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Tag Archives: Fr John Hunwicke

May 17th, 2016

Nasty and Dirty

I am delighted that so many people are strongly criticising the Pope’s latest apostolic exhortation. As you might expect, one of the best comments comes from Fr John Hunwicke:

 Many people very much more holy and learned than I am have spoken of the great riches and beauties which are to be found in Amoris Laetitia. Since, we are told, portions of it were added at the request of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I see no reason why this should not be true. But I think footnote 329 is thoroughly Nasty and Dirty. It is dealing with the idea that “remarried” divorcees might live together as brother and sister. But, in the course of doing this, it quotes Gaudium et Spes. Since the Conciliar Document is referring ad locum to the SPACING of families by married couples, this misrepresents the Council. It is always Nasty and Dirty to tell lies, particularly when it is a case of radically misrepresenting the teaching of an ecclesiastical organ … an Ecumenical Council … to which Christian people might feel they owed a duty of respect.

And, finally, this footnote appears to accept by implication the proposition that the Grace of God is not able to give Christian people the strength to live in accordance with His will. That is Nasty and Dirty. The Church has always taught that Chastity is within the reach of those who live in God’s grace. Millions of Christians have found this to be true.

Indeed, this repulsive little footnote really does draw back the lace curtain on the Nastiness and the Dirt to be found inside the Holy Father’s House of “Mercy”. Some people, we are informed, point out that if “remarried” divorcees live together without sex, one or both of them will be in danger of cheating on their new quasi-spouse. Surprise, surprise! One, at least, and perhaps both, have almost certainly already cheated on another and lawful spouse; is there really any reason why they should not cheat on a new and unlawful “spouse”? Go on: be realistic! Isn’t it what we should expect? And this footnote does not even put into the mouths of the “couple” the sentiment If we try to live as brother and sister we shall probably fall, and end up in bed together. That, at least, would be human and honest. And it could be given a gentle and understanding pastoral answer. But No! Footnote 329 says it is the “fidelity” of the new quasi-marriage which will be endangered. In other words, Cardinal Marx’s “remarried” divorcees are making the threat You’ve got to let us have sex together because if you don’t we’ll have sex anyway … BUT WITH OTHER PEOPLE!! So there !!!  A seedy lot, both the Cardinal and the adulterers he so enthusiastically sponsors.

However, since a new relationship has, by producing children, created new obligations, this situation should, we are often told, be accepted. If it is true that quasi-union II can do this, why should quasi-union III not do the same? The idea that Adultery can, as it were, be regularised by the emergence of a new economic unit, a second family, has endless ramifications!

Paradoxically, we should, I think, thank God for the very open Nastiness and Dirtiness of Footnote 329. At least we know where we are, and the sort of people we are dealing with.

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Talking of Nastiness and Dirtiness, I don’t suppose you knew that today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, for some reason shortened to IDAHOT. I don’t know what they mean by Biphobia. It literally means fear of the Number Two.
Anyway, an informant tells me that IDAHOT sent out fliers on social media to various worthy and not-so-worthy organisations asking them to become its “allies”. An official of one outfit which must remain anonymous announced on Twitter that they were an ally. Now, on Twitter there are no spaces in the #hashtags, so this person wrote  #IDAHOT#AnAllyTodayAndEveryDay. But
it’s worse in lower case… anallytodayandeveryday…

March 29th, 2016

What to Do about Newchurch Horrors

Concerning that  last blogpost on my experiences during Holy Week—in particular that Horrendous Handwashing…

My  big brother, who keeps an eye on this blog, has pointed out that when St Peter wanted Jesus to wash not only his feet, but his hands and his head also, Our Lord definitively ruled that out, saying: “He that is washed needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly.”  Quite so: most of us wash our hands every time we go to what our American cousins call the bathroom. So ritual handwashing of the laity on Holy Thursday is not only liturgical nonsense, being connected  with Pontius Pilate’s futile and hypocritical gesture; it’s also contrary to  the express command of our Saviour.

On the whole business of exposure to Newchurch horrors, I think one may safely follow the advice of Fr John Hunwicke, in this as in so much else:

People sometimes do me the honour of asking for solutions to problems … which is one reason why I endlessly reprint my old articles on how the Novus Ordo may be (as it is commonly done) an unpleasant experience but no way is it invalid. Abuses do not make a Mass invalid. (I imagine these articles can easily be found via the search engine attached to the blog.) But I don’t think I’ve ever tried to offer an answer to what a devout Catholic might do if he/she has no choice but to fulfil the Sunday Obligation by his/her presence at a Mass which in important repects is contra mentem Ecclesiae (perhaps, for example, because of its disobedience to the rubrics and the GIRM).

