In October

Where are they gone that did delight in honour
Abrupt and absolute as an epic ends,
What light of the Last Things, like death at morning,
Crowns the true lovers and the tragic friends?

Young priests with eager faces bright as eagles,
Poor scholars of the harp-string, strict and strong,
All the huge thirst of things irrevocable
And all the intolerant innocence that died young.

The dark largesse of the last gesture flinging
The glove in challenge or gold in sacrifice—–
Where are they gone that had delight in honour,
That the world grows so greedy and so wise?

Vow and averted head and high refusal
Clean as the chasm where the dawn burns white,
Where shall they go that have delight in honour
When all men honour nothing but delight?

Out of the infinite came Finality,
Freedom that makes unfathomably sure,
For only a wind of all the widest windows
Can close with such a clang that iron door:

The doors that cannot shut shall never open
Nor men make windows when they make not walls,
Though emptiness extend its endless prison
In the white nightmare of its lengthening halls.

Shall they not rise and seek beyond the mountains
That which unsays not and is not forsworn?
Where should they wander and in what other Eden
Find the lost happiness of the hope forlorn,

Look in what other face for understanding,
But hers who bore the Child that brought the Sword,
Hang in what other house, trophy and tribute,
The broken heart and the unbroken word?

This month of luminous and golden ruin
Lit long ago the galleys and the guns.
Here is there nothing but such loitering rhyme
As down the blank of barren paper runs,

As I write now, O Lady of Last Assurance,
Light in the laurels, sunrise of the dead,
Wind of the ships and lightning of Lepanto,
In honour of Thee, to whom all honour is fled.

(G.K. Chesterton)


Synod on the Family

Michael Brendan Dougherty tells it how it is in The Week. “In the next three weeks, I fully expect the leadership of my own One Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church to fall into apostasy, at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family that begins today in Rome.” And he is in no doubt what is responsible: the twenty-first ecumenical council and the liturgical monstrosities that followed.

The “New Mass” of the Second Vatican Council, in a halting and incomplete way, expresses a completely new theology, one that is nearly the opposite of Catholicism. Instead of Christ dying on the cross to redeem sinners, he dies on the cross because man’s dignity demands that he does so. The recognition of this supreme dignity of man at the Mass is not a sacrifice, but a memorial gathering. And this gathering foreshadows the as-yet-unrealized unity of all men, not the heavenly feast. Thus after the moment of consecration, instead of allowing Catholics a moment to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation and the sacrifice of Calvary, they stand up and nervously shake hands. Because it is not just a new religion, but a banal one.

The full-feed prelates who propose to desecrate the sacraments of Matrimony and the Eucharist are, he candidly explains, not only heretics they are apostates and idolaters. Read it and weep.

Quae patefacta sunt quaerere, quae perfecta sunt retractare, et quae definita sunt convellere, quid aliud est quam de adeptis gratias non referre, et ad interdictae arboris cibum improbos appetitus mortiferae cupiditatis extendere (Letter 162, to Emperor Leo I, l)

{To seek what has been discovered, to reconsider what has been completed, and to demolish what has been defined – what else is it but to return no thanks for things gained and to indulge the unholy longings of deadly lust on the food of the forbidden tree?}

Anyone ever got sucked into TV Tropes? I guess I survived two or three links to that procrastinational paradise (despite its name, it is not entirely, or even primarily, about TV) without serious damage, but then I was unlucky: I started reading, following links, reading, more links, discovering stuff with which to waste even more time, … I was undone. So that you get a fair chance of following my career, the friendly folks at TV Tropes have a random function you can click until you start to feel the surge.

I know better now. I keep away from TV Tropes.

My work, however, keeps forcing me to confront stuff I never wanted to know anything about, such as the construction and problems of ovens (don’t ask) and now, programming and even computer and GPS hardware. And for these issues, StackOverflow has proved to be an absolute life saver, again and again, even for utter noobs like me.

In a wave of enthusiasm engendered by simple gratitude, I registered as a user. And discovered that StackOverflow is only one community (though, I think, the most prominent) of a whole web ecosystem called StackExchange. They all focus on short, to the point questions that have not been asked before, to the point answers, no time-wasting discussions, and a reputation systems that seems to really work, because nearly always the answer voted “best” is the one that helps you.

I did NOT expect to have my productive energy sucked off by things like this, this, or, worst of all, this.

P.S. How do I justify this text? (Typographically, I mean. WordPress changed all the menus, help!) Berenike would be going mad if she saw this!

