Friday, 31 December 2010

The perfect solution... the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews! Observe:

Oremus et pro perfidis Tradunculis, ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum, ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui etiam Tradunculam perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis, exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcaecatione deferimus, ut agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per Dominum. Amen.

Let us pray also for the faithless Traddies [nasty, wretched little Trads], that our Lord and God may take away the veil from their hearts, that they may also acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.

Almighty everlasting God, Who drivest not away even Trad faithlessness from Thy mercy, hear our prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people, that having known by the light of Thy truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Liturgical culture, and St Dunstan...

The culture of Roman Catholicism in the Counter Reformation period seems very different to me than the culture and tradition of Catholicism in the Early Church and the Middle Ages. This is not some quibble or personal vendetta I have against the lace cotta, but something which genuinely startles me. The liturgical life of the Roman Church became sterile or frozen after Trent, and there was little to no room left for a natural flowering of liturgical piety, and an authentic, traditional local praxis built upon the natural development of the received diocesan, even parochial, custom. Pius V, who reformed the Missal and Breviary, seems to have mistook the meaning of ecclesiastical universality for uniformity, and the imposition of the Tridentine Missal upon the whole of Europe pretty much heralded the end of local custom in the Roman Rite. I expect that it would surprise no reader of this blog if I said that I have significantly less reverence for the English Martyrs (such as St Robert Southwell, who was among the first to use the reformed Missal in this country) than I have for such English saints who herald from a time long before Trent as St Bede, St Hilda and St Dunstan. They possessed a wisdom and piety which is significantly lacking in modern saints, who were bored (sorry, nourished) by Low Mass, busy telling their beads and being devout before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance.
I have no idea why but Fr Hunwicke's brilliant post on St Mary's perpetual virginity today put me in mind of Eadmer's Life of Dunstan, which I read for the first time when I was at college. It's exquisite:

When he was in residence at Canterbury, Dunstan used to visit the holy places in the dead of night to sing psalms and to keep vigil. On one occasion he moved to the eastern end of the church to pray to the Mother of God.

Suddenly, and in a quite unexpected way, he heard unusually sweet voices singing in the darkness, echoeing through the church with subtle melodies. Peeping through a hole in the perforated screen, he saw that the church was completely filled with shining light, and a crown of virgins were moving round in procession, singing as a choir the hymn by the poet Sedulius: ''Cantemus socii Domini.''

Each half of the choir answered the other, verse by verse, as if in a round, singing: ''Let us sing, O friends, let us sing to the honour of the Lord! Let the sweet love of Christ sound through pious lips!''

I don't mean to sound disparaging, but there is no mention here of ecstasy induced by the radiance of the Eucharistic Lord emanating from the Ostensorium, or of miraculous medals or of sacred hearts; just psalmody, traditional hymnody, liturgical procession and keeping the night vigils - and all in common. If such devotion as this is inspired purely by liturgical witness to Christ, then what shall we say of devotion inspired by more famous, but far less worthy, traditions as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament? If St Dunstan were alive today I think he would find Catholicism wholly alien and tacky.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Let's play spot the Chasuble!

''It does not add to the dignity of a rite that a crowd of useless boys stand about the sanctuary doing nothing. Nor is it in accordance with the tradition of the Roman rite to add useless ornamental attendance.'' (Adrian Fortescue, The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, Burns Oates, 1943).
Something important has been grating on my nerves for a few days. Can anybody furnish me with a theological argument as to why I, as a young layman, cannot substitute for a Subdeacon at High Mass in the absence of a tonsured cleric whereas it's perfectly all right for 8 and 9 year old boys to substitute for the Acolytes? The liturgical books suppose that the servers and members of the liturgical choir be at least tonsured clerics. Acolytes are supposed to have been so ordained, in the same way that the Celebrant of Mass is to be an ordained Priest, the Deacon of the Mass to be an ordained Deacon. According to the Ceremonial of Bishops the Master of Ceremonies is to be an ordained priest too (or at least be in Holy Orders)! What of the Subdeacon though? The Subdiaconate is not now nor has it ever been part of the threefold Major Orders of Bishop, Priest and Deacon instituted by God and the Roman Church is ancestrally wrong to have supposed this (though it can be argued that the Subdiaconate has not been treated consistently as a Major Order in the West). In which case I see no lawful impediment as to why, on great feasts, I cannot be Subdeacon - if it is lawful for children to be Acolytes.

