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)

Monday, June 30, 2014


A priest told me of his seminary days [GTS], when a clerical instructor of the catholic party was celebrating. Right before the 'great action', he turned and uttered "The Lord be with you." Immediately aware of his gaffe (and presumably imagining the disapproving stares and pursed lips of the opposing camp), he fumbled, stuttered, and then could only manage: "Oh Dear! The Lord NOT be with you."

Do we know for certain why the formula dropped out? Something on Cranmer's mind? Does it even matter? Well the question about the proper translation from the Latin has brought it all back again.

I'll skip the ACNA and focus on Father Z's dichotomization:

On the one hand, some argue in favor of the Semitism, the Hebrew view of “spirit” as simply being the person, “you”.

On the other hand, some argue in favor of the developing Christian understanding of the Eucharistic liturgy as Christ’s Sacrifice and of the significance of Holy Orders.

I suspect that if we were to quiz the first group, we would find a somewhat more “horizontal” theology, an emphasis on “liturgy” as “meal”, Eucharist as “thanksgiving” and perhaps a less sharp discernment of the roles of clergy and laity ... The second group would probably hold to a more “vertical” theology and stress the sacrificial dimension of Mass as well as a clearer distinction of roles of clergy and laity.

The debate surely reveals the differences of cultures within the Roman Church, as well as the problems involved with bringing that which is ancient, coming from a culture long gone, into the present in a way that isn’t entirely foreign.

But neither the matter nor the discussion rests there. He continues:

Regarding our text of interest, “et cum spiritu tuo”, there is a deep tradition, attested to in the Fathers of the Church (e.g., the preaching of St. John Chrysostom – +407), whereby spiritus is identified as a characteristic which distinguishes the ordained from the laity [my emphasis].

This is not, as some might riposte, a kind of “clericalism”, an exaltation of the ordained over and against the non-ordained.

When the congregation (which might include clergy) say “and with your spirit”, they recognize the special role the bishop or priest (at times deacon) has in the sacred action. This is not an exaltation of the clergy. Spiritus is that characteristic which marks certain men for ministry in the interest of the whole Body of Christ, the Church [his emphasis].

Well, now, there is certainly no use in introducing duelling Church Fathers to this discussion. And I certainly don't know the literature well enough to do so effectively anyway. But I found the following passage pretty interesting, nonetheless. [I have broken it into sections, as it is difficult to parse otherwise.]

[3.] Certain it is at least that the prayer of the churches loosed Peter from his chains, opened the mouth of Paul; their voice in no slight degree equips those that arrive unto spiritual rule. Therefore indeed it is that both he who is going to ordain calleth at that time for their prayers also, and that they add their votes and assent by acclamations which the initiated know: for it is not lawful before the uninitiated to unbare all things.

But there are occasions in which there is no difference at all between the priest and those under him; for instance, when we are to partake of the awful mysteries; for we are all alike counted worthy of the same things: not as under the Old Testament [when] the priest ate some things and those under him others, and it was not lawful for the people to partake of those things whereof the priest partook. But not so now, but before all one body is set and one cup.

And in the prayers also, one may observe the people contributing much. For in behalf of the possessed, in behalf of those under penance, the prayers are made in common both by the priest and by them; and all say one prayer, the prayer replete with pity. Again when we exclude from the holy precincts those who are unable to partake of the holy table, it behoveth that another prayer be offered, and we all alike fall upon the ground, and all alike rise up. Again, in the most awful mysteries themselves, the priest prays for the people and the people also pray for the priest; for the words, “with thy spirit,” are nothing else than this.

The offering of thanksgiving again is common: for neither doth he give thanks alone, but also all the people. For having first taken their voices, next when they assent that it is “meet and right so to do,” then he begins the thanksgiving. And why marvellest thou that the people any where utter aught with the priest, when indeed even with the very Cherubim, and the powers above, they send up in common those sacred hymns?

Now I have said all this in order that each one of the laity also may be wary, that we may understand that we are all one body, having such difference amongst ourselves as members with members; and may not throw the whole upon the priests but ourselves also so care for the whole Church as for a body common to us. For this course will provide for our greater safety, and for your greater growth unto virtue. Here, at least, in the case of the Apostles, how frequently they admitted the laity to share in their decisions. For when they ordained the seven, (Acts vi. 2, 3.) they first communicated with the people; and when Peter ordained Matthias, with all that were then present, both men and women. (Acts i. 15, &c.)

