Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not the Spirit of Timidity

Notes for today's sermon:

At the dawn of Creation the Spirit hovered over chaos waiting for the Father to speak, He created man so that man can see the glory of Cod.

The Spirit speaks through the prophets so mankind can hear the voice of God.

The Spirit overshadows the Blessed Virgin, and God becomes Man so that man may see the face of God.

After the suffering and death of Christ, it is through the Power of the Holy Spirit that God raises him on high.

It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the fearful Apostles are given courage to burst out of the barred and sealed upper room to go and proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the people gathered in Jerusalem.

By his power they suffer persecution, by his power within a generation the Church is dotted throughout the Mediterranean.

By his power the early Christians receive the courage to witness to Christ, laying down their lives amidst torture an barbarity of the Roman Empire.

When peace comes to the Church, it is through his power earnest young men and women flood into the deserts to become hermits, monks and nuns intent on a life of prayer.

Through his power Christians evangelise Gaul, Britain, Ireland and the dark lands of Northern Europe.

Through his Power men like Francis and Dominic and their followers tramp the roads of Europe proclaiming the love of God.

Through his Power faith grows and develops building the great cathedrals and monasteries which build European culture.

Through his Power faith spreads to the Americas, to sub Saharan Africa, to Asia.

It is the same Spirit that gives courage to inspire the martyrs to be faithful even to death, to inspire those young priests to come to England to suffer the most brutal of deaths, "just" to offer the Sublime Sacrifice of the Mass.

The same Spirit that gave the 20th century such remarkable men and women as Theresa of Calcutta, Damian of Malacca, those countless martyrs in Mexico, Spain, Africa, under the Nazis, under the Communists in Eastern Europe, in China, in practically every part of the world.

It is the same Spirit which draws you here today, that led you to pray this morning, that will keep you faithful until death, that sustains your marriages, that enables you to live chastely, that draws you to feed the hungry, to visit the imprisoned, to forgive and to seek forgiveness, to grow in holiness and eventually to see God face to face.

It is this same Spirit that gives us courage, he is "not the Spirit of timidity" but the Spirit of courage.

Let us pray to receive the Spirit of courage to complete the work of Christ's salvation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thank you God for Haydn

Do you think they sing anything other Haydn Masses on Sundays in Eastertide in Heaven?

Tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of his death, the Holy Father is celebrating Mass, using one of the Haydn's Masses tomorrow, not sure which one.

Did you know he never composed anything without first saying the Rosary?

Deacon Needed

I've developed a passion about Solemn High Mass, it is about the Incarnation, about Divinisation, it is about the meeting of God and the high point of western art. It is the words and actions held sacred by generations of Saints and faithful people, the music and if you add the visual beauty, of fine vestments, of a building made for God's glory and consecrated by years of the prayer of His faithful, there is something quite mind blowing.

I had a meeting yesterday to discuss the music for Corpus Christi, as the obligation has been moved to the Sunday we thought we would have a High Mass on the Thursday evening, with a short procession.

We decided to settle on the Byrd Mass for Four Voices, isn't English Polyphony heavenly, all that soaring? Father Sean is going to be the celebrant, I am going to be subdeacon, first time ever, but we are still in need of a deacon, can anyone help out? A bed and dinner are on offer.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Irish Institutions Condemned 50 years ago

Which Irishman said

Speaking to a large audience at a public lecture in Cork’s Savoy Cinema he said, "You are the people who permit your children and the children of your communities to go into these institutions of punishment. You can do something about it." He called Ireland’s penal institutions "a disgrace to the nation," and later said "I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character." However, his words fell on stony ground.

He wasn't simply ignored. He was taken to pieces by the Irish establishment. The then-Minister for Justice Gerald Boland said in the Dáil that he was “not disposed to take any notice of what ........... said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them.”

answer here

Vote Christian!

Far be it from me to tell anyone to vote for a particular party in the European elections, but ... .
Catholics should vote according to a well founded conscience, sometimes I suspect they form their conscience according to cultural political beliefs.
Real Christians are a bit rare in politics today, it seems that in the current of Westminster sleaze allegations the number of practicing Catholic MPs seems a bit higher than it should be.
We should grateful for small mercies, at least it means we are spared the spectacle we see in the Americas, in Venezuela Chavez is trying to create his own breakaway Catholic Church whilst in the US Obama is trying to isolate the Church's bishops by promoting those Catholics whose consciences are formed by the liberal values of the Democratic Party.

