Monday, June 30, 2008

Chavez Starts a Reformed Catholic Church

A Venuzalean parishioner drew my attention to this. It is obviously designed for thinking Catholics.

For example, reformists consider that ''homosexuality and bisexuality are not sins in and of themselves.'' Divorce is allowed and priests do not take vows of chastity.
The church, which was publicly announced last week, also lines itself up squarely behind Chávez's ''Bolivarian Revolution'' and its socialist agenda.
Venezuelan Catholic leaders, who reacted sharply to the new church, claim Chávez is bankrolling it with petroleum proceeds.
But whether that's true or not, Reform Catholic leaders line up squarely behind the Venezuelan president.
''We completely support the socialist project led by Chávez,'' said Enrique Albornoz, one of the new church's first bishops -- a group that is to be ordained on Sunday.
The ordination of the bishops is scheduled to take place in Ciudad Ojeda, a small oil-rich town in the Venezuelan state of Zulia.

I always get anxious when Christians completely support anything other than Christ.


The Holy Father's homily for the Mass of Sts Peter and Paul can be found here. It is a good underscoring from scripture of St Paul's desire for Rome.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pauline Year Indulgence

One of the younger members of the congregation asked how he could get the Pauline Year indulgence, here is a link to the URBIS ET ORBIS DECREE.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Year of St Paul Vespers

The pope presided over Vespers at Rome's Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, which houses a marble sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the Apostle to the Gentiles. He was accompanied Bartholomew I, Patriarch f Constantinople.

Priests and Cats: cautionary tails

There seem to be cats everywhere on Catholic blogs:

Two cat stories for you:

I was called to a house where the Satanist Alistair Crowley used to be a frequent visitor, the owner had stripped away some wallpaper and found some pornographic and satanic graffiti and painting, she had begun to experience strange things, sudden draughts, things disappearing only to be found later. After saying the Rosary, amid the marananja haze I proceeded to sprinkle the house liberally with Holy Water. The owner was quite disinterested, she was a non-Catholic, non-Catholics seem to have theses experiences, until I went into the last bedroom, there was a shriek and something small and black darted from the shadows and through the cat flap. Seconds later there was a squeal of brakes, but alas the pet Siamese was no more.

After replacing the plaster the "occurrences" were no more.

A predecessor of mine was a large man, he used to tell the story of a visit he paid to an elderly lady, he tended to flop into chairs. He sat down, she went off to make some tea. He thought the chair was a bit lumpy, he felt underneath him and discovered he had sat on the cat. It was dead! He stuffed it into his pocket and put the corpse into a neighbours dustbin down the street.

On the next visit he said, "Mary I hear your dear sweet little pussycat has gone missing".

"Yes Father, and do you know, his little broke body was found down the street, some lout had obviously jumped up and down on him and broke every bone, a cruel blackguard he must have been, shall we say a decade for him, Father?"
"Of course, Mary, he must be a terrible wicked man".

Two hours later he was back and pulled out of his pocket a kitten.

Bighton Tuk Tuks

A company introduced tuk tuks in Brighton a couple of years ago, then they just dissappeared.
I think they have been resprayed and sold abroad.
Could the same thing have happened to my nephews Mercedes, which dissappeared in Guildford a couple of months ago?
Here Pope Benedict investigates the new Vatican low fuel car fleet.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A New Ecclesiology?

Damian Thompson has an interesting piece on the prospect of an Anglican bishop seeking Unity with the Holy See, there are rumours of a large group of Episcopalians in the States and Anglicans from elsewhere "coming over". As Prefect of the CDF Cardinal Ratzinger was responsible for creating a way for Episcopalians/Anglicans to be part of the Church, yet retaining there Rites etc. The same structures were apparently offered in England but rejected by Cardinal Hume and our heirarchy.

In Constantinople the Patriarch has suggested a sort of unity with Catholic Byzantine bishops, who will still remain in communion with Rome, I have not seen much detail but it seems unlikely to have been postulated without Papal involvement.

There is also the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church and its reconcilliation with Rome.

The speculations regarding the SSPX's proposed reconcilliation, "along the lines", said Bishop Fellay, "of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church", all suggest the Pope doing something quite exciting and forming a new ecclessiology. One which gives a greater plurality to Churches, bishops and even priests.

It seems as if we are returning to the first millenium's less monolithic concept of the Church, one that respects diversity in liturgy, and even a certain diversity in theology; note the SSPX seem to be being asked not to affirm Vatican II, merely not to deny it. There is a new and exciting ecumenism afoot, one that springs from the Tradition of the Church and has the Papacy at its centre, rather than seeing it as problem. As in the New Testament Peter underpins both unity and diversity.

Interesting, eh?

The devil may wear Prada — but the pope does not.

(AP) — According to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the bright red loafers that Pope Benedict XVI wears are not designed by the Milanese fashion house, as has long been rumored.
"Obviously the attribution was false," the Vatican newspaper said in its Thursday's editions.
"Such rumors are inconsistent with the simple and somber man who, on the day of his election to the papacy, showed to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square and to the whole world the sleeves of a modest black sweater," it said.
Still, Benedict's fashion sense has often drawn media attention.
Three years ago around Christmas, he showed up for his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square wearing a fur-trimmed stocking cap that could have passed for a Santa Claus hat. The hat, as it turned out, is a "camauro," which dates back to the Middle Ages and figures in many papal portraits.
On a separate occasion, Benedict sported a sumptuous red velvet cape trimmed in ermine — another piece of traditional papal attire that had long been abandoned.
L'Osservatore Romano said the pope's interest in clothes has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with liturgy — what symbolism traditional garments can bring to the Christian liturgy.
"The pope, therefore, does not wear Prada, but Christ," L'Osservatore said.
You see it is his continuity thing again.
Well actually the Pope does, or used have his cassocks made by Euroclero, one they made for me had the privelege of hanging up next to one marked, "Emm. Joseph Card. Ratzinger", their shop was just across the road from his office.
The rather splendid summer straw hat Frere "B" informs me comes from Gasmmerelli's: he has one, the cost for the black, version cost him 60 euros, very practical in the Roman sun.

