Friday, October 30, 2009

Work so far

The basic carpentry work on our sanctuary is done, the steps are in place, the design we submitted to the Historic Churches Committee has been modified a little so we will have to go back to them for approval and approval of whatever will be the final covering, encaustic tiles would be splendid, fitting but beyond our means, at the moment we are thinking about laminated hardwood.

I still haven't found the right place for the chair. I hate sitting Caligula-like facing the congregation and I don't like radio microphones, some parts of the Mass not supposed to be heard, and depending on what you are wearing can make you sound like a crackling bag of crisps, so I want a freestanding microphone. The music stand, I know looks odd, normally we have a book bearer at "High" Mass, I need something for bits and pieces.

On Sundays and feast days we put out more candlesticks, in conformity with the General Instruction. I prefer taller candlesticks, because they add to the vertical, upward dimension. Besides, candles are supposed to give light and small squat candlestick don't illuminate much. The crucifix facing me looks a little strange with another crucifix immediately behind facing the people. I am never quite sure which one to incense, yes it is the Benedictine arrangement but I am sure it is meant to be transitional.

One little thing that I am rather pleased with. it is experimental at the moment is using the piscinae niches as credence tables, at the moment there are huge hunks of ply wood and blutak there, the level needs raising. We don't want to put unnecessary screws into the stone, if we find it works we will use glass or a thin sheet of matching marble. I am trying to keep the sanctuary free of unnecessary clutter like credence tables.

Tonight we'll see how it works in EF, Monday there is a High Mass for All Souls.

Eventually we want to face the altar with the carvings which are now behind it - this is mock up of how it will look - this will be in the final phase, if we can afford it.

So far we have spent less than £20,000 pounds, that includes sanding and sealing the floor, sanding the benches - they have yet to be varnished - moving the organ to the gallery, and the work on the sanctuary, in the next week or so the stone masons will start work on our poor old west window. Then we do the lighting and electrics, and pray for more money - God is good

This is the church las Good Friday, I hope posterity will say we have improved it.

Cormac's new jobs

From the Vatican Imformation Service:

[The Holy Father] Appointed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, Great Britain, as member of the Congregation for Bishops and for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Smearing Poland

Daniel Hannan, not a politician I tend to see eye to eye with, has a little piece on David Miliband's recent anti-Polish rant.

The Sunday before last I had a small group of Poles complaining about a poster which was put up in our porch featuring Stephen Fry who tastelessy reminded his fans Auchwitz was in Poland and therefore the Poles, who were victims, were somehow implicated in the Nazi atrocities. Incidently I had forbidden putting up the said poster, which was for a concert in aid of the Passage, someone else had put it up. After the complaint I had found this poster crumpled and burnt in our Parish Centre Courtyard. The Passage after my complaint and Fry's now notorious opposition to the Catholic Church as a force for good in the world, are reviewing Fry's role in its fundraising.

But back to Poland, is Poland as the largest Catholic country in Europe going to be the target of secularists in the UK and the rest of Europe precisely because it is Catholic, because it supports marriage, the family and other Catholic values? Are we going to see Catholics and Catholic countries increasingly object of scorn and repression? Being anti-Polish, is that a way for politicians to join in the so, so popular Catholic bashing of people like Fry and Hitchens and Dawkins?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pell to Rome

Cardinal Pell celebrating Mass in Newman's Oratory earlier this year

photo: CardiRocco Palmo is suggesting Cardinal Pell may well move to Rome asa Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, which, if it is true, is really good news for us in the UK.

Catholic circles in Rome and Australia are abuzz with speculation that Pope Benedict XVI will shortly appoint Australia's Cardinal George Pell to a prestigious job in the top echelons of the Roman Curia.

Cardinal Pell's experience as Archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne, and his service on a range of Vatican organisations, is seen as an ideal background to take on a senior Vatican job.

Cardinal Pell, who was ordained in 1966, served as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge.

He is also a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and president of the Vox Clara Committee, which advises the Vatican on English translations of liturgical texts used at Mass.

One possible senior job becoming vacant in Rome is the powerful position of Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which helps advise the Pope on the appointment of new bishops across the world.

Its Prefect, Cardinal Battista Re, who has held the job since 2000, reached the retirement age of 75 this year.

