Monday, October 31, 2011

Write in Praise of Good Priests

In the comments on the last post "Hughie" pointed out that a number of Scottish dioceses are going to become vacant soon, the same is true in England. What should one do? Write!
Write to the Congregation of Bishops
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Palazzo delle Congregazioni, Piazza Pio XII, 10-00193 Roma,
Write to the Nuncio
The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, 54 Parkside, Wimbledon London SW19 5NE
Write in praise of good and faithful priests. The Holy See is always pleased to hear of men who would make good bishops. The one complaint I hear from priests in Roman dicasteries is that they hear too little from Britain.
Before and after and whilst you write pray, pray for holy priest and even holier bishops.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some thoughts on faith

Reflecting on Bishop Davies words on Faith at the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy - he reminded us that Kiko Arguello had the unnerving habit of asking bishops, "Do you believe?" - it struck me that faith is infectious. It is caught, not taught, actually it is taught too but people need to see it and to have an example of it. That is why the heroic example of the saints has always been important. I am quite convinced that "Does he believe, does he live by faith?" should be the main question asked about any potential bishop.

We can ascent to propositions: I believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit but as St James reminds us faith without works is dead. Belief should make difference in our lives, it was belief in God that led Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees, it was belief that caused Mary to visit Elizabeth, it was belief that sent the Apostles out to evangelise and to draw men and women into the Church. As Bishop Davies reminded us it was faith in the sacraments that led the Cure d'Ars to spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament and in the Confessional and the faith he showed that transformed the faithless town of Ars into the place where the Cure heard the confessions of an estimated quarter of the population of Francee.

The liberalism or relativism of the 70s tended to destroy, be contemptuous of or even ridicule faith, replacing it with cunning plans, projects and schemes, and eventually when these failed to yield fruit, apathy. What has always impressed me is that Gospel is always, from the beginning, passed on by individuals, often within the context of the apparent mess of Divine Providence.

We can talk as much as we like but faith and its fruit: evangelisation, is the result of "heart speaking to heart".
Bishop Davies reminded us of St Charles Borromeo going into a church and finding the Blessed Sacrament mouldering in a tabernacle with the door hanging off. St Charles knelt before it, he continued kneeling in prayer, eventually others started to join him, he continued to kneel, he knelt through the night, eventually the whole parish came, even the Parish Priest and knelt with him until he celebrated Mass and restored the Lord. Not a word was said, said Bishop Davies, no condemnation, just this act of faith.

The subtext of the Bishops speech was, do we live by faith?

See Fr Simon Henry's report too.

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy: the joy of Bishop Davies

I'm just back from the first Colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, at the Oratory School in Reading, it was brilliant. About half the 120 members of the CCC managed to turn up.
Mgr Andrew Wadsworth (Director of ICEL) gave a fascinating address on the new translations, revealing some of the backgound and Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of the Australian Conference of Catholic Clergy interrupted his return journey from the Australian ad Limina visit to be with us, he had lots of encouraging things to say.
But it was Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury who almost had us, well, in tears, actually. He spoke about faith, responding to God's goodness in faith, about priests living according to faith, about prayer and penance, about basic Catholic truths. There was nothing new that he had to say, just a bishop with evident faith, imbued with scriptures, with the lives of the saints. It was wonderful to hear an English bishop so obviously aware of his own weakness and deficiencies and yet so obviously full of Catholic faith and a sense of joy in the Lord and joy in the sacred priesthood, it was infectious.
Several times during his talk I felt tears welling up, other hard bitten priests said they felt same.
The whole two days were incredible, there was lots of time for prayer and lots of time for friendship. I came away with a tremendous sense of hope, especially if Bishop Davies is the type of Bishop who will be appointed in the future but it was the clergy too who gave me a sense of hope, young religious, and priests who have been ordained a few years as well as the old and retired; three priests from my diocese, priests from all over the country, all deeply committed to the Church and the Magisterium. I came away thinking how fortunate I am to be a priest today.
Most of the blogging clergy were there so there should be other accounts and even pictures.
Have a look at Fr Sam's pictures and read Fr Tim's account.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Look what arrived in the post

 The New Missal arrived just before Benediction this evening.
I order all three, the Altar Missal and the smaller version for the priest's chair and an even smaller one for the sacristy.
They are pretty, the smallest is without illustrations, they seem, for a mass produced book they are reasonable well bound.
At first sight the lay out has bit to be desired, even so I am just glad they have finally been produced, though I won't have the chance to look through them properly. Tomorrow I'm off the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy Colloquium in Reading until Friday evening.

Are Witches Catholic?

I met a wiccan witch recently -it is Brighton- she was with a lady who no longer comes here to Mass. This lady disagreed with me about who was "Catholic", she would say the witch was, though not in "full communion". The lady stopped coming here when I refused to sell the Tablet at the back of the Church.

Her problem all hangs around a broad interpretation of Lumen Gentium 8, popular in the 1970s and especially  fed by a simplification of Rhanner's doctrine of the "anonymous Christian"

Speaking of the Church of Jesus Christ, Lumen Gentium 8 says, "this Church, constituted and organized as a society in this present, world, subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although (licet) many elements of sanctification and truth can be found outside her structure; such elements, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic unity".

This lady would say that wiccan witches (they are not Satanists but into potions and "spells") do good, pray for peace, are "green", are into world peace, and therefore have elements, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ. Since the 1970 the Church has been rowing back on these "elements of sanctification and truth".

For example the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a Notification on the book "Church: Charism and Power" by Fr. Leonardo Boff said, " . . . the Council chose the word subsistit precisely in order to make it clear that there exists a single 'subsistence' of the true Church, while outside her visible structure only elementa ecclesiae exist, which — as elements of the Church — tend and lead toward the Catholic Church".

As Prefect of the Congregation Joseph Ratzinger issued, in 2000, Dominus Jesus, in which he drew a distinction between the Church that is the Catholic Church and Churches such as the Orthodox Church which have a undisputedly validly ordained epicopacy and Ecclessial Communities such as Anglicanism, which do not have validly ordained bishops or priest or even the Salvation Army which has no sacraments at all but do have the scriptures, though little of the Tradition to interpret them correctly.

Pre-Dominus Jesus ecumenism seemed to want to broaden the scope of what a Christian was, seeing elements of Christianity everywhere, in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, even tribal religions or witchcraft, that seemed to be at the root of previous Assisi events. After Dominus Jesus elementa ecclesiae tend to be seen in more precise terms, that can be seen in terms of "the hermeneutic of continuity",

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Protest the ...

Catholics have always protested. The blood of the martyrs reminds us we do not quite belong to the rest of mankind, that we are subversive. Indeed more extreme Liberation theologians might suggest the prime purpose of a Christian is to subvert the State. A more classical position might be to follow the example of Fathers like St Ambrose who chastened Emperors or St Thomas Becket or St John Fisher who opposed kings, and suffered the consequences. The Catholic Church in China suffers because the State sees it as subversive and not just on its "one child" policy.

