25 May 2016

Scandals: An Essential Resource

Much fine work has been published over the last couple of decades on the Scandal of the Collects. What Scandal? That not one of the three greatest Festivals of the Year was allowed to keep its ancient Roman and Western collect; not one Sunday in the three great seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter was allowed to keep its collect. The vandals who, after the Council, ignored the wise moderation of the Conciliar Decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, judged it self-evident that not a single one of these simple, powerful, elegant prayers, was now fit for purpose.

Only now is it really possible to address the (very similar) Scandal of the Readings. Because only now do we have the essential tool: Index Lectionum A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, by Matthew P Hazell (with a Foreword by Peter Kwasniewski), ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback). It is a fine piece of detailed and meticulous work; anybody who wants to make comments from now on about what the 'reformers' did to the readings will be wasting their time if what they write does not spring out of Hazell's pages. Its layout is simple and pellucid; we go from the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, and every verse which appeared either in the OF or in the EF is carefully listed. So we can see which passages the 'reformers' added in order to provide a ditior mensa Scripturarum ... because, after all, Sacrosanctum Concilium did require this to be done. We can also detect ... what the Council most certainly did not mandate ... which passages modern Catholics are now forbidden to hear read in Church.

Let's be topical. The Church's discipline with regard to the reception of the Sacraments by "remarried" divorcees rests on Mark 10:1-12 and its Synoptic parallels, combined with I Corinthians 11:27. The good news: the OF gives the Marcan passage to be read on Sunday once every three years. This is better than the EF provides. The bad news: on the two occasions when this section of S Paul is to be read in the OF, verse 27 appears to be carefully singled out for omission. In the EF, it is to be heard on Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi. Draw your conclusions!

I will not repeat the good discussion by Dr Kwasniewski, dealing with the tendenz of so many of the omissions. I would simply add that, in my view, doctrinal motives are not the only reasons for omissions. Sometimes it seems to be a matter of the purest, most wanton, vandalism. Take the superb passage Proverbs 31:10-31 ... the Good Wife. The OF lectionary abbreviates this by crude omission ... and, of course, here we have another of the post-Conciliar corruptions which can claim no mandate in Sacrosanctum Concilium: the crazed passion for brevity. (Incidentally, when various parts of the Anglican Communion decided to adopt versions of the OF lectionary, they demonstrated a strong tendency to restore the integrity of readings, even if this might mean that the laity would be detained in Church for two or three minutes longer.)

But this pericope at the end of Proverbs is the antidote to any claim that 'traditional' attitudes to gender roles are "repressive". The Good Wife is a most competent and efficient administrator (-trix?) who runs the entire industrial and 'business' side of the household and is in charge of the purchase of real estate. Her husband appears little more than her trophy appendage who, one feels, is respected among the all other chaps mainly upon the grounds that his wife is so strikingly effective! The immemorial, almost universal, human cultural division whereby the husband is head of the household ad extra while the wife is head ad intra, is beautifully laid out. It deserves better than the OF gives it.

One tiniest, minutest, criticism. Hazell, very logically, confines his information with regard to the EF to the 1962 Missal. This means that the readings of the old pre-Bugnini Easter and Pentecost Vigils are excluded. Even at the risk of a minor inconsistency, I think it might have been helpful to include them.

This is not a book to miss! And Matthew and Lucy Hazell are to be most warmly thanked.

Get it!

24 May 2016


There is an immensely scholarly discussion of Amoris laetitia by the immensely scholarly Dr Anna Silvas, a Romanian Catholic, Classicist, Semiticist, Patristic scholar, on the website of Fr Glen Tattersall's Extraordinary Form parish in Melbourne, newmanparish. Perhaps some able person could kindly supply a link to it. I think I would dissent only from the second sentence of her second paragraph. (There are a few typos.)

