Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Ordo 2019...

The Saint Lawrence Press Ordo for 2019 is now available to order here. I encourage you to support the Saint Lawrence Press by buying the Ordo. It serves not only as an highly useful practical guide for celebration of the Roman Rite in the modern world but as a professional comparison with the obvious inferiority of the rite of 1962, which many still confuse with the "old" rite. Any endeavour to de-mythologise liturgical history and praxis can only be good, whatever one's ecclesiastical affiliation. Buy your copy to-day!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Ireland and the Great War...

Three years ago my mother proposed that we go to Dublin to join in the celebrations to mark 100 years since the Irish rebellion of 1916. I refused. Not because I despise the tradition of Irish nationalism, which goes back hundreds of years and boasts innumerable great characters, but because my opinion of what happened in 1916 has remained fixed in the tradition of old fashioned Unionism. You might say I'm a kind of inverse Ernest Blythe! In the context of traditional Irish nationalism, the "Easter Rising" of 1916 was a complete aberration. There was some idealism in the mix but there was also a lot of neurosis, vanity, and downright bogus conviction. Most of the rebels weren't even Irish. Pádraig Pearse' father was an Unitarian from Birmingham. Tom Clarke's father was a soldier in the British Army, and he himself had spent virtually none of his adult life in Ireland. Maud Gonne (Yeats' muse) first saw Ireland from the inside of the Curragh Camp, where her father was a colonel in HM's Imperial forces. Constance Markievicz owed her privilege to the old Protestant Ascendancy; a kind of champagne socialist who could afford to play with revolutionary politics. And one could go on! This kind of bogus conviction reminds me of an old friend of mine of Polish ancestry, whose unique attachment to both Russian Orthodox Old Ritualism and Ulster Orangeism makes me wonder about the nature of conviction.

When the rebels seized the General Post Office and Pearse proclaimed the "republic," the declaration from which he read mentioned the "gallant ally" in Europe: the Kaiser! In the context of the Great War, whose centenary is being marked around the world to-day, this was traitorously cynical and was rejected by most Irishmen and women in Dublin, many of whose sons were serving in the British Army on the Continent. My paternal great grandfather John Sheridan was one of the 250,000 Irishmen on the Western Front and on his return to Naas during the ascendancy of Sinn Féin couldn't find work; presumably because the Sinners scared off anyone who might give him a job due to his having served in the British Army. Eventually he did find work, as a gardener for the local Methodist minister. Who knows now why he chose to volunteer for the British Army? Three square a day; for King and Country; or perhaps moved by the plight of Belgian refugees in Dublin. But if you compare my great grandfather's simple heroism with the perfidy of the rebels, shooting ordinary people with German guns and swearing allegiance to the Kaiser, that should make people think. So to-day my thoughts and prayers are with the ordinary Irishmen who fought on the Front Line and not the couple of hundred mongrels who seized the GPO.

May they rest in peace!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Five years later...

"Thou, LORD, shalt save both man and beast. How excellent is thy mercy, O God!" Psalms 35.

It's five years since Lucy died. I don't think a day has passed since that never-to-be-forgotten morning that I haven't thought of her and yearned for her presence. May she rest in peace!

Any ideas?

That's me (far right) and my siblings at the Giant's Causeway on one of many trips to Ulster. It's a photograph of a photograph so forgive the quality; I can't find the original. I think this was in 2002.

I've often said that one cannot simply summon the Muse. I have had little inclination to write recently, not because I am especially busy (I am actually rather idle) but because I feel as though I have run out of things to say. I have eight different draft posts, in varying degrees of completion, about subjects as various as Ireland, Tolkien and the Anamnesis. I have been re-reading books and re-watching documentaries about Ireland. I suppose Brexit has re-inflamed my sense of Irishness again. It's an hot and cold thing, fluctuating between revulsion and yearning. When I went to my great aunt's funeral in the north (of England) four years ago, I felt discreetly sick at the sound of so many Irish accents, the snobbery and the small talk. At the same time I feel a sense of pounding nostalgia for the Irish dance feiseanna I competed in as a child (and often won); the St Patrick's day march from the Irish centre in Catford to St Saviour's church in Lewisham for a Mass partly in the Irish language; for the cèilidh dance I remember vividly from the wedding of my second cousin Marie; for the sense of wonder I felt when I saw St Kevin's tower in Glendalough. Pádraig Pearse, who like me had mixed English and Irish ancestry, wrote that this had made him "the strange thing that I am." Well you can't get stranger than an Anglo-Irish homosexual convert to Russian Orthodoxy! (Unless you count a mentally ill Irish pop singer who recently converted to Islam).

