Saturday, 22 January 2011


''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.'' (The Lord of the Rings, Book IV).

As ever Tolkien provides food for thought. I was thinking about this quote all morning of yesterday, and in fact when I got in from work spent some considerable time staring at it. You see the Roman Church sickens me, in every conceivable way. For centuries the Roman Church has developed in externals into what, to somebody like the Venerable St Bede, would be unrecognisable. St Bede was no Ultramontane Traddie sucking up to the new translation of an impoverished Missal, and concerned with pro-this, anti-that causes! Neither did he make recourse in his prayer life to superfluous books of devotions or miraculous medals. St Bede held the City of Rome, and the Bishops thereof, in honour, but in a very sober and reasonable way; and his prayer life was purely liturgical, as St Cuthbert testifies in his epistle to Cuthwin the Deacon. There was no S.R.C in the 8th century, or a Pius XII (or even a Pius V) to impose liturgical abuse on every godly and orthodox Catholic in Europe - wilful obedience to the Tradition being tantamount to open schism, and rejecting the supreme authority of the Church. The Saxon Church followed the Roman Rite as best they could, not because it was imposed upon them by a centralized Papacy, but because the Saxons received the Faith from Roman missionaries bearing Roman liturgical books, and out of an ardent affection for the then orthodox Church of Rome. One wonders whether, were St Bede a father at Vatican I, he would have been shouted down for rejecting the spurious doctrine of Papal Infallibility?

In the last 10 years (probably) I have been disillusioned with the Roman Church; with banal liturgy, with spineless bishops who never come to celebrate Liturgy in the parish (and indeed one knew of only as a name mentioned in the Anaphora), with people I have little in common with liturgically etc. The reason I left my old parish was because a parishioner said to me: ''I don't believe the same as you then,'' because I had told her about the aliturgical practice of celebrating Mass facing the wrong way. In my old parish Sunday Mass was celebrated in old ICEL English, facing the people, at a wooden Altar, with vernacular hymns in place of traditional psalmody etc. In my most recent parish Sunday Mass is celebrated facing Eastward, in Latin, according to the Old Roman Rite (of a rather late vintage, with occasional neglect of the St Lawrence Press Ordo in favour of the Latin Mass Society one - I'll never understand why they can do Palm Sunday properly but not the feast of Sts Philip and James, or the Assumption), but with a host of shortcomings. This is not about triviality, and I reject the notion that some traditions (or customs, if you will) are less important than others; Traddies may like to scoff at my preference for the ''Anglican'' surplice (I was once actually called ''Protestant'' for ranting about it), or Medieval Liturgy, because they, traditionally of course, think that what comes after is always better than what went before; but such things are measurable in the entire holistic Tradition of the Church, and are just as important as using unbleached candles for Requiems, or being careful not to omit certain ceremonies or prayers on days when the Liturgy is longer than usual.

I am not averse to the ''brick-by-brick'' approach to the restoration of Tradition in the Church. I am willing to compromise (in the time being mind you) on liturgical subtleties which can be corrected in time. However on such things as evening Mass, or deciding not to follow the Ordo, I am not going to compromise. Similarly I am not going to compromise on the use of the modern cotta in place of the traditional Surplice. The reason I am frustrated about this especially is because they have no intention whatever of eventually replacing them, and so five-ten years down the line you're still going to have a Traditionalist parish with lace cottas and a Sung (not High - you can't always procure three priests can you!) evening Mass on Holydays (this is provided Rome doesn't decide to impose its unified ''rite''). For these reasons (and other personal ones, which I will not elaborate) I couldn't possibly remain Catholic and experience a fulfilling and uplifting liturgical life. I would say that this is almost a repeat of six years ago, except now I am the one to say: ''I do not believe the same as you then.''

There are issues of authority and liturgy in my rejection of Rome. The way I see it, if Rome tried to intervene in my own way of restoring Tradition I would simply say: ''Why don't you correct the last 100 years of gross tampering in the liturgical books before you tell me what to do?'' Why can't Rome just leave people alone to just get on with it? There are people who have suffered in the last 50 years because of what Rome has done to the Liturgy...
I said before that my long term plans are unclear, as yet, but that I am interested in Western Rite Orthodoxy (for those of you who are not aware, these are Orthodox Christians who follow a liturgically ''western'' Rite - such as the Old Roman Rite, or the Book of Common Prayer, or Sarum etc). However ancestral attempts at Western Liturgy on the part of the Orthodox have been rather ham-fisted. The trouble is that you just can't agree with most of them on how best to do Liturgy. In this case I seem to have more in common with Trad Catholics in communion with Rome. I wish to retain Latin - in fact I am adamant on this - but they don't. They often insert a Byzantine Epiklesis into the Canon - I wouldn't; in fact the Roman tradition is older by not having one. I hate the Roman Church, but I dread to leave it don't you know...


  1. "and I reject the notion that some traditions (or customs, if you will) are less important than others..."

    In that case, you will never be happy in any Church at all.

  2. Persevere! Courage! Remember what Lord Macaulay said about the Church- what fate would have met the Poverello in Slough? Therefore take the sackcloth, hold disputations with magpies on the perversity of lace cottas, gather some brethren, go to Rome, kiss the pontifical feet, and there you go! A new order is born, and, after a dramatic death at a young age, in some Roman slum, you'll be beatified within a shorter period than Charles Wojtyla.

  3. Paradoxically, your post encapsulates all the reasons for being wary of "WRO".

    What you need, Patrici, is metanoia - not an occasion for running into yourself all over again: same Patricius, different jurisdiction.

  4. Why not spend a week at N-D de Fontgombault? where you can assist at the Monastic offices and do some desherbage in the afternoons.

    ps: I find the Universal Prayer of Clement XI gives much food for meditation

  5. Bryan, Fontgombault do Signum Magnum for the Assumption - you couldn't pay me to go near the place.

  6. An Introit is a deal breaker? Honestly?!