Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whole Truth

I am very taken by the idea of antichrist, it appears in today's first reading.

1 Jn 2:18-21
Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us.
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

I quoted Cardinal Biffi recently, he suggests the antichrist is likely to be a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist. Dietrich Bonhoffer, the protestant theologian killed by the Nazis because of his involvement in the plot to kill Hitler, speaks about "cheap" or easy grace, I think it is the same thing, the ethical message of Christ without the Cross, or the embarassment of the person of Christ. St John identifies antichrists as those who reject part of the Truth, it is always a temptation for "good" reasons to tailor the Gospel to our audience, or our preferences. Being a Catholic and passing on the Faith in its entirety should guard against this.

Fr DiNoia -reported by CNS- highlights some of the contemporary temptations.

If the church wants to reach young people today, it must avoid the temptation to "fudge" on core Catholic beliefs in an effort to make them more agreeable to contemporary tastes, a Vatican official said.

Instead, it should confront with courage the major barriers in modern evangelization, including cultural resistance to the proclamation of Christ as the unique savior, said Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"No one in his or her right mind will be interested in a faith about which its exponents seem too embarrassed to communicate forthrightly," Father DiNoia said.

"We have to be convinced that the fullness of the truth and beauty of the message about Jesus Christ is powerfully attractive when it is communicated without apologies or compromise," he said.

Father DiNoia made the remarks in the Carl J. Peter lecture delivered Dec. 7 at Rome's Pontifical North American College. His speech took its theme from Pope Benedict XVI's talk to U.S. bishops last April, when the pope said they could best help people meet God by "clearing away some of the barriers to such an encounter."

Father DiNoia said these barriers are in part intellectual, and can be remedied by robust preaching and teaching that responds to the younger generation's openness to discussion and debate.

"In our conversations with young people, we have to avoid the temptation to fudge -- to adapt the Catholic faith so as to make it palatable to modern tastes and expectations," Father DiNoia said.

"This so-called 'accommodationist' approach generally fails, and it fails doubly with young people. There is a risk in this approach that the Christian message becomes indistinguishable from everything else on offer in the market stalls of secularized religious faith," he said.

Father DiNoia examined what he said were the three biggest obstacles to evangelizing young people today. The first, he said, is "the notion that it is arrogant to claim that Jesus Christ is the unique mediator of salvation."

He said that in confronting this barrier the church needs to first make clear that faith in Christ's uniqueness does not devalue other religions, which are worthy of respect and study as "monuments to the search for God."

But what makes Christianity different is that it is principally about "God's search for us" and God's desire to give human beings a share in divine life, he said.

"Given that salvation in the Christian sense of the term involves both reconciliation of sinners and the elevation of creaturely persons to a new kind of life, it cannot come from within this world. Saviors are a dime a dozen when one fails to grasp what's really at stake. We need to be delivered not just from error, or suffering, or desire, or injustice, or poverty," he said.

"God desires nothing less than to share his life with us," he said. Only Jesus Christ could accomplish that, he said, and Christians need to affirm that in bringing salvation for them and for others, Jesus is "not just any savior."

Father DiNoia identified a second barrier to the evangelization of young people in the mistaken and predominant belief that being a Christian means giving up one's freedom and replacing it with conformity to an external set of rules.

It is true that Christian faith requires conformity to Christ, he said. But this is not a "slavish conformity"; it presupposes the full realization of the unique human person, not his suppression, he said.

The third major barrier, Father DiNoia said, is the idea that the church's moral teachings are more or less arbitrary, allowing or forbidding certain things regardless of their real relationship with human goodness.

Young people need to know that the church rejects this "culture of legalism" in theology, and that Catholic teachings are aimed primarily at fostering virtue, not instilling obedience. Like an athlete's exercise and diet regime, which prepares him for a good performance, the church's moral teachings are designed to lead the person to goodness and happiness, he said.

Get an Indulgence HERE

Above there is a nice Te Deum sung by the FSSP, below the first part of Berlioz, there are some glorious expressions of the faces on the child trebles.

By reciting the Te Deum today, the last day of the year, the normal conditions having been fulfilled, the faithful may obtain a Partial Indulgence.

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.

V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.

V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.

V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.

V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.

O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.

V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.

V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Friars of the Immaculate

I had Fra Silvanus and Father Agnellus come to see me today, they are Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, at the moment they are living in Lewisham in a terraced house, they have to sing the Office sotto voce so as not to disturb the neighbours.

Ideally they are looking for a place to be friars, to celebrate the Divine Office, to live in community, to welcome guests, from which to go out and preach, they want to be within an hour or so of their sisters in Catford. Because of their fourth vow of consecration to Our Lady they would love to have a Church dedicated to Our Lady.

It is always refreshing to meet enthusiastic young religious.

Attack on Pope at Midnight Mass

Anna Arco carries the story of a woman who is a Italian residing in Switzerland where she is in psychiatric care. The woman was apparently motivated by the reports in which the Pope’s Christmas message had been interpreted as a direct attack on homosexuals and transsexuals. She is now in police custody. It is unclear whether she will be returned to Switzerland.

The woman can be seen in the video, I am surprised not to have seen the story erported elsewhere.