I was saddened to learn yesterday of the death of Fr Robert Taft. His work was recommended to me many years ago when, as an ignorant traditionalist, I was too reliant on the bias of Adrian Fortescue. Some have expressed their untimely dismay that Taft, an undoubted liturgical expert, was not a traditionalist in support of the "extraordinary form." Well, on that score I have enough confidence in his scholarship to perceive that he devoted his life to the de-mythologisation of liturgical history and that there never was a golden age cut short by a council. I think he did the right thing in abandoning the Roman Rite as early as he did. May he rest in peace.

On a related subject, it's chilling to witness the creeping papalism of the Phanar in recent weeks. The latest in the Ukrainian schism is that old Bart has abolished the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and declared all Ukrainian bishops to be exarchs of Constantinople. It's hard to see the end of this but I hope sincerely that Bart comes to his senses.

I recommend Peter Hitchens' latest column for its earnest and forthright exposure of police incompetence. Also this transcription of a lecture on the real nature of divorce and its implications for society.

I started "Lucernare" to try and re-vivify the old fire but it's had the opposite effect. Any ideas?

Sunday, 21 October 2018

The question of Europe...

I think that this short video succinctly describes my attitude to the Supreme Soviet European Union:

This was Northern Ireland in 1982. And now the European Union is fomenting a politically-contrived schism in the Ukraine, with the full backing of its globalist ally across the sea. You may care to know that as I write this, it is just after 11am on Sunday morning. That is to say, I am not at church. The reason being that my local Greek church is in the Archdiocese of Thyateira, under the now-disgraced Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

An open letter to Bartholomew I...

To Bartholomew I, Arch-heretic of Istanbul, greeting,

Once again, to your shame, you are engaged in treachery against the Church of Christ and her canonical integrity. I think I speak for the godly people of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (under the rightful Patriarch Onuphry), whose canons and privileges you have trampled in the gutter, when I say that we repudiate you. By recognising the heretic and neo-fascist, the self-styled "patriarch" Denisenko, whose grotesque intrigues, under the curse of Anathema, have not failed to trouble the Church of Christ in the lands sacred to all Slavic people, and by your constant interference beyond the bounds of your insignificant local church, you debase yourself to the level of an equal with the Pope of Rome, who supports and maintains the equally destructive and schismatic Uniate communion in the Ukraine. Your treachery is deepened by the fact that you sanctioned this anti-canonical and anti-evangelical alliance by accepting bribe money from the United States of America. Small wonder that you are held in Judas-like contempt.

Remember this: you will answer before Almighty God for the blood of the faithful Orthodox people in the Ukraine, whose churches and monasteries they will defend from the ravages of heathen men who come to seize them. You will answer before Almighty God for having rent in twain the seamless garment of Christ for little cause but the material machinations of reprobate men. I pray that one day you repent of this evil and realise that your friends over the sea won't save you, just as the Popes of the waning Byzantine era failed to save the empire. "O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man; for there is no help in them," saith the LORD.

Yours very sincerely,

Patrick Sheridan

Sunday, 14 October 2018

"Saint" Paul VI...

As an outsider looking in, the thing that worries me most about the increasing tendency of popes to canonise their recent predecessors is the implication that by making them saints they are sanctioning their works. Paul VI, whose lasting legacy is the reformed Roman liturgy, is a divisive figure to say the least! And then there is pope Francis' comments that he and Ratzinger are next in line. One would hope that that was tongue-in-cheek but I'm beginning to wonder whether it does not rather denote megalomania (well, he's not averse to quoting himself), just like the gesticulations of Pius XII in front of an audience, or even Francis' seeming adversary Donald Trump at a press conference. It's either a bad precedent or sainthood is completely bogus. Alleged miracles aside, why is Paul VI considered saintly? What did he do that was holy in an exemplary way? I don't think the canonisation has anything to do with Giovanni Battista Montini as such but the culture of revolution which most of us have come to associate intrinsically with him. And I need not mention the implications this has for the works of Francis, the saint already in-waiting, who, by personally canonising Paul VI seems to connect the theme and works of his reign with that of his predecessor. Now that he is "saint" Paul VI, are we to believe that the desolation which is the modern Roman liturgy is good? Or what about those pestilential Lefebvrists, the ugly by-product of that reform? By their fruits ye shall know them, saith the LORD, and while it is false to say that Paul VI started all this (and can therefore be blamed exclusively), it is true to say that he did nothing to stop the disaster he inherited from John XXIII and Pius XII and the fruits of his indecision and inaction (and, in some cases, encouragement) are plain for all to see.

