Monday, April 21, 2014

The Holy Fire

Worshippers hold candles as they take part in the Christian Orthodox Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City April 19, 2014 (Reuters / Amir Cohen)

Happy and Blessed Easter, May the Light of the Risen Christ fill you with His Joy!

The Exultet speaks of the Church shaking, of the night being changed to day, of the mighty voices of the faithful. of trumpets sounding, of being filled with joy it doesn't seem to happen quite that!

The Miracle of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem, is the popular highlight of Orthodox worship in the city of the Resurrection. It is a strange mixture of liturgy, devotion, political expression, partisanship, it is exuberant and wild, westerners who have witnessed have described it as terrifying. For Palestinian Christians especially it is a celebration of who they are and of the simple fact that they belong in the Holy Land, Holy City and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This year Israeli police have tried again to restrict access to the Holy Sepulchre and to the areas around it, it is part of the process of 'control' of minorities, especially Palestinians and Christians who have lived in Jerusalem for centuries. Even under the Ottomans there was fear of riot, today the same fears exist, as well as modern concerns about 'elf and safety'.

Many really do accept the fire is indeed supernatural as the videos introduction says; in the West the movement of the Crucifix from the tomb to the High Altar was often so described, before the Reformation; and I seem to remember, when Holy Week rituals varied considerably from place to place that fire or a candle was 'entombed' in some hidden place and its reappearance as fire was described as 'miraculous'. Many Orthodox would describe not just the coming of the fire as miraculous but the fire itself, saying that when first taken from the tomb it doesn't burn, of torches spontaneously lighting, even of miracles of healing taking place during the ceremony.

For us Westerners exotic exuberance is really very alien, it is certainly not part of the staid matter-of-factness of the Roman Rite. If anything post-Concilliar piety has become even more staid and controlled.

A Polish priest friend told me of having several thousand at food blessing on Holy Saturday, less than a hundred at the 'Queen of Liturgies', the Easter Vigil and just hundreds at the Easter Masses. In Spain the traditional penitential street procession bring out the whole town, apart from the old lefties, whilst the attendance at official liturgies can be somewhat meagre. At Christmas some parishes do a children's crib service with the Eucharist tacked on, early on Christmas Eve, they are packed out, whilst the actual Christmas Day Masses have dramatically decreasing congregations.

Low Sunday, the Liturgy certainly speaks of God's mercy, the Gospel of Jesus giving the Apostle power to forgive sins but it is the devotion to St Faustina's 'Divine Mercy' that has gradually taken over. For some, Good Friday seems to be just the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena.

Most priests are creatures of the 'Liturgical Movement' but I am beginning to wonder whether its followers are necessarily doing something good. 'Devotions' were very much part of the Irish experience, pilgrimage to local sacred sites, the Rosary, the Sacred Heart, private penitential practices seemed to have nourished something vibrant, I can't help thinking imposing the liturgy on people at the expense of devotions is one of the reasons for the loss of health in the Irish Church.

The video of Fr Ray Kelly fills me with horror but I wonder if in fact for most people the modern Liturgy actually creates a vacuum, which priest like Fr Kelly feel obliged to fill, other 'pastoral' priest seem compelled to fill something which is lacking by puppetry, dance, entertainment, felt banners, in fact what people like me roll our eyes at.

In the Old Rite, which even Pope Francis recently described as becoming fashionable, especially amongst the young, it seems to be accepted that the clergy said Mass and did what priests should do, often in a perfunctory, workman-like way, whilst the faithful simply did their own thing. Clergy and laity were interdependent but somehow rather than controlling the faithful, or worst still clericalising them, the clergy seemed to feed and encourage their devotion.

In the video of the Miracle of the Holy Fire the clergy seem to do their own thing and they laity there's, is there a clue that the laity here are predominantly rather loud men, not in suits? They could be a football crowd. It strikes me that perhaps one key to new-evangelisation is simply putting as much effort into promoting popular devotion as we have into the Liturgy, maybe somehow especially amongst men.

Basically, I want people to go wild with the Easter Mysteries rather than treat them as an old maid's tea party in an English parlour.