Kneeling for Holy Communion

Cardinal Arinze on kneeling, altar rails and the freedom of communicants and free turkeys h/t Fr Tim.

This s quite apposite in the light of the Pope's practice of giving Holy Communion kneeling and on the toungue.

Rorate Caeli has the following excerpt from an interview with Mgr Guido Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies:

In the recent visit to Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi, the Pope has distributed communion to the kneeling faithful in the mouth. Is it a practice destined to become usual in papal celebrations?

I think so. Regarding it, it should not be forgotten that the distribution of communion in the hand still remains, from a juridical viewpoint, an indult from the universal law, granted by the Holy See to those Episcopal Conferences which have made a request for it. The mode adopted by Benedict XVI tends to underline the force of the norm valid for the entire Church. In addition, a preference could perhaps be seen for the use of this mode of distribution, which, without eliminating anything from the other, puts into light better the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, aids the devotion of the faithful, introduces with greater ease the sense of mystery. Aspects which, in our age, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to underline and recover.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tyrants as Superiors

I had an interesting email from a friend, the Catholic wife of Anglican clergyman, they have been having trouble with the Archdeacon, and her husband has joined a trade union, to protect his “rights”, which I suppose if you are married with three children is quite important. However it seems a very strange way to go about things among Christians, to involve a secular institution, like a trade union.

Within the Catholic Church, the relationship between bishop and priest, is essentially feudal, it some religious communities or dioceses, it can be oppressively so. For some reason lately I have come across situations of grave injustice within the Catholic Church. Summorum Pontificum has highlighted how some bishops trample on priests rights to celebrate the TLM, I am not going to go over the widely reported abuses by a few bishops in the UK.

One of the areas where priests suffer is the whole area of unsubstantiated sexual abuse, a single allegation and you are in the desert, possibly, forever. It is obviously important to protect children and the vulnerable but priests too have rights, and still there must, even in 21st century draconian England, and most especially within the Church, that just society, a presumption of innocence.

But it is not this that the concerns me here, it is the absence of any forum to ensure justice, to save an inferior from the arbitrary decision of a superior. The eccentric action of two Italian Carmelites who chained themselves outside St Peter’s Square raised lots of questions. I remember one elderly French religious, who previous superiors had allowed to live a solitary life, being told he could no longer eat apart from the community, saying “The Nazis could not break me, nor will Father Superior”. He had been tortured by the Nazis, his refusal to eat with the community led to him starve, after four or five days the superior gave in. It took that long.

One hears of elderly religious being forced out of communities, sometimes into other communities, sometimes literally onto the streets, simply because they are a bit difficult, or don’t fit in.

Bishops can send priests who they simply don’t like, to distant, sometimes difficult parishes. A friend of mind in rather vulnerable spiritual and emotional state was sent to a difficult chaplaincy, to replace a priest who had just been arrested for abusing children. He wondered why people were avoiding him; it took him a couple of months to find out why, the bishop hadn't bothered. His next appointment was to a parish his diocese wanted to close, again as a punishment, he tripled the congregation, eventually he left the diocese and ended up by joining a religious community.

The point I am making is that clergy and religious live on the whim of their superior. A priest, a religious, can appeal to Rome on a particular issue and although one might win a case, one has to live with the bishop or superior. Summorum Pontificum is interesting from a canonical point of view; I would like to read someone else’s opinion, in that it restricts the power of bishops in favour of the priest, and encourages the laity to have direct access to Rome, the only post VII document to do so.

The Church’s presumption is that all superiors are the epitome of charity and justice, but what if he or she is a tyrant or mad or simply bad? There is no recourse; one simply has to live with the consequences. Some religious congregations have a mechanism for deposing superiors, but these are cumbersome. I have only heard of one bishop being deposed, and he really was mad.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Conditions for the return of the SSPX


Conditions resulting from the 4 June 2008 meeting between Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos and Bishop Bernard Fellay:
1) The commitment to a proportionate response to the generosity of the Pope.
2) The commitment to avoid any public intervention that does not respect the person of the Holy Father and that could be negative for ecclesial charity.
3) The commitment to avoid the claim of a magisterium superior to the Holy Father and not to propose the fraternity as opposed to the Church.
4) The commitment to demonstrate the will to act honestly in full ecclesial charity and respect of the Vicar of Christ.
5) The commitment to respect the date - set at the end of the month of June - to respond positively. This will be a condition required and necessary as immediate preparation for the adhesion to have full communion ("come preparazione immediata all’adesione per avere la piena comunione").

Even more lute pictures

More lute pictures
Previous pictures
Here is James my luthier playing a little Weiss.

The Voice

The Voice was concieved in silence, his father dumbed by the angel in the place of sacrifice.
Already the he who would be the Voice had leapt at the presence of the Incarnate Word.

The writing of his name opens the mouth of the priest.
In the silence of the wilderness he speaks.
The Voice of the priest awaiting The Offering.
The Voice, the priest's son cries in the silence of the desert to prepare the Way of the Lord.
The priest: Behold the Lamb, the Victim, the Priest, the Eternal Word, the one who takes away the sins of the World.
In the desert is announced the one who will enter the desert of death.
The Word to speak to those dwelling in everlasting silence.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lefebvrists to return?

NLM has a story about a proposal from the Holy See for the return of the SSPX, the traditionalist group founded by Archbishop Lefebvre.

