Sunday, 28 November 2010

Folded chasubles...well not quite yet...

When I got to the local railway station this morning a man came up to me and informed me that there were no trains, due to engineering works...I should have checked before leaving but I was in a hurry, having woke up late, so I decided to go to Mass in my parish church instead. I had planned on writing a post about the use of Folded Chasubles, which are older than Advent itself, and had my iPhone handy to take photos at St Magnus the Martyr, but I was prevented from going more's the pity. Someone in my parish had told me that the Holy Ghost had stopped the trains...make of that what you will. Still, there is time yet. I wonder if Trad Catholics think that Anglican Orders are invalid because the folk at St Magnus use Folded Chasubles, which were abolished by the Pope in 1960? If the Magisterium is infallible then earnest desire to revive them in the Church of Rome is surely going against this ''infallible'' Magisterium, which was all wise in doing away with them? Or if this desire is legitimate, and that the abolition of Folded Chasubles was a mistake (or worse), then the Magisterium is not infallible. I lean more towards this interpretation.

After Mass I went to the back of the church to pick up a leaflet and a timetable of services for Christmas when something else quite extraordinary caught my eye. A ''Traditional Catholic Calendar 2011'' compiled by the Latin Mass Society! It was certainly interesting having a flick through, all those lovely photos of 1962 Liturgy, the last wonderful, traditional, edition of the Tridentine Roman Missal before it all went pear-shaped because of the nasty Council subverting the authority of the Holy Father. I took more than these two but at the risk of being too candid about these misguided people I decided not to include all of them. There were lovely traditional Low Masses in evidence, though, and even Pontifical Liturgy at the Faldstool with tasteful Roman cut vestments. This last one is, of course, the crème de la crème.

Joe the Communist strikes again! Of course, as the title page above shows, the Latin Mass Society promotes the ''Traditional Latin Rite'' - erm, what is their yardstick of liturgical orthopraxis though? Pius XII, the last true pope - yea more, the pope of the liturgy? No they're not that insane...could it be that this was what Marcel Lefebvre had chosen nearly 30 years ago, and that the only reason ''62'' is such a big deal is because of his obvious liturgical erudition? I'm sorry but if there is to exist a ''Latin Mass Society'' the least they could do is promote something authentic, and for the good of the Church, and not provide people with the pernicious tosh that they do.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


The uttermost choice is before me. To stay put, and abide poor Liturgy (which even among more sensible Traditional circles isn't really all that traditional), the culture (which, incidentally, sickens me), the fundamentally wrong ecclesiology of Ultramontane Tradworld (which isn't quite as Ultramontane at the moment as is its wont, vis the condoms business), the New Kalendar, the eventual canonization of the Antichrist, the acceptance of a set of claims to holiness and apostolicity which clearly belie the last 450 years of sterility and a bureaucratic hermeneutic of Tradition, belief in the ''development'' of doctrine (which entails acceptance of the Papal claim to infallibility - a claim which is entirely novel and contrary to the Apostolic Tradition) etc. Or to depart and wander hopelessly through a series of foreign churches, and who knows where that may lead me?

Perhaps my time as a Traditionalist can be compared to waiting in an ante-room leading to something greater. A lot of Anglicans of my acquaintance feel this way about their church, which has clearly departed from even their own wholesome tradition in a very serious way. This is a matter of conscience. Trad Catholics may sneer at conscience if it is at variance with the Magisterium, though I do not understand why. In conversation with a friend some weeks ago (sadly steeped in a Trad milieu) he had said that he would watch with growing concern the path to canonization of Pius XII, whom he described as an arrogant old queen. An apt description if you're being reticent I suppose. I was rather pleased by this, though disappointed when he added that the day Old Pius is canonized he would accept with filial piety his canonization, as coming from the infallible Magisterium of the Church.

Conscience versus Obedience. Where do you draw the line? I cannot, in conscience, accept or approve of what Pius XII did to the Sacred Liturgy. I just cannot. I am supremely confident that those reforms were both deeply pernicious and wrought great evil in the Church (you can see the signs today). So why must I sacrifice my conscience in this matter in order to appear orthodox to other Trad Catholics? I care not for such pretence of ''orthodoxy.'' Indeed I would fain question the whole ''traditionalist'' position if their end to ''turn back the clock'' runs contrary to Papal and Curial decree. There has to be a point where you can look with an objective eye at the dealings of the Papacy with the Sacred Liturgy, step aside from starry-eyed filial piety (just as Fortescue, a man very misunderstood, did during the course of his life), and just admit that the abolition (say) of the Midnight Eucharistic Fast was wrong, utterly wrong, and that there was a ricochet effect - do away with the Eucharistic Fast and you clearly encourage complacency about preparation for the Lord's Day and receiving the Eucharistic Lord into ourselves. Similarly I cannot understand sacrificing one's conscience for the sake of obedience to the Magisterium in terms of the canonization of Pius XII, a man who clearly did great violence to the Church's Tradition. Why would you accept this? Are the marks of a saintly man, dutiful son of the Church, ''Second Sunday of the Passion'' post-'56 fashion, or evening Mass?

