Saturday, January 30, 2010

Church in bed with the Government

Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, Oona Stannard of the CES and Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Eric Hester quotes this from the Catholic Education Services of England and Wales in an article in the Catholic Herald:
This Government consists of people of great integrity, is pro-life, pro-family and so it is good news that it is putting before Parliament a scheme of compulsory sex education which will apply to every child in a maintained school in England, which includes all Catholic schools except independent schools.
Integrity, pro-life, pro-family, tend not to be words generally associated with this government, unfortunately Mr Hester doesn't actually cite where this comes from. It is in a Catholic Herald article by him entitled: How we lost control of sex education.
I really am concerned by the CES's attitudes to sex education, I am concerned by Bishop McMahon's words about not looking at the domestic lives of Catholic headteachers and civil partnerships. I pray that during the Ad Limina visit a few words might change the direction the CES is taking.
I hope that some people in the Vatican ask questions about the Church's cosying up to the Government, it seems as if we are rendering unto Caesar the things that are rightly God's.
There is the obvious question of the reception of Mr Blair, with no demands for a renunciation of his pro-gay, pro-abortion and anti-family stance. There is the issue of the adopotion agencies and the Church's supine backing down from any challenge. There is the issue of the head of the Cafod who actually shared a house with Paul Goggins, a government minister.
I hope someone will question the Church in England and Wales about its relationship with the government.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Canon Bullivant's Dilemma

I think this a photograph of the Canon
Canon Ronald Bullivant was the Vicar of the Anglican Church of the Anunciation in Brighton from 1953 -1989. He was very 'igh and very much a Brighton institution, one of those holy, impressive Anglo-Catholics. I remember a conversation I once had with him in which he said he very much wanted to be in communion with the Holy See, but his problem was he said,
"If I was received into the Catholic this evening, I would have to throw into the dustbin that which I had consecrated, honoured as God and knelt before this morning, I just couldn't do that."
It seems to be a similar problem to the one mentioned in the previous post. Canon Bullivant was very proud of his ordination pedigree, which I think went back to at least one of the Father's of Trent. He believed, many of his "spiritual sons" who found there way across the Tiber believed him to be validly ordained.

Rational, contributors are invited to respond to the Canon's dilemma.

On the Gathering of Anglicans

I rather admire Archbishop John Hepworth, primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, he works tirelessly for Christian unity, and was instrumental in the Pope issuing Anglicanorum Coetibus, which as a former Catholic priest, now married, he will never personally fully benefit from.
Last week he issued a Pastoral Letter “On the Gathering of Anglicans”, which is well worth reading in its entirety.
For a Anglican friend of a friend who welcomes the Papal initiative but has grave issues of conscience concern re-ordination, he believes he is validly ordained and to deny this and repeat a sacrament would be an act of sacrilege, I reproduce this excerpt:
What of the re-ordination of clergy?
. . . Not only the ordination of women to all three sacred orders, but the redefining of the Anglican understanding of itself as part of the “Church Catholic” that the ordination of women has necessitated, has introduced more than grave doubt about the validity of any Anglican Communion ordinations. It is now difficult to determine whether any particular Anglican Bishop has any intention to do as the Church has always done, when he (or she) specifically intends to do that which the Church has never done. The almost complete elimination of what was once a dominant Anglo-Catholicism from many provinces of the Anglican Communion has removed the clearest statement of Catholic belief about Holy Orders from the Anglican consciousness.
. . . It is my wish, and I believe the wishes of my fellow bishops, that every deacon and priest in our Communion has a certainty of validity that rests, not on the winning of a theological argument, not on the best that was available at the time, but on the indisputable certainty of Catholic practice. I have said to a number of priests that when they are saying Mass in the crypt of St Peter’s on the tombs of the Apostles, I want them to be able to look to one side and the other and to know with absolute certainty that their priesthood has the same objective reality as the priesthood of those on either side.
Finally, I commend this development to your prayers and the deepest parts of your conscience. I believe with all my heart that this is a work of God and an act of great generosity by Pope Benedict. The Anglican tradition that we treasure will only survive, I believe, across the generations yet to come if it discovers the protection of apostolic authority. It is my cherished wish that each of us can stand at the altar with our fellow Christians and receive the same Eucharistic Christ. That is the ultimate test of unity. In the centuries since the church in the West became fractured there has been no offer such as the one that is now before us. For Anglicans, Unity has been a dream beyond reach. Now it is a dream that can be fulfilled. I understood when I became a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion (in a dark period of my life when it became impossible to practice my priesthood in a diocese about to ordain women) that this was a Communion heading towards a goal. It had separated from the Anglican Communion. Instead of drifting at the whim of wave and wind, it had chosen to head towards the only realistic destination, that from which Anglicans had separated centuries before. I was grasped by that vision of those who founded this Communion. We are now in the waves just beyond the harbour entrance. Pray God that we have the courage to enter and make our homes there.
thanks to Rorate Caeli