Secular society is also having its protests, the gathering number in the City or on Wall Street are expressing an anger, generally inarticulate and unfocussed, placards say they are against greed, poverty, injustice, hunger, global warming and for peace, honesty, integrity, transparency, fair dealing. In society generally there is a disillusionment with organisations: trade unions; political parties etc are losing membership in the same way as any Church. Personalised cafeteria politics are mirrored in personalised cafeteria religion. Perhaps an economic change will bring about a reversal of this.

The Church militant today is the Church protesting, somehow I suspect a major part of the New Evangelisation will be about "protest", challenging the values that actually sit uncomfortably within our culture and psyche, those things which are contrary to the Natural Law. The hard cases are difficult to argue against but fundamental ideas of human dignity, the right to life, to human dignity and to what the Pope continually now refers to as "human ecology" are going to become more easily assimulated and will become increasingly so.

"Protesting against" is where contemporary politics is at: most people tend to vote against political parties rather than for them, politicians lose elections not win them.

As Christians we define ourselves by those things we affirm: I believe in God etc. We have become reticent about those things we reject: Do you reject Satan... and all his works etc, Thou shalt not ..., but these also defined Christianity. They also tend to challenge our society. The loss of definition by negation, have caused a loss of Catholic identity and for so many a loss of a lived morality. Hence Catholics are as likely as one else to abort, contracept, divorce or engage in pre-marital sex as anyone else. What we are for is nebulous, what we are against is tangible.

The French bishops called people on to the streets to protest an anti-Catholic play but for the most part Catholic protest is tied up with Life issues. Most protests by Catholics are ad intra: the disobedience of clergy in Austria and Ireland, the disobedience of bishops in Australia seem as ill defined as those of Wall Street or the City. In Ireland it seems most of the protesting clergy are simply finding a way of showing discomfort a poor leadership.

In England Catholics seem to be involved in protesting on specific issues: the demonstrations and legal tussles with the Archbishop of Westminster over the Cardinal Vaughan School or prayerfully protesting outside St Mary's Warwick Street over those Masses seem to identify an anger or at least dissatisfaction with our clerical leadership.

The French bishops got students and Action Francaise onto the streets: how do we harness protest? Can we teach the faith by denunciation and protest?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Burke in Manchester

I have been looking for the transcript of Cardinal Raymond Burke's speech at Manchester University on 12th October online. I can't find it anywhere.
Fr Mildew quotes from a letter in an obscure magazine saying, "According however to the writer, they left in silence after his speech because of course, they had expected words of encouragement for changes and so called progress and got the complete opposite."
All I can find is a report from the Salford diocese's website:
Cardinal Burke focused on the need for Catholics to "reject a life of mediocrity" in the face of relativist, consequentialist and proportionalist views of thinking. The relativist says that we can act as we like since what is true for one person does not necessarily hold true for someone else. The relativist therefore denies a moral norm, a standard by which we can measure our behaviour. The consequentialist says that an action is right or wrong depending on the consequences that arise from it. The proportionalist says that we come to decisions about whether something is right or not based on a weighing-up of the supposed good or evil that might come out of an action.

These reduced visions of human behaviour are seriously detrimental to Catholic teaching and imperil the salvation of souls. The only solution is for us to take seriously the natural law, inscribed in the heart of every person. The natural law enables us to see what God is asking of us. Hence, for example, the natural law will hold that abortion, or contraception, or embryonic stem-cell research, is always wrong, whatever the perceived good coming from their implementation or use might be.

The spiritual ministrations of good priests and of consecrated people are vital in the Church, so that all people, young and old, might come to a knowledge and love of Christ.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ALL Mass video: yes, we used a bugia



Here, from our choir's blog is the abridged, 3 minutes, video of last week's Mass for the Association of Latin Liturgy, celebrated by Mgr Andrew Burnham of the Ordinariate.

For us liturgical pedants: yes, we used a bugia. Its use has never abrogated. If you've got one, use it; at least if Mass celebrated by a Prelate.

Incidently the wooden floor in the sanctuary is soon to be paved with stone tiles, the next stage of our restoration work.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Conversation on a train

An interesting conversation on a train the other day between a young university student who got on the train with some young Middle Eastern students. I don't know if the young man was Catholic or Orthodox, he looked southern Mediterranean.

Yes, I used to to Church every Sunday.
I don't believe in it now.
There followed a short discussion on different cultures and family celebrations, including Eid.
We have Christmas which is a bit like Eid.
We also have Easter.
What is that about?
Someone betrayed him, I think it was Jesus, so we burn some wood.
That's strange
Yeah, it is really weird isn't it?
A good priest would have stood up and catechised the whole carriage, I didn't. I didn't know how to.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Domus Australia opens



I know one or two Australians read this blog. Today the Holy Father, at the request of Cardinal Pell, opened the Domus Australia as a centre for pilgrims from the antipodes to the Eternal City. The full ceremony is on the site under events.
This has been part of a long term project of Cardinal Pell to strengthen and underscore Australia's links with  the Holy See.
Congratulations to Australian friends.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is the difficulty with the EF

I did a post last week entitled "What is the difficulty with the OF" this is a response.

It is ages since I have celebrated a Mass in OF entirely in Latin. Last Saturday on the Memoria of St Theresa we celebrated Mass for the excellent Association for Latin Liturgy. When most people were abandoning Latin and the great musical culture that is part of it, the ALL was valliantly trying to encourage and save it.

The Mass was celebrated by Mgrt Andrew Burnham with deacon James Bradley of the Ordinariate and Br. Anselm of Farnbrough Abbey. We tried to read the rubrics as strictly as possible, everything was in Latin, the readings, gradual, introit etc. Mas was celebrated ad Apsidem. My intention was that we try and re-create as far as possible the first presentation of the Missa Normativa in the Sistine Chapel. It was a beautiful well prepared celebration, the celebrant, the servers, the music were good.

The comparison with the EF Maiden Lane was interesting, first of all the congregation; it was a Mass for the ALL so first of all most people who attended had some "expertise" in the liturgy, some of those who might be expected to attend the EF didn't come, maybe because it was a Saturday morning, even so most people joined in the singing, certainly the Ordinary, Mass XIX. The congregation was more rigid in its obedience to the rubrics there was less personal interpretation than at the EF.

The other thing, that wasn't the celebrants fault but, I think, an absence in the Rite, was the unremitting words, there was little silence, apart from the pauses. Even ad Orientem it seemed "in your face", a sense that every word had to be considered, it wasn't just that the readings, which were sung, were proclaimed facing the people it was the wordiness of the Rite itself.

Compared to the EF, the absence of genuflections (though we did implement the instruction that unless passing the tabernacle in procession a genuflection should be made) and kissing of the altar, seemed to downplay the notion of reverence.

The other thing that struck me was that the liturgy was being done for the congregation, rather than with it, maybe it was the absence of silence of stillness. I don't think I am being overly subjective but I was left craving some moment of stillness, some moment to focus on God: some rest in the Rite. There was a sense that one thing happened, then another, then another; again not the celebrants fault but there was no melting of one action into another that there seems to be in EF.

I can understand why celebrating in the vernacular, even wanting to make some way for easier participatio actuoso, is so tempting. Some of my congregation asked: if everything is in Latin why not use the EF.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Moving the Pope

The Pope used a moving platform this morning at Mass. In the past he would have been carried on the portable throne, which would be so un-p.c. nowadays. The platform seems to have all the advantages of the sedia gestatoria but without the baggage, in that it makes the Pope more visible and also has security advantages. At 85 people tend to get a little tired, in Germany he seemed quite spry.

