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 22, 2015

A tournament of lies

The great Western Civilization is a civilization in which myriad ways of life, of thought, of customs have known and know how to encounter, understand, value, and contend with each other if necessary, for the sake of developing human life and history which is the mark of a civilization.

This civilization, whether we like it or not, is now ending if it has not truly and already ended. The horizon is marred by the black flag of the Caliphate, under which lies dead the freedom of conscience and of the heart, of movement, the liberty to live in a dignified way, and to profess one’s own convictions in a free and responsible manner.

This atrocity, all atrocities have been transformed into casual occurrences by the surreal fantasies of western man. He can quickly read of them in newspapers or on social networks; news headlines flashing at the bottom of the television while he eats tranquilly; as if they were current events from another world.

Civilization has ended. A society on the brink of death would not even have the capacity to initiate an authentic and critical examination of its own life. If it would do so, what shall be unveiled are all those who, knowingly or unknowingly, have arranged and continue to prepare in more diverse ways its own death. These are all those who have persecuted dialogue beyond all limits ...


Friday, March 20, 2015

Bad timing

As this post makes clear, there has been *no* "organic development" of the liturgy for approximately half a millennium. The first upshot (of recognizing this) is the utter necessity of completely abandoning the widespread narrative about freemasons, communists, protestants, and other bunglers at work inside V2. While paranoid conspiracy theories fit the temper of our times (and are so much fun), they ought not to be confused with ardent reality.

On the other hand, it should be acknowledged that the two main revisions of the Roman rite could not have taken place at two more unhappy moments in time than inside the sixteenth century or in the flux of the immediate post-world-war realities. In both circumstances, Rome was responding almost completely to external pressures, rather than any internal requirement or real need. As a consequence, the changes codified are really polemical (or, if you prefer, apologetic), rather than, say, restorative or pastoral in impetus.

Put the two together and this allows one to see that all of the events have a completely different gloss than the ones to which we have become accustomed, viz.: Did Pius V leave untouched the rites of more than two hundred years out of some inspired appreciation for their untouchable and venerable 'antiquity'? Certainly not!

... if Saint Pius V rejected across the board all the local liturgies that had come to light from the fourteenth century on, it was primarily because he knew that the ideas of nascent Protestantism had spread and because he realized that sorting out the customs that could be described as "orthodox" from those that were more dubious -- or even downright heretical -- was too difficult a task to be feasible [Crouan, The History and the Future of the Roman Liturgy, p. 75].

The reality is that the destructors have been at work so long that -- barring an unexpected manuscript find -- there is very little prospect of a successful return to origins. Consider, for instance, this little 'zinger' (recounted with a straight face):

Everything started, one might say, when Leo X (1513-1521) called upon Zaccaria Ferreri -- a "humanist" in his approach -- to revise the Hymnal, that is, the book containing the hymns that must be sung as part of the Divine Office. The final product was an almost brand-new book that preserved only a few verses vaguely reminiscent of the old Roman Hymnal [Ibid., p. 70].

It is now almost universally conceded that the seventeenth century revision of the Latin hymnal was a mistake, and that the despoiling of these ancient hymns cannot possibly be defended or justified. The so-called improvements which were made to the texts were, in fact, no improvement whatsoever.

Plus ça change.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sacrificium laudis

The Catholic Encyclopedia asserts that "four things are necessary to a sacrifice."

  • a sacrificial gift (res oblata)

    In contrast with sacrifices in the figurative or less proper sense, the sacrificial gift must exist in physical substance, and must be really or virtually destroyed (animals slain, libations poured out, other things rendered unfit for ordinary uses), or at least really transformed, at a fixed place of sacrifice (ara, altare), and offered up to God.

  • a sacrificing minister (minister legitimus)

    As regards the person offering, it is not permitted that any and every individual should offer sacrifice on his own account. In the revealed religion, as in nearly all heathen religions, only a qualified person (usually called priest, sacerdos, lereus), who has been given the power by commission or vocation, may offer up sacrifice in the name of the community. After Moses, the priests authorized by law in the Old Testament belonged to the tribe of Levi, and more especially to the house of Aaron (Hebrews 5:4). But, since Christ Himself received and exercised His high priesthood, not by the arrogation of authority but in virtue of a Divine call, there is still greater need that priests who represent Him should receive power and authority through the Sacrament of Holy Orders to offer up the sublime Sacrifice of the New Law.

  • a sacrificial action (actio sacrificica)

    Sacrifice reaches its outward culmination in the sacrificial act, in which we have to distinguish between the proximate matter and the real form. The form lies, not in the real transformation or complete destruction of the sacrificial gift, but rather in its sacrificial oblation, in whatever way it may be transformed. Even where a real destruction took place, as in the sacrificial slayings of the Old Testament, the act of destroying was performed by the servants of the Temple, whereas the proper oblation, consisting in the "spilling of blood" (aspersio sanguinis), was the exclusive function of the priests. Thus the real form of the Sacrifice of the Cross consisted neither in the killing of Christ by the Roman soldiers nor in an imaginary self-destruction on the part of Jesus, but in His voluntary surrender of His blood shed by another's hand, and in His offering of His life for the sins of the world. Consequently, the destruction or transformation constitutes at most the proximate matter; the sacrificial oblation, on the other hand, is the physical form of the sacrifice.

