8 June 2011

After 1991

This continues my series (see June 1 and June 5) about the background of the imminent new English translation of the Mass.

We have seen that the old 1970s translation of the Missal was regarded by all, at each end of the 'political' spectrum, as Unfit for Purpose. This is worth emphasising because there has recently been a tendency among those most radically opposed to Pope Benedict's liturgical aims to try to hang on to that old translation. An organisation, I believe, sprang up in America called "What if we just said wait?" - which I think means "What if we just said wait until Ratzinger is dead?". There have been similar moves, reported in the Irish Times, among the more radically politicised of the Irish clergy. Frankly, there never was much chance of their achieving what such people seek: for the following rather banal reason. All over the world, wherever there is a hierarchy with an interest in Anglophone liturgy, episcopal conferences have, for years - well, No, decades - been making their way through Green Books, Grey Books, Heaven-only-knows-what-sort-of-colour-books, containing successive drafts and revisions of translated texts. In addition to this, there has been the labour - not an inexpensive labour - of harmonising the preferences of the different hierarchies involved. We know a little about this entire process because, in America, the Episcopal Conference meets openly, and verbal transcripts of the debates, and details of the votes, are regularly published. And there is a distinct sense, as one reads through it all, that the number of bishops prepared to vote for the daunting prospect of going through the whole laborious process yet again, has been limited. In America, a Bishop Trautmann led the resistence to next September's translation, fighting a deft 'sound-bite' campaign which focussed on certain allegedly "incomprehensible" words ("consubstantial"; "ineffable"), and making a final desperate attempt to persuade his confreres actually to defy the Vatican. The support he received gradually diminished. He retires, I think, next year. If, that is, the Holy Father accepts his resignation. One rather suspects ... not that anything is certain, of course ...

This blog, moreover, has shown that the essential problem about both the 1970s translation, and the second (abortive) version which was finished in the early 1990s, was that each embodied a policy of rupture: it was designed to cut off the worshipping community of its own day from the memory and continuities of Tradition - that is to say, from the the old Testament and New Testament echoes in the Latin prayers; from the actual meaning of the Latin; from the great paradosis of worship which has been evolving, generation by generation, for nearly two millennia. It is no exaggeration to say that, since about 1970, English-speaking Catholics have been deprived of the authentic worship of the Roman Catholic Church by having 'translations' used in their churches which express only a minuscule amount of the content of the Latin originals. And I am not talking about the elimination of the 'Tridentine' liturgy. It is the post-conciliar Missal - the Latin Missal of Pope Paul VI - that people have been prevented (by bad translations) from being able to appropriate and to internalise in their Christian consciousness. It is worth emphasising this, because some interests, with a slipshod grasp upon history as well as upon rhetoric, have been suggesting that the new translation which we shall begin to use in September represents some sort of retreat from the agenda of Vatican II. In fact, it does exactly the opposite. September's new translation means Onward To Vatican II.

Quite apart from the different questions surrounding the elimination of the Tridentine Rite, it is the post-conciliar Missal, the Missal authorised by Pope Paul VI "by the mandate of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council", that was kept hidden, by faulty translation, from the ears of the faithful for four decades. It is, substantially, the Missal of Paul VI that the new translation will now begin to make accessible to the People of God. Enthusiasts for Vatican II, and its aftermath, and for Paul VI, should be applauding the new translation. It provides what they claim they want.

Remember: the Council never said that the Mass had to be in English; it simply authorised some degree of vernacular use. This guarded permission was subsequently extended, not by the Council but by a series of unilateral decrees emanating from the Curia. And the Council certainly did not decree that vernacular translations should be such as to obscure a large amount of the meaning of the authorised Latin texts. The Instruction which bears responsibility for the currently expiring translation, Comme le prevoit, had nothing to do with the Council. Again, its origin was in the Curia. People who claim to have a suspicion of the Curia and of its 'dominant role in the Church's life', should, if they have any consistency or logic, be prejudiced against the 1970s translation of the Mass.

The new translation, which our bishops, laudably, are bringing in earlier than most other hierarchies, means: back to Paul VI; back to the Missal which derived from the Conciliar impetus. Those fighting a rear-guard action against it should sort out their own confusions.

Next time, I shall write about the Roman Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, which is the methodological basis of the translation due to come on stream in September.

4 June 2011

Symmetry of Dissent

Intellectually, academically, the most exciting thing about Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae is that they establish a level playing field in discussion about the relative merits of any conflicting provisions in the OF and the EF. Perhaps this is one of the things the Holy Father had in mind when he spoke about mutual enrichment. Previously, as enactment after enactment emerged from the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de sacra Liturgia and its successor bodies, it was plausible to hold that these represented the Magisterium of the Church. Here was the Holy See making liturgical enactments by mandate of an Ecumenical Council: what more could anyone want in terms of authoritative teaching about the meaning of the Church's rites? If one dissented, was one not dissenting from the direction in which the Holy Spirit was leading the whole (Roman Rite) Church? Surely, one was dissenting from the mind of the Holy Father, from the Bishop of Rome who, surely had to be the normative authority about the rite of his own Church? Dissent from the old rite had now - surely - become privileged; dissent from the new rite had become inherently dubious, a sign of disloyalty.

At a stroke, SP/UE changed all this. We now had two forms of the Roman Rite "one alongside the other" (qui ad invicem iuxta ponuntur). Thereby we were authoritatively given, in areas where the two rites and their accompanying liturgical cultures happen to be at odds, what I would like to call Symmetry of Dissent. It is now no more 'disloyal' or 'contrary to the mind of the Church' to evaluate critically the OF and its culture than it is to criticise the EF and its culture. Such critical evaluation, it goes without saying, ought to be done - in each case - with a humble recognition of one's own fallibility, and with a charitable instinct not to hurt fellow Christians whose faith in the living Lord is fed from different sources than those which nourish one's own. It is right that those who enthusiastically favour the EF, and who feel a certain triumphalist joy about Pope Benedict's liturgical legislation, should if necessary be reminded of this. However, I do not always sense - least of all in the periodical called the Tablet - an awareness that those, too, whose orientation differs from the OF, have a right to be treated with a similarly charitable exercise of the acceptance of diversity.

It was in the spirit of the Principle of Symmetry of Dissent that I ventured recently to evaluate critically the post-conciliar valde optatum that communion be given from Hosts consecrated at the same Mass. I called it 'dated', because it seemed to me to have all the marks of the (to me, as to Pope Benedict, questionable) liturgical culture of the enclosed circle - the celebrant facing the people; the location of the entire liturgical event as situated in the middle of a closed group. This culture is 'dated'; it is of the 1970s. And there are things about the Mass of S Pius V which I would have to admit are dated: for example, the assumption in its rubrics that Mass normatively does not include a Communion of the People - yes! look at the rubrics! It is not even mentioned in passing as an occasional possibility! Yet I have never witnessed a modern Old Rite Mass in which there were not communicants ... usually an awful lot of them. That lacuna in the rubrics ... and the cultural assumptions it implies ... is dated; and I doubt if anyone would deny it. Have another look at that half-hour video of the Econe Consecrations!

3 June 2011

friday week 2; Eviscerated; can the Ordinariate put new Guts into the Western Church?

Liturgia Horarum, Friday in Week II: Ad Horam mediam. Psalm 58(vg) = 59(MT) is traditionally regarded as referring to David, when Saul had his house watched so that he could kill him.

This psalm is printed with (Neovulgate) verses 6-9 and 12-16 (= RSV 5-8 and 11-15) removed.

That deceived and mis-guided pontiff Paul VI, or whoever wrote the words he signed, explains why: "A few harsher verses are missed out, taking account especially of the difficulties which would be going to arise when the Office was done in the vernacular". The relevant coetus itself is rather shame-faced (and not a little naive) about this. "This omission is done because of a certain psychological difficulty, even though imprecatory psalms themselves occur in the piety of the New Testament, e.g. Revelation 6:10, and do not intend in any way to induce people to cursing." And "In general both the Fathers and the Liturgy fittingly hear, in the psalms, Christ crying to the Father, or the Father speaking with the Son, and even recognise the voice of the Church, the Apostles or Martyrs".

So, as the LH tells us, quoting words of Eusebius of Caesarea referring to this psalm, "these words should teach everybody the devotion of the Saviour towards his Father". Exactly. The Lord was surrounded by the temptations of Satan himself; he was beseiged by the Powers of Evil. The Church, and the Christian, also find that their warfare is against the Powerrs of Evil in High Places. It is in this sense that we beg the Father that we may be delivered from those who come back each evening, howling like dogs, the half-wild dogs which infest most Eastern cities and which especially prowl round the town-ditch in search of carrion (I plagiarise John Mason 'Ordinariate Patrimony' Neale). Ss Augustine, Hilary, and Gregory of Nyssa regard the story of David, for whom his enemies lay in wait by night, as a Type of the story of what befel the Son of David, in that Night in which he was betrayed.