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pope of Christian Unity: East West Dialogue

I find this rather innocuous statement the most exciting news for sometime, another of those significant rabbits of this Pontificate: "the international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches", as it is called, "is continuing to discuss the role of the Pope in the first millenium and then move on to his role in the second millenium".

Discussion of the role of the Pope as Et in Unum Sint points out is crucial in the work of Christian unity, now it is being discussed.
Read Sandro Magister's analysis here.

Director of Public Prosecutions: Misuses his Office?

I tend to believe in co-incidences rather than conspiracies, however MPs Ann Widdecombe, Jim Clark and Jim Dobbin have asked, in an Early Day Motion why the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer brought Kay Gilderdale to trial for murder for assisting her daughter to commit suicide.
a) the Gilderdale case satisfied all his criteria for an assisted suicide that should not be prosecuted
b) why he should have brought an attempted murder charge when he has never even brought a prosecution for assisted suicide under the Suicide Act 1961.
Is this a misuse of his Office or the fruit of a government so myred in spin that uses that it uses this sad case to form public conscience?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ad Limina News

The Bishops of England and Wales arrived in Rome yesterday, today The Holy Father received in separate audiences nine of our prelatest:
- Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishops George Stack, Alan Stephen Hopes and John Arnold.
- Bishop Declan Ronan Lang of Clifton.
- Bishop Brian Michael Noble of Shrewsbury, accompanied by Coadjutor Bishop Mark Davies.
- Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff.
- Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns S.M. of Menevia.
I understand they have all been invited to attend Vespers at St Paul outside the Walls to join the Pope in prayer for Christian Unity, in particular for the success of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My advice to the Pope's MC

I do not normally criticise the Vicar of Christ but ...

When I was in Rome I had lunch with a couple of priests who were going to see Mgr Guido Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies. I was very tempted to get them to suggest that at Papal liturgies, at the very least, not only the Pope but everyone should distribute Holy Communion to the faithful kneeling and on the tongue. The Holy Father's present practice is absurd and nonsensical, he gives Holy Communion in this way and every other bishop, priest, deacon and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion around him gives the Lord to people standing and however the recipient wishes. The Pope's current practice seems to be about reverence for his distribution of Holy Communion rather than Holy Communion itself. As the Pope constantly reminds us, the liturgy is not about us, it is about God.

I must confess, I always feel angry at Christmas and Easter, often at funerals too, when so many people come to receive the Most Holy with apparently no outward understanding whatsoever. I feel on those occassions I am obliged to take part in a mass act of sacrilege and profanation. To be honest it scandalises me and shakes my faith.

In England and Wales, the rules of our bishops, ratified by the Holy See, are that people should form a queue and receive Holy Communion standing, there is no reference in the bishop's instructions to show the sign of reverence that is called for in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, indeed the GIRM doesn't identify what thisn of reverence is.

I know that some places have restored altar rails and some priests "invite" people to kneel, but this actually contrary to local law. Obviously the people may choose to receive in this way, the norm in the Universal Church is to receive kneeling and on the tongue, but in England and Wales the priest has no right to require them to do so.

My problem is that a lack of external reverence both indicates and causes a lack of interior reverence. I was pleased that the parents of our First Communion children asked, unprompted by me, for their children to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, despite their peers at our school receiving in the hand, the children prepared by us still receive with reverence on the tongue.

That really brings me to my main point, if we loose a sense of reverence for Holy Communion then we rob the Lord of His power to "... only say the word and my soul shall be healed".

Returning to Papal Liturgies, I pray that none of the huge jambourees happens near me, I dread the prospect of some priest, or possibly nowadays an EMHC, turning up on my front door asking me to take a polythene sack full of consecrated hosts. That happened during Pope John Paul's visit here.

