31 December 2009

Ashmolean Museum

Well, it's open after its major refit and rebuild. Goodness only knows how many extra galleries. Except that it isn't really open, because two of my favourite galleries, the Roman and the Casts Galleries, aren't yet ready. And I've got a nasty suspicion that the great majority of the Greek vases is now hidden away in storage.

And what a disappointment, for the country's oldest museum to be so dumbed down. What a disgrace that a collection belonging to one of the world's greatest learned communities should manifest persistent illiteracy. When I am shown an ivory ?Viking crosier head, I expect to see more on the label than a Primary-School-style invitation to fantasise on the carved animals. It's like that now. Except that actually finding any labels at all for a lot of exhibits is terribly difficult. And if you do find a label for any exhibit which has a Eucharistic connection, you will find the Eucharist referred to as 'Holy Communion'. This is very unlikely to do more than confuse the unchurched reader, who may not readily understand why a picture of a Monstrance holding a wafer for 'Holy Communion' was painted over by Protestants. He will have been told either too little or too much. And I suspect he is plain misinformed when told that the design cut from the top of an amnos is from bread used in 'Holy Communion'. If that amnos was consecrated, it was presumably cut up and immersed in the chalice, not given to a tourist.

The same illiteracy extends to sexual matters. A Greek vase showing one of those common scenes described by the late President of Corpus, our own dear Sir Kenneth Dover, as "intercrural intercourse" is explained to Jo Public in terms of a Pedophile and a Victim, thus ignoring the historical and social nature in its own context of the exchange portrayed in favour of irrelevant modern stereotyping. (It was just near there that we were swept aside by an angry mother who was explaining to a tiny girl, who looked all of two-and-a-half, that "Women had no public role in ancient Greece". Honest: those were her exact words. For so many people Antiquity is indeed a very strange country.)

It's yer whiggery everywhere; Butterfield never lived. History is shoved into your face according to the preconceptions of a certain school who imposed their patterns on it after it had all happened. Take the "Oxford" gallery. Most of the wall on one side is a time-chart. And on that we learn about the Foundation of Duke Humphrey's Library ... but not that the Protestants gutted it and burned all the books. About how Henry Tudor founded Christ Church ... but not about the destruction of the five grandest buildings in medieval Oxford: Oseney and Rewley Abbeys and the Houses of the Black and Grey and White Friars. About Cranmer and Ridley and Latymer being burned, but not about how Oxford's brightest and best under Elizabeth Tudor had to slip away to foreign seminaries and upon their returns were horribly executed (at least the modern memorial in the University Church decently lists indiscriminately all those who died in the Reformation turmoils).

I could go on. Ashmole has the best Minoan collections outside Greece, because of the contributions of Sir Arthur Evans (the excavator of Cnossos). The old gallery was arranged by Evans himself. You might have thought that his arrangement could have been reproduced, as being a significant cultural construct in its own right.

The best room is probably the ground floor gallery with the Arundel marbles ... more or less as they were before the interior decorators struck. My hero Menander is still there.

Go to the Pitt Rivers if you want to see a sensitively restored museum.

29 December 2009

Fun with Dr Dawkins

A contingent argument follows ... if the pope's itinerary does, as rumours have suggested, include Oxford and the giving of a lecture there, and if it were suggested that representatives of the University took a formal role in welcoming him to the apices somniantes, the prospect might make Dr Dawkins the Barmy Biologist superbly, delightfully, hopping mad.

Fingers crossed and pray hard.

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He is fantastic, isn't he? But ... rather like characters in Dickens ... just that bit too exotically overdrawn for plausibility? Any suggestions as to other authors who might have invented him, or story-lines which he might have graced? Or ways of enjoying him even more?

E Breviario Sarisburiensi lectoribus doctioribus antiphona proponitur

Salve, Thoma, virga iustitiae, mundi iubar, robur Ecclesiae, plebis amor, cleri deliciae. Salve, gregis tutor egregie, salva tuae gaudentes gloriae.

I thought docti readers would appreciate the very elegant jingles of alliteration and assonance ... not heavy and plodding like Ennius, but quite Neoteric or Virgilian. The word-play 'gregis ... egregie' seems to me to span the chronological and cultural divides between Ovid and the author of the Akathist Hymn.

Mementote hodie parochi una cum populo Ecclesiae S Thomae Martyris iuxta ferriviam.

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Yes, I thought you would quibble about ferrivia. But it's what the Vatican Lexicon recentis Latinitatis gives.

28 December 2009

Holocausts and the Holy Innocents

Not long ago, at Sunday Vespers in the Oratory, the pews in front of me were filled with swarms of little girls and a boy or two; that is, a young couple with six small children. I felt quite outdone; Pam and I only managed five ... and we aren't often outdone.

I hope the young woman has a sympathetic Catholic GP. When we were proli-fic in the '60s and '70s, the medical profession already got very heavy-handed with women who entered upon four or more pregnancies - even if the women concerned were highly intelligent graduates who might be presumed to be capable of thought and of rational decision. I just hate to think how dirigiste this overweening (do I mean bloodthirsty?) profession must by now have become.

Among the things one notices if one holidays annually in Ireland is the sight of people with Down's Syndrome. It is no more remarkable to see them in the streets than to see, say, a West Indian or someone in a wheel-chair, in Britain. When you get back to Blighty, the streets seem suddenly strange because there aren't any. Then it dawns on you why there aren't any. Rather as, just after the cattle trucks had rumbled off to the East, it must have been strange ... and then disconcerting and very frightening ... to wander round a German town and see no Jewish faces. Ugly, isn't it, that the role performed in Nazi Germany by Gestapo or SS is performed in Britain by members of Caring Professions whom we each of us have to visit, especially as we get older, for our aches and infirmities. If anything, ours is a spookier ... well, let's be frank ... an even more evil society ... than Hitler's; one in which the Evil has dug its roots even deeper than it had in his Germany, because it is internalised among more people and more groups and more classes and more structures; and has been so manipulated that, far from being concealed, it is publicly appauded by our Media; and because the killing is, by a Diabolical masterstroke, disguised as Caring and performed by men and women whom we take for granted to be gentle. And yet, throughout my ministry, I've felt that I ought to discipline myself not to mention abortion too often in sermons lest people decide I am fixated on only one thing; or lest I traumatise women who've had abortions. How evil does infect us all.

Spare a prayer for brave young women who embark upon a willed pregnancy and have to face some medical bully. Spare more prayers for those put under enormous pressure to have 'tests' to see whether their 'foetus' is 'abnormal'. Find some more prayers for those who are assured, by kind and sympathetic people who only want to help them, that it would be wholly irresponsible to encumber the world with a Down's Syndrome human being. And don't forget, in your prayers, those other victims; the women who have already been deceived and seduced into complicity in the killing of their own children.

27 December 2009

Tablets all round

A kind friend has shown me three old Tablet articles on the Apostolic Constitution. Gracious, what bile! And not, apparently, any old nonsense about the 'Enlightenment' ideal of giving a balanced space to opposing opinions.

I was intrigued by the name Nicholas Lash. It rang a bell. When I was a young priest in Buckinghamshire, back in the 1960s, a notion got around that I was a bright and clever and up-and-coming young C of E priest. "There's a RC just like you just down the road", people said. "Two such bright young priests should meet up". This bloke's name was, I am pretty sure, Fr Nicholas Lash. Could he be the same one? We never did meet.

Since Lash doesn't seem to have a "Revd" attached to him, there must be a story here. Is he what we used to call, in the happier and more innocent days of the Irish Church, a 'spoiled priest' - i.e. one who had run off with a woman?

If so, our stories contrast. I, mindful that Holy Order was a diriment impediment to matrimony, took care more Byzantino to get married six weeks before the Diaconate. I'm still married and I'm still a priest, thanks be to God for his grace. He, on the other hand ...

But perhaps it's not the same person at all.

26 December 2009

GREENERY

Being Ecological is all the rage. I sometimes feel tempted to put together a Traditionalist list of Things To Do To Save The Planet. Follows a ragbag of random thoughts dashed off in note form, and in no particular order, inviting comments and contributions.

Divorce/broken families mean that there are more households guzzling energy: Mrs Smith and the children in the house; Mr Smith in a flat somewhere. Outlaw divorce and tax punitively separation.

Fasting and Abstinence: much food is consumed; much meat consumed (which means more cereals used growing meat). So: Pius V and Prayer Book rules on Lent, Fridays, Vigils.

The bathorshoweraday culture means the consumption of energy cleaning water and heating it. Chemicals used? Tax them; and also the chemicals produced to 'hydrate' the skin which the chemicals and the washing have dried out.

When I was in teaching I gathered that the women students washed their hair every morning ... and then again in the evening before setting out to socialise. Manufacture of chemicals? purifying water polluted by chemicals? Ecological consequences of the "You're worth it" culture? Tax the shampoos, and the chemicals which are advertised as repairing the damage the shampoos have caused, in the sort of punitive way nicotine is taxed? (What are 'conditioners'?)

