Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adult Faith

In the last few decades, the expression ‘adult faith’ fede adulta, 'grown up faith' has become a widespread slogan. It is often used in relation to the attitudes of those who no longer pay attention to what the Church and her Pastors say — which is to say, those who choose on their own what to believe or not to believe in a sort of ‘do-it-yourself’ faith. Expressing oneself against the Magisterium of the Church is presented as a sort of ‘courage’, whereas in fact not much courage is needed because one can be certain of receiving public praise.

Instead, courage is needed to adhere to the Church’s faith, even if it contradicts the 'order' of today’s world. Paul calls this non-conformism an ‘adult faith’. For him, following the prevailing winds and currents of the time is childish.
For this reason, it is part of an adult faith to dedicate oneself to the inviolability of life from its beginning, thus radically opposing the principle of violence, in defense precisely of the most defenseless.

It is part of an adult faith to recognize the lifelong marriage between one man and one woman in accordance with the Creator’s order, re-established again by Christ. An adult faith does not follow any current here and there. It stands against the winds of fashion.
Benedict XVI

Homily - First Vespers of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
June 28, 2009

Pope to Metropolitans

Bishops are called to watch over their faithful not like "a prison guard," but with the same love and concern that God watches over the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"To watch from God's perspective is to watch with that love that wants to serve the other, to help the other truly become him- or herself," the pope said June 29 during his homily on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

During the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, 34 archbishops from 20 countries knelt before Pope Benedict and received a pallium, a woolen band worn around their shoulders as a sign of their authority and their responsibility as shepherds.

The prelates named in the past year to head archdioceses and receiving their palliums included: Archbishops Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit; George J. Lucas of Omaha, Neb.; Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis; Timothy M. Dolan of New York; Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans; J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia; Pierre-Andre Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec; and Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England.

Participating in the Mass were Orthodox representatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. The patriarch sends a delegation to the Vatican each year on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Vatican's patrons, and the pope sends a delegation to Turkey each year for the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the patriarchate.

In his homily, Pope Benedict said the First Letter of St. Peter describes Jesus as "the bishop of souls."

"This means that he sees us from God's perspective. Watching from God's point of view, he has a vision of the whole and he sees dangers as well as hopes and possibilities," the pope said.

Those appointed to serve the church as bishops must model their ministry on that of Christ, working to ensure that everyone comes to know God and to be part of the community of faith, he said.

Watching over the faithful, the pope said, "certainly does not mean surveillance as is fitting for a prison guard. Rather it means seeing from on high, from the heights of God."

The words "bishop" and "shepherd" are almost interchangeable, he said.

"To shepherd the flock means to be careful that the sheep find the right nourishment," which for Christians is the word of God, he said. Shepherds also "must know how to resist enemies, the wolves. He must lead, indicating the path and preserving the unity of the flock," the pope added.

Bishops also have a responsibility to help people see the Christian faith not "simply as a tradition, but to recognize it as the answer to our questions," he said.

But to discover the relevance of faith for everyday life, the pope said, it is not enough just to think things through or to hear explanations.

"We need the experience of faith, a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith must not remain a theory; it must be lived," he said.

Pope Benedict said the beginning of St. Peter's letter cites the goal of Christianity as the "salvation of souls," a term the pope said is seldom used today and one that sounds strange to modern ears.

The terminology makes some people think Christians are dividing the human person into separate components of body and soul, while others think it focuses so much on the individual that it loses sight of the responsibility to protect and save the whole world.

"But this has nothing to do with the Letter of St. Peter. His zeal for witnessing hope and responsibility for others characterizes the entire text," he said.

"Without the healing of souls, without healing people from the inside, humanity cannot be saved," the pope said.

"It is obedience to the truth that makes the soul pure. And it is living with lies that pollutes it. Obedience to the truth begins with the little truths of daily life," he said, but it extends to "obedience without reservation to the truth itself, which is Christ."

Pope Benedict told the archbishops that, like Jesus, they are called to carry the lost sheep around their shoulders and bring them back to safety. The lost sheep are not just members of the Catholic Church who may have lost their way, but are all of humanity, he said.

Atlanta's amazing growth

Immigration is obviously good for the Church in the US, newly ordained priests are frequently born abroad or are the sons of immigrants, in some southern diocese Spanish is as widely used as English,

I was struck by this account presented by Rocco Palmo of the diocese of Atlanta under Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory. Palmo doesn't mention immigration, he speaks of the cause of considerable growth as being orthodoxy, which for a one time Tabletista is significant.

In a recent list of the Stateside church's "hot spots," the archdiocese of Atlanta topped the bunch -- and not just alphabetically, either."The diocesan staff are openly disciples," the cite read, "orthodox, wonderfully creative and not driven by fear.
"Suffice it to say, the fruit is considerable -- in the heart of the Bible Belt, the North Georgia church has seen a more than fivefold increase in membership over the last two decades, exploding from 150,000 in 1990 to within striking distance of 800,000 today... and -- as if that wasn't enough -- a concurrent increase by half of the diocesan presbyterate (121 in 1990 to 181 today), with eight more priests ordained last weekend... and, what's more still, they can't build or expand the schools quickly enough.
Oh, and -- while we're at it -- over 2,700 adults were received into the local church there over the last year.If all keeps up -- and by the looks of it, the rate of the rise just keeps accelerating -- it won't be long before a red-bird comes home to Peachtree Street. In the meantime, though, earlier this month the Southeast's second-largest local church (after Miami) hosted another edition of what's become its marquee event: the Eucharistic Congress, which (again) grew by half this year to an estimated attendance of some 30,000 and, in its 14th year, has entered the rarified realm of Stateside Catholicism's largest gatherings alongside Los Angeles' Religious Education Congress (40,000 yearly) and the 100,000-plus who throng to suburban Chicago's Maryville Shrine every 12 December for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In its last edition, the local Georgia Bulletin devoted the entire shebang to the weekend-long event -- its closing Eucharist presided over by the patron saint of the press -- so read up....Meanwhile, in an even more recent development, against his protests,
The Wilt has gone a-Twitter.

