Friday, June 29, 2012

Music for St Peter and Paul: change at the Vatican

How things have changed!
When the Americans invaded Panama and President Noriega fled his palace and sought the protection of the Apostolic Nunciature rather than invade Sovereign Vatican territory the American invaders set up huge "ghetto blasters" and bombarded the embassy with extraordinary loud pop music. Apparently it took the personal intervention of Pope John Paul II with the US President to stop the American aggression. Some Roman wags suggested that the Pope had to threaten to send the Sistine choir round to sing outside American Embassy, so ghastly were the choir. Under Benedict and Mgr Marini the choir have got a lot better. Today they were augmented by the choir of Westminster Abbey, its quite beautiful; but is that slightly grating sound in the background the home team?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I had the rabbit

I couldn't get to Fr Hunwicke's Ordination last night, at the Oxford Oratory, I heard it was very beautiful, there a few pictures here. I also heard the celebrant preached against the wickedness of "rubricism"; a little unfortunate as following them with a degree of precision is the great charism of our English Oratories.

Today however I actually met Fr Hunwicke, at the London Oratory, where he celebrated his first Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Lady Altar. We have corresponded for some time and have friends in common and I have felt something of his pain at not being able to celebrate Mass. I recognise in him a truly priestly soul. The Mass was beautiful, it was low, no sermon, some rather exquisite vestments, over and done in 35 minutes. There were about 50 in the congregation including Supertrad Mum, who I met but didn't get chance to talk to.

Mass was served by Br Martin  from Papa Stronsay, and Fr Michael Mary was also in attendance doing a little photographing, there should be some pictures on their blog soon.
It was the first time I met any of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and despite Fr Michael Mary saying he  thought I must be in my eighties, apparently the picture on side bar doesn't do me favours! I liked him very much indeed, in fact both of them were very impressive, there seemed to be very healthy father/son relationship, a real sense of mutual respect, with a gentle sense of humour between the two, always a healthy sign in religious community. I have heard such good reports about them lately, it was good to see it for myself.

After Mass we had lunch together, I had rabbit, Fr H a marmite of fish, Br M quail and Fr M steak. I know it was Vigil in most places but in Westminster it was the Feast of St John Southwell and of course for us a celebration of a first Mass. We did debate the decency of posting pictures of our food on our blogs and decided it was a bit foreign fad.

But it was a lovely lunch, a great deal of laughter, a little talk about whether SSPX will be reconciled, the mad Bishop of Bux, a little Gregory Dix from Fr H, lots of stories of "patrimony". One of the important things I have always said about the Ordinariate which I think cradle Catholics just don't get is its humour which Fr Hunwicke supplied in heaps. Again, what I was impressed by was that the Sons were so positive about the long process of the reconciliation they are still going through, which will be completed when they are canonically erect as a religious institute and also about those who have actually been their detractors, who they have left behind.

It was a really beautiful celebration for the eve of St Peter and Paul; Fr Hunwicke in communion with the Church and now a happily a priest of the Catholic Church and Br Martin and Fr Michael Mary in communion with Peter and joyfully hoping for the canonical erection of Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and trusting in the goodness of Bishop Hugh Gilbert.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Arthur, Di Noia, Fellay and Williamson

Interestingly in Rome the news about the now Archbishop, Arthur Roche becoming Secretary at the CDW is not that significant. Though possibly it ought to be, having successfully presided over the introduction of the new Missal translation for the whole of the English speaking world his expertise will be invaluable in preparation for similar work on the revision of other major language groups liturgical such as Portuguese and Spanish. There have been rumours of this appointment for the last couple of years.
But real the news is the move of Archbishop Augustine Di Noia to Vice President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which is of course now part of the CDF. Di Noia is a can-do American clear thinking theologian, with an ability to cut to the chase. In parallel there are the equally interesting moves in the SSPX, the very public rebuke and dismissal from leadership functions "for repeated disobedience" of Bishop Williamson, the refusal of ordination for religious orders that might split from the SSPX if re-union was sought. It is bit Byzantine but it is all in preparation for their General Chapter next week from which Williamson is banned. At the same time Bishop Fellay is emphasising that no decision has yet been made, indeed that re-union is still open question, however it seems both the Pope and Fellay want it but Bishop Fellay has to demonstrate the cost of dissidence. The rest of us are left to pray. Archbishop Roche was quite famous as an ice-skater in his youth it seems as everyone is skating on rather slippery ice at the moment.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fr Alexander Sherbrooke Live at St Mary Magdalen