This morning at a Mass for the Council of New Evangelisation he announced the months before the 50th Anniversary of VII would be a "Year of Faith".

Photographs of Mgr Burnham and the Association of Latin Liturgy

Everyone blogs at St Mary Magdalen, here are pictures from our choir blog, there is a slide show here, a video will available later.
The day was for the Association of Latin Liturgy, Mass was celebrated in the Ordinary Form in Latin, ad Orientem.

12 Questions about Vatican II

For me one of the great joys of being a priest today, during the reign of Pope Benedict XVI, is the new spirit of intellectual honesty that we now enjoy. For some it is frightening, unnerving, certainties are questioned, or even overthrown, the trend setters of yesterday, today, are yesterday's men. Who takes Hans Kung or even Rahner seriously today?
As I say, for me it is a time of joy but for others it is a time of profound pain, hurt and confusion. I am sure that Pope John called Vatican II as a way of healing divisions, "reconciling the Church to the modern world". It was a remedy but ultimately a remedy that depended on difficult questions not being raised, on silence.

Msgr. Bruenero Gherardini and Antonio Livi, Professors Paolo Paqualucci and Roberto de Mattei and several other noted Italian intellectuals have issued a public petition asking the Pope to go beyond his reading of VII in the hermeneutic of continuity and actually examine some problem areas of VII in depth. An English translation appears on the Dici website listing 12 questions.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mgr Burnham's Paper


Monsignor Andrew Burnham of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham's paper which he delivered here, today, to the Association for Latin Liturgy meeting is up on the Ordinariate Portal.



I didn't take any pictures in Church, others did, I'll post them when they are uploaded.
I took some in the sacristy but they were rubbish, the only one that worked is a nice one with Monsignor and Fr William Young.















Friday, October 14, 2011

My sort of Socialism

I have just seen this on Iona Catholicism, it is my sort of Socialism:
Spanish political group, Solidarity, has issued a press release explaining that its ideology has led it to defend the right to life of the unborn from conception to natural death, in clear opposition to abortion.
In its statement, Solidarity said, "We are socialists and we oppose abortion and its legalisation. We oppose all attacks on life: the death penalty, torture, hunger, the arms race, war, slavery," Catholic News Agency reports.
The group called abortion "an odious act of violence carried out against the unborn and against mothers."
"With such a 'pseudo-progressive' measure as abortion advocacy a so-called socialist party, headed by Zapatero, has explicitly put forward a neoliberal political and economic capitalist program," the statement said.
The statement later indicated that "the womb of the mother should be the most protected place in nature. Society must also protect children and mothers before and after birth."
One of the members of the group, Jesus Berenger, 41, explained, "I am part of the left and the left before used to defend life, the weakest, but now the parties are driven by their interests. I defend the dignity of the person. I am against hunger, exploitation and abortion, which is murder."

How to sing chant?


The Church is riven over this; not really but it should be if we actually took the General Instruction of the Roman Missal seriously and gave preference to Chant.

The problem is: how should chant be sung? This video shows two possibilities.
Solesmes gave us the regular form of the first example, where each note is given the same value, but with singers skill subtlely interpreting the text and music. This, the Solemnes Method developed in the mid nineteenth century. Accounts of singing chant before that, at least in France, suggest that it was sung very slowly but notes were give different  lengths according to their grouping's, thus a single  note was sung as a crochet but a tied or grouped set of notes would be treated as a set of half notes or quavers, this is what happens in the second example.

Interestingly, manuals on musical decoration of secular music from the sixteenth century would also point to trills or other decorations occurring in one beat, even if they contain three or more notes. Why should this not have also happened in chant, even at early period? Another issue raised by the Rhetorical Method concerns the freedom the musician has to add non-written decorations and embellishments. This seems to have been an issue with reformed monastic orders such as the Cistercians who despised not only unnecessary decoration in their buildings but also their music.

There are some informative  comments on the video here.

Care of the Elderly

The horrific stories about the neglect of the elderly in our hospitals make me wonder if one of the problems is that hospitals and healthcare workers; doctors and nurses are also in the death business. If a hospital, or in fact the whole NHS, is killing the unborn isn't that going to eat away at reverence for the dignity of human lives.
If you come from a culture which not allows you to but actually sees little problem in aborting a child in the womb and calls it medical waste, then how are you going to deal with an old person in a psychogeriatric ward?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Real Zuhlsdorf Revealed!

A hush has come over the blogosphere, "Where will it end?" people mutter.

The more charitable, at the CDW, suggest that at least the guitar is white: perhaps there is a tiny papal stemma on it. Others wonder if it just the first step before...
...err, puppets.

Are there dancers - liturgical - behind that green curtain? Is the next step Garage on the tromba marina.
Well, when he comes to stay with me he plays the racket, rackett or ranket, a decent traddie baroque instrument: listen here.. The above photographs have been doctored by T*%$#t readers who bug Blackfen.

So there you have it, Fr Z is really a secret racket player, NOT an aging hippy
repeat NOT AN AGING HIPPY
but he is racketeer!


Thurles Cross stolen

Police outside Holy Cross Abbey:
The relic of the True Cross, which was brought to Ireland in the thirteenth century has been stolen from Holy Cross Abbey in Thurles. There is constant stories coming out of Ireland of acts of vandalism and theft against Churches, of violence against clergy, even of sacrilege and desecration of the Blessed Sacrament. This is just yet another sad story, that seems to illustrate the shrugging off of Catholicism in "Holy" Ireland. The " Holy" which sustained faith for centuries is now just seen in financial terms, as an antique to be sold on or even melted down.

For the last thirty years of the last century there were stories of visionaries, wobbling and bleeding statues, visionaries, stigmatics and apocalyptic prophets, in retrospect we can see this as a disconnection between the Church and the folk piety of the faithful.

No one can deny the Church in Ireland is in a pitiful state. Report after report unveils yet more unsavoury details of the failure of the Church's hierarchy. In England, and elsewhere, we are fortunate that our equivalents of the Magdalen Laundries, Industrial Schools and Reformatories were in the hands of the State and not of the Church.

A friend of mine who was at the European Bishop's Conference, said he felt sorry for the Archbishop of Dublin who just looked grey, exhausted and isolated; no wonder. He seems to be the only Irish bishops who has any credibility, in many ways he is a lone voice. Irish clergy who write to me seem to be depressed and in great pain. They want leadership and yet their bishops seem incapable of giving it. In Ireland the Association for Catholic Priests seems to be the only group that has a voice, it claims to speak for a quarter of the clergy.

The Association adopts the same line as dissident groups in Austria and elsewhere, it wants an end to mandatory celibacy, admission of the divorced to the sacraments, readmission to ministry of laicised priests, empowerment of certain lay people and the election of Bishops. Some within the Association seem to want a break with Rome and the establishment of a national Church.

I suspect many Irish clergy, the other three quarters, that aren't signed up to the Association are simply saying "something must be done", they are not sure what and some, not all, might well agree with some of the tub thumping of the rhetoricians of the Association, many of whom seem to have close contacts with the Irish political establishment, which Ireland is not necessarily a recommendation for anyone. The economic situation seems to have brought about a general mistrust of elites and at least a temporary favouring of those who topple them.

