31 January 2011

Pastor in valle Adurni ...

... has written, on his blog (the only criticism of which I can make is that his sabbatical prevents him from writing as often as one would wish), a very thought-provoking comment on my piece in re Liverpudlitana (incidentally, while I simply adore the coinage Hepatopolis, offered by a learned correspondent, it is a fact that Vatican documents from the dear old SCR used to latinise the Venice of the North as Liverpudlia). Let me take up and run with one point that Pastor makes: a preference for Bishops administering the Sacrament of Confirmation.

This is very Anglican. In the days when Christianity was an urban phenomenon, a thing of the polis, and pagani were by definition pagans, bishops did perform the unsundered initiatory process of Water-Baptism+Confirmation+First Communion. When Christianity spread into the countryside, this became impracticable and the East responded by keeping the Rite undivided and committing it to presbyters; the West retained the involvement of the Bishop, the par excellence Apostolic Minister, but divided the Rite. Dix used to point out that there were advantages and disadvantages in each choice.

Anglicanism has been the most determined tradition in confining Confirmation to Bishops. In the East, the parish priest regularly chrismates; in the Roman Communion there are many circumstances in which the Sacrament is delegated to presbyters. But in Anglicanism, the absolutist restriction of Confirmation to bishops has led to a deplorable corruption: the multiplication of Bishops as confirming machines who are rewarded for their drudgery by Status and the hope dangled before them of a diocese. That is why we have so many Anglican bishops: for example, in the area of the RC diocese of Plymouth, which, I think, has one bishop, the C of E has two and a half diocesans and four 'suffragans' (which in Anglican terminology means a bishop with delegated jurisdiction who serves a Diocesan). This is driven mainly by the need to have Confirmers. It means, of course, Mitres for the Boys ... well, soon, I suppose, for the Girls as well. I gather that this 'Area Bishop' corruption is becoming increasingly common, too, in Roman Catholicism; that bright young men become Westminster Area Bishops and, having Shown Their Quality, have their names put at the top of the Nuncio's ternas.
I will follow this with an analysis of the corruptions inherent in the modern practice of Episcopacy among Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

30 January 2011

S Gregory Palamas

A kind friend has sent me a Kalendar published by one of the Melkite eparchies in North America. It is good to be reminded how similar the instincts of East and West are when it comes to liturgical observances; the West has Vigils and Octaves and the East has Preparations and days stretching out after a festival until they are concluded by a "Leave-taking". The East is happy to crowd several observances on to one day, just as the West has its 'commemorations'. Oops: I should have said that the West used to do all this, because two generations now have had to live with the Carthaginian General's vandalistic abolition of nearly all Vigils, Octaves and Commemorations.

This Melkite Calendar gives one particularly intriguing example of different observances crowded together on one day. In Orthodox Christianity, as my readers will be aware, the Second Sunday in Lent is the Sunday of the great fourteenth century Hesychast Doctor and mystical theologian, S Gregory Palamas ... the last but certainly not the least of the Greek Fathers. Sadly, nit-picking Westerners used to accuse him of heresy because of some of the terminology he used in his exposition of the wonderful mystery of our Deification in Christ. So, after the 1720s, when the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Successor of S Peter, renewed the fulness of his communion with that other Successor of S Peter a bit further West, it was deemed prudent to remove S Gregory from the Melkite Calendar. To fill the vacuum thus created, in 1843 the Patriarch Maximos III Mazloom made that Sunday the Commemoration of the Holy Relics.

In my 2011 Melkite Calendar, I see that S Gregory has returned to the Second Sunday in Lent. Splendid! Since the Patriarch of Antioch is - surely - the second most senior hierarch (after the Pope) of the Catholic world in communion with Rome, this is a tremendously authoritative affirmation, by the magisterium of the Catholic Church, of the sanctity and doctrinal soundness of S Gregory Palamas (and, by the way, in this calendar S Gregory also recovers his festival on November 16). Not that the Holy Relics have done runner. They share this same Sunday with S Gregory: a happy detail because Mazloom was one of the greatest Melkite Patriarchs, who secured the formal status of the Melkites as a Nation within the Ottoman Empire.

But I can't find within this Melkite Calendar poor old S Mark of Ephesus ... on whose festival a very dear friend of mine was chrismated into Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, I regard the reinstatement of S Gregory Palamas, who lived, taught, and was canonised outside formal canonical unity with the Apostolic See of Rome, as a good omen for the beatification, for the Ordinariate, of our Anglican Catholic beati.

29 January 2011

Justification

Some time ago, Joshua sought clarification of what I wrote concerning fiducia. Let Dix explain the Proddy dogma:

"[Man] needs nothing more, can do nothing more, than be conscious of feeling that confidence in the merits of Christ's sacrifice. He must cling to that feeling of confidence, for it is all that stands between him and eternal torment. Yet even so, he must always remember that this feeling of confidence cannot really undo the terrible effects of original sin in his soul. The fact that he feels this confidence does not render anything he does or could do in itself pleasing to God. He is not in any way made holy even by 'justifying faith'; otherwise his own actions would aid in his own redemption and sanctification; grace would no more be the absolutely free gift of God, but something man had at least partially merited. He is therefore emphatically not made holy but simply 'accounted holy' by God, for the sake of Christ, whose righteousness is imputed to the believing sinner by God through a sort of fiction. But in himself the redeemed and 'justified' sinner remains an entirely sinful sinner still, and only the consciousness of his own faith in the redeeming merits of Christ stands between him and the damnation his own inescapable sinfulness entails. That is the famous doctrine of 'Justification by faith alone', which in the eyes of all protestants was the very essence of Protestantism."

Dix was vilified for what was called a travesty of the Prod dogma. But when, decades later, the ARCIC document on Justification attempted to explain and bury this old controversy, a critique published by English Evangelicals damned it on the simple grounds that they could not find in it the (for them) essential truth that "Fides est fiducia".

Hell, unless you can sustain within your gut a fervent feeling [fiducia] that Christ's merits have saved you! Scary, isn't it?. In such a preposterous perversion of the Christian faith, the Sacraments can only usefully function as tools to sustain this feeling. There is all the difference in the world between this dogma and our belief that the Eucharist is the objective reality, made present, of the Lord's One Sacrifice, so that we can enter into it, and be transformed by it.

28 January 2011

Liverpool Rules OK!

Three cheers for the RC Archbishop of Liverpool, who has decreed that Confirmation should precede First Communion in his diocese. We Anglicans know that this is the right thing to do (however much we sympathise with some of the general principles behind S Pius X's promotion of frequent Communion), and it is good to see a rolling-back of the (really distinctly iffy) common RC practice of deferring Confirmation until after First Communion.

And another cheer for Liverpool; these Sacraments will be conferred on eight-year-olds. There has been a most unfortunate tendency among some in the Roman Catholic Church to follow a deplorable Anglican mistake: of regarding Confirmation as a sort of Christian Bar-Mitzvah, an adolescent Rite of Passage. In my view - I did spend 28 years teaching 13-19 year-olds - nothing is more misguided than mixing up the Sacraments of Initiation in this way with the hormonal problems which thirteen-year-olds are having to face. Moreover, Confirmation is a Sacrament, not a Rite of Passage.

I think this is the time to resurrect a persistent argument of Dom Gregory Dix; that Confirmation is in fact that Baptism in the Spirit of which Biblical and Patristic texts speak. So Confirmation really is terribly important; arguably more important, Dix provocatively urged, than Water Baptism!

Dix's argument has weaknesses; the biggest of which is that liturgical patterns in the early centuries, we now know, were not as uniform as he liked to think; which makes it a little dodgy to try to force every liturgical tradition into the same straight-jacket. But the main reason while Dix was so vilified was that his emphasis on the importance of Confirmation created a very unwelcome obstacle to the pan-Protestant ecumenical schemes then in vogue. It implied that one would have to tell Free-Church people that they lacked something immensely important; or the equally unfortunate alternative of telling them that they were OK after all because they had 'equivalent' rites, such as extending the right-hand of fellowship to adolescents (here again we have a spin-off from the old Anglican error that Confirmation is really about Adolescence).

You don't need to try to persuade me that Byzantium has got things right in its simple, logical, unwillingness to sunder the Sacraments of Initiation at all. I rather tend to think that too. Indeed, I suspect that, more recently than we always assume, Confirmation was conferred upon newly-born Westerners if only their parents were of enough consequence to have a tame bishop right on tap. Isn't this what happened to Elizabeth Tudor? Perhaps the general Western custom of separating Baptism and Confirmation would never have arisen if Christianity had stuck with the old Mediterranean city-bishopric system, in which the bishop was fairly accessible because he was in the nearest market town, rather than acquiring the vast tribal dioceses of Northern Europe*.

But the Instauratio Liverpudlitana is a splendid step in the right direction for Latin Christians. There are elements in S Pius X's 'reforms' which, a century later, can do with reexamination.

Will the Ordinariate be supporting LU or Everton?

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*The Thames formed the boundary between Lincoln and Winchester!

