Friday, 28 February 2014

Hammer of the Underworld...

After the Battle of Sudden Flame the high king of the Gnomes beheld, as it seemed to him, the utter ruin of Beleriand and he was resolved to make amends. So he did on his silver arms, his white helm, his sword Ringil and his blue shield set with a crystal star and mounting his great steed he rode northwards and none might restrain him. Those that beheld him fled in amaze, fearing that Oromë himself was come, for the eyes of Fingolfin shone as the eyes of the Valar in their wrath. And coming at last to the brazen doors of Angband, he smote upon them and blew his born, calling upon Morgoth himself to come forth to combat. "Come forth!" he cried, "thou coward king to fight with thine own hand! Den-dweller, wielder of thralls, liar and lurker, foe of God and Men, come! For I would see thy craven face!"

And Morgoth came. For he could not refuse such a challenge before the face of his cardinals, and Fingolfin withstood the dark lord, though he towered above the Elven-king like a storm above a lonely tree, and his vast black shield unblazoned overshadowed the star of Fingolfin like a thundercloud. Morgoth fought with the great hammer Grond, which he wielded as a mace, and Fingolfin was swifter, avoiding the strokes of Grond as they rent the earth. Seven times Fingolfin wounded Morgoth with Ringil, and the cries of Morgoth echoed in the north-lands. But at last Fingolfin stumbled and Morgoth set his foot upon his neck and crushed him. In his last throe Fingolfin pinned the foot his enemy to the earth with Ringil, and the black blood gushed forth and filled the pits of Grond, and Morgoth went ever half thereafter. Now lifting the body of the king, Morgoth would break it and cast it to his wolves but Thorondor coming suddenly assailed him and marred his face, and snatching away the corse of Fingolfin bore it aloft to a high place north of Gondolin; there the eagles piled a great cairn of stones. Great was the lamentation in Gondolin when Thorondor brought the tidings for many of the people came of the House of Fingolfin.

But Rochallor, Fingolfin's horse, stayed beside the king until the end, but the wolves of Angband assailed him, and he escaped their jaws for he was swift, and coming to Hithlum, he broke his heart and died.

Art: Ted Nasmith. Colourful, but not at all as I imagined Morgoth or Fingolfin.

Is the pope an Antichrist?

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 [Deus], we find but two, 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. From a letter of St Gregory the Great and Preacher of Dialogues to the Emperor of Constantinople.

It's an interesting question. Is the pope Antichrist? Will the Antichrist be a pope? Have there been a succession of popes, since the days of, say, Nicholas I, who have been Christ's enemy according to the Scriptures? What would be the scriptural qualities of Antichrist? Is there such a person as "the" Antichrist? I am not so prejudiced as to completely dismiss all incumbents of the Roman see. The see of Rome is a scandal and a fallen bishoprick, once illustrious and glorious and a defender of orthodoxy, she is now wholly degraded. But there have been a number of popes, even very recent ones, who have been gentlemanly and scholarly; Benedict XIV (1740-58) is an obvious example. Yet such great men as these are lost amidst such men as Urban VIII (1623-44) who corrupted the hymns of the Breviary and, having ordered the removal of antient bronze girders from the Pantheon, with which to furnish the apostolic palace, it was afterwards said of him, quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini. Or pope Leo XII (1823-29), described by one contemporary as a "ferocious fanatic," who did his utmost to oppress the unhappy dwellers in that beautiful and fertile land.

John Calvin once admitted that Rome had been the mother of all the churches but had ceased to be what she was when she became the seat of Antichrist. I would say it were foolish to say that there was once a godly pope and his immediate successor and all subsequent popes were Antichrist. Rather, like the evolution of man (mulier erecta did not give birth to the first homo sapiens), there was no recognisably "first" Antichrist pope in an ontological sense. With the passing of the years, the popes assumed unto themselves more honours, more riches and, listening ever to the subtle promptings of that enemy of our salvation, mingled the deleterious toxic of heresy with the clear waters of orthodoxy. The Filioque corrupts the Godhead; papal infallibility and supremacy distort the divinely received threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons; purgatorial fire (as interpreted in such writings as More's Supplication of Souls) is superfluous to the Gospel; transubstantiation makes a mockery of Christ's Real Presence and renders the Lord's Supper an act of sorcery; a "code" of Canon Law is expressly contrary to the concept of ecclesiastical law; Summorum Pontificum propagates deliberate lies, etc. All these things, contrary to Christ's ordinances and the Tradition of the Church, being happily maintained by the popes represent, to me, less the mantle and countenance of a kindly, but misguided, old man as the deliberate, gigantic fraud and scandal of this world.

So, is the pope Antichrist? Well, possibly...

Thursday, 27 February 2014


Having been booted off the New Liturgical Movement, I think some of my old fire has been rekindled. As the Marquess of Montrose observed in Rob Roy, "one must never underestimate the healing power of hatred." The reason I started Liturgiae Causa was because the stink of hypocrisy got too much for me and I had to speak out against the Sackville-Bagginses, being smug in ignorance and comfortable in their arrogance and hauteur. The difference now is that I have a fraction of the readers and comments I had aforetime. But this, of course, I have to expect! My going on is a protest, and being consistantly ignored is a counter-protest. It's their way of saying that they don't accept the truth when it is presented to them.


I always preferred Cecil Beaton (he and Waugh were contemporaries, having gone to the same school) but Waugh wrote iconic literature. In a 1962 article entitled The Same Again, Please, Waugh said:
During the last few years we have experienced the triumph of the "liturgists," in the new arrangement of the services for the end of Holy Week and for Easter. For centuries these had been enriched by devotions which were dear to the laity - the anticipation of the morning office of Tenebrae, the vigil at the Altar of Repose, the Mass of the Presanctified. It was not how the Christians of the second century observed the season. It was the organic growth of the needs of the people. Not all Catholics were able to avail themselves of the services but hundreds did, going to live in or near the monastic houses and making an annual retreat which began with Tenebrae on Wednesday afternoon and ended with midday on Saturday with the anticipated Easter Mass. During those three days time was conveniently apportioned between the rites of the Church and the discourses of the priest taking the retreat, with little temptation to distraction. Now nothing happens before Thursday evening. All Friday morning is empty. There is an hour or so in church on Friday afternoon. All Saturday is quite blank until late at night. The Easter Mass is sung at midnight to a weary congregation, who are constrained to "renew their baptismal vows" in the vernacular and later repair to bed. The significance of Easter as a feast of dawn is quite lost, as is the unique character of Christmas as the Holy Night. I have noticed in the monastery I frequent a marked falling-off in the number of retreatants since the innovations or, as the liturgists would prefer to call them, the restorations. It may well be that these services are nearer to the practice of primitive Christianity, but the Church rejoices in the development of dogma; why does it not also admit the development of liturgy?

