31 August 2009

CONCILIAR ELEPHANTS and SSPX

Sometimes facts are just too big to see. I think the position of "Ecumenical Councils" in the Church is a fine example. We had Vatican I, which gave us a dogmatic definition of Papal Primacy and Infallibility. We had Vatican II, which, as episcopal shop-stewards comfortably explained to us, "redressed the balance" by saying some rather wonderful things about Episcopacy. But we have never had a Council which went properly into the theology of Ecumenical Councils. Throughout Church history, there has beem more than a tendency for 'Conciliarism' to be a political weapon of power-groups in Christendom anxious to down-play the role and status of the Papacy or the Local Church or both. We had that in the late Middle Ages; that committed Conciliarist Henry VIII was not above playing the 'Council' card; and Byzantine Orthodox use it as an argument against Papalism and an alibi for their own lacunae in the area of Magisterium. They always seem to be on the point of having a Council but never quite to have it; non-Orthodox might be forgiven for suspecting that they dare not actually have a Council because it would reveal too starkly the fault-lines in their own community. So, in theory and in terms of their liturgical commemorations, Councils are highly important ... but there hasn't been one since the Seventh. I know there are historical reasons which would have made it difficult for them to have a Council; but it remains a plain fact that their conciliar rhetoric and theorising seem out-of-sync with reality.

There is little Biblical evidence for Concilarism. The Council of Jerusalem is sometimes cited; but S Paul seems so unaware of its status and authority that the first two chapters of Galatians leave biblical scholars wondering whether he is actually referring to it or not. If he is, it seems that S Peter had forgotten about it, or perhaps understood its decrees differently from S Paul. As for the Ecumenical Councils of the succeeding centuries, some of them, as Joseph Ratzinger once pointed out, were such a right old mess that one wonders if they did more good or harm. I have some vague recollection ... perhaps readers can fill my gaps ... that in some cases we are not quite sure what degrees they did pass ... if they did ... And that same Joseph Ratzinger wrote very critically about the post-Vatican II notion that the combination of Council+Pope is so potent that it can do more or less anything and ride rough-shod over Tradition.

This is where we Anglican Catholics can help. Dom Gregory Dix pointed out, in 1938, the ad-hoccery which lay at the basis of Conciliarism.
"The Council of Nicaea is a landmark in the history of dogma, and it is no less so in the history of Church institutions and law. But it is essential to remember that its contemporaries hardly saw it in that light. After ages could revere in it the first and most august of a whole series of Ecumenical Councils, all divinely inspired for the infallible vindication of fundamental Christian truths. But Nicaea came before the Christian world of its own day with no background of theory concerning the infallibility of "General Councils" as such (such a thing had not even been dreamed of in pre-Nicene times), without precedent or even any real preparation of Christian opinion, and without ... any clear and universally accepted theory of the binding nature of any Conciliar authority in matters of belief or practice.In pre-Nicene times Councils were an occasional device, with no certain place in the scheme of Church government. The local church under its bishop might be expected to give weight to a Council's decision, but acceptance and carrying out of that decision was still not so much a duty as a matter for the local church itself to decide.
The ultimate effect of Nicaea was decisive in more than one direction, but for the moment it did not look as though it would be so. A century later it has become "the great and model synod" ... but in its own generation local churches which were unconscious of any presumption did not boggle at emending out-of-hand its dogmatic symbol for their own purposes - what of those unknown persons who constructed our "Nicene Creed" out of the Council's Symbol, omitting the ek tes ousias tou Patros ..."

I hope to return to this.

30 August 2009

De Galaretta?

So: is Bishop de Galaretta to lead the SSPX 'team' in negotiations with the Holy See? Not unnaturally, the blogosphere is alive with speculation about whether the SSPX 'team' will make mincemeat of the CDF, or vice versa. I don't think this is quite where we are.

Last year, Rowan Williams pointed out that the problem in 'dialogue' can sometimes be whether each of two sides even have enough common language to be able to disagree. Take Abortion. On one side, the discourse is all about the Woman's autonomy. On the other, about the immorality of terminating innocent Human Life. There is no overlap between the two discourses; hence there can be no dialogue. Discussion can only consist of the blindfolded shouting "Where are you Moriarty" and trying to whack the blindfolded. Or consider the question of the Ordination of Women. Its proponents are concerned with the question of Equality. They do not really think that traditionalists believe in Equality or are even aware of the question. A few years ago, a C of E Commission put together the Rochester Report, which even-handedly described the arguments on both sides. Bishop Nazir Ali naturally assumed that this would be the start of a big debate on the subject. So did Forward in Faith; a group of us wrote Consecrated Women, in which we attempted to address the theological, anthropological, and cultural issues involved. Naive fools, we were surprised that nobody 'on the other side' read our book (except, perhaps, for about three people, two of whom was Rowan). The determination of the feminists to rush ahead meant that nobody read Rochester either; and it looks as though the realisation of this was a big factor in the growing disillusionment of the Bishop of Rochester with the Church of England.

In the SSPX/CDF dialogue, if SSPX merely try to demonstrate that some of the wording of Vatican II formally contradicts some of the statements of the pre-conciliar Magisterium, they will have won hands down. They will have won, that is, in terms of their game, their discourse, and their victory in the cosy forum of their own minds will be useless. But, for progress, what each 'side' needs to discover is a common language; a circumscribed area of discourse in which they are actually both talking to each other.

I do feel that this dialogue will be an important one for the intellectual integrity of the whole Western Church, and also for Ecumenical relationships among Traditionalists both RC, Orthodox, and Anglican. So, although I know it annoys some readers that an Anglican should be pontificating about things that aren't his business, I intend to do so. I urge RCs who think this is all nothing whatsoever to do with me just to ignore these posts, rather than writing irritably to point that out.

29 August 2009

Errata

As we enter the last three months of the current ORDO, I repeat, for those who may have missed it, a list of Errata I posted some time ago.
Roman Psalter Weeks:
page 56= week 3
57= 4
65= 3
66= 4
67= 1

Benedict XVI

I expect readers will have read, via NLM or Fr Zed, about the report required by and submitted to the Sovereign Pontiff last spring by the CDW. Naturally, there has been frantic discussion in the blogosphere about whether the Holy Father should issue ever fiercer directives to the episcopate compelling them to enforce obedience to the legislative norms with regard to Liturgy, or whether he should continue his apparent policy of attrition; of brick-by-brick; of good example.

I feel rather torn. On the one hand, I think it is important to recall, and to explore the logical consequences of the fact, that Benedict XVI is Bishop of Rome, and that 95% of what we are talking about (5% being Milan, Toledo, etc.), is the Roman Rite. Happily, the new Anglophone liturgical books, instead of the word Sacramentary, will have ROMAN MISSAL on their spines. If the Bishop of Rome is not entitled to say how the Roman Rite should be done, who, I wonder, is. Certainly not that dreadful von Trautpersonn, who (have you read via Adoremus the 'Hansard' account of the discussions in the American RC Bench of Bishops?) seems to be having a lot of trouble realising that he is Yesterday's Man. Requiescat in pace. It certainly looks - touch wood - as if our Holy Father has a good chance of frustrating his last-minute desperate campaign to delay authorisation of the new ICEL translation until The Next Pontificate.

But, on the other hand, I recall the Summorum Pontificum controversies. Many of the doctrinaire liberal bishops lost any residual sense of balance and behaved so outrageously that Our Chaps called for clarifications, which indeed were at one point said by a very high curial Cardinal to be imminent. Something had been drafted and lay upon the Pope's desk for a long time ... until, apparently, it was quietly buried. Surely, Benedict realised that if the matter were left, the EF would bed down naturally; that off-message bishops would gradually (die, retire, or at least) calm down and realise that a ferocious Armageddon of liturgical reaction was not about to drop onto their dioceses. I think he decided that his Project would work better if the EF found its natural level and then developed and ... with modest but deft assistance ... grew ... organically!

And as far as the Reform of the Reform is concerned, I supect Pope Benedict realised that the liturgical directives of the previous pontificate (tot them up; I'm not going to list them all) had, in themselves, achieved very little among those who were ill-disposed (while being welcomed with frenetic enthusiasm by Sound Chaps who didn't need any such advice). Remember Joseph Ratzinger's conclusion, a decade or two ago, that however academically and mystagogically preferable versus Orientem was, we couldn't afford to disrupt the present habits of the Faithful too radically and too abruptly. And who can deny that the quiet but high-profile setting of a good example by the Roman Pontiff himself has achieved decidedly more, organically, than the legislative nagging of the last regime.