Tomorrow at 7.30pm we have last of our 150th Anniversary speakers: Fr Alexander Sherbrooke who will talk about the Future of Evangelisation, which is really about the future of the Church. Fr Alexander is of course the founder of the Soho School of Evangelism and parish priest of the St Patrick's, Soho Square.

Vocations: thoughts

I am a bit anxious about our parish's liturgical future, we are loosing our Master of Ceremonies, he believes God is calling him to the religious life, I do too, or at least to be more accurate I believe that he is called to offer himself, because ultimately the Church will do the calling. Vocation is ultimately the objective call of the Church not the subjective opinion of the individual. Another of our servers, a university student studying here has already gone to off to the continent to do the same thing along with his younger brother. Pray for all three.

I am not sure how much influence I have had, not much I suspect but maybe they were suddenly struck by the thought, as I was during a particularly dull and painful Good Friday Liturgy and sermon, "If God can call this man as a source of Grace, he might just be able to use me to do the same." Good priests attract vocations but so, thank God, do the mediocre.

In both cases the young men concerned have been attracted more by the old rite than the new. Both were more than capable of guiding me and our servers through a High Mass; unless God in his wonderous providence sends us a new Master of Ceremonies we are going to be a bit stuck but if he wants it, he will do something about it.

Talking to a lay friend involved in seminary selection in one of the Metropolitan dioceses, he said he estimated half those of those who now apply to a seminary have had some involvement with the Traditional Mass. It would perhaps not be too much to speculate that those diocese who have a policy antagonistic towards the Traditional Mass are missing out on possible vocations. I heard of one ordinand recently who had his ordination delayed because of his interest in the Traditional Rites. In many parishes in the not too distant future Bishops will be faced with the problem of finding any priest to say any Mass.

The interesting thing is that seminaries which are the most antagonistic to "Tradition" seem to produce priests who within a few years of ordination are celebrating the Traditional Mass. The situation is made a bit difficult for them in that few seminaries actually teach Latin, despite what comes from Rome. Someone recently suggested that diocese were the bishop is less likely even to attend a Traditional Mass is likely to have more celebrating it. This could just be a bit of clerical contra agere, but without evidence one can't merely dismiss it as such.

For young men serving the Traditional Mass there is a cost; it involves study and practice, it also involves taking on a particular spirituality and making sense of the theology of the Mass, it involves an enculturation and a sense of thinking with the Church, and ultimately, I hope, discipleship. It certainly provides the framework for discipleship; silence that leads either to boredom or to prayer. In similar way the uncompromising nature of the rubrics demands obedience, which either leads to a stunting rubricism or to liberating abandonment of one's own will to the will of God.

As a footnote: Fr de Malleray of the FSSP is offering a vocations discernment weekend in July.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hunwicke Events

Fr John Hunwicke
I am sure by now you have seen this elsewhere
Please come ... if you are able ... to the event mentioned in the previous post, in Oxford this coming Wednesday, June 27. [the ordination of Fr John Hunwicke]

I ALSO ANNOUNCE that, Deo volente, I plan to celebrate

First Mass in the Extraordinary Form; London at the Brompton Oratory.
Low Mass, Thursday June 28, 11.30; by kind permission of the Provost.

First Mass in the Ordinary Form; Oxford in the Church of the Holy Rood.
Solemn Vigil Mass of Sunday, Saturday June 30, 6.00, by kind permission of Fr Paul King and Mgr Andrew Burnham. I plan also to preach.
I am sure JH will appreciate prayers and remembrance at Mass over the next few days.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

John the Baptist is a Priest

Zachariah goes up to the altar of incense to offer incense, the Angel of the Lord, Gabriel, appears, and tells him his wife will bear him a son, who will call John, he disbelieves and in struck dumb. Unlike the majority of the Temple's priest Zachariah is "righteous".

