Sunday, 31 October 2010

Stress relief...

I am so stressed right now. When I am stressed (and I have the money) I buy clothes, although clothes shopping is a favourite past-time of mine anyway - ever since my mother used to drag me round Bexleyheath Shopping Centre in the days before Bluewater opened up for business (on my 11th birthday) and used to make me try on clothes I didn't like, only for me to get her to buy me what I wanted instead - didn't always work mind you. When I was at University I spent a lot of money on clothes.

Why do some people think it's ''effeminate'' for men to like clothes so much? Some people relieve stress by walking (works for me sometimes), some by getting massages - I go shopping. As for owning too much, I think there is something very Christian about owning things - about being at once aware, and appreciative, of what one has and aware of those who have not. I work for my money (and my God don't I put up with some crap at work for my money), and therefore for my things, so I appreciate my things that much more. I hate spoiled children though - you know the sort who say ''mum jump for me'', and mum says, ''how high?'' - it annoys me, for instance, when I spend £65 (a day's wages for me) on a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt (I utterly agreed with a friend of mine who once said that polo shirts are the most civilised form of clothing) only for a boy half my years to turn up the very next week wearing one, just because he wanted one too. Three of my younger cousins are like that.

I am rambling now. Payday is Friday, and I aim to have spent about half of it by Saturday. I want Yves Saint Laurent, (don't think I can stretch Prada - the last time I was at Westfield they had a lovely burgundy colour shirt but I'd spent all my money in other shops; I should have gone in the Prada shop first), Ralph Lauren, Lacoste...whatever. Quite apart from the joy of shopping it's nice to have something to show for the hours of toil I've spent in my dead end job...


It is 6:30am on Sunday. One thing I have noticed since I started blogging (in May of last year) is that visitors to my blog just go away on weekends. On Friday I had 160 whereas Saturday I had about a third of that, and I can think of no reason...

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Schism and Heresy...

Canon Law defines schism as the ''withdrawal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him,'' and heresy as ''the obstinate denial, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith.''

Some, and mostly Traditionalist Catholics of the most ignorant and bigotted kind, have accused me, of all people, of schism and heresy, and open dissent from Catholic teaching. I could well understand accusations of schism if I went frequently to communion in the churches of non-Catholics, but not if I choose to reject such recent magisterial rulings as Maxima Redemptionis or Cum Nostra, which supplanted the Tradition of the Church with the will of the Roman Pontiff in matters liturgical. Perhaps my aversion to post-'56 Holy Week arises from my own, utterly correct, understanding of Catholic Tradition rather than blind obedience to the wayward tendencies of the modern Papacy. If the Pope is wrong, he is wrong, and you are wrong by being obedient to him - just as much in the case of Holy Week, the Assumption, Joe the Communist, Evening Mass, the destruction of the Eucharistic Fast (not much going for the ''venerable'' Pius XII is there?) etc as if the Pope suddenly decided one day to start ordaining women...and he will - when there is a Modernist Pope on the throne, mark my words! The current Pope, Lord love him, simply won't budge - for all the right reasons, of course. Yet methinks that Catholic Truth is rather tenuous when the Pope is involved, all that power and authority of binding and loosing truth etc; just look at Mediator Dei and Munificentissimus Deus - all supposedly binding, doctrinally, on all Catholics and yet even I, so rustic and untutored, can spot errors in them, and very serious ones. My own opinion is that the Pope is no longer to be trusted when he has departed from the Tradition of the Church, and the liturgical reforms of the current Pope are, to put it mildly, simply ridiculous. Why are the liturgically astute shouted down in this respect when they have the temerity to point this out? It is mostly Catholics of the neo-Conservative kind, the obedience-is-everything sort, who do this - more on obedience later.

Now heresy...the Trads have brought this big gun into the battle (where exactly do I stand in this conflict in the Church, which reminds me, and not in a wholesome way, of a political difference? I am not an avant-garde liberal, but neither am I a Traditionalist, since they are ignorant...I just see myself as a simple, unassuming Catholic just amused to see so much lack of charity, and taste, on both sides, and hope that both sides obliterate each other...). Now heresy is more difficult to explain away convincingly than schism, but I'd like to know what sort of heretic people think I am. To my knowledge I do not deny any ancestral point of Catholic doctrine, but would accept remonstrance in this matter, of course. I simply point out the excesses and abuses of the Papacy, and its monopoly over the Sacred Liturgy these last 450 years, and satire not-very-tasteful Catholic devotions as foreign and rustic; totally beneath me. Liturgy is more important than devotions, something the Second Vatican Council endeavoured to define, and Catholic devotions ought to be ordered towards the Sacred Liturgy and flow from it. I fail to see how devotion to the Sacred Heart or the Rosary comes from the Sacred Liturgy, but again I may be mistaken.

Now obedience...this is the flash point, I think; and perhaps my personal understanding of obedience is slightly different from others'. Today, in the usus antiquior, that is, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite as defined, and authorized, by Summorum Pontificum, is a ''fourth class'' feria of St Mary in Sabbato. In the Old Rite, however, it is the anticipated Vigil of All Saints, abolished by Pius XII. Now, to what extent are we, as Catholics, to obey the Roman Pontiff when he says that there are two ''forms'' of the Roman Rite, the one (the common one, the one which Trads look down their noses at) as contained in the liturgical books promulgated by Paul VI and published again under John Paul II in 2002; the other, the uncommon one, as contained in the liturgical books of 1962. Now if my understanding is correct, deviation from these two designated forms of the Roman Rite would be disobedience. So why are there certain Catholics out there who take Summorum Pontificum as the yardstick of liturgical orthodoxy in the last 40 years and yet don't really take much notice of it themselves? My point is simply this: to deviate, in even the slightest point, from the liturgical books of 1962, and yet claim to be fulfilling the precepts of Summorum Pontificum, is simply hypocrisy and falsehood. I perceive Summorum Pontificum as part of the problem of modern Catholicism, and evidence enough that Pope Benedict XVI knows nothing whatsoever about Liturgy. Now I have no real problem with disobedience in this matter (as in other matters pertaining to the modern departure from Tradition at magisterial level in the Church) - I think that sell-outs to '62ism (like the SSPX, the Latin Mass Society and the rest of Una Voce) are the worst enemies of Tradition. But please, if you want me to take you seriously, don't hide behind Summorum Pontificum as justification for celebrating the Divine Office, the Mass and the Sacraments according to the Old Roman Rite - and think yourself superior to the avant-garde liberals who are being just as disobedient. Have the Old Roman Rite by all means - and good luck to you if you do, but don't justify it by Summorum Pontificum; if you do, and you continue to consider yourself superior to the Modernists who are equally disobedient, I might just grass you up to certain people (I don't know, the Archbishop, the Papal Nuncio, Ecclesia Dei...) who might impose the actual precepts of Summorum Pontificum...

