Tuesday, 31 March 2015

"Traditional morning office"...

Unbelievable. But at least they're consistent with the time.

Is it just me? Am I a simpleton or something that I find this enthusiasm for this aliturgical crap completely shallow and ill-informed? I am asking in all seriousness and earnestly. What is it with these people that they are so blind? Why can't they see that this is not tradition? As thralls they have found thrall hearts. How it angers me! But what angers me more is the fact that when they are presented with Tradition, they don't want it! THEY JUST WANT CRAP! It's like when I bought my first altar missal when I was 20. This 1862 French missal, very handsome, I brought it to my parish and was shewing it to people, many people who just feigned interest. When I came to a certain woman, she refused to even look at it. Why? Well, clearly out of malicious contempt for the Tradition of the Church and her obvious preference for tat and superstition. It reminds me of my father's old adage: "you can't polish a turd." And it's the same with these "Saint Thomas Apostle" rabble. Well, they're welcome to the rubbish but I don't see why they have any right to call it "traditional."

Magnificence of the Liturgy...

On Passion Sunday (neither "first" nor "second") last, a friend and I were listening to Byrd's Passion according to St John. It has a noticeably more correct Latin pronunciation, the traditional pre-Pius X tone for Narrator; the grave, melancholy tone for Christus, and the beautiful Turba parts in their rich, ascending melodies and it brings home what I have always thought; that the Church exists to beautify the Scriptures in divine service, to present to us the riches of the Word in Its proper context, and in times past the Roman Rite was no exception. I venture to comment on the Turba part because I think this is important. In the service of the Church, in his great genius Byrd has transformed the shrill voices of the baying crowd into an angelic voice of divine praise. Think of that! Cries of crucifige, crucifige eum! uttered in bottomless malice elevated to the quintessence of liturgical delicacy. Thus is the malice of the Jews confounded in our churches!

Contrast the florid contours of Turba with the seeming modesty of Christus. Turba, in exuberant song that anticipates the joy of the Resurrection inverts the rage against God into humble oblation; Christus, even as Christ said, my soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death (Mk 14:34), resonates the melancholy of the Passion and maintains a simple monodic unison that yet commands authority (cf. Mt 7:29), bidding us give ear. This differentiation of polyphony and monody far exceeds the common sense distribution of parts to one or several persons but is a symbol of the theological distinction between the One True God and the many false gods of the Gentiles, and between the infinite perfection and simplicity of the One God and the composite imperfections of the multitude of sinners. One might say also that the transformation of the malicious cries of the Jews into the most fervent voices of supplication reflects the mystical inversion of Time that we experience during Lent, with evensong sung before nuncheon; a praxis, like the Mass of the Aforehallowed Gifts, so despised and misunderstood by the philistine reformers of the 20th century.

The Philistines conquered, to our sorrow. Goliath, in the person of Pius X, cheaply discarded the traditional tone and replaced it with a simple Mattins tone. Why?

Photo: St Lawrence Press.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Plants and Flowers...

"He could see them clearly. He had a very powerful visualising mind. But I think that the names 'Simbelmynë' and 'Niphredil' were absolutely essential to their existence in his mind." Christopher Tolkien talking about his father's conception of flowers.

There are lots of plants and flowers named in Tolkien's legendarium, each with their own unique qualities and histories. Off the top of my head, there are the red seregon of Beleriand that crowned the top of Amon Rûdh as with blood; the golden elanor that grew in abundance in Lothlórien; and, to me, most theologically and indeed liturgically significant are the kingsfoil which, for Aragorn, was like unto our own basil (hence basileus, although that connexion should be in reverse). But Christopher Tolkien has really synthesised the entire legendarium by those few words. It begins with a word, and the myth proceeds from the word. In the subcreative sense, this reflects the Genesis Creation story. God said Let there be Light, and light was. In Tolkien's case, the legends form around the word, which are more than a collection of subjectively attractive syllables, and the depth, detail and complexity of the connected phonetic and philological forms give a sense of reality to the legend.
And as Tolkien had, in the words of his son, a deep, urgent love of nature then it's not surprising that his description of Ithilien, a land of swift flowing waterfalls and herbs of divers hues and smells, is so real. It reminds me of parts of France that I have seen, and Tolkien never saw.

Art: Ted Nasmith.

The Machine, part II...

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

The bank card. In modern times, it is an absolute necessity to have a bank account. If you didn't, you would not be able to work, for a start, as the vast majority of employers pay wages by BACS payments to employers' accounts rather than by cheque or in cash, as aforetime. Until I worked for the bank, I had no notion of what sort of account I had. I knew I had some sort of savings account, which was unused (or emptied, I should say), to which a current account was connected but I knew nothing of the benefits (or malefits) of having these accounts. But then I was made to fill my head with different "packages" offered by the bank to prospective customers as part of my job. These "fits" have changed over the years. For example, when I was a teenager I had a plain bank card attached to a simple current account. The card was "chip-less" and could only be used at ATM's operated by the bank and could not be used in shops. I did not, at this time, have a cheque book. But I remember that this restriction meant that I had to pay cash for everything. That is not a bad thing. Nowadays, simple accounts offer debit cards. My account was upgraded when I went to university (although I hadn't then heard of a "student account"), I was given a cheque book and my bank card was subsequently made with a "chip." I became addicted to this "chip." I was delighted that I no longer had to traipse all the way to an ATM to retrieve money from my account. But this chip makes people lazy! It is corrosive of local branch banking, is a means of control and debilitates the ability to budget our finances. The bank controls the release of the funds and the remittance has to be authorised, and this process, which can take some days to be statemented, is watched by a "fraud department," a team who have immediate and permanent access to our transactional histories and carefully document our spending habits; exact dates, times, places, amounts to be debited (or credited), and we're none the wiser. It is not seldom that a transaction is stopped at the point of sale for the simple reason that it is out of your spending habits! You then have to telephone the bank's fraud department and explain that the transaction is genuine and ask for the funds to be released. It is iniquitous! It is long since your bank account was between you and your bank manager!

The banks also maintain a "score" for each customer which is calculated every month based on your transactions, standing orders, payments and other account activity. Your score will go up or down based on meeting your financial obligations but the score is also calculated on how much you use the account, and in what ways. This can be using a credit card, opening different savings accounts, using Internet and Mobile banking facilities, setting up standing orders and regular payments to beneficiaries, keeping a balance on the current account above a certain amount, and certainly not making use of an overdraft facility; all under the watchful eye of the banks. If, however, you make use of an ATM or you withdraw funds from the counter, your score will go down, not up. The banks don't want you to use cash! Why? Because cash is blind; cash is between you and the seller, and the banks cannot authorise it. And if your score goes down, don't expect to receive any offers from the bank! Don't be surprised if you're excluded from any promotions! I've also noticed recently that there has been a campaign, under the pretence of "going green" and the prominence of Internet banking, to abolish paper bank statements. I had to visit my local branch and actually make a formal request to stop this and get my paper statements back. This is not because I am in favour of felling trees without cause (and I do tire of the environmentalist monopoly on "care for the environment") but because it is a principle. It's like your cheque book. We all know that cheques take up to seven days to clear but is that really excuse enough to abandon them altogether? My mother lost her cheque book and she says she doesn't miss it. I certainly would.

On the subject of savings and credit, I have to say I am very dubious. Interest goes against the moral law (no wonder the Jews practised usury!) and so the propriety of having a credit card and savings accounts is in serious doubt. I have never owned or used a credit card. But I realise that we live in the world; people have mortgages and pay bills using their credit cards, etc. But I think that the most ethical way of banking is to rely on your local branch as much as humanly possible. Emphasise the community; know your bank manager's name, regain control of your own spending and ultimately take no thought for the morrow. The chip is quite possibly the mark of the beast. Have a care, then, lest you do the will of the Devil and remember that you are in Christ!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Making a difference...

I've been called many things over the years; nutcase, insane, fanatic, most recently "gratuitously nasty," not to mention all the abuse to which I have oft been subjected on account of my appearance, and to each of them there is a degree of truth (albeit I would contend with the word gratuitous). Even so, as Frodo counselled Gollum on the stairs of Cirith Ungol:

"'Don't take names to yourself, Sméagol,' said Frodo. 'It's unwise, whether they are true or false." (The Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter VIII).

Sympathetic readers have even called me a "fool for Christ," or holy fool. Well, this old sinner is flattered by that but I am conscious enough of my own sins of neglect, sloth, wrath and lust to ware of that too. I have, however, consciously endeavoured to make a difference to people's lives and to change their perception of liturgy. In two cases (in present recollection), I have been successful (see here and here). But in most, I have failed. And the reasons for that are obvious.

