Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Brian Sewell on dogs...

I always admired Brian Sewell. I found his Channel 4 series' The Naked Pilgrim and The Grand Tour very informative and amusing and I tend to appreciate people who call a spade a spade more than those who make a god out of diplomacy. Sewell has no time for the likes of Damien Hirst and other conceptual "artists" as his idol is the great Michelangelo, the greatest of all artists. Years ago I bought his book about his experiences in Turkey in the mid-1970s, "an escape from the tyranny of Western art," he called it. It called to mind the great Councils of the Early Church and a longing to visit the ruins of the birthplace of Christianity though it has become an abode of dragons. Of course, like everything else in my life, it hasn't yet materialised.

Sewell's appreciation for art and classic motors is shared equally by a passion for dogs. He is 82 years old and has never been without one. When Lucy died in November I tried half-heartedly to sum up my feelings for her in a badly-written post but I think that Sewell has done a better job in The Express newspaper. You can read his article here if you like.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

The season to be...what, exactly?

This was going to be another cynical rant about how Christmass has gone down the drain and in its place has been erected the monstrous pillar of corporate greed and ignorance...but never mind; we've all heard that story. At work yestermorn a woman complained not only that the close of business was five o'clock but that we are going to be closed on St Stephen's Day as well. "Well, everywhere else is open," said she. I wanted to hit her, the stupid bint! On that note, Quentin Crisp once said that love is the extra effort we make with the people we do not like. I wonder, does our charity extend to the greedy and ignorant as much as to our friends and family? It's a tough one.

Anyway, I feel rather serene now that I have had my lunch, watched Her Majesty's Address and had copious amounts of champagne. I could even face church. I did try to watch the festival of Nine Lessons from King's but switched off when they brought on a woman to read. Nobody ever gets it right these days, and as for carol services in place of liturgy...don't get me started! It's like eating strawberries in the winter; round hole, square peg.

I think I shall go and read The Hobbit now. My mind is hungry for adventure, and for some of Beorn's honey strangely enough.

Wishing you all a very Happy (new kalendar) Christmass!

Sunday, 22 December 2013


Nigella Lawson is a paragon of indulgence and generosity. She makes cooking alluring in so many ways; very unlike Delia Smith, who just seems so cheap and mean. Watching Nigella's cooking programmes is always informative and it is, confessedly, very easy for me to become mesmerised by her smooth voice and voluptuous bosom. She is an Icon.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Great Antiphons...

In the Roman Rite the seven days leading up to Christmass Eve are greater ferias. The Office becomes more solemn, the antiphons at Lauds and the Hours are proper, and the Magnificat antiphon at Vespers takes on a fervent character, calling upon Christ with the many titles used of him in Scripture in a great and eager expectation of his coming. These are the beautiful O Antiphons, so-called because of their consistent use of that interjection. In the illustrious Use of Sarum there were eight of these O Antiphons, with the crowning antiphon used at Vespers on 23rd December being O Virgo Virginum, addressed to St Mary, the Mother of God. The significance of these antiphons is treblefold. Liturgically they are linked with the antiphons used at Vespers on Christmass, such as Levate capita vestra, which calls upon the people to lift up their heads as their redemption is at hand. O Virgo Virginum corresponds directly to the antiphon of the third Psalm at Christmass Vespers, Completi sunt dies Mariae, which cements one of the many exegetical connexions between Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfilled in the person of Our Lady. The antiphons are sung at a time of evening, the very time that Christ was born in Bethlehem. The seventh antiphon, O Emmanuel, smooths over a significant personal connexion that I established between the Saxon poet Cynewulf and Bilbo's song in the House of Elrond about Eärendil the Mariner. The antiphon reads:

O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer noster, expectatio gentium, et salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

Legifer is a curious word which means "law-bringer," or "law-giver." Etymologically it is related to such familiar latinate words as conifer (cone-bearer), crucifer (cross-bearer), signifer (standard-bearer), or, infamously, to Lucifer (light-bearer). In Bilbo's song about Eärendil he describes the Mariner as the Flammifer of Westernesse, or the flame-bearer of the West; the "flame" being the Silmaril containing the unsullied light that was before the Sun and Moon. Significantly, Eärendil is a type of St John the Baptist. At the end of the First Age he serves to herald, like St John, a great advent; the coming of the Valar to the aid of the Gnomes and Fathers of Men in their darkest hour. When Eärendil first rose shining in the West he was seen by the people of Middle-earth as a "star of high hope" (Gil-Estel). Those of you who are familiar with the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth may recall that Finrod distinguished between two types of hope; amdir, which corresponds to "looking up," having an expectation of good which, though uncertain, has some foundation in what is known; and estel, which is founded deeper, and corresponds to "trust." "It is not defeated," says Finrod, "by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and first being. If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of Estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be for His Children's joy." I expect the first sight of Eärendil, a new star of heaven, to the people of Middle-earth came as a feeling of warmth and a solace amidst grief and suffering.

The name Eärendil had its uttermost origins in the Old English earendel, from the poem Crist by Cynewulf, and it signifies "radiance of the Dawn." If we are to understand Eärendil as a type of St John the Baptist then we have in Tolkien some of the most apposite seasonal reading this Advent. Earendel, being the keeper of the flame and the radiance of the Dawn, brings with him the good tidings of our Salvation and a light to illumine the world that grows chill.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

On and on...

I went away for about six months and switched off. Between May or June of this year until this very month I thought better of reading any religious blogs because I found that they all rattled on about the same things. Well, I looked at the New Liturgical Movement again and found this article by someone I've never heard of. It's yet another appraisal of the "Benedictine Altar arrangement," and, typically, the author gets the very premise wrong and just repeats a lot of theories designed to water down an obvious abuse. I've heard all these arguments before and they're really quite meaningless. The fact remains that facing the wrong way is the absolute worst thing you can do liturgically. You cannot seriously ascribe the word "liturgical" to any compass direction you like or to some nebulous "inward orientation," and then expect orthodoxy to somehow fall into place; neither is furnishing an altar with gradines and claptrap in accord with the spirit of the Liturgy. The standing of any object whatever upon the mensa of the altar was completely contrary to the devotional conventions of the early Church and as for a crucifix, it is superfluous. Such things have nothing whatever to do with piety or liturgical orthopraxis but remain questions of aesthetics best left to the choice of the celebrant. If you wish to pile on more and more candles, flowers, and prayer cards, that's your lack of taste. Please don't try to make it the yardstick of orthodoxy.

I shan't repeat what Percy Dearmer brilliantly said about the "big six," so perhaps Dom Gregory Dix should have this one?

What preposterous nonsense it is to try to erect sacristy orthodoxies and even tests of theological allegiance out of these minute details of pious furnishing, that have varied endlessly throughout christian history and have never meant anything in particular by all their changes!

Wintry tempests...

Another of the king's chief men, offering counsel with his recommendation and with prudent words added immediately: ''Such,'' he said, ''seems to me, O King, to be the present life of men on earth, in comparison to that time which is unknown to us. It is like when you are sitting at meat with your ealdormen and thegns in wintertide, with the hearth burning in the middle and the dining room [caenaculo] has been made warm, but outside the storms of wintry rain or snow are raging through all, and a sparrow flies quickly through the hall, who when entering through one door, soon goes out through another. At that time, when it is inside, it is not touched by the storm of winter, but however when a very small space of calm has run out in a moment, soon returning from winter unto winter, it escapes from your eyes. So this life of men appears moderately [modicum]; but what follows, or what goes before, we know not at all. Consequently, if this new doctrine brings us more certainty, it seems meritorious to be followed.'' Other elders and counsellors of the king continued after the same manner, being divinely prompted to do so. (St Bede).

Thursday, 12 December 2013

To kindle the ashes...

