Sunday, August 30, 2009

Black, Purple and White and Shrouds

vestment for my funeral Mass
I have had a heavy few days, so something a little light. Fr Z, the Immortal, is running a poll on funeral vestments. There are three options according to the Roman Missal: black which has been worn from time immemorial; purple which seems to be an innovation, it is the colour of imperium, and introduces the idea of Lenten and Adventide waiting and yearning and finally white was introduced in the late sixties. I have always understood this as being an introduction for oriental cultures where white is the traditional mourning colour.
Though white was used before the council on the continent for the funeral palls of virgins, especially consecrated ones, and those who died before the age of reason, it has a long history associated with mourning in England, where stencilled or stamped unbleached linen was used as veiling for images and altars during Lent. It was quite distinct from the triumphant white of Eastertide.

Orthodox Christian "renewing" their baptism in the Jordan, the white baptismal garments are also their shrouds, their burial garments, once the have dried they will be put away until the day of their burial.
On Fr Z's blog amonst the comments some people are suggesting they want a white pall on their coffin as a sign of their baptismal garment. I would suggest that the baptismal garment's origin is actually the shroud of those who have died with Christ, rather than wearing street clothes in the coffin is it most appropriate that Christians wear a baptismal garment.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Mother Riccarda was all sweetnes and sympathy

Readers from Eastbourne and Crawley sent me this link to a story from the Times about our own Mother Riccarda. It is account of a man who was hidden in the convent as a 15 year old.
“We called Mother Riccarda ‘mammina’, as if she was our mother,” Piperno said. “She was Mother Mary Elizabeth’s right hand. They were two faces of the same coin.” Where the mother superior had been “strict and rigid”, Mother Riccarda “was all sweetness and sympathy. She was always around, and everybody went to her when you had any kind of problem. She was very comforting.

The Great Car Boot Sale

Our little bit of fund raising today Nick (Nickbris) and Lawrence (The Bones) got here before 7am this morning.

More news ans pictures later

Friday, August 28, 2009

Watching varnish dry

Peter began putting the first coat of varnish, the primer, down today, it is supposed to be clear but it has made the older wood quite dark, the new wood is unaffected, I hope it is going to dry much lighter, we have a real problem with the absence of light in the Church.

This picture shows the area of the rear wall where we removed the old "antipendium chest" which had been nailed up for years, it had a huge radiator in front of it. It took five of us to move it a few feet with difficulty. The wall is in a terrible state but we will have to live with that for a while.

Many thanks to those of you who have generously donated to our Restoration Fund. I will offer Mass for intentions next Friday in the Extraordinary Form.

Ad... something

I have been celebrating Mass in my dining room whilst the Church floor is being sanded, filled, sealed and varnished. It has taken far longer than I thought it would, the benches go back into the Church on Saturday and are taken away again on Monday, it is a bit tedious. Varnishing is going to take place next week the final coat takes three days to dry.
I have been celebrating Mass facing "the altar", well actually my sideboard, there is an altar stone in the central draw, and a few other relics but it has got me thinking about the "terms" we use.

ad orientem - facing east, the place where Christ will come in glory like the dawn, where salvation will come like the rising sun.
ad apsidem - to the apse, not all churches (or dining rooms) face east, so this term means theological east.
against the wall - contra murum - a bit derogatory but so too is the opposite, westward facing, contra populum - against the people.
cum populo - with the people, the priest and people facing the same direction.
ad Dominum or ad Crucem - to the Lord or to the Cross -the "Benedictine arrangement" where the crucifix becomes the centre of attention whichever direction the priest is facing. It is bit of a halfway house, as the altar, not the crucifix, is consecrated to be "the" sign of Christ.