27 January 2011

Ordinariate, Anglican Patrimony, and theological method

In 1948, Dom Gregory Dix wrote these words in a private (and unpublished) letter:

What are the minimum requirements for [Eucharistic] validity? I suppose: (1) a priest; (2) bread and wine; (3) the Words of Institution. (I personally would reduce this last to any plain indication that the rite now being performed with bread and wine by the priest is intended as a deliberate fulfilment of the command at the Last Supper, touto poieite eis ten anamnesin mou. A repetition of the Words of Institution is the most compendious and unambiguous and best authorised way of doing this.)

Dix was writing about the 1552 Communion Office, not Addai and Mari (the Assyrian Eucharistic Prayer which lacks an Institution Narrative). But I suspect he had AM in mind when adding his bracketed caveat. He more allusively suggests the same conclusion when discussing AM in Shape of the Liturgy. In effect, this is the very conclusion that Rome herself came to (see an earlier post) in its agreement with the Assyrian 'Church of the East', some sixty years after Dix wrote.

I suggest that this represents a theological method which is data-driven and has immense respect for Tradition - so that it finds it extremely repugnant to 'invalidate' a sacramental formulary which has de facto sanctified countless Christian lives for centuries. This method is in marked contrast to a theological method which works from theoretical first principles (to the time-conditioned subjectivity of which it is often blind) to a priori conclusions which may make a nonsense of historical fact. The most disastrous example of this latter method was Eugene IV's Decree for the Armenians. I think there is something rather Anglican Catholic about the data-driven approach; that it might even count as part of our Patrimony.

I suggest further that this cultural/methodological divergence is an example of what Manning had in mind when, writing to Talbot (a dodgy and theory-driven character if ever there was one) he so memorably criticised Blessed John Henry in the words "It is the old Anglican, patristic, literary, Oxford tone transplanted into the Church". I would add to Manning's adjectives another: "historical".

It is Newman, not Manning, who has been beatified; Newman, not Manning, who is Benedict XVI's bed-time reading. Four cheers for the Old Anglican Patristic Literary Historical Oxford Method! I wonder if our Holy Father has copies of Dix?*

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*I am certainly not suggesting that all RC theologians are theory-driven and all Anglican Catholics data-driven (or even that the two methods are exclusive, or that they inevitably reach conflicting conclusions); life certainly isn't as clear-cut as that. As an example of a very data-driven Roman theologian I would offer Benedict XIV (the last Pontiff before Benedict XVI to achieve enormous distinction from his writings as a private theologian); my own excursions into this massively and historically erudite pontiff suggest to me that he also was rather an Oxford-Newman-Dix sort of chap at heart ... the sort of bloke you could easily run into lurking behind a pile of folios in Duke Humphrey ... and that he could do with some resurrecting!

26 January 2011

July 2

Very graciously, the Angelus Press has sent me a review copy of their ORDO for users of the 1961/2 liturgical books. I am very grateful; it is very interesting; and I shall write about it soon. But ...

... upon opening it, I immediately found an erratum slip. As an ORDO compiler myself, I instinctively felt a great tidal wave of sympathy. This is the ultimate, the appalling nightmare. As soon as the print run is finished, one discovers that one has got the date of Easter wrong or inserted the readings for year for Year A rather than Year B, vel sim.. But, when I looked at things more closely, I began to wonder why they feel that their original text is wrong. This is what the slip says:

On July 2nd the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2nd class) is celebrated. The Feast of the Most Precious Blood will not be celebrated in 2011.

Now I instinctively think I feel that the Visitation should be celebrated that day. It is a much older feast than the Precious Blood. It was probably Urban VI who instituted it to beseech God for Christian Unity. There are Byzanine analogues. Whereas the Precious Blood is distinctly rather more parvenu.

But shouldn't a First Class Feast of Christ trump a Second Class Feast of the Theotokos?

Perhaps a reason lies in the fact that July 2 in 2011 immediately follows the Feast of the Sacred Heart. You could see the logic of suppressing the second celebration. But ... what happened? Did PCED issue a decree .... ???? Do SSPX follow PCED rulings? (Which Good Friday Prayer for the Jews do they use?)

25 January 2011

Apollos

Can anybody explain why, in the old and new Vulgates, and in the old and new Latin Office Books in texts for today, Apollos is (nominative) 'Apollo'?

My assumption is that Apollos is a syncopated form of Apollonios; and I find it potentially confusing that it appears in Latin indistinguishable from the name of the Archer of Delos and 'Partner', as we have to say nowadays, of Daphne and various other nymphs.

I spent nearly three decades nagging students to remember the S at the end of of Apollos!

24 January 2011

Diaconia (5) at Vatican II and later

Continues.
The Diaconate did not feature particularly largely in the Decrees of Vatican II. A quick trawl has revealed to me only Lumen Gentium 29 & 41; Ad Gentes 16; Sacrosanctum Concilium 35. SC says that deacons can preside at Services of the Word, to which I can think of no objection. AG advises that those unordained laymen who are de facto fulfilling diaconal roles shoud be oradined deacons so that they can be "altari arctius coniungi", which I think implies rather nicely the essentially cultic nature of the diaconate. LG 41 gives no suggestion that deacons are philanthropically inclined; there is a hint of this in LG 29, where a sensible list of cultic activities is concluded by 'ministries of charity' (likewise, in AG the de facto deacons might have been charitably occupied). I am not concerned to argue that deacons should never have anything to do with any charitable exercises, so I don't strongly object; if it is true that here the idea of 'diaconate as service to the needy' is getting a bit of an objectionable foot in this door, well, I think this is satisfactorily outweighed by the essentially cultic job-description given for the diaconate, and by the repeated references to the performance of diaconal functions "in conjunction with the Bishop and Presbyterate". So Vatican II need cause no problems to those whose thought has been formed by the Tradition.

Neither does the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Paragraph 1569 very laudably draws upon the Tradition to remind us that the Deacon "speciatim annecti" to the Bishop, which is why only the Bishop (and not also the Presbyterium) lay hands on him. Even more satisfactorily, 1541 alludes to the Aaronic priesthood and the services of the Levites as prefiguring the ordained ministry of the New Testament, and the next two paragraphs appropriately quote the Prayers of Ordination in support of this; including a section (ancient and authentic) from the Prayer for the Diaconate.

I have discovered in these two major documents of the Magisterium of the last half-century no suggestion that the essence of Diaconate is found in service to the needy, or any determination to import S Stephen and the Seven into consideration of the Diaconate. Nothing in them contradicts the teaching of the old Roman Prayers of Ordination.

So, with no mandate from the Council to change the Church's teaching on Holy Order, what on earth were the post-Conciliar liturgical 'reformers' up to? How were they able to get away with corrupting the Roman Ordination Rites, and doing so contrary to both the oldest Roman Tradition and the consensus of 'modern New Testament Scholarship'?

A later post will suggest an over-view of the kidnapping of the conciliar decrees.

23 January 2011

Apology from me

A regular poster was irritated to find on a recent thread a comment under his name ... which he had not written. In fact he had ... because that Post was a heavily reworked version of something I wrote in early 2008, and still had its 2008 comments attached. I have now cleansed it appropriately. Sorry.

Apologies

Sunday in the Chair of Unity Octave ... a Commemoration at Mass for S Nicolas Owen, the recusant carpenter who made so many of the 'priests' holes' in which Elizabethan Romanist clergy hid? An Oxford man born and bred, racked until he ruptured, and a great saint. It set me wondering whether, in this age of Apologies (I've lost count of how many groups the almost Blessed John Paul II was induced ... I hope non-infallibly ... to apologise to), our General Synod has yet apologised to English Roman Catholics for our long and bloody persecution of them, or to the Unitarians for so cheerfully burning them. Next ... has our House of Bishops yet apologised to the Catholic Movement for the persecution of the Ritualists by Victorian bishops? Have the successors of Archbishop Fisher apologised for his treatment of Catholic Anglicans in London during his episcopate there? Or has his successor updated Fisher's anti-Catholic bigotry by taking the lead in ferociously declining to consider church-sharing with the Ordinariate?

For, of course, the great favourite to be sneered at now is the Ordinariate. Witness that disgraceful 'Sunday' programme by Ed Stourton, about which I posted. How long shall we have to wait for Apologies ...

Then I hit upon a brilliant idea. Why can't the persecuting classes scythe through this important historical process by apologising at precisely the same time as they perpetrate their aggression? Thus, every time an Establishment bishop or archdeacon gets nasty with priests or people heading for the Ordinariate, or the Bishop of Barchester and his RC opposite number the Bishop of Silverbridge cosy up together and issue a joint declaration on the undesirability of the Ordinariate having any churches of its own, or "Spirit of Vatican II" papists and Grauniad journalists wax eloquently and Oh-so-amusingly about the dodgy characters entering the Ordinariate and the colour of their wives' hats: the computers of all these significant people could be programmed to issue simultaneously a sincere, 'historic', heart-felt, movingly-expressed, manly, open-and-honest, covering-all-the-details, gives-us-the-moral-high-ground, apology (copy to all the Press Agencies) for doing so.

You know it makes sense.

22 January 2011

POST scriptum

I've had my attention drawn to an interesting post in the blog Eastern Christian Books; which rather bears upon my last post ... and also upon a point I've made several times about the lack of an epiclesis (Byzantine style) in the Roman Canon being a sign of its immense antiquity - and about how questionable it is when "Western Rite Orthodox" (follow Bugnini and) tamper with this august monument to early Christianity.

