Monday, July 28, 2008

...And so up to Oxford

It seems as if everyone I know is going to Oxford for the LMS Traddiefest. Well, you can tell a man by the friends he keeps.

Abortion a swing factor in Scottish Labour loss?

( - Abortion was a key factor in the defeat of a Labour Party candidate in a by-election in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 24, according to local pro-life leaders.
The Glasgow East seat in Parliament, regarded as a safe seat for the Labour Party, was captured by John Mason of the Scottish National Party in a close vote. The Alive and Kicking Alliance, which had backed the pro-life candidate, claimed that abortion was a crucial ingredient in his electoral success.
Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that he would postpone a final parliamentary vote on the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill until September-- safely after the by-election in Glasgow. Political analysts said that Brown had rescheduled the debate in order to avoid antagonizing voters in Glasgow East, a heavily Catholic constituency. Led by Edinburgh's Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Church leaders in Scotland have been outspoken in their opposition to the legislation, which would expand embryonic research and allow more late-term abortions.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tablet Survey on Humanae Vitae: a failure in catechesis

Forgive me for making such a recommendation but read The Tablet on Sex and the Modern Catholic, the article is based on a survey of Mass going Catholics by the Von Huegal Institute, as part of the Tablet's Humanae Vitae "celebrations".
All the statistics are pretty frightening like the attitudes of most Catholics to abortiofacients or artificial contraception. They point to a serious crisis:

73 per cent of these respondents had also used or said they wouldn't mind using condoms, 51 per cent had used or wouldn't mind using the contraceptive pill, 27 per cent had used or wouldn't mind using the coil, 33 per cent had used or wouldn't mind using sterilisation, 22 per cent had used or wouldn't mind using the morning-after pill, 30 per cent had used or wouldn't mind using the diaphragm.

In fact 73% of people under 35 and 60% of under 45s seemed unaware of the Church's teaching. The majority of these, I presume, would have attended Catholic schools. They indicate a serious crisis not in the acceptance of teaching but in delivering Catechesis. The problem is with those responsible for giving catechises

I confess that I haven't preached explicitly on the doctrines of Humanae Vitae for over two years: my excuse is that whenever I do I know that few of my neighbours would not do the same, in fact most would regard me as cranky for doing so. But it is not that which deters me, it is the fact I have never heard of (let us not criticise the bishops here) a senior heirarch teach or write of these important doctrines, on the contrary it would appear that most are quite complacent and some even openly dissent from them. Which diocesan Marriage and Family Life group take Humanae Vitae seriously and are willing to help people live out its teaching? Which office of the Bishop's Conference has responsibility for its promotion, or put it another way who should be sacked for failing to carry out their function? One suspects - and hears anecdotal evidence - that anyone committed to the Church's teaching would be rejected for a job with one of these bodies because of their committment.

I hope that those in Rome responsible for the choice of the next Archbishop of Westminster read and study this survey. If they do they can only conclude how lamentable is the state of catechesis and Catholic education in this country. The knock on effect is that when the Church is called on to battle against issues like the Sexual Orientation Regulations or the Human Fertilisation and Embriology Bill, it finds itself impotent because basic principles are ignored, through ignorance and the lack of teaching.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Vindication of Humanae Vitae

That Humanae Vitae and related Catholic teachings about sexual morality are laughingstocks in all the best places is not exactly news. Even in the benighted precincts of believers, where information from the outside world is known to travel exceedingly slowly, everybody grasps that this is one doctrine the world loves to hate. During Benedict XVI’s April visit to the United States, hardly a story in the secular press failed to mention the teachings of Humanae Vitae, usually alongside adjectives like “divisive” and “controversial” and “outdated.” In fact, if there’s anything on earth that unites the Church’s adversaries—all of them except for the Muslims, anyway—the teaching against contraception is probably it.
To many people, both today and when the encyclical was promulgated on July 25, 1968, the notion simply defies understanding. Consenting adults, told not to use birth control? Preposterous. Third World parents deprived access to contraception and abortion? Positively criminal. A ban on condoms when there’s a risk of contracting AIDS? Beneath contempt.
“The execration of the world,” in philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe’s phrase, was what Paul VI incurred with that document—to which the years since 1968 have added plenty of just plain ridicule. Hasn’t everyone heard Monty Python’s send-up song “Every Sperm Is Sacred”? Or heard the jokes? “You no play-a the game, you no make-a the rules.” And “What do you call the rhythm method? Vatican roulette.” And “What do you call a woman who uses the rhythm method? Mommy.”
As everyone also knows, it’s not only the Church’s self-declared adversaries who go in for this sort of sport. So, too, do many American and European Catholics—specifically, the ones often called dissenting or cafeteria Catholics, and who more accurately might be dubbed the “Catholic Otherwise Faithful.” I may be Catholic, but I’m not a maniac about it, runs their unofficial subtext—meaning: I’m happy to take credit for enlightened Catholic positions on the death penalty/social justice/civil rights, but of course I don’t believe in those archaic teachings about divorce/homosexuality/and above all birth control.

