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)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"The Awful Truth"

From Mr. Dalrymple:

The real problem is "the modern miracle of British education, in which people come out of school knowing even less than when they went in". When he talked to patients at the hospital where he worked, "you were plumbing the shallows. I couldn't find anything that they knew".

"The problem is the extremely low cultural level in England, at least on a mass scale. They are so degraded culturally they can't even answer the telephone properly."

The difference is, he says, that you could run a hotel in France with French staff. In England, employers would choose a Pole. Their English is more functional and their attitude better. The locals "can't tell the difference between service and servitude, which is a terrible thing in a service economy".

Here, as well.

"The sadness of spring"

Friday, April 22, 2016


I have been trying to identify the 'point of contention'. The Anglican position is, perforce, terse:

Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens [notae] of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain [certa] sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace [efficacia signa gratiae] and God's good will towards us, by the which He doth work [operatur] invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in Him.

The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign [signum] of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death [sacramentum nostrae per mortem Christi redemptionis]: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ [corporis Christi], and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ [sanguinis Christi].

Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priests did offer Christ [sacerdotem offerre Christum] for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt [in remissionem poenae aut culpae], were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.

The sticking point is thus bolded. Of course, many will reply, "that is not at all what we mean to say." But consider, nonetheless, the content of the following set of utterances, which are all too typical:

Thirdly; Mass is offered to obtain pardon of our sins. Two things are to be considered in sin (1) its guilt; (2) its punishment. Mass as it helps to the forgiveness of sin is propitiatory, in its power of cancelling punishment it is satisfactory. The Council of Trent teaches (Sess.xxii. ch. 2) that this "Sacrifice is truly propitiatory, and that forgiveness of sins and of enormous crimes is obtained by those who with a true heart and right faith, with fear and reverence, contrite and penitent, approach to God." The Mass then obtains the pardon of mortal and venial sins and of the temporal punishment due to sin.

The Mass as propitiatory appeases the anger and justice of God. "The Lord, being appeased by the offering of this Sacrifice, granting grace and the gift of repentance, wipes away crimes and even enormous sins." (Council of Trent, Sess. xxii. ch. 2.) A distinctive effect of this Sacrifice is that by it God is appeased, as a man forgives an offence on account of some homage which is paid him. For Mass does not forgive sins directly and immediately, like Baptism and Penance. Mass appeases the anger of God, and obtains from Him the grace of repentance. Man can, if he chooses, reject the grace and remain in sin; the free acceptance of this grace enables the creature to turn to God by Faith, Hope, Charity, and Sorrow, and thus to receive worthily those sacraments which of themselves forgive all his sins.

The propitiatory power of the Mass disarms God's justice; the impetratory power draws down His mercy. Indirectly Mass causes the conversion of sinners as a propitiatory Sacrifice appeasing God’s anger, leaving scope for His mercy; in so far as it is impetratory, it obtains the grace of repentance, which may be accepted or rejected. The propitiatory power is infallible as Christ’s work, that is, the Lord is in some ways appeased, though to what extent never can be known. This depends on the free-will of God and on the dispositions of the creature.

The power of the Mass to forgive sins is more clearly understood by selecting a particular case. Let us take a simple illustration. Suppose a mother has a Mass offered for each of her sons, John and James. John is leading a bad life; James is a practical Catholic and is free from mortal sin. What effect on John has the Mass said for him? It may be altogether barren of result, because John can reject, if he likes, "the grace and gift of repentance," which the Council of Trent speaks of. (Sess. xxii. ch. 2.) We are certain at least of this; first, that Mass necessarily and infallibly appeases to some extent the anger of God which John has provoked by his sins; secondly, that it obtains from God necessarily and infallibly grace which, though not always of itself sufficient at the moment to cause John’s conversion, goes some way towards it. Many Masses may be needed before John’s conversion is secured. If John does what in him lies he will get further grace to stir his heart to repentance and to seek reconciliation and pardon in the Tribunal of Penance. The Council of Trent, in the passage quoted above, must not be under stood to teach that Mass of itself forgives "enormous crimes." Mass does not forgive the sins of John. Mass wins for John, supposing he accepts and uses the grace offered, the additional grace to make a good confession, and thus to have his sins forgiven. Let us now turn to James, who is free from grave sin. What benefit does he receive from the Mass said for him? First, that Mass as the action of Christ, who is the chief Celebrant in every Mass, necessarily and infallibly satisfies for some of the temporal punishment due to past sins, the guilt of which has been forgiven; secondly, it obtains fresh graces for James, strengthening him against temptation or fall, enabling him to lead a holier life and to persevere in God s service.

By Mass also (Council of Trent, Sess. xxii. ch. i) we obtain forgiveness of daily small faults through those actual graces which stir us to sorrow and repentance. For no sin great or small is ever forgiven after we have come to the use of reason without sorrow and purpose of amendment.

Mass remits the punishment of the living due to mortal and venial sins after the guilt has been forgiven in virtue of its being satisfactory. This remission is infallible, relying on the merits of Christ; but to what extent punishment is remitted remains unknown. St. Thomas says: "Although this offering of the Mass, so far as its quality goes, is sufficient to cancel all the pain due to sin on this earth, nevertheless it is satisfactory to those for whom it is offered or to the offerer according to the quality of his devotion, and not for all the punishment due to his sin." (S. Th. 3. q. 79. ad 3.)

