This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Face East, young man, and dress properly

Two news items have dominated the press this week: one Catholic, and one Anglican.


A moral compass for priests.

First, Cardinal Sarah, the leading "stop Tagle" candidate for the next papacy, has reminded priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, starting in Advent. This is generally regarded as the start of the pantomime season, and any priests seen facing the wrong way at Mass are liable to be greeted by shouts of "He's behind you!" So far we have not heard any disagreement from Fr James Martin SJ, himself an experienced pantomine dame, who is willing to face either way.

James Martin having a rave-up

"The Holy Spirit is female!" Oh no, he isn't!

Facing God is a concept popularly believed to have disappeared after Vatican II, along with Latin, Sin and Redemption, so it is interesting to hear from a Cardinal who is prepared to reject the Spirit of Vatican II.

selfie in Mass

Whatever else is happening, remember to take a selfie during Mass!

LATE NEWS: IN a letter to his priests, Cardinal Nicholas has explicitly disagreed with the Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. However, we think there may be an explanation.

Sarah and Nichols

"Do celebrate ad orientem, Vin. So many people want to see the back of you."

Over at the Church of England, the big debate is over what clothes the vicars should be allowed to wear in church.

bucolic priest

The Rev. Worzel Gummidge recommends the rural (scarecrow) look.

We recently visited Father Gummidge's Church, and heard a delightful anthem from Galton and Simpson, entitled Beta vulgaris in horto, which begins

I've got mangel-wurzels in my garden, 
I've got mangel-wurzels in my shed,
I've got mangel-wurzels in my bathroom, 
And a mangel-wurzel for a head.

Here is another example of Synod-approved vestments:

clowns and Bible

Protestant ministers (as is well known, Catholics don't read the Bible).

Yes, times are definitely changing. Our final picture of some Episcopalian bishopesses shows an example of quiet dignity. Church services are not there just for religion - they are also there for displays of fashion, and they give our costume holy women (and men) a way of recycling their old curtains!

wimmen bishops

True holiness.


  1. Good job ++Vinny has clarified that we should keep our backs firmly turned against Mecca !!!

  2. How interesting is it that +VN's email to priests is uncannily similar to Fr Lombardi's statement following Cardinal Sarah's audience with the HF at the weekend?

  3. When Cardinal Sarah’s book God or Nothing was published in French early last year, Sandro Magister tipped him as a leading ‘papabile’. When the book came out in English a year later, the Catholic Herald and other papers lavished similar praise on him. For many people, Sarah had clearly come to be seen as the conservative front-runner to block the feared election, at a future conclave, of Eccles’s lefty friend ‘Rhino’ Marx. After this Ad Orientem gaffe, however, they may have to start looking for someone else to pin their hopes to. A very public rebuke from Pope Francis, dutifully echoed by Federico Lombardi and Vincent Nichols, among others, can have done Sarah’s prospects no good at all.

  4. What I can't figure out is what he was rebuked for? AFAIK there is nothing to prevent a priest celebrating the OF ad orientem if he wants to; I have visited churches where it has been introduced and nobody fainted or left to join the Plymouth Brethren in protest.

    1. What ruffled a lot of feathers, I suspect, was not so much the content of Cardinal Sarah’s appeal – the east/west business in itself – as the fact that he was encroaching on other people’s turf, both upward and downward. Decisions of this kind tend to be left, these days, to diocesan bishops and national bishops’ conferences, who don’t appreciate being bossed around by officious bigwigs in the Curia. Remember Donald Trautman’s almost pathological enmity toward Francis Arinze, who had presumed to remind American bishops that it was okay to receive Communion on the tongue as well as in the hand, and kneeling as well as standing. Trautman was the chairman of the Liturgy Committee in the USCCB when Arinze was the prefect of the CDW, doing the job that Sarah does now.

      At the same time, launching an appeal of this kind – in effect, telling every bishop in the world that he had a twenty-week deadline for all his parishes to switch to Ad Orientem, on pain of incurring the Prefect’s severe displeasure – was too far-reaching a change for the prefect of the CDW to announce off his own bat, without letting his boss know in advance what he was planning to do and getting his approval for it.