30 November 2015

Newchurchier days

I have just read, on the blog of His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson, Bishop of Broadstairs in partibus infidelium, the following revelation about the Novus Ordo Mass: "by a devout priest its ambiguities can all be turned in the old direction". He also demonstrates that "clearly not all consecrations of Novus Ordo bishops and ordinations of Novus Ordo priests are invalid either".

Woe and alack the Day! The Church was taken from us and became 'newchurch'; the SSPX was stolen and became 'newsociety'; now that Williamson has himself emerged from his chrysalis revealed as 'newwilliamson', whither will the faithful remnant turn?

S Andrew and the British Ordinariate

A very happy and holy Name Day to all those splendid people - you know whom I mean! - whose Patron Saint is S Andrew!

You don't need to be a Scotsman to have a devotion to S Andrew. His cultus is embedded also in the history of English Christianity in a way which goes back to the Roman origins of our Liturgy even before S Augustine had arrived off the shores of Kent. And it is most happily bound up with those heady days when England, after the Henrician schism, was reconciled to the See of S Andrew's brother.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (I very much hope that its Sunday proper lections will one day be authorised in a Supplemental Optional Lectionary for the Ordinariates), gives, for the most part, the same Sunday Collects, Epistles, and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V. But the Reading and Gospel for the Sunday Next Before Advent (taken, like most such Prayer Book material, from the medieval Sarum Rite) were, unlike the other Epistles and Gospels After Trinity, quite different from those in S Pius V's edition of the Roman Rite. Not because they are some sort of Protestant jiggery-pokery; they are thoroughly respectable lections offered to us by Tradition; they go back to the earliest Roman lectionaries, the Comes of Wuerzburg and Murbach.

The old Gregorian Roman and Prayer Book Gospel thus provided contains the John 6 account of the Miraculous Feeding, which is not only suitable as an eschatological meditation on the Messianic Banquet, but also gives prominence to S Andrew. I wondered if this is one reason why that pericope got selected; it was chosen at the time when the Sunday readings in the 'Green' seasons often reflected the themes of adjacent great festivals.  And S Andrew is, in the authentic ancient Roman Tradition, a very major solemnity indeed; an all-night vigil was held and the 'Leonine Sacramentary' offered three Masses in addition to the Vigil Mass; possibly because of S Andrew's closeness to S Peter?

The English Church, so laudably permeated by Romanita in its early days, perpetuated this 'Andreian' bias. The 'Leofric Missal', before it made its way to eleventh century Exeter and then, at the Reformation, to the Bodleian Library in this University, started its life as the working book of the Archbishops of Canterbury and has been thought by its (immensely painstaking) most recent editor (Henry Bradshaw Society 1999-2002) probably to have been copied from books brought from Rome to Canterbury by the Augustinian Mission. In its provision for the Consecration of Churches, this book appears to reflect a situation in which S Andrew is having a great many churches dedicated in his honour (i.e. it incorporates a prayer specifically relating to just this one Saint). And in fact, the percentage of 'Andreian' churches in England is well above statistical expectation. After all, S Gregory the Great named his great monastery on the Caelian Hill (from which S Augustine and his fellows came) after S Andrew, and it was pretty certainly he who added S Andrew to the Libera nos [he is absent from the pre-Gregorian form found in Stowe]. Very happily and appropriately, our new Ordinariate Missal, now all of two days old, restores the S Pius V form of the Libera nos, with its prominent reference to S Andrew.

What a shame that the modern Roman Rite has so very little respect for this 'Andreian' tradition. Not least because not only is S Andrew the Patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and of several Orthodox countries; in Kiev, where tradition has it that S Andrew planted his wooden Cross, there now stands one the world's baroque masterpieces, the great Church of S Andrew (now a Cathedral of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church). Closer to home, his Feast was the splendiferous, coruscating day in 1554 on which Parliament begged Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary to intercede with the Legate, and Cardinal Pole reconciled this Kingdom to the Unity of S Peter. It was also the day, in 1569, when Frs Peirson and Plumtree reconciled the diocese of Durham to Catholic Unity and sang High Mass in that amazing Cathedral, once the Northern Powerhouse, as Mr Osborne would say, of the Palatinate.

Unity Day!! A day, surely, to gather ones right-thinking friends, at least in spirit; to stoke up the fire and to line the bottles up; nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus. And so many toasts to polish off! Duty calls!

