Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Fr Hunwicke has once again been knocking some liturgical nails on the head with his post STILL WAITING FOR VATICAN II where he deals with the disappearance from the modern Roman rite of the Septuagesima season.

It's removal is one more example of that "false archaeology" which sought to restore the liturgy to what certain experts thought it had once been.

I think I can understand ( but not share) their desire to signify the seasonal change to Lent by removing the transitional phase of Septuagesima - purple vestements, no Alleluia or Gloria - which looked rather like the Lenten observance, so as to emphasise the importance of Lent itself. Nonetheless Septuagesima and the two following Sundays were a genuine, and ancient, part of the liturgical heritage of the Church - dare I call it patrimony? There is something wrong in principle in destroying something ancient so as to recover something perceived as more ancient, particularly when the two can coexist, and have done for centuries.

Not only was it part of the continuing tradition of the Church in the West, but it is similar to what is, I understand, the phased introduction of Lent in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In any case Lent was marked off by other disciplines of fasting as well as the liturgical fast of no music and, of course, and they were bound to appear on this blog sooner or later, the folded chasuble and the broad stole.


The Lenten folded chasuble and the broad stole

Image: New Liturgical Movement

As Fr Hunwicke points out the Church still has enough cause to seek Divine assistance by a season of penitential prayer for its practical needs before the more intense period of personal penitence and preparation that is Lent.

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