Saturday, April 30, 2011

Duty and Monarchy

I am not a republican!

There are a lot of problems with monarchy. It is suggested it perpetuates a class system and privilege. I am not sure that is really so or if the monarchy was absent there would be less of a class system or less privilege? Members of the "best" families seem to dominate the Ivy League University of the US, the prefix du still carries a certain cache in France. Italian aristocrats are still given a certain precedence, even today's Labour Party seems to be dominated by a certain privileged class.

One of the things about the English monarchy is that it emulates ordinariness: the tupperware of the royal breakfast table, the prosaic conversation, "You arrived in quite a small car", as the Queen said to the Pope, the obvious but rather restrained affection between the Queen and the Duke. Now, even the annus horribilis of fires and royal marriage break-ups and other disasters marks a time of transition from being a rather special family to being rather like any other family in country with its wounds and bruises.

The difference between monarchy and presidency is that the monarch is there for the duration, until death. Selection by birth in many ways is a lottery, we don't choose our monarch and they don't choose monarchy, they are simply born to it, like Edward VIII they can opt or be opted out but being monarch is about duty, not choice.

In many ways as George VI's speech impediment showed it is not even about natural ability or gifts, again is about duty, even in that very English way "of just muddling through". For the nation too there is something important about knowing that for good or ill the monarch is there until death, the acceptance of having someone in charge who may not be that gifted or even necessarily that bright is an important part of Englishness.

For Americans having a flag as a national icon or a constitution is fine but we English have monarch with a family with all its quirkiness, and during our history, often folly. There is something very incarnational about it all, it can be described as feudal but better, about a relationship of a nation with a person or a family. Flags and legal documents are static, one might venerate them but what seems to have happened over the last reign is some sort of dialogue has taken place, the people speak, the monarch adapts but that has taken place throughout our history. For a monarch who doesn't listen the sword in some form hovers.

The great state occasions are vulgar, my objections to the wedding were more to the gushing presentation by the media but as someone commented, "vulgarity is part of royalty", so too is the duty of fulfilling expectations. The marriage itself is good, obviously, behind the carriages, jewels, hats and uniforms are aching bunions, boredom or just a desire for cigarette or to burst out laughing; something very human, something very incarnational.

Whether the Cambridges would have preferred a quiet wedding or not is not up to them they had a duty which they fulfilled, somehow for them they have to bear the Cross of Royalty until death, doing not what they want but what they should do.

Thank God they, and we, have had the example of the Queen!

Mugabe at Beatification

To every one's embarrassment the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe is going to attend Pope John Paul's Beatification. Mugabe is the subject of an EU-wide travel ban, according to the Independant, "the Vatican had to obtain special permission for him to be allowed to enter the pocket statelet." I am not sure that that is quite so.

The Holy See still talks to the Mugabe regime and rather than issuing specific invitations there is general invitation to all world leaders, or their representatives, to attend such events. Mugabe has decided to go himself.

Apparently, from whichever Italian airport he arrives at he is under Vatican protection from there until enters the City State and so is immune from arrest by the Italian state in the same way he would be if he arrived in New York to attend a UN meeting.

I am pretty certain I know what John Paul would have said to the President, Pope Benedict is less outspoken.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Remains of John Paul II Moved

And to answer a few questions

For those of you who think I was somewhat dispeptic in the last post, let me continue, by answering the questions so often posed in Anglican, and sometimes even Catholic weddings, originally posed by that most "disestablishment" of all English poets:

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England's mountains green: NO
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen! NO

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills? NO
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills? NO, never
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
However it did give me a degree of pleasure that many of those whose ancestors built and profited from those same dark Satanic Mills, and from the slave trade, and still profit those injustices, such as exploitation of the poor which Wm Blake was so against made the following public statement:
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green & pleasant Land
Worship of God isn't play acting, it is deadly serious, if we don't mean it we shouldn't say it. The use of "Jerusalem" in an Chrisrian Church service is rediculous, fine at the Albert Hall by the W.I. or a Trade Union meeting or even the English Jacoine Club but by the establishment, in a C of E service?

Time to Disestablish the CofE?

Between ourselves; wasn't it all just a little vulgar?

