Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And With Your Spirit etc


This an interesting little video from the Irish Bishops on excerpts from the new Missal, it is a bit stilted but I like the explanation of "And with your Spirit" which starts the video. It might indeed actually mean, "same to you" but  Fr Patrick Jones unpacks it a bit.

What is it to be a Catholic?

I was taken to task gently and courteously by Juventutem. Shawn responds to my attempt to understand the Benedictine generation.
Ches has an interesting post too that is not unrelated.

What is it to be a Catholic?
It is being baptised according to Catholic rites, that makes us theologically a Son of God. That is how the Church comes up with the figure of 1 billion plus Catholics. That is at least the barest minimum, even if no further catechesis or involvement in the Church ever takes place. Even if in fact one rejects everything the Church teaches, even belief in God. According to the statistics one is still a Catholic. In most parts of the western world the actual practice rates are officially about 10%, perhaps much less.

King David loses God's favour after commanding a census to be taken, so maybe it is not too wise explore statistics too deeply but it strikes me people have quite different understandings of what it is to be a Catholic today.
Is it necessary to believe this? or the modern liturgical formula required of converts, "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God."
Or is a being a Catholic about:
  • Calling onself a Catholic - self identification but nothing more
  • Going to Mass occasionally - but not really believing
  • Cultural belief, as someone said to me sometime ago, "I am ***, therefore of course I am a Catholic".
  • Combining "the best" of Catholicism with something else like Buddhism, New Ageism etc
  • Combining all of Catholicism with superstition or heresy
  • Being a Catholic but also practicing in another Ecclesial community - common among Catholics married to Anglicans etc
  • Receiving the sacraments of initiation and wanting a Catholic funeral or death but with nothing in between.
  • Belonging and practicing but wanting to change the Church, especially on its sexual teaching, contraception, women's ordination
  • Believing but notionally - so often people, including clergy, profess belief in everything but it has no effect, it is all head, no heart
  • Believing partially - agreeing with what the Church says but in one's own way - Cafeteria Catholicism.
  • Believing everything the Church teaches but living a lifestyle that publicly contradicts Jesus's teaching - divorced and "remarried" Catholics for example.
  • Believing everything but being unable to break from a particular addictive, identifying oneself with that sin -e.g. I am a Gay Catholic
  • Living a lifestyle that scandalizes other Catholics -e.g. living with a partner because of financial necessity
I don't intend this to be an exercise in the old Catholic game of "how far can you go" but it strikes me that our failure to identify what we mean by "Catholic" causes a lot of mess, what do we mean by "Catholic" Studies at Roehampton, or "Catholic" in the context of admission to Cardinal Vaughan School or "Catholic" when speaking about the participants at the Warwick Street Masses or organisations such as We are Church or even Cafod. It is perhaps worth sharing this link from the Juventutem article but one has to question whether the clarity of St Thomas extends to the Church today.
Are we in two camps? Those who want to define the term  "Catholic" and those who don't. We then get on to the further question: why do some want to make a definition whilst others do not?


Dare we use Apostasy and Heresy? Some young Catholics might but not my generation.



Lanherne Nun's under threat

I have received the same e-mail as Fr Sean.
The Sisters of the Immaculate at Lanherne are on their uppers they need a friendly donor. A few weeks ago they wanted to buy a second convent, now they have learnt their own home is under threat.

They are a thriving community who use Usus Antiquior.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It is because he is an Englishman

I am glad I am not French. The French fit into two groups, you can either be waiting your turn for Madame Guillotine or be knitting whilst heads are rolling. For the French opinion is nothing but gradation towards one extreme or the other. Prejudice? Yes of course, I’m English.


We English on the other hand are have a variety of opinion, each Englishman has his own and as far as he is concerned it is good as, if not better than anyone else’s. Hence the difficulty of Brown and Blair in defining what British is. Being Welsh or Scots is relatively easy: it is about not being English. The problem for them was the definition of being English. The fact that the question was put, at all, illustrated how naive and un-English those two Scots were.

The fact that we invariable have to import Scots to govern us, and a rather uninteresting German family to provide our monarchs illustrates something fundamental about being English, which is that we have so many opinions that we have difficulty organising the proverbial brewery party. We tend to outsource leadership. The genius of the English is ability to, forgive the Frenchiness is to critique government.

As with the state, so with the Church.

It has been suggested that the English are not by nature Catholic. I suspect that might be true, The nature of Anglicanism is that it is more a system of Church government than a Church, it always has since its birthday, Good Friday 1535 sought incorporate those of the most diverse opinions, Zwinglists or Calvinists rubbing along in more or less stony silence with near Papists. It worked, in its strange English way for a four hundred years.

It has been suggested that the English are not by nature Catholic. I suspect that might be true. Pre-Counter Reformation Catholicism was about passing on tradition, we English can do that easily, post -Counter Reformation Catholicism was about agreement and proclamation, that we have real difficulty with. Consensus is not our nature. Out of politeness, and necessity, we will simply not notice the Emperor is naked but as soon as he puts on any type of clothing we will take careful note of the cut of the lapel the stitching of the button hole and form factions to discuss it. As soon as the boy cries out, “’E’s naked” then Polly Toynbee will write about cellulite and the monarchy.

England is the land of Logical Positivism and The Tablet, it is not the place of great movements just of critique of movements. It is the nature of the English, to pass judgements and to knock down, not to grind into the ground, that is for another of our British races. We tend to reduce everything to “the middle way”, “the middle class”, or as one wag said after the royal wedding “the Middleton”, or the beige, or the ordinary.

Extravagance of any kind is not an English virtue.

Someone suggested Newman was an excellent model for English Catholicism, I think there was a bit of foreign blood there. Newman’s followers are a better example, that cold shouldering between the Birmingham and London Oratories. Newman is a splendid example of that English phenomenon: the Eccentric, the class where we put saints and martyrs and heroes in order to distance them from interference in the rest of lives.

Why do I write this? Partly because I was interested in the response on various blogs, including my own, to Michael Voris’ London tour, partly to explain why we seem to be a little niggardly about our endorsement of Pope Benedict’s key projects, partly to explain our both embracing and rejecting of Liberalism and our love of Notionalism, and also our inability to take ourselves too seriously.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sin in the Liturgy

One of the things I like about the Older Form of the Mass is that most of the penitential bits are private.