Methinks that cafeteria Catholicism is just as much a part of Tradworld as it is in other parts of the Church.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Memory, Tradition and Anamnesis...

The above painting is by J.R.R Tolkien and depicts Lothlórien in the Spring. Laurelindórenan, the Land of the Valley of Singing Gold, Lórien of the Blossom, the Dreamflower - it's one of those places where I always wanted to live. The significance of this image will be discerned as you read the rest of this post. I believe I have established another link, yea an important one, between Tolkien's legendarium and the Sacred Liturgy.

Memory, understood as something wholly poignant, and a concept quite different to the Eldar as it is to Men (since, as Gimli said, to the Elves it is more like unto waking life) is one of the central themes in Tolkien; often it manifests as the memory of fair things lost indefinitely, and is therefore a grief, and since he writes chiefly of the Elves, it is a constant motif. Memory ties in significantly with Tolkien's ideas about the second ''fall'' (or error) of the Exiled Elves, the Gnomes of Beleriand. At the end of the First Age, the Eldar of Beleriand were counselled by Eönwë to return into the West to receive the pardon (or in some cases, the judgement) of the Valar. Many hearkened to the summons and left the grey shores of the Hither Lands, but some, and many of the greatest and noblest of the Eldar, (eg: Galadriel and Elrond) decided to remain in Middle-earth, and these went eastwards into Eriador where they founded kingdoms - Eregion, nigh to the great Dwarrowdelf of the Dwarves, and at Lindon, where there were still havens. In Eregion, the Elves struck up a friendship with the Dwarves of the Misty Mountains, such as there had never been before, to the profit of both their realms.

On a time, there appeared in Eregion a certain sage of wise and fair countenance, calling himself Annatar, Lord of Gifts, and he posed as an emissary of the Valar, sent to heal the desolate lands. He became the friend and counsellor of Celebrimbor, son of Curufin, the greatest craftsman of his age, and Celebrimbor respected Annatar, for his knowledge and subtlety were great, and together with his small band of followers, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain (The People of the Jewel-Smiths), under the tutelage of Annatar, they wrought the Rings of Power. ''Annatar'' was, of course, Sauron the Deceiver.

The chief power of the Great Rings was not, as the film trilogy makes out, for the purposes of government - it was, in fact, the prevention or slowing of decay, or change viewed as something unfortunate but inevitable, the preservation of beautiful things, things beloved or desired, or at least the semblance of all these things. The most potent of these things were the Three, unbeknown to Sauron, and these Three were never touched by him. But Sauron wrought in secret the One Ring in Orodruin, and with this Ring he could see the thoughts and govern the actions of those who wore the lesser Rings (even the Three), and would eventually utterly enslave them. But when Sauron assumed the One Ring, and spoke the famous leit-motif ''One Ring to rule them all,'' etc, the Elves were immediately aware of him, and in wrath and great fear they removed the Rings, and hid them. Sauron then made war on the Elves, Eregion was destroyed, and the West-doors of Moria were shut. He seized the Great Rings (all except the Three, which were hidden) and gave them to those who would accept them, for reasons of greed or ambition.

As I have said, the Elves desired only the memory of ancient bliss to be made a reality in Middle-earth - which is, I suppose, where the source of their error lay. They wanted the perfection of the West, but in Middle-earth, where they were comfortably above the other uncouth inhabitants (the wild Men and the Dwarves - the Men of Númenor came seldom to Middle-earth in those days). Therefore, the Elves became obsessed with ''fading'', and they were sad. Their art, therefore, became also sad. When Sauron posed as Annatar, he feigned sympathy with this ideal, for it suited his purposes, and therein he sought to twist it, and proposed to them that with his aid, they might endeavour to make Middle-earth a separate paradise, against the Valar. Sure enough, when Sauron was vanquished at the end of the Second Age, his control over the Great Rings was lost, and the Three (while never openly declared) were released, free to act according to their initial design.

Interestingly, there are two important aspects of the ''memory'' of the Eldar depicted in The Lord of the Rings. The one is in the House of Elrond (or perhaps even in the person of Elrond Halfelven himself), a place where Tradition (songs, tales, customs, ancestral ritual) is preserved in reverent memory. The House of Elrond is a place of reflection, a veritable mirror or seeing-glass into the history of Arda. The other place is Lothlórien, where the history of Arda seemed to be alive and not just seen as a remote picture in the mind, just as real as the trees and grass. The Hobbits, Frodo and Sam, stood in wonder at it:

''The others cast themselves down upon the fragrant grass, but Frodo stood awhile still lost in wonder. It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no colour but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful. In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien there was no stain.'' (The Lord of the Rings, Book II, Chapter VI, Lothlórien).

When Sam described his own sentiments, that it was like ''being inside a song'' as it were, Haldir knew immediately what he meant. Sam discerned, of course, the power of Nenya, the Ring of Adamant (one of the Three), which preserved the land of Lothlórien against the menace of Dol Guldur. All outside was dark. But, all the beauty and the memory of good depended upon the Quest of Mount Doom. Galadriel told Frodo that he was not responsible for the fate of Lothlórien, but only for the completion of his task (which encompassed the fate of all realms where the memory of good things was kept in reverence, such as in Gondor (although in the case of Gondor, things are more complex, and arguably, as Faramir says, they had less lore and had become more like the Men of Rohan)). But, since the beauty of Lothlórien was preserved with the power of Nenya, what would happen to that beauty if the One Ring were in fact destroyed? Some had argued at the Council of Elrond that the Three would be eternally released, and that the Elves would be free to heal the hurts of the world, and to preserve in a vivid tradition the memory of ancient days. But, as Elrond himself believed, wise in all lore, the other proved the more likely - and indeed befell. The One Ring was indeed destroyed, but the powers of the Three were not enhanced or set free, but were made impotent. ''For our spring,'' said Galadriel, ''and our summer are gone by, and they will never be seen on earth again save in memory.''