"They have no reason to live anymore"

Fr Tim has this excerpt from Into the Great Silence, in it a blind monk says, "They have no reason to live anymore".

A number of the children of my parishioners in their twenties/thirties have committed suicide during my time here. I can't help thinking that a loss of faith in God brings about a loss of faith in life and in one's self.

Occassionally as a priest I hear of terrible cases of abuse, for example some years ago there was a little boy cared for in the parish who had been rescued after being kept locked in cupboard, he was taken out frequently to be sexually and physically abused by his step-father. This had gone on for three years until he was seven. He was very disturbed, I could only see him later in life having a reason to live, and knowing how to live, if he could come to know God. I don't know what happened to him but say prayer for him.

Errrr... how useful, Prime Minister

Pope Benedict XVI receives a gift of a golden palm tree from Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during a private visit in the summer residence of Castelgandolfo,

and replies .......?

Vatican approves new English translation for Mass

( - The Vatican has given formal approval to a new English translation of the central prayers of the Mass for use in the United States and I presume the rest of the English speaking world.

In a June 23 letter of Bishop Arthur Serratelli, the chairman of the US bishops' liturgy committee, the Congregation for Divine Worship announces its recognitio for the translation, which had already won the approval of the US bishops' conference, despite strong protests from some liberal prelates.

The new translation adheres more closely to the Latin of the Roman Missal. Since the 2001 publication of Liturgiam Authenticam, the instruction on the proper translation of liturgical texts, the Vatican has pressed for more faithful translations of the official Latin texts.

Alluding gently to the fierce debates over English-language liturgical translations in the past decade, the Congregation for Divine Worship reports "no little satisfaction in arriving at this juncture." The letter from the Vatican is signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze and Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith, the prefect and secretary, respectively, of the Congregation.

The Vatican's binding approval covers only a portion of the entire Roman Missal. The entire process of translating the Roman Missal is expected to take at least until 2010. However, the prayers given the Vatican recognitio are the most common texts for the Order of the Mass.
The Vatican approval comes just after the US bishops' conference voted against approval of another installment in the series of translations that will be required to complete the overall project.

The new translation is not to be used immediately, the Vatican letter indicates. Instead the US bishops are directed to begin "pastoral preparation" for the changes in the language of the Mass. During this same period, the Congregation for Divine Worship notes, some musical settings for the text could be prepared.

Among the noteworthy changes that Catholics will notice when the new translation goes into effect are:

At the Consecration, the priest will refer to Christ's blood which is "poured out for you and for many"-- an accurate translation of pro multis-- rather than "for all" in the current translation.

In the Nicene Creed the opening word, Credo, will be correctly translated as "I believe" rather than "we believe."

When the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the faithful respond, "And with your spirit," rather than simply, "And also with you."

In the Eucharistic prayer, references to the Church will use the pronouns "she" and "her" rather than "it."

In the Agnus Dei, the text cites the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world," rather than using the singular word "sin."

In the preferred form of the penitential rite, the faithful will acknowledge that they have sinned "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."

[The Gloria has been translated differently and the structure is different from the present text

In the Preface dialogue the translation of “Dignum et justum est” is “It is right and just”

The first line of the Sanctus now reads “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts”

The response of the people at the Ecce Agnus Dei is “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”]

Throughout the translation of the Offertory and Eucharistic Prayer, the traditional phrases of supplication are restored, and the Church is identified as "holy"-- in each case, matching the Latin original of the Roman Missal.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Codex Sinaiticus

For the uber-traddie Codex Sinaiticus is now on line, put there by the British Library.

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Problem of Bishops

Very occasionally I have the pleasure of a telephone call from the good and wise Father Zuhlsdorf, and he has just phoned from the Americas.

Apart from a brief frivolous discussion about Mac's foolish and blond desire for ordination to Exorcist, we spoke of the problem of Bishops in the documents of Vatican II. Before the Council, to be simple about it, priests and bishops where really the same thing, except Bishops had greater jurisdiction, we spoke about a priest being "consecrated" as a Bishop. The Council introduced the idea of the Bishop as a priest-plus, and someone was "ordained" a Bishop, in the same sense as a deacon is ordained a priest. Vatican II identified ordination as the laying on of hands rather than through the giving of instruments, or symbols of office.

One might argue that a Bishop has extra-sacramental powers but there is a welter of evidence that during the middle-ages, and earlier some simple priests ordained men to the minor orders and even to the diaconate and even to the priesthood, more discoveries have been made since the Council.

