We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gone with the Wind

CWR: You’ve spent half your life as a Roman Catholic and half in the Episcopalian church. The Church of England—of which the Episcopalian church is an outgrowth—recently made the news by naming its first female bishop, Libby Lane. How has the Episcopalian church changed over your lifetime?

Fr. Rutler: It’s changed very significantly. It is vanishing. A few generations ago, it was the unofficial official church of the United States. It was a visible presence in the national order. It was prosperous and effective in many ways.

That’s all gone now. It doesn’t exist anymore. The remnant you see is post-Christian. It is a vivid but tragic example of what happens when you abandon a serious commitment to the teachings of Christ. Demographically, the Church of England will not exist in 20 years. Other Anglican groups outside England have been ordaining women as priests and bishops in recent years, and the result has not only been theologically chaotic but a demographic catastrophe.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Pope Benedict’s “long-term aim is not simply to allow the old and new rites to coexist,
but to move toward a ‘common rite’
that is shaped by the mutual enrichment of the two Mass forms...” – Cardinal Koch

A few years ago, those in the "know" feared the emergence of a hybrid mass (the link providing just one example). Of course, nothing along these lines came to pass. Nor is there much evidence of "mutual enrichment."

Presumably what was wanted was a simplified Roman rite, with more scripture and more vernacular components. As to the simplification part, I here jested that it already existed. But the more I thought about it ....

So, here is the Carthusian rite, Knott missalized, with extended rubrics. Much is in English, but with the Propers, Ordinary mass parts, and the Canon in Latin (or Greek). It has a simplified entrance and exit, alongside a purified offertory. Not one word was altered by me: the only change I made was the proposed inclusion of a Prophecy amongst the readings, in the rubrics.

It seems to me to meet at least some of the desiderata:

50. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance ...

51. The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's word ...

54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and "the common prayer," but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.

Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

To dream the impossible dream

I asked for this book for Christmas, received it, and immediately read straight through the first few chapters.

As usual, the only one to have truly misled me is myself. I had hoped that the analysis -- with which, in the broadest outlines, I agree -- would point the way towards some solutions. But, skimming through the remainder, I see little prospect of that. Instead the work ends only with an "impossible dream": "the complete recovery of orthodoxy and orthopraxis in Catholic life" as a mere article of faith (to be held, stoutly, in the face of all available evidence).

More correctly, I believe, the Church of Rome is now headed for actual schism: there are now (at least) two separate communities (probably three) co-existing under one, highly ignored head. In this state of affairs, there is absolutely no advantage over the old Church of England, which was an arrangement, as we know, containing three separate ecclesia (giving dominance to either tradition, scripture, or reason). Of course, neither names any circumstance that I had a hand in creating.

Instead, we remain with just three possible "solutions": (1) a traditionalism verging on apostasy; (2) the very broad tent of "reforming the reform" (whatever that means); or, finally, (3) the "re-catholicizing" side, that thinks better buildings and better music alone will perform the required trick. The first is auto-negating, the second too diffuse, and the third too optimistic.

The one redeeming feature of my reading so far is that the real problem this work locates is the disruption of extra-liturgical praxis: once Catholics no longer believed in necessary abstinence on Friday, the ultimate incompatibility of suicide and cremation, or the requirement to delay marriage until after Lent, all things became possible. The mass was, in the end, no more than an afterthought.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Old Roman

Paradox dissolved

"Mosebach's Paradox," that is.

The liturgy traditional and purified: the Carthusian Mass, with the venerable one-year lectionary, as supplemented, perhaps, with an additional Prophetical lesson.

Simplified offertory and final prayer, not by bad-ol' Archbishop Cranmer.

Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas unus Deus, obsequium servitutis meae: et praesta ut hoc sacrificium laudis, quod indignus in conspectu divinae majestatis tuae obtuli, tibi sit placens: mihique et omnibus, pro quibus illus obtuli, sit te miserante propitabile in vitam aeternam. Amen.


This will be the tenth Christmas since my father passed away. I suppose everyone misses deceased family members most this time of year; I know I do. My father loved Christmas! I sometimes wonder, in fact, what impact his larger-than-life celebrations of the birth of Christ had on the faith of his nine children, each of whom continues to practice the old Faith to this day. He believed that, just as Advent—the “mini-Lent”—was to be kept well, with plenty of spiritual and corporal works of mercy, so too should Christmas be fêted with all the merrymaking and gusto a Catholic family can muster

He knew that children are not born theologians who can grasp the intricacies of the great mysteries of Faith at an early age. The Faith needed to be lovingly spoon-fed to them, and so the childlike customs of Christmas were for him tailor-made to instill love for the Faith before children were old enough to begin to understand it.

What a shame it is, then, to see well-meaning traditional Catholic parents discarding those customs altogether in a misguided effort to counter the commercialization of Christmas. No gift giving, no merry making, no feasting on Christmas. Alas, the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

In a dreary world where pessimism and cynicism—rather than righteousness and peace—have kissed each other, we must guard against robbing our children of the wonder and joy of Christmas—the seedbed for a child’s Faith.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Purple Wig

"I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one’s opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, and to bestow strength and courage on those on our own side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us."

― Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books

What was the point of the last two posts? You tell me. The singular thread was self-delusion. Well, here is some more on that topic, but with words by others (with the usual reference in the hyperlink). It's just the usual mashup of what others have put more precisely.

Self-delusion writ small:

But the man--tragically--had lived so long in an ivory tower that I think he both lives in a world of unattainable ideals and has failed to appreciate where most of the Church was regarding the Liturgy, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, role of the laity etc. Especially when it comes to Liturgy, Benedict's German bourgeois background comes to the fore. His style is that of an affected aristocrat wanna-be and so the faux elegance of a world of papier-mâché recreation of an ancien regime Catholicism with its eighteenth-century furnishings and pomp appeal to him. For a clue to who he is, look at his refurbishing of the papal apartments from the modern elegance of Paul VI's redecoration (which the John Paul's had retained) to the baroque decor with which Benedict surrounded himself. It is the fantasy world of the younger son of a civil servant in Weimar Germany. Now, Cardinal Burke’s affinity for dressing up like the Queen Mother betrays the fantasy world of a lonely and fatherless boy from rural Wisconsin whose mother should have taken a cue from Sheldon Cooper’s mother and “had him tested.”

Self-delusion writ large:

It does little use arguing against the liturgy of Paul VI. Rome rarely changes its mind, especially on matters that could cause it to lose face. Additionally, there is the simple matter of historical precedent. Pius X, not Paul VI, got the ball rolling on the deconstruction of the historic liturgy of Latin Christianity. This is the paradox of the current liturgical climate in the Roman Church; the debate centers around 20th century mutations of the Latin tradition that progressively divorced the Roman liturgy from the Latin tradition, the Missal of 1962 included ...

Those fixated on the Missal of 1962 often do not see how it was, in its own time, a considerable departure from the Latin liturgical tradition, nor how the 20th century reforms, beginning with Pius X, were all steps in a thoroughly accepted thesis (even within the papacy) that a comprehensive liturgical reform was desirable. Indeed, the Concilium understandably viewed itself as brining [sic] the work of Pius X to completion, so long had the discussion of a comprehensive liturgical reform floated around the halls of the Vatican. Thus, for anyone "in the know", anyone who has access to the streams of historical data or thoroughly lives in the internal Vatican culture that cultivated the prospect of liturgical reform in the 20th century, the liturgy of Paul VI is the consummation of a long process, the end point of a trajectory begun by the first "mega pope" of modern history.