What is striking about this is that Waugh was writing disparagingly of the reformed liturgy as it was in that arbitrary, yet significant, year 1962. 1962? Just think! This was before the Second Vatican Council; before whatever edition of the 1962 missal you like; before Sacrosanctum Concilium; before the various Pauline decrees which came after, Sacram Liturgiam (1964), Inter Œcumenici (1964), the new order of Mass (1965), Tres Abhinc Annos (1967); before new Eucharistic prayers (1968), before the promulgation of Missale Romanum (1969), which abrogated the 1962 missal. Long before the "Heenan indult;" long, long before John Paul II's provisions and "the" motu proprio which defiled Holyrood Day.

My questions, therefore, are simply: do you honestly think that Evelyn Waugh would welcome or even countenance Summorum Pontificum? Is it possible that, had Waugh lived to see the publication of Summorum Pontificum and had fallen foul of its provisions he'd have published his full blast against it, and them that welcomed it with open arms? Is it conceivable that, being a founding member of the Latin Mass Society notwithstanding, he'd have been thrust out into the cold dark of oblivion for his opposition, for his lack of vehement Ultramontane zeal? Would he have been treated as a pariah?

There are no prizes for guessing the answer to those questions. And answering those questions truthfully, ask yourselves this: is it really your moral obligation, as supposedly avowed of Tradition, to accept the "generosity" of Rome as expounded by pope Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum? Forget that mere generosity and the exercise of authority cannot compensate for decades of liturgical abuse. Have you not, rather, fallen into the Lefebvrist trap? The arrogant Lefebvrists may enjoy defective liturgy (let them get on with it!) but I really don't see why it should be accepted and promoted in the mainstream Church as a more decorous alternative to clown masses and such rot! I'm sure that Evelyn Waugh would think the same.

A letter to the pope...

"I have indeed inveighed sharply against impious doctrines, and I have not been slack to censure my adversaries on account, not of their bad morals, but of their impiety. And for this I am so far from being sorry that I have brought my mind to despise the judgements of men and to persevere in this vehement zeal, according to the example of Christ, who, in His zeal, calls His adversaries a generation of vipers, blind, hypocrites, and children of the devil. Paul, too, charges the sorcerer with being a child of the devil, full of all subtlety and all malice; and defames certain persons as evil workers, dogs, and deceivers. In the opinion of those delicate-eared persons, nothing could be more bitter or intemperate than Paul’s language. What can be more bitter than the words of the prophets? The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretence, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries. What would be the use of salt if it were not pungent, or of the edge of the sword if it did not slay? Accursed is the man who does the work of the Lord deceitfully!"

An extract from the epistle of Martin Luther to pope Leo X, sent from Wittenberg on 6th September in the year of Grace 1520. Elsewhere in this beautifully composed epistle the reformer quotes Jeremiah 51:9, We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed; let us forsake her.

The rest can be read here.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

These things...

This is my own translation of the text and rubrics of a small part of the Roman Canon. Text in italics:

"Having uttered the words of consecration, he places the Chalice upon the corporal and says discreetly: As often as you do these things, you shall do them for a commemoration of me. Having bent the knee, he worships [the Sacrament], he gets up, he shews it to the people," etc.

The text is taken from my 1862 Missale Romanum and contains the rubric familiar to "traditional" priests. However, if we look to a 1576 Belgian edition of the Missal of Pius V there is a slight variation in the rubric.

As you can see, the rubric directs the celebrant even so:
"Having uttered the words of consecration, he places the Chalice upon the corporal and bending the knee he worships [the Sacrament], he gets up and shews it to the people, saying: As often as you do these things, you shall do them for a commemoration of me. He places it on the corporal and worships again."
You may ask when did this change come about and what is its significance? Well, the change was made during the Clementine reform of the missal and was published with the bull Cum Sanctissimum on 7th July 1604, a mere thirty-four years after the publication of Quo Primum. Fortescue tells us that the reform was instigated merely to rectify a few textual corruptions that had "crept into" the missal of Pius V and that "they did not in any way revise the Mass." This is a fantastical notion given that the missal of Pius V was, essentially, the Roman missal of 1474, and it's hardly likely that the change in the rubric was a mistake. Even so, however the change came about, it is an important one. The Tridentine rubric orders the celebrant to utter the words of Christ as he elevates the Chalice, symbolising oblation of the Eucharist as well as veneration. The post-Clementine rubric mandates silent veneration only, and that after the words have been spoken. And what does that symbolise? Well, quite simply that oblation of the Eucharist comes second to veneration. I would say that in the missal of Pius V was the last remnant, almost lost amidst a hodgepodge of silly up-down, up-down manoeuvring and various breaks and stops, of an older praxis. Put simply, the very subtle shift in this rubric symbolises the triumph of transubstantiation over tradition.
It really is quite simple. Here is the empirical evidence, in black and red, that the Canon of the Mass was not so grand as to be beyond at least some degree of reform prior to John XXIII's addition of St Joseph, but who is interested? Just a few eccentrics like me. If this post were read by a traditionalist they'd have a host of excuses at hand. The missal is a forgery (never mind that forging books is incredibly expensive!), it's a Janensist missal, I am mistaken or, worse, I am telling deliberate lies and presenting them as scholarship! This last is the most likely. Clearly, I have gone into the British Library and photographed an old missal and gone out of my way to superimpose the rubrics of some other part of the Canon over the real text in question just to try and prove a point. Yes, that's it. After all, Patricius is a heretic, and heretics are damned to Hell because they go about re-inventing history to support their erroneous worldview. Yes, it must be a lie because the Canon is unchanged since antient times. Jesus Christ said the Canon with the Disciples in the upper room, and St Peter was there with his tiara, the same one we hoped Benedict XVI would bring back. Hermeneutic of continuity in action! Other Eucharistic prayers are venomous and we secretly think they're invalid. You have to say the words of institution or there's no transubstantiation...
And blah, blah, blah. The evidence is there for those who are willing to make up their own minds. If you do not accept the evidence then, I'm sorry, but there's something wrong with you.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


