffed churches, continuously during Mass in a side-chapel with a tabernacle. And with a presbyter permanently in the Confessional at the same time. Freedom! No regimentation! No grim shuffles up to the Eucharistic Minister! The freedom just to walk around your Father's house as His free children during Mass, feeling completely at home and doing your own business, whatever it is! No need to feel that self-righteous people are staring at you judgementally!

26 May 2015

Responsa ad dubia

Hello Tommy! I reprint below something that I posted on April 24 about this matter of validity which you raise. "Tantum ergo" had raised it.

Hello Tantumergo! And Welcome! Your question, about the "Validity" of Eucharistic Prayer II, is so pastorally important that I think I'd better deal with it instantly.

Unless some priest is such a mad ingenious fool that he decides not to use wheat bread and grape wine, or misses out the Lord's Words at His Last Supper, it is very difficult for him to make a Mass invalid. Even if he were to be a secret atheist! Because of the chaotic situation which arose after Vatican II (but not mandated by the Council) devout laypeople quite often ask your sort of question. If you really want to read all the technical details about what is 'valid' and what is 'invalid' please look back at some earlier posts I gathered together at 4 September 2014; and also read 20 November 2013, 12 May 2014, and 13 March 2015. You see how often people do get worried! I'm sure this will not be the last time I am asked to take up a question like yours.

But my advice to anybody in your position is: Don't worry. Because using EP II certainly does make the Lord's Body and Blood to be present, and truly does offer them in Sacrifice. No ifs, no buts.

Back to Tommy ... the actual words of the form for consecrating a Bishop, introduced in the post-Conciliar Pontifical, had previously been used, for centuries, by Eastern Churches in communion with Rome or whose episcopacy Rome accepted, to consecrate bishops. When this was pointed out to Archbishop Lefebvre, he stopped doubting the efficacy of the rite. As for the Form of Ordaining a priest, the post-Conciliar Pontifical made one very slight change which silly people made a song and dance about. But the change in fact simply changed the wording back to what it had been in the first Christian millennium. If this wording really is inadequate to ordain, then S Gregory the Great, poor chap, went through his life ordaining invalidly. So did all the popes for more than a thousand years. People who claim this seem to me to be funny sorts of "Catholics".

I do get quite cross with these individuals who, because of their own passionate desire for "the Conciliar Church" not to have any true Sacraments, ignore what the Church has taught for centuries about validity.


Before the series of rolling reforms which began under Pius XII, the great Octaves of Easter and Pentecost did not contain undifferentiated days. What I mean is: Monday and Tuesday were more special than the rest of the week. They were Doubles of the First Class, while the remaining days were only semidoubles and could admit commemorations. Students of the Book of Common Prayer will remember that relics of this distinction still survive in the Anglican tradition. Recent Vatican Press ORDOs allow that, where Whitmonday is kept festally, Pentecost propers may be used at Mass and Office. The Ordinariate suggests that throughout the Week, "the Mass propers and red as the liturgical colour may sustain the themes of Pentecost".

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.

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 what about the Friday in the Pentecost Octave, which survives in the EF but not in the OF? Here, surely, we have a juridical gap.

My view is that, in communities 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.

 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 dispense from Abstinence (Canon 1253 Episcoporum conferentia potest pressius determinare observantiam ... ieiunii ...).

Of course, this question of December 26 falling on a Friday had not arisen for a quarter of a century, since the Friday Abstinence was modified in 1985 and only restored by the English and Welsh bishops in 2011.

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; as well as to the Friday within the Octave of Easter, which has Solemnity, First Class status, in modern calendars. As you know, Canon 1251 in any case makes clear that Solemnities falling on a Friday throughout the year are not days of Abstinence*.

UPDATE When I published this  last December, some people got worried about whether the CBCEW spokesman was misleading them. Two basic rules of 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.
(2) We are NOT obliged to be Rigorists. That's what the Jansenists were, and the Church condemned them. If there is a genuine doubt between two possibilities, one is entitled to exercise one's free choice.

Not that there is any doubt in this matter. 
* So, in the Year 2015, the following Fridays are not days of Abstinence: April 10; June 12; December 25; January 1 2016. 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.

25 May 2015

Communion Procession in a new Dark Age (3)

Well, we all know what happened in the twentieth century. Divorce got its toe in the door ... and within decades the door was wide open. Unnatural and disordered sexual practices corrupted Marriage. Fornication gradually ceased to be furtive and, after being 'Free love' in the 1930s, had by the end of the century become the natural assumption of Western societies. Homosexuals ... no; some homosexuals ... ceased to enjoy inhabiting an amusing subculture and became aggressive public ideologues. The mortal sin of missing Mass without good cause ceased to be a matter of guilt. You know all this, and much more.