I do have some experience of this unpleasant dilemma: I had to spend fifteen months ‘in lay communion’ after we joined the incipient Ordinariate. And in so many churches, the problems are considerable. I do know.

Even Bishop Richard Williamson is prepared to discern patches of sunshine in what he calls the Newchurch. I would advise everybody whose local church does the Novus Ordo decently to join their fellow-Catholics in praying that Mass devoutly. But there are very many churches in which (to give an important example) the First Eucharistic Prayer is never used; and, even worse, hundreds of churches in which, at Sunday Mass, the second Prayer is invariably used, despite the very clear language of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. This latter I would regard as a very serious abuse. In such circumstances, what is one to do?

It is, I think, advisable to consider the possibility of reverting to habits which sanctified Christians in many earlier centuries. If you foresee that, by Communion time, your mind is going to be full of irritated thoughts about the illegalities and irreverences you have experienced, it is probably best not to receive Holy Communion. Most people, through most of the Church’s history, have ‘received’ very rarely. This abstinence can have the effect of making your much rarer communions more significant. Old-fashioned books of devotion used to suggest forms of devotion on preparation for Communion to be said on the Friday and Saturday evenings beforehand.

Does the church have a quiet corner near the back, or behind a pillar, where you might be able, without being too conspicuous, to kneel quietly down and to pray the Rosary throughout Mass? Millions, over the years, have done that for centuries. But DON’T make a show of it.

Or might you prefer to take your Missal along and prayerfully go through the propers of the Day’s Mass? If you do that, I would recommend that you ‘labiate’; i.e. gently and inconspicuously move your lips silently as you read the words. (Clergy do this with regard to the Divine Office.) Otherwise, the risk is that your eye will just slide down the page without your really ‘inwardly digesting’ anything. Remember that the celebrant will probably be using the ultra-short pseudo-Hippolytan dewfall-in-the-Trattoria-in-the-Trastevere shall-we-order-another-bottle Eucharistic Prayer (or else something even iffier), so it might be best to start the Secret, Preface, and Canon in good time. Do not fail to break off and to worship most devoutly when the celebrant gets to the Consecrations. At Communion time, remember that the people moving around you have God Incarnate within them. Try not to feel superior to them, because there are rumours that God rather dislikes that sort of thing. And, in any case, you aren’t. Considering the graces that have been lavished on you, why are so much less holy than your fellow-worshippers to whom God has not given nearly as much?

Indeed, all through the Mass remember that (even if you are the only person there, possibly, who understands this) you are present at the Most Holy and Adorable Sacrifice, the Oblation of the Incarnate Word, the Immolation of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

This is what the Church means by Actuosa Participatio.

ON NO ACCOUNT start persuading yourself that, for some reason, you might be exempt from your Sunday Duty. You aren’t. Don’t go there.

I’m sure some readers will have other, far better, ideas.

September 10, 2014

Flaky Masses ARE Valid

Are you  tempted, as I sometimes am, to feel that Novus Ordo  Masses celebrated by a Fr  McFlake  or a  Fr  O’Fudge can’t possibly be valid  because they don’t believe they are offering the Holy Sacrifice but merely presiding over  what I once heard  one such priest describe as a “family meal” ?  Over the past few years I have quite often fretted about this. After all, I have asked myself, if a priest does not intend to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord, making truly present the one Sacrifice of Calvary,  then how he can he possibly be intending to do what the Church does ?   How he celebrate the Mass if he doesn’t even believe in it?

Now, thanks to that very wise priest of the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham,  Fr John Hunwicke, my doubts on this score have been dissipated. In his blog Mutual Enrichment, he dealt with the very problem I have raised here, quoting the great Counter-Reformation theologian St Robert Bellarmine.  Fr Hunwicke writes:

This anxiety does deserve an answer. It deserves an answer based not upon modern or trendy theological speculation but upon the settled teaching of the Church, upon which she has for centuries acted when doubts or worries have arisen. And the locus classicus here is St Robert Bellarmine, de Sacramentis in Genere chapter 27 paragraph 8.  As you read it, remember that Bellarmine was not writing during a period of cosy and iffy ecumenism, but when the Reformation controversies were raging at their height. [Quotation from Bellarmine follows.]