Christian Unity Week

I think one of the most sensible things said in the realm of Ecumenism for quite a long time was the welcome given by the late Patriarch Alexis of Moskow to Benedict XVI's liberation of the Old Roman Ordo Missae."The recovery and valuing of the ancient liturgical tradition is a fact that we welcome positively".

I always feel uneasy about Western Christians who adopt a few of the sexier externals of Byzantine devotion and feel very pleased with themselves about it (Byzantine customs with regard to fasting are not commonly among the elements they appear to borrow). Likewise, I get no pleasure at all from the thought of footloose Byzantine Christians believing that their Christianity is incomplete until they have gone shopping in my tradition. Each lawful tradition is in itself a wholesome and holistic entire way of living the Christian life.

The real Ecumenism is: that each of us should drink ever more deeply in the pure fountains of our own tradition. As we come to know our own way to Christ better and better, we shall discover surprising things about our oneness in Christ*.

As Patriarch Alexis went on to say, it was purely through its rootedness in the Byzantine tradition of lived worship that the Russian Church was enabled to survive the twentieth century atheist persecutions. It is in commitment to the life of each tradition that the Lord, and the strength he gives, are found.

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*To take as an example a small matter of detail: when recently, after carefully investigating the Roman tradition, I wrote about the Diaconate as a cultic, not philanthropic, Order, some Western comments did not grasp my point: ".... it's surely both .......", they cried, perhaps a trifle condescendingly, as if such an obvious thought could never have occurred to me.

But Russian Village Priest instantly knew what I was talking about.

21 January 2011

Modesty in Martyrdom

For a classicist, certain lines in S Ambrose's the Hymn, brought into the Liturgia Horarum by Dom Lentini's coetus to be sung at Lauds on S Agnes' day, might cause the momentary puzzlement engendered by an obscure feeling of familiarity. Yes, you have read something like this in pagan Classical poetry.

The hymn contains the lines

Nam veste se totam tegens
terram genu flexo petit
lapsu verecundo cadens.
[ For, covering herself completely with her garment she made for ground with bended knee, falling with a modest fall.]

In the back of my mind was the thought that it sounded like Euripides and probably came from the Iphigeneia in Aulide (where Agamemnon secures a wind to get his fleet to Troy so that Helen can be retrieved, by the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigeneia). But a reading through the Messenger Speech near the end of that play proved the falsity of my suspicion. I sat stymied, until the Muse who looks after Liturgical bloggers (who she?) slipped into my mind the name Polyxena. Yupp! There it is in Euripides' Hecuba (so I was right about the author). Polyxena was a Trojan princess, loved by Achilles, who, after the Fall of Troy (and death of Achilles) was sacrificed upon his tomb.

Then the Pierian Lady vouchsafed me a second flash of enlightenment: it's also in the Metamorphoses of the Greatest Latin Poet, Ovid (don't be beguiled by American Bloggers into thinking Horace was the greatest of them). There you have the same three ideas: she covered herself; she fell to the ground on her knee; she fell in a way that did not betray her modesty.
Euripides: katheisa pros gaian gonu ... thneskousa homos pollen pronoian eikhen euskhemon pesein, kruptousa ha kruptein ommata arsenon khreon.
Ovid: illa super terram defecto poplite labens pertulit intrepidos ad fata novissima vultus; tum quoque cura fuit partes velare tegendas, cum caderet, castique decus servare pudoris.

Given the fact that both of these gentlemen kept a tongue fairly consistently in a cheek, I suspect that each is amusing himself with a little dry irony at the idea that a girl who was being poleaxed might be preoccupied with need to prevent the chaps from getting a glimpse of her knees (Euripides had already enjoyed a bit of a snigger, surely, in making Talthybios, a few lines earlier, praise Polyxena by saying that she had better breasts than a statue).

Entertainingly, the 'reformers' who provided the texts of the Hymns for the Liturgia Horarum missed out four lines, explaining that they did so because the lines 'nimis insistunt in praedicando pudore' [they go a bit too far in preaching modesty]. What a lovely Sixties assumption: the idea that going on too much about sexual continence is a mistake*. One wonders if the 'reformers' ' studies and libraries provided views from their widows of the Sixties hotpants and miniskirts worn by the touristesses in the Roman streets outside. It would explain how Bugnini - whom I picture as a man with his mind set on higher things than knees - got away with so much liturgical dishonesty.
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*Originally the text went

nam veste se totam tegit,
curam pudoris praestitit
ne quis retectam cerneret.
in morte vivebat pudor;
vultumque texerat manu,
terram genu flexo petit
lapsu verecundo cadens.

Perhaps vultum texerat would have made the Saint sound too Islamic.

20 January 2011

Diaconia (4)

Continues
We have seen how the pre-conciliar Pontifical preserves the idea, found in the first-century Roman text known as I Clement, that the Diaconate is a primarily cultic institution, the purpose of which is to serve the High Priest, the Bishop, in the Eucharistic celebration, distributing the Sacrament and proclaiming the Gospel; that it is not seen in terms of lowly service to the needy. In the earliest formulae, elements taken from Acts 6 (such as 'serving at tables' and S Stephen) are not even mentioned. In the Middle Ages, occasional references to S Stephen gradually make their way into the rites, but without any great suggestion that deacons should follow his alleged example* of philanthropic endeavour towards the needy.

Naturally, the post-Vatican II reformers, deeply infected by liberal Protestant notions of Ministry-as-Service and of the Servant Church, found the rites they inherited profoundly unsatisfactory. When they got their hands on the Rite for the Consecration of a Bishop, they robbed it entirely of its ancient Roman Consecratory Prayer with its Clementine, first century, view of the Bishop. The Rite of Diaconal Ordination fared a little better; it was fortunate enough not to be deprived of its Consecratory Prayer. But the text of this ancient formula was badly corrupted by the interpolation of phraseology expressing the novel dogma.

After the Diaconal Prayer has referred to the Levitical ministry at the Tabernacle, an entire paragaph is added, based on Acts 6 and ending - tediously, inevitably - with a reference to serving at tables. After the words which, according to Pius XII, are the 'form' of the sacrament, phrases are added about "love that is sincere ... concern for the sick and the poor". And, with equal inevitability, the Prayer is made to end "May they in this life imitate your Son, who came, not to be served but to serve"**. I will leave you to guess where the New Testament Reading is taken from; the Collect refers to "serving their brothers and sisters" and "concern [what a very late-twentieth-century word that is!] for others". The super oblata reminds us of the Lord's foot-washing.

Is the post-conciliar Western rite for diaconal ordination adequate validly to confer the Sacramental order of the Diaconate? Since it is authorised and used by Holy Mother Church, I am convinced that we are protected by an over-arching conviction of the indefectibility of the Church. So I would firmly discourage any scruples and would maintain that the question did not even need to be discussed. If this were not so, strict application of the methodology in Apostolicae curae, which was crafted to make it easy to bring in a 'Guilty' verdict against rites which had been tampered with, might very well raise awkward questions. Sedevacantists have not been blind to the polemical possibilities in this area. But I prefer the older Western notion, derided by liberals as 'mechanistic', that a rite which has been tampered with, denuded, and even corrupted with misguided insertions, provided that it still contains the barest minimum of what is essential in terms of 'form' and 'matter' and is accompanied by a minimal 'intention', is good enough, and cannot even be nullified by the heretical views of a minister. So - even if these tamperings had been done by people outside the Church's unity and even if the maimed and corrupted rites were now being maintained as a badge of separation and of heresy by a sect inimical to the Catholic and Roman Church - I would still be convinced that deacons ordained in accordance with them really were deacons!
One more post will conclude this series.
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*S Stephen, after being ordained deacon, is martyred for his witness to the Gospel, and another of the seven deacons, S Philip, actually goes off to preach the Gospel, not to run welfare schemes. Austin 'Anglican Patrimony' Farrer pointed out that "The supposition that the Seven are regarded by St Luke as 'deacons' is a very old error", and remarked that, in Acts 19:22, Timothy and Erastus were among those who were diakonounton ... not to the needy but to Paul.
**The old prayer ended instead with petition that the neo-ordinati "having always the testimony of a good conscience, and continuing ever stable and strong in thy Son Jesus Christ, may so well behave themselves in this inferior office, that they may be found worthy to be called unto the higher ministries in thy Church". (I give Cranmer's ... free but basically honest ... translation.) I find it rather diverting that the realism of the last two clauses seemed unexceptionable to a Reformation Zwinglian but impossibly politically incorrect to trendy liturgical tamperers.

Incidentally, those last clauses also raise problems about deacons who are permanent in the sense that they are forbidden to be ordained beyond the diaconate.

19 January 2011

ORDINARIATE millinery

Am I right in thinking that the clerus almae Urbis historically wear birettas without those French bobbles? and that, as clergy directly subject to the Roman Pontiff, clergy of the Ordinariate fall into that category (together with Redemptorists, Oratorians .... anybody else?)

Will such clergy need to borrow their wives' scissors on the morning of incardination?

And how about those sixteenth century Roman collars worn by Redemptorists and Oratorians?

I shall delete comments which make nasty insinuations about the priorities of Anglican Catholics.