My analysis, and suggestion, is this. Society has in effect regressed to the superficially christianised state it was in during the 'Dark Ages'. We are, in other words, in a new Dark Age of widespread unrepented mortal sin. In fact, ours is an even darker age, because people do not even accept that they are in a state of sin, and do not repent, not even once a year. Nor, probably, even when they die.

Unhappily, however, we have inherited the ecclesial sacramental culture, to which the reforms of S Pius X have led, in which it appears that a General Communion is the normal custom at every Mass. It is not commonly preceded by Confession; that sacrament has become so uncommon that, at the beginning of the Year of Faith, I heard (yes, I heard this with my own ears) one priest in a mainstream church, say this to his congregation: "I have decided to use the Year of Faith to revive confession. As you all know, in this church we have for long used the Confessional for storing what gets left unsold after a Parish bring and buy sale. It's pretty full, and we need to get rid of all the stuff so as to use the Confessional for confessions again. There are a lot of books ... I invite everyone to come and help themselves to any thing at all they can take away and use; and then we'll have a Work Party to clean it out."

So people who have not been to their duties for years receive Communion when, at family events, they have the rare experience of being at a celebration of Mass. People who have committed sexual sins for which they feel no repentance, which they have no intention to strive to avoid in future, naturally troop up to the Altar and receive Communion. As a product of Anglican culture, I am still horrified by the widespread Catholic custom of receiving communion into the hand and then walking nonchalantly away putting the Host into ones mouth as one walks.

I shall argue, in the final part of this, that we should restructure our ritual practices to take account of this new and darker Age.
To be, DV, concluded.

24 May 2015

Variis linguis loquebantur Apostoli

But among the many tongues the Church speaks nowadays, Latin, the proper language of the Latin Church, apparently is not to feature.

Getting back to the Internet after a short break, I noticed that an American bishop has cheerfully informed the world that not many clergy know Latin nowadays, so that it's hard to find any who can celebrate the Extraordinary Form. He is not the first bishop who has said something similar in public.

I am amazed by the nonchalant way that bishops make this point without any apparent awareness that Canon Law (249) requires the clergy to be proficient in Latin. If a diocesan bishop were rebuking a negligent pastor for ignoring Canon Law, what would be his reaction if the cleric concerned cheerfully and nonchalantly said "Come off it, Bish dear, nobody takes any notice of all that old Canon Law c**p any more nowadays! Crawl out from under your mitre and try to get real!" But apparently there are bishops who feel exactly thus with regard to Canon Law. Is chirpy insouciance any less reprehensible among bishops than it is among presbyters? 

I am moved to repeat an old post of my own on this very subject.

S JOHN XXIII and Latin.
 Roman Pontiffs do not commonly sign their Magisterial documents on the High Altar of S Peter's in the presence of the body of Cardinals. But S John XXIII thus promulgated his Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia, 1962, in which he insisted that the Latin language must remain central to the culture of Western Christianity. What on earth could the good old gentleman have done in order to make his point more emphatically?

That Letter was praised by B Paul VI (Studia Latinitatis, 1964, " ... principem obtinere locum dicenda sane est"), who was anxious that seminarians "magna cum cura et diligentia ad antiquas et humanas litteras informentur"; and S John Paul II (Sapientia Christiana) emphasised the requirement for knowlege of Latin "for the faculties of the Sacred Sciences, so that students can understand and use the sources and documents of the Church". More recently Benedict XVI (Latina lingua, 2012), praised Veterum sapientia as having been issued iure meritoque: it is to be taken seriously both because of its legal force and because of the intrinsic merit of its arguments; and in his Encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis wrote specifically about the need for seminarians to be taught Latin. We have, in other words, a coherent and continuous expectation in the teaching of popes S John XXIII, B Paul VI, S John Paul II, and Benedict XVI that all seminarians should become proficient in Latin, the language of the Church. [So let nobody argue that the provisions of Canon 249 have fallen into desuetude because the legislator has failed within living memory to continue to insist upon them.] And the attitude of the popes to the promotion of Latin studies in even broader contexts than that of the formation of the clergy is demonstrated in the establishment by B Paul VI of a Latin Academy; a foundation re-established and strengthened by Benedict XVI.

