30 April 2014

Deacon Nick, Mgr Loftus

Irrespective of what might look like rights and wrongs to those who (like me) don't have access to all the information, Deacon Nick's blog is to close down, because he is being obedient to his Ordinary, who has asked him to close it down.

We should be grateful to Deacon Nick for the witness he has shown hitherto, and for the witness he continues to show.

We should pray for him, and, usual suspects, you will see me propose a Twitter Novena shortly.

But as an imaginative response, why don't we combine to ask Mgr Loftus's superiors to invite him to consider the virtue of silence as well?  The Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Leeds (I assume Mgr Loftus is still incardinated in Leeds) can be contacted through the diocesan webmaster john.grady@dioceseofleeds.org.uk.  You might want to raise your concern through the editor of the "catholic" paper which publishes his heresy who can be contacted here: joseph.kelly@thecatholicuniverse.com or on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/CATHOLIC_MD or you might think that the editor of a paper sold in catholic churches ought to be equally subject to his Ordinary, in which case contact Bishop Brignall of Wrexham here: diowxm@globalnet.co.uk.

We might ask the editor of the Catholic Herald by email here: editorial@catholicherald.co.uk or on Twitter @LukeCoppen whether Fr Rollheiser has a dispensation to preach non-orthodox Catholicism from the newspaper's website.

These are just a few ideas that would allow Bishop Campbell's actions in Lancaster to be contextualised by other bishops and responsible people as pastoral activity to combat the publication of views and ideas which any Catholic might find offensive.

29 April 2014

Messing Up The Calendar

For some bizarre reason, it was thought in the time of Pius XII that making Mayday, which had been adopted by communists and socialists as their holiday, the feast of St Joseph the Worker, communism and socialism would be utterly defeated, or neutralised, or something, or at least it would give Italian men an excuse to have the day off on 1 May and walk up and down a bit.  This is the sort of thing that happens when you take the Papal States off somebody and don't define their new job properly.

The problem is that 1 May already is a feast, and an important one at that.  It is the feast of SS Philip and James, two of the twelve apostles.  So they have to be moved (they can't be ignored).  They take over 11 May. That is the feast of Pope St Alexander I in Rome (and St Francis of Jerome elsewhere, but elsewhere is expendable) so St Alexander has to be moved to 3 May, where he in turn displaces the Finding of the Holy Cross which can be merged with 14 September with the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

We talk about wreckovation of churches as a "fruit" of the Spirit of Vatican II: wreckovation of the calendar began a long time before.

25 April 2014

Very Old Bishops

H/t De la Cigoña

The oldest Bishop in the Church today is the Frenchman Leuliet, Bishop Emeritus of Amiens, who is 104.

There are two American Bishops who are 101.

There are two who are 100: one Argentine, and one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, (though he was born in Europe).

One 99 year old Italian.

Seven who are 98, and one who on 30 April will join this group. Among these is notable presence of the first cardinal on the list, the (recently named Cardinal) Loris Capovilla from Italy. 

Seven are 97 years, although, as we have said, one is about to be promoted

Three are 96, eight, 95, twelve, 94, thirteen, 93, twenty-four are 92 and seventeen are 91.

A Missing Feast That Would Have Been Missed

Tomorrow wouldn't have been celebrated this year as the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel because it falls in the Easter Octave.

But the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel has not been celebrated for many years, and won't be until we get our Calendar back.

(That was a joke, not a slogan.)

21 April 2014

Learning From The Patrimony

One of the joys of the creation of the Ordinariate for me has been the opportunity to connect to a current of thought of which I was unaware before: a corpus of liturgical history which has greatly influenced me.

I recently bought a copy of Dr Eric Mascall's Corpus Christi. It is really worth reading, not just for his beautiful English prose style (another potential gift of the Ordinariate, by the way, to those used to what English Bishops write).  I found what appears to be a photo of the author being used as a page marker: the joy of second-hand books!

