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)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

O felix culpa!

Point One:

...there is the basic human problem of having more than one year's worth of readings. A single year is a natural period of time; it is healthy, pedagogically superior, and deeply consoling to come back, year after year, to the same readings for a given Sunday or weekday. This has been my experience. You get to know the Sunday readings especially; they become bone of your bone. You start to think of Sundays in terms of their readings, chants, and prayers, which stick in the mind all the more firmly because they are both spoken or chanted and read in the missal you are holding (more senses engaged). In this way the traditional Western liturgy shows its affinity to the Eastern liturgies, which go so far as to name Sundays after their Gospels or after some particular dogma emphasized. In the old days, the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost had a distinctive identity: Protector noster was the introit, you knew its melody, and the whole Mass grew to be familiar, like a much-loved garden or a trail through the woods. Nowadays, who knows what the "tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time" is about! It's anyone's guess.

Point Two:

There are a number of circumstances where happy felicity reveals the very underlying connection, which is presumed, by some at least, to be lacking:


Protector noster: Behold, O God, our protector, and look on the face of Thy Christ; for better is one day in Thy courts above thousands.

Collect: Ecclesiam tuam, domine, miseracio continuata mundet et muniat
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Galatians 5:16-24 Walk with the Spirit.

Keep us from harm: Matthew 6:24 – God provides [teaching]
24 No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.


This casts doubt on the claims of Lutherans and Anglicans (see also below) to be the true preservers.

That is to say, which readings go better with the following collects?


So, if we take the chart of introits from here, add Gregory's lectionary and collects from here, we get:

In the 'purple band' the connecting links between introits and gospels have been preserved (as in some other cases) but everything else has been scrambled. Food for thought.

Luke 6: 36

More "explanations" hung on very small reference [my emphases]. I'm not at all sure.

Though the Trinity season, or the Sundays after Pentecost, was the last season of the ecclesiastical year for which lessons were appointed specifically for each Sunday, the Prayer Book tradition, nonetheless, has maintained and developed further the order and coherence of this season. This part of the church year, however, admits of a different character from that of the Advent to Pentecost sequence; a difference which the older commentators well understood ...

In the Roman Catholic Church, on the one hand, the season of Pentecost has undergone a number of changes, resulting in the dislocation of the order of the epistles and gospels. These changes, which were the result of gradual developments during the High and Late Middle Ages, became definitive and settled in the sixteenth century Counter-Reformation reforms [Guéranger: 116]. In general, the difference in the appointment of particular readings derives from the various ways in which the Sundays after Pentecost took shape, especially in relation to the accommodation of octaves and what the ancient ordines call Dominica vacat, the 'empty' Sundays after Ember Saturday Vigil ordinations with accompanying Mass [MacKenzie: 383 & 398]. The eucharistic lectionary of the Prayer Book, on the other hand, remained in critical continuity with the older western tradition through the Sarum Missal, thereby avoiding some of the later dislocations and preserving a more coherent set of propers.

The English church avoided the dislocation of epistles and gospels for the time between Pentecost and Advent that occurred in the Roman church [MacKenzie: 398]. Many of the problems claimed for in the season from Pentecost to Advent pertain to the order of readings found in their definitive form in the Roman lectionary from the sixteenth century onwards [Guéranger: 116]. They do not apply to the order of epistles and gospels found in the Sarum Missal and derived unto the Prayer Book. These dislocations explain the divergences between the pre-Vatican II Roman Church and the Church of England in the propers appointed for this part of the church year. The convergence of a number of factors perhaps provides something of an account for these differences.

What is now commonly known as Trinity Sunday, or the First Sunday after Pentecost, was anciently a Dominica vacans, being the Sunday immediately following the Pentecost Ember Saturday Vigil ordinations [MacKenzie: 398]. When this practice fell into disuse, there was need for the appointment of propers for the First Sunday after Pentecost. Thus Luke 6: 36-42, beginning with 'Be ye merciful, as your Father is merciful', which had been the gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost — popularly known as 'the Sunday of mercy' — became the gospel appointed for the First Sunday after Pentecost [Guéranger: 116]. Subsequently, the remaining gospels for the time after Pentecost were simply brought forward by one week; hence the dislocation of the epistles and gospels, especially for the first part of the season [Guéranger: 116 & MacKenzie: 398]. The Sarum Missal, however, avoided this dislocation. While this goes a long way towards explaining the divergences, it does not completely exhaust the complications.

