Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Those who are tormented in hell are tormented by the invasion of love

As for me I say that those who are tormented in hell are tormented by the invasion of love. What is there more bitter and violent than the pains of love? Those who feel they have sinned against love bear in themselves a damnation much heavier than the most dreaded punishments. The suffering with which sinning against love afflicts the heart is more keenly felt than any other torment. It is absurd to assume that the sinners in hell are deprived of God’s love. Love is offered impartially. But by its very power it acts in two ways. It torments sinners, as happens here on earth when we are tormented by the presence of a friend to whom we have been unfaithful. And it gives joy to those who have been faithful. That is what the torment of hell is in my opinion: remorse. But love inebriates the souls of the sons and daughters of heaven by its delectability.
St Isaac of Syria

All Saints Eve

The doorbell rang. “Trick or treat?” yelled two little seven year olds dressed as witches. I feigned horror at their ugliness, I think I might have said something about them being smelly, adding various little insults, rather enjoying myself. “What’s the trick?” I asked.
“We will put a spell on you.” They said.
I said, “I’ll sprinkle you with Holy Water and you’ll disappear.”
“We will come back as ghosts and haunt you”, they said.
I didn’t say, “Well if that is want you want then you will go to hell for all eternity.” I was tempted, but then I thought “child protection”. So I just said, “That can’t happen because I will pray for your soul”.
Anyhow I eventually went and found two plastic Rosaries, I think they thought they were necklaces, we said a Hail Mary and they left saying something about sweets or money.
I, being a party pooper, phoned their mum, who lives around the corner to ask if she thought they would be safe door knocking after dark.

Hallow’een is a pretty new phenomena in the South East of England, one of those vulgar North American bits of culture. A friend of mine disapproves of it so much he organises a party where children and helpers come as saints and angels. It is perhaps another sign of the disappearance of religion, I am sure that those who do “Hallows even” know very little or nothing about “All Hallows day”.

My home schooling American friends, live in an area where Halloween is big, preparation for it seems to go on for weeks, they use it to talk about the intercession of the saints, the power of Christ to overcome evil, the use of Holy Water. Rob jnr apparently had a plan to fill his super seismic mega water pistol with Holy Water and “blast those evil kids”, a bit over the top, maybe a bit American, in England we might worried. Instead his parents suggest that what the family might do is put statues and pictures of the saints in all the windows with candles around them. The children paint pictures of their patron saints on tracing paper to put up as stained glass. The pumpkin lantern, rather than having a ghoulish face has crosses cut in it and will stay throughout November for the Holy Souls, for their friends who come calling there are Miraculous Medals on tasteful cords, and apple bobbing, which has a bit of baptismal catechesis and there are cruciform cookies.

Monday, October 30, 2006

John Allen on the Pope, Jihad and an alliance with Islam

John Allen has a very interesting comment on what might be the Pope's message in Turkey next month he compares the writing of the Pope and Sayyid Qutb, the radical Islamicist, hanged by Nasser in 1966.

Ever since the announcement of the Apostolic visit the ecumenical and interfaith dimensions have been very significant, I believe he regards it as the highpoint of his Papacy so far. Ardent Vatican watchers are aware that from the very beginning of his Papacy the relationship with Orthodoxy have been important but maybe the relationship and dialogue with Islam has been underestimated. Allen continually regards the Pope's words on Islam at Regensburg as a mistake or an error, I think they were really quite deliberate to lance the boil of violence, in order to speak about what Christianity and Islam have in common. First of all it is that man is not "homo faber", an industrial cog, a mere consumer under the illusion of secular western culture.

Sandro Magister has an a very useful piecen on dialogue.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Blessed John xxiii

Today in 1958 the patriarch of Venice, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, was elected Pope, and took the name John XXIII
On 3 September 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed him "Blessed John XXIII."
The "Good Pope" loved the liturgy of the Church, especially the pomp and ancient ceremonial surrounding the Papacy.
I remember as a little protestant child being so impressed by the pomp and splendour of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the Urbi et Orbi when it was shown on television.

Scottish bishops in public spat

THE leaders of the Catholic Church in Scotland have descended into an extraordinary public spat over claims by a "rogue bishop" that they do not speak out enough against homosexuality.
In an unprecedented move, the Church's two most senior clerics, Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Archbishop Mario Conti, have moved publicly to rebuff a third bishop, Joseph Devine of Motherwell, after he claimed the Church was embarking on "a policy of appeasement".

Devine wrote in a letter last week that he condemned the actions of a senior Church aide who, he claimed, had failed to express opposition to plans to allow gay couples to adopt.
The new laws mean that homosexual men and women who have entered a civil partnership can now adopt as a couple. Previously, they were only allowed to adopt on their own.

Pope on the filth in the Church to the Irish Bishops

Pope Benedict XVI said the Catholic Church must urgently rebuild confidence and trust damaged by clerical sex abuse, telling Irish bishops on Saturday “the wounds caused by such acts run deep.”The comments to bishops from Ireland - an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country where all but one seminary has closed following repeated scandals - were the first explicit remarks by Benedict on the subject since he became pontiff.
In March 2005, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, denounced what he called “filth” in the Church “even among those ... in the priesthood.” Those words were seen by many as a possible denunciation of the clergy sexual abuse scandals.
“In the exercise of your pastoral ministry, you have had to respond in recent years to many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors,” the pontiff told the bishops.
“These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric.”
“The wounds caused by such acts run deep, and it is an urgent task to rebuild confidence and trust where these have been damaged,” Benedict said.
Benedict told the bishops that as they continue to deal with the problem, “it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes.”
“In this way, the Church in Ireland will grow stronger,” the pontiff said.Sex abuse scandals have done damage to the Catholic Church in Ireland, where nearly 90 percent of its 4 million residents identify themselves as Catholic.
The church's moral standing, Mass attendance and applications for priesthood have plummeted in Ireland since 1994, when the first major scandal involving a pedophile priest triggered the collapse of the government of then-Prime Minister Albert Reynolds.
Since then, both church and state have struggled to come to terms with the scale of abuse committed by priests.
All but one seminary has closed.The pope said however that “the fine work and selfless dedication of the great majority of priests and religious in Ireland should not be obscured by the transgressions of some of their brethren.”
He expressed confidence that “the people understand this, and continue to regard their clergy with affection and esteem.”

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"No Popery"

The urbane and witty parish priest of Lewes dropped in for a cup of tea this afternoon. He is always rather fun, but beneath the two inch high Roman collar, he is very ascetic, a man of deep faith. We spoke about his second Bonfire Night in Lewes, he seemed a little uneasy spending the night alone in the Presbytery.
For those of you who know nothing of it, once a year this rather quaint and sleepy Sussex town bursts into a mixture of drunkenness, paganism and anti-Popery. Lewes was the onetime home of Tom Payne; it was also the site of the execution of seventeen Protestants under Queen Mary in the 16th century. Much of what happens seems to only go back as far as the mid-nineteenth century, a reaction against the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy, and the rise of the Catholic ritualism in the established church, especially here in Brighton.
Every year the various bonfire societies process around with burning crosses, dress up costumes and burn firework filled effigies of the Pope, Guy Fawkes and a contempory figure, one year it was President Bush, another year Blair and another Bin Laden; it is not unknown for the catholic parish priests of Lewes to suffer this fate. The Reverend Ian Paisley, the anti-Catholic Northern Irish politician, is often present at this event. Despite its political incorrectness, every year the numbers grow.
Catholics in the town normally leave or at least move into back rooms for this night. It rarely ends up by being a time of actual violence against individual Catholics or even Catholic property, maybe a bit of silliness, but I would not want to be on the streets of Lewes dressed as a priest at this time of year. I know Catholics who will not move into Lewes because of this event. Those of my parishioners who have been use words like “sinister”, “evil” or “malevolent” to describe it. The cries of “No Popery” and “Burn the Pope” definitely make this an event even bad Catholics avoid.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Albania: We have no gold to give them except the gold of the Gospel

I was speaking on the phone this evening to Father Martin Thompson, a priest of our diocese working in Albania. I do admire him and I do admire the Albanian Church. Last time we spoke he told me about some of the older priests who had spent fifteen, twenty years in prison for the faith, remaining firm despite dreadful tortures and even worst threats. Many were killed. The Albanian Church is drenched in the blood of the martyrs.