The reason why it is so questionabe to expurgate a psalm in the way that LH does is: expurgation still leaves words like "There is no crime or sin in me, O Lord", and leaves them decontextualised . If such things are said simplistically, they can only foster a very dangerous sense of of complacency and self-righteousness. We are only entitled to say such words in persona Christi, or en Christoi, or as speaking with the voice of the Church which in her essential nature is without spot or wrinkle. How can we say them as if they were true of the imperfect lives of each one of us?

I am not one who believes that every psalm needs to be read in the Divine Office. History gives imperfect support for such an integralist approach to the Book of Psalms and their use in Christian worship. I am concerned with dangerous imbalances which can result from the use of psalms over which someone has been allowed to roam with a care-free pair of scissors. (I also rather dislike the implication that the 'problems' of such psalms are only apparent when they are said in the vernacular. There is every reason to feel disquiet about the cheerful assumption that nobody notices what they are saying when they use Latin. Is Latin, or is it not, supposed to be still the clerical vernacular of Western clergy?)

Lastly, I draw your attention to the root of the problem: the loss in the Western Church of the Typological Method which was the heart of scriptural exegesis in both the Patristic and Medieval periods and in both East and West*. Furthermore, I have yet to see very much about this in the ongoing discussion about the authority and inerrancy of Scripture which resulted from the transactions of the 2008 Synod of Bishops. Often discussion seems to be mired in reductionist considerations about "What is the bare minimum we are required to believe about Biblical inerrancy?" rather than about the hermeneutical, exegetical and eisegetical modalities by which we are all to embrace and be fed by the whole of Scripture ... every sentence, every word of it. Of course vast swathes of Scripture provide enormous difficulties ... are in fact not so much unusable as potentially positively poisonous ... IF we do not trace out the richly complex patterns of intertextuality which formed the basis of their apprehension before the dark shadow of the 'Enlightenment' fell upon the study of Scripture; if, in other words, we do not use them in the Tradition. Reducing Scriptural semiotics to the naked Historicism of the 'Enlightenment' is to hand the Bible over to the Devil. I think I very probably mean that literally.

If members of the Anglican Patrimony enter into Full Communion with the works of Lionel Thornton and Austin Farrer under their arms, perhaps there is something they can do to help the ailing Western Church to understand the Patristic way of appropriating Scripture.

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*Byzantine worshippers, lucky people, are largely protected from this problem by the annual Lenten glory of the Akathist Hymn, jam-packed full of the most exhilarating typological tropes. Not that I advocate its use by Westerners so much as the need for them to rediscover these same games in their own tradition. The more we all get to the hearts of our own traditions ... I've said this before ...

26 May 2011

A jolly week liturgically ...

... on Tuesday, our Lady Auxilium Christianorum, commemorating the return of the Holy Father from Napoleonic Captivity. Does anybody know anything about the Brandimarte who, according to the Google links, wrote the delightfully, exuberantly, Baroque Office Hymns for this feast? The Sapphic metre does fit this sort of thing rather well, doesn't it? Does anyone know why the Feast was in the old Calendar for England, but disappeared (except in Wales) when this was replaced by separate propers for the English RC dioceses?

Then Gregory VII, Papa Hildebrande. I remind the Patrimony that Dom Gregory Dix claimed that he had taken the name Gregory in religion, not as an allusion to S Gregory the Great, but as a tribute to Hildebrand "who deposed more bishops than anybody else in history".

Then S Philip Neri, who has done so much for English Catholicism. Can anyone explain to me why it is that when we are venerating his (or other) relics, the priest taps our head with the reliquary if we are male but not if we are female? Is it anything to do with the Paulinum about Headship?

25 May 2011

The Abbe Perdreau and the Mary Month of May

"The thought of Mary and of the Eucharist easily unite; they are connected with each other, so to speak, and are convertible terms. It is Mary who offers us the Divine Infant of Bethlehem; at the foot of the cross she presents us with the dead body of Jesus swathed in its shroud; at the Altar she gives it to us again enveloped in the Eucharistic linens.

"Is this not what the Church of God is thinking when it authorises us to chant before the Blessed Sacrament the beautiful sequence AVE VERUM: I salute thee, O Body, truly born of the Virgin Mary! Thus, at the moment when Jesus emerges from his tabernacle, the memory of Mary is revived in our souls, Mary appears to us like the monstrance in which the Saviour's Body shines. In fact, the Sacred Host is a present from the Blessed Virgin. S Augustine says so in four oft-quoted words: CARO IESU, CARO MARIAE ... The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary. This Body, this Blood of Christ which upon the Altar becomes our food and drink, derive their origin from Mary. It is the substance of Mary which has become the substance of Jesus. Mary is one of the principal constituents of the Blessed Sacrament; she contributes thereto as the grain of wheat that is sown produces the ear of corn which itself forms the harvest."

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Who was Perdreau? Was he orthodox?

24 May 2011

Universae Ecclesiae: final notes

para 1 Universae Ecclesiae One might have expected Universali Ecclesiae; the normal term for "the Universal Church". Universae seems to me deliberately to avoid the formulaic expectation so as to emphasise per variationem that it really is the (yes!) entire Church which is to have a richer appropriation of the Roman Rite. (I take this literally. Just as Latins would have their spirituality immeasurably enriched if they knew the Byzantine Rite better, so Byzantines will be enriched the better they know the riches of the ancient Roman Rite.)

paras 1,2,3,4: Notice how, in accordance with this same stylistic trope of variatio, the Pope is referred to differently as Summus Pontifex, Sanctitas Sua, Apostolicus Dominus. This last of these seems to me to have an early first-millennium flavour to it; I have traced the language of it back to a letter from the Emperor Maximus to Pope Siricius (384-399); and there is a whiff here of the Ordines Romani (except that later in the first millennium dominus would have been syncopated to domnus). A tiny verbal harbinger of a more First Millennium Papacy?

para 5 heic How delightful to see this unusual orthographical rendering of hic! OLD says that it is common in inscriptions. Does this mean that the official responsible spends most of his spare time with his nose in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum? Let us hope that he is not too addicted to all those naughty graffiti in Pompei!

para 10(2) emanat seems to have acquired a transitive sense in the corridors of modern Rome.

para 20(c) Slightly odd. It seems to imply that if only a malevolent bishop could prevent a priest from ever saying a first EF Mass, that priest would never attain to full idoneitas.

para 21 enixe is missing from the English version. In the Latin, ordinaries are strenuusly asked to ensure the appropriate formation of clergy. But we English are so laid back that the Vatican dare not strenuously ask Anglophone bishops to ensure this provision.

para 21 providebitur. The English reads ... seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the EF ... The Latin says ... seminaries, in which it will be provided that future priests are given proper formation, by learning Latin and, where needs suggest it, the EF itself. I think that the Latin indicative future providebitur means "we assume they will be taught Latin because Canon Law explicitly requires that anyway ... but whether they are taught the EF too depends on circumstances." There seems to be an implication here that seminary principals may have in the past been negligent in obeying CIC 249 (on the teaching of Latin), not to mention the explicit mandate of Vatican II (Sacrosanctum concilium 36; and see Optatam totius 13). Surely not!

para 24 I presume this means that SSPX priests will have to buy birettas. And I think it means that when the Oxford Oratorians sing 1962 Sunday Vespers on Septuagesima, they will have to do it in purple ... and that they will have to keep Christ the King in October, Ascension and Corpus Christi on Thursdays, et sim..

para 25 aliquae So it appears that not all the new OF Prefaces will enter the EF wholesale. The addition of just a few will be in line with the gradual tendency to add individual prefaces, which was established in the first half of the twentieth century.

para 32 et quidem integre et Latino sermone. Vernacular translations appear to take this as meaning that the Breviary office must, if the 1962 Breviary is used, be said in its entirety from that rite ... i.e., if you don't say it all, you can't say any. This would make it illegal for Oratorians to sing Sunday Vespers according to 1962 unless they were all in the habit of saying their entire office according to 1962 .... Prime and all. But Laudis canticum of 1970 established a precedent by envisaging permitting decayed clergy sive ex toto sive ex parte retinere the old Breviary. I would take the Latin of UE to mean "and what is more*, they have the facultas [if they desire to use it] of reciting it in its entirety and in Latin".

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*The normal sense of et quidem is (OLD s.v. quidem 5) "(adding a reinforcement or afterthought) And what is more ... ". ["Provided that they say it in its entirety and in Latin" would, I think, have to be "Dummodo id recitent integre et Latino sermone".]

23 May 2011

I Haven't Finished With Universae Ecclesiae

I feel uneasy about the suggestion that UA would have been better or stronger if it had embraced the Ambrosian, and other, Latin rites. Subject always to correction, my view is that this would have been improper and an improper exercise of papal authority.

The Bishop of Rome necessarily and logically determines what the Roman Rite is. The Bishop of Milan, Successor of S Ambrose, determines what the Ambrosian Rite is. The Dominican and other such usages are, to use Adrian Fortescue's felicitous term, 'dialects' of the Roman Rite (and the usages of the Anglican Ordinariates will themselves have the same status). As such, they come within the natural liturgical ambit of the Bishop of Rome*. Rites such as that of Milan, in my view, do not (unless they contained flaws which might damage the Communio of the Universal Church; in which case, of course, the duty of the Roman Pontiff to strengthen the fellowship of his brethren would come into play).