Now I am on Gloria

Fr Tim last week me this week. Trouble is the original story about the Ark was wrong.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Plans

present (click to enlarge)

future (click to enlarge)

Today we had a site meeting with a couple of members of the Historic Churches Committee in preparation for a presentation to the whole Committee next month. On Friday we wrote formally asking permission to spend £100,000 on the first phase of our restoration project. We have half of the money, through scrimping and saving over the last five years. Small inner city parishes never have much money. my predecessors sold off any assets we had to prevent the place falling down. Though a few of our parishioners are very generous, many are students, immigrants, unemployed, permanently sick so the majority give less than £1 a week. So I hope that we will be able to repay the diocese within the next five years and begin Phase 2.
The Phase One concerns Health and Safety issues stripping off the linoleum, which is fast becoming a trip hazard and sealing the floor, adjusting the floor levels raising the altar and moving it back, we can't put it back against the wall but we can give it a sense of belonging to the reredos. We also want to move the font to the back of the Church, and the organ console to the organ gallery.
The other part of Phase One is the lighting, in the seventies the system was condemned and replaced by a temporary one, now the temporary system has more or less come to the end of its useful life, we used to be able change bulbs with ladders but this is now illegal so we really have to hire a scaffolding tower everytime a bulb blows as a large are of Church gets plunged into darkness.

We would have liked to put in underfloor heating but we wont be able to afford it.

Phase Two will concern the structure of the church, most of that is getting the hideous grey paint off of the stone and plasterwork, unfortunately it seals moisture into the fabric of the build which causes sructural damage.
Phase Three will be moving carvings to face the altar, restoring the pulpit, it was lowered by a foot or so in the seventies. Subsequently we will need to do work on the beautiful Hardman windows.
If anyone wants to donate, send a cheque to St Mary Magdalen Appeal, 55 Upper North Sreet, Brighton BN1 3FH, if you are a UK taxpayer it can be giftaided, unfortunately our diocesan basnking system isn't up to Paypal.

Icon of Peter and Paul

Icon of St Peter and Paul, I found this in a London shop, it was almost split in two. It is 18th century Russian, interestingly the clothing is very finely painted (click to enlarge) in the traditional manner, the faces are slightly crude, the landscape and the city of Rome in the background are very westernised, it seems to have been worked on by three different hands, at least, which was quite typical of Russian icon factories. Many small towns in Russia produced icons on an industrial scale.

Peter & Paul in Rome

More pictures to follow.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Archeology of St Paul discovered

NLM reports the discovery of a 4th century icon of St Paul discovered last week. It was reported in L’Osservatore Romano last Friday 19 June in the course of restoration works in the Roman catacombs of St. Thecla on the Via Ostiensis, not far from the burial place of St. Paul.
During the homily, today at the close of the Pauline year the Pope revealed that a special minuscule probe has been inserted into the sarcophagus of St. Paul, which has never been opened, and a radiocarbon examination of a very small piece of bone retrieved in this way, along with traces of precious vesmtents and incense, has shown that the bones belong to a person who lived between the first and second century. In the words of the Holy Father: "This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul. All this fills our mind with deep emotion."

Angelus: End of The Pauline Year

The Holy Father noted that the Apostle Paul was an example of a priest totally identified with his ministry, conscious of carrying an incalculable treasure, that is, the message of salvation. The Pope went on to say that the priest has to be all to Christ and all to the Church, dedicating himself with love, like a faithful bridegroom to his bride.

Tu Es Petrus

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ark of the Covenant to go into a museum

Patriarch Abuna Pauolos

This link was sent to my by a Coptic Orthodox friend, with a note saying, "typical of those Ethiopians, that which God veiled with the cherubim and smoke they want to display to the gaze of mortals in IN A MUSEUM!!!!"
I have a certain sympathy I hate seeing saced objects in museums.
This may or may not be "the" Ark, but it is vernerated as such by countless Orthodox it is kept out of view in an Ethiopian church, touched and viewed only by bishops. Other Ethiopian churches have their own "icon" of the Ark which is treat with great veneration.

The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia says he will announce to the world Friday the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world's most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact, which he says has been hidden away in a church in his country for millennia, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos.

Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, told the news agency, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries."

The announcement is expected to be made at 2 p.m. Italian time from the Hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. Pauolos will reportedly be accompanied by Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Sellassie and Duke Amedeo D'Acosta.

"The Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia for many centuries," said Pauolos. "As a patriarch I have seen it with my own eyes and only few highly qualified persons could do the same, until now."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Battles lost or preparing for war

I was talking with a priest a few days ago, we were talking about the vast amount of literature that comes through the door every month from anti-abortion groups, a youngish catholic bookseller said, "What is the point? The battle is lost in the UK , far more useful to turn our efforts to the liturgy and re-shape the Church".

I had to concede the battle is lost in the UK, and for that matter most of Europe, over abortion, over the family, over adoption. Catholics are increasingly finding it difficult to work in the health service, in certain areas of social services, soon maybe in education. Many of our flagship charities seem to be less than faithful to the magisterium. We are fighting a rear-guard action to save our schools, if militant secularists remain in government that battle could soon be lost too.

Following the military analogy further, it seems that our soldiers are few and ineffectual, many have given up any sort of fight, and are actually confused which side they support.