Liturgy was, until recently, an unfashionable subject. Its practitioners, men like Ronald Silk, Quentin Montgomery-Wright, Mgr Gilbey in his way, and in our own time Rubricarius and Anthony Chadwick, are seen as eccentric and unreasonable, and so long as you keep their kind of liturgical practices in the dark, in a ghetto, the neo-con traddies can happily go on with their votive masses of the Sacred Heart and rosaries recited before a monstrance and treat the "eccentrics" with contempt and suspicion. As Goliath denounced David with lofty disdain so the conventionally wise traditionalist crowd usually laughs in scorn at me and my ideals, and, for my sins, I am not worthy to unloose the latchet of the shoes of any of these great men aforesaid. And in this liturgical ghetto of far-sundered nobodies, because we none of us have the wherewithal and support of the "greats" of Traddieland (I won't name names, but you know who I mean), we stagger on amidst taunts, raspberries, cries of "heresy" and other abuse and enjoying the malefits of our adherence to Tradition and reverence for the Roman Rite. We are proscribed, persecuted and systematically excluded from the debates of our age because our views are irrelevant, our time is at an end.

In my case, my critics are disingenuous. They know in their hearts that my words are those of a true seer but they can't admit this openly because to do so would be to dismantle the Babel Tower around the bishop of Rome they have so carefully constructed and in which the cult of the infallible pope is enshrined. The fact that you can't have Tradition and an infallible magisterium simultaneously (at least under the present conditions) puts them out of reckoning, and the notion that liturgical orthopraxis can be practised in spite of Rome, without deference to Rome (let Rome look to us and learn, not the other way around) is an abomination. And so they make recourse to a kind of cynical self-censorship; they say among themselves, "what Patricius says is wrong and nobody should listen to him," but also, "and nobody does listen to him," and then add "because he is autistic and liturgical minutiae fills some psychological vacuum."

But it takes an aliturgical critic to say this. I say aliturgical because not only is liturgy secondary to modern traditionalists, most of whom have become doctrinal conservatives with a mere preference for the "extraordinary form," but they would even sacrifice what is good and venerable in liturgical tradition for a sense of concord with modern Rome; "offering up," in the spirit of that Ignatian axiom "sentire cum ecclesia," what they might privately find distasteful or irksome in the present in hope of better times to come, perhaps under a more sympathetic pope. This is essentially why the traditionalists find no fault with the liturgical books of 1962, even when they are aware of the reformed nature of those (incomplete) books, and why they all welcomed Summorum Pontificum which enshrined them forever. In their view, liturgical orthopraxis is suspect and abject humiliation before the See of Rome is noble; reverence for and adherence to Tradition for itself alone (as one might love spring groves for themselves and less as kindling) is suspicious and yet reverence for the person of the pope and his infallible authority is the very yardstick of orthodoxy. I humbly contend that this is the very state of mind that wrought all the present woe and that trust in modern Rome will, in the end, only confound you.

Tradition is consequently stifled in traddieland because of their attitude to Rome which has taken on the semblance of virtue. Where before traditionalists were in many ways dissident, they have replaced dissidence with a kind of axiomatic, snivelling sycophancy and a willingness to blindly accept any tenth rate rubbish allowed them by Rome. The anonymous Liturgical Pimpernel epitomised this arrogance; the very same who discredited my writings and those of Rubricarius in all ways that he could, presenting real traditionalism (Evelyn Waugh's kind), which I have ever advocated, in the worst possible light. And this stifling means that traddieland bears fruit only in rottenness and deceit! What passes for liturgy and tradition among these lords of the Roman Rite is, for the most part, dismally and meanly hideous. And worse, where there are some traditionalists with more sense (Mr Di Pippo of the New Liturgical Movement springs to mind), who make some effort at liturgical orthopraxis, their efforts are ostensibly hushed up for fear of some stickler for 1962; the propriety of introducing orthopraxis under the aegis of Summorum Pontificum notwithstanding! The similar case of that Midnight Mass from 2010 in my old parish where my services as "straw subdeacon" were curtly declined springs to mind also.

O me miserum! I say with total confidence and conviction that the Roman Rite is incredibly rich, fecund and has the potential to be truly great once more but there are wicked people deliberately holding it back, and they are NOT Fr Joe Blogs down the road with the altar girls and eucharistic prayer II; those idiots are truly irrelevant. I know we're not in the right season for it but the other day I was reading the antient Roman rite for the Blessing of the Waters on Epiphany Even; a service of incredible beauty and symbolism. With my mind's eye I could see the spectral forms of the bishop in cope with his ministers about him; the ninth lesson at Mattins, a procession in great majesty to the river, the litany, the lessons filled with the music of water and seasoned with salt, of thirst quenched and the glory of the LORD, of the mystic rood wherewith God made sweet the water; the procession of the "godfather" (patrinus) with the cross accompanied by twelve taperers to the bishop, the choir singing Baptizat miles regem, servus Dominum suum, as the bishop plunges the cross into the waters hallowed by Christ's sacred feet in antient days. It brings tears to mine eyes. And if this makes me a "liturgical fetishist," or a "nutcase," or gratuitously nasty then I take those names, given in scorn by the Philistines, with pride.

But the bishop in cope, his ministers, the deacon who chants the gospel in which Christ says that he that believeth on me out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, the taperers, the veiled cross, the thurifer, the acolytes, the choir; they remain spectral forms, all of them ghosts of a dead rite and a Tradition stone dead, and kept from reviving by the true enemies of Tradition: the traditionalists.

In the False Kalendar it is Palm Sunday to-day. I shall refer readers to the greater expertise of Rubricarius for an exposition of what Palm Sunday ought to look like.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Machine, part I...

"There is the tragedy and despair of all machinery laid bare. Unlike art which is content to create a new secondary world in the mind, it attempts to actualise desire, and so to create power in this World; and that cannot really be done with any real satisfaction. Labour-saving machinery only creates endless and worse labour. And in addition to this fundamental disability of a creature, is added the Fall, which makes our devices not only fail of their desire but turn to new and horrible evil. So we come inevitably from Daedalus and Icarus to the Great Bomber. It is not an advance in wisdom! This terrible truth, glimpsed long ago by Sam Butler, sticks out so plainly and is so horrifyingly exhibited in our time, with its even worse menace for the future, that it seems almost a world wide mental disease that only a tiny minority perceive it." The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, no.75.

When I announced my intention to embrace Puritanism, a reader asked me what Tolkien would do. It is difficult to say without attributing intentions wholly unfounded in history to Tolkien. We do, after all, have to live in the world as it is, to an extent. But I was reminded of Tolkien's profound contempt for what he called compendiously "the Machine." He did not mean simply the internal combustion engine but the attempt to question a particular life problem and wilfully to choose the wrong, easier solution. The dishwasher, the mobile phone, a bank card with a chip, the oyster card, social networking sites; they are all machines designed to make a simple life needlessly complicated, and we all blindly accept their use in our lives. The dishwasher is the least sinister out of the five examples but it's years since I made use of one. What then of the others?

The mobile phone. I won't lie, I own a mobile phone. I didn't until around last June when I was forced to get one because of work but I stupidly bought another iPhone on a two year contract when I really ought to have bought the cheapest, plainest mobile phone available on a pay-as-you-go basis. The iPhone is addictive. It is not simply a mobile phone; it is a miniature computer on which you can play games, use the Internet, send e-mails, play music, even make payments and do all manner of things that are wholly shallow and unnecessary. I don't use even half the facilities available, such as Siri, Facetime and all the other default applications but I do spend a considerable amount of time using the phone. It is seldom out of reach. But I resent having it and the grip that it has because I am conscious of its hold, which is a stranglehold on my liberty. All my life I have fought against various addictions and I have overcome many of them but a computerised phone won't go away. During the four or five months in which I didn't have a mobile phone, my parents were constantly complaining that they couldn't "get hold of" me. Ironically my father was the chief complainer; the very same who ten years ago was highly suspicious of mobile phones and people addicted to them and now spends all day with his reading glasses on playing solitaire on his iPhone! But working in the city I depended entirely on public transport and its unpredictabilities and coming home late for dinner would usually entail the, "well, if you had a mobile phone..." speech. But why should people need to get hold of me? Why should we be within the constant reach of other men? Why should a set of numbers tapped by someone miles away set up this unwanted connexion? Then there is the "big phone company" side to it. When we sign these contracts, giving our home addresses and bank details to these big companies, do we not sign away our very souls? I am bound for another year to this contract but I tell you all now that I will not buy another iPhone, nor sign another contract, and I will not be proved faithless.

