Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Truth and Falsehood...

There is no moral or practical reason to believe that which is false or to ascribe tradition to impious customs. If a teaching is false then you should not believe in it. If a custom is ostensibly bad then you should not practise it. Furthermore, people have no right to profess false teachings or to defend impious customs. Christianity is true. Orthodox Christianity is the "truest" manifestation of Christianity, being that Church which has preserved true patristic episcopacy and theology down to our own times. Romanism is false. Its theology is rotten and its traditions are distorted. Because its teachings are false and its customs are evil, men have no right to profess Romanism. The same goes for any other religion.

There seems to be a fundamental dishonesty and treachery to religious integrity to say that other people have the right to maintain their erroneous beliefs unmolested in spite of true Christianity. Blurring the distinction between truth and falsehood for the sake of sparing somebody's feelings is a sin.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The evils of tolerance...

If tolerance of other peoples' false beliefs and customs were an Apostolick tenet then there'd be no Christian faith to-day. If St Paul had said to the Galatians, "oh you know, I respect your rights to carry out genital mutilation and to carry on adhering to the Law," what would be the state of the churches in Galatia? Or if the Synod of Whitby found that it had no right to impose orthodox Roman customs upon the Celts, what would be the state of Christianity in seventh century Northumbria? Or, speaking generally, what of evangalisation? Do Christians not have a duty to evangelise? What's the point of sending out missions to pagan villages if, upon arrival, they just say, "oh, we understand that you believe in pagan gods and human sacrifice; we believe in Jesus Christ, but we'll just agree to differ because we don't wish to cause offence to anybody." What a waste of time! Liberalism is completely incompatible with Christianity.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Some principles...

As I have said, I am broadly in sympathy with those efforts that are to enshrine or revive "Western" rites within Orthodoxy. However, there are dangers. Not just in terms of doctrine and culture but in terms of arbitrary liturgical experimentation and vandalism. There is also the danger that practitioners are just disaffected Anglicans or Papists wishing to continue on as they were accustomed within their respective communions within Orthodoxy - that, in my view, defeats the whole purpose of conversion.

However, before anybody even thinks about Western Rite Orthodoxy then some principles need to be established and some problems need to be addressed. One of the most important, if not the most important, is the question of jurisdiction. In London, for example, there are many Orthodox jurisdictions, the Russians, the Greeks, the Serbs, etc. each with their own bishop. Quite simply this is due to immigration. The problem, of course, is that having more than one bishop within a diocese flies in the face of the Holy Canons. This canonical, but still inevitable, irregularity cannot be allowed to continue but at the same time it cannot be rectified in a day. For most ethnic Orthodox in the UK their religion is one of the dearest connexions they have to their homeland and so to have a bishop and clergy of their own language and custom is, for the time being, a pastoral necessity. I would see the creation of an autocephalous British Orthodox Church, with her own Patriarch and all churches in the land coming under one jurisdiction. I don't know how we would go about that; it might take several generations yet, but celebrating liturgies in English would be a fitting start. Then comes the question of the Kalendar. There is no beating about the bush here: the venerable Julian Kalendar is that kalendar committed to us by the Church. The revision or replacement thereof is deference to the authority of Romish popes and secularisation of the liturgical cycle. The British Orthodox Church would adopt the Julian Kalendar or be accursed.

But I am still treading my own path to Orthodoxy. No doubt if I went in uttering these thoughts I'd be accused of ambition, of meddling, of popery and ostracised. All in good time.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Greeks...

I have decided, after much thought (though, confessedly, not much prayer) to be received into the Greek Orthodox Church. All my liturgical instincts are crying out: "nay, nay and thrice nay!" The Greeks are not, after all, the most conservative in matters liturgical but in terms of culture, of Christendom and liturgical  language they remain the inheritors of Byzantium. Culture is as important in the history of Christianity as liturgy and in any case my going to the Greeks rather than to the Russians is tantamount to a return to British Orthodoxy. And if we are to establish a new British Orthodoxy I daresay it is worthwhile to do so from Greek rather than schismatic Roman stock. The Roman Rite is a lost cause and modern practitioners, whether RC traditionalist or renegade, just ape the same problems and do any of them listen to a word I say? Of course not. If I said to one of them: "why don't you just leave out the elevations and genuflexions and read the Canon from Te Igitur to Omnis honor et gloria as one uninterrupted anaphora?" Do you think he'd say: "Oh, that's a good idea! Is this the stimulant of an older, more holistic eucharistic theology?" No, I'd be accused of antiquarianism or Protestantism or Jansenism or cafeteria-ism or, dare I say it, "Modernism!"

