Friday, March 31, 2006

Latin Levity

A bit of silliness. I let the Young Fogey have the opportunity to use part of my translation of this dreadful song oft sung (regrettably) in Anglican Circles. I translated it into Latin so at least I wouldn't have to look at it in its full banality at Mass! I think you can probably guess what it is from the refrain!

V: Domine, lux amoris tuae fulget, fulgens in medias tenebras; Jesu, Lux Mundi, nobis adfulge, libera nos per veritatem quam nunc nobis adfers. Adfulge mihi, adfulge.

R: Fulge, Jesu, fulge. Hanc terram gloria Patris imple. Arde, Spiritus, arde. Corda nostra accende. Flue, Flumen, flue gratia et misericordia gentes inunda. Domine, emitte verbum tuum et fiat lux.

V: Domine, veni ex tenebris in conspectum numinosum tuumet in lucem tuam. Per sanguinem licet mihi ut splendorem tuum intrem. Me perscrutare, me tempta, tenebras meas totas consume. Adfulge mihi, adfulge.

R: Fulge, Jesu, fulge. Hanc terram gloria Patris imple. Arde, Spiritus, arde. Corda nostra accende. Flue, Flumen, flue gratia et misericordia gentes inunda. Domine, emitte verbum tuum et fiat lux.

V: Sicut splendorem regalem tuum contemplamur, sic vultus nostri exhibeant imaginem tuam, gloriam gloria mutantes, vitae nostrae acta tua, hic reddita, narrent. Adfulge mihi, adfulge.

R: Fulge, Jesu, fulge. Hanc terram gloria Patris imple. Arde, Spiritus, arde. Corda nostra accende. Flue, Flumen, flue gratia et misericordia gentes inunda. Domine, emitte verbum tuum et fiat lux.

Fulge, Jesu, fulge. Hanc terram gloria Patris imple. Arde, Spiritus, arde. Corda nostra accende. Flue, Flumen, flue gratia et misericordia gentes inunda. Domine, emitte verbum tuum et fiat lux.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Apologia pro vita mea I

Apologies for the title. I'm not claiming to be another Father Newman (as if I could!), but it makes sense for me in my present state of existence to write down a few words about why I believe what I believe.

First and foremost, I find myself being pressured into silence by local agencies and the local ethos. It seems to me that the Church of England is choosing the easy way to "attract" more members through flashing lights, funky music, modern liturgies expressing modern thoughts, and an all-inclusive ministry (including people who don't believe in God, or don't believe in the authority of His word). These members do not stay, but soon evaporate into the aether when things go wrong. The Lord did not tell the parable of the sower for nothing. I try to say my piece, to challenge the status quo but am silenced for being a pedant.

For seed to grow it needs soil. The soil is the Church, for the Word of God grows within the soil, and this soil needs to be deep. The Church is perfect for this because it has the depths of centuries of teaching and worship which has not changed, a good fertile soil which has borne much fruit and been a place of refuge for the weary soul.

I am being described as stubborn, a stick-in-the-mud, Lord Carey has called me a heretic (not personally you understand!), a morphobic, a bigot!

Are these insults? Are these thrown at me to tell me that I am in the wrong or to make me "see sense"? I will ready to admit to being stubborn, pedantic, stuck in the mud, because these are true and, in my mind, not always bad things. I simply refuse to conform to the world's-eye view of how things ought to be. In the Bible, particularly in the Prophets, I see time and time again the faith and worship of God embellished (i.e. tainted) and watered down by thinking that does not come from God. This whole theme is re-iterated in the letters of St Paul, particularly the letter to the Galatians where the Christian were being pressured into becoming Jews again and living under the law.

Am I therefore being a hypocrite by living under a law myself, i.e. the "rules" of the "old Church", for not accepting the modernisation of the Church? Surely by preaching the rules, I am saying that following the rules is more important than following Christ? Does being a Christian mean that I am now allowed to commit adultery? No. If in the (unlikely, but still possible) event that I do, then it isn't the end of the world. If I honestly confess and repent, accepting my sin as my own fault and not passing it off on other people, and deeply apologise to God, I shall be forgiven. So what has the teaching of Christ actually changed? Nothing. Sins are still sinful, only by the blood of God are we set free. Thus lying with another man as with a woman is still sinful. It's not irredeemable, it doesn't make the people who commit this sin any worse than anyone else, or somehow under more judgment, but it is still sinful.

