31 March 2010

Fr Thurston and the CTS

I have copies of Fr Thurston's old CTS pamphlets about the pre-Pius XII rites for Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, and very good stuff they are. If anybody has copies of his pamphlets on Tenebrae, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday which they don't want, it would be a kind and cheering Easter prezzy to an aged and decaying priest to pop them into an envelope and send them to me at John Coombe's House/ 28 St Thomas's Street/ Oxford/ OX1 1JL.

A shame nobody is likely to reprint them.

Without a City Wall

Mrs Alexander's hymnographical ditties are easily derided, and they're certainly dated. But as we sing There is a green hill far away without a City wall I am reminded of one of the Passion sermons of S Leo the Great (I recommend all them as Passiontide readings) in which he reminds us that the Lord was not sacrificed in the one great place of the covenanted sacrifices ordained by the Father, in his Temple at Jerusalem. As that invariably readable scholar from the Orthodox Jewish tradition, Jacob Neusner, has reminded us, the 'cleansing of the Temple' can only have had one theological meaning: the supersession of the Torah sacrifices. S Leo argues that that Cross on that hill without that city wall is the Ara Mundi, the Altar of the World, of the Cosmos, where the dear Lord was crucified who died to save us all. 'All' has a flavour of Gentile-as-well-as-Jew, a point made by the Canon Romanus when it mentions the sacrifices of Righteous Abel and of Abraham our Patriarch. But I cannot help wondering if it extends to include not only the pneumatic powers but also whatever is found throughout Creation. I don't quite know how that fits in with C S Lewis's interplanetary literature, but I do keep hearing in my mind's ear Marlowe's Faustus' cry of jealous despair: See how the Blood of Christ streams through the firmament.

30 March 2010

STRONG WOMEN

Having a wilful and well-connected Mother Superior in your patch is not every cleric's preference, especially if she's inclined to start the day after Mass by just happening to mention 'By the way, father, my friend the Emperor of Constantinople is sending me a nice big relic of the True Cross. Will you be around? Could you just knock up a new hymn or two for the occasion?' But I jest: undoubtedly Venantius Fortunatus, the bishop of Poitiers who died in 609, was just as excited by the prospect of such a glamorous relic as was the Rt Revd and Rt Royal Lady Abbess Radegunde herself.

Sing my tongue the glorious battle, sing the ending of the fray,
now above the Cross, the trophy, sound the loud triumphant lay;
tell how Christ, the world's Redeemer, as a Victim won the day.
What a wonderful expression of joy at the thought of Jesus' Crucifixion. Some people say that only the Orthodox really understand S John's perception that Jesus' death on the Cross is the high triumphant moment of his glory (doxa). But this hymn (Pange lingua) and its twin (Vexilla regis) coming from so very Western a Christian as Venantius prove what nonsense that is.

Triumphant, yes, but before that word Venantius uses another: a Greek word, tropaion. This refers to what you did after winning a glorious battle: first you found a tree; then you lopped its branches off; and you clad it with armour stripped from your defeated foes. Clever of Venantius, to see the Cross as a Victory Tree, and neat to think of the diabolical powers as stripped naked in defeat. Next we have a Latin word, Triumph, which refers to the boisterous procession into Rome after a victory: the Triumphator, his face painted red so that he looked like Juppiter, in his chariot with his legions following and singing. By the chariot wheels marched the leaders of the defeated enemy; they were facing a decisive end in a dark little cellar on the Capitoline Hill (you'll remember that Cleopatra didn't look forward to making her last public appearance in such a way). And what the soldiers chanted was the Triumphant Lay: io triumphe io triumphe. Venantius neatly suggests that we Christans have our own Triumphant Lay: immolatus vicerit; The Sacrificial Victim has won the day. An oxymoron: sacrificial victims usually ended up dead rather than in glory. Or you could call it a paradox; G K Chesterton rightly observerd that it's not easy to be a Christian if you can't take paradox.

The metre of this hymn calls for comment: the trochaic tetrameter catalectic (tumtytumty four times with the final syllable chopped off). What is interesting here is that this metre was used by writers such as Menander in Athenian New Comedy for scenes that are pretty nearly slapstick - Aristotle called it kordakikoteron or 'tending to a lively vulgarity'. I wonder if Venantius chose it because of the joyous exuberance of the procession accompanying Abbess Radegunde's spectacular new acquisition into Poitiers. Roman Triumph Processions were boisterous to the point of being disorderly, the soldiers probably having already made bibulous inroads into their bounties. I'm not suggesting that Pange lingua was written to accompany a drunken orgy, but I bet the procession at which it received its premiere was not quite the sort of prim and stately event that Anglican Outdoor Religious Processions usually are.

The same may be true of some of those first Corpus Christi processions in Avignon after my favourite pope, John XXII, got that festival going and thus gave an airing to the great hymn in which S Thomas Aquinas borrowed Venantius' first three words and his metre.

(And I wonder if Prudentius danced a bit as he composed Corde natus - also in this metre.)

Frocks

The Dawker, God bless his little cotton socks, has described the Holy Father as a leering villain in a frock.

This is super stuff and much to be encouraged. Could somebody whisper to him that Osama bin Laden and most of our terrorist supremoes (supremi?) wear frocks? It would be good to elicit from him yet more such beautifully subtle and intellectual rhetoric on frock-wearers. The BBC World Service could then disseminate his wisdom in the relevant areas of the globe, like Afghanistan and the Shind Valley.

What we need, as an addition to the Rainbow Diversity of our culture, is a flourishing Bomb The Dawker movement.

Ex Fide Henrici Fynes Clinton

Look at the admirable blog Ex Fide for pictures and a thumbnail sketch of the Palm Sunday Liturgy as it was before Pius XII's lackey Hannibal Bugnini, as his first experiment in liturgical wrecking, messed Holy Week up. This blog comes from the London church of S Magnus the Martyr, long the lair of the great, aristocratic, archpapalist Fr H J Fynes Clinton. I suppose this blog may have more such pictures as Holy Week continues. Give NLM and Fr Zed a break and spend Holy Week blogwise among the Anglican Catholics.

Haec omnia gratia amici nostri benevoli Rubricarii.

29 March 2010

Brunero Gherardini THE ECUMENICAL VATICAN COUNCIL II A MUCH NEEDED DISCUSSION

An important new book on Vatican II has just reached me from a kind brother priest, Fr Taylor - thank you, Father. At last, somebody right at the heart of the Vatican is arguing robustly for the points long made by SSPX. I shall be taking a careful look at it after the Pascha. Publisher: cm.editrice@immacolata.ws

Important is not just the book itself, but the fact that such a debate can happen within the Church. Two or three years ago when the Good Shepherd people in Bordeaux regularised their position with the Holy See, they were told that they didn't need to change any of their views, but simply to carry on the debate within the Church. And more recently Anglicanorum coetibus refrained from imposing upon Ordinariates any baggage beyond the contents of the Catechism.

Happy, open-minded, days! A golden Age for those who long for Unity! A thousand flowers blossoming under an enlightened Pontificate!

Get the book and read it!

Pedants' Corner

A helpful word for any who need it: (Anglicanorum) Coetibus is pronounced, in the Italianate 'Ecclesiastical' pronunciation, Chay-ti-buss. This is because (diphthongised) o+e=e; which 'softens' a c.

If you are Ciceronians or Erasmians or whatever, I suppose you say Koy-ti-buss.

In the old-style English pronunciation of Latin, it would be See-ti-buss.

Not Ko-eet-i-buss or Cho-eet-i-buss. Coetus and Coitus are distinct words, although, entertainingly, they do share a common ancestry.

in tot adversis

Da quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut, qui in tot adversis ex nostra infirmitate deficimus; intercedente unigeniti Filii tui passione respiremus.

Thus today's ancient Collect (Grant, we beg, almighty God: that we, who among so many adversities faint on account of our weakness, may through the mediation of thy Son's passion, get our breath back).

How extraordinarily up-to-the-moment those ancient prayers are. The Church is in this very minute under a great Satanic onslaught: the monstrous evil of pedophilia, satanic enough on its own, has been made exponentially even more evil by being spread among the priesthood: men privileged to take the Lord into their own hands morning by morning so as to offer the immaculate oblation with the purest of hearts have become ... filth. And now demonic cunning is using this very enormity for a massive onslaught upon the Church herself, and upon Christ's Vicar, and upon the Faith of millions. Among so many adversities puts it mildly.

