Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Worthscripe" and "Leitourgia"

I was at an Extraordinary Form Mass recently, the Parish Priest had a preface on the service booklet saying the EF is "worship", the OF is "liturgy".

Worship literally means "worth-ship". Giving worth to something, from the Anglo-Saxon, "worthscripe".
It denotes an act of reverence or respect from an inferior to a superior. It is essentially about a movement "up".

Liturgy from the Greek λειτουργία (leitourgia) meaning a "public work".
Denote some corporate act we take part in. There is no sense of something "higher" or beyond. λειτουργία could exist apart from God. It is about "horizontalism", an act of community.

In part these distinctions actually do signify the difference between the two forms of the Roman Rite. Emphasising "λειτουργία", when speaking when speaking about the Ordinary Form tends to rob it of the vertical dimension, its God centredness.

Over the last year I have been celebrating the EF, rather strictly. Its one striking weakness seems to be [at low Mass] the lack of contact between nave and sanctuary, priest and people, the server is the horizontal dimension.

The weakness of the OF, is that it can easily be more or less all horizontal.

Words have meaning and form our thinking, maybe we need to re-examine the words we use.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Changed Times

Was Prezzer in Harry Ramsden's snarling over a double cod and chips? I am sure I saw Harriett Harman coming out of Primark and a couple of junior ministers in one of Indian Restuarants in Preston Street looking stressed. On Sunday there was an unusual number of suits in the congregation. It is the Labour Party Conference in the parish.

Amongst criminal classes of the city, now is the time for crime and disorder anywhere above or beyond Western Road, down there around the Grand Hotel and Conference Centre you can't move for armed police, bollards, pavements are restricted, its a fortified city. There are boats with policemen in them off shore and presumably the ship on the horizon has missiles at the ready. The sky is empty off the planes that normally go to or from Gatwick.

How different from the days when my uncle had a nice conversation with Mr Atlee and his detective on the tube, or when boys would be photographed standing on the pavement outside No 10.

I know we have had the Brighton bomb and other terrorist outrages but how society has changed, and yet until recently the Queen used to be met out riding or driving on her own in Windsor Great Park.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bishop Cracks Down on Medjugorje

The Bishop of Mostar has issued a series of restrictions on Medjugorje, I am afraid it has been translated by machine, the original can be found here, on the diocesan website, it is dated September 2009.
The Bishop needs our prayers, I am sure he is going to have a difficult time, it can't be easy taking on the Medjatourist industry.
- NO more retreats, spiritual exercises, conferences, foreign priests… without permission of the bishop
- NO own or foreign priests may propagate NON-recognized ‘messages’ or ‘apparitions’
- EVERY priest must show his ‘celebret’ before H.Mass
- NO more H.Sacrament or adoration in ‘Oasis of Peace’; even NO permission to reside in whole diocese [not sure what that last part means]
- NO services in the private church in Bijakovice; it is now closed.
- NO mentioning of ‘seers’, apparitions, messages’ in parish bulletin;
- NO mentioning of the word ‘sanctuary’ in Medjugorje
- NO mentioning or comment of ‘messages’ or ‘apparitions’ on the 25th of the month via Marija Pavlovic
- NO private ‘apparitions’ of Mirjana Dragicevic in ‘Cenacolo’ of Sr. Elvira
- NO permission for ‘Kraljica Mira’(founder : Tomislav Vlasic) in Medjugorje or in whole diocese
- NO ‘seers’ or others in the church to pray prayers from the ‘apparitions’
- NO intentions during the rosary concerning ‘apparitions’ or ‘messages’
- NO ‘seers’ in or around the church on anniversaries of ‘apparitions’ or ‘messages

Here are other recent statements in Italian
Il contesto del "fenomeno di Medjugorje", I.
deals with the role and manipulations of ex-Fr. Tomislav Vlasic and deceased Fr. Slavko Barbaric
Il contesto del "fenomeno di Medjugorje", II.
deals with the phantasies of T.Vlasic and the manipulations of S.Barbaric around the ‘Youthfestival’
Il contesto del "fenomeno di Medjugorje", III.
first deals with the homily of bishop Peric on June 6 2009 in Medjugorje, in which he thanks the Vatican for the support to his negative standpoint on the ‘apparitions’ in Medjugorje. Then he publishes his letter dated June 12 2009, to the present Medjugorje-parish, Fr. Petar Vlasic.

BBC: "As if the body of a dead nun were not enough..."

"As if the body of a dead nun were not enough to excite the nations Catholics we now have news of a papal visit", so Roger Bolton began the BBC's Sunday Programme, yesterday.

I tend to have better things to do most Sunday mornings but occasionally I listen to this programme, normally I come away angry from it.

This morning a brother priest rang me, he was outraged. Outraged by Bolton's introduction and outraged by those the BBC chose to comment on the visit: Ma Pepinster and John Cornwall.

Why can't the BBC ever get mainstream Catholics to talk about the Church? Ms P, had nothing, as ever, to say but Cornwall brought up the Pope's words on Human Ecology, but Cornwall rather than quoting him directly said, "he intimated active homosexuals have more impact on the world than cutting down the rain forests". That is not what the Pope said, but no-one corrected him, certainly not Ms Pepinster, I suspect she was not intellectually or morally capable of it.

I understand last week they had the poisonous Bobby Mickens, The Tablet's Rome corespondent on. I do not know if he was doing usual trick of slagging off mainstream Catholicism or the Vicar of Christ or what, but I am at loss to know why the BBC always seems to think dissident Catholics are worth giving a hearing to, if so why not introduce Ma Pepinster as "... of the left wing Catholic Journal, The Tablet", how they would introduce Coventry, I'll leave that to you.
Where are the dissident Muslims, or Methodists and Mormons for that matter? Only when commenting on the Catholic Church does the BBC invite the far left to come on the programme to further there tired agenda.
If I were a journalist on another more more mainstream Catholic Paper, I would ask why the BBC continually advertises The Tablet, I think is called product placement.

