Saturday 25 August 2007

The incomparable beauty of holiness...

The incomparable beauty of holiness is never more fully shewn than in the drama, music, poetry and spiritual perfection of the traditional rites of the Catholic Church but especially the traditional Roman rite.

It is indeed a story written by an Angel at the command of the Holy Spirit, Almighty God Himself.

It is a story written, embroidered and made more perfect still over centuries by the Divine Hand re-living and re-capturing the history of His own sacrificial intervention into human history, the greatest of all events.

There was none greater.

The liturgy of the Church re-lives, over the course of the year, the story of our salvation and the life of Christ, just as the Mass itself re-lives, in an unbloody manner, the holy sacrifice of Christ redeeming us and atoning for us.

Thus the liturgical year begins with the coming of Christ, Advent and Christmas, touches upon His hidden life, then leads on to His public ministry, teaching and witness, his time of temptation and trial in the desert, Lent, then of the adoration of the Jews and their betrayal (Passion Week and Palm Sunday).

Then we enter into the most sacred season of the year, Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum of the 3 days when our Lord fulfils the Passover (the Pesach), immolating His own Divine self, the long-awaited Messias, to be the Paschal Lamb without blemish and the perfect offering to the Father, and makes of it the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist and ordains the Priesthood of the new Covenant to perpetuate the memory of both His Sacrifice and His subsequent Ressurrection from the Dead.

On Easter Saturday the children of God wait by the sealed tomb knowing that He has descended into Hell, to the Limbo of the Just, to open the Gates thereof and liberate the Prophets and Patriarchs, all the just who were awaiting entry into Heaven.

In the West until the 12th century, and in the Eastern Church to this day, on Holy Saturday the Faithful keep vigil all night until sunrise, processing with the Pope, the Emperor, the Cardinals, the Prince-Electors, the bishops, nobility, clergy, senators, religious and people and the whole Body of Christ, re-illuminating with fire the lights of the Church as lumen Christi (the light of Christ), singing the praises of God in an exultation (exultet) of praise and praying for Pope, Emperor and people.

There was also final instruction to the neophytes about to be baptised, the story of salvation history from Genesis to the coming of the Messias, blessing the water of regeneration and baptism, invoking the saints, singing the Divine Office, re-enacting the searches for the Body of Christ and the encounter of the Holy Women who were first to find the Empty Tomb and, later, the risen Saviour.

Until 1955, the Papal choir of St John Lateran intoned the 12 Prophecies in both Latin and Greek, making fully 24 readings in all. There was no question of minimising then! How pathetically weak we are that we now complain if we have to keep vigil at the tomb of Christ for more than an hour or so!

Thereafter, during Eastertide, the Church basks in the glory of the Resurrection, a foretaste of Heaven, and remembers the encounter on the Road to Emmaus.

Then comes the Ascension, the first Apostolic Novena of prayer followed by the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost when, until 1955, the Roman Church celebrated, on the eve of this great Feast, a smaller version of the Easter Vigil.

Thereafter is the time of Pentecost, Whitsuntide, when the Church begins to enjoy the fruit of the Resurrection, commemorating the great gifts of God, the Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, the great Feasts, the Feasts of our Lady, the saints raised up in each generation, All Saints, All Souls, praying for the Dead, and expounding and glorifying the teachings of the Church, working to restore the social Kingship of Christ, and ending with the prophecies of the End-times.

Then we begin again with Advent.

This is the Liturgical Year, extolled by Rt Rev Dom Prosper Gueranger OSB, the Abbot of the restored Abbey of St Peter of Solesmes, and the great champion of the Roman rite.

Anyone who thinks this is marginal or unimportant has failed dismally to understand the first lessons of prayer.

Imagine you are here:

and you are at Tenebrae (Matins and Lauds) on Good Friday, having heard the great prophecies that tell of the coming Messias, His sufferings and sacrifices to save His people, the great exegesis of St Augustine of Hippo and the choir is about to sing this:

"3 miserere mei Deus secundum magnam misericordiam tuam et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum dele iniquitatem meam 4 amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea et a peccato meo munda me 5 quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco et peccatum meum contra me est semper...

8 ecce enim veritatem dilexisti incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi 9 asperges me hyssopo et mundabor lavabis me et super nivem dealbabor 10 auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam exultabunt ossa humiliata...

17 Domine labia mea aperies et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam 18 quoniam si voluisses sacrificium dedissem utique holocaustis non delectaberis 19 sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus cor contritum et humiliatum Deus non spernet..."

"3 Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. And according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity. 4 Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 5 For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me...

8 For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me. 9 Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. 10 To my hearing thou shalt give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice...

17 O Lord, thou wilt open my lips: and my mouth shall declare thy praise. 18 For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted. 19 A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise...."

[Part of Psalm 50, the great psalm written by King David after the Prophet Nathan rebuked him for sinning with Bethsabee]

Friday 24 August 2007

In case anyone thinks I've got it in for him...

I warmly recommend the latest post of Fr Dwight on his blog Standing on my Head which very properly underscores the importance, in the right place, of emotion in the worship of God.

Read it for yourselves!

Thursday 23 August 2007

The Motu Proprio: Fr Dwight errs but censors his critics...

The US Catholic Bishops Conference’s English version of the whole Motu Proprio is "unofficial" but many US priests are using it as if it were official. That is probably because the USCCB’s Liturgy Office published guidelines based on the unofficial translation.

Now Fr Dwight Longenecker (regular all-round good guy but a bit muddled on this issue) has used it to argue why the traditional rites should not be offered freely in his parish of St Mary's Greenville, South Carolina (and you can be sure that there are other priests arguing the same).

Here's what he says on his blog Standing on my Head in answer to an enquirer who, quite reasonably, asks him if the traditional rite will be celebrated at St Mary's:

"I therefore would need to consider what my bishop thinks of the matter, and consider the pastoral concerns of the whole community and not just those who are asking for the Latin Mass. This is difficult because to impose the Missal of Bl. John XXIII on the whole community would be pastorally unfair, but to celebrate a regular Mass for a separate group of the faithful would foster disunity. Tough one.

The most interesting word in the ruling is the word 'stable'. It says if a 'stable' group of parishioners asks for the Latin Mass their request is to be considered. But what does 'stable' mean? Must they be stable as a group? Stable as individuals or stable as families? Does this mean emotional and mental stability, spiritual stability or stability in their commitment to the parish?

This is a very important consideration. In some places there are groups of people who are not emotionally or spiritually stable, but more important than that, there are others who are not stable in their commitment either to the Pope or to their local parish. They trot off to whatever celebration of Mass they deem best. For example, some people forsake their parish (even when they have a good conservative priest celebrating the Novus Ordo reverently) for SSPX masses, or they drive hundreds of miles to attend a Fraternity of St Peter Latin Mass. They are entitled to do so, but it is arguable that such individuals, families and groups are not stable in their spiritual lives or their parochial commitment, and I expect many parish priests would not wish therefore to take their requests seriously."

Well, sorry, Fr Dwight. You are once again wrong.

The word "stable" simply does not appear in the document.

Even if it did you have no basis whatsoever for the fantastical conclusions that you draw in the above. And it is particularly unfair that you single out as "unstable" those who, through no fault of their own, through their loyalty to the traditional rites and despite their polite requests for it addressed to their PPs, are forced to go outside their parish to have their legitimate desire for the traditional rites met because the PP unjustly refuses it to them in defiance of papal decrees.

However, the word does not appear in the document.

One could be forgiven for thinking so initially. But Fr Dwight's correspondents put him right in a series of comments in a total of 26 at last count.

Yet, having been pretty comprehensively put right on this, as on a number of other crucial issues, Fr Dwight disdains to amend his blog or even add an update or rider.

When he's wrong he's right, perhaps (to quote from a previous post)?

More than that, he then goes on to censor out those responses which point out his more egregious blunders.

Here is part of one response that was "edited" out by Fr Dwight:

"...You continually say that you are willing to learn, having nothing against the old rite, wish to follow the MP, do not wish to enter into liturgy wars, respect people's love for the old rite etc etc etc....