The growing desire for the regular observance of the Feast of the Holy Trinity meant a gradual movement away from votive masses to the observance of the feast on the First Sunday after Pentecost [Guéranger, Vol. X: 91 ff. & MacKenzie: 398]. In England, the observance of this day as Trinity Sunday was established very early; in 1162 St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury instituted its celebration [Guéranger, Vol. X: 93]. Elsewhere in Europe the idea for the regular observance of the Feast of the Holy Trinity grew, but there was some variation as to the actual day appointed for its celebration.

Common observance was established in 1334 by Pope John XXII, who decreed the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Trinity on the First Sunday after Pentecost [Guéranger, Vol. X: 93]. The appointment of propers appropriate to that feast meant the displacement of those which had come to be read on the First Sunday after Pentecost. Consequently, the First Sunday after Pentecost was reduced to simply a commemoration at the Mass of the Feast of the Holy Trinity, the 'mercy' gospel, Luke 6: 36-42, appearing as the Last Gospel at High Mass instead of John 1: 1-14. But the epistles and gospels throughout the early part of the season remained in their dislocated order originally occasioned by the moving of Luke 6: 36-42 from the Fourth to the First Sunday after Pentecost.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Absolutely, the final thoughts on this today!

It seems that at least part of this ordering can be attributed to Gregory.

A list (a roster), from Beissel:

Les péricopes libériennes

... [et] leur distribution au cours des dimanches après la Pentecôte.



The Chairman says:

In the Traditional Mass, the readings of each Mass are connected with the other proper prayers and chants of that Mass. There is a series of Sundays (some of the ones After Pentecost) in which, for historical reasons, the gospels have got out of sync with the other propers by one week; because of the nature of the progression of texts this doesn't matter very much. What we never have, however, in the Traditional Mass is a set of readings with absolutely no connection with the chants or prayers, and that is something which is inevitable with a multi-year cycle of readings, unless it were accompanied by the multi-year cycle of prayers and chants.

Is it then the case that ...

On the fourth Sunday after Trinity the Roman Lectionary omits Luke 6:36-42 from the list of readings and moves all subsequent Gospel readings up one Sunday, but without moving the corresponding Epistle readings.

Some Lutherans weren't sure.

I'm not sure either but the points of difference suggest that both reducing (as in the case of Sundays in Advent) and counting (after Epiphany, after Trinity) may have played a role.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Again, the Lectionary. Here is the contemporary CofE rendition:

The briefest -- and utterly non-scholarly -- review of traditional sources shows a small number of places where the Tridentine readings match up with certain, identifiable densities:

I think a case can be made for the following style of minimalist revision:

  • Prophecy: 2 Kings 2:1-15 -- Elijah Taken Up to Heaven
  • Epistle: Acts 1:1-11 -- Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven
  • Gospel: Mark 16:14-20 -- The Great Commission

Luke 24:44-53 records the Ascension, frames it with the Old Testament, and foretells the Pentecost. In so doing, however, it diffuses the event and has none of the non-politically-correct power of Mark. Ephesians 4:7-13 is a very interesting gloss but the RCL give us Ephesians 1:15-23, which is only somewhat connected to the feast day. So barring the minimalist enrichment proposed, Trent (and Sarum) remain clearly superior. Sorry.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Here's one -- like all real fathers, not at all perfect (my emphases):

So far the position has been maintained that Christianity must be identified with a positive and exacting moral standard: that the Church exists as ‘the pillar and ground of the truth,’ because she is to witness, not only to definite theological positions, but also to a definite moral ideal, which is, as well, a moral claim upon the members of her communion.

Now I think no one can read the Gospels with any seriousness, or the records of the apostolic church, without acknowledging the truth of what has been said. Further than this, no one can study the history of the Christian church from the apostolic days to our own, without acknowledging that the leavening, transforming power of Christianity on individuals and on societies has been due mainly to the Saints —that is, to those who have made the ideal standard the real standard which it has been their supreme aim to follow. So far as the average standard of society has been raised, it is mainly the saints who have raised it: and conversely it has been found true that ‘when the best men stop trying, the world sinks back like lead.’ All this is indubitable. Still, with that mixture of humility and laziness which characterizes so many of us, a man may look seriously at a Christian preacher and ask: ‘do you really mean that I in my ordinary life in the world, I with my coarse, common-place temptations, I with my way to make in the world as it is, I with my antecedents, my surroundings, and my prospects, am to set myself up to imitate Jesus Christ or forfeit the title to the name of Christian? Is the imitation of Jesus really practicable?’