Man Stabbed to Death

People had difficulty getting to Mass here this morning, a man was stabbed to death just around the corner from here, so Hampton Pace was cordoned off with dozens of police around.
Pray for the victim, pray for the perpetrator.

Cardinal prepares for retirement

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor who retires later this year was the guest editor on BBC's Today Programme, part of the programme had the Cardinal visit the kitchens of Locatelli's London restaurant to learn how to cook.

I am incredibly fond of him, he ordained me and always showed me a great deal of kindness afterwards. In the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, he is regarded with a lot of affection by the clergy, partly because he cared about us. He enjoyed the company of his priests, wasting time with them, often telling stories against himself.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I am Catholic, that is all

I hate being described as "traditional" or "conservative", I am Catholic, that is all.

I believe God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with my whole being.
I believe in the Creeds of the Church.
I accept all of the twenty-one Ecumenical Councils, and ascent wholeheartedly to their doctrinal teaching.
I firmly believe in the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium of the Church; the extraordinary magisterium expressed in the Infallible teaching of the successors of Peter and ordinary magisterium expressed in the the teachings of the Councils and the Encyclical letters of the Popes, and the bishops of the Church, insofar as I have been given the grace to understand them.

My beliefs are the beliefs of mainstream Christianity, which is commonly called Catholicism.

There is nothing eccentric about my beliefs.

For example:

I do not believe God forgives us only when we have made a radical break with sin, but even when we have just a desire to break from sin, therefore I believe both in regular and frequent confession. God is not merely a God of the saved but of all who humbly seek him. This is a mainstream understand of God.

I find it incredibly difficult to believe in liturgy as being anthropocentric, it is "the work of the people", but it is theocentric and is about re-orientating us towards God. This is the timeless belief of both Eastern and Western Christianity.

I believe that we must make the kerygmatic proclamation of conversion and New Life, that is Salvation through Christ; anything else that detracts from this is deviant.

Though I accept many people have great difficulty with it, I do not believe the teaching on life and procreation found in Humanae Vitae is of marginal importance to society or men and women of today.

Accepting labels such as left or right, liberal or conservative are incredible damaging, we are for Christ, not Apollos or Cephas or Paul. There were always different ways of expressing faith. From the beginning there were Jewish and Gentile expressions of the one faith, later the Alexandrian and Antiochene schools but always one faith. Only one faith. The matrix for it, the Rock on which it was built, was the teaching of the Bishop of Rome. To be of one mind and heart with him is like the man who built his house on rock!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

One Million attend Holy Family Mass in Spain

To celebrate the feast of The Holy Family in La Plaza de Colónan anestimated 1Million people turned out to demonstrate support for the Church as it struggles against the Zappatero governments anti-family policies.

Best Christmas Present

My best Christmas was given to me this morning. A lady came up to me at Mass this morning to thank me for the Soup Run that we run from the parish, Karla and her team were on the seafront even on Christmas day. The lady said she and her boyfriend were sleeping rough, in the open. She said the soup run had been a life line for them.

They were so grateful, she said that when they get sorted out they plan to come back and help.

Say a prayer for them.

Feast of the Holy Family

Today we have a letter from the bishop so I won't be preaching. He raises, as always, some interesting points, he addresses family disfunction, the need of people to belong, the need of the Church to listen and to give people a sense of belonging. These are such an important issues especially in a parish like this which most probably has the highest single person accommodation in the diocese.

Practically all of the housing in my parish consists of tall Georgian or Victorian terraced houses divided up into single person accommodation. We don't really have families. People who live cheek by jowl with others, always conscious of the people on either side, people above, people below, people across the hall, tend to assert their independence. It can be a very lonely experience, it can very easily develope attitudes of isolation in which social skills are easily lost or forgotten.

When we have a parish event the last people who would want to come are those who live on their own, or those who are lonely. They are also the first leave Mass, if they stay behind they bury their faces in their hands and make a deep and profound thanksgiving, alone with their God.

In so many ways the only thing that binds my people together, the only thing they have in common is God and their faith, though even faith is often expressed in radically different ways dependant on age, nationality, language, class, gender, sexual orientation, education, cultural and political outlook, etc. etc. etc.

It is not that people do not care for one another, friendships form but often more slowly than the community changes, at least half of those who come to Mass here will have moved out of the parish within the year.

Over my years here I have come to realise that all I have to offer people is the Fatherhood of God, Communion with Christ and the Sanctification of the Holy Spirit. We are a poor parish, the worst of our poverty is the lack of community. Of course if there was no pastoral letter I would preach on the contraceptive mentality that has shaped the thinking of our town planners and the structure of our society, and our way of thinking about relationships with one another.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Atheist: Christianity gives dignity

The Bones highlights an article by Matthew Paris, in which he as an atheist returns to his childhood home in Africa. There he is impressed by the effect Christianity has on locals, how it it liberates and gives a dignity.

Read the whole article it is worth it.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.
But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Christmas Trees

My mind has gone a bit blank over Christmas, there is something I want write about but I am not sure how to do it tactfully and respectfully.

So instead: Christmas Trees.
Apparently Prince Albert introduced them to England, I am not exactly sure this is true, greenery was always brought into the house at Christmas from pagan times. I have a recollection of Jocobean Catholic households having not just greenery but trees representing the Tree of Life in their homes at Christmas.
The idea of the Tree of Life, a living tree bearing fruit seems to have been around in Germany from the middle ages, decorated at first with citrus fruit later these were substituted with glass balls. I have the feeling the protestant "christingle", a candle shoved into an orange, and the tangerine or orange in the bottom of children's stockings has the same origin, a small bite of Eternal Life.