A good commander might think the only option might be to retire from the field, rally those troops he can, retrain them and do all he can to turn them into a small efficient highly trained crack force for a new war.

I was amazed at Cherie Blair being chosen to front the Apostleship of the Sea Appeal but Mrs Blair is not an exception, indeed she represents the majority of Catholics in the UK, who not only personally do not support the Church's teaching, they are not so much ignorant of it but actually regard it as oppressive, a denial of human rights and wrong, even evil.

The Pope before his election had predicted a smaller but more committed Catholic Church in Europe. There is a need for a new ecclesiology to deal with a new situation. Vatican II met to deal with the situation following World War II, to bring the Church into the then Modern World. The contemporary situation is significantly different, the Church is different, no longer do we hold significant tenets of faith and morals in common with our seperated brothers and sisters, post-Christian values have superseded those which most of Europe held in common, the Church is no longer welcomed as a significant partner in the public forum.

The documents of the Council tended to see the Church and Christian as the leaven in the lump, or the salt giving savour but the reality but the experience of the last forty years is the lump stifles the leaven and the salt has lost its savour. The glorious vision of Gaudium et Spes in reality seems only to have weakened the Church.

Where do we find a new ecclesiology for today? I suspect the Holy Father sees it in an the old pre-Concillior theology, strengthening notions of Catholic identity, strengthening our understanding of the priesthood, of the Mass, of devotion, of a personal relationship with Christ. Fr Tim reports on rumour of a new motu proprio outlining discussion with the SSPX, part of which will be the clarification of the how the Council should be interpreted in keeping within the perennial tradition of the Church.

Aftermath of Sri Lankan War

Chennai (AsiaNews) - Six Catholic priests are kept in isolation in the camps of Sri Lanka. The bishop of Jaffna has requested their release, but has not yet received any response from the Ministry of Defense.

A humanitarian worker working in the fields in which 300 thousand displaced persons live tells their story and denounces the disappearance of three government doctors who had circulated the figures of the dead during the last days of war between the army and Tamil Tigers. There is no news of their fate.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Metropolitans who will receive the Pallium

Zenit lists the names of the Metropolitan Archbishops who will receive the Pallium on Monday, the Feast of St Peter and Paul.

Ten of the archbishops from North America:

-- Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Michigan
-- Timothy Dolan of New York
-- Robert Carlson of St. Louis, Missouri

-- George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska
-- Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, Louisiana

-- Pierre-André Fournier of Rimouski, Quebec
-- John Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia

-- Domingo Díaz Martínez of Tulancingo, Mexico
-- Víctor Sánchez Espinosa of Puebla de Los Angeles, Mexico
-- Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico.

Seven of the archbishops are from South America:

-- Ismael Rueda Sierra of Bucaramanga, Colombia
-- Manuel Felipe Díaz Sánchez of Calabozo, Venezuela
-- José Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, El Salvador

-- Sérgio da Rocha of Teresina, Brazil
-- Maurício Grotto de Camargo of Botucatu, Brazil
-- Gil Antônio Moreira of Juiz de Fora, Brazil
-- Orani João Tempesta of San Sebastián do Río de Janeiro, Brazil.

Eight are from Europe:

-- Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England
-- Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien, Poland
-- Carlos Osoro Sierra of Valencia, Spain
-- Braulio Rodríguez Plaza of Toledo, Spain

-- Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Italy
-- Salvatore Pappalardo of Syracuse, Italy
-- Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio of Lecce, Italy.
-- Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of the Latin Archdiocese of Lviv, Ukraine.

Six are from Africa:

-- Philippe Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
-- Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria
-- Joseph Yapo Aké of Gagnoa, Ivory Coast

-- Paul Mandla Khumalo of Pretoria, South Africa
-- Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani, Congo
-- Philip Naameh of Tamale, Ghana.

Finally, three are from Asia:

-- Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand
-- Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka
-- Anicetus Bongsu Antonius Sinaga of Medan, Indonesia.

Fr Reese on Caritas in Veritate

Father Thomas J. Reese, S.J. erstwhile editor of America Magazine speculates about the Pope's forthcoming encyclical on Caritas in Veritate Charity in Truth in today's Washington Post.

He says:

Conservatives will be shocked and disappointed by the encyclical, which will reflect Benedict's skepticism toward unbridled capitalism based on greed. I suspect that will bre true, in the US at least, Catholics on the otherhand will most probably be delighted by a challenging restatement of Catholic Social teaching.

Reese quotes the Pope from a statement in February:

"It is the Church's duty to denounce the fundamental errors that have now been revealed in the collapse of the major American banks. Human greed is a form of idolatry that is against the true God, and is a falsification of the image of God with another god, Mammon."

He says the Pope has given hints about the content of the encyclical.

It will be heavy on concern for the poor, especially those in the Third World who are not responsible for the crisis but are unduly suffering from it. Undoubtedly it will also develop the pope's concern about the environment. As he has already said, "Starvation and ecological emergencies stand to denounce, with increasing evidence, that the logic of profit, if it prevails, increases the disproportion between rich and poor and leads to a ruinous exploitation of the planet."

I agree with Reese as far as he goes but I suspect that the Holy Father may also shock liberals by speaking about the purpose of mankind, the family and contraception and abortion, and our own need for personal conversion to the Truth. I am not sure Fr Reese has paid much attention to the documents title!

Lou Tseng-Tsiang/Dom Pierre Célestin

There is a fascinating story about a Chinese former Prime Minister, who ended up by becoming a Belgium Abbot, read it in the Catholic Herald.