I suppose this is one reason I find Tolkien's work so beautiful and so resonant. I believe it was Cardinal Ratzinger who said that Tradition is the ''memory of the Church.'' Indeed, and I could not put it better myself. The Tradition of the Church is made present, and alive, in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy - and all the more meaningful in the chanting of the Scriptures, the lessons of the Fathers and the great Anamnesis of the Mass. Christ's ordinance This do for the commemoration of me makes the Blessed Sacrament present upon the Altar, not because the priest utters ''magic words'' of institution (a Traditionalist error which seeks to render the Sacred Liturgy bare of all save sacramental validity) but because it is the waking memory of Christ made present by the Church, who remembers through the faithful ministry of the Liturgy. The Apostles remembered the Risen Christ at Emmaus when He broke bread with them. It is the Sacred Liturgy which is the great connexion, a veritable catena aurea, linking us to the Fathers and thence to Christ on the Cross. What happens, therefore, when this Tradition is interrupted by tampering at magisterial level, when the Memory of the Church is supplanted by something foreign? The Pacelli propers for the Feast of the Assumption (akin, in my view, to what he did to Holy Week) come to mind. How can the People of God remember the mystery of St Mary's Assumption properly when the Church has so distanced herself from the ancestral Liturgy for this Feast? Whether this is legitimate authority or no (as you know I would say that this is misuse of supposed authority), it can only serve to render the memory of the Church void or irrelevant. What is the point of Tradition, of Memory, when you can have the Vicar of Christ make it up in the name of doctrinal clarity? If Tradition is understood as the waking memory of the Church (in the Tolkienian sense), and the Roman Church is in a state of de facto schism with her own Tradition, one could well ask: Man is nothing without his memory, what therefore is the modern Roman Church?

I shall conclude this odd post with a beautiful, but sadly seldom read, passage in Tolkien, from Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, the Death-bed of Aragorn; and so we might endeavour to reckon the present life of Men:

''Now, therefore, I will sleep.'' said Aragorn. ''I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world. The uttermost choice is before you: to repent and go to the Havens and bear away into the West the memory of our days together that shall there be evergreen but never more than memory; or else to abide the Doom of Men.''

''Nay, dear lord,'' said Arwen, ''that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Númenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One [God] to Men, it is bitter to receive.''

''So it seems,'' he said. ''But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!''

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Diaconal Ordination...

I am sorry to say that, due to unforeseen circumstances, I shall miss the diaconal ordination on Sunday of an old friend from Heythrop, Allan Jones, one of the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception. We studied Latin and Church History together and I am confident that I have never met a more warm, witty and intelligent man in my life, a most worthy and religious man. May he receive all the spiritual and temporal blessings in the Lord on the day of his ordination. Do keep him in your prayers.

All of Creation Rejoices...

I encourage readers to a visit All of Creation Rejoices, the blog of an Orthodox reader of this blog (and a friend of a friend, whom I hope to meet soon, perhaps at St Magnus the Martyr) called Michael. He put me to shame on Facebook this afternoon (after I had taken my well-deserved afternoon nap) with his liturgical erudition. I have thought for a while that this blog is a forum for erudite readers to comment on questions I ask in ignorance, and he proved me right in that respect!

Do visit the blog - it is now in my blogroll (I shall prune this soon enough).

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Kneeling on Sunday...

''Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord's Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be rendered unto God standing.'' (Canon XX of the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, A.D 325).

''We consider it forbidden to pray on bended knees on the Lord's Day.'' (Tertullian, 210).

''There are many other observances in the Church which, though due to Tradition, have acquired the authority of the written Law, as, for instance, the practice of not praying on bended knees on Sunday.'' (St Jerome, 330).

Kneeling on Sundays is hardly new in the West but it's still an aberration. Is this another example of ''development''? Like the Sign of the Cross? In which case one would fain ask what are the use of such ''developments'', and why are they called that? Did St Jerome, among the great Fathers of the Western Church, understand the Lord's Day less than an elderly Catholic woman of the 1930s who knelt in her pew counting beads? I don't think this is exactly the case here, but one in which, like the Sign of the Cross, there has been a gradual loss of tradition, only to be slowly recognised, and codified, by Rome. Like the modern Romish understanding of Canon Law, of course, the most recent ruling is the more authoritative rather than an ancient rule, which has stood the test of time, and will be observed, long after the Catholic Church has crumbled, in the churches of schismatics. It is now a kind of shibboleth. A friend of mine of long standing went to the London Oratory once for their DIY Novus Ordo liturgy (with pretend Subdeacon and everything) and stood (for health reasons) for the Canon Romanus, only to be berated afterwards by an irate Trad who accused him of Modernism. Since kneeling on Sunday is the innovation who, therefore, is the real modernist?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A seeing stone...

'''Easy it is now to guess how quickly the roving eye of Saruman was trapped and held; and how ever since he has been persuaded from afar, and daunted when persuasion would not serve. The biter bit, the hawk under the eagle's foot, the spider caught in a steel web! How long, I wonder, has he been constrained to come often to his glass for inspection and instruction, and the Orthanc-stone so bent towards Barad-dûr that, if any save a will of adamant now looks into it, it will bear his mind and sight swiftly thither? And how it draws one to itself! Have I not felt it? Even now my heart desires to test my will upon it - to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Fëanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!' He sighed and fell silent.'' (The Lord of the Rings, Book III, Chapter XI).

We could all use one couldn't we?

Monday, 25 October 2010

What is it with Catholics?

This Altar arrangement is ridiculous, yet, lamentably, Catholics of a rather misinformed liturgical disposition would admire this as representing a long-lost Tradition, cruelly done away with by the Second Vatican Council. Baroque liturgy (or whatever period this hideous monstrosity hails from) is not the liturgical ideal.