Far be it from me to tell anyone to vote for a particular party in the European elections, but I was interested in this ....

The Christian Peoples Alliance is unashamed to declare its commitment to the principle of respect for life. God values everyone equally and so everyone from conception (fertilisation) to natural death deserves the protection of the law. Our objective is to develop a new caring, pro-life ethic that will embrace an end to all forms of violence, whether gun crime, domestic violence, the abuse of children, the violence of abortionism and embryo experimentation, sexual exploitation of women, people trafficking, slavery or cruelty to animals.

We will be firm advocates in the Assembly of a UK repeal of the 1967 Abortion Act. Significant new support will be given to maternity units, such as resources for people-focused birth plans and new mid-wifery and nursing posts. A family-support service will be funded to ensure the provision of a 24-hour, 7-day a week helpline for women and couples who are seeking a positive alternative to abortion. We will back higher child benefits and family friendly tax policies, such as transferable allowances.

It is vital that a child's needs are placed at the heart of the adoption process. For this reason, the CPA will ensure that adoption is normally confined to the traditional family unit involving both a mother and a father.
Maybe good Catholics should consider voting for the CPA, whoever you vote for, vote Christian! Our bottom line concern should be to stop the massacre of the innocents, the killing of children in the womb.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cardinal Schoenborn: another piece of controversial art

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna personally commissioned Alfred Hrdlicka to produce the sculpture of the Blessed Sr Restituta Kafka who was murdered by the Nazis during Second World War, she was declared a Beata by Pope John Paul II.

It was blessed yesterday by the rector of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

Last year outraged Catholics forced the Cardinal to close a controversial exhibition of homoerotic pictures of the passion and death of the Lord he allowed to be displayed in St Stephen's.

Evangelisation by Theophany

I was chatting to a man yesterday who began seriously thinking about becoming a Catholic after watching the funeral of Pope John Paul II. I remember as a child seeing television footage of the opening of the Vatican II and the funeral of Pope John, it was the first time I became aware of the Catholic Church. For him, for me, even as a child, these events spoke of the universality of the Catholic Church.

I am fascinated by how evangelisation takes place. Bede seems to indicate that one of significant events in the evangelising of the people of Kent was Augustine’s procession of singing monks from Ebbsfleet to what is now called Canterbury, carrying the icon of Christ on high. The story of the conversion of Russia, the ambassadors witnessing the liturgy at ‘Agia Sophia, “not knowing whether we on earth in heaven” has parallels. The early Jesuits used boats travelling up the Amazon filled with oboes flutes and violins with a picture of Christ or the Mother of God fixed in the prow to excite wonder in the Amerindians. In the Gospel of John Jesus “awakens faith” in the Jews by signs and wonders, he works a miracle and they are amazed, and their amazement leads to a desire to listen.

A few years ago I had some correspondence with someone who had given a sizeable donation to equip a floating chapel which sailed down the Dnieper stopping of at settlement for a few days or so, they had a procession, gave two or three talks on the faith, celebrated the liturgy baptising, confessing and communicating those who wanted the sacraments, gave a few icons and pamphlets and moved on, returning possibly the following year or even later. The Orthodox would perhaps explain it as Evangelisation by Theophany. It seems to be more or less the model adopted by St Francis Xavier or those recusant priests of penal times. It seems to have been what the Wesleys did, leaving people with a few songs rather than a medal or two.

Nowadays the process of initiation is really supposed to take three years following the cycle of readings from the Lectionary, often this shortened to a mere year. It is supposed to be accompanied by the various Rites of Christian Initiation, Exorcisms, Giving of the Creed, Inscribing of the Names of the Catechumens, Anointings and Scrutinies. I am tempted to follow this liturgical path but then I think of the Ethiopian, who met Philip who explained Isaiah to him baptised him and left.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Archbishop of Lisbon

The Shrine has an interesting piece on the Tiara which refers to the Patriarchate of Lisbon, who was entitled to various Papal ornaments, all scaled down a bit. I remembered seeing these photographs on Far Sight which show some of them in use, the fans, a triregnum (here, in mitre form), a portable throne, was also used, but I can't find a picture. What I find fascinating is the threefold chapter, pictured here Canon Priests and Deacons, reflecting the College Cardinals.
Anyone with more information?

Pope meets Mrs T

Mrs Thatcher was present at the public audience today and was introduced to the Holy Father. Why, I am not sure, especially as her health is failing. Even VIPs have to sit in the hot sun for over hour for a conversation scarcely longer than a few seconds.