On balance, I'm willing to accept that the Sovereign Pontiff is a clever and holy man and that what I surmise to be his policy is, given the state of the Universal Church as he found it upon his Election, the way ahead which is most likely to achieve results. As you look back at how much of the ethos has changed in five years, don't you agree?

28 August 2009

Errr ..

I see Fr Zed has repeated his former error to the effect that those nearby should be able to hear the secreto parts of an EF Mass. Not so.

Cor ad Cor loquitur

The other day the magazine of the Society of Mary arrived - full as usual of spiffing pictures of processions with Bishop Ladds and Fr Rowlands and others wearing heaps of those simple unaffected garments for which we Anglican Catholics are so famed (a shop inscribed "Iyaaz: Halal Meat and Poultry" in the background) . And a couple of very nice old photographs; including one, 1934, of a procession moving down West India Road (shops inscribed "Players Navy Cut" and "London Stout and Ales: Billiards Room and Smoking Lounge") with little girls carrying a banner of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And the same Immaculate Heart reappears in an fascinating article about Mr Newman (auctore F A L Vilna of the North West Ward). As he related years later to Dr Pusey, on August 22 1845 [Pusey's birthday, Octave Day of the Assumption], Newman first "saw his way clear" to put a Miraculous Medal round his neck.

The phrase reminded me rather of how Archdeacon Manning, six years later, did not say his first Hail Mary until he had formally resigned his archdeaconry and walked across the bridge to say his prayers in Southwark Cathedral. Marian devotion seemed a dividing line in the sense that, however one's theological views might have developed, it somehow didn't seem right to do certain things while one was still 'eating the bread' of the Established Church. August 22 was some weeks before that rainy evening when Newman threw himself at the feet of the dripping and steaming Fr Dominic Barberi and began his two-day long General Confession. Clearly, on that August day, Newman saw himself as having turned a corner. I wonder if it could be anything to do with the fact that (he was already familiar with the use of the Roman Breviary) he had just celebrated the Octave of the Assumption with its Marian readings at Mattins (rather more of them in the 1840s than in the circa1962 Breviary).

The author makes the fascinating suggestion that the Cor ad Cor loquitur of Newman's motto referred to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary as they appear together on the back of the Miraculous Medal.

You can join the Society of Mary even if you are not fortunate enough to be an Anglican by emailing membership@societyofmary.net

27 August 2009

Vincent Nichols

I was impressed by VN's piece on the Extraordinary Form. Despite Tablet trouble-making, what he said was a careful, accurate and sensible distillation of what the motu proprio said and meant. Take, for example the bit near the beginning where he said that the Training Week was owned by the diocese of Westminster and put on with the help of the Latin Mass Society. That is exactly right as a balanced combination of everything the mp said and of the Holy Father's assurance in his letter to his Venerable Brethren that their supervisory role in Liturgy remained intact. It seems clear to me that Archbishop Nichols is a main-stream Benedictian, if that's the right word, loyalist.

I was intrigued by his insistence that the OF should also have an honoured place even in a week's course devoted to teaching the EF. I don't think this is a cheap "I'll show who's really boss" dodge. I would not be in the least surprised if he followed it up by insisting, in some generally OF event, that the EF should also have an honoured place. Similarly, since he says there is no place for those who call the OF deficient, I give him credit for being very likely to say, in a future and different context, something sharp about those who slag off the EF.

More broadly, I think that this could mean that if our Holy Father does something for Anglican Catholics, VN would accept what the Pontiff decreed, think positively and carefully about it, and endeavour to fulfill the decree acurately, and completely ad mentem Summi Pontificis.

I pray that I am right. If I am, well, you can't want more than that.

Buttons

Can someone with an historical turn of mind explain to me why popish priests, on the rare occasions when they don a cassock, do not have the correct number of buttons down their soutane?

26 August 2009

Canon Law: the question.

In Summorum pontificum, our Holy Father makes clear in the first Article that any priest may, without any permissions, say a Private Mass whenever he wishes in the Extraordinary Form.

Does "Private Mass" have a legal meaning in terms of the legislation surrounding the current post-conciliar liturgical texts? Or in the current Code of Canon Law?

Does the term "Private Mass", when applied by legislative documents (such as a motu proprio) to the EF, mean what it meant in the official documents of the age when the EF was the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, back in the days of the great Rubricians, the era of O'Connell et al.?

If so, which of the eight different meanings found in those documents does it point to? Or, when there is a lack of specificity in a legal formula, does the subject of the law have the right to the least constricting of the possibilities?*

For Info: O'Connell gives these definitions of "Private Mass", with footnotes pointing to the legislative basis which each has. I simplify:
A Mass in a private place
A Mass neither High nor Sung
A non-conventual Mass
A Mass neither Sung nor Conventual
A Mass not of obligation
A Mass detached from the Liturgy of the Day (e.g. the Palm Sunday Procession)
A Requiem neither sung nor conventual nor 'privileged'
A Votive, whether High, Sung, or Low, celebrated for a cause which is not public and grave

* This sentence is the question which I am most interested in having an informed answer to.

Hippolytus again

Yes, my post on the "Eucharistic Prayer of Hippolytus" was somewhat gung-ho, and I have some sympathy with the reader who said that words like (my) "Everyone agrees" inspire him to consider a contrary approach. Likewise. To be told that "Modern Scholarship" has a particular consensus does remind all right-thinking people of all the nonsenses which, over the years, various academic establishments have demanded that we accept on faith.

I would also agree that Paul Bradshaw does have an agenda of his own. But what I feel it is very important to emphasise is the uncertainties surrounding "Hippolytus". I am far from sure that Ap Trad can be certainly known to be by a Hippolytus who, as an early "Antipope", claims he is giving, and really is giving, the liturgical tradition of "his", id est, of the Roman, Church. I am unsure who really wrote it; what his status was; whether it represented the Tradition of a particular Church or what some shadowy writer thought ought to be its Tradition; whether (if it really has some sort of relationship with Rome) it is the Liturgy of the Roman Pontiff himself or of some other grouping within a pluriform Roman Church; whether the text as we have it is a reliable witness to the liturgical Tradition which might be recoverable from what might be identifiable as the earliest stratum of that text.

In view of all this, I feel that the way the liturgists of the Sixties rammed "Hippolytus" down our throats is itself a scholarly consensus which we do very well to view with immense suspicion. This text is not something which deserves such enormous respect that whole liturgical traditions have to be reconstructed to conform to it. It is a very interesting but highly suspicious text best left to scholars to amuse themselves with, and not to be imposed on congregations. When I recall that in the modern RC Church the "Hippolytan" Eucharistic Prayer has, de facto, become the normative Prayer, on Sundays and weekdays, all over the world (or am I wrong about that too?); and that in the C of E "Hippolytus" is used as an alibi for Eucharistic Prayers which have an 'epiclesis' after the Institution Narrative; I feel that something is decidedly askew.

Piltdown Man, well before the 'forensic' scientists exposed the fakery, had become suspicious because he increasingly failed to fit into growing amounts of new evidence about the evolution of our species. Likewise, I feel that "Hippolytus" is very hard to fit into the emergence of what we have as the Canon Romanus. The consensus seems to be that "H" is to be dated to the first half of the third century. How exactly did this Ape evolve (in Liturgy, an area given to the preservation of the archaic) into a Prayer the text of which was, in my opinion, pretty well settled in if not before the time of Leo the Great?

[Mazza, 1995, The origins of the Eucharistic Prayer; Driscoll, 2003, Theology at the Eucharistic Table; are books which do offer a different perspective to that of Bradshaw].

25 August 2009

Missing Votive

Yesterday morning I tried to find, in my 1950 Missale Romanum, the lovely old Sarum Votive In Gratiarum Actione pro Reditu Cinerum. But in vain. Was it eliminated by S Pius V? If so, was it because of that Pontiff's well-known and irrational prejudice in favour of Australians?

[I think it would, on the whole, be best if Americans don't try to work out this post.]

Canon Law

The Anglican Clergy (or, more specifically, the Anglican Catholic Clergy?), as everybody knows ... well, to be specific, as the Anglican Clergy know ... are ... no ... were the best educated, most learned in the world. I correct my tenses, because nowadays priestly formation in the C of E has taken a nose dive. The financial mismanagement ... the stock market misjudgements ... the sale of valuable property at the bottom of the market ... has precipitated a financial crisis in which clergy, and clergy training, can no longer be paid for. Laity may say the the old prayer "God give us priests, give us holy priests", but the bishops pray "God, give me fewer priests, give me cheaper priests". The ordination of the almost entirely untrained, often the retired who have a solid income, and especially of women at a loose end who've mislaid a husband or two along the way (so many women in irregular unions fancied themselves as priests that the rules were changed) and feel like a hobby activity, preferably one which will give them an excuse to interfere in other people's affairs, is now seen as the way ahead as far as staffing is concerned. Taking a young man from University ... especially a good one ... and giving him a thorough residential training and formation ... is the very last thing a Father in God has in mind, as he sits down with his generously configured bureaucracy to work out the next scheme for managing decline (these schemes invariably have incredibly sexy names like "Moving on in Mission and Ministry"; I'm collecting such titles and would be grateful for contributions ... genuine contributions ... remember, this business has gone beyond parody ... R C contributions would also be of interest).

Back in the Sixties, it took me seven years to attain the diaconate. Mods, Greats, Hon School of Theology, GOE, for those who know the old terminology; in other words, Latin and Greek language and literature; Ancient History; Ancient and Modern Philosophy; Biblica; Patristica; Moral Philosophy; Liturgy; Pastoralia. The last three of these years were in a seminary with a traditional daily structure: Mattins, Meditation, Mass, Lectures, Evensong, Social Time, Night Prayers, Greater Silence.

Roman Catholic readers will have noticed a particular lacuna in that lot: Canon Law. Traditionally, the Anglican clergy have not received a training in Canon Law; I know that RC clergy do, and that that is one of the big cultural differences between us. The usual RC practice of selecting bright young men for a fast track to episcopacy on the grounds of a doctorate or two in Canon Law is incomprehensible to Anglicans. Mind you, when I was in training the Anglican Canon Law had just been overhauled in the Primacy of an ex-Public-School headmaster called Geoffrey Fisher, who believed in Discipline and whose motive had been to put in place structures enabling bishops to suppress iniquitous activities like the use of the Roman Rite and the extra-liturgical cultus of the Blessed Sacrament. Such things as Canon Law were best put out of mind.

That is why my query this morning was going to be addressed to R C clerical readers, if there are any, because they know their Canon Law and most Anglicans don't ... but this proemium has overrun its natural span. The substantive query will have to come tomorrow.

24 August 2009

Piltdown Man

I have a lovely postcard which I bought when I was a keen little boy very interested in Science. It came from the Natural History Museum, and showed the skull which is the final glorious proof that Men are descended from Apes; the long awaited proof of Darwinianism: Eoanthopus Dawsonii, AKA the Piltdown Man, AKA the Great Hoax. If I had time to waste being childish, I'd pin it up with a picture beside it of the mighty Dawkins.

Liturgy has its Piltdown Man; the Liturgy of Hippolytus. Actually, I'm not being quite fair; Piltdown Man was a deliberate forgery; an attempt to prove a dogma for which genuine evidence was unkindly shy to show itself. Hippolytus is no forgery, but a genuine first millennium liturgical text.

But, everone now agrees, it is not by Hippolytus, nor was it a very early liturgy of the Roman Church. And Professor Paul Bradshaw has shown good reason the think that it is not nearly as early as had been assumed. Yet this text dominated the Committee-Liturgy reconstructions of the twentieth century. It provided the basis of the Eucharistic Prayer which is by far the most commonly used in the RC Church: Prayer 2. It was the model of the drafts which started to be considered in the Church of England in the late 1960s.

Gregory Dix was among the many taken in by it; although he was too fly to swallow the idea that really early liturgy had an Epiclesis of the Holy Spirit after the Institution Narrative (he concluded that this must be an interpolation into 'Hippolytus' dating from the fourth century, when notions of Epiclesis became popular in the East).

Hippolytus' became real politics in the C of E in 1965. The Liturgical Commission offered a draft Eucharistic Prayer which ran "Wherefore ... we offer unto thee this bread and this cup; and we pray thee to accept this our duty and service in the presence of thy divine majesty (note the echoes of the Canon: ... offerimus ... panem ... calicem ... hanc ... oblationem servitutis nostrae ... ... in conspectu divinae maietatis tuae ...). A year later they offered the explanation "this need mean no more than 'we put this bread and this cup at God's disposal', so that he may use them to feed those who receive in faith. It can, of course, be interpreted to mean something else; but it does not assert the fully developed doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It confines itself to the simple language of the first two centuries ... Hippolytus ... Irenaeus ... Justin ... Clement ... The use of the phrase is in line with the Anglican appeal to antiquity". But a tiny 'note of dissent' followed from one Colin Buchanan: "I reluctantly dissent ... Inquiry has shown that the phrase ... is unacceptable to many Anglicans".

In the decades which followed, Buchanan's eagle eye relentlessly spotted and vetoed (through the Evangelical block vote in Synods) any phrase expressive of the Eucharistic Sacrifice; not because he didn't want evangelicals to have phrases they dislike forced upon them - he just couldn't stand the thought that in a long list of alternatives, there might be just one on the menu which Catholics could use with a good conscience. He is still going strong and wrote a couple of articles early this year about the iniquities of those who use 'Melchizedek' talk (or use 'Melchizedek' Canons). I'm afraid I was one of his targets.

The poor bloke would go apoplectic if anybody pointed this out to him, but the main fruit of his long active life has been the unwillingness of Anglican Catholics to use Eucharistic prayers authorised by the Church of England. In the debate about the 1965 draft, an Anglo-Catholic representative from the diocese of Exeter, a plain spoken General, told the truth: "Many priests will not use this present service, and what could be more divisive than that?" How right he was.

Even 'Non-Conformist' churches use 'offer' language nowadays; after all, it is based on a diachronic and synchronic ecumenical consensus. But not Buchanan's C of E.

23 August 2009

SERMON

We ORDO makers tend to notice things that you common folk might not spot. Today, for example, there's something odd about the second reading. You heard a passage from Ephesians and you heard it because here we use the modern Roman Lectionary. So, for the most part, does the Church of England. But the C of E decided to make an "improvement" in the selection for today. It chose a different passage from Ephesians. I will remind you of how our reading began, and then leave you all with just one guess as to why the Church of England decided to omit it. "Be obedient to one another out of reverence to Christ. Wives be subject to your husbands". Nuff said.

Of course, there are jokey explanations. There is the old story about the wife who explained how her husband made all the big decisions, she just obeyed him and made a few small ones. "He decides whether the West should get out of Afghanistan and how to solve the banking crisis, I only decide where we live, how we spend our money, where we send the children to school, and things like that". It's a picture many married men might recognise. Indeed, it's a picture we find in the Bible. In Proverbs, the Prudent Wife apparently runs the whole household and the entire family economy. She provides food for her household; she considers a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard; she opens her hands to the needy; her household are clothed in scarlet and her own clothing is fine linen and purple; she manufactures garments and girdles and does deals with the merchants. And - while she's getting on with all that - what is her husband doing? What is his contribution to the family economy? One thing only is specified in the Inspired Text: "Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land". Notice the verb: "sits". I've often wondered whether Proverbs may have been written by a female satirist. The husband's sole job, apparently, is to be a figure of respect and awe among the other menfolk as they sit and gossip in their male enclave and put the world to rights while the women get on with doing. Perhaps one could suggest that this model of female "subordination" does have its intriguing aspects. Joking aside, what's really going on is that in the ancient world, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman, and in most premodern societies, men and women did have distinct roles; men in a public forum, women in the domestic; and in this context the notion of the wife as subordinated to her husband does have a decidedly different look to it than if the words are stripped of context.

I will leave you with two minor additional thinking points. Firstly: could it be in fact right that men and women should have distinct roles and live and act within discrete structures? - rather than acting as we do in our unisex world? Would a lot of people, possibly, be happier?

And, lastly - I think I got this from the Tale of the Loathly Damsel (AKA the Lady Ragnold) in the Arthurian Cycle - there is the idea that women are so very much the dominant sex, so naturally programmed to dominate their menfolk, that the only way of slightly redressing the balance and restoring some degree of equilibrium is to try to subordinate them structurally. And, of course, ....

No .... er .... I think I'll end my sermon there.

22 August 2009

Domina?

