Thursday, July 26, 2007

First Blood

This is Dennis. Dennis is a training bus. On Wednesday, I wrapped him round an iron bollard. Two nearside panels and a wheelarch, but I'm still in the job, Deo gratias. Today I passed the first part of my test (the theory part) and returned a 40 footer more-or-less intact.

Sincere thanks to visitors and old friends for good wishes - practical test in three weeks so please spare me a Pater and an Ave as you depart.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thus, it begins...

Ttony has been the recipient of some ugly rumours at the Muniment Room. I'm sure it'sthe tip of the iceberg, and that dastardly doings are being prepared in certain quarters.

Get your retaliation in first. Sign up to the Summorum Pontificum database now!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What did you do in the war, Daddy?

I DON’T DO MEMES as a rule, so please don’t take this as an invitation to tag me. I’m making an exception for my friend Ttony, because this one seemed for a variety of reasons to be asking the right questions at just the right time. I trust there are no blood-curdling penalties for breaking the chain.

1. How did you start blogging?
I don’t think blogging is what I do here, strictly speaking: hardly any of the posts are timely and only the most obvious ones relate to current events. I certainly don’t log my quotidien doings or thoughts, or respond to whatever rouses my interest from day to day. I prefer in addition to keep myself at a certain distance, because (a) I’m not a naturally gregarious man and (b) I don’t do interesting or unusual things (I start a new job on Monday, so that might very well change). Hermeneutic of Continuity or The Lion & the Cardinal are very different examples of real blogs, by busy men, engaged in exacting and challenging work. Anyway, I started because I found I could: I registered a blogger identity in order to comment on other blogs (I’d been commenting before I even realised that “blogs” is what they were). I used to hang out on a couple of forums, but got bored with the name-calling, cheerleading and party-lining.

2. What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful?
I wanted to do a “brain dump” on some of the things I’d been mentally refining and revising over the years, to the point at which I thought they might make a useful contribution. Debates on forums had to some extent helped me to develop them, without providing a suitable medium for bringing them together. In other words, I had a load of stuff lying around on my hard drive which, I flattered myself, might make interesting reading as stand-alone pieces. At least, I wanted to see if they’d stand up to a reading by people far better qualified to write on these matters than myself. I used the term “peer review” somewhere, but that’s pretentious and inaccurate. It wasn’t the assessment of my peers I was looking for, but of my betters – and of priests in particular. Was I successful? Well, I did the brain dump, most of it during November and December of last year, and the response was very gratifying from several points of view.

3. Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?
Yes, and it will probably change again, after 7.7.7. The war is over, and I’m not interested in arguing about the liturgy any more (other than at a purely practical or local level). Most of the “brain dump” stuff has, to my intense joy, become obsolete overnight. There’s no point in looking for different ways of saying the same things now. The unnatural posture of the lay Traditionalist liturgical autodidact can be relaxed now, though I suspect a limp and a number of reflexive spasms will persist, after a quarter century in the trenches. I’d love The Undercroft to be more like Glory to God for All Things – but then, I wish its author was more like Fr. Stephen Freeman. The Letters to a Fundamentalist Friend begun in March are probably an indication of where I’d like to take it, avoiding the trap of apologetics, which I have grown to loathe.

4. What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started?
That my hard drive and motherboard would die last week, taking down quite a lot of stored-up, unedited stuff. Oh, well…

5. Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why?
They know about it. Do they read it? No. Sometimes I drag my wife bodily to the screen and she finds something nice to say (usually about the pictures).

6. What advice would give to a new blogger?
Well, I’m still a fairly new blogger myself, but I suppose I’d say:

- make a bit of an effort with the composition. You don’t have to be Joseph Conrad, but if people are going to do you the honour of spending five minutes looking at your stuff, the least you can do is offer them something decently constructed, properly proofread, and easy on the eye. Arturo's a good example - even when he's lobbing a brick through your window, he does it with style. Don’t post for the sake of it, and don’t pad. If you’re blogging on religious matters consider your responsibilities before God and your downright unworthiness and incompetence to be holding forth about holy things. Be kind, constructive and don’t get personal or snide. Maintain your independence. Don’t tag me for memes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Our Feast of Orthodoxy: Thank You, Holy Father