Bishop and Priest

The thing that binds the Church together, and makes it rather messy too, isn't a military type command structure, it is actually simply affection.
Some of you who comment on this blog suggest the Pope, or bishops, or priests should "put the boot in" as often as possible, sometimes that is absolutely unavoidable, but that can't be the norm in any organisation or society, least of all in the Church of Jesus Christ.
I was touched by this photograph, which is uncaptioned, of Archbishop Dolan of New York, presumably a young priest (presumably) at his ordination. It sums up the father/son relationship of bishop and priest which lies at the heart of the Church.
Archbishop Dolan has a difficult task, whilst many had great affection for Cardinal Egan, his predecessor, their were often tensions on at least a couple of occasions these became public and splits in the diocese between bishop and priests sapped morale. Rocco Palmo reports on initiatives the Archbishop is taking to build up relationships between himself and priests.
If the Year for Priests is to bear fruit one aspect that is crucial, is bishops trying to build bonds of affection between themselves and their priests, especially in today's Church were priests can so often be left feeling overwhelmed by diocesan bureaucracy.
I have a friend from a northern diocese who was so delighted when his new bishop made time to sink the best part of a bottle of scotch with him and a few other priests one evening - hard on the liver but soft on the heart. Vatican II seems to see that a bishops main priority is his relationship with his priests, I am sure for many bishops this can be a crucifixion, but "strengthening the brethren", imitating Christ the High Priest who spent most of his time eating with and talking to his Apostles can't be a bad thing for the Church.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dont be resigned to empty confessionals (2)

Sandro Magister says the Pope and Cardinal Martini both feel Confession needs to be revitalised. I think the same problem of participatio actuoso exists in the Confessional as it does in the Mass. When I was at the seminary we were occasionally admonished not to make "shopping list confessions" or worst told to discourage people from doing it.

I make shopping list confessions.
Worst, unfortunately the confessions I make today are the same, more or less, as I made twenty years ago. One priest I used to go to confession to used to say, "Same old sinner, same old sins, same old God, same old forgiveness." Most peoples confessions are the same year in year out, hopefully we learn to love God more and hate sin more, rarely do we find new sins to commit.

Confession should lead to conversion but there are two types of confession, those which are about grave sins, often after years of inner struggle and being absent from the sacraments, involving the direct breaking of the commandments: killing often in the form of abortion, adultery, serious theft etc. However most practicing Catholics hopefully make regularly and frequent confessions, JPII recommended monthly, the Code of Canon Law says priest and religious should go at least fortnightly, which tends to mean there is very little that is exciting, it is the slow grind of lifelong conversion, the slow drip drip of the Holy Spirit.

Some priests find this type of confession tedious, and yes, it can be like being pecked to death by ducks. Not everyone comes to confession with tears and trembling, and even if they do it is quite likely they will be back the next week or month with the same sins, and with or without the same tears and trembling. Whats wrong with that? That is what I do as a penitent, sometimes I manage to overcome a sinful habit for a while, then it comes back. The important thing is I renew my sorrow for sin and my love for Christ and allow him to deal with my cold hard perverse heart.

St Theresa of Avila says , "God judges our hearts, not our actions", the more willing we are to confess the more likely it is our heart is placed at Christ's feet, even if in reality we behave like naughty toddlers, hiding at the end of the garden for a while, the important thing is we come back to the pulsating love of the Heart of Christ.

The confessions I have problems with are, "Last Easter/Christmas was the last time I was at confession, I have missed Mass twice and I might have been uncharitable a few times, for these and all my sins I am truly sorry....". This is where there seems to be a lack of participatio actuoso, an engagement of the heart, but apart from encouraging more frequent confession and perhaps gently running through the commandments, I am not sure what one can do, except preach about how much God loves us and emphasise the importance of species and number. What no priest has a right to do is to discourage anyone seeking God's mercy.

Don't be resigned to empty confessionals

It is more than significant that the Holy Father having placed the Cure d'Ars at the centre of his letter to priests, then immediately visits the shrine of Padre Pio.
What these two saints hold in common is the long hours they both spent in the confessional.
Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this sacrament. In France, at the time of the Cure of Ars, confession was no more easy or frequent than in our own day, since the upheaval caused by the revolution had long inhibited the practice of religion."Yet he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the Sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence.
Pope Benedict's letter to priests

It strikes me that what is significant about these two saints not so much that they were obsessed with sin but with God's overflowing, all consuming mercy.

The Pope quotes the Cure as saying, "It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him."

There is crisis in the confessional, there is a confusion about what the role of the priest is in the confessional. Primarily, he is one who absolves. All the good confessors I have ever been to have all been rather short on there own words but able to communicate that God loves me.

When I go to confession I feel too vulnerable, too naked, too ashamed of my sins to take in a sermon. I want is to get it over as quickly as possible, I search out confessors who give out mercy freely, liberally.

The Father in the story of the Prodigal Son, is more concerned about getting the sandals, ring, and best robes on the returned son and having the fatted calf killed, than anything else. Indeed the formula that the Son has prepared on his journey home from the distant country is hardly heard, the substance of the confession, "Father I have sinned against Heaven and ...." which could never really sum up the son's sins is not really heard. The Cure d'Ars could have speaking about this when he said, "I will tell you my recipe: I give sinners a small penance and the rest I do in their place." We priests need to remember that we can bring about true repentance through our own prayer and penance rather than tedious admonitions.
Indeed, God has already done most of the work before the penitent has even got to the confessioonal.

The Council of Trent wisely tells us that we should confess sins according to "number [as far as possible] and species" there is a great wisdom in that formula, it makes penitents realise quite what is a sin and what is mere guilt, what is an offence against God which is what the confessional is about and what is often the psychological effect of that offence. Every priest can deal with sin and forgiveness and delivering God's mercy, dealing with someone's guilt is possibly a bit more specialised and is really in the realm of spiritual direction, often the two overlap, but the confessional and the Sacrament of Penance is primarily about forgiveness.

