Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ohio Nuns on Contraception

A group of Ohio sisters have produced a video on Contraception
The video also tells viewers:
  • Possible side effects of the pill include irritability, depression, blood clots, high blood pressure and migraines.
  • The pill works by preventing fertilization. If that fails, it prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.
  • More than half of women getting abortions say they used contraception in the month they became pregnant.
  • The overpopulation problem is a myth, and contraception puts the human race at risk of extinction.
  • Christians of all denominations condemned contraception as sinful until 1930. Martin Luther, John Calvin and Pope John Paul II all opposed the practice.

St Michael: the Cosmic Battle

Belief in Angels is a supernatural gift, in a way the depth of our belief in Angels is a barometer of our spiritual health. There is temptation to believe only in what we can see, or at best imagine, as we can imagine evil more easily than good, it is no wonder many seem more aware of that than the power of good.

Angels are beyond our imagining, they point us to world that is other, to a reality that is spiritual. These creatures that are Spirit and Intelligence call us to contemplate a world that is ours by Grace but not by Nature. They whisper to the Church and its people to go beyond its comfort zone, they remind us that the mysteries we celebrate take us to another place and they remind us too that the real existence of man is a  in the world of Spirits.

This feast tells of the extraordinary mystery of cosmic battle between Satan - the Opposer and Michael -Who is like unto God. It is the battle in which we are involved, on one side or the other. It is a battle that takes place within us too, every thought, every action, every word is blow for one side or the other, ultimately it will decide our fate. This is a battle begun at the beginning of time and will end when all is al in Christ at the consummation of the ages.

Michael -Who is like unto God is the power of God himself, he is not because Christ himself has already defeat the forces of Satan and left him powerless and is himself victorious, and yet the battle continues until salvation is announced to every creature under heaven. The Archangels have names we know, the angels names are known to God alone but we know they are called "Angel" which means Messenger or Announcer or Herald this is their role, to announce Christ's victory to the Just so they might rejoice in Christ's Triumph and to the Spirits of evil that they might flee from it. This is why in ancient iconography Angels are pictured with the wand of the Imperial messenger.

The victory has been won but it has to be announced to the ends of the world; the announcing, is the Cosmic battle we see in the Book of the Apocalypse.

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Vatican II: A discussion that can no longer be stopped"

Under the heading, "Vatican II: A discussion that can no longer be stopped". The excellent Rorate Caeli says:
Whatever might be said about the current situation of the talks between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and whatever one's doctrinal position might be, one thing is clear: the frank discussion of the ambiguities of Vatican II and of post-Conciliar Vatican documents vis-a-vis the pre-Conciliar Magisterium has begun, and can no longer be stopped. While it would be easy to exaggerate the quality, extent and openness of the discussion so far, it cannot be denied that signs of it have been appearing in unlikely places, such as the following article that was published last week by the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.
It is interesting that the article deals essentially with mission or evangelisation, read the whole article, but it ends rather damningly:
The church has failed miserably in her missionary mandate, not because of laziness or a lack of numbers. Rather, it is because she has quite simply lost sight of her own mandate. She doesn’t know, for example, whether to convert non-Catholics to the one true faith, or to merely wish them well in the safe haven of their own religious beliefs. Vatican II sanctions both opposing views as equally necessary. It is as if the Catholic Church is just one of many other churches, all of which need to “converge” toward a total Christ who is immanent in all denominations. 
More and more, Catholics are shying away from using terms like “proselytizing,” “conversion,” and even “Catholic” in their ecumenical and inter-religious efforts, almost as if they were ashamed of the Gospel, or afraid of appearing as a “sign of contradiction.” In this confused state of diabolical disorientation, the Church has lost her ability to speak to the modern world about God with any clarity or conviction. She has, in fact, lost her salt, and become tasteless. 
Indeed, a kind of de-evangelization has set-in. In order to erase the prevalent indifferentism, and growing skepticism, among Catholics, the church needs to re-examine her relationship with the modern world, and clarify her understanding of Christian unity. Otherwise the Church’s missionary activity will be reduced to nothing more than literacy programs, irrigation schemes, agricultural improvements, and health services—that is, the advancement of civilization rather than religion.
Surely a failure to evangelise, to have the confidence in its message, is not merely a problem in itself which we suffer from today but it is a sign of the lack of health of the post Vatican II model of the Church, at least as it is lived out in those parts of the world where it is shrinking. The Church by its very nature is evangelistic if it is failing to produce fruit we must look to the root to find the disease.
I hope that one of the issues addressed by the forthcoming Synod on Evangelisation will be the reasons why we are failing to evangelise. The obvious answer must be the ambiguity, as this article points out, of Concilliar teaching.
Speaking of fruit, I heard of one seminary spiritual director, (guess where?) who was voted out of office by his monastic community who now tells his seminarians he is "as much a Moslem as Christian" and urges them to read the Koran as spiritual reading. That is better than another one, a Franciscan, who describes himself as "more a Buddhist than a Christian. Then of course there are those leading American nuns who have "moved beyond the Church and beyond Jesus".

SSPX's Problems

Recently the SSPX Bishop Tissier de Mallerais revealed during a conference a letter written by Benedict XVI which says an agreement between the SSPX is dependant on their acceptance of Vatican II and subsequent Magisterial teaching. I really can't see the problem.

The difficulty is in the "how" the accepting of the Council and subsequent teaching is to be done but I am sure that the good bishop has no problem with Humanae Vitae for example. Bishop Fellay has said that the SSPX accepts 96% of the teaching of VII, but those bishops and priests with whom Pope Benedict might normally concelebrate I suspect would, if they were ever questioned, accept far, far less, not because they really disagree, but because of ignorance or failing to understand what the Church is really saying.

Ultimately, our faith is not about accepting propositions, (though it has been frequently about denying them) except for one: the Church teaches without error. And if you want to know what the Church is: it is simple, it those in communion with Peter and his successors. Though even here, many Catholics, now and in the past, would not be able to voice that belief.  It seems as if the real problem with the SSPX is that either it sees the Church as erring, or it doesn't recognise Benedict  is Peter. Regrettably there is a sede vacantist streak in the SSPX, it is the fruit of Gallicanism.

It can be dressed up as a dispute over aspects of Vatican II teaching but in its essence it is simply about whether the Church in communion with Benedict is the Church of Jesus Christ or not. 
Unless of course one disputes that Vatican II was a valid Oecumenical Council; Orthodox friends certainly would, one of mine dismisses it as a "Western Synod" but that doesn't seem to be a real option for Catholics as it has been continuously defined as an Oecumenical Council by subsequent Popes. Did they err in this? Catholics must answer, "No", or find a new way of defining our Catholic understanding of "Catholic". 
However, ever since the Council we have disputed how to interpret it and what it meant and what weight to give its teaching. In that sense it is a singular Council, it itself anathematised no-one if they didn't accept its particular teachings, even if they rejected those central documents labelled "Dogmatic Constitutions". Did the Fathers expect us to treat every word or sentence as de fide, in the same way as we are bound to accept the Canons of Nicea, or even Trent, no-one has ever suggested that, except the maddest diocesan catechist who has never read the documents. On the contrary, Pope Benedict has continuously taught that VII can only be interpreted by previous teaching.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bishop Egan's Pictures

I thought you might like to see this flickr set of Bishop Egan's Ordination, click here

© Mazur/

Our Cunning Plans and God


Baldricks, "I have a cunning plan" was part ecclesiastical culture of the last part of the 20th century: small groups, Ministry to Priests, Renew, diocesan visions or vision statements, strategies of various kinds were all part of priestly life and they all seem to have disappeared almost with out trace under the sands of time. I don't dismiss them entirely but I have always felt they were displacement activity to avoid living and proclaiming the Gospel.
The Gospel depends on that most fragile of all things "a relationship", first and foremost with God but also between human beings. Faith is passed on not by schemes but "in the space within a Divine embrace". Ultimately the foundation of the Church charity or one could say Grace.