In the case of the dead, Mass infallibly cancels a portion of the punishment in Purgatory, though how much we cannot tell. The Church sanctions a perpetual Mass for the same soul, and thereby admits that she does not know how far the satisfactions of Christ are applied to that soul.

Again, it should be remembered that the propitiatory or appeasing power of the Mass saves the world in general and men in particular from many punishments which otherwise their sins would receive, such as war, famine, plague, sickness, and other temporal misfortunes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


The following line of reasoning seems right to me (but of course hard proof of the sort desirable is lacking):

In an earlier stage of the present discussion, I have stated: that the ONLY sacrifice and oblation, recognised in the Eucharist by the primitive Church, were, the spiritual sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and the material oblation of the bread and wine upon the Lord's table under the aspect of an offering of the first-fruits of God's creatures anterior to and in order to their consecration ...

No other sacrifice, except these, did the primitive Christians of the age of Justin and Ireneus acknowledge in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The superadded notion, that the consecrated elements were themselves an unbloody commemorative and symbolical sacrifice, was later than the age of Justin ...

As time, however, rolled on, though the old ideas still remained in full force, the notion of a sacrifice began to be extended, not only to the material oblation of the elements before consecration, but also the setting forth the same elements after consecration. Yet still the thought of any transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the literal or material body and blood of Christ most assuredly, as we may learn from their own language, never once occurred to those speculatists.

Their doctrine was: that, Since the sacrament of the Eucharist was at once symbolical and commemorative of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, and since the sacrifices under the Law were at once symbolical and predictive of the same sacrifice of Christ upon the cross: the consecrated bread and wine might, by the fair rule of analogy, be, in some sort, themselves likewise, deemed a sacrifice, even the symbolical sacrifice of commemoration.

It also seems to me that all of these aspects can be incorporated provided that they are understood correctly. Indeed it seems to me that the 1928 American BCP does a better job of such comprehensive incorporation than any other service I know. In her Office for the Holy Communion, she has

  • a sacrificium eucharisticum:

    ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

  • a sacrificium primitivum:

    Ye shall not appear before the LORD empty; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.  Deut. xvi. 16, 17.

    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.  1 Chron. xxix. 11.

    All things come of thee, O LORD, and of thine own have we given thee.  1 Chron. xxix. 14.

  • a sacrificium commemorativum:

    ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again:

  • a sacrificium representativum:

    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.

  • a sacrificium votivum:

    And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him. And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences,

  • a sacrificium impetrativum:

    WE do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

  • a sacrificium applicativum:

    ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of his most precious death and passion. And we most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Hey, hey, we're the Monkees"

From Robert Gore:

You went out last night for “a couple of drinks,” but you knew you were going to get drunk. You paid attention to someone who was not attractive or interesting, but you wanted to have sex. You and your newfound partner got in a car that neither one of you should have been driving, managed to avoid the police or an accident, and made it somewhere where you could copulate. That wasn’t what it is made out to be—it never is when you’re drunk—and the pleasure you managed to extract, if you were able to function at all, was minimal and forgettable.

Except circumstances won’t let you forget. After you pass out into a few hours of something that is not sleep, you wake up and there next to you is the hideous thing, name unremembered, with which you coupled. You stumble into the bathroom, drink copious amounts of water, take multiple Advils, and stare at yourself in the mirror. Suddenly, up it comes, that noxious combination of alcohol and bar food; you toss your all in the porcelain pit. And you realize it isn’t the residual beer and whiskey in your system, it’s absolute self-contempt, self-loathing, and self-abasement: your body and your barely functioning mind rendering their verdict on what you did.

Having much for which to loathe itself, America needs a painful but purgative puke, one that prompts a wholesale reexamination. Some people when they reach bottom realize that they have not only screwed up their own life, they have grievously harmed others, especially family and friends, if there are any left. Look at the mess the US has made of what it claims as its remit: the entire world. Considering itself exceptional and indispensable, it tells both friends and foes what they can and cannot do, and throws its weight around to get its way. Wars have been fought, governments subverted and deposed, bribes proffered, tyrannies succored, as a small coterie, drunk on power, tries to order the world as they see fit ...

Long suppressed, America’s from-the-depths-of-its-stomach revulsion is coming. No one will, or should be spared. For too long too many have shrugged and said, “What are you going to do?” If everyone does nothing, nothing gets done. The party establishments, expecting the usual reflexive support this election, have been hit with a gag reflex instead. The wonder is not that it’s happening, but that it has been so long in coming. How can any sane individual listen to Republicans promising more of the same in the Middle East, or anything Hillary Clinton says—her only qualification the pronoun before only qualification—without feeling the nauseous stab that prompts a mad dash to the bathroom?

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are the bed spins: something’s very wrong. However, America is still a long way from blearily looking at itself in the mirror and saying: change or die. The first step to correcting one’s problem, so the cliché goes, is admitting one has a problem. This year’s insurgencies constitute recognition, the furious counter reactions denial. Sooner or later the US’s string of besotted one-night stands and other idiocies will come to an end. If we’re lucky, we’ll hit bottom and begin a long, slow recovery. That outcome is not assured. Sometimes the bottom is the morgue.