So should the Jewish laws on food and the like still be adhered to? Am I a sinner because I am wearing clothes made of two materials. The Lord threw out all the moneychangers and sellers in the temple courtyard, not because of what they were doing, but because they were stealing the space for Gentiles to come into the court to pray to God. The Court of the Gentiles was as near to God as the Jews allowed them to get. In casting them out, the Lord casts out all obstacles that prevent anyone finding God.

The Jewish food laws, et c. when emptily observed merely constitute obstacles to those that are new to the faith, or who are even curious. They are the first things that non-Jews see about our dear Jewish brothers and sisters and one can get the impression that this is all there is about them. However when observed as part of a lively faith, then they are glorious and mean so much. These food laws are meant to separate God's people (and the Jews have not ceased to be God's people) from those who are not God's people. The Passover is a wonderful example of the symbolism of the richness of detailed and apparently pernickety ritual, and is a joy to behold when the people actually believe what they are doing.

Likewise the ceremonial of the Anglo-Catholic Tradition shines through those who truly believe, but stifle and confound when peformed as empty ritual. The Jewish food laws pertain to ritual and to health: they do not pertain to morality, and neither do the rituals of the Church.

In the Church of England, I see too much ceremonial badly done, i.e. with no respect for the rubrics which have arisen from well-founded Tradition. For example, the Collects were designed with an oremus from the priest followed by a short silence so that all the individual thoughts and prayers could be collected together in the silence of the heart before being focussed on the intention of the Office or the Mass in the collect prayer. How many congregations read the collect aloud with the priest, or say it instead of the priest?

Okay, why am I letting these little things bother me? Who cares? I'm just being a pathetic little pedant out to make people's lives a misery with my know-all attitude and fault-finding, aren't I?

You might think that. I don't see it that way. I do this because I care. I care about the tiny little rituals and words for the simple reason that each one of them means something quite beautiful. The fact that the priest should not open his fingers after distributing the host for fear of letting a single stray particle of consecrated wafer fall by the wayside shows the amount of respect that he has for the Body of Christ Who (whether through Transubstantiation or not) is somehow present in that morsal.

The fact that the Church spent the best part of 5 centuries wrangling about the Christian Faith, putting them into 3 gloriously worded, and correct Creeds shows how much thought has been given to the subject, and then some Revisionist comes along and replaces them in the liturgy after a few years of planning with an Affirmation of Faith, designed to make it understandable to the person in the pew. These days Church of England priests seem to just make it all up on the spot. There is no common worship in the Anglican Church any more.

These Ceremonials are supposed to make worship rich and meaningful, laboured over with discipline and love. These Ceremonials can open the way to God in unseen ways, deeper than any experience. Yet they are done without that care and devotion these days, seen as a symbol which doesn't need the planning, working, or thought. So now they clutter the passageway to God like the moneychangers in the temple court. If a priest wants to do it, then let him do it properly, otherwise just put it away and read the prayerbook.

I am, of course, indebted to my friend, Ed Pacht, who has helped me in this expression of what I feel. I'm not a great feeler but fortunately, Ed's around to help me out in matters like this.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Hymn in Latin

It's just something I'm occasionally moved to do. I learned Latin at school and I loved it, but we were never taught to translate into Latin, only from Latin which is a shame. I love the English language dearly, but just sometimes I like to express my thoughts in a different language. I expect there are errors all over the place. Let me know if you spot any.

...and no, it doesn't scan.

Domine Benedicte, Deus Pretiosissime, Christe,
qui sanguinem sacrum effudit,
Accipe dona nostra gratulationum et laudum
propter tuam per totas vitas nostras benevolentiam.

Quinam nos sumus,
ut ad terram venire, cruciatus nostros accipere,
Deligere viscera Matris Virginis
et ignominiam, mortem et sepulchrum pati digneris?

Amor tuus nobis in aeternum manet, in manibus tuis nos portas.
Nosne ex pulvere et argilla ficti,
Laudes tuas annuntiare possumus?
Immo, vero, necesse nobis est!

Maritus Ecclesiae tu,
certe cor eius tu, spes tu,
Fons Divinus Noster tu;
Voluntates cordum nostrum sicut tuas forma.

Consilia in tua flectes, Domine,
et amorem tuum in pectora nostra repone.
Ex mentibus nostris scoriam occlusam remove,
quoniam omnia hic quaesita ibi erint dedita.