He is going to start a new apostolate working amongst people who have moved down from the hills to the city Shkodrë of, it sounds like a shanty town, with horrendous poverty; it is just up the road from where the Archbishop has chosen to live. Father Martin was saying he wanted to do something for the elderly and the sick; there are just no facilities for them, and no money to support them. He told me of a man born without legs who used to live the dogs, which he said isn’t unusual. The Archbishop says, “We have no gold to give them except the gold of the Gospel, which is worth more than anything else we could give”. “When I say Mass,” Fr Martin says, “there is an audible gasp at the consecration. When they hear the Gospel they listen to it as if it is announced for the first time.”

There are lots of material needs but the spiritual needs are the greater, training the future clergy, building churches, building a shrine for the Albanian Martyrs who will be beatified next year. Enver Hoaxha set out to destroy the Church in Albania, and by doing so he destroyed something in the soul of the Albanian people, taking away their culture dignity and self respect. The reconstruction of the Church is about the reconstruction of their spirit. The beatification of Mother Theresa is a great source of pride and prestige for many Albanians, her prayers definitely effective, but there is so much more to be done.

When Father Martin was here in the summer the Bishop gave him £500, we gave a similar amount, he used it buy Breviaries for the seminarians, in the past they spent the money on fuel to stop them freezing in winter. I promised to send some money for Mass stipends for the clergy’s support.

If you want to help contact me rlblake@tiscali.co.uk

Blessed Theresa of Albania
pray for the Church of your native land

Venerable Martyrs of Albania
pray for the Church of your native land

Pope on the Apostles

Pope Benedict recently completed a series of audiences on the Twelve apostles. I thought these were particularly interesting and well done. He covers what we know about them, what is speculated about them, what their writings contain, and what their example says to us today.
Now that the whole series is finished, I thought I'd provide links to the audiences so that you can read through them as a group if you wish.
Apostles as Envoys of Christ
Profile of St. Peter

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Did you know about Finland and Latin?

from Open Book
How could we not post this story?
Finland is one of the quieter members of the EU. But now its turn at the EU presidency has thrust it into the spotlight - and exposed an unusual passion.
Like the boy at the party with cheese straws stuck up his nose, it has been caught doing something vaguely disturbing - indulging a penchant for Latin.
It is the only country in the world which broadcasts the news in Latin.
On its EU presidency website one can find descriptions of meetings in Latin. But love of the language of Rome goes deep.
It's a kind of diffuse story. But here's the pertinent page.
From the latest newsletter:
Finnia hospita erit summo conventui Unionis Europaeae et Ucrainae, qui Helsinkii die Veneris 27 m. Octobris habebitur. Legatis UE praeerit primus minister Matti Vanhanen, legatis Ucrainae autem praesidens Victor Yushchenko. A parte Unionis Europaeae huic conventui intererunt etiam José Manuel Barroso, praeses Commissionis Europaeae, et Benita Ferrero-Waldner, membrum Commissionis Europaeae. Pro Finnis praesidentiam obtinentibus aderunt Erkki Tuomioja, minister a rebus exteris Finniae, et Paula Lehtomäki, ministra commercii et progressus.

An article from August:
The Vatican's daily newspaper has called for Latin to be made the official working language of the European Union, after attempts by the new Finnish presidency to promote its use in EU departments."While Latin has been given up as a compulsory subject in schools over recent years, interest in the language is growing in Europe and other parts of the world," the semi-official L’Osservatore Romano said in a commentary."In these circumstances, it would constitute a suitable instrument for international communication." The paper said a Latin-language news programme, Nuntii Latini, had been broadcast weekly for the past decade by YLE, Finland’s equivalent to the BBC, making the ancient Roman language "potentially contemporary."
Added Thursday,
There have been rumours that scheduled Masses and Vespers in St Peter's from this week on are in Latin, with reading in the vernacular. Until now they have almost always been in Italian. Apparently this is an instruction from the Holy Father.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Schools and Families

I received a letter from our bishop and an email from a former parishioner. The letter, was actually from our diocesan education department on the Bishop's behalf urging the clergy to get people to write to their MPs about the threat to our Catholic schools, the government are proposing that “faith schools” open their doors to 25% non-faith pupils. I joked on Sunday that it would be the first time ever I would be asked to write letters in which parents would want me to say, “I have never seen this child in Church."
The email was an announcement that Helen and Rob have just had their sixth child. Helen and Rob are madly in love, a bit trad, he is a stone mason/sculpture, she was a teacher. They are both committed to home schooling, they are Americans. I rang them this afternoon, Rob jnr. was put on the phone and immediately starting telling me about the baby and how he had just learnt the corporal works of mercy, quoting from the Baltimore catechism, then Beth his sister started telling me about what she was learning for first Confession which she makes this year and her excitement about first Communion, and her new “chapel veil” and, and, and ………, a whole lot of other Catholic stuff. These kids know their faith, more than that the love it. Rob jnr, aged ten wants to be a priest. His parent’s pray for it. Oh, the new baby? He is called Benedict, the previous one Joanna-Paula, the one before Josef, yes, after you know who.

I don’t know an English family like them. Home schooling is a very American thing, maybe it goes with self-reliance and the frontier spirit. It makes real the words of the baptismal rite in the blessing of the father, “You and your wife will be the first teachers of this child in the ways of faith, may you also be the best of teachers”.
When criticism is made of the high rate of lapsation or non-practice of our school children, the answer nowadays is generally that parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. Fair enough, then I think we need to ask the crucial question, which can’t concisely answer, “what is the purpose of our schools?”
I have a friend with three sons, two he sent to different Catholic schools, they lapsed, the youngest he sent to a non-Catholic school is the only one who takes faith seriously.
Our schools are on hiding to nothing if we continue to neglect the proper formation of the family.
There was actually time when the Catholic faith was passed on without schools, by the family, through practice, through stories of the lives of the saints, through the liturgy and devotions.
Without strong Catholic families we will never have good Catholic schools, nor even a strong Catholic community.

Bad music is destroying the Church

James MacMillan has this interesting article, reprinted in the Catholic Herald it is well worth reading just for its polemical style. I agree with MacMillan's arguement, as one of the few leading Catholic composers we should listen to him carefully.