Mulier Fortis has an interesting slideshow of Mass at Blackfen being celebrated, with the clergy behind the altar, when they genuflect they dissappear behind the altar, Fr Tim is two or three inches shorter than me, so I suspect when I genuflect it most probably looks as though my head, John the Baptist-like looks as though it is being served up on the altar.
Priest and people form "the Church, in much fullness" in the liturgical assembly, the altar is supposed to be the sign of Christ - of unity - but in fact so often it becomes the very thing that divides priest and people. Nothing can be so divisive than a huge block of stone. I always feel uncomfortable talking to people from behind a desk, unreconstructed hippy that I am.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Future of the Tablet

The Tablet's editor and her deputy have been invited to resign by James MacMillan, because of their attempt to stir up trouble between Archbishop Nichols and the Holy See over the Traditional Mass and their suggestion that abortion was an issue that should be ignored by the US bishops in Obama's health care plan.
Someone else suggested that Damian Thompson's attacks on the Tablet were borne out of his being editor in chief of the Catholic Herald, which was described as "rival publication". I think that is a bit silly, the Herald is a newspaper, the Tablet is journal of "Catholic" opinion, the comparison is one of oranges and apples. I am told the Tablet now often has articles by mainstream Catholics, the last time I looked at it it had articles by younger commentators, one was a Fr Z style comparison of Latin versus ICEL translations of prayers. A friend of mine, has a Tablet reading group in his parish, his thinking being that Liberal fundamentalism exists and should be met head on and that The Tablet has good things which should be pointed and the dross should be criticised.
The sisters in my parish, who are good and orthodox, having passed through the 70s maintaining their Catholicism but loosing their habits get it, leave it on their common room table and file it. I am sure they read much of it but they regard it as journal of note, in that it has been the mouthpiece of English Catholicism. The other Catholic weeklies do not have the same kudos. Bishop Hopes letter criticising the journals take on Archbishop Nichols' Preface for the Westminster/LMS conference on the Traditional Mass was the first time I can remember where an English bishop criticised it. I hope this criticism will continue under the new regime. In the past I am told that "Rome" was often told that it is totally independent of the Bishops, and they even denied it was sold "officially" in Catholic churches here.
Recently I had a conversation with someone who suggested that it would be possible to set up rival journal, employing orthodox commentators only. There have been attempts to do this with journals like the StAR, the St Augustine Review, which really didn't come to much. Indeed I am not sure that there is much call for a new print journal, younger Catholics don't buy them, there is the net, but few blog or websites offer in depth commentary.
What is needed however is a Catholic journal that really does have something to say, the best way of having that is not to destroy it but to "convert" the Tablet. MacMillan's suggestion to replace the editor and her deputy is the best way of doing that. No-one wants the Tablet to become the journal of the Bishops Conference but most Catholics do want a journal that is actually "Catholic" that strives to explain what is happening in the Church, rather than like the Tablet's present Rome correspondent seems to have aversion to anything that comes from Christ's Vicar.
It the next few years as this journals liberal readership ages and dies off, the Tablet has to decide on its future. Is there a place for an ecumenical journal or does its future lie in embracing more deeply the mainstream of the Catholic faith? There is little future in Liberalism.
The Bishops of England an Wales, though they have no direct control of the Tablet have a great deal of moral influence. It is rumoured that the nature of the Catholicism of Catholic institutions will be high on the agenda of the ad limina bishops visit early next year, let us hope that this might encourage them to put pressure of the Tablet's board:
Chairman: John Adshead CBE, Robin Baird-Smith, Dr Tina Beattie, Angela Cunningham, Julian Filochowski CMG, Professor Peter Hennessy, Ignatius Kusiak, Keith Leslie, Susan Penswick, Catherine Pepinster and Paul Vallely
to make the necessary changes - looking at the board though, this might be a little difficult.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On Reading Railway Station