Friday, December 26, 2008

And they SAW the Child

Christmas sermon notes
“The Angel of the Lord appeared to them and the Glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified,...”
The go to Bethlehem and they see the child,
they tell what they have been told about him
He is the Saviour, Christ the Lord, And they are told the child laying in a manger is a sign for them
Magi will come and see the same thing


A child, a mother, a man, we who are believers know the whole message, for us the curtain is lifted we know the child is God-man, the woman is a virgin, St Joseph is simply the foster. St Matthew and Luke have been at pains to point this out.
They would have seen a family like any other family.
The curtain is drawn apart, we see and they see with eyes of faith.
This is no Christmas Pantomime this is a life changing event
Christians are those who SEE

They are generous to the poor because they see Christ in them - in or city the Churches Catholic and protestant feed the poorest of the poor. Soup Runs run by Christians feed them- we feed them - our parishioners feed the hungry, our sisters started a The St Anne's Day Centre for the homeless, The Clock Tower Centre, a couple of hundred yards away from this Church for the homeless young people was started by and is run by Catholics. Because we see Christ in the poor. The Goverment leaves exiles destitute on the streets, the only organisation to care for them in Brighton is Voices in Exile, they of course operate out of my house, it is run by a Catholic, staffed for the most part by Christians.
Seeing the need to educate the poor has always been Catholic priority. A quarter of all schools in this country are "faith based", over three quarters of those are Catholic, because our forefathers saw the need to change lives by catechising the poor and the ignorant.
Caring organisation like CaFOD, Oxfam, Tearfund were all started by Christians, they saw the need to support those in the third world, and to come to the need of beset by disaster. 10% of the UK population is Catholic, a quarter, maybe less practicing, yet still CaFOD is one of the top UK aid organisations, because we see the need of our brothers and sisters across boarders. I can't see atheists or secularists with the same vision.
Aids: The Catholic Church is the largest provider of carer for those with HIVE/Aids, even in those places in South Africa where Catholics are in a minority and AIDS is more endemic.
Catholics care for Life, we campaign and work against the great evil of abortion and euthanasia because we see the holiness of life from the moment of conception in the womb until death and the tomb.
Caring professions - Practicing Catholics are more likely to be involved in the caring professions, as doctors, nurses, care assistants, because they see in the needs of the sick and elderly.

Hospice Movement was started by Catholic nuns, they saw the vision, others have take it up.

Catholic Marriages more solid, the family that prays together stays together, the children from a solid family are more likely to grow up morally and psychologically healthy.

As with the shepherds and the Magi they saw and their lives were changed, so with you who have come here with faith tonight, you see and your lives are changed, not just yours but the world is changed around you through your faith.

Our faith, our vision changes the world!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Pope Benedict XVI lights a candle from the window of his private apartments at the Vatican for Christmas Eve.


This link to the panoramic view of the crypt of the The Church of the Nativity was sent to me by Hans Nyberg

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pope and Human Ecology

Sky News woke me this morning to ask me to do an interview on what the Pope had said to the members of the Curia. What I read yesterday seemed pretty innocuous, all about his travels this year, I told them to ring me back, after I had chance to re-read it.

"We need something like human ecology, meant in the right way. The Church speaks of human nature as 'man' or 'woman' and asks that this order is respected.
"This is not out-of-date metaphysics. It comes from the faith in the Creator and from listening to the language of creation, despising which would mean self-destruction for humans and therefore a destruction of the work itself of God."

"What is often expressed and signified with the word 'gender' leads to the human auto-emancipation from creation and from the Creator. The human being wants to make himself on his own and to decide always and exclusively by himself about what concerns him.
"But, in so doing, the human being lives against the truth and against the Spirit creator. Rain forests deserve, yes, our protection but the human being - as a creature which contains a message that is not in contradiction with his freedom but is the condition of his freedom - does not deserve it less."

I don't see a problem here, but then I am a Catholic. I think "gender" in Italian has a meaning comparable in England to "gay", with a culture and values of its own.
The is real problem in our contraceptive society, that seems to want to emasculate men, defeminise women and remove the procreative function from human relationships.
Fr Tim has a post on a document produced, I fear, by Catholic Education Service on homosexuality.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Song of the Redeemed

I was struck this morning how amazing the Magnificat is, it is there daily in the Office at Vespers,but today I was struck by this thought.
It is the song of the Immaculate, the Full of Grace, the Proto-Disciple, the Mother of My Lord. Our Lady shows us the soul exulting in Grace. In this song we have the emotions and expectations of the one who lives in intimate union with the Blessed Trinity, who bears God in her womb and heart.
This is the model of our relationship with God, the emotions, the hope, the trust, this what Grace brings, this is song the Church puts into the mouths of the baptised as the light of the day gives way to night's darkness.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Loony Left v Conservative Right

Cardinal Hume said – "it was always easier to deal with the loony Left than the conservative Right. He said they were always nicer people."
It is not useful here to deal with how the late Cardinal failed to deal with loonies.