The Pope's initiatives for the healing of the Church in Ireland, in his letter, especially the prayer and penance, in many places seem to be ignored or forgotten in the slew of anti-clericalism; there has been little news of the Mission to the bishops, clergy and religious, perhaps as this sounds like "retraining" or boot camp, it doesn't seem to be met with enthusiasm.

What practically everyone is waiting for is the publication of the report of the Visitation: which bishops are going to be sacked, is pretty basic question, especially as the rumours and speculations about cutting down the number of Irish dioceses has been going the rounds for some time. Whilst Rome ponders and is silent morale continues to decrease and depression with all its dangers to the priestly life seems to increase.

If there is "an Irish question" as far as the Church is concerned, it is also a European question, the chiaroscuro of Ireland's deep and profound faith a generation ago and its apparent rejection of it today, epitomises the problems facing the rest of Europe, though perhaps some might suggest Celtic Catholicism, hence Celtic Secularism is different from European Catholicism and Secularism. What is to be done?

The urgency of the situation will be a test for Archbishop Fisichella and the Council for the New Evangelisation, a recurring theme is Ireland has been catechised but not evanglised. It will also be a test for the Congregation of Bishops; can it find men who will be effective leaders and teachers of the faith? As someone suggested recently favouring men with diplomatic skills as opposed to being teachers and evangelists has, possibly, been the result of replacing the CDF with the Secretariat of State in the choice of bishops. The change has meant having those who want peace with society, rather than those who have fire and fervour in their bellies as bishops.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mass on Saturday: let me know

If you are a priest or deacon and are coming and wish to sit in choir, which I hope all clergy will, during Mass which is at 12 noon, let me know, just so we can arrange the seating, and our MC can look up the rubrics for the incensation of a lay Archimandrite who is also an Exarch Cardinal Patriarch in Petto, who is excommunicated latae sententiae, according to the Oriental Code but not of  the Latin Code. He will know of course but in the Divine Liturgy nothing should be left to chance.

Since my last post on this The Revd. James Bradley, he who intoned the Gospel at the opening of WYD, has told me he is coming to sing 1st Deacon, I am still looking for a 2nd one, or even a proper Accolyte to sing the Epistle - anything for me to get out of doing it in front of all those musicians and Latinists.

What is the difficulty with the OF?

Monday night I went a long to Maiden Lane's 6pm Mass, I sat in the congregation, Fr Tim Finigan was the celebrant, there was a small schola, it was a sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
The church wasn't packed but it was full, the servers were older than ours but the profile of the congregation was much the same as here for the EF. There were a few elderly people but most were under forty, there were like here people who looked Fillipino but maybe a few more black faces than here, though I suspect they were black Londoners rather than Africans.
What impressed me was the prayerfulness of the congregation. The congregation's following of the rubrics were less disciplined than at the OF, people stood during the Sanctus whilst others knelt, some knelt more or less through out or sat or slid between the two. Most joined in the dialogues, a few joined in the Ordinary quietly, a few followed missals, a few had Rosaries in their hands, most just prayed quietly. The celebrant was reverent, but  characteristically matter of fact, the servers were relaxed.
At the moment we are preparing for the Association of Latin Liturgy's Mass and Vespers on Saturday, everything will be in Latin (except, maybe, the homily) and most things will be sung, including the readings. As Mass will be celebrated ad Orientem, the differences, except for those with decent Latin and an eye for rubrics, from the congregation's point of view, will be negligable, except for the absence of the hushed silence during the Canon. That is unless Mgr Burnham does what Cardinal Pacienza does and recite that in a low voice.
For the celebrant things are different but for a member of the congregation the two forms can be almost indistinguishable, except maybe the absence of prayers at the foot of the altar, but then I have seem "preparatory prayers" done in the OF during the entrance hymn, and I have seen an ambo used for readings and heard the sermon end in a series of intercessions in the EF.
Speaking to people after the EF at Maiden Lane who didn't normally attend it, it was the silence that seemed important that is simply absent from much of the OF. Somehow too, it is the sense that silence is integral to the whole; singing, silence, personal prayer and public prayer. I suppose it is that the older Use allows the priest to pray whilst the choir are singing that seems organic, it lacks the neatness of OF, where for example the priest stops praying the Canon whilst the Sanctus is being sung and the people listen as he prays the Eucharistic Prayer.
An awful lot of nonsense and silliness takes place at the OF but that is not integral to the Rite itself, indeed much of it is quite contrary to an accurate interpretation of the rubrics. Latin should be used, it seems as if hymns should not really replace the proper chants, that the orientation should be ad apsidem, the norm -universally- as we know, is communion kneeling and on the tongue; so from the point of view of the laity what is it the difficulty, some have, about the Ordinary Form?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

William Oddie: A daring decision fulfils a Newman Prayer

I commend to you an article on the Ordinariate Portal by William Oddie, it is reprinted from the Faith Magazine.
Pre-Ordinariate William Oddie wrote "The Roman Option", which some suggest might have been a blueprint for those who put forward Anglicanorum Coetibus. From what people say it opened a vision and gave solidity to those who previously had only a vague notion of the possibility of full unity with the Holy See.
This short article illustrates, briefly, some of the opposition behind the scenes to the Holy Father's vision, and speculates on the rather sudden announcement of the Ordinariate. Oddie's speculations and suppositions, I suspect are based on more than idle rumour, have been carefully researched and investigated.

Margaret Forrester Came for Help at the Blognic

thanks to Fr Tim for the picture
Last night I was up in town for the blognic with Fr Z, Fr T and Fr G, along with James Bradley. It was a good time, there were a few other bloggers, and readers too. I always enjoy meeting people who rejoice in their faith and want to share it.

But that is not what I wanted to draw your attention to; someone came to us for help and we didn't respond.

A lady introduced herself to me, then someone else interrupted, so I didn't have the chance to speak to her, I think she said she was Margaret Forrester, I had a vague recollection of her name, she also mentioned Neil Addison, the Human Rights lawyer, she did say to someone else that she wanted to talk about her situation.
When I got home late I found I had received this email from Neil:
On 15th November the Central London Employment Tribunal will begin to hear the case of Margaret Forrester v Central London NHS Trust. She is being represented by Mr Neil Addison, Barrister and Director of the Thomas More Legal Centre. The case is an important one not just for Catholics and other Christians but for everyone who believes in Freedom of Speech.
Margaret Forrester was employed by the NHS as a Mental Health worker and in the course of a conversation with an NHS colleague who worked as a receptionist organising Abortion appointments she gave her colleague a booklet called "Forsaken" in which 5 women who have had Abortions talk about their experience of Abortion and how it affected them.

A few days after the booklet was given to the receptionist Margaret was suspended and subsequently disciplined for "Gross Misconduct" the wording of the Disciplinary Charge was

"You distributed material which individuals may find offensive" which is described in the Statement of Case presented to the Tribunal as a charge which is "so vague as to be meaningless"
Margaret was given a final written warning and told she would be moved to another department. She subsequently objected to the move and was then sacked.
It is very important to note that

The Booklet was NOT given to any NHS patient and it was never suggested by Margaret that it should be given to any patient

The conversation between Margaret and her colleague was cordial and the colleague did not object to receiving the booklet and has never suggested that it was forced on her. Indeed the NHS are not even calling her as a witness in the Employment case.