Below is a link to a video of Bishop Schneider speaking about reverence in receiving Holy Communion from a post on Te Deum Laudamus.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pope: Priests, use blogs!

Pope Benedict said in a message prepared for the World Day of Communications, suggests such possibilities as images, videos, animated features, blogs, and Web sites.

"The spread of multimedia communications and its rich 'menu of options' might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web," but priests are "challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources," he said.

Benedict said young priests should become familiar with new media while still in seminary, though he stressed that the use of new technologies must reflect theological and spiritual principles.
"Priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ," he said

Friday, January 22, 2010


This is a picture from John Sonnen's amazing blog. It is, I think, the altar I had the privelege of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on in Rome a couple of weeks ago. It is the FSSP Church of Ss. Trinità dei Pellegrini, it was part of the hospital complex where St Philip Neri and the primitive Oratorians washed the feet of pilgrims to Rome.
It was quite strange experience, there was no congregation just me and the angels and saints. The footpace of the altar is incredible narrow and rather rickety, it is difficult to genuflect on, I tried kneeling on it for the prayers after Mass, it was so uncomfortable and my knee was playing up, I ended up by standing, I know, I am unmortified!
I was so overcome by the history of the place, all those countless priests who had stood where I had stood, said what I had said, that long line of holy and not so holy men. That's the "kick" I get out of the old Mass in an old Church, at an old altar, it is something about "roots", or the hermeneutic of continuity.
But it was more than that, I was struck by what an immense privelege it is to simply offer Mass and even just to be able pray, to continue what had happened in that Church and the City of the Martyrs for centuries and would continue to happen long after I am no more. There was something immensely consoling to know my prayer, and maybe St Philips, somehow mingled at the same altar. That somehow it was of tremendous importance and yet of no imporrtance.
One of the beautiful things about the old Mass, for a priest, at least this priest, is that nothing depends on him, all is really about what God does. The priest just stands in God's presence and serves bringing nothing of himself, just his priesthood - it is wonderful to be there.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mgr André-Joseph Léonard

I like what I hear of the new Archbishop of Brussels, Mgr André-Joseph Léonard; he has taken the name Joseph the patron of Belgium, which seems a good sign of his marriage to his diocese. He’s 70, he’s got five years. I am in favour of old men in a hurry. Like Pope Benedict he seems to have set himself and his diocese clear priorities. Great Popes, great Bishops seem to have had limited reigns. Younger men seem to think they have all the time in the world and perhaps achieve little because they spread themselves too thinly.

The new Archbishop seems to want to get to know his clergy by visiting his diocese. He wants to promote prayer, through reverent celebration of the liturgy, in line with the tradition of the Church and through Eucharistic Adoration. He has already proved himself avid in promoting vocations 35 of Belgium’s 71 seminarians are in his former diocese.

He is going to be a complete change from Cardinal Daneels who seems to have been around since the dawn of time. That seems to have caused problems from the media, especially as he has suggested the Belgium Church, in the immediate past has been to passive. If you haven't done so yet sign the petition in support of him. I am 3263.

Josep Samsó i Elias to be beatified

The Holy See has announced the beatification of the martyr Josep Samsó i Elias, killed for the faith during the Spanish Civil War.
Father Samsó was imprisoned in 1936 because he was a priest. He did not let his incarceration halt his prayer, however, following a strict schedule that enabled him to read his breviary, meditate and organize moments to pray the rosary in a way that the guards did not catch on.

He also heard the confession of some of those detained, becoming a catechist and apostle for all, always affable and encouraging, and sharing with prisoners the things that visitors brought him.
His captivity ended with his death Sept. 1, 1936.
The morning of his execution, he took leave of his fellow prisoners with his usual "God above all" and, with his hands bound, was taken to the cemetery of Mataro.
After going up the steps, he asked to be unbound and wished to embrace those who were going to kill him.
He told them that he forgave them as Jesus forgave those who nailed him to the cross.
When they tried to cover his eyes, he asked that they not, so he could die looking at the city of the faithful whom he so loved.
Father Samsó offered his life to Christ with serenity and died with words of forgiveness for his executioners.

Monday, January 18, 2010

TLM: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today.