“Solving the pastoral problems that present themselves in your dioceses must never limit itself to organizational questions, however important these may be. This [approach] risks placing an emphasis on seeking efficiency through a sort of 'bureaucratization of pastoral care,' focused on structures, organizations and programs, ones which can become 'self-referential,' at the exclusive use of the members of those structures. These would have scarce impact on the life of Christians who are distanced from regular practice [of the faith]. Instead, evangelization requires starting from the encounter with the Lord, within a dialogue rooted in prayer, which then concentrates on the witness of giving itself toward the end of helping the people of our time to recognize and discover anew the signs of the presence of God.” 
–Pope Benedict XVI: Ad Limina Address to the Bishops of Western France Castel Gandolfo 21 September 2012
I think it is important to remember that in England apart from the two Papal visits the greatest large scale act of Evangelisation was the visit of the relics of St Therese. Here it has been events like Forty Hours, our 150th Anniversary opening Mass. I have a sense that teaching is important but so too is space, space for the touch of God, for people to come and open their hearts.
In our cunning plans Grace, Divine Providence, God himself is often excluded. God's displeasure towards David, seems to be because he places his trust in bureaucracy rather than Him.
"If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans".
In many ways the problems of the Irish and other Churches are the result of "cunning plans"; substituting management of a situation for trust in God and seeking his goodness in all things.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Developing a cultus

When I first came here to Brighton, a now dead parishioner remembers overhearing one of my predecessors describing the parish to a new curate as "there are courtesans to the north and common prostitutes to the south and east, they come together in the church". Although there were in the past more families there was always a lot of strange goings on here. 19th century descriptions of Brighton might well suggest why the founders of our parish chose her as the patron of this parish, especially as in the old rite she is presented as Penitent rather than witness to the Resurrection. Brighton is still sexualised and still in need of the Magdalen's prayers.

The newly appointed parish priest of Knaphill, has post about some pop singer playing St Mary Magdalen and points out that there is still a popular consciousness of the role of the Magdalen. Fr Henry is in search of a relic of St Gerrard, which made me think that we really need do to develop devotion to our patron, we have a small relic, a not very nice statue but no altar or shrine for her.

I suppose we could offer an occasional votive Mass, I could bring her into sermons a little more often but really I am at a loss, though maybe for the Year of Faith we should integrate our patron saints into our parish lives. The devotion to saints is, or at least was, an important part of "Roman" Christianity as is witnessed by the ancient and august Roman Canon.

Ideas? Sensible one's!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rotten Fruit

When there is blood on a seminary floor because one seminarian overcome by rage and fury at a gay advance has half killed that seminarian, you might rightly expect serious concern and ultimately a judgement that this is a failing institution.
In the same way when "security" halt a lecture on Christology in a Catholic institution and front of the assembled students humiliatingly frog march the lecturer,  in the fact the head of the School of Theology, Philosophy and History in which the lecture is taking place, again one expects serious concern and at least judgement as to whether this is a fit institution.
Whether it is a Roman seminary or an English university college, a diocese or or any other Catholic institution the prime concern is one of charity. If it yields rotten fruit then it should be expected the tree itself is rotten and should be treated accordingly.

After the Chair of Governors St Mary's, Bishop Richard Moth wholehearted(?) support the action of St Mary’s,  the Catholic Herald publishes extracts from the resignation letter of  Professor Eamon Duffy from his fellowship at St Mary's.
The bishops want a Catholic University but at what cost? We have seen this type of thing before with the closing of parishes, with the Cardinal Vaughan and countless other incidents.

I really can't see why we so often don't connect root and fruit, it is plainly there in the Gospel, and it is what the world judges us by. Orthopraxy and orthodoxy can't be separated.

Bishop Egan's address to his new diocese

Philip Egan
This is remarkably good stuff from an English bishop, what a joy to read, there is hope for England:

Dear fellow pilgrims on life's journey, we inhabit a remarkable century, the 21st, which despite the current economic distemper, is witnessing momentous advances in every domain of human knowledge and endeavour, with new discoveries and new applications in science and engineering, in computing and cybernetics, in medicine and bio-technology, in the social sciences, arts and humanities, all of which manifest the limitless self-transcending reach of human experience, understanding and judgement and the cloud of burgeoning possibilities for human deciding, undreamt of by those who've gone before.
 Indeed, even as we speak, Curiosity is roving among the sand-dunes of Mars, in anticipation of a manned space-voyage to the Red Planet. With all these exhilarating developments, the Catholic Tradition must engage, the old with the new, in a mutually-enriching critical-conversation.
Yet the ordination of a Bishop, as Successor of the Apostles, in communion of mind, will and heart with the Pope, as the chief Shepherd, Teacher and High Priest of the diocese entrusted to him, who, like the Master, must lay down his life for his flock, reminds us that human needs ever remain essentially the same: the need to love and to be loved, the need for a purpose and vocation in life, the need to belong to family and community, the need for mercy and forgiveness, for peace and justice, for freedom and happiness, and most profoundly, the need for immortality and for the Divine.
All these fundamental desires, hard-wired into the human heart: theology expresses in the word 'salvation,' and we profess that every child, woman and man on this planet can find that salvation. There is a Way - and it's the Truth! It's the true Way that leads to Life, real life, life to the full, a life that never ends. There is a Way, and it's not a strategy, a philosophy or a package-deal. This Way has a Name, because it's a Person, the only Person in human history who really did rise from the dead, a Person alive here and now: Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son Incarnate. He alone can save us. He alone can give us the salvation our spirits crave. He alone can reveal to us the Truth about God and about life, about happiness and humanism, about sexuality and family values, about how to bring to the world order, justice, reconciliation and peace.
This message of Good News, and the civilisation of love it occasions, we Catholics must now communicate imaginatively, with confidence and clarity, together with our fellow Christians, and all people of faith and good will, to the people of England, this wonderful land, Mary's Dowry. We must offer this salvific message to a people, sorely in need of new hope and direction, disenfranchised by the desert of modern British politics, wearied by the cycle of work, shopping, entertainment, and betrayed by educational, legal, medical and social policy-makers who, in the relativistic world they're creating, however well-intentioned, are sowing the seeds of a strangling counterculture of death.
 My brothers and sisters, today, the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, of England's Nazareth, let's go forth from this Mass with joyful vigour, resolved in the Holy Spirit, to help bring about the conversions needed - intellectual, moral and spiritual - for everyone-we-meet to receive Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Life.... Please pray for me to the Lord Jesus, whose Heart yearns for us in the Blessed Sacrament, that I might be a humble and holy, orthodox, creative and courageous, Bishop of Portsmouth, one fashioned after the Lord's own.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Congratulations to Bishop Egan

Mgr Philip Egan

My congratulations to Bishop Egan the new Bishop of Portsmouth, I have been watching bits of it on the diocesan website, it has been a little difficult, maybe its the website or this computer but I couldn't hear much that was said, there was a huge long intro by Bishop Hollis, the principal consecrator, the readings weren't audible but the Gospel was sung rather nicely and that was heard, the rest of the music was, well, see below, it sounded so samey. It was significant that what was sung was heard, what was said was not. Bishop Egan interestingly, unlike his predecessor did sing.
But there were still an awful lot of words; four homilies!

