Thursday, 31 January 2013

More patrimony...


I recommend this post from the now-seemingly-defunct ''Mutual Enrichment'' blog (formerly Liturgical Notes) from when John Hunwicke was still sane. Hunwicke describes the history of the canonisation process relative to the Latinity of the liturgical books and the cult of St Charles the Martyr. That Hunwicke is an unfortunate example of how Popery ruins everything need not be belaboured here to-day. I wonder if Hunwicke commemorated St Charles in whatever service he celebrated yestermorn?

As for me, I was at the Banqueting House at Whitehall yesterday for the annual service put on by the Society of King Charles the Martyr on that solemn and serious day on which barbarous tyranny prevailed against the Lord's Annointed. I was in the company of some very distinguished men, a good many familiar faces, and the ethos of the day's devotions was of goodness, obedience, and no riff-raff. When I was at school and I first saw that famous German relief of the martyrdom of St Charles (at the top of this post), I thought how unnatural it was for a kingdom to kill its own king. Edward II and Richard II (who, one might say, deserved their fates) were ''done away with'' (Richard was most likely starved to death), but this was different. Where these former were supplanted by another King, the death of St Charles heralded the death of Kingship itself. Parliament had passed an act making kingship obsolete even so. St Charles was brought to ''trial'' by mere force of arms, was ''judged'' by an oligarchy of his enemies, men of reprobate religious minds, and was publically executed as a ''traitor'' and enemy of the state - charges actually fitting the leaders of the parliamentarians themselves. The death of St Charles was illegal, unjustifiable, an act of judicial murder and an absolute, unmitigated atrocity. A black day for this Kingdom, forsooth!


A most distinguished friend and I were musing over lunch afterward about the relationship of unsound political opinions and unsound religious opinions, that they always seem to interpenetrate. The Regicides (correct me if I am mistaken) were all Puritans. Most of the Parliamentarians were Puritans. The Kirk of Scotland (James VI and I having re-established episcopacy in 1584 notwithstanding), which was where the Civil War really started, was ''Presbyterian'' in polity. The Protectorate abolished liturgy, bishops, suppressed the writings of the Caroline Divines and their Jacobean fathers and set about a movement of gross Iconoclasm far worse than that of the reign of Edward VI. Oliver Cromwell, so clearly fanatical and a regicidal lunatic, epitomises the dangers of Protestantism. That just leaves the Roman Catholics. During the reign of Elizabeth I there were popish plots, in France, Spain and Rome, ordered to one end: her assassination and the coronation of Mary Stuart who would, presumably, once again impose Romanism on the land. Thankfully, Francis Walsingham exposed most of them, but they never really went away, and really we ought to consider their implications for societal and religious order. Such things as Regnans in Excelsis of ''saint'' Pius V, in which the pope released the English from loyalty to their Sovereign; Guy Fawkes and his notorious plot to ruin the Kingdom by the shedding of blood; the fact that so many recusant Roman Catholics were willing to commit murder, espionage and other acts of treachery for the sake of the ordinances of the pope, all of these things justify the Penal Laws. If a group or cult is dangerous, naturally the State takes measures to suppress their activities and influence on public life. Modern Roman Catholics are really no different to their 16th and 17th century ancestors, just as dangerous, just as contemptuous of the Church Established and the Monarchy. Irish Republicans are a noteworthy example, as are some traditionalists. They all have this hubris about the fact that The Queen is an Anglican, that the finest churches in the land (built before the Reformation) are Anglican churches which ought to be ''given back'' (to whom?). So what? Should your personal loyalty and obedience to the Sovereign be less because she is not a Roman Catholic? I'm sorry but this attitude of modern Roman Catholics to the Sovereign, which is the latter day yoke of Pius V and Guy Fawkes but lulled to sleep, is a most uncatholic and unnatural tendency and contrary to the express word of Scripture:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.
 

 
As for the cult of St Charles the Martyr, what is the problem? Does the Second Vatican Council not say that many elements of sanctity and piety exist beyond the confines of the Roman communion? And are not episcopacy, ecclesiastical polity, kingship and tradition not worthy causes for which to die? But then the Romans would interject and say that St Charles had a few priests put to death and was obstinate, could be fickle and uncompromising. Oh I see, so you'd rather venerate Pius V who encouraged the assassination of Blessed Elizabeth and oversaw many uncatholic reforms in his pontificate? But it doesn't matter, does it? Personal piety, deference to a regal tradition, etc mean nothing to Roman Catholics. The real reason they cannot stand St Charles is because he would not bend the knee to Rome. And so I might conclude by repeating what I said earlier: unsound political and unsound religious opinions do indeed interpenetrate, for they proceed from the same delusion. In other words, Roman Catholics are just ritualistic puritans; and puritans are just unsmiling Roman Catholics. Two sides of the same coin, with one side featuring the head of Oliver Cromwell, and the other the bishop of Rome. And who can tell the difference? How, exactly, was Cromwell any different to somebody like Pius XII?
 
St Charles, King and Martyr, pray for us.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The King's Most Sacred Majesty...



In the Year of the Lord 1610 John Speed published his Atlas, entitled The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, wherein he said of the vale of the Red Horse in Warwickshire, a county so dear to Blessed Tolkien 300 years later:

''Meadowing pastures with the green mantle so embroidered with flowers that from Edgehill we might behold another Eden.''

