24 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (6)

The great Catholic Anglican theologian, Dr Eric Mascall, writing at the time when Concelebration was the new sexy -ation among trendy Western liturgists, put in a spirited defence of the practice of the Private Mass. I particularly commend to you its Catholic understanding of "Corporate", so very much more Pauline than the naively infantile understanding of the term which we find in the Roman draft Working Paper we have been considering. Mascall, in truth, is simply unfolding the teaching of Pius XII in Mediator Dei " ... this Sacrifice , always and everywhere, necessarily and of its very nature, has a public and social character. For he who offers it acts in the name both of Christ and of the faithful, of whom the divine Redeemer is the Head ...".

If, Mascall wrote, you want to make "anybody understand wherein the corporateness of the mass really consists" the best thing you can do is to take him into a church with lots of simultaneous private masses going on, and tell him that "the different priests saying their different masses at their different altars are doing not different things but the same thing, that they are all taking part in the one eternal Liturgy whose celebrant is Christ and that their priesthood is only a participation in his ... the multiplication of masses emphasises the real unity of the mass and the true nature of the Church's corporate character as nothing else can ... what makes the mass one and corporate is not the fact that a lot of people are together at the same service, but the fact that it is the act of Christ in his body (corpus) the Church ... 'Look at those men at their various altars all around the church, each of them apparently muttering away on his own and having nothing to do with the others. In fact, they are all of them doing the same thing - the same essentially, the same numerically - not just a lot of different things of the same kind, but the very same identical thing; each of them is taking his part as a priest in the one redemptive act which Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, perpetuates in the Church which is his Body through the sacrament of his body and blood'".

Professor Mascall's description fits the Church of S Mary Magdalene in Oxford, then a busy Anglican Catholic centre but now sadly lapsed. It was there that, except when he was on the rota to celebrate in Christ Church Cathedral, he said his daily Mass, old style, Introibo ad Altare Dei through to Et Verbum caro factum est. Not infrequently, every altar in that church was occupied by a priest offering that same eternal sacrifice. One thinks also of the Anglican Shrine Church at Walsingham, its twenty or so altars all abuzz with Sacrifice at the height of the pilgrimage season. Come to think of it, that's probably why the lower basilica at Lourdes has an altar to each of the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary. One can imagine palmy days when priests were queuing up on rotas to say their masses and (if there were a shortage of trained servers) making, each of them, the then customary arrangement with the priest just before him or the one just after, to serve his Mass in return for him serving yours. This was the time of my adolescence before the Council when churches which are now empty or even closed or demolished were full of busi-ness; alive and electric with sacramental and devotional life.

And, after the contempt into which the Private Mass fell in the decades after Vatican II, we should  welcome with unconfined joy its increasing return to the main-stream repertoire of every-day Western Catholicism. When there are laypeople needing a Mass, it is obviously the first duty of a priest to serve that need (and a desire to say an additional Mass solo would not be a sufficient reason for binating). But we should remember that Vatican II did preserve inviolate the right of every priest to celebrate a Private Mass, with a couple of caveats (not during a concelebration within the same church; not on Maundy Thursday). And subsequent magisterial documents, including the Code of Canon Law, have repeated this right. And successive editions even of the Novus Ordo Missal have provided (and, most recently, substantially revised) the rite for celebrating the 'New Mass' privately.

According to one prominent Vaticanologist, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, from which emerged the draft Working Paper we have been considering, is the current pope's closest friend in the Curia. It seems strange that such an important and well-connected man, apparently, knows (or wishes to know) so little about the teaching and praxis of the Catholic Church.

God will, in Pope Benedict's words, win in the end, even if the boat, full of water, seems about to capsise!

23 July 2017


Again, I am taking a week off from moderating and enabling comments. I shall endeavour to give you something to read each day, but I shall read none of any comments you may submit until mid-July. Nor shall I be reading emails or checking the blogosphere!

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (5)

A little more about Paragraph 57 (2) of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

"Salva tamen sit semper sit cuique sacerdoti facultas Missam singularem celebrandi ..."

[Abbott: "Nevertheless, each priest shall always retain his right to celebrate Mass individually ..."] 

I dealt last time with the Hermeneutical Miracle, the Circaean Touch in the iniquitous daraft Working Paper, whereby this Conciliar mandate is metamorphosed into meaning "A priest may only withdraw from concelebrating in order to serve the needs of the Laity". I want to emphasise this morning that the Suppressio veri and Suggestio falsi involved here are so shameless as, in effect, to constitute barefaced lies.

Vatican II is clearly preserving here a right which the clergy had before the Council. While permitting Concelebration, with the limitations made clear in Paragraph 57 (Maundy Thursday, Councils, Ordinations and abbatial Blessings, other occasions to which the Ordinary has explicitly consented), it is also preserving an existing right. As Canon 902 in turn puts it,

" ... integra tamen pro singulis libertate manente Eucharistiam individuali modo celebrandi ..."

["... for each and every priest, the freedom remains intact of celebrating the Eucharist in the individual way ..."]

Notice manente. The liberty remains. Notice integra. It remains intact. In other words, the pre-Conciliar freedom is not abrogated. It is preserved, it is set in stone.

Not even the dodgy group which put together this disgraceful Working Paper could go so far as to rewrite History and to claim that, before the Council, 'private Masses' were forbidden or discouraged. They were an integral part of universal priestly culture in the Latin Church. They were vigorously defended by Pius XII (Mediator Dei) in 1947, who explicitly condemned the very errors now resurrected by the draft Working Paper (I will quote him in my final piece).

And, less than two decades after the teaching of Pius XII, the Council, followed by the Novus Ordo Missal, and, a few years after that, the Conciliar Code of Canon Law, all carefully and unambiguously preserved his right to every priest of the Latin Churches. How decisive and repeated does the Magisterium of the Church have to be before the wayward and the heterodox take notice of it? Why are curial departments so cluttered up with the wayward and the heterodox?

But what the H**l: if one is part of a Vatican culture engaged on the exciting and far-reaching project of subverting the Sacrament (and Natural Institution) of Holy Matrimony, one is hardly going to draw the line at telling a few lies in order to put a stop to private masses and the Extraordinary Form.

To be concluded.

22 July 2017

Noli me tangere

In the 9th Reading at Mattins on this feast of S Mary Magdalene, we find S Augustine writing about the Woman Who Was A Sinner: "If such a woman had approached the feet of that pharisee, he would have been about to say what Isaias says about such people "Go away from me, do not touch me, for I am clean" [Recede a me, noli me tangere, quoniam mundus sum".

This seems eerily similar to what the Lord says to Mary of Magdala in the Garden; in a passage of which the commentators make heavy weather (no, this is not an invitation for everybody to write in with their own favourite explanation of that crux interpretum).

Is this just the wildest of strange coincidences, or could there just possibly be something worth sorting out here?

What is the reference in Isaias?

21 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (4)

You will have been asking: does this Working Paper forget to mention the explicit words of Sacrosanctum Concilium, of the liturgical books, and of the Code of Canon Law, which secure to a presbyter his right (facultas) of celebrating a private (singularis) Mass?

Not a bit of it. To be fair, it grasps that problem very firmly and with both hands. It quotes it, gives the references, and then this is what it says (the highlighting is in the original draft):

Il criterio fondamentale che giustifica la celebrazione individuale nello stesso giorno nel quale la Chiesa o la comunita propone la concelebrazione e quando il beneficio dei fedeli lo richieda o lo consigli.

(The fundamental criterion which justifies individual celebration on the same day on which the Church or the community proposes concelebration is when the benefit of the faithful requests or advises it.)

Yes. I thought that would take your breath away. I really do not think it necessary for me to labour the nastiness of this ... and its cleverness in seeking to prevent young priests from saying their daily Mass. It completely perverts the plain and contextual meaning of the Council, the rubrics, and Canon Law.

Another anxiety: papal and curial documents like to build up a 'position' by citing previous documents, regarded as precedents. If the Congregation for Clergy gets away with this cheap dodge, there is every risk that their enactment will be littered around in the footnotes of future repressive documents until we are told that it has become the Church's settled position.

I will merely add that the Working Paper does not deal with another right canonically secured to every presbyter of the Roman Rite: that of celebrating a private mass daily in the Extraordinary Form (vide the opening sections of Summorum Pontificum). If the Working Paper had taken up this question, doubtless its conclusion would have been just as clever and equally nasty.

I have one more piece (5) about this a nasty document put together by a nasty group in pursuance of a nasty plot. After that, my final piece (6) on this subject will throw the windows wide open to the clean fresh air of the wholesome paradosis of our wonderful Western and Latin Christendom. It will contain extensive quotations from somebody whom I consider one of the great theologians of the last century, whom I knew and whose teachings greatly influenced my own vocation to the Sacred Priesthood. So hang on there: something good is on the way

To be continued.

20 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (3)

Today: a couple of dogs that failed to bark in the night.

(1) Dog A is the CDW, still nominally under the direction of the disgraced not-sufficiently-bergoglian Cardinal Sarah. There is no evidence in the Working Paper which we are considering that the CDW was consulted. Yet the Working Paper is exclusively about a liturgical matter! Here we have another example of bergoglian method: the dodge of not entrusting something to an actually relevant dicastery. There would, you see, be the terrible risk that they might not come up with the right answer. After all, the Holy Father told Sarah to change the rules concerning the Maundy Thursday pedilavium and Sarah did nothing until, a year later, Bergoglio kicked him. Sarah then did as he was told but made it public that he was acting under duress. Just so, Amoris laetitia was presented to the Press by the Graf von Schoenborn and not by the (then) Cardinal Prefect of the CDF. Far, far safer! Gerhard is so, so off message!