The Booklet simply consists of Five women talking about their own experiences of Abortion and how they felt about it then and afterwards. It does NOT say that Abortion is a sin though some of the women say that is how they now regard it

The Booklet does NOT contain any graphic images or descriptions of Abortion

Margaret had NOT given this or any similar booklet to any colleagues in the NHS before and had never been told that she was not allowed to do so
In their defence given to the Tribunal the NHS states that their reason for disciplining Margaret is because the Forsaken booklet offered a "religious view" on Abortion ie they admit they objected to it because it is religious. They objected to it because one of the women who has had an Abortion said that she now regards what she did as a sin. They ignore the fact that as a Mental Health worker Margaret had to be concerned with whether women who have had Abortions would suffer mental health problems.
What the NHS has done to Margaret is something which even supporters of Abortion should be concerned about because it goes to the heart of the issue of free speech within the NHS and within Society as a whole.
Besides bringing the Employment Tribunal case the Thomas More Legal Centre would also like to bring a case under the Human Rights Act for breach of Margarets right to freedom of speech but to do that we first need to build up a fund to cover Margarets liability for costs should she lose. Margaret is being represented by the Centre on a pro-bono basis so we are not charging her for representing her.

Through your Blog the Thomas More Legal Centre would ask your readers for their prayers and support on the 15th November and during that week. If anyone would like to offer any financial support we would be grateful. Details of how to donate are at www.thomasmorelegal.org.uk/donate.htm
My appologies to Margaret for not making time for her. If you can help her in anyway through prayer, publicity of her case, or financially please do so.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Slippery Slope

I was rather interested the news from Mexico City that some politicians are asking for fixed term "marriages".
Could this come to Britain? Well everything is possible if we allow the state to redefine one of the basic blocks of society. We are on a slippery slope. Why not allow people to define precisely what they mean by marriage, without the interference of Church or State? Why shouldn't a prenuptial agreement replace marriage vows, why shouldn't it be tailored to a particular couples needs or even their particular fetish? Why should it be a couple? Why should polygamy or polyandry or incest be illegal?
What is the next step here?

The problem is "[o]nce marriage is separated from children, its value is instantly diluted, it becomes purely about love and it is precisely this notion that marriage is only about romantic Iove, coupled with no-fault divorce that has already done so much damage to society over the past fifty years, the fruits of which became apparent on the streets of London this summer." It has also done much damage to the place of children in our society, the idea of adoption being dealt with under "goods and services" legislation says it all.

Battle lines are being drawn up on marriage, Archbishop Conti fired a salvo in Scotland with a Pastoral Letter over the weekend. This side of the border there is the faint jingle of the harness of some dragoons in the distance. There is feeling “something must be done” - quite what, isn’t clear yet – but “something must be done”.
Here we prefer to be less bellicose than the Scots; discreet letters, conversations in the corners of London clubs or gentle conversations over the dining tables of the great and the good are more our style. The problem is that for the ordinary Catholic in the pew our silence indicates consent, to the Government line, which becomes very quickly the status quo, as we have seen with Civil Partnerships. Rather than being a Teaching Church we have become the Listening Church, epitomized in the 2004 document Listening: My Family My Church. The slew of consultative documents from the Easter People of 1980 onwards has made us, like so many European Churches, seem unable to challenge society on so many fundamental issues. This strategy has made us incapable of calling the troops onto the streets when the Church actually has something important say. The response of young people in Germany, before a recent Papal Mass, when they were question about the ordination of women and homosexuality seems to be more or less where we are in most of Europe.

Another of our problems is that for years we have taken a liberal line sex and sexuality. We have allowed Connexions into our schools, we have publicly backed government sex education schemes for our children. Though one or two bishops during the introduction of Civil Partnerships legislation, indicated this was the thin end of the wedge. There was a little murmuring in Church and other circles that the financial, inheritance and next of kin rights such a partnership bestowed should be extended to others like, siblings who shared a house but nothing was done. I suspect if we pushed this, we might have been able to appeal to sense of British justice and base Partnerships on something more than a genital relationship.

Our problem with adoption agencies, it strikes me was that having allowed them to place children with non-Catholics, divorced and remarried couples and in some instances single "gay" people was that we really had no leg to stand on when the the Labour Government demanded we should go a quarter step further and allow homosexual couples to adopt. What is the difference between one person and two?

This all makes me rather pessimistic about the Catholic Church having any influence at all on the forthcoming the consultation and  legislation, indeed I suspect we will just seem rather ridiculous in defense of arcane doctrines that the rest of society has rejected and that for the majority of Catholics have been so seldom repeated that they seem to belong to a former age. Having said nothing for so long, we will find we have nothing to say that will be heard.

In Scotland it might be different, I just do not think anyone here is capable of listening to the long careful arguments of the very good letter by Abp Conti. Here the only thing that might get through is if we can repeat over and over again, "marriage is for children".

Bishop Mark Davies on "Liberalism"

I was sent Bishop Mark Davies' homily at Birmingham Oratory by Shrewsbury's Diocesan press officer, here is an extract in larger type, I can't find it online yet so I have put it all up.
The tombs of the Saints and the Blessed ones have throughout England’s history spoken a word of encouragement and hope to successive generations. Like those “witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us,” (Heb. 12: 1) of which the Letter to the Hebrews speaks, the shrines and relics of the saints in every corner of this land have urged us towards that victory which faith assures. We think of the body of St Cuthbert carried from Lindisfarne to its resting place in Durham amid the fury of the Norseman or the shrine of St Edward the Confessor standing at Westminster for almost a thousand years amid the changing scenes of our history. And we cannot forget those first missionaries to the English people urged by Pope St Gregory to bring relics to this land to awaken the hope of holiness and witness to the communion of saints. Amid a “new evangelization” fourteen centuries later few could have imagined the spirit of prayer and repentance the relics of St Therese of Lisieux would awaken in Birmingham, Manchester and London.


But what of the reliquary of Blessed John Henry Newman which we are to establish at the Birmingham Oratory today? As we gather little more than year after Pope Benedict came to these shores to declare him amongst the Blessed. The Holy Father would describe this as, “the crowning point”, of his visit to the United Kingdom. For Pope Benedict wished, he told us, to “present anew the luminous figure of Cardinal Newman, an intellectual and a believer …” (General Audience 22nd September 2010). We are not all called to be intellectuals but we are all certainly called to be believers beside Blessed John Henry. And we need to ask today: what will his shrine in Birmingham and his relics venerated in this Oratory Church speak of to this generation and to generations yet to come?


