1 July 2015

The Precious Blood

Perhaps even more than the Sacred Heart, today's great Feast represents the instincts embodied in the old English affection for the cult of the Redeemer's Five Wounds. Here is Fr Caswall's translation of the Lauds Office Hymn for July 1:

Hail, wounds! which through eternal years The love of Jesus show; Hail, Wounds! from whence unfailing streams Of grace and mercy flow.
More precious than the gems of Ind, Than all the stars more fair; Nor honeycomb, nor fragrant rose, Can once with you compare.
Through you is open'd to our souls A refuge safe and calm, Whither no raging enemy Can reach to work us harm.
What countless stripes did Christ receive Naked in Pilate's hall! From his torn flesh how red a shower Did all around him fall!
How doth th'ensanguined thorny crown That beauteous brow transpierce! How do the nails those hands and feet Contract with tortures fierce!
He bows his head, and forth at last His loving spirit soars; Yet even after death His heart For us its tribute pours.
Beneath the winepress of God's wrath His Blood for us He drains, Till for Himself, oh wondrous love! No single drop remains.
Oh, come, all ye on whom abide The deadly stains of sin! Come! wash in this encrimsoned tide, And ye shall be made clean.
Praise Him, who with the Father sits Enthroned upon the skies; Whose blood redeems our souls from guilt, Whose Spirit sanctifies.

Not as sure-footed as translations by John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale, is it? Incidentally, with regard to the antepenultimate stanza, Neale claimed, on physiological grounds, that the word 'roseo' in the hymn Ad coenam Agni related to the 'fact' that the last drop or two from a body almost totally drained of blood ... are rosy rather than red. A recent correspondent, a doctor in A & E, confirmed the accuracy of this.

The Precious Blood

I published this on Sunday March 6 2011, Quinquagesima Sunday, our last Sunday in the Church of England. I repeat it with one or two slight amplifications.

Glory be to Jesus, Who in bitter pains, Poured for us the life-blood From his sacred veins.
I really felt unusually affected at Mass this morning. Three hymns: Praise to the Holiest ..., which Pam and I had at our Wedding: suitable also because in 1828 Mr Newman contributed to raising the floor-level of S Thomas's above the flood-level of the Thames - and his scout John Hayworth was a life-long worshipper at S Thomas's. And Sweet Sacrament Divine. And, at the end, Glory be to Jesus (Viva! Viva! Gesu!), a hymn I particularly love. I had it at my Licensing to S Thomas's, unaware as I made the choice that it is painted on the roof-beams of the church ... probably during the incumbency of Fr Roger Wodehouse, who very much loved it (he was also the priest who put in place the baroque High Altar). Lift ye then your voices; Swell the mighty flood: Louder still and louder Praise the precious Blood.

After the Angelus, we polished off, as Canon Law required, a quick Vestry Meeting before the Churchwardens, staves of office in their hands, led us to the Shrine of S Thomas; for the last time we did the devotions traditional here on festivals of S Thomas, this time in thanks to our Patron for his gifts of grace in bringing us to where we now are. These devotions end with the Antiphon ad Magnificat in the Sarum Breviary: Salve, Thoma, virga justitiae, mundi jubar, robur Ecclesiae, plebis amor, cleri deliciae: Salve, gregis tutor egregie; salva tuae gaudentes gloriae. Then, in what I found a most moving gesture, the Churchwardens laid down their staves and left them at the feet of S Thomas. Vale, beate Thoma.

In my view, Churchwardens are a crucial element in the Anglican Patrimony, inherited from a medieval Church in which each of the innumerable guilds had its own Wardens, all under the ultimate control of the "High Wardens". As an indication of lay dignity and of the intricate corporate communal life of a medieval parish, they should be one of our most important contributions to the Wider Church.

Grace and life eternal In that Blood I find; Blest be His compassion, Infinitely kind. Deo gratias.

30 June 2015

Rainbow Houses and Fashions

How weird the North American Presidential Residence looked on our TV, in all those silly colours. Time some sensible person sent an army to burn it down. Have we still got an army?

Call me a Daft Limey, or anything else you like: I can't see why there's all this celebrating in honour of Gay Marriage. Everybody knows that the up-to-date and cutting-edge idea in homosexual circles is that homosexuality is inherently promiscuous; therefore, we are told, all the stuff about gay monogamy and fidelity is an attempt by heterosexual imperialism to impose alien concepts and restrictions upon homosexuals. Furthermore, in utilitarian terms it is easy to justify monogamous heterosexual fidelity for as long as there are children to be nurtured, but such considerations are not so obviously inherent in homosexual couplings.

