Tuesday, 29 June 2010

St Peter to the rescue

One of my most potent worries is financial: the largest church in our parish, St Peter's was built in 1983; it is a cheap and shoddy replacement for a solid gothic building that has now been divided into flats. The architect seemingly had no understanding what the church was going to be used for, and the contractors seem to have cut every corner possible, so that now we are trying to prop up a dreadfully inferior building that we have no chance of replacing (unless one of you readers has no use for two or three million…… I didn't think so). So we must prop it up.

This coming weekend, I was bracing myself to ask the long-suffering people to dip into their pockets yet again to throw good money after bad in order to repair our building. Our people are really very generous at a time of financial hardship, and it went to my heart to have to ask, but our roof windows are leaking, and our floor is crumbling.

But after this morning's Mass, on the feast of our Patron, St Peter, I arrived back in the house, and there was a note from some solicitors, saying that we have had a substantial legacy (4 figures) from a former parishioner (a lovely chap, whom I knew well). This will help enormously to get the roof put right.

Thank you, St Peter, and thank you Alfons Hangartner. May you rest in peace. One foundation Mass coming up for the next 25 years.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Horses for Courses

Ann Widdecombe (proposed as the UK ambassador to the Holy See) is a really good thing; she has talents in abundance. Her former parish priest, a seminary classmate of mine (and someone more inclined to vote Labour), was lyrical in her praise.

Let me make an analogy: in the past, when the Holy Office was the senior congregation in Rome, it had the final say on bishops' appointments. As a consequence, we got characterful defenders of the faith. Ann Widdecombes, in fact, mutatis mutandis.
Paul VI changed all that; now the Secretariat of State is at the top, and it has the final say. As a consequence, we have nice guys as bishops, with all that implies.

Bishops need to be episcopal.

Diplomats need to be diplomatic.

Nuff said.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Funny old world

A Slovakian parishioner this evening told me that in Slovakia, Lutherans are known as Evangelicals—fair enough. The Orthodox, however, are known as 'Protestants'.
Funny old world.
(see the comment box, though)

People Pressure

James Preece hilariously unlocks the deroulement for the Papal Visit.
(H/T Crushed Bones)


I thought that I was fairly unshockable about how low human nature can sink. Until I read this account of the 'Catholic' sex education, nay, corruption, programme in Belgium. (h/t Fr Ray) This has the hoofprints of the devil all over it; the damage to souls is incalculable. I feel sick. No wonder the Church is in such a mess. Woe to those ravening wolves!

And, while I'm at it, am I the only one who thinks that the appointment of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor to sort out the problems in Armagh is ludicrous?
I am personally very fond of the Cardinal—he ordained me—and admire him in many ways, but he is himself tainted by the clerical pædophile issue, and I am convinced that what Ireland needs is something truly cathartic; heads need to roll, to put it bluntly, if the Church is to recover credibility. I strongly suspect that his message to the bishops will be a charming and urbane 'sit tight, don't worry, it'll all be forgotten in a couple of years, and then things will be back to normal'. That won't do any more; there needs to be root and branch reform.

The Word of God

Fr Hunwicke has quite rightly taken me to task for my post about clerical education in the Church of England. While generally agreeing with what I wrote, he pointed out that the picture in Catholic seminaries wasn't quite as rosy as I had portrayed it, specifically with regard to the study of the ancient languages and homiletics. I put a comment on his post acknowledging the justice of what he said, though, in defence, I had sinned only by inadvertent omission, and not commission.

I think, though, that I should note another lack, and that is the study of scripture as scripture: I mean that though 'modern' scripture scholarship is done thoroughly and well, there is a lack of excitement about the word of God for its own sake. I think that this is generally true of the Catholic Church these days, and it needs remedying. It was not always true in the past, despite the propaganda; it was said of Blessed Antonio Grassi that he knew the entire Bible by heart; the minutes of the committee meetings at the Council of Trent (which were all faithfully recorded) reveal a most profound knowledge and love of the scriptures and patristics on the part of the council fathers, coupled with the ability to quote from both effortlessly. The wonderful output of that council did not happen by accident! Their proficiency went light-years beyond that of the fathers and periti at either of the Vatican councils. The seminarians at Douai were deeply steeped in the scriptures; the Bible was read at every meal, and, as we know, they made their own translation, destined to be so accurate (according to the standards of the day) that whole passages were lifted into the Authorized (King James) Bible. Philip Neri's Oratory from the very start put the study of Scripture at its heart. 'Daily sharing of the Word of God' is one of the foundational cornerstones of the Oratory, meaning by this both the Scriptures and also preaching.

