Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
The big dip in the stats reminded me that it was Thanksgiving in the USA, so a belated:
Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!
As someone who hates eating turkey, my commiserations especially if you have plenty leftover. Having the ugly dry bird twice in 30 days must be a great penance, offer it up!
To those turkeys on deathrow who think they have been spared, eat, drink and be merry, for the time being!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
"'Purity?' they ask. And they smile. They are the ones who go on to marriage with worn-out bodies and disillusioned souls."
"There is need for a crusade of manliness and purity to counteract and nullify the savage work of those who think man is a beast. And that crusade is your work."
"Many live like angels in the middle of the world. You, … why not you?"
"When you decide firmly to lead a clean life, chastity will not be a burden on you: it will be a crown of triumph."
"Don't be such as coward as to be 'brave.' Flee! [temptation]"
"When you have sought the company of a sensual satisfaction, what loneliness afterward!"
"To defend his purity, Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, Saint Benedict threw himself into a thornbush, Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond . . . You . . . what have you done?"
"Don't say, 'That's the way I am—its my character.' It's your lack of character. Esto vir!—Be a man!"
"As soon as you willfully allow a dialogue with temptation to begin, the soul is robbed of peace, just as consent to impurity destroys grace."
"Temptation is necessary to make us realize that we are nothing in ourselves."
Last Sunday for the first for twenty years or so we had the Orbis Factor. Except in Lent and Easter we normally have Missa di Angelis. I am not one of those snobs who mutter: it is so late that it can't be considered chant, but I do think it does go on a bit especially during the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. A friend of mine likens it to knotweed, once it is in your garden it is almost impossible to get rid of it. Purists will be shocked but it is Orbis Fasctor until Christmas.
I love certainty of this music, the certainty of Divine mercy, the sense of the weight of the reception of Gods mercy. The word "eleison" has a connection with olive oil, the sinuous melody seems to be like thick olive oil penetrating into the soul, healing and cleansing. The rise on the last syllable of Christe seems to be about a drenching in the oil of mercy.
One of the nice things about the Traditional Rite of course is the Penitential Rite and absolution is a private affair, for the priest and server at the foot of the altar, a preparation for Mass, so the Kyrie becomes a triumphant proclamation in which the Christian prays and as he prays, he receives. The priest might mutter about his sinfulness under his breath but in the "congregation of the Redeemed" he and the congregation proclaims God's mercy. In the Novus Ordo the Penitential Rite, is the first part of Mass, when priest introduces it in his own words, it can become downright tedious, almost Pelagian.
“I would like to see this painting taken down from the walls of the National Gallery and placed in a Catholic church in London because it is a mistake to treat it as a work of art: it is a work of faith and piety, an expression of the Church’s life and a way into prayer.”
His point, I presume, was that taken out of the context of faith, works like "The Baptism" loose their meaning. An altarpiece only really comes to life when it is set over an altar and Mass is celebrated before it.
Jan van Eyck's, The Adoration of the Lamb only makes sense and comes to life when a priest is elevating the Sacred Host or Chalice before the lower panel. It is designed for that. When I last saw it in a glass box in the crypt of Ghent Cathedral, separated from its altar and the Mass, as beautiful as it was, it seemed like a suit of dead men's clothes.
Art created for worship becomes a mere relic of a half remembered past when it is removed from its context.
The Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery, the Medieval Galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum, are really little different from an Albanian Museum of Atheism; out of context paintings, chalices, relics even, become mere artifacts, which as the Cardinal points out was never the intention behind their creation.
That being said, the Church itself can't be without criticism. Westminster Cathedral itself came back to life during the celebration of Mass by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos earlier this year. For the fist time I saw the Benson altar "alive", rather than treated as something to be ignored or seen as an embarrassment.
