Saturday, 30 April 2011

Beati et Sancti Dei?

It seems that John Paul II, the old pope of Rome, is to be beatified this weekend. Is this the same chap who kissed the Qu'ran? The same whose liturgical decorum was such that his Masses not only in St Peter's pagan basilica in Rome but also abroad (don't I remember them!) were full of postcommunion dancers, millions of communicants and other riff raff? Well he was an actor in his youth, and perhaps waving to screaming crowds of starry-eyed Papists was more important to this man than the traditional Liturgy - but did Liturgy ever really matter to the Popes? Maybe it did to the old Bishops of Rome in the deeps of time before the prestige of their office as primus inter pares (inter, not super) of the bishops went to their heads and they started inventing myths about Tu es Petrus and personal infallibility under the blanket of the so-called ''development of doctrine.'' How the Roman Church has fallen low! I can't wait until they canonize Old Pacelli - that, I think, will be the final nail in the coffin of the Roman church's once legitimate claim to safeguard the Tradition of the Church.

The above photo adequately demonstrates my point. Methinks it is a growing tendency in the Roman church to canonize bad popes in order to render their actions above reproach. I mean exactly why is this man being canonized? Is the Vatican giving into shouts of santo subito in St Peter's Square? Is it his (confessedly heroic) stance on doctrinal relativism? Or the liturgical impropriety so characteristic of his reign? Maybe he was just a nice man whom everyone liked. Who knows...

Friday, 29 April 2011

Well he does live in Brighton...

There's nothing more pathetic than the hubris of a rancid old Popish queen. I would say I was surprised and shocked but I wasn't really, given his past comments about the Queen of Spain. And no I do not have any qualms about criticizing the clergy - I speak my mind and I am certainly no sycophant. This man is completely aliturgical, Ultramontane (his contempt for his own bishop is notorious) and has no mastery of the Latin language - typical of a Roman Traditionalist and twice as conceited.

The Royal Wedding...

I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the newly-wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is very catholic and godly to greatly reverence the Royal Family; like the Tradition of the Church, they are a fundamental connexion to God, and a symbol of the national Christian tradition. You cannot be a good Catholic and support pure democracy in my very humble opinion; democracy is simply the exaltation of oligarchical despotism and authority which comes not from God and by no means mirrors the authority of God in Heaven. If the King is a despot, at least there's only one of him. Nevertheless it is a great day to be English (though not ''British''), and to be Irish. A plague upon enemies of the Crown!

Fabulous dress too...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Christos anesti...

I wish you all a very happy Easter! I am just back from assisting at a quiet Triduum in the back of beyond - all according to the rites of the Church as they were before 1956, and at the correct times. I went up with a friend on Wednesday evening and came back today after Mass of the Lord's Resurrection. We tried to do as much as we could as resources and only four people (including Celebrant) would allow. On Maundy Thursday we chanted None before Mass of the Lord's Supper (at 9:00am...yes that's right - in the morning!), essentially a ''low'' Mass with two servers (MC and thurifer), incense and the Proper prayers and Ordinary sung, either according to the plainsong melodies in the Gradual or monotoned where this was impractical. No Mandatum of course (for practical reasons, and even if we had thirteen poor men none of us would be so impertinent as to insert the Mandatum into the rite of the Mass, as only an aliturgical Modernist with no intelligence would). Afterwards we watched at the Altar of Repose and then went to break our fast with Thai food (whilst poor Traddies were still fasting I expect! Oh no wait, Pius XII did away with the Midnight Eucharistic fast to better accomodate the aberration that is evening Mass!) At 5:00pm we chanted Tenebrae of Good Friday, using the pre-Peasant psalmody and we did not, unlike so-called ''traditionalists,'' omit the Miserere. We did not have a hearse (or even candelabrae) and so it was my counsel that we use a table, veiled in violet, and use fourteen tea lights and a central candlestick. Not ideal but we only had enough unbleached candles for the High Altar and certainly not enough ordinary candles or candlesticks to go around. I'm sure the Almighty thought more of our effort at liturgical orthodoxy than anything aesthetically ''impressive'' provided by most churches and cathedrals though.

Yours truly vested in cassock, surplice and biretta about to chant Tenebrae of Good Friday. Some people accuse me of ''extremism'' for ranting about the surplice and evening Mass - the way I see it, I simply go to church expecting the real thing and, well, if nobody else gets it right you have to do it yourself.

