18 August 2017

Fr Aidan Nichols, and the Amoris laetitia Crisis

Fr Aidan Nichols, OP, is without doubt the most considerable living theologian of the English-speaking Catholic World. For members of the Ordinariate, he is the great friend who helped and guided us during the years when we were planning, and then setting up, the Ordinariates. And he is as prolific a theological writer as Joseph Ratzinger (on whose theology he wrote a still normative guide, long before the election of Benedict XVI).

Now Fr Aidan has delivered a characteristic lecture on the crisis which has been precipitated by Amoris laetitia. I can't find the full text on my computer (can anybody provide a link?), but the Catholic Herald gives a report. And Fr Zed reproduces the Catholic Herald report. I urge everybody to read it; and to take it very seriously.

I would like to make two comment on my own behalf.

(1) Fr Aidan delivered his lecture at a meeting of the English Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius - largely an Anglican/Orthodox Society. Was this a good idea? Washing our dirty laundry in front of non-Catholics?

It was a thoroughly brilliant idea. You see, there are people who think that Pope Bergoglio's style of papacy may be somehow more "ecumenical" than that of some other popes. Bergoglio goes around kissing Patriarchs and begging their blessings; the man who insults his fellow-Catholics with such easy and reiterated fluency can speak only well of non-Catholics. He is reported to have reopened the "Question of Anglican Orders"; he spoke ambiguously about "intercommunion" with Lutherans; made a fool of himself at Lund.

But, as you will forgive me for reminding you, I have often tried to explain on this blog that thoughtful Orthodox and Anglicans will not be attracted by a model of Papacy which makes any Roman bishop a self-obsessed tyrant propped up by an unhealthy personality cult; somebody whose least word or whimsy has to be accepted; who can, at will, change doctrine, morality, liturgy, and law. This is not a papacy which the more open-minded Anglicans and Orthodox have ever been prepared to consider. There is no reason to think that they will be any more prepared to accept it when it comes with an Argentine accent and emphasis.

Fr Aidan reminded his hearers that Vatican I in fact limited the papacy; and surmised "it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of the papacy [in regard to teaching]"

(2) Very naturally, there have been people, since Amoris laetitia, who have kept their heads below parapets; who have been cowed into acquiescence by fear of the noisy bully-boys, delatores, and sycophants who surround the current Roman bishop. The courage, and unambiguous words, of Fr Aidan Nichols might inspire them to show that parrhesia for which ... at an earlier stage in his pontificate ... pope Francis himself so often called.

Just one more push!!! If we all get our shoulders to the task ... might this be the beginning of the end?

A Problem

Hmmmmph. A Problem. Some time ago I ran into a friend I had not seem for some time. In the course of conversation, he communicated to me the information that the Conclave for the election of the next Pope will take place in October. He was taciturn, but confident, about his sources.

Well, there you go. My own instinct had been that the present occupant of the Roman See would carry on as long as he could, so as to make his own particular agenda even more rigidly safe, and to make yet more of his wise appointments.

So, in an unwise moment, I advanced a reckless wager that my friend was wrong.

Now I've got Cold Feet. Suppose my friend knows something I don't know ...  What will he say when my cheque bounces?

Dear Readers, I desperately need the current pontificate to carry on at least until the early hours of All Saints' Day, Greenwich Mean Time.

I look to everyone to do anything they can to ensure this.

17 August 2017

Apologies

Ten days ago, we whizzed off South for a break, rendering me yet again incommunicado. I have just got back; I have, I think, enabled all the comments I received (and may I say how much I enjoyed them; not a single nastiness). Regretfully, I have to decline to answer some really pertinent queries, because I now have hundreds of emails to dispose of, as well as snailmail, and some unwritten papers which are creeping up on me, with catlike tread ....

It would be great if learned readers were able to look through the now enabled comments of the period 6 August to 17 August, and turn up one or two answers.

I do apologise to readers, who do me the kindness of reading this blog, and have thought me discourteous over these few days. I think I have been.

The Octave of the Assumption ...

... does not, of course, exist, either in the OF calendar or in the (already heavily reformed) books of 1962. Except vestigially; the old Octave Day was made the Feast of our Lady's Immaculate Heart in 1944 by Pope Pius XII. One of the changes made in the post-Conciliar Calendar which I find very attractive is the movement of the Feast of our Lady, Queen, originally placed on May 31 by Pius XII in 1955, to this slot. The reasons for associating this observance with the Assumption cycle are too obvious to need spelling out. The great fourteenth bishop of Exeter John de Grandisson (whom old lags in the reading of this blog will remember I have mentioned several times) arranged to have his enthronement on August 22 and (although it was not the anniversary of his death) to have his obit kept on the day following (is such a practice common?). Naturally; he was a devoted client of our Lady, particularly under the title of Mater Misericordiae, and his devotion seems to have been very much along the lines of that recommended by S Louis Grignion de Montfort.

I suppose an unofficial repetition of the Assumption Mass on the days within the Octave is contrary to current rules both in OF and EF; votive masses of events in the life of our Lord and his Mother are, with the exception of the Immaculate Conception, not allowed. One could, however, say ordinary votives of our Lady. I would like to see restored, as an optional Votive, the old Gaudeamus mass of the Assumption, the one superseded in 1950. It makes an important point about the Assumption: that we ought to see that mystery in terms of our Lady's mediatorial role. The Collect: it is Mary's intercession we need to be saved; the Secret: she has migrated so that we may sense her intercession in heavenly glory; the Postcommunion: it is by her intercession that we pray to be delivered a cunctis malis imminentibus.

16 August 2017

The English Catholic Hymn Book and Emily Clarke's not very Pindarick Ode to Bergoglio

Here is a piece I originally wrote when I was still pp at S Thomas's. I added the last bit in early February after being sent a link to Emily Clarke's unbelievable ditty. I include also some of the original thread.

When I took over the Church of Sancti Thomae Martyris iuxta Ferriviam Oxoniensium, I found a lovely pile of small green hymn books, apparently dating from the 1930s, in a cobwebby cupboard. The English Catholic Hymn Book  is full of absolute gems, recalling the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the Age of Martin Travers. The numbers start at 800, so as to render it practicable to use it together with the English Hymnal. 936 begins 'The happy birds Te Deum sing,/'tis Mary's month of May./Her smile turns winter into spring,/ And darkness into day' (Alfred Gurney, I think). It goes nicely to the tune of 'O little town of Bethlehem'. Then there's 928, 'O Mother! will it always be,/That every passing year,/ Shall make thee seem more beautiful,/ Shall make thee seem more dear'. That, of course - no prizes - just has to be by the greatest of the Romantic poets, Fr Faber. How could the tedious Mr Wordsworth possibly compare with him? I used it at S Thomas's to the tune of  'It came upon the midnight clear'.

We were once visited (anonymously) at S Thomas's by a chap writing reviews of churches (he wrote in his report of us that he would have given my homily 9/10 had I not ended with a ringing account of the Battle of Lepanto which, he thought, reduced it to a 5/10). He was scathing about the singing of 'I'll sing a hymn to Mary' to the tune of the Eton Boating Song ... a marvellous idea which I had picked up from the late, mighty Fr Melrose of S Giles in Reading (whom I think of every time I take up my beautifully printed 1940s Breviarium Romanum to say my Office, or one of my sticks to go for a walk .... all formerly his). But ... great heavens ... this is just the sort of plundering-for-God, robbing the Devil of his best tunes, that Faber, and the Wesleys, performed. It is the New Evangelism at its most joyous.