(2) Dog B is the Divine Office. True, the Working Paper we are currently considering is, according to its explicit heading, concerned with Concelebration. But the closely connected question of the common recitation of the Divine Office cannot be irrelevant here. The Institutio Generalis de Liturgia Horarum makes clear (paragraphs 9 and 20) the great desirability of the common recitation of the Offoce. And it draws upon the same advice of Sacrosanctum Concilium which the Working Paper on Concelebration mentions. Why does the Congregatio pro clericis not allude to this?

I think the reasons for this deafening silence are practical and obvious. Any attempt to force student clergy in Roman Colleges to celebrate (ex. gr.) Lauds, Vespers, and the Office of Readings and Compline in common would probably lead to a general insurrection. The Offices in the Liturgy of the Hours are short and the daily pensum could probably be got through by an individual, moving his lips silently, in less than a total of twenty minutes. The Office need cause very little interruption to the working life of a priest or student. But if one had to stop what one was doing, go to chapel, and sing the texts, they would take up very much more time. I'm not denying that this might be a good thing ... I haven't forgotten the view of S Benedict that the the opus Dei should take priority over everything ... I'm simply saying that the students, being only human, might not all embrace it with equal enthusiasm ... I mean, they would cut up rough.

So ... the drafters of the Working Paper decided to let that potentially irritable Sleeping Dog lie. After all, Who Cares? Our priority, they mused, is to put a stop to this pernicious practice of all these disgraceful young priests getting out of bed early and slipping off before breakfast to access an altar on which to celebrate that Extraordinary Form which the current pope so dislikes; which encapsulates an entire attitude to Priesthood and to life which he fears and loaths.

To be continued.

19 July 2017

Quaestiones caninae diesque

A priest of my acquaintance has recently acquired a new dog, a Rottweilerish mongrel with a rather uncertain temper. (The animal has none of the refinement of His Feline Eminence Cardinal Pushkin up the Hagley Road.)

He calls it Francis or, when stroking it or wobbling its dewlaps, Santo Padre.

Are these canonical offences?

When one hears Father calling his new pet by name, should one doff ones biretta? Or bow the head as one does ad nomen Summi Pontificis in the Te igitur?

More dogs tomorrow. If you like, you can call these the Dog Days. The already drafted post on Hesiod which you all await will eventually follow, probably on September 5.

Tomorrow, Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (3).

18 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (2)

I do not know whence this proposal ultimately arises, but it seems to me to bear all the hallmarks of the current regime. We have come to recognise the methodology of Bergoglian realpolitik. "Doctrine is not changed", and so a document like Amoris laetitia may even contain an explicit assertion of the indissolubilty of Marriage ... several hundred pages apart from rhe deft little footnote, or the crafty ambiguity, by which this doctrine may in practice be set aside. Episcopal Conferences may not have been formally given the right to attack the Sacrament of Marriage, but nods, winks, and private letters single out those Conferences which Have Got the Message.

This is a culture in which Cardinal Sarah has not been sacked, but he is publicly humiliated and neutered by having his colleagues and staff sacked and replaced by bergoglians ( I except from this generalisation Bishop Alan Hopes who, being a former Anglican, has sound and orthodox liturgical instincts).

So it is with the proposal that priests in the Roman Colleges should be bullied into forgoing their canonical right to celebrate individually the Holy Eucharist. Summorum Pontificum is not set aside, but it is circumvented.

Not that this document explicitly mentions Summorum Pontificum, or indeed the Extraordinary Form. It is far too cunning to do that. But this is what it is all about. Consider:  
since Concelebration is permitted in the Novus Ordo, but (except at Ordinations) forbidden in the Classical Roman Mass, 
and since the readers are repeatedly told that the young men must be intimidated into prefering Concelebration, 
what we have in this draft document is, in practical, political terms, a major initiative to prevent the use of the Extraordinary Form by "student priests".

Doubtless it is hoped that the provisions of this illiberal document will spread, particularly in places under the watchful eye of rigidly bergoglianist bishops.

To be continued.

17 July 2017

Concelebration in the Roman Colleges (1)

Readers will be familiar with the document described recently by Professor Roberto de Mattei on the Rorate Blog, designed to intimidate those who work in the Roman Colleges into concelebrating, rather than celebrating 'private' Masses.

Many, including of course the admirable and indefatigable Archibloggopoios Fr Zed, have pointed out that this represents a direct and shameless attack on a right embodied in the direct enactment of an Ecumenical Council, in Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II. This is a particularly unscrupulous example of the practice of citing Vatican II, or its Spirit, when it suits a writer; and of ignoring or misrepresenting its explicit mandates when they are inconvenient. But more about this in a later section of this series.

However, I do urge readers to take courage from this offensive, intolerant, and thoroughly nasty draft Working Paper, because it proves that They are worried. Indeed, They have every reason to be anxious. Young priests, and Seminarians, are overwhelmingly either in favour of Tradition, or are at least tolerant of it. Increasingly, one hears those cheerful gusts of laughter as the younger clergy reflect on the certainty that Age and our Beloved Sister Death will solve the problem of the bigotted generation currently in the ascendancy. As our late Holy Father Pope emeritus Benedict enigmatically pointed out to Bergoglio's new cardinals, God wins in the end. Indeed he does. We may have another decade or two to work and suffer through, until the Cupich generation is itself called to its reward, but it can prudently be predicted that the End is now in sight, that the light can finally be discerned, even if only dimly, at the end of the tunnel.

We should also take heart from the sense of panic manifested in that other recent repressive proposal, that Transitional Deacons, having worked in a parish, should need a positive votum from "the laity" before they procede to the presbyterate. This actually constitutes an attack upon the Sacrament of Holy Order, because it implies that men who felt a call to priestood might be marooned in a diaconate to which they had never felt permanently called. Would their oath of Celibacy be dispensed? Whoever dreamed up this piece of discrimination evidently believes that the Grace of the Holy Spirit for the Order of Deacon in the Church of God is a piece of rubbish that can easily and conveniently be dumped. Of course, saying this does not mean that one mistrusts the Laity. It means that one has the sense to realise that, under the current ascendancy, a faction of the Laity will be used ... abused ... as a manipulative tool for keeping out of the priesthood many young men who believe in priesthood. "My dear boy, I'm terribly sorry ... if it were just left to me ... but the Laity have spoken ... What did you say? How many of them? What percentage? Now really! Be reasonable! You can't expect us to conduct an actual vote, can you ...". Remember what happened at Maynooth last year when the 'formators' tried to chuck out almost an entire year because they didn't like their attitudes.

The last occasion on which I concelebrated a Novus Ordo  Mass was a couple of years ago; a keen and hardworking young priest ... not an Extraordinary Form type but what I think of as 'Wojtyla loyalist' ... was hounded out of his parish by a lay faction. Blame me if you will, but I felt compelled, out of priestly solidarity, to go along and concelebrate with him his last Mass in his parish.

It does not take much imagination to guess what such factions would do if given the power currently being discussed. Remember the Irish diocese in which, four or five years ago, even the diocesan Bishop was himself bullied by such people into abandoning his proposal to introduce Permanent Deacons. It was felt that this would reinforce the Patriarchy of the clerical state. The ultimate ambition, of course, is to introduce women priests or, failing that, to ensure that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is replaced by lay-led communion services ... or worse ...

To be continued.

16 July 2017


Liturgia Horarum or Breviarium Romanum? A case could be made either way. The LH has advantages. It was a good idea to make the Office of Readings something that could be flexibly disposed of at any time of day (the General Instruction actually allows it after Vespers of the day before); and so to make it less of a burden to those who are not required by monastic discipline to rise in the middle of the night. Prime clutter up the start of the day for a secular priest, suitable though it is for the monastic way of life. And Terce, Sext, and None can be difficult for those with a mobile lifestyle. Breviaries, even if small enough to cram into a pocket, are quite a weight to lug around. The old office was never perfect for the secular priest. This is shown by the fact that, de facto, he used to say it in amalgamated lumps, without any regard to the Authenticity of Time. And if you belonged to the right priestly associations, you even had faculties to say Lauds from midday the day before. The Office was regarded as a Legal Obligation To Be Fulfilled and not at all as the sanctifying of each hour by its proper Liturgy.

But LH has its very real and quite considerable disadvantages and difficulties. The main problem is the usual one: the Bugninides were never content to go for a minimalist organic evolution and improvement of what we inherited. Once they felt the wind in their sails, like all Committee-liturgists they couldn't stop just cramming in all the 'good ideas' that anybody round the table could dream up. So the psalms at Lauds and Vespers were reduced from five to two; contrary to the immemorial tradition of the Roman Rite, 'New Testament Canticles' were crammed in; those dreadful 1960s-style intercessions were confected.

Another case for using the LH is that S Pius X had already upset the immemorially ancient Roman distribution of the psalms; and Urban VIII had corrupted the texts of the Office Hymns (LH restores many of these in their original, ancient, texts).

I would only point out
(1) that it is legitimate to use the LH, but for Vespers on Sundays and Festivals, to say the BR. That is the one service which survived almost unchanged the redistribution of the psalter under Pius X. 1962 Sunday Vespers is the only surviving Office in an authorised form of the Roman Rite which S Benedict or Augustine, Anselm, Lanfranc, or Pole or S Edmund Campion, would comfortably recognise; and
(2) that the same is true of Sunday and Festival Lauds, if one is prepared to expand the S Pius X provision of psalms so as to include the three he missed out (see beneath).

The original Lauds psalms were (Vulgate numbering):
62+66 with one concluding Gloria Patri.
148+149+150 with one concluding Gloria Patri.

15 July 2017

Who does the Intercession in the modern rites?

