Wednesday, 29 September 2010

How they knew Him...

Going through my own archives I noticed that I have neglected as yet to explain the Scripture pericope in the sidebar from St Luke's Gospel. It is one of my personal favourites and tells the story of how the Risen Lord broke bread with the two Disciples. I find it profoundly moving. The last verse pretty much spells out the reason and impetus for this blog.

And it came to pass, whilst he was at table with them, he took bread and blessed and broke and gave to them. And their eyes were opened: and they knew him. And he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst he spoke in the way and opened to us the scriptures? And rising up, the same hour, they went back to Jerusalem: and they found the eleven gathered together, and those that were with them, saying: The Lord is risen indeed and has appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way: and how they knew him in the breaking of bread.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I'm not dead...

Deeply apologetic about my recent absence. This has been due to a combination of various other more important cares than blogging, not least the Papal visit and my University stuff, and disinclination - I can't think of anything interesting to say, nor am I that bothered about listening to any Muses. I haven't even kept track of other blogs for about a week, not even personal favourites like Fr Hunwicke's. Liturgy is very interesting but it is depressing to talk about. I sometimes think that if Liturgy were restored to what it was ''of old'' (whenever that was) that there'd be no need to discuss Liturgy at all - at least in the way that we do, or at least I do on this blog.

I still think that Liturgy is more important than the Papacy and that Summorum Pontificum is the enemy of Tradition. I'm not quite ''back'' yet though. Blogging may be sporadic perforce as of now - I am about to (Lord willing) start my new Classics degree, a worthy pursuit, although I still have one or two trivial things to sort out (such as enrolment, and rearranging my hours in my wonderful job which pays ever so well and gives me the best job satisfaction); it's just a question of finding time and inclination for such things.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Papal Liturgy...

It pains me that some people think I am less than Catholic because I didn't go along with the crowd, wave a Vatican flag, or shout out Viva il Papa during the four days of the Pope's visit. At Hyde Park on Saturday the arrival of the Holy Father was heralded by Handel's Messiah. I wondered at the time whether the words ''king of kings and lord of lords'' meant the Pope...all the time I looked about me, seeing starry-eyed devotees with their banners and flags I thought ''I don't believe the same as you,'' and I daresay that most of the thousands in the Park undermine Catholic teaching in some way. What were they there for? To gape at the superstar Pope? To show solidarity as Catholics by looking ridiculous in the eyes of the world and of posterity? There must be a grain of truth in the Protestant idea that Catholics worship the Pope - how else can you account for what happened? The Papal liturgies over the weekend were tacky and full of abuses - but this doesn't seem to matter to most enthusiasts, because Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope is infallible is the omniscient dispenser of Grace (I wonder who composed his speeches?), who can render abuse orthodoxy and travesty Tradition - merely to see him is to see Almighty God. I must say I felt sorry for the Pope for much of the visit, feeling for his shame. Celebrating Mass at a liturgically inappropriate time in an open field in Glasgow with crap music (arguably the worst part of that farcical liturgy was the Kyrie! Mass VIII is bad enough but they made it sound more ridiculous) can hardly have been to his taste. If St Leo the Great, worthiest of popes, had come to these shores would he have been received thus?

I think that Papal High Mass in the Old Rite celebrated in the Birmingham Oratory with the assistance of the Oratorian Fathers would have been far more impressive and appropriate for the beatification of Cardinal Newman than yet another open air Mass in a field with yet more tacky hymns. This would have attracted fewer crowds too...but then most of the devotees can hardly care for Liturgy, and the appalling Liturgy over the last four days only indicates that the cult of the Ultramontane Pope matters more in the Catholic Church nowadays than the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. Liturgy is infinitely more important than the Papacy, and Popes bow to the Sacred Liturgy not the other way around (or at least they ought to, Pius XII and the other monstrous popes obviously thought otherwise). Something has become dislocated in the Catholic Church, otherwise the last four days would have been very different. I wonder if I am a minority of one.

Oh and erm...if the Pope doesn't (officially) recognise Rowan Williams' Orders why did he give him a Pectoral Cross? Out of the two photos which is more impressive?

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Papal visit...