Brother Lewis reminds us that today is the 160th anniversary of the death of the Blessed Dominic Barberi. Apart from receiving Newman into the Church, he died on Reading Railway Station, I am sure there used to be a small plaque there commemorating him.
In Loss and Gain Newman says this of him:
On the Apennines, near Viterbo, there dwelt a shepherd-boy, in the first years of this century, whose mind had early been drawn heavenward; and, one day, as he prayed before an image of the Madonna, he felt a vivid intimation that he was destined to preach the Gospel under the northern sky.
There appeared no means by which a Roman peasant should be turned into a missionary; nor did the prospect open, when this youth found himself, first a lay brother, then a Father, in the Congregation of the Passion.
Yet, though no external means appeared, the inward impression did not fade; on the contrary it became more definite, and, in process of time, instead of the dim north, England was engraved on his heart.
And, strange to say, as years went on, without his seeking, for he was simply under obedience, our peasant found himself at length upon the very shore of the stormy northern sea, whence Caesar of old looked out for a new world to conquer; yet that he should cross the strait was still as little likely as before.
However, it was as likely as that he should ever have got so near it; and he used to eye the restless, godless waves, and wonder with himself whether the day would ever come when he should be carried over them.
And come it did, not however by any determination of his own, but by the same Providence which thirty years before had given him the anticipation of it...The thought of England came into his ordinary prayers; and in his last years, after a vision during Mass, as if he had been Augustine or Mellitus, he talked of his 'sons' in England.

Barberi's Letter to the Professors of the University of Oxford gives a very beautiful insight into his personality, it is a loving refutation of the claim that the 39 Articles are compatable with the Catholic faith.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Click to enlarge
This is an illustration from the Salzburg Missal from the Lion and the Cardinal, there is also a tenth century Holy Waterbucket that is well worth a look at.
What delights me here, is that whole lot of very complex theological ideas are communicated by a page of painting.
I have a friend, a seminarian who is dyslexic, he is actually quite bright but he tends not to think "in essay form". He built our crib last year, he has an inredibly strong "visual sense". With a few bits of fabric, a branch of a tree, and a few plaster statues, he created something which spoke very eloquently of the Mystery of the Incarnation. He has had one or two difficulties with his journey to the priesthood so keep him in your prayers, because frankly I am convinced he will make a fine priest, not inspite of his difficulty but because of it.
With the constructed liturgies of the 1960s there is a danger of depending too much on verbal communication and of reflecting the spirit of a paricular age. The iconoclasm that gave birth to brutalistic architecture, to artists like Rothco and Warhol, composers like Cage and Schoenberg seems to have no place for hidden subltleties, I wonder if that is reflected in the work of Mgr Bugnini. It was a "what you see is what you get" age. I suspect we have now moved on from that. What was once fashionable now seems tired. Catherine Pitstock in After Writing contrasts the spiralling of words and actions of organically developed liturgy with the linear, canalised, liturgy we have now.
The lack of precision or care over rubrical actions, by both those who constructed and those who celebrate the present liturgy, perhaps, reflects something of this thinking. Perhaps the lapsation of large numbers of ordinary working class Catholics over the last 40 years might be related to this too.
The great problem with anything put together by "experts" is that they tend to reflect the spirit of the age. Fashions come, fashions go, and amongst the fashions that go are certain styles of thinking. The great beauty of organic liturgy is that it reflects not an age but ages, not a single thought style but thought styles.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cardinal's Vocations

Cardinals tell of their call to the priesthood

h/t Da Mihi Animas

Master or Moderator

picture from here
Andrea Tornielli's article on the reform of the reform has got me thinking. The Liturgy is the most tightly controlled and most legislated area of Church life, rightly so because it is the public face of the Church, yet for many it appears to be an area inhabited by outlaws and bandits. The Congregation for Divine Worship seems to be the carefully chosen of all Vatican dicasteries, under it Prefect "Little Ratzinger" with men like Bux and Lang, we should expect real efforts to heal the hermeneutic of rupture which is most visible in the liturgy.
Above all there needs to be clarification of the Bishops role in the liturgy, is he the Lord and Master able to issue decrees that go beyond the norms of the Church, or is he the "moderator of the liturgy," as presented in the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, where interestingly the Pope states:

"... these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese."

A great deal would change liturgically if only Rome would clarify what are norms, what are options and what is "praise worthy" etc.
With Rome's failure, here is my list, I apologise for not citing text references, but they can be easily found on the net:

Liturgical Language
Latin is the norm in the liturgies of the Latin Church, the vernacular may be used for readings or even other parts of the liturgy. Latin should be used for international gatherings. The faithful should be able to sing, at least, the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin.