Friday, 27 March 2015

A dream...

I have strange dreams. Don't we all? You may remember that Marks & Spencers used to have life-like mannequins (do they still have them?). I had a nightmare about them when I was very little, which featured the evil garden gnome my neighbours Tony and Irene ("the Baptists") used to have on their porch. They bit my fingers off, one by one. Well, last night I had a very strange dream about an old tribe or cult. I'm not sure what they worshipped but they had a temple in their cult built at the top of an huge tower with two minarets shaped like the phallic symbol on either side of the entrance and above the entrance to this temple was a Latin cross in an obscene and provocative position. The men of the tribe practised sodomy.

Think what you will about the depths of my subconscious mind, I think this is telling about our own modern culture of progress and depravity. St Paul does say that sodomy has its uttermost origins in idolatry. God help me! God for His mercy give Grace!

Art: John Howe. This is the temple built in honour of Morgoth at Sauron's behest in Númenor. It was destroyed during the Change of the World at the end of the Second Age, which is what the painting depicts. It looks nothing like this "temple" of my own imaging but similar arts and rites were probably performed there. It's interesting that Tolkien equates the decline in Númenórean longevity with their growing pride and, finally, their fall into darkness and idolatry; biblical genealogies reflect this too. In those days, under the domination of Sauron, they became fierce and desperate. In the case of despair or desperation I have noticed that my own falls into the sin of lust seem connected to despair. A trendy psychologist might say that is "self-hatred." But modern scientists are no longer lovers or seekers of Truth. The same can be said of the religious too. It's hardly surprising that I tend to view all men as inherent liars these days. There might be sincere and honest people out there but I daresay most worship in the temples of Morgoth.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A living saint!

I went into the CTS Shop and St Paul's bookshop near Westminster Cathedral this morning. Every time I go to St Paul's I see somebody I recognise. In this case, someone recognised me and said "hello Patricius!" from behind. That was after I took this photo. No disrespect intended to the lord pope gloriously reigning but who on earth would buy this? Not only is it tawdry and distasteful beyond belief, and even bears some resemblance to Hannibal Lecter, but it seems to imply a dangerous "reigning pope = living saint" superstition. I mean, I wasn't at all surprised to see whole sections dedicated to the "Holy Father," with books, smiling portraits and the rest, but this surely takes the biscuit!


Before my grandmother moved to Ireland in 2003, she left me my late grandfather's old collection of coins from his travels as a young man in the Navy. There are coins from all manner of countries, in foreign currencies some of which I have never heard of, but one of the oldest and most interesting in the collection has to be the silver half crown with Queen Victoria's portrait on it. Its high silver content is shewn by its state, which is quite worn. My father was 14 years old when the British Pound was "decimalised" and half crowns discontinued so I have never used the old coins (but I do remember heavier 50p coins), but holding this half crown with the Widow of Windsor's countenance thereon, which was legal tender until 1967 (I think), gives one a sense of history which modern money, even when it is used at all, simply does not. Peter Hitchens has written an interesting article on his blog about the old money which reminded me of granddad's old collection.

All I can ever get out of my parents about the old money is that sweets were cheaper. I have no memory of the old money; "D Day" was 17 years before I was born, but I have always measured in inches, feet and yards. Another way to stave off the dark tide!

Monsignor Gilbey...

The great Mgr Alfred Gilbey died 17 years ago to-day. Customers of the St Lawrence Press Ordo will notice that on 26th March, under the instructions for the liturgical day, is written: Dies Anniv Rmi Alfredi Newman Canonici Gilbey, Praelati, 1998. This inclusion is due to the fact that Mgr Gilbey bought, and used, the Ordo. I have heard nothing but praise of Mgr Gilbey from those who knew him well (including many of my personal friends). Great among the proto-traditionalists of the Church, he resigned from the Chaplaincy of Fisher House, Cambridge in 1965, after 33 years, when it became clear that the university would admit women to the status of undergraduates; a man whose views about women resemble my own.

It can be said that the shibboleth of Liturgiae Causa is the pseudo-feast of ''Joseph the Worker,'' about which I have written at length before. Mgr Gilbey, who was herald of a time when traditionalism was about at least the semblance of Tradition, had nothing to do with it, and on 1st May was wont to come from the sacristy of the London Oratory in a chasuble of the blood red hue of the Martyrs, to the great indignation of the provost. Nor did he ever say the Collect Pro Papa on the days prescribed, except once, but said rather Ecclesiae. His "low" Palm Sunday is said to have been magnificent.

Were Mgr Gilbey alive to-day, I have very serious doubts that he would have much to do with modern traditionalists, and would certainly not identify with their papal turncoat tendencies. I daresay he would hold a man like Cardinal Burke in polite contempt.

I am sorry never to have met Mgr Gilbey, a priest and gentleman. May he rest in peace.

The photo is credited to a dear friend of mine who knew Mgr Gilbey and attended his funeral.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

St Gregory the Great...

(A.D 540-604), Pope of Rome (perhaps the last good one?) and Preacher of Dialogues. I first read St Gregory's advice to St Augustine of Canterbury many years ago in one of my Oxford World Classics editions called The Anglo-Saxon World and it knocked me sideways for its clarity, common sense and disparity (with later bishops of Rome), for he said: "things are not to be loved for the sake of a place; rather places are to be loved for the sake of their good things." And this was in answer to questions about what kind of liturgy to introduce to these grey shores. In those happy times there was no sacred congregation of rites and men were more instinctively liturgical.

Now, if I were not so wicked and lazy I'd have gone to Mattins this morrow. Instead, the Catholic Encyclopaedia has St Gregory's epistles which you can see here. Pick one in honour of the day.

A Tolkien documentary...

I've only seen bits of this over the years but finally I have discovered the complete "centenary" Tolkien documentary from 1993. I heartily recommend it. It is narrated by a much younger looking Judi Dench and for me there is a tremendous feeling of solidarity watching it. I have met or been in contact with some of the persons in the documentary over the years, most notably Fr Robert Murray, whom I met at Heythrop College in 2006, and I was in contact with Dr Verilyn Flieger some years ago. What Murray says about the ideals of Tolkien's legendarium, being as they are in the tradition of epic poetry and the Middle Ages, is very astute.What Flieger says about Frodo can be ignored but I agree fully with her about recommendation of The Lord of the Rings. It is not a work that readily I recommend to people, for many complex reasons; I actually recommend few books. This is inextricably linked up with the nature of the book, Tolkien's magnus opus. Like Flieger, I think it is a work that you have to discover for yourself, akin, as it was with me, to the discovery of a secret wine cellar or a beauteously bound illuminated manuscript in a cathedral library long out of knowledge and memory.

Christopher Tolkien's observations are, of course, to be taken very seriously, particularly what he says about "the Machine," Tolkien's disposition to the modern world, and the malicious and deliberate confusion Tolkien's critics have made about his work, the actual distinction between the desire to escape from prison or the deserter running off. There is also a particularly moving moment in which he narrates one of Tolkien's letters to him when he was in South Africa, and Tolkien's desire to see the fields about Artois again; for reasons more profound than I, born in 1988, can really understand. Priscilla Tolkien narrates one of the finest passages from Leaf by Niggle, a work which I haven't read for about a decade. Tom Shippey, whose works on Tolkien are very astute, makes very cogent points, one about the rowan tree and Quickbeam, the Woses related to "Woodhouse Road;" and the Emnets of Rohan; what he says about Tolkien's mastery of Old English, that had England had the sort of rolling countryside of the antient fields of Calenardhon, what native names would they have had? It's like I am Gandalf, and I am having this conversation with Pippin going to Minas Tirith and saying; "I am trying, with my limited imagination, to perceive the unimaginable heart and mind of Tolkien at work." I won't say in the morning of the world, or when the Two Trees were in flower, because Tolkien was inevitably a man of his time, even if his mind and his manner were of a richer, more courteous realm. He did once say (to Robert Murray actually) that his own small conception of beauty and majesty were based on his ideas about St Mary. It's remarkable and it calls to mind Merry and Pippin's first meeting with Treebeard; do you remember when he asked them the modern name of what they were standing on! These questions, so beyond the reach of my own thought, were constantly going about Tolkien's mind. Rayner Unwin admits this; that Tolkien did his best not to try and embarrass him but that Unwin was constantly aware that Tolkien was a gigantic intellectual. And there are tears in my eyes as I write this. Even Queen Margrethe II of Denmark speaks of the affinity that she has with Tolkien, with his ideals and languages remote and yet near. C.S Lewis and the Inklings are mentioned only briefly, about fifty minutes in, but Priscilla quotes from a personal letter that Tolkien wrote to her shortly after Lewis' death which shews the "communion" (Tolkien's own term) that they both shared, going beyond the confines of ecclesial boundaries.

