Friday, March 30, 2012

7 Readings at the Vigil

I have just been looking at the Easter Vigil, in the new translation of the Roman Missal. Others have noted the return of the bees in the Exultet - doesn't their absence show how poorly we were served by the previous translation.

What our director of music pointed out was the rubric that says all nine readings must be used "whenever this can be done...". "Nevertheless, where more serious pastoral circumstance demand it, the number of readings ... maybe reduced".  I think this will change the shape of the Vigil in many places, at least where the rubrics are read.
In the UK I think it is quite normal to reduce them to four, hence forth it is seven, though I am not sure what "serious pastoral reason" might mean to lead a priest to reduce the number; presumably if he celebrating the Vigil in a prison camp.

The other thing I am pleased to see is the ninefold Easter Alleluia is now in the Missal, together with its music.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trad Mass: Experiment #2

Having decided to abandon the previous experiment of celebrating the Traditional Mass at 9am fom Easter day, I have decided to move it to the other end of the day at 6.30pm from Low Sunday - we'll see how it goes.

I don't always but here I agree with Michael Vorris.
Trad Mass produces vocations, two of the younger men who serve it are off this summer to try their vocations, sadly not with our diocese. Do pray for them.
Trad Mass attracts and produces parents dedicated to passing on the faith to their children, not that we have that many young families here.
Trad Mass inspires young people to deepen their prayer life and to seek to understand the theology and history of the Church.
Trad Mass appeals to men, especially young men.
Trad Mass is evangelical.

The problem is for many younger people 9am is too early, especially if you have been up until late working or partying or if you have to travel some distance to get here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Smelly Dogs

Ever since the beatification of Cardinal Newman "Oratories" have been on the periphery of my vision. I have a love for St Philip Neri, all those wonderful stories of him: talking to that smartly dressed Spaniard, St Ignatius of Loyal and as he did so, pulling off his cassock buttons; turning "seeking humiliations" into a fun game by getting the young aristocrats of Rome to carry that smelly dog Capricio around Rome. He appeals to my sense of the subversive whimsicality. He even wrote a joke book, yet at the same time he could calm the rages of a Pope and was sought out to give his blessing to those going to their death on the English mission.
He was responsible for the reconversion of Rome, from a place that was so scandalously corrupt that it sent half of Europe off into heresy, to the resonating heart of the Counter-Reformation, no wonder he is called the Rome's third apostle. His sanctity solid inspired so much, not just founders of the then new religious movements: Loyola, de Lellis and others but also the artists that moved the church from the Medieval into the new world of the Baroque. His Chiesa Nuova was a landmark in architectural style and form, the development of the Oratorio, backbone of the pious youth he gathered around him was the inspiration of composers and poets, owed a great deal to him. In the same way his encouragement of the scholarly work of Barronius and so many others to give a new seriousness to Catholic scholarship. In all things he encouraged excellence, generosity, beauty and holiness, more than that he managed to unite them to the service of the greater glory of God, and so bring about a great resurgence in the Christian Church, that spread throughout the world.

When I was young the Brompton Oratory was regarded as almost the annexe of the Victoria Albert Museum next door, hanging on to a world and a Church that seemed to have passed. It stood out against liturgical practice of practically everywhere else, yet increasingly its style of worship seems to be becoming mainstream, mainly under the influence of Pope Benedict, who seems to reflect their own sensibilities. NLM reports the founding of a new Oratory in Cincinnati, not that common an occurrence but the founding of the Oxford Oratory two decades ago has had a significant on the growth of the faith in that city and university, the same could be said of the Oratory in Toronto too.
Without the London Oratory I am sure the glorious musical tradition of Westminster Cathedral would have been destroyed years ago. The three Oratories in this country have offered a refreshing vision of dynamic Tradition.

I am intrigued by, and welcome, the election of Fr Julian Large as the new Provost of Brompton Oratory to replace Fr Ignatius Harrison who for the past few months has been Provost of both London and Birmingham Oratories. Fr Julian's election is perhaps a sign that London is about to take a step further along the path of Pope Benedict's reforms and vision.
One of St Philips maxims was, "to seek to be unknown", it was his influence that was so important, in the same way that our English Oratories seem to have an influence, a leavening on the English church, let us pray it continues.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Up North, strange!

I have never understood the North: flat caps, pigeons, whippets, mushy peas etc., it is beyond a soft Southerners understanding, so what is happening? Has there been a mass conversion?

Not only has the Bishop of Shrewsbury been opening (not closing) shrines and welcoming the ICKSP into his diocese in the North West but on the same day the Bishop of Middlesbrough in the North East has been presiding over a pilgrimage of hundreds to York organised by the LMS. 

Not only that but Bishop Campbell has apparently renewed the Sacrament of Penance single handed in his diocese. Hope this trend doesn't move south, it could be dangerous...

...or glorious!

Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre

I was very moved by this video wich I found on Rorate.

It tells the story of the Patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre who is the focus of the Holy Father's vist to Cuba.
Apart from the odd liturgical practices on the part of the clergy it wonderful to see and hear about the faith of ordinary Catholics.

Mass at Chilworth

A friend of mine sent me this picture  of Mass (Laetare Sunday) at the new Benedictine Monastery of Chilworth in our diocese. He said it was movingly beautiful, the Mass was in the vernacular but with  chant Latin Propers sung by the ten or so monks in the community.
Since they have arrived they have gradually tried to make the church more suited to the needs of properly celebrated Novus Ordo worship; principly by removing the forward facing altar.
I knew this church well but then there was a forward facing altar under the Rood Loft, it just looks so wonderful now that is gone.