The popes issued Tres Abhinc Annos, Ecclesia Dei and now Summorum Pontificum in order to get priests to be generous to the Faithful who prefer to worship with the rites that their ancestors used for at least 1700 years and yet there are still priests - like yourself - finding more and more excuses why they should continue to oppress those Faithful and deny them what the Pope has repeatedly said they may have.

This oppression has gone on for 40 years. Now is the time to stop. It is the Pope who orders it and you want, instead, to quibble.

All your quibbles have been more than adequately addressed and laid to rest by your various correspondents and yet.... still you quibble.

Where is the generosity? Where is the pastoral care? Where is the pastoral love of the flock? Where, Father, is your sense of justice?

Your later posts do nothing to re-assure me.

You write that 'this really is a marginal issue: in terms of numbers, those who wish for the Latin Mass are relatively minute.'

Which Latin Mass? Or have you once again overlooked the fact that the Novus Ordo Missae is a Latin rite and that the vernacular was NOT demanded by Vatican II? We have been round that one again and again and again. You just ignore it!

Where do you get your stats from? I question them.

But even if you were right, would it be surprising? Latin, whether in the traditional or new rites, has been virtually strangled to death for the last 40 years. Moreover, only the faithfulness of a minority have kept the traditional rites alive. Now you use that against them. A good is suppressed then a complaint made that the good is no longer seen. Really, Father, what sort of argument is that?

It is abundantly clear from his writings that the Pope thinks this near-total suppression of both Latin and of the traditional rites was a grave mistake and he plainly wishes to reverse the situation.

It is also abundantly clear that he thinks that wide celebration of the traditional rites will vastly improve and enrich the way in which the Novus Ordo is celebrated.

...Once the Holy Father begins to be obeyed, you will find that more and more people are attracted to the traditional rites. That has been our over-whelming experience here in the UK.

Denying people the traditional rites is a self-fulfilling prophecy: you will get less people simply because the rites are, and have been these 40 years, very difficult to find.

To accuse people of being 'unstable' because they travel far to find the traditional rites is yet another extraordinary statement.

The Faithful have had to do so precisely because of the quibblers. Having denied them their rights, the quibblers then accuse them of 'instability' for going elsewhere to find what they have been unjustly denied. A more crassly unreasonable argument would be hard to find.

You write: 'With a shortage of priests it is difficult to justify too many special masses for a handful of people who want mass the way they want it.'

No, Father, it is Mass the way the Holy Father wants it...That is what he has now ordered. And the shortage of priests is not a reason for refusing to obey the Pope. These are not 'special' Masses, they are a right.

...You, have, with great respect, quite some way in this thread to go before you can honestly say that you are really being fair and objective about the traditional rites, as you claim.

Will you now do better?"

Fair question, isn't it?

Or is ignorance bliss?

Tripe about "stable groups": what the Motu Proprio really says...

It's started!

Some obstinate clerics are already trying to minimise the Holy Father's clear wishes to make the traditional Roman rite widely available to the Faithful.

One attempt centres around the weak unofficial translation of the United States Catholic Bishops' Conference upon which translation they then go on to give some very mediocre advice.

The translation makes reference to "stable groups" and some clerics have been desperately trying to make much of the word "stable" to imply that it rules out those who do not attend the Novus Ordo regularly, do not regularly attend only one parish, occasionally attend SSPX chapels, do not form a big enough group to be called "stable", or even that the priest judges them to be "emotionally unstable".


Yes, tripe.

Total and utter tripe.

The word "stable" does not even appear in the Motu Proprio!

Here's what the Motu Proprio says in the Holy Father's original Latin:

"Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium continenter exsistit, parochus eorum petitiones ad celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat. Ipse videat ut harmonice concordetur bonum horum fidelium cum ordinaria paroeciae pastorali cura, sub Episcopi regimine ad normam canonis 392, discordiam vitando et totius Ecclesiae unitatem fovendo."

Which can be pretty accurately translated as:

"Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is continuously present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962. Let him see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously incorporated with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to canon 392, by avoiding discord and by fostering the unity of the whole Church."

The word simply does not appear!

So, for those clerics who still want to go on pretending that the traditional rites should not be freely offered, and who refuse to recognise the generosity of the Holy Father, here is some more tripe:


Can't stand the stuff!


Wednesday 22 August 2007

And did those feet in ancient time...

"And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills..."

So wrote William Blake, the slightly eccentric poet and alleged "mystic" of English literature but with more than a grain of truth in his musings.

Did our Lord and St Joseph of Arimathaea, the Jewish Christian member of the Sanhedrin who later buried our Lord, come to Glastonbury, called the Isle of Avalon (meaning "apples"), as the legends of King Arthur and other stories would have us believe?

Since we know that St Mary Magdalene, St Mary the mother of James and John, and St Mary the mother of Salome, together with St Lazarus found their way to the coast of France near Marseilles and that St Lazarus became the first bishop, it is by no means impossible that St Joseph of Arimathaea came to Britain. Certainly, there is evidence of a Roman jetty on the side of Wirral (“Weary-all”) Hill and the Phoenicians traded with Britain.

St Thomas, let us not forget, went to Persia and India and founded the Syriac Churches who, to this day, use Aramaic, the spoken language of our Lord, in their sacred liturgy.

Legend has it that St Joseph brought with him the Holy Grail used at the Last Supper but also used later to collect the Holy Blood of Christ (later called the Sang Real or San Greal by Malory, meaning either “Royal Blood” or “Holy Grail”) which then gave rise to the Grail Legends in which King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table went in search of the Grail but only Sir Galahad, the pure and holy knight, was able to find it.

King Arthur was a Romano-British knight who, after the Roman Legions had withdrawn, was compelled to become a chief of the remaining British Christians. That he was called “king” need not surprise us since the idea of the Roman Empire, the Emperor and of kings, was then well-established in Christian theology and politics. Let us not forget that the Emperor Constantine was declared Emperor at York by his army over 100 years before. Imperial and Royal ideas were the norm, as was Roman Catholic Christianity and Roman Christendom.

The Grail legends have a sub-stratum of truth for all that later writers have much embroidered them and they have exercised a great influence in British political and literary history.

The longest Abbey in England was built at Glastonbury and within it was incorporated the original "wattle and daub" oratory of St Joseph. The Abbey enjoyed the highest royal favour until the Protestant Reformation when King Henry VIII's Commissioners sacked and pillaged it and caused the last Abbot, Blessed Richard Whiting OSB, to be hanged from the tower of St Michael's Church upon the Tor. Now only the tower remains on the Tor and can be visited to this day.

Here is a good summary of the Glastonbury Legend:

“It is at Glastonbury that legend takes upon itself to go up not only to the beginnings of British Christianity, but also to the beginnings of Christianity itself. The legends of the spot go back to the days of the Apostles. The place is indeed unique, for from the very beginnings of Christianity it was hallowed ground. A legend even tells us that Christ himself as a boy walked upon the hills of Somerset…There is, in any case, more than enough of proved history to shew that Glastonbury was for centuries the most ancient and famous centre of Christianity in the land.

For example, the legend of St Joseph of Arimathaea coming to England is of ancient date, and there is also that others lovely tradition that Christ himself in his boyhood came hither. Though improbable it is not impossible, for we know that the Phoenicians came to Britain seeking metals, several centuries before the Christian era. Herodotus, in the fifth century BC, speaks of Cornwall as the Tin Islands, and Greeks too came in search of ore. St Joseph may conceivably have been one of those merchants and have acquired his wealth thus, in which case he might have brought the Holy Child with him on one of his journeys. If he had had this former acquaintance with our island, it would account for Joseph's being chosen as a missionary to Britain by St Philip. Such traditions are stories to cherish…

About the middle of the thirteenth century the traditions concerning the coming of St Joseph of Arimathaea to Glastonbury were written down as an introduction to William of Malmesbury's work On the Antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury. We learn from these traditions that the Apostle St Philip sent Joseph of Arimathaea from Gaul with twelve companions to bring the gospel message to our ancestors. This cultivated and wealthy Jew left his home and possessions and all that he had, and now, a poor man, bearing with him the priceless treasures of the true faith and a relic of the Holy Blood, he braved the long and perilous journey which brought him in AD 63 to the shores of Wales and thence travelled across the inland sea [Severn Sea or Bristol Channel] and marshy ground [Somerset Levels] to the Isle of Avalon...