It's a fad. By the time the novelty has worn off, say, in about twenty years, the number of gay 'marriages' will have slumped to something like zero. Betcha. When the new fad has become state-affirmed (simultaneous) polygamy or incest, the picture of two blokes or two gals getting 'exclusively' 'married' 'for life' will seem as deliciously retro as that of a Victorian spinster in crinolines riding a penny-farthing bicycle over cobblestones in a London smog.

29 June 2015

The English Missal (2)

After this, he would revert to Latin and use all the elements of the Roman Rite from the communion up to the end of the Last Gospel; the only compromise being that he would not say Placeat tibi and bless the people a second time. Despite Fr Kenrick's disavowals, this is clearly a rite compiled by a man anxious to say as much as possible of the Tridentine Mass, and to say it in Latin. And Fr Kenrick could justify all this by neatly claiming that its very language marked out his Latin materials as only "private devotions of the priest". Mass at Hoxton cannot have been brief.

Copies of the first printed edition apppear to be quite rare; it did not give the Latin texts of the Propers, but translated them into English. But it obviously supplied a need, because the second and subsequent editions abound in churches all over England and were still being purchased and used in the 1950s.

But, as the century progressed, Kenrick's nervous protestations of loyalty to the Prayer Book gave place to a new attitude among Anglo-Catholics, which was doctrinally and ecclesiologically based. An influential book The Truth about the Prayer Book was published in 1935 by Fathers Alban Baverstock and Donald Hole, in which they argued that the Prayer Book was in fact illegitimate and the Roman Rite the truly lawful liturgy of the Provinces of Canterbury and York (this was how many Anglo-Papalists preferred to refer to their Church; it was two lamentably separated provinces of the Western Church and not, as the phrase 'Church of England might suggest, an independant ecclesial body). "The Missal and Breviary formed the only 'prayer book' possessing canonical authority in the Church of England. Then, suddenly, an entirely new liturgy was forced upon the English provinces by the authority of Parliament. It possessed no spiritual or canonical authority whatever. Its introduction was in no sense the act of the Church of England, it was thrust upon an unwilling Church at the point of a sword." Even more significantly, they were inclined to argue that, anyway, "it would have been ultra vires for a provincial synod to abrogate a rite which had the prescriptive use of a thousand years behind it in the West".

This Altar book existed in many places in combination with the Missale Romanum. Depending on how 'instructed' his congregation was, a priest might use the English Missal  on Sundays, and the Missale Romanum on weekdays, and particularly at private Masses. The culture was: the Missale Romanum is the truly lawful book of the Western Latin Church of which we are (sadly, canonically separated) members members; the English Missal is a way of working towards that ideal.
To be continued.

28 June 2015

The English Missal (1)

Go into any Anglo-Catholic sacristy in England and, gathering dust on some top shelf, you will find The English Missal   Missale Anglicanum. And probably more than one copy in more than one edition.

Fr Henry William Gordon Kenrick, 1862-1943 was its only begetter. An evangelical in origin, he trained at the London Divinity School. Having discovered the Catholic Faith, he was, from 1905 until 1937, Vicar of Holy Trinity Hoxton; years in which Anglo-Catholicism flourished in the Church of England, in its most Tridentine form.

The genesis of his EM appears to be a Missal, hand-written for the most part between June 1904 and the beginning of 1907, which is now in Pusey House Library accompanied by a letter from the compiler and scribe. He claims that he used it at the Altar "for some time and then translated into English, made many additions then got it printed as 'The English Missal'". Published in 1912, throughout its history it bore the publisher's name of W Knott.

In his introduction to the original manuscript Missal, Fr Kenrick nervously states that its "idea" was "to group the great pictures of the world around the Altar ... There is here also an attempt to combine absolute loyalty to the English Church and Liturgy with the felt want of systematic aids to the private devotions of the priest". This device ... the provision of private devotions ... goes back to the beginning of the provision of Anglo-Catholic Altar Books; the erudite Rector of North Cerney, Fr P G Medd (compiler also of the Prayer Book in the original Latin of its Medieval and earlier sources), produced The Priest to the Altar in 1861 ("privately ... sold to subscribers) "after some consultation with Canon Liddon and other friends resident in Oxford" (Liddon himself was accustomed to say the Canon of the Mass in Latin sotto voce when celebrating the Communion). In this book, short passages coyly labelled "(Sarum)" provided, in English, extracts from the Roman Rite.