Occasionally (very occasionally these days), I receive e-mails from people who read my blog. Usually they come from people who have only just discovered the wretched thing and are hoping (against hope) that I am still as charged and enthusiastic as I was three years ago when I began Liturgiae Causa. Much has changed in that time. Not that three years is any time at all. Quoth the Psalmist: "but a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday." But ostensibly, to us men, three short years can bring many changes. I suppose I was already on the path to this present state when I began writing three years ago, and writing in such impetuosity can only lead to wrath and despair. Having silenced Singulare Ingenium and feeling, as it were, a fire growing hot within me, I remember having a tremendous urge to trample upon the euphoria of Traddieland (a land of make-believe), the godly popes of yore, and to counter the general contempt the Traddies always had for the liturgical Office. I endeavoured to procure a solution to the problems as I saw them but invariably fell short. Nor did I go about the business of daily living practising my solution. Hypocrites were among Our Lord's pet hates if the Pharisees are the measure of hypocrisy but you may have guessed by now that I am actually quite lazy.

Inevitably my enthusiasm and inclination dried up. I feel now as though I am hanging on a rotten rope over an abyss or as if I have run a race against an opponent tirelessly swifter and, having at last reached the finish line, feel worn out and bitter. I suppose Aesop would call that "sour grapes," for I think the sentiments are (roughly): "hmph...well, I was never interested in winning in the first place!" After all, you cannot impose, or even suggest, any positive changes upon a group of people that is totally against them. I set out to rehabilitate Roman Catholics, in the externals of liturgical worship at first (as a means to rehabilitate their sense of tradition to a more holistic mode in order to bring about a reappraisal of the Petrine ministry among them), but failed, failed utterly and ruined my own life in the process. Time was when I sneered at the godless kind who deliberately avoided church on Sundays; liturgical worship on Sundays is, after all, a thing most civilised (in theory: my own snobbery dictates that I decide the liturgical and architectural style thereunto, the music, etc). These days I seem to have willingly joined the legions of the damned, and I don't give a shit! The road to Hell is such a beauteous way, ever so easy and comfortable. But if the road to Paradise is understood solely in terms of altruism, self-denial and long-suffering then we're all in trouble!

I make no secret (secrecy is a terrible sin) of the fact that I have been depressed. Someone suggested that I "do something" about it. I thought then that I had made one of the more spectacular blunders in my life, having hoped that the depression would simply lift of its own, or that a divine wind would blow it away, or that a white light would suddenly stab into the darkest corners of my mind and pierce the wretched cankers that were living there where all else was dead. There is no such hope, of course. A change is required but of my own making and that entails eshewing that godly vice in my life, namely sloth. Already I have changed jobs. Until October I was a victim of fate, working, living, etc where I was put by others. Not much has changed on that frontier, except now I can no longer order my own comings and goings in the workplace. My dog died. That was a change that was thrust upon me by Nature but it may tributary to something greater and more beautiful. Where, in my darkest months, the palace of my mind became a dark place there were still the remotest corners where the knowledge of light, saxifrage and God was unblemished. Those corners are expanding, I think, albeit slowly and there is nothing, to me, more precious than my mind's home. It is the one place I have always tried to keep free of dust!

But what to do? What do you do, when you are depressed, to try and rekindle the ashes of your former passions? How can a man start his life again? This state of mind has really been a round-about turn. I never once thought that I would completely abandon old pastimes, reading (I was an assiduous reader until this year), going out, etc and exchange them for a simple continuance. I would go to work, I would come home, and I would invariably go to bed. At work (when I bothered going) I would stagger on and not really bother with most of it. I was fortunate that my work was "behind the scenes," so any mistakes would only really be brought to light by a senior auditor so there were some days on which I could sit in the office with the lights off and nobody would ask questions. I don't have that luxury anymore so I am forced to stay active; not a bad thing. In fact one of the coins with which I tried to buy back my sanity was to change jobs so that I would have no option but to work! I am on a temporary contract at the moment and, having received four failed job applications in the last fortnight (one external, three internal), I am under no delusions that I shall be in work on 5th January, in spite of all my efforts and the praise of other members of staff. My decision to end the nightmare of my last job had been taken seriously but it was, nevertheless, a great throw of the dice. I haven't been unemployed for eight and a half years so that will be interesting!

So, what do I do now? Have I resumed blogging? Someone suggested that my literary style is particularly suited to satire or the writing of novels. That sounds quite grandiose and I am by no means a latter day Swift. But there is something about publication and having an audience that appeals to me, and I have missed Liturgiae Causa. But have I, in turn, been missed?

A note on the images. They are quite meaningless, having been recycled from previous posts. The crocuses are used as a sign of hope, I suppose, and The Way to Emmaus long time readers may remember was the signature image and raison-d'etre of the blog. The one in the middle is of me and Joe the Working Class git.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Old prejudices...

About two months ago I started a new job with another retailer. I was so sick of the abominable conditions, the prevailing culture of ignorance and being constantly at variance with the senior managers in my last job that I gave it up at the uttermost end of desperation, taking the very first job offer that came my way. Fortunately it was with a company which I have long admired. Unfortunately I am now about £12,000 a year worse off, I have forfeited all evenings and weekends and the contract runs out in January. In short, I have taken a dive to the very bottom and many of my contemporaries are 16 years old. However, not all is lost. I seem to be getting on extraordinarily well and if I am kept on after the January Clearance I shall be given a more favourable rota, a pay rise and generous staff discount. In fact, I have already applied for a better job within the Company, which I stand just as good a chance of getting as anyone (so I am told). As my mother so bluntly put in one of her characteristically barbed put-downs: "you just have to keep your 'real' personality as hidden as possible." But that might be unfair.

Another Christmass Temp joined us the other day; a young man named Tom. Well, it transpired that he is a Christian. When he told me, old feelings (long forgotten) of interest in that religion surged up only to be dashed when he elaborated and said "Pentecostal." I then realised that we had nothing whatsoever in common. He told me that his father had been a "pastor," and it was abundantly clear that he had no experience of anything beyond the weird confines of this world of hand-clapping and contemporary rock music. He might as well have told me that he practised vegetarianism. He asked if I believe in anything, so I said: "not really. I wouldn't have said I was a cynic but I suppose I am to some people. Nowadays I go to church only to shew support for various societies or ecclesiastical establishments and that has long ceased to be an act of religion." It was all wasted on him. He had no idea what "Anglican" meant, and even "archbishop of Canterbury" was no help so I thought better of saying anything about Orthodoxy. He hadn't even heard of St Charles the Martyr so Heaven alone knows how he has a degree in engineering. He didn't seem "stupid" in any particular sense just grossly misinformed which, I suppose, is a strong tendency among religious people. Thinking outside of the box, as the saying goes, is anathema to them all but there really is no excuse for that kind of ignorance. It just bolsters the charge of secularists that religious people are ignorant, and nowadays I am inclined to agree with them. And don't let's forget that with religions like "pentecostalism" goes a rejection of monarchy, aristocracy, monasticism and all the other traditional pillars of our society. These people really are the great unwashed.

Of course, you will have noticed by now that I am presenting to you a great dichotomy. It is invariably the problem of having simply rejected a religious model for a an irreligious one without having completely shaken it all off. I don't go to church. I don't read religious blogs anymore, nor do I read any of my books. But I still retain some of the values which went with it all. I am still just as intolerant as I ever was of the beliefs and, by extension, the motives of other people. But a sense of apathy has become an all-pervading tendency in my life. Life itself has been stripped bare. I don't read or watch the news or keep up with anything contemporary. I was only dimly aware of the situation in the Philippines because people were talking about it at work. I don't give to charity. I don't watch any television (except for University Challenge on Monday nights). I don't do any house work. I seldom listen to music, and when I do I listen to the same tune over and over and over until it becomes tiresome. I don't go out, except to work. I spend little money (though always seem to be short). No art, no music, no sex, no drink, no travel, no nothing really. I spend the days playing retro video games. This has become an activity to simply pass the time, and where they are so old, where they are so familiar it invariably means that I have to use as little imagination to complete them as possible. To demonstrate the point, a few months ago I bought the sequel to an old game on the original Playstation and I gave it up after five minutes because I didn't know what to do or where to go, and couldn't be bothered to try and find out. Any effort of mind or will has become anathema to me. I never bothered with physical exercise and people who do go to the gym are an alien sort. Even keeping up with friends has become tiresome.