The only unhappy gap in this diverting little book seemed to be its lack of Cardinal Wiseman's 'Full in the panting heart of Rome', with its rather unEnglish manipulation of the English language. This got me wondering about producing an Anglicanised version celebrating the infallible magisterial Organ of the poor old Church of England: 'Full in the panting Synod halls /Within Church House's peeling walls/From pilgrims' lips that kiss the ground/Breathes in all tongues one only sound/ God bless our Synod, great and good.'

YAROOH!! Since I wrote all that, I have (4 Feb 2017) been directed to a four-minute Youtube clip showing some elderly chanteuse in a very obviously Irish church, singing an extremely sickly song actually invoking our dear Holy Father! As if he were a numen or ad minimum one of the mighty ones in the militia caelestis exercitus! At least Nicolas Wiseman didn't invoke Pio Nono!! Or is the song a coded cry for Santo subito? It includes lots of shots of pictures of the Sovereign Pontiff exposed in the church for veneration and framed for the camera by candles. And the poor chap isn't even dead yet!

The lady seems to have changed her dress after every few words of her ditty, so I presume an original full, unexpurgated fifty-minute video must somwhere exist showing her multiple strip-teases.This blog will preserve her aged modesty by not providing a link.

The full breadth and depth of Bergoglianism and its sugary personality cult continue to disclose themselves!!

15 August 2017

Sol in Virgo [sic]

Medieval calendars quite often inform us that the Sun is in the constellation Virgo on August 15. I wonder if it has ever been suggested that this astronomical fact has anything to do with the selection of that day to celebrate our Lady's Assumption.

Which Collect is preferable on August 15? Certainly not an Anglican one: they all seem rather sad examples of modern Anglican collect writing: a couple of wordy banalities shoved together, and all the time a sense that the writer is looking over his shoulder fearing that he might be deemed too "extreme". The Pius XII composition is preferable ... but I'm not over-enthusiastic about it quite simply because one of the older collects it replaced is, in my view, quite exquisite. I don't see how anybody whose affections are excited by the old collect Veneranda, and by the teaching of S John Damascene, and the explicitness of the Byzantine Liturgy about the glorification of Mary's wholeness, can dislike the Pius XII collect for doctrinal reasons. But minimally conceived 'doctrine' does not exhaust the content of 'Tradition'.

My own hesitations about features the 1950 definition relate not to what it said, to which I of course very cheerfully subscribe ex animo, but (1) to what, by not saying, it appeared to imply could be forgotten - such as the edifying common legends which informed piety and art in East and West for centuries and about which Blessed John Henry Newman spoke so sympathetically; and (2) to the fact of our Lady's mediation of all graces. This was clearer in the older traditions of East and West, but in the West has more recently been overshadowed by preoccupation with the idea, true in itself, that the Assumption is the logical consequence of her preservation from all sin.

Mary, in History, mediated all graces to humankind by giving birth to the Redeemer; her Assumption means that what she was in History she is ontologically and for all eternity. In her, function and ontology are fused into one.

I would feel more cheerful about the 1951 liturgical texts if they could be supplemented by a definition of our Lady as Mediatrix of All Graces. It could be phrased in the elegant Greek with which S Gregory Palamas explained this truth! Pius XII, for all his Marian devotion, was opposed to the concept of our Lady's Universal Mediation. Now is the time for Pope Francis to recalibrate the balance!

14 August 2017

William Penn the Papist?

In 1687, our late Sovereign liege Lord King James VII and II visited Chester. His host, Bishop Thomas Cartwright wrote:

Sunday 28 August He walked thro the City (the Mayor, bareheaded carrying the Sword before him) to the Castle and heard Mass in the Shire Hall. 

He went into the choir of the Cathedral at nine o'clock where he healed 350 persons. After which he went to his devotions in the Shire Hall, and Mr Penn held forth in the Tennis Court, and I preached in the Cathedral.

His Majesty left the following day for the great and royal Catholic shrine at Holywell to pray for the birth of an heir. He was presented with the shift which his great-grandmother Mary Queen of Scots wore when she was beheaded. He was, indeed, granted an heir: our late Sovereign liege Lord King James VIII and III.

I presume 'healed' means that he touched for the King's Evil.


Bishop Cartwright was one of those Anglican bishops who supported the King's principled desire to allow Toleration to all, Papists, Anglicans, Quakers, and the rest. He published the Declaration of Indulgence, was one of the Commissioners for the reform of Magdalen College; and, after the Dutch Invasion, followed the King into exile. He died in Dublin in 1689.

I presume Mr Penn was that same Quaker William Penn who had dealings in North America and who accepted as sincere the King's policy of religious toleration.

The visit to Chester must have been one of those truly 'ecumenical' occasions which happened in England during this reign, before the Great Treachery of 1688 put a stop to them.

It is surprising how little we hear about this particular little corner of History.


13 August 2017

Drip drip drip

It must have been a schoolmaster that wrote the Quicunque vult. A parson couldn't have written it; parsons address their docile congregations Sunday by Sunday and are often complimented and sometimes disagreed with: each of these phenomena conceals the brutal fact that they aren't actually understood. It is the schoolmaster who endures the painful learning experience: the students leave his study or seminar room; he is happy in the sure and certain knowledge that he has just had one of the best, most learned, most interesting teaching sessions of his life ... and he discovers, when he reads the essays or marks the examination scripts, that the group falls into two groups: two thirds of them, who clearly hadn't the faintest idea what he was talking about; and the other third, who did understand, but have forgotten it three weeks later. Or do I mean one week?

The parson feels the need to make sure he never bores the folk, so he never says the same thing twice. If you preach what is essentially the same message ... just dressed up a bit differently or put the other way round ... clearly they will notice your repetitiousness. So you don't do that. And this means that the poor people never get anything straight. Because with humans you just have to lay it out as simply as possible, elementary stage following elementary stage, and then just keep repeating it. Drip drip drip. And a few years later, just a few might start to grasp a bit of it. This is the truth that teachers find out very fast and preachers rarely do.

Cranmer may, as a good Protestant, have disapproved in principle of 'vain repetitions' but he had a dash of the schoolmaster about him. He understood drip drip drip. Not so Bugnini. So Cranmer ordered that the 'Athanasian' [it wasn't actually written by S Athanasius] Creed should be used once a month, but Bugnini, blindly and mechanically following the suggestion of the Council that repetitions should be reduced, expunged it from its last toe-hold in the Liturgy of the RC Church.

Just try reading it. You'll find it on Trinity Sunday in the 1962 Breviary, but before Pius XII started meddling, it was said on every Sunday where the liturgy was not lengthened by a Commemoration. In the Church of England, it was ordered to be said twelve times a year. It is printed after Evensong in the Prayer Book. "Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal. And also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet there are not ..." Yes; even Bloggs Minimus, your most gamma minus student, will be starting to get the point. Drip drip drip.

'It's unsophisticated. People won't put up with being condescended to in this patronising way'. You can perfectly understand why the Modern Parson, and the Modern Liturgist, heave a sigh of relief as they shovel Quicunque vult into their rubbish bins; something that Pusey and Newman, Aquinas and Benedict XIV weren't ashamed to recite prayerfully and humbly as they said their office. It is my impression that most modern clergy are either Unitarians or Modalists, and (what is worse) they are so unwholesomely pleased with themselves about it.

