Saturday, September 21, 2019

Cardinal Biffi on the Antichrist

",,,,  the Antichrist presents himself as a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist. He ... seeks the consensus of all the Christian confessions, conceding something to each one."
"The crowds follow him, except for tiny groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. Chased by the Antichrist, they tell him, 'You have given us everything except for the one thing that interests us, Jesus Christ,'"

"Today, in fact, we run the risk of having a Christianity that puts Jesus with his cross and resurrection into parentheses,"
"There also are relative values such as solidarity, love for peace and respect for nature. If these are given an absolute value or uprooted from or placed in opposition to the proclamation of the fact of salvation, then they become the basis for idolatry and are obstacles on the path to salvation."

Friday, March 08, 2019

Prayer and Reality

Image result for kneeling "low Mass" 
"It is not the healthy who need a physician but the sick"

Jesus is supposed to be our Saviour but most of us think we are just fine and we don't need Salvation or a Saviour, in fact the idea of Salvation especially for modern Western Christians is incomprehensible nonsense. We think of ourselves as capable of saving ourselves, or friends, the Church, the World, it is the ultimate blasphemy.

For Orthodox the foremost prayer is Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy, in the West it is the Church's addition to the Angelic Salutation, the Hail Mary, "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death"

Acknowledging our need for mercy because of our sinfulness is fundamental prayer, expressed so well the Western posture for prayer: kneeling before God.

Prayer demands humility and self knowledge. The traditional Lenten disciplines of almsgiving and fasting strips away our pride and leaves kneeling before our Saviour and Lord.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Fasting and Reality

Image result for bread water

Let's be realistic about fasting, it makes you tetchy, even murderous!

Jesus was "driven" into desert to face hunger and temptation not for an intimate prayerful experience. if anything fasting makes the mental effort of prayer much more difficult.

I asked a wise old monk why Recreation was reduced to just half an hour during Lent in his monastery, "There are nice pious reasons about giving more time for prayer but the reality is it stops us from losing our temper and tearing out one another's throats". He said history is littered with monks who murdered their abbots during Lent.

Fasting sifts the soul leaving the chaff clearly visible, it shows what is really in the soul when pretending is no more.

We might like to pose like some beautifully dressed, bejeweled and masked Venetian lady during Carnivale but as soon as Ash Wednesday and the penance begins shows herself pockmarked and wrinkled stripped of pretense.
Image result for carnivale ball venetia

Fasting helps to reveal our true selves, to discover the beam in our own eye, it reveals the blindness that so often makes a good confession and open honest prayer impossible. . 

Almsgiving and Reality

Image result for begging
Almsgiving means giving to the poor, its easy nowadays, we do it by clicking on a screen.
In the past it meant going out to the find the poor or letting them into our comfort zone, it meant being disturbed by them, seeing, smelling their poverty for ourselves and even risking our safety in our encounter with them.

Giving alms to the sick could well risk catching their sickness or coming home with fleas or worse. Almsgiving is about solidarity with the poor but also education of the rich.
Related image
There is an element of reminding us of the fleeting nature of our existence and the turn of the wheel of fortune. I met a wealthy businessman from Mosul, ISIS came, he fled and ended up with nothing in a refugee camp in Jordan, "not even my dignity", and now lives with his family in tiny room as an impoverished exile in Brighton. We might think that our wealth protects but it is an illusion but war, economic collapse, even illness can change everything. Poverty can reveal the gracious prince as a vicious beggar, sickness can reveal the sweet and benign old man as a self obsessed God cursing beast.

Remember Chrysostom: If we give from our excess we are doing nothing but returning what we have grabbed for ourselves, almsgiving is about giving from your necessities.

The late Father John Edwards SJ used to say: you can tell where your heart is and what is important to you by looking at yout bank statement.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Ultimate Reality

A thought I might blog for Lent.

Cardinal John Henry Newman said: "Conscience  is the first of the Vicars of Christ." 
"This means that Catholics have a duty to tell the truth, to recognize it even when it hurts" Joseph Ratzinger Jesus Christ Crucified is the ultimate reality.

We run away from this reality.

It is lies that seem to be basis of the present scandals in the Church; lies that men like McCarrick live, lies that covered up for abusers or "defended" the Church but left her exposed to villification.

Lies are the basis of politicking, and we have far too much of that it the Church.

For a Pastor to be caught lying destroys trust not only in him but in the Church and ultimately in Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Salvation. A lying pastor is a destroyer faith.

