26 October 2016

"They have uncrowned Him" (1) Archbishop Lefebvre

As we approach the great Festival of Christus Rex, I am reminded of Archbishop Lefebvre's book with the above title. When I first read that volume, I was struck by a great sense of familiarity ... combined with an overwhelming awareness of unfamiliarity.

The familiarity? The understanding of Society which I found on his pages is radically similar to what, for most of its existence since 1559, would have been seen as the distinctive mark of Anglicanism ... yes, even more so than 'episcopacy' or 'Patristicism'. I invite readers to let their imagination take them back to the English countryside before the Industrial Revolution or the Catholic Revival; to the Squire and the Parson (each of them probably 'two-bottle men', or better) drinking to "Church and King" or "Church and State". The understanding was that the Crown defended the Church, and the Church upheld the Crown (a view that Gallican Frenchmen might have shared). There had been a decade of hiatus in the middle of the seventeenth century; but that had become just a bad memory. True, there were ambiguities after the Dutch Invasion; as Squire and Parson raised their glasses together, perhaps the candlelight glinted on some words etched into the glasses ... Redeat Magnus ille Genius Brittaniae ... and perhaps there was a bowl of water on the table ... and perhaps Sophie Western in her lofty bower heard the drunken voices downstairs rise in song to 'bless our King ... soon to reign over us' or to peer into a future 'when the King shall have his own again'. But the implicit ideology, of a Christian state, of a 'realm', lay beneath it all as a solid foundation.

In this sense, if you wanted to call classical cultural Anglicanism 'Lefebvrian', people might find you rather eccentric but you could make a strong case for your eccentricity, as long as you made it clear that you were referring to the old 'High and Dry' churchmen more than to the new enthusiasts of the Tractarian and Evangelical movements.

The unfamiliarity? A vivid scene described early in the Archbishop's book: we are inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where the painter David has been prostituting his skills in the interests of a new ideology, and has turned from oils to papier-mache; instead of the altare Dei and the August Presence, there is a 'mountain' with a 'Greek' temple, occupied by an agreeable petite danseuse deemed to be the Goddess Reason and surrounded by her associates singing 'hymns'; then a small gathering moves off to the Assembly so that its President can embrace 'la Deesse'. The date? 20 Brumaire, in the Year II. The Capetian uncrowned, the Redeemer dethroned, the very Calendar remade.

British Society has never since 1660 experienced quite such a brutal and total moment of discontinuity, which has marked the whole of later history and has bequeathed such rigidly defined polarities. If Britain had done a deal with Hitler in 1941, Buckingham Palace might very probably have been occupied by Wallace Simpson and a bevy of German Advisers, but EDWARDUS VIII DEI GRATIA REX INDIAE IMPERATOR would have appeared on the coins, the royal standard would still have fluttered from the flagpole, and there would have been a continuity of outward forms.

French history, on the other hand, has been marked by repeated discontinuities in the rituals and the forms, so that under Marshal Petain the Revolutionary motto and symbols in their turn give way to coins inscribed Travail Famille Patrie and bearing a Gallique Francisque. I am inclined to feel that an Englishman has little hope of understanding Lefebvre (or possibly many other Frenchman) if he fails to understand this.

His Excellency the Archbishop described 'the social doctrine of the Church' thus:  
"Society is not a shapeless mass of individuals, but an arranged organism of coordinated and hierarchically arranged social groups: the family, the enterprises and trades, then the professional corporations, finally the state. The corporations unite employers and workers in the same profession for the protection and the promotion of their common interests. The classes are not antagonistic, but naturally complementary".
You could call this ideal 'Corporatism' and recall with distaste that it appealed to Mussolini; or 'Toryism' and remember that as early as 1749 Henry Fielding was ridiculing it as old-fashioned; but it has broad links with the Catholic High Medieval Society which John Bossy described in the 1980s and the disappearance of which the Anglican 'Radical Orthodox' Catherine Pickstock lamented as the basis of modern, atomised, individualism.