I am fascinated by the effects that their return would have on the Church as a whole and in my diocese. We have two Lefebvrist chapels in this diocese, one here in Brighton (in another parish) and one in Woking; what will the clergy who offer Mass in those places make of us if the attend our next deanery meeting?

One of the things that I occassionally feel guilty about is the lack oecumenical contact between the SSPX and most Catholic parishes, dioceses and clergy.

Say a prayer for their return.

Prayerful silence or waiting?

This is not unrelated to the previous post.

There is a lot of talk by liturgists about silence in the liturgy today, the need to "create" silence.

I try to follow what might be defined as best practice by modern liturgists, and introduce silence after the "Oremus" before the prayers, introduce it in the bidding prayers before the "Lord hear us", occasionally use the option of silent offertory prayers. I used to have a much longer period of silence after Holy Communion but recently I have started to think that what I think is prayerful silence is for most people simply waiting, waiting for me to do something.

A former Abbot of Caldey once expressed surprise that a group of university students had asked, “Father when do the monks actually pray?” His surprise was because they had spent a week living alongside, working, attending the Office and Mass with the monks.

I think there is a real problem many people have with integration of personal and liturgical prayer. It is perhaps easier with the use of the Missal of John XXIII and its silent Canon or the Byzantine rites when the Canon is in silence, the Royal doors closed and the veil drawn, and prayerful hush descends on the congregation.
Pope Benedict in his book "The Spirit of the Liturgy" suggested experimenting with silence during the Eucharistic Prayer and the author suggested there was crisis with the Canon of the Mass. I do think here the modern liturgy is very seriously lacking because it depends on creating silence, which is always going to be artificial, and totally dependant on the whim, or personal interpretation of the rubrics, of the celebrant.

There is, perhaps, deeper problem, a crisis with prayer itself. We have lost the custom of silent prayer. The Catholic custom of saying prayers for a particular intention is steadily withering and vocal prayer has become f0r most people something quite Protestant under the influence of Charismaticism: Lord, we just want to bring before you...
I think this is really at the heart of the debate about participatio actuosa.

Just out of interest how do most lay people pray the Eucharistic Prayer? On the rare occasions I attend Mass rather than celebrate it, I try to ignore what the priest is saying, apart from the consecration, and try to continue the thoughts of the Sanctus or the Trisagion, or just inwardly cry out, "Holy, Holy....".

Sunday, June 22, 2008


"Mass is boring, that is why I don't come".

Traditional solution:

So? Do something about it, it is your responsibility, deepen your prayer life, it is your failure.

Modern solution:

Oh! I’ll do something about it, I’ll try and make you more welcome, adapt the Mass to your needs, invite you to perform a ministry.

I know these answers are a bit crass but they do seem to sum up the reactions to the two expressions of the Roman Rite.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Abortion Statistics

As we are seen from across the Pond

( -England's failed abortion and sex-ed policies

In what is fast becoming known as the “abortion capital of the Europe,” Britain saw the number of abortions performed on girls under 14 rise by 21%, the American Life League (ALL) reports.
The British government is considering legislation to increase the availability of contraceptives and sex education to solve the problem.?Yet ALL leaders see those policies as certain to produce still more abortions.
Abortion in the United Kingdom is at a record high, reaching more than 200,000 preborn children killed in 2007, according to statistics released this week by the UK Department of Health. Abortion has been legal in the country since 1969.??
“Britain’s odious abortion record is the natural product the UK’s complete disregard for the sanctity of human life,” said Judie Brown, president of ALL. “However," Brown continued, "tossing contraception and more abortion at the problem will only intensify the human pain and loss of life.”??
Most disturbing among the findings is the increase in abortions performed on girls 14 and younger from 163 in 2007 to 135 in 2006.?Parliament’s response to what UK’s Guardian calls the failure of government sexual-health strategies is more contraception, suggested mandatory sex-education in the elementary schools and easier access to abortion.?“Today's data suggests the government's contraception and sexual health strategies are failing,” admits the Guardian.??
The statistics have been made public just a month after Parliament rejected a motion to lower the time limit on abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. “The insanity that says easier access to sex education and contraception will somehow reduce the number of abortions is based on a lie. It is in fact a recipe for disaster that will result in tragic loss of life for preborn children and agonizing regret and depression for young people,” Brown said. “The United States should see a grisly vision of its future if we continue along the same deadly path as England.”??

Tough Bishop

h/t Crescat

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spoof Videos

Fr Tim has few vidspoofs, this one isn't included, but it is fun

More on the Westminster Mass

The Latin Mass Society sent out various bits and bobs
Here, their own press release about the Mass in Westminster Cathedral.

here are photos of the occasion.

This is an extract from the Cardinal's homily I found quite beautiful:

“Whoever does not take up his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:27). The Mass in its simplest or most solemn form is always an invitation for us to unite ourselves with the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary and sacrifice, by definition, always costs. Without the discomforts, pains and the sufferings of this earthly life – physical mental, moral, emotional, spiritual – willingly offered to the Father in union with Christ, we are not fully and actively participating in the Mass. And, indeed, the way that we live the Mass is to unite ourselves with the holy sacrifice in all that we do throughout the day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reminder: STOP IT!

As is said on the comment box "anonymous" comments are rejected, if you use the anonymous supply a name with you comment.
Apart from thinking people should use there own names, having several anons in in series of comments is confusing.