29 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (8)

Advent Sunday! And a new start! From today, the Ordinariate Missal is authorised in all three Ordinariates. The formal authorising document, signed by Cardinal Sarah (who is reported to have commented "Why can't we have something like this?"), makes clear that it is granted by virtue of faculties conferred on the CDW by the present Sovereign Pontiff the Holy Father Pope Francis. So, just as the post-Conciliar Missal is known as the Paul VI Missal, so, for the rest of time, this Missal will be the Pope Francis Missal! When everything else about Bergoglio is, sadly, completely forgotten, by this he will be remembered!  Exegerit monumentum aere perennius!

Viva il Papa! Viva Francesco! Vivant omnes!

Mark Pattison (2): Problems of Concelebration

Mark Pattison did not confine his uncomprehending contempt to women and papists; anybody who seemed to him to stand in the way of his own boundless self-esteem aroused his helplessly intemperate verbal malevolence. In 1851, the Rectorship of Lincoln College in this University came up for election. Pattison inevitably and with total certainty knew that he was the obvious candidate. Here is his infuriated reaction to learning that another Fellow, John Calcott, also proposed to offer himself. (I should explain to those who are not of the Patrimony that in those days common Anglican Eucharistic practice was for the Celebrant to stand and kneel at the North End of the Altar, and, if there was another priest or deacon assisting, he was at the South End.)

"As I stood opposite Calcott at the altar-table on Sunday, I could not help a feeling, very untimely at that place, that I should be supposed to be engaged in competition with such a snubby, dirty, useless little dog."

You could do worse than read Pattison. I have not laughed so much on turning the pagers of a book since, so long ago now, I read Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall for the first time. For once, the pastiche of Pattison's style confected by Mgr R A Knox (Let Dons Delight, Notes to Chapter VII) is, yes, very funny, but not funnier than the reality (ht to the erudite Sue Sims for the Knox reference). Could any satirist ever have imagined that even a self-obsessed bigot like Pattison would give away his own interior corruption quite as obviously and risibly as in the above sentence?

28 November 2015


I am reprinting here (with its original thread) a piece I wrote last spring; in which I made a proposal very similar to a suggestion which, unknown to me, was being made elsewhere ... see the thread ...

I know it's a bit long, and rambles. The essence of it is the bits in bold print.
 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 utter, utter, 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.  

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 (extremely ordinary) Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister! The freedom just to walk around your Merciful 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!

27 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (7)

The artwork in the Ordinariate Missal is black and white. If you look carefully enough, you will see the initials 'MT' somewhere on most of it. Those initials take one back to the triumphalist all-conquering glory days of the Movement in the 1930s, and to an Altar Book called The Anglican Missal. If 'MT' doesn't give away the identity of the artist (1886-1948), how about these lines from the end of a poem by Betjeman:

"Yet, under the T*****s baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
The bells and banners - those were the waking days
When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.

Other blogs, or news

(1) "Most blessed, most glorious" ... I refer of course to Fr Ray and his  "unresting unhasting" Blog ... "Almighty, victorious, thy great name, Father Blake, we praise". A marvellously amusing post about a visiting bishop who nearly got his face 'filled in', as the Gruffer Classes might put it, by the angry husband of one of Fr Ray's parishioners. Ah, the Pastoral Life ...
(2) NLM has a most interesting piece (when is the doyen of all liturgical blogs ever not interesting?) on Cardinal Wiseman's tomb in the crypt of Westminster Cathedral ... I tried to enter an enquiry in the Comments, but I am no good at any of these technical things ... no good, my wife would say, at anything ... the inscription is given as " ... primus archiepiscopus Ecclesiae Westmonasterius ...". Presumably a mistake for "Westmonasteriensis" ... is the mistake attributable to the stone mason or the transcriber?
(3) Dr Dawkins is being cited as being a champion of the Church of England's (thwarted and censored) wish to bring Prayer into Cinema advertisements. What he said was actually to the effect that it is silly to be offended by "something as trivial as a prayer".

Here, I suspect, rather unusually, everybody's favourite atheist ... if you think about it ... may have got the last laugh!

Mark Pattison (1)

If you want an unbelievably amusing read ... a thoroughly unintentionally amusing read ... I commend the autobiography ("Memoirs of an Oxford Don") of Blessed John Henry's contemporary at Oxford, Mark Pattison, later Rector of Lincoln College in this University. At one time a fervent High Churchman and admirer of Newman, he did not follow Newman into Full Communion; instead, he ended up slipping into what looks like the most liberal kind of Deism.

