Ascension 2020

Here is today’s Mass of the Feast of the Ascension in the Use of Sarum. I did not prepare a sermon but simply gave a few simple reflections. I hope they make sense.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

First Sail of 2020

At long last, after a long and nasty winter and the lockdown back-to-back, I had my first sail of this year in my little Tabur 320. I made a series of short videos and they are joined together. Veules les Roses has a special place in my sailing history.

Veules les Roses is on the Normandy coast between Dieppe and Fécamp. It is very similar to the Sussex and Kent coast the other side of the Channel. There was very little wind, but I was at last sailing, in Σοφία, on account of the ease of launching from a beach. I sailed against the tide in order to be sure of being able to get back, so I sailed east towards Sotteville sur Mer, Varengeville and Dieppe. After a time there was too little wind to sail upwind, so I returned to Veules – very slowly downwind.

I mentioned the Clos Moutiers, a beautiful house designed by Edward Lutyens in the Arts & Crafts style.

Following my comments on bits of a ship which are still visible at low tide, I referred to the events of June 1940 when Veules les Roses was called “The Other Dunkerque“.

We are living in very odd times, but nothing as compared to the Spanish Flu and the two World Wars. I felt lightness and relief in the air to find people with their families and dogs enjoying the beach, the sunshine, the sea and nature. As I have said elsewhere, if we have a sense of gratitude and wonder, then we can find happiness even in adversity. This was certainly the case for me in my little boat.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

More on the Huntingford Helm Impeder

Here is a video I have just made about the Huntingford Helm Impeder as described on page 58 of Roger Barnes’ “The Dinghy Cruising Companion”. I have already written on this subject on Huntingford Helm Impeder. A video is a great help for seeing how it works, and – believe me – it is a great advantage to be able to take one’s hand off the helm for some reason whilst the boat is under way.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Fifth Sunday after Easter following the Use of Sarum – except for the idiots riding motorcycles at high speed during the ablutions and causing the dogs to bark! Perhaps it serves to show the incarnation of our liturgical life in the contingencies of this world.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A poignant but honest look at the independent Catholic scene

A website referred to an article I wrote quite a long time ago about the independent Catholic movement, as it is known most charitably. The article in question Can the Independent Sacramental Movement Be Revitalized? The article is long and rings true, and it is unclear what conclusion its author will draw from it. I would also recoil from his reference to occultism and magic, and I hope that he is not doing things that could land him in very serious trouble at a spiritual level.

In the past, I was quite impressed by men like John P. Plummer who have written books and done some serious study. John Plummer still has a page on Facebook, but rarely writes on it and never refers to any ministry as a bishop or a priest. Many do give up and seek a meaningful life elsewhere.

I remember as a student being fascinated by independent bishops – traditionalists, sedevacantists, western Orthodox, liberals, esoteric Christianity, just about everything one could imagine. I visited quite a few of them in France, and I knew a few in England who were hangers-on in Anglican parishes. The novelty of it all was quite stimulating, but the reality as it is encountered each time is a disappointment. I do know some independent bishops who do have active pastoral and humanitarian ministries, and I can only admire their constancy and courage. I have also known charlatans, sexual perverts and crooks, as can also be found in the mainstream Churches. As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I was encouraged to accept the episcopate for a small community of clergy and laity. It was a mistake on my part. In 2005 I joined the TAC under Archbishop Hepworth, and transferred to the ACC in 2013 when I found myself “shipwrecked”. I serve as a simple priest. Some ecclesial entities have credibility and others do not.