Around 700ish someone wrote a hymn about our Lady, Quem terra, pontus, aethera. It was subsequently divided into two and and thus provided a couple of Office Hymns for the Common of the BVM. The second half began "O gloriosa Femina". This was subsequently altered to "O gloriosa Domina", ["woman" changed to "Lady"] for reasons which are fairly obvious. Urban VIII's revisers changed it to "virginum" ["of virgins"]. They will have disliked "Domina" because the first syllable of that word is short, while this is a metrical hymn in which the first syllable of the word at that place in the line has to be long - as the first syllable of "femina" is.

(Never forget that the corruption of the Roman Rite began, not with Paul VI, not with Pius XII, not even with Pius X, but when, in the 1620s, Papa Barberini aka Urban VIII mucked up the ancient Office Hymns because he wanted them to sound more like Horace. This was the first example of the Roman Catholic Church adopting the "we've-now-got-printing-so-we-can-now-impose-our-latest-revolutionary-fad-almost-overnight-on-the-Universal-Church" syndrome which ultimately led to Bugnini. Protestants like Cranmer, of course, had seen the possibilities of this technology for liturgical devastation much earlier. Back to Pius V should be the traditionalist instinct. That is why, if you want to use English translations of the original texts of the Office Hymns as given in Sarum, Pius V, and the new Liturgy of the Hours, you need to use Anglican translations - done from Sarum by people like J M Neale - rather than RC translations by scholars like E Caswall.)

Vatican II rightly ordered that the text of the Hymns should generally revert to the original texts still for the most part found in S Pius V's original Breviary (not to mention in Sarum and the other medieval local dialects of the Roman Rite). Dom Anselmo Lentini's Coetus proposed, when dealing with the hymn we are considering today, restoring the original reading Femina [woman] on the grounds that " it seems to us very beautiful, since thus the glory of the humble creature raised to so great a dignity shines more brightly; moreover, Domina [Lady] spoils the metre ...". But at some point somebody decided that Domina ... even if unmetrical ... even if unoriginal ... had better go back into the text. I wonder who ... and do you agree with them?

Incidentally, the first part of the original hymn - what we know as Quem terra, pontus, aethera [Urban VIII changed aethera to sidera] - had a third stanza long since omitted, which Lentini wanted to reintroduce, but ... apparently ... here again he was vetoed by somebody. It went (I translate unmetrically):
"Therefore the ages wonder,/That an Angel brings the Seed [Lentini wanted to emend this to "That the Spirit overshadows her"]/ That the Virgin conceives by ear/ And, believing in her heart, gives birth." This, of course, gives a picture which relates to much medieval iconography of the Annunciation, where a piercing ray goes from the Father or the Spirit to our Lady's ear.

Speculate on the problems - and advantages - in that stanza!

21 August 2009

Rum things, Calendars. This...

... morning I would have liked to say Mass of S Pius X and to have prayed specially for the brethren of the SSPX, but I was using the EF, which provides otherwise. Come to think of it, so were the brethren of the SSPX, so they didn't commemorate Papa Sarto either. They and I will have to wait for September 3, which is S Pius' festival in the EF Calendar. But stay: that day will be, in the OF Calendar, the festival of S Gregory the Great, Patron and Solemnity in the Western (Ebbsfleet) District, a day when I shall be saying the OF Mass, and therefore keeping ........

The only solution I can think of is for Bishop Andrew to proclaim S Pius X also Patron of his Apostolic District, and for Bishop Fellay also to make S Gregory Patron of the SSPX and for the SSPX and the Ebbsfleet District to amalgamate (FSSGPX: Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sanctorum Gregorii Piique X) and to conduct joint negotiations with the Holy See.

If the cost were a agreement that we would all use the 1962 liturgical books, this is a sacrifice I would be prepared to make.

That's so obvious that I can't imagine why it hasn't occurred to anybody else. Come along, bishops. Digiti extrahendi.

Mediatrix ...

I am asked where liturgical formulae can be found for our lady Meditrix of All Graces. Happily, for Anglicans who are prepared to turn to the good old English Missal, you can find her in the Appendix of Masses Proper to England and Wales. This is because in Durham, Northumberland, the West Riding of Yorkshire, Herefordshire, and all Wales, this feast was on the Calendar of the corresponding RC dioceses (is it still on the Novus Ordo Calendars of those dioceses?). The date is May 31, except that in later editions of the English Missal, dating from after the institution in 1955 by Pius XII of the feast of the BVM, Queen, on May 31, the older feast of our Lady, Mediatrix, had to be shuffled onto June 1. The Mass can, of course, be said as votive any day when votives are permitted.

Happily, one of the Office Hymns of this beautiful Feast appears in the Liturgia Horarum. In the Common of the BVM, it is the hymn at First Evensong; and it may be used at the Office of Readings as an alternative to Quem terra pontus aethera. Its first line is "Maria quae mortalium". (Sadly, for those who say the Office in English, it is not available; one of the many hymns which ICEL decided not to bother to commission English translations of.) Its author is unknown; it first appears in nineteenth century breviaries.

The Mass was authorised in 1921 by Pope Benedict XV, and among the countries for which it was authorised was, I believe, Belgium. Does it still survive on the Novus Ordo Calendars of such countries?

Can I take this opportunity of pointing out that in the pre-Conciliar days, the Office Hymn at Vespers on feasts of our Lady was always (Rubricarius may correct me) Ave Maris Stella. This is even true of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady, Mediatrix. As the evening star appeared beside the setting sun, that was the hymn with which Latin Christians addressed her. It may have been Pius XII who infringed this convention by giving a different hymn for the First Evensong of the Assumption; but even he did not tamper with the Second Vespers to the extent of changing the hymn. That step was left for the clever-clogs of the Bugnini school.

HEUREKA!

I have found a grave error in a preconciliar liturgical book!

My Altar Missal is Dessain 1950. It must be late 1950, because for August 15 it gives the Mass Signum magnum. I had to paste Gaudeamus into it.

But, infra Octavam, it gives for the prayers of commemoration of the Octave our old friends Famulorum etc..

20 August 2009

The sacrosanctity of 1962?

Both SSPX and Summorum Pontificum are based upon the normativeness of the 1962 books of the Roman Rite. I feel some nuancing of this position needs to happen.

It is accepted that - for example - 1962 prefaces might be added to the EF. If Pius XI could add prefaces for the Sacred Heart and Christ the King to the Missal, it is not easy to see why Benedict XVI should not add prefaces for the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception. But I feel revision of details in the EF Order of Mass should not stop there. For example, the Rite of Communion should be gently tidied up to envisage a situation in which many masses include a communion of the people. And the the punctuation of the Preface should be corrected to "Domine, Sancte Pater, ...". But this morning I look at the Calendar and at festivals of our Lady.

Pius XII replaced the Octave Day of the Assumption with the Immaculate Heart, and put the Queenship of Mary onto the last day of the Mary Month of May, a day on which the Feast of our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces had previously been spreading, by indult, to more and more places. Paul VI put the Queenship onto the old Assumption Octave Day: in my view, a good move. The Queenship in Heaven of Mary is exactly what the Octave Day of the Assumption is about. But when Paul VI put the Visitation onto May 31, he made a big mistake. The original idea was that this festival should have as one of its themes the Mediation of our Lady - and one of the hymns provided by Lentini was worded to express this. But the idea never beddded down.

What we need is a calendar on which May 31 is the BVM Mefdiatrix of All Graces; August 22 is our Lady, Queen; and the Visitation goes back to July 2, an old dating with ecumenical implications about which I have posted before. The Immaculate Heart could well go onto the Bugnini date following the Sacred Heart; this fits in with instinct of Christian people for First Saturday Masses of this devotion.

That would be an 'organic' resolution of the present confusions.


19 August 2009

"Organic development"

Vatican II mandated that liturgical development be 'organic'. I suggest a touchstone for what is, or isn't, organic.

A change might be organic if you could just paste a newly authorised liturgical text, perhaps for a newly canonised Saint, into your Missal or Breviary ... and still keep using it. Or if it mandated revised Rubricae Generales so as to purge the Calendar a bit, so that you could use the old Books as long as you kept your eye on the ORDO.

Change certainly is not organic if it means you have to dump, as now totally unusable, your old Books, and shovel money at publishers to buy the new ones.

But - if readers are impressed by this definition - we will need a footnote to cover situations in which the Tradition was so badly ruptured a generation or so ago that one needs to be a bit radical (like the new ICEL texts) in order to pump out the bilge, get the ship on to an even keel, and put new parts into the engine, so as to get her under way again.