The omission of QV from the Office of the clergy, for nearly two generations now is, in my view, one of the main causes of the de facto total disintegration of Trinitarian belief in Western Christendom. We've lost that Threefold drip drip drip. But there is another such loss: the use of the Preface of the Holy Trinity on most Sundays of the year ... the Green Sundays, Advent, and the Gesimas . Of course, when one uses repeatedly a liturgical formula, one does not think profoundly about the fulness of the sense of each phrase every time one says it. But ... drip drip drip ... it becomes part of you. Drip drip drip.

12 August 2017

The Cult of the Blessed Sacrament (3)

Continued from the previous two posts.
The Blessed Sacrament, as the Body, not of the dead but of the living Christ, became a focus for devotion, not surprisingly, around the same time as personal devotion to Jesus became common; the revolution by which public liturgical prayer in the Latin Church continued, in the classical formulae, to be to the Father through the Son, but was accompanied by a vivid devotion of the individual directly to the Son. This is also the age in which the Elevation of the Host began its rise to the status it possessed at the end of the middle ages as the principal focus of lay devotion. And this was the age when some fashionable cosmopolitan intellectuals apparently started to view with disdain a number of features in the inherited cult of relics. The massively wealthy Avignon nominee to the See of Exeter in the 1320s, John Grandisson, appears to have suppressed there an embarrassingly crude popular hymn which was sung annually at the Exeter Procession of Relics. And in the vast lists of benefactions which he made to his Cathedral and to his collegiate foundation at Ottery and to the beneficiaries of his will, I have found not one single mention of even one single relic. But he possessed and donated monstrances of fabulous wealth and beauty; he ordered that country parsons should bear the Sacrament to the sick with proper dignity and not just carry It any old how. I have no doubt that his instinct was: relics are all very well, but the Sacrament is the living Body of our Maker and Redeemer.

Grandisson was the protege of the (undervalued) pope to whom, under God, we owe the Feast of Corpus Christi and the immense devotional riches, for Latin Christians, of the Cultus of the Blessed Sacrament. We are often told that this all started with the bull Transiturus in 1264. Forget it! That 'legislation' had not, as far as can be discerned, been followed* even in the papal chapel itself. But Transiturus was repromulgated probably* at the council Vienne in 1311 and then incorporated in the collection of decretals called the Clementines which was changed and corrected by Pope John XXII. He, in 1317, sent it to the universal Latin hierarchy, and set an example himself by instituting Corpus Christi processions (which had not in fact been envisaged in Transiturus). His initiative spread like wildfire. Nobody quite knew how to do these new things; in 1320 a Council at Sens naively gave up the attempt to legislate for appropriate ceremonial and left the arrangement of this "apparently divinely inspired innovation" to the devotion of clergy and laity.

It was clearly a devotional initiative whose day had come. We Latins can be modestly proud that it was through us that the Lord showed the richness of this wonderful treasure.

This series is now completed.
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* In those days before printing, there is nothing very remarkable about a papal liturgical initiative directed at the Universal Church being pretty well universally ignored. Nor - although this will surprise and disquiet superconciliarists of all sorts - is there anything strange in the fact that we are far from sure exactly what happened at several ecumenical councils, including Vienne. Ecumenical Councils, as Joseph Ratzinger rather liked to point out, have often done more harm than good. And this is not the first time I have had occasion to point out the crucial significance of printing in the history of Liturgy and - indeed - of Theology.

11 August 2017

Ming the Merciless

Somebody Who Should Know told me that our beloved Holy Father is sometimes known among his Curial fellow-toilers as Ming the Merciless.

The term suggests to me flickering black-and-white adventure movies from the 1930s, long fingernails, improbably droopy moustaches, unimaginable oriental cruelties, opium dens, and all that. Am I on the right lines?

One simply cannot imagine Oriental Cruelties, or even Opium-fuelled Orgies, in Pope Francis' Rome.

Incidentally, apparently the Holy Father, to show that he is not a luxuriating Renaissance Prince, is spending a humble and abstemious August in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Does anyone know whether or not the air-conditioning (vide Laudato si Paragraph whatsit) is on?

Is there any truth in the rumour that the cooler and papally-vacated Castelgandolfo has been made exclusively available to clerical bloggers and their wives?


10 August 2017

The Cult of the Blessed Sacrament (2)

Continues:
Bishop, however, exaggerates when he talks about the cult of the Blessed Sacrament as absent through the whole middle ages. The thirteenth century shows a dawning awareness of something more profound. A 1260 ordinarium from Zurich finds it necessary to explain that it is "contrary to reason ... altogether absurd" that "the Eucharist, which is the true living Body of Christ, should represent his dead Body". In the same century a conventual ordinal preserved in Dublin ordered the Sacrament to be "honourably reserved for the use of the sick", but less than a century later another hand feels it necessary to add to the manuscript "and for the devotion of the choir".

[There is a red herring to be disposed of here. Dix, engaged in tweaking the tails of Anglican bishops who attempted to issue 'regulations' banning Corpus Chisti processions, loved to point out that the first records of Processions of the Blessed Sacrament were in Palm Sunday processions at Canterbury. Fair enough; the Anglican bishops of Dix's day included a fair number of bigots, who deserved what they got from his versatile and merciless pen. But Dix is perpetrating, in my view, a genre confusion. On Palm Sunday, Christians in many parts of the Latin West desired to actualise ritually the Lord's Entry into the Holy City. They used, sometimes, a wooden statue of the Lord on a donkey; or the Book of the Gospels; or ... sometimes, the Sacrament. The genre is Drama and so the question is: We are doing a dramatic representation of a historical event, the Lord's Entry into Jerusalem: therefore how shall we represent the Figure of Jesus? But the genre of the Corpus Christi Procession is not Drama but Adoration: and so the question here is; We possess the true body of the living Christ: therefore how should we worship Him?]

Once you stop thinking of the Sacrament Reserved as the real but dead Body of Christ which the Faithful need to receive when sick or dying, and begin to see it as the living Body of the living Christ, you will see it not as a supremely potent but dead relic but as the locus for a direct, lived, relationship between believer and Lord. We see this transition in the development of some of the very rare, early, processions of the Host before the end of the thirteenth century. The host was processed together with the other most potent relics of the Church concerned. But, over the next fifty years, such practices became much less common, and eventually disappeared.

And this revolution led to a change in the vessels used for Reservation. No longer were they made of ivory, but of precious metals. No longer were they designed to represent the Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Above all, no longer was the Sacrament to be reserved in the same vessel as the Holy Oils*.

One more piece should conclude what I want to say about this topic.

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*In the first millennium - remarkably, to our minds - the vessel blessed to be a container for the Sacrament was often called the Chrismale!