The author of this work is not a Protestant. He is a French divine reared in the communion of Rome, and devoted to her cause in purpose of heart and life; but his great learning having led him to conclusions contrary to those of the Jesuits, he is "under the ban." Proscribed by the Papacy for the fidelity with which he has pursued and illustrated the study of Church History, he accepts the logical consequences of his position, and finds himself a true Catholic at last, receiving the communion in both kinds at the hands of the Greeks, in the Church of the Russian Embassy in Paris.

That is taken from the editor's preface to The Papacy by Abbe Guettee, an indispensable study of that institution by an unsung hero of Church history. Guettee was like to so many others in the history of the West who have taken on the monster of Rome, suffering the pains of isolation, persecution, pariahs of faith, even as the great George Tyrrell in 1909. Why, only the other day I was perusing the New Liturgical Movement blog, a blog I have been reading for eight years, and I came across a comment on Dr Joseph Shaw's Shrovetide video left by some sentimentalist moron. He said every time I see the name of Bugnini I spit up blood, or some nonsense; so I said: "why Bugnini? He was but a servant and emissary." Back came the other: "a servant of whom? Not tradition, that's for sure," so I said: "The pope, of course." Well, I thought this all very innocuous until I received an e-mail from one of the moderators, who said:

Mr Sheridan,

If you wish to refer to the Pope, or any Pope, indirectly or directly as "The Black Foe", you have your own forum in which to do so. You will not do it in ours. If you write anything of the sort again on NLM, I will permanently blacklist you from commenting.
Feeling understandably incensed by this I immediately set about making my sentiments known:
Dear Moderator,
How nice of you to contact me. I am slightly at a loss for words to be upbraided in this way and by you of all persons. I don't recall ever referring to any pope as "the black foe" on any comment thread on the NLM. Unless, of course, you mean the words with which I chose to defend +Annibale Bugnini against what, I am sure you'd agree, was an ill-informed, ad hominem attack and a meaningless contribution. If so, did you even see my comment? Or are you relying on the report and interpretation of somebody else? In which case I am outraged that someone would attribute to me sentiments which I repudiate! How, exactly, were the words ill chosen? They are neither inaccurate nor objectionable. But perhaps the moderators of the NLM prefer scapegoats to common sense? If so their integrity as supposedly informed writers in situ to bring knowledge and understanding is severely compromised and I shall do my utmost to present subsequent NLM articles in this light. And, to be quite honest, I see no moral difference between demonising Archbishop Bugnini and demonising the pope so your decision to scrap my comment and maintain the idiotic one is both arbitrary persecution and personally insulting.

I shall take your threat as evidence that I have already been blacklisted so you needn't worry about any more innocuous comments from me. It is certainly not the first time that I have been expelled from the company of church goers. In any case, with the addition of writers who repeat so many hackneyed lines about the "Benedictine altar arrangement," the reform of the reform and such tosh in grandiloquent style, the quality of the NLM has declined in recent years anyway. I am removing the link to the NLM from my blogroll.
Sincerely yours,
This is the sort of shabby treatment one would expect at the hands of the riff raff of Rorate Caeli who, long before they stopped all comments, blacklisted my own contributions for the simple reason that they lacked the nauseating Ultramontane fanaticism of the others. I was genuinely taken aback by this affront and have, as I said I would, stopped linking to the New Liturgical Movement for which, incidentally, the moderator thanked me! It's no surprise, really. The party line is that 1962 is an acceptable, sublime year; it's all the wicked Council's fault, it was hijacked by liberals; we must obey the holy father; Benedict XVI is the greatest man who ever lived; we submit our judgements, made in moments of temporary clarity, to the judgement of the Holy See; wicked Council; Bugnini had the Devil in him [never mind that he was personally chosen by the highest authority in the RC church!], Bugnini was a Freemason who bullied a weak pope into promulgating a new missal; the New Mass was sprung on an unsuspecting episcopate; Michael Davies was a genius; wicked Council; no wait, the new doctrine is hermeneutic of continuity, development of doctrine; before Vatican II the Church taught that ecumenism was wrong, now the teaching is that it's to be welcomed; wicked Council; the Church is infallible so we apply the hermeneutic of continuity; wicked Council; we reject "fabricated liturgy" but accept the Benedictine altar arrangement, but we don't like Novus Disordo; wicked Council, and so on, and on, and on in an endless, woeful litany of contradictions, corrections and doublethink to drive the Saints to despair. It certainly bothers me. I don't know about you but I can imagine twitching as these mental processes go around their troubled minds. Do you remember Gandalf's description of Gollum in Bag End?
Wicked Council...
Traddie orthodoxy entails a degree of unconsciousness, an effort of mind and will to trample upon reason, even when presented with empirical evidence which shatters their worldview. They must repeat to themselves over and over again their sad, desperate litany; wicked Council, hermeneutic of continuity, Leonine prayers are an indispensable tradition of low Mass, etc. They must always and everywhere refer to the same trad orthodox writers, the same trad orthodox tracts. Otherwise they might forget and become heretics; they might be burned at the stake! To express even a routine interest in the Use of Sarum is to be under suspicion! To go to an Orthodox church while on holiday means moral obliquity and the strictest penance. And so, because of this desperate litany, when presented with the facts, for example, that the liturgical books of 1962 are not in any way similar to the Tridentine books, the myth of the unchanged Canon Romanus since the threshold of antiquity, it means nothing to them; they're not interested. They are content only with their narrow, ill-informed worldview, in spite of all sanity they have found that ignorance makes them confident and prejudiced, quick to anger and condemnation. They would only become interested if the facts were postulated to them by the Roman Curia itself or by a Lefebvrist (and why would they do that?). In other words, by somebody who has passed the test of their orthodoxy. But the fact that they have, to borrow one of Fr Hunwicke's recent lines, "lived under the dominion of a lie" would not mean a thing to them. They have exercised their orthodox faculties and they have obliterated the past. The more clever traditionalist, like our esteemed moderator on NLM, knows that this party line is egg shell thin, ready to crack at the next turn of events from Rome (like the election of a liberal pope!), but they continue to feed the masses with the same rubbish for fear that they might be thrust out by them. They must perforce maintain the party line and adhere to it unquestioningly, without any deviation whatever. Honesty is a thing to be scorned so theirs is the greater sin.
Fabricated liturgy...six candles means right worship...and so the sorry traddie mutters to himself, amidst snarls and grimaces of hatred, as he fumbles through his dog-eared 1961 breviary trying, without hope, to find the right psalms for the day.
If somebody with a store of his own wisdom, gotten in years of earnest study, presents an alternative, more rational and holistic view, then he is a danger, a pernicious heretic who has to be cut off - like Abbe Guettee, and countless others. What did Orwell say about being in a minority, even a minority of one? I expect if a man challenges a deranged mob by himself, armed only with his own sanity, then he can expect nothing but to be hanged from the nearest tree.
While I have enabled comment moderation I have always been very liberal with this because I am of the opinion that most of the treasures of this blog can be found among my readers. I see no wisdom in saying: anybody who is even mildly critical of the holy father or the status quo is barred permanently. That is the death of science. If we understand blogs, catholic ones, as the faithful search for answers to our present problems then to silence people who comment in good faith means that you were never really interested in any answers in the first place, and that maybe you just enjoy complaining and sucking up. How tragic for you.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Where to now?