Tibi sint nunc Omnes Laudes, Care Pater Potens,
Tibi dentur vitae nostrae, Fili
Tibi gloria tota, Spiritus ignis noster
Qui animas et mentes incendes. Amen.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Science and Religion III: Hoc est corpus meum

Oh dear. I'm in trouble.

XXVIII. Of the Lord's Supper.

THE Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that
to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread
which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

This does seem to put me at odds with the twenty-eighth Article of Religion. Why? Because I believe in Transubstantiation. That's not to say I insist that everyone accept the doctrine of Transubstantiation. I do insist that the Presence of Christ is Real in the Sacrament, but I appreciate that some find an explanation as to how Christ is present contrary to the Mystery of the Sacrament. However, the doctrine of Transubstantiation for me best describes the Mystery, i.e. shows why it is mysterious: it doesn't explain the Mystery.

According to Aristotle, matter consists of two parts, the accident and the substance. The substance of a chair is the chair as itself, it is separate from notions of shape, size or texture which constitute the accident. Going back to the idea of observability and unobservability, the accident of the chair is that which is encountered by observation, the substance of the chair is of necessity unobservable.

Thus at the consecration in Mass, the substance of the the host (or wafer) is changed into the actual body of Christ; the accidents however remain unchanged. Simple, yes? This doctrine says what has happened, it doesn't actually say how it has happened, or where the substance of the wafer has gone. One could say that part of the Mystery is why the Lord bothers in the first place. Then we move into the Mystery of the Love of God which is a vast yet gloriously beautiful, ecstatic andbewildering place to be.

Transubstatiation only really works if the believer holds on to the idea of Aristotelian physics. There is no reason why anyone should hold to this, and I hope this explains why I don't insist on everybody holding to the same doctrine which I do.

What may strike you as odd is why a mathematician should hang onto Aristotelian Physics which is not apparently mainstream Science.

Actually I disagree. There is something inherently quantum about Aristotelian Physics. It talks about observables and unobservables, just as quantum physics does. Quantum physics states that the action of observation changes that which is being observed. If we know a particle's speed, then we don't actually know where it is. If we know where a particle is, then we don't know how fast it's going. One or other aspect of the quantum particle is unobservable.

Thus in quantum physics, matter has observable and unobservable quantities and qualities. Some of these quantities and qualities are potentially observable/measurable such as speed or position, and therefore do not disappear into the notion of spiritual existence as I postulated in part two. This does rather seem to indicate that at the instant a measurement is taken, a quality of the particle is translated to the observable (quantum-accidental) and another is translated to the unobservable (quantum-substantial) if one takes a quantum-Aristotelian point of view.

For some complicated structure as a communion wafer, it is simply not possible to chart the observable and unobservable parts. Thus there is the possibility of a quantum-Transubstantiation.

However, this is all beside the point. I'm not a great believer in quantum theory either, so this is all a little academic exercise for me. I accept Aristotelian Physics rather than quantum-Aristotelian physics, for the reason that Aristotelian Physics points to the transcendence of the observable which the eye does not see, nor the ear hear. It does not explain them, but merely stipulates the existence of the unobservable nature of Reality. It is there there that God Himself moves, unobserved and unobservable. After all, you cannot get any more real than God.

Excuse me!

This one was a bit hair-raising for me, as the first draft of it died with my computer yesterday afternoon. I spent a frantic few hours trying to write this again from scratch. Obviously God thought I'd written it wrongly the first time!

Sermon preached at St Peter and St Paul’s Church Swanscombe on 19th March 2006 basted on Exodus xx.1-17, 1 Cor I.8-25 and John ii:13-22

“George, don’t do that.”

Whatever it is that George is doing,
you can bet your boots
it’s not what you want.

“George, don’t paint the cat mauve”
What does George do?

That’s right,
a few moments later
a purple pussy cat is sitting
in front of the fire
looking exceedingly cross.

Why is it,
whenever you tell a child
“don’t do that”
they go and do it?

Well, child psychologists
reckon they’ve worked it out.

If you tell George
“don’t paint the cat mauve”,
George’s brain will hear
the word “don’t”
and say to itself,
what mustn’t I do?”

Then it hears
“paint the cat mauve”
and forgets completely
about the “don’t” bit.

Thus Tiddles undergoes
an unwarranted redecoration!

In short,
saying “don’t paint the cat mauve”
puts the wrong ideas into little heads!

