Monday, 18 July 2011

Learning one's Pater Noster...

I went to a Roman church for Mass yesterday, rather outside the range of my experience (and sympathy) in many respects. The music was good (Byrd and Plainsong). I won't condescend to comment on anything else, though I was struck by the Rector's curious sermon, the general thrust of which seemed to be forgiveness as a necessary ordinance of the Gospel, though tinged with stuff reminiscent of Michael Davies and Traditionalist rhetoric for the TLM. Curiously he misquoted the Pater Noster, saying ''forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those,'' etc. It doesn't do to use this modern version of the Lord's Prayer. If one is accustomed to recite the Pater Noster in English (as I am occasionally, though not often), then one ought to recite it correctly, even so:

Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done, in earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


...why do they despise the Church of England so much? Are they like me? Was their experience of the Church of England not to their liking, as mine was of the Roman Church? I can't personally see that going from Modernist in the Anglican Communion to Modernist in the Roman Church is necessarily an improvement. The most competent practitioners of Liturgy of my acquaintance are certainly not Romans! Romans may condemn Anglican Orders are null and utterly void but Roman Orders are equally invalid. Rome severed communion with the Catholic Church centuries ago. What incenses me is when this condemnation comes from pathetic Ultramontane types with no sense of tradition. Have you considered that some Anglo-Catholics don't want communion with Rome for very sound reasons? Rome is bent on absolute power and authority. Are there not bureaucrats even now in the Vatican bending the whole mind and purpose of the Scarlet Whore upon stretching the Ultramontane cancer to the uttermost corners of the earth? Rome will not be content until the world is under her thumb; not until all confessing Christians use their new translation (which clearly rivals the Coverdale Psalter), the Benedictine altar arrangement and the impoverished '62/'02 kalendar and Mass rubrics will Rome be content. And then her priests and suck-ups (aren't they in every parish? You know the sort, a woman who turns up 30 minutes before Mass to have a word with father...) will sap all sense of Tradition and orthopraxis from everyone and they'll all be mindless robots parroting devotional prayers at side altars, fulfilling their Sunday obligations by attending a New ICEL ''mass'' with hymns sung to Taize chants and having fasted for one hour before Communion. The Roman church is finished. Divine mercy chaplets and the New ICEL are the ultimate legacies of centuries of bad theology and Papal tampering with the Liturgy.

Or you can just sever communion with Rome, shake off the influence of any despot authority (misnamed ''apostolic''), and quietly get on with Tradition, pick up where Rome left off and be content. I have chosen even so. There's no use looking to Rome when Rome is full of idiots; Cardinals wearing scarlet during Lent, Deacons wearing dalmatics at Papal liturgies during penitential times, and advocates of sticking a row of candles on the Altar to re-orient liturgical worship to some faux-compass direction (which I am sure is in breach of the 2002 GIRM anyway). Some may argue that such things are not important in the great scheme of things. Maybe the colour of one's dalmatic is not that important when one is face-to-face with the Just Judge. But such things do mean that Rome has forgotten her own tradition, and is now making a ham-fisted effort to try and make it up again. How does a row of six candlesticks make an iota of difference to a clear liturgical abuse? The new translation is equally repugnant. You're either traditional, or you are not. You either face the right way in liturgical worship, or you face the wrong way. You're either in communion with the Catholic Tradition as it was handed down for centuries, or you're in schism with that Tradition. It's that simple.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Spiritual directors...

A clerical friend expressed serious concern on my Facebook today when I told him that I had no ''spiritual director.'' He asked why this was and I explained that my last spiritual director was pastorally out of his depth with me and recently seems to have just given up. I am not, technically, in communion with my parish priest and have reservations about going to him for counsel in ethical matters, having heard him preach heresy from the pulpit recently, and I would certainly take ill being coerced into joining either this church or that presently. I am wont to turn to my mother, wise with the wisdom of experience and ethical, for counsel about life and morality, but she is often disagreeable and while her advice is certainly proceeding from the conscience, it is not always in keeping with my own sense of religion. I wouldn't want a spiritual director who agrees with me about everything - I am sound in mind enough to perceive that that would be disastrous! - but they should be at least doctrinally orthodox, morally upright and pastoral (and certainly neither Roman nor Protestant). For some obscure reason I am reminded of Tom Bombadil tramping through the Old Forest, down the Withywindle Valley, having heard the cries of the Hobbits. I certainly need a sojourn in the house of Tom Bombadil; to escape and forget for a while the dreadful doom of Life...

I'm still alive...

