Monday, August 24, 2015

Non-Changing Church?


I like bishops rings, I like big amethyst one's, I like the idea of bishops being amethystos "not drunk (for it is only the third hour)" Acts 2:15. I like the symbol of the ring on the finger of a bishop because it symbolises his marriage to his Church. I don't like the idea of ambitious bishops hankering after more prominent Sees. The bishop, even the Bishop of Rome belongs to his See, as a husband belongs to his wife, as Christ belongs to the Church and the Church to him.
If Hyppo was good enough for Augustine ... .

If we use the highly scriptural analogy of the Church as the bride of Christ then we should be wary of adulterous clergy who 'covet other Sees' as my Orthodox friends would describe it. If fidelity is important for ordinary married people then it should be even more important for clergy too, especially bishops, the Church should never encourage adultery like the Ashley Madison website.

I recently read this from Anne Roche's The Desolate City: Revolution in the Catholic Church, it is a very moving account of the Church of her childhood compared to what is now.
I must sometimes have gone to Mass in the day-light when I was young, but my strongest memory is of coming thankfully into it out of the cold dark. At first, to keep my father company. He was a millwright and had to work every Sunday. I used to hurry through the chill Newfoundland mornings with him, shivering, fasting, to the poor little basement church, down into the warm, candlelit, holy silence. The church was always surprisingly full. Men from the mill with their lunch baskets, going on or coming off shift, sometimes black-faced from unloading coal boats all night, kneeling on the floor at the back, too filthy to venture into a pew. Nurses, and our doctor in his vast raccoon coat, with his bag, after a night call. A Mountie in full uniform. Young people still in evening dress after a party.
I remember a bit of that, Irish labourers who through their devoted attendance at Benediction and Mass taught me the meaning of what St Thomas had written in the Summa.


If I am being honest I really do have to admit that something drastic has changed, maybe not in the formulation of the faith but certainly in the living of it. I am not terribly modern in saying that Jesus did not write a catechism, rather he founded a Church, nor I do I hope that I am going to upset anyone by suggesting that the Church is not just bishops or even clergy, it is the whole community of believers, and not just a horizontal community but a vertical one too that includes the saints and the great teachers of the past. Faith is not simply that is held but something which must be demonstrated in works, it has to be fruitful in good works, 'show me your faith and I will show you my works', says St James.

Problems always arise when one portion of the Church gets out of balance, when one part takes control, we are still living with the problems of nineteenth century. Thinking about the Church of the late 60s and 70s what seems to have happened  was the Church got out of balance, that the centre decided on change which was rejected by the peripheries. Rome went for change and the people left. No longer was the Mass, 'our Mass', the doctrine 'our doctrine' the leaders of the Church 'our leaders', by 'our' I mean something we collectively owned by us or our parents, our grand-parents, the saints. No-longer did bishops and priests act like loving spouses defending and protecting their family and encouraging its spiritual increase. No longer were laity, priests and bishops, including the Pope, servants of the liturgy, or catechesis like the workmen Anne Roche speaks about, instead they took control of the Church forcing change, often with a sledge hammer or a wrecking ball against their spouses will. It was the reign of the experts. These expert took over the common heritage of all the Faithful that rightly belonged to the whole καθολικός passed on by whole Church. No longer was the Liturgy a safe place hallowed by time and frequent use, invariably it was transformed beyond recognition, as too Church buildings, people were robbed of their spiritual home, but of course they were assured this was not a doctrinal change. Doctrine of course never changes but its presentation did, and how it was lived did, and how it was taught did, and the mindset that received did, and the 'Churches' adherence to it did.

The result was disenfranchisement, Catholicism which no longer belonged to Catholics, it belonged to the bishops for the first time in history bishops became innovators, if they remained the 'faithful' and many clergy became consumers of faith rather than owners. The catastrophic changes robbed ordinary Catholics of their faith, bishops handed over much to 'experts' who took control to themselves of what had previously belonged to all. The bishop, tended to see himself no longer in terms of  bridegroom 'guarding, protecting and defending' but as managers of change and innovators,  I suspect five years in the rarified and highly politicised atmosphere of Rome during the Council had changed them significantly. Rather than being immersed in faith they became either fodder for factions or highly politicised, themselves collaborators full of faith but fellow members of a faction. They came to see themselves as Lords of the Church pushing forward ideology rather than faith rather than being servant spouses and spiritual fathers. Either pre-occupied by, or at the Council they became strangers to their clergy and people, reappearing amongst them with what appeared to be new doctrines, new liturgy, they wrecked the very house their bride had previously recognised as home, and the bride fled, for they no longer smelt of the bride and she no longer recognised their smell. Whether it was bishop himself who inflicted the damage, some like Cardinal Heenan felt they had lost control, all was done by in the bishop's name.