My hero J.R.R Tolkien, at Oxford in the 1960s.

Of course I am just one lonely guy - up against the ''infallible'' Vatican curial system, which regulates orthodoxy by decree and ''Canon Law'', renders abuse Tradition and novelty ancientry. Trad Catholics may pride themselves on the Roman Church's staunch opposition to doctrinal relativism, though this is just circumstantial, just as subject to change where the Pope is concerned as it is among Protestants. The Pope is lord even of Truth in the Roman Church, and can mould the Tradition as he sees fit. Deviation from Papal orthodoxy and you are anathema. I fail to see why, as a Catholic, I am expected to submit myself to the Church, that is, to place my trust in the Pope who has clearly failed to do his job - that is to safeguard and defend the Tradition of the Church. Conscience has no place in the Roman Church.

Though I am in great doubt. Christ plainly did not intend His faithful to only partly-adhere to the Tradition of that Church He founded, to believe some of her teachings but not others, to sneer at most of her liturgy. I always imagined that putting on Christ entailed steeping oneself fully in the Tradition of the Church, which was upright, worthy to be followed and thoroughly orthodox; with the Sacred Liturgy, the traditional prayer of the Church, being offered by all the Church, by all Christian men everywhere, according to the same received ethos and praxis, and rising up to God as an evening sacrifice, as sweet incense to perfume the heavenly court. This is not so romantic as you might think, and this was indeed the case once upon a time, with wholesome Liturgy radiating from all the churches of this world. Now what do you find? Banal 1970s hymnody, ICEL mistranslations of an impoverished Missal, a plethora of untraditional Eucharistic prayers, the Propers being left out - not to mention the countless aliturgical abuses such as Mass facing the people. Tradworld is hardly better - with Low Mass, Rosary Crusades and Benediction being the order of the day. Where am I to go in the Roman Church for decent Liturgy? The answer is, of course, that I would look in vain...

''A shadow passed over Saruman's face; then it went deathly white. Before he could conceal it, they saw through his mask the anguish of a mind in doubt, loathing to stay and dreading to leave its refuge.''

I am sick to death of cheating myself, of trying to employ Orwellian Doublethink in terms of my faith, only half-listening to my own conscience. ''The Church is infallible, the Church is never wrong'' I kept assuring myself as I felt sick to my stomach (and trying against hope to suppress a fast-rising wrath) to witness recently a celebration of a pseudo-feast in a Traditionalist parish. Years ago I tried to conceive of my reaction if I became aware beyond all doubt that the Church was wrong, that the Roman Church was not the true church of Jesus Christ as I have always believed. I could not, as I could not conceive of it. Though I was (really) sick recently and wept, having come to the irreversible conclusion that the Roman Church is evidence of a gigantic fraud, and that I was led astray by her, my conscience and right thinking lulled to sleep by false hopes and want of religion. How do you think it feels when the magnitude of your own folly and ignorance is revealed, though you were long aware of it, but too scared to actually admit the truth? I am tired and bitter now, finding little consolation in that which of old gave me comfort. Even Tolkien, that kindly intercessor who has kept me in the Roman Church beyond all hope, said that the Church more often felt like a trap than a refuge in the 1960s. Though where could he go? Where can I go? I feel homeless, orphaned and utterly bereft.

O Lord, seeking me Thou sat exhausted; Thou hast redeemed having suffered the Cross; may not so great a labour be wasted...

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I hope that readers continue to enjoy this blog. God bless you all.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Great Elevation...

Fr Hunwicke (gosh am I flirting with Anglicans lately or what!) has linked to a post on Fr Blake's blog (are we still allowed to call it Saint Mary Magdalen?), and makes a very cogent point about the Canon Romanus - that is that nobody should tamper with it, not even ''doctors'' of the Church. Quite.

Were I (Heaven forbid! though I think the end result would have been far greater) on the Consilium in the 1960s, or had some influence to cheat Pius XII in his diabolical hope to sacrifice the Tradition of the Church for a gigantic anti-Christian fraud - that is the cult of the Infallible, Grace-dispensing Papacy - in the 1950s, I think I'd have done at least something to the Canon; make of this what you will. I would have removed the Great Elevation of the Eucharistic species immediately after the Consecration, and moved it to the very end of the Canon, immediately after the omnis honor et gloria of the Doxology and before the Pater Noster (effectively replacing the Minor Elevation - though I may treat this question in the combox, presuming that any comments are left). This way the Elevation would be an act of oblation as well as adoration, the Canon would be one uninterrupted Eucharistic Prayer, and would run from the Preface to the Pater Noster uninterrupted by popular piety and the ringing of bells. It would add emphasis to the phrase panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie in the Pater Noster, and would moreover be a restoration of an ancient tradition, smothered with layers of reactionary theology - yea the application of a hermeneutic to the Eucharistic Liturgy less-centred upon the Words of Institution (and the authority of the Priest to say them).