There is a new momentum building in the Church which could be directed to bringing about this new, creative “reform of the reform”. Part of that momentum comes from a widespread disgust at what was described recently as “aisle-dancing and numbskull jogging for Jesus choruses at Mass”. The days of embarrassing, maudlin and sentimental dirges such as “Bind us together Lord” and “Make me a channel of your peace” may indeed be numbered. Are we seeing the end days for overhead projectors, screaming microphones and fluorescent lighting and their concomitant music, complete with incompetently strummed guitars and cringe-making, smiley, cheesy folk groups? The American writer Thomas Day describes this kind of liturgy as “a diet of romantic marshmallows indigestibly combined with stuff that grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes you into submission with its social message”. “What was the rationale of such music?” asked John Ainslie, one-time secretary of the Society of St Gregory, writing in the 1970s. “Many well-intentioned nuns, teachers and later priests thought that such ‘folk music’ would appeal to teenagers and young people generally and so encourage them to participate in the Liturgy instead of walk out from it. “The term ‘folk music’ is, of course, misleading. There is nothing, for example, to link it with the English folk-song tradition... The name was no doubt coined partly because some of the early repertoire was imported from the United States, where it might have been called folk music with some justification, partly because it was felt that the style had something in common with the musical tastes of today’s younger generation and their sub-culture. But it has never been persuasively shown that whatever young people may find attractive to listen to in a disco, they will find attractive to sing in church. “Further, the style is unsuitable for singing by large congregations... more so if the only accompaniment provided is a guitar rather than the organ, since guitars, even amplified, have insufficient ‘bite’ to keep a whole congregation singing together and to give them the support they have come to expect from the organ.” Liturgy as social engineering has probably repulsed more people from the modern Catholic Church than any of the usual list of “social crimes” trotted out by the Church’s critics. Like most ideas shaped by 1960s Marxist sociology, it has proved an utter failure. Its greatest tragedy is the wilful, de-poeticisation of Catholic worship. Our liturgy was hi-jacked by opportunists who used the vacuum created by the Council to push home a radical agenda of de-sacralisation and, ultimately, secularisation. The Church has simply aped the secular West’s obsession with “accessibility”, “inclusiveness”, “democracy” and “anti-elitism”. The effect of this on liturgy has been a triumph of bad taste and banality and an apparent vacating of the sacred spaces of any palpable sense of the presence of God. The jury is still out on any “social gains” achieved by the Church as a result. It may be timely and sobering to reflect on what we have lost. In the early 1970s Victor Turner, the cultural anthropologist, wrote of the old Roman rite: “One advantage of the traditional Latin ritual was that it could be performed by the most diverse groups and individuals, surmounting the divisions of age, sex, ethnicity, culture, economic status, or political affiliation. “The liturgy stands out as a magnificent objective creation if the will to assist both lovingly and well was there. Now one fears that the tendentious manipulation of particular interest-groups is liquidating the ritual bonds which held the entire heterogeneous mystical body together in worship.”In the light of this, the reformed liturgy can be seen as yet another glaring failure by the Leftists in the Church to deliver, even according to their own agenda. It was not meant to be like this. Reading the Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council’s document on the liturgy, one realises just how much the spirit of true reform has been betrayed by the wilful misdirection of liturgical activists in recent times: “Servers, readers, commentators, and members of the choir also exercise a genuine liturgical function. They ought, therefore, to discharge their offices with the sincere piety and decorum demanded by so exalted a ministry and rightly expected of them by God’s people.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium [SC] Chapter 3, Section 29)“The treasury of sacred music is to be preserved and cultivated with great care. Choirs must be assiduously developed.” (SC, Chapter 6, Section 14)“The faithful are also to be taught that they should try to raise their mind to God through interior participation as they listen to the singing of ministers or choir.” (Musicam Sacram, Part 2, Section 14)

Richard Dawkins: "Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching"

Richard Dawkins has been hawking his new book "The God Delusion" around apparently it is going to be a best seller for Christmas. I feel it is very easy to call someone silly but really Dawkins has very little to say as the Apostle of Atheism, as a seem one engaged in arguement what he has to say is severely limited. It is sad that his books are so often used in university foundation courses, for this reason we should be familiar with what he has to say.
Henry, one of our parishioners, who occassionally leaves a post on this blog, and loves to debate God with atheists recommends Dawkins to help improve their arguements. He says Dawkins normally leads them to start questioning their belief in aetheism. Terry Eagleton on the the London Review Bookshop reviews this book in aptly entitle article, ", there is a short extract below, the whole thing is well worth reading, just to experience Eagleton's own theological thoughts, which aren't Catholic but certainly sound.
Zenit today, has an interesting interview with Dawkins.

Dawkins thinks it odd that Christians don’t look eagerly forward to death, given that they will thereby be ushered into paradise. He does not see that Christianity, like most religious faiths, values human life deeply, which is why the martyr differs from the suicide. The suicide abandons life because it has become worthless; the martyr surrenders his or her most precious possession for the ultimate well-being of others. This act of self-giving is generally known as sacrifice, a word that has unjustly accrued all sorts of politically incorrect implications. Jesus, Dawkins speculates, might have desired his own betrayal and death, a case the New Testament writers deliberately seek to rebuff by including the Gethsemane scene, in which Jesus is clearly panicking at the prospect of his impending execution. They also put words into his mouth when he is on the cross to make much the same point. Jesus did not die because he was mad or masochistic, but because the Roman state and its assorted local lackeys and running dogs took fright at his message of love, mercy and justice, as well as at his enormous popularity with the poor, and did away with him to forestall a mass uprising in a highly volatile political situation. Several of Jesus’ close comrades were probably Zealots, members of an anti-imperialist underground movement. Judas’ surname suggests that he may have been one of them, which makes his treachery rather more intelligible: perhaps he sold out his leader in bitter disenchantment, recognising that he was not, after all, the Messiah. Messiahs are not born in poverty; they do not spurn weapons of destruction; and they tend to ride into the national capital in bullet-proof limousines with police outriders, not on a donkey.
Jesus, who pace Dawkins did indeed ‘derive his ethics from the Scriptures’ (he was a devout Jew, not the founder of a fancy new set-up), was a joke of a Messiah. He was a carnivalesque parody of a leader who understood, so it would appear, that any regime not founded on solidarity with frailty and failure is bound to collapse under its own hubris. The symbol of that failure was his crucifixion. In this faith, he was true to the source of life he enigmatically called his Father, who in the guise of the Old Testament God tells the Hebrews that he hates their burnt offerings and that their incense stinks in his nostrils. They will know him for what he is, he reminds them, when they see the hungry being filled with good things and the rich being sent empty away. You are not allowed to make a fetish or graven image of this God, since the only image of him is human flesh and blood. Salvation for Christianity has to do with caring for the sick and welcoming the immigrant, protecting the poor from the violence of the rich. It is not a ‘religious’ affair at all, and demands no special clothing, ritual behaviour or fussiness about diet. (The Catholic prohibition on meat on Fridays is an unscriptural church regulation.)
The Christian faith holds that those who are able to look on the crucifixion and live, to accept that the traumatic truth of human history is a tortured body, might just have a chance of new life – but only by virtue of an unimaginable transformation in our currently dire condition. This is known as the resurrection. Those who don’t see this dreadful image of a mutilated innocent as the truth of history are likely to be devotees of that bright-eyed superstition known as infinite human progress, for which Dawkins is a full-blooded apologist. Or they might be well-intentioned reformers or social democrats, which from a Christian standpoint simply isn’t radical enough.
The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you. Here, then, is your pie in the sky and opium of the people. It was, of course, Marx who coined that last phrase; but Marx, who in the same passage describes religion as the ‘heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions’, was rather more judicious and dialectical in his judgment on it than the lunging, flailing, mispunching Dawkins.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rejecting teaching precludes receiving Communion, US bishops' draft says

Who can be admitted to Holy Communion is one of the issues that the US bishops are asking this autumn, Nancy Frazier O'Brien summarises a paper up for discussion. I understand that it is something our own Bishops are being urged to discuss again.

A Catholic who "knowingly and obstinately" rejects "the defined doctrines of the church" or its "definitive teaching on moral issues" should refrain from receiving Communion, according to a document that will come before the U.S. bishops at their Nov. 13-16 fall general meeting in Baltimore.

The document, "'Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper': On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist," requires the approval of two-thirds of the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for passage.

In an introduction, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, said the draft document was the result of a proposal to the bishops in November 2004 by Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., for a statement on how Catholics should prepare to receive the Eucharist.