In my piece of April 28, 4th in my Ratzinger-and-liturgical-law series, I dealt with Cardinal Ratzinger's thought about the Papacy and its limitations. My concern was to demonstrate that he had a nuanced and sophisticated view of papal authority and its limits. He is concerned to emphasise that the Pope is not some sort of omnipotent despot but a person who works within limits which are inscribed in the life and in the very nature of the Church Militant.

Cardinal Ratzinger made clear his view that the immediate post-conciliar period was profoundly in error in its view that a pope (especially if claiming the mandate of an ecumenical council) can do anything. In my view, he was absolutely right. It is a strange age we live in: both those on the 'left' ("The pope should allow the Ordination of Women") and the 'right' ("The pope should interfere in the details of the rites of other churches") seem to be united in holding a crude and maximalising view of the papacy which neither Papa Ratzinger nor I could easily swallow.

I am neither on the 'left' nor on the 'right' ... nec dextera nec sinistra sed ubi Petrus.

I wonder why it is that I sometimes feel that I am part of a despised and ridiculed minority ... even a persecuted minority.

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*Para 34 makes clear that the Rites of the religious orders may be used by their members. It is unfortunate that the English "translation" fails to translate the words sodalibus ... licet ... .The same principle of subsidiarity according to which individual secular clergy have the right of using the EF without needing any hierarchical approval is also enjoyed by each individual religious.

22 May 2011

More gems from Universae Ecclesiae

If you want to engage seriously with today's point, you would be well advised to reread what I wrote, just before Universae Ecclesiae came out (honest, nobody broke the embargo by sending me an early copy; nobody ever does; I just have to rely upon my telepathic understanding of the Holy Father's mind), on April 27, the third piece of my Ratzinger-and-liturgical -law series. I was concerned to distinguish between the gradual changes made over the centuries in the Missal of S Pius V, and the radical, ruptured, novelty of the Paul VI Missal.

UE para 4 makes my point with delightful succinctness. It records that the old Missal "prolabentibus saeculis incrementa novisse". That's (almost) exactly right. The old rite had additions made to it; new propers, new votives, new prefaces. Fathers: if somebody gave you a copy of the first printed Roman Missal of 1474, you'd have very little trouble using it ... just three or four handwritten changes needed in the Ordo Missae ... as long as you were prepared to glue new feasts and Prefaces in. Additions constituted overwhelmingly the evolutionary development of the rite. [The English crib inaccurately and most deplorably translates incrementa novisse as "was kept up to date".] Then UA goes on to contrast this with its description of the post-Conciliar Missal as novum.

Exactly.

And para 25 makes clear that the evolutionary development per incrementa of the EF will continue "quam primum".

21 May 2011

Fr Ray Blake of Brighton ...

... has again written a fine piece, this time about the Toowoomba business. With a sound ecclesiological instinct based upon the ancient traditional praxis of both East and West, Father points out that the first steps in dealing with an heretical bishop should be taken by his corporate Presbyterium; if that fails, by his comprovinciales. Only on the rarest occasions, when this has all manifestly failed, should the Bishop of Rome have to intervene.

We sometimes hear bloated rhetoric about the evils of Roman 'centralisation' and the sweetness of Local Autonomy. This will all ring very much more true when all dioceses, and provinces, are more ready to deal effectively with their own heterodoxies and heteropraxies. It is well known that, when he was Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger became increasingly irritated by local establishments who kicked all doctrinal problems into the long grass of the collis Vaticanus so that that they could then play Mr Niceguy with their own cherished local heretics: "I'm your friend, but Rome is putting pressure on me".

Exactly. And something similar is true when the situation is so bad that a Roman Pontiff has to issue detailed legislation to foster licit liturgical communities of a traditional nature, and to protect them. It is splendid that there is an organ, the papacy, which can protect the small people from the bully-boys ... we who have been formed by Anglicanism know that only too well. But it shouldn't be necessary.

Universae Ecclesiae and Redaction Criticism

Immediately UE emerged, I went via a link on Fr Zed's blog to the Latin text and printed it off. As one does, I instantly noticed that the last sentence of paragraph 15 in the Latin text is missing in the English version. It occurred to me today to see whether the other translations omit it ... so I went to the Vatican website and discovered that they did. While I was there, I had another look at the Latin version ... and discovered that the sentence in question was missing there!!!

Here is my hypothesis. Fr Zed provided a link on his blog to a copy of UE which, in breach of the embargo, had been sent to him a little while before. In the interval between Fr Zed getting that version from his leaky chum, and the official publication, a last-minute change was made in the text.

[QUAERITUR (as Fr Zed so neatly says): was that change made after or before the Holy Father saw and approved the text on April 8?]

The sentence concerned: Ad numerum fidelium huius coetus designandum, pastoralis succurrit ratio, cautis tamen circumstantiis aequa lance ponderandis. Is all this evidence that, right up to the last moment, there was still nervousness about the question of how many people it takes to make up a coetus?

19 May 2011

Universae Ecclesiae

I like paragraph 19, ordering the pro-EF Faithful not to "help or give their name to" bodies which impugn the validity or legitimacy of the OF, or are hostile to the Roman Pontiff. This does not, of course, in any way refer to bodies which, while deeming the OF to be both unquestionably valid and canonically legitimate, consider it to be an inferior form of the one Roman Rite. The Ecclesia Dei Commission does not, unfortunately, have any direct jurisdiction over the whole body of the Faithful, otherwise it might usefully have required that those Faithful who strongly prefer the OF should not question the legitimacy of the EF (did I read somewhere that the Tablet's Rome correspondent does question the lawfulness of Summorum Pontificum?) and should not be hostile to the Roman Pontiff. That would provide what we English call a level playing field. Other jolly old English phrases refer to cats and pigeons, and sauce for ganders.

But perhaps I'm wrong; perhaps Ecclesia Dei does have a broader jurisdiction. Para' 8a says that the purpose of Summorum Pontificum is "Liturgiam Romanam in Antiquiori Usu, prout pretiosum thesaurum servandum, omnibus largire fidelibus". Omnibus is not qualified by a clause such as "those who want the EF"; omnibus is just omnibus. The English crib is clearly a bit worried by this, because it translates largire as "offer" ... rather in the manner of the wretched waiter who sidles up to you just when you're leaning over the table to share a conjugal confidence with your wife and "offers" you the pepper: "offer" so often means "take it or leave it but it's here if you want it". But largiri [here we draw a veil over the IV Form error of the Roman official who forgot that largior is a deponent verb] means to give bountifully ...to lavish. This document makes clear that the EF is to be lavished upon, not a minority with a preference for it, but "all" the Faithful.

Isn't that rather thought-provoking? Am I right or am I right? Come to think of it, the very first sentence of UA talks about making the riches of the Roman Liturgy "propiores" to the Universal Church.

18 May 2011

Zeitgeist

Well, I seem to have made some inroads into the backlog, and find myself revisiting my own blog. Do you think that those of you who see this ... and are well-disposed ... could spread the word that I have Resumed? Numbers of course have, during the Vacation since the start of the month, plummetted, and I'd like this not to be a waste of my time but to be read by somebody. By the way: perhaps fellow bloggers who have me listed as separated brethren or suchlike might care to reassign me to whatever category they in conscience feel consistent with the canonical adjustments of Tuesday in Holy Week, and to give me a puff. I would be grateful.

This evening, to Sarah Foot's Inaugural Lecture as Regius (Regia?) Professor of Ecclesiastical History in this University ... she was led in by the Bedell and Mr Vice-Chancellor. It was characteristically witty and very pointed. Sarah (daughter of that urbane and exquisite old free-thinker Michael Foot) is not keen on the idea that, in order to be 'academic', the 'profession' in a modern university of a subject like ecclesiastical history has to be left to those who have a reductionist view, and who see the subject from a hostile and secularising standpoint in which Faith simply has to be considered a facade for more mundane and untheological historical processes. It is the duty of the ecclesiastical historian to restore 'their present' to earlier communities by taking them seriously. While the student does not have to be a believer, (s)he should have an empathetic (my word) understanding of the faithed humans (s)he describes.

I find it a remarkable example of diabolical skill, this idea that only those hostile to Christianity really count as impartial; as if Christians must be disqualified for having a biasing agenda but atheists are dispassionate students of their subject. I recall the passage in The Pilgrim's Regress in which C S Lewis portrays the minions of the Zeitgeist indoctrinating their prisoners:
What is the proper answer to an argument proving the existence of the Landlord [God]?
You say that because you are a Steward [priest].
Good boy ... what is the answer to an argument that two and two make four?
You say that because you are a mathematician ...