I was venting my frustration upon a good friend of mine, who says that the reason Traddies don't think it is ''appropriate'' for laymen to be Subdeacon is because they cannot stand the sight of laymen wearing vestments - in order to be Subdeacon you have to be Fr So-and-so, who in actual fact was probably never ordained Subdeacon in the first place! I think quite the opposite. It is highly inappropriate for a Priest to be Subdeacon. Plus I don't see why spending any amount of time in seminary makes me more ''qualified'' to wear a Tunicle...and are not the cassock and surplice ecclesiastical vestments!? It's things like this which make me go elsewhither for better Liturgy.

I sometimes think that I am wasting my time writing these posts though...

I was tagged in this photo on Facebook the other day. It shows us all lined during the singing of Adeste Fidelis after Midnight Mass. Note all the lace and the surplus children (also the '62 Missal on the Altar - used purely because it contained the notation for the Tonus Solemnior of the Preface). Two hours before Mass started I was informed that one of the Ministers couldn't make it, so I offered my services as either Subdeacon, or if not as Tunicled Crucifer. Both were rejected and I, with two others, formed the liturgical choir - alongside a Deacon. Everyone except me seemed to think that the Mass was ''beautiful.'' That's not exactly the word I'd pick. ''Sweet'', perhaps, if you come to Liturgy at Christmas expecting a child's Nativity play, where they all get to dress up in their lace cottas, look pretty and each hold a candle. I don't. I come expecting something solemn and decorous, not puerile.

Draft on the creature Gollum...

Going through my posts on the Dashboard I remembered that I had several draft ones, abandoned for various reasons. I have deleted them all, for they were all wanting and I'm glad I never published them, but this one was interesting and I can't presently remember why I neglected to finish it. Most likely I ran out of things to say and couldn't think of how to string the words together into a coherent post. I haven't touched it so forgive any want of continuity!

I overheard a conversation this afternoon [this is about two months ago] in the parish social club about the creature Gollum. In an odd sort of way Gollum is one of my favourite characters in The Lord of the Rings, if only because he is pitiable and wretched - but more significantly in terms of the ''theology'' (if I may make so bold) of Tolkien because he is intrinsically linked to Frodo's personal salvation, an unlikely instrument of Grace. He is a kind of anti-hero, a counter-influence to Samwise Gamgee. I think that were either of the two absent from the narrative the ending would have been quite different; Sauron would almost certainly have regained the Ring. When I first read The Lord of the Rings (in the very distant past - I would love to regain the ''first impression'' again. In my boyhood I loved this book above all literature. The love remains, and always will, but it is ''lessened'' somewhat now by familiarity) I was confused by Frodo's decision to take Gollum in the Emyn Muil, and hoped that something would happen to Gollum along the way, but only when I finished the book did I comprehend somewhat of the necessity of Gollum - for Frodo (and also for Sam).