I got irritated by the commentary all this talk about “middle-class Kate”, the Middleton's own half of somewhere, and “the young couple”, are actually middle-aged, he's balding and spreading.
The trees in the abbey gave a definite shout of the shopping centre and wasn't there just a little too much of Princess William of Wales' chest on display, for church, at least? The religion was more than a little bland, the CofE at its best, or do I mean its worst? Form over substance, I think.
I saw various Catholic bishops but no swamis, muftis, lamas or sheiks. Is it just my liberalism but why was there no ecumenical or "faith community" involvement? I couldn't help wondering whether, looking at the congregation or as various BBC commentators called them, from time to time, the "audience" would have been happier at a Registry Office celebration, maybe even the couple themselves, who hardly seem Gospel hungry, or perhaps it is time, as apparently various Anglicans seemed against the repeal of the Act of Settlement, to disestablish the CofE and replace it with some multi-faith, government appointed, big society, quango of accommodating clergypersons or faith-leaders, or just get in party planners, Pippa Middleton for example?

And what if the next Royal Wedding is a Royal Civil Partnership?

All right, I am being provocative, let us all say a Hail Mary for the Cambridges.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quem Quaeritis in Sepulchro

Another of Petar's beautiful and thought provoking videos
Quem quaeritis in sepulchro, Christicolae? Non est hic, surrexit sicut praedixerat ! Ite, nuntiate quia surrexit de sepulchro !
Redemptor noster surrexit de sepulchro, qui liberavit tres pueros de camino ignis, Alleluia !
Resurrexit Dominus, Resurrexit Leo Fortis, Christus, Filius Dei !
Resurrexit Dominus a mortuis, sicut dixerat; exsultemus et laetemur omnes, quoniam ipse regnat in aeternum, Alleluia !
Alleluia, resurrexit Dominus, alleluia, sicut dixit vobis, Alleluia Alleluia !
Alleluia, surrexit Dominus vere, venite adoremus, Alleluia !
Tu es Domine Salus nostra ! Spes nostra ! Gloria nostra ! Misericordia nostra ! Auxilium nostrum ! Fortitudo nostra ! Liberatio et redemptio nostra ! Victoria nostra ! Arma nostra invictissima ! Murus noster inexpugnabilis ! Lux, via, et vita nostra !
Ipsi soli imperium, gloria et potestas per immortalia saecula saeculorum !
Ipsi soli virtus, fortitudo et victoria per omnia saecula saeculorum !
Ipsi soli honor, laus et jubilatio per infinita saecula saeculorum !

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rubric Breaking: J'Accuse...

...myself of having publicly contradicted a rubric, deliberately and with forethought and ordered others to obey me in this act of disobedience. The parish Master of Ceremonies, Andrew had indeed pointed out the incorrectness, indeed the wrongness of my action but I overruled him and I am afraid I am very likely to do it next year.
This as far as I know, and hope, is the only piece of liturgical law which was deliberately broken during the Sacred Triduum at St Mary Magdalen, Brighton, another was broken too but that was slightly different, see below.
The rubric of the Easter Vigil calls quite clearly for the "lamps" of the church to be "lit" immediately after the third "Lumen Christi". It is quite clearly lamps and not candles. I gave instructions that they were to be kept unlit until the fanfare of the Gloria!
Thus, the Old Testament readings were read in the light of the Paschal Candle, whilst the faithful reflected on them holding there own candles. Because of the size of our sanctuary we chose the second option for its placement, by the ambo, rather than the first option, in the centre of the sanctuary.
In St Peter's the rubric was followed strictly, but not here, obviously at a Papal celebration there are security considerations. I must admit I don't understand quite why lights are turned on at this point, especially as the Exultet sings of the light of the Paschal Candle, and the lights of the people, "a flame divided but undimmed". When the lights are on that symbol is diminished.

Apart from that I was incredibly moved by our "very correct" Triduum. We celebrated ad orientem throughout, it just seemed more appropriate, and it is of course a valid option as the CDW have continually pointed out.

For the first time our choir was up to singing the proper chant, the sound of the Church which was quite beautiful. I was struck on Good Friday, which was sung by women alone, a couple of wonderful women came down from Spanish Place to help us out until then I hadn't realised how glorious and triumphant the sound of the Church is on Good Friday. For the first time we sang the Passion in English, thanks to the great kindness of the music librarian of Birmingham Oratory who sent us the score. Next year maybe it might be augmented by the Victoria crowd, the chant is so incredibly beautiful.