Jonathan Riley-Smith has for some decades been restoring a genuine theological conviction to the Crusaders. But I remember particularly the words of M Schneiders in 1996, discussing early Irish liturgy: for a proper understanding of the past an affinity with the material is useful, at least if one wishes to go beyond the recovery of mere facts, if one tries to understand the people who used these texts, who celebrated Mass with these ancient prayers. But 'useful' is too timorous; and Dom Gregory 'Patrimony' Dix put it so much more memorably when, writing about the Canon Romanus, he said: This very morning I 'did this' with a set of texts which has not changed by more than a few syllables since Augustine used those very words at Canterbury on the Third Sunday of Easter in the summer after he landed. Yet 'this' can still take hold of a man's life and work with it.

2 May 2011

sermon concludes

Throughout history, Mary comes to us as the Immaculate Conception; the one whom God preserved from Original Sin so that she could be the perfect and flawless Mother of God the Divine Son; so that she could give God back his own gift to her by giving him a perfect and flawless humanity to unite inseparably with his Divinity. And Mary comes to us as our Mother too, as well as the Mother of Jesus. Because if we are one with Christ, one in Christ, as S Paul teaches, then Christ's Mother is our Mother too. When we kneel at the Altar to receive the Lord's Body and Blood, what the priest puts into our hands or onto our lips is the Body that Jesus took from Mary and the Blood which flowed in her veins before it flowed in his. Mary is our Mother; and what is it that mothers are always having to dish up, except food? Our Mother Mary brings food for her children "in this our exile", food neatly packaged for the journey we are making through this Vale of Tears; food to give us strength until we reach our True Native Land. beth lehem is Hebrew for House of Bread; and when we come to Communion the Mother of this House, the Great Mother of God Mary Most Holy, brings from her cupboard and sets within us the Blessed Fruit of her womb Jesus. Because Mary is not locked away in Bethlehem or Nazareth; she's not even a fixture who only made it as far as Lourdes. Mary walks down the centuries and across the seas and countries and hurries to make her way to this country of England in this our Mary Month of May; she comes this afternoon to this place and to this moment of time; comes to be your Mother and your merciful guide and advocate, here, in your own land.
The sermon is concluded.

1 May 2011

sermon continues

I don't think Jesus changes; our Saviour God, Scripture tells us, is the same yesterday, today, and always. And I know Mary must be the same, yesterday, today, and always. I was privileged - together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and several hundred other Church of England people - to go on pilgrimage to Lourdes in the year of the 150th anniversary of the Appearances of the Mother of God to S Bernardette Soubirous. We prayed at a little cleft in a rocky cliffside, called the Grotto, which is where S Bernardette had her vision. The Archbishop bent forward full-length on the cold, damp rock of the little cave and prayed there for some minutes. A few feet above his head was the fissure, the slit where our Lady appeared. At the time, S Bernardette was 14 years old - just the same age as Mary was when she became God's Mother - and Bernardette described the Lady of her vision as"no bigger than me". It is as though, through all eternity, Mary is to be seen of men as she was at that moment when she did the Great Thing which all the millennia had been looking forward to and brought God into his own world as her own Baby. She is for ever the One-giving-birth-to-God, Theotokos. And she was, so S Bernardette said, very beautiful. Beautiful, we might say, like her Son who is the fairest among the Sons of Adam.

Let me tell you another thing about Mary that doesn't seem to change. It's the way she talks. Just as she murmured to her Baby, not in Greek, the international language of Big People in government and politics, but in Aramaic, ephphatha and Abba, so, when she appeared at Lourdes, she didn't speak to Bernardette in some grand language of the great affairs of men. There in Lourdes, in the Grotto, two or three feet above where Archbishop Rowan got his cassock damp from lying on the rock underneath the statue of our Lady, they've written the words Mary said when Bernardette asked her who she was: Que soy era Immaculado Concepcion. And that's not French. It's the local dialect, a branch of an ancient and almost extinct language they spoke in the South of France centuries before they spoke French there. It's called Gascon, and it's the language little girls like Bernardette still used among themselves. Que soy era Immaculado Concepcion: I am the Immaculate Conception.Continues later

30 April 2011

May Sermon

As I made a bonfire of old homilies, I decided to give this one a last outing on the blog.
In lots of places, in the old days, there was a custom of fixing a card to the Paschal Candle giving some dates and times. This year the 'Charta' would have told you that it was the 1978th year since the Lord's Death and Resurrection; the 2011th since his Birth; and also the 2025th since the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tot it up: you'll see that, according to tradition, our Blessed Lady was 14 when she became God's Mother. There's a picture I find very moving - of a little girl, not much more than a child herself, leaning over the cradle of her baby Son, and murmuring the first endearments that a mother utters to the little thing that was part of her own body only minutes ago ... bonding, as they call it. And, as Divine Baby grew into Divine Toddler, I think we can actually put our finger on some of the things Mary said to her Son. The official language of that time was Greek, but I think that mothers and babies and people in bedrooms and kitchens used, in Palestine, a different languge: Aramaic. I don't think I have much doubt about one word Mary used to our blessed Lord. Imagine him - sitting in whatever sort of high chair they used to feed toddlers in. I think what Mary said was what most parents say: "Open wide". The little mouth opens, and one deftly manoeuvres the spoonful in before it shuts again. And the Aramaic for "Open wide" is Ephphatha. And so, when years later the Redeemer was healing a mute, S Mark tells us that he slipped from talking Greek into Aramiac and said "Ephphatha".

And I think I know another Aramaic word that Mary said to her Saviour. It was while she was teaching him his prayers and telling him about God the Father. She taught him to call God "Abba"; which could be translated "Daddy". In other words, she taught him to keep the Daddy-word, not for S Joseph, but for God the Father of Heaven. And we know Jesus called him "Abba"; he used that word in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest: " Abba, not my will but thine be done".

And there's another thing about that Mother and that Baby that people often don't spot. Our God and Lord Jesus Christ didn't have an earthly, human father; his Father was the First Person of the Blessed Trinity. Now: you know how it is with an ordinary baby: "Cor - he's got his mother's nose". "Look: she's got her father's ears". But this Baby ... there's only one person he could look like: Mary. If you could have seen them side by side, I'm sure you would have spotted the uncanny similarities; the distance between the eyes, perhaps; the curl of the lips; the shape of the fingermnails; some indefinable likeness in the way each of them walked. Just as identical twins are so very like each other, I suspect that Mother and that Son must have been very strikingly similar. And, as our Lord took his humanity solely and uniquely from Mary's, I wonder if his human mind ran along the same tracks as hers; so that each often felt they knew what the other was thinking before anybody actually said anything ... as happens with some identical twins.
Continues later.

24 April 2011

Pascha

I wish all the joy of Christ to those who read this blog; to the friends who have written comments since it began and to those who have arrived more recently; to those who have prayed for me and said Masses on my behalf.

23 April 2011

Readers' Digest?

I nearly binned the envelope that bore the message OPEN AT ONCE DO NOT DELAY, assuming that it contained another unmissable offer from Readers' Digest. But no: it was my voting paper for the Referendum: do we keep our first-past-the-post voting system, or replace it with a ballot paper listing candidates whom we number in order of preference?

I was at a loss. In the first place, I care less than a fig for Democracy. I consider it unspeakably more important for a country to be governed in accordance with the Law of God than to have any particular political structure. If you recommend to me Hitler's policies as having been approved democratically by the people of Germany, or assert that Abortion Law represents the broad and settled consensus of British Society, my instinct is to reply "So What? How horrible!" But, I thought, perhaps I should vote on this issue ... Yet how?

On the one hand, making the change would enable me to support minority parties who would never be first past the post, such as a pro-Life party, while giving a second or third vote to that political Moloch which I considered marginally less horrible than the other one. But refusing the change would enable me to assist in giving a bloody nose to the self-confessed libertine Clegg. In the end, I did vote for the change, having heard it recommended by the First Minister of Scotland.

Because I am a devolutionary sort of person. I would rather see a Europe which was a mosaic of of Statelets ... Scotland and Catalonia and Brittany and The Two Sicilies and Bavaria and the Papal States and Navarre and Provence and the County Palatine of the Rhine and the Dukedom of Burgundy ... you get the idea ... and say Good Bye to to the imperialist nation states of the modern era*. I am a member of Mebyon Kernow.

I think this might be an example of Subsidiarity. Yes?

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*A character in Waugh's Scott-King's Modern Europe says: "I am a Croat, born under the Hapsburg Empire. That was a true League of Nations. As a young man I studied in Zagreb, Budapest, Prague, Vienna - one was free, one moved where on would; one was a citizen of Europe. Then we were liberated and put under the Serbs. Now we are liberated again and put under the Russians. And always more police, more prisons, more hanging ..."

22 April 2011

Highlights of Holy Week so far?

Well, attending the Westminster Chrism Mass. Not so much the Mass itself - it was certainly well enough done but former Ebbsfleet clergy have been somewhat spoiled in this respect - as the scene beforehand outside: the Association of Catholic Women with posters and little cards to hand out saying We Love Our Priests. I would have liked to kiss them all. What a lovely lot. Catholic Women are obviously a very superior breed. Why has nobody ever told us this?

Another high point must be the recollection that, Deo volente, this will be the last Holy Week in which the faithful will have been fobbed off with the Comme le prevoit mistranslations by Bad Old ICEL. I thought of this at the Oratory today when we got to the bidding 'translated' as "that God may ... free those unjustly deprived of liberty", as if God were some sort of rather superior Parole Board. The original, you will recall, is the terse, forceful, brilliant, aperiat carceres, vincula solvat. I wonder how Good New ICEL renders this.

G G 'Patrimony' Willis demonstrated the extreme antiquity of those biddings - older even than the beautiful ancient collects which they introduce - by pointing out that they lack cursus.

20 April 2011

National Unity again

I trust that no-one will have been deceived by the mannered frivolity of my last post into thinking that I am anything but horrifed at the sight of the Camerons of this world defining for all of us the markers of common 'British' national identity. The fact is that the dominant culture of this country is now not so much non-Christian as anti-Christian. Increasingly, definitions of the 'tolerant' 'inclusive' character of our 'British Culture' mask an ideological determination to eradicate Christian morality and Christian assumptions from our national way of life; and to exclude their assertion from public discourse. Much the same appears to be true of other Western European and North American cultures.

An interesting example is provided by recent French legislation to Ban the Burkah. Almost every degree of female immodesty is, apparently, treated as normative ... but modesty is put on trial. A newspaper cartoon, showing a beach full of topless female sun-bathers ... and a gendarme chasing one topless sunbather who happened also to be wearing a burkah over her face ... made this point rather neatly. Happily, the British political class is not, at the moment, much minded to go down this path.

But notice the way in which the secularist zeitgeist, with its libertine determination to promote sexual promiscuity, now occupies the central ground - that is, the cultural assumptions behind the arguments - in Western societies. I heard some Moslem women interviewed on the wireless; they justified their wearing the burkah on the grounds that this was what they freely themselves wished to do. Well, good for them, I have respect for their choice and their courage in expressing it. But the assumption underlying this dialogue was that a woman's 'choice' is paramount; so we are not surprised to find in the French legislation exemplifies, that the greater penalties are reserved for men who constrain their womenfolk to cover their faces in public.

Of course I am not a Moslem and of course I do not campaign to promote either Islam, Sharia law, or Islamic styles of feminine conduct, in our British society. But let me make clear: I do think it is entirely acceptable - and even laudable - for a man to be concerned for the modest dress and conduct of his wife and daughters without being at risk of prosecution. And it would be nice to be able to walk through the streets of this city on Friday and Saturday nights without being confronted by acres of bare thighs, as the bimbo classes hunt in packs for a Good Time; and not to have to make my way around drunken mobs of them and their followers while lethargic policemen whose overtime my taxes pay wait to intervene. And then to hear in the morning news bulletins that the 'Morning After Pill' is to be made more readily available, paid for out of my taxes.

When the insufferable Cameron pontificates upon the need for immigrant communities to accept 'British Values', I feel rather as German Jews must have felt in 1933 when they heard the mobs beginning to chant "Ein Volk ...". You think I'm overstating this? Well, a society formed by 'British Values' already slaughters hundreds of thousands of innocent lives each year - lives, one suspects, largely conceived as the result of the sexual incontinence it has fostered; while, in 1933, the extermination of European Jewry was still only a manic gleam in the Fuehrer's eye.

'British Values and Culture' as defined by our cultural elite, an elite class hell-bent on the promotion of sexual promiscuity of every kind, are a corrupt menace. When I hear of proposals to constrain 'immigrant communities' to accept and conform to these notions, I feel that the bell is tolling for me as well.

I am not prepared to subscribe to what I perceive to be the modern British way of life. In my humble way, I shall do everything in my power to subvert it. When some future SuperCameron ships the 'unassimilated' Pakistanis back to Pakistan, where will he send unassimilated me?

19 April 2011

SUMMER VACATION

I give notice that, on May 3, this blog will enter upon a Summer Vacation. There are some academic pieces that I need the leisure to complete.

National unity: Hunwicke's Modest Proposal

Mr Cameron doesn't please everybody when he argues that 'immigrants' into Britain should be able to speak English. I, however, warmly and wholeheartedly agree with him. But I think his views should be ... er ... nuanced just a trifle.

English is not our only historic and native language in the Three Kingdoms. There is Welsh; there is Cornish, the language that Pam and I dip into together during our Cornish holidays as we return to the Catholic culture of medieval Europe by reading the mystery plays and sermons which survive in the old Cornish language. There are the two kinds of Gaelic; and, no, I haven't forgotten Manx. (In the disiecta membra of the old Duchy of Normandy, fragments of Norman French dialects survive.) Each of these is as properly, anciently, British, as is English ... the late Mr Chaucer's dialect ... or, possibly, even more so. But there is also another inherently British tongue: Latin, the language of these islands from the Claudian invasion onwards; the language of S Bede the Venerable and Sir Isaac Newton; the language in which Law and Theology and Mathematics and Logic were taught in our ancient universities ... Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Aberdeen ... in the Middle Ages and thereafter; the language in which the three nations worshipped for a thousand years.

So here is Hunwicke's Modest Proposal ... just the merest adaptation of Mr Cameron's very sensible approach. We should have two levels of citizenship: full citizenship; and associate citizenship. Full citizenship, including the right to vote and to own property and to have social benefits, would be available to all who could speak at least two of the languages on the following list; associate citizenship would have much more restricted rights attached to it, including temporary residence and the right to pay taxes, but would be freely and generously available to lesser mortals who were only able to be fluent in one of these languages.

Latin
English
Cornish
Welsh
Gaelic
Manx.
(In the Channel Isles, Norman French.)

Gosh, the scope for fertile combinations: lessons in Cornish for native speakers of Urdu; Latin word lists for Polish Plumbers and Dentists.

You know it makes sense.

18 April 2011

Launceston

Launceston is a small, pleasant, but not terribly remarkable town in Cornwall; well, just on the boundary of Cornwall. We lived nearby for six years. It was for long - anachronism coming up - the Capital of Cornwall, at a time when Capitals might not be in the middle of an area but on its edge, so that Crown officials could enter the territory upon their circuit. (Thus the President of the Council of Wales had his base at Ludlow in Shropshire.) For Catholics, however, the main glory of Launceston (by the way, it is pronounced Lahns'n) is that it is the place of the martyrdom of S Cuthbert Mayne, Protomartyr of the seminaries (whose skull is venerated not far away in Lanhearne).

But stay. A marvellous book has just plopped onto my doorstep full of the most marvellous, atmospheric, pictures of Launceston and district. People stand above the terrifying torrent of floodwaters in Launceston's Cataract Gorge; flowers stand in the City Park with their heads held high; the autumn leaves lie upon the ground in Brickfield's Reserve. The area is clearly very lush; rather as in Co Kerry, tree ferns and myrtles appear to germinate naturally (I believe that, in the old world, tree ferns made their way here from the Antipodes by accident, as ballast in ships, which was noticed to be sprouting!). Strangely, a Georgian house, with a Gothick church nearby, dominate the ridge above a vineyard in Coal Valley. Interesting, that; since I had not known that there were vineyards in Cornwall. There are quite a lot of fields there called Vineyard Field, but experts in Celtic philology suspect that this is an Anglophone misunderstanding of minnack (vinnack with lenition), or 'stoney', in the old Cornish language.

Thanks, Joshua, it is really lovely book, and I had no conception, despite the vivid description brought back from Tasmania by one of my daughters, that your native land was quite so beautiful. We did know that Tasmania had a Launceston - the result of generations of Cornish tin miners taking their unneeded skills to that and many other distant places.

A classicist cartographer seems to have wandered around Tasmania: Pelion Plains; Mount Geryon; Lake Oenone; Meander Valley (with awesome falls); Mount (yes!) Olympus; Styx Valley. The last of these, readers will not be surprised to learn, does not look in the least sulphurous!

16 April 2011

Situating John Paul II

While I do not make a habit of questioning the judgement of Roman Pontiffs, I have never concealed my feeling that John Paul II's Assisi Event would not lose any of its value if it were given just a little clarification. Similarly his action in kissing a copy of the Koran. The ill-disposed could so easily misinterpret these events as giving some sort of cover for syncretism or religious relativism. I have recently twice suggested that the structuring of the Next Assisi might constitute just such clarification.

I found the newly published Collect* for Blessed John Paul II interesting in this respect. It hopes that we will be edocti by his instituta, but, lest any should deem those instituta to encourage syncretism, it concludes by describing Christ as the unus Redemptor hominis. Thus it takes up the theme of the admirable CDF document Dominus Iesus, which so lucidly explained that only in Christ can be found salvation. Thus by one word the nature of JP2's Magisterium is definitively and permanently clarified by having a Hermeneutic associated with it.

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*Personally, I feel that it would better have read ... praesta qs, nobis, eius institutis edoctis, ut corda nostra ... aperiantur. Primacy of Grace, and all that.