Diaconia (3) {and the Patrimony of the Ordinariate}

Continues
The model of ministry which, aided by Collins, I have drawn from the Gregorian Sacramentary and which survived unperverted until Vatican II, is uncannily similar to what we find in one of the earliest writings associated with the Magisterium of the Roman Church: the First Epistle of Clement. Read Chapters 40-44. "To the High Priest his proper liturgiai are given, and to the priests (hiereusin) their own place is given in due order, and on the Levites their own diakoniai have been imposed." As Collins points out, the language in this passage "continues to refer exclusively to cult... so that 'the office of bishop' (episkope) which is under dispute is referring to the central function within Christian cult".

I Clement, and the Gregorian Sacramentary, see the Christian ministry in terms of the Old Testament Hebrew priesthood. The Bishop is the High Priest; the Deacons are the Levites. I know no trace in these early writings of the notion that Diakonia is to be read in terms of ideas drawn from Acts 6 about service to poor widows; no references, even, to S Stephen. Such allusions, such illustrations of the meaning of diaconate drawn from the text of Acts, are historically secondary or even tertiary. I here recall two observations of Dom Gregory Dix. The first is his insight that it was only in the third century that one starts to find Scripture, recently 'canonised', being used to support theological assertions; that previously the Tradition could be - and was - asserted without scriptural proof-texts (thus Trinitarian teaching did not draw support from Matthew 28:19, nor exercise of the Petrine Ministry from Matthew 16:18-19). He writes: "Unless we recognise the important change produced in Christian theological method by the definite canonisation of the NT Scriptures, which only begins to have its full effect after c.A.D. 180, we shall not understand the second-century Church ... hitherto the authoritative basis of Christian teaching had been simply 'Tradition', the living expression of the Christian revelation by the magisterium of the bishops, whose norm and standard of reference was the Tradition of Rome."

The second is Dix's awed confession of the antiquity of the Roman Rite: " The evidence of the scientific study of liturgy inclines more and more to show that the old Roman Sacramentaries have preserved into modern use an incomparably larger body of genuinely primitive - and by this I mean not merely pre-Nicene but second and even first century - Christian liturgical material (if only we know how to look for it) than any other extant liturgical documents."

It is one of the ironies of history that it was an Anglican scholar who perceived these things a single generation before the sacramental formulae of the Roman Rite fell into the hands of disrespectful vandals. (Those classical Anglican liturgists who, unlike Dix, did survive to witness the conciliar period ... Willis, Ratcliff ... left on record opinions about what was done in that decade which were not always terribly complimentary.)

What I am saying is this. The understanding of Christian ministry, including the Diaconate, as fundamentally and essentially cultic - embodied in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice - which we find in the ancient Ordination prayers of the Roman Church, goes back to before the NT Scriptures were universally known and appropriated as normative. It is as early as that. The Reformation has left most Westerners - Catholic as well as Protestant - with a sub-conscious assumption that "going back to the New Testament" somehow implies going back to the earliest sources. Au contraire. There was a time when the incorporation into worship, teaching, and doctrine of elements or ideas borrowed from the NT was novel, revolutionary, and innovatory. (We might usefully remember that the authority of the book of Acts was - judging from the surviving evidence - not successful in generating the invention of the feast of the Ascension forty days after Easter until the second half of the fourth century.) The old Roman Ordination prayers are so archaic (if not in their actual texts, then in their conceptual matrix) as to go back to that period in the first and second centuries. Later writers (Irenaeus; Cyprian; Eusebius) do speculate upon a link between the Seven and the Diaconate; the Roman texts obviously antecede this Scripture-generated speculation.

The pre-Conciliar Pontifical preserved the 'Levitical' and cultic understanding of the Diaconate and knew nothing of the 'Service-to-the-poor' Diakonia which the twentieth century was to find so appealing. It shows no interest in the 'philanthropic' concept of Diakonia. There are mentions of S Stephen in the historically secondary parts of the rite; but it should not be thought that even the entrance of S Stephen into the Tradition, when it eventually occurs, automatically brought 'philanthropy' with it. The long medieval address Provehendi has, towards its end, a brief mention of S Stephen; but it is for for his chastity, not his philanthropy, that his example is commended to the ordinands. While the ancient Gregorian Consecratory Prayer mentions him not at all, the final prayer Domine sancte, an addition of Gallican origin, does allude to S Stephen and the Seven in passing: but is still principally concerned with the deacon as a man who serves at the sacred altars. This is hardly surprising. The text of Acts itself, after the debatable material in chapter 6, gives no evidence whatsoever for a reading of S Stephen and S Philip as having a 'concern' for the needy.

{It may interest Anglican readers to recall that the Prayer Book Ordinal, despite the strictures of Apostolicae curae, here, as in many areas, is in the pre-conciliar tradition of the Roman Rite before the Improvers got at it: it expands the old Sarum Oportet formula as follows: "It appertaineth to the office of a deacon, in the church where he shall be appointed to serve, to assist the Priest in Divine Service, and specially when he ministereth the Holy Communion ...".}

Continues.

18 January 2011

Calendar matters: the ORDINARIATE

Do I take it that, automatically, the Commemorations of our Lady of Walsingham (September 21) and of Bl John Henry Newman (October 9) are, in the Ordinariate, Solemnities (or, depending on the language you speak, Doubles of the First Class)?

We ORDO Compilers need to know these things.

A model of Christian tact ...

... is found in the wording of the Vatican Information Service announcement of the appointment of the Ordinary (I wonder if "Reverend" rather than "Fr" means it was signed or prepared for signature between Thursday evening and Saturday noon). Anything which, as this announcement does, emphasises continuities rather than discontinuities is to be welcomed.

I wonder, too, how one names a non-episcopal ordinary in the new Eucharistic Prayers. "Ordinario"? In Te igitur, I rather think that Antistite, which does not actually mean Bishop, could be vague enough to stand. Does anybody know what happened, ex.gr., in Abbeys nullius, in the pre-Vatican II days?

Diaconia (2)

Continues
If you look at the ancient liturgical formulae of the Western Church, you will find that there is very little ... I think I really mean Nothing, as one so often does when one uses these I'd-better-cover-myself-academically formulae ... about Acts 6 and S Stephen and Ministering at Tables and making sure that poor widows had enough to eat. Instead, you find an emphasis on cult: on Christian worship. The Roman Prayer for the Ordination of Deacons (still in use but bowdlerised, as I shall explain, since the Council) says* "You established a threefold ministry of worship and service for the glory of your name. As ministers of your tabernacle you chose [from the first] the sons of Levi [to abide in faithful watch at the mystical workings of your house] and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance. Lord, look [also] with favour upon these servants of yours whom we now dedicate to the office of deacon to minister at your holy altar ... " The deacons, in effect, are the Christian Levites. They have a commissioned ministry to serve the High Priest, the Bishop, just as Jewish levitical ministers served the Temple's sacrificial priesthood.

At this point, sadly, I have to remind you that the ancient Roman Prayer for the Consecration of Bishops was completely abolished in the post-conciliar 'reforms'. Before it was written out of the Pontifical, it associated the bishop with the Aaronic high priest adorned with his sacerdotal vestments.

It is not difficult to see why the 'reformers' of the 1960s were uneasy with a concept of ministry which saw it in terms of cult, of hierarchy, of the Jewish Temple. These were not the fashions of the 1960s; such was not then the dominant mode of discourse about Christian Ministry. "Medieval claptrap!" Unfortunately, however, for such an attitude, the evidence strongly suggests that the language of the (unreformed) Pontifical, far from being formed by 'later' structures of ministerial 'status' and an 'unhealthy' preoccupation with an 'increasingly clericalised' cultus, represents the very earliest thinking of the Roman Church. I think some of you will have spotted which early writing I am about to quote.
Continues.

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* I use the curent ICEL translation, supplying in square brackets phrases eliminated from the modern rites.

17 January 2011

The Mascall Ordinariate: only for Latinists

That most exquisitely Latin of Anglican theologians, E L Mascall, was haunted by a passage in Vergil's First Eclogue; the shepherd Tityrus says that Rome tantum alias inter caput extulit urbes/ quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi. His fellow Meliboeus asks Et quae tanta fuit Romam tibi causa videndi? to which he replies: Libertas ...

And now we take up our breviaries for First Vespers of the Feast of the Cathedra Petri; can there ever have been a Chair of Unity Octave like this year's? In the second nocturn, another great Latinist, S Leo, apostrophises another shepherd, S Peter, entering the City a couple of generations after Tityrus: Ad hanc ergo urbem tu, beatissime Petre Apostole, venire non metuis, et ... turbulentissimae profunditatis oceanum, constantior quam cum supra mare gradereris, ingrederis.

A stanza probably by S Paulinus II Patriarch of Aquileia, which used to be sung on the Feast of S Peter ad Vincula:

Petrus beatus catenarum laqueos
Christo iubente rupit mirabiliter:
custos ovilis et doctor Ecclesiae,
pastorque gregis, conservator ovium
arcet luporum truculentam rabiem.

Diaconia (1)

In 1990, Mr John N. Collins published his DIAKONIA Re-interpreting the Ancient Sources (OUP). You can probably fiddle around with Google and discover that its conclusions, more than two decades later, have not been disturbed. If you have queries about details in what I am about to write, a reading of Collins will probably answer them; I am not going to summarise him at any greater length than one paragraph.