Of course, a constant in this trajectory is the authority of the Roman pontiff in the context of Roman Catholic ecclesiology. The concept of the papacy that emerged in the post-Tridentine period created a figure who was scarcely answerable to anyone; in all matters, the Roman pontiff became the law himself. How the eventual definition of papal infallibility led to such a thorough disregard of the ancient Latin law of prayer remains a scarcely tapped area of research. To my knowledge, only Gregory [sic] Hull has really made any efforts in the area, although one may argue Alcuin Reid has alluded to it. Yet, this remains a serious question that Roman Catholics (responsible ones at least) and all persons concerned with the survival of the Latin tradition (or Traditional Catholicism) ought to concern themselves. The answers may well be more difficult than the question, depending upon the role the cultus of the papacy has in one's concept of the Church. 

Some people have gone stark raving mad.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sedevacantism for Anglicans

In light of the previous post, I offer the following 'fictional' account, for my fellow delusionists.

The true Cantuar performing the antient Sarum ritual
of Circumambulation of the Holy Horologium,
in better days.

After the Archbishop of Canterbury, blessed William Temple, stood in the House of Lords (on 23 March 1943), and pleaded for, of all things, the Jews of Europe, the decision was taken, at the highest levels, to eliminate him. In October of 1944, his tea was poisoned by special operatives, posing as newly installed Archdeacons, and the body swiftly cremated, to preclude the findings of an autopsy. Later, what little remained was mixed into an imposing concrete block, to prevent all future efforts at recovering DNA. Note that neither Roosevelt nor Stalin were consulted regarding these undisclosed events (despite being card-carrying members of PECUSA and PECUSSR, respectively).

The arch-Mason, Geoffrey Fisher, was duly installed and, for services rendered, eventually created a Life Peer. He published many heretical tracts, shrewdly posing as though a Catholic primate. The undoing of the true church was now well under way, commencing with the deformation of canon law (including the infamous regularizings of the unspeakable irregularities of the combined Synod of Hong Kong and Macao).

Unbeknownst to the general un-reading public,
all the pages of this tome were purposefully blank!

Well-known for his popular ecumenical pronouncements -- such as "The very worst the Bomb can do is to sweep a vast number of People from this world into the next into which they must all go anyway" -- Fisher oversaw the greatest treachery known to man, from within. Indeed, thanks to Freemasons in MI5 and the CIA, during his visit to Pope John XXIII in 1960, he was instructed to inject a weaponized form of LSD into the skin of the reigning pontiff, through his specially designed finger ring. This, it seems, resulted in the Second Vatican Council (a dissembling subterfuge, designed to convince loyal Englishmen that the Romans were, in reality, now just like us).

Since October 1944, the seat has been vacant and Lambeth Palace, formerly of the Collis Quirinalis, inhabited by many false pretenders. Therefore, you should consider worshipping exclusively at parishes staffed by faithful priests of the Society of Blessed William Laud (SBWL), the only true inheritors (and conservators) of Anglican tradition.

You know it well enough, where it doth seem
A mossy place, a Merlin's Hall, a dream;

P. S. Thanks to an Enigma machine, recently purloined from Bletchley Park, newly decoded teletypes, alongside other messages secreted in various gourds, passed between the dastardly Fisher and a special agent known only as 'A. Bugnini', will be made available -- should I live so long, Deus volens! -- in a future series of postings.

P. P. S. Eventually I hope to produce a full-fledged documentary, composed of numerous episodes, which are as stirring and compelling as, for instance, this one is.

S.O.S. Titanic

William Tighe, an inveterate and uncompromising critic of all things Anglican, has anatomized as follows:

All this twaddle about Canterbury, Canterbury, Canterbury is just evidence how, among all the “denominational” traditions of Christianity, Anglicanism is the one that most remarkably fails at the Socratic maxim of “Gnothi seauton/Know thyself” ...

The success which a small group of anti-Calvinist divines, which formed around Lancelot Andrewes at the very end of Elizabeth’s reign, and which for a long time consisted of his friends (Overall, Buckeridge), admirers (Laud, Neill) and disciples (Montague, Wrenn, Duppa) had in transforming the understanding of many “Anglicans” about the nature of the Church of England, as well as inventing the very concept of “Anglicanism” as both, and in some unique way, “Catholic and Reformed,” “Reformed” in this context meaning simply “generically Protestant, as opposed to RC,” is little short of astonishing. From being anti-Calvinist on the subjects of double predestination and church polity they went on to being anti-Reformed generally (and managed the great trick of convincing the young Prince Charles in the early 1620s that Calvinist = Puritan and Puritan = Calvinist without exception), invoking Dutch Arminians (who were in most respects, however, simnply anti-Calvinist Reformed Christians) and Lutheran theologians, before eventually finding their ground in the “consensus quinquesecularis,” the “Vincentian Canon” and the Church Fathers (the latter two always embraced rather selectively).

On this view, Anglicanism is a (long-standing, historical) delusion. To which I would respond, reject the reality, embrace the delusion. Anglicanism never was: but it ought to have been.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


As we all know, many of the untoward "innovations" of the BCP came from naughty Calvinists. Such as the Ten Commandments. But where did they garner such notions? Could it have been derived from actual catholic practice?

Vested only in surplice and stole, the priest addresses the congregation directly, in the vernacular.

Who knows? Who cares?

Sunday, December 7, 2014


The reason why Anglo-catholics in 1970 went for modern language was quite simple. The moderates saw in the new Order (Series III then Rite A) an ecumenical consensus emerging, aided by the ICET/ELLC texts. The papalists saw in the new Order sufficient similarity to the Novus Ordo for them to proceed with a more extreme (but arguably no less ecumenical) agenda. Some presented their congregations with the Roman Mass but with an Anglican Eucharistic Prayer (usually the crypto-Hippolytan but sometimes the Interim Rite version). Others presented their congregations with the Anglican liturgy but with a Roman Eucharistic Prayer (usually II or III). There were reasons for both policies. The extremists (forgive the lingo) simply moved lock, stock, and smoking barrel to Roman liturgy.

In Chicago, in the 1970s and 80s, the Church of the Ascension

used "Rite II" (contemporary language) exclusively at high mass

and was more than happy to throw in versus populum, when needed.

At that time, I loved that dark little church. But I was informed that, even with these accommodations to modernity, they were still doing it all wrong by the first real Anglo-Papalist priest I ever met. Assigned to a small parish in the western suburbs, between 1972 and 1982, he convinced the Bishop of Chicago to allow him to use "the Western Rite," which meant full-blown Novus Ordo. So here was one of the "extremists" alluded to above. (None of this seems to have survived his tenure and I am led to believe that he eventually became a RC layman.)

That was more than thirty years ago. Ascension is now "AffCath" and the small suburban parish (that I am not naming) now looks like this.

The Ordinariate has rightly left all this behind. Today, it's all "mixed nuts" for the remainder of the Communion.

The rest of us? Out in the cold. For good, it seems. And so, back to basics.