Indeed there is strictly no penitential Rite in the older Form, no "calling to mind our sins". It happens before Mass, the priest and servers, (and the people if they wish to) take part in an act of penance before going up to the altar, before the Mass starts, before the Introit. Thus the Kyrie is not about penance but about praise; us encountering the Eternal King who is the Creator of the World and us almost falling back again and again crying “have mercy”. But even Eleyson is not exactly the same as miserere and breast beating either, it is about the pouring of healing oil. Eleyson is of the same root as elaion, which means “olive tree and the oil from it”. It is about, gasping at God's glory which is too much for us.
Here is an example, it is the troped version of the Orbis Factor:

1. Orbis factor rex aeterne, eleison. Kyrie Eleison
2. Pietatis fons immense, eleison. Kyrie Eleison
3. Noxas omnes nostras pelle, eleison. Kyrie Eleison
4. Christe qui lux es mundi dator vitae, eleison. Christe Eleison
5. Arte laesos daemonis intuere, eleison. Christe Eleison
6. Conservans te credentes confirmansque, eleison. Christe Eleison
7. Patrem tuum teque flamen utrorumque, eleison. Kyrie Eleison
8. Deum scimus unum atque trinum esse, eleison. Kyrie Eleison
9. Clemens nobis adsis paraclite ut vivamus in te, eleison. Kyrie Eleison


It is about God's glory, not us and a preoccupation with our sin, though, the wretched priest continually remembers his sin but in a pious mutter in his heart. Yes, he proclaims his, non sum dignus, again and again but this is because he is encountering God's Glory

The Kyrie flows naturally into the Gloria, which is of course a highly troped version of the Angelic song at Christ’s birth.
Is it legitimate to use the troped Kyries in the Novus Ordo, anyone know?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bye, Farewell

Evening Mass is finished and it was the last Sunday Mass with old translations, somehow I think we should have had a wake, some act to mark its passing, like the medieval burial of the Alleluia. It isn't saying farewell to friend, I'm glad we have fished with it.
We have been using the new translations at weekday Masses for little while now, just so Sunday next I am used to them and we have a few people trained to make the new responses, so during the week I am just going to put the loose page of the old Missal Propers out and the little paperback interim Missal.
Maybe I might put the old Missal out somewhere under a black pall.

It marks the end of an era, I suspect someone will offer the "old Mass" at 3.25pm on the third Sunday at some forsaken felt bannered country church for a few elderly sandalled hobnob eating tamborinistas.

Just a note on translation, we had in England for the first reading, "You have seduced me, and I let myself be seduced". Americans had, "You have duped me...". I'd prefer being "seduced" than "duped". Yuk!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

ePilgrimaging: Poor damp Rats

I have been avidly following the LMS Juventutem Pilgrimage, this is where Tradition hits the road, every rain sodden step. It looks cold, wet and thoroughly unpleasant, everything I would hate. Poor Bones in the front there, poor Fr Bede, polyester stoles do have one advantage.

Pilgrimage is about journeying, it is a metaphor for life, it is about penance and suffering, about about abandonment to Providence, about living in the community of the Church, about searching for God. I am impressed, after all the suffering they will reach England's Nazareth, as we, if God is merciful will reach Heaven. I suspect there will be a bit to confess before tomorrow's Missa Cantata, damp wet people are really annoying, especially if you have to spend the night in tent with them.
Today's Mass at Oxburgh looked beautiful, see Fr Bede's site, a little moment of light in the English summer gloom.
I feel for them, I'll give dinner to any of the pilgrims who are in Brighton on Monday night, if they contact me. Poor damp rats!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Please do something: All I want is sleep!

Eight days ago I started having sleepless nights, not a bad conscience, simply Brighton and Hove Council. They have installed a high powered lamp opposite my house, it lights up all the rooms on the street side of my house, basicly making half the house unusable. Even putting blankets over the windows does no good, it is still almost as bright as day. I can type in my office without a light on.

To avoid the light I have been sleeping in a chair or on the floor, on the opposite side of the house, and of course I don't sleep, because of that I have had headaches and I've been falling asleep during the day and generally feeling ill for the last few days.
Sleep deprivation is a dreadful thing!

Normally in the summer people want to come to stay, I have had to put them off or I've booked them into local guest houses.

I have contacted Brighton & Hove Highways Dept they promised to do something about it in a few days, that was over a week ago. I contacted Mr and Mrs Kitcat, the two Green councillors for this ward, they were told that nothing at all could be done until a particular person got back from her holiday! She alone controls Brighton's light switches.
I got a better answer than they, though perhaps less truthful.

The light is supposed to just illuminate a zebra crossing, the thing is no-one uses that at night, the street is so quite outside of shopping hours, people just cross the road where they want to. I asked if any study had been done to justify the expense and of course they hadn't, they are not obliged to. I'm not going to rant about the the Council's waste of money today, maybe tomorrow.

I am not asking for anything extraordinary, just for them to turn the light out so people can sleep here at night. They can focus the light when they are back from Umbria or the Majorca or wherever.

In another country one might suspect a bit of religious harassment, those of you from abroad should't think it is that, it is just Brighton and Hove are inefficient and don't give a dam, and are on holiday!

Help me get some sleep, please.

Contact Brighton and Hove Council and just send a message, "Please do something about the light outside Fr Ray's house, please, please", especially if you are from Arkansas or Dehli, Krakow or Dux, Majoolah or Oobagumbi, or even Brighton.

Power of the Blog
It is now 10.30pm, just finishes Catechism and the light is OUT - I am so grateful - thank you very much.

Or maybe not
Saturday 8.05am, I have just opened my emails, there seems to be glitch, one sent yesterday but arrived today, said that the Highways Dept were going to remove the bulb!

ePilgrimage

Not the normal felt banner but then it the LMS's. Who is the other saint? I can see one is St Margaret Clitheroe, who is the other?
I am interested because I helped a young chap get some of his baggage across London in order to join the LMS pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham, this picture is from Fr Bede Rowe's blog, he is the chaplain. Other bloggers taking part are the Chairman, not a big brother figure but the affable Joe Shaw. There are just 30 on the pilgrimage so far but as the zealous Bones is also there I suspect one or two people from the hedgerows and byways will be constrained to join the throng. It is organised by Juventutem. With so many bloggers we might be able to do this an ePilgrimage.

How was it Charles II described an English summer: two fine days and a thunderstorm.
Here is a picture of last night's sleeping arrangements, it looks like penance to me!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Listening Church

"The Church has to listen to people", is an infuriating catch phrase, and is just plain silly. It is wooley. No-one who uses this phrase ever bothers to define what is meant by "the Church" in this context, nor who are the people to be listened to.

Pastors and members of the Church have to listen to people, indeed, as many people as possible but "listening" is never and end end in itself. We should never be satisfied with listening simply so we can respond with that oft heard phrase of contemporary counsellors, "I hear your pain".  Being listened to without a response only adds to frustration. Undergoing non-directive counselling might give a certain immediate satisfaction as one hears oneself pouring out one's grief but ultimately it really leads to deeper hurt, when one realises nothing has changed and the listener can do nothing, and actually hasn't heard a word.

The Church is a "teaching" Church, that is what it has to offer the world. "Go out to the whole world and teach all nations". It teaches the world because it listens intensely to God. It has something to say to individuals because its Pastors have first heard what God has to say.

Another phrase that used to be used without much thought was "meeting people where they are at", again it is important being with people but Christ having both met then and listened, then teaches and demands they leave where they are "at" to follow him.

The Church is a "hospital for the sick" and a "school for sinners", it is not a hospice for the dying or an institution for the ignorant. It is a place where the sick are brought to health and a school where the ignorant are taught wisdom. It is concerned with metamorphosis, transfiguration, change.

I haven't spoken about the Soho "Gay" Masses per se but it strikes me The Oratory or Westminster Cathedral seem to attract a fair number of relatively "camp" men, few with children can afford central London, the difference between the Warwick Street Masses and the Oratory or the Cathedral is that at Warwick Street the church has given up teaching and merely listens.