Below is a picture as it was until recently:

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Experiment

Bishop Amigo, our bishop in the first half of the twentieth century had a plan to build a church every mile in the city and every three miles in the country, he was more or less successful.
Catholics who want the Traditional Mass in this part of Sussex have to be mobile; willing to travel thirty or so miles. For the past few months I have been celebrating a Traditional Mass at 9am every Sunday, it was an experiment, it all started off rather well, a congregation of up to thirty and a generous collection.
Those who travel are used to going from church to church in the course of a month, my own parishioners tend  to not be early risers, lately the numbers have been dropping to less than a dozen people, so I have decided to end the experiment on Easter day. I am sad, it was a beautiful way of beginning a Sunday.
Our Sunday Mass schedule has been
Traditional Mass at 9am,
a sung Mass at 10.30,
a Polish Mass at 12.30, always with confessions, often with devotions beforehand
an evening Mass at 5pm.

Before that there was a Traditional Mass 6pm on the third Sunday, which being the last Mass of the day seemed to attract quite a few younger people. The thing was, that I disliked, was that it was hardly worth taking my vestments off between Masses.
Somewhere, if I could find a choir and servers, I would like to celebrate a Missa Cantata: for those brought up on the Novus Ordo, doing nothing but praying at Mass can be a bit of a shock.
During the lighter evenings we shall return to an evening monthly Mass on the third Sunday, perhaps at 6.30pm but I would like to do more.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

From old Brighton to New Brighton: Congratulations

Have just been enjoying looking at Fr Henry's report of the opening of the new shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in the Wirrall of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena's church
look here and here
and there is Flickr page here
As Fr Henry says, it is good to see something opening rather than closing. It is run by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, an initiative of Bishop Mark Davies.
From old Brighton to New Brighton: congratulations.
I was invited but only last Monday but I very much appreciate the gesture.

That Issue, again

The dear old Elena Curti in her magazine's blog is suggesting their should be more "Soho Masses". There is an interesting comment on what had happened with a similar Mass in Leicester.
The reason that mass in Leicester was scrapped was that there was an agreement with the local bishop, himself Dominican like the priory church in which it was held, that the masses could be held as long as they weren't used to campaign against Church teaching and that this agreement was not apparently adhered to.
The problem isn't the sexuality of the congregation, we Catholics recognise that "all have fallen short of the Glory of God" Rom. 3:23, the problem is dissent, how interesting the The Tablet wants to foment dissent, especially on this issue.

Deacon Nick reports, "Terence Weldon, a leading member of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, recently reaffirmed by Archbishop Nichols, has posted the unfounded accusation that Pope Benedict is a homosexual on his blog." Weldon, also accuse Paul VI of be a homosexual, I hadn't heard that one before but apparently everyone else did.

Brendan O'Neill has an interesting piece on what has happened in Canada following the legalisation of gay marriage.
Anyone who thinks the introduction of gay marriage will give rise to a new era of liberty and choice should look at the Canadian experience. There, the passing of the 2005 Civil Marriage Act, which allows same-sex unions, unleashed a phenomenal amount of state meddling in families and relationships. Most notably, the state utterly overhauled the traditional language of the family, airbrushing from official documents terms such as "husband" and "wife" and even "mother" and "father". The Orwellian obliteration of such longstanding identities, which mean a great deal to many people, demonstrates that modern politicians are more than happy to ride roughshod over the majority in their desperate pursuit of some PC political points.
The Lib-Con consultation on gay marriage has hinted that words such as "husband" and "wife" could soon become a thing of the past, to be replaced by the sterile and soulless "spouse". In Canada, they've already done this. Following the passing of the Civil Marriage Act, all official documentation and legislation was amended, erasing "husbands" and "wives". And because same-sex couples primarily use reproductive technology to procreate, some Canadian legislation has been amended to replace the term "natural parent" with "legal parent". As one report describes it: "In short, the adoption exception – that who is a child's parent is established by legal fiat, not biological connection – becomes the norm for all children." Most strikingly, on birth certificates some Canadian provinces have replaced the term "father" and "mother" with "Parent 1" and "Parent 2".

Friday, March 23, 2012

Playing Mass

I am told that one of our younger boys has started playing Mass, it started since we began celebrating ad Orientem. thanks to Fr Z for the video

What concerns me, is the young men who want to do it for real.
Say a prayer for a couple of them from here who are both thinking seriously about vocations to the priesthood. The thing they have in common is the Trad. Mass.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Marginalising the Champion of the Poor and Oppressed

What is the Government up to?

As important as the "gay marriage" issue is to society in the abstract in reality it is of no importance to most people. Each year less than 6,000 civil partnership ceremonies take place, one may expect less "gay marriages" to take place. Even in the gay community it is not a major issue, some of the first people who signed the Coalition for Marriage petition here might well define themselves as being Catholic members of that community.

So, what is the Government up to?

I thought "Dave" was just trying to distance himself from "Sir Tufton Bufton" and "Section 28" Conservatism by saying he supports gay marriage because he was a Conservative, trying to say we are not the "Nasty Party" but I think there is more. Most Conservatives of course don't give a fig about it.

If you want to know Government is up to look at the up-coming budget, it is the economy, stupid, but actually it is a very great deal more.

When Mrs Thatcher did her great bit of social re-engineering in the 1980s, with her "no such thing as society", the biggest, most intellectually articulate source of opposition was the C of E's document "Faith in the City" which highlighted the damage her policies were doing to the poorest and the fabric of our society. The CofE ceased to be the Tory Party at Prayer and became its enemy.

Whilst Christians are getting angry about the marriage issue and being accused of, crime of crimes, homophobia - see Brendan O'Neil's article on the fall of Abp Sentamu - the govermnent are heading to removing Sunday trading, at the moment, ad experimentum - no longer an issue which gets Christians too upset but up it does upset those involved protecting the rights of low-paid service and shopworkers and their family life. Also under attack are child allowances, not just for the wealthy but across the board, suggestions are being made for a curb on it for larger families. Similarly the end of collective bargaining for public sector employees, were there will be a cut in the pay of the some of the least well off, it is going to affect so many families. All the straws in the wind suggest the Cameron government are intent on pushing unbridled Capitalism.