...though not thinking much about Liturgy at present. I am under pressure at work (not that I'd care to elaborate that here), though have applied for a new position in Administration, which should be fun (yeah!). I am actually reading two things at present; The Lay of Leithian, that great legend by J.R.R Tolkien written in the octo-syllabic couplets of romantic verse; and perhaps more applicable here, The Heresy of Formlessness by Martin Mosebach. I first read the latter six years ago when I was supposed to be revising for my A Level exams. I remember agreeing with everything he said at the time, much of which was insightful and original to me, though I am beginning to wonder. I remember feeling very moved and warm inside when I read his description of an annual low Mass at Monte Tiberio, and the obvious care and devotion demonstrated by the sisters when washing the Altar linen. We all move on though, and I certainly know more about Liturgy and Tradition now than I did when I was an ignorant 17 year old, the year I returned The Shape of the Liturgy by Gregory Dix to St Paul's at Westminster because I discovered, upon reading the Preface, that he was an Anglican. What on earth would an Anglican know about Liturgy? Are they not damnable heretics with no sense of tradition? Unlike we Romans with our marvellous popes, the Rite of 1962 and the Benedictine Altar arrangement, they have the Coverdale Psalter and wear the protestant surplice!

I did buy Dix again, though I have only read bits of it. Was he not held in suspicion by the hierarchy of the Church of England? Reminds me of the plight of Fr Hunwicke, for whom I have been praying unceasingly these past few weeks.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Absolute Monarchs...

John over at Ad Orientem has alerted me to a new book about the Papacy. Absolute Monarchs it's called, written by an ''agnostic Protestant'' called John Julius Norwich. It is available in paperback at Amazon though it seems they don't have any in stock at the moment. I have added it to my Wish List.

I am not necessarily recommending the book (how could I possibly do so, since I have never read it?), but the title seems very apposite. I don't suppose any Traditionalists will be reading the book though. Two quotes spring to mind:

''Dark now fell the shadow on Beleriand, as is told hereafter; but in Angband Morgoth forged for himself a great crown of iron, and he called himself King of the World.'' (J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter IX).

''Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art the father of princes and kings, the ruler of the world, the vicar on earth of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, to Whom is honour and glory for ever and ever.'' (From the rite of Papal coronations).

Friday, 8 July 2011


Some of the rarest books in Christendom on my bookcase. The one to the far left is a first edition (1917) of Adrian Fortescue's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, with its delicious Foreword (like Tolkien I refuse to use words like ''preface'' where an English word will suffice). I was after this book for literally years until one day I stumbled upon it on Abebooks and jumped at it. It is likely to be the most precious book in my possession. I have several first editions of Tolkien, but they're mostly from the 1970s and 1980s; all posthumous publications. I would, of course, like a first edition The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55), but I'm afraid I'd have to win the lottery to afford those. Even a second edition of The Hobbit (1951) is expensive, and scarce to be found. First editions are interesting from a research perspective since Tolkien edited The Hobbit early in 1950 to bring some of the story into line with The Lord of the Rings, particularly the chapter Riddles in the Dark.

I was thinking the other day about the compilation of Missals and Breviaries from the older liturgical books in relation to the published Silmarillion (1977). Whether or not you think it is advantageous for a travelling priest to fulfil his obligation to recite the Divine Office by carrying about a plethora of liturgical books in a rucksack, or just a small compendium of them all for his convenience, is irrelevant. Before Missals and Breviaries the Sacred Liturgy required a number of books to be decorously ordered, sung and celebrated. Let's see, the bishop with his Sacramentarium (containing the Collects, the Canon Romanus, but also other things now contained in the Pontificale etc), the Legenda (''the things to be read'' - containing the Lessons for Mattins, commentaries on the Scriptures, the Lives of the Saints, the writings of the Fathers, etc), the Psalterium, the Troperium (which had the Sequences of the Mass, or tropi), the Antiphonarium, Hymnarium, the Deacon with his Evangelistarium, the Lectionarium, the Ordinale (equivalent, let's say, to the Ordo Recitandi - which in my view is a semi-liturgical book); in the 17th century was devised the Octavarium for the co-ordination of overlapping Octaves and afterfeasts (again, akin to the Ordo Recitandi), etc, etc. When, however, during the Middle Ages low celebrations of daily Mass began to multiply, deacons, cantors, choirs and other servers required for the full celebration of Liturgy could not be procured so easily. Where before it was necessary for the priest to have only those parts of the Liturgy pertaining to him in the Sacramentary, now he was required to fulfil those parts pertaining to other people (such as the deacon), and so gradually the Roman Missal was formed; the Breviary underwent a similar evolution.

There used to be a principle in the West (still kept by the East) that the liturgical books had not the type of liturgy (Mass, Office, or celebration of the Sacraments) in mind in their ''publication'' but the person who used them. And so the Sacramentarium, which is ordinarily the book pertaining to the bishop (priests only celebrate Mass in place of the bishop; they are delegated by him to do so; not because of some special personal alter Christus charism, which can only be a residue of the ''low Mass mentality''), contained not only the prayers of the celebrant at Mass, but also Pontifical blessings, the rite of Baptism and Exorcism, Ordination - texts which these days are to be found in the Pontificale and the Rituale. The same applied to the other books. I expect that when the Deacon had a role beyond singing the Gospel at Mass in the West that he too had a book akin to the Sacramentarium.

I have said this before, as did Fortescue a hundred years before me, but it is because of low Mass that we have Missals. The Roman church drew such a sharp distinction between low and high celebrations of Mass at the Council of Trent in the codification of precise rubrics for the ordering of such a celebration, where before local custom and the discretion of the celebrant and place prevailed. No such distinction between two forms of the same Sacrifice exists. Low Mass is to look as much like high Mass as possible. Before Trent a low Mass could be anything between what might be recognisably a ''Low Mass'' in its pre-1962 form and a sung Mass without deacon or subdeacon, but with one or two servers; one for the incense, the other for the chant. The principle was, as Fortescue says, to make the low Mass as much like unto a high Mass as could possibly be done within the means of the church. Since Trent (or more accurately since the 17th century) low Mass (or Low Mass as it now is) has been a minimalistic, said service, where Christ's Faithful are expected to watch a lonely priest as he garbles prayers which aforetime would have been chanted solemnly.

I'm not sure if it's the Roman zeal for logic (itself a rub-off from the Latin language, but that itself would be thesis material for which I am not cut out), looking for more accommodating or easy ways to get on with Divine Service, but the whole mentality seems anti-Traditional; almost slovenly. The compilation of Missals and Breviaries from the older liturgical books went hand-in-hand with the curtailment of the older liturgical principles. Anciently the bishop delegated his priests to celebrate Mass in his absence. Now the priest is the indispensable man who can procure the Sacraments with minimal effort by reciting formulae, saying magic words, and holding up a white disc. Anciently the Sacred Liturgy was celebrated most solemnly with real liturgical books which came from apostolic times. Look nowadays to a Mass Supplement in a Latin Mass Society magazine and you'll see ''Low Mass'' everywhere. But what do you get if you make everything compendious? What do you get if you render Liturgy so ''at the service of men'' rather than vice versa? The codification of Canon Law by the Roman church in 1917 springs to mind here, and the publication of The Silmarillion by Christopher Tolkien in 1977. The codification of Canon Law had at least intelligible motives - heretofore the interpretation of the Sacred Canons via the old authorities was a lengthy process, which could lead to irrelevance or injustice (and great expense). So a ''code'' of Canon Law is easier for everyone. But cost of ease comes at the expense of Tradition, the traditional understanding of law and custom. I can't speak for the liturgical history vis The Silmarillion but the editing process was lengthy and the end result was mediocre - canonical, being entirely consonant with The Lord of the Rings, but loosing a kind of mythological aura, which can only be found in scattered manuscripts carrying the auctoritas of age and the very fact of being different. Who cares if in one legend Fingolfin is spelt Fingolphin, or in another Morgoth goes first to the Ring of Doom and is then overtaken by Ungoliant on his way to Formenos and in another the account is different? These are primarily legends recorded by the Men of Númenor as told to them by the Eldar, and preserved in Gondor through many lives of men. Is it any wonder that there are different accounts?

The existence of The Silmarillion, the Roman Missal (in whatever edition) and the Code of Canon Law (even more so with the 1983 Code, which contains probably half of the 1917 Code) is testament to a fundamentally Western vice. ''I'm not doing my job properly and so I'm going to improve things by making it easier for me.''

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Good and Bad parish, and Ecumenism...

On we go with that series on Good versus Bad parish.

My mother and I went to lunch at Chislehurst this afternoon. We had planned on going to Sevenoaks, but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, we parked outside the local Anglican church, a very fine church I daresay. I made a point of taking this photo on my iPhone:

Now just around the corner of this church is another church; a church of the Italian Mission. Far be it from me to single people out but this is supposed to be another one of those so-called ''traditionalist'' parishes. No sung office there, of course, just Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass, Mass and more and more Mass, ad nauseum. This is what genuinely sickens me about the Roman church (leaving doctrinal questions aside for a moment): the complete and utter liturgical void. Romans are arguably the most aliturgical people in the history of civilization. Most big events organised by the Latin Mass Society, for example, will have a high Mass, and possibly some other devotions (such as Benediction, a rosary procession or something), and these people will be pleased with it! They'll go on about how spiritually uplifting it was. Their pilgrimages must be diabolical! Are you telling me that in a parish church with a choir you can't procure any sung Office at all on Sunday? If the Anglicans less than half a mile down the road can manage it, why can't you? It's the Lord's Day for Heaven's sake, at least make some effort! If you can't see the problem with a liturgical diet of just Mass all the time then you're an idiot.

On the way home I was thinking about ecumenism, the SSPX and the fact that Rorate Caeli never published my most recent comment. You see the average traditionalist (unlike we schismatics who can think for ourselves) is stuck in a relentless vicious cycle, constantly ruminating over contradictions because they can't face the fact that their church is riddled with falsehood. Traddies love the SSPX though, and seem to think that the reunion of those lunatics would quicken their cause with august and orthodox Liturgy and the Ultramontane doctrine that goes hand-in-hand with an endless series of low Masses. They despise Anglicans though, and many are so ignorant of Liturgy and history that they condemn the Prayerbook of the Church of England as some kind of compendium of all liturgical heresies whereas see nothing wrong with the liturgical books of 1962 or a fragmented Psalter! Wouldn't the Roman church benefit more from sung Mattins and choral Evensong than yet more low Masses though? The SSPX perpetuate the errors of the pre-Conciliar church and are simply schismatic Ultramontane types, just as unimaginative and stupid as the average pious lady counting her beads in the pew (no offence to the Old Irish Peasant Lady!) - in fact a lot of their clergy are so clearly homosexual that they might as well stop celebrating Mass altogether, don a mantilla and a black frock and join those pious ladies in the pew. But the point is - the most competent liturgical practitioners in the Church of England, in my experience, have little or no interest at all in reunion with Rome. I am not going to presume to tell the reasons for that. Look, however, to the Ordinariate. Most who swam the Tiber in the wrong direction have as little interest in traditional Liturgy as the average Modernist. Then of course there is that hideous cancer, eating away at the foundations of that once illustrious Roman Church - the liturgical books of 1962...hmmmm, methinks that the Roman church has simply had it, and it is time for those to depart who would breathe an air of Tradition undiluted by Ultramontanism.

Here endeth the Lesson.

Monday, 4 July 2011


...son of Eöl of the dark woods. He became enmeshed in the Doom of Mandos and died badly. I am reading The Silmarillion again (the publication of which was a mistake in my view), and have been going over this chapter in my mind. See what you think:

''Thus all seemed well with the fortunes of Maeglin, who had risen to be mighty among the princes of the Noldor, and greatest save one in the most renowned of their realms. Yet he did not reveal his heart; and though not all things went as he would he endured it in silence, hiding his mind so that few could read it, unless it were Idril Celebrindal. For from his first days in Gondolin he had borne a grief, ever worsening, that robbed him of all joy: he loved the beauty of Idril and desired her, without hope. The Eldar wedded not with kin so near, nor ever before had any desired to do so. And knowing his thought of her she loved him the less. For it seemed to her a thing strange and crooked in him, as indeed the Eldar ever since have deemed it: an evil fruit of the Kinslaying, whereby the shadow of the curse of Mandos fell upon the last hope of the Noldor. But as the years passed still Maeglin watched Idril, and waited, and his love turned to darkness in his heart. And he sought the more to have his will in other matters, shirking no toil or burden, if he might thereby have power.

''Thus it was in Gondolin; and amid all the bliss of that realm, while its glory lasted, a dark seed of evil was sown.'' (J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter XVI, Of Maeglin).

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Drop down the dew...