I was first alerted to the modern (meaning probably over the last couple of hundred years or so) disinclination to read the Bible when I listened to the talks of Scott Hahn and Gerry Matatics. These men, formerly Presbyterian ministers from the Southern States of the US, brought to me a completely new understanding of the Scriptures. These men love the Word of God (it brought them into the Catholic Church), and that love is infectious. Gerry Matatics has sadly gone over to some Sedevacantist sect now, and perhaps Scott Hahn is a little too charismatic for my taste, but their talks wonderfully reveal Catholic truth at the very heart of the scriptures, and this quite extraordinarily enriches doctrine—exactly as should happen. This then should feed into preaching and exponentially give it strength. One of the purposes of preaching is to strengthen people's faith, and if they can see the Word of God alive in the scriptures, that is exactly what it will do. I have taken the somewhat controversial step (why controversial?) of placing Bibles in all the pews of my churches, and I do see people reading them before Mass, once the newsletter has been milked of all interest.

I wonder if all this is to do with the fact that since the Reformation we have known that 'Protestants read Bibles', therefore we have demonstrated that we are not Protestants by believing Church teaching and tending to know only the Bible as it occurs at Mass. It is common knowledge (and easy Protestant propaganda) that Bibles in English were forbidden in the years before the Reformation. This is not because it was forbidden per se to the laity, but so that anyone who would read the Bible would have had an education, knowing Latin, and would not interpret it in ignorance. This arose from the Lollard crisis, and it was not the same in other countries; in Luther's Germany, I believe there were already several vernacular translations of the Bible.
(Aside—some like to claim that lay Catholics are denied access to the Bible to this day: I once debated with a Jehovah's Witness who asserted baldly that today's Catholics even have to listen to sermons in Latin, that vernacular preaching is forbidden! Magari, (if only!) as the Italians say). The fact that I denied this was simply proof of my mendacity.

When Cyril and Methodius began cautiously to celebrate Mass in Slavonic, permission was given by the Holy Father for the Liturgy to be in the vernacular, but not the scriptures: the argument was that the three languages on the titulus of the cross, Hebrew, Latin and Greek, were by that fact the only languages in which the scriptures should be read. No doubt this made sense at the time.

I would dearly love to see a revival in the love of the scriptures among Catholics; it would deepen our faith considerably to see how the truths of the faith are borne out by the Bible. Church teaching, when orthodox, is enough to get us by, but surely lay (and a fortiori, clerical) nourishment from the Word of God is a good thing. This is hardly controversial; many recent Popes have encouraged the reading of scriptures with indulgences, but how many of us read the Scriptures directly (and with a helpful commentary) as part of our daily devotion?

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Will church buildings be shipped over the Tiber?

An Englishman's home is his castle, it has been said, and it strikes me that a lot of the adherence that an Englishman has to his parish church is because it is to do with home. Perhaps it partly defines one: the place where our family have sometimes worshipped, but at least been baptized, married, and funeralled, sometimes for generations. It is a highly important symbol of the stability of life, a still spot in a changing world. Plenty of people in villages who never darken the doors of the church would nevertheless be distressed at its closure.

For many contemplating participation in an Ordinariate, their church is a make-or-break element. One might say with justice that such people do not see the issues clearly enough, that if they really believed in the Catholic faith, they would know what they needed to do.

But abandoning the religious solace that they have found in St Disibod's by the Gasometer for a Great Unknown is a big ask.

Now, could an aspiring Ordinariate priest bring his church building with him, then most things would stay more or less the same, and in some cases almost all churchgoers would probably go along with it.

However, this relies on good will from the Church of England. They must either gift the building, or permit its use by an Ordinariate congregation, free of charge, or for a rent.

Why they might say yes:
Owning a church building without its people paying to support it is in no way desirable, especially if it is a listed building. This would become a heavy burden on the Church Commissioners who would strive to have it made redundant, no doubt, or converted for other use.
This leaves them looking like the bad guys. The former congregation are camping out in some other building, while the church they have loved for years is locked against them for no apparent good reason. This could sow the seeds for years of bad feeling in the neighbourhood.