Mainstream Christianity

Today is the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury.
We really know little about him. He is portrayed as converting England to Christianity, he did some of that but his important role was bringing England into communion with Rome, mainstream Christianity. England already contact with Christianity, especially in the west and the north through the Celtic Church.
It is easy for us to forget being a Catholic in communion with Peter is mainstream Christianity. Not only is that evident through sheer dint of numbers, a billion plus Catholics in communion with Peter. It is also pretty obvious from the texts of the Gospels that Peter is the Rock on which the wisest of men Christ built his Church, which would withstand the buffeting of storm and even the Power of Hell until the end of time. It is also obvious from the history of the Church that the centre of communion is the person of the Bishop of Rome.
Any contact with Christ is a good, Augustine knew that there was something better than the mere "good". The "best" for Augustine was communion with Peter, mainstream Christianity.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An alternative for couples who don’t want IVF

Remarkably for The Times there is a positive article about Natural Family Planning or Natural Procreative Technology (NPT).
In a "greener" society were younger people are rejecting drugs and other forms of invasive medical technology the Church really ought to be encouraging this with much more enthusiasm.

Happy St Philip's Day

If you want to avoid Jansenism develop a devotion to St Philip.
He is known as the second Apostle of Rome, contributing to that extraordinary movement of the city from scandalous corruption to a city of devotion and sanctity. He is the only saint to have written a joke book, he made religion fun. He gathered about him proud aristocratic Roman youths and taught them to laugh at themselves. Even saints like Ignatius of Loyola, he taught to smile at themselves.
There is something incredibly human about him, he could convert sinners just by holding them to his breast listening to his heartbeat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Champagne is the preferred drink of Catholics

I have got my teeth into Jansenisam at the moment. Today being Ascension Day I preached about where Christ has gone there we should expect to follow, I mentioned the wonder of a human body in heaven, that we are in this passing world but our true home is Heaven, that we are joyous exiles.

I said that Christ has opened wide the gates of Heaven, that if we co-operate with him becoming a Saint is easy, it is his free gift that is gratefully received, more than our efforts that matter.

I pointed out his wounds were the sign of his love, not our condemnation. His death a sign of his self giving for us, an expiation of our sins, not a further source guilt.

I reminded them of Sydney Carter's, "Heaven is eating foie gras to the sound of trumpets". (Someone just emailed me to tell me it was Sydney Smith). I know I went over the top a bit by suggesting champagne is the preferred drink of Catholics, that though the Church does ask us to do penance, it also commands us to feast. Feasting and High Mass, joyous processions, over the top Churches, a elated grateful constant thanksgiving for God's Grace, are the best defence against wicked Jansenism.

I said the Ascension should be celebrated with parties and feasting. I was a bit glad that no-one, yet, has come for the bottles of champers that I said were available from the Presbytery door for anyone who didn't have any for their Ascension Day party.

Canon Joseph Flanagan

Say a prayer for one of my predecessors "Fr Joe", Canon Joseph Flanagan, it is his anniversary today. He was much loved and still remembered here.
He would plod about the parish and invite peole he met in the street to become Catholics, saying things like, "Ah sure, it is a terrible, sour protestant face you have on you, why don't you think about becoming a Catholic?" It worked, he had converts by the score.
A few days ago a couple of parishioners went to the cemetry to tidy and pray by his grave. Several parishioners loved in him so much they left it in their wills that they should be burried as close to him as possible.
I remember him a little, he was a priest who was capable of showing his humanity.

Interview with Archbishop Nichols

The Times is still misquoting the Archbishop over his remarks about Irish abusing clergy needing courage to repent. I think it is interesting that the papers that followed that line were the ones who journalist's were sworn at by Peter Jennings, the Archbishop's present (or is it former) press secretary Mr Peter Jennings for reporting that some Bishops were not entirely happy with the Archbishops appointment. I think it was payback time.

Dominic Lawson has a typically hostile Times interview but there are one or two interesting bits and pieces.

Adoption agencies

“We have been pushed out unnecessarily. There are 400 adoption agencies in this country and all but 11 – the Catholic ones – would accept same-sex couples. I don’t think it was appropriate to push out those 11 – who had a record of placing the most difficult children successfully. It was a disproportionate response [by the government] and the victims are the children, not the church.”

What does Nichols think about Blair lecturing the church in this way, so soon after joining?