This papal teaching by no means relates solely to the language of worship; it desires Latin to remain a living vernacular for the clergy and not least for their formation; and it is explicitly based upon the belief that, by being latinate, a clerisy will have access to a continuity of culture. My post would have to be very long indeed if it quoted fully all the words of all four popes to this effect. Coming as I do from the Anglican Patrimony, I will instead share the witness of C S Lewis's Devil Screwtape, who confessed, "Since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another". And in his Pilgrim's Regress, Lewis suggests that the growing disuse of Classical languages is a Diabolical trick to isolate the educated classes from the wisdom of the Past. Both in secular culture and within the Church, there is a risk that the educated class will be cut off and imprisoned in the narrow confines of a particular culture - victims of its particular Zeitgeist. A literate clerisy is one that reads what other ages wrote, which means that it will at least be able to read Latin; and an obvious sign of such a clerisy, in practical terms, will be that it can with ease read its Divine Office in Latin.

VATICAN II and Latin.
It is in this context that we must see the requirement of Vatican II (Sacrosanctum Concilium 101): "In accordance with the centuries-old tradition (saecularis traditio) of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in reciting the Divine Office". And it is highly significant that it goes on to make any use of the vernacular an (apparently very rare) exception which bishops can grant "only on an individual basis". One might plausibly surmise that this exception may have been envisaged as useful in areas where resources for clerical formation were limited, like the remoter parts of the 1960s Third World. I wonder how the Council Fathers - or a significant proportion of them - might have reacted to the information that in less than a decade the bishops of Western, Old, Europe (whose culture both religious and secular had been based upon Latin for nearly two millennia, the continent of the great universities in which the civilisation of the Greek and Roman worlds had been transmitted) would regard both this conciliar mandate, reinforced by the directions of the Conciliar Decree Optatam totius on seminary training, as an irrelevant dead letter. As early as 1966, B Paul VI was deploring (Sacrificium laudis) the habit of requesting dispensations for a vernacular Office.

Readers of this blog are probably familiar* with the other prescriptions of Vatican II for the retention of Latin, particularly in the Liturgy, and I will not labour the point. I emphasise that I am not basing an argument for the retention of a living Latin culture simply and nakedly upon the words of the Council. The auctoritas for that retention is very much more broadly based, as the Council Fathers themselves emphasised by calling it and invoking it as a saecularis traditio. The conciliar mandate is merely a dutiful affirmation, proper to an Ecumenical Council of the Church, of the continuity and abiding prescriptiveness of the Church's Tradition; the guarantee making explicit that in an age of revolutions the old assumptions are still in place. Without these words of the Council, it might have been plausibly argued by ill-disposed persons that a radical cultural and intellectual shift had invalidated previous assumptions. In view of the plain language of the Council, such a thesis can only be advanced as a deliberate repudiation of the explicit words of an Ecumenical Council ... as well as of the centuries preceding it and of the teaching of subsequent popes. 

CANON LAW and Latin.
But not long ago I met a bright and recently ordained young priest who had been taught "a little Greek but not a word of Latin". So, despite Canon 249 (in the post-Conciliar Code of Canon Law), the clergy have not all learned, and are not now all being taught, Latin as part of their seminary formation?

Well, of course they all haven't so learnt, and are not all being so taught. Everybody knows that. A priest of my acquaintance once wrote to me "When I was a seminarian in the 1980s, the very fact of having done a course in Latin at University was considered tantamount to a declaration in favour of Archbishop Lefebvre. A priest who gave a retreat (a prominent moral theologian of those days) searched our places in choir and denounced those who possessed Latin Breviaries as certainly having no vocation". One can hardly blame the present generation of English bishops for a problem which looks as though it arose more than half a century ago (in any case, blame is not my purpose). Indeed, I have heard that matters may now be a little less bad. But not, I believe, everywhere, and certainly not for all seminarians. Surely Catholic Bishops have some say about the syllabuses taught in seminaries? Surely they have some responsibility for the formation of their own clergy? Are they happy that seminaries are run in a way which pays only very selective regard to the Magisterium of S John XXIII, so recently canonised? And to the Second Vatican Council, which (vide Optatam totius 13) laid emphasis on the role of Latin in seminary education: or is that particular Conciliar document now to be consigned to oblivion? B Paul VI, so recently beatified, as the first in his list of academic priorities for seminarians, wrote "The cultural formation of the young priest must certainly include an adequate knowledge of languages  and especially of Latin (particularly for those of the Latin Rite)." (Summi Dei verbum.) There has long been a tacit assumption among some that the Magisterium of the 'pre-Conciliar popes' is to be quietly forgotten. Pius IX? Pius XII? Who on earth were they? But now one might be forgiven for wondering whether the Magisterium of the Council itself, and the teaching of the 'post-Conciliar popes', are now also (when it suits) being treated with similar contempt. Are these more recent Pontiffs to be elaborately honoured with Beatifications and break-neck-speed Canonisations and facile rhetorical praise, while their actual teaching, emphatically and insistently given, is tossed aside as irrelevant or impractical?