Why they will probably say no.
Being permitted to 'take their church with them' will result in accusations from the Womens Ordination lobby of 'rewarding misogyny'. They feel themselves to be on higher moral ground, so they will not hesitate to say this.
My guess is that the Church Commissioners will gamble on the majority of the parishioners remaining (reluctantly or otherwise) in the Church of England for the sake of their parish church, and 'everything staying as it has always been at St Disibod's'. There will be bitter recriminations (with a bit of a bad conscience) about the priest 'abandoning us', and after a very long interregnum, an affirming Catholic male priest will get the incumbency (the PCC will be so relieved after a long period to get somebody, and especially a man) who will be able to soften things up in the parish. He will naturally be followed by Father Susan.
For the Church of England, a satisfactory solution all round.

It does not, however, look at the underlying good of souls. I have seen on Bishop Barnes' blog, and on Fr Hunwicke's lamentations on the steady disappearance of good Anglo Catholic parishes. This means that those parishioners who feel unable to cope with Fr Susan, or even Fr Rainbow her Aff-Cath predecessor, will have nowhere to go where they can feel comfortable.
There is no Sunday Obligation in the Church of England, just a general encouragement to attend Mass. Bit by bit, people affected by this change will simply cease to practise their religion. Some may adapt to the new state of affairs, some even like it once they've got used to it. But many will simply be lost.

There is a lot more one might say, and no doubt some of you may like to comment. I just hope that the Church of England takes the pragmatic and charitable view; in towns where there is a superfluity of churches, to permit a church building to continue to accommodate those who have loved and paid for it, sometimes over generations, is not just a work of charity, but, I suggest, of justice.


I was at St John's Seminary this morning for the ordination of Revd Gerard Hatton, a truly splendid young man, as deacon. Here he is with his guests in the refectory afterwards.

It was one of these occasions when bloggers meet: in this case I travelled up with Fr Ray of St Mary Magdalene and met there Jeffrey Steel of the Cura Animarum blog, and sat next to his son at lunch. They are on an admirable journey of faith; it was very good to be able to meet them. It was a hot day, as you can see.
Congratulations are due to all on a most beautiful liturgy: when I was a student at St John's, things were very different!

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Have you noticed a strange phenomenon lately? The idea of the separation of Church and State has been growing apace in the public mind (as we all know), but it has come to mean that Christians (especially Catholics) have no place in the public process—almost, have no citizenship.

Look at the picture that I have posted. It shows the very first comment made on one of Damian Thompson's posts; see the commenter's bafflement that a religious observation should be entitled to any place on a blog.

Comments about the taxpayer having to pay for Catholic schools seems to suggest that Catholics are not themselves taxpayers.

People may dress as they like; indeed they may wear a rosary around their neck as long as it is a fashion accessory and not a Christian symbol. Recently I saw several rosaries on sale here in Shoreham on a craft stall. I happened to be with the Vicar and his wife; she said to the stall-holder 'ooh, are those rosaries?' and the stall-holder replied, repressively, 'certainly not; they are rosary-like necklaces'.

The notion, I suppose, is that people (i.e. not Christians) should be allowed to go wherever they want, look at wherever they want, without the fear that they be confronted by anything that might remind them that Christianity exists.

It's for consenting adults, in private, only.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Lifeboats and cargoes

Having worried about those Anglicans with 80% Catholicism in their cocktail, let me now look at those a little lower down the scale. I mean those who would broadly identify with 'Affirming Catholicism' which retains what one might call Catholic Ornaments, being, however, liberal in theology (taking it for granted, for instance, that women can and should be priests).

Now, I suppose these people are entitled to their opinions, and if the doctrine of the Church of England is to be decided by a majority vote, then, I suppose, they have a right to run things as they choose.

But I have a fear; I think that they are shooting themselves in their feet. I have, for instance, noticed with alarm that provision for the education of the Anglican Clergy has again taken a nosedive. Even now it is not unusual to find an Anglican priest whose studies have consisted in two years' correspondence course. This is much less than Catholic dioceses would give a permanent deacon. Such people are usually ordained as non-stipendiary ministers, but (once ordained) in practice, (being both ordained and available) they are frequently appointed to curacies and even incumbencies. I understand that this practice is now being extended, no doubt to save money, to the regular clergy.

In the past, I have lampooned this inadequate training as majoring in not philosophy and theology, moral theology, scripture &c &c, but openness, wholeness, counselling and aromatherapy (or something of the sort). An Anglican priest friend commented that, although I was joking, I wasn't in fact far from the truth.