On the train to Allen Hall on Thursday, I took my schoolmaster's correcting pencil to the texts published by the Vatican. There is one patent typo; another place where I don't quite see what the meaning is unless there is a typo. And the Eulogium reads to my eye rather oddly. I invite periti - or do we nowadays say idonei? - to join in the hunt. As a start ... how would you account for 'reditus' in line 2?

15 April 2011

Technology!

Since Fr Blake's tiscali machine refused to accept a comment I tried to put onto his (most admirable) blog, I repeat here the message which modern technology bounced back to me.

When disposing of old Altar Books, always keep the tabs and ribbons; they can be most useful when renovating and bringing back to use old EF Missals.

Some people might find it useful to remove from old ICEL volumes the Missale parvum which is incorporated towards the end, giving a basic minimum of what is necessary for saying the OF in Latin when one is travelling and has no access to a complete OF Missal and Lectionary in a language one knows. It can then become a light-weight addition to ones travelling Mass kit.

Hoc Hodiernum Tempus; or 'Hemming (3)'

Continues from the Hemming posts.
Not long ago, turning the pages in the Liturgia Horarum, I noticed in the 'Patristic' reading some words of Vatican II, taken from the Pastoral Constitution de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis. These were the opening words of the passage selected* for the reading: "Mundus hodiernus ...". How long, I asked myself, is hoc hodiernum tempus* to be deemed to last?

A few hundred Council Fathers were worried by the incorporation into a conciliar constitution of transient observations relating to a rapidly changing world: which is why, to satisfy such traditionalist pedantry, a long exculpatory Note is attached to that constitution's title. But - still - how long was their hodiernum tempus?

In the World outside the conciliar aula, that 1960s tempus passed quite quickly. The Beatles soon became what they are now, a delightful but retro taste. I recall the first of Ian Fleming's books to be made a film ... that distant decade when female parishioners told me that I resembled Sean Connery ... but, as the years passed after Dr No, the producers increasingly found Fleming's hodiernum tempus much too old-fashioned ... and commissioned new scripts. Among politicians, hoc hodiernum tempus was marked by the Cold War and fears that the Menace of World Communism would gobble up country after country until we had Soviet Commissars looking over our shoulders as we ordered our books up to Duke Humphrey or punted down the Cherwell. That tempus passed before the 1990s.

But perhaps hodierna tempora last longer in the Church? Did the hodiernum tempus Concilii Vaticani II end with the death of the last pope who was himself a Father of the Council - in 2005? (I presume that, long before then, the last conciliar diocesan bishop had retired upon reaching the retirement age). Or will hoc hodiernum tempus end when the last old gentlemen ... Kuengs and Ratzingers ... who were bright young periti of the Council, have passed to their (immensely varied but equally deserved) rewards? Or let us consider the Babes of the Council: those who ... despite the contraceptive frenzy of the time ... succeeded in getting conceived during the conciliar decade. They are already in middle age, tut-tutting in front of their mirrors over their white hairs and counting the wrinkles round their eyes. In a generation they will be retiring; a generation after that they will be as deadish as I shall be. Which of these landmarks might indicate the end of hoc hodiernum tempus?

Or possibly - it occurs to me - there is another looming indicator of the termination of this tempus. Shortly before his retirement, the then director of ICEL, Mgr Bruce Harbert, speaking in Oxford, said that ICEL was very shy about doing too much work on a new English translation of the Liturgia Horarum because of the strong likelihood that the post-conciliar form of the Office would itself be back in the melting pot before they had got very far. O utinam ... you can just imagine the majestic words in the Bull of Suppression, can't you: ... auctoritate praesentium tollimus imprimis et abolemus breviarium novum ab Hannibale Bugnini viro scelestissimo confectum, et in quacumque ecclesia, monasterio, conventu, ordine, militia, et loco virorum et mulierum, etiam exempto, tam a primaeva institutione quam aliter ab hac Sede permissum ... these things more or less write themselves ... or is my subconscious recalling a passage from some earlier papal document ... my memory is fading by the day ... how I do ramble ... will that felicitous moment indicate the end of the hodiernum Tempus Concilii Vaticani II?

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*Hoc hodiernum tempus means, literally, this todayish time. Incidentally, I wonder what earlier precedents there are for including extracts from recent conciliar documents as 'Patristic' readings in the Breviary. Bl Pius IX and Pius XII included passages from dogmatic bulls dated respectively 1854 and 1950. Other parallels?

14 April 2011

The Bishop of Bruges

Oh dear! I gather he was the most exciting, charismatic, of the Belgian bishops.

Peter Ball was undoubtedly the most exciting and charismatic of the English bishops. And, across the sea in Ireland, Eamonn Casey, aka Mr Annie Murphy, wowed the folk of Kerry and then of Galway. Kerry is still filled with the aging, embarrassing, Modern churches he built. He vandalised Killarney Cathedral in an incredibly exciting and charismatic way.

Being exciting and charismatic seems to provide dangers to the soul as well as sometimes to cathedrals.

Hemming again (2)

Continues from the last post.
Hemming sees the fly in the o******t as being actuosa participatio, as the phrase is understood in 'Enlightenment' liturgical fashions ... that is, by the liturgical apparatchiks who still act as the guardians of what they see as the Pure Spirit of Vatican II; the same jokers who for decades sneered so nastily at Joseph Ratzinger's contributions to liturgical rethinking on the grounds that 'he is not an expert'.

The idea (writes Hemming) that a single self can consummate in itself the entire meaning of every particular liturgical act as it is enacted ... is foreign and indeed corrosive to the interior character of a complex and centuries-long symbolic language which uses the differentiatedness of place, of time, and of the different vocations and stations of all humanity, to mediate the full range of the drama of our salvation. ... The idea - well known in the East* - that the entire liturgy must be fulfilled, but that it is impossible for any one person to fulfil it alone - was superseded in the West by the idea that every priest must complete the Office and Mass daily and in full ... (he concludes by describing liturgy as:) something which the whole local church - monastic house, convent, diocese, and so forth - has to distribute across its membership and life for the sake of the distributed body of Christ as it manifests itself in particular places.

You see his point. Frantically determined that every priest should say the whole Office, the West has repeatedly slashed and reduced that Office to make the aim attainable ... and, by so doing, has lamentably ravaged its traditional Office. The alternative would be to keep (or to restore) the great integrity of the historical Office while limiting the amount of it that each individual is required to fulfill.

Hemming's principle represents exactly what happened in the medieval cathedrals of England, such as (the one I have studied in most detail) Exeter, codified by its great reforming bishop John Grandisson in his Ordinale. The Lady Chapel, for example, had its own complete and distinct establishment to ensure the fulfilment each day of an entire round of Office and Mass in honour of our Lady, which duplicated the worship at the High Altar. There survives in the Chapter library just one sheet of a Marian Missal, corrected in Grandisson's own hand, for use either in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral or in that of his Collegiate establishment at Ottery. The weekly Mass and Office of our Lady in Sabbato, as we have them in the Tridentine books, are but a pale remnant of all that. Our massive cathedrals, which now so embarrassingly struggle to demonstrate to the tourists (and to the parishes) their 'relevance', were built quite simply to house those majestic structures of worship; a massive round of daily sacrifice and praise performed in full, not necessarily by each individual, but by a large differentiated community.
Continues.
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*I would welcome comments by Orthodox about whether Hemming is right here. My instinct is that he is dead right; but we occidentals can so easily misunderstand a different tradition.

13 April 2011

Provinces

VIS seems to indicate that a lot of new Provinces are being created all over theplace. What might be the ecclesial or ecclesiological significance of this?

Hemming and "the distributed body of Christ" (1)

In 2008, Laurence Hemming published his Worship as a Revelation. It has now lost its status as a 'new' book and will have a few decades to go before it becomes a Revived Classic. In the betweentime I thought I would remind you of this (uneven but) extremely important book. Not least of its importance is the fact that it reminds us of how close many of the instincts of the 'unreformed' Roman Rite - that is, the rite as it was before S Pius X got his hands on it - are to the ritual instincts which (apologies if as an ignorant Latin I have got this side of things wrong) animate Byzantine worship.

I have recently revisited Chapter 11, "Temporal Liturgy"; because I recalled that it gave me a 'line' on some thoughts that have been nagging at my mind recently. I have been comparing the distribution of the Psalter in the Roman Rite
before Pius X;
and after Pius X;
and post-Vatican II.
And what you find here is an ever more intense application, as time goes on, of the associated principles of brevity (the clergy must not be given too great a burden to recite in their Office) and of avoiding repetition. An example of what I mean: before Pius X, you said psalms 148, 149, 150, every day at Lauds (all lumped together with one antiphon and just one final Gloria) . They were the 'Praise' psalms (ainoi) that gave 'Laudes' its name. But such incessant repetition means that there isn't room for a vastly extensive use of the rest of the Psalter ... unless you pile on the 'burden'. So under S Pius X they were removed from daily repetition, split up from each other, and, together with other psalms beginning Laudate, spread lightly around. I am indebted to our learned friend Rubricarius for the information that the great Dr 'Patrimony' Wickham-Legg wrote: "In the estimation of the devout Roman Catholic, the Canon of the Mass and the distribution of the Psalter in the Breviary were almost on a footing as regards the impossibility of either being changed, amended, or re-arranged. They were the sacred Ark of the Liturgy, which no man might touch ... the Curia ... has already accomplished what can only be described as an astounding liturgical revolution, a thorough-going redistribution of the Psalter, in place of the old distribution, which can claim the most venerable antiquity; which Benedict XIV and his consultors in their proposed reform of the Breviary had not dared to touch, for they could not find that the Church of Rome had ever used any other"*.