Much more impressive, and historically accurate. But one would ask, aptly, why does it take High Church Anglicans to get it right when the Roman Church gets it wrong? I don't mean to utter blasphemy here but if I were God I would sooner send down the Holy Ghost upon the Altar of the schismatic Anglicans who are doing their best to get Liturgy right than the stupid altar of a lot of ignorant Ultramontane types who seek only to make a farce of Liturgy. Why is it more important whom you're in communion with than what you do, and believe? If I have ''gone off'' the Papacy maybe it's because of 450 years of wanton tampering. Which means that I would rather attend Liturgy with High Church Anglicans than Roman Catholics who get it spectacularly wrong, and not just for aesthetic reasons, or because it is more to my personal ''taste.'' Either you get Liturgy right - in its entirety - or you get it wrong.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Be not deceived...

On this subject We judge it Our duty to rectify an attitude with which you are doubtless familiar, Venerable Brethren. We refer to the error and fallacious reasoning of those who have claimed that the sacred liturgy is a kind of proving ground for the truths to be held of faith, meaning by this that the Church is obliged to declare such a doctrine sound when it is found to have produced fruits of piety and sanctity through the sacred rites of the liturgy, and to reject it otherwise. Hence the epigram, "Lex orandi, lex credendi" - the law for prayer is the law for faith.

But this is not what the Church teaches and enjoins. The worship she offers to God, all good and great, is a continuous profession of Catholic faith and a continuous exercise of hope and charity, as Augustine puts it tersely. "God is to be worshipped," he says, "by faith, hope and charity." In the sacred liturgy we profess the Catholic faith explicitly and openly, not only by the celebration of the mysteries, and by offering the holy sacrifice and administering the sacraments, but also by saying or singing the credo or Symbol of the faith - it is indeed the sign and badge, as it were, of the Christian - along with other texts, and likewise by the reading of holy scripture, written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The entire liturgy, therefore, has the Catholic faith for its content, inasmuch as it bears public witness to the faith of the Church.

For this reason, whenever there was question of defining a truth revealed by God, the Sovereign Pontiff and the Councils in their recourse to the "theological sources," as they are called, have not seldom drawn many an argument from this sacred science of the liturgy. For an example in point, Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, so argued when he proclaimed the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Similarly during the discussion of a doubtful or controversial truth, the Church and the Holy Fathers have not failed to look to the age-old and age-honored sacred rites for enlightenment. Hence the well-known and venerable maxim, "Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi" - let the rule for prayer determine the rule of belief. The sacred liturgy, consequently, does not decide or determine independently and of itself what is of Catholic faith. More properly, since the liturgy is also a profession of eternal truths, and subject, as such, to the supreme teaching authority of the Church, it can supply proofs and testimony, quite clearly, of no little value, towards the determination of a particular point of Christian doctrine. But if one desires to differentiate and describe the relationship between faith and the sacred liturgy in absolute and general terms, it is perfectly correct to say, "Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi" - let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Crist of Cynewulf...

I encourage readers of this blog to read the poem Crist by the Saxon poet Cynewulf, the successor of Caedmon. These words stirred in my hero J.R.R Tolkien something unfathomable and profound, and inspired him to compose (sick with Trench fever (when I first wrote ''trench'' I spelt ''Trent''; a Freudian slip there?) in hospital in 1916) the earliest of the Lost Tales, the Voyage of Earendel, which forms the foundation stone for the legendarium. Even if you care not for Tolkien overmuch, how can you not be moved by this poem? It reminds me of O Oriens, one of the Great Antiphons:

Éalá Éarendel engla beorhtast ofer middangeard monnum sended; ond sóðfæsta sunnan léoma torht ofer tunglas þú tída gehwane of sylfum þé symle inlíhtes!

Hail Earendel, brightest of angels, above the middle-earth sent unto men, and true radiance of the sun, bright above the stars - thou of thy very self illuminest for every season!

One thing has struck me about Medieval authors, which hitherto I had only half-heeded: these men must have been profoundly steeped in the Sacred Liturgy and in the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers (and the Sacred Liturgy being the proper context of these traditions of the Church) - much more so than many modern Catholics (with one or two exceptions). Crist by Cynewulf is such a work. Cynewulf writes as if he breathes an air of undiluted holiness, as it were, and his poem Crist is steeped in a catholic exuberance scarce to be found in other works. Crist of Cynewulf is, moreover, a link between Tolkien and the Sacred Liturgy. Earendel (which can be interpreted ''radiance of the dawn'') is in deference to St John the Baptist, the herald of Christ's coming. Tolkien became enamoured of this name, a name which encompasses many aspects and facets of Old Testament symbolism about the advent of Our Lord, even as the first dawn to illumine the cold lands of Men. In The Silmarillion, Eärendil the Mariner, the Flammifer of Westernesse, with the holy jewel upon his brow, penetrated the shadows of the wild seas about the Blessed Realm and besought the Valar as the herald of Elves and Men to move them to pity upon their sorrows and travail; and thus was the kingdom of the Dark Lord brought to ruin. How poignant and marvellous a connexion between the Prophet and the Mariner, between Liturgy and literature.

I never cease to be amazed at the genius of this great man. C.S Lewis was a dejected weakling by comparison - a genius (but sadly also a heretic - you only have to read his most horrible work Letters to Malcolm to forever dash the idea that he was an Anglican in sympathy with the Roman Church, a work barbed with side-swipes at the faith) who wasted his time with relativistic apologetics but achieved no real magnum opus. ''Narnia'' and all that is outside the range of my sympathy, I'm afraid. Tolkien's legendarium is, like Cynewulf, steeped in catholic exuberance. This exuberance manifests itself in many ways, such as the preservation of inherited ritual down through the generations (such as the Standing Silence before meat done by the Men of Gondor, which made Frodo feel rustic and untutored), the reverent memory and reverence for noble history and regal ancestry - preserved in books of lore and custom in the House of Elrond, but living still in the land of Lórien - where ''waking memory'' reminds me of the Anamnesis of the Sacred Liturgy, making present the Tradition of the Church both by being faithful to Tradition and by following Christ's ordinances. Tolkien was one of the proto-Traditionalists of the 1960s, like Evelyn Waugh. In the light of his work it is not surprising that Tolkien decried the impetuous mutilation of the Sacred Liturgy done under the auspices of the Popes. The New Rite, for Tolkien, was heart-breakingly that - new.