"This is Captain Midnight"

From C. S. Lewis:

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook--even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united--united with each other and against earlier and later ages--by a great mass of common assumptions. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century-the blindness about which posterity will ask, "But how could they have thought that?"--lies where we have never suspected it, and concerns something about which there is untroubled agreement between Hitler and President Roosevelt or between Mr. H. G. Wells and Karl Barth. None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.

I myself was first led into reading the Christian classics, almost accidentally, as a result of my English studies. Some, such as Hooker, Herbert, Traherne, Taylor and Bunyan, I read because they are themselves great English writers; others, such as Boethius, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and, Dante, because they were "influences." George Macdonald I had found for myself at the age of sixteen and never wavered in my allegiance, though I tried for a long time to ignore his Christianity. They are, you will note, a mixed bag, representative of many Churches, climates and ages. And that brings me to yet another reason for reading them. The divisions of Christendom are undeniable and are by some of these writers most fiercely expressed. But if any man is tempted to think--as one might be tempted who read only contemporaries--that "Christianity" is a word of so many meanings that it means nothing at all, he can learn beyond all doubt, by stepping out of his own century, that this is not so. Measured against the ages "mere Christianity" turns out to be no insipid interdenominational transparency, but something positive, self-consistent, and inexhaustible. I know it, indeed, to my cost. In the days when I still hated Christianity, I learned to recognise, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying something which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Thomist Dante. It was there (honeyed and floral) in Francois de Sales; it was there (grave and homely) in Spenser and Walton; it was there (grim but manful) in Pascal and Johnson; there again, with a mild, frightening, Paradisial flavour, in Vaughan and Boehme and Traherne. In the urban sobriety of the eighteenth century one was not safe--Law and Butler were two lions in the path. The supposed "Paganism" of the Elizabethans could not keep it out; it lay in wait where a man might have supposed himself safest, in the very centre of The Faerie Queene and the Arcadia. It was, of course, varied; and yet--after all--so unmistakably the same; recognisable, not to be evaded, the odour which is death to us until we allow it to become life

... an air that kills
From yon far country blows.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"No passengers or parasites"

"Mere Christianity" was the term C. S. Lewis employed to describe essential Christianity--those core Christian beliefs held through the ages by Catholics and Protestants alike. What most people don't realize is that Lewis adapted this term from an author who wrote more than three hundred years ago. The author's name was Richard Baxter, and his writings on the "essentials" of Christianity provide a useful background to the views articulated by Lewis.

A Protestant clergyman in England, Baxter lived from 1615 to 1691. Though all but forgotten today, Baxter was a popular and prolific author in his own day and for many decades following his death. He wrote more than 160 separate works--nearly 200, by some estimates. One Anglican Bishop said of Baxter that had he lived during the earliest years of Christianity, he would have been "one of the fathers of the church." The famed Dr. Samuel Johnson, when asked by Boswell which books by Baxter he should read, replied: "Read any of them; they are all good." In particular, Dr. Johnson thought that Baxter's Reasons for the Christian Religion "contained the best collection of the evidences of the divinity of the Christian system." Many years after Baxter's death, famed English statesman William Wilberforce called Baxter's writings on the spiritual life "a treasury of Christian wisdom."

I am a CHRISTIAN, a MEER CHRISTIAN, of no other Religion; and the Church that I am of is the Christian Church, and hath been visible where ever the Christian Religion and Church hath been visible: But must you know what Sect or Party I am of? I am against all Sects and dividing Parties: But if any will call Meer Christians by the name of a Party, because they take up with Meer Christianity, Creed, and Scripture, and will not be of any dividing or contentious Sect, I am of that Party which is so against Parties: If the Name CHRISTIAN be not enough, call me a CATHOLICK CHRISTIAN; not as that word signifieth an hereticating majority of Bishops, but as it signifieth one that hath no Religion, but that which by Christ and the Apostles was left to the Catholick Church, or the Body of Jesus Christ on Earth.


From Deconstructing Leftism:

Anglophone society maintains control primarily through social pressure, in defining what is respectable to think and say and what is not. As long as the taboo holds, this works much better than putting people in camps. This is why everyone is describing Trump as “crude”, “vulgar”, and other words that only judge social acceptance, not actual truth or merit. None scream louder than the NR neocons, but people have stopped listening.

Lower-class whites are surrendering hopes of social acceptance and respectability by supporting Trump. People know they can’t say the truth, but they know it is possible for someone to say the truth.

Things are getting ugly and will get uglier. But ugly is good these days, pretty is now just makeup caked on a syphilitic whore.


Paul often opened with a benediction, but I will close with one. To the people, my people -- I love you. Don’t despair. Our ancestors went through much worse and survived, which is why we are here. Avoid and eliminate vices, and make yourself strong. Help each other. The battle was won long ago, with God victorious, and the devil defeated, and yet we still need to fight. The evil ones lost long ago, and yet they will still fight. Be brave.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray,
and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Lynx-eyed Jesuits or designing nuns"

I'm sure some people thought many of the recent posts were indicative of the proverbial axe and its perpetual grinding. But there is nothing to prove: all that can be done is to expose to view all the multiplicative senses. These need encompassing in the complexio oppositorum and, hence, the errors of Protestantism served only to reinforce the errors of Roman Catholicism.