Is it true?

Let's think about those on the "Left" generally. When I was at school I used to quote Mao's Little Red Book, he was certainly on the left but not very nice at all, then there was Stalin and Trotsky. Mmm! In an earlier age maybe Robspierre and the other French Revolutionaries, not very nice at all. In English history there was Cromwell and those odd groups like the Levellers and the Adamites. Earlier still those very strange Franciscan types who claimed Christ possessed nothing, who then set about dispossessing everyone of everything.

I don't think anyone would consider these to nice, as for the "loonies", well there was my great great ... uncle, somewhat removed uncle who was certainly left, and a loony, but well..., Cobbett maybe, though he was a dreadful manipulator of poor Queen Caroline. Tom Paine, what about his involvement in The Terror?

The trouble with loonies is they seem always disconnected, they leave nothing tangible, their visions always tend to be to smoke and mirrors, the nice one's offered a critique of society but nothing more. They questioned, produced a great deal of heat but did little else.

Maybe I am being unfair, but it strikes me that the "Left" actually has no "big idea". The politics of the "Left" today is arbitrary and controlling, rather than empowering, it robs people of freedoms. It starts with a vision of freedom but soon degrades into imprisonment.

The same with those left leaning theologians of the 1960/70s Schillebeeckx, Kung et al, they have value only in so far as the structures which they tried to overturn existed, when these change they become irrelevant, and for the most part forgotten, they are yesterday's men, they are sterile, impotent. Indeed their vision is generally uniquely personal and becomes a testimony to their own self promotion, they rejoice in being the destructive enfant terrible, who is amusing until he grows out of short trousers. Like the enfant terrible their cry is really, "me me me".

What about the "conservative right"?

I have grown to love them, especially the crabby hardliners. Generally they have come to their conservatism because they have dallied with the left and found it wanting, Joseph Ratzinger used to be considered quite dangerous at one time. They can be unpleasant because they consider they have something to defend that is of value. They complain, they scheme, they plot, they appeal to authority, they write letters, even blogs, because they believe in something. Why are there very few liberal Catholic blogs? They are stubborn and irritating, they are the type of people who are willing to suffer martyrdom (some of them). In the Church they are the people who tend roll up their sleeves and feed the hungry, clothe the naked etc. They hate tedious committee meetings that achieve nothing except create hot air. They are liberated from having to invent the wheel, it has already happened, they just have to defend the continued turning of wheels.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

God Bless Good Bishop O'Donaghue

I had an email from Bishop Patrick O'Donaghue's Office asking me to publicise that the his diocese has withdrawn from Catholic Caring Services, which was the diocesan social care organisation.

For months he has been pleading with them not to capitulate to the Government's legislation on same-sex adoption but to seek an exemption under Human Rights & Religious Freedom Legislation, or failing that, attempt a legal challenge. They have refused, therefore the bishop has declared they are "no longer a Catholic organisation".

The bishop and his coadjutor are going to set up a truly diocesan and Catholic organisation.

See the full text of Bishop O'Donoghue's letter.

When some UK bishops seem to have serious difficulties with, or lack of understanding of, certain aspects of Catholic teaching Bishop O'Donaghue's bravery gives me great joy.

I know that this has not been easy decision for the Bishop, not only do many of his brother bishops find his actions incomprehensible, but the Bishop took over a diocese that had been almost bankrupted by his predecessor who had built up a grossly overpaid and not particularly Catholic diocesan lay staff. Bishop O'Donaghue has had an incredibly difficult time and deserves our prayers.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Caption Contest

For very little bishops!

Cardinal Biffi on the Antichrist

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

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

Say a Prayer

Say a prayer for a South American woman in my parish, for three years she has been in Brighton with her little girl. She is homeless and her and her child move from friend to friend spending a few days here, a few days there. They have lived like this all the time she has been in England. She is terrified that if she is forced to return home she and her child will be killed by her child's father, a drug dealer and a gangster.

Also pray for some of the priests of my diocese who are feeling a little broken and concerned about the future at the moment.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lost and Found and Saved

Here in Brighton a huge number of my people have practical experience of being "lost". Being lost through addiction to drugs, drink, sex, gambling, or being lost in lifestyle that they haven't quite chosen but have drifted into. Many are lost, and will use the term, because of something that has happened to them; abuse as a child or an adult, rape or abortion, being hurt or betrayed by a partner, all seem to drag people into a distant land far from where they would want to be and far from God. "I lost my innocence", "I lost my childhood", "I lost my self respect", I lost a sense of meaning" go along with a loss of dignity or job or family or even hope.

For those who are truly "lost", there is a real sense that they themselves are not going to "find" themselves. There is sense that love or affection might be the source of this "finding". I think that is the reason why many who in their own estimation count themselves "lost" so often find consolation in sex and sexual fantasy, but violations of the 6th Commandment only deepen a sense of being "lost". For those who get involved with a 12 Step Programme and for others too, there is sense that it is "power beyond themselves" alone, that will be source of their finding.