Does the BBC hate Catholicism?
From Bolton's introduction, one might believe so. What concerns me is that the BBC seems to think that they are actually being fair to the Church, to the Pope, to me as a licence payer. Why is it imposing its views on what should be a factual religious news programme.

Listen to it on iPlayer, it is at 37.30, the Sunday Programme can be contacted here, make sure you let them know your thoughts about this programme. I am told the Beeb tends to think one complaint equals the thought of 10,000 listeners or viewers, which means two complaints equal the whole of the Tablet's readership.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Medjugorje: what sense "supernatural"?

Yesterday I put up a post about Medjugorje, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith backing the Bishop of Mostar and referring anyone who asks about Medjugorje to the Bishop's statements about the absence of supernatural intervention.
Despite his words, despite his prohibitions of pilgrimages, lay people, priests, even bishops, even some English ones, flock to Medjugorje. These bishops and priests claim their pilgrimage is private not public, when questioned about this they insist their visit is to support the pilgrims, not because of the seers. This is just plain stupid, Medjugorje exists only because of the so called seers.

The other claim they make is that nowhere else do they experience such a hunger for the sacraments, for Communion, for Eucharistic adoration, for the Sacrament of Penance, for devotion to Our Lady. The people that go to Medjugorje are otherwise mainstream Catholics who claim the experience a deepening of faith, and in some cases conversion. Following Jesus' teaching about rotten trees producing rotten fruit, good trees producing good fruit, the extrapolation is obvious, the fruit is good therefore the seers are good. It is an inversion of Catholic moral teaching, though God can bring good out of ill, we may not do wrong in order to produce good.
Even then we have to ask deep rooted are these conversions and this fervour. Is it really like the seed planted in shallow soil, it springs up full of promise and then whithers and dies. One hears of many short lived conversions in the hills of Medjugorje. Faith based on signs and wonders alone tends to reduce God to the status of the genie in the lamp.
Why is it that Rome's condemnation is put in terms of a reference to the Bishop Mostar's judgement?
First of all because he is the successor of the Apostles in his diocese. The principle of subsidiarity means it is his responsibility. The default position is that the local bishop's decision stands until Rome overturns it. Never has Rome done this in the case of Medjugorje.
Secondly, I suspect it is because Rome really wants to keep the whole issue at arms length. The condemnation of Garabandal appearances distanced many simple believers, who preferred to believe fraudsters rather than submit to the Church. The post-Concilliar post-Humanae Vitae Church is conscious of the tenuous and fragile links people often have with it.

If these visions do not come from God then where do they come from?
As far as I know the local Bishop has rather judiciously neither condemned the visionaries directly of fraud nor the visions as diabolic, he has merely said that they not of divine or supernatural origin. He has certainly brought action against the friars who were involved with the seers, as one of the commentators on yesterday's post says:

The 'succes' of Medjugorje is due not to the 'seers', but to the franciscans, who did exploit this 'goldmine'. But what happened to the 3 big names who did run this hoax? They all 3 played the role of 'spiritual leaders' of the 'seers'!...
1 Fr. Slavko Barbaric ofm :It was forbidden to him by the bishop of Mostar to stay in Medjugorje, where he died in disobedience...
2 Fr. Jozo Zovko ofm : He has been suspended in 1989, in 1994 and in 2004. Now he has been exiled by Rome to the island Badija
3 ex-Fr. Tomislav Vlasic ex-ofm :
He has been suspended last year and is now reduced to the lay-status by Rome. So he is even no more priest
By their fruits .... ?

If it is merely a matter fraud then there is substantial evidence that Medjugorje collectively has done well out of the "religious tourism" as have the parish clergy, as have the seers.

I find it difficult to attribute human folly or sinfullness to the devil, let's not give him too much credit, but in the case of mysterious happenings, if the visionaries are not fraudulent or deluded, if rosaries are being turned gold, if the sun truly dances or spins and there is no natural explanation then we have to look to a supernatural explanation. The Church, through the bishop and the CDF have discounted a divine origin, therefore the only other supernatural explanation is diabolic one.

What is devil's interest in it?

The most obvious, is the seperation of the sheep from the shepherd, from the local ordinary and if he condemned it directly, from the Pope.

An over-emphasis on charismatic gifts and personal revelation.

A distortion of the image of God.

I am sure you can add to the list.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Holy See: Nothing Supernatural at Medjugorje

The Holy See has backed the Bishop of Mostar over the "so called seers" of Medjugore. This homily was sent me by Simon Caldwell who said:
"It shoots to pieces the repeated claim by Medjugorje advocates that the Vatican still has an open mind. Clearly, the Vatican supports the Zadar declaration of 1991 that said there was no supernatural activity at Medjugorje and takes the view that nothing has changed."

Homily given during the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation in the parish of Medjugorje
The Bishop, 2009-06-06
Finally, a word or two on our local situation. From the 17th to the 24th of January this year I was in Rome and had the opportunity to first of all greet the Holy Father during his General Audience and ask for his blessing for our entire Church in Herzegovina. I also visited the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and thanked them in particular for informing the bishops of the region of Toscana, in Italy, who had asked the Congregation during their “ad limina” visit what position to take regarding the phenomenon of Medjugorje. The then Secretary of the Congregation, Archbishop Angelo Amato recommended that the bishops convey to the priests and faithful of their dioceses the homily that was given here in Medjugorje during the rite of Confirmation, on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ in the year 2006, which they then did. Cardinal William Levada, the current Prefect of the Congregation then told me: “We advise this to everyone who asks us about Medjugorje”. During my visit I could see that the competent Congregation as well as the Secretariat of State are closely following our local events in Herzegovina and we are most grateful to Pope Benedict XVI and the Apostolic See for their charity and concern.