Listening to the hunger rumbles of the starving is not charitable, especially when one has food. I can understand maybe one doesn't give someone who is dying of starvation heady wine and rich food, maybe one begins with watery gruel and thinly cut bread, I presume in charity, I pray, that is what Archbishop Nichols and his predecessor intended when the present Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, negotiated the return of the Warwick Street "community" from the Anglican church were Catholic priests offering Mass for them to their present home.

It raises the question, not so much about "Gay" Masses but about dissent in general: how far should it be tolerated? How much listening should take place before the bishops and priest say, "now we will teach".

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lunch with Prophets, Radicals and Michael Voris

I had lunch today in a London Restaurant with Michael Vorris and some enthusiastic young male members, including the Bones, of Juventutem, all set for the Walsingham pilgrimage and some charming young women who are involved in Faith, and the legendary Daphne McLeod, plus a few others.

Michael is here to "do" London, and for his speaking engagement tonight at Regent's Hall. I thought it was interesting that Paul Smeaton seemed to be the driving force behind the operation, interestingly Daphne Mcleod of Pro Ecclessia et Pontifice was there too.
What I found interesting was the model of Church. Paul is as outspoken as his father John, Daphne has done incredible work in questioning poor catechesis and being the torchbearer of PEP. Michael, I rather liked, he loves the Church, in many ways he is an ordinary man in the pew, who happens to have a voice.

What did all these people have in common?

I think in many ways they are all prophets, except me I am a priest. I mean they struck me as being people who had a voice, that was at times critical of the Church of today. They are often highly critical of laxity in the Church, even of individuals, they have a tendency to be impatient, to denounce infidelity and to be divisive - divisive, in the sense of dividing sheep from goats. Left to them I think the Church would be leaner, they expect their bishops and priests to be holy and orthodox.

Their vision of the Church is one that many of us priests might find disturbing, it is radical, maybe not so much a school for sinners, or a hospital for the wounded, and certainly not about "cultural" Catholicism. It is militant. I don't mean to give a caricature, they are kind and compassionate. What I find exciting about them all is that Christ and his Church's teaching is something they find exhilarating and demanding. It is something to build a life on.

It is not conservatism, there is something radical about it, nor is it simply a traditionalism that wants to return to a time before V2, that is history for them. They are trying to build-up Church that is essentially in communion with Tradition, that is concerned with Life issues, with families, and in its English or European form, isn't necessarilly, politically, to the right of Sarah Palin.
John Allen calls it Radical Evangelicalism.

What will these young people turnout to be?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Well Done Camilla

In a non-Catholic school towards the end of the academic year for some reason at lunch time condoms were handed out to the pupils, a seventeen year old girl, Camila, whose parents are Polish, said, "No thank you, I am a Catholic", and refused them. She then explained why to her friends, who handed them back.
Well done Camila!

Monday, August 22, 2011

BBC's WYD Coverage

I don't pay the license fee, I think the BBC is rubbish, I also think it is biased against the Catholic Church and Christ, that it is often pornographic and anti-family. I would urge every Catholic not to pay the license fee as being just a small way of protesting against its output.
I don't pay the license fee because I haven't plugged my telly in for years. However I do listen to Radio 4, from that standpoint the BBC's WYD coverage has been appalling. 2000000 young Catholics in Madrid, 1500000 at Mass with Pope and just a niggardly mention in most newscasts and that normally slung on to reporting a few hundred protestors.
If you agree, why not complain. It wont make a difference but won't do any harm.

Kneeling or standing?

September is a time of significant change in the way in which we worship in England and Wales.
It is not just the new translations to be introduced the Sunday after next and meatless Fridays from September 16th .
The Bishops have also made adjustments to the manner in which we receive Holy Communion. A new Instruction has been published as follows:
"In the Diocese of England and Wales, Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Comrecommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the Sacrament".
munion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is Some might suggest there is no change here, on the contrary there is a significant change; first of all the Bishops acknowledge the “right to choose” of individual communicants, to follow the special “English indult”, which is the norm in England and Wales or to opt to follow the traditional practice of the Universal Church.

Up until recently our bishops expressed the opinion that to join the Communion “procession”, or queue, was a sufficient sign of reverence, now the “recommend” the faithful to “bow”, as this is just a recommendation, presumably other signs of reverence such as a genuflection or even a prostration are not outlawed, and therefore an acceptable alternative. A bow of reverence in the liturgy is different, deeper, more profound than a bow of acknowledgement, the bow of the head that is expected at the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, or to the server at the incensation is different and has a different meaning to the bow to an altar, the former is a bow of the head the latter a bow of the body. Some bishops and priests might of course just ignore a "recommendation" but would certainly not being acting in the spirit of the Liturgy.

This particular instruction should be seen as part of the trend towards a deeper and more reverent liturgy. It cannot be taken out of the context of the hermeneutic of continuity. The Pope opts not to give Holy Communion according to the “indult”, according to Mgr Guido Marini we are supposed to “observe and learn” from what the Pope does. Though the Pope has “universal jurisdiction” no one has claimed this is what the Pope is exercising when he gives communion kneeling and on the tongue, therefore, presumably, it is the right of every priest, and individual, to do as the Pope does, to take very seriously what the local Conference of Bishops decides, but nevertheless to choose to act according to the Universal norms. The Pope is too gracious a guest, too obedient a son of the Church to defy legitimate local law.

Similarly the recommendation of Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, that Communion should be received kneeling and on the tongue, is presumably a statement that his dicastery would look favourably on any bishop or priest who, with due pastoral sensitivity, chose to follow the Pope’s example. It is either that or he is just being plain unhelpful.

Summorum Pontificum would suggest a bishops’ role is not micromanage the liturgy, a priest has a right to choose the usage in his own parish, for example. So presumably he has the right to decide how communion is distributed in his parish, whether it is appropriate to give it by intinction, under one kind or both.

What is obvious about our bishops’ statement is that it should be seen as movement along with the new translations and the re-introduction of Friday abstinence to express and develop a deeper sense of the Mystery of the Eucharist. No bishop would want to lessen a sense of the Real Presence.

Today, having learnt from the example of the Pope, many priests, especially younger ones, would want to teach people to do what the Pope instructs his communicants to do. Would they be wrong? I suspect many Bishops would think so, it would certainly cause problems between a priest and his bishop.

What a priest has a duty to do is to teach people to receive with proper reverence whether standing or kneeling, in the hand or on the tongue. He should also teach, why Eastern or Byzantine Catholics and why we, in some parts of the West from the 3rd /4th century up until the 70s had a difficulty with any idea of taking communion in the hand: “what previous generations held holy” cannot be easily disregarded or treated with contempt.

It seems to me that both the Pope and the Cardinal Prefect are attempting to create a movement of reverence. Rarely am I critical of the Pope but as far as Holy Communion is concerned it would be helpful if “Rome” did more than signal.