What is it people expect when they are "found"? It is actually about being "saved"; being in a place of safety, secure in a sense of love, a Godly all embracing love. From this comes a situation in which healing takes place, in which people "salved". The need for healing and safety are not terms which are not alien to most of my parishioners. Counselling and therapy have some effect but it is actually the encounter with God through the healing effect of the sacraments, through baptism and confirmation, through weekly or daily Holy Communion and through regular and frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance which brings safety and salving.
If Christ's priests and bishops are not true heralds of Salvation then we are indeed unprofitable servants.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Come All Ye Faithful is Jacobite (possibly)

From the Daily Mail

According to one musical expert, O Come All Ye Faithful, also called Adeste Fideles, is actually a birth ode to Jacobite pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Born on December 20 1720, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the grandson of England's last Catholic monarch, James II.
He was born in exile in Italy and became the focus for Catholic Jacobite rebels intent on restoring the House of Stuart to the English throne.
In 1745, he raised an army to invade the British Isles, taking Edinburgh, but was defeated at the Battle of Culloden on April 16 1746.
Professor Bennett Zon, the head of the department of music at Durham University, unearthed 'clear references' to the Prince in the carol's lyrics, written by 18th century music scribe, John Francis Wade.
'There is far more to this beloved song than meets the eye,' he said.
'Fideles is Faithful Catholic Jacobites. Bethlehem is a common Jacobite cipher for England, and Regem Angelorum is a well-known pun on Angelorum, angels, and Anglorum, English.
'The meaning of the Christmas carol is clear: 'Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels' really means, 'Come and Behold Him, Born the King of the English' - Bonnie Prince Charlie!'
Professor Zon said there were other clues to the subversive political message contained in the carol.
'In its earliest forms, from the 1740s to 70s, Adeste Fideles is often found next to, or physically very near, prayers for the exiled monarch,' he said.
'And in John Francis Wade's books it and other liturgical texts with "hidden" Jacobite meaning are often strewn - even laden - with Jacobite floral imagery. One of the books containing the carol even contains a colourful picture of the exiled monarch, as well as a Jacobite cryptogram in Latin on its title page.
'When deciphered it gives a very clear sense of its Jacobite connections,' Professor Zon said.
The Jacobite meaning of the carol gradually faded as the cause lost its grip on popular consciousness.
'Adeste Fideles seems to have lost its Jacobite meanings not long after Wade's last published book in 1773,' he said.
'The real meaning of the carol, remains, however, although whose birth we choose to celebrate in it remains a matter of personal decision

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Understanding the Genealogy of Jesus

You might find this useful as a commentary on today's Gospel.

God became a Child

There are some beautiful things in the Pope's Catechesis from today's audience.
A.N. “Christians so not celebrate the birth of a great man or the end of a season", but “the pivotal moment in history: the incarnation of the Divine Word for the salvation of humanity”. “The mystery of our salvation is renewed”.

St Paul comes back again and again to this truth in his letter to the Galatians, “God sent his son born of a woman”. Or in his letter to the Romans, “if we are children of God we are also heirs of God….,” but it is above all “St John who meditates on the mystery of the incarnation” and for this in the Christmas liturgy since the earliest of times his “Et Verbum caro factum est…”, the Word was made Flesh, is used.


It is “something so concrete and essential for the faith” a “historic event that Light becomes an essential and concrete part of faith” a “historical event that Light puts into a real context”.... On that “historic night” in Bethlehem, “a really great light was born”: “the creator of the universe became flesh, thus irrevocably uniting himself to humanity”.

“But is it possible? A God who becomes a child? We need to bow our heads and recognise the limits of our intelligence. God became a child to defeat our pride”. He could have demonstrated his power, “but he does not want our surrender”, “he wants to set us truly free, to love Him”. “God came to communicate the truth that saves directly to us” and “make us participants in his life”.

Pelagianism: I hate it

Pelagianism: I hate it, but it is very British. It is really a variant of Arianism which says God did not truly become Man, because Jesus was not truly God.

Pelagianism denies the action of Grace in the world, man is saved by his own goodness and efforts, rather than by God.

It is what we do, rather than what God does that matters, therefore the value of the sacraments is the psychological effect they have in our lives, rather than the direct intervention of God. It denies the power of Grace, of the role of the Blessed Virgin, of miracles, of the power of prayer: Pelagians above all would deny the role of the Holy Spirit, of His act of sanctification. Wherever there is attempt to place man at the heart of the faith, there we should expect to find Pelagianism.

Pelagianism expects Man to be strong rather God's grace to be powerful. Catholicism, or as we could call it, mainstream Christianity, acknowledges mankind is weak and wholly dependant on those things God gives him.

Signs of the Pelagian:

The Church is a human construct, there is nothing or little of Grace about it.

The Liturgy and prayer is about how it makes us feel. Feelings rather than Grace are important.

Revelation is not a given, something given for today and all time, but something of that past that depends on our interpretation.

Ultimately Pelagianism says God is irrelevant to society and to the individual.