Another example of 'Greek Fire'
thanks to Fr Tim

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Whilst the Church sleeps Beata who is very talented, like our servers and sacristans and choir puts the finishing touches to the flower arrangements. The veils are of course removed from the statues when the altar candles are lit during the Gloria, for some reason we tend only to be able to get the lights to come on during the Gloria. I know the rubric says the lights should be on during the reading of the seven prophecies but they just don't work then, so we listen to them in the radiance of the Risen Christ. It does seem strange to have the three Lumen Christi's and then turn on the electricity straight away, as they do in Rome. I think there is great symbolism in reading the Old Testament in the light of the risen Christ. 
As I say that is what the rubrics seem to say, though of course there is no specific mention of the 'electric light' or for that matter of the 'electric microphone', in the Missal, though there are clear indications that the priest prays at Mass facing the same direction as the people and most priest don't do it, we do here, so from the Gloria on the altar will be a mass of light.

Anyhow while everyone works hard here is a picture of me reading the tablet, we do not allow the magazine of that name in the Church but I love Universalis, quite a few of my parishioners have started saying the Office from it, much cheaper than the paper version, we use it to prepare Mass leaflets too, and the MCs are debating whether it appropriate to use a tablet for the prayers which here are done in the dark, and maybe the 7 prophecies too.

Good News! Holy Saturday

This is really the Good News: today Christ has descended amongst the dead, and death itself has been destroyed, the Just led from captivity to freedom. Mankind has has been reconciled to God, heaven has been opened up to us.

For those with faith the grave holds no terror, we have been made anew. We who were once enemies of God, have been made friends. More than that, we have become Sons: what Christ  is by nature we have become by adoption, we have become Divine, we have become Immortal, we have come to share in the life of the Holy Trinity, into whose inner life we have been baptised.

The past has been destroyed, the shackles and chains that held us in the grip of sin have been broken, once slaves and captive, now we are truly free as God has desired. Today God's plan for us has been revealed. Today what has been shown in the Old Covenant in a hidden Mystery is now shown clearly in the one who is the Resurrection and the Life.

An 'Ancient Homily' from the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday
"What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.
Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.
The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.
‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.
‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.
‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.
'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.
`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.
‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.
"The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."
Christ descends, splits assunder the created order, trampling the gates of Hell, under his feet are Satan's locks and fetters that have held us captive, he grabs hold of our ancient parents and leads them and all the just from hell, their inglorious prison to the their freely given glory.
This is the reason I find it incongruous, we should join the baying mob crying, 'crucify him' during the Passion, that some might disagree with me, I say this with a smile, indicates how far we fail appreciate what Christ has done for us, and how little the Resurrection, and therefore Grace, really impinges on our theology. Yes, concupiscence, the wounds of sin, exists but in the West we too easily loose sight of what God has made us.

Holy Saturday, today, is very much a dies non. It is not as the Orthodox might term it 'Holy and Great Saturday'. It is interesting that whilst most Catholics simply ignore it, for the Poles who use our Church it the time when even those who are lapsed still turn out in huge numbers for 'food blessing', even the lapsed come, Polish priests complain, 'they come for food blessing but ignore Easter Mass' for two hours there there are short back to back services of blessing. I estimate that with the Church filling and emptying over a thousand people pass through our doors. What the liturgy fails to do 'food blessing' manages to accomplish.

For Poles food blessing, not the Vigil, marks the end of Lent, perhaps that is why here in England Lent seems to fade out and people aren't that certain when to start indulging. I was really disappointed some of my parishioners decided it was after the Liturgy yesterday and went off to the pub opposite the church, someone else told me about her delicious bacon sandwich which she for lunch, I hope I am not moaning just saying how little impact our attempts at teaching have. Food blessing is an interesting vestige of the pre-Pius XII reform of the Easter Vigil which occurred not in the evening of Holy Saturday but early in the morning. Though the pious might have joined the clergy for the solemn Vigil, in which the Church was restored, 'Resurrecting' if you will, most of the faithful would have come to this rite of blessing later in the day, to, in a sense, take Easter home. Before Holy Thursday the Missal calls for fonts etc to be emptied of Holy Water, we pour all of ours into the sacrarium, the Poles keep some or bless some for this blessing of food, presumably that is a vestige too of the old early morning Vigil.

When we eventually come to rewrite, not just the modern Missal but the Rites themselves, perhaps the experts who do it might encourage some connection between the what happens in the Church and what happens the home, the 'domestic church'. I couldn't help noticing yesterday how dated the Intercessions sounded, time capsules from the 1960s!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Altar of Repose

Our Altar of Repose, more here

Today, after the Liturgy

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Donkeys and Asses

One of my parishioners asked, "Father couldn't we have a donkey for Palm Sunday next year?"
"Why?" I asked,
"For the children", she replied.
"Can't you teach them to be content with the ass God has sent them and is here every Sunday, rather than coveting their neighbour's donkey.