Our more gradual British revolutions and our shyness about disturbing inherited symbols deny us the clarity afforded to Frenchmen by the almost comic abruptness of their own episodic cultural transformations; but have we not now all ended up in very much the same place?


To be continued.

25 October 2016

Father Tim ...

If anybody hasn't noticed that Father Tim of Margate has resumed blogging regularly, then I'm telling you! Congratulations to Father for his return to health and good Liturgy and elegant, erudite blogposts!

THE HERMENEUTIC OF CONTINUITY is as active as ever!!

Fatima (6): the Conversion of Russia

I think we should see the Conversion of Russia from the ecclesiological perspective outlined in my Fatima (5) piece. And, for those unfamiliar with this, I allude also to the willingness of that great Pope S Pius X to envisage communicatio in Sacris between Catholics and Orthodox in Russia (facts in my piece of 22 November 2014).

When our Lady at Fatima contingently foretold the Conversion of Russia, I do not think that she meant that every single Russian would automatically become a a faithful and sacramentally regular worshipper (as I do not think that  her promise about the preservation of the Faith in Portugal was falsified by the referendum vote of 2007 to admit abortion). That, this side of the Eschaton, is not the sort of place we are in. Nor, I think, did she mean that Patriarch Cyril and all Russians would immediately come into full juridical communion with the See of S Peter. What she did mean, surely, is something which can embrace (but is not exhausted in) the revival currently going on within the post-Soviet Russian Patriarchate, as well as in the other parts of the former Soviet bloc, such as the Ukraine.

[Incidentally, I have been told (was I misinformed?) that, during Patriarch Cyril's recent visit to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Russian Orthodoxy in this country, the Anglican incumbents of Canterbury and London (Chartres presumably proudly wearing his enkolpion) were present, and a Coptic bishop, but not the Archbishop of Westminster. I imagine an invitation did go to Westminster and that probably a representative was sent. This would suggest a more nuanced and tactful approach to Ukrainian sensitivities than Pope Francis was able to manage at that bungled meeting in Cuba! I wonder if Eparchial Bishop Hlib had a quiet word with Vin ... ]

24 October 2016

Homosexualist ideologues

News has come through that the Ulster Appeal Court has published its judgement on the case of the Protestant Bakery fined for refusing to ice homosexualist propaganda onto a cake. The conviction stands. So does this mean that the homosexualists will be able to queue up outside the bakery daily to make the the same requests until the fines and damages bankrupt the business? The 'Gay Marriage' which the cake was intended to demand is in fact not legal in Northern Ireland; so will followers of other non-legal causes such as paederasts or murderers be able to employ the same logic and order cakes with the message "Free Inter-generation Love" or "Cacothanasia Now", and profitably take their cases through the courts?

Incidentally, has the Catholic hierarchy been speaking in sympathy for these Protestants who, at personal risk, espouse the teaching of the Church on some sexual matters? Is it not part of the Church's ecumenical policy, since Vatican II, to affirm with joy those "elements of the Church" which may be found among Separated Brethren?

At the same time, we have another trendy policy: the suppression of the convictions of subjects of the Crown who were convicted of homosexual acts back in the days when such acts were illegal. I rather wonder how far back these historical amnesties will go. Will they merely encompass those still alive? I could see a certain human kindliness in that. OK. But if the game goes back to embrace the now dead (as it did in the case of the pardon granted to Alan Turing), the additional question, surely, arises of How Far Back Do We Go? What logic could there be in having any particular cut-off point anywhere? Similar questions arise with regard to the granting of Free Pardons to those shot for cowardice during the First War.

And what about the women burned as witches? The Protestants burned under Henry VIII and his off-spring and the Catholics HDQed under Bloody Bess? Titus Oates' victims? Those executed after the '45? Casement and Lord Haw Haw?