I therefore stand by everything I said and dutifully demanded from this very place three years ago: from the Franciscan fathers who are the pastoral ministers of this parish, from the parishioners and other faithful, as well as from the so-called seers; that the presumed daily apparitions, known as the “phenomenon of Medjugorje”, have not been declared as authentic by the Church. Not even after the investigations of various commissions nor after 28 years of media hype. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we cannot behave as if these “apparitions” are authentic and approved. If as Catholics, loyal sons and daughters of the Church, we wish to live according to Church norms and teachings, glorifying the Holy Trinity, venerating the B. V. Mary ever Virgin, the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of God who was Assumed in heaven and wish to confess all that the Church teaches us in the Creed, then we need not search for alternative “apparitions” and “messages” whose character the Church has not acknowledged as supernatural!

See also:
15 June 2006: Bishop's homily in Medjugorje [Hrvatski, Italiano]
24 April 2005: Bishop's homily in Medjugorje [Hrvatski, Italiano]
14 June 2001: Bishop's homily in Medjugorje [Hrvatski, Italiano]
1 July 2000: Bishop's homily in Medjugorje [Hrvatski, Italiano]

Being read

Emminences, Excellencies, Monsignori, Fathers, Many thanks for logging in.
3% of Readers are in the Vatican. There seem lately to be an increased number of people who log onto this blog with a Holy See IPS. The number seems to have risen after the Williamson debacle and Fr Lombardi said that the Vatican would be monitoring the internet more closely. I know other more distinguished bloggers have noticed an increase in Holy See and Rome IPSs on there blogs.

Abortion: not my field

Lots of American sites have picked up and been outraged by Roger Cardinal Mahoney's interview in which he says when asked about abortion, "That is not my field, immigration, that's my field."

Fr Sean's 20th Anniversary

Fr Sean Finnegan celebrated his twentieth anniversary of ordination last night at Shoreham with Mass in Usus Antiquior. It was fascinating to see the traditional Mass in a contemporary setting. I preached a rather lack-lustre sermon. I was very impressed by the beauty of the music, especially the singing of the celebrant, who chose the most glorious and difficult of the Preface tones. I was pretty impressed too by the servers and by the deacon Rev Richard Edwards who made his "debut" in the EF as sub-deacon.
And yes, the church is that red, well, almost. It gives an odd sense of busy-ness, especially with the green marble altar, ambo and font all crammed onto the sanctuary.
Ad multos annos, Father.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Anglo-Saxon Gold

The amazing find of Anglo-Saxon gold, so much of it seems to be be decorated with cross in some form.

What the Pope should talk about

I am sure that he will speak about a whole raft of issues rarely addressed in Pastoral Letters, or sermons, all those things that Cardinal Hume said didn't apply to England, this seems to have been exactly what the Pope has done other foreign tours.
Nevertheless his Brittour is going to be interesting if the Ad Limina visit takes place early in the 2010, only to be followed by the visit, we can well expect the various to be just a little more interested in England.
If Newman is beatified in May, it seems likely that the Holy Father will visit Birmingham Oratory.
I was very struck by this provactive piece by David Lindsay:
When Pope Benedict XVI comes to Britain next year, then I hope that he will have plenty to say about social justice, a term which the Church invented. Plenty to say about peace. And plenty to say about sex.

He will, after all, be visiting a country where condoms are practically thrown at children. Yet sexually transmitted infections are at epidemic levels among teenagers and twentysomethings. One woman in three will have an abortion at some point in her fertile life. No one really knows how many underage pregnancies there are, because abortions on underage girls are frequently recorded as other things, if at all, in order to distort the figures. Hardcore pornography is everywhere. Lap-dancing clubs, unknown here (except perhaps in Soho, I don’t know) even only ten years ago, are now all over the place.

Everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone, should read my friend Ann Farmer’s Prophets and Priests: The Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (Saint Austin Press, 2002). In addition to its unyielding racism, the war against fertility is, and has always been, the war against the working class, the war against the poor at home and abroad, the war against the electoral base of the Left, the war against the social provisions for which the Left exists, and, above all, the war against women.

The idea of fertility as a medicable condition, requiring powerful drugs or even surgical interventions to prevent a woman’s body from doing exactly what it does naturally, is basically and ultimately the idea that femaleness itself is such a condition, a sort of XX Syndrome. I can think of nothing that is actually more misogynistic than that, although some things are equally so, notably the view that the preborn child is simultaneously insentient and a part of the woman’s body. Is it the whole of a woman’s body that is insentient, or only the parts most directly connected with reproduction?

No one did more work than the then Cardinal Ratzinger on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which magnificently presents the inseparability of the sanctity of life, sexual morality, social justice, and the pursuit of peace. When he comes here as Pope, let that be his theme.

wonder what place the

Our Lady Walsingham

The Wrecks of Walsingham

In the wrecks of Walsingham
Whom should I choose
But the Queen of Walsingham
to be my guide and muse !

Then, the Prince of Walsingham,
Grant me to frame
Bitter plaints to rue thy wrong,
Bitter woe for thy name.

Bitter was it, O to see
The silly sheep
Murdered by the ravenous wolves
While the shepherd did sleep.

Bitter was it, O to view
The sacred vine,
Whilst the gardeners played all close,
Rooted up by the swine.

Bitter, bitter, O to behold
The grass to grow
Where the walls of Walsingham
So stately did show.

Such were the worth of Walsingham
While she did stand,
Such are the wrecks as now do show
Of that Holy Land.

Level, level, with the ground
The towers do lie,
Which, with their golden glittering tops,
Pierced out to the sky.

Where were gates are no gates now,
The ways unknown
Where the press of friars did pass
While her fame was blown.

Owls do screech where the sweetest hymns
Lately were sung,
Toads and serpents hold their dens Where the
palmers did throng.

Weep, weep O Walsingham,
Whose days are nights,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to despites.

Sin is where Our Lady sat,
Heaven is turned to hell,
Satan sits where Our Lady did sway --
Walsingham, O farewell!.