Who should do the Intercession? The Pauline Rite says that the 'priest' is in charge (moderari); that he invites the Faithful to pray; that he concludes it with a collect (oratione). But it is suitable (expedit) for the 'intentiones' to be done by the Deacon, a cantor, 'vel ab alio'. It has been the custom in televised papal liturgies for a variety of laypeople in a variety of langages to give the intentions. Common Worship cheerfully regards 'leading the prayers of intercession' as part of 'The ministry of the members of the congregation'.

The fine Ordinariate Missal, on the other hand, provides several intercessions. These are done by the Priest; or by the Deacon; or, in one case, by a Reader. That seems right to me. But to be honest, I must admit that the rubric at the top of the Appendix (4) does say that one of the forms provided 'may', not 'must', be used. So there is, sadly, a loophole. The Intercession, incidentally, is optional on weekdays.

In the earlier Roman Rite, the Solemn Prayers (surviving on Good Friday) were done by the Deacon giving the people an intention; after a silence the Pontiff sang a collect. The Deprecatio papae Gelasii divided the giving of the Intentions between Deacon and Schola - and the people responded Kyrie eleison. But at one stage it appears that within the Eucharistic Prayer the deacon read the Memento and Memento etiam. In the Byzantine Rite the Deacon proclaims the Intentions and the people reply with Kyrie eleison.

I would be interested to know what conclusions others would daw from this or from other evidence. It seems to me that the practice of leaving the Intercession to some lay person both to write and to deliver receives no support from ancient precedent and rather little from modern Roman legislation. The celebrant should be in charge and the the rite should not be regarded as a moment of informality in the Mass: as though we heave a sigh of relief and thank God for giving us a few moments of freedom in which we are not dominated by hieratic ministers and hieratic ritual. The Intercession should be conspicuously part of the official worship of the Church.

14 July 2017


I am glad that Alcuin Reid gave new life to The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, and, moreover, that a new edition was called for. But that highly valuable book is not the only thing O'Connell did. I have before me the 1942 edition of his three volume The Celebration of Mass. (I believe the 1962 one-volume edition has been reproduced. But my own preference is for manuals antedating entirely the long process of fiddling which was inaugurated by Pius XII.)

TCOM contains a wealth of information about how traditional Western Liturgy was done. It brings back for me memories of Mass-practices in 1967 at S Stephen's House under Derek Allen ... the gentle way he checked whether we really had learned off by heart the texts (Suscipe ...) you need to do from memory. I recall one such occasion when I was doing my best not to trip over my new cassock, fresh from Wolverhampton ... what a great day it was when Noel Vasey brought our new cassocks ... invariably, in accordance with the Staggers tradition, with 39 buttons down the front in honour of the XXXIX Articles, so that one could sew the Canon of Scripture or the Royal Supremacy back on when it became loose ...

I said Oremus at the foot of the Altar and set off towards it saying the Aufer a nobis only to be stopped dead in my tracks with "No; you start off with your right foot".We learned arcane mysteries such as the need, when the rubrics say extensis manibus to hold the hands strictly facing each other so that the Sacerdotal Energies would bounce back and forth from palm to palm until, at the Hanc igitur, one brought them down in full force upon the elements. None of this modern rubbish about waving ones hands around in the vicinity of ones ears.

Little did we all know that, in 1967, we were the very last generation to be taught the old Mass as a matter of course at seminary ... until the happy days of Revival arrived.

TCOM has extensive sections on the role of custom in liturgical law. It is of some interest in as far as it rebuts the notion, entertained both by friends and enemies of the Old Rite, that it was a matter of rigid and inflexible rules. On the contrary; O'Connell explained how customs praeter and even contra legem could acquire by custom the force of law, and had indeed done so in SCR decisions.

By the generosity of a reader, I have a fair bit of JBO'C's library. Another friend has told me that, in old age, he would attend the Capitular Mass at Prinknash, kneeling in choir and saying his rosary.

13 July 2017

Mass Practices before the Council

Here is a piece of Oral Tradition which was swilling round the House* in my time (1964-1967).

Anglican seminaries had periodic Inspections; S Stephen's House*, England's senior seminary, was suspected of being very Extreme (rubbish! totally mainstreme!) and the Inspectors used to turn up looking for Evidence of Extremism and Illegality. During one such inspection, they had spotted "Mass Practices" scheduled on the Notice Board, and they naturally homed in like vultures on this event, pencils and notebooks in their claws.

Two seminarians were listed for training. The first was a young man destined for one of the (very Anglo-Catholic) dioceses in East Africa. The Inspectors were convinced, as they watched the tuition, that he was being taught to recite very wrong and wicked texts, probably dating from the time of that Evil Man Pope S Leo I. But they were hampered in their collection of evidence by the fact that he was practising how to say Mass in Swahili.

The second youth was a rather rare phenomenon at Staggers*: an Irishman. He was being taught the full Catholic pre-Conciliar liturgical manners, the complete, formal Staggers Style: " ... then you walk to here ... no no; right foot first .... now raise your hands ... no no, two inches higher ... no no, bow from the neck ... ". But the Rite he was practising was totally compliant with the Canons, rubrics, and texts (1929) of the Church of Ireland .... North End, Black Scarf, and all.

The Inspectors shambled out, shaking their dim heads, dimly aware that they were being taken for a ride.

Ah, happy days in the Church of England, while that body still existed! But take heart: the fun and the merriment have survived into the Ordinariate, together with all the rest of our splendid Anglican inheritance ... even, volens nolens, Dr Cranmer! Mortua Ecclesia Anglicana, vivant Ordinariatus Anglicani!

Thanks be to God for our ever more-than-beloved, more-than-blessed Papa nunc emeritus Ratzinger; and for his Christ-like decision to send in the baskets to collect up the crumbs, so that nothing, not a crumb, be lost. Eis polla ete, Despota! Polla! Polla!
*S Stephen's House was known as 'the House' (to the irritation of some who had been at Cardinal Wolsey's little foundation down the road); or as 'Staggers' (cf. Breakfast and Brekker; Worcester College and Wuggins; Jesus College and Jaggers; the Proctor and Proggins, etc.).

12 July 2017

Cranmer, the Ancient Fathers, and the Ordinariate Missal

The Anglican Patrimony is and was a strange thing ...

Most of the Reformation ecclesial bodies took as normative the Bible, the Early Church, and, to provide a 'hermeneutic' (after all, both Bible and Early Church can be differently interpreted by different people) a normative theological interpreter: it might be Luther; or there is always Calvin; or whoever. But the Church of England never had a hermeneutic; we have no Reformation guru (like Luther for Lutherans) who, if you can find evidence in his werke , trumps all arguments. So we were left with just Bible and Early Church and, if you will forgive me for saying so, the Grace of God..

When poor Dr Cranmer composed his Liturgy there was not a lot of evidence about how the Early Church actually did worship. Despite his threefold appeal to 'the auncient fathers' in the preface to the 1549 book, we now know that in that and subsequent books a lot of primitive baby got thrown out and a lot of medieval bathwater got retained. This became clear over the next 200 years. And, as early liturgical texts gradually emerged from the presses, those who kept their reading up-to-date became aware that Cranmer's Liturgy fell far short of what could be shown to be the'godly order of the auncient fathers'.

This left two possibilities: the Protestant option: Cranmer's Liturgy may not be primitive but it is scriptural and that rules, OK; the Catholic option; his Rite must be reformed in accordance with what is now known about the worship of the Early Church, if we are to be faithful to what he himself set as his gold-standard. So, in the 1630s, Laud's Scottish colleagues gave Scotland a Prayer book revised in accordance with 'primitive' precedent; and in the 1660s some bishops did the same in England by restoring the'Prayer of Oblation' to immediately after the 'Prayer of Consecration'. Edward Stephens  went much further. Arguing that the Cranmerian Liturgy was imposed by Parliament and had never had approval from the Church [just as the twentieth century papalists like Fr Alban Baverstock were to argue], he asked 'Whether .. one having knowledge ... ought or may use this imperfect and disordered Form, or comply with it, by reason of any Humane Law, or of his own Subscripton .. '. To his own question he gave a decidedly negative answer: 'all, who have any regard to their Baptismal Covenant and Renunciation therein of the Devil and all his works [he had come to regard Cranmer's texts as an opus Diaboli].... if they be Priests , must celebrate this Holy Sacrifice ... in the compleatest form they can procure ...'. And in his own liturgical forms he did just that: using Eastern material to supplement Cranmer's texts.

The later eighteenth century Anglican Catholic ritualists, such as the Non-Jurors (those ejected from the C of E for refusing to swear allegiance to the Orange Usurper after the Dutch Invasion of 1688) did the same; during that century there was an assumption that the newly discovered early Eastern liturgical forms were 'more primitive' than Western forms such as the Canon of the Roman Mass. The Victorian Ritualists knew better, and a succession of Altar Books increasingly supplemented Cranmer with Roman material (sometimes diplomatically described as 'Sarum'). This tradition of Altar Books culminated in the English Missal, which dominated Anglo-Catholicism until, after the Council, it lost its nerve and aped the progressive liturgical corruptions adopted by 'Rome'. Our Ordinariate Missal is, of course, the final and splendid product of the English Missal tradition.

Is there any other of the 'Reformation' ecclesial bodies which has had such a succession of theologians and liturgists, since the 1630s, who assented to papal primacy, discarded Reformation texts or supplemented them with ancient liturgical texts, believed in the full reality of the Lord's presence in the Eucharist, believed in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, offered it daily or weekly?

11 July 2017


One of the suggestions doing the rounds about how we can let the 'New Rite' improve the 'Old' is the incorporation of some of the collects from Sanctorale of the new. This is because the collects in the post-Conciliar books refer to the biography or charism of a saint much more closely than do most of the collects in the 'Tridentine' books, and often do so quite neatly.