But Kenrick's manuscript goes much further than these earlier publications. It consists of nothing less than the entire Prayer Book eucharistic rite (homilies and all) in English, with almost the entire Roman Rite in Latin. Fr Kenrick writes "The Latin parts are sanctioned in principle by the Preface in the Book of Common Prayer 'Concerning the Service'. One who desires to use only the Prayer Book can do do by reading only the English parts of this book. Any exceptions need the sanction of the Bishop".

A priest using Fr Kenrick's Missal would say the Preparation at the foot of the altar, and the Introit, in Latin; followed by the introductory material from the prayer book (including the Commandments and the Collext for the King) in English, until he had read the Collect and Epistle for the day. He would then revert to Latin for the Gradual. Later in the service he would incorporate the Roman Canon before and after the Prayer Book Prayer of Consecration, and continue in Latin with the Lord's Prayer and all the other Roman material up to the Communion. After Communion he would say the Lord's Prayer - again, but this time in English. - and the rest of the Prayer Book material up to the end of the Gloria. Placeat tibi followed, and then the Prayer Book blessing (during which, since the Blessed Sacrament was still upon the Altar until the Ablutions, he had to genuflect before turning to bless the people).

To be continued. I shall not enable any comments until I have finished this article in its various parts (there are quite a lot).

27 June 2015


I am taking another, I hope blissful, fortnight away from emails. I hope to post something every day but I shall not moderate and enable comments and I shall not reply to emails.

The Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

Very best wishes to the Papa Stronsay brethren, and their NZ brethren, on this wonderful solemnity. I said Mass this morning, from the Appendix pro aliquibus locis, for their Good Estate and for their Intentions. I have the most happy memories of this day, in 2012, when some of them made the journey down to Oxford, and accompanied me into London the following day for my First Mass in Full Communion with the See of S Peter, at that lovely Lady Altar in the Brompton Oratory, together with the admirable Fr Ray. And of my stay at the Monastery last year.

Right thinking people who don't already subscribe to Catholic, the Papa Stronsay newspaper, would be well advised to do so. Loads of news from all over the world; and loads and loads of absolutely magnificent pictures. In the most recent number, pictures of the S Agatha's Day celebrations in Catania; I think I'll send that page to our Ordinariate Shrine of S Agatha in Southport, where I had the privilege of preaching at their Patronal Festival a couple of years ago. Loads of decent religion down there! I enthusiastically commend their Sunday Mass to those within range who hunger for true Catholic Liturgy. Especially if you can't get to Catania ...

And pictures of His Excellency the Bishop of Copenhagen, Czeslaw Kozon, ordaining subdeacons in Gestratz. A truly pastoral bishop, who invited me to celebrate the Extraordinary Form in his Chapel (he served it himself) and breakfasted me afterwards. Kind, interested, humble, and gracious. He was glad to hear all about the Ordinariate. Indeed, all right thinking Catholics are!

Catholic is only £5 (UK);
"Catholic Subscriptions"
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www.papastronsay.blogspot.com (has a 'Donate' button)

Catholic Ecumenism

Whooppee!!! A fascinating post on the Eponymous Flower about an attempt to reconstitute a united Church of the East, in communion with the See of S Peter, out of the three fragments into which it is currently broken. I hope and most devoutly pray that this may be true, and may lead to the desired goal. Rome has already prepared the way for this by its Christological agreement with the Assyrians; and its acceptance of the adequacy of the rite of Addai and Mari.

And the Society of S Pius X tells us that, after the June ordinations, it will have a priesthood of over 600.

My own view is that Separated Brethren should be viewed differently depending on whether they are officially set on a course of convergence towards, or divergence from, Catholic Unity. For example: the worldwide Anglican establishment increasingly distances itself from Catholic teaching on Holy Order and Sexual Morality. Since the latter is the main point currently at issue between the Church and the World, we must, surely, take seriously the plain fact that our 'partners in dialogue' are now increasingly committed to assisting the Devil's work, in opposition to the Body of Christ. Can anyone doubt that they are becoming more and more part of the Enemy's plan? Of course, we should not decline to talk to them; but that dialogue, as Walter Kasper made clear when he addressed the English Anglican bishops, must, realistically, be on the basis of a changed understanding of what they are and what they want.

Christians, however, who are on a course of convergence with Catholicism, should surely be treated differently. I hope that the authorities in Rome will not make an issue of details which, in a situation of restored unity and amity, would settle themselves. And, to put it crudely, our Christian brethren in the Arab world could do with a bit of a break from bad news and bloody death.