But that would be no use, would it? Like the renegades with whom I used to celebrate Holy Week (they leave out the Filioque from the liturgical Creed), what is the use of paying deference to the modern Roman Rite, in all its putrescence, when you're really looking for something else? Is there a moral difference between omitting the Filioque and reciting baptismal promises on Holy Saturday? As I have said, the Roman Rite is a lost cause and the hallmark of Popery. Practitioners are little more than puppets and the pope himself is the grand puppet master. There is not one word of the Roman Rite's countless Prayers, pericopes, rubrics, etc that has not passed through the papal system unscathed, so much so that I have actually come to despise it as a bastardised rite altogether, historically destroying and usurping local rites wherever it has been carried, whether by the Jesuits, the Franciscans or by men like Dom Prosper Guéranger (in my view, one of the most arrogant and destructive men of the 19th century - a true contemporary of Pius IX).

You may ask, what about Western Rite Orthodoxy? I am broadly in sympathy with it, except where the modern Roman Rite is concerned (for clarity's sake, where I say "modern" Roman Rite, I mean, naturally, pre-1956 or pre-1911; not the Novus Ordo of Paul VI).

Well, just to let you know.

Kyrie Eleison
Kyrie Eleison
Kyrie Eleison.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Travail and sorrow...

I was speaking with a dopey young Muslim called Mo[hammed] a few weeks ago about women - he instigated the discussion, not me. He was asking me the sort of questions you might expect from a sex maniac; what kind of women I was attracted to, what I look for in women, etc. I am loath to tell anybody about my suffering from sexual perversion; it is my wont neither to confirm nor deny. (Of course, there are people aware of my being queer - usually people who ask). I was telling him such things as "women are the ruin of young men," and "I don't particularly care for women," but he wasn't getting it. Well it transpired that he found out from somebody else about my being queer. He apologised unreservedly if he had offended me. You see, after the discussion about women he moved onto homosexuality and how, in Islam, homosexuality is a damnable sin (much like Christianity) and that if he had a homosexual son he would probably kill him.

I didn't particularly care for his apology because of his confusion. He seemed to think that being homosexual was in the mind, that you "believe in it." What on earth does that mean? In reality, you can only speak of actions as being homosexual and repeated, habitual actions lead to a homosexual lifestyle - a lifestyle which I do not live. As for his comment that my "belief" in homosexuality had no bearing on our "friendship," that was probably his fear that I might have him disciplined for homophobia coming out. Of course now that he knows about it he avoids me like a leper - how sad. Equally sad, and distasteful, is people's obsession with knowing. It starts with "do you have a girlfriend?" or "are you married?" Then, after more questions, to put their minds at rest one is perforce to admit "I'm actually gay..." This is by no means a gratifying admission. Then comes the assumption that you regularly visit gay bars, that you are in a civil partnership, that you are politically liberal, that you don't practise any religion, etc. Later, from people with no qualms at all, comes questions about what rôle you take in bed! To a young man who asked me that recently I said: "I will not tell you that. For as long as you know me that will be an unsolved riddle in your mind."

I guess this is one reason I get along with the elderly much more than I do so with my own generation.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Saturday, 21 June 2014

But who may abide...

Emma Kirkby sings of God's Judgement in part I of Handel's Messiah. Enjoy!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Of The Lord's Supper...

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
From the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.

I assent thereunto with the usual "but." While I unequivocally reject the Romish dogma of Transubstantiation, and consider the Lateran Synod of 1215 the Rubicon in Rome's departure from Orthodoxy, the Eucharist remains the very Body and Blood of Christ. Hoc est corpus meum cannot mean anything else. Transubstantiation, however, has been a demonstrably divisive and dangerous innovation, having brought low the solemn and serious rites of Holy Week by the mingling of superstition with tradition, destroyed the Divine Office by the multiplication of low Masses and caused universal scandal in the anti-Evangelical prominence given to the Body at the expense of the Blood, and the subsequent denial of the Chalice to the laity for hundreds of years.