Those of who have read The Lord of the Rings will remember The Shadow of the Past (Chapter II), in which Gandalf told Frodo his account of Gollum's life, as near the mark as he could guess. Gollum (or Sméagol as he was then) was akin to the distant fathers of the Stoors who still dwelt by the banks of the Anduin near the Gladden Fields, and by a great ''accident'' in the tides of the Ring's fortune he discovered the Ring (no pedantry in the combox please - this is not an exhaustive account of every detail), murdered his friend, was driven from his home into the mountains and gnawed bones in bitterness, cursing both the light and the dark. The Ring galled him and he ''lived'' (although he did not obtain more life) for many times the natural span of his years. When Bilbo came and took the Ring Gollum left the mountains, went in search of Bilbo but was drawn southwards to Mordor, where he was captured, tortured, and commanded to search for the Ring (although Gollum had purposes of his own in spite of Sauron). Eventually the Ranger Aragorn captured him by the Dead Marshes and took him to the Wood Elves of Mirkwood but his escape was contrived by the Orcs and he went off again in search of the Shire. He got lost and being then starved gave up at the West Gate of Moria, where he picked up the trail of the Fellowship and so came upon Frodo and Sam in the Emyn Muil. When he heard Gandalf's tale of Gollum's life in the quiet of the Shire Frodo felt no pity for Gollum, desiring only the creature's death, but upon their eventual meeting in the desolate hills he heard from far off the voice of Gandalf and did pity Gollum (''and that it is my fate to receive help from you, where I least looked for it, and your fate to help me whom you long pursued with evil purpose'' were Frodo's words before the Black Gate). Thus is the tale of the Ring made more meaningful.

Any rational person reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time would know that Gollum would almost certainly have betrayed Frodo, sooner or later. Later because Gollum desired (in so far as he had one single ''purpose'' with Frodo) to keep the Ring safe in spite of Sauron for as long as humanly possible. Sauron was his greatest enemy. I say certainly but perhaps not, but for the clumsiness in fidelity of Sam unto Frodo, which served only to push Gollum over the edge. As I write this I recall that moment in Chapter X of Book IV where Gollum came down from the heights ot Cirith Ungol and beheld Frodo and Sam lying together:

''Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean and hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo's knee - but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.

''But at that touch Frodo stirred and cried out softly in his sleep, and immediately Sam was wide awake. The first thing he saw was Gollum - 'pawing at master,' as he thought...Gollum withdrew himself, and a green glint flickered under his heavy lids. Almost spider-like he looked now, crouched back on his bent limbs, with his protruding eyes. The fleeting moment had passed, beyond recall.''

Tolkien said himself that tears stained the paper upon which he wrote this [double check this isn't the Field of Cormallen - Letters, Pater ad Filium natu...1944-45 sometime] One wonders what the passage of Gorgoroth would have been like but for this harsh rebuke by Sam. It was Gollum's cunning that won Frodo the passage of the Emyn Muil and the Marshes, and eluded the guile of Morgul; but it was the succour of Samwise that got him to Mount Doom. It was...[what? Edit] Sam and Gollum are necessary in the Tale of the Ring - Frodo would have perished but for both of them together

of course Bilbo didn't become another ''gollum'' precisely because his unlikely entry into the Tale of the Ring was very different from Gollum - the way of the Ring to his heart was pity, pity and mercy not to strike without need. Well did Gandalf say that the pity of Bilbo may rule the fates of many, and he was well rewarded

Mount Doom, Frodo's forgiveness of Saruman - influence of Gollum, or the Ring? Or both? Seen most clearly in Saruman's reaction, mingled wonder and respect, and hatred.

The Lord of the Rings moves me in so many ways. Tolkien can be as familiar and almost rustic as an apple, and you laugh at his jokes, but it is a work which also rends the very will, and tugs at the heart. When I first read this masterpiece of religious literature it was like the very hand of God had entered into my soul and stirred there, even to the very bottom [change that], and I was moved by unaccustomed [something] - and significantly this is a feeling I get only from the Sacred Liturgy...

Is this worth finishing?

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Guess the quote...

The use of six candlesticks on an Altar with gradines is a Counter-Reformation novelty directed by the Caerimoniale, unheard of in the Patristic or Medieval Church, and owes its origin to the Tridentine reform of the Liturgy, and also the bad taste of the 17th century - compare the Roman ''cotta'' and the use of lace ornamentation. Before the invention of the ''big six'', any additional candles for the greater Double feasts were placed around the Sanctuary in divers parts unconnected with the Altar (such as the Rood Loft). This still seems the best way if you ask me.

So...kudos to whomever can guess who wrote this, and why I find their work magnificent!

