Thursday, January 29, 2015

With apologies for the obvious

"With apologies for the obvious, I must say that it is the primary purpose of all animals to perpetuate themselves and that furthermore it is the responsibility of the female to see to it that the job gets done. It conveniently happens that every little cell in her body is attuned to this charge, and, as with all the really big things in life – God, growing up, death, etc. – intelligent beings have a tendency to ritualize things their cells, nerve endings, and hormones so disturbingly tell them to do. The programming is there, nagging and insistent, and I wouldn't dare, for the sake of my sanity, attempt to defy all my little cells when they tell me to cast a commensurate sidelong glance. The ritual merely lends grace to the task and disguises the enormity of its truth." — Helen S. Clark, "In Defense of Rape"

Monday, January 19, 2015

Can One Speak to God While Looking at the Congregation?

"In the wake of the liturgical reform, the priest turned around and now looks at the congregation while pretending to be speaking to God."
— Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness, 2006, p. 89.

On Abstraction

"Christ took flesh and became a man: shouldn't he be portrayed as a human being?"
— A parishioner of Saint Raphael's Church, Neuenheim (suburb of Heidelberg), Germany, quoted in Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness, 2006, p. 84.

The Ancient Moderns

"For me, the 'modern' style has always borne an old face….

"The twentieth-century cult of youth culminates in a cruel curse: while the aging process cannot be stopped, the aging human being is not allowed to mature and is condemned, until his life's end, to play the long-dead games of his youth. This is most clearly seen in the world of art – which is closely related to religion – where the avantgardisms of 1905 are still being repeated again and again, as an ossified ritual, a hundred years later."

— Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness, 2006 [2003], pp. 80–82. Mosebach was born in 1951.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Respect Lucifer

"St. Gabriel said to me, 'Don't forget, he is an archangel! Don't argue. Respect Lucifer, he is an archangel that failed.' He is like the son of a noble family brought down by his vices. He is not respectable himself, but you must respect his family in him. You respect the Creator's masterpiece, even in its destruction."
— Comte Paul Bivet, Père Lamy, 1951, p. 105.

« Saint Gabriel me dit : « N'oubliez pas que c'est un archange ! Ne discutez pas. Respect à Lucifer : c'est l'archange déchu ». C'est comme un fils de famille très noble, déchu par ses vices. Il n'est pas respectable par lui-même, mais il faut respecter sa famille en lui. On respecte le chef-d'œuvre du Créateur, même détruit. C'est d'ailleurs, une meilleure méthode pour faire rentrer Satan en lui-même. »
Chapitre XIV

No Mystical Air

"One day a lady sculptor made me a Blessed Virgin with Her head inclined. 'And why so, Madame?' 'It gives Her a mystical air.' 'No, no, She has no mystical air. She is there; She looks you in the face: straight in the face; and that is as it should be.'"
— Comte Paul Biver, Père Lamy, 1951, p. 92.

« Un jour, une femme sculpteur m'avait fait la Sainte Vierge avec une tête penchée :
— Et pourquoi, Madame ?
— Elle a l'air mystique ainsi.
— Mais que non ! Elle n'a pas l'air mystique ! Elle est là ; Elle vous regarde en face, tout bonnement, et c'est bien. Tout bonnement, et c'est très bien. »
Chapitre XII

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Under the Cloak of Mary

"The Blessed Virgin takes Her cloak to cover the souls who are good to Her."
— Comte Paul Biver, Père Lamy, 1951, p. 78.

« La Très Sainte Vierge prend Son manteau pour couvrir les âmes qui viennent. »
Chapitre IX

"The souls that God loves are not gorged with honey."

"The souls that God loves are not gorged with honey. He gives sugar to the children and then later, hardly any. The Gospel is not 'pretty-pretty.' In an Institution such methods would upset everything. I had no fear of showing them the Cross. The cross of wood, not the cross of gold. If Our Lord had died on a golden cross, it would have been very awkward. He died on a wooden cross, and you find wood everywhere." — Pére Lamy by Comte Paul Biver, 1956, p. 33.