This article does not exactly exude optimism, and it is a sign of humility that the author of the article sees the limits of his own quality as a priest and his ecclesial perspective. The independent movement was modelled by historical circumstances, its roots in Old Catholicism and esotericism at the end of the nineteenth century. As prophetic vision gave way to men seeking ordination who would not have been acceptable to the mainstream churches, things began to change. Many of the early independent churches had about the same reason for existing and vision as the Continuing Anglicans of the present day. They had church buildings and lay faithful. The raison d’être of Old Catholicism was Jansenism in the eighteenth century and opposition to the extreme of Papal claims in 1870. Who cares about either of those issues today? Who tomorrow will care about the ordination of women, homosexuality and DIY liturgies? From the moment there are no laity, then the church exists only for the sake of ordaining priests and consecrating bishops for a more or less credible raison d’être. Another reason for existence was ethnic identity, especially in the USA, the Polish diaspora in particular. The Polish National Catholic Church has kept its stability, buildings and communities of lay faithful. Another, in England, was some kind of pro-uniate movement of Anglicans who sought Orders that Rome would have to recognise to give substance to the corporate reunion project.

The reflections on mission and commission are interesting, because these are aspects of ecclesiology – the theology of the Church. A church made up only of bishops and priests seems to be self-defeating. Even the traditionalist reaction against modern style liturgies and openness to dialogue with Protestantism is wearing thin. The article is of course written from the American point of view, particularly in regard to concepts of “church planting” and missionary work.

Another consideration is the way such independent churches were treated by the Roman Catholic Church: cast doubts on their mission and, particularly, the validity of their orders. Every independent church would be treated as an usurper intent on deceiving ordinary lay Catholics. This fact, like the Church of England in regard to the Continuum, has had a rarefying effect. The analysis without the tone of a conspiracy theory is quite cogent, which makes this article quite relevant to all of us.

He goes into questions like worship styles. I find the constant references to John Plummer very reassuring, since he is one of the more honest voices I have read. I find the reflection on the “level playing field” caused by the SARS-COVID-2 pandemic interesting. We have all been recording and streaming liturgies, they too. It is quite a confusing idea to imagine an ordinary lay person sorting out all the available services and sermons on YouTube and deciding which he will choose to lead his own prayer at home. How things will pan out after the lockdown is lifted is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps a new public relations strategy is needed and different priorities given from considerations of the validity of the bishop and his lines of succession.

Going by what he says, I hardly imagine myself in an American context. There are independent bishops and priests in France, and I am sure that some of them are noble in their intentions. Frankly some of them repel me for secondary reasons, and I have lost that fascination I had as a student. Most independent jurisdictions do not survive their founders. I sympathise with the desire for a profound vision and commitment, but how long do the good resolutions last?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Why Long Hair?

My revolutionary rant for today – why I have long hair. This is a short talk about my own choice for keeping my hair long, my cultural and religious reasons, but above all my affirmation of individual freedom against collectivist control in its various forms.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Fourth Sunday after Easter

This is the famous fourth Sunday after Easter and the superfluity of naughtiness that causes so much mirth in the front choir stalls of cathedrals, parish churches and school chapels alike. The Latin of St Jerome is less humorous or light-hearted: abundantiam
malitiæ, an abundance of malice (or wickedness).

It is difficult to imagine the scene as Jesus explained things very fully shortly before his passion and death. Who at that stage would understand the quid pro quo swap between a visible and bodily Jesus and a relationship with God at a more spiritual level?

In the last part of my sermon, I insisted on the unity of the Mystery of Christ as expounded by Dom Odo Casel and greatly admired by Fr Louis Bouyer (whose memoires I am now reading). You can read my old posts on Odo Casel and Liturgical Theology and Romantic and Patristic Liturgy in Louis Bouyer. I had another one of those “I knew it!” moments as I discovered that Bouyer had read Shelley, Coleridge and Keats. It all links up, and it takes a Romantic mindset to go beyond literalist Christianity. Of course, Christ was a Romantic in his own time, a shocking but cogent idea coming from the pen of Oscar Wilde.

Indeed the disciples had to make the transition from Jesus as their hero or leader to the transcendence each one of us would find within ourselves, the inner Christ. I certainly said something shocking at the end of my sermon, when I expressed the idea of much of Christianity being junk – insofar as the entire point is so often missed. We can be thankful that Tradition has bequeathed something of the Church of the Fathers. The work is ours to do.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment