The Real Oscar Awards

holy iPhoneI apologize for the lengthy hiatus on my blog. No doubt many of you, my children, have been grieving a lack of my wisdom. We Cardinal Rectors know that our audiences love sitting at our feet and soaking up the precious pearls of knowledge that we dispense. It seems that I had to let go one of our curates about two years ago. The young lad was trying to celebrate Mass whilst Tweeting, and he inadvertently consecrated his iPhone. Thus we fired him and buried his iPhone.

At long last, I replaced him with a new curate for blogging. I hope I can get back to this blog, since I know it is beloved to one and all. My new curate was just this morning telling me something about an “Oscar Party,” which, I feared would have meant some unwelcomed company at the Rectory this evening. It so happens that there is a cinema award called an Oscar, and people gather to watch people walk on a “red carpet,” even though Holy Week is weeks away. After hearing about this further, I have decided that I shall award my own real Oscar Awards. For this purpose only, I shall allow others to address me by my Christian name, rather than the customary Father Late.

Nominations will be accepted later this year, and people can come to my Cardinal Parish to receive awards. This is part of my duty to preserve the church, pure and undefiled, with proper Catholic liturgy using proper Elizabethan English. Here are the categories I shall offer.

copeBest Pre-Reformation Cope Worn in Procession

Best Post-Reformation Cope Worn in Procession

Best Eastward-facing Celebration of Mass

Best Re-Ordering of a Church to Get Rid of a Freestanding Altar

Best MC Direction Without Being Noticed

Best Preservation of Elizabethan English in a Parish Newsletter

Best Choral Anthem Sung Unaccompanied

Best Choral Anthem Sung Accompanied by Organ

Best Choral Anthem Sung Accompanied by Massive Orchestra

thuriferBest Thurifer

Best Rogation Procession Through the Countryside

Best Rogation Procession Shutting Down a Major City

Longest Great Vigil of Easter

Best Sermon Attacking Sloppy Liturgy

Best Plan to Destroy Lapel Mics

Best Bonfire of Cassock-Alb Destruction

Best Delegation of Pastoral Care to Curates

Best Attendance Numbers at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Best Use of an Angelus Bell to Disrupt Nearby Conventicles

Best Avoidance of All Diocesan Meetings and Conventions


I intend to protect all that is good and decent in Proper Churches. The threat of poorly done liturgy, heresy / Rite II, and cheap vestments is all too real. If you have other suggestions for Oscar Award categories, I bid you to submit them in the comments section of this blog post.

Yours in the Lord,




Creativity meets the Crucifixion…with startling results

One of the younger curates came into the office disturbed — as he is from time to time. His work includes scanning the various dispatches from diocese and national church, poor boy. It seems that I am called on to remind us all that indeed, in the fourteen days between the Sunday of the Passion and the Second Sunday of Easter, nothing displaces the Days of Holy Week, The Triduum, Easter Day or the Days of Easter Week. Even major feasts of our Lord — for example, the Annunciation, when Easter comes early, are put off until after Quasimodo Sunday. There seems to be some confusion about this and a good deal of loose talk about Earth Day and Good Friday — in an article on Episcopal News Service. The article quotes an “economic and environmental affairs officer” who seems to have forgotten the basic rubrics of the Prayer Book and its central focus on the Paschal Mystery, and it seems he has forgotten the profound joy of celebrating the bountiful creation on Rogation Sunday (maybe if we still beat choirboys to remind them of the parish bounds as we made the procession the writer’s memory might have been more clear?).

And, in perhaps letting honest concern about the environment run away with him, the officer equates the earth with God’s body (“another part of God’s body experiences yet another sort of crucifixion”). And of course, if he remembered the Feast of the Annunciation when the Eternal Son of God did take on a mortal body to redeem the whole creation, he would have been more careful in his language. Our High School Confirmation Class just finished a couple of sessions on the Nicene Creed. Perhaps a letter from some of them might be helpful in clarifying the relationship between Creator and Creation and the nature of the Incarnation of the Word

I thought this could be laid at the feet of a confused writer at the Episcopal News Service. And then, much to my dismay, another of my curates brought me the service leaflet from a nearby Episcopal congregation. Apparently, the vicar there read one too many pieces from 815, and decided to make some “improvements” to the Good Friday liturgy. Why clergy think they should be allowed to modify the prayer book is beyond me. Unless, of course, they are restoring beautiful, ancient Catholic traditions.