John of Glastonbury relates this story and adds that Joseph and his son Josephes were disciples of St Philip by whom they were baptised. While St John was at Ephesus St Joseph remained with our Blessed Lady and was present at her Assumption. Fourteen years later he went to St Philip in Gaul whither that Apostle had been sent after the Ascension, as Freculfus, bishop of Lisieux states. Josephes, whom the Lord had consecrated bishop in Sarath went with him. Then the Apostle sent twelve of his disciples to preach the faith in Britain and he placed at their head St Joseph and his son Josephes…The pagan king Arviragus to whom they came rejected their teaching but gave them the island Ynyswitrin, or Glassy Isle, now called Glastonbury. He and two other kings subsequently gave them a further grant of lands known as the 'twelve hides' [one hide = 160 acres]. The legend says that St Joseph brought with him two cruets in which some of the sacred blood and the water which flowed from the wounds of our Blessed Lord was miraculously preserved.

'Avallon is entered by a band of Twelve:
Joseph, Arimathaea's flower, is chief of them;
And with his father cometh Josephes.
So to these Twelve Glastonia's rights are given.
In Pynson's Life of Joseph of Arimathaea we read:
And when our lorde in the sedony was drest
This blood in two cruettes Joseph did take.'

...At Weary-all Hill he and his companions rested, gazing down upon the valley where, at the foot of the Tor close by, he built what was probably the first Christian church above the ground that was ever raised. A later tradition also says that while resting he thrust his pilgrim's staff into the soil, and forthwith it budded, and a fair tree grew and flourished, and blossomed twice in the year. In the Life of Joseph of Arimathaea printed by Richard Pyerson or Pynson, the pupil of Caxton, in 1520, we read:

'The hawthornes also that groweth in Wirral
Do burge and bere greene leaves at Christmas
As freshe as other yn May...'

The holy thorn was cut down in 1653 by a zealous Puritan, but many slips [shoots] of it had been budded and its descendants still 'blossom at Christmas, mindful of our Lord'.

The Archangel Gabriel appeared to St Joseph and bade him build a church in honour of our Lady's Assumption:

'So Joseph dyd as the angell hym bad,
And wrought there an ymage of our lady;
For to serve hyr great devotion he had;
And that same ymage is yet at Glastonbury,
In the same church; there ye may it se.
For it was the fyrst, as I understande,
That ever was sene in this countre;
For Joseph it made wyth his owne hande. '

Thus did the first Apostle of Britain and his disciples make a little oratory 'of twisted twigs' to praise God at the foot of St Michael's Tor; it was 60ft long and 26ft wide, and from that wattle church dedicated to His Blessed Mother by our Lord Himself, they and their successors scattered far and wide the seed of the true faith, to north and south, to east and west; and like the seed of mustard it grew to a great tree whose branches spread over north-west Europe. In Tennyson's Holy Grail the monk Ambrosius tells Perceval that:

'From our old books I know
That Joseph came of old to Glastonbury,
And there the heathen prince, Arviragus,
Gave him an isle of marsh whereon to build;
And there he built with wattles from the marsh
A little lonely church in days of yore.
For so they say, these books of ours.'

It is said that the once-wealthy Jew, the 'friend of Pilate and of the Lord', who had given the sumptuous sepulchre he had prepared for himself to Him Who had no place to lay his Head, slept his last sleep in the shadow of the poor and primitive church of reeds at Avalon, the first of those innumerable saints whose bodies have sanctified this soil.

John of Glastonbury quoting a prophecy of the British bard Melkin, says that in Avalon's Island Joseph...

'Hath found perpetual sleep;
And he lies on a two-forked line
Next the south corner of an oratory
Fashioned of wattles
For the adoring of a mighty Virgin
By the aforesaid sphere-betokened
Dwellers in that place, thirteen in all. ..'

His [Joseph's] feast was formerly kept on July 27th and great was the concourse of pilgrims who flocked to pray before his statue. William Good, born at Glastonbury in 1527 and who, a member of the Society of Jesus [Jesuits], died at Naples in 1596, says that in a long subterranean chapel there was a most famous place of pilgrimage 'which was made to a stone image of St Joseph there and many miracles were wrought at it. When I was a boy of eight, for I was born there, I have served Mass in this chapel, and I saw it destroyed in the time of Henry VIII...' "

(The Glories of Glastonbury: her legends, history and saints, Armine Le Strange Campbell, Sheed & Ward, London, 1926)

Friday 17 August 2007

Fr Dwight: the grapes of wrath?

Fr Dwight decided to let off more steam on his blog Standing on My Head (a very good blog, by the way) having discovered Roman Christendom and its criticism of some of his views on the traditional liturgy.

Fair enough! I think that is his right. We shouldn't begrudge it. I like him and that's why I'm engaging with him. So please read the below in that spirit.

First, under a heading "Watzablog" he gives a lecture on what a blog should be like, accusing some people of bad manners and then claiming to know who was the author of Roman Christendom and seeking to "out" us.

He launched into an attack on James Bogle, whose letters I have borrowed from, even accusing him of being "insulting" and "arrogant" and this blog of making "senseless and weird" attacks, whilst claiming himself to be "objective and cheerful" and to give those who favour the traditional rites (or Mass of John XXIII as he insists on calling it when it is, of course, the oldest rite in the Church), the "benefit of the doubt".

He then gives us a treatise on how we're all wrong when we think we are right and thinking you're right, even if you are right, is self-righteous. Well, if we all followed such a principle there would, of course, never be any debate at all.

To add spice, the whole is interlaced with choice references to "fundamentalism", "little fortresses", "aggressive", "belligerent", "martyr complexes", "self-pity", "sick kind of mentality", "obsession", "mania", "self-righteous", "extreme", "suspicious", "intolerant", "the seriousness of Satan", "demented terrier with a slipper", "sulk", "infected wound" and the like.

No prizes for guessing, folks, that this is at least partly aimed at Roman Christendom for daring to defend the traditional rite in the face of some pretty ill-informed opposition.

I need say no more: Fr Dwight is not "standing on his head" over this one but on his own dignity by over-reacting somewhat.

Well, at least he is engaging, now. That's a good start!

Fr Dwight is, I consider, actually a very good guy, but both he, and his Parish Priest, Fr Jay Scott Newman, also a good guy, ought to exercise a little caution when using sacerdotal authority particularly on anything that might be interpreted as undermining the Church's traditions (Latin, Chant etc) or the manifest and proper wishes of the Pope and use scorn sparingly against others who simply point this out.

Targeting Catholics who prefer the traditional Roman rite is a recreation that is past its sell-by date. It's done great harm these past 40 years and the Pope has quite rightly called time on it.

Fr Dwight erased most of the comments on his blog that criticised his view of liturgy and Fr Jay now won't receive any further comments on his blog. His penultimate post was, aptly but sadly, entitled "Liturgy Wars". It was not traditional-rite Catholics who started the war.

There should, of course, be no wars over liturgy. We should all be on the same side not divided internally.

Unfortunately, it is the kind of statement that appeared in Fr Jay's Parish newsletter that can sometimes tend to prolong the war. I publish it below as it is in the public domain and a commentator has sent it to me.

If any priest is going to claim to be loyal to the Pope and to say "Where Peter is, there is the Church", then he needs to be open and willing to implement the motu proprio, and should avoid minimising it by suggesting that it "kinda, sorta" gives wider permission for the traditional rites.

The reality is that the motu proprio gives extremely wide and extensive permission for the use of the traditional rites.

But here is Fr Jay's advice to his parishioners on 1 July, just before the publication of the motu proprio:

"When this document is finally published, there will no doubt be a circus of media attention of the most sensational kind, but please do not be confused or disturbed by what you read in the papers or see on television. Whatever else may be the case, there will certainly be no changes made in the present way we celebrate the Missal of 1970 in our scheduled liturgies, and pending a careful study of the document, I do not anticipate that a regularly scheduled Tridentine Mass will be celebrated here at St. Mary’s. For now, simply know that a document will probably appear this summer, and when it does, we will study it together."