''Such childish things as branch candlesticks and other small candlesticks need only be mentioned to be condemned. They are used abroad for the very different purpose of Benediction, and have no meaning on our altars. They offend both against good taste and ecclesiastical propriety; luckily they are not lawful in our Church, for the Ornaments Rubric knows them not.''

Sunday, 26 December 2010


Today, as you can read on The Tridentine Rite blog, is Gaudete Sunday. There is a lightening in the penitential mood of the Advent Season today, and the Ministers of the Mass may wear violet Dalmatic and Tunicle rather than Folded Chasubles (I had planned on writing something about the history of folded chasubles, but since some would question my knowledge based on a simple human error of fact, I have decided against this), though since about the 18th century, where it be the custom, Rose colour vestments may be worn. I must say that I have never actually seen tasteful Rose colour vestments in the flesh before - and for this reason alone would argue for the use of violet Dalmatic and Tunicle over hideous vestments. But what constitutes the colour Rosacea then? Certainly not the sickly bright pink hue which passes for Rose colour in Traddieland, which probably dates no farther back than the mid 20th century - how traditional! I expect that this is more complex than simply saying that any single colour is ''Rose colour'', and a contrary shade isn't (roses come in many colours), and probably entails something of the history of dying. I personally lean more towards a more purple shade of pink, or would simply use purple vestments (a favourite colour of mine) with a pink cruciform or embellishments - which would encompass the memory of both the colour of the Season, and the lighter mood of the Day.

However traditional the use of Rosacea is, Gaudete Sunday is still an excuse to wear pink and drink pink Port. It wasn't for naught that I bought my mother a pink cashmere scarf for ''Boxing Day''. I wanted one myself but when I looked at it I had already spent well in excess on myself.

Friday, 24 December 2010


I wish all those readers of this blog who follow the New Kalendar all the temporal and spiritual blessings in the Lord on this most dear of feasts, the feast of Our Lord's Nativity.

I am off presently to assist at Midnight Mass in my parish, bearing a bottle of now-famous Pinot Grigio (private joke). I shall try to mentally blot out the lace ornamentation, the all too many children on the Sanctuary and whatever mistakes the clergy make and imagine I am far far away in 13th century Pontigny. When I decided to include this I was in fact reminded of that scene from Gosford Park where Lady Trentham scoffs at her breakfast: ''Ewww, bought marmalade...still one can't have everything I suppose.''

A very merry Christmas to you all.

Monday, 20 December 2010

In all fairness...

The general thrust of this blog is, as you can read in the very first post I wrote back in May of this year, to raise awareness about how the Roman Rite (and by extension the whole Sacred Liturgy) has suffered, suffered grievously, at the hands of the very people raised up by God to safeguard it, to be merely links in an everlasting chain (not lords thereof), passing unhindered, certainly not mutilated, the Sacred Liturgy from one generation to the next until Christ comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead. All I aim to do here is to ask honest questions about things which honestly confuse me. Why, for instance, are we to accept, beneath a veil of pseudo-obedience, that Holy Week needed to be ''improved'' by Pius XII and his small oligarchy of self-important liturgists, and that such little oligarchies as these are noble ecclesiastics appointed by God, and therefore having some sort of special insight into the mysteries of Liturgy, and blessing of authority to do as they please? Are we to believe, by extension, that Tradition is inherent in the magisterial rulings, divorced from received custom and orthopraxis and ritual, of the Sacred Congregation of Rites in a way which is superior to the said received ancient custom? If we are to take the ''links in the chain'' analogy, we may well compare the revised Holy Week rites to a serious break in the chain, and the Pope starting a new chain, divorced from Tradition, all by himself; thereby exalting not the greatest mystery of the Faith, the greatest events in the history of the World, but the Pope's sole authority to modify history, and the faith. Is he attempting to destroy the fundamental Christian Mysteries only to remould them according to a fashion of his own imagining, consonant only with his vainglorious hermeneutic of office as pastor of all Christians? I'm sorry but this is not an exaggeration, and I utterly repudiate attempts to lessen the blame on Pius XII (so prevalent in Tradworld), which anger me. Holy Week, need I say, is the most fundamental part of the whole Liturgical Year, where we remember (in an all-encompassing sense) the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Incarnate Lord - a matter infinitely beyond our understanding; at such a solemn and serious time as this we ought to be faithful to Tradition, not a ''tradition'' mediated by a team of liturgists who sought to improve, or embellish, that which came before.