I do rather wonder whether the 'Traditionalist' communities have been as clear in their reactions to Amoris laetitia as they should have been. "Tradition" does not simply mean an aesthetic preference for the (not entirely satisfactory) liturgical books of 1962. We need someone to resurrect the the term integriste, and its meaning! Where are the "Ecclesia Dei communities"? And what about those prelates who supply "eye candy" pickies on some traddy liturgical blogs? Are they not Successors of the Apostles and sharers in the Universal munus docendi? Do they have to be so scared? Who's afraid of the ...

Fr Glen is to be congratulated. I don't think he's afraid.

Roskilde Cathedral ...

 ... in the Kingdom of Denmark could occupy a long article. With its combination of brickwork and whitewash, I found it curiously reminiscent of the Anglican Shrine Church at Walsingham ... and of early brick Romanesque churches on the shores of the Med.

Two things that struck me:

(1) The four pillars surrounding the chancel contain within them (behind stone tablets) and at some height the remains of four people concerned with the Cathedral; together with frescoes. These individuals died well before the Cathedral was built, but were moved here from an earlier church. What interested me was that, during one of the most memorable expeditions of my life, to visit the Fathers and Brethren of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer on Papa Stronsay, my kindly hosts took me to see the beautiful rose-coloured Romanesque cathedral at Kirkwall. There, in 1919, were discovered behind loose ashlar stones on the rectangular pier of the choir's South Arcade, the relics of S Magnus. In a similar place are those of S Rognvald. Was it a common practice to reinter important people within the pillars of churches? Or is there something 'Nordic' about it?

(2) The medieval side-chapels at Roskilde preserve much of their medieval painting, revealing that they each had their own complete set of Consecration Crosses. This presumably implies that each was consecrated separately with the full Consecration Rite for a church ... so that they are rather like what I believe some Byzantines call parekklesiai. Yes?

23 May 2016


What a privilege! The Copenhagen Latin Mass Group invited me to visit ... for the third time ... their exquisite city in order to offer the Holy Sacrifice with them. So I sang Masses on the Vigil (in the Bishop's Chapel), on the Feast of Pentecost (in the Sacred Heart; I think it's on the Internet), and on Whitmonday (in the Church of S Andrew, at an Altar over a major relic of S Andrew, installed there by the Bishop).

And with what kindness I was entertained!

With immense generosity, the diocesan, Bishop Kozon, invited me to stay in his house. As an outsider, and so at the risk of putting my foot in it, I have to say, not only that his Lordship practises to a xi the New Testament and Patristic virtue of xenia, but that his relationship with those who worship according to the Extraordinary Form is vere episcopalis. I was shown videos ... maybe they are somewhere on the internet ... of liturgical events in the diocese ... including pontifical Vespers at the Throne, and the first High Mass, EF, of Fr Jan, recently ordained, who gave me a First Blessing and with whom I dined very satisfactorily in a vibrant piazza in that mediterranean warmth which seems, by a happy if Extraordinary dispensation of Providence, to extend to Zealand.

Things do move on. Alexander has grown up into a most efficient Altar Server. Theresa is now a charming and patient young woman, placid beyond her years, who joined in a lengthy expedition to Roskilde Cathedral ... her brother Vincent (recently baptised, EF, by the Bishop) made his own essential contribution by sleeping throughout the entire event ...

 ... but the questions I want to ask about Roskilde Cathedral can await another post.

22 May 2016

Ordination Season

Trinity Sunday, according to the tradition of the Latin Church, used to be the main day for Ordinations in the West: prepared for by the Pentecost Ember Week. Before both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion fiddled with their respective rites, the same words appeared in both the Roman Pontifical and the Prayer Book Ordinal as the Bishop laid hands upon the ordinandi: the Lord's own paschal and pentecostal words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum to his disciples about the Gift of the Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. Fittingly; for the priesthood we are given to share is at the heart of the Paschal Mystery. And the First Reading at Mattins, in both ecclesial bodies, used to be that unforgettable passage from Isaiah about the Divine Glory: Et audivi vocem Domini dicentis: Quem mittam? Et dixi: Ecce ego. Mitte me. "And I said: here am I; send me". Gratias tibi, Deus, gratias tibi, vera et una Trinitas, una et summa Deitas, sancta et una Unitas.