My worry is for the future. Can these people honestly be said to be theologically literate? Catholic priests study usually for six or seven years in full time residential training. We study Scripture, fundamental theology, philosophy (at least 2 years), Church history (that's what I teach), world religions, sociology, ecclesiology, Christology, dogmatic theology, pastoral theology, homiletics, moral theology (at least 3 years), canon law, counselling, psychology, liturgy………&c. &c. &c.

The implications of a poorly-educated Anglican clergy are (in no particular order):
1) Ecumenical discussions between Catholics and Anglicans will become farcical, at least on a local level (I assume there will always be some theologically literate people at a national level), and have to be confined to the church fête and quiz night.
2) A real understanding of dogmatic and scriptural issues will simply escape those who are uninstructed. This will affect their preaching, and their ministry generally. They will preach their opinions which will have no basis in the wider Christian communion, or else be simply anodyne and convince or convert nobody.
3) Ritual Anglicanism risks descending to the level of a sort of cargo cult that performs rituals that it doesn't understand for reasons that it doesn't understand, and which rituals have no meaning outside the feelings they engender, which end up being their raison d'être. The purpose of a Eucharist, a funeral, whatever, is to make people feel good.

Oh dear, I've ended up saying some hard things which I didn't really want to do. I speak out of a genuine and long-standing affection for the old C of E, and it grieves me to see it tearing itself up like this. The trouble is that, sinking, it seems to think that the first things to be thrown overboard are the lifeboats and lifejackets.

New design

I just felt like a change………

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The revised new ICEL translation

When ICEL (or, rather the Episcopal Conferences for whom ICEL worked—see comments) presented the new version to the Holy Father a few weeks ago, I gather that twenty copies were made and distributed to various dignitaries. In these copies, it was apparent that Rome has made quite substantial alterations to the 2008 ICEL text for the Missal, not just to the propers (collects and all that), but also to the ordinary. The long line of 'ands' in the Credo will, it is said, be replaced with further 'I believes' (this would seem to be a good thing). On the other hand, there is a rumour doing the rounds that 'we praise you' in the Gloria is to be replaced with 'we laud you'. I do hope that this is false. Deliberate archaism is not a tool of good translation; a word fallen out of usage should surely only be used if there is not a more common synonym. Otherwise, we should simply bite the bullet and use thee and thou again.

I hear rumours also that there are different versions of the final text circulating: this might suggest that there will be regional variations (such as we have in the current version of the Credo, where our version differs slightly from the American).

Looking at those collects in posts below, in each case I think that the revisions have made better collects than 2008 did, and if this also be the case with the ordinary, then perhaps I am worrying needlessly, and will actually think that they have improved things.

But nonetheless, something that is certainly taking place is that musicians have laid down their pens, because we simply don't know what will emerge as the final version. Perhaps in some cases this is a good thing, but not in others. It certainly means that if the texts of, say the Gloria and Sanctus are considerably altered, the music we will be singing in a few months' time will have been hurriedly produced, and that is rarely a good thing (for not all musicians are Rossinis).

Monday, 21 June 2010

Between a rock and a hard place

No doubt you have seen the strange antics of athletes before a race. They purse their lips and blow, they stretch, waggle their limbs around, jump up and down on the spot, sprint a few paces all, no doubt, for good reasons, and also, perhaps mainly, to ‘psych themselves up’ for the race.

Reading blogs like St Barnabas or The Anglo Catholic gives me much the same impression: here are people psyching themselves up for a big change. The air tingles with excitement; they are thinking and saying the things that they have wanted to for years, and there is a heady atmosphere, almost a sense of being demob-happy. They know that it isn’t going to be easy—little worth having is easy—but the long struggle through the wilderness will soon be over.

But what of the others? What of those left behind for whatever reason?

There has been a lot of quite triumphalistic stuff around, ‘Catholicism without Peter is not Catholicism’; well, quite; I believe that myself. But the trouble is that Anglicanism, despite the common assertion, is not so much Catholic and Reformed (meaning 100% of both), because that, frankly, would be contradictory. It means that there are compromises, and elements of both, in differing cocktail strengths, plus other stuff (liberalism, for instance). One might call oneself a Catholic (within the CofE, I mean) but not actually share all the teachings of Vatican II, Vatican I or even Trent. What it means is that one believes in a cocktail that is Catholic-heavy, if I can put it like that, and the elements that go to make up the Catholic bit can differ from person to person.