I don't want to be absolutist and dogmatic on this point. Some of the new collects are indeed fine (I had better make it clear that I am refering to the Latin originals, not the old ICEL parodies). If the two uses of the Roman Rite are to converge and eventually coalesce, I'll put in a vote for S Joseph's new collect: an elegant, slinky, almost Leonine piece of Latinity.

But I would not favour a doctrinaire replacement of all or even many of the old Sanctorale collects by the new biographical ones. My reasons are quite simple: (1) I am in favour of cultural diversity and inclusivity in Liturgy. A rite should not too closely reflect the fashions of any one particular phase in its history. And the preference for 'biographical' collects is a phase, a phashion, and even a phad. (2) The most important thing about the saints is that they are our fellows now; not dead figures in the past with whom the only relationship that we can have is that of recollection and emulation. As the Communicantes and Nobis quoque make clear, we seek the protection of their prayers, and admission into their consortium. And let's be frank about it: even when the facts about a Saint are clear and authentic, it is often far from obvious that we should imitate them. One of the most embarassing sermons I ever heard was by a daft bishop who told a Public School congregation, invoking the example of S Francis, that if their bishop told them to take all their clothes off, they should do so. (He is now completing a well-deserved prison sentence.) No: our relationship with the Saints should be that of fellowship, and the old collects of the Roman Rite expressed and emphasised this by their constant requests to God for the help of the prayers of the Saints. That is why it is not even the end of the world if one has to use the collects from the communia from time to time.

Again, I am not going to be absolutist here. But it seems to me that the preference for 'biographical' collects has a lot to do with the exaggerated historicism which led medieval hagiographers, when they couldn't find facts, to elaborate romances. This even tripped up no lesser liturgist than Dr Cranmer. In composing his first (1549) Prayer Book, he was faced with an ancient collect for S Andrew which in effect asked God that the Saint might continue his Apostolic ministry of preaching and ruling by being now our perpetuus intercessor. Poor Protty Cranmer couldn't allow that, so he composed a new collect refering to the Saint's 'sharp and painful death of the crosse'. It was one of the old boy's oops-a-daisy moments; he soon realised (or did one of his hatchet-jawed teutonic mentors waspishly point it out to him?) that S Andrew's cross was an unbiblical legend. So in his 1552 book this had to be replaced with something appropriately biblical about the protoclete.

10 July 2017

Country churches galore

Waterstock Church: late fifteenth century glass, of donors. Originally associated with figures of Ss Mary, Ignatius, and Swithun. Here, as so commonly, it was not the Reformation that led to the disappearance of so much glass; it was not even the Puritans; it was weather and the decay of centuries.

A brief look at Pevsner had made me, schoolmaster to my fingertips, classify Waterstock church as Beta Triple Minus. Waterperry, before I actually visited it, I had down as Alpha triple minus; but two of those minuses were undeserved. It goes from Saxon chancel arch to Georgian monument in Francis Chantrey's best style (the Chantrey who worked for Lord Egremont at Petworth). Three-decker pulpit and box pews survive; spectacular brasses (one palimpsest); well preserved medieval glass, including the gorgeous arms of Saunders (per chevron sable and argent, three elephants' heads counterchanged, armed ... or should I blazon tusked? ... or).

The palimpsest brass encapsulated the history of the looting of the Church of England by the Tudors: the original brass was early fifteenth century and was in the Austin friary of Christ Church in London - sold, upon the suppression in 1532, as scrap - recut for Sir Walter Curson (who had died in 1527) for his grave in the Austin Friary in Oxford (of which he was a benefactor; Wadham College now stands on the site) - transferred to Waterperry upon its dissolution in 1539.

But most poignant was some Georgian Gothick panelling at the back of the church. Waterperry was one of the great Recusant centres in the Oxfordshire countryside, and this panelling was ejected from the manor house when the Recusant Curson family expired and their domestic chapel in the house was closed down.

Later occupants discovered the graves, within the house, of Catholic clergy buried secretly during the penal period.

I wonder how common this was. 

9 July 2017

We didn't do it because it was fun, but, when we did it, it WAS fun!The S Thomas's High Altar

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

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

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

There was, and still is, a distinctive genre of Anglo-Catholic humour very different from the jocosity of RC presbyteries. One thinks of the cutting satiric wit of Blessed John Henry Newman; the comic verse of Betjeman, Farmer, Mascall, Stephenson. Nowadays, in this glorious time of the Ordinariate, the mind turns to the superb blog written by the Juvenal, the Swift, of our time, the brilliant, the admirable, Dr Geoffry Kirk (GKIRKUK)

Come to think of it, that humour, with its bite and irreverence, is what made us so disliked by other Anglicans. They wouldn't have cared what we said if we had been sad, grumpy and moribund; that would just have inclined them to condescend to us. What they found hard to take was that we laughed; and that we laughed at them, the high Protestants, the Lords of the Earth (as Blessed John Henry Newman's irony described them). One could almost hear them murmuring in their episcopal palaces, and in their London clubs "It's the tone that is so objectionable".

As I've written before, if anyone criticises your  tone, you  know you've got something right.

Ah, the tone of the Patrimony. The tone we still enjoy in the Ordinariate. In aeternum floreat.


Any good bits above are plagiarised from Waugh's biography of Knox.

8 July 2017

Ratzinger on Traditional Liturgy

 Here is what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1998.

" ... It is good here to recall what Cardinal Newman observed*, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church. An orthodox liturgy, that is to say, one which expresses the true faith, is never a compilation made according to the pragmatic criteria of different ceremonies, handled in a positivist and arbitrary way, one way today and another way tomorrow. The orthodox forms of a rite are living realities, born out of the dialect of love between the Church and her Lord. They are expressions of the life of the Church, in which are distilled the faith, the prayer, and the very life of past generations, and which make incarnate in specific forms both the action of God and the response of man. Such rites can die, if those who have used them in a particular era should disappear, or if the life-situation of those same people should change. The authority of the church had the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them!"


*Can anyone provide a reference to this?

All italics are mine.

7 July 2017

The Real Importance of Summorum Pontificum

A glorious day: the tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, when Pope Benedict XVI made clear that, juridically, the Missal of S Pius V was never lawfully abolished.

I do not dissent from that judgement ... far from it. But I think that, as well as giving the Latin Church that canonical clarification, Pope Benedict gave the Church Universal an even more important theological teaching. I tried to explain this in 2011, in a piece examining and rejecting the views of a canonist called Chad Gendinning. He, like some other canonists, had written critically about the assertion, in Summorum pontificum, that the Vetus Ordo had never been lawfully abolished.

My assertion is that Pope Benedict was arguing, as I would argue, that a pope ... any pope ... cannot abolish the classical Roman Rite. An attempt to do so, in other words, would be ultra vires just as it is beyond the competence of any pope to change the Canon of Scripture.

Here, slightly adjusted, is what I wrote.


Chad Glendinning quotes A S Sanchez-Gil as feeling that the Roman Missal, along with other liturgical books, cannot be reduced to a collection of liturgical laws. This is along the right lines, but does not, I feel, go nearly far enough. The great Anglican liturgist Prebendary Michael Moreton saw the Canon Romanus - if I understood him aright in the six years during which we conversed - as being in a position not unlike that of the Canon of Scripture; a given in the Tradition which it is not for us to treat as disposable. He spoke of the Canon as having auctoritas given to it by tradition, which far surpasses the merely canonical, legalistic, authorisation, which fly-by-night 'Eucharistic Prayers' composed by the Top Experts of one single decade might have. I think it may be a coincidence that his term auctoritas occurs also in John Paul II's instruction Ecclesia Dei. It is a profound term with roots deep in the sense of the Orthodox as well as of Traditionalist Catholics that there are weightier imperatives than Canon Law. I remind you of the startling fact that the then Patriarch of Moskow welcomed Summorum pontificum as an ecumenically positive action.

Glendinning had informed us that Summorum pontificum, if it is not an "imprecise use of canonical terminology" was "a rather overt denunciation of the pope's predecessors and of the praxis curiae". In a funny sort of way, I think this last bit is right. Benedict XVI was superseding the assumptions underlying the enactments of his predecessor Paul VI, and, unobserved by Glendinning, he was doing so on grounds which he had previously, before his election to the See of Peter, explained thoroughly lucidly. Papa Ratzinger even restated those views of Cardinal Ratzinger, in the Letter to Bishops which accompanied Summorum pontificum: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden forbidden". Note Cannot! We are talking about non potests rather than non licets. We are talking about what it is not within the competence of a pope to do.

As for curial enactments, well, I think it has to be pointed out that the pope is not only, as Glendinning concedes, the Supreme Legislator, but, as Vatican I defined, also the Supreme Judge of the Church. If his statements in Summorum pontificum went contrary to what Roman dikasteries had prescribed or implied, this was surely analogous to a court of appeal overriding an earlier judgement by a legislator of inferior jurisdiction. J Baldovini, quoted by Glendinning, wrote that "even someone with supreme legislative authority cannot undo historic facts". But Benedict XVI was not misdescribing (or even describing) historical facts, I suggest, but defining what the deepest law of the Church is. He based himself upon a view of history, Theology, and law which was broader than the juridical bases of those previous enactments. That is in fact what makes his declaration so significant; so much more in line with a Catholic - and Orthodox - and Anglo-Catholic - concept of Liturgy.

Benedict XVI identified (not created) a Principle deeper than mere legislation; a Law even deeper than the law; to the effect that "what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too". This is not so much a canonical principle as a statement of a theological truth ineradicably inscribed in the very nature itself of the Church Militant. It is what Moreton and I have called auctoritas. Papa Ratzinger concluded that "it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful".

