31 October 2016

"They have uncrowned Him" (5)

In practical terms, the difference between the new teaching of Dignitatis humanae, and the previous doctrine, is not great; it is so technical that those who can live without fine distinctions can certainly live without considering this fine distinction! Because, in practice, the settled principle of the Church was that states may legislate for religious liberty for everybody and are not obliged always to maintain laws oppressive to non-Catholic minorities. (I was interested to discover, at Avignon in the Papal States, a very fine synagogue built there when the French Kingdom, just across the Rhone, discouraged Jewish worship but the Papacy allowed it; and B Pius IX boasted to Mgr Dupanloup that Rome itself contained a Synagogue and a 'Protestant Temple'). The only disagreement concerns the theological principle upon which this freedom to pass laws guaranteeing religious liberty is based. We are not discussing whether a rigorously Catholic Parliament at Westminster would pass a law to prevent Methodists from expanding their over-packed chapels or whether a devoutly Catholic James XIV would feel obliged to Revoke whatever may be the British equivalent of the Edict of Nantes! S Bartholomew's Day need hold no terrors for our few surviving Presbyterians!

The 'fine distinction' is this. The Council declared that "the human person has a right to religious freedom". It went on to declare that "the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person". But the earlier Magisterium taught that the State - if it were a Catholic State - should "protect the citizens against the seductions of error, in order to keep the City in the unity of faith, which is the supreme good", and may regulate and moderate the public manifestations of other cults and defend its citizens against the spreading of false doctrines which, in the judgement of the Church, put their eternal salvation at risk". This teaching (I am quoting, incidentally, from the curial draft which was put before Vatican II but discarded) went on, however, to say that, because of  Christian charity and prudence, a desire to draw dissidents to the Church by kindness, to avoid scandals or civil wars, to obtain civil cooperation and peaceful coexistence, "a just tolerance, even sanctioned by laws, can, according to the circumstances, be imposed".

In other words, non-Catholics in a Catholic state may and perhaps should for good reasons be granted an immunity from coercion. It is not, as the Council asserts, a natural right founded in the dignity of the human person.

There are clever ways round this problem. A Professor Thomas Pink argued that the earlier Magisterium did not in fact assign to the State the right to limit liberty; it took the view that the Church has her rights over those who through baptism are her subjects, so that, if the State did coerce, it was acting on behalf of the Church. In other words, within the assumptions of the Christendom State, which we considered in my first piece, the boundaries between Church and State are coterminous (except, habitually, for the Jews) and the problem of Religious Liberty arises only as this unity dissolves, gradually in the early modern period and catastrophically in the Age of Revolutions.

Another factor which should not be forgotten is that the Council admitted that Scripture provides no basis for novel teaching. Indeed it does not: the entire Old Testament is a consistent assertion of the corporate Judaism State, with nation and cult coterminous. This admission perhaps offers a way ahead. Here we have one of the many respects in which the life of the people of Israel before the Christian era, and belief in the Christendom State, are in close agreement. We have much to learn from our Hebrew inheritance. The integration of Scripture into this dialogue constitutes another piece of unfinished Conciliar business.

Furthermore, the curial draft (which Mgr Lefebvre helpfully provides at the end of his book) itself asserted that "the civil Authority is not permitted in any way to compel consciences to accept the faith revealed by God. Indeed the faith is essentially free and cannot be the object of any constraint." This is not quite the same as to say that the right to religious freedom has its foundations in the dignity of the human person, but are not the two positions within reach of each other?

What must  be accepted is the Right of Christ to rule and the unlawfulness of secular legislation which contradicts his Law. Legislation against the will of God is legislation which the Christian is not simply not bound to obey; it is something which he is obliged to disobey. Christ is King and, as S Paul told the Philippians, our politeuma is from above. It will become all the more important to teach this and to preach it, as the social and legal framework of secular society becomes ever more, year by year, a grotesque and Diabolical inversion and parody of the Civitas Dei. Daily, they uncrown him. Thank God for every archbishop or bishop who has bravely made this point, for every priestly or lay society which has preached Christ as King.

(1) There can be no doubt that the newer elements in Dignitatis humanae are embodied in a Conciliar document ratified by the Roman Pontiff (and, according to his biographer, signed by Archbishop Lefebvre together with an overwhelming majority of the Fathers). But those who promote this teaching will be performing a suppressio veri deserving of grave censure if they fail to state, as the Council did, the abiding authority of the previously established teaching. Because:
(2) The same Council with the same authority reasserted the teaching of the previous Magisterium, without any qualification. Thus any suggestion that people, such as Mgr Lefebvre's followers, who continue to lay great emphasis upon the teaching of the previous Magisterium, are opposing the Magisterium of the Council and of the post-Conciliar Church, would itself be a clear denial of the Council's authority and would seem to me to merit a formal Magisterial correction.

This is the context within which I commend Mgr Lefebvre's book* (although, to be honest, not quite all its rhetorical hyperbole) as essential reading in pursuing tasks which the Council left incomplete.
*Angelus Press and Carmel Books.

30 October 2016

"Intercommunion" in Lund?

Cardinal Burke has recently uttered some very (of course!) wise remarks relating to the sharing of the Sacraments between Catholics and Non-Catholics. See Rorate. But there can be a risk that his words will be misunderstood.

What his Eminence actually talks about is not, formally, the admission of 'Non-Catholics', as such, to the Sacraments. This is because he is well aware that Sacramental Sharing is not merely allowed by the Church's current canonical legislation, but even in some circumstances encouraged. This is most true with regard to those ('Eastern') communities in which the Church recognises the valid existence of her own Sacraments, such as Holy Order and the Eucharist, although outside her own strict canonical unity. Lest, however, there be some who might be tempted to use this fact as a rod with which to beat the 1983 Codex Iuris Canonici, I will again draw the attention of such readers to my pieces on the Church's praxis before 1983 ... in the eighteenth century Aegean and, with the permission of Pope S Pius X himself, in twentieth century Ukraine and Russia.

For obvious reasons, things are much less positive with regard to the ecclesial communities which emerged from the 'reformation'. But, even here, the canonical negative is not absolute.

What Cardinal Burke, with pinpoint accuracy, is concerned to make clear is that, for their own sake, the Eucharist ought not to be offered to those who do not truly believe that the Elements are the Body and Blood of Christ. This is because S Paul made clear that those who so eat and drink, "not discerning the Lord's Body", eat and drink ... nothing less than their own damnation. The current law is very insistent on this point, and properly so.

I will stick my neck out and say that I regard it as very highly improbable that, in Lund, tomorrow, as he visits Swedish Lutherans, the Holy Father will issue any general invitation to Lutherans and Catholics to receive at each other's altars. The most I would regard as within the realms of the remotely possible is some sort of minor move within the limits of what is already permitted by the current law. But even this I strongly doubt. Thirty six hours will show whether I am right! But I do think that some people allow themselves to be upset by unreal fears begotten by simplistic and irresponsible headlines.

Further arguments against any major change include these:
(1) the arrangement could not be made reciprocal, because of the unlikelihood that any Lutheran Orders, even in Sweden, are valid; and
(2) it would understandably profoundly upset those Anglicans who accept the fulness of Catholic Eucharistic teaching if favours were granted to Scandinavian Lutherans (not a few of whom Luther himself would probably not now find it easy to recognise as even Christian) which had not been granted to Catholic Anglicans.

Any slight movement in this area would need to be approached very carefully; it is not the sort of thing that is suitable material for gesturpolitik. Anything that even looked like this would be the height of imprudence.

29 October 2016

Oh dear

The personel changes at the Congregation for Divine Worship look like very bad news for the heroic figure of its Prefect, Cardinal Sarah. It looks as though some crude revenge is taking place ...

Bishop Alan Hopes, a former Anglican, is the only piece of good news I can see on the new list. But, as a bishop with a large diocese, he will not be able to be often in Rome.

But Bad Marini lives in Rome and has a minuscule job ... Eucharistic Congresses ... quid dicamus ...

"They have uncrowned Him" (4)

I return now to what I mentioned in the first of my series: Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's views about Christian and non-Christian Societies ... and, in particular, to the question raised in Dignitatis humanae about the 'rights of Error'. It is with regard to this Decree that a very distinguished Catholic theologian wrote, not very long ago, that it "occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics". And I begin with an anecdote of the Archbishop's which, I believe, goes to the heart of the problem. "Pope John Paul II made [this point] to me on the occasion of the audience that he granted to me on November 18, 1978: 'You know', he said to me, 'religious liberty has been very useful for us in Poland, against communism'".

It is easy to put simply what the ambiguities are. If one is coming from a culture which has been oppressed for a quarter of a century by atheistic Stalinist Communism (and before that, by National Socialism), an obvious truth will prescribe: Religious Liberty must be upheld, therefore the state must cease to prevent Catholic Truth from being upheld. But, against the background of a Christendom State, as we saw it in my first piece, in which the constitution has upheld either explicitly or implicitly the just privileges of the One True Faith taught by the the One True Church, the same truth will receive the expression: Catholic Truth must be upheld, therefore the state must discourage the growth and even the existence of errors against the Truth upheld by the Catholic Church. It is not surprising that S John Paul II, the doughty and effective warrior against a dominant Marxism, and the battle-hardened French Missionary bishop from a background of cultural opposition to the inheritance of the the French Revolution, failed to see eye to eye. Yet those two outworkings of the same principle, for two different contexts, have the same message: Catholic Truth must be upheld. And I could understand that some people might go further and say that, since there are few, if any, Christendom states left, and an increasing number of states in which Catholic Truth is opposed or even persecuted by a new illiberal Secularism or by Islam, we must forget about the second outworking and, out of prudence, make a great deal of the first.

Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP, about whom Fr Aidan Nichols has written a fine book, made this point in a passage which Mgr Lefebvre quotes with approval: "We can ... make of liberty of worship an argument ad hominem against those who, while proclaiming the liberty of worship, persecute the Church (secular and socialising states) or impede its worship (communist states, Islamic ones, etc.). This argument ad hominem is fair, and the Church does not disdain it, using it to defend effectively the right of its own liberty". So far, fair enough. [Those who do not know the real meaning of the phrase Argumentum ad hominem can read my articles via the search engine attached to this Blog; it does not mean "personal attack".]

But Garrigou-Lagrange goes on "But it does not follow that the freedom of cults, considered in itself, is maintainable for Christians in principle, because it is in itself absurd and impious: indeed, truth and error cannot have the same rights". Bang on, surely. Error cannot have rights. But it is not pedantic to observe that the writer is not so much concerned to deny personal liberties to those who belong to such cults as to deny it 'in principle' to the errors asserted by the cults.

Here is the problem: Archbishop Lefebvre, and writers who agree with him, have no difficulty whatsoever in piling up quotations from Popes who wrote before the Council, to the effect that Error has no rights. And the Conciliar Declaration Dignitatis humanae begins with a section including the statement that "it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and of societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ"*. But ... as the Council goes on to "develop" its teaching, it does get quite difficult to see how the so-called 'development' is not in fact a change. This development/change is said to be rooted in a natural right not to be coerced, which is inferred to exist because of the principle that "Man's response to God in Faith must be free."

To be concluded.
*The Conciliar Acta  make clear the enormous importance of this sentence for the process of achieving Conciliar consensus. On November 19 1965 as many as 249 Fathers had voted non placet on the draft before them. At the final vote, on December 6, the number sank to 70 as the result of pressure put on many of the Fathers. Those who reluctantly changed their vote felt enabled to do so in good conscience because of the addition of this sentence as the result of a personal intervention by Pope Paul VI. It will be remembered that Conciliar decrees are expected to have the authority of a 'moral unanimity'. Dignitatis humanae, considered without the sentence added by the Pope, would be a document that lacked that necessary consensus. There is therefore a sense in which it is the most important statement within this whole Declaration, its clavis aperiendi cetera. It is therefore reasonable to insist that whatever else the document may go on to say, must be understood fully in accordance with both the letter and the spirit of that earlier teaching of the Magisterium.

28 October 2016

"They have uncrowned Him" (3)

When we turn from C S Lewis and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to the texts of Vatican II, I do not think we find a contradiction. In Nostra aetate the Council declared: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions". So far, it is in agreement with Lewis and Lefebvre; as it is when it goes on to say that the ethics and teachings of these religions "often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, [the Church] proclaims and must ever proclaim Christ, 'the way, the truth, and the life, in whom men find the fulness of religious life, and in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself'".

I propose now to speak frankly about the Second Holy Ecumenical Council of the Vatican.
(1) With regard even to infallible definitions of dogma by Ecumenical Councils and Roman Pontiffs, it is a commonplace that, while we are bound to accept them as of Divine Faith, we are not necessarily obliged to accept, on the same authority, the arguments which are offered to us in support of a dogma; or the prudential considerations which led to its definition. A fortiori, the same limitations apply to the documents of Vatican II. Because ...
(2) Vatican II, in any case, was not a Council which proposed infallibly any dogmas (except those which were already de fide by virtue of the previous Magisterium, such as the Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption of the Mother of God, the immorality of procured abortions, etc., etc., etc..). And ...
(3) Vatican II professed to be a pastoral Council. It is a statement of the obvious that pastoral needs (and implied audiences) can vary toto caelo between one generation and another, so that the pastoral observations of the Council will not be expected to speak as directly to successive generations as they might have done to the first half of the 1960s. Conciliar documents Of Vatican II, very helpfully, themselves made this clear by referring to mundus hodierni temporis or the like; and the very document we are now considering makes the same point by its programmatic opening words Nostra aetate.

In the context of these observations, I can only say that, as far as I can see, this Decree of the Council deals with a subject of some complexity with an almost scandalously cheerful brevity. And it is woefully over-optimistic. For example, it addresses an implied audience of non-Christians who are keenly and with goodwill open to a positive evaluation by us of their own religions. It does not - for example - address a world (such as our world) in which very many who profess thus to understand their own faith see themselves as engaged in a Holy War to exterminate, by death or by conversion, those who hold our One True Catholic Faith. Accordingly, I regard as distinctively time-conditioned ... well past their sell-by dates ... passages such as "She [the Church] looks with sincere respect upon those ways of conduct and of life, those rules and teachings which, though differing in many particulars from what she holds and sets forth ...". And it is not so much the actual words of the Council which embarrass me as, firstly, its failure to give us some well-chosen observations about the errors of false religions; secondly, its failure to give any guidance as to how we are to reconcile its new teaching with its own statement that the earlier Magisterium remains fully in force; and, thirdly, what I might venture to call its body-language - what it seems at first sight to be saying ... until one looks more carefully.

To be continued.

27 October 2016

"They have uncrowned Him" (2) False Religions?

Continuing to consider Archbishop Lefebvre's book, from my own background in Catholic Anglicanism, I discern in it more than a whiff of that admirable Anglican Ulsterman, C S Lewis. Not that Archbishop Lefebvre, I am sure, will have read him; but because first-rate Christian thinkers so often, laudably, converge. Take a particular tricky theological problem: explaining how souls rooted in a false religion may find their way to God, without asserting - or leading others to think you mean - that all religions are more or less as good as each other: 'syncretism' or 'indifferentism'. Mgr Lefebvre writes " ... in the false religions, certain souls can be oriented towards God; but this is because they do not attach themselves to the errors of their religion! It is not through their religion that these souls turn towards God, but in spite of it! Therefore, the respect that is owed to these souls would not imply that respect is owed to their religion". And: " ... these religions [he has just mentioned Islam and Hinduism] can keep some sound elements, signs of natural religion, natural occasions for salvation; even preserve some remainders of the primitive revelation (God, the fall, a salvation), hidden supernatural values which the grace of God could use in order to kindle in some people the flame of a dawning faith. But none of these values belongs in its own right to these false religions ... The wholesome elements that can subsist still belong by right to the sole true religion, that of the Catholic Church; and it is this one alone that can act through them"*.

I think this is admirably expressed, and it reminds me strongly of the penultimate chapter in Lewis's The Last Battle. A young Calormene, brought up in the worship of the false god Tash, meets the Lion Aslan, the Christ-figure in Lewis's rich narrative. "Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days, and not him. ... But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true ... that thou and Tash art one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. ... Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I also said (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek".

Whatever in the cult of Tash predisposed the young man to seek the Glorious One still belongs by right to the sole true religion, that of the Catholic Church; it does not belong of right to the cult of Tash. It is not through what is proper to the cult of Tash that he comes to Christ: that is to say, through its errors, but in spite of it. Because Tash and Aslan are opposites.

And it is worth being precise and reminding ourselves that Nostra aetate does not say that we respect the Islamic religion; but Moslems.

To be continued.
*I think it is clear that Mgr Lefebvre has here in mind the wise teaching of Unitatis redintegratio para 4. " ... haec omnia, quae a Christo proveniunt et ad Ipsum conducunt, ad unicam Christi Ecclesiam iure pertinent"  where iure was added to the text on the orders of Pope Paul VI.

26 October 2016

"They have uncrowned Him" (1) Archbishop Lefebvre

As we approach the great Festival of Christus Rex, I am reminded of Archbishop Lefebvre's book with the above title. When I first read that volume, I was struck by a great sense of familiarity ... combined with an overwhelming awareness of unfamiliarity.

The familiarity? The understanding of Society which I found on his pages is radically similar to what, for most of its existence since 1559, would have been seen as the distinctive mark of Anglicanism ... yes, even more so than 'episcopacy' or 'Patristicism'. I invite readers to let their imagination take them back to the English countryside before the Industrial Revolution or the Catholic Revival; to the Squire and the Parson (each of them probably 'two-bottle men', or better) drinking to "Church and King" or "Church and State". The understanding was that the Crown defended the Church, and the Church upheld the Crown (a view that Gallican Frenchmen might have shared). There had been a decade of hiatus in the middle of the seventeenth century; but that had become just a bad memory. True, there were ambiguities after the Dutch Invasion; as Squire and Parson raised their glasses together, perhaps the candlelight glinted on some words etched into the glasses ... Redeat Magnus ille Genius Brittaniae ... and perhaps there was a bowl of water on the table ... and perhaps Sophie Western in her lofty bower heard the drunken voices downstairs rise in song to 'bless our King ... soon to reign over us' or to peer into a future 'when the King shall have his own again'. But the implicit ideology, of a Christian state, of a 'realm', lay beneath it all as a solid foundation.