Lent is time for us to turn from falsehoods to reality; taking off the carnival masks and embracing the Cross of Jesus, lies are a way of fleeing the Cross and refusal to take hold of reality.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

He is not dead but sleeping

Yesterday a kind Orthodox priest who used comment on this blog telephoned to check I was alright, in a very pastoral way I suppose to check I was still alive.

This post is to prove to anyone else who might be interested that I am indeed alive.

I hate priests who seek sympathy by discussing their health problems, ordinary people have to carry on regardless ....

...but since my heart problems I have been up and down, generally more down than up, my condition and drugs make me very sleepy and tiedd to my home, I have received the great grace of falling asleep during meetings. I am also more stupid than I used to be, I haven't been able to read a book for months, I can't concentrate.

I have had a tremour in my left hand for years but it has got worst and made celebrating Mass correctly more difficult and uncomfortable, I am always anxious about spilling the Precious Blood or shaking with the ciborium and cutting food is a bit difficult too. Because I'm a bit unstable on my feet I fell downstairs awhile ago and damaged my back, I no longer need to say Mass seated behind the altar, I hated that, but it has added to the discomfort, to the point where saying Mass hurts. Saying Mass facing East is a boon but nowadays the reason is not just the theological-historical, but that it stops people seeing me wince and fumble with the host, it's a vanity thing!

I am very grateful to my priest and lay friends, especially the Traditional and Orthodox ones for their support, and kindness.

Keep me in your prayers, and pray God gives the grace to joyfully offer it up.

PS. I have just published some comments that have been hanging around for over 3 months - sorry

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Cross is a Choice for Heaven or Hell

The Cross is about the vulnerability of God, it is about God placing himself into our hands.

In the Crucifixion God is scourged, spat upon, crowned with thorns, nailed to the Cross and left to die.

Upon the Cross the ultimate battle, is revealed the terrible truth of God, the all powerful becomes all weakness, Life himself submits to death, the sinlessness is overcome by sin. Fallen man who has fought with God from his beginning now enters the final battle.

Before us is set the incredible power of man, he can and does crush God, remove from existence, expel him from the earth he had created.

Before us is set the love of God, that he for love of us is willing to be defeated. For us Immortality becomes mortal.

The doctrine of Hell is essentially about freewill. Man can choose to embrace God for all eternity or to reject him, to say 'yes' or 'no', we can choose between life and death. In a very real way we are made like God himself, we are eternal.

On the Cross God shows himself powerless but we are never powerless, God removes his choice by choosing to love us. God accepts us with utter love and we are called to make a decision of accepting or rejecting him. Catholic theology never teaches God or his Grace is irresistable. In each of our acts we can either reject or accept God.

We can be in the crowd which shouts Hosanna - 'Save us' as we follow Jesus in the great sacrificial procession from misery (Bethany means 'House of Misery) to be at peace with God (Jerusalem means 'the View of Peace') or we can be in that other crowd which rejects him and shouts "Crucify him" and does crucify him.

The choice is eternal because we are eternal, we can choose God which is Heaven or Hell where the pain is our own decision to reject God.

Heaven and Hell are both a single moment but an eternal moment.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

That letter from the Pope Emeritus

I am surprised that few people have reacted to the Secretariate for Communications fake news presentation of the Pope Emeritus' letter to Mons. Viganò in which left out  is significant sections. It adds to the sense of chaos and corruption in the Holy See.

Ratzinger is Newman-like in his precision also happily leaves his readers to think more deeply about what he has written.

Here are my first thoughts on translation on Sandro Magister's blog.

 Image result for Dario Edoardo Viganò Signore
Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò
Prefetto della
Segreteria per la Comunicazione it is striking that a Secretariate should produced such edited release of this letter
Città del Vaticano 
7 febbraio 2018 it was written one month before its release on Francis' 5th anniversary, and was treated as an endorsement which it obviously is not.