He is one of the most delightfully and naively self-opinionated fools, fools prejudiced (for example) against women and papists, known to History. Most ludicrously comic are his accounts of those whose theological convictions moved in a direction opposite to his own. Here he is writing about a female relative: "This girl early developed a masculine understanding. It was a dominant and urgent element in her constitution ... ... speculative ability ... ... perseverance in learning ... ... she taught herself Latin, Greek (which seems incredible), Italian, German, Mathematics ... ... command over the range of history, ancient and modern, that I have never known in anybody since ... ... I have known some of the wittiest, the ablest, and the best read men of my time [of course you have, Mark, of course you have], but I do not exaggerate when I say that this woman at about thirty-five was a match in power and extent of knowledge for any of them ... we corresponded upon books, upon everything we thought or read, from as early a period as I remember, she leading and I following ... "

Sadly, however, and, to poor Pattison, incomprehensibly, the girl became a papist ("her perversion preceded that of Newman")! Pattison's account of this admirable bluestocking concludes with these hilarious two sentences: "[She and her mother] lived about a great deal in Italy, etc., afterwards, and had every opportunity of seeing the seamy side of practical Catholicism; but my cousin saw it not. Can such a wreck of a noble intellect by religious fanaticism be paralleled?"
More fun later.

26 November 2015

Nostra aetate

I have just carefully reread, for the umpteenth time, Nostra aetate. Some points, which I make in the Bergoglian spirit of Parrhesia.

(1) I am sorry if the following upsets some 'traditionalist' readers; but: the Conciliar document Nostra aetate seems to me thoroughly well-judged.

(2) Anyone who asserts that: its text in any way implies that the Prayer for the Jews which the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI himself composed as recently as 2008 must be considered either
          (a) erroneous, or
          (b) not fully compliant with the words and spirit of Nostra aetate:
is as guilty of mendacity as he/she is of disrespect to a learned Pontiff.

(3) Accordingly, the views recently expressed in the name of the CBCEW are, so it seems to me, so flawed as to constitute a skandalon. The skandalon is made all the worse because of episcopal involvement in both the original 'Resolution' of the CBCEW; and the 'Note' published on November 24.


This piece is from October last year.

 Writing in the aftermath of "the [2014] Synod", Professor Roberto de Mattei, perhaps the greatest Church historian of our time, wrote "Judgement, with its resulting definition of truths and condemnation of errors, is the jurisdiction par excellence of the Vicar of Christ, supreme guardian and judge of faith and morality".

These wise observations instantly put me in mind of some words of a man who had soaked himself in the history of the first Christian centuries, our own Blessed John Henry Newman:

"[I]t is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of doctrine. And it is an objection which I embrace as a truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift."

I feel supremely comfortable with these words; and I note that Newman is making exactly the same point as that advanced by Professor de Mattei. I have no problem with the idea of a pope who keeps anathemas under his camauro. A pontiff who issues a Syllabus of Errors seems to me a pontiff who is earning his paycheck. When Pio Nono, with the assent of Vatican I, issued his admirable negative, "The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by his revelation they should reveal new teaching", I would have applauded. Three cheers for the author of Pascendi Dominici gregis. Cardinal Ratzinger's insistence that the Pope is but the humble servant of Tradition had me raising my glass to drink his toast. (Indeed, during that glorious Pontificate I was rarely sober.)

Newman went on to write with approval about the the lack of creativity among the early popes: "The Church of Rome possessed no great mind in the whole period of persecution. Afterwards, for a long while, it has not a single doctor to show". The Roman Church and its bishop, long before the concept of Conciliarism was even a glint in the eye of the Emperor Constantine, were bulwarks against error, barriers against the brilliant and innovative theologians who dazzled the intellectual world, and whom we now call heretics; but those early popes were not mighty teachers. S Leo? Even he, Newman points out, was but "the teacher of one point of doctrine". S Gregory? He "has no place in dogma or philosophy". The great orthodox thinkers, writers and and preachers, the men who directed and influenced Councils, who ex consensu Ecclesiae are now its authoritative Fathers and Doctors, mostly lived far from Rome and, in many cases, were not even Bishops.