  • a sacrificial end or object (finis sacrificii)

    Finally, the object of the sacrifice, as significant of its meaning, lifts the external offering beyond any mere mechanical action into the sphere of the spiritual and Divine. The object is the soul of the sacrifice, and, in a certain sense, its "metaphysicial form". In all religions we find, as the essential idea of sacrifice, a complete surrender to God for the purpose of union with Him; and to this idea there is added, on the part of those who are in sin, the desire for pardon and reconciliation. Hence at once arises the distinction between sacrifices of praise and expiation (sacrificium latreuticum et propitiatorium), and sacrifices of thanksgiving and petition (sacrificium eucharisticum et impetratorium); hence also the obvious inference that under pain of idolatry, sacrifice is to be offered to God alone as the beginning and end of all things. Rightly does St. Augustine remark (City of God X.4): "Who ever thought of offering sacrifice except to one whom he either knew, or thought, or imagined to be God?".

In far fewer words: (1) substance; (2) authority; (3) offering; and (4) union.

Furthermore, however, it seeks to drive a wedge between sacrament and sacrifice:

The simple fact that numerous heretics, such as Wyclif and Luther, repudiated the Mass as "idolatry", while retaining the Sacrament of the true Body and Blood of Christ, proves that the Sacrament of the Eucharist is something essentially different from the Sacrifice of the Mass. In truth, the Eucharist performs at once two functions: that of a sacrament and that of a sacrifice. Though the inseparableness of the two is most clearly seen in the fact that the consecrating sacrificial powers of the priest coincide, and consequently that the sacrament is produced only in and through the Mass, the real difference between them is shown in that the sacrament is intended privately for the sanctification of the soul, whereas the sacrifice serves primarily to glorify God by adoration, thanksgiving, prayer, and expiation.

So, the sacrament is grace for us, while the sacrifice is worship for God.

But even if we get as far as sacrifice, Anglicans tragically misidentify it:

As to the establishment of our second proposition, believing Protestants and Anglicans readily admit that the phrase: "to shed one's blood for others unto the remission of sins" is not only genuinely Biblical language relating to sacrifice, but also designates in particular the sacrifice of expiation (cf. Leviticus 7:14; 14:17; 17:11; Romans 3:25, 5:9; Hebrews 9:10, etc.). They, however, refer this sacrifice of expiation not to what took place at the Last Supper, but to the Crucifixion the day after. From the demonstration given above that Christ, by the double consecration of bread and wine mystically separated His Blood from His Body and thus in a chalice itself poured out this Blood in a sacramental way, it is at once clear that he wished to solemnize the Last Supper not as a sacrament merely but also as a Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Therefore, the sacrificial defect is the salient misidentification of the sacrifice of Christ, indicated by the complete absence of the following words (marked in red):

Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, eiusdem Christi, Filii tui, Domini nostri, tam beatæ passionis, necnon et ab inferis resurrectionis, sed et in cælos gloriosæ ascensionis: offerimus præclaræ maiestati tuæ de tuis donis ac datis hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, Panem sanctum vitæ æternæ et Calicem salutis perpetuæ.

This response is therefore deemed insufficient because there can be no identification of this third meaning (below) with anything properly correspondent in the words of the Anglican liturgy -- i. e., our Anamnesis is defective:

Further, since the Pope reminds us somewhat severely of "the necessary connection between faith and worship, between the law of believing and the law of praying," it seems fair to call closer attention, both on your part and ours, to the Roman Liturgy. And when we look carefully into the "Canon of the Mass," what do we see clearly exhibited there as to the idea of sacrifice? It agrees sufficiently with our Eucharistic formularies, but scarcely or not at all with the determinations of the Council of Trent. Or rather it should be said that two methods of explaining the sacrifice are put forth at the same time by that Council, one which agrees with liturgical science and Christian wisdom, the other which is under the influence of dangerous popular theology on the subject of Eucharistic propitiation. Now in the Canon of the Mass the sacrifice which is offered is described in four ways. Firstly it is a "sacrifice of praise," which idea runs through the whole action and so to say supports it and makes it all of a piece. Secondly it is the offering made by God's servants and His whole family, about which offering request is made that it "may become to us the Body and Blood" of His Son our Lord. Thirdly it is an offering to His Majesty of His "own gifts and boons" (that is, as Innocent IIIrd rightly explains it, of the fruits of the fields and trees, although the words of the Lord have already been said over them by the Priest), which are called the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation. Fourthly and lastly (in the prayer Supra quas propitio) the sacrifice already offered in three ways, and according to Roman opinion now fully consecrated, is compared with the sacrifices of the patriarchs Abel and Abraham, and with that offered by Melchisedech. This last, being called "holy sacrifice, unblemished victim," shows that the comparison is not only in respect to the offerer, but also to the things offered. Then the Church prays that they may be carried up by the hands of the holy Angel to the altar of God on high. Lastly, after the second series of names of Saints, there occurs the piece of a prayer (Per quem haec omnia) which appears rather suitable to a benediction of fruits of the earth, than to the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Perhaps not in 1662. But 1928?