In the last 40 years we have seen the Church turning its back on its artistic heritage. Ancient rites have been swept away, the orientation of prayer changed, that which which was held sacred has been dismissed as irrelevant and a great deal that was regarded as precious has either been consigned to the museum or the rubbish dump. Statues has become merely decorative, even chant is more likely to be heard at some New Age workshop or polyphony at a secular concert, albeit in a Church, with singers obscuring the altar rather than in the context of worship. The Church in recent years, by quite often literally turn its back on the sacred has been one of the greatest promoters of secularisation of Europe.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
What is life like if you or someone in your family is gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation? ...and what can your parish family do to make a difference?
Marriage and Family Life Project Office
Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales
39 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1BX
There are lots of references to various documents, mainly from US Bishops, ones which have come in for serious criticism by different Roman Congregations, and some which the US Bishops themselves have replaced.
As priest in Brighton I spend quite a bit of time trying to help people make sense of their sexual attraction, I really find this document troubling. We used to speak alot about "meeting people where they are at" which is fine, Christ does that but he calls us break from sin and to live a new Life in him.
As this document is issued by the Bishop Conference, one of course accepts that there is great eagerness to pass on the Catholic faith whole and entire, here there seems to be something missing, no-one is well served by partial truths. This document is aimed at supporting families with "gay or lesbian" members, but we are called to much more than that.
Article 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."
There is a great deal about "acceptance" of gay people in this document but nothing about Christ's radical call to "unite to the sacrifice of the [his] Cross", nor is there any teaching about the sinfulness of genital acts outside of marriage despite the fact that this document comes from the "Marriage and Family Life Project".
Compare and contrast this document this little document with Cardinal Biffi's radical vision which I linked to yesterday. It seems to lack something important, could it be a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Latin Mass Society's Annual Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral
Father Antony Conlon, National Chaplain of the Latin Mass Society, celebrated a High Mass of Requiem in in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 22 November. Father Tim Finigan was Deacon and the Sub-deacon was Fr Patrick Hayward. Gordon Dimon of the LMS was MC.
A congregation of about 600 heard the men of the Cathedral Choir sing traditional plainchant.
For the first time in many years, the Mass was followed by the traditional ceremonies of Absolutions at the Catafalque. Many in the congregation said afterwards how pleased they were that this ceremony had been reinstated.
Before Mass, a wreath was laid by Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the LMS, and other LMS Committee members on the grave of Cardinal Heenan in the cathedral nave in thanksgiving for the Cardinal’s efforts to preserve the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Father Antony Conlon read prayers for the occasion.
John Medlin, General Manager of the LMS, said afterwards: “The LMS is grateful to Canon Christopher Tuckwell, the Cathedral Administrator, for his friendly help in organising our ceremonies. We feel that the Extraordinary Form now has a settled part to play in the life of Westminster Cathedral and we shall be putting some ideas regarding improved provision to Canon Tuckwell soon.”
The legend says it was brought to Rome by St Peter and sent to Valencia for safety by Saint Lawrence, a native of that city.
It is important to be skeptical about relics, but this chalice has a richly documented history that reaches into the first millenium.
Research into the shroud, the titulus of the Cross, the house of St Peter in Capernium, indicate that we can be too skeptical.
A conference on the Santo Caliz has just ended in Valencia.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I have just found myself quoted on the Muniment Room.
Fr Ray wrote: "I really do feel for people who have to put up with this type of nonsense week after week. The rubrics, the Liturgical Law is to protect people's faith. I really do wonder if my faith would be strong enough to endure onslaughts of this kind of abuse week after week after week."Ttony then goes on to tell a story of being liturgical abused, what should he do?
The teaching of the great spiritual masters is that we should stand and fight against sin, ignorance, heresy, oppression everything infact, except in two cases:
- Against attacks on purity, it which case we should flee to the Cross.
- Against attacks on the faith, in which case we should flee to the Magisterium.
Ttony says if he didn't go to his parish church he would have to travel half an hour. If it was just him I would say travel, but he mentions a young daughter, he also has a duty her, sand a lesser duty to other parishioners, and the priest himself.
Now I know some of my brother priests will hate me for saying this, but...