Well that's over; the Bishop of Rome has gone back to the one place where he can truly claim real and immediate jurisdiction. I must say that it was exciting to have the Holy Father visit these shores, brief though it was. It was hard not to get caught up with the euphoria, and the Apostolic journey of the Pope is a matter that touches everyone, whether they like it or not. Everything the Pope said in his speeches was wise and true, and he expounded many truisms which needed to be said. What touched my irreligious parents was the Pope's warning in Westminster Hall against the alarming growth of militant secularism and the marginalisation of Christianity, which alone can claim to be the moral and political foundation of this country. My mother gave a very cogent example of the cult of celebrities, such as people fresh out of the Big Brother House (the likes of Jade Goody, an ugly, talentless and utterly common individual) or the X Factor, or people like Katy Price. Years ago if you had led a life such as hers you tried your best to conceal it - in these latter days scandal and fornication seem praiseworthy things, things hardly to be ashamed of. A scenario has been created whereby people, simple ordinary people, by emulating celebrities who lead promiscuous lives, are not only not restrained from sin, but are actively encouraged to sin by social custom. Not that the Pope's speeches will change anything, whatever David Cameron may have said at the airport about making the British people second guess their utter rejection of religion. I expect that the order of the political day will go on as it did last Wednesday - drive the Church into new catacombs...

I didn't see everything, but I watched more TV on Thursday and Friday than I had in a long time. I don't have Sky at home so I relied on the BBC News channel. On Thursday I watched the open air Mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, and was trying to restrain a fast-rising wrath most of the time. I hardly think that Eucharistic Prayer II said aloud in the Latin language makes the affair anymore traditional than having a Postcommunion dance. The other abuses, and they were many (the most obvious being Mass versus turbam, although whether or not the Pope was facing the geographical East I don't know), vastly overshadowed what trace of tradition was there. Am I alone in thinking that Liturgy was not ''designed'' (as it were) for great concourse of people in their thousands? Still, it can hardly have been any more messy than when Our Lord fed the Five Thousand with five barley loaves and two fish. What I find distasteful about it, and I am not alone in this, is that the whole affair smacks of the triumph of Ultramontanism and the cult of the Pope over a more traditional and decorous celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, which alone requires the utmost reverence and humility. Does anyone remember what time the Mess, I mean Mass, started? I'm glad the Pope bowed to the local kalendar though.

I was at work the following morning (the Friday) so I missed the Twickenham business (or perhaps I didn't in a sense), but I watched the BBC News channel from around 4:00pm onwards. I was impressed by the speech of the Speaker of the House of Commons, very courteous I thought it. I must get hold of a copy of all those speeches and go over them when I get time. What followed at Westminster Abbey was probably the only thing worth attending, for aesthetic and liturgical reasons. The Evening Prayer service (of a sort - I was actually expecting BCP Evensong but was clearly mistaken!) at the Abbey was far grander than anything the Roman Church provided! The presence of a tunicled Crucifer, Acolytes in apparelled albs and amices, the Dean and Chapter in very fine copes (at least the Anglican bishops were dressed properly too - again highlighting the gross ineptitude of our own bishops) etc all went to my heart, but alas, very little real Liturgy - it was just made up, a meaningless service of a few hymns and intercessions so that dignitaries and church leaders could be two-faced with each other. As if Dr-what's-her-face of the Methodist (who looked more than half like a witch) communion is interested in what the Pope has to say! Still, it was far closer to Tradition than the Bellahouston Mass - at least it was in a church (a very fine church) for one thing.

Saturday morning I missed the Mass at Westminster Cathedral because I was too busy travelling to Hyde Park. A friend of mine watched it, and commented upon how ridiculous the Pope having come straight from the Sacristy was, and having a seven foot Crucifix behind the Altar and one small one in front looked. I'd like to have said something about this Mass but I saw nothing of it. But what a travesty Hyde Park was! I left my parish group because my uncle rang me and asked to meet up (I didn't miss them to be honest - hardly anyone spoke to me, and one boy said I was being ''well grumpy''). My uncle introduced me to two very charming young men from Argentina, one of whom knew Latin. It was wonderful to exchange a few words in the midst of that cultural and aesthetic vacuum. Apart from the Argentinians the whole thing was awful. The ''liturgical entertainments'' proved to be about as entertaining and edifying as watching paint dry, although there were Irish dancers, and men! Men look better than girls at Irish dancing in my opinion (although I am biased in this respect, having done it myself as a boy). I was cramped and bored until the Pope came (five and a half hours after I had arrived), which improved things only marginally. It was nice to see the old man in the flesh once again, although the Vigil of prayer itself was farcical - again another made-up service of tacky hymns (Shine Jesus Shine and other jewels of our Tradition) to show solidarity as Catholics by a great display of collective stupidity in the eyes of the world. Is this what Catholicism has become? No wonder it is so hateful, it's completely vile and tasteless.