How did I get this service leaflet? No, it was not my intelligence-gathering curate (every Cardinal Parish needs one). Rather, there was a deanery meeting in our Guild Hall, and the nearby vicar used our copier, since theirs was on the fritz. (Funny, how the “creative” parishes never seem to be able to afford a service contract.) Anyway, the vicar left the original in the machine, and my curate dutifully brought me the leaflet. Just as soon as the parish administrator finishes typing it for me, I will post it here.

Now, back to inspecting the stational locations in our Palm Sunday Procession, at which our Junior High Group has built platforms for the altar party to be seen and heard above the massive throngs…

Yours in the Lord,

To badly go where no priest has gone before

Don’t start with me on the split infinitive in this post’s title. That will be the least of your worries once you read on. It seems that a business called “Clergy Couture” has begun creating clergy attire for the day when chaplains are a routine part of the crew on spacecraft as they wing through outer space. This attire is not fit for planet Earth, as you can see in the photo to the right. Haute couture is one thing; haute church is another.

Now I have nothing against women priests or special clergy attire for women. As long as it involves black shirts, amices, and orphreys in the traditional patterns. The departure from fashion norms in place since the time of Christ is not my only objection here. You see, clergy are not supposed to worry about things like couture, or at least we’re not supposed to admit it. “Oh, this thing? It’s just a priceless 14th century cope made by 17 monks over 40 years of dawn-to-dusk labor.” That’s completely different from “I am wearing the latest fashions from ‘Clergy Couture’ as you can plainly see.”

Even more than that,  I prefer to view my science fiction costumes at the movie theatre,  not in the sanctuary. If I wanted that sort of thing in my parish, we’d use Prayer C. Or maybe we’d sing that dreadful hymn about stars and hammers.

Dear readers, if you see any clergy sporting these costumes, encourage them to call George Lucas about a role in his next sci-fi epic or to contact NASA about taking their show on the road. On the road to Mars, that is. And remember, our Lord spoke Aramaic not Klingon.

Yours in the Lord,

Fr. Late’s Guide to Texting

You may find this surprising but some clergy in the Anglican Communion are not fluent in “text speak.” Or at least they do not, like me, keep a 20-something junior curate on retainer to handle all issues technological.

This point was driven home for me recently when I learned that a colleague, who shall remain nameless, inadvertently yet inappropriately responded to a pastoral situation with the wrong texting language. You could argue that pastoral care should never be conducted by any means other than face-to-face contact. But anyway, here was the situation:

Said cleric, upon hearing via electronic mail that a parishioner had just been diagnosed with cancer and was distraught, wrote back to her “LOL.” Clearly not his finest pastoral moment — although perhaps he learned his pastoral theology at a lesser low-church seminary that also shall not be named. He mistakenly thought LOL meant “lots of love” rather than “laugh out loud.”

In this vein I offer you, my dear children,  an updated guide to the 10 most common texting terms. Use them with abandon in all church communications.

LOL – Lo! Osculate Lavishly (alternate meaning: Lovin’ Oscar Late)

TTYL – Ten Thuribles Yield Liturgy

CUL8R – Eight Red Chasubles

ROFL – Rubrics of Father Late

OMG –Omit Maniple Grudgingly

CYA – Catholic Yet Anglican

WTF — Wafers Taste Fine

BFF – Buy Fine Frankincense

GTG –  Genuflect, thou! Grandly!

LMAO — Lengthy Mass? Anglicans OK.

Tattoo You

While I understand that many of you young folks are enamored with tattoos, they are a disgrace. They are to your body what not wearing a chasuble to celebrate the Eucharist is to the liturgy. “You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28).

To me the only viable Christian “tattoo” is the result of a thurible accident that has left a portion of your skin branded — preferably with the face of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While this would never happen at my fine church — the thurifers undergo intensive training that includes a two-year retreat in the massive, yet somehow not-drafty undercroft — I understand that some clergy and lay liturgical participants are not as well equipped for the rigors of offering holy smoke unto the Lord.

Nonetheless, I feel compelled to point out the worst of the offenders. If you recognize yourself, please unfriend me on Facebook until the liturgical laser has made you whole and unblemished.

This one looks like the disembodied hands of a football receiver about to catch a cross. And the statement “only God can judge me” is not true — I can judge this a lousy tattoo and the waste of a perfectly good back.

See if you can fly. Please. I’ll lead you up to the top of my lofty and imposing bell tower.

What can I say about this one except that it’s no wonder Jesus can’t bear to watch.

You’d close your eyes too if you were depicted like this — and with a pigeon about to poop on your head to boot. Although the back (or whatever this is) acne is a nice touch.

