Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Edith Stein in Brighton

If you are in Brighton this Friday night Fr Iain Matthew ODC is speaking on the life and thought of Edith Stein, also known as St Thersa Benedicta of the Cross.
This is an event put on by Fr Paul Turner, for The Vocations Group, that is anyone trying to discern what God wants of them, not necessarily thinking about the priesthood or religious life or marriage.

It takes place in our parish centre next to the Church at 7.30pm, there is Mass at 7pm and Exposition from 6pm, in the Church.

Bring friends!!!

Let your "yes" mean yes...

I found this on the wonderfully curmudgeonly blog Fr Mildew
Have you noticed the increasing use of meaningless Jargon words in church documents produced by various committees and even by Bishops ? Here are a few examples from the Summary of Deanery Clergy Conversations in the process of "Towards a vision for the Diocese" for the Diocese of Southwark. You could even start with the use of the word "Vision" here rather than the clearer word "Plan"
The Word "COMMUNION" is used in varying senses today. Sometimes the documents break into the ~Greek word "Koinonia" (Another dreadful example of Greek instead of English is the word "Mystagogia"...I dont know what this means myself.
"Community is community in Action"
"Koinonia is both vision and process"
"Real Life" Preaching must connect to real life !!
"Empowering" Allowing and empowering the laity. (to do what ??)
"Engaging with" Engaging with young people. (What on earth is that )
"Dimension" "Urban/Rural dimension is a challenge in the diocese.
"Reaching out" ie in Mission, or to People. How do you "reach out" ??
"People on the Edges" ...opportunities for meeting people on the edges and beyond.
"Inclusion or Inclusive" Inclusion is vital for community and mission.
Celebrate diversity and be inclusive.
I hope to include a few more in the next post which will of course give you a fresh dimension
in your faith process. Why not comment and send a few more ?

I can't help feeling that for an organisation that is meant to communicate, the Church above all, is riddled with "in" language, maybe not as much as government, but then governments want to be obscure.

Lost in transit

Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte showed up for his audience Monday with Pope Benedict XVI empty-handed after his luggage got lost between France and Italy. Inside the missing baggage was a gift for the pontiff: a multicolored poncho and a silver object.
Visitors to the pope traditionally present him with gifts, and in return they receive medals of his pontificate and rosaries for members of the delegation.
Paraguayan officials assured the papal staff that as soon as the seven missing suitcases showed up, the gift would be sent over. Only three of the delegation's bags arrived on schedule.
Gifts given to Pope John Paul are in the various Vatican buildings, I spent a very happy week with an Anagoni (is that the right spelling) in the Casa del Clero. Where a poncho will go I am not sure, it is the type of gift you would leave out, hoping someon will steal it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Card. Biffi: Why bomb Catholic Nagasaki?

According to Sandro Magister, Cardinal Biffi questions why the Atom Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

"I had already heard about Nagasaki. I had come across it repeatedly in the 'History manual of the Catholic missions' by Giuseppe Schmidlin, three volumes published in Milan in 1929. Nagasaki had produced the first substantial Catholic community in Japan, in the sixteenth century. In Nagasaki, on February 5, 1597, thirty-six martyrs (six missionary Franciscans, three Japanese Jesuits, and twenty-seven laymen) gave their lives for Christ. They were canonized by Pius IX in 1862. When the persecution was resumed in 1637, no fewer than thirty-five thousand Christians were killed. After this, the young community lived in the catacombs, so to speak, but it was not extinguished. In 1865, Fr. Petitjean discovered this 'clandestine Church', which revealed itself to him after it had verified that he was celibate, devoted to Mary, and obedient to the pope of Rome; thus the sacramental life could be resumed as normal. In 1889, complete religious freedom was proclaimed in Japan, and everything began flourishing again. On June 15, 1891, the diocese of Nagasaki was established canonically, and in 1927 it welcomed as its pastor Bishop Hayasaka, whom Pius XI himself had consecrated as the first Japanese bishop. It is from Schmidlin that we learn that in 1929, of the 94,096 Japanese Catholics, fully 63,698 were in Nagasaki."

Having established this, cardinal Biffi concludes with a disturbing question:

"We can certainly assume that the atomic bombs were not dropped at random. So the question is inevitable: why is it that for the second slaughter, out of all the possibilities, that very city of Japan was chosen where Catholicism, apart from having its most glorious history, was also the most widespread and firmly established?"

Read the whole fascinating article about the attempt to destroy the Church and its extraordinary survival.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Martyrs love letter

CNA).- Bartolome Blanco Marquez is one of the youngest of the group of 498 martyrs beatified yesterday, Sunday, at the Vatican. A committed Catholic, the 22 year-old layman wrote a moving letter to his girlfriend Maruja just hours before his death.
“Your memory will go with me to the tomb, and as long as my heart is beating, it will beat with love for you,” he told Maruja. “God has desired to exalt these earthly affections, ennobling them when we love each other in Him.”
"Therefore, although in my last days God is my light and my longing, this does not keep the memory of the person I most love from accompanying me until the hour of my death,” he wrote in his letter.
His story
Bartolome was born in Pozoblanco on November 25, 1914. orphaned as a child, he was raised by his aunt and uncle and worked as a chair maker. He was an outstanding student at the Salesian school of Pozoblanco and also helped out as a catechist. At the age of 18 he was elected secretary of a youth division of Catholic Action in Pozoblanco.
He was imprisoned in that city on August 18, 1936, when he was on leave from military service. On September 24 he was moved to a prison in Jaen, where he was held with fifteen priests and other laymen. There he was judged, condemned to death and shot on October 2, 1936.
During his trial, Bartolome remained true to his faith and his religious convictions. He did not protest his death sentence and told the court that if he lived he would continue being an active Catholic.
The letters he wrote on the eve of his death to his family and to his girlfriend Maruja show his profound faith.
“May this be my last will: forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness; but indulgence, which I wish to be accompanied by doing them as much good as possible. Therefore, I ask you to avenge me with the vengeance of a Christian: returning much good to those that have tried to do me evil,” he wrote to his relatives.
On the day of his execution he left his cell barefoot, in order to be more conformed to Christ. He kissed his handcuffs, surprising the guards that cuffed him. He refused to be shot from behind. “Whoever dies for Christ should do so facing forward and standing straight. Long live Christ the King!” he shouted as he fell to ground under a shower of bullets.

Ruini: Blog for Christ

ROME, OCT. 28, 2007 ( Benedict XVI's vicar for the Diocese of Rome expressed his hopes that religious men and women increase their use of information technology, and thus take advantage of what he called a new form of apostolate.

Cardianl Camillo Ruini spoke to the religious at the Pontifical Urbanian University during the diocesan gathering of the Union of Major Superiors of Italy, which represents 1,287 communities and 22,000 religious in Rome.