And what a wonderful feast, how full of joy, today's solemnity is. A particular pleasure is that of praying in the Divine Office that great paean of praise, the Quicumque vult. During the period of 'formation' we in the British Ordinariate's presbyterate had to go through, the lowest point for me was when one lecturer informed us that part of that Creed was "heretical". Our Patron Blessed John Henry Newman had described it as "The most simple and sublime, the most devotional formulary, to which Christianity has given birth". It is a shame that people and people, in the Catholic Church, do not know it better; are no longer shaped by its pin-point orthodoxy as well as its beautiful cadences. (A shame, too, that in the OF the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity is no longer heard Sunday by Sunday during the 'green' season.)

48 years ago, on a Trinity Sunday, Harry Carpenter laid his hands on me, on exactly the same spot as a previous Bishop of Oxford did the same thing on a Trinity Sunday to Blessed John Henry Newman ... just a few yards from the bones of Oxford's Saxon Patron S Frideswide and those of Dr Pusey and the tomb of the last Abbot of Oseney, first Bishop of Oxford and the only one to have been in full communion with the See of S Peter.

My warmest good wishes to all brother priests who were ordained on a Trinity Sunday.

21 May 2016

The authority of Apostolic Exhortations

There is a Catch 321 Situation involved in the question of the authority of Apostolic Exhortations. It arises from the fact that no Apostolic Exhortation has any more (or any less) 'authority' than any other Apostolic Exhortation. This 'Catch' can be invoked to embarrass both 'sides'. Thus: -

Trendies can be told "Your enthusiasm for Amoris Laetitia is undercut by the fact that it has no more authority than Familiaris consortio".

Traddies can be told "Your enthusiasm for Familiaris consortio is undercut by the fact that it is cancelled out by Amoris laetitia".

Both of these documents are Apostolic Exhortations.

And Apostolic Exhortations are neither doctrinally constitutive nor canonically legislative.

The principle that public adulterers, even when repackaged as "remarried divorcees", ought not to receive Holy Communion, does not rest upon the authority of Familiaris consortio or Sacramentum caritatis. It is a principle based upon some of the most explicit words that the Incarnate Torah is known to have uttered, combined with a very blunt statement by S Paul, who was even more Apostolic than the authors of Apostolic Exhortations. It is a principle to which the daily praxis of the bimillennial Church, and many of its official documents, bear witness.

Familiaris consortio and Sacramentum caritatis did not constitute, set up, create, the principle concerned. They (very laudably and eloquently) bore witness to it.

In Apostolic Exhortations the Roman Pontiff exhorts the Faithful to abide by what is already the authentic teaching and praxis of the Church.

20 May 2016

Amoris Laetitia and the Magisterium

Cardinal Burke has made himself quite unpopular in some Traddy circles by not denouncing AL ut Leo rugiens from his Maltese housetops. There are fierce people around who feel that, for a top lawyer simply to say that the document has no Magisterial authority, is just not nearly angry enough. Spluttering expletives, apparently, are called for. Raymond Leo Burke, they say, should put a lot more work into his spluttering techniques.

I must declare an interest here. When AL emerged, my own first comment (April 9) was to observe immediately that an Apostolic Exhortation  is "not doctrinally constitutive nor juridically legislative". Burke ... and I! ... are exactly right. That is why we do not splutter.

Some critics have claimed that AL must be magisterial because Bergoglio is on record as saying "I wrote an encyclical ... and an Apostolic Exhortation, I'm constantly making statements, giving homilies. That's magisterium."