Pope Benedict has frequently pointed us towards the enduring testimony of John Henry Newman. Last month, welcoming the new British Ambassador to the Holy See he spoke of, “the remarkable prophetic clarity”, with which Cardinal Newman had identified the challenges which British and Western societies face today. Yes, Blessed John Henry had diagnosed in its first symptoms we might say, the disease that now ails our own time. As Pope Benedict had declared in London’s Hyde Park, “At the end of his life, Newman would describe his life’s work as a struggle against the growing tendency to view religion as a purely private and subjective matter, a question of personal opinion. Here, is the first lesson we can learn from his life,” the Holy Father said, “when in our day, an intellectual and moral relativism threatens to sap the very foundations of our society …”

Cardinal Newman had spoken himself of this being the enduring message of his life and labours when becoming a Cardinal in 1879 he declared: “for thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an effort overspreading as a snare, the whole earth …” As he had written in his “Apologia,” “my battle was with liberalism …” as an Anglican and from 1845 as a Catholic. He wished to contest what has rapidly become the dominant view of our own time as he put it in the “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,” “that truth and falsehood in religion are but a matter of opinion; that one doctrine is as good as another… that the Governor of the world does not intend that we should gain the truth; that there is no truth.” So we can reach the point when a Government proposes that marriage, the very foundation of the family, crucial to the well-being of society can be redefined to mean whatever we wish it to mean. Newman foresaw the path which would lead to this confusion as Revealed Religion becomes regarded, he said, as but a sentiment, a taste, so that each individual makes it say just what he wishes it to say. He surely wanted us to see now that, “there never was a device of the Enemy, so cleverly framed, and with such a promise of success” (Biglietto Speech 1879). And how we see the success of that “liberalism” or “relativism,” as an ideology which appears enticingly generous and broadly tolerant in demanding one belief should be considered as true as another. Yet becomes as the Holy Father described in Glasgow: “a dictatorship of relativism, threatening to obscure the unchanging truth about man’s nature, his destiny and his ultimate good.”(Bellahouston Park, 16th Sept. 2010).
Scholars will long ponder the prophetic writings of Cardinal Newman but he would surely wish his memory and shrine to declare in a way both kindly and insistent that the truth can, indeed, be truly known. For his basic spiritual message, Pope Benedict explained, “testifies that the path to knowledge is not withdrawal into “self,” but openness, conversion and obedience to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (General Audience 22nd Sept. 2010) Our Lord Jesus Christ. The relics of Blessed John Henry Newman’s shrine will silently allow his heart to continue to speak such encouragement to so many hearts: assuring us of victory in this struggle which we are now engaged in. Let us listen to the voice of an aged John Henry Newman saying to us, “it must not be supposed for a moment that I am afraid …,” he said, “I lament it deeply, because I foresee that it may be the ruin of many souls; but I have no fear at all that it really can do aught of serious harm to the Word of God, to our Almighty King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Faithful and True, or to his Vicar on earth” (Biglietto Speech 1879). Newman knew where our trust must be placed in the Word of God, our Almighty King and his Vicar on earth. He envisaged even the possibility of centuries of confusion to come but would say, “this present ordeal, though different from any of the preceding, will be overcome”. In the conclusion he had drawn repeatedly from the Scriptures and the history of the Church we have only to stand firm, he would say, and we will, “see the salvation of God”.
So as the relics of St Cuthbert or the Confessor and a thousand shrines to our saints have spoken a timeless message of hope and encouragement to so many before us. May the shrine of Blessed John Henry Newman speak to our hearts and continue to speak to the hearts of those who come after us. May he bring to our times the voice of his “prophetic clarity”, of which Pope Benedict speaks. And by the heroism of his own life offer the assurance that by standing firm in faith and by our very faithfulness we will see with him, “the salvation of God.” Amen.
Bishop Davies is the keynote speaker at the first Colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, Thursday 27th to 4pm Friday 28th October 2011, Reading Oratory School.

Life and Death in the UN


There is a battle between Life and Death going on in the UN. A group of experts in international law, international relations and public health has reported that some UN-related institutions are falsely presenting abortion as an “internationally recognized human right”, over and above the "right to life".
Today Lord Alton and Lord Nicholas Windsor, with the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group and Right to Life, will launch the San Jose articles
San Jose Articles

Article 1. As a matter of scientific fact a new human life begins at conception.

Article 2. Each human life is a continuum that begins at conception and advances in stages until death. Science gives different names to these stages, including zygote, blastocyst, embryo, foetus, infant, child, adolescent and adult. This does not change the scientific consensus that at all points of development each individual is a living member of the human species.

Article 3. From conception each unborn child is by nature a human being.

Article 4. All human beings, as members of the human family, are entitled to recognition of their inherent dignity and to protection of their inalienable human rights. This is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international instruments.

Article 5. There exists no right to abortion under international law, either by way of treaty obligation or under customary international law. No United Nations treaty can accurately be cited as establishing or recognising a right to abortion.

Article 6. The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other treaty monitoring bodies have directed governments to change their laws on abortion. These bodies have explicitly or implicitly interpreted the treaties to which they are subject as including a right to abortion.
Treaty monitoring bodies have no authority, either under the treaties that created them or under general international law, to interpret these treaties in ways that create new state obligations or that alter the substance of the treaties.
Accordingly, any such body that interprets a treaty to include a right to abortion acts beyond its authority and contrary to its mandate. Such ultra vires acts do not create any legal obligations for states parties to the treaty, nor should states accept them as contributing to the formation of new customary international law.

Article 7. Assertions by international agencies or non-governmental actors that abortion is a human right are false and should be rejected.
There is no international legal obligation to provide access to abortion based on any ground, including but not limited to health, privacy or sexual autonomy, or non-discrimination.

Article 8. Under basic principles of treaty interpretation in international law, consistent with the obligations of good faith and pacta sunt servanda, and in the exercise of their responsibility to defend the lives of their people, states may and should invoke treaty provisions guaranteeing the right to life as encompassing a state responsibility to protect the unborn child from abortion.

Article 9. Governments and members of society should ensure that national laws and policies protect the human right to life from conception. They should also reject and condemn pressure to adopt laws that legalise or de-penalise abortion.
Treaty monitoring bodies, United Nations agencies and officers, regional and national courts, and others should desist from implicit or explicit assertions of a right to abortion based upon international law.
When such false assertions are made, or pressures exerted, member states should demand accountability from the United Nations system.
Providers of development aid should not promote or fund abortions. They should not make aid conditional on a recipient’s acceptance of abortion.
International maternal and child health care funding and programmes should ensure a healthy outcome of pregnancy for both mother and child and should help mothers welcome new life in all circumstances.
article by Lord Nicholas here

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Has Our Indult Ran Out?

Fr Z has an interesting post about the US Diocese of Madison abandoning the practice of giving Holy Communion under both kinds, the reason: the temporary indult that allowed the practice has run out. The indult, to diverge from the universal practice, was issued in 1975 and ran out in 2005.

So, has the Indult for England and Wales run out too or has Madison got it wrong?
Any Canon Lawyers out there?