“I think it was extraordinary. I also think his political instincts, which are very strong, are not a good guide to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and a bit more reflection is needed as to the relationship between political instinct in general – and certainly his – and the nature of the truth that the church tries to put forward . . . Maybe he lacks a bit of experience in Catholic life.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Err, a connection with Ministerial Sleaze?

I didn't realise the Director of CaFOD got that much.
sorry the link didn't work earlier

Catholic Rome (Vocations)

That talented photographer, tour guide and theoloical adviser John Sonnen has produced this nice video of Catholic Rome; pictures of clergy and religious.

I recognise one or two faces.

I know it is so retro in the the UK to say it but don't young men and women -and even older ones- in habits and proper clerical dress give a tremedous sign of hope: "the Church is young!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Save the Liturgy, Save the World (from Jansenism)

The bleakness of the Irish institutions where abuse took place seems to reflects the theology of those who ran them. There is no Baroque exuberance, no time of festivity, just grinding tedium, where the norm is fast and penance mitigated by an occasional feast which is itself yet another penitential act. The pictures of these institutions show no sign of the Catholic sun shining, and black tea is served instead of good red wine, there is indeed only Calvinist gloom. One simply can’t imagine a sense of festival that is more than an empty mouthing of the Gloria in these grim mills.
People have suggested that Jansenism lies behind the appalling accounts of dehumanisation and abuse. What type of anthropology lies behind Jansenism? There is a heightened sense of sin, sin which cannot be overcome, but only beaten into semi-containment. There is a division of humanity into the saved and the damned, with the majority being damned. There is a tendency to see the poor, the weak as being damned, or at the very least as being beyond the influence of grace. Victims are damned, abusers are damned. Grace is given so sparingly, by a God who is mean with both love and Grace, and man, he is made in the same niggardly image. God is not merciful and forgiving but full of anger and rage, swift to condemn, waiting to punish. The wounds of the Son are not salvific but condemnatory, both victims and abusers are left without hope, the hell of now is but a foretaste of the hell to come. It is in this image man is created.
One has the vision of Jansenist liturgy celebrate perfunctorily in a damp chapel, poorly furnished with no joy, with no expense, with no understanding, with a mistrust of any movement of the heart. One is left with a vision of liturgy neither touching, nor being touched, by the divine. In the Usus Antiquior low Mass in every sense and in the Usus Recentior functionary anthropocentricity.
The rhythm of the Churches Liturgy, of Feast and Fast, is supposed to give us an insight into God, it is suppose to save a fallen world. It is meant to give us to celebrate what God has made us. In the Liturgy we join with our brothers and sister, the saints, united with God himself but if our theology of Gods has gone awry then so does understanding of man and so does our worship.
The phrase “Save the Liturgy, Save the World” is not a platitude or an empty slogan, the Liturgy forms our understanding of God, of the Church, of ourselves and of our neighbour. The Liturgy has become in the last 40 years reflective of what is deep inside of us, but in the first millennium the liturgy formed those who took part in it, hence in northern Europe monastic liturgists were the great missioners.

Pictures of the Installation

Here are some photographs from flickr of the installation

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Today Christians celebrate the feast of the Ascension of the Lord!"

"Today is the feast of the Ascension of the Lord", according to Archbishop Smith on Prayer for the Day. Listen here.
So Your Grace, why has it been removed from the calendar by all the Bishops but obviously not you?
Have you remembered to sign the e-petition for the restoration of Holy Days.

The Installation

(AP Photo/Sang Tan)
I watched the liturgy of the Installation (though Canons have stalls Archbishops have thrones) on Television. I was impressed, the overall impression was one of prayer. The music was quite splendid, I loved the new pieces by James McMillan and Colin Mawby. The use of the High Altar worked well, as did the use of the Ambo. Visually and audibly in was very rich, it was obvious that a great deal of care had been put into the liturgy, even some of the ancient treasures were brought out like huge cope morse - whose was it?
The only blip was those wretched tea-trays used by the servers to bring the Most Holy, from somewhere, to the clergy, that was horrible!
The sermon wasn't full of fireworks like Archbishop Dolan's in New York, the English Church is different, it was reasoned and challenging, it left one remembering the Liturgy, which is most important.
I was left with the impression that the Archbishop was stating a commitment to the Benedictine reforms, that the Catholic Church is capable of producing a national "spectacle", of producing and commissioning new works of art, it showed the Church as being alive.
It is perhaps unfair to compare todays event with the installation of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor but the two events demonstrate how much our liturgical understanding has moved on in the last few years (except for the tea trays).