He remains dumb until after John's birth, Elizabeth names him and Zachariah writes his agreement, the peoples amazement is twofold. Remember he is a priest, and so therefore is the infant John. The first reason for amazement is Zachariah's speech returns, and immediately he pronounces the blessing he should have done in the Temple after burning incense, he does so by announcing the Benedictus:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of His people:
And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant:
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning:
Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us:
To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy testament,
The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us,
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear,
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:
To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins:
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us:
To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.
This should be a second reason for the peoples amazement, these words of his prophecy but they aren't reason is simply that Zachariah calls him John, a name unknown in his family.

So what is so amazing? As a priest Zachariah was landless, numbered along with widows and orphans, at a time when not everyone believed in the Resurrection, one lived for as long as memory of you was kept alive, it was kept alive in the land and in one's sons and sons keeping your name alive. Priests were landless, their name was not kept alive by association with a well or a field or winepress, but by their sons inheriting their name, hence the shock that John was not going to keep anyone's memory alive. John's naming is a sign of something new, a break from the past.
The landless priest dwells in the desert, again a sign that here is a priest who takes his ministery seriously. Priests were expected to be celibate when ministering in the Temple John's loins are girt with his belt, some have suggested he had a relationship to the Essenes who practiced both baptism and perpetual celibacy. He lives on the sweetness of wild honey, it is "wild" not cultivated, it is supplied by divine providence.
This priest divides, he separates the just from the unjust, the clean from the unclean. This seems to be real role for Jewish priests; the priest inspects people for leprosy, judge whether an animal is fit for sacrifice. The priest was expected one who discerns between that which is pleasing to God and that which is not.
He makes two important priestly acts of discernment: first, identifying what is good, that Jesus is the acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God, "Behold the Lamb of God...". Secondly identifying what is bad, this brings about his death; he condemns the incestuous relationship between Herod and Herodias. Priests were expected to be prophetic but had been compromised since the time of the Maccabees.
The Temple priests seem happy to gossip but John denounces clearly and without comprise identifying the good and holy and denouncing the impure and unholy.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Moore and Fisher: Two Thought Criminals

How interesting that the point of conflict between Henry and Sts John and Thomas was "marriage". In reality both John and Thomas understood that the King wanted to usurp the place of God, practically speaking the issue was that Henry wanted to take control of men's consciences.

In the case of Thomas especially his crime was a "thought crime", daring to think differently from the King and the government. St Thomas had deliberately kept silent on the matter whilst St John had quite simply said that what the King intended to call "marriage" to Ann Boleyn was in reality "adultery". Henry used the Law and the death penalty to force men to think his adultery was "marriage", he made "obedience to conscience" mean "treachery". By the Law sin was made virtue and virtue vice.

We see again, in our own age, governments wanting to take control of consciences, governments taking control of language, changing fundamental words. As in the days of Moore and Fisher the issue is still about the definition of  "marriage".

There will be no way to define any longer what we had previously understood by that word "marriage", the redefinition will colour and redefine our whole culture, our appreciation of history, our understanding of human relationships, our education.

Both the UK and the US the government is using all its muscle not just to change society but how we think and understand ourselves. We stand on the brink of something truly frightening, truly sinister. Having started where will it end?

Here is a little extract from Orwell's 1984:

'Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,' he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. 'Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?' 'Except-' began Winston doubtfully, and he stopped. It had been on the tip of his tongue to say 'Except the proles,' but he checked himself, not feeling fully certain that this remark was not in some way unorthodox. Syme, however, had divined what he was about to say. 'The proles are not human beings,' he said carelessly. 'By 2050 earlier, probably -- all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron -- they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.'

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Pope in St Mary Mead

Chatting to an Italian journalist friend about Vatileaks recently, he's a fan of Agatha Christie, he said, "You have to remember that the Vatican is a bit like St Mary Mead. It is a small village where everyone is observing everyone else and gossiping, where big things happen occasionally, like a death, but mostly it is small things and what they mean that fascinate everyone".