According to the Roman diocesan weekly RomaSette, Cardinal Ruini said: "A priest from Novara told me that the theme of 'Jesus' is very much discussed by youth in blogs. The focus, though, comes from destructive books that are widespread today, and not from Benedict XVI’s book ‘Jesus of Nazareth.'

"What will the idea of Christ be in 10 years if these ideas triumph?"

The true Jesus

The 76-year-old prelate admitted, "I don’t understand the Internet, but especially young religious ought to enter blogs and correct the opinions of the youth, showing them the true Jesus.”

“The teaching emergency is central in Benedict XVI's concerns," the cardinal said. "For him, education in the faith coincides with service to society, because to form someone in the faith means to form the human person.

"Simply giving motivations for living defeats nihilism and gives value to the human person, a value that is based on Christ himself, the fact that God became a man."

The cardinal asserted that an educator’s testimony and content can matter more than pedagogical techniques.

He called for catechists to be creative in finding occasions for promoting Benedict XVI’s book, saying it shows the solidity of faith in the historical Jesus of the Gospels, and bases the identity of the Christian in a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

Cardinal Ruini said that in Catholic schools, "the religious can witness to Christ in all their lessons, in the sciences, in history and even in Italian literature, in an inseparable union of faith and culture. Your creativity ought to find new techniques for the vocational challenge, which ought to develop in step with society."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Martyrdom is a “realistic possibility” for every Christian, says Pope

In speaking about the beatification of 498 Spanish martyrs, Benedict XVI says life can be offered without shedding blood. That can be done in silence, by dedicating oneself to others, being an important witness in our times. The beatification ceremony was celebrated by Cardinal Saraiva Martins.

(AsiaNews) – The beatification of 498 martyrs from the Spanish Civil War and yesterday’s beatification of a Polish nun, Sister Celina Chludzińska Borzęcka, gave Benedict XVI to opportunity to touch upon a central tenet of the faith: martyrdom. Indeed martyrdom is a “realistic possibility” for every believer who lives his or her faith coherently. But in addition to the giving one’s life as a result of an act of violence there is also the “silent” gift in “everyday life” made by those who dedicate themselves to the poor, i.e. those who give an “important witness in the secularised societies of our times.”

The Pope addressed the issue before a crowd of some 50,000 who had gathered in Saint Peter for the recitation of the Angelus, including a large number of Spaniards with unfurled flags who had previously taken part in the beatification ceremony presided in Saint Peter’s Square by Card José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

“The contemporaneous inclusion of such a large number of martyrs to the list of the Blessed,” said the Pope, “shows that the supreme witness of blood is not an exception reserved only to a few individuals, but is a realistic possibility for the entire Christian people. We are in fact talking about men and women who vary in terms of age, vocation and social background but who paid with their life their faithfulness to Christ and the Church. The words by Saint Paul that echo in this Sunday’s liturgy are fitting: “For I am already being poured out like a libation,” ... “and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith (2 Tim, 4: 6-7).”

“The month of October, which is dedicated in particular to the missionary action, thus ends on the luminous witness of the Spanish martyrs,” Benedict XVI stressed. “Their example bears witness to the fact that the Baptism commits Christians to participate with courage to expand the Kingdom of God, going as far as sacrificing their very lives. Not everyone is called to violent martyrdom,” the Pope added. But “there is also a bloodless ‘martyrdom,’ which is no less significant, like that of Celina Chludzińska Borzęcka, wife and mother, widow and nun who was beatified yesterday in Rome. She is the silent and heroic witness of so many Christians who live the Gospel without compromises, performing their duties, generously devoting themselves to serve the poor. Their everyday martyrdom is a very important witness in the secularised societies of our times. It is the peaceful battle of love that every Christian—like Paul—must indefatigably fight.” At the end, “the race to spread the Gospel commits us till death,” said the Pope.

Crash, Crash, Bang, Bang vs Chant

I have just been listening to the Sunday Service, on Radio 4, from Aberystwyth, whilst I was reading through the Blogosphere. There was a rather good sermon by a Canon Bell but it was punctuated by absolutely horrid music, even old classics like Immortal Invisible and Stand up, Stand up for Jesus, were accompanied by crash, crash, bang, bang, with hideous percussion, a slightly out of tune brass instrument.

I felt like one of those snakes that the odd American fundamentalist, charismatic church uses to testify to the text, “You shall pick up deadly serpents in your hands and remain unharmed”. They are left near the loudspeaker, whilst devotees dance, stomp near them, so the poor things are so traumatised, they have forgotten they are snakes, and are danced with by their handlers, who do indeed remain unharmed.
Catholic music is something different, I was reading a brief obituary of Dom Jean Hesbert-Desrocquettes, a monk of Quarr, there were these two sentences:

“He was a musician of genius; but for him the chant was the heart of the life of prayer; it would be a thing of beauty in the measure in which it expressed and nourished prayer, and it would express and nourish prayer in proportion to the loving care given to its execution.
And the same deep spirituality was both expressed and concealed by his utter simplicity; it was expressed especially in his love of 'the brethren, and it is for this, as well as for his influence for and through the chant, that he will be most remembered at Quarr and his loss most regretted.”

It is not just the words that are prayer but the music too, chant leads us into a deeper understanding of the text, that is important, but the sound, the actual melody leads us into prayer. There is a perspective in traditional chant with a vanishing point that draws us beyond ourselves to God. I don't know if one can compare it to the Buddhist chanting of "Ohm", but there seems to be something which unites, the great tradition of Catholic, Orthodox and non-Christian chant.
The crash, crash, bang, bang type of music leads us nowhere, just to ourselves, and indeed it leads us to a spiritual trauma.

I am not sure that Victorian hymns are much better, I admit I do not understand the correlation of chant prayer, I would be grateful for your thoughts on this subject.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Oxford: Franciscans closedown

Times online
OXFORD A University of Oxford college denied yesterday that its decision to close was related to a scathing assessment in a recent university review.

The Times reported yesterday that Greyfriars Hall, one of seven theological colleges at the university, is to close at the end of the academic year. The decision by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars to withdraw from the university comes after a report by Oxford’s former Vice-Chancellor that said Greyfriars was “struggling against the odds”. Brother James Boner, Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Franciscans, denied that the review had any bearing on the closure.

The Franciscan Friars said that the decision to close was made because of a shortage of friars and money. Brother Boner said that the friars had carried out their own review and concluded that they would be unable to continue to invest in Greyfriars.

The Hall’s 34 students will be transferred to Regent’s Park, another religious college. Greyfriars was best known for its annual “bop”, or party, known as the “Monastery of Sound”.

I can't help being unsurprised if indeed Greyfriars is known for its "bop", if the we are true to the Gospel and the Church's teaching we have a little more to offer surely.

Friday, October 26, 2007

15 Year Old offered his life for Pope and Church

(CNA).- In October of 2006, Carlo Acutis was 15 years old and was fading fast from leukemia. A native of Milan, Acutis touched family members and friends with his witness of offering the sufferings of his illness for the Church and the Pope. His testimony of faith, which could lead to his beatification in the coming years, has moved Italy.