I'm now only interested in what no modern church wants.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Iron uniformity

LC has some good posts (here and there). The first quotes from Wickham-Legg and this inspires me to reproduce another, extended excerpt from its conclusion:

The practical lesson which the study of these ancient customs teaches us is the caution which we should use in forming a judgment as to the source of the practices which some of us are old enough to remember in our youth. They are not all due to Puritan neglect, "the soft, easy, and comfortable pillow which ignorance and indifference make for a well-disposed head"; but many of them are part of the inheritance which has come down to us from our medieval forefathers. Sometimes we have suffered reproaches for belonging to a communion in which such slovenly practices could be found; just as we have been told that the Sundays after Trinity were brought in by Queen Elizabeth, instead of Sundays after Pentecost; whereas Trinity comes straight from the Sarum Missal, and may be found in many medieval German and French missals ; and even to this day in the Dominican Breviary. Now the Middle Ages are thought to have been unrivalled in the dignity of their worship, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in customs which trace their lineage back to so noble a time. Indeed it is to the middle ages that the Prayer Book bids us look for our ecclesiology. It declares that "the chancels shall remain as they have done in times past," that is, in the times which went before the edition of 1552. So that as a general rule we may take as safe guides medieval customs in ecclesiology, and also in ritual when not opposed to the present rubrics of the Prayer Book. Now the earlier ecclesiologists thought they might gain some knowledge of the customs of the middle ages by a study of modern Roman practices, receiving the assertion that Rome never alters with a too confiding generosity; and accordingly they proceeded to change some of the inherited medieval customs in accordance with the dictates of modern Rome. But from modern Rome we can learn next to nothing of the practices of the middle ages. A very little study soon convinces us of the deep division there is between the practice of modern Rome and of medieval England, and that modern Rome will only lead us astray if we trust to its liturgical decisions. Because a practice is Roman, it is not therefore of necessity good, or ancient, or Catholic. In the first place, the liturgy of modern Rome is the liturgy of the Franciscan Friars, while that of the national medieval Churches is the old Liturgy which was used in the parish churches of Rome before the days of Nicholas III. Theologians often tell us of the mischief which these Friars have caused in their science, and to philosophy; and the harm they have done in ecclesiology is certain. They are credited with the introduction of the Stations of the Cross, which even Mrs. Jameson can see set forth unworthy ideas. Further, how little of antiquity remains in practice in the Roman Communion may soon be gathered by those who will attend a few popular functions. Liturgical services, with the exception of the Mass, have well-nigh disappeared; and the seasons of the Christian Year, which we prize so much, are but little thought of. Lent has given way to the month of Joseph; Easter and Whitsuntide are swallowed up in the month of Mary and the Sacred Heart. A distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society told me that the only sign by which he now knew of the presence of Whitsuntide was the red colour of the vestments. If then the more conservative in the Roman Communion have been unable to save from the wreck the Breviary services and the Christian seasons, are they likely to have kept anything ancient in such comparatively unimportant things as the details of the ornamentation of the altar? They are rather likely to have been overwhelmed by the Oratorianism which, in the early days of the ecclesiological movement, was shown to be destructive of a scientific ecclesiology. As in Germany, in philosophy, the cry has been of late years Back to Kant, so in ecclesiology I am sure we must raise the cry of Back to Pugin, to the principles which Pugin advocated; we must throw away the worldly spirit of the Renaissance, and take our inspiration from the Middle Ages, remembering the direction of the Prayer Book that the chancels shall remain as in times past, and holding fast to a medieval liberty of practice as contrasted with the attempts of the Congregation of Rites to establish all over the world the iron uniformity which is the aspiration in most things of the nineteenth century. The end of this paper will have been attained if I should succeed in persuading some ecclesiologists that all that is Roman is not ancient, and all that is English is not Puritan.

As he proclaims earlier in the same piece, we do not want our sanctuaries "decorated" by the soft-hearted:

A dislike of the excessive ornamentation of the altar is not peculiar to Protestants. "How far the altar ought to be ornamented is a question which has been debated with much warmth since the reformation ... The Church of England, when not overawed by the clamors of the sectaries that assail her on all sides, is inclined to favour the practice," says a learned Roman Catholic clergyman, well known in his own day, and he adds that "the Roman Basilican altars, unencumbered with tabernacles, reliquaries, statues, or flower pots, support a cross and six candlesticks; furniture which is sufficient without doubt for all purposes of solemnity, and yet may be endured even by a Puritan. The other ornaments, or rather superfluities, which are too often observed to load the altars of Catholic Churches, owe their introduction to the fond devotion of nuns or nun-like friars, and may be tolerated in their conventual oratories as the toys and playthings of that harmless race, but never allowed to disfigure the simplicity of parochial churches and cathedrals." And in almost the same words, Bocquillot denounces the presence of images, relics, gradins, candlesticks, and flowers on the table of the altar: "Since the nuns, with a piety more worthy of their sex than of the solemnity of our mysteries, have begun to set pots of natural and artificial flowers on the altar, their example has been followed in the churches of the Mendicant Friars, and in country parish churches, where usually devout women tend the altars. This new usage, which I should call scandalous if the Church did not suffer it, has not yet been introduced into cathedral and collegiate churches, nor into those of the monks, at least of those who have any care to keep up old customs. The old customs should be preserved wherever the new have not yet been introduced, determined with the Holy Fathers, that the Holy Table is consecrated solely for the sacrifice, and that nothing superfluous should be set on it."

The old customs.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Norse logic

A possible answer to the question: Why St. Clement?

23 November is the feast of St Clement, the first-century pope and martyr who was, rather incongruously, a favourite saint with Vikings. (He was martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea, therefore he is often shown with an anchor, therefore he is the patron of seafarers, and therefore of Vikings. Impeccable logic!) This is only tangentially related to the subject of today's post, but it is one of my favourite Viking facts; it probably accounts for the dedication of St Clement Danes in London, St Clement's here in Oxford, and many churches dedicated to St Clement in the former Danelaw.

So much to know and so little time.


It is of the essence of reading that one proceed in such a way as to be really open to not finding there what one expects to find, what one has in fact surreptitiously substituted for what was actually there, to be discovered, had one been properly receptive. As Heidegger phrases it, one should be open to undergoing an experience with the unexpected.

Of course, a word must also be said for not wasting one's time reading what is not worth reading. So when the NLM tells me about a book which avows

For most of the early Christians it was a given: the Book of Revelation was incomprehensible apart from the liturgy ... It was only when I began attending Mass that the many parts of this puzzling book suddenly began to fall into place. Before long, I could see the sense in ... the prominence it gives to the Blessed Virgin Mary (12:1-6) ....

I say to myself: not to be perused.

Where did this idea come from? Could it be bad liturgical revision?

I heard Signum Magnum sung for five years in a row, to my sorrow. The new Introit is taken from the Apocalypse of St John and is entirely irrelevant to the feast. What does a woman clothed with the sun have to do with Our Lady's death?

What indeed? Even the USCCB avers, in its commentary, that

* [12:1] The woman adorned with the sun, the moon, and the stars (images taken from Gn 37:9–10) symbolizes God’s people in the Old and the New Testament. The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah (Rev 12:5) and then became the new Israel, the church, which suffers persecution by the dragon (Rev 12:6, 13–17); cf. Is 50:1; 66:7; Jer 50:12.

Now, of course, a good image is simply not accessible by one, simplistic metaphoric gloss. It must have many, possibly contradictory, meanings. But, on the other hand, not all things are possible.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The bare minimum

If you go to almost any parish church, one will discover lay readers, extraordinary ministers of various stripes, and even, sorry to say, liturgical dancerettes. And now, in the new, new world, "female acolytes" (actually, female altar servers).

But have you ever met an actual, instituted acolyte or lector? How about abolishing everything else and admitting only two lay liturgical ministries (reserved for men over the age of eighteen).

  • Acolyte = (straw) Subdeacon
  • Lector = Parish Clerk/MC

Both would wear amice, alb, and cincture (with no maniple) -- tunics even, in non-penitential seasons. These could be of a very simple design, if desired.

This would bring both contemporary theory and primitive practice into line (and abolish eccentricities).