If this Pope really does imagine that his Petrine Magisterium extends to Apostolic Exhortations, to 'statements', and even to his endless homilies, then this is quite a serious and worrying misunderstanding on his part of his own office (it reminds me of Fr Eric Mascall's wise observation that a man, even a pope, can misdescribe his own actions).

But however much this apparent claim may impress the hyperultrapapalists who surround the Holy Father but have never read Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, it should be an irrelevance to those of us who know better.

Apostolic Constitutions are way above the pay grade of Apostolic Exhortations. And the principle that "remarried" divorcees should not receive Holy Communion is embodied in the Catechism, which rests upon the authority of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum of S John Paul II. Moreover, it was given to the Ordinariates as our doctrinal norm in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Benedict XVI.

This is the Catholic Faith which we have received.

It is the duty of every Catholic, high and low, to guard and hand on the Deposit of Faith which we have received, sancte et fideliter. Vatican I, unsurprisingly, took the view that this is especially the duty of the successor of S Peter (Denzinger 3070).

I still share that view, even if some of Bergoglio's closest associates do not.

19 May 2016

More on Amoris laetitia footnote 329

The dodgy doctrinal assumptions behind this footnote ... that you can't expect people to live in celibacy ... that God's grace is insufficient to enable Christians to live according to His will ... are they going to be extended to paedophiles? And especially to that particular 'marginalised' and 'peripheral' group, clerical paedophiles? And if not, why not?

Come to think of it, we don't seem to have heard much about this group during all the 'Mercy' stuff. But perhaps this is unfair. Probably, the Special Confessors are absolving them in droves.

18 May 2016

The Corn, the Wine, and the Oil

As I settled down to supper and dowsed some bread (Italian) in olive oil (Greek, Kalamata) and enjoyed the reassuring gurgle of some wine (Gascon, ad honorem deiparae Virginis de Lapurdo nuncupatae) I thought of the exquisite biblical phrase 'the corn, the wine, and the oil'. And I recalled that the old Ember Days (ignored now in the 'diocesan Church' ... today is an Ember Day!!) grew out of the old Mediterranean harvests (Pentecost: cereals; September: vintage; December: olives. See G G Willis 1964). And that our Faith is a Mediterranean faith, rooted in the agricultural communities of the Mediterranean basin, from the Hebrew Patriarchs onwards. And that our sacraments are inextricably bound up with the Corn, the Wine, and the Oil. And I wondered whether denial of the Corn, the Wine, and the Oil might be considered the basic heresy, the elemental root of all error. Or perhaps this thought arose from the extravagance of the third glass ...

I don't only have in mind the iniquity of anti-alcoholism, although that is part of it. The Gnostics, creation-denying dualists, celebrated 'eucharists' in water, and we can share the righteous disgust of that acute theologian Dr Augustus Fagan ("Lloyd George, the temperance movement, Nonconformity, and lust stalking hand in hand through the country, wasting and ravaging"). The fact that Methodists and others commonly use substances other than wine in their communion services is not, as professional ecumenists try to get away with implying, some minor detail, easily fudged.

But more insidious still is the idea that the principle of inculturation could be applied to the elements used in the Christian sacraments. I have known suggestions that to use bread made from something other than wheat, alcohol produced not from grapes, and the oil of vegetables other than olives, would 'affirm' cultures which do not find their origins in the Mediterranean basin. This seems to be based on the notion that Christianity is an idea; and ideas can, in different cultures, be garbed in different clothes. That is what is the basic heresy. Because Christianity is not an idea. It is a person, a God who took flesh - a particular flesh - from a particular Girl in a particular country in a particular culture, and in that flesh died on a Cross made from a particular Tree after he had, on a particular evening, given himself to his friends under the outer appearances of a loaf and a cupful of wine. This particularity and this materiality, this rootedness, is Christianity. That is why the Gnostics were not Christians, and why Matthew Fox is not a Christian. And the Matter of the Sacraments is rooted in the particularity of that Incarnation and its culture.

Without the Corn, the Wine, and the Oil, nulla salus.