Already as a parish priest in  a very mixed parish I notice an increase in those who beg and those who are homeless, the increased number of people who are either unemployed or who have had hours - therefore their incomes - cut. We are in for a time of cuts and for a dismantling of familiar British institutions which will hurt the poor and families.

The organisations that care for the poor are increasingly having what help the government offered pruned heavily, so much so that those who used our parish facilities for education, training, advocacy can no longer afford either the rent, we cut the charges, or to pay helpers.

Dr Williams self described as "a bearded leftie", similarly, the inclinations of Catholic bishops too, is to the political left, formed by an "fundamental option for the poor" are the natural and historic critics such policies. Getting Christian leaders excited by "gay marriage" and forcing them into what appears a politically "reactionary" position means that not only are they distracted from any criticism of government cuts and social re-ordering but also, amongst the chattering classes of the media, their criticism is discredited and the group that has traditionally championed the poor and oppressed is marginalised.

A clever bit of politics but no help for the needy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pope Shenouda on Love

Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church died yesterday, here he speaks powerfully on the nature of Love.
God is Love and if we wish to love we must be possessed totally by Him.
Pray for his soul and pray for his oppressed people.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Abolition of Marriage

Nobody has answered the question I posed a few days ago.

"What word do we use to define that relationship between of two persons of the opposite sex .... that is ordered to providing a stable environment for the procreation of children and upbringing of children?"

In fact there is no word.
What the Cameron government is actually doing is abolishing marriage!
..... the intended change in the definition of marriage would mean that marriage as traditionally defined no longer exists. Thus heterosexual people would no longer have the right to enter into an institution understood to be only possible for heterosexuals, as doubly recognising both the unique social significance of male/female relationship and the importance of the conjugal act which leads naturally to the procreation of children who are then reared by their biological parents.

In effect, if marriage is now understood as a lifelong sexual contract between any two adult human persons with no specification of gender, then the allowance of gay marriage renders all marriages "gay marriages." ....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Religious Decorations


A cross is a "religious decoration", says Rowan Williams, the one he is wearing might well be! Though I think here he is wearing an Orthodox Panagia from his jewellery box - not quite the normal thing for a western bishop or even "bishop". Of course he comes from a form of Protestantism that has had difficulty with icons and Crosses and although he has written about iconography I suspect he doesn't have a visceral understanding of the meaning or attachment  to such things.

The Cross I am wearing is not a decoration, I do not have a collection of them. Mine is a sacramental, and therefore an aid to holiness, it is part of my Lenten discipline, irritatingly heavy enough to remind me to pray. You could say it is in part the fruit of a vow, all be it a personal one.

He is right no Christian is under an obligation to wear a cross but religion today is about personal choice and I choose to wear a Cross. If I were a Coptic Orthodox I might choose to be tattooed with Holy Cross or in a former age to branded with the Cross.

Nothing obliges a married person to wear a wedding ring but it is a sign of devotion and love, it is the same as my Cross.

Profanation of the Sacred

It is easy to destroy the Sacred, to profane it, to reduce it to the banal especially for children: to turn an angel into a fairy or even the Truth of the Gospel into a fable just by using the word "story", for example. Treating holy things with contempt empties them of meaning.
Yes, the contrary also happens, I remember an elderly arthritic womean coming up with the greatest difficulty weeping to venerate the crucifix on Good Friday, who insisted on kneeling to do so. My own faith in the Real Presence was helped greatly by a man called Fred who just spent hours kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.
In a place where devotion to the Eucharist had died, where the priest lived in concubinage and the altar was covered with dust the great Borromeo simply knelt, he knelt all night until little by little he was joined by the whole parish.
In the past fifty years an elite has spent its time destroying and trivialising the Holy, it is not just the Linz focaccia on a stick Corpus Christi procession, or turning one's back on the Most Holy, it is the whole process of distancing God from man, the denial of the veracity of scripture and the Church, ultimately it is a neo-Arianism. Its knock on effect is the trivialising of humanity in society as a whole and shows itself in the great touchstone of humanity: our relationships with one another.
An extract from Fr Bede Rowe's post: Get you hands of that Altar. 
First I have had to remind one of my altar servers this week that when they genuflect close to the Altar, then they are not to put their hands on it as a way of hoisting themselves up. I know that at various points during the Mass the Priest is allowed to touch the Altar in such a manner, but not an altar server.
Why? Because this is the Altar of God where the divine sacrifice of God to God takes place. This is Calvary where the Precious Blood of the Lord is spilled for our redemption. This is not a shelf or a table to put things on. It is consecrated and set apart for a supernatural purpose. If I allow him to use it as a table then how can I tell him that it is the Altar of God? If I reduce it to the status of his desk then I cannot expect him not to treat it like a desk? If he treats it as a normal table then soon he will think of it as a normal table – and further, normal things happen on normal tables, not supernatural things.
Our limited humanity will make it difficult to believe that profane things carry sacred significance.
Will Holy Mass ‘work’ using a dirty coffee cup and the dregs of last night’s wine glass? Well, yes. But it is not suitable, it is not fitting. In an emergency, no problem, but if that becomes normal then when I say to you that this is the most precious thing in the world – the Holy Blood of God made Man – then I cannot blame you if you say “I do not believe that you would treat something so precious with such little respect”. It is important that my altar-server does not slouch on the Altar in the Chapel. 
read the rest...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Six Principles of the Liturgical Reform

There is another article by the good Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan on  Paix Liturgique. He contrasts six principles of Liturgical Reform from Sacrosanctum Concillium's vision of the Sacred Liturgy with five wounds that have been inflicted on the Mystical Body.