To some, union with Peter may indeed be desireable, one day, but there is a lot of other stuff to get out of the way first. Such a person may nevertheless feel much more comfortable in the company of Catholic-minded colleagues than among the usual mix in his deanery chapter. He may even belong to the SSC and Forward in Faith. He may hate the notion of women’s orders. But is he really expected, then, to believe also in Papal Infallibility and the wrongness of artificial contraception, and, most painful of all, to submit to ordination in forma absoluta………?

For those whose cocktail was almost 100% Catholic, the decision has more or less made itself. However, I worry about those whose Catholicism is, say, at 80%. They know (and I agree) that it would be unwise to join the Roman Catholic Church in any form without basically subscribing to the doctrinal package. They may hope that the Ordinariate would cushion the impact of this, but this is unlikely to be the case. The Ordinariate provides a variation on Latin Rite disciplinary matters, but not on doctrinal ones.

So what? They have been living for years side by side with those whose views differ! But now, the authorities are going to be very insistent that orthodox (100%) Catholic doctrine be preached. The fudge will have to be left behind.

So, they are caught between a Rock (Peter) and an increasingly hard place (The Anglican Communion). With the departure of many respected colleagues on the Easyjet flight to Rome, the religious world looks even bleaker than it did on the day that Synod voted for women bishops.

I have every sympathy for people in this position. All we can do, I think, is pray for the gift of faith for them, that they may come to believe the fullness of the Catholic faith that has meant so much to them all these years. And be kind.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Electronic Prayer

Fr Z has started something in my mind: his article is (slightly) whimsical, speculating on whether an iPad might be an adequate substitute for an altar missal. I read with interest, and then saw in the comments box a suggestion that GPS might be used to automatically insert the name of the local bishop into the Canon. Oh bliss! What a wonderful idea! How often have I stood at foreign altars, racking my brains to think of the name someone told me only a few minutes ago, or, worse, having forgotten to ask at all. And perhaps the same GPS could supply local sanctoral supplements, and lots more……

I say the breviary most of the time on my iPhone. It goes with me everywhere, and thus is extremely convenient; another advantage is the lack of flipping around of ribbons and pages.

I thought I might review a few breviary apps and sites, in case anyone else might care to try them out.


Universalis (and RC Calendar) £14.99 (Calendar is free)
If you say the Liturgy of the Hours in English, then this is probably the best available resource. It may seem expensive, but this is to pay off The Rapacious Grail for permission to use the official version of the psalms, and perhaps for the use of the Jerusalem Bible which is used for Scripture throughout. There is an option to use Universalis' own translation of the psalms (and in fact this is the default version). The Antiphons are not in the official translation in the Breviary, but are better (if a little too literal). Universalis (but not Calendar) also has hymns, real office hymns for the most part (a welcome change from the official Breviary). Universalis is entirely downloaded to your iPhone or iPad, which means that you can use it even if you do not have an internet connection. RC Calendar will download the office for the day, and will permit you to download up to ten days in advance (should one be going abroad, for instance), but no more. I don't think it uses the official Grail psalms, which might deter some who are obliged to the Office. You will also find the Mass readings for the day. Finally, Universalis has a number of diocesan calendars and propers also (though alas not my own).

If you want to say the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin, this is your only option. It seems also to have some sort of approbation from the Holy See. The texts are official, though the English version is according to the US breviary (fine if you're a North American!).
One peculiarity is attaching the Invitatory to Lauds: Universalis' solution of treating it as a separate item is much better, which gives one the option of celebrating the Office of Readings in the traditional place accorded to Matins.
iBreviary has been a little shaky in the past (as Fr Z observes), but they have recently revised it, and now it seems much better. I hear that they are planning to introduce an (altar) missal for the iPad soon. I'm not sure what I think about that.


Divinum Officium
Divinum Officium is not an app, but a web site, so you need to access it via Safari or another browser. It is a positively encyclopædic tool for celebrating the traditional office in either Latin or English; it meticulously presents the material in double columns throughout, and one column neatly fits into the iPhone's window and is very legible. You can access the office in virtually every shade of traditional Latin office, updated every day, from pure 1570 right up to 1961 with New Calendar (my own preference). It is a work of real skill, let down by mistakes from time to time (sometimes I have to reach for my printed breviary), and quite a lot of typos at Matins. Being a web site, internet connection is essential, at least to download each office.

Officium Divinum
A confusing name (I don't know which came first), this is also a web site. It is easier to read than Divinum Officium, having a grey/white background and a clearer, sans-serif, font, but is only in the 1961 version, and completely lacks Matins.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


A hero: please pray for him.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The New Collects — final version

Someone who has asked to remain anonymous has very kindly sent to me the (presumably) final, final, versions of the collects I gave in earlier posts.
You will see that I have entered these finished versions in bold.