My understanding, which could be wrong! was that the Investiture Crisis at the beginning of the 2nd millennium, was about princes making priests bishops by investing them with the symbols of office and jurisdiction by the giving of a ring, miter, crosier, pectoral cross and enthronement. All of which, incidentally, were given to an abbess, who often had jurisdiction equal to any bishop (the mitre was generally armorial but sometimes actually carried before them). I suspect the fag end of this were lay commendatory bishops, who mainly collected diocesan revenues in pre-revolutionary France, but in some cases had limited jurisdiction.

So Mac could not be ordained a priest, but if she were invested with the symbols of office and given jurisdiction she would be a very fine Abbess.

TLM and Wymmin

Mindful of the Apostolic injunction that women should be silent in Church Fr Tim is pushing the idea of wymmin priests celebrating the Usus Antiquor.
That Blonde, who is seeking minor orders, has an amusing take on this issue. Fr Z answers her querries.
It reminds me that amongst Italian and French Satanists there is a significant split between the ancient and modern rite. Apparently female Satanists, of a certain age, prefer the newer form as it is more adaptable!

Fijian Dancers: What are we saying?

The sight of Melanesians from Fiji singing and dancing at Gospel procession at Pope Benedict's closing mass in Australia, have caused a bit of a stir. The Pope has suggested at various times that dance is inappropriate in the liturgy but I think that he meant the contrived leotard clad self indulgence that we see at the Mahoneyfest in Los Angeles every year.

There are some cultures, apparently, where song is always accompanied by movement. There used to be an African lady here who used to sway and move her hips as she sang the Missa di Angelis with exhuberant glee. There is dance and there is dance. Not being a great fan of ballet, the gymnastics spoil the music, I was dragged to a London theatre to watch some young dancers, dancing the Passion, it was an incredibly moving meditation, but then it wasn't done at Mass or in a place of worship.

What is seen in the video seems to raise problems for me over and above the dancing. At ordination the Book of the Gospels is entrusted to the deacon by the bishop, at Mass it is carried in by the deacon and normally placed on the altar, and taken from there to be proclaimed. Here, the Book of the Gospel is brought to the sanctuary from the congregation, this is making an important statement. It indicates teaching authority is given to the clergy by the people and received by them from the people. It is an inversion of Catholic teaching. There is also a problem of resuscitating elements of a now dead cultural elements that come from a period of paganism, to use in worship. What are we saying?

I know nothing about Fijian dance, it seems quaint and dignified, but I have to ask, why Fijian dancers? Why not some other ethnic group? Were they introduced to add "an ethnic touch"? If that is so, then it strikes me there is a real possibility of "cultural imperialism" or at least of using other cultures as an entertainment to highlight one's open mindedness to exoticism. In this clip there is a stark contrast between the flowing dancers and the stiff Roman style of the sacred minister who receives the Book, the two actions do not flow together. The dance ends and one is left thinking, "that was nice but what was the point?" With any liturgical novelty one is left wondering, "what was the point?".

Archbishop Ranjith, himself a Sri Lankan has said that inculturation, which was urged by VII, should genuinely spring from ethnic cultures, he talks of prostrations and crawling on one's belly in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, where this is normal in the presence of the king or using white for funeral when this a normal mourning colour. I can understand using signs and symbols appropriate to particular cultures when this as part of a whole rite, when carefully considered, it seems wise and prudent. This little excerpt seems merely to be an interlude or a bit of colour that was bolted on.

As a white male, whose family were involved in the administration of the "colonies" I feel incredibly uncomfortable with anything that smacks of, "bits of native colour". As a Catholic priest I feel uncomfortable with anything that brings about theological confusion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Whole Cardinal Dias Speech at Lambeth

Rorate Caeli reports this extract from Cardinal Dias' speech to the Lambeth Conference:

The spiritual combat, described in the Books of Genesis and Revelation, has continued unabated all down the ages. St Paul described it in very vivid terms: “We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). This combat rages fiercely even today, aided and abetted by well-known secret sects, Satanic groups and New Age movements, to mention but a few, and reveals many ugly heads of the hideous anti-God monster: among them are notoriously secularism, which seeks to build a Godless society; spiritual indifference, which is insensitive to transcendental values; and relativism, which is contrary to the permanent tenets of the Gospel. All of these seek to efface any reference to God or to things supernatural, and to supplant it with mundane values and behaviour patterns which purposely ignore the transcendental and the divine. Far from satisfying the deep yearnings of the human heart, they foster a culture of death, be it physical or moral, spiritual or psychological. Examples of this culture are abortions (or the slaughter of innocent unborn children), divorces (which kill sacred marriage bonds blessed by God), materialism and moral aberrations (which suffocate the joy of living and lead often to profound psychic depression), economic, social and political injustices (which crush human rights), violence, suicides, murders, and the like, all of which abound today and militate against the mind of Christ, who came that “all may have life, and have it in abundance” (Jn 10:10). Two vital institutions of the human society are particularly vulnerable to such a culture of death: the family and the youth. These must, therefore, receive the special attention, guidance and support of those whom the Holy Spirit has placed as shepherds of the flock entrusted to their pastoral care.