Perhaps you're wondering whether these are the symptoms of depression? Well, I was depressed a year ago. I would say that now waking life has become tolerable. I am not unhappy. Insofar as I have any strong desires it is to shut out the outer world completely and become an island. No religion, no modern technology, no friends, no cleaning, no effort, no nothing. Maybe I practise a form of solipsism? After all, other people were never my first priority. Or perhaps I have just become insufferably selfish and lazy? That great God which searches all our hearts alone knows with what demons I wrestle in the wilderness of my own making. May they not prove the stronger!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Man's best friend...

It is with abundance of grief that I tell you that Lucy has gone to her long home. I began this post on 3rd November, the day after, but, for want of words to say, couldn't do a wretched thing. It is not quite the same but I felt as Húrin did when, upon the death of Urwen, he took up his harp and would make a song of lamentation but couldn't, so he broke it instead.

It is strange to think that it was only five months ago that she wandered off on her own little adventure and that when she was found everyone loved her for her good nature and thought she was younger than her years. It was so different in her last days. My mother and I had noticed a swelling in her abdomen and so my father and I took her to the veterinary practice where, after an ultrasound scan, the vet gave her a very grim prognosis indeed: one week maximum. We took her home and she just collapsed by the living room door. Having given up my previous dead-end job after 8 long, dark years and taken up very disagreeable shifts with a better retailer (having no other opportunity to run errands) I felt compelled to leave her to buy some new work shirts and was out of the house for about three hours. Upon my return I was told that she hadn't moved from her position all the time that I was gone. The next day I watched and waited anxiously. On Tuesday my mother came home from work and told me that she would have to call the vets as she could not stand to watch Lucy deteriorate so rapidly. She became very weak and disinclined, and often shook in a pain that was grievous to see (though I daresay she tried her utmost to conceal it from us). On Wednesday morning I made the appointment myself. Curiously, it was Lucy's birthday on Thursday and we all made a fuss of her and gave her her favourite, lamb's liver and, though she didn't eat much, she did manage to climb into her favourite spot when we had all retired: my father's armchair. Friday came and I went to work and checked as often as I was able on her condition, which remained poor. I came home late and she had apparently not moved from her blanket (moved into the living room) all day and had refused all food and water. By now her stomach was so swollen that she even found lying down painful and would try to get up only to fall down again. At about 11 o'clock it got too much for me and I called the PDSA. They were going to charge me a £200 out-of-hours consultation fee and I was about to forego all pride for my dog's sake when, mercifully, she settled down to sleep. After everyone else had gone to bed I poured myself a large whisky and sat down with my friend for the last time.

On Saturday morning it was clear that Lucy hadn't slept much (or at all) that night, and hadn't even the strength to climb into her favourite, forbidden spot. After a pot of strong tea, my mother, my father and I wrapped Lucy in an old beach towel and carried her to the car. We took her to the veterinary practice again and laid her down in the waiting area while the nurse got everything ready. A few moments later we were beckoned in by the vet and Lucy was taken in and laid on the table. My mother couldn't stay in the room and, after promising to take Lucy to Foots Cray Meadows (Lucy had been very fond of the river), left my father and me in the consulting room with the vet and the nurse. My father signed the consent form and the vet shaved Lucy's paw as the nurse upheld the dog's head. The injection was then administered by the vet. After about a minute the nurse laid down Lucy's head on the table and left the room, followed thereafter by the vet. Lucy's eyes were still open and seemed fathomless and very knowing, though she was at last dead. I tried to close them and waited for a moment with my father by the poor creature. Conscious of the time (yes, I know how awful that sounds) I then kissed her head and went to pay the fee. It wasn't to my liking but we had opted to have Lucy cremated. The fear of urban foxes digging up her mortal remains was ever on my father's mind and so burial was out of the question, even if it would have been funny to have her buried on the spot where, as a puppy, she had dug a hole that was so big that the neighbour's shed had started to collapse!

Lucy was my friend. I don't think that there could ever have been a purer soul in this selfish world and I thank God for her life; she was, verily, His greatest gift.

Sacred to the Memory of

Saturday, 15 June 2013

At the last...

I am going now to live in quiet retirement, away from all this. I learned a valuable truth when I deleted my Facebook account (which I would counsel you all to do): the Internet is a frightening place. In recent months I have let myself go, as it were; I have fallen far short of my own moral standards, and so I am going to try and pick up my life before I knew of the existence of blogs or a ''traditionalist'' movement, back to a time when I knew only about dragons. Who knows, when my passport is finally renewed I may even go far away and live somewhere else.

Is this the death knell of Liturgiae Causa? After three years and a long silence on matters liturgical, what do you think?

Saturday, 8 June 2013


A recent photo of Lucy.

My dog's name is Lucy. We named her for St Lucy because we brought her home as a puppy on St Lucy's Day in 2001. She is a soft, squishy Labrador Retriever and my best friend. She ran away this morning as my father was cutting the grass and I was still asleep (I don't get up until late on Saturday mornings as I have to get up every weekday at five o'clock). Our garage door was left open and I guess she thought it worth her while to go off on a little adventure. Naturally I was very worried so I went off to look for her, feeling rather peeved that I hadn't had my morning coffee or any breakfast and thinking what a blasted nuisance she was. I turned back after a distance of just two miles and thought it would be better to simply ring the local authority or the vet. I got in and rang the local authority but didn't know her chip number. Fortunately there was then a call from the vets, and the dog had been found by a local woman called Gwen. I left a message on her answering machine and she rang me and I went to collect her.

Everyone loved her and lavished her with treats and thought she was younger than 11 years, which I thought was very touching. She was very nearly run over by a bus. She is now sleeping peacefully in my father's chair. She isn't allowed to do that but it's her favourite spot.

Dogs are simple creatures. I know sometimes we read about horrific dog attacks, such as that of the Princess Royal some years ago, but Lucy is a very docile and placid creature, more interested in sleeping and eating than anything else. She likes nothing better than for her back to be scratched as she can't reach it herself. She also has a particular fondness for poultry and sausages. She has never stabbed me in the back, or lied to me, or stolen from me (the sandwich I left unattended a few years ago notwithstanding!). Every day I return from work she is ostensibly happy to see me, no matter what kind of day I've had. She is of no particular use; all she asks is to be loved because she loves me. Audrey Hepburn (my idol) once said: ''I think an animal, especially a dog, is possibly the purest experience you can have. No person, and few children...are as unpremeditated, as understanding, really. They only ask to survive. They want to eat. They are totally dependent on you, and therefore completely vulnerable. And this complete vulnerability is what enables you to open up your heart completely, which you rarely do to a human being.''

This is a photo I found on Google Images of an autistic boy with his dog.

In recent years paediatricians and psychologists have been researching dogs in relation to autistic children. We already have guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, and now we have service dogs for people with autism. I received a telephone call at work the other day from the National Autistic Society and while our kalendar was full for the rest of this year, and much of 2014, I had as long a conversation with this lady as time allowed and asked her about dogs. I think they're probably the best thing for autistic children. With dogs you don't have to worry about eye contact, saying too much or too little (or the wrong thing), and dogs, having been around human beings for thousands of years, are naturally helpful creatures. You can read about Autism Sevice Dogs on Wikipedia.

