Monday, 11 November 2019

Ordo 2020...


The liturgical ordo published by the Saint Lawrence Press for the Year of Our LORD 2020 is now available to order. I encourage you to support the work of the Saint Lawrence Press by buying the ordo. It gives a thorough presentation of the temporal and sanctoral cycles in the Roman Rite before the reforms of Pius XII. Go over and buy it now!

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Monkhood...


I have known two monks in my life, both members of the Catholic Order of St Benedict. The first, young Christopher, was a rather frivolous man whose failure at the vocation I saw before he did. I think he now works as a fry cook. The next was Matthew, whom I knew at Heythrop. Matthew was a general practitioner who gave up worldly success in medicine for the strict observance. He'd be about 50 now, but he was closer to my age when I knew him. I didn't know him well but I was disappointed when I heard that he'd failed because outwardly he seemed very suitable. I vividly remember watching him as he observed five minutes of silence at the railway station. His eyes were distant but he seemed in every other respect present. I became envious because silence seemed to me to be an unattainable ideal. I fidget a lot, with autistic habits (picking at hangnails, bruxism, cracking my joints, &c), and while I suppose I can detach from material things and simply not engage in conscious thought, I never could achieve what I consider to be true silence. It is not just the absence of sound!

I'm sure to discuss these things with my Bishop in the weeks to come but Fr Andrew is not the first to suggest that I should become a monk. See the comments on my old blog here. Another friend, when I suggested the idea, said "yes, yes, of course!" It was a very emphatic yes too. My grandmother always said that one day I'd be a priest. I don't suppose she ever had an experience of monasticism, though.

Now let me tell you why, far from sneering at them, I would be just like Matthew and Christopher. I have few material things (besides my precious books) to renounce in the first place; I have no worldly success; indeed, on the face of it, monasticism would be my material salvation more than my eternal! I have no passable skill to offer a monastery; I am practically useless; I don't think I can sing. Failure has been my principal success to date, and there's no reason to believe that I wouldn't fail at monkhood. St Tikhon of Moscow was destined to be a monk, and this was apparent to his contemporaries when he was at school. With me, it seems that people just want to lock me away as a nuisance and eccentric as opposed to divining in me something palpably holy. I'm not a saint; I'm an ordinary backslider who eats and drinks too much, and loses his temper. I suppose that exchanging my present lot for the sweet labour of God's vineyard would be good in principle, but is understanding that enough? I have my doubts.

I also feel a sense of obligation to my father. With my mother's health the way it is, he has confided in me his fears of giving up and becoming a tramp. I think he exaggerates a bit there but even my mother said, in a cryptic reference to her mortality, that he doesn't even know how to change his bedding. These are the things that go around my mind as I try to come to a decision. But I'm getting ahead of myself, having yet to arrange to meet my Bishop. He's over the sea in the Evil Empire at the moment but I shall call him on his return.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

The steam has gone out...


For those of you dwindling faithful who still make the occasional appearance here, I thank you sincerely for your dedication! But I fear that the steam has gone out. What little I had to say in the ten years and more since I started blogging, I think I have said. Nobody takes me seriously! Distinguished people don't write to me asking for my advice; I am not invited to give talks at conferences or asked to pen articles for academic publications. I can go a whole week without a single e-mail these days (except routine stuff). That's a stark contrast from around 2009-2013. I think I'm happier this way. I'm slipping further and deeper into obscurity, and can say with Charles Spurgeon: "let my name perish, but let the name of the LORD Jesus Christ be glorified."

There are two things I wish to relate to you. One is that my mother is gravely ill. In the summer she was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and is presently undergoing chemical therapy treatments, which are due to conclude in December, around the time of my parents' wedding anniversary. Initially, she was resolved to refuse all treatment but she decided to go ahead with it because the look on my father's face was harrowing. Most of her hair has now fallen out and she wears a woolen hat most of the time. I have had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with her over the years. We don't see eye to eye on the most important things in life but my heart reached out to her in yearning and sorrow some weeks ago when I watched her walking to the bus stop in her red rain mac. I felt as though she had become very dear to me, and I told her that. These days I spend as much time as I can with her because the time is short. Please pray for her! Her name is Lisa and she is 58 years old.