For here is no pride of rulers nor slavishness in the ruled; but a spiritual rule, in this particular usurping most, in taking on itself the greater share of the labor and of the care which is on your behalf, not in seeking larger honors. For so ought the Church to dwell as one house; as one body so to be all disposed; just as therefore there is both one Baptism, and one table, and one fountain, and one creation, and one Father.

Why then are we divided, when so great things unite us; why are we torn asunder? For we are compelled again to bewail the same things, which I have lamented often. The state in which we are calls for lamentation; so widely are we severed from each other, when we ought to image the conjunction of one body. For in this way will he that is greater, be able to gain even from him that is less.

Our priests are priests after the New Law. Thus, we seem to have here an exchange -- a ritual salutation -- between those in major orders and those not: but its direct reference is to "spiritual [and liturgical] authority" and not the ability to "confect" the sacrament. That must be, after all, the significance of including deacons and excluding subdeacons (and those below). Or so it seems, to me.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mixed grill

Although when I repost things, I don't always intend to be taken as whole-heartedly agreeing with what is expressed therein, this strikes me as true:

Most Catholics of the time [the Sixteenth century] had a very exaggerated—exaggerated to the point of heresy—understanding of the “Sacrifice” of the Mass to which the reformers reacted strongly—too strongly by the standards of modern scholarship. In other words there were serious theological problems on both sides of this debate.

This is a précis of an article that resulted in a lot of different responses. The problem it initially identified was as follows:

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.

The weakest sort of response is to dig around for puristic statements, from people such as Peter Lombard, when what is being adverted to above is the popular reception of disputable theological interpretations. This is what the reformers called "the Romish doctrine" (which is not at all the same as a dogma of catholic faith). If Lombard indeed said

... that which is offered and consecrated by the priest is called sacrifice and offering (oblatio), because it is the memory and representation of the true sacrifice and holy offering (immolatio) made on the altar of the Cross.

then that is all and very well good. But the problem for the reformers was that this was a far cry from what popular understandings were.

The stronger argument is formal: that this is proleptic. That is, the legal brief, that the consecration embodies, follows the old debate rule: tell them what you are going to say; say it; and then tell them what you said.

The sacrificial language of the Offertory, “receive… this immaculate victim … we offer Thee, Lord, the chalice … receive this offering” is an example of prolepsis, referring to the Sacrifice before what is actually sacrificed is present, namely, the Body and Blood of Christ. The literal Latin equivalent of prolepsis is “anticipation”, and it was dislike of this anticipation of the Sacrifice that ultimately led to the radical overhaul of the Offertory in the Novus Ordo.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mad with much hat

Cutting and pasting is what Anglo-Catholics have always done and what the Ordinariate is, apparently, doing now. I thought I would join the fun. This is basically the 1929 Scottish BCP service, with the 1549 English BCP canon, a little re-ordering, a few enrichments (all from other Prayer Books, real and proposed), and two minor, but nonetheless momentous, theological revisions (in blue).

It is not intended for anyone or anything – it is only an after-effect of my all-too-obvious neurotoxicity! It is, further, clearly:

  • Too hierarchical and orderly, for the shallowly innovative, and too inclusive and participatory, for the stiffly hidebound.
  • Too filled with confession of sin, for the happily Jesuited, and too focused on sacrifice, for the narrowly Puritanic.
  • Too historically retrograde, for the fervent fundamentalist, and too pointedly evangelical, for the fawning aesthete.

Designed to please … no one. Hence, it just might be sober, coherent, manly, Anglican, and … [gasp!] Catholic.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Crisis of Church Fashions

The LMS chairman says:

Such a rejection is characteristic of Protestantism, and this forms the background, looking at the big picture, of the crisis of fashion we are living through. The Protestants taught that at the Fall nature human became depraved, evil, and by parallel the created world falls under suspicion. The Protestant attack on religious art did not limit itself to devotional images: it included Gregorian chant. Of course it is impossible to exclude the artful use of created things to raise the heart to God completely from religious architecture and liturgy, but Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists and Anabaptists settled at different points on this dismal road. The Anglicans smashed the stained glass and abolished the antiphons of Vespers and Compline. The Lutherans insisted that no syllable have more than one musical note. The Calvinists got rid of the organs. All of them created white-washed churches which look like neo-classical meeting rooms instead of holy places.