Tip to Insight Scoop.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

God is good!

I went into the Church this evening and our choir was practicing for the All Souls Mass next Monday. It is a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, at 7.30pm, if you want to come along. I could have wept with joy but being English I don't do that sought of thing. They were singing the Faure Requiem, some parts were really quite exquisite. I am just amazed how they have improved over the last few months.
I am not blowing their trumpet, actually I am very proud of them and quite biased and admittedly I don't get out much but I don't think that I have heard better in a Catholic Parish Church outside of the Metropolis or the University cities.

Called to Lambeth

A friend of mine was supposed to meet with the Bishop of Chichester today, the meeting was cancelled. Apparently all Anglican bishops have been called to an emergency meeting.

Anyone heard anything more?

Dragnet Ecumenism

Fr Z has started calling the Holy Father, "the Pope of Christian Unity", it is a good title, and yes it is a bit of Liberal bashing, because it is quite a different "unity" that he is seeking than most who are engaged in ecumenical dialogue. Some years ago I asked a Catholic "ecumenical representative", what dialogue they were engaged in with the SSPX, the answer was just a look of confusion.

On the local level in E & W, and I suspect elsewhere ecumenism often appears as a specialism for those with a penchant for weak tea, damp church halls and interminable meetings. Ultimately it seems as if the ultimate end is to foster friendly relationship rather than to establish institutional unity.

For Catholics unity is institutional. We believe that the institution of the Church is given by Christ himself, it is not optional. As Catholics we believe that it is Christ's will that all Christians share in the fullness of the faith, within the Catholic Church.

The great change under Benedict is that unity has been placed at the heart of both the papacy and the mission of the Church as the Vatican II teaches, and has a definite object - full institutional unity. "Gathering into one" is at the heart of his understanding of the Papacy.

The great change that has marked Benedict's ecumenism is its institutional character, it is focused on bishops and churches -or ecclesial communities, we see that in the talks with the Romanian Orthodox, with the SSPX and now with Anglicanism.

As I said in a comment on an earlier post we have been used laymen or clergy coming into the Church and following instruction and discernment being received, the plucking of individual fruit, there appears to be something different here, the reconciliation of bishops and therefore of whole -or significant parts- of Churches by the successor of St Peter. This "dragnet" ecumenism, Peter throws a net into the sea and pulls in a great shoal of fish - good and bad alike. With the reconciliation of the SSPX, the whole of the fraternity will be accepted, including possible sede vacantists, so too with Anglicans. The "sorting" one presumes happens after reconciliation, by the the newly reconciled Church or ecclesial community. I presume we will have to live with anomalies and ambiguities such as the divorced and remarried, in the case of both Anglicans and Orthodox, it will be messey, but the ultimate concern must always be the good of souls.

From My Basement to the Cloister

Br Nicholas Crowe who was clothed as Dominican recently, his story is on Godzdogz. During his discernment process he worked with Brighton Voices in Exile, who I am pleased to say operate out of the basement of my house, doing their best to work for asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
Say an occassional Hail Mary for Br Nicholas.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our New Sanctuary

Whilst I was away in Italy Peter and Radic refloored the sanctuary and side chapels, it was only on Saturday morning that we managed to heave the mensa of the altar in place.

Our intention is to restore the appearance of the Church to what its Victorian architect Gilbert Blount intended, yet still have an altar seperated from the wall, as the Roman Missal says we should.

The main body of the altar platform is place, the steps are yet to be installed.

Mass this morning was the first time in forty years, people could see what was happening at the altar, well behind the candlesticks and smoke.

The space for the chair needs to be looked at, and it feels decidedly cramped on the level of the plano, still the whole gives an impression of space, though in practice every thing is about moving things a few centimeters here and there.

Musings on the Anglican Initiative

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has been complaining that his successor, Rowan Williams was not "officially" informed about the Holy Father's initiative, until Cardinal Levada visited him two weeks before the announcement, he urges him to complain.

Ever since Carey's retirement he has been a thorn in Williams's flesh.

Williams was not "officially" informed before he was officially told what the Supreme Pastor had decided to do, it is the difference between Catholicism and Anglicanism. It is of passing interest that the Holy Father also seemed to have by-passed Cardinal Kaspar and given the delay for the summer vacation, when the the Vatican dicasteries close down, he seemed to have waited until the appointment of Archbishop Nichols.

