21 January 2018

Con-men and their tricks. How I was led up the Garden Path.

Autobiographically speaking, in my latter seventies, I now feel thay, as a callow youth, I was conned.

When I was an undergraduate in the early 1960s, this "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" was, in Oxford and elsewhere, one of the big events of the year. Prayer booklets were issued every year, giving intentions for each day of the Octave and liturgical formulae for use at the (many) prayer meetings that took place all over the University. Christian Unity was the imperative; the overwhelming need if the Church was to bear united witness to her Lord. It took precedence over anything, everything else. It was pointed out, over and over again, that John 17 means that the Unity of the Lord's people is rooted in and required by the inner life of the Trinity itself; we were to be One, so that our Oneness might be the same Oneness as that shared by Father and Son in the koinonia of the Spirit, "so that the World may believe". Anything that delayed or obstructed such a Unity was deeply wrong.

So there was much regret that 'the Roman Church' had, as people put it, 'placed a new obstacle' in the way of unity a decade earlier by defining the dogma of the Bodily Assumption of the Theotokos. And Anglo-Catholics like me were made to feel awkward because our views on the necessity of episcopacy were considered (and were) an obstacle to pan-Protestant unity. I was so far taken in by all this that, a little later, as a young priest, I voted in favour of the then current scheme for Anglican Methodist Unity, satisfied by the assurances of Dr Eric Kemp (one of its authors) that the Scheme had been carefully constructed to include a service adequate to confer conditional Priestly Ordination upon the Methodist clergy. (Apparently, the latest Anglo-Methodist Scheme does not bother with such ... however minimal ... nods in the direction of Catholic Sacramental doctrine.)

Now, more than half a century later, we are told that things really aren't as simple as that. Christian Unity is still, indeed, technically, a good thing ... Oh definitely ... technically. But, apparently, we were wrong to accept a simplistic notion that Unity was the one, the only one, the over-riding imperative of the Spirit. How terribly silly we were! We should, apparently, have realised (although I don't remember anyone explaining this at the time) that there were many other things which would easily trump the need for Unity: particularly the Spirit-filled Gospel Imperative, a matter of the purest Justice, to ordain women to priestly ministries. Just as Pius XII thought he was right in 1950, so people said, to create a new obstacle to unity just because it was true, so the liberals of the 1980s deemed themselves absolutely right to do precisely the same. Now, having moved on to the next stage, they are peremptorily demanding ex animo and de fide assent to their most newly defined divisive dogma, the Sanctity of Sodomy. Well I never. Who would ever have thought it1 How totally unpredictable!!

What gullible fools we were ... I mean, I was ... back in those 1960s, ever to take these crooks at their word.

Allow me to bestow upon you some advice arising from my own life-experience ... advice I have had to learn the hard way.

Never trust a Liberal. As the slippery b****r looks you straight in the eye, clasps your hand with warm manly sincerity, and gives you some copper-bottomed assurance, always remember that a few decades later (or sooner if it suits him) he'll sneer at you and say 'Did I really say that? I think you must have misunderstood me'. Or perhaps 'Ah, but things have moved on. The Holy Spirit, you see,  ... ' etc.etc.. It's not that they're intentionally or consciously dishonest; it's simply that their own unstable fancies and fantasies slither around in such undisciplined and unpredictable ways that their Master the Enemy, 'Our Father Below', easily guides them into a duplicity which they are too self-obsessed even to notice.

And, before your friendly Liberal leaves your house, count the spoons, especially those silver ones you inherited. He will almost certainly have subtly nuanced views on such moral questions as those concerning the ownership of spoons.

20 January 2018


The erudite Professor William Tighe has pointed to the Princeton University Press Blog for 31 October last year, in which Professor Richard Rex (author of a recent book on Luther which has received rave reviews) offered his own 95 theses, largely designed to explode the vast Searle-like, Piranesi-like, quasi-Hesiodic edifice of interlocking myths which have grown up around the 'fraterculus' Martin Luther and his strangely-denominated 'Reformation'. I recommend it. The theses, I mean, not the Reformation.

Ecumenism (3)

A far greater example of Unity Solved and Delivered than any I have so far mentioned is found in the teaching of S Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians. Part of that teaching is found in the Epistle of the Votive Mass for the Ending of Schism aka for the Unity of Christians. My own hope is that this Mass, beautiful in its profundity, will be widely available during this Chair of Unity Octave. But I would urge that readers reappropriate the entirety of that great Epistle (there is a very fine major Commentary of gigantic size by Thomas Winger).

S Paul deals with the the most profound division imaginable: between being within God's chosen People or outside it. He alludes to the soreg, the wall that separated Gentiles from Jews in the Temple at Jerusalem, marked by its rather chilling inscriptions threatening death to Gentiles who disregarded it.