Vatican I

Tragedy is sometimes defined as the process by which a truly great man is brought to ruin by a sequence of events that commences with an error rather than a sin. St Pius X was a truly great pope and we owe him much. The calamities which encompass the Church at this time result from a heresy, the synthesis of all heresies, which he exhaustively defined and the remedy for which he prescribed in his great anti-modernist documents PascendiLamentabili sane, Sacrorum antistitum, Doctoris angelici and Postquam sanctissimus. Nevertheless, as time passes two acts of St Pius X’s pontificate stand out as serious prudential errors: the revised breviary and the codification of canon law. It is not that either of these documents is objectionable in itself but that the use of Papal authority entailed by their creation established a disastrous precedent for later popes. When St Pius V canonised the curial form of the Roman Rite he simply took one of the existing forms of the liturgy and permitted it to be celebrated by all priests of the Roman Rite. He did not create a ‘new rite’ (nor could he as such an idea had been anathematised by the Council of Trent), nor did he impede the celebration of any other legitimate usage of the Roman Rite of more than two hundred years standing. Likewise, the various collections of canon law produced more or less officially by the Popes up until the twentieth century were collections of the canons already issued by popes and councils over the preceding centuries. St Pius X proposed to repeal the preceding canon law and  replace it with a single integrated code. He significantly altered the immemorial breviary of the Roman Rite. While (unlike the Missal of Paul VI) it does not appear that St Pius X’s reforms were ultra vires, time would seem to have told that they were deeply imprudent.

There is nothing which the episcopate can do that the Pope may not do alone. The Pope has ordinary universal jurisdiction over the entire Church which he may always exercise unimpaired. The highest doctrinal judgments of the Supreme Pontiff are irreformable of themselves and not from the consent of the Church. Yet, as bishop Gasser remarked in the official relatio that preceded the vote of Vatican I on Pastor Aeternus (which defined these truths), “the most solemn judgment of the Church in matters of faith and morals is and always will be the judgment of an ecumenical council, in which the Pope passes judgment together with the bishops of the Catholic world who meet and judge together with him.” The definitions of ecumenical councils are not more definitive than those of the Popes but, all other things being equal, it is more fitting that Peter judge together with his brethren. This logic applies no less to the legislative than to the doctrinal sphere. The Pope’s authority must be ordinary else there would be no judge to determine if he had acted without warrant and the visibility of the Church would be threatened. Nevertheless, in practice, he should voluntarily exercise this universal authority over his brother bishops only extraordinarily.

This power of the Supreme Pontiff by no means detracts from that ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles by appointment of the Holy Spirit, tend and govern individually the particular flocks which have been assigned to them. On the contrary, this power of theirs is asserted, supported and defended by the Supreme and Universal Pastor; for St. Gregory the Great says: “My honour is the honour of the whole Church. My honour is the steadfast strength of my brethren. Then do I receive true honour, when it is denied to none of those to whom honour is due.”

Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus

Can it be said that the Pope is really exercising his power in this way when the overwhelming majority of the bishops in the world are appointed directly by the Pope, when canon law purports to compel them to resign at seventy-five, when the legislative decrees of the Councils have been set aside, when the liturgical traditions of millennia in the Roman (and now the Eastern) Rites are overthrown? And what would have resulted if the decrees of Councils had been observed? There would be no Novus Ordo for the 1970 Missal, in addition to breaching the dogmatic prohibition of Trent on ‘new rites’, is clearly nothing like the modest revision requested by Vatican II. There would be no Jesuits because Lateran IV expressly forbade the creation of new religious orders:

Lest too great a variety of religious orders leads to grave confusion in God’s church, we strictly forbid anyone henceforth to found a new religious order. Whoever wants to become a religious should enter one of the already approved orders. Likewise, whoever wishes to found a new religious house should take the rule and institutes from already approved religious orders. We forbid, moreover, anyone to attempt to have a place as a monk in more than one monastery or an abbot to preside over more than one monastery.

Lateran IV, Canon 13

Clerical careerism would cease with episcopacy, and the Cardinals would genuinely be the suffragans, parish priests and deacons of the Roman Church (to whom the promises of indefectibility were made not to a motley collection of international career prelates),  for translations from one diocese to another would be forbidden in accordance with the decrees of the First Council of Nicaea:

On account of the great disturbance and the factions which are caused, it is decreed that the custom, if it is found to exist in some parts contrary to the canon, shall be totally suppressed, so that neither bishops nor presbyters nor deacons shall transfer from city to city. If after this decision of this holy and great synod anyone shall attempt such a thing, or shall lend himself to such a proceeding, the arrangement shall be totally annulled, and he shall be restored to the church of which he was ordained bishop or presbyter or deacon.

NIcaea I, Canon 15

Would not a Church free of Jesuits, where the bishop knew that from the day of his consecration he had no one to please (or offend) but God, where the liturgies left to us by the fathers were preserved inviolate to the exclusion of all novelty, where well governed dioceses flourished over generations and poorly governed ones had no power of contagion, be a happier, holier and more Christ-like place than the sorry spectacle of imminent apostasy that affronts us today?


  1. The pollution of the prelates

  2. The assumption of the good

  3. The exclusion of just

  4. The desire of the just

  5. The stubbornness of sinners

  6. The multitude of sinners

  7. The driving out of charity and faith

  8. The denial of the articles of faith

  9. The ruin of sacred worship

  10. Universal opinion  


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