One final point. There are still some good Catholic folk in exsilio within the Anglican Communion. I think there should be a renewed openness towards Anglican clergy who are considering their position. I am far from being part of the inner counsels of the Church, but the rumours we all hear suggest that, somewhere deep in the machinery, there may be a more grudging spirit with regard to the integration of such excellent men into Catholic Unity and Catholic priesthood. We hear talk of age-limits; of delaying ordination until after a period of formation. I would be so very relieved to be proved wrong ...

Unity matters. We should actively discern the places where the Holy Spirit is actively and manifestly at work bringing schism to an end and we should actively and generously collaborate with Him.

26 June 2015

Mass in Greek at S Denys

My friend Joshua, an erudite contributor to this blog since the beginning, draws our attention to a fascinating example of the Roman Rite partially in Greek, as used in Bourbon France. Should we see this as an example of a marriage between Catholicism and the Renaissance of Greek language and literature in the educated classicising West? See the thread. Read it and be enthralled.

To Arms, to Arms

It is well known that this University has always regarded itself as immune from the jurisdiction of the Kings of Arms; both University and Colleges have ever devised and adopted into use their own Arms; often simply using the achievement of a Founder. My wife's College uses the Arms of the father of its founding principal, Dr Eleanor Plumer; he, as a distinguished Field Marshal and First World War general, had been granted a Coat of Arms including a sword surrounded by a laurel wreath ... a striking heraldic adornment for a Women's College!

When, in 1548, the University Press was finally firmly established (after two rather infirm earlier establishments going back to 1478) with Joseph Barnes as Architypographus, the first thing he did was to have a splendid block made of the University Arms. These were then, as they are now, three ducal coronets upon a field azure and, between them, an open book. But, whereas the words on the book now read Dominus Illuminatio Mea, from Barnes' time until at least 1658, the 'motto' was Sapientiae et Felicitatis. I expect some writer has explained all this; if a reader can point me in the direction of information, I would be grateful.

If I had anything to do with the (technically illegal) assumption of Arms by Catholic entities in England, I would behave rather differently from whoever currently does cook up such designs (it is my confident guess that the College of Arms has had little to do with these productions). The Ordinariate, for example, uses the Priory of Walsingham impaling Newman, which would normally imply either that the Prior of Walsingham had married a Miss Newman, or that a member of the Newman family held the office of Prior. The Anglican College of Guardians of the Shrine did distinctly better in 1945; I suspect Fr Fynes Clinton (who paid the fees) may have had a lot to do with the design. The  Kings of Arms granted Arms consisting of the Priory of Walsingham (Argent, upon a cross sable, five lilies of the first slipped and seeded proper) differenced with a canton (azure, charged with the Holy House or). A correspondingly elegant composition for the Ordinariate would have been the Priory of Walsingham differenced with a canton of Newman.

I think I rather like the use of cantons to do differencing. I can think of an example that goes back as far as the Roll associated with the Siege of Caerlaverock in 1300. It means that neither of the two coats concerned is deprived of its integrity. Allen Hall, for example, would look well if (given its origins) it were Oxford Ancient (i.e. with the words Sapientiae et Felicitatis!) differenced with a canton of Allen ... that is, his very jolly little conies!

Gumming a couple of coats together by means of impalement, which in heraldry most commonly implies the sort of temporary association that goes with a marriage (or the metaphorical marriage where an office-holder impales his arms of office with his own arms), seems unsophisticated if not down-right plain misleading!

25 June 2015

"Science says", does it?

The Irish Times is a very Grauniad sort of newspaper in its editorial biases, so it must be a pure coincidence that, on the very day when the Holy Father's Encyclical on the Environment was published, its long-time Science Correspondent, Professor Emeritus William Reville (a biochemist and a very accessible writer) of University College Cork (go there ... a lovely quadrangle worthy of Oxford ... fantastic Harry Clarke glass in the Chapel ... they do their academic ceremonies in Latin ...) dropped rather a bomb-shell. Half of the research work published in the Natural Sciences is, he says, so dubious as not to be fit for purpose. He cites writers including a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine ("It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published ...") and speakers at a meeting (Chatham House Rules) organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust.

The Editor-in-chief of the Lancet attended that meeting, and wrote: "The case against Science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, Science has taken a turn towards darkness ... The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world. Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too. We aid and abet the worst behaviours. Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few jornals. Our love of 'significance' pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairytale ... Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent, endpoints that foster reductive metrics, such as high-impact publication ... and individual scientists, including their most senior leaders, do little to alter a research culture that occasionally veers close to misconduct."