I am told that the on-line broadcast was relayed to various parish centres through out the diocese. I was also told that the Bishop had wanted Exposition to follow the Ordination but this had been sat upon in favour of buns and vol au vents.
Pray that God will give him strength, the diocese he takes over has significant problems, it will be heavy cross to bear.

Musical Iconoclasts

I am told that "reform of the reform" is not an issue in Rome. In the Pope's own diocese liturgy is ghastly, there are a few oasis but only a few. Like most parishes throughout the world liturgical music is about what we sing or play, rather than what we should sing or play. Too many diocesan musical directors have a financial link to liturgical music publishers and are therefore interested in promoting something new (and expensive) rather than  the Church's rich heritage (which is more or less free). Many of course started off in a time of destruction and iconoclasm and have continued over the years in the same vain. It has served them well to continue as they started.

As church architects ripped out altars and altar rails, moved or removed tabernacles, in acts of gross vandalism so liturgical musicians ripped the guts out of our liturgical music. Often we have ended up with a parody of Sacrosanctum Concillium, where we sing at Mass, rather than sing the Mass. Where the words of scripture in the Propers of the Mass are replaced by hymns, or feel good songs celebrating "us" rather "Him".
The increased use of strident instruments like the piano or the strummed guitar, like the microphoned voice often overwhelm, dominate or at least compete with the text and the human action of prayer which is what liturgical music; chant and polyphony, are supposed to be. Machines: mics, pianos, even organs don't pray, people do.

The traditional use of music in the west has been to open up the meaning of a particular text, the text not the music is important, the use of a limited musical range, the use of modes emphasise this. The rise and fall of chant is a constant reminder of the basic meaning of Catholic worship: that God became Man so that Man might share in His divinity, that God raised fallen Man to worship him amongst the Seraphim. The chant of the Good Friday Liturgy, for example, is not sentimental, it is restrained, it is not a cry of pain but full of hope, so too the chants of the Requiem Mass.

Though traditional Church music is not itself catechetical, it is worship but it does teach us to worship in the heart of the Church, with the Church.

As destructive as iconoclastic architects were in re-orientating Catholic worship, often literally by smashing the High Altar and replacing it with a Communion Table, and as the Pope has said, altering the dynamics of our worship from looking towards the place of Christ's coming again, the heavenly Jerusalem to turning our worship into "a closed circle", so the musical iconoclasts have created a distaste for the Latin language, often banning it or pushing it to the margins. This has meant at the very least a pretty seismic hermeneutic of rupture, which has all kinds of implications for reading our past, and of the correct reading of Vatican II. It is sad that so many of our full-time diocesan musicians are foremost members of the theological school that delights in proclaiming theological rupture. 

Today there is certainly an important place for the vernacular but Catholic Church music is Latin, we need to accept it, some need to get over it, we all need to delight in it and seek to understand it, fortunately now we are beginning to restore that which had almost been destroyed.

Clare at Birmingham Oratory

Clare, our Musical Director went to the conference at Birmingham Oratory on Liturgical Formation in the Liturgy, the brainchild of Fr Guy Nichols, read her account here.

Basically, it all seems to be about getting back to Sacrosanctum Concillium and to authentic Catholic music. There are lots of interesting snippets: Mgr Burnham relates practical experiences, Jeremy de Satge teaching children chant, Mgr Andrew Wadsworth, on “Towards a new culture of Liturgical Music.”.
I am sure that the various papers will appear on-line in some form but I hope Clare's account will wet your appetite a little.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lib Dems in Brighton

The Lib-Dems are here in Brighton, actually in the parish, for their Conference. When the other parties, Labour and Conservatives are here, few come to Mass. The Lib-Dems are actually much better at attending Mass than the other political parties.

The Gospel is about James and John wanting to be Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.  So apart from a reference to bigotry what should I say?

More on Müller

Following on from a post yesterday of the new CDF Prefect, there was an interview on Vatican Radio with Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller.

As someone, who I must admit occasionally  uses labels but hates being labelled I found this extract interesting about polarisation, most interesting that he is not quite able to find words to describe "progressives or whatever you call them". What seems to be a theme in his writings, is that faith changes lives, that there is a difference between notional belief, a vague intellectual committment, and real belief in Christ, that belief is actually about submitting oneself "unconditionally" to Christ, over and above our "own personal ideology". The label most Germans apply to him is "conservative" more or less the same labels they apply to the Pope.
I think we are in for something good and interesting.
Q: - You first year in the job begins with a bang, the Synod of bishops. But on a personal level what are your hopes for your first year?
A: - Naturally, I have thought of how I would fill this role. I do not believe I was summoned by the Holy Father to fill a bureaucratic post and carry out – so to speak – a bureaucratic task, but as a theologian. So above all, I asked myself; what ails the life of the Church? In many countries, there is a strong polarization: Traditionalists against progressives or whatever you would call them. This must be overcome, we need to find a new and fundamental unity in the Church and individual countries. Unity in Christ, not a unity produced according to a program and later invoked by a partisan speaker. We are not a community of people aligned to a party program, or a community of scientific research, our unity is gifted to us. We believe in the one Church united in Christ. And if you believe in Christ, really believe - not manipulating the teachings of the Church, or singling out individual points to support your own personal ideology, but rather unconditionally entrusting yourself to Christ - then the unity of the Church is also important. Then the Church will not be – as it is sometimes described in Scripture – torn apart by jealousy and ambition. This is my underlying aim: To reduce the tensions within the Church "

Friday, September 21, 2012

What's going on at SMUC

Who knows what is happening at SMUC?

EF Pastor has the story but what is the backgound? All this security guard stuff at lectures on Christolgy, good if they are enforcing Nicea!

Even Ms P is reporting, it must be important, they even have a picture!
Dozens of students staged a silent protest outside a governors meeting of St Mary's University College on Thursday evening. Students at the Catholic college are unhappy about a plan to merge the school of theology and the suspension this week of the head of that department, Anthony Towey.
In a statement Bishop Moth said that the plan to merge the theology school was going ahead and that the "governors have total confidence" in St Mary's senior management team.
Yet there resignations.
Is SMUC a good or bad thing?
What about Towey? I know he is an ex-priest but little else.
SMUC validates the Degress of both Wonersh and the Beda.

Fr Tim has put up a bit of of the background, it sounds a little like a repeat of the Cardinal Vaughan fiasco.

An Excommunication this weekend

Gosh! A friend of mine from distant parts has to read a decree of Excommunication in his church this Sunday. It is terrible affair, all to do with blood feuds and murder, so pray for the conversion of the subjects of the decree.

In fact it is really a short pastoral letter but I couldn't help thinking of liturgical theatre that could possibly accompany it, even the most liberal I think should wear a birretta, what else?
black vestments,
unbleached candles
singing it in the Lamentation tone
the use of a clapper
muffled kettledrums
tolling bells
riders on black horses reading copies of it in all public places and cross roads
public scratching of names from the readers list
ending with Dies Irae
sulphur burnt in the thurible
The Penitential Psalms

 It begins,  "We, the three Bishops of the North, do declare and decree that ...". I suppose there must guidelines from the Diocesan Liturgy Office, I couldn't find an Inwood "ungathering" song for such an occasion, no "Excommunicamus, che, che".