Let me put my cards on the table. The Papacy, as Dix loved to emphasise, existed before Councils, and it gave many of its greatest services to Christendom before the "Conciliar period". Its service as a remora against innovation has operated, in our own time, outside Councils and without didactic brilliance. Humanae vitae was not a great document; it was not full of the splendid and moving tropes of the inspirational teacher; it was more important than that. It simply held the line against developments which were destined to subvert the entire structure of sexuality hardwired into human nature. And its promulgation was done, against the advice of his very own Commission of Experts, by a pope whom his predecessor had described as not a little amletico.  (One might also mention his Mysterium Fidei, reaffirming Trent and putting down errors like 'Transsignification'.) Similarly, Ordinatio sacerdotalis lacks any explanations whatsoever. It just makes clear, with a terseness and brevity which cannot often have been equaled in Papal documents, where error lies.

These two Papal interventions are more important than all the wordage of Vatican II. Because, unlike much of Vatican II, they do engage with, and judge, errors which were getting around and did need to be judged. "Judgement is the jurisdiction par excellence of the Vicar of Christ".

When B Paul VI condemned Contraception, and S John Paul II the attempted Ordination of women, this was the selfsame Papacy, acting in precisely the same way, which gave Marcion the brush-off when he turned up in Rome in the 140s with his proto-Nazi claptrap. The condemnation of Marcionism is not weakened by the fact that it rested on no "Conciliar Mandate", or by the complete absence of any brilliant teaching document issued by some wonderfully clever Roman Pontiff.

Very occasionally, a Pope is, in addition to being Pope, also an important Teacher. One thinks of Innocent III, Benedict XIV, Benedict XVI. Thank God for such rare and glorious exceptions, such uncovenanted coincidences. But they are not what the Papacy is about. At base, the Pope is the (life-saving) man who goes around sticking into the ground the notices which say BEWARE OF MINES.

That is what Pope Francis, like all his predecessors, is for. If he were ever to ask us, in his direct and unpompous way, "Hey folks! Who am I to judge?", our answer would be "YOU ARE THE POPE!!!")

25 November 2015

Ordinariate Use (6)

Mgr Lopes has just spoken of the "Ordinariates, born from the rich Patrimony of English Catholicism". I think many of us will thank him for the understanding way he speaks unambiguously of our background as "English Catholicism". No hesitant or disdainful circumlocutions! I imagine his studies in the tradition of the English Missal have enabled him to understand this.

The Mass of OL of Walsingham, quintessentially the product of "English Catholicism" (Fr Henry Joy Fynes Clinton being the chief midwife) will, I hope, be much used within our Ordinariates. As well as serving for September 24, it can of course be used as a Votive when not impeded by the rubrics. In the Ordinariate Missal, votives are lawful, at public Masses and pastorally for the good of the people, on weekdays and even on compulsory memorials in Advent. So you could use this superb Mass for the edification of your people and in order to foster their sense of Ordinariate identity quite often ... even during the first eighteen days of Advent.

(By the way: if you want to be using the 'traditional' options, where options are provided, use the first choice you are offered.) 

Anglican Patrimony ... two bits!

(1) New Liturgical Movement has a very good illustrated piece about a reprint of Enid Chadwick's (1902-1987) sparkling illustrated exposition of the Church's Year, My Book of the Church's Year. NLM says (I couldn't possibly comment) how much better it is than any similar ostensibly 'Catholic' book for children.

Walsingham pilgrims will know that Enid Chadwick was largely responsible for the decorative scheme of the splendidly numinous (Anglican) shrine at Walsingham ... murals, reliquaries, heraldry .... Her style is by now, delightfully, old enough to have a retro charm!

(2) My Eugepae!! piece elicited a comment from Mgr Edwin, Bishop emeritus of Richborough, that Patrimony isn't only Liturgy. He's absolutely dead right. Whenever I get an opportunity to preach, lecture, or read a paper, I ensure that it is dotted with the Anglican writings and insights of Newman, Pusey, Keble, Jalland, Dix, Knox, Mascall, Farrer, Lewis, Sayers ... you fill in the aposiopesis! Much healthier stuff than ... er ...

And not least, I use the satirical writings of that famous Protonotary Apostolic Ronald Knox; to whom I myself turn to be cheered up when I am a trifle depressed ... as I seem to be now ... I wonder why .... Yesterday, I came across this:  
"Facts are only steam which obscures the mirror of Truth."
It is attributed to a prelate Knox mentions from time to time, not, I think, always with much approbation, the Bishop of Much Wenlock.

Personally, I don't feel I ought to spend my Old Age Pension (or even Pam's) on Crockfords or the Catholic Yearbook, so I can't check whether this Pontiff is Anglican or Catholic (somehow I don't think he's Orthodox). Readers may be able to provide me with an appropriate hermeneutic of discernment.