Collins began by identifying a particular understanding of diakonia which became fashionable in Protestant circles in the middle of the twentieth century; and then infected the Latin Church too. It saw diakonia as meaning self-giving service to the poor and needy. Based on a misreading of Acts 6, it appealed to Christians at a time when ecclesial structures were losing power and prestige. "OK", it cheerfully claimed, "if you've lost your power and status you can still surreptitiously claw it back by asserting the moral high ground of humble service". Collins demonstrated, from examination of profane and sacred Greek usage, that the word diakonia, and its cognates, have a quite different root sense: that of one person's commissioned service to another person.

So the essence of the concept is not the following of Christ who came to 'serve rather than to be served'. The Deacon's basic purpose is not to be washing the feet of the lowest of the low (just as the nature of the Church is not, as we have so frequently been told, to be the Servant Church). Such things may be worthy in themselves ... may, indeed, be the charism of particular holy people. But they are not what diakonia is fundamentally all about.

What is it about? In its essence it is about serving, being commissioned to serve, the Bishop, the Eucharistic celebrant; about serving him in the administration of the Lord's Body and Blood; serving him in the proclamation of the Holy Gospel. Not a philanthropic service but a cultic, liturgical service. In as far as their duties may extend in the direction of philanthropy, it is instructive to observe the role they have in 'Hippolytus': the deacons are to attend the Bishop and report to him who are sick so that he, if it seem good to him, may visit them. Their ministry is to the Bishop, not to the needy. This role survives in the Anglican Ordinal: the deacons are "to search for the sick, poor, and impotent ... to intimate their estates, names ... unto the Curate".
Continues.

16 January 2011

ORDNARIATE: Common Sense and Mutual Enrichment

Just back from Bishop Andrew's First RC Mass in the Oratory ...

Well, it must still be All Right to refer to him as "Bishop Andrew" because Fr Aidan Nichols did so in his brilliantly characteristic homily. Fr Aidan has been House Theologian to the Ordinariate during all those many long years before The Project actually turned into The Ordinariate; he first sketched the theological meaning of an Anglicanism united but not absorbed in his The Panther and the Hind. Since then, there have been meetings of the FIF theological group with him in the cellars at Gordon Square; Fr Aidan always so gracious, so sympathetic, so helpful, so erudite, so generous. The first time I read a paper - a very poor one - in his presence, I remember how nervous I felt; but there was no need to.

Fr Aidan returned, today, to the great enterprise of gathering up the fragments that none be lost; of appropriating, for the good of all the church, the Anglican inheritance discerned through the purifying prism of Catholic Orthodoxy. He mentioned that Bishop Andrew is engaged in the liturgical side of that - but made clear, referring especially to Blessed John Henry and the Tractarian Fathers, that there is much more to it than Liturgy. His homily, I think, counts as the Programmatic Statement of the Ordinariate as far as theology is concerned. I hope he stays involved.

If Fr Aidan's homily was characteristic, so was Bishop Andrew's liturgy. Fine music (Byrd; Morales); Latin from the Sursum corda until the Communion. We had examples of what the American blogosphere now calls Common Sense and Mutual Enrichment. Sanctus covered the (silent) first half of the Canon Romanus and Benedictus the second half; we were spared those horrid 'Acclamations' after the Consecration. At the Invitation to Communion, Bishop Andrew continued his custom of using the New ICEL translation of Ecce Agnus Dei.

I arrived home to hear the end of the celebratory peal rung on the S Thomas's (ten) very fine bells. That's Patrimony, too.

Cana and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Today wraps up - or it does in 'Traditional' lectionary terms - the Scriptural offerings of Epiphany. Hitherto, the Lucan picture of Mary has concentrated our attention upon how attuned her Immaculate Heart is the will of God: "Let it be unto me"; "He has done great things for me"; "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her Heart"; "And his Mother kept all these things in her Heart". But in the traditional Gospel reading of the Second Sunday after Epiphany, S John steps up to the podium to show her as also attuned to the needs of others ("They have no wine"). Even though the Hour of her Son's Glory has not yet come, the intercession of her Heart mediates through shared obedience ("Do whatever he tells you") the first great Sign which manifests his Glory.

Scripture tells us that, because her Heart is Immaculate, Mary Sees God*, and the intercession of the one who Saw led to the Johannine Theophany. However, although the divine doxa was manifested to his own, his own received him not. But to all who did receive him - to all who beheld and behold his glory, glory as of God-only-begotten - he gives power to become (like himself*, indeed, in himself) the Son of the Virgin, born not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of the male, but as the Only-begotten of the Father and the one Seed of Abraham* who is the one Child of Mary aeiparthenos kai polupais.

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*Whatever the origin of the 'Western' variant reading hos ... ouk egennethe ... , I feel sure that it accurately pinpoints the allusion intended by S John to the Lord's Virginal Conception and Birth.

This post draws on Luke, John (and his apparatus criticus), Matthew 5 and Galatians 3.

15 January 2011

Westminster Cathedral and the Ordinariate

No. I wasn't in "WC" this morning. I had a prior engagement.

I went to the Oratory Church in Oxford for the Reception of Mr James Turner, former Head Sacristan of Pusey House (of which I am privileged to be a Senior Research Fellow).

This splendid event represented all that is most attractive about the 'current religious scene'. James is young and intelligent, as are so may of those taking this stage in their own pilgrimages. It was good to meet again, at this event, Mr Andrew Wagstaffe, a valued friend since the time I taught him at Lancing College. He, also, was a Head Sacristan at Pusey before he entered into full communion six years ago; he is one of the half-dozen most brilliant people whom I had the fun of teaching (I think he may be known to that distinguished priest and blogger Fr Ray Blake).

Other friends were there; Mr John Whitehead, of Oriel College, a former Churchwarden of S Thomas's and now a member of the Oratory congregation; together with one of my present Churchwardens ... and ... and ... and apologies for not naming all of you. Others hovered invisibly present ... Martin, I thought of you, immured in your Norwegian seminary, during the Mass. Remember us in your prayers.

The rite of reception, and the Mass which followed , were in the pre-Conciliar rite; a final joyful evidence of the vivid reappropriation of the Catholic Latin tradition and of the Hermeneutic of Continuity which are integral to the Benedictine Renaissance in the Western Church. Sancte Pater, ad multos annos.

May the Immaculate Mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, and Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us all; and especially for Keith, Ordinary of our Lady of Walsingham.

14 January 2011

Best wishes ...

... for a very happy New Year - I'm sorry that this is a bit belated for those living adjacent to the Greenwich meridian - all my readers who follow that Calendar which is actually to be found in the liturgical books dating from the Pontificate of that great pontiff, S Pius V, and in the liturgical books from the reign of our late Sovereign Lord King Charles II of most blessed memory.

May I take the opportunity of again recommending The Tridentine Rite Blog. Not only can one look at its Sunday-by-Sunday explanations of the Real and Organic Calendar; you can of course look back to last year and see what it says about an up-coming day.

I believe it is the decently humble custom of the Roman Catholic Church, in countries where the predominant Christian Calendar is Julian, to require even Latins to observe the Julian Easter. Two queries: does this principle extend to the fixed festivals; and: do Anglican chaplaincies in these countries follow the same humane and courteous principle? Or do we behave in accordance with our instinctive English and Anglican cultural arrogance?

... and so much for the King's Road.

Among those with whom I talked in Chelsea yesterday was a very agreeable chap called Fr Hemer, who teaches Old Testament. Perhaps I was over-mellowed by the excellence of the food and wine, but I found myself thinking that there would be worse things to do than listening to a Refresher Course from him. Though why I say "Refresher" I can't think. At least in my time, we Anglican seminarians were quite appallingly taught about the Bible; a load of improbable bilge about source criticism and pseudonymity and God only knows what. I never believed a word of it. Dogmatic Theology and Moral Theology and Church History, it would be a waste of time to revisit. But the Bible ... and, I have to admit, Canon Law ... well, that would fill some gaps.

To summarise, then: the prospect of free food at Allen Hall, combined with some intellectual stimulation ... would be very tempting.

As I was saying ...

... when I suddenly remembered my Home Communions, the food was strikingly good at the liturgical event upon which I stumbled in Chelsea last night. I entirely agreed with Bishop Andrew when, in a little speech at the end "on behalf of the Three Bishops", he said this very emphatically.

The liturgy, whatever it was, was clearly both episcopal and ecumenical in way that combined both of these things very cunningly. For example, the Three Bishops were dressed , like Byzantine bishops, in dalmatics, and very impressive they looked, especially Bishop Andrew with his beard. The Church Universal truly must breathe with both lungs.

Fortunately, there will be a photographic record of this splendid event. As well as Fr Bradley, there were some blokes present who looked ... from the Important way they bobbed around ... like Professional Photographers. But these latter rather puzzled me. They seemed to be taking many more pictures of Bishop Keith than of the other two.

I'm no judge of male good looks, burdened as I am with the curse of having to live my life with an incurable heterosexual condition. But it seemed to me that Bishop Keith is the least handsome of the three of them.

Ah, well, it takes all sorts.