Good Friday morning came (if I'm honest, I hate Good Friday) and we made our way to the church. Our Celebrant was late, due to public transport, and so we had not the time to chant None as we had planned and so just got on with the Mass of the Pre-Hallowed Gifts. My plan for the Passion according to St John was to be Chronista (although I must confess I only know the Mattins tone for the post-Peasant version - something to work on for next year) let the Celebrant do Christus and the others to provide the Synagoga/Turba parts but it was the desire of the Celebrant to simply read the Passion at the Epistle corner, as per the directions of the Memoriale Rituum - although the latter part, beginning at Post haec autem rogavit, was chanted according to the ancient tone, ironically restored (I think) by Pius X. Again, ''low'' ceremonial, with two servers, but sung for the most part (by us and the Celebrant), and with incense where it was required. Nobody communicated of course. I had thought of composing a long tract of maledictions or anathemas against '62ists and have the Celebrant interpolate these into the Litanical Prayers, but I had not the time - perhaps next year. Dry toast and water was my plan for Good Friday although we were constrained to march in procession with a host of other Protestants in some sort of ''act of witness,'' and feign interest in their religion afterwards over tea and hot cross buns, scraped over with some sort of ''spread.'' One of the lady ministers present (priest-women send shivers down my spine - they're like nuns in a way, only much worse), from a Protestant sect, looked like a man from afar, though I was wearing my old prescription sunglasses and only realised my mistake when she came to speak with us. I was told in advance to keep my mouth shut and was pretty successful I reckon, though apparently I was seen giving some priest-woman a sideways look. I would say that my contribution to the ecumenical movement was my having been present at all though. As a general rule I do not pray with Protestants (and I'm thinking of extending this rule to RC traditionalists).

At 3:00pm, as Traddieland began their nonsensical and untraditional ''solemn liturgical action,'' we returned to the church to pray the Stations of the Cross, according to the form of St Alphonsus. We sang a verse of the Stabat Mater (in Latin) between each station (my idea) and chanted Tenebrae of Holy Saturday afterwards (wonderfully, or woefully, short).

Holy Saturday morning came, warm and with omens of joy. Holy Saturday is the hardest of the three days, but the most interesting of the Triduum; one of only two ''penitential'' days left in the liturgical year where the Mass begins with a Litany, as many did of old. Pictured here is the Reed, adorned with flowers from the Altar of Repose. We were fortunate to be joined on this day by a man who was wont to go to Durham years ago for Dr Glover's Triduum, and so we had the beautiful Tracts of the twelve (not four, as in the appalling '62 rite) Prophecies sung according to the melodies of the Gradual rather than monotoned - I can read plainsong notation, but not very well. We had no font (again, resources...) and so we went straight into the Litany and the first Mass of Easter. It is unspeakably moving to hear the Great Alleluia for the first time in weeks; it reminds me in a strange way of Túrin's silence after the death of Beleg and how his tears were loosed after partaking of the waters of Eithel Ivrin, hallowed by Ulmo in ancient days. After Vespers we went to break our fast and drink lots of wine and gin (I had pink gin, the most civilised of all drinks in my humble opinion). We had planned on chanting Paschal Mattins and Lauds but we were too tired in the end - the Triduum is that much harder with scanty resources and a serious lack of people and so I think we can hardly be blamed. My friend and I recited it when we got in after lunch anyway.

Easter Sunday is upon us and below is the High Altar vested for the greatest of all feasts. The Celebrant intoned and I sang the Vidi Aquam before Mass - again ''low'' in ceremonial (well not really, we didn't really do much kneeling - at any rate kneeling is inappropriate during Paschaltide and on Sundays) but with incense and the proper prayers chanted from the Gradual. After Mass we sang the seasonal Marian anthem and joined the Protestants again for coffee, tea and cakes.

I am very tired now, though I can go to bed tonight safe in the knowledge that what our small church did was right and proper and the rest of the Roman Church (which we anathematize) was wrong - in the Novus Ordo, liturgical books of 1962 and even among the more ''sensible'' ones who tried to get it right by doing ''old'' Holy Week but at the incorrect times - thereby rendering their efforts void of all Grace and propriety. What we did was ''low'' (we can probably manage High Mass next year), due to circumstances, but we sang the lessons, prophecies, tracts, psalms etc and made use of incense - in a sense trying to make the Liturgy as much like it should be done as we possibly could within our means with two servers, a Celebrant and priest in choro. Now I am off to drink more gin and enjoy my Easter supper - I believe I have earned it.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


This is getting to be quite nauseating, but I guess I'll do my part as a Catholic in good standing with the Church. Most Holy Father, I congratulate you on the sixth anniversary of your election as Supreme Pontiff - I remember the day well. Please keep your Summorum Pontificums and Anglicanorum Coetibuses coming, they just increase my conviction that your church is riddled with falsehood and that you yourself are perhaps worse than a kindly old heretic. I mean please, you can't even get the colour of your vestments right on Palm Sunday! Are we to take seriously anything else you say or do?

The Maundy...