Thirty-two years later, on October 23rd 1642, St Charles The King looked down into that same valley from that same hill and beheld not Eden but an army of traitors bent on the breaking of his power. Sir Edmund Verney stood nigh to The King and had the honour of bearing the Royal Standard. Verney was among the 3,000 who perished in that battle, the Standard being an obvious target, but his body was never found. Of course, a raw body count avails little to convey the tragedy of those days, a strife begotten of heresy twixt father and son, friend and friend, layman and bishop. Only in the high Summer of that year Verney had, in dismay, written that he hoped that The King would yield and find common ground with his enemies, but:

''My conscience is only concerned in honour and gratitude to follow my master. I have eaten his bread and served him near thirty years and will not do so base a thing as to forsake him.''
 

Tolkien wrote in the 1960s that loyalty, understood as a virtue, became virtuous only when put to the test so to abandon it. I'm sure that when he died Verney was well-rewarded, being received into the Kingdom with the words: Euge, serve bone et fidelis!

But of course, this is not about the Civil War, except by accident. This is about kingship, obedience and the very nature of the Church herself. For that which went to the heart of that cold day, when St Charles, who kept his dignity in defiance of his enemies, took centre stage on the theatre of British history, was the doctrine of episcopacy. From the Cathedral of St Giles in 1637, when Jenny Geddes and the other peasants threw their stools at the Dean who read the Collect from the Prayer Book, even to the scaffold St Charles symbolised the catholicity of the Church united in the apostolic episcopate; and the bloody conflict of those days was a war on Christ's Church. ''It was for the Church,'' wrote Gladstone, ''that Charles shed his blood upon the scaffold.'' John Henry Newman wrote similarly before his apostasy to Rome, though I cannot presently remember the sermon (I wonder what his views were after 1845?).


On the morning of January 30th 1648, St Charles was led through the Banqueting House with the Bishop of London, who had arrived early to read Mattins with The King and administer the Blessed Sacrament. It was dim inside; the windows were boarded up, the glorious Rubens ceiling, which immortalised the reign of James VI and I and told aright the meaning of Kingship, mortified by the dark. After some delay, at two o'clock The King stepped onto the scaffold and spoke to the people, saying that he had desired only their liberty, but: ''...their liberty and freedom consists in having government. It is not their having a share in the government; that is nothing appertaining unto them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things.'' His last word, uttered mysteriously to the Bishop of London, was ''Remember!'' I find this heartening, and on so solemn and serious a day we do well to remember, for Tradition itself is Memory, even as found in the writings of Tolkien; solemn and waking remembrance of the traditions we have received in Christ. It is by this waking memory that Christ is present among us. ''I die a Christian,'' said St Charles, ''according to the profession of the Church of England as I found it left to me by my father.'' He died well and in the fear of the Lord; unlike Oliver Cromwell, the base master of treachery, who died writhing in agony.

Does anybody know why Victoria removed St Charles from the Prayer Book?

Please forgive these halting words.
 
St Charles, King and Martyr, pray for us.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Equality...



I have been in the midst of debates of this sort before and find them upsetting. They could have picked a better-qualified opponent, though; I found this woman to be rather opinionated and ignorant, not to mention incapable of answering even the most basic of Mr Ozimic's points with a reasoned argument. All she could do was utter her outrage that someone could hold views contrary to her own, and she was clearly encouraged by the presenters. I knew Mr Ozimic, of course. He and I were Facebook friends, when I had an account, but I guess the ''friendship'' waned, as he unfriended me for some obscure reason, and then shunned me when last I was at St Bede's church, which was Palm Sunday last year - I only went as I could not tolerate an abridged Passion narrative at St Magnus the Martyr. Never mind.

I'm afraid that there is no way for me to approach this ''gay marriage'' controversy with a sense of detachment. All I can say is that equality, the philosophy of egalitarianism, doesn't work, not just because ''equality'' always comes at the expense of somebody else but because it goes against the grain of human nature which is selfish, destructive, seeking ever for mastery and subjection. Why would you want to be somebody's equal when you could be their master instead? Ironically this view interpenetrates with Mr Ozimic's own views about the monopoly of heterosexual, married people over human sexuality - basically, ''we can shag but you can't.'' Notice that with great care he doesn't quote the Scriptures nor does he make any allusion to the fact that his reasoned beliefs are in fact shaped by Roman Catholic doctrine. Unfortunately when you make such concessions as ''some things change, others remain the same,'' and then fail to qualify that with why? Who decides that? Then, are we to believe your other arguments? For example, where Scripture says that women are to keep silence in church, where does this leave cultural progression? Does it thus creep into the Church and become ''acceptable'' later just because some subsequent person has interpreted the Word anew? Well, who is that? The pope? If so, by what authority has he overturned the Tradition of the Church? This alone highlights the legal fluctuation in the Roman communion (that is, where Pius X forbids women to sing in church and then Pius XII says that they can) in a more obvious way than the case of, say, serfdom and slavery. Of course, these days Rome might as well declare the better part of the history of civilisation never to have happened by declaring slavery to be a societal evil contrary to the dignity of the human person. Where aforetime slavery was a cultural norm accepted (or at least tolerated) by the Church, is it not hypocritical not to extend the dignity to homosexuals? It is as if the pope is raising his right hand in benediction and lambasting the doubly-wronged homosexual community with the other. I wonder where ''Gorgeous George,'' his private secretary, comes into it?