Ordinariate Up in Arms

According to Papworth and Burke, the Arms of the old Augustinian Priory of our Lady at Walsingham were Argent on a cross sable five billets of the first: i.e. a silver shield with a black cross and on the black cross five silver rectangles. In use at the newly restored Shrine for donkey's years - I suspect Fr Fynes Clinton may have had a hand in all this; Heraldry was the sort of thing he was into - were the arms Silver; black cross; on the cross five lilies ... or so I think; I am going by memory. Also, in the first quarter was a golden representation of the Holy House: a breach of the usual convention that something gold cannot heraldically sit on something silver. However, this convention was very occasionally breached for overwhelmingly compelling reasons - such as in the Arms of Jerusalem. My theory is that HP or FC thought that the dignity of our Lady's shrine provided another overwhelmingly compelling reason! Incidentally, I have no knowledge whether the College of Heralds granted these arms; my hunch is that they were adopted without anybody troubling Queen Victoria Street.

None of us is supposed to use the arms of somebody else (not even if they have the same surname as ourselves!). If you have genuine connexion with some person, place or institution you may have arms which are like theirs but with some change to show the 'difference'. Thus the Holy See granted the see of Westminster arms indistinguishable from those of Canterbury except that they were 'differenced' by having the shield red rather than blue. The Holy See does not, I think, nowadays grant arms; although it does apparently expect bishops and those who in law are equivalent to bishops to have arms. The English heralds do still grant arms, but there are said to be legal reasons why they cannot grant arms to RC dioceses.

If anyone were ever to want arms - I can't think why they would - which were related to those of the Priory and/or shrine at Walsingham, the silver shield with a black cross and the lilies on the cross would be a good start; you could then 'difference' it by changing the colour of the cross.

Up and down the King's Road

Yesterday evening, as I was strolling up and down the King's Road in Chelsea looking for a bit of Night Life - we old gentleman tend to do that sort of thing - I noticed the familiar figure of Fr James 'Ubiquitous Camera' Bradley, who has chronicled every significant event in the Anglican Catholic world for decades - lugging his equipment along. Curious, I followed him discretely and discovered myself in a Roman Catholic place of worship which I gather was originally (1568) founded at Douai by a fellow of Oriel College, Principal of St Mary's Hall, and Proctor in this University called William Allen, after he very wisely scarpered abroad in the dark days of Elizabeth Tudor. Not that I'm sure Dr Allen would have recognised the Chapel as a place of Catholic worship ...

As you know, I am dreadfully ill-informed about the complex niceties of Novus Ordo worship, so I can't give you an intelligent account of what was going on. However, it seemed to involve our three Bishops, so I guessed it probably had something to do with this ORDINARIATE thinggy. Just in case I ever find myself having to use the Ordinary Form, I watched carefully what happened. There were some striking differences from what most Anglican Catholics are used to. For example: after the Consecration we tend to ring bells and waggle incense. But, it seems, in the Novus Ordo Mass, all the fire alarms go off while the celebrant is actually uttering the verba Domini over the Host; and keep ringing until after the Consecration of the Chalice. They come on later, too, to remind the congregation that it is Communion time.

The episcopae seemed to have a big role to play. They brought up the elements at the Offertory (yes ... I know what you're thinking ... a bit Parish Communionny) and had special blessings and things at the end. From time to time, the bishops seemed to kiss them. The service began with the sort of music you get in a Crem - Jesu joy or Come down O love Divine or something like that. It ended with the sort of business you get at weddings, with various fluctuating groups of people coalescing and dispersing and regathering for photographs. Altogether, a rich liturgical event. I felt most at home in the sung Ordinary of the Mass, Kyries etc., which was sung in dead languages, and when Bishop Andrew sang the Ite missa est at the end.

But, craftily, nobody accepted his rather peremptory order to "Go". We all tucked into some strikingly good food, wine, and conversation with some very agreeable people. Some of them had even read my blog.

Changing the subject rather, I have had a sudden illumination about what might be a good Coat of Arms for an Ordinariate. You remember that lovely medieval shield used by the Abbey at Walsingham: Silver; a black cross; on it, four lilies. Something like that ... perhaps the cross changed to blue or even S George's red ... would look very well.

Oops ... I 'm going to be late for my Home Communiuons. More later.

13 January 2011

Benedictus es ...

A writer on another blog recently criticised a priest who conflated the Offertory prayers into a singular formula. Since this is an unauthorised alteration, the writer was right to call it a liturgical abuse. But he also criticised it on the grounds that the separate offering of Bread and Wine was "theologically significant". Well; perhaps it is; I don't know what reasons he had in mind for saying this. But I think anybody going very far down that particular path needs to watch what they say. In the Sarum Rite, the Bread and Wine were offered together, with one prayer, and the Ecclesia Anglicana was for a thousand years in peace and communion with the Holy See. And the Dominican Rite - the traditional one - still offers the elements together; and the Order of Preachers is still in full communion with Rome. This represents a sustantial piece of traditional praxis. It can't be theologically unCatholic to offer the elements together.

Personally, I intensely dislike those prayers anyway on a practical ground: because I find them immensely difficult to say. Since they are so similar to each other, you can't lift the elements up and say the prayer on autopilot; you have to look at a printed text or else concentrate mentally on getting each lot of words right. I bet there isn't a priest in the Latin Church who hasn't at some time bungled it.

I also dislike the words "spiritual drink". I know poma pneumatikon is a clever borrowing from I Corinthians; but as a spoken formula judged in literary terms -particularly in its English versions - it seems to me to make the end of the prayer collapse into an unattractive bathos. I certainly understand those people who improve it with the phrase, from the Canon, "Cup [Chalice?] of Salvation".

But the plain fact is that these prayers are not ordered by the rubrics to be said aloud; that is merely an option on those occasions, and only those occasions, when there is no singing at the Offertory. For twenty or thirty years I did say them aloud in English at said Masses; but quite a long time ago I took to saying them, when I celebrated a Novus Ordo said Mass, silently and in Latin.

Well, to be honest, for some time now I have silently said Suscipe ... etc. instead. Happily, thanks to a writer on another blog, I can now justify this as Common-sense-and-mutual-enrichment.

12 January 2011

Accipe potestatem offerre Missam ...

Very best wishes to our three bishops as they tomorrow revisit the concept of diakonia. I wonder if they will wear their old light-weight pontifical dalmatics for the ceremony.

On Saturday there will follow necessary formalities ensuring that their sacerdotal ministrations are acceptable to all Roman Catholics everywhere. I suppose that later in the year there will be similar ceremonies for those priests and deacons who decide to apply for entry to the ministry of the Ordinariate and are accepted. God bless them, whoever they may be.

I wonder if they will all be 'done' simultaneously. Let us suppose - just to pluck a number out of the air for the sake of hypothesis - that some 50/60 or so priests were concerned. Wouldn't that be rather a lot of prostrate bodies to accommodate on one floor? We wouldn't want Fr X to kick Fr Y in the eye ... er ... purely, you understand, by accident.

If there were two such events, would it not be be very much in the spirit of Summorum pontificum for one of them to be OF and the other Antiquior? There would be an additional bonus of an ecumenical kind. It would mean that, when the Vatican is finally reconciled to the SSPX, those ex-Anglicans who had been 'done' antiquius would not have the inconvenience of having to be 'ordained' yet again to satisfy SSPX scruples. It would also make our orders acceptable to all those other fussy traditionalists who have noisy doubts about the adequacy of the post-conciliar Pontificale and even amusingly suggest that it falls under the condemnation of Apostolicae curae.

Mgr Rifan must be one of very few working bishops in full canonical union with the See of Ss Peter and Paul to have been consecrated with the glorious old Prayer for Episcopal Consecration used in the Roman Church before iffy Oriental formulae were substituted by Bugnini (if one wanted to be tendentious, a failing which I have always avoided like the very plague, one could argue that the Rite of Episcopal Consecration in the Prayer Book Ordinal retained more features and phrases from pre-Reformation rites than does the current Pontificale). So Rifan would be the ideal chap to do this job. Orders conferred by him would never need to be repeated (until, that is, the Latin West submits in all humility to Third Rome).

Aesthetically, it would be rather jolly if the antiquior ceremony were done within the genuine baroque lay-out and furnishings of the Brompton Oratory - the Gesu near Harrods - rather than in the midst of the totally unconvincing 'Byzantinism' of the Hagia Sophia by Victoria Station. Those involved would feel more at home, too; there is somehow something cosily familiar and Anglican about the atmosphere of Romanita created in their churches by the Sons of S Philip. I wonder why.

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*New readers, if any, may - passim - be assisted hermeneutically if I confess that I have sometimes been suspected of writing with my tongue in one of my cheeks.

11 January 2011

Ordinariate

I'm a trifle puzzled by the Westminster announcement that the Ordinariate will be erected "on or before Saturday January 15". Our three bishops are due to be deaconed on Thurday January 13; and Canon Law appears to say that a deacon has to be incardinated to ensure that there are no horrid acephalous clerics roaming around (a delightfully grotesque, even Gothick, piece of imagery to scare to the kiddies with ... "Swallow your Cod Liver Oil, dears, or the ACEPHALOUS CLERIC will GET you"). But we Anglicans know nothing about Canon Law ... perhaps a Roman Catholic can explain this oddity to me.