The rest of the speech is equally hard hitting and linked to by Rorate Caeli, do read it all.

In Lambeth

I have been keeping half an eye out for what is going on at the Lambeth Conference but there seems to be a deliberate news black out.
Apparently they are all sweltering in a huge tent because the is no money for air coinditioning.
Ruth Gledhill has this video of Archbishop of Sudan Dr Daniel Deng calling for the resignation of Gene Robinson.

She also reports Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Evangelisation has told the 650 bishops:

'Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer's. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson's.'

A bit of plain talking. I am sure this is similar message Cardinal Kaspar will deliver on Sarurday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Magdalen Concert

Just some nice music, the first three three videos are fun, the last three are Dowland love songs redolent with Maudlin passion.

Oh Happy Holyday

Our Glorious Holy Patron, Angel to the Apostles, Hope of the Fallen, Comforter of those who mourn pray for us

40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

Now, we priests had a note saying we shouldn't cause scandal by criticising the bishops on the net a few weeks ago, our bishop graciously pointed out that this had nothing to do with priests in his diocese.

I am afraid this is a bit of gentle criticism. We are rapidly approaching the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, in fact it is on the Feast of Sts Anne and Joachim, there has been nothing marking this important anniversary from the Bishop's Conference at all.

I can understand that for many older bishops and priests the publication of this document recalls painful memories. The Church in the English speaking world was riven apart by it, so many priests and religious left not only their ministry but left the Church too. Personally I think Humanae Vitae is a very inferior document compared to JPII's Evangellium Vitae, and it was perhaps unfortunate that Paul VI published it in the "silly season" when in the UK at least "Pope bans Pill" stories ran and ran for weeks and were often written by people who hadn't even read the document. In the Church in England and Wales, it made dissidence and dissidents popular and gave birth to the then new, Tabletista Catholic, and the concept of "loyal disobedience". Even amongst those who had no problem with the teaching, judged the document itself as inopportune. It became for many a focus for all types of expressions of dissatisfaction with both the pre and post Concilliar Church.

That being said Paul VI's teaching about the evils of a "contraceptive society" have proved themselves prophetic, as he said the basic structures of society have been mortally wounded. Sex has become something without responisibilities, the family is no longer seen as essentially part of society, children are not seen as the consequence of human love, and are often seen as a burden rather than a gift. The contraceptive industry, with its even uglier siblings the abortion and pornography industry, have framed today's society.

This is why I was delighted to see this, from the US Bishops, if only our own bishops would overcome their timidity and take up similar initiatives.

Most Catholics are unaware of the Churches teaching on contraception, and certainly unaware of why the Church teaches as it does. Increasingly as we are looking for "green alternatives" here the Church has a great deal to offer.

In my last parish a couple of vegan, non-Catholic bikers, were about the only people who came knocking on my door asking for information on Natural Family Planning, the last I heard they had become Catholics. A couple of friends had difficulty conceiving took up NFP after trying unsuccessfully for a baby and because the got in touch with their bodies' rhythms are now the happy parents of two children and looking forward to the delivery of a third.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A miracle on World Youth Day

When Benedict XVI addressed an inner-Sydney congregation on Friday night, he spoke against the worship of the “false gods” of “material possessions, possessive love, or power.” And he asked: “How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can? But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death.”

And according to a report in The Weekend Australian, the hundreds of thousands of Catholic pilgrims have been a major economic disappointment:

“The deathly retail silence contrasts with optimistic predictions of a ‘bumper week’ of trade by the state Government and the local chambers of commerce. A jewellery shop reported one sale in the week: a cross. New South Wales Business Chamber chief executive Kevin MacDonald had predicted a $231 million boost for business, or $1155 per expected visitor. But traders reported pilgrims unwilling to spend, even haggling over the price of one banana. Clothing store John Serafino said the Pope’s visit was ‘a disaster’.

”Here in Australia, talk about the economy tends to be the only talk that is taken seriously; the sound of the cash register is the only sound we really respond to. Our public life revolves around the assumption that everything is finally reducible to economic considerations. So thanks be to God for the strange miracle of a “deathly retail silence” in Sydney this week.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

WYD: but the BBC....

The last Mass of World Youth Day has been celebrated, the Pope has said some pretty exciting and challenging things. Priests have been overwhelmed by the number of Confession, you get the hint that some of Catechesis given by the Bishops has been pretty outstanding.

I don't know what has appeared on the television but here the the reporting on BBC Radio 4 has been appalling, one or two phrases of the Pope have been reported, but practically all the emphasis has been placed on the Pope's expression of shame for sexual abuse by clergy, when that has not been reported, there has been a great deal of emphasis on protesters against the Papal visit.

