20 September 2017


There is a great deal to be joyful about; in fact, I feel on something of an emotional high. These are exhilarating times to be a "traditional" Latin Catholic! And not least of the sources of joy is the sense of panic in "Liberal" quarters: almost hysterical panic that, although in this pontificate they have their hands on all the central levers of power in the Church, they seem to be making so little headway in stifling the Gospel and the Tradition.

I say that so as to put some grumps into perspective.

Grump (1) I hope you have read, on LifeSiteNews, the account by Diane Montagna of what has just been done to the S John Paul Institute for the Family.

Diane is a remarkable young journalist; at the Vatican News Conference when the Graf von Schoenborn "presented" Amoris laetitia, she asked the one, real, important question. The Graf proceeded, with that ready smile which some odd people find so winsome, condescendingly to put her down by a misrepresentation of the teaching of Blessed John Henry Newman.

Her piece on LifeSiteNews is a deft and penetrating analysis of this latest attack on the Magisterium of S John Paul.

Grump (2) Fr Zed reveals the aggression perpetrated against the SSPX when they went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Blessed Lady at Knock; the use of security men to prevent the SSPX group from offering the Holy Sacrifice or saying the Rosary within the Shrine precincts.

The fact that the Society has been allowed to pray in Roman basilicas, and in the Concrete Submarine at Lourdes [see a lovely video of the pontifical High Mass celebrated there by His Excellency Bishop Fellay, which I access by googling Fr Ray Blake SSPX Lourdes], makes this illiberal act stand out like a sore etc.etc..

Questions are in order. (a) Was a pretext offered? Ex. Gr. "You haven't booked in and another group is booked in to use the same facilities at precisely the same moment." Even if there was a technical pretext, one doubts whether a group, say, of Orthodox or Anglicans would have had detachments of security men let loose on them.
(b) Was the diocesan bishop involved in this debacle?

When I was at Knock, I was pleasantly surprised by how very friendly the staff were in enabling me to say Mass (EF) at the Altar of the Vision. One brother priest to whom I said this remarked "I can only tell you that you were remarkably lucky". Could it be that the fact I was in company with Cardinal Pell influenced people?

Not a grump at all but just a question (3): NLM has an interesting primer on how to Enrich the Novus Ordo. Among much else, it suggests wiping thumbs, forefingers three times on the Corporal at the start of the Qui pridie. Three times is not what I was taught at England's most prestigious Seminary, Staggers (1967), in our Mass Practices, nor can I find it in O'Connell. Do I now need, in advanced old age, to triple the habit of a lifetime?

19 September 2017

Irreversibly Bye Bye to Vatican II

Fr Zed revealed a week or so ago that the Vatican publishing house had no plans to do a reprint of the Latin text of the post-Vatican II Breviary, the Liturgia Horarum. It is, apparently, out of print and unobtainable.

Unobtainable? But if I go into Blackwells in Oxford, they can rush off, within a fortnight, a one-off reprint of any out-of-print book. And it is very cheap. Yet the Libreria Editrice Vaticana didn't make any such offer to their enquirer. Just: "It's out of print. We have no plans."

Remarkable. Vatican II, in its liturgical decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, explicitly mandated that (except in a tiny number of exceptional cases) the clergy should continue to recite their Office in Latin. 

Is that Conciliar liturgical prescription "irreversible"? You will have to submit a dubium to the current occupant of the Roman bishopric if you want a quick answer to that question. I thought I heard recently that he takes a rather strong view on the "irreversibility" of all the Vatican II and post-Vatican II liturgical stuff. I rather think he even described his own opinions on this subject as "Magisterial", whatever, in this context, that means. But his own Vatican publishers seem very relaxed about the whole business.

I can only draw two possible conclusions from this puzzling episode. Either
(1) hint hint, the clergy are no longer expected to recite the Divine Office; or
(2) hint hint, the clergy are expected to procure copies of the (very much still in print) 1962 , pre-Conciliar, Latin Breviary, and to use that.