Vatican demands opening of Israeli archives

(AFP) — A Vatican representative on Tuesday expressed regret that some 15 Israeli archives do not allow access to documents relating to Pope Pius XII and his attitude during the Holocaust.
Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, one of the organisers of a meeting due to take place in Rome in November on the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII, cited in particular the World Jewish Congress.
"I do not understand some critics as most of the Vatican documentation is accessible... while others do not make their documents available," he told reporters at the Vatican.
Historians are demanding that they be allowed to freely consult all of the Vatican archives concerning World War II. Only parts are currently accessible.
According to Brandmuller, however, 15 Israeli archive collections keep documents to which they do not allow access.
Pius XII served as pope from 1939-1958 and his role during the war is viewed as controversial.
Many historians accuse him of staying silent and doing little to intervene during the Holocaust, when Nazi Germany killed some six million Jews in Europe. The Vatican however has highlighted Pius XII's efforts to shelter Jews during the occupation of Rome by Hitler's troops.
Pope Benedict XVI last December created a special panel to study the possible sainthood of Pius XII.
Vatican sources told one news agency the pope did not want to proceed and saw the creation of a special commission as the best way of postponing a decision.
The possible sainthood of Pius XII is a source of tension with Jewish organisations.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pope Rage

Might add to this and proof read later, when I have time
For the most part most people I know think Pope Benedict XVI, now gloriously reigning, is the best thing since sliced bread, though I must admit, here and now, I never let sliced bread in the house.
Of all theologians of the 20th century Joseph Ratzinger was the one I clicked with, though at the seminary I used to keep his books hidden behind others on my bookshelf after I was criticised at one orders meeting for reading him. The priest who thought it a issue is now the Bishop of ..... Thirty years ago he said "Ratzinger is the reactiionary rump of an age we have out grown". When I think of that, I can't help a small ironic "tee hee", coming out of the side of my mouth.
I gave a paper on Spe Salvi recently, I think some of the clergy present had real difficulty with certain aspects of the Encyclical, most especially its teaching on the last judgement, it challenges the prevalent universalist idea of salvation.
I am sure that many other aspects of his theology cause people problems, his teaching on the centrality of the Church, on Ecumenism and Protestant ecclesial communities, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and Sacred History, are some of those things which come to mind.
It is perhaps the liturgy that is the obvious point of really strong disagreement but it is, I suspect, the touchstone of deeper discomfort. It is the Benedictine trend that is for many older priests the source of discomfort.
One priest I know can't mention the Pope's name without preceding by a few swear words, a bit of Pope rage, this is the same priest who, I have written about before, who often speaks tenderly of the old liturgy but, now would never dream of celebrating it. Benedict, for him, seems to be expecting him to repudiate everything that he has taken on in the forty plus years and to re-examine a lot of what he has cast off. It is the liturgy where it hits him most.

I talk about Benedictine pluralism, speak about him as the "pro-choice Pope", but for someone who has placed his trust in a different type of papacy which has existed since at least 1870, a monarchical one, this Pope creates problems. He has gone along with the removal of Papal pomp and yet restores traditions and traditional forms

“The pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word.” part of the his inaugural homily

The great transition that Benedict is making, not just with papacy but also with episcopate is the removal of monarchy, and whim! from both institutions. The role of both bishop and pope is in the words of VII, to be the faithful bearer of the Tradition. In the liturgy especially pope and bishops are seen traditionally as safeguarders not innovators, an idea that is very much to the fore in traditional liturgy.
Benedict would agree with those who call for a greater decentralisation of the Church, an increase in episcopal authority but that can only be if bishops really do bear the Tradition, and are united with one another and the past in the Tradition. The big problem is popes, bishops and priests have been dismantling Tradition over the last few decades. Summorum Pontificum is above all about unity with the past, with Tradition. It is also about unity with the East that has a quite different unerstanding of both authority and Tradition.

“My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own
ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will
of the Lord, to be guided by him, so that he himself will lead the Church at
this hour of our history.”

Cardinal to the Latin Mass Society

NLM carries the full text of the address of Cardinal Castrillon de Hoyos to the Latin Mass Society, it is worth reading in full but here are a few significant points.

In response to the prayers and sufferings of so many people in these past four decades, Almighty God has raised up for us a Supreme Pontiff who is very sensitive to your concerns. Pope Benedict XVI knows and deeply appreciates the importance of the ancient liturgical rites for the Church – for both the Church of today and for the Church of tomorrow.
superiors also must recognise that these rights are now firmly established in the law of the Church by the Vicar of Christ himself. It is a treasure that belongs to the whole Catholic Church and which should be widely available to all of Christ’s faithful.
It is particularly sad where priests are prohibited from celebrating the extraordinary form of the Mass because of restrictive legislative measures which have been taken and which run counter to the Holy Father’s intentions and thus to the universal law of the Church.
Let me say this plainly: the Holy Father wants the ancient use of the Mass to become a normal occurrence in the liturgical life of the Church so that all of Christ’s faithful – young and old – can become familiar with the older rites and draw from their tangible beauty and transcendence.
Summorum Pontificum has also provided for the Liturgy of the Word to be proclaimed in the vernacular without being first read by the celebrant in Latin. Today’s Pontifical Mass, of course, will have the readings solemnly chanted in Latin, but for less solemn celebrations the Liturgy of the Word may be proclaimed directly in the language of the people.
I am aware that the response of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” with regard to the observance of Holy Days of obligation has caused a certain amount of disturbance in some circles. It should be noted that the dates of these Holy Days remain the same in both the Missal of 1962 and the Missal of 1970. When the Holy See has given the Episcopal Conference of a given country permission to move certain Holy Days to the following Sunday, this should be observed by all Catholics in that country. Nothing prevents the celebration of the Feast of the Ascension, for example, on the prior Thursday, but it should be clear that this is not a Mass of obligation and that the Mass of the Ascension should also be celebrated on the following Sunday. This is a sacrifice which I ask you to make with joy as a sign of your unity with the Catholic Church in your country.
Please be patient with us: we are very few and there is much work to be done. And there are many questions to be studied and sometimes we may make mistakes!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More me

I found myself on Fr Sean's blog, it is a picture taken by the excellent Mr Gregory Flash of Juventutem. The clergy are going down the side aisle to meet H.E. the Cardinal.