The Six Principles of the Liturgical Reform

1. During the liturgical celebration, the human, the temporal, and action must be directed towards the divine, the eternal, and contemplation; the role of the former must be subordinated to the latter (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2).
2. During the liturgical celebration, the realization that the earthly liturgy participates in the heavenly liturgy will have to be encouraged (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 8).
3. There must be absolutely no innovation, therefore no new creation of liturgical rites, especially in the rite of Mass, unless it is for a true and certain gain for the Church, and provided that all is done prudently and, if it is warranted, that new forms replace the existing ones organically (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 23).
4. The rites of Mass must be such that the sacred is more explicitly addressed (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 21).
5. Latin must be preserved in the liturgy, especially in Holy Mass (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36 and 54).
6. Gregorian chant has pride of place in the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116).

All Fur Coat and No ...

A cartoon by Christian Adams
The Prime Minister, yesterday, watched a not terribly interesting basketball game sitting alongside Mr Obama, having travelled on Airfoce 1, where they shared a dinner of "hotdogs".
I suspect the more apparent the lack of success in fixing the economy both leaders exhibit, the more spin and tricks, the more social manipulation we will see on both sides of the Atlantic.

Health Care, Gay Marriage, the continued pointless military action in Afganistan are all a distraction from the main issue that affects most Brits and Americans - IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rome Restores... A New Missal

So important are seasons and festivals that in the Old Testament the sun, the moon and planets are created in order to mark them and the routine of daily life, of work and commerce, even war and sexual intercourse are made to fit into the liturgical calendar.
Perhaps the deepest liturgical changes are those which affect the calendar, so it is interesting that Rome's latest moves on the liturgical front is to restore the more ancient usage, but for the Ordinariate.
  1. As in England, Ordinary Time will no longer be referred to, being replaced by Sundays after Epiphany or Sundays after Trinity, thus ensuring the whole liturgical year is now explicitly anchored and referenced to the mysteries of salvation.
  2. The three “-gesima” Sundays are restored.
  3. Rogation days before Ascension, and the Ember days in the four seasons of the year are restored.
  4. The Octave of Pentecost is restored, to be marked properly except for the readings which will be of the particular weekday.
Already the Ordinariate have announced its liturgy should be eastward facing. The replacement of Ordinary Time is obviously a reflection of calendar of the Book of Common Prayer, but it is probably more than that, the same could be said of Rogation and Ember days but the rest, the -gesimas, the Octave of Pentecost are used by some Anglicans but at least here, it is not mainstream.

This isn't going to happen tomorrow, if the whole Church is to be carried forward but for the rest of the Church these are interesting developments, one hears rumours of a new Missal being prepared, an Usus Medior; a reconciliation of the Usus Antiquior and Recentior, so there is one Roman Usage, rather than two.

This is could be one of the reasons why Cardinal Canivares has been speaking about concelebration being ancient but really, in the West, being something that should be about celebrating with a bishop, rather than as so often happens a gang of priests electing one of them will preside over the rest. The same can be said about the Pope, Cardinal Canivares and others raising the issue of the reception of Holy Communion in the traditional manner: kneeling and on the tongue, or again the whole discussion raised by the then Cardinal Ratzinger about liturgical orientation at the turn of the millenium. What serious liturgists would argue for Mass facing the people today?

The big problem is that "Traddies" are not going to take kindly to the Missal of Pius V or as we say now, the Missal of the Blessed Pope John XXIII being interfered with, and yet it is now permissible to celebrate the Traditional Mass and use vernacular readings, that is done on the continent by the SSPX. There is talk about adding new Feasts which for most is hardly problematic, many would actually welcome the addition of some of the new Prefaces. As far as language is concerned the CDW has been encouraging the use of Latin. There were rumours a few years ago that there was a move that all sacramental formulas in the Latin Rite should be said in the language of our Rite.
One trend which is significant is discussion on allowing the use option of the Usus Antiquior offertory prayers.

As we “celebrate” the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council we will see an increase in Rome issuing re-presentation of the major documents – read in the light of Tradition – the hermeneutic of continuity. I would be very surprised if the Pope did not start devoting his Wednesday Catechesis to this.

A significant part of this reappraisal will be re-evaluating Sancrosanctum Concillium, a lot of groundwork has already taken place like the reassessment of paticipatio actuoso. An important area will be the whole examination of “lay ministry”, yet already to an extent this has taken place with, officially instituted acolytes being able to take the place of subdeacons at High Mass, or in their absence a member of a religious institute, a brother, may fulfil the sacred ministry, though sans maniple.

The big problem is women’s ministry.
In other areas, music for example, chant is coming back in many places, there is a tendency to prefer the Introit, Gradual/Tract, the Offertory and Communion Antiphon to songs and that preference is already in the rubrics of the Paul VI Missal. The gradual insistence on the importance of the rubrics, including the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, is beginning to take hold.
For many the reconciliation of the two Missals seems like squaring the circle but the rise of younger priests happy to celebrate both Usages and developing a “feel for Tradition”, perhaps the impossible is actually is beginning to happen.

At the moment so much seems to be happening on the level of bread being cast on the waters, discussion amongst experts or in journals but little by little the fruit is being passed on in seminaries, in certain parishes, on diocesan committees. I noted with some astonishment recently that our own Bishops Conference appointed a real liturgical expert, fully conversant with both forms and the intellectual trends in liturgical thought as Secretary to the Liturgical Commission. The Benedictine way is to capture the intellectual high ground.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reaction to the Archbishops' Letter

Interesting reactions to the Archbishops letter about same sex marriage.

I have had a few emails from people who say their priests refused to read it or make it available, one where the priest read it and then said he entirely disagreed with it! I think those are likely to be exceptions.
Dylan says there was protestors, two, outside Westminster Cathedral.
In Teignmouth there gay activist disrupting Mass and videoing himself doing it.
Oh, and Tony Blair expressed his dissent, that'll do the pro-gay marriage lobby a great deal of harm.