Senses iii and iv are undoubtedly the most primitive and are, ultimately, sublimed as sense i. The virtue of the Anglican offertory is highlighting sense ii. Even sense v has a place if understood aright -- namely, the sense in which it was acceptable to even the reflective Puritans: viz., qua pleading or "pleading in the sacramental remembering, and showing forth the Lord's death." Since we no longer inhabit the polemics of the Sixteenth Century, an awful lot could be put back.

Because I view the venerable Roman canon as fundamentally ambiguous, I don't have much of an issue with it. But its studied ambiguity is now replaced with a series of side moves. That is to say, I find "EP I" untroubling and "EP IV" deeply problematic. The movement seems almost to be sequential, from figurae to res:

  1. "... we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation";
  2. "... we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation";
  3. "... we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice"; and, worst of all,
  4. "... we offer you his Body and Blood, the sacrifice acceptable to you which brings salvation to the whole world."

The Fathers had it right.

Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God. As Paul also says to the Philippians, "I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things that were sent from you, the odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, pleasing to God." Philippians 4:18 For it behooves us to make an oblation to God, and in all things to be found grateful to God our Maker, in a pure mind, and in faith without hypocrisy, in well-grounded hope, in fervent love, offering the first-fruits of His own created things. And the Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, offering to Him, with giving of thanks, [the things taken] from His creation ...

Now we make offering to Him, not as though He stood in need of it, but rendering thanks for His gift, and thus sanctifying what has been created. For even as God does not need our possessions, so do we need to offer something to God; as Solomon says: "He that has pity upon the poor, lends unto the Lord." Proverbs 19:17 For God, who stands in need of nothing, takes our good works to Himself for this purpose, that He may grant us a recompense of His own good things, as our Lord says: "Come, you blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you. For I was an hungered, and you gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in: naked, and you clothed Me; sick, and you visited Me; in prison, and you came to Me." Matthew 25:34, etc. As, therefore, He does not stand in need of these [services], yet does desire that we should render them for our own benefit, lest we be unfruitful; so did the Word give to the people that very precept as to the making of oblations, although He stood in no need of them, that they might learn to serve God: thus is it, therefore, also His will that we, too, should offer a gift at the altar, frequently and without intermission. The altar, then, is in heaven (for towards that place are our prayers and oblations directed); the temple likewise [is there], as John says in the Apocalypse, "And the temple of God was opened:" Revelation 11:19 the tabernacle also: "For, behold," He says, "the tabernacle of God, in which He will dwell with men."

St. Paul (or rather his alter-ego) also.

By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That’s what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice ...

I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets .... Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.

... that they without us should not be made perfect.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"That'll Be the Day"

And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

That will be the day when seven women will gang up on one man, saying, “We’ll take care of ourselves, get our own food and clothes. Just give us a child. Make us pregnant so we’ll have something to live for!”

The Idea of Sacrifice in the Christian Church

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

There can be no doubt that the idea of sacrifice occupied an important place in early Christianity. It had been a fundamental element of both Jewish and Gentile religions, and Christianity tended rather to absorb and modify such elements than to abolish them. To a great extent the idea had been modified already. Among the Jews the preaching of the prophets had been a constant protest against the grosser forms of sacrifice, and there are indications that when Christianity arose bloody sacrifices were already beginning to fall into disuse; a saying which was attributed by the Ebionites to Christ repeats this protest in a strong form, "I have come to abolish the sacrifices; and if ye do not cease from sacrificing the wrath of God will not cease from you" (Epiph. xxx. 16). Among the Greeks the philosophers had come to use both argument and ridicule against the idea that the offering of material things could be needed by or acceptable to the Maker of them all. Among both Jews and Greeks the earlier forms of the idea had been rationalized into the belief that the most appropriate offering to God is that of a pure and penitent heart, and among them both was the idea that the vocal expression of contrition in prayer or of gratitude in praise is also acceptable. The best instances of these ideas in the Old Testament are in Psalms l. and li., and in Greek literature the striking words which Porphyry quotes from an earlier writer, "We ought, then, having been united and made like to God, to offer our own conduct as a holy sacrifice to Him, the same being also a hymn and our salvation in passionless excellence of soul" (Euseb. Dem. ev. 3). The ideas are also found both in the New Testament and in early Christian literature: "Let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to His name" (Heb. xiii. 15); "That prayers and thanksgivings, made by worthy persons, are the only perfect and acceptable sacrifices I also admit" (Just. Mart. Trypho, c. 117); "We honour God in prayer, and offer this as the best and holiest sacrifice with righteousness to the righteous Word " (Clem. Alex. Strom, vii. 6).