It is worth remembering this in a post-Benedictine era. Subsequent legislators cannot legislate to abolish this datum because, established as it is in immutable historical facts, it is not accessible to the pen of a legislator. Summorum Pontificum, qua legislation, is itself no more immutable than other piece of legislation.  

But the Principle underlying it is one of those principles which are integral to the life of the Church; unchangeably part of it for ever.

6 July 2017

How to depose a Pope: the teaching of the Archbishopric of Westminster

In view of the documents leaked by Eccles and Bosco just before Christmas concerning Papa Bergoglio's move to Avignon, I here republish a revision of an article which has appeared, I think twice, before on my blog. (Some corrections and additions offered in the original threads have, with thanks, been incorporated into this text.) People who just visit this blog ... and, indeed, the Internet generally ... for a quick giggle need only go straight down to the brief paragraphs in blue.

I am particularly grateful to people who enable me to correct any misstatements.

As you enter Westminster Cathedral, you will, if you look at the wall to your left, see two large sheets of brass (bronze?) which purport to give us a list of the chief pastors of the Catholic Church in this country from S Augustine onwards, showing their communion with the See of S Peter. (Who compiled it? See the thread. Interestingly, it claims that the Vicars Apostolic of the London District were chief pastors ... is this true?) The aim of this list is surely ecclesiological (indeed, polemical and anti-Anglican) and designed to make a claim for the status of the Roman Catholic Particular Churches in England based upon their Communio with the See of S Peter. Such a public witness and explicatio of Communio must clearly be held to embody the formal teaching of the Particular Church of Westminster, God bless her.

What I am interested in is the early fifteenth century, the time when the Great Western Schism had not yet been resolved. There were at one point three simultaneous, competing, 'lines' of 'popes': the Roman Popes; the Avignon Popes; and, after the Council of Pisa in 1409 deposed both of them (their depositions were not then accepted by either of them) there were also the Pisan Popes. Of course, really there can only be one pope. One of those three prelates was the real pope; the other two were antipopes. Obviously, people who adhered to one of the two antipopes, believing him to be the true pope, were in completely good faith and most earnestly desired to be in communion with the Successor of S Peter. An argument which attempted to portray them as 'non-papalist' would be dishonest. But objectively such adherents were as a matter of fact not in communion with him; they objectively were in schism from the one man whom God (alone!) knows to have been pope.

Dr E L Mascall observed that there had never been a definitive judgement on which of the three was the genuine 'line' of 'real' popes, and different editions of such works as the Annuario pontificio are not always in agreement; but the de facto consensus is that the Roman popes were the Real Macoy. Down to 1409, that is. 1409 is the year the real fun starts. Are you sitting comfortably?

As the year 1409 began, the Roman pope was Gregory XII. England was in communion with him. Scotland, France, and Spain, on the other hand, were in communion with the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII. But, during that year 1409, most of the cardinals of each 'pope' deserted their respective masters and, in the council of Pisa, came together; and claimed to depose them both and to elect a new pope, Alexander V. 2+1=3 popes! Now let's see what the official Westmonasteriensian lists do with this situation.

The lists in Westminster Cathedral show Gregory XII (Roman) as becoming pope in 1406; then Alexander V (Pisan) in 1409 (although the 'genuine' and 'Roman' pope Gregory XII did not abdicate until 1415).

In other words, the Church and Bishop of Westminster, interestingly, by implication proclaim the Pisan doctrine that a 'Council' unlawfully convoked by a group of cardinals in collaboration with some 'schismatics' (as Pisa was) and without the consent of the lawful Roman Pontiff, can lawfully depose the lawful pope (in this case, Gregory XII) and lawfully elect eo nondum defuncto a lawful replacement.

(This Westmonasteriensian-Pisan doctrine is distinctly thought-provoking! Would four Cardinals and three SSPX bishops, gathered in solemn Conclave at the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or even half-way up the Westminster Cathedral Minaret, suffice for validity?)

However, Alexander V died in 1410; and his Pisan 'line' was continued by the election of John XXIII (sic). But the Westminster list does not mention this John XXIII. The next pope it gives is Martin V, who was to be elected by the Council of Constance in 1417. (At that Council, both Gregory XII [Roman] and John XXIII [Pisan] did either accept deposition or abdicate.)

So it appears that, from 1410 until 1417, according to the public teaching of the Church of Westminster, the See of S Peter was vacant. But it is unclear why, in this public teaching of the Church of Westminster, Alexander V (Pisan) was truly pope but his immediate lineal successor John XXIII (Pisan) lacked the same status. Obviously, the idiosyncratic dogmas of Westminster have profundities which I have not yet plumbed.

A seven-year interregnum, in which nobody is in communion with a pope because there isn't one, is surely long enough to raise interesting ecclesiological questions. I return to this in Footnote (3).

So far we have been considering the papal names on the left side of the Westminster Cathedral list. Let us now look to the right, where we find the Archbishops of Canterbury listed and the date (if known) when they received their  Pallia. The anonymous begetter of this list rightly takes granting and reception of the Pallium to be a clear indicator of Communio between Rome and Canterbury. And in 1414, Henry Chichele became Archbishop of Canterbury and, that same year, received the Pallium at Kings Sutton. Yes ... he received the Pallium ... in ... get this ... 1414.

In 1414, most of the world, including England, regarded the Pisan pope John XXIII as the true pope. Only Italy still adhered to the Roman pope Gregory XII. (Remember: the Church of Westminster regards the See of Rome as being vacant from 1410 to 1417; incidentally, in case you were wondering, the Avignon pope, Benedict XIII, had fled to a small Spanish town called Peniscola and by this point was ignored by everyone everywhere else.) So who sent the Pallium to Archbishop Chichele in 1414?

I have no doubt that it was the Pisan pope John XXIII. (See the thread.)

But the Church of Westminster officially and very publicly dismisses this poor chap as non-existent, i.e. as a mere antipope. As do modern lists of the popes.

So, when Papa Roncalli was elected Bishop of Rome in 1958, he took the title 'John XXIII' as if there never before had been a lawful pope of that name and number.

Irrespective of the question whether John XXIII (version 1) was or was not truly pope, I find it hard to understand how the Church of Westminster thinks it is demonstrating the importance of links of communion between the chief pastors of the Catholic Church in this country and the Holy See by boasting that Archbishop Chichele received the Pallium at a time when its own list declares the See of Rome to have been vacant, without there being any lawful pope (in the Westmonasteriensian view) qualified to bless and send out Pallia.

Stigand, incidentally, raises similar questions for Rigid Westmonasterialensian Extremists.

FOOTNOTES: (1) All this would be even greater fun if a Catholic Cathedral in Scotland had a parallel list ... also writ very large in brass (bronze?) ... showing the quite different list of 'popes' with whom the Scottish dioceses were in communion between 1378 and 1409, and who, I imagine, sent Pallia to Scottish metropolitans. The Avignon Pope Benedict XIII conferred University status upon the Schola at S Andrews in 1413 ... he is still honoured there. I wonder which papal claimant the town of Berwick on Tweed held communio with! And how about the Medieval diocese of Sodor and Man, which in any case showed a tendency to episcopal duplicity in the Middle Ages? And there are our beloved Channel Islands, happy little sunlit tax-havens and historically parts of the Diocese of Coutances. There could be industrial scope for manufacturers of big brass plates to make money by producing contradictory successio lists!
(2) I would not like anybody to think that I am mocking the teaching of Holy Mother Church, defined as tenendum de fide at Vatican I, concerning the Petrine Ministry; or that the facts about the Great Schism of the West in any way whatsoever throw the least doubt upon that teaching, which I have spent my whole adult life asserting and defending. They most certainly do not. In my view, the theological problems which are indeed thrown up by the Great Western Schism are easily, and best, dealt with by applying principles laid out in Paragraph 17 of the document Communionis notio (1992 AAS 85) issued by the CDF under Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. And, indeed, any narrative of the Great Schism indicates the need for just such a nuanced understanding of Ecclesiology, of Communio, and of schism, as Ratzinger gives there. (See also his thoroughly admirable Dominus Iesus [2000] Paragraph 17. I cannot help feeling that this is an attitude which Professor Dr E L Mascall, who cogently raised the ecclesiological problems thrown up by the Great Schism, would have been able to adopt.)
(3) Another approach would be to argue that  fundamentally it is with the Roman Church, not with its Bishop simpliciter, that Christians are technically obliged to be in Communion. This would also solve another problem raised by Fr Mascall, that of periods of papal sede vacante ... which, in the Westmonasteriensian view, can go on for at least seven years without any insuperable theological problem arising ... during which, of course, nobody is in communion with the pope because there isn't one, but Catholics are all in Communion with the Roman Church because that does not cease to exist. Readers will also remember that two of the earliest witnesses to the Roman Primacy, S Ignatius and S Irenaeus, refer to the Church of Rome without actually mentioning its Bishop; and that the earliest known exercise of a primatial ministry is the 'Epistle of Clement', which is written as from the Roman Church. Of course, Rome's primacy is necessarily going to be exercised by the Bishop of that Church, who justly is held to be S Peter's Successor. But, in the end, I propose, Rome is not the primatial Church because it has the Pope as its Bishop; the Pope is the primatial Bishop because he has Rome for his Church. I put this forward as a speculation which seems to me to resolve some of the problems.