What is the way forward for Christian Unity for us Catholics?

Five years ago a "Unity Service" in a Catholic church might have consisted of the Sally Army band playing, the local Vicar preaching, a Methodist or Baptist doing a few prayers.

This morning at coffee with some of parishioners I frivolously suggested that next year our Friday evening Traditional Latin Mass would be our "Unity Service", and maybe I would invite a SSPX priest to preach and possibly if it was a High Mass get a Greek Orthodox to sing the Gospel in Greek before the sermon. Anglican's who were considering union could sit in choir and a Coptic friend could sing a hymn about the sanctification of the altar before the Introit and a Mel kite could sing a hymn to Our Lady during the Last Gospel!

It would cause a bit of kafuffle in the diocese, so maybe it won't happen - at least not the SSPX preacher- but I was trying to illustrate how ecumenism has changed in the pontificate of the "Pope of Christian Unity". We have moved on, full unity with the SSPX is likely to happen; unity with "Catholic" Anglicans is going to happen. Maybe unity with the major Orthodox Churches is still further off, but maybe not so far off with the minor ones that are uncomfortable being in the orbit of Moscow, Constantinople and Athens.

Unity with the Protestant "Churches" is a dead duck. In fact, with the ordination of women and gay ordination they are moving further away from us than they have ever been. We can still build friendly relations but sacramental and theological unity is impossible.

One of the exciting things about this Pontificate is that dream of the Vatican Council for real tangible unity and reconciliation is becoming a reality, rather than a pipe dream.

What fascinates me is that for the SSPX, “Catholic” Anglicans, the Orthodox the Traditional Latin Mass far from being a source of division, it is a factor in the search for unity!

Bishop McMahon: No problem with civil partnerships

Fr John Boyle runs a report on Bishop Malcolm McMahon's interview with The Tablet. Bishop McMahon is chairman of the Bishop's Conference's Catholic Education Services.
In the interview the Bishop says that the Church should not "investigate" - or one presumes enquire or even take into account headteachers private lives, that is whether they are following Christ's teaching on the permanence of marriage.
He also states that he has no problem with "gay" civil partnerships.
Do read Fr John's article.

This follows Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Education's statement that the CES endorsed his plan for compulsory sex education.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Catholic Theology and Theologians

I was a little smug in the last post, and a little unkind, about the members of the dissident theology group, it provoked a number of ad hominem comments naming individuals, so I have removed it.

There was a very serious issue here; it touches the nature of theology and theologians: what is it, what is their purpose?

St Thomas says that theology is faith seeking understanding.

An earlier definition of a theologian runs, "A theologian is one who prays, one who prays is a theologian".

In the late 20th century we tended to make theology an academic discipline, separating theology from faith and contemplation.

The problem with any academic exercise is that it pushes boundaries; it offers plaudits only for those who shake things up. When theologians are appointed by an academic institution they tend to search for those who pull more exciting rabbits out of hats. The problem for Catholic academic theologians is that they are limited by Revelation; they can only go so far, there are many theologians now who would describe themselves as "post-Catholic" or "post-Christian".

The nature of Catholic theology is that it is not an academic discipline but an ecclesial one. Its purpose is not to further research or push boundaries but to deepen faith and enhance mission, it cannot be separated from the Church, or from prayerful contemplation. Properly, theology belongs to the Church's bishops who are, or should be, faithful bearers of The Tradition".

For us theology doesn't make sense except with in The Tradition. Pope Benedict exemplifies the role of a Catholic theologian, what he contemplates he tries to explain. The ultimate forum for theology isn’t the university lecture hall but the pulpit. Von Balthazar saw in the Transfiguration the role of the theologian, he sees glory and mystery and tries to reveal it. St Thomas’ reported words, “All I have written is straw compared with what I have seen”.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Archbishop dies with his people

Pray, pray, pray
and give, give, give for the people of Haiti.

Donations may be sent to Missio Haiti through the London office at 23 Eccleston Square. This will be used to rebuild the shattered Churches in Haiti. For further information, please phone 020 7963 6829 or e-mail Monsignor John Dale at

Schonborn sees the Pope

The Holy Father received Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna, Austria today in a private audience after his visit to Medjugorje, this followed the plenary meeting of the CDF.
Can you imagine the conversation?