But, of course, under our Constitution, Parliament can do anything. What a lot of problems this can solve. Changing the Past is a prime example of what the ancients called an adunaton, an impossible thing. If all the adunata are now potentially dunata, why stop at any fashionable or convenient fantasy? Why only reconstruct the Past by decree? Why this prejudice against also reconstructing by administrative fiat the Present and the Future? Why doesn't Parliament just enact that Global Warming has never happened and is not happening? Instead of erecting expensive flood defences, why don't we just have an Order in Council enacting that the Somerset Levels will not be flooded? We could all live happily for ever after, in Fairyland, especially the people of Somerset, who would be comforted by the sure and certain reassurance that the water swirling round their necks could not possibly be a flood.

Winston in 1984 spent his entire working life rewriting the past. I wonder if Orwell ever suspected how soon his sick prophecy would be made into a gruesome reality.

I don't for one moment think there is any real desire for 'justice' involved in daft attempts to rewrite the past.

It is simply a matter of the homosexualist ideologues making clear "We are the Masters now, and we want to watch you bastards squirm". In the idiolect of the Zeitgeist, this is called "Diversity".

What a very unpleasant spectacle it all is.

23 October 2016

Quicunque vult, commonly called the 'Athanasian Creed' or 'QV'

Those of you who wisely keep an eye on the St Lawrence Press ORDO will have noticed that today is among a small number of Sundays upon which 'QV' is to be said. 

"The most simple and sublime, the most devotional formulary to which Christianity has given birth".

That is how Blessed John Henry Newman, with his superb gift for lapidary precision, described the 'Athanasian Creed'. Since the Holy See saw fit to give Newman to the English Ordinariate as a Patron, I feel that this superbly credal canticle ought to be in the forefront of the mission of the Ordinariate to repair the lacunae in the day-by-day teaching of the modern Catholic Church; and it certainly ought to be recited regularly in the Divine Office.

Newman often sprang to the defence of this Creed, and our Tractarian Fathers (and their successors during the Prayer Book controversies of 1927-8) fought for its retention in Anglican worship. The most recent occasion upon which I felt a great temptation myself to spring to the defence of the Quicunque vult was during one of the less good lectures during our 'formation'. A lecturer told us this anecdote: one of his regular students had found, on the the EWTN website, the teaching that Christ is "equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood." He had felt it necessary to explain to his students that this was heretical, and had encouraged them to write to EWTN and explain that they were promoting heresy (he actually used this unfashionable term). Looking meaningfully at us, with a nod and a wink, he regretted that none of his students had yet done so.

During that 'formation', I maintained a principle of not offering corrections of howlers promoted by the lecturers, lest (mirabile dictu) I should appear to be a troublemaker. But I felt obliged to enter into an email correspondence with the joker concerned, pointing out that this 'heresy' was not only in the Athanasian Creed, but in the Tome of S Leo (and hence inter acta Concilii Chalcedoniensis). It is present in S Augustine and I tracked it down in most of the Latin Fathers. Eventually, very grudgingly, he made some sort of vague retraction (but, of course, not publicly).

S Pius V's Breviary anticipated this Creed being said at the Divine Office on most Sundays; although, in effect, by the twentieth century, it was very rarely said because a commemoratio 'excused' its omission from Prime. The Book of Common Prayer prescribed its use a dozen times a year. During the aetas Bugniniana it was eventually dislodged from its last Catholic toehold, Trinity Sunday.

S Pius V, and Thomas Cranmer, were dead right in this consensus. And, today, the 'Athanasian Creed' is as necessary as ever it was. Trinitarian errors still abound, and many of our present woes arise from faulty beliefs with regard to Catholic teaching about the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union. Dorothy Sayers, a major part of our Anglican theological Patrimony but sadly almost forgotten even among those who should know better, wrote immensely well about this in her The Mind of the Maker (especially Chapter 10; it's on the Internet).