“There is no need to intend what the Roman Church does; but what the true Church does, whatever that True Church is. Or what Christ instituted. Or what Christians do. Because these all amount to the same thing. You ask: What if someone intends to do what some particular and false church does, which he himself believes to be the true one – for example, the church of Geneva; and intends not to do what the Roman Church does? I answer, even that suffices. Because the man who intends to do what the church of Geneva does, intends to do what the universal Church does. For he intends to do what such-and-such a church does, because he believes it to be a member of the true Universal Church, granted that he is mistaken in recognising the True Church. For the error of the minister about the Church does not take away the efficacy of the Sacrament. Only defect of intention does that.” [End quotation from St Robert Bellarmine].

“Geneva”, of course is a reference to the stamping ground of the great heresiarch John Calvin. Bellarmine means that, provided the celebrant is a validly ordained priest and uses real wheaten bread and real wine, the only thing that invalidates his “Mass” is if he deliberately says to himself  “I do not intend to celebrate the Lord’s Supper”. And that is infinitely improbable. Father Daft is much more likely to think that his own totally wonderful understanding is closer to the mind of the Lord in his Supper than are the “views” of those boring “establishment” clergy. The more grossly misguided his opinions are about what the “Supper” really is, the more humanly certain it is that Fr Daft really does intend to celebrate it. And, says Bellarmine, that is a sufficient intention.

Phew! That’s a relief.  It does really make sense. After all, even a Moslem or other non-Christian  can baptise validly if he uses the right form (the words) and matter (water) when, say, he is asked to do so by a mother whose new-born baby is in danger of death.  He knows nothing about baptism except that it is something Christians do. His action is certainly valid, but if it depended on his personal beliefs, it wouldn’t be. And the same goes with Fr Daft and the Blessed Eucharist.  Fr Hunwicke concludes:

So if, by misjudgement, you were present at a Mass where (I imagine an improbably extreme case so as to put the point I’m making beyond doubt) the priest wore jeans and made up a lot of the prayers himself and Sister A strummed on a guitar and Sister B stood beside Father and pretended to concelebrate and the altar was a plywood coffee table and some floozies did a belly dance at the Offertory … then, wotta mistaka to maka by going there in the first place, but having done so you should kneel and worship the True Body and the True Blood of Christ, because they are truly present.  And do not be anxious about receiving Communion in a church where both forms of the Roman Rite are in use; do not bother about hosts consecrated at a Novus Ordo Mass having been mixed up in the Tabernacle with those consecrated at a Traditional Mass. Because THE BODY OF CHRIST IS THE BODY OF CHRIST.  And the Mass is the Mass, whatever the rite, however perverse its celebrant may be.

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Allo Allo

Readers may be puzzled by “wotta mistaka to maka.”  I recognised it because it comes from one of my favourite television programmes Allo Allo , a take-off of war films about the French Resistance. It’s the catchphrase of the Italian Captain Alberto Bertorelli , who always uses it  when things go wrong.

Almost every character in the series is a stereotype carried to the nth degree. The two British airmen Carstairs and Fairfax are archetypal upper-class twits, who disguise themselves as onion-sellers and can’t understand why the French curse them when they cycle on the left-hand side of the road;  the Gestapo officer Herr  Flick wears a black leather overcoat and has an exaggerated limp;  Captain Bertorelli is a womaniser who often uses the phrase “Da Beautiful a-Liedy I kiss-a de ‘anda”.  All the French female characters are either tarts or aged crones.

The main character Rene Artois is a café owner who just wants a quiet life.  Although he’s not in the least good-looking, he’s reluctantly and fearfully deceiving  his  wife and having affairs with  his waitresses who are all in love with him.  Much to his embarrassment,  the effeminate German army lieutenant Hubert  Gruber fancies him as well. The Resistance mistakenly  consider him  a hero, and the Germans wrongly think he is a useful collaborator.

Fr Hunwicke’s  appreciation of Allo Allo is another reason why I approve of him.

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Liturgical Contrast

I met Fr Hunwicke in July for the first time. He was one of the lecturers at the symposium we attend at Lake Garda, where he displayed a form of dry, wry wit which often reduced the (largely American) attendance to helpless laughter.

In the course of explaining what the Anglican Ordinariate was about, he compared the two shrines of Our Lady at Walsingham in Norfolk.  One, he said , was schismatic and their Masses  began with “I will go up to the altar of God, to God who giveth joy to my youth.” Or you could attend the  shrine of the One True Church, in which case the first, sublime, words you would hear were always : “Good morning, everybody!”