Tolkien loved dogs too. I don't think that Tolkien ever owned a dog but his view of dogs relative to cats is expressed most clearly in the Tale of Tinúviel from The Book of Lost Tales. There Beren is ensnared by monstrous cats in the service of Melko and Tinúviel comes to his rescue with the aid of Huan of the dogs, whose bitter feud with Tevildo (who later became Sauron) is known to all the Gnomes. Huan is victorious and breaks the spell and Beren comes forth. In the Quenta Silmarillion it is told how Huan was the most faithful of friends (save Beleg Strongbow) and died after his battle with Carcharoth, the most vicious wolf in the service of Morgoth. And don't let's mention the fabled Cats of Queen Berúthiel!

As for cats, I have no especial dislike for them. I was at Blackheath on a bleak afternoon some years ago and a beautiful blue-grey cat came up to me and was very friendly, purring affectionately and allowing me to stroke his back. I left him with regret as I had to go to the pub.

Coming back to Lucy, I think the name was well given, for she is indeed the light of my life. I would be lost without her.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Vivat Regina!

I say this with unrepentant royalism: Her Majesty The Queen represents our very last national Christian institution and I think she's wonderful. In the words of my mother, she ''has been an absolute blessing to this Nation and Commonwealth;'' indeed I can think of no other who has served this nation so selflessly and devotedly for so many years. Other countries had revolutions and wars scarce less than our own but we've managed to stay politically sound in spite of so much Whiggery and suspicion of the Jesuit lurking in the shadows with a dagger. I guess this is one reason Oak Apple Day always appealed to me. We had a godly Restoration of our Church and Government because the commons of the Realm found the alternative repugnant, that being ruthless tyranny, ugliness and the Protestant religion.

Of course, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was, in all likelihood, the very last Catholic Coronation in the history of civilisation. When The Queen eventually passes to her reward (may that day be long from now) her successor, whoever he is, will inherit a very different Kingdom and Commonwealth. His Coronation will be cut short, it will be some awful ecumenical, inter-religious affair; hardly worth watching. Indeed, the Coronation, while having no real legal standing, goes to the heart of the mystery of government; that being that the Sovereign is directly anointed by God to defend the Church, do justice and to suppress evil laws and customs. What could be more odious to modern, secular society? What better way to pave the way for the destruction of Monarchy than by sabotaging the rite of Coronation? In no particular order (I am not a prophet) everything old and good about national life will go, and in my lifetime. The Church of England will eventually be disestablished, the House of Lords will go to be replaced with a different, secular kind of ''upper house,'' the Commonwealth will disintegrate (Australia will be the first, I think), the Monarchy itself, representing the last connexion between these evil days and the godly days of yore, all the old livery companies, etc. It is an inevitable process but no less regrettable.

Through my depressive months I came to the realisation that you can't change the world, even in a lifetime, and so for the preservation of your sanity you just have to accept the world as it is, as unfair, iniquitous, jealous, despicable and as depraved as it really is. By waving Bibles around and whinging about it you just end up making yourself very unhappy. Be true to yourself, and to the Truth, but remember that you live in a world of relativism. After all Historia is a long defeat and salvation comes only through Christ.

I have digressed, and this has turned into a rather dismal post which was not my intention. What I mean to say is: enjoy The Queen while she is here. Long live The Queen! Vivat Regina!

Saturday, 1 June 2013


''There was the day that Karsavina arrived among us, just after her escape from Russia: I can see her breath-taking beauty as it struck me that morning on entering the hall. She sat there with her small son and I thought of all the most beautiful pictures of Madonnas that I had ever seen; I decided that she was more beautiful than any of them.'' Ninette de Valois.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Oak Apple Day...

This day came in His Majesty to London, after a sad and long exile and calamitous suffering both of The King and Church, being seventeen years. This was also his birthday, and with a triumph of above twenty-thousand horse and foot, brandishing their swords, and shouting with inexpressible joy; the ways strewn with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, fountains running with wine; the Mayor, Aldermen, and all the companies in their liveries, chains of gold, and banners, Lords and Nobles, clad in cloth of silver, and gold, and velvet; the windows and balconies, all set with ladies, trumpets, music, and myriads of people flocking, even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven hours in passing the City, even from two in the afternoon till nine at night.

I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and blessed God.

And all this was done without one drop of blood shed, and by that very army which had rebelled against him. But it was the Lord's doing, for such a restoration was never mentioned in any history, ancient or modern, since the return of the Jews from their Babylonish captivity; nor so joyful a day and so bright ever seen in this nation.
(From the Diary of John Evelyn, 29th May 1660).

Monday, 27 May 2013

Beset him round...

I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends -
if by God's mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.
I will not tread your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein no part
the little maker has with maker's art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden sceptre down.
J.R.R Tolkien, Mythopoeia.
 - A poem to C.S Lewis -

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Le Morte d'Arthur...

I would like to draw your attention to a new Tolkien publication, and one which I have awaited eagerly for some years now, namely: The Fall of Arthur. It is an English lay, composed by Tolkien sometime between 1930 and 1934, in alliterative verse and was his one and only venture into Arthurian legend. Although his friends and critics besought him to finish it, like so much else it was abandoned, probably sometime around 1937 (the year in which The Hobbit was published) and he never returned to it. Towards the end of his life he complained that he was running out of time, that there was so much yet to do and to complete, but his meticulousness renders that hardly surprising. But that's not a defect. And the irony is that I admire Tolkien for that, perhaps more than anything else, for it exemplifies his genius.

I pre-ordered my own copy from Amazon and I am expecting it on Tuesday morning. I hope I have the ability to read it.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

For the sake of the Liturgy...

Liturgiae Causa can be said to be three years old to-day (it was started at Pentecost A.D 2010). The idea was conceived during a sort of convalescence from my old blog Singulare Ingenium and I set about creating a new blog on a very hot May afternoon after I had attended a Pentecost Vigil at St Bede's church, Clapham Park. At the time I was still a Roman Catholic traditionalist, though an unorthodox one who made the Sign of the Cross in the correct, Orthodox way.

No, writer's block has not set in but I feel decidedly apathetic about matters liturgical now. The points have been made, and debated at length. I have tried to destroy delusional conviction and error but ostensibly I have failed. I haven't even managed to procure my own happiness or fulfilment.

I would actually like to go away, far away and indefinitely, somewhere foreign and remote like Japan, if just to forget and start anew. I used to argue a lot about waking memory and the connexion of Tradition, past and present and so on, but these days the very mention of the word ''tradition'' fills me with wrath; the word is used so liberally it has become a bastardised concept. And so perhaps to forget is a blessing, if only for me. The only problem is money. I feel that if I could just change my circumstances and forget the past and all my connexions I would be happier. So much for Liturgy!

Saturday, 11 May 2013


Brian Sewell has written an understandably bitter review of the new ITV sitcom ''Vicious'' for the London Evening (lack of) Standard here. From what I have seen of it I can only agree: Vicious is a well-deserved name for something that just regurgitates old stereotypes and makes the impression that homosexuals, of whatever generation, are generally catty and over the top. It's not even funny, and a lot of it doesn't make sense; for example Freddie and Stuart's aversion to having the curtains drawn. Heaven forbid that they might be seen to be living together, locked in nightly embrace, and in Covent Garden of all places! And the profanity is something else. I swear sometimes, usually when riled by something, but why do you need to utter profanities to appear humorous nowadays? Most contemporary comedy that I have seen has been either crass or ostensibly insulting, unless I have a peculiar, plain sense of humour (or none at all), and this one is no different. Bickering old dears can be funny, but I rather think that Hinge & Bracket did it better.

I must say I am very sorry for Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi, two of the finest actors I have seen. What a stain on their acting careers this must be. I think there are seven episodes and a Christmass special coming up. Let us hope that that will be the end of it.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My books...