22 October 2016

New York

I decided I really had better nip over to New York and commune with Subleyras' fine portrait of Benedict XIV in the Met ... you would expect no less of me ... and I have to tell you that His Holiness is not sanguine about the current state of the Church. But I will be able to give you more detail about that in the weeks ahead.

I took the opportunity to avail myself of the very great privilege of celebrating and preaching in the fine church at Norwalk in Connecticut over which a fellow Oxonian, Dr Richard Cipolla of Cardinal College, a hospitable host, presides to such splendid effect. It is most impressive; the liturgy runs like the smoothest clockwork and the Music is in the charge of the mighty, impeccable, and infallible David Hughes. I had the unusual experience of being congratulated by no fewer than two of my hearers on preaching a sermon full of  Ciceronian praeteritio. You don't often get that class of comment on this side of the water. One truly 'traditional' feature of the church is that, as part of the reredos of the High Altar, it has a newly painted picture of the Assumption of the Theotokos, which pictures the old and ecumenical muthoi about the events surrounding her Glorification; those stories which, to all intents and purposes, Papa Pacelli did rather prune away.

By the generous courtesy of the Society of S Hugh of Cluny, I was able to speak both in Norwalk and in New York, where I had the great joy of meeting a long-time and erudite friend: Professor Bill Tighe, who walks in and out of the prosopography of the Tudor Court as if he has never lived anywhere else, and who is the historical expert on the Demise of Anglicanism. And Professor John Rao, presiding genius of the Roman Forum ... and, by the way, numbers are already looking very promising for next summer's (Silver Jubilee!) Gardone Riviera colloquium. Get in there fast!! And I had the pleasure of meeting other Gardone friends, young and old; and of making new ones.

A special Thank You to Stuart and Jill Chessman,  and their son Stuart, who put themselves to so much trouble to facilitate my week.

21 October 2016

Fatima (5): More Martyrs

In the fine CDF documents Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus, the Church's Magisterium clarified the position of those Christian bodies which possess true ministry and Sacraments. This does clarification most certainly not imply, as some people have foolishly argued, that "the Orthodox Church" is a "sister Church" of "the Catholic Church". Nor does it mean that "the Moskow Patriarchate" is "a sister Church" of the "Latin Church".

By "particular Church", what is meant is a Church constituted organically with a Bishop, his presbyterate, his diaconate, and all the holy People of God. That is a true Church by divine right, and, incidentally, this is why from time to time it becomes necessary to remind everybody that Catholic ecclesiology has no place for "national Churches"; and views with justified suspicion any movements towards giving Episcopal Conferences anything other than minmal and practical functions. As Cardinal Mueller once wisely said, we must never think of the Chairpersons of Episcopal Conferences as any sort of vice-popes. Nor, as he made clear, must Conferences and their bureaucracies come between the Diocesan Bishop and the Bishop of Rome, each of whom (unlike the Conferences) is iure divino.

What this definition of "Particular Church" means is, for example, that the Diocese of S Petersburg, and the diocese of Brentwood, are true sister Churches; it being understood that the Diocese of S Petersburg is a true particular Church but "wounded" by its separation from the See of S Peter; and the Diocese of Brentwood is wounded by the schism which hinders the Catholic Chuch from realising and manifesting the complete fulfillment of her universality in history.

This, I think, is why we need have no hesitation in recognising those Coptic peasants who, murmuring the Name of their Redeemer, had their throats cut on that Mediterranean beach as "our" martyrs.