9 August 2017

Papyri and Fallibility (2)

"S Mark's Gospel must be the earliest to have been written because it is so much simpler; and its rough, primitive unsophistication ... "

"Early Christological models are inevitably simpler, indeed, more sincere, than the later Christologies, with their complex and artificial ... "

"The sophisticated theology and complex narratological techniques of S John's Gospel make clear that it can hardly predate the second decade of the second century ... "

"The worship of the Christian Churches, as it developed from the simple fellowship meals held by the early Christians in memory of Jesus of Nazareth ... "

"The palaeographic indications which appear to suggest that the papyrus [containing the prayer Sub tuum praesidium] dates from as early as the third century, must give way to the realisation that its developed Mariology cannot possibly ... "

So very many of the 'assured results of modern scholarship' have rested ultimately upon comfortable and rarely interrogated Enlightenment prejudices. To the mentality of the last two-and-a-half centuries, it has seemed obvious that 'primitive' simplicity must have been transformed, in a simple linear process, into greater complexity. Rousseau's Noble Savage, dated into mythical human pre-history, must necessarily predate the Bourbon Court! That such a methodological presupposition still survives among 'liberal' Christian academics is, it seems to me, another example of the intellectual naivite of such writers and of their chronic inability to keep up with advances in the secular study of the ancient world. Here is a passage, written in 1998 by Peter Parsons, Regius Professor (now emeritus) of Greek in this University and a very great papyrologist. He is surveying the large number of 'new' ancient Greek texts which the sands of Egypt had yielded in the couple of decades before he wrote. (It is worth adding that further papyrological discoveries in the two decades since, have done nothing to weaken his argument.)

" ... the new texts test the categories and structures of scholarship, the faible convenue which nineteenth century positivists based on the assumption that the texts then surviving were typical and to be explained simply in relation to one another. As usual, aesthetic prejudices and unquestioned categories lie below the scientific surface. Scholars used to regard Aeschylus' Suppliants as the earliest of his plays; it has a simple plot, little action, and long choruses. Now a papyrus has dated it, less than ten years earlier than the Oresteia. False assumption: that artists develop in linear mode, from simple to complex, irrespective of theme. Now that we have Simonides' celebration of the Battle of Plataea, the great patriotic war of classical Greece, we see how he reinvented epic in elegy, the Trojan war in the Persian war, Homer in himself. Standard literary histories had put such generic mutations and complex intertextualities two centuries later. Another false assumption: that classical poets were all genius without artifice (and that their successors [of the 'Hellenistic' period were] all artifice without genius)."

8 August 2017

The Cult of the Blessed Sacrament (1)

"It must be allowed that during the whole middle ages ... the Blessed Sacrament reserved was commonly treated with a kind of indifference which at present would be considered to be of the nature of 'irreverence', I will not say indignity."

Thus wrote that Prince of Liturgists, the lay Roman Catholic Edmund Bishop. Dix, also, observed that, in the first millennium, he could recall no instance recorded of a Christian praying in the conscious awareness of the Sacrament Reserved. I propose to devote one post to explaing why that is; and another to looking at the 'Eucharistic Revolution' of the fourteenth century.

We all know that Reservation for Communion is very ancient. But an examination of the liturgical formulae used to bless the vessels used for this reveals a surprising understanding of them. "God grant that this vessel be sanctified and made by the grace of the Holy Spirit a new sepulchre for the Body of Christ". "God, who for three days and nights didst lie in the sepulchre ..." And when Archbishop Hubert Walter was buried at Canterbury in 1205, they interred with him a chalice engraved with this couplet:
Ara crucis, tumulique calix, lapidisque patena;
Sindonis officium candida byssus habet.
[The Altar has the job of the cross; and the chalice, of the tomb, and the paten, of the stone; and bright linen has the job of the shroud.
]

Note that the thinking here is entirely of the Body of Christ as His dead Body (an idea found in a rather different form in Byzantium; and known to some seventeenth century Anglican divines). And surviving artefacts make it clear that such vessels were constructed in the shape of a tower in order to resemble what the Sepulchre of Christ in Jerusalem was believed to look like. Perhaps the practice in some places of reserving the Sacrament underneath the altar-tomb implied the same idea.

Such an understanding could easily assimilate the Sacrament to the status of a Relic. Thus an Anglo-Saxon Council of 816 even reassures the faithful that, if a church is not fortunate enough to have relics, the Reserved Sacrament will be good enough on its own!
To continue.

7 August 2017

Trump and the Russkies

I think the wisest thing I do is, normally, to steer clear of secular politics, but I am going to fall victim to the temptation to be unwise ... Yes, I know I shall regret it ... have your pens ready ...

... I get more and more mystified by news items wafting across the Herring Pond and centring on allegations that Brother Russky did something underhand to help one Donald Trump to win some recent North American election.

Ever since WW2, various American agencies have been engaging in attempted or actual regime change in countries generously scattered all over the known world. They have not always, in so doing, managed entirely to avoid the termination of inconvenient lives. They seem quite unfazed by suggestions that they often leave 'liberated' countries in a far worse state than they found them. Then there are American-based corporations with fabulous wealth which 'charitably' spend money and bully UN and NGO bodies to attack the structures of the family world-wide, and to disseminate the Culture of Death.

It is really quite stunning to hear so many in the Land of the Free, especially those tied to the apron-strings of that gruesome international abortionist Hillary Clintonova, suddenly discovering that they have such principled objections to anybody else on this planet influencing the political processes or moral systems of other countries.

I can think of worse things than a world in which the leaders respectively of Russkiland and of Yankiedoodleland had a cosy relationship. If Donald Fyodorovich Trump really is hand-in-hand with Vladimir Vladimirovich, that's fine by me. If they can get together to dismantle some of their murderously vile weapons and use their combined influence to make the world a chummier place, so much the better. If they could collaborate in building, by the thousand, in continent after continent, superb churches for the Eucharistic Liturgy, the blessed Epiphany of God upon Earth, and in supporting the structures of the Traditional Family throughout humankind, best of all.

That's what I would say if I were on the Grand Jury.

6 August 2017

The Battle of Belgrade and S Xystus

August 6; the Transfiguration; an oriental feast brought into the Roman Calendar by Calixtus III in 1457 to commemorate the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Belgrade in 1457 (rather as the Feast of the Holy Rosary commemorates the Battle of Lepanto ... whatever would we do without all those defeats of the Turks?). Late Medieval England developed a great devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, especially with the encouragement of the Lady Margaret, mother of Henry VII. So here in England, the following day became the Feast of the Holy Name. A good idea, in my view. Just as Corpus Christi needed to be extracted from Maundy Thursday and given the opportunity to be celebrated at a time not preoccupied with the progress of Triduum (call it duplication if you like), so the Holy Name can do with being extracted from the Christmas/Circumcision/Naming sequence and given space to stand alone. What a shame the Ordinariate Calendar missed this opportunity. Actually, if you follow the Novus books, you could say a votive Mass and Office of the Holy Name on August 7.

What went under, what got lost in all this, was poor old Xystus. One of the martyr-popes in the Canon Romanus; the Pontiff whose own martyrdom preceded that of his own Archdeacon, S Lawrence, a few days later. The story is a poignant one: the arrest of the pontiff while preaching from his cathedra; his leading away to 'sacrifice to the gods'; his refusal. He was then brought back to be martyred at his own altar, together with two of his deacons; as he was being prepared for death, Archdeacon Lawrence said "Why do you abandon me, Father, you who never offer the Holy Sacrifice without your deacon?" "You will follow me in three days", said S Xystus. S Lawrence is one of three great patrons of the Roman Church; Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima being dedicated, as their liturgical propers demonstrate, to SS Lawrence, Paul, and Peter. Celebrating S Xystus on the 6th and S Lawrence on the 10th is both elegant and moving.