"There just isn't room on the syllabus for any of that". Is there not? Since entering into Full Communion in 2011, I have met significant numbers of clergy who have deplored the fact that, at seminary, they were robbed of what the Catholic Church regards as the first building block of a priestly formation. They have seemed to have in mind quite a number of useless topics which could profitably have been omitted so as to liberate syllabus time.

Cardinal Basil Hume, back in the 1990s, reminded Anglican enquirers that "Catholicism is table d'hote, not a la carte". Surely that gives an ex-Anglican some right to wonder whether this principle also applies as much to those who run or who episcopally supervise seminaries as it does to Anglican enquirers?

A final quotation from S John XXIII. "The teachers ... in universities or seminaries are required to speak Latin (latine loqui tenentur) and to make use of textbooks written in Latin. Those whose ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for them to obey these instructions shall gradually be replaced by teachers who are suited to this task (in eorum locum doctores ad hoc idonei gradatim sufficiantur). Any difficulties that may be advanced by students or professors must be overcome (vincantur necesse est) either by the patient insistence of the bishops or religious superiors, or by the good will of the teachers."

And a final question: how many of those currently teaching in English seminaries are idonei?
*You sometimes find claims made to the effect that "Vatican II mandated more extensive use of vernacular languages in the liturgy". Sacrosanctum concilium para 54 says 'Linguae vernaculae in Missis cum populo celebratis congruus locus tribui possit'. Doesn't sound to me much like a 'mandate'. Not even 'potest'! It goes on to say 'praesertim' and mentions the readings. Then, much more cautiously, it raises the possibility of the vernacular 'even' (etiam) 'in partibus quae ad populum spectant' linking this with a specific requirement that the laity should also be able to sing and say those selfsame parts in Latin. Hardly a 'mandate' for the vernacular! Rather, a nervously tentative partial permission.

23 May 2015

Communion Procession in a new Dark Age? (2)

The thesis I am testing is that the moment when S Pius X started encouraging frequent communion is the moment at which the the mass cultural Catholicism of post-Constantinian Chritianity, in which mass conversions led to a situation in which most people and most societies were not radically 'converted', had been superseded. Some anecdotes from my own unsystematic reading of Irish Church History: a twelfth century Bishop of Ardfert (i.e. Kerry) was reputed to be "chaste". Just think what that implies for the most of the episcopate: they were presumably Caseys, Doyles, and Conrys to a man! I once amused byself by looking at the entries in episcopal registers of the late medieval parochial clergy of Kerry. Time and time again, the record revealed that a cleric was dispensed for illegitimacy. That might mean that most couples were not canonically married and that therefore most children were canonically illegitimate; or, more probably, that these clerics were the sons of priests who naturally planned to inherit their fathers' trade: in either case, it tells us something about society!

But the counter-Reformation implied a clericate different from the medieval priesthood in which a man who could read but had no training could turn up at the Embertide and be ordained (the old system which, like so many of the medieval abuses, survived in the Church of England long after the Catholic Church had moved on). The introduction of seminaries meant a much more professionalised priesthood with an expectation that they would have a more professional attitude to the formation of their laity.

By the time of S Pius X, things were ripe for a new Catholicism in which frequent Confession and frequent Communion could be encouraged. The Dark Ages had finally come to an end. Their ritual marks remained; Communion from the tabernacle rather than within Mass was still common in Oxford Anglo-Catholicism when I was an undergraduate in the 1960s; in both East and West the Body of Christ was not delivered into the hands of the laity; neither was the Chalice delivered into the hands of the laity. Both of these were practices which developed in the 'Dark Ages' out of fear profanation or sacrilege. But, with a more trained and 'sacramentalised' laity, the situation had become ripe for change.

Dv, to be continued.