It is an open rumour that those Anglican bishops involved in talks with the Holy See, mainly the CDF, were expecting an announcement following Easter this year. Judging from the speeches of Cardinal Kaspar, remember "spiritual Alzheimer's" and of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor in May at the 2009 Anglican Synod, it was pretty obvious the Holy See was going to make a serious offer of some sort of accommodation to those "catholic" Anglican's who felt they were being rejected by there own communion.

The announcement last Tuesday should not be a shock to anyone. The Catholic Church always welcomes conversions, reconcilliations, call them what you will. The new initiative of the "Pope of Ecumenism" is that though it welcomes individuals, even Anglican bishops - how I welcome the reports regarding the local Anglican Bishop of Chichester, John Hind, -the real thrust and change that this document brings about is that it welcomes "churches", bishops together with their clergy and people. It is aimed primarily, not at England despite the Pope's obvious interest in England, the visit and Newman's beatification but at those communities in the Southern Cone, in the Americas and Australasia, possibly Africa, where diocese have already opted out, to a greater or lesser degree, of communion with a women's and openly homosexual ordaining Anglican Communion.

I like the way the Pope sets his face to a theological idea and then expects canonists to follow it with the relevant legislation, which he did with the freeing of the Traditional Mass. This is going to be a little more complicated. The theology must be that those seeking communion with the Church must want that - Communion - in its fullest sense. What the Pope appears to be offering however is a home for those who can no longer live within Anglicanism.

Do we really want homophobic, misogynistic ex-Anglican's, many of whom do not believe "all the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God", whose personal sexual morality might not be in exact conformity with the Catholic teaching, coming en masse into the Catholic Church? For a Pope so against Relativism, the legal solution will be very interesting. Possible we are a looking at a process of Communion rather than a single act - interesting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tablet, Newman and Conscience

Who writes those silly editorials for the daft Tablet, is the editrix? If it isn't her, she must be responsible for commissioning them, it must be about time there was a change at the editor's desk, it is getting ridiculous!

The Cause for the Canonisation of John Henry Newman which is normally pretty laid back, in that Oratorian way, takes issue with Ms P's latest piece of erudition, which ends.

The important issue for all Catholics is that anyone of good conscience who seeks to join their Church, be they John Henry Newman, or Tony Blair, or the vicar of an Anglican parish or his flock, should be given a generous and hospitable welcome to their new home.


As The Cause points out the writer has no understanding of Newman and conscience, or for that matter of Catholicism.
The whole issue with Newman was a search for Truth and a rejection the Liberalism

Anglican Option

I have just returned from Genoa, I don't know why it is that Pope Benedict pulls rabbits out of his hat when I am Italy. Many of the Italian papers had references to the establishment of Anglican "Ordinariates", most didn't seem to quite understand what Anglicanism was, nor the nature of the provision.
The best brief summary and analysis I have read on-line, so far, can be found here.

Personally I am not sure to what extent the Apostolic Constitution will touch us, or Anglicans, in England. Few who might consider the "Roman Option" use the Book of Common Prayer or its derivatives the English Missal, most happily use the Roman Missal and other liturgical books, perhaps some might use Hymns Ancient and Modern or an update thereof. Without being unkind I can see very little that might be considered to be "Anglican spirituality". The community this is really aimed at is TAC, The Traditional Anglican Community, and the congregations of Australasia and the Americas.

What is most significant in all of this is the Pope's action, again he has shown himself, as Fr Z calls him, the Pope of Christian Unity. Thank God he has removed Ecumenism from the damp church halls, discussing irrelevancies in a way that neither offends others or provokes serious discussion but simply aims to reduce Christianity to the level of the weak tea drunk on these occasions.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I am away until late Friday. I'll be too busy blog. I am going to Italy, here are some clues as to where.
Kudos points if you can identify the pictures. For some this will be a piece of cake.

Mass today: Advoidem

Courtesy of Henry.
Mass today: the back of the Church, piles of timber; in front of the altar a void; in the sacristy, clutter.
I know it looks as though I levitating but I am on the same level as the altar servers and congregation. I am not that all!

A panoramic view of the sanctuary, cortesy of Clare, with the temporary tabernacle in the foreground, click to enlarge.

