Monday, May 31, 2010

Residenza Papale di Castel Gandolfo

This is a nice little video by Petar, showing the gardens of Castel Gandolfo, it ends a bit abruptly.
There are lots of topiary and pretty knot gardens, all set in in neatly mown grass. I have always wondered, were there lawns before lawnmowers?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Celibacy is nonsense...

Celibacy is nonsense if you just see priests in terms of function. If he is just there to offer Mass or run a parish there is no reason on earth why he shouldn't marry, indeed if he is just a Church functionary it is most probably much better for him to marry and be surrounded by a large Catholic family.
If on the other hand a priest is a sign of absolute commitment to God, of communion, of prayer, of otherness, then celibacy is of supreme importance.

The ancient discipline of priestly celibacy, is not easy. Not having a sexual relationship is reasonably easy, most people in my congregation are in that situation, often for most of their lives, either because they are single, widowed, divorced or because of their sexual orientation. Those who choose celibacy voluntarily accept loneliness and a sense of being unfulfilled by anything here on earth. Doing that all one's life confronts ome with a deep craving, a desire to both possess and to be possessed, so often that can be sublimated, golf, hypochondria, cats and dogs, or plain eccentricity but real celibacy is about living with an open wound, totally unsatisfied by anything here on earth. It should be prophetic, about the Creator not creatures.
Like a hair shirt celibacy is constant reminder and an expression of the bald fact that God alone can satisfy our deepest longings. Celibacy is about the Kingdom of God, about prayer, about the spiritual life, about communion with God but it only works with faith.

I think the debate about celibacy which Cardinal Schönborn among others recently called for is actually a debate about the very nature of the priesthood and therefore about the nature of the Church, by extension it could be seen as a debate about the nature of Grace itself. This debate has brewing for sometime, I think, ever since Pius XII gave permission for married German Lutheran converts to ordained to the priesthood.
Sandro Magister puts forward, sketchily, the historical context of celibacy, which if you are unfamiliar with the arguments is well worth reading.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kerfuffle at Maynooth

Father Mildew has an interesting post about about a kerfuffle at Maynooth, an article appeared in the Irish Daily Mail by a former member of staff, Dr Dooley, suggesting that the college turns out collared social-workers and orthodox, faithful, pious students are persecuted. Fr Mildew then says... open letter to himself [Dr Dooley] was posted on the notice board inviting students to sign up. The letter stated that Mr Dooleys article was misinformed and insulting to the majority of the community. When only two students signed up, the student who produced the letter went round to each student and invited them to sign but in the morning only very few had signed. But the President then addressed the student body and accused those who had written to Dooley of lacking elementary Christianity and should examine their consciences, as such communications were a sign of their not being suited to the priesthood.
It is sad that this is not just an Irish problem, obviously in wouldn't happen in an English seminary today but one continually hears from other parts of the world about students having to feign a lack of devotion to be acceptable to "old Church" authorities. I remember being advised to "keep that reactionary Ratzinger's books hidden" and not to quote him in essays.
In a way this reflects on a discussion on an earlier post, which is really about the nature of theology. The past, I suspect the President of Maynooth might be included here, treat theology as something to "de-bunk" or to analyse, whereas Tradition sees it as something to increase our sense of wonder and awe, to deepen our faith rather than undermine it. Theology feeds piety and prayer, something is wrong when it undermines it.

Sacraments, sacraments

Congratulations to Rita and Michael.
The first of this weekends weddings, we've got another two tomorrow and a reception into the Church on Sunday! Getting married seems to be fashionable this year, the most this year than since I came to the parish. I love celebrating sacraments, it is what being a priest is about!
...And another nice thing, I had an invitation this morning to Gerrard Hatton's diaconate ordination, one of the factors in Gerrard's call to the priesthood was the example of my best friend, his parish priest, who died over a decade ago.
It's the fecundity of grace, it gives meaning to priestly celibacy  -  does that make sense?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Belated St Philip's Day Wishes

This splendid picture of Archbishop Nichols celebrating St Philip Neri's day at London Oratory is on NLM, it was taken by David Bradfield.
It prompts me to wish any Oratorians who might just be passing from the far flung parts of the world belated best wishes for St Philips day.

Corpus Christi: Help!

Next Thursday we are having a Missa Cantata for Corpus Christi at 8pm, followed by a procession around the nearby streets. The music will be Haydn's St Nicholas Mass and chant propers.
We are bit short of servers, so if you want to serve come along before 7pm.
If you can borrow a canopy for the Lord, bring it, preferrably with enough Catholic knights to carry it.
As the Mass is the Extraordinary Form, the hymns for the procession will also be in Latin so in addition to our schola anyone able to read chant is more than welcome.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mother On the Telly

Simon Caldwell's article in the Saturday's Telegraph on Mother Riccarda's being declared a Servant of God has aroused a bit of media interest. Here is me showing a picture Mother to Briony from BBC South.