I had rather hoped that the erection of the Ordinariate might have been dated January 6. I will delete comments which purport to explain why I had rather hoped this.

culture changes (3)

Continues ...
It is an idea deeply embedded in most ... I think I may mean all ... traditional rites, that the Eucharistic Prayer is far from being a folksy prayer which the celebrant hopes will be short enough to stop the people getting bored, and which, if he is trendy enough, he will invite them to join in saying so that they 'feel involved'. This Prayer is a profound mystery in which the celebrant is, as it were, halfway out of this world, alone and face to face with the God whom Moses met when he climbed the mountain and entered the cloud at Sinai. Early Ordines tell us that at the beginning of Te igitur surgit Pontifex solus et intrat in canonem ... surgit solus Pontifex et tacite intrat in Canonem*: I am sure that I am not the only priest who, as he raises his hands at Te igitur, senses vividly that he is, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonements, entering the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifice for all the people before the Holy God who dwells in unapproachable light. The Byzantine priest enters the Royal Doors in order to sacrifice; some of the older Roman churches still possess the hooks to hold the curtains round the ciborium which concealed the celebrant from view.

I believe it can be shown that the developed form of the Canon Romanus, with its careful distinctions between nos servi tui/servitus nostra, and plebs tua sancta/cuncta familia tua, dates from the time when distance and curtains separated the celebrant and his sylleitourgoi from the People. The inaudible recitation of (most of) the Canon is a central feature of sound liturgical praxis; if it cannot be immediately restored, I suppose the next best thing is its recitation in a language not understanded of the people, or its recitation in a voice which at least does not officiously strive for audibility. (Why on earth, in OF Latin Masses at Brompton, is the celebrant when at the altar electronically amplified? If he simply said the Eucharistic Prayer in a clara et elata voce and left to God the management of the laws of Physics which determine how much of it the people in the various parts of the nave could hear, that surely would fulfill the rubrics?)

This restoration of a sense of the Holiness and otherness of the One Oblation of the Lord Once Offered is going to be the greatest task, the most laborious up-hill struggle, for all those Western clergy who desire to re-enter the historic, ecumenical liturgical consensus of the Latin West and the Byzantine Churches and the Semitic Christian East. Its destruction in the West a generation ago was one of the greatest successes of the Evil One. Its recovery is the calling of faithful clergy in the third millennium.

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*Jungmann comments: "The Canon is a sanctuary into which the priest enters alone".

Concluded.

10 January 2011

culture changes (2)

Continues ...
The sort of liturgical culture which Anglicans and Roman Catholics have experienced since the 1960s is in fact a culture which was common in English Protestant Non-Conformity for many generations before the 1960s; and in a Protestant ethos it represents the theologically right and appropriate liturgical expectation. If the faith-feeling, fiducia, is the salvific reality to which the Christian must cling, then worship can have no other purpose than to produce and sustain it. It is not for nothing that Protestant ideologues have seen the Sacraments - on the rare occasions when they celebrate them - as merely 'enacted Words'. The problem for us is that for nearly half a century many Anglicans and most Catholics have been indoctrinated into that same essentially Protestant presupposition. When, now, they are exposed to something ancient and authentic, they can feel excluded by the celebrant - "Why isn't he attending to me?": the reaction of the toddler whose mother seems now to be devoting to the new baby all the love and attention upon which previously that toddler had an exclusive claim. "Leave your horrid private God alone and turn round and be my friend again". These poor layfolk are bound to feel repulsed; the outrage done to their gut-instincts may even make them revolted.

Those of my readers who do not know their Dix off by heart may be amused - as well as instructed - by his well-known account of his Methodist grandmother.
It is an uncanny fact that there is still scarcely any subject on which the imagination of those outside the faith is more apt to surrender to the unrestrained nonsense of panic than that of what happens at the catholic eucharist. As a trivial instance, I remember that my own grandmorther, a devout Wesleyan, believed to her dying day that at the Roman Catholic mass the priest let a crab loose upon the altar, which it was his mysterious duty to prevent from crawling sideways into the view of the congregation. (Hence the gestures of the celebrant.) How she became possessed of this notion, or what she supposed eventually happened to the crustacean, I never discovered. But she affirmed with the utmost sincerity that she had once with her own eyes actually watched this horrible rite in progress; and there could be no doubt of the deplorable effect that solitary visit to a Roman Catholic church had had on her estmate of Roman Catholics in general, though she was the soul of charity in all things else. To all suggestions that the mass might be intended as some sort of holy communion service she replied only with the wise and gentle pity of the fully informed for the ignorant.

Continues.

9 January 2011

A Great Light

In the Matthaean account of the Lord's Baptism, which OF worshippers visit in Year A, there is a delicious varia lectio in a couple of manuscripts of the Vetus Latina. After S John Baptist permits the Lord to be baptised, these mss add: and when he was baptised, a great light shone around from the water, so that all who had come there were fearful.

This reminds me of Pseudo-Hippolytus (PG 10, 862), "The one who with faith goes down into this washing of rebirth ... returns from Baptism brilliant as the Sun, shining rays of righteousness". After all, we all know that the baptised are Illuminati; and perhaps that word is not intended in the merely subjective sense of having his understanding enlightened. I draw your attention also to the passage of S Gregory Nazianzenus which the Liturgia Horarum offers for the Patristic Lection on the Feast of the Lord's Baptism.

As Old Testament students, we recall the Pillar of Fire passing through the waters of the Red Sea. And as liturgists, we remember standing by the font at the Easter Vigil and plunging the candle into the waters of Regeneration. Our typological mathematic is that 1+1+1=a whole lot more than 3.

Uncharacteristically, I am not going to tell you a long list of things which you should be thinking. I would like to invite you to meditate upon ...
---the importance of Typology in our theologising - a typology which embraces Old Testament, New Testament, and Liturgy ...
---the question of what Scripture is. We all know the old arguments about "What is the Canon of Scripture?", at their fiercest when the 'Reformers', with their horrible legalism, wished to erect Scripture as a forensic engine for discerning true doctrine, and therefore needed to know what is Scripture*. But an awareness of the fluidity of the texts of the Scriptures has grown in the last century: the more early NT papyri we discover, the more we find a strange phenomenon. You might expect that, as we press earlier and earlier, backwards towards an 'authorial text', we might find that variants in the text get fewer. But we find the opposite is true (something similar could be said of the textual critcism of Homer). So scholars increasingly, and rightly, wonder if the concept of a stable monomorphic authorial text is in fact anything but a mirage in the desert. And when we turn to the Old Testament, mss from Qumran and elsewhere reveal to us the precarious status of the claim that the Masoretic text is in some sense normative for Christians.

So ... we know, for example, that the pericope de adultera is not part of the 'original text' of S John; manuscript evidence is here supported by stylometric and lexicographical evidence. "But that doesn't make it any less canonical" ... we say. But when we get down to details, things get murkier. If we are to select those readings in the Hebrew, Aranaic, and Greek texts which are supported by an authoritative Vulgate ... then Vulgate or neoVulgate? If Vulgate, then Sixtine or Clementine? There are differences. What about the Vetus Latina? What about the psalter reading "The Lord has reigned from the tree"? ... which left its mark, not least upon a hymn of Venantius Fortunatus.

Moi, I'm terribly liberal. I think that even that jolly little interpolation into Matthew with which I began this post is Part Of The Great Rich Wholeness Of Scripture. Like some Englit chappies, I believe that Reception is Part of Text. I am set free to take this view by the fact that I am not, like the Prods and the Liberals, bogged down by some grim need to discern some sort of entrenched minimum which some magisterium (Calvin's or the CDF's) enforces and guarantees. I bob along in a warm, welcoming, and enriching sea called Tradition.

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*Entertainingly, of course, the ultra-fundamental question for the protestant of what constitutes the Canon of Scripture is not itself answered in the Scriptures except by a sort of canonised circularity. The Articles of the C of E amusingly introduce the prescription of S Vincent's Quod semper quod ubique quod ab omnibus ("of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church"), unaware that they are thereby assigning an infallible Magisterium to the Rabbis of Jamnia.

8 January 2011

culture changes (1)

In my experience, pretty well every clergyman in the C of E knows exactly how services should be done. Indeed, in some cases he knows so well that he is constantly growing into even better knowledge, with the result that his people often have to adjust periodically to the particular stage which their pastor's liturgical researches have reached. Whether such is true in other communions, I have little first-hand knowledge. But I suspect that it is not only among Anglicans that there can sometimes be a gap between clergy and laity, which can result not only from the changes they are made to experience in their own churches but the surprises which they encounter when they move house and parish. This is partly because the laity are naturally conservative; by which I mean that they often find it less than easy to change instincts which they acquired 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

For 40 years now, many worshipers in the Western Churches have become accustomed to a particular form of 'participation', in which there is an expectation that liturgy is for them in the sense that it has some of the characteristics of entertainment or didaxis. They expect that their hierophant will relate to them; look at them; anticipate their spoken or assumed responses; be concerned that he is 'getting through' to them. He gathers them into what he is doing by looking at them across the altar; he interjects little relational asides to keep them with him; instead of standing in a pulpit six feet above contradiction, he walks up and down the church as he informally sermonises. It is possible that these expectations have been reinforced by the interactive and participatory modes fashionable in television.

