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, May 31, 2015

"The Eighth Day"

Things have been going wrong for almost 40 years now (or, the vast bulk of my poor existence). In our Babylonian Exile, there seem to be four lively possibilities, of which the last is now looming larger and larger.

  1. Popovtsy, or the "Continuing" movement dating from the 1977 Congress of St. Louis. Create a new hierarchy out of whatever tatters one can manage to glue together;
  2. Beglopopovtsy, or the "Run-Away" movement dating from the formation on 22 June 2009 of the ACNA. Here the hierarchy simply ran-away intact from the established structure;
  3. Edinovertsy, or the "Personal Ordinariate" of 4 November 2009. Here the hierarchy is remade by accepting a kind of Uniate status, upon a new ordination; and, finally,
  4. Bezpopovtsy, or the Anglican equivalent of "Catacomb Catholicism." Here one, quite literally, becomes nothing more than an "underground man," completely hierarchyless.

Continue (as if nothing has changed), run-away (like you mean to get away with it), submit (to a greater, countervailing force), or go underground (into loveless, internal exile). AGTOW.

He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Seventh Month

Of course, another intriguing possibility is suggested here. This is that the fast of the Seventh Month is either inspired by, or developed in competition with, the annual fast of Yom Kippur. Here is some lectionary evidence provided from that source.

Instead of "epistle" the tables should note "lessons" (of which there are six on Saturday). The final footnote highlights the fact that the peculiar events of this gospel lection (for a Sabbath) "leads to a discussion on the meaning of Sabbath."

"Keeping Vigil"

A question: why not still?

In the liturgical organization of the week three days were very soon given a privileged place: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

As early as the end of the first century, the Didache speaks of Wednesday and Friday as fast days. In the next century, the Shepherd of Hermas, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian speak of them as 'stational' days, that is, days of fasting and penitential prayer.

All of Christian antiquity, without exception, observed the Wednesday and Friday fasts. Rome added Saturday. In the West we find the discipline being softened between the sixth and tenth centuries: first, the Wednesday observance was reduced to one of abstinence, then the Wednesday abstinence disappeared, as did the Friday fast. Only Ember Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays remained as witnesses to the ancient discipline down to the Second World War.

I suspect that the Embertides are very ancient practices. A most helpful dissertation, named in the post title, is found here. I reproduce the tables of lections for the Saturday vigil masses contained therein. Click images to enlarge.

Here (above) we see the roots of the Trinity Sunday mix ups,
with Luke 6:36 making an early appearance.

March is the first, June the fourth, September the seventh, and December the tenth month


Put together the Ember Saturday Gospel pericopes and what have you got? Perhaps an extended meditation on the complex interplay of the gaze (being seen) and the voice (being called) in the New Dispensation? A new order in which, if we are watchful, a clearing, and cleaning, and straightening, and setting right will occur?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Jewel in the Crown

Often the posts found here "trope" on the prior (or, sometimes, a long previous) post. "The party's over" was an instance of such, continuing and deforming the thoughts and topics of "Comprehension." The opposite of "comprehensiveness" is (somewhat artificially) dis-integration. Of which there is, at present, a bit too much. (In all this, Britain is, for my purposes, a mere figure.)

The quite frankly "erotic" work of the past is being undone in the "deathly" coming-apart of our milieu. It was earthly love but love all the same it was to be. And yet in moments of coming-apartness there are opportunities for new forms of being-together. I take it that Anglicanism itself is a fairly sordid example of this truth.

I revel in the unsightly history of Anglicanism, seeking to turn vice into virtue. We can't look at our own history through sentimental mists: our founders were men, pure and simple. Many tried to do the best they could, given the circumstances. Sometimes there were successes, other times abject failures. But at least we do not suffer from those uniquely post-modern delusions. All would do well, I fear, to return to an early form of imagination:

The Dalrymplean moralism was more in the mode of an afterthought. The core, however, is to be affirmed: a firm rejection of people as they are. But, of course, in my perverted perspective becoming a human being is an arduous accomplishment, which requires the work of many. It is an end never to be presumed, and not often attained.

Why can't you let her be and have some pity on her for bein' what she is?
No. No pity. I won't have it.

She ate with a spoon. Herself. And she folded her napkin.

Monday, May 25, 2015

False dichotomy

Artificially framing an either/or neatly allows both sides in this debate to actually agree upon the same false dichotomy. Of what do I speak? Of 'vain dealings'. First, the Pope:

25. But the words which until recently were commonly held by Anglicans to constitute the proper form of priestly ordination namely, "Receive the Holy Ghost," certainly do not in the least definitely express the sacred Order of Priesthood (sacerdotium) or its grace and power, which is chiefly the power "of consecrating and of offering the true Body and Blood of the Lord" (Council of Trent, Sess. XXIII, de Sacr. Ord., Canon 1) in that sacrifice which is no "bare commemoration of the sacrifice offered on the Cross" (Ibid, Sess XXII., de Sacrif. Missae, Canon 3).

This has the logical form: P and Q or R.

P = Consecrating the Body and Blood. R = Offering the Body and Blood. R = Nude commemoration. These are your only choices: P and Q or R.

But we say: P but neither Q nor R.

The Priest consecrates the Body and Blood but neither offers the Body and the Blood (to the Father) [Roman Catholicism] nor merely commemorates (in an empty fashion) the Sacrifice of the Cross [Radical Protestantism].

Consequently, the dispute really boils down to the last two: either sacerdotium, where sacerdotal power = Q, or no sacerdotium because only R (and never Q). And so the Radical Protestant can write: "Pope Leo XIII was correct to argue in Apostolicae Curae (1896) that Anglican ordination rites had never sought to create a sacrificing priesthood comparable to the model assumed in the Roman rite" and, therefore, "None of the Anglican Formularies expresses a sacerdotal understanding of the ordained ministry." (p. 9) Strange bedfellows.

Anglican priests are not Roman priests. True. The Anglican priesthood expresses nothing sacerdotal. False. But, thankfully, there is a third possibility.

“But you protestants,” ye say, “have no external sacrifice; and therefore ye have no church at all.” It pitieth me ... to see the vanity of your dealing. Have we no external sacrifice, say you? I beseech you, what sacrifice did Christ or his apostles ever command, that we have refused? Leave your misty clouds and generalities of words, and speak it plainly, that ye may seem to say some truth.