Archbishop of Westminster: A guide to the ceremony

Music before Mass:
- Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit (J S Bach)
- Christe, aller Welt Trost (J S Bach)
- Grand Dialogue (Louis Marchand)
- Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist (J S Bach)

Before the Mass:
- Cathedral chaplains process to the sanctuary to sing Lauds together with the congregation
- Concelebrating priests, permanent deacons and seminarians enter the Cathedral
- Westminster canons leave the sacristy and take their places in the sanctuary
- The chapter sings Terce with the congregation
- The sanctuary procession enters the Cathedral
- Provosts and canons move from the sanctuary to the West Door

Solemn reception of the Archbishop:
- The choir sings "Tu es pastor ovium"
- Archbishop kneels at threshold of Cathedral
- A fanfare is sounded, the Archbishop is greeted by the Provost, who presents him with a crucifix, which he kisses
- The Archbishop sprinkles himself and the chapter with holy water
- Procession passes up the nave to the sanctuary, while the choir sings "Summae Trinitati"
- The Archbishop kneels before the high altar, while the Provost prays for him
Solemn installation of the archbishop:
- Bishop John Arnold reads the Apostolic Letter of authority from the Holy See
- The Provost leads the Archbishop to the throne, places him in it and reads the formula of installation
- Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor presents the Archbishop with the crozier
- The Provost and Canons greet the Archbishop, followed by other representatives of the diocese
- The choir sings "Benedictus Deus"
- The Archbishop of Canterbury greets the Archbishop
- All sing the hymn "All people that on earth do dwell"
- The Provost says the Collect

The Liturgy of the Word:
- First reading: Acts 22:3-16, read by Chris Nichols, sister-in-law of the Archbishop
- Responsorial psalm
- Second reading: Philippians 2:1-11, read by Jennifer Davies, secretary to the Archbishop of Birmingham
- Gospel acclamation
- The Gospel: Luke 10:1-9, read by Deacon Vincent Malone
- The archbishop proceeds to the pulpit to preach the homily
- The Creed is sung by choir and congregation
- The General Intercessions are read by Pamela Singh, member of the diocesan education commission, Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs, Bwalya Kangwa, member of the pastoral board, Mark Nash, of the agency for evangelisation, and Helen O'Brien, director of St Joseph's Pastoral Centre

The Liturgy of the Eucharist:
- The prayer of the gifts
- The preface: "Father, all-powerful and ever-living God"
- The Eucharistic Prayer: "We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving"
- The Communion Rite
- The sign of peace
- The motet, Ave Verum Corpus (Colin Mawby)
- The Communion Hymn, "Soul of My Saviour"
- Communion
- The Postcommunion
- The Hymn of Thanksgiving
- The Apostolic Nuncio, followed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, addresses the congregation
- Concluding rite
- The hymn "Praise to the Holiest in the Height"
- Archbishop and concelebrating clergy proceed out of the Cathedral

Organ music at the end of Mass:
- Marche Pontificale from Symphonie No 1 Op 13 (Charles-Marie Widor)
Prelude and Fugue in C (J S Bach)

from Catholic Herald site which will be updated during the day

Abuse in Ireland

I think every Catholic should read the terrible report on sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in Ireland.

In other parts of the world similar abuse took place in similar institutions, in Ireland all took place under the heading of the Church, which more or less ran Irish social services.

I am left wondering why such ghastly things should have happened.

Was "child care" pre-1980s like this everywhere; brutality, violence, humiliation were part of even the best schools.
Is it a fault of the Catholic Church as a whole?

Is it the particular fault of the the Church in Ireland?

Is it something to do with Irish culture in particular?

I am also left wondering whether there are other areas of society, in Ireland especially, but also elsewhere, where similar acts of abuse took place.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pastoral Musician of the Year

Call me naive but I thought people were joking, when I heard mention of it, but here is Alleluia ch ch, perhaps I should get out more, but then perhaps I should barricade the doors. Here are more saccharine droplets for you titillation or otherwise.

The person responsible has just been made "Pastoral Musician of the Year", amazing!

Corpus Christi

I found these photographs on New Liturgical Movements they are from a parish feast day in Malta. I remember being going to a feastday celebration there with another priest, he said "You can understand why immigrants from the Mediteranean lapse when they come to the UK".

We intend celebrating Corpus Christi on the Thursday, in the Usus Antiquior with a short procession, I have invited a priest who can sing to celebrate, I am looking for a deacon and subdeacon who know what to do, any offers?