The new Rite retains this Collect. But it misses out the words in tot adversis. In the breezy and optimistic confidence of the post-conciliar years, we felt that as the Church made herself up-to-date, threw open her windows to the world, and blew her cobwebs away, old liturgical phraseology about her being besieged by afflictions was not particularly ben trovato.

Oh dear. How Mgr Bugnini's chickens are coming home to roost. One recalls the Lord's words about the yet greater demonic infestation which can occupy the swept and garnished house.

28 March 2010

AN OLIVE BRANCH

The ancient (and EF) formulae for Palm Sunday speak of both Palm and Olive branches. Palm, of course, is the ancient Mediterranean symbol of Victory: and our Lord's triumphant ride into Jerusalem is what we might call the pre-emptive procession of the Great Conqueror. Perhaps we should not think of Holy Week in too 'linear' a way. It is well known that S John's Gospel, read in the Western Rite on Good Friday, emphasises the Victory of the Cross (Victory doesn't have to wait for Easter morning). On Maundy Thursday, the Lord gives his disciples to eat and drink the Body and Blood which, in terms of a simplistic 'linear' approach, have not yet been broken, shed, or sacrificed. Yet he gives them to his disciples as already sacrificed. And Triumph is already integral to Palm Sunday. All the themes and elements of Pascha surface in all the rites of Holy Week; it is a thematic unity, even if poor mortals, bogged down by 'linear' time, have to take the components one at a time. The soon-to-be-taxed bag you brought back from the shop contains all your groceries simultaneously, even if you have to take them out one at a time.

Olive has, if anything, an even profounder ideology associated with it than Palm. It suggests richness and fruitfulness enjoyed in peace. The EF prayers referred to the twig which the dove brought back to Noah, emblem of the end of God's wrath, emblem of the first covenantal peace between God and his people. How fitting to meet it on this day when He who is the New Covenant sets aside the Temple Sacrifices by cleansing the Temple of the beasts awaiting immolation so that, antitype for type, he can set up the Eucharistic New Table of Sacrifice for his new people. We meet Olive again at the Chrism Mass, and I would like here to revive an edifying speculation of Dom Gregory Dix. Ancient Jewish tradition held that the tree of life standing in the midst of the garden of Eden was an Olive, from which came the oil of mercy that cured both pain and death. That is why patristic sources insistently associate the Chrism of Confirmation with immortality and resurrection.

There is evidence that for the 'hippolytan' writings, the tree from which this oil flows is the tree of the Cross. It seems to me that here the images of scripture and tradition merge and mingle. The Cross, the New Tree in the New Garden, is the true tree of life, and the Anointing (Chrisma) which makes and marks us as Christians unto everlasting life flows from that tree. And it is the tree of which Venantius Fortunatus in his Pange lingua teaches us that it is itself soaked, anointed, through and through, with the blood of the lamb ( ...quem sacer cruor perunxit fusus agni corpore).

A preChristian Jewish writing pictures Adam begging to be given of the oil that flows from the tree in garden. He is given for anwer: 'It shall not be thine now, but at the end of the times. Then shall all flesh be raised up and God will give them of the tree of life'. Praise be to God, who, here in the end-time, gives us to be marked with the anointing of eternity.

Anglicanorum Coetibus

An idea occurs to me. Would it not be a useful for our bishops, perhaps after the July General Synod, to set up a 'provisional' Ordinariate Council, not to attempt to force Rome's hand, but to show that they have clergy who mean business and that they are consulting?

27 March 2010

Pervert Priests

For nearly three decades I served in the Diocese of Chichester under Bishop Eric Kemp. One of the things that made him so admired among his clergy was the care and love that he showed towards a priest with a problem. The fact that he gave an errant priest - even one whose lapse had been sexual - a second chance, seemed to us, back in the 1980s, the mark of a fine pastor. In that far-off decade, forgiveness and mercy were thought very highly of. In those days, forgiveness and mercy were thought of as characteristics of our blessed Lord himself. In those days, secular critics of the Church very commonly attacked her for being "unforgiving" towards those who had fallen from her standards in sexual matters. In those days, fashionable 'libertarian' organisations defended the right of pedophile groups to campaign for the legalisation of consensual sexual activity between adults and children. In those days, as we worked our way through the progressive decriminalisation of sexual activities, there were those who believed that the process would eventually encompass all sexualities. Indeed, why, on secular principles, should this not be so? In my lifetime, we used to imprison for homosexuality and abortion. Now these activities have been elevated into secular sanctities which it is increasingly dangerous to blaspheme and which are to be inculcated even among the very young at public expense. I would have no difficulty explaining to a pedophile why his predilection contravened given Christian Dogma, and why its expression was therefore an absolute evil which no little game of situational ethics could for the tiniest moment justify. I do not know how I would even begin to persuade him of the rationality of current public morality.

We all know that those who are gunning for the Pope are hypocrites. We know that they are in many cases dirty hypocrites whose own lifestyle is unmarked by any evidence of sexual continence. We know that they are bigoted hypocrites who are only marginally, if at all, interested if a rabbi or a humanist gets 'done' for pedophilia or if an Anglican diocese is bankrupted by the compensation it has paid out to abused Inuit children. There is one organisation that they detest with a loathing curiously like Hitler's dislike of the Jews. There is one man for whose downfall they have an insatiable bloodlust.

Nil novi sub sole. Dante described (Purgatorio XX 86-88) how Christ was again made captive and mocked in the person of His Vicar.

How very, very, appropriate that this malevolent evil should be reaching its climax in Holy Week. Satan has a real sense of liturgy.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Veggio ... nel Vicario suo Cristo esser catto. Veggiolo un'altra volta esser deriso; veggio rinovellar l'aceto e'l fiele ...

26 March 2010

St John of England ...who he?

Now here's an intriguing thing. When I visited the parish of St Mary the Virgin, Arlington ... sorry to go on about this, but it really was memorable to see with my own eyes the sort of arrangement which the Ordinatiates could give us ... Fr Hawkins very kindly gave me a few copies of a post-card size reproduction of an ikon of John Henry Newman. It appears to have been 'written' in 1991 (!), by someone called Robert Lentz (Info?????). But at the top the inscription reads Ho Hagios Ioannes ho tes Anglias. And he is sporting a very natty halo. Who had canonised him in 1991?

He is holding a scroll inscribed in English "The voice of the whole Church will in time make itself heard" (quoted from???????).

__________________________________________________________________________________(Albuquerque, Albuquerque New Mexico, www.natural-bridges.com

25 March 2010

Mary's YES to God: Annuntiata et CoRedemptrix

Today is the Feast of our Lady's Annunciation, and thanks to the Sublime Compiler of the Celestial ORDO (he's having a particularly ingenious year in 2010) tomorrow is the feast of our Lady of Sorrows - or, in Bishop David Silk's pregnant phrase. "at the foot of the Cross". This latter was abolished, of course, after the Council, but - have you noticed this? - in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal our Lady does get a toe back onto this day: it is provided with an optional alternative collect (not, however, the preconciliar formula).

At last year's memorable Ecumenical Walsingham Pilgrimage, a Methodist friend of mine, Prebendary Norman Wallwork, preached a memorable sermon on our Lady as CoRedemptrix. Here is part of what Father Norman said:
"Mary is the recipient of the sword of sacrifice which pierces her being as she participates in the redemptive offering of Christ at Calvary. The Lukan prophecy of the sword - made by Simeon to Mary in the Temple - and the Johannine picture of the Mother of Jesus - at the foot of the Cross - are really two moments within a single event. Mary's YES to God that she would be the God-bearer was a YES that began in the joy of carrying the Christ child within her but ended as she gazed on her Son on the Cross. For the sacrifice that Mary began to offer in her fiat was a sacrifice she only completed at Calvary. Mary does not make a sacrifice independently of the work of her Son - her sacrifice is united to his. Within Christ's grand oblation of himself in his life and in his death for us all there is comjoined the sacrifice of his Mother. Neither could have been made without the other.