Cut back the endless socialising of the urban young with its economic and ecological cost (and temptations to immodesty) by returning to a once-weekly outing with approved suitors ... and back by midnight.

Discontinue public funding and resources for unnatural medical and surgical interventions: plastic surgery; IVF; 'transgendering' ...

25 December 2009

Unique?

On Christmass Day here in S Thomas's, there was one Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and one Syrian Liturgy in the Mallalam language. No a whisker anywhere of the English language, or of Common Worship, or of the Novus Ordo. We were an entirely Enlightenment-free and Protestantism-free zone.

I wager there's no other Anglican church in the whole wide world that can better that.

I wonder about cross-fertilisation. Can anybody make a suggestion about how we could incorporate use of the flabella with which we are now equipped into the Roman Rite?

The author of the best suggestion gets made an Honorary Fellow of this blog. Unfriendly suggestions about where I can stick the flabella will be deleted.

24 December 2009

Ave Maris Stella

In the English Catholic Hymn Book [try the Search machine on this blog for earlier references] and in the form of Vespers of our Blessed Lady, published by the Society of SS Peter and Paul, a translation is given of Ave Maris Stella which begins Star of ocean fairest/ Mother, God who barest ...

This appeared in 1904 in a volume called Songs of Syon, edited by a priest called George Radcliffe Woodward (1848-1934) . Woodward served at Houghton S Giles near Walsingham; he and his wife were buried at Walsingham; so he looks rather like a bit of Walsingham's Catholic pre-History, from before Year 1 of the Hope Patten Era. Like many Anglican Catholics - even papalists such as Fr Fynes Clinton and Fr Hope Patten - his ecumenical breadth spread beyond the Catholic West to Orthodoxy; he produced a translation of the Akathist Hymn (this aspect of the Patrimony is also something which we should not lose).

Star of Ocean Fairest was itself the work of the Revd Thomas Isaac Ball (1838-1916), who held a number of Scottish curacies, was for many years a leading member of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and became Provost of the College of the Holy Spirit, Cumbrae (a theological College within the Scottish Episcopal Church - at one time, a distinctly 'Catholic' province of the Anglican Communion). He had in 1863 translated a number of Latin hymns for the Appendix to the Hymnal Noted of S Alban's, Holborn (I wonder if Star was one of them? Does anyone have a copy?).

I suspect that Athelstan Riley's version of Ave Maris Stella, which is the version offered by the English Hymnal (and its bastard progeny The New English Hymnal), was an attempt to produce a slightly toned-down version of the original, in the hope that it would be easier for the 'Mainstream' to use.

I am in no way hostile to Athelstan Riley, a great character who played a distinctive role in the completion of Lancing Chapel and more or less created a magical little Catholic hamlet called Little Petherick in Cornwall. I have published a couple of things on him, and regard him as having been a close companion for forty years. But I do wonder if Ball and his translation of Ave Maris Stella might be a lost fragment of the Patrimony, ripe for recovery.

The English Catholic Hymn Book contains within its little green covers quite a lot of such fragments.

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Dr David McConkey kindly provided information for this post.

23 December 2009

Preaching coram Sanctissimo

It is a matter of great satisfaction to all right-thinking people that the English RC Church is increasingly recovering the extra-liturgical use of the Blessed Sacrament in Benediction and Exposition. I hope mention of one detail will not seem grudging.

I have seen Benediction which is interrupted after O Salutaris for a sermon. To my Anglican temperament, it seems highly inappropriate that the Blessed Sacrament, exposed in the monstrance, should be unregarded while the congregation sits down and attends to a homilist. O'Connell shares my instinct; sermons, he tells us, are discouraged during the Quarant'Ore although they may be tolerated if they are about the Eucharist. And he emphasises that it is unseemly for people to turn their backs on the Sacrament.

The old Anglo-Catholic practice was Evensong, Sermon, and Benediction. If it is desired to have a sermon at Benediction on its own, would it not be best to have it before the Sacrament is exposed? And, to give proper dignity to the Proclaimed Word, could not a passage of Scripture be read before the homily? Preceded, perhaps, by In nomine ... and Dominus vobiscum?

22 December 2009

ARCIC

New ARCIC is to discuss: "fundamental questions concerning the Church - local Church and universal Church - understood as Communion, and on the way in which the local and the universal Church can, in communion, discern just moral teaching".

How very admirable. It facilitates a discussion on the very topical question of the relationship between local and universal, which is not only relevant to the problems of the Anglican Communion and the problems between the Anglcan Communion and the RC Church, but was also the subject of that rather acrimonious spat between Ratzinger and Kasper not long before the Conclave. Although there is something a trifle surreal about using ARCIC to get involved in a difference of opinion between a reigning pontiff and one of his senior Cardinals!

And it enables frank discussion to take place about ethical questions which some Anglican provinces have deemed to be within the power of their provincial Autonomy to decide.

I recall, perhaps as long ago as the 1980s, writing an article arguing that, if Rome had any sense, she would require ARCIC, instead of picking over sixteenth century disagreements that comparatively few people care about, to engage with the newly emerging areas of disagreement, particularly 'life' issues and sexual matters.

Apparently I do get listened to in the end. Or is it just Great Minds ...

21 December 2009

Climate Change and the Holy Rosary

Heard some fool on the wireless saying that Climate Change is totally obvious; "You only have to look out of the kitchen window to see it". I promptly looked out onto a frozen scene and entered upon a discussion with Pam about whether it was sensible for her to set off for Sussex. Not that I'm a Global Warming Denier or anything as wickled as that. I just wish I could See a bit more of what, in obedience to the scientific Magisterium, I devoutly Believe in - after all, this is S Thomas's Day - without being able to See. Or feel.

Comments on a recent post rightly point out that the earlier history of the Mysteries of the Rosary was quite flexible and fluid*. Very true. What I think was a little unfortunate about the Mysteries of Light was
(1) there should be 150 Aves, not 200, because the Rosay is (and in medieval texts is usually referred to as) Our Lady's Psalter; and
(2) JP2's initiative complicated the traditional distribution of the Rosary over the days of the week.

Nevertheless, I do say them from time to time ...'for a change' ...

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*On appropriate days I say this five: Immaculate Conception; Nativity; Presentation; Espousals; Annunciation of our Lady; or these of S John Baptist: Annunciation to Zachary; Visitation of our Lady; Nativity of S John; Baptism of Christ; Decollation. (I think it is not entirely happy that in much of the Western Church the ancient and ecumenical devotion to S John Baptist has been de facto replaced by that to S Joseph ... not that I have anything against him ... )

20 December 2009

Neo-Vulgate

I am sorry to have confused readers with this slang term. I think people have found Novavulgata a bit of a tonguetwister, especially when drunk.

The Psalter in the Neovulgate (now appearing in editions of the Liturgia Horarum) is certainly not the very wayward Pius XII translation. So within two generations we have had three psalters in public (Latin) worship: Vulgate, Pius XII, Neovulgate. (I expect some learned person will remind us of the even-older Latin Psalter.) I call this scandalous. How can a text settle into one's being and feed one's spirituality if Clever People are endlesssly "correcting" it?

The rabbis, wise chaps, know better than to muck around with the Massoretic texts. I am told that the Byzantine churches have resolved to try to prove their credentials in terms of "modern" scholarship by redoing the Septuagint. Barmy. Why can't they learn from our (Western) mistakes?

If I were an Orthodox, such a move would drive me to become an Old Believer or else - more probably - to ask Rome to grant an Old-Septuagint Ordinariate.

O LORD

What a good idea it was - I think we Anglicans started it with our Authorised Version of the Bible - to print LORD in capitals; at least, in the Old Testament and at least when LORD stands for the four Hebrew letters YHWH. Most readers will know that what the Hebrew manuscripts actually have here is the Hebrew name for God. But for millennia our Jewish brethren have refrained out of reverence from uttering it aloud: when the reader gets to YHWH in the text what he actually utters is (the Hebrew word for) 'Lord'. To tip him the wink to do this, the texts put the vowels of that word onto the consonants YHWH, giving YeHoWaH (which is the origin of the version 'Jehovah'). So when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, and then Latin, the translators wrote, not YHWH, but (the Latin and Greek words for) 'the Lord'.

I feel that it is disrespectful towards the Hebrew origins of our Faith for Christians to utter this great and unutterable name. Even if the philologists are right to say that it was pronounced Yahweh, there is nothing more wince-making than to hear callow students of the Old Testament droning comfortably on about yarwey as if it were the name of their pet cat. Nor should we use in church translations of Scripture which encourage ignorant readers to read the Name aloud. Happily, the latest edition of the neovulgate Latin Bible eliminates 'Yahveh', and the Roman liturgical authorities have banned the public utterance of this word in Bible readings.

We don't always realise the significance of 'LORD' in our worship. The priest starts the Eucharistic Prayer by calling God 'Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Everlasting God' (at least, he does if he is using an accurate translation of the ancient Western 'Preface'). We thus begin by identifying the God we address as the ancient God of the Hebrews before we go on to identify him with the 'Holy Father' to whom our Saviour prayed at the Last Supper (John 17). As Pius XI pointed out, we are all spiritually Semites; the God to whom we offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom we ask to receive it as he accepted the gifts of his righteous servant Abel and the sacrifice of our patriarch Abraham and what was offered by his high priest Melchisedech. Dom Gregory Dix wrote of 'the majestic tradition of the worshipping church, the rich tradition of the liturgy unbroken since the Apostles, and beyond - beyond even Calvary and Sion and the synagogues of Capernaum and Nazareth, back to the heights of Moriah and Sinai and the shadowy altar on Ararat - and beyond that again', in what he called 'the Church's quiet insistent proclamation in the Canon'. This is another reason for applauding Pope Benedict's 'Hermeneutic of Continuity' in reconnecting the worship of the Western Church with its ancient and glorious roots. (No wonder Patriarch Alexis of Moskow not long before his death spoke of this as ecumenically a unifying factor.)

One last point. The priest introduces the Eucharistic Prayer by saying 'Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God' (Cranmer's biggest mistake was to render this 'our lord God' as if 'Lord' is an honorific functioning as in 'our lord bishop'). The celebrant thus calls upon us to join him in making the one all-availing thank-offering to YHWH of his Son's Body and Blood. In the Tridentine Rite the priest, at these words, joins his hands together, the liturgical sign of total self-humbling (as a captive or slave might offer his wrists to be bound). And he raises his eyes to heaven and then bows his head. What a shame it is that modern rites ignore this wonderful reverencing of YHWH our creator God, the God of our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God to whom once we offered a twice-daily Tamid sacrifice of a lamb in his Temple and to whom now we offer the Immaculate Lamb.

19 December 2009

Dom Gregory Dix and the Papacy

Anglicans have commonly bellyached about the definition of Papal jurisdiction in Vatican I as an Ordinary, Episcopal, and Immediate jurisdiction over every Christian. It apparently subverts the doctrine of Episcopacy (sometimes called 'Cyprianic') which has often attracted Anglicans. "It makes the Pope a parallel and superior diocesan bishop in every diocese of Christendom", we have whinged.

Dom Gregory Dix dealt with this, as I point out in the December New Directions, by referring to an incident in Anglican history in which, a diocesan having refused to institute a parish priest, the institution was therefore performed, after the legal processes ended with the diocesan losing the case, by or by commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury as Primate. As Dix pointed out, this is Ordinary (in accordance with norms of canon law) Episcopal (conferring the Cura animarum) and Immediate. If Anglicans can accept this, they need have no problems with Pastor Aeternus.

I assumed that this referred to the Gorham judgement of the 1840s, when a High Church bishop, Philpott of Exeter, refused to institute an Evangelical incumbent who denied Baptismal Regeneration. But Fr Alan Cooke of S Mark's Chadderton writes to me: " In the early days of Archbishop Lang's primacy, as related on page 379 of Lockhart's biography, Bishop Barnes [the ultra-Modernist bishop of] Birmingham refused to institute a priest of whose views he disapproved. After proceedings in the High Court of Chancery, the Bishop remained intransigent, and the priest was instituted by the Archbishop. I wonder if it might be this incident that was in Dix's mind. He would certainly have had more sympathy with the view of that priest in Birmingham (the Revd Doyle Simmonds) than with those of Mr Gorham."

Nice one, Father. You may be right. But - if I may play Devil's Advocate:
(1) the Gorham case was much more high-profile; and contributed to Archdeacon Manning's departure from the C of E; and
(2) if Dix had 'Gorham' in mind, he really is taking the war into the enemies' territory by arguing that even the most anti-papal factions within Anglicanism are happy to have a Pio Nono on tap when it suits them.

Yeeees ... I think Fr Cooke is probably right ....

18 December 2009

Vespers

O virgo virginum the Antiphon at the Mag in the office of the Expectation. So I have used the antiphon which Sarum and other medieval dialects added to the series of Roman "O" antiphons. (O Adonai , of course, I said in the commemoration of the feria.)

Blackfen and the Ordinariate

Fr Hermeneutic has a couple of pictures on his blog of how he will have Blackfen church Reordered if the Lottery delivers for him. My only criticism would be that both look rococo rather than, as Father suggests, baroque. It was as a boy wandering round such churches in Bavaria and the Tyrol that I realised what Christianity is really all about.

Father Tim does have very Anglican Catholic instincts. Anglicanorum coetibus should be amended so that he and his church qualify for admission to an Ordinariate, with or without his reordination.

Some good quality comments ...

on my posts of earlier today.

I think threadwise I do better than Fr Zed ...

Epicurus has tea with girls

This continues from the previous post.

I thought about that departed age when I heard a news bulletin about a new government initiative. Apparently there is so much violence against girls - of thirteen years or even as young as eleven - including a great deal of sexual violence from boyfriends - that the government is going to take action. What sort of action? Somehow reinforcing patterns of parental control? Ensuring that parents know how their young are dressed and where they're going and what they're doing and who they're with and what time they come home? A long and up-hill struggle to reintroduce patterns of courtship and of gradualism in the development of relationships? Seminars for the young on Modesty? Not on your life. I'm not making this up: children aged five and upwards are to be taught in school about the wrongness of violence against females. (Mind you, this news item was slightly undermined by the next one: about a murderer who had escaped from prison where she was serving Life for beating up and then stabbing her boyfriend to death [why, you ask, did I not write "murderess? Because that would have subverted my paraprosdokian].)

Sex and drink need ritual. They need inherited and formalised restraints. For, as Euripides taught the Athenians in their theatre, Aphrodite and Dionysus are dangerous gods. If you fail to treat them with respect, they will take you to the cleaners. What is wrong with our society is not that the schools fail adequately to drive home the imperatives of political correctness; it is that members of the cultural elite have in the last generations prided themselves on destroying the restraints and deriding the rituals; and now the gods have descended upon them and, my goodness, with what a vengeace. And they don't like it. And the only remedy they seem to be capable of discerning is the ancient mantra: "Doctor says keep on taking the pills". But what the Modern Girl needs is not more skill in contraception and better access to abortifacients, but careful lessons on how to entertain a boy to Tea.

And there can never have been a society which knew so little about hedone - real pleasure. I doubt if our culture of binge drinking delivers half the pleasure of wine approached with repect and drunk in accordance with archaic rituals (memories of the Alec Guinness clergyman character in Kind Hearts and Coronets reminding the visiting 'bishop' that "The decanter is with you, my Lord"). And I doubt if our culture of instant polybonk delivers a quarter of the pleasure of wondering whether she really meant to brush your hand with hers as she offered you another sandwich.

EXPECTATIO PARTUS B MARIAE V

As I leaped out of bed this morning to say Lauds, my hand just happened to take up my 1874 Breviarium Romanum, so of course* I found myself saying the Office of our Lady's Expectation. Dom Prosper Gueranger reveals that today was the original, first millennium, date in Spain for the Annunciation, which, after being superseded* by the Roman date of March 25, survived there under the guise of the Expectation. It was granted by indult to very many dioceses throughout the world; and to England as a Greater Double*. Question: when the old Calendare for England was replaced by a separate Calendare for each of its new Pio Nono dioceses, why did the Expectation disappear?

The office consists of bits of the Annunciation office with Advent Office Hymns. Incidentally, the gentlemen who put together the post-Concilar Collectio Missarum recommended an Annunciation Mass today, December 18. But I shall say the glorious old Ember Mass.

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*Memories of that great Pontiff John, first Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who used to introduce, disconcertingly, "of course" into the retailing of all sorts of highly improbable pieces of information.

And let us not forget John's successor as Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Michael Houghton, whose Year's Mind occurs today. How mightily that See has been adorned in its less than two decades. And pray also for Eric Kemp, Bishop.

*Why do North Americans spell this as "superceded"?

*The Ifs of History - in the middle of the sixteenth century Spain and England did of course have but one King. If only ...

17 December 2009

The Supreme Court ...

... which has recently replaced the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, has just published a decision (5:4) denying the right of an Orthodox Jewish school to regulate its admissions policy according to rabbinical definitions of Jewishness.

I'm not a lawyer, but this seems to me worrying. When the secular state intrudes into the self-definitions of religious groups, it is tet another step towards the dictatorship of secularism. And dangerous to all of us.

Tea with girls

A story existed, in the happy days when Oxford had Men's colleges and Women's colleges, of a group of women undergraduates gossiping at a hen-party - one girl from each of the women's colleges. In dashes another girl, with the news "I've just met a man!"