I heard of an old parish priest who died years ago, would read parts of the funeral rite in people's front  gardens if they refused his successive invitations to return to practice, but that was in the 1950s, and I suspect he was just a little mad.

Thoughts on the new Prefect of the CDF

One of my parishioners a nice young single mum was discreetly picking up cigarette ends in the street. She is addicted, she can't afford the habit nowadays. Financially she struggles, so it is about the only pleasure she allows herself, so she suffers the humiliation, hoping other parents don't notice. Never will her children suffer but she does, she goes without food, without new clothes. In the winter when the children are at school the heating goes off. School trips or a torn pair of trousers means she doesn't eat. There was a time when she could work as a cleaner until her own mum died, now she can't afford childcare so she works only when there is school, so now she is looking to resume work after the summer holidays. She can't find any. Their are plenty of people like her throughout the "Rich" North.
The number of those coming to our soup run has gone up recently to about 60/70 each day.

Ever since the appointment of Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg as the new Prefect of the CDF, I have been to reading a little of his writings have been on the net and translated into readable English, really, to see if the outrage, of some, over his appointment is justified. To be honest I can't find "errors" in what he writes, unless one foreshortens his argument or quotes him out of context.

His annual month in the slums, his interest in Liberation theology, has been criticised but actually he sees Jesus Christ as the Liberator. The main problem that the Instruction on Liberation Theology sees with it, is its possible lack of Christ centredness. The Instruction is one of the first documents of Ratzinger's Prefecture, his criticisms will broadened in his later and more important declaration Dominus Jesus, which is the key document, I think, of both his Prefecture and his Papacy, and all his teaching.

Cardinal Levada, as much as I like him personally was a rather gentle Prefect, radical only in his dissimilarity to his predecessor; Müller seems likely to be a different appointment, more precise, actually as a Ratzinger scholar and editor of his works, more a chip off the old block.

One of the things that seems lacking from "the New Evangelism" but not from the Pope's letters and teaching is the proclamation of the Gospel to the poor. Radical orthodox is meaningless without radical praxis, is a Ratzinger constant, as Deus Caritas says:

25. Thus far, two essential facts have emerged from our reflections:
a) The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being.
b) The Church is God's family in the world. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas- agape extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. The parable of the Good Samaritan remains as a standard which imposes universal love towards the needy whom we encounter “by chance” (cf. Lk 10:31), whoever they may be. Without in any way detracting from this commandment of universal love, the Church also has a specific responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need. The teaching of the Letter to the Galatians is emphatic: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”

Communism as a economic force has been shown to be bankrupt, JPII and Benedict also point out the significant shortcomings of Capitalism, especially in its commodification of the human person. In the West unemployment and consequently poverty is likely to grow, declining birthrates are going to mean a loss of social support for many, not only the elderly, which many of our southern neighbours are already experiencing. Greece,  Italy and Spain cannot afford to keep their elderly pensions, this will spread. Increasingly the cost of the sick will become a serious burden for health services, the problems will spread.
Few political parties in Europe can come up with a "big idea", let alone afford one, hence "Equalities", which is cheap, has emerged as the only idea most politicians seem to buy into.

For Ratzinger the big idea is Dominus Jesus, the Lord Jesus himself. For Europe, the big political questions should be around the economy. Could it not be that Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the German Ratzingerian,  might actually be someone who might actually be able to insist on not merely radical doxis but also a radical praxis? In the light of Dominus Jesus might not it be timely for a renewed Liberation theology to question and even provide the world with a renewed vision, the vision of St Francis and St John Chrysostom, of the Gospel?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bishops: Warriors or Diplomats

I can't help comparing and contrasting our hierarchy with the Scots.
Cardinal O'Brien has broken off direct communication with the First Minister and Government, "because they are not listening". Our hierarchy seem to think access to the halls of of power is still important, though many might suggest "access without influence" is pretty meaningless.
There is a sense in which bishops can be divided into warriors and diplomats, theirs are warriors, ours are diplomats.
Warriors tend to rally the troops, are clear in their sloganising, and risk everything on on the battlefied and can end up slaughtered by the enemy. Diplomats avoid direct confrontation, delight in obfuscation and subtlety and work calmly behind the scenes in an atmosphere of give and take, normally they reach a working, if compromised, relationship with their opponents.

 It was often suggested Catholics before VII lived in a "ghetto", with our own education system, our own teacher training colleges, our own doctors, even our own hospitals, pharmacies, undertakers. Those who worked "outside" like doctors, police, nurses had their own professional organisations or guilds, that gave them solidarity and protected their interests. There were deeply Catholic, and yet serious and respected journals, like the Tablet, profoundly Catholic aid organisations like Cafod. There were Catholic banks and building societies, even Catholic dating or marriage agencies. We had the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council to help those whose marriages were in difficulty, which has now dropped its Catholicism and has become Marriage Care Ltd, until recently we had Catholic adoption agencies and child care social services. We even had our own young offenders institutions.

We live in the world, we are going to be compromised by it, even in the "ghetto". The loss of Catholic identity can be blamed on many things, the financial cost of a separate structure is certainly one factor, perhaps more importantly are the developments following Gaudium et Spes, and the choice of Bishops. A friend suggests Bishops being nominated by the Secretariate of State has marked a movement to diplomats where as previously the Holy Office or CDF had chosen bishops who were also warriors. One can hardly imagine Secretaries of State for Education being afraid of meeting a Catholic bishop today, as Butler was on being given an audience by Archbishop Amigo in the 1940s.

The big problem is that so much that we do depends on government funding; being "open to the world" inevitably means not only stepping into the world ourselves but also accepting the world comes into the Church. It does mean that we cannot discriminate against a teacher who wishes to celebrate their second or gay marriage or sex change operation within their school, just as it means at times having a pro-abortion school nurse. It does mean Cafod working alongside the condom supplying UK Government. It does mean that despite having Archbishop Nichols as Patron of Marriage Care Ltd it counsels gay partners and compromises its Catholicism, in the same way the Cabrini Society, complying with law is "open" to gay adoption. This is all about diplomacy. Formerly radical Catholic charities have become milder but hugely important national and international organisations, dealing in millions, running them, or even directing them. is beyond the capabilities of well-meaning amateurs, like our bishops. They simply haven't the time or expertise.

Warriors might, ultimately decide that it is impossible to co-operate with evil in any way, this seems where the US bishops are going, they are likely to raise the banner of the cross and draw the claymoor. It could mean that they break the law, eventually becoming outlaws! It will mean that governments withdraw funding in an attempt to curb rebellion, impose tighter laws to control them, try to sequester funds, do their best to crush disobedience. Eventually it might mean that the Scottish warrior-bishops end up by separating themselves from the State. It could mean breaking the law. It could mean closing or having their schools closed or nationalised. Withdrawing from anything that will compromise the purity of the Faith. It could mean bishops going to prison, it could mean Catholics refusing to pay tax, it could mean civil disobedience.

I cannot help wondering if this is the "smaller, humbler, purer Church" of which Pope Benedict speaks.

I think this is not unrelated but I am intrigued by the new Prefect of the CDF, this fusion of Liberation Theology (without the Marxism) and Ratzingarianism. German radical orthodoxy, with deep sense of social justice with an understanding of the Glory of the Truth.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Catholic Patriarch: UN resolution that outlaws religious defamation is needed

How would this pan out? In the light of the anti-Islamic films and the terror that has followed the Maronite Patriarch has called for an international law banning the denigration of religion.
From here, I suspect the reaction will be to have a law banning religion but then not everywhere is Euro-centric.