They err who say that the Canon Romanus is ''unchanged'' since the time of St Gregory, who arranged the textual order to that which we have now in the Roman Missal (though I would, in all sincerity, question even this assertion - why are there, for example, so many per Christum Dominum Nostrums in the Canon?). I have both rubric and text in mind here. The Religious Orders, and many local Uses, added saints and other persons (such as the King) to the Communicantes prayer - suppressed by the Council of Trent. The Great Elevation after the Words of Institution is a late Medieval embellishment of the Canon, unknown in the Roman Rite (or any Rite in Christendom) before the 12th century. It seems to have been an early triumph of popular piety over Tradition, or at least one of many theological reactions to a heresy regarding the Real Presence. Fortescue is suspicious of this hypothesis, though he explains that debates at the University of Paris instigated the whole process - debates about whether Bread was consecrated after the consecration of the Chalice etc. Hot air. I would ask why they were having such debates about Liturgy in the first place and not busy in choir getting on with it. By the end of the 13th century the custom of elevating the Host for the congregation to see had spread to the farthest bounds of the West, and was even adopted by the more austere and traditional Orders. Likewise the genuflexions before and after each consecration came later - 1570 to be precise.

Whatever the origins or reasons for the Great Elevation, it effects the whole Eucharistic Liturgy (and by extension the entire Prayer of the Church) in a very profound way - indeed for many it is (still) the focal point of the Mass; from pious lay folk in the Middle Ages begging their pastor to raise the Host higher, higher and still higher, to modern Trad Catholics, who care little for anything but the Roman Eucharistic Liturgy. The reason a bell is rung by an Acolyte at the Hanc Igitur is to warn the congregation of the impending Consecration. The reason there is still an obsolete rubric in the Canon for the Deacon to lift the end of the Chasuble is so that the Celebrant is not impeded by a weighty chasuble from lifting the Sacrament high above his head. And so on and so on. If the Great Elevation is merely reactionary, I would question its substance and worth in terms of Liturgy, oblation and adoration. If it is more than reaction then I would question its intrusion into the Canon of the Mass. All Liturgies have some form of elevation of the Sacred Species. In the days before superstition this was the Minor Elevation at the end of the Canon in the Roman Rite; in the various Eastern rites the elevation comes before Communion, and is accompanied by the acclamation: ''Holy Things for holy.'' I expect that defenders of the Elevation in its current place would highlight its obvious emphasis on the reality of the Blessed Sacrament, and the propriety of reverencing our Eucharistic Lord. This is, of course, inherently praiseworthy, but is not the reality of the Real Presence implied by the whole Eucharistic Liturgy, especially the Canon, in the first place? Why react to heresy by introducing innovations when you can remain faithful according to the received liturgical praxis and refute it thereby? Did St Bede, or St Cuthbert, or St Hilda, none of whom experienced any Great Elevation, believe in the Real Presence less than modern Trad Catholics?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ex Fide...

The blogger Ex Fide has a very good post on the subject of High Churchmanship and Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England. Do go over and have a look. These movements began in the Anglican Church in the middle of the 19th century, and evolved out of the Tractarian Movement. They were essentially endeavours to revive a more holistic and catholic tradition within the very protestant Church of England. Few of the men involved, in either school, as my learned tutor at Heythrop counselled me, went down Newman's path. The High Churchmen sought to imbibe Prayerbook liturgy with Sarum ritual, whereas the Anglo-Catholics sought to emulate the contemporary Roman Church in her customs and liturgy (in effect giving up that which was good, wholesome and traditional in the Book of Common Prayer for the latest Roman fashion - lace cottas and Roman cut vestments for instance); probably because of some false idea that Rome is home, or the S.R.C is a good thing. There are obvious merits in both these schools. On the one hand I admire the historical and more holistic understanding of the relationship of the Prayerbook to the historic family of Rites native to this country* (in a certain sense applying a kind of hermeneutic of continuity to the much-watered-down Prayerbook). I must say I find apparelled albs with amices, Rood Lofts, Chancery Screens, tunicled Crucifers etc very impressive, and more conducive to worship than lace cottas and the big six. However very often the High Churchmen were very Protestant theologically, and it is fundamentally wrong to love schism for its own sake. The Anglo-Catholics believed in the Branch Theory, conceiving themselves related remotely to the Roman Church and subject spiritually to the Bishop of Rome - real ecumenists. I am in great sympathy to the Ecumenical Movement, it is a worthy ideal. However they erred in their zeal for everything Roman. It is praiseworthy to laud that which is good and venerable in the ancient Church of the city of Rome. But it is not good, yea it is damnable, to follow that Church down her path into the abyss; trusting to the Orcs of the S.R.C and the infallible Pope as they shamelessly cast off that venerable Tradition.