Pelagians tend to have a poor view of mankind, what see is what you get, because their is no room for Grace. It is also elitist, insofar as it values a human being by his goodness, his talents, his skills, his willpower.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin is the destroyer Pelagianism, her whole being was about saying yes to Grace, and being the Mather of God she became the source of Grace. Her life shows the effects and power of Grace

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault

A short vocational video on traditional monastic life from the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault, recording "Saint Benedict", "Alleluia Vir Dei Benedictus omni".

h/t Roman Catholic Vocations

Support Grand Duke Henry

(CNA).- A petition drive has been launched to support Grand Duke Henry I of Luxembourg, who has imperiled his political powers by opposing a euthanasia legalization bill recently proposed in his country’s parliament.
Socialist and Green party lawmakers are backing the measure, which Henry I has said he will not approve for reasons of conscience. The overwhelmingly Catholic population of Luxembourg reportedly also opposes the proposal.
The duke’s action has triggered what some have called a "grave constitutional crisis" as the parliament moves to strip the duke of his constitutional power to sanction law.
The Paris-based Fondation de Service Politique has launched a petition drive for people to support the Duke’s resistance to the euthanasia law. It pledges to deliver petitions supporting the Grand Duke through Elizabeth Monfort, a former Minister of the European Parliament.
"With French members of the Parliament Jean-Marc Nesme, Marc Le Fur, Dominique Souchet, Véronique Besse and Bernard Depierre, let’s give our support for the Grand Duke of Luxembourg," the petition page states.
The petition is located here, don't forget to "validate" the email that will come.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Deck the Boughs...

I notice the Pope has his Christmas tree up.
I am not a liturgical rigourist but I always think decorations for Christmas should go up on Christmas Eve, we might start on the Church a few days beforehand, the house always to wait. In reality this has meant as I have often been too tired to do it on Christmas Eve it has had to wait, err, until Boxing Day.
What do normal people do?

Un Papa en la tormenta: Part 3


For Immediate Release

15 December 2008

* LMS Training Conference at Merton College, Oxford for Priests Wishing to Learn the Extraordinary Form of Mass (Traditional Latin Rite), August 2009

The following is a statement from Mr Paul Beardsmore, Secretary of the Latin Mass Society:

1. The LMS Committee has not cancelled the Oxford Training Conference, and Merton College has not indicated to the Society that permission to hold the Conference has been withdrawn.

2. Mr David Lloyd’s views concerning the Oxford Conference held in July 2008 were considered by the LMS Committee three months ago and did not receive the support of the majority of its members.

3. The LMS Committee – including Mr Lloyd – is unanimous in its commitment to the implementation of the Motu Proprio, ‘Summorum Pontificum’, and consequently to the training of clergy to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

4. The leaking to the press of Mr Lloyd’s confidential e mail, and the attempt to link this e mail with the LMS Committee’s recent decision concerning the administrative arrangements for the Conference are mischievous.

Statement ends

It does seem rather clear from this statement that a conference is going ahead this year, probably at Merton, and that cost is an issue.

I think like most events which are organised by a committee details need to be clarified, I don't have too much of a problem understanding that there is a degree of confusion in planning an event that is eight months away. There is a bit of mischief and deliberate stirring afoot.

From other sources I understand "cost", or going over budget rather than "elitism" was actually an issue but not an insurmountable one.

A Sign of Things to Come?

For those who are concerned about how the Church is to move forward in its public worship, eyes are looking towards the new Prefect of the CDW. Rorate Caeli carries this extract from an interview with him. The words of Little Ratzinger mirror exactly the words of Ratzinger Magnus in The Spirit of the Liturgy, and the practice we see at Papal Masses when the Holy Father gives Holy Communion.
In an interview granted this Sunday to Spanish daily La Razón, the new Prefect of Divine Worship, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, had this to say on an important liturgical matter:

[La Razón:] Nevertheless, Benedict XVI has reiterated in some instances the propriety of receiving communion kneeling and in the mouth. Is it something important, or is it a mere matter of form?

[Cañizares:] - No, it is not just a matter of form. What does it mean to receive communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What dies it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, his goodness, and his mercy. That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way; it is not the same to receive communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants.

Is this important?
I think this is tremendously important there is a grave danger of the Pelagianisation of the sacraments and the liturgy, of stripping them of their divine content, of making them merely about "us" rather than an occasion of Grace.
In every area of its being the Church needs to recapture the idea of Grace.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

NLM: Canonists Notes on Summorum Pontificum

I am fascinated by these comments on Summorum Pontificum, I have made my own observations, I would be grateful to any passing Canon Lawyer for any correction. My understanding is Summorum Pontificum is a document designed to revolutionise not only the liturgy but ecclesiology as well. I think it is Pope Benedict's ticking time-bomb.

New Liturgical Movements quotes Liturgisches Jahrbuch is a quarterly edited by the German Liturgical Institute (Deutsches Liturgisches Institut), the centre of German liturgical "officialdom" maintained by the German Bishops' Conference on Summorum Pontificum. It is Prof. Norbert Lüdecke a highly respected Canonist.

1. The bishops may issue "annotations and instructions for the implementation" of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, but they may not add "new mandatory content" (cf. the analysis of the "guidelines" of the German Bishops' Conference by Prof. Georg Muschalek). I think he means they cannot restrict what the Supreme Legislator has made law. The German bishops, and one or two UK bishops issued restrictive interpretations of their own.

2. The "guidelines" of the German Bishops' Conference of 27 September 2007 are not binding upon the individual diocesan bishop. He is saying individual bishops can't hide behind a collective decision.

3. The celebration of the Missa sine populo is, except in the case of insurmountable obstacles, to be allowed "at any legitimate place". "Restrictions of the usus antiquior to certain places or times by particular law are (...) inadmissible." The Extraordinary Form is a legitimate form of the Roman Rite, a priest of the Roman Rite has the right to celebrate it at choice without hindrance.