In parishes there was confusion, if the Mass had changed, then surely doctrine had changed. If the Blessed Sacrament was removed from altar to a side chapel, or the priest was commanded to turn his back on it, then surely what was believed yesterday is no longer to believed today. It was what bishops considered little things that 'stole' the faith from the people. It was the take over by 'experts' from ordinary members of the parish that added to the alienation. Not only had the liturgy changed, but also devotions were more or less removed, the Marian and Corpus Christi processions, the Novenas, for many pre-Concillior Catholics Mass was of precept whilst devotions were of love, they embodied the 'always, everywhere and by all' that is the patristic essence of Catholicism.

Suddenly the old certainties always, everywhere by all believed, were no longer certain. The faith of parents and grandparents, the usual catechisers of children, was no longer what the Church expected children were expected to know and love, the same with the army of catechists, and even teachers both religious and lay, their faith was no longer the Catholic faith. So many of the clergy too, I suspect lost heart, afraid to teach because they themselves lacked understanding, having been formed in a Church that no longer existed. So many of the priests, certainly the older ones I knew of that era seemed depressed, whilst so many of the younger ones just left.

Some would suggest that the emptying of the churches and the loss of huge numbers of its members had more to do with changes in society, or simply the issuing of Humanae Vitae or the dichotomy between the actual Council and the 'Council of the Media' but the Council itself, placed so much emphasis on the role of the bishop, it would be foolish to ignore their role in what followed. Of course not one iota of doctrine was changed, it was after all a 'Pastoral Council' but somehow the Church did change, and so many were lost. Even for those who stayed somehow the faith had changed and the change resulted in a loss of impetus, like some loveless marriage.

What had changed? Catholicism was no longer a faith, 'always, everywhere and by all' believed, St Vincent of Lerins definition but something handed down. The Church was no longer a Communion but a Heirarchy, in the secular sense, ruled by diktat from above. The Council Fathers had managed to kill the very thing the Council had sought to teach.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Manliness




I have been at a major church three times recently for some pretty important occasions, and each time only women read, and every time the female 'music minister' sat enthroned above con-celebrating clergy as some sort of demi-bishop signalling to the people to turn their attention from the altar to her and join in the music, even when the celebrant sang things that would of themselves demand people participation, like "The Lord be with you". No, I didn't check, there might have been very good reasons for the exclusion of men from lay-ministerial positions but the fact it happened on three successive occasions just seemed to be making a point. Just so no-one can question my feminist credentials I only tend to use the Roman Canon and I always include those women at the end of the last list, chauvinists often just use EPII/III/IV, which only mention Our Lady. I don't know if this is what people mean when they speak of feminisation of the Church, actually I think it might go deeper.

Looking around my own parish I see a lot of men who want to be manly but don't actually know how to carry it off, the problem is mainly one of society, and the Church reflects society. However the Church does have the answers, as I said to one young man, after he had attended a friends raucous 'Gay Pride' party a few years ago and fled, 'If you want to know want to know what manly love is like look at the crucifix'. Jesus is always the answer, though we might not be yet be able to form the question.


Apart from sexual addiction or confusion misplaced manliness can often result in men acting out a caricature of what it means to be man, getting drunk, taking drugs, being 'hard', using or misusing women, being a bad a father, being incapable of commitment, even holding down a job. A couple of generations ago the majority of boys left full-time education at 15 or 16, and unless they joined the forces remained at home until they married in their 20's, girls followed the same course, maybe marrying a few years younger. Until the sexual revolution, if you were a man then you were also a father, responsible for protecting and supporting your own family. There has been plenty of talk about the effects of contraception on women, not much on the effects on men. I would suggest one of its effects, is that it makes men immature and afraid of facing responsibility.