At 1.53.00 the Pope distributes Holy Communion to deacons kneeling, and presumably on the tongue, then proceeds to give communion to ithers in the same manner - concelebrating priests interestingly receive by intinction.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Christian Soldiers at WYD


Members of the Spanish Legion, an elite unit of the Spanish Army, guard El Cristo de la Buena Muerte, or Christ of the Good Death, inside the military archbishop's Church ahead of Thursday's visit by Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011. The ancient wooden sculpture is in Madrid for the Pope's visit and is on display outside of Malaga for the first time. It was carried during the Stations of the Cross (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)





Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pope to Seminarians

I thought some of things the Holy Father had to say to seminarians were incedibly beautiful. I have had a number of seminarians and people thinking of priesthood coming to see me recently. What Pope Benedict says, I wish I had said to them.
As always he calls for interiority: prayer and study. Again, as he told children here in the England, in Spain he tells seminarians, "Be saints".
He concludes his homily by saying, "Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts".
Later today he spent an hour hearing confessions Rocco Palmo captioned this picture as "Pope in a Box". I was amused by that.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Michael Voris, again

I carried a piece the other day saying I didn't much like Voris' style but happily admitted lots of young people I admire do. One or two people left some comments which relate to a story linked on Sanctae Pater, in fairness I think it is worth looking at those links.
I was hoping to post a rather longer than usual video presentation of his, "No Bull in Madrid" which seemed to be saying much what I said this morning but it has now been removed. I am sorry about that, I thought it was quite good.
Instead, here is a video of his on the evils of Priscillianism!

Two Worlds - Two Cultures

A French priest and Faithful harangued by a anti WYD protestor
I am sure this will be happening in Madrid as it did in London.
Richard Dawkins brought at least one laspsed Catholic back to the Church during the Papal visit to the UK. She saw the the anti-Pope snarling mob led by Dawkins and Tatchel, with their plastic devil horns and inflated condoms, sex "toys" and angry faces and she saw the sheer joy of those cheering the Pope and the banners carried by the enthusiastic youth. She said it wasn't about arguments, it was about faces. Dawkins & co. glaring and hopeless, those who were there cheering the Pope full of hope and smiling - anger and joy, hate and love.

For her it was the contrast between two worlds, signified by the Pope and Dawkins, faith and faithlessness, hope and hopelessness, the spiritual and the material, light and darkness.

The same two worlds meet in Madrid, they will meet in Dublin next year in the Eucharistic Congress. There is no room for dialogue, there is no common language, there is only contrast. Ultimately this is an apocalyptic battle between Life and Death.

There are two worlds, two cultures that are irreconcilable. I think that it is very interesting that in Madrid as in London those who are anti manifest their opposition do so under the guise of being against the cost but actually so much of the opposition seems to revolve around sex and sexuality.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Distinctive Catholic Markers

Archbishop Dolan of New York has been fullsome in his praise of our own Bishops for the re-introduction of "meatless Fridays". He calls it "an external marker of our faith".
He says, "Scholars of religion–all religions, not just Catholic–tell us that an essential of a vibrant, sustained, attractive, meaningful life of faith in a given creed is external markers."
.......

For some religions, it might be dress; others are noted for feastdays, seasons, calendars, music, ritual, customs, special devotions, and binding moral obligations.

Islam, for example, is renowned for Ramadan, the holy season now upon them; dress; required prayer three times daily; and obligatory pilgrimage.

Orthodox Jews are obvious, for instance, for their skull caps, for the seriousness of the Sabbath, and for feastdays.
Then he asks, "What about us Catholics? For God’s sake, I trust we are recognized for our faith, worship, charity, and lives of virtue." I am sure he is right that these of real importance but I am convinced Judaism has survived precisely because of its strong identity, most especially in its dietary demands.

But, "What about us Catholics?"

Catholicism was so rich in external signs, and yet we have stripped ourselves or been stripped of so many of them.

Here is my attempt at a list:
Fasting, Feasting, Holydays during the week
Crucifixes, Holy Pictures, statues, holy water marking homes
Family prayers, Family Rosary, Grace before meals
Medals, scapulars, Rosary beads, holy pictures in a wallet or handbag
Novenas, special prayer, Litanies, devotions to Our Lady and the Saints, Angelus
Knowledge of the/a Catechism
Corpus Christi & Marian Processions
Specific Feasts or occasions for celebration First Communion/ Confirmation etc
A specific Catholic way of dying, preparing for death, and remembering the dead
Signs of the Cross, kneeling for prayer, blessing yourself passing a Church
Open Churches with people praying in them
Confession
Distinctive dress of priests and religious
mantillas
Groups, solidalities like the the Knights or the Legion
Having a relative who is a priest or nun
Distinctive architecture marked by Catholic iconography
A particular style of worship, with a distinctive music and as Fr Z points out a distinctive language: Latin
A Catholic way of reading scripture
Monasteries, convents
Retreats, pilgrimages and missions
Lay people concious of Catholic moral and social teaching: hence Catholic doctors, pharmcists, trade unionists
Lay Catholics able to teach or talk about the faith in the public forum
A sense of internationalism, of being Catholicism transcending nationalism, sexuality etc
Loyalty to the successor of Peter
It is not an exhaustive list, I am sure you can add to it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

HOT, HOT, HOT JMJ Madrid

First report I have had from World Youth Day is from a former parishioner said simply, "HOT HOT HOT -Opening Mass in P de Cibeles, almost everything in Spanish. Dissapointing!". That is it. I watched a few clips and it did all seem to be in Spanish, with rather dull music.
If ever there was a time for the use of the proper language and music of the Latin Rite surely it is an event like World Youth Day.

Enough of the Vulgar, give us the Imperial tongue, et date nobis nunc!



Voris in London

I don't like Michael Voris but a lot of young people I know, and admire, do.
For me he is too black and white, for them he is clear.
For me he lacks subtlety, for them he is straightforward, unlike many clerics.
For me he is too quick to condemn, for them he is direct and calls a spade a spade.

I could go on a bit more, quite a bit more. I could get a bit rude and suggest that he is just too American but then I have a recollection that a few weeks ago the American Bishops had something on a website about Michael Voris not being "officially" part of World Youth Day. Now it was Voris that they chose to distance themselves from but there wasn't a mention of any group that supported homosexual or female ordination, or Catholics for abortion or a hundred and one other dissident groups, who are also not "officially" part of WYD, it was Voris alone who received the accolade.

I don't like Voris, and yet I am always going round saying that the reason we are failing our young people is because we are not clear in our teaching, that we make everything unnecessarily complex.

Then when I think about it I would probably find an objection to Newman for being too subtle, Ignatius of Loyola for being too demanding, Francis of Assisi for being too radical, and so forth...
Except for the absence of the "both, and", Voris is more, "either, or" I actually do not find Voris un-Catholic.

With that rather long and tedious preamble Paul Smeaton asked me to announce:

Michael Voris will be speaking live on "Living the Catholic Faith Radically!" at Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London W1C 2DJ. next Wednesday. Doors open 7pm, cost is £5


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Assumptions about Death

Is one of our problems that we have forgotten what death is, and forgetting what death is and consequently have forgotten what life is for?

Fr Tim has an interesting post on death and funerals, he objects strongly to the “Death is nothing at all” nonsense. Interestingly he adds:

So many people today have an extra "guilt trip" shoved on their shoulders because they are told to think that it is somehow not right to mourn. The popular transformation of the funeral into "A celebration of the life of ..." distracts people from the opportunity to do the one thing that really helps those who have died: to pray for them.
I think I have said much the same about Scott-Holland's poem and its absurd understanding of death myself.

The Assumption does of course tell us that “Death is nothing at all... I have only slipped next door”. But the Assumption is about the uniqueness of the Blessed Virgin and about Grace and about her constant choice to accept and co-operate with Grace and her total, chosen, submission to God’s will.