"At the heart of the Eucharist we particpate in the same sacrifice which Christ offers once and for ever. The Eucharistic sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving and the Eucharistic oblation of ourselves to the Father through the Son, in the Spirit, is a sacrifice we can only offer because it is conjoined to the one, true, pure and immortal and ever-prevailing sacrifice of Christ. At every Eucharist there is one sacrifice - Christ's and ours - and within that conjoined sacrifice is mingled the sacrifice of the one who knew - at Calvary - that her sacrifice was finished and accomplished as far as in her lay - as it is finished and accomplished by Christ as far as in him lay - and as it is finished and accomplished by us in this place on this day at this hour."

I feel the Wesleys would have applauded ... and so would S Gregory Palamas and S Bernard.

__________________________________________________________________

The proceedings of the Pilgrimage (978-0-9551151-2-7) can be had from The Ecumenical Marian Pilgrimage Trust/ 31 Kingsley Road/ Plymouth/ PL4 6QP. Ecumenical Prospects of Mary.

24 March 2010

Anglicanorum continues ...

Stepping back a bit from the considerations I have discussed in the last two days, I suggest that there are fundamental questions of ecclesiology involved.

Take the idea that the Church does well to be involved in Community affairs, and that this manifests the Incarnation of the Lord whose Body the Church. I don't feel that this is so much wrong as important but decidedly secondary. Surely, it is historically a working-out of the consequences of the Constantinian revolution, when the Church emerged (metaphorically) from the catacombs of persecution and walked straight out into Government favour and the possibility of changing Society for the better. It owes a great deal to conditions in late Antiquity, when ecclesiastical institutions to some degree occupied a partial vacuum left by the collapse of some imperial structures. But it does not form part of core ecclesiology. The Lord, after all, did not go around giving advice on the structures of secular life and how to improve the economy. He talked about the Kingdom and does not appear to have taught a Marxian Kingdom of this world.

I do not much believe in the notion that the Church is the only institution which exists for those who are not members - august though the proponent of the idea may have been - because I do not believe that the Church exists, primarily and in the last resort, to do good deeds in the world. With all due respect to Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, I notice that the New Testament invitations to fraternal benevolence relate primarily to the redeemed society itself ... "do good unto all men but especially to those who are of the household of the Faith". The heart of Christian ethics in the New Testament epistles is the relationship between those who are fellow members of Christ. Read Philemon, in which, notoriously, S Paul does not discuss the institution of Slavery and appears to have no awareness of the Rights of Man, but bases his entire casuistry on the transforming fact that this slave and this owner are both en Christoi.

I admire (and find myself judged by) those great Saints who, down the centuries, have displayed the unbounded love of Christ to men and women far beyond the visible boundaries of His Body. But fundamentally it is the Church which matters; and the purpose of the Church is to be Christ's one Body and to offer in all places from East to West one pure Oblation. It is of the essence that this Body should be one, as Christ is in the Father and the Father in Him.

That is why I feel so strongly the imperative to Unity. In an imperfect world, discipleship can indeed mean starting in the place where we were placed; it can mean joining with others in the discernment of the way ahead; it can mean making prudential judgements about timescales. But I need to be able to give a straight and honest answer to the Lord's question "Are you walking towards the oneness of My Body, or are you walking away from it?"

22 March 2010

MORE COETIBUS

I find it very irritating that I don't kow how to get my computer to do those joined-up O+Es.

An argument for staying with Rowan and putting up with the Womenbishops which deserves respectful examination, is the "Incarnational" consideration. Here in England, the life of the Church of England is deeply embedded in the life of the Nation. So the Church can appear as an enfleshed sign of the Presence of Christ. This means that a parish priest has the opportunity to be involved in the secular life of his district in a way that RC and Protestant clergy are not. I remember my (second) curacy days in an inner-London slum parish 1970-1973, and our involvement with organs of the Council, with social and community-work groups, with Tenants' groups, with other pressure groups including the Communist Party (which in the 1970s was active in good works and in building social cohesion and pride). I share the view that people without ecclesial links regarded these relationships as natural because they saw the C of E, however confusedly, as relating to the whole community as no other 'Faith Group' did.

Another aspect of the same sort of thing is what I would call the 'porosity' of the C of E. People - especially if they were baptised (and confirmed) as nominal "C of E" - can just drop in ... out of curiosity ... without feeling that this is somewhere wholly alien. They can thereafter be 'hooked' and gradually take a fuller and fuller part in Church life without engaging with complex questions of liminality: without having to decide (as they would if they became Catholic or Orthodox) whether to buy into a definitive credal commitment with implications in terms of breaches in previous relationships. Until - bingo - there they finally are with the full faith. This is real; and I could think of numerous examples of people who ended up RC through this handy little antechamber of Anglo-Catholicism.

These considerations deserve to be taken seriously. People who experience them strongly are not to be despised or derided. I feel, however, that they are now either already unreal or in the process of becoming unreal.

I think that the acceptability of a particular Christian, lay or clerical, in secular community processes is now very much less likely to be a product of his belonging to the Established Church. In as far as such games are still available and possible, my feeling is that they are likely to depend very much more on the personality, interests, and dynamism of the individual than on a C of E background; so that such roles are likely to be just as available to an Imam, a Methodist, or an Ordinariate Anglican. Even in 1970s Southwark, we were helped by the fact that in swathes of the inner City we were just about the professionals still resident in our areas. There is no reason why the same may not be true of Ordinariate Anglican communities.

Finally, I think we have to face up to the fact that in our decade, and not least since the canny and effective Vincent Nichols replaced a bumbling fool at Westminster, the RC Church has shown itself very considerably more successful in maintaining Christian values, ethics, and culture than the "Established" Church. We have to ask ourselves which ecclesial body in this country really now plays the role of Temple or Bell or ......

Anglicanorum coetibus

Friends sometimes ask why nothing much seems to be happening. To which the answer is twofold: that these are early days; and that the arrangements on offer are open-ended. Moreover, there are practical matters to be sorted both at the Anglican and the Roman end. My recollection is that it took something like a decade for the admirable parish of St Mary the Virgin, Arlington, to settle and organise its future.

Of course there are reasons why the process does not seem publicly to be not running at a headlong pace; the most obvious of which is that a community will not move at the same speed as an individual. It's not so much that "groups move at the speed of the slowest member" as that there will be many more complexities to settled.

Some people are surprised that Fr X has no intention of "going" while Fr Y just can't wait. Yet Fr X was always the more popish of the two by far. His church has always seemed more Roman than anything in Rome, while Fr Y's church has always seemed much more 'Ordinary C of E'. It is not always understood that the less "extreme" Anglican Catholics often tend to be more upset than "advanced" churchpeople are by the activities of the C of E. The reason for this is that "moderates" really have loved, thought well of, and expected well of the Church of England. So when she does wildly unorthodox and unorthopractic things, "moderates" get very upset and heartbroken. Fr X and his people, on the other hand, because of their "extremism", never have had any time for the Church of England or expected well of it. They have in fact conducted their affairs as if the C of E did not really exist. Seeing it as already gravely flawed by the mere fact of its canonical isolation from the Holy See, they feel, every time it does something even more unacceptable, like having Womenbishops, that well, not much has changed ... what do you expect?

I do not think it is fair to complain about the tardiness of individuals who are part of a group which is discerning its future. After all, the whole point of the Apostolic Constitution was to provide a way for groups; a bridge which would remain permanently in place. I do rather wonder about individuals who now explain that they don't want to be "Ordinariate Catholics" but just "Ordinary Catholics". Fine; well and good; but in that case why are you hanging around? Shouldn't you have departed some time ago - as soon as it became clear, in Bishop Edwin's lapidary phrase, that the game was up? And - at the very latest - that point was reached when the Anglican bench of bishops made rude noises at Walter Kasper and told him to get lost. And I have even heard the old idea that we must just work and pray even harder to bring the entire C of E round so that there can be a corporate reunion of the whole shooting match. My view is that, as Anglicanism, in a definitive and irrevocable way, sets a course of radical divergence from the Catholic Church, this old notion is just daft.

I do have some sympathy, however, for those who are, for personal or relational reasons, rather trapped. This could refer to laity (or even clergy) in irregular marriages. But I would hope that Roman marriage tribunals might be potential friends here. I gather this has proved to be true in America. Such persons should not give up, and they should investigate the possibilities sooner rather than later. It might be helpful if our bishops indicated sources of assistance. More problematic are those clergy whose situation has elements, sexual or other, which make it most improbable that they would be able to exercise a sacerdotal ministry in communion with the Holy See. I understand how they might feel. I myself have been a priest for more than four decades; my whole life soaked in the disciplines, practices, and instincts of priesthood. Before that, for more than a decade my life was structured around a sense of an inner vocation to priesthood. I would find it immensely difficult now to discern a vocation to the lay state.