If Our Lord washed the feet of His Disciples after they had supped, why, in the Pius XII rite of Maundy Thursday, is the Mandatum generally done after the Gospel at the novel evening Mass? This is leaving aside the question of rubrics per se, but I think that this involves very serious traditional and scriptural implications - almost a complete inversion of the received praxis, and therefore doubly inappropriate. I would say that it is better to omit the ceremony entirely (so meaningful and integral to the mystery of the Triduum) rather than pay homage to the innovation - indeed, if you're going to fly in the face of Tradition in this way, why not blaspheme the Lord by exchanging the Pax, which Judas defiled on this day?

Of course nobody listens to the ramblings of an ''extremist.'' Although I guess that what many might misname ''extremism'' I would say is simply going to church expecting the real thing...

Sunday, 10 April 2011

''The West has failed... is time for all to depart who would not be thralls.'' Kudos to whomever can guess who said that. I've lost all interest in this blog, as you may have noticed from the last few weeks of inadequate posts (the last being the absolute worst). I pray that you all (well some of you, if I'm honest) have a holy and decorous Passiontide and Holy Week. I'll be busy being liturgically orthodox against the apostate Roman Church again so if there are any '62ists out there pretending that they're being traditional, or worse those Traddies who cannot extricate themselves from evening Mass and likewise put on airs, fare you ill. During Paschaltide we shall see what we shall see.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Lady Day thoughts...

For those of you who, traditionally, celebrate New Year on Lady Day (as I have done secretly since I first read The Lord of the Rings) I wish you all the temporal and spiritual blessings in the Lord and of St Mary on the feast of the Annunciation. O Mary most beautiful of whom was born Christ the Saviour, what praise could one say more?

J.R.R Tolkien said somewhere (I have looked everywhere in vain but can't for the life of me remember where - I had thought to find the reference in his lecture On Translating Beowulf but alack...) that the Saxons believed the 25th March to be the actual date of Our Lord's Crucifixion. Accordingly the 25th March was the date of the destruction of the Ring and the beginning of the New Year in Gondor. As Gandalf said: ''But in Gondor the New Year will always now begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when you were brought out of the fire to the King.'' The Lord of the Rings is, you see, a fundamentally religious and Catholic (though not Romish) work. Were it a Romish work I'm sure the New Year would begin on the 1st January.

Reading Tolkien is very moving for me, and the familiarity I now have with his work has not made this grow stale over the years - the first time I read him I felt as though the very hand of God had entered into me and stirred my soul, and I realized certain new facets of joy, pain and devotion which I have found nowhere else, even in Classical literature. People sometimes scoff at fantasy literature because they think it is escapist, or it isn't real. You couldn't be more wrong. C.S Lewis once said that myths were lies, albeit breathed through silver. Tolkien gainsaid the man with an emphatic no they are not! and then explained that myths arose from our sub-creative faculties (derived from the Creator) which, although they contain errors, ultimately tributary to the glory of God because they are a means of expressing certain Truths of faith which would otherwise go unexpressed. Tolkien, unlike Lewis, was averse to allegory and thought it an abuse to smuggle theology into his literature, and he is the better author for it in my opinion. Narnia and all that contains theological barbs directed at the Catholic Church, whereas The Lord of the Rings, having no explicit religion (rather religion in Tolkien is akin to a kind of monotheistic world of ''natural theology'', as it were) contains such quotes as: ''Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men,'' and: ''Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death and only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.''

I had a point when I began the composition of this post...oh yes! I am moved with unaccustomed joy by good Liturgy in almost the same way that I am so moved by Tolkien. You see Liturgy is an art form, the supreme art form, since Christ is the artist. The most moved I ever was by Liturgy (or even, conceivably, in the course of my life) was on Palm Sunday two years ago, when I witnessed it for the first time in the Old Roman Rite (of a rather late vintage); it was during the chanting of the Passion, which is the proper context of the Word (clothed about with Tradition - it is a Protestant error that all men are priests akin to the priests of the Church with a direct link to God through their own finite judgement of the Word) that I choked (specifically at the words tunc exspuerunt in faciem eius, et colaphis eum ceciderunt, alii autem palmas in faciem eius dederunt) and perceived then more clearly than ever I had done hitherto the fundamental truths of faith - and something more than that. I would say that before was mere intellectual assent to the teachings of the Church. Afterwards was something else. I was receptive to a kind of power of Liturgy, as something humanly done under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, to move you out into regions of blessedness where one emotion is indistinguishable from another. I expect this is why we cry sometimes when we are happy - at least I have done. If anyone from my old parish is reading this - Palm Sunday is the best thing you have ever done.