“The Eucharist: My Road to Heaven: A Biography of Carlo Acutis” is the title of the book by Nicola Gori, a writer for the L’Osservatore Romano, and published by Ediciones San Pablo.

According to the publishers, Carlo “was a teen of our times, like many others. He tried hard in school, with his friends, [and] he loved computers. At the same time he was a great friend of Jesus Christ, he was a daily communicant and he trusted in the Virgin Mary. Succumbing to leukemia at the age of 15, he offered his life for the Pope and for the Church. Those who have read about his life are moved to profound admiration. The book was born of a desire to tell everyone his simple and incredible human and profoundly Christian story.”

“As a little boy, especially after his First Communion, he never missed his daily appointment with the Holy Mass and the Rosary, followed by a moment of Eucharistic adoration,” recalls his mother, Antonia Acutis.

“With this intense spiritual life, Carlo has fully and generously lived his fifteen years of life, leaving a profound impact on those who knew him. He was an expert with computers, he read books on computer engineering and left everyone in awe, but he put his gift at the service of others and used it to help his friends,” she added.

“His immense generosity made him interested in everyone: the foreigners, the handicapped, children, beggars. To be close to Carlo was to be close to a fountain of fresh water,” his mother said.

Antonia recalls clearly that “shortly before his death, Carlo offered his sufferings for the Pope and the Church. Surely the heroism with which he faced his illness and death has convinced many that he was truly somebody special. When the doctor that was treating him asked him if he was suffering a lot, Carlo answered: ‘There are people who suffer much more than me!”

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter

Today 26th October, Franz Jägerstätter will be beatified in Linz, Austria.
Executed in 1943 for refusing to serve in Hitler’s army, Jägerstätter was once known only to his relatives and neighbors—many of whom considered him mad. Born out of wedlock in 1907 in the tiny village of St. Radegund, his natural father was killed in the Great War. His mother eventually married a farmer named Jägerstätter, who adopted him. A Catholic from birth, Franz didn’t always follow church teaching. Rumor has it that he lived something of a wild life—possibly even fathering an illegitimate child—before reclaiming his faith and marrying.

Read on for a fascinating story

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back from Riga

Riga was fascinating, it is just amazing to think that only in 1991, did it become free.

Not having any Latvian it was a bit difficult to find what had happened to the tiny Catholic Church; the Lutheran Cathedral was simply closed, the Orthodox Cathedral became planetarium, both were re-opened for worship in 1991.

I went to the Orthodox Cathedral for Mass this morning, it has been restored so beautifully, I was enchanted by the music. The priest sang basso profundo and the choir was two woman, nuns I think, absolutely enchanting. The congregation of about 60 were mainly females, with a few young men, when I first dropped abot mid morning on Tuesday, most were younger, lighting candles venerating icons.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I have to be in Riga for a few days, so no posting until Thursday or Friday, and you will have to wait until then to have your comments posted, unless I can find time to get to an internet cafe.

Bishop of Leeds on the Motu Proprio

See Fr Zuhlsdorf for a critical examination of Bishop Roche's rather heavy handed micro-managed rules and regulations for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum.

It is important for those who are not into celebrating or attending the TLM, just to see how a particular bishop interprets a Papal document. It seems very much in keeping with the rather depressed English attitude that stifles mission and so much that is good.

As one of the more significant Westminster contenders and as chairman of ICEL, this statement shows how one of our bishops deals with documents from the Holy Father. To me it seems that this is another example of Cardinal Hume's, "this document does not apply to the Church in England and Wales".

Most of our Bishops have said very little about the document, and have left its interpretation up to individual priests, but Bishop Roche here seems to want to define terms that the text doesn't define, such as quite what a "private Mass" is, what idoneus means, what a coetus is, what stabiliter means. He also seems to want to "refine" what the Holy Father's very intention is in promulgating this document.

What I find most concerning is that he seems to want to take to himself the right of decision making that the Holy Father has very clearly given to individual priests. He has also introduced, that which even some of the odder American bishops have not done, the restriction of forbidding bination, celebrating two Masses in one day without the bishops permission.

On the whole this is a lack lustre document, that contrasts disappointingly with magnanimity of the Pope's own words, I hope that it is not the beginning of a trickle of similar statements by our English and Welsh bishops, especially as it seems highly likely that some retractions might have to be made when the Ecclesia Dei Commission themselves issue some clarifications, which is expected soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rosary and Bench Blessing

Monday to Friday evenings at 7pm and Saturday at 1pm by the Peace Statue on the Promenade my parishioners feed the hungry they have been doing it for almost 20 years, sometimes as few as 10 turn up, especially in the winter, in the summer it can be over 70. For 18 years Ann Roberts did it, she died early this year, so today I went down to say a decade of the Rosary and bless a bench erected in her memory.
Some of the people who we feed are out of shot, they didn't want to photographed, most here are parishioners.

Westminster: Being serious

After all the hilarious silliness over the prospect of my "elevation" the Muniment Room has a serious take on the succession, do read it.
Ttony has been reading the biography of Archbishop Worlock, who seemed to be the likely successor of Cardinal Heenan, had it not been for a determined effort by many people simply stating their hopes for the Church in England and Wales.

If you are a blogger, after reading the Muniment Room have ago at the Meme: If I were the Cardinal Archbishop I would ..., be realistic, remember you are dealing with human beings and having to work with fellow bishops, and you don't have the right to send anyone off to the Penal Monastery of St Alcatraz, nor are you the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, just His frail servant!

Frankly it is a ghastly job, its present, and future incumbent needs our constant prayers.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rules for penitents and priests

Fr Zuhlsdorf's rules for confession

1) ...examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) ...wait our turn in line patiently;
3) ...come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) ...speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) ...state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) ...confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) ...listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) ...confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) ...carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) ...use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) ...never be afraid to say something "embarrassing"... just say it;
12) ...never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) ...never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) ...never confess "tendencies" or "struggles"... just sins;
15) ...never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) ...memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) ...answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) ...ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) ...keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) ...remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

I would also make some rules for the priest hearing confession, it is helpful for a penitent to know a priests mind

  1. Make sure the penitent ends up by wanting to come back again

  2. Try to encourage frequent confession

  3. Remember it is God's forgiveness and mercy that you are giving, not yours

  4. Ask as few questions as possible

  5. Don't sermonise, your remarks should be as brief and few, if what you are to say is going to be remembered. If they aren't remembered it is not worth saying them

  6. Remember the penitent feels very, very vulnerable, and comes to you expecting to meet Christ

  7. Remember the point of confession is giving forgiveness, not advice or even spiritual direction, certainly not therapy

  8. Give the penitent hope, especially if an habitual sin is confessed or the sin is the result of depression and or sloth

  9. Ask for the grace to forget what has been said to you

  10. Pray for, and do penance for, the penitent

  11. Remember you are a worst sinner and have received far more graces and responded less to them than your penitent

  12. Encourage whatever good you find because light always overcomes darkness

  13. Never trivialise a penitent's sins, even if they are the fruit of scrupulosity

  14. Use gentle humour if the penitent is too serious about themselves

  15. If they come to confession frequently remember there will be future occasions to help, God's grace often takes time
  16. Try to show affection in you words

Both Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II encourage frequent confession, monthly confession is recommended to priests and religious by the code of canon law, that would seem to be an "at least" requirement, weekly or fortnightly confession should be regarded as a good for those who want to take the spiritual life seriously.