The Church will be closed until Mass on Friday evening, all the Masses today were cum populo, the first time some people had experienced it. The only reactions I got were positive.
The last Mass today was was a Traditional Latin Mass, the first Mass on the "bones" of our new sanctuary will be a TLM.

If you can help us financially click the Paypal gadget opr send a cheque, if not at least say an Ave that the work gets done while I am away.

Italian Liturgy

I am going to Italy early tomorrow -Monday- morning for my holiday, I am back late Thursday.

One of the things that often shocks me about Italy is the appalling liturgical celebrations one often encounters, even in Rome.

I remember being present, by accident, at a priest's jubilee Mass, the music was a group of young adults screaming through an over amped microphone, the rag bag of concelebrants each gave there own sermonette eulogising the jubilarian who then eulogised the eulogisers. What most shocked me was that wandering around the church and sanctuary was a man with a camera who filmed everything through his camera, he didn't even put it down when he received Holy Communion.

The above might be an extreme, I would so, but even half as bad would be bad enough. Rorate Caeli reports a survey that might indicate that the majority of Italian Catholics are heartily sick of this sort of thing and crave a more traditional approach to liturgical celebrations.

Another report says that the first Pontifical High Mass in the Usus Antiquior since 1968 will be celebrated this morning by Archbishop Raymond Burke in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St Peters. It will indeed be interesting if the Holy Father mentions this in this mornings Angelus.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Secularists Complain about... Guess Who?

Secularists have been complaining following a speech at Georgetown:

[He] equated atheists to religious extremists and urged the deluded (i.e., faithful) to unite against us. Seeing this sort of bigotry from someone of [his] prominence is disturbing."

[He] never says outright in this address that atheists or atheist activists are just as bad as, say, Al Qaeda, but even giving him the benefit of the doubt, the very fact that he would place secularism and religiously motivated violence in the same context is astounding, offensive, and shows an incredible lack of depth of thinking--not to mention revealing a level of animosity toward nonbelievers on the part of [him] that I am surprised to find exists.

Who is it who has joined my poke a secularist with stick campaign?

Answer here


Friday, October 16, 2009

Vote No!

Fr Tim highlights a poll on "assisted dying", in everyday language that means killing the sick.

It is not about the SSPX

NLM carries a snippet of an article by Robert Moynihan on the formal theological discussions with the SSPX. Recently there have been reports of Bishop Fellay saying these discussions could go on for years, the impression given by him.

Personally I don't think the SSPX are actually that important in these discussions, nor is their reintegration into the Church that important in this context, it would be a happy by-product but most supporters of the SSPX seem happy with their present situation of being in communion with the Church but out of communion with her bishops and clergy and the ordinary form of its liturgy.
What is important is the "assaying of Vatican II". The Council was indeed a Pastoral Council but it also made dogmatic statements Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum, are not purely pastoral documents. The absence of a summary of doctrinal canons or anathemas was seem as an act of liberalism by John XXIII but in fact led to confusion and confusion led to a centralisation of authority, indeed it led to the victory of Ultramonanism, giving the impression that the Pope and his curia rather than being the servant of the Church are its arbitary masters.

The pre-Vatican II hopes for the decentralisation of the Church and wider evangelisation depended on clarity of what was actually at the heart of Catholic teaching, hence the Council's teaching of a "heirarchy of doctrine". It depended on bishops being faithful bearers of the Tradition, therefore they need to be in communion with that Tradition, hence VII's call for a deeper knowledge of Tradition and Scripture (read in the light of Tradition). What we have ended up with is bishops pushing the envelope of doctrine, not only have they confused the faithful about the central doctrines of the faith but are confused themselves. The result has been both a loss of confidence in evangelisation, of which a loss of a sense of vocation is just a part but even more importantly there is a loss of a sense of the centrality of the bishop, as a successor of the Apostles, and therefore a denial of the importance of the local Church, a central Vat II doctrine. It is not only the rise in the power of Bishop's Conferences but also the sense that comes from many in the Curia, which traditional minded Catholics might agree with, that the bishops cannot be trusted to be faithful bearers of the Tradition that has rendered bishops impotent.