His take on the opposition to Cardinal Bertone, "Well, I would look to the  supporters of the previous Captain of the Bowls Club's, they still have the keys to the changing room, they still run the bar and responsible for the away fixtures".

"You have to think about why things are happening now, the Pope is growing old, his voice grows weaker, he needs help getting into St Peter's, he might go on to a hundred with the same sharpness of mind but then he might not. Just like St Mary Mead the permanent obsession is who will run the village committee. What the leaks are about in part is pointing out the committee itself is need of reform of someone who might reform it. Until Vatileaks I would have said that it was unlikely we would have another European, let alone another Italian Pope, now maybe the thought is only an Italian can reform the Curia".

"I think also some of the moves the Pope has made are unpopular amongst Italian members of the Curia, look at the state of liturgy in Rome itself, in the churches around the Vatican, where many of the curial officials celebrate Mass and have friends, they are content with what happened under John Paul, they are conservative, they don't understand the need for change.

"Their reading of Vatican II is hardly revolutionary but it is not within the "hermeneutic continuity", like the village committee that has developed its own way of interpreting the rule book and objects to the possibility of  someone from the Council insisting they actually read the book; for many of them the Pope himself issuing a Motu Proprio in November 2010 on the Vatican Bank and financial transparency and then the Pope himself consenting to the sacking Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was like getting the auditors in to look the village account books.

"Another factor is the possible  reconciliation of the Lefebvrists, again that is an irrefutable sign that the "hermeneutic of continuity" is here to stay and Vatican II can only be interpreted in a particular way rather than according to the custom of particular dicastery. That is why there is turmoil in Santa Maria di Mede."

My apologies to Giovanni if I have misquoted him in my paraphrase.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Evangelisation

The Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith is online here. The Synod takes place in October.
I have to admit that I have been a little confused about the nature of the "newness" of the "New Evangelisation", old evangelisation seems to be doing what we have always done, at least for the last generation and it is pretty apparent it just hasn't worked. Society has lost faith, the Christianity has been side lined, the Church herself has been secularised and the clarity of her message, which is the person of Jesus Christ, has been obscured.
In many ways it is not unrelated to the old Ratzingerian bone, the nature of participatio actuoso, how to get people to actually engage with Christ on a deep level. The Christian vocation as Pope Benedict repeated tells children and young people is to "become saints", or as he tells everyone, it is "to seek the face of Christ", to live in communion with the Blessed Trinity, in short he is talking about theosis.
The "newness" certainly seems to use new technology to teach and to share faith and to confront current issues within today's society like the rise of organised atheism but it is also about being open to new movements that radically challenge us in our complacency.
Fr Tim tells us that the Nuncio is attending both the Evangelium and Faith Conference Conferences this summer, as he says a few people might suggest we need more bishops like the Mark Davies, that is important but so is His Excellency's highlighting these two events which should be significant in the "New Evangelisation" of our country. There are lots of good things just under the horizon, most are to do with new communities. I hear one British bishop is keen on getting some of those of young American Dominican nuns into his diocese, the Community of St John is discerning whether to make a foundation in the Britain. The prejudice against traditional communities is dying down, so many of them are radical, I suspect they will have an effect in our country. It is interesting that those windswept quiet men of the North are making their presence increasingly felt.
I am becoming convinced that in a society overwhelmed with and untrusting of words we need to turn to St Francis who said, "Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel, and if you must, [really, really must] use words". As important as "right teaching", orthodoxy, is, converts are made by being challenged by being invited into "right living", orthopraxis, seeing the faith properly lived out. Just as Europe was converted by a few radically holy men and women in the dark ages, so at the heart of the New Evangelism will be our new communities. Orthodoxy is often so confusing, orthopraxy might appear hard but it has its own beauty and attraction, and ultimately leads to happiness and beatitude. "How good it is when brothers dwell in unity".