4. In a Missa sine populo (literally translated: "Mass without people") the faithful may participate sua sponte (i.e. without compulsion). They may also advert other faithful to this Holy Mass. The People of God can't be stopped from attending or informing others of its celebration.

5. For a group, which according to the Motu proprio is a prerequisite for the celebration of a Holy Mass with the people, the number of three persons is sufficient. The diocesan bishop cannot establish a higher minimum number. That is presumable one extra person besides a priest and a server constitutes a Mass "with people". It is the distinction between of Mass with and without people.

6. The parish priest must not discriminate against Masses according to the old use "by keeping them secret or scheduling them at times difficultly accessible". Parish priests have to be open to the TLM

7. "The Pope has not ordered that the parish priest could meet the request of interested faithful. He has mandated that the parish priest must do so"(Lüdecke). MUST!!! I would love some explanation of this, there seems to be the expectation that priests must be able to offer both Forms, remember the older Form was never abrogated.

8. Faithful whose right to Holy Mass in the older use is being denied by the parish priest do not only have the possibility, but the duty to inform the diocesan bishop about this. And bishops have a duty to ensure it is made available, it is almost as if failure to be able to offer it is seen as a "fault" or defficiency on the priests part.

9 "Applications" for the traditional liturgy are "not petitions of grace or favour." "Parish priests as well as diocesan bishops are legally held to meet this request" (Lüdecke). Again a requirement that priests should be able to offer it!

10. The consent of the bishop to a Holy Mass according to the old use instituted by a parish priest according to the desire of faithful is not required. Summorun Pontificum drastically alters the role of the bishop.

11. Laypeople as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and women as altar servers are not allowed in the traditional liturgy. This is actually not explicitly stated anywhere I can see, I would like to see it explicitly stated. In the Novus Ordo ex. mins. and female servers are at the discretion of the priest. Their prohibition in the EF would be good to see in a document somewhere.
My thanks to Gregor Kollmorgen for his translation.

Swimming the Tiber becomes more difficult

From our Rome correspondent

Un Papa en la tormenta (part 2)

Second part of the "bio-pic" of Paul VI. Part 1 here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

...Another Day

Typical day today:

10 am Requiem for Ethel, followed by her cremation12.05am chat with some people hanging around the house - cup of coffee
12.30 office stuff
2.30pm Communion round

4.30pm Meeting with Voices in Exile and the Sheriff or is it High Sheriff of East Sussex, he seemed to care - harrowing stories from the refugees, especially from Zimbabwean women and Dafurian men, who were desperate to be allowed to work.
6.00pm Bit of quiet time and preparation for Extraordinary Form Mass
7.00pm EF Mass, I am really beginning to love it, all that altar kissing and Dominus Vobiscuming, the silence is beautiful, it took 45 minutes, the congregation quadrupled on last weeks.

8.00pm Coffee for a few people who came into the house, realised I hadn't eaten today, did a bit of shopping.

9.00pm Went to parishioners party for the prospective Labour Party candidate, a Ms Nancy Platts, there were no more than 7 LP members there. I told her about a Zimbabwian woman sleeping on the beach, she seemed incredulous, I suggested she came to meet Brighton Voices in Exile, she seemed totally disinterested. She told me she worked in consumer's affairs, told her I thought it was a bit Blair Babish, not so much because of her job but because like most politicians she really did seem inconsequential and lacking any vision, worst lacking in compassion. Didn't think it worth talking about human dignity. Poor, sad, new Labour! Maybe it is cruel to talk about her here, but she is unlikely to get my vote unless I see some sign of either caring or vision. I am sure the lack of vision has something to with lazy atheist fundamentalism, such a characteristic of the left today.

I met a feisty American women, she would make a splendid alternative, who told me Eric Gill was received into the Church here, must check the registers.

12.40am Home, a little blogging to unwind, didn't get home until 1.20 yesterday - must remember to eat tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dignitas Personae

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has released, Dignitas Personae, a new document on bioethics.
Anna Arco has read it and summarises it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Benedictus Qui Venit

picture: Life Magazine
When I take Holy Communion to the sick I always wear a stole under my coat or jacket, as a priest or deacon is supposed to. I hate those piddly little ribbons, I wear a normal stole.
A few weeks ago taking Viaticum to someone, two Anglican clergyman approached me, noticed the stole at my neck, smiled, made the sign of the cross and both knelt side by side on the kerb until I passed, one was saying "Benedictus qui venit in Nomini Domini".

A year or two ago the ends of my stole had fallen out of my pocket and were dangling around my knees, I hadn't noticed but a down and out Glaswegian had, he was selling the Big Issue, he fell to his knees and bent his head. I took communion to the sick person and on my return spoke to the man. He said to me, "Sr Marie Louise she always told us when you see a priest wearing a white thing over his shoulders, he is bringing God to a poor dying person, possibly for the last time, and we are supposed to kneel down, and we are supposed to pray, aren't we Father?" I know for a fact he hasn't been to Mass in 40 years.
Occassionally the spouse or a family member will still greet one at the house door holding a lighted candle, a laudable practice.
Compare and contrast this with the lack of preparation one often finds with the practising sick themselves, who are so often more concerned to give you a cup of tea than to express devotion to their Lord and God.