If we are to overcome the crisis of empty confessionals we need to address two things:

1 The tremendous offense sin is against God's infinite love.
2 The extraordinary desire God has to forgive.

The example the Pope draws from the life of the Cure d'Ars is that the priests personal prayer life and the purity of his love for God are essential for this.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chartres Pilgrimage: 2009 Video

This was put up on YouTube today, there have been four views at the time of posting, it deserves more! It is the reflection of an American, John Rao, an Associate Professor of History at St John's University in New York.

This the blurb

The Association Notre-Dame de Chrétienté organizes every year at Pentecost a pilgrimage from Notre-Dame de Paris to Notre-Dame de Chartres (France): three days to live and build the Christianity of the third millennium. Covering within three days a distance of approximately 65 miles, the pilgrims walk in chapters. The pilgrimage has about 160 chapters each comprising around fifty pilgrims from all over France and even abroad (USA, Great Britain, Poland, Canada, Spain, etc. ...). Each year, approximately 8,000 to 10,000 pilgrims, walk to the Marian shrine of Chartres, expressing the condition of Christian life which is to be a long pilgrimage and a long walk to paradise...

Photographs of Fr Matthew's First Mass

Annie has some photographs of Fr Matthew Goddard's First Mass at West Grinstead, the vestments are the white version of the Indian set, I borrowed from our Cathedral. The picture shows the Sacred Ministers and those of us who attended in choro.

Liverpool Cathedral: Lutyens version

NLM has these links fom Pathe News to what it describes as the "Greatest Building that Never Was", the Lutyens version of Liverpool Cathedral.

The model of the Cathedral, from which the last two pictures are taken, was on display in 2007 in the Walker Gallery at a special exhibition, and is destined to be displayed in 2011 in the Liverpool Museum. In the 1930s Lutyens design was heralded as the second largest cathedral in the world.

Cherie to front Catholic appeal

The US Bishops have been trying to distance Catholic organisations from pro-abortion and pro-contracepting politicians and other public figures. In the UK we are a little more relaxed, Mrs Cherie Blair is to front the appeal for the Caholic charity the Apostleship of the Sea.
See here

Monday, June 22, 2009

Society of St. Catherine of Siena: A Graduale Parvum

I had an email from Dr Susan Parsons of the Society of St. Catherine of Siena’s telling about the proposal to publish a Graduale Parvum in English and Latin.

The Society of St. Catherine of Siena’s recent one-day symposium led by Professor László Dobszay, together with the London Oratory School, on restoring the use of Gregorian chant in ordinary parishes was (as was widely reported) an extraordinary success, drawing together Catholic musicians from all over the British Isles, comprising many very well known figures together with parish priests and directors of small parish choirs.
This work is now bearing fruit, in the form of a small working group that will bring forward proposals under Professor Dobszay’s leadership, for a ‘Graduale Parvum’ or ‘Small Gradual’, for use in parish churches in both Latin and the vernacular, for all forms of the Mass. We have put this initiative under the patronage of one of the great liturgists of the Church, and so the St. Damasus Group of the Society of St. Catherine of Siena will be led by Fr. Guy Nicholls of the Birmingham Oratory, and include Mr. Martin Baker, Director of Music at Westminster Cathedral, Mr. Jeremy de Satgé, and Rev’d. Dr. Laurence Hemming for the Society. We will be assisted informally by a number of consultors.
The group will be working hard to coordinate the proposal to the new ICEL translation of the Roman Missal, so that the language and the style of music notation will fit very well with what parishes will be adopting – probably from as early as Advent 2010. We have a publisher who is very keen to publish the results and we are looking into ways of developing a network of support for parishes that want to make use of the new material. Two choirs have already said that they will look at using the new Gradual – Westminster Cathedral Choir and the Schola of the London Oratory School. Some parishes have also offered to participate in using the material as it is produced.
We have had strong encouragement to pursue this project from the Chairman of our Trustees, Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP, and we are looking to ensure that the outcome is in accordance with the desires of the Holy Father for the future of liturgical celebration. The potential for transforming liturgical life in many parishes throughout the Anglophone world should not be underestimated.
We will present the results of the working group at a second, larger, meeting at the London Oratory School in May 2010, and we will announce a date for that event as soon as possible. Please pray for this group as it begins its work.

Goddard and Son

I went to the Shrine of Our Lady of West Grinstead yesterday for a first Mass of Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP. Fr Matthew is the son of Fr David Goddard, who had been an Anglican clergyman. Matthew was received into the Catholic Church in his teens, and was subsequently followed by the rest of his family including his father, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1997.
The music was wonderful, I think it was Lassus, it was sung by a choir from Harrow, "Schola Baptista", from the Conventual Church of theSovereign Miltary Order of Malta in St John's Wood, directed by Eoghan Murphy. Victoria Missa Gaudeamus; Victoria Salve Regina à 8; Guerrero SurgePropera. and Panis Angelicus was sung by a sister of the newly-ordained. Wonderful!
The Church was packed, there were lots of young children, most from the local area. The preacher was the priests dad. I was touched by the devotion of the elderly people in the congregation who struggled to kneel to receive Holy Communion on the step without any support.
I like the idea of Fr Matthew coming and working in the diocese, maybe even taking over from his dad at West Grinstead but being a member of the Fraternity of St Peter, which celebrtates the Traditional Mass exclusively, he could be sent anywhere in the world.

Fr Matthew's ordination card
What do you call the priest father of a priest, is it "Grand Father"?