The BBC seems to give the impression that the Pope visited Australia only to apologise for the sins of Australian clergy and was met by hordes of homosexual activists, who seem to make up the majority of Australian population, who were handing out condoms to a few other people.

It seems that in the UK there are are an extraordinary number of people who are involved in promoting "gay culture" are also employed by the media, the BBC seems to be dominated by this small but powerful group. I don't have much of a problem with men or women with a same sex attraction, but the gay movement is worrying when it becomes a political force that filters out certain news and views.

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned it seems that within the BBC there is an informal coalition of seriously anti-Catholic elements. The Church, the Pope especially, are seen very much as the enemy. That is most probably not unreasonable because both Pope and Church are and should be the bitter enemy of the consumerist, self indulgent, highly personalistic hedonism that seem to be the very basis of the UK media and in particular the BBC.

Catholic Convert: Sitting Bull

I didn't know Chief Sitting Bull was a Catholic. Roman Christendom says he was converted to the Catholic Church being instructed by Bishop Marty of Dakota, and, after his death, was buried in a Catholic graveyard.

I am intrigued, anyone know more?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

5 types of Catholics

In the Canberra Times John Herron, a World Youth Day Ambassador, a Catholic all his life, a father of 11, an Australian senator for 11 years, a former minister forAboriginal affairs , the ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See, told the Pope "We're a secular society in Australia, we're very materialistic, and I think we've lost something in all of that," he says. It's time for some spirituality."
As, he advised the Pope there were five types of Catholics in Australia.

There were relapsing Catholics, who returned to the faith when stressed.

Nominal Catholics, the tick-the-census-box types.

There were anti-Catholic Catholics, baptised but who hate Catholicism

There are smorgasbord Catholics, who take bits they like and leave those they don't.

And then, Herron told the Pope, there are practising Catholics. "Like you and me."

Cardinal Cassidy

Say a prayer for Cardinal Cassidy, he said Mass here sometime ago, afew years ago I was walking through a Rome street, and heard an Australian voice cry out, "Hello, Ray Blake", it was the Cardinal.
( - A shadow fell over the World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations in Sydney, Australia, on July 18 when the Australian Cardinal Edward Cassidy was rushed to the hospital.
The 84-year-old Cardinal Cassidy, a native of Sydney, was a longtime member of the Vatican diplomatic corps. From 1989 to 2001 he served as president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
Cardinal Cassidy was reportedly hospitalized with a heart problem. At a Thursday meeting with other Christian leaders, Pope Benedict asked for prayers for the prelate's recovery. Cardinal Cassidy had originally been scheduled to take part in the meeting.
A spokesman for the Australian bishops' conference discouraged speculation about the cardinal's condition, saying that he was expected to spend only a few days in the hospital.

Materialism - false Gods

Benedict XVI
Address - Meeting with disadvantaged people - Sydney

False “gods”, whatever name, shape or form we give them, are nearly always associated with the worship of three things: material possessions, possessive love, or power. Let me explain what I mean.

Material possessions, in themselves, are good. We would not survive for long without money, clothing and shelter. We must eat in order to stay alive. Yet if we are greedy, if we refuse to share what we have with the hungry and the poor, then we make our possessions into a false god. How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can! But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death.

Authentic love is obviously something good. Without it, life would hardly be worth living. It fulfills our deepest need, and when we love, we become most fully ourselves, most fully human. But how easily it can be made into a false god! People often think they are being loving when actually they are being possessive or manipulative. People sometimes treat others as objects to satisfy their own needs rather than as persons to be loved and cherished. How easy it is to be deceived by the many voices in our society that advocate a permissive approach to sexuality, without regard for modesty, self-respect or the moral values that bring quality to human relationships! This is worship of a false god. Instead of bringing life, it brings death.

The power God has given us to shape the world around us is obviously something good. Used properly and responsibly, it enables us to transform people’s lives. Every community needs good leaders. Yet how tempting it can be to grasp at power for its own sake, to seek to dominate others or to exploit the natural environment for selfish purposes! This is to make power into a false god. Instead of bringing life, it brings death.

The cult of material possessions, the cult of possessive love and the cult of power often lead people to attempt to “play God”: to try to seize total control, with no regard for the wisdom or the commandments that God has made known to us. This is the path that leads towards death. By contrast, worship of the one true God means recognizing in him the source of all goodness, entrusting ourselves to him, opening ourselves to the healing power of his grace and obeying his commandments: that is the way to choose life.

Russia remembers the murdered Tsar St. Nicholas II & his family

See here

Visitors to Russia tell me that the Christian faith is flowering and then cynically say that so is alcoholism, drug abuse and money grabbing materialism.

There was a survey recently of top dead Rusians, Tsar Nicholas II came first followed by Salin and Lenin.