It would be thoroughly puerile to try to use all this to mount some sort of gleeful attack upon the Natural Sciences. It would also leave one deservedly wide open to a gigantic Tu quoque. Only yesterday, I was reading a large book in the field of Papyrology, written by somebody who had needed to reexamine a large number of published papyri for his own research purposes. He repeatedly discovered that the published accounts were inaccurate. His realisation generated a large, originally unintended, part of his book, his Appendix 3, listing thousands of examples of error ... which he had discovered entirely obiter! I made a similar discovery a decade ago when working on late medieval records in Devon. You can't rely on published accounts; you just have to go back to the manuscript originals. And take them with a pinch of salt! Don't totally believe anybody! And as for what is laughably called "New Testament Studies", two thirds of it is rubbish written by people who are blithely unaware that, if you start with a theory which is, let us say, roughly .75 probable, and put on top of it another theory which is roughly .75 probable, you're already down to something like .56 probable, and one more similar stage takes you down to well under .5 probable; in other words, your brilliant cumulative theory in its three humanly highly plausible and attractive stages, accompanied by all your terribly persuasive rhetoric, is more likely to be false than it is to be true.

However, there is something slightly different about the Natural Sciences: (1) there are some poor, simple, credulous  souls out there who believe that 'scientists' are invariably austere and logical high-minded individuals, servants of a stern mistress, devoted to following the objective evidence wherever it may inexorably lead them; and: (2) a belief exists that 'Science' is very important and that 'Science' equals Truth and should be believed and followed by governments and individuals. "We should let ourselves be guided by the Science", cry the politicians. For as long as it suits them.

'Scientists' are, quite simply, human beings just like the rest of us. And 'Science' is one academic discipline, often imperfectly pursued, among many other such. That's all I'm saying. Nothing more.

Reville concludes: "That great cathedral of scientific progress, the peer-reviewed scientific literature, is beginning to crumble."

Join the club! Welcome back to the Human Race!

24 June 2015

ENCAENIA ... et alia ...

As we all set off in our moth-eaten red silk, on this great Feast of S John Baptist, my Name Day, to celebrate Encaenia, the minds of right-thinking people naturally turn to Jokes in the Latin Language.

I have no doubt that the funniest book ever written is Ovid's Metamorphoses. But I never go around commending it to the Reading Lists of others, because, if you don't know Latin, and Latin literature, pretty well, you can't read Ovid. His humour depends so profoundly upon slight points of Latin grammar and vocabulary and word-order, and the interplay of genres, and the use of wickedly impish intertextualities and pastiches, that, if you buy and read a translation, you won't be reading Ovid. Yes ... you will have in your hand a nicely written collection of Greek myths in the English (or whatever) language, immensely readable; indeed, better reading by far than most of the stuff in the bookshops ... but you won't have Ovid.

After the Metamorphoses, I would regard the next two Funniest Books Ever Written in any language (I suppose in my pompous way I really mean 'Which I have ever read') as The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh; and Zuleika Dobson  by Sir Maximilian Beerbohm. Here I have a question of terminology, of jargon, in which I ask help of Englit specialists.

The Loved One begins with a meeting of two Englishmen for whisky and soda at sundown in a distant and barbarous land; against a background of the dry sounds of summer, the frog-voices, the grating cicadas, and the ever-present pulse of music from the neighbouring native huts, they take their ease. In the days of Empire, they are the counterparts of numberless exiled fellow-countrymen.

Except ... that this isn't quite the whole picture.

Back to Oxford In Summer Time ... In Zuleika Dobson, the beautiful Zuleika drives the entire appassionato male undergraduate body of the University of Oxford to mass suicide by drowning in the River Thames. What more proper (and more literary) than that Keen Remorse should then drive her to join them in their Watery Fate? So ... "And Zuleika? She had done a wise thing and was where it was best that she should be. Her face lay upturned on the water's surface, and round it were masses of her dark hair, half floating, half submerged. Her eyes were closed, and her lips were parted ... what to her now the loves that she had inspired ...".

Except ... that this isn't quite the whole picture.

I say no more. My lips are sealed. I refuse to spoil these exquisite works of comic genius (in combination with Death) for those literary virgins among you, who, fortunate souls, are privileged still to have the opportunity of coming to them fresh and undefiled.

I suppose that this device is a rather baroque outworking of the topos which we Classicists in our dim prosaic way call the para prosdokian. But I feel sure that you Englit specialists, hot as ever from the perusal of Frank Kermode, will have a more spot-on technical term for it.