Both Popes suggest making confession available on Sundays before Mass, and if possible even during Mass. For most people nowadays traditional Saturday afternoon is the worst time possible. Here, I hear confessions after all the weekday Masses, people come seeking God's mercy, being able to give sustains my spiritual life.

Words, words, words or how do you get silence into the liturgy?

The absence of silence in the Mass has always been something that has troubled me. It is so often words, words, words. Artificial silences, I mean the type of thing that I have introduced at various times, recommended by modern liturgists, seem to be periods of waiting, silence filled with distraction rather than something which is prayerful.

At various times I have tried an extended period of time, often a few seconds at various times in the Mass after, “...let us call to mind our sins.” Obviously a brief period for reflection is necessary. I have tried silence in between, “Let us pray,” and the collect, again a very brief period is appropriate, I have tried to get readers to pause for a slightly longer period at the end of the reading, before saying, “This is the word of the Lord”, there is obviously a need to let the words sink in before saying that rather staccato sentence which for me cuts off both the reading and meditation on it. I do the same after the Gospel. During the Bidding Prayers, I try to get the readers merely to read the intention, then stop, I mutter quick silent Gloria Patri then come in with the “Lord in your mercy” or a sung “Te rogamus audi nos” or whatever, that doesn’t seem to be too bad. I avoid Bidding Prayers, except on a Sunday just to reduce the number of words. The offertory prayers I often try to do silently, especially during Lent and Advent, but invariably I forget. I used to have an extended period of silence after Holy Communion but for many people silence after communion really becomes a meditation on the Real Absence rather than an act of Communion, I used wait for the first cough or shuffle before saying the Post Communion, I very soon got the impression that everyone else was waiting too, for me. I became the focus of their wait, not the Lord.

Obviously adopting a prayerful tone of voice and trying to encourage that amongst readers helps, at least in create a sense of prayerfulness but often with readers or even concelebrants ideas of prayerfulness vary, some can just be dull, others put on that irritating primary school teacher voice.

I preach, briefly every day, but I often think not preaching might actually create a more prayerful atmosphere, despite what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says, I might think seriously again about not preaching during Lent and Advent. Preaching can just overlay the Mass with yet more words, yet more ideas, even if it is “good” homily I am not sure that it should be a priest words or ideas that are taken forward to the Eucharist rather the Word of God itself.

The Pope, in 2002 book The Spirit of the Liturgy, he says that silence must be “... a silence with content, not just the absences of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us. Such stillness will be not just a pause, in which a thousand thoughts and desires assault us, but a time of stillness giving us inner peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one thing necessary, which we have forgotten. That is why silence cannot be simply “made” ...”. In my experince people are seeking that silence and stillness in their lives.

"...[I]t must be an integral part of the liturgical event”
His solution is the return to silence in the Eucharistic Prayer, he says (page 215)

"German liturgists have explicitly stated that, of all things, the Eucharistic Prayer, the high point of the Mass, is in crisis. Since the reform of the liturgy, an attempt has been made to meet the crisis by incessantly inventing new Eucharistic Prayers, and in the process we have sunk farther and farther into banality. Multiplying words is no help--that is all too evident. . . .It is no accident that in Jerusalem, from a very early time, parts of the Canon were prayed in silence and that in the West the silent Canon--overlaid in part with meditative singing--became the norm. To dismiss all this as the result of misunderstandings is just too easy. It really is not true that reciting the whole Eucharistic Prayer out loud and without interruptions is a prerequisite for the participation of everyone in this central act of the Mass. . ..

I am not convinced that this is quite what the GIRM expects, though it happens at the London Oratory.I do not want to flout the liturgical laws knowlingly, I think if I experimented with the sotto voce canon there would be letters to the Bishop or at least muttering amongst brother clergy. I know I have experimented with saying the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin, which removes the prayer from immediate comprehension for most, which I had hoped at least gave people a sense that it is a time for “their” communal prayer. I think Latin works well for this, and my congregation at least is happy to accept sung Latin, at most Sunday Masses, at least the Sanctus and Agnus Dei (Missa Simplex) are sung, if people don’t understand, at least they have the sense that they are crying out “Holy” or “have mercy”, just the same as they know the “Alleluia” is a cry of joy even if they can’t give an accurate translation of the Hebrew. At the Sung Sunday Mass, we add the Kyrie, Goria and Creed. However, spoken Latin for many people seems to be so alien that it is an intrusion and a distraction and a piece of priestly imposition.

The Pope goes on to say, “Anyone who has experienced a church united in the silent praying of the Canon will know what a really filled silence is. It is at once a loud and penetrating cry to God and a Spirit-filled act of prayer. Here everyone does pray the Canon together, albeit in a bond with the special task of the priestly ministry."

It seems well worth trying to introduce silence into the Eucharistic Prayer, I was struck by being present at Mass where the priest actually lowered his voice to a whisper for the words of consecration, it seemed to invite intimacy, I have tried to experiment with removing the microphone from the altar and therefore at least not every word is amplified, and some are partly hidden when for example the priest prays when bowing profoundly.
Encouraged by Summorum Pontificum I have been experimenting a bit, not mixing up usages, that would not be what the Pope is about, but at least not speaking the Eucharist in such proclamatory tone as I might have done in the past.
For us who do not say the TLM we are called to learn something from the it, the obvious thing is it silence, stillness and peace, and sense of the Divine Presence.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Norbetine Vocations Blog

A new blog from the Manchester Premonstratensians has been started by the novices. Norbertine Vocations.

Evangelisation through Theophany

"Theophany" means, “showing forth of God”

I had an interesting telephone conversation with an Orthodox friend, we spoke about evangelisation. For Catholics we tend to think about it in terms of RCIA, The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, properly a series of Rites that lead to Baptism, Confirmation and the reception of the Holy Eucharist, in practice most of the “Rites” are omitted and it becomes the name given to the course in adult formation that ends up in reception of sacraments of initiation. In theory it supposed to be a series of preparatory encounters with God preparing the initiate for Enlightenment at Baptism, it is supposed to be the “Rite” itself (albeit with an explanation) that leads the initiate from the world of the paganism to Christ.