Reverendissimo Monsignore,
I thank you for your courteous letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of the eleven small volumes insubstantial? light weight? edited by Roberto Repole.
I applaud this initiative which is intended an initiative which is a good idea but .. to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice according to which Pope Francis would be only a practical man devoid of particular not general, or over any other type of formation  theological or philosophical formation, to suggest Pope Francis does not have a philosophical or theological framework for what he does would indeed be foolish while I would be solely a theoretician of theology who could understand little of the concrete life of a Christian today. could this 2nd clause about Benedict himself be more important than than the first 
The little volumes he repeats demonstrate, rightly so, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation, he was formed in profound philosophy and theology but it is formation (yet again) not Magisterium or present grasp of the faith and they therefore help in seeing the interior continuity ???  Edward Pentin asked Abp Ganswein to explain, he hasn't yet, it could simply mean he contains "Popeness" St Pius IV had an 'interior continuity' from Rodrigo Borgia between the two pontificates, albeit with all the differences of style and temperament. much of Benedict's life has been about promoting "Continuity" especially of the post-Concilliar Church with Christ and the Patristic Church and the Church of his more recent predecessors.
Nonetheless, I do not feel that I can write a brief and dense theological page about them these books in particular? because for my whole life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books that I had also truly read. and yet they are 'little books' Unfortunately, even if only for physical reasons, he has lost sight almost completely in one eye I am not able to read the eleven little volumes little again in the near future, all the more so in that I am under other obligations to which I have already agreed. I have better things to do, what are these other 'obligation'?
I am sure that you will understand, and I extend to you my cordial greeting.
Benedict XVI

Image result for Dario Edoardo Viganò
Viganò's presentation has shown the amateurish relativistic and untrustworthy nature of its Communications Secretariate.

There is certainly need for reform there if the Vatican is to be trusted.

"Let you yes be yes and your no be no", is something forgotten in the Vatican.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent - Sermon notes "On Orthodoxy"

For forty days Jesus dwelt in the wilderness.
The wilderness was the very opposite of the Paradise, the walled garden God had created for man. The wilderness was the place of thistles and thorns, of chaos and disorder, wildness and confusion, it was a God-less and God-forsaken place, the place wild and dangerous animals, the place of demons and devils.

The God-Man, driven by the Spirit, goes into the wilderness not just to be alone but to begin a war against confusion and disorder, against the demon's and devils which will reach its triumph of the Cross, when God's Kingdom is exulted. He goes into the wilderness to cleanse it for at the end of his stay there the angels come to minister to him there.

The cleansing of the Temple, in today's form comes from John's gospel, it is at very beginning of his Gospel, chapter 2. It is used as a kind of preface to John's Gospel  -the other Gospel's use it as a preface to Holy Week. In John's Gospel it becomes a statement of Jesus' mission - to bring right worship or it could be translated as orthodoxy- ortho doxa - 'right glory/teaching' to the world to save it from heterodoxy - other glory/teaching.

Jesus cleanses the Temple to purify it. The Temple of course was a metaphor for or a model of the cosmos, like pagan temples. Indeed some have suggested Jesus' teaching about the destruction of the world was actually about the destruction of the Temple. Jesus himself of course compares his body to the Temple, "Destroy this temple and in tree days I will raise it up." "He was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body"

Disorder, heterodoxy or heresy, confusion are not of God. Moral confusion is not of God, hence in the first reading God gives the 10 Commandments, the first and foremost, "You shall have no gods before me", it is introduced by God saying "I brought you out of the house of Egypt, the house of bondage, of slavery". Out of the place of superstition, immorality, moral confusion and relativism. Hence the absolute necessity to follow the Commandments which are not about slavery but liberation in God.

Orthodoxy right worship is freedom. St Paul will tell Christians that they too are the Temple (of the Holy Spirit). Cleansing our Temple is a fundamental to being a Christian. Believing rightly is absolutely necessary to acting rightly, towards Gad and man. Knowing/understanding our Catholic faith is necessary for our Salvation. Wrong belief goes with wrong living, hetrodoxis goes with hetropraxis.

The Good Shepherd leads us into truth, he makes the lost, the found, those in darkness are led into the light, the wounded have their hurting healed.

Lent is the time when Holy Church commands to cleanse the Temple of our heart by recognising our sin, our unorthodoxy, in the light of the Commandments, in the light of the Gospels to confess all our serious sins in the Sacrament of Penance so that we might be purified to receive the Risen Christ in a truly worthy state.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Where is the Vatican going?

With scandals like gay drug parties in Vatican palaces, bishops running major dicasteries who put suggestive murals into their cathedrals, monsignori who get caught in lifts with their boy friends being promoted one has to ask where is the Vatican going? Maybe the other questions are, where are we being taken and wo is taking us there?