I have lost the ability, patience, attention or something to read books recently, which means I am bored and isolated much of the time. I have a number of books in a kind of master in-pile, waiting to be read, and I have a number of books ''to acquire'' listed somewhere upstairs, but the prospects of actually acquiring and reading them are becoming more and more unlikely. I even have a few books awaiting dispatch to an old reader, now many months overdue; I hope he will forgive my negligence. I have tried to read in many different ways, at different times, even literature I wouldn't otherwise bother with (such as a John Adams essay on Canon and Feudal law), but the words go in and then go out, and there is no memory, and boredom, much like the the apathy I mentioned before, just sets in. And the trouble is I feel like I am running out of time. I have felt like this for many months already, and May will turn into September in a few seconds, and September into a new year, and that will turn into 2073 in no time at all. As Basil Fawlty adequately put: ''Zhooooom, what was that? That was your life, mate! Oh...do I get another? Sorry, mate, that's your lot.'' It's almost as if I am standing at the top of a cliff watching at a safe enough distance the onset of a ruinous storm, all in slow motion, and it comes nearer and now nearer until inevitably I am swept away. Do I conceive of finding some safe place in which to hide? Of course not; what would be the point?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Our Lady of Pew...

A very happy Easter to you all. For those of you who are interested the Society of Our Lady of Pew will be having their annual Mass at the shrine in Westminster Abbey on Friday 10th May after Evensong. Like the Banqueting House I go merely to shew solidarity.

Do come along if you have a mind.

Saturday, 27 April 2013


Indifference, listlessness, not giving a (choose your profanity)...It's all about being insular, confining yourself to your bedroom, shutting out the light and letting the dust pile high. What is the point in the light of day? Why waste your time cleaning when you have to do so much cleaning the next day? I haven't dusted my bedroom for many months, perhaps a year, but who is counting the days? Of course, such an outlook pervades over all your life. I now have a healthy disregard for work too, turning up many days unkempt and unshaven. I look around departments, see the amount of work that really needs doing, and just give up. You go around in circles, you get nowhere, you get no help, there aren't enough hours in the day, so why bother? There's no point in knocking at the same door for ages when the occupant of the house is inexorable and won't answer, so turn your face the other way and go about your business. There is no point in reaching out to people who aren't interested in reaching back to you, so why reach out? Why appeal to the good nature or common sense of other people when they are neither good nor sensible? If the incompetence of other people irritates you, why get angry? Why be angry about anything? You'll just make yourself unhappy.

Apathy is both a philosophical concept and a symptom of many psychiatric illnesses. Do you think I have adopted a new philosophical disposition or am I labouring beneath some kind of handicap of the mind? Is the answer to that question even relevant?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Trial by Jury...

I finished my Jury Service yesterday; an interesting experience. I cannot tell you what it feels like to be placed in judgement of someone; it all happens very suddenly. My first case was a Grievous Bodily Harm one, rather simple really. You know the scenario: unprovoked attack, defendant flees the scene and is later arrested. I didn't personally see the need for the expense of a trial and thought the whole affair an absolute travesty of the judicial establishment, that I, not to mention the Honourable Judge and the learned Counsel, was taken out of my life, during Easter Week, and forced to listen to the garbled sounds of those humanoid beasts of the field who, by some art, can mimic actual speech (the case was of a ''gangland'' nature), then forced to watch CCTV evidence, now in slow motion, now in real time; and thought all the while that for cases such as these outlawry would be the least doom. That way we could all go home and resume our own decent lives, shutting out for a while the great unwashed. I was not foreman of this Jury but I did, more or less, chair the deliberations. The Judge was a very sweet man.

The next case was considerably more complex, being two counts of fraud. Complexity of documents, lots of dates, funds, locations, etc, to remember. I felt rather sorry for the defendant, who was well-educated and articulate, though thought that the spouse was rather shifty; clearly the spouse (not implicated in the trial) was the primary influence. I was unanimously elected foreman and the deliberations lasted in excess of five hours, which the Judge (of a more commanding nature than the former) thought indicated a good deal of care, thoroughness and conscientiousness on our part. I must say I was disappointed, and actually rather insulted, that we were no longer asked to be ''beyond reasonable doubt'' in the matter of our collective verdict; instead we were instructed in the ''burden and standard of proof,'' and given a list of criteria by the Judge on intention. I think that goes back to the time (I don't know if this is true) when a Jury was suspended by a Judge because they put this question to him: ''what is 'beyond reasonable doubt?''' A Jury of one's peers, indeed! I felt very steady and alert when I delivered the verdict to the court clerk but was informed afterwards that both Counsels were surprised by it. The Crown Prosecution counsel reminded me of a priest formerly of my acquaintance, though the learned counsel's diction was comparatively far superior.

Perhaps I might venture to give some advice to those of you who have never done Jury Service? Forget what I said about outlawry; it wouldn't work in the modern world (there are simply too many people and too much migration), the deliberations are not the forum to express one's opinions not relevant to the evidence and jurors are not expected to be miniature judges in matters of law themselves. You share the authority of the Honourable Judge; but his province (indeed his life's work) is in matters of law, yours is in matters of fact. Go in with an open mind; try to forget any prejudices you might have. You cannot make judgements in an a priori way on any matters in the case not derived from the evidence exhibited in the court. Bring a good book as you will have to do lots of waiting around; always make sure that your mobile phone is switched off as it is Contempt of Court for your phone to ring in the court or adjacent areas; and for God's Sake do not, for any reason whatever, partake of the fare of the Jurors Canteen (not that I did). You would think that the food provided by a Government building would be of a certain standard, but no. Either take a packed lunch or, if desperate, go to the nearest Marks & Spencers.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

None dare call him Antichrist...

"He was a ferocious fanatic, whose object was to destroy all the improvements of modern times, and force society back to the government, customs, and ideas of mediaeval days. In his insensate rage against progress he stopped vaccination; consequently, small-pox devastated the Roman provinces during his reign, along with many other curses which his brutal ignorance brought upon the inhabitants of those beautiful and fertile regions. He curtailed the old privileges of the municipalities, granted new privileges to the religious communities, and enlarged the power of the clergy to the extent that bishops and cardinals had the power of life and death in their hands. He set the Inquisition to work with new vigour; and though torture had been nominally abolished in 1815, new kinds of torment were invented, quite as effectual as the cord, the thumbscrew, and the rack of old times. He renewed the persecution of the Jews; drove them back into the Ghetto from whence they had begun to emerge, rebuilt its walls, and had them locked in at night; and issued an edict ordering all Israelites to sell their goods within a given time on pain of confiscation." G. S. Godkin, Life of Victor Emmanuel II, Macmillan (1880) pp. xiii–xiv.

I came across that wonderful quotation about pope Leo XII (1823-1829), who was undoubtedly one of the most arrogant and destructive men of the 19th century, when looking up the temporal power of the popes on Wikipedia. It is highly convenient that the temporal power was never dogmatized. I read somewhere once that the idea was put forward at the Council of Trent, but was rejected, and clearly Papal Infallibility had political rather than theological import, being no article of the Catholic faith hitherto. Clearly Pio Nono saw that his temporal authority over Rome and Lazio was slipping away, didn't like it, and thought: ''This cannot be borne! I am the Pope, the supreme vicegerent of God on earth, dispensing God's Grace as a commodity to all who kiss my toe'' and resolved, with sour grapes, to exalt himself spiritually in the Church to a new height. Remember Boniface VIII and the King of France? Popes tend to be at their most fanatical when politically they are at their weakest. I mean it would be very rich if the temporal power were made a dogma, akin to belief in the Blessed Trinity and the Hypostatic Union. But there we are, we have Papal Infallibility instead, the most blasphemous and ridiculous heresy ever to plague the poor Church of God.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Paschal Sermon...