As a craven Anglican, I would also allow one lay pastoral ministry for women -- Deaconess -- so long as it would keep them out of the sanctuary. But, of course, fat chance of this or any other improvements being actually forthcoming, as we descend, instead, into anarchy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Good grief

Over at the NLM:

It is no exaggeration to say that there is a fundamentally false view out there, very popular nowadays, as captured in this paragraph from Whispers from the Loggia of November 24:

The office’s [i.e., Congregation for Divine Worship’s] new mission is likely to hew closer to Francis’ own liturgical approach—as one op summarized its principles: “Go by the book. Don’t make a fuss about it. And remember that liturgy’s always a means to an end—not an end in itself.

That’s the error in a nutshell: the liturgy is a means, not an end. I don't know who Rocco's "op" was, but I sure hope he isn't your bishop or pastor. The worst day that can dawn for any Catholic is a day on which the priest celebrating the Mass takes it into his head that what he's doing is just a means to some further end.


What is one to say? We are referred to the words of Paul VI. But what do those words say and what do they mean? (My emphases.)

Point One: It's complicated.

For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished," most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek.

Point Two: Priests are tools.

To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" [20], but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church ...

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

Point Three: No 'action' or 'work' can possibly be an end-in-itself -- all are, by definition, means to some further end.

Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's supper ...

From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way.

But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

Point Four: The 'work' is necessarily communal, demanding participation, which requires understanding.

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

Hence the need for a "restoration" whereby "both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify." It may be the highest action but it is nonetheless action. If, indeed, this rite was an end-in-itself, this would not be necessary. But it is (and we have been saying it for almost half a millennium now). Welcome to the real world. Or not.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Third Way

Let's face facts: "Anglo-Catholicism" in the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and, now, 21st century has applied to radically different impulses. By the standards of the last century, I am closest to the "Prayer Book Catholic" or "English Use" movements: but neither of these two possibilities still exist. They are both as dead as the proverbial doornail.

So, there is a good article from which I would like to springboard to a slightly different take. There are three remaining motives for "a-c" (now, lower-case):

  1. Romanitas I: These are the people who longed for corporate reunion with Rome (and hence tended strictly to follow Rome, adopting whatever was the flavour of the month). They are now all either RCs or in the Ordinariate. These people have my respect because they are either logically consistent or willing to subordinate themselves to the higher goal of Christian unity.
  2. Romanitas II: These are the only sorts still found in the Communion (or the Continuum): "AffCaths." They ape Rome but they cannot be Roman, almost exclusively for obvious moral irregularities, as accurately described in the aforementioned article:

    Some of the folks I know who fall into this category started out in the Roman Catholic Church but departed; others started out in some form of low protestant Evangelicalism and in their way up the candle stopped in the high section of the Episcopal Church. One priest I know started out in an Assemblies of God type tradition and began moving in a Rome-ward direction. However, now divorced and in a same-sex relationship, there is no way that he could be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, he remains Episcopal, but assimilates as closely as possible to Roman theology and practice. I know several who were ordained Roman Catholic clergy who switched and are now married whether to different or same-sex partners. A number of formerly Roman Catholic women and divorced people also appear in this group.

    These people have my contempt because they are logically inconsistent (or just outright incoherent) and simply have found a strange perch from which to preen their borrowed feathers (usually "they have no real desire to be Anglican or Episcopalian; it’s just the next best thing to what they truly desire").

  3. The Third Way: This doesn't have a catchy name. It is a rare and obscure beast. One attempt:

    The Historical Approach rejects a narrow sense of Anglican identity and the notion that Christianity began at the Reformation. The Historical Approach see Anglicanism as a purification of the catholic tradition and, in particular, is interested in the practices, theologies, and spirituality that informed the English church prior to the Reformation [my emphases]. This Approach is interested in reconnecting with broader Christianity but tends to look “back” rather than “across” as in the Ecumenical Approach.

Only the last has any remaining claim to the name of Anglican: the first have formally crossed the Tiber (and the barque of St. Peter has left the port) and the second are mere crossdressers who are simply exploiting the lack of any real disciplinary boundaries. In a sense, I'm not fond of 'historical' because that opens into the old 'British Museum' insult; yet, the interest in history is to inform present practice and because "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Here we are not "borrowers" (who never repay) but rather rag-pickers on the junk heap of history. We are picking up what others have wilfully discarded (and that includes Sarum and all the rest). Nor are we interested in cold uniformity but rather in a marvellous diversity of living forms.

Call it "renovationism" or "reconstructionism" or whatever you like. The goal is not formal closure (i.e., absolute consistency) but rather living "openings": the crossing and reconnecting of different but related streams (as per the title of this blog). It is about life (and health), not death.

The origins of Anglicanism are indeed horrific. Neither in theory or in practice can we claim to have a monopoly on purity or truth. Institutionally speaking, there was never any 'golden age' -- only individuals who sought to make things right. And so it remains. It is simply not a matter of "groups."

Post scriptum: Unlike the author of the post, I do not support WO or SS (as the past will not support these but neither will it, properly interpreted, support hate either).

Friday, November 21, 2014


In the Leofric missal, there are four Marian feasts:

  • The Purification (Fourth Century)
  • The Annunciation (Seventh Century)
  • The Assumption (Eighth Century)
  • The Nativity (Seventh Century)

For the Purification, the mass is Suscepimus Deus. But for the Annunciation it is Rorate Coeli and the next two are virtually identical:

  • Introit: Gaudeamus omnes/Eructavit (Assumption) & Gaudeamus omnes/Exultate iusti (Nativity)
  • Gradual: Propter veritatem/Audi filia
  • Alleluia: Adducentur
  • Offertory: Ave Maria
  • Communion: Dilexisti iustitiam

Clear signs of this schema are found in the old Roman mass for the Assumption

but is much less apparent in that for the Nativity.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Priests are tools

No, not in the sense satirized here (H/t: Liturgiae Causa). I mean rather that they are pure instrumentalities: they are of no interest in themselves but only arouse our gaze in so far as they fulfil a unique, representative function.

Over at NLM, they are on and on about some new book that seems to have pillaged a cartload of traditional pamphlets. But is this teaching the Catholic faith or propagandizing a new generation of unknowers? Take this image (click to enlarge), for just one example:

Under "Adoration," the text reads: "The sacrifice of God's only Son is the only truly worthy gift we can offer Him in honor and adoration." Um, cart before horse? Shouldn't that read: "Because we have no gift to give that is truly worthy of God, his Son had to offer himself for our redemption and that of the whole world"? It is this offering -- not ours -- that is recapitulated in the Eucharist.

I don't know if the following has any real standing but I can roundly affirm the main points in the excerpt, given below:

St. Thomas insists on another capital point of doctrine: The principal priest who actually offers the Mass is Christ Himself, of whom the celebrant is but the instrumental minister [my emphases], a minister who at the moment of consecration does not speak in his own name, nor even precisely in the name of the Church, [942] but in the name of the Savior "always living to intercede for us." [943].

Let us hear some further texts of St. Thomas. This sacrament is so elevated that it must be accomplished by Christ in person. [944] And again: In the prayers of the Mass the priest indeed speaks in the person of the Church, which is the Eucharistic unity; but in the sacramental consecration he speaks in the person of Christ, whom by the power of ordination he represents. [945] When he baptizes, he says "I baptize thee": when he absolves, he says "I absolve thee"; but when he consecrates, he says, not "I consecrate this bread," but, "This is My body." [946] And when he says "Hoc est corpus meum," he does not say these words as mere historical statement, but as efficient formula which produces what it signifies, transubstantiation, namely, and the Real Presence. But it is Christ Himself who, by the voice and ministry of the celebrant, performs this substantiating consecration, which is always valid, however personally unworthy the celebrant may be. [947] ...