Mark has a link to a Reuters article that has a slightly different take on the Mass.

Pope in Brindisi

BRINDISI, Saturday ( Upon his arrival in Brindisi, Benedict XVI spoke out in defense of immigrants and life.
The Pope on Saturday lauded the residents of Brindisi, a port city in southeastern Italy, for their generous welcome of immigrants and he urged them to be open to life. Those were the two main themes of his arrival address.
Representatives of the local government and the region's youth welcomed the Holy Father to the city for the second leg of a two-day apostolic trip.
In the speech that he delivered to a large crowd in the city center, the Pontiff reflected on the vocation of Brindisi, which, as in the past, "remains a port open to the sea" and a traditional refuge of immigrants.
"In recent years the newspapers and television have shown images of refugees who have landed in Brindisi from Croatia and from Montenegro, from Albania and from Macedonia," he remarked.
The Pope noted "with gratitude the efforts that have been made and that continue to be made on the part of civil and military administrations, in collaboration with the Church and with various humanitarian organizations, to provide refuge and aid, despite the economic difficulties that unfortunately continue to worry your region."
"Your city has been and continues to be generous, and this has been justly recognized with the assignment -- in the context of international solidarity -- of an authentic institutional role: Brindisi is the site of a U.N. base for humanitarian aid overseen by its World Food Program."
"This solidarity," Benedict XVI told the citizens of Brindisi, "is part of the virtues that make up your rich civil and religious patrimony: Continue to build your future with zeal."
Turning his attention to the defense of the family, Benedict XVI recalled that the family is the basis on which society is built.
He said: "Respect for life, and especially attachment to family, [are] exposed today to numerous forces that are trying to weaken [them].
"How necessary and urgent it is, even in the face of these challenges, that all persons of goodwill commit themselves to the safeguarding of the family, the solid basis on which the life of the whole of society is built."
"May adherence to the Gospel, consciously renewed and lived with responsibility, move you, today as yesterday, to face with hope the difficulties and the challenges of the present moment," the Pope concluded. "May faith encourage you to respond without compromises to the legitimate expectations of the human and social concerns of your city."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Me and Leutgeb

Photograph by Mulier Fortis of the author of Bara Brith and me.
It took me ages to put a photograph of myself on this blog, I like anonymity, but I must say I am rather chuffed when people come up and and say, "Are you that Father Ray Blake? I read your blog". So thank you, if you introduced yourself yesterday.

I was a bit disconcerted when I was Rome last year and a certain senior priest recognised me in the Borgo Pio near Card. Ratzinger's former flat and told me "We keep an eye on your blog". Thoughts of the basement of the Holy Office passed through my mind, but he was very complimentary. He compared blogging to modern pamphleteering.

My new hero

Wearing yards of red silk, lace and gloves one might not believe the Cardinal bites open his own beer bottles and wrestles crocodiles but read this article from the Washington Post of 2005.
Do you possibly think his zeal might have something to do with the ......... err, old errr? He is obviously not a man to be thwarted. There are some interesting accounts on other blogs on his press conference.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 75, leads the Vatican's office for priests. He has since retired from this job and heads Ecclesia Dei. Although dozens of priests have been killed in Italy (?) for straightforward talk, Castrillon has a reputation for courage and outspokenness.
Over the years, he has called on a Colombian president whose election campaign was financed by drug traffickers to step down, branded lawmakers bribed by traffickers a national disgrace and urged voters to reject a presidential candidate because he supported the right to divorce.

In Pereira, a city in the coffee-growing region where he spent 22 years as a bishop, Castrillon is remembered as fearless in action as well as words. He would walk at night through the streets of the mountain town with a huge cup of hot coffee and bread for the beggars and mentally ill people who slept on the sidewalks.
From his pulpit, Castrillon accused Pereira police of killing prostitutes, street children and beggars in a lethal "social cleansing" program.
Castrillon once met with leading Medellin cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar to ask him to surrender. Apparently he went disguised as a milkman and made him go to confession. Escobar refused and in 1993 was shot to death by police. Castrillon also rode on horseback to several meetings with guerrillas in the jungles and was instrumental in peace talks that ended with the demobilization of the M-19 guerrilla group.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Mass

Expectation of Our Lady has few pictures of the Mass at Westminster. Mulier Fortis had Fr. Timothy Finigan's camera (he was deacon at the throne) so check them out for pictures later.

It really was breathtakingly beautiful, it was good to see a number of parishioners who attend the TLM here, including Michael who is three and his little baby brother who I baptised earlier this year. I was on the sanctuary assisting in choro, looking down the cathedral it was glorious to see a huge number of people standing at the back and in the side aisles, there was a good mix of ages but the under 40s seemed to dominate.

One of the clergy complained that although the Throne Room had been used by Mgr Marini for his book launch, this privelege hadn't been extended to Cardinal Castrillon de Hoyos. John Medlin, the Secretary of the LMS, was fullsome in his praise of the help given by the Cathedral Administrator and his staff when I dined with him afterwards.
I must say I was very impressed, the choir sang the chant as only the boys and men of Westminster can, and I loved their exquisite rendering of Palestrina's Missa Sacerdos et Pontifex. I just wished some of the bishops of England and Wales could have been able to attend.
See also NLM where there are a couple of interesting acounts by "Justin" and Fr Symondson SJ

Westminster Cathedral 2pm today

See you there.

MP decries Labours anti-Catholicism

British Catholics have always had an affinity with the Labour Party, it is the working class roots, the interest in social justice, the internationalism of both groups that have held them together. I spoke to a friend from Crewe just after the by-election there, a Catholic friend and life-long party supporter said, "None of the Catholics I know who take their faith seriously can take Labour seriously anymore". This was just a few days after the vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
With Labour desperate for votes, though "it doesn't do God", should be aware that alienating Catholics and other Christians could cost it dearly.

(CNA) Jim Dobbin, the Labour MP for Rochdale, cited a series of public attacks by the Labour Party on positions upheld by the Catholic Church. He noted the fierce criticism of the stand taken by Catholic bishops in opposition to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, the indifference to Church leaders' concerns about anti-discrimination guidelines that led to the closing of Catholic adoption agencies, and the sharp criticism of Lancaster's Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue for upholding the Catholic character of Church schools.

"There are 5 million Catholics in the country," Dobbin observed, reflecting on the political consequences that anti-Catholicism could have for the Labor Party. "If they think they can disregard even a small number of these votes they are living in cloud cuckoo land.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another lute picture

Another picture of my new lute has just arrived from James its maker, this time of the sound board and rose. The wood, slow growing spruce from somewhere cold and dark, so the grain is fine, is plane to just over a millimeter in thickness, then carved freehand. Interestingly the patterns or knots that were used retained their ancient Islamic origin, even when the instrument had become thoroughly westernised, and was central to western secular music. It illustrates the power of tradition, even in the hands of craftsmen who do not understand it!
The geometry is supposed to say something specific about the infinite nature of God, but I haven't studied it yet.

St Anthony freebies

There was a great devotion at one time in this parish to Franciscan saints, the Third Order had been quite strong, now all that is left are statues of St Francis and St Anthony, so today I re-introduced the blessing of St Anthony' lilies, well actually they were gladioli, Australian lilies, (6 stems for £1) rather than lilies (3 stems for £3.50) and I am afraid rather than being pure white the had a hint of pink. I thought Anthony would approve of the economy.
I found the following blessing on Fisheaters.

On the Feast of this most wonderful of Saints, your priest might bless lilies for you to keep (this isn't a universal practice). The blessing of lilies, which remind us of St. Anthony's purity and have always been a symbol for him, stems from a miracle which took place in Revolutionary France: many priests and religious were murdered, so many churches and convents destroyed, but the faithful still showed up at a surviving church on the Feast of St. Anthony. I am sure this blessing is much more ancient thanthis Months later, it was discovered that lilies that had adorned the church at that feast were still fresh. Let the lilies beautify your house, or carry them with you, or press them in a book, etc. If your priest doesn't bless lilies, you can still use them non-sacramentally to remind you of one of the greatest Saints ever. The English of the Blessing of the Lilies is as follows:
The Blessing of Lilies on the Feast of St. Anthony
The priest vests in surplice and white stole, and says:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Who made heaven and earth.
The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray. God, the Creator and Preserver of the human race, the Lover of holy purity, the Giver of supernatural grace, and the Dispenser of everlasting salvation; bless + these lilies which we, Thy humble servants, present to Thee today as an act of thanksgiving and in honor of St. Anthony, Thy confessor, and with a request for Thy blessing. Pour out on them, by the saving sign + of the holy cross, Thy dew from on high. Thou in Thy great kindness hast given them to man, and endowed them with a sweet fragrance to lighten the burden of the sick. Therefore, let them be filled with such power that, whether they are used by the sick, or kept in homes or other places, or devoutly carried on one's person, they may serve to drive out evil spirits, safeguard holy chastity, and turn away illness--all this through the prayers of St. Anthony--and finally impart to Thy servants grace and peace; through Christ our Lord.
Then he sprinkles the lilies with holy water, saying:
Sprinkle me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Pray for us, St. Anthony.
That we may be worthy of Christ's promise.
Let us pray. We beg Thee, O Lord, that Thy people may be helped by the constant and devout intercession of Blessed Anthony, Thy illustrious confessor. May he assist us to be worthy of Thy grace in this life, and to attain everlasting joys in the life to come; through Christ our Lord.
After this the lilies are distributed to the people.

Next year I shall put out some vases and ask people to donate white lilies the week before.

People do like freebies whether it is Lillie's or medals or scapulars. I was impressed that so many men went of home carrying a gladdie with a hint of pink in their hands, for some a Friday humiliation I am sure.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Blog on the Block

Hound of Heaven says nice things about me, so go check it out

Dead man recovers

A man whose heart had stopped beating woke up just as surgeons were about to remove his organs for donation, it was disclosed yesterday.
Doctors in Paris earlier this year called in transplant surgeons after failing to resuscitate a 45-year old man believed to have suffered a massive heart attack in the French capital.
According to a report by the Paris university hospital's ethics committee - seen by Le Monde newspaper - doctors continued providing a heart massage for an hour and a half while they waited for the surgeons to arrive.
When the surgeons began operating on the man to remove his organs, he began to breathe, his pupils became responsive and he reacted to a pain test.

"After a few weeks chequered with serious complications, the patient is now walking and talking," said the report. It is not known whether the man is aware of how close he was to losing his organs.
The incident highlights the ethical problems doctors face in deciding when a donor is really dead.
Emergency service staff interviewed in the report said they knew of other situations where "a person who everyone was convinced was dead survived after prolonged re-animation moves well beyond usual timeframes or even those considered reasonable."
They pointed out that if they had followed the rules to the letter, such patients "would probably have been considered deceased."
In particular, the case is likely to ignite public debate over so-called controlled non-heart-beating organ donation (NHBOD) – retrieving organs when the heart stops, which has only been legal in France since last year. Before then a patient had to be declared brain dead before transplant could occur. NHBOD is legal in the UK.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Westminster: I am going

Pontifical High Mass at the Throne to be celebrated in Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (President of the Ecclesia Dei Commision and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy) in Westminster Cathedral at 2.00pm on Saturday 14 June.