In this sense, if you wanted to call classical cultural Anglicanism 'Lefebvrian', people might find you rather eccentric but you could make a strong case for your eccentricity, as long as you made it clear that you were referring to the old 'High and Dry' churchmen more than to the new enthusiasts of the Tractarian and Evangelical movements.

The unfamiliarity? A vivid scene described early in the Archbishop's book: we are inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where the painter David has been prostituting his skills in the interests of a new ideology, and has turned from oils to papier-mache; instead of the altare Dei and the August Presence, there is a 'mountain' with a 'Greek' temple, occupied by an agreeable petite danseuse deemed to be the Goddess Reason and surrounded by her associates singing 'hymns'; then a small gathering moves off to the Assembly so that its President can embrace 'la Deesse'. The date? 20 Brumaire, in the Year II. The Capetian uncrowned, the Redeemer dethroned, the very Calendar remade.

British Society has never since 1660 experienced quite such a brutal and total moment of discontinuity, which has marked the whole of later history and has bequeathed such rigidly defined polarities. If Britain had done a deal with Hitler in 1941, Buckingham Palace might very probably have been occupied by Wallace Simpson and a bevy of German Advisers, but EDWARDUS VIII DEI GRATIA REX INDIAE IMPERATOR would have appeared on the coins, the royal standard would still have fluttered from the flagpole, and there would have been a continuity of outward forms.

French history, on the other hand, has been marked by repeated discontinuities in the rituals and the forms, so that under Marshal Petain the Revolutionary motto and symbols in their turn give way to coins inscribed Travail Famille Patrie and bearing a Gallique Francisque. I am inclined to feel that an Englishman has little hope of understanding Lefebvre (or possibly many other Frenchman) if he fails to understand this.

His Excellency the Archbishop described 'the social doctrine of the Church' thus:  
"Society is not a shapeless mass of individuals, but an arranged organism of coordinated and hierarchically arranged social groups: the family, the enterprises and trades, then the professional corporations, finally the state. The corporations unite employers and workers in the same profession for the protection and the promotion of their common interests. The classes are not antagonistic, but naturally complementary".
You could call this ideal 'Corporatism' and recall with distaste that it appealed to Mussolini; or 'Toryism' and remember that as early as 1749 Henry Fielding was ridiculing it as old-fashioned; but it has broad links with the Catholic High Medieval Society which John Bossy described in the 1980s and the disappearance of which the Anglican 'Radical Orthodox' Catherine Pickstock lamented as the basis of modern, atomised, individualism.

Our more gradual British revolutions and our shyness about disturbing inherited symbols deny us the clarity afforded to Frenchmen by the almost comic abruptness of their own episodic cultural transformations; but have we not now all ended up in very much the same place?


To be continued.

25 October 2016

Father Tim ...

If anybody hasn't noticed that Father Tim of Margate has resumed blogging regularly, then I'm telling you! Congratulations to Father for his return to health and good Liturgy and elegant, erudite blogposts!

THE HERMENEUTIC OF CONTINUITY is as active as ever!!

Fatima (6): the Conversion of Russia

I think we should see the Conversion of Russia from the ecclesiological perspective outlined in my Fatima (5) piece. And, for those unfamiliar with this, I allude also to the willingness of that great Pope S Pius X to envisage communicatio in Sacris between Catholics and Orthodox in Russia (facts in my piece of 22 November 2014).

When our Lady at Fatima contingently foretold the Conversion of Russia, I do not think that she meant that every single Russian would automatically become a a faithful and sacramentally regular worshipper (as I do not think that  her promise about the preservation of the Faith in Portugal was falsified by the referendum vote of 2007 to admit abortion). That, this side of the Eschaton, is not the sort of place we are in. Nor, I think, did she mean that Patriarch Cyril and all Russians would immediately come into full juridical communion with the See of S Peter. What she did mean, surely, is something which can embrace (but is not exhausted in) the revival currently going on within the post-Soviet Russian Patriarchate, as well as in the other parts of the former Soviet bloc, such as the Ukraine.

[Incidentally, I have been told (was I misinformed?) that, during Patriarch Cyril's recent visit to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Russian Orthodoxy in this country, the Anglican incumbents of Canterbury and London (Chartres presumably proudly wearing his enkolpion) were present, and a Coptic bishop, but not the Archbishop of Westminster. I imagine an invitation did go to Westminster and that probably a representative was sent. This would suggest a more nuanced and tactful approach to Ukrainian sensitivities than Pope Francis was able to manage at that bungled meeting in Cuba! I wonder if Eparchial Bishop Hlib had a quiet word with Vin ... ]

24 October 2016

Homosexualist ideologues

News has come through that the Ulster Appeal Court has published its judgement on the case of the Protestant Bakery fined for refusing to ice homosexualist propaganda onto a cake. The conviction stands. So does this mean that the homosexualists will be able to queue up outside the bakery daily to make the the same requests until the fines and damages bankrupt the business? The 'Gay Marriage' which the cake was intended to demand is in fact not legal in Northern Ireland; so will followers of other non-legal causes such as paederasts or murderers be able to employ the same logic and order cakes with the message "Free Inter-generation Love" or "Cacothanasia Now", and profitably take their cases through the courts?

Incidentally, has the Catholic hierarchy been speaking in sympathy for these Protestants who, at personal risk, espouse the teaching of the Church on some sexual matters? Is it not part of the Church's ecumenical policy, since Vatican II, to affirm with joy those "elements of the Church" which may be found among Separated Brethren?

At the same time, we have another trendy policy: the suppression of the convictions of subjects of the Crown who were convicted of homosexual acts back in the days when such acts were illegal. I rather wonder how far back these historical amnesties will go. Will they merely encompass those still alive? I could see a certain human kindliness in that. OK. But if the game goes back to embrace the now dead (as it did in the case of the pardon granted to Alan Turing), the additional question, surely, arises of How Far Back Do We Go? What logic could there be in having any particular cut-off point anywhere? Similar questions arise with regard to the granting of Free Pardons to those shot for cowardice during the First War.

And what about the women burned as witches? The Protestants burned under Henry VIII and his off-spring and the Catholics HDQed under Bloody Bess? Titus Oates' victims? Those executed after the '45? Casement and Lord Haw Haw?

But, of course, under our Constitution, Parliament can do anything. What a lot of problems this can solve. Changing the Past is a prime example of what the ancients called an adunaton, an impossible thing. If all the adunata are now potentially dunata, why stop at any fashionable or convenient fantasy? Why only reconstruct the Past by decree? Why this prejudice against also reconstructing by administrative fiat the Present and the Future? Why doesn't Parliament just enact that Global Warming has never happened and is not happening? Instead of erecting expensive flood defences, why don't we just have an Order in Council enacting that the Somerset Levels will not be flooded? We could all live happily for ever after, in Fairyland, especially the people of Somerset, who would be comforted by the sure and certain reassurance that the water swirling round their necks could not possibly be a flood.

Winston in 1984 spent his entire working life rewriting the past. I wonder if Orwell ever suspected how soon his sick prophecy would be made into a gruesome reality.

I don't for one moment think there is any real desire for 'justice' involved in daft attempts to rewrite the past.

It is simply a matter of the homosexualist ideologues making clear "We are the Masters now, and we want to watch you bastards squirm". In the idiolect of the Zeitgeist, this is called "Diversity".

What a very unpleasant spectacle it all is.

23 October 2016

Quicunque vult, commonly called the 'Athanasian Creed' or 'QV'

Those of you who wisely keep an eye on the St Lawrence Press ORDO will have noticed that today is among a small number of Sundays upon which 'QV' is to be said. 

"The most simple and sublime, the most devotional formulary to which Christianity has given birth".

That is how Blessed John Henry Newman, with his superb gift for lapidary precision, described the 'Athanasian Creed'. Since the Holy See saw fit to give Newman to the English Ordinariate as a Patron, I feel that this superbly credal canticle ought to be in the forefront of the mission of the Ordinariate to repair the lacunae in the day-by-day teaching of the modern Catholic Church; and it certainly ought to be recited regularly in the Divine Office.

Newman often sprang to the defence of this Creed, and our Tractarian Fathers (and their successors during the Prayer Book controversies of 1927-8) fought for its retention in Anglican worship. The most recent occasion upon which I felt a great temptation myself to spring to the defence of the Quicunque vult was during one of the less good lectures during our 'formation'. A lecturer told us this anecdote: one of his regular students had found, on the the EWTN website, the teaching that Christ is "equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood." He had felt it necessary to explain to his students that this was heretical, and had encouraged them to write to EWTN and explain that they were promoting heresy (he actually used this unfashionable term). Looking meaningfully at us, with a nod and a wink, he regretted that none of his students had yet done so.

During that 'formation', I maintained a principle of not offering corrections of howlers promoted by the lecturers, lest (mirabile dictu) I should appear to be a troublemaker. But I felt obliged to enter into an email correspondence with the joker concerned, pointing out that this 'heresy' was not only in the Athanasian Creed, but in the Tome of S Leo (and hence inter acta Concilii Chalcedoniensis). It is present in S Augustine and I tracked it down in most of the Latin Fathers. Eventually, very grudgingly, he made some sort of vague retraction (but, of course, not publicly).