But, in the Novus Ordo, you can't. The novel fad for confining one day to one theme, unknown to the classical Roman and Byzantine rites, led the reformers to move S Xystus back off the Transfiguration (on the 6th) to the 5th and then to change their minds and move him to the 7th. I can only say that I consider this a great shame. What on earth is wrong with the old custom of keeping the Transfiguration on the 6th with a commemoration of S Xystus? He's much more likely to be noticed there than as an optional memorial competing for attention ... and on the wrong day.


5 August 2017

Jesuit Apostasy??

Somebody sent me a link to a picture apparently showing the "General" of the "Society of Jesus" in a Buddhist posture praying, it appeared, among Buddhists towards a Buddha. Of course, photographs do not always tell the whole story, and there may be circumstances of which I am not aware. And it will undoubtedly be true that if the "principles" of Amoris laetitia really do cover Adultery, as so many of our Holy Father's admirers claim, then they will clearly also cover Idolatry (together with Genocide, Paedophilia, Embezzlement, Torture, and all the other Family Entertainments for a Cold Winter Evening so conveniently listed in Gaudium et Spes 27 and carefully repeated at Veritatis splendor 80).

Apostasy? Clerical Apostasy? Public Clerical Idolatry?

I am reminded of the description in Dix (Shape pp 24-26) of the apostasy of the clergy of Cirta (Constantine, in Algeria) in 303. Here is a snippet of the great Anglican Benedictine in characteristic  (purple passage) full flood:

" ... What could they have said? To have surrendered the scriptures and the sacred vessels was 'apostasy', still for clerics (though not for laymen) the irremissible sin for which there was no possible penance. And they knew it; Felix [the City Warden] knew it; even the grinning public slaves knew it. They had saved their lives - but they had all irremediably forfeited their orders in that quarter of an hour. I know no more moving picture of the inner meaning of the persecutions than that shamefaced helpless group of apostate African clergy with the uncouth Berber names - the men who were not martyrs - as the public slave saw them across the shoulders of their enemies and jotted down their actions on that hot May afternoon sixteen centuries ago."

I believe the most recent very senior cleric to be caught apparently committing Idolatry 'to camera' was Maradiaga. It is claimed, I do not know upon what evidence, that there is another cardinal who once offered flowers to the deities in a Hindu temple. Pretty certainly misreported nonsense, but the sort of misreported nonsense that can be unsettling for us simple and unsophisticated souls.


I wonder whether we are bound to regard those against whom there is very plausible and undenied  prima facie evidence of Idolatry as still morally entitled to the exercise of their Orders (of course, the character of the Sacrament of Holy Order will certainly not have been expunged from their souls ... the Church's Rigid Dogma makes that clear).

Will the student clergy in the Roman Colleges be obliged to concelebrate with highly-placed apostates? Would it be a helpful service if the Annuario Pontificio published the names of those hierarchs who had committed Idolatry, making clear, perhaps, which of them had been subsequently absolved for the Sin, and which (on the grounds that "their consciences were comfortable with it") had not?

As our dear old British journal of public record, Private Eye, likes to say, I think we should be told.

4 August 2017

Mueller

His Eminence Gerhard Cardinal Mueller may not have been well treated by the current occupant of the Roman See ... but he was badly treated by the more eccentric wing of Traddidom long before that.

Among the things I most admire about Mueller is his steadfast defence of the highly important  principle, established by Benedict XVI and detested by the apostate sections of Germanic Christianity, that Episcopal Conferences have no theological status. The Universal Church, within which the Roman See is the centre of Catholic Communion, does have status; and so does the the Local, Particular Church, with its Bishop, Presbyterium, Diaconate and Laos. But 'Conferences'  ... no way. Lose sight of this, and you will find yourself wandering down the muddy track called Provincial Autonomy, which smashed up the unity and traditions of the once great Anglican Communion. The Universal Church does indeed have priority over the Particular Church, as Ratzinger demonstrated in his punctiliously courteous but devastating demolitions of the sneering and nasty Kasper. The scholarly clarity of the former was more than a match for the slippery and phony logic of the latter.

But the dafter traddies never really noticed any of this. It was Mueller's stand on Amoris laetitia which most irritated them. They totally failed to observe the dilemma upon the stiletto-sharp horns of which he skewered Amoris laetitia. His Eminence offered AL two alternatives: (1) it has changed nothing; Familiaris consortio and Caritatis sacramentum still rule, OK; or (2) it has changed the immemorial praxis and doctrine of the Church.

The former of these is the only viable option. It is widely suspected both by the pope's admirers and his critics that Pope Francis had hoped to create a massive and confused muddy area of ambiguities in which the solutions he wanted would bubble up to the service and gradually, over time, establish themselves as facts upon the ground. If that is accurate, Mueller called his bluff. Perhaps that is why he had to go.

Gerhard Mueller will now have the leisure to work on his major edition of Joseph Ratzinger's works; and, I hope, to do a lot of his own work. He is, for a cardinal, young, and has much to offer the Church ... for which reason I am particularly glad that he did not accept some face-saving but time-wasting 'role'. If this pontificate lasts long enough, Bergoglio may come to regret that he did not (as the English mingently express it) keep Mueller inside the tent.

Mueller has put up with major humiliations, such as the tediously insistent implication in Pope Francis' words that Kasper, and then Schoenborn, are this age's brilliant theologians. There are also compelling reasons for thinking that the more minor and private humiliations which Mueller endured, Friday after Friday, may not have been few in number. This kindly and intelligent man has served the People of God through all of that with grace, simplicity, and loyalty.

I particularly hope that he will have time to return to the question of Liberation Theology. Despite a fair bit of froth about the Poor and the Peripheries, Pope Francis has no interest in this. But the major problems of unequal distribution and of the multinational corporations are still with us. So are the consequent violent polarities (as we see today in Venezuela) and the concomitant theological questions. Mueller is the man to take a fresh look at them.

3 August 2017

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum


There appears to be a consensus that there is no evidence for the Our Father being in the Mass anywhere in Christendom before about 350. Before that, it was a non-liturgical prayer used, perhaps several times a day, either privately or among groups of the Faithful. And the evidence is that during this period, when Christians shared the Our Father, they concluded it with a kiss of peace. The earliest evidence I know for this is in Tertullian (c160-225; see de Oratione PL 1 1176-9). A custom had grown up of people omitting the Peace after the Our Father when they had been fasting. Tertullian disapproves of it because it includes an inclination to boast publicly about fasting, contrary to Matth 6:16. He calls the kiss the signaculum orationis; the sealing (as a document might be sealed) or finishing-off of the prayer. Rhetorically, he asks: 'What prayer is complete when the holy kiss has been torn from it? Whom does the Peace impede as he is doing his duty towards the Lord? What sort of sacrifice is it, from which people go away without the Peace?' And a couple of paragraphs earlier, speaking about the ending of the prayer, he uses the phrase assignata oratione; 'when the prayer has been sealed'. Similarly, Origen (c185-254) , commenting on the Kiss of Peace referred to by S Paul in Romans 16 and elsewhere, describes it as happening 'after the prayers' (PG 14 1282). Since S Paul never specifies where the kiss is to be given, Origen's 'after the prayers' presumably reflects the usage of his own time.