I also found something published in 1953, at the very height of ultramontanism which offers a clear view of a healthy view of the relationship between Bishop and Pope, and which, it seems to me, points towards an answer to the question: how do we recover from where we are?

"To return to our previous point, The Church, as a visible and tangible society, living in the historic process, needs a visible and tangible organ of its unity, though that union is, as I have emphasised, an interior and mystical unity and not a moral or political one.  The Church is a visible and tangible society, but it is a sacramental one, and the organ of its unity will be a sacramental organ.  This is why, as I see it, the apostolic Episcopate precisely fulfils the requirements for such an organ, for the episcopal character is conferred by a sacramental act.  And this is why it seems to me impossible to locate the organ of the Church's unity in the Papacy, for the papal character is not conferred by a sacramental act at all, but by the purely administrative and organisational process of election.  Whether the Papacy has, by divine providence, a unique status in the Church and, if so, what are the functions which attach to it are, of course, important questions, but by its very constitution the Papacy does not, so far as I can see, possess the nature which is required in the organ of the Church's unity.  It might be an adequate organ if the Church's unity was the unity of an organisation; it does not seem to be adequate to the unity of a sacramental organism.  (Neither would the Episcopate be an adequate organ if it were in its essence what many people believe it to be, a merely governmental and organisational contrivance; but it is adequate if it is, as Catholic theology maintains, a reality of the sacramental order.)It is perhaps an unconscious realisation of this fact that has led the Pope to appropriate more and more exclusively to himself the episcopal character, to the detriment of his episcopal brethren.  There are, I believe, some theologians who maintain that all episcopal character primarily inheres in the Pope as universal bishop and that other bishops possess it only by delegation from him; it is certainly commonly maintained by Roman Catholic theologians that the Pope has a direct and immediate episcopal relation to every one of the faithful. I do not deny that the Pope is the successor of Peter, but the common post-Tridentine Roman attitude seems to me to make Peter not merely the Prince of the Apostles but, in effect, the only apostle.  I think the Roman Church is right in insisting that the Church is a visible and not an invisible body, but I think it has gone wrong in treating the Church's visibility as an organisational rather than as a sacramental one, and so in locating that unity in the organisational organ of the Papacy rather than in the sacramental organ of the Episcopate; and the consequence has been, as I have suggested, that the Papacy has infringed upon the Episcopate and, in the Papal Communion, has all but absorbed it. However I do not think that the remedy is for the Episcopate to claim that it is collectively what the Pope claims to be individually; that would only perpetuate the error in another form.

I would maintain, then, that as a visible reality in the historic order, the Church's unity is established in our lord's institution of the Apostolate, which is continued in the universal Episcopate; the bishop is the link between the local and the universal Church. This fact is reflected in the ancient requirement that for the consecration of a new bishop at least three bishops are normally required as consecrators; that is to say, although the diocese gathered round its bishop is the self-coherent manifestation of the Body of Christ, its perpetuation requires, at least in principle and ideally, a repeated recourse to the universal Apostolate.  This requirement, which had largely become obsolete in the West, was restored by the Church of England in the sixteenth century; it has, I gather, never been abandoned in the Eastern Church.  With the devolution of so many of the bishop's sacramental functions upon the second order of the ministry - the presbyterate - the status of the diocese, gathered round its bishop, as the organic local manifestation of the Catholic Church has, of course, become very  much obscured. It is the parish priest, rather than the bishop, round whom the faithful are normally assembled for the great liturgical action by which the Church's life is maintained, though I am told that in the small dioceses of such countries as Greece the bishop has retained more of his primitive liturgical position. Nevertheless, the sacramental functions of the presbyterate are limited and partial, and nowhere in Catholic Christendom has the bishop abandoned his status as the sole minister who can sacramentally delegate, even partially, the apostolic character to others. Every presbyter has received his partial apostolate from the hands of the bishop in the sacramental rite of ordination; while the bishop himself has received his full apostolate from those other bishops who represent the Apostolate of the universal Church.  The diocese, gathered round its bishop, is thus not merely a part of the Church of God, but is its full manifestation in a particular place.  Like the cell in a living organism, it is a coherent organic entity, yet it lives only because it coheres in the whole body.  Like the sacramental body of Christ in the Eucharist, the mystical Body of Christ which is the Church is not divided into portions by its extension in space and time; it is tota in toto, et tota in aliqua parte."