After the Vigil I felt rather sour about Catholicism, but my ailment and weariness were much cured by a nice dinner with my uncle and the Argentinians. Not much else to say really, except that on Sunday I caught the tail end of the Mass at Cofton Park - just in time for Be still for the presence of the Lord...need I say more?

Much as I was unimpressed and unedified by the Liturgy - so much want of Tradition - I am glad overall that the Pope came. What happens after? Well that remains to be seen. I'm cutting this post short because I have to get ready for work...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Senex in albo...

The window closed. They waited. Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast; and if they gainsaid the voice, anger was kindled in the hearts of those under the spell. For some the spell lasted only while the voice spoke to them, and when it spoke to another they smiled, as men do who see through a juggler's trick while others gape at it. For many the sound of the voice alone was enough to hold them enthralled; but for those whom it conquered the spell endured when they were far away, and ever they heard that soft voice whispering and urging them. But none were unmoved; none rejected its pleas and commands without an effort of mind and will, so long as its master had control of it. (The Lord of the Rings, Book III, Chapter X).

The highlight of my day...

I met up with my very rich uncle at Hyde Park today, and he introduced me to two very charming young men from Argentina. We went out to dinner (a late one) afterwards. Great!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The day has dawned...

Well the Pope is here. I only hope that his visit isn't a complete farce. You know for someone so cold towards the Papacy as I am I actually felt all tingly this morning, like bees, but that didn't stop me going shopping after work (I purchased some new Brogues from Charles Tyrwhitt at half the original price) and finding the BBC commentary in Glasgow entirely pointless (although even the more enthusiastic Catholics would agree there). I hope that one of the things on the Pope's agenda is deposing all the Bishops and replacing them with ones of my personal choice. I know this isn't the forum to be malicious but I can't say that I have any respect, let alone reverence, for the Bishops of this Isle - not so much their doctrinal shortcomings as their liturgical shortcomings. He alone sees all ends though. I was thinking this morning that while I go on about ridding the Church of ecclesiastical despotism in the person of the Pope if I were in charge I'd probably become a tyrant myself - at least I would impose the Old Rite on the Universal Church whether people liked it or not. It annoys me that the reforms of the last 60 years were so fiercely impetuous and yet the upclimbing is so slow and painful, and full of dead ends and wrong turns. It need not be. If the Pope has all this apostolic authority why does he not use it to do things properly and at a quicker pace?

I'm going to the Post Office now (if it's still open, I hope it is). Afterwards we'll see what we shall see. It's hard, as an English Catholic, not to be interested in the events.

Monday, 13 September 2010

How would you feel?

How would you feel if somebody burned down the National Gallery or the British Museum? Pick any great masterpiece - Michelangelo's...well anything by Michelangelo, Perugino's Crucifixion triptych, the Saint Chapelle, the beautiful perpendicular style church at Long Melford. If somebody took it upon themselves to corrupt or destroy these masterpieces, to take them apart piece by piece and reconstruct them according to their own fancies, how would you feel about the loss of the original masterpiece? Well this is how I feel about the fate of the Roman Liturgy at the hands of the Popes.

Last night I had a very extraordinary dream, and old Pius XII was in it. I asked him why...and he said, with a look of proud contempt which shook me: ''because I can.'' Popes are not above reproach, and it would go to my heart like draughts of good wine if more Catholics questioned not the Second Vatican Council and the changes in the aftermath of that Council (which had demonstrably little to do with the changes), but questioned the changes to the Sacred Liturgy under the direct supervision of Pius XII. It is my sincere belief that those changes were both utterly wrong and deeply pernicious.

So how do my readers feel?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A clarification...

Some of you may have recognised my fair countenance on the blog of Fr Tim Finigan - this is just to say that I was there putting the flag up purely because I was in the vicinity. At any rate I ironed those chinos that very morning...