A prominent Tolkien expert wrote to me last night and expressed an interest in the first two parts of my Tolkien essay but said he didn't quite know where I was going with them. In all honesty, I don't know myself. I think I've said enough about The Music of the Ainur; we've covered moral contingency and the many liturgical aspects of it; would any of my faithful readers care to make any suggestions?

"But not absorbed..."

Long before the pope of Rome took it upon himself to swallow up many last remnants of the Church of England and then proclaim these remnants to be "treasures worthy to be shared;" that is, in the days when the liturgy of the Prayer Book was seen by Rome as an "impious rite" and ecumenism was a terrible sin; priests of the Anglo-Catholic tradition were wont to dress after the manner of their Roman brethren in order to emphasise their belief that they shared in the same priesthood. Fr Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, cardinal rector of St Magnus the Martyr, is a prime example of this tendency. On the other side of the ritualist divide (the side that lamentably lost), the great Percy Dearmer advocated the wearing of academic gowns and tippet over the double-breasted cassock as ordinary clerical street attire, attire which he took to be faithful adherence to the liturgical law of the Church of England. Of course, the irony of Dearmer's interpretation was that he would walk the streets of London and endure raspberries and shouts of "no Popery" for dressing in an ancestrally Anglican way! He would retort: "do you realise that this is the very costume in which Latimer went to the stake?"

Is it too much to hope that the clergy of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, including the reverend Archdeacon Keith Newton, might adopt the wisdom of Percy Dearmer and dress in a more traditional Anglican manner; now that they do share in the Roman priesthood?

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Grey Gardens...

I heartily recommend this film. It's about the reclusive Miss Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother "Big Edie" who lived on the dilapidated Grey Gardens estate in East Hampton. The two women accentuate many qualities in human relationships that are less noticeable among most "normal" people, mutual dependence, love and and conviction. What I find most exquisite about this film is the sheer lack of class arrogance. Here are two women who are, despite their strong New England accents and the squalor in which they live, just aglow with kindness and they're not jealous either. As Big Edie says: "I had everything I ever wanted."

Opinion is divided about the propriety of this film and to what extent the Maysles invaded the Beales' privacy but I can't help but admire it. It reminds me of what Tolkien said about the love of the Elves for creation, that "sorrow and wisdom have enriched it," and I think that one could well apply this principle to this film and to our own time. If knowledge can dispel prejudice, then knowledge of the Beales can dispel prejudice about eccentrics.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Tolkien fans...

Back in September a friend and I went up to Oxford to commemorate the 40th anniversary of J.R.R Tolkien. I said to my friend on the train: "I hope to God we don't meet any fans," and thankfully we met only one at the Wolvercote cemetery, a young Polish woman who followed us (at a distance) to the Eagle & Child pub. I think of most Tolkien fans as I do of most traditionalists. I will not elaborate that but suffice it to say that I am terribly glad to have remained relatively anonymous in the world of Tolkien fandom.

Is Tolkien dangerous? Part II...

This is part two of my series against the latrocinium cheerfully welcomed by Rorate Caeli who, incidentally, declined to publish part one because I am not a "traditional priest." Before we continue, it is incumbent on me to advise you against setting a very high store by many of my conclusions (though not about Rorate Caeli). Where I can discern a number of patterns in Tolkien's work which, to me, reflect themes in other literature or the Sacred Liturgy, these are purely my own speculations. I think you do as much violence to the integrity of the legendarium as the anonymous priest if you go about saying, "well, this theme here can be traced to such and such a theme in some other work, so clearly it means this, it can only be interpreted in this way." If you go down that route then the inherent quality of the work is no longer there, or is at least compromised; you have, effectively, reduced Tolkien's work to a blank sheet (and what did Saruman say about white?), the stimulant of attributive concepts and qualities made by people who are not writers and lack Tolkien's demonstrably fecund imagination...conceptual art, anyone? During the negotiations for the Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings, for example, Tolkien was very dismissive of the conclusions drawn by Dr Ohlmarks about much of the work, who at one point suggested that the Ring was, in a certain sense, der Nibelungen Ring, to which Tolkien said: "both rings were round; there the resemblance ceases." In other words, take care when drawing any conclusions about Tolkien's work lest you miss the point completely!