Friday, July 18, 2008


A group of Prince's of the Church attending a Papal WYD event, according to Yahoo this was taken during the Papal address.
I can't see any of our English bishops amongst them.

Dressing the Pope

St Bede's Studio were asked to design a set of vestments for the Pope.

In preparing the design, certain considerations were paramount. Firstly, that the vestments be beautiful and dignified, as is fitting for vestments used by His Holiness. Secondly, that the vestments be convenient for the use of His Holiness. Lastly, that the vestments be visually related to Roman traditions for ornamenting sacred vestments.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pope on the attack

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday delivered a stinging attack on pop culture, consumerism and 'false idols' to 150,000 mainly teenaged Catholic pilgrims gathered in Australia for World Youth Day.

The pontiff reminded the young foreign and Australian pilgrims in Sydney for the Catholic festival of how the apostles stepped forward to 'oppose the perversity in the culture around them' when they established the church.

'Our world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises,'
the pope said.

The 81-year-old spiritual leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics said there were numerous signs indicating 'something is amiss' in modern society.

'In our personal lives and in our communities, we encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are and distort the purpose for which we have been created,'
he said.

Pope Benedict XVI said alcohol and drug abuse were two of the most prevalent examples of modern ills.

But he reserved his fiercest criticism for sexual degradation and violence masquerading as entertainment on television and the Internet

'I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation explain that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely entertainment?'
he said.

The pope urged his young audience to reject consumer society.

'Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty and subjective experience displaces truth,'
he said.

The German-born pontiff also blamed consumerism for the environmental problems facing the planet.

'There are scars which mark the surface of our earth, erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption,'
he said.

He condemned modern society's moral relativism, which rejects the concept of absolute truth, saying it led to confusion, a lowering of standards, a loss of self respect and even to despair.

The pope defended the church's right to speak out on public issues, saying it could not remain on the sidelines and allow secularism to dominate society.

'If God is irrelevant to public life, then society will be shaped in a godless image,'
he said.

While the pope railed against modern society's ills, World Youth Day organisers have deployed many pop culture tools to promote the event as a hip experience for young worshippers.

They send out a daily text message from Pope Benedict XVI, or BXVI as he is known to mobile phone users, such as: 'The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles and gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! - BXVI.'

Festival organisers have also set up a social networking website similar to Facebook to help pilgrims get in touch with each other while in Sydney.

They staged a pop concert after the event's opening mass Tuesday and observers have likened the vast gatherings of tens of thousands of pilgrims to a rock concert.

A serious liturgical problem

Young men don mitered baseball caps.

Whilst older men put on silly hats.

Now, I have raised this before, but I think this is a relatively serious question: what type of hat should a priest wear with dignity when concelebrating in the hot sun?
I don't know if this picture was taken during Mass itself or during the hour or so wait before Mass. For the balding, being bareheaded can be quite painful.
The traddie answer would be wear a birreta or even a skullcap, the more ancient answer would be to cover the head with an amice, but that would make one look like a druid!
A modern answer might be, oh how I hate it, a baseball cap! Obviously in the proper liturgical colour and issued with instructions for it to be removed and taken to the knee at Holy Name, the Doxology, the name of the Blessed Virgin, and the name of the Supreme Pontiff.

Pope and Anglicans

( - Some people in England-- perhaps within the English hierarchy-- would like us to believe that Pope Benedict XVI is working with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discourage conservative Anglicans from entering the Catholic Church.

Don't believe it.
The daily Independent has given its readers an analysis of the Vatican's approach to the Lambeth Conference, beginning with this striking paragraph:

The Pope is leading an unprecedented drive by the Roman Catholic Church to prevent the fragmentation of the worldwide Anglican Communion ahead of the once-a-decade gathering of its 800 bishops, which begins today, The Independent has learnt.
The Independent correspondent goes on to say that the Pope "does not support the defection of conservative Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church." The story cites the Pope's comments to reporters on July 13, during his flight to Australia for World Youth Day. Responding to a question about the Lambeth Conference, the Holy Father said that he hoped the Anglican communion could find a way to "avoid schisms and splits" by means of solutions "that also are faithful to the Gospel."

Notice that last phrase: solutions that are "faithful to the Gospel." The Pope was not giving a blanket endorsement to the policies favored by the majority of Anglican bishops, who have allowed the ordination of homosexuals and broken with the tradition of a male clergy.

Nor was the Pontiff discouraging Anglicans from exploring the Catholic faith. Quite on the contrary, Pope Benedict has expressed a keen interest in helping Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Holy See. It is true, no doubt, that the Pope would prefer not to see the Anglican communion descend into chaos. It is definitely not true that he would prefer to see Anglican unity restored on the basis of an agreement that would scorn Christian morality, reject Church tradition, and keep thousands of faithful Anglicans permanently separated from union with Rome.