For the Vigil we followed the option and only had five readings, with the proper Gradual, which was amazingly prayerful, next year we will have all seven. Here again I broke the Law, though I observe many of our Bishops did the same, we began the Vigil before the sun had left the sky, again Andrew, our MC, had pointed out darkness and therefore the First Day, the Lord's Day would not have begun until at least half an later, hence we began before the Sabbath had ended but this was more my laziness and concern that people would not come if it was later, than deliberate flouting of the Church's Law.

We are the Alive

our font in its new position under the choir gallery,
when we can afford it it will be on a stone octogon
A happy and blessed Easter to you all.

I was struck by a sentence the Pope's Jesus of Nazareth, in which he says that some early Christians simply described themselves as the "Alive" or the "Living". It typical Ratzingerian style he doesn't bother to spell out what this might mean but it has been a shaft of light that has illuminated my thinking this Holy Week.

We are the Alive because we have eaten the bread of Life. "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall not have life in you".
We are Alive because we have been immersed in Living water. "Unless you are baptised by water and the Spirit you will not have Life in you."
We have shared in the death and resurrection of  "the Way, the Truth and the Life". In Christ we have left the abode of the dead and entered the community of the Living. He is not dead, he is alive and has gone before you...
"What good would life had have been to us if Christ had not come back from the dead..." to give us real life.
For we are dead any longer, Christ has given us Life.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

God is Dead!

Can we say that? There is a rather interesting article here, on Aquinas' teaching on the subject.

Friday, April 22, 2011

That "work of art"

That "work of art" is certainly blasphemous, attempts to destroy it, to publicise it are exactly what its creator wants. It is all rather puerile, a not very significant "artist" wanting to offend a handful of Christians, a rather silly gallery curator putting the wretched thing on display - it is about publicity seeking - giving the thing publicity, taking it seriously, is playing their game. Better to campaign for the sacking of the curator for wasting public money. The "art" here is not the object itself, a crucifix in a yellowish haze, it is not actually unattractive, it is offensive only when we are told it is a crucifix in urine. It is the reaction the creator is interested in that is the "art".

I am offended by it but on Good Friday the Passion of Christ tends to put things in context, this particular object is just another reminder of Jesus, and his followers, being loaded with contempt, there are worst acts of blasphemy. Abortion is worst. Child abuse is worst. War is worst. Torture is worst. Treating the young, the elderly with contempt is worse.

Failure to pass on our sacred faith is worst!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One of my parishioners on Creationism

One of my parishioners is a young historian, Dr Tim Stanley. I enjoy his rather quirkey thought, he amuses me, delights me, sometimes outrages me but always leaves me questioning my assumptions.
I also enjoy reading what he writes, have a look at this, about American creationists.

He also has a blog. His specialises in American history - I think of him as a second Alistair Cook - maybe some American bloggers might link to his site.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Following the Donkey, cannons and candles

Wooden donkeys on wheels were once part of pre-reformation German para-liturgy.
I am not someone to decry involving a donkey in a Palm Sunday procession. For some of my neighbours a donkey pops up periodically not just on Palm Sunday but at Christmas too. There is no prohibition on donkeys. I am just afraid someone will come up to me and say that they were staying here with the usual ass rather than following the donkey.

Today, Spy Wednesday, in Milan Cathedral at the death of Christ during the Passion of Luke the veil that screened the sanctuary was torn in half whilst cannon were fired from the clerestory filling the dark duomo with smoke and flashes of fire. I might try that!

According to Daniel Rock, a 19th cent. Southwark priest, bee keepers suffered terribly because of the Reformation. One feature of English pre-reformation liturgy was a huge paschal candle, often weighing several hundred weight, they were so tall they had to be lit from clerestory and remained alight continuously until the Ascension.

Sad we have all become liturgical minimalists!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Covenant of Civility?

Austen Ivereigh has an interesting article in America in which he calls for a "covenant of civility" amongst bloggers and also, I presume, he would include journalists and other commentators on the state of the Church.

I agee with him, at least in part, I often do. He also apologises for using the term "Taliban Catholics". I find that term distasteful but I think some bloggers and journalist, and commentators do tend towards the "Taliban", others are just "robust". So robust that I can't be bothered to read them, and I suspect few do.