"He envisaged this document as applying to Catholic faithful, not just to politicians or those in public life," Bishop Serratelli said. Archbishop Myers' request came after a presidential campaign in which some bishops had criticized the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, and said he and other Catholic politicians who supported abortion should be refused Communion under canon law.

But a footnote to the draft says that it is not intended "to provide specific guidelines" to the provision in canon law that says that Catholics "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin" should not be allowed to receive Communion."

In order to receive holy Communion we must be in communion with God and with the church," the document says. "If we are no longer in a state of grace because of mortal sin, we are seriously obliged to refrain from receiving holy Communion. "Among examples of such sin, the document cites "committing deliberate hatred of others, sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, or physical or verbal abuse toward one's family members or fellow workers, causing grave physical or psychological harm; murder, abortion or euthanasia.

"Other "serious violations of the law of love of God and of neighbor" listed in the draft include swearing a false oath, missing Mass on Sundays or holy days without a serious reason, "acting in serious disobedience against proper authority," sexual activity "outside the bonds of a valid marriage," stealing, slander or involvement with pornography.The document criticized those who "give selective assent to the teachings of the church. "But Catholics who have "honest doubt and confusion" about some church teachings "are welcome to partake of holy Communion, as long as they are prayerfully and honestly striving to understand the truth of what the church professes and are taking appropriate steps to resolve their confusion and doubt," the draft says."If someone who is Catholic were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the church," it adds. "Reception of holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the eucharistic celebration, so he or she should refrain."If a person who "is publicly known to have committed serious sin or to have rejected definitive church teaching and is not yet reconciled with the church" receives Communion, it could be "a cause of scandal for others," giving "further reason" for the person to refrain, the bishops said.

The document says Catholics should get ready to receive Communion through both "remote preparation" -- prayer, Scripture reading, frequent confession and other steps -- and "proximate preparation."The bishops said elements of proximate preparation include maintaining "reverent silence" before Mass begins; refraining from food and drink for an hour before receiving Communion; dressing "in a modest and tasteful manner" at Mass; listening attentively to the Scripture readings and homily; and actively participating in the Mass "with our whole hearts and minds and bodies."The bishops also urged Catholics to make "a reverent bow of the head" before receiving Communion.

"If we perform these simple actions, we will enter more profoundly into the eucharistic celebration, receive the Eucharist more worthily, and thus obtain more fully the grace of communion with the risen Lord Jesus and with one another," the document says.

The draft also includes two appendices explaining church teaching on when non-Catholics can receive Communion in a Catholic church and when Catholics are permitted to take Communion at a non-Catholic service.

"When participating as guests in worship services in other Christian communities, Catholics are encouraged to join the community in the shared responses and in the singing of hymns," the document says. "It would be inappropriate, however, for Catholics to take communion in other Christian communities."The document also reminds Catholics who join in non-Catholic services on a Sunday that "the obligation to participate at a Catholic Mass still remains."ration, receive the Eucharist more worthily, and thus obtain more fully the grace of communion with the risen Lord Jesus and with one another," the document says.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

We have a certain reputation

One of the good things about the life of a parish priest is that one’s faith is constantly built up by quite heroic examples of conversion.
I did a funeral on Friday, and got a lift back in the hearse, one of the undertakers said he was surprised that there were not the “usual smattering of mad people at the back of the Church”. I was a little abashed and asked him what he meant. He said Mary Magdalen was renowned for it amongst the men of his profession in the city. I was angry, I joked it off and when I had time to reflect, I thought that compared with the refined Protestantism of many of the churches of the city of Brighton and Hove there could be some evidence for it, even compared with most of the Catholic Churches in the vicinity.
Most of our people live rather solitary lives, there aren’t that many families. Accommodation is for the most part in tall Victorian houses that have been converted to single bedroom flats.
Solitude does lead to a certain “singularity” of behaviour.
I got a little annoyed with one of our parishioners this morning, who I am rather fond of, let’s call him John.
John has had an extra-ordinary life, he hears voices. John’s fingers are stained brown with nicotine. He can stand in the street for hours just staring, in an almost catatonic state, there are long pause in conversation where he says nothing. He is about forty, almost half of his life John has spent sleeping on the streets, “I loved it Father, I loved the freedom”. I think he had also spent a bit of time in hospital. When he began to get life together he desperately wanted to become a Catholic, eventually he tried for three years to get through an RCIA course in a neighbouring parish, he just couldn’t get himself there each week and when he did, because he is addicted to nicotine, he kept having to go out for a cigarette. About 18 months ago he moved into a hostel in the parish. He comes to Mass on Saturday and Sunday evenings because he just can’t get up earlier, even then he nips out every so often for a quick fag and then comes back in. He has just moved into his own flat, at last, which he wants me to bless.
I am sure John comes to Mass for the love of God, but that doesn’t stop him from begging for £2.50 for some tobacco every time he comes to Mass. So it is normally a fiver week. This morning I rather cruelly told him in front of a group of people that the normal practice was for people to come to Mass and give money rather than the other way round. John waited and told me that he wished he didn’t have to beg, that he was ashamed, he had been doing it for the last eighteen years. I suggested he give up smoking if he couldn’t afford it. “I can’t”, he said. I had to admit neither could I.
So we are back to the fiver a week, but John to save his dignity, told me that he would try and put a fiver through the letterbox, when he gets his “benefit” every week, then I could give it back to him at the weekend. His begging is irritating but at least it means that I can show him some kindness, which is, I suppose what the fiver is actually a token of. Maybe I am fortunate that he honours me by humiliating himself to ask alms from me, because he is quite heroic in his struggle to get life together.

O'Brien urges Muslims to say sorry for 9/11

From Scotland on Sunday
THE leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, has called for Muslims to apologise for the 9/11 and 7/7 bomb attacks, declaring that the public should not have to live "in fear of attack" from believers of the Islamic faith.

In a move that has provoked a storm of outrage, the cardinal claims that, as the Pope apologised for the offence caused last month by his comments on the Islamic faith, so Muslims should now step up and say sorry for the attacks carried out in the name of their faith.

O'Brien said: "There have been no apologies for the shooting of the nun [in Somalia after the Pope made his remarks], let alone for 9/11 or the London bombings. I would like to see some reciprocal moves from the Islamic side. We shouldn't have to live in fear of attack from Muslims."

The cardinal's comments were made in the same interview in which, as was revealed last week, he backed Scottish independence, praising the benefits autonomy could bring. A fuller version of the interview appears in this weekend's Catholic Herald newspaper.

O'Brien expands on his views on the British constitution. He declares that he "would be only too happy to continue to undermine the British State" if it goes on espousing sectarianism in the form of the Act of Settlement - the law which bars Catholics from marrying the heir to the throne.

Last night, the cardinal's views on Islam had stirred up a new controversy, with Muslim leaders furious at the comment. They claimed that as the terrorist attacks were carried out by extremists, mainstream Muslims who had already condemned the actions had nothing to apologise for.

O'Brien's comments came after he was asked which trend in society posed the greater threat in Europe: secularisation of Islamicisation.

He replied: "Secularisation is the greatest threat. Muslims are firm in their faith and in their views. They believe in one God. That is a point of identification; though it can also produce tensions. Muslims coming here are free to build mosques, but Christians in Muslim countries are often oppressed."

He then raised the issue of the Pope's apology, made after he had quoted a 14th-century Christian emperor who had declared the Prophet Muhammad brought the world only evil and inhuman things, and made his comments on no reciprocal apology from Islam for the US attacks or London bombings last year.