Sorry, this is a bit of ramble but...
I think it is very important, if you can, to go. There is a petition on the web calling on the bishops to comply with the Pope's request for more celebrations of the Traditional Mass, it seems to imply they are dragging their feet. I am not convinced. In my diocese there are no more than half a dozen priests who would consider themselves idoneus, competent, to celebrate it. Even they are not going to celebrate the ancient form, which would attract less than 50 in preference to the new form which will fill a Church, certainly not at prime time on a Sunday. My own bishop has been searching for priests to celebrate the older form, in order that he might respond positively to requests.

I think the Pope's Motu Proprio is more than just about about reconciliation with groups like the SSPX, or even offering the Mass to those who prefer it, whether they are are the old with a deep nostalgia for it or the young who have newly discovered it. It is reconciliation with the past that is important. The unity of the Church is central to Ratzingerian thelogy, a unity with legitimate diversity, a unity that is not just horizontal but vertical uniting us to Christ and his saints. For him the liturgy is central to this both the extraordinary form but also the bringing out from the treasure chests the things of the past. For re-union with the Orthodox diversity but also fidelity to the past is crucial.

I love the concept of Low Mass, the prayerful silence but I have difficulty with the reality, great if I was celebrating with just a server every day but with a congregation, I am unconvinced. Solemn High Mass, or even Sung Mass is different, I love both concept and reality, where everything leads Godward. I am sure VII's intention was to open up its treasures. I think that what the Pope is trying to do is get us to look where we have come from, the root of western Catholic liturgy is High Mass, in all its splendour, not the trivialising experimentalism that still passes for the Novus Ordo, owing more to Anglicanism or Protestant Evangelicalism than to Catholicism. Again and again Ratzinger has spoken of the "rootlessness" of the Novus Ordo. I think that is a metaphor for the rootless of western ecclesiology, theology in general but also of the rootlessness of western culture. Catholic music and liturgical prayer is based on the ancient chants, we have done people a serious disservice by substituting meringue rhythms, gospel choruses, folksongs or even Hymns Ancient and Modern, frankly they ain't Catholic.

I disagree strongly with bloggers like Damian Thompson in their suggestion that the bishops are dragging their feet in following the Pope, they are following their people. The problem is that for the last 40 years, our bishops in common with almost every other bishop throughout the world has encourage a fracture with past but they have done so in good faith, assuming it was the will of the Holy See. Here Eastern Orthodox see a great flaw in Catholicism and Benedict sees it too, it is that bishops have been forced to choose between between being faithful bearers of the Tradition and loyalty to Rome, see his sermon when taking possession of the Lateran, where he speaks of the Pope as being the servant of Tradition rather than its master.

Saturday's Mass at Westminster is a great sign of reconcilliation with our heritage, I hope there are going to be hundreds of priests in choir and a few bishops, would it not be wonderful if they had to open up the galleries just to get people in?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tabletalk: education, family life

One of my vices is that I spend far too much time having coffee and talking around my kitchen table after morning Mass.

A few days ago we were speaking about Catholic education, my views are well known, I am a wholehearted supporter of primary school, my support for Catholic secondaries (12+, for Americans) is a little more muted, I want to be convinced, and honestly, thinking up an alternative within our parish structures is beyond me.

Our conversation went thus:

  • The failure of Catholic schools is evidenced by their failure to get students to understand Catholic worship, Catholic morality, Catholic family life, Catholic vocation.

  • The question then arose as to why they were failing, the conscensus was they fail because the Catholic family is failing.

  • Why is the Catholic family failing?

  • It is failing because family life is failing generally but Catholic family life is failing because, we priests and bishops fail to preach the Church's vision of the Catholic family, especially on sex and sexuality, coming from Humanae Vitae.

A visiting priest suggested one of the problems was the high number of convert clergy in our country, men who have never experienced firsthand Catholic family life.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Protesting Nuns

(Reuters) - Two elderly Italian nuns chained themselves to a lamp post outside the Vatican on Sunday claiming they had been wrongly expelled from their cloistered convent and wanted Pope Benedict to help them return.
The two women, Sister Albina Locantore, 73 and Teresa Izzi, 79, remained in locks and chains on the edge of St Peter's Square for several hours, including the some 20 minutes while the pope delivered his weekly message and blessing.
The two women told reporters they had left their convent of Carmelite nuns in central Italy for several months for health reasons but when they returned the mother superior refused to let them back in the cloistered convent.
The mother superior accused them of disobedience and banished them, the nuns said.
One of the nuns held up a placard reading: "Your Holiness, we are neither prostitutes, nor violent, nor thieves, nor mentally infirm".
Another placard appealed to the pope to investigate their case.
"After 50 and 60 years of service to the Church they treat us like sacks of garbage, all because we supposedly did not obey our religious superior," Sister Albina said.
The Vatican was trying to arrange a meeting between the nuns and an official of the Vatican department that oversees convents.

God bless Cormac

I found this on the Mail Online, I hope it is true, I am sure that there has been a lot of negotiation behind closed doors but there has to be time when the Church and its bishops, yes and its priest too, have to stand up and face down our secularist state. God bless the Cormac.