Igitur, si con-surrexistis cum Christo, quae
sursum sunt quaerite, ubi Christus est in
dextera Dei sedens.
Quam sursum sunt sapite, non quae super terram.
Colossians 3:1-2

A very Happy Easter to you all; that is to those of you who use the Gregorian Kalendar. On Easter Day in the Year of Our Lord 1613 Lancelot Andrewes preached a beauteous sermon before His Majesty King James VI and I on the subject of the aforesaid Scripture about how right it is that on Easter Day we seek after Christ, just as the holy women sought for him in the morn. The reason we seek above, as says the Scripture, is because that is Christ's most comely abode and thither we shall see His glory. It is there that we have our rest after all the travails of life under the sun of this world. The great man of the Golden Age of Anglicanism says:
''For this day was, indeed, a day of seeking. I know whom you seek, you seek Jesus Who was crucified, says one angel. Why seek you the living among the dead? says another. To rise when He rose, to seek Him when He was sought. This day He was sought by men, sought by women. Women, the three Maries; men, the two apostles. The women at charges, the apostles at pains. Early by the one, earnestly by the other. So there was seeking of all hands.
''And they who sought not went to Emmaus, yet they set their minds on Him, had Him in mind, were talking of Him by the way. So that these do very fitly come into the agendum of this day; thus to seek and set our minds. At least not to lose Him quite, that day we should seek Him, or have our minds farthest from Him, that day they should be most upon Him.
''The Church by her office, or agendum, does her part to help us therein, all she may. The things we are willed to seek she sets before us, the blessed mysteries. For these are from above; the Bread that came down from heaven, the Blood that has been carried into the holy place. And I add ubi Christus for ubi Corpus, ubi sanguis Christi, ibi Christus, I am sure. And truly here, if there be an ubi Christus, there it is. On earth we are never so near Him, or He us, as then and there. There in efficacia, and when all is done, efficacy, that is it must do us good, must raise us here, and raise us at the last day to the right hand; and the local ubi without it of no value.
''He was found in the breaking of the bread; that bread she breaks, that there we may find Him. He was found by them who had their minds on Him: to that end she will call to us, Sursum corda, which, when we hear, it is but this text iterated, Set your minds, have your hearts where Christ is. We answer, We lift them up; and so I trust we do, but I fear we let them fall too soon again.
''Therefore, as before so after, when we hear, Thou Who sitteth at the right hand of the Father; and when again Glory be to God on high, all is but to have this. But especially, where we may sentire and sapere quae sursum, and gustare donum caeleste, taste of the heavenly gift, as in another place he speaks; see in the breaking, and taste in the receiving, how gracious He was and is; was in suffering for us, is in rising again for us too, and regenerating us thereby to a lively hope.  And graciously in offering to us the means, by His mysteries and grace with them, as will raise us also and set our minds, where true rest and glory are to be seen.
''That so at this last and great Easter of all, the Resurrection day, what we now seek we may then find; where we now set our minds, our bodies may then be set; what we now but taste, we may then have the full fruition of, even of His glorious Godhead, in rest and glory, joy and bliss, never to have an end.'' The Sermons of Lancelot Andrewes, Volume II: Paschal and Pentecostal, pp.83-84.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Oh dear...

It would be nice to see some photos of a real Palm Sunday liturgy on the New Liturgical Movement blog. But no, instead we have Keith Harrison of the Birmingham Oratory wearing a red cope and blessing palm branches at a table facing the people. Is this part of the movement for liturgical renewal in the Roman church? Mediocrity and liturgical abuse in the Roman Rite? Thank God I'm no longer a Roman Catholic, that's all I can say! At least I have the freedom to say what I want about all this nonsense.

Rubricarius of the St Lawrence Press has published a very good commentary on the reform with his usual masterly commentary on the real thing here. I have said often enough that the most moved I ever was by liturgy was at a celebration of Palm Sunday four years ago, my first in the Old Roman Rite, at the Blackfen chuch. It was during the chanting of St Matthew's Passion narrative; Scripture in situ as it ought to be heard; and I understood every word.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Another random post...

''The great pagan civilisations march their eternal round like weary ghosts through the schoolroom; at the stroke of the clock they vanish, and the activities of real life are resumed. Hardly does the thought occur that these too, like other restless spirits, have a message to deliver, and are burning to speak.'' Sir Walter Raleigh.

An old friend, a confirmed secularist, once said to me that Latin has no place in modern society, per se. I found this awfully funny even if what he said had a grain of truth. Now, I'm not going to repeat all that nonsense about the decline in Latin being another attack on the Roman Catholic church but I would say that a lot of young people, myself included, are considerably more stupid to-day because of it. Even from a pragmatic perspective, if a boy who attends public school is taught Latin and Greek, achieves some mastery of them; whereas a boy who attends a comprehensive school is taught neither but has a meagre instruction in modern French; then the public school boy has a skill that the unfortunate other schoolboy has not, whatever you might think of the ''point'' in learning these languages might be. I was taught Latin at school but the instruction was minimal. A few abridged passages from Caesar and Cicero and a few lines from Virgil - a poor return for two years of my life. It's as if a French boy were taught English at school and given a few pages of Wellington's dispatches or a speech of Burke, augmented with some lines from Paradise Lost. Would that give the boy a decent, nuanced view of our history and culture? No, and they're not even the best examples of English literature either; plus Milton's skill as a poet is dimmed, in my opinion, by his political and religious views. At any rate we're not always fighting, and neither were the Romans.

I never understood the decline. Maybe it's because people can't be bothered? Who knows. There's no use complaining, though. I have felt very deflated recently, very apathetic. Eventhough I was at Evensong at the Abbey on St Patrick's Day I have only been to one other service in the last three months, namely that put on at the Banqueting House by the Society of King Charles the Martyr on 30th January. Yesterday was my first aliturgical Palm Sunday in four years; five years ago I was in Ireland and, as I have already explained, I was then of the opinion (much as I am now, actually) that most liturgy celebrated throughout the world was beneath my taste. So, feeling deflated? Just as well that to-day's Collect at Mass asks God that we might get our breath back (respiremus).


Iam ver egelidos refert tepores,
iam caeli furor aequinoctialis
iucundis Zephyri silescit aureis.
Linquantur Phrygii, Catulle, campi
Nicaeaeque ager uber aestuosae:
ad claras Asiae volemus urbes.
Iam mens praetrepidans avet vagari,
iam laeti studio pedes vigescunt.
O dulces comitum valete coetus,
longe quos simul a domo profectos
diversae varie viae reportant.
Catullus 40.

My Latin has gone all rusty of late. I enjoy Catullus but seem to be relying more and more on translations. This poem was written in the Spring of 56 B.C, when he was leaving Bithynia to tour ''the renowned cities of Asia.'' He says that Spring has come with a breeze of Zephyr (egelidos means ''ex-chill''); he desires to get him gone from the plains of Nicaea into the cities of Asia; that his soul is praetrepidans, literally fluttering with anticipation; and he bids the commitum, the staff, farewell as he longs (avet) for the way home diversae variae viae, in divers paths and through different lands.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


I can't seem to concentrate very well recently. In my post on Latin Christian poetry I was going to conclude it by making some comment on the continuity of forms and metres being by no means aping or disrespecting that of the pagan Romans but a genuine fusion, almost like the integration of Roman culture into Britain before the days of the Saxons, but never mind. To be honest I sometimes wonder why I bother continuing this fast-failing blog - most of my readers are gone, most people don't take me seriously anymore and all the ''interesting'' stuff is from two and three years ago, and it wouldn't be worth repeating all that, would it? At any rate, the posts into which I put the most effort are the least-read of them all.

I am persona non grata at home again and during Easter Week I shall be starting Jury Service so posts will be sparse from now on.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Poetry in continuity...