« Les âmes que Dieu aime ne sont pas à patauger dans le miel ! Il donne du sucre aux enfants, et puis, après, on n'en reçoit guère. L'Évangile n'est pas doucereux. Dans un patronage, ça verserait tout de suite. Je ne craignais pas de leur montrer la croix, la croix de bois, pas la croix dorée. Si Notre-Seigneur était mort sur une croix d'or, ce serait bien embarrassant ! Il est mort sur une croix de bois, et, on trouve partout du bois. »
Le Père Lamy: Apôtre et Mystique, Chapitre III.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Eric Satie and Père Lamy

"Let me tell one more recollection particularly dear to me. It is about Eric Satie; and I would like to complete here what I have written elsewhere about his last days. Note that I tell these things only because they are true. At the end of the first day's talk I had with him in St. Joseph's Hospital, he showed me his crucifix and said his only hope was 'In this One." He said he would change his way of living when he got better—but not too suddenly, as that would upset his friends. I suggested that he should see, that very day, an old priest, the 'Parish Priest of the Rag-pickers,' whom he would be certain to like. (We thought Satie's end was very near, and there was no time to lose.) He consented, though, saying to Pierre de Massot after I had left the room, 'He goes fast, does Maritain.' Massot and I then ran along to the Marie-Thérèse Infirmary to fetch the Abbé Lamy and we brought him in a taxi to St. Joseph's. As we went I explained to him as well as I could who Satie was: a great artist, a musician, very touch and so on… We entered the room; the priest and the sick man exchanged greetings with great interest and respect, and a most unlikely conversation at once developed. The holy old man had entirely forgotten my warnings. They talked about the rain and the fine weather, health and sickness, old wives' remedies. They were both well fitted out on this head and seemed to vie with each other in absurd nostrums. Then as Satie chanced to make passing allusion to music—'Ah,' said the Abbé, 'you are a musician?' 'Yes, a bit,' said Satie modestly. 'You conduct an orchestra?' 'No,' said Satie, smiling in his sleeve. 'Then you give piano lessons?' 'No,' he said again; 'Ah, I see you are a Master?' I was perishing with confusion, thinking, all is lost! But not at all. The innocence of these utterances did the trick exactly with this kind-hearted old ironist. But in the end, completely changing his tone, with that majestic gravity which in such case transfigured his good nature, the Abbé asked Satie, 'Will you let me give you the benediction of the Blessed Virgin?', and as our friend replied in the affirmative, the old priest blessed him, slowly and solemnly. As we went out he said to me 'He is an honest man, a straight soul.' 'You will come back to see him again, Father?' 'There will be no need to—the chaplain will do everything.' And, in fact, the chaplain found it all quite easy. He came round some weeks later and asked Satie, with some others among the sick, if they wanted to make their Easter Communion. 'Yes, certainly,' said Satie, 'I am a Catholic.' Before his death which took place on the 1st of July, 1925, he twice again asked for Communion. Père Lamy was not to see him again until six years later when all souls see one another, without eyes, without body.
— Jacques Maritain, Preface to Comte Paul Biver, Père Lamy, 1951, pp. 11–12.

"Add nothing to the cross"

Be sure to add nothing to the cross which God has sent to a soul, he said. It is heavy enough; its weight is well calculated; do not added a single ounce to it.
— Jacques Maritain, Preface to Comte Paul Biver, Père Lamy, 1951, p. 9.

Bishop Forester on the Old Mass as the School and the Practice of Prayer

I learned to say my prayers at my mother's knee—and I still say the same ones each night. But I learned to pray when I was dragged off to Mass on Sundays. Something was altered with Mummy and Daddy. They did not talk to each other or look at each other. Mummy usually fiddled with a Rosary. Daddy thumbed intermittently a Garden of the Soul which one of my nephews still uses. My eldest sister, Gertrude, who became a Benedictine nun, knelt bolt upright with her eyes usually shut. As I looked round it was the same with all our other relatives and neighbors. What was most unusual is that nobody paid the slightest attention to me. Even if I pulled Mummy's skirt, she just gently pushed me away. I once tried to climb on Daddy's back; he lifted me off and put me under the seat. That, too, was strange: although I was in my Sunday best, I was allowed to crawl about the floor provided I did not make a noise. Funny little boy that I was, I realized perfectly well that something was up.