This is the one advantage of the bishops moving the Holy Days to the Sunday, if you still object sign the e-petition now, I was no 171.

An Open Letter to Archbishop Nichols

Your Grace,
Tomorrow, by the Grace of God and favour of the Apostolic See, you become the successor of St Augustine and the eleventh Archbishop of Westminster. I join with every Catholic in England and Wales in offering you my best wishes and congratulations.

At this particular time not only the Catholic Church in England and Wales, but Christian’s as a whole and our nation is hungry for clear spiritual leadership, you can offer this.
I am reminded of Cardinal Winning, who was once asked a question by a journalist, who began, “As head of the Catholic in Scotland ...”. He replied, “Jesus Christ is head of the Catholic Church in Scotland”. If you remember that Jesus Christ is head of the Church in England Wales then all will be well. If you make sure that everything you say and do is turned towards Him, all will be well.
There is a crisis in the Church and nation, I see it as a crisis of Grace. In the Church and the nation there is a loss of a connection with God, we have allowed God to be sidelined, pushed to the edge. Even in the Church we have come to rely on our own efforts rather than His power. This has robbed the Church in England and Wales of a sense of Hope. We have got to the point where most bishops are managing decline, so many priests are expecting not to be replaced, our institutions: adoption societies, care agencies, schools are becoming more and secularised. We need you to tell us that shipwreck awaits us unless we turn to the Lord, and trust in His promises rather than our own efforts. Like the alcoholic in the gutter we need to discover, “the Power beyond ourselves”, that power is the Grace of God.
A problem with modern society is a sense of powerlessness of the individual, it is perhaps the cause of many of our social problems, such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, frustration with our political structures. For a you, as Archbishop of Westminster, this sense of powerlessness is actually advantageous, faith transforms our powerlessness into hope, not in ourselves, but in God.

A tag traditional Catholics use is “Save the Liturgy, save the world” is important. The Liturgy is the public expression of the life of the Church. It is the “source and summit of Christian life” the fount from which and to which everything flows. At the centre of the Liturgy is the adoration of God, worshipped with, in and through Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Here mankind is raised from enmity with God to the position of Sons, here Christ raises us to share in his own Divinity. A mundane liturgy robs us of the sense of Grace, of Divine Power. If we are merely celebrating our own community then we are conscious only of our failure. The Liturgy, properly celebrated gives us a new anthropology, a vision of mankind conjoined to angels and saints in communion with God Himself. If we have a vision of what we have become through the sacraments, in the Church we will become the leaven that the world, and our nation desperately needs.
With my prayers, etc...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prayers for Sri Lanka

Remember in your prayers Fr Angelo Jude, a friend of one of my Tamil parishioners, he went to collect a group of children from the North and was fatally shot in the neck.

Pray for his soul, pray for peace and justice.

Right and Wrong

It would be good to think that the corruption, sleaze and downright dishonesty that is freely oozing out of the Mother of Parliaments is a result of contemporary secularism but that is not true, European Christian Democrats could not only give our MPs and Peers a run for their money but win hands down.

What I do find worrying, and is perhaps derived from secularism, is the constant refrain of "it was within the rules". It is as if rights and obligations spring from the rule book rather than from another authority. Christianity, of course, talks about a morality that springs from something above and beyond the rule book. For a Christian, right and wrong come from God, and is written in the very nature of mankind, it might well be that original sin obscures man's ability to discern right or wrong but right and wrong are objective realities.

The problems our Parliamentarians face are the same as strike at the heart of British society as a whole: too much trust in the rule book and no trust in our own ability to make right decisions. Again and again from abortion to minding the gap on railway trains and other health and safety legislation the state feels obliged to step in and remind us not only of the rules but reinforces the ultra-pessimistic view of human nature. Today the lives of every British citizen is dominated by petty legislation. His moral imagination is stunted and he relies continually on the state not only to govern his behaviour but even his thinking. The state invades and hopes to remake his thinking about such basic concepts of family structures, human sexuality, even the beginnings and end of life. Right and wrong are imposed. The knock on effects are that we lose our imagination to do good in society. It makes us assume that the state, rather than us, are responsible for the care of the marginalised, of the elderly, the socially marginalised, the poor.

The alternative is of course equally frightening, there is an American blogger at the moment, recently married whose wife had a difficult pregnancy, the hospital bills threaten to reduce him to penury.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Three Holy Heirarchs

Saints Basil the Great Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom: The Three Holy Heirarchs. It is an icon I have had my eye on for sometime, it is pre-Revolutionary Russian, monastic school, the painting is very fine and delicate. My parishioners generously gave me a largish amount of money for my Jubilee which I put towards it, I wanted something tangible and beautiful, to remember such a happy day.