Don't let's forget that Mr Ozimic's homophobia  - the accusation is not without foundation - is revealed in his unscientific belief that homosexuality is not innate and that it is the result of childhood trauma, ''a fault in development or experience,'' I think his words were. I wonder where he gets these ideas from? You will look in vain to the Scriptures, still less the ill-defined formulas of the Roman catechism. Perhaps Mr Ozimic confuses schoolyard bully tactics, beating up the pansies, with orthodoxy? It is often the case with religious people of this sort, in my experience (the fact that I was publicly expelled from the sacristy of a certain church two years ago). In which case, what arbitrary distinction does he draw between indiscriminate homophobia (such as, for example, supporting the risible ban on homosexual men from joining the priesthood) and faithful, charitable adherence to the doctrine of Rome concerning homosexuality? ''We do not hate or fear homosexuals...,'' hmmm, well clearly. I think you fail in a very serious way in the pastoral care of homosexuals when you repeat the philosophy of your belief system over and over and over ad nauseum, and to what purpose? To instill a sense of self-loathing in your congregation? This has nothing to do with the concupiscence of all men; it is a fact that homosexuals are singled out by the Roman communion as deviants, that the problem is an evil fruit of the Fall. What do you want from us? Shall we take up whips and practise flagellation as we recite Leviticus 18:22 over and over to ourselves?

I think it was Ronald Knox who said that far from being intellectual suicide, assent to revealed doctrines of the Church was the height of human intellectual activity. Well, if blind acceptance of a set of formularies and speculations about the nature of homosexuality, which ultimately boil down to the obsession of power and self-abasement (''islam!''), is intellectual activity then I'll shew you a green dog. I honestly don't think that such opinions should be entertained in civilised society, especially when there is a closed-mindedness on one side and an inability to accept remonstrance to the contrary. I know of a Roman priest who refused to watch Brian Sewell's The Naked Pilgrim because Sewell, an expert in Art history, is homosexual. Is that not homophobia? Yea more! Why, for example, do people like Mr Ozimic not think that homosexuality is innate, and on what are they basing that belief? I grew up in a homophobic household; both my parents have consistently condemned homosexuality throughout the duration of my life, and yet I turned out to be homosexual. Was my homosexuality, then, learned in childhood? I certainly never asked for it! And far from being a ''temptation,'' let me be quite clear when I say that I am not now nor have I ever been attracted to any woman.

But I'm just wasting my breath, aren't I?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Telperion...


I was actually looking for a better Audrey Hepburn photo (I do have plenty) but settled on this. I found this exquisite photo about 8 or 9 years ago on AOL. Before they changed everything they used to hold photo competitions, where members could send in their best photos and (presumably) win a prize of some sort. I found this one for the month of Foreyule (I now use the Shire Kalendar in most secular matters), and thought it very lovely. It is almost as I imagine Telperion, the White Tree of the Valar.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Nivea...


Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Audrey Hepburn, my great icon since childhood. I don't remember her death, though I do remember her most famous films. It was my Irish grandmother who exposed me to them. Audrey really was a paragon of beauty and the archetypal lady, a well-educated, loving (she had a great store of love and a tremendous need to give it) woman who lived a fascinating life. At the end of her days she had accomplished so much for the benefit of humanity and died in peace, though untimely, and I daresay in the grace of God. As I sit here in the dining room, looking out through the French doors onto the garden as the Lord sends downs snow from the heavens to blanket the world in quiet, I am reminded of the song of the High Elves in the Woody End, who sang a song of Valinor to Varda, Queen of the Stars.

Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!
 
Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.
 
O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!
 
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.
 
I just finished watching Roman Holiday, now in its 60th year. Women like to Audrey are few and far between nowadays, for women have become more like men; they dress like men, act like men, take men's jobs. This has nothing to do with how attractive you are, or how much foundation you paint onto your face; femininity is an innate quality which has been sapped from society (and from the various churches).
 
Anyway, without going on, I commit the soul of Audrey Hepburn to the care of the Almighty. May she rest in peace. Amen.
 
A note on the photo: Not the most glamorous, perhaps, but I've been having trouble uploading images to Blogger this past week; even URLs don't seem to be recognised. How annoying, but then I'm not technically minded.

Bagme Bloma...

 
In 1936 J.R.R Tolkien composed a poem in the Gothic language which was published in a collection called Songs of the Philologists. He said that Gothic was a beautiful language, and ''reached the eminence of liturgical use,'' only to be supplanted by Latin due to the tragic history of the Gothic people. I myself tried (but ultimately failed) to learn Gothic some years ago by purchasing a Primer, which is still upstairs with my other language books. I was left with few Gothic words but a strong sense of the form and aesthetic appeal to Tolkien. There was a Gothic bishop at the Council of Nicaea, 325. Another bishop, Wulfila, an Arian, translated the New Testament from Greek into Gothic. His translation survives in the Codex Argenteus, which was probably the principle source of vocabulary for modern scholars like Tolkien. Certainly Tolkien's poem isn't ''real'' Gothic; some words he constructed in a conjectured Gothic form based on other Germanic words. See what you think.
 
Brunaim bairiþ Bairka bogum
laubans liubans liudandei,
gilwagroni, glitmunjandei,
bagme bloma, blauandei,
fagrafahsa, liþulinþi,
fraujinondei fairguni.
 
The birch bears fine leaves on shining boughs, it grows pale green and glittering, the flower of the trees in bloom, fair-haired and supple-limbed, the ruler of the mountain.
Wopjand windos, wagjand lindos,
lutiþ limam laikandei;
slaihta, raihta, hweitarinda,
razda rodeiþ reirandei,
bandwa bairhta, runa goda,
þiuda meina þiuþjandei.
 
The winds call, they shake gently, she bends her boughs low in sport; smooth, straight and white-barked, trembling she speaks a language, a bright token, a good mystery, blessing my people.
Andanahti milhmam neipiþ,
liuhteiþ liuhmam lauhmuni;
laubos liubai fliugand lausai,
tulgus, triggwa, standandei
Bairka baza beidiþ blaika
fraujinondei fairguni.
 