How did the Independent's reporter have come to believe that the Pope is supporting the Anglican status quo? This paragraph is revealing:

Roman Catholic insiders say there are two motives behind the Pope's concerns. A decision has been taken within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that it is in its interests for the Anglican Church to maintain unity. Despite speculation about a group of conservative bishops breaking away to the Roman church, senior Catholics say such a move would be "premature", and that they are not encouraging defections. The other reason is that the Pope has developed a strong personal relationship with Dr Williams. "They get on, they are both theologians," a source said last night.
Some "Catholic insiders," presumably within or around the English hierarchy, have evidently decided that they do not want Anglican bishops joining the Catholic fold. So they have begun quietly telling reporters-- not just at the Independent but also at the Daily Telegraph, which published a similar analysis story today-- that the Vatican is not terribly interested in receiving converts from the Church of England.

We can only speculate as to why those "insiders" wish to send that message, and how much authority they wield within the Catholic Church? Do they really speak for the Vatican? Is that really what the Pope is thinking? It seems highly unlikely-- even absurd-- that the Pope is discouraging conversions. But the British newspaper reports are enough to make one wonder, and look for some reassurance. The last two sentences of that telltale paragraph from the Independent provide me with that reassurance. Yes, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury are both theologians (although not nearly at the same level of expertise). Yes, they have had a few cordial conversations. But if you want me to believe that Pope Benedict would discourage faithful Christians from entering fully into the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, on the basis of a personal friendship with another religious leader…

If you ask me to believe that, you'll convince me of only one thing: You don't know what the Pope is thinking.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


These friars conscious of global warming and their vow of poverty eschew the plane and made their own way to Sydney.


Assistant Master of Ceremonies: So having venerated the altar, you take the thurible and reverently, and precisely, swing it over the centre of the altar....

Pope: So the Australian bishops at tomorrows paintballing game plan to take the high ground!

Cdl Pell: If you come any closer, Son, I'll headbutt you!

Mgr Gaswein: People are always trying to hypnotize the Holy Father. It never works.

Not just Kittens

Apparently he didn't liked the kitten, so those nice Opus Dei people thought they would bring some alternatives. Actually the snake eat it! Don't tell the children.

Chinese at WYD

(CNS) -- In brilliant winter sunshine the old docklands at Barrangaroo became a moving sea of national flags unfurling above the heads of the 150,000 pilgrims who had come from different corners of the earth to celebrate one faith and liturgy.

Among the flags was one from China: About 60 pilgrims from mainland China attended World Youth Day in Sydney. Among them were priests not registered with the Chinese government who, for the first time in their lives, wore the black and white collar that identifies them as a Catholic priest.

The Chinese pilgrims said they were ecstatic to be in Sydney.

"We can feel the Holy Spirit working upon us," said one young woman. "All our young people feel the hand of God moving on them, healing them and making them stronger."

The pilgrims agreed to talk to Catholic News Service July 15, as World Youth Day opened, only if their real names were not used.

Father Li Jinxing said that for the first 20 years of his life, he had never met a priest.

"Priests were heroic figures, heard about but never seen," said Father Li, who said the Catholic faith was practiced secretly in his home under threat of government persecution. "Parents and grandparents kept the faith strong."

He said in China today "things are improving a little" but much still depends on the tolerance of local and provincial authorities as to whether the church has a legitimate profile. He spoke of China's two Catholic communities -- those that register with the government and those that refuse to register and continue to operate in a semiclandestine manner.

"The government allows too few seminaries to train the numbers of priests in the official church, so the underground church is by far the bigger one," the priest claimed.

As a 20-year-old in Hebei province Father Li attended a hurriedly convened secret Mass. Like all such gatherings, the liturgy was celebrated at lightning speed for fear of discovery. It was at the Mass that Father Li met his first priest and there, as he received Communion, that he realized his vocation.

Accompanying the Chinese pilgrims was a 22-year-old Texan who has been studying Chinese while working as a lay missionary; he did not want to be identified for fear of endangering his ability to work in China. His connections to the Arizona-based U.S. Catholic group Youth Arise North America ensured that the pilgrims' fares and registrations for World Youth Day were paid through a donation of $20,000 (U.S.).

"It is a small miracle in their lives," he said of the journey.

The Texan said that in his ministry he meets "people who are desperate to meet the one true God."

"Their grandparents were told that communism was the savior of the world. Their parents were told it (savior) was capitalism. They have been let down on both accounts," he said.

"When they learn that God is a father who loves and treasures them individually, they weep with the realization," he said. "It is a very emotional church; they feel the faith deeply in their hearts."

He said the Chinese pilgrims' experience in Sydney would be incalculable.