20 October 2016

Fatima (4): Mary and the Martyrs

"Beneath the arms of the cross angels gather up the blood of the martyrs, and with it they give life to the souls making their way to God. Here, the blood of Christ and the blood of the martyrs are considered as one: the blood of the martyrs runs down from the arms of the cross. The martyrs die in communion with the Passion of Christ, and their death becomes one with his. For the sake of the body of Christ, they complete what is still lacking in his afflictions (cf. Colossians 1:24). Their life has itself become a Eucharist, part of the mystery of the grain of wheat which in dying yields abundant fruit. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians, said Tertullian. As from Christ's death, from his wounded side, the Church was born, so the death of the witnesses is fruitful for the future life of the Church. Therefore, the vision of the third part of the "secret", so distressing at first, concludes with an image of hope: no suffering is in vain, and it is a suffering Church, a Church of martyrs, which becomes a sign-post for man in his search for God. The loving arms of God welcome not only those who suffer like Lazarus, who found great solace there and mysteriously represents Christ, who wished to become for us the poor Lazarus. There is something more: from the suffering of the witnesses there comes a purifying and renewing power, because their suffering is the actualisation of the suffering of Christ himself and a communication in the here and now of its saving effect."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 2000.

19 October 2016

Fatima (3): some prehistory

The Fatima visionaries, poor little peasant mites, are unlikely to have known this; but, in the first millennium, May 13 was sometimes a festival of our Lady within the Roman Rite. To me, who incline to share S John Paul's view that in the workings of Providence there are no coincidences, this seems interesting.

This is how it happened. In 609, Pope S Boniface IV dedicated the old Roman Pantheon, built originally by Marcus 'Actium' Agrippa but subsequently rebuilt after a fire, as the Church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. He did this in the presence of the emperor Phocas ... not an altogether nice chap, but possibly the last emperor, I think, not to use the style Basileus; it had thus taken more than six centuries to dissipate the old Roman gut sentiment which animated Brutus and his associates, to the effect that no-one in Rome ought to deem himself Rex ... but I'm rambling again ...

Phocas donated an Ikon of our Lady which is still enthroned above the Altar of that Church; and the relics of many of the martyrs were disinterred and brought into the church; hence its name. This was the period when Marian Ikons, and relics of Saints, used to be processed round the wall of Constantinople when barbarian enemies appeared on the scene; I rather suspect that Phocas and Pope S Boniface had in mind to construct a defensive powerhouse in Old Rome rather than merely to stimulate pious devotion.

In the early centuries of the English Church, this festival on May 13 seems to have been important. The Leofric Missal, the Altar Book of the early Archbishops of Canterbury, based on texts brought to England by S Augustine, includes it and, interestingly, demonstrates the continuing relevance of this festival by including in the text later scribal additions and adaptations. Perhaps the Church of S Mary in Canterbury emulated the mother church in Rome. Something similar appears to have happened in Exeter (to which the Leofric Missal was later taken), where a Saxon church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres lay, I think, West of the present Cathedral and on the same axis.

I am sure that the significance of the Martyrs will have struck readers. The Third Secret of Fatima is full of the theme of Martyrs and Martyrdom; indeed, we are still living in an Age of Martyrs which rivals any earlier such age. I would draw the attention of those who do not know it to the official CDF documentary collection of 2000, The Message of Fatima, and especially to the fine and elegant exposition by Cardinal Ratzinger. I hope to contribute a post about this (his page 42 resonates particularly with me).

Sancta Maria ad Martyres, indeed.

18 October 2016

Cardinal Cupich ...

... is undoubtedly right to suggest that, when people have in conscience come to a particular conclusion, we should follow and support them. He has my support, 150%. I am filled with enthusiasm for where his principles, in my judgement, will lead.

Clearly, when a paedophile priest concludes that, in carefully judged and exceptional circumstances, his caring and loving attentions to a child are for the good, and for the maturity, of that child (a conclusion identical with the wisdom of ancient Athenian aristocratic society), it is not for sick, narrow-minded and crabbed "Traditionalists" to interfere. Few things even in the Ratzinger pontificate were more disgraceful than his use in this context of the word "Filth". Talk about stirring up prejudice!!

And when it becomes clear to a conscientious politician that a carefully controlled and, of course, limited experiment in genocide is the best way of eliminating divisive and unproductive inter-ethnic frictions, the "Traditionalists" should not be allowed to intrude their own private opinions into the public forum. "Keep your hands off my gas chambers/machetes" should be our slogan. Clergy should keep well out of politics. 'Freedom of Worship', yes; but no freedom for those who wish to impose their own prejudice-ridden religious hang-ups upon an open and pluralist society. They must be 'No-platformed' in order to preserve a 'Safe Space' for women and men of Conscience.