S Pelagius

In the late medieval glass in New College Chapel (you can't do much better than Oxford for late medieval glass; by the time the bastards had got the Reformation to stick in Oxford, the age of the Learned Georgian Antiquaries had arrived to preserve on the grounds of Antiquity what the Reformers would have destroyed on the grounds of Idolatry) there is a window with a figure wearing a papal tiara and carrying a cross, labelled "S Pelagius".

Can anybody throw any light on this?

Query

Does anybody know what modern scholarship holds about the authorship of Omni die dic Mariae? Was it written by S Bernard or S Casimir? Did Fr Faber translate any bits other than the first part?

18 August 2009

Good Lord deliver us

After the Quicunque vult, so you will discover, your Prayer Book has the Litany. But when, be you Protestant or Papist, did you last hear that said or sung in church or in procession? Yet Cranmer ordered it to be 'sung or said' three times a week.

Cranmer's Litany affords, as Cuming pointed out in his history of Anglican Liturgy, a superb example of Cranmer's mind at work, a mind which was a capacious repository of everything Cranmer had ever prayed, or heard, or read. Essentially his Litany is derived from the Sarum Litany but phrases and expressions and ideas break in from an extremely wide spread of sources within the Tradition of Western Latin Christendom. Except that it omits the Saints - a fault easily remedied - it is a scintillating summation and efflorescence of that Tradition. Yet we Anglicans so often fail to realise we're sitting on something good.

Its predecessor Litanies were used in ordinations, in Rogation processions for the crops, when processing the relics round the town ... The great Forty Hours Devotion - the Sacrament exposed for three days as a stimulus for prayer in times of great adversity - has the Litany at its heart. We used the Litany once a year before the whole College at Lancing, and I was always moved by the humbled silence of the student body ... not all of whom were always exempt from the temptations of adolescent self-consciousness ... as priest and choir moved round that great Minster Church of the Assumption and S Nicolas singing Cranmer's Litany to the old Sarum tones.

Once a year is not enough. Or, to be practical, Fathers, chopped-up bits of it go very well into Benediction.

17 August 2009

Assumption hymns

The post-conciliar revisers, in their first draft of the Hymnarium, proposed to offer a ninth century hymn, O quam glorifica, on Assumption day. It did not make it to the final cut, but it does appear in the new Office Book on August 22, the old Octave day, to which Bugnini transferred the Feast of Mary, Queen (at the same time ejecting the Immaculate Heart from that day onto the Saturday after the Sacred Heart). Interestingly, that hymn was, in the first millennium, a Proper hymn for the Assumption.

I do rather feel that combining the Queenship of Mary with her Octave day does have a lot to be said for it. I sympathise with the Marian frenzy of the pontificate of Pius XII - that sort of thing is rather fun from time to time - but his liturgists never had an over-all, holistic look at the arrangement of the new feasts he ordered to be put into the calendar. Even if Vatican II had never happened, a bit of sorting would have been in order in the next pontificate. Yes? They might have decided to make the old feast pro aliquibus locis of our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces, on May 31, a Feast of the Universal Church.

16 August 2009

Betjeman

We, who remember the Faith, the grey-headed ones,
Of those Anglo-Catholic Congresses swinging along,
Who heard the South Coast salvo of incense-guns
And surged to the Albert Hall in our thousands strong
With 'extreme' colonial bishops leading in song;

We, who remember, look back to the blossoming May-time
On ghosts of servers and thurifers after Mass,
The slapping of backs, the flapping of cassocks, the play-time,
A game of Grandmother's Steps on the vicarage grass -
"Father, a little more sherry. I'll fill your glass".

We recall the triumph, that Sunday after Ascension,
When our Protestant suffragan suffered himself to be coped -
The SYA and the Scheme for Church Extension -
The new diocesan's not as 'sound' as we'd hoped,
And Kensit threatens and has Sam Gurney poped?

Yet, under the Travers 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.

15 August 2009

Heady stuff

Well, last night I said the pre-1950 Mattins; and what heady stuff. The way the service starts with Assumpta est ... "Mary is taken up into heaven: the Angels rejoice ..." makes it seem as if you're back nineteen hundred years and someone comes dashing into the room shouting the exciting news. And the way this antiphon is repeated (likewise, the formula Exaltata est ..."The Holy Mother of God is exalted above the choirs of Angels to the heavenly realms") is just how it is when one has heard something transportingly wonderful and for joy one just cannot help continually iterating and reiterating it (which is why I love the Byzantine Easter with its incessant "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death with death, and, to those in the tombs, gracing Life"). By comparison, there is something schoolmasterly about the Bugnini first antiphon, with its downbeat and careful theological reminder that Christ went up first to prepare a place for his Mother. Paedagogues and Bugninis can kill anything.

Donnishness did not start with Paul VI's rite. The Office decreed by Pius XII in 1951 (doesn't change the antiphons but does) eliminate those wonderful First Nocturn Readings from the Song of Songs, and replaces them with Genesis 3 and I Corinthians 15, to instruct us on the Pauline theology with which Pius XII (quite rightly) associated the Assumption.

I think there's a whole Octave's worth of meditation in those old lections from the Song of Solomon (1:1-16), and the relationship of their imagery to our Lady.

A jolly nice and keen congregation at my 10.30 EF pre-1950 Mass. I suspect my Altar Missal must be one of the very few in the world into which the Mass Gaudeamus has been pasted!

Tomorrow, modern propers. In the Asperges I shall sprinkle them with water from Lourdes and, Deo volente, we shall sing "I'll sing a hymn to Mary" (who was the Fr Wyse who wrote it?) to the tune of the Eton Boating Song (an idea I picked up from the late and lamented Fr Melrose at S Giles, Reading). And, at the end, ""Daily daily ...". The spirit of Fr Faber and the English Catholic Hymn Book still flourishes at S Thomas's.

Assumpta est

The Western Church regards the old apocryphal stories of the death, burial, and Assumption of our Lady with suspicion; as being rather dubious and politically incorrect. Indeed, they are not canonical Scripture. But our ignorance of them means that we can see a medieval alabaster, or mural, of the Assumption - or a Byzantine ikon - and not have the faintest idea what some of the details refer to. I suggest that we revisit these stories, even if only to enrich our capacities in the field of Art History! Frankly, we should immerse ourselves in the Tradition.

Google your way to (ps) Joseph of Arimathea The Passing of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I am toying with the idea of blessing fragrant flowers during our Assumption Mass and placing them before our Lady. Brownie points if you can suss why the Tradition suggests that to me! And more brownie points for good suggestions - from the Tradition - of other ways to mark this great festival!

14 August 2009

Pius XII and the Assumption.

The simplistic notion that the Definition of 1950 regarding the Assumption of our Lady somehow constituted the imposition of a 'new' dogma is quite the opposite of the truth. Put crudely, rather than being Doctrinal Augmentationism, that Definition constituted Doctrinal Reductionism.

The first millennium texts common to Rome and Canterbury express a belief common also to the East: that Mary 'underwent temporal death'; that nevertheless she 'could not be held down by the bonds of death' and that the precise reason why God 'translated her from this age' was that 'she might faithfully intercede for our sins'. This is (ARCIC terminology) the 'Ancient Common Tradition', found in the Altar Missal of the Anglo-Saxon Archbishops of Canterbury (the 'Leofric Missal'), the faith of S Odo, S Dunstan, S Aelfheah, S Aethelnoth, S Eadsige and very probably of so many other archbishops of Canterbury stretching beyond Plegmund to S Augustine. She died and was resurrected. Authoritative, surely?

Yet this is not what Pius XII defined. His 1950 definition, as the ARCIC document on Mary accurately reminds us, does not 'use about her the language of death and resurrection, but celebrates the action of God in her.' In other words, Pius XII took a machete and slashed ruthlessly at the Common Ancient Tradition about our Lady's end, not simply by ignoring the apocryphal stories about how the Apostles gathered and what they found in the tomb and how S Thomas arrived late and all the rest of it; but also by pruning away even the bare structural bones of what Christians Eastern and Western had thought they knew: that she died and was resurrected.

The 1950 decree was not the imposition of some new dogma but the elimination of 99% of what the Common Ancient Tradition had for centuries asserted. Those whose instinctive disposition is to avoid speculation about our Lady's End ought to applaud Pius XII and the radical austerity, the innovative agnosticism, of his definition. He went almost all the way to meet them.