The Protestant mindset had it that to contemplate a devotional image - a crucifix, say - is to contemplate something other than Christ, to give to the image what we owe to Christ. It is idolatry. By extension, to contemplate any beautiful thing is to focus our attention away from God, onto something else. Something, in fact, which is worthless or even evil, because all created things have been tainted by the Fall.

The Catholic attitude is that by contemplating the crucifix we look beyond it, and raise our minds and hearts to the real Christ. By extension, any beautiful thing can raise the heart to God. Religious and devotional art, of course, expresses all sorts of specific truths, but all art which aims at beauty expresses the Catholic doctrine that God's creation is good even after the Fall. It lost Grace, and was wounded, by the Fall, but it did not lose all its value.

I mostly agree and by that standard I would qualify as "catholic." But is the altar pictured above -- or, say, this -- too little, on this view? (I happen to think they both might be "just right.")

I don't know any Puritans -- now that my great-Grandmothers are dead. Their views had consistency but I have long since ceased to think that consistency ought to be our highest goal (see the numerous references here to complexio oppositorum). We also have travelled quite a long way, since the moments of iconoclasm pointed to. The byword of the Anglican Counter-Reformation? The "beauty of holiness."

Too much white-washing can be a problem but, really, so is too much of anything. I will prescind here and avoid posting photos of truly hideous Roman churches. Instead, I might suggest that sometimes the eyes of an outsider might help all of us: let's not be too dismissive of others.

The truly critical thing is what Lacan identifed as the gaze: there should be an identifiable point from which we are looked at. Else, there is really nothing to see.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Che vuoi?"

Always a dangerous question to pose. Always. Better ... not.

Number One. Roman Rite.

By this I mean the Western or Latinate usage. Why? Because I am of the West and will never be anything but. OK -- what does this entail? As the very first post offered here made clear, the following are the basic structural elements of the Roman Rite, in their correct order:


  1. The Introit chant
  2. The Collect


  3. The Epistle
  4. The Gradual chant
  5. The Blessing before the Gospel
  6. The Gospel


  7. The Offertory chant


  8. The Great Action: after the Orate Fratres – through Preface, Canon, Lord’s Prayer – up to the Pax


  9. The Communion chant


  10. The Post-Communion Collect
  11. The Dismissal

These are the undergirding elements or the bones, upon which the flesh may be hung, thicker or thinner, here or there. Once you have the articulated bits, then it is a question of where to add the padding.

Practically speaking, any number of Western rites, so long as they included the minor Propers, would qualify but I also want a Traditional One-Year Lectionary and Traditional Kalendar -- vigils, octaves, and Ember days but no 'ordinary time' for me, please. (So while there is nothing wrong with the Novus Ordo service on paper, there is quite a bit wrong in practice.)

I'd also like a certain -- barbaric, Germanic -- coldness and simplicity and, of course, the English language (as it may be understood, but necessarily as it is in ordinary use, by the people). In light of what has been said, and for purposes of abbreviation (and to keep others on their toes), I call this:

Number Two. Norman Decorations.

True ... in many senses


Setting aside their "proposals" -- which are truly fantastic, or merely ill-informed -- we may well contemplate the following considerations [all 'typos' in the original].

They then set out their doctrinal position:

  1. They accept the 12 articles of the Creed of Nicaea and Constantinople, and repudiate 12 additional articles of Rome (i.e. the creed of Pius IV).
  2. They affirm the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity, and that God the Father is the arch.
  3. The procession of the Holy Spirit is understood as "from the Father by the Son".
  4. The Scriptures are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  5. The Holy Spirit assists in General and particular Councils.
  6. The number and nature of "charismata of the Spirit" are agreed.
  7. Christ is the sole foundation of the Church; prophets and apostles have a derivative authority.
  8. Christ alone is the head of the Church. Bishops have a vicarious headship. The Non-Jurors own the independence of the Church in spiritualia of all lay powers.
  9. Every Christian ought to be subject to the Church. Disciplinary authority is affirmed.
  10. Communion in both kinds is strongly asserted, and Roman practice condemned.
  11. Eucharist and Baptism are generally necessary to salvation. Other sacraments, though not in this sense so necessary as Baptism and Eucharist, are to be celebrated with reverence and Catholic use.
  12. Purgatory and purgatorial intercession in the Roman sense are repudiated, but the intermediate state is affirmed.'