Tonight we have a demonstration of lighting fittings for our new lighting scheme, that's our next project, as much for health and safety reasons as for aesthetic ones, everytime we have an electrical inspection I expect it to be condemned. The cost will be about £50,000, we're very fortunate we have £56,000  in the bank, so say a prayer that we have enough money left over to install the font in the baptistry with a suitable memorial to Mother Riccarda's progress to Canonisation, which began in our font!

Monday, May 24, 2010

What does the embryo in the womb do?

There is a rather beautifully evocative piece on Chiesa about Athos. Most if it is a travelogue, but this is interesting:
What Western, Catholic liturgies today are able to initiate simple hearts into similar mysteries and to inflame them with heavenly thoughts? Joseph Ratzinger, previously as cardinal and now as pope, hits the mark when he points to the vulgarization of the liturgy as the critical point for today's Catholicism. On Athos the diagnosis is even more radical: the Western churches, in trying to humanize God, make him disappear. "Our God is not the God of Western scholasticism," the igoumenos of the Gregoríos monastery on Athos moralizes. "A God who doesn't deify man can't have any appeal, whether he exists or not. A large part of the reasons behind the wave of atheism in the West are found in this functional, incidental Christianity."

I found this quite challenging:
Vassilios, igoumenos of Ivíron, another of the monasteries, echoes the sentiment: "In the West, action rules; they ask us how we can stay here for so many hours in church without doing anything. I reply: What does the embryo in the maternal womb do? Nothing, but since it is in its mother's womb it develops and grows. So it is with the monk. He preserves the holy space in which he finds himself and he is preserved, molded by this same space. The miracle is here: We are entering into paradise, here and now. We are in the heart of the communion of saints."

Pope: The universal Church precedes the particular Churches

Yesterday the Holy Father preached powerfully on the Unity, Oneness of the Catholic Church:
The Son of God, dead and risen and returned to the Father, now breathes with untold energy the divine breath upon humanity, the Holy Spirit. And what does this new and powerful self-communication of God produce? Where there are divisions and estrangement he creates unity and understanding. The Spirit triggers a process of reunification of the divided and dispersed parts of the human family; persons, often reduced to individuals in competition or in conflict with each other, reached by the Spirit of Christ, open themselves to the experience of communion, can involve them to such an extent as to make of them a new organism, a new subject: the Church. This is the effect of God’s work: unity; thus unity is the sign of recognition, the “business card” of the Church in the course of her universal history. From the very beginning, from the day of Pentecost, she speaks all languages. The universal Church precedes the particular Churches, and the latter must always conform to the former according to a criterion of unity and universality. The Church never remains a prisoner within political, racial and cultural confines; she cannot be confused with states not with federations of states, because her unity is of a different type and aspires to transcend every human frontier.

From this, dear brothers, there derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: When a person or a community, limits itself to its own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign that it has distanced itself from the Holy Spirit. The path of Christians and of the particular Churches must always confront itself with the path of the one and catholic Church, and harmonize with it. This does not mean that the unity created by the Holy Spirit is a kind of homogenization. On the contrary, that is rather the model of Babel, that is, the imposition of a culture of unity that we could call “technological.” The Bible, in fact, tells us (cf. Genesis 11:1-9) that in Babel everyone spoke the same language. At Pentecost, however, the Apostles speak different languages in such a way that everyone understands the message in his own tongue. The unity of the Spirit is manifested in the plurality of understanding. The Church is one and multiple by her nature, destined as she is to live among all nations, all peoples, and in the most diverse social contexts. She responds to her vocation to be a sign and instrument of unity of the human race (cf. “Lumen Gentium,” 1) only if she remains free from every state and every particular culture. Always and in every place the Church must truly be catholic and universal, the house of all in which each one can find a place.
read more

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost Icon

This new icon by Ikon Studios follows the ancient canons. The Twelve, who represent the Church because amongst them are St Paul and the Four Evangelists, sit as if in Council whilst the Holy Spirit descends on them. There is a space amongst them for Christ who is their absent, ascended head.
The king holding a sheet containing scrolls represents the Cosmos enveloped in the darkness of sin, awaiting salvation, the scrolls represent the teaching of the Apostles, which in a sense are already in the heart of the world but veiled by the sheet.
The artist here has rays of light emanating from the Church directed to their mission.
It is worth meditating on the relationship of the Church and its mission in this icon, the mission is central and yet the life of Church continues around it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mother Riccarda Becomes Venerable on July 5th

Simon Caldwell was kind enough to send me an unedited copy of his article in today's Daily Telegraph - it is not on-line:

Two nuns from London are to be placed on the road to sainthood by Pope Benedict XVI, it emerged yesterday.

The Pontiff will declare Sister Katherine Flanagan and Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough to be ‘Servants of God’ – the first stage on the way to becoming a saint – in a ceremony at the Vatican on July 5.