Substantially, then, the Sacrifice of the Mass does not differ from the sacrifice of the cross, since in each we have, not only the same victim, but also the same priest who does the actual offering, though the mode of the immolation differs, one being bloody and physical, the other non-bloody and sacramental. Hence Christ's act of offering the Mass, while it is neither dolorous nor meritorious (since He is no longer viator): is still an act of reparative adoration, of intercession, of thanksgiving, is still the ever-loving action of His heart, is still the soul of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Communion of Saints

In Anglicanism, what we pray is what we believe. While the idea of the via media is mostly viewed as discredited, I think it deserves a second look. On both Mary and the Saints, the ACC does a very good job of explaining the numerous complexities.

Instead of "invocation," one can say "oblique invocation" or "advocation." And, really, quite a lot of the troubles come from a completely puerile conception of prayer itself. As usual, lots of theological disputes dissolve into semantics.

I like the term comprecation and am deeply appreciative that some Roman Catholics ever bothered to try and express these thorny distinctions, as follows:

Anglicanism prefers comprecation to invocation with regard to the saints. By comprecation the prayer is addressed to God asking that we may benefit by the prayers of Mary and the saints. In a devotion such as the Divine Praises Anglicanism does not say “Blessed be the Virgin Mary ” but “Blessed be God in the Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord and God. Blessed be God in the angels and saints” (Celebrating Common Prayer p 242) Anglicanism is keen to make clear distinction between veneration and adoration, between honour and worship[,] between dulia and hyperdulia. For this reason no direct prayer to Mary or any other saint is included in the official Prayer Books of the Anglican Communion. Some unofficial devotional manuals may include some for private use. In commemorating the Incarnation in the words of the Angelus many less scrupulous Anglicans are content to pray, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death” ...

Commemoration of Mary is therefore bound up within the whole package, so to speak, of the Apostolic Tradition, as articulated by the historic creeds and the Bible, with the communion of saints being a fundamental living dogma. Mary has a distinctive mention in the Creed ‘born of the Virgin Mary’ which means she cannot ever be separated or thought of apart from her Son Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate. In the words of Max Thurian of the Taize community she is ‘the Figure of the Church’. To separate her from Christ and the Church would be like children telling their mother to leave home and get lost. Some neglect of the Virgin Mary may seem a bit like that. She is essential to the Body of Christ, the community of faith. The icons, stained-glass windows, the paintings, sculptured figures and statues, and the title St Mary, given to churches, schools and colleges, are a constant reminder of her vital role in God’s work of redemption. If the church is compared to a ship Anglicanism knows that Mary Our Lady Theotokos is an essential member of the crew next to Christ the Captain. She is always on board: the ship cannot sail without her, let alone reach its destination. Thus Mary does have a vital part in Anglican ecclesiology.

--Revd Br Brian Harley SSF

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Terribilis est locus iste

The absolutely splendid propers for November 9's "The Dedication of the Basilica of Our Savior," which recently occurred, was only made a double of the second class quite late, by Pius X. But the essence of it is the old votive mass for the dedication of a church or of its anniversary. Somewhere the postcommunion was changed but here it is, essentially, in the Leofric missal (very bad scan).

Spleen et Idéal

I could say that this perfectly describes my own experiences:

I would say that to look into an antient liturgical book is like stepping into the House of Elrond, a place where tradition, regal history and the truth is enshrined forever and kept in reverent memory. Close the book and go to your church and the opposite is the case. We may piously hope for a change of days but hopes have a tendency to bear fruit in want.

But one would have to be immortal, in order to ensure that all one's work was not in vain.

My own emotion is likewise strongly akin to that of Benjamin's angel, with all of its purely restorative redolences:

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

But really, all is mere hyperbole in a world constituted of ahistorical beings such as these:

Abandon hope.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I have been studying (as a rank amateur) the Leofric Missal, which dates back to the mid-eleventh century. I should like to know much more about the state of Western Christianity before the "Great Schism."

In the Kalendar, there is a high degree of conformity with the Red Letter days of the Prayer Book. Except for the Assumption and three "foreign" saints:

Although these disappeared, think of the numerous churches named after them. It would be interesting to consider why these three were held in such high regard in England.

A side note: Early liturgical books sometimes observe the following pattern in their arrangement: Christmas to Pentecost and its octave; the votive masses; after the octave of Pentecost through Advent. Since often the first votive mass was for the Trinity and because, in the earliest tradition, the Sunday after Pentecost was vacat, one can see how the practice emerged. But there is no Trinity Sunday or Corpus Christi in the Leofric Missal. Therein, the octave of Pentecost is fully preserved.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement's.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

See ye not?

Anthony Esolen:

Let me speak for the children exposed to unutterable evils on all sides. Here is a girl at age twelve who has seen things on a screen that her grandmother could never have imagined. She is taking pictures of herself already, and making “friends” among the sons and daughters of Belial. This is happening under our very eyes. She goes to the drug store and must confront magazines for “women” blaring out their headlines about sex and what without any irony goes by the name of “beauty,” and nobody says, “Why should this be?” Who speaks up for her innocence? Where are the leaders of my Church, helping her to become a gracious and godly Christian woman, rather than a poor self-prostituted wreck, more cynical about the opposite sex at age twenty than the hardest thrice-divorced old woman would be? Who pleads for her protection? Who notices her?

Let me speak up for the young people who see the beauty of the moral law and the teachings of the Church, and who are blessed with noble aspirations, but who are given no help, none, from their listless parents, their listless churches, their crude and cynical classmates, their corrupted schools. These youths and maidens in a healthier time would be youths and maidens indeed, and when they married they would become the heart of any parish. Do we expect heroic sanctity from them? Their very friendliness will work against them. They will fall. Do you care? Many of these will eventually “shack up,” and some will leave dead children in the wake of their friendliness. Where are you? You say that they should not kill the children they have begotten, and you are right about that. So why are you shrugging and turning aside from the very habits that bring children into the world outside of the haven of marriage?

Let me speak up for the young people who do in fact follow the moral law and the teachings of the Church. Many of these are suffering intense loneliness. Have you bothered to notice? Have you considered all those young people who want to be married, who should be married, but who, because they will not play evil’s game, can find no one to marry? The girls who at age twenty-five and older have never even been asked on a date? The “men” languishing in a drawn-out adolescence? These people are among us; they are everywhere. Who gives them a passing thought? They are suffering for their faith, and no one cares. Do you care, leaders of my Church? Or do you not rather tacitly agree with their fellows who do the marital thing without being married? Do you not rather share that bemused contempt for the “old fashioned” purity they are trying to preserve?

What help do you give them? Do you not rather at every step exacerbate their suffering, when by your silence and your telling deeds you confirm in them the terrible fear that they have been played for chumps, that their own leaders do not believe, that they would have been happier in this world had they gone along with the world, and that their leaders would have smiled upon them had they done so?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coincidentia oppositorum

I don't think much of Jung (or Jungianism) but this quote is surely golden:

It is a bewildering thing in human life that the thing that causes the greatest fear is the source of the greatest wisdom. One’s greatest foolishness is one’s biggest stepping stone. No one can become a wise man without being a terrible fool. Through Eros one learns the truth, through sin we learn virtue. Meister Eckhart says one shouldn't repent too much, that the value of sin is very great. In Thaïs, Anatole France says that only a great sinner can become a great saint, the one cannot be without the other. How can man deal with the terrible paradox? He cannot say: “I will commit a sin and then shall I be a saint,” or: “I will be a fool in order to become a wise man.” The question is, what to do when put into a complete impasse. Then the dream says, in the cauldron things are cooked together, and out of the things strange to each other, irreconcilable, something new comes forth. This is obviously the answer to the paradox, the impossible impasse.