The Assumption also reminds us that “All”, except her, “have fallen short of the Grace of God”, she is the only exception but only by the Grace of her Immaculate Conception which causes her to be addressed by Gabriel as “full of Grace”, or as the lame duck Lectionary has it, “highly favoured”.

It is Grace alone that enables her to reach the highest heavens. Even the greatest saint won’t until attain that until after the Last Judgement, “when all is made new”. Even the Blessed, those who are judged “holy” and stand in the presence of God do not see him, yet, in their “flesh”, it is one of the important things relics tell us. For though we honour their bodies, the Saints are not in Heaven with their bodies, the Holy Virgin is the lone exception, they have to wait for the whole Church to be Glorified but until that time we are with them plodding on our pilgrim way.

When we die we will be judged, the Particular Judgement. Then God will decide whether Heaven or Hell is ours, and if it is Heaven, then God judges whether we are ready for it, or whether we need to be purified, and make restitution, in Purgatory. If we die in a state of serious sin, or outside of Christ, then Hell is certainly ours. Faith gives us hope but there is a vast difference between Faith and presumption.

It is fundamental Christian doctrine that Christ came to save us from separation from God, he alone is our Hope. Hell is not a medieval torture chamber but something far worst: the absence of God. Some early Christian described themselves as “the Alive” and those outside of Christ as the “the Dead”. It is that vital difference.

Fr Tim is speaking about is our confusion in the Church today at funerals, over eschatology, the “Last Things”. The dreadful thing is, I suspect, such confusion merely masks a further confusion(s) which is: what our Life is about and most importantly: what is Christ about. Does he have a purpose? Was the Atonement necessary or can we merely live without him?

Has Christ now become merely about quality of Life, offering vaguery that in some sense Life is nicer with Jesus. If that is so why bother? If we needn't bother then are we Christians or atheists?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Divisiveness of the Assumption

In Guildford, Canon Paddy Cox began his sermon on the Feast of the Assumption 25 years after the infallible declaration of the Blessed Virgin's Assumption into Heaven with, "Now we believe what we have always believed ..." It wasn't a very good sermon and that is all I can remember from it, it is however one of the few sermons I remember. The Canon was "a building priest, not a preaching priest".

The declaration of Mary's Assumption brought about no change in the belief of Catholics, therefore one could ask what was the point of the declaration, it certainly wasn't being seriously attacked by anyone. One could be cynical and suggest that it was merely Pius XII being triumphalistic, that may or may not be the case. If it was that, then it seems to have wondrously providential, it was the declaration of the Assumption that formed the background of the rest of the 20th century. So many of the names of the bishops whose names are inscribed on the bronze plaques in the portico of St Peter's as being present at the declaration are on similar plaques which note their presence at the Vatican Council.

With the torrent of the Rhine flowing into the Tiber a decade and a half later the Assumption highlighted so many doctrines that are particularly Catholic, it emphasised distinctiveness and divisiveness.
  • First of all the Blessed Virgin's central, in salvation history. All turns on her Fiat, her absolute freewill, prepared for by her Immaculate Conception. It is also about our own freewill and about Grace too.
  • It underscores that Catholicism is based on Tradition as well as Scripture.
  • It marks the peculiarity of Catholic eschatology: our belief in Particular Judgement after death, heaven for saints, purgatory for those in need of purification and hell for sinners and in General Judgement, unlike the other Saints, She alone is taken up body and soul into heaven, other saints have to wait until the last day when bodies are united to souls.
  • It is about "flesh", the resurrection of the body, when so many are hazy not only about our own physical resurrection but even the Lords.
  • It is also about the nature of the Church, triumphant in heaven, militant on earth and suffering in purgatory.
This isn't an exhaustive list but it shows Our Lady as the touchstone, or Sceptre of Orthodoxy. In places like England and Wales where Marian devotion has been allowed to become almost an optional extra for many Catholics, the 1950 declaration becomes a useful burr reminding us of the distinctive nature of Catholicism. Indeed we, "believe what we have always believed" but without the 1950 declaration it could easily be that in 2011, we believed something else.
Thank God for Pius XII's willingness to mark the distinctiveness, divisiveness, of the Assumption.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Infallibility?

The definition of Papal Infallibility reads thus:
We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.


So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema. (see Denziger §1839).

Vatican Council, Sess. IV , Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, Chapter iv


This seems to fit St Peter's declaration, "You are the Christ, the Son of Living God", at Caeserea Philippi which was said "not from the consent of the Church", the other Bishops (or Apostles) put forward other answers to the Lord's question about his identity but Peter speaks for himself, prompted by God, and consequently he defines the fundamental belief of the Church.

This is quite different from the process that preceded the declarations of both the Immaculate Conception and even more so the Assumption, which where believed "always and everywhere" - even if in a slightly looser form than the formal 19th and 20th definitions. (The earlier disputes about the Immaculate Conception were more about "conception" and ensoulment than Mary's "Immaculateness", even when that was touched on it tended to dispute how it was achieved rather than the fact of it.)

Considering the degree of consultation with the bishops of the world that preceded both of these dogmatic definitions, even if no council was called, they seem really to be "concilliar" definitions, in the sense of being made not by the Roman Pontiff on his own but "with consent" of all the bishops of the world.

Some suggest that the Immaculate Conception and Assumption were used as ways of "demonstrating" Papal power or demonstrating Papal triumphalism, which may or may not have been their purpose but the effect was to introduce a degree of Concilliarism which reached its zenith in Vatican II.

Papal Infallibility seems more about defining disputed doctines which could divide the Church, than defining those on which everyone already agrees.  The theological situation of the twentieth/ twenty-first century might suggest that Papal Infallibility is more concerned with holding Christians in unity, identifying where the Church is, over issues like sexuality - which includes women's ordination, which in the future will be the great divide amongst Christians.

For where Peter is, there is the Church and where is the Church there is Eternal Life.

Idle Speculations put up this video of the Declaration of the Assumption.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Introducing the New Translations

I have been experimenting with the Liturgy, well more with the new translations. I wanted to get a group of lay people together who would be familiar with them before they are introduced generally next month. I hate the idea of everyone, including myself, being confused on Sunday September 4th. I thought of having meetings, and practicing them, more for myself but also for God’s Holy People but I decided no one would come. Therefore I decided to introduce them on one day a week just so there is a core of 20 or 30 people who have some familiarity with them but that produced more confusion than was dignified at the Sublime Sacrifice. I was told one or two priests around here have been using them for some time, so, for week days I have introduced them, in the hope that when they are come in properly, at least someone would respond “and with your Spirit” to my “The Lord be with you”. My daily Mass congregation are quite enthused by them.

It is not going that well, I find it a bit difficult to get out of “automode”, which means I easily slip into the familiar and mislead people, or they mislead me. Like most priests I am a creature of custom and habit. I have been using some of the introductions, like the one to the Pater noster for some time but it took me ages to get, “At the Saviour's command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say...”

The thing that I find really irritating is the interim Missal, with use of a hot iron I have manage to persuade it to stay open, now it refuses to shut and just looks messy. There is a lot of fumbling and turning pages, which I hate; Mass should be smooth, seamless but now there are pauses whilst I find the Mysterium Fide or the precise words for the Ecce Agnus Dei.

