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)

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Civilization has grappled for thousands of years with the challenge of ordering the relationship between the sexes and has come up with more sophisticated solutions than forcing males to watch videos on escaping the “man box.” Reading Baldassare Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene would offer students an elegant take on sexual respect, albeit one grounded in the now taboo virtues of chivalry and chastity. If “relevance” is necessary, Mozart’s Don Giovanni might provide an example of “bystander intervention,” as when Don Giovanni’s aristocratic peers try to hustle the peasant girl Zerlina away from his clutches.

Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, however, were unblinkered about the male sex drive, something about which contemporary feminists can’t make up their minds. To recognize the specific hungers of the specifically male libido puts one dangerously close to acknowledging biological differences between the sexes. And it is precisely the force of the male sex drive that makes the norms of courtship and modesty so important for carving out a zone of freedom and civility for females.

Feminists, by contrast, are inclined to reduce the male libido to a political power play that has more to do with keeping females out of the boardroom than getting them into the bedroom. If gender “power dynamics” are really what lead men to aggressively seek sex, then a lecture from a TED “anti-sexism educator” might be relevant. But if, in fact, men pursue sex because they want to have sex, then a different set of strategies is called for. And one of those strategies might be to tell females in blunt terms: Don’t drink yourself blotto, take your clothes off, and get into bed with a guy you barely know. A sexual-assault counselor will never utter those empowering words, however, because preserving the principle of male fault is more important than protecting females from “rape.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

He's a universal soldier

Driving along route 138 north of Quebec the towns are dotted with their charming 18th century church steeples. But the Catholic faith—vibrant only a few decades ago—is now all but dead. This is not only the story in Nouvelle France, but in Old France as well. And Spain. And Germany. Ireland is falling fast into the crevice of a post-Christian banishment of God from the culture. And we are not far behind.

This is not simply a Catholic problem. Calvinist Holland and Switzerland, Lutheran Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Anglican England, Baptist Wales, Presbyterian Scotland all find their empty churches turning into discothèques and restaurants and senior centers. God simply is not relevant to contemporary culture.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Everyday experience

This is what I see in college everyday. Tragic, almost.

Take a girl too young to understand what erotic desire is and subject her to several years of propaganda to the effect that she has a right to have things any way she wants them in this domain—with no corresponding duties to God, her parents or anyone else. Do not give her any guidance as to what it might be good for her to want, how she might try to regulate her own conduct or what qualities she ought to look for in a young man. Teach her furthermore that the notion of natural differences between the sexes is a laughable superstition that our enlightened age is gradually overcoming—with the implication that men’s sexual desires are no different from or more intense than her own. Meanwhile, as she matures physically, keep her protected in her parents’ house, sheltered from responsibility.

Then, at age seventeen or eighteen, take her suddenly away from her family and all the people she has ever known. She can stay up as late as she wants! She can decide for herself when and how much to study! She’s making new friends all the time, young women and men both. It’s no big deal having them over or going to their rooms; everybody is perfectly casual about it. What difference does it make if it’s a boy she met at a party? He seems like a nice fellow, like others she meets in class.

Now let us consider the young man she is alone with. He is neither a saint nor a criminal, but, like all normal young men of college years, he is intensely interested in sex. There are times he cannot study without getting distracted by the thought of some young woman’s body. He has little experience with girls, and most of it unhappy. He has been rejected a few times without much ceremony, and it was more humiliating than he cares to admit. He has the impression that for other young men things are not as difficult: “Everybody knows,” after all, that since the nineteen-sixties men get all the sex they like, right? He is bombarded with talk about sex on television, in the words to popular songs, in rumors about friends who supposedly “scored” with this or that girl. He begins to wonder if there isn’t something wrong with him.