13 August 2009

Quaeritur

It caught my eye in my (English) Altar Missal: you know the collect A cunctis ... which used to be said so often as a commemoration after the collect of the day ... it has a rubric, all of course translated from the Latin, attached to it about the addition of the name of the Titular of the Church. At the end there is an abrupt note"NB in England the mention is always of S George".

Really? When and by whom was this direction given?

Assumptive fastings

A little while ago I made a catty crack about Orthodoxophile Anglicans who go a bit light on observing the traditional Byzantine fasts. Perhaps I could balance it by pointing out that Western Traditionalists have a similar question to answer. Why are we so shy of taking seriously all those vigils in the old Western rites, the days preceding festivals? The question might, for example, be put to members of the Prayer Book Society whether they observe the 16 fasting vigils which the Prayer Book orders to be kept in addition to Lent and Fridays. Keen devotees of our Lady might ask ourselves whether a new devotion for us to adopt might be fasting on the vigil of the Assumption. Easterners, as I observed before, fast for a forthight before the festival and in some places give a Lenten character to the Liturgy. In some places, the Eve of the Dormition is celebrated with a Service of the Burial of our Lady, based on the rites used in Holy Week to commemorate the Burial of our Redeemer. A Roman version of such a celebration is described in my ORDO.

In the old texts, that day seems sometimes to have a sense of alluding to her death as a prelude to her Assumption. It is well-known that Pius XII deliberately left undecided, in the definition of 1950, whether her Assumption was preceded by a death. But the tradition of both East and West strongly suggests that it was.

I have in mind the old postcommunion for August 14: "Grant, we beseech thee, O God, thy protection to our weakness; that we who celebrate the repose [requiem] of the holy Mother of God, by the help of her intercession may rise from our iniquities".

12 August 2009

Assumptive discontinuities

We are all a little more aware nowadays of the need for liturgical change to to be gradual and, as Vatican II put it, 'organic'. The present pontificate has made this perception one of its hallmarks. I do wonder how this applies to December 8 and August 15. In each case, a dogmatic proclamation led to the complete rewriting of the liturgical texts of two major festivals. New collects gave voice to the new doctrinal precision, and new hymns enhanced the whooppee, triumphalist, quality of the day. It could be argued that they reduced the Roman 'sobriety' of the liturgy. I particularly have in mind the hymns which Fr Genovesi composed in the Sapphic metre for Assumption day. The post-conciliar revisers, indeed, decided to reduce these to only one and to introduce two hymns by S Peter Damian. In doing so, incidentally, they ejected Ave Maris Stella, which even under Pius XII had survived as the II Vespers hymn. And they followed Pius XII in eliminating the more ancient perception of the Assumption (see my August 5 post): the idea that Mary was Assumed so that she could become Mediatrix of all Graces.

Frankly, I do not know what to make of this incessant juggling with tradition. I rather like the Pius XII office. It has a lovely gung-ho cheerfulness about it, redolent of the Marian confidence of the last years of that Pontificate. We can do with more of that confident spirit nowadays. But should I like it? This year, as it happens, a crafty dodge is available to the liturgically wayward. Since in England we are transferring the Assumption to Sunday 16th, it is possible to say the Pius V Mass and Office on the 'real' day, August 15, Saturday, and use the new Mass of Pius XII (more or less continued into the Novus Ordo propers) on Sunday.

11 August 2009

Is Fr Zed infallible?

Something on WDTPRS about whether the priest, when praying secreto in the EF Mass, should be audible. Fr Zed says that the authorities say that the server should be able to hear him.

Not what I was taught in Mass-practices in seminary in the pre-Novus Ordo days. So I looked in the Rubricae Generales and found that the priest should not be heard by the 'circumstantibus'; which O'Connell glosses as 'those nearby'.

Does anybody know whether there is any authority for Fr Zed's utterance? Or is it an example of how, when he is very busy indeed, even Homer nods?

Nearly Naked

I think my favourite Calendar is the one done by the Blue Biretta Brigade: the ICKSP. I have one in my study and one in my sacristy. BUT the August picture ... well ... it shows an almost naked Cardinal.

I expect better from them.

Nondum beatus?

According to the Calendar of the Church of England, today we have the choice of observing S Clare ... or John Henry Newman. In the modern Roman Calendar, S Clare rules OK; this is her compulsory memorial. So I suppose JHN will get pushed onto tomorrow? Incidentally, in the Old Calendar, S Clare is tomorrow, so I suppose JHN would appropriately occupy today. Unless - Rubricarius could put us straight on this - the day in S Lawrence's octave were to prove too prickly an obstacle. What tricky areas calendar and ORDO making are.

We have angelic doctors, seraphic doctors, and goodness knows what sort of doctors; when JHN is made a Doctor of the Church, qualis Doctor should he be called?

JHN ended his sermon on the Assumption by quoting:
"Her spirit is sweeter than honey, and her heritage than the honeycomb. They that eat her shall yet be hungry, and they that drink her shall still thirst. Whoso hearkens to her shall not be confounded, and they that work by her shall not sin".

10 August 2009

No Rumours?

Given the propensity of people to create rumours about what the Holy Father is going to do and when he is going to do it, I am surprised not to have noticed rumours that since tomorrow is the Year's Mind of Cardinal Newman, Rome will take the opportunity of telling us when the beatification will take place.

Expurgated

THE GOOD NEWS
One of the little luxuries one gets from the Divine Office is the days when, not confined to the Commons of Saints, one has antiphons proper to the day. S Lawrence's day is an example.

THE BAD NEWS
But the new Office Book is squeamish. We've lost that nice old antiphon to the Magnificat at II Vespers
While Blessed Laurence was being burned, stretched upon the gridiron, he said the wicked tyrany "It's just about done this side;turn it over and tuck in [assatum est iam, versa et manduca], as for the goods of the Church which thou demandest, the hands of the poor have already carried them off into the heavenly treasures".

Funny how our 'liberated' and 'uncensored' age has more hang-ups, and a greater tendency to bowdlerise, than allegedly less relaxed ages. I miss the antiphon on S Agatha's day with the lovely lingering alliterative Ms: He that hath vouchsafed to heal me from every blow, and to put my poor little breast back onto my chest [mamillam meam meo pectori], upon him do I call, the living God. And on Caecilia's day we've lost the antiphon which, by being slightly mistranslated, made her Patron of musicians: Cantantibus organis, Caecilia Domino decantabat ... (and notice the Cs and Ds here). [The ablative absolute 'As the organs were playing' was mistakenly taken to mean that Caecilia was playing them.]

Robbed of our heritage, that's what we've been.

THE GOOD NEWS
Following the mandate of the Council, the revisers brought into the new office some gems of ancient Christian Latin hymnography. Today, we get a cento from Prudentius, the classicising Spaniard who wrote around 400ish. He delightfully describes the Roman Martyr Lawrence as now a citizen of heaven and a member of the eternal Senate (curia) and as wearing the Corona Civica: the crown/wreath of oak leaves given to a soldier who had saved the life of a comrade in battle, but often included among the insignia of Augustus. Prudentius wrote at just the time when the Church in Rome was coming to a cultural consensus to present itself as the guardian and examplar of the old Romanita; it was around now that the Canon Romanus was revised in the style of the ancient pre-Christian liturgical formulae of the City (I plan some posts on this in September).

THE BAD NEWS
Those of you who say the office in English: ICEL decided not to bother you with the newly introduced ancient hymns in the Liturgia Horarum.

9 August 2009

Edith Stein and John Haycroft.

I invite those who have not read it to consider my post of August 1 about Edith Stein. I am not convinced that her present status is misguided, though I would agree that there is something very JP2 about the rapidity of her elevation from a mere beata to Patron of Europe.

John Haycroft was neither a woman nor a Jew nor a philosopher nor a martyr. He lived and worshipped in my parish. He was a college servant - what in Oxford we call a scout. He was the scout of soon-to-be Beatus Ioannes Henricus Newman. You see, my parish was the behind-the- green-baize-door part of gentlemanly, academic Oxford.

Haycroft never followed his master into full communion with the Holy See. But he also never forgot the lessons he had learned from ... whom? from Newman or from Canon Thomas Chamberlain (my distinguished predecessor who brought Catholicism out of the Common Rooms of Victorian Oxford into the ordinary parish church of a slum district)? Or from both?

As an old man, when Communion had to be brought to him in his own home (a Victorian terrace house which, mercifully, survived the slum clearances of the last two decades), he insisted on observing the Eucharistic Fast, and on having his little table arranged so the the priest who brought him God's Body was ... facing East!

August 11 this year, I suppose, could be the last anniversary of Newman's death before he is raised to the altars. I shan't forget the little manservant who felt so privileged to be able to listen to the discussions of Newman and his august friends. If the Sovereign Pontiff comes to Oxford to do the beatification, I will be glad to show him round S Thomas's.

8 August 2009

Frilford

Before their 2009 season came to a recent end, the University Archaeological Department were continuing to work on their enigmatic site at Frilford. I went down there and was shown around in footsteps of Professor Martin Henig and before a visit to the excavation team from the illustrious and still active Professor Sammy Frere ( there can't be many people who have moved on, as Frere did, from schoolmastering at Lancing straight to a fellowship at All Souls).

Palimpsest doubly palimpsested is about the shape of Frilford; the last layers being late Roman and early Saxon. There is the ubiquitous Romano-Celtic Temple; then, built c 340, an orientated building with a rectangular 'chancel' at both East and West and what I think of as a 'porticus' on the North. Not far away is what looks like a stone amphitheatre ... except that it collects water and seems to have been designed to do so (with a leat draining off to a nearby river). Am I barmy, or do we have here ...

7 August 2009

S Xystus and the blessing of the grapes

Through whom, O Lord, thou dost ever create, sanctify, quicken, bless and bestow all these good things upon us.
This paragraph near the end of the Canon can confuse people. They can take it as refering to the consecrated Elements upon the altar. But the language is highly inappropriate if the Sacrament is meant. The Blessed Sacrament is not Blessed Bread, like the Antidoron of the orientals or the Blest Bread of Medieval England. It is the transsubstantiated Body of Christ our God.

This paragraph originally concluded the blessing of substances brought to the Altar: such as oil on Maundy Thursday ... and beans on Ascension Day! Not that beans had a liturgical association with the dogma of the Ascension: it just happened that the bean harvest in Rome coincided with the Ascension (no, don't ask me how the bean-harvest fluctuated according to the varying date of Easter ... just don't go there ...). And the first grapes were available to be blessed on the feast of S Xystus!
Bless, O Lord, also these new fruits of grape which thou O Lord by the dew of heaven and the showers of rain and the serenity and quietness of the seasons hast deigned to bring to ripeness, and hast given them to our uses to receive them with thanksgiving in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom etc..

The Latinity is workmanlike, I almost wrote banausic, even gauche and gawky, with little in the way of rhetorical flourishes or theological sparkle. Roman, in fact, in its sobriety and earthiness.

I sometimes feel sad at the opportunities Bugnini and his collaborators missed. In their keenness to spend long hours inventing innovations ... such as new Eucharistic Prayers and lectionary systems yanked ex nihilo ... they rarely bothered to go for the organic development which the Council had actually mandated. They could have allowed local hierarchies to incorporate appropriate blessings at this point, and thus also have promoted genuine inculturation which yet was totally within the spirit of the traditional Roman Rite.

I wonder if it would be nice, on some feast in August, to bless fragrant flowers at this point in the Mass? Any ideas?

6 August 2009

The Battle of Belgrade and S Xystus

August 6; the Transfiguration; an oriental feast brought into the Roman Calendar by Calixtus III in 1457 to commemorate the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Belgrade in 1457 (rather as the Feast of the Holy Rosary commemorates the Battle of Lepanto ... what would we do without all those defeats of the Turks?). Late Medieval England developed a great devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, especially with the encouragement of the Lady Margaret, mother of Henry VII. So here in England, the following day became the Feast of the Holy Name. A good idea, in my view. We shall observe it at S Thomas's. Just as Corpus Christi needed to be extracted from Maundy Thursday and given the opportunity to be celebrated at a time not preoccupied with the progress of Triduum (call it duplication if you like), so the Holy Name can do with being extracted from the Christmas/Circumcision/Naming sequence and given space to stand alone.

What went under, what got lost in all this, was poor old Xystus. One of the martyr-popes in the Canon Romanus; the Pontiff whose own martyrdom preceded that of his own Archdeacon, S Lawrence, a few days later. The story is a poignant one: the arrest of the pontiff while preaching from his cathedra; his leading away to 'sacrifice to the gods'; his refusal. He was then brought back to be martyred at his own altar, together with two of his deacons; as he was being prepared for death, Archdeacon Lawrence said "Why do you abandon me, Father, you who never offer the Holy Sacrifice without your deacon?" "You will follow me in three days", said S Xystus. S Lawrence is one of three great patrons of the Roman Church; Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima being dedicated, as their liturgical propers demonstrate, to SS Lawrence, Paul, and Peter. Celebrating S Xystus on the 6th and S Lawrence on the 10th is both elegant and moving.

But we don't. The novel fad for confining one day to one theme led Bugnini to move S Xystus back off the Transfiguration (on the 6th) to the 5th and then to change his mind and move him to the 7th. I can only say that I consider this a great shame. What on earth is wrong with the old custom of keeping the Transfiguration on the 6th with a commemoration of S Xystus? He's much more likely to be noticed there than as an optional memorial competing for attention ... on the wrong day.

Tomorrow, a word about a curious custom which occured on his feastival.

5 August 2009

Assumptive collects

Forgive, O Lord the offenses of thy servants, that we who by our own deeds are not able to be pleasing unto thee, may by the intercession of the Mother of thy Son our Lord [God] be saved.

Thus a literal translation of the collect which, until Pius XII, was said on Assumption day; after the 1950 proclamation of the dogma of our Lady's Corporal Assumtion, it was replaced by a collect more explicitly asserting the corporality of her Assumption. Incidentally, the word [God] appears in earlier texts and I think it ought to have been readmitted by the revisers, firstly because now in the modern rite August 5 in effect commemorates the Ephesine proclamation that our Lady is Mother of God, and secondly because in this age of weakened faith we ought to lose no opportunity of hammering home the Godness, which is not a misprint for goodness, complete and unambiguous, of the rabbi from Nazareth.

Another reason why this collect might give pause for thought is its apparent assertion that we are 'saved' by the intercession of our Lady. A trifle (as Anglicans might put it) 'extreme'? I do think this needs unpacking. And so I would make two points. (1) Earlier tradition asks the question "why was she assumed?", and gives an answer quite different from that offered by some modern theologians (i.e. that being immaculate she was not subject to death). She was assumed that she might intercede for us. You will find this in a sermon of the great hesychast Father S Gregory Palamas which I offered a translation of some time ago. (Perhaps some kind person could check where that is in my blog. I'm not very good at that sort of thing.) This Eastern idea appears also in Western texts such as the Gregorian Sacramentary: "Great, O Lord, in the sight of thy loving kindness is the prayer of the Mother of God, whom thou didst translate from this present age for this reason, that she might effectually intercede for our sins before thee". "Let the help, O Lord, of the prayer of the Mother of God come to the aid of thy people; although we know that after the condition of the flesh she left this world, may we know that she prays for us before thee in heavenly glory".

And, (2), I feel we should give a broad sense to the word intercession. Yes, it means that she prays for us. But it also means that Mary came between (cessit inter) God and Man when by her fiat she gave birth to the Divine Redeemer. And, in Mary, function and ontology merge; she is eternally what she was in the mystery of the Incarnation.What she did at Nazareth and Bethlehem is what in the Father's eternal creative utterance she is. And so these two senses of 'intercession' are really one.

That is, surely, the root of the dogma of our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces.

4 August 2009

NEW LITURGICAL MOVEMENT: A CORRECTION

A recent article in NLM deals with Masses at which there is not even a server present. Needless to say, I dealt with all this on my blog quite a time ago. Read it first here. Mistakenly, NLM claims that the post-conciliar Missal makes no provision for Mass a solo. But Para 211 of the 1969 Instructio Generalis, amended by para 254 of the recent edition, prescribes the omission of the Greetings, Monitions, and Blessing.

Erroneously NLM suggests the omission of Greetings and Blessing when the EF Mass is said a solo. Somewhere - I think it is in his book The Celebration of Mass [I don't have it to hand] - O'Connell gives the rules laid down by the old Sacred Congregation of Rites for Mass a solo and it is quite clear that apart from the modifications listed in these decrees everything is to be said and done.