Sacred Heart in England

I was searching for something about devotion to the Sacred Heart at the Stuart court, Roman Christendom has this.

Thereafter the devotion was taken by her [St Margaret Mary Alacoque's] confessor and spiritual director, St Claude de la Colombiere SJ, to England where, as chaplain to the English Queen, Mary of Modena.

St Claude de la Colombiere SJ, confessor of both St Margaret Mary Alacoque and HRH Queen Mary of England, wife of King James II and VII. He was a great promoter of the Sacred Heart devotion.

In 1676 he had been sent to England as preacher to Mary of Modena, Duchess of York, afterwards Queen and wife to King James II and VII, the true Stuart monarch of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.

St Claude lived the life of a Religious even in the Court of St. James and was as active a missionary in England as he had been in France. Although encountering many difficulties, he was able to guide Saint Margaret Mary by letter.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mass numbers will down today

Today is the London to Brighton cycle ride, those taking part cycle through the centre of the city, it means that people who come from outside of the parish simple can't cross the city for long stretches of time and the buses grind to a crawl.
Well at least they have clothes on, a couple of weeks ago had we had a naked bike ride - one of my parishioners walked into a lamppost - I hope it was as a result of having their eyes downcast.
The indecent exposure laws are obviously not enforced in our city.

Still at the High Altar

I was sent this picture of Archbishop Nichols celebrating a Requiem Mass for Cardinal Hume on the 10th anniversary of his death. I am glad that he continues to use the High Altar.
I understand that sdome thought is being given to moving the low wall behind the altar a little further back to give a little more space, a much cheaper and more practical option than moving the high altar forward.
It is good to see the Archbishop using purple vestments and a normal size priests host. This is picture of the per ipsum, I am glad to see the Archbishop is holding the host above the chalice, which isn't a technically correct interpretation of the rubrics, though it is "iconic".

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I was pleased to see these pictures on the Papa Stronsay blog. The first is Father Michael Mary of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer celebrating Mass whilst on pilgrimage to Rome, the second is the Bishop of Aberdeen celebrating Mass in the Son's chapel. I know that all the paperwork concerning their reconcilliation was done a year ago but these two images sum up so much of the Pope's desire for reconcilliation, not just with communities like the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer but with the Church's tradition.
It is good to see Bishop Moran tangibly supporting this initiative.

The greatest suffering of the Church is the sin of its priests

Zenit.org reports the Holy Father's sermon yesterday for the inauguration of the Year for Priests.

The theme for the priestly year is "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests."

The greatest suffering of the Church is the sin of its priests

The Church needs holy priests, ministers to help the faithful experience the merciful love of the Lord and to be convinced witnesses."

How can one forget that nothing makes the Church -- the Body of Christ -- suffer more than the sins of its pastors, above all those that are 'wolves in sheep's clothing,' whether because they lead [
the faithful] away with their private doctrine, or because they bind [the faithful] down with the ties of sin and death..

....The call to conversion and to take recourse to Divine Mercy also applies to us, dear priests...

... We should also appeal, humbly and incessantly, to the heart of Jesus so that he preserves us from the terrible risk of damaging those whom we should save.

...Our mission is indispensible for the Church and for the world, which demands complete fidelity to Christ and an incessant union with him; that is to say, it demands that we constantly seek the holiness of St. John Mary Vianney.

God in the Streets of New York

Brought by priests.

Year of the Priest Sites

Congregation for Clergy site: http://www.annussacerdotalis.org/

WorldPriest: http://www.worldpriest.com/

Televised Mass by WorldPriest: http://www.worldpriestday.com/

England and Wales Year for Priests portal: http://www.ukpriest.org/

Catholic University of America site: http://yearforpriests.cua.edu/


Lord Jesus,
In Saint John Mary Vianney you have deigned to give the Church a living image of yourself and a personification of your pastoral charity.
Help us during this Year for Priests to live good lives by being close to him and his example.
Grant that we may learn from the saintly Curé of Ars how to rest contentedly before the Holy Eucharist; to know that only your Word enlightens us each day; to know how tender is the love with which you welcome repentant sinners; how consoling is the confident abandonment to the care of the Holy and Immaculate Mother; how necessary is the ever-vigilant battle against Evil.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Litany of the Sacred Heart

Year for Priests: Indulgences



Special Indulgence for the Year for Priests

As has been announced, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has decided to establish a special Year for Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of St John Mary Vianney, the holy Curé d'Ars, a shining model of a Pastor totally dedicated to the service of the people of God.

During the Year for Priests which will begin on 19 June 2009 and will end on 19 June 2010, the gift of special Indulgences is granted as described in the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, published on 12 May.

Shortly the day will come on which will be commemorated the 150th anniversary of the pious departure to Heaven of St John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars. This Saint was a wonderful model here on earth of a true Pastor at the service of Christ's flock.

Since his example is used to encourage the faithful, and especially priests, to imitate his virtues, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has established that for this occasion a special Year for Priests will be celebrated, from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010, in which all priests may be increasingly strengthened in fidelity to Christ with devout meditation, spiritual exercises and other appropriate actions.

This holy period will begin with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day of priestly sanctification on which the Supreme Pontiff will celebrate Vespers in the presence of the holy relics of St John Mary Vianney, brought to Rome by the Bishop of Belley-Ars, France.

The Most Holy Father will likewise preside at the conclusion of the Year for Priests in St Peter's Square, in the presence of priests from across the world who will renew their fidelity to Christ and the bond of brotherhood.

May priests commit themselves, with prayer and good works, to obtaining from Christ the Eternal High Priest, the grace to shine with Faith, Hope, Charity and the other virtues, and show by their way of life, but also with their external conduct, that they are dedicated without reserve to the spiritual good of the people something that the Church has always had at heart.