To be fair to Fr Jay, he clearly did not anticipate the breadth and width of the rights granted by the motu proprio and, I suspect, is still slightly in denial about it all. On his blog, he certainly admits - actually I think rather courageously and even humbly - to being a bit confused by it all. That actually rather endeared him to me, I have to say. My heart went out to him!

I suspect that when he and Fr Dwight have had time to digest it all, reflect upon it all and pray about it, they will take a more balanced view.

So let's give 'em a chance, folks, and pray for them and for what I have a feeling is a very important and influential parish in that part of the US of A and two potentially very influential priests.

Thursday 16 August 2007

Solemn Pontifical Requiem for Henry IX and I, King and Cardinal, on Saturday 22 September 2007 at noon...

By kind permission of His Excellency Fra’ Matthew Festing TD OBE DL, the Grand Prior of England of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta,
and by the patronage of His Grace the Duke of St Albans, the Governor-General of the Royal Stuart Society,
Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass
will be sung with solemn Pontifical Absolution
in the
Conventual Church
the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta,
the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, 60 Grove End Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8 9NH
to mark the bicentenary of the death and for the repose of the soul of
Henry Benedict Stuart
Cardinal Duke of York, Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church and Cardinal-bishop of Ostia and Velletri and of Frascati,
grandson of
King James II and VII
of England, Scotland, France and Ireland
and for the souls of
the deceased members of the Royal House of Stuart
12 noon
Saturday 22nd September 2007
the Feast of St Maurice of the Theban Legion.

Musical Setting: Requiem of G F Anerio
Dress: dark suit and dark tie (equivalent for ladies or for Highland/Lowland dress)
Approach from either Grove End Road, through the Hospital entrance, or Circus Road

[Nearest tube: St John’s Wood]

His Most Eminent Majesty, King Henry IX and I, Cardinal-bishop of Frascati and Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church

Arms of the Royal House of Stuart (retaining the Fleurs de Lys)

HRH Prince Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York, became the rightful king, after the death of his brother, "Bonnie Prince Charlie", Prince Charles Edward, de jure King Charles III of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, on 13 January 1788.

He thus, also, became King in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and all the other realms and territories of the nascent British Empire.

For instance, he became King in Australia since Australia was claimed for the Crown by Captain James Cook RN in 1770 and NSW became a Crown Colony on 26 January 1788, so the real first kings of Australia were Bonnie Prince Charlie and thence the King-Cardinal.

So it would be fitting to have a bicentenary Requiem in each of the realms and territories of the former British Empire. For instance, in Australia, either NSW or Tasmania (once Van Diemans Land), founded in 1788 and 1803, respectively, would be appropriate therefore both having owed allegiance to the King-Cardinal.

Interestingly, Jacobites are not Unionists in the Iain Paisley sense. They are "Personal or Crown Unionists" not "Kingdom Unionists" and so do not believe in Great Britain or the United Kingdom but rather in the personal union of the Crowns of England, Scotland, France and Ireland (and the Principality of Wales) whilst maintaining separate the kingdoms and governments of each of the nations i.e., the proper Catholic subsidiarist model based upon that of the Catholic Roman Empire and Roman Church.

In short, the Royal Stuarts endorsed the right and happy medium between the twin extremes of fissiparous nationalist separatism, on the one hand, and tyrannous Unionist centralism, on the other, both revolutionary political creeds that destroy rather than build.

The Cardinal was also King Henry I of Ireland since Henry VIII's Crown of Ireland Act of 1542 cannot be recognised because he was already then a usurper and heretic, and before him the English kings called themselves "Lord of Ireland", by rescript of the Holy See (Laudabiliter of Pope Adrian IV) with the Pope as feudal overlord, and not "King of Ireland".

However, in 1555, Pope Paul IV issued a papal bull granting the title "King of Ireland" to Philip II of Spain, following excommunication of Henry VIII, the latter having given himself the title by challenging the prior feudal right of the Papacy. The battle of Kinsale and the failed Spanish Armada put paid to Philip's rule and the red-haired, Catholic-murdering harridan and bastard queen, Elizabeth I, illegitimate daughter of Ann Boleyn by Henry VIII, took over.

King George V continued to reign, for a time, in Ireland as King of the United Kingdom but, not surprisingly, this met with problems in the Irish Free State, created after 1922 as a Dominion within the British Empire. Thus it was that, in 1927, the old Anglo-Irish title "King of Ireland" was revived to emphasize the Irish Free State's more independent status.

This, of course, was from where came the idea for the titles "Queen of Canada" and "Queen of Australia". etc.

So, a Requiem for the Cardinal-King should not offend the Irish nationalist conscience at all.

But where does the claim to France comes from? It goes back to King Edward III, being Norman-French himself and Duke of Normandy, and to the Hundred Years War. But it was a tenuous claim since it infringed the Salic law and claimed through a woman. King Henry VI of England held it de facto (and arguably de jure) until Joan of Arc (with the help of God!) pushed him out and put the Dauphin (as the heir to the French throne was called) on the throne as Charles VII in 1429.

However, the English kings hung on to the claim, despite losing all of their French territories during the Wars of the Roses, except Calais which was itself lost under King Philip I and Queen Mary I (Tudor).

Elizabeth I ceded all claim to Calais but kept the title Queen of France, despite, as did her successor King James I and VI under whom the Crowns of England and Scotland, but not the countries, were united. Hence the claim of the Royal Stuarts to the Kingdom of France continued but only nominally. Queen Anne allowed the Union of England and Scotland as Great Britain (never recognised by the Catholic Royal Stuarts) and kept the French title as did the Hanoverian usurpers, even after the Kingdom of France ceased to exist on 21 September 1792.

However, King George III finally dropped the use of the title with the Union of Great Britain and Ireland (as the United Kingdom) in the Act of Union of 1800 (also never recognised by the Catholic Royal Stuarts).

Hence the titles of the King-Cardinal.

He is therefore, I suppose, King Henry II of France but the Royal Stuarts never numbered their title for the obvious reason that, in exile, they relied upon the (de facto!) kings of France for protection.

I urge fellow Jacobites in the Commonwealth realms and former British imperial territories to celebrate Solemn Requiems for the King-Cardinal, also.

The proper form is to have a Solemn Mass (with deacon and subdeacon) and a catafalque draped in a black pall and, if you can get it, a replica of St Edward's Crown and the royal mantle, a Cardinal's scarlet galero (hat) and scarlet cappa magna (cape and train), draped at the front and back of the catafalque (the Cardinal's regalia nearest the altar) and a replica of the Garter Star and Collar on top of the catafalque, together with replicas of the Thistle Star and Collar, if you can get them.

The Requiem should end with the Absolution. Ideally it should be a Pontifical Solemn Mass (i.e. with a bishop) with Pontifical Absolution, such as we are having in England on 22 September 2007 (see above).

Prince Henry before Ordination, with Thistle (revived by his grandfather, James II and VII) and Garter in the old pre-Hanoverian style (lighter blue, diamond-encrusted star)

Wednesday 15 August 2007

The Queen assumed into heaven...

"Christ's faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God's Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.

15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven clearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of the faithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover, cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage and guardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religious institutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name from this privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation of which this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for pious meditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin's Assumption into heaven.

16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ's faithful is universally manifested still more splendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, the sacred liturgy, "because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within the Church, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding a particular point of Christian doctrine.

17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: 'Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself'.

18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary's as 'an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men'. And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God's Providence. 'God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb'.

19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of the Apostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith, has by its own authority, made the celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentive minds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery it commemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which it had occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the more solemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius I prescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marian feasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was already being celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should be observed in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it and prescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decided to take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful. Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which 'the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes'."

Munificentissimus Deus, Piux XII, 1 November 1950, Feast of All Saints.

Tuesday 14 August 2007

Fr Jay Scott Newman also joins the muddle...

Fr Jay Scott Newman is another PP who has a good blog which is well worth reading. I don't know him but he seems a good enough fellow.

But...once, again, but...

Yep, the liturgy.