It seems highly likely that what happened is this. When the Our Father was introduced into the Mass, it brought with it its concluding signaculum, the Kiss of Peace. Thus the Pax in the Liturgy is not, in itself, a reconciliatory preparation for Communion, but a 'signing off' from the Our Father and the Eucharistic Prayer. We find this situation reflected in the Letter of Pope S Innocent I to the Bishop of Gubbio in 416 (PL 56 515). Troublemakers in Gubbio had been saying that it was better to follow the custom of another Church as to the position of the Peace rather than that of Rome; the Pope responds ' the Pax has to be done after all the things which I'm not allowed to mention to show that the people have given their consent to everything which is done in the mysteries and celebrated in Church, and to demonstrate that they are finished by the signaculum of the concluding Pax'. The fact that he employs the very term signaculum which had been used by Tertullian suggests that we are dealing with conventional usage widespread enough to be common to Rome and North Africa and over a period of at least two centuries.

Thus the Roman position of the Peace appears to have a meaning and logic which go even beyond the introduction of the Our Father into the Mass, back to those early days when Christians met in little groups to say the Lord's Prayer together. That logic was the communal and corporate assent of God's People to the Lord's own Prayer. Of course, this does not exclude the notion of the Peace as a gesture of reconciliation among those who, as one Body, are just about to receive in the Eucharist the one Body and the one Cup of the Blood of the Redeemer. That theme is itself suggested by the last few clauses of the prayer, concerning mutual forgiveness.

But I wonder if there is a slightly different alternative narrative which might be valid here. Might the passage I have quoted from Tertullian relate not to the extraliturgical use of the Lord's Prayer among Christians, but to its use within the Mass? He does seem to be talking about something more corporate than merely a semiprivate prayergroup. And note the phrase 'What sort of sacrifice ...?' And there is a paragraph nearby where he criticises the habit of sitting down after the Peace; if the Peace simply concludes a little prayer meeting, why should the participants not be allowed to sit down once it was over?

Another And ... Having criticised his fellow Christians for witholding the Kiss so as publicly to flaunt the fact that they had been fasting, he goes on ' ... on the day of the Pasch, on which there is a rule of fasting which is common to all and as it were public, we rightly drop the kiss, because we don't care about hiding the thing [i.e. fasting] which we are doing with everybody else'. Those familiar with the traditional Roman Rite will recall that, to this day, we do not exchange the Sign of Peace at the Good Friday Mass of the Presanctified, nor at the Mass of the Easter Vigil (even though the celebrant has said the words). This is because we are all deemed to have been fasting.

Questions arise: if the Our Father was within the Mass as early as the time of Tertullian, what does this do to our understanding of the early history of the Liturgy? How are we to fit in the apparently second century evidence for the Peace coming at an earlier point in the Mass? Why should those fasting consider it appropriate to withold the Kiss? What is the relevance of all this to the Eucharistic Fast, first witnessed in North Africa at the end of the fourth century? And does the evidence we have considered derive support from Dom Gregory Dix's compelling theory about the Mass of the Presanctified (i.e., that the third century practice of Christians communicating themselves privately on weekdays from the Host which they had reserved at the Sunday Mass, and blessing by the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and then drinking a cup of wine as an 'antitype' of the Blood of Christ, is found as the Communion Rite of the traditional Roman Good Friday liturgy, simply transferred from the private to the communal context)?

I never cease to be surprised at what I find whenever I delve back into the history of the venerable and wonderful Roman Rite.

2 August 2017

Summorum Pontificum?

It was because of rumours that the current papal regime might reverse Summorum pontificum that I wrote my recent series on Concelebration in the Roman Colleges. I suppose I must learn that people don't read all one writes and commonly fail to grasp what one is really getting at.

I will put my opinions as simply as I can.

I do not think it is the Holy Father's style to do things in an unnecessarily and publicly confrontational way.

There are certainly gruesome individuals around like Andrea Grillo who do hope for SP to be eviscerated. This, they hope, would be achieved by eliminating the Subsidiarity according to which all presbyters can celebrate the EF without needing permissions.

But I do not think that the HF would just reverse SP, certainly not during the lifetime of his predecessor.

I think the current pope prefers to achieve his ends by more subtle and round-about means.

I suspect the draft Working Paper which I discussed at such length, of being an attempt by Pope Bergoglio or, more likely, his intimates such as the Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, to destroy the priestly culture that SP fed into. That's much more his style.

Anyway, Benedict XVI, not the stupidest of men, got in first by making clear that it would be ultra vires for any pope to attempt to extinguish the classical Roman Rite.

Remember also that it is historically the position of the SSPX that they did not ask for permission to celebrate the older Rite themselves in a private ghetto, but insisted, absolutely rightly, on this fundamental liberty, never lawfully abrogated, being confirmed to every presbyter of the Latin Churches. Pace Bishop Williamson's mistrust of his former colleagues, I do not think the Society would renege upon such a highly important principle.  

1 August 2017

Are you loafing at Lammas or dancing at Lughnasa?

Ronald Hutton may not be doing either. Ronald Hutton is the scholar who wrote a splendid debunking book in 1996 called The Stations of the Sun. What he exploded was the old nonsense dreamed up by anti-Christian students of 'Comparative Religion' in the first half of the twentieth century, led by Sir James Frazer. Those people enjoyed 'showing' that most Christian festivals were ancient pagan festivals very thinly disguised, and that Christianity so failed to leave its mark deep in the psyche of the common folk of the British Isles that many pagan rites survived the official triumph of the Pale Galilaean. An example:

At Padstow in Cornwall, two hobby-horses dance their way through the town each May Day. In the 1930s some daft people called the Folk-Lore Society persuaded themselves that this was a relic of a pagan sacred marriage between Earth and Sky. (Hutton gives a witty and hilarious account of the antics there of one of these nutters, called Violet Alford, who was very angry that the locals failed to realise the massive cultural significance of male transvestites.) The town council cheerfully assured prospective tourists that it was a Celtic custom 4,000 years old ... well, they would, wouldn't they? But modern scholarship, Hutton demonstrates, shows that there is no evidence for the custom going back beyond the late eighteenth century and very good reasons for being confident that it did not.

At the beginning of August, in many parts of Ireland, the country people climbed mountains and indulged in bonfires and jollity in honour of the God Lugh ... or did they? Hutton ... spoil sport ... gives good reasons for doubting whether these customs really have anything at all to do with the 'Celtic' god Lugh. They celebrated the opening of the cereal or potato harvest. And, as such, they were broadly parallel with the Anglo-Saxon celebration of 'hlaef-mass', loafmass, Lammas. It was the custom to reap the first of the ripe cereals and bake them into bread which was blessed in church upon that day; quaint things were sometimes then done to it to make the barns into safe repositories for the grain about to arrive in them.

Hutton leaves it an open question whether there is any link beteween the Lammas ceremonies and those of Lughnasa. But he does see both as "a reminder of the excitement which once attended the ripening of the corn across the ancient British Isles" (what my Irish readers call "the Atlantic Archipelago").

The popular play 'Dancing at Lughnasa' constituted a particularly nasty, more modern, example of the manipulation of any silly old heathen superstitions that can be dragged along to rubbish or ridicule the Catholic Faith ... a potent cultural icon, in effect, of post-Catholic Ireland and its sad vacuity.


31 July 2017

Old Testament Saints

Tomorrow, in old calendars, the Holy Maccabees were celebrated - indeed, they still get a commemoration in the Old Mass. These were the seven superb Jewish brothers whose martyrdom, described in II Maccabees 7, reads so much like a rehearsal for the Acta of so many Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire, especially under the divine Diocletian.