We cut off part one of this series with the question: "if they find the participation of finite beings in creation so objectionable, why do they allow for the participation of a human being in the work of redemption?" I mean, of course, St Mary the Virgin and her fiat. It is behoveful to remember that in addition to St Mary's physical motherhood of Christ there was also a strong moral element to her participation in the Incarnation; she became Θεοτόκος of her own volition. St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), renowned throughout Christendom for his strong Marian piety, places the highest emphasis upon the contingency of St Mary's response to Gabriel in a beauteously composed sermon on the Annuntiation:

Since you have heard joyous and glad tidings, let us hear the joyous reply we long for...The angel is waiting for your reply. It is time for him to return to the one who sent him...The price of our salvation is being offered to you. If you consent, we shall immediately be set free...Doleful Adam and his unhappy offspring, exiled from Paradise, implore you, kind Virgin, to give us this answer...For it the whole world is waiting, bowed down at your feet. (Quoted in Boss, Mary: The Complete Resource).

St Mary was a girl of about fourteen summers! Pure and chaste nonetheless she represents sinful humanity and her fiat is the zenith of a moral point that echoes throughout Scripture, as it does also in Tolkien, that God's power is revealed most potently in human weakness. In Tolkien we find this in many places; Melkor, for example, "arose in might" before all ages but was at the end of the First Age reduced to a state of impotence; and, most famously, the passing of two hobbits into the fastness of Mordor bearing the peril of the world. And so, coming back to the Great Music, I put it to the latrocinium that the minstrelsy of the Ainur is not some pernicious heresy but a clear reflection of this scriptural idea. If redemption in Christ is seen as creation anew requiring human consent then I daresay the subcreative activities of the Ainur, channeling ideas reflected in the divine mind, can be seen in the same way. God brings to perfection his design through the Ainur and Melkor in unison. In the Lost Tales, Tolkien has Eru say:

Through him [Melkor] has pain and misery been made in clash of overwhelming musics; and with confusion of sound have cruelty, and ravening, and darkness, loathly mire and all putrescence of thought or thing, foul mists and violent flame, cold without mercy, been born, and death without hope. Yet is this through him and not by him; and he shall see, as ye all likewise, and even shall those beings [Elves and Men], who must now dwell among his evil and endure through Melko misery and sorrow, terror and wickedness, declare in the end that it redoundeth only to my great glory, and doth but make the theme more worth the hearing, Life more worth the living, and the World so much more wonderful and marvellous, that of all the deeds of Ilúvatar it shall be called his mightiest and his loveliest.

Greek monks chanting the office.

While the discords of Melkor in the Great Music were a thing grievous of themselves, arising in a great tumult to assault and swallow up the theme of Eru, they actually supplemented and harmonised with the theme, doubtless against the will of Melkor. I guess that was Tolkien's answer (in Middle-earth) to the problem of pain - O felix culpa, anyone? The object of the Ainur was moral obedience, attuning their song to the divine theme; Melkor's was power and domination, in defiance of that theme, and therein lies their share in the divinity of God and his humiliation. In a way, it reminds me of what Christ said about having faith enough to move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

We have seen how The Music of the Ainur held a moral quality for each Ainu relative to creation. How, then, can we relate the divine musick to the collective creative activities of the Ainur in a liturgical sense? Faithful practitioners of the Sacred Liturgy, and they are few, will understand that what they do is conduct of the highest order, even heigh stile (as Chaucer might say). Be that as it may, one could ask what is the purpose of Liturgy? The essence of liturgy is the Tradition of the Church (and vice versa), and I mean not some dogma, defined by a pope, and a set of prayers composed by a committee to be a deliberate profession of that dogma; I mean the plainsong melodies of the Roman Gradual, a collect as old as Christianity itself, and St Matthew's Passion narrative sung in full on Palm Sunday, traditions that quickened our Catholic forefathers in faith. Put simply, Tradition is the Memory of the Church and the purpose thereof is to realise Christ's ordinance, This do for a commemoration of me. We do thereby proclaim the reality of Christ's Incarnation, ministry, Passion, Death and Resurrection and his promise of the Paraclete. Memory, manifestly "waking memory" and equivalent of tradition, goes to the heart of Tolkien's legendarium. In The Lord of the Rings Tolkien differentiates between two kinds of memory; the memory of lore and antient tradition in the House of Elrond and the living memory of the Elder Days in Lothlórien. The perception of Frodo and Sam is noteworthy:

The others cast themselves down upon the fragrant grass, but Frodo stood awhile still lost in wonder. It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no colour but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful. In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien there was no stain. (The Lord of the Rings, Book II, Chapter VI).

A Rogations procession.

Sam appositely described his experience as like "being inside a song," which Haldir attributed to the power of Galadriel (symbolised by Nenya, one of the Three rings). Tolkien often employs Sam, the simple hobbit, to convey high truths or a sense of storial depth. The words were well chosen for the song, of course (though Sam does not know it), is the Great Music itself and the echoes of that primeval chorus that men of good will can hear in the stuff of earth, the water of the sea and the winds of the air. Similarly, in antient days Yavanna approached Manwë and spake of the unity of creation and the trees who lifted up their branches and sang to Ilúvatar amidst the rain, redolent of 1Chronicles 16:33, Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth. Tolkien goes on:

Then Manwë sat silent, and the thought of Yavanna that she had put into his heart grew and unfolded; and it was beheld by Ilúvatar. Then it seemed to Manwë that the Song rose once more about him, and he heeded now many things therein that though he had heard them he had not heeded before. And at last the Vision was renewed, but it was not now remote, for he was himself within it, and yet he saw that all was upheld by the hand of Ilúvatar; and the hand entered in, and from it came forth many wonders that had until then been hidden from him in the hearts of the Ainur. (Quenta Silmarillion, chapter II).

Ted Nasmith's rendering of the Shepherds of the Trees.

As in faithful ministry of the Sacred Liturgy on earth to reflect that perfect liturgy celebrated triumphantly in God's presence in Heaven, it is Manwë's memory and interior disposition towards God that makes the Great Music present for him. The faithful remembrance of that divine chorus by the Ainur collectively, then, takes on the character of a liturgical anamnesis to make God's ordinances present on earth. By doing so, Tolkien says that their minstrelsy is upheld by the hand of God, his hand enters into their chorus and brings forth many wonders. And so, as in times past, we might endeavour to reckon our celebration of liturgy in modern times. Do you understand this argument? Or are these ravings?