I do not think that I was a particularly precocious child but I was certainly very young when I tumbled to the fact that all these people were praying without saying prayers, as I did. Children are imitative: I too wanted to pray without saying prayers. I opened up to my sister Gertrude. Just sit quite still, like a good boy, she said. You are too small to kneel. Keep your hands still as well, on your thighs. Try not to look round and keep your eyes shut if you can. Then just say 'Jesus' under your breath, slowly but constantly. I'll prod you when you say 'Thou art my Lord and my God' and you can say it with me.

That, mutatis mutandis, is I suppose how we all learned to pray. The point I am getting at is that the Mass itself was our school of prayer. It was there that we learned to be self-effacing, detached, recollected and to adhere to the Divine Presence. It was also at Mass that the simple faithful practiced prayer throughout their lives. They may have known little theology but they prayed as theologians often do not. Moreover, the simplest of them attained to heights of prayer and sanctity far beyond me.

There lies the tragedy of the New Ordo. Although its theology is ambiguous and its liturgical theory abysmal, those are not what I hold principally against it. The real trouble is that the New Ordo is unprayable. For seven long years I have both celebrated and attended it. It presents itself as a human action, an event, requiring participation; instead of a divine action, The Event of the Sacrifice of God Incarnate, requiring adherence. On the one side you have self-effacement, recollection and adherence, on the other self-expression, self-commitment and participation; these are irreconcilable. And the New Ordo does not merely call for its specific attitudes, it enforces them. You cannot be recollected with a microphone blaring at you in your native tongue which you cannot help but understand. You cannot be self-effacing if you have got to stand up and answer up. You cannot adhere to God if you are busy shaking hands all round. I shall not go into details, illuminating though they be.

Yes, that is the tragic triumph of the renewal; it has destroyed the source, the school and the practice of prayer.…

— Bryan Houghton, Mitre and Crook, 1979, pp. 168–170.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On Priestly Celibacy

"… Since you are to be ordained subdeacon, I wish to add a personal note on priestly celibacy. You see, we priests receive so much. Far more obviously than any layman, we are at the receiving end of God's bounty. The service of God provides our livelihood and security. We receive kindness and respect from those around us because we are God's priests. As though this were not enough, God showers grace and mercy on us in the measure that we are humble and holy. To receive so much so constantly produces its own problem. How can we tell that our love of God is disinterested, that we love Him for His sake and not for the benefits we receive for our service? How can I, Edmund Forester, console myself against the thought that I am a mere hireling and no true son? So much have I received! Well, I have made a sacrifice of the most fundamental urge I have. Also, it was not a sacrifice once made at my subdeaconate and then finished. It has had to be preserved every day of my priestly life. It is in this respect, in its constancy, that no other human sacrifice can compare with celibacy and virginity. Its primary purpose is to honour God, so that we who stand at the altar of His Sacrifice shall have made the most fundamental sacrifice we can. But its secondary use is to prove our good faith, not to others but to ourselves. As a matter of fact others will not call your good faith in question no matter how much they disagree with you. Even today [the year is 1977] the loyalty of the faithful to their priests is almost pathetic. Inevitably, however, you will doubt yourself. This is not easy to bear. It is then that you can remember your vow of celibacy. You have made a sacrifice. You have made a gesture which is totally disinterested. And you continue to make it every day of your life. Whatever your failings, at least you serve Him for His sake."
— Bryan Houghton, Mitre and Crook, 1979, pp. 145–146.

Infallible, not Impeccable

The choice is between orthodoxy and orthopraxis: i.e. is the Church infallible in her Faith or impeccable in her actions? Having made your decision, you will have to stand by the consequences. Thus, Fathers, I do not appeal to your obedience and loyalty. I appeal to your Faith and rely on your heroism.
— Bryan Houghton, Mitre and Crook, 1979, p. 74.