You know I was talking to the Queen this morning, who said she felt very nonchalant about the whole matter. We're on very familiar terms - at least I've been writing her speeches for some years now. You see I am just so very reverend and wise. I marvel that the Pope declined my invitation to come and have tea at my house, but then he has been rather sour with me ever since I sent him that letter some years ago urging him not to publish Summorum Pontificum; although I did also say that I felt for his shame, living amongst idiots. Don't we all!

Blogging has been slow of late for various reasons - disinclination mostly, and the Sitemeter stats show that most readers have gone off to better more interesting blogs. I am a little over half way through The Lord of the Rings now, a slow pace for me but it is an improvement from a few months ago.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Non-event of the century so far...?

I must be the only English Catholic (how my cousins in Northern Ireland would shudder to hear me say that!) blogger to have been reticent about the upcoming Papal visit to these shores so far. Suffice to say, though, that I have followed with enthusiasm the whole superstar routine, and annoyance the whole ''how very traditional the Papal liturgies are going to be'' propaganda. In fact, so interested was I in the state visit that I had to double check the dates before I began the composition of this post.

I don't know...I am not strictly against the visit of the Pope to this country, and I certainly find the ''Protest the Pope'' nonsense hateful, but I'm not that enthusiastic about it either, and I don't see how the presence of the Bishop of Rome (whose diocese is many hundreds of miles away beyond seas and mountains...!) can do more than kindle enthusiasm about the cult of the Pope's person rather than the Sacred Liturgy. It could (and demonstrably has) also encourage impetuously fierce contempt of the Church, rather like when Pius V said of Elizabeth I: ''Whoever sends her out of this world not only does not sin, but gains merit in the eyes of God.'' How did this help in any way the plight of English Catholics in 16th century England?

Much has been made on the Trad blogs of the Papal Liturgies. On Saturday I flicked through a copy of ''Magnificat'' (they had those at World Youth Day in 2005), the small booklet which gives details of the Papal Liturgies (unless I am mistaken) in my parish sacristy and in all honesty was underwhelmed, though I expected no better. I can't understand why anyone would enjoy queuing up for hours on end to attend a Mass in the New Rite in an open field with appalling music just because the Pope is Celebrant. The whole thing will be fraught with liturgical abuses, in spite of the sensitivities of the Pope - Mass facing the people, although some would argue that this is mitigated by the ''Benedictine Altar arrangement'' - you know, the Pope declares that the compass direction Eastward is now a Crucifix, and if the Queen of Hearts can declare words to mean what she wants them to mean, then yea more the Pope, who is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the dispenser of all Grace, can by his Apostolic authority declare that liturgical abuse is no longer abuse by shifting the compass directions around, etc, etc - so the long miserable saga of Papal manipulation of Liturgy runs on. I must say I find it hilarious that Traditionalists swallow this crap, and would fain liken them to puppets dancing to a great puppet master.

Then there is the use of Latin. As much I as I am in favour of the restoration of the Latin language to the Roman Rite I can't say that it is the most serious issue in the liturgical crisis of the Church. It is not the Latin language that makes the Liturgy traditional - it is the prayer of the Church that does this with the constant witness of Tradition. Latin is only a part of this. But like the Benedictine Altar-arrangement some would say that this mitigates abuse and obscenity. The Holy Father chanting Eucharistic Prayer II to an ''ancient'' tone in Latin must be more edifying and important than the Pope silently praying the traditional Offertory prayers and the Roman Canon. I wonder, were I to do a disservice to the Latin language, which I love, by translating some 1970s hymn into Latin whether people would think the Mass traditional then?

I find great concourse of people irksome in all honesty which is why I hate rush hour on the London Underground, and the Papal events are guaranteed to attract huge crowds of devotees. I am not going to try and imagine the sentiments of fools like Richard Dawkins and the National Secular Society, who are eaten up with ignorance and contempt, but I think I'd be in sympathy with unedified onlookers, of no particular religious persuasion, who would be scandalised or just put off by the witness of the Catholic Church in this country to the Pope. The Papal liturgies promise to be wrong in so many ways, so much want of Tradition and ceremony, at any rate huge Masses with thousands of communicants are a turn off. A better witness to the faith would have been a Papal High Mass in the Old Rite sung in the Birmingham Oratory in the presence of the Oratorian Fathers - at least for the purpose of the beatification of Cardinal Newman. Or even better still, why couldn't Archbishop Nichols have beatified him, and added his name to the local Litany?