I am less happy with Mr Ivereigh's suggestion that people should stop identifying dissent for what it is, after all the Pope himself said to our Bishops on their Ad Limina visit, "It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate." Whether he meant "recognizing dissent" as being part of our Bishop's charism or something all Catholics should be involved in is matter of debate. Obviously for a Bishop to do so has more far reaching effects than a mere parish priest or a parent, they can decide whether a school or a newspaper or organisation may or may not describe themselves as Catholic.

Discerning what is authentically part of the Tradition and what dissent is, is part of Catholic life, identifying tendencies towards heresy is tool towards that discernment. Newman speaks of "magisterial intolerance" of error and falsehood, Ratzinger in Truth and Tolerance takes up the same theme. Culturally we might not be into the open confrontationalism, not for us the beard tugging of Nicea, or French walk outs or even the stern clear rebuke of a Bruskewitz or the honest refutation of a Pell. We are more into being Disgusted of Tonbridge Wells writing  letters or pamphleteering, or latterly blogging.

There are not a variety of Truths, there is only one, it is not obscured but plainly reveal as the person of Jesus Christ. St Paul tells Timothy "to call to obedience", ultimately that is a episcopal act but it is also something which belongs to all the faithful by virtue of their baptism. Speaking Truth unto Power is a Christian duty, it should part of taking up one's Cross. I think it is possible that Mr Ivereigh could be suggesting that the duty of lay and even clerical Catholics is simply to pray, pay and obey, I hope he is not. That just encourages rampant and abusive clericalism, whether it is from clergy themselves or their growing number professional catholic voices.

It was the failure to hold to account that lead to the crisis caused by cover-up following the abuse scandals, which . There are in the Church necessary tensions, Paul rebukes Peter publicly, and is happy to tell the story afterwards, yet he also seeks to be obedient and in communion with Peter in all things. If the Church in the last forty years lacks anything it is a loyal opposition. The fudging of the Masgisterium has lead to a catechetical and moral wasteland. Thank God for prophetic voices like Daphne McLeod who has demanded clear and authentic catechesis and John Smeaton who continuously points out the dangers of our anti-Life culture, and tendencies towards it in the life of the Church.

In many ways these and others are prophets, as are the various disgruntleds who follow in their wake, they are necessarily critics of bishops and clergy. They are a necessary source of scrutiny. Like John the Baptist they have a duty to make us uncomfortable. The bishops and clergy are called to hold in communion, to gather the broken and the weak, to work for conversion and consensus, to walk at a pace the flock as a whole can follow as the gently lead it onward. The role of the prophet is to be the lone voice in the desert, crying out aloud, rebuking, urging, condemning, even threatening, to point out dangers. It is often their role to be downright and uncivil, to actually get angry, even to be abusive; often of course this might well be sign of lunacy but one man's prophet is another man's nutter.

New Archbishop of Cardiff

Bishop George Stack, Auxilliary in Westminster, has been appointed as Archbishop of Cardiff.

Let us pray for Benedict, our Pope

On the sixth anniversary of his election - Long Life!

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto.

V. Let us pray for Benedict, our Pope.

R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. [Ps 40:3]

R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies. [Ps 40:3]

Pater Noster, Ave Maria.

Our Father, Hail Mary.

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Benedictum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Bishop's Blog

I have just had a email from Bishop Michael Campbell's secretary to tell me about The Bishop's Blog. He is I think the first English bishop to blog.
Well done to the Bishop of Lancaster.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pope: Sursum Corda

Rocco Palmo posts the whole of the Holy Father's homily for today, not only does he say incredibly beautiful thing  but he says them so elegantly too. Benedict, last of the Fathers of the Church, eh?
Here is an extract:

All the inventions of the human spirit are ultimately an effort to gain wings so as to rise to the heights of Being and to become independent, completely free, as God is free. Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful. With the increase of our abilities there has been an increase not only of good. Our possibilities for evil have increased and appear like menacing storms above history. Our limitations have also remained: we need but think of the disasters which have caused so much suffering for humanity in recent months.

The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down – towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God. On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God’s love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards. Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us and grants us true freedom.