WHEREFORE O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.

Still only three out of four? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Via Media

Delightful thoughts, with not a word written by me (as my thoughts are distinctly undelightful). Excerpted for my purposes but read the entire piece.

Something truly catholic seems to have been beginning in the sixteenth century and it is a great pity movements on both sides of the Channel were quashed. A middle way is always difficult to follow. Purists of all stripes are ever-ready to hurl insult at those who they see as less committed to a strict way of being. Yet it is often the maintenance of a via media that is the most difficult; lack of prescription requires greater wisdom in judgment. It was on this point that the Laudians, and indeed the Jansenists, found themselves indicted. The former found themselves brought low by philistinism in a newly-Reformed Church that was not fully prepared to accept that visual beauty had a place in the worship of God. The latter were assailed by an institution sensitised by the unexpected triumph of a youthful Protestantism and thus unable to see in its own history the seeds of the doctrines espoused by Jansenius and Saint-Cyran ...

In the past century it was the Central Churchmen who sought to keep alive the best of the Laudian reforms and their efforts issued in art and ceremonial a striking similarity to the elegant austerity of the Gallican Church of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries. The restraint of Augustinian understanding of human inability which Jansenism introduced would have had the same effect on the wilful exuberance of Romanist theology as Laudian freedom of artistic feeling would have had for the hard-edged Puritanism of the Church of England. So much the pity that reconciliation requires self-restraint ...

... With the feeling that extremes have come increasingly to dominate discourse, both in the sacred and secular realms, the description of Central Churchmanship as 'deliberately moderate, with the traditional Laudian idea of the beauty of holiness being given moderate rein. The overall ethos [being] one of orthodoxy, duty and devotion tempered by an abhorrence of fanaticism, the usual British reserve, and a fear of appearing Pharasaical' seems relieving and refreshing. Such a thoroughly decent via media is a distinctly refreshing antidote to the instability and chaotic infighting of mainstream Evangelicalism and Anglo-Catholicism. Perhaps never before has a Central position been so needed ...

... Central Churchmanship offers a way forward. If self-consciously detached from the bonds of the excesses of the Establishment, a self-limiting middle path devoted to the scriptures, the Creeds, and the Anglican tradition embodied in the writings of the first two centuries of Anglican Divines and worshipping with moderate ceremonial in the context of an austere beauty fulfils a necessary need in a world of extremes, a need that is increasingly difficult to find in a climate of polarisation. With Masses and prayer for the dead on one hand and drum kits on the other, one often wishes for a sensible alternative to both. Unfussy and uncluttered in both theological temper and aesthetic expression, Central Churchmanship provides a respite from the chaos of sectarian religiosity which is at heart either Papalist or independent. Likewise, standing apart from the frenetic haste of contemporary life Central Churchmanship provides a community to which one may belong as a reasonable individual -- mind and heart able both alike to express themselves -- without sacrificing the essential Christian desire to view life in the world through the light of scripture and to form it accordingly. Holding in tension the best of its reformist predecessors, Laudianism and Jansenism, it stands as a witness to reasonable thinking beyond and above traditions rife with zealotry. To be a Central Churchman is to stand in a permanent oasis of peace, historically proved, biblically grounded, and utterly reasonable while the streams of time and sectarian circumstance ebb and flow and ultimately decay.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sicut erravit

As suggested by here, some good words to keep front and center in this time of preparation:

I understand that you are on the way to becoming Orthodox. I know nothing about you, beyond the fact that you are English.

Before we go any further, there is one point I should make clear. I have not been told why you are about to convert, but I assure you there is no point whatsoever if it is for negative reasons. You will find as much “wrong” (if not more) in Orthodoxy as in the Anglican or Roman Churches.

So – the first point is, are you prepared to face lies, hypocrisy, evil and all the rest, just as much in Orthodoxy as in any other religion or denomination?

Are you expecting a kind of earthly paradise with plenty of incense and the right kind of music?

Do you expect to go straight to heaven if you cross yourself slowly, pompously and in the correct form from the right side?



Have you read the Gospels?

Have you faced Christ crucified? In the spirit have you attended the Last Supper – the meaning of Holy Communion?


Are you prepared, in all humility, to understand that you will never, in this life, know beyond Faith; that Faith means accepting the Truth without proof. Faith and knowledge are the ultimate contradiction –and the ultimate absorption into each other.