S Pius V's Breviary anticipated this Creed being said at the Divine Office on most Sundays; although, in effect, by the twentieth century, it was very rarely said because a commemoratio 'excused' its omission from Prime. The Book of Common Prayer prescribed its use a dozen times a year. During the aetas Bugniniana it was eventually dislodged from its last Catholic toehold, Trinity Sunday.

S Pius V, and Thomas Cranmer, were dead right in this consensus. And, today, the 'Athanasian Creed' is as necessary as ever it was. Trinitarian errors still abound, and many of our present woes arise from faulty beliefs with regard to Catholic teaching about the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union. Dorothy Sayers, a major part of our Anglican theological Patrimony but sadly almost forgotten even among those who should know better, wrote immensely well about this in her The Mind of the Maker (especially Chapter 10; it's on the Internet).

22 October 2016

New York

I decided I really had better nip over to New York and commune with Subleyras' fine portrait of Benedict XIV in the Met ... you would expect no less of me ... and I have to tell you that His Holiness is not sanguine about the current state of the Church. But I will be able to give you more detail about that in the weeks ahead.

I took the opportunity to avail myself of the very great privilege of celebrating and preaching in the fine church at Norwalk in Connecticut over which a fellow Oxonian, Dr Richard Cipolla of Cardinal College, a hospitable host, presides to such splendid effect. It is most impressive; the liturgy runs like the smoothest clockwork and the Music is in the charge of the mighty, impeccable, and infallible David Hughes. I had the unusual experience of being congratulated by no fewer than two of my hearers on preaching a sermon full of  Ciceronian praeteritio. You don't often get that class of comment on this side of the water. One truly 'traditional' feature of the church is that, as part of the reredos of the High Altar, it has a newly painted picture of the Assumption of the Theotokos, which pictures the old and ecumenical muthoi about the events surrounding her Glorification; those stories which, to all intents and purposes, Papa Pacelli did rather prune away.

By the generous courtesy of the Society of S Hugh of Cluny, I was able to speak both in Norwalk and in New York, where I had the great joy of meeting a long-time and erudite friend: Professor Bill Tighe, who walks in and out of the prosopography of the Tudor Court as if he has never lived anywhere else, and who is the historical expert on the Demise of Anglicanism. And Professor John Rao, presiding genius of the Roman Forum ... and, by the way, numbers are already looking very promising for next summer's (Silver Jubilee!) Gardone Riviera colloquium. Get in there fast!! And I had the pleasure of meeting other Gardone friends, young and old; and of making new ones.

A special Thank You to Stuart and Jill Chessman,  and their son Stuart, who put themselves to so much trouble to facilitate my week.

21 October 2016

Fatima (5): More Martyrs

In the fine CDF documents Communionis notio and Dominus Iesus, the Church's Magisterium clarified the position of those Christian bodies which possess true ministry and Sacraments. This does clarification most certainly not imply, as some people have foolishly argued, that "the Orthodox Church" is a "sister Church" of "the Catholic Church". Nor does it mean that "the Moskow Patriarchate" is "a sister Church" of the "Latin Church".

By "particular Church", what is meant is a Church constituted organically with a Bishop, his presbyterate, his diaconate, and all the holy People of God. That is a true Church by divine right, and, incidentally, this is why from time to time it becomes necessary to remind everybody that Catholic ecclesiology has no place for "national Churches"; and views with justified suspicion any movements towards giving Episcopal Conferences anything other than minmal and practical functions. As Cardinal Mueller once wisely said, we must never think of the Chairpersons of Episcopal Conferences as any sort of vice-popes. Nor, as he made clear, must Conferences and their bureaucracies come between the Diocesan Bishop and the Bishop of Rome, each of whom (unlike the Conferences) is iure divino.

What this definition of "Particular Church" means is, for example, that the Diocese of S Petersburg, and the diocese of Brentwood, are true sister Churches; it being understood that the Diocese of S Petersburg is a true particular Church but "wounded" by its separation from the See of S Peter; and the Diocese of Brentwood is wounded by the schism which hinders the Catholic Chuch from realising and manifesting the complete fulfillment of her universality in history.

This, I think, is why we need have no hesitation in recognising those Coptic peasants who, murmuring the Name of their Redeemer, had their throats cut on that Mediterranean beach as "our" martyrs.

18 October 2016

Cardinal Cupich ...

... is undoubtedly right to suggest that, when people have in conscience come to a particular conclusion, we should follow and support them. He has my support, 150%. I am filled with enthusiasm for where his principles, in my judgement, will lead.

Clearly, when a paedophile priest concludes that, in carefully judged and exceptional circumstances, his caring and loving attentions to a child are for the good, and for the maturity, of that child (a conclusion identical with the wisdom of ancient Athenian aristocratic society), it is not for sick, narrow-minded and crabbed "Traditionalists" to interfere. Few things even in the Ratzinger pontificate were more disgraceful than his use in this context of the word "Filth". Talk about stirring up prejudice!!

And when it becomes clear to a conscientious politician that a carefully controlled and, of course, limited experiment in genocide is the best way of eliminating divisive and unproductive inter-ethnic frictions, the "Traditionalists" should not be allowed to intrude their own private opinions into the public forum. "Keep your hands off my gas chambers/machetes" should be our slogan. Clergy should keep well out of politics. 'Freedom of Worship', yes; but no freedom for those who wish to impose their own prejudice-ridden religious hang-ups upon an open and pluralist society. They must be 'No-platformed' in order to preserve a 'Safe Space' for women and men of Conscience.

True, S John Paul II in his Veritatis splendor claimed that there were certain sorts of things which were always objectively and totally wrong, but we all know where to advise the "Traditionalists" to shove that peculiarly antiquated document ... as well as Familiaris consortio and all the Ratzinger stuff.

Cupich may not, himself, have yet discerned the full exciting promise and beautiful ultimate flowering of his teachings, but he is entitled to be thought of as the true godfather of the Even Newer Morality of the Even More Caring Church! A real place in History!

18 October: S Eadnoth of Dorchester

The 1,000 anniversary of the Heavenly Birthday, Natale, of S Eadnoth Bishop of Dorchester. He was killed while saying Mass during the Battle of Assandun.

The victorious Danes killed him; I expect I will be criticised for suggesting that it shows more respect ... indeed, fear ... for the power of the Sacrifice of the Mass, to kill the priest who is offering it for the victory of your enemies than it does just to dismiss the Eucharist as some irrelevance by which nobody need feel threatened. Might the recent killer of Fr Hamel be a millimetre closer to Truth than the Obama, with its campaign to replace the 'Freedom of Religion' which it so loathes with a 'Freedom of Worship' about which it couldn't care less?

S Eadnoth ended up being buried at Ely. His own Cathedral Church at Dorchester, just South of Oxford, was to lose that status half a century later under the Normans, when the sedes episcopalis was transferred to Winchester. S Eadnoth's church, or rather, the gothic Abbey Church built over its site, was once, but is no longer, a dynamic Anglo-Catholic centre with a Missionary College attached.

At the beginning of this millennium, the shrine of its founder S Birinus was reconstructed. That reconstruction is superbly emblematic of all that is pathetic about a faded and meaningless middle-of-the-road Anglicanism devoid of real content. On top of the now pointless masonry there is no feretory containing relics; attached to its west end there is no Altar for the August Sacrifice. The C of E is terribly good at milking 'heritage' and demonstrating a polite interest in the past, but has no real awareness of any interaction between the Now and the Supernatural. (The church is in the hands of a 'woman priest'.) In Kenneth Kirk's pontificate, the Anglican Bishop Suffragan of Dorchester was permitted, once a year on S Birinus' feast in December, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester with all the dignities of a Diocesan Bishop, including the presence of the famed and feared Staggers Serving Team commanded by Canon Couratin.  

Sic transit gloria mundi.

But you can find the supernatural a little way away, in the lovely little Victorian Catholic Church of S Birinus, beautifully restored by the admirable Fr Osman, who celebrates the Old Mass in it, and was one of the 45 assertores Veritatis who signed the recent Letter to the Cardinals.

Luci cedant tenebrae, et cedunt.

16 October 2016

A Fatima Holy Year ? (1)

Last Thursday was the 99th anniversary of the last Fatima Apparition: the one which included the Miracle of the Sun. Next year, May 13 is the centenary of the First Apparition.

We get a lot of Special Years. Some are more overtly successful than others. Pius XII had a liking for Marian Years. I had great hopes of the Pauline Year, a joint initiative of the Sees of Rome and New Rome, since I feel close to the S Paul whose epistles I taught for nearly three decades, to the great benefit of myself, whatever the experience may have done to my students. Pope Benedict hoped that the Year of Faith would open the pages of Vatican II. Now we have the Year of Mercy; its spiritual graces are known to God. But in PR terms, it has been cleverly managed; all those doors have served to keep the idea alive in the minds of many.

2017 should be a Fatima Year. Clearly, the Vatican has not pronounced it such. But Papal bright ideas are not the only gifts the Almighty has for his Church. It is open to bishops, priests, and people to create a Holy Year which, rather than being imposed from above upon us below, arises spontaneously from the love God has set in our hearts for His immaculate Mother ... a Holy Year by popular acclamation and devotion.