Evening grows dark with clouds, the lightning flashes, the fine leaves fly free, but firms and faithful the white birch stands bare and waits, ruling the mountain.
 
This translation is not Tolkien's own but that of Rhona Beare, who wrote to Tolkien in 1958 about a few inconsistencies and curiosities in the first edition of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's reply, letter 211 in The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, is well worth reading. I think this is remarkable.
 
Art: Ted Nasmith. It is a very treeish poem, and the image of ''ruling the mountain'' put me in mind of Fladrif and his people. Fladrif was an Ent who, along with Fangorn and Finglas, was among the oldest to still walk the woods in the latter days of the Third Age. He used to live on the mountain slopes west of Isengard but removed to the high places among the birchwoods when the orcs came and hewed down much of the woods there to feed the fires of Orthanc. He will not come down.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Twelfth Night...


A bit late, but I have been preoccupied with personal matters, both today and yestereven. A very happy feast to you all!

Behold! The King of Kings!

For Joseph Shaw...


The age-old debate about Communion in the hand.

My point is that communion in the hand is not an evil of this world, as some would have us think, like to burning the bodies of the dead (approved by Rome since the days of pope Paul VI). St Caedmon's death was quite telling in this respect. He too took the Eucharist into his hands, and was not so much concerned with prostrating himself or swinging a thurible as the time of Mattins. Leaving aside questions of communion under both kinds, which naturally ties in with the manner of reception, I'd like to know wherefore the more recent praxis (a veritable usus recentior, one might say!) of receiving the Sacrament to yourselves is seen as necessarily superior to reception in the hand? Fear of irreverence or contamination is one thing but when you set yourselves up as better off presenting yourselves with an open mouth rather than open hands for theological reasons - reasons which, to my knowledge, didn't exist before the days of Thomas Aquinas - and condemn those who, in good faith, avail themselves of the more ancient manner of reception, then, your whole argument comes crashing down. For if reception on the tongue is the more fitting custom, for reasons of a more nuanced discernment of Christ's sacramental presence, then what shall we say of our catholic forebears who did not know this custom? Do you suppose that their belief in the Real Presence was less than yours, or somehow undeveloped or even indifferent? If the manner of reception is to be seen through the prism of modern praxis then you are, by implication, anathematising those who hold to a different legitimate custom, and your appeal to Tradition is therefore a red herring. Would you condemn someone for standing to receive, as is the tradition of the Orthodox who do not kneel on the Lord's Day just because it differs from the custom of the Latin Rite? Catholicity is not synonymous with uniformity. I think that so long as someone presents themselves in humility and good faith to receive, that they are properly disposed and in a state of grace, then it doesn't matter whether they stand or kneel, or receive on the tongue or in the hand. Both customs are good and have an age-long witness of the Church. It behoves us all to remember that, deference to the local custom notwithstanding, outward deportment does not always reflect inward piety, and vice versa. But then I would say also that making a shew of yourself in a church where one manner is preferred to the other by doing contrary for reasons other than fitness or health is also distasteful. In which case before you thought well enough of yourself to receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper then it would do you well to go back to your place and read St Matthew's Gospel, where Christ said: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Even worse when you complain about it! To condemn a priest to his bishop (or even going above the authority of the bishop by an appeal to Rome!) who did not meet your needs, who did not understand your disposition, who refused to accommodate your demand, is little short of evil and schismatic on your part, and I would personally question your fittingness to receive in the first place - from a safe enough distance of having not personally received since Easter Sunday 2011, and that from the hands of a renegade priest.

Without going on and on about it, suffice it to say here that in my opinion there are worse things in life, and where, in all honesty, I have uttered my own judgement about a man's inward state of grace to receive, that judgement is really neither mine nor yours.

Friday, 18 January 2013

I'm afraid...


...that writer's block has struck again. It's strange, I can write without interruption until some point and then I get stuck on an idea and can move on no more. Very frustrating. There are a few posts in preparation, though I shall probably try to merge them into one essay. But if this proves to be anything like my ''The Heresy of Ultramontanism, Part II,'' started three years ago, it will never see the light of day. This is what I hate about blogging - that to sustain a readership you have to become as vulgar as a journalist and churn out any old rubbish on a daily basis.

I need to write something about gold and silver in Tolkien for my friend who is an expert on silver. It is telling that the One Ring was made of gold, not silver, for Tolkien said in an essay on Morgoth that in the dissemination of his power into the fabric of the earth, rendering the very world itself tend to evil, there was more of a ''Morgoth ingredient'' in gold than in silver, beloved of the Elves. I can't remember why he thought this but I've always had some affinity with the notion as I've personally always found gold to be quite an unpleasant metal, to both touch and sight. Remember mithril and the fortunes of the Dwarves of Dwarrowdelf and the Gnomes of Hollin? It was silver that they loved best.

Art: Ted Nasmith. My guess is that the river is the Silverlode, in which case we're on the wrong side of the Misty Mountains to be talking about Hollin, but Khazad-dûm lies under those peaks.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Leeks...


Fr Chadwick referred to an interesting blog yestereven, called A Clerk of Oxford. Well anyway, I thought it worthwhile and will add it to my blogroll once I get it fixed. I was struck by this post, from October of 2010, about St Edward the Confessor. I never before thought of the King Elessar in this light, though by his longevity, his lore, his courage and his countenance the dignity of the old Númenóreans kings was renewed. Go over and see the comparison the author makes, which I hadn't made before.