That wall, S Paul points out, is abolished and, instead of Jew and Gentile, we have the new One Creation which is Christ.

In this Chair of Unity Octave, we must renew our commitment to oppose anything which strives to build that wall up again. The Faithful Remnant of Israel, so major a theme among the Prophets, is the one Body of Christ, together with those saved from among the Gentiles, snatched out of Gentile impurity and anomia by that fontal Act of Faith which Abraham made.

I think one of the weaknesses in the Church of today is that so few of her members are of Jewish descent. What we lose from this is a firm sense of our essential rootedness in the discipline of narratives handed down from the past, and an awareness that identity needs to be expressed by visible markers which distinguish us from the unclean pagan world around us.

And just suppose there were a strong Jewish presence in the Church, of intelligent and focussed Jews who understood that the Fall of the Temple and the cessation of its Daily Sacrifices is a coin which has, on its other side, the Daily Sacrifice of the tamid Lamb who is the Incarnate Torah. Perhaps we would not have such a dearth of sacrificial awareness among the mainstream congregations within our poor impoverished Latin Church.

19 January 2018

....... men ....... de .....

On the one hand, it is extremely good that PF did not just tell them that they were All Right as they were. His action admirably made clear that they needed to get married because, despite their civil 'marriage', they were not in fact married. Eccellente. Clearly, he will first have taken them aside and absolved them from their acts of fornication, before receiving their consent in the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony. What's not to like?

On the other hand, canonists have been uneasy about the "wedding" in the airliner. It all interests me because twice recently, 2 January and 14 January, I have vigorously argued against the apparent belief of some superhyperueberpapalists, that the Roman Pontiff, just because he makes and dispenses from laws, is himself above the Law.

And if it were to be asserted that "By doing X, PF tacitly dispensed himself from the law(s) against X", I would regard the implications of that approach as thoroughly disturbing ... almost like the Nazi notion that the Fuehrer's will is the Supreme Law. The whole business would suggest the ugly idea that "I'm the Pope and so I can do anything".

Indeed he is and indeed he can't.

God bless the pair of them! And him as well!

I wonder if the journalists will check that they were canonically free to marry, and ferret around to uncover the facts about the Act of God which prevented them from marrying in due form in the first place. An earthquake, was it ...

Ecumenism and the God of Surprises (2)

Father Christopher Phillips, the charismatic Founding Pastor of the Parish and Church of our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, graciously invited me, a few years ago, to spend some time in his Parish and in its Academy. I found this a truly wonderful experience ... not only because of the vibrancy and deep devotion of both Parish and Academic life ... and not only because of the warmth of the welcome I received from Father and from JoAnn and their congregations ... but something else as well. Let me explain.

Long decades before the Ordinariates were much more than just a gleam in the eye of our dear Professor Ratzinger, he had encouraged the setting up of "Anglican Use" parishes in which former Anglicans would continue to enjoy their Anglican Patrimony ... in theology, spirituality, yes; but especially in Liturgy.

The project worked so well that flocks of cradle Catholics with no "Anglican Previous" flocked in. San Antonio being San Antonio, this included many Latinos. They were entranced by the solemnity and dignity of what Fr Phillips ... or perhaps I should write, the Holy Ghost ... had got going. How packed that Church was!

And I was immensely moved by hearing English Tudor liturgical formulae (written by a poor misguided old Zwinglian who learned his errors in Cambridge and paid for them outside the Master's Lodgings of Balliol College in this University) on the lips of Hispanic Catholics; men, women, and children whose ancestors might easily have sailed in the Armada.

The God of Surprises again!! A great ecumenical coming-together; fruit of the vision of a small number of far-sighted Anglican priests such as Fr Phillips  and Fr Hawkins ... and of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI; the first and highly successful example of ecclesial communities from each side of the Reformation divide coming together and living in perfect amity and orthodox unity.

18 January 2018

Ecumenism (1)

2017 saw one piece of real ecumenism which went largely unremarked.

A small ... indeed, tiny ... group of clergy and laity put together a Filial Correction of PF, which was humbly submitted to him in early August with 40ish signatures. As with the Dubia, not even a dismissive acknowledge was received from PF or his office. It was therefore decided to make the document public. By the time this happened, some 20 or so more people who had heard about it had offered their signatures.

One of these was His Excellency Bishop Fellay. Two points:
(1) The Correctio drew upon the Magisterium of the Church of All Time including that of Vatican II and of 'the post-Conciliar popes' as well as that of the preceding millennia. Bishop Fellay did not turn up his nose at the document because of this factor.
(2) The creators of the Correctio accepted his offer. They did this in full knowledge that the malevolent Hypersuperueberpapalists surrounding PF would probably use this fact in order mendaciously to claim that they were 'cryptolefebvreists'. This is the sort of mud which that sort of person enjoys flinging around. (They did it with the Friars of the Immaculate.)