Following the Liturgy of the Word, at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer where the Lord comes into our midst, the Church invites us to lift up our hearts: “Sursum corda!” In the language of the Bible and the thinking of the Fathers, the heart is the centre of man, where understanding, will and feeling, body and soul, all come together. The centre where spirit becomes body and body becomes spirit, where will, feeling and understanding become one in the knowledge and love of God. This is the “heart” which must be lifted up. But to repeat: of ourselves, we are too weak to lift up our hearts to the heights of God. We cannot do it. The very pride of thinking that we are able to do it on our own drags us down and estranges us from God. God himself must draw us up, and this is what Christ began to do on the cross. He descended to the depths of our human existence in order to draw us up to himself, to the living God. He humbled himself, as today’s second reading says. Only in this way could our pride be vanquished: God’s humility is the extreme form of his love, and this humble love draws us upwards.
I am rather touched that Rocco has taken and edited one of my photographs of St Mary Magdalen's Lenten veiling to illustrate his Tuesday, April 12, 2011 post.
More pictures here of St Peter's today

Cardinal Burke in London

Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic will be speaking in London at the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Conference.

I find this quite interesting as Pro Ecclesia has so often been presented as being somewhat fringe.

Following a comment by Daphne McLeod I would add that the concerns of Pro Ecclesia such as Catholic Education and teaching have also been presented as being somewhat fringe, it is very good to see that the Prefect does not consider that to be so!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What to do with old Missals

With the immanent publication of the New Roman Mass Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith raises an interesting point about the disposal of the older versions.
As for the old Collins Missals, what are we to do with them?

I have not noticed any official guidance about how these holy books are to be disposed of. Ones in good condition can of course be given to libraries – old liturgical books are a priceless resource, and how we all wish even a few had survived from the early centuries. Ones in poor condition can hardly be left out with the rubbish, so the best thing for them is to be disposed of reverently.

The Jews used to entomb copies of the scriptures that had grown tatty with age, and my suggestion is that old editions of the Missal that are of no further use, whether “hand” missals or altar missals, be placed with the deceased in their coffins, and thus be buried or cremated.

Get Clean

I like this video. It understands Confession isn't about counselling, the wisdom of the priest, just about the sacramental meeting with God himself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Frogs can't be priests

The Greek Orthodox Church is suffering a vocations crisis however I had an email from a Greek friend telling me about having just rejected a candidate for the priesthood because he couldn't sing in tune, the lad was apparently devout, studious and intelligent but "... but his voice was like a frog croaking, no way could he sing the Divine Liturgy worthily".
Now if we applied the same the criteria in the West ....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Enthusiastic Parents

I can't feeling that many clergy would be grateful for a group of parents enthusiatic about passing on the faith to their children and anxious to seek the help of the Church in their duty as Christian parents.

Reigning but not ruling

The reign of Pope Benedict doesn't fill everyone with joy, acquaintances working in Rome in the offices of the Curia often rage about him for a variety of different reasons: Cardinals who have been promoted above their competence,  ignoring particular offices and doing things motu proprio, under his own initiative, or simply not reading documents they have prepared with a great deal of effort, expertise and diligence. The younger ones, complain that the Spirit of Vatican IIers are still in place and now hold many senior positions, not by merit but by virtue of their age. Some suggest he reigns but he does not rule.

Pope Benedict seems to consider life too short to become overly involved with reforming the Curia, it is a labour of Hercules for a younger more beaurocratic Pope. Any real reform is about changing attitudes. Promotion in the Curia depends on seniority, and for the most part Curial recruitment is a self selecting Magic Circle, changing its direction would involve either brutal sackings or detailed micromanagement, neither are Benedict's style. It is probably accurate to portray John Paul I's death as being caused, in part, by a slew of paperwork from the Curia. Benedict avoids it, leaving it to be dealt with by rather kindly, if not too effective Cardinal Prefects, who some suggest are chosen more for their past connection to the Pope than their effectiveness.

Occasionally, often perhaps, the Pope does intervene, nuncios complain their ternae are rejected, being returned from the Papal Apartment marked "none of the above", although they are left to make their suggestions the Pope appoints those he has learnt to trust or to veto others. The Secretariate of State for the most part seems to do its own thing working diplomatically with other states but hardly putting forward a coherent ecclessiology.
Amongst the Cardinals there is criticism, Cardinal Zen attacked vehemently the Ostpolitik of Cardinal Casaroli in the person of Father Jeroom Heyndrickx, which was pretty obviously a criticism Secretariate of State. It is perhaps more significant than the spat between Cardinals Schönborn and Sodano, the retired Secretary of State.