Are we serious as about Marriage?

I can't help wondering if we are really serious in our concern about the redefinition of marriage in England and Wales, unlike the Scots. We had that letter sometime earlier this year by the Archbishops, which didn't really address the issue and was designed not to offend anyone. There was a half hearted suggestion to sign the petition for the Coalition for Marriage, which was marked by the absence of any Catholic bishop or senior member of the Church on its leadership, or even amongst its primary signatories. A few obscure statements from individual bishops, but for the most part silence.

Now, in the Tablet, what used to be Catholic Marriage Advisory Council and is now just called Marriage Care, Terry Prendergast, its Chief Executive has been reported, presumably in preparation for "Gay Marriage", that it is going to counsel gay couples.
The shocking thing is that Marriage Care appears in most diocesan directories, normally under the heading "Marriage Preparation". Its patron, possibly not surprisingly is the Archbishop of Westminster, presumable soon to be Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Marriage Care is partly funded by the Church but also receives a large tranche of Government money.

Isn't it about time we have a group committed to Catholic teaching about marriage and sexuality, supported by the Bishop's Conference, that we can trust and rely on?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Speaking as a bigot

Silence continues south of the border, as far as the hierarchy are concerned (why is that?), in Scotland there are continued angry rumblings , now the focus seems to be on France as far as same sex marriage legislation is concerned.

I have been wondering about the statement Nick Clegg didn't make, but his advisors thought he should, that I am "bigot". There was some talk about a Mass here at St Mary Magdalen's for the Lib-Dems when they are here for their conference, it faded when I pointed out that we couldn't have a party big-wig "preaching" or "addressing" the congregation. Frankly, the Lib-Dems are so unpopular I felt that people would boycott the Church if we had a Mass for them.
But I would have enjoyed addressing "bigotry" in the presence of Lib-Dems, or even whether my views against "same sex marriage" actually based on my religious belief. The truth is they aren't. Yes I do believe some sexual practices are mortally sinful and I would rather people didn't do them, I believe the same about contraception, adultery and fornication, as well as defrauding widows and orphans and depriving workers of a just wage but I manage to live reasonably happily in an environment where that is taking place.

What concerns me above all is that government arrogates to itself the ability to define marriage, I am against it because I am a conservative, at least in this area but not in the area of the workers right to his or her wages, because of that I would have difficulty ever voting for Dave Cameron and his coetibus. Those who claim ssm will lead to bigamy, bestiality and every other possibility are most probably right, simply because governments nowadays rule by whim and seem happy to be involved in social experiment, what ever the electorate actually want or vote for. Tearing up the traditional concept of marriage is going to seriously undermine the idea of family. Every week I see children, desperate for love, whose lives have been damaged by divorce and family break-up.

For those bigots like me, we see that ssm is going to make traditional western (Christian?) teaching about marriage, but more importantly about the family (mum, dad and children), impossible in our schools. It is going to make children, traditionally, the result of a man and women bound together in marriage, merely a possibility, a lifestyle choice, rather than the natural consequence of marriage. This will damage not strengthen the family.

The parody of the gay couple not being able to decide between a poodle or a child seems to be where we are heading. Children begotten either through the natural process or by sperm donor in the case of a lesbian couple or by adoption or surrogacy in the case of a male couple are not a consequence of the relationship but an addition to it, bolted on to it. This is pushing children into the status of a commodity. This I find deeply worrying.

The "gay" catch phrase "if you don't agree with gay marriage, then don't marry a homosexual" or the governments continued promise that "Christians won't be forced officiate at same sex marriages" is just plain daft and disingenuous. A little like, "if you don't agree with drugs don't use them". This type of argument springs from the idea of "there is no such thing as society" that we are not bound together, that we do not suffer the consequences of one another's actions. Indeed this argument is really centred on the unimportance of the family in modern political and social thinking. It is part of the movement in society from "us" to "me". It is essentially egocentric and consumerist, I can't help but think that it is in this context that Cameron is for "gay marriage because he is a Conservative", it is Conservatism that smacks of decadent Capitalism, economic theory that sees human beings as individual consumer/production units, that pushes non-productive children to the margins.

SSM seems to me as much an assault on the family as the Chinese "one child" policy, it is within this context which has proved both disastrous and monstrous that this legislation is being introduced. The bigotry surely lies with a government that believes it has the right to control every human institution.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Norah Out!

Apparently Ma Popehater can't understand why Clifton diocese's favourite theologian Professor Norah Batty - head of Cleggy studies at the University of Littlehampton - was dropped from the diocesan winter entertainment schedule.

The problem is that too many people who have received copies of the original script and have been comparing it to Norah's interpretation which hasn't gone down too well with Compo, who says, "She just won't learn her lines!"
Foggy complained, "The rest of us are doing Summer Wine and she is doing Dr Who!"
"The trouble is the viewers want it straight and she is method acting all over the place" said a spokesperson. The big question is can the executive, who until recently have been encouraging improvisation and free interpretation, have been forced to look again a policy, many want to keep her in the cast of Cafod (an everyday story of Catholic folk), but even here viewers are urging a change. Yet Ma P's scripts are still on sale at the back of most retail outlets, so a change seems doubtful, at the moment.

Join the Justice for Norah Campaign or start your own Littlehampton One Group

Mother of Sorrows, Pray for her

j - extra-marie-jean.jpg

Stella died last night, surrounded by her friends and family, pray for her.
Pray for her 13 year old son.
Pray for her mother at home in Africa who was unable to get a visa to be with her dying daughter.

Mother of Sorrows who stood by the Cross of your Son, sharing in His suffering and Cross, pray for those who mourn.
Pray for those who face the separation of death. Pray for those whose families and hearts are broken by death.
Pray for children and the young who must grow up without a mothers embrace.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happy Summorum Pontificum Day

This is Fr Tim's chart topping vid, he gave a rather interesting paper recently to Catholic Theological Assosciation on blogging as a New Movement
It is the anniversary of the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum today, I had lunch recently with a young priest who is very much involved in promoting vocations, he was telling me about a meeting with a dozen or so young men who were either considering or considering considering the priesthood. All of them, he said, not one was not, were touched but the Extraordinary Form of the Mass either they attended it regularly or wanted to do so. I find it rather interesting as the Bishop of that particular diocese is rather publicly against Summorum Pontificum and all it stands for.

As I said earlier The Exaltation of the Holy Cross was seen as a fixed point about which much of the Churches life revolved, to the Pope feasts and seasons are important. I can't help thinking that SP is a great fulcrum of this Papacy, a great underlining of the Hermeneutic of Continuity. In a way it doesn't matter whether people flock to it or not, it is what it signifies.
Quite a bit of my correspondence is with young clergy and seminarians. The JPII and BXVI generation are not the hippies who in some places still teach them or are their superiors, Do pray for those who offer themselves generously to God and crave for Orthodox Catholic teaching and formation and receive... err, crap instead. Though things are changing, there are excellent seminaries and houses of formation around but there are also some that  are run by men who are simply unable to see that the Church, and especially young people, has moved on. Unfortunately Tina Batty's and Ma Popehater's disciples are still in power, often in roles of formation, in their own little world's like a seminary, they have great power and can create a great deal of misery.
So pray for seminarians and younger clergy.