There is an interesting post on that awful blog Rorate Caeli about the kind of artificial Liturgy of the new Ordinariate (which I think will be to nobody's taste or satisfaction). As I have said previously, I fail to understand how either the Novus Ordo of Paul VI or the new liturgy devised by the Congregation for Divine Worship encapsulates the Anglican patrimony in any meaningful sense, but I am just one lonely heretic who doesn't believe in Papal Infallibility, so what do I know? What I found specially arrogant about this particular post was that they conjectured that had Cranmer not gone into ''heresy'', the new Rome-devised liturgy would be exactly what he would have accomplished! And another thing, I find it extremely annoying that the people who comment on that blog (mostly a long series of Anonymouses) display utter ignorance - one of whom said that so long as the new liturgy contains nothing ''protestant,'' then it will be just fine. Hmmmm, I am guessing that this is someone who sees nothing wrong with the liturgical books of 1962 (or is too stupid to tell the difference), but there we are. Can someone kindly explain to me how anything Cranmer did was any more violent than anything that any pope of Rome did in the long tale of Papal liturgical reform? The Prayerbook of the Church of England is ''watered-down'', and has no valid Anaphora, but it draws much from the Sarum tradition - I mean at least it contains whole psalms! Unlike the fragmented mess of any post-1911 Breviary. I would sooner attend choral Evensong at Westminster Abbey than Vespers at Westminster Cathedral - it is more traditional.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Sacred hearts, sacred toenails etc...

Sacred this, the most holy that...what next? The most holy Roast beef?

Today, if you're Roman Catholic, is the feast of the ''sacred heart'' of Jesus. I never liked this feast, or the devotion. Even as a child, on trips to my grandparents' house, I always shied away from their majestic portrait of the Sacred Heart over the mantelpiece - I was intimidated by it. I don't know if it was the eyes, staring widely up to the Father, or the fact that it was awfully tacky, but I hated it. I much preferred their large Spanish crucifix (salvaged from a church in Spain in the early '70s - my grandfather said that the priest was about to throw it into a skip...), which to scare away Jehovah's Witnesses, they hung up in their hallway - in full view of the porch doors. I spent hours staring at it.

Anyway, I think there is something very queer about devotion to the Sacred Heart - it detracts somewhat from the one worship of Christ's one Person. It is clearly a ''pious devotion'' that has got rather out of hand. Devotion to the Sacred Heart, like Corpus Christi, is relatively modern. The Catholic Encyclopedia says that it was familiar by about the 12th century and, like Low Mass, it spread rapidly throughout Christendom. It wasn't until the 17th century that the devotion, which quite rightly had hitherto remained strictly private, was celebrated as an actual ''feast'' with its own Office. To her credit, 18th century Rome refused to grant indulgence for a universal institution of the ''feast'' (to celebrate what exactly?!), but under pressure from the French bishops she eventually caved in, and in 1856 Pope Pius IX made it a Greater Double, and in 1889 Leo XIII made it a Double of the First Class. I think the devotion is tacky, tasteless and pernicious. It is noteworthy that the ugliest church in France is dedicated to the Sacred Heart...

Hideous beyond belief...what period is it? Late Wedding Cake?

As I have said, devotion to the ''Sacred Heart'' detracts from the one and inseparable worship due to God the Son, according to both the Divinity and Humanity, since both are inseparably united in the one Hypostasis of the Word. Canon IX of Constantinople II (an Ecumenical Council, and therefore binding on all Christians) says: If anyone shall take the expression, Christ ought to be worshipped in his two natures, in the sense that he wishes to introduce thus two adorations, the one in special relation to God the Word and the other as pertaining to the man; or if anyone to get rid of the flesh, [that is of the humanity of Christ,] or to mix together the divinity and the humanity, shall speak monstrously of one only nature or essence of the united (natures), and so worship Christ, and does not venerate, by one adoration, God the Word made man, together with his flesh, as the Holy Church has taught from the beginning: let him be anathema.

In the light of this canon of Constantinople II, does not the cult of the ''Sacred Heart'' seem out of harmony with the Tradition of the Church? Clearly the devotion was a Medieval ''enthusiasm'' - like the strange practice of going to Mass purely to see the Elevation of the Sacred Host (held aloft sometimes for minutes on end - I'm gonna lift it, lift it higher!), or the notorious practice of throwing about pieces of unconsecrated bread on the feast of Corpus Christi. To me, devotion to the Sacred Heart is just as worthwhile as devotion to the most holy bowel-movements of Christ. Liturgy should direct pious devotions, not the other way round. The foundation of the Church's life, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, ought to be celebration of the Sacred Liturgy by the Bishop with the assistance of his Priests and Deacons, not ill-informed popular pieties, which are heretical.

I speak with the authority of the Church (I won't elaborate that) when I say that devotion to the ''sacred heart'' is heretical, pernicious and aliturgical. It should have been condemned, or at least left to die out like devotion to the Holy Face...

Much better. This Icon is full of symbolism; the perfectly round head, cruciform halo etc. Notice also that the hand with which Our Lord is imparting blessing is making use of the traditional Sign of the Cross.