In practice men have a hard time of it, loneliness and the lack of belonging seems to be part of the condition of men. Apart from conception they have no necessary part in contemporary family life. Tea at the Trianon links to a post by Mgr Pope who in turn cites an American survey on Helping Priests Become More Effective in Evangelizing Men.

Alienation is part of modern manhood, yet the Church should not set about alienating man. Christianity like Islam or Judaism is supposed to be a manly religion, at its heart is not only that God became Man - one with us, but in his becoming Man he also became a man, with a genealogy, a family, a name and even a trade, this very particular man was the very icon of God.

It has always been heresy, and it is on the rise today, it is to 'de-Incarnate' the Incarnate Word. We find this in the attitude that seems to say, "Though Jesus in the Gospel says, 'A man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery ... ', but the Eternal Word of God says ...", of course what is given as the Eternal Word is invariably Fr A, or Professor B, or even Cdl C. The same can be done with any doctrine: judgement, sin, baptism, the Eucharist, etc.

One of the constants in any revitalisation of the Church has always been the return to the Incarnation, the person of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, therefore a return scripture, to the Gospels. What always accompanies this is a return to the fraternity of Jesus and his disciples, whether it is Augustine or Benedict, Basil, Norbert, Bernard, Francis, Dominic, Ignatius, Neri, Bosco or any of the other great Catholic evangelists, they gathered brothers to live out the Gospel, this seems to be basic to evangelisation, it is what Jesus did. The faith of the Incarnate God cannot be separated from 'brotherly love', and it has always been expressed in gathering men together, to deepen their relationship with Christ.

Whether now we should speak about gathering men and women together, I don't know, that is certainly what seems to be the trend in the West/North. Maybe I am a misogynist or maybe the key to evangelisation is evangelising men, this is what Islam does, this is what Jesus did, this what Copts decided to do in their great renewal under Pope Shenouda.


Certainly there seems to be a need to form men in the Gospel, and men today need Christ's healing, and men feel alienated from the Church. At the back of my mind is an old adage: evangelise a mother, and she will bring with her her young children, evangelise a father and he will bring his wife and his sons and daughters and they will remain faithful.

As the Church teaches the 'compatibility' but also the difference of men and women to not explore that and to take it into account in our pastoral strategy and teaching seems to be folly, it is after all that that this difference is not just about priesthood but also leadership, and Christological iconography.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Apocalypto


All those prophecies, all that Apocalyptic talk, there is a great deal of it around nowadays. Under Pope Benedict Catholic bloggers and social media users would get excited by the sight of Papal fanon or the asterix, nowadays attention seems to being paid to the prophecies of Our Lady of .... , or some strange dubiously orthodox internet seer.
Perhaps I ought to be more excited about the end of the world, I am 62 next birthday, and growing old and comfortable in my sin. In fact I am further from asking leave to retire to some cave in the rocks to prepare for the inevitable than I was a few months ago or even a few years ago.

Ageing might bring about a certain pessimism but I don't seem to be the only one. Laudato Si, for example seems to be one of the most Apocalyptic encyclicals, and the Pope's constant talk of the devil, and a 'new' Church, or at least new ways of 'being Church', add to a sense of dislocation. The great emphasis  of Cardinal Kasper's writings seem to be the old world and its Greco-Christian ways of thinking have come to an end, which is probably true but I am not sure they are ripe to be replaced the thought of those nineteenth century German philosophers who were essentially atheists. I am disinclined to replace my understanding of God for Kasper's 'anti-God'.

In many ways the Labour Party leadership election seems to illustrate a decline and fall, the end of a particular age in European politics. Apart from Corbyn there is no alternative apart from exhausted fag-end Blairites, and Corbyn will consign Labour to the the status of just another opposition party, playing second fiddle to the Scotish Nationalists. Socialism has run its course, it is unable to answer the serious problems of impending poverty, most Southern European countries have up to 50% youth unemployment, most governments are going to be unable to pay the increasingly high bills for pensions and for health services, for this reason alone euthanasia acquires increasing support from the political classes. Immigration is a necessity because low birthrates mean we are simply not replacing ourselves. Indeed postwar anti-family, and therefore anti-child, policies seem to have been enshrined within our culture to the extent that they are unchangeable at least until catastrophe forces change.