Arrangement are in hand for the Travelling Statue, blessed by Roman Pontiffs, to tour this country accompanied by relics of two of the visionaries ... I wonder if it will include Oxford in its travels. Many will recall the spectacular grace-filled visit of S Therese in 2009: the Oratory crawling with Pontifical Masses, Private Masses, queues for the confessionals, Solemn EF Vespers, Rosaries galore  ...

The most holy Theotokos protected Christendom from Islamic onslaughts so many times over two millennia; who would have thought that we would be calling on the hypermakhos strategos yet again in this third millennium? Has she got to do it all over again: pounding from the slaughter-painted poop, Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop, Scarlet running over on the silver and the golds, Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds ... In our own Western societies, our home-grown corruptions are, possibly, even more corrosively dangerous than the external threats because we have grown resigned to them. We can arrange our own domestic problems for the Victrix of Lepanto to line up in her sights.

The Victory is already won. Her Son has said tharseite, ego nenikeka ton kosmon: where (John 16:33) the Greek perfect tense nenikeka indicates a present fact constituted by a decisive action in the past. The Victory is there; mopping up operations are all that is left.

That is why our Lady of Victories can confidently predict: My Immaculate Heart will prevail.

15 October 2016

An interesting little old document (2)

At the heart of the Liturgical Commission which produced this document were men whose life had involved the constant use of the Canon Romanus, or sympathetic study of it. Canon A H Couratin; Professor E C Ratcliffe; Dr R C D Jasper; Dr G G Willis. I think their presence largely shaped the structure and details of this draft Eucharistic Prayer.

The intrusive, unscriptural, orientalising, notion that the Holy Spirit needs to be invoked in order to accomplish the Consecration of the Eucharistic Elements, is totally absent from this draft. I must explain that the 'Epiclesis' had in fact, rather earlier, been quite popular. It had been part of the 'ecumenical' and highly influential rites produced by the Church of South India (1954), and the Taize Community (1962). More important, it had featured even earlier in the (abortive) 1928 Eucharistic Prayer. But the popularity of the 'Epiclesis' among Anglicans interested in Liturgy suffered from its having been associated with '1928'. This was because the persuasive and popular figure of Dom Gregory Dix argued vigorously in his highly influential The Shape of the Liturgy (1945) that it was 'unprimitive'. And although Dix was as mistakenly enthusiastic as his contemporaries in his promotion of the work then, erroneously, thought to be the Apostolic Tradition of 'Hippolytus', his own edition of that document argued that the Invocation of the Spirit was not original to it. It is probably largely because of Dix's very determined hatchet-job on '1928' that it, and the epiclesis, never resurfaced in the liturgical politics of the two post-war decades.

Less well-known than Dix, but equally dismissive of 'epicletic' notions of Eucharistic Consecration, was my own much-loved teacher, to whom I owe a lot, the great Canadian scholar G D Kilpatrick, Dean Ireland Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture in this University. The Experimental Liturgy which he published (Remaking the Liturgy 1967), and which we experienced in a 'demonstration celebration' at Staggers (Kilpatrick's own former seminary), had no truck with any sort of Epiclesis.

The Second Series had been drafted in 1965. In that terrible 'year of revolutions' 1968, the Vatican authorised the three disastrous 'Alternative Eucharistic Prayers' which have so blighted the life of the Latin churches, and all three of them in lemming-like harmony incorporated sub-Eastern-style Epicleses. As the Anglican generation which had known Dix, Jasper, Willis, and Ratcliff, gradually passed away, the silly mistakes currently being made with such single-minded enthusiasm by 'Rome' increasingly exercised a mesmerising influence on Anglican liturgical 'reform'. It seemed so much more important to "do Liturgy ecumenically" than to be rooted in the ancient traditions. Thus, and thus quickly, can fashionable liturgical corruptions become embedded in the world-wide praxis of more than one ecclesial body. Accordingly, when a version of the Series Two Eucharistic Prayer was authorised in 1973 with the exciting title Series Three, it incorporated the phrase "Grant by the power of your Spirit". And, since then, this foolish fad has remained a constant in the tedious and endless Anglican parlour-game of composing Eucharistic Prayers. Perhaps it reached its high point in Prayer 3 of the 2004 Church of Ireland Prayer Book, where the Epiclesis is addressed directly to the Holy Spirit instead of to the Father.

However, for the two happy decades 1945-1965, a great classical generation of liturgical scholars in the Church of England had known very much better than did the post-Conciliar Rome of Bugnini, Botte, and Vagganini.

Thereafter, the blind unquestioningly followed the blind, as the silly fellows still do.

But we in the Ordinariate know better!

14 October 2016

A courageous Cardinal

I can understand brother priests who feel that, admirable though the views of Cardinal Sarah are, now is not yet really quite the right moment to stick one's head above the bullet-scarred parapet and to begin the gradual, gentle, pastoral, catechised move to restore ad Orientem worship.

But I urge them to read the extracts available in translation on the internet (Fr Z; Chiesa ...) from his latest book. And to consider the simple courage of this wise and godly man. And to remember that the dissuasions of some other hierarchs have been based on a mistranslation of Latin and bad advice from somebody about the Law.

After Sarah's London paper on the subject, his appeal was immediately subverted, publicly, by other cardinals and bishops. Yet he now reiterates his call and points out that no priest needs any permission from anyone to celebrate facing the same way as the people. (Compare the very similar appeal to Subsidiarity in Summorum Pontificum.) In other words, attempts by prelates cuiuslibet dignitatis to give the impression that they can inhibit their subjects from doing this are quite simply extra-legal ... pressures. If they do invoke 'law', they are ill-informed (not, I hope, mendacious).

Clergy might, I most humbly suggest, ask themselves how they will feel if ... just for the moment, of course ... they ignore Sarah's appeal ... and the forces pitted against him then succeed in getting him hung out to dry.

The possibility of this is suggested by his own hint that the Holy Father (as well as the Vatican Press Office chappies) might not like his return to the topic of reforming the reform; and his insistence that the Pope "must" prevent arrogant intellectuals from stealing the patrimony of authentic Catholic worship from God's poor.

In practical and pastoral terms, I will pass on a point someone made at the Ordinariate Plenary Meeting only yesterday: if you do the Liturgy of the Word at the Seat, and return to the Seat for the oratio post communionem, facing ad Orientem simply for the Eucharistic Prayer, Our Father, and Fraction, you will actually not have been "turning your back on the people" for very long. Also from the Patrimony: remember that in a transitional period you could face the people at some Masses and not others; on some Sundays of the Month and not others.

And I beg brother clergy not to listen to some fiercely hard-line traddies, who actually prefer the Novus Ordo to be done in a certain sort of way, including ad populum, and as badly as possible, so that the Extraordinary Form is left as the only solution still on offer to the the crisis facing Catholic Worship (as Cardinal Sarah recently described it). This attitude is quite simply (IMO) sectarian and divisive and elitist.

Readers from the Anglican Patrimony will also recall the persecutions, more than a century ago, unloaded upon our own clergy who were restoring worship ad Orientem; and the trial (and trials) of the saintly bishop Edward King of Lincoln. (To think that the same battles, apparently, now have to be refought in the Catholic Church! How persuasive the Enemy is!)

Since the Cardinal's latest book is on the subject of Silence, the Anglican Patrimony can also offer the following supportive words from C S Lewis's Screwtape Letters.

The devil Screwtape says: Music and Silence - how I detest them both! ... Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless and virile - Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. ... The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. ...

Cardinal Sarah, dear Eminence: this poor Ordinariate member, at least, offers his prayers for you; and admires your courage as much as he does your wisdom.

The Universal Church is very much in your debt. God bless you.


Yet again! ... I will be taking a break from incoming computer traffic, including emails and Comments offered to the blog, from now, October 14, until October 21 inclusively. I hope to manage a blogpost most days.

By the way ... I do not enable comments arguing that, for whatever reason, Bergoglio is not the lawful Bishop of Rome. Recently, too, I did not accept something written in Croatian. This is because I gather that the English Bishops consider that bloggers are responsible for the comments they allow. And I do not think I can rely upon Google translators to reveal accurately to me the sense of a piece of Serbo-Croat.

When I took over my desk at Lancing in 1972, I found in one of the drawers a 1930s Serbo-Croat phrasebook with delicious entries such as "At what time does the Airship leave for Zagreb?". Sadly, I did not keep it.


A couple of people have rebuked me for talking about "Serbo-Croat". Well, if you insist, I'm sorry. But that was how the booklet described itself. You can hardly expect me to dissemble the Truth ...

13 October 2016

An interesting little old document (1)

We are about fifty years from the publication of an Anglican document called Alternative Service Second Series. It was a significant moment in liturgical reform within the Church of England. I want to share a few words about its (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to provide a Eucharistic Prayer which would rescue the Church of England from the Reformation dichotomies.

My argument: that it produced a very clever immensely brief summary of the Roman Canon which, on the (certainly questionable) assumption that such a brief summary was actually needed, was in every possible way better than the Pseudo-Hippolytan Trattoria-in-the-Trastevere Prayer which is now all but universal in the Latin Church. I will print this Prayer, indicating which of the paragraphs in the Canon each line summarises. I have put within {curly brackets} those words which do not relate to the central part of the Canon Romanus.