Mother Riccarda is considered a candidate partly because she helped to save the lives of about 60 Jews from the Nazis by smuggling them into her Rome convent, the Casa di Santa Brigida, in the autumn of 1943.

Sister Katherine, known as ‘Kitty’, helped to spread her Bridgettine order by opening convents throughout Europe.

The order is nicknamed the ‘hot-cross bun nuns’ because of the distinctive cross covering the top of their wimples.

Kitty, a dressmaker, was just 19 years old when she left Wimbledon for Rome with the aim of becoming a Bridgettine nun.

A year later she was followed by the future Mother Riccarda – born Madaleina Catherine in London in 1887 – who joined the same order at the age of 24.

But while Kitty went on to become the first prioress of newly-opened convents in Iver Heath Buckinghamshire; Lugano, Switzerland, and Vadstena, Sweden, where she died in 1941.

Mother Riccarda, however, became deputy of the order and remained at the mother house in Rome.

During the Second World War she initially worked with refugees and casualties. But when in October 1943 the SS began to round up the city’s Jews for deportation to the gas chambers of Auschwitz she began to smuggle them into her convent.

Yad Vashem has already honoured the work of the sisters by naming their superior, Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hasselblad, as a righteous gentile. It is seeking testimonies from Holocaust survivors about Mother Riccarda’s activities.

Riccarda was baptised as a child in St Mary Magdalene Church in Brighton after her parents, Windsor and Louise, converted from Anglicanism to the Catholic faith.

Father Ray Blake, the parish priest, yesterday spoke of his delight at the prospect of having a saint associated with the church.

‘I suppose it means we are going to have to start thinking about a shrine for her,’ he said.

‘Brighton needs tons of saints but more importantly this is excellent for Catholic-Jewish relations.

‘Her canonisation would demonstrate what many Catholics who didn’t hit the news were actually doing in the Second World War.

‘They were trying to live Christian lives in very fraught times often at great risk to themselves.

‘There are Poles in our community whose parents were shot because they were hiding Jews, priests or gypsies or whatever,’ he added. ‘It was an extraordinary time of a lot of heroism and a lot of sin – just like today really.’

The first step toward sainthood will involve the examination of the lives of the two women for evidence of ‘heroic virtue’, before two miracles will be sought first for their beatification and then to canonise them as saints.

The last women British women were canonised in 1970 when Pope Paul VI named Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line and Margaret Ward among 40 English and Welsh saints who died as martyrs in the Protestant Reformation.

Britain next saint is likely to be Cardinal John Henry Newman who will be beatified at Coventry Airport by Pope Benedict on September 19.

Elisa Famiglietti, the vicar general of the Bridgettines, said last year that the opening of Mother Riccarda’s cause for sainthood would be ‘a great honour for England’.

She said: ‘Mother Riccarda was a wonderful woman. I knew her well and met her in 1954 and was with her up until her death in 1966.

‘She was an angel who did so much to help our Jewish brothers during the war and I know they want to honour her as well.

‘Mother Riccarda was humble and discreet and she provided safety and charity for our Jewish brothers during the war but she very rarely spoke about it.

‘What I always remember about her is that despite living for so long in Italy she never forgot she was English and always spoke English to us.’

Riccarda finally became the head of the order and died in Rome at the age of 79. Her body lies in the convent where she hid people from persecution.

Kitty Flanagan body is in the Swedish convent where she died.

Born in Clerkenwell, London, in July 1892, Kitty was the eldest of four children of William, a solicitor’s clerk who became a major in the British Army in the First World War and Florence, nee Murray.
What I find fascinating is that Mother and her sisters hid not only Jews but Communists and later their Facist persecutors, in fact their house was open to anyone in search of a refuge, anyone for whom the mob was baying. That is Christian hospitality.
Which group or individuals should they be sheltering today?

Pagan Rites for Lesbian "Bishop"

While Congregation for Christian Unity privately seethes in Rome over the ordination in the Anglican Centre there of an Old Catholic priestess. In the US the "first openly lesbian bishop" has been ordained. The beginning of the rite can be seen here.  It consists of various native Americans doing there thing, ending up with a "smudging rite" an exorcism/blessing of the lady to be consecrated and her principle consecrator.
These preparatory ceremonies seems to show the real confusion over what the American shoot of the Anglican Church actually believes. It certainly doesn't seem to believe in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, in scripture or Tradition or in the efficacy of its own sacraments and prayers.
A friend, a former Anglican says, "I am not quite sure what Anglicans are supposed to believe in, everything can be fudged really, except, now, the belief in the ordination of women, that appears to be sole, undisputed belief of Anglicanism"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Abortion Advert

What has happened to Britain? There seems something very wrong when a television company chooses to advertise along with the latest car and fizzy drink Marie Stopes clinics. The killing of our young is appalling but not quite as appalling as putting it on mainstream television.
Do sign this petition, if you are a telvision watcher write and complain not only to the television company but other adverisers.
SPUC makes other suggestions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Society of St Tarcissius

I have already agreed to start a Brighton branch of the Society of St Tarcissius, I was asked by our EF Master of Ceremonies on Sunday evening. So I was pleased to receive the press release this morning from the LMS on their new initiative, a link can be found here.