My friend was telling me about an article he read in an Orthodox magazine about “Evangelisation through Theophany” in Russia. One of the problems that the Orthodox Church has there is that there are vast remote areas where the Church was extinguished during the communist era, so there are no priests, no churches, no sacraments and little understanding of the Gospel.

The Orthodox answer: hire a train, put on it a half a dozen priests and monks, convert one of the carriages into a chapel.

The process: the train arrives in a village or town, is shunted into a siding, the priests hire a local hall, posters are put up there is a procession through the town with vested priests carrying icons and liturgical banners, they go to the hall, there is a short talk about Orthodoxy, a blessing and distribution of icons or prayer cards, few faith based folk songs, a general invitation to baptism in the train’s chapel. Baptism in the orthodox world means all the sacraments of initiation, even babies are given communion, on the following day prayer books are distributed containing a brief explanation of the creed, baptism is given, the newly baptised are entrust to Christ and His Mother and the train moves on to the next village.

The follow-up: when I asked about it, my friend says, “They are entrust to Christ and His Mother, they do the evangelisation!”

It didn’t quite satisfy my modern western sense of evangelisation, There is a church-barge on the Volga provided by Aid to the Church in Need, which I presume does a similar thing.

I read somewhere, someone saying that the Council of Trent turned a Church from a place of worship into a school room. This Orthodox process seems the complete opposite, obviously even for most Orthodox this is not the ideal, but it is expedient, it is essentially about “Rite”; the procession, the distribution of icons, the rite of initiation itself. It was presumably more or less what happened when St Francis Xavier arrived on his ship, preached, showed pictures of Christ and his mother, distributed images and then proceeded to baptise people by the hundreds, and then moved on.

In the TLM at High Mass the Gospel was sung, not to the people, who had already heard it and responded, that is why they were in the Church, but to the North, the abode, at least of the Latin Rite of the Pagans, for years it wasn’t translated because the act of proclamation was a type of theophany, an act of God revealing himself, being present at his event was saving.
What I find interesting is that this is a different kind of evangelisation, the world of icons and processions, of sung Latin Gospels, of the Rites of Christian Initiation are about encounter with God. In some sense they are an encounter with “being” rather “doing”, like the silent Canon of the old Mass it is an encounter with a God who works in the depth of the soul, who yes, uses human agents but Himself is the real agent of change and of grace.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Westminster: What a hoot!

Image is courtesy of Carpe Canem, not too keen on the red star.

Looking around the blogosphere, I find I have become a "stalking horse", Carpe Canem, who has this picture up, and On the Side of Angels have taken me as their candidate for the Archdiocese of Westminster, I saw a couple of references to me on Holy Smoke. I am a bit dissappointed because I really want Venice!
Can you imagine the flying pigs?

Off the top of my head this is what I would do, this is my manifesto!
  • I would ban concerts in the Cathedral or anything other than worship.
  • Insist every Justice and Peace group in the diocese are anti-abortion and pro-life.
  • Make sure every parish in the diocese has a Holy Hour once a week for the promotion of priestly vocations.
  • I would try to get to know my priests and make their welfare, especially their spiritual welfare, a diocesan priority.
  • Encourage and join in public acts of witness and faith on the streets of the diocese, like the Rosary Crusade, so important we are seen to believe.
  • Insist on priests and religious becoming visible on the streets.
  • Insist that all priests are idoneus in the rubrics of the usus nova and have knowledge of the usus antiquor, even if they choose not to say it.
  • Encourage the orthodox New Movements to come into the diocese.
  • Do all I can to encourage the frequent use of Confession.
  • Insist priests do all they can to encourage daily Mass.
  • Insist the that the Catechism is the basis for all formation in the diocese and that anyone with a leadership role accepts the Catholic faith in its fullness.
  • Make sure Catholic schools, hospital and other institutions are real partners in mission and promoting the Catholic faith, forbid any notion of mere "Catholic ethos" and remove the title "Catholic" from those not able to.
  • Make schools publish figures for Sunday and weekday Mass attendance.
  • Forbid the selling of material in Churches that did not support the magisterium (I want to convert TheTablet, maybe appoint Aidan Nichols as editor in chief).
  • Publish a New Westminster hymnbook and insist on it being used in the diocese, encourage people to sing the Mass rather than just hymns.
  • Insist bishops took responsibility for their own dioceses rather "hide" under the cloak of the Bishop's Conference.
  • Take the formation of men in the diocese a priority (this isn't sexism just men seem to be especially badly formed).
  • Insist on Confirmation and proper Catholic formation before marriage.

Other things I would do is just talk endlessly about Catholicism as mainstream Christianity. I think I would also appoint Damian Thompson to run Eccleston Square, and the media office and put Mulier Fortis and Daphne McCloud in charge of RE in our schools and adult formation. I think I might make sure a couple of the Fathers of the London Oratory had a prominent role on the diocese liturgy and music committes. I would start using the High Altar of the Cathedral for Mass.

Anyone who has been involved in this silliness by mentioning me in conjuction with Westminister can consider themselves tagged for the MEME: "If was the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster I would....".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rosary ban for Beijing Olympics?

The Chinese government reportedly will not allow visitors to bring religious objects such as rosary beads or holy water when they travel to Beijing for the Olympic Games next year.
The report on restrictions did not clearly indicate whether visitors would be allowed to bring Bibles into China. Nor was there any indication whether the host nation would allow Olympic teams to bring chaplains-- a practice that many countries have followed regularly.

Thoughts with the Lune Valley in Brighton

I had a visit from Fr Paul Harrison yesterday, blogging is a bit incestuous. Both of us have a bit of an interest in history. In between having lunch and visiting the Royal Pavillion we talked quite a lot about lay ministry, with the overarching question of are more people involved in Church now than fifty years ago. Both of us have done a bit of research, mine maybe more on the level of anecdote than Fr Paul's, who did a MA on Preston Catholicism.

In Brighton 50 years ago there were thriving organisations. The Church was made up of small groups, I am sitting in my office and around me are old framed photographs of the various sporting groups that used to be in the parish: the parish swimming team, boxing team, football team etc. There were obviously plenty of things for young men. In all of them there is a priest involved, then of course there were four priests in the parish, what these pictures show is the Church's involvement with men, it took them seriously, it knew they were going to be the future priests and fathers of families, mangers of buisnesses, trade unionists. Then ordinations in (or at least) from this parish were a regular thing. There are no records but I am told there was here an extremely thriving SVP group, that used to visit the slum housing and a Legion of Mary that used to go parish visiting, from door to door. There was also the Catholic Evidence Guild, I am not sure if they were actually "of the parish", or simply preached on the promenade, "in the parish" during the summer. In the notice books there are references to The Guild of the Blessed Sacrament, the Scouts, the Agnesians, the Altar Guild, the Union of Catholic Mothers, The Catholic Police Guild, the Catholic Nurses Guild etc etc.
There was great optimism, in this parish in that period a social worker called Mary Garson together with the parish priest set a group of women to care for those in need, from this, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Grace and Compassion, a religious congregation that is thriving in India and parts of Africa.
The Sisters of Grace and Compassion are still in Brighton but of the other organisations none of these exist today, except the SVP, and that seems normal for most parishes. What we have instead are a few small "faith sharing groups" and lay involvement is limited to the finances, Extra-Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and readers, in the past there were none of these, there were altar servers and a very proficient choir that sang chant. The sanctuary ministries have replaced the apsotolic ones.