My personal opinion of Paul VI has evolved over the years. As a teenaged traditionalist I used to despise him, and cursed his name. These days I just see him as one link in a bad old chain that goes back to such appalling figures as Innocent III and Gregory VII. Paul VI was neither an originator of evil nor even a particularly bad pope of Rome, as they are. At least he never preached crusades or stripped ancient monuments of precious metal. All Orthodox Christians can really say about him is that he was acting legitimately within the false tradition he received from his predecessors and in which he believed emphatically. To him, as to Francis, Tradition was meaningless. But he was no saint!

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Two deaths in Ireland...

"We are no petty people. We are one of the great stocks of Europe. We are the people of Grattan; we are the people of Swift; the people of Emmet; the people of Parnell. We have created most of the modern literature of this country. We are the best of its political intelligence." W.B.Yeats, in a speech delivered to the first Seanad Éireann.
I was looking through the archives for this story but realise now that I hadn't written about it, save in private correspondence. With the complications of the UK's departure from the European Union, succinctly but rather wincingly called "Brexit," I've been reflecting more on the Irish question and the future of Unionism than anything else. The 2016 referendum split the country, perhaps even the world, down the middle, with members of my own family voting both ways. Not, I hasten to add, my immediate family; rather uncharacteristically, we all voted the same way ("Leave"), albeit for different reasons. With my extended family, spread across the UK and Ireland, it was a rather mixed thing. All of my mother's brothers' sympathies were with the "Remain" cause. My father's sister, who lives in Cornwall, also voted Remain. Whereas my cousin Ruth, an active member of the Ulster Unionist Party, voted to Leave. We all had our reasons and there is wisdom and good faith in both causes.

With regards to the Union and its bleak future, I'm reminded of the passing, in March of last year, of my grandmother's childhood friend Maureen Anderson (née Scales) at the age of 88. I only vaguely knew her, mostly from childhood trips to Ireland. She was godmother to two of my uncles and was also a guest at my parents' wedding. Curiously I don't remember the last time I saw her but I do remember the last time I heard her voice. I was sitting in my grandmother's living room in Ballybofey three years ago as they spoke together on the telephone in their gentle Cityside accents; not raspish like the braying of a stout Presbyterian from Ballymena; nor yet incomprehensible like the drunken, salivating patois of a mick. There was subtle regionality in expression ("the wee girl from Stranorlar"), but the general sound was of a brogue long since corrected. In fact, they sounded very much akin. As I listened I marveled that two women, with about 170 years of life experience between them, could just sit and talk of such routine things as health and the weather. I was forgetting that whatever wells of deep memory are in us are intensely personal and that friends of long standing, husbands and wives, generally talk about the weather because all profundity has been exhausted. My parents are like that. The conversation, or rather my impression thereof, put me in mind of this exchange from James Stephens' The Crock of Gold:
...'What does it feel like to be old?' said the boy.
'It feels stiff like,' said the Philosopher.
'Is that all?' said the boy.
'I don't know,' the Philosopher replied after a few minutes' silence. 'Can you tell me what it looks like to be young?'
'Why not?' said the boy, and then a slight look of perplexity crossed his face, and he continued, 'I don't think I can.'
'Young people,' said the Philosopher, 'do not know what age is, and old people forget what youth was. When you begin to grow old always think deeply of your youth, for an old man without memories is a wasted life, and nothing is worth remembering but our childhood...'
It turns out that Maureen was not from an old Ulster family at all. Her parents were Southern Unionists, of the All-Ireland people of Edward Saunderson as it were, from Wicklow who had moved to the North after Partition to escape the kind of discrimination that led to the sacking of Letitia Dunbar in Mayo or the boycott of Fethard-on-Sea. Nonetheless, Maureen retained some affection for the South. A lifelong member of the Irish Georgian Society, she did much to prevent the demolition of town houses in Dublin and Cork. She died, no doubt reconciled to the low church God of her youth, within days of Martin McGuinness. Now there was an Irishman of a different people; certainly not the people of O'Connell. When he died, tributes poured in from all over the world about his peace-making endeavours and the miracle of power-sharing. What rubbish! Only old fashioned Conservatives like Norman Tebbit dissented from that bogus view. McGuinness' funeral was thronged with Bogside devotees, and honoured with the presence of a former United States President. By contrast, the funeral of Maureen Anderson, on the other side of Londonderry, was for the most part empty. Only my uncle Russell was present from my family (my grandmother had died the previous year), to remember his godmother.