It is when we are in the frame of mind which this questioning represents that we need to consider steadily a certain prominent aspect of Christianity; an aspect which makes it, in spite of its apparent hardness, pre-eminently the religion of hope for all who have the courage to begin to try to serve Jesus Christ and the patience to make fresh beginnings after renewed failures.

The Christian Church upholds a moral ideal, and thus teaches men the true end of human life, but her special characteristic is rather that she supplies the means, than that she suggests the end. Philosophers on the whole have been not unsuccessful in proclaiming the ideal of life: they have shown their weakness in providing means for realizing it. Here is the strength of the Christian Church. She is a great system of means to the moral end, the ‘means’ that ‘God devised that his banished should not be expelled from him.’

If we look higher still, we do indeed behold our Lord setting an example: but we observe also that there is something which He appraises higher than this function of example. Had this been His highest work, it would, beyond a doubt, have been expedient for us, if possible, that He should not have gone away. As it was, it was ‘expedient’ that His disciples should lose His visible example that they might gain a greater gift — the gift of the Spirit.‘ If I go not away the Paraclete will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you.’ In fact the Paraclete did come at Pentecost, and in virtue of His coming the Church became a body instinct with a new life, and Christianity a thing ‘not in word, but in power.’

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Old school

St Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, circa 1900

Later, the sanctuary was brought "up to date," to the Traversian baroque styling of the day. Pity.


Certainly not as an act of self-censorship, but rather as a way to avoid 'pot-stirring' and 'pillow-sobbing', anything of a even slightly polemical nature, involving persons, has reverted to draft. I have no need to drive traffic to this blog (or 'to strike chords') and its subject remains, as always, 'Anglican patrimony'.

Nonne ecce verbum super datum bonum?
sed utraque cum homine justificato.
Stultus acriter improperabit:
et datus indisciplinati tabescere facit oculos.

Entstehung der Perikopen des römischen Messbuches

The Gospel for the Ascension shows the following quasi-chronological development, according to Beissel:

  • Greek: Luke 24:36
  • Gallican: John 13:33, Luke 24:49
  • Spanish: Luke 24:36
  • Mozarabic: John 16:15
  • Ambrosian: Luke 24:36
  • Celtic: Luke 24:44
  • Carolingian: Mark 16:14

Luke 24 is obviously the older but is supplanted by Mark 16 in the Sarum and Tridentine rite (where Mark 16:14-20 is joined with the Epistle Acts 1:1-11). This is how it appears in the Book of Common Prayer -- until 1928, when the Gospel reverts to Luke 24:49. (But there is no need to pursue the most ancient simply for the sake of primitiveness.)

The Introit is Viri Galilaei, quid admiramini auspicentes in coelum? and the Collect is rendered admirably as

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The most minor restoration would be to simply supplement those (received) readings with a Prophecy -- as in the Mozarabic, say, with 2 Kings 2:1-15. Why prefer the RCL "solution"?

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Were one to open the Roman Missal at the first page, finding there the Mass of the First Sunday of Advent, the very first element proper to that Mass, and to all others, is the Introit.

The Introit is composed of an antiphon, a verse taken from the psalm corresponding to the antiphon or, occasionally, from another, the Gloria Patri, and the repetition of the antiphon.

The Introit as presented in the Roman Missal appears in a somewhat truncated form, though all the essential elements — antiphon, psalmody, and doxology — are present. Until about the eighth century the entire psalm would have been chanted, or at least the greater part of it, with the antiphon repeated after every verse, and this until the celebrant reached the altar, at which point the cantors would intone the Gloria Patri, and after the final repetition of the antiphon, end the Introit.

The purpose of the Introit in the tradition of the Roman Rite is not didactic; it is contemplative. The Introit ushers the soul into the mystery of the day not by explaining it, but by opening the Mass with a word uttered from above. The text of the Introit signifies that, in every celebration, the initiative is divine, not human; it is a word received that quickens the Church–at–Prayer, and awakens a response within her.


I'm not a fan. How can the following two imperatives be attempted simultaneously (or reconciled in thought)?