We don't hear much about early Christian Latin poets, do we? When we think of the Patristic age we tend to think of St John Chrysostom preaching or condemnations of heretics at General Synods of the Church. But Latin poets there were and a vast corpus of great poetry there is, much of it never translated into modern tongues. Classicists have always had a rather dim view of such poetry; they say that men like Lactantius, Ambrose, Cyprian of Gaul and Sedulius simply aped Virgil and Horace by using their forms and dulling them with images from the Christian Bible, which even to godly men like St Jerome was as dull as ditch water, though it told aright the history of Salvation. Church historians and theologians don't set a very high store by this poetry either as they tend to look to the more meaty stuff such as the Acts of General Councils and the sermons and epistles of great men like St Cyril of Alexandria. Even in the Patristic age itself poetry, particularly poetry set to iambic metre, or elegaic couplets or hexameters was seen as suspicious, partly because of the ancestral persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire, partly because of the pagan beliefs enshrined in those forms - ''lies, though breathed through silver,'' as C.S Lewis said in 1930. I think they're wonderful. They appeal to all my aesthetic inclinations, and to my understanding of Divine Service, and you can use them in good conscience as much as the Roman Canon, the Psalms or even the Lord's Prayer itself in your devotions.

I was at Westminster Abbey for Evensong yestereven, wearing my harp broach in honour of Her Majesty's Western Isle, and the service was magnificent. Plainsong Introit, Psalm, Versicle and Respond augmented by Palestrina Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. Psalm 96, one of my favourites, too. At the verse O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness for some reason (perhaps the later association of the trees giving praise to God with Tolkien's Ents?) I thought immediately of those seldom-heard poems and will dedicate some time to producing some of them here. One of my favourites, typical of many conversion stories throughout the Middle Ages (you know, heathen, miracle happens, converted heathen), is by (or at least attributed to) Severus Sanctus Endelechius, a contemporary of Paulinus of Nola. The poem is De Mortibus Bovum, On the Death of Cattle, and is obviously based on Virgil's Eclogues, beautiful pastoral poems about suffering and the intervention of local gods, at which I spent considerable time translating as a student of Divinity at Heythrop when I should have been reading about systematic theology!

Imagine, Bucolus and Aegon are shepherds and together bewail the death of their cattle by Plague and hear from a certain Tityrus (again, Virgil...) that his cattle were saved by Christ's Rood Token. The Latin is exquisite:

Quidnam solivagus, Bucole, tristia
Demissis graviter luminibus gemis?
Cur manant lacrimis largifluis genae?
Fac, ut norit amans tui.
Can anyone guess the metre? O, why do you wander sighing sadly and alone, Bucolus, your eyes cast down as if you were oppressed? Why do tears stream down your cheeks? Will you not tell your friend?
Reading further you can see that there is even some polemic interwoven in the text. Tityrus says to the others, Come, let us go together, it is not far, and acknowledge Christ's Divinity. Of course, that's one idea. Truth is black and white, like pages of the Bible, but you can at least make it pleasing to the senses. No wonder good liturgy existed aforetime, but no more, but in far sundered places.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Papal Court liturgy...

With yestereven's news, and especially the choice of papal name, I have turned once again to the subject of Innocent III's liturgical reform, carried on by his successors Honorius III and Gregory IX, and taken to the farthest reaches of Christendom by the Franciscan Friars. A good reference for this subject is The Origins of the Modern Roman Liturgy: The Liturgy of the Papal Court and the Franciscan Order in the Thirteenth Century by S.J.P Van Dijk and J.Hazelden Walker. I doubt liturgy is on the agenda for pope Francis but it will be interesting to see what kind of liturgy he celebrates publically, and whether he retains much (or anything) of Benedict's reform. His time spent with the Easterns might have some positive influence. Who knows? As I said yesterday, the fact that he came out onto the balcony without scarlet almutia and stole speaks volumes; I wonder if he'll have this approach to liturgy in general? As he is 76 years old and has only one functioning lung, I say: use well the days!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


There's nothing fanciful in a name. John Paul I chose such a name so as to continue the legacy of popes John XXIII and Paul VI, popes of the Second Vatican Council (and other things). John Paul II chose his name because his predecessor died only a month into his office (under suspicious circumstances if rumour is to be believed). Benedict XVI took the name benedictus on account of his admiration for St Benedict of Nursia. And now we have pope Francis. Francis was my Confirmation name. All my classmates took more common names like John and James, nice apostolic names; I chose Francis on account of Francis of Assisi, a man whose ministry I now repudiate, because he was reportedly very fond of animals, as I was of my pet dog (at the time a shih-tzu named Sammy). But pope Frank; you came out onto the balcony almost naked! This is a good sign, I think. The few Jesuits I have known (well, I did study Divinity at a Jesuit institution) have all been very congenial, intelligent men.

I'm going to be frank (no pun intended) and say I know absolutely nothing about this new pope even if I knew there'd be a Latin American. It's too early to say anything about what he plans to do; it will be commendable if he does something wildly evangelical. If he knows nothing about and cares not one whit for Liturgy then all the better for everyone. The previous pope did far too much damage with his aliturgical theories. Let us hope for something more Christological and sensible from this one.

The comments on Rorate Caeli are amusing, once again. They're hysterical! One of them says ''we're doomed! The Church is finished!'' I guess that's the danger of a little knowledge...

Friday, 1 March 2013


The Tablet has an interesting collection of letters on all manner of things on their website. I thought Simon Perry's comment very apposite, part of which I reproduce here:

''Firstly, the proponents of the pre-conciliar form of the Mass seem mistakenly to believe that they have a monopoly on tradition; secondly, those who attend the old rite generally keep themselves apart from other Catholics, and quite often pride themselves on never attending the ordinary form of the liturgy except for funerals or weddings. And thirdly, emboldened by the Pope's support, the often very vocal supporters of the extraordinary form seem to be gradually propagandising in favour of the old rite by speaking of it so incessantly as the traditional Mass that they have actually succeeded in convincing themselves and many of the rest of us that this may be so.

''Most significantly, however, is the way in which many traditionalists, who are often at ecclesiological and theological variance with Pope Benedict, seem to be reaching and propagandising disaffected Catholics who tire of endless Shine, Jesus, shine, pseudo-folksy bubblegum music, and the rather annoying middleclass white busy-bodies (unfortunately many of them female, as a feminist Catholic friend pointed out to me recently) who dominate the parish scene.

''I find it difficult to believe that the Pope's liturgical efforts will bear much fruit, but in order for them to have a fighting chance I suggest that control of the old Mass be wrested from the hands of the 'trads' so that it become something for all without the un-Catholic ideology so often on display in traditionalist circles and secondly that priests and bishops genuinely attempt to re-enchant the contemporary liturgy which has an inherent dignity, nobility and a winning spaciousness and simplicity which the pre-conciliar incarnation somewhat lacks.''

I couldn't have put it better myself. Traditionalists do indeed pride themselves on their separatism, something decidedly unCatholic, and their refusal to concede any merit at all to the Novus Ordo of Paul VI or any post-Conciliar developments, whether in terms of ecclesiology, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, episcopacy or biblical exegesis. I speak from personal experience. As a traditionalist I had nothing whatever to do with the Novus Ordo and thought ill of most Roman Catholics who didn't see liturgy through my own eyes. My eyes were opened by being receptive to acts of great charity and altruism from many mainstream Roman Catholics in my old parish, people who had very little to do with the Extraordinary Form (or whatever you call it) and whose faith and devotion were far greater than my own.

I agree wholeheartedly that the ''Latin Mass'' should be wrested from the hands of the Traddies, who seem to endue it with their own doctrinal standards and ill-informed pieties - far removed from the eminence and dignity of the practice of liturgy. The Bishop is the regulator of Liturgy in the diocese, let the Bishops look to it! "Oh, but Summorum Pontificum says..." Bother Summorum Pontificum! It's a complete load of rubbish and demonstrably false. Benedict XVI has put a spanner in the works by Summorum Pontificum. I would ask what authority the bishops have left in their own dioceses for it? Grossly unfair. You may not like or agree with your bishop, but he is your bishop nonetheless. I find it worrying that the traddies rejoice that the pope has removed episcopal authority over liturgy.