The emptiness of Maureen's funeral was due as much to her having married late (she was about 40, I think, and had no children) as to the dwindling support for the Union in Ireland, manifested by the Protestant faith. In fact I see Maureen's death (as I do my grandmother's) as the death, or dying, of a kind of Ireland that Partition permanently ruined, and Brexit will finish off. Who cares about the Union anymore? There are even subtle signs within the Democratic Unionist Party that a united Ireland wouldn't be so bad. Many Protestants in Ulster no doubt view the European Union as I do, with apocalyptic suspicion, but in these days of increasing faithlessness and crumbling national identity, particularly along religious lines, perhaps the old Protestant spirit of work and pragmatic enterprise will triumph over the old loyalties, which have more often than not betrayed them, and we may view the old Unionists like Maureen as Karl Friedrich Lessing's "The Last Crusader," pictured above; defeated imperialists, old, childless, and remembered by none.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Lady in the Van...

For many years now I have been fascinated by the lives and habits of eccentrics and vagrants. I am not entirely sure why but it may be that as an eccentric myself (or at least a borderline recluse) I feel a sense of commonality with them. I am familiar with George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, as well as the extraordinary, ascetic life of Quentin Crisp. I recall the monastic tragedy of Sebastian Flyte and the disheveled women of Grey Gardens. The sadistic brutality of "Shack" from Emperor of the North contrasts with the shuffling figure of Crayford, "Old Smoky," resigned to his lot. Collectively, the stories here provide a sobering view of how difficult life can be for people who are different, whether by daring to be so or because life itself has dealt unfairly with them.

"Old Smoky," whose real name is Les, pictured on 8th September (false style).

********Spoiler Warning********

The latest for me in this series is Nicholas Hytner's adaptation of Alan Bennett's play The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith as the eponymous Mary Shepherd, whose true name, Margaret Fairchild, was "buried to sin;" and Alex Jennings as Alan Bennett. "Miss Shepherd," as she is known throughout the film, is a crotchety old tramp who lives in the back of a van in Camden Town. The locals, well-to-do people of a somewhat liberal worldview, put up with her, due, in Bennett's view, to their guilt at the disparity between their lot and hers. Accepting her as a mild nuisance, albeit a presence to plummet the value of their Victorian houses in the eyes of the Joneses, they live their middle-class, middling lives around Miss Shepherd, a woman whose talents are as multi-flavoured as her aroma. An accomplished pianist, she studied music in Paris under Alfred Cortot and drove an ambulance during the War. She spent some time in a convent in Camden, but was expelled; she also spent some time in a lunatic asylum, but seemingly gave them the slip. It seems that she was driving from the asylum when a motorcyclist crashed into her and died. She managed to avoid arrest by bribing a corrupt policeman but spent the rest of her days in fear of him. Now (or rather then) she spends her time selling pencils at the roadside and, like Blanche DuBois, living off the kindness of strangers, and seemingly also her long-suffering brother in Broadstairs. She died in 1989 having spent fifteen years living in Bennett's driveway.

The interesting thing about the garbled stories of her life is that they are all true. Unlike "Old Smoky," who I once overheard telling a passerby that he'd tamed elephants on Brighton beach, Miss Shepherd really did fall from grace. This is interesting given her repudiation of her Christian name, ostensibly because of the perceived sin of murder, for which she spends her life atoning. She never quite got over her expulsion from the convent either, and lived in the vicinity thereof, living a quasi-religious life in her van. We'll never know exactly why or how she ended up this way. Was it "bloody bad luck," as the Tramp Major said of George Orwell in The Spike upon discerning that he was a gentleman; or were there other motivations? Pride, resignation and incorrigibility seem to be a common element.

Do watch the film if you haven't seen it already.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Imran Hosein...

The Islamic scholar Imran Hosein gave a lecture at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Three Holy Hierarchs on 26th August (false style) on the subject of Antichrist and the future quranic alliance between the Muslim world and the Orthodox Church against the Judaeo-Christian Zionist world; apparently at the invitation of the Cypriot Greek consul. The subject is of tremendous interest to me, not because I believe in Islamic eschatology, garbled as it is in the heresy of Muhammad, but because all the Muslims of my acquaintance have always been cordial and expressed a keen interest in my faith, and have always been anxious to point out where we agree more than where we disagree. I'm not sure how widespread Hosein's views are concerning Hagia Sophia and such things but if the Muslims were to return the great church to us then perhaps the Papists might in their turn give up the beautiful mosque of Cordoba to the Muslims to seal this alliance; a gesture of goodwill and atonement for the sins of the past.