The major principle behind the lectionary is that on a Sunday members of congregations should be able to hear the voice of each writer week by week, rather than readings being selected according to a theme. Thus, in any given year the writer of one of the first three gospels will be heard from beginning to end. Likewise the rest of the New Testament is heard, in some cases, virtually in total, in others in large part.

This principle is subject to a number of exceptions. Firstly, different principles apply during the special seasons of the year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter. Here appropriate lections relevant to the season are chosen.

Even if we assume that "hearing the voice of the [individual] writer" is a good thing, it simply won't be achieved that way. Having (twice now) taught the synoptic Gospels to intelligent undergraduates, I can say that even with the most intense preparation, scholarly apparati, focused exercises, and strong coaching from me, this is a most difficult task. And part of the problem stems from the sharp declines in attentive hearing and reading comprehension, resultant from our cultural malaise.

I'm all for biblical scholarship: but that ought not to be confused with the function of the proclamation of Verbum Domini (IMHO).

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Spirit

Excerpted from The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Rites are not rigidly fenced off from each other. There is exchange and crossfertilization between them. The clearest example is in the case of the two great focal points of ritual development: Byzantium and Rome. In their present form, most of the Eastern rites are very strongly marked by Byzantine influences. For its part, Rome has increasingly united the different rites of the West in the universal Roman rite. While Byzantium gave a large part of the Slavic world its special form of divine worship, Rome left its liturgical imprint on the Germanic and Latin peoples and on a part of the Slavs. In the first millennium there -was still liturgical exchange between East and West. Then, of course, the rites hardened into their definitive forms, which allowed hardly any cross-fertilization. What is important is that the great forms of rite embrace many cultures. They not only incorporate the diachronic aspect, but also create communion among different cultures and languages. They elude control by any individual, local community, or regional Church. Unspontaneity is of their essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. That is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the "Divine Liturgy", expressing thereby the liturgy's independence from human control. The West, by contrast, has felt ever more strongly the historical element, which is why Jungmann tried to sum up the Western view in the phrase "the liturgy that has come to be". He wanted to show that this coming-to be still goes on-as an organic growth, not as a specially contrived production. The liturgy can be compared, therefore, not to a piece of technical equipment, something manufactured, but to a plant, something organic that grows and whose laws of growth determine the possibilities of further development. In the West there was, of course, another factor. With his Petrine authority, the pope more and more clearly took over responsibility for liturgical legislation, thus providing a juridical authority for the continuing formation of the liturgy. The more vigorously the primacy was displayed, the more the question came up about the extent and limits of this authority, which, of course, as such had never been considered. After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not "manufactured" by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity.

What would be nice

I said nice, not necessarily coherent or doable. (I think they are ... but that assertion will just make someone mad.)

  1. A mixed -- or, rather, a fused -- rite in Elizabethan English: for my purposes the Ordinariate use is "good enough," and avoids the prolixity and superfluity of the Knott missal;
  2. A unified lectionary and gradual, that coheres with the collects (just what that is, I won't say, but surely it is a win when Sarum, the BCP, and Trent mostly agree);* and
  3. The English Hymnal (or similar) combined with the noble simplicity of what was called the "English Use" (as appropriate).

Too bad: it just ain't going to happen.

*All of this is to say that the author's point about the pedigree of the "Tridentine" lectionary ought to be taken seriously, in so far as it has precedence and a historical case that can be made in its favor given the lack of any traceable evidence from the earlier centuries. Additionally, for the careful reader, the author does aptly suggest that onus rests upon supporters of the new lectionary to justify its implementation. The new lectionary is a construction that came, literally, out of nowhere and reflects the thinking of biblical scholarship and currents in theology of 1960s. The perennial value, of, say, paschal mystery theology is disputable, so too its influence on the reform of the Roman lectionary. The new lectionary, far from having an established pedigree, is on the verge of theological obsolescence.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cor ad cor loquitur

The change in the liturgy marked a distinct change in the use of scripture in the Church, the Mass of Paul VI made scripture essentially didactic, the ancient Lectionary is theophanic, a moment of divine revelation, an encounter with God, but it is also kérugmatic, it was honed to the proclamation of Christ, his death, resurrection and return. The single year cycle means that those things considered important by the Church are returned to repeatedly, year after year. The annual cycle of saints, remember the high significance of the cult of saints in the tradition of the West, their place in the ancient Roman Canon for example, constantly repeats the necessity for Christian virtues.