This is as much a message to all you renegades, being Romish schismatics, as to the Papists: if you use Romish liturgical books and elevate the Sacrament after the so-called "words of institution," ye are a generation of vipers and sorcerers and you practice witchcraft at Christ's altar. Therefore, think twice before you lift up that wafer before the altar cross, lest your soul be impaled upon it!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

A Garden Party...

This is me, on Saturday 18th May (31st May New Kalendar), in my old "spot" in the Heythrop Theology Library. I was glancing through an encyclopaedia of the Papacy.

I went to the Heythrop College alumnus party yesterday. Only one familiar face was in attendance, my tutor Professor Price, but it was very moving to be at the college again. It's startling how much has changed in the five short years since I was there last. They now have a lift for crippled people opposite the Rahner Room (where Fundamental Theology lectures were held) and the old Student Common Room has been refurbished. I spent virtually no time there during my student days, being rather reclusive, but I always preferred the dingy old carpet to what is there now. I went into the Theology Library. This has now been filled with laptop computers but the stacks remain a treasure trove of knowledge. I spent a good hour perusing the works of Tyrrell, Rahner (in the original German) and old Missals. Unfortunately, due to the weekend, I was asked to leave at five o'clock. As a student, I spent many happy hours in that library, going over the Corpus Christianorum, the Loeb Classical Library and many tomes beside. I became very well acquainted with Catullus during my Heythrop days.

I went into the college chapel before I left. I went up to the sanctuary steps and remembered asking the Principal, then Dr John McDade SJ, for a "Tridentine Mass" to be celebrated once a week in 2007. He politely refused, in hindsight not a bad decision. The chapel remains as nice a brick gothic shrine as one could want in the West End of London. You just have to ignore the kitchen table in the nave.

The garden remains as beautiful (the Lourdes shrine notwithstanding) as ever. Sr Muriel of the Loreto Sisters used to maintain it, though she has since retired. I was filled with nostalgia all the while I was there. My Undergraduate days, though I was unaware of it at the time, were the best years of my life. Would that I could live them again!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A Greek epistle...

I read most of this epistle of two Greek prelates to pope Francis with interest. It makes many cogent points but they tend to be lost amid the intemperate language and arrogance. I am disappointed, though not surprised, that the epistle says virtually nothing about Liturgy or about the Gregorian Kalendar, instead going to great lengths to prove that St Peter never founded a See at Rome and pointing out the relativism so implicit in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger...ironically the same who preached against the "dictatorship of relativism!"

It was an heroic idea but I fear that the bishops wasted their time. They will have received no reply because Rome is not interested. The Papacy will never dismantle itself; the pope will never renounce the manifold heresies and sins of his "Frankish parasynagogue," and even if he did, what difference would it make? He might himself convert to Orthodoxy but the bulk of the Papal Communion would not follow him (there'd be more conclavist popes than you could shake a stick at!) and what a mess that would be! A pope of Rome, in modern times, about to anathematize the past 800 or so years of his own tradition and alienating most of his communion! Not to mention all the developments, so dear to many, since the days of schism! Transubstantiation, Matriolatry, and what of the Liturgy and Canon Law? What about Pastor Aeternus? What about...well, everything! Every book would have to be re-written, every piece of musick scrapped, churches gutted, every "new" saint removed from the Martyrology etc. The whole system would need rebooting and what would be left? Those attached to the system would be forever traumatised and lose faith. Nobody would gain anything but sorrow and confusion; old friends would become new enemies in the division of loyalties. It's just as well that it won't happen! I can, however, see Uniatism, the ecclesiastical Trojan Horse, increasing in the coming years.

Who knows what state Christianity will be in 50 years from now? I would be content, in my dotage, to read the psalter underground with the bishop of a small persecuted church, driven into new catacombs by modern, secular man. Nothing more.

Bright Maximinus...

A dove looked in
through the lattice windows,
where, before its face,
balm exuded
from bright Maximinus.