Whilst we are on the subject, for the North American who read here last year the word is pronounced 'ass' as in 'ass-embly' or 'lass' not  as in 'farce'.

While I'm rambling, another of my parishioners said, "You know, Father up until the Council we all used to say 'Mass' as in 'pass', then suddenly we had to say 'Mass' as in 'crass'. Off-guard, I still occasionally find myself saying 'Holy Mass", as my American friend pronounces 'ass'.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Confessional advice for frequent sinners

So you have been coming to Confession for the last forty-eight years and apart from a few occasions, you could be saying, "Same as last time. Father".

Some sins are like crocodiles, the really do kill the soul: murder, apostasy and adultery, were considered the very worse, for most of us they are easily recognised and avoided and once recognised can be dealt with, the same with other sins which are like rats that gnaw away at our souls given gravity, full knowledge and willing co-operation, they too kill our relationship with God, but they are recognisable. Once we understand how dreadful they are we bring them to Confession and deal with them.

The third type of sins are like fleas or lice, we know they are, we feel them biting, we can recognise the rash or the sickness the bring, sometimes they are the infections of other people, sometimes something that has been growing in the depths of our soul for years. These sins often infect us from childhood, maybe even infections we receive from our parents or from friends or those we associate with. They produce dis-ease but we can't identify them.

The first two types of sin must be dealt with in the Confessional, not only to free us from them but to heal us of the infections they bring, in one sense they are easily dealt with, not dealing with them can cost us our salvation and lead us to eternal separation from God, to Hell. They must be confessed before we receive Holy Communion because they turn Communion into eating and drinking our condemnation, something which should be salvific into something which brings judgement upon us.

The third type of sin, we are not strictly bound to confess, and although the wounds can be quite serious, they tend to distance us from God rather separate us from him. They certainly wound our relationship with him, hence we call the 'venial' rather 'mortal'. They are best dealt with by bringing ourselves into contact with Christ through prayer and penance certainly but also through Christ's healing power in the Most Holy Eucharist and as far as we are able to name them in the Sacrament of Penance. It is worth remembering that the Sacrament of Penance isn't just about the forgiveness of sins but also meeting Christ who heals and who strengthens, so that we can say truly, 'By the help of your Grace I will never sin again'. Confession renews Christ's power in us.

Remember it is by His Grace we pray we will never sin again, we can do our best but for all our efforts we come back with the same old bag of rubbish. The good news is 'Jesus saves'. And it is Jesus, not us who saves us. We are not the Saviour of the world, or even of our families, and certainly not of ourselves, it is blasphemous even to think it. All we have is our weakness, and our history of sin but recognising that and handing it over to Christ is our only strength.

All we can give Him is our weakness, taking it along to the Calvary, the city rubbish dump and placing all our sin, our rubbish before Him, who takes away the sins of the world. He alone can heal us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The sign we give

I was pleased last year to have a bad back and so on Holy Thursday I had already thought about not washing the feet during the Sacred Triduum, I hesitated because the choir had already prepared the music for it and the chant for it had been printed in the Mass booklets. When Pope Francis decided to disregard the Church's law and follow his own instincts, I decided to follow mine and not wash anyone's feet but instead leave the bowl and towel that we would have used on the sanctuary step and invite people to come forward and put money in the bowl for the poor whilst the Mandatum was sung, they were very generous.

Before I understood the meaning of the rite I was happy to wash anyone's feet, because like the Pope I understood it to be about serving others. The CDW of course explained that it was about Christ specifically caring for the Apostles, those gathered with him at the Eucharist, who he would that evening commission to celebrate Mass themselves by saying "Do this in memory of me", it was obvious I was wrong and had misled people. I have had several battles, as have many priests, to do what the Law requires us to do and wash only the feet of men.. If the Pope chooses to break the Law, that is a personal choice, he has the power as Pontiff to change it but he has chosen not to do so.

I think the media and dissidenr Catholics likes to present the Pope as a latter day Robin Hood, adapting the Law and customs  to suit himself, the problem is of course that it creates confusion for everyone else and weakens the sense of the Law for the rest of us. Law can of course be oppressive but in the Church it is meant to preserve justice and to protect the weak, and ensure the strong do not exceed their authority or pervert doctrine.