The other is that Fr Andrew thinks that I should embrace the monastic life. He is probably right. With my unique combination of skills and personal failings I think I could just about make a passable monk. It would be a timely thing too, if my mother died. I am going to arrange a meeting with my Bishop some time in November to see what options there are, but it would undoubtedly mean leaving the country. If it is right for me then it would be my salvation.

Today was the 953rd anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, the prelude to the most devastating acts of cultural, religious, linguistic and legal vandalism ever visited upon this country. The only two things that come close to it were the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Beheading of King Charles ye Martyr. On this day, let us remember the pious and courageous ethno-martyrs of England, particularly the deposed King Harold, who died defending these shores from crusading Normans and their alien religion. No Popery!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Speaking the Truth in Love...

My mother knows me better than I know myself. I once asked her, reflecting upon a friendship that had recently ended (but which I can't now remember), "why don't people like me?" Without hesitation, and seemingly without any thought whatever, she replied: "because you can't keep your mouth shut!" And this is very true. There have been people in my life, from my own sister to old friends and contemporary work colleagues, who are so repulsed by me and the thoughts in my head, and motives in expressing them, that they shun me as the Devil. They have their reasons; I have mine. I say quite openly that I am very intolerant. People simply say and do things that get on my nerves. I think the trouble comes because I am simultaneously a repressed individual and not very assertive in public (very different online!). I certainly don't like confrontation. This might be complicated by personal autistic traits; perhaps an overbearing mother? Who knows? Who cares? But I constantly find myself in situations where I deliberately explode in a spasm of pent-up self-righteousness and wrath. A recent example: two colleagues at work (a mother and daughter, actually) had been getting on my nerves for several months. Their attitude, their appearance, what they seemingly got away with (gosh, it all sounds so petty now...), &c. So what did I do? Did I confront them to their faces? Of course not. I waited until they were on holiday and then blurted out at a team meeting my opinion of them in a very unprofessional way and lambasted the management team for not doing anything about them. At the subsequent mediation (I've had so many of those...) they both swore they'd never speak to me again, which they haven't. From my perspective, I've lost nothing. I didn't like them anyway, and certainly didn't need them for anything. I have just successfully ditched some deadwood. The consolation being that I no longer have to pretend to like them. Having said that, it doesn't make for a comfortable work environment.

My latest post (published on 6th October 2019, false style), which I have had to remove because I was threatened with legal action, is another example. I won't say anything more about it.

St Elizabeth Feodorovna, pray to God for me.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Pope Francis and the migrants...

Pope Francis is not a force for good in this world. Questions of theology and monstrous pretense aside, I would say that he is actually a force for evil and should be removed and gagged. In a special Mass "for migrants" in St Peter's on 8th July (conspicuously closed to the general public), the pope once again came to the defence of illegal immigrants and railed against the Italian government for defending its borders. You can read the brief article here.

There's something very wrong with Francis' attitude towards migrants. These people make a conscious choice to face the perils of the sea, and pay large sums of money to cynical shipmen, who are no better than pirates, and ferry them in unseaworthy boats. These people then have the audacity to illegally enter a sovereign state and expect to be housed, fed, given jobs and other handouts because of some bogus "human rights" theory. Statistically, many of them are responsible for violent crime and fraud. It’s the same along the US-Mexican border. I sometimes wonder what Pope Benedict XVI's view would be, were he still Pope. I also sometimes wonder whether his resignation was timed for this, and that the United States and the European Union wanted a more left-wing Pope to be their oracle in this crisis.

If there were any surety that the migrants would return to their country of origin after a brief stay, then maybe people would be more open to receiving them. As it is, we've all suffered the effects of mass immigration since the 1960's, and an unprecedented demographic and cultural revolution as a direct result. Do we really want more of it? If not, then pope Francis can sod off with all this soppy mush. It has very little to do with the doctrines of Christianity and his silly rhetoric seems more political than theological to me. Francis says: "The weakest and most vulnerable must be helped"; well, why should that be a violent youth from Sudan or Nigeria who has come here to rape our women and make multiple benefit claims, becoming a burden on the state? Are there not enough weak and vulnerable people already present to our senses here? My heart is shut! These people pose an ethnic and cultural threat to us. They should all be rounded up and sent back from whence they came.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Aylesford Priory...