Wrong mission:

From Sed Angli.

But there is a subtext here as well, and as always, we are wary of efforts to displace the Cross from the center of our common life, as the path away from the Cross is the way of death. Later in her remarks, the Presiding Bishop commented that, “We have a dream as well, of a church walking together, doing and living justice, a church equipped and equipping all its members to do justice. We have a duty to all the members of this body, and to those beyond it who need justice. We are asked for the highest and best gift we can offer, in loving our neighbors as ourselves.” We note in this whole central statement of mission that God is absent, that the second commandment is made greater than the first.

This is something one hears too often in church: that we follow the teachings of Jesus toward social justice and equality for all. True, but woefully incomplete. As Paul writes, “we preach Christ crucified.” To do less is to preach less than the faith. In our increasingly unchurched world, where fewer and fewer people have a working knowledge of scripture, theological education — for clergy and laity alike — is more important, not less ...

One doesn’t need a tenured chair in semiotics to preach the Gospel, but a working knowledge of scripture and of what N.T. Wright calls the “faithfulness of God” are absolutely essential. The church will be nowhere preaching the thin gruel of self-serving, intellectually vacant, theologically barren cant that has been the produce of too many pulpits lo these many years. The Gospel word itself, that Christ died for the ungodly, for the unworthy, that Christ died even for you, and even for me, has made us a “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,” and why? “That you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” That is our first task — not the soup kitchen, not the quest for social justice, laudable as those things are. Without the word preached, or with the word confounded with the social goals at the heart of the Presiding Bishop’s dream, we are all just the Junior League, and not a very competent one at that. Those who have heard the word don’t need social justice preached to them: their very lives become living witness to social justice, flesh and blood sermons of a power to devastate the Presiding Bishop’s post-Christian lecturing.

Bad management:

From Tune: Kings Lynn

It is ironic that the one official seminary of a liberal church should be at the forefront of the move to reduce university faculty to peonage. Consider the direction that the TREC committee reports have taken, however, and contemplate their proposals to consolidate powers and reduce checks on those powers. This is how they want our seminaries to be run, and this is how they want the church to be run.

TREC's concern for getting things done is in plain conflict with the way church governance is set up to impede that. Voting by orders, consents to episcopal elections, the requirement to approve changes to the liturgy in successive general conventions: these are all mechanisms which slow change in the cause of greater review and consensus. Everything TREC has proposed about changing governance is in the cause of allowing action the face of objections. There's something almost Randian in their faith in forceful management, as though the Very Rev. Howard Roark and the Rt. Rev. John Galt are going to save the church once they have all those impediments to their free reign removed.

Those of us who still remember know this to be the antithesis of Anglican praxis, which of old tended indeed toward the anarchic, yet still grounded in a stubborn, charitable, practical center. We still have yet to see an ecclesiology or missiology expressed from TREC, whose language is rooted in business management. They seem to have no idea of what the business of the church might be, and indeed this amnesia seems to be a disease so widespread at the upper levels of the church as to nearly doom us. To me (and to my young adult children) it seems stupidly obvious that if the business of the church has no religious object, then there is no reason to be involved in its business, and no reason to attend to a pale non-worship of the oft-renamed god of the upper middle class intelligentsia.

No future.

Monday, November 3, 2014


The not-DUM response:

"I think there is a heartfelt desire by all of the church to keep people safe from violence," said the Rev. Steven Kelly, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, near Comerica Park in Detroit, who objected to the resolution. "However, most of those who intend violence are going to get weapons anyways, no matter what kind of legislation we pass."

Kelly, whose church features a more traditional liturgy, said he's concerned that Episcopal leaders increasingly seem more interested in a social agenda, which he said turns people off.

"The people in my congregation don't want to hear a social gospel," Kelly said. "They want to hear about grace and forgiveness and salvation, so they can go out and do the right things, rather than have something new foisted upon them every week."



1. Doctrina Romanensium: Purgatory not denied but rather the juridical "Romish doctrine" and associated Medieval abuses, e.g., Indulgentiis.

“So everyone believes in purgatory,” said Walls. “The only question is how long it lasts and how it happens.” For Walls, purgatory (or whatever you want to call it) is “a natural theological implication” that “makes sense of things that are taught in the Bible.”

2. The Big Tent: Indeed, perhaps it is generally important to go for broad alliances. I know there are Traditionalists who like the Vetus Ordo and Conservatives who can't see the point of it: but what we have in common may at this juncture be more important than what divides us ... Anomalies in the canonical situation of the SSPX may come to be seen as less significant than the witness which it bears. Perhaps those attached to the SSPX might show more openness to the sincerity of those who did not follow His Excellency Archbishop Lefebvre into a breach with what they call the "Conciliar Church". Do not forget some Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans who are not exactly fighting against us.

Reporting for battle, despite canonical anomalies.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Which mystery?

162. From what We have already explained, Venerable Brethren, it is perfectly clear how much modern writers are wanting in the genuine and true liturgical spirit who, deceived by the illusion of a higher mysticism, dare to assert that attention should be paid not to the historic Christ but to a "pneumatic" or glorified Christ. They do not hesitate to assert that a change has taken place in the piety of the faithful by dethroning, as it were, Christ from His position; since they say that the glorified Christ, who liveth and reigneth forever and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, has been overshadowed and in His place has been substituted that Christ who lived on earth. For this reason, some have gone so far as to want to remove from the churches images of the divine Redeemer suffering on the cross ...

164. Since His bitter sufferings constitute the principal mystery of our redemption, it is only fitting that the Catholic faith should give it the greatest prominence. This mystery is the very center of divine worship since the Mass represents and renews it every day and since all the sacraments are most closely united with the cross.

Which priesthood?

Had sixteenth-century Catholicism maintained the scriptural roots of patristic theology, the second problem—the exaggerated notion of Eucharistic sacrifice in which each Mass was seen as a new and unique Sacrifice of Christ to the Father—would not have been problematic. The loss of the patristic heritage and its replacement with Scholastic Theology in the thirteenth and subsequent centuries created an appalling mystique to the Mass where it was claimed that Christ died anew and again day after day upon the altars. This stands in total contradiction to the scriptures where we are told that Christ died once for all (1 Peter 3:18; Romans 6:10; Hebrews 9:28). Each Mass was seen to be in its own right a propitiatory sacrifice and each priest an Aaronic priest who offered the victim to God on behalf of the people. The priest was not seen to be a sacramental sharer in the one priesthood of the One Priest, Christ, but like the priests of the Old Law a man who approached the sacrifice in virtue of his own priesthood. (Shadows of this exaggerated—and blasphemous—claim to a particular priesthood continue to exist among some clergy today, especially those given to the pre-conciliar rites. The roots of this egoistic self-deception are psychological inadequacies that make men hide within an artificial persona that deludes them into a faux greatness that compensates for a lack of an authentic grace of knowing one’s true self in God. That is why these men usually make horrid confessors who sit in judgment rather than as channels of the compassion of Christ who was tempted in every way we are: Hebrews, 4:15.)

How many Covenants?

One. Renewed.