Orbis Volvitur

Crux stat dum orbis volvitur
The Cross stands still the Earth revolves
In monastic life a great deal revolved around the Exaltation of the Holy Cross - Monastic Lent began, the Dominicans, the Black Friars put on their black mantles which they had removed on Easter day and elsewhere the winter timetable for the times of the Office began. In a previous age University and Seminary terms began, in some places it marked the end of the pilgrimage season.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Prayer Request

Pray for Stella who was forty earlier this week, she is in our local hospice; she is very, very sick.
Pray for her brave son who is only thirteen, he is our youngest server, his mother is proud of him.

Cardinal Heenan and the Hail Mary

My bishop recently stated that it is abuse to include the Hail Mary in the General Intercessions and he is right of course, it doesn't occur in the Traditional Mass (it happens in the Leonine "devotions" after Low Mass) and it shouldn't really be there in the Mass of Paul VI. The problem is that if it is not recited at Mass this important part of our Tradition will be lost. I have met recently received Catholics and children too, from dioceses, unlike mine, where bishops and priests have been rigorous in banning it from Mass, who don't know it, which presumably means they have no sense of Marian devotion devotion whatsoever! I find that deeply disturbing.

 Apparently, Cardinal Heenan asked Pope Paul VI permission to include it in the Intercessions, here In England and Wales, in Mary's Dowry, apparently the Pope agreed and "models" published for the General Intercessions in England and Wales in the 1970s/80s it was always included. I must say I have never seen any "official" notification of such a permission but in those heady days Paul VI seems to have granted permission for a lot of things that were never put on paper, for example: demanding Mass should be celebrated facing the people!

It is interesting that for the Papal Liturgies during the Pope's visit here those preparing the liturgy had felt, apparently,  confident enough about it to include the Hail Mary in the drafts but the Office of Papal Liturgies had removed it, presumably, because though a custom might be acceptable, even laudable in one particular country or region, if it is not "Roman" it is wrong for it to be celebrated and publicly accepted by the Bishop of Rome especially in a liturgy that will be seen outside of the region by an international audience.

Cardinal Heenan seems to have been quite wise old bird, he managed to ensure that in England and Wales, alone in the entire Church it was possible to celebrate the Traditional Mass licitly in public. He managed to ensure that in his own cathedral at least he managed to preserve something of Catholic Traditional music, and was willing not only to allow but quietly to encourage a rather rigorous and traditional interpretation of the Missal, whilst in those heady days of chaos and confusion after the Council kept liberals onside.
I cannot help thinking his intervention over the Hail Mary which was dressed up in terms of the great devotion of the English for Our Lady, was simply a recognition it was on the wane and if it was removed from public use there no devotion to Our Lady in England.

Recently the Pope stressed the importance of Mary's role at an academic conference on Our Lady in Rome, the conference itself sadly noted the loss of Marian devotion in the last fifty years. It seems what Heenan feared for England has been realised elsewhere in the world.

A loss of Marian devotion is seriously damaging to and diminishes our Christology, therefore our devotion to and worship of Christ, our understanding of the Eucharist, of the Church.

May be a Canon Lawyer can answer this:-

+ Is this a legitimate custom in E&W?
+ Is it a legitimate custom elsewhere?

+ In what sense are the General Intercessions part of the Liturgy, there is no authorised text, only "models". 
+ At what point does deviation from the model actually become an "abuse".

On the list

St. Peter's List Logo

I hate those competitions where bloggers have to get people to vote for them in order to get an award to stick up on your side bar, it is all a little vulgar but I was pleased to appear on this list of priest bloggers, along with some friends like Fr Tim Finigan, Fr Simon Henry, Fr Michael Brown and il bloggero ultissimo Fr Z. There are also  a couple of priest's blogs I haven't seen before.

I tend not to trawl the net looking for priest's blogs, if you have some favourites let me know about them in combox.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Isn't this ghastly!

I was looking for something for the feast of The Most Holy Name of Mary, and I came across this, I think it is the Sistine Choir.
Poor Pope! I bet he would prefer the "music lovers Mass", the one without music.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Nuncii

I was chatting to a couple of Irish friends yesterday, both rather spontaneously said in the words of the second, "Charlie Brown: he's doing good!" He meant His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown. The first pointed out that he has been getting in touch with ordinary people, going to Croagh Patrick to preach and offer Mass, going to Youth 2000 meetings, appearing parishes, ordaining priests in bishopless dioceses. He's getting to meet ordinary Catholics, rather than just being in touch with the Diplomatic Corps and the Bishops. It is boosting his personal credibility, it also gives ordinary people the opportunity to discuss the future of the Irish clergy. It is good to hear something positive about a bishop coming from Ireland.

Our own Nuncio too seems to be getting about a bit too, this summer he has been to the Faith Conference, Evangelium Conference, he has been a great champion of the Ordinariate and I understand wanted to come to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. It seems that the only place he won't go to is the Soho Masses and maybe Ma won't invite him to deliver the Tablet lecture either (have you seen this new disgraceful blog, Fr Xylophone, really! and Mrs Popehater, well!).
One of the things both seem to be interested in, is hearing about potential Bishops who are outside of the normal circle who are committed to Evangelisation, ours even has  his email address is even available.

A good Nuncio can turn a local Church around. it has happened in the States and Australia, I have a good hope it will happen in Ireland and here - let's pray for them both.

Was Vatican I a Council of rupture?

There is lots of talk about the Spirit of Vatican II,  Fr Henry has "fisked" an interesting interview with the wise Cardinal Piacenza, stating the constant message of this Papacy, "Vatican II was not a Council of rupture".

I have a Greek bishop friend, who teaches theology and is a theological advisor to the Patriarch of Constantinople. I am not sure that much that VII says really interests him, his big problem is Vatican I and what it says about the role of the Pope and the nature of Papal Infallibility. That is the sticking point for any hope of re-union with the East, in the past when I have talked about the possibility of re-union with him, his answer is really "It is impossible", because of Vatican I.

It is interesting that on the Orthodox side there seems to have been developments, though any Orthodox worth his salt would hate that word, so let us speak of a "deepening understanding or of questioning" of the role of "Patriarchates" and their relationships with one another, really because of the preparations for the Pan-Orthodox Synod, which may or may not happen. One of the issues that is on the agenda is the ranking of the Moscow Patriarchate in relation to those of Apostolic origin and especially Moscow's relationship to Constantinople, Constantinople's relationship to Athens is another matter. Although it will never be discussed publicly the Roman Patriarchate is actually important for Orthodoxy, both in how it sees itself but also in the claim that Orthodoxy would make about us falling into heresy or having gone into schism, yet if  "first Rome has fallen", what about Moscow's claim that it is the third Rome because "Constantinople, the second Rome has fallen". What is meant by "falling"? Why is it the there are several claimants to the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Alexandria, and yet there is only one unchallenged claimant to the Roman Patriarchate? What is the relationship of Constantinople to other autocephalous Churches, especially Patriarchal ones.
Another issue not unrelated, is the validity of the sacraments of what Orthodoxy sees as schismatic and heterodox Churches and ecclesial communities. This relates to how distant, how fallen, are Protestant communities and their sacraments? Are they the same as Oriental Orthodox Churches who rejected Chalcedon, and what about the sacraments of those in communion with Rome, not only Latins but also Orientals and Byzantines.
But the big problem for Orthodox as far as Rome is concerned are the claims, perhaps perceived claims, "the Spirit of" Vatican I, they at least symbolise the rift.