It’s better to say something like
“put the paint on the paper,
Tiddles is happy
being a ginger cat.”

It works—most of the time.

It’s a shame then
that God knows nothing about
child psychology, isn’t it?


Look at the commandments.
“Don’t worship other gods.”
“Don’t make idols.”
“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”
“Don’t murder.”
“Don’t commit adultery.”
“Don’t steal.”
“Don’t tell porkies to get your neighbour in trouble.”
“Don’t eye up what your neighbour’s got.”

Apart from
“keep the Sabbath holy”
and “Honour Mum and Dad”
they are all don’ts.

Is it any wonder then
that we all break these commandments?

Isn’t God at fault for not
phrasing these commandments better?

We now have an excuse to give
when we break the commandments,
don’t we?

“It’s not my fault,
God phrased the commandments
in the wrong way.”

Some criminals have asked
for their sentences to be reduced
on the grounds that
they are genetically programmed
to be thieves and robbers,
that it wasn’t natural
for them to leave
other people’s
property alone.

Scientists have discovered
that it is not natural for human males
to be married to just one partner.

If it’s natural for us
to be thieves and robbers,
then why did God say
“don’t steal”
and “don’t commit adultery”?

What do you think?
Is the idea of sin out-of-date?


The interesting thing
is that the world still has a concept of sin.
Did you know that?
Do you believe it?

Oh yes,
the idea of sin is alive and well
out there in modern society.
However, sin isn’t something that you commit,
it’s something that only other people do.

Frank has an affair
with Andy’s wife, Linda.

Because they fell in love.
They haven’t sinned
by committing adultery,
they have fallen in love.

If this were in a Jane Austen novel,
or on Coronation Street,
this would appear as
some dreadfully romantic tale.

trapped in a loveless marriage with Andy,
at last saved by
the handsome and passionate
We would be swept up in the drama of it
and come to sympathise
with Frank and Linda,
despite the fact
that one of them is actually committing adultery.

Of course,
only Andy sees this as committing adultery.
But wouldn’t Frank if he were in Andy’s shoes?

Frank and Linda
say they haven’t committed adultery,
they’ve fallen in love.

They compound this further:
Andy wasn’t a good husband,
Andy was cruel,
Andy was to blame.

Who’s right?

Is it fair that Frank and Linda
should have had an affair?


Where is the love in this situation?

How can the situation
be resolved by accusations
from Frank and Linda
being thrown at Andy,
and accusations thrown back at
Frank and Linda?

But these accusations
are nothing more than excuses.
Frank and Linda are trying
to excuse their affair
by accusing Andy.

Andy is trying to excuse his failures
as a husband
by accusing Linda and Frank.

This situation cannot heal
until the excuses stop,
and Frank and Linda and Andy
recognise precisely the part
they alone have played
in the whole sorry situation.

When each one sees
where and how they have sinned
rather than look for
the blame elsewhere,
when each one accepts their responsibility,
then and only then,
with sincere apologies
will there be healing.


Excuses clutter situations like these.
They fill the heart with rights and laws,
just as the temple court was filled
with money changers
and market stalls
instead of making room
for people to come and pray to God.

No one can get through the crowds
and clutter to pray or to ask for forgiveness.

For a situation to heal
with the Love of God,
all the excuses have
to be driven out with whips
so that the truth alone remains.

Only then is room made
for God and person
to sit down and talk openly.
Only then is room made
for the sin to be brought out
and shown for what it is.
Only then,
by taking responsibility for that sin
and honestly repenting of it
can the cross of Christ remove
the stinking corruption
of sin.


God says
“don’t commit adultery.”

Science says, “that’s foolish!
It is not natural for a man
to be faithful to one wife.”
But the foolishness of God
is wiser than the wisdom of men.

God alone knows the full extent
and hurt that adultery
causes everyone involved.

Child Psychology says to God
“It is better not to use the word don’t.”
God says,
“how will my people know what sin is
if I don’t tell them?”

That phrase “Don’t steal”
does tell us that stealing
is clearly wrong.
God does credit His children
with some intelligence.

Unfortunately the World can’t see it.

The message of the Cross
is foolishness to those that are perishing.


In Lent,
we examine ourselves for the sins
that we regularly commit.
What excuses have you been making in your life?
How will you let the love of God drive them out?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Death of a Monster?

Slobodan Milosevic has died.