How each young lady replies reveals the alleged preoccupations which ruled in each of their colleges. The Somerville girl asks "What is he reading? Is he a Scholar?". The undegraduate from LMH: "Who's his father? Is he in the House of Lords?". The one from St Hugh's: "What does he play? Is he a Blue?" From St Hilda's - a practical lot of girls there- "Where is he?" But lastly, because she seems to lack the same sense of urgency as the rest of them, the St Anne's undergraduate drawls: "I've already had him to tea".

The time when you walked out to a women's college for Tea with a delightful frisson within you! [Sorry, bishop Trautmannnn, that sentence has no main verb. Neither does the next.] Not least because the ratio of women to men was 1:7 (according to rumour, at Cambridge it was 1:9, which is why most of the heterosexual males applied to Oxford.). From four o'clockish, if you were lucky, that could mean two and a half hours of gentle, tentative verbal interaction and exploration until you did a quick sprint back to your own college, splashed some water, dived into your gown, and hurried down to Hall for Dinner.

Not that you would then gossip with your friends about the pleasures of the afternoon. That would be a sconceable offence. "Williams, would you present my compliments to the Senior Scholar; and I desire to sconce Mr Smith for talking about a lady". The sconce, the silver quart tankard full of beer, would arrive*; either Mr Smith could drink it all in one draft (draught?), holding the tankard with only one hand, and then, if he kept it down, the man who had sconced him had the cost of the beer put on to his battels; or Smith could just drink some, and then pass it on for all to do likewise, and the cost went on to his own battels.
Whatever is Fr H driving at? Concludes tomorrow.

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*You could appeal to High Table against the Senior Scholar's verdict, but the written appeal had to be in Latin, and dons took their time replying.

16 December 2009

John of Salisbury

An interesting post today ... oops, I must get out of the habit of thinking of the VIS as the Holy Father's personal blogspot ... about S Thomas a Becket's buddy, John of Salisbury.

The more I think about it, the more convinved I am that S Thomas's in Oxford is the obvious focus for the papal visit to England. We are well set up for whether he wants to celebrate the Extraordinary Form in Latin or our Cranmer-language rather conservative Novus Ordo. BTW, I wish they'd hurry up and publish the schedules. I want to book my holidays.

Sorry

Dear me ... I have just deleted a comment because it talked about 'intention' in a way that clearly indicated that the reader had not read a careful post on precisely this, which appeared on December 10. Yes; I know that nobody is under any obligation whatsoever to read every word I write - so, sorry, K. But just imagine what it is like to try to build something up cumulatively over a few days and then ...

15 December 2009

Dogma and the Ordinariates

Ordinariates are to have their own "authoritative expression of the Catholic Faith". And it will be the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is perhaps the most revolutionary feature of the Apostolic Constitution, and I suspect its implications for Ecumenism will be teased out for decades to come.

When, in my mid-teens, I joined an Anglican papalist organisation called the Catholic League, I had to sign my adherence to the definitions of all the Ecumenical Councils down to Vatican I (Vatican II being at that time merely a twinkle in the eye of Cardinal Roncalli). Trent and Vatican I were explicitly mentioned. So I thereby committed myself - for example - to the Decree Pastor Aeternus, which defined the Primacy and Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. I have never regretted this; indeed, it has been a source of inspiration to me for more than half a century. But an Ordinariate will not have Pastor Aeternus as part of its dogma-book (except by remote implication in as far as the Catechism does state that Ecumenical Councils are infallible, and Vatican I was such a Council). It will have the Petrine Ministry as seen through the balancing prism of Vatican II and summarised in the Catechism.

Ecumenical Councils are relativised as they disappear further and further into history. When did you - even if you attend SSPX chapels - last hear a sermon on the Council of Florence? Vatican I - and Vatican II - will, likewise, come to be seen in a more contextualised and embedded way than they were in the raw and acrimonious days after their respective conclusions. AC implicitly acknowledges this. And in the last pontificates, Christological agreements were signed between Rome and 'non-Chalcedonian Churches' - such as the Copts (1973) and Assyrians (1994), communities hitherto suspected respectively of Monophysitism and Nestorianism. This appeared to be an Ecumenism of getting round conciliar antitheses by contextualising formulae. I wonder if the provision for the Ordinariates to have their own "authoritative expression of the Catholic Faith" should be glossed in a not totally dissimilar way.

And what about the status of Apostolicae curae, which condemned Anglican Orders? Is that - or at least, its conclusions - such as to require the assent we owe to faith? Of course, the Apostolic Constitution assumes the juridical force of that Bull in its provision for the 'ordination' of Anglican clergy entering the Ordinarites. I don't think many of us have much problem in giving other Christians certainty about the validity of our sacramental ministrations. I have no objection whatsoever to submitting to the juridical implications of Apostolicae curae. On the contrary. (Although the Commentary printed in Osservatore Romano by a Fr Ghirlanda, which states that "ordinations ... will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae " appears to be unaware that in the case of Bishop Graham Leonard, the CDF concluded that there was uncertainty about the invalidity of his orders, because of the Dutch Touch [see in this blog, via Search] since the 1930s. I will return to some practical matters in this area tomorrow.)

But that does not impinge upon the question of whether we have to believe in Apostolicae curae. I have always been intrigued by the fact that the original text of the Bull described the question as idem caput disciplinae, implying that this is ultimately a disciplinary rather than a doctrinal question. There's a Dan Brown story somewhere here: much later printed versions craftily omitted the word disciplinae. I suspect that Cardinal Merry del Val, a crony of Cardinal Vaughan and a fellow plotter, might have had something to do with the change. The mere fact that someone did think it necessary to tamper with the text in this way itself rather implies that he did find the implications of the original text an embarrassment.

But in any case, Apostolicae curae is not part of the Catechism. So it will not be "professed by members of the Ordinariate". And, notoriously, men consecrated Bishop in the Anglican Church are encouraged to ask for the jus pontificalium. That hardly sounds like a desire to rub Anglican noses in Apostolicae curae until ... if you follow me ... the pips squeak.

As I see it, Anglicanorum Coetibus allows the following provisos (among others) to be attached to the initial proposition "We willingly submit to what Apostolicae curae requires of us, but Anglican Orders were ...
(1) not in fact invalid in 1896"; or
(2) were invaid in 1896, but the Dutch Touch dealt with the question".

The good thing, of course, is that the matter will be completely academic. But, whatever the future holds for me personally, I do not envisage ceasing to celebrate June 9 as the Anniversary of my Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of the Catholic Church.

Before the more uberCatholic RC readers start frothing at the mouth, I ask them to consider the views of Fr Aidan Nichols (1993; the emphases are his), and just check that their own credentials, both academically and as a soundly traditional Catholic, are superior to his. "Those Anglican clergymen who feel morally certain of the sacramental reality of their Orders can draw consolation from the fact that, whereas the practice authorised by Apostolicae curae still continues (since the teaching of that bull remains the thesis in possession), the applicability of its teaching to their own Orders today is not itself unconditionally proposed by the contemporary Roman Church."

Catholic Heritage blogspot

I warmly commend this admirable Blog to readers. The interest of its posts extends beyond the circles of those who love Traditional liturgy ... and those who love Ireland!

14 December 2009

ARCIC and the Apostolic Constitution

Archbishop Rowan didn't - despite the claims of his critics - call the ecclesiology of Anglicanorum Coetibus eccentric. He suggested that there are others who might say it. A characteristically elegant dodge; not as crude as Cicero's favourite, praeteritio ("I forebear to say that my opponent is a proved embezzler and paederast; let me simply ..."). Is there a techical name in Rhetoric for "Others may say X "? Is it the same device as "You may say that, Matty; I couldn't possibly comment"?

His Grace has a point. The ecclesiology of AC does diverge from the norms to which we are accustomed and which he himself has lucidly expounded: that a "local church" is not a denomination or a province but bishop-and-presbytery-and-diaconate-and laos. Perhaps his words indicate that he is going to make one last herculean effort to secure just such an uneccentric provision for us from General Synod. If he is, all power to his elbow. If the Westminster monsignori do succeed in sabotaging the Holy Father's initiative, we could need something to fall back on. Mind you, I devoutly hope not ...

Where Rowan fails is in not taking account of some aspects of the exercise of Primacy. This was well set out in The Gift of Authority (ARCIC 1999). "We envisage a primacy that will even now help to uphold the legitimate diversity of traditions, strengthening and safeguarding them in fidelity to the Gospel ... This sort of primacy will already assist the Church on earth to be the authentic catholic Koinonia in which unity does not curtail diversity ... Such a universal primate ... will promote the common good in ways that are not constrained by sectional interests ..."