22 May 2015

"Communion Procession" in a new Dark Age? (1)

In the CTS hand Missal for the Laity, where one might expect a heading "COMMUNION", there is instead the heading "COMMUNION PROCESSION"; "Communion" has, functionally, become adjectival. Syntactically, this rather teutonic agglutinisation of nouns is a phenomenon which has become very common, and is often found in newspaper headings. "Football Manager" "Rape Victim" "Crash Survivor". There is no justification in the Ordo Missae itself for this particular insertion. It seems to me strange that emphasis should thus be taken off the centrality of the act of Holy Communion and the weight made to rest upon the act of processing.

But there is reference to the Communion Procession in the IGMR. In its original 1969 version it read (56 (i) "... cantus ad Communionem, cuius est  ... processionem ad Corpus Christi suscipiendum magis fraternam reddere." In 2001, this became " ... cantus ad Communionem, cuius est ... indolem 'communitariam' processionis ad Eucharistiam suscipiendam magis in lucem ponere." This is undoubtedly a strengthening of the idea. As for the idea itself, I can't see much in Jungmann's Volume II to support it.

The propriety of this development seems to me to arise from the process of frequent communion encouraged by S Pius X, and so accentuated since the middle years of the last century that it became  what we Anglicans used to call a "A General Communion". I want to suggest that the impetus given to this by the Holy Pontiff needs to be seen in a particular historical context.

It was in the nineteenth century that Catholicism in many countries was reformed very radically in its social manifestations. Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, presided over a revolution which eliminated the centuries-old peasant Catholicism of Irish culture (elements of which I strongly suspect go back to the sixth century) and finally imposed the discipline ... I nearly wrote 'military discipline' ... of the Counter-Reformation. In particular, out went the 'patterns', the old Patronal Festivals, which although cultic were occasions of every known kind of debauchery. The old Catholicism, in which one went to confession before Easter so as to be in a state of Grace and 'fit' to receive at Easter the Holy Communion which most people did not receive during the rest of the year, was laudably replaced by a new Catholicism in which the clergy were encouraged to strive to ensure that their people were normally, and not just for a few days each spring, in a state of Grace.

I suspect that a connection could be found between this and the general increase in disapproval of adultery, and other sexual sins, in both Protestant and Catholic contexts. As late as the seventeenth century royal courts, nobody failed to believe that adultery was a mortal sin. But equally, it was a cultural assumption that Kings did commit that mortal sin of adultery and even had mistresses en titre, right down - in France - to the accession of the saintly Louis XVI; and acknowledged and ennobled their bastards. I read somewhere of an uxorious German prince who maintained mistresses he didn't sleep with because princely status required it! In England, that culture lasted until William IV in the 1830s; the eldest of his bastards by Dorothy Bland, of Parknasilla in Co Kerry (where Pam and her sons and sons-in-law played golf in just about the most scenic 12 hole hotel course there must be anywhere) was made Earl of Munster ... but nota bene ... only the eldest son and only an earl. By the end of the same century it had become unthinkable that Albert Edward Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, certainly one of the hundred most unedifying lechers known to history, should acknowledge and ennoble bastards.

Things had changed.

Dv, to continue.

21 May 2015

The Roman Church and Holy Order

Until the post-Conciliar 'reforms', the Roman Church had a very simple doctrine of Holy Order. She taught, by her Liturgy, that in Ordination men become the antitypes of the Jewish sacrificial orders of ministry as we find them in the Old Testament.

We first meet this approach in the Epistle of S Clement to the Church in Corinth (capp 40-44), a text so early that it speaks of the Jerusalem Temple as if still functioning. Its teaching about Christian Eucharistic presidency assimilates it closely (in fact, so closely that one can say indistinguishably) to the Temple High Priesthood. Thus this extremely Roman doctrine of the Ministry appears to go back to the very earliest days of the Roman Church.

It is found fully operative in the Prayer for Episcopal consecration used in the Roman Church until the aftermath of Vatican II. That Prayer asked that whatsoever it was that the vesture of the Aaronic priesthood signified in outward splendour might show forth in the conversation and deeds of the Christian Bishop. God was asked that the consecrandus should be so sanctified with the dew of heavenly unction that he might be filled inside and surrounded outside with faith, purity of love, sincerity of peace. The bias of the Prayer is the moral virtue which should be conspicuous in a bishop. And God has chosen the candidate ad summi sacerdotii ministerium, for the ministry of the High Priestood. I doubt if there is a syllable in this prayer with which the writer of I Clement would have been uncomfortable. It is so concerned to balance types, aenigmata figurarum, and antitypes, certiora experimenta, that it has barely a word which is indebted uniquely to the New Testament. It thus appears to go back essentially to that early period when the New Testament Canon was unfixed and the New Testament was not yet seen as a normative text which ought to colour theology and euchology.