5 July 2017

Recusant Ickford

Ickford is only a couple of miles along the River Thame from the recusant centre at Waterperry. Ickford church has a number of monuments to the Phillips family, who seem to have oscillated between being Recusants and Church Papists. Fr Thomas Phillips, in the first part of the eighteenth century, joined the Society of Jesus; I feel he was a man after my own heart, because he developed a great love for teaching the Humanities. When his superiors refused his plea to be allowed to teach a course in that subject, in a fit of pique he left the Society and acquired the patronage of King Charles III. The King secured him a canonry at Tongres and a dispensation to apply its income to his work in the English Mission. He ended his life chaplaining in great Catholic houses, such as that of the Earls of Shrewsbury; among his works was a lengthy biography of Cardinal Pole. Perhaps we could see him as a link between the dangerous recusancy of the seventeenth century and the first glimmerings of the catholic revival which was to happen in the nineteenth; and as a precursor of learned gentleman clergy in the English Catholic Church, such as Lingard and Tierney and Oliver.

4 July 2017

Country church-crawling

Ickford Church has wonderful vibes. Its Rector, 1911-1933, was Canon Vernon Staley, author of The Catholic Religion. This was a standard manual for Anglo-Catholics in the first part of the twentieth century, and went into a number of editions. Staley was pre-papalist; for example, he believed that our Lady was purified before her birth rather than conceived Immaculate. I suppose he would have been at home, dogmatically, in the forteenth century. Not good enough, I absolutely agree. But then, I gather that one Hans Kueng, despite his noisy heresies, still holds an unrevoked celebret. Is it really so very much better to devote a long life to subverting the Faith from within the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church than to work unremittingly outside those boundaries to teach the common people of England a version of the Faith with which S Thomas Aquinas might not have had much of a problem?

Staley was apparently not untouched by the more developed Catholicism of the later twentieth century; he secured Sir Ninian 'Patrimony' Comper to work on the glass at Ickford. A window depicting S Bede the Venerable is said to have Staley's own face. But Fr and Mrs Staley had a great grief. Their only son, aged 19, was killed in the last six weeks of the First World War. A candelabrum (with adjacent Latin inscription) hangs as a memorial; a Comper window of S John Baptist commemorates him (was the Baptist's face based on that of young Staley?); and a three-light Comper window, our Lady between two sainted soldier princes, is in his honour. Before he went back to the front for the last time, the young man coloured a representation of the royal arms which his father had carved (Canon Staley also himself carved the font cover and the tester over the altar).

Ickford retained Comper's services after Staley's death; a good window of S Thomas More, 1947. Perhaps Thomas Batterbury was responsible; a brass tablet commemorating him (1959) offers two Sapphic stanzas in honour of the Saint:

Te Pater, Thomas tuus adiuvante
pertulit duras hilaris catenas,
pertulit mortis faciem imminentis

Cuius exemplum doceat fideles
ut petant laetis animis coronam;
sic in aeternae veniamus omnes
gaudia vitae.

Not great poetry; but unusually late for Latin verse in a monument; and an uncommon metre for this purpose. I wonder what the old school-marm of Lesbos would have made of it. And, most satisfying, these two stanzas and the window above them would have had Henry Tudor spitting nails ...

Beta double plus.

Oops ... I forgot the Recusant aspects of Ickford church. I'll polish that off a little later.

3 July 2017

Abuse of Faith

The Report of the Enquiry set up by the Church of England into the doings of the sexual predator Bishop Peter Ball has emerged in not much more than a year, and it is blisteringly frank. The Church of England, in my view, has acted extremely wisely in securing this Report and in hanging so very much dirty washing on its line.  In view of the horrors which the Report itemises, it would be tactless to call all this a Good Result; but, given the basic enormity of the situation, I think the C of E has done very well.

But ... I do rather wonder about the subsequent singling out of Archbishop emeritus of Canterbury George Carey for every last refinement of ritual humiliation.

His reputation is already in shreds. But he is not a bad man; simply a stupid one. Ball, and his brother Bishop Michael Ball (against whom there is no evidence of abusive behaviour), were (as the Report makes clear) extraordinarily plausible and endlessly manipulative. They were able to run rings round poor Carey. One conclusion might be: it is a very bad idea to appoint someone as profoundly foolish to senior management in any organisation, especially an ecclesial body. But it is rather ugly to do so and then to give such a man a good kicking when he is down.

After all, it appears that some other individuals and bodies fall rather short of the standard of frankness wisely demonstrated by the C of E. The Enquiry had no power to sub poena individuals or organisations or their records; and one police force simply declined to collaborate. So did Ball's identical twin Michael. The CPS decided finally not to press charges concerning abuse of those beneath the age of consent, thus, potentially, enabling Ball to get away with a much shorter sentence. Understandably, some victims feel aggrieved about this. It is, surely, not too late to try Ball for these even more serious allegations.

Furthermore, Carey was not the only fool to be taken in by the craft and guile of an immensely cunning sexual criminal. The Great and the Good of the British Establishment were helpless suckers for the Ball 'magic'. Such people included the Prince of Wales, a High Court Judge and a raft of risibly gullible Public School head masters, who, more than a decade after Ball accepted a Police Caution and thereby admitted his abusive behaviour (1993), were still clamouring to get this 'charismatic' and 'approachable' figure to visit their schools and enjoy unsupervised contact with pupils. These naive dupes, like Carey, accepted the narrative of the Ball brothers that he was 'basically innocent'; that he had been 'set up'; that he had accepted the Police Caution only in order "to spare the Church the embarrassment of a trial". Shouldn't such individuals also suffer some reputational disadvantage? Dim daft Carey, I fear, is the working class boy who is being hung out to dry by an Establishment which is well protected by its ancient lore of how a chap covers his own back.

Lastly, two examples from closer home, of the evasion of negative consequences for past misjudgements:

Has the CBCEW ever published a report on who knew about Bishop Kieran Conry's womanising; and. most particularly, how early they knew about it? My impression is that the main desire has been to move on.

Our Holy Father appointed to his Synod on the Family a Cardinal notorious for having tried to cover up abuse by a fellow bishop, abuse which concerned that bishop's own nephew. (Yes; it would be funny if it were not so nasty.)

Such breath-taking hubris.

2 July 2017

Today's Collect in the ORDINARIATE MISSAL

Normally, of course, the Sunday Propers of ORDINARIATE MISSAL are the same as those of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. But during the Sundays after Pentecost, which we call the Sundays after Trinity, there is a dislocation, partly (let's not go into all the intricacies) due to the question of whether or not one of the ordinary Sunday masses is used up by the weekdays between Trinity Sunday and the next Sunday; and partly because we have an additional Sunday proper, which we call The Third Sunday After Trinity, which is missing from the Missals of S Pius V and S John XXIII. It does, however, come from the same old Roman Sacramentary sources as all the other Sunday Masses. Here is the Latin original of the Collect, followed by Dr Cranmer's 1549 translation and then by the form this prayer was given in 1662 (bold type for its 'padding').

Deprecationem nostram, quaesumus, Domine, benignus exaudi; et quibus supplicandi praestas affectum, tribue defensionis auxilium.

1549: Lorde, we beseche thee mercifully to heare us, and unto whom thou hast given an heartie desyre to pray; grant that by thy mightie ayde we may be defended.

1662: O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us: and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities.

Perhaps Cranmer's very Liturgiam authenticam preservation of the clause order  of the Latin had, by 1662, come to seem a trifle mannered, if not plain obscure.

Sharp-eyed users of the preconciliar Missal and Breviary may find this collect oddly familiar. That is because the compilers of the ancient Roman Sacramentaries were not shy about using identical or nearly identical formularies on different occasions. See if you can find it.

As I have said before, the marker of these immemorially ancient prayers is their brevity, simplicity, and preoccupation with the most basic needs of the most ordinary Christian life. None of the verbose clevernesses which tempt modern liturgical committeepersons, both Anglican and Roman Catholic. Thank God for them - the ancient prayers, I mean, not the modern committeepersons.

1 July 2017

The Precious Blood

Perhaps even more than the Sacred Heart, today's great Feast represents the instincts embodied in the old English affection for the cult of the Redeemer's Five Wounds. Here is Fr Caswall's translation of the Lauds Office Hymn for July 1:

Hail, wounds! which through eternal years The love of Jesus show; Hail, Wounds! from whence unfailing streams Of grace and mercy flow.
More precious than the gems of Ind, Than all the stars more fair; Nor honeycomb, nor fragrant rose, Can once with you compare.
Through you is open'd to our souls A refuge safe and calm, Whither no raging enemy Can reach to work us harm.
What countless stripes did Christ receive Naked in Pilate's hall! From his torn flesh how red a shower Did all around him fall!
How doth th'ensanguined thorny crown That beauteous brow transpierce! How do the nails those hands and feet Contract with tortures fierce!
He bows his head, and forth at last His loving spirit soars; Yet even after death His heart For us its tribute pours.
Beneath the winepress of God's wrath His Blood for us He drains, Till for Himself, oh wondrous love! No single drop remains.
Oh, come, all ye on whom abide The deadly stains of sin! Come! wash in this encrimsoned tide, And ye shall be made clean.
Praise Him, who with the Father sits Enthroned upon the skies; Whose blood redeems our souls from guilt, Whose Spirit sanctifies.

Not as sure-footed as translations by John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale, is it? Incidentally, with regard to the antepenultimate stanza, Neale claimed, on physiological grounds, that the word 'roseo' in the hymn Ad coenam Agni related to the 'fact' that the last drop or two from a body almost totally drained of blood ... are rosy rather than red. A recent correspondent, a doctor in A & E, confirmed the accuracy of this.

30 June 2017

Cats, skinning of, different ways of.

UPDATE: On 22 November 2016, and then again on 21 January 2017, I published the post I repeat below. 