We have the sacrifice of prayer, the sacrifice of alms-deeds, the sacrifice of praise, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and the sacrifice of the death of Christ. We are taught to present our own bodies as a pure, and a holy, and a wellpleasing sacrifice unto God, and to offer up unto him the burning oblation of our lips. “These,” saith St Paul, “be the sacrifices wherewith God is pleased." These be the sacrifices of the church of God. Whosoever hath these, we cannot say he is void of sacrifice. Howbeit, if we speak of a sacrifice propitiatory for the satisfaction of sins, we have none other but only Christ Jesus the Son of God upon his cross. “He is that sacrificed Lamb of God that hath taken away the sins of the world.”

You will say: “Ye offer not up Christ really unto God his Father.” No, ... neither we nor you can so offer him; nor did Christ ever give you commission to make such sacrifice. And this is it wherewith you so foully beguile the simple. Christ offereth and presenteth us unto his Father: for “by him we have access to the throne of grace.” But no creature is able to offer him. Christ Jesus upon his cross was a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. As for our part, St Augustine saith: Holocausti ejus imaginem ad memoriam passionis sum in ecclesia celebrandam dedit: “Christ hath given us to celebrate in his church an image or token of that sacrifice for the remembrance of his passion.” Again he saith: Hujus sacrificii caro et sanguis ... post ascenionem Christi per sacramentum memoriae celebratur: “After Christ’s ascension into heaven the flesh and blood of this sacrifice is continued by a sacrament of remembrance.”

The old gray mare

It was just about time to drag out the old horses for their usual beating (no pain being inflicted, you see, for they already were long dead) when I realized ...

If one were to return to the ancient tradition of Thursdays being aliturgical, then we alone have the closest thing to the Octave of Pentecost: Whitsunday, Whit Monday, Whit Tuesday, Ember Wednesday, Ember Friday, Ember Saturday, Trinity Sunday (with the old, appropriate, and meaningful lessons of the Sunday within the octave). Not too shabby.

Interestingly, the Monday and Tuesday after Easter and Pentecost -- just like the two days after Christmas -- are holy days. Did Cranmer retain these as vestiges of the octaves? As usual, there are no answers to be found. In all events, Cranmer retained the Sarum lections (which here are in sync with Rome) and so we have what they do not.

However, here are, for your delictation, some charming customs that, of course, could not survive the iron utilitarianism of the nineteenth century:

Charities dating from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I were distributed every Whit Monday to ‘the pious poor professing the Gospel’ and to ‘sixe of ye mostly godly and impotent poore people of Draitone Beauchampe, being no newe comers to ye towne, nor dwelling in newe erected cottages’. It is not known when this tradition was discontinued. There was formerly a custom in this parish called ‘Stephening’. All the parishioners used to go to the Rectory on St. Stephen’s Day and there eat as much bread and cheese and drink as much ale as they chose, at the expense of the Rector. To the parishioners’ regret this pleasing custom was discontinued in 1827 as the Charity Commissioners were unable to find the origin of the usage or any legal obligation on the part of the Rector why he should continue it. The church possesses three pewter plates and a pewter flagon with lid, of the 17th century, presumably used in connection with the charities.

More cheese and ale, dearest Rector!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

O love divine

Come down, O love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing;
true lowliness of heart,
which takes the humbler part,
and o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace,
till he become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Sorry for the political and cultural slant this blog has taken of late. I have absolutely nothing against those who seek to deviate from the norm. But I absolutely refuse to live in a world in which whatever I am told I must believe and whatever I encounter I must affirm. No thanks.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The party's over

It's time to call it a day.


My RE teacher at school, in a moment of temporary clarity, said that the Troubles in Northern Ireland were the last remnant of the 17th century Wars of Religion. That's a bit romantic for me. I would have said that they illustrate rather the incompetence and apathy of the British government, the danger of ideologies/identity politics and that Irish nationalism is too fraught with Enlightenment ideals to be a worthy cause.


After an extraordinary 300-year run, Britain has essentially resigned as a global power.


The courage of our convictions, or ...

Thinking unsentimentally. It's hard. Awfully hard. But we have now arrived at the apogee of our age. The distillation of all our inherited wisdom, obtained via the hard-won and collective struggle of millennia?

Be yourself.

(I often say to my students: Be yourself?
Oh, please, please, whatever you do, don't do that.
Couldn't you imagine, even for a moment, being something a bit better?

This scrambled mash-up invokes or calls down upon us the collected thoughts of Mr. Dalrymple.

  • The cause of much contemporary misery in Western countries – criminality, domestic violence, drug addiction, aggressive youths, hooliganism, broken families – is the nihilistic, decadent and/or self-destructive behaviour of people who do not know how to live. Both the smoothing over of this behaviour, and the medicalisation of the problems that emerge as a corollary of this behaviour, are forms of indifference. Someone has to tell those people, patiently and with understanding for the particulars of the case, that they have to live differently.
  • Poverty does not explain aggressive, criminal and self-destructive behaviour. In an African slum you will find among the very poor, living in dreadful circumstances, dignity and decency in abundance, which are painfully lacking in an average English suburb, although its inhabitants are much wealthier.
  • An attitude characterised by gratefulness and having obligations towards others has been replaced – with awful consequences – by an awareness of "rights" and a sense of entitlement, without responsibilities. This leads to resentment as the rights become violated by parents, authorities, bureaucracies and others in general.
  • One of the things that make Islam attractive to young westernised Muslim men is the opportunity it gives them to dominate women.
  • Technocratic or bureaucratic solutions to the problems of mankind produce disasters in cases where the nature of man is the root cause of those problems.
  • It is a myth, when going "cold turkey" from an opiate such as heroin, that the withdrawal symptoms are virtually unbearable; they are in fact hardly worse than flu.
  • Criminality is much more often the cause of drug addiction than its consequence.
  • Sentimentality, which is becoming entrenched in British society, is "the progenitor, the godparent, the midwife of brutality".
  • High culture and refined aesthetic tastes are worth defending, and despite the protestations of non-judgmentalists who say all expression is equal, they are superior to popular culture.
  • The ideology of the Welfare State is used to diminish personal responsibility. Erosion of personal responsibility makes people dependent on institutions and favours the existence of a threatening and vulnerable underclass.
  • Moral relativism can easily be a trick of an egotistical mind to silence the voice of conscience.
  • Multiculturalism and cultural relativism are at odds with common sense.
  • The decline of civilised behaviour – self-restraint, modesty, zeal, humility, irony, detachment – ruins social and personal life.
  • The root cause of our contemporary cultural poverty is intellectual dishonesty. First, the intellectuals (more specifically, left-wing ones) have destroyed the foundation of culture, and second, they refuse to acknowledge it by resorting to the caves of political correctness.
  • Beyond and above all other nations in the world, Britain is the place where all the evils summarised above are most clearly manifest.