These were the collects as presented to the Holy Father and Curia, and it would appear that several of my points of unease have been addressed. In fact, I quite liked the 2008 versions, and I like these 2010 ones better.

It has made me wonder whether the ordinary of the Mass, as appearing on the USCCB website, has also been subject to such revision; I had some similar points of unease, and it would be good to think that someone might have been doing a little last-minute revision.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Thank you, Holy Father

As The New Liturgical Movement pointed out, the recent Vigil of Prayer for priests in St Peter's Piazza was remarkable for the use of Silveri's music composed for the Elevation at the Papal Mass, as for the use of the Papal canopy, carried over the Blessed Sacrament.

In addition, we might note the use of Perosi's Tu es Petrus, and a setting of the Adoro te devote, both also used at the coronation of Pope John XXIII.

And, joy of joys, no Sistine Screamers! There was a very large mixed choir who sang very creditably and, mirabile dictu, a full orchestra who played Elgar's Nimrod movingly as the Blessed Sacrament approached the altar. One curiosity is that the choir adopted the traditional 'Sistine style', a rather unusual swelling and diminishing of the dynamics and a slow pace,—except that (unlike the Sistine itself) they did it well (and almost almost made it convincing).

The organ sounded far better than the electronic keyboard that has been used in the past.

About the only irritation was the EWTN commentary; accurate, of course, but sometimes cutting across the music and the atmosphere with obvious remarks ('now the deacon is placing the Blessed Sacrament on the altar').

I must also mention the remarks of the Holy Father about priesthood, which I found very helpful as a pastor. In the unlikely event that you are reading this, Holy Father, thank you very much indeed, as also for the first time that I have found Vatican liturgy moving and prayerful.

The Blessed Sacrament enters at about 63 minutes. It is strange that the servers (in particular the MCs) stand before the Blessed Sacrament, while the Holy Father kneels.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Travel and Broad Minds

Travel broadens the mind—or a part of one's anatomy—it has been said. And as the poem by Joyce Grenfell puts it, I also enjoy travelling in my head, which is to say, by reading travel literature. The wonderful books by Patrick Leigh Fermor, for instance.
More recently, I have been reading something quite different in that category. This is The Travels of Ibn Jubayr, in the translation by Roland Broadhurst.
Abu 'Husayn Muhammed ibn Ahmad Ibn Jubayr was secretary to the Moorish Governor of Granada in the year 1182. His employer forced him to drink, against his Moslem conscience, seven cups of wine, and then, in remorse, compensated him generously. Ibn Jubayr determined to spend the money on the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca. Fortunately, he wrote an account of his travels that has come down to us.
He set out 4th February 1183, and returned 3rd May 1185, having visited Alexandria, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Syria, Crusader territories (mostly Acre), Sicily, and finally back home.

It is part of our common wisdom that all Moslem territories in this period were governed in an enlightened and tolerant way; the sciences and arts all flourished, while the Christian territories were backwaters of brutal intolerance, ignorance and superstition.

It would be good if such people read Ibn Jubayr: again and again he laments on his journey how his fellow Moslems treated him with contempt, and how several times he nearly was killed, and often was robbed. By comparison, he comments on the happy condition of those Moslems who lived in the lands of the Franks. This does not soften, however, his delight at the fate of any Christians who fell into Moslem hands, nor his prayers for the destruction of Christendom and the enslavement of its people to the glory of Islam.