No other act symbolises the end of Catholic England than the destruction of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the burning of her statue at Chelsea. It marked the rejection of the Catholic idea of Grace. The model of the fragility of the Christ child in the arms of the fragile Virgin, was replaced by the state in its might imposing its will on the Christians of England.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

842 Ordinations at once

I had often seen this photograph realising it was an ordination to something, at last NLM has given the answer.
...they show the simultaneous ordination of 842 Priests which took place at the XXXV International Eucharistic Congress of Barcelona in 1952. In the Olympic Stadium of Montjuich, 21 altars were erected, at which 21 bishops celebrated synchronized Masses during which they ordained about 40 priests each. The bishop of Barcelona, Mons. Modrego Casáus, celebrated at altar 12, and his voice was amplified by microphone throughout the stadium. In the middle, a schola of 300 seminarians from all across Spain led the people in chant.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Atheists Kill People

I happened to mention in my homily yesterday that atheists killed, according to some experts, in excess of 100 million people in China - this figure includes the Great Leap Forward.

After Mass a group of us discussed St Thomas' "Five Proofs", he ends each by saying, "... and this we may call God". For him God is the "Factor X" in the universe, though ultimately unknowable, it is knowable through reason, intuition and through revelation. It is benign intimately connected to mankind, for ultimately Factor X becomes Jesus Christ, Love made flesh.

An atheist Factor X is just the infill in the gaps in theories, and rather than being about wonder wonder or awe for atheist X = ignorance at best. The guiding principle behind the universe, if there is one, is either randomness or worse, competitive red in tooth and claw, Darwinian natural selection. Most atheists tend to see Man, both individually and collectively at war with the world around him, with his fellows. We see this in Marx's "class war", in Dawkins' "selfish gene", it is not benign, it is agressive, at its heart is "survival of the fittest.

It reduces love to chemical attraction, or self interest, there is a pessimissism here beyond anything Augustine could possibly put forward. More than that, death and destruction are its keynote, because man's survival depends ultimately on his conquering and destroying others, it is the embodiment of the "Culture of Death".

For Christians the guiding principle is "Life", atheism is about death. Therefore in the 20th century atheism lies behind Mao Zedung, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot. Atheists seem to be behind not just abortion but eugenics, family planning, radical feminism and the gay movement, political extremes of capitalism and communism and practically every evil I can think of.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reactions to St Therese's Relics

I don't know if my own diocese is the only one in the country to have declined to receive the relics of St Therese. There are logistic problems with our Cathedral being in the ducal town of Arundel which isn't exactly at the pulsating heart of things, so it is most probably easier for many of us to get to Westminster, Portsmouth or even Aylesford. Even so it seems a shame, I of course would have loved her to come here.
I was rather touched by the Bishop Hollis' remarks, after the relics rested in his Cathedral for a night and a day, .

“Over the years of the history of our Diocese and our Cathedral in Portsmouth, we have witnessed many great events and occasions. But, for sheer intensity of prayer and real devotion, I doubt whether any have matched what we have experienced during the hours of the visit to the Cathedral of the Relics of St Thérèse.

“There have been many occasions when I have been intensely proud to be the bishop of our diocese of Portsmouth, but never more so than now. I will keep the memory of these days and, I hope, the graces that have flowed from them forever in my heart.”

Apparently almost 5,000 people came to pray.

Meanwhile in The Times Matthew Parris fulminates:

Just when my disbelief [in atheism] was flagging — not for want of certainty but out of weariness with banging on — comes a report that energises me with anger. The relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century Roman Catholic nun, have arrived in Britain for a month-long tour of England and Wales.

What? And we’re reporting this deadpan — and not in the Wacky World pages of light magazines? “Organisers said that the arrival of the casket, containing pieces of her thigh and foot bones, was likely to attract hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.” I’m sorry: “pilgrims”? Isn’t the word “dupes”? Does balanced reporting require neutrality even towards the self-evidently preposterous? Would a conference of the Flat Earth Society get giggle-free treatment on the news?

And in the Guardian Simon Jenkins ends a slightly less vehement article:

Relics are jujus, religious placebos for the credulous classes, which presumably includes the inmates of Wormwood Scrubs. Most of us find them ghoulish. But other cultures think the same of our eating meat or worshipping football or reading the stars or anthropomorphising animals. In the hierarchy of weird pastimes, relic worship must be among the most harmless. We do best to regard it as a test, not of our power of reason but of our power of tolerance.

Interestingly, he says Cardinal Hume vetoed the possibility of an earlier tour of the relics.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Flying Saint

Yesterday I celebrated the the Feast of St Joseph of Cupertino, the flying saint. His miracle working abilities, his levitations make him a little difficult for us to palate in a world of rationality, which presumably is why in the Ordinary Form he is not even an Optional Memoria. I love saints who do challenge us, they are real signs of contradiction.
Da Mihi Animas has a short account of his life.
And here for your weekend entertainment are my favourite parts of "The Reluctant Saint: The Life of St. Joseph of Cupertino", the whole of it can be found here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Do not clericalize the laity

clericalisation of the laity in the Diocese of Linz

In his speech to the Brazilian bishops at the end of their as limina visit the Holy Father said “Do not secularize the clergy and clericalize the laity”. There is always a danger of priests becoming social workers, accountants, museum keepers, political agitators, it fact a whole host of things other than proclaimers of the Word, through the sacraments and preaching.

The problem is even more grave when the laity become clericalised, when lay ministry is seem primarily as doing something on the sanctuary. I winced recently when con-celebrating a funeral and the PP announced, unnecessarily, the arrangements for Holy Communion, drawing a distinction between priests and "ministers" meaning Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The ministers are after all extraordinary, in the sense of being auxiliary, helping the priest out when there are such great numbers that he is unable to cope.

Other parishes I know head rotas with terms such as "Ministers of the Word" meaning readers, "Ministers of the Altar" meaning altar servers, "Ministers of Welcome" meaning people who give out the hymn books. There are other "Ministers" and "Ministries" hospitality, liturgical environment, children's liturgy etc., etc.

