A Fragment on the End of History

I tend to get into somewhat big subjects these days. It is mid February and I haven’t sailed since last October. That alone is no reason to “go off one’s rocker”. Apart from some nasty onsets of anxiety in the morning or late at night, my life seems to be quite calm. I have been dealing with these questions since I was a little boy gazing out of the window of the daily bus from Kendal to Ambleside imagining that I could fly like a bird. O for the wings of a dove! I often have recurring dreams of a little girl dancing in a garden in the kind of clothes children wore a hundred years ago. I have no idea of who the little girl would be.

Modern psychiatry has given me a term for people who have traits in common like hypersensitivity and a certain allergy to what most people would term real life, the world, our own times, the here and now – and deceitful sophistry. It is a certain reaction against a certain form of rationalism that removes the spiritual and emotive content of what it is to be human. The ultimate nightmare of this would be the large business corporation or any state bureaucracy. Psychiatry calls the condition high-functioning autism, or, a few years ago, Aspergers Syndrome. These traits are different from person to person, making an empirical diagnosis difficult – but they seem to point in another direction. I was predisposed to seeking a different understanding to life, an experience of life that would handicap me in many ways, like getting through school, seminary, being employed in jobs, marriage and relations with my family of origin. The scientific words are just that, words to help with understanding at a rational level. The rest of the human being I am has had to be sounded out, explored, made to understand at a deeper level. All this may sound like narcissism, but no more than the long work of C.J. Jung as he sought self-knowledge in order to help his patients. If such self-knowledge can help me be a better priest and more compassionate with others, then it can only be a good thing. This is a part of my blog, even when I produce texts from 219 years ago which convey another message to the different culture and humanity we are in 2018.

I have often thought about the concept of the end of history – not the Apocalypse involving the destruction of this earth, the death of us all and the final triumph of Christ – but a certain attitude that has grown since the end of World War II in 1945 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This attitude seeks to find a definitive and immobile character in our own times like that of Napoleon’s victory in Saxony in 1806, the “world spirit” of Hegel represented by the triumph of France. This was to be a golden age of humanity. It didn’t last. Ours won’t either.

We heard the same cant in 1989 when I was a young student in Switzerland, the end of Communism and the final victory of capitalism. Now, several banking and financial crashes, we live in a world of increasing difference between billionnaires and the hopeless homeless. What is money? Most of us have lost any understanding of the concept since the end of the Gold Standard. I know just about zilch about economics, and the idea of the subject depresses me, but the world of money is hardly triumphant or for the common good of all. We are all on the edge, curbing our expenses and still struggling to keep our bank accounts straight.

Political debate is ever more polarised, puerile and concerned with self-interest than the common good. Finally, we are looking at radical Islam, terrorism and war, increasingly levels of surveillance with the use of modern technology. The nightmare far exceeds that of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – and indeed we are faced with the prospect of cloning and artificial life. Many of us have come to believe that mankind cannot survive these trends and developments. We would go out, not with a bang but with a whimper.

Another sign of our times is one of nostalgia and longing, and this is what fires my appeal to the Romantic movement of two hundred years ago. Then, there was Napoleon, and now we have Trump and Putin! We have not entered the last times or the end of history, but the beginning of a new cycle. About twenty years ago, I had a friend in Paris who introduced me to a remarkable man by the name of Jean Phaure. He had been born in Indo-China and only ate Vietnamese food. He was fascinated by eastern religions and Hinduism inparticular. He would certainly have enjoyed knowing Dom Bede Griffith who combined Benedictine monastic life with the way of gurus and wise men in India. Phaure’s central thesis was the cyclical notion of history like in sacred Hindou writings. He gave me a copy of Le Cycle de l’Humanité Adamique and Les Portes du IIIe Millénaire. Admittedly, there is some New Age influence, but also the moderating influence of philosophers like Nicholas Berdyaev and other visionary Russians, which took me down a road on which I have continued ever since. I occasionally pull Phaure’s books out and read through a chapter on a particular subject, and find that my own sensitivity and understanding of things has changed and evolved.

I do see history going round in circles. I see so many parallels of the early nineteenth century – little Chinese children working excessive hours in factories without proper safety precautions. Care for the poor was a characteristic of Romanticism. Globalism replaces the guillotined King and that Corsican Emperor beaten by the British at Waterloo. With the downfall of liberalism, we face a new expression of authoritarianism and restrictions of movements of people. We don’t find any parallel, at least not yet, of the totalitarianisms of the 1930’s, but many things are changing as they did before.

I am not so sure of the likelihood of a really serious war that would kill us all in a nuclear holocaust. The USA and North Korea continue to rattle their sabres, but there are no mushroom clouds – as yet. May that continue, as I believe that God has protected us before in the Cold War era… The Middle East is in a dreadful situation. I hardly see it as a symptom for some smug “end of history”. World War III could still happen, however.

Many men in positions of power and knowledge of what goes on foretell the end of the economy and what would happen to us without modern technology or even electricity. Might we envy those who lived in the 1790’s and knew nothing of what we know and have experienced? Might we return to Nazism or what China would do if they took over the world? The worst they can do is kill us. Did not Christ tell us not to fear those who can kill the body, but those who kill both soul and body? Death does not always come quickly and peacefully – torture still exists in this world!

Europe is a bloody mess. Brexit is more or less damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The only England I have left is my father in extreme old age, my brother and sisters, but above all my romanticised daydreams helped by listening to the more pastoral and impressionistic music of Vaughan Williams. My Bishop and fellow priests in the ACC give me something more of an England in which I arrive almost as an alien each time. I almost feel surprise with the ease at which my passport is checked by Immigration at the port and I am waved through. I was born in England and have the right to enter the country whenever I want, but I am as much an alien there as here in France. I suppose if Brexit goes through, the French would give me a residence and work permit, and I’ll ask for dual nationality. I suppose it would be like in the old days. Though I sympathise with British nationalism and our sovereignty, we cannot expect to leave the Mafia and not get shot in both knee caps and perhaps sent to the bottom of the sea with heavy chains and weights! Again, the EU might crumble and fall as the Soviet Union did in 1989, and someone will cash in on it. What a bloody world! Do you wonder why I dream and yearn like a Romantic?