Such an understanding of primacy implies primatial intervention to protect diversity which is under threat. It indicates the strong hand of Peter stretching out to protect and uphold those who are threatened by local sectional interests which are powerful and even possibly menacing. It draws strength from the principle of Subsidiarity, which in the 1990s made the tortuous journey from papal encyclicals tp documents of the EU: the principle that decisions should be made at the lowest possible level. And AC is shot through and through with imaginative devices to ensure that the instruments of the Roman primacy support the tender shoots of an Ordinariate vis-a-vis strong established structures such as Episcopal conferences, their bureaucracies, and the diocesan bishops. Switching jargon, one could say that the primacy is putting itself alongside the Base Communities.

Ordinariates are to be set up by the CDF, not a Conference. They are subject to the senior dikastery, the CDF, not to a Conference. Ordinaries are answerable to the Sovereign Pontiff through the CDF. The Ordinariate's liturgy will have the approval of the Holy See. The jurisdiction of the Ordinary will not be a matter of bits and pieces "transferred" from diocesan bishops - the dramatically 'eccentric' idea which seems to be as far as General Synod can be persuaded to go. His jurisdiction will be vicarious: that is, it will be exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff. Tangle with an Ordinary, you are tangling with the Pope. The Ordinary, with Rome's approval (a Conference does not even have to be informed), can erect institutes of consecrated life. He can erect personal parishes ... and note the proviso "after having heard the opinion of the diocesan Bishop". Of course an Ordinary will wish to work in the closest harmony and amity with his brother bishops. How could he not? Quite apart from the principle of the thing, he has so much to gain from it. But he does not, in the last resort, juridically need their agreement.

And an Ordinary will be selected from a terna - list of three name - submitted by the Ordinariate's own Council of Priests: not from a list submitted by the Papal Nuncio after extensive consultations among the members of an Episcopal Conference. This is probably the most revolutionary feature of the Holy Father's arrangements. It reverses the tendencies of the Pian Era: the period of centralisation which marked the pontificates of and between Pius IX and Pius XII. And the powers given to the Council of Priests mark a return in the direction of structures which are positively ante-Nicene.

It is the ministry of the Roman Church to uphold diversity. Roman Pontiffs have not always done that as robustly as they should; in North America they once were less forthright than they ought to have been in defending the patrimony of Eastern Catholic communities - or even the Poles - against local Irish and German diocesan bishops.

But this pope, as far as one can see, has got a well screwed on head.

13 December 2009

By special Appointment, HOOP MANUFACTURERS To The HOLY SEE

The Roman Catholic Church, God bless its cotton socks, is currently blessed with a new growth industry. The manufacture of Hoops. An example: think what happened in 2008 after the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. This had the deceptive superficial appearance of being a document crafted to enable any Latin Rite priest to say the Old Rite, without any sort of license or permission from the Holy See ... or the local episcopal conference ... or the diocesan bishop ... or even (in the case of assistant priests) the Parish Priest. Indeed, that is what the document started off by saying, in words which, to untutored Anglican eyes like mine, looked quite clear and unambiguous. But of course, we Anglicans have no expertise whatsoever in the exquisitely fine finer points of Canon Law.

This is where the Hoops come in. When a papal document says that X can do Y without needing permission from Z, what that really means canonically, you see, is that before X can even think of doing Y, he needs permission from Z. So, dutifully, loyally, some of those RC bishops in 2008 immediately turned to the ancient craft of Hoop Manufacturing. And, my goodness, the quality of those hoops! It quite takes our poor Anglican breath away! Special examinations turned out to be the the classiest hoops: examinations in Liturgy; examinations in Latin. "Jump through these, my boy", said the bishops, "and jump through the additional hoop of an interview with me to explore just why you want to do this, and then ... well .... we'll think about it. There! Can't say fairer than that! That's what the Holy Father had in mind!"

One of the most under-discussed elements in the policies of the current pontificate is the principle of Subsidiarity. A few years ago, this notion was quite popular: the idea that decisions are best made at the lowest possible level. There was a brief period when this was seen as a welcome, a refreshing, antidote to a culture of bureaucratic, anally retentive, centralisation of power and of decision-making. Episcopal Conferences did very well out of the fashion. "Devolve it all to us", they cried. "We're the local chaps; we know the local circumstances. Subsidiarity!! It affirms the local Church! It strips power from those beastly bully-boys in the Roman Dikasteries!" And my, were these 'local chaps' angry when John Paul II and his henchperson Ratzinger had the nerve to suggest that, theologically, the 'powers' of Episcopal Conferences were the Emperor's New Suit.

But, on the other hand, it has become clear that when - as in the case of Summorum Pontificum, which devolved liturgical decisions to the lowest conceivable levels - it comes to devolving something below the level of episcopal conferences and their entrenched incestuous power-hungry bureaucracies, Subsidiarity suddenly stops being sexy and becomes a sharp-edged implement of which it might be said (in the immortal phrase of our Anglo-Welsh World War II hero Corporal Jones) that They Don't Like It Up 'Em.

Like our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, we Anglican Catholics think that Subsidiarity is a Very Good Thing. It has been one of our central ecclesiological principles for 150 years. Come to think of it, it's what we mean when we talk about our Patrimony.

Vespers of our Lady

Grateful thanks to a kind and painstaking correspondent who found me musical texts for these Vespers. We accordingly did them and (yes, I know this is not how one should talk about the worship of Almighty God) they were much enjoyed by all. And grateful thanks, too, to Cantors, Choir, Musical Director, and Servers.

Our congregational booklets at S Thomas's were produced in 1925 by the Society of SS Peter and Paul and are in that Society's distinctively baroque and triumphalist style. It is born upon me that singing this service is a tradition going back to the League of Our Lady, founded in 1904 by that great ecumenist and protector of the Catholic Revival, Lord Halifax (and probably beyond that, to the guilds of the late Victorian Ritualists). And to the Hermeneutic-of-Continuity Catholicism of the Walsingham Pilgrims' Manuals before the Spirit of the Council laid a sometimes rather dead hand on the jolly times.

I had never before heard the Roman melodies for the Antiphons fitted to the Authorised Version's translation of the Song of Songs. Lovely ... indeed, exotic; dare I say sensuous. " ... my spikenard sendeth forth the perfume thereof ... his left hand is under my head ... arise, my love, and come away ... How fair and pleasant art thou in thy delights, O Holy Mother of God". I devoutly hope and trust that those involved in developing the worship of the Ordinariates will adhere to the Anglo-Catholic custom of translating the scriptural quotations in Roman Rite by way of the Authorised Version. It's a very valuable part of the Patrimony.

Is there a politically-incorrect implied antithesis in the phrase "I am black but comely"?

12 December 2009

Claw-back time?

The BBC website has an interview about Anglicanorum Coetibus with a Mgr Andrew Faley. If this man's attitudes and views have been accurately reported and accurately represent those of his masters ...

SSPP

(This carries on from my recent post on the S Thomas's High Altar.)

There can be no doubt that all right-thinking people regard Fr Jeremy Hummerstone, Vicar of the small Devon town of Torrington, as not only a good thing but a very good thing. He is the epitome of the old-style Anglican Catholic Parish Priest: literate, well-read, acute, and with a laugh never far away. Merton College Oxford was the stable that trained him (and Somerville College produced Clarissa: happy days, when Clergy Wives were good quality girls). I was fortunate enough to get to know him when, during my short six years in Devon, we were members of the clerical society for Catholic Anglicans in the diocese of Exeter, the Society of S Boniface (Mass; exegesis of the Greek NT; lunch; Paper; chat. It is still going strong and still blessed with the sempiternal Fr Michael Moreton). The months we went to Torrington afforded the opportunity, in Torrington church, of praying before the shrine of our Lady of Czenstochowa.

Fr Jeremy has kindly shown me a copy of what I take to be* the elusive first Edition of the English Missal, published with the date 1912 by W Knott, Brooke Street, Holborn. And bound into that volume - in between Holy Saturday and the Ordinary of the Mass - is a quite different volume published the same year, The Music of the Mass, published by the SSPP. The insertion, unlike the rest of the Knott Missal, is in the characteristically and sumptuously Baroque style of SSPP - woodcuts; borders; large print. It is not just the sung bits of the Mass with the chants, but a collection of the1549 rite, the Asperges, the Nuptial Mass, the 1662 rite (with, in what looks to me rather like a joke, under "Canon of the Mass" Dr Cranmer's Prayer of Humble Access interpolated with the rubrics from the Tridentine Missal that go with Te igitur). At the start of the missal, inserted just before the Knott's title page, an additional frontispiece reads just "Missal", with a badge for the SSPP (curiously, not their usual one).

In other words, SSPP piggybacked their material onto the Knott Missal. And the designs embossed on the front and back covers are from the Music (which I last met in Lancing Chapel's Sacristy). I wonder what the relationship was between SSPP and Knott.

Has anybody else come across anything like this?

....................................................................................................................................................

*Unlike all other English Missals, it doesn't say which edition it is. So that means it must be the first?