Dissent near Westminster Cathedral

What has happened to the Daughters of Charity next to Westminster Cathedral? I used to think they were a good thing. Before Christmas they had Stephen "I think the Catholic Church is evil" Fry fronting the appeal for their appeal for their homeless centre, "The Passage", then, I accepted their explanation that it was naivety. Now they are hosting a meeting for the dissenting group that includes such speakers such as Robert Nowell, critic of Church teaching, translator of Hans Kung and assistant editor of the Tablet  and Sr Myra Poole, critic of Church teaching and women's ordination activist.
They belong to a group STANDUP4VATICAN2, which seems to be very much in the vein of  "We are the Church" and other "Nu-Church" groups, its chairman is a Bernard Wynne who also runs Catholics for a Changing Church. Though it claims to "stand up for Vatican 2" it is run by a gerontocracy who want us to see VII as a rupture with the Tradition, very much at variance with the teaching of the Holy Father and the Council itself.

Obviously this an attack on the direction the papacy is taking the Church. These old men and women want to turn the clock back, stifle the Spirit. They are terrified by the effective ecumenism of the Pope, of his liturgical liberalism, his assault on secularism and his placing God at the centre of Church life.
There is a poll you might want to vote on.

Sad, that the sisters have allied themselves to this cause, are they really a hotbed of dissent or just hosting this group for the money or through stupidity?

England the Black Hole

Living in one of the Casa de Clero in Rome, even for short time, means that despite one's best efforts one hears gossip.
I was a little surprised that three or four Curial officials implied or said outright dealing with the English heirarchy was incredibly difficult, much more difficult than most of the worlds heirarchies.
One conversation contained the following rant... "We write gentle letters, they ignore them". "We insist more strongly, they acknowledge receipt of the letter but we hear nothing more". "We press for the resolution of a matter, they respond by saying they will be brought it to the attention of the relevant Bishop's Conference or Diocesan Committee."  "We ask 6 months, a year later, if the matter has been dealt with, invariable the response is, "not yet", it goes on and on".
"England and Wales" , someone else said, "is the black hole".
"Does the Pope know that?" I asked.
I got wry smile, "As Prefect, he spent 20 years waiting for England and Wales to respond to him, suffering the same frustration as the rest of us, maybe now he is Pope, finally...., but then he is only Pope".

Monday, January 11, 2010

From the Eternal City

Yesterday I looked up a few old friends and joined one or two in prayer, I was amazed by the numbers at the papal audience yesterday, the piazza was almost full.
The crib had an unexpectant occupant
this is an exclusive, a real cat. Anyone lost one? Haven't anymore time, must shop, then eat, then gossip!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Petar Zrinski

I have just been sent a link to a video site by Petar Zrinjski, it is mainly chant with rather interesting images.

From India

In response to my last post I had a recommendation from a priest friend in Wales for this company who are based in India, delivery is about 10 days, apparentyly the vestments are well made and lightweight.
I don't think they are to my taste but less than $400 for a High Mass set, under $200 for a funeral pall, a thurible for $49, it is worth looking at.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Just to annoy a passing liberal

Just to annoy a passing liberal.

I hope I am going to Rome on Saturday. I'll be staying in the Casa de Clero in the Via della Scrofa, just in case anyone wants to leave a visiting card.

Does anyone know where I might be able find a set of albs for High Mass, preferrably vintage and cheapish? I haven't been able to find anything in the shops immediately around the Pantheon in the past.

Again just to annoy a passing liberal.

With all this snow I must get a snow length cassock made.

If I can think of anything else to annoy the passing liberal, I'll add it later.


Fr Z has an interesting post in which he applies his red script to a statement by a Bishop Vasa from the US arguing that Excommunication should be used in cases where grave scandal is given the faithful. The ever fascinating Lion and Cardinal by co-incidence has this text of an Excommunication from the Rochester Library.
By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and of the holy canaons; and of the undefiled Virgin Mary, mother and patroness of our Saviour; and of all the celestial virtues, angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, cherubins and seraphins; and of all the holy patriarchs and prophets; and of all the apostles and evangelists; and of the holy innocents who in the sight of the holy Lamb are found worthy to sing the new song; of the holy martyrs and holy confessors; and of the holy virgins; and of all the saints together, with the holy and elect of God:

We excommunicate and anathematise him, malefactor, and from the thresholds of the Holy Church of God Almighty we sequester him, that he may be tormented, disposed and delivered over with Dathan and Abiram, and with those who say unto the Lord God, depart from us, we know not Thy ways. And as fire is quenched with water, so let the light of him be put out for evermore, unless it shall repent him and make satisfaction. Amen.