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Few thoughts on Eucharistic Prayers

A load of old rubbish gets talked about the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer. Joe Shaw wrote about it recently, far from being ancient it was the construction of Annibale Bugnini. The truth is we don't know whether it was a "Eucharistic Prayer" or a liturgical text at all, or if was actually Catholic or belonged to an heretical sect, it probably wasn't by Hyppolytus the martyred (anti-pope). When I was at the seminary we were told it was ancient and Roman. Joe quotes Mgr Bugnini who himself says it is really a 1960s invention with ancient borrowings, with the addition of a Sanctus (if it is used it should be used with its Preface - otherwise it doesn't make much sense) and the words of consecration. It is useful for Masses with primary school children and I like the reference to the Holy Spirit coming like dew that is brought out in the new translations - rather than a roaring wind, or fire.

However the authentic Roman experience is gained from the Roman Canon, it is this which witnesses to the ancient Catholic faith. Its antiquity is demonstrated by its rather foreshortened Trinitarian theology - presumably from the time before the early Trinitarian Councils had been absorbed by the Church. It has certainly been tampered with; the addition of the epiclesis, for example, which incidentally was moved by Bugnini . Without the invocation of the Holy Spirit that is in the Extraordinary Form Offertory Prayers, it is open to the charge of tending towards the slightly heretical.

I love it because just meditating on it is an archaeological dig into the theology of the Roman Church of the first quarter of the first millennium. That clunky precision about who is doing the offering and who it is offered for, which was scratched out of the old vernacular translation. What it shows so clearly is how the Roman Church was dominated by the memory of the saints, the twenty-four that are commemorated reflect how authentic Catholicism is about the cherishing of their memory who in every age and state of life witness to the sacrifice of Christ, making up in their own bodies whatever is lacking in the sacrifice of Christ (Colossians 1:24). Without the saints it seems Catholicism is stripped of authenticity. This is perhaps a major deficiency of the other Eucharistic Prayers. It would be too drastic to suggest that they are not an authentic expression of the faith believed always and everywhere by Catholics but as the Prefect of the CDF has recently suggested concelebration, at least by priests without a presiding bishop, is not an authentic part of our Tradition can we not say this about the other Eucharist Prayers?

Just being controversial, tomorrow I will probably us No 3.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dublin Eucharistic Congress

I have been rather busy lately consequently I haven't seen or read much about the Dublin Eucharistic Congress, I would be very interested to hear from those who attended, or those who can give links to good "catechesis".
These are some images from Google, some are more impressive than others. 
What I find a little concerning is that the "Benedictine arrangement" has not reached Dublin yet and the rather relaxed attitudes of the clergy, there seems to be a bit of a 1970s feel to it all but maybe that is just the images that come up on Google. What I found impressive were the pictures of so many elderly people out in the "soft" weather.

Bishop Juan Pedro Ju rez Mel ndez  takes a photo during the opening liturgy of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress at the RDS, Dublin.

Papal Legate Cardinal  Marc Ouellet  pictured with the Cardinals and Archbishops  during the  opening ceremony at  the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.





Dom Mark Kirby on Exposition

Dom Mark Kirby says I have inspired him, he says what I had tried to say but much much more eloquently, Read it here

The Message to the Dublin Eucharistic Conference

He has interesting things on the Sacred Liturgy and the interpretation of Vatican but I presume what he has to say abuse, which is what the Irish media will focus on, will do little to placate secular Ireland's rage, but then what will?
The full text is here

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I am not in favour of frequent Exposition

Sitting on our benches, or kneeling on our kneelers is a truly purgatorial experience, they really are uncomfortable even so many of our parishioners spent not only the night but many hours during the day in the Lord's presence. The faith of my people builds up and sharpens my own faith, in the same way as sometimes their faithlessness dulls or blunts my own. We need the example of one another, it builds us up and gives us courage.

Normally we can't afford flowers but a disabled lady living on a state pension and nothing else gave a hundred pounds for them and another hundred towards candles. We also sold candles at £2 apiece for the last month and encouraged people to put small labels on them for people's intentions, it helped to build up a sense that something was happening, they formed a wall of light raked on the gradine and the of profit on them paid in large part for the candles, on the altar.

I was I am truly edified by the faith and beauty of what we did, for the most part we allowed God to speak in silence.