Clearly, we have now definitively (irreversibly?) moved out of the dark shadow of Vatican II. If those in Rome whose job it is to render physically possible the observance of what the Council explicitly ordered couldn't care less about it, obviously we lesser men (and all you lesser women too) can now just totally (irreversibly?) forget about it. What was it that Newman and Ratzinger each said about Councils?

I know how to take a hint, and how to take it irreversibly ...

18 September 2017

Lighten our darkness ...

Lighten our darkness we beseech thee O Lord: and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.

This prayer comes from Anglican Use Evensong, and had originally been the concluding prayer of the Sarum Compline. Here is the Sarum original:

Illumina, quaesumus, Domine, tenebras nostras: et totius huius noctis insidias tu a nobis repelle propitius.

In other words, Cranmer, as his custom was, expanded propitius to by thy great mercy and insidias  ['ambushes'] to perils and dangers. the ambushes of this whole night thus became all perils and dangers of this night. 

Just as Cranmer padded and expanded, lest his vernacular version of the prayer be finished before the worshippers had quite realised it had started, so, through the Middle Ages, this prayer had already grown in the Latin. Here is the version in the 'Gregorian Sacramentary', with those words crossed out which were subsequently added.

Illumina, quaesumus, Domine, tenebras nostras: et totius huius noctis insidias tu a nobis repelle propitius.

But what will really surprise you is the Heading a little way above it the 'Gregorian Sacramentary'.


Gracious! It was apparently a collect for the Dawn!! It did not ask for God to protect us through the darkness of this night; it asked God to push away (repelle) the dangerous darkness of night. Look back at the Latin text!

[It may be that I am wrong. Another prayer in this section does look like a late evening prayer, so perhaps the Heading is erroneous. Illumina is certainly an evening prayer in the 'Gelasian Sacramentary'. But this exercise may serve to remind us how things are not always what they seem!]

When I am Cardinal Prefect of the CDW, I shall permit all who have Anglican Previous to use this prayer instead of Visita nos; which seems to be just a trifle odd when not used in a Religious House.

17 September 2017

Sister Teresa Forcades UPDATE

UPDATE: A rather odd correspondent has accused me of accusing the Sister of expurgating the text of Scripture. I think it should be clear to any reader that this is the opposite of what, in the following, I am implying she may have guiltily done. My view is that she appears to me to be guilty of making the swaggering, macho claim that she expurgates Scripture ... when (since it has already been expurgated in the Novus Ordo) she doesn't!

Context: I would never pay money for The Tablet but in a weak moment I signed up for their you-can-read-online-six-articles-a-month-free offer. I now wish to comment on an article I read: but I can't revisit it to check the facts, having used up my allocation. I rely upon readers to tell me if through poor memory I am doing someone an injustice, so that I can amend or withdraw this post.

Recently I read in the Tablet a piece about a Catalan nun called, I think, Teresa Forcades. In the course of this article, she was reported as saying that, when reading in Church the First Letter of Timothy, she always left out Chapter 2 verse 12 (in which S Paul does not allow women to teach in Church).

What puzzled me here was the fact that, in the Novus Ordo, that verse is not included in the Lectionary ... in other words, the post-Conciliar revisers had already expurgated it from the text, thereby wilfully and wickedly depriving Sister of the fun of expurgating it herself.

How can I be sure of this? Because I checked it up in Matthew P Hazell's Index Lectionum, which enables you to check such things in an instant. If you haven't got this admirable book already, I recommend it highly. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3. It reveals the locations of so very many interred corpses.

But perhaps this verse was included in a pericope from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours? I checked the index at the end of each of the four volumes: no luck.

I think ... frabjous day! ... I may just have discovered a New Argument against the Novus Ordo ... videlicet:

It deprives radical nuns and progressive layfolk of the simple daily joy of chopping out of Holy Scripture the bits with which they disagree!!

Spoil Sport!

As for Sister ... does she, perhaps, very occasionally, allow her imagination to run away with her?