Art: Ted Nasmith. It's not at all as I imagined the Argonath, which, though carved out of the rock in the days of the decline of Gondor, still held a terrific majesty, enough to inspire awe and fear in her foes and friends alike. You remember the fear that the silent sentinels Númenor inspired in the Fellowship as they passed into the ancient borders of Gondor? That even Boromir bowed his head? Not Aragorn! Under the shadow of those gates the Heir of Isildur had naught to fear. It always gave me a sense of perspective - that if the craft of Gondor, which was a realm in exile, was so great even in decline, just think of how great the majesty of the Kings of Númenor must have been, even (or especially, we might say) in the days of the domination of Sauron. When Ar-Pharazôn came with war upon the West the Valar must have been afraid, not for themselves, but for the sheer splendour and immensity of that fleet, the power of Men grown fierce. In the King Elessar this splendour was renewed, but blessed with that wisdom and reverence of the Eldar which had been in times past the mark of the old kings. It is noteworthy that among the very few references to a recognisable ''religion'' in Tolkien are the pious practices of Men; the custom of facing Westward in silence before meet by the Dúnedain, and the ancient custom of the King presiding over the Three Prayers to Eru on the summit of Meneltarma in the midst of Númenor.

You can see how Tolkien saw kingship, then; not as an obsolete form of government but as an institution incidental and inherent to a Christian (or pre-Christian in this sense) society. The King is anointed by God and renders to Him fitting laud at the times appointed in the name of his people, and he rules over his people with justice and wisdom, who are above lesser men.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

In response...


...to a comment made by the reader James C.

I know of many Roman Catholics who choose to remain Roman Catholics despite their lack of belief in that system, men much more intelligent than me. Maybe they haven't the heart to take their families into a kind of cultural and religious exile, or maybe they're unwilling to travel miles out of their way on a Sunday morning to attend church services in Greek or Russian, which they know not, and where they are foreigners; still less to give countenance to various schismatic groups (such as the Old Catholics). The ones I have difficulty with are people like my mother, a woman who hasn't been to church for ten years but would take up the defence of Romanism if you spoke any calumny against it. She once said, after an altercation on the matter, that ''the holy father is the leader of our church.'' I just gave up and went to my room. It's that kind of dormant cultural attachment, which at a pinch turns into something militant, which I find disturbing about religion.

I will eventually move on from all this. Already I am sick to death of all this polemic, and I understand the points you raise about intellectual dissonance; although maybe I don't understand why you ask the question. Tolkien himself will remain ever in my affections as I esteem him as the single most gifted writer of the 20th century, and as I said earlier, a man of genuine wisdom and good faith. It can, contrary to what you may think of me, exist in the Latin communion, has in times past, and I daresay still does - though seldom among the traditionalists. They are where I draw the line, I find them dispicable. But Tolkien was not a recogniseable ''traditionalist,'' even if he did lament the liturgical and ecclesial changes towards the end of his life. Terms like ''holy father'' were in his vocabulary, but is that not indicative of the era in which he lived? Suffice it to say that were he alive and well to see Summorum Pontificum he would have rejected it as a lot of lies, which it undoubtedly is. Tolkien reverenced Tradition (which is evident from his work), not defective liturgical books fraught with so much ideology and prejudice. I believe I am still waiting, two years later, for a Roman Catholic to furnish me with proof that the liturgical books of 1962 were never juridically abrogated. You have asked for proof for my belief that Tolkien would join the Orthodox Church today, so where is your proof about that!

But, quite frankly, who gives a shit? This blog will not close any time soon though I may devote it entirely to Tolkien's legendarium, much more within my capabilities than all this polemic, and nobody listens anyway.Two years ago, before I ''officially'' left the Latin communion, this blog was very lively. Now readers have dwindled to a few core people, who comment occasionally. Where, then, is the impetus to continue? I have more or less run out of things to say, and sometimes think of myself as I write posts of little worth on here as like to that orc among the lowlands of Emyn Muil going down to the green fields of Rohan, where he said: '''Curse the Isengarders! Uglúk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob búbhosh skai!:' he passed into a long angry speech in his own tongue that slowly died away into muttering and snarling.'' Maybe you'd agree with this?

Actually, I want no more part of it. Though I keep the company of Christians, of different persuasions, I will not go to church anymore, nor will I say any Office. Well, what's the point if I am in communion with no bishop? My interest in liturgy remains, and I will still read Tolkien with the same enthusiasm I always had, but my appetite for ''church'' has all but disappeared. I want nothing more these days than to wake up late on a Sunday morning and not have to go anywhere or do anything. Once again I think I am burnt out. Maybe I will die in this state? Who knows.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

pope, pope, pope...


I see that no one responded to the post wherein I copied verbatim pope Gregory the Great's letter to the Emperor about the nature of episcopacy. Perhaps the nature of what people actually believed about the papacy (well, there was no such institution back then!) at the time is unclear from that letter? Well, let's try another letter, this time from the Archbishops of Trèves and Cologne to pope Nicholas I, who, having passed an unjust sentence upon the former, vainly supposed that he had some kind of immediate jurisdiction beyond the confines of Rome:

''Without a council, without canonical inquiry, without accuser, without witnesses, without convicting us by arguments or authorities, without our consent, in the absence of the metropolitans and of our suffragan bishops, you have chosen to condemn us, of your own caprice, with tyrannical fury. But we do not accept your accursed sentence, so repugnant to a father’s or a brother’s love; we despise it as mere insulting language; we expel you yourself from our communion, since you commune with the excommunicate; we are satisfied with the communion of the whole Church and with the society of our brethren whom you despise and of whom you make yourself unworthy by your pride and arrogance. You condemn yourself when you condemn those who do not observe the apostolic precepts which you yourself are the first to violate, annulling as far as in you lies the Divine laws and the sacred canons, and not following in the footsteps of the popes, your predecessors...''