"These are young people who are leaders in their communities. My work is not about converting people, it is about raising up leaders in the indigenous church," he said.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Newman to be Exhumed

The Vatican has asked for the exhumation of the body of the Church of England's most renowned convert to Roman Catholicism as part of his progression towards sainthood.
The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman was buried in a small cemetery in August 1890 and Rome now wants his remains to be moved to a marble sarcophagus in the Birmingham Oratory.
The move, which is expected to take place by the end of the year, would enable people to pay tribute to him more easily and is part of the process of creating a saint.
The procedure has to be approved by Birmingham City Council and the Ministry of Justice, which was accused of "procrastinating" over the issue, but is expected to be rubber stamped in the next few weeks.

Cardinal Pell Opens World Youth Day

Cardinal George Pell, the leader of Australia's Catholics, celebrates mass on Sydney Harbour. The world's biggest Christian festival opened with a spectacular harbourside mass for up to 150,000 pilgrims taking part in World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney.

On Confirmation

An Orthodox infant being Confirmed immediately after Baptism.

I have a friend here, Fr Martin Thompson, a priest of Arundel & Brighton who is working in Albania, we tend to talk and talk. Last night we were exploring the Sacraments of initiation.

Until the arch-moderniser Pope St Pius X, the order of the sacraments was Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion. St Pius in order to encourage more frequent Communion allowed the reception of Communion before Confirmation, an innovation!
In our diocese 15/16 is the age for Confirmation, our previous bishop refused to allow any discussion about the age, now, for most of the diocesan clergy it is not an issue. Here in the centre of the city some years we have no candidates. The result is that of the 13 infants baptised in 1991, in this parish, only 4 have been Confirmed, notification is always sent from the place where confirmation takes place to the parish of baptism. This means that of those 13, only 9 are not fully initiated into the Church, their initiation is defective.
Could it mean that of 1.1bn Catholics in the world only a ¼ billion are fully initiated?

Orthodox Christians are given all the sacraments of initiation at baptism, including Confirmation, they are given Holy Communion by the priest wiping his finger on the inside of the unpurified chalice and placing it in the child’s mouth, or in some places are expected to return for communion within 40 days. In the East the priest is the usual minister of Confirmation.

The point is that all Orthodox Christians are fully initiated, whereas only the minority of Latin Rite Catholics are, to be provocative, the initiation of most Catholics is seriously defective. If we work on full initiation there are as many Orthodox as Catholics in the world!

In the West we do not see Chrismation or Confirmation as necessary, in the East Confirmation is seen as the necessary empowerment for the “life of Grace”. In my own diocese Confirmation has come to be seen as a sort of graduation ceremony, a presentation to the bishop, anointing, a handshake, and a few words, often followed by lapsation.

In West we see Confirmation as an opportunity for a programme of catechesis, in the East it is seen as a moment of sanctification, just the same as we see The Rite of Christian for Adults, primarily as a time of Catechesis or teaching rather than as a series of moments of sanctification, done through the Church but with God as the real actor.

To be honest, in the West Confirmation, and therefore the Graces that come with it, are not necessary, which perhaps says something about our understanding of the Holy Spirit.

One of my hopes for this Pontificate is that the order of the sacraments is restored and Baptism and Confirmation is seen as necessary, not only for Sanctification but the reception of the other Sacraments.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! Kittens

picture: different cat
Doesn't it just make you want to wring its ....., all right Mac and other cat lovers, I know pussycats are absolutely lovely and everyone should have six

This is from News Com. Australia and entitled "Pope Smitten by Kitten", if this is the standard of Australian journalism, I am not looking forward to the next 10 days or so.

Of all Pope Benedict's loyal followers in Australia, little Bella has every right to feel like the cat that got the cream.
The 11-month-old grey tabby kitten has been brought in to make the pontiff feel at home during his three-day stay at Kenthurst in NSW.
It will ease any bout of homesickness the pontiff would have felt being away from his most beloved of pets.
The Pope's love of stray cats is legendary in the Vatican, and his house in Germany is filled with cats and guarded by a cat statue.
Catherine Lennon said the Opus Dei followers at the Kenthurst Study Centre brought Bella into the retreat to keep the Pope company while he played the piano.
A talented musician and Mozart fan, the Pope will have access to a baby grand piano in a room decorated with paintings of Australian landscapes.
With no TV or extravagances, he will have a time to get to know his new friend.

Pope Arrives in Australia

The Pope arrived ion Australia yesterday and is now staying at an Opus Dei retreat centre for three days rest before he begins a gruelling schedule of Worls Youth Day events.

Whilst in Sydney pilgrims carry the World Youth Day Cross and the Icon of Our Lady through a street of Sydney after it arrived by ferry at Circular Quay, Australia, Monday, July 14, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI will attend the WYD event with tens of thousands of pilgrims from around the globe expected to at the various venues during the seven-day event starting July 15

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Letters from N. America

Fr Sean Finnegan is blogging from the US at the moment, have a read of his letters, they are very amusing.

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...