According to the Roman Missal, it appears the norm is Mass is offered ad apsidum, as there are references to the priest turning to the people, for example at the Orate Fratres.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that "the altar should (not must) be free standing, so Mass may be offered facing the people, which is always desirable". When questioned what this meant the CDW said it was "free standing" not "facing the people" which was always desirable.

The Norms
"Nothing should be added to or subtracted from the text or rubrics of the Mass".
The Normal celebration of the Mass is sung with all the ceremonies and ministers; deacons instituted acolytes and lectors, each doing only those things which are proper to their ministries.

Chant and Polyphony are always to be preferred, hymns may be substituted for the Propers if necessary, the organ is the preferred instrument.

Holy Communion
In the Latin Church the norm is for Holy Communion to be given on the tongue whilst the communicant is kneeling, intinction is a possibility. Rome has given an indult to some parts of the Church for communion to be given standing, and or, in the hand.
The priest has the duty if there is risk of profanation to restrict or forbid the reception of Holy Communion in the hand.
Holy Communion may be given under both kinds, if there are sufficient ministers - in most dioceses in the English speaking world "ministers" seems to mean "extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion" rather ordinary ministers: bishops, priests and deacons. Perhaps one day Rome will clarify this.

Vessels should always be of precious metal, ceramic or glass chalices are forbidden, the use of the chalice veil is "praise worthy". The "use of the communion plate is to be retained".

Altar Servers
Male altar servers should be encouraged. A priest has the right to insist on male servers only.

Despite a lot of confusion in the past, Rome now has decided the place for reservation is in the "apse". If for some reason this will be disadvantageous to prayer and devotion the Blessed Sarament may be reserved in a fitting and prominent chapel.

I might add to this depending on comments

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In Piccadilly

If I am in Piccadilly I always drop into Iconastas for a chat with the proprietor, and just to see what they have in their bargain basement, occasionally I find something I like, I buy them for my pension fund. Russian icons seem to be a pretty good investment, even if they are not, I have to admit I am an iconophile, I love 18th century Russian icons. I hate the garish colouring of later Greek one's. But Russian icons: I love their colours and forms, I love the fact they have witnessed the rise and fall of atheism, that most have been loved and possibly despised, that they seen war and tragedy, yet they have survived.

On the shops website they have this: a 5/6th Century Byzantine mosaic fragment of the Mother of God flanked by a Guardian Angel and male Saint. The price is, "on application", which most probably means you and I shouldn't even bother to ask, it is interesting to see such things can be bought in London even if by plutocrats but they do have bargains at a few hundred pounds.
Last year they had an Italian 14th century painted crucifix, about three foot tall, for a few thousand pounds, it was sold whilst I was in the shop to a delightful man who lives in Assisi. I had seen it before and was seriously tempted to buy it and give up holidays and anything else for a few years. It would have looked splendid behind the pulpit.

Jesuit Vocations

The British Jesuits have launched a new vocations website, check it out. There are plenty of pictures and plenty of videos and lots to explore.

It seems to me to be very Jesuit: intense but a bit dull, lots of older men in polo shirts, college ties or sweatshirts.

What was it the Pope said about the theologians, who lacked a sense of beauty?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Busy, busy day

There is something quite beautiful about the Church without any furniture in it.

Peter and Radic worked until lunchtime today before they left the put the Church back together, sanded benches on sanded floor.

Between John who designed our website and Lawrence (the Crushed Bone) is Dierdre Waddington our architect. She came down with her brother Paul, to check the floor, though in fact they spent a great deal of time measuring up the crypt, in fact they seemed to measure everything, statues, pillars, benches. Sorry no pictures of Paul.