Short of calling another Council these discussions are going to be highly significant. One of the other significant issues that must be touched on is the role of the Roman Pontiff's relationship with the Tradition of the Church. When Pius IX was asked to change the "perfidious Jews" Good Friday prayer, though apparently he was in favour of it, he refused saying that he did not have the authority to change the liturgy, the liturgy being "a given" thing, something belong to what had been passed on, not the subject of personal papal tastes.

In Et in Unum Sint JPII, possibly Joseph Ratzinger, states the Papacy is a serious obstacle to unity, in our dialogue with the East and for the present Popes successor there is a need to clarify the role of the office. One of the issues that iis likely to come up in a slightly more subtle form, or maybe not, is what did it mean when JPII kissed the Koran, or prayed with tree worshipping Africans or was blessed by a Voodoo priestess. What Benedict, and the SSPXers wants is for the personal tastes of a future Pope to be controlled and subject to what the SSPX refers to rather nebulously as the "Eternal Rome". Whether it is Benenedict XV or Linus XI should make little difference, it is Tradition not whim that should govern the Church.

"The pope must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God's Word," he said when taking possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on May 7.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have lost my sidebar, does anyone know hjow to get it back?

Why the devotion?

Apart from our parish pilgrimage to Aylesford, some of my parishioners went up to Westminster Cathedral to see the relics. One waited for almost three hours. Why the devotion?
I can't imagine most people have read her autobiography, I am sure that most have but a rudimentary knowledge of her life and spirituality. Obviously one reason for the vast numbers is a reaction to the media coverage. Some might suggest that there is a blurring of faith and superstition, or others that in the presence of the relics there is a hope of miracles, the more pious that here was a meeting of heaven and earth.
But if that is so, why are the pilgrims failing to find it week by week in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament? The answer is that we allow the Eucharist to become ordinary, the visit of the relics is extraordinary. It is the same with the relics of St John Southworth which lie within the Cathedral.
Another reason is perhaps that veneration of the relics is about, "me and God", with a degree of chatter with other pilgrims, a chance for quiet reflection whilst one waits, a degree of being buoyed up by demonstrations of other peoples faith, a touch of asceticism in the wait, all topped off with a blessed rose. Unless you are there for something else too, there is no Liturgy of the Word, no sermon. There is no demand made on the individual except God speaking in their heart.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The predella and the void

Today we stripped off the covering from the predella in front of the tabernacle. Originally there was a top step, where the boards show, interestly it was narrower than the predellae in the side chapels. The altar came out to the stone foundation. The step was covered with green marble effect vinyl tiles which would have looked quite spectacular for the first couple of years

This more of the clutter found under the sanctuary, imagine those light fittings in a Victorian church!

This is our temporary altar arrangement, it is ad voidem for the whole of this week including all Sunday Masses. By the side of the altar are carved fragments recovered from the depths.
Thank you very if you have donated to our restoration fund, many readers have, I am very grateful, I will remember you and your intention at the altar.

From Apostate to Walsingham

I remember years ago a Greek friend of mine telling me that prayers for the Royal Family in his local Orthodox church began, "Let us pray for the Royal Family, for her Gracious and Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth, for her Consort Philip, the apostate ...". I was never quite sure whether he was pulling my leg or not but certainly Prince Philip was baptised into the Greek Orthodox Church. I do not know if he ever became a communicating member of the Church of England, or just pushed religion onto the back burner. The rumours are now that he has returned to Orthodoxy. He has certainly collaborated with the Patriarch of Constantinople on various projects. Recently he became the first "Royal" to visit Walsingham, at least since the Reformation, admittedly to open an Anglican visitor's centre.

Again the Queen, who notoriously is a "low church" Anglican is reportedly unhappy with the direction the ecclesial community, of which she is Supreme Governor, is going.
One of Fr Dwight's alter-egoes has an amusing take on these goings on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Timber and the hole

This morning after Mass we moved the altar, again. The base is quite light, the mensa took ten of us to move it.

The timber for the santuary floor levels arrived on two trucks , one bringing the plywood and the other bringing the massive beams.