And now the new Vatican postage stamp

Friday, February 09, 2018


Grateful: The barely-dressed male performer kisses the hand of the pontiff after his show

  • Pope calls Chilean abuse victims spreaders of calumny and says no evidence/proof has been given him.
  • Despite Cardinal O'Malley personally giving the Pope a letter offering evidence.
  • Now it seems the CDF made a recommendation that Bishop Barros should be removed.
  • The Pope personally removed from the CDF 3 priests concerned with investigating child abuse.
  • .When Cdl Mueller asks the Pope for an explanation, he is told 'I am the Pope' and the audience ends.
  • Scicluna, the CDF abuse prosecutor, had already been 'promoted' to be Archbishop of Malta
  • Since the end of last year the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has been allowed to fall into abeyance.
  • He has surrounded himself in the Council of 9 with those who have denied abuse like Cdl Maradiaga who described the abuse crisis as a 'Jewish media conspiracy' or more to the point Barros' defender and the Chilean Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, known locally as "the Sandbag" because of his failure to act on abuse.
  • He has also honoured notorious coverers up of  abuse like Cardinals Daneels and Mahoney, who seem to have been prominent in his election.
  • During this Pontificate aberrant sexuality seems to be promoted.
  • The report produced on the 'Gay Mafia' seems to be ignored.
    • Accounts of his own handling of abuse in Buenos Aires seem to be mixed.
Young admirers: Pope Francis kisses two children dressed as ringmasters who took part in the circus performance in Paul VI hall at the Vatican
Pictures of yesterday's Papal audience: Reuters

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Fr. James Mawdsley

Thanks to Fr Z for posting this video of an interview with Fr. James Mawdsley of the Society of St Peter. As a young man he was imprisoned in Burma for 14 months (1999-2000) for his work for human rights. Whilst at universitry he seems to have been fascinated by 'truth' and tried to understand human suffering. In prison he met Christ and after his release the Traditional Mass, he was ordained two years ago and works in Warrington. He speaks so eloquently of The Mass and how it inspires the celebrant to humility and to awe in the presence of God.

This is very beautiful interview, in part because he portrays a priest who lives in the mystery of  God and glimpses it but doesn't understand. Father says at one point that he is glad of obedience because left to himself he mucks things up.

As a young man I was impressed in the interviews he gave after his release by his desire for truth, almost two decades on it has brought him daily to bow down before the altar of the Living God.

If you are priest, especially, watch the video, it is refreshing in its humility and the things he is trying to say. Maybe one of tyhe differences between those who say the ancient Mass is that it demands humility.

Pray for Fr James that the good work God began in him may be brought to completion

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Peronism and Corruption

I had a lesson in Peronism from an Argentinian waiter recently, in Argentina he was a PPE graduate.
Peronism, he said, was the most corrupt form of politics, because you could be a Communist, or a Facist, or a Capitalist, the only thing that mattered was support for Peron, post Peron any other head of State. It is a remnant of 1920/30s Facism, where the will of the Fuhrer or Il Duce was all that mattered. Right or Wrong, Good or Bad, Custom or Tradition, Law or Morality or anything else pale into insignificance and have no validity compared to the Will of the Leader.

Therefore the ideal is to be as close as possible to the Leader, failing direct proximity the next best thing is to be close either to those who are close to the Leader or those know, or claim to know, the mind of the Leader. Under such a system moral automony is reduced to slavery because is no mral compass, such abstracts as Right and Wrong are of no importance. All that does matter is Dux Vult. If the leader is somewhat erratic that doesn't really matter, it just means his followers have to be closer and listen even more intently and it could be that what was the Leader's will last year or even this morning, might not be so now, or his will expressed to A might be the complete opposite of what was expressed to B.

To the Peronist the old elite, who based their authority on intellectual expertise or their understanding, or knowledge, even their fidelity to the law must be supplanted, nothing other than the leaders will matters. They represent an alternative authority, and therefore a possible alternative source of power, and certainly a source of evaluation and criticism. Peronism hates intellectuals, they are always totally arbitary and concerned with what is expedient, what adds to or deepens the leaders power.

Nowaday's everyone identifies the rule of Francis as in some sense Peronist, it is popular conclusion, I identified it at the beginning of his reign, if somewhat positively, as appealing to the ordinary man and trying to make the Papacy 'popular', that was a bit naive of me, it is actually Peron's Peronism, essentially about making the leader powerful.

The trouble with Peronism as my waiter friend explained is that far from being a cure for corruption it becomes a source of it  The corruption  in the Vatican is based on nepotism and patronage, it is the old Italian thing as dominant in Rome as it is in Palermo; X has done me a favour, therefore I will do a favour for Y who, will do you a favour, in return for you helping Z, who will then be indedted to me. Peronism thrives on this because relations with the leader, rather than integrity, honour or honesty, are all that matters. It does indeed reduce everyone to slavery because personal integrity is always subject to whatever the leader wants. North Korea is perhaps the Peronist ideal or at least the reductio ad absurdum.