And from Laodicea, who seems to hit the nail on the head, apparently the Government do claim the right to control or re-order the basic building blocks of society. What do you expect from a toff who spent his youth smashing up bars as part of the Bullingdon club? They were wealthy enough to pay for the damage then but does Cameron realise the cost of the damage he is reeking on society today?

“Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone will launch a consultation later this month on how to make civil marriage available to same-sex couples. She has said she wants to challenge the view that the government does not have the right to change marriage traditions.” BBCAha! Rare honesty! So the purpose of the ‘consultation’ is to trick its participants into implicitly denying the main point of opposition to ‘Gay Marriage’ : the principle that the Family is the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law. The most important goal of ‘Gay Marriage’ is to assert that there is no such thing as society and the family only individuals and the state.

Archbishop Establishes Shrine of St Augustine

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark has formally established Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate as a shrine of the ‘the Apostle of the English’. In an official decree the Archbishop grants the shrine canonical privileges and designates it as a place of pilgrimage.
The establishment of this new pilgrimage site fills a five hundred year gap created when the last shrine of Augustine was destroyed in the 16th century. A shrine to St Augustine existed on the Isle of Thanet before the Reformation and so this new place of pilgrimage recovers an ancient tradition. St Augustine’s is a Catholic church already dedicated to the saint and stands closer than any other to the place of Augustine’s landing, his first preaching and his momentous encounter with King Ethelbert of Kent in 597AD. read more

Saturday, March 10, 2012

James MacMillan: The Future of Music, Modernity and the Sacred

This was our first venture into the Courtyard of the Gentiles.
We did our best to invite as many Brighton arty people as possible, it was very received in the audience were a few Buddhists, some Jews, quite few Christians from other churches and more than few atheists and agnostics.
What James had to say about music could well be applied  to the other arts, indeed to other disciplines too. He spoke about the stranglehold Boulez and co had over music and how atonality dominated continental music, there seemed such clear parallels with what had happened in theology and philosophy.
But listen to it the talk was just over 40 minutes, it is towards the end he speaks about religion and music.
The only problem I have is having invited James anyone else will be an anti-climax. In a way that will be the problem after the other speakers too: Aidan Nichols on the future of the Church in England, Mgr Keith Newton on the future of Ecumenism, Mgr Andrew Wadsworth on the future of the Liturgy and Fr Alexander Sherbrooke on the future of Ecumenism.

One nice thing was, Tessa, who is writing a dissertation on James' music. She came down from Nottingham just to hear him, it gave me enormous pleasure to not only introduce them but to invite her to dinner.

We had dinner for a dozen and at the end also had a little improvisation on my baroque racket.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

An American Response

One of my American friends, who is always too kind to me, the Blogerus Blogerorum, the redoubtably Fr Z himself, fisked my last post, he placed it within the context of his hometown of Minnesota, and added his own comment  with which I heartily agree. I am also rather touched by his compliments.
As I read that, I felt much like some American men felt as the Battle of Britain was heating up and who went to England to join the RAF’s Eagle Squadrons. My brother priests, my friends, are having a hard time of over there and I feel for them. Mind you, the fight has been joined in the USA as well and it is heating up very quickly. We here can learn from what they have been up to, or not up to, there.
Fr. Blake made a good distinction toward the end of his piece, which I want to spin out a bit.
Click and say a Daily OfferingTepid leadership, worship and instruction has over time produced Catholics who don’t know who they are and who, when introduced to something genuinely Catholic and clear (liturgical worship, basic catechism, moral preaching) become confused, disoriented, even hostile. In turn, Catholics have little to say in the public square concerning the great questions of our day. They have little to say or, what is worse, they actively take the wrong side.
We need a renewal of our Catholic identity. If we don’t know who we are as Catholics (this is the question considered from within the Church, ad intra) then we won’t have anything of value to contribute in the public square (ad extra), which is the point of Our Lord’s great commission to Holy Church and all her members.
I am convinced that to spark, support, and sustain an effort to revitalize our Catholic identity, we must have a revitalization of our liturgical worship. If we do not have solid, clear, dignified, faithful, transcendent liturgical worship, all our efforts, in regard to raising a new generation of Catholics in our Faith or recovering those who have fallen away or who were only slightly formed to begin with, will fail.
Fr. Blake gets this. A quick look at his blog will reveal what he has been up to in restoring his parish church and organizing events for the parish’s anniversary. Take a look at what he is going.

Was That It?

I published the Archbishops of Southwark and Westminster letter on the redefinition of Marriage without comment. I received the hardcopy of their letter the following day in the post. My secretary assured me it came without a covering letter, in my diocese no-one has said whether it should be read at all Masses or was simply sent for my personal information.

Some people have suggested it is too late and too weak. I’m not too sure about that, but certainly it is perhaps correct to ask whether the Church here really has the heart for a fight. In our effort to get out of the “Catholic ghetto” and to be regarded as “English” rather than an immigrant church, we have downplayed our Catholic identity, possibly to such a level that many Catholics have little understanding of anything distinct about our religion, or if they do they have rejected it.

The majority of Catholics, the official figure is 90%, despite (or in spite of) all the money and energy the Church invests in our schools, do not practice the faith. Neither could we ever dare suggest that Catholics are less likely to cohabit, divorce, abort or contracept, nor are the vast majority of Catholic parents more open to children, than their non-Catholic neighbours, the statistics do not show any difference.

In the latter half of the 20th century abortion and contraception have been issues that have troubled individuals but hardly seem to be a major concern in England and Wales. Co-habitation and divorce seem to be even less of a concern, everywhere these issues are left to a woolly “pastoral solution”, everything depends on the personal convictions of the individual priest.