A writer deeply involved in the post-Conciliar alterations, Dom Bernard Botte, analysed accurately the spirit of the old Roman Prayer. And he commented "The literary form of this section did not make up for its poor content. The typology insisted exclusively on the cultic role of the bishop and left aside his apostolic ministry... I didn't see how we could make a coherent whole ... Should we create a new prayer from start to finish?" Instead, Botte recommended to his colleagues the Prayer contained in a text of which "I had just finished a critical edition" - the Prayer for Episcopal Consecration in the Apostolic Tradition of an early Roman writer, Hippolytus. Half a century later, academic opinion seems united in the conclusion that this text is not in fact the Apostolic Tradition and is not by Hippolytus and has nothing to do with Rome. Talk about all our eggs in one basket ... talk about dangers ... talk about big badly broken eggs. The fad for Pseudo-Hippolytus in the 1960s might appropriately be termed the Humpty Dumpty era of Liturgiology.

"The first time I proposed this to my colleagues, they looked at me in disbelief ... they didnt believe it had the slightest chance of being accepted." But Botte had a trick up his sleeve. The pseudo-Hippolytan Prayer which he was sponsoring was widely used throughout what we now call Oriental Christendom but which our grandfathers more prosaically termed the Monophysites and the Nestorians. "The essential ideas of the the Apostolic Tradition can be found everywhere. Reusing the old text in the Roman Rite would affirm a unity of outlook between East and West on the Episcopacy. This was an ecumenical argument. It was decisive."

Two points. Firstly: what a confession! So Father Ted was right in our dear old eponymous television series. You will remember that, faced with an unwelcome visit from a bishop, and fearful that his outrageous retired colleague Father Jack would be an embarrassment, Ted trains the aged clerical drunk to reply to any episcopal query with the answer "Well, that would be an ecumenical question." The strategy worked ... just as it worked for Bernard Botte. In the atmosphere of the 1960s, you could get away with any crime or any deception if you chanted the mantra "Ecumenical".

Secondly: you get an "affirmation of unity of outlook" only if it is true that "Aptrad" is both of ancient Roman origin and is widely used in the East. If, however, the Prayer has no known connections with the Rome, then its adoption there would be ... in fact, was ... and still is ... the imposition of an Oriental formula of dubious origin upon the West.

And the baby that went out with the bathwater was the authentically Roman tradition which we found in I Clement and in the Roman Pontifical; a tradition dismissed by Botte in the phrase "The literary form ... did not make up for its poor content."

This revolution, unmandated by the Council, constitutes one of the major abiding scandals to result from the 'reforms' which followed Vatican II, but were never called for by the Conciliar texts.

20 May 2015

Our Lady in Eastertide

Down in Cornwall, during the Middle Ages, they had religious plays in the ancient Cornish language ... yes, the selfsame language that some enthusiasts are currently trying to revive. In fact, these dramas in Medieval Cornish are the main basis of the 'revived' language ... which I find oddish. Just suppose we spoke an English constructed upon the verses of Chaucer, without paying any attention to the fact that our Geoffrey had both chosen and arranged his words so as to fit his metrical scheme! After all (and I admit that this is an extreme parallel), Homer's Greek can never have been spoken as a vernacular by anyone. Something similar must go for the poetic diction of pretty well every language and age.

However ... I am wandering yet again. Back to the point. In the Resurrexio Domini [sic], the Lord (of course) appears first to his Immaculate Mother. It is a beautifully constructed scene, full of human interest; the Mother of God, for example, needs to be reassured that her Risen Son really has no pains, no permanent ill-effects, from the ordeals he has been through!

Medieval Cornish, like Modern English, was an omnivorous language heavy with vocabulary, quotations, phrases, technicalities, expletives from other languages ... English; Latin borrowings going back to the Roman Occupation; contemporary Latin borrowings; French (another thing which the inventors of 'Modern Cornish' can't stand; rather as Herr Hitler did for the German language, their dictionaries constantly enjoin us not to use loan-words amply attested in the literature, but to stick to pure 'Celtic' roots). And the Lord greets his Mother with the Latin phrase O salve Sancta Parens. This, of course, is the beginning of the Introit for Eastertide Masses of our Lady (and comes ultimately from Sedulius). The O needs to be in the Cornish text because the lines have to have seven syllables.