Rosary Crusade

There is a slideshow and here of photographs of the Rosary Crusade of Reparation, this year it was led by Mgr Keith Newton of Ordinariate. I can see many friends and even a few parishioners.
This years procession seems bigger than ever.
I am impressed: this week the Ordinariate was on the streets walking between Westminster Cathedral and the Oratory, last week it was a Blessed Sacrament procession between he Cathedrals of Westminster and Southwark.
I am not sure processions are part of Anglican Patrimony per se but daring to bring Christ onto the streets and into the public forum definitely is.
Remember the Ordinariate needs help with shoe leather.
Mgr Keith Newton led the Rosary Crusade from Westminster Cathedral to the London Oratory. Some two thousand people took part, led by Mgr Newton, the Knights of Malta and the Little Brothers of the Oratory. As well as hymns to Our Lady, three decades of the Rosary were prayed and on arrival at the Oratory, the Pilgrims consecrated themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mgr Newton preached to a packed Oratory mentioning that it would be Blessed John Henry Newman's feast day on Sunday (if it were not Sunday) and of his and Father Faber's devotion to Our Lady, not because of what she had done, but because of what God had done in and through her. After Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Mgr Newton led everyone in the Salve Regina. thanks

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Poculum, Cup, Calix, Chalice

A friend of mine, a priest, very enthused by the new - more accurate - translationsof the Missal has a few reservation. One is the translation of "chalice" for "calix", his arguement is that the Greek word used in the New Testament is "poculum" it means "cup" pure and simple, there are no sacral connotions.

Joe Shaw answers this by reminding us that the the Roman Canon says "accipens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas", therefore this simple cup is described as "praeclarum" "noble/excellent" and taken into holy and venerable hands. Joe's argument is that the Roman Church has very deliberately used "flowery language, and substituted a more prosaic word like 'poculum' ('cup') for 'calix'" since the the time of Pope St Gelasius I.

What Joe doesn't say but leaves us to understand is that in the other Eucharist Prayers where the old translations simply say "He took the cup" by using the word "chalice" in the new translations, the translaters have very deliberated introduced the, and something of the flavour of the sacral language of the ancient Roman Canon of the Latin Church into the vernacular translations of the other three (new) Eucharistic Prayers.

Of course in the Latin calix = cup, if we merely translate word for word but it seems we should construe that what is being said is that the Roman Canon is the measure against which we should view other Eucharistic Prayers.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Bishop O'Donahue takes up Theology of Ecology

Here is an eloquent extract from the good Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue's sermon at Walsingham last weekend for a Pro-Life Pilgrimage - thanks to John Smeaton.
I am glad that he has caught onto Pope Benedict's Theology of Ecology, I think this is an important new theological strand that can make some more obscure areas of Catholicism, like the Narural Law accessible.

This is why we have come on pilgrimage to Walsingham, to make reparation for the desecration of so many homes throughout Our Lady's Dowry, homes that should have been reflections of the Holy House of Nazareth but have been broken by abortion, contraception and the culture of death.
We also come to ask Our Lady to intercede for us that God continues to bless our homes with the life-giving grace of Nazareth, and to heal the broken homes throughout the UK that cause so much heart-ache and deprivation.
...
Through taking on a human nature, a human body in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the eternally begotten Son of God, has united Himself with every woman, man, and child on this planet. By sharing in the same human nature as Jesus every human being born is somehow joined to the divine-human life of the Son of God who took flesh in the immaculate flesh of Mary, the Mother of God.
This means that each human person conceived shares in a triple dignity:
• Made in the Image of God
• The centre and crown of all creation
• Joined to Jesus Christ, the eternal begotten Son of God, through his incarnation in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This is why all people that sincerely care about nature, and that seek to protect the environment from being destroyed should care about the destruction of the pre-born child by abortion. Every time a child is killed through abortion a person who is created by God as the centre and crown of all creation is destroyed. This is why abortion is the greatest crime against the natural world, against the environment.
This is why all Christians that sincerely care about human dignity and human rights should care about euthanasia and assisted suicide. Every time a vulnerable person's heart is stopped by drugs or the withdrawal of fluids or food, a person who is united with the humanity of the Son of God is unjustly and sinfully tortured and killed. This is why euthanasia and assisted suicide is the greatest crime against humanity.
This is why all Catholics, and all people of good will, who defend human life through their support of the pro-life movement are the most radical environmentalists and most radical advocates of human rights. The most endangered ecosystem on the planet is the mother's womb and the most endangered human right is the right to life of our most vulnerable citizens. Protecting the ecology of man from destruction by abortion and euthanasia should be the foremost concern of every human institution and government, in fact of every ecological group such as Green Peace and Friends of the Earth and every Human Rights group such as Amnesty International.
But tragically for the future of life on this planet, the ecological movement and human rights movement are often the loudest advocates of so called 'reproductive rights', which as we know is just a cynical euphemism for killing unborn children.
The world needs reminding that Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to life of every person. All are entitled to the rights of Freedom set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind.
It is deplorable that so many states choose to allow the unborn child to be a victim and targeted for killing - a barbaric & evil practice. We must stand firm in our call for respect for human life from natural conception to natural death.

A Dix Fix: on the Mass

I am praying desperately for the kindly blooger who used to give me a regular Gregory Dix fix. I thought you might enjoy this which was sent in by reader, it is of course from Dix's Shape of the Liturgy.
Was ever a command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of human greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so, wounded and prisoner-of-war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc — one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei — the holy common people of God.
link from here

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mass in Belsen

Fr Sean Coyle sent this account of Mass in Belsen after its liberation in response to a previous post on a speech by Cardinal Piacenza, the full article can be found here.
Thank you Father.

The most moving experience came on the second morning as I was walking from what had been the luxury SS barracks which our troops had transformed into a hospital. My attention was drawn to two packing cases covered by a worn red curtain. A young Polish priest was clinging to this makeshift altar with one hand, while celebrating Mass. Between his feet lay the body of another priest who probably died during the night. No one had had the energy to move the body.I had no difficulty in following the old Latin Mass, having been educated at St James's Roman Catholic School in County Antrim, and, although an Anglican, I had gained a working knowledge of all the rituals. Still supporting himself against the altar, the young priest did his best to distribute the consecrated elements. Some recipients were able to stumble over the rough, scrubby heathland. Others crawled forward to receive the tokens and then crawled back to share them with others unable to move. Some almost certainly passed on to another - probably better - world before sunset. Whatever one's race or religion one can only be uplifted and impressed by that truly remarkable proof of the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

Unbroken Magisterium

There is another very interesting speech by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy on Zenit, on celibacy but what he says about the hermeneutic of continuity and the unbroken Magisterium is interesting.
Above all there emerges the radical continuity between the Magisterium that preceded the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and that which came after it. Albeit with accents that demonstrate the different sensibilities of the times, some more liturgical-sacral, other more Christological-pastoral, the unbroken Magisterium of the Pontiffs in question is consistent in basing Celibacy on the theological reality of the ministerial Priesthood, on the ontological-sacramental configuration to Christ the Lord, on the participation in His unique Priesthood and on the imitatio Christi which is implied in that. Only an incorrect hermeneutic of the conciliar texts could lad to the conclusion that Celibacy is something left over from the past and from which one ought to liberated at the earliest opportunity. Such an approach is not only historically, doctrinally and theologically erroneous, but it is also extremely damaging to the spiritual, pastoral, missionary and vocational outlook.

A Priest: Is he a Martian? Is he a stranger? Is he a fossil?

I do not normally put up long articles from elsewhere but this I thought was just so good, it is by  Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, at a meeting with priests of  Los Angeles. It is an illustration of what Abp Gomez is up to.
I was going to highlight passages but found I had highlighted most of it.