My other source of annoyance with the interim Missal is that the absence of music for the Preface, the music for the dialogue is their but not the actual Preface, which we have been accustomed to use on feasts and solemnities. The size of the print is also a bit of problem.

No-one seems to have too many problems with the translations, in fact on the feast of St Lawrence some people commented on the beauty of the Preface. One of the things that confuses people slightly is the abruptness of the dismissal. Our sisters have been using the literal translation, “Word of the Lord” for years now, I hate it but now I stopped flinching and but I have to make conscious to drop “This is the...” before, “Gospel of the Lord”.

For a long time I have said the offertory prayers silently, not just because it is a preference but because they themselves are so trivial. I have now started to say the silent prayers of the priest before and after communion, which are slightly longer, in a voice that can be just heard. I haven’t followed the example of one bishop, though I am tempted, to start saying the Eucharistic in quiet voice.

We have produced our own sheet for the people, in order to encourage them to take them home. For September I think I will simplify them and take out some of the options. I mean only have one Penitential Rite, one acclamation after the Consecration, one dismissal. The others can be introduced later. I think it would also be useful to make an altar card, to rest on my side of the crucifix, with the things I need to remember, so I am not looking continually at the Missal.

One of the good things in our diocese is that our bishop has been working his socks off enthusing people about the new translations.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

St Clare

I like those pairings of saints Francis and Clare, Benedict and Scholastica, Theresa and John of the Cross, and so forth. It is part of the like attracting like.

There was a great deal of pressure put on St Clare to adopt the Rule of St Benedictine, she stood firm and wanted the more radical Franciscan rule. Embracing Francis' idea of life totally dominated by Poverty was more risky for enclosed nuns than for male mendicants, they were more likely to starve or become dependant on the place in which they were resident.

Benedictines took vows of obedience, stability and conversion: Franciscans vowed poverty, chastity and obedience. The Franciscan vows were not new but the radical nature was interpretting them in the light of a mystical marriage to Lady Poverty. Hence, poverty was seen as owning nothing and therefore being dependant on Divine Providence. If alms were given, they ate: if not they went hungry, if there wasn't anything in the garden; whilst Benedictines in contrast tried not to be a burden on the local community and were happy to trade, to farm or manufacture and often acquiring great wealth for the monastery. The radical thing about the Franciscans was Divine Providence.

Poverty also marked chastity in a radical way, for Clare and her nuns they didn't even claim ownership of their own bodies, good or ill health was a gift of God. Embracing of corporal penance, of vigils, of fasting seems much more marked than most other religious of the time, because even their bodies were not their own, not even their pain or suffering, so much so that death, with whatever suffering might come with because ultimately death is Sister Death.

The same with obedience, Benedictines saw the will of the Abbot as the will of God but it seems almost unthinkable for a Benedictine Abbot to command a subject to bury himself in a dung heap until he was "dead" to self, or at least until the time of de Rance and the Trappist. The Benedictine's saw obedience as a virtue in itself, preparing the monk "to prefer nothing to the will of God", the Franciscan's saw it as part of poverty, "not even owning one's own will".

The radical nature of Franciscanism has been of the reasons why there were so many reforms and why there are so many branches of the Fransican Order, and why Saint Francis has appealed so much to the young.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Looters

Err..., I agree with Professor Tina Beattie, it might be the first time ever:
There are three great myths of modern liberalism being exploded around us: laissez faire economics will ensure justice, the end of religion will ensure freedom, and the pursuit of science and reason will ensure progress. Wrong on all counts. Laissez faire economics has not brought justice but global economic meltdown and trauma and suffering for millions of people, probably for generations to come. The end of religion has not brought freedom but new forms of bondage. Substitute the word ‘God’ every time you hear ‘the markets’ and you’ll understand a fair bit about why Marx condemned capitalism as well as religion. And the pursuit of science and reason has nothing to do with progress because human beings are neither progressive nor consistently rational, and how much we know has very little to do with how we behave. Every human life is a complex, mysterious, interwoven and unpredictable phenomenon which bears the marks of its history, culture and experiences in ways that simply do not conform to the myth of progress.
We are by nature relational, interdependent and impressionable, and we learn by mimicry and example. Put us in a jungle to fend for ourselves under a creed of ‘each to his own’ and watch us prey on one another and everything else, when that jungle is governed by some hydra-headed ideological monster produced by the economics of Ayn Rand and the anthropology of Friedrich Nietzsche. Individualism is what we get when human individuals are cut off from one another by the combative dynamics of free market economics and unbridled competitiveness, fuelled by a liberal dogma that regards any attempt to hold one another accountable for our ethics and behaviour as an invasion of the right to privacy.
The relationship between the individual and the wider social context has been ruptured by a neo-liberal ideology which is now reaching its nadir. If there is no such thing as society, then there is no reason why one shouldn’t steal, cheat, loot, lie and bully one’s way to the top of the pile. Our shared cultural ethos becomes not ‘what should I do?’ but ‘how much can I get away with?’ Think of the MPs’ expenses scandal. Think of Tony Blair accumulating vast personal wealth on the back of his political career, despite his catastrophic legacy. Think of Enron, the Lehman Brothers, the banking crisis. Think of Rupert and James Murdoch brazening it out in front of their parliamentary interrogators. And then think of rioting adolescents rampaging through Britain’s streets and spot the difference if you can. I’ll tell you the difference: it’s the difference between power and despair, inclusion and exclusion, complacency and rage. Look at the faces, and you’ll see it’s also the difference between black and white, poverty and wealth. But let's be clear: those youths on the streets have learned by example, and they are expressing the values by which our society now operates at every level of the economic spectrum.
It is easy to define the problem and even to identify its causes. Tina does, it is neo-liberalism, I agree. However I suspect she sees neo-liberalism in terms of the economy and market forces, basically exalting the pragmatic and individualistic solution.
I doubt whether she would agree with me in suggesting neo-liberalism is equally damaging in personal morality and thelogy. Indeed I had always thought of her as a neo-liberal theologian, constantly pushing a pragmatic and individualistic theology over the Magisterial teaching of the Church.
I think there is a parallel to the mindless, selfishness of the looters of the cities of London and Birmingham and Manchester to the smug, self-seeking individualism of certain "theologians" that threaten the City of God.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Pell on rejecting cafeteria Catholicism

There is an interesting talk giving by Cardinal Pell in Cork, there is a link to the whole thing on Shane's blog. Cardinal Pell sets out not to lecture the Irish Church but he draws from his own experience of things that worked for him as a Bishop.

Here is one excerpt on vocations but the whole thing is worth reading.