"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."
Benedict XVI - Letter to the Bishops on Summorum Pontificum
THE CATHOLIC WORLD has a different landscape after 7.7.7; or rather, the contours of an ancient landscape are becoming once again discernible as decades of thick, disorientating smog and toxic fallout begin to disperse in the freshening breeze. In several pieces on this blog (the obsolescence of which becomes more gratifyingly evident to me by the minute), I have referred to the Second Council of Nicea (from which came the definitive resolution of the first Iconoclast crisis) - in particular, the famous fourth anathema on "anyone (who) rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the Church". This anathema, I have contended, has been quietly overturned in recent decades, and especially since the Council, in favour of a kind of magisterial positivism, without most Catholics noticing or caring.

We breathe the sterile air of iconoclasm today, I have argued, and have grown lightheaded on it. We have been tempted to rationalise and intellectualise the Faith, falsifying our own nature and contradicting the Incarnation - a very much graver matter than any mere questions of taste, ethics, modernity or culture. We have dared to consider the most holy and Christ-bearing things as mere legal prescriptions.

As far as the ancient Liturgy of the Roman Rite is concerned, this argument is now over. Its rights and privileges are permanently recognised and restored, whether or not it becomes more widely adopted in the near future. My expectations of the motu proprio were not high, but I find instead that they've been exceeded on practically every point, beyond the hopes of twenty-five years as a convinced and committed participant in the Traditionalist movement. Last November, I wrote as follows:
If the liberation of the Mass is the essential condition of rebalancing the Church - the sine qua non - at another level it seems to me that some kind of major teaching document on Tradition and Magisterium is urgently required, on the basis that the only means of moving those who now appear to think that the Catholic Faith is whatever the present Pope/latest Council says it is (and who, in a sense, can blame them?) - is a Pope himself telling them otherwise.
The truly momentous aspect of Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter is the one most commentators will miss: it is the Holy Father's implicit re-statement of Nicea II - that the whole tradition of the Church retains its permanent value; that whatever has been held sacred in the past remains sacred today and can never be be abrogated, despised or abandoned without contradicting the nature of the Church herself, and of her Faith.

For my own part, all the energy and time devoted to defending and studying the Ancient Liturgy can at last be turned with great joy and serenity to living and praying it "in the Church and with the Church".

From a full heart, thank you, Holy Father.
"Anyone who believes that the liturgy of the Incarnation and sacred images are intimately and essentially linked to faith in Christ - and actually come forth from Him - anyone who finds it easier to imagine the total collapse of religion than its continuance in the absence of liturgy, can be quietly confident about the outcome of the present catastrophe. As the example of Byzantine iconoclasm shows us, a hundred years is a relatively short time to overcome this kind of sickness...

On the first Sunday of Lent the Orthodox Church celebrates the end of iconoclasm with the great Feast of the Reestablishment of Orthodoxy". So it is my dream that one day, when this altar and so many other high altars are reerected, we shall be able to give thanks as we celebrate the reestablishment of Latin Orthodoxy."
Martin Mosebach - The Heresy of Formlessness, p.92

Friday, July 06, 2007

Et cum fratribus nostris absentibus

IT IS SAID that following the the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, the Empress Eugenie entered the Bonaparte chapel at Farnborough Abbey and read its terms aloud over the coffin of her husband, ruined after the defeat of Sedan. Tomorrow as glasses are raised and toasts drunk all over the Catholic world, I will go off to a quiet corner and remember those wonderful people I was privileged to know, who never lived to see restored what they had loved so much; who suffered, and bore their suffering with courage and cheerfulness, faith, hope and charity even when the hope of restoration seemed most dim.

David Read
Lillian Hayes
Joe Johnson
Anthony Allen
Tony Smith
Madeleine Primavesi
Michael Davies
Alice Thomas Ellis
Barbara Guest
Eric Dyson
Ted Marchant
Alban Russell
Julia Brophy

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sharper than the serpent's tooth

Conversation in the car, on the way back from Mass (me driving).

Five-year-old: You're going to hell Daddy, for being cross with me.
Three-year-old: Yes! You're going to hell, Daddy!
Elderly guest, in passenger seat: You can tell they're Traditional Catholics, your daughters.

Usquequo Domine?

Please, dear Lord, let not your servant depart, after all these years, without seeing Saturday 7th July.