Live differently.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Both 'comprehension' and Anglican 'comprehensiveness' are long gone. Too bad. From my perspective, the middle was held by Catholicism, not Latitudinarianism. It was the super-evangelicals and the super-liberals that represented the fringes, and it was these two groups who eventually formed the devilish pact to wreck it all with women's ordination. But since politics is a bitch, it wasn't long before the Low Churchers found themselves being shown the door.

Now, thanks to their combined efforts, *Teh Episcopal Church* is high ritualist and completely Pelagian: the rite affirms us. It is now the indisputable home of this:

All praise and glory be unto us!

Consequently, I really shouldn't bother myself with the Evangelicals. While, on second thought, I could probably live with 1662 completely unrecast, what could be the point of fetishizing just one particular expression? If the goal is the practice of the Primitive Church, then surely 1662 represents a truly noble effort that now has been superseded by history and the growth of thought and knowledge. Nevertheless, I would be willing to chuck it all and start from there if something significant thence could really be achieved.

But that is utterly doubtful. These people think 1928 is heretical. While pointed, their readings are really quite perverse. And yet, I even embrace some of these perversities by highlighting the fact that the target they seek is actually a liberal or Latitudinarian view of eucharistic sacrifice. It is not Catholic but fully Pelagian and 'methetic'.

And so, qua sacrament, I can fully agree that it should adhere to the "four" points found in Articles XXV and XXVIII; namely, that the Sacrament is

  1. an Effectual Sign (with backwards reference only);
  2. a Divine Act (i.e., it is primarily a one-way street);
  3. an Effective Proclamation (in the present, to man); and
  4. requiring a Worthy Reception.

And while God needs neither our worship nor our gifts, we do so for the greatness of His nature and His goodness to us. And it is there that the other side of the street -- the one that they will never see -- lies.

The Sense of the Canon

And that this is the sense of the canon, appears by those words after consecration, when they say, “We offer to thy Majesty a pure sacrifice of thy donations and gifts.” Which words plainly suppose, that they are in nature what they were, God’s creatures still, not the appearance and shadow of them only. But they call them now the “bread of eternal life, and the cup of salvation;” because, after they are blessed and made sacraments, they are not now to be looked upon as bodily food, but as the food of our souls, as representing that body of Christ, and his passion, which is the bread of eternal life.

If they had understood nothing to remain now after consecration, of Christ’s natural body, they would not have called this thy gifts, in the plural number, but expressed it in the singular, thy gift. Neither can they refer to the remaining accidents, because they are no real things, and rather tell us what God has taken away (the whole substance of them), than what he has given.

But then what follows, puts it out of all doubt: “upon which (still in the plural) look propitiously.” If it had been, “look upon us propitiously for the sake of Christ,” it had been well enough. Or, to desire of God to look “upon these things propitiously which they offer;” if they mean (as he that made the prayer did), that God would accept this oblation of bread and wine, as he did of Abel and Melchizedek (which latter was indeed bread and wine), this had been very proper. But to make that which we offer to be Christ himself (as they that believe transubstantiation must expound it), and to desire God to look propitiously and benignly upon him, when there can be no fear that he should ever be unacceptable to his Father, nor none can be so foolish as to think that Christ stands in need of our recommendation to God for acceptance, this sense can never be agreeable to the prayer. Therefore the most ancient of all the spurious Liturgies, I mean that attributed to Clemens in his Constitutions, has given us the true sense of it: “We offer to thee this bread and this cup — and we beseech thee to look favourably upon these gifts set before thee, O God, who standest in need of nothing; and be well pleased with them for the honour of thy Christ,” &c.

Would it not run finely, to pray that God would be well pleased with Christ, for the honour of his Christ?

But besides the petition, that God would look propitiously upon them, it follows in the canon, “that God would accept them, as he did the gifts of Abel, and Abraham, and Melchizedek.” How unagreeable is this (if Christ himself be understood here), to make the comparison for acceptance, betwixt a lamb and a calf, or bread and wine, and Christ the Son of God, with whom he was always highly pleased!

But then what follows still entangles matters more in the Church of Rome’s sense; the prayer, that God “would command these things to be carried by the hands of his holy angel to the high altar above.” For how can the body of Christ be carried by angels to heaven, which never left it since his ascension, but is always there? Besides the high altar above, in the sense of the ancients, is Christ himself. And Remigius of Auxerre tells us, that St. Gregory’s opinion of the sacrament was, that “it was snatched into heaven by angels, to be joined to the body of Christ there.” But then in the sense of transubstantiation, what absurd stuff is here to pray, that Christ’s body may be joined to his own body? So that there can be no sense in the prayer but ours, to understand it of the elements offered devoutly, first at this altar below, which by being blessed become Christ’s representative body, and obtain acceptance above through his intercession there. And thus it is fully explained by the author of the Constitutions: “Let us entreat God, through his Christ, for the gift offered to the Lord God, that the good God, by the mediation of his Christ, would receive it to his celestial altar, for a sweet-smelling savour.”

Monday, May 18, 2015


I have been struggling to understand the Evangelical point of view. Quite a few of them make 1662 the litmus test, which is odd as it is neither the first nor the last Anglican liturgical expression. In the end, with all its oddities, I could embrace it with only one small change: the Words of Institution ought be followed by a slightly fuller Anamnesis, Oblation, and Doxology.

It wouldn't even have to be as wordy as 1637 (just the first and the last sentence, perhaps):

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 Majestie, with these thy holy gifts, the memoriall which thy Son hath willed us to make, having in remembrance his blessed passion, mightie resurrection, and glorious assension, rendring unto thee most heartie thankes for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same. And we entirely desire thy Fatherly goodnesse, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Sonne Jesus Christ, and through faith in his bloud, we (and all thy whole church) may obtain remission of our sinnes, and all other benefits of his passion. And here wee offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee, humbly beseeching thee, that whosoever shall be partakers of this holy communion, may worthily receive the most precious bodie and bloud of thy Son Jesus Christ, and be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one bodie with him, that he may dwell in them, and they in him. And although wee be unworthie, through our manifold sinnes, to offer unto thee any sacrifice: yet wee beseech thee to accept this our bounden dutie and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord ; by whom, and with whom, in the unitie of the holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father almightie, world without end. Amen.