There is manifestly no theological reason why we should not give calendar space to the saints of the Old Covenant. After all, we claim that our New Covenant community, the Church, is directly in continuity with that Jewish Faithful Remnant which did accept their Messiah and the Visitation of their God; and so we are rooted in the patriarchs and prophets ... to be frank, they are more our possession than that of the Synagogue. I presume that the reason why, in practice, we do not have festivals of S Moses and S Jeremias, has a lot to do with the fact that the Christian Sanctorale finds its origins in the cult of relics: martyrs were celebrated where their bodies rested. As Fr Zed often laudably points out, the Martyrology does commemorate more Old Testament Saints; and so do particular calendars such as those of the Carmelites and of the Diocese of Jerusalem.

The Carmelites keep S Elias (Elijah, for Protestant readers) on July 20. For them, the impetus was their enjoyment of the sacred sites in Palestine. What ensured the commemoration of the Maccabees at Rome was the veneration of their relics in the same titulus Sanctae Eudoxiae in which S Peter's Chains are kept.

We live in a nasty age in which one favourite game of nasty people is to imply 'Antisemitism' on the part of those whom they dislike. One of these periodic unpleasantnesses occurred when the English bishops, obedient to the instructions of Cardinal Marx, agitated against the prayer which Benedict XVI had composed only a few years previously for the Old Rite to use on Good Friday. Since the Liturgy of the Hours, a quite widely used form of prayer, itself has a prex for the Conversion of the Jews at Vespers on Easter Sunday (and on other Sundays in Paschaltide), one does rather wonder whether these prelates, and the shadowy anonymous bureaucrats who put them up to such things, take much notice of what they say in their own Divine Office.

And it was the Novus Ordo which evicted the Maccabees from its Calendar, in pursuit of a Rigid and unbending rubrical rule, so that no mere dead Jews should get in the way of a single-minded observance of S Alfonso on August 1*.

One might wonder who the real, practical, antisemites are. For me, I shall pray, especially tomorrow, for God's mercies to rest on the millions of Jews who were slaughtered during the Third Reich.

And may God glorify yet more our magnificent brethren the Maccabees, reigning in heavenly glory beside their Messiah.

*They do not even survive in the Proprium pro clero almae Urbis.

30 July 2017

Papyri and Fallibility (1)

Off for a walk through the papyrus groves on the Nile Delta. (You will find it in a spot marked on the tourist maps of Oxford as The Botanical Garden. The Nile is a tributary of the Cherwell, joining it just opposite St Hilda's College. Not many people know that.) I enjoy the walk. It reminds me of everything that papyrus has meant for human culture ... right down to what we used to call the 'New Sappho' (i.e. the latest papyrus fragment of a mainly lost Lesbian poetess to come out of the Egyptian sands) ... "used to call" because Dirk Obbink has since published an even newer Sappho. The old New Sappho was probably about what she wants the Girls to do at her funeral, but we may never know, because the left hand side of the page is missing. It so often is. Papyri are fun for classicists, because they are new evidence and they explode hypotheses, reminding us that a hypothesis is only a hypothesis and a scholar is only a scholar.

A couple of examples: dear old Sappho; was she a schoolmistress or just a randy old dike? (You can't, of course, be both.) Von Wilamowitz Moellendorf backed his hunch that she was a respectable schoolmistress and indignantly, chivalrously, defended her reputation against sacrilegious attack. Then D L Page did a wonderful demolition job on the Graf; pointing out that there is no evidence whatsoever for the anachronistic idea that Sappho ran a school and that the obvious assumption is that was a .... um ... Lesbian. Then a decade or three ago, a fragment of a Hellenistic biography was published which asserted that she was ... a schoolmistress. Hellenistic, biographies do not, of course, have to be correct. But at least the Wilamowitz theory could hardly any longer be dismissed as unthinkably anachronistic. Facial egg for Page; rehabilitation for the Graf von W-M.

And there is the question of the rather masochistic topos whereby Roman Elegists addressed their puella as Domina and assumed a role of servitium towards her. Who began that game? R O A M Lyne, of Balliol College in this University, proved conclusively and beyond all doubt that it was Propertius. But while Lyne's book was actually being printed, the Egyptians, ingeniously subversive fellows, built an enormous dam at Aswan. And some rescue archaeology had to be done at a Roman fortlet on the site. And a papyrus fragment - only six lines - came to light, showing that the elegist Gallus, who wrote just before Propertius and whose work had been lost more or less since (on the wise advice of Augustus) he committed suicide, addressed his Lycoris as Domina. Oops-a-daisy for Dr Lyne! Bliss! There is a Providence that shapes the ends of academic certainties!

Papyri might throw light on the New Testament. A few years ago, some fragments from Qumran rendered it distinctly probable that S Mark's Gospel and S Paul's 'Pastoral Epistles' were written before 70 A.D. That, of course, explodes the entire fashionable sceptical structure of liberal Protestant Anglo-Saxon 'New Testament Studies' created in the twentieth century. But NT 'scholars' are not like us Classicists; they can't bear having their cherished beliefs, which they have gullibly accepted all their lives, and made the basis of all their laborious hypothesising, subverted. So they just refused to believe it!

How dreadful it must be to be so mired and imprisoned in the dead dogmas of the Dark Ages!

Thanks be to God for his mercy and grace in making me a Classicist and a Catholic, encouraged to follow evidence and to think for myself.  

Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo!

29 July 2017

Sub tuum praesidium (2).


Edgar Lobel's early dating of the papyrus, of course, simply gives us the terminus ante quem of this prayer. It could come from much earlier than 250. As far as theotokos is concerned, Tertullian writes Dei ... Mater; and one would expect such talk earlier in the East than the West; and particularly in the Egyptian backyard of S Cyril's own Church. It would be no skin off my nose if it turned up in a very early second century context. While I do not (for cogent reasons I am prepared to explain) see the cultus of our Lady as having anything whatsoever to do with that of the Ptolemaic goddess Isis, I do suspect that the coinage of the verbal compound theotokos is very likely to come from the same inveterate habit of linguistic ingenuity which generated the Isiac aretalogies of Pap Oxy 1380 and the Kyme stele published by Salac in 1927. Perhaps Callimachus of Cyrene coined it .... oops, he died before the Christian era ... but you know what I mean. He would have done it if ... come to think of it, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of what S Cyril owed to Callimachus .... Oh dear, rambling off at a tangent yet again ... I think I'll just mix myself another White Lady ... hand me the shaker ... now, which of the grandchildren has been at the gin ... what was I saying ...

28 July 2017

Sappho of Lesbos and the Mater Misericordiae

One of the most distinguished classical scholars of the twentieth century was Edgar Lobel. He worked among the innumerable scraps of Papyrus brought back to Oxford in 1890s from the rubbish dumps of ancient Egypt ... where such 'paper' is preserved by the dry soil. Here in Oxford we still have great tea-chests of them, which are gradually being worked through; not unnaturally, earlier workers tended to start with the bigger and cleaner fragments, so that we are now down to the smaller and dirtier bits. Much of the material was ephemeral ... shopping lists, tax returns; even these, of course, are of immense interest twenty or more centuries later. But what has excited classicists most is the rediscovery of famous Greek authors whose works had failed to survive the fall of Constantinople.