As for rather annoying middleclass white busy-bodies (unfortunately many of them female...) who dominate the parish scene, what can I say? We've all had run-ins with that sort!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

They were forgotten...

I saw this this morning:

A fundamental reason why people gather in St Peter's Square and pour out their hearts in prayer and cheering is that the Pope bears the burden of belief for the whole Church. If it were not for Pope Benedict, many Bishops around the world (and some close to home) would long ago have spoken out in favour of women priests, gay marriage, artificial contraception and a host of other aberrant doctrines. What has prevented this from happening is the Holy Father, the successor of Peter who has confirmed his brethren in the faith. An interregnum brings with it a note of disturbing chaos. The announcement Habemus Papam will be applauded with relief and joy even before the name is given.

I thought immediately of one of the best quotes you will ever read in The Lord of the Rings, or even the entire legendarium:

''And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own, even in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm, the Power in Barad-dûr was shaken, and the Tower trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown. The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made; and the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash, and all the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare. Then his wrath blazed in consuming flame, but his fear rose like a vast black smoke to choke him. For he knew his deadly peril and the thread upon which his doom now hung.

''From all his policies and webs of fear and treachery, from all his stratagems and wars his mind shook free; and throughout his realm a tremor ran, his slaves quailed, and his armies halted, and his captains suddenly steerless, bereft of will, wavered and despaired. For they were forgotten. The whole mind and purpose of the Power that wielded them was now bent with overwhelming force upon the Mountain. At his summons, wheeling with a rending cry, in a last desperate race there flew, faster than the winds, the Nazgûl, the Ringwraiths, and with a storm of wings they hurled southwards to Mount Doom.'' The Lord of the Rings, Book VI, Chapter III.

It's interesting what comparison we have here. In The History of Middle-earth Volume X Tolkien writes very eloquently of the nature of Orc minds relative to the domination of the Dark Power. Corrupted Elves (and Men) the Orcs naturally had independant wills but such was the power and tyranny of Morgoth in his ruination of them that those who served in garrisons of his strongholds, at his court and in his armies were reduced to a state of absolute servitude to his will; they would act like herds, obeying instantly any command, even if it be that they slay themselves in his service. When the will of Morgoth was removed from the world at the end of the First Age the Orcs who had been so controlled were scattered like leaves before the wind, without purpose either to flight or to fight, and soon died; until Sauron arose again and gathered the wandering companies of the Orcs to his service. The Battle before the Black Gate says it all:

''As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope.'' Ibid, Book VI, Chapter IV.

And so when people say things like ''if it were not for pope Benedict,'' ''the pope bears the burden of belief for the whole Church,'' ''what has prevented this from happening is the pope,'' it makes me wonder why they think that one man is necessary for the sustenance of an entire belief system. Even more interesting is when they admit that a period of Sede Vacante brings with it a sense of chaos, because the central power that holds them all in sway is removed and they're all nervous about what the future holds for them, what beliefs they will be required to believe, what kind of liturgy they will be required to attend, and so on. Therefore might we not reasonably compare Roman Catholics, and specifically the traditionalists, to the Orcs, not of the kind that Sam overheard in the passes of Cirith Ungol who said that life was better without Big Bosses (Sauron's attention was not immediately on them, you see), but to the kind in Morgoth's and Sauron's armies, who fled like feeble, witless beasts when their lord was reduced to impotence? If the upcoming Conclave lasts many weeks (not likely) will Roman Catholicism simply crumble from within (I am not, by the way, unaware of the length of some historic conclaves)? But their very survival is conceived only in terms of obedience to a great authority. The Orcs, those of them who survived the tumults at the end of the First Age (and probably the Third also), lived on in petty, isolated companies deep under the mountains. What will happen to the Traddies under the new queen ant? What if he is not to their liking? Will they flock to the ''pope-emeritus?'' Will he say to their petitions and prayers, ''I am not infallible anymore; but you may pray to me as a saint?'' (I've no doubt that New Catholic will start a petition on Rorate Caeli to have Ratzinger canonized as the greatest of all modern popes).

I will say no more as yet. We'll have to wait and see what the next ''Vicar of Christ'' turns out to be.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


The most vociferous critics of homosexuality are usually closet homosexuals themselves so it's hardly surprising that Keith O'Brien is embroiled in a new scandal - what was it? Inappropriate behaviour? That could mean anything but controversies of this sort are usually of a sexual nature. Doesn't really do the credibility of the Roman communion much good, does it? A bishop ranting from the pulpit about Sodom and Gomorrah while simultaneously trying desperately to coneal the nature of his own sexuality. I could have said ''and then going off to shag his male partner,'' as has oft been the case with men of this sort, but that, sadly, cannot be proven. But what a terrible shock to the Traddies! Keith was a veritable hero to their cause, what with his consistent defense of sacramental matrimony, pro-life causes and, of course, his denouncing of homosexuality (and the unsuitability of homosexual men to the priesthood), and now this? And during the imminent resignation of the pope from office! Didn't I say that the coming weeks would be interesting?

I may have fallen out of favour with the Traddies because of my openness but at least I don't criticize people for problems I have myself. See here for an article ''bang to rights,'' as the saying goes. The less credibility the Roman communion has in the eyes of the world, the better for everyone.

I should add that nothing is proven even if I myself believe the accusations to be true. It could be that there are some nasty people using the ''crisis'' of the upcoming papal resignation as an opportune time to create problems for a morally upright man by playing on the sexual abuse crisis; but then it could also be that they are true, that there were acts of impropriety and they were rightly scandalized to see this man's rise in the Roman communion to Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and thence to Cardinal. If so, why wait 30 years? Or maybe it's all just a lot of rubbish. Personally, I feel so numb on account of the inferiority of my own circumstances that I scarcely care about other people, least of all a Scotsman of Taig extraction.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

In time...

It's as I predicted; these idiots are crapping themselves! Well done, Keith!

I posted an anonymous comment on the post but it seems that even my anonymous comments, naturally dripping with sarcasm and intellectual superiority, are unacceptable to New Catholic, most vile of all the creatures of Morgoth.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

We'll gather lilacs...

I was reminded of this upon waking this morning. Private joke but some of you may get it. Enjoy!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Comments thus far...

It's unsettling to think that as little as 8 years ago I welcomed the sight of pope Benedict XVI on the balcony of St Peter's as proof that the Roman communion was guided by the Holy Ghost. These days I would say in spite of the Holy Ghost, but that's not what I've come to say.

The comments on Rorate Caeli are quite nauseating, one of which says:

Let's hope the next Pope takes the title Pius XIII as Popes with the name Pius have been the most effective is stemming heresy and heterodoxy.

Boob! In fact, someone already did take the title of Pius XIII, his name was Lucian Pulvermacher, a nutcase who set up shop at home. Imagine:

Lucian, dinner's ready!
But, mummy I'm still celebrating mass!

And another comment on Rorate:

My beloved Pope Benedict, I will always love you. I owe you so much. I am so very sorry - very distressed. Prayers from my heart for you, Your Holiness.


''GQ Rep'' worries about the next liberal. Why, exactly, would you have anything to fear? If your Tradition is so solid, so unshakeable, so true, and the gates of Hell, and blah, blah, blah, then surely it is the liberals who should be in fear of you? Or are you worried perhaps that the next pope will come along and tear down everything pope Benedict has built up? I'm not going to pass comment on them all, but the general thrust of these comments seems to be an unreasoned fear of the next incumbent and a lot of judgement on Benedict for not abolishing the Novus Ordo Missae, failure to fully reconcile the Society of Pius X and so many other castles in the air not worth repeating.

I'm not going to tell you what my hopes are for the next pope, but perhaps you can guess some of them. As I said in the previous post, the coming weeks promise to be quite interesting.