Edward Pentin interviews Massimo Franco about his new book "Once the there was a Vatican", which goes further into these divisions.

Benedict XVI will always be a Pope of divisions, for many he is still an object of hate, "dragging the Church backwards" away from the rupture of the "Spirit of Vatican II" or the "betrayer", the one who refuses to refute the legacy of the Vatican II etc.

In order to understand Benedict XVI, I think it is important to understand that he is a man of thought and ideas, who understands the power of history. The Curia will continue doing its day to day work today and tomorrow but the future belongs to the intellectual concepts he scatters on the changing tide of history.

Remember his real ambition was to retire and write, not to become Pope.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Death, Hell and Stuff

I am a Catholic, I believe in Hell.

I don't know about demons with red-hot pokers, it would seem terrible enough to be separated from God for all eternity without the addition of the imagery of a medieval torture chamber. In fact that imagery I think only makes the doctrine more difficult for the doubters and believers too. Christ speaks of weeping and teeth gnashing but no pokers, pincers or tubs of boiling oil. Pain comes from the absence of God, "My heart is restless until it rests in thee" eternal restlessness, that is the torture but it comes from within, rather than from another source.

Since the fall separation from God and restlessness is the the default position for mankind, we dwell amongst the dead. Without Christ all we can long for is oblivion.

The modern mantra: we have to believe hell exists but we don't have to believe anyone is there, doesn't ring true with Jesus' own words about the "narrow way", many being called yet few being chosen or about the imagery he uses of dividing sheep and goats or even wise and foolish virgins.

In his new book the Pope reminds us that the early Christians called themselves "Those who are alive", or simply "the Alive", to distinguish themselves from those who did not know Christ, the Resurrection and the Life and therefore remained dead.

Though we cannot limit God's mercy to the Church, the Sacraments or even to direct knowledge of Christ; for the New Testament Salvation, knowing Christ, comes with membership of the Church through baptism. It does not come from moral goodness but from God's free gift, and man's free choice to accept it or not.

Acceptance, and therefore the willingness to conform ones life to Christ brings Life, rejection, merely leaves us where the rest of mankindness is, amongst the Dead.

The continual choice placed before us is Life or Death, the continual call and prayer of Christ is, "Come forth", come out of the grave, out of the company of the Dead, out of the place of decay and corruption.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Trad Spatacus

from Fr Michael Brown's blog
Translation of a message from Marcus Crassus, "Your life is saved: slaves you have been and slaves you will remain, but you will be spared the terrible pains of crucifixion only if you will never more ...'
The rest you translate yourself!
Pio Quinto is Pius V obviously

Lenten Veiling

I always get a jolt going into the church during Passiontide, it is shocking to see the Lenten veiling up, to see the familiar images of the saints covered up.
I don't know if many other parishes do it, as it is optional nowadays, but it is such a powerful reminder that Lent is coming to its conclusion, that it is only the Lord that matters, that the things that we use to come close to Him, images of Him or images of the saints, even the saints themselves are of little importance. Ultimately all that matters is that He comes to us, and we and the Church are called to empty ourselves, as He did, so that might sanctify us.

Good Friday - Help!

Does know where I can get a copy of the Sung Passion of St John in the verncular for Good Friday? Is there anything on line?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Wouldn't it be a good idea...

Reading the Gospel of John at Mass seems to hammer home Jesus is God in a way that that the Synoptic Gospel - Matthew, Mark and Luke - do not.
Whenever I prepare anyone for reception into the Church I get them to try grasp what John is saying in the Prologue to the Gospel in order to get them to understand the rudiments of the Trinity and Christology. I try to set converts to be overwhelmed by the significance of what is being said. Recently I was doing the same with a lady who had been distanced from the Church for some years. She did have her mind blown by St John's Prologue and I couldn't help smiling when  she told me she had learnt it by heart then said, "Wouldn't it be a good idea if the beginning of John's Gospel was read at every Mass?" She was amazed when I said that in the Traditional Mass it was read at the end of practically every Mass.
Then she asked, "Didn't it have a negative effect on priest when it was dropped?"