Dr Mascall makes some very interesting points here, not least in identifying the episcopate of each Bishop (I'm Catholic enough to prefer a few more capitals, by the way) and pointing out the absurdity of Bishops' Conferences having any locus in the Church.

What he also points to, however, is that the way forward will come from good Bishops who understand the Liturgy and who regulate it within their dioceses.  There is no reason why, for example, the Bishop of Dunderthorpe shouldn't authorise some of his priests - indeed a parish - to become Sarum Use parishes in accordance with the Tridentine decrees, and look to see how pre-twentieth century liturgical practice might inform the worship of his subjects.  I could imagine it rather popular: I could imagine that diocese attracting vocations; I could imagine a virtual spiral: and none of this would trespass on his brother Bishop of Withernesea who, determined to follow the practices of the recently replaced Archbishop of Los Angeles, was emptying his diocese of all worshippers under the age of 50.

There is a good reason for the Bishops to meet in Low Week.  It is a good idea to make sure that there is a coordinated Catholic response to government initiatives affecting all of England and Wales. 

But each Bishop is the successor of the Apostles.

11 April 2014

Feast Of The Seven Sorrows And A Rant

Today should have been the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the BVM, but as the readings are all in your 1962 Missals, and the St Lawrence Press blog has covered the pre-1962 here, (and I'm still as jetlagged as when I arrived at Terminal 5) I thought I'd offer some preliminary thoughts about the lost feasts.  I'll keep the series going right up to the end of the year - there are a lot more to come - but here are some first thoughts.

You will have heard enough about Bugnini from me: his ruthless, methodical, pseudo-scientific reformation of the Church's calendar was, I believe, an absolute disaster, as it divorced the new calendar from all 1900 years of development.  What I hadn't really worked out was that Pius X and Pius XII were just as enthusiastic mutilators of the calendar, and that the "simplifications" introduced by the time of the 1962 Missal had already so attacked the foundations of the calendar and, importantly, of the way the calendar governed liturgical praxis, that Bugnini was able to knock the whole structure over.  Rome had arrogated the calendar and liturgical celebration to itself, and Bishops no longer governed liturgy in their dioceses: then Rome decided to change the calendar and the liturgy.

What was wrong with the old way?  The reformers seem to have felt first that removal equalled simplification, and that simplification was a goal to be aimed for.  I am Miss Prism, I'm afraid, where mention of the Early Church goes: nothing is better, simply because the Early Church had a reduced version of what came later.  For example, you would have to argue, following the example of the Roman Canon, that the epiclesis was an innovation and should be expunged from Eucharistic Prayers.</>  (Mind you, unlike the composers of the 1967 Mass, you'd have to know something about the Early Church as well, but that is one for later, one for a book rather than a blog.)

What was removed was sold as a sort of pruning: in the garden pruning is good, because it removes unhealthy growth and allows the old stem to continually generate new shoots.  Why on earth do we think that this is a good analogy for the development of the liturgy?  In the past, the sober Roman rite formed the foundation on which an exuberant Gallican rite grew: observation of the austerity of the Roman rite led to the gradual recession of the Gallican, but not before the latter had managed to make the Roman slightly more gentle.  Cutting and chopping doesn't really happen until Pius X comes in and starts on the Breviary, but why is cutting and chopping appropriate to the Liturgy?