No matter how much catechesis we might give, it is meaningless if we haven't taught devotion.

Pope on Financial Crisis

AP- Pope Benedict XVI says the global financial crisis is a result of the quest for short-term gains at the expense of the common good.

Benedict examined international economic problems in an annual peace message that linked poverty to world conflicts.

The written message released Thursday says the gap between rich and poor has become more marked, even in the most economically developed countries.

Benedict has been speaking out frequently on the world financial crisis. He said in the message that international finance should sustain long-term investments and development but that finance limited to the short term "becomes very dangerous to everyone, even for those who benefit when the markets perform well."


Words associated with Christianity and British history taken out of children's dictionary

The latest edition of the Oxford University Press Junior Dictionary has removed a number of words connected to Christianity. The lost words include: abbey, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, and vicar.

In a report by the Telegraph, editors have justified the changes by citing declining church attendance and multiculturalism.

The dictionary has also abandoned words related to the natural environment, plants and animals. New words have been inserted into the dictionary based on word frequency. These include: allergic, curriculum, celebrity, and MP3 player.

Vineeta Gupta, who is in charge of children's dictionaries at OUP told the Telegraph: "When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance," Gupta said. "That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don't go to church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as 'Pentecost' or 'Whitsun' would have been in 20 years ago but not now."

Words taken out:

Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe
Dwarf, elf, goblin
Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar
Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade
adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.
Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not a Corporation but a Body, not an Organisation but an Organism

I was talking to one of my parishioners recently, he was trying to persuade me to go along to a Labour Party Christmas bash, the conversation skimmed along, I bemoaned the absence of good Catholics on the left of politics in the UK and the absence of any big idea apart from feminism and gay rights, I said it was the fruit of "Blair Babes". This got him quite excited, he said, "That is the trouble!" He then went on to talk about the new 10 to 7pm culture, the absence of those late night meetings in the bars and tea rooms of the Palace of Westminster where ministers and even Speakers were held to account, even in their absence, at least informally, where schemes and policies were worked out. He blamed the absence of this culture for the loss of much in parliament, for any serious condemnation of the Iraq invasion, of serious evaluation of the recession, etc., etc and especially its loss of sovereignty.

I couldn't help draw parallels with the Church and the loss of those informal clergy gatherings, cards and a bottle or two on a Sunday evening or a long drawn out meal with plenty of anecdotes. As priests become older, tireder, fewer and more stretched these occasions become less and less. Nowadays there are just clerical funerals or more formal meetings where discussion and conversation are limited, even these I find are difficult to get too, I know I should make more of an effort, but these things are less and less fun.

Since the child abuse scandals especially, but also the rise of "health and safety culture" there seems to have been a pretty drastic change in how priests see themselves, and the way in which they relate to their bishop, and I think how bishops tend to see priests. They are no longer seen as trusted brothers but as potential problems. Increasingly rather than seeing themselves as a pastors working with brother pastors, bishops are working with a small team of chosen paid lay employees who assist in administering their diocese. Vatican II's understanding of a renewed Presbyterate is ignored. The present climate in many dioceses has meant bishops and priests no longer see themselves as "co-operators" and "collaborators" in the work of governing, teaching and sanctifying their diocese but as not very important functionaries working for an organization or corporation which safeguards itself against its priests. In practice this leads to a sense of alienation, loss of morale and consequently loss of zeal. I find it incredibly sad when priests say they would not encourage a young man to think about a priestly vocation, as many older priests do today.

A couple of the brethren at a recent meeting became quite apoplectic when it was suggested that failure to comply with health and safety legislation would leave a priest "personally responsible".

It was refreshing to read that the Pope today said, "The Church is not just a corporation, like a state, it is a body; it is not an organization but an organism."

Which Options?

It used to take me forever to choose a birthday card for my mother when she was alive, just too many options.
It is the same with the many options in the Missal: how does one choose? Which Penitential Rite, which Eucharistic prayer to use, which post-consecration acclamation to choose, which dismissal? Many of the options, like the introduction to the Pater Noster will disappear in the new vernacular Missal which is due out in the next few years.

I am sure most priests don't make a real choice, either they always do the same thing, or else they rotate the options.

I was thinking that I might write to Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ask him to issue guidelines on how choices should be made. There is a fascinating post on NLM about the The Problem with Options by Jeffrey Tucker dealing with liturgical Propers and there substitution with hymns but what about these options, Eminence?

When should one opt for Latin rather than the vernacular, I know to be more correct it should be other way round?

When should the priest opt for celebrated facing the people rather than the East?
When should the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite be opted for rather than the Ordinary Form?
When should one opt for communion under both kinds rather than one kind?
When should one opt for contemporary music rather than what the Missal says is normative: chant and polyphony?
When should one opt for not having the sign of peace rather than having it?
I am sure you can add to the list.
Another thing I would like him to clarify which is raised by the issuing of Summorum Pontificum is to what extent the liturgy is to be modified by Bishops or National Episcopal Conferences. SP tells bishops that their role is to regulate the Liturgy, not to micro-manage it. Does this apply to just the Extraordinary Form or is it now a general principle to be applied more widely?

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...