Now: here comes the puzzle. Throughout the manuscript, there are two scribal hands. Manus prima, is the slightly faded original. Rather darker, manus secunda adds some stage directions, changes some ts to ds, and, at one point, appears to have updated a joke by erasing three lines and writing some different Cornish placenames into the space thus made available ... making it, I suspect, topical to a different audience from that for which the manus prima had originally written out the play.

In the greeting O salve Sancta parens, it looks as if that erasing knife has again been at work underneath the first two words. Over that rasura, O salve is darkly inked in by manus secunda.

I cannot for the life of me guess what has gone on here. What might manus prima originally have written? Why? Might it be as simple as this: manus prima wrote Salve Sancta parens; manus secunda realised that a syllable extra was needed - made a botched job of supplying it - then scraped the area clean so as to make a neat fresh start?

You can look for yourselves at the manuscript without even travelling up to Oxford: search for Bodley 791 and scroll down to folio 61 verso.

19 May 2015

Oxford Terms

Many people will know that Oxford has three terms (Michaelmas; Hilary; Trinity); each of them contains eight weeks of "Full Term", in which undergraduates are expected to be resident. Each week is a Sunday-Saturday week, and is known as First week ... etc.. Increasingly, Colleges expect undergraduates to come back before First Week so as to get geared up and write Collection Papers to prove that they did their Vacation reading; and this week has come to be called Noughth Week (I apologise to mathematicians). Technically, the terms are rather longer than that, but Full Term is what matters for most practical purposes. So the Trinity Term this year began technically on Monday April 20 and ends Monday July 6; but, within that, Full Term is the eight weeks from Sunday April 26 until Saturday June 20.

But, historically, things were much more complicated (and what follows is actually a simplification). The old Latin Statutes knew of two summer terms. There was the Easter Term: Easter Wednesday until the Friday before Pentecost; and the Trinity or "Act" term, the Saturday before Pentecost until the Saturday following the first Tuesday in July. This year, April 8 until May 22; and then May 23 until Saturday 11 July. Hope I've got that right ...

"Act Term"? During the dark days of popish ecclesiastical tyranny, and even through the oppressions of the absolutist early Stuarts, the University Act was a celebration with many ingredients but, particularly, outrageously satirical attacks upon the Mighty in Academe, Church and State: presided over by an individual called Terrae Filius [the Son of the Earth]. But, following the liberties mercifully secured to us by the Glorious Revolution, enhanced in the fulness of time by the Splendid Enlightenment, it became an occasion increasingly dangerous to the Powers that Be (something similar happened in the Convocations of the clergy of Canterbury and York) with the result that it was tamed and made very respectable and now survives as Encaenia [Commencement], the annual Latin Ceremony (Wednesday after Eighth Week) when Honorary Degrees are conferred upon distinguished visitors such as Mrs Jefferts Schori ... No; don't say it. Just don't say it.

18 May 2015


People talk about 'comfort reading' (Decline and Fall, Have his Carcase, and Zuleika Dobson are some of mine) but there can also be Comfort Video-Watching. The other day I watched the full video of blessed Benedict XVI's Mass in Westminster Cathedral. It really is fun unexpectedly spotting Good Eggs on screen. Among the concelebrants, the great Mgr Andrew Wadsworth (Yes!! I hear everyone's cries of Vescovo subito!!! What a lot I owe to him!); and an Oxford friend, now much missed, Yakoub Banglash, nonchalantly poised in front of one of the cameras. And there is fun too in noticing the Bad Eggs ... not that I ever did spot the photogenic features of Kieran Conry.

The Mass was probably very close to being what most of the more moderately modernising Fathers of Vatican II imagined they were signing up to when they voted for Sacrosanctum concilium; Latin dominated, including the Roman Canon; but there were some Propers and Intercessions in English. In the Canon, it is always interesting to listen carefully to those senior concelebrants who have parts of the Great Prayer assigned to them to deliver individually. Cormac Murphy O'Connor, who had the good fortune of being ordained well before the Rupture and thus for more than a decade had experience of saying the Canon daily, was smooth and accurate. So, interestingly, was Cardinal Keith O'Brien (he had a couple of years of it). Archbishop Vincent Nichols (ordained in December 1969), on the other hand, gave the impression of not being quite within his comfort zone.