After members of Catholic Voices have spun the Bishops 2003 statement on Civil Partnership, I am confused by what their Lordships intended to say, I used to think their teaching was clear but maybe not. Milo Mindbender and Co are the official unofficial keepers of the Catholic Voice in E&W but only seem to make the feint voice even more distant and give the real God appointed Voices of the Church a barricade to hide behind. I digress. Even so, anyone but a fool would have realised that the introduction of such partnerships would lead inevitably to the situation we now face. What we have failed to do is prepare our people for any battle over this issue.

I am not part of the dioceses of Southwark or Westminster and lacking any clear direction I will present this letter on Sunday but frankly I think my people are ill prepared to receive it and having received it, I am not sure what they are expected to do with it.

My anxiety is that this letter will be all. That there is no further plan. As an opening salvo it was good but what about the barrage to follow, will it? Or was that all?

It would be good to think that following its publication on Sunday the bishops and leading clergy will be on every television and radio station, that they will write their own letters to every and any newspaper that just might publish them, that they might even start to use modern technology. After years of fudge and drift it, which has not only left Catholics in ignorance and confused but has had an impact on wider society it is time that we had clear teaching on sex, on homosexuality, on marriage, on the duties and responsibilities of Catholic politicians, Catholic Institutions and above all the Clergy to uphold the Church’s teaching.

Fr Richard has a good post on the Public Dimensions of Marriage,
A priest friend emailed me to say I should also have received the following:

To all Parish Priests in England and Wales
01 March 2012
Dear Father
With the agreement of your own bishop, we address this letter to you.
Please find attached a letter from us, as President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference, to be read, and distributed if possible, in your parish over the weekend of 10/11 March. It concerns the Catholic teaching on marriage in the context of the forthcoming consultation by the Government to change the legal definition of marriage.
You will have noted the launch of the Coalition for Marriage, together with its online petition, in support of the present legal definition of marriage. We ask you to encourage your people to sign this petition.
When the Government’s consultation document has been published, it will be carefully studied and a leaflet prepared for distribution in your parishes to assist Catholics in making their own response to the consultation. This leaflet will come to you after Easter, which is time enough as we expect the consultation to run for three months.
We will be grateful if you found space in your newsletter for next weekend for these two points. Below is a standard paragraph which you might consider suitable.
We thank you for your cooperation realising only too well the shortness of this notice which has been determined by the expected publication of the Government’s consultation document.
Yours sincerely
Most Reverend V. Nichols Most Reverend P. Smith
President Vice-President

At Masses this weekend, we receive a Letter from Archbishops Vincent Nichols and Peter Smith on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. It is a statement of our Catholic faith about marriage and issued in the light of the forthcoming consultation by the Government on changing the legal definition of marriage. In the light of this letter, you are asked to consider signing the Coalition for Marriage’s online petition which can be found at It reads:
“I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.”
The Archbishops also say that after Easter there will be a more detailed leaflet on the Government’s consultation itself, for distribution in parishes, to assist Catholics in making their own response to the consultation.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Cardinal Canizares: Concelebration amongst priests is not part of Latin Tradition!!!

On Zenit, His Eminence Antonio Cardinal  Cañizares writing on Concelebrated Masses,says daily concelebrations of priests only, ... do[es] not form part of the Latin liturgical tradition.
He accepts the antiquity in the West of Concelebration but only with the bishop or his delegate.

Here is the whole paragraph:
In this sense, it is important to look, however briefly, into the history of concelebration. The historical panorama that Msgr. Derville offers us, even if it is —as he modestly points out— only a brief summary, is sufficient to let us glimpse areas of obscurity, that show the absence of clear data on Eucharistic celebration in the earliest times of the Church. At the same time, and without falling into a ingenuous “archaeologism”, it does provide us with enough information to be able to state that concelebration, in the genuine tradition of the Church, whether eastern or western, is an extraordinary, solemn and public rite, normally presided over by the Bishop or his delegate, surrounded by his presbyterium and by the entire community of the faithful. But the daily concelebrations of priests only, which are practised “privately”, so to speak, in the eastern Churches instead of Masses celebrated individually or “more privato”, do not form part of the Latin liturgical tradition.
Thanks Clever Boy
I agree concelebration needs a bishop, otherwise it gives the impression the Church is a headless; a sort of presbyterial democracy. I never know who should preside when it is just priests, do you do "eaney meany miny mo" or should it always be the Parish Priest, or the oldest priest, or longest ordained, or what?

Cui Bonum

Brendan O'Neill writes on gay marriage and asks who benefits. He says there is there is hardly a great groundswell of public opinion demanding it. It didn't appear in anyone's election manifesto, even amongst "Gay" activists it is hardly a burning issue, it has certainly not been a long standing demand. Instead it is a free gift from David Cameron, an assault by him on those of a "religious or redneck persuasion."

Full Text of Pastoral Letter:

The text of the Pastoral Letter on the redefinition of marriage by the Archbishops of Westminster & Southwark to be read in their diocese this weekend: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
This week the Coalition Government is expected to present its consultation paper on the proposed change in the legal definition of marriage so as to open the institution of marriage to same-sex partnerships.
Today we want to put before you the Catholic vision of marriage and the light it casts on the importance of marriage for our society.
The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility. This pattern is, of course, affirmed by many other religious traditions. Christian teaching fills out this pattern and reveals its deepest meaning, but neither the Church nor the State has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself.
Nor is this simply a matter of public opinion. Understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, and for the creation and upbringing of children, marriage is an expression of our fundamental humanity. Its status in law is the prudent fruit of experience, for the good of the spouses and the good of the family. In this way society esteems the married couple as the source and guardians of the next generation. As an institution marriage is at the foundation of our society.
There are many reasons why people get married. For most couples, there is an instinctive understanding that the stability of a marriage provides the best context for the flourishing of their relationship and for bringing up their children. Society recognises marriage as an important institution for these same reasons: to enhance stability in society and to respect and support parents in the crucial task of having children and bringing them up as well as possible.
The Church starts from this appreciation that marriage is a natural institution, and indeed the Church recognises civil marriage. The Catholic understanding of marriage, however, raises this to a new level. As the Catechism says: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, by its nature is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (para.1601)
These rather abstract words are reflected however imperfectly in the experience of married couples. We know that at the heart of a good marriage is a relationship of astonishing power and richness, for the couple, their children, their wider circle of friends and relations and society. As a Sacrament, this is a place where divine grace flows. Indeed, marriage is a sharing in the mystery of God’s own life: the unending and perfect flow of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We know, too, that just as God’s love is creative, so too the love of husband and wife is creative of new life. It is open, in its essence, to welcoming new life, ready to love and nurture that life to its fullness, not only here on earth but also into eternity.
This is a high and noble vision, for marriage is a high and noble vocation. It is not easily followed. But we are sure that Christ is at the heart of marriage, for his presence is a sure gift of the God who is Love, who wants nothing more than for the love of husband and wife to find its fulfilment. So the daily effort that marriage requires, the many ways in which family living breaks and reshapes us, is a sharing in the mission of Christ, that of making visible in the world the creative and forgiving love of God.
In these ways we understand marriage to be a call to holiness for a husband and wife, with children recognised and loved as the gift of God, with fidelity and permanence as the boundaries which create its sacred space. Marriage is also a crucial witness in our society, contributing to its stability, its capacity for compassion and forgiveness and its future, in a way that no other institution can.
In putting before you these thoughts about why marriage is so important, we also want to recognise the experience of those who have suffered the pain of bereavement or relationship breakdown and their contribution to the Church and society. Many provide a remarkable example of courage and fidelity. Many strive to make the best out of difficult and complex situations. We hope that they are always welcomed and helped to feel valued members of our parish communities.
The reasons given by our government for wanting to change the definition of marriage are those of equality and discrimination. But our present law does not discriminate unjustly when it requires both a man and a woman for marriage. It simply recognises and protects the distinctive nature of marriage.
Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now. The law helps to shape and form social and cultural values. A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.
We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations.
Most Reverend V. Nichols
Most Reverend P. Smith

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Arguement

We Saw His Glory

I was going to start a little, tongue in cheek, campaign to unite under one head the Bishops' Conferences of England and Wales with that of Scotland, with its offices in  Edinburgh, a not so subtle way of saving money and ensuring backbone was shared. I am not quite sure now, after listening to Cardinal O'Brien on the radio this morning, perhaps it was nervousness. There was nothing persuasive in what he said, others have already called it a rant. He rightly described the proposed change in the law as "madness", it would have been wise for him to have held the moral high ground and done his best to have appeared sane. At least there was no chance of it undergoing the process of some English cottage industry explaining to the ignorant uninformed what his Eminence really meant, it was characteristically in your face Glasgow Keith O'Brien.

We Christians are in the right but the rightness has to be carefully argued with those who are wrong. Haranguing people doesn't help. Remembering what we teach about marriage might be a start.
Marriage is both uniative and procreative, it is part of the Natural Law that the first: union, leads to the second: procreation. Natural Law is "natural" because it can be clearly demonstrated from empirical evidence and because it is reasonable. As Catholics we believe that human beings are rational and can for the most part be reasoned with.
Most of those who come to prepare for marriage, tend to have been living together for some time. When they decide to marry, it is that they want to provide the right environment for bringing up children. The vast majority of people want to marry and want children and want to bring them up in loving stable family. To be honest, they actually want that for other people and for society, even for those people whose same sex relationship is not intrinsically ordered to the procreation of children, they want something that comes close to this to it, because they sense it is good in itself, even those in a same sex relationship seem to recognise its goodness.

To inspire his disciples, to help them endure the Passion, the Lord allowed them see his Glory, he does not show them hell, on the contrary. Indeed the whole of the Gospels are an example of the showing forth of Glory, from the message of Angels, through healings and exorcisms and miracles, to the triumph of the Resurrection, even the Cross is given to us as Glorious Sacrifice, freely offered.
The Transfiguration is a vision of Christ's Divinity, the Resurrection, His Triumph, it is a Vision of Heaven, it is the other side of the Passion, it is the Reality of who Jesus Christ truly is.
In a world that seems to have lost hope, in which visions are drug induced nightmares we have a duty to offer a positive vision of the Divine.

It is honey versus vinegar.
In the inevitable debate about the nature of marriage we need to proclaim Glory of Christian marriage. Yes, in charity and with reason, we can point out the deficiencies of our opponents arguments but our understanding is more glorious, more rational, more of a reflection of true humanity, more liberating, more divine.
Those things done according to the Natural Law are destined by their nature to endure because they are intimately connect to life, those contrary to the Natural Law will wither and fail because they are about death.

The meaning of Words

It is a bit Orwellian, like 1984, or the nightmare of Alice in Wonderland, deeply disturbing story.
What I find deeply disturbing is the trend to develop a "Ministry of Words"; the government deciding words mean, or rather redefining them. Will we soon have government issued dictionaries?

Rightly does Cardinal O'Brien call it madness!

Now it seems that marriage can be whatever a Government decides it is, what word do we use to define that relationship between of two persons of the opposite sex (which seems pretty essential) that is ordered to providing a stable environment for the procreation of children and upbringing of children?
This is a serious question because in redefinition of marriage children are going to be removed from its meaning.

I mean, we might need to distinguish that from a relationship that is merely about expressing lifelong(?) commitment(?) in an exclusive(?) relationship between two(?) persons(?).

The other thing we have redefined it seems is abortion, now some bright sparks are talking about "post natal abortion", now that abortion has become acceptable. At one time it might have been plainly called murder or infanticide but I am rather in favour of "post natal abortion", I have list of journalists, politicians etc who having seen them after birth, well ......, it would be a kindness. Yet obviously the proposal is again directed against children. Is it that our society hates children?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Bus Blessing

The picture, now for the video, the music is not an in house production it is on the choir blog. It wasn't the nicest of days.
Does having a bus named after someone mean there is a cultus?