I believe we must be patient and understanding, and, above all, avoid cheap jibes and facile condemnations.

21 March 2010

Apostolic Visitations in Ireland

Sounds good to me. When there has been a manifest collapse in the Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy of local churches, this is what the Papacy is for: to intervene, to investigate, to judge, to depose, to condemn, to set up new structures, to call to repentance. It is for this that the See of Peter has a jurisdiction ordinary, episcopal, and immediate over each of the faithful both clerical and lay. I only wish that Rome had done something like this sooner. And in a funny sort of way, this move is rather like Anglicanorum coetibus, in which ther Holy Father reached out a sustaining hand to those oppressed by unorthodox and unorthopractic elites closer home.

Of course, Benedict's course of action will be anathema to those who believe in the autonomy of the Local Church, won't it? If the culture of a local church favours the conditions which give rise to a disgrace such as the pedophile priest scandal, well, that's fine, isn't it? It's what we call Inculturation, which can be the pretext for more or less anything. If the self-perpetuating oligarchies called Episcopal Conferences - and their bureaucracies - are happy to carry on business as usual, then obviously we must do nothing to contradict the Spirit of Vatican II.

The Bishop of Rome is the Successor of S Paul, as well as of S Peter. Distant in body, but present in spirit, he has the right to judge the sinner with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 5) and to set straight the crooked ways of the local church. As the deadly legacy of the Conciliar Decade wreaks ever greater havoc on the Flock of Christ, what we need is a more Pauline Papacy.

20 March 2010

Clearing it up

At long last, an official investigation into Medjugorie. In my view, long overdue. The phenomenon is, by all accounts, so unedifying. I find it very hard, for example, to believe that our Lady would call all religions true, or say anything to encourage the disobedience of some Franciscans to the bishop of the diocese. But this is a rough and unresearched reaction. A meticulous inquiry should sort the matter out. Perhaps, for example, scientific methods could be employed: the 'seers' being interrogated in the Daniel-and-Susanna style.

And the Leadership mummble mummble of Women Religious, at long last, is being examined. It is hard to feel that here, again, the criticism will be that it should have happened a long time ago. And the new ICEL texts ... what I want to know is: why their Advent was postponed from 2010 to 2011; by whose decision and for what reasons. If it was because the Fischpersonns were convincing in their arguments for long and thorough catechesis, well, I think disgusting hypocrisy has won a victory here. Let us hope that the Holy Father will live long enough to ensure that, while having won a battle, they go on to lose the War.

Because we are left praying for the longevity of a Pope who is already frail and has already had serious health problems. I wonder if his delay in attending to his Augaean Stables was the result of a very human desire not to seem to continue as God's Policeman after being elected as the pastoral successor of S Peter. But I do suspect that the main criticisms that historians may make of him will not concern anything he will have done, but his delay in doing it.

The other massive scandal that he inherited, of course, concerned pedophile priests. It is not difficult to imagine the revulsion which this horrible business must have created in him. But if only he had been a little more proactive a little earlier ... I wonder if there is a certain truth in Morris West's rather bloated rhetoric about the Pope having the sins of the world like a leaden cope around his shoulders.

And the big thing which combines all these matters is: are they linked, at least in being the result of the same cultural matrix? Did the Bright Young Men of the Sixties ... even perhaps Fr Ratzinger ... fail to see how much of Satan there was in the giorno which to be was addressed by the aggiornamento? Was there an excess of self-confident optimism about the goodness of human nature in that Conciliar Decade?

Is it too much to hope that the Vatican/SSPX debates will address this radical question?

19 March 2010

Collapse of Mother Damnable; and Marylin is caught short

A package from the diocese of Oxford; as always, being ecological, I keep the sheets which have clean backsides, so to speak, by my printer, and bin the rest. Today, however, a little yellow sheet catches my eye. It's not from the Bishop - he's pink - but from Marylin. I had better explain for transpontines and papists that the DDO - Diocesan Director of Ordinands - is pretty well always named Marylin in the Church of England nowadays. (As well as Marylin, there is always also a Director of Women's Ministry; I wonder if, when we reach the point at which there are more women than men on the clergy list, this will change to a Director of Men's Ministry. Somehow ...)

Marylin is passing on the news that General Synod, frantic for money in this awkward interval before they collar the Methodists' assets, is having to cap the money spent on clergy training. This means cuts in those who get full-time, old-style seminary training, and those allowed to collect a degree in the course of training. More will be educated part-time in Ministerial Training courses in which the basic presuppositions are not Catholic. Which means that they will have no priestly formation in the real sense of the word. It must be rather irritating for women - some women, the good ones - finally to have won through to acceptance when they will now only get a notional formation.

Time was when the Anglican clergy were much admired for their culture and learning even among those who disliked the C of E. Mind you, this was always a bit of a fraud. Give men a nice country rectory and an Oxbridge degree and a bit of social respect and it's not too difficult for the crafty ones to simulate erudition. I know; I've pretty well raised this game to an art form myself. But there was something behind it all.

It will be a poor old thing, the House of Bondage, in a few years time. Not even a fancy facade.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wilfrid Ward described the C of E as Old Mother Damnable; (Blessed) John Henry Newman called her the House of Bondage.

18 March 2010

Clerical celibacy

A few days away because of a family bereavement; and I find awaiting me endless emails on the subject of clerical celibacy. "And" (as the Daft Dimbleby said when commentating the 'Queen Mum's' funeral procession because he hadn't done his homework on all the regiments she had a link with and which were marching behind her coffin) "still they come". I'm just deleting them all now unread as fast as they pour in.

Personally, I am unfazed by the question of whether married clergy in the post-Apostolic period did or did not continue to have "sexual relations" with their wives. Let us assume that complete sexual abstinence was the rule. In that case, the approval by the Church in subsequent centuries and in particular contexts of married and sexually active clergies is a clear example of development. And to those of us who believe in development under the safe guidance of a Magisterium, there surely isn't any problem about this.

However, "Continuing Anglicans" with a fetich for clinging to what they believe the Bible says and the "Primitive Church" - whatever that is - did, really have got to disprove the case for clerical abstinence in those "early" days of the Church, or the poor soppy things really are up a gum tree without their trousers on.

There are also not inconsiderable problems for papists who derive extreme conclusions from the case for such abstinence. They have to explain why a "development" sanctioned by the Papacy really is - in their view - so iffy. And since the Latin Church itself has abolished celibacy for all in Major Orders by allowing (not as an exception but as a regular institution) married deacons, and since the Sacrament of Order is one and undivided ... well ... isn't there a spot of explaining to be done there too?

I suspect that there is a fair bit of work to be undertaken here. It should perhaps be done within the context of the very considerable development in the understanding of sexuality which Pius XI displayed in Casti Connubii.

17 March 2010

PREDESTINATION?

The blog that offered you the opportunity of out-of-the-box thinking on Purgatory now does the same with Predestination (incidental query: why do so many Roman Catholic clergy in North America have the Christian name Calvin? Who is the Saint after whom they are named and who provides them with their Name Day?).

In the Old Rite (I think I must have in mind a Rite older than Pius XII), the second Commemoration to be added to the Collect of each Lenten Feria begins Almighty and Everlasting God, who dost rule over both the quick and the dead together and hast mercy upon all whom thou dost foreknow will be thine by faith and work ... The crucial phrase is "quos tuos fide et opere futuros esse praenoscis". The Prayer goes on to pray that both those kept in the flesh by the present age and those whom the future age has received already may have their sins forgiven.

The corresponding Secret begins God, to whom alone is known the number of the elect which is to be placed in heavenly felicity, and ends by asking that the names of all those whom, commended by prayer, we have taken up, and of all the faithful, may be kept written in the book of blessed predestination.

There! Sort all that out, if you dare. As you are doing so, I will comfortably reflect that one of the most exciting things about the sort of Liturgy that has grown organically and by accretion over many centuries is that it does contain such conundrums ... things that no liturgist of our own day would, in a year of Sundays, ever dream of either composing or including. The newer Rite is not all new in the sense that every word in it has been composed afresh at one moment, en atomoi, in the Bugninizeit. Hundreds of its formulae do truly come from the old Latin books of the first millennium, and in the cases of some them one can rejoice in their rediscovery. But they have been selected (and sometimes 'emended') because they match up to the accepted orthodoxies of just one moment. So the collection as a whole is conceptually flat, unproblematic, and unmysterious. I am reminded of the advice given by C S Lewis's Screwtape, about the importance for Tempters of keeping the Ages separate, so that nobody will learn from another age than his own, and there will be no 'risk' that the characteristic errors of one generation may be corrected by the insights of another.