Hear us, O Father, through Christ thy Son our Lord;        Te igitur
through him accept                                                                 Te igitur
our sacrifice of praise;                                                            Memento
{and grant} that these gifts                                                    Te igitur
of bread and wine may be unto us his body and blood    Quam oblationem
Who ...                                                                                       Qui ...
Wherefore, O Lord, having in remembrace his saving passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his glorious ascension into heaven, {and looking for the coming of his kingdom,} we offer unto thee this bread and this cup;                                                                  Unde et memores
and we pray thee to accept                                                     Supra quae
this our duty and service                                                        Hanc igitur
in the presence of thy divine majesty,                                  Supplices
through the same Christ our Lord;                                         Per quem
By whom and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty,                                                                                   Per Ipsum
from the whole company of earth and heaven,                    Communicantes and Nobis quoque
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.                   Per omnia saecula ...

In the discussion which will occupy the second half of this piece, I do not intend to go over the (ultimately successful) Evangelical campaign to eliminate we offer ... this bread and this cup. I am more interested in the fact that there is here no Invocation of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the Eucharistic Elements. What we do have here is best understood as an intelligent (and amazingly terse!) expression of the old Roman (and rather 'binitarian') idea, preceding the sudden fourth century explosion of interest in the Holy Spirit, that the elements are 'consecrated' by their acceptance by the Father. This would, I admit, be a trifle clearer if the Prayer had omitted the superfluous words {and grant}. 

[{and looking for the coming of his kingdom} I attribute to the enthusiasm of the 1960s for seeing everything Eschatologically.]

To be continued.

12 October 2016


I think it was immensely witty of our beloved Holy Father to give Dr Welby a reproduction of S Gregory's crosier ... there must be a sermon in that ... but it would have said more for poor Welby's own sense of humour (oxymorologizo?) if he had given Bergoglio in return a reproduction of S Pius V's triregnum.

What will Bergoglio give the Swedish Lutheran 'bishops' at the end of this month as they venerate together the Stuprator Borae? I'm putting my bets on a jumbo-size Plenary Indulgence, accompanied by a whopping invoice and a framed photograph of S Peter's in Vaticano.

Newman and Liberalism and the Spirit of the Antichrist

When Newman received the biglietto signifying his elevation to the rank of Cardinal, he made a speech which has often been quoted; and I am going to quote it yet again and not least because it beautifully enunciates the essential continuity of his life as a Catholic with his years as an Anglican. But, at the end, I wish to draw attention to a very important realisation of Newman's which is not so often quoted or appreciated. So here he goes:

For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. ... the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are a matter of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. ... As to Religion, it is a private luxury which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not intrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

[Note the deft, almost imperceptible skill - so characteristic - with which Newman points to us the paradox that this 'liberalism' is itself a doctrine, an imposed and inexorable dogma. But it is his next observation which, I feel, gives us tremendous material for thought; when he adds that:]

There is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true ... justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence .... 

[Ah, we incautiously surmise, Liberalism isn't too bad after all; he admits that Liberalism has its Good Side. But no. Newman has tricked us. He is playing exactly the opposite game. In the spirit of the argumentum ad hominem, he is about to pounce. Let us watch carefully, and analyse, how the cat jumps.

Remember that in his earlier years Newman had been preoccupied with the concept of Antichrist. At the heart of this biblical notion, there is a realisation that the greater an evil and the closer it comes to Ultimate Evil, the more sumptuously the Enemy adorns it with rags and tatters of the good and the true and the noble. An error will be so much more dangerous precisely because it has been made to look so beautiful. So ... Blessed John Henry goes on:]

There never was a device of the Enemy, so cleverly framed, and with such promise of success.

Snap! Gotcha!

Despite its superficial charms, indeed, because of its apparent beauties, Liberalism is diabolical, a trick of Satan.

There is a great warning for us as we, more than a century later, face the devices of the Enemy in our own time.

Just one modern example of this will be enough for today: our blessed Lord did not say to the woman in the Johannine pericope de adultera "Go; and sin some more". Whenever, whoever, decks out encouragement or tolerance of adultery in nobly coloured biblical garments, whether 'Mercy' or any other scriptural tags, we know that the Spirit of the Antichrist is abroad.

11 October 2016

The US of A; and the Anglican Use Mass

It is kind of readers to wish me well; I have never been to those more Arctic parts of North America before. The last time I headed across the Herring Pond it was to the pleasantly cosy climes of the Lone Star State ... I think, my fourth visit there. I had already got to know the admirable Fr Allan Hawkins and the warm welcome of his people, not least when I preached a Lenten Course there; my next experience was getting to know Fr Christopher Phillips and the vibrant, growing church and school he had built in San Antonio. A school, incidentally, in which Latin is well provided for! The Commencement Addresses I was privileged to give more or less wrote themselves!

What particularly struck me and impressed me at our Lady of the Atonement was the large number of Hispanic worshippers at the Anglican Use liturgies. I wondered what poor Dr Cranmer would have thought if he could have had a vision (or perhaps I mean an audition), as he walked towards the stake in the Oxford city ditch outside Balliol College, of prayers he had composed flowing with such cheerful ease from the lips of Catholic descendants of the Spanish subjects of good King Philip (I of England and II of Spain)!

The Liturgy at the Atonement does not include the Extraordinary Form, but it is done in a traditional idiom which would would have made it instantly recognisable to the original worshippers at the Texan Spanish Mission churches I was taken to see, in the Northern part of New Spain. The Hispanic members of the Atonement congregation seemed at least as enthusiastic about the fare they were receiving as did the Anglo-Saxons; they were clearly going to Mass there because they sensed that it provided them with something hard-wired into their genes.

The Ordinariate form of Mass manifestly has a much broader appeal than merely to ex-Anglicans or merely to the English (and Scots and Welsh). This is, quite simply, because it taps back into the Great Tradition; it re-establishes links with the grammar by which Western and Eastern Europeans worshipped for a couple of millennia. And that style of worship, penetrated throughout by the numinous, lasted so long and spread so far and so wide simply because, for generation after generation, it measured up to one great cultural and religious test: Is this what it ought to be like to be worshipping the Christian God?

Members of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham sensed that vividly last Saturday in Blessed John Henry Newman's shrine in Birmingham; Fr Phillips' huge and devout congregations, gathered from every cultural tradition, sense it as vividly under the warm sun of San Antonio.

10 October 2016

Visiting North America

I sometimes assure people that, if I plan to visit across the water, I will tell them. So ...

 ... Deo volente, I plan to fly over the Great Waters this Friday;

and to celebrate next Sunday October 16 and preach at the 9.30 a.m. High Mass at St Mary's Church 669 West Avenue, Norwalk CT;

and, same place same Sunday, 7.00 p.m., to speak to the subject of "Could a pope [or anybody else!] abolish the Extraordinary Form?";

and, on Tuesday October 18, 7.00 p.m., at St Patrick's Old Cathedral, 263 Mulberry Street New York, to speak about "Kasperism and the aspirations of [some!] Episcopal Conferences".

It would be good to meet friends old and new.

To Birmingham

What a splendid way for the Ordinary, Mgr Newton, to conclude the Ordinariate observances he has organised for the Year of Mercy! A large gathering of priests and laypeople went on pilgrimage to the Birmingham Oratory, Blessed John Henry Newman's own home and Church, along the Hagley Road.

The Oratory Church is an exquisite building, mirroring an earlier expression of Renaissance architecture than the full-blown baroque at Brompton. (If you want to 'do' Italian Renaissance art and architecture, you don't need to go to Italy or even to the V and A: just go to the two Oratories ... where, especially on Sundays, you can see what it's all for.) At the Ordinariate Pilgrimage Mass on Saturday morning, I think it is blabbing no secret to say that Father Keith felt very emotional when he was given our Blessed Patron's own crozier to carry during the Mass. After lunch, we heard two fine addresses, both by proven good friends of the Ordinariate: Father Deacon Dr Stephen Morgan upon Newman as Doctor Amicitiae and the relevance of this to the New Evangelisation; and Father Provost Ignatius Harrison, about our Anglican Patrimony in terms of our splendid Ordinariate Missal, which he thought gave much finer renderings of Latin originals than the ICEL Missal does. Father felt that we needed to be thoroughly distinctive ... this is our great contibution to evangelisation ... and thought that our own 'Use of the Roman Rite' did this very well; although, like many of us, he hoped that this would be 'work in progress' and might be edged closer to the dear old English Missal.

The Pilgrimage concluded with Solemn Benediction ... a very Patrimonial service ... with the English Hymnal translation of Tantum ergo. It was particularly appropriate to the place, types and shadows have their ending echoing Newman's ex umbris et imaginibus in Veritatem.

I was privileged to stay on overnight and to witness the Aggregation of a new member of this predominantly young and growing Oratory Community, and on Sunday morning I celebrated and preached at the parish High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the actual Feast of our great Blessed. What a privilege!! I felt quite emotional as, at the end of Mass, I censed the Relic of our Patron. I was also rather moved that they still use the Latin hymn they asked me to write for them, addressed to 'the Cardinal'. It accompanied me down the Church and to the Sacristy!

We sha'n't forget last weekend in a hurry. In practical terms, immense credit is due to Mgr Keith and the Oratorians and Fr Ron.