It's interesting that an Orthodox ecclesiology still prevailed in the West, at least at the metropolitan level, whereas the arrogance of Nicholas I (who was despised by his own people) still festered away in Rome. Could you imagine a modern day Roman Catholic saying such things as ''we are satisfied with the communion of the whole Church,'' and expelling the pope from the society of Christians for not following the sacred canons and traditions of his predecessors? No mention here is made of being subject to the holy father being necessary for salvation, thou art Peter, binding, loosing, infallible, kiss my toe or burn in Hell, etc. Seen through the prism of modern ecclesiologies, this letter almost validates the position of the Sedevacantists. I mean at least they, while having not thoroughly shaken off the yoke of popery, have seen that communion with the ''neo-Modernist'' popes is superfluous to the Gospel.

In short, the Papacy is a vile institution bethought of the Devil which makes a mockery of episcopacy. The doctrine of Papal Infallibility is repugnant to the Gospel and is a heresy worse than the christological heresies which plagued the early Church, and people subject to the pope are in danger of eternal damnation.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Tolkien's Patron...



St John the Evangelist from the Old English ''Grimbald Gospels,'' early 11th century. The impression I get is ''Western yet Orthodox.'' I get the same feeling from memories of having visited churchyards and the ruins of monasteries in Cornwall and Ireland, all those ominous standing crosses, and, curiously, my impression of the Barrow-downs and the ruins of Weathertop. Tom Bombadil's description of the mounds in the grassy hills, and Frodo's vision of the shadow shapes of men stalking through the hills in times past, a vision of that which has been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time. Like old English Orthodoxy.

Now I am off to finish reading The Hobbit. I tried to read it back in September, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its publication, but I was too depressed. As it happens, Bilbo and the Dwarves have successfully opened the ''secret door'' into the Lonely Mountain and the Dwarves are all counting on Bilbo to go down to do something about Smaug and earn his share in the treasure. That I have reached this far is a very good sign indeed.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Merrie Christmass!


On the Eighth Day of the Kalends of January, under a new moon, long ages having passed since the Creation of the World, when in the beginning God created Heaven and Earth, and formed Man unto His image; even many ages from when the Almighty placed a rainbow in the clouds after the Flood, a sign of covenant and of peace; twenty one ages from the migration of Abraham, our Father in Faith, out of Ur of the Chaldeans; thirteen ages from the flight of the people of Israel, lead by Moses, out of Egypt; around a thousand years from the annointing of David unto the kingship, in the sixty fifth week, according to the Prophet Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety fourth Olympiad; the seven hundred and fifty second year from the making of the City; the forty second year of the reign of Caesar Augustus Octavian; the whole World united in peace, Jesus Christ, eternal God and eternal Son of the Father, desiring to consecrate the world by His most religious coming, being conceived by the Holy Ghost, and nine months having passed since His conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea, was made man from the Virgin Mary. Today is the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.
The Roman Martyrology.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Benedictio Aquarum...


Rubricarius of the St Lawrence Press has recommended a very decent book which I too recommend. The Lord Marquess of Bute compiled a comparative ''Blessing of the Waters on the Eve of the Epiphany'' in 1901; very informative. One thing I'm not sure about, though. Does the modern Roman blessing differ in any way from the simple blessing of holy water given in the Ritus Servandus for use before high Mass on Sunday? If so, to what purpose would the modern blessing on Epiphany even be?

Once again the popes have excelled themselves in their careful guardianship of Liturgy! Where aforetime, in the Roman Rite, the solemn blessing was a reflection of the Baptism of the Lord, which encompassed all the seasonal mysteries of the Lord's manifestation to the world according to the flesh (not just the adoration of the Magi, as in the liturgy of the Mass), the new form was shorn of all that meaning. I suppose you could call it tragic, but if most Roman Catholics aren't even aware of the existence of this blessing, to what extent can it be even seen as tragic? I expect that quite a lot of liturgical customs of this sort were let by the wayside in the history of the Church and were soon forgotten by all but the most astute of liturgical historians. It calls to mind what I said a while ago about memory and tradition - that Tradition, being the waking memory of the Church, serves to quicken the Christian people in the mysteries of Salvation by the simple continuation of that which has been passed down from generation to generation, unaltered. When this tradition is interrupted or stopped by authority, then the Church looses something important, and that particular aspect of Christ's Incarnate life becomes obsolete, a dry idea with little meaning or application. In this case, how many Roman Catholics understand the blessing of lustral water in the light of Christ's Baptism, indeed our own Baptism into Christ? But no, Rome abolishes ancientry and replaces it with brown scapulars and ladies of Fatima.

Precursors of Antichrist...


In the pope's own words to the Emperor at Constantinople:

''I pray your Imperial Piety to observe that there are some frivolous things that are inoffensive, but also some things that are very hurtful. When Antichrist shall come and call himself God, it will be in itself a perfectly frivolous thing, but a very pernicious one. If we choose to consider the number of syllables in this word, we find but two [Deus], but if we conceive the weight of iniquity of this title, we shall find it enormous. I say it without the least hesitation, whosoever styles himself the universal bishop, or desires this title, is, by his pride, THE PRECURSOR OF ANTICHRIST, because he thus attempts to raise himself above the others. The error into which he falls springs from pride equal to that of Antichrist; for as the Wicked One wished to be regarded as exalted above other men, like a god, so likewise whoever would be called sole bishop exalteth himself above others.''
Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, quoted in The Papacy by Abbe Guettee.