Well I guess I've long ceased to make sense so I'll cut short here. Do read Crist by Cynewulf.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The ''good'' old days...

My uncle turned 60 yesterday, so many happy returns to him. He is of the ''spirit of Vatican II'' generation, and goes to Mass (sadly in the evening) every Sunday, goes to Communion, then goes home again, and doesn't really bother much about the ins and outs of Church politics, ''behind the scenes'' stuff or anything (nor does he go to Confession). He is not involved in his parish church in any way. I met him at Hyde Park a few weeks ago, and he introduced me to the lovely men from Argentina.

I spoke to him about Liturgy a few months ago, and asked him what Mass was like in the '50s and '60s. He said that it was terrible, as indeed it was, but of course his personal reason for thinking it terrible is quite different from my own. He said that the priest had his back to the congregation and mumbled from a book (in all fairness this is true at Low Mass) in Latin, and that ''for all we knew he could have been doing a crossword.'' This is another aspect of recent Church history where I differ from certain people. The enormous reaction against this appalling Liturgy (which by 1960 was in a pathetic state) in the '60s was inevitable. If the Roman Church had cultivated its liturgical tradition instead of dogma and devotions then perhaps the present state of the Sacred Liturgy would be a lot better. As you can see my uncle knew little to nothing about Liturgy as a boy, and still knows nothing. Perhaps this is clumsily put - perhaps men of my uncle's generation know little about the Faith because they could not, and cannot, discern the Faith from the Liturgy - precisely because the Liturgy provided them by the Church was exhausted and sterile, as a result of tampering at magisterial level and long neglect. More ''informed'' Catholics (the neo-Conservative kind) are hardly better. The premise of their orthodoxy is ''the Pope says'' rather than ''I am fortified in this belief by the Sacred Liturgy.'' It would not surprise me if these Ultramontane Catholics would go along with the Pope if a future pope declared Christ's Divinity (but not his own as God's oracle) to be superfluous to the Gospel.

It seems to me that orthodoxy for the wrong reasons (like Munificentissimus Deus) is fraught with so much danger. It rather reminds me of the Forms in Plato's cave.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Bellum, bellum, bellum... of my favourite declensions; I do miss the ''chanting'' in old Latin classes.

It was hard not to hear the news about Malcolm Ranjith. Traditionalists speak favourably of him, and I'm sure he's a decent man, but the news has been greeted with the sense of a victory won, as if Tradworld had captured enemy territory or something, and enslaved the liberals. I must say that to ordinary simple Catholics like me this war going on between the Trads/Neo-conservatives and the Liberals is hard to fathom. What's it all for? Doctrinal orthodoxy? The amount of lace on one's polyester Romish cotta? I must say I find it incredibly rich the way Trads look down their noses on polyester cassock-albs, the liturgical attire of the liberal party, when a polyester lace cotta is hardly better. Let's see now, the agenda of both parties in this conflict seems to be the annihilation of the other. Which side is better though? The liberals seem to propound doctrinal relativism, liturgical...well nothing really liturgical (having a celebration of the Eucharist (how they shy away from the term Mass, or even sometimes liturgy) around a table with tea lights and whale music is hardly inspiring) and a sort of DIY Catholicism where it doesn't really matter what you do, so long as you're ''open-minded'' and are nice to people. Trads propound Catholicism of the 19th and 20th century, anything before Vatican II, the whole lot of it (triumphalism and hauteur not excluded of course)...Ultramontanism, Lourdes, Rosaries, a distinct want of Liturgy comparable to the liberals (why have a High Mass for the Vigil of Pentecost, for example, when you can have a Low Votive Mass of Our Lady of Fatima instead?), and a lot of sell outs to '62ism. Which side is better? If there is a liberal Pope I can't wait til he makes Summorum Pontificum void - what will all the Trads do then, and their so-called ''obedience''? Of course if he comes out with something at variance with the standard of Trad orthodoxy no doubt all the explaining away will start (differences between the ''ordinary'' and ''extraordinary'' magisterium and what not), and the Trads will just wait for a change of days, change of pope so that they can curse his name (like Paul VI). I think he should declare Anglican Orders to be valid too - I mean if Pius X can say that women can't sing in church choirs one year and then 60 years on Pius XII says that they can, what's the difference? To which authority does one render obeisance in the Roman Church? The answer, of course, is the most recent one - how very at odds with my own understanding of authority.

If there is another Trad pope things will hardly be better, in fact they could be worse. Who wants another Pius XII, or a Barberini to put popish spanners into the liturgical work? Who would want centralized bureaucracy, which the Vatican misnames ''apostolic'' or ''holy''? If there could possibly be a use for all this Papal authority I would that the Pope imposed the Old Rite on the Universal Church on pain of latae sententiae excommunication for any objection. Of course by doing so I would be going against everything I say on this blog, and it would not be secure anyway. I mean Quo Primum lasted a mere 34 years before another revision was made to the Roman Missal, and who is to stop the next despot Pope, bent on the destruction of Tradition, from making that void again? To paraphrase George Orwell: ''if you want a picture of the future imagine the Papal slippers stamping on Liturgy forever.''

As for ''the red hat'' business, I wish Ranjith well but I'd personally go back to the days when bishops were elected by Christ's faithful in the diocese and were not appointed by the Pope - I doubt we'd have as many inept ones then.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Questions about Romishness...