The way things are going, it looks like the end of history, and Armageddon can happen if the earth gets hit by an asteroid or Yellowstone super-volcano blows, resulting in more than the glooom over Geneva in 1816. That’s an understatement. Again, the worst that can happen to us is that we die of something, probably of natural causes.

The “Enlightenment” we now face is an analogy of the old one that brought Robespierre and the guillotine. The thinkers are the first to lose their heads! We also face the worst nightmares of science fiction like combinations of humanity and machines. Atheists entertain the illusion that they can have their brains frozen at immense cost to overcome mortality! Their bodies will be dead and will remain dead. However, some of these developments may bring us to the worst dystopia ever imagined. Our species might destroy ourselves and God’s judgement may have very little to do with it.

That is “realism”. Delusion? Illusion? Madness? I think we can see and experience our life in a different way. What we see and experience is only a narrow part of the spectrum of reality outside our world. For this, I thank God and the intuitive consciousness. This is why my life is now dedicated to this new vision and a new reality, that of the Blue Flower, the other world, the Kingdom of God.

What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

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I have discovered this text of Novalis that I would consider to be of capital importance in understanding our own times. We had the Reformation, the French Revolution and the Terror, and finally, Communism and Nazism, and now the spectre of Globalism and Islam.

Die Christenheit oder Europa translated into English. It was written in 1799, exactly two centuries before the Berlin Wall came down. In the language of the time (we are not reading it in German), it seems dreamy and emotional, the way I often feel in my final moments before sleep at night. Europe was definitely “post-Enlightenment” as we are now “post-Modern”. What a coincidence! Robespierre’s Revolution was a child of the Enlightenment and destroyed its progenitor.

In our own times, we have had the second World War, and since then peace has been enforced by the emergence of the modern European Union, which too will go the way of Louis XVI and the Kingdom of France. Peace has only been superficial with the Cold War and the Allied control over Germany until Nazism could no longer have a serious prospect of being revived. We look to a Catholic Europe, not one dominated by ideology and a Papal absolutism that no longer exists, but a higher vision of universality. Novalis’ nostalgia was not simply a yearning for childhood and the past.

The difference in Romanticism à la Novalis is that we mourn our dead and move on to a new future. If certain things from the past can be reinstated, there would be a basis to build a future which is impossible with current paradigms. Again, our world is being stripped of reason and feeling, imagination and love, and replaced by brute forces of power and money. How would Novalis react if he came back to this world of 2018? Probably as I would if I saw the twenty-third century, a charred ruin or a universe of inimaginable technology. Even the latter at what price? Mortality and a brief life are necessary, because there is only so much we can take. My father at nearly ninety is overtaken by everything even though his mind is as sound as a bell.

Modernity is passing away and we don’t know what is in store. Globalism is said to be on its way out. With Islam, humanity can take only so much fanaticism and cruelty like under the Nazis and the Japanese during World War II. I can understand Pius XI’s attempt at creating a new Christian order with the notion of Christ ruling us from within rather than our being bullied from without by Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. Were we to be spiritual and moral, we would have no need of external constraint and tyranny.

It all seems as impossible as the Orffyreus perpetual motion machine. We cannot turn the clock back, nor would such be desirable. We have the experience we have, technology, a different way of life and thought. Novalis saw evil in both Enlightenment and religion, but became a Roman Catholic shortly before the end of his life. He found fault with the RC Church for having become a corpse and that Rome’s rule had come to an end long before the violent insurrection. The Reformation destroyed what was already dead, and so did the French Revolution and Communism, and Islam is doing the same today, bringing the world round full circle. Even with his realism about the fall of the institution, the eternal and mystical Church remained. Restoring the old power of the Papacy would be impossible because we have experienced Protestantism and Enlightenment, and now the world we know but that Novalis never saw.

I have read many things on this theme by Josef Ratzinger, doubtlessly influenced by Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Goethe and the other Idealists. We are held in a constant dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. It is for us to discern the new synthesis and wisdom in the midst of the chaos. So many times, he spoke and wrote about faith and reason: one without the other brings evil.

I invite you to print out and read this piece by Novalis. It isn’t easy. If we make this effort, I am sure we will be rewarded by a refreshed vision and the capacity to dream and make our future.

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Questo Stronzo di Paolo Sesto

In the light of the upcoming canonisation of Pope Paul VI, and my attention drawn to the Rad Trad blog, I find this posting on Fr Gregor Hesse Contra Mundum. I find a link to an earlier article on this eccentric Austrian priest who spent many years in America and Rome, and appealed to the more radical of conservative political opinions. I remember his exclamation – Questo stronzo di Paolo Sesto when referring to Paul VI and the reforms in the Roman Catholic Church. The word stronzo in Italian is extremely offensive, usually used by bad-tempered Roman motorists afflicted with road rage.

I think I have said all I know about this priest who died some years ago in his early fifties from diabetes. I spent some time with him in 1990, and he wasn’t always very kind. His stated opinions about politics and church politics were quite shocking insofar as he advocated returning to the days of the Papal States and public executions by guillotine in the Vatican.

As for Pope Paul VI, he died when I was nineteen years old, a loyal organist in an Anglican parish and working in a music shop. I had vaguely heard that he was against contraception, and it seemed to be the post important issue at the time. I also knew that he had approved a rite of Mass that was like our awful modern-language Series III. The impression we Anglicans had of Roman Catholics is that they were neurotic children in need of some authority to keep them from committing the usual sins. It seemed that Papa Montini was heavy-handed only with Archbishop Lefebvre in the hot summer of 1976 -when I was holding the notes for the organ tuner or sweltering in the workshop at Harrison’s!