Please know that I’m posting this for your own good. There will be great joy in heaven if I can prevent even one of you from getting such a tattoo.

Yours in the Lord,

Father “Oscar Late”+

Although I appreciated the recent “chant out” from Episcopal Cafe quoting my suggestions for a better GOE, I was quite distressed to see them use my sacred name in quotes. Not air quotes, mind you, but actual quotation marks as if I didn’t even exist. This affront to the good name of Oscar Late+ — in addition to not using my proper title of “Father” — was a slap in the face to all good and decent liturgical practices.

And it was particularly rich considering this so-called “Cafe” has yet to deliver the double espresso I ordered. If this is the state of table service and outdoor seating in the Episcopal Church, it’s no wonder membership is declining. You may as well put out an umbrella emblazoned with “Cinzano” and go to Rome. Or head to a Beer Garden in Bavaria.

It’s a good thing this “Cafe” is not catering the Coffee Hour at my Cardinal Parish where I serve as the Cardinal Rector. Members of our St. Drogo Guild, who roast and then freshly grind beans from all over the world to serve to parishioners following Sunday morning liturgies, would not be pleased with such sloppy service.

I will pray for the soul of this Episcopal “Cafe” with special intention for their baristas and pastry chefs. May the service improve and may they repent of their quotable sin with pure and contrite hearts.

Yours in the Lord,

A Better CPE Experience

After my post on the GOE, I thought I would tackle the other great rite of passage for ordinands, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). I understand from a few nonagenarians in my congregation (who have graciously designed their wills to leave all of their financial assets to my parish, earmarked for the vestment fund) that student chaplains in hospitals and nursing homes can be quite unhelpful. This is a shame since pastoral care is a key component of priestly ministry. I take it so seriously that I delegate it out to not one but two of my junior curates.

But this did get me thinking that one of the great joys of aging will be torturing CPE students. If you are currently in or considering a hospital stay in the near future, here are a few ways to handle student chaplains:

  1. Ask them to explain the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed and don’t let them leave until they define precisely where they stand on the issue and how it will affect you in the afterlife.
  2. Ditto homoousios vs. homoiousios.
  3. Make up a proverb (any fortune cookie will do), tell them it was your dead mother’s favorite verse of Scripture, and ask that they find the chapter and verse and tape a copy below the power button on the TV.
  4. In the middle of the night, phone the chaplain’s office and ask for an on-call student chaplain to come immediately and solve a burning spiritual crisis. Then ask the barely awake young man or woman to change your bed pan.
  5. Demand to know why God hates you.
  6. Demand to know why God hates the person in the bed next to you.
  7. After they pray with you, critique the prayer with Olympic-style ratings. “I’d give the opening a 5.2, the middle of the prayer a solid 4, and the closing doxology a 2.2. You forgot the Holy Spirit; better luck next time – see you in an hour.”
  8. Tell them you’re considering converting to Buddhism and ask that they talk you out of it.
  9. Insist they smuggle in some incense the next time they visit you. Question the validity of prayers spoken without it.
  10. Kindly tell them that you firmly believe that they are truly called – not to ordained ministry but to being an orderly. Then have them explain to you why the volume on the TV goes up every time you try to adjust the bed.

Best wishes for the next time you find yourself in such a setting. Perhaps I’ll send one of my curates in to give you some real pastoral care. You’ll know them because I insist they fully vest for such occasions. I also bid them, on occasion, to walk through the hospital with one of our several monstrances offering Benediction to entire wings of patients and staff.

Yours in the Lord,

A better General Ordination Exam

My parish, being a thriving place, has several people in the ordination process. So this week, I am praying for my parishioners who are taking the General Ordination Exam. Of course, we have a special votive mass every morning at 9 a.m. to pray for our own examinees and others around the country.

writing bookThe GOE is a rite of passage for everyone who seeks ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church. Whenever I go to diocesan clergy events, my colleagues express their dismay at the test. They seem to consider it too hard or even irrelevant. Being a Cardinal Rector, my opinion differs from theirs. I think the GOE is a good idea. However, I do think the questions could be refined a bit. Here are some ideas to get the General Board of Examining Chaplains going.

The Holy Scriptures. Cite several instances of the Biblical use of chanting, incense, and ornate vestments. Explain why elaborate liturgy is the most Biblical liturgy. Resources: The Holy Bible and works of Percy Dearmer.