'Ecumenism', like most healthy things in the life of the Church Militant, tends not to happen in the way that is expected or anticipated. There were all those professional ecumenists, cosying up together in the Venices and the Maltas to craft deliberately ambiguous statements of verbal concord. But the God of Surprises ... YES!! ... works differently.

So here we had people brought together by nothing else than their love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of His Bride, joining together in joyful affirmation of the Deposit of Faith, the Tradition handed down through the Apostles.

17 January 2018

What's the time, Mr Wolf?

You must read Cardinal Mueller's latest piece in First Things. It reminds me of the game Grandmother's Footsteps, in which the players attempt to creep up silently upon the person who is their object, and who is facing away from them. They freeze into immobility every time he swings round. If he detects one of them in motion, that's just Too Bad for the clumsy player concerned. Our Family played it last year in Bosham churchyard on the occasion of our Golden Wedding celebrations as the Quarter Peal rang out above them.

In this article, His Eminence is gradually, deftly, moving up some phrases, some words, some ideas, closer and closer to PF's back. Words like "opportunism". Phrases like "watering down".

It is done with consummately skilful gamesmanship.

I do hope this pontificate lasts long enough to enable us to see if Gerhard Cardinal Mueller is the winner.

I bet he will be.

Indulgences for Unity Week

Enchiridion Indulgentiarum  (sectio 11, page 58) offers a plenary indulgence for participating in Unity Week. You must attend aliquot functionibus (at least two public functions) and the concluding function; and, of course, fulfil the usual conditions.

A partial indulgence may be acquired by saying an approved prayer. The following* is on the back of a rather attractive prayer card issued in 1958 by the Anglo-Papalist Confraternity of Unity, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Chair of Unity Octave.

Antiphon That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee: that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.

V  I say unto thee that thou art Peter.
R  And upon this rock I will build My Church.

Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who saidst unto Thine Apostles: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: regard not our sins, but the faith of Thy Church, and vouchsafe to her that peace and unity which is according to Thy Will. Who livest and reignest God world without end. Amen*.

*Which includes the prayer accompanying the Pax in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, and so is certainly legitime adprobata. In the days of the Vetus Ordo, when this prayer was said silently by the Priest, it was not as commonly known among the laity as it is now.

16 January 2018

Chair of S Peter in January?

I notice that the Calendar of the ICKSP retains the January  Feast of Cathedra Petri. Can anybody throw light on this?

Extraordinary Form ORDO, and Ordinariate directions, for the Unity Week

Unity Week starts on Thursday January 18 and ends on January 25.

                                              EXTRAORDINARY FORM

Before the 1960s, January 18 was the Feast of the Chair of S Peter at Rome (while February  22 celebrated his Chair, that is to say, his episcopate, in Antioch).

In the Good Old Days, the Wantage Sisters ... who now comprise our Ordinariate Sisters in Birmingham, the praying heart of the Ordinariate, as our Ordinary puts it ... used to publish an annual ORDO  "... in strict accordance with the Use of the Western Church". This was widely used both in Anglo-Papalist churches and in Anglo-Catholic churches generally. The latest one I possess is 1969. Before January 18, the following information is printed:

                                               CHURCH UNITY OCTAVE BEGINS

Ad lib, during the Octave: one 2cl Vot M For the Unity of the Church. Cr (on Sunday only), Common Pref (pref Trin on Sunday). P[urple]

This will undoubtedly have been lifted from what was authorised for Roman Catholics in England, Scotland, and Wales on the very eve of the liturgical alterations of the late 1960s. What it means is that it is lawful to say daily one Mass of the Votive for Christian Unity (Ad tollendum Schisma if your Missal, like mine, is pre-1962; but the texts are the same in the 1962 Missal) on the Sunday within the Octave (even if it be Septuagesima); and also on each of the weekdays, because they are all (even the Conversion of S Paul) days occupied by III class feasts and so admit Second Class Votives. No Gloria, of course.

My own suggestion would be to start the Octave with a (permitted) Votive Mass of the Chair of S Peter on January 18 (Mass as on February 22 except that the Alleluia is said) and to conclude with the Mass for S Paul on January 25. It was the idea of linking up the two Apostles which gave rise to the Octave.

Alleluia for the Chair of S Peter: Alleluia, alleluia. Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. Alleluia.

I have thought it worth while providing this information because I do not think it is in the available Extraordinary Form ORDOs in English or French.