John Jewel:

Questionless, there can nothing be more spitefully spoken against the religion of God than to accuse it of novelty, as a new come up matter. For as there can be no change in God Himself, so ought there to be no change in His religion.

Yet, nevertheless, we wot not by what means, but we have ever seen it come so to pass from the first beginning of all, that as often as God did give but some light, and did open His truth unto men, though the truth were not only of greatest antiquity, but also from everlasting; yet of wicked men and of the adversaries was it called new-fangled and of late devised. That ungracious and bloodthirsty Haman, when he sought to procure the king Assuerus’ displeasure against the Jews, this was his accusation to him: “Thou hast here (saith he) a kind of people that useth certain new laws of their own, but stiff-necked and rebellious against all thy laws.” When Paul also began first to preach and expound the Gospel at Athens he was called a tidings-bringer of new gods, as much to say as of a new religion; “for” (said the Athenians) “may we not know of thee what new doctrine this is?” Celsus likewise, when he of set purpose wrote against Christ, to the end he might more scornfully scoff out the Gospel by the name of novelty: “What!” saith he, “hath God after so many ages now at last and so late bethought Himself?” Eusebius also writeth that Christian religion from the beginning for very spite was called νεα και ξενη, that is to say, new and strange. After like sort, these men condemn all our matters as strange and new; but they will have their own, whatsoever they are, to be praised as things of long continuance. Doing much like to the enchanters and sorcerers now-a-days, which working with devils, use to say they have their books and all their holy and hid mysteries from Athanasius, Cyprian, Moses, Abel, Adam, and from the archangel Raphael; because that their cunning, coming from such patrons and founders, might be judged the more high and holy. After the same fashion these men, because they would have their own religion, which they themselves, and that not long since, have brought forth into the world, to be the more easily and rather accepted of foolish persons, or of such as cast little whereabouts they or other do go, they are wont to say they had it from Augustine, Hierom, Chrysostom, from the Apostles, and from Christ Himself.

Full well know they that nothing is more in the people’s favour, or better liketh the common sort, than these names. But how if the things, which these men are so desirous to have seem new, be found of greatest antiquity? Contrariwise, how if all the things well-nigh which they so greatly set out with the name of antiquity, having been well and thoroughly examined, be at length found to be but new, and devised of very late? Soothly to say, no man that hath a true and right consideration would think the Jews’ laws and ceremonies to be new, for all Haman’s accusation. For they were graven in very ancient tables of most antiquity. And although many did take Christ to have swerved from Abraham and the old fathers, and to have brought in a certain new religion in His own Name, yet answered He them directly, “If ye believed Moses, ye would believe Me also,” for My doctrine is not so new as you make it: for Moses, an author of greatest antiquity, and one to whom ye give all honour, “hath spoken of Me.” Paul likewise, though the Gospel of Jesus Christ be of many counted to be but new, yet hath it (saith he) the testimony most old both of the law and Prophets. As for our doctrine which we may rightly call Christ’s catholic doctrine, it is so far off from new that God, who is above all most ancient, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hath left the same unto us in the Gospel, in the Prophets’ and Apostles’ works, being monuments of greatest age. So that no man can now think our doctrine to be new, unless the same think either the Prophets’ faith, or the Gospel, or else Christ Himself to be new.

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Litmus Test

It would be nice if "traditionalists" could find more "common ground" in rejecting "the heresies of the revisionists in ECUSA and the CofE" instead of re-animating the theological controversies of the past. From my humble perspective, one major stumbling block is the erection of a theological litmus test, as in the following:

If it only weren’t for the latter’s rejection of the claim, often attributed to Martin Luther, that justification by grace alone through faith alone “is the article by which the church stands and falls.” Because that article, to us Protestants, constitutes the essence of the Christian Gospel.

It seems quite obvious that Luther and his followers -- the Lutherans -- take a very hard line here:

The doctrine of justification by faith alone was considered by Luther and his followers as an incontrovertible dogma, as the foundation rock of the Reformation, as an "article by which the Church must stand or fall" (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesia), and which of itself would have been a sufficient cause for beginning the Reformation, as the Smalkaldic Articles emphatically declare. Thus we need not wonder when later on we see Lutheran theologians declaring that the Sola-Fides doctrine, as the principium materiale of Protestantism, deserves to be placed side by side with the doctrine of Sola-Scriptura ("Bible alone", with the exclusion of Tradition) as its principium formale — two maxims in which the contrast between Protestant and Catholic teaching reaches its highest point.

But I am no Lutheran. Nor can I affirm that this "doctrine" -- which cannot be dogma (it is not in the creeds) -- "constitutes the essence of the ... gospel" for nowhere do I find either Jesus or Paul enunciating that it alone constitutes that which is identifiable as "the good news."

If justification by faith alone was indeed “the article on which the church stands or falls,” as Reformed theology claimed, then wouldn’t we expect it to have been taught by Jesus himself, somewhere? Moreover, wouldn’t John have taught it, too? And Peter, and James? Shoot, wouldn’t Paul himself have taught the imputation of alien righteousness somewhere outside of just two of his thirteen epistles?

Having realized that I was using a few select (and hermeneutically debatable) passages from Romans and Galatians as the filter through which I understood everything else the New Testament had to say about salvation, I began to conclude that such an approach was as arbitrary as it was irresponsible. I then sought to identify a paradigm, or simple statement of the gospel, that provided more explanatory value than Sola Fide did. As I hope to unpack in more detail eventually, I have come to understand the gospel in terms of the New Covenant gift of the Spirit, procured through the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, who causes fruit to be borne in our lives by reproducing the image of the Son in the adopted children of the Father. If love of God and neighbor fulfills the law, and if the fruit of the Spirit is love, having been shed abroad by the Spirit in our hearts, then it seems to follow that the promise of the gospel is equivalent with the promise of the New Covenant that God’s law will no longer be external to the believer, but will be written upon his mind and heart, such that its righteous demands are fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. And again unsurprisingly, when I turned to the early Church fathers, and especially Augustine, it was this very understanding of the gospel that I encountered over and over again.

What is now required is a sense of mutual purpose, even if that involves the shared sacrifice of bracketing other issues.

... “disarmament,” that is, the end of polemics and counter-polemics among various conservative-to-traditional “factions” or “camps” within the Church in the interest of combatting the greater malady: liberalism (also known as “progressivism”). This means, for the time being, setting aside or suspending important and reasonable disagreements concerning liturgy, spirituality, and theology ....

And, finally, we need to be able to express ourselves as for something and not so much against something. Without common cause, we shall, nonetheless, find ourselves all sequestered together in the re-education camps of tomorrow. Let's start talking now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Losing the battle

While some liberals and conservatives believe there can be a "grand bargain" in which gay marriage is allowed and the religious freedom of dissenters is supported, George pointed out that he has long argued that could never be the case, because liberal secularism is a comprehensive doctrine in competition with other comprehensive doctrines.

"Liberal secularism," he said, "never was and never will be what the late John Rawls depicted it as being and hoped it would be, namely, a purely political doctrine, as opposed to what he called a comprehensive view (a view of human nature, meaning, dignity, and destiny) that competes with other comprehensive views.

"Nowhere is the reality of contemporary liberalism as a comprehensive doctrine, a secularist religion, more plainly on display than in the moral-cultural struggle over marriage and sexual morality. Liberal secularism will tolerate other comprehensive views so long as they present no challenge or serious threat to its own most cherished values. The Amish are probably safe. But when they do, they must be smashed, in the name, for example, of 'equality' or preventing 'dignitarian harm,' and their faithful must be reduced to a dhimmi-like status in respect of opportunities, in employment, contracting, and other areas, that, from the point of view of liberal secularist doctrine, cannot be made available to them if they refuse to conform themselves to the demands of liberal ideology."

