Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Liturgical Colours

A good green can be made by taking copper placing it in a sealed crock with strong vinegar and burying it in a dung heap for some months, the dung supplies a constant heat source which speeds up the chemical reaction. This what my icon painters directory tells me is the best way of producing green. Of course green can be obtained from vegetable sources but in tends to be fugitive.
Most colours come from minerals, mainly clays and are in the range of yellows, browns and reds, even a rather pale blue, you just need to spend a great deal deal of time grinding.
Blue could be made by grinding lapis lazuli from Afghanistan but it was more expensive than gold.
Mineral colours are fine for painting because they are held in suspension but for dying cloth you need the colour to penetrate the fabric therefore it needs to be totally soluble. Therefore vegetable dyes tended to be used, the problem is that they tend to fade. What was available tended to determine liturgical colours.
Black was a natural colour, black wool came from black sheep or goats, it could also be obtained from, squid or octopus, or vegetable galls though it would have tended to be black red/green/blue rather than a solid black. Black ink was used in thimblefuls, black dye needed to be used by the barrelful.
White came from the natural colour of the fabric, and from removing colour, bleaching, the problem with white was keeping it clean. Any decoration would tend to be bleached by cleaning it. It was literally a non-colour.
Greens were made from verdigris, as in the process above, but also from lichens and other vegetable sources.
Red was more problematic, its source was either the crushed cochineal beatle, which gave a deep red that was quite colour fast and bright, or else from the madder root, which gave a deep pinkish red but tended to fade over time.
Urine, either animal or human, gave various reasonably fast colours ranging from pale yellow to orange or even an orangey-red, by feeding animal on various food stuffs the colour coul be changed.
A sort of purple/red could be produced by beets, it could be brightened by mixing it with urine or lichen, but I think the deep purple of the modern beetroot wasn't widely available.
Blue was widely available but it tended to be rather dark, the colour of jeans, from woad or later indigo, it was used in the Sarum Rite for clergy dress; "blue cloth" was a major English export.
Blue, yellow, green, russet, brown vestments seem to have been common vestment colours in the dissolution records of monasteries and churches.
The ancient precious royal colours of royal blue or purple made from crushed and fermented molluscs or deep red from the cochineel beatle were very expensive, it wasn't until the industrial revolution that these colours could be produced cheaply, bright purple seems to have been the most difficult, as opposed to muddy violet.
The liturgical colour white until the 15th century, at least, was unlikely to have been plain white, an alb could be bleached, a chasuble or other vestment would have to be stripped of its decoration before it was cleaned, hence it would be more likely to be a pale version of another colour. Its preciousness came from the care to keep it pristine. Black was much easier to deeal with, it simply didn't show soot and sweat and grime. Hence its use for Requiems and mourning, it was cheap and easily cared for.
In the East white was used for the same purpose but devoid of decoration, untreated cloth or simply bleached.
All this is really to say that the rubric for Requiem Masses calls for either black or purple, or white to be used. I have always presumed white was for Asian communities where white is the traditional colour of mourning, it is not "festal" white but dull and unembellished rather like the unbleached Lenten array of Sarum use.

dyed yarn

Bishops Have Been Too Accomodating

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and a member of the Congregation for Bishops

Bishops in the English-speaking world have been too accommodating in their proclamation of Church teaching.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and a member of the Congregation for Bishops, said: "Sometimes we have to give the Church's moral teaching in a political situation where we know it is almost impossible that it is going to be accepted ... Even in those situations we are still obliged prudently and sensibly to present the truth."
Speaking at a press briefing during the Synod on the New Evangelisation in Rome last week, he said: "I would be tempted to say that we have been a little bit too accommodating. And I am not sure that it has worked to our benefit."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Is it time for a new Missal?

I have always felt the Mass of the Pauline Missal, even when sung in the better French monasteries reflected the style and fashion of its time, a bit like flaired trousers and the Beatles.
One of my parishioners tells of a parish where ancient strummers bashout the Israeli Mass and Kum-by-ya, and another where all the music is accompied by tamboreen - presumable for the young people!

The problem is that marrying fashion -well it never works - it leaves us in a time warp.

Having got rid of the old ICEL translations with its almost "hey Mate" language, we can see more easily the rather impressive construction that Buginini manufactured. Like it or not it is impressive and like it or not it is manufactured. One can debate the wisdom of allowing one man such influence in presenting the theology and spirituality of the Catholic Church and at one particular time and formulating it into the Missal of Paul VI, which has been the very architecture of our Catholic Faith for forty years..