The warmth of the sun kindled
and in the shadows shone brightly,
whence a jewel arose
in the building of the temple,
a heart of the purest rich devotion.

He, the lofty tower,
of Lebanon's wood and cypress wrought,
with jacinth and carnelian was adorned,
the city surpassing the arts
of other artists.

The swift hart himself hastened
to the fountain of the purest water,
flowing from the strongest stone
which has diffused the sweet spices.

O painters*,
ye which be in the sweetest green
of the gardens of the king,
ascending to the height,
when ye have finished the holy sacrifice
with the rams.

This artist shines among you
the wall of the temple
he who desired the wings of an eagle
by kissing the nurse Wisdom,
in the glorious fecundity of the Church.

O Maximinus
thou art a mountain and a valley,
and in both thou appearest a high edifice,
where the he-goat with the elephant went out
and Wisdom has been in sweetness.

Thou art strong
and sweet in the ceremonies
and in the gleaming* of the altar
ascending as an aromatic smoke
to the column of praise.

Where thou intercedest for the people
who reach out to the mirror of light
to whom there is praise on high.

This is a translation of bl. Hildegard of Bingen's famous Sequence Columba Aspexit I made five years ago. It might read like gibberish to you but the Latin itself is hardly of the stuff of Catullus, even if the musick is exquisite. It seems that Emma Kirkby's superb rendering has disappeared from YouTube, never mind. I must say I bewail the loss of so many Sequences from the Roman Rite. I always admired the "florid imprecision" (to borrow from Fr Hunwicke) of the divers uses of that once glorious rite.

*Painters is used here to denote "pigmentarii."
*Coruscatione denotes tremulous light, as of light seen through the leaves of trees.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Baptists...

I never much liked Bartholomew. Constantinople needs another Photius, in my opinion.

They have since moved to the coast but years ago an elderly couple, Tony and Irene, lived two doors away at number 60. My parents called them "the Baptists" because they believed, rightly, in full baptismal immersion and, wrongly, in the sole efficacy of the Bible for Salvation. I work with a Baptist from Nigeria. The other day we were discussing Antichrist and I asked him whether he believed everything the Westminster Confession said about him, relative to the Papacy. He nodded but had some reservations. I enquired after these and he conceded that pope Francis is not the Man of Sin but that his successor will most likely match that description, coming with pride to mingle the Muslim and Jewish faiths into one false religion. I found this interpretation interesting, especially considering all the things the $$PX have said over the last 40 years about ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue.

We live in a heavily multi-cultural society, for good or ill...not personally subscribing to the modern notion of the equality of cultures, I should say ill. To illustrate the point, I believe the secularisation of supermarkets has its uttermost origins in non-Christian small shops opening their doors on Sundays. My mother told me that a Pakistani gentleman opened a shop in Londonderry in the 1970's and was eventually forced out because the locals didn't much care for his disregard for Christian values and boycotted his shop. On an ecclesiastical level, the influence of modern times is seen most clearly in the new stance of the Papal communion to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. If they believed that the Jews were faithless before, why do they not believe so now? If the Jews are Christ's enemies and a fallen religion, why does the Sacred Liturgy not reflect this? It seems to me that openness to other religions is a dangerous heresy. Who knows, it maybe that the next pope or some future pope not far away may be at the head of an endeavour to so water down the Christian faith as to make it indistinguishable from falsehood. Have they not done enough damage? On that note, I saw on BBC news that pope Francis has had his feet in both the Israeli and Palestinian camps on his tour of the Holy Land. And so the abominable symbiosis of these three faiths continues. It won't be long before the popes recognise Muhammad as a legitimate prophet! Already, Cardinal Ratzinger has said that Jews no longer need to convert to be saved! They just need to await the second coming of Christ, unlike the rest of us!

When I am old I doubt anyone will be at liberty to say black is black, the spade is a spade, the grass is green, etc without being tortured in some way. God, how I hate these times! Are modern technologies and conveniences the marks of civilised man? A society governed on true principles, however primitive, would seem far more civilised in my opinion. And so the True Church would preach against the faith and society of other religions as contrary to the Gospel! Sin is sin, truth is true, Christ is One. As I have said, there are no grey areas.