Ultimately, I agree fully with Tom Shippey that reading Tolkien makes you look at things differently. It's a very profound, ineffable and unexplainable feeling. It's as if the work speaks to you about things that you know, deep down, by a perception other than sight or hearing.

Forgive this appallingly bad and hastily written introduction to this documentary; I am speaking as it were from the heart having just watched it. I'm afraid that "$ully" doesn't go away.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Maundy...

This Professor Kwasinutkase really gets on my nerves. In yet another piss poor article on the Aliturgical Bowel Movement, written in his accustomed verbose and pretentious style, he has referenced the Cistercian tradition as a stimulant for reform in the liturgical vacuum of modern Roman Maundy ceremonies. The great shibboleth is the involvement of women in the ceremony when the rubrics stipulate viri (I humbly suggest that the liturgical books say a good many other things that the traddies conspicuously ignore, but that's for another post) since, he claims, this undermines the doctrine of the male priesthood. He goes on to suggest that the ultimate symbolism of the Maundy is the "ordination" of the Apostles into the first bishops of the Church at the LORD's Supper, at which they concelebrate the first "Mass." After a lengthy quotation from a history of the Cistercians, he says:

"Could there be a washing of the feet of (e.g.) prisoners or the elderly or the handicapped that was not embedded, misleadingly and acontextually, in the liturgical commemoration of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday?"

Boob. The article makes no mention of the fact that the incorporation of the Maundy into the Mass rite is itself an innovation, having its uttermost origins in the mutilations of Pius XII, so why does he make such a fuss about "disregard for the wisdom of Catholic tradition," and those who claim to "know better than our benighted forebears?" It seems to me that if the praxis has become so obnoxious and objectionable, why not omit it altogether in parishes and petition bishops conferences to restrict it to cathedral and collegiate churches? Surely that would be better expressive of the apostolicity of the bishops? And since Christ our LORD washed the feet of the Disciples after they had supped, the current position of the Maundy in the Roman Rite is especially odious and not in keeping with Catholic tradition by any stretch of the imagination. Traditionally, the Mandatum had no connexion to the Mass rite whatsoever, there was no requirement that it take place in the church and the feet of thirteen men were washed, not twelve as in the bastardised rite of Pius XII, so venerated by the traddies. Yes, let's all idolize the early 1960's as the most sublime era in liturgical history.

Dr Kwasniewski needs revision if you ask me. Furthermore, it would seem proper for the Traddies to order their own houses before they questioned the mess of others.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Two women...

Sitting on the bus this afternoon I saw two women. One was a young Somali covered head to foot in a black burqa, with her face visible. She was carrying ASDA shopping bags. The other was a fat white woman in a pink tracksuit, probably about my age. She had peroxide hair with noticeable dark roots in a pony tail, sallow skin, dark bags under her eyes, and spoke with a harsh, thick "London" accent (cockney is almost extinct). She had two children; one, about six years old eating a bag of crisps, and the other in a pushchair. This one is probably on benefits.

Which is worse? The Somali woman dressed in a culturally objectionable way and who shouldn't be in this country or the native low life? Unfortunately, most people who object to the sight of the Somali are of the white trash calibre, like our beloved pink tracksuit woman, and the left-wing, intellectual elite can simply say that their objections are based on ignorance, lack of education, bigotry, racism and a plethora of other phobias which are the enemies of modern civilisation.

I say that modern civilisation is anything but civilised and that this country, just like everywhere else, is finished.

The darkness and the light of Puritania...

The modern world is totally evil. In England we're fast becoming a despotism. It was said that by 1984, riveted into the home of every family, there would be a one way television screen through which we would see nothing (what a relief!) but through which we would be watched continuously by Big Brother. We're thirty years too late for that but we're not far off. And that's not all. Not a day goes by when I don't see a dark face. People go about with mobile phones pressed to their ears, jingling with amulets, bright clothes, ripped jeans...creating no sensation whatsoever. Gay marriage, fornication, abortion-on-demand, the cashless society. I wish I had more opportunity to use my cheque book.

We can't stop it, pray as we might. All this globalisation, decline in morals, it is an insatiable tide of darkness and all we can do is flounder and reach up to Christ our God. What we can strive to do, though, is embrace a form of Puritanism. Now, I'm not in the financial position to move to the county so forbearance will have to suffice for the dark faces speaking in tongues harsh with antient idolatry but what I can do, and offer to my readers as something worth considering to stave off the tide, is to try to live life to the best of my ability as though it were not, in fact, 2014. "Live in the past," in other words. On your respective journeys to the Celestial City, perhaps, like me, you might like to consider the following:

I. Is the Gregorian Kalendar worth keeping? It is not the Kalendar bequeathed to us by Tradition. Try to avoid "civil holidays" too, like all these "international" something-days one often sees on Google. Live life according to the liturgical kalendar...a real one, of course.

II. Is Greenwich Mean Time really that useful for someone living in Cornwall? I mean, before the Industrial Revolution we all had local times. Why not go back to those happy, simple times? In my case, Greenwich is less than ten miles from my house so this might be more difficult for people outside London...

III. Is possession of a mobile phone an absolute necessity? And ear phones, we can all do without those. Keep an address book handy, of course. And if people can't get hold of you, that's too bad. I personally resent the idea that I can be disrupted whithersoever I go by someone I'd rather not have contact with (such as work).

IV. Food is something of a problem these days. With so many cultures brought in, etc. Try to eat only in season. Never eat foreign strawberries in January. Try to eat plain, wholesome food. Don't refrigerate everything. In fact, try to stop using the refrigerator altogether. I drink Guinness in the summer mornings because I won't use refrigerated milk.

V. Do not eat Kosher or Halal. That means boycotting certain brands (e.g, Heinz) and refusing to buy meat in certain shops.

VI. Milk comes cheap in plastic bottles these days, unless you're wealthy enough to still have the milkman deliver it. If, like us, you're too poor to benefit from the services of a milkman, buy a nice milk jug and store your milk in it. Milk is precious and worth more than a plastic container.

VII. Try to keep holy the LORD's Day. Don't do things like shop, or go to the theatre. The new Sunday trading laws exist for the benefit of atheists but that doesn't mean that we have to cheapen Sundays by becoming like them.

VIII. I'm sure readers of this blog dress appropriately. I feel more comfortable paying that little bit more knowing that my clothes were made in a factory in this country, where conditions are good, rather than some sweat shop in India. Labels aren't everything, of course. I buy most of my clothes from Charles Tyrwhitt.

IX. The "cashless society." If that is not the mark of the beast, I don't know what is! Try to avoid paying by card in shops. Not only is it none of your bank's business where you spend your money but, having worked in a bank and having spent considerable time going through customer transactions, you'd be surprised how much you can learn about a person by their spending habits. Everything is recorded; the exact date and time, the store number and address, the amount debited. That information should be between you and the retailer. If you use your cheque book at the counter in the bank, however, and just draw on the account, the bank is none the wiser. Avoid ATM's and use the counter service, even if you have to queue up for ages. Use your cheque book as often as you can.

X. When shopping, try to avoid using the express checkouts. They're putting people out of jobs and seem geared towards this solipsistic, I'm alright culture. What happened to customer service?

XI. Charity. It is not your moral responsibility to feel concern or compassion for people you've never met, and never will, who live thousands of miles away and do not help themselves. Charity begins at home. Do not give to Children in Need or Comic Relief. Do not countenance or support these bogus enterprises in any way.

XII. Going to and from your homes, do not speak to anyone unless you are spoken to; try not to look at other people. Instead, try to observe silence.

I hope these points are of interest to you. Now it's just a question of implementing them.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Song of the Lark...

On the ninth day of March the Church venerates the venerable Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. Their feast is placed deliberately during the Great Fast because their example is as a light to us, like that of St Lucy during Advent, in the time of trial. There is a pious custom of baking pastries shaped like larks on this day because it is said in tradition that the song of the lark rises from the doors of night and pours its voice among the stars, greeting the sun of spring beyond the walls of the world, and releasing the bonds of winter. In token of this, here's one I got this morning.

All ye holy martyrs, pray for us.

Hope for Lent, part II...