Utopia, indeed.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Anne Roche Muggeridge:

The secular and the sacral did not occupy separate compartments in our lives. They were completely, operationally integrated. I remember a conversation with my closest school friend. Sitting on a hill near home, overlooking the sea, in the exquisite light of a Newfoundland spring evening, waiting for the mill whistle and the Angelus Bell to announce suppertime, we discussed with equal matter-of-factness what my grandmother would have made for supper (she was a notable cook) and whether we could follow the example of St. Felicity, with whose dramatic history we had been regaled in that day in school. St. Felicity (whose name was recalled at every Mass until she was discarded without feminist protest at the change) was beheaded in the second century for refusing to sacrifice to idols and for encouraging her seven sons to do likewise. "Take pity on your children, Felicity, they are in the bloom of youth," urged her Roman prosecutor. "Your pity is impiety," she told the Roman, and to her sons, before they went to their various cruel deaths, she said, "Look up to heaven, where Jesus Christ with His saints expects you. Be faithful in His love and fight courageously for your souls." They gave up a life in which they had to die and began life eternal. Terrific stuff, very stirring to the feminine imagination. We thought we might have managed to die bravely ourselves, but could we have watched our children suffer? I didn't know then, and I don't know now.

That story did for us what it was intended to do. It impressed on us indelibly the operational principle of Catholicism: that here we have no lasting city, therefore human acts have eternal consequences, and the soul's honor must be valued above the body's. Contrary to present propaganda, that view was the opposite of tragic. In this light, the Catholic life was heroic and dramatic, romantic without being sentimental, at once hierarchical and egalitarian. The stupidest, scruffiest Catholic was presented with the possibility of moral grandeur. Not surprisingly, Catholic education to this world view was long on martyrs, crusades and missions, all the splendid Catholic derring-do. But the real genius of Catholicism was that it managed to invest the private conduct of the humblest Catholic life with all the excitement and danger of the early centuries of the Church. Its greatest achievement was to make being good look as glamorous as being evil. It convinced us all that the person who bridled a passion, accepted suffering and injustice patiently, endured the abridgement of worldly possibilities for the sake of Christian principles was as grand and glorious as St. Thomas More or St. Felicity, and as eternally rewarded.

It pushed us to bring a moral imagination to bear on personal conduct, to accept the consequences of free will freely exercise[d]. "Take what you want," says God, "and pay for it" ...


One doesn't feel virtuous, just stupid and lonely. With the disintegration of the Catholic matrix, it has become impossible to live the Catholic life unselfconsciously. Apart from the unpleasantness of holding positions against a hostile majority, the joylessness of a society, many of whose leaders have put aside their belief in eternity, affects one with despair.

Now that the heart is broken, Catholicism is an act of the will performed out of honor, and out of love, but it is love among the ruins. One keeps on going to the gutted Masses with their antic priests, manufactured excitement and cafeteria casualness at Holy Communion, and one closes one's eyes and prays the desperate prayer of the agnostic believer: "Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief!"

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Innovators

Thus Anglicans found themselves in the same predicament as Roman Catholics, who used a (somewhat corrupted) version of the same ancient Eucharistic lectionary, and the mutilated lectionary of the thirteenth century Breviary against which Cranmer had reacted. One sensible response to this problem was the provision of an Old Testament lesson complementary to the Prayer Book gospels and epistles [as: here]. But the Roman Catholics went further, and decided to invent a Sunday morning lectionary which would provide both for the doctrinal themes of the Church’s year and an extensive sequential reading of the Bible. With this aim in mind, in the Ordo Lectionum Missae (OLM) of 1969, they abandoned almost entirely the ancient Eucharistic lectionary [whereas: The 1922 English and 1962 Canadian Sunday and holy day office lectionaries provide Old Testament lessons that very often have a real thematic link to the Eucharistic lessons], and devised one that was entirely new. A three year cycle took the place of the one year ancient cycle, with most of the gospels for each year chosen from one of the synoptics (Year A is Matthew; Year B is Mark; Year C is Luke; with lessons from John spread through the three years.) A reading from the Old Testament, the psalms, and the other books of the New Testament precede the gospel lesson. For part of the year (Advent to Epiphany, and Lent to Trinity Sunday), these lessons aim at doctrinally thematic coherence (albeit with less success than the ancient lectionary). But for the rest of the year (Epiphany to Lent and Trinity Sunday to Advent), clumsily dubbed “ordinary time”, the gospels and epistles are selected according to the principle of lectio continua (or semi-continua). As a result, the gospels and epistles are in principle unrelated. Though the Old Testament lessons, were still chosen for their relation to the gospel lessons, the result is a loss of coherence in the Sunday lectionary. By intention it is no longer a doctrinally coherent, cohesive presentation of the Christian mystery, but an attempt to increase the amount of Scripture read. (The canary in the coal mine was the scrapping of the Sundays before Lent, an ancient feature of the Church’s year in east and west, causing an abrupt transition from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday. The Church year’s doctrinal articulation was mutilated for the sake of three more Sundays of lectio semi-continua.)