If the priest is not being faithful to the Church, poor old Ttony has a duty first of all gently and with as much tact as possible to point out the problems to the priest, if this doesn't work the Gospels say he should take some other members of the community along with him and try again. If that doesn't work then obviously he has to take the matter to his bishop, if the bishop doesn't act and enforce the Church's Laws, "and all the trees have been cut down", then Ttony must go, or at least write, to Rome.
Priests have a duty, for which they are answerable before God himself, to preach the Catholic faith whole and entire, this includes the proper celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, I would prefer to be corrected by my parishioners or bishop, than punished by God.
Having said that, it is important to remember priests can have a bad day, or occasionally just be plain stupid or ignorant of Liturgical Law, or even be overworked and depressed, an increasing feature of many UK dioceses. Sometimes there can just be a clash of personalities or legitimate theologies, so it is always useful to check out one's own feelings with someone wise and gentle in the congregation.
Remember too that more flies are caught with a teaspoon full of honey than a barrel full of vinegar, priests have a right to expect mercy from their congregations.
Her psychological state now is fragile, her life revolves around her dauighter being able to go to the same school. This women is not quite typical but her story is not unusual amongst asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
The Home Office rules forbid them to work, even doing voluntary work to fill empty hours is problematic. Officially unable to work, it means people who are often the victims of violence, even of torture or of rape in their home country are forced into the dark recesses of our city. Suicide and self harm are not unusual. Vulnerable women sell the only thing they have left, young men get sucked into drug dealing and petty crime. Ill equipped with language, clothing and survival skills they are left to shift for themselves, in practice they are outlaws, afraid of deportation they rarely seek the protection of the Law.
We do our little bit Brighton Voices in Exile work out of my presbytery, each week they give food for a week to 40 homeless asylum seekers, there is a waiting list to get onto the list of the lucky 40, if you can help, please do.
I was pleased to read this, as mild as it is:
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has appealed for long-term immigrants should be given British citizenship.
Speaking on the BBC Sunday programme yesterday, Cardinal Cormac said there was a responsibility for the country to welcome immigrants to "appreciate the gifts that they bring and also make sure that in some way they are supported. A lot of the people who come are quite vulnerable and can easily be threatened and exploited. But I think also there is a point here about some migrants who come here and are here for years and they are undocumented."
He added: "After a certain time, a way should be given for them to receive citizenship here and so get the benefits of that."
The Cardinal;s comments came after the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced that advisers were studying the potential benefits of an amnesty for the UK's estimated 700,000 illegal immigrants. He said that allowing long-term illegal immigrants to earn the right to stay in Britain would see "hugely increased" tax revenues.
However, immigration minister Phil Woolas has said any amnesty could lead to more people being exploited by traffickers. And Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said an amnesty would cost the taxpayer at least £500 million in extra benefit payments.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
When I cooked up this little layover side trip, I had hoped to have time to run down and wave to the English Channel. But no, I didn’t get down there soon enough, I was pressed for time afterwards, and besides before Mass…it was cold! Afterwards, it was markedly more pleasant, despite a scattering of rain.
The ride down was pleasant, complete with sheep-in-field sightings and English-people-taking-walkies-in-the-field-with-their-dogs-in-the-morning-mist sightings as well.
So, Fr. Ray Blake’s parish, St. Mary Magdalene, is about a 5-minute taxi ride from the train station and about a 12-minute walk. (I know - I did both!). Brighton certainly seems like an intereting place - what little I saw of it. It’s a gorgeous little stone Gothic church, chock full of statues and art and just a strong sense of connectedness to the truth, to the Communion of Saints, to beauty. The congregation was diverse - young and old, babies, various ethnicities. The music was led by an energetic and quite capable schola that sang quite a bit of Latin, including the Introit of the day. The congregation joined in much of it, as well.