Blue vestments

If Spain is entitled to blue vestments on December 8 because of its role in promoting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, I would have thought that a fortiori England would be even more entitled.

The use of blue among Anglicans for Advent is part of the old (Percy nutcase and dishonest plagiariser Dearmer) idea that you show you are are a loyal Anglican and not a beastly Romaniser by discovering details in medieval English usage which diverge from modern Roman custom, and then proudly parading them. An example of such Dearmerism, so I have been told, survives at Exeter Cathedral, where they use blue in Advent. If true, this is all the more daft because, whatever they did elsewhere in England, at Exeter Bishop Grandisson's Ordinale (14th century) clearly required violet (the old boy very naturally preferred to operate iuxta morem curie Romane).

It does, however allow optionally (non inconvenienter indui possent) the use of blue on double feasts in Advent and Lent. Since the Conception was a festum duplex, we have here "English" precedent for using blue on December 8.

Rumour has it that the use of light blue for feasts of the Theotokos is common in the Russian and other 'Slavic' Churches. Is this by Wesatern influence? I find it a little unexpected in as far as in Byzantine iconography our Lady is normatively clad in red.

11 December 2009

The Western Catholic World

NLM had, yesterday, a pretty feature showing blue vestments - that delightful Spanish custom - in use "in the Western Catholic World". I was afflicted by an ineluctable fantasy that one of the figures portrayed had a curious but striking resemblance to the luxuriantly, exquisitely, Hispanic figure of the Principal of an Anglican seminary not a million miles from here. Nice to know that NLM, unlike some people I could mention, regard us people as authentically Catholic.

Incidentally, the chasuble showed just before the picky of Fr Robin looked, to my untutored eye, distinctly like an example of opus Anglicanum. Does anyone know where it comes from?

Canonists

At the recent meeting in the University Church about Anglicanorum coetibus, a jesuit canonist (I think his name may have been something like Orsy) said that he had searched and searched - but had been unable to discover another example of an ecclesiastical structure such as the "Ordinariates" being subject to a Roman dikastery.

Notoriously, we Anglicans know nothing about canon law. I don't, for example. And since I have a disinclination to be a laughing-stock, I tend to steer clear of subjects in which I do not feel confident ... such as canon law.

But I can't get it out of my mind that the bloke was wrong; because there is a very obvious ... and distinctly interesting ... example, of just such a phenomenon. Isn't there?

Before the "Restoration of the Hierarchy" in 1850, is it not true that the "Vicars Apostolic" who presided over the "Districts" of England were subject to the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide?

The S Thomas's High Altar

St Thomas's is unlike any other English medieval parish church that I know: it has a Baroque high Altar with a fine copy of Raffael's Madonna di Foligno. The style of it all is a bold and unmistakeable visible demonstration of Papalism and of longing for Christian unity, for unity with the Holy See.

The first generation of the Catholic Revival emphasised the continuity of the C of E with the medieval English Church. Taking the Prayer Book 'Ornaments Rubric' literally, it strove to make churches - and clergy - look as they would have done in 1548. But in the twentieth century, a new aestheticism led the way to a new self-understanding - and a new appetite for Unity. The baroque could express the assertion that the Church of England was not a survival of the second year of Edward VI but a living part of the Catholic Church of Italy, Spain, and France. Medievalism was left (as Ronald Knox, who used to come down to this parish so that he could say Mass in Latin, explained) to the 'comparatively moderate party' who asserted 'loyalty' to the C of E by fulminating against 'Roman innovations'. (This was the period when Sir Ninian 'Patrimony' Comper grabbed the best of both those worlds with his motto of 'Unity by inclusion'.)

The Society of SS Peter and Paul was founded in 1911 to articulate this aesthetic and this programme. The mysterious and exotic Fr Maurice Child was its begetter, aided by Mr Samuel Gurney ... that name sounds fsamiliar to you? ... yes ... Sir John Betjeman's verses about the hopes of the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the inter-war years - and its anxieties - "And has Sam Gurney poped?" (He never did.)

Its provocative humour was that of the young curates who multiplied like rabbits in the clergy-houses of Anglo-Catholic England. So the SSPP announced itself as "Publishers to the Church of England". It sold "Lambeth Frankincense" and, never inclined to take prisoners, advertised "Latimer and Ridley Votive-candle stands". Child borrowed a church near Regent Street for High Mass on the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, and publicised it widely: "members of the Order need not wear their insignia". A large and inquisitive congregation turned up. (I hope to return to the SSPP in a day or two.)

There was, and still is, a distinctive genre of Anglo-Catholic humour very different from the jocosity of RC presbyteries. One thinks of the comic verse of Betjeman, Farmer, Mascall, Stephenson. Nowadays, the mind turns to the satiric sections of our monthly New Directions, much of it written by the Juvenal, the Swift, of our time, the brilliant, the admirable, Fr Geoffry Kirk.

Come to think of it, that humour, with its bite and irreverence, is what makes us so disliked by other Anglicans. They wouldn't care what we said if we were sad, grumpy and moribund; what they find hard to take is that we laugh; and that we laugh at them, the high Protestants, the Lords of the Earth (as Newman's irony described them). One almost hears them murmuring in their episcopal palaces, and in their London clubs (their membership of which, I have been told, is paid for by the pewfodder - is that right?) "It's the tone that is so objectionable".

Ah, the tone of the Patrimony. In aeternum floreat.

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The best bits above are plagiarised from Waugh's biography of Knox.

9 December 2009

Vatican Information Service ...

... carries two interesting pieces preached by our Holy Father on December 8. In one he talks about "the City" with considerable penetration. In the other he speaks about Rupert of Deutz; he says that it was he that first applied the texts about the Bride of the Song of Songs to our Lady.

Presumably this means that the antiphons of Vespers of our Lady are subsequent to Rupert? Anybody out there got more on this?

Feeneyism: I looked at Vatican documents via a link on the Wikipedia article.

More traditionalist than Tradition?

A brief post about a phenomenon that I find a little bit worrying; although perhaps it is inevitable in a situation in which there were fracturings of many continuities in the 1970s which many very admirable people are trying to repair: Being More Traditionalist Than Tradition; making up our 'Traditionalism' as we go along on the basis of insecure or even erroneous foundations. Sometimes, this ubertraditionalism is itself, paradoxically, actually heresy (vide five paragraphs down).

It seems to be part of a new quasi-Orthodoxy that Mass must be celebrated with the priest facing in the same way as his people. It is my own distinct preference. I opposed, in the 1980s, the reordering of Lancing Chapel so that the riddels of the "English" altar were removed. BUT the rubrics of the Missal of S Pius V provide very fully for Mass versus populum. And the Patristic evidence is not in favour of Mass facing away from the people except incidentally as that is a product of saying Mass facing East. Which is what the first millennium really was sold on.

Earlier this year, two very fine blogs, far better than mine, gave totally erroneous guidance on how to say the EF Mass if no-one else is present; and how loud the secreto parts of the EF Mass should be. O'Connell, a painstaking author who reproduces the wisdom of generations of rubricists and, more important, the innumerable decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, gives full information to anyone who takes the trouble to read him. [Ad primum: omit nothing; ad secundum: so as not to be heard by those nearby.]

And Concelebration: on which, this year, I have done two long series because a very interesting author, in a stimulating book (of which I provided a very positive review in New Directions), includes a throw-away footnote in which he dismisses the whole notion of concelebration in the Roman Rite, even in the Rite of Presbyteral Ordination. He gives no evidence and appears to be totally unaware that the magisterium of two popes - both of whom had a reputation for erudition and both of whom wrote centuries before our post-Conciliar ruptures - is perfectly clear about the matter (see my posts). Not to mention S Thomas Aquinas. My posts will also reveal, if you look back at them, my own disquiet about a number of practical aspects as Concelebration has evolved in the last half century. But to deny that the Western Church has any real tradition of Concelebration at all is poppy-cock. Whatever that is.

And some of our Ubertraditionalists also have a very unTraditional view of certain ecumenical matters; they appear, for example, to be unaware of the easy relationships between Latins and Byzantines, especially in the Levant and up to the end of the eighteenth century. It included frequent and unselfconscious "Intercommunion". And when fragments of the Byzantine community sought unity with Rome, it was granted on the basis of acceptance, even, in the 1720s, of the Patriarch of Antioch and his clergy and bishops corporately. Their jurisdiction was confirmed.

A few days ago, a correspondent on this blog brusquely advanced the view that outside the (Roman) Catholic Church valid orders simply do not exist. This may be a terribly satisfying position for a certain sort of mentality, but it goes contrary to the practice of the Church for sixteen centuries. It means that when Roman praxis has, for so many years, allowed an Orthodox priest ... or Coptic ... or an Old Catholic .... who comes into full unity, to be permitted to exercise priestly ministry in communion with Rome, it has been deliberately allowing Christ's Faithful to be deceived with pseudosacraments. It means that when Pope Eugene IV, at the Council of Florence, accepted into unity the whole Byzantine East (except of course those who themselves refused the union), he was deliberately and wickedly accepting as bishops and priests those who in reality were nothing of the sort. This is not Traditionalism; it is either dangerous ignorance or a deliberate repudiation of many centuries of Roman teaching. It is quite simply and unambiguously heresy. Like all heretics, the gentleman concerned should inform himself of what our Holy Mother the Church does teach, and then submit himself penitently to it.