Part II of Hope for Lent continues. I can't remember why I called this series "hope for Lent" now since it has grown in the telling but I suppose I'm drawing on fictional characters to make a point, ever present to us in Lent. We are fading. We are against the world, and the world hates us and at the end is Death. Since all we can do to fend off our destruction, at least for a while, is to hold fast to the traditions we have received and to put our trust in God. Tradition then received from the Apostles is about keeping forever present the lore and memory of Christ with us until He comes. There is much more to Christianity, in other words, than a transubstantiated sacrament.

By the time of the War of the Ring the Three Rings of the Elves had passed to three guardians; Elrond, who kept Vilya; Galadriel, who kept Nenya, and Gandalf, who kept Narya. Each of these persons represents a different, albeit interpenetrating, manifestation of tradition. Gandalf is a Maia, an angelic spirit of great power and wisdom. Sent to Middle-earth by divine ordinance to contest the power of Sauron, he came from over the Sea with four companions. Disembarking at the Grey Havens, Círdan the Shipwright perceived in him the most faith and the greatest strength, albeit he seemed less than his brethren, clad in ashen grey and leaning on a staff, and committed to his keeping Narya, the ring of fire, with which he might rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill, setting the fire that succours in wanhope against the fire that lays waste. Unlike Elrond and Galadriel, Gandalf had no fixed abode and went hither and thither about the lands befriending Elves and Men. He yearned exceedingly for Valinor whence he came and so remained most faithful to his mission and at last returned alone of his companions into the joy of the West. He most represented vigilance of the three, and there may be more to the epithet "Grey Pilgrim" than may seem at first glance.

Galadriel was a high elf of a royal kindred of the Gnomes. Her history is garbled in legend but she was born in Valinor the daughter of Finarfin and came to Middle-earth and dwelt with Melian in Doriath. There she married Celeborn, kinsman of Thingol, and ere the end of the First Age passed over the Blue Mountains into Eriador where she befriended the the Green Elves and ruled there a fiefdom. After the War of Wrath, those Gnomes that remained in Middle-earth founded Ost-in-Edhil nigh to the antient Dwarf mansions at Dwarrowdelf (which became Moria), and Galadriel removed thither. There the Rings of Power were wrought by the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, for which Sauron lusted, and the land was laid waste in the grievous war betwixt Sauron and the Gnomes; the doors of Dwarrowdelf were shut and Galadriel went east over the mountains into Lórinand, which became Lothlórien. At some point the Three Rings were divided lest Sauron rape them; Nenya was committed to Galadriel; Vilya and Narya were sent to Lindon to the keeping of the high king Gil-galad. Eventually they passed to Elrond and Círdan. After the humiliation of Sauron during the War of the Last Alliance, the Three were released from the dominion of the One and worked according to their purpose; as such, Lórinand became the fairest of all forests in the Hither Lands and was called Laurelindórenan in song, for the trees of that land recalled the memory of Laurelin the Golden whose likeness had long passed from this world. Together with Celeborn, Galadriel is said to have "fought the long defeat" over the years. It has never been clear to my mind what she means by this. It could be that she is alluding to her own exile and that the ring she holds is impotent to bring about an anamnesis of the West beyond her own narrow land; in this sense the long defeat is against inevitability and against the flowing streams of time. Or it could be in a more literal sense a war against Sauron. Since Galadriel most represented memory, as clear as Kheled-zâram as Gimli later said, of the three keepers, my mind leans to the former interpretation. There was always going to be defeat, the Elves were destined to fade to a rustic folk of dell and wood, soon to forget and be forgotten; then comes the dark. It's like the epilogue of The Silmarillion, if it has passed from the high and beautiful to darkness and destruction, that was of old the fate of Arda Marred. Memory, wisdom and sorrow are all that remain yet thereby the beauty and poignancy of the Elves is not dimmed but enhanced.

Elrond Halfelven is the youngest of the three keepers, born towards the end of the Elder Days, of royal lineage. He holds the mightiest of the Three and his house is in Rivendell, the Last Homely House East of the Sea. Rivendell was founded during the War between Sauron and the Gnomes as a refuge (flight again) and thither many of the Gnomes of Eregion removed. After the destruction of the North Kingdom of the exiled Númenóreans in the ruinous wars with Angmar, the heirs of the king were raised in the House of Elrond and its chief treasures and heirlooms were brought to the keeping of the master of Rivendell. As the years rolled by and the shadow of the fear of Sauron grew, Rivendell remained stalwart in long years of trial and Elrond became mightiest in all wisdom, keeping the traditions of song and the telling of tales alive in the hall of fire. Not for naught did Aragorn say to the hobbits that the Tale of Tinúviel was known best and in full only by Elrond.

Of the three keepers, Elrond most represents the lore of Tradition. He also represents a bridge, a pontiff if you will. Aragorn calls Elrond the "oldest of our race," which implies that, as the twin brother of Elros, the first King of Númenor, Elrond Halfelven is also in a sense a Númenórean. It is highly significant then that as the eldest of Númenórean race the heirs of Númenor are taught in the House of Elrond. With the marriage of Aragorn and Arwen, when as Elessar Aragorn took up again the Kingship, the Children of Ilúvatar were united for the last time. Do you remember the conversation between Gimli and Éomer in Meduseld, about the Morning and the Evening? It was said that Galadriel, whose golden hair rivaled the light of the Sun, represented the morning; Arwen, daughter of Elrond, had raven hair and her countenance called to mind the antient beauty of Lúthien, represented the evening; she was the Undómiel ("evenstar") of her people. Gimli foreboded that both would pass away ere long, as indeed befell. With the downfall of Sauron at the end of the Third Age, the Three Rings and their keepers passed forever into the West. But the Tradition, as Gandalf said to Aragorn in the high passes of Mindolluin, would hereafter pass to Aragorn as King and his descendants. As basileus of a new, reunited Roman Empire, Aragorn was "King of the West Lands" and sole guardian of the traditions of his royal lineage. The dominion of Men was come and the vigilance, lore and memory of the West were committed to the heir of Númenor forever.

Art: John Howe and Ted Nasmith.

Friday, 20 March 2015

An examination of "organic development"...

Apologists for the incomplete set of the 1962 books, taking heart from Summorum Pontificum and the example of Benedict XVI's eclecticism, like to propound the idea that the history of the Roman Rite, from apostolic times until the eve of the Second Vatican Council, was one long, uninterrupted sequence of piety and legitimate development and that an unprecedented revolution in liturgical praxis only occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council by the application of insidious, anti-Catholic principles to the "true intention" of that synod by a small team of professional liturgists of questionable purposes, who seemingly appeared from nowhere, who hijacked the liturgical constitutions and demolished the Roman Rite attributed to Pius V in its 1962 form which, for the traditionalists, is the culmination of that organic developmental process. I put it to you, readers, that that idea is a load of rubbish and its proponents are disingenuous, faithless, ignorant and themselves of questionable purposes. How, then, can we define "organic development" in liturgical praxis in a way that will achieve universal consensus, if that is possible?

J.R.R Tolkien, writing in 1963, compared the ecclesiastical authorities to a gardener in a treegarth, pruning the tree, getting rid of cankers; and this seems to me a very modern Roman ideal, but with respect to the great man, a fundamentally mistaken one. Tolkien, born between the golden and diamond jubilees of Queen Victoria, witnessed every stage of liturgical reform in the 20th century, and it is only natural that he would have thought this way. But he was also a mediaevalist and it is to the Mediaeval Church that we look for the true principles of organic liturgical development. Indeed, in two main respects the Counter Reformation administered organic development in the liturgy its deathblow, at least for the Roman Rite. The first of these was the surrender of liturgical reform to the Papacy. The second, arguably more pernicious, was the setting up by pope Sixtus V in 1588 of a professional body of bureaucrat liturgists, a centralised team with absolute power of manipulation in liturgical minutiae, called the Sacred Congregation of Rites.

And so from 1568 or 1588 (whichever you prefer, it doesn't matter), instead of the pre-Reformation tradition of regulation of the liturgy in each diocese by the bishop thereof, matters of liturgical pettiness were invariably referred to Rome and episcopal authority over diocesan liturgy was consequently spurned, except in areas influenced by Gallicanism and Jansenism. And so the latter history of the Roman Rite from the late 16th century was one of liturgy dispensed and authorised by the highest ecclesiastical authorities rather than a true continuation of what had historically been the case, that is liturgical development at the local level with deference to provincial synodical decrees. The Counter Reformation was a truly Protestant one in the liturgical sense and this former notion of liturgical regulation was synthesised in the encyclical Mediator Dei, in which Pius XII stated:

"...it is perfectly correct to say, lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi - let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer...From time immemorial the ecclesiastical hierarchy has exercised this right in matters liturgical. It has organized and regulated divine worship, enriching it constantly with new splendour and beauty, to the glory of God and the spiritual profit of Christians." (Mediator Dei, § 48).