This blog is diametrically opposed to the much-reformed liturgical books of 1962, and not without reason. So-called Traditionalist groups who make use of these books may like to imagine that they contain at least the semblance or ghost of Tradition, and they cite such reasons as ''but the Mass is still vastly in tact, with the Preparatory Prayers, Last Gospel, Offertory prayers, traditional cycle of Scriptural pericopes, the Roman Canon'' etc as reasons for their unreasonable use of these books, but I fear that they misunderstand me when I say the ''liturgical books of 1962.'' Why would you think that I had just the Eucharistic liturgy in mind, and not the entire Liturgy? Mass conforms (ordinarily) to the Office of the Day. Rubricarius of the St Lawrence Press blog writes better on this than I could, but it may suffice to say here that a 1962 Breviary can be divided evenly between two tomes, Tomus Prior and Tomus Alter; before then there were four Volumes, for the four seasons of the year - so much has been cut out.

Opponents of my view of the Liturgy, and they are many, make recourse to a very hackneyed argument. They say ''well if 1962 is not good enough, what is?'' They accuse me of archaism, supplanting the will of the Pope of Rome with the will of the Pope of Liturgiae Causa, that my understanding of Tradition is Protestant, anachronistic etc. Which year is the year of liturgical sublimity they ask? They claim, especially since 2007, that since the Holy Father has designated 1962 as a sort of cut-off year, it is reasonable, in deference to the Pope's authority, to view the liturgical books of 1962 as a go-to year, or at least a go-between year; a brick by brick endeavour, with the more sensible ones using 1962 as a means to an end rather than an end. I must say I find the ''reform of the reform'', two forms existing side-by-side crowd more irksome than than Traddies; they are essentially people completely ignorant of Liturgy, who would have Catholic pseudo-liturgy as a purely Sunday affair, with the social kingship of Christ and various pro-this or anti-that causes of more importance than Tradition, with liturgy in an average parish subsisting in a liturgically relativistic fudge. In other words they are just as traditional as your average Protestant. But coming back to the Traditionalists who at least know '62 for what it is; what do you get from '62 which you don't get from the New Rite, provided that it is done properly? I don't quite understand why you would render support for a cause which is only going to do more harm than good. If you want Tradition, then look to Tradition - but not a tradition which is just as made up as that which you are flying from. The situation reminds me in a certain sense of the debate at Estolad between the fathers of the Fathers of Men in Beleriand (see The Silmarillion, chapter XVII); one of whom said that verily they had fled from the Shadow into the westward shorelands only to find it here before them.

I don't claim to know any answers to the questions I ask here (why else would I ask them?), or to have some great store of my own wisdom built up after years of long and secret study. Especially I do not know how to counter arguments about archaism, and an ''ideal'' year for the Roman Liturgy - such a year does not exist. Personally I hold a very dim view of Rome and her latter dealings with Liturgy, and tend to the view that if you want authentic Liturgy Rome is the last place to look if you want it! No my view is that I would be content to just quietly get on with Liturgy unmolested by the Pope. I have liturgical ''opinions'' (if they can be so called), for example I would use the Julian Kalendar and discreetly disregard such feasts as the Sacred Heart when they come around every year, but I cannot impose them on anybody in my parish. Or perhaps the Roman Liturgy has truly had it; it has served its purpose, but is now so far gone, so changed, having been pushed and pulled about over the centuries by would-be reformers and Popes that any attempt to revive a more holistic Roman Liturgy would indeed merit the charge of Protestantism and archaism; that having at least intelligible motives it would avail nothing but to make a mockery of Liturgy itself.