The visible church, the Kingdom, the community of the People of God – whatever you like to call it – is not the source but one of the objects of Faith; neither is she the sole nor even the primary object thereof. What she is, on the other hand, is the guardian of the Faith by divine authority. As such she is infallible in proclaiming what the Faith is. Being composed of mortal men, however, she is lamentably fallible in putting the Faith into practice. This capacity for practical error is just as present in the Church's administration as in her individual members. The Church is infallible but not impeccable. Where there is conflict between her Faith and her practice, as is clearly the case today, the faithful have no alternative but to cling to her Faith and discard her practice. My position is surely as reasonable as it is clear: I judge the Church's fallible practice in the light of her infallible Faith. In theory, my dear Harry, you are either maintaining that the Church is impeccable – which is nonsense – or that one should cling to her practice and abandon her faith. Fortunately, however, we none of us live by theories and I know that Harry Dobson is just as good a Catholic as he knows is
   His devoted friend,
      Edmund Forester.

Ibid., p. 190.

"Wait for me downstairs," said Testastorta quite quietly. "I don't want to pray for this man but I want him to pray for me." Apart from the nun, he and I were left alone with Edmund. He did not hurry. When he got up, he turned to me. "I believe you were his most intimate friend. He was a wonderful man but too trusting, too trusting. His death is quite providential. A casuist of Gaucher's calibre could entangle an angel. I'll tell you: he wasn't going to tackle Forester about his famous Ad clerum at all but about a letter in which he said that he judged the Church's fallible practice in the light of her infallible Faith. You mustn't say that in our days. You invent the faith to suit the practice."
Ibid., p. 209.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Pope ≠ The Papacy

"Colomba was in opposition to the person of the Pope precisely out of loyalty to the institution of the Papacy."
— Bryan Houghton, Mitre and Crook, 1978, p. 35.


"He may be a saint but an impossible Pope, as was Celestine V. He may be a sinner but a good Pope, as was Alexander VI."
Ibid., p. 159.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"Vous aviez raison."

Soit dit en passant, j'étais en Angleterre au moment de la mort de Charles Grant. Je ne lui avais pas fait signe car je savais qu'il détestait les visites. Il préférait s'asseoir pour méditer dans un nuage de fumée. Mais il apprit que j'étais dans les parages et me fit appeler. J'arrivai à l'heure prévue et bavardai comme d'habitude. Il m'interrompit : « Bryan, je veux que vous sachiez que je suis tout juste capable de dire encore la messe. Je ne la dit pas en latin, mais je la célèbre en silence. Vous aviez raison. » Il m'avait fait venir pour me confier cela. Cher Charles! Il mourut peu après.
— Bryan Houghton, Prêtre rejeté, Dominique Martin Morin, 2005, p. 194.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dans le silence qui suivra

Si la présent autodestruction de l'Église doit être enrayée, la première chose à faire, c'est de cesser de bavarder à tort et à travers. Dans le silence qui suivra, nous serons à même de réentendre à la messe la voix toujours douce de notre Dieu et, à travers le monde entier, la proclamation des vérités éternelles par son Église.
— Bryan Houghton, Prêtre rejeté, Dominique Martin Morin, 2005, p.134.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

God is not in the microphone

Ce quit est vrai, bien sûr, c'est que quiconque veut prier, quel que quoi son tempérament, doit faire preuve d'un minimum d'introversion. Le « souffle de la brise légère » (III Roi 19, 12) passe mal par les microphones.
— Bryan Houghton, Prêtre rejeté, Dominique Martin Morin, 2005, p. 82.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


À table, il arrivait assez souvent que les dits du Grand Homme [Edward Staples, his maternal grandfather] émaillent la conversation. Je me souviens bien de l'un d'entre eux – je devais avoir sept ans puisque je ne mangeais plus à la nursery : «J'admire les catholiques : ils tiennent mordicus les position de la religion chrétienne. Je méprise les protestants : ils dénaturent la religion qu'ils prétendent comprendre et soumettre au jugement de leurs misérables consciences. » Soixante-douze ans plus tard, mon souvenir est très précises. Ma seule restriction concerne le mot « misérable » : un autre fut employé.
— Bryan Houghton, Prêtre rejeté, Dominique Martin Morin, 2005, p. 9.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Bishop Daly, Bishop Forester, and the Bishop of Rome