A woman on the radio recently said to another, who had decided not to have children, 'Don't expect my kids to wipe you backside when you old', there is a terrible truth in that. The Dutch king recently announced the end of  the welfare state, in its place a participating society. The most obvious way for anyone, other than the very wealthy, to participate in society is through family.

The problem is that for many 'family' simply doesn't exist, it is certainly not there in 'same sex marriage' and we have changed our very understanding of human sexuality. In Japan for example where reproduction is barely happening, one of the major problems seems to be that pornography and masturbation, seems to have taken place of the real thing, In the West the LGBT agenda, which our politicians have embraced, seems to be concerned about the removal of all sexual taboos and restraints. Sexual or gender confusion which will affect not only our children's moral, emotional and psychological health and future generations too. Exposure to pornography seems to be something even very young children cannot avoid. How will children and families cope with 'government approved morality'? How will we hang onto sanity?


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Spanish Inquisition was 99% Myth


A BBC documentary. After centuries of of lies and myths aimed at the Catholic Church we now know the Spanish Inquisition never happened, no one was burned, put on the rack or any of that. It makes you wonder, how much "settled history" is actually not true.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fr Andrew Pinsent,

Fr. Pinsent
Aleteia has a very interesting interview with Fr Andrew Pinsent, the most brilliant priest of my diocese. He used to work on the CERN project, he was one of those scientists who was drawn into worship by the wonder of the infinite. I have always had a great admiration for him and his insights. The interview begins with Father saying:
We do a certain amount of pre-Communion preparation and maybe confirmation preparation and that gradually dies off into adulthood. If a student is lucky enough to have a good university and a good university chaplaincy, there’s a chance of getting input during university years. After that, in my experience, there’s almost nothing.

When you think about it, this is completely crazy. They expect young people to go out with pre-Communion training into the world, and be fruitful as Catholics.

Well perhaps by some miracle, some of them still go to Mass and some still practice their faith, study their faith and so on. But what we’re doing doesn’t seem very sensible.
A lot of it is about Evangelium, which he co-authored with that other remarkable priest Fr Marcus Holden, there are lots of interesting insights throughout, but this is perhaps the most important.
Grace is actually the number one issue in the Church and in Catholic theology today. And the issue is really this: What is a Christian? In practice, in the minds of many Catholics today, a Christian is really just like anyone else, perhaps just trying to be a bit better. And this is not what a Christian is.

A Christian, by grace, becomes an adopted child of God, able to call God “Father.” That’s a unique privilege of the grace of Baptism, and people don’t know this. What we’ve got actually is not anonymous Christianity; it’s more like anonymous Buddhism with Christian language. That’s quite a common kind of spirituality today.

What I want to do is recover a healthy sense of the proper distinction and relationship between the life of grace and the life of nature.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Another Parishioner Gone


I have lost another of my parishioners, and I am pleased!

Today, the Vigil of the Assumption one of my parishioners, he doesn't live in the parish but he came to the Old Rite Mass here on Sundays and Friday, is entering one of those rather strict monasteries. Pray for him, I am offering Mass for him this evening. Someone rather lamely said to him, "write, let us know how you are getting on', his reply was, 'Yes, I will if I leave'. He is allowed a letter year as a novice. Hence I will give neither his name or his monastery, the violet of the Vigil of the Assumption in the Old Rite is a suitable marker of his transit from this world to the monastery.

I could well imagine this particular man marching through the desert under the burning sun with a cohort of Foreign Legionaries or yomping on some Welsh mountain with a squad of the SAS, the monastery he has joined is that type of place. Other monasteries might well specialise in academic or artistic pursuits, this one in silence and being dead to the world!

It is interesting to see where God leads us, another of my parishioners has just celebrated his tenth anniversary as a Catholic. There is nothing boring about my parishioners, each is an individual, each life is a manifestation of Grace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Virgin St Clare

Yet another Virgin! St Clare shared Francis' poverty, she and her sisters wanted to be enclosed and yet mendicants, without land or revenues.

Virginity is about having neither husband nor children. It is about emptiness, desolation and aloneness. It is about an inner craving that will never be truly satisfied in this life. It is meant to produce an inner yearning for spiritual fulfilment that will only be accomplished in the life to come.

No wonder the modern world and even the Church despises continence, virginity and widowhood. For the Christian these things are about a future fulfilment, looking beyond this life. it is about Hope and about the Kingdom that we pray will come.