17 May 2016

Nasty and Dirty

Many people very much more holy and learned than I am have spoken of the great riches and beauties which are to be found in Amoris laetitia. Since, we are told, portions of it were added at the request of the CDF, I see no reason why this should not be true. But I think footnote 329 is thoroughly Nasty and Dirty. It is dealing with the idea that "remarried" divorcees might live together as brother and sister. But, in the course of doing this, it quotes Gaudium et Spes. Since the Conciliar Document is referring ad locum to the spacing of families by married couples, this misrepresents the Council. It is always Nasty and Dirty to tell lies, particularly when it is a case of radically misrepresenting the teaching of an ecclesiastical organ ... an Ecumenical Council ... to which Christian people might feel they owed a duty of respect.

And, finally, this footnote appears to accept by implication the proposition that the Grace of God is not able to give Christian people the strength to live in accordance with His will. That is Nasty and Dirty. The Church has always taught that Chastity is within the reach of those who live in God's grace. Millions of Christians have found this to be true.

Indeed, this repulsive little footnote really does draw back the lace curtain on the Nastiness and the Dirt to be found inside the Holy Father's House of 'Mercy'. Some people, we are informed, point out that if "remarried" divorcees live together without sex, one or both of them will be in danger of cheating on their new quasi-spouse. Surprise, surprise! One, at least, and perhaps both, have almost certainly already cheated on another and lawful spouse; is there really any reason why they should not cheat on a new and unlawful "spouse"? Go on: be realistic! Isn't it what we should expect? And this footnote does not even put into the mouths of the "couple" the sentiment If we try to live as brother and sister we shall probably fall, and end up in bed together. That, at least, would be human and honest. And it could be given a gentle and understanding pastoral answer. But No! Footnote 329 says it is the 'fidelity' of the new quasi-marriage which will be endangered. In other words, Cardinal Marx's "remarried" divorcees are making the threat You've got to let us have sex together because if you don't we'll have sex anyway ... BUT WITH OTHER PEOPLE!! So there !!!  A seedy lot, both the Cardinal and the adulterers he so enthusiastically sponsors.

However, since a new relationship has, by producing children, created new obligations, this situation should, we are often told, be accepted. If it is true that quasi-union II can do this, why should quasi-union III not do the same? The idea that Adultery can, as it were, be regularised by the emergence of a new economic unit, a second family, has endless ramifications!

Paradoxically, we should, I think, thank God for the very open Nastiness and Dirtiness of Footnote 329. At least we know where we are, and the sort of people we are dealing with.

16 May 2016


The Pentecost Octave was preserved in the Anglican 1662 [see the rubric attached to the Preface] and Roman 1962 books. In 1662 and in the pre-1955 Roman Rite the Monday and Tuesday were especially privileged; in the older Roman books they are doubles of the first class with the rest of the week at only semidouble rank, while 1662 kept the traditional lections on Monday and Tuesday but returned to the Sunday readings for the rest of the week. This Octave is suitable if Pentecost is regarded as one of the times for Christian Initiation, since the neonati appropriately wore their 'whites' until Saturday and were catechised. It had survived even the pruning of the calendar by Pius XII in 1955, who curiously evened out the week by making every day a double of the first class ... fattening them up, as somebody once said to me, for the slaughter. Its abolition in the post-Conciliar period [by Rome and then, in mindless imitation, by Anglican revisers] finally 'forgets' the baptismal associations of Pentecost and abandons the message of Acts 2: 38-41. Is there a way in which someone who uses the Liturgia Horarum and has a canonical obligation to say the Divine Office, can, without breach of liturgical law, observe the Pentecost Octave?