O'Brien's comments came after he was asked which trend in society posed the greater threat in Europe: secularisation or Islamicisation.
He replied: "Secularisation is the greatest threat. Muslims are firm in their faith and in their views. They believe in one God. That is a point of identification; though it can also produce tensions. Muslims coming here are free to build mosques, but Christians in Muslim countries are often oppressed."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Speaking of veils

It could be useful in interfaith dialogue;
more pictures at Point Arches

In search of anonymity

An addition to the previous post.

When I was an assistant priest in St Leonards on Sea, there was another priest, who used to welcome penitents at the confessional shake their hands warmly enquire about their health, ask their names, all designed to put them at their ease.
One day a woman came into the the Church wearing a motorcycle helmet with the visor down. The priest stood at the confessional door, greeted her warmly, shook her hand and invited to remove the helmet, she refused saying she wanted to have her right to anonymity preserved.
From then on the priest stayed inside the confessional behind the grill.

I must say when I go to confession I want three things, to be able to confess my sins without interruption, to receive a penance and absolution. Confession is not about counselling, nor even about spiritual direction. It is simply about receiving forgiveness. Sometimes it is about confessing the same old sin over and over again, and receiving the same old forgiveness over and over again.

Same old sinner: same old God, same old sin: same old forgiveness.

There is one thing I want from a confessor, which is that he should make me want to come back and seek God's forgiveness again and again. The thing that puts me off is a long sermon, even if it is encouraging, just want to just confess and go, which is I think, what most penitents want.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Today's visitor

I had a rather disturbed young man come to visit me today; he told me he was possessed. As we spoke, well he spoke, he made himself more and more excited telling me about the voices he was hearing and the fantasies they were causing him to have. I just listened and nodded.

I had thought I shouldn’t let him in but it was raining. About half an hour into our conversation he told me about how he threatening to “cut" a priest who refused to give him money when he had gone to confession. I told him I thought that was a wicked thing to have threatened and I would never give him money in the confessional. Eventually, I couldn’t stop yawning; he was speaking but not really saying anything. The only thing I could think of doing was to get my beads out, he stopped talking and looked at me and seemed about to explode in anger. I thought about what he said about threatening the priest. I suggested we said the Rosary. I’ve started doing that more and more lately, I am no good at making up my own prayers, except, “Have mercy, Lord”. He didn’t know how to say the Rosary, though he was wearing one and had been to a Catholic school. I told him how.
The rhythmical repetition seemed to quieten him. After the third mystery, I told him we would stop and he left quiet as a lamb.

Poor boy, there are lots and lots like him in Brighton, not possessed, though they think they are but often quiet obsessed by evil; drugs and the street lifestyle tend to exacerbate it.

I also think I must get rid of the option of face to face confession or at least put in a grill of some sort, there is a little one so people can confess anonymously but then you can walk beyond it and there is no barrier, just a chair facing mine.
I hear confessions everyday here after the weekday Mass, sometimes it can be a little frightening, I can escape from my side but sometimes, actually not very often I do get very frightened.
Maybe there is no better way for a priest to die than in the confessional, though one wouldn’t want that sin on the hands of a penitent.
I do think that I hear better confessions from people who use the anonymous option. It also helps me to forget what the penitent has said, if I do not see the sinner. Sometimes one has to pray hard for the gift of forgetfulness, not a priestly gift to be despised.

The problem with getting rid of the face-to-face option is it gives a sign of being reactionary and denying people some thing.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Vocations video for the "Nashville Dominicans"

Wouldn't you want to join these sister? Maybe not if you were a chap. Is there something about veils and habits and thriving?

h/t to Me Monk, Me Meander

See their website

The Pope on Modern Culture and Christianity

My summary, for what it is worth is based on this excerpt and his other writings: if we live in a world where my idea of good is different from your idea of good we have cannot communicate effectively, this leads to fragmentation and isolation and to ultimate unhappiness. It is only in God that we have access to ultimate Truth, and that we become truly human and therefore truly happy.
Try and summarise it yourself in COMMENTS, award yourselves points for brevity, or give examples.

In a long speech to participants of the fourth national Convention of the Italian Church, which is taking place in Verona, the pope once again tackled the relationship between modern culture and Christianity, and hence between faith and reason, which was at the heart of his speeches throughout his trip to Germany in September. Benedict XVI today repeated that in modern society, “God is excluded from culture and public life, and faith in Him becomes more difficult, not least because we live in a world that presents itself ever more as our work. It is a world in which, so to say, God no longer appears directly; he appears to have become superfluous and extraneous... In the same way, ethics are brought back to within the borders of relativism and utilitarianism, with the exclusion of any moral principle that is valid and binding.” This type of culture is not only a “deep and profound cut” with Christianity, but “more generally with religious and moral traditions of mankind”. It is unable to establish true dialogue with other cultures, in which the religious dimension is strongly present, and it is unable to respond to the fundamental questions on the meaning and direction of our lives. This is why this culture is marked by profound deficiencies and also by a large, uselessly hidden, need for hope.”
This culture also draws attention to the insufficiency of a “rationale closed in on itself” that refuses transcendence and hence any moral principle valid in itself. Of this culture, “the disciples of Christ recognize and willingly take in the authentic values, like scientific knowledge and technological development, human rights, religious freedom and democracy”. However they “do not ignore or underestimate the dangerous fragility of human nature that threatens the journey of man in all historical contexts. In particular, they do not neglect the interior tensions and contradictions of our time.”
“The human being is not, on the other hand, only reason and intelligence. He carries within himself, inscribed in the deepest part of this being, the need of love, of being loved and of loving in his turn. This is why he asks questions and often becomes confused when faced with the hardships of life, with the evil that exists in the world and that seems to be so strong, and at the same time, so senseless.” So the question returns persistently, whether our life can be a safe space for authentic love and in the ultimate analysis, whether the world is really the work of the wisdom of God. Here, much more than any human reasoning, the moving news of biblical revelation comes to our rescue: the Creator of heaven and earth, the only God who is the source of every creature, loves man personally, loves him passionately and wants to be loved by him in turn.”
Affirming this truth “is indispensable to give the Christian witness concrete and feasible content, assessing how it can be implemented and developed in each of the great fields in which human experience is articulated.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

UK Government “postpones” gay propaganda in Kindergarten after parents object

Conti - investigated
I am worried about civil liberties being eroded, so foregive my returning to this matter again, there does seem to be a cynical manipulation of public opinion through intimidation by the government, the police, the law. I think it should worry us all. Yes it is part of Blair Britain, to fair I suspect it will also be part of Cammeron Britain too.

By Hilary White
LONDON, October 18, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) –“Hello Sailor,” “The Sissy Duckling” and “Daddy's New Roommate” are among the book titles on a recommended government reading list for primary school children to teach them about homosexuality. New government regulations to place them in classrooms have been held back after officials were “inundated” by parent’s objections. Such books have not appeared in our school, nor have I heard of them appearing in other schools, even in Brighton.
The British government’s “anti-discrimination” regulations were to come into effect this month but the UK’s Telegraph reports that Cabinet ministers are “at odds” over the proposals which some warn will lead to reverse discrimination against Christian and other religious groups who hold homosexual acts to be sinful.
Colin Hart, director of The Christian Institute, a group that tracks the growing incidents of anti-Christian legislation and prosecutions, said: "The thought that new regulations could make these books compulsory is outrageous."
The Christian Institute warns that the regulations will make it unlawful for teachers to refuse to use the material in class. A media release from the Institute said, “Most parents would be alarmed to see the gay rights books already recommended by the Government for primary schools.”
Cases in the UK against Christians and others who object to the homosexual political advance, are alarming some rights groups. Colin Hart said his organization is particularly concerned about “the impact of these planned laws on religious liberty and on the school curriculum.”
“We do not want to see school lessons become the focus of litigation by crusading gay rights groups.”
Examples of this kind of anti-Christian harassment abound already in the United Kingdom.
In November 2003, the Anglican Bishop of Chester was investigated by the Cheshire police after he told his local newspaper of research showing that some homosexuals re-orientated to heterosexuality.
In December 2005, family-values campaigner, Lynette Burrows, was investigated by police after she expressed the view on a radio programme that homosexual men may not be suitable for raising children.
In January 2006, Patrick Harvie a Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Green party, asked Strathclyde Police to investigate with the intention to prosecute, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, for defending marriage in a sermon at a church service.
The Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Glasgow, Ronnie Convery, said that the action was a “publicity stunt” and was “not worthy of serious consideration”.
“It does however show once more that there are none so intolerant as the so-called champions of tolerance,” Convery said.
Read about many more “Christianophobic” incidents in the UK:http://www.christian.org.uk/rel_liberties/index.htm