                                                       ORDINARIATE MISSAL

The same Mass for Unity, of course, is provided for use in Liturgical English in the Ordinariates. The rubrics make clear that it can be said on any day except Solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, All Souls, Ash Wednesday, Ember Days, Rogation Days, weekdays of Holy Week and of the Easter and Pentecost Octaves. Such votives ARE allowed BUT ONLY FOR "a real necessity or pastoral advantage" on Obligatory Memorials and the weekdays of Advent, Christmastide, Lent, and Eastertide. Pretty permissive, eh?

15 January 2018


In 1948, an English novelist wrote thus about American young women: "She was the standard product. A man could leave such a girl in a delicatessen shop in New York, fly three thousand miles and find her again in the cigar stall at San Francisco ... she would croon the same words to him in moments of endearment and express the same views and preferences in moments of social discourse. She was convenient; but Dennis came of an earlier civilisation with sharper needs. He sought the intangible, the veiled face in the fog, the silhouette at the lighted doorway, the secret graces of a body which hid itself under formal velvet. He did not covet the spoils of this rich continent, the sprawling limbs of the swimming-pool, the wide-open eyes and mouths under the arc-lamps ...".

I would go further. My fantasy of an exquisite civilisation would include the return of the habit of women wearing hats ... preferably with a veil complicating ones perception of the face behind it ... skirts at least mid-calf ...

My problem is that what Waugh derides as American seems to have become the culture of Europe as well. Wall to wall immodesty is the order of the day. I am glad I am no longer a young man. I think I would find it difficult nowadays to find satisfaction of Waugh's 'sharper needs'. As an old man, happily married and many, many decades beyond the Chase, I do retain regrets at an purely aesthetic level ...

The online edition of one popular English newspaper has an illustrated sidebar directing you to endless stories about indecently dressed female 'celebs' ... it is a newspaper which, in the 1930s, supported Facism; whose proprietor referred to 'Adolf the Great'; and who wrote to Hitler to congratulate him on his every aggression. It waged a relentless campaign against the entry into this country of the fleeing thousands of European Jewry escaping from one of the most hideous atrocities in European History. Perhaps one should look on the bright side of things. The Good News is that it does not praise Adolf the Great. But the Bad News is that it, and its competitors, remain the slavish mouthpieces of the Zeitgeist.

14 January 2018

The Next Conclave and the Papal Oath

Nothing would better express the Traditional, Biblical, Patristic, notion of the Petrine Office, as happily defined at Vatican I, than the following reform in what is done at the inauguration of a pontificate.

The prelate who emerges elected from the next Conclave should instantly sweep away all the unnecessary and obsessive ritual flummeries dreamed up, I think, by Pietro Marini and first used at the Inauguration of Benedict XVI.

They should be replaced by the taking of a solemn Oath of Fidelity done in public. Analogies and formulae existed for this in previous ages, which might be used to supply textual materials.
     For people who like ritual stuff, the Oath could be taken on the oldest Bible in the Vatican Libraries.
     For people who like even more ritual stuff, or are fixated on the use of vernaculars, each paragraph, before the pope recites it in Latin, could be chanted by, say, a Jewish Cantor in Hebrew and a Byzantine Subdeacon in Greek and read by laypeople in any number of vernaculars.
     For strange people who want even more ritual than that, the document could then be solemnly attested by Cardinal Notaries and sealed with lead.
     For those whose affection for ritual amounts to a lunatic obsession, the document could, finally, be solemnly processed through the congregation, held aloft by the Cardinal Protodeacon in the popemobile, while the crowd hysterically shouted VIVAT IUSIURANDUM! Meanwhile, the pontiff would remain kneeling in quiet and humble prayer before the Altar. The popemobile could then be taken away, either for immediate ignominious destruction, or for sale at Sotheby's in New Bond Street, the money (including, of course, the auctioneer's commission) being given to the Poor and the Ordinariates.

Essentially, the new Pontiff should swear, in words drawn from Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, to hand down uncorrupted the Tradition which is from the Lord through His Apostles, the Deposit of Faith. He should swear to resist and to put down all novitates, tam in Fide quam in moribus.

He should acknowledge that, while he will indeed be the Supreme Legislator with full power to change the (human) Law of the Church, he will himself obey the Law and refrain from interfering with legal processes, particularly those relating to the trial, conviction, and punishment of clerical sexual predators who enjoy powerful curial protectors.

And a rather useful practical undertaking might be: "As We uncover evil practices and corrupt deeds and false teachings among Our Cardinals and their clientelae, We shall not allow Ourself to be deterred from dealing with them strictly and according to Justice, by any consideration of who supported or who resisted Our Own election."

To preserve the poor silly Media from their inveterate temptation to assume that a pope has or ought to have a "programme", the Oath should not be followed by a homily.

If the Tourist Industry desired the service to be padded out to a greater length and dignified with rather more 'heritage', this could be done by a reaffirmation and confirmation (with great solemnity) of the anathemas pronounced by the Sixth Ecumenical Council against Pope Honorius I.