On Sunday I drove to Aylesford Priory to meet a friend of mine who has a church nearby. It was just a convenient place to meet; I have no particular interest in the Carmelites, or indeed any Papist religious order that arose in the Middle Ages. I had been to Aylesford before, though. My school celebrated its patronal feast there at least twice in my memory and the priory is in a kind of bucolic idyll so there is a pastoral attraction as well as a religious one. Having said that, despite the affection I have for my friend, it wasn't worth the drive. I have no idea what the priory was like in the Middle Ages but to-day it's full of awful, Modernist ceramic art and a byword for contemporary Popery. Here is an example:


A crudely-carved, monstrous statue of St Joseph against a backdrop of St Peter's basilica in Rome. The statue's only redeeming attribute is that he is not holding tools.

I have to ask: at what point does bad taste become a reflection of interior bad faith? If Simon Stock walked into this chapel, would he recognise it? Would he feel comfortable worshipping at the shrine of St Joseph, a relatively incidental and unimportant saint, catapulted into stardom by Pius IX and Pius XII and who seems to have become a proxy for God the Father? And on that note, if you look closely, there is not one image of the Crucifixion in this chapel. To say nothing of orientation (there are altars all over the place!), or the general "focus" of the place. Years ago I was accused of being a "liturgical fetishist" by an American Uniate, presumably because I believe that liturgy is not simply the window dressing of faith. Well, to him I would say: this image proves my position. If Popery is the true faith, why can't Papists even get the basics right?

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

More on Notre Dame...


I must say I have been surprised and shocked at the reaction of certain people to the burning of Notre Dame. Fr John Hunwicke says he won't donate one sou to the rebuilding. Admittedly, I can understand that as I won't be either, and probably for similar reasons (I anticipate some hideous monument to the burning erected in the sanctuary; perhaps one candle for every lost roof tile, or something equally sentimental). Already huge sums have been donated by faceless companies like L'Oreal and Dior, whose directors may or may not care for the Christian history and nature of the Great Church, and there will no doubt be some hook to those donations. What could a paltry £30 from someone poor like me have against their more worldly influence? My name is hardly going to be carved into the facade as a great benefactor; no stained glass window for me.

But no, my disgust has been aroused by the reactionary ignorance and melodrama of people like this:



It's more than just sour grapes; it's contemptuous. These are the kinds of people who lament the retreat of the Papal Communion from Ireland under a weight, not of scandal and child rape, but a lack of faith or some other scapegoat. And for exactly the same reason. Power. Material, immediate power in this world to coerce you and me. Just like Giant Pope sitting in the mouth of his cave biting his nails in The Pilgrim's Progress; these people are impotent, whining has-been's bemoaning the fact that they can't burn people anymore.

This whining correspondent complains that he can't enter Notre Dame anymore because of some mistaken memory of its former glory. Well, maybe he recollects in centuries, not years. If he knew anything at all about the history of the Great Church, he'd know that the glory of Notre Dame was in the Middle Ages; the canons, vicars, minor canons, chaplains, beneficed clerks and choristers arranging themselves according to rank in the choir (decani and cantoris in the famous "U" shape) for the canonical hours and magna missa...there were hundreds of them on high days. The unique development of polyphony; the unique rite of the cathedral; the scholarly tradition (many canons were theologians and canonists at the university); &c, &c. Much of this was eroded away with the passage of time but the mediaeval choir with its screen and pulpitum was enthusiastically bulldozed in the 17th century by the cathedral chapter in the spirit of the Council of Trent. The old rite was cheaply discarded in favour of the reformed liturgy of Pius V. Oh, I know it's fashionable to blame Huguenots and revolutionaries for the shell that Notre Dame now is but the rot goes back much further. I don't know what Fr Hunwicke's correspondent actually remembers about the place but Westminster Cathedral had a much more impressive timetable of services in 1960 than had Notre Dame. If you ask me, he's just being a drama queen.

Back to to-day...it seems that there is hope amidst the ashes and that the stone structure of the cathedral is intact. Praise God! I hope that Mr Macron makes good on his promise to rebuild and that the French people do so in the style as it was on Sunday. It's too much to hope that things go back to the time Victor Hugo wrote of in his immortal novel because I'm sorry to say that Rome has moved on from that. Still, it was encouraging to see the people of Paris praying and singing hymns in the streets as they looked on at the tragedy. That says more to me about the ineffable work of God than the poetic justice of a lot of fiery debris crushing the kitchen table.