To me, it was a fascinating mix of the deeply, and deeply-felt tradition. There was precision, but no fussiness, great care with the ritual, which was expressive of deep prayer. There was incense. There were servers, young and old. People came and went. I have to say, there was almost an Eastern Catholic feel about it, of deep, prayerful worship which is active and engaged. It’s hard to explain - how can something be solemn yet lively, invigorating and energetic? That’s what happened here. Kudos to what seems like a wonderful parish, complete with the hospitality of coffee afterwards, which I was sorry not to be able to enjoy…
because I had not noted when I left the station what time the next train back up to Gatwick was, and had a 2pm flight to catch. As it turned out, I got there right in time (accompanined on the walk back to the station by a very nice fellow named John who chatted with me about the global financial situation. We agreed it’s not looking good.) - right on time for a train just about to pull out, the first of two times I would get that lucky break on Sunday…
I don't know if this authentic St Thomas or the fruit of te mind of the script writer of the Man for All Seasons.
More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
The Church's liturgy is planted thick with Laws, they guarantee authenticity. A woman was telling me recently about a celebration of Mass where the National Anthem was substituted for the Creed, I don't know if the last verse as included!
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.
O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On thee our hopes we fix:
God save the Queen.
Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen.
Not in this land alone,
But be God's mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And form one family,
The wide world ov'er.
From every latent foe,
From the assassins blow
God save the Queen!
O'er her thine arm extend,
For Britain's sake defend,
Our mother, prince, and friend,
God save the Queen!
Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the Queen!
I really do feel for people who have to put up with this type of nonsense week after week. The rubrics, the Liturgical Law is to protect people's faith. I really do wonder if my faith would be strong enough to endure onslaughts of this kind of abuse week after week after week.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Americans are campaigning to defend conscience in the face of the President Elect's intention to introduce the Freedom of Choice Act, which look as though it will remove the freedom of choice of medical professional not to take part in abortions.
Strange how the liberal left always wants to restrict conscience.
Friday, November 21, 2008
As a wet liberal what do I do about it? I can rage about it in the pulpit, I can repeat the Church's teaching and refer to the Gospel, talk about how it damages society. I must admit I was a little shocked by some US clergy who were reported to ban Obhama voters from Holy Communion. The more nuanced reports of course were saying, "if you voted for him because he was pro-abortion".
Most of the women who have spoken to me about having had an abortion do so because they were so terrified, often after rape. Divorce and remarriage are so much part of the warp and weft of society, and again often the marriages that fail are built on foundations of sand, and are possibly capable of annulment. One or two of my parishioners have undertaken a civil partnership, and when I have stated my displeasure they assure me the relationship is one of companionship, inheritance and care in old age rather than genital activity. Fornication doesn't seem to be a serious issue for most of the graduates of our Secondary Schools, the vast majority of those who I have married in this parish were living at the same address, it could be only the dirty minded might imagine a premarital sexual relationship.
What do I do, what does the Church do?
Pope Benedict XVI was the first to predict the crisis in the global financial system, a "prophesy" dating to a paper he wrote when he was a cardinal, Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti said.
"The prediction that an undisciplined economy would collapse by its own rules can be found" in an article written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became pope in April 2005, Tremonti said yesterday at Milan's Cattolica University.
German-born Ratzinger in 1985 presented a paper entitled "Market Economy and Ethics" at a Rome event dedicated to the Church and the economy. The future pope said a decline in ethics "can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse."
Pope Benedict in an Oct. 7 speech reflected on crashing markets and concluded that "money vanishes, it is nothing" and warned that "the only solid reality is the word of God."
The Vatican's official newspaper, l'Osservatore Romano, on the same day criticized the free-market model for having "grown too much and badly in the past two decades."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
When the Cardinal was our bishop, I thought he had most of these qualities:
Enjoys being a priest
Likes his priest
Supports his priests
Works with his priests
Is willing to spend time with his priests
Listens to his priests and answers their concerns
Cares about his priests
Realises his priests are his co-workers
Encourages vocations to the priesthood
Gives hope to his priests
We priests are easily satisfied.