May the Father who created man, curse him. May the Son who suffered for us, curse him. May the Holy Ghost who was given to us in baptism, curse him. May the Holy Cross which Christ for our salvation triumphing over his enemies, ascended, curse him.

May the holy and eternal Virgin Mary, Mother of God, curse him. May St. Michael the advocate of holy souls, curse him. May all the angels and archangels, principalities and powers, and all the heavenly armies, curse him.

May St. John the forerunner and Baptist of Christ, St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Andrew, and all other of the apostles of Christ, together curse him. And may the rest of his disciples and the four evangelists, who by their preaching converted the whole world, and the holy and wonderful company of martyrs and confessors, who by their holy works are found pleasing to God Almighty, curse him.

May the holy choir of the holy virgins, who for the honor of Christ have despised the things of the world, curse him. May all the saints who from the beginning of the world to everlasting ages are found to be beloved of God, curse him. May the earth, and all the holy things remaining therein, curse him.

May he be cursed wherever he be, whether in the house or the stables, the garden or the field, or the highway, or in the path, or in the wood, or in the water, or in the church. May he be cursed in living, in dying, in eating, in drinking, in hungering, in thirsting, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in walking, in standing, in sitting, in lying, in working, in resting, in pissing, in shitting and in bloodletting.

May he be cursed in all the faculties of his body. May he be cursed inwardly and outwardly. May he be cursed in the hair of his head. May he be cursed in his brains, in his vertex, in his temples, in his forehead, in his ears, in his eyebrows, in his cheeks, in his jaw-bones, in his nostrils, in his foreteeth and grinders, in his lips, in his throat, in his shoulders, in his wrists, in his arms, in his hands, in his fingers, in his mouth, in his breast, in his heart and purtenance, down to the very stomach, in his reins, in his groin, in his thighs, in his genitals, in his hips, in his knees, in his legs, in his feet and in his toenails.

May he be cursed in all the joints and articulations of his members, from the top of his head to the soal of his foot: may there be no soundness in him.

May the Son of the living God, with all the glory of his Majesty curse him, and may heaven with all the powers which move therein, rise up against him and damn him unless he repent and make satisfaction. Amen. So be it, so be it. Amen.


We had a Missa Cantata last night; I don't particularly like this form of celebration, its beige, not High Mass with all its majesty or Low Mass with all its austere silent beauty. I don't think God likes either, we don't do it much, last time we had one was the Feast of the Purification, and God sent snow and kept people away, and last night he sent snow and kept people away.

There was me, and Andrew in the sanctuary, just one server! Then there were five in the choir, including the indomitable Bara Brith from Blackfen, I was hoping to speak her afterwards but she and the choir had gone by the time I cleared things away. Then there were about another five in the congregation including Rosalea (I hope I have that right) from the Traditional Latin Mass Community Edinburgh, who had come over on the train via Bognor and Chichester, with her guide dog.

Intrepid, I call that, entrusting yourself to BR with the wrong sort of snow, intrepid to come from Kent, intrepid to come from parts of Brighton were ice can be lethal.

Who will fill the vacuum?

One good reason for not having retired Archbishops in the House of Lords is Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, sometimes he talks sense, often not. Whatever he says is presented as opposition to the present incumbent. Recently he has been speaking about Islamic  immigration. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the outgoing Archbishop of Prague has been saying similar things, maybe a little better:

“if Europe doesn't change its relation to its own roots, it will be Islamized.”
“Europe has denied its Christian roots from which it has risen and which could give it the strength to fend off the danger that it will be conquered by Muslims-- which is actually happening gradually,” he said. Muslims “easily fill the vacant space created as Europeans systematically empty the Christian content of their lives.”
“At the end of the Middle Ages and in the early modern age, Islam failed to conquer Europe with arms. The Christians beat them then,” he added. “Today, when the fighting is done with spiritual weapons which Europe lacks while Muslims are perfectly armed, the fall of Europe is looming.”
I can't help feeling that what both Archbishops are forgetting is that foreign immigration is actually necessary to the economic survival of Europe. The contraceptive, anti-family policies of  all European or Western  governments mean we are not reproducing ourselves, there is population vacuum. We actually need immigration to maintain funding for government spending. Who, if we don't have immigration at its present levels, will fund pensions for the elderly; let alone military and healthcare spending?
It pays governments, who always in a democracy, have a short to medium term view, to import adult workers who have received their education abroad, paid for by their own governments. Our universities too, are in a large part subsidised by foreign -often Islamic- students.