Again and again, Cardinal Mueller has been the victim of criticism in some Traddy circles. This, in my view, is totally unjustified. His stance on Amoris laetitia is perfectly rational and it doesn't need me to guarantee its perfect orthodoxy. His is one way to skin a cat. The other skinning method is that of the Four Cardinals; to seek a clarification which will put its orthodoxy beyond the doubt which they judge some prelates and some hierarchies have created. Each Feline Modality is directly aimed at the affirmation of the same orthodoxy. Whether as a matter of fact there is 'doubt' about what AL teaches, is for individuals to assess. And an  assessment might change, obviously. If enough prelates and hierarchies were to claim that AL affirms their own personal unorthodoxy, then it is obvious that Cardinal Mueller's present judgement, that AL does not require any resolution of doubts, might need reconsideration. If, on the other hand, the Conferences and bishops of the world conclamantly and unambiguously assert the Mueller view, then I imagine the Four Cardinals might wonder whether they need spend their time composing Fraternal Corrections.

What is important is that the cat gets skinned. Not whether journalists can get some good copy about Rifts in the Vatican.

Soon after Amoris laetitia was published, Cardinal Mueller, addressing seminarians, explained that nothing has changed; that the teaching of Familiaris consortio and Sacramentum caritatis is still fully in place. He concluded his assertion with the cheeful "it's-obvious-isn't-it" observation that, if a Roman Pontiff wanted to change such important teaching, he would so explicitly and with full explanations.

The widespread opinion of others, which seems to me plausible, is that Bergoglio in fact is trying to create ambiguity and confusion and grey areas so that, in the fulness of time, heterodox conclusions will emerge from the mess ... while he, Bergoglio, will be immune to any accusation of teaching explicit heresy. OK; if that's right, do you really expect Mueller to say it? Do you in effect expect the Muellers of this world to resign noisily and thus vacate areas of power for dodgy Bergoglians to be put into? Do you think Bergoglio is happy with Mueller? Why do you suppose he sent von Schoenborn, instead of Mueller, to do the Amoris laetitia News Conference? UPDATE: Why do you think he has proclaimed the Graf von Schoenborn as the Official Interpreter of AL? Why do you think he personally weeded out some good men from the CDF and shouted at them down the phone?

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia is another very skilled skinner of cats. He worked hard and fast and got his diocesan guidelines out. No grass grew under his feet or those of his cats. Kevin "Bergoglio-is-the-voice-of-the-Holy-Spirit" Farrell then criticised Chaput and yet again dragged the Holy Spirit into his expression of his own divisively factional opinions*. Chaput neatly replied that Farrell had not in fact been a witness of the first synod and had clearly not read the Philadelphia regulations. He then very defly dealt with the idea that Episcopal Conferences should get themselves behind Amoris laetitia, by pointing out that diocesan bishops, not conferences, were responsible for their dioceses ... and that each bishop individually really loves the Holy Father simply to bits! This man is no fool and no coward. The first American pope? The first pope with genuinely Native American blood?

I, personally, rejoice in the initative of the Four. I suspect that other prelates may have whispered in Pope Francis' ear that they agree with the Four; but out of affection and loyalty were not yet saying so publicly. Why else do you think Bergoglio cancelled the talking-shop before the Consistory? Perhaps he, unlike the amnesiac Kev, remembers that there were some quite amusingly noisy and uncontrolled outbreaks of Parrhesia during the synods.

And according to the commentators, it rather looks as though, in the pleasant anonymity of their polling booths, the American bishops were contentedly unwilling to vote in any great numbers for Bergoglio's cronies and favourites.

MiaOW! Or, to approach the question from quite a different angle, MiaOW!

UPDATE: so I will not be terribly surprised if today's rumours are true. I would, however, point out that one of the pieces of evidence adduced (that his Eminence had an audience of the Roman Pontiff on Friday) proves rather little, in view of the fact that Friday is the regular day for the Prefect of the CDF to be received in audience.

*"Each bishop in his diocese has to set certain rules and parameters, but at the same time, I think that they need to be open to listening to the Holy Spirit ..."  Ah, the naive, the child-like arrogance of this so-transparent individual!

Romanitas; and whatever is a Pope for?

Yesterday, the great Feast of the Holy Apostles of Rome, I strolled down to Sandford lock. I took with me my battered "summer picnic" volume of the Pars Aestiva; and, since Blessed John Henry Newman, Patron of our Ordinariate, must often have walked there from nearby Littlemore, I took also his Apologia pro Vita sua.

I love the Mattins readings for the Second Nocturn, from S Leo I's First mighty Sermon In natali Apostolorum Petri et Pauli. It gets to the heart of the Romanita of the Western Church, and especially of the English Church; S Leo I, the finest Latin stylist since Cicero, explains to the plebs Romana (now the plebs sancta Dei) how all that is meant by being Roman has been transformed ... yet, in transformation, preserved and enhanced ... by the Gospel. "For although, glorified by many victories, you have advanced the jus of your imperium by land and by sea, yet, what the labour of war subdued to you, is less than what the Pax Christiana subjected to you". The culture of classical Roman antiquity was baptised by S Leo; my view is that he is the one who finally recast the Roman Eucharistic Prayer in a Latinity moulded by the the prayer-style of the old, pre-Christian, prayer-style of early Rome. Under S Leo, being a Christian finally ceased to be adherence to a foreign and dodgy sect largely followed by Greekling immigrants, and became the new majestic embodiment of all that it meant to be Roman in culture and law and liturgy. And, with S Augustine, that Romanita was parachuted into Kent and became the marker too of the Anglo-Saxon Church; the Church of Augustine and Justus and Mellitus; of Wilfrid and Bede and Alcuin. The Kentish king who had considered it beneath his dignity to adopt his wife's Merovingian Christianity rejoiced in the opportunity to receive Christianity from its august and Roman fount. Therein lies the exquisite beauty of "the Anglo-Saxon Church", a Roman island beyond the Alps.

And that same Mr Newman expressed the essence of the Petrine Ministry, of the munus of the Successor of Peter, in an epigrammatic passage: "It is one of the reproaches urged against the Church of Rome, that it has originated nothing, and has only served as a sort of remora or break in the development of doctrine. And it is an objection which I embrace as truth; for such I conceive to be the main purpose of its extraordinary gift". It is precisely along these lines that Cardinal Ratzinger in a passage of lapidary elegance criticised the bloated and corrupt hyperpapalism of the post-Vatican II period, with its disordered, disordering belief that a pope, especially if backed by a Council, could monkey around at will with Tradition. It is, Ratzinger asserted, the Pope's job to be the Guardian of the Tradition and the preserver of its integrity and authenticity. This is where the essence of our Holy Father's Ministry lies ... not (as some very foolish and dreadfully noisy people mistakenly think) in being a charismatic innovator, the herald of a God of Surprises. Heaven forbid that any Pope should ever sink so low, so far beneath his true ecclesial vocation.

I feel that we in the Ordinariate, loyally conscious of the teaching of our Patron Blessed John Henry, and with our warm attachment to the charism of our Founder Pope Benedict XVI, may be particularly called by God to support our beloved Holy Father Pope Francis in this important Ministry and at this critical moment.

Media -watchers ...

 ... has anybody noticed whether our Holy Father, as he did last year, cancelled the customary papal meeting with the Cardinals, at which their Eminences, both the newly created  and the long-timers, have customarily enjoyed Parrhesia with the Roman Pontiff?

I can't see it on the bollettino

Incidentally, the bollettino, not once but twice, refers to the berretta. Brits will remember the affection which the late Commander James Bond, R.N., had for this particular adornment.

29 June 2017

S Leo II and S Peter and the Papal Magisterium.

Continues ...
Well yes, and so: three cheers for S Irenaeus (see yesterday's blogpost). But as I look into the pre-Pius X breviary by my desk, I discover that in even earlier days, June 28, yesterday, was occupied by a great pope, S Leo II (681-683). (After the introduction of S Irenaeus, he was moved ahead to July 3; isn't calendarical life complicated?)

Did I say a great pope?

Our Holy Father Pope S Leo II was great because he undertook the unhappy but necessary duty of ratifying the condemnation, by the Sixth Holy Ecumenical Council, of his own predecessor, Pope Honorius I (625-638), as a heretic. As the Vicar of Christ wrote to the Spanish bishops, Pope Honorius "did not, as befits the Apostolic dignity, extinguish the fire of heretical teaching when it began, but by his negligence fostered it".

Some people believe the Petrine Ministry means that a Pope is set in place and guided by the Holy Spirit in order to give exciting new perspectives, perhaps even surprises, to the Church. Not so. Not in a month of Sundays. As Blessed John Henry Newman taught, in a memorable passage in his Apologia about which I will write more tomorrow, the ministry of the Roman Church, its "extraordinary gift", has always been negative, to be a remora, a barrier against novelty, innovation.

At the jagged edge of that precipitous cliff, the Pope is the Council Workman whose very simple job it is to put up a notice saying DANGER: KEEP AWAY. 'Negative', laconic, but, oh, so necessary. A mischievous or homicidal or mischievously homicidal pope who put up a notice reading ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND: YOUR CONSCIENCE WILL TELL YOU WHERE TO JUMP would be failing in the duty set him by his Master.

Through  two millennia, it has been the duty of successive Bishops of Rome to resist, condemn, and extirpate novelty and any attempt to change the Faith.

That is why S Vincent of Lerins (circa 450?) quotes Pope S Celestine (422-432) as writing "Innovation should stop attacking what is ancient", and the next pope, S Sixtus III, (432-440) as writing "Innovation has no rights, because it is inappropriate to add anything to what is ancient; clearly, the faith and belief of our ancestors should not be stirred up by any mixture of filth". The Anglican historian of the Papacy, Trevor Jalland, wrote of the "supernatual grandeur" of the Roman Church; "its strange, almost mystical faithfulness to type, its marked degree of changelessness, its steadfast clinging to tradition and precedent".