Some not very serious reason for staying in front of the altar

Yesterday I had a discussion about renewal of the liturgy with a priest friend both of us are convinced that no real renewal of the liturgy in the Ordinary Form will take place until priests return to ad orientem celebration. I do it on my day off, Mass is still at 10am but when I began I pointed out it was an "extra" Mass just in case people had difficulty with it, on the whole people don't have difficulty, they actually like it.
Going back to the traditional position, every scholar sees as being the way forward but pastorally it seems to be the big glitch, no priest wants to be the first in his diocese.
Priests need a reason - so here are some reasons a priest might use:
I am not facing you because I have come to realise I am amazingly ugly and will frighten small children therefore ....
A dear little pussycat has moved in behind the altar to give birth to her kittens so I'm staying this side to avoid disturbing her, therefore....
We have dry rot the other side of the altar, it is not safe therefore....
I have become claustrophobic therefore...
I just can't bear being watched all the time, you are always looking at me! therefore...
There is a huge angel with a fiery sword behind altar, can't you see it? therefore....
I have become immensely fat and will not fit behind the altar therefore....
Someone brought me some new shoes, it would be a shame not share a sight of that lady's charity with you, therefore ....
Fr X said Mass here last night, he is so holy I want to keep the place where he stood as relic, therefore ....
Mrs X in the third row is so holy I am dazzled by her sanctity, therefore ....
A species of rare bat has moved in behind the altar going within one meter of it will be an offence under the EU Wildlife Constitution Art. 78973 subsection K/17Bats leaving me liable to 15 years imprisonment, therefore...
I am just not going there it is dark and lonely, and there are spiders, therefore...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Harry Mount reports this dreadful news - not only has All Souls got rid of "The Essay" test but also "The Cherry Pie" test for potential fellows. Surely this is a sign that England has gone down the plug hole and everything is reduced to beige blandness. What has happened to the idiosyncrasy of our finest minds.

I blame Blair and Dawkins!

Jumping the Gun with ICEL

Following my report on using the new ICEL translation I have had a number of emails from different parts of the world but mainly from the UK, from laity and priests, saying that the new ICEL translations of the Eucharistic Prayers are already being used to a greater or lesser extent in their parishes. Priests who are not normally innovators tell me they have waited too long and would be doing their parishioners a serious disservice by continuing to use the old inaccurate translations. I have every sympathy with them, however our UK bishops have not yet sought Rome's permission for them to be implemented, so technically these priests are celebrating illicit Masses.
How serious is this willful act of dissent?
Well, it is the intention of the lawmaker, the Holy See, that these translations should be implemented, permission has been given for their use already in other parts of the world. A great deal of liturgical innovation has already been introduced by deliberate and wilful disobedience to the mind of the Church, the vernacular during the Council, communion in the hand after it, the use of lay persons to distribute Holy Communion, then later women and girls serving Mass, in the scheme of things jumping the gun with the new translation seems very small beer, especially as it is very much according to the mind of the Church that they be implemented.
A wise bishop would do well to try and stop other abuses in the liturgy rather than stomp on the pre-emptive use of texts, which with some minor adjustments, will become standard in the English speaking world. Indeed if I were a bishop I would welcome experimentation in preparatory catechesis for their introduction.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was involved in a discussion about what the Church should be doing for young people, with a group of priests recently, like so many of those discussions, we didn't get anywhere, it is sad depressing thing about the Church: the status quo remains, even if it is not obviously not working, or is actually damaging!

Da Mihi Animas has this video on "male spirituality" - men above all seem to want to march in step. Someone, a little dismissively, said, "young people always want to know "the rules"". I am convinced confusion doesn't help, "the rules" at least give a basis for action, young people seem to crave action rather than theory. They want to live the Gospel rather than speculate about it.

Young men especially seem to want defined structures, the spirituality of the Centurion, Matt 8:8ff, seems to typify the attitude of many young men, there is a real desire to be under authority. The young men who followed Francis, Dominic, Ignatius, Philip chose join a brotherhood and wanted a Rule, in the same way as young men joining the army both want and need a very definite structure, in many cases the tougher and more demanding the better. Such structures are often used to define one particular group against another, in a competitive or tribal way; Franciscans versus Dominicans, Jesuits versus Oratorians or Royal Marine Commandos  versus the SAS. In the past the Church used that youthful sense of competition to stress an orders distinctive charism, the Carthusians stressed their solitude, the Trappists their silence, the Franciscans their poverty, the Jesuits their obedience, the Dominican's their learning etc.