To be continued...

Sunday, 16 February 2014

An update...

I must apologise for the delay in the publication of the second instalment of my Tolkien series. Many of the ideas are still being worked out and I have really only finished the first paragraph. I cordially dislike writing apologia like this. Having said that, the first part was generally well-received (by the few who bothered to read it). Over this weekend I have had hits from places as varied as the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Princeton, the Pontifical North American College and even the Vatican! I expect that'll be pope Francis stealing my ideas for his next encyclical. Keep reading! Part II should be up within the next few days.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Is Tolkien dangerous? Part I...

Rorate Caeli has stooped to a new low. The blogger Adfero posted the transcript of a conference on fantasy fiction and mythology the other day, in which the literary works of J.R.R Tolkien were subjected to heavy, fanatical criticism (usually through the medium of the writer Joseph Pearce) and disparaged as bethought it of Gnosticism, paganism, animism, modernism; any "ism" you like, and that they are quite simply not in keeping with Catholic tradition; the result being that millions of faithful Roman Catholics have been, and continue to be, "led astray" by them. I sometimes wonder whether the writers of that blog just enjoy upsetting people. It's bad enough that they have countenanced this veritable latrocinium in the first place, but to postulate its findings as worthy of consideration? Most people who read (and indeed write for!) Rorate Caeli are prejudiced, deluded morons but I gather that, for once, the response to this transcript by most readers was, more or less, in accord with my own; namely that the nonsensical conclusions drawn by the chair of this conference (a papist priest) are quite ridiculous, at which men do well to laugh, and a profound dishonour to an educated, faithful man of considerable greatness.

As someone who has devoted his life to J.R.R Tolkien I think I speak with some authority on this matter. I am not going to address each and every point raised by the conference (to which I shall hereafter refer as a latrocinium); some, like the constant references to Pearce (has the anonymous priest read anybody other than Pearce? There are better scholars out there, by far), and the moral lives of actors who played a part in the Peter Jackson trilogy, are not worth mentioning. Others, such as Tolkien's propriety as a Catholic author and whether his works are considered suitable reading material, are serious and warrant some rebuttal. As it has grown in the telling, I think there are going to be two (perhaps three) posts in a series.

You will look in vain to Tolkien's letters and the great corpus of the legendarium for some list of concepts, names, locations in Middle-earth (or even a confession) which, in Tolkien's unique spidery script, indicate which ones can be applied to whatever corresponding sacramental or moral concept in Roman Catholic theology. You cannot reduce Tolkien to a set of influences; if you do, you clearly don't think much of the fecundity of his imagination. The fact is that Tolkien did not write The Lord of the Rings as a means to win converts to Christianity. He was not in the business of evangelism or apologetics (he considered that to be the province of priests and religious) and, unlike C.S Lewis, thought better of littering his works with mythical beings and concepts drawn from a spectrum of classical mythology and philosophy, Norse myths, Christianity and the Finnish Kalevala. Catholic literature can legitimately serve other purposes than evangelism! Neither is The Lord of the Rings to be read in terms of the political climate in which it was written. Mordor is not Stalinist Russia, the Ring is not the atomic bomb, etc, etc. These are the fundamental premises on which genuine criticism and appreciation of Tolkien's works are built and if you simply bypass them, as this latrocinium has, then you might as well close the books and take them back to the shop - your integrity as a critic and a reader is thrown out. Moreover if you go about reading books written by prominent literary Christians with an eye solely for how in keeping with Catholic tradition they can be proved to be (you might even have at hand a copy of the Oath against Modernism), why not just save yourself the effort and stop reading altogether? Your discernment and literary taste are ostensibly wanting and one wonders whether you're entirely innocent of John 8:32:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

In other words, if you are so confident in the truth of your faith why have you not put away your fear? Surely if the Church fortifies you in faith, you can read anything? I suspect, however, that the opposite is the case and that for most people of this sort fearful ignorance is a desirable state. We all know that from ignorance and fear comes prejudice, and from prejudice a host of attitudes that have long troubled the world; and this is, I'm sorry to say, the quintessential Roman Catholic traditionalist and, I suspect, the sum of the anonymous priest's character too. They have a siege mentality and, as such, they have surrounded their abodes with fire. This, in turn, comes of a misguided exegesis of evangelical innocence as expounded of the Lord in Matthew 18, wherein Christ summoned a child unto the disciples amidmost and said he unto them:

Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Annie Wilkes, the Trad reader?

The fundamental difference between evangelical innocence and plain ignorance is moral, not intellectual. Personally, I have always admired the principle implicit in the Humanism of Desiderius Erasmus; that there is an interpenetration betwixt intellectual and moral purity, and that therefore learning (of which reading is the chief part) is a moral activity. In other words to be wise with the wisdom of this world, to be well-read, is to be a better Christian. If The Lord of the Rings is dangerous, as this latrocinium claims, then surely reading it is a means of confirming your faith? In which case, the findings of this latrocinium are negligible from the word "go!"

But I have digressed. The anonymous priest who chaired this latrocinium raises a number of concerns about Tolkien's work which range from The Music of the Ainur (Tolkien's cosmogonical myth) to Gandalf's staff and ring (understood as channels of power). The Music of the Ainur, in both the narratives of the Lost Tales tradition and The Silmarillion, is a wonderful piece of literature comparable with elements in Plato and Boethius (cf. De institutione musica). Tolkien introduces Eru first, the almighty Godhead who is alone, the Alpha and Omega, who made first the Ainur, which are angelic spirits, reverend but not worshipful as the gods of heathen mythology. The angelic host sing of a godly theme propounded to them by Eru who, by his command, gives being to this theme (which is the world). Then begin the primeval battles of the Ainur with Melkor (Tolkien's Lucifer figure) for mastery of the world and the labours of sub-creation. What's so objectionable about this? The basic components of Christian theology are in place: God, the angels and the Diabolos. Well, the objection of the latrocinium is that The Music of the Ainur is not a verbatim re-telling of the Genesis Creation stories! It is "dangerous to our faith" because the Ainur are seen to participate in the work of creation, which, according to the latrocinium, is the work of creeping Gnosticism in Tolkien's work. Do I envision mass book-burnings here and the heaping of oprobrium upon centuries of Humanism? I mean, if these philistines are so ready to demonise Tolkien, why not cast off Homer and Vergil too? Homer and Vergil symbolise a legitimate basis for theology as much as the Bible, according to tradition! In the words of Dr Johnson:

All that sets us above savages comes from the shores of the Mediterranean.