Im Westen nichts Neues

John Rhys-Davies decries 'extraordinary silence in the West' against Islamic extremism

Actor John Rhys-Davies declared "we have lost our moral compass completely" in the West due to political correctness and fear to cast judgment on Islamic extremism. "There is an extraordinary silence in the West," Mr. Rhys-Davies, who played the dwarf Gimli in the three "Lord of the Rings" movies, said during Adam Carolla's podcast Monday night,…

The Scottish Book of Common Prayer (1929)


[August 15]

The Collect.

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.

The Lesson. 1 Samuel 2. 7.

THE LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.

The Gospel. St. Luke 1. 46.

AND Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. or he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.


MAN, that is born of a woman, hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.

In the midst of life we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O LORD, who for our sins art justly displeased?

Yet, O LORD GOD most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Thou knowest, LORD, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but spare us, LORD most holy, O GOD most mighty, O holy and merciful SAVIOUR; thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee.

Die unendliche Geschichte

Why is it yet "Another grim day for Tradition..."?

The Saint Lawrence Press:

The 'liturgical books of 1962' have seen considerable revision of the once beautiful feast with changes both in 1960 and, previously, with the introduction of novel texts in the 1950s ... The 1950's creation is banal and ugly compared with the ancient texts ... The Octave was abolished in 1955 and so, within the space of five years, over a millenium's veritable tradition, organic development and beauty was simply tossed aside in the name of 'living tradition'.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


As Perceptio starkly frames it:

The question anyone critiquing the liturgical reform needs to seriously consider is to what end are their efforts aimed?

Quite obviously, no achievable end. The dream of an early Roman liturgy is solely an empty academic question. And I am now moving firmly from theoria to praxis.

The need to have nearly universal access to the sacraments augurs strongly towards the largest communion. (I know some will take issue with this conclusion, and I have a few remaining issues myself.) Thus, when combined with my immovable commitment to a one-year lectionary of some standing, this further limits the viable possibilities to only two:

  • Eastern rite Catholicism
  • Ecclesia Dei Catholicism (locally, the FSSP)

I am already pretty familiar with the latter, so my individual forays, in the months to come, will be with the former. Prayers actively invited.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What Is to be Done?

Evelyn Underhill:

We look to the Church to give us an experience of God, mystery, holiness and prayer which, though it may not solve the antinomies of the natural world, shall lift us to contact with the supernatural world and minister eternal life. We look to the clergy to help and direct our spiritual growth. We are seldom satisfied because with a few noble exceptions they are so lacking in spiritual realism, so ignorant of the laws and experiences of the life of prayer. Their Christianity as a whole is humanitarian rather than theocentric. So their dealings with souls are often vague and amateurish. Those needing spiritual help may find much kindliness, but seldom that firm touch of firsthand knowledge of interior ways which comes only from a disciplined personal life of prayer. In public worship they often fail to evoke the spirit of adoration because they do not possess it themselves. Hence the dreary character of many church services and the result in the increasing alienation of the laity from institutional forms.