Saturday, March 03, 2012

And next for our 150th: James MacMillan

I told you God is good to us; James MacMillan in between writing major pieces for concert hall, opera house and the occasional Papal visit and writing a little something for the parish choir he runs is coming to speak here next Friday evening. I have a seat reserved, everyone else is on a first come, first seated basis, our Church isn't huge. Interestingly there seems to be a lot of interest in Brighton in his talk not just from Church choir people but from the other parts of the artistic community too.
It is our venture into the Court of the Gentiles.
Everyone knows this, it is glorious:

but I love this:

and this

and this piece written in honour of Our Lady for Fr Laurence Lew's ordination is delightful

but apart from him once telling me he looked at my blog, this is really the reason for inviting him: not so music but silence.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Locus Iste

Monday's choir
Bruckner's Locus Iste from Monday nights Mass click here, do listen it is beautiful.

Our music isn't always this good, on Monday we had a quartet of young professionals from Oxford and semi-professionals from Brighton - people who are generous enough to help us out.
Normally, like most parish choirs we are entirely dependant on the gifts God gives us. All God's gifts are welcome, however, it would be wonderful if everyone could read music, had good pitch and could sing in parts but it never quite works like that.
But isn't it wonderful that generally Catholic music is getting better.

Our usual choir
If you want to join our choir go here and make content.

Pugin Bi-Centenary Mass

Pugin's effigy on his tomb

I went to Ramsgate Abbey yesterday to celebrate the bi-centenary of Augustus Pugin's birth, again a very mixed congregation and again like me the Parish Priest Fr Marcus Holden decided the most "evangelical" rite that would have something to say to those with a deep and profound faith and those with little understanding of it was the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, here again they had quite exquisite music - almost as good our own 150th. Again, Meridian News put an extract on its news.

I actually got into Pugin's House, next door to the Abbey which was delightful and well worth a visit.
view of church and monastery from the roof of the tower of the Grange
The Abbey Church is looking pretty sad after years of neglect. According to Fr Marcus Pugin was brought into the church the day before he died and said repeatedly, "How beautiful, how beautiful", unfortunately it is not beautiful today, it will be, but repairing and restoring it is a huge task. It puts our own restoration project into perspective and money is slow in coming in. They need £30,000 to match an English Heritage grant pretty urgently, if you can help contact the Friends of St Augustine's. Fr Holden has extraordinary vision of establishing a worthy memorial to Pugin but also fulfilling a Puginesque vision of making the church into a shrine to St Augustine and the coming of Christianity to England, he is a very capable priest, do support him and this project.

In his sermon Fr Marcus said

You see, he did not create dead art or fossilised things to be admired merely as works of interest. This is really important. Everything had a living context. He was there to decorate function, in other words to make the working reality beautiful. The function was the living breathing Christian faith of a medieval variety, the decoration of it is all around you. Not only the stones, but the wood, the glass, the iron, the clay, the silver, the gold, the brass, all decorating and making beautiful the functions of divine worship. In fact worship was to give us a glimpse of heaven. Is it not for that reason that pointed architecture reaches heavenward. People have often asked me, if Pugin believed in function then why are churches so tall and with huge spires or towers, it seems like waste. But what if, what if, the function was to foster transcendence? Then it is absolutely fitting. If churches are to raise our minds and hearts to higher things then the function is there, and he decorates it. He once wrote about his roodscreens, but the same could be said of every item and detail he designed for his churches, ‘The mere inspection of them is nothing…It is when they become associated with the life of divine worship that they produce the full power and lift the soul in ecstasy’.

The sermon can be found here in its entirety, it is all pretty good, and well worth reading or reproducing.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Orthodox Bad Architecture

more pictures here
Interestingly, here is a Russian Orthodox church that might be destined to win a bad architecture award. It is to built in the shadow of the Eifel Tower on the Seine. It is a rather normal looking Russian church, complete with golden domes but it is linked to a Russian spiritual and cultural centre by a pretentious glass roof.
Paris Mayor Bernard Delanoe has described a Russian Orthodox church to be built along the River Seine as an example of “hodgepodge architecture” not worthy to be on display near the Eiffel Tower. Delanoe said the project – a gleaming white church with five traditional golden domes topped by an wavy glass roof linking it to a nearby Russian spiritual and cultural centre – was “mediocre architecture conceived in haste.”
The project, whose design was chosen in an international architectural competition, was agreed in 2010 by Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. Moscow has already purchased a plot of land for it on the left bank of the Seine, just across the river from the tunnel where Britain’s Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997.
“I want to express my very firm opposition to this project conceived by the French and Russian states without the agreement of the city of Paris,” Delanoe said in a statement this week. “I would like UNESCO, the guardian of the banks of the Seine, to get involved so no permission can be given without the endorsement of international experts,” he said.

Fr Tim's 150th Anniversary Sermon

Fr Tim, the preacher at our 150th Anniversary celebration Mass has put up his excellent sermon on his blog.

There is one disagreement I have with him or rather Archbishop Chaput, who said:
Heinrich Himmler, the chief of Adolph Hitler’s security services during the Nazi era in Germany, once threatened the Archbishop of Berlin, Cardinal Konrad Graf, with plans to crush the Catholic Church. Cardinal Graf listened politely and then responded: "Well, good luck. We’ve been trying to do that for 2,000 years, and [the Church is] still here."
I have been telling people for years it was Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, Pius VII's clever and witty Secretary of State, who when Napoleon threatened to crush the Church, said, "But Imperial Majesty we clergy have been trying to do that for years!"
I would hate to disagree with people as learned as Fr Tim and Archbishop Chaput; maybe it is case of history repeating itself and both said it, perhaps Cardinal Graf knew of Consalvi's remark.

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...