Detail of the choirs of angels from the Cappella dei Magi in Florence.

I daresay. But the participation of the Ainur in the work of creation is an important theological point here. What the latrocinium fails to understand is that this creative power is derivative. Tolkien was emphatic about the metaphysical difference between creation as an act of divine will, and making, devising or sub-creating done with divine sanction and subject to certain commands and prohibitions. And so the creative power of the One, symbolised by the Flame Imperishable (or Secret Fire), is ostensibly different to the operations of the Ainur within the periphery of this world. Not one of the Ainur, not even Melkor the mightiest, uttered the word (Tolkien's equivalent of the Genesis "let there be," or the λόγος, if you will) in the deeps of time and thereby created the physical world and all things therein where before there was nothing. Aulë the Smith famously attempted to go beyond the themes of the Great Music, beyond the lawful bounds established by Eru, when, in secret, he fashioned the Dwarves in a cavern in Middle-earth; but he was swiftly rebuked by Eru who adopted the Dwarves into the themes of the Great Music only after Aulë abased himself and, weeping, offered to break the work of his presumption. But the way of the Dwarves to Aulë's heart was anticipation of Elves and Men and the love of creation. Contrast that with Melkor's lustful, impetuous search for the Flame Imperishable which came of his desire to be called "master" and to have subjects, to be thus thwarted in his naughty search and his subsequent resolve to have nothing, to ruin and destroy the work of creation because he can have no part in it. One of the most Christian principles inherent to the legendarium, from The Music of the Ainur even to The Lord of the Rings, is the profound and everlasting impotence of evil in creation - an indication of Tolkien's Boethian understanding of the nature of evil and established in Christian tradition.

Ted Nasmith's sketch of The Music of the Ainur.

The basic structure of The Music of the Ainur can be found in St Augustine's De Genesi ad litteram, his third commentary on Genesis. In both works God creates first the angelic host, shews to them the unfolding of creation; the knowledge of the angels reflects ideas in the divine mind and God reserves to himself the unfolding of themes in creation unlooked for in the initial design. In Tolkien, creation is conceived of as a chorus of divine praise, with an almost liturgical quality, a theme redolent of many works of art and iconography in Christendom. Musick is ever present in the legendarium and is oftentimes seen to be a manifestation of power. You find this in Yavanna's song which stimulated the growth of the Two Trees (so powerful that it commanded universal silence) or latterly in Meduseld when Gandalf sang of Dwimordene to stay Gimli's wrath; and there are many other examples besides. When their musick was complete Eru shewed to the Ainur a vision of their minstrelsy and they beheld the unfolding of creation as a light amidst the darkness. Even so, where Tolkien differs from Augustine is the manner in which the primeval chaos was formed into a world of trees, mountains and rivers. The Ainur are said to realise the vision of Eru by forming the world over a primeval period out of chaos, growing trees, carving out sea basins and raising mountains. The latrocinium claims this is Gnosticism. I would say that this is rather, in ethos, the synthesis of Tolkien's Augustinian understanding of Creation with elements drawn from the antient "harmony of the spheres" tradition. But that isn't quite enough. I put it to the latrocinium that if they find the participation of finite beings in creation so objectionable, why do they allow for the participation of a human being in the work of redemption?

To be continued...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Urbanus Magnus...

Non puer immundus alter fias Ganimedes.
Sorde puer potus, sordem sapit inveteratus.
An extract from Urbanus Magnus, a mediaeval verse treatise on manners by Daniel of Beccles.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The White Queen...

A woman who suffered evil fortunes rather than a woman really evil at heart.

Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots
Requiescat in Pace.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Enigmata Saxonica...

These riddles, composed by J.R.R Tolkien, were first published in A Northern Venture in 1923. They were included in the second annotated edition of The Hobbit, but were removed from subsequent editions (for reasons unknown). Very clever, I think.

Meolchwítum sind marmanstáne
wágas míne wundrum frætwede;
is hrægl ahongen hnesce on-innan,
seolce gelícost; siððan on-middan
is wylla geworht, wæter glæs-hluttor;
Ðær glisnaþ gold-hladen on gytestreamum
æppla scienost. Infær nænig
nah min burg-fæsten; berstaþ hwæðre
þriste þeofas on þrýþærn min,
ond þæt sinc reafiaþ - saga hwæt ic hatte!

In marble of milk-white are
my walls wonderfully wrought;
a delicate garment is hung within,
just like silk; since in the middle
desire is filled, water glass-clear;
There glistens gold-laden in still streams
the shiniest apple. No one has entered
my fortress fast; nevertheless will burst
thirsty thieves in my splendid hall,
if that treasure reave - say what I'm called!

Hæfþ Hild Hunecan hwíte tunecan,
ond swa réad rose hæfþ rudige nose;
þe leng heo bídeþ þe læss heo wrídeþ;
hire teáras háte on tán bláte
biernende dreósaþ ond bearhtme freósaþ;
hwæt heo sie saga, searoþancla maga.

Hild Hunecan hath a white tunic,
and hath a ruddy nose as red as a rose;
the longer she bideth, the lesser she riseth;
her tears glowing hot on a twig lividly
burning fall dead and in brightness freeze;
say what she is, man of wisdom.

Old English riddles are largely anthropomorphic. Many found in the Exeter Book describe common objects in the day-to-day life of the Saxons, revealing an earthy similarity between rustic implements or weapons and the people or animals who use them. The solutions to the riddles are often surprising; in fact, some of them are just as bawdy as any modern innuendo, though most are serious in tone and are rather inciteful. They are, as a rule, told in the first person, and in some, the subject describes itself to the reader, even if it is inanimate. Can anyone guess the answers?