Assumptions

Tomorrow is the festival of the Dedication of the Roman basilica of S Mary, said to be the first Western church to be dedicated to our Lady (she tended to lose out in the dedication stakes because church buildings often took dedications from the martyrs or saints who might be buried in them. For some reason or other, nobody has ever even thought of forging relics of the Mother of God.) Its dedication occurred in the aftermath of the declaration in the Council of Ephesus that Mary is theotokos.

The new liturgy provides, for tomorrow, a collect which, in the preconciliar rite, was the collect for Assumption day. I plan to post on its history and theology tomorrow. For the time being, I suggest we treat its appearance on August 5 as a hint to prepare for Assumption day. I suggests it should put into our minds the propriety of keeping novenas in preparation for the Assumption. And the same collect is offered in the new rite as one of the options for the Saturday celebration of our Lady. My own custom is to use it on Saturdays and Marian votives between now and the Octave day of the Assumption.

Here is another suggestion which I offer to a limited constituency: those Anglicans with a gut anti-Romanism that expresses itself in flourishing little details of Byzantinism: "We're not Romanisers but we are traditional Christians and we do celebrate August 15 but we call it the Dormition." Remember: genuine Byzantines (and Oriental Christians) prepare for the Koimesesis by a fortnight''s fast in honour of our Lady. Do you? Put your belly where your rhetoric is!

3 August 2009

CONCELEBRATION

Today I decided that I would concelebrate the Funeral Mass of Fr Michael Melrose, Vicar of S Giles, Reading. My reasons were: the Mass was presided over by our Bishop, Andrew, Bishop of Ebbsfleet. It seemed appropriate to join with Bishop and sympresbyteroi in the eucharistic Farewell to a departed sympresbyteros, a fellow member both of the presbyterate of the Universal Church and of the presbyterate of the Ebbsfleet Apostolic District.

Readers will be aware that I am less than enthusiastic about the post-conciliar fad for incessant concelebration, accompanied as it is by a disuse of the priest's own daily Mass. The two factors that influenced me today were: the episcopal presidency; and the koinonia in sympresbyterality which, with my fellow presbyters, I shared with Fr Michael, in and through our joint corporate membership of Bishop Andrew's Presbyterium (I had, incidentally, already said Mass in S Thomas's).

And it wasn't just theologically right; it felt right. It was a last expression of collegiality - no, drop theology, friendship, with a dear friend, a learned priest, a caring pastor. Fr Michael represented all that is best about Anglican Catholicism: its commitment, its erudition, its love of God in the glory of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the guardianship of our blessed Lady. We are no mean people; the Church of England may be anxious to exterminate and humiliate us; the English Roman Catholic hierarchy may be suspicious of us; but we are the friends of Laud and Kenn, of Pusey and Keble; of Walke and Wason. God has been good to us; we have treasures which no other corner of Christendom possesses; whatever God wills for us now, his splendour has been seen and loved among us. May Fr Michael rest in peace and glory; may he pray.

2 August 2009

Drip drip drip

It must have been a schoolmaster that wrote the Quicunque vult. A parson couldn't have written it; parsons address their docile congregations Sunday by Sunday and are often complimented and sometimes disagreed with: each of these phenomena conceals the brutal fact that they aren't actually understood. It is the schoolmaster who smiles contentedly as the students leave his study or seminar room, happy in the sure and certain knowledge that he has just had one of the best, most learned, most interesting teaching sessions of his life ... only to discover, when he reads the essays or marks the examination scripts, that the group falls into two groups: two thirds of them, who clearly hadn't the faintest idea what he was talking about; and the other third, who did understand, but have forgotten it three weeks later. Or do I mean one week?

The parson feels the need to make sure he never bores the folk by saying the same thing twice. If you preach what is essentially the same message ... just dressed up a bit differently or put the other way round ... clearly they will notice your repetitiousness. So you don't. And that means that the poor people never get anything straight. Because with humans you just have to lay it out as simply as possible, elementary stage following elementary stage, and then just keep repeating it. Drip drip drip. And a few years later a few might start to grasp a bit of it. This is the truth that teachers find out very fast.

Cranmer may, as a good Protestant, have disapproved in principle of 'vain repetitions' but he had a dash of the schoolmaster about him. He understood drip drip drip. Not so Bugnini. So Cranmer ordered that the 'Athanasian' [pace Bishop Fellay, it wasn't actually written by S Athanasius] Creed should be used once a month, but Bugnini, mechanically following the suggestion of the Council that repetitions should be reduced, expunged it from its last toe-hold in the Liturgy of the RC Church.

Just try reading it. You'll find it after Evensong in the Prayer Book. "Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal. And also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet there are not ..." Yes; even Bloggs Minimus, your most gamma minus student, will be starting to get the point. Drip drip drip.

'It's unsophisticated. People won't put up with being condescended to in this patronising way'. You can perfectly understand why the Modern Parson, and the Modern Liturgist heave a sigh of relief as they shovel Quicunque vult into their rubbish bins; something that Pusey and Newman, Aquinas and Benedict XIV weren't ashamed to recite prayerfully and humbly as they said their office. It is my impression that most modern clergy are either Unitarians or Modalists, and that what is worse is that they are do unwholesomely pleased with themselves about it.

The omission of QV from the Office of the clergy, for nearly two generations now is, in my view, one of the main causes of the de facto total disintegration of Trinitarian belief in Western Christendom. We've lost that Threefold drip drip drip. But there is another such loss, which presbyters of my advanced generation will recall: the use of the Preface of the Holy Trinity on most Sundays of the year ... the Green Sundays, Advent, and the Gesimas [since SSPX are a tadge fundamentalist about not letting the books of 1962 be tampered with, why do they use proper Prefaces in Advent? are they the same ones as the OF offers?]. Of course, when one uses repeatedly a liturgical formula, one does not think profoundly about the fulness of the sense of each phrase every time one says it. But ... drip drip drip ... it becomes part of you. Drip drip drip.

1 August 2009

Maccabees

In the old rite, we remembered the Holy Maccabees today with a commemoration - the seven pre-Christian Jewish brothers whose martyrdom, described in II Maccabees 7, reads so much like a preview of the acta of the Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire.

There is no strictly theological reason why we should not celebrate the saints of the old covenant liturgically; we claim, after all, to be in continuity with the Jewish faithful remnant who did accept their God and Messiah. The practical reason why we do not have more 'Old Testament' saints in our calendar lies in the the origin of our Sanctorale in the cult of the martyrs: they were celebrated liturgically where their bodies were venerated (see my words about S Polycarp on July 11). But I believe the Carmelites, before the Council, kept S Elias (Elijah, for my Protestant readers) on July 20. I wonder if they still do.

Interestingly, the post-conciliar revisers of the Calendar have left us an account of their thinking. I translate [my italics]: "The memoria of the Holy Maccabees, although it is extremely ancient and almost universal, is left to particular calendars: until 1960 only their commemoration happened on the feast of S Peter ad vincula; now indeed August 1 is the memoria of S Alfonso and, according to the rubrics, another memoria cannot be kept on the same day". The revisers know that this commemoration is of immemorial antiquity and amazing universality; they feel embarrassed and sheepish about abolishing it; they can't think of any defence to make, except to appeal to their own novel man-made liturgical dogma (which is out of continuity with the traditions of both East and West) that you can't combine celebrations. The totalitarian inflexibility of innovators!

The Maccabees, of course, did not then bear witness (martyrein) to Christ but to the divine covenant under which God had placed them then. But their liturgical commemoration by us does not imply the new error that Jews now, after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, are left outside his gracious call to share the redemption and the new covenant which he, the incarnate Torah, brings to all mankind without racial distinction. It would not now be possible for a Jew to be deemed one of our martyrs because of an exclusive act of obedient witness to the old Torah and not to Christ. But there are theological consequences to be drawn from the cult of S Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the great Jewish Christian woman philosopher killed by the Nazis and one of Europe's Patrons (whose festival this year on August 9 is sadly obscured because, under the ferocious post-conciliar rubrics, Sunday Masses exclude any mention of saints classified as mere festa). She was killed not because of an explicit refusal - as far as we know - to renounce Christ, but because her murderers hated Jews. Many wondered whether she would be beatified qua martyr. I seem to remember that nobody knew what answer he would give to this question until John Paul II emerged to celebrate her beatification Mass in red vestments.

I would be interested to see the implications of this teased out.

[Her first propers did not describe Edith Stein as a 'virgin'; the present ones do. Was it just yet another of their mistakes by incompetent Vatican liturgists, or did the matter indeed require research? If so, how was it researched?]