So am I happy about the Papal visit? No, and I think for quite reasonable causes too. I think that it will just serve to make a spectacle of the Catholic Church in the eyes of her enemies. O vos omnes qui transitis per viam: attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus.

The greatest Church historian of the 20th century, Fr Adrian Fortescue. I wonder what his sentiments would have been had Pius X, a man he cordially disliked, taken it upon himself to visit these shores? I think it behoves us as Catholics to emulate Fortescue's more ''sober'' disposition to the Papacy...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Common liturgical orientation...

There is an interesting discussion going on over at Fr Hunwicke's blog about auctoritas and orientation in liturgical prayer (do also read the latest about the Latin language - naturally all priests should be Classicists, there is no higher learning than earnest study of the literature of the ancients). Naturally I agree with everything the learned blog host says.

I have a few observations of my own though. If priest and people face together in a common liturgical direction, but this direction is not geographically eastwards, then is there really any point in them doing so? A lot of Catholic churches (probably most) built since the Reformation have lost the correct orientation, and so the apse of the church is at a geographically odd angle. Westminster Cathedral and the London Oratory are noteworthy churches. Once the liturgical direction has been done away with the very notion of a priest celebrating Mass with his back to the congregation suddenly becomes a really objectionable practice, not because of a faulty understanding of the ancient liturgical praxis of the Church (the very downfall of Modernists) but because the contemporary praxis has become divorced from the ancient one. It is for this reason that I take such issue with the so-called Benedictine Altar arrangement (and there are other reasons). Theological/liturgical constructs mean nothing to most Catholics, and as I have said before a row of candlesticks and a crucifix does not avail to correct a liturgical abuse.

What then? It is my sincere belief that facing the wrong way is the absolute worst thing you can do liturgically, but for practical reasons, want of space, money etc, what are we to do? Do we compromise the Liturgy for such reasons, or just make do with what we have? I can offer no imaginative or practical solutions, so comments are welcome.

Monday, 6 September 2010


Since I have writer's block I'd like to thank all my readers for their encouraging and very intelligent comments. I find that it is very often the case that most of the good stuff, worth reading, on this blog is actually found in the comment box from people other than the poor blog host! For those of you who think I am a schismatic, or a heretic, well you're welcome to think that, but I have no plans on leaving the Roman Church for all her shortcomings and want of Tradition. I think that something very drastic would have to happen, in my living memory, for me to do that.

In the meanwhile I had begun the composition of a post on concepts of waking memory and the Anamnesis in a Tolkienian context - something about the presence of Christ in even the most minute points of liturgical tradition, and that the abolition of these small things is a real deprivation, and detracts somewhat from a more complete and authentic Christological liturgical experience...what is defective about modern liturgy is precisely that it is largely made up, with no real ground in Tradition - which is Christological.

I don't know...I always start out with a ''good idea'', but one cannot simply summon the Muse. Do let me know if you think this is worth pursuing.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The ''development'' of doctrine...

...and devotions, if you like. Those of you looking for a thorough treatise on the subject will be profoundly disappointed. I only ask questions on this blog; I am not the infallible Fr Z after all.

Fr Hunwicke has a very well-thought-out post about Papal Infallibility and the inerrancy of the Church on his blog, which I encourage readers to have a look at. I can't say that I agree with much that he says, but he's the sort of chap that in spite of all that one still loves to hear (or read) it. He says that the Roman Church subsists negatively, clinging to old traditions and remaining a strong bastion against novelty...I wonder...this is the exact opposite of what I have thought recently (that the modern Roman Church is a church of half-remembered traditions mingled with novelties and centralized bureaucracy), but I used to think along similar lines. The fond notion of the ''development of doctrine'' (and devotions) comes up here I think. For it seems to me that post-Schism developments in doctrine and devotion in the West have been one long series of reactions against things. The Elevation of the Sacrament during the Canon, for example, was a reaction against a heresy about the Real Presence. Devotion to the Sacred Heart can be said to be compensatory in the minds of simple people for meditation upon the mystery of Christ's whole Person. A priest once told me that in these developments he discerned the working of the Holy Ghost. I have reservations about some of them, and I would ask whether negative reactions and developments have any intrinsic worth because of their reaction and negativity?