Cardinal Vlk said that “Neither the free market nor freedom without responsibility is strong enough to form the basis of society". Long term we have to make a choice as to what is the basis of our society. I fear Muslims with exploding underpants and footwear but they are the exception. I fear too the underlying racialism that lies behind the statements made by many Christian leaders. I am convinced that what we need to fear far more than Islam is anything which creates a void in western culture. The void, the weakness, that is most obvious in the west, is children and reproduction. Abortion and contraception, the anti-family mentallity is our great enemy, not Islam.
Our aging population needs to be replaced, if the native population won't do it, who will?

The Shame of Evreux

This video has been appearing in various places on the blogosphere. When I first saw it, I thought better to ignore than publicise it, I find it truly shocking on so many levels. There is contempt for the bishop, the High Priest, the Successor of the Apostles and a contempt for the Mass, the Sacrifice of Christ.
What I find so appalling is the complete absence of a sense of the "Sacred". This a holy rite, reduced to a political demonstration.
What priest, what bishop would allow this to happen in a Church?
What bishop would think it appropriate to celebrate Mass in such a situation, to bring the Mass into such contempt?
God save and have mercy on the Church in France. I fear for the eldest daughter of the Church's virtue.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Epiphany: TLM Missa Cantata

Ours is on, at 7.30pm.

Maiden Lane's is off, I have been asked to let people know it has been cancelled.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

This and That!

My Greek priest friend, who happens to a professor of theology in Athens: I just couldn't be bothered with roasting a lentil, a partridge maybe but not lentils, so I took him to a very nice veggie restuarant.

Work has begun again in the Church, the scafolding tower is up, so paint can be cleaned away from clerestory windows, so we can forestall the effect of the paint on the stone.

It has been snowing again, this is the view from my front door, so more broken arms in the congregation. This is a tip, if it is icy wear socks over your shoes, you look eccentric but it stops you slipping and maybe breaking something.

Today someone pointed out that during the thaw last week, the snow guard on the church roof had been bent over, I heard a grinding sound whilst I was praying in the church: a great sheet of ice had obviously come off the roof crashing into the school playground below. It was too slipery to go and look. Had they not been on holiday children would have been under it when it fell, it was their playtime. Unless our diocesan insurance covers it, I don't know what we will do.

You know I discovered one of our parishes has three quarters of a million pounds in the bank, I bet that parish priest doesn't have sleepless nights worrying over health and safety issues: such is the Diocese of Arundel Brighton!

Our Crib

Some people have asked to see our crib, well here is, with the rather wonderful vintage plaster figures we managed to acquire last year, they or at least the casts they were made from seem to date from the first/second decade of the 20th century. I haven't yet decided when to take it down, after this Sunday or after the Purification/Presentation on the 2nd of February.
What happens elsewhere?

Triumph of Grace

I seem to have depressed some of you yesterday, I 'm sorry.
Bare facts are often depressing, "...but we rely on the Lord Jesus Christ".
The theological virtues, are that, "theological", based on our understanding of God.
Charity is not just being kind to one's neighbour but loving God first and foremost.
Hope is not just wishful thinking but a deep knowledge that God will triumph.
Faith isn't a peripheral intuition about God but an ability to trust Him, even we are crucified and feel nothing but His absence, and cry out with Christ, "My God, my God why have you forsaken me".

Today's readings, beautifully express the nature of Hope.
The disciples are overcome by what they don't have, by their lack. There are so many people and they have no food, dispondent they want to send the crowds away. Christ asks what they do have, they find "five loaves and two small fish". The point out the fish are small. They are so overwhelmed by their inability they forget Christ and his blessing. He takes the meagre ration they have, blesses it, and by his power all is transformed, the hungry are fed, sorrow is turned to joy.