God alone sees all ends. I only fear that real Tradition in the Roman Church will be driven into catacombs, to be the affair of eccentrics rather than the duty and direction of all devotion and love of all Catholics alike.

The Holy Father is lovin it!

I love the Internet...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Nothing liturgical I'm afraid, I've run out of ideas quite frankly (and inclination to try and think of any - maybe this is redolent of the liturgical darkness before the Dawn, and by extension ''ideas'', as we await the coming of the Light to illumine the cold lands of Men - I don't know, though it is always good to ponder, before writing anything, upon whether the composition itself will make the world any less evil, and avail to render some good, somewhere), though I find it interesting. In 1978 Humphrey Carpenter wrote a book about the Inklings, which is quite interesting for Tolkienists, or those interested in C.S Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield etc (the only living Inkling, now 86, is Tolkien's youngest son Christopher) as persons; in which he pieced together what he thought to be a ''typical'' meeting of the Inklings (it was purely an informal group, and consisted mostly of ale, smoke, literature and debate - had they bothered to keep minutes I think the whole thing would have been a waste of time, and quite boring), based on the writings, style etc of the members. In this conjectural debate (during the Second World War) C.S Lewis said something quite astonishing about the subject of Sympathy, in relation to being aware of the sufferings of people around the world. Now, pick a random Catholic blog and you are likely to be met upon entry by an Anti-Abortion timer, saying that every second you spend on the blog somebody, somewhere, procures an abortion. This is a subject beyond my ability to discuss articulately, or in a way which is at once faithful to Tradition, but also mindful of the agony and doubt of those who seek them. Nevertheless I think this quote is quite apposite vis a vis knowing everything, and the reasonable limits of one's sympathy. It came up briefly in conversation with a friend yestereve, though I cannot recall the context:

''I entirely accept the general principle. We must realise, as Williams would say, that we live in each other. But in purely practical terms, were we meant to know so much about the sufferings of the rest of the world? It seems to me that modern communications are so fast - with the wireless and newspapers and so on [or these days, of course, the Internet] - that there's a burden imposed on our sympathy for which that sympathy just wasn't designed.''

''Give an example,'' says Tolkien.

''That's easy. Now, supposing the poor Joneses family in your own street are having terrible troubles - sickness and so on - well then, obviously it's your duty to sympathise with them. But what about the morning paper and the evening news broadcasts on the wireless, in which you hear all about the Chinese and the Russians and the Finns and the Poles and the Turks? Are you expected to sympathise with them in the same way? I really don't think it's possible, and I don't think it's your duty to try''

''You certainly can't do them any good by being miserable about them,'' says Warnie.

''Ah, but while that's perfectly true it's not the point. In the case of the Jones family next door, you'd think pretty poorly of the man who felt nothing in the way of sympathy for them because that feeling 'wouldn't do them any good.'''

''Are you saying,'' asks Harvard, ''that when we read the newspapers we shouldn't try to sympathise with the sufferings of people we don't know?''

''Jack is probably saying,'' remarks Warnie, ''that we shouldn't read the newspapers at all. You know he never bothers to look at anything other than the crossword.''

''Perfectly true,'' answers his brother. ''And I have two very good reasons for it. First of all I deplore journalism - I can't abide the journalist's air of being a specialist in everything, and of taking in all points of view and always being on the side of the angels. And I hate the triviality of journalism, you know, the sort of fluttering mentality that fills up the page with one little bit about how an actress has been divorced in California, and another little bit about how a train was derailed in France, and another little bit about the birth of quadruplets in New Zealand.''

Well there you are. I agree with Lewis. While we may rightly deplore moral evils, does it really do to be constantly reminded of suffering? By the way this conversation is conjectural, made up (from sources - I recognise a lot of the stuff Tolkien says from his works) by Carpenter. Does anybody find this reminiscent of Lewis' works? Is it to be found, say, in his apologetics?

Friday, 10 December 2010

Christmas shopping...

I'm not dead...yet.