Before the motu proprio was issued he joined in with the "Latin Questions" discussion and made this unhelpful comment:

"...The long-rumored and still invisible motu proprio notwithstanding, there is simply no interest in the Church beyond the statistically insignificant world of specialists and bloggers in retrieving what 99.999% of the Catholic people (and hierarchy) consider a noble part of our heritage but not a living part of our future (think of the papal navy!)..."

Where does he get his stats? Wake up and smell the coffee, Father!

And this:

"...All of which leads to my conclusion that those who harbor hope that the general liturgical life of the Church will be improved by a few more celebrations of the Pian Mass have simply and profoundly misunderstood the situation of the Church in our time..."

Yep. Pretty offensive and ill-informed stuff. It's not the Pian mass. It is much, much older. He has simply "profoundly misunderstood"!

Someone replied to him thus:

"Your over-emphasis on numbers might lead an observer to think that you put a higher premium on popularity than truth or right practice...

If you want to get with what is 'serious' then you need to concern yourself less with numbers and more with truth and tradition.

Otherwise you may find yourself numbered with those disciples who got with the numbers by running away, rather than with those who stood at the foot of the Cross.

I know it is difficult for a priest these days to give any favour to the traditional rite without incurring trouble with his bishop but do not let that skew your vision or compromise your intellectual impartiality."

He got cross with that and replied:

"...Based on 20 years of experience, I believe that such folk will be sadly disappointed, no matter what the yet-to-be published (or even seen) motu proprio may or may not say..."
Someone replied to him beginning: "I catch a glimpse of a straw man in your last comment..."
Well, indeed!

There were other replies to Fr Newman but - mysteriously - they were removed from Fr Dwight's blog. US-style "free speech"? See how it works? I am free to say whatever I like but if you say something I don't like, I just erase it. This is called "free speech". Apparently!

But then, all of a sudden, and within only a few weeks, out came the motu proprio.

Whoops! Now the boot was on the other foot. The "long-rumoured and yet invisible" and the "yet to be published (or even seen)" had suddenly been seen, published and hugely exceeded the expected minimalist concessions that aggressive Novus Ordo priests like Fr Jay had expected.

And it came from the Pope himself!

Golly! What to do, now? Um, err, aaah....

You guessed it - back-peddle. Fast! (But without apologising to anyone - never apologise, never explain, apparently!).

Here's an extract from Fr Jay's very grudging back-peddle:

"In any event, last Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI threw a spanner in the works with his long-awaited, much-rumored, and oft-debated Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which more or less (kinda, sorta) gives any priest of the Latin Rite the choice of which Mass to offer: the Mass codified by Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent or the Mass codified by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council. It remains to be seen what effect, if any, this document will have on the life of the Church as it is lived in parishes, religious houses, seminaries, etc..."
Get that, folks? The Pope "threw a spanner in the works". And this from a priest who thinks himself a papal loyalist. And Paul VI apparently only "codified" the new mass - no new Eucharistic prayers or anything like that...err...But let's read on:

"In February 1962, Pope John XXIII promulgated an Apostolic Constitution called Veterum Sapientia, mandating very specific requirements for the teaching and preservation of Latin in the Church, but because of the radical changes taking place in the world at the time, this authoritative document was Dead On Arrival and had zero effect in the life of the Church. Today, if this document is read at all, it is usually read with mirth. Well might we all mourn the passing away of Latin from wide use in the Church, but pass away it has...."
Oh really? So we should rejoice in our ignorance of our own history, culture and the language in which most of our theology is written, should we? We should think it's all "DOA"? And we should read "with mirth" the writings of a beatified pope, should we? More papal loyalism? Err, sorry Father, I don't think so! But there's more...

"Will Summorum Pontificum be DOA in the same way as Veterum Sapientia? I honestly don’t know, and to tell the truth, I don’t much care one way or the other..."
"Don't much care..."! Does this sound like loyalty to the Pope? I doubt that many would see it that way!

So whilst Fr Jay has been forced to back off he has done so with singularly bad grace. That is a great shame because he is a priest who made much of his loyalty under Pope John Paul II but is acting rather differently under Pope Benedict. But even more so because he is not a bad guy at all. Indeed, he is basically a very good guy but he has allowed his thinking and theology to get sloppy and complacent.

Come on now, Fr Jay. You can do better. Don't cheat yourself or your parishioners!

Pray for him, folks, and for all our clergy!

The Glorious Twelfth...

12th August marks the start of the shooting season and a great day in the Field Sports calendar which every keen sportsman looks forward to. One of the most natural activities for man is to hunt and forage for his food. Ever since Adam and Eve were cast from Eden, man has had to hunt and forage for his food. Whilst this is the consequence of the Fall and there will be no need of hunting in Heaven, it need not be an activity without its pleasures here below. The same applies to many things that are the consequence of the Fall. Indeed God expects us to make a virtue of necessity and to turn the arduous into something full of meaning and reward. Men must climb mountains and it is arduous but it is also fulfilling and fun. So with the pleasures of the Chase. Hunting, shooting and fishing have always been the birthright of every free-born man.

This view is not shared by many modern men (and especially, for some reason, many modern women). This is a sign of the absurd artificiality of our modern lives when we tend to think that our meat and drink come from refrigerated cabinets in Hypermarkets and not from real animals.

Why men and women who are content to chop up meat in their kitchens should cavil at the idea of hunting that same meat, is a mystery. It is something so devoid of logic and common sense as to be almost comic.

Yet these same people have managed to persuade our current Labour government to abolish hunting with hounds, an ancient and perfectly natural activity for man.

It is curious when these same animal-rights people seem to have less objection to men shooting each other senselessly than to hunting animals. Reality reminder: Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian!

It is also a simple fact that food which has to be chased is healthier for you than food which comes from animals bred in captivity, under arc lamps and in narrow cages, or lounging lazily in fields awaiting the slaughter yard. Deer have zero cholesterol whereas fat, lazy cows are brimming with the stuff. Birds of the air likewise have but little, whereas broiler chickens are stuffed full of it and, moreover, farmed cattle and chickens tend to have loads of unhealthy chemicals crammed into them to give them colour and make them keep longer. Farmed fish (e.g. salmon) are also full of unhealthy fat.

Want to be healthy? Then eat game i.e. food that has been chased!

Sunday 12 August 2007

Lovers of the Roman rite have been shamefully abused these 40 years...

Until the arrival of our new Pope, Traditional Catholics were always being deliberately snubbed, insulted, misinterpreted and abused. I can testify from my own experience that this has been going on now for many years. I noticed it even when I was still attending the Novus Ordo regularly.

But now we have the motu proprio and so there is even less excuse for vilifying one's fellow Catholics for hearing the mass of their forefathers.

Things are liturgically better now than in the 1970s when traditional Catholics, many of whom in those days were old enough to have fought in the war bravely against Nazism and Fascism, were constantly being called Nazis and Fascists by all too many of their fellow Novus Ordo Catholics. Many such abusers knew better but just went along with the crowd rather as many Jews did when they cried "Crucify him" to our Lord in the courtyard of Pilate's palace. It was shameful. The Chairman of International Una Voce, Eric de Saventhem, had even been a German conspirator against Nazism and had had to escape from Nazi Germany in fear of his life. But that meant nothing to the calumniators. They still called him a Nazi merely for preferring the ancient Roman rite of his ancestors. And most of the calumniators had never been anywhere near persecution themselves but had always lived in comfort in the post-war West.

It was not a pretty sight to watch so many people calling themselves Christians engaging in this calumniatory abuse, especially those many of them who concurrently claimed to be eager exponents of "toleration" and "Ecumenism" to all and any form of religion - except, of course, the traditional version of their own. And the clergy and bishops were often as bad as any, persecuting those in their flocks who dared to show any kind of warmth toward the traditional rites. It was a kind of trahison des clercs.

Further back still, in the early days, in the years after the Council, there were even examples of priests ripping up rosaries and other devotional aids in the pulpit telling their congregations that they were things of the past. It was a deeply shameful time. And all the while the Faithful were constantly being told that this was "Renewal". Falsehoods were all too frequently on the lips of both clergy and laity alike in those days, alas.

I can also testify that it was during those times that so many Catholics left the Faith. The spiritual "glue" that had kept them attached to the Faith was atrophied by the prevailing chaos and so huge numbers simply came unstuck and drifted away.