Older religious communities of both men and women that have thrown off the habit and mitigated their Rule are dying and lost any sense of distinctiveness, whilst new religious communities that  have a distinct identity and make great demands on their members are growing, this is certainly so with the Missionaries of Charity, Opus Dei and, I have to admit, the Legionaries of Christ too, the same can be said of those communities that use the traditional Rite, indeed they seem to be filled with young.

A liberal might suggested Rules and rules tend to crush and institutionalise the individual, I am sure they can but they can also strengthen the individual and provide a scaffolding that enables a spiritual life to be built on firm foundations. They provide a common platform for living, delineating at least a minimum of behaviour.

The Archbishop of Dublin said recently that Irish young people are possibly the best catechised but least well evangelised in Europe, I am not sure quite what that means but I suspect that one of the problems in the Irish Church which is reflected in the UK and elsewhere is a profound confusion in how to live the Gospel, the last forty years have seen a serious confusion precisely over the "rules" of how to live the Gospel. The Church as an institution and even often especially as a "local community", now seems to insist on no minimum expectations. Liberalism thought was a help, now it seems to be a disaster.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Under-Celebrating the Ascension

I think we under-celebrate the Ascension, I think it should be as great feast as Christmas.
At Christmas True God enters the world in a human body, at the Ascension True Man enters heaven in a human body. It is not simply "that God goes up with shouts of joy" but that Jesus Christ, the God-Man, goes "up".
In this feast we celebrate Man's entry into Heaven, the corollary to this feast is the Assumption: where Christ our Head has gone, there the Body, Mary the type of the Church, follows.
Today we celebrate flesh and blood in Heaven, sitting at the right hand of God. Quite what this "flesh and blood" is, we do not know, as we don't know what our own glorified bodies will be like.
At the Incarnation the All-Knowing emptied himself and took on human Not-Knowing, the Divine who knew but was incapable of experiencing death, pain and suffering today takes on that experience and ascends to Heaven with it.

In the icon, 9th cent Sinai, note thee relationship with the figure of Christ and his mother her out-stretched praying hands reach up trying to follow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

ICEL: Ad Experimentum

In a conversation with our bishop recently, I thought he said that some parishes in the diocese were already using the new ICEL translations of the Missal, and that he had no problem with them being used ad experimentum, as they were now an official text which had received the recognitio of the Holy See, I had obviously grabbed the wrong end of the stick because a friend on ICEL, who had read the previous version of this post, told me Rome had not yet given permission for their use in England.

ICEL wants these texts to be used after appropriate catechesis next year. However, this morning because of my misunderstanding, I used the new translation of the Roman Canon. As there are the four Eucharistic Prayers in the Missal, plus the two prayers for Reconciliation, the three (is it?) for children, and then those ghastly Swiss ones, I thought that no-one in the congregation would object, and from the reactions I heard people thought it was a vast improvement.

Some people have suggested the translations are a bit lumpy, I found the Roman Canon immensely beautiful, so much so that I feel deprived not being able to use it tomorrow.
The problem I have is that it seems so natural to use the rubrics of the Usus Antiquior, the signs of the cross, for example at phrases like, "... bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices, ..."
I think it is going to be difficult to get people to change their responses, that is going to be the big catechetical problem, not what the priest says.PeoplesMassCard-NewTranslation

Difference between Protestant and Catholic Worship

That wise old Anglican cove, Fr Hunwicke has this to say about the contrast between Protestant and Catholic worship:

In other words, for classical Protestantism, the Eucharist is an acted word; it is a sermon dramatised; it is intended to instruct the witnesses and draw their heart to that saving faith which justifies. But for the Catholic, it is an opus operatum; an action which by the powerful and indefectible promise of Christ is objectively (not merely subjectively and in the heart of the believer) effective. So the celebrant is not in the business of moving or instucting or edifying or converting the viewer - if such may be the the by-products, even useful ones, of the action, they are not its intrinsic purpose. The priest's intrinsic purpose is to confect and offer the Body and Blood of the Redeemer in sacrifice for the sins of men. Failure to realise this is at the heart of what is wrong with so much modern and 'relevant' liturgy; and, to judge from my own reading and experience, the error is just as pervasive and deep-rooted inside the Roman Communion as it is outside it.
Why a picture of Lancing College Chapel? Fr Hunwicke taught classics there for aeons.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Yards and yards of it

In a big Church you need something to make a bishop seen.
I have to admit it I love a Cappa Magna, it is so wonderfully absurd!
I remember an old bishop who said, "Wearing it reminds me I am nothing but a walking clothes horse, it is not me it is the office." I paraphrase him of course but their is a truth here of course, it makes the man unimportant, almost rediculous and points us to what he is for Christ.
It is Bishop Slattery celebrating Pontifical Solemn High Mass in Washington DC.
Thank you to Hugo for sending me the link.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Anglican Response!