There are some liberals, George added, that do still value religious freedom, tolerance and diversity who have spoken out against the liberals who have sought to punish or restrict the religious freedom of those who dissent from the liberal orthodoxy on marriage and sexuality. But he believes those tolerant liberals will ultimately lose their battle against intolerant liberals.

"Of course, there will be some within the liberal community, Rawlsians and others, who will try to make some room for meaningful dissent, even in practice and not just in thought and speech. And they will make various arguments, principled and practical, for why [liberals] should avoid being too draconian in its treatment of heretics and dissenters. But they will lose the battle," he said.

Theoria & Praxis

While conventional wisdom ascribes the creation of the Church of England to Henry VIII’s desire for a divorce from Katherine of Aragon, Henry was opposed to the new doctrines surrounding divorce and remarriage put forward by the Continental reformers. Henry’s four "divorces" were "annulments" granted by Archbishop Cranmer, which allowed the king to marry again. During the short reign of Henry’s son, Edward VI, divorce and remarriage were permitted, but the practice was stopped under the Catholic Queen Mary. Divorce and remarriage was illegal in civil and canon law under Queen Elizabeth, though a legal state of spousal separation was created, which nevertheless forbad remarriage while an estranged spouse was still living. However, the Rev. John Thornborough, Dean of York, was granted a separation and went on to marry a second time while his first life was still living. In 1592 he was appointed Bishop of Limerick over the objections of the Archbishop of York, Matthew Hutton, who charged the new bishop with bigamy. Bishop Thornborough was later translated to Worcester, dying in 1641.

The 1604 canons of the Church of England ruled out divorce and remarriage, though in 1670 divorce could be granted by a special act of Parliament. Until the law was abolished and divorce permitted under law in 1857, 300 civil divorces were granted by Parliament ...

Divorce and remarriage in the Episcopal Church of the USA was permitted in 1973 when General Convention lifted the prohibition against remarriage in church during the lifetime of the estranged spouse. In 1808 General Convention recommended allowing clergy to solemnize the second marriage of divorcees if they were the injured party in a divorce caused by adultery. This exception was granted formal status by the canons of the church in 1873, and over the course of the century the canons were revised to allow bishops to grant a decree of nullity. A motion to forbid all divorcees from remarrying in the church was rejected by the 1904 General Convention. Divorced and remarried clergy were uncommon, however, until the late 1950’s.

“It is a further example of the ‘Sweden-isation’ of the Church of England. Just like the Church of Sweden we are becoming progressively liberal. The Church of Sweden is no longer a church and we will soon be like that.”

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Quas primas

Now in all this discourse have I yet left out the main article of the Romish faith, and that is, the Head of the Church or Peter's Primacy; for who denieth this, denieth fidem Catholicam [The catholic faith], saith Bellarmine. That Bishops ought to be in the Church, I ever maintained it as an Apostolic institution and so the ordinance of God,contrary to the Puritans, and likewise to Bellarmine, who denies that Bishops have their jurisdiction immediately from God. (But it is no wonder he takes the Puritans' part, since Jesuits are nothing but Puritan-Papists.) And as I ever maintained the state of Bishops and the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy for order sake, so was I ever an enemy to the confused anarchy or parity of the Puritans, as well appeareth in my Basilikon Archon. Heaven is governed by order, and all the good angels there. Nay, Hell itself could not subsist without some order. And the very devils are divided into legions and have their chieftains. How can any society, then, upon earth subsist without order and degrees? And therefore I cannot enough wonder with what brazen face this Answerer could say, That I was a Puritan in Scotland and an enemy to Protestants, - I that was persecuted by Puritans there, not from my birth only, but even since four months before my birth? I that in the year of God 84 [1584] I erected Bishops and depressed all their popular parity, I then being not 18 years of age? I that in my said Book to my Son do speak ten times more bitterly of them nor of the Papists, having in my second edition thereof affixed a long Apologetic Preface, only in odium Puritanorum? And I that for the space of six years before my coming into England laboured nothing so much as to depress their parity and re-erect Bishops again? Nay, if the daily commentaries of my life and actions in Scotland were written (as Julius Caesar's were) there would scarcely a month pass in all my life, since my entering into the thirteenth year of my age, wherein some accident or other would not convince the Cardinal of a lie in this point. And surely I give a fair commendation to the Puritans in that place of my book, where I affirm that I have found greater honesty with the highland and border thieves than with that sort of people. But leaving him to his own impudence, I return to my purpose.

Of Bishops and Church Hierarchy I very well allow (as I said before) and likewise of ranks and degrees amongst bishops. Patriarchs I know were in the time of the Primitive Church, and I likewise reverence that institution for order sake; and amongst them was a contention for the first place. And for myself (if that were yet the question) I would with all my heart give my consent that the Bishop of Rome should have the first seat; I being a Western King would go with the Patriarch of the West. And for his temporal principality over the Signory of Rome, I do not quarrel it either. Let him in God His Name be Primus Episcopus inter omnes Episcopos ["first bishop among all bishops"], and Princeps Episcoporum [Prince of bishops] so it be no otherwise but as Peter was Princeps Apostolorum. But as I well allow of the hierarchy of the Church for distinction of orders (for so I understand it), so I utterly deny that there is an earthly Monarch thereof, whose word must be a law, and who cannot err in his sentence, by an Infallibility of Spirit. Because earthly Kingdoms must have earthly Monarchs, it doth not follow that the Church must have a visible Monarch too. For the world hath not one earthly temporal Monarch. Christ is His Church's Monarch, and the Holy Ghost His Deputy, Reges Gentium dominants eorum, vos autem non sic. Christ did not promise before His Ascension to leave Peter with them to direct and instruct them in all things. But He promised to send the Holy Ghost unto them for that end.

And as for these two before cited places, whereby Bellarmine maketh the Pope to triumph over kings, I mean Pasce oves and Tibi dabo claves, the Cardinal knows well enough that the same words of Tibi dabo are in another place spoken by Christ in the plural number. And he likewise knows what reason the ancients do give why Christ bade Peter pascere oves, and also what a cloud of witnesses there is, both of ancients, and even of late Popish writers, yea divers Cardinals, that do all agree, that both these speeches used to Peter were meant to all the Apostles represented in his person. Otherwise, how could Paul direct the Church of Corinth to excommunicate the incestuous person cum spiritu suo, whereas he should then have said, cum spiritu Petri? And how could all the Apostles have otherwise used all their censures only in Christ's Name, and never a word of His Vicar? Peter, we read, did in all the Apostles' meetings sit amongst them as one of their number. And when chosen men were sent to Antiochia from that great Apostolic Council at Jerusalem (Acts xv), the text saith, It seemed good to the Apostles and Elders with the whole Church to send chosen men; but no mention made of the Head thereof. And so in their Letters no mention is made of Peter, but only of the Apostles, Elders, and Brethren. And it is a wonder why Paul rebuketh the Church of Corinth for making exception of persons, because some followed Paul, some Apollos, some Cephas, if Peter was their visible Head! For then those that followed not Peter or Cephas renounced the Catholic Faith. But it appeareth well that Paul knew little of our new doctrine, since he handleth Peter so rudely, as he not only compareth, but preferreth, himself unto him. But our Cardinal proves Peter's superiority by Paul's going to visit him. Indeed Paul saith, He went to Jerusalem to visit Peter and confer with him. But he should have added, "And to kiss his feet." . . .