And yet continence, virginity and widowhood are not about living in a fantasy world but living with that emptiness, that poverty; the acceptance that the Cross. Being crucified with Christ, is the natural state for a Christian.

Will anyone be discussing these things at the Synod?
Has anyone heard a sermon on virginity lately?

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy



Clergy meetings are normally my idea of purgatory but not the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, if you are a priest or deacon I suspect you will enjoy the forthcoming colloquium: book now, or if you aren't a member join now by going to the website. Fathers, it only cost £50, and joining the Confraternity is only £25


This year’s conference takes place in the beautiful and historic setting of St Edmund’s College, Ware. We will make use of the school’s fine Pugin chapel for our liturgies.
27th - 28th October

Speakers include

Fr John Hunwicke
of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham,
who will speak on the Magisterium

Fr David Marsden
a member of the recently founded Irish Confraternity,
and lecturer at Maynooth,
who will speak about priestly formation

Fr Nicholas Schofield
archivist to the Archdiocese of Westminster,
who will give an introduction to the fascinating history of
St Edmund’s College.


Bishop Alan Hopes and Bishop Robert Byrne will both join us during the Colloquium.


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Dominic, an alternative to Francis


Happy St Dominic's Day!

I can't help comparing and contrasting the two great 13th Century founders. Why did Dominic not become a Franciscan or Francis a Dominican?

Both started mendicant penitential orders which would dominate the middle ages. Francis was concerned about going out to the poor and appealing to the emotions, he managed to capture the popular imagination, to the point where he still, today, appeals to the popular imagination. The myths that surrounded him even in his life are with us today. Dramatic gestures seem to have been a speciality, He kissed babies and lepers, he embraced the poor, challenged the rulers of this world. He was suspicious of learning, and intellectualism. His concern was that his disciples embrace the 'spirit' of his reforms and intuit what they were, hence after his death his order split and fragmented, parts of it ended up in heresy.

Dominic, even in his day was much less popular than Francis, his concern was for the abandonment self, but also for a strict unity. Whereas Francis rejected learning Dominic embraced it, though he never dismissed popular piety and preaching simply to ordinary people he understood the need for a deep intellectual underpinning and set up a studium in Rome at Sopra Minerva. 'Preach the Gospel always, and if you must use words' , though it is apocryphally attributed to Francis sums up much that the early Franciscans were about, Dominic on the other hand 'used words either to address God or to speak about him', the preaching of the 'Order of Preachers' was about words, and using them precisely.

I wonder if the next Pope in deference to his predecessor might choose the name Dominic.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Fruit

There is fruit on Papa Stronsay, they are in the middle of harvest in the green house, the cherries have just past, but then they are fruitful; all those young men they attract, despite or maybe because of the ghastly weather, the distance from anyone's home, the extraordinarily uncomfortable looking habits, the long hours in prayer, the penance, and although I haven't visited, though I have met some, what people remark on is the joy they have.

Fr Hugh writes about a meeting of the English Benedictines that has just ended, they have been discussing their future. In many ways their discussion is emblematic of the rest of the church, they are the 'canary down the mine'. The health of contemplative religious is an indication of the health of the wider Church.

One could make the that suggestion that the Traditional liturgy seems to make monastic life flourish, if one did, one could cite Norcia or Fontgombault and its several daughter houses or La Barroux or the Franciscans of the Immaculate, and Silverstream too have just professed Benedict Andersen, my congratulations. It might well be 'trad' communities do seem to flourish, but I would suggest that was only part of the answer. Some might be attracted to the religious life just because they are liturgical pedants, most monasteries need at least one. Liturgy is certainly important to monastic life as it is to the rest of the Church but there is something more, liturgy is the fons et origo but it is a means to an end, as the Church itself is, that end is union with God.

CfqLEYPpWRBezSJ-oWHtqmpI19mFkVHy0cJOzBWm2sk=w388-h291-noUltimately religious life is about holiness, about saints, about growth in the supernatural virtues, about Faith, Hope and Charity, it is about effective brotherly love, as should the Church as a whole.
The big question, which we dare not ask is, can we see the theological virtues being lived out, is the Church, is a monastery producing saints? Are vessels of clay shining with supernatural light?