When the Archbishop of Canterbury wanted a largish celebration in Rome to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the All Saints Anglican Centre in Rome, the diocese of Rome allowed him to use a Roman Basillica of S Sabina, it even allows him to carry a crozier, a symbol of authority. How does All Saints respond? It makes itself available for the ordination of an Old Catholic women priest, who herself claims it is a stunt, "to stimulate a debate amongst Catholics".
Maybe Benson had something when he coined the phrase, "Old Mother Damnable".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fessio: Tablet Sensationalism

Father Joseph Fessio is pretty damning, in that understated Jesuitical way about The Tablet's reporting of various private remarks made to journalist by Cardinal Schönborn.

Fessio not only accuses The Tablet of sensationalism but of ignorance and I suppose of breach of confidence. It just underlines the need for The Tablet to start employing mainstream Catholics who understand mainstream Catholic theology, who haven't got an axe to grind. No wonder it is apparently Britain's fastest declining Catholic weekly, incidently with a print run of 22,000 a week, it has less readers than this blog on a good week and Fr Tim on a bad one!

Dave and Nick: What does it mean?

What does it mean:
for the Natural Law?
for the unborn?
for conscience?
for freedom?
for the family?
for the Church?
for the poor?
for the vulnerable?
for moral values?
for the cohesion of society?

A Grauniad Ascension Moment

If you live in the parish and picked up a newsletter on Sunday the Traditional Latin Mass for the Ascension of the Lord, well I am afraid there was error, it is actually 12 hours later than advertised. Non est 7am sed 7pm! That is it is at 1900 hours.
It is low Mass but with a very solemn look on the servers face as he performs the snuffing out of the Paschal Candle after the Gospel.
It seems in the Novus Ordo that the Candle, brought into the church with great solemnity slips away from the sanctuary into the baptistry on the first day of Ordinary time if the sacristan remembers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Archbishop of Dublin: The future of the Church in Ireland

I had a clergy meeting today, the Irish brothers were talking about Archbishop Martin's speech on the "The future of the Church in Ireland". It is an honest statement about the Archbishop's personal feelings but also a great, great deal more.
On a purely personal level, as Diarmuid Martin, I have never since becoming Archbishop of Dublin felt so disheartened and discouraged about the level of willingness to really begin what is going to be a painful path of renewal and of what is involved in that renewal.

How do I reconcile these differing trends in my reflection on the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland? On a personal level, I have no choice but to lay aside personal discouragement and continue day-by-day the search for personal conversion and renewal and to re-discover for my own life the essentials of the message of Jesus Christ.
The rest has a great deal to say not only about Ireland but the Church in the UK and elsewhere, read it here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cornwell's Bash

I have always wondered why ex-nuns like Karen Armstrong or ex-priests like Michael Walshseem to make a profession of their "exness", even former seminarians like Bobby Mickens get on the bandwagon. What seems to mark them out is their bitterness, almost visceral hatred of the Church and its institutions, yet there whole life is about "churchiness". They seem to have a pathological inability "to get a life" of their own, at least one that doesn't revolve around Vatican gossip and vestments. What marks them out is the lack of faith that marks their writings. In classic 1970's style they are continually scratching the itch of their indisposition, it is perhaps a neurotic attempt of coming to terms with an inner conflict.

John Cornwell, another professionally bitter ex-seminarian does a bit of Pope bashing in the Sunday Times by attacking Newman's beatification.
He questions Deacon Jack Sullivan's miraculous healing and points out that it doesn't quite conform to the usual norms the Congregation for the Causes of Saints sets for a miracle. Jack's back pain was relieved for ten months and then returned, eventually he was operated on. I don't have a problem with that. I suppose I am a victim modern scientificism, I find my faith makes me more skeptical not less about the miraculous. Whilst I certainly don't dismiss the miraculous, it is a essential element of religion, there is always a "factor X". Faith gives us the ability to put God in the box marked "X", others might supply another reason. The skeptic both religious and non-religious wonders whether "X" might be simply something un-explainable. Science pushes back the very concept of "miracle". Those of us who are believers are ultimately willing to leave the final decision to the Church and to he to whom Christ has given the authority to bind and loose on earth and in heaven. This is not Ultramontanism but simply believing the words of Christ to the Apostles. Miracles are a testimony to divine intervention, it is worth remembering they are not needed for the beatification or canonisation of martyrs. Though we look for substantial evidence, their testimony is always ultimately subjective. I believe in the Resurrection because I trust the testimony of those who trust the testimony of the Apostles.
Cornwell, tongue in cheek, seems to suggest that the absence of Newman's relics is miraculous, without my tongue in my cheek, I actually agree with him. There are lots of good explanations for the absence of a body but actually the real reason is Newman's amazing humility, which adds to the complexity of his character. I have a devotion to him because his whole was an attempt to subject his frail nature to the Grace of God. That is nature of sanctification, in Newman its effects are seen in his faith-filled writings, in others it seen in their asceticism or it their work amongst the disadvantaged.
Newman was not perfect, he was capable of bitterness and resentment towards his opponents, especially his former friends but he was also capable of great affection. The more I get to know Newman the more impressed I am by his flawed humanity and the rich life of Grace that covered it, like the cardinal's robes, or priestly vestments which covered his frail body. It places him alongside St Peter, or St Jerome who when Pope Honorious past an icon of him, beating his breast with a stone said, "Ah, Jerome, but for that stone you would be in hell not heaven". Saints are not perfect, that belongs to God alone; saints are those who desire Perfection and show the signs of it in their lives.
Cornwell quotes Peter Tatchell who wants to smear Newman with homosexuality. I see I see Newman's love for Ambrose St John as something positive, here is virginal chaste love between two men, which until recently we would have seen and described as fraternal charity, in the same way as St Augustine loved; both men write with the same grief and beauty on the death of their friends. There is nothing foreign to Christ here, in fact it mirrors Christ love for Lazarus. In "gay" but also very sad Brighton I would love to see Newman made patron of friendship.
Cornwell again comes up with the old canard about Newman being the archetype of liberalism and quotes his "I'll drink to the Pope but to conscience first". Dr Kerr has dealt with that quite conclusively. Cornwell also suggests that Newman was a dissenter from 19th century Ultramonatanism, what Cornwell refuses to understand is so is Pope Benedict XVI. That is the refreshing thing many of us find in this Papacy, Pope Benedict sees the role of the Pope as the servant not the master of the Church. He is returning us to a traditional understanding of Papacy as the defender of Tradition.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