We came to one of the biggest fortresses of the Franks, called Tibnin. At this place customs dues are levied on the caravans. It belongs to the sow known as Queen, who is the mother of the pig who is the Lord of Acre - may God destroy it We camped at the foot of this fortress. The fullest tax was not exacted from us, the payment being a Tyrian dinar and a qirat [one-twentieth part] of a dinar [about eleven shillings] for each head. No toll was laid upon the merchants, since they were bound for the place of the accursed King [Acre], where the tithe is gathered. The tax there is a qirat in every dinar (worth of merchandise), the dinar having twenty-four qirat.136 The greater part of those taxed were Maghribis, those from all other Muslim lands being unmolested. This was because some earlier Maghribis had annoyed the Franks. A gallant company of them had attacked one of their strongholds with Nur al-Din - may God have mercy upon him - and by its taking they had become manifestly rich and famous. The Franks punished them by this tax, and their chiefs enforced it. Every Maghribi therefore paid this dinar for his hostility to their country. The Franks declared: 'These Maghribis came and went in our country and we treated them well and took nothing from them. But when they interfered in the war, joining with their brother Muslims against us, we were compelled to place this tax upon them.' In the payment of this tax, the Maghribis are pleasingly reminded of their vexing of the enemy, and thus the payment of it is lightened and its harshness made tolerable.
We moved from Tibnin - may God destroy it - at daybreak on Monday. Our way lay through continuous farms and ordered settlements, whose inhabitants were all Muslims, living comfortably with the Franks. God protect us from such temptation. They surrender half their crops to the Franks at harvest time, and pay as well a poll-tax of one dinar and five qirat for each person. Other than that, they are not interfered with, save for a light tax on the fruits of trees. Their houses and all their effects are left to their full possession. All the coastal cities occupied by the Franks arc managed in this fashion, their rural districts, the villages and farms, belonging to the Muslims. But their hearts have been seduced, for they observe how unlike them in ease and comfort are their brethren in the Muslim regions under their (Muslim) governors. This is one of the misfortunes afflicting the Muslims. The Muslim community bewails the injustice of a landlord of its own faith, and applauds the conduct of its opponent and enemy, the Frankish landlord, and is accustomed to justice from him. He who laments this state must turn to God. There is comfort and consolation enough for us in the exalted Book: 'It is nothing but a trial; Thou makest to err with it whom Thou pleasest, and guidest whom Thou pleasest' [Koran VII, 155]

And there is much else; the Norman Kingdom of Sicily is extolled for its beauty and learning (even the King is able to converse fluently in Arabic), its hospitality and its charity to the sick and to travellers. But these are seen as traps for the unwary Moslems, to seduce them from Islam. Ibn Jubayr can only comment sourly 'May God destroy it and enslave all the pigs [Christians]!'

I am, of course, well aware that things can be said for and against the Christian kingdoms at this time, but we would do well not to too readily succumb to the prevailing opinion that civilization was all on the side of the Moslems and brutality on the side of the Christians.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Collect for Midnight Mass

And here is the collect for Midnight Mass (it has no equivalent in the Breviary).

1570 Missale Romanum and Sarum

Deus, qui hanc sacratíssimam noctem veri lúminis fecísti illustratióne claréscere, da, quaesumus, ut, cuius lucis mystéria in terra cognóvimus, eius quoque gáudiis in caelo perfruámur. Qui tecum.

1970 Missale Romanum

Deus, qui hanc sacratíssimam noctem veri lúminis fecísti illustratióne claréscere, da, quaesumus, ut, cuius in terra mystéria lucis agnóvimus, eius quoque gáudiis perfruámur in caelo. Qui tecum.

1973 NLC (for England and Wales)

O God, you have brightened this holy night with the splendour of the true light. We have learnt to recognise the mystery of your Son’s light on earth; grant that we may share his joy in heaven: who lives and reigns.

1975 ICEL

Father, you make this holy night radiant with the splendour of Jesus Christ our light. We welcome him as Lord, the true light of the world. Bring us to eternal joy in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns.

1998 Projected (& rejected) ICEL

God our Creator, who made this most holy night radiant with the splendor of the one true light, grant in your mercy that, as we celebrate on earth the mystery of that light, we may also rejoice in its fullness in heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2008 New Version

O God, who have made this most sacred night radiant with the splendour of the true Light, grant, we pray, that we who have known the mysteries of his light on earth may also feast on his joys in heaven. Who lives and reigns.

2010 Final Version

O God, who have made this most sacred night radiant with the splendour of the true Light, grant, we pray, that we who have known the mysteries of his light on earth may also delight in his gladness in heaven. Who lives and reigns with you.

And, for the purpose of comparison,

BCP has no service for Midnight

1868 The Sarum Missal (in English)

O God, who hast caused this most holy night to shine with the illumination of the True Light: grant, we beseech Thee, that we who have known the mysteries of this Light on earth, may likewise obtain the full enjoyment of it in Heaven. Who livest.

1912 The English Missal:

O God, who hast made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of the true light: grant, we beseech thee; that we, who have known the mystery of his light on earth, may also attain to the fruition of his joys in heaven: Who liveth.

1980 Alternative Services Book (Anglican)

Eternal God, who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of your one true light: bring us, who have known the revelation of that light on earth, to see the radiance of your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ

2000-2006 Common Worship (Anglican)

Identical to ASB

Collect for the First Sunday in Advent:

Here is the collect for the First Sunday of Advent:

Latin Original

Da, quaesumus, omnípotens Deus, hanc tuis fidélibus voluntátem, ut, Christo tuo veniénti iustis opéribus occurréntes, eius déxterae sociáti, regnum mereántur possidére caeléste. Per Dóminum.