The subject actually reminded me of something I read years ago in Tolkien. In volume 10 of The History of Middle-earth there is an interesting story of a meeting between Finrod the Beloved and Andreth the Wise. Probably the most explicitly Christian story in Tolkien, Gnome and Man (or woman) discuss many things both historic and yet to be. To redress the evil of Morgoth, Andreth speaks of those of the "Old Hope," who believe that God would himself enter into creation to heal the marring thereof from beginning to end. Finrod says:
"No such hope was ever spoken to the Quendi. To you only it was sent. And yet through you we may hear it and lift up our hearts. Yea, Wise-woman, maybe it was ordained that we Quendi and ye Atani, ere the world grows old, should meet and bring news one to another, and so we should learn of the Hope from you: ordained, indeed, that thou and I, Andreth, should sit here and speak together, across the gulf that divides our kindreds, so that while the Shadow still broods in the North we should not be wholly afraid."
Perhaps in Hosein's turn it was ordained that he would reveal to us a hope delivered to the Arabs, and that we should meet across the gulf that separates us, so that while the Shadow grows in blood-stained Jerusalem we should not be wholly afraid. Unto that day, may the friendship and cordiality between Christians and Muslims grow and may God bless Imran Hosein for his openness to the true Church of Christ!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

The clergy...

There's a conversation going on over at Fr Anthony Chadwick's blog about the (Roman) clerical sex abuse scandal. Of most interest to me was Stephen K's belated comment, which I post here:
The clerical system obviously doesn’t cause sexual perversions and paraphilias. It will protect perverts if they are "discreet" and show talent in some other way. 
This statement appears correct to me. The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that the clerical system rests on the foundation of an unhealthy subservience of people to a self-referential caste which has through the centuries actively promoted such subservience. The result was that priests and bishops got away with all sorts of things because of the promotion of a spurious mystique and theology of orders, wherein people could not readily equate the priesthood with evil – Father would always be believed: 'how dare you say such things of the priest!'. 
Sex abuse is not confined to clerical perpetrators, but that it was trivialised, mischaracterised, concealed, and denied within the Roman catholic church was due to the grossly damaging misconception by higher clerics that nothing could be admitted for fear of losing the moral authority the Church asserted. 
Well, they failed. The Church’s moral authority is well and truly dashed. The doctrine at the heart of the denial is that they speak for God and that their Church was founded and guaranteed by God, and this is the doctrine that has to be abandoned, otherwise nothing will change for the better. 
There will always be a tension so long as the mission of the Church is bound up with the concept of a priesthood which is set apart exclusively to administer grace through most of the "sacraments". I think this is a corruption of the original vision of Jesus. 
More than ever I believe that the challenge for a Christian is to seek the kingdom of heaven in his or her love and respect for neighbour and the contemplation of the mystery and fragility of life and mortal things, so that theosis may come about.
I don't agree with his conclusion but there are some cogent points here that encapsulate the problem, as I see it. Interestingly, I remember being scolded by a traditionalist with a speech impediment after having publicly insulted a prominent clerical blogger. I had said of the crass sybarite, "that man knows as much about liturgy as a pig," or something like that, and I was told: "you can't say such things about a prietht!" Well, typically weak and vacillating, I took down the offending post, which I have since regretted. But I do remember feeling annoyed at the implication that priests were above abuse or criticism. Why should this be? After all, what is a priest? The heretic John Vianney had this to say:
"O how great is the priest! If he realised what he is he would die…God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from Heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host. Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in the tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for the journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest—always the priest. And if the soul should happen to die (as a result of sin) who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again the priest. After God, the priest is everything. Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is." (Source).
With a position this sacrosanct, one could well ask what need there was for Christ! But if this frank and self-referential admission of lofty status by one of the most famous oracles of Romanism is to be believed then no wonder a theocracy filled the void of British rule in 20th century Ireland. If the priest holds the key and guards the door (almost in a satanic inversion of Christ's words in John 14:6), then let him verbally, physically and sexually abuse all he wants. Without him, you're nothing -- and so, it would also seem, is God.

I've found Orthodox priests to be more normal and down-to-earth. My own priest is married and has children. When I speak to him, I have a modicum of respect for his position, his age, his learning and experience, and so on, but I'm under no threats or blackmail. And I am certainly under no illusion that without him, I am damned to hell! That's idolatry (c.f. Matthew 23:9). But then, unlike Rome, the Orthodox Church has maintained the evangelical balance between the three orders of bishop, priest and deacon (I suspect this has some connexion to the Filioque). If a priest has a kind of special charism or mystique, it is in that order and in that context.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Marching to Zion...

Produced by American Baptists, I thought this video was worth sharing. It's encouraging to know that not all American Protestants are emphatic supporters of Jewish terrorism in the Holy Land.