Even our beautiful roof has cobwebs with fine trace of wood dust in them, which is hardly surprising since they took of six sackfuls, I am sure there is a similar amount in the crypt, having fallen through the gaps in the floorboards.
Thank you for your donations, you will be in our prayers.

more posts our restoration project

Pope Pushes Liturgical Reforms

The always fascinating NLM translates a scoop by the always well informed Andrea Tornielli which goes a long way to explain some straws and rumours blowing from Rome earlier in the year, such a return to communion kneeling, refusal to renew the reception in the hand indult, the possibilty of imposition of sacramental formulas in Latin, ad orientem, well maybe it is true.
At least I think, the Pope will say all these things are normative and may not be impeded, even by a Bishop.
The newspaper [Il Giornale] today published a paper devoted to "propositions" voted on last March by the plenary meeting of the Congregation for Divine Worship, presented to Benedict XVI by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera on April 4th. It contains a first outline of the "reform the reform" liturgy that Ratzinger would see implemented, underlining the importance of worship, putting a stop to creativity and abuse, giving more presence to the Latin language in the new rite, publishing bilingual missals (with the Latin text opposite), reconsidering the matter of the "versus orientem" [ad orientem] orientation at least during the consecration [i.e. during the Eucharist prayer], reiterating that the use of distributing Communion in the hand is an indult, an extraordinary fact, but that the [normative] custom of the law must remain to receive the host on the tongue. All this, however, will be prepared and presented in the Ratzingerian style: not any short-term document, no sudden imposition destined to go unheeded. Rather, a long and patient work from the grass roots ["from below"], that involves the episcopate. The point of departure and arrival is the conciliar Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

New Translations of the Mass

The US Bishop have just put up a rather good site on the translations for the Third Edition of the Roman Missal
New Words: A Deeper Meaning,
but the Same Mass

As the introduction says:

The Missale Romanum (the Roman Missal), the ritual text for the celebration of the Mass, was first promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as the definitive text of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. A second edition followed in 1975.

Pope John Paul II issued a revised version of the Missale Romanum during the Jubilee Year 2000. The English translation of the revised Roman Missal is nearing completion, and the Bishops of the United States will vote on the final sections of the text this November. Among other things, the revised edition of the Missale Romanum contains prayers for the observances of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Votive Masses and Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics (instructions) for the celebration of the Mass. The English translation of the Roman Missal will also include updated translations of existing prayers, including some of the well–known responses and acclamations of the people.

This website has been prepared to help you prepare for the transition. As this site continues to be expanded, you will find helpful resources for the faithful, for the clergy, and for parish and diocesan leaders.

May this process of the implementation of the revised Roman Missal be a time of deepening, nurturing, and celebrating our faith through our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.

Check it out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tablet gets slapped

As far as The Tablet is concerned I believe it should be erased. It might be Abp Nichols agrees. Damian Thompson reports that Bishop Hopes has written on the Tablets gloss on the Archbishop's preface to the LMS's conference booklet, saying:

[The Archbishop] is not ‘seeking to nip potential schism in the bud’ or suggesting that the place of the Tridentine Rite is ‘necessarily marginal’ …
And, regarding the Tablet’s implication that the Archbishop shares its view that worshippers at the older Mass do not participate:
… ‘active participation’ has always been understood to be internal and external. To reduce participation to solely external signs is both a simplification and a misguided attack in the ‘culture wars’ you seek to avoid.”

He adds

It’s no secret that the Tablet didn’t want Vincent Nichols to become Archbishop of Westminster. Now that he’s got the job, it’s continuing to pick fights and play juvenile tricks on him. Way to go, Ma.

Now hasn't the Pill been suggesting the American Bishop's should ditch the Church's opposition to abortion and infanticide and support Obama's healthcare bill? They shouldn't be allowed to get away with that, either.

Fr John Boyle reproduces Bishop Hopes' letter.

Thanks Liz

Thank you, Liz fom Middlesex - I couldn't quite read your address - I am very grateful for the cheque to the restoration fund.

Love of God, love of neighbour

Today's Gospel for the feria is the Great Commandment: loving God, with its collorary of loving one's neighbour.

Today is the feast of that great enemy of Modernism and Relativism St Pius X.

Chiesa reviews Harry Wu's book "Better ten graves than one extra birth" in which he suggests abortion and infanticide are linked to the successes and failures of the expansion of Christianity. His thesis is traced in the Greco-Roman world, to China and India, and the West today.