The other thing that is essential for the future is to make it absolutely clear that you need priests. There can be no Church without priests and this means you must have a seminary where young people will be prepared to go, and this means you must have an orthodox seminary. It means that you must have a seminary that is not sexually corrupt. Of course, we have experienced sexual corruption in the Australian seminaries. I can tell you of one poor lad who knew me from a previous place. He was a teacher who went on to become a priest. When it was announced that I had been appointed Rector of the Seminary I am told he ran weeping from the presbytery. He was a priest for only a few years when he left to live with his male partner after telling his poor mother that his partner was a Catholic. So I am talking from that sort of experience; the young people today are products of the culture in which we live and so we have to be vigilant. In the seminary they have to be taught to pray; prayer life and spirituality have to be the priority. I should add that when I am entering a diocese I have never thrown all the staff in the diocesan offices but when I became archbishop in Melbourne I instructed that in the Seminary there had to be Mass everyday; they were to have Benediction, Adoration and be able to pray the Rosary together — most people expect this to be a normal part of seminary life. However when I put this to the Seminary staff they said they wouldn’t accept it and en bloc offered to resign — so I accepted their resignations and it was one of the best things that had ever happened in the diocese. In other words when you start making changes you can expect resistance. I recall that when I announced the changes in the Seminary to a meeting of the Melbourne Council of Priests not one of them spoke in support of my plans. I knew there were people who did support it but there was not one who would speak out and support it at the time. I am sure that the reform of the Seminary was the most important thing I did when I was in Melbourne, even more so than the religious education. Melbourne is now regularly turning out good orthodox priests and of course when you get good young men going through then they attract others.


The answer is Jesus but what is the question?

Riots? They happen.
They happen, especially in August, or at least the summer when there are a large number of bored students and school children are on holiday, and when a large number of the police are on the Costas or wherever, along with Prime Ministers, Ministers and Mayors, and everyone else.
It happens in Los Angeles, Paris or Oldham, the amazing thing is it doesn't happen more often. Society is fragile, it only takes one mad Norwegian to kill a hundred innocent people.
Perhaps when the Police are threatened with financial cuts and morale is low there is a hesitation in taking immediate action.


The Pundits are out in vast numbers, and what they say is interesting, for the most part, it is, "Something must be done!" There seems to be a consensus that people are "alienated", that society is "fragmented". I suspect the same thing was said during the Gordon Riots (which actually happened in June but still summertime). There is a sense of dissatisfaction with with where society has gone - they seem to be saying we need Christian values and proper families.

I don't think we have an answer, except the normal Catholic one which is always: Jesus! The problem is what is the question?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Faith and Ignorance

Dr Martin, Archbishop of Dublin has spoken of  ''undeclared heresy'' in the Church in Ireland brought about by a crisis of passing on the Faith.

Archbishop Dolan has blogged about secular journalists speaking about the beliefs of Catholics as Vatican or the Pope's "policies", at its root of course is that dissenting Catholics are often giving a higher profile in the secular media, and even in the Church than Catholics - by Catholic I mean those who actually believe the Catholic faith.
The problem is that in many places the faith is not taught, the young lapse through sheer ignorance, heretics and heresies are given preference over Catholics and Catholicism, dissent is treated as the norm, dioceses and national Churches invariably make up their own version of the faith and it is presented as the Truth and Catholicism itself as somehow being dissent or aberration.

No wonder the Pope told our bishops at the Ad Limina visit, "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".

Peter begins to drown when he takes his eyes off Christ, when he looks round sees the raging sea and mistrusts the faith that enables him to walk to Jesus over the water. It is only in his panic, when he is drowning and he cries out, "Save me, Lord", that he finds himself safe in the Lord's arms. Doubting, he dies, beliving he is saved.

The disciples in the boat, which is meant to be an imae of the Church, seeing Peter's faith and Jesus' power, recognise Jesus, who they had previously described as a ghost, now recognise him as the Son of God. This recognition happens in the Church, the barque of Peter. Those in the boat are the community of Faith.

We are given Faith as free gift by the Spirit of God. The sin against the Holy Spirit is anything which destroys or damages Faith, for it is the Holy Spirit which enables us to cry, "Abba, Father".

As Christians we have a duty to build up our Faith and the Faith of others. Faith can so easily be destroyed. Mortal Sin destroys it but so too does ignorance. St Paul tells that we should always have an answer ready for those who question us. As Catholics we should be able to explain what the Chuch, Christ, teaches about the Trinity, the Incanation, the Immaculate Conception, the Divine origins of Church, the Sacredness of Life from conception to natural death, why and what the Church teaches about sex and sexuality etc etc.

Vatican II teaches the Church is missionary by its very nature: why is it that almost 50 years on most Catholics are so ignorant of their faith, incapable of sustaining it in their hearts or building it up in others? Why is it that dessent is still tolerated? Yes, why is that dissenting newspapers are tolerated at the back of Catholic Cathedrals? Dissent sews confusion, it is no healthy theological speculation, it damages faith, it makes faith untrustworthy. Faith is necessary for salvation.

Maybe we need to take a leaf out Dr Martin's book and start talking about heresy, because heresy and heretics are the destroyers of faith, and should be opposed by the full force of magisterial intolerance!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Coercion

I am fascinated by the paper of Dr Thomas Pink over at Rorate, Sensible Bond and Dr Joe Shaw add to the discussion.

The debate on religious freedom centres around the relationship between the Church and the State, it is one of the crucial things in the discussion between the SSPX and the Church. It touches on broader issues, which have had quite a profound influence on the Church over the last half century: in what way may those with authority use it to promote their faith. May they coerce someone to live according to the faith? What is legitimate coercion? Should we coerce the bad to do good?

Just some examples:
Should a parent insist his child goes to Mass? Obviously if child is seven but what about seventeen?
Is it right that a class of children who are baptised should be forced to go Mass at school, rather than play football?
I had a parishioner who was anxious about the practice of her adult children, they believed, I hope, but they were lazy, she left them money providing they ensured a Catholic education for their children. is that right?
What about a bishop coercing the staff at a Catholic school to live according to Catholic teaching. Is it right for him to make it a condition of employment that a cook in the school should go to Mass, or that the caretaker does not fornicate in a house owned by the Church?
Must a Catholic refuse to allow her twice "married" son to sleep with second "wife" when they come to visit?
Must a bishop always denounce an individual Catholic who votes pro-contraception or pro-abortion? What form of coercion can be legitimately used?
What should a local chapter of Catholic Knights do about a Knight who uses IVF, or if his conscience says he should have a vascetimony because of his wife's health.
Similarly should a local councillor, refuse planning permission to a Satanic Temple, if he can do that what, about about refusing to allowing an heretical sect, like the Church of England, who will teach part of the Truth but also errors.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Novena For the Church in Ireland

It strikes me there are two posibilities for Christianity in Europe, and in fact elsewhere: one, gather with Peter at the foot of the Cross, or two, scatter. Actually these have always been the two options for Christianity. Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna, where Peter is there is the Church and where the Church is, there is Eternal Life.


There was and interesting thing on the wireless this morning, on the Today Programme, a report by Robert Pigott on the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. Apparently one in six of their clergy is either an agnostic or atheist. There was a report earlier this week that Australian apostate priest Peter Kennedy has now said he believes Jesus to be a "fable".
 
Yesterday I spent a pleasant afternoon with a priest from Ireland, who really could not see anyway forward, except being loyal to Peter and simply carrying on being faithful. That is why I am offering a Novena for the Church in Ireland.

Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you,and in you,each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness,holiness and generous service to society.

Holy Spirit,comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families,parishes,schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity ,justice,joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you,Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland,our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick,Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves,our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.

Amen

Thursday, August 04, 2011

"THE" Council

One of the things Benedict XVI's Papacy has given us is the intellectual freedom to question the sacred cow of the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, not only its interpretation but the teaching of the Council too: what exactly is meant by "religious freed", for example.