My mother used to speak of everyone in authority washing the feet of those subject to their authority before Easter in her Yugoslavian village; fathers would wash the feet of their families, masters and their servants, employers their employees, teachers the feet of the children they taught, army officers the feet of their soldiers, even partisan leaders would wash the feet of their communist comrades. After the Reformation in England the Sovereign continued to wash the feet of the poor until the 18th century, the "Royal Maundy" continues without the washing, with the Queen giving money to the poor. I would very much welcome Francis and indeed the whole Roman Curia going out into the streets of Rome with bowls, ewers and towels to wash the feet of poor and to distribute alms all day on Holy Thursday - what a wonderful sign.

Here, for a brief time I used wash the feet of 12 male rough sleepers at Mass and give them a small 'offering', they would come along just for that portion of the Mass and go. I think people thought it was rather wonderful, I began to think it was crass and more about me, than the liturgy or Christ. Christ's sign is not one about caring for the poor, or even those on the 'peripheries' of the Church, rather it is about caring for those at the heart of the Church, it ends the continued bickering amongst the disciples about who is the greatest.

There is something very intimate about the sign of the Bishop washing the feet of his beoloved priests, as there was something intimate about Christ washing his apostles feet. Peter, and presumably the others, was deeply embarrassed by it. It wasn't a public act but one behind closed doors, in the Upper Room. Judas after all is the one the disciples presume is being sent to give relief to the poor, the faithful Apostles remained with the Christ. Foot-washing is an ad intra sign at the heart of the Church. It was indeed a statement about power and relationships in the Church's government. In Rome especially where there is huge gap filled by various 'leperous courtiers', (Francis' words) between the Bishop of Rome and his diocesan clergy, how beautiful the sign of the Pope getting down on his knees to serve those who in theory are supposed to be his co-workers and closest collaborators. There are two signs that were given by Francis last year, the first was washing the feet of boys and girls, some of whom were not Christians, the second sign, which is equally powerful though not noticed by the more casual observer was deciding not to wash his priest's feet.

There is something significant about Jesus washing the feet of the twelve then going on the share the Passover with them. There is something very important that he takes this heavily prescribed Jewish ritual and changes it. I wonder whether using a ewe rather than ram would have invalidated the rite, presumably the Angel of death would have struck down the first born if the victim's sex broke with Tradition, for the Jews this of course wasn't an issue they simply did what was handed on.. Playing about with signs and symbols and there language within the context of religion is very dangerous, we simply don't know what can of worms we are opening up.

The signs we give are always multi-layered, signs go beyond words, the don't have a fixed meaning, often the sign intended is not the sign that is received, different people perceive signs in different ways. Last year Francis' footwashing was taken by the world as a great act of his personal humility, for others it was a sign of inclusivity, involving non-Christians and women in this rite. I am afraid for me and for many others, it was a sign of lawlessness at the heart of the Church, the Supreme Lawgiver of the Catholic Church acting lawlessly. It became a sign of how during the Franciscan Pontificate the law -and tradition- should be interpreted, the Mandatum is after all about law and power. The chant that accompanies it says, "I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you ...", this is a commandment laid not on everyone but only on Christ's followers, the Church.

The build up to the Synod on the Family is an obvious example of the breaking down of certainties, after the Kasper intervention at the Consistory it seems, to some, that the Church's teaching appears to be in a state of flux by those who are looking for signs. I was told of a man recently who for over two decades has been living heroically in a 'brother/sister' relationship with an equally heroic woman whose first marriage broke down after ten years, they tried to get an annulment which failed, since then they have done their best to live according to the teaching of the Church. The man having read the text of the Cardinal's speech asked, 'Father, have we wasted the last 22 years?' He said that he now felt his faith was undermined, that the struggle he and his 'wife' had engaged in was by the Cardinal's teaching meaningless and vainglorious and that it was endorsed by the Pope who hadn't given any clear sign that he upheld the teaching these two people were trying to live by. There are many men and women in this situation, the sacrifices they have made have been truly heroic, for me they are signs of grace and often heroic virtue, now it seems that they might well have wasted their lives, this is another of the signs that is being given.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him

Fr Simon Henry has a post about participation, in which he says he chooses to read the shorter form of the Passion on Palm Sunday, I have been doing that for years, partly because if we didn't our Mass would over run and the Poles who have the next Mass slot will be arriving and waiting for Polish confessions and it just would not be fair. His reason is, "...rather than endure the miserable doling out of parts to various readers and the "crowd" voice to the slightly embarrassed congregation, with the attendant inconsequential mutterings of, "cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him" echoing underwhelmingly around the church.