(i) the sacrifice of prayer (praise and thanksgivings)
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

But among the Jews two other forms of the idea expressed themselves in usages which have been perpetuated in Christianity, and one of which has had a singular importance for the Christian world. The one form, which probably arose from the conception of Yahweh as in an especial sense the protector of the poor, was that gifts to God may properly be bestowed on the needy, and that consequently alms have the virtue of a sacrifice. Biblical instances of this idea are—"He who doeth alms is offering a sacrifice of praise " (Ecclus. xxxii. 2); "To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Heb. xiii. 16); so the offerings sent by the Philippians to Paul when a prisoner at Rome are "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" (Phil. iv. 18). The other form, which was probably a relic of the conception of Yahweh as the author of natural fertility, was that part of the fruits of the earth should be offered to God in acknowledgment of His bounty, and that what was so offered was especially blessed and brought a blessing upon both those who offered it and those who afterwards partook of it. The persistence of this form of the idea of sacrifice constitutes so marked a feature of the history of Christianity as to require a detailed account of it.

(ii) the sacrifice of alms (to the poor and needy)
For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
(iii) the sacrifice of "first-fruits"
For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

In the first instance it is probable that among Christians, as among Jews, every meal, and especially every social meal, was regarded as being in some sense a thank-offering. Thanksgiving, blessing and offering were co-ordinate terms. Hence the Talmudic rule, "A man shall not taste anything before blessing it" (Tosephta Berachoth, c. 4), and hence St Paul's words, "He that eateth, eateth unto the Lord, for he giveth God thanks" (Rom. xiv. 6; cp. i Tim. iv. 4). But the most important offering was the solemn oblation in the assembly on the Lord's day. A precedent for making such oblations elsewhere than in the temple had been afforded by the Essenes, who had endeavoured in that way to avoid the contact with unclean persons and things which a resort to the temple might have involved (Jos. Antiq. xviii. I. 5), and a justification for it was found in the prophecy of Malachi, "In every place incense is offered unto my name and a pure offering; for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts " (Mal. i. 11, repeatedly quoted in early Christian writings, e.g. Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, c. 14; Just. Mart. Trypho, c. 28, 41, 116; Irenaeus iv. 17. 5).

(iv) the sacrifice of blessing ("thank-offerings")
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

The points in relation to this offering which are clearly demonstrable from the Christian writers of the first two centuries, but which subsequent theories have tended to confuse, are these, (1) It was regarded as a true offering or sacrifice; for in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, in Justin Martyr and in Irenaeus it is designated by each of the terms which are used to designate sacrifices in the Old Testament, (2) It was primarily an offering of the fruits of the earth to the Creator; this is clear from both Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, the latter of whom not only explicitly states that such oblations are continued among Christians, but also meets the current objection to them by arguing that they are offered to God not as though He needed anything but to show the gratitude of the offerer (Iren. iv. 17, 18). (3) It was offered as a thanksgiving partly for creation and preservation and partly for redemption: the latter is the special purpose mentioned (e.g.) in the Teaching of The Twelve Apostles; the former is that upon which Irenaeus chiefly dwells; both are mentioned together in Justin Martyr (Trypho, c. 41). (4) Those who offered it were required to be not only baptized Christians but also "in love and charity one with another"; there is an indication of this latter requirement in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. v. 23, 24, where the word translated "gift " is the usual LXX. word for a sacrificial offering, and is so used elsewhere in the same Gospel, viz. Matt. viii. 4, xxiii. 19), and still more explicitly in the Teaching, c. 14, "Let not any one who has a dispute with his fellow come together with you (if on the Lord's day) until they have been reconciled, that your sacrifice be not defiled." This brotherly unity was symbolized by the kiss of peace. (5) It was offered in the assembly by the hands of the president; this is stated by Justin Martyr (Apol. i. 65, 67), and implied by Clement of Rome (Ep. i. 44. 4).

Combined with this sacrifice of the fruits of the earth to the Creator in memory of creation and redemption, and probably always immediately following it, was the sacred meal at which part of the offerings was eaten. Such a sacred meal had always, or almost always, formed part of the rites of sacrifice. There was the idea that what had been solemnly offered to God was especially hallowed by Him, and that the partaking of it united the partakers in a special bond both to Him and to one another. In the case of the bread and wine of the Christian sacrifice, it was believed that, after having been offered and blessed, they became to those who partook of them the body and blood of Christ. This "communion of the body and blood of Christ," which in early writings is clearly distinguished from the thank-offering which preceded it, and which furnished the materials for it, gradually came to supersede the thank-offering in importance, and to exercise a reflex influence upon it. In the time of Cyprian, though not before, we begin to find the idea that the body and blood of Christ were not merely partaken of by the worshippers but also offered in sacrifice, and that the Eucharist was not so much a thank-offering for creation and redemption as a repetition or a showing forth anew of the self-sacrifice of Christ. This idea is repeated in Ambrose and Augustine, and has since been a dominant idea of both Eastern and Western Christendom. But, though dominant, it has not been universal; nor did it become dominant until several centuries after its first promulgation. The history of it has yet to be written. For, in spite of the important controversies to which it has given birth, no one has been at the pains to distinguish between (i.) the theories which have been from time to time put forth by eminent writers, and which, though they have in some cases ultimately won a general acceptance, have for a long period remained as merely individual opinions, and (ii.) the current beliefs of the great body of Christians which are expressed in recognized formularies. A catena of opinions may be produced in favour of almost any theory; but formularies express the collective or average belief of any given period, and changes in them are a sure indication that there has been a general change in ideas.

