Sunday, July 18, 2021

Latin Mass

Below are some assorted thoughts on Friday's Vatican decree, originally intended for Facebook. (16 July) This isn’t really my fight anymore. But if I were Catholic I’d be angry and defiant. I will always promote and defend the incomparable treasury of music, art, and architecture inspired by the Latin Mass.

(18 July) It was striking that at Incarnation this morning, two days after a certain cruel and malicious document emanated from the regime in Rome, that both choral works (Byrd Ego sum panis vitae & Gabrieli O sacrum convivium) were in Latin, written for the Roman Catholic Church when it was a serious institution with serious liturgy and music. I am so grateful to be an Episcopalian.

Eighty-five years ago yesterday, which happened to be the 18th anniversary of the murder of the Romanovs (a fact that I'm sure must have been noted by some at the time), after five years of republican chaos, right-wingers in Spain decided they'd had enough. "Traditionis Custodes" deserves no more respect or obedience than the Spanish Republic did. Before I make a point implicitly critical of some American traditionalists, let me be clear that there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for what the Vatican regime promulgated on Friday. I think it is one of the most evil papal (?) pronouncements in the entire history of the Roman Catholic Church. Many good Catholics who did nothing at all to deserve this will be negatively affected.

That said, I do think that the vocal identification of a noisy minority of American traditionalists, fierce critics (not without just cause) of the current occupant of the Vatican, with unqualified support of Donald Trump, egged on by Archbishop Vigano, may have contributed to the climate that made "Traditionis Custodes" possible. Again, this is not a defense of Bergoglio's act, which I condemn, in any way whatsoever. Most traditionalists are not Americans and many American traditionalists do not support Trump, but the shrillness and visibility of those who do seems to me to have contributed to a false and unjust association of the Latin Mass subculture in the United States with Trumpism. It may be that this ghastly decree still would have appeared even if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016 or if red hat MAGA Catholicism had never become a thing. I don't know. No one does. I just think that for Christians to put their trust in (and allow their faith to be identified with) any politician, especially an objectively terrible person like Donald Trump, is always a mistake. (I'm obviously a fervent monarchist, but I don't think I idolize any specific monarch, not even Queen Elizabeth II, quite to the extent that MAGAists idolize Trump.) I think it's long past time for all conservatives and traditionalists of any stripe to face the fact that the Trump presidency ultimately made everything worse, including from a genuinely traditionalist perspective. Americanism poisons everything, and MAGA is Americanism on steroids. The modernist Left and the Trumpist fake "Right" deserve each other. A plague on both their houses. The tragedy is that some Catholics who are in no way Trumpists and never fell for MAGA cultism are likely to lose access to the mass they love, unless they are able and willing to seek refuge in the SSPX, independent chapels, or sedevacantism, for which I wouldn't blame them at all.



Sunday, June 13, 2021

Hélène d'Orléans 150

One hundred fifty years ago today, Princess Hélène of Orléans (1871-1951) was born at York House in Twickenham, England. Daughter of the Count of Paris, Orléanist claimant to the French throne, following the fall of the Second Empire she spent most of her childhood in France, until the insecure Third Republic exiled them again in 1886 following exuberant royalist celebrations of her older sister Amélie's marriage to the Crown Prince (later King) of Portugal. Thus the Orléans family returned to England and became close to the British royal family. Hélène and Prince Albert Victor (1864-1892), eldest son of the Prince of Wales, fell in love and wished to marry, and Queen Victoria was fond of her, but the religious difference proved insurmountable.

Instead Hélène married in 1895 Italy's Prince Emanuele Filiberto (1869-1931), Duke of Aosta, a nephew of King Umberto I, whose own father had briefly reigned as King of Spain, and who was next in line to the Italian throne until the birth of Crown Prince Umberto in 1904. The marriage produced two sons, Amedeo (1898-1942) and Aimone (1900-1948), but was not happy; Hélène became known for her adventurous solo travels in Africa and for her heroic humanitarian work with the Red Cross. Her life was marked by tragedies, such as the murder of her brother-in-law and nephew in Portugal in 1908, the devastation of the two World Wars, and outliving both of her sons as well as the Italian monarchy she had served for half a century. Hélène was the grandmother of Prince Amedeo (1943-2021) who died recently, as well as two princesses who survive. Edward Hanson's biography "The Wandering Princess" is a fascinating window into a long and unconventional royal life that spanned and was shaped by the major upheavals of modern European history.



Friday, June 11, 2021

Today's Rant

Atheists think all religion is fantasy; many Protestants think those beliefs peculiar to Catholics (though in most cases also held by the Orthodox and some Anglicans) are fantasy. And yet most contemporary Christians, including Catholics, are far more grounded in "Reality" than I am. Most Christians who use the internet want to talk about widely discussed contemporary issues from a Christian perspective, primarily as pertaining to the country in which they live. Whereas I want to talk about things like restoring the Portuguese Monarchy, which has been gone for 110+ years and which hardly anyone is talking about. I don't like contemporary "Reality" and want it to go away. I would rather live in my little royalist fantasy world and play music written when Europe was mostly ruled by monarchies than be fully engaged with the political issues of my actual time and place. I don't accept that living in the United States obliges me to give my primary patriotic loyalty to the United States and not to the United Kingdom. If I wish to identify as British then I'm British. I'm sorry if this sounds selfish and arrogant but I have no doubt that the Twentieth Century and the American Revolution were wrong and I'm right. And neither the Church nor the World can force me to defer to their priorities.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