My view of Paul VI was more than anything founded on reading August Bernard Hasler’s, How the Pope Became Infallible and all the juicy stories about the Vatican Bank and P2 in Yallop’s In God’s Name. There is enough to make people very angry and keep a very dim view of the Roman Catholic Church. On one side, keep the faithful like docile infants whilst having them buy cheap and not-so-cheap baubles in the bondieuserie shops in Rome and Lourdes – and have them turn a blind eye to organised crime and corruption of the kind that would have the bloated corpse of Alexander VI spinning in his triple coffin! It would seem that Paul VI in his divided Hamlet fashion between the Catholic citadel of Pius IX and Jacques Maritain’s “integral humanism” philosophy – all based on Charles Maurras in some way – was trying to run the Church like the infallible Pius IX with the mad staring eyes (nineteenth century photographs didn’t always do justice). Paul VI vacillated between the old Roman Ultramontanism and the more sophisticated French philosophical theories.

Doubtlessly, Montini was a pious priest, said Mass and Office each day and read the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church. The stuff about the miracle attributed to him is highly suspect. There is no evidence, only the claim of a person who prayed “Blessed Paul VI, heal my illness” and whose sickness went into remission. There is only a coincidence, no proven causal relationship. This whole project of canonising Paul VI smells of ideology and the policies of the present Pope.

Which twentieth century Popes have been canonised? The pattern is easy.

  • Pius X was canonised by Pius XII in 1950, doubtlessly on account of his aggressively anti-Modernist stance.
  • Benedict XV has not even been beatified, whilst he did all he could to bring the Church through World War I and soften the hard line repression of Modernism under Pius X.
  • Pius XI condemned Communism and Nazism and was highly critical of Mussolini’s Fascism. It is in this context that he formulated the cult to Christ the King. It is better to have Christ as our Leader and Führer than Hitler! He has not been beatified either.
  • Pius XII has also been passed over in spite of his efforts to save Jews and Allied servicemen from the Nazis whilst preventing the Vatican from being invaded and destroyed.
  • From John XIII onwards, all the deceased Popes are canonised or are in process of being canonised. The reason is manifestly the aggiornamento and the iconoclasm (“wreckovation”) in the Roman Catholic Church since the 1960’s and 70’s.

Why is Paul VI or John Paul II more holy than Pius XI or Benedict XV?

I swam the “river” to the traddies in 1981 and tried to live my ideals and desires, and knew that I had made a big mistake. Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum. My time with the monks, also to some extent at seminary, showed a more profound kind of religion, but all the same bound up with totalitarianism and collectivism. The best thing I did was to study theology at Fribourg University. Roman Catholicism earned for itself a reputation of needing people to be little children and brought to salvation through treats and punishment. Some individuals through history became saints and heroes in spite of the institution – though their nobility of spirit and sublime vision and experience of life. They were only Roman Catholics in the way J.S. Bach, Göthe and Novalis were Germans. Beauty and transcendence come from the person, not from the surroundings.

There is Catholicism in spite of the institution, and that applies to all institutional Churches, including my own – in differing degrees. It takes a lot of courage to get over the crest of the hill, accept the disillusionment and the blinding revelation on losing the cognitive dissonance, and arriving the other side with a faith based on the life of the spirit and the desire for the divine. There are no true and false Churches, only Churches with their bishops, priests and people participating in the life of the Eternal Church. As I spit out this bitter poison of papal ideology, I leave my readers with this meditation on the Church from the Prose of the Dedication in the Parisian rite:

Jerúsalem et Sion fíliæ,
Cœtus omnis fidélis cúriæ,
Melos pangant jugis lætítiæ.

Christus enim norma justítiæ
Matrem nostram despónsat hódie,
Quam de lacu traxit misériæ

Hanc sánguinis et aquæ múnere,
Dum pénderet in crucis árbore,
De próprio prodúxit látere
Deus homo.

Formarétur ut sic Ecclésia,
Figurátur in prima fémina,
Quæ de costis Adæ est édita
Mater Eva.

Eva fuit novérca pósteris ;
Hæc est mater elécti géneris,
Vitæ portus, ásylum míseris,
Et tutéla.

Hæc est cymba qua tuti véhimur ;
Hoc ovíle quo tecti cóndimur ;
Hæc cólumna, qua firmi nítimur

O sólemnis festum lætítiæ,
Quo únitur Christus Ecclésiæ,
In quo nostræ salútis núptiæ

Justis inde solvúntur prǽmia,
Lapsis autem donátur vénia,
Et sanctórum augéntur gáudia

Ab ætérno fons sapiéntiæ,
Intúitu solíus grátiæ,
Sic prævídit in rerum série
Hæc futúra.

Christus jungens nos suis núptiis,
Recréatos veris delíciis,
Intéresse fáciat gáudiis
Electórum. Amen.

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More from the Rear End

My old friend in California, John Bruce, is having another go in So, What’s Really Going On At St Mary’s?

He doesn’t allow comments on his blog, so I will exercise my right to a response here.

His “regular correspondent” tried to conjecture how Mrs Deborah Gyapong, Christian Campbell and I tried to understand the problem of Archbishop Hepworth, especially when the endgame was over – by about 2012. I have discovered that one can become quite unstuck by trying to attach psychological labels to people. Perhaps all I would say of my former Ordinary whom I had esteemed and treated with gratitude is that he had traits suggesting lack of empathy, manipulativeness, total lack of practical judgement and the characteristics of a bully. I discussed these issues with someone who knew him intimately, and he was more hurt than I was for other reasons which I will not discuss here.