16 September 2017

The Eucharistic Fast

Some time ago, as I was talking to one of the Russian Orthodox clergy here in Oxford, I was interested to hear that the Orthodox, when, during Lent, they receive Holy Communion at an evening Liturgy of the Presanctified, are only nowadays expected to fast from midday (I hope I've got that right). It brought home to me that it is not only the West which, since the time of Pius XII, has felt that a discipline of fasting (which was apparently manageable to a European peasantry that toiled all day beneath the sun at their subsistence agriculture) is too much for our own soft culture.

But enough of grumps. I want to advance the notion that a Hermeneutic of Continuity might incline us to reconsider our practice of the Eucharistic Fast; which Pius XII first reduced to three hours and then Blessed Paul VI reduced to one hour. And that is one hour before the time of Communion, not one hour before the beginning of Mass. And recent legislation has permitted binating clergy on Sundays to snack between Masses even if that cuts into the one hour. To all intents and purposes, the Fast has been abolished.

When I retired to Devon at the age of sixty, I found myself not infrequently saying three Masses on Sunday morning (trinating! I took it that unreprobated custom and pastoral necessity justified this rather iffy practice). I continued my habit of fasting until after the third Mass ... which meant until about 12.30. And I am one whom gluttony has rendered self-indulgent and unfit. I'm not boasting when I say that I never had any problem with it. And, in conversation once with the Syrian Orthodox who came to celebrate their Liturgy in S Thomas's, I discovered that they fasted from supper-time the evening beforehand: as, of course, did their priest: who had just driven from Croydon to celebrate a Liturgy that lasted from 12.00 until after 2.00. It can be done.

I'm not going to rant about the effective reduction of the Eucharistic Fast from a rigid rule to an option, however horrified our Tractarian Fathers would have been by this. I would never write anything to make others feel guilty or to discourage others from going to Mass and receiving the Lord's Body and Blood. But I wonder if we ought to be doing more to move towards a more Traditional and Patristic habit in this matter.

My own practice is: when I am de facto observing the old convention that Mass be celebrated between Dawn and Midday, I observe the old (Western) rule of fasting from the previous midnight. When I am being modern and saying Mass after Midday, I keep B Paul VI's modern rule of a one-hour fast. Is this really so desperately impossible or absurdly illogical?

For what it's worth, Pius XII did urge all those capable of doing so to observe the old rule. And I have heard rumours that, before legislating, he sought confirmation that it was within his power so to legislate. Among Anglo-Catholics, who had spent decades arguing for the Apostolic importance of the Eucharistic Fast, there was consternation. I have been told that the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament asked my erudite predecessor, Dr Trevor Jalland, to explain what was going on.

15 September 2017

CDF: throw the archives open

In his illuminating Cuddesdon paper, Fr Aidan Nichols reminded us that, according to reports, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then directed by the admirable Gerhard Mueller) submitted copious corrections to the draft of Amoris laetitia ... all, or most, of which were ignored.

Let me remind you why this matters. As Fr Aidan said, we would find it preferable to be able to believe that the errors and (at least prima facie) heresies in AL were a matter of negligent language on the part of Papa Bergoglio, rather than the result of a positive intention to teach what he knew to be error. We can only judge which of those two verdicts needs to be passed on our Holy Father (and, obviously, the latter is a graver matter than the former) if we can collate the corrections offered to him by the Congregation with the successive drafts of AL and its final text.

I know we can hardly expect, in this pontificate, so open and frank an action as the publication of the CDF's comments. That, in a sense, is the problem about this troubled period in the history of the Church Militant. The current occupant of the Roman See talks without ceasing when it would become him to be silent; and keeps his mouth zippered when it is his duty to open it and to defend the Fides tradita and to confirm his brethren. Where there should be secrecy there is openness; where we need openness, there is secrecy.