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

St Mark's - A Liturgy Without Hymns

Adoremus Bulletin, which liturgy nerds love, has an interest article by Joseph Swain, St Mark's -- A Liturgy Without Hymns. It follows on from some of last weeks posts
A Catholic Head of Music on Catholic Music

In Venice they have cantors and polyphonic choir, but Sacre Coeur, Paris used to celebrate very elegant litugies with merely a couple of cantors singing French psalmody at the entrance, between the readings, at the offertory and communion, the congregation joined in with the Ordinary (the Gloria, Kyrie, Sanctus & Agnus Dei) and the Alleluia. Some of the most beautiful liturgies here have been funerals with just the Ordinary, Alleluia and a Marian Anthem, often without organ.

I wish I had the courage to ban all hymns, except the sequences which are specifically named in the lectionary.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast of St Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, one of the Sees that Saint Peter founded, he was to Rome in chains and thrown to the lions in the arena.
He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of St John, who was the disciple Jesus the Christ.
Ignatius wrote to the Churches of the cities he passed through, on his way to his death, urging them to be loyal Christ and to be loyal to their Bishops.
He welcomed the thought of being able to die for Christ, "...being ground between the lions teeth, as wheat is ground for the Eucharist."

Bogle on Blair

I have just added Joanna Bogle to the "Interesting Sites" link. She is the type of woman I would like to have dinner with, so if you are in Brighton, Joanna....
In this extract she lays into the Blairs, if only one of our Bishop's was as outspoken in their condemnation of this couple who in their public lives contradict so much that the Catholic Church teaches and demands from its members. I, like the Bishop's, am always afraid of getting into party politics but under the Blair tenure ..... well read Joanna, but their Lordships are grossly irresponsible not to say anything.
Let's not mention the exta-ordinary Aztec re-birthing rituals both took part in a few years ago in South America, or the New Age nonsense that seems to surrond them.

Here is Joanna...
"Email from an American correspondent who - like many across the pond - seems to think that Blair is a man of integrity who "may become a Catholic". For goodness' sake, let's get this right. Of course Blair will officially join the Catholic Church once he ceases to be Prime Minister - he knows perfectly well that it is the only Church with any power. There's no status or useful platform in Anglicanism. As a pro-abortion Catholic (he has a 100 per cent pro-abortion voting record) and a campaigner for the whole "homosexual-rights" agenda (he was chief guest at their debauched show at the Royal Albert Hall to raise cash for a militant gay-rights initiative), he will have massive scope for his new career, while Cherie will amost certainly have a role as some sort of roving ambassador for a revamped "Catholics for a Free Choice" type of organisation. Her big fund-raiser at 10 Downing Street in aid of Planned Parenthood a while back was a success: it ensured a great start to the scheme to distribute coloured and fruit-flavoured condoms (I'm not inventing this) to teenagers under the slogan "Lust for Life.

"Blair has played a major political role in ensuring the collapse of morals in our country. He has led us into an appalling war which will result in the destruction of one of the few countries in the Middle East where there were reasonably strong Christian communities, which may well now disappear. Our Armed Forces are under extreme pressure, our crime rate soars, and Government policies openly promote schemes to smash traditional marriage and family life. Yet deluded Americans still talk about "Tony Blair, man of integrity".....please, please look at what is actually happening, and don't have an image of Britain that is based on 1950s films!"

Monday, October 16, 2006

A New Understanding of Communion????

Fr Sean has an interesting post on the implications of the extension of the Classical Roman Rite, which he found in the Scotsman. Bishop Fellay, the leader of the presently schismatic Society of Saint Pius X, has been talking about an accommodation with the Church similar to what exist in China with the "Patriotic Church", this I find interesting because this could well be a model for reunion with the Orthodox.
He says, "We would be a bit like the Chinese Patriotic Church, in the Church without really being there," he explained. "There could be a relationship between Rome and us, but it would not yet be a juridical relationship."
At the moment the "Patriotic Church" seems to exist in partial communion, its lay members and its priests seem to move freely between this government sponsored Church and the partially tolerated Catholic Church. The Bishops of the Patriotic Church, when named by the state seek approval from Rome, before ordination. Under Pope John Paul II Rome almost always accepted their nomination, under Benedict this has happened less often and those Bishop's ordained without Rome's permission incur automatic excommunication and have not been accepted by the vast majority of the people or the clergy. Cardinal Zen has recently spoken about significant, "85% reconciliation of the Patriotic Church", with the Church.
The problem with the SSPX is that there are more issues than simply the celebration of the ancient Mass, there is the whole matter of the authority of the Second Vatican Council, religious freedom and so forth. SSPX is in schism, though in so many areas at one with the Catholic Church. Except for a lunatic fringe, it earnestly seeks full and visible communion with the successor of Peter. There has been lots of talk in Rome about re-establishing communion and then sorting out these other matters afterwards.
The Orthodox Church is in similar position, though possibly less earnest about full communion. The Great Schism, in the 11th Century, in many ways did little to alter the relationship between the laity and the lower clergy until the nineteenth century and the declaration on infallibility. In many places Catholic priests acted as confessors to Orthodox nuns, lay people received the sacraments from either Catholic or Orthodox priests, the major effect was that on substantial matters of disagreement Rome was no longer the last recourse, though in theory the canons of the Greek Church still have the Pope as the ultimate source of judgement.
There is something radical about the theology of Pope Benedict, he is totally at one with the Traditional of the the Church and like the good scribe is able to bring out from his treasury things both old and new. It seems to me that he is seeking a new understanding of the very nature of communion.
We live in theologically exciting times. It would be glorious if solution to the Patriotic Church, the Lefebrvists and the re-union with the Orthodox could actually be the sorted out substantially this November, remember this November not only do we expect a declaration on the Tridentine Rite but also the visit the Constantinople. Everything I read by our pope, makes me think that he has the subtlety of mind to set in train such a reconcilliation.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Misteri Play d’Elx

The d'Elx Mysteri Play, about the Blessed Virgin's Assumption was performed on Radio 3, on Saturday "they called it Elche", listen.
When the Council of Trent forbade such spectacles in Church, the local citizenry petitioned the Pope for an exemption, and the play has been performed in the Cathedral ever since.
Everything is sung, so it is really a very early opera, all the players are men or boys and sing monody and ployphony in an extra-ordinary open throated way, some of the parts of this play go back to the 13th Century. Look at this site which is translated by machine unfortunately, but is fascinating.

Rosay Crusade: Sermon

An extract from Fr Tim Finegan's sermon at the Rosary Crusade yesterday, there are some interesting comments on a post below that might be of interest to anyone who looks at Hermeneutic of Continuity, where the whole sermon is available.
"I have been told before, and I expect some of you have, that we should not be frightened of change.