I am sure these are real "ministries" the problem with highlighting them by the term, is that there is a tendency not to highlight the much lay ministries of Christian witness of simply living out the faith. The couple living out their marriage are fulfilling a real lay ministry through their loving and bringing up their children, the same with the old lady bearing her loneliness and illness, or the young man or women living chastely in a sexually charge world. By emphasis on doing things on the sanctuary or in Church we forget the the singular importance of the central teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which was that the Church's function was to sanctify the world.

Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, being Christ in the world is the real function of the laity. Putting lay people on the sanctuary in as large a number as possible is an aberration. We need to find ways of spotlighting proper lay ministry.

Almost fifty years on that damned poltergeist, the Spirit of VII, has if anything stifled the real intent of that Council. There are now less committed Catholic families, less committed educators, less Catholic politicians, healthcare workers, trade unionists, business men and women, scientists, artists, writers.


See what Paulinus has come up with, this is #1.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

St Therese's Shrine

We erected a shrine to St Therese of Liseiux, which will remain in place during the visit of her relics to this country. We have arranged a parish visit to her relics when they come Aylsford.

The Catholic Herald has a site on the visit.

One of the good things about having put the organ console in the organ gallery is having space in the church to do things like this. On Saturday I have a wedding, it will be the first time that a couple will have space to kneel.

The floor is a vast improvement, we still have to varnish the benches and raise the floor levels on the sanctuary, then it is the lighting.
Thank you to all of you who have so generously donated via the Paypal in the sidebar.

Men are...

The loss of Christ as a central model for our culture creates all types of problems.

The model that most men have of being manly is essentially dysfunctional, for Catholics the model is Jesus, strong, compassionate loving self giving. "Conversion" for men is often more difficult them than for women, for women it is pretty easy to understand Jesus loves them. For men this is today more difficult, being loved by a another man, in our society has all sorts of post-Freudian connotations. For most men speaking of Christ as someone who loves them is an obstacle. First, we have to speak of Christ as the model and preceptor for manly virtue.

A parishioner was telling me about an Opus Dei priest talking to a group of youths about how to stand walk and behave like a man. He sent this video link, I am not sure I agree with all that is being said, but it is interestingly provocative.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Death of the Bishop of Shaanxi

Asia News reports the death of Bishop Bartholomew Yu, underground bishop of the Diocese of Hanzhong (Shaanxi).

Bishop Bartholomew Yu was ordained bishop of the underground Church in 1981, following the ordination of the official Bishop LouisYu Runshen. The area of Hanzhong has a long tradition of radical communism and the Patriotic Association has always lorded over the life and activities of the Church trying to suffocate it slowly.

Mgr Bartholomew Yu was a witness of fidelity to the Pope, reviving the Christian communities around him. From the place where he lived, Gulupa (Chenggu), he helped give birth to numerous vocations to the underground priesthood as well as many unofficial female religious vocations, distributing their evangelising presence throughout the territory, especially in poor neighbourhoods and rural areas.

An important fact is that even the priests of the official Church, seeing that the patriotic Bishop Louis Yu did not dare to seek reconciliation with the Pope went to him for guidance and help in their vocation to live in obedience to the Church. Meanwhile, Mgr. Bartholomew Yu built a growing unity between the official Church and the underground Church through his friendship with the late Msgr. Anthony Li Duan, of Xian.

A turning point in the life of the Diocese of Hanzhong occurred just before the death of John Paul II, when Mgr. Louis Yu asked to be reconciled with the pope. A funeral mass for the late Polish pope was also a ceremony of reconciliation between the two bishops who celebrated the Eucharist together for the first time in decades

Papal Court of 1967

Gloria TV recently put up this video of the Palm Sunday Liturgy of 1967 in the Sistine Chapel. It shows a glimpse of the Papal Court before it was hit by a tsunami of radical change. What is so striking is the age of the participants.

Is L'Osservatore Romano Catholic?

Alright I am being provocative, but in a recently published interview with Tony Blair, it was so sycophantic, it was scandalous: no questions about his support of abortion, his promotion of "gay" partnerships and adoption, of contraception or for that matter of his a-theistic, "we don't do God" stance whilst in office.

See Fr Tim's take on it.
John Smeaton has a piece on it too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Her station keeping

The sword pierces her heart as the lance pierces his.
Christ suffers for humanity, she for her Son.
He undergoes the Passion, she the Compassion.
He embraces the Universe with outstretched arms, she embraces him.
He stands between Heaven and Earth, she between the Church and her Saviour.
He gives His life for the World, she is given to the Church.

The bad Pope Alexander VI, did several good things, one was to suppress the Feast of Our Lady's Swoon, saying the Gospel says, "She stood!"

Patriarch of Jerusalem in London

CNA The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, said recently that the future of Christians in the Holy Land is unsure, unless Christians in the rest of the world take concrete steps to sustain them.

In a conference organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) at the Cathedral of Westminster in London, Archbishop Twal said last Tuesday that emigration has drastically reduced the number of Christians in Israel and Palestine.

The 10,000 currently in the region could drop to 5,000 in 2016, he said, warning that the pilgrimage made by Benedict XVI in May has not yet lead to the “breather” that the minorities need. “Discrimination today in Israel threatens both Christians and Muslims,” he stated.

Referring to the wall in the West Bank that prevents Palestinians from have access to basic needs such as health care and education, the Patriarch said, “We have a generation of Christians who cannot visit the Holy Places of the faith that are just a few kilometers from their places of residence.”

During a Mass he celebrated earlier, Archbishop Twal thanked ACN for its untiring support. “We count on you and your collaboration. Without you what would our future be?” he said.

After warning of the grave crisis that many Palestinians face, he remarked that it seems “politicians are more afraid of peace than of war and prefer to manage the conflict instead of solve it.”

In the occupied territories, the people “are completely at the mercy of the Israeli army, and currently in the Gaza Strip people live under the strong arm of Israel which has created a drastic humanitarian crisis,” the archbishop noted.