When one begins to understand the mystery of loving God with our whole being, only then can one love one's neighbour. In this it is necessary to love God rightly but also the right God. Orthodox belief, which St Pius X strove to defend, as does Pope Benedict, is absolutely necessary in order for us to love our neighbour.

Intrinsically linked is "right worship" hence "save the Liturgy, save the World". Right worship, right belief leads to right living.


The price?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

House Mass

Since last Tuesday we have been out of the Church, and having Mass in our Parish Centre, ad orientem of course, not just because of lack of space but in a space that is normally used for pastoral rather sacred purposes and having to use a table lower than an altar, it gives a stronger sense of the sacred.
Because of an administrative error we are going to have to celebrate Mass in my dining room tomorrow, ad orientem of course we collapsed the huge table that normally fills the room and have set up the sideboard as an altar. To accommodate the numbers we are going to have Mass at 10 and 12am. The Blessed Sacrament is also there, so it is a bit narrow, we have covered the mirror behind and I shall place my rosary in the top drawer with its reliquary crucifix, under the corporal. I know with Ordinary Form it is not necessary but at least it makes a piece of domestic furniture more like an altar.
Speaking of house Masses, when I was a deacon, I was sent off to neighbourhoods to organise them. Then the priest would come and celebrate Mass on a coffee table or the telly wearing the minimum of vestments, everyone sitting on sofas throughout - how I hate it.
P.S. as for the relics I have never been able to read the minuscule calligraphy that identifies who they are.

Tulsa turns to the the Lord

The Bishop of Tulsa, I am sure you have read elsewhere has decided to encourage priests to celebrate by Mass "ad orienrem", by doing so himself.
Speaking to Zenit about celebrating "contra populum" rather than with them, he said,

"This innovation was introduced after the Vatican Council, partly to help the people understand the liturgical action of the Mass by allowing them to see what was going on, and partly as an accommodation to contemporary culture where people who exercise authority are expected to face directly the people they serve, like a teacher sitting behind her desk."

Unfortunately, he added, this change had some "unforeseen and largely negative effects."

Not only was it a "serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition," the prelate asserted, but it also "can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God."

He stated that it also "places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage."

The bishop noted Benedict XVI's appeal to "draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the Church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship."

He continued, "For that reason, I have restored the venerable 'ad orientem' position when I celebrate Mass at the cathedral."

This gesture, he stated, is not one of rudeness or hostility toward the faithful, nor an attempt to "turn back the clock."

Rather, Bishop Slattery affirmed, it represents the fact that "we journey together to God."
The bishop cites several reasons for celebrating ad orientem

... the Catholic liturgy has always maintained a marvelous adherence to the Apostolic Tradition. We see the Mass, indeed the whole liturgical expression of the Church’s life, as something which we have received from the Apostles and which we, in turn, are expected to hand on intact. (1 Corinthians 11:23)


...the Church held on to this single eastward position because of the sublime way it reveals the nature of the Mass. Even someone unfamiliar with the Mass who reflected upon the celebrant and the faithful being oriented in the same direction would recognize that the priest stands at the head of the people, sharing in one and the same action, which was – he would note with a moment’s longer reflection – an act of worship.

Every thinking liturgist nowadays seems to believe that the idea of ad orientem celebration is right and proper, only liturgical idealogues seem to defend what has become the current practice but it is brave parish priest (or bishop) that will go against that practice, which has become so redolent of the "Spirit" of the Council.
Can anyone cite any Church document that actually even recommends non-ad orientem celebration.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spiritual Mothers

Jane wrote to me from her French Oasis to ask what is happening in the UK, or elsewhere for that matter, with Cardinal Hummes idea of Spiritual Mother's of priests. Jane, encouraged by Fr Mark, has started a blog called naturally Spiritual Mothers of Priests.

As far as I know not much is happen in my diocese or anywhere else, or am I wrong?