No, my dear people, we should not be frightened of change. We must labour unceasingly to bring about change. We must change from being a Church where the confessionals are empty to a Church where the balm of divine mercy is sought and received regularly. We must change from being a Church where the prophetic teaching of Humanae Vitae is glossed over in silence to a Church where the sanctity of life and the truth of Christian marriage are known, recognised and lived. We must change from a Church where the sacred liturgy is reduced to a shabby form of entertainment to a Church where the solemn and reverent conduct of the rites takes us out of ourselves and into the realm of the divine.
And let us pray indeed that our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict will indeed use his supreme apostolic authority to grant that freedom which will inaugurate a genuine renewal of liturgical life in the Church."
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Age no bar to IVF

THE head of the Government's fertility watchdog has declared age should not bar women in their 50s and 60s from having IVF treatment.
Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the retired Anglican Bishop of Oxford, the interrim chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said infertile patients of any age should not be refused treatment purely because they have passed the menopause.
He also suggested HFEA is to cut the number of embryos transferred into the wombs of most IVF patients from two to one to tackle the issue of twin and triplet births.

This just seems to be another example of a liberal protestant's understanding of "Life". There is something fundamentally unnatural about a woman in her late sixties giving birth and something more unnatural about the mother of a ten year old being in her seventies. This is consumerism at its worse.
The Catholic Church opposes strongly the destruction of embryoes (human lives) involved in Invitro Fertilisation.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

British Airways: Veil/Turban Yes but Cross No

from Fox News - A British Airways employee was suspended from work for refusing to remove a necklace bearing a Christian cross, a British newspaper reported Saturday. Nadia Eweida, a check-in worker at Heathrow Airport, told the Daily Mail she was suing the airline for religious discrimination after being sent home for breaching BA's dress code. "British Airways permits Muslims to wear a headscarf, Sikhs to wear a turban and other faiths religious apparel. Only Christians are forbidden to express their faith," Eweida was quoted as saying. British Airways said company policy said employees must wear jewelry, including religious symbols, under their uniforms. "This rule applies for all jewelry and religious symbols on chains and is not specific to the cross," the airline said in a statement. "Other items such as turbans, hijabs and bangles can be worn as it is not practical for staff to conceal them beneath their uniforms." Liberal Democrat lawmaker Vincent Cable, who represents Eweida's home area of Twickenham in west London, said it was "absolutely mind-boggling that Britain's flag-carrying airline could treat its employees in such a disgraceful and petty manner." "Nadia is a devout Christian who was displaying her faith, but in a modest and totally unprovocative manner," he said. "It is absolutely right that other religious minorities be allowed exemption from the dress code, but why can't a Christian be treated in the same way?" Religious symbols and dress have been a hot topic of debate in Britain since former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sparked controversy last week by saying he asks veiled Muslim women to uncover their faces when he meets with them.

Cardinal's odds

Speaking after his first private audience with Pope Benedict XVI, the Cardinal – who, according to Canon Law, must offer his resignation to the Pontiff when he turns 75 – said that he did not know if his time as spiritual leader of Catholics in England and Wales was nearing its end.
He said: “I will offer my resignation when I reach the age of 75 and after that I will wait for the response of the Holy Father. I leave it all in his hands, and I am quite open to whatever decision he makes then.”The Cardinal’s comments may surprise PaddyPower, the bookmakers which was so convinced that he would step down next year that it opened a book entitled “Who will be the next Archbishop of Westminster?”
Some Catholic commentators have even suggested that the Cardinal’s resignation might happen this year, following reports of his ill-health and rumours that Rome was unhappy with the leadership of the Church in England and Wales.

But the Cardinal – reportedly looking well after a busy week in which he had travelled to Russia for an important ecumenical meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II – insisted that relations with the Vatican were better than ever. “The fact of the matter is that they have never been so good,” he said, “and I speak from 30 years experience as a bishop.

Here are the odds:-
7-2 Kevin McDonald (Southwark)
9-2 Alan Hopes (Aux, Westminster)
9-2 Aidan Nichols OP
5-1 Vincent Nichols (Birmingham)
7-1 Michael Fitzgerald
8-1 Patrick Kelly (Liverpool)
8-1 Arthur Roche (Leeds)
10-1 Peter Smith (Cardiff)
12-1 Bernard Longley (Aux, Westminster)
14-1 Michael Evans (East Anglia)
14-1 Timothy Radcliffe OP
16-1 Patrick O'Donoghue (Lancaster)
20-1 John Rawsthorne (Hallam)
25-1 John Crowley (Middlesborough)

“God has made the attainment of our happiness, his glory”

from Pontifications
O the supreme folly of those who resist the divine will! In God’s providence, no one can escape hardship: “Who resisteth his will?” A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life: “Who resisteth him and hath had peace?” The screaming rage of the sick man in his pain, the whining complaints of the poor man in his destitution—what will they avail these people, except increase their unhappiness and bring them no relief? “Little man,” says St. Augustine, “grow up. What are you seeking in your search for happiness? Seek the one good that embraces all others.” Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next.
God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us. His will is that no one should lose his soul, that everyone should save and sanctify his soul: “Not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.” “This is the will of God, your sanctification” God has made the attainment of our happiness, his glory. Since he is by his nature infinite goodness, and since as St. Leo says goodness is diffusive of itself, God has a supreme desire to make us sharers of his goods and of his happiness. If then he sends us suffering in this life, it is for our own good: “All things work together unto good.” Even chastisements come to us, not to crush us, but to make us mend our ways and save our souls: “Let us believe that these scourges of the Lord have happened for our amendment and not for our destruction.”
God surrounds us with his loving care lest we suffer eternal damnation: “O Lord, thou hast crowned us as with a shield of thy good will.” He is most solicitous for our welfare: “The Lord is solicitous for me.” What can God deny us when he has given us his own son? “He that spared not even his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things?” Therefore we should most confidently abandon ourselves to all the dispositions of divine providence, since they are for our own good. In all that happens to us, let us say: “In peace, in the self same I will sleep, and I will rest: Because thou, O Lord, hast singularly settled me in hope”
Let us place ourselves unreservedly in his hands because he will not fail to have care of us: “Casting all your care upon him, for he hath care of you.” Let us keep God in our thoughts and carry out his will, and he will think of us and of our welfare. Our Lord said to St. Catherine of Siena, “Daughter, think of me, and I will always think of you.” Let us often repeat with the Spouse in the Canticle: “My beloved to me, and I to him.”
St Alphonsus Liguori

Four New Saints

Saint Peter's ready for tomorrows canonisations, read their biographies on the Vatican Website (scroll down to October)

Rafael Guízar Valencia (1878-1938)
Filippo Smaldone (1848-1923)
Rosa Venerini (1656-1728)
Theodore Guérin (1798-1856)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Decapitated Syrian-Orthodox priest laid to rest in Mosul

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Fr Paulos Eskandar was laid to rest in Mosul today. The decapitated body of the Syrian-Orthodox priest was found in an eastern district of this Iraqi city yesterday. He was abducted last Monday by an unknown Islamic group which posted a hefty ransom of US$250-350,000, the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported. The group also demanded that signs be posted on his church apologising for the Pope's Regensburg remarks as a pre-condition for negotiations.
AINA also published a letter from an Iraqi priest who fled to Sweden, describing what amounts to a full blown campaign of terror against Christians in Iraq.
Based on accounts from Christians still living in the country, Fr Adris Hanna warns that “Christians are living a terrified life in Mosul and Baghdad. Several priests have been kidnapped, girls are being raped and murdered, and a couple of days ago a fourteen-year-old boy was crucified in the Christian neighbourhood of Albasra.”
Father P. Hanna also reported that he spoke “to a group of nuns who were robbed and treated brutally on their way between Baghdad to Amman in Jordan.”
He ended his letter with a plea: “We must do what we can to stop [the massacre] . . . . We must do something.”