Finally they list disagreements with the Orthodox:

  1. Canons of ancient General Councils are not on a par with Scripture. They may be dispensed with by the governors of the Church where charity and necessity require.
  2. They refuse to give our Lady the glory of God – i.e. they are against doulia and hyperdoulia.
  3. They have qualms about the direct invocation of saints.
  4. They will not pronounce on the manner in which the elements in the Eucharist become the Body and Blood of Christ. This is a mystery which we cannot pronounce upon. They want to leave it indefinite and undetermined – since there is nothing stated beyond this in scripture and tradition, i.e. they are firmly against transubstantiation.
  5. They are apprehensive about images as leading the unlearned to superstition. They want canon 9 of Nicaea II explained in such a way as to safeguard against this.


On the subject of "disagreements," one might well wonder: are such at the level of dogma, doctrine, or theology?

  • Dogma: The unchanging, non-negotiable core elements of the Orthodox Christian faith. Dogma is defined mainly by Ecumenical Councils.
  • Doctrine: The ways in which dogma is explained to those who are learning it, especially catechumens and in the process of exegeting Scripture. This changes over the centuries, especially as new dogmatic definitions (though not new dogmas) are promulgated through the conciliar process, and also as influenced by the reflections of theology. This is more variable than dogma but less variable than theology, since it tends to get codified for teaching purposes.
  • Theology: Expansive, creative reflections and applications of dogma and doctrine. Here there is more room for speculation and elaboration. There may be multiple models in theology for interpreting and understanding dogmatic definitions and what is in Scripture. Such models may all be true in their way and yet not be compatible or reconcilable with each other.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Anglican Counter-Reformation

------------- Be it enacted then
By the fair laws of thy firm-pointed pen,
God's services no longer shall put on
A sluttishness, for pure religion:
No longer shall our churches' frighted stones
Lie scatter'd like the burnt and martyr'd bones
Of dead devotion; nor faint marbles weep
In their sad ruines; nor religion keep
A melancholly mansion in those cold
Urns. Like God's sanctuaries they look'd of old;
Now seem they temples consecrate to none,
Or to a new god Desolation.

Meme time


The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people.” Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.” Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples.

It is the Holy Spirit, the principle of unity, which establishes the Church as a communion. He is the principle of the unity of the faithful in the teaching of the Apostles, in the breaking of the bread and in prayer. The Church, however, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is not only an invisible spiritual communion, but is also visible; in fact, “the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality formed from a two-fold element, human and divine.”

Complexio oppositorum

Hic salta!

400 years Anglican Church in Hamburg from Heiner Schäfer Filmproduktion on Vimeo.

"... this freedom to preach in English ... quietly."

I'm Feeling Mighty Lau...dian

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Blindness and sight

In the traditional Roman liturgical calendar the glorious solemnity of Pentecost has its own Octave: eight days under the grace of the Holy Spirit, eight days of joy in the fire and light of His presence, eight days of thanksgiving for His gifts. The Octave of Pentecost was one of the most beautiful moments in the Church Year, not only by reason of the liturgical texts, but also by reason of its effect in the secret of hearts. Each day of the Octave the Church would sing her “Golden Sequence,” the Veni, Sancte Spiritus: a chant of such unction that one never tires of repeating it.

And, yet, we have it ... not ... but must console ourselves, instead, with blog posts about "the Gospel of the Mass of Ember Friday in the Octave of Pentecost." This voice -- of cynicism?, of reality? -- then, perforce, must make itself heard:

Let's face it, any Ordinary Form "Latin" Rite Catholic priest ordained since 1980 most likely doesn't know a word of Latin and kept the 10th Week in Ordinary Time. Such priests are probably at least 90% of all "conservative/orthodox" post-Vatican II "hermeneutic of continuity" clergy. For them, a Pentecost Octave and Ember Days are a curiosity and priests who deliberately keep such an Octave or Ember Days and mention them are almost counter-revolutionaries.

Some had, of course, some hopes. But the hopes of others, on closer inspection, seem much less than promising. This is not exactly what many of us had in mind. The 1960s, it seems, can never die: and so the undead continue to torment our dreams.

And a further problem (and one that, it seems, is holding up the whole business of final publication) is that all of the Introits, Graduals, etc. now have to be rewritten or edited to fit in with the lectionary. I am slightly confused: we are going to have (1) a series of Collects, Propers etc. fitted around a traditional Sarum-influenced Sunday calendar with Septuagesima and Sundays after Trinity, but (2) a three year lectionary cycle based on the Novus Ordo. So which will the Introits and Graduals and Tract follow, the triennial lectionary or the annual festal cycle? The lectionary, I presume, since the Tract is linked to the Gospel: perhaps I am wrong but this seems to be the inevitable logic and outcome. I find this incoherent.