There has been a huge shift of lay involvement; from lay people very obviously sanctifying the world, directly proclaiming the Word of God and "doing" the works of mercy, to what we have now; most lay ministry being centred on the liturgy and within the Church. In practice there has been a very significant change in Ecclesiology. Some people have said we have clericalised the laity and laicised the clergy, a bit of a harsh statement but certainly the main focus of the laity has been the sanctuary and not the world and possibly the role of priest has changed from being the sanctifier to being the manger.

What has intervened is Vatican II, the Council's main aim of course was to engage with the modern world, its teaching is all about empowering people to evangelise and to proclaim Christ in the world. In Northern Europe at least this has not happened, on the contrary we have shrunk as a Church. Our diocesan seminary for example in 1962/3 doubled in size, now the number of students would still be uncomfortable small even in the old building.

There are obviously good sociological reasons for the decline; women working, the television, the decline of the family, contraception are just a few reason that are put forward. What we in the Church so often try to avoid is to suggest that the problem might be the Church herself. Hans Kung, in one of his early, more orthodox works says, "The Church ceases to be the Church when it preaches the Church", yet for 50 years it strikes me that that is precisely what we have been doing. We have been obsessed with liturgy, with lay-involvement in parish structures, parish councils, the role of women within the Church, ecumenism, catechesis. All these are important but only of people who are already "churched", and not directly concerned with revealing the face of Christ. Fifty years ago every fifth or sixth entry in our baptism records was a convert, nowadays it is three, four or five a year, in many parishes none. The Evangelisation that many believed that would follow the wonderful documents of the Council just didn't take place.

The Pope in his "The Spirit of the Liturgy" sees the sign of the Church looking inwards at its celebration of the Liturgy as signifying and possibly even causing this sense of introversion. The priest facing the people creates a smug little huddle that looks in on itself. If the image people are presented with day after day, Sunday after Sunday is the priest looking at the people over the altar and most especially prays to God whilst directing his gaze at the congregation, o0ne might be led to suspect that God is to found there rather than elsewhere, beyond and above the immediate community.

I am sure that is one factor, another, which was certainly signified by the change in the Liturgy, is the change in catechesis. In the past, it wasn't so much the Church that catechised, or even the school, but the family. Fr Paul told me about some Traveller families he had prepared for First Holy Communion, and how well they knew the old catechism. Mother or Grand-Mother had simply passed on the faith they themselves had been given, but most families have lost confidence in simply doing that. The liturgy changed and catechetical emphasis changed, and parents , I think, lost confidence in passing on their faith. In the non-literate, self reliant culture of Traveller families that didn't happen so much. When I was first ordained, the question, "Do we still believe in ....?", was applied to the Real Presence, Purgatory, Hell, Eternal Life, Papal Infallibility, the Catholic Church, Confession, the Divinity of Christ, the Virginity of Mary, well practically every aspect of Catholic life.

One of the things the Pope has been urging us all to do, is the rediscover the riches of the Vatican Council, get to the texts rather than its accursed "Spirit". I am concinced that one off the purposes of the recent Motu Proprio, was just the reconcilliation of the Lefebvrists but the reconcilliation of today's church with its past, reconcilliation with our history and most especially with our theology, look again at Archbishop Ranjith's reported recent comment.

(added later)
The most important thing for lay people is to live out their baptism, loving God and their neighbour. Pre-Concilliar theology would lay great stress on the obligation to "save one's soul", by receiving the sacraments worthily, and therefore acting as a leaven within society. If you were married then the obligation was extended to ensuring the salvation of one's children, hence all that pre-concilliar school building and education.
Any collection of pre-Concilliar parish sermons certainly do not speak a great deal about sex, as I was told in the seminary, society was too delicate, Fr Paul sad the closest to it was "keeping bad company". Being honest, doing a fair days work for a fair days pay seems to be much more to the point, coming to the aid of one's neighbour seems to be very prevalent, which might account for the high number of Catholic doctors and nurses and the other Catholic professions.
The motif of the Second Vatican Council was the Church's engagement with modern world, it wasn't something new, certainly in England and presumably elsewhere it was of tremendous importance in the pre-Concilliar Church. What is pretty obvious is that it did not come to birth in the Council Hall but was alredy up and running, since the Council it seems to have fallen flat on its face.
In our diocese there was a plann to build a Church every mile in the city, and in the countryside a Church every five miles, now the future is bleak and we are closing or amalgamating Churches wherever we can.
The problem is not just a lack of vocations to the priesthood and religious life but a lack of vocations to teaching and even marriage.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Met quizz priest over "hate crime"

The Dail Mail reports another instance of the Metropolitan Police using coercive tactics to curb freedom of speech.

A priest has been interviewed by police on suspicion of inciting racial hatred for expressing his Christian views in his parish newsletter.
Father John Hayes, 71, was quizzed for more than an hour after commenting on the case of a Muslim girl who went to court over her wish to wear a full veil in class.
A sergeant and community support officer turned up without warning at his presbytery after an allegation was made to a Scotland Yard 'hate crimes' unit.
The inquisition in Hornchurch, East London, prompted a furious row about policing priorities. In the past 12 months there have been five murders, 33 rapes, 424 robberies and 2,267 burglaries in the local police borough of Havering.
Yet, despite being accused of turning a blind eye to the inflammatory remarks of some Muslim preachers of hate, the Met still found time to quiz Fr Hayes.

Angelus: 10 Lepers

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel of this Sunday presents Jesus curing ten lepers, of whom only one, a Samaritan and thus a stranger, returns to thank him (cf Lk 17:11-19). To him the Lord says: "Stand up and go; your faith has healed you!" (Lk 17:19). This page of the Gospels invites us to a double reflection. Above all it makes us think about two kinds of healing: one, a more superficial kind, regarding the body; the other, more profound, takes place inside a person, that which the Bible calls the "heart," and goes forth from it to all of oneself. The complete and radical healing is "salvation." The same common language, distinguishing between "health" and "salvation," helps us to understand is more than just health: it is, in fact, a new life, full, definitive. Here Jesus, like in other circumstances, pronounces the expression: "Your faith has saved you." It is faith that saves man, restoring him in his profound relationship with God, with himself and with others; and this faith is expressed in recognition. One who, like the healed Samaritan, knows to be grateful, demonstrates it not as something which he must, but as a gift that, as when ones comes across men or nature, comes ultimately from God. Faith brings then the opening of oneself to the grace of the Lord; recognizing that everything is a gift, everything is a grace. This treasure is borne out in one small word: "grazie" ["thank you!"]!