I think this is important.

16 March 2010

Fay ce que voudras

... and call your House Thelema. I can't for the life of me recall who said and did this, but I was reminded of him the other day when I walked up S Giles. In the window of the Quakers' Meeting House was : "THOU SHALT" in gothic capitals followed by "decide for yourself" in modern cursive.

I am fairly horrified. Time was when the Quakers were thought of as a gentle folk, egalitarian and pacifist by inclination, who were regarded with affection even by those who disagreed with their distinctive dogmas. When their sect originally began, their simplistic biblicism led them to talk to each other in a comic dialect, that of the Authorised Version of the Bible viewed through eyes innocent of syntax (they used thee as both Nominative and Oblique). Now, apparently, they not only treat quasi-biblical English with contempt, but have descended into the extremest form of anomia.

Even the likes of Richard Dawkins are not amoral antinomians. As far as I can understand them, 'Humanists' adhere to to a rather flabby form of the "Utilitarianism" which we were taught to be able to write General Studies essays about when we were bright little Sixth Formers working for Oxford Scholarships. But it is something. The Quakers, however, apparently now believe that not only are codes such as the Decalogue to be viewed with contempt; but that anybody can do whatever he decides. Murder, apparently; genocide; pedophilia; snuff movies; suicide bombing; sex slavery; the grossest forms of economic exploitation - if you decide to do them, you'll have Brother Quaker patting you on the head with kindly approval. "At least you didn't just blindly follow some rules invented by someone else", he will gently murmur.

I think think it is high time that some enquiry is launched into what is clearly a sordid, dangerous, and dirty little cult. At least Islamic and other terrorists have some sort of notion that there is right and that there is wrong, however corrupted their moral perceptions may be. Quakers, so they assure us, don't ... except for the one maxim ignore rule-books and make your own decisions.

15 March 2010

SARUM ... 1549

Oh dear ... yet again the dread word "Sarum" has been waggled around over the prospect of Ordinariate liturgical revision. I will risk the wrath of the Pastor of the Adur Valley by expressing a sense of horror.

I am capable of juggling with the EF in Latin, the EF in English, the OF in Latin, the OF in English, and of leaping in mid-circus from an ICEL horse to a Common Worship one. 1662 holds no terrors for me. Nor does the imminent New ICEL.

Have I really got to add another option to all this?

And I'm even less keen when 1549 raises its ugly head. Dix demonstrated conclusively that Cranmer was very heterodox; McCullough proved the same without apparently being aware that Dix had got in decades before him. 1549 made the common folk of England rise in rebellion; Cranmer's foreign friends persuaded him that it was, from their point of view, flawed, and so it was soon replaced by the rite which (apart from minor changes) has had statutory authority ever since. 1549 must have been the most short-lived liturgy in Anglican history; nobody loved it, nobody wanted it, and I don't want it now.

14 March 2010

Saint Thomas More

The Founder of the College in which I taught Classical Languages and Literature, and Theology, for three decades, once observed that "Education without Religion is a pure Evil". I was reminded of Nathanael Woodard's decisive and true words when Fr Hawkins (of the 'Anglican Use' parish at Arlington in Texas) took me to lunch in the small but perfectly formed College of S Thomas More in Fort Worth. Here I found, alive and very well, the ancient ideal of the Christian Respublica Litterarum. The spirit of Thomas More, Totius Angliae Cancellarius, and of John Henry Newman, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalis Diaconus, greeted one at every turn.

"The Fellows and Tutors of the College are its principal asset, representing as they do a community of learning founded by the great Greek poets and philosophers, the law-givers and Gospel writers, sometimes neglected, always recovered and vivified, and living still ..." Perhaps there is something a trifle American about the confident assertiveness of this, but the more I think about it, the more important and true it seems. Education is not, as modish idiots will have it, about each student working out for himself ab initio what is true for him; it is about Traditio, the handing down of that Christian culture which baptised Greek and Roman civilisation. And in this little Texan College, that is exactly what they do. The Syllabus is headed by a quotation from Richard Weaver: "If we really mean business, this will mean Latin and Greek". And it starts off with Book I of the Iliad ... and just carries on from there ... and keeps alive the reality of both Quadrivium and Trivium.

As we sat down to lunch, I felt a trifle undressed, since I had not thought to include my MA gown in the luggage which American Airlines transported for me. But, undeterred, I turned to the young man on my right and asked him what he had been doing that morning. "A poem by Horace about Cleopatra", he replied. So we batted around some ideas concerning Nunc est bibendum and it was quite clear that he knew what he was talking about. This led (Classicists will recognise the train of thought) to the slaying of Turnus at the end of Aeneid XII: where, once again, the student was well-informed. Well done, I thought, Harry Lacey, Fellow and Senior Tutor in Classical Studies (who, incidentally, is a member of the congregation at St Mary's, Arlington).

"The great tradition of humane letters is a gift to be studied, cherished, and handed on from generation to generation ... poetry, philosophy, the classical languages, history, and mathematics ... The study of these natural disciplines with the study of theology forms a Christian classicism that has been the intellectual heart of our civilisation for seventeen centuries ...."

Exactly. Three ... and more ... cheers for Dr James Patrick, the Chancellor; Harry Lacey, the Dean (both of them, incidentally, formerly Episcopalian priests); and all the members of this "academic fellowship". In aeternum floreat.

13 March 2010

How do you decline Texas?

Not that anyone would wish to decline a visit to this fascinating and welcoming State. What I mean is: in terms of Latin grammar, would it be Texas, Texadem, Texadis ... or, more Hellenically, Texas, Texada, Texados ... or what? There must be an answer to this, because, as I could see in my recent trip to the land of bluebonnets and purple sage, Classical Languages are far from dead there. This became clear to me when I caught Terry Southard At It on my first evening there: doing her Latin homework. A group of them meet for lessons after the Parish Mass on Sundays in the Church of St Mary the Virgin Arlingto (see previous posts). And the next day Fr Hawkins took me visiting ...

We went first to look at the (Catholic) Cathedral of Fort Worth; rather ugly outside, but a wonderland within. It was built by a French priest in the 1890s (I must resist the solecism of calling it 'Victorian') for a congregation which, judging from the dedicants of its stained glass windows, was largely Irish. And it looks like a church built by a Frenchman for Irishmen. Its fittings are superb; late French baroque ... for example, our Lady in swirls of drapery leaning forward so that the bulgy crown upon her head looks to be in danger of toppling off. To transfer a topos, if you couldn't afford to go to France for a holiday, a visit to S Patrick's (yes!) Cathedral would be a good substitute. For contrast, we then dropped in on the old stockyards, through which cattle are still driven daily by elderly gentlemen one of whom had those exquisitely drooping moustaches which seem to descend well below the collar-bone.

But we couldn't stop longer than it took to buy postcards for my grandchildren because we were destined for lunch at the College of St Thomas More. It became clear that we had arrived as we parked our car beside a nice young man wearing an MA gown in a back street positively pulsating with Latin and Greek culture .... to be continued shortly.

12 March 2010

Church Dedications

Interest has been shown in this question after my last post, which concerned the large percentage of churches in England dedicated to our Lady.

As a footnote, I draw attention to English Church Dedications by Nicholas Orme (Exeter, 1996). Orme regretfully pointed out that Frances Arnold-Foster was to all intents and purposes useless as far as medieval evidence is concerned, since she relied upon what, in 1899, were regarded as the dedications of English churches and did absolutely no research. Later writers were little better. In fact, Orme's research in medieval sources demonstrated that a very high percentage of such dedications were invented by Georgian antiquaries or Victorian High Churchmen. Earlier writers were unaware of this, and equally unaware that so great were the discontinuities of the English Reformation that pretty well everywhere the dedications were forgotten very soon after the sixteenth century ruptures. Exceptions occurred in towns, where a plurality of churches meant that people had to retain some way of distinguishing each one; and where, in the countryside, two villages needed to distinguish themselves (Snoring S Cosmas; Snoring S Damian).