But we need: we remember, we offer, we give you glory. If the hard response is "False knaves, willt thou say mass at my lug," then I must submit that this is not the Roman doctrine. Nothing here suggests a re-sacrifice of the Risen Lord.

For a long time I was confused by various theological pronouncements: Rome -- no more and no less than any other denomination -- rests upon consistency only when it suits her. Sometimes there is a division rift between sacrament and sacrifice, sometimes between the Last Supper and the Cross. But forget about all that: the real sticking point is all there precisely in the prayer itself.

Two (contrasting) examples:

The Roman Canon:

... and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.

Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.

Eucharistic Prayer IV:

... and ... we offer you his body and blood, the acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world.

Most ironically, from my point of view, the Roman Canon is far superior: what we offer is the bread and the cup, which are clearly analogized to the cereal offerings of the Old Testament.

But Prayer IV displays a very different view: we offer the Body and Blood of the Son to the Father, in propitiation for his ever-present (albeit justified) anger, in order that, in our offering thereby, sins may be forgiven.

We, of course, can only see it otherwise:

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Transitional forms

I recently scooped up a bunch of missalettes from the 1960s. Perhaps one day I shall subject them to greater scrutiny.

I doubt they contain anything that will shed light on this question, though:

It seems to imply that a thorough recasting of the Roman liturgy had already been decided upon and there was no changing course.

I have yet to discover a satisfactory proposal as to why the old liturgy in the vernacular (essentially the Missal of 1965) was not a practical option.

One similar unexamined topic might be other temporary and transitional liturgical forms, such as this one, from 1964. It already goes way, way beyond 1965, it appears:

There is some discussion of this strange entity here. I know nothing, unfortunately. Nada.

Zeitgeist, anyone?


Those of you who aren’t up on Eastern liturgical music need an abbreviated history run through, so we’ll take care of that first.

Just like in the West, chant began as monophonic — just one voice, or melody. Possibly (and I say “possibly” because although this is the explanation I have always seen and it seems reasonable, I really haven’t seen anything supporting it) anyway, possibly because no instruments other than the human voice were allowed in the East, Byzantine chant developed the ison, which began as a continuous, sustained note, the base note of the tone, or mode, of the chant, ostensibly so the chanter would have a reference pitch and not drift out of tune. At some point, the original ison morphed into moving ison, where the ison or pedal tone “harmonized” with the chant melody. At this point, Eastern chant, which had been monophonic, developed into the most primitive form of homophony (a melody accompanied by chords).

Moving ison did not replace traditional ison. You still hear both.

Saints Cyril and Methodius and their missionaries took Byzantine chant to Slavic Eastern Europe, where it was nativized. Znammeny chant is held up as the original Russian liturgical music. Znammeny is traditional two-voice, chant with ison, though moving ison is more frequently heard than traditional ison.

Before we go on, all Eastern liturgical music is, like Gregorian chant, built around as system of eight tones (the octoechos), roughly corresponding to the eight modes of Gregorian chant. Eastern liturgical music has many different systems of those eight tones, however.

So Westerners out of luck? Stuck with the same old same old? Consider 'Il Canto Ambrosiano':

What we do know for certain is that a sizeable number of the oldest extant Ambrosian chants exhibit characteristics which were later expunged from or modified by the Gregorian repertory. These include: the most extensive melismatic (i.e. originally improvised ornamental passages) in all of Western chant; chant forms which were radically shortened and codified by the Franconians; the most extensive Alleluia formulae; chant formulae which predate the Franconian octoechos (8-mode) system and defy classification; ranges which far exceed the normal Gregorian chant range; melodic patterns which are much more diatonic rather than pentatonic and which can easily be sung to an ison or pedal tone; the distinctively Italianate preference for the iambic (long-short) rhythmic organization.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


The Church of England has all the sacrifice which the Catholic Church has, and she dares not have more. In her Office for the Holy Communion

Monday, May 11, 2015


53. The “common prayer” or “prayer of the faithful” is to be restored after the gospel and homily, especially on Sundays and holidays of obligation. By this prayer -- in which the people are to take part -- intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world.

The common prayer -- of those Apostolick days -- well, ... we have had it for almost 500 years now. We don't -- or shouldn't -- have to worry about "the literary, theological, and spiritual quality of the petitions". And true genius was to make this no part of the Liturgy of the Word, nor to embed it within the Consecration, but rather to make it part and parcel of the Offertory.

Still working on the English Rite. Here is my proposal for the "restored" Anglican Offertory -- no Romanisms, deeply scriptural, division of labour, "work" for all, etc.


The Offertory

Then the Priest shall return to the Holy Table and begin the Offertory, saying one or more of these Sentences following, as he thinketh most convenient.

Offertory Sentences

Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

Genesis xiv. 18

Give alms of thy goods, and never turn thy face from any poor man; and then the face of the Lord shall not be turned away from thee.

Tobit iv. 7

and et cetera

Then shall the Deacon say,

LET us present our offerings to the Lord with reverence and godly fear.

The Church-wardens, or other fit persons appointed for that purpose, shall receive the Alms for the Poor, and other Offerings of the People, in a decent Basin to be provided by the Parish; and reverently bring it to the Deacon, who shall humbly present and place it upon the Holy Table.

And when the Alms and Oblations are being received and presented, there shall be sung the Offertory chant. Following that, here may also be sung a motet, a hymn, or both, as required.

Offertory Chant


(Psalm 89. 12, 15) The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine; thou hast laid the foundation of the round world, and all that therein is: Righteousness and equity are the habitation of thy seat.

And the Priest shall then offer, and shall place upon the Holy Table, the Bread and the Wine.

Offertory Prayer

BLESSED be thou, Lord God of Israel, our Father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. Amen.

1 Chronicles xxix. 11-14

The Prayers of the People

Then shall the Deacon say,

LET us pray for the whole state of Christ’s church.


Then shall the Priest say,

ALMIGHTY and everliving GOD, which by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers and supplications, and to give thanks for all men: We humbly beseech thee most mercifully to accept our alms and oblations, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy divine Majesty, beseeching thee to inspire continually the universal church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all they that do confess thy holy name, may agree in the truth of thy holy word, and live in unity and godly love.

Then shall the Deacon say,

Let us remember those who bear the burdens of authority, especially Christian Kings and Rulers.


Then shall the Priest say [and so forth],

We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian kings, princes, and governours: aid them with the armour of thy Spirit, that in all things they may seek thy honour and glory, and that under them thy people may joyfully serve thee in all quietness and godly fear.