We are not called to be faithful to a particular Council, anymore than we are called to be faithful to a particular Pope's teaching, except the reigning one as the centre of Christian unity but we are called to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. It is the Church that Christ guarantees to be inerrant, not a particular Council, and not a particular Pope, except in the very particular circumstances of an Infallible statement.
Various conservative groups like the geriatric Stand Up 4 Vatican 2 are as irrelevant and heretical as Stand Up 4 Nicea 2 might be. The Magisterium has moved on! Catholics are not "Concilliarists", we understand Councils speak to a particular time, they are part of the continuous effect of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The problem with the Holy Spirit is we need history to help us discern where he has been. For Orthodox Christians it isn't so much that a Council is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than its acceptance by the Church, the sensus fidelium. It is the acceptance of a Council's teaching that distinguishes a "robber" Council from an authentic one. In practice the same thing happens within the Catholic Church. It is first of all the acceptance of a Council's decrees by the Bishop of Rome that guarantees an authentic Council, secondly it is his interpretation in communion with other bishops that guides how a Council's teaching is to be interpretted. Hence Joseph Ratzinger's joke that the Holy Sprit's role is to clear up the mess made by a Council.

With the Second Vatican Council, fifty years on, we can begin to make some assessment of its value but it has to be seen through the perspective of the present, today, most obviously through the light of the Magisterial teaching of the Church - in practice the Popes - through encyclicals like Humanae Vitae, the 1984 Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church etc. etc.
However it is not simply the teaching but also the practice of the Church that is important, that shapes both teaching and the acceptance of teaching, this is why Benedict XVI sees liturgy as crucial - hence my opinion that Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum Coetibus are as significant as those documents that interpretted VII - note "interpretted" is in bold and underlined!

The big problem with VII is that unlike any other Council it issued no Canons, no summary, which has meant for some that everything was regarded as inspired, even over and above scripture or any other Council, it became "THE" Council, something never intended by either Blessed John XXIII or Paul VI or the Concil Fathers themselves and has no place in Catholic theology.

For some Vatican II was Year Zero, an experiment in rupture, a break with the past, for some it was a golden calf that consumed the Church's mission dragging men and women who were already fulfilling the teaching of Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes and sanctifying the world ad extra into fussing about the ad intra. The last 50 years have been the most "churchy" in the history the Church which by its very nature is Missionary. I speak as someone who has never known the pre-Vat II Church, except through the great theologians and saints and works of art. I want to go forward not backward, so I treat Vatican II with respect but for me it is one at the end of a long list and Holy Church has moved on.


A now silenced blog, much praised for its erudition, insight which I enjoyed for that and also for its rather English humour carried an interesting series of posts on Councils:
here
here
here
and here

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Spitting on a Soldiers Grave

I was shocked this morning by this interview on Radio 4 of Robert Widders, the author of Spitting on a Soldiers Grave,  it is only 3.5minutes. Has anyone read the book?
It was  the fact that those who joined the British army were treated more harshly than those who deserted and became criminals or those joined the Waffen SS.

It is the cruelty towards children that rang bells with me.

Hell!


I was amused by this, as a bit of fun what would you add?

thanks to Minority Report

I Will Give You Shepherds

Our new Diocesan Vocations director, Fr Terry Martin, has launched a blog I Will Give Shepherds and asked me to give it some publicity.
Go over and say, "hello".

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Goes around, turns around

I am going off to Chislehurst to celebrate Fr Charles Briggs Silver Jubilee this evening.

I couldn't help reflecting that when we were ordained Spain, Portugal, Belgium and especially Ireland were profoundly Catholic and in Eastern Europe the Church was persecuted, you could be imprisoned and have your children taken away in Albania just for making the sign of the Cross. Russia was executing and imprisoning priests and trying to eradicate the faith, the gulags had only just closed.

Today things have changed Western Europe is shrugging off the faith and the East is embracing it. In Russia especially politicians seem to see the Christianity as the answer to Russias many problems, including of course its population decrease.
Such is Divine Providence!

There is an interesting article by Marco Tosatti about the present state of the Russian Church today.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Breaking the Magic Circle

It is pretty obvious that the Vatican II experiment has failed! The Council that sought to make the Church truly missionary ended up by making it self serving and introspective. Not the Councils intention but in Europe at least it is the result.
Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Austria once the most faithful of Catholic countries have become deserts. George Wiegel, worth reading, looks at Ireland and suggests that even if the number of dioceses are significantly reduced, it is most probably impossible for Ireland to find good native bishops amongst the homegrown sons of Eirin.

The problem is the Magic Circle syndrome, like selecting like, faithful servants of national Churches appointing their faithful servants. It is indeed a circle, symbolised by the post-Concilliar stance at the liturgy, bishops, priests and people looking at one another celebrating, as if it is worth celebrating, their own community. It is self celebrating, self serving. It lacks the faculty of self criticism and self evaluation. Ultimately it lacks direction and vision and is incapable of redirecting itself. It is by its very nature conservative and illiberal and therefore intolerant of criticism. Like any self perpetuating group it easily becomes totalitarian and ultimately unjust.
This we have seen in Ireland, and elsewhere.

Breaking the Circle seems to be a priority, in Ireland it needs to happen now, as Wiegel says.

Some of the Irish clergy, as much in panic or desperation as anything else are suggesting electing bishops by clergy and laity. The problem with that is the most popular candidate is unlikely to be the best. Mandates given can be taken back. Although election by popular acclamation is an ancient model, it only worked when clergy and laity held the faith, or when the Bishop was expected to be a political figure. In Ireland that will merely perpetuate the problem and eventually lead to a schismatic national church, even more self serving than what exists at the moment.

Wiegel suggests sending in foreign Bishops. In the past the lineage of the Catholic Archbishops of Canterbury was peppered by Greeks and Italians, it was not unusual, perhaps it was easier in a Church with a single language. In Ireland it might be a temporary solution. The Pope's solution for Ireland, set out in his letter was first of all a year of penance, a visitation, then a mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious.

It is well worth thinking of this as a solution for other Churches:
Penance reminds us that the solution for our problems lies in Christ and perhaps it is a way of breaking down the sese of we are okay, the problen lies elsewhere.
Visitation is a way of reconnoitering and evaluating the present Church structures, it presumably is about looking for future bishops.
Mission is a way of changing minds and hearts and underscoring the Catholicity of bishops, priests and religious.

The problem with our present structures is that they are essentially feudal, a Bishop is Lord in his own domain, in reality against him there is no appeal, except to a Roman dicastery which is understaffed, often not very efficient and generally dependant on the Bishop's good will. The Bishop's Conference structure was supposed to be a counter to this feudalism but is actually part of the problem.

Perhaps there needs to be a permanent Visitation of dioceses, a group of proven senior foreign bishops, who have an ongoing interest in the local Church, getting to know the local Church, and therefore offer advice on future bishops, being able to offer critical and supportive advice to the bishop, being able act as a court of appeal if necessary, ensuring proper procedures are followed and being able to offer some gentle fraternal correction to the clergy.
There is a need for accountability.

Again a regular Mission to the bishops, clergy and religious also seems a good idea, actually to break through a self approving theology, that often goes for "ongoing formation". Now, we are perhaps in a situation where such a Mission might actually pass on the Catholic faith, rather than some destructive alternative form.
There is a need for an outside voice.