Mrs Gyapong wanted to see the best and noblest motives in him. The trouble is that the evidence slapped me in the face every time. I do agree that the Archbishop might have found more respect had he retired from the TAC, reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church as a laicised priest and disappeared for several years. A stay in a monastery is the usual way, something I have done myself. Having the responsibilities of his second wife and home, perhaps he would have taken the time to write a book and settle down as a lay Roman Catholic. After that, there are two sides to any agreement… The fact he continued to style himself as an Anglican archbishop, have priests under his “jurisdiction”, exercise some form of independent ministry in Australia – all are suspect for someone who believes in unconditional surrender to the Roman Catholic Church as he advocated at the bishops’ meeting in October 2007. Perhaps I am crazy in deducing such a possibility. Perhaps Winston’s torturer from 1984 is holding four fingers up at me and telling me there are five…

I am flattered to be considered as “highly influential” whilst being “crazy” at the same time. So much water off a duck’s back! I am strangely independent from affirmation coming from other people. I have learned to compare myself with myself as I was yesterday, and not with other people. That comes from bitter experience of life.

The “correspondent” speaks of his uneasiness about being under Hepworth’s oversight on account of his no longer being the primate of an institutional ecclesial body. St Mary’s is not my problem. Even lovely ships like the Titanic had to be abandoned when they were sinking. A building, however beautiful, is not worth that amount of litigation. The caricature of episcopi vagantes is nothing new. Some are self-aggrandising and perhaps have narcissistic traits in some cases. Others ask fundamental questions and go completely quiet after finding that their idea of a new type of ministry was an illusion. I have been down that path – never again.

I think I was excessive in applying the words narcissist and psychopath. They would be the result of a rigorous diagnostic by a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. I am neither. All I can do is observe a few traits and compare my own findings with those of others who suffered more than I did in their particular circumstances of life. I am in possession of some documents which I have promised never to divulge. There is the “seriously flawed judgement” but there are other traits too. I became weary with the discussion long ago and I have moved on.

John Bruce has decided to be an ordinary mainstream Roman Catholic. I think he could do better by adopting the casual indifferent chatty and happy attitude of most cradle Roman Catholics or commit himself to some spiritual or humanitarian work in his parish. There are many homeless people in California, and I’m sure the parishes are doing a lot of good work. This is his vocation, his chosen way, not mine. He and I are both limited by the places in this world where we live. Why get involved in some plan involving former Archbishop John Hepworth flying half way round the world to ingratiate himself with the passengers and crew of a sinking ship?

In many respects, rationally speaking, John Bruce isn’t wrong. The small groups of counter-cultural and committed clergy and faithful are eccentric, proving ourselves, justifying ourselves, doing the best we can with little money or resources. I correspond with one or two people in the English Ordinariate and learn of their issues with the mainstream RC Church in England. The general notion is one of inconclusiveness and lack of resolution. For me to return to the RC Church would be a step of nihilism, more so than twenty years ago. The challenge he implies is quite bleak: the darkness before the light or the darkness with nothing beyond. The problem with getting rid of Christianity is knowing what comes next. I believe that materialism is wrong! Only transcendence gives meaning to life.

In my own “crazy” thought and my current projects, I try to find a way to live Christianity differently and to present it to others in a new way. It is my conviction that Christianity is not for all, but only accessible to those who are prepared in philosophical and spiritual terms. Christianity is esoteric and exoteric. The Mystery was taught to Christ’s inner circle, and the ordinary people heard parables, which sometimes were explained, sometimes not. The idea of “being saved” by accepting Jesus as your “personal Saviour” is complete and absolute bunk. It is all analogy and symbol for a reality of which very few have knowledge. The political notion of Christianity as the “social kingship of Christ” is also bunk. The teaching and Mystery of Christ can only be real and true in a very precise set of dispositions and state of readiness to receive Revelation. That is why most church Christianity is discredited.

I am no more holy than anyone else, but the gap is brief between belief and commitment, and unbelief. I am a priest in a Continuing Anglican Church, the ACC, which has made some remarkable efforts to clean out the stables, become stable and improve the quality of the clergy. Several priests in the ACC in England are university educated, and some have been mainstream Anglican – and do great work in their little parishes. I carry my head high and am proud to serve our little Diocese. We may be eccentric in some ways, but we are doing the work of the Catholic Church. That is not to be poofed out of the way by the smug of this earth.

I feel sorry for former Abp John Hepworth. I have good memories of meeting him in Paris back in 2005 and spending a day with him in Senlis to discuss my entering the TAC as a priest. I was impressed by the bishops’ meeting in Portsmouth in October 2007 and relativised the total incompetence of some of the bishops in simply celebrating Mass. There seemed to be something powerful and hopeful, but it was all illusion. Some TAC clergy joined the Ordinariates, and now the TAC is little more than a name, and the viable component Churches are forming new alliances like the big Synod last October in America. Things have changed. John Hepworth could have found his happiness through a long retreat and discernment of his vocation in the context of his canonical irregularities. He could have made his peace with his own clergy and faithful, and trodden another path. The important things are lucidity and truth, humility and self-knowledge. I still pray for him and hope in some way that God will unravel the tangled mess.

Perhaps he might do something for St Mary of the Angels, but I think the Roman Catholic authorities would find him an obstacle. They don’t need him, but a relationship with the Ordinariate or the local Archdiocese if they really want to become Roman Catholic. There is no sense in that community being led by someone who is perceived by the RC bureaucracy as a toxic apostate priest. John Bruce’s inclination to go this way makes no sense. I wouldn’t call him raca or fool, but I would simply question his own judgement.

Finally it isn’t my problem, and it is puzzling to imagine how my insignificant ideas could change anything in this grand plan.

Now back to my Blue Flower – and a substantial translating order for next week…

* * *

Update: See Abp Hepworth And The Titanic

I have little to add, since I don’t know how I could be more “consistent” about St Mary of the Angels parish. I have never been there, only seen photos and read a few bits and pieces. Most of what I know comes from John Bruce, leaving me with an impression of such an amount of litigation that it might be better to sell off the church to the highest bidder, pay off the attorneys and call it quits. But, I might be wrong. Should I care?