Yes, I too hate the primary-schoolisation of adults, I really loathe that classroom thing some old priests have, of greeting with, 'Good morning everyone' to which the congregation like Class 2 replies "Good-morn-ning-Father", it is horrid, it is infantalising, it is secular, especially if it replaces the Christian greeting of "Dominus vobiscum", in whatever language.

But my real big hate, which has a very serious theological  basis, is I too hate the congregation crying, "Crucify him". It is obviously necessary for a deputed person to do it as it is the text of the Gospels but actually we aren't the baying mob, we are the Faithful who stand at the foot of the Cross, we are the Church, we stand alongside the Holy Women and St John. For all our sinfulness, we are the friends of Jesus, though maybe we behave like enemies, we are his costly-bought disciples.

I am glad Fr Henry's congregation mutters underwhelmingly, "cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him", it shows that his catechesis on the Mass and his people place at Mass has had a good  effect. It would be terrifying if they really did say these words with any enthusiasm.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A few thoughts on Evangelisation

A few thoughts on Evangelisation with SPES tramping the streets of my parish calling in the lost and the distanced.

Someone left a comment recently to the effect that ever since the Second Vatican Council we have been talking endlessly about evangelisation but in practice doing very little, in fact it could be said we have been 'counter evangelising', at least in the North we have lost far more than we have gained: empty churches, empty seminaries, empty convents are a testimony to our success.

On the eve of the Council ordination years of 60 plus were not uncommon in seminaries in Ireland, Holland, Belgium, even France, religious sister often had similar numbers of professions. The bitter truth is that seminaries and novitiates that trained these young men and women have now closed, Trads blame the changes brought in by the Council, liberals blame the changes not brought in after the Council, Conservatives blame 'sociological factors', though no-one seems to have done a serious study on what are these factors.

 Most Catholics, including priests and therefore one might also suggest bishops too, I would suggest are unconvinced about the need for Evangelisation, the notion of universal salvation, an empty Hell, have taken hold so tightly that there is no reason to Evangelise. It simply doesn't have a supernatural, salvific or teleological purpose. Universalism means that really evangelising people just ties burdens on people, alienating them from their culture and imposing unnecessary moral burdens on them.

A second not unconnected reason is that we do not know how to evangelise. We do not know what needs to be communicated. Do we actually dare to say that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and without him no-one can know the Father? Are we not more likely to suggest that Evangelisation is about joining a hand-holding, feel good community, with few moral or faith demands. Our problem is that there is so much confusion about what Catholics actually believe and how Catholics are expected to live.

Despite Vatican II urging everyone to Evangelise; a very characteristic trend of pre-Concilliar spirituality seen in such movements as wide ranging as the Liturgical Movement, Opus Dei, the Legion of Mary, the Catholic Evidence Guild, not to mention such publications as the CTS the Tablet and the work many significant Catholic authors, Evangelisation has become like so many things in the Church an area of specialisation. Teachers or catechists not mothers and fathers are expected to evangelise children. The idea that a work of mercy incumbent on all to teach the ignorant has so slipped far from Catholic consciousness to the point where it seems many 'small group meetings', RCIA groups seem to be sharing and compounding rather than dispelling ignorance. Such discussion only serves to spread confusion.  As the previous Pope said to our own Bishops:
In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.

Evangelisation can only possibly work

  • if the members of the Church recognise the need to do it
  • if they are confident in doing it
  • if they know what message needs to be communicated
  • if there is no confusion about the message
  • if we have a leadership that actually practices it (rather than merely talks about it)
Ultimately it is possible only if we believe in it

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

From Soho to Brighton

Later today the six members of SPES St Patrick's Evangelisation School are arriving in Brighto to tramp the streets of my parish to invite people to come to the life changing Easter Mysteries.

We clergy talk a lot about Evangelisation, I often think its a bit of an excuse not to do it. It is the Sir Humphrey thing, "Yes Prime Minister, we'll set up a Royal Commission", which will talk and talk and produce a lot of paper, make people feel good but achieve nothing.

We are taking the Holy Father seriously and going out onto the streets -the peripheries- and to talking about God.

There are actually seven in the team, Fr Alexander's dog is coming down too (dog pictures to follow).

Pray for the SPES team, pray this little burst of evangelisation is fruitful, pray for my parish, pray for the people who SPES will talk to.

Somehow the Church needs to undergo a conversion from seeing itself as centred on offering Mass for those already safely inside the Church to offering baptism to those outside but then we need to be convinced by Jesus' words, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God". These words precede, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink".
Evangelisation leads to Baptism and Baptism leads to the Eucharist and eternal life - we need to be convinced that the ultimate act of charity is giving Jesus Christ, because no-one can come to the Father except through him.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Best thing I have read: Joe Shaw on Liberalism

Our faith is entirely rational, indeed it may be arrived at by reason but we cannot replace it with reason.