The reality is that there are still clergy who do not feel the courage to seek out the truth. Some are actively afraid of finding out that what traditional Catholics say about the traditional Roman rite is true. They know that this might make demands upon their consciences which they are afraid to admit. Actually the demands are not so great but they do not feel the courage to attempt even the minimal. To be fair there are so many other issues to fight on that they do not want to have a fight on the issue of liturgy as well. What they do not realise is that the liturgy issue can often precede others simply because how we pray determines how we believe - lex orandi statuit legem credendi.

All that is needed is for them to act as the better sort of modern PP does who usually celebrates the Novus Ordo but allows and gives favour and toleration to the traditional mass, having harmoniously negotiated the arrangement with the bishop. After all, the Holy Father himself is a devotee of the traditional rites and strongly supports their availability to the faithful, as evidenced by his very extensive motu proprio. It is curious to hear from the anti-traditional refuseniks who will not tolerate the traditional rites but yet claim to be loyal to the Holy Father. They are too often loyal to their own prejudices. The real truth is that they are not loyal to the Holy Father.

But there are clergy who do not even feel the courage to attempt this reasonable compromise. So they bury their heads in the sand, hoping that the issue will not affect them or will go away. But God does not reward such lack of courage. And so the crisis continues - and will continue.

We must pray for better understanding and better times, for our clergy and for charity to heal the wounds of deep division and strife that the Church has suffered over these past 40 years, through sin, ignorance, folly, obstinacy, vainglory and uncharity.

Our Holy Father has led the way and we should follow him.

Fr Dwight's lack of response: a rejoinder...

After 66 comments about his Latin Questions appeared on his blog, Fr Dwight then stopped all correspondence and purported to summarise what he had found out.

His summary showed that he either had not read and understood most of the 66 comments or that he had understood them but was deliberately ignoring them. Either way that was not a just or fair response to so many carefully crafted replies to his "Latin Questions".

It was an unsatisfactory summary on a range of levels.

In the "Latin Questions" he said this:

"Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be critical or unkind. These are genuine questions. Can anyone who reads this blog, and who is keen on the Latin Mass answer them for me?"


"These are honest questions by someone who is seeking to understand."

Was he serious? Apparently not. That is disappointing.

Some wrote extensively answering his "honest questions" and he appears to have ignored them almost entirely. That was not very pastoral.

Key points that were made to him included the following:

1. The 2,000 year old Mass is NOT (I repeat) inaudible at Solemn High Mass which is the norm. Neither is it inaudible at the Missa Cantata. You simply ignore this fact inconvenient to your thesis. This is not a "complex academic argument". An intelligent 12-year-old could understand it.

2. The norm for the Novus Ordo is Latin not the vernacular. Read Vatican II and you will see that. You thus accuse Vatican II of opposing "common sense". And again this is not a "complex academic argument".

3. The 300 or more mistranslations of the Latin in English are egregious and serious. The word sacrifice only appears once in the English and that as a mistranslation. The language is not, by any stretch of the imagination, simple, utilitarian and dignified, still less functional. It is theologically unsound. Even in Latin Bugnini's Collects are doctrinally ambiguous. Practical? Straightforward? I'm afraid not. Moreover, the fact that the Holy Father has ordered that the translations be re-visited underscores and re-emphasizes this point. But you simply ignore it!

4. Hebrew, Greek and Latin were used for the Mass because they are the 3 languages sacred to Christianity, not so that more people could immediately understand them. How many Roman citizens understood Hebrew, the first language used for the Mass?

5. If you think the Sacred Liturgy is about "options and opportunities for varied expressions of worship", especially of the sort that are abused, then perhaps you have missed the boat and simply do not understand what Liturgy is actually for. It is not a game. We pray in order to save our souls not merely as some Sunday leisure activity. The idea that it is about self-selection of "options and opportunities" is a more Protestant idea of how to praise God. We should praise God not in the manner we like best but in the manner that He, over the centuries through the Holy Spirit, has shown that He likes best.

6. If you think the new lectionary is vastly improved then I suggest that is because you simply have little or no experience of the old one. The new lectionary has been bowdlerised to leave out certain passages that would "offend" modern sceptical and secular man. The new Breviary is even more radical a departure from Sacred Tradition. It even abolishes Prime so that the Psalmic basis of the Breviary is undermined and prayer is offered 6 times a day instead of 7. Moreover, there is no call to "rise at night to praise his name" as the Psalmist has it since Matins was abolished and replaced by a complete novelty called "The Office of Readings". The real evidence of the partiality of the new Breviary is that radical changes were only made to the Roman rite and not any of the other rites, nor even the Monastic Breviary which is virtually unaltered. The connection between the Roman Breviary and the Monastic is thus severed. One could be forgiven for thinking that Bugnini intended to alter the Faith of millions rather than make genuinely needed changes.

7. Your final remark is a flat refusal even to listen to others let alone to engage with them. If you "accept the authority of the Catholic Church" then most of your arguments fly out the window since it was not the "authority of Catholic Church" which gave us the poorly translated English that you and others now regularly use at Mass but the connivance of disobedient modern "liturgists" and liturgical committees, indolent pastors, and complacent bishops. Such a mess is by no stretch of the imagination "one of the fruits" of the Second Vatican Council. Moreover, your claim that you "accept her authority in the past down through the ages" is also hollow since you seem to have little interest in, and less knowledge of, what the Church has taught through the ages about its liturgy. You need to do some research about this.


It is disappointing that he began so well and ended thus.

After publishing his summary ignoring the extensive responses that he had elicited, Fr Dwight then ignored those of his friends who wrote to him about it.

This tended further to undermine the "honest enquiry" theme that he had so reasonably started out with. That seemed a great pity.

If it was a deliberate snub (which I hope not) I am afraid I am bound to say that it is par for the course in the treatment of Traditional-rite Catholics. However, now that the Holy Father has published the motu proprio is the time to make amends.

Latin Questions...and an answer

Here are Fr Dwight's Latin Questions for ease of reference and one of the answers given in the comments which will, I hope, show how comprehensively the questions were answered:


"(1) If the Latin language is so wonderful, why is it inaudible on purpose?

(2) How does the priest reading the Scripture in Latin with his back to the people inaudibly in a language they don't understand help the people of God to hear and understand the Word of God?

(3) How does no hymns and a choir singing in Gregorian chant help the people to particpate in the Mass, or have I got this wrong and the people are not intended to participate in the Mass at all? If so, is this better?

(4) How does it help the people to understand what is going on at the Mass when they can't see what is happening at the altar, can't understand the language, and can't hear what the priest is saying?

(5) I've heard it said that the Latin language is 'ancient and mystical' and that having the Mass in a dead language assists the worship by making it more mysterious. But the Mass was first translated into Latin from Greek because Latin was the vernacular at the time. In other words, it was put into Latin so people could understand it. Isn't the veneration of Latin therefore artificial?

(6) If one really wants an ancient, dead language that is mysterious, why don't we have the Mass in Aramaic or Syriac, which are the dead ancient languages closest to what our Lord himself would have spoken? Why is Latin so special?"


"Hello Fr Dwight, again! Carrying on from the previous frame I now essay your questions:

1. The use of the Latin language for the Roman rite is not chiefly to do with its “wonder” as a language, still less for purely aesthetic reasons. To think this is to misunderstand its use. There are 3 primary sacred languages in the Christian Church. They are: Hebrew (Aramaic), Greek and Latin. Why? Primarily, because they are the languages which God chose to use in revealing Himself to us. That, with nothing more, renders them sacred. But there is more. They were also the languages over the Cross of our Redemption – read the Scriptures and you will see it (Mel Gibson unaccountably left Greek out of his film although it was the primary language of the time). They also correspond to the Holy Trinity: Hebrew, the language of the Jews and the Old Testament, to the Father, Greek the language of the New Testament and of the Eastern Roman Empire (pace Mel Gibson, Latin was largely confined to the Roman army not the Roman administration and trade), to the Son, and Latin, the language of the Western Empire, to the Holy Spirit since it is chiefly in that language that the Holy Spirit has unlocked to us the deeper understanding of the mysteries of the Catholic faith so that, for most of the Christian centuries, it has been the language of theologians, learned men, scientists and scholars. So the choice of these languages for the liturgy was not accidental. Sanskrit or Mandarin would not have done, honourable and venerable though they may be.