I think we priests sometimes fail to realise how very different (and difficult) it is for laity, who for a generation have known nothing but this, when they are offered 'traditional' worship. Worship, I mean, where the fundamental sense is that something objective is being done which, for its essential effectiveness, depends not one tiny bit upon the understanding or 'participation' or even presence of laity. We find it easy to yawn at phrases like " ...with his back to the people." Oh dear, we cry, not that old nonsense again. But for people whose liturgical experience has hitherto been a priest preoccupied with their responsiveness, suddenly to experience a liturgist who is focussed primarily on what he is doing coram Deo, must be just shattering.

continues.

7 January 2011

Tribus miraculis ...

The Ancient tradition of the Latin Church, so often simpler and yet more profound than Byzantium, discerns a triple miracle on Epiphany Day: the Coming of the Magi; the Lord's Baptism; and the Wedding at Cana. The ancient Roman Calendar separated this trinity out onto January 6 (the Coming of the Magi); the Octave Day (the Lord's Baptism); and the Second Sunday after Epiphany (the Wedding at Cana). And you will still find this elegant arrangement in the Missal authorised by S Pius V and in the Book of Common Prayer. Another happy feature of this time in the ecclesiastical year was the celebration, on the First Sunday after Epiphany, of the Finding in the Temple.

Simple, classical, elegance is so often a temptation to those idle hands for whom, as Nanny told us, the Devil always finds work. In 1721 the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was extended to the Universal (Latin) Church and deposited on Epiphany 2, thus evicting the Wedding at Cana on to some lucky weekday. The Feast of the Name stayed there until Pius X removed it to the Second Sunday after Christmas. This spirit of cheerful frivolity with sacred things was riding even higher when the Age of Bugnini struck ... and so the Holy Name promptly disappeared altogether. Nowadays, the Second Sunday after Christmas is, in any case, in most countries of the Modern Roman Rite, Epiphany Day.

The temptation to keep the Name of Jesus somewhere near the Circumcision - when He received that Name - was an inevitable one (so the most recent revision of the New Missal provided an optional and very low-key commemoration on January 3 and Common Worship gave this title and theme to January 1). But the Christmas/Epiphany season is already complex enough. There is a liturgical instinct exemplified in the extraction of the cult of the Blessed Sacrament out of Maundy Thursday ... and of the Sacred Heart out of Good Friday ... to days when they could be placidly contemplated without confusing and interrupting the progressive movement of the Triduum. That instinct was a good one, and should have been applied also to the Christmas cycle. Few places had a more intense cult of the Holy Name than early Tudor England - thanks to the Lady Mother of the first Tudor and to her ecclesiastical household*. And few features of the old English Calendar, reproduced in the Prayer Book, are more ben trovato than the placing of the Holy Name after the Transfiguration, in August.

Leo XIII made Epiphany I the Feast of the Holy Family - influenced, perhaps, by the Gospel, traditional on that Sunday, of the Finding in the Temple. The idea is not a bad one but is probably unnecessary. After all, there is nothing to stop a homilist from using the Epiphany I Gospel for a Holy Family sermon. Bugnini, never short of a good idea, shifted the feast backwards to the Sunday after Christmas, where some Anglican lectionaries now visit the same themes. And, needless to say, something else ... the Lord's Baptism (a theme homeless and hungry after the abolition of the Epiphany Octave Day upon which his Baptism was the subject of the Gospel) ... has now found a probably temporary resting-place on this Sunday.

And the Three Year Lectionary (in which the Wedding at Cana gets a look-in but once every three years) now complicates any attempt to return to the simple old Roman yearly structure of celebrating in quiet succession the tria miracula of the Epiphany.

All this dodging around ... it's rather like incompetent and slightly drunk skaters on an ice-rink constantly colliding with each other.

What to do if sensitive consideration is ever given to an invisible and tactful mending operation in this area of the Traditional Rite? Restore the Octave and protect the ancient propers for the first two Sundays after Epiphany. What if the Three Year Lectionary is to be revised? Order the Wedding at Cana to be read permanently in all three cycles on Dominica II per annum. Back to basics is best.

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*A few years ago I spent a happy couple of days in the Manuscript Room of the British Library going through a perfectly exquisite Holy Name Prayer Book from the Lady Margaret's Chapel.

Happy Christmas ...

... to Traditionalists who read this post as they come home from the Missa in Aurora to open their presents.

6 January 2011

Bishop Graham Leonard

Bishop Graham departed this world on the Feast of the Epiphany, 2010. It is as if, grieved that the Feast of His Epiphany should have been expunged from the calendars of great swathes of the Latin Church, the Lord decided to grant Bishop Graham the Beatific Vision upon this great day. We hope and trust that his prayers avail for those who now seek to follow his lead into regularised canonical union with the See of Peter, and for all those who seek to enter more fully into the Theophany.

It is not for me to attempt to say, about Bishop Graham, things that others who knew him better than I did have said already and said rather better than I could. I would like to make just one point.

Our ecclesiastical culture, in a mirror image of its secular counterparts, abhors loose cannons; that is to say, those who disregard the unspoken conventions of the club. In particular, there is lofty disapproval of those who, having been granted admission to 'management' status, pay insufficient attention to the overriding imperative of keeping cosily snuggled up to all the other Great Men.

Bishop Leonard certainly achieved 'status': he was Bishop of the second see in his province and Dean of the Chapels Royal. But despite this he acceded to the request of a persecuted American group to give them pastoral support, in disregard of diocesan boundaries. By so doing, he broke every rule of the Top Chaps' Club. In this he was very strikingly like the Cardinal Ratzinger who ignored all the niceties of the Ecumenical Establishment, not to mention the Vatican's own dicasterial structures, to send a telegram of support to 'dissident' Anglicans meeting in America; and who, after being elected Pope, set up his Ordinariates with a cheerful and engagingly stylish disregard for vested interests ... which had assumed he would never dare. Unclubable, by God!, the pair of them. Great men, the pair of them.

There are more important things in life than easing one's companionable buttocks on to the red leather of the club fender in the Athenaeum. Perhaps this is one important message which we Anglican Catholics, with our long and immensely proud history of being troublesome counter-cultural Loose Cannons, can contribute to the Benedictine vision of renewing the youthful vigour of the Wider Church.

Noveritis, fratres carissimi ...

... as I proclaimed after the Gospel at Mass this morning. Then, after the Last Gospel, I blessed chalk. It was the first year I have done this; Wikipedia says that it is a central European custom. I have been wondering whether its spread in recent years to England is related to immigration by groups from EU member countries. I have wondered the same thing about the Rorate Mass. OR were both these things taken by immigrant groups to North America, from where they have now drifted across on the Gulf Stream? Are further such goodies on their way by whatever route?

I have also been wondering about a Responsio ad dubium which the Ecclestone Square Liturgy Office secured from PCED and which they represented as ordering that even in celebrations of the EF the Epiphany should be transferred to a Sunday. My recollection is that Ecclestone Square refused to disclose the actual text of the Responsio they had received, so that the LMS then submitted its own dubium which elicited a rather different reply. Has the Ecclestone Square Responsio ever been published, or is it still covered by some sort of Official Secrets Act?

I hasten to add that at S Thomas's we did keep last Sunday as an External Solemnity of the Epiphany. We are terribly mainstream.

5 January 2011

"Where were you when ...?"

Charles Ryder remarks
"Since the days when, as a schoolboy, I used to bicycle round the neighbouring parishes, rubbing brasses and photographing fonts, I had nursed a love of architecture, but ... my sentiments at heart were insular and medieval. [Brideshead] was my conversion to the Baroque. Here, under that high and insolent dome, under those coffered ceilings; here, as I passed through those arches and broken pediments to the pillared shade beyond and sat [drawing], hour by hour, before the fountain, probing its shadows, tracing its lingering echoes, rejoicing in all its clustered feats of daring and invention, I felt a whole new system of nerves alive within me, as though the water that spurted and bubbled among its stones, was indeed a life-giving spring."

Where were you when you first were struck dumb and breathless at the wonder of the baroque? In my case, it was walking along the riverside at Greenwich, when we got to the water-steps and I turned to look through the gates and up the hill between the Hall and Chapel to the Queen's House. Mind you, I had met the rococo before I even entered my teens, in Bavaria and the Tyrol, where, to my childish eyes, every little village church was a magical wonderland.

Paradoxically, it was among the Gothic perfections of Lancing that I first really understood the baroque. A little of this was the everyday experience of handling it: saying a Latin Mass (OF in those days, I'm afraid) before a crucifix, Bavarian, 1620s, ebony and silver, using an early baroque portuguese chalice crawling with putti. But mostly, it was reading Ovid's Metamorphoses with the VI form. That is how I first plunged into the spirit of the baroque; its never-failing inventiveness, its exuberant fun, its intriguing intertextualities, its antitheses and syntheses, the way it offers you a permanent ticket to the country of exquisite delight. Above all, the baroque makes it easier, indeed very easy, to be an orthodox and Catholic Christian. Nobody who is formed by the baroque delight in paradox will have any difficulty believing that a Bethehem Bambino is God; or that the round white disk winking at us among the sunbeams of the monstrance is the Power that made the galaxies.

I shall probably delete killjoy comments from poor folk who have never had the Baroque Experience.