The gift of Sacred Indulgences which the Apostolic Penitentiary, with this Decree issued in conformity with the wishes of the August Pontiff, graciously grants during the Year for Priests will be of great help in achieving the desired purpose in the best possible way.

A. Truly repentant priests who, on any day, devoutly recite at least morning Lauds or Vespers before the Blessed Sacrament, exposed for public adoration or replaced in the tabernacle, and who, after the example of St John Mary Vianney, offer themselves with a ready and generous heart for the celebration of the sacraments, especially Confession, are mercifully granted in God the Plenary Indulgence which they may also apply to their deceased brethren in suffrage, if, in conformity with the current norms, they receive sacramental confession and the Eucharistic banquet and pray for the Supreme Pontiff's intentions.

Furthermore the Partial Indulgence is granted to priests who may apply it to their deceased confreres every time that they devoutly recite the prayers duly approved to lead a holy life and to carry out in a holy manner the offices entrusted to them.

B. The Plenary Indulgence is granted to all the faithful who are truly repentant who, in church or in chapel, devoutly attend the divine Sacrifice of Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, for the priests of the Church, and any other good work which they have done on that day, so that he may sanctify them and form them in accordance with His Heart, as long as they have made expiation for their sins through sacramental confession and prayed in accordance with the Supreme Pontiff's intentions: on the days in which the Year for Priests begins and ends, on the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious passing of St John Mary Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month or on any other day established by the local Ordinaries for the benefit of the faithful.

It will be most appropriate, in cathedral and parish churches, for the same priests who are in charge of pastoral care to publicly direct these exercises of devotion, to celebrate Holy Mass and to hear the confession of the faithful.

The Plenary Indulgence will likewise be granted to the elderly, the sick and all those who for any legitimate reason are confined to their homes who, with a mind detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions, at home or wherever their impediment detains them, provided that on the above-mentioned days they recite prayers for the sanctification of priests and confidently offer the illnesses and hardships of their lives to God through Mary Queen of Apostles.

Lastly, the Partial Indulgence is granted to all the faithful every time they devoutly recite five Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glorias, or another expressly approved prayer, in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to obtain that priests be preserved in purity and holiness of life.

This Decree is valid for the entire duration of the Year for Priests. Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given in Rome, at the Offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary on 25 April, the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 2009.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford
Major Penitentiary

Mac and Australia Cognita also have a little on this Indulgence

Pelican in her Piety

The Medieval Bestiaries speak of the mother Pelican feeding her chicks with blood from her breast.
It is became a popular image of Christ feeding the faithful in the Holy Eucharist. the same ideas lie behind piety that developed in the devotion to the Sacred Heart.
In our Sacred Heart chapel there is a window in which the Sacred Heart is depicted, blood pours to the bottom of the window and is caught in the window below in a chalice.
I have never been able to photograph it as someone 120 years ago built my house about six foot behind, so it never gets light shining through it as the designer intended.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I want to be a priest

I have a new parishioner,
he's been here for a couple of months,
moved here from abroad, he's eleven,
he wants to be a priest,
apparently this is all he ever talks about in school.
I discovered today, on the Eve of the Year for Priests, he leads his friends in say the Rosary.

God is good!

Thank God for his grandmother.

How great is the priest! … If he realized what he is, he would die…

The Holy Father has issued a letter proclaiming the Year for Priests, the whole thing can be found here.

It is well worth reading, I was paricularly touched by the passage I quote below. It makes me more than a little afraid: Graces received, Graces squandered.

The Curé of Ars was quite humble, yet as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy”.
He spoke of the priesthood as if incapable of fathoming the grandeur of the gift and task entrusted to a human creature: “O, how great is the priest! … If he realized what he is, he would die… God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host…”. Explaining to his parishioners the importance of the sacraments, he would say: “Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest… After God, the priest is everything! … Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is”.[5] These words, welling up from the priestly heart of the holy pastor, might sound excessive. Yet they reveal the high esteem in which he held the sacrament of the priesthood. He seemed overwhelmed by a boundless sense of responsibility: “Were we to fully realize what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love… Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth… What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods … Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshiping the beasts there … The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you”.
He arrived in Ars, a village of 230 souls, warned by his Bishop beforehand that there he would find religious practice in a sorry state: “There is little love of God in that parish; you will be the one to put it there”. As a result, he was deeply aware that he needed to go there to embody Christ’s presence and to bear witness to his saving mercy: “[Lord,] grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life!”: with this prayer he entered upon his mission.[7] The Curé devoted himself completely to his parish’s conversion, setting before all else the Christian education of the people in his care. Dear brother priests, let us ask the Lord Jesus for the grace to learn for ourselves something of the pastoral plan of Saint John Mary Vianney! The first thing we need to learn is the complete identification of the man with his ministry. In Jesus, person and mission tend to coincide: all Christ’s saving activity was, and is, an expression of his “filial consciousness” which from all eternity stands before the Father in an attitude of loving submission to his will. In a humble yet genuine way, every priest must aim for a similar identification. Certainly this is not to forget that the efficacy of the ministry is independent of the holiness of the minister; but neither can we overlook the extraordinary fruitfulness of the encounter between the ministry’s objective holiness and the subjective holiness of the minister. The Curé of Ars immediately set about this patient and humble task of harmonizing his life as a minister with the holiness of the ministry he had received, by deciding to “live”, physically, in his parish church: As his first biographer tells us: “Upon his arrival, he chose the church as his home. He entered the church before dawn and did not leave it until after the evening Angelus. There he was to be sought whenever needed”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Avoiding an Austrian Schism

I feel sorry for the Pope. His major concern is to follow the Lord's instruction to Peter, to "strengthen the brethren". Be too harsh and the sheep scatter. The Church has always understood that it can tolerate a little heresy but what should be avoided is formal schism. Individuals have been excommunicated under Pope Benedict but rarely groups. Indeed like the Good Shepherd he goes in search of the lost sheep, be they the SSPX or the Chinese Patriotic Church. The Williamson Affair shows the lengths to which he is willing to go and the opprobrium he is willing to suffer to achieve this.