It is so easy for us to see what we lack, to be overcome by wreck and ruin about us. The Church in ruin, nothing but gloom and disaster around us. We can do the same in our spiritual lives, nothing but sin and addiction to vice, a downward spiral to damnation. This is Pelagianism and its ugly daughter Jansenism, both are the spawn of Arianism, the denial that God has come amongst us. Real Christianity believes God has come among us and we have seen his Glory. It is not our sin that matters, or even the chaos around us, because ultimately it isn't about us, but about God, and not our love for Him but His love for us.

The story of the Incarnation is about the triumph of Grace and our living in a sacramental existence fill by Grace!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Of you charity, pray for Rose

She was depressed, got up in the middle of the night, a few days ago, her husband found her in the kitchen, she had hanged herself. May she find the peace that has been eluding her these past few months.

Pray for her husband and family who are distraught.

Quis pastoriet ipsos pastores?

I had a rather splendid dinner last night with a group of clergy, good hard working men, some I haven’t seen for quite a time. I am bit ambiguous about clergy meetings, I don’t go to many, in part because I generally come away with varying degrees of depression. It is my resolution to do something about that.

At a lunch a few months ago there four or five priests from our diocese nearing retirement, they started talking about vocations, all of them said they would actively discourage anyone who wanted to be a priest. I think I was the only one who said that if I had my time over again I would still be delighted to be a priest, the others said, with varying amounts of vigour, they definitely wouldn’t. These weren’t “way out”, they were good dutiful men, actually priests I admire. It is sad but not too unusual to hear of retired priests who have giving up saying Mass when they have no congregation to say Mass for.

Amongst younger priests there seems to be a growing desire to take time out, a sabbatical or “time away from the parish”, sometimes they return, sometimes not.

What is evident is that I and my brothers seem to be more tired, maybe that is inevitable as the average age increases. What it is going to mean is that as the numbers of priests decreases, those remaining are going to be able to take on less work. The idea of multi-centred parishes, might be more likely to exist in the wishful minds of some bishops than in actuality.

It could just be my own turn of mind but it strikes me that many clergy who abound in practical charity, have lost hope and to some degree, maybe there is also a loss of faith too. For many priests I meet they feel they are going to be the last, often in a long line, to serve a particular parish. They see not only a lack of priestly and religious vocations but a lack of vocations to Catholic marriage, to teaching, to the Christian life.

As I get older, I realise how important friendships amongst priests are, just wasting time with the brothers. I was a bit sad not to be Rome this week for that international conference of priests, maybe next week when I am there there will still be something of that fraternal spirit. I don’t know why our official meetings are the most tedious events imaginable, maybe because we don’t actually listen to one another; priests and bishops can be notoriously bad at that.

Crucial to the well being of priests, obviously is the care given them by their people, for many of they are his friends and family, this in part is what the Year For Priests is about. The crucial element must be the Bishop, the one to whom Christ gives the responsibility to strengthen the brethren. I know many bishops today say they don’t want to interfere, I suspect they are thinking too much in terms of “managing”. The role of Christian shepherd is actually about loving, spending time with the flock. The role of a bishop is first and foremost to work with his co-workers the priests of his diocese, they are his prime responsibility, they are supposed to be his friends and family.

I had a friend, Sandra, who was a shepherdess, in a small way. She had about 150 sheep, the same number of priests in an average UK diocese, in the spring she spent most of her time in their shed, the rest of the year in their field, she loved them. During lambing people used avoid sitting near her at Mass because she smelt of sheep. She always struck me as the model of a shepherd.

During this Year for Priests pray for holy and loving to care God’s, but pray for even holier and more bishops to care for the shepherd’s of Christ’s flock.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Fasting Advice

I've invited an Orthodox clerical friend to lunch on Tuesday, what should I give him to eat. He hesitated before accepting but is too well brought up to have said anything. It is only afterwards I realised that Tuesday is a fast day. So menu suggestions please.

Ecumenism suffers we invent national calendars!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy Year of Our Lord 2010

Today is a double feast, this morning we celebrated the Mother of God, this evening the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord, I don't know why it was dropped from the new calendar, surely not anti-Semiticism? I can't think of a celebration that highlights Jesus' Jewishness and immersion in the Old Covenant than this feast of his becoming a Jew and being named as Saviour.

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...