The great problem  in religious life is perhaps the modern heresy of Gradualism, it infects parishes too, the idea that we cannot be saints today, that we do not encounter God, that we are not changed by God. What this means in reality is that there is no need for Faith, we are not reliant on God, or Hope, that God will take care of all things, or Charity that we are called to love with supernatural power. Whether it is the Universal Church, a parish, or a monastery or even a Synod the loss of the supernatural, of Grace is the killer, and yes the Sacred Liturgy is the key! Does a community believe it is a supernatural act, and therefore a fruitful thing, or just a community exercise.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Mark Spencer

I thought enough has been said about the ridiculous statement of the Member of Parliament for Sherwood that,  “Extremism Disruption Orders” could be applied to Christian teachers.

He denies saying it, yet at the end of the 3rd paragraph in the letter he sent to one of his constituents he says quite clearly,  "EDO's, in this case, would apply in a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage was wrong".

We are quite used to the fact that many of our Parliamentarians are not the sharpest knives in the  box, and most have little understanding of ethics and even less of morality or honour. I left a comment on his 'Facebook page', saying,
"EDO's, in this case, would apply in a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage was wrong". So you are saying that simply saying gay marriage 'was wrong' warrants an extreme disruption order. So what about parents who believe it is wrong, or members of your own party? 
He simply denied saying it, and did not respond to the question I asked, then after some else had replied for him, giving him an excuse not to reply, I then pointed out where he might find his comments.

Just now on an unrelated post I received a comment from a 'Mark Spencer', which had nothing to do with what was being discussed.
Mark Spencer said...
Why are closeted gay bishops pushing an agenda for heterosexual married priests?
Mark Wrestler
6/8/15 10:43 a.m
Obviously it could be a coincidence and have nothing to do with increasingly famed Honourable Member for Sherwood, perhaps Mark might clarify. I am sure many mothers who found themselves called 'Mrs Spencer', were inspired to name their sons to remind themselves of their favourite High Street emporium but it is the lack of logic that makes me think it is indeed the MP.

Increasingly I think that we have a duty in order to make our democracy work we need to question our members of  Parliament, we simply can't con ourselves into thinking making an 'X' with a stub of a pencil on a ballot paper once every few constitutes democracy.


Mark Spencer MPSpencer won his Sherwood seat at the 2010 general election with a majority of only 214, which he managed to increase a little in the last election.

He has form, in 2015 Spencer again emerged into the limelight by suggesting that a man with learning difficulties, a recluse and unable to tell the time, who had been left without food or power after being sanctioned for arriving four minutes late at a benefit office should "learn the discipline of timekeeping". Again Spencer said critics had "twisted what he said" but stood by his comments that "normal people doing normal jobs would get their wages docked".

With MPs like that, so bereft of Christian compassion, and dare one say so out of step with real 'British', no, with 'human' values really does need careful watching and being held to account.

He reminds me of another MP....


Monday, August 03, 2015

The Tablet at it again


Oh dear, the wretched Tablet is having another go at one of its increasing number of least favourite bishops!

Bishop Egan has replaced the diocesan parish priest with a religious community of young friars under Father Serafino Lanzetta, described as 'one of the most brilliant minds of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.' As a bishop who has place evangelisation as a priority I can understand why the good bishop should want such a priest just a short ferry ride and walk from his cathedral.

One of the big problems bishops have increasingly today is the difficulty of replacing  priests, sometimes there is simply no-one to replace a priest, often it is done with great difficulty, increasingly parishes are merged and already overworked priests are expected to take care of another parish. To have one priest (whole) for a parish is going to become a rarity in the UK, in the recent past the average statistics were in the region of 300 practising Catholics to a priest, this is not going to continue.

Another problem from a parishes point of view is that the Missal allows for a vast number of options. A priest may, at his choice, not only celebrate Mass in either Form. In the Ordinary Form he may celebrate facing either ad apsidem or contra populum, he is at liberty to celebrate in Latin or another language. If he is Italian like Fr Serafino he could well choose his own vernacular or the people's. He may or may not allow women or girls to serve, he may or may not allow Holy Communion under one or both kinds, he may or may not use extra-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Though it is important a priest works with and in consultation with his people he also has to follow his conscience and do what he himself is theologically comfortable with, and considers to be ultimately good for his people.