1973 NLC (for England and Wales)

Almighty God, grant us the will to greet our Saviour with our good works he comes, so that we may be worthy to be on his right hand and possess the kingdom of heaven. Through our Lord.

1974 English & Commonwealth breviary (i.e. not the US version)

Grant, almighty Father, that when Christ comes again we may go out to meet him, bearing the harvest of good works achieved by your grace. We pray that he will receive us into the company of the saints and call us into the kingdom of heaven. (We make our prayer) through our Lord.

1975 ICEL

All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns.

1998 Projected (& rejected) ICEL

Almighty God, strengthen the resolve of your faithful people to prepare for the coming of your Christ by works of justice and mercy, so that when we go forth to meet him he may call us to sit at his right hand and possess the kingdom of heaven.

2008 New Version

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that your faithful may resolve to run forth with righteous deeds, to meet your Christ who is coming, so that gathered at his right hand they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom. Through our Lord.

2010 Final Version

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom. Through our Lord.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Collects: a comparison

Here are the ‘official’ translations of the collect for the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. It’s interesting to set them out side by side. Clearly the 1975 version that is now being replaced is the poorest by a long way.

Latin Original
Protéctor in te sperántium, Deus, sine quo nihil est válidum, nihil sanctum, multíplica super nos misericórdiam tuam, ut, te rectóre, te duce, sic bonis transeúntibus nunc utámur, ut iam possímus inhaerére mansúris. Per Dóminum.

1973 NLC (for England and Wales)
O God, protector of those who place their hope in you, without your help nothing is strong, nothing is holy. Guide and protect us now, and show us your abundant mercy. Grant that we may make good use of your gifts in this life, and so be secure in the possession of the gifts that last for ever. Through our Lord.

1974 English & Commonwealth breviary (i.e. not the US version)
Lord God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing holy, support us always with your love. Guide us so to use the good things of this world, that even now we may hold fast to what endures for ever. Through our Lord.

1975 ICEL
God our Father and protector, without you nothing is holy, nothing has value. Guide us to everlasting life by helping us to use wisely the blessings you have given to the world. We ask this through our Lord.

1998 Projected (& rejected) ICEL
O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, enfold us in your gracious care and mercy, that with you as our ruler and guide, we may wisely us the gifts of this passing world and fix our hearts even now on those which last for ever. We ask this through our Lord.

2008 New Version
O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, lavish your mercy upon us: with you as ruler and guide may we so use the good things that pass away, that we may even now hold fast to those that endure. Through our Lord.

2010 Final Version
O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has value, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure. Through our Lord.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


Today we had our first Mass of Corpus Christi and annual procession of the Blessed Sacrament: our retired priest, Fr Tony Lovegrove, presided at the latter with his customary panache. We had about 180 people present, which was encouraging.
We were the guests of the gracious Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in their grounds, and we are most grateful for their kindness. This was the second stational altar.

The guests of honour were, of course, those 26 children who had made their first Communions last Sunday—here is a representative sample, with their faces blurred to satisfy the dragons of safeguarding correctness. The boys carried candle lanterns.
We had worried that with the late spring and the early Easter that we wouldn't find enough petals for the girls to strew; however, a resourceful Sister Patrick asked Arundel Cathedral what they were doing with their carpet of flowers (video here) once their procession had taken place. So if you want to know, it ended up providing a second carpet for the Lord.

The final station in the convent chapel. We have three churches in our parish, which accounts for the different uniforms worn by the servers. We'll do something about that one day, when we have some money.
And yes, in case any of you were worried, we did use an ombrellino for indoors, a canopy for outdoors, two thuribles &c, &c; it's just that the photographer didn't happen to catch this. But I'm very grateful to Stephen Sharpe for these early pics.

Happy feast, everyone (even though I wish it were still on Thursday)!

Friday, 4 June 2010


I have known a number of unfortunately-named people, among them Olive Grove and Orson Carter. I narrowly escaped being named John Thomas myself (notta lotta people know that!), being rescued at my baptism by my Godfather, on whom be eternal peace and my undying gratitude. I am grateful to my friend Gregory for sending me this election poster for the wonderfully named Young Boozer.
With a name like that, the poor chap deserves to get elected.