Likewise, given the turning of events around 2011 to 2012, my impression of Abp Hepworth is that I had not know him or his true personality. It took me a while to suspect that there was an abundance of bullshit, and that I would never unravel things well enough to get a good understanding. Various other people filled me in on the most disturbing traits and facts, and I had no reason to distrust them. I stayed formally a member of the TAC until there was no Patrimony of the Primate anymore. Archbishop Prakash put me into the English diocese (Traditional Anglican Church), and I had no certitude there was still very much going on. I honourably resigned for the reason that the ACC was ready to accept me and give me a canonical title as a priest. That was in Eastertide 2013.

Perhaps there is little comparison between an ocean liner on its way to the bottom of the Atlantic and a church mired in litigation between the ACA and an independent priest and congregation. I have no side to take in this affair. However, many things are compared with sinking ships even if they are not ships at sea and containing human persons in danger of death from drowning or hypothermia.

From my scant information, I am given to believe that John Bruce and his wife were badly hurt by these comings and going of St Mary’s parish. That is understandable.

The argument of Abp Hepworth having the right to hear confessions in the name of the Roman Catholic Church in the case of the congregation at St Mary’s does not hold water (excuse the pun). He is an independent bishop in Anglican orders (ie: considered as invalid by the RC Church) and irregular as a priest having committed the delict of schism and getting married without a dispensation from Rome following a rescript of laicisation. These are just facts without any judgement on my part, and are the reasons why he could not hope to be accepted by Rome and allowed to minister as a priest, let alone as a bishop. I have done the same thing, but there is a difference: I have not applied to Rome to ask for anything and have no intention of going back to that Church. He was telling us that he had friends in the Vatican and everything was going to be “all right”, even for the canonically irregular. That was a pile of crap, evidenced by the cold manner in which he was treated by Cardinal Levada. He cannot act as a Roman Catholic priest, and there is no way that will change even if he is at the head of some Rome-bound community. It won’t work. It won’t wash. Anything associated with Hepworth, from Rome’s point of view, is tainted and in bad faith. I may be “crazy” but I know my canon law!

Perhaps in John’s place, I would have removed myself from St Mary’s and would have worshipped at various churches (or just one) without asking to be received into anything or receiving the Sacraments. I would probably have spent several years like that, leaving St Mary’s in the past and moving on spiritually and in terms of my own health and that of my family. There are plenty of churches in Los Angeles. Then, perhaps after a couple of years, I would have become Orthodox or Roman Catholic, gone back to the ECUSA or a more stable and peaceful continuing Church. I would have taken the time to read and study, and make the right decision for me in peace and prayer.

Yes, there are plenty of converts to the RC Church and loads of RC priests who become Evangelicals, Anglican bishops or join another religion. The ticket is one-way. Abp Hepworth is ipso facto laicised as far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned. He cannot use the absence of a rescript of laicisation to pretend to have any legitimacy as a Roman Catholic priest. He might have done had he gone to the traditionalist movement, remained celibate and not become Anglican. That’s just the way it works, not any opinion from me. The TAC has rid itself of him and he is not a Roman Catholic cleric. He is not Archbishop of anything nor does he have a canonical title as a priest, even by epikeia.

St Mary’s is not an Anglican parish, unless it is under the local diocese of the ACA or some other mainstream or continuing jurisdiction – at least identifying with Anglican traditions. If those who have left the ACA are in charge, then it isn’t an Anglican parish. It is completely independent. Abp Hepworth changes nothing. He changes nothing for Rome except perhaps demonstrating that the community isn’t ready to be received into the Ordinariate or the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. They would be better off as a community with a priest, uncanonical but in good faith. The, perhaps, with the litigation sorted out, something might be envisaged.

Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb… One justification for having Abp Hepworth would be remaining as an independent community, perhaps in view to rebuilding and joining another Anglican jurisdiction (as I don’t think the ACA would have him!), but that doesn’t seem to be the idea.

I’m not sure what the problems are in seeing Abp Hepworth functioning as a bishop.

Is he not? Then I’ll enlighten him. The problems would be putting Rome right off the whole idea of receiving St Mary’s parish even if they were sympathetic with the priest. Would ECUSA be better disposed, or any Continuing Church, given the reputation Hepworth has earned for himself? The problem is ruining their own chances with anyone. That’s what the problems are.

If St Mary’s doesn’t have a “long term”, then why bother? Split the congregation up into individuals, and then they will be none of John Bruce’s business. Each will decide according to his or her conscience, and conscience is supreme. No story – nothing to report. Perhaps those people don’t need “leadership and spiritual counsel” but to stand on their own two feet as adults. One problem with a lot of Christians is that they want to be children! Let them sort themselves out. They might decide to pack it in with Christianity and become atheists or Buddhists. If that is what they think is right, then they should get on with it and live their lives. If Christianity is true, then they’ll get their “tweak on the thread” without any need for a guru.

It might sound unpastoral coming from me, a priest, but that is the tough reality. We all have to face tough realities and have to make our own decisions.

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Ray Winch, early April 1997 – and a reflection

This letter is undated, but his allusion to Easter 1997 (30th March) would place it around the first week of April. Monastic Lent is not something easy to live through, though guests were allowed meat on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Indeed, monks don’t receive mail from family or friends and the almost Orwellian atmosphere of the modern monastery is quite overbearing for the dreamer I am! Anyway, I was grateful for this piece of sympathy from a good friend. Actually, as a working guest I was allowed my mail at any time and my freedom.

* * *

Dear Anthony,

I excuse my delay in writing on the grounds that monks ought not to receive letters during Lent and that diligent monks may be bold enough to impose this rule on their captives. Lo, happy Easter; and here is a Winch Puzzle to help you through Paschaltide!