Liturgical scholars (at that time, many of them were still Men of the Tradition rather than innovatory tinkerers) were horrified at the disappearance under Pius X* from daily use of the ainoi, which at least arguably go back to the Jewish usage of the first century. The recent 'spreading more thinly' of Miserere, which used to mark each day in Lent, can also be deplored as a sad dilution of the spirit of that season. But ... if we were still to recite these splendid things ... and all the other splendid things ... preces and suffragia and goodness knows what ... and with recollection! ... our Office would take all day! Hemming cuts this Gordian Knot by arguing that not everybody always needs to say everything.
Continues.

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*Those dodgy liturgists Quignon and Cranmer, followed by the equally dodgy 'Gallican' (Jansenist?) bishops who confected the eighteenth century French breviaries, had led the way in mistreating the
laudate psalms. Incidentally, I won't get too dewy eyed about Wickham Legg's rhetoric because, I fear, his argument was that if Pius X could do such things, what harm was there in Cranmer having done them earlier?

12 April 2011

AD ORIENTEM, every morning

The common ancient tradition of the Universal Church was, until recently, to offer the Holy Eucharist facing towards the rising sun understood as as an an Ikon or Type of the rising Lord, the one who comes to us from the Beyond to give us his daily gift of newness. East and West have commonly interpreted psalm 19(MT)=18(Vg & LXX) verses 4-6, referring to the sun, as giving an image of our Lord as the Bridegroom leaving the chamber of his Mother's virginal womb like a strong man running his course with joy. And this insight is now tardily being reappropriated by Western Christendom.

I would like to suggest another application of these truths. Should not the normative time for celebrating the Holy Eucharist and receiving communion be at the beginning of the day, as the sun rises, as Christ, new every morning, comes to us from his Father's House and is given to us by that maternal womb which is the Mediatrix of all Graces? This has, of course, been historically the general custom in the Church (even if in fasting seasons vesperal masses sometimes concluded the day's fast). It coheres with the ancient Eucharistic Fast, from the night before. Everything here speaks of newness, of the Father's eternal gift of the Son; of the Bread of Life as the Fount of the graces and deeds of the day.


I am not suggesting a new burdensome rigidity. My own discipline is that whenever I celebrate Mass after Noon, and there can be few modern pastors who never do this, I avail myself of the newer discipline of the fast. And I applaud the modern provision of a Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening. We cannot afford to miss any opportunity of giving people the means of fulfilling their Sunday obligation, or of daily Mass and Communion. But there is a certain breathlessness about the modern arrangements, however splendid it is when an office worker gives up part of her lunch-break to go to a midday Mass. And the gathering on Saturday evening of those Getting It Out Of The Way so that they can sleep in on Sunday morning seems to me to lack the wholesomeness of a regular congregation meeting in the newness of Sunday Morning to consecrate the week to God: perhaps the Anglican Patrimony (not to mention Orthodoxy) has something that is of value to the whole Latin Church.

I affirm all the modern arrangements whereby modern Western Christendom makes our Eucharistic Lord available to a world in a hurry. I am simply suggesting that Mass before breakfast, and on weekdays as well as Sundays, is worth considering as an ideal; after all, it is a norm which most Christian cultures and most Christian generations have found normal.

11 April 2011

...audemus dicere PATER NOSTER ...

The words introducing the Lord's prayer were translated by Cranmer, felicitously, as ' ...we are bold to say'. New ICEL with equal accuracy renders '...we dare to say'. But surely we should be 'happy' to say or 'cosy' to say or at least 'confident' to say? Old ICEL, indeed, prayed 'with confidence', and the equally corrupt Common Worship translation totally skives the question of how to render 'audemus'. Yet there is quite an ecumenical convergence here (if one ignore the Modernists and considers just the healthy consensus of the classical Roman and Byzantine Rites): the Byzantines ask God to make us worthy, with parrhesia and without condemnation, to dare (tolmain) to call upon the God of Heaven as Father.

Lying behind the modern squeamishness is a feeling that Christianity should be a religion of intimate warmth warmth. Indeed, there is in the world at large a belief that all men are brothers and that accordingly God, if there is a God, is the indulgent unjudgemental Father of all men*. So why should there be anything bold or daring about calling him Father? Rather than being dangerous, it should be next door to a platitude. But this is not the religion of the New Testament. The Lord's habit of regarding God as his father, Abba, seems to have been distinctive and unusual. The fact that the word is Aramaic suggests that it goes back to the Incarnate Lord's infant linguistic habits. And permission is given to humankind to share this habit in as far and only as far as humans are incorporated into Christ by Baptism and thus en Christo, members of his Body, Sons only in the sense that they are in the One Son. Wayne Meekes (The First Urban Christians) attractively suggested that the Pauline converts actually cried Abba (Gal 4:6) as they emerged dripping from the regenerating, resurrecting, waters of baptism. Only because we thus share by the theosis of filiation in Christ's Divine Sonship dare we, as the Byzantines happily put it, with parrhesia (standing on our two feet and looking him in the eye) call God Pater.

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*Old Bad ICEL cheerfully translated Deus at the start of most Collects as Father. I suspect that this corresponded to the intimacy of the common habit of which Evangelicals are commonly said to be guilty: of starting every ex tempore prayer with the words "Father, we just want to say ...". By the sort of diverting coincidence which is the ultimate proof that a humorous Providence must exist, the Modernists of the next generation came to abhor the vocative Father even when it does translate Pater ... as being patriarchal!

9 April 2011

HABITS OF PASSION

How about acquiring a new habit as your special discipline this Passiontide; I mean, getting into a habit you haven't been in before and then continuing it for the rest of your life.

Here is a possibility: get into the way of bowing your head reverently at the Holy Name of Jesus (and another name as well: vide infra). My apologies to those of you who do this already; but my impression is that very few people do, even among the pious, even among the pious clergy. Yet it is even prescribed in the old Canon Law of the Patrimonial Church of England to be done by clergy and laity alike, and this order was explicitly retained in the twentieth century revision of Canon Law. And, of course, it was laid down in the old Ritus Celebrandi Missam: 'When the Name of Jesus is named, [the celebrant] bows his head ... and similarly whenevever the Name of blessed Mary is named, or that of the Saints of whom the mass is said ...'. I try to do this, not only liturgically, but also when I hear the Name of our Saviour uttered lightly as an expletive.

A great Bishop of Exeter, John Grandisson, made the encouragement of this the first thing he did when he arrived in Exeter in 1328 after having been 'provided' to the see by his frienrd and patron, that great pontiff John XXII. In his decree Ineffabilis Misericordiae Matris he wrote 'The Mother of Mercy - a mercy beyond all words - has endlessly shown favour with ready hand to the whole human race, from the beginning of our redemption; favours that will last for ever.Having these always before our eyes, and not forgetting how often she has helped, cared for, protected and excused us before her Son, and has graciously reconciled us to herself, we desire with all our heart to entice and enflame the minds of others to her love and service.' He went on to remind his cathedral clergy of the 'very great indulgences which we know Popes Urban IV and John XXII graciously to have granted' and to add to these a new indulgence of his own to all his clergy who 'sweetly call to mind the Name of her Son Jesus Christ or of Mary, when it is sung or read, by bowing their head.'

Recent reforms restored the festivals of the Names of Jesus and Mary to the (new) Roman Rite. You know it makes sense!

8 April 2011

A bit messy?

Those familiar with Vespers of the Dead (Old Rite) and the old propers for the Departed; and with the EF commune Sacerdotes tui, may have shared my puzzlements. The first set me thinking about all those texts which ask that the departed be delivered from Hell. Such texts do not, I think survive into the postconciliar texts, because of the assumption that, immediately after death, the eternal destiny of the defunctus is definitively and tidily settled. Either he is in Hell or he will eventually be in Heaven. Do the ancient texts suggest rather that in the journey his soul is undergoing it might yet fall eternally? Or even that in the mysterious working of divine mercy Hell might not, for everybody there, be the last word? Is it true that in some parts of Europe there are beliefs that the soul is not judged immediately after death? Are there parallels in Byzantine euchology?

The second set of texts, in the Secreta, asked God that our oblations might 'be profitable unto [the holy bishop] for the reward of blessedness'. How does this fit in with the idea that there is a tidy distinction between those who need our prayers and those who are fully in blessedness and pray for us? Could it be that even the Saints have yet progress to make in God's grace?