Thus, in Devon, I had seven village churches. Of these seven, one retained the dedication it can be shown to have had in the Middle Ages. One is now known to have been dedicated to S Andrew, but was assigned in 1742 to S Mary, probably on the ground that the parish fair happened close to February 2. The other five churches have completely lost their original dedications, and the ones they now enjoy are post-medieval conjectures.

That Andrew dedication is interesting. Saxon and Norman bishops going round consecrating unconsecrated churches (a lot of this happened in the twelfth century) worked from books descended lineally from those brought here in the Saxon period, and were marked with a preference for the Saint to whom S Gregory and the Augustinian Mission had been so devoted. So the comparative popularity of S Andrew is yet another indication of the profound Romanita of Saxon England.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anybody with an academic interest in the assertions I make in my last paragraph will find the evidence in the (fairly) new HBS edition of Leofric.

11 March 2010

It's happening

In posts dated October 20, 2009, and February 3, I foretold and warned that a horrifying crescendo of abuse against the Holy Father would characterise this year, the year of his prospective visit to this country. I am not in the least gratified to discover that I appear to be right. We all need to pray and offer Masses regularly for this deeply holy and admirable man.

We hear, too, the old nonsense that clerical abuse scandals are somehow connected with the rule of celibacy. This is nonsense. In the Church of England, where clerical marriage is allowed, I know of horrible examples of such abuse. And it not only happens among clergy who have chosen not to marry; the idea that a married man is uniquely proofed against this perversion is simplistic rubbish.

I also know of accusations made against both priests and schoolmasters which were false and which nevertheless ruined the lives of those accused. That is also a peculiarly horrible form of abuse. How sure are we that all the accusations currently being relished by our sick and prurient media are true? After all, people who expend much effort in digging big holes are not commonly attempting and hoping to find nothing.

St Mary of the Virgin?

Here in the Church of England, a very large percentage of our churches is dedicated to our Lady under the simple and gracious title of St Mary the Virgin. Post-Irish-immigration RC churches tend to prefer to be our Lady of something-or-other or the something-or-other of our Lady. Which is why, Fr Allan Hawkins tells me, his Anglican Usage Catholic parish in Arlington, Texas, is sometimes misdescribed as "St Mary of the Virgin". The elegant Englishness of "St Mary the Virgin" was deliberately chosen by his congregation when, in the 1980s, they entered into full communion with the Holy See (they were previously St Bartholomew's). This process was equally simple and elegant: on Pentecost Sunday they celebrated their last Mass together as Anglicans; a fortnight later Father became a priest in good standing with the RC diocese of Fort Worth and St Mary's resumed its communal life of witness to the Catholic faith as that has been received by Catholic Anglicans.

It seems quite English and very Anglican in a pleasantly old-fashioned sort of way ... the Angelus after the Sunday Parish Mass sung in our traditional melodies; more of Mass at the High Altar than at the Seat; use of the biretta ... and of course the use of the Prayer Book (the 1979 American Prayer Book, with the Roman Eucharistic Prayers, called The Book of Divine Worship). Any Anglican of a "Catholic" inclination - but not too "extreme" - would find himself completely at home here. The only thing that might slightly surprise her would be the size of the congregations; these have become very much larger since St Mary's swapped Canterbury for Rome; a hundred or so at both 8.00 and 6.00; a couple of hundred at 10.30. These people are not all former Anglicans; not unnaturally, quite a few Roman Catholics have found the worship, traditions, and style of St Mary's to their taste. Church life is vibrant, forward-looking, and immensely friendly and welcoming. Fr Hawkins (formerly of Stevenage and Swindon) maintains very warm relationships with his Bishop (a fairly new and 'traditionalist' appointment who has massively increased the number of seminarians under his wing and is very fond of the 'Anglican' parish he inherited) and with neighbouring clergy, both Anglican and RC.

It is difficult not to hope that this experiment ... no, it has been going for a generation; this highly successful adventure will prove transplantable to an English context. An Anglicanism reconciled to a greater Christendom - and showing how it can be a true ecumenical bridge - is just, surely, what the Holy Spirit is calling for. Go and look at Arlington if you aren't sure it's possible. What in the last resort is so impressive is that it has bedded down to look so natural and, in the best sense of the word, so ordinary.

10 March 2010

USA

Well, I'm not sure I know much more about the US of A as such. You see, I went for just a few days to stay with Craig and Terry Southard in Arlington and have a look at Texas; thinking that it would be a typical bit of America ... in my ignorance. Now I appreciate that The Lone Star State is really quite different and special; acute, intelligent, and with natural good taste. For example ...

One afternoon we spent a happy couple of hours looking at "the West" ... as seen through the eyes of painters including C M Russel and F Remington, both of whom seemed as miraculously adept in at getting a horse into bronze as into oils. I found myself wondering whether Russell (who just about lived late enough) ever saw the art of the Irish hippophile Jack Butler Yates, and whether he ever saw theirs. Then we strolled down across the lawns (where with my own eyes I SAW A MOCKING-BIRD!!!) to a gallery (the Kimbell) which would be the envy of any city this side of the water ... where Tiepolo and Rubens and the rest of the Big Boys were on show (to the sound of live music); but also a modello by Bernini for his fountain in the Piazza Navona; I could have walked slowly round it for hours. Then ... good heavens ... Michelangelo's first painting, done when he was an adolescent: horribly feely demons surrounding a delightfully indifferent and supercilious S Anthony. And, just round the corner, a late fifteenth century German silver statue of our Lady imperially crowned and standing upon the moon. I wonder if her wearing the Imperial crown was common on the continent at this time; there is a stone carving of Maria Assumpta thus crowned near here at Sandford upon Thames, which I suspect might have come at the Dissolution from the Oxford Whitefriars - but I have been having trouble paralleling the Imperial crown in other Marian iconography in England. I also wonder when the crescent moon (which we of course associate with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) became a common motif in England.

Then, however, I made a mistake. We went to a nearby Dairy Queen, where I had ... Oh dear, I can't quite recall the name ... a sort of massive Ice Cream and Chocolate and Brownie volcanic eruption. Temptations, temptations. But I disgraced myself. I couldn't finish it. Fortunately, a charming and well-read seven-year-old called (apologies to her if I'm spelling this wrongly: spelling never was my strong point) Mikayla very kindly assisted me by finishing it off.

And, by a happy coincidence, there was also nearby a church - St Mary the Virgin, Arlington - which belongs to the Anglican Usage group of parishes set up (with Cardinal Ratzinger's connivance) during the time of John Paul II. More about that, if you would be interested, soon.

Texas has got just about everything except that I didn't get to see Boss Hog.

9 March 2010

APOLOGIES ...

... to close friends who have emailed me and got very terse replies. I nipped across the Herring Pond and am, of course, now overwhemed with catching up. I hope the brief replies I zingged off will do ...

The Sacred Heart and the Wounds of Christ

It is a commonplace to point out that in counter-Reformation Latin piety, the Sacred Heart occupies the place formerly enjoyed by the cult of the Five Wounds. Are there losses and/or gains in this?

Cardinal Ratzinger once pointed out that "In biblical language, the 'heart' indicates the centre of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation". And in The Pierced One he writes of all the Old Testament refences to the Heart of YHWH (e.g. Hosea: "My Heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender") and argues that in Christ "the anthopomorphisms of the Old Testament are radicalised and attain their ultimate depth of meaning". I think his paper is worth rereading; and I think in just those two brief quotations I have given from the Holy Father there is a great deal to stimulate thought.

And perhaps one great advantage of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart is that it is essentially a devotion to the Risen Lord.

But, in favour of the Five Wounds Devotion, it can be said that there is need for a real interior appropriation of the sufferings of Christ. And visiting imaginatively a single wound can move one more than can a generalised glance at unimaginable suffering which is outside one's own capacity for real empathy. I think it was while watching Dr Zhivago in the '60s that I was aware of the cinema audience freezing with horror - not when the Cossacks sabred a crowd; that was just History - but when one character, standing before a mirrior, steeled himself to pour iodine into the slash on his face. And the The Sacred made Real exhibition moved me most when I looked at the raw knees and damaged fingernails of the Dead Christ.

8 March 2010

The Five Wounds pro aliquibus locis.