After applying to Mrs Hall and receiving from her a formal invitation, I went to Spanish Place on March 1st. The church was nearly full. The few empty seats were balanced by a small group of which I was one, who prefer to stand through services. There were a few clerics in choir including three Black Monks and a lesser prelate in a mantella. As is always the case on such occasions, the congregation was predominately male. Most of us went to the crypt for a lavish professionally-made buffet. Mrs Hall made a brief speech thanking the curé, etc. For an hour or so there was good humoured conversation. Then some men with authority attempted to clear the chamber. (My attempt to assist him by calling out Domni domaque exite. Per gratias vestras exite was greeted with some applause.) But, when we were all outside and making off in various directions, I realized that there had been no meeting! It was for the meeting that I had gone. I had assumed that, at the very least, there would have been an announcement of provisionally chosen officers and a call for suggestion about future activities. There was not even a collection of the names of those present or a request for means of future contacts, etc. It was a most agreeable way of spending a Saturday, but, it seemed to me, strangely inconclusive. Perhaps an opportunity missed.

Among the present were two undergraduates and a post-graduate whose names I had sent Mr Hall when asking for my own invitation, and the ubiquitous Robert. Also present was the Rev’d Father Michael Mowbray Silver, now known as Archithurifer to the Bishop of Worthing. There were a few sacristy queens, either dissenting Anglicans or Catholics of Anglican vintage.

The service was a High Mass with choreography by Fortescue. However, it differed from the old days on these counts:- then, under no circumstances would High Mass been celebrated in a parish church on a weekday; there were clergy in choir; all were attempting to follow the service; there were many communicants. Unfortunately it was exactly like the old days in that it seemed to be assumed that none were able to follow the Latin directly. Even the lessons were sung without regard of intelligibility.

There was a brief sermon. That, of course, was intended to be understood. The preacher praised the silent Canon. He seemed unaware that this latter was a very late corruption caused by excessively elaborate music for the Sanctus and then applied, by the rubricists, to the Missa Lecta. Obviously the priest read the Gospel to himself before the deacon sang it softly to the north wall. None of the old decadence was omitted.

Robert had me to London again on Good Friday to attend the c. 1960 liturgy at Corpus Christi [Maiden Lane]. The congregation was almost exclusively male but elderly. Most traditionalist services that I have attended – including those at Oxford and Durham – were mostly patronized by boys and young men. Robert said that the authorities at Maiden Lane were not allowed to advertise the services in any way and this explains the congregation. Is this correct? Corpus Christi is obviously the church in the opening pages of How Far Can You Go?, the novel by David Lodge. I think that, in my student days, it was used for early morning “corporate communions” of members of the University. But, as I did not live in the centre, I attended none of these. Univ. Coll. Catholic Society celebrated an academic High Mass each year during the annual Foundation Week. Once, when an undergraduate died, there was Placebo and Dirige. Functions of this sort were at St Anselm’s in Kingsway.

Last evening I had a ‘phone call from a man whose name I did not catch. He seemed to suppose that I knew it. He is a member of C.I.E.L. but, apparently, he had heard of me by another route. It appears that he has set up a small publishing business. I think that he said that he was responsible for the small volume with the Waugh – Heenan correspondence. He said that he would like to publish a small volume by me under a title like Daily Worship in a Medieval Parish Church and an “article in a news-letter” about Catholic Parish Worship before 1955. He took little notice of my protests, that I would find it difficult to set out a book without a colleague (though, perhaps, I rather over did this).

All my longer stuff, except Canonical Mass  has been done with a colleague:

British Empirical Philosophers – Ayer and Winch

The Assumption – Bennett and Winch

La Storiografia Inglese nei Secoli XIX e XX – Flessati [?] & Winch

Would you, by any chance, like to be the Chadwick of a Chadwick and Winch? When you are at your presbytère, possibly time may hang heavily. If I were to come out with all my material, we might cooperate to produce a slim volume. (La Storiografia was done in less than three weeks of a long vac. and there had been no preparation.) This may well not appeal to you: there may well be a multitude of reasons why it may not be feasible. However I cast forth the idea. I suppose I could come July, Aug and Sept.

[I find no further page of this letter in my little folder.]

* * *

April 15th, ’97

Dear Anthony

When I wrote to you recently (my only letter to you at the monastery, posted about April 4th [which accurately dates the above letter], I told you that I had been approached, by telephone, by a small Catholic publisher who wanted me to write up my researches for a book. He had told me that he would follow up the ‘phone conversation with a letter. I had told you that I would send you a copy of his letter when it came. Here it is.

I replied to his letter on April 10th when I said that: (i) I was generally agreeable, (ii) my field was a little less wide than he seemed to think though I was not adverse to some extension, (iii) that I would not expect remuneration – at least for a first edition, though I would welcome, but not demand, a contribution towards any expenses which I might incur. So far I have not heard from him, but I posted the letter only five days ago.

I have become a trifle puzzled by this Saint Austin Press. I have a certain instinctive notion that it is rather more than a publishing venture with a concern for traditionalist Catholicism. It may be excellent but I would like to know. Do you know? I’ll not tell the pursuivants nor even the Curia!

I sent you, on an earlier occasion, a typescript De Divino Officio. This was used as a handout for my lecture last year. As I then explained to my audience, besides providing a document in evidence, it has also a piece of experimental history. I dictated it to a man who had not learnt Latin and who had never been to a service in Latin. The only help I gave him was clarity of diction. We proceeded swiftly. He makes no more mistakes than one would expect of a medieval scribe. Indeed some of the spelling “mistakes” are in the original document. I am sure that you have noticed that “ae” and “e” are often used at random. Thus we discover how Latin was pronounced.

Do you know what is a cappa clausa? Yes, I know it means “closed cloak”; but what is it? It was to be worn if there was no superpellicium available.

I hope that you continue to enjoy monastic life. As I said before, I would jump at the chance of being a custodian at a place like Downside. This time last year I had a most agreeable part-time job. I was then able to do more of my own work than I am doing now.

There is to be a parliamentary election here. It is all very babyish. I shall not vote. No principles seem to be at stake. Each party tries to collect votes by printing out how bad the other parties are.