I suspect because you have confined your study of the traditional mass to the Low Mass alone (a common mistake) you think that the Latin is inaudible. It just isn’t in the Missa Cantata (what you Yanks call High Mass) or the High Mass (what you Yanks call Solemn High Mass). Solemn High Mass is the norm, for parishes and dioceses, not merely the Missa Cantata, still less the said Low Mass. Low Mass is a concession for travelling priests or priests who are in a hurry for a good reason. It is not the norm. To celebrate Low Mass as the norm is an abuse. It is an abuse that arose out of persecution in the Anglophone countries, especially Ireland. Every parish should have Solemn High Mass at every mass, where possible. It is NOT reserved for “special occasions”. The East does not have anything else. Low Mass does not exist for them. At Solemn High Mass or Missa Cantata the Latin is sung and is very much audible, beautiful and highly conducive to devotion and prayer. It is also the ancient tradition of the Church and thus, we can be certain, the manner of prayer which the Holy Spirit has taught us and thus the form of public prayer most pleasing to God.

2. Same answer. When the Mass is sung as it should be, all the readings are sung, in a beautiful chant, and everyone can hear their beautiful words. Moreover, it is sometimes the custom to read them again, in the vernacular, at the beginning of the sermon.

If you want to understand the traditional rite of mass, Dwight, you have got to attend the Solemn High Mass, well sung, and attend it numerous times so that you fully see and understand it and how it works. Otherwise you will continue to tilt at windmills and merely waste your time attacking a straw man.

The priest, deacon and sub-deacon do not always have their back to the people and certainly not when chanting the readings. That is yet another of your straw men!

However, when they go to the altar of God they face God. They do not have “their back to the people”. On the contrary, it is the New Mass priest who has his back to God – that is, assuming that he believes that it is really God in the tabernacle behind him which he has turned his back on. It is fitting, right and proper for the priests of God to face Him and to bow low before Him when they pray to Him. Let us not forget that is what we are doing at Mass: we are praying to God, first and foremost. We are not engaged primarily in a public meeting in some lecture hall as Protestants often seem to be. We are approaching the Holy of Holies before Whom we kneel and lie prostrate as before the presence of Almighty God Himself, albeit, in His great humility, He has chosen to appear to us disguised as a circlet of bread and a cup of wine. What arrogance, then, for the sacred ministers of the altar to turn their backs upon the sacred presence of the Divine Majesty of the King of Heaven. But more surprising, still, are those who still speak of the priest who turns toward the Lord as though he were thereby “turning his back” upon his people. On the contrary, he stands as one pressed forward by the people to be consecrated to address the prayers of all to that Sacred and Majestic Presence that inhabits our tabernacles. How is it that the humblest and most ignorant Jew of the Old Testament understood this well enough but we modern Christians, in all our knowledge and wisdom, cannot understand so simple a thing?

I shall carry on in another frame hereafter, with the other questions.

6:52 PM
Hello Fr Dwight, again! Carrying on from the previous frame I now continue with the next questions:

3. With respect you need to read a bit more about what “participatio actuosa”, the proper active participation of the faithful at mass, actually is. I suggest you start with The Organic Development of the Liturgy by Rev Dr Alcuin Reid OSB, one of the foremost liturgical scholars in the English language. Let me try to put it simply: the purpose of liturgy is to lift up and conform ourselves to God through the public prayer of the Church, hallowed by tradition and the Holy Spirit. The purpose of liturgy is NOT about trying to bring God down to our merely human level by cutting and slashing what the Holy Spirit has provided us and so seeking to get God to conform to us. That is the very reverse of liturgy’s purpose and yet so many modern liturgists and clergy seem to be seeking to do that.

So “active participation” is about the faithful participating in that way: lifting themselves up, through the liturgy and public prayer of the Church, to God. It is not about rendering the sublime and sacred less sublime and more ordinary and hum-drum so as to bring it down to our level. If we do not understand some part of the liturgy we should not then require that it be re-written or re-presented so that we, in our ignorance, can understand it better. What we must do is to learn about the liturgy, understand it better so that what is now obscure is clarified by study and so that we are then lifted up and conform ourselves to God, not try to bring his great mysteries down to our merely human level. THAT is active participation, not the singing of trite ditties and bad nursery rhymes in place of the ancient rites of Holy Church.

The Church does not rule out hymns, even vernacular hymns, where necessary but that is really an admission that the people are are seemingly unable to lift their understanding to appreciate the beauty of the ancient rites of the Church and must have something less sublime to meet their lower levels of understanding. It is allowable but it is far from perfect. For the same reason the Church allows a vernacular liturgy such as St Cyril and St Methodius provided for the pagan Slavs and the pagan Croats in the Glagolitic rite. In time, however, these vernacular rites have taken on a sacred hue of their own. But, good though they are, they are not as perfect as the sacred liturgy in the sacred languages of Hebrew, Greek and Latin which are the languages of all the most ancient rites in the Church, even today e.g. the Syrian and Chaldean Churches use Aramaic, the Greeks and Melchites use Greek (although the Arabic vernacular is creeping in fast), and, until recently, the Western rites, chiefly the Roman but also the Toledan, the Ambrosian, the Bragan and the other Western rites, used Latin.

4. You repeat yourself here and I have answered you already, I think.

5. Here you make the classic mistake of thinking that the reason the liturgy was first put into Greek and Latin was because the Church wanted to use the vernacular. As I said earlier, the first Christian liturgical language was almost certainly Aramaic-Hebrew and the Jews used a liturgical variant of it. Greek, being the language used by our Lord, quickly followed. Latin came later but a liturgical version of Latin was used, as also Greek. These languages were used because they are sacred languages: they appeared over the Cross, they were the languages of the Old and New Testament and of the continuing revelation of the Christian Gospel by the Holy Spirit through the Church. To describe the veneration of Latin as “artificial” is therefore to display the kind of dismissal of two millennia of Christian learning, scholarship, theology, teaching, government, law, science, medicine, literature, art and continuing enfolding of God’s revelation that one might normally expect only to hear from the most ill-informed of Protestants. And yet, to be frank, one does hear such things from the clergy of the Catholic Church these days all too often. I go back to my first remarks: it is demonstrative of the extent to which our clergy are no longer properly educated. Indeed, the poor, ignorant and superstitious clerics of the immediate pre-Reformation period begin to look actually rather better informed than do many of our moderns! So many of our clergy have become so imbued with Protestant and Enlightenment ideas that they seem no longer able to see the difference between them and the true teaching and practice of the Catholic Church.

None of these ideas and complaints about the traditional practices of the Catholic Church are new, of course. They are no more than regurgitated ideas dredged up from the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. The VERY SAME arguments were advanced by the Philosophes of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution that are now being used against traditional liturgy, Latin, facing God, High Altars, plainchant and sacred music and so on. I repeat: NONE OF IT IS NEW. It is also a re-hash of the very ideas that were advanced by the Enlightenment and the enemies of the Church in the 18th century. One need only read the decrees of the heretical Synod of Pistoia to see that.

To argue their case now, in the 21st century, is to argue the case for those same historic enemies of the Church. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

The solution is to re-educate oneself about the true liturgical teaching and practice of the Roman Catholic Church and not to allow oneself to wallow in the ignorance and prejudice of the Reformation and the Enlightenment.

I recommend reading what the great popes had to say on the subject e.g. St Gregory the Great, St Pius V and St Pius X. The reforming popes always sought to return the Church’s liturgical practice back to the main stem of tradition, eliminating inappropriate novelties. There never was a papally-approved liturgical reform that consisted in ditching the old and substituting the new, not, that is, until Pope Paul VI allowed Archbishop Bugnini to begin the unprecedented experiment which is the Novus Ordo Missae. And what have been its fruits? Well, the evidence is before our very eyes: a massive decline in attendance at mass and the sacraments. Not a very propitious or edifying legacy, I think we must all agree.