This is not only the complete opposite of the historical Truth it is a theological heresy, and an heresy committed by the "infallible" magisterium that set the scene for the destruction of the rites of Holy Week and other grievous reforms that culminated in the liturgical books of 1962. Is this what passes for "organic development" to a traditionalist? Because I can point to several instances in the latter history of the Roman Rite, even before Pius XII set in stone that liturgical heresy, that demonstrate that the "infallible" magisterium has indeed erred, out of malicious contempt or egregious incompetence, in matters liturgical. So, applying Tolkien's own ideal of the gardener in the treegarth who tends the trees, let us look at these instances of contempt or incompetence in the Roman Rite and judge for ourselves whether they are tested by the yardstick of "organic development."

Was it contempt or incompetence for Urban VIII to render the antient hymns of the Breviary into pseudo-Classical Latin? Is Alto ex Olympi vertice evidence of organic development? Was it organic development that these hymns were not (partially) restored, with their beauteous tones, until the reforms of Paul VI (reforms so despised by the traditionalists)?

Was it contempt or incompetence for Leo XIII to abolish the Blessing of the Waters on Epiphany Even in 1890? Was it organic development for this antient rite, which called to mind Christ's Baptism in the Jordan, to be reduced to a simple blessing of holy water against malevolent spirits?

Was it contempt or incompetence for Pius X to establish a commission to destroy the antient Psalter arrangement and in the process cheaply discarding some of the most antient features of the Roman Rite, such as the Laudate psalms at Lauds? Was it organic development for the Sundays to suddenly "go green?" Was it organic development for Pius X to obscure the distinction between Sunday and festal offices?

Was it organic development for Pius X to move Corpus Christi to the nearest Sunday and then three weeks later to move it back to the Thursday after Trinity? (Treatment which, ironically, one hundred years later the traditionalists were always deft to calumniate their local bishops for!)

Was it contempt, incompetence or organic development for the S.R.C to impose the common Si diligis me in 1942 on all offices in commemoration of popes; notwithstanding unique, beautiful proper texts, such as Iuravit for St Gregory the Great and Preacher of Dialogues, which were consequently abolished? Was it organic development for this decree to be superseded in 1955 by the decree Cum Nostra?

Was it organic development for Pius XII to establish a Commission for the General Liturgical Reform in 1947?

Was organic liturgical development in evidence in Pius XII's botched "restoration" of Holy Week? Was the blunt administration of arbitrary authority over the midnight eucharistic fast not contemptible? Was the organic development of the liturgy evident in the abuse of evening Mass, brought in for the first time in 1953? Was it organic development when all but three octaves were abolished in the Roman Rite? What about all those vigils? What about the reduction of the Breviary services from four to two volumes, tomus prior and tomus alter? Was the feast of Joseph the Worker an organic development? Was the Assumption proper change an organic development?

And so on and on, and on, in an endless cycle of arbitrary changes that receive papal approval and then become "living tradition." Now some traditionalists have some fantastical notion that these evidences are competent, legitimate changes by high ecclesiastics whom God has appointed who, with pious travail and apostolic labour, work round the clock under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to approve a pristine rite worthy to be followed that comes intact from God, and carried to the four corners of this world by the Angels themselves. Except, of course, until the Council! Then, O Woe! everything suddenly changed! Organic development came to an abrupt end! And here the pestilential Society of Pius X are to blame. Let us forget for a moment that traditionalism itself is an artificial construct and that traditionalists, in their adherence to the liturgical books of 1962, are bound to the conditions that render Tradition impossible, Roman Catholic traditionalism lost all credibility when it took to the poisonous hermeneutic advocated by the $$PX that the liturgical revolution began after, and as a result of, the Second Vatican Council, thereby shamefully abandoning the advocacy and legacy of their forebears in the 1960's who argued the opposite and who rightly loathed, despised and abominated the 1962 books. Do you think that Evelyn Waugh would have admired Marcel Lefebvre?
Before the expulsions of the "Naughty Nine" from the $$PX in 1983 (because of their adherence to pre-1962 liturgical praxis), and the subsequent decree Quattuor Abhinc Annos, traditionalists everywhere (except in a few sundered chapels in the $$PX) were happily, rightly, doing pre-1962 and arguing for their cause on grounds of immemorial custom. Since the negotiations between the $$PX and Rome, however, there has been a round-about turn and complete inversion of the traditional resistance. Where before the traditionalists were, in a certain sense, dissident and openly rejected the reforms of Pius XII and Paul VI, at least in the last ten years they were Rome's most ardent sycophants; a sycophancy which became nauseating during the pontificate of Benedict XVI and has now turned into a kind of passive-aggressive contempt in the happy reign of good ol' Francis, a man who by all appearances couldn't give a damn about liturgy.

But didn't they all go on about Benedict XVI! He only had to don a floral cope and a bit of lace and it was "living tradition," "brick by brick," and don't let's forget "organic development" in action. Never mind the rite itself and that these affectations were all arbitrary, inconsistent and in some respects aliturgical! But I think it's telling that this "doctor of the liturgy" never once celebrated the "extraordinary form" publicly, nor ever wore the papal tiara, and celebrated the rite of Paul VI more in Italian than in Latin.

But to return to the question of "organic development," essentially the history of liturgy-by-decree since the 1570's disproves this whole concept and whether or not you attribute malice, incompetence or the exercise of "apostolic" authority for its own sake to that culture of legal positivism is irrelevant. To put it crudely, the whole system has been buggered for centuries. Dr Joseph Shaw once defined traditionalism as the desire of faithful Catholics to live in organic continuity with previous generations of Catholics. Fair enough, then I too am a traditionalist; yea, and more than the proud ones with their obnoxious rite! Evelyn Waugh was a traditionalist; so too was Tolkien, but they do not speak for modern generations of traditionalists and can only be made to by retrospective appropriation. Waugh had the 1962 books in mind when he spoke of the "triumph of the liturgists." Tolkien had the the Pacelli Palm Sunday service in mind when he complained that "the antient form, so long established, would never be seen again," (I went to great lengths to uncover that unpublished letter from March 1956).

I entreat you all earnestly to forever put aside the liturgical books of 1962 as deliberate policy. They have proven to be divisive in the past, even before I was born; they have proven divisive in my personal experience, and they will prove divisive whithersoever they go. They are bethought of an agenda of systematic reform and destruction; they have no liturgical or aesthetic worth and they ought to be regarded as an aberration. Put aside this idea of "organic development" up to the Council but no further! Put aside your admiration of the Lefebvrists! They are wayward and the enemies of Christ's Church! And finally, Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

In a few words...

What happened in the $$PX in 1983 [with the expulsion of the "Naughty Nine"] shews how divisive and destructive of unity the liturgical books of 1962 really are.

Quid plura dicam?

Húrin and Morwen...

"The night sentinels saw him, but they were filled with dread, so that they did not dare to move or cry out; for they thought that they saw a ghost out of some old battle-mound that walked with darkness about it. And for many days after men feared to be near the Crossings at night, save in great company and with fire kindled.

"But Húrin passed on, and at evening of the sixth day he came at last to the place of the burning of Glaurung, and saw the tall stone standing near the brink of Cabed Naeramarth.

"But Húrin did not look at the stone, for he knew what was written there, and his eyes had seen that he was not alone. Sitting in the shadow of the stone there was a figure bent over its knees. Some homeless wanderer broken with age it seemed, too wayworn to heed his coming; but its rags were the remnants of a woman's garb. At length as Húrin stood there silent she cast back her tattered hood and lifted up her face slowly, haggard and hungry as a long-hunted wolf. Grey she was, sharp-nosed with broken teeth, and with a lean hand she clawed at the cloak upon her breast. But suddenly her eyes looked into his, and then Húrin knew her; for though they were wild now and full of fear, a light still gleamed in them hard to endure: the elven-light that long ago had earned her her name, Eðelwen, proudest of mortal women in the days of old.

'"Eðelwen! Eðelwen!' Húrin cried; and she rose and stumbled forward, and he caught her in his arms.
"'You come at last,' she said. 'I have waited too long.'
"'It was a dark road. I have come as I could,' he answered.
"'But you are late,' she said, 'too late. They are lost.'
"'I know,' he said. 'But thou art not.'
"'Almost,' she said. 'I am spent utterly. I shall go with the sun. They are lost.' She clutched at his cloak. 'Little time is left,' she said. 'If you know, tell me! How did she find him?'