Sanding begins

Today sanding the floor began it is going to leave the floor a lovely rich colour. We were hoping that it could be completed today but insatead of being able to do a coarse, medium and fine sand, it is a slow job, in fact the coarse sanding is less than a quarter done. It has to be taken painstakingly slowly because of the undulations in the floor years of feet standing between the benches, the gaps between the floorboards have to be filled too.
I was hoping it might have all been done for Sunday but it looks as though it might well all go on to Wednesday of next week, I just pray it won't rain over the weekend.
Anyone know who patron saint of sanding is? Maybe I should just turn our rather black St Joseph round to watch over the work, and keep lights burning in front of him until the work is done.

Many thanks to those of you who have generously used the paypal button, or sent a cheque, I'll offer the Most Holy Sacrifice for your intentions next week.

Memory and thickness

I really do have a poor memory for texts and prayer. I was at a dinner party recently, a couple of my fellow guest were having a conversation exchanging Byronic couplets, quoting extensively from Child Harold, for my part I try to commit things to memory but in the words of one of my parishioners "Padre, non intrada". I have been trying to commit some of the prayers of Exraordinary Form to memory, some sticks some doesn't, I need a card for the Aufer a nobis. When I was younger I knew priests who would delight in reciting great chunks of the Roman Missal by heart, I knew many Anglicans who could recite the Book of Common Prayer collects by heart, and Catholics who could remember all the old catechism. I recently met a young Muslim who claimed his blind grandfather could recite the whole Koran. St Benedict expected his monks to know the psalter by heart. I am convinced that before printing many churches would not have owned a Missal and therefore most priests would have recited Mass from memory.

I was rather touched by this little extract from a rather provocative interview with Monsignor Bartolucci, Maestro Emeritus of the Sistine Chapel, the whole interview is characteristically mischievously provocative, and therefore well worth reading.

So that you won't think that I'm just saying anything, I know how participation in old times was like, both in Rome, in the (St. Peter's) Basilica and outside it, for instance down here in Mugello, in this parish, in this beautiful countryside, which was then populated by people strong in faith and full of piety. During Sunday Vespers the priest could just start singing “Deus in adiutorium meum intende” and thereafter fall asleep on his seat to wake up only at the “chapter”, the peasants would have continued alone and the heads of the family would have intoned the antiphon!

To be provocative myself, I think that the options we have in the modern rite tend to destroy participation. And to be even more provocative, the books necessary for the "old" rite is a Missal two and a half inches thick, whereas for the "new" rite there is the Missal, same thickness together with some nine inches of Lectionary.

Is the exclusion of memory one of the major changes in reformed liturgy? Discuss!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Old Puglia

I had a phone call today from a former parishioner Desmond Seward, at the end of our rather all embracing conversion, I asked him what he is writing at the moment, he always seems to have a couple of books on the go, after telling me about them and swearing me secrecy he said that he had just published a little book called Old Puglia.
It is a travelogue which deals with the contrasting life styles between the wealthy and the poor during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, there is a whole chapter on the Byzantine rock churches, which as Desmond says, "hardly anyone knows anything about" but from his description they seem to be magnificent. Sounds like my kind of holiday read.
Puglia is the heel stretching down from the spur of the Italian boot. It boasts very beautiful landscapes, wonderful old cities with Romanesque cathedrals, Gothic castles and a great wealth of Baroque architecture. And yet, though far from inaccessible, until quite recently it was seldom visited by western tourists.
Today, however, Puglia is becoming fashionable as “an alternative Tuscany”. There are radio and television features on it, travel supplements which describe its beaches and cooking, and supermarkets stock Apulian wine, oil, bread and pasta. Yet almost nothing about the region has been published in English since the days of Norman Douglas and the Sitwells. One can find “holiday histories” of Tuscany, but there is no popular introduction to Apulian history, not even in Italian. This book has been written to fill the gap by providing a simple, readable study of the region.
Desmond rang to ask for prayers for a sick friend, so say a prayer for her.

The Compression of Holy Feet

For almost the last hundred and fifty years the feet of saints and sinners have crossed the theshold of this church. Here are the results, the floorboards were originally 1 inch thick, at the thinnest part they are about a quarter of that. It is the compression of holy feet. That is a loss of a quarter inch of floorboard every 50 years, though of course two fat men entering at the same time could have found themselves in the depths.