During his visit to London, the Latin Patriarch met with bishops of England and Wales as well as with other organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Order of the Holy Sepulcher.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Avoiding the Cross

The sign we give at the celebration of Mass most probably really illustrates the real attitude most of us have to the Cross, it hangs about behind us, loons over our shoulder but is mainly ignored.
Something very profound is being said when crucifix, altar, tabernacle and priest are seperated. When the priest actually stands with his back to the Cross, stands between the Cross and the congregation rather than linking them. When the Cross becomes a mere backdrop to the liturgy rather than its focus, what is being said?
Despite Jesus' words most of us avoid the Cross, few of us want to embrace it or to adore this instrument of death and salvation.
It is fallen human nature to run away from anything that speaks of death, pain, self abnegation. It is uncomfortable for us to acknowledge we are sinners and that Redemption is dependant not on us but on the Crucified Christ.
The criticism of contemporary catechesis and the modern liturgy that it avoids the Cross and Sacrifice should not be dismissed lightly, it is the very "crux" of the Gospel.
Quite literally, most of the Gospel's are about Jesus' Passion and death. Page for page, verse for verse the Gospels are about the Passion and Crucifixion, not teaching, not miracles and not even the Ressurrection.
The New Testament or New Covenant is made through the death of the Lamb on the altar of the Cross. It is Christ's death we are meant to proclaim until he comes in Glory: When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Done by Atheists

Fr Dwight has found an article/advertisement in the Telegraph illustrating aetheist T shirts. He rather wisely says:
However, my own feeling is also that too many of us Christians partially have ourselves to blame for the new wave of atheism. Loud, stupid fundamentalists help to produce atheists. Bigoted, angry and legalistic traddies help to produce atheists. Wild, wacky and superstitious charismatics help to produce atheists. Unthinking, religionists who demand blind obedience help produce atheists.
I rather like the idea of polemical T shirts. How about this as an idea, the slogan "Done by Atheists"
  • with a picture of the killing fields of Cambodia
    of Soviet Gulags
    Nazi Concentration Camp
    an abortion
    20th Century Christian Martyrs
  • various modern torture devices
  • ugly Communist era buildings

I am sure you can add to the list.

Similarly "Done by Believers" T shirts could be illustrated by
  • different types of acts of charity
  • most works of art
  • pictures of saints
  • most scientific discoveries
The possibilities are endless, I like the idea of the Sistine ceiling or Galileo's telescope or a 19th century hospital ward.
The problem with atheists is they have no soul, if something can't be explained, it can't exist. Dear old Dawkins explains "love" in terms of "selfish genes". I have never understood how that explains beauty especially sublime music.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Walking a Tight Rope

Mad as a box of frogs comes to mind.
Have a look here, and just as crazy look here.
Despite appearances this man is not a Catholic bishop, when not being an "Old" Catholic clergyperson he his a Brighton drag artiste!

Summorum Pontificum 2nd Anniversary

Fr Zuhlsdorf, that Colossus, asks for feedback about Summorum Pontificum, Monday's the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the second anniversary of its implementation. Some of the accounts from English diocese, if they are true, should cause the Holy See some concern. For the most part people seem to be saying there has been little change, there isn't a great flurrey of additional Traditional Masses being said.

I think most of Fr Z's correspondents miss the point of Summorum Pontificum. I am sure the Holy Father is not displeased with what has happened so far. Sum. Pont. is about encouraging the celebration of the Traditional Mass but it is much more than that, it is primarily about the Church living in peace with itself and with its history. It is about the hermeneutic of continuity.

It is about bishops and priests respecting the things that their parents understood to be holy and sacred.

When I was a seminarian less than a decade after the liturgical changes, we experimented with all sorts of "liturgies", the only thing which was forbidden was the "Tridentine" Mass. One heard, not too long ago, about seminarians in Rome being expelled, or being blocked from orders, for attending the Traditional Mass or being too close to the FSSP or ICKP. Sum Pont is about overcoming this.

In my diocese before its publication there were about three priests celebrating the Traditional Mass, two years on, the number has more than doubled, mainly with younger priests celebrating the Mass.

I don't think the intention was that every parish would immediately offer the Traditional Mass on Sundays, although a good thing, that would be a rupture with the immediate past, something the Pope would see as undesirable. I think the intention is more the "gravitational pull" of "Tradition". This for me was most evident in the installation of new Archbishop of Westminster, a real contrast with the installation of his predecessor.

In my youth liturgical "experiment" involved coffee tables, not wearing vestments, pottery vessels, bean bags, nowadays that is soooo yesterday. Today experiment is more likely to be about Gregorian chant, ad orientem, classically cut vestments, silence, receiving communion kneeling.

What the Pope has done is to give his blessing to a grassroots movement, which includes theology, morals and holiness too, as well as liturgy, that will come to fruition in a generation or two. Gradual growth and deep roots are his concern, he is not a quick fix Pope.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mother Richard: a book and her baptismal entry

Joanna Bogle phoned today to tell me she has been commissioned by Gracewing to write a book about Mother Richard. I have invited her down to give a talk when she has sufficient material. She wanted to see her baptismal entry, so I have copied it here, it is easier than e-mailing it. It is the bottom one. I thought readers might be interested too, it is significant that for some reason her Solemn Profession has not been noted, maybe things were different before the 1915 Code of Canon Law, anyone know?
Some of you found some interesting things out about her, Joanna would be interested in anything anyone might know. Leave a note here, the same if through her intercession some miracle should occur.
Obviously until God grants some sign that will lead to her beatification by our Mother the Church we can't encourage cult but it would be good to encourage a loving admiration for her. I sent off an e-mail this morning to the Postulator of her Cause, Mgr Oscar Sanchez, asking for permission for us to publish a prayer card, all these things have to be checked and cleared, we can't we shouldn't even hint that someone is in Heaven, if they are not. I must check out the day of her death and get out the black vestments for a Requiem.
Any ideas

Spanish Polychrome Statues

One of my favourite Museums is in Vallodolid, the Museo Nacional de Escultura, it has the most glorious collection of Spanish polychromatic sculpture.
Anna Arco has post on an exhibition that is going to be put on in London next month called The Sacred made real, she also shows this fascinating video to help you make your own statues, which shows everything from carving to painting and gilding.