One could invoke the General Instruction of LH paragraph 245 and repeat the Pentecost office every day up to Saturday as a Votive Office being celebrated devotionis causa. Indeed, modern Vatican Press Ordines Recitandi say that " where the Monday after Pentecost is kept as festive, Mass can be said as yesterday, or a Votive of the Holy Spirit, with Gloria and Credo pro opportunitate; likewise Vespers or even other parts of the Office if celebrated with the people". But in six days the priest - and the people - might get a bit tired of its inflexibility. Of course, one could simply follow the permission given in Summorum Pontificum and use the old Breviary during this week. Is there any reason why one should not continue to fulfil one's canonical obligation through the saying of the LH office, but substitute some offices from the Breviary for some from LH? The Apostolic Constitution Laudis Canticum (Paul VI, 1970), does envisage that permission might be given by Ordinaries to particular clergy, in their private recitation, "Breviarium Romanum, quod antea in usu erat, sive ex toto sive ex parte retinere [to retain the R Breviary ... in part]". One would argue that this is still the law, except that Summorum Pontificum has rendered the "consensus sui Ordinarii" unnecessary (and has not confined the permission, as Paul VI did, to the elderly or those with grave difficulties). So a priest could say Mattins, Lauds, and Vespers from the old book.

Incidentally, Pope Benedict XVI authoritatively made clear that the old Missal was never lawfully abrogated. I presume this is on the grounds that the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 1969 contained nothing explicit about the new rite being compulsory and exclusive. But Laudis Canticum does say that, after certain dates, only the reformed office is to be used ( ... tantummodo ... adhibenda erit). Does it follow that the old Breviary, unlike the old Missal, was canonically abrogated until Benedict XVI resurrected it?

15 May 2016


This is the first paragraph of a piece I first published 2/6/2010: 
"I see that the Holy Father, on Pentecost Sunday, again enunciated the thesis which led to the very public row between himself and Walter Kasper, not long before the Conclave: that the Universal Church theologically 'precedes' the Local Church. I wonder if Professor Kasper will respond this time. I suppose Professor Ratzinger's thesis is now to be deemed to have formal support from the Magisterium."

I have just reread that 2010 Pentecost homily of the Holy Father emeritus; to be embarrassingly personal, it brought tears to my eyes to be reminded, after the aridities of the last couple of years, of the elegance, the clarity, the Biblical insight with which Benedict XVI spoke and wrote; rereading it was like drinking, after a hot and dry and dusty and sweaty and tiring day, a glass-full of limpidly pure and refreshingly cold water. Here is part of it, translated by Zenit. (In the literal sense of the words, this was uttered ex cathedra!)

"This is the effect of God's work: unity; thus unity is the sign of recognition, the 'business-card' of the Church in the course of her universal history. From the very beginning, from the Day of Pentecost, she speaks all languages. The universal Church precedes the particular Churches, and the latter must always conform to the former according to a criterion of unity and universality. The Church never remains a prisoner within political, racial and cultural confines; she cannot be confused with states nor with federations of states, because her unity is of a different type and aspires to transcend every human frontier.

"From this, dear brothers, there derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: When a person or a community limits itself to its own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign that it has distanced itself from the Holy Spirit. The path of Christians and of the particular Churches must always conform itself with the path of the One and Catholic Church, and harmonise with it. This does not mean that the unity created by the Holy Spirit is a kind of homogenisation. On the contrary, that is rather the model of Babel, that is, the imposition of a culture of unity that we would call 'technological'. The Bible, in fact, tells us that in Babel everyone spoke the same language. At Pentecost, however, the Apostles speak different languages in such a way that everyone understands the message in his own tongue. The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding. The Church is one and multiple by her nature, destined as she is to live among all nations, all peoples, and in the most diverse social contexts. She responds to her vocation to be the sign and instrument of unity of the human race only if she remains free from every state and every particular culture. Always and in every place the Church must truly be Catholic and universal, the house of all in which each one can find a place."

So much for silly talk about the acceptability of 'differences' of doctrine or doctrinally related discipline between different particular churches, as may be dictated by the particular and differing cultures in which they exist and to which some people think they are obliged to conform.