Readers with good memories may remember the tragic figure of the Boston priest Fr Leonard Feeney, who in 1949, did get himself condemned by the Holy Office for a similar heresy involving just this sort of attempt to be more traditionalist than Tradition. He maintained, citing the bull Unam sanctam, that no one would be saved who was not in full visible communion with the Catholic Church ... no nonsense about 'invincible ignorance' or anything like that. He refused to submit himself to what the Magisterium - in the person of Pius XII - actually taught on this point, and eventually incarnated his own paradox by being excommunicated.

And in the next day or two I hope to say a few words about a recent Post by Bishop Williamson of the SSPX.

8 December 2009

Dom Prosper Gueranger and my last fifty years

A kind friend has passed on to me L'Annee Liturgique; a series which I first met years ago when I was preaching a Priests' Retreat in the Devon house of the Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary at Posbury St Francis. The sitting room set aside for my use had, around its walls, most of the library - including Gueranger - of Prebendary John Hooper, the charismatic priest who decades before had fostered my own vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. He was part of that wonderful phenomenon (not quite extinct), the Exeter Mafia, Catholic clergy who spent most of their priesthood in that diocese; he was a drinking partner of Bishop Robert Mortimer, the scholar-bishop and moral theologian (we don't have many of those in the C of E - perhaps that is the root of some of our current tragedies). Fr John had been the Posbury community's Warden; and, indeed, he was buried under the trees in their graveyard. But I had come under his influence much earlier when he was Vicar of S Mary Mags, in this city, then its great Catholic centre (now, sadly, equipped with a woman curate). I first saw him on the feast of our Lady's Immaculate Conception in 1959, when I was in Oxford as a hopeful schoolboy sitting the Scholarship examinations. Purely by chance, I happened to go into Mags that evening when the High Mass - according to the Old Rite and in the language of the English Missal - was just finishing. Mags - and Fr Hooper - made me what I am. It's all in the Patrimony, you know.

Opening my newly acquired Gueranger at random, I hit upon these words about the beginning of the (EF) Mass. "But see, Christians! the Sacrifice begins! The Priest is at the foot of the Altar; God is attentive, the Angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the Priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the Cross with him."

Plummy, you think? I suppose so. "God is attentive": that's a bit much isn't it? But isn't that the whole wonder of this most adorable sacrifice? - as Newman also put it: "It is not a mere form of words - it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal."

Dare we? Audeamus dicere.

6 December 2009

Light from Exeter

As we continue our novenas in preparation for the Solemnity of our Lady's Immaculate Conception (at Lourdes, by the way, Cardinal Pole's successor Rowan Williams translated 'Immaculata' as 'Spotless'; I wonder why did that, rather than using the more familiar rendering ...), I thought readers might enjoy some words of Edmund Lacy, Bishop of Exeter 1420-1458.
There is truly nothing, after God, more useful than making memorial of his most holy Mother, for if the name of God's Mother has been invoked, even if the merits of the one calling upon her do not deserve it, yet the merits of God's Mother intercede so that he might in mercy be heard; for she is the Palace of Universal Propitiation, the Cause of General Reconciliation, the Vessel of Grace and Temple of Life Eternal and of the salvation of all who are to be saved, she, the dear Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary; who, the only one to guard unimpaired the likeness of the Heavenly Craftsman, gave birth under the seal of holiness to the Splendour of the Father's Glory, the only begotten Son, indeed, of God, who knows not the Fault of Adam, that he might , by the merit of His own holiness and righteousness, restore to Paradise those whom our first Parent exiled by his fault of disobedience; for this woman, most blessed among and above all blessed women, through the blessing of her childbearing abolished for ever the curse of our first Mother Eve and trod with the foot of virtue the poisonous head of the ancient serpent ...I break off here because the sentence goes on for ever. I doubt whether, even now, this great Exonian Pontiff has completed it. He even chose, as a venue for a dissertation on the Immaculate Conception, a General Chapter of the Order of Preachers in his See City ... I know I need not remind you that the Dominicans were still distinctly negative about the doctrine at this point.

Lacy was a considerable intellectual whom his people deemed also to be a Saint. His shrine was dismantled at the 'Reformation' (by the 'Protestant Dean', Simon Haynes, who so got up the noses of his Anglican Catholic fellow chapter-members that they were able - even in the reign of Edward VI - to contrive to get him imprisoned); but when the Cathedral was bombed during the war the wax votive offerings from it were found concealed behind a nearby stone. He had a definite cultus as a beatus.

5 December 2009

More on ALL THAT

Recently I wrote about the unpopularity of Nathaniel Woodard. In fact, it has to be admitted that we Anglican Catholics are, like the early Christians, among the most disliked of humanity. The visceral English hatred of Catholicism (if you haven't, despite my urgings, read Dr Dawkins' diatribe against Catholicism - in the Washington Post - you should do so) provides one reason. Englishmen, brainwashed for centuries about Popery, very naturally did not take kindly to walking into their Parish Church and find that the new Vicar had apparently introduced it there. Probably the clergyman concerned showed them the Ornaments Rubric of the Book of Common Prayer, which, if taken plainly and literally, says that the ornaments of the Church and the Minister should be as they were in 1548 - the year before the first Prayer Book came in. They couldn't see the flaw in his logic, although they were convinced that there must be one since what he was saying and doing flew in the face of everything they thought they knew. So another element came into play: the dislike that the Plain Englishman has for the Cleverclogs. Victorian parishes were flooded with rumours that the new 'Ritualist' parson was a "Jesuit in disguise", since, as everyone knew, Jesuits were as amazingly clever as they were totally unprincipled.

And the RC church just up the road didn't like what was going on close by, either. The simple distinction between Catholic and Protestant had suited them very well. A lot of churches became indistinguishable from RC churches; and there were even some in which the entirety of the worship was in Latin and according to the Roman rules. (There were clergy of the C of E who had never said Mass in any other rite that of the Latin Missal; if you spent the first two thirds of your priestly life working up the long cursus honorum from most junior curate to most senior curate and then some years as incumbent in a like-minded church before retiring to a chaplain's cottage attached to some congenial convent, you could do this.) Not a little of the persecution such clergy endured had a lot to do with the local RC bishop complaining to his Anglican opposite number about the "confusion" such churches engendered. Perhaps here we find the genesis of the ease with which the Anglican elite and some of the English RC establishment collude in antipathy towards us.

And now there is yet another gang of jokers on the block: liberal RCs. They can see that we are so much more the real thing than they are; that all the beliefs and practices they are so proud to have jettisoned in the 1960s are alive and well with us. It is not surprising that the Tablet was so cross about Anglicanorum coetibus. This fact is what makes the views of the SSPX clergyman, whose problems with our lack of orthodoxy I quoted recently, so off-centre. Incidentally, I am glad to read that Mgr Fellay entertains quite a different view from that of 'Fr Scott'.

Could it be that at long last we Anglican Catholics have a friend? The old Bavarian gentleman? Let's try to treat him well. We are so unused to having friends that there is the risk of our being somewhat unpractised in our handling of them.

4 December 2009

Bulverism

A correspondent wisely reminds us of C S Lewis's essay on 'Bulverism'. You can get to Lewis's original paper via Wikipedia. Bulverism is a phenomenon of which every person should be aware who finds themself* rebutting the logical incoherence of the Zeitgeist.

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*I make no apology for this curious usage.

Anglicanorum coetibus and SSPX

The views of a Fr Scott of the SSPX are brought to my attention by a reader. I agree with most of what he actually says. Where he is off-centre is in simply knowing nothing whatsoever about us. His doctrinal comments are particularly inapposite. We are not heretics. Unlike the Orthodox, whom Fr Scott interestingly thinks are hardly heretics at all, we fully accept all that the Magisterium of the Church has defined de fide, including the decrees of Trent, Vatican I (and Vatican II where it is de fide ... mind you, I think there would be no harm in having one or two clarifications about the Vatican II decree on Religious Freedom; I hope Fr Scott will not condemn me out of hand as a dangerous liberal for this). Is it so wrong for us to accept the Catechism CC as a useful popular compendium of what is taught authoritatively as de fide in the primary Conciliar and Pontifical dogmatic documents and by the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, and to treat things in it which are not so based with the appropriate obedient respect (obsequium) that falls short of acceptance by divine Faith?