Meanwhile, Fr Richard Alladics writes a little about Valladolid's most famous statue, La Vulnerata, a statue placed in the care of the English students in Valladolid after it was desecrated by by us English during the sack of Cadiz.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Reform of the Reform: Summorum Pontificum a model

It looks as though the rumours about a "Reform of the Reform" are true. I had a journalist on the phone yesterday from one of the nationals asking about it. I don't think he read this story.

There were lots of rumours last year about Rome refusing to renew the indult for deviation from the Church's norm of communion on the tongue, kneeling. There was talk about using Latin for sacramental formulae. Documents like Sacramentum Caritatis reminded us that things like the communion plate were still to be used, that music was supposed to be chant or polyphony.

The signs the Holy Father has been giving; the way he gives Holy Communion, his choice of vestments, the occassional public -always private- ad orientem celebration of Mass, the type of music that is chosen for his public Masses seem like bricks placed ready for building. His encouragement of the Traditional Mass with Summorum Pontificum is yet another factor.

People like Frs Lang -from the London Oratory- and Bux have been appointed to the CDW both of whom have written and speak on the importance of ad orientem worship and the importance of Latin, of the celebration of Mass within a traditional framework. Cardinal Arinze and Archbishop Ranjith the head and deputy of the CDW spoke of the importance of reverence in the Mass, of adding and subtracting nothing from the Rites. The dimunutive -small men tend to find ways of getting themselves heard- Cardinal Antonio Llovera Cañizares, known as little Ratzinger because of his commitment to everything the Pope teaches is now the liturgy supremo.

My point is that there are documents already in place, there are people in place, there are models in place the big problem as always is that no-one is listening or looking at the signs.

Cardinal Antonio Llovera Cañizares problem is how to communicate what is there. New legislation imposed with force will do little, except to distance the disobedience. More rebellion is hardly good for the Church.

I have said before on this blog, I think the way forward is shown in Summorum Pontificum. The Pope is not a creator of tsuanamis in the Church but of gentle movements. In Summorum Pontificum he lays the blame for the Traditional Mass not being celebrated at the feet of Bishops, he places the choice of celebrating it in the hands of individual priests, the bishop has the pastoral responsibility of ensuring the Church's rites are made available to God's people, it is not their role to restrict them or to alter them but to ensure they are celebrated according to the mind of the Church.

I suspect that if the Prefect of the CDW issues a document, it will be be to remind bishops of their proper role of oversight rather than alteration of the liturgy, as the Holy Father has already done in SP, and possibly to remind them of what the documents already say, and what is commendable in the proper celebration of the Church's liturgy.

The Holy Father is conscious that he is elderly, that any beneficial change will be gradual and take at least a generation to take effect, what he is concerned about is putting the building blocks of "Reform" in place. What we do not want is change based on papal whim or preference, which will not be lasting and possibly swept away by a successor but something based on clear law and documentation.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


An 18th-century absolution certificate granted by the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem.

I was talking about Indulgences the other day you could see on the faces of some of the congregation that look of "that is pre-VII" and then a look of perplexity when I suggested people read Paul VI's Indulentiarum Doctrina, the Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, every Catholic should read it. It is perhaps the most authorative document on the Atonement since Trent.

Indulgences go back to early times when those about to suffer martyrdom would be asked to unite their with those of public penitents later holy hermits were asked to do the same.

Monday, September 07, 2009

De Floribus

I am still in a rage, still fuming. This is my piece of therapy for today.

Last night I slipped on a particularly slimy piece of gladioli our Polish community had left on our newly varnished floor as I processed into Mass. I went flat on my back and now I have a bruised backside.
I prefer people to remember the Gospel and their encounter with Christ rather than the antics of the priest deliberate or otherwise, at Mass. If one of elderly parishioners had walked there, they could easily have broken a limb.

The latest diocesan health and safety seminar: Slip, Trips and Falls, will have whoever caused this accident attending it.

I had already removed some arrangements which had been placed in front of the altar. The whole point of altars nowadays being free-standing is so that they be walked around. You can't walk round it if flowers are placed immediately in front of it.

Not only were they there but they were so full of water, water was spilt all over a very beautiful and expensive Turkish carpet in front of the altar, I'd bought in memory of my mother. If it has been spoilt by being felted at least we can make an insurance claim.

Not only that, but more flowers had been placed on the mensae of the side altars, over the very sepulchers of the relics of the saints, they to were seeping water.

Altars are meant for sacrifice, not for floral decorations!

Three or four years ago, we had a pastoral letter in which our bishop wrote about the ecological disaster caused by the African cut flower industry. So much water is used, the water table is significantly lowered, local people starve because they haven't got the deep wells needed to irrigate their food crops. I expect my parishioners to use and buy flowers responsibly, in future I will add safely!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Via Media

Fr Dwight has an interesting post on the Anglican idea of the Via Media, that absurd Anglican notion that that somehow the English genius discovered in the 16th century a third way, the true way between Catholicism and Protestantism. This risible notion is still pushed by Anglicans today.
This view sees the Catholic faith of Augustine, Gregory, Cuthbert, Wilfred, Hilda, Swithun, Becket, Anselm, Moore and Fisher, and a countless host of others as an extreme, on the edge. It was a not so subtle way of presenting the ancient faith of the English as something foreign.
It presumes the very opposite of the actual meaning of "Catholic". Catholicism is mainstream Christianity. Leaving aside the continuation of doctrinal authenticity and apostolicity, to be a Catholic is to be a mainstream Christian, in purely numerical terms:
Catholic 1,115,000,000 (just over 1.1 billion)
Orthodox/Eastern Christian 240,000,000
Conservative Protestant* 200,000,000
Liberal Protestant 150,000,000
African indigenous sects 110,000,000
Pentecostal 105,000,000
Anglican 73,000,000

The best that can be said of the Anglican doctrine of the Via Media, is that it enabled the state to gather together those who embraced the Protestant Reformation with those who resisted it in an English form of Latitudinarianism. It underpinned Anglicanism's role as a instrument of the English state's system of church government or repression, and enabled Anglicanism to follow on the coattails of imperial expansion.