Arinze on Inculturation

There has been a liturgical conference in Manila, on "inculturation" in the liturgy attended by Cardinal Arinze.
It is pretty obvious that some things must be adapted to particular cultures. It is perhaps highly fitting that in cultures where white or undyed cloth is associated with death that white, rather than black or purple should be used for funera vestments, hence that provision in the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Other rubrics have value in a counter cultural way, kneeling for example, is so contrary to western or northern culture, that its use signifies nothing other than an encounter the adsolutely holy.
I had a vague interest in Bede Griffiths when I was much younger and read the Bitter Pill avidly. In the ashram he founded, Griffiths would celebrate Mass dressed as a Hindu sadu, and fire, flowers and incense would be offered at Mass, as it would in a Hindu rite. Westerners loved it, Indians I met later thought it was a great danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith in the sub-continent, and blame him, in part for the blurring of Christianity and Hinduism. Hinduism, and to some extent Buddhism, always tends to absorb other religions. Some Asian priests, and bishops, I have met seem rich in providing social services but very shallow, frighteningly so, on theology, especially Christology.
Cardinal Arinze has been saying things like:

Adoration manifests itself in such gestures in genuflection, deep bow, kneeling, prostration and silence in the presence of the Lord. Asian cultures have a deep sense of the sacred and transcendent. Reverence in Asia to civil authorities sometimes shows itself in clasped hands, kneeling, bows, prostration and walking away while facing a dignitary. It should not be too difficult to bring and elevate this cultural value to honour our Eucharistic Jesus. The fashion in some parts of the world of not installing kneelers in churches should not be copied by the Church in Asia.


It is altogether unacceptable that the celebrant will opt for local dress in the place of universally approved Mass vestments or use baskets, or wine glasses to distribute the Holy Eucharist. This is inculturation wrongly understood . . .


Dance in particular needs to be critically examined because most dances draw attention to the performers and offer enjoyment. People come to Mass, not for recreation but, to adore God, to praise and thank him, to ask pardon for their sins, and to request other spiritual and temporal needs

read more here

Our new website

Today we are launching our new website. It has been created by John White, one of our parishioners, it is his first go at such a project, he has put tons of work into it, check it out and give us some feed back.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Bones launches Jihad (against the pew)

Well of course some of parishioners are, err.., unique. If you enjoy a good rant try The Bones, who seems to have taken up my fleeting thought, no sooner had I pressed the keys than it had evaporated, of not having pews. He has started a "Lose the Pew Campaign", it seems to come close to a jihad.

The young, the young, how much they crave the ascetic way.
Pews are of course "people pens", they do tend to to make people passive observers rather than participants. Maybe they tempt preachers to go on too long, I am sure I do not preach for 20 minutes, unless of course I really have something important to say.

The Place for Mass in Venice

Friends who live, in Venice, together with friends who visit tell me about St Simeon Piccolo, on the Grand Canal, opposite the railway station, but my friends talk about the number of young people who attend Mass there, the beauty of the music, mainly 16th/17th Venetian.
Over the last few years, under the direction of Fr Lowenstein, this church has increasingly become the place to worship, not just for the old Venetian families and Venices artistic community but for students too. The interesting thing is that this Church, in Venetian terms, is not that significant. It is from the outside an ugly church, the dome is much too large for the facade. What is significant is that it is a Church run by the Fraternity of St Peter, so it only offers the Traditional Rite.

Last Sunday the Ordinary was: Missa "Vidi Speciosam" by T. Luis da Victoria (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei) - Credo III - Communion Motet: "Ave verum Corpus" by William Byrd - Preludio, Offertorio, Communio and Postludio: with organ music Gabrieli, J. Pachelbel ed improvvisazioni liturgiche.
The choir was "Sonore Vocal Ensemble" from Oxford directed by Thomas Primrose, Organ Scholar of Norwich Cathedral.

I was reminded about this Church by a post on NLM.

There is something quite Venetian about the website, which is well worth exploring

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...