For Catholics there seems to be a blurring of Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium. The teaching on artificial birth control and the impossibility of female ordination to the priesthood (and episcopate) are increasingly put forward as "Infallible" teachings, but not so much because they were taught by Pope Paul VI or Pope John Paul II but because they have "always and everywhere" been taught by the whole Church.
For all the exalted language surrounding Vatican I, and certainly the "Spirit of Vatican I" hype afterwards, nothing that has been declared as "Infallible" since 1870 is new, everything is found in the first of the first millennium, that is before the break between East and West.
For the last thousand years, since the great schism a the theology of Patriarchate has been unimportant in the West but the more Ecumenical dialogue developes and the more we come value the the East, the more "a theology of chairs" becomes important.

Vatican I speaks of the Pope having "universal" authority over the whole Church, and indeed the first title ditched by Benedict XVI was "Patriarch of the West", which for Orthodox was seem a slight modification of "Universal Patriarch" but in practice what does it mean? Does it actually mean anything different in the second and third millennium than it would have meant in the first? Does it mean more than occupying the first chair but in fellowship with, rather than dominance of, other Patriarchs.
Was Vatican I a Council of rupture?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Three Points about Cardinal Martini

I had an email from an Italian friend about Cardinal Martini, in response to my post on the late Cardinal: huge crowds did attend his "lying in state" and funeral and Corriera della Sera has wept salt tears over him.
My friend pointed out a few things non-Italians forget:
  • Against the background of two non-Italian Pope, and in the face an absence of honourable Italian secular leaders, "the patrician" -an important word for many Italians- Martini stood out. He had a natural charisma. My friend pointed out than in the present economic times, when Italy has little role on the world and it seems likely that Italians will not in the future have a firm grip on the Papacy or even necessarily on the Curia, Martini was in a sense the Italian Pope. Italians tended to see Martini as holder of the legacy of John XXIII and Paul VI ( and probably John Paul I) and a spirit of "modernity"
  • Milan is a huge Italian diocese, the Milanese are Ambrosian, not Roman Catholics. They have their own Rite, their own calendar, and to some extent their own law. They reflect very much a Northern Italian attitude to the south, for them Rome is "the South", almost Neapolitan, if nor Sicilian! The Milanese, especially the Church, define themselves in contradistinction to the rest of Italian, most especially "Rome", which is seen the source of every sort of political and cultural corruption and vice.
  • He also represented many of the post-war Italian Socialistic and Democratic values that have been obscured under leaders such as Berlusconi. He was a strong leader too, absent in the political arena and absent in the Church; the Bertone / Sodano squabble which seems to be at the root of Vatileaks has done great damage to the image of leading Italian clergy, it shows them as week. "Italians" my friend pointed out, "like to think of themselves on the left, even if in practice they can no longer afford it".
  • Martini was a popularist!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Hope which is in you

"But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you." 1 Peter 3:15
These words have been buzzing around my head, and those nice people at Gloria TV have reproduced my words too, it always sounds different when other people quote you, and a conversation I had with an old Irish man some years ago came back to me. He said he stopped getting up on Sunday mornings, "when I realised Mass was about our community, I didn't think it worth getting up for that", he was talking about the time of the liturgical changes and they had recently knocked down and rebuilt his parish church.
The Mass is not about us, it always has been about Jesus and giving us glimpse of heaven, "and so with Angels and Saints we sing...", it is a vision of the triumph of the Lamb, it is about our ultimate re-orientation, the end of  our earthly pilgrimage. Frankly, some liturgies I have attended speak more about Hell than Heaven. I really do think if we have nothing to say about the world to come, if we do not have answer for those who ask of "that hope which is in you", we have nothing to say, because it we are ultimately hopeless.
When thinking about liturgy we have to ask whether it does point us to heavenly realities, or does it merely say, "this is it, there is nothing more", is it hopeful or hopeless? Does it point to something the mysteries of the Life to come or is it merely about earthly realities.
Buildings music, words, actions, vestments, community life, everything are supposed to deepen "that hope which is in you". Our work as local churches with the sick and the poor, for social justice, they too are supposed to speak of that hope, so too our prayer, our devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Angels and Saints.
The big question about liturgy and the life of a local church is surely is this worth getting out of bed for, and having done so, does what is happening at the local church offer anything different from the type of experience found in the local pub, or football match, or shopping centre or the other events that are available as an alternative to Sunday Mass? If we only have "community" then this can be found in a so many alternative places today.
One of my parishioners is dying, she is young mother, pray for her, she has deep faith, and therefore hopes: she told me she felt surrounded by love but actually this love comes from her young son, her sister, her extended family, her neighbours, her work colleagues and her carers, it does not really come from fellow parishioners but her faith comes from the Church and her attendance at Mass.
I wouldn't enter into a discussion about which form of the Roman Rite speaks more clearly about the heavenly mysteries, the things we are called to hope in and for but the ars celebrandi should point to these mysteries, in either form. When the Mass merely celebrates us, "the community gathered", when music is about community singing, or is trite and sentimental, when participation is more about action than interiority, when as Joseph Ratzinger says we "form a closed circle" or a "significant absence of silence", then there are problems with the Eternal. The loss of hope in the Church does seem be related to how the liturgy is celebrated when it is done badly it destroys hope.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Prayer in Adversity

I love Russian cinema, I thought you might enjoy this little lesson in prayer from Aдмирал (The Admiral 2008)

Now lads, it looks bad, it is bad, so PRAY!

In Praise of Diversity and the Irrational

I am not entirely convinced by the religious freedom arguments put forward by the Strasbourg 4, it could be that I am not entirely familiar these arguments and should read further but it strikes me that a Christian doesn't work in a brothel or a Jew work in bacon factory.

Because we are Christians some jobs are closed to us. More interestingly is the Cologne courts ruling that bans Jewish parents from circumcising their boys, I am not sure even Hitler forbade this. It is going to mean the expulsion, albeit a "voluntary" one of Jews from this part of Germany. On a rational level cutting skin off of a child's body is totally irrational, obviously it is objectionable for black adolescent Sudanese girls, even if they consent, even if it happens under a compliant matriarchy, of course western girls of a similar age can choose contraceptive implants or to have an abortion, but that is a different issue, isn't it?

But back to German Jews and circumcision, because it is Germany and because of the holocaust and because it is the Jews there is something deeply distasteful in a court or a government forbidding it and yet rationality tells us the courts are right. And yet..., and yet because it is Germany and it is the Jews etc...

The problem is that human behaviour cannot be reduced to the merely rational, religion is always the X factor, humanity cannot be constrained by law or rationality. At the most basic level it is a reminder that mankind is not entirely rational, we are more than our DNA. The law cannot be used to codify every human action, we cannot reduce mankind to a machine where every human peculiarity is reduced to the average, the mean man. Diversity is important, it is about the richness of humanity. In our religion, in our politics, in our sexuality, in our values we are diverse, and diversity produces a society in which ideas challenge one another and is creative, ultimately we learn to live alongside one another.

The exclusion of religion from the public sphere is a worrying sign of a growing totalitarianism, and though on the one hand we acclaim diversity there is the growing tendency to outlaw the diverse, rendering it perverse. The first step is to exclude Christians from the caring professions, but what comes after that. The Cologne court ruling gives us a clue, it is about the restriction of the rights of parents over their children, making the state a child's ultimate guardian. Hitler introduced introduced compulsory state schooling and outlawed home schooling, to ensure that only state approved values were passed on to the nations offspring. In most western countries the introduction of same-sex marriage is going make a significant change to what a child may or may not be taught about human relationships. The values of the state will take precedence over the values of Faith groups or of individual parents.  Already strong Christian views on sexuality bar prospective foster parents from fostering, how long until they bar parents from parenting?