New lighting fittings

I haven't put up anything about our restoration project for some time, we have been slowly stripping off the ghastly gray paint from the walls and revealing the stone, its slow and expensive.
The next project which will have a real effect in the Church is the new lighting system. The picture shows Simon making the new brackets in his forge, they were designed by Dierdre Waddington our architect, they are based on our altar rails.

Stick Worship is Better than Cartesianism

I am glad I have forgotten that rude rugby song I knew about Descartes.
Fr Zeee, the blogger bloggorum has posted a email he received recently of which I quote a portion...
...thinking that kneeling while receiving communion is no different from standing and receiving it in the hands because "Cogito, ergo sum; thus if I think I am reverent, I am" and sterilizing the Novus Ordo form of the mass of its sensory elements, physicality being essential to a sacrament. [M]ost in the Church simply don’t realize how scientism has stealthily poisoned the modern Catholic Church.

The great battle of the Church is against Cartesianism, it always has been so, ever since Eve dethroned God and placed herself at the centre of the universe and eat the fruit. The first commandment, telling us to have no god before God is anti-Cartesian because the god most of us want to place before God is ourself, "I".
Original sin is "I" centredness, Christ liberates us from "I" by commanding us to transcend self by loving God first and foremost and secondly our neighbour as ourselves.
All religions ultimately call us to move from "self" to "other", even stick worshippers. The sacrifice of Christ most perfectly fulfils all religion because it is the ultimate act of selfgiving.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Hung Parliament?

Well, as one of my parishioners said, "Hanging is too good for them".
And here in Brighton we have elected the first and only Green MP in Britain.
What does it mean for the Church and Christians? I don't know. Presumably it means a government which is going to seek popularity, listening to the electorate, but which part of it?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Election Day Thought

Democracy: they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him".

I wanted to vote "Christ" but he wasn't there on the ballot paper.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Green Leader Caroline Links to Westminster Declaration!!!

My apologies to Caroline Lucas who earlier today was linked to the Westminster Declaration! I put up a post on this, having checked with Westminster2010, they confirmed she had indeed signed the pledge. Having re-checked her name on the list of those supporting the pledge, her status has now been altered to anti.

The mistake was not mine but the organisers of the Declaration.

The Declaration says:
[We] refuse to comply with any directive that compels us to participate in or facilitate abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that involves intentionally taking innocent human life.

We pledge to support marriage – the lifelong covenantal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.
We believe it [marriage] is divinely ordained, the only context for sexual intercourse, and the most important unit for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. We call on government to honour, promote and protect marriage and we refuse to submit to any edict forcing us to equate any other form of sexual partnership with marriage.

We will seek to ensure that religious liberty and freedom of conscience are unequivocally protected against interference by the state and other threats, not only to individuals but also to institutions including families, charities, schools and religious communities. We will not be intimidated by any cultural or political power into silence or acquiescence and we will reject measures that seek to over-rule our Christian consciences or to restrict our freedoms to express Christian beliefs, or to worship and obey God.

Cardinal Pell: even more rumours.

Rumours abound, and now Andrea Tounielli reports Cardinal Pell is to become Prefect for the Congegation for Bishops. Good news for England and Wales, though maybe not everyone would feel that way, certainly not those on the fringes of the Church. Expect a bit of vitriolic spitting from the Tablet and its supporters.
"While I have long been disappointed by The Tablet's persistent subversions of some Catholic teaching and mystified by the inability of the English bishops to nudge it towards a more productive line of witness."
Letter Cardinal Pell to the Tablet, May 2002.