Another cleric commented on [Bishop Daly's] intensed dislike of public criticism:

He's on record among the clergy as being very bitter towards certain groups because they have criticized the bishops. He can't stand them. He harps on this business of their being "negative, negative, negative," which of course means anything that's against the Bishop – it's a re-interpretation of the word! He'll talk freely and comfortably about non-contentious issues. But if, for example, a group criticizes Catholic education, he'll say: "They're so negative. They always find negative things. What about all the good things happening." It really is a pathetic approach. Childish.

For many years, Bishop Forester too had neglected his bottom-line obligation as a Catholic Shepherd – to call wandering sheep to obedience through the enforcement of Church discipline. But he finally realized that the wretched fruits of this irresponsibility stood in contradiction to the renewal it promised. When asked by one of his priests why he took so long to draw the line on abuses, he replied:

Who knows? Cowardice? Hypocrisy? Ambition? … Stupidity? Human respect? You can accuse me to your heart's content and I shall not deny you. I do no know; God knows. I can, however, rationalize my delay in drawing the line although, pray God, I shall never have the impudence to justify it … Pray for me.*

* Bryan Houghton, Mitre and Crook, 1979, pp. 42–43.

In the meantime, as they waited for a sign of remorse from the Bishop of Sandhurst, parishioners contented themselves with an apology already issued on his behalf by the Bishop of Rome. At the beginning of his Apostolic Letter on the Eucharist, Dominicae Cenae, issued on February 24, 1980, John Paul II made this remarkable plea:

I would like to ask forgiveness – in my own name and in the name of all of you, venerable and dear brothers of the Episcopate – for everything which, for whatever reason, through whatever human weakness, impatience, or negligence, and also through the at times partial and one-sided and erroneous applications of the directives of the Second Vatican Council, may have caused scandal and disturbance … And I pray the Lord Jesus that in the future we may avoid … anything which would weaken or disorient in any way the sense of reverence and love that exists in our faithful people.

— R. Michael McGrade, Death of a Catholic Parish: The Benalla Experiment, 1991, pp. 287, 292–293.

"At my Eucharist, you give the Sign of Peace"


Visiting Benalla on the first weekend of September 1989, I attended a Saturday morning Mass said by Fr. Welladsen in the F.C.J. convent chapel. At the Sign of Peace, there being no-one else in or around my pew I exercised my legitimate option not to partake in the head-nodding and handshaking which, in any event, I find most distracting and unsettling at that point in the Mass. Instead, I chose to kneel and wait for the all important Agnus Dei.

In prayer, eyes closed, I thought I felt something touch my hands but ignored the sensation, until the touching suddenly became tugging. Startled, I opened my eyes to find myself confronted by Fr. Welladsen who, having vacated the sanctuary for a hand-shaking tour of the chapel, had wandered some distance into the pew to wrap his hands around mine, all the while staring fixedly at me and saying, "Peace be with you, peace.…"

Shocked by this disruptive intrusion, I instinctively resisted the manhandling which only served to strengthen Father's resolve and he pulled me more forcefully, still repeating his little chant – "peace, peace." By this stage I was within a few inches of his face and our eyes met. There was nothing at all "peaceful" about his infuriated and fixed countenance which seemed more like that of a man experiencing significant inner turmoil. I said softly: "Father, return to the altar. That is where you belong at this moment of the Mass. Not down here." In retrospect a rather pathetic rejoinder but the only words of wisdom I could muster under the circumstances.

Still squeezing my hands, his mouth tightened and, between clenched teeth, he spat out: "At my Eucharist, you give the Sign of Peace!" He then continued his chapel tour before eventually returning to the altar.

The whole encounter probably lasted only twenty seconds.

— R. Michael McGrade, Death of a Catholic Parish: The Benalla Experiment, 1991, pp. 263–264.