"But Húrin did not answer, and he sat beside the stone with Morwen in his arms; and they did not speak again. The sun went down, and Morwen sighed and clasped his hand and was still; and Húrin knew that she had died.

"So passed Morwen the proud and fair; and Húrin looked down at her in the twilight, and it seemed that the lines of grief and cruel hardship were smoothed away. Cold and pale and stern was her face. 'She was not conquered,' he said; and he closed her eyes, and sat on unmoving beside her as night drew down. The waters of Cabed Naeramarth roared on, but he heard no sound and saw nothing, and he felt nothing, for his heart was stone within him, and he thought that he would sit there until he too died." (The History of Middle-earth, Volume XI, Part III).

I'm glad that Tolkien decided to have Húrin and Morwen meet again. The original Quenta (1930) told that Morwen read the stone and then died but a penciled note in the margin says: "Some fate of Morwen must be devised. Did Morwen and Húrin meet again?" Originally, Tolkien had intended that Túrin meet Morwen in her wandering but this was abandoned.

Eðelwen, the name given to Morwen in her youth, was abandoned in favour of Edhelwen, and eventually Eledhwen. It can be rendered "elf-sheen" into English. It is from the Old English ælfscīene, which means of elven beauty.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong...

This is very unclear. "The Holy Week Ceremonies will be conducted in full according to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman rite from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday." What is the Usus Antiquior? I ask because this means different things to different people. Some use it to mean whatever hybrid rite they deem suitable on a whim; others use the term to disguise the fact that they might be performing rites not authorised by Summorum Pontificum, as I often encountered in Traddieland; others might just be doing post-1956. But with this lack of clarity, what happens if somebody travels all that way for the true Roman holy week, that is pre-1911, and expecting Miranda he is greeted by Caliban? Do you see how truly divisive the "usus antiquior" is? And, when it comes to Holy Week, please do not accuse me of liturgical fetishism. Nobody who knows anything at all about these deep matters can deny that Pius XII really bulldozed much that was venerable and sacred in these rites and replaced it with some of the worst abuses and prototypes for the later general reforms.

The schedule speaks of fullness. Well, I'll be the judge of that. It doesn't look to me as if they've a very full liturgical schedule planned. Low Mass on Palm Sunday? They're really pulling the stops out here! I'm guessing the celebrant will be in a vermilion cope with gold braid for what's left of the blessing of palms and the procession? Unveiled processional cross? The people waving unblessed palm branches? Hymns to Christ the King? Is that really worth attending?

Nothing at all on Monday. Monday in Holy Week has some very fine, very old proper responsories for Mattins and the Collect is comforting, begging God that we might breathe again (respiremus) after the Great Fast. Nothing on Tuesday either, despite the ceremony of the Passion gospellers. No Mass on Wednesday? What about St Luke's Passion? I'm assuming everything will be done '62 fashion, so why is Tenebrae at the wrong time? Wrong psalmody at Lauds, following the Sarto reformation, and a bunch of Miserere's cut out.

It gets worse, though! Mass of the LORD's Supper at 4:30pm! With the Mandatum after the Gospel!
I could be wrong but I thought that Christ washed the feet of the Disciples after they had supped but clearly the infallible magisterium trumps all. If they can procure a high Mass for the occasion the ministers might like to exchange the kiss of peace too? Tenebrae at the wrong time again.

"Solemn Afternoon Liturgy?" Well, we won't go on about Mass of the Afore-Hallowed Gifts and how what Pius XII did to Good Friday rivals Palm Sunday for sheer atrocity, but I'm guessing they've moved the time so that nobody has to go very far for Tenebrae, again at the wrong time? What about the Hours? They can easily be monotoned but they're not on the schedule.

I can see the Paschal Vigil on the schedule, which is earlier than is the custom among Traddies at five o'clock, but I can't see the most important liturgy in the entire liturgical year advertised. Where is Paschal Mattins and Lauds? I can see no point in doing Tenebrae three days in a row and then...ah yes, the infallible magisterium has abolished Paschal Mattins in a very clear restatement of its long adherence to Apostolic Tradition.

I've never been to this shrine/church but judging by these impious rites I doubt I ever will. But it would interest me no end to find out why traditionalists think 1962 is so important, and for what reason they go on about their idea of tradition so shrilly. I mean, if the authority of the pope and procurement of the transubstantiated sacrament are all that really matters in religion, why bother with all the embellishments? I've heard it argued before that the reason 1962 is "okay" as far as traditionalists is concerned is because the Mass rite is largely in tact, and bollocks to the Office; it's irrelevant. Following this argument to its conclusion, surely all ceremonies are then just growths and tumours, completely superfluous to the faith and to be cut away by the infallible magisterium? Why bother having a procession of palms at all, or blessing the waters? Why not just have thrice daily low Masses with sermons composed entirely of infallible papal decrees, with no differentiation between any day in the liturgical year? Why not ditch the kalendar altogether and just have votive offices based around the month of Joseph, the month of Mary, etc?

The idea that tradition depends upon this one man seems to me to be a complete inversion of the honest desire for right worship and dignity therein. If you content yourself with and rely upon what is allowed you by an incompetent ecclesiastical authority as opposed to relying on custom and long tradition of orthopraxis then, I'm sorry but your faith is completely spurious and you have replaced Christ our LORD with something or someone else.

Ugly women...

Whom God abandons demons enter in...

There are some deep-seated psychological problems going on here; psychosexual inversion; not to mention the self-evident physical abnormalities. One of them looks like she has Down Syndrome. What do they all have in common? They're all priestesses in various "Christian" confessions. In the Papal communion, which (as yet) does not confer Orders on women, these types of women are quite prominent too. They just slither like serpents into other areas where it is more fitting for men. I have not yet instigated a male-only comments policy for Liturgiae Causa, but I may do in time.

Warts and all...

I met this one (right) in Brighton. She is a minister in the "Metropolitan Community Church," which caters exclusively for homosexuals. In my liberal darkness, when I became involved with a certain bishop, we all went to a field with a large cross to take part in some wishy-washy, ecumenical prayers-and-hymns service on Good Friday. "She" spoke to the bishop afterwards and expressed hope and gratitude that, ministering as she does in England's gay mecca, her congregation was growing. Needless to say I heeded her no more than a worm in the mud. She looks more like a man than I do!

We used to call them Mongs.

Women who express any theological or liturgical opinion are just like these disgusting harridans as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The True Church...

I wonder what response I'll get by saying that this article penned by Gabriel Sanchez (formerly Modestinus) proves that the (Russian) Orthodox Church is the true Church of Christ; one, by the author's admission that the ROC has an high, maximalist approach to the Sacred Liturgy (the Nikonian reforms notwithstanding), in keeping with sound Tradition; and two, by highlighting the Church's open intolerance toward other Christian confessions and the Jews. Why bother with "ecumenism," with all those trite declarations and pointless ecumenical services when you can simply say, "we're the True Church. If you want salvation, come and join us. Until then, we'll just be getting on with the Sacred Liturgy in the fullest form we can contrive, according to Christ's express ordinance." And as for religious liberty, nobody has the right to believe and promote lies; why, then, tolerate it in a country where the vast majority of the members are at least nominally members of the True Church?

As for the $$PX, they ARE schismatic and if it were up to me I would re-excommunicate the three remaining bishops, all priests and seminary rectors in an instant unless they swore oaths affirming the full doctrinal integrity of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo and made provision for their seminarians to become acquainted with that rite. As it is, they do not. They do not assent to the conception the RC church has had of itself since Vatican II, whether in terms of ecumenism, religious liberty, inter-religious dialogue and in relation to the Jews. Furthermore, they are not "conservative" in matters liturgical, by any stretch of the imagination! There is no comparison between the $$PX and the ROC in terms of liturgy; none whatsoever! Nobody can maintain that there was this sudden revolution in liturgy "post-Vatican II" and then completely ignore the entire history of 20th century liturgical reform - all at papal command. The only reason the $$PX does '62 is because it enshrines their view of the Second Vatican Council, which they reject entirely (if I know the $$PX). Put simply: "before the Council = good; after the Council = bad," with no toleration of a more holistic perception. It has nothing to do with liturgical orthopraxis, conservatism or merit. The very ethos of the liturgical books of 1962 is one of reform; not a single day in the '62 kalendar bears any resemblance to a Latin rite Tradition. One argument I have encountered in favour of '62 is that the Mass rite is largely in tact. This ties conveniently in with the comparatively low, minimalist approach Rome has ever had to liturgy. Or put simply: "the Mass is salvific so we only care about sacramental validity. What of the hours of the Divine Office? That's Church of England, isn't it?! We have low Mass!" Now, I daresay, if I walked into a Russian Orthodox church with this mentality, I'd be turned out too! And rightly so!