Here the floor is removed

Below the sanctuary is a treasure trove of old bits and pieces, light fittings pictured here, but when more of the floor is removed we hope to find bits of the pulpit. ~#

Aylesford Homily

A priest friend of mine, Fr Graham wanted a copy of Fr John Keating O. Carm’s homily at Ayelsford, this for him, it was pretty impressive, once I recovered from that liturgical greeting "Good morning everybody" with its primary school response, "Good morning Father". I know I am being a cummudgeon, and I am not going to go on about the Friars selling pottery chalices, despite there being explicitly forbidden either, You have to take the good with the bad and in the homily and at Aylesford there is plenty of good.
The video of the Mass is here too.


Notre Dame de Namur Sister Genevieve Uwamariya, a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda, told the synod that her life was changed through the work of a Catholic women's group called the Ladies of Divine Mercy.

I am a survivor of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda 1994.

A large part of my family was killed while in our parish church. The sight of this building used to fill me with horror and turned my stomach, just like the encounter with the prisoners filled me with disgust and rage.

It is in this mental state that something happened that would change my life and my relationships.

On August 27th 1997 at 1 p.m., a group from the Catholic association of the “Ladies of Divine Mercy” led me to two prisons in the region of Kibuye, my birthplace. They went to prepare the prisoners for the Jubilee of 2000. They said: “If you have killed, you commit yourself to ask for forgiveness from the surviving victim, that way you can help him free himself of the burden/weight of vengeance, hatred and rancor. If you are a victim, you commit yourself to offer forgiveness to those who harmed you and thus you free them from the weight of their crime and the evil that is in them.”

This message had an unexpected effect for me and in me....

After that, one of the prisoners rose in tears, fell to his knees before me, loudly begging: “Mercy”. I was petrified in recognizing a family friend who had grown and shared everything with us.

He admitted having killed my father and told me the details of the death of my family. A feeling of pity and compassion invaded me: I picked him up, embraced him and told him in a tearful voice: “You are and always will be my brother”.

Then I felt a huge weight lift away from me... I had found internal peace and I thanked the person I was holding in my arms.

To my great surprise, I heard him cry out: “Justice can do its work and condemn me to death, now I am free!”

I also wanted to cry out to who wanted to hear: “Come see what freed me, you too can find internal peace”.

From that moment on, my mission was to travel kilometers to bring mail to the prisoners asking for forgiveness from the survivors. Thus 500 letters were distributed; and I brought back mail with the answers of the survivors to the prisoners who had become my friends and my brothers... This allowed for meetings between the executioners and the victims....

From this experience, I deduce that reconciliation is not so much wanting to bring together two persons or two groups in conflict. It is rather the re-establishment of each in love and allowing internal healing which leads to mutual liberation.

And here is where the importance of the Church lies in our countries, since her mission is to offer the Word: a word that heals, liberates and reconciles.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I bought a sanctuary floor today

Today is supposed to be my day off, at least from after Mass and Confessions, it invariably ends up by not being so. This afternoon I went down to Shoreham docks with Peter our carpenter to buy a sanctuary floor, it arrives tomorrow. The present floorboards are covered in glue, linoleum, mastic, acrylic tiles, more glue and the present horrible stained brown carpet.

I was surprised how cheap it was, less than £1,800. We will have to add the cost of labour then when the work has been finally approved by the Historic Churches Committee we can put a laminated hardwood surface down., unfortunately because the HCC only meets once a quarter, it won't be finished until after Easter.

Nowadays any restoration or "new build" has to take into account both forms of the Roman Rite, even in the recent past, to be faithful to the General Instruction of the Romman Missal Mass said in eithe direction should have been possible. I have been quite insistant that a sanctuary is not a stage, which fortunately is what our architect, Deirdre Waddington, understands too. We have wanted to restore steps up to the altar. It is not just about making sense of the words, "I will go up to the altar of God", but the altar is supposed to symbolise heaven, as well as the hill of Calvary. It is supposed to represent the Holy of Holies and be reminiscent of the bima of the synagogue.

The big problem is putting a freestanding altar into an area designed for the altar to be hard against the wall. We have had to compromise by reducing the planum, the area below the altar to a minimum, it ios not too much of a problem with the Ordinary Form, where the action hinges around the ambo, presidential chair and altar, nor for Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form where the altar is really the only consideration, the problem is going to be with Concelebrated Mass in the OF and High Mass in the EF where there is a need for a certain luxury of space.