Of course, the media are now going around saying, "he's escaped justice". This attitude betrays such a foolish notion. What could human justice have done to him if he had been found guilty? Imprison him? Sentence him to death? The man had been in prison for five years and now he's dead?

There's something in human society that desires to see the look on the face of a man who has just been found guilty, for him to know that he's been caught fair and square. Is this what we wanted to see from Milosovic? Humanity was denied the trial of Hilter himself, though it did try and execute several of his henchmen.

What would trying Hitler or Milosevic actually achieved? Retribution, recompense, revenge?

Did we expect to put him in prison to correct him, to punish him, to rehabilitate him into society?

Let's face it, humanity has very little idea what true justice is. Once it's got someone whom it regards as a monster in its grasp (like Saddam Hussein) it either procrastinates so that it can decide what to do with him, or the lynch-mob does the job first.

If, as is widely believed, Milosevic and Hussain are the architects of much pain and suffering then how can the punishment of one man make up for all the suffering that he has caused?


Ecce Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi.

Why don't we leave the justice to God? He's got both Hussein's and Milosevic's judgment worked out, and a little thing like death will not stop it. Trouble is, He has got our judgment sorted out as well. What will that mean?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Continuing The Continuum

I find myself becoming more and more disaffected with the Church of England over many issues, all of which point to the fact that this branch of the Church is following the Zeitgeist rather than the Heilige Geist. If she continues then Cardinal Newman's prophecy will come true and all Catholics will have no choice but to regard her as a heretical sect.

Despite my disaffection, I am still a member of the Church of England, and I work within her praying for a return to the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of which I have always believed she is a part. However, I hear a myriad Catholic voices outside saying and believing pretty much what I believe - the voices of those in the Continuum.

The Continuum ought to be a really viable and strong force within Christianity. They all fix their sights on the contents of Holy Scripture, the Catholic Creed and the Catholic Tradition which they don't try to interpret for themselves as Affirming Catholicism is wont to do, but remain in obedience to the work of the Fathers and Doctors in the Church.

However, the Continuum is far from continuous. There are denominations all over the place that refuse to acknowledge each other or haven't found ways to fit together to produce a united unit against the tide of secularism, individualism, relativism, and revisionism that is rotting the Anglican Church away and is also causing damage to the edges of the Holy See.

A united Continuum would be a truly wonderful expression of the love of God. It would be able to stand against tide of modernism, yet while not being under the direction of Roman Catholicism would be in Communion with the Holy See working closely with her to spread the Catholic Faith into all the world. A united Continuum would form the coveted Via Media which Anglicanism has failed to provide through poor judgment.

In my experience, Anglo-Catholics form some of the most intelligent and reasonable folk (male and female) in Christendom. They have wide reading and sound theology and yet can contemplate the unthinkable. I have seen this in practice on the Anglo-Catholic Central message board which I urge all Anglo-Catholics to join and contribute to and learn from as I myself have learned.

My experience on the Board also indicates that Anglo-Catholics are all in great pain - mainly spiritual. The treatment by the Anglican Communion or the Holy See of some of these folk has caused much upset and bitterness. Under this treatment we become cynical, irritable and "spiky". Levels of encouragement are very low at the moment.

However, Anglo-Catholicism is low, but it is not dead. My own little branch - the Anglo-Papalists - seems virtually extinct in the C of E. The Saviour says "Unless a seed die, it can never bear fruit." If Anglo-Catholicism goes into this state of dormition, then it will rise more beautiful than ever.

So what does the Anglo-Catholic Continuum need?

  • Unity of purpose - to proclaim the Christian Faith in the love of Christ faithfully following Holy Scripture, the Catholic Creeds and the Catholic Tradition.
  • A Centre. The Tractarians had Oxford, the Roman Catholics have Rome, the Anglicans have Canterbury (technically Lambeth), what can the Anglo-Catholics call their own?
  • A means of working, studying and praying together. If someone were to set up a theological college, or institute, or Religious Community to study the Faith that the Continuum proclaims in its fragments then we would learn so much from each other and grow in love.

The Continuum has not made an impact on British soil -she is too fragmented. United, she could make her presence felt, she could grow and serve the community as she does in America. With the impending vote on women "bishops" occurring in the Church of England, there will be a great fragmentation to which the Continuum could minister in humility and love. I doubt that the hierarchies of any Continuum churches will actually read this blog, but if they do, this heartfelt plea from a little English Reader would be to find some way of uniting so as to help those who cannot accept the destruction meted out by Revisionism.