What would I have? I would have things as they were in the days of my long fathers of old, in the days of St Bede, before there was an infallible pope, or a Sacred Congregation of Rites, or liturgical books of 1962; before (or beyond?) the days when Popes were not puffed up with virtually blasphemous arrogance; to the days when Liturgy on the Lord's Day meant something infinitely more than fulfilling one's obligation. If I could attend (and possibly serve) full sung Liturgy everyday according to the ancient local Use, and using real liturgical books and real liturgical vestments, then...well, I feel not dissimilar to Gandalf as he gave his history of the Palantir to Pippin on the back of Shadowfax. I do not have my copy of The Lord of the Rings to hand but you'll find the reference towards the end of Book IV, Chapter XI - the last page but one in my favourite edition.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What the Pope said...

Fr Hunwicke over at Liturgical Notes has a very good, and supportive, post about this condoms business. I really couldn't care less what the Pope said, about anything - any serious student of the history of the Papacy (especially in their dealings with the Sacred Liturgy) must cordially despise the very idea of a Pope (though this is besides the point), or at least know enough about them to not really take them seriously in the first place; but this whole issue has served to highlight the pick 'n mix kind of Catholicism so prevalent in the Church, even in Tradworld (or even especially in Tradworld). Having glanced at the blogs of various Pro-Life Traditionalists (none of whom care to link to little-old-me, even if they know I exist...I must be like embarrassing old furniture around the house to them, a bit like how modern Catholics treat the Genesis Creation story I guess) since the weekend, I have noted that with great care they all counsel us to disagree (respectfully mind you) with the Pope in this matter. Did I read that aright? Disagree? Yes. With the Pope? Yes.

Let me get this straight. Where exactly does the Pope's supposed special charism as the Vicar of Christ to teach infallibly on matters of faith and morals come into all this controversy? The subject of artificial forms of contraception, and indeed homosexuality, involve very serious doctrinal and moral questions surely? So the Pope wrong when he says things flippantly, or are these to be treated as the ramblings of an old man (I have in mind the case of Ossius of Cordova, one of the Papal Legates to the Council of Nicaea, who as a frail, very blind, old man was forced to sign a semi-Arian formula - probably the one impediment to his canonization)? In which case where do you draw the line? What are mere laymen and priests compared with the Vicar of Christ? What right do they have to scrutinize the Pope's every utterance to scan them for faults and want of Tradition? Brigands of the hills! It seems that Pro-Life Traditionalists are flying to the defence of Humanae Vitae in this matter, that highly controversial Papal ruling against the use of artificial contraception, even within the periphery of Marriage. But again, why? You're just flying to the defence of yet another Papal document, and what's the difference? If Paul VI said one thing in 1968, and Benedict XVI says another in 2010, whom do you believe? Is this controversy yet another example of the inconsistency of the Papacy?

It just seems so artificial to me, this whole infallibility doctrine; so contrived, so many cop outs, so many ifs and buts, things being said in (and out) of context etc; it seems the Pope is only infallible when he stands in the right place, breathes a special air or celebrates a tacky New Rite Mass in Cofton Park. The Pope is one minute the greatest thing since sliced bread (e.g: Summorum Pontificum) and then the next a ''private theologian'', not to be taken seriously. Did St Peter define any doctrine infallibly? Did any Pope do any such thing before the 19th century? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Perhaps now that the vast majority of Tradworld is in a state of respectful disagreement with the Pope over this matter they won't mind if I, for my part, ''respectfully disagree'' with the Pope in matters liturgical?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sexual improprieties...

People confuse me.

Many of them are violently homophobic. From schoolboys who think that if you're ''gay'' you have some hideous and highly contagious disease, you're not to be taken at all seriously, and they're better off if you're avoided; to grown men (mostly of the lower echelons of society) who think (at least inasmuch as what goes on inside their heads is ''thinking'') along similar lines...surprisingly even some women I know are of this ignorant disposition (one going so far as saying that homosexual men should be shipped off to some island commune in the back of beyond, that is before she spat on the ground - this is a woman who is so full of herself that she mistakes sullen fear for respect). Now I am quite used to being universally despised; I'm just unfortunate enough to have been grievously afflicted in my life with people who don't like me very much. One of the tokens of my condition is the ability to say things as I see them, to express unreservedly what I think, in a not-very-diplomatic way (in fact one of the first essays I submitted at University was described by my tutor as ''highly conservative and militant''). I have long ceased to care what people think. There was a time, when I was growing up (and before I knew about autism), when I did, and it distressed me. It was my inability to cope with new situations, the fact that I ran out of things to say so very quickly (and trying to think of ''small talk'' just made me tired, literally) that people avoided me. I very often didn't hear about birthday parties in primary school etc. So many failed social attempts have just served to blunt me to humanity as a whole. One could call this tragic if I actually cared.

I digress. My point here is that homosexuality, while being ''officially'' acceptable in secular circles (indeed promoted, ''shoved down our throats'' as the saying goes - that is by propaganda and social custom) is still seen by most people as something risible, or funny. Why is this? Why do men froth at the mouth about homosexuality (let us disregard any other sexual ''aberration'' for argument's sake) when they can scarcely claim anything but perversion and incontinence in their own lives? I fail to see how someone who unrepentantly uses condoms, has promiscuous extra-marital sex with a series of partners, masturbates frequently, reads pornographic material etc has any right to pass judgement or ridicule someone for homosexuality - indeed I would fain suggest that such an individual is more seriously at fault in his own life. Or anyone. How can a woman who 50 years ago would have been sent to a home for fallen women (for having pre-marital sex) dare to suggest that homosexual men should be sent to a commune? Does anybody else see Christ in this ludicrous suggestion? How is it in any way more natural to have extra-marital sex than for two men whatever it is they do? Public perception of sexual propriety just seems so imbalanced to me.

I expect that there is small comfort for homosexual men in the Roman Church; the official position being something rather patronising like: ''you have an awful cross to bear, be assured of our prayers (and raised eyebrows)'' rather than ''try to channel or direct your inclination to something chaste and fruitful, and put on Christ.'' What was it that Gandalf said about cold counsel...? Of course the trouble with being thought of as a heretic is people suspect that everything you say is a lie.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Ordo for the Year of the Lord MMXI...

The A.D MMXI Ordo Recitandi, published by the St Lawrence Press, is now ready for dispatch (I already have my copy). It is highly useful, especially for traditional parishes implementing the Holy Father's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. It is all in Latin of course, after the manner of the old Roman ordines of the mid-20th century. I highly recommend it since the Ordo is in the service of the Sacred Liturgy. To place your order please follow the link.

Monday, 15 November 2010

An Oath against '62...

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Let it be known that I have sworn an oath before Almighty God, before St Mary and all the Saints, the Apostles, the Prophets, the Martyrs and all the Faithful Departed, who rest from their labours in the bosom of our father Abraham, never to partake actively, support, endorse, ratify or otherwise any celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the much-reformed, erroneously designated, ''Tridentine'' Rite of 1962, also known as the ''Extraordinary Form'' or the ''Usus Antiquior.'' I reject any and all liturgical innovations of Pius XII, including the celebration of Mass after the liturgically appropriate time according to the Rubrics and kalendar day, the abolition of the Midnight Eucharistic Fast, the devastating Holy Week reforms, the structural changes to the Divine Office and the Kalendar, the false-festival of Joe the Worker, the new Signum Magnum propers for the Feast of the Assumption etc as representing an irreversible departure from the ancient Tradition of the Church. Likewise I repudiate the errors of those who claim that the ''liturgical'' books of 1962 in some way represent, though imperfectly, the constant liturgical traditions of the Church, and therefore, according to this logic, make recourse to the said ''liturgical'' books of 1962 in order to redress the shortcomings of the Missal of Paul VI. I reject also the disposition of those who, under the pretence of ''obedience'' to the Magisterium of the Church, blindly accept the ''liturgical'' books of 1962 as just another legitimate expression of the Roman Rite, as valid as (and equal to) the ancient Uses of Sarum, Hereford, Milan, Toledo and the various Eastern liturgies. It is a fact that the ''liturgical'' books of 1962 are an aberration, and have no intrinsic value, whether in terms of Liturgy or even aesthetics - they will be an example, in the eyes of posterity, of the dangers of magisterial reform of the Sacred Liturgy. So swear I, Patricius, before God the Almighty Father. Amen, and Amen.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


I don't publish abusive comments. ''Catty'', effeminate, pre-'62 anorak, schismatic, heretic, Anglican, can't see the wood for the trees, needs to grow up etc. I've been called everything since I started this blog - and usually by spineless sell-outs to '62ism, who know I tell the truth, ask very shrewd and awkward questions, but just cannot stand that they've devoted their lives to a damnable falsehood (yea even a Papal falsehood). I can't wait for the death threats to start though - this is, as a friend counselled me, when you know you're doing something right.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


On Wednesday I met up with several of my Facebook friends at St Magnus, and also (curiously I thought) one of the Followers of my blog, who didn't realise that I was me, and said later that I looked rather like a clergyman. Not quite sure what to make of that, but there we are. Later on we had a rather interesting discussion about this is a very touchy matter, especially on this blog, but I had told my friend Ex Fide that my father had accused me of ''turning Protestant'', and had forbidden me from going to St Magnus (although not for Protestant reasons, but others). Naturally I rendered as much obeisance to this ruling as I do to the Pope in matters pertaining to good Liturgy...I simply ignored it, and went anyway. I think my week would have been considerably less memorable if I had just stayed home and gone to bed early. What do you think?

Obedience in all things except sin...or good taste?

Friday, 12 November 2010

A lovely traditional Sunday Requiem...

I went to St Magnus the Martyr on Wednesday evening for Vespers of the Dead, which I must say was well worth it - the music was splendid, the antiphons were not doubled (curiously - I had thought heretofore that for Vespers celebrated in a ''solemn'' fashion that the antiphons were doubled, regardless of the rank of the occurring feast, though I may be, and probably am, mistaken - comments, suggestions etc below), the pall draped over the catafalque was exquisite, and ornamented with a very handsome Rood token of Christ. Altogether a very apt and wonderful liturgical expression of remembrance for all the Faithful departed, who rest in the bosom of their Lord. The Psalms were chanted in English to a sombre plainsong melody, whilst the Magnificat was the only Latin. Not that Latin makes the Liturgy of the Church traditional - you only have to go to the London Oratory on a Sunday to dash that idea (where, for instance, Vespers has doubled antiphons, no commemorations etc). I was especially stirred by the third antiphon: The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; yea, it is even He that shall keep thy soul (or in the original Latin: Dominus custodit te ab omni malo; custodiat animam tuam Dominus). This is, of course, the prime end of Liturgy - to feel as though the very hand of the Lord reaches into our hearts to rend the very will; it is truly humbling. Since Christ Himself is liturgically present (just as He is substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament) in the ceremony, chant and psalmody of the Liturgy, to feel moved by Liturgy (as is proper) is to feel the very warmth of Christ; to be moved by the solemn chanting of the Psalms and the Gospel is to hear the very Word of God in Its proper context (so what happens when the Psalms of the Office, or the traditional pericope cycle of the Eucharistic Liturgy, are shifted about by self-important ecclesiastics, whom He Himself has appointed?); to understand and appreciate the Word of God in the context of the Sacred Liturgy is to see all things anew, as it were to see Creation through a prism where light and tradition, custom and the prayer of the Church are wholly familiar, resonant, poignant and one. I never was so moved when I first heard the Passion according to St Matthew chanted solemnly on Palm Sunday for the first time in full. The celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is a summons to constancy and fidelity to the Tradition of the Church. Sadly the Roman Church (even in its supposed ''traditional'' circles - mostly sell-outs to '62ism), in her zeal for the latest innovations and change for the sake of change, doesn't understand this anymore, and continues to lambaste the Sacred Liturgy. I have arrived at the inescapable conclusion that Liturgy in the Roman Church is just as tenuous as is orthodoxy among Protestants.

Among the more lamentable innovations, running contrary to the constant Tradition of the Church, brought about by the Papacy in the 20th century, is something I think I have neglected to mention before. It is Benedict XV's indult for Remembrance Sunday of having a Requiem Mass. Now, it is grossly uncanonical to have any Votive Office on the Lord's Day, Requiems not excluded - yea they ought to be especially excluded, according to the very nature of both the Office of the Dead, and the Sunday Office. The pastoral motives were, I daresay, noble and compassionate, and it is wholesome and the duty of all Christian men to pray for the Dead that they might be loosed from their sins, but you cannot simply supplant the Sunday Office (which is older than the Office of the Dead by several centuries) for something foreign, however worthy the intention. Sundays belong to the Lord. I'm sorry but I find this indult to be an especially meaningful side-swipe at the Tradition of the Church. And what happens to the Sunday Office? It is simply omitted, passed over completely - except in one or two ''schismatic'' churches where the writ of the Bishop of Rome rightly means nothing. Benedict XV was one of the better popes of the 20th century (in my view), though he did see through Pius X's new ''Code of Canon Law'' and promulgated his new Missal, which incorporated the changes of Divino Afflatu. Maybe it's because the Popes had long ceased to care much for Liturgy as a corporate act encompassing so much more than bare Eucharistic validity that it didn't matter to them whether the Prayers of the Mass of that particular Sunday were concordant with the Temporale, or a Votive Office, or not. This is the case with most Trad Catholics I have met - never mind about a few missing prayers here, or a few curtailments there - so long as the Sacrament is procured nothing else matters.

I simply despair of modern Catholicism. I met up with my MC at St Magnus on Wednesday, and he asked me to assist in setting everything up. Fair enough, but I must say that I find shifting benches around on the Lord's Day (and in my Sunday best and all) to be rather, erm, laborious...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith. (The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion).

Other than shopping (which I can no longer afford this month) another favourite pastime of mine is complaining. A few questions here: Mass coram Sanctissimo was abolished in May 1967 (rightly - it's modern and quite ridiculous), see Eucharisticum Mysterium for the general gist of it. So what authority do Traditionalist parishes look to for having Quarant 'Ore? My guess would be Summorum Pontificum...yet Summorum Pontificum specifically designates the ''liturgical'' books of 1962 to be in force, that is, the only canonical ''Extraordinary Form'' of the Roman Rite. So I would hope (though I wouldn't hold my breath, knowing the parish I have in mind) that Traditionalist parishes would, if they looked to the Motu Proprio as their raison d'être, that they would stick rigidly to the liturgical books of 1962 in the liturgy of the Quarant 'Ore -I have such things as no Last Gospel, Benedicamus Domino, no Credo in the Missa pro Pace etc in mind here. Of course if they followed pre-'62 rubrics they would be just as disobedient as the avant-garde liberals they look down their noses at...for being dissonant...