At this point, I can only believe (pray, hope) that the year 1947 is frozen hard, in ice, such that by about 2022, we can begin to readdress these questions, by means of a very slow thaw. If the following tale has any prospect of being true, then someone somewhere is surely laughing:

The story goes that on the Monday after Pentecost in 1970 His Holiness Pope Paul VI rose early and went to his chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red vestments he expected, green ones were laid out for him. He asked the Master of Ceremonies, “What on earth are these for? This is the Octave of Pentecost! Where are the red vestments?” “Your Holiness,” replied the Master of Ceremonies, “this is now The Time Throughout the Year. It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost is abolished.” “Green? That cannot be,” said the Pope, “Who did that?” “Your Holiness, you did.” And Paul VI wept.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Never allow yourself to become too familiar with holy things."

Morning coffee and blogs -- what could be more delightful? Those of us, now of a passing generation, who remember such things as 'maiden aunts' fondly (while recalling that their one-sidedness was both their virtue and their undoing, at the same time) get, nonetheless, to enjoy passages, such as the following, amidst the devouring ruins:

What a long time ago it seems ... when our beloved Pope Emeritus began to write about Liturgy. Do you remember the reaction which followed? It was as if a gang of yobs had broken into a meeting of deeply religious and proper Maiden Aunts, and had started shouting very naughty words. The pursed lips ... the frozen atmosphere of disapproval ... that was how the liturgical establishment responded. "But he's not a liturgist!!!" they cried, if ever they ventured to unpurse their frigid lips. They meant that he was not one of them; had attended none of their conventions; had written no little articles in their house journals; had rampaged through no diocese laying waste the sanctuaries; had hurled no reliquaries, no baroque vestments, upon bonfires; had destroyed no traditions of sacred chant.

Destruction, to my mind, follows directly from the degradation of 'over-handling'. There are things we ought not to presume to touch, to dabble with, to become too familiar with: familiarity breeds contempt.

Anyway, the point of Father's entry is to draw our attention to the following, remarkable words (I quote in fuller detail, with my emphases):

5. The Church in the West does not need to disown the specific path she has followed since about the thirteenth century. But she must achieve a real reception of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II, which affirmed the fundamental importance and theological status of the image in the Church. The Western Church does not need to subject herself to all the individual norms concerning images that were developed at the councils and synods of the East, coming to some kind of conclusion in 1551 at the Council of Moscow, the Council of the Hundred Canons. Nevertheless, she should regard the fundamental lines of this theology of the image in the Church as normative for her. There must, of course, be no rigid norms. Freshly received intuitions and the ever-new experiences of piety must find a place in the Church. But still there is a difference between sacred art (which is related to the liturgy and belongs to the ecclesial sphere) and religious art in general. There cannot be completely free expression in sacred art. Forms of art that deny the logos of things and imprison man within what appears to the senses are incompatible with the Church's understanding of the image. No sacred art can come from an isolated subjectivity. No, it presupposes that there is a subject who has been inwardly formed by the Church and opened up to the "we". Only thus does art make the Church's common faith visible and speak again to the believing heart. The freedom of art, which is also necessary in the more narrowly circumscribed realm of sacred art, is not a matter of do-as-you-please. It unfolds according to the measure indicated by the first four points in these concluding reflections, which are an attempt to sum up what is constant in the iconographic tradition of faith. Without faith there is no art commensurate with the liturgy. Sacred art stands beneath the imperative stated in the second epistle to the Corinthians. Gazing at the Lord, we are "changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (3:18) [133-134].

Rather than engage in fruitless polemics -- Gothic (English) vs. Baroque (Roman) -- we ought to consider the possibility that we discard nothing while simultaneously seeking something that transcends it all. (Practically speaking, the style of the vestments ought to conform to the style of the space. End of story.) We all have our prejudices -- and this is a good thing. Further, it would be absurd to try and overleap history and vain to imagine that we might repudiate the treasures of (and human experiences encoded in) the Romantic, the Baroque, the Renaissance, the Gothic, etc. But could we contemplate a space where the following elements interpenetrate (and mutually enrich) each other?

  • the Norman (the North)
  • the Romanesque (the West)
  • the Byzantine (the East)

There are, after all, a few remnants

... and a few places.

Is this a modern monstrosity or a possible model?

(Note that the following is a better representation of the actual coloration.)