"Resurgam." From the south trancept of St Paul's Cathedral to Notre Dame de Paris.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Notre Dame de Paris...


At this stage, words just fail me. I have been devoted to and fascinated by this great church for most of my life. I have read Hugo's work (in translation and also in halting French) and have studied the history of the church, from building and glory in the middle ages with its guilds, honorary canons of the city churches, miscreant choristers, the splendid image of the Assumption opened once a year during the Octave, through counter reformation and revolution, botched restoration in the 19th century, through German occupation unto to-day. 850 years brought to an end by fire. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this.

I haven't visited Notre Dame since 2007 and have no photos to share, just an old rosary I have somewhere (bought in the gift shop) and a few books. Tonight I can but say with Victor Hugo

"The greatest products of architecture are less the works of individuals than of society; rather the offspring of a nation's effort, than the inspired flash of a man of genius".

Monday, 25 March 2019

Suicide...


I was moved the other day when I read that a handsome celebrity, the star of some trashy reality show, had killed himself. Mike Thalassitis, a British-Cypriot footballer, hanged himself in the woods behind his house. When people commit suicide or go on a killing spree people invariably ask: "I wonder what brought that on?" On the surface, poor Mike had everything; a nice house, worldly success, good looks, &c. But I think I've just answered that ill-informed question: like a cubic zirconia, his life was all surface shine. It makes one think about the nature of happiness. What is happiness? How do we achieve it, and, having achieved it, how do we hold on to it? Would sharing it diminish it for ourselves? Where does it come from? And so on. I could be mistaken but I doubt I've ever met anyone who is truly happy. Nonetheless I know, having suffered depressive episodes for many years, that happiness is not an unattainable ideal. Like learning a language, you just have to keep at it. I think poor Mike mistook happiness for something else. And the most sobering aspect of his death, for someone who never knew him and wouldn't even if he were still alive, is that in our more foolish moments we look to these people and mistake their money and their success for the very window dressing of happiness. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher.

Am I happy, do I hear you ask? No. But I never stop trying!

Art: Ted Nasmith. I know I used this one the other day but Tolkien touches upon happiness in his treatment of Saruman, particularly in this scene from "Many Partings." Saruman says to Gandalf and the Lady Galadriel: "All my hopes are ruined, but I would not share yours. If you have any." Look it up, and think.

Instagram...

I have set up an Instagram account. If you would care to follow me, look for "lucernare". Several years ago I turned my back on Facebook for a number of good reasons; it was highly addictive, it was obviously a form of corporate espionage, and there were a few anxiety issues I had comparing my life with those of many of my erstwhile friends. The purpose of this new account is twofold; I'd like to gradually phase myself back into social media as a means to reconnect with both the modern world and people with whom I regrettably lost contact when I deleted my old Facebook account; and I'd also like to move away from this blog. I am still trying to figure out the reasons for this.

Anyway, it's out there now. So far I have one follower!

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Tempus fugit...


This photo was taken exactly 10 years ago to-day. I was still a student at Heythrop College, which is where the photo was taken. My old friend Dom Allan Jones took the photo after our "Pastoral Liturgy" class, the last of the day. It was a Monday evening and I was on my way to Corpus Christi Maiden Lane for the evening Mass, which in those days I thought a bad, but tolerable, thing. It was my 21st birthday.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Forgiveness Sunday...


Let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast, and prepare ourselves for spiritual combat. Let us purify our soul and cleanse our flesh; and as we fast from food, let us abstain also from every passion. Rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit may we persevere with love, and so be counted worthy to see the solemn Passion of Christ our God, and with great spiritual gladness to behold His holy Passover.

Let us pray for God's forgiveness on this, the eve of Great Lent. I ask forgiveness of all my readers for any wrong I have done them as we walk together through the wilderness towards the feast of feasts (I have in mind particularly a veteran reader, let's call him J.C). May God give you all the strength to transcend the passing things of this world and to look with hope and gladness to that which is to come, which shall ever be.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Art: Ted Nasmith. It depicts Saruman in his wanderings. I've never seen one of his revenge on the Shire but Frodo's sentiments at Bag End pretty much encapsulate the Christian teaching on forgiveness.