It is clear from the evidence of the early Western liturgies that, for at least six centuries, the primitive conception of the nature of the Christian sacrifice remained. There is a clear distinction between the sacrifice and the communion which followed it, and that which is offered consists of the fruits of the earth and not of the body and blood of Christ. Other ideas no doubt attached themselves to the primitive conception, of which there is no certain evidence in primitive times, e.g. the idea of the propitiatory character of the offering, but these ideas rather confirm than disprove the persistence of those primitive conceptions themselves.

All Eastern liturgies, in their present form, are of later date than the surviving fragments of the earlier Western liturgies, and cannot form the basis of so sure an induction; but they entirely confirm the conclusions to which the Western liturgies lead. The main points in which the pre-medieval formularies of both the Eastern and the Western Churches agree in relation to the Christian sacrifice are the following, (1) It was an offering of the fruits of the earth to the Creator, in the belief that a special blessing would descend upon the offerers, and sometimes also in the belief that God would be propitiated by the offerings. The bread and wine are designated by all the names by which sacrifices are designated (sacrifica, hostiae, libamina, and at least once sacrificium placationis), and the act of offering them by the ordinary term for offering a sacrifice (immolatio). (2) The offering of bread and wine was originally brought to the altar by the person who offered it, and placed by him in the hands of the presiding officer. In course of time there were two important changes in this respect: (a) the offerings of bread and wine were commuted for money, with which bread and wine were purchased by the church-officers; (b) the offerings were sometimes handed to the deacons and by them taken to the bishop at the altar, and sometimes, as at Rome, the bishop and deacons went round the church to collect them. (3) In offering the bread and wine the offerer offered, as in the ancient sacrifices, primarily for himself, but inasmuch as the offering was regarded as having a general propitiatory value he mentioned also the names of others in whom he was interested, and especially the departed, that they might rest in peace. Hence, after all the offerings had been collected, and before they were solemnly offered to God, it became a custom to recite the names both of the offerers and of those for whom they offered, the names being arranged in two lists, which were known as diptychs. Almost all the old rituals have prayers to be said "before the names," "after the names." It was a further and perhaps much later development of the same idea that the good works of those who had previously enjoyed the favour of God were invoked to give additional weight to the prayer of the offerer. In the later series of Western rituals, beginning with that which is known as the Leonine Sacramentary, this practice is almost universal. (4) The placing of the bread and wine upon the altar was followed by the kiss of peace. (5) Then followed the actual offering of the gifts to God (immolatio missae). It was an act of adoration or thanksgiving, much longer in Eastern than in Western rituals, but in both classes of rituals beginning with the form "Lift up your hearts," and ending with the Ter Sanctus or Trisagion. The early MSS. of Western rituals indicate the importance which was attached to this part of the liturgy by the fact of its being written in a much more ornate way than the other parts, e.g. in gold uncial letters upon a purple ground, as distinguished from the vermilion cursive letters of the rest of the MS. With this the sacrifice proper was concluded. (6) But, since the divine injunction had been "Do this in remembrance of me," the sacrifice was immediately followed by a commemoration of the passion of Christ, and that again by an invocation of the Holy Spirit (epiclesis) that He would make the bread and wine to become the body and blood of Christ. Of this invocation, which is constant in all Eastern rituals, there are few, though sufficient, surviving traces in Western rituals. Then after a prayer for sanctification, or for worthy reception, followed the Lord's Prayer, and after the Lord's Prayer the communion.

In the course of the 8th and 9th centuries, by the operation of causes which have not yet been fully investigated, the theory which is first found in Cyprian became the dominant belief of Western Christendom. The central point of the sacrificial idea was shifted from the offering of the fruits of the earth to the offering of the body and blood of Christ. The change is marked in the rituals by the duplication of the liturgical forms. The prayers of intercession and oblation, which in earlier times are found only in connexion with the former offering, are repeated in the course of the same service in connexion with the latter. The designations and epithets which are in earlier times applied to the fruits of the earth are applied to the body and blood. From that time until the Reformation the Christian sacrifice was all but universally regarded as the offering of the body and blood of Christ. The innumerable theories which were framed is to the precise nature of the offering and as to the precise change in the elements all implied that conception of it. It still remains as the accepted doctrine of the Church of Rome. For, although the council of Trent recognized fully the distinction which has been mentioned above between the Eucharist and the sacrifice of the mass, and treated of them in separate sessions (the former in Session xiii., the latter in Session xxii.), it continued the medieval theory of the nature of the latter. The reaction against the medieval theory at the time of the Reformation took the form of a return to what had no doubt been an early belief, —the idea that the Christian sacrifice consists in the offering of a pure heart and of vocal thanksgiving. Luther at one period (in his treatise De captitivate Babylonica) maintained, though not on historical grounds, that the offering of the oblations of the people was the real origin of the conception of the sacrifice of the mass; but he directed all the force of his vehement polemic against the idea that any other sacrifice could be efficacious besides the sacrifice of Christ. In the majority of Protestant communities the idea of a sacrifice has almost lapsed. That which among Catholics is most commonly regarded in its aspect as an offering and spoken of as the "mass" is usually regarded in its aspect as a participation in the symbols of Christ's death and spoken of as “the "communion." But it may be inferred from the considerable progress of the Anglo-Catholic revival in most English-speaking countries that the idea of sacrifice has not yet ceased to be an important element in the general conception of religion. (E. Ha.)