I remember once being set an essay, "The Anglican Church is more a system of Church government than a Church - discuss" I know I ended by saying, "The road to hell is a broad way...".

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Stripping of the Altar

I had a telephone call from Fr Mark Elvins this evening, before becoming a Capuchin friar he was a curate here. He is the author of Catholic Trivia.

One piece of trivia he told me was that Gladstone's sister was received into the Church here. She was somewhat eccentric and so caught up in the liturgy that she wore the colour of the day. Her enthusiasm for liturgical imitation apparently overcame her on Holy Thursday when at the stripping of the altar, she had to be restrained from removing more than her coat!
Now that is active participation!

The Earth and all Her Sacred Hearts

American Papist presents this video.
It is important that children are taught to respect the environment, to have a regard for the "common good" but pledging “allegiance to the earth and all Her sacred hearts", "Earth Mama", the mixing up of The Creator and the creature moves us to idolatory.
I don't know if the short haired elderly women in this film are nuns but this is one of the issues that seems to be behind the theological visitation of American religious, which is going on at the moment. Christianity can very easily descend into Deism.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Reception for the Patriarch of Jerusalem

From Mike Cowie of Aid to The Church in Need

Tuesday, 8th September 2009
His Beatitude, Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem will be celebrating and preaching at the 5:30pm Mass at Westminster Cathedral. Afterwards he will give a speech in Westminster Cathedral Hall. Drinks, canapés and other light refreshments available. Entry to the hall is free.

Brindley's Collection

One of my erstwhile parishioners was the former Anglican clergyman and Vicar of Holy Trinity Reading, Brian Brindley. He became a Catholic layman after the Church of England ordained women, and in his words "proved itself not to have been Catholic". I once asked him if he found it painful not celebrating Mass, he replied. "Father, I have never said Mass in my life, I once thought I did for a period in my life but I was mistaken".
His house was extraordinarily cluttered, a mixture of things ordinary, domestic and banal, things antique and ecclesiastical and things which it was best to not to look at too closely. I used to be summoned to bring him The Lord when he was ill. He promised me the relics he owned, including one of St Andrew, for our Church but nothing came of it.
For the first time I visited his old Church's website after reading Liturgical Notes.
That church, of course, is the the former very Protestant proprietary chapel which owes its present adornment to Fr Brian Brindley. I am told by friends that the pulpit in 'Georgian' baroque was thrown out of the City Church of All Saints in Oxford when Old Mother Damnable flogged it to Lincoln College for a library. The screen, from Pugin's Cathedral in Birmingham, was thrown out when the papists vandalised it. The retro-altar is the famous Belgian baroque altar with the reversible tabernacle from a one-time daughter church of S Thomas's, S Paul's Walton Street in Oxford, thrown out when OMD sold it to the entertainment industry. Also once in S Paul's the monumental scagliola portico-style entrance into the church from the Sacristy. And in the North Chapel the baroque altar inscribed 'PAX' from the ballroom at Nashdom, which, when that House was our principal Benedictine Abbey, will often have been used by our great scholar, wit, and mystagogue Dom Gregory Dix.
The Church, where according to Fr Anthony Symondson, who preached at his funeral, "he celebrated the rites of Paul VI according to the rubrics of Pius IX", reflects his domestic collecting.

More on Mother Richard

Anna Arco in the Catholic Herald as a story about Mother Richard, our Servant of God in this weeks edition.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pontifical Council presents "Fit for Mission?"

News from Lancaster
The Pontifical Council for the Family is to present the Diocese of Lancaster’s
Marriage Preparation Course, Fit for Mission? Marriage, issued by PO'D before his retirement, to participants at an International Seminar to be held in Rome (10th-11th September 2009) on the theme, ‘The Family as the subject of Evangelisation’.

Communion: is there a difference?

Question: Father, is it wrong to prefer to receive communion from the diocesan Bishop rather than an ordinary priest?

Someone asked me this recently. Obviously we do not receive more of the Body of Christ by receiving from a bishop, we receive Jesus Christ, whole and entire: body, soul, humanity and divinity whenever we receive Holy Communion.

The First Communion of a child or the Communion of a repentant sinner after many years away from the sacraments is likely to be more significant than a persons 396th Communion, the Church has always understood this. Likewise Easter Communion is supposed to be preceded by Lenten penance and the reception of the Sacrament of Penance, Easte Communion is supposed to be the Communion of whole Church. The reception of Holy Communion however is about even more than receiving Christ.

The reception of Communion from the Pope signifies a very real Communion with the Universal Church. The Pope giving Communion to the disident SSPX bishops would imply Communion in a more significant sense with the Mystical Body, something above and beyond what these bishops would receive in their own daily Mass.

The old practice of kissing the bishop's ring before, and the case of a cleric offering the Sign of Peace after, receiving Holy Communion from his hands ritually expresses the acceptance of his authority and one's submission to the Church. Are we here talking merely about sacramental fruitfullness or are we dealing with Sacramental Grace?

So the next question: is there a difference in reception of Holy Communion from a priest and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion? Is there something lacking in Communion distributed by someone who is not ordained?
Is it a matter of the reception of Holy Communion being also about being in Communion with the minister who distributes it, does an Extrardinary Minister of Holy Communion
undermine this expression of Communion?

Cherie: more advice

Condom promoting Cherie Blair that "staunch" Catholic has being criticising the Church again. This time for holding back the careers of women.
This points to the big divide: the Church sees human beings fulfilled by relationships whilst Mrs Blair sees fulfillment in by being an economic cog. Incarnate spirituality versus materialism.

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...