Tridentine Mass 4.00pm this Sunday

Thinking more about the Tridentine Rite: whenever I have encountered it on the continent, rather than being something for the elderly, seems to be filled with young people. We struggle with filling our seminaries, whereas wherever the old rite is celebrated I get the impresssion the problem is building seminaries, or at least ensuring that there are enough places for students. The priests who celebrate this rite, on the continent, and apparently in the US, are not the elderly, but men in their twenties and thirties and even in this country they seem to be the zealous, devout and learned. Far from dying out there seems to be a serious growth in the Tridentine Rite. One could talk about it as a youth movement. Indeed there seems to be a fecundity about it that is lacking in the sterility of "mainstream" liberal European Catholicism.

Cardinals like Ratzinger, Castrillon de Hoyos, Medina Estevez and many others have been happy celebrating the "Old" Rite, even before the setting up the Ecclesia Dei Commission to reconcile Archbishop Lefebvre's followers. So many people have been seriously concerned about how the Mass is celebrated, there were several documents by the late Pope on the celebration of the Mass most of which were ignored by the bishops to a greater or lesser degree. Pope Benedict has always been involved in the Reform of the Reform, in his book "The Spirit of the Liturgy", which is really a manifesto for Reform, he wrote about the importance of priest and people facing east, the ancient direction for Christian prayer (not forbidden by the council), recovering the sense of the sacred, the need for silence, the need for a sense of continuation.

The bishop's have not responded to other forms of encouragement to reform the liturgy. Any liberation of the "Tridentine Rite" would be intended to encourage a groundswell movement to reform the present rite of Mass, with the emphais being placed on the choice of priests, rather than the permission of bishops. This would seem to be a winning course of action, as liberalism by its very nature shows itself as being sterile, as far as practice, catechesis, vocations and even the growth in family are concerned.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tridentine Indult

Cardinal Ratzinger ordaining priests according to the Tridentine Rite

I have to confess I love clerical gossip, not the wicked destructive type than kills reputations and drags everyone into hell. Well what seems to be the subject of rumour and gossip at the moment among clerical circles is the extension of the "indult" to say the Tridentine Mass. Various high ranking ecclesiastics are saying the Pope is going to sign something in November, they might be the same people who had said it was going to be Holy Week, this year, or summer but this has being going ever since Pope Benedict was elected.

I am sure something is going to happen, sometime. What is more certain to happen is that Holy Father going to reply to statements of the Bishops who met for the Synod on the Eucharist last October, and maybe, just maybe, he might choose to extend the "indult" then.

I love Eastern Rites of the Liturgy and love Solemn High Tridentine Mass, the music, the colour, the antiquity of it is glorious; Low Mass however is another matter, it does enshrine the sacredness of silence but to be honest from the congregations point of view it is a bit dull.

I am a supporter of the Tridentine Mass, really because without it the present Mass, is as the Pope say, rootless, "ex nihil".

The Tridentine Mass, parts of which vanish into antiquity, was the liturgy that formed Europe, responsible for so much of its architecture, its painting, its music. I personally think its abandonment contributed greatly to the secularisation of Europe in the 20th century. Whether its limited restoration, for those who want it, will change much, time will tell.
Fr Benjamin Durham FSSP celebrates in the Tridentine Rite here on 3rd Sunday of each month, that this Sunday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Catholic Head of Music on Catholic Music

I thought this was such a good comment and one that I totally agree with, I didn't want anyone to miss it.
There is a very beautiful celebration of Mass by the Pope 20th April 2005, day after his election on the sidebar link to the Vatican Video Archive, a single cantor sings the entrance antiphon, the rest of the proper of the Mass and the Cardinals join in the Ordinary, it is very austere, very prayerful and deeply moving. I also think it is how Mass should be celebrated.

Anonymous said...
I've often wondered why we sing hymns at all at Mass when composers in the past set the five sections of the Ordinary and way back the "Ite missa est' too. Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak are not famous hymn writers though they all wrote Mass settings and motets. The hymns we have serve no purpose than to fill up bits of the Mass when we could have some silence with a whole pile of extra words - don't we have enough to dwell on?! (A bit radical. I suggested this to a friend and she did look a bit shocked.)

Four part strophic hymns are as far as I can see a Lutheran invention and though the Chorales by Bach provide an excellent vehicle for Music students to learn the fundamentals of harmony ( if only the modern hymn writers had studied them....)they aren't exactly Catholic. We don't take passages from the services of other Christian denominations into the Mass, so why take the music?

Also, for example, modern settings of the Gloria in English, tend to turn it into a verse chorus form when again composers in the past set the words without doing this. Surely, if we were supposed to keep repeating the opening as a refrain, then the text would have been passed down to us in that form? There seems to be a free for all with texts that should presumably be treated with the utmost care and devotion.

Plainsong has so many remarkable attributes; passed down a millennia in notated form and definitely before that as an oral tradition, no named composers so no egos involved, woven into the fabric of medieval, renaissance and later polyphony, the melodies worn smooth by the centuries, restricted vocal range making it easy to sing .... and that's before you consider anything to do with its rightness for the liturgy.

I'm very tempted to give a monster rant on the thankless task of being the Head of Music in a Catholic school and what it's like having to play all the grating rubbish, knowing that Catholic Sacred Music is truly the best music created by western man .... but that isn't really the point. (Yes, I did try to do 'proper music,' no it was not particularly welcomed.) A great deal of the music used in schools and parishes doesn't do the job. It isn't devotional, it is very poor quality (that's the music, not how it is played,)and I don't blame people for not singing. Maybe congregations want some silence to pray. If you only go to Mass on Sunday, why would you want to sing some trite Communion hymn when you've got 5/10 precious minutes to say your prayers? Maybe the folks in the pews know instinctively what you are articulating, Father.

Brighton Earl Music Festival

Do look at the website

In the meantime listen to this Francisco Kyrie



Wrapped over the knuckles: kindly

Joee has take me to task over a remark I made on a post I made below "By their fruits ...", “I get annoyed with Catholics and others who come out with the rather meaningless platitude, "Well, we all worship the same God". My answer: Don't be daft of course we don't!”"

Well, I was being provocative and it provoked Joee to produce an excellent riposte, dealing with what the Church says about Muslims and their worship of the One True God. I wasn’t really referring to Islam but just the rather unthinking remark that I am all to often met with when visiting those who drift away from the Church into Buddhism, different forms of Protestantism, Spiritualism and even occasionally Wicca or more often apathy or even and inability to choose between the variety of different options in the religion market place.
I do think that we have to ask the pretty basic question what do we actually mean when we say, “I believe in (one) God”.
If we judge belief by what we say, then it is important to ask quite what we mean, there is a great difference between someone who believes in a God who merely makes a watch sets it in motion and leaves it to run, and the God who is as we Christians belief is concerned about falling sparrows and who has counted the hairs on my head and comes to me each day in Holy Communion.
If we judge belief by what we do, then again I think there is a lot of difference between the concepts of God which my remarks prefaced in the Longeneker article about “fanatical” Christians and Muslims. What we believe, has definite effects in what we do. Hence Athanasius’, “You can tell an Arian by the way he treats the poor”.
In England, the Elizabethan “Poor Laws”, I believe could not have been introduced where there was a sense of the immanence of God, who was revealed in the iconography, sacramental theology and spirituality of a generation before, what had changed was a how God was seen. As soon as God had been made distant, then does he really care how we treat the poor? If we use actions to judge what people believe then we Catholics may well find we have more in common with those who value life, give alms to the poor, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned, care for the sick, value simple human goodness than we had thought.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...