This does not mean that the Novus Ordo Missae is heterodox, illegal, unspiritual or, still less, invalid. On the contrary, it is an authorised and valid rite of the Church and those who wish to use it are perfectly free so to do (provided they follow the prescribed rubrics and either the original Latin or an accurate translation which, regrettably, excludes the current ICEL mistranslation). That it is markedly inferior to the traditional rite no objective scholar can deny but that does not make it heterodox, illegal or invalid. Let us be clear about that.

What then is artificial? The faithful handing on of the traditions, including Latin, sanctified by pope after pope after pope and bequeathed to us by our fathers in the faith, or the substitution for it by a novelty put together by a committee appointed by Archbishop Bugnini?

The answer is surely obvious. It is the Novus Ordo Missae which is artificial, not the traditional rite. However, I repeat, that does not make it invalid - just inferior.

Now, when you add to that mix, the fact of the appallingly bad and trite translation of the Latin which is the ICEL English mass, with its over 300 mistakes of translation, that so many modern Catholics attend, you compound the problem a thousandfold. This is another reason why it is better to have a small number of liturgical languages: it is easier to avoid mistranslations, and easier to keep an eye on deliberate mistranslations designed to undermine the faith of the faithful. It is bad enough that Bugnini’s Collects for the Novus Ordo are already doctrinally ambiguous, as Professor Lauren Pristas has shown, but those ambiguities are made worse and even turned into actual errors by the ICEL mistranslation that has so watered down the faith of millions.

That, surely, is what is properly characterised as “artificial”.

6. And your question 6 I have now answered several times over.

I again emphasize that your questions reveal the extent to which you have been short-changed in your priestly education. I do not blame you for that but rather the Seminary Rectors and professors who have so signally failed whole generations of seminarians in recent decades. At a time when we were told that the use of the vernacular and modern idioms would open up the riches of the Church’s traditions to the faithful, the true reality is that there has never been such appalling ignorance in the Church of even some of its most basic traditions and practices.

I know that I have been a convert for many more years than you but I have made an effort to study and understand the public prayer of the Church. I began with the best of intentions to study and follow and conform myself to the Novus Ordo Missae thinking, like you still do, that it was proper so to do. Gradually I began to see and learn more and more about it, about the Church’s rites and traditions, and about the Church’s traditional teachings and practices. Anyone who sincerely and honestly studies these things will eventually see what is undeniable and indubitable: the Novus Ordo is not the same as the old Roman rite but rather a radical departure from it so that it is not accurate to describe it as the Roman rite. It is an entirely new rite, man-made and confected by a committee. It might at best be called the 2nd Roman rite or “new” Roman rite but more accurately it should be called the Pauline rite or, better still, the Bugninine rite, after its real inventor.

What has, in fact, happened, is exactly what Sacred Scripture warns us against: substituting the traditions of men for the traditions of God. We have substituted the traditions of Bugnini and his committee for the ancient and hallowed traditions of God handed down to us for the greater part of 2,000 years, taught and sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the Church. Not surprisingly the results have been pretty disastrous.

Some will now say that calling it the traditions of men means calling it invalid or heterodox. Not at all. Not all traditions of men can be so characterised and many traditions of men are very good. But the traditions of God are better. THAT is the point that so many fail debaters fail to understand.

The fact that it is a radical departure and a novelty would have been sufficient for every previous great reforming pope, if not, indeed, every pope, to have rejected it tout court. But the idea that it should be imposed upon the faithful and the traditional rites abandoned and even prescribed and forbidden would have filled every previous pope before Paul VI with the utmost horror at such a sacrilegious idea. And yet that is what has happened. And with dire and disastrous results. It has split not only the Church but also families, husband and wives, children and parents, priest from priest and faithful from faithful so that some of the most vitriolic and hateful abuse ever to be uttered in the name of theology has been uttered by those on either side of the liturgical fence, against each other and all, amazingly, in the name of Christ and His Church. And that at a time when the Catholic Church needs unity more than ever. It's pretty appalling! What a catastrophic state of affairs. The authors of such a state of affairs should hang their collective heads in shame.

It is not, my Father, about being the “afficionado” of one rite over another. Alas, the differences are much greater. They are about the very survival of a Catholic tradition. The issue is nothing less than that, so serious a matter is it.

Read, learn, reflect, pray. It is the only answer. And as you do so, you will also enjoy, grow and be greatly blessed and nourished in your faith. However, great the disaster has been, to learn more of these great riches of the Church’s tradition will nevertheless inspire and uplift you and warm your spirit and the inner reaches of your soul.

In these parlous times that is of the greatest comfort, not least for a priest of God.

I commend it to you, therefore.

With all love and blessings..."

Well that's a pretty full answer! And one that deserved a full reply. As can be seen from the next post, no such full reply was forthcoming. Indeed, the answers were either ignored or not read.

This seemed to undermine the spirit of honest enquiry in which the "Latin Questions" were first posed.

I like Fr Dwight but he has missed the point on the traditional mass...

Those of you who read Fr Dwight Longenecker's blog, "Standing on my head", will, like me I am sure, enjoy much of its content and style. Fr Dwight is a convert from Yankee Protestantism, then Anglicanism and is now a married Catholic priest doing good work at St Mary's, Greenville, South Carolina.


He cheated on the issue of the Latin Mass - big time.

He began well with a series of reasonable and honest questions about the traditional Roman rite, asked in all humility by someone who, coming from a Protestant background, honestly admitted he did not know that much about the traditional rite.

He even said "These are honest questions by someone who is seeking to understand".

Some of the questions were, however, tendentious e.g. "If the Latin language is so wonderful, why is it inaudible on purpose?" - clearly he has never been to a Sung Mass!

However, this could be overlooked if he were really interested in honest answers.

There were then no fewer than 66 comments on his blog many answering his questions fully and explaining, sometimes in careful detail, exactly what he said he wanted to know.

Fr Dwight then ended the discussion and purported to summarise it but did so in such a manner that he appeared not have read any of the detailed comments that his questions elicited. Indeed, he simply issued a paean of praise for the Novus Ordo Missae, re-affirming the very mistakes he had made earlier.

He got answers in abundance but did not seem to read them or else didn't seem to like them so just ignored them. Either way, this was unsatisfactory.

The Catholic Church is about truth or it is about nothing. When one embarks on the journey to find the truth then one doesn't stop half-way but follows it right through to the end.

This is especially so as a convert. I, too, am a convert and have followed a similar path.

But it also applies to born Catholics who start to take an interest in their Faith. The truth must be pursued for its own sake because it leads us to God.

No-one ever found God by agreeing to accept less than the truth or untruths.

Saturday 11 August 2007

Summorum Pontificum

One must at least start by singing a resounding Te Deum for our Holy Father, the Roman Pontiff, and for his latest motu proprio. It's almost a miracle.

In fact, that's precisely what we intend doing on 14 September 2007, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Rood or Cross, when the motu proprio comes into force.

Come and join us at our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, at 12 noon.

Then later in the evening, around 6.30pm, come to the Brompton Oratory where there will be yet more celebration of the day.

It's the perfect day for it as, in times past, Exaltatio Crucis or the Feast of the Exaltation was celebrated with nearly the same solemnity as Easter and Whitsun. It was the day that the Emperor Heraclius recaptured the True Cross, snatched away by the pagan Persians and their king, Chosroes.

Heraclius decided to carry the Cross himself back into Jerusalem but when he got to the city gates he was frozen to the spot and could not move. All were amazed at this and eventually the Patriarch of Jerusalem advised the Emperor to remove his imperial vesture and enter the city in humble attire as did our Lord.

The Emperor saw the merit of the idea and divested himself of his gorgeous robes and, clad in simple vesture and in bare feet, he resumed the Cross and found that he was able to enter the city gates.

So began the tradition of entering the Holy City with visible signs of humility. Doubtless with this in mind, when the first Christian general re-entered the city after 700 years of Muslim occupation, he dismounted from his horse and entered on foot.

This was, of course, Field Marshal Lord Allenby of Megiddo, the commander of British troops in Palestine and the re-conqueror of Jerusalem.

So it is a fitting day to restore the ancient rites.

This Pope is trying to tell us something, I trow, and it's all good news!