True, S John Paul II in his Veritatis splendor claimed that there were certain sorts of things which were always objectively and totally wrong, but we all know where to advise the "Traditionalists" to shove that peculiarly antiquated document ... as well as Familiaris consortio and all the Ratzinger stuff.

Cupich may not, himself, have yet discerned the full exciting promise and beautiful ultimate flowering of his teachings, but he is entitled to be thought of as the true godfather of the Even Newer Morality of the Even More Caring Church! A real place in History!

18 October: S Eadnoth of Dorchester

The 1,000 anniversary of the Heavenly Birthday, Natale, of S Eadnoth Bishop of Dorchester. He was killed while saying Mass during the Battle of Assandun.

The victorious Danes killed him; I expect I will be criticised for suggesting that it shows more respect ... indeed, fear ... for the power of the Sacrifice of the Mass, to kill the priest who is offering it for the victory of your enemies than it does just to dismiss the Eucharist as some irrelevance by which nobody need feel threatened. Might the recent killer of Fr Hamel be a millimetre closer to Truth than the Obama, with its campaign to replace the 'Freedom of Religion' which it so loathes with a 'Freedom of Worship' about which it couldn't care less?

S Eadnoth ended up being buried at Ely. His own Cathedral Church at Dorchester, just South of Oxford, was to lose that status half a century later under the Normans, when the sedes episcopalis was transferred to Winchester. S Eadnoth's church, or rather, the gothic Abbey Church built over its site, was once, but is no longer, a dynamic Anglo-Catholic centre with a Missionary College attached.

At the beginning of this millennium, the shrine of its founder S Birinus was reconstructed. That reconstruction is superbly emblematic of all that is pathetic about a faded and meaningless middle-of-the-road Anglicanism devoid of real content. On top of the now pointless masonry there is no feretory containing relics; attached to its west end there is no Altar for the August Sacrifice. The C of E is terribly good at milking 'heritage' and demonstrating a polite interest in the past, but has no real awareness of any interaction between the Now and the Supernatural. (The church is in the hands of a 'woman priest'.) In Kenneth Kirk's pontificate, the Anglican Bishop Suffragan of Dorchester was permitted, once a year on S Birinus' feast in December, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester with all the dignities of a Diocesan Bishop, including the presence of the famed and feared Staggers Serving Team commanded by Canon Couratin.  

Sic transit gloria mundi.

But you can find the supernatural a little way away, in the lovely little Victorian Catholic Church of S Birinus, beautifully restored by the admirable Fr Osman, who celebrates the Old Mass in it, and was one of the 45 assertores Veritatis who signed the recent Letter to the Cardinals.

Luci cedant tenebrae, et cedunt.

17 October 2016

Fatima (2) ... looking ahead to 2017

I'm sure somebody will be able to answer this: is there an authorised Mass for our Lady of Fatima in the Extraordinary Form? Of course, it is easy enough to confect one, because all you need to do is to take the OF Collect and insert it into the EF Commune of our Lady or into the Mass of her Immaculate Heart (or possibly into some other Marian text in the aliquibus locis?). And one can certainly argue that, in the present situation, necessitas would justify doing that without explicit authorisation. But the case must surely have already arisen of Old Rite pilgrimages to Fatima feeling this need. Has anything ... presumably, I mean by Ecclesia Dei ... been officially done? If not, who should do what? Ecclesia Dei has sometimes operated by means of very quietly allowing it to be understood that x or y or even z would not seem to them to be too, too terribly wicked ...

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 surely a consensual way of putting this process, delicately, sensitively, gently, into effect, would be to start with May 13. Would anybody violently object to May 13 being made the festival of our Lady of Fatima? 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, and other major interests?