Incidentally, may I appeal for help? There are reports in a the German digital newspaper, Mannheimer Morgan, that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has made some rather important points. I would be interested to see the text (or an English crib, if possible) of the Cardinal's actual words. Can anybody supply me with a link? This is how the report sums up the part I am mainly interest in: "To rely solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in theological questions? A frightening idea for [Mueller]. Mueller makes reference here to the example of S Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621); he pointed out to Clement VIII (1536-1605) in clear words his lack of theological competence".

(To be clear: I do not want another link to the newspaper report but to his Eminence's actual words which are here merely summarised.)

I suspect that Mueller may have made an important contribution to the problem of how we handle a doctrinally disfunctional pontificate.

14 September 2017

We need a Novena ...

Tomorrow, September 15, Feast of our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, is a good day to start a Novena leading up to the Feast of our Lady of Walsingham, on Sunday 24 September (in the English Ordinariate, of course, the feast of our Lady will this year supersede the Sunday Mass and Office).

Nine days of prayer, that the intercession of the Mother of God might bring succour to the Ecclesia adflicta of her divine Son. Has the Church, in your lifetime, ever needed this more than it does today?

Mgr Armitage, current Administrator at the Catholic Shrine (known to Anglicans as The Barn), has put out texts for the Novena, and the Ordinariate Secretariate has passed these on to us.

I am not willingly negative; indeed, I would not deny the propriety of a rich diversity of approaches to Marian devotion. I don't regard it as my job to criticise others and to disparage their own initiatives and to snarl at anybody who does things differently from the exact way I would do them. But I do have a couple of reservations about the texts issued.

(1) This is technical: the translation given of the Angelus is the English Roman Catholic text. I would advocate, in the Ordinariate, the traditional Anglican translation, especially the use, at the end, of the Anglican (Cranmerian and Prayer Book) translation of the ancient Collect.
(2) My next reservation is more substantial: a form of Litany of our Lady is offered, clearly designed to be be more 'modern' than the traditional Litany ("of Loretto"). You know what I mean: instead of (ex.gr.) "Turris Davidica", one might invoke "Woman of Faith"; instead of "Ora pro nobis", one might pray "Keep us in mind".

I mention this not for the rather cheap motive of inviting you to groan at the inept 'modernity' of such things, but because what we are losing here is in fact something extremely important: the typological character of the old Litany. The titles of our Lady in that Litany include many of the  typological titles which Christian devotion, since at least the time of the Council of Ephesus, has discovered in the Old Testament as pointers to the Mother of the Incarnate Word.

Typology is discerning in the Old Testament the Figure of Christ and his Mother and the events of their lives, so that the Old Testament passage is the Type and the New Testament Figure or event is the Antitype. Typology is the central way in which the Great Tradition of both East and West has appropriated the Old Testament. It goes back to the New Testament texts themselves: Christ as the New Adam ... and see I Corinthians 10:1-11 ... and look at I Peter 3:20-21 ... etc.etc.. Typology is part of the fundamental Grammar of the Faith; something even deeper than dogma.

Today ... the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ... liturgical texts reminded us that the Lifting up of the Son of Man on the Cross is the Antitype of which the Lifting up of the serpent in the desert was the Type (Numbers 21:4-9; S John 3:13-17; S John 12:32).

I know that most laity have not been taught about Typology; because the Clergy weren't taught it either; because there were so much more important things for them to be taught in seminary (the Synoptic Problem... the inauthenticity of most of S Paul's letters ...)*. But seeing the Lorettan Litany displaced by a modernist 'relevant' formula devoid of Typology brought home to me again the radical impoverishment of current Catholic culture.

The Catholic Church needs a John Mason Neale redivivus. Come to think of it, perhaps that is precisely what God has raised up the Ordinariates for.

*None of my strictures apply to the admirable Fr John Hemer, of Allen Hall, who understands perfectly about Typology!

13 September 2017

Carnival time?

It was rumoured that, immediately after his election to the Roman Bishopric, Jorge Bergoglio said to his Caeremoniarius, who had offered him the garment indicating his new status as Servus servorum Dei, "The Carnival is over, Monsignor; wear it yourself". This was subsequently denied ... conclusively, I was very relieved and happy to assume. Back in those days, we had fewer data to go on with regard to how very nasty this man can be.