My roommate Georgina came in swiftly and totally, during her junior year at Vassar. She was in a theater watching a movie when a tidal wave of blackness broke over her head. The entire world was obliterated - for a few minutes. She knew she had gone crazy. She looked around the theater to see if it had happened to everyone, but all the other people were engrossed in the movie. She rushed out, because the darkness of the theater was too much when combined with the darkness in her head.
And after that? I asked her.
A lot of darkness, she said.
Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Parish squabbles...

I think that in order to pass the time I shall declare war on those women who cling to the clergy like leeches, follow them around like puppies and generally suck the life out of any decent parish. Fr Hunwicke has been writing about female modesty over the past few days so maybe this post (or posts) can be considered a less erudite, more rancorous appendix to his posts. Naturally, the decline of female modesty has its uttermost origins in universal suffrage and the Victorian ideal of marriage.* But declare your opinions on female suffrage to women of this sort at your peril! For women of this sort claim a sense of tradition unto themselves, yet...well, we shall see about any "yet's" in a moment.

You know exactly who I am talking about; they're everywhere! They go about with an air of superiority, they tend to be on the chubby side and have very domineering characters. This one shews up for Mass half an hour early, spends some time in "prayer" (so as to seem pious, "that they might be seen of men..."), and then marches into the sacristy to cause an argument with the kindly, long-suffering, elderly server with arthritis who has been in the parish since before the monstrous woman was even born. We'll call them Sue and Frank, for convenience. Sue doesn't like Frank for several reasons. One, he is biologically male and not a priest. Two, he has a sense of "parish" and won't migrate all over the place for artificially-traditional liturgies put on by the Latin Mass Society. Three, despite Sue's self-professed "traditional" disposition, Frank in fact knows a lot more than her and she is very aware of it. And four, he doesn't really care much for taking sides in a perceived "civil war" in the church. He loves his church, he has a good store of his own wisdom and he considers it his vocation in life to serve his parish. In other words, he isn't as vocal as Sue in voicing his opinions about gay marriage and would rather die than protest outside an abortion clinic.

It is a Monday evening in the Summer. The old man unlocks the door of the church and goes into the sacristy. He takes off his jacket and puts on his cassock and a fine linen surplice he himself made, being a man marvellously skilled. No lace ornamentation in sight! He goes about the routine, so familiar after so many years, of preparing for Mass. Moments later he hears somebody else walk down the nave of the church and a set of keys rattling. He then rolls his eyes, remembering that it was "her" turn to open the church. He sighs and carries on. Sue walks into the sacristy and smiles unconvincingly at Frank. "Good evening," he says.

"Excuse me, Frank," she says at length. She has been fiddling around suspiciously in one of the sacristy cupboards for a few minutes, poking about for something she thinks has gone missing. She then turns to the old man with a face like thunder. "We don't use that missal stand for the six o'clock weekday low Mass at the Lady altar. Put it back and get the other one!" Then hobbles the old man to the sacristy cupboard to do as she says. He proceeds to take an old, perhaps the oldest, missal from the cupboard over the vesting table (ignoring the missal on the table) and makes his way back to the door. He turns the door handle and then comes a voice to rend the very will.

"Err, where are you going with that?" He turns and looks at the woman, both hands on her hips and a look that would curdle new milk on her face, pursed lips and all.
"Well, dear, we mustn't forget the commemorations!" Says the old man. His tone is that of a kindly-heart aggrieved by injuries undeserved. He's probably an old queen.
"What commemorations?" asks the woman. Not only was it her turn to open the doors of the church but she has come especially early to sort commemorations out too. She has recently learned how to navigate a 1962 missal by herself (with constant assistance of the parish priest, whose Latin is at least minimal), and, taking the red 1962 missal with the embossed pentagram, she had set the missal at the Second Sunday after Pentecost the day before. Frank had ignored this for he had remembered the Octave of Corpus Christi and tried to explain, but it availed him not.

 "Oh no, we don't do commemorations on weekdays, Frank. It's hardly expedient with so small a congregation. Now, I won't tell you again; put the missal back and use this one." She rolls her eyes, turns her back and sets about preparing the chalice.
"Well, what about the vestments?" asks Frank. "It's white to-day."
"No, it's green. The ordo says so," says Sue, not turning.
"No, actually the pre-'62 ordo stipulates white. It says so here." He reaches for the St Lawrence Press Ordo and points to the feria secunda. Sue seldom looks at this ordo because she was never taught Latin at school.
"It doesn't make any difference. And I wish you'd stop interfering. We'll see what father says when he comes in." Frank sees no better option but to leave the sacristy and wait in the church.

Presently the parish priest walks into the church and genuflects. Frank returns to the sacristy and sees that the white vestments that he had laid out have been replaced with green and that the red '62 missal is open for the priest to look over before Mass. Father walks in and says "good evening all." Frank helps the priest to remove his coat.

"Now, father," begins Sue. "There's been an awful misunderstanding. I've gone to all this trouble to set things up for Mass and Frank comes in and starts changing everything without a word of explanation!" From this moment Sue's accustomed grimace of hatred turns to a look of smug satisfaction.
"Father," begins Frank. "It's merely about the vestments and commemorations. You see, we are within the octave of Corpus Christi..."
"Well, it's too late to change everything now," says the priest. "Mass starts in five minutes." He takes no more notice of Frank and vests for Mass.
"Thank you, father," says Sue with a smile. She leaves the sacristy and closes the door. I expect that the priest taking Sue's side rather than Frank's was just a case of knowing which side his bread was buttered. Frank was old and losing his capabilities. Sue was...well, not young, but she could drive a car and be counted upon to leave work at an hour's notice and drive the priest wherever he wished to go. Sue, the monstrous sycophant, was the future of the parish. Frank, the conscientious old man, was the past.

* (If only one party is expected to be happy [the male one], as in a Victorian marriage, what's so very wrong with that? Then comes a kind of marriage where both parties are expected to be happy and you've only got to want the bathroom window open and your wife wants it shut...then comes [a newly-made legal] divorce. Etc, etc,).

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Our lady...

"It hath been said in times past, without sin, that our lady was a sinner; but it was never said, without sin, that our lady was not saved, but a Saviour. I go not about to make our lady a sinner, but to have Christ her Saviour." Hugh Latimer.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


Call me whatever you like but I have yet to meet a woman who knows the first thing about Liturgy...