Since the Council of Trent the Roman Liturgy has been under the thumb of the Popes - one man among many men, and coming after a venerable tradition - whether he be Vicar of Christ or no. Reform (or ''renewal'', ''organic development'' or whatever) of the Roman Liturgy since then has been questionable at best, deplorable at worst. Questionable - Leo XIII's votive offices. I don't like the idea of a ''Votive Mass'', and I never have. I don't like the idea that anyone can simply interrupt the Kalendar, which is the Church's ''living memory'' (in the Tolkienian sense of Elvish memory, where memory is more like to waking life) of the mysteries both of the Redemption (the Temporale) and the Incarnation (the Sanctorale), even for a grave cause, at their whim. I don't think many people fully appreciate the fundamental importance of the Kalendar - it is the cycle of the liturgical year which gives the Sacred Liturgy meaning beyond ritual. Mass without the Season would be rather pointless in my view. And so Leo XIII's authorisation for secular clergy with many calls to answer to simply supplant the lengthy ferial office with a votive office of their choosing (unless I am quite mistaken) was a mistake, and potentially a grave one, but there are worse evils.

Deplorable - just about everything Pius XII did. I don't have the time or inclination to go through absolutely every abuse that Romish Man of Sin (now in Hell) did to the Tradition of the Church (post-'56 Holy Week and Signum Magnum are among the worst crimes of the Church), but the point of this post is simply to ask an honest, genuine (no barbs attached) question: Why do Traditionalist Catholics blame the Second Vatican Council for the pathetic state of the Roman Liturgy when the problem goes much further back? It is the Papacy that is the sole cause of the problem, not the ''spirit of Vatican II''; it is the Papacy, not subordinates in the Vatican (liturgical periti - poor old Bugnini), which is to blame for Signum Magnum. Take Urban VIII's pseudo-Classical hymnody - hundreds of years before Bugnini was born (and ironically those hymns were only put right because of the Second Vatican Council!); how is this abuse in any way related to Modernist tendencies in liturgical theology in the 1960s? It isn't - and there is such a thing as a liturgical abuse not related to Modernism (Low Mass is such an abuse), because Liturgy can be abused in many ways; although it seems that many people do not (or cannot, being the prisoners of their own vanity, blind obedience and ignorance) connect cause to effect.

Of course Pius XII is now the ''venerable'' Pius XII...put a monstrous Pope on the path to canonization and you make him above reproach (like Pius X, the hero of Tradworld), at least to the sort of riff-raff who come out with such nonsense as Roma locuta est, causa est finita, let the wisdom of Rome look to it etc (I personally have never mistaken centralized bureaucracy for the will of God just because the Vatican assigns some stupid title to the process, such as ''the apostolic,'' or ''the most holy.'' But I have no qualms!

People who might froth at the mouth at the very thought of a pope being in Hell might like to read Canto XIX of the Inferno. Dante, a supreme poet, was very candid about Boniface VIII among other popes...

Of course such honest questions as these go unanswered, and the people who ask are poor heretics for asking.

Give an inch...

...and they take a mile, as the saying goes.

I have now, after much waiting and hassle, rearranged my hours at work, for the better. I am now in charge of the Newspapers and Magazines and do a basic 29 hour working week, Monday-Friday; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 6:00am-11:00am, Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00am-1:00pm. However, there is a horrible catch. In order the get the job I had to look willing, and was confessedly a bit sycophantic (I hate sycophants - particularly the sort of suck up who fawns over ''important'' people but treats us mere mortals with disdain), so I offered to cover my old shifts on top of my 29 hour basic working week. Now all my old shifts are evening-based, so I have been doing ten and a half hour shifts, back to back, all week (last night I finished at 11:00am, went home to twiddle my thumbs then went back at 4:00pm and finished at 9:45pm, only to be back again at 6:00am this morning) and I am exhausted. This is why blogging has been poor lately. Hopefully when things sort themselves out (I won't be holding my breath) this will change.

I'm worried about University...The only good thing about this near-50 hour week I shall have done by Friday is that come payday I won't be so hard up.

On a more pleasant liturgical note, Gregory DiPippo of The New Liturgical Movement blog has resumed his compendious history of the Roman Breviary 1568-1961. I encourage readers of this blog to read that excellent series (I did have them all in my Favourites but they have gone missing for some obscure reason). Part 8.1 (on the Psalter) can be read here.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sancti Eduardi Confessoris...

A very happy feast day to you all! Today is the feast of St Edward the Confessor (A.D 1003-1066), a patron of this blog and a saint for whom I have a special devotion. Edward was the last (save one, the traitor Harold Godwinson) Saxon king of England, and his death in 1066 precipitated the crisis which led to the Norman Conquest. A generous, lordly man, renowned for his personal holiness and humility, I think he was one of the better kings of this Isle, reverend and wise - whatever the historians might say about his alleged weakness. How better could he exact his revenge upon the Eorl Godwin than by his unconsummated marriage to Edith of Wessex and by promising the succession to William, Duke of Normandy, kinsman of the king (at least so the Norman chroniclers allege - I am inclined to believe them, especially given the fact that Edward's Saxon thegns were largely under the thumb of the scheming Godwins)?

The cult of St Edward arose rapidly, and he was seen throughout the Middle Ages as the archetypal king (the Patron Saint not only of the Plantagenets, but of the nation - only to be supplanted later by the foreigner St George). In 1160 Henry II finally secured his canonization, and on 13th October 1163 the relics were solemnly translated. I encourage readers to go to Westminster Abbey sometime during Edwardtide. I shall make the effort to go on Saturday to venerate his shrine.

In the name of the Holy Trinity, I promise three things to the Christian people, my subjects:
First, that God's Church and all Christian people within my dominions shall experience true peace.
Second, that I forbid robbery and all crime to every class of people.
Third, I promise and order laws based on justice and mercy, that the gracious and merciful God may forgive us all our sins.
The duty of a Christian king is to judge no one corruptly, to defend widows, orphans and strangers, and to abolish immoral marriages. He must drive out those who practice magic, and who murder their kin, or commit perjury. He must feed the needy, and have old and experienced men for his counsellors, appointing honest servants. He will be answerable on the Day of Judgement for the crimes of his servants done in his name. (St Edward's Coronation Oath).

Do the Orthodox universally recognise St Edward as a saint? I realise that he died after the ''Great Schism'' but is not 1054 a rather meaningless date? Certainly the estrangement between the two Churches did not suddenly come to boiling point in the middle of the 11th century.

St Edward the Confessor, pray for us.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The ''spirit'' of Vatican II...