Jesus heals ten sick men of leprosy, an illness then considered an "impure contagion" that required a ritual purification (cf Lk 14:1-37). In truth, the leprosy that really plagues man and society is sin; the pride and selfishness that produce indifference, hate and violence in the human soul. This leprosy of the soul, that disfigures the face of humanity, can be cured by no one if not God, who is Love. Opening the heart to God, the person who turns himself around becomes healed internally of evil.

"Repent and believe in the Gospel" (cf Mk 1:15). Jesus gives an introduction to his public life with this invitation, one that continues to resound in the Church, much as the Most Holy Virgin in her apparitions especially in recent times has always renewed this appeal. Today, we think in particular of Fatima where, 90 years ago now, from 13 May to 13 October 1917, the Virgin appeared to the three little shepherds: Lucia, Jacinta and Francesco. Thanks to the links of radio and television, I'd like to render myself spiritually present in that Marian sanctuary, where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, presided in my name over the closing celebrations of this very significant anniversary. I greet him, the other cardinals and bishops present, the priests who work at the shrine and the pilgrims who've come from every part of the world for the occasion. To the Madonna let us ask for all Christians the gift of true conversion, that they might proclaim and witness with coherence and fidelity the constant message of the Gospel that shows to all humanity the way of authentic peace.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stop Child Executions

I was ask to join this organisation through Facebook, check it out!

Description: Visit:

According to the United Nations, a child is a person under the age of 18. Despite the fact that the government of Iran has signed International Covenants that forbid them to execute anyone who has allegedly committed an offence before the age of 18, they continue to do so. Amnesty International has documented 21 executions of child offenders in Iran since 1990. In many cases, these minors have been imprisoned until the age of 18 and then executed. Currently, there are more than 70 minors on death row in Iran.

Stop Child Executions Campaign is created to raise awareness about this issue, and more importantly to put an end to one of the most heinous manifestations of the death penalty -- its use against children. It is only through pressure on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, both internally in Iran and internationally that we can make a difference. Over the years we have witnessed child offenders being saved and even released from prison through international pressure as seen in the cases of Nazanin Fatehi and Afsaneh Norouzi.

In order not to have to save one life at a time, please sign the petition and join our campaign to STOP CHILD EXECUTIONS once and for all.

~Nazanin Afshin-jam

List of Iranian child offenders on death row:

List of child offenders on death row in other countries:

Executed child offenders:

How you can help:

Pope pleads for kidnapped priests

Pope Benedict XVI has called on the kidnappers of two priests abducted in Iraq to "quickly" free the two priests.
"I call on the abductors to rapidly liberate the two clerics and I reiterate that violence does not resolve the tensions," the Pope said during his traditional Sunday Angelus with pilgrims and tourists at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
The Pontiff urged the abductors to "quickly let the religious men go."
The Pope said the kidnapping of the two priests in the archdiocese of Mosul while attending a funeral on Saturday "rattles the consciences of all those for whom the good of the country and peace in the region is held dear," BBC News reported.
The Pontiff said he learned today that two priests from Mosul were kidnapped and threatened with death.
Reports say the priests were kidnapped by gunmen who dragged them out of their car and took them to an unidentified location, the BBC News added.
Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, head of the Syrian Catholic Church in Mosul, admitted to reporters he had delayed publicizing the incident as he hoped the kidnappers would demand a ransom and release the priests.
Casmoussa, who was kidnapped in 2005 but was released a day later without ransom after the kidnappers realized his identity, said he have not been heard from the abductors, BBC News added.
In Aug. 15, 2006, a Chaldean priest was kidnapped by three masked gunmen in Baghdad. reported the abduction of Father Saad Sirop Hanna, 34, sent shock waves through the Christian community in Iraq.
Again say a prayer!

Dawkins at Oxford Oratory

I read with pleasure in the Cathoplic Herald that Prof. Richard Dawkins aauthor of the Gopd Delusion has been attending Mass at various Oxford Churches including St Aloysius, the Oxford Oratory.

No-one knows his reasons, if could be research for another attack on Christianity or maybe God is actually at work.

Say a prayer for the Professor.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I do not normally attack brother priests, but...

That anti-Catholic film, Elizabeth: the Golden Age is apparently out in the US, according to the National Catholic Register it is worst than I had first thought, this is the second of a series, the first was apparently pretty bad, this exceeds it.

What I find amazing is the Mgr Mark Langham, the Administrator of Westminster Cathedral exalted with joy when it was filmed in the Cathedral, see his blog, since then there has been no apology, no sign of regret, not even a suggestion of "I might have made a mistake". I know you will remember that Mgr Langham was also responsible for the use of the Cathedral for the 99 Names of Allah concert, and also for the launch of Archer's book the Gospel of Judas, these two certainly did little good to the Church in this country, the film however damages the Church thoughout the world. It also does a disservice to truth, which should be improtant to us Catholics.

The use of the English Mother Church, would suggest that the Cardinal and hierarchy were actually supportive of the film's message, I really can't believe that Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor would have been in agreement with the filming of such an anti-Catholic piece of propaganda in his own Cathedral but I can accept that he was not properly briefed: who should have briefed him, surely Mgr Langham.

I can accept that Mgr Langham made a mistake, I find it quite unacceptable that he refuses to acknowledge it. This type of arrogance does the Church in this country no good whatsoever.
When the news broke about this film in the English Catholic blogosphere, so many people said they had sent a comment to Mgr's blog, I did, but only two appeared, one condemnatory and the other was this:

peter sheppard & neil said...
I think Msgr Lanfham has pretty well getting this film, he deserves our support and should be congratulated
I think Peter Sheppard, or Shepard, is the deputy chair of the Friends of the Cathedral! I guess it must have been the only positive comment he received.

The stir this film will make worldwide might have some inpact on the choice of the Cardinal's successor, it certainly does the present incumbent no positive service, except to indicate a problem at the very heart of his diocese and under his very nose, one his successor, I hope, will speedily resolve.

Friday, October 12, 2007

No God

I have just been talking to our one of teachers, and she told me about another Catholic teacher who was helping out at another of our city's schools. she mentioned "God" to a little girl who stuck her fingers in her ears and said, "You can't say that word to me, I don't believe in Him". Apparently when they sang songs which mentioned God for some reason half the children refused to even mouth the word.

The City of Brighton and Hove is a pretty atheistic place, the "Gay Community" don't want God in their bedrooms, the two universities seem to take an agnostic and often Marxist stance on most things. I just wonder where these children get this from.

Same God?