At the back of preconciliar missals, there is delightfully readable appendix of Masses which may only be used by indult in particular places. For example, on the Fridays of Lent the following Votives may be used:
After Ash Wednesday: The Holy Thorns of the Crown of Christ.
Week 1: The Sacred Spear and Nails of OLJC.
Week 2: The Most Sacred Shroud of OLJC.
Week 3: The Sacred Five Wounds of OLJC.
Week 4: The Most Precious Blood of OLJC.
(In Passion Week, of course, the main body of the Missal gives the Seven Sorrows of the BVM. Interestingly, the Third Typical Edition of the postconciliar Missal gives an alternative Collect for the ferial Mass this day: a new collect of our Lady of Sorrows.)

You will remember that the old English Votive of the Five Wounds consisted essentially of another Mass, the Votive of the Passion, with a few clauses added and a whole lot of very 'medieval' material before the Gospel. Aliquibus locis gives the same Votive of the Passion as the Mass of the Five Wounds, but with different Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion.

By an unfortunate oversight in the period before Vatican II, the relevant Roman Dikastery never got round to constructing a Local Calendar for the Diocese of Oxford. So I have had to do one for my own use when saying the Old Rite (for no ORDO is complete without the addition of the local Calendar). My general principle has been the obvious one; Oxford Diocese includes three counties each of which belongs to a different RC diocese. So I have taken, from the Calendars of those dioceses, the feasts which relate to the counties of the Diocese of Oxford. But I have made one or two additions.

When the people of many parts of England rose in rebellion against Edward Tudor in 1549, carrying the Banner of the Five Wounds in front of them, there was one respect in which the peasantry of the South West was fortunate. There was an Exeter man, Vowell, a strong Protestant but a fair historian, who left an account of their insurrection. Other areas lacked a historian, so that we know very little of what happened in them. But we do have lists of those whom the government ordered to be executed in Oxfordshire - and of where they were to be killed. And the list makes clear that this is only the tip of an iceberg; that very many disaffected have already been killed.

So it seemed to me appropriate to incorporate the Feast of the Five Wounds into my Calendare ad usum cleri Oxoniensis.

6 March 2010

Bird-Watching and the Five Wounds

If you get stuck into your copies of that wonderful series of books in which Professor Eamon Duffy, of the junior University, has rehabilitated English medieval religion (and most recently the Counter-Reformation of Queen Mary and Cardinal Pole) you will find all the necessary background about the prominence of this devotion in late medieval England. On this blog I prefer to give you fresh stuff rather than plagiarising or epitomising, so I won't labour the point (What? You haven't got Duffy? Well, you should have).

If you want a holiday that combines good coastal walking, the possibility of sighting Fr 'Streaming' Zed and lots of other twitchers photographing the rare Choughs which became extinct in Cornwall but have now mysteriously reappeared, go to Cornwall (well, the coasts are more spectacular and the choughs gather in flocks of forty or more in the Kingdom of the West, County Kerry. But Cornwall is a good second best). While you are there, look at the medieval bench-ends which you will find surviving in dozens of the churches. Again and again you will find the shield of the Five Wounds appearing among the designs. You have, moreover, a good chance of finding bits of medieval stained glass with the same design. In the middle of 'the arms of Christ' is his pierced Heart, and in the four corners the pierced hands and feet. Sometimes, in the middle, there might instead be a Chalice and Host, and the Host might have the Heart combined with it.

It is not surprising that the people of this peninsular rose in rebellion when, in 1549, Edward Tudor tried to impose the alien and superstitious cult of Reformation Protestantism upon them (Duffy, Morebath). Of course, hardline Roman Catholics among you will not approve of these yokels; they had been in schism from Rome since 1534 and so they cannot claim to be proper Catholics, only Anglican Catholics. But, for us, they are our beloved martyrs. And it is not surprising that they carried banners before them embroidered with the Five Wounds of Christ.

Dr Cranmer and his cronies were very scared. And like a lot of scared people, they turned nasty (Dom Gregory Dix writes beautifully about the intellectual dishonesty with which Cranmer, in his writings, practised suppressio veri, concealing facts which simple people might not know for themselves). Cranmer wrote sarcastically about the banners of the Five Wounds, and admonished these brave folk that true devotion to the Redeemer had nothing to do with waving such banners around (I've mislaid the quotation I meant to deploy; can anyone help?).

But I don't think Cranmer had always been so inimical towards the Devotion to the Five Wounds.

Cranmer and the Five Wounds soon.

Americans

Deo volente, when you read this I shall have arrived in North America in an attempt to find out what Americans are really like. Hitherto, of course, my knowledge of them, while extensive, has been totally derivative and mostly literary.

As a small boy, I read the Greyfriars School books ... about William George Bunter and his classmates in the Remove. In those happy pages I met the sole American in the school, Fisher T Fish (I believe the T stood for Tarleton). He was a loan shark. I don't quite recall whether his father was a partner in Lehmann Brothers.

When I came to man's estate, I read in Zuleika Dobson of Oover, the American undergraduate member of the Junta, who waxed eloquently for page after page in defence of the simple and laconic colonial manners of himself and his countrymen. The turgidity of his rhetoric was protoObamaesque.

Then I fell victim to New Media and I hired a Television for the children on winter afternoons. We watched The Dukes of Hazard; nothing, in fact, about aristocratic gamblers but a lot about a typical, wholesome, North American community. I remember a couple of good-looking and wholesome young men, their wholesome car, and a girl with a couple of (invariably unclad) wholesome legs; but what particularly mesmerised me was the figure of Boss Hogg, the local politico, who had all the verve and charm and wholesome integrity of the Kennedy family. I believe he wore a white leather suit.

Of such is my imagining of Americans and their mores composed. Shall I be disappointed when I meet the real thing? Future posts may reveal ...

5 March 2010

Heathrow

Had better dash to the airport and mug up on all the advice I have been given on how to mislead Yankie immigration officials. Before I go: back to those Cluniac hymns for Christ the Priest. It's probably a waste of time (I expect they'll just universalise the Spanish propers), but there may just be a chance of persuading the CDW to consider those French Cluniac hymns from the seventeeth century which some of you so cleverly suggested and then dug up. Especially if CDW are told how dear they are to Anglicans. Could those of you more IT savvy than I am belabour the relevant authorities with appropriate information and advice?

It would be fun to have pulled this off.

The Mass of the Five wounds

The reason why I have a niggling doubt about the account of what S Raphael said to Pope S Boniface is that the Mass found in the Sarum Missal for the Five Wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ seems to be more or less the same as the Mass de Passione Domini preserved from earlier in the Tridentine Roman Missal. Phrases have been added: in the Collect, after 'descendisti' the words 'et in ligno Crucis quinque plagas sustinuisti'; and in the Postcommunion, after 'deprecamur ut', the words 'per tuae passionis et vulnerum tuorum merita'. And there are areas of the Sarum Gradual and Sequence which are clearly textually corrupt. Therefore, obviously, Sarum's is an adapted, secondary version of this Mass. Don't you agree?

No? What? You want to know whether I have checked how far back the Passion Mass goes and whether I have considered the possibility that the version in the current EF Missal might be a pruned and secondary version of the Five Wounds Mass? Well ... er ... um ... no, ... er ... I ... um ... er ..., as my students used to say when, having listened to their miserable essays, I began savaging them. It is possible. The Counter-Reformation was a rather puritanical period. The Calendar in the original Missal of S Pius V is a tree even more savagely trimmed in some respects than Dr Bugnini's. The lovely Raffael pictire of La Madonna di Foligno, a copy of which is part of the baroque superstructure of the High Altar at S Thomas's, was ejected from the Church of Sancta Maria in Ara Coeli on the Capitoline Hilland and a dusty old medieval ikon reinstated in its place. So somebody certainly could have taken scissors to the florid old English medieval Mass. We must not assume that earlier versions are always shorter and that time brings accretion: that is one of the most egregiously erroneous assumptions of twentieth century NT textual criticism, as my old and beloved mentor, the greatest of all textual critics, George 'Eclectic' Kilpatrick, formerly Dean Ireland's Professor in this University, used to love demonstrating.

So, no rash assumptions. If anybody likes to do the necessary research, I'm very willing to eat my biretta and concede that the Archangel Raphael did indeed give all those mathematically precise instructions to Pope S Boniface ... oh, and you might as well, while you're about it, suss out which Boniface that was.

But while you're busy with that, I'll start drafting the next post on the history of this Mass and devotion.