I have never been quite able to understand the theory about the ''development'' of doctrine. It seems to me to be dangerously close to the very thing Traditionalist Catholics froth at the mouth about - Modernism and heresy. I have had the concept explained to me before - development in insights, the Church discovering new ways of explaining [away] doctrines etc, but perhaps this rustic Hobbit living too close to the Old Forest has missed something. My view (which was also the view of the Fathers) is that nothing can be both new and true, and I personally see no better way of casting odium on the Tradition of the Church than by fondly supposing that you, in modern times, see things more clearly than the Fathers, or the medieval theologians. Did St Bede, who experienced no Great Elevation during Mass, believe in the Real Presence less than me? Would any saint from the Early Church, given a time machine, walk into a modern Catholic church and recognize anything? Statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Lourdes clutching beads, side Altars a plenty...not to mention the Sacred Liturgy. They might, if they went to the Old Roman Rite, recognize many aspects of the Faith, but not so if the Mass were celebrated in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the Chalice were denied to the congregation...

Was the consistent denial of the Chalice to the congregation for a thousand years a positive development, in spite of seeming fair motives? Such developments the Second Vatican Council sought to correct, but how pear-shaped it all went!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

J.R.R Tolkien, RIP...

Of your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of J.R.R Tolkien who died 37 years ago today. In the last weeks of his life, he developed a chest infection, and three days before he died, he was taken to a private hospital where he was diagnosed with an acute bleeding gastric ulcer. He went to his long home early on Sunday morning. His Requiem Mass was celebrated in the church of St Anthony of Padua in Headington, Oxford. His son John (ordained priest in 1946) was Celebrant, and he was assisted by Fr Robert Murray, SJ (a family friend - I met him myself once, four years ago) and the parish priest, Mgr Doran as concelebrants. Liturgically it must have been awful, but such was the folly of those days I expect. He was buried beside his wife Edith in the cemetery at Wolvercote, in the area reserved for members of the Catholic Church. The headstone (wrought of Cornish granite) is inscribed thus: ''Edith Mary Tolkien, LĂșthien, 1889-1971. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Beren, 1892-1973.'' Tolkien had wanted the name LĂșthien inscribed on Edith's grave since it expressed more to him than a multitude of words. I would write something about the significance of LĂșthien for Tolkien, but I think it would be too personal and intrusive of me.

In August of 1952, Tolkien stayed with George Sayer (1914-2005, a former pupil of C.S Lewis, occasional Inkling, and a friend of Tolkien's) and his wife Moira at Malvern while Edith was with friends in Bournemouth. Together they walked in the Malvern hills, drove into the Black Mountains on the borders of Wales where they picked bilberries and climbed through the heather. They picnicked on bread, cheese and apples, with perry, beer and cider. Tolkien compared the hills to scenes from The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien had asked Sayer if he could help him in any way, and Sayer suggested that he do some work in the garden. Sayer recalled that Tolkien: ''chose an area of about two square yards, part flower border and part lawn and cultivated it perfectly: the border meticulously weeded and the soil made level and exceedingly fine; the grass cut with scissors closely and evenly. It took him quite a long time to do the job, but it was beautifully done. He was in all things a perfectionist.'' (''Recollections of J.R.R Tolkien,'' Proceedings of the J.R.R Tolkien Centenary Conference 1992 (1995), p.23).

When they went to Mass on Sunday, Tolkien leaned over to help some children in the pew in front of him to follow the Mass in a simple picture book Missal. Sayer recalled that: ''when we came out of the church we found that he was not with us. I went back and found him kneeling in front of the Lady Altar with the young children and their mother, talking happily and I think telling stories about Our Lady. I knew the mother and found out later that they were enthralled. This again was typical: he loved children and had the gift of getting on well with them. 'Mummy, can we always go to church with that nice man?''' (Ibid, p24).

This is just one story I know of his life, a perfect expression of his humanity and love. I once asked an old friend, in sympathy to my liturgical views (though by no means sharing all of them) who was better off - we, in these after days, looking back on the ravages of heathen men, or Tolkien, who in his youth experienced the Old Rite in situ but was alive to see every stage of demolition? My friend answered that we were, and I remember agreeing with him at the time. I don't think that I would agree now, or at least I would be hesitant.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.