That being said I am not in favour of the current trend for frequent Exposition, it seems to encourage a type of receptionism and undermine the fact that Lord is truly present and able to be adored when reserved in the tabernacle. I think there is a real danger in promoting a piety that says that he can only be adored or treated with reverence when he is exposed in the monstrance. In part I suspect this is result of the confusion after the Council about reservation in a side chapel. In many places diocesan bishops demanded the removal of the Blessed Sacrament to a side chapel, with the consequence that many even the basics of Eucharistic piety were not only lost but undermined.

Exposition and Benediction were traditionally high points, always involving putting out more candles, having servers, using incense, a priest wearing cope and for Benediction a humeral veil. The modern directory on Eucharistic Devotion  seems to down play all these, having no more candles than at Mass, for example, and often the exposing and reposing is done by an extra-ordinary minister of Holy Communion, with no priest present, and even if one is present it is often done without Benediction. The problem is making something which should be done with as much solemnity as possible worker-day and prosaic.
I do appreciate the intentions of those who try to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament but starting with Exposition rather than the reception of Holy Communion and reverence to the reserved Blessed Sacrament seems to me a dangerous mistake.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blessed be God!

There are not many English parish priests who will find at 4.30 in the morning fourteen people at prayer in his church. I really am very pleased with how well 40 Hours is going. The Lord calls his own, and his own seek him out.
I am pleased with how well the Liturgy of the Hours has been going. We have sung it, those who have been present when we have done it, although they are quite unfamiliar with it, have joined in, not untunefully. It is surprising how few resources for the Ordinary Form Office are actually available in the vernacular.
More pictures here

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Forty Hours

From eight this morning until midnight on Friday we are holding Forty Hours in solidarity with the Dublin Eucharistic Congress.

We really are praying in the heart of the city. I have been impressed by the number of people who have signed up to watch, some have given up a day's work either to come and celebrate the Liturgy of the hours or to watch and pray at odd hours. As one of my parishioners who has signed up to watch through the night said, "God has been so generous to me, how could I not be generous to him".

It is the first time we have done it in any of the Brighton and Hove deanery parishes for forty years. It is bit low key, only one pressed server at the opening Mass this morning, the Office will probably be sung by me and choir mistress but God will provide.
There are more pictures here

Where Peter is there is the Church and there is God.

I pray for the full re-integration of the SSPX. I was pleased that Bishop Fellay had a two and a half hour meeting with Cardinal Levada yesterday and seems to have been sent off to reconsider what the SSPX phrase "the errors of the Council". I really do think that the Church needs the SSPX but I believe the SSPX needs the Church more.
I have a simple Englishman's faith, that goes along with King Oswiu at the Synod of Whitby, who asked the Celtic bishops, "When I die, who will open to me the gates of heaven, will it be Columba or will it be Peter? The Celtic bishops of course had to answer that it would be Peter, and became Catholic. The same question has to be put to the SSPX bishops, union with Peter is not about anything less than salvation itself.
Yes, of course God can choose to save us outside of visible Communion with the Pope but as Catholics we know that full and visible Communion is God's plan and desire.
Rorate carries an interview with Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais which I find shocking in its arrogance and presumption and in its recklessness towards the salvation of souls. I have no doubt that Archbishop Lefebvre chose the four bishops he consecrated, not to lead the SSPX but to dispense that sacraments. In this interview one can see why, and why the Holy See intends to deal with the bishops individually.
As much as one desires the communion of all humanity to the Church one has to accept that for some this will never be.

The union of Christians cannot be fostered otherwise than by promoting the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ, which in the past they so unfortunately abandoned; return, we say to the one true Church of Christ which is plainly visible to all and which by the will of her Founder forever remains what He Himself destined her to be for the common salvation of men. ...No one is in the Church of Christ, and no one remains in it, unless he acknowledges and accepts with obedience the authority and power of Peter and his legitimate successors... Therefore, to this apostolic See, founded in the City which Peter and Paul, the Princes of the apostles, consecrated with their blood, to this See which is the `root and matrix of the Catholic Church', may our dissidentsons return; let them do so, not with the thought and hope that `the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth', willsacrifice the integrity of the faith, but, on the contrary, with the intention ofsubmitting to her authority and government..."      Pope Pius XI: 1927 Encyclical Letter Mortalium animos
Ultimately the issue isn't about the teaching of Vatican II, it is about communion with Peter: ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia, ibi Deus, (where Peter is there is the Church and there is God). For some members of the SSPX there is mystical Church, a spiritual Rome that only the pure and elect can see, that is not what God has given us but a messy,  fish smelling, sweaty crewed barque of Peter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brothers and Sister