Giving the state such a role is indeed worrying, again returning to Germany, here the 1930s/40s a perverse scientific rationality rendered some people less than human, it was the irrationality and unscientific nature of religion that was the feint that voice challenged that totalitarianism.

Already Christians feel uneasy about involvement with many areas of medicine, of social work, how long before they excluded from other areas of public life. And after Christians and members of other faiths are excluded, which other groups will be pushed to the sidelines?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Tina Beattie and fear at the Beda: what will "they" do

There is a very interesting article on dear old Tina Beattie and Roehampton University on Deacon Nick's excellent blog. Fr Marsden has a very good comment on what the relevant authorities ought to be doing about her anyone who styles themselves a Catholic theologian, not of course that she does, she teaches "Catholic studies", but it is not her that concerns me. It is another matter than should concern "the relevant authorities" both here and in Rome, it purports to be from someone called John Paul Ng.

A countryman was frightened to return to Beda College, Rome this year where he is studying for priesthood.
Last year one student almost killed by another there in a drunken fight. His jaw was dislocated, his skull fractured, his life and his sight was almost lost.
It seems like a very bad place.
I don't know if this true, if it is not, I, and I am sure Deacon Nick would be pleased to be informed, especially if it is untrue but if students are afraid to return to one of our seminaries because of a culture of violence, of all things, this is a very serious matter indeed and the "relevant authorities" must do something, and do something quickly.
I just get reports that the Beda reflects the "Catholic studies" department of Roehampton and in general the staff there seem to be pro-female ordination and against the Magisterium, in that vague 1970s way seminaries used have.

Both these are related it seems to me, both orthodoxy and charity (in the sense of beating your brother to a bloody pulp) in our Catholic institutions are the responsibility of our bishops and ultimately of the Congregation for Eduction.

Come to judge the quick and the dedde

One of the problems of being an aging and solitary celibate is not having a wife or superior to nag you about visiting the doctor; I wasn't too well the other week, in fact I had a few symptoms that suggested I might be quite ill but they have passed now but these things get one thinking a bit about death. Most priests either die in a nursing home or are found dead when parishioners turn up for Mass and there is no one to say it. Death is the only certain fact in all of our lives.

Father Hugh Thwaites used to tell priests, "most priests go to hell", it is not original it is patristic. St Theresa apparently said that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops, and presumably after an encounter with an obdurate Parish Priest, also said that their skulls too served the same purpose.

Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell have passed from the thinking of most Catholics, I don't think Eschatology features highly in the theological formation of most priests. Christ as the dredde Lord with woundes redde will come to judge the quick and the dedde is not an idea at the forefront of contemporary Christology.

Judgement is the bite of Jesus' own teaching, it seems to be the subject of half of his parables, and so much of the rest of the New Testament is about Heaven and union with Christ. In contrast neither seems to be a significant part of either preaching or evangelisation today. The reason is obvious: today most people do not believe in a personal God and for most belief in this life is all, and for those who do believe in God, God is love and will not reject anything he has created. Therefore any talk of anything beyond death is unreal, obscurantist, rather hard, so much for Christ!

Father Lucie-Smith discusses a letter of Fr Andrew Pinsent, both are priests of my diocese, in which Fr Andrew suggests that this presents a serious problem in our participation in the “drama of salvation”. I agree with both and would add that a loss of eschatogical teaching is indicative of a lack of hope in today's Church.

The great divide between Christians and the rest of mankind is, or should be, our hope. Christ does something momentous, he changes our very anthropology. Life for us does not end in decomposition or an urnful of ash but in our eternal Life: Death is not the end! Neither is our life, or what we do in it, inconsequential but each decision, each action has momentous consequences.

A loss of the eschatological really does mean we have nothing to say to anyone, for ultimately our message is about redemption and salvation. centred not just on the Resurrection of Christ but ours too and his coming as judge of the living and the dead. If we are evangelise effectively then we need to clarify our message of what salvation means

Become a friend of Una Voce International

I received this email

Dear Father,
The FIUV has recently approved the creation of ‘Friends of the International Federation Una Voce’. We hope that individuals of good will across the world will take the opportunity to support the work of FIUV and to keep themselves informed about its activities.  We are inviting them to send us a few contact details: name, e-mail address, Country of residence, and to make an annual donation through the FIUV website.  In return, we will put them on a circulation list for FIUV publications and regular news bulletins and Mass will be offered for them each month, whether living or dead. 
It would be extremely kind if you could let the readers of your excellent blog know about this initiative.  This text might be a useful summary:
Become a ‘Friend of the International Federation Una Voce’.  It’s an easy way to support the work of the Federation for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and to keep yourself informed about its activities. You can become a Friend by e-mailing your details to and making an annual donation using the PayPal button on  Please give your name, e-mail address and Country of residence. 
You will be included on the mailing list for publications and regular bulletins but your details will not be shared with others.

Two Masses will be offered in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite each month, one for living and one for deceased 'Friends of the International Federation Una Voce’.


In case you haven’t seen it, I recently gave an interview, as the official spokesman for the Coetus Internationalis pro Summorum Pontificum, about the pilgrimage to Rome in November in support of the Holy Father.  You and the readers of your blog are, of course, especially welcome to come.
God bless,

Thomas Murphy

SecretaryFœderatio Internationalis Una Voce

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Primacy of Liturgical Law

Sometime ago a friend was rebuked by his bishop for saying the Corpus Domini nostri .... and the Sanguinis Domini nostri ... before receiving Holy Communion at a concelebrated Mass. He had to show the bishop that it was in the Missal, the bishop had obviously never bothered to read the texts of the Mass he said daily, let alone read the rubrics! His ignorance is perhaps a reason why one hears from those who should know better that Liturgical Law is somehow less binding than the rest of Canon Law. For those who believe Lex Credendi, Lex Orandi, Liturgical Law is the safeguard of what we believe, when the law breaks down so inevitably will the faith, so  Liturgical Law obviously must have a certain primacy.

The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, Raymond Cardinal Burke recently underlined this in the conclusion to an address to the Kenya Canon Law Convention:

[L]iturgical law must enjoy the primacy among canonical norms, for it safeguards the most sacred realities in the Church. It is interesting to note that in his first Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis, Blessed Pope John Paul II confronted the abuse of general confession and general absolution, of the essentially personal encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance, reminding us both of the right of the penitent to such an encounter and the right of Christ Himself,[xlvii] and that, in his last Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, he urgently addressed abuses of the Church’s discipline regarding the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.[xlviii] In Ecclesia de Eucharistia, he declared: 
I consider it my duty, therefore, to appeal urgently that the liturgical norms for the celebration of the Eucharist be observed with great fidelity. These norms are a concrete expression of the authentically ecclesial nature of the Eucharist; this is their deepest meaning. Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated. The Apostle Paul had to address fiery words to the community of Corinth because of grave shortcomings in their celebration of the Eucharist resulting in divisions (schismata) and the emergence of factions (haereses) (cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34). Our time, too, calls for a renewed awareness and appreciation of liturgical norms as a reflection of, and a witness to, the one universal Church made present in every celebration of the Eucharist. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church.[xlix] 
As is always the case, knowledge and observance of canonical discipline frees us from the false impression that we must make the Sacred Liturgy interesting or stamp it with our personality, and frees us to be the instruments by which the presence of Christ, the Good Shepherd, among His people is rendered more visible, and the action of the Sacred Liturgy bears His stamp alone. ....

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...