Having done a root and branch reconstruction once, why should we not do it again? The Pauline Missal was supposed to meet the needs of its time, that time was forty years ago. The Synod presented a picture of a Church and world quite different from the Church and world of the Council, our needs are different. Wouldn't it be wise to do it every generation, every forty years?

I am sure that if a group of experts were gathered today their constituency would be different, there might be a few anthropologists amongst them and a few psychologists, and not to mention a greater number of non-Europeans - not to mention a few women, possibly their orientation might be different too, not so much to the now dying Protestant ecclesial communities of Europe but to the liturgical Forms of Orthodoxy and having some regard for the culture of Africa and Asia. I once heard a very left-wing priest Indian priest, much into "inculturation", describe the Missal as "the last throe of western Imperialism", over the top, yes but there is a sense in which I feel forced to agree with him. Cardinal Ranjith has spoken about enculturation.

The new ICEL translations were at pains to uncover something of the reverence of Bugnini's original texts, the old translators, in the "Spirit of the Council" had done their best to obliterate suggestions of obeisance, of the gulf between man and God, and indeed much of theocratic and theocentric language. In fact what they did was merely follow what had happened with the rubrics of the Mass. The removal all those numerous signs of reverence which even in the rather stark traditional Roman Rite expressed visually what the "unveiled" Bugnini texts say. The stripping of the rubrics more than changing the text changed the form of the Mass for most people.

In the 1970s in the wake of the Pauline Missal, the Blessed Sacrament was often relegated to a side chapel, as in the Diocese of Brentwood. There was even talk of the abolition of Exposition and Benediction, Marian devotion was often forbidden, or treated as something for the unsophisticated. These things are making a tremendous comeback and certainly are producing vocations and people who take prayer seriously. I suspect the reason is simply that the Pauline Missal is deficient in this regard and people look outside of the Mass for these things.

Should they?
Even the casual observer of Mass celebrated according to the Missal of the Blessed John XXII will notice the extended silences, which now are an important part of Exposition, something people seem to yearn for. The casual observer to will notice that after the consecration there are the constant reverences which are given to the Sacred Species by the priest which have almost totally been stripped from the Mass in the Pauline Missal, after the Consecration there is no external sign that anything has happened. Indeed there are very few actions in the entire Missal that denote worship.

Could these things which are not alien to the Roman Rite and which people are searching for elsewhere not be restored to the Mass itself?
The Pope's call for "mutual enrichment" would suggest that a the free exchange of elements from either Missal should be the norm, yet time and again we are reminded that the Sacred Liturgy is something "given". and the priest is not free to introduce or to change anything, and yet despite Bugnini's famous diktat that even if the rubrics of the Pauline Missal are unclear one shouldn't assume they are the same as the previous Missal, yet it is precisely to previous Missal and rulings that we must turn in order to understand the Pauline rubrics, for example how to elevate the Sacred Host and Chalice.

There is a vast difference in introducing elements from the previous Missal into the Pauline celebration when the rubrics are ambiguous or debatable than introducing things that lack antiquity and do not belong to the Roman Rite. The Pope himself gives us a clue when as Supreme Legislator he writes to the Bishops of the Latin Rite, "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful".

There are pretty obvious possibilities here. Whereas it would probably be wrong to remove the Penitential Rite to before the Mass starts (the Penitential Rite in the Mass is a Bugnini innovation), would it be wrong to have preparatory prayers in the sanctuary -as most of the ancient Rites do- before Mass itself actually starts?
I have always wondered if it would be a gross violation of the rubrics to turn off the microphones in Westminster Cathedral during the Eucharistic Prayer, and if you did that and the prayer was silent or heard merely by the ministers would be wrong to say part of it whilst the choir was singing? Could you reproduce that effect in parish church and have a silent Canon? Cardinal Piacenza lowers his voice considerably during the Canon.

Would it be wicked to incense according the older rubrics, or genuflect before as well as after the Consecrations? Must I really make a superhuman effort to avoid using the older rubrics for the Roman Canon? I so often find I am making the Signs of the Cross without even thinking about, is it a matter for Confession? Then of course there is genuflecting at other times, other than when at the altar does the  rule apply even if the Blessed Sacrament is reserved on the sanctuary? Obviously one doesn't do it during a procession but is a priest processing when he his merely walking across the sanctuary because he has left his glasses on the other side or just about to begin the Gospel procession?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stripping of the Ceremonies: a Novus Ordo Problem

Fr Mark wrote sometime ago agreeing with me on Eucharistic adoration; we both think it is a good thing, we are just worried about it becoming casual, detracting from worship of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle; but read Father Mark's rather good article.
Recently, he wrote comparing the two different "Forms" of Mass, he speaks about the "latreutic finality of the Mass", basically what he is saying is that the older form is more evidently about worship, latria, and he gives plenty of practical examples.