D: Let us remember our Fathers in God, and the sacred ministers of the holy Church.

P: Give grace, O heavenly father, to all Bishops, Pastors, and Curates, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy true and lively word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.

D: Let us remember one another, and our fellow members in Christ’s Body.

P: And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, that with meek heart and due reverence they may hear and receive thy holy word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.

D: Let us remember those who travel, and those in any special affliction or distress.

P: And we most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all them, which in this transitory life be in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.

D: Let us remember those who have gone before us, especially the glorious saints of God.

P: And here we do give unto thee most high praise, and hearty thanks, for the wonderful grace and virtue, declared in all thy saints, from the beginning of the world: And chiefly in the glorious and most blessed virgin Mary, mother of thy son Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, and in the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs and Confessors, whose examples, O Lord, and steadfastness in thy faith, and keeping thy holy commandments, grant us to follow.

D: Let us remember the faithful departed.

P: We commend unto thy mercy, O Lord, all other thy servants, which are departed hence from us, with the sign of faith, and now do rest in the sleep of peace: Grant unto them, we beseech thee, thy mercy, and everlasting peace, and that, at the day of the general resurrection, we and all they which be of the mystical body of thy son, may altogether be set on his right hand, and hear that his most joyful voice: Come unto me, O ye that be blessed of my father, and possess the kingdom, which is prepared for you from the beginning of the world:

Grant all this, O father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.

The Collect Post Nomina

O almighty and eternal God, who hast bestowed on us the paschal mysteries in the token of the covenant of man’s redemption, give us the will to show forth in our lives that which we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rite, not Right

Because an infant is unable to make a profession of faith, the Anglican understanding of Christian initiation requires that this profession is made on behalf of the infant by parents and godparents who thereby undertake to raise the child in the fullness of the faith—the “full stature of Christ.” Baptism is a rite of the church not a civil right of the individual and parents. It is certainly not some kind of medieval amulet against ill fortune for babies.

Under the Anglican concept of “lex orandi, lex credendi” (the rule of prayer is the rule of faith) the public worship of the church is the teaching of the church. When a same sex couple (or an unmarried couple) present their child for baptism they are required to answer publicly the following question:

“Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

I renounce them.”

This question and answer, as well as others in the baptismal covenant, unavoidably present the question of what the church’s teaching on sex outside traditional marriage really is. If the same sex or unmarried couple answers this question affirmatively, they and the officiant are publicly proclaiming that the teaching of the church does not consider their relationship sinful. Under the lex orandi standard, that is the teaching of the church.

Um, oops?

Post scriptum: Lest I be misunderstood, I have no desire to deny baptism to anyone and would think that the practical problem could be solved by sufficiently strong Godparents, drawn from within the congregation in question.

My objection is in the title of the post and, so, is closely related to the following line of thought: "... the new, thinner view of baptism, buttressed now by an ideological notion of baptism as an instrument of social legitimation for gay couples, seems to have made it morally inexcusable even to suggest that the church has an obligation to discern whether the child’s parents or sponsors properly understand and consent to the teaching of the church on behalf of the child, or whether there is a reasonable expectation that the child himself will be raised into a proper understanding of this faith and practice. This is deeply unfortunate ...."

The Return of the King


Dom Germain Morin has shown that at Capua, in the sixth century, and also in Spain, Mass was celebrated during Lent only on the Wednesday and the Friday. It is probable that a similar rule, but including the Monday also, obtained in England in the days of Bede or even later (see "Revue Benedictine", 1891, VIII, 529). At Rome we also know that down to the time of Pope Gregory II (715-731), the liturgy was not celebrated on Thursdays. In the East, Canon xlix of the Council of Laodicea (365?), laid it down "that it is not lawful to offer bread in Lent except on the Saturday and the Lord's day", while the Council of Constantinople (in Trullo), in 692, speaks explicity of the liturgy of the presanctified and appoints it to be celebrated on all days of Lent, except the Saturday, the Sunday, and the feast of the Annunciation.


Prior to the first part of the eighth century, the church of Rome shared the custom of Byzantium and Milan in abstaining from the celebration of Mass on a regular basis during Lent; all of the Thursdays of Lent were “aliturgical”, (with the obvious exception of Holy Thursday,) as were the Saturday before the first Sunday of Lent, and the Saturday before Palm Sunday. (The term aliturgical refers, of course, only to the Eucharistic liturgy, not to the Divine Office.) The Würzburg Lectionary, the oldest surviving lectionary of the Roman Rite, represents the Roman tradition of the mid-seventh century, and contains the oldest list of Lenten Stations; in it, we find no stations or readings appointed for these days.

The original pattern shines through, even with the overlay.

Why did this change?

The collection of papal biographies called the Liber Pontificalis tells us that Pope St. Gregory II (715-731) changed this custom, “establish(ing) that on Thursday in the Lenten season there should be a fast and the solemn celebration of Mass, which the blessed Pope Melchiades (311-314) had prohibited.” Under Melchiades himself, it is also noted that “the blessed Gregory (the Great) in arranging the offices (i.e. liturgies) left Thursday within Lent empty.” This is the reason why even in the Missal of St. Pius V, the masses of the Thursdays of Lent have no proper chant parts, borrowing their introits, graduals, offertories and communions from other masses; the respect for the tradition codified by Gregory the Great was such that it was deemed better not to add new pieces to the established repertoire. The two formerly aliturgical Saturdays, on the other hand, simply repeat the Gregorian propers from the previous day, indicating that their masses were added by a different Pope.

The question naturally arises, however, as to why the Pope felt the need to change the long-standing tradition. The answer seems to be in the controversies between the Popes of that era and the Byzantine Emperors over the Quinisext Synod.

The distinct and condensed formula of the Agnus Dei itself, however, was not apparently introduced into the Mass until the year 687, when Pope Sergius I decreed that during the fraction of the Host both clergy and people should sing the Agnus Dei: "Hic statuit ut tempore confractionis dominici corporis Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis, a clero et a populo decantetur" (Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, I, 381, note 42). Duchesne, accepting the view of Sergius's reason propounded by Cardinal Bona, says: "il n'est pas defendu de voir, dans ce décret de Sergius, une protestation contre le canon 82 du concile in Trullo, qui proscrivit la representation symbolique du Sauveur sous forme d'agneau".