On this great feast of the Holy Apostles of the Church in Rome, we can do worse than listen to those powerful words of S Leo II. His predecessor Honorius had been Pope when a particular error arose; it had been his duty as domnus Apostolicus to extinguish the blaze; but he was negligent; he failed to do his (negative) duty of repelling innovation; and his negligence led to the growth of the error.

It therefore fell to an Ecumenical Council to condemn him, together with the leaders of the heresy he failed to extinguish, with the unambiguous noun heretics and the unambiguous verb anathematizomen.

There is more than one way of qualifying for the title of Heretic!

28 June 2017

Whom to celebrate on June 28 ???????

Today, in the Roman Rite, is traditionally the Vigil of the Solemnity of SS Peter and Paul.

Before the changes initiated under Pius XII began, S Irenaeus had been put onto this day. So, in the admirable ORDO published by the Saint Lawrence Press (giving the Roman Rite as it was circa 1939), Mass today is of that Saint, with commemorations of two octaves and of the Vigil. Or ad libitum, it is of the Vigil, with commemorations of the Saint and of the octaves.

In 1962, S Irenaeus was moved to July 3 so as to unclutter the observance of the Vigil (octaves had by now been abolished).

Less than a decade after this, the Novus Ordo Calendar put S Irenaeus back onto today.

Summary: (1) Today is the real festival of S Irenaeus (as well as the Vigil of the Apostles). He spent less than a decade (1962-1970) in exile on July 3. As it happens, the Novus Calendar agrees with the pre-Pius XII Calendar. What the 1962 calendar provides is both 'untraditional' AND out of sync with what the Novus part of the Roman Rite does. This is a matter of everybody in the regiment except my 1962 Johnny being out of step.
(2) Would it really be an act of base treachery to Tradition to correct the 1962 Calendar, at least in those places where the pre1962 Calendar and the Novus Calendar are in agreement with each other against 1962?
(3) The Roman Rite, like the Byzantine Rite, should be more welcoming to the custom of observing two commemorations on the same day. As it was before the 1960s.
(4) As happened before Pius XII and Bugnini, there should be more ad libitum in the 1962 missal.
(5) Would it be the ultimate crime to allow the use of Last Gospels of commemorated Sundays and Vigils, as used to happen before Pius XII let Mgr Bugnini loose on the Roman Rite?

But there is yet another Saint with a claim upon today!! We will consider him tomorrow, in connexion with the Apotles SS Peter and Paul.

27 June 2017

Mixed Metaphors and Intimidation

We all, I imagine, have our own networks of information; and a fair bit of the 'information' which has come my way over the last two or three of years has related to who is currently being persecuted by whom. Sometimes the intimidation is direct; sometimes it comes in the form of ueberpraelat X 'suggesting' to unterpraelat Y that Y should have a word with Z.

What intrigues me is this. The instances of intolerance that I hear all imply the dumping of the ton of bricks by a Bergoglian on a Wojtilan or Ratzingerian. Perhaps that merely says something about the sort of people I consort with. OK. Fair enough. Perhaps I should try to get out more.

But ... are there, in parallel, similar instances of intolerant intimidation currently being unloaded by Wojtilans and Ratzingerians upon Bergoglians?

Or do the Noxious Substances fly float or flow only in one direction?

I apologise if I have mixed my metaphors. I once worked under a head master who mixed his metaphors incessantly. It became a daily source of merriment in Common Room to collect ... and parody ... his rococo utterances.The genre can become quite an art form.

I only hope I don't get the Thin End of the Holy Father's Elbow.

26 June 2017

Aeschylus and Euripides and Junia and the Gestapo

As many readers will know, Adolf Hitler was unintentionally (and hideously) by far the most significant benefactor of the Oxford Classics Faculty (called Litterae Humaniores) in well over a century. In the 1930s, Oxford became the home to many of the finest Classicists from the German universities: such as Eduard Fraenkel, 'the World's greatest Latinist' who (not without some opposition) walked straight from his Freiburg Chair into the Corpus Professorship. It has been shown that in his monumental Commentary on the Agamemnon, especially in the figure of Cassandra and in the fate of Agamemnon, Fraenkel's 'strictly philological' treatment of the ancient text is in fact constantly marked by the Holocaust experiences of European Jewry (Fraenkel was a Jew). And, in Pfeiffer's History of Classical Scholarship, largely written during the War, Ptolemy VIII, under whom the great men of the Learned City of Alexandria fled in what came to be called the secessio doctorum, is clearly framed as a Type of Hitler.

It is salutary sometimes to recollect upon ones good fortune; Fraenkel and Pfeiffer had been pupils of the 'legendary' Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf ... what an Apostolic Tradition we callow and naive undergraduates of the 1950s and 1960s were privileged to be admitted to!

And the paradosis continues. I once I went to an undergraduate performance of the Hippolytus in Oriel College (the quadrangle used was once the St Mary's Hall of which Cardinal Allen was Principal). Rather ... undergraduate; twenty minutes late starting because they couldn't get the patio heater to light up! But the Greek text was faultlessly learned (or should I mention that just occasionally the iambs sounded a trifle ... iambic) and vigorously delivered and the tragic conclusion really did grip the (albeit slightly chilled) audience. Oh, the charming, touching innocence of the young ... I bet none of them knew that Hippolytus was also the name of somebody who didn't write the text which Botte and Bouyer so lamentably adapted into that dreadful Eucharistic Prayer, their bibulous pencils dancing frantically as they drafted their opus on the terrace of a trattoria in the Trastevere while the Phaedras of the Night minced up and down before them. And I bet the young people also didn't know, when they got to the line describing Aphrodite as episemos en brotois, that this is a line detested by feminists because grammatically it subverts their daft claim that there ever was a 'Female Apostle' called Junia.

Good thing they didn't know ... the feminist Thought Police or the genderist Gestapo might have demanded its excision ... I wonder what Euripides would have thought of being No Platformed ... no ... Aristophanes would be the man to ask about that ... what a wonderful satire he could have written on No Platforming and Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings and Transphobia and (this is Pride Month in Not-terribly-great Britain) Hubris kai ta loipa. What would it have been called? Hoi Eunouchoi? Hoi Malakoi? Lyssanesos? Eschropolis? [I am indebted to Professor C S Lewis of this University for the last two suggestions.]

Quaeritur ... if anyone's interested ... after the Hippolytus I watched the old 1962 film version, entitled Phaedra, with the myth transposed to a modern Greek ship-owning family ... Melina Mercouri as Phaedra, score by Theodorakis, you name it. Beta question-mark plus, I thought. The Wikipedia entry said it was popular in Europe, but a box-office flop in the US of A. I wonder why?

25 June 2017

Sporting the Papal Oak*: the Vocabulary of Gesture

I am finding it difficult to elaborate a workable hermeneutic by which to understand the unwillingness of the Roman Pontiff to allow his door to be opened to the Four Cardinals.

It has been critically pointed out by others that he opens his door to some rather unusual applicants. This seems to me to be not at all a just object of criticism. I applaud him for it. How can anyone fail to notice that, in so doing, he is following the example of his Line Manager, the Second Person of the Blessed and Undivided Trinity? Whom did the Incarnate Word ever turn away?

But ... well, may I put it like this. If I ran a very welcoming household, admitting anyone who knocked, friends and foes, from tramps to parliamentary candidates, talking to all, hearing their troubles, struggling with their worries, and trying to resolve their uncertainties, but refused ever to find a moment to hear and talk with my wife, children, and grandchildren, what judgements ought to be made of me?

The Lord washed the feet of his most intimate friends, and that pedilavium was seen in the Church when Abbots washed the feet of their sons, Bishops the feet of their presbyters. But the present occupant of the Roman See refuses this service of humility to his associates and rigidly confines it to people whom he has, as far as we are informed, never met before. I am impressed by the symbolism of what he does do ... with its gracious imagery of openness to those on the social peripheries ... while being puzzled by the determined rigidity of his exclusions.

Perhaps ... who am I to speculate? ... our Holy Father feels impatient that Four Cardinals are unable to understand his recent document Amoris laetitia. Possibly he suspects that they fail to understand because they are determined not to understand. I know exactly the same feeling. Both in the parochial teaching ministry, and in a scholastic environment, I have sometimes had that very feeling. In my simplicity, however, I have usually tried to devise other strategies by which to make myself understood. Should I really have just refused to waste my time? Is that the message and example we lesser people are to infer from the conduct of the Vicar of Christ?

Papa Ratzinger once invited to tea a dissident theologian with a life's history of heresy and of malevolent and unpleasantly expressed antagonism towards himself: Hans Kueng. I thought that was a rather fine and lovely gesture. Or: perhaps not so much a mere gesture as a real and Christ-like openness to a brother in Christ. Was I merely naive to think this? Should Ratzinger simply have locked the door, eaten all the sandwiches himself, licked his lips, and had a nap?

I can understand it if the present occupant of the Roman See has a mental list of people he would rather not meet, which includes bishops whom he has just sacked as well as the Four Cardinals. That would be very humanly and endearingly understandable. Many pastors have, at least in petto, just such a list of parishioners. I once went along one particular street rather than another to avoid the risk of meeting such a person. But then, in my examination of conscience, it occurred to me: suppose Providence had disposed the likelihood of such a meeting with the intention that some particular good would result from it?

I am finding it quite a struggle to discover the truly Christian and pastoral meaning in locked doors, unanswered letters, and rigid exclusions.

*Male undergraduate sets of rooms in Oxford used to have an inner and an outer door. The latter was called the 'Oak' and it was said to be 'sported' when it was shut. 'Sporting one's Oak' occurred when, in some such emergency as an Essay Crisis or a woman, the undergraduate concerned had no time for socialising. Will Papa Bergoglio go down in the History books as the Papa Robustus, the Oaky Pope? Will the next step of the Four Cardinals be to compose in Greek elegiacs a paraklausithyron?