There are some excellent priests, and even bishops, going around basically saying every problem of today's Church will be solved by getting the Blessed Sacrament out of the tabernacle and into a monstrance on the altar. Then we will have vocations, committed marriages open to life, prayerful priests and people, etc. etc. but interestingly they point to places where this actually happens. Certainly it seems to have an effect but I am still suspicious about it. What I suspect it is all about is latria; Exposition makes up for the absence for the absence of latria in the Novus Ordo.
I can't help wondering whether the great weakness of the Novus Ordo is that in the decade or so when it was composed, was actually a time the Church was having a crisis with the notion of worship. The brilliant young liturgical scholar Fr Uwe Michael Lang gave us a brief history of the Liturgical Movement at the CCC Colloquium, he seemed to have been suggesting that worship, beyond texts, was not one of its priorities, that academic liturgists have not been very interest in the "performance" of the Liturgy. Thus orientation, signs of reverence and worship were stripped away without much protest but these were the very thing that were most noticeable to the ordinary Catholic and formed their liturgical, theological, spiritual and even moral consciousness.
I suspect more than that happened, the stripping of the ceremonies led very directly to a theology that tended to strip God of his divinity, There is a very interesting heresy in this years Tablet lecture, some American journalist says of VII, "they didn’t come up with a new understanding of God. Still one God, two natures, three persons"  which the great Fr Z points out. It is obviously a slip of the tongue but in many ways it illustrates the Tablet's and others default heresy: that of seeing God, even in his Triune nature as being like us, rather than the Second Person alone having two natures. If God shares our nature then we need not genuflect, kneel, humble ourselves in his presence, ultimately there is no need for the Incarnation, the Church,  Salvation. Is that not really why we need a Synod on Evangelisation? because we have lost an understanding that Man must worship.
The problem is the Novus Ordo does not demand we worship with anything more than words!

I must admit I tend working on the principle of "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful" I tend to use at least some of the signs of reverence in the newer Form from the older Form, at least to the point of genuflecting each time I cross before the tabernacle. I am tempted to genuflect before and after each elevation. It was certainly the reason for our decision to celebrate most Masses here according to the clear rubrics of the Missal: ad apsidem (incidentally this is a priest's choice, as much as the choice of Eucharistic Prayers, the CDW has wrapped several Bishops across the knuckles for attempting to interfere in such a choice).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Outside of my comfort zone

Tonight, because it is the Year of Faith, I am going to pray outside the local abortion clinic with my parishioners. It is something I do from time to time myself but not something I do publicly or in company. I find something distasteful about prayer as protest, prayer is about recollection and is theocentric, protest is something else. There is group of evangelical Protestants who stand outside the clinic with banners and hand out anti-abortion leaflets, hoping to change the minds of mothers and others. I respect what they do but it isn't what I feel comfortable with, I hate "praying at" people, it is too Protestant for me I prefer to "pray for" people.
Like most post-VII Catholics I am not exactly comfortable with public prayer outside of Church, it is something I intend to address during the Year of Faith, by making "acts of Faith" and inviting others to join me.
Serendipidously Fr Stephen Wang, writing on "40 Days for Life" says this today:
With this public prayer, part of the purpose is to show that prayer matters, that there is another way of changing hearts, that we’re not alone in our struggles and sufferings – but that God is with us. This may sound a bit ‘pharisaical’. Didn’t Jesus ask us to shut the door and pray in private? Yes, but he also prayed with and for people, drawing them into his own prayer, and witnessing to the central importance of that prayer for all people.
He goes on to say
Another miracle is the effect that the vigil has had on so many of those who work in the abortion clinics. Over the years, internationally, quite a few abortion workers have had powerful conversion experiences, or small changes of heart, that have led them to leave the clinics and find work elsewhere. This isn’t because they have been pressured into this, but because through the witness of those on the vigil they have had the opportunity of seeing others who see things differently. The witness to life gives another way of looking at the world, another possibility, that awakens something deep in their hearts, and actually fits with what they secretly believed all along.
If you can't join us pray for us. If you want to join us, come along to the Traditional Mass tonight at 7pm and then join us afterwards. This is a little experiment, a little stretching of my comfort zone and that of our congregation. It is important to step out of what is comfortable and to make such signs of faith to ourselves. Who knows, enough of the them and we might start living by faith!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