Oh Byzantium! Up yours!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Essential reading

Of all the features of that wonderful human structure, the Roman Empire, the most striking, and also the most essential, was its Mediterranean character. Although in the East it was Greek, and in the West, Latin, its Mediterranean character gave it a unity which impressed itself upon the provinces as a whole. The inland sea, in the full sense of the term Mare nostrum, was the vehicle of ideas, and religions, and merchandise. The provinces of the North — Belgium, Britain, Germany, Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia — were merely outlying ramparts against barbarism. Life was concentrated on the shores of the great lake. Without it Rome could not have been supplied with African wheat. It was more beneficent than ever now that it could be navigated in perfect security, since piracy had long disappeared. On the roads that led thither from all the provinces the traffic of these provinces converged upon the sea. As one travelled away from it civilization became more rarefied. The last great city of the North was Lyons. Treves owed its greatness only to its rank of temporary capital. All the other cities of importance — Carthage, Alexandria, Naples, Antioch — were on or near the sea ...

In the 7th century the ancient Roman Empire had actually become an Empire of the East; the Empire of Charles was an Empire of the West.

In reality, each of the two Empires ignored the other.

And in conformity with the direction followed by history, the centre of this Empire was in the North, to which the new centre of gravity of Europe had shifted. With the Frankish kingdom — but it was the Austrasian-Germanic Frankish kingdom — the Middle Ages had their beginning. After the period during which the Mediterranean unity subsisted — from the 5th to the 8th century — the rupture of that unity had displaced the axis of the world.

Germanism began to play its part in history. Hitherto the Roman tradition had been uninterrupted. Now an original Romano-Germanic civilization was about to develop.


Father Z opineth:

How about our Protestant friends who, sadly, do not have access to this beautiful fount of mercy which is the Sacrament of Penance? How are their sins forgiven? Are their sins forgiven?

Bluntly put, we don’t know.

And so, "by this we see how the papacy maketh all sin unpardonable, which hath not the priest’s absolution; except peradventure in some extraordinary case, where albeit absolution be not had, yet it must be desired ... They bind all men, upon pain of everlasting condemnation and death, to make confession to their ghostly fathers of every great offence they know, and can remember that they have committed against God."

What then shall we do?

It standeth with us in the Church of England, as touching public confession, thus:

First, seeing day by day we in our Church begin our public prayers to Almighty God with public acknowledgment of our sins, in which confession every man prostrate as it were before his glorious Majesty crieth guilty against himself; and the minister with one sentence pronounceth universally all clear, whose acknowledgment so made hath proceeded from a true penitent mind; what reason is there every man should not under the general terms of confession represent to himself his own particulars whatsoever, and adjoining thereunto that affection which a contrite spirit worketh, embrace to as full effect the words of divine Grace, as if the same were severally and particularly uttered with addition of prayers, imposition of hands, or all the ceremonies and solemnities that might be used for the strengthening of men’s affiance in God’s peculiar mercy towards them? Such complements are helps to support our weakness, and not causes that serve to procure or produce his gifts. If with us there be “truth in the inward parts,” as David speaketh, the difference of general and particular forms in confession and absolution is not so material, that any man’s safety or ghostly good should depend upon it.

And for private confession and absolution it standeth thus with us:

The minister’s power to absolve is publicly taught and professed, the Church not denied to have authority either of abridging or enlarging the use and exercise of that power, upon the people no such necessity imposed of opening their transgressions unto men, as if remission of sins otherwise were impossible; neither any such opinion had of the thing itself, as though it were either unlawful or unprofitable, saving only for these inconveniences, which the world hath by experience observed in it heretofore. And in regard thereof, the Church of England hitherto hath thought it the safer way to refer men’s hidden crimes unto God and themselves only; howbeit, not without special caution for the admonition of such as come to the holy Sacrament, and for the comfort of such as are ready to depart the world.

And the power of the keys?

Our Lord and Saviour in the sixteenth of St. Matthew’s Gospel giveth his Apostles regiment in general over God’s Church. For they that have the keys of the kingdom of heaven are thereby signified to be stewards of the house of God, under whom they guide, command, judge, and correct his family. The souls of men are God’s treasure, committed to the trust and fidelity of such as must render a strict account for the very least which is under their custody. God hath not invested them with power to make a revenue thereof, but to use it for the good of them whom Jesus Christ hath most dearly bought.

And because their office herein consisteth of sundry functions, some belonging to doctrine, some to discipline, all contained in the name of the Keys; they have for matters of discipline, as well litigious as criminal, their courts and consistories erected by the heavenly authority of his most sacred voice, who hath said, Dic Ecclesiæ, Tell the Church: against rebellious and contumacious persons which refuse to obey their sentence, armed they are with power to eject such out of the Church, to deprive them of the honours, rights, and privileges of Christian men, to make them as heathen and publicans, with whom society was hateful.

That is all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hear, hear!

"The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity."

The resolution further states, "The Church of Ireland recognises for itself and of itself, no other understanding of marriage than that provided for in the totality of Canon 31. The Church of Ireland teaches therefore that faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse. Members of the Church of Ireland are required by the Catechism to keep their bodies in ‘temperance, soberness and chastity’. Clergy are called in the Ordinal to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Jesus Christ’."

By this resolution, the General Synod declared very clearly that heterosexual marriage was and is the God-ordained sphere for sexual relationships and is alone the ‘normative’ context for such relationships.


What he actually said: “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience are due; the next whereunto, is what any man can necessarily conclude by force of Reason; after this, the voice of the church succeedeth.”

The following mash-up borrows from here, there, and elsewhere, in order to attempt an application of the principle given above. Not much original, I am afraid.


  • "Anglicans recognize only one dogma about Mary: that she is the Theotokos, the Mother of God. All other doctrines, beliefs, or legends about Mary are secondary to her role as Mother of God."
  • "Anglicans recognize Mary as an example of holiness, faith and obedience for all Christians; and that Mary can be seen as a prophetic figure of the Church. As the Gospel of Luke (1.48) states 'henceforth all nations shall call me blessed', she is often considered to have a unique place of importance within the Communion of Saints."
  • "The Anglican Communion observes all the traditional Marian festivals of the ancient Catholic Church."

Given Mary’s centrality in the economy of salvation it could hardly be seemly to give her neither pride of place amongst all the saints nor the title of Theotokos.

The Feasts of the Purification, Annunciation, and Visitation are and will continue to be celebrated.

Given a scriptural basis, no Anglican could reasonably forswear traditional chants and hymns, nor the uttering of such, as a pious ejaculation:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of God, all generations shall call thee blessed, for thou hast borne the saviour for all the world.