So, for example, we now have extensive fragments of the great lyric poets of ancient Lesbos, Alcaeus and Sappho. Indeed, during the last five or so years big new additions have been made to the Corpus Sapphicum. Liturgists would be most interested in Sappho because she originated (or enhanced the profile of) the metre called the Sapphic, which is employed in a number of Office Hymns (especially those written in the Carolingian renaissence). The metre concerned is the one you may recognise as having stanzas composed of three metrically identical lines followed by a short one. (In the old Breviary, Iste Confessor was the one most frequently used). And Edgar Lobel was not only a skilled papyrologist, but a master of the rather strange and difficult Lesbian dialect. He was, quite simply, the foundation stone of Lesbian studies and a very great ornament of this University.

However, this post is not really about Lobel's work on Sappho. I just thought I'd like you to have a rounded picture of his greatness. Let us now, Zedwise, 'drill into' a most interesting Papyrus for us: an early Christian fragment with the earliest known prayer to our Lady. It is the brief formula we know as the Sub tuum praesidium, and is common to the Coptic, Byzantine, and Roman liturgies (pretty ecumenical, then, you might say). Edgar Lobel looked at it and gave his view (you go by 'palaeography', handwriting styles) that it was Third Century.

But when it was published, the Editor disregarded this judgement and dated it a hundred years later. Why? Was he an even greater papyrologist and palaeographer than Lobel? Not a bit of it. He just could not believe that such devotion to our Lady could have existed so early in the history of the Christian Church.

I am always preaching at you and the point of my sermon today is that a fair number of non-Catholic 'scholars', especially 'liberals', simply cannot be trusted to keep their own bias out of things. They are terrified that evidence might come to light subverting their liberal and semi-agnostic dogmas. So they are not above falsifying history. When I was an undergraduate in the School of Litterae Humaniores (Classics), I was surprised by the way that Ancient Historians with no theological axe to grind were so very much more respectful of New Testament evidence than were the old gents in dog-collars who lectured upon the New Testament.

Now back to that Marian Papyrus. You will be interested to read ...But no, I have already rambled too long. More tomorrow.

27 July 2017

Cardinal Sarah and the Ordinariate Rite

In his latest lecture, the very admirable and very courageous Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (Oops ... have I perpetrated an anachronism?) adds, to the suggestions he had made earlier, at least two new points for the improvement of the Ordinary Form:

(1) The priest should genuflect immediately after the Consecration of the Host and of the Chalice.

It is, surely, unnecessary to explain why this is so desirable. I point out that it already happens in the Ordinariate Rite. (You will remember that, upon seeing a copy of our Ordinariate Missal, His Eminence wistfully commented "Why can't we have something like this?")

(2) The holding of thumb and index finger conjoined after they have touched the Consecrated Host.

After the regime of Edward Tudor had imposed the First Prayer Book upon the suffering clergy and people of England, the tyrants discovered that the clergy were assimilating the service as closely as possible to the Sarum Mass. So draft Articles of Visitation ordered "For a uniformity, that no minister do counterfeit the popish mass, as to kiss the Lord's table; washing his fingers at every time in the communion; blessing his eyes with the paten, or sudary; or crossing his head with the paten; shifting of the book from one place to another; laying down and licking the chalice of the communion; holding up his fingers, hands, or thumbs, joined towards his temples; breathing upon the the bread or chalice; showing the sacrament openly before the distribution of the communion; ringing of sacrying bells; or setting any light upon the Lord's board ...".

I suspect that the section I have boldened refers to the conjoining of thumb and index finger ... what, in the 1960s, trendy vandals used to call "finger pinching".

We of the Anglican Patrimony have a long experience ... centuries ... of catholicising defective liturgies imposed by soi-disant authorities.

Perhaps we should set up a lucrative Consultancy to show those who want to catholicise their bog-standard Novus Ordo how it's done? No need ... if they attend a Latin Mass Society training week on the Extraordinary Form, they'll find it fairly obvious how to transfer the skills from EF to OF.

26 July 2017

Nazis and Nazis

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the Sunday upon which the Dutch Hierarchy had ordered a Pastoral Letter to be read in all their churches, protesting vigorously and explicitly against the Nazi persecution of Dutch Jewry.

Not surprisingly, this Letter sent the Nazi authorities into paroxysms of rage.

It contained a sentiment which equally infuriates the currently dominant faction in the Catholic Church, and in particular, so we are told, the German and English hierarchies.

It hoped for the Conversion of the Jews.

Sancta Anna ora pro nobis

I have always had a soft spot for S Anne, not least because she is the Patron of my wife's college at Oxford (we sent two of our children there) ... and, indeed, contributes one of her own names. Some years ago, I found it touching to seek out some of the remnants in Brittany of their devotion to their Patron ... Anna Potentissima, for example, and all that, written in large letters around the walls of the Church at Pontrieux. I pointed it out to Junior Granddaughter, whose name is Anna.

Dom Gueranger, in his marvellous collection of materials, gives us a Responsory in her honour (Anna sanctissima Britonum spes et tutela: quam in prosperis adiutricem, in adversis auxiliatricem habemus ...). reminding us of how the people of that land once suffered because they were hesitant to accept the Evil which is embodied in the godless prayer Vive la Republique. 

Gueranger reminds us that S Anne was also the  splendor Provinciae. But I will leave you with this Breton hymn ... and a question.

Lucis beatae gaudiis
Gestit parens Ecclesia,
Annamque Iudaeae decus
Matrem Mariae concinit.

Regum piorum sanguini
Iungens Sacerdos avos,
Illustris Anna splendidis
Vincit genus virtutibus.

Coelo favente nexuit
Vincli iugalis foedera,
Alvoque sancta condidt
Sidus perenne virginum.

O mira coeli gratia!
Annae parentis in sinu
Concepta virgo conterit
Saevi draconis verticem.

Tanto salutis pignore
Iam sperat humanum genus:
Orbi redempto praevia
Pacem columba nuntiat.

Sit laus Patri, sit Filio,
Tibique Sancte Spiritus.
Annam pie colentibus
Confer perennem gratiam. Amen.

My question relates to the fourth stanza: "O wondrous grace of Heaven! in the womb of her Mother Anne, the Virgin, having been conceived, treads down the head of the savage serpent".

Does that quite fit in with the defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception: that our Lady was preserved from original sin in the first instant of her being?


25 July 2017

Compostella

Ah, S James the Great, Compostella ... how often have I sat, perhaps for half an hour or more, just gazing at wonder at the great Portico de la Gloria in Compostella Cathedral. Not, of course, that I've ever been to Spain. Indeed, I don't think I've ever knowingly entered His Most Catholic Majesty's domains at all ... unless the old embassy church of S James, Spanish Place, counts, with its Spanish royal banner just waiting for the parish priest to haul it up the flagpost if he gets a sudden email warning him that the King's Majesty is on his way to pay a visit.

If you can't afford, given the present ruinous state of the exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro, to go to Spain, you can contemplate the Portico de la Gloria ... and Hadrian's column ... and the Plantagenet tombs at Fontevrault ... and the main door of Arles Cathedral ... simply by visiting the Casts Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

And, as we all know, for those who can't afford a holiday in Italy, there is always the Oratory Church next to the V and A. And, for those who can't afford a visit to France, there is the Racine Restaurant.

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

NOTICE

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

Breviaries

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):
92
99
62+66 with one concluding Gloria Patri.
Benedicite
148+149+150 with one concluding Gloria Patri.