I defy advocates of popery to equate the orthodoxy and humility of St Gregory with the pretensions of the Ultramontane popes! Where Pastor Aeternus says that the popes enjoy immediate jurisdiction and authority over the whole church, a petrine right (they say) founded on Scripture and Tradition; and St Gregory I says that anyone who claims to be universal bishop is an antichrist, exalting himself over the bishops of the Church, that making such a claim undermines the authority of each bishop in his own diocese; where is the consistency in this? Is this another one of those examples of the ''development of doctrine'' (a 19th century theory), ''the hermeneutic of continuity,'' or are we presented here with truth on the one hand and falsehood on the other? It reminds me of Finrod Felagund's counsel to Andreth on the claims of Morgoth to universal kingship over Middle-earth, which therefore is more likely to lie: those who make themselves humble or he that exalts himself?

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Tolkien the sexist...

A reader alerted me to this article about The Hobbit (I couldn't actually tell whether it was about the book or the film trilogy) this morning. The author, clearly someone who never actually read the book, is the editor of Time magazine. Let me say now that I am desperate to get out of my current job. Unfortunately, because I do not have a degree, or any work experience other than retail administration and stock control, I am stuck here. But there are people out there of less worth than myself who can churn out rubbish like this and be paid a fortune for it?

Life! Who would choose it?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Tolkien the byrding...


I hadn't forgotten that Blessed Tolkien is the byrding today, the Octave day of St John the Evangelist according to the new kalendar. I refer back to a post I published two years ago today, which has proved quite popular since. Actually, I neglected to add a quotation I found from one of Tolkien's private, unpublished letters, and from the very year in which Maxima Redemptionis came into force:

''I feel a little dislocated and even a little sad at my age to know that the ceremonies and modes so long familiar and deeply associated with the season will never be heard again!'' (Letter to Patricia  Kirke, 28th March 1956). Spy Wednesday - how apposite! It is likely, therefore, that Tolkien had Palm Sunday in mind when he wrote this.

The above photo is a Tolkien family photo taken in 1955. I don't know everyone but present are Edith (Tolkien's wife), Hilary Tolkien (his brother), Fr John Tolkien (his son), and on the far right is Jane Neave, (Tolkien's aunt).

Three men in a pew...



It's a weekday evening. It's the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is a high Mass according to the 1962 missal in a dingy church in the heart of the City. At the front pew are sat three figures. One, a woman in fact, who is always early (in order to have a chat with father), and two men, though they are not together. The woman is grotesque and a sycophant (well, they're all sycophants) and is sat right at the centre, as close to the sanctuary as humanly possible. There is one of these in every parish; you know the sort - a bully who hangs around the priest like a bad smell, sticks her nose into every aspect of parish business, and is obsessed with every word which comes from the mouth of her lord pope (and the sacerdotal phallus, I shouldn't wonder), likes to feel important. I wrote about one two years ago. Next to her, though a little way down as madam likes her space, is an ignorant man clutching an old missal while pretending to know his place in it. He is a used car salesman, would have us think that he is an expert (though his ''expertise'' is derived solely from a few pages in his 1958 (it's before the wicked Council!) copy of ''Fortescue,'' Michael Davies and the LMS magazine), tries to conceal his accent, drinks cheap wine, and likes to go home feeling fat and important at having once again witnessed to the papal lies contained in Summorum Pontificum and being part of a clique. It's that sort of ''I go to a traditional Latin mass every Sunday, my life is so wonderful'' triumphalism that puts people off religion. A wet brown paper bag of a man, who bows to the Lady Altar at every mention of St Mary - the quintessential closeted homosexual. Next to him is a nutcase whom nobody likes, a crypto-sedevacantist who believes that pope Paul VI lives somewhere in the jungles of Brazil, that the pope's cassock is actually made up of tiny white neo-Modernist demons, and sits in his armchair slapping himself and muttering when not making intercession unto Pius XII to deliver the church from the heresies of Vatican II. He lives with mummy, of course.

Mass begins as usual, with madam trying at once to sing with the amateur choir who can't sing in tune and copy the ministers at the altar. Bag man flicks through the pages of his missal and occasionally looks up and around to make sure people aren't observing his idiocy, while the nutcase sits back in his pew and drools out of the side of his mouth. The deacon of the mass trips over his lace curtains as he ascends the altar (serves him right as he began the ascent with his left foot), and is assisted back to his feet by the MC, a wise and benevolent man who is stuck in that unfortunate milieu. Mass continues with the usual cock ups, one part idiotic rubrics of the 1962 missal, two parts incompetence of the ministers. The MC turns to one of the acolytes and sighs audibly as the deacon struggles to pronounce the Latin of the gospel.


Then comes the sermon! The topic of the sermon is ''BVM so wonderful that she actually took her Son's place on the Cross,'' but somehow the preacher drifts into a rant about the evils of homosexuality, making intercession to the sacred foreskin, quoting the decrees of popes and trying desperately to conceal both his camp lisp and the identity of his own secret male partner. Of course, madam sat listening with a grin so ugly that it quite unnerved one of the servers, who turned away in disgust. Credo III is intoned by the celebrant and madam takes over, drowning out the sound of the choir and everybody else in the congregation. Bag man lets on he knows the words by chanting Patrem omnipotentem at the top of his voice and then moving his lips up and down; once again hoping that nobody sees him. Nutcase just sits there. The offertory comes and those half asleep in the congregation are woken to the sound of a great crash from the sanctuary - the clumsy deacon has only dropped the chalice! The MC rushes to the sacristy and collects a fresh host and purificator, as the deacon had trodden on both, and the mass continues. Bag man goes around with the collection plate - his way of getting out having to put any money in. A hush falls over the congregation as the celebrant reads the Canon, genuflects and elevates the wafer. Madam looks up and with abundance of tears says ''my Lord and my God'' as she worships the wafer. Bag man looks around with an expression that says ''where are we now, then?'' Nutcase stares at a man in another pew with a look of contempt.

