Sunday, October 18, 2009

The quotable Fr Hunwicke
  • On the destructive V2 game of having documents that praise something traditional then undermine it a few lines down by allowing something different as a local option at the discretion of the bishop. His solution is a literal, strict-constructionist reading of the texts; how academically unhip :). What the Council decided to permit universally is good, wholesome, “organic”, and should be embraced by “traditionalists”. What was left to the licentia Ordinarii should stay just that: a possibility which can be permitted in special circumstances. I would like to conclude with a historical fact well worth consideration. Mgr Marcel Lefebvre signed Sacrosanctum Concilium [the liturgy document] and did not obstruct its implementation. He was a moderate and practical missionary: at first his seminary at Ecône used the 1965 modifications to the 1962 Missal including the vernacular. (Traditionalism. Is. Not. About. Latin.) Like many bishops, he was part of a tacit agreement that what some of what the more “liberal” bishops desired could be allowed to them, while it would not be imposed on those who were looking for a more cautious reform. Even in every parish this could work: the first Mass every Sunday morning being Tridentine Low (rather like the Episcopalians’ Rite I option) and, where wanted, one experimental Mass versus populum with dopey modern hymns every Sunday as well.
  • Prayer Book office pros and cons. Most of the few Western Rite Orthodox use Anglican-based services so they use the Prayer Book office... and the American Missal so essentially they’re good 1950s American Anglo-Catholics (Prayer Booky text and Tridentine ceremonial but non-papal). The approved Roman Rite office, only by historical happenstance and not theological reasons, is the Monastic Breviary/Diurnal; the Mass an edit of the Tridentine so in English an edited English Missal.
  • I need help because I have just read, in an old RC newspaper passed on to me by my Head Server, a piece by someone called “Mgr Basil Loftus”. In it he defines the Eucharistic role of the priest as to “animate and energise” the congregation. As a poor schismatic, I know nothing about RC Theology. So of course I have to accept that this is in fact what the Council of Trent defined as sacerdotium. But it seems curiously like what we Anglicans would call “Extreme Low Church Nonsense”. Does this gentleman really hold a celebret from a validly consecrated bishop in full communion with the See of Rome? He would surely be much happier in the C of E. Should I offer to meet him secretly, in some sleazy pub somewhere, so that we can swap celebrets — and jobs? (But he can’t have my wife.) But, on reflexion, no. The congregation at S. Thomas’s would lynch him before he’d finished animating and energising them in the Asperges. For more than fifty years I have maintained an acquaintance with a very splendid priest called Mgr Anthony Stark. His churchmanship is much more sound. Now I have to assimilate the fact that he is presumably in cahoots with this “Loftus” chappie.
  • Identity: I feel it is one of the characteristics of the last century and a half ... say, since the time of Disraeli ... why is it him that I mention? ... that we construct our sense of self-identity, not from our actual and family backgrounds, but from what we have discovered for ourselves; and not infrequently in reaction against our real individual inheritances. Is that something to do with the cultural disintegration of this period? I think I’m a Mediterranean man like Fr H.
  • Gravestones: Somebody wants to put into my churchyard (I’m a coward, so of course I’ll agree) a gravestone describing the deceased as “Beloved Daughter, Sister, Aunty”. What I dislike is that the lady concerned was a very considerable person who was the parish’s Schoolmistress for decades and touched, for the better, innumerable lives. None of this apparently matters. It’s almost enough to make me a screaming feminist. The inscription desired seems to me to mean, translated into plain English, “She was a SPINSTER who DID VERY LITTLE”. Since I’m on about it: I also dislike the modern fad for seeing someone solely in terms of intra-familial relationships and without any reference to their role in the wider community. (One of the best inscriptions in my churchyard is that to Olive Gibbs, because it details her long stint as national Chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament [another Anglo-Catholic-formed peace person!], and her mayoral service to this city and county.) And I dislike the absence of any reference to the deep religious commitment of the person concerned, and the lack of any suggestion that we might pray for her or that Jesus might have mercy upon her or that she might rise again. And I don’t care for the hypocoristic Aunty. I think I must be out of sync with the Zeitgeist.
  • The other day my wife was cornered by a gentleman who addressed her about his atheism and lifestyle. He concluded by saying “I live by the Nine Commandments”. Quick as a flash, she retorted “That’s an unusual name for a pub”.

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