Are these speculations contrary to the Magisterium? Of course, I have no desire to be anything but an obedient servant of what has been defined. But there is, surely, something amusing about the fact that such speculations can be suggested by the Old Rite but not the New; as if the great prayer-bag of Tradition is an older, freer, more thought-provoking, less narrow world than Bugnini's.

I'm glad one can still buy unpasteurised cheese.

7 April 2011

YHWH God of hosts

The new translation of the Sanctus is a fine example of why the new English Mass is necessary; and of how translation should be done.

The original Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus Domine Deus Sabaoth comes from Isaiah 6. Readers will not need to be reminded that Domine translates YHWH, the unutterable Name of the Jewish God ... that is to say, our God, for we ought never to forget that (as Pius XI said in the era of Hitler) we are all spiritually Semites. Before the Preface, the priest has invited us to Make Eucharist (give thanks) to YHWH our God; now we join the angels in shouting his holiness.

He is YHWH God SBAOTH; an ancient cult title which the Vulgate properly translates as 'God of armies'; he is the God who went to war before David and the people of Israel, his chosen, throughout their ... oops, I think I should have written 'our' ... history. But how to translate SBAOTH?

Old ICEL rendered 'Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might'. Very nasty, because it makes LORD a final monosyllable that in saying and singing gets psychologically and physically (we are just coming to the end of our puff) lost. It puts a heavy break before the phrase 'God of power and might' and thereby breaks up the integrity of the Hebrew original.

But there would be something awkward in a literal rendering 'God of Armies'. If that had been proposed, the furore would have been understandable. New ICEL has done a very wise thing. It has gone back to the archaic English phrase 'God of hosts'. where 'hosts' is old English for 'armies' (cf Wycliff and the Authorised Version and Cranmer's Prayer Book). 'Sabaoth' is an archaism; what more fitting than an archaism to render it; an archaism which reminds us of our Hebrew roots and of the long history of Biblical and liturgical English. This is precisely how translation should be done.

Someone should tell those clergy who are campaigning against the new translation (in organisations such as "What if we just said Wait until Ratzinger is dead") that, in very many cases, they are campaigning against the wording with which Anglicans have been familiar for 450 years. This is very unecumenical.

5 April 2011

Pork

A very satisfactory session at Allen Hall yesterday; what, I gather, is known as Twenty-four Hour Pork. My goodness me, how tasty, how succulent.

As a brother priest murmured, what an excellent thing it is that modern Roman Catholics have a ... er ... nuanced view of Lent.

Only for philologists

I heard, on the wireless, a young woman with an exotically, positively rococo, East End accent say that 'Mel C'* was her "me:er". I'm fairly sure that this is Estuary English for "Mentor". Not very Hellenic ...

*I think 'Mel C' may have been one of the "Spice Girls". I was still in teaching when these phenomena were live, so I had them explained to me. No? ... ah, well ...

4 April 2011

CONTRA ORIENTEM

For those who use the Liturgia Horarum: today's readings are important. I'm not going to expound them in detail because I think anybody can work the business out for themselves, and I hope they will do so. Just a pointer.

Home in on Leviticus 16: 13-14. Compare the translation of this in the Biblical Reading, as offered you in LH Second Edition (it comes from the Neo-Vulgate), with the translation of the same Hebrew verses in the text of the Patristic Reading, Origen's exegesis of the Leviticus passage. You will notice that the Neo-Vulgate offers you "contra frontem", while Origen read "contra orientem". Origen's text comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation used by the first Christians (and, if I am right in my own conviction that our Lord normally spoke Greek, by him too). For your information: the traditional Vulgate had a reading similar to that of the Septuagint: "ad orientem". ["orientem" means the East.]

Now go on reading Origen's exposition, reflecting on its significance for the direction of Christian Eucharistic worship.

[A subsidiary point: this does also raise the question of the propriety of providing new translations, such as the Neo-Vulgate, which may be closer to what philologists and Rabbinic Judaism agree the Hebrew means, but which close off from us Patristic understandings of Scripture. I suspect that when the Neo-Vulgate was substituted for the Vulgate in LH, nobody quite noticed that this rendered Origen's exegesis rather mysterious.]

3 April 2011

Clergy Appeal: Auxilium petitur ...

His hebdomadis in quibus prohibitione obstringimur quin sacrosanctum Missae Sacrificium offeramus, nonulla occasio oritur in qua pastorali cura motus desiderio haud parvo offerendi afficior pro salute vel pro bono statu alicuius viri seu mulieris, aegrotantis fortasse seu dolentis.

Rogo confratres caros compresbyteros meos ut sua benevolentia velint litare pro intentione et ad mentem Ioannis Hunwicke, idque mihi significent, ut missas eas (quot et quando?) ad bonum applicem eorum quibus opus est huius tam salutiferi beneficii.

Traditionalism

I gather that the eldest grandson of the Head of State is to be married in the Octave of Easter; and that he has favoured the public sheets with the intelligence that he will not be wearing a wedding ring. There was a little debate on the Home Service a day or two ago between two opposing 'celebrities' (of neither of whom I had heard); the one who deplored the young man's decision and who upheld the desireability of husbands wearing wedding rings was introduced as "holding the traditionalist view"!

When I got married in 1967, for a husband to wear a ring was the innovation of a small minority. I had one colleague at Lancing who wore one; my suspicion was that this was something to do with the fact that he was a Francophile.

I am not particularly interested in joining a debate about the goodness of each partner in a marriage wearing a wedding ring, or even about the evolution of different customs in different regions. What absolutely fascinated me was the apparent fact that what was in England a little known innovation in 1967 is now regarded as the 'Tradition' which holds sway! So brief a period, apparently, now suffices to establish a 'tradition'!

There is a yawn-making old joke that, however unfashionable one is, if one waits long enough one will be in forefront of fashion. I now know that the prescribed period of time for this process is 44 years.

31 March 2011

Censorship

In the past, I have - on, I think three occasions - deleted comments which I considered offensive. Today I have deleted a comment which simply invited readers to transfer to the writer's own blog in order to get the Real McCoy on something. If the writer concerned wishes to give his substantive reasons for disagreeing with me and is prepared to write it on the thread of my blog, I assure him that (unless he writes in a gratuitously offensive way) I will not delete his views. But, if I choose not to let him use my blog to advertise his own, that's my business.

What's Mass for?

I was reading some time ago an article in an American Orthodox periodical about whether the Eucharistic Prayer should be audible or silent. It is sometimes illuminating to see how our Western scene looks from the other side of the Eastern wall. Frankly ... I hate to interfere in the religion of others, but I feel strongly about this ... in my view, Byzantine Christians should stick to their traditions.

In the West, the EP has been audible in the C of E since 1559 and in most of the rest of the West since the 1970s. The Orthodox writer drew attention to listener fatigue; among RCs, he said, the audibility of the EP has led to an almost universal preference for the shortest EP (and it is indeed very short). In the C of E, he thought, the EP is commonly regarded by the laity as an irrelevant clerically-intruded piece of boredom which merely delays the all-important act of Communion.

I think he's absolutely right. And, looking at our Catholic Anglican tradition, I suspect that one reason for it is this: in our context it has seemed of crucial importance to avoid sacrilege by making our people understand that the Eucharistic elements truly are the Lord's Body and Blood. Especially since the restoration of mass communion, we have constantly (and probably rightly) postponed everything else to this agenda. But the centrality of Sacrifice, in the last resort, is more important than the worship or reception of the Sacramental Christ. I hesitate to blunder carelessly and over-simplistically around in so great a mystery; it is certainly true that both ....and is more important than either ... or. But, to be simple and crude, the Eucharist is firstly a sacrifice; only when we have said this do we go on to say that it is (we can't get away from the terminology of our Jewish roots here) a communion sacrifice. In the last resort, the Lord's Body and Blood are present substantialiter et realiter upon our altars primarily to be the propitiatory sacrifice which (since the first Holy Week) replaces the the Temple cult; secondarily, to be received so that Christ's Body and Blood can (Dr Pusey's banned sermon citing a great crop of Eastern Fathers is good on this:) be commingled with ours; thirdly, to be adored. Look at it diachronically: most Christians in most Chrisian centuries have attended Mass without communicating. S Pius X's great campaign for Frequent Communion does not need to be denigrated but it is not simpliciter the whole Christian tradition.

Back to the EP. If it is to be audible, its text should make very clear its sacrificial nature, and clergy-talk ('Today we are offering this Holy Sacrice especially for', for example) and sermons should frequently emphasise this. Or it can be done done silently; catechesis will have no trouble explaining that it is silent because it effects the great act of consecration and sacrifice; silent becuse it effects this without essentially needing lay participation or even understanding; silent because the priest is in the holiest possible commerce with God rather than saying something for the interest, diversion, or even edification of the people.

If it can't be said inaudibly, the next best thing is that it should be said very quietly. Yes, I know the OF rubrics specify an audible voice. But they do not say that the priest should bellow nor that there should be electronic amplification. If it is important that the people should hear the prayer, well, any schoolmaster knows that the best way of securing dead silence in a classroom is by speaking very quietly.
Continues.