(v) the sacrifice of the sacred species (the body and the blood)

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Liturgy of St. Cyril or of St. Mark (Alexandrian)

From the Anaphora, all preceding the Words of Institution.

  • The First Oblation: We offer this reasonable and bloodless sacrifice, which all nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun, from the north and the south, present to Thee, O Lord; for great is Thy name among all peoples, and in all places are incense, sacrifice, and oblation offered to Thy holy name [cf. Romans xii.1. & Malachi i.11.].
  • The Second Oblation: Accept, O God, by Thy ministering archangels at Thy holy, heavenly, and reasonable altar in the spacious heavens, the thank-offerings of those who offer sacrifice and oblation, and of those who desire to offer much or little, in secret or openly, but have it not to give. Accept the thank-offerings of those who have presented them this day, as Thou didst accept the gifts of Thy righteous Abel: As Thou didst accept the sacrifice of our father Abraham, the incense of Zacharias, the alms of Cornelius, and the widow’s two mites, accept also the thank-offerings of these, and give them for the things of time the things of eternity, and for the things of earth the things of heaven.
  • The First Epiclesis: For truly heaven and earth are full of Thy glory, through the manifestation of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Fill, O God, this sacrifice with Thy blessing, through the inspiration of Thy all-holy Spirit. For the Lord Himself, our God and universal King, Christ Jesus, reclining at meat the same night on which He delivered Himself up for our sins and died in the flesh for all, took bread in His holy, pure, and immaculate hands, and lifting His eyes to His Father, our God, and the God of all, gave thanks; and when He had blessed, hallowed, and broken the bread, gave it to His holy and blessed disciples and apostles, saying: ...

The Third and Fourth Century

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On The Two Distinct Senses Of The Verb 'To Offer.'

From "Missarum Sacrificia.": Testimonies of English Divines.

It will be noted that Bishop Bedell acknowledges 'we do offer sacrifice for the quick and dead,' the statement being immediately guarded against misinterpretation by qualifying explanation.

So the Cologne Council of 1536, under Archbishop Hermann, had said: ' Immolamus hostiam pro vivis et defunctis, dum pro illis Patrem per Filii mortem deprecamur' (cap. xxvii., fol. xxix a. Col., 1538).

And so Jewel: 'Thus we offer up Christ, that is to say, an example, a commemoration, a remembrance of the death of Christ. This kind of sacrifice was never denied, but M. Harding's real sacrifice was yet never proved' (Works, P.S., ii., p. 729).

So also Brevint: 'We must also celebrate, and in a manner offer to God, and expose and lay before Him the holy memorials of that great Sacrifice on the Cross. . . . But that we should offer also Christ Himself, our Lord and our God, to whom we must offer ourselves; it is a piece of devotion never heard of among men, till the Mass came in to bring such news' ('Depth and Mystery,' p. 30).

So, too, Bishop Buckeridge: 'Though these be not idem sacrificium . . . yet it is idem sacrificatum . . . Christ crucified, that is, represented to God, and communicated to us. . . . In Baptism, in like manner ... we do as it were, offer up Christ crucified by way of representation' (quoted in Tract 81, p. 86).

And so Archbishop Wake (in even stronger language): 'Whilst thus with faith we represent to God the death of His Son for the pardon of our sins, we are persuaded that we incline His mercy the more readily to forgive them. We do not, therefore, doubt but that this presenting to God Almighty this sacrifice of our blessed Lord is a most effectual manner of applying His merits to us' (' Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England,' p. 63. London, 1687).

But the language of Bishop Bedell should be specially compared with the words of Ridley (spoken in reply to the statement that 'a council says that the priest doth offer an unbloody sacrifice of the body of Christ'). 'I say it is well said, if it be rightly understood. ... It is called unbloody, and is offered after a certain manner and in a mystery, and as a representation of that bloody sacrifice, and he doth not lie who saith Christ to be offered' (see Moule's edition of 'Brief Declaration,' p. 289). It is important to mark clearly the distinction between two senses of the verb to offer as employed by divines in this relation. (1) In the one sense it is used to signify 'the offering symbolically to view,' and is, therefore, nearly equivalent to pleading—pleading in the sacramental remembering, and showing forth the Lord's death. It indicates the mystical and representative pleading of the One Sacrifice once for all sacrificially offered and accepted for the remission of sins (see Goode, 'Divine Eule,' vol. ii., pp. 364, 365, 382, 398, 404). In this sense (however in prevalent use among the Fathers, after the time of Cyprian) it is not found in holy Scripture (nor in the Book of Common Prayer), but (with explanation and caution that it should be ' rightly understood') it has been frequently allowed and accepted by English divines as consonant with Protestant doctrine (see Waterland, Works, vol. v., p. 286, and especially pp. 129 and 183; and vol. 1, p. 206).