We are preparing for 40 Hours, beginning with Mass on Thursday at 8am and ending with Benediction on Friday at Midnight.
In Milan the Pope spoke about the place of the divorced and remarried and their place in the Church. I want to draw attention to the heroic role of those who live as "brother and sister", sharing a life together and yet refraining from sexual intercourse. Today, when the assumption is everyone is "at it" it is more difficult for them than in a less sexualised society these and those who come to Mass week by week and yet have remarried outside the Church and are unable to receive Holy Communion are so often living an heroic life. In spite of human weakness, and their inability to personally uphold the Lord's teaching about divorce and remarriage,  in their own way the uphold his teaching.
The post-Concilliar Rites of Christian Inititation for Adults seems to envision a broader concept of what it means to be a Catholic, there are those in  "full communion" but there also those who aspire to communion, like  Catechumens, those whose lifestyle and desire makes them candidates for baptism and therefore Communion but then there are also those who are "enquirers" or "auditors", those who like the rich young man of the Gospels are genuinely interested but who cannot "go and sell everything you have and follow me", even so we are reminded, the Lord "looked at him and loved him".
After the "Donatist crisis" it is estimated that the vast majority of "Christians" in North Africa were not in "full communion" with the Church, either because they were not yet initiated or because having been initiated they had given in during the persecution. In Hyppo some authors suggest that it would have been as high as 80%. If we have RCIA it should follow that we some formal structure for penitents, for those who for various reasons are unable to be full, communicating members of the Church.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Fr Aidan Nichols: The Future of the Church in England

Here is Fr Aidan's talk on the Future of the Church in England, which he gave here recently.
He sets the future of the Church in Europe in the context of theosis or divinisation, he has many interesting things to say about "Catholic" schools and the Tablet and quite a few other things.

He has the wonderful gift of putting complex ideas into concrete and practical forms.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Theology: the triumph of orthodoxy

I  am not sure how much use the scripture and theology I learnt in the seminary thirty years ago is in either my pastoral work, preaching or celebration of the sacraments.

I remember being criticised for quoting, occasionally, a certain German theologian and it being suggested that whilst it was alright keeping Kung, Schillebeeckx and Curran on my bookshelves, they were actually supplied "ad usum" by the seminary, that it might be better not to display quite so prominently this theologian's work. That theologian is now Pope and the priest who gave me the warning is now married, and I think, divorced.
Many priests of my generation are really autodidacts. Not all, but much of what was presented was dissenting, younger clergy who came to teach had earned whatever qualification they had in the maelstrom that followed Vatican II, and often their qualifications were pretty light; a simple first degree or STL, sometimes in a subject only loosely connected with what they taught. Few were pastorally minded priests, some were priests who were having difficulties.
 I gave up on official clergy in service training courses after a tedious three days with a prominent scripture scholar who spent that time "proving" the fabrication of various creedal statements, like the Resurrection. The real problem was that no-one really understood the purpose of theology or scripture.
The situation is quite different I understand, now, at least in our three surviving English Seminaries but the recent CDF condemnation of Sister Margaret Farley's Just Loving and the response by the the leadership of the 1,500 member Catholic Theological Society of America show that in the Church at large there is still a serious problem with the role of theology and theologians. The expectations of "academic", albeit Catholic theologians even on the level of "popular theology" in the newspapers like the Catholic Times or Ma P's Journal, the Pope's words to our Bishops, "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", are not taken entirely seriously.
I discussed this with one of our bishops recently, he said there were two ways of dealing with the matter: negatively with blanket condemnations, the quick solution or positively, slowly by raising the standard of the arguments for orthodoxy. "Orthodoxy", he said, "would triumph, because it is True", I think this is really the Pope's position.
Last week we had Fr Aidan Nichols giving a talk here: The Future of the Church in England, the video I hope will be soon, his latest work is Chalice of God is pretty exciting, he describes it as a manifesto for a systematic theology, it is that but it is also a statement of personal belief by a serious theologian who takes into account East and West, and does what Vatican II demands: a return to the Scripture and the Fathers.
It is so exciting when theologians can say "I accept the Magisterium", "I believe the Pope is the successor of Peter"!