More profoundly, these two days symbolised the glorious, and beautiful, truths, that we really have come home, and that we truly are wanted and valued and needed.

9 October 2016

PARRHESIA: Blessed John Henry Newman's views on aggressive insolent factions

Today, on this splendid Festum of Blessed John Henry Newman, I can think of no better, nor more relevant, topic for thought than our great Blessed's Parrhesia with regard to what magisterial authorities of the Church were up to in Rome.

Early in 1870, B John Henry received a letter from his bishop William Ullathorne about the disgraceful bullying going on at the [First] Vatican Council. He replied with words which became justly famous: "Why should an aggressive insolent faction be allowed to 'make the heart of the just to mourn, whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful?'" ... words which spring easily to mind when one thinks about the synodical goings-on in Rome during this last couple of years and the Exhortation Amoris laetitia which emerged from those flawed processes. Seven months later, on 23 July, Newman saw the Definition of papal infallibility five days after it had passed through the Conciliar Aula. He was relieved, even delighted, at its "moderation"; it afforded him no problems; but "does it come to me with the authority of an Ecumenical Council?" 

Newman did not instantly accept it as such. He wanted to know what the conciliar minority would do. This was important, because unanimity, at least 'moral' unanimity, was accepted as essential for the validity of a conciliar definition of doctrine. If the Fathers "allege in detail acts of violence and deceit ... if they declare they have been kept in the dark and been practised on, then there will be the gravest reasons for determining that the Definition is not valid."

We may not possess 'our Cardinal's' immense erudition. But we are subject to the same moral imperatives as those by which he was moved to speak as he did.

After Vatican II, Cardinal Heenan (who deserves rehabilitation; he was an Archbishop of Westminster a cut above most of them) complained (Sire pp 200-201) that "During the last two weeks of the Council the fathers were called upon to cast their votes before they could possibly have studied the text and context, much less the implications, of the amendments".

Sadly, the Fathers of Vatican II, who were indeed subjected to acts of violence and deceit, kept in the dark and practised on, made no such corporate protest as would (in Blessed John Henry's view) have nullified the Council. Nor, even more sadly, did Parrhesia move them to make formally any individual protests. Even Archbishop Lefebvre's subsequent repudiations of the texts he had signed were not articulated until it became clearer, well after the Council, whither the Church was being led. Let us not condemn these men; it is easy for us very much lesser men to be wise half a century after the event. But the fact remains: they did not protest; they did not repudiate.

Not, of course, that this failure to protest mattered or matters too desperately, since Vatican II, unlike Vatican I, claimed to define no dogmas. Even less competent is a Synod (still less a mere episcopal Conference) to assert doctrinal or legislative authority. Nor, as I have repeatedly pointed out, does an Exhortation ex sese have exalted Magisterial authority. If it repeats what the Church has immemorially taught and practised, then it is  for that reason magisterial; if it were to bear manifest signs of shameless rupture (and I don't think Amoris laetitia does that), the reader would have to draw the necessary conclusion and repudiate it.

But what if such a document appears to hint at, to leave a loophole for, to wink salaciously in the direction of, the new, the heterodox, the ruptured? In this case, we should interpret and accept it solely in terms of previous magisterial documents which we can employ to clarify its ambiguities and fill up its lacunae ... while regretting that our Holy Father was too timid, possibly even too craven, to use this opportunity to speak, with Parrhesia, that Truth which is in Christ; the Truth which is Christ; the Truth of whom the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar. We should most certainly not behave like the Graf von Schoenborn, who at that News Conference condescendingly talked about 'Development', dishonestly mentioned Newman, and disgracefully shut Parrhesia down.

This is a time when we, laics and clerics and bishops, are called upon to speak with the same Parrhesia that Blessed John Henry employed. If Eminent gentlemen who, in Newman's words, wear the royal hue of empire and of martyrdom, attempt to bully, to intimidate, to misuse their status to silence any who speak out, we should remember 'our Cardinal's' condemnations of an aggressive insolent faction

We have the Holy Father's own reiterated encouragements of Parrhesia as our defence and inspiration. Not to mention Canon 212.

8 October 2016


I am a philhellene; to boot, I am philorthodox, and have been since, in 1961, I first went to Oxford's Orthodox Church (then in the sitting room of 1 Canterbury Road); met there Nicolas Zernov - him of the Theological tea-parties - and was introduced to a bespectacled young man called Timothy Ware. In my second curacy, in south London, I was privileged by the close friendship of Christophoros, Bishop of Telmissos, who, lacking a deacon, used me as a sort of mute but vested diaconal dummy during his Holy Week services. When Lancing was celebrating its 150th anniversary, I secured a long and very gracious Message from His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, which I directed to be solemnly processed up the Church at the Offertory, preceded by candles and incense. I have never lost my conviction that Byzantine Orthodoxy has great riches which it is our duty humbly and submissively to assimilate. For example, I share the view of Joseph Ratzinger that the West has never properly assimilated the iconological inheritance of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and his view that we Westerners should take on board the entire development of that tradition as laid out in a succession of councils which took place in an East separated from Rome down to a midsixteenth century Council of Moskow. And I am glad that S Gregory Palamas is on the calendars of Byzantine-rite Churches in full comminion with the Holy See. I would even favour a cautious re-examination of Markos Eugenikos. It would make a pleasant change from hearing Marx and Bergoglio prosing on about the wonders of Luther!

You will have sensed that there is a but coming. There is. In my Anglican days I was once criticised at Walsingham, in a public forum by a well-known Orthodox for having, in a Mass advertised as 'Anglican', said the filioque. I am afraid it made me feel combative. All the more so because it was the only negative uttered by any participant, in a conference including Presbyterian, Methodist, Reform, Anglican, 'Uniate', Orthodox, during the entire four days. My initial reaction was to think "I don't lecture the Orthodox on what they should omit from their Liturgy". My second reaction: "English Christianity has explicitly proclaimed filioque since at least the Council of Hatfield (680) recorded in Bede; an event more than a century earlier than the day when an Irish monk inserted it supra lineam in the 'Stowe Missal'; a Council presided over by an Eastern monk whom 'English Orthodox' claim as one of their own. (What price here the claims made by these Orthodox that "the Anglo-Saxon Church was Orthodox"?) And my final thought: " filioque is in our Articles, our Liturgy, and our Quicunque vult; if they want us to drop it they can jolly well ask us nicely".

Intriguing (and characteristic) that Cardinal Ratzinger, in his Dominus Iesus, began with the Nicene Creed in Latin but without the filioque. It makes me all the sadder that the Orthodox national churches, as, I think, their recent Council demonstrated, have very little interest in anything outside their own internal squabbles.

But, however abruptly they disown us, we should stick firmly to the fine teaching in Ratzinger's Communionis notio that each of the dioceses of the separated Byzantine Churches is a true, if wounded, particular Church of Christ. 

Gently sticking to this, even if it elicits no response, is true and Catholic 'Ecumenism'; so very much more so than the silly and impulsive Gestepolitik of the current pontificate.

7 October 2016

Moving beyond monoculture: solving the problem of the Novus Ordo (2)

Pope Benedict XVI wondered whether the European Churches, in a generation or two, might be leaner, hardier, more orthodox. We cannot know the end of that story. What we do know is that several English bishops are planning to reduce operations out there in the parishes to a significant extent. This may well have consequences for the survival of the 1970s monoculture within the Ordinary Form.

What I have in mind is this. Suppose Fr Mainstream says a Vigil Mass of Sunday, and two Sunday Masses, each weekend. Two of the three, let us supppose, are in the 1970s monoculture, while the third is ... Different. How Different, makes no difference to my point. It might be in the EF. Or, please God, in the Ordinariate Use. Or it might, in many places, be an OF Mass with features that distinguish it from the monoculture ... perhaps versus apsidem ... a well worked out, well expressed and orthodox sermon ... the liturgy partly in Latin ... scripturally and dogmatically orthodox hymns from the sound old Anglo-Catholic English Hymnal ... Holy Communion reverently administered and reverently received ... great fogs of incense ... any one or more of these in any combination.

Then Father has to take on an additional Church 50 miles away, which has, let us say, the same arrangements. Father now has six Masses to cover. He naturally considers reducing this burden to four: two vigil Masses, one at each Church; and, on Sunday, a Mass in each of the Churches. Naturally, in the pastoral interests of diversity and of a Laywoman's Right to Choose, he will retain the two Different Masses. The result of this will be that the four monocultural 1970s-style Masses will now be reduced to two ... a reduction of 50%.

Voila. Or, as we say nowadays, Bergoglio's your uncle. Add to this the fact that an increasing percentage of clergy, poor dears, are too young to have known the full glories of the 1970s and, while discerning their vocation, they somehow got hold of some idea that God was calling them to be priests. These bright young well-informed blokes aren't going to want to spend their priestly lives maintaining a dreary 1970s theme park. They are sufficiently big-hearted not to need to keep their laity reduced to a state of infantilisation. And it won't be possible to lock them up in the presbytery cellar and make them serve twenty penal years as the Junior Curate on a staff of six because, happily, the shortage of clergy will mean that they will have to be made priests-in-charge subito! ... or, as the Pakistani taxi drivers round here rather sweetly say, pretty dam' quick.