Church History, including the Ecumenical Movement. Explain how the first Book of Common Prayer (1549) continued the development of the Sarum Use, generally considered the apex of Western Liturgy. Give several reasons why our ecumenical partners might benefit from our superior liturgical tradition. For bonus points, you may take swipes at the prayer book of 1552. Resources: Open.

Christian Theology, including Missionary Theology and Missiology. Using the Celtic idea of “thin places” between earth and heaven, explain why mediocre liturgy is less effective than outstanding liturgy at bringing people into Christ’s saving embrace. Resources: Service leaflets from nearby parishes.

Christian Ethics and Moral Theology. Some people complain that $10,000 copes are not an appropriate use of funds. Defend the ethics of fine vestments, using especially Mark 14:7. Resources: The Holy Bible and fine vestment catalogs.

Studies in Contemporary Society, including Racial and Minority Groups. The Anglo-Catholic movement was propelled by its incarnational theology to serve the poor. Give three reasons why Catholic liturgy is effective at encouraging worshipers to serve others. Resources: Open.

Liturgics and Church Music. You have just been called as an honourary assistant curate at Fr. Oscar Late’s parish. Congratulations! Design your installation service, using the considerable resources of Fr. Late’s parish. The liturgy should last between two and three hours. Specify anthems, hymns, lessons, the order of procession, and the number of brass players. Resources: Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal 1982, musical works of Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton. (Please include your contact information and cope size.)

Theory and Practice of Ministry. One important part of the practice of ministry is the acquisition of fine incense and lavish silk. Please detail your plans for traveling to points far and wide to acquire these materials. Resources:

By the way, if you think the General Ordination Exam is difficult, you should not attempt my parish’s General Acolyte Exam. You have been warned.

Bad Window of the Day

circumcision windowMy dear children, let me first convey my apologies for not writing these last few weeks. What can I say? It’s been a busy time. There was a new crop of curates to train. We had some unseasonable weather, and my beloved incense cellar was compromised. Fortunately, I had new curates, so I dispatched two of them to the best places in Africa and Asia for gathering sweet, savory offerings to the Lord. My cellar is well stocked again, thanks be to God.

Well, after sleeping in today — we had a full house last night at our Midnight Mass, complete with a dropping botafumeiro at midnight — I had some time to do a bit of blogging. By popular demand, I am returning to blogging with another Bad Window of the Day. This one is bad not because of low quality or poor craftsmanship. After all, this gem is found in the Cloisters in New York (a city which could use a decent church or two).

I am considering this one bad because it is a bit too…graphic. On the Feast of the Circumcision, mostly we want to be thinking about lovely motets and fine processions. Who wants to consider actual pain? Also, let’s face it, the bald guy seems to be enjoying all of this a bit much.

Now for those of you who might protest, let me make a suggestion. You know how we all hold baptisms on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord? Well, how about some public circumcisions next year on January 1. No? Then I guess you’ll agree with me about this Bad Window of the Day.

Now, excuse me, please. I have to decide which cope to wear for tomorrow afternoon’s service of Lessons, Carols, and Homilies.

Holy Smokes! It’s the Incense Car

Father Late's Incense Car

Just because I, Father Late, do not need a car to commute – there are a number of hidden catacombs that connect my home oratory to the church sacristy – this does not mean that I am unconcerned with the environment. This is why I directed the chair of my Buildings & Grounds Committee to design a car that runs exclusively on high quality incense. The trunk of my retrofitted black hearse contains what is, in effect, the world’s largest thurible. You’ll recognize my vehicle by the white cross on the hood; the loud, yet well-tuned sanctus bells that serve as the horn; and the fragrant exhaust pipe. And I’ll recognize you since you’ll be crossing yourself whenever you get a whiff of the holy vehicle.

How does my Incense Car actually work? You don’t need an engineering degree to know that one of my junior curates sits in the back to keep the coals burning and the incense stoked as needed. He is, of course, appropriately vested in black cassock, a fully-gathered, made-in-England surplice, and tippet. Prior to the outing, he has selected the proper grains from my extensive incense cellar. Being driven to preside at a solemn requiem mass for a fellow presbyter requires a different blend than a trip to select material and fabric for a new coronation set.

Incense Car at Work

The best part of my Incense Car is that it serves multiple purposes:

1. It is highly functional, allowing me to travel to spiritual retreats throughout the local countryside.

2. It allows me to lead Rogation Day processions without the inconvenience of walking.

3. In permitting me to cense the local population while performing even the most mundane errand, it is the ultimate evangelism machine.

Yours in the Lord,