''I can't work you out,'' quoth a reader.

I'm not surprised. Unless I am quite mistaken there seems to be only one kind of Catholic blogger: the ''traditionalist'' or ''neo-conservative'' kind, all parroting the same lines - how the Tablet subverts Catholic doctrine, complaining about anti-Life legislation, misnaming the Old Rite the ''extraordinary form'' and ''usus antiquior'', not discussing Liturgy enough, Pope Benedict XVI is the greatest man who ever lived etc. Liturgy is far more important than the Tablet, which can say whatever the hell it likes as far as I'm concerned (I don't even read it - but then I don't read any newspapers or magazines). If people believe half the tripe it contains then that's their problem. Although I must say that I marvel at churches who won't sell The Tablet but would gladly advertise for the Latin Mass Society...

Trad bloggers blanch at the so-called ''spirit of Vatican II''...are they that high and mighty? Were I born in 1948 rather than 1988 I think I'd have been caught up in the said euphoria, gladly shaking off the decay and decadence of 19th and 20th century Catholicism (in fact all the ''isms'' of 19th and 20th century Catholicism have been healthy reactions against some pernicious trend in the Church - liberalism and modernism were reactions against the infallibism of Pio Nono, for example). This is not to say that I approve much of what came after but I warmly welcome many of the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. Lumen Gentium attempted to correct (or supplement) a one-sided, and certainly imbalanced, ecclesiology expounded by Pastor Aeternus - a more holistic (but still incomplete - in my humble opinion) hermeneutic of Church governance and the foundation of the Christian life. Unitatis Redintegratio rendered obsolete the Church's previous hauteur and separatism in relation to the Ecumenical Movement. Paul VI's motu proprio Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem restored the permanent Diaconate to the Latin Church; undoubtedly a liturgically orthodox move (although how disappointing that less than 10 years later he would abolish the Minor Orders and Subdiaconate). The Diaconate is just as important as the Priesthood - so important in fact that I think every parish should have one.

I used to hate Vatican II, seeing in its documents the very end of Catholicism. In reality the only people who hate it are bigoted Traditionalists. Now I am not so averse to the ''spirit of Vatican II'' as some people might think. Although to me the litmus test of one's orthodoxy is one's disposition to the Old Rite. If you hate the Old Rite, you are a heretic. If you like '62, you're a heretic - even a damnable heretic. Locutus est Patricius.

Sunday, 10 October 2010


Is there anyone more full of shite than a Sedevacantist? See this site for a good laugh. According to them Pius XII was the last ''true'' Pope and they celebrate the Tridentine Rite, and that if you do not adopt the sedevacantist position (like so many in the SSPX, with whom I desire no communion - ever) you don't really care much for Tradition. The dead give away of their manifest heresy is this line (no doubt inspired by Mediator Dei): ''What we believe, so we pray.'' Their priests even swear Pius X's Oath against Modernity!

Boob. As far as ''true'' Popes go Pius XII was the absolute worst in the history of the Papacy (even worse than John XII, who funded his far too numerous mistresses at the Lateran by the sale of episcopal consecrations). A thousand anathemas upon that awful, heretical, man. And now the ''Tridentine Rite''...To my knowledge the so-called ''Tridentine Rite'' has not been celebrated since 1604 when Clement VIII introduced his new reformed Missal (and I think that the ''ethos'' of the Tridentine Rite died a death when Gregory XIII imposed the Gregorian Kalendar on the Universal Church in 1582). No doubt these ignorant extremists celebrate the '62 Rite merrily, woefully ignorant (or wilfully so) of the fact that the '62 Rite is as far removed from any holistic and authentic hermeneutic of Tradition as is the rest of their deplorable position. But it was before the Council so it's all ok; it's Vatican II which is the enemy of Tradition, not Pius XII! If the See of Peter is vacant then the Church of Christ is builded upon sand. But then some have even gone so far as to elect their own popes. Idiots.

According to their logic because I am not a Sedevacantist I can't possibly care much for Tradition. Well I hope they'll forgive me if my understanding and appreciation of Tradition goes back farther than the 1950s. Also I prefer communion of the Church to schism for its own sake. If the Church is the guardian of Tradition then methinks it is worthy to trust more to the Church than my own finite self in this matter (please do not misunderstand me here: when I poke at the Church for departing from Tradition it is usually individuals I have in mind - Pius XII and Pius X being prominent among them, who because of their exalted positions exerted vast and lasting influence).

See here for another Sedevacantist site, with a nice image of the Sacred Heart to welcome you. Under their Liturgy section no mention whatever is made of the Divine Office but they have no qualms about listing the Rosary (or including a Confiteor before Holy Communion during ''the Latin Mass''). If I would thank Vatican II for anything (and I welcome many of the changes instigated by that Council most Traditionalists blanch at) it would be the schism of these ignorant extremists.

Since Sedevacantists aren't remotely traditional, what are they? Are they merely ignorant or insincere?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Old Sarum...

The Sarum Use is one of those things I am fascinated by but know very little about. As a student at Heythrop I often flicked through a copy of the Sarum Missal in the Theology Library (I was particularly fascinated by a rubric in the Sarum Missal regarding the number of Collects - it said that there are never more than seven because Our Lord made no more than seven petitions in the Lord's Prayer) and found much of the text familiar, yet distinct and remote - I can best describe it by comparing it to Merry's experience of the tongue of the Rohirrim:

''But most of the time, especially on this last day, Merry had ridden by himself just behind the king, saying nothing, and trying to understand the slow sonorous speech of Rohan that he heard the men behind him using. It was a language in which there seemed to be many words that he knew, though spoken more richly and strongly than in the Shire, yet he could not piece the words together. At times some Rider would lift up his clear voice in stirring song, and Merry felt his heart leap, though he did not know what it was about.'' (The Lord of the Rings, Book V, Chapter III).