Pius X's aim was to reduce the load on priests: the Breviary he inherited had grown and grown over the years and he felt the load pastorally.  But instead of slashing the Breviary - casually removing the immemorial link to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem - why couldn't he have thought about making the priests' obligation more nuanced?  Couldn't some variation of: full office in monastery and collegiate church - Matins and minor hours and Vespers in big parish church - sole priest in busy parish says a reduced office but celebrates Vespers on Sundays - you get the point.  The integrity of the office could have been preserved.  Isn't this the sort of clericalism we should be wary of? 

(Actually, imagine the papolatry that underpins the acceptance of: "these are the psalms said in the Temple for centuries before the birth of Christ and said by His Church ever since He established it, but I am abolishing them because priests are too busy these days to recite them".)

And from then on all is cuts: slash and burn.  A move towards two dimensionality, cutting extra collects, cutting any last Gospel which wasn't John 1:1, and gradually introducing a flattening of the vibrant worship of the Church, which allowed Bugnini subsequently to introduce a radical two dimensionality to the calendar and to worship.  Ladies and Gentleman: Bugnini's calendar and Bugnini's Mass suffer from banality.  All the changes to the Mass before the twentieth century revolve around additions and subtractions from the original, plus the original: after the advent of Pius X comes regulation and justification for change which equates Liturgy with what weak men can do instead of allowing an eternal Liturgy to give men the strength to fulfil their part in it: we subtract rite and only add words.

Do you know what is worst of all?  That all of this started just as the laity became mainly educated and literate!  My 1890 hand Missal gives full instructions to the lay man or woman on how to work out what should be celebrated each day, and, as I think I've shown, it is really easy.  And so much easier today, with computers and printers: each week's parish Bulletin could easily contain the relevant English version of the Propers for each day of the week - indeed everything a Catholic in the pew might have needed.

I'm not a Pius V-ist: I go to Mass each weekend in the OF and rarely have the opportunity to attend an EF Mass.  But if we want to talk about liturgical renewal - and the SSPX managed to put paid to any question of serious change in my lifetime, I reckon - we need to look beyond 1962 and think about the whole question of centralised Roman control and the damage that was done during the whole of the twentieth century.

03 April 2014

Feast Of The Most Precious Blood Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

(It'll still be Friday here for quite a while.)

Today would once have been the first celebration in the year of Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the primary celebration at that time being on the First Sunday in July.  Exactly the same readings as on the Feast itself would have been said, while the propers for the fourth Friday of Lent would have been said after the propers of the Feast.

To the eyes of the rationalist, it must seem odd that there are two celebrations of the same Feast, but we can see that the Friday Feasts from Septagesima onwards are about preparing ourselves for Good Friday, while the July celebration celebrates God's gift of Himself in Communion: one leads us into the Sacrifice, the other shows us what we draw from it.

The Flying Inn: Chesterton And Benson

I blogged a while ago about The Lord Of The World: courtesy of the same wonderful juxtaposition of e-readers, out of copyright books, and the willingness of volunteers to scan, I was able to spend a long, bright afternoon of the soul (aka a flight to the East Coast of the US) reading The Flying Inn by G K Chesterton.

I don't quite understand how I have missed this book so spectacularly.  When I downloaded it, and when I opened it to read it, I assumed that I was rereading rather than starting from scratch.  But a couple of paragraphs in, I realised that this wasn't the case and that I had never read it before.

And what a read it is.

Most of the poems in the book are well known, and happily celebrate drinking and drinkers (bear that in mind: Chesterton doesn't just simply praise alcohol, but rather the way he praises the way that alcohol and balanced happy people go so well together)r.  But that's not what the book is about.

It is about the way that the UK has been taken over by a coterie of driven people and the way in which that for reasons of idleness and venality on the part of the majority, they have been able to get away with it.  In the same way as The Lord Of The World looks at the whole question of the Church in the world, and its vulnerability, The Flying Inn looks at the way in which a small and determined groupuscle can turn the laws of England upside down, without most people really understanding what has happened, or how.

Whatever will or won't be decided about whether or not GKC should be canonised, this book, like R H Benson's, shines a light on much more than the England of their day.