Good Idea: send a postcard

I like this, some German Catholics have started a campaign in the light of Vatileaks of sending the Pope a postcard, just saying, "We are with you!"
It was rumoured that under the previous Secretary of State certain low ranking Monsignori on the various language desks in the postal department of the Holy See would simply bin or fail to forward any unfavourable correspondence sent either to the Pope or Vatican department. It gave enormous power of control to men who were really filing-clerks.
It meant if you complained about a Nuncio, for example, or made a recommendation about who would be an effective bishop and it wasn't to the opener of the letter's taste, it never got through.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Word Given

I am not a raging Monarchist but I think the Queen is a good thing. She's a bit of a mystery, we know her through the reports of other people. For the most part she herself keeps silent, happier to wave than to speak. When she does speak her words are heavily scripted but here are some of her own words, made on her 21st birthday:
I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.
What fascinates me is that Monarchy, which is, let us not pretend, feudal, it is fundamentally about a "word given" and promises made it is a contradiction of democracy and comes from an entirely different mindset. Feudal society was essentially contractual, based on giving promises, on giving one's word and keeping it come what may.

A French friend used to tell a story about a very English couple in bed together. She finishes a romantic novel, closes it and after a moments thought says, "Cyril, I can't remember the last time you told me that you loved me".
He replied, "Audrey, I told you 45 years ago, on the night we became engaged that I loved you. If I changed my mind I would have let you!".
For my friend it illustrated the lack of communication often present in English love affairs, maybe; but it also illustrates something deeper, "a word given" and not taken back.

My mother was dying, a long tedious process over a couple of years, brought about by hospital infections in a broken leg and dementia, aggravated by poor nursing. Practically everyday my father would drive across town to see her, they were both in their eighties. When he lost confidence in his driving, he would take a bus, a journey of about an hour each way. In the latter stages of her illness she didn't know him, and finally didn't respond to him. They weren't a demonstrative couple, my father less so than than my mother, I suggested he ought to visit a little less, perhaps every other day, his response was simply, "I promised ....".

The promise, the giving of the word, that is binding and not taken back, is the basis of the marriage covenant, the relationship, the covenant marriage between a Sovereign and her people, a bishop and his Church, a religious and his/her superior, a Christian and Christ. Obviously it is rooted for Christians in the Logos, "the Word given", God giving His Son eternally. It is something beyond "romantic love", it raises "duty" and the obligations implied by "duty" to sacred obligation, it raises us above the "hired man" who flees, to martyrs and saints, and faithful servants willing to sacrifice themselves for Christ.

Romantic love is delightful but when one's seven year old handicapped daughter smears the house with excrement, or your sixteen year old son tells you you are the "worst parent in the world" or your wife greets you with a spew of swear words, or your husband is apparently brain-dead, or your country needs you to go to war, or the music is ghastly at Mass, or for that matter your countrymen and co-religionists turn against you would crucify you, it is simply not enough. Neither is it enough when depression robs you of feelings or having fallen into love you fall out of it.
Then duty, then the promise, then the "word given" endures.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Now is the time to gather with Peter

Vatileaks has one purpose, it is to damage the Pope, to destroy his effectiveness, to sew mistrust in his judgement, to isolate him, to cause him personal distress.
I can't help but compare the present situation with the rumours that surrounded the death of Pope John Paul I, where apparently Vatican officials overwhelmed him with work. With the revelations that have emerged over this weekend, a similar pattern is emerging, where the only "leak proof" means of working seems to be face to face communication which will place enormous pressure on the Pope.

Hunwicke News

An Ordination date is announced here.

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...