What is hated are upright men of integrity, those who are approved of are the servile and weak and those who are either stupid, indebted in some sense or lack integrity, who are therefore always and corruptable, one could list a huge number of Papal courtiers who fit into this category

In his recent comment in Chile on Bishop Barros and his denouncing Barros' accusers of being callumnious liars, the Pope quite rightly says bring me evidence and I will act; proof is just and innocence should be presumed. The problem is of course that in other situations he has removed bishops on mere rumour or gossip, as in the case of the Bishop of Ciudad del Este.

In the English speaking world the norm is if a priest or bishop is accused of sexual abuse he is suspended until he is exonerated, the burden of prove is on him, not his accuser. In Italy Francis has a reputation of extending "mercy" to the friends of friends of sexual abusers such as Fr Mauro Inzoli, suspended by Benedict, then rehabilitated by Francis, then suspended again when he was convicted and imprisoned. His own record on sexual abusers in Buenos Aires is reportedly not quite a shining example, it compares very poorly to Cardinal Pell's, even in the 1980s. It is a very Peronist way of acting, where due process or good practice is over-ridden according to the leader's will or friendships.

The same could be said of the 'wedding on the plane', due process, ritual, law seemingly ignored for the sake of what many might see as a stunt.

The Papal award to Liliane Ploumen or the praise of Emma Benino can be seen in Peronist terms; what matters is not Catholic belief but what is political expedient. It is good thing in the eyes of the world, or just his friends to praise or honour famous women, after all they might be pro-abortion but they are anti-trafficking and anti-violence against women.

The latest action of asking Chinese 'underground' Catholic Bishops to stepdown in favour of State appointees is indeed a Peronist act. The orthodoxy, the past suffering and loyalty of such bishops and their people counts for little compared with rapprochement with the Chinese Government. The message sent to the world is that in its relationship with the world everything the Catholic Church once believed is up for grabs, almost as if what is most desired is a Papal visit to China and the status in might bring the Holy See and the Pope personally.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Imagine: Pastoral Opportunities

no title"If he were a priest in my diocese I would ensure he was suspended, and at his age retired from a public liturgical or pastoral function", was the reaction of a certain Vicar General to the Pope's 'marriage' of the Chilean couple after I placed on social media, "Next Thursday 3-4pm, in Waitrose gin aisle, I shall marry anyone who turns up, everyone welcome".

I wasn't serious but the Vicar General was, he more or less followed Ed Peter's line that the marriage was very likely invalid, pastorally he believed it very dangerous. In his diocese he said, that there were at least a few priests and deacons who were likely to follow the Pope's lead and marry couples who turned up at their front door, without paperwork, such as proof of freedom to marry, or even of baptism, and without much, if any preparation.

But it would be easy to look at this negatively, to speculate that someone was starved of attention when he was a child, the example of our Holy Father offers endless possibilities. Imagine!

Every diocese should have an Office of Liturgical/Pastoral/Canonical Imagination

Imagine if you lived in theatreland in London or New York and had priests competing with jugglers and street magicians, offering free marriages whilst people waited for tickets.
Imagine the Marriage of Figaro with real Marriages!
Imagine, Romeo and Juliet actually getting married!
Imagine, a two for one offer at your local supermarket! Two couples at one go.
Imagine the possibilities for an airport chaplain, you could marry people as they waited to check-in, or as they wait for luggage at the carousel.
Imagine the mass weddings that could take place at the next Glastonbury Rock Festival

Glastonbury festival: The full lineup as a spreadsheet ...

Imagine, in my diocese, a traffic jam on the M25 near Gatwick, a priest wandering up and down in cope and a high viz jacket offering weddings to all and sundry.

the newly ordained 
Everywhere should be seen as a pastoral opportunity, every situation is rich in them.

But why stop at Marriage? I could offer no-fuss baptisms on Brighton beach in the summer. The vocations crisis could be ended by a bishop inviting anyone to come forward who wants to be ordained, think Glastonbury, and just do them then and there, priests will be coming out of that bishops ears.

Maybe the reason there are so few young people at this Chilean Mass with Pope is that they had all been married before he arrived and had gone off to the pub for the wedding breakfast!

courtesy of Gloria TV