Mass over, madam marches uninvited into the sacristy to help clear things away, and presenting the celebrant with a plastic set of beads, bought from the ''holy shop'' especially, she asks him to bless them. She then goes to wait outside to stop him again later. Meanwhile the bag man in his hideous overcoat comes up and congratulates everyone on a splendid mass, so wonderfully traditional and redolent of the liturgy of old Sarum (though devised not in such terms). The nutcase nods to the statue of the Sacred Liver and goes out to be tragically knocked down by a speeding motorist.

The sad thing is that this is based on real life experiences.
 
The photos are of churches to which I went often at one time. In fact, though I did not know that the photo existed until just now, the chap in the cassock standing on the north side of that ''lady altar'' is in fact me.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Boredom...




Many of you may dismiss Quentin Crisp as an effeminate queer (well, he was) but I doubt most of us are worthy to tie his shoes. He was persecuted throughout his life but still found it worth his while to take people into his house, feed and clothe them, acts of the utmost benevolence which are confessedly beyond my capabilities. He also had a very interesting world view. Someone far superior to me. Do watch this video, wherein Mr Crisp amplifies the nature of The Naked Civil Servant and talks about the ''legalisation'' of homosexuality in 1967. I like what he says about boredom...

Should I be worried?


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Leave me in peace...


If somebody else wishes me a ''happy new year'' I shall boil over. It is NOT new year. Christians celebrate New Year on 25th March, which was the last Day of Creation, the historic Good Friday and feast of Our Lord's Annunciation, which, being the moment of the Incarnation, began the years of grace. All of this is asserted in Byrhtferth's Manual, written by Byrhtferth, a monk of Ramsey, c. A.D 970-c.1020. Until the adoption of the Papist Kalendar in 1752, the 25th March was the beginning of the new year for most legal and official purposes in England. Only pagans and those apostate from the faith (most Roman Catholics, for example) celebrate new year on 1st January. So, kindly sod off with your ''happy new years,'' I am trying to prepare for Christmass, if you don't mind.

Man's best friend...


On the morning of St Catherine's Day I was reading about service dogs and turned with interest to autism dogs, of which I hadn't heard before. I think they're wonderful. Like guide dogs for the blind they assist autistic children (and probably adults) with visual, auditory and olfactory stimuli, alerting the owner to important noises (such as a smoke alarm, the telephone, the door bell, etc), obstacle avoidance, and the general day-to-day activities of living life independently which, for people with autism, is extremely difficult. We've had a dog in the house for something like 14 or 15 years. First there was Sammy, a shih-tzu, who thought that my mother's nice Chinese rug was excellent for peeing on. We bought him from an elderly lady who had no family but had to go into hospital, and he was a rather sweet thing. In the end my mother got rid of him as he became incontinent, which at the time I thought was a poor excuse, but I can't say that I miss him much anymore. Then in 2001 came Lucy, named for St Lucy because we brought her home on the feast of St Lucy (my idea), my golden labrador. About a year or so later my mother brought home another puppy from the same breeder, a black labrador, to keep Lucy company. She ended up with the name Elle. Over the years they have become my best friends.


While my father may claim that they are of no use whatever I think they serve a very unique, personal function, and I wouldn't be without them. I cannot really describe how they are useful; they don't do anything, in fact they are completely helpless. All they want is to be fed and loved. They have been very consoling in times of trial and, while I enjoy being alone by myself most of the time, it is a comfort to know that the dogs are there, either asleep or begging for scraps (Lucy is notoriously greedy and ''well, you don't share any of your dog food with me'' is no deterrent to her constant mooching). Lucy is my favourite as she is very soft, very warm and very placid; and very knowing too. I don't think ''brute beast'' when I look into her eyes. There was one time when I was beaten up on the way home from school by two yobbos (I got their names from someone who saw it from a distance and I had them expelled - sweet revenge), and I was rather shaken. I went straight upstairs and Lucy came up to my room and lay next to me on my bed and nuzzled her head under my arm. Needless to say that I received more comfort from the dog than my own mother. To my knowledge Tolkien never had a dog (or any kind of pet), and he was averse to cats, but love of animals is a part of his legendarium just as much as anything. Huan the Wolfhound of Valinor was beloved of Beren and Lúthien; Beorn the Old kept many animals on his lands; Radagast the Brown was a friend of all beasts and birds; Farmer Maggot kept dogs in Bamfurlong, and consider Tom Bombadil's relationship with Fatty Lumpkin (a nickname I use for Lucy sometimes, though she is not particularly fat), or better still Sam's relationship with Bill the Pony. Poor old Sam. When I first read The Lord of the Rings I had quite forgotten about Bill by the time the hobbits got back to Bree, but I was glad that they were reunited in the end. I always found it rather funny when Sam said:

''Bill my lad, you oughtn't to have took up with us. You could have stayed here and et the best hay till the new grass comes.'' Bill swished his tail and said nothing.

Precisely because Sam wanted Bill to talk to him. I wish Lucy would talk to me. I'm sure that her simple, consistent worldview would be a welcome change to the stuff I think about all the time.

Art: Ted Nasmith. The photo is one I took recently of Lucy asleep with her ear standing up.