The scatter-gun approach of the OF Lectionary has meant that scripture is not memorised, as it was by previous generations. Most people's memories do not retain texts over a three year period (six if the cycle is interrupted by a transferred Holyday), and memories are confused by similar texts, for example stories that appear in all the Gospels, like the feeding stories, especially when the writers have different doctrinal reasons for presenting them.

Perhaps one of our big problems as a Church is that Catholic doctrine seems so very complex and that it is not understood by most regular Mass attenders, I think this is the result of the imprecision of the Pauline Lectionary, and that in fact more scripture in the Liturgy often means less scripture in the heart.

Avant le déluge

One thing I never cease to be thankful for is the fact that I managed to learn about Anglicanism in a Prayer Book Catholic parish just before the present tide of Revisionism started to wash over the Church of England. This Prayer Book Catholic tradition had, in that particular parish, succeeded to the old Protestant High Churchmanship of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries giving it a very definite sense of having been there always.

Prayer Book Catholicism is the moderate strand within the nineteenth century Catholic Revival within the Church of England. Unlike Anglo-Papalism which looked longingly to Rome for guidance both in theology and liturgy, Prayer Book Catholics looked to the Early Fathers for their theology and to the mediaeval English Uses when it wanted to deduce the proper ceremonial to use with the Book of Common Prayer ...

Paradoxically, it the the Prayer Book Catholic tradition that gets the shortest shrift from both the Continuing Churches, the "Neo-Cons" in ACNA, and official Anglicanism. Continuing Anglicanism being of American origin seems to have little room for something so "English" though it is the one group that might be able to bridge the gap between Anglo-Catholics, and traditional Broad Churchmen. The bulk of the Neo-Cons in ACNA are too enamoured of the liturgical movement, the charismatic movement and various other movements to be much interested in it; besides which it seems "old hat." Lastly the official Anglican Communion seems to like its catholic style of worship, but [has] absolutely no use for its theology - after all, humanity is all grown up now and we don't need Christian Orthodoxy anymore. Yeah right!

Given that so many folks think they have no use for Prayer Book Catholicism, and perhaps because it takes the catholic nature of Anglicanism so seriously, it is perhaps the one movement that needs to come back in a big way.

Old hat. So, what's next?

An even bigger problem

The abandonment of the inner unity of Scripture and feastday is one of the greatest disasters of the new rite. It makes the prayers, the readings, and the sacrifice seem like three different things, when they ought to be clearly woven together, as in the old rite, making one seamless garment.

But there was something more, and worse: the proper chants for her feastday, in the new Graduale Romanum, are, in some cases (like the Alleluia verse) irrelevant, and in other cases barely relevant ...


The argument in favor of the new lectionary is essentially flawed because it relies upon numbers and the mere quantity of something as the sufficiency necessary for correct evaluation. Thus, to put it another way it seeks to implement the liturgical reform the way governments try to reform things, by throwing more of something indiscriminately. In this case it happens to be Scripture. Just as truly as government throws money at education, or defense in the desperate hope that things will get better, so the new lectionary throws as much of the Bible at the layman as possible, indiscriminately, in the hope that he will leave the Church knowing something about the Bible. The Traditional Lectionary's effect, however, is qualitative, focusing not so much on how much of the Bible the man in the pew hears, but rather what the man in the pew hears.

In the Traditional Liturgy, the lectionary was tailored to match the breviary and lead the faithful to a certain idea through its collects, antiphons and other propers; the lectionary of the Novus Ordo often makes use of antiphons and propers that do not match any liturgical objective, prayers that are given just for the sake of it.

The Great Restoration

Restoration -- not reformation -- is what we need. In that spirit, the following good words are repeated:

... we must be very careful when we lionize the so-called "Tridentine" liturgy as the pinnacle of liturgical development. To be true, my preference is for the old books. This preference is with the qualification that the liturgical movement, at its peak through the 20s and 40s, was correct in its aims at the time. The Roman liturgical books were a treasure that had been corroded through centuries of misuse and neglect. The goal was restoration of the books to an earlier praxis, not a reform of the books to a new sensibility. The hope was that such a restoration would make the liturgy itself, without the cavalcade of pious devotions, an access point for theological breadth and divine encounter.