Tournielli writes:
In the last few days Benedict XVI again received in audience Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, making official his appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Pell subsequently had a long conversation with his predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. The announcement of the move will be given over the coming weeks, but before the first of summer. Pell would be installed at the helm of the "bishop factory" for its return to full rhythm of its activity after the summer holidays. With the arrival of an Australian in the lead post of the key dicastery of the Roman Curia, that which deals which choosing bishops, Benedict XVI has completed one of the most important choices of his pontificate, one destined to shape the life of the global church for the next twenty years. It's true, in fact, that Pell isn't very young -- he'll be 70 years old in June 2011, and so has ahead of him no more than seven years -- but it's likewise true that the episcopal appointments that pass his sign-off before being placed before the pontiff will impact the life of the church for at least two decades. Papa Ratzinger yet again chooses from among the non-Italians for a key post of Curial governance, and from among the non-Italians who have no experience in the Curia (in the last 35 years, the Congregation for Bishops alternated between Italian and non-Italian heads -- from Baggio to Moreira Neves, from Gantin to Re -- but all had Curial experience). A choice certainly destined to renew and internationalize the Curia, and likewise to reinforce the hand of the Secretariat of State.
Rocco Palmo

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

English Martyrs: Following Christ

It is the feast of the English and Welsh Martyrs today.

It is difficult for us to imagine the tensions of mistrust that must have flecked the lives of those who adhered to the True Faith. Those priests who landed in England didn't know if the last Mass they celebrated would indeed be their last, some never actually got to say Mass in England they were arrested on the beach on which they landed, others were betrayed by those to whom they gave the sacraments, or even by those who gave them hospitality, even by their fellow priests.

It was only Christ and his saints who could be trusted.
There is an autobiographical account of the torture of Fr Gerard here. Gerard survived and kept his mouth shut, others did not. For those facing torture trust in one's own resistance must have been doubtful and trust in God's grace must have been a minute to minute matter.

When Jesus calls the disciples to follow him, he doesn't show them their end, the invitation is to day to day, a minute to minute affair. When Jesus speaks about Peter's death at the end of John's Gospel, he speaks about Peter having a belt put around him and being led in ways he would rather not go. Being led in this way means the follower literally follows step by step, moment by moment.

"Lord for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray ..."

Monday, May 03, 2010

May is the Month of Mary

Speaking yesterday in Turin the Holy Father said:
"The Virgin Mary is she who more than any other contemplated God in the human face of Jesus," he said. "She saw him as a newborn when, wrapped in swaddling clothes, he was placed in a manger; she saw him when, just after his death, they took him down from the cross, wrapped him in linen and placed him in the sepulcher."

The Pontiff said that within her "was impressed the image of her martyred Son; but this image was then transfigured in the light of the Resurrection."

"Thus," he reflected, "in Mary’s heart was carried the mystery of the face of Christ, a mystery of death and of glory. From her we can always learn how to look upon Jesus with a gaze of love and of faith, to recognize in that human countenance, the Countenance of God."
How can we understand being a disciple without loving her the most devoted of disciples?
How can we understand Grace without loving her who is full of Grace?
How can we understand the Church without loving the Mother of the Church?
How can we understand devotion to Christ without loving Her who was loved by Him first?

Sedes Sapientiae - Ora Pro nobis

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet in Rome

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Rt Rev Keith Newton and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the Anglican bishops of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet have been off to Rome. There has been surprised expressed that Archbishop Nichols was unaware of this visit. No-one has said what this meeting was about or who it was with.

Some have interpreted it as a snub to the English hierarchy, it could be that or more likely it could just part of a series of meetings to inform the Holy See and to clarify the details of a future Ordinariate in England and Wales.

Some have suggested that the news of the meeting was leaked in a rather underhanded way to strengthen the Anglo-Catholic hand in the negotiations over provision for those who will not accept women bishops but will remain in the Anglican Communion. It could be that but then it could simply be that it is impossible to keep the presence of three Anglican bishops in Rome. All Saints in the Via del Babuino, Rome's Anglican church is a hotbed of gossip in the Eternal City, Mickens and Willey et al don't need to bug the place, if news doesn't filter out from there the are plenty of other sources.

Rome is a village after all.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Too Much Christianity!

I get heartily sick with all these Christians wanting to be exempt from the Law of the Land just because they are Christians. I have every sympathy with judges and tribunals who tell them to clear off. Special pleading is not good enough!
Catholics have only of late taken up this odious practice, in the past we appealed to the Common Good, based on the Natural Law and Reason. If something is good for us then it is good for society, our concern is not about narrow fideistic sectarianism but the wisdom man possesses by virtue of his being made in God's image.
Have as look at Innocent Smith who suggests the problem is too much scripture going around. Innocent's is one of my favourite blogs.
Gerald Warner too suggests that behind the MacFarlane judgement is an opposition to the rights of conscience and perhaps therefore the essence of social diversity of our pluralistic society.

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...