The letter of the Islamic scholars is certainly a step forward, but I am a little concerned about the idea that we worship the same God. It is too easy a phrase, one that trips off the lips of modern man. Certainly Muslims and Christian worship one, omnipotent, eternal God, the source and origin of all things.


We Christians worship a God who is so great that he contradicts what we perceive as His own nature. The God who is outside of time and space through the womb of the Virgin Mary steps into time space. This is beyond the Muslim concept of God, for them God cannot humble himself. His involvement with mankind is only through an intermediary, a prophet. Though he might know all about mankind, and indeed every man, he cannot share the experiences of Man. In Jesus we see God as sharing all that man is, his birth and death, even his descent into Hell. For the Jews this was a stumbling block for the Greeks it was folly, but for Christians it is Salvation.

Even when we Christians speak about worshipping the same God I get a bit uneasy, there is always a tendency, certainly amongst Protestants to broaden the gap between God and man. Grace, for them, is something that is irresistible, therefore man's co-operation is unnecessary, hence the downplay of Mary's fiat. God "needed" her co-operation, and does "need" ours for our salvation.

The Reformers of the 16th century did everything they could to deny the efficacy of the sacraments, the continued involvement of God in the Church and in human history. They wanted to distance God from man. I find it incredibly significant that the draconian Poor Laws came into England, whipping the poor from parish to parish, on the rump of the reformation, as of course did deepening illiteracy, a greater gulf between the peasantry and the aristocracy; think of Luther's war against the peasants, and the unemployment and consequent starvation that followed the Reformation.

Ranjith: TLM an antidote?

Fr Z has this from Archbishop Ranjith, the Secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship from a talk given in English then translated into Dutch, then retranslated into English.

“The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on the Latin Liturgy of July 7th 2007 is the fruit of a deep reflection by our Pope on the mission of the Church. It is not up to us, who wear ecclesiastical purple and red, to draw this into question, to be disobedient and make the motu proprio void by our own little, tittle rules. Even not if they were made by a bishops conference. Even bishops do not have this right. What the Holy Fathers says, has to be obeyed in the Church. If we do not follow this principle, we will allow ourselves to be used as instruments of the devil, and nobody else. This will lead to discord in the Church, and slows down her mission. We do not have the time to waste on this. Else we behave like emperor Nero, fiddling on his violin while Rome was burning. The churches are emptying, there are no vocations, the seminaries are empty. Priests become older and older, and young priests are scarce.”

What I find interesting is that he, and in someway the Pope, see the return to the older form of Mass as a antidote to emptying churches and seminaries.

The Mass and how we celebrate it is obviously the public face of the Church, the implication here is that the Traditional Mass is superior to the modern rite. I think the Archbishop would have difficulty convincing most of my people.

I would certainly agree with him on certain issues:

  1. We need to re-orientate the Mass: priest and people should all face the same direction. The Church needs to learn to see itself itself as "turned to the Lord".

  2. We need to recapture the idea of sacred silence. The Pope in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" suggested a return to the silent canon (or Eucharistic Prayer). That would certainly suggest that prayer is central to the Christian life and that Mass, and therefore the Church was about worship rather simply teaching.

  3. The wider use of Latin and Gregorian Chant too would underline that the Church is universal.

  4. Regaining the idea of the intercession of the saints and angels, would give a renewed sense of the sacredness of the Church and its communion with the saints.

  5. The restoration of the Traditional Mass is reconnection with our history and theology, really with Catholic culture of the last 2000 years.

But... well I am still not entirely convinced, I love High Mass, but there is something cold about Low Mass, fine to whisper the liturgy when there is a Church full of priests all saying their own Mass at there own altar. But in a parish.......?

Summorum Pontificum, I am sure is the Pope's most important work, he has gambled an awful lot on it, so many bishops throughout the world are trying to "restrict the de-restriction", he has created a grassroots movement amongst younger priests, and it is only time, and the death of older generation of older bishops and priests, that is going show whether it is going to be fruitful.

In a way he has shoved his pastoral staff into liturgical experimentation by saying in effect, if you are with the Church then look at what has been passed onto us in Catholic worship, the way forward is not endless novelty but an enrichment and deepening of our spiritual lives, it is seeking the face of Christ, not increasing the entertainment value of celebrations!

Islamic scholars send open letter to Pope Benedict

More than 130 Muslim scholars have written to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths. Entitled A Common Word Between Us and You, the historic letter compares passages in the Koran and the Bible, concluding that both emphasise "the primacy of total love and devotion to God", and the love of the neighbour.

The message, which coincides with Eid celebrations marking the end of Ramadan says world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians. It identifies the principles of accepting only one god and living in peace with one's neighbours as common ground between the two religions.

It was also sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, the Orthodox Church's Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and other Orthodox Patriarchs.

With Muslims and Christians making up more than half the world's population, the letter goes on, the relationship between the two religious communities is "the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world".

"As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes," the letter says.

It adds: "To those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."

One of the signatories, Dr Aref Ali Nayed, a senior adviser at the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme at Cambridge University, told the BBC that the document should be seen as a landmark.

"There are Sunnis, Shias, Ibadis and even the... Ismailian and Jaafari schools, so it's a consensus," he said.

Professor David Ford, director of the programme, said the letter was unprecedented. "If sufficient people and groups heed this statement and act on it then the atmosphere will be changed into one in which violent extremists cannot flourish," he said in a statement.

The letter was signed by prominent Muslim leaders, politicians and academics, including the Grand Muftis of Bosnia and Hercegovina, Russia, Croatia, Kosovo and Syria, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the former Grand Mufti of Egypt and the founder of the Ulema Organisation in Iraq. To read the full letter see:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

If I were to be a Bishop...

...I would be like this, no wet liberal me...

...I wonder why I haven't been chosen, ...yet.

Thanks to Roman Catholic Vocations

who also has this video, which is an interview with Bishop Burbridge, the Bishops in the States who has the most seminarians in the States, I wish Bishops and Vocation Directors in the UK would check out what he does.

Have a look at the site, it has another video of JP II speaking about his own vocation and new statistics for vocations throughout the world.

If you are thinking about vocations this is a splendid site, full of hope and vision.

I had a visit from a couple of splendid young men yesterday.Say a prayer for Michael who is about to begin "a year of discernment" at one of our English monasteries and Gerrard who is one of our diocesan seminarians who is doing a years "pastoral placement". I was very impressed when I asked one of them "What do you want", and got the answer, "I want Christ, nothing less."

Just a thought on pastoral placements by seminarians: why is it some seminaries send people for a whole year, others for a term, and others like the English College for a couple of weeks at the end of summer holiday? To me it seems a bit strange, especially as most seminarians are closely involved in their parishes before going to the seminary and during their time there. Spending a whole year in a parish when one is not a priest but with all one's heart wants to be, I think would be quite frustrating. Vocations are fragile, being in the wrong parish could be soul destroying. I haven't got the statistics but lots of young men seem to leave during such a year.

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...