The situation in Austria, epitomized by the diocese of Linz, seems to indicate a Church which is out of control; the wacky liturgies, clergy living in concubinage, the rejection of bishops appointed by the Holy See, the welcoming of non-Catholics into Eucharistic communion, the seminary and theological faculty of the university that seem to denigrate Catholic doctrine, all indicate something quite problematic. The safe pair of hands that should have been Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, seems now to be part of the problem. Almost everything one hears seems to indicate a Church whose bishops have abrogated governance to lay cliques and is increasingly distanced from the Holy See.

It seems that rather than being summoned to Rome, it was the Austrian bishops themselves who asked for a meeting with the Pope before the meeting of their Episcopal Conference. It should also be remembered that the appointment of Fr Wagner was the initiative of Bishop Ludwig Schwarz of Linz, diocesan bishops submit their choice of three names to Rome when appointing Auxilliary Bishops.

Although the Austrian bishops sought the meeting with the Pope it is significant that they were also met by such a high powered set of Curial officials:

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education
Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Presumably Cardinal Cañizares Llovera would have also been their had it not been that was still in Toledo. Each of these Cardinals represents an area of serious concern to Rome. It will be interesting to see how far the Austrian Episcoplal Conference dares to go in their forthcoming meeting.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pope's new GP

Pope Benedict aboard a papal flight, greats his new physician, Dr Patrizio Polisca, a cardiac specialist.
Being a man, I avoid doctors, they are always trying to organise your life, they never have anything positive to say. Look at the way Dr Polisca is looking at the Pope, I would be very, very worried if I were him.

Ranjith to Colombo

Our friend Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don was appointed Archbishop of Colombo today:

Il Santo Padre ha accettato la rinuncia al governo pastorale dell’arcidiocesi di Colombo (Sri Lanka), presentata da S.E. Mons. Oswald Thomas Colman Gomis, in conformità al can. 401 § 1 del Codice di Diritto Canonico.
Il Papa ha nominato Arcivescovo di Colombo (Sri Lanka) S.E. Mons. Patabendige Don Albert Malcolm Ranjith, Arcivescovo titolare di Umbriatico, trasferendolo dall’Ufficio di Segretario della Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti.

This is very good news for Colombo and Sri Lanka where the clear insight of the Archbishop will be invaluable in the struggle for justice and peace for the Tamil people after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Catholics make up a significant minority of the Tamil population and have been suffering significantly because of the civil war.
The Archbishop will also be a significant "Benedictine voice" in Asia.

Pray for the Archbishop.

Noble Simplicity & Mgr George Wallis

The Lion and the Cardinal has pictures of some amazing 20th century vestments, they come from the same stable as the vestments we wore here for Corpus Christi, they apparently belonged to one of my predecessors, Mgr George Wallis, who was parish priest here from 1924 until 1950. Apart from being the last parish priest to employ a butler, Mgr Wallis established St Mary Magdalen as a centre of liturgical good practice, somewhere which was very much part of the Liturgical Movement. Mgr Wallis had been the Master of Ceremonies for the consecration of Westminster Cathedral in 1910, he had been recruited by Cardinal Bourne and was involved in formulating the solemn liturgy for the new Cathedral. Wallis was very much part of intellectual Catholic life, he numbered Belloc and Chesterton amongst his friends, he invited the great preachers of his day, men like Vann and Knox seemed to be regulars here.
Shawn Tribe has an interesting little piece on the concept of "noble simplicity", a term that is used by the Second Vatican Council when speaking about the liturgy, which has led those who followed the council to introduce brutalist functionalism and iconoclasm into Catholic churches. Shawn's argument is that the term springs directly from and should be interpreted in terms of the pre-concilliar Liturgical Movement. He says it should be seen in the terce forms of the Latin Rite. Here, those who remember him, say that Mgr Wallis understood the nature of the Roman Rite in terms of "no fuss", a rather strict interpretation of the rubrics, which manifested itself in terms of him saying "We are the chant parish, the Sacred Heart [the parish next door] is the polyphony parish". I don't think polyphony was actually forbidden here but it was less favoured, and seems as was the custom in Westminster Cathedral, to have been earlier rather than late. The present parish MC, who remembers Mgr Wallis, says he restricted hand kissing except were the Rite explicitly demanded it, regarding it as being "a continental custom" - stange, as Monsignor though English, had been at school in France and even studied at the Gallican College and retained a strong French accent until his death.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Is Austria being sorted out?

This is the Corpus Procession in the diocese of Linz Austria from the Archdiocese of Washington blogsite, I don't think it is being held up as an example to be followed, on the contrary, the author says, "If something is crazy, ugly or just plain illicit it is on display is this diocese".

It is hardly surprising that the Vatican Information Services announced that "A delegation of Austrian bishops led by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna" was received in audience by the Pope. The goings on in Linz, the rejection of Fr Wagner as auxillary bishop, the strange homoerotic art appearing in the Cardinal's own Cathedral, the rise of the "We Are Church" movement and the general secularisation are causing concern in Rome.

Oxford Corpus Christi Procession

Brother Lawrence Lew has a remarkably beautiful set of pictures of the Oxford Corpus Christi procession here.
Thanks to NLM.

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...