Use of the 1962 books is a cynical sideswipe against the Second Vatican Council and enshrines a warped ecclesiology and view of liturgy. The $$PX is solely to blame for this influence in the traditionalist movement in the RCC. When the liturgical resistance began in the RCC in the 1960's (before the $$PX was founded), everybody was doing pre-1962 and arguing for their cause from immemorial custom. Geoffrey Houghton-Brown, some time chairman of the Latin Mass Society, publicly rejected the Heenan Indult (1971), which authorised use of the 1967 rite, and until 1984 pre-1962 was universal, except in some $$PX churches. Anybody who knows anything about the expulsions from the $$PX in 1983 will no doubt deplore the divisive influence the 1962 missal has ever had wherever it has reared its ugly head. Look at my own experiences at Blackfen! No consistency or integrity; just a vacuum filled by Benedict XVI, newly-dubbed "doctor of the liturgy." Tradition is completely inconsequential. They mistake prejudice for tradition and zeal for a lack of charity.

Forgive this hastily written screed.

I had quite forgotten...

This is me in Ennis, Co. Clare, in 1998. I was a champion Irish dancer in those far off days.

Like the Duke of Wellington and Iris Murdoch, I feel unsentimental about Ireland to the point of hatred. I think you need to be of Irish stock to feel this way about the tragic country, the isle of saints and a rich tradition of legends but whose chief claim to fame these days is the thick mick stereotype who gets drunk during a St Patrick's day parade. I also find the Irish language which, like C.S Lewis, I attempted to learn as a teenager, totally unattractive.

Nevertheless, if I am not serf to a Muslim lord in my dotage when English is become the language of thralls in this country, I'll probably move to Donegal, specifically to Inishowen. It is a part of the island so far north that it is largely untouched by the tawdriness of modern life.

The death of Beleg...

For the feet's fetters     then feeling in the dark
Beleg blundering     with his blade's keenness
unwary wounded     the weary flesh
of wayworn foot,     and welling blood
bedewed his hand -    too dark his magic:
that sleep profound     was sudden fathomed;
in fear woke Túrin,     and a form he guessed
o'er his body bending     with blade naked.
His death or torment     he deemed was come,
for oft had the Orcs     for evil pastime
him goaded gleeful     and gashed with knives
that they cast with cunning,     with cruel spears.
Lo! the bonds were burst     that had bound his hands:
his cry of battle     calling hoarsely
he flung him fiercely     on the foe he dreamed,
and Beleg falling     breathless earthward
was crushed beneath him.     Crazed with anguish
then seized that sword     the son of Húrin,
to his hand lying     by the help of doom;
at the throat he thrust;      through he pierced it,
that the blood was buried     in the blood-wet mould;
ere Flinding knew     what fared that night,
all was over.     With oath and curse
he bade the goblins     now guard them well,
or sup on his sword:     "Lo! the son of Húrin
is freed from his fetters."     His fancy wandered
in the camps and clearings     of the cruel Glamhoth.
Flight he sought not     at Flinding leaping
with his last laughter,     his life to sell
amid foes imagined;     but Fuilin's son
there stricken with amaze,     starting backward,
cried: "Magic of Morgoth!     A! madness damned!
with friends thou fightest!" -     then falling suddenly
the lamp o'erturned     in the leaves shrouded
that its light released     illumined pale
with its flickering flame     the face of Beleg.
Then the boles of the trees     more breathless rooted
stone-faced he stood     staring frozen
on that dreadful death,     and his deed knowing
wildeyed he gazed     with waking horror,
as in endless anguish     an image carven.
So fearful his face     that Flinding crouched
and watching him, wondering     what webs of doom
dark, remorseless,     dreadly meshed him
by the might of Morgoth;     and he mourned for him,
and for Beleg, who bow     should bend no more,
his black yew-wood     in battle twanging -
his life had winged     to its long waiting
in the halls of the Moon     o'er the hills of the sea.

Hark! he heard the horns     hooting loudly,
no ghostly laughter     of grim phantom,
no wraithlike feet     rustling dimly -
the Orcs were up;     their ears had hearkened
the cries of Túrin;     their camp was tumult,
their lust was alight     ere the last shadows
of night were lifted.    Then numb with fear
in hoarse whisper     to unhearing ears
he told his terror;     for Túrin now
with limbs loosened     leaden-eyed was bent
crouching crumpled     by the corse moveless;
nor sight nor sound     his senses knew,
and wavering words     he witless murmured,
"A! Beleg," he whispered,     "my brother-in-arms."
Though Flinding shook him,     he felt it not:
had he comprehended     he had cared little.
Then winds were wakened     in wild dungeons
where thrumming thunders     throbbed and rumbled;
storm came striding     with streaming banners
from the four corners     of the fainting world;
then the clouds were cloven     with a crash of lightning,
and slung like stones     from slings uncounted
the hurtling hail     came hissing earthward,
with deluge dark     of driving rain.
Now wafted high     now wavering far
the cries of the Glamhoth     called and hooted,
and the howls of wolves     in the heavens' roaring
was mingled mournful:     they missed their paths,
for swollen swept there     swirling torrents
down the blackening slopes,     and the slot was blind,
so that blundering back     up the beaten road
to the gates of gloom     many goblins wildered
were drowned or drawn     in Deadly Nightshade
to die in the dark;     while dawn came not,
while the storm-riders     strove and thundered
all the sunless day,     and soaked and drenched
Flinding go-Fuilin     with fear speechless
there crouched awake;     cold and lifeless
lay Beleg the bowman;     brooding dumbly
Túrin Thalion     neath the tangled thorns
sat unseeing     without sound or movement.

The dusty dunes     of Dor-na-Fauglith
hissed and spouted.     Huge rose the spires
of smoking vapour     swathed and reeking,
thick-billowing clouds     from thirst unquenched,
and dawn was kindled     dimly lurid
when a day and night     had dragged away.
The Orcs had gone,     their anger baffled,
o'er the weltering ways     weary faring
to their hopeless halls     in Hell's kingdom;
no thrall took they     Túrin Thalion -
a burden bore he     than their bonds heavier,
in despair fettered     with spirit empty
in mourning hopeless     he remained behind.
The Lay of the Children of Húrin, 1236-1337.

Changes and explanation of names in the narrative.

Flinding go-Fuilin > Gwindor son of Guilin, a Gnomish captive in Angband who witnessed the murder of his brother at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears by the soldiery of the Dark Lord.
Glamhoth > A Sindarin name for the Orcs; it means "clamorous host."
Deadly Nightshade > An allusion to the wooded highlands of Dorthonion in which, after his humiliation at Tol-in-Gaurhoth, Sauron dwelt and made there an abode of dark magic and despair.
Dor-na-Fauglith > This actually became two places; Dor Daedeloth, the Land of Morgoth or the lands far south and north of Thangorodrim which were noman lands, and Anfauglith, "the gasping dust," once the green fields of Ard Galen which fell in fair rolling pastures down from the highlands of Dorthonion ere the Battle of Sudden Flame.

This tragic part of the Narn is much in accord with later versions; the knife with which Beleg cut the bonds of thralldom from Túrin rousing him from sleep, the coming of the storm, the tumult of the orc host aroused by Túrin's cries, their flight from their encampment at the coming of the storm, Gwindor's fear at Túrin's countenance. Where it differs is the allusion to the Gnomish lamp revealing Beleg's face in death; in the Narn it was a lightning stroke of the very storm itself; and in the Narn the Orcs were not in rout but went all back to Angband and not hither and thither, some to "Hell's kingdom," others into "Deadly Nightshade."

Angband is literally Hell on earth. The physical place of the dominion of Morgoth, physically incarnate and ruling from his northern throne. At the Battle of Unnumbered Tears Gwindor, witnessing the decapitation and dismemberment of his brother, had rushed headlong into the murderers and slew them and then in his madness had riden to within the very courts of Hell, and there was taken and enslaved. The tragedy of those days is that some, by their arts, and Gwindor was among them, could escape the pits of Hell and walk again among their own people, but they were broken, bowed down and the shadow of Morgoth was on them so that they were often shunned and expelled from the sundered kindreds of Beleriand. It's said that Gwindor was as among the aged of men when he appeared again in Nargothrond and for his valour in times past was received with honour, but "Morgoth has laid my life in ruin," he said to Faelivrin.

It is the sense of reality in the text that is so appealing here. "With a deluge dark," marvellous.