In this sense it was admitted by the Puritan Perkins, who wrote: 'In this sense the faithful, in their prayers, do offer Christ as a sacrifice unto God the Father for their sins, in being wholly carried away in their minds and affections unto that only and true Sacrifice, thereby to procure and obtain God's greater favour unto them' (' Demonstration of the Problem; Sacrifice of the Mass,' Works, vol. ii., p. 551. London, 1617).

In this sense it was accepted and used even by Baxter, who wrote: 'He hath ordained . . . that by faith and prayer they might, as it were, offer Him up to God—that is, might show the Father that sacrifice, once made for sin, in which they trust' ('Christian Directory,' Part II., c. xxiv., § 2; Works, vol. iv., p. 316. London, 1830). And in some such unsacrificial sense Bossuet would apparently desire to explain Christ's offering Himself up in the Eucharist, 'according to the expression of the holy Fathers of the Church' ('Exposition of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church,' p. 146; see also pp. 141, 135. Paris, 1672). But this is certainly not 'according to the expression' of the Council of Trent, nor of his own language (in its natural acceptation) as found in p. 137. It is, in fact, just explaining away what he there calls 'a most true and real sacrifice.'

Bossuet's book was never approved by the doctors of the Sorbonne, and was condemned as scandalous and pernicious by the University of Louvain (see ' Romish Mass and English Church,' p. 26).

(2) In the other sense it is used to signify the real sacrificial oblation of the hostia to God the Father on the visible altar by the action (in some sort) of the priest then and there. And this it is which (notwithstanding all minimizing explanations of its relation to the sacrifice of the Cross in the past) our Divines have so constantly and consistently regarded as the blasphemy of the Mass (see especially Calixtus, as quoted in Cosin's Works, vol. v., pp. 350, 351, A.C.L.).

“Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.”

Mark Steyn:

For example, I wonder how many pontificators on the “Middle East peace process” ever run this number:

The median age in the Gaza Strip is 15.8 years.

Once you know that, all the rest is details. If you were a “moderate Palestinian” leader, would you want to try to persuade a nation — or pseudo-nation — of unemployed poorly educated teenage boys raised in a UN-supervised European-funded death cult to see sense? Any analysis of the “Palestinian problem” that doesn’t take into account the most important determinant on the ground is a waste of time.

Likewise, the salient feature of Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia is that they’re running out of babies. What’s happening in the developed world is one of the fastest demographic evolutions in history: most of us have seen a gazillion heartwarming ethnic comedies — My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its ilk — in which some uptight WASPy type starts dating a gal from a vast loving fecund Mediterranean family, so abundantly endowed with sisters and cousins and uncles that you can barely get in the room. It is, in fact, the inversion of the truth. Greece has a fertility rate hovering just below 1.3 births per couple, which is what demographers call the point of “lowest-low” fertility from which no human society has ever recovered. And Greece’s fertility is the healthiest in Mediterranean Europe: Italy has a fertility rate of 1.2, Spain 1.1. Insofar as any citizens of the developed world have “big” families these days, it’s the anglo democracies: America’s fertility rate is 2.1, New Zealand a little below. Hollywood should be making My Big Fat Uptight Protestant Wedding in which some sad Greek only child marries into a big heartwarming New Zealand family where the spouse actually has a sibling.

As I say, this isn’t a projection: it’s happening now. There’s no need to extrapolate, and if you do it gets a little freaky, but, just for fun, here goes: by 2050, 60 per cent of Italians will have no brothers, no sisters, no cousins, no aunts, no uncles. The big Italian family, with papa pouring the vino and mama spooning out the pasta down an endless table of grandparents and nieces and nephews, will be gone, no more, dead as the dinosaurs. As Noel Coward once remarked in another context, “Funiculi, funicula, funic yourself.” By mid-century, Italians will have no choice in the matter.

The Big Short

Monday, April 4, 2016

"Io, io sono la tradizione, io, io sono la Chiesa!"

It is almost spring and there is the unmistakable scent of Lefebvre in the air. No need to say where when it seems to be, well, everywhere.

But, I am more concerned with this, Marx's famous utterance: "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." And so, for the moment, drop the concern with personages altogether: consider the First and the Second Vatican Councils. They are both two sides of the same coin, as much as sedevacantism is merely the flip-side of ultramontanism.

The First was a complete denial of reality and so, of course, reality wisely chose to interrupt the council by annihilating the Pope's temporal powers, through an annexation of the Papal territories. The ultimate upshot (a bit later) was equally un-Catholic: the imposition of a human doctrine -- neo-Scholasticism -- as the universal and univocal norm.

If the First was completely out of step with the times, the Second proved to produce a near total capitulation to them. Already a glaring anachronism (post-Napoleon), the next pitiful attempt to render this structure meaningful and relevant resembled an effort to row out, in a leaky canoe, to catch a ship that had already sailed centuries ago. The end result? Send in the clowns.

If the popes of the past had been petty tyrants, prone to seething fits of apoplexy at the slightest hint of resistance, then instead we would have rule by committee, with the assistance of the oh so helpful periti. Instead of the conciliar church, all that really emerged as lasting was bureaucracy, section men, spin control, and double talk. And there, I fear, it must remain. It makes no difference if one be in Rome or Ecône, Canterbury or 815. Human, all-too-human.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred;
so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies,
but also in matters of Faith.