Current shortages and closures may well prove to be a godsend. My suspicion is: worrying times ahead for Tabletistas and ACTA clones! They may have a sadly blighted old age to which to look forward!

6 October 2016

Moving beyond monoculture: a solution to the problem of the Novus Ordo (1)

The recent debate in the Latin Church occasioned by the spat between Cardinals Sarah and Nichols makes one thing clear. The causa belli is not about Extraordinary Form versus Ordinary Form. Only the Tablet-reader type of person brings the EF into the argument, largely as a way of scaring the horses. No; it is about how the Novus Ordo may best be done.

My analysis is that the problem lies not so much in the OF as such. This debate has made that very clear: fury has been stoked by the prospect of seeing the OF done versus apsidem. Some time ago, it was reported that Bishop Fellay, having witnessed a celebration of the OF done according to Tradfition, commented that the Great Archbishop himself would not have objected to that. The point at issue is what used to be called the Reform of the Reform: and I agree rather with Fr Lombardi that this is not altogether an attractive term. I would prefer to talk critically about a monoculture of the OF, by which I would mean the OF done as it is in hundreds of churches; versus populum; Holy Communion received ambulando; trite music; a preponderance of the vernacular; the widespread use of large numbers of 'Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion"; the pseudo-hippolytan trattoria in trastevere Eucharistic Prayer at Sunday Masses.

In my view, any and every step away from this monoculture is a good step. As Fr Zed puts it, brick by brick. Let me give you one example. Until Vincent Nichols attained the See of Westminster, the nasty practice obtained of wheeling out a temporary altar into the Sanctuary and celebrating at that, facing the people and leaving the great High Altar ignored and widowed. This was catechetically appalling: the Altar symbolises Christ; symbolises the oneness of the community; shows that this Eucharist is one with the one worship of the Lamb in heaven. After his appointment ... if he was responsible, he is much to be praised for this ... the mobile altar was pensioned off and the High Altar brought back into use, albeit versus populum.

I don't know how much catechesis there was about this significant and laudable change; which lay representative bodies were consulted beforehand; how many Tablet-readers walked out of the Cathedral in disgust and never returned ... my guess is, Not Many. I don't even care. I am just thankful that it was done. Three cheers for whoever was responsible.

To be continued.

5 October 2016

Where my heart is ...

There are, I know, some Traditionalists who feel uneasy about any priest who ever celebrates the Novus Ordo. They acknowledge that the Novus Ordo Mass is valid; but they feel so strongly about its inadequacies that they could never attend an Old Rite Masss celebrated by a priest who had 'compromised' himself in this way; they see a question mark hanging over the ministry of any priest who feels able to celebrate so flawed (as they see it) a rite.

I do not think that this attitude quite does justice to the complexities of the situation. For example: the Dominican Rite has differences from the Tridentine Rite ... a different Confiteor, different (and much shorter) Offertory Prayers ... So: if a priest celebrated the Novus Ordo in Latin and versus Orientem, selecting of course the Roman Canon, how could such a celebration be seen as more radically different from the Tridentine Rite than the Dominican or Carmelite Rites are? And would such 'strict' lay people refuse to attend a Sarum Mass, used in Medieval England and in the English Seminaries abroad until Dr Lawrence Webb arrived from Rome in December 1576 and began to teach the new Missal? Not to mention, of course, the (old) Ambrosian Rite, with its archaic positioning of the Fraction. Bishop Fellay is reported to have spoken favourably of a thoroughly traditional celebration of the Novus Ordo; and let it be remembered that Archbishop Lefebvre adopted the incremental changes made in the Ordo Missae throughout the 1960s, only returning to the Classical Roman Ordo Missae, with the Iudica me and the Last Gospel et cetera, in the mid 1970s.

But I think there is a more radical personal consideration than that. This is what I think gets to the heart of the matter: does a priest think of the Old Rite as the Gold Standard? Does he naturally, automatically, instinctively, say his own private Mass, when pastoral considerations do not require of him a public Mass, in the Extraordinary Form? Is his spirituality formed by the Old Rite? Does he do the Novus Ordo in as traditional a way as pastoral circumstances allow him? Is his whole attitude, and his ritual care about such things as reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, formed by his grounding in the Old Rite? Perhaps is he a priest, brought up on the Novus Ordo but knowing better, and who is doing his best to learn and understand the Old Rite? Perhaps he is an Ordinariate priest, nurtured by the devout and sacramentally orthodox and orthopraxic culture of Anglo-Catholic worship and now employing the vernacular but orthodox and most laudable liturgy to be found in the Ordinariate Missal?

Such priests are quite different from a cleric who celebrates the Novus Ordo without a care or a thought, and whose instincts and, indeed, prejudices are lodged firmly in the tawdry world of the 1970s monoculture; even if he may have learned the Old Mass so as to be able occasionally to say it in order to keep some silly old (or young) people quiet.

Of course, things being as they are, there will be clergy who are somewhere in between. My concern is to make very clear my view that a generosity of approach on the part of laity and clergy is very much more rational and desirable than a harsh rigidity.

If God had wanted you to live your Catholic life in the 1930s, that is where he would have put you!

4 October 2016

Dom Gregory Dix and current management

In these two snippets, the great, if occasionally waspish, Patrimonial mystagogue is actually talking, not about a pope, but about the Church of England's bishops of the 1940s. I leave it to readers to discern whether there is any relevance here for our own decade.

"Old men in a hurry to realise their dearest dreams can be very short-sighted".

" ... even the best and most energetic of bishops will one day have rest from his labours, and ... the lance of his successor often delivers the diocese from the menace of some different windmill". (Perhaps an appropriate Coat of Arms for an episcopal admirer of Bergoglio might have been Sable semee of windmills rouge. Yes, I do know that ... )

Given the spirited enthusiasm, the erudition and wit with which Dom Gregory explained and defended the Decrees of Vatican I on the Primacy and Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, it is a shame that he is not around today to resume his defence of Pastor aeternus at a time when it is under such insistent implicit attacks from circles very close to the Pontiff himself..

3 October 2016


Is the Eucharistic Host bread? Or is It the Body of Christ? Can we call It 'Bread' after the Consecration? I remember long explanations given by myself to parishioners in Devon about how we should not talk about "taking the bread and wine". But there is a philological difficulty.

People are not always aware that the Latin (also the Greek) word means LOAF and only sometimes the substantia of BREAD.

There are two problems about translating PANIS simply as BREAD:
(1) One loses the meaning of phrases like UNUS PANIS, pointing as they do to a parallelism between the oneness of Christ's Eucharistic and Mystical Bodies. You will remember the very early Patristic topos of the symbolism expressed by the making of the one loaf from the innumerable grains of wheat.
(2) Referring to the consecrated element as "bread" suggests, misleadingly, that it is bread rather than Christ's Body (in Aristotelian-Thomistic terms, that the ousia or substantia of bread remains).

I don't think one can incorporate "loaf" into English renderings of liturgical texts, but I think it is a good idea for the thoughtful to be aware of this problem.

2 October 2016


We, who remember the Faith, the grey-headed ones,
Of those Anglo-Catholic Congresses swinging along,
Who heard the South Coast salvo of incense-guns
And surged to the Albert Hall in our thousands strong
With 'extreme' colonial bishops leading in song;

We, who remember, look back to the blossoming May-time
On ghosts of servers and thurifers after Mass,
The slapping of backs, the flapping of cassocks, the play-time,
A game of Grandmother's Steps on the vicarage grass -
"Father, a little more sherry. I'll fill your glass".

We recall the triumph, that Sunday after Ascension,
When our Protestant suffragan suffered himself to be coped -
The SYA and the Scheme for Church Extension -
The new diocesan's not as 'sound' as we'd hoped,
And Kensit threatens and has Sam Gurney poped?

Yet, under the Travers Baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
The bells and banners - those were the waking days
When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.

1 October 2016

Vesting Prayers

Is it customary for Deacon and Subdeacon to say Vesting Prayers? A correspondent points me to Ceremonies of High Mass (Dublin 1843) which advises that each minister "may use the prayers to be said by a bishop".

Indeed, why not? the prayers for the Dalmatic and Tunicle are already provided among the prayers to be said by a bishop when vesting, and I suspect they are of some antiquity because they express the first-millennium idea that these vestments are signs of joy (which is why during penitential seasons they are replaced by folded chasubles - find my treatment of that via the Archive facility). Oh yes ... and can I ask ... am I the only person who puts the Maniple on after the Dalmatic for fear that otherwise my left arm will get helplessly entangled? Is that one reason why the book referred to above advises that "The deacon is to kiss the maniple in due order of vestments but he does not take the maniple until the celebrant is entirely vested".

Come to think of it, the Maniple Prayer doesn't go particularly well with the Dalmatic Prayer.

At the request of a colleague at Lancing, I once composed a rather nice Latin prayer to be said while putting on the radio microphone. Sadly, I can't now find a copy ...

While we're on Vesting Prayers ... I've always envied pontiffs the prayer said while taking off the Cappa: Undress me, O Lord, of the Old Man with his morals and activities ... There ought to be another prayer (I hope someone would like to compose one in Latin) for the pontiff to say, after Mass, as he again puts back on the Old Adam and goes back to his ordinary everyday life of murdering, fornicating, and embezzling.