But now Monsignor Basil Loftus (in the article from which I have derived so much recent enlightenment) has, with that deft and subtle sophistication which is his hallmark, alluded to this story. And the Monsignor is a pretty extreme Bergoglianist, not to say a hyperultraueberpapalist.

So is the story, after all, true? Or is the Monsignor being even more Bergoglian than Bergoglio, and hinting that he would have liked the anecdote to be true?

Sometimes, of course, ben trovato fabrications are indeed truer than Clio, a distinctly unpermissive lady, would in her rather pedantically preserved virginity prefer to concede. I once had an academic colleague of whom it was said among our fellows that he had been Head Boy of ******* [a very minor English Public School]. This was not factually true but it was ... er ... truly true.

It told you more about him than any mere facts could convey.

I think we will leave Fr Basil at this point. Indeed, I do in fact agree with one argument he proposes: to the effect that the Episcopal Conferences in the Three Kingdoms should be open about what goes on in their meetings, just as the USA Conference is. And, when all is said and done, he is a brother priest whose ministry I pray will be ever fruitful, just as I hope and pray to be clear-sighted about the many shortcomings of my own.

12 September 2017

Mon Signore Loftus (3)

The overlaps in content (but certainly not style) between the rectangle of ranting bad temper by the pretentiously-titled "Monsignor Loftus", which I have begun to share with you, and the elegant paper delivered recently to an ecumenical audience by Fr Aidan Nichols, are quite considerable. And all the more diverting since they come from the opposite ends of the theological spectrum.

The Catholic Herald account of Fr Aidan's address quotes him as saying that "bishops' conferences ha[ve] been slow to support Pope Francis, probably because they [a]re divided among themselves". The Monsignore is much more prolix. "And in many, many* more countries, our own included, whole episcopates are sitting on the fence ..." ... I honestly don't feel up to copying out the two columns which follow, excellent though my recollection of them is. I do, you know, type my posts with just the one finger.

All you need to know is that the Monsignore does not like Episcopal Conferences, least of all his own. He does not like "young" bishops, who are "often over-moralising, over-dogmatising, and over-sure". And, above all, he dislikes young priests, who are "youngsters", "aggressive", "narcissistic", "Tridentinising". "Unless some opposition to all this backward-looking ecclesiology is forthcoming ... mumble mumble mumble ... growing and clergy-led retreat ... mumble mumble mumble ...  introspective sacristy-sect"....

Historians will be diverted to realise that, while B Paul VI unwisely tried to rid the Church of the curse of gerontocracy by curbing the electoral powers of elderly Cardinals, the Monsignore apparently sees the salvation of the Church as lying entirely in the hands of the elderly. In their richly varied shades of grey, they should flock to Episcopal Conferences and deanery meetings and never stop putting their successors right about everything.

We wrinklies are enormously good at that sort of activity, and generous, to boot. "When I was ABC, what I used to do was DEF ..." "I always found it good practice to GHI...". "I think you will find, as I did, that JKL ...". Our anecdotes (rarely flawed by concise over-abbreviation) never end in our own discomfiture, but always in the confusion of the partes adversae. And it is amazing what excellent wind we still have, even though the advance of the years means that our flecks of spittle are broadcast with perhaps just a tadge less discipline than in the days of our prime.

It's called "being boring".

*I wonder if the periodical which houses the Monsignore's wisdom pays him by the word? This would help to account for his repetitions and fillers. How much in pounds sterling is an extra "many" worth?

11 September 2017

"Monsigor" 'Loftus Part 2; together with Fr Aidan Nichols

Readers will recall the rather explosive (but very necessary) lecture given recently by the doyen of English Catholic academics, the learned Dominican Fr Aidan Nichols. Parts of it were printed in the Catholic Herald; I do urge readers who are not familiar with it to track that news item down on the Internet (sadly, it appears that the piece will not be made available more widely or in full).