At some stage it is going to need a little restoration, there is a bit of burn from a an icon lamp but should be easily fixed, it is only on the background.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not in my backyard

"Father, I have X in my car, he has just got out of prison, I've got a tent, he stay in your garden".

I screw up my face, hunch my shoulders saying "no" but not wanting to mouth the word.

X has been in prison dozens of time, he drinks, he takes drugs, he steals, he can get violent. In his childhood he was unloved, and most probably unwanted, moving from institution to institution. He has lived in my garden before, the garden is tiny, he lived around the corner of a bay of the house, I didn't notice until the smell of human waste became overpowering.

What would Our Lady do? She wouldn't refuse the poor. Well I didn't actually say the word, "No!"

Lawrence gives the lead to a story in the Argus in which one of our rough sleepers was sheltering in a rubbish bin and was nearly crushed to death.

We don't know how to deal with people who don't fit in, if they are mad they can be institutionalised, if the criminal they can be imprisoned, if they are poor they end up on our streets. If they are like X the bounce around the system like something on a pinball table.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Favourite Gift

The picture is not of me but the chasuble is mine, my camera has broken down otherwise I'd put up my own picture. Michael Sternbeck got it to me on the morning of my Jubilee, it is wonderful, it arrived in a tiny box from Australia, Michael put up a post about it which I have just seen. The stole has a huge baroque fringe on it, it is modelled on a renaissance vestment, the type of thing St Phillip Neri, St Charles Borromeo or St Pius V would have worn, the fabrics are quite subtle.
Do check out Michael's site and blog, and if you want to commission something remember the Australian dollar is very weak against the pound, dollar and euro, so you will get bargain.
Apart from me, other customers are Pope Benedict, Bishop Peter Elliot and Cardinal Pell. Michael's work deserves to be more widely known and appreciated.

Roman Exhibition

Whenever I put up something on liturgical soft furnishing, the blog stats seem to rise. NLM has details of an exhibition in Rome of historic vestments. The picture above makes me think of a scene from a Filini's Roma.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Jubilee, a video

Sergey Budaev prepared this video of excerpts of the Jubilee Mass, the choir were our own schola and the Brighton Chamber Choir, directed by Jane Money, I heard them at their practice beforehand they were splendid, I didn't really hear them during Mass, too buy praying, so it is good to listen to them here.
It is also so good to see what the servers were doing, the excellent Dominic Scarbrough had less than an hour to show them what to do, most had never served in the Extraordinary form before.
I am very grateful to everyone who helped make this such a wonderful day, including my marvellous parishioners who organised the reception.
God is good to me!

Jubilee Homily of Fr Sean Fineagan: ‘Good Jesu: what will you do with my heart?’

Here is a link to Father Sean Finnegan's homily at my jubilee on the Carthusian Martyrs and Vocation. A priest of the diocese describes him as the best preachers in the country, I am always biased about my friends.

Remake religion? Remake Christianity?

Sando Magister has this very interesting analysis of the Blair Faith Foundation by (Mgr?) Michel Schooyans, it is part of a longer article entitled "Obama and Blair: Messianism reinterpreted".

President Obama can count on support for these programs from Tony Blair and his wife Cherie Booth. One of the aims of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the think tank founded by the former British prime minister, will be that of remaking the major religions, just as his colleague Barack Obama will remake global society. With this purpose, the foundation in question will try to expand the "new rights," using the world religions for this end and adapting these for their new duties. The religions will have to be reduced to the same common denominator, which means stripping them of their identity. This cannot be done without establishing international law as inspired by Hans Kelsen (1881-1973), and charged with approving all of the laws of sovereign nations. This system of law will also have to be imposed on the world religions in such a way that the new "faith" may be the unifying principle of global society. This new "faith," this unifying principle, must allow the advancement of the Millennium Development Goals. These goals include "Promote gender equality and empower women" (number 3) and "Improve maternal health" (number 5). We know very well what these expressions cover and imply. The launching of the Foundation's program has been announced with a campaign against malaria. This is part of goal number 6: "Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases." The announcement was made in such a way that subscribing to this campaign will mean subscribing to the Millennium Development Goals as a whole.