  • "Some Anglicans agree that the doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary is sound and logical, but without more scriptural proof it cannot be considered dogmatic."
  • "Most Anglicans reject the idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix and any interpretation of the role of Mary that obscures the unique mediation of Christ. Anglicans typically believe that all doctrines concerning Mary must be linked with the doctrines of Christ and the Church."

An ascription such as “Blessed Mary, Ever-Virgin” is coherent with a possible reading of scripture. Hence, theological espousal of such is (strictly speaking) ‘reasonable’ yet scarcely to be mandated [= very weak proof].

Any and all proposals that Our Lady be deemed the 'co-mediatrix of all grace' or 'mediatrix of all grace' or 'co-redemptrix' are utterly impossible and must be repulsed as they militate strongly against our received creeds and our doctrines of salvation [= very strong disproof].


  • "Most Anglicans generally believe that the Roman Catholic dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary are merely pious beliefs or legends, since there is no clear reference in Scripture to support them ..."

Scripture is completely silent and no true proofs are possible. Given our completely uncertainty about both, the palpable Orthodox apprehensions about the former, and, yet, the relative antiquity of the latter, I would think that the Scottish Prayer Book yields the best example:


O GOD, who as on this day didst take to thyself the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of thy Son: Grant that we who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thy eternal kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


In this defence of the English Church, I have frankly admitted all the faults of undiscipline, doctrinal compromise and reaction which we think can be fairly laid to our Church's charge. I believe that these are to be set over-against the arrogant claims, the exaggerations of truth, the falsifications of history, the accretions of error, which must be laid to the charge of Rome. Which set of faults is the greater which Church is more guilty in the eyes of God it is not for us to determine, it is not our business to attempt to determine. The evils of a Church into which by God's providence we were new-born, granted she be a Church, are not an excuse for leaving her, but a spur to action. And I am sure that we Anglicans feel a hearty thankfulness to Almighty God, that He has caused our lot to be cast in a Church, which, however deeply she has sinned, can acknowledge her sins; which, however great her defects even in her authoritative formulas, is not prevented by any arrogation to herself of what belongs to a greater whole, from confessing them and openly seeking to reform them. Better anything than to be unable to bear the light: better anything than to be unable to face the facts of history and frankly accept them: better any evils than to have to speak deceitfully for God.

Further than this, however much there may be to be regretted and reformed in the teaching and practice of the Anglican Church at the present day, I must in fairness say that there is no even unauthorized practice of the English Church which I had not as soon be responsible for, as for that withdrawal of the chalice from the laity, to which the whole authority of the Church of Rome is committed:-- that I have never heard a sermon in an English Church more to be regretted than one it was once my lot to hear in Strasburg Cathedral, in which Christ was preached as the revelation of Divine justice and Mary as the revelation of Divine love: I have not read in Anglican biography anything which I should more desire to disown than Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan's description of the Pope saying Mass:-- "When I heard him sing Mass I cannot express what I felt: it was the God of earth prostrate in adoration before the God of heaven"! I have not been confronted in an Anglican book of devotion with any prayer more impossible to pray than

Soul of the Virgin, illuminate me;
Body of the Virgin, guard me;
Milk of the Virgin, feed me;
Passage of the Virgin, strengthen me;
O Mary, mother of grace, intercede for me;
For thy servant take me;
Make me always to trust in thee;
From all evils protect me;
In the hour of my death assist me;
And prepare for me a safe way to thee;
That with all the elect I may glorify thee;
For ever and ever.

Thus, all things considered, we Anglicans thank God that He has put us elsewhere than in the Roman Church, though we would fain give her an ungrudging recognition of her glories, and are very far from believing that all even of her educated members need be conscious of that temper in her modern theology which to us is so intolerable.

Beautiful Losers

The news appeared in my Twitter feed yesterday that St. Paul’s K Street has gone through a process of discernment and is welcoming women clergy to their altar as well as same-sex blessings. I know with regard to the first that this was a move that had been in process for a while.

And there is no future
In England's dreaming

No future, no future,
No future for you
No future, no future,
No future for me

No future, no future,
No future for you
No future, no future
For you

The Kool-Aid

Don't drink it.

I admire Father Hunwicke's erudition but I must respectfully dissent from S Pius V: the BIG MISTAKE, THE UNIVERSAL MYTH. The new Missal is imposed, and the following is a completely ambiguous afterthought, buried somewhere in the details:

nisi ab ipsa prima institutione a Sede Apostolica adprobata, vel consuetudine, quae, vel ipsa institutio super ducentos annos Missarum celebrandarum in eisdem Ecclesiis assidue observata sit:

[EVERYBODY] unless approved by the Apostolic See from the very beginning of institution, or by custom, which, if that be not the very institution of those churches over the two hundred years old, is constantly to be observed in the Masses so celebrated;

This is bureaucratic speech -- as well as a fairly harsh criterion -- and the ambiguity is designed to insure that most will be completely unclear about whether the exception actually applies to them: therefore, the only safe thing to do is ....

Let's imagine something different. The question then to be put (and answered truly) is:

What is truly a mark of catholicity and of ecumenical significance? Leave out the ARCIC declarations for a moment and the patsy status of the Church of England; if you meet an old-fashioned Anglican on 1st May and you have a conversation about faith, you're already on common ground in celebrating the same feast day. This is how bridges are built! Something substantive and traditional is a predicate. Do not insist upon the latest papal fiat simply because of what Mediator Dei declares about the liturgical authority of the Roman see. That is what leads to estrangement and hatred.

Let's start from a tradition of practice.
First the cake. Then, the theory for cutting it.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Sheffer Stroke

A real choice -- yes, that would be nice. I am nominally a member of the Democratic Party and yet I completely abominate it, in its present incarnation. But that doesn't mean I am going to become a Republican.

Let's review the Professio fidei Tridentina. It's actually gotten a bit longer since but ....

I think what is highlighted in yellow points more towards areas of difference in emphasis and terminology. I don't see these as 'make or break' issues, where compromise is just plain impossible.