Again a priest's whole style can change a parish, one priest is never going to be an exact replacement for another. A priest from abroad is likely to have very different attitudes to a native. If he is member of a religious community he will also have obligations including liturgical one's to his own community. It is regrettable though understandable that a small group of parishioners might feel as if their noses have been put out of joint.

As far as Gosport is concerned, according to Fr Brown who says he has been reliably informed that:
 1. The Mass count in Gosport had fallen by fifty percent in the last twenty years. It has risen significantly in the last two months;
2. It is not true that parishioners have been required to kneel or receive on the tongue, nor have women been told to cover their heads;
3. Mass is celebrated each weekday in the EF very early in the morning and the daily OF Mass takes place exactly as before;
4. The Sunday Masses in the OF remain.
5. The diocesan post bag is currently running ten to one in favour of the, to quote one of them, "beautiful, more reverent Masses".
6.  The Stella Matutina Sisters whom the article mentions are not "traditionalist" but very much novus ordo. (the have actually been appointed to Grayshott, quite some distance from Gosport)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

'Cristiada' or 'For Greater Glory'


You might enjoy this video: 'Cristiada' or 'For Greater Glory', I did but it portrays the struggle of the Mexican Cristeros, through a very thick Hollywood lens.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Crocodiles, Snakes and Lice and Fleas

Gradualism: the heresy that says God's Grace is not sufficient for our conversion; it is modern Pelagianism of course, seems to dominate contemporary German theology. It is what is behind those terrible words of Cardinal Kasper that ordinary Christians aren't meant to be heroes. It suggests that Christianity is not about conversion, or radical commitment, and worse, that grace is not continually poured out on us.

One of the problems is loss of the distinction between mortal and venial sins. Ages ago I heard a missionary priest in Paris celebrating Mass for some English speaking Africans, this is his half remembered sermon.

Some sins are like crocodiles, the devour us, after tearing us limb from limb. The Church understood that Murder, Apostasy and Adultery were sins beyond all other that destroyed our relationship with God - they are deadly, instantly!
There are other deadly sins, these are like snakes that sliver into our lives, when they bite us they their poison infects us and we will die.
Then there are other sins, which are like lice and fleas, all of us have some of these, if we allow them to grow, they too can make us seriously ill because they carry viruses and we become like some sick buffalo, that falls prey easily to snakes and crocodiles or simply can't keep with the rest of the herd. 
The crocodiles are easily avoided, we avoid going to the places they live, and in fact unless we go into the long grass were we loose sight of Christ or start wading in muddy water we can see them coming and we get away from them. If we can get to the Confessional even if we have lost part of our arm or leg and can only crawl we must get there, and if we see someone who has been mangled by a crocodile, carry them there!
Snakes are a bit more difficult but if we keep the commandments, if we are faithful to God, to our religious obligations, if we honour our mother and father, the faith that has been past on to us, if we keep our marriage vows and make sure the family is sacred place, if we keep our hearts pure of wrong desires. We can see the snakes coming, and either kill them or run from them, and if we are bitten, we must run to the Confession before the poison kills us.
These are mortal sins! 
Venial sins, lice and fleas, we get rid of these by soap and water, by being close to Christ, through Holy Communion - soap, through water - prayer, doing good, following Jesus, by keeping ourselves clean. 
The problem with lice and fleas is that we know we have an itch but we are not sure where it is or what has caused it, it just stops us from being what God wants us to be. If we can identify it, take to Confession, that is why it is good to go to Confession frequently, to expose our itching skin and our rashes to Christ for him to heal them and to stop us getting worst. Have you ever seen lion or another animal with mange? Well that is like us, we all have a bit of disease, a few lice and fleas, some of us have lots, that is why we need to visit the Heavenly Physician regularly.

 Crocodiles and snakes can be easily avoided, when the have attacked us it is obvious, lice and fleas are a little more difficult to deal with, we catch them more easily. Crocodiles, perhaps we never encounter, snakes sliver into our lives especially in our youth, as we get older we tend to become aprey to lots of lice and fleas, we very easily become immune to their presence, even comfortable with them, sometimes when the grow fat on sucking our life-blood we pets of them, and feed them so they become even plumper, and end by considering them a virtue! (or at least I do - mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!).