A sad anniversary

Seventy-five years ago today, in a dubious referendum probably rigged by the Americans, an alleged majority of Italians voted to abolish the 85-year-old Italian monarchy (though the House of Savoy was nearly a thousand years old). King Umberto II (1904-1983), a good and patriotic man who had never supported fascism, nevertheless paid the price for his father’s association with it and had to spend the rest of his life in exile, his reign officially ending ten days later after only a month. The Italian Republic, which has never exactly been a model of stable or competent governance, in its arrogance dares to celebrate today as a “holiday,” even though at the time it was a sad result for many Italians who had remained loyal to the dynasty despite the hardships of the war. It is not a holiday for me. Viva il Re!

I mean no offense to my many Roman Catholic friends, some of whom agree with me, but as we contemplate the 75th anniversary of the accursed Italian referendum (on which Pope Pius XII for some reason remained silent, at a time when the Church still had rather more influence in Italy than it does today) I am deeply frustrated by the Church's modern habit of neutrality on Monarchy versus Republic, which to me is the most important issue of modern times. Maybe I want Christianity to be something other than what it actually is. Maybe I'm frankly a bit of a heretic guilty of trying to elevate my personal preferences to doctrine. (I shudder to think what would happen to my relationship with Anglicanism if the unthinkable ever happened in England. Let's not go there.) But I cannot accept Neutrality on this issue. I believe that replacing a Monarchy with a Republic is intrinsically morally wrong, much worse than most of the things that many religious people complain about today, and I want the Church to say so. It is the replacement of tradition with novelty, of beauty with banality, of humility with arrogance, of duty with willfulness, of inheritance with ideology, of what is natural with what is artificial. I cannot take seriously the moral complaints of "conservatives" who accept what I believe to be the catastrophic and evil modern worldwide trend of replacing monarchies with republics. It must be reversed. If that's not possible, then I see no point in politics. What I absolutely reject is any "conservative" or "Christian" approach to contemporary Europe that willingly consigns its Monarchies to history.



Sunday, May 9, 2021

The May King

I admit that the fact that I tend to devote more of my online time to social media is probably the main reason why this blog is not as active as it once was. However, at the moment I am unable to post on Facebook (don't ask), so in case I still have any readers, I will post about this here. Today is the 75th anniversary of the abdication of King Victor Emanuel III (1869-1947) in favour of his son King Umberto II (1904-1983). It has been speculated that if Victor Emanuel III had abdicated sooner, for example in 1943 immediately after the fall of Mussolini, he might have saved the Italian monarchy. However, we'll never know, and many monarchists including me believe that the referendum a month later was rigged by the USA.

Accordingly I have "updated" my Europe 75 Years Ago chart. Sadly, with the 75th anniversary of the accursed Republic approaching, Italy won't be on it at all much longer. And today, even the Royal Family are bitterly divided, as the New York Times reports a little too gleefully.




Friday, April 9, 2021

RIP Prince Philip (1921-2021)


I was deeply saddened this morning to wake up to the news of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021). A full and long life, but I had really wanted him to make 100 in June. I greatly admired his outspoken wit and dedication to countless causes and duties. He will be widely missed. Prayers for the Royal Family especially HM The Queen who has lost her incomparable source of strength and support of 73 years.

Here are links to obituaries from the Telegraph, the Times, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

As the last person who had been born into a foreign royal family to marry into the British Royal Family, the former Prince Philip of Greece was in many ways modern Britain's last living link with the world of Victorian and Edwardian continental European royalty, including vanished monarchies such as those of Germany, Greece, and Russia. Guests at his parents' wedding in Darmstadt in 1903 included Tsar Nicholas II (Princess Alice's uncle by marriage and Prince Andrew's first cousin), who, evading his security detail to push through the crowd, threw a full bag of rice and a satin slipper at the newlywed bride, who promptly threw them right back at him, reducing the Tsar of All the Russias to helpless laughter in the middle of the street.

Many years later, as a maternal grandnephew of Empress Alexandra, Prince Philip donated blood to aid with identification of the Romanov remains. Once when asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union (which he eventually did), he replied, "the bastards murdered half my family."

Princess Anne and Prince Edward shared memories of their late father and reflected on his legacy. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Monarchism and Identities

One reason why I may occasionally come across as Difficult online is perhaps that I have (at least) three very different sensibilities, none of which I can belong to completely, competing in one head. I'm (whether I like it or not) an American, who wants to be British, but who tries to apply to the British Monarchy a kind of ideological "Divine Right" monarchism (defeated in Britain in 1649) that is more Continental than British, though now virtually extinct on the Continent too. While I don't think I'm a humorless person, I admittedly probably do lack something of the distinctly British sense of humour (sometimes people assume that as an Anglophile I must love British comedy; actually, with the exception of Fawlty Towers, I often do not), and don't know how to debate as well-educated British people debate. I am perhaps prone to take too seriously things that even a very conservative actual British person might laugh off or not want to make a fuss about. Just some reflections that occurred to me (and a good excuse to post van Dyck's famous triple portrait of King Charles I).