Some Russian General said or should have said, 'If you want to be victorious don't let you adversary choose the battlefield'. Joseph Shaw, in one of the best things I have read on the net, argues in a four part post that as Catholics we can't really engage liberals on the level of pure logic or pure reason and win, in part because we fundamentally disagree on the opening premise of what is 'good' and what is the 'end' of mankind.

He argues, as we have seen that liberalism grows and grows, ultimately it consumes itself in totalitarianism. What he seems to be writing about is the dethroning of God and the setting up of the State in God's place; an idol that all are forced to worship and obey. He blames social conservatives (but we could also add religious conservatives) who bit by bit concede to the liberal agenda.

Increasingly we will find that 'the liberals' want to destroy the Church and her teaching if they cannot remake her in their own image, we see this in nuns teaching the Catholic faith clearly in the US being met with howls of protest in the US, or others like a friend's wife here being spat upon for upholding on the television a view about the nature of marriage, which only a year or two ago would have been considered perfectly normal.

We can continue to compromise, admitting pro-abortion, pro-same sex politicians to Holy Communion, we can continue to allow the government to dictate how we teach Catholic morality in our schools but the time is no too far away when even the most eirenical of the senior clergy must realise that allowing Stonewall and other such groups, who in their fundamental understanding of the very nature of the human person, into our schools is simply not possible and is contradiction of all we hold dear. We are getting to stage where good bishops who seek to protect their sheep from persecution must concede that it is impossible to serve liberalism and God. Liberalism itself will not allow it, its nature is too prescriptive.

Dr Shaw indicates that the liberal agenda starts by talking of freedom but ultimately enslaves, as big government grows and 'for the good' of society tries to control every aspect of human existence the 'lie' of liberalism will emerge. I am left by his piece thinking that the 'useful idiots' the conservatives, will merely supply a more moderate face to something very unpleasant until the disguise eventually slips.

Catholic Tradition is always radical, it is not about museum curating, it about contradiction of liberal values. Conservatives will never change hearts and minds, never evangelise, never offer an alternative to 'the world' and never be able to offer an alternative to the destructive stranglehold that today embraces popular society.

What was it Pope Benedict said to our Bishops:
"Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth."
"[S]ocial milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free."
I am glad Pope Francis continues the radical call, not to embrace 'Gospel values' but to embrace the person of Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 07, 2014

So why 'Traddies' at Preston?

Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster announced on Sunday that Mgr Gilles Wach, General Prior of the institute, together with parish priest Fr Simon Hawksworth, have agreed to establish a foundation of the Institute at the Church of St Walburge, Preston, in the early autumn.

Now why is it that "The Dome of Home" Ss Peter and Paul, New Brighton, St Wilfrids, York and now the iconic St Walburge's, Preston have been handed over to 'traddie' religious? I mean where are the dynamic liberal religious orders? Why is it that these city centre parishes, which obviously are going to need a lot of hard work, to restore and normally have tiny congregations, are so attractive to 'traddies' and simply dismissed by others of a more liberal outlook? Why is it 'traddies' actually hope to make a go of these places, whilst others just want to shut them down, why this hope?

FFI family pleads with Pope

manelli.jpg The Holy Father has a deep devotion to the icon "Salus Populi Romani", the ancient icon in St Mary Major, where the Franciscans of the Immaculate care for the sacristy, under this title Our Lady is patroness of his diocese.

The family of the founder of The Immaculate live in the poor parish of St Gregory the Great in Magliana on the 'peripheries' of his diocese. Here live relatives of the FI's founder father, Fr Stefano Maneli, Pio and Annamaria Manelli, they present the Pope with a copy of the icon of "Salus Populi Romani".

Doing so they said, "Holy Father, we have nine children, six of who are members of Franciscans of the Immaculate. We beg you, release them from the tombs" (La supplichiamo, li tiri fuori dai sepolcri), they presented him with a copy of the icon. The Pope embraced them and replied, "Soon, soon".

thanks to CR

Lessons on the correct disposition for Holy Communion

A priest friend of mine told me he was very impressed a few weeks ago by a little boy who was nine or ten, home schooled, who said he very much wanted to go to Holy Communion but he had kicked his sister on the way to Mass, so he couldn't. His reason: because he was so annoyed with her he couldn't bring himself to apologise.