Fr Aidan wrote: "[The Pope's] programme would not have got as far as it has were it not the case that theological liberals, very often of the closet variety, have in the fairly recent past been appointed to high positions both in the world episcopate and in the ranks of the Roman Curia."

Rather divertingly, the (?pseudonymous) '"Mgr" Basil Loftus', about whom I wrote yesterday, says exactly the same, from a diametrically opposed theological standpoint. "Slowly but surely national hierarchies are being transformed by Francis' inspired appointments, just as within the Roman Curia there is a similar shift."

Goodness me. Can it really be quite so obvious that episcopal and curial appointments, under this regime, are made, not on the basis of pastoral, personal or doctrinal excellence, but on the dear old Third World principle of cronyism? Is this what the Pope from the Peripheries has brought us?

10 September 2017

Musings from the Little House of Easement Down the Garden; or 'Mgr Loftus' part 1

American friends may be unaware that, in a Third World country like ours, one of our customs is this. Where, as in many areas, particularly of Surrey and Kensington, there is no running water and no 'sewerage system', a little hut at the bottom of the garden is provided as an answer to the Calls, so many, so manifold, and so peremptory, of Nature. 'Night Earth' deposited there is covered daily by a thin covering of soil. Since in many parts of England 'toilet paper' (what is the American term for this?) is unavailable or is too expensive for all but the wealthiest Russian oligarchs, the custom is for the daily newspapers to be cut neatly into smaller rectangles of appropriate size and to be left in a pile to be applied to the person, with as much diligence as may be judged necessary. Such rectangles can, of course, before use, easily afford supplementary reading matter.

That is how I came to find myself looking at a rectangle of newsprint which, I inferrred, had been cut from a journal of Catholic origin. It was an 'opinion piece' by a cleric called ... of course, this is probably a nom de plume ... Mgr Basil Loftus.

'Loftus' is clearly a Bergoglianist, because I read there, in the twilight of the Little House, that "Pope Francis has resolved the culture of ecclesial poverty, the renunciation of carnival custume and pretentious titles, and ...".

At that point I hesitated, and referred just half an inch to the left, to the as-yet unutilised earlier part of the article ... where the author is described as Mgr Basil Loftus.

I scratched my head. Mgr? Surely, that is an Italian abbreviation for Mon Signore? And, surely, that, in English, is My Lord? Is 'Loftus' a barone or a conte? Perhaps even a marchese? In my simple Anglican Patrimony ignorance, I (subsequently) asked a friend ... one of those Cradle Catholics from whom we poor converts have been urged by Mr Ivereigh and his friends to take our religion as from a purer fount ... what Monsignore meant. "Ah", he said, nodding his wise old Cradle Catholic head. "It means that 'Loftus' is a Domestic Chaplain to the Supreme Pontiff".

You can imagine how stunned I was. 'Loftus' is clearly very old; to think of him popping off to Rome every few days to perform the important if menial tasks of laying out the Holy Father's baroque maniples and lacy albs and satin ferraiolas and whatnot indicates a very personal devotion to the Great Man. "Er", said my mentor, "No, 'Loftus' pretty certainly never gets anywhere near the Vatican. If he did, the pope would probably strangle him with one of his maniples. Monsignore and Domestic Chaplain are just  ... well, let's say, just rather pretentious titles ..."

Oh dear. Now I am terribly puzzled. How difficult it is to be a poor ignorant convert.

Do you think 'Loftus' would take me on and give me some private coaching?

To be continued.

9 September 2017

I have now resumed ...

... the reception of messages from the outside world, after my latest fortnight Away From It All. Incidentally, I commend the practice as a useful Aid to Sanity.

I have now enabled Comments on this blog which arrived during the last fortnight, except for one or two which I deemed abusive towards Papa Bergoglio. I say again: whether you like it, whether I like it or not, he is Pope. And that's it.

I have also tried to deal as best I can with the hundreds of emails. If you felt that my reply to you was briefer than you expected, that is why! I do apologise.

And I also apologise if a message of yours somehow went missing.