God is the interesting thing about religion, and people are hungry for God.

Friday, August 7, 2015


One strong factor for Orthodoxy is its consistent reliance on the Septuagint, alongside its allied claim that the Masoretic text has been changed and corrupted. Here is just one chart (originally from here).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Caligula's obelisk

Father Hunwicke has a very interesting piece up. I excerpt it here with my emphases (in red). The problems of the papacy are well-known and documented. The horrors of an entrenched bureaucracy less so. Anglicanism needed a CEO but never got anywhere close to the notion. But it didn't have -- and didn't need -- an army of 'yes men' eager to enforce the latest orders from on high (although it had, as did every other, fakes and social climbers).

In the old rite, we remember the Holy Maccabees today with a commemoration - the seven pre-Christian Jewish brothers whose martyrdom, described in II Maccabees 7, reads so much like a preview of the acta of the Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire.

There is no strictly theological reason why we should not celebrate the saints of the old covenant liturgically; we claim, after all, to be in organic continuity with the Jewish faithful remnant who did accept their God and Messiah. The practical reason why we do not have more 'Old Testament' saints in our calendar lies in the the origin of our Sanctorale in the local cult of the martyrs: they were celebrated liturgically where their bodies were venerated. The relics of the Maccabees, of course, are indeed preserved in Rome.

Interestingly, the post-conciliar revisers of the Calendar have left us an account of their thinking. I translate [my italics]: "The memoria of the Holy Maccabees, although it is extremely ancient and almost universal, is left to particular calendars: until 1960 only their commemoration happened on the feast of S Peter ad Vincula; now indeed August 1 is the memoria of S Alfonso and, according to the rubrics, another memoria cannot be kept on the same day". The revisers know that this commemoration is of immemorial antiquity and amazing universality; they feel embarrassed and sheepish about abolishing it; they can't think of any defence to make for their actions, except to appeal to their own novel man-made liturgical dogma (which is out of continuity with the traditions of both East and West) that you mustn't combine celebrations. The fact that today's commemoration is unique in the Calendar of the Roman Rite had no power whatsoever to influence them. The totalitarian inflexibility of innovators! The triumph of blind self-imposed dogma over every indication of history, doctrine, and common sense! With a terrorist, you can negotiate ...

What kind of system steamrolls over history, doctrine, and common sense?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The winding sheet

My absence from this blog is the direct result of slipping, falling, and almost sliding off this mortal coil. Fortunately, the sheet was not required.

Two weeks ago today, at 2:00 AM, I drove myself to the emergency room, thinking simultaneously that I was a fool and, yet, also that I was surely dying. This was the right move. One should not practice medicine without a license. I was ultimately diagnosed -- after several lovely possibilities such as TB or MRSA were ruled out -- as suffering from some form of pneumonia, excessive pleural effusion, requiring a chest tube to siphon off litre after litre after litre of fluid, along with an anaerobic bacterium busy chewing a 3 cm in diameter hole in my lung (or an abscess).

But thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I was revived. During my stay in hospital, I could only think about all those people in the nineteenth century who took to their beds, never to rise again.

Now that recovery is in sight, after several more weeks of daily intravenous antibiotics, the need to "regularize" my ecclesiastical situation has become front and center. I need to remove my name from the rolls of TEC. The Anglican Catholic Church is in almost complete alignment with my theology but will be of no use whatever if I am found unconscious in Duluth or Spokane or Buffalo. Western Rite Orthodoxy is equally tiny and is actively shunned by many mainline Eastern Orthodox: the Greek archdiocese here told its people to have no truck whatsoever with those sorts. The ACNA is bigger but somewhat haphazard in its organization and the potential for future difficulties remain. So it is going to have to be either RC or EO because there is just no other viable choice. And so, more to come.