* * *

The Saint Austin Press
Box 610
Southampton SO1E OYY

Tel. 01703 235966
Fax 01703 346953

3rd April, 1997

Dear Mr. Wynch,

Further to our telephone conversation of the other evening, here are a few thoughts which stayed with me after we had finished our discussion:

It was proposed that you should write a small book, of between 70 and 150 pages of double-spaced type on the subject of Mediaeval Parish life in England, with particular emphasis on the liturgical aspects.

We have to think of an imaginative title, but that can wait until later. In the first instance, we need to develop a plan of the book.

The main sections might be:

• the life of a mediaeval parish priest,
• the way in which boys came to be trained as priests or ‘clerkes’, and your evidence for the existence of several clerics in each parish.
• the liturgy, broken down into two sub-sections: (i)the Office, and (ii)the Mass. You might also have a sub-section on special feasts.

One would also need a short introduction, and perhaps a few closing paragraphs. Perhaps I have also overlooked some other areas of study which might make up additional sections.

We also need to decide quite early on about any illustrations which we might like to include. If you could compile a list of up to twenty (maximum) then I could begin to seek permissions for their use. This is sometimes quite expensive, but we will see what can be done.

A Select bibliography would also be useful, and that could be begun now. We could add to it as we go along.

As for eventual remuneration, if we both decide that this is a project with a future, I would guess that we might be able to offer you 5% of the cover price on all sales. This is about the usual level of royalties.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas on all this in the near future. I will perhaps telephone you again in a week or two.

Yours in Domino,
Ferdi McDermott

* * *

That is all I have from Ray Winch. By 1997, he was in his late 70’s and he was only four years from his death. The little I saw of him between the end of my stay at Triors (July 1997) and his death, I found someone suffering from chronic tiredness, depression and the heart and circulation problems that brought on his death. His mind and longing were there, but all slowed down.

In April 1997, I was charged by the Abbot to go and find a pipe organ in England and arrange for its transport to the Abbey. The work of repairs and installation took until July 1997 with the help of some brothers for making a new console and the marble platform on which the organ was to stand. On my return to Bouloire, Ray’s idea of getting me to help him write this small volume was unfortunately forgotten. Perhaps I should attempt to do something on these lines with whatever can be found from Ray’s papers (I do believe someone stepped in and preserved them) and the plans discussed in the correspondence.

I have more faith in Terence Duffy (I have The Stripping of the Altars facing me as I write now) than Ray did, but I would need to try to find other sources for comparison using the amazing amount of stuff available on the Internet. I am too far away from a university library, but references can be found and copied. I’ll think about a plan and whether I could do justice to such a project. Ray tended to get bogged down in details and flights of imagination and forgot the need for the academic methodology in which he was trained. I am sure that Dr William Tighe will come up with some ideas of books and Internet resources to complete those I already have in my liturgy and church history libraries. I’ll do my best, and it will be dedicated to his memory. There will be hundreds of books written by Romantic historians in the mid nineteenth century, also people like J.M. Neale and Wickham Legg. It’s just a matter of having a good plan, and doing the work.

Ray shared the lot of many who have run out of energy and “punch”. If we depend on other people, we won’t get anywhere in life. We have to find the resources within ourselves and take the responsibility of getting the job done. Ray had part-time library work which did him good and encouraged creativity and curiosity. My translating job keeps me motivated and used to sustained work. Life is short, and when our time runs out here on earth, we won’t be able to do any more. I am only too aware of my mortality, as he certainly was – and before death, we are usually faced with declining health, eyes that need stronger glasses, inability to concentrate, the list is endless.

I’ll do what I can, perhaps for the first issue of The Blue Flower.

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Ray Winch, 7th February 1997

By now, I was staying at the guest house of Triors. Ray gives a slightly different angle on his subject of medieval parish worship, criticising Terence Duffy but without giving details (perhaps we might get lucky in his next letter).

* * *

Dear Anthony,

Thank you for your card and subsequent letter of Dec. 28th [1996].

I am glad to learn that you have returned to the Church. I have an instinctive sympathy for the Anglican traditionalists, but I have never had the slightest temptation to join them. It seems to me that the truth or falsity of Christianity depends entirely upon Catholicism. For a very long time I had supposed that Orthodoxy was, in some sense, a continuation of primitive Catholicism. My study of the history of doctrine undertaken over these last 6 or 7 years persuafes me that I was mistaken, eg. During the 10th to 13th centuries the West added much to Christian doctrine. During the 14th century the Greeks, on their own initiative, received most of these Latin innovations which subsequently appeared in all the dogmatic formulations (though they continued to make a fuss about “filioque”). There is no such thing as the Orthodox Church, but a number of national churches and various splinter groups. Not all are in communion with each other. The Bloomians are largely now in the hands of non-ethnic converts. “Hobbyists” abound. There is little discipline, and popular singing and exotic ritual provide a great part of the attraction. At Oxford there is clericalism and a curious kind of liberalism. The Bloomian clergy are active with “hands-of-the-clock” change. At Oxford the Cypriots seem to have noticed this and seldom care. I doubt if they appreciate Mass largely in fem-speke. There also seems to have been some kind of a local schism over who runs the choir. But I think that I have told you these things before. I have distanced myself from it all.

I am interested in the liturgical conference in France which you mentioned. However, I am a near monoglot. I can manage to read clearly composed French and liturgical Latin. Unfortunately that is about my lot. Also it would need to be inexpensive. Travel, etc. has, for an Englishman, become much more expensive than it was even eight years ago. Even the fare to Paris by the cheapest route is now more than twice what it was when I last went in ’88. However I could manage the cost if it were otherwise worthwhile. What do you think?

Publishing my articles in French? Obviously what I sent you were only exceedingly rough accounts of what I have in mind. I will not attempt to put my matter into presentable form until I know a little about the potential readership. I would hope to provide a type script.

(i) “Worship in English Catholic Churches before 1952”. This I would do entirely from memory – the memory of a youth who had some background knowledge and who lived in London. I often attended liturgical offices in Westminster Cathedral. I remember cycling considerable distances in search of a church where there might, at least, be Sunday Vespers. (Now, in spite of a new rite and the vernacular, things remain much as they were before – except that there are now far fewer participants.)