Both Fr Simon and Fr Tim have brief accounts Confraternity of Catholic Clergy Colloquium, the picture is courtesy of the Fr Tim.
I was pleased that the numbers this year had doubled, just under a hundred came to the Colloquium and the number who belong to the Confraternity is now a couple of hundred priests. I am told there are also a large number of lay associates, though I am not quite sure what benefits they receive, except the joy of knowing they support such a fine body of loyal priests.
What I am pleased by is the rapid growth, from my own diocese last year there were only two of us but this time there were six priests, the finest flower of our Presbytery.
Little by little the regional Chapters are growing but the areas they cover are vast, as the Northern convener said, "we cover the North, that includes Scotland" and Western region includes Wales. The great difficulty is organising much outside of London, so the Colloquium itself is the major event which for priests who can't get to anything else is the only event.
I don't like joining things, frankly I don't like most clergy meetings but the Confraternity is different: Fidelity,          Formation and Fraternity are important to us. The old now defunct National Conference of Priests -I hope it is defunct - used to give me the creeps, every year we got a mailing denouncing this or that action of the Holy See, it was a sort of priest's trade union, with delegates from dioceses and role within the structure of the Bishop's Conference, I never felt it represented me. There is none of that stuff, the only resolution we passed was one of loyal thanks to the Holy Father for his service to the Church. What gives me immense pleasure with members of the Confraternity is the sense that above everything we are Catholic priests. Fidelity gives us something really very important from which the other aims of the Confraternity: Formation and Fraternity naturally spring.

As dissident groups of priests and lay-people grow throughout Europe, the CCC movement in the English speaking world will become more important. At the moment in the UK it is still a work in progress, it needs more members and needs to bed down a bit. The original intention was not just to meet put to publish and also to arrange events for lay people to and maybe to have some formal interaction with the Bishop's Conference - in the same way dissident groups do.

Join, if you are a priest; if you are lay person become an Associate.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Not All Shall Have Prizes

I was away at the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy UK Colloquium,which was great fun, just short by two or three of 100, almost twice as many as last year but more on that later.
There was a sprinkling people who worked in the some of the Vatican dicasteries, as well Archbishop di Noia. There was an interesting discussion last night, not with the Archbishop, someone said there will be a new consistory announced soon and the interesting thing will be the people not given a red hat!

And today a new consistory was announced and the cardinals-designate are:

  • Archbishop James Harvey, 63, the Milwaukee-born prefect of the Papal Household (who, Benedict said today, he will soon name as archpriest of the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls); 
  • Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai, 72, the Lebanon-based head of the worldwide, 5 million-member Maronite church; 
  • Major Archbishop Basilios Cleemis, 53, head of India's Syro-Malankara church – the first hierarch from the 600,000-member community to receive the red hat (and, by two years, set to become the youngest cardinal); 
  • Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja (Nigeria), 68 
  • Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogotá, 70 
  • Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, 55; head of Asia's largest diocese
And the interesting thing is those not given a red hat.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fanon shmanon

The Pope wears the fanon and there is excitement on the traddie blogosphere, the same when he uses the pontifical dalmatic, a latin chasuble, or the papal canopy makes a brief appearance or even when the Pope gives Holy Communion only to communicants kneeling and on the tongue.

The truth is those who notice these thing notice these things, the rest of God's Church smile and mutter, "he would, wouldn't he?" and carry on with doing what they have always done. Leading by example is fine but really who follows the example? It is surely only a very small minority of priests and an even smaller minority of bishops. For the great majority, such examples have no impact whatsoever. Indeed what Benedict XVI does is in no way binding on his successor who might well lock the sacristy door, get rid of Guido Marini and bring back Pietro.

Examples are fine but aren't they really about personal idiosyncrasy? As one of the assistants in a famous Roman clerical fashion house said, "This Pope, he likes that sort of thing, the next Pope, who knows."

There is talk about "Reform of the Reform" but is it real? Bishops are still being appointed who on principle will never celebrate  according to the other Form of the Roman Rite. Wander around the Pope's own diocese there a still those lopsided altar arrangements, still the bands of adolescents singing daft songs through mics with ghastly percussive guitars, still no provision for receiving Holy Communion kneeling, still verbose priests who preach four or five sermons during one Mass.

The sighting of a fanon does not tell us summer has come.
It is legislation that is needed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Excessive Lourdes Water!

The Canadian Experience of Marriage Legislation

A little video about the effects the change in marriage laws in Canada (thanks to JS), it seems like mad, mad place.

The Attorney General suggests the same thing will happen here, so too does the C4M's tame QC, Aidan O’Neill.

Manipulation of Language