Forgive the lack of posts recently but a tonne of other cares and commitments have distracted me from blogging. To be quite honest one cannot simply summon the Muse, and I have had no inclination (largely due to my job) to write my post about Folded Chasubles, or the ancient liturgical witness to the doctrine of St Mary's Immaculate Conception. There is an element of ''journalism'' to blogging, the impetus to simply churn something out, whatever its merit, which in my view renders blogging rather vulgar...and I guess this has been an element in my recent absence too, as it was in my personal downfall at University - nothing was ever good enough.

I had meant to post this comment to my Facebook but it was rather long and there is a limit to the number of words (or spaces or whatever) that you can post as a Status update, so here goes:

Christmas shopping is such a bore. It renders the Feast sterile since we are, in effect, ''forced'' out of a sense of obligation to be charitable (in a very forced and false way), even if we are not so disposed towards that person, year in year out; routine, running out of ideas about what to buy people etc (and I am by no means the best at knowing what other people want!). That plus the fact that Christmas and Easter seem to be the only things Supermarkets promote (and don't those hackneyed and completely tasteless ''festive'' songs get on your nerves! If I hear Cliff Richard one more time I shall boil over! Though arguably the worst is ''Mary's boy child Jesus Christ'', which if I remember rightly I had to put up with in my own parish at last year's Carol Service before Midnight Mass (why not replace it with Mattins and have the Carol Service at an earlier date?) - the melody is simply hideous and the whole thing theologically inappropriate - ''because of Christmas Day''? Yeah right...), though, of course, no word at all about the Saviour, just discounts on food and drink to maximise profits so that we all greet that most dear of Feasts with binge eating and drinking and a distinct lack of propriety; to feel good about something utterly shameful...I actually despise what Christmas and Easter have become. Commercialism and greed have rendered the two Great Feasts around which the two Cycles of the Liturgical Year are built forever accursed. Alas for Our Lord.

I have worked in retail for the last five years, and the general thrust of half the fiscal year in this industry seems to be towards the promotion of Christmas from August to December; and Easter from January to March or April (depending upon which Sunday Easter falls in the Gregorian Kalendar), with the rest of the year (until August of course) devoted to things like ''back to school'', the Summer and other seasonal things. This, to me, appears to be a reflection (and extension) of mankind's tendency towards greed and incontinence, and a complete lack of patience and rhythm to life, which is essential in the formation of virtue. This is why we have a Liturgical Year, not only to reflect upon the principle Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption, but so that we are kept in patience and rhythm, having fasting and penitence in due season, and feasting and joy in others, but interpenetrating, both being mindful of the other, and not exclusive. I doubt any 20th century would-be reformers of the Liturgy (like most Protestants) understood this - like folded chasubles, abolishing Octaves and Vigils - what do you get from this but the flattenning out of the year?

I was telling my Store Manager (whom I respect) this on Wednesday morning, and he said that he thought I was very intelligent, and that I thought about things ''in a way that is beyond most people who work here'' (his words not mine - though I enjoyed hearing them). Of course it wouldn't do for a multi-million pound company to promote fasting would it? Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to the 12th century (careful to bring my Tolkien books with me), locate a nice Monastery and just experience authentic Liturgy for the rest of my life, speaking nothing but Latin...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Niveus, nivea, niveum...

'And Ilúvatar spoke to Ulmo, and said: ''Seest thou not how here in this little realm in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of thy clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwë, thy friend, whom thou lovest.''

'Then Ulmo answered: ''Truly, Water is become now fairer than my heart imagined, neither had my secret thought conceived the snowflake, nor in all my music was contained the falling of the rain. I will seek Manwë, that he and I may make melodies for ever to thy delight!'' And Manwë and Ulmo have from the beginning been allied, and in all things have served most faithfully the purpose of Ilúvatar.' (J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Ainulindalë).

The above photo I took this morning, before it started snowing again. My two best friends playing in the snow - a welcome sight after the week I've had. Glory to God in all things, especially two silly Labradors playing in the snow.