We have made modifications to the plans I originally posted, pushing the altar and steps back a little and cutting out an area of steps on each side of the front of the sanctuary, to make space for the chair which will be at right angles to the altar and probably flush with the pillar. The space around the altar has also been reduced so the steps are seen and the servers are visible "ascending and descending". The steps will continue all the way round the altar, the credence table(s) will be placed against the pillars. The servers will have seating in the side chapels, I am not quite sure where we will put a sedillia, we have High Mass on All Souls Day - Faure!
If you can help, we will be grateful.

Green shoots

I see so many good things happening in the Church in this country today major things like:

The Pope's visit to the UK

Beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman

Visit of the Relics of St Therese

The new English translation of the Missal

Announcement of Bishop Longley's move to Birmingham

Ordination of Bishop Moth as Bishop for the Forces

Archbishop Vincent Nichols' appointment to Westminster

Then there are little things, like the quality of so many of those who have been ordained recently, the type of young man that is going to the seminary nowadays, as well as the teaching staff of our seminaries.

There is the growing enthusiasm for prayer, the rise in Eucharistic Devotion, in a more deeply prayerful liturgy, the interest in prayers like the Rosary. There are other things like the way the boys at Westminster Cathedral have started receiving Holy Communion, kneeling and on the tongue and the return to the use of the High Altar there. The increase in the celebration of the TLM, which signifies the hermeneutic of continuity.
Another little thing, the Bishop's Conference have just published online, Jubilate Deo the basic chant of the Church it is just a little thing but it wouldn't have happened a couple of years ago.
Then there are the rumours of a new motu proprio coming shortly which deepen a more prayerful liturgy and a stronger Catholic identity.

I know it is easy to "rain on the parade" and to find negative things or to criticise but I would interested to hear of what you consider to be positive, good things, happening in the Church today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Role of the Russian Church

There is an interesting article here on the influence of the Russian Orthodox, its rise from ashes to its becoming the most influential body in Russian society. I think there are parallels here with what Pope Benedict hopes will happen in the West.

The difference is of course Russia was capable of admitting that society was broken, and the Church had never compromised itself with contemporary culture or turned its back on its own culture.

Damian of Molakai will be canonised today

A priest friend of mine was a little hurt when one of his parishioners met the bishop who asked who her parish priest was, at the mention of his name he rolled his eyes heavenward. Archbishop Amigo, the wartime Archbishop of Southwark, appointed a priest he found troublesome as an army chaplain, with the words, "and personally I hope you get shot."

Fr Damian de Veuster was this type of priest, when he volunteered to go to the leper colony of Molakai his superiors, I am sure, breathed a sigh of relief.

Today this troublesome priest will be canonised as St Damian of Molakai, there are some interesting videos here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Catholic King Meets the Vicar of Christ

King Albert and Queen Poala of the Belgiums are received in audience by the Pope. I just wonder how the President and Presidentina of Europe will greet him.
Pray it is not pro-abortion, "I gave a skip of joy" Tone and "my contraceptive equipment" Chez. There is just too much innocent blood on his hands.

Aylesford Today

We went by coach to see the relics at Aylesford and met everyone, well Ponte Sisto, seminarians from Wonersh, two fronm my diocese, tons from Southwark, one from Oscott, Fr Stephen Langridge who was almost fighting off small potential vocations who wanted to take away buckets of his vocational material. I met a reader, a young women who asked for prayer, that her documentation might be sorted out so she might begin her postulancy in the United States.
There were quite a few people from own diocese too, including one of our Vicars General.

We arrived just after nine and only had to wait about half an hour to venerate the relics, those who did so after Mass I think might have had a wait of several hours. The congregation at Mass extended to halfway round the duck pond, apparently there was a tail back from the friary to the motorway. It's wonderful when Catholics cause so much havoc.

I had a chat with some amazing Ghanaian women, who wore costumes printed with pictures of St Therese. It was impressive to see so many young families, especially young men. Talking to some people it seemed that quite a few of those there weren't attending Mass every Sunday but were happy to accept the invitation to be evangelised, to do something, to be present at something, to be moved by something, to demonstrate their faith, even if was just to themselves. I couldn't imagine many of those I spoke to wanting to join a "small faith sharing group", but they were at Aylesford today.
I thank God that over the next few months there will be many more occassions for such demonstrations or manifestations of faith.
Thanks to Sergey for the photographs

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

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