In fact, Tony Blair's project extends and amplifies the United Religions Initiative, which appeared several years ago. It also extends the Global Ethic Declaration, one of the main proponents of which is Hans Küng. This plan cannot be realized except at the price of the sacrifice of religious freedom, of the imposition of a "politically correct" interpretation of the Sacred Scriptiures, and of the sabotage of the natural foundations of law. Machiavelli had recommended that religion be used for political purposes . . .

The former British prime minister's highly propagandized "conversion" to Christianity, as well as his interview with the gay magazine "Attitude" in April of 2009, make Tony Blair's intentions concerning religion even more clear, beginning with the Catholic religion. The Holy Father's statements, especially about condoms, belong to another generation. The fresh "convert" does not hesitate to explain to the pope not only what he must do, but also what he must believe! Is he Catholic? Blair does not believe in the authority of the pope.

So now we are back in the time of Hobbes, if not of Cromwell: it is civil power that defines what one must believe. Religion is emptied of its distinctive content, its doctrine; nothing remains but a residue of morality, as defined by the Leviathan. It is not said that one must deny God, but from now on God has nothing to do with the history of men and their rights: it is a return to Deism. God is replaced by the Leviathan. It is up to this to define, if it wishes, a civil religion. It is up to this to interpret, if and how it wishes, the religious texts. The question of the truth of religion no longer has any relevance. Religious texts, in particular the biblical ones, must be understood in their purely "metaphorical" sense; this is what Hobbes recommends (III, XXXVI). At the most, only the Leviathan can interpret the Scriptures. Religious institutions must also be reformed to adapt them to the changes. Some religious figures must be taken hostage and made to approve the new secularized "faith," that of the "civil partnership."

The rights of man as understood in the realist tradition are here put to the sword. Everything is relative. There are no rights left, except for the ones defined by the Leviathan. As Hobbes writes, "The law of nature and the civil law contain each other and are of equal extent" (I, XXVI, 4). Nothing remains of the truth, except for what the Leviathan says. It alone decides how the change should take place.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jubilee: Mulier Fortis Pictures

click to enlarge

Jubilee Comments and "Presidency"

photo courtesy of Mac

Yesterday was a wondeful day, lots of cards, emails of congratultion, and from many of you lots of nice compliments in the combox, even rabid old priests like me like a bit of "affirmation".
Lots of my parishioners turned up; for many, some of the priests included, it was their first experience of the Traditional Rite.

I was interested in what people had to say, my parishioners are kind people, so they were all complimentary, even the few negative comments were preceeded or followed by something positive:

"It was lovely Father, can't we do it every Sunday..."
"It was lovely Father but I am glad we don't have it every Sunday."
"It was a bit like Glynebourne..., I wanted to clap"
A priest said, "I loved the music but I hated all that bobbing up and down."
"I wept all the way through it, it was like heaven."
"Convinces me how much I hate Latin."
"I liked it but I didn't feel I was participating."
A priest who had never been to a Traditional Rite Mass said, "It was incredible, the silences were pregnant".
"I was the first time I found I was praying at Mass."
"It was so majestic, just so different from Mass in my parish".
A man in his thirties said, "When I was younger it had always been rubbished by priests, and at school, and treated as a joke, thirty five mortal sins before you got your vestments on, a language you can't understand, that sort of stuff but it was wonderful... "
Another young man asked if he could learn to serve it.

For my self, I loved being able to pray during Mass, to be a priest, rather than a "presider". All the stress is on the director of music and the MC. The priest's interaction with the people is strictly controlled, the texts of his private prayer direct him continually to God. From the priest's point of view he is one who prays, who performs the ritual, yes, he celebrates, but I am not sure he "presides". I don't know how we translate this to the Missal of Paul VI, which continually uses the term "President".

After 25 years of priesthood, I am convinced I am called to be a priest, I am equally convinced I have serious difficulty with "Presidency", I want to be the servant of the liturgy, and of Christ, and of his Church, and of his people. I think the term is at odds with the Gospel.

In the Traditional Liturgy, the "bobbing about", I suspect indicates Christ Presides.
This video is the beginning of Mass, the sound quality isn't particularly brilliant. The organ pipes are right next to Nick who took the vid, but our schola were half the Church away.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

O Glorious Day

Before I go to bed a few snaps of my Jubilee celebrations, better pictures will available soon.

Some friends

Fr Aaron - despiked

Canon Tim - without the gerbil mozetta

Maria who looks after the house

My goddaughter with her mum, dad, big sister and little brother
Fr William in front of Fr David, old and kind friends.
More picture may be found on the Mac's blog later, or even Fr Tim's.

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...