Of course the nuances are not solely limited to language but to custom and ceremonial. The previous post, which I have in fact deleted (I didn't like it) contained Alcuin Club pictures of a Sarum reconstruction at St Cyprian's church at Clarence Gate. Well I say ''Sarum reconstruction'', it was probably not so in fact but Book of Common Prayer liturgy with a few pre-Reformation liturgical precedents (going by what I have gleaned of High Anglicanism as opposed to Anglo-Catholicism) which looked like Sarum. I must say I find this more appealing liturgically than the rage some Anglo-Catholics have for everything Roman - the New Rite, the modern Roman lectionary artificially inserted into a decorous reconstruction of the Old Roman Rite (usually with a single Collect, Secret and Postcommunion prayer), the use of lace cottas, ugly Roman style vestments, the ''big six'', an Altar stuck up against the wall of the Apse with gradines etc. I really really cannot understand this mentality. Why follow contemporary Rome to the letter when Rome has departed from Tradition when you're perfectly all right as you are? Why do away with the traditional surplice and replace it with a silly (and effeminate) looking lace cotta just because this is the Roman custom? Rome is by no means the liturgical sun of Christendom. Who was it that said that not everything Roman is Catholic again? Well it was a Pope of old Rome (St Gregory the Great, one of the finest) who said that things are not to be loved for the sake of a place but places are to be loved for the sake of their good things. Are lace cottas a good thing?

I think it behoves English Catholics to look more to the Medieval English liturgical patrimony than to the silly and untraditional customs of modernist Rome and the entire Counter Reformation period - a period marked by swift decline in the standard of liturgical celebration (it is noteworthy that Urban VIII's revision of the hymnody of the Roman Breviary most likely had private recitation in mind rather than the Office sung in choir - as it ought to be). Take the ''big six'' for example, and gradines; what are they for? What possible use is a gradine, and why are there six candles? In medieval churches there were no more than two candles on the mensa of the Altar (and very seldom a Crucifix) and any additional ones were placed behind, and not on, the Altar - like the arrangement in Salisbury Cathedral. The Islip roll, which includes an illustration of the High Altar of Westminster abbey c.1530, shows the altar entirely unadorned, with lights only on the loft above the altar screen and by the hanging pyx. The prescription of six candles (and a seventh for a bishop) is an entirely Counter Reformation rubric and has no tradition therefore in the English church - why, therefore, do English Catholics bother following this rule? Similarly the placement of the Tabernacle on the High Altar is a modern thing - whatever Michael Davies might have said about how ''important'' it is. It certainly wasn't important to St Bede, who had no Tabernacle (in his time the Sacrament was reserved not in the church itself but in the presbytery, and not seldom the houses of lay people), no Great Elevation at Mass and still managed to believe in the Real Presence. The Rood Loft dominated the medieval church and screened the Quire of the church off from the Nave, so the Rood should provide the crucifix of the church, not a brass one placed at the top of a gradine (and there is no use fussing about when the Altar is therefore ''unadorned'' by a crucifix). Of course there are no more Roods, no more Sarum, no nothing - just boring old Rome, Romish vestments, Romish cottas, Romish candles, Romish everything.

Medieval Liturgy ought to be the yardstick of liturgical orthodoxy and decorum. Baroque liturgy, such as you will find in the London Oratory, by comparison, is just decadent.

Bl John Henry Newman...

I look forward to a time (after the euphoria dies down) when Bl John Henry Newman is less popular than he is now. Whatever his personal piety and learning I prefer such English saints who herald from a time of less decadance and decay in the Roman Church as Sts Bede and Ethelwold of Winchester. By ''decadance and decay'' I mean, of course, in terms of Liturgy. How many Low Masses did Bl John Henry Newman celebrate I wonder, to the greater detriment of Liturgy?

Alas for the neglect of so many English saints.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Rosary High Mass...

High Mass last night went rather well. Mulier Fortis has some photos over at her blog.
I have suggested that for the festival in the year 2012 (it will fall on a Sunday then) that we do one better and have First Vespers, anticipated Mattins and Lauds on the Saturday and then High Mass on the Sunday. :-)

Thursday, 7 October 2010


On Wednesday 13th October it will be the Feast day of St Edward the Confessor, a very meaningful festival for this nation. I encourage readers to go to Westminster Abbey for Edwardtide (between 11th and 17th). Much as I'd like to I cannot make the Tuesday Evensong, which looks superb, for I shall be working, but I aim to get there on Saturday afternoon, if I can, to venerate the Shrine. See the Westminster Abbey website for details.


Of your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of my great uncle Edward (''Teddy'') who died yesterday afternoon. He was 79 years old. Significantly he was a man who prayed the Rosary a lot, so I shall be especially mindful of him during the solemn celebration of Liturgy later today.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

This Thursday...

As some of you may already know, I am the rather eccentric (''cracked'', like old Bilbo) parishioner and Server of Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen. Well it just so happens that this Thursday 7th October is the titular festival of the parish, as Romish a feast as ever one could hope for. To celebrate we're having a High Mass in the Old Roman Rite (not the so-called ''Extraordinary Form'' - since I shall be the Master of Ceremonies I shall safeguard the celebration of Mass from such things as the Celebrant and Deacon going to sit for the Epistle, the Subdeacon transferring the Missal to no purpose etc - arbitrary and pointless changes to the the Liturgy which make the '62 Rite, aka the ''extraordinary form'', so abominable) at 8:00pm. All are welcome. The Cantores Missae will sing Victoria's Ave Maris Stella with Credo I (I wanted Credo V, which I think is much nicer, and seldom heard, but was out-voted) and Fra Lawrence Lew shall preach. I'm looking forward to it!

Does not the above picture make you cringe? It is a strange and unwholesome tendency in modern Marian art to depict St Mary without her Son - from Whom she can never be sundered. St Mary points the way to Christ, whereas her appearance at Lourdes was all about her, strangely (unless I have missed the point - I would in all humility accept the kindly remonstrance from one who knows more). This is one reason I am suspicious of Lourdes - that, and the fact that the place is no older than 150 years a point of devotion. It behoves English Catholics to stop aping the styles and customs of foreign countries (lace cottas, everything Romish - we're not in Rome) and to cultivate a more English, yea Sarum, Catholicism - go to Walsingham instead of Lourdes, pray to St Bede rather than St Thérèse of Lisieux...

If you're coming to Blackfen for the first time (and gosh wouldn't you love to meet me!) directions can be found on the parish website.