There was just one slight whiff of dissatisfaction; His Grace the Archbishop of Cardiff did not conceal that Welsh Catholics were rather disappointed that the Sovereign Pontiff's itinerary had not included the Principality. Hardly surprising. I didn't blame His Grace for giving everyone, in retaliation, an extensive experience of the Welsh Language! Served them right! And I had felt that Pope Benedict should have been allowed to go to Walsingham; I recall that his Predecessor had also wished to go there, and was irritated to be prohibited (you may remember that, as a consolation prize, S John Paul II was told that our Lady of Walsingham would be at his main Mass; he couldn't see her when he arrived to celebrate Mass, and gave peremptory instructions that she should at once be moved onto the Altar itself). A recent correspondent, a Catholic priest not of the Ordinariate, wrote to me: "English Catholic Bishops are more likely to be found in Lourdes than in Walsingham; and I think that the fact that the Catholic Shrine and associated plant in Walsingham is so shabby and underfunded in comparison with its Anglican counterpart is a reflection of the way in which Catholics tend to undervalue Walsingham". I'm not too certain about the individual details in that critical verdict, but the essential point is an interesting one. Are some Catholics still uneasy about the Anglican initiative at Walsingham, or irritated by the brilliantly conceived and truly Catholic spirit of Fr Hope Patten's elegant Holy House and Shrine Church, each so very much unlike a barn?

And Oxford. I wonder why he didn't come here? Could it have anything to do with the aggressive secularism of so many in the modern University? Or were the English bishops opposed? When preaching the University Sermon in Latin in the University Church (the sort of thing that still happens once a year in Oxford) soon after the papal visit to England, I lamented at some length on the sadness that so very erudite a Pontiff should not be able to visit this great shrine of all the scientiae, and to see Newman's Altar and Newman's Pulpit (which I was at that moment preaching from). I still think the same. And Benedict XVI would have been the first to understand that Blessed John Henry belongs to  Anglicans as well as to Catholics, and that Oxford is the symbol of that. Cardinal Manning might have agreed too ... you remember his criticism of Newman ... "the old Oxford literary Patristic tone" ... such crimes ...

A couple of attractive ecumenical opportunities went down the drain there!

17 May 2015

"The Dome": Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The Dome was still preoccupied withe the "South India Problem"; a part of the Anglican Communion had united with various Protestant sects in an amalgamation providing that 'non-conformist' ministers would officiate in South India without any sort of Anglican Ordination. The English Convocations, only three years previously, had put in place a system of partial intercommunion which maintained links between the the Church of England and those South Indian ministers whose ordination had been Anglican. Papalist Anglicans, not surprisingly, had vivid opinions about the illogicality of this uneasy compromise.

But other problems were beginning to appear. The March 1958 edition carried this story:

"The Rev. C.A.C. Hann, D.D., Principle of Lichfield Theological College, has stated that he has resigned on account of the betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice by the Convocation of Canterbury in its recent Resolutions on the Pastoral Care of the Divorced ... he says:
'In May last the Lower House of the Canterbury Convocation passed Resolution 2A ... As a result of this, it will be possible, provided certain conditions are fulfilled, for a divorced person who has "re-married" during the lifetime of a former partner to receive the Holy Communion. I protested most strongly against this resolution as denying Catholic Faith and Practice. Then, in September last, it was announced that a Worcestershire incumbent had gone through a form of marriage with a divorced woman whose husband was still alive ... When I read this I came to the conclusion that the Church's attitude towards divorce was the result of the desire to be "comprehensive" and, on the principle of Anglicanism, to unchurch nobody if it was possible to keep him within the Church. To my mind this was an indication that the Church of England is prepared to maintain its characteristic principle and its comprehensiveness even at the cost of sacrificing its professed adherence to Catholic Faith and Practice.
" If I felt - as I did - that the Resolution in fact denies important elements in the Catholic doctrines of Matrimony, of Holy Communion, of Grace, and of the Sin of Adultery, my re-action to to the decision of the authorities of the Church in the case of the Worcestershire incumbent was one of complete and utter disgust. To be perfectly candid, it seems to me that such action could not be taken by a Church in which the Grace of God was allowed free course.
"There is only one way to fight to the death such betrayal of Catholic Faith and Practice, and that is to become exclusively Catholic. ..."

ANIMADVERTITE: (1) Things hit the Church of England about fifty years before they hit the Caholic Church; and
(2) it is important to continue to use technical terms such as "Adultery" and "had gone through a form of marriage". Talking about "remarried divorcees" just sells the pass.