Interesting thought, eh?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Court of Israel? #2

Lux Occulta carries a report in Catholic Voice about Maynooth, the Irish seminary, it is not by Archbishop Dolan but by a or a group of seminarians. It is damning. Fr Z has an easier to read version.

 There were suggestions in the Irish press that Maynooth would be closed following the Apostolic Visitation, Archbishop Dolan said the suggestion was without foundation, presumably because he will collect facts and make a private report to the Holy See. However the President seemed to imply everything was fine that the Visit team had a great time and was pleased with everything they saw and heard.
This is cannot be so if only a tiny percentage of the Catholic Voice accusations are true.

It is not the details that concern me so much as the culture that makes the President say everything is fine whilst an anonymous seminarian or seminarians say there are very serious problems. It suggests a culture of fear and secrecy. It is same culture which made Irish bishops claim everything is fine and dandy, whilst having filing cabinets stuffed full of child abuse allegations.
This isn't just an Irish problem; it is problem that lies at the very heart of the Church.

I called for a Court of Israel, a place, a mechanism where Catholics could speak and ask questions honestly.
Our structures are feudal, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. A feudal society in which there is a covenant between the leaders and the led can often be more open than a modern elective democracy but feudalism depends on dialogue and scrutiny. A family is feudal, at its worst it is repressive, at its best its head listens to all kinds of concerns and is questioned and scrutinised by its members.

The model presented by Vatican II is a Church of Colleges, the Pope with the bishops, a bishop with his priests and priest with his people. The problem is of course is that it doesn't work, we have seen in the worst situations in Australia and the US of parishes that have actually left the Church, where wacky priests have surrounded themselves by equally wacky lay people, formed in their own image and likeness. Even in the more ordinary dioceses and parishes, as in a family, show it is often the most manipulative, and therefore frequently the most dysfunctional, who are heard and have the most influence.

One of the glories of the Latin Church, which I am sure has been part of its success as missionary Church is the monarchical Petrine form of government, as opposed to the Synodal or oligarchic governance of the Eastern Christianity. The Petrine form means decisions and change can be made quickly, the Synodal form means that most decisions tend to get bogged down in “Byzantine” discussion.

The weakness of the Petrine model, which has increased the power of Pope, Bishop and Priest since the Vatican Council is that everything is subject, often, to the whim of the individual. The strength of the Synodal model is that it depends on consensus and therefore tends to stability. It is stability that seems to be lacking in the Western Church.

My idea of a Court of Israel is ultimately about scrutiny and debate. The next question is who should scrutinise and who should raise matters for debate and where should this take place.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Dr Shaw challenges Mr Inwod

There is rather interesting post on Dr Shaw's blog, in which he accuses Paul Inwood of, errrr, telling untruths about certain priests substituting the Traditional Mass for the "Principal" Novus Ordo Mass. He challenges Mr Inwood to disclose some facts.
I understand Mr Inwood has been making the same allegations for sometime, creating a degree of hysteria amongst his followers.

Fat Ladies Dancing

One of the reasons for using the scourge as a means of penance is that three or four excruciating strokes across the back gives one a tremendous sense of spiritual achievement and a good healthy dose of realism.

Well I don't use it, instead, during Lent, I watch the occasional bit of the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference. I can think of no other better form of excruciating pain, or dose of realism. Here is worship of God turned into a poorly delivered piece of self serving, camp, anthropocentric, cheap, tawdry, banal, meretricious Tinseltown showbiz. Quite fitting as a celebration of Mahoney-Church, something constructed in the image of its creator, not of course that I am suggesting that the Archbishop Emeritus himself is any of those things.

However Cardinal Mahoney no longer sits Archiepiscopal throne, Archbishop Jose Gomes has taken his place and yes, there seems to be a change, just a little more prayerfulness, a touch, just a touch more of silence, there are still the illicit glass jugs to contain the Precious Blood and wicker baskets for his Body but there were actually metal chalices, not the glass ones which Cdl Mahoney had made mandatory in his time.

The list of speakers too seemed just a tad more orthodox too, more mainstream, more Catholic. Gradually, bit by bit, it seems the US's biggest diocese is being Catholicised. Yes there was even a Kyrie and amongst the babel of languages, there was even just a little Latin. I do not know how long it will take for Los Angeles to learn from the Supreme Pontiff's example - see this interview with Mgr Marini.
It is not over until the last fat lady has danced.