* * *
Very dear Priests:
A few decades ago, American writer Dorothy Thompson published in a magazine article the results of careful research on the ill-famed concentration camp of Dachau.
A key question addressed to the survivors was the following: "In the midst of the Dachau hell, who remained for the longest time in a balanced condition? Who kept his sense of identity for the longest time?" The answer in unison, was always the same: "the Catholic priests." Yes, the Catholic priests! They were able to keep their balance in the midst of so much madness, because they were conscious of their vocation. They had their hierarchy of values. Their dedication to their ideal was total. They were conscious of their specific mission and of the profound reasons that sustained it.
In the midst of the earthly hell, they gave their testimony: that of Jesus Christ!
We live in an unstable world. There is instability in the family, in the world of work, in the various social and professional associations, in schools and in institutions.
The priest must be, however, constitutionally a model of stability and maturity, of full dedication to his apostolate.
Along the uneasy path of society, a question often comes to a Christian's mind: "Who is the priest in today's world? Is he a Martian? Is he a stranger? Is he a fossil? Who is he?"
Secularization, gnosticism, atheism, in their various forms, are increasingly reducing the space of the sacred, they are sucking the blood from the contents of the Christian message.
The men of technology and well-being, the people characterized by the fever of pretense, experience extreme spiritual poverty. They are victims of a serious existential anxiety and manifest themselves incapable of resolving the underlying problems of their spiritual, family and social life.
If we wished to question the most widespread culture, we would realize that it is dominated and impregnated by systematic doubt and a suspicion of everything that refers to faith, reason, religion and natural law.
"God is a useless hypothesis and I am perfectly sure that he does not interest me," wrote Camus.
In the best of hypotheses, a dense silence falls on God, but often one comes to an affirmation of the incurable conflict of two existences destined to eliminate one another: either God or man.
If afterward we were to look at the whole of the picture of moral behavior, we would not fail to see the confusion, disorder and anarchy that reigns in this field.
Man makes himself the creator of good and evil.
He concentrates his attention egoistically on himself.
He substitutes the moral norm with his own desire and pursuit of his own interest.
In this context, the life and ministry of the priest acquire decisive importance and urgent validity. Better still -- allow me to say it -- the more marginalized he is, the more important he is, the more he is regarded as outdated the more he is timely.
The priest must proclaim to the world the eternal message of Christ, in his poverty and radicalism; he must not reduce the message but, instead, comfort people; he must give society -- anesthetized by the message of some hidden directors, holders of the powers that count -- the liberating strength of Christ.
Everyone feels the need of reform in the social, economic and political field; everyone desires that, in labor union struggles and the economic realm, the centrality of man be reaffirmed and observed as well as the pursuit of objectives of justice, solidarity, and convergence toward the common good.
All this will be only a wish if the heart of man is not changed, of so many men, who for their part will renew society.
Look, the Church's real field of battle is the secret landscape of man's spirit, and one doesn't enter it without much tact, much compunction, in addition to counting on the grace of state promised by the sacrament of holy orders.
It is right that the priest insert himself in the ordinary life of men, but he must not yield to the conformisms and compromises of society.
Healthy doctrine, but also historical documentation show us that the Church is able to resist every attack, all the assaults that political, economic and cultural powers can unleash against her, but she cannot resist the danger that comes from forgetting this word of Jesus: "You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world." Jesus himself indicates the consequence of this forgetfulness: "But if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored?" (cf. Matthew 5:13-14).
Of what use would be a priest so like the world that he becomes an imitation priest and not transforming leaven?
In the face of a world anemic of prayer and adoration, the priest is, in the first place, the man of prayer, of adoration, of worship, of the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.
In the face of a world submerged in consumer, pansexual messages, attacked by error, presented in the most seductive aspects, the priest must speak of God and of eternal realities and, to be able to do so with credibility, he must be a passionate believer, as well as "clean!"
The priest must accept the impression of being in the midst of people as one who starts from a logic and speaks a language that is different from that of others: "do not conform yourselves to the mentality of this world," (Romans 12:12). He is not like "others." What people expect from him is, in fact, that he not be "like others."
In the face of a world submerged in violence and corroded by egoism, the priest must be the man of charity. From the most pure heights of the love of God, which he experiences particularly, he descends to the valley, where many live a life of loneliness, of lack of communication, of violence, to proclaim to them mercy, reconciliation and hope.
The priest responds to the needs of society by making himself the voice of those without a voice: the little ones, the poor, the elderly, the oppressed, the marginalized.
He does not belong to himself but to others. He does not live for himself and does not look for what is his. He looks for what is Christ's, what is his brothers'. He shares the joys and sorrows of all, without distinctions of age, social category, political membership, religious practice.
He is the guide of that portion of the People of God that has been entrusted to him. He is certainly not the head of an anonymous army, but pastor of a community made up of persons, each of whom has a name, a history, a destiny, a secret.
The priest has the difficult but eminent task of guiding these people with the greatest religious care and with scrupulous respect of their human dignity, their work, their rights, with the full awareness, then, that the condition of children of God corresponds in them to an eternal vocation, which is realized in full communion with God.
The priest will not hesitate to give his life, either in a brief but intense period of generous dedication without limits, or in a daily, long donation in the drop-by-drop progression of humble gestures of service to his people, tending always to the defense and formation of human greatness and of the Christian growth of each of the faithful and of the whole of his people.
A priest must be simultaneously little and great, noble in spirit as a king, simple and natural as a peasant. A hero in overcoming himself, sovereign of his desires, a servant of the little ones and weak ones; who is not humbled in face of the powerful, but who bends down to the poor and the little ones, a disciple of his Lord and head of his flock.
No more precious gift can be given to a community than a priest according to the heart of Christ.
The hope of the world consists in being able to count, also for the future, on the love of limpid, strong and merciful, free and meek, generous and faithful priestly hearts.
Friends, if the ideals are lofty, the way difficult, the terrain perhaps less mined, the misunderstandings are many, but we can do all things in him who strengthens us (cf. Philippians 4:13).
The eclipse of the Light of God and of his Love, is not the extinguishing of the Light and Love of God. Already tomorrow, what had interposed itself, darkening the faith, flinging the world into a terrible darkness, can become less dense, and after the long pause, too long, of the eclipse -- the sun returns, full and splendid.
Beyond the anxieties and disputes that agitate the world, and which also make themselves felt within the Church, in action are secret, hidden forces fruitful in holiness.
Beyond the flow of words and speeches, of programs and plans, of initiatives and organizations, there are holy souls that pray, suffer, expiate adoring the God-with-us.
Among them are children and adults, men and women, young and old people, educated and ignorant souls, sick and healthy, and there are also so many priests, who not only are dispensers of the Mysteries of Christ, but in the present-day Babel are sure signs of reference and hope, for those who seek plenitude, meaning, the end, happiness.
Let us stay united, dear friends, in the Cenacle of the Church, around Mary our Mother, with Peter and the Apostles, submerged in the Communion of Saints, so that we can also be, truly, signs of reference and hope for all.
It is my wish, which I convert into a prayer for all of you who are here present and for all your Brothers, who are not here now. Henceforth I will always have you with me.