A Roman Catholic adoption agency headed by Britain's most senior Catholic churchman is to defy the Government over its controversial gay equality laws.
The Westminster Catholic Children's Society, whose president is Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, will ignore new rules that require it to place children with same-sex couples.
While other Catholic adoption agencies are caving in to the legislation by severing their ties with the Church or even closing, the Westminster Society will continue its policy of placing children only with married heterosexuals and single people.
Its stance will set the Cardinal - who welcomed Tony Blair into the Catholic Church last December - on a collision course with New Labour and the gay rights lobby.
It is a high-risk strategy that could provoke a costly and bruising test case in the courts, with campaigners determined to see the Society closed down.
But advisers to the Cardinal, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, believe they have found a legal loophole that could allow the Society to remain open and loyal to Catholic teaching, which opposes gay marriage and adoption by gay couples.
The Government, which forced the Sexual Orientation Regulations through Parliament after a bitter Cabinet battle and in the face of fierce opposition from religious leaders, would be severely embarrassed by a defeat in the courts.
Ministers were already reeling last night from a leaked report commissioned by the Church of England, which accused them of favouring Muslims over the Established Church and creating a moral vacuum in the country.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Work in Progress: 10 course lute

During Lent I commissioned a new 10 course lute, here is the first picture I have had from James Marriage, my luthier (the link takes you to one of James' grander instruments). The body of my instrument is made of rosewood with holly strips between the ribs, the ethical substitute for ivory, the neck and peg box are veneered in rosewood and inlayed with panels of olive wood, bordered by ebony and holly.
There is still a lot of work to be done to finish it, it needs coat upon coat of varnish and hours of polishing before it is fitted with its 19 pegs for its 19 strings. Each course is double strung except for the highest course which is a single string.
The annoying thing is a few weeks after I commisioned I had a recurrence of a viral thing I get every few years that affects my fingers and walking, it gets a bit difficult typing, hence fewer post recently, and my lute playing is clumsy as I can't quite feel the strings and the Lord gets a bob rather than a proper genuflxion, but like all things it will pass, "then I will praise Him on the ten string lute".

Government sidelines Christianity

The Government pays 'lip service' to Christianity and favours Islam and other minority religions, according to a report commissioned by the Church of England.

The damning study criticises the policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for focusing 'intently' on minority beliefs whilst neglecting the Anglican faith.

It also accuses Labour of ignoring the breakdown in society and failing to recognise the Church's potential contribution to public affairs.

The report says: 'We encountered on the part of the Government a significant lack of understanding, or interest in, the Church of England's current or potential contribution in the public sphere

'Indeed we were told that Government had consciously decided to focus... almost exclusively on minority religions.'

The report calls for a 'Minster for Religion' to utilise the untapped reserves of volunteers in churches and charities and accuses the Government of 'religious illiteracy'.

It comes days after Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, accused Gordon Brown of sacrificing liberty for misguided notions of equality and betraying New Labour's mantra of 'rights and responsibilities'.

The 180-page report, entitled 'Moral, But No Compass' shows how church leaders feel betrayed by the Government.

Mr Brown - who emphasised the strength of his 'moral compass' on becoming Prime Minister - is in particular likely to be stung by the title of the report.

The Government will find it hard to dismiss its findings as it represents the opinions of 70 Church of England bishops as well as more than 250 MPs, peers and academics.

In more bad news for Labour the study also praises the Conservatives for their 'strident' plans to tackle poverty.

This comments mark a change in the relationship between the Church and the Tories.

Relations have been strained since senior clergy blamed Margaret Thatcher for Britain's deepening spiritual decline in the 1980s.

The Bishop of Hulme, the Right Rev Stephen Lowe commissioned the The Von Hugel Institute at Cambridge to carry out the study

It was reported last night that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are among those who have endorsed the findings.

However, a Church of England spokesman said church leaders have not yet seen the report and will respond on Monday when it is officially published.

The spokesman went on: 'The hard-hitting report raises issues of considerable importance, the authors say, and makes recommendations that challenge the Government to recognise the Churches' involvement and potential in public service reform.

'Authors Francis Davis, Elizabeth Paulhus and Andrew Bradstock will present their report to the Church on Monday when Bishop Stephen Lowe will respond.'

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Card O'Brien: Examine Conscience

A Scottish cardinal is urging British politicians to an examination of conscience over recent votes in the Parliament that constitute "attacks on human life."

Speaking at a Mass in the Crypt of the House of Commons, Cardinal Keith O'Brien reminded members of Parliament and the House of Lords that society is currently living a "time of confusion over the most basic questions about our society and the values we hold dear."

The archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh added that country needs its legislators to follow their conscience, even at the expense of political difficulty.

Parliament voted May 19 in favor of the "Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill," which allows for the creation of human-animal hybrids, made by introducing human DNA into animal ova.

They also approved the creation of "savior siblings," are created using in vitro fertilization techniques with the goal of making a genetic match to help an ill older brother or sister. Embryos whose genes do not match will be discarded.

On May 20 the Parliament legislated that fathers are not a necessary prerequisite for seeking in vitro fertilization, and that the upper limit on the abortion law should stay at 24 weeks of gestation.

Sad reality

"It has struck me that for all the Church's calls for recognition of the inviolability of conscience," Cardinal O'Brien said, "the sad reality is that the vast majority of politicians have given support to various attacks on human life with apparent lack of reproach from conscience."

He asked, "What does one say then, in the face of those who without guilt condemn the innocent in the womb, show disregard for family life and play God with the building blocks of life?"

The cardinal continued: "We know that many people of faiths other than our own, including Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh, who believe in the sanctity of unborn human life, join with us at this present time and are continuing to seek through their ongoing efforts a change in the present laws.

"Yet our culture does much to dull that inner voice of conscience. A feature of our age is the incessant noise, the lack of quiet, endless distraction; the ipod and mobile phone ensure silence and reflection are the preserve of very few."

"We cannot but help notice that consciences among even some who ostensibly see themselves as loyal Catholics or champions of the life have been dulled even so far as to acquiesce with what is euphemistically called a right to choose," the cardinal added.

"God's gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord," Cardinal O'Brien said, quoting St. Paul.

He added, "That is precisely what all involved in political life are called upon to do at this present time."

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...