4 March 2010

The Five Wounds

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo is the beginning of the psalmus of the Introit (Officium in Sarum terminology) of the Votive Mass of the Five Wounds of Jesus. This was one of the most popular Votives used in Medieval England ("drill into it", as the inimitable Fr Zed would say, by looking for it in the index of Duffy's Stripping of the Altars). Here is a translation of the introduction to it in the Sarum Missal:
"S Boniface the Pope was sick even unto death; and he urgently begged of God that his life in this world be prolonged. The Lord sent to him S Raphael the Archangel with the Office of the Mass of the Five Wounds of Christ, saying to the Pope:
'Get up and write this Office; and say it five times; and immediately you will receive your health. And whatever priest shall celebrate this Office five times for himself or another sick person, he shall receive health and grace, and in the future he will possess eternal life, if he perseveres in good. And in whatsoever tribulation a man shall be in this life, if he procures of a priest this Office to be read five times for himself, without doubt he will be set free. And if it is read for the soul of a Departed, immediately after it shall have been completely said, that is to say, five times, his soul will be loosed from pains ...
'Then Pope S Boniface confirmed the Office by Apostolic Authority, granting to all truly confessed and contrite, the seventh part of the remission of all their sins if they should have read it devoutly five times ..."

It was an enormously popular Mass among both clergy and laity (particularly when the latter were making wills). It is not surprising that Master Patrick Haliburton [he was a MA of S Andrews] had these familiar words carved on his choir stall: I will sing for ever the mercies of the Lord.

But - call me an typical Enlightenment sneering sceptic if you must - I don't entirely believe the story about S Boniface and the Archangel. I'll tell you why soon.

3 March 2010

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo

During my very happy six years in Devon, I discovered gradually quite a lot about an earlier, late fifteenth century, Rector, Patrick Haliburton. It was surprising how details slotted into place. He turned out to be a Scot. Why a Scot in Devon? Well, because he was presented to the living by a Scottish noble, the Earl of Douglas. How did Douglas come to do that? Because the Black Douglases, having tested their strength against King James II of Scots, lost out; and the Earl fled south to England. The English government, anxious to foment trouble north of the Border, made much of him and gave him an heiress for wife, the daughter of the Duke of Exeter. By right of whom Haliburton was presented to the living of Lifton.

And - gracious - Haliburton was a hitherto unknown Archdeacon of Totnes. How did I discover that? By looking, in the library of All Souls' College in this University, at a book he had owned, which had, inked onto the cover, his style and dignity. And towards the end of his life, he went to Jerusalem on pigrimage. How do we know that? Because an inventory of the ornaments of Exeter Cathedral lists a sudary [humeral veil] which he had brought back with him; and the Chapter records reveal a significant gap in his residence a couple of years before he died. And his family were minor nobility from Southern Scotland; he had their coat of arms put into the church windows. Not they it is there now; but a cavalier called Richard Symonds, who was with King Charles in 1644 when King and army stayed at Lifton, recorded it. Not that Haliburton was a senior member of his family. Because he had his own version of the arms carved onto a choir stall (not that it is there now; it languishes in a dark corner of Launceston museum - no, Joshua, not the Launceston in Tasmania). And, to the family arms, the Rector added, for difference, a number of additional charges taken from the arms of Douglas - indicating either a feudal alliance or a family relationship.

And, also carved onto the choir stall, I read a highly abbreviated verse from the psalms: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.

Why those words? I reveal all next time.

2 March 2010

REMEMBRANCE

Strange how words grab people differently. I've just read something by "a sacramental theologian" on how, in the Institution Narrative within the Eucharistic Prayer, Anamnesis must NEVER be translated as 'Remembrance' - because that is just too, too heretical. 'Memory', however, apparently bathes within the bright sunshine of complete heavenly orthodoxy.

There is a problem. Each word, it seems to me, is inadequate, as each suggests to the modern English ear a purely celebral recollection of a past event. That is why Dom Gregory Dix as a consummate mystagogue always used the Greek term anamnesis (which is hardly an option in liturgical texts). But I would be hard put to explain the effortless superiority of 'Memory'. We use it of nostalgia: "Memories, memories", we murmur, as we fondly recall the distant day when Auntie Mildred nearly caused an international incident by pinching the bottom of the fat Italian waiter at that slightly odd cafe a little way down from the Trevi Fountain. But 'Remembrance' does have a hint of objectivity about it: "Have this brandy glass as a remembrance of Uncle Bob".

Frankly, 'Remembrance' has a lot to be said for it. It comes ultimately from the Late Latin rememorari, used by S Jerome to render anamimneskein in Hebrews (re- being a Latin equivalent of the Greek ana-). Friends and enemies have always regarded me as a nit-picking pedant, but I can't detect any subtle difference in nuance between 'Remembrance' and 'Memory'. Neither could Cranmer, who used the two words interchangeably in his Consecration Prayer. Nor did the authors of the Caroline and Non-Juring liturgies (Grisbrooke passim) who in times of persecution rewrote his Liturgy to make it express explicitly the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

There is a fair bit wrong with some of Cranmer's formulae. I have never once used his Consecration Prayer* without some sense of guilt. But it has never occurred to me that I am a heretic when I say "remembrance". I do hope that liturgical revision in Ordinariates is not going to be bedevilled by hoards of people all queuing up each with his own home-made sibboleth.

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

Not that he called it a Consecration Prayer, because he didn't believe in Consecration. It acquired that title when the Prayer Book was tittivated under the influence of Caroline High Churchery in 1662; a telling ikon of the tension between Cranmer's Zwinglian euchology and the rather different eucharistic beliefs of many who down the centuries have been landed with using it.

1 March 2010

To Blackfriars

for a very useful Liturgy Conference. It is not for me to blab on about papers which will be published in the form in which their authors desire them to see the world. But the last one had an interest beyond its subject. The speaker argued that the close connexion between Sunday and the Resurrection is less securely early than we have always thought, and is the result of the appropriation in the Great Church of some ideas of Marcion. I am far from sure what to make of that, but I can see some attractions in the proposition that 'Pascha' referred to the Passion of Christ; remember that big homily of Meleto of Sardis ("Pascha from paschein"); S Paul's emphasis on Christ our Paschal Lamb being sacrificed for us; S Leo's usage of the word Pascha to refer to the Crucifixion (and see my post on When does Lent begin for mathematicians?).

This general approach could fit in with Jacob Neusner's emphasis on the Institution of the Eucharist as a deliberate sacrificial replacement of the Jewish sacrificial system; and would follow on nicely from a Margaret Barkerish idea that the antecedents of Christian worship should be discerned more in the sacrificial system of the Jewish Temple than in fellowhip meals or synagogue services of the Word. So we would see the Sunday Eucharist as, right from the start, a distinctively and unambiguously sacrificial enactment at the heart of Christianity. So Good Bye to dafties like Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and Buchanan. And, for that matter, to some of the spawn of Bugnini and all that 'Spirit of the Council' rubbish about the Eucharist being essentially a meal. Thank heaven that the C of E got it right at the 'Reformation', with the unambiguous statement of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1559 that "In the Mass is offered the true Body of Christ and His true Blood, a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead".

Dom Gregory Dix, the masterly mystagogue of our Patrimony, wrote about the Easter Vigil: "It appears that in the Roman rite c. A.D. 200 the lessons included Hosea 6 and the account of the Israelite Passover in Exodus 12 ... the paschal liturgy of Asia Minor agreed with that of Rome at least in including the lesson from Exodus ... it is probable that the points on which their paschal liturgies agreed in that period are independent survivals of a rite drawn up at a very early date indeed ... nothing could more clearly indicate the close connection of the christian and jewish 'passover' than the choice of this lesson. There followed a lection from the gospel of John, the account of the death and resurrection of our Lord ... the choice of lessons is in the exact spirit of S Paul's phrase 'Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast with joy' " It was Dix's view that this liturgy was a "liturgy of 'Redemption' rather than a commemoration of the historical fact of the resurrection". He regarded the separation of the observance of the Death from that of the Resurrection (both being seen in primarily historical terms) as part of the 'Historicisation' of Liturgy, leading to the invention of Good Friday and the transference to that day of the readings from Hosea 6 and Exodus 12.

This reading of the situation by Dix has been under a bit of a cloud in recent decades. Perhaps it's due for a revival.