Of course this opens up a floodgate of other questions pertaining to Canon Law and Liturgy here...if Eucharisticum Mysterium abolished Mass coram Sanctissimo, why would Benedict XVI want to render that previous legislation void by promulgating Summorum Pontificum? It is too reminiscent of Big Brother for me, you know O'Brian's discourse about Doublethink and pulling out truth and lies out of oblivion just so long as they are necessary, or convenient, for the Party. If it suited the S.R.C to abolish Mass coram Sanctissimo 40 years ago it must have suited Benedict XVI's purposes to bring it back from oblivion. And which legislation do we follow? It just seems to me that legislation from on high in the Catholic Church is rather tenuous and not worth really taking seriously. Clearly Trads don't bother - but like to think that they do because it suits their purposes, that is, feeling all smug and superior to the Modernists. I'm just me, and I enjoy ridiculing both their tastes - because I think that neither does anybody any favours. The revival of a more holistic and traditional liturgical theology and Tradition in the Roman Church cannot be achieved by recourse to six altar candles and a crucifix, or gradines, or polyester lace cottas anymore than it can be achieved by recourse to the liturgical books of 1962. It ought to be a grass-roots endeavour; drink the health of the Roman Pontiff, the great Patriarch of the West, but don't take any notice of him - he has clearly failed. But be honest about it...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Yes, it was me...

I shall be at the church of St Magnus the Martyr near London Bridge tomorrow evening, at 6:30pm, for Solemn Vespers of the Dead and Funeral Sentences - an opportunity to sample something other than the Roman Eucharistic Liturgy, and some grand music. Now that I think about it, I don't think I have ever experienced the Office of the Dead - private recitation doesn't count. I have been to countless Requiem Masses in the Old Rite (and sadly, also, the '62 Rite) since I was 15, but nothing else. Alas, alas for the Roman Church. I must say that the modern Requiem Mass is crap, for want of a better expression, and hardly fitting to send any of our loved ones off with. The reformers' zeal to do away with every Medieval accretion (some of it worked, Mass coram Sanctissimo is quite ridiculous, and was rightly abolished in 1967 - see Eucharisticum Mysterium) went too far in this instance, and like everything else, was rather selective. What needed to happen, in my opinion (sed haudquaquam sum peritus), was a change in attitude rather than text- and have the Prayers sung standing or something, a way of orienting the attitude of prayer upwards in hope of the Resurrection (although the texts themselves imply this hope anyway). Simply abolishing prayers, or relegating them to the Office of Readings or whatever, achieves nothing but violence.

Anyway, I hope to see some of you at St Magnus tomorrow.

Monday, 8 November 2010

It is time...

...for me to disembark (or at least to give serious thought to anyway) a vast sinking ship...what sort of ship do I hear you ask? Well, it used to be grand and beautiful, mistress of the seas and guided by Eärendil, but is now old and shabby, not even a shadow of its ancient glory, and one of its old captains (now retired) steered it wrong and collided with an iceberg. I'd just like to get out to shore and wave it goodbye (and its deluded passengers) before I go down to the depths with it. I wonder how long before it sinks though? I'm surprised it's still on the surface to be honest, but there is only so much damage it can take...

Friday, 5 November 2010

Orders and Liturgy...

Don't panic! This won't be another pompous rant by me about Liturgy and how Trad Catholics get it spectacularly wrong...even more so than the Modernists in some respects. The blogger Ex Fide has written two comparative, very cogent and well-thought-out posts, here and here, about Holy Orders, specifically the Diaconate and Subdiaconate, their respective roles within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and the inherent dangers in certain tendencies in the Western approach to them (yet more wonderful ''developments''). The points I find resonant are questions about whether a Priest is a Deacon (and Subdeacon, although since 1974 this point raises other questions*), and whether it is desirable (or even decent, liturgically that is) for a Priest to fill the role of Deacon and/or Subdeacon in the celebration of Mass. I personally find it very strange that three priests (none of whom will have been ordained Subdeacon if their ordinations were after 1974) have to be procured for a celebration of High Mass in the Old Roman Rite. I remember serving a Mass about two years ago (as ''Torchbearer'' - one of the prerogatives of Pontifical liturgy in my opinion) which had to be sung without Ministers because one of them didn't turn up. I was irked by that at the time and still feel irked by it to this day because it is redolent of a mentality fundamentally at odds with the Sacred Liturgy - the ''Low Mass mentality,'' as a friend of mine sometimes says. Why should the Sacred Liturgy suffer vast curtailments just because you can't procure a priest to ''do'' Subdeacon, that is, as Ex Fide says, step down temporarily for the duration of Mass? Since the Subdiaconate is a Minor Order instituted by the Church I think that even laymen can ''do'' Subdeacon for want of a tonsured cleric, in the same way that laymen and boys can ''do'' Acolyte and form the liturgical choir. If the Subdiaconate is a Major Order though (as it seems to have become in the West), why does the Bishop not lay hands upon the ordinand? The laying on of hands is an integral part of the ordination of the Major Orders but not the Minor ones. Also, if it is a Major Order, what authority would Paul VI have to abolish it?

Lumen Gentium says that ''the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by episcopal consecration.'' Again this sort of makes stale Paul VI's later restoration of the permanent Diaconate in 1967; flattens out, as it were, the restoration of a more holistic tradition in the Roman Church, for the implications of this assertion still cling to the indelible mark hermeneutic, and seem to imply that a priest is less ordained than his bishop, and a deacon less than a priest etc. I think that those ridiculous geriatrics who make the Second Vatican Council out to be something that it wasn't (the ''spirit of Vatican II'' crowd - diametrically opposed to the Trads, who think the Council little better than a latrocinium, or a synod of brigands hijacked by liberals - poor old Bugnini, the scapegoat of Tradworld!) make a very cogent point when they accuse the pre-Conciliar Church of clericalism. There is always a grain of truth in a heresy - the very fault of heresy is the perversion, or exaggeration, of the Truth. Were it not for the sidelining of the Diaconate as a permanent Order in the West (and in its place a more exalted kind of priesthood - with disastrous consequences for the Liturgy) the gap between priest and congregation, the distinction between the priesthood of all believers and the priesthood of the hierarchy, would not have appeared so great. God instituted three orders of Bishop, Priest and Deacon - not just Bishop and Priest, with the Deacon as a temporary, inferior, state. Deacons are very important - so important, in fact, that I think every parish should have one. Unfortunately this assertion of the Second Vatican Council merely perpetuates that mentality, with the Pope as a kind of super-bishop answerable to none but God alone (if even He).

Since this is a link to another blog I shall stop rambling on now. In the early Church, as in Egeria's day, the focal point of the Christian life was the solemn celebration of the Sacred Liturgy on the Lord's Day by the Bishop with the assistance of his Priests and Deacons and the whole Christian community - what on earth has it become? One hour a week in a parish church which provides defective liturgy is just not good enough (and how often do you see your diocesan Bishop???), and you may try to compensate for this by devotions in the family, and the ''domestic church'' reflects, in a certain sense, the Church community as a whole, but is this really what Christianity is about, I ask you?

* For instance, are priests ordained after 1964 (the year Paul VI made the maniple optional) allowed to wear the maniple? And are priests ordained after 1974 (the year Paul VI abolished the Subdiaconate and Minor Orders) allowed to ''do'' Subdeacon at Mass having not been ordained in the first place?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Old books...

The image I used in the previous post was chosen at random from Google Images, simply because it represented the Office of the Dead. It is very beautiful, and is clearly from an old Book of Hours, the history and nature of which I keep meaning to study in earnest (among other things). Looking closely at it (during the few hours of rest I have before I must return to work) there are some interesting details. In Medieval times funerals were done properly, unlike these latter days of fading and less lore and tradition. The body was brought into the church, covered in a pall (a gold/red one here, ornamented with the Rood token of the Lord), where the Vigiliae Mortuorum were sung by the clerks, in black copes. Around the coffin are six mourners, in raiment of mourning, and between each is a torch, as in the ''modern'', that is, Old Roman Rite custom. In the top left-hand that someone saying his ''private'' Mass?
Any comments, suggestions are welcome. For example, what are the clerks using to uphold the book? Why is the pall that colour? Why is there a priest saying a ''private'' Mass? Etc.

Vespers for the Dead...

I had forgotten that the ''Latin Mass'' Society are having their annual '62ist Pontifical liturgy for the Dead this week. Naturally I shall refute their liturgical heresy by not going...

St Magnus the Martyr, however, are doing something far more appropriate. On Wednesday 10th November, at 6:30pm, they are having Solemn Vespers for the Dead with the Funeral Sentences from the Book of Common Prayer, set by Thomas Tompkins. The setting for Vespers is plainsong, arranged by Francis Burgess with Fa-burden arrangements by Viadana. An opportunity, as a friend of mine put it, to sample some of the finest music, ever. Refreshments will follow of course.

Why would such an occasion, arranged by a Trad Catholic parish, nearly always be the Roman Eucharistic Liturgy? What's wrong with having just one Mass a day and then having some other part of the Sacred Liturgy for the benefit of those who could not attend the Mass at the liturgically appropriate time in the day?

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.