I know SSPX has resolutely defended the use of Latin in the Worship of the Western Church, and I admire them for their long and often lonely act of witness. I myself say the Tridentine Mass, in Latin, several times a week. I am aware of other Anglican clergy who are learning it and will use it with enthusiasm. But - just suppose the Holy See authorises for us a version of the Tridentine Rite in 'Tudor' English. Would this really be so terrible? There are examples from before the twentieth century of the Roman Rite being allowed in East European languages. However glorious the Latin language is, is it doctrinally unthinkable for the 'aloud' bits of the rite to be vernacular? Did not the admirable Mgr Lefebvre sign the Conciliar decree on Liturgy which allowed the possibility of some use of the vernacular?

As far as Orders are concerned, Fr Scott may not be aware that since the 1930s, schismatic Dutchmen called 'Old Catholics', whose orders Vatican praxis has always accepted, have been taking part "as aequi-principal consecrators" in Anglican episcopal consecrations. Secret archives which I have seen make clear that this practice was introduced precisely in order to ensure that "even the strictest RC" would not be able to question Anglican Orders in the future (a fact not made public at the time out of a desire not to give RC controversialists evidence for saying "even the Anglicans are doubtful about their own orders"). The Dutch, as they did the Touch, have said, in Latin, that formula from the Tridentine Pontifical which, before the twentieth century, was regarded among commentators and manualists as the form (Fr Scott can rest assured that the Bugninified post-Conciliar Roman Pontifical has not been involved in this process). But in any case, I do not know of any Anglican Catholic bishop or priest who would not be willing to have any doubts about his status set aside by a new 'ordination'. This is what happened, decades even before the Dutch Touch began, when Newman (whom Fr Scott appears to view with approval) went to Rome; he was not convinced that Anglican Orders were invalid - and he records that nobody else in Rome was either - but he submitted to a 'reordination' when he was assured that it was, in the mind of the Church, conditional, although its liturgical form did not make this conditionality explicit.

If we can make the Apostolic Constitution work ... and if SSPX sorts itself out with our Holy Father ... I will be very happy to recommend to my PCC that we welcome SSPX to our altars. Especially Fr Scott. He will not find much evidence of Dr Bugnini in S Thomas's.

3 December 2009

Masturbation and all that.

During the happy three decades during which I taught Greek and Latin and Theology at Lancing College in Sussex, and offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each morning in those most exquisite of surroundings, I did quite a lot of work in the Archives. Our Founder, Nathaniel Woodard, had a most satisfactory habit, not only of keeping every letter he received, but also of preserving the drafts of his replies - so that one could actually follow the workings of his mind as he drafted, added, scratched out, and rethought.

Woodard was one of the most unpopular religious figures of Victorian England. His unpopularity came not, as in the case of the Ritualists, from cultic exoticism. In fact, the College still retains the black stole which represented the limit of his advance in matters of liturgical vesture. No; his problem was that he thought that everybody needed to go to Confession, and he was constantly attacked for the structures by which he attempted to ensure that every pupil did so. And it is clear from the Archives what his reason was: that the sexual urge is immensely strong and can only be controlled by the means of Grace offered in the Catholic Sacramental system. Without it, he clearly believed, pretty well every male, at least if unmarried, was likely to be a habitual masturbater.

In one of his writings, the metaphorical comes perilously close to the physical; he wrote of Victorian culture as drenched in a sea of uncleanness. And herein lay the reason for the loathing he inspired. He called the bluff of the Victorian Gentleman's comfortable (and Pelagian?) self-construction. Victorian culture regarded Masturbation as a very disgusting and sinful thing to do; believed that only the weakest and most contemptible would fall so low. I, of course, so everyone implied, would never sink so far. But as a Victorian gentleman looked into Nathaniel Woodard's eyes, he knew ... that Woodard knew ...

How times change. Woodard knew that the sexual temptation was very strong and that self-abuse was humanly inevitable. They hated him for it, persisting in the delusional cultural conspiracy of the assumption that nice people with clean collars ... like oneself ... did not do it. Now, our culture knows that sexuality is powerful and itself now proclaims that masturbation is very common - and it hates the Christian Tradition for suggesting that there is anything disordered about it.

The one constant is that the children of the Zeitgeist loath Catholic Truth. If we say "X is common but sinful", one century will spit its hatred at us for the first half of the statement, and the next will turn on us in fury for suggesting the second part.

2 December 2009

It's none of my business but ...

I expect many of you will have read on Fr Zed about the RC bishop of Calgary and his clever dodge for making trouble with the FSSP about Holy Communion in the mouth. What price 'subsidiarity'!

Didn't the Holy Father, when he issued his motu proprio, assure his Venerable Brethren that there would be a review in three years' time of any problems that arose?

Could it be that this crafty b****r in Calgary is trying to get ammo by deliberately provoking a confrontation in the hope of getting an angry or 'disobedient' response?

BTW, the photo' makes him look just like the moustachioed Low Church Clergyman in Eric Mascall's poem.

Bishop Margot

Apparently the German Lutherans, or some such body, and the Russian Orthodox, were going to have a big Do to celebrate the 50th (or 500th? I neither know nor care) anniversary of their Dialogue, or something. Then the Germans elected a female presiding "bishop", or whatever. Then Archbishop Hilarion said that protocol prevented him from attending. Then the Prods got all huffy and called the whole thing off, or something.

They just don't get it, do they? German Lutherans or English liberals; however much the representatives of the ancient Churches spell things it out to them, they cheerfully go their own (ever so highly principled) way and expect to get away with it. Doubtless the Germans are even now busily blaming the Moscow Patriarchate for welching on ecumenical dialogue and poaching and poor communications and discourtesy and heaven knows what. "Does Moscow any longer take Ecumenism seriously?", I can just hear them whingeing. "This raises serious concerns about whether there is any point in Dialogue". I can just imagine it. Pathetic lot, all of them.

Vivat Cyrillus, sez I. Eis polla ete, Despota.

1 December 2009

December goodies

TUESDAY DECEMBER 1 is the Commemoration of the Martyrs of Oxford University; hundreds of scholars and students of this University were killed under the Tudors for keeping alive the thousand-year-old Faith and worship of the Church of England. Many of them had had to flee to colleges abroad where they completed their training for the priesthood before returning to their native land ... and to martyrdom.

MASS AT S THOMAS'S 7.45 a.m. (LATIN)

SATURDAY DECEMBER 5 is the traditional date for S Birinus of Dorchester. He came from Rome around 635; converted and baptised the King of Wessex and set up his bishopric in Dorchester at a time when there were no bishops either in Winchester or Lincoln. In more recent days, when the Diocese of Oxford was in Catholic hands, and the see of Dorchester had been revived as merely a suffragan see of Oxford, the Bishop of Dorchester was allowed, just on S Birinus' day, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester Abbey with the full ceremonial of a diocesan bishop. On one memorable occasion in the 1940s the Pontiff gave his blessing at the end of Mass with such enthusiasm that his ring flew off his gloved hand and could only with difficulty be recovered from behind a radiator! Nowadays there is that sweet little RC church by the bridge with Fr John Osman (who took his own bit of the Patrimony with him across the Tiber some years ago) restoring both the fabric and the Old Mass, while the old Abbey is in the hands of a priestess.

IN S THOMAS'S THERE WILL BE MASS OF S BIRINUS, 7.45 a.m. (LATIN) and
VESPERS OF OUR LADY AND BENEDICTION AT 6.00.

TUESDAY DECEMBER 8, the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, was one of the Church of England's gifts to the rest of the Western Church. We borrowed it from the East in Saxon days; Norman bishops tried to ban it on the grounds that it wasn't observed in Rome; but we hung on to it and eventually Rome came round to our way of thinking. An early contribution of the Anglican Patrimony!

AT S THOMAS'S, MASS 7.45 a.m. - new Rite; 11.30 LATIN (the old Salve Sancta Parens Mass). Both Masses said.
(Solemn Mass at Pusey at 6.00 p.m..)

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 9 is the day of S John Diego Cuahtlatoatzin, whose name betrays his Aztec origins, and who had a most beautiful vision of our Lady. And so on the following SATURDAY we observe our Lady of Guadaloup, Patron of America.

MASS AT S THOMAS'S 12.30 (English)

THURSDAY DECEMBER 10, meanwhile, is the memorial of the Holy House. Mary's home at Nazareth is a symbol both of Incarnation and of the sanctity of simple family life. There is a shrine of the Holy House at Loretto in Italy, where the House is encased in baroque finery; there is our restored Anglican Holy House at Walsingham, where the architecture speaks of the joyfully optimistic Anglo-Catholicism of the 1930s; and there was a lost Holy House at Glastonbury, where the void reminds one of the void that lies at the heart of Protestantism, Liberalism, and Iconoclasm.

S THOMAS'S WEEKDAY MASSES ARE USUALLY
WED: FRI: 12.30
MON: TUES: THUR: SAT: 7.45 a.m.