Pro-LIFE Cloud of Witnesses

I like this video, though I am not sure quite what the pro-Life credentials of some of the names mention are.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Ad Orientem, yet again

Fr Hunwicke presents a difficulty with the Office of Readings, which struck me this morning Origen very eloquently sees the High Priestly action of Aaron going into the Tent of Meeting and sprinkling the East of the Mercy Seat on Ark of the Covenant as being a prophetic gesture, because "Your propitiation came from the east. From there came the man whose name is the Dawn, who became the mediator between God and Man." The Leviticus reading on which Origen comments in both the Neo Vulgate, Latin translation and the English version merely says, "the front of the Mercy Seat". Obviously this is a case of modernised liturgy influencing the translation of the sacred text.

The image that Origen presents is incredibly rich; the Mercy Seat, Aaron and the East are all images of Christ, as is the sin offering. The East especially symbolising the Risen Christ, who come to judge from the East. There is a richness in Origen's translation, his offering of a sacrifice in the presence of, and on behalf of Israel. In New Testament terms one can even see a sense of those standing behind Aaron as a Holy Nation, a Royal Priesthood, it just evaporates when "front" replaces "east", as does the relationship of the ministerial Priesthood to the Priesthood "of Believers" in the current normal liturgical practice.

Yesterday's Gospel might have needed less explanation if we all turned to the Light to pray, the East is the great primal-icon of Christ. I love the idea of the faithful turning to the great block of light that would have almost blinded them streaming through eastward facing door of St Peter's.

I have always celebrated Good Friday facing East, now my servers are pressing me to celebrate the rest of the Triduum that way too, maybe I shouldn't have got them to read Spirit of the Liturgy.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A Court of Israel? #1

William Oddie discusses the CES's criticism of the government for dropping RE from the English Baccalaureate, basically he is in favour of the governments decision.

He cites some of his own experiences of Catholic education; a nun teacher who boasts her school does not "indoctrinate" its pupils, sixth formers who don't know what the Blessed Sacrament is. It is easy for many of us to come up with horror stories not just of the products of Catholic education: the knowledge or lack of it by Catholic pupils and of the standard of teaching, as well as criticism of the Catholic Education Service itself but actually that isn't the issue.

The issue is whether RE per se should be taught in schools, not just Catholic schools, we are talking here not about passing on the Catholic Faith but passing on knowledge of religion. I would say that, in itself, is important in order that a student understands the significance of "belief" in society, simply because most people in the world believe. In Europe, it is important Christianity is taught in order to understand European culture: its music, its art and architecture, its history, its political structures. In Europe, even for a secularist the Christian myth is the fons et origo of our civilisation.

For Catholics, however, there is a need for debate and to ask what is RE for, indeed what a Catholic school is for, that is the beginning of a  deeper debate that touches on the most fundameantal of all questions: what are Christ and his Church for. It was a debate Bishop O’Donoghue tried to start and which his episcopal colleagues simply brushed aside.

The conflict in Westminster Diocese between Archbishop Nichols and the parents of the Cardinal Vaughan school is part of this debate. I am no advocate of democracy in the Church but debate, discussion, dialogue is, or should be, an essential part of ecclesiastical life. Where this debate should take place I don't know but it seems that many Catholic parents are deeply concerned about Catholic RE, the CES and, in the case of the Vaughan, the Archbishop of Westminster are not listening or at least no conversation is taking place.

Oddie makes mention of Daphne McCleod, who for years has been the heroic lone voice calling for a form of Catholic Education that prepares our young for living a Catholic life, for Catholic marriage and ultimately for Catholic death. For years she has speaking but few have been listening and few have entered into dialogue with her.

If we can have a "Court of Gentiles", surely we can have a Court of Israel in which real dialogue takes place within the Church because, as I say, the main issue is not just Catholic education but the very purpose of the Church and Christ himself.

Perhaps one of the problems is the language that should be used. In Vaughan debate it seems that both parties are shouting through megaphones but not listening to one another, maybe the reason is that different languages or terms of reference are being used. Here the Holy See seems to offer common ground,
the General Directory for Catechesis and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for Catholics, the Archbishop and Vaughan parents, that should be common ground, unless one of the parties is ploughing its own furrow, out of communion with the thinking, at least, of the Holy See.

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...