The red? That's another story entirely. And who stands precisely where ... now?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Erat homo ex pharisaeis

Although the Octave of Pentecost is very ancient, Rome and the Papal court never kept the first Sunday after Pentecost as part of it. (This forms another parallel with Easter, since the liturgy of Low Sunday differs in many respects from that of Easter itself.) In northern Europe, as noted above, the Octave Day was a proper octave, repeating the Mass of the feast, but with different readings: Apocalypse 4, 1-10 as the Epistle, and John 3, 1-16 as the Gospel. Both of these traditions were slowly but steadily displaced by the feast of the Trinity, first kept at Liège in the early 10th century; but there was a divergence of customs here as well. When Pope John XXII (1316-34) ordered that Holy Trinity be celebrated throughout the Western Church, he placed it on the Sunday after Pentecost, a custom which became universal after Trent. But even as late as the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Low Countries and several major dioceses in Germany still kept the older Octave Day of Pentecost, and put the feast of the Trinity on the Monday after.

Others compromised between the older custom and the new by keeping the readings from the Octave of Pentecost, but inserting them into the Mass of the Trinity; this was observed at Sarum, and by the medieval Dominicans and Premonstratensians. After the Tridentine reform, however, as part of the general tendency to Romanize liturgical books, this compromise was retained only by the Old Observance Carmelites, leaving the first part of the Nicodemus Gospel only on the Finding of the Cross for all the rest of the Roman Rite.

In 1960, the feast was suppressed from the general Calendar, and relegated to the Missal’s appendix “for some places”, causing the effective disappearance of the crucial Gospel passage from the liturgy of Easteride. This defect been partially remedied in the Novus Ordo; the reading is broken into two pieces, assigned to the Monday and Tuesday after Low Sunday, but not to any major feast of the season.

So, in Rome, the dominica vacat was observed, which was never the case in the north of Europe. Given the disappearance of the Pascha annotinum and the suppression of feasts of the Holyrood (goodbye, Roodmas!), this seminal reading vanishes completely from the central Roman Rite, only to miserably re-appear in the RCL, where it will be encountered by no one. No. One.

Now that's progress! "Tanks, Holy Fadder!"

The real "losses" and the supposed "gains" of such liturgical fascism are truly encompassed in the story of what happened to our venerable May 1. True progress would be total suppression of almost all post-Eleventh-century "feasts" (of Trinity, Corpus Christi, and the utterly ascriptural "Conception" and "Nativity" of the BVM, inter alia, along with all Franciscan-style devotion and outright fetishism, such as the "Holy Family" and the "Immaculate Heart").

(Because Transubstantiation overthroweth the "nature of a Sacrament" -- i.e., its function as sign, which pointeth not to itself but elsewhere, to its true reference (to heaven) -- if we really need to avail ourselves of such fetishism, I have always favoured the Most Precious Blood over all other contenders, precisely because it is much more difficult to "iconify" and, thence, to superstitiously worship the fluid 'creature' of wine.)

When that rubbish is cleared out, give me a call!

Friday, May 1, 2015


... or, the Rumpus Room.

Click to enlarge its hideous splendour.


Imagine for a moment, that Jerome, or Musaeus, or Alcuin, or Bede formed such a collection of lessons, covering not only the Sundays of the year, but the feria, and festivals and martyrdays, when nothing of the kind had fixed itself in the general habit of the Church before! Who cannot see at once how impossible it would be to introduce such a collection from diocese to diocese throughout the Church, when Catholic tradition and custom had all the authority of common law, and to accomplish this too without one syllable of earnest protest, or without any intimation of resistance? It is absurd. These Lectionaria could not, of themselves, have introduced the practice as something before unknown, but rather the general custom already existing necessitated their formation to serve its own ends. The Lectionaria themselves, as we shall see, give clear evidence of this.

Augusti, in his valuable work on Christian antiquities (vol. vi. p. 211), has given a carefully prepared synopsis of part of the four works just mentioned above. From an examination of this synopsis, the close uniformity of the pericopes and other Scripture readings connected with the ancient and leading festivals of the Church, is plainly observable. Take for example the Epiphany festival, undoubtedly of extreme antiquity, which, while referring back to the Nativity and Circumcision of Christ, included the adoration of the Wise men led by the miraculous star, the baptism at Jordan, and the first miracle at Cana. Here the uniformity is complete in all the general features. The pericopes for Circumcision are in the Menologium, Luke ii. 21-40; in the Liber Comitis, Luke ii. 21-32; in the Lectionarium Gall., Luke ii. 21-40, including an Epistle, 1 Cor. x. 14-31; in the Callendarium Rom., Luke ii. 21-32. For Epiphany, in the Menolog., Matt. iii. 13-17 (the Baptism); in the Lib. Com. Matt. ii. 1-12 (the adoration of the Wise men, with an octave, however, taking up the Baptism); in the Lect. Gall., Matt. iii. 13-17, combined with John ii. (the first miracle); in the Callend. Rom., Matt. ii. 1-12.

It is plain that the uniformity here manifest has its ground in the early and wide spread custom of the Church, and not in any individual and arbitrary compilation imposed by this one or that one—a custom too contemporaneous, we may say, with the observance of the festival itself, which grouped around it a cluster of pericopes of uniform character, as seen above. This is further and more fully confirmed the moment we examine the homilies of the early Fathers.

Among the sermons ascribed to St. Ambrose, there is one which shows at once how it came that the singular epistle selection, 1 Cor. x. 14-31, found its way into the Lectionarium Gall. for Circumcision. This selection, as may be seen by examination, brings into view the striking contrast between the Gentile sacrificial and idolatrous festivity, and the Christian's communion through the Eucharist, with the sacrifice of Christ. There seems to be here no connection whatever between the Circumcision of Christ, and this exhortation of St. Paul; and what custom of the Church could have made such a selection of any general force in reference to the day? Just this. Around the opening of January there was quite a cluster of Gentile feasts. Among the Romans were the celebrated Saturnalia, covering some seven days, followed by the Laurentalia, and then again after the Calends, the Agonalia. On the Calends itself there was a wild riotous festival in honor of Janus, and Strenia, the goddess of presents, and the day was given up to feastings and banquetings, and revelry. Christians were guarded against all this by very severe canons of several councils, and by the earnest watchfulness of their Pastors. In the sermon referred to, as also in one for the same season from Augustine, the hearers are at once reminded of the necessary contrast between their festivity and that of the Gentiles, and are told that those who wish to be partakers of the Divine, should hold no fellowship with idols, for the portion of idols is drunkenness, gluttony and dance. Augustine, indeed, in bringing out the same contrast, refers to this very chapter in Corinthians. There can be but little doubt that just this need of enforcing such contrast in view of the surrounding heathenism originated, long before Ambrose, the use of such a lesson as this as well as that one of kindred character in the same Lectionarium for Epiphany, viz., Titus i. 11 to the end.