(ii) “Daily Worship in an English Medieval Parish Church”

My information comes from primary sources, though I would add a little guided guess work closely based on these sources. There would need to be a brief treatment of the clergy serving a parish church: the impossibility of strict rubricism, etc. I would wish to include reasons for maintaining that even the illiterate could, after a fashion, follow even most of the choir office. Then, perhaps, one or two matters which emerge. (a) Public liturgical prayer and the minimal sufficiency of the deed done with the right intention. (b) vicarious prayer and worship.

A few writers seem to have been aware of some of my evidence. However, presumably because they lack experience of public worship in a liturgical language, they are ill at ease with the subject and pass over much – sometimes making obvious blunders as they go. Even Duffy is strangely reticent in this field. Perhaps Duffy had not had the opportunity to attend week day Office in a Greek village. (I do make some use of the comparative method.)

Once again the Newman Society organized a Sarum High Mass in the choir of Merton. This year it was for the Purification with ceremonies and a procession. There was a large congregation which included a number of Catholic priests. In my judgement it was done too fussily to find much favour. It lasted over two hours. A choir sang elaborate music and, accordingly, a few of the adstantes insisted on singing the responses against the official choir. One of the three processional crosses became entangled with a pendant electric light, etc.

I hope that you are content with life in the monastery. I would enjoy it; though obviously you may have difficulties of what I know nothing. My own personal problem is that I am unable to discipline my daily life. I have insufficient will power to deal adequately with small matters. When I had the fixed hours of the job at the Union Library (Dec. ’95 – Oct. ’96) I was enormously happy. Now I am not. I do less academic work now than I did then. I wish that I could be a custodian at a place like Downside. Robert Stephen Mundi is, in some manner, around. He is using my address, but living surreptitiously in an office in the City and doing some work for a City church. His terrific intelligence, enormous self-confidence and ability to do without possessions are staggering, at least I find them so. I suppose that few others know how he tended Ronald Head – the aged vicar dying from cancer.

I am in the history library. I read “the people would not have understood the service because it was in Latin, but they would have known what type of feast it was from the colour of the priest’s chasuble. This is nearly as anachronistic as that Hamilton fellow whose description of Holy Saturday in the Middle Ages is an account of the new rite of 1950! I await the opportunity to read “Most people leaving church bought a copy of the current ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ to read after Sunday dinner”.

Vale, Ray

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Ray Winch, 8th December 1996

For a little context, I had not written to Ray for some time, and I had returned to France after leaving the Anglican Catholic Church under Bishop Hamlett. I had returned to France and was staying with Fr Jacques Pecha at the Presbytery of Bouloire prior to my stay at Triors Abbey. In this letter, Ray gives some context to his notes about medieval parish life. I did not keep copies of my own letters to him, which I assume by now to be lost.

I appreciate his dry humour when commenting on my work with organs and his pun between the musical instrument and an organ of the human body.

* * *

Dec. 8th, ‘96

Dear Anthony,

I follow up the card I sent you some months ago in hasty reply to your note asking me for something to publish.

I have this address in Newcastle-under-Lyme: but Robert S. says that he had heard a rumour, at third hand, that you had returned to France, though perhaps only for a visit. Accordingly, I intend to address this letter to your family home, the address of which, in your autograph, I find in a note book.

I had heard that, at Newcastle-under-Lyme, you had set up a workshop for the repair of organs. (What about a new kidney for a man I know?!) Anyway I hope that all goes well and would be pleased to hear from you.

From Dec ’95 until Oct ’96, I had an enormously enjoyable part-time job running, in company with two others, the library of the Union Society. One of the other two, whom I had helped to promote, was offered and accepted the full-time job. His first act was to secure a part-time job for his “bird”! This he did by getting rid of me. I had taken him for a good-humoured friend. Now I know how the Kremlin worked.

I guess that the occasion of your wanting to publish something has now gone. Anyway, I enclose some rough ideas on two topics. I present them only as history. “Parish Worship” I began when you asked me to do something for “Altar”. Last April I used the matter for an “ex tempore” lecture to the University’s Medieval Church History Post-Graduate Seminar. About that time, Robert asked me for matter which he could publish in booklet form. I think he had in mind a “St Alban’s Press” or some such. But that, he did not pursue.

Journals, movements, even churches, come and go at breakneck speed. (Remember B.O.C. [British Orthodox Church] formed at this Council of lewis in ’91? B.O.C. lasted only for a few weeks – and it had the advantage of: (i) the support of most of the “non-ethnic Orthodox” notables and (ii) “probably Rome acceptable valid Episcopal orders”. B.O.C. was a most extraordinary episode.)

In September I spent six days in Manchester. I obtained lodgings in a men’s hall of residence suggested by the Univ. of Manchester. As there were several undergraduates in residence, there was a pleasant sociable atmosphere. On the second day I discovered that I was in a Catholic institution. On the morning of my departure, I accidentally opened a wrong door. It revealed a well appointed traditional style chapel. As I was about to leave a young man said “I’m about to drive into the centre. Would you like a lift?” “Thank you. Yes”. Then, struck by a sudden thought, ‘Is this a house of Opus Dei?” R. “Yes, it is. I’m late. Please wait a moment while I get my car”.

Have they been told that the Penal Laws no longer apply? Do I really look like a pursuivant? I wonder. Each day I was away from the house between breakfast and dinner.

Why so furtive? I continue to wonder. The general good humour in all else was, I am quite sure, not contrived. It was exactly what I would expect from any similar group of educated young men.

I am physically well. I spend most of the day in libraries or sitting in a chair with a very active speculative mind about its affairs. Robert Stephen Mundi is formally in residence, but usually away in London. I spend far too much time abed – not asleep, but thinking.

Please greet me to Michael Wright and such others who know me as I suppose that you are in contact with them.

All the very best,



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