There are moral aspects to fidelity to Tradition which go unsaid too often. I despise the wholesale mutilation of Liturgy for ''pastoral expediency'' - garbling certain ceremonies or omitting whole prayers or tampering with the Kalendar because people might think Liturgy is too long, or dull, or they won't understand it. Such a disposition is misguided and aliturgical. I expect this is why I am angered so much by the attempts made at Liturgy by Traddies, Anglo-Catholics and their ilk - they aren't me. This is not to say that I know everything but I do conceive of myself as one of probably a handful of people in this world who is truly liturgical. Would that I were in a position to say: Do as I say (because I know more than you) and nobody gets hurt!

Anyway, Happy Lady Day (what's left of it)! I have been ill in bed all week and my only treat today was this month's Vogue and a glass of Pink Lemonade to accompany.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Percy Dearmer...

I suppose it could be argued that the Anglican equivalent of Adrian Fortescue was Percy Dearmer. I greatly admire him. Dearmer understood the truism (like Dr Wickham Legg and, by all accounts, Fortescue himself) that just because something is Roman does not necessarily make it anymore ''catholic'' or ancient than just plain innovation. Dearmer's thought was shaped by the ''ritualist'' branch of the Tractarian Movement; those High Churchmen who sensibly looked to the Medieval English liturgical patrimony rather than the contemporary customs of the Roman Church as a guide to ''quicken'' (as it were) the Book of Common Prayer with Sarum ceremonial. It was an endeavour to identify the Church of England more meaningfully with the broader Catholic Church, and they wisely understood that in this sense catholicity was not (is not) mediated by an old bachelor who lives on the banks of the Tiber; still less by obeying his legislation (contrary to catholic Tradition, and even common sense) which runs not in England anyway. The Parson's Handbook (the ''Fortescue'' of the Church of England) was Dearmer's great contribution. In my view it reads much better than Fortescue (at least after the mutilations of O'Connell). Here are some favourite passages:

''It need perhaps hardly be said at the present time that the use of lace is not an English custom. It simply destroys all beauty of drapery in any garment upon which it is placed. Every artist will realize how much this means. Indeed, to the credit of our fellow Christians on the Continent it must be said that they are rapidly discarding the use of lace [would that they were!], and with it that most inadequate garment the cotta, which is fortunately not one of the vestments ordered by our Rubric. The ancient monastic orders have always retained, and still use, the full surplice.'' (The Parson's Handbook, chapter III).

''A cross was sometimes set on the Holy Table before the Reformation; but it was by no means the rule, though nowadays many seem to consider it a necessity...The idea that an altar is incomplete (or 'Protestant') without a cross needs to be strenuously combated...The proper place for a representation of the crucified Redeemer is the Rood-screen.'' (Ibid, chapter II).

''The use of a row of six candlesticks on the altar, or on a shelf or gradine behind it, is pure Romanism...From the beginning of the thirteenth century to the end of the nineteenth every declaration on the subject has mentioned the two lights on the altar only, and to this ancient and universal use of two lights, at the most, every known representation bears witness...Furthermore, a row of candles hides the reredos or upper frontal, which ought to be one of the richest and most lovely things in the church: the miserable way in which priceless masterpieces are hidden in the churches of Italy by tall candlesticks and tawdy sham flowers is painfully familiar to every traveller.'' (Ibid).

''It is a great mistake to suppose that a hard and fast distinction should be drawn between a celebration of the Eucharist with three ministers and a celebration with one. A Mass, in which the priest is assisted by a deacon and subdeacon, is the norm of the Eucharistic service. Celebrations without these assistant ministers are makeshifts allowed by the Church as a concession to circumstances. Some people imagine that the deacon and subdeacon are a sort of enrichment suitable for a 'ritualistic' church, and that they ought only to be present when an elaborate ceremonial can be carried out. There could hardly be a greater error. The sharp distinction now made by our Roman brethren between high and low Mass is a modern innovation contrary to the general practice of the whole Church, and therefore should be particularly eschewed by those who appeal most strongly to Catholic practice. This innovation has produced the peculiar service known in the Roman Church as a Missa Cantata, which is a low Mass sung by a single priest who is assisted only by a pair or two pairs of servers, and which is often in practice replaced by a low Mass pure and simple, the service being said inaudibly throughout, while two or three singers cover the silence with more or less appropriate hymns and anthems. It would surely be difficult to imagine a greater degradation of the central Christian service.'' (Ibid, chapter IX).

Dearmer goes on to say that the Catholic principle is that of reverence and common sense; that if there are but two in Holy Orders then the clerk (not necessarily in Reader's orders) would be the Subdeacon, as well as taking on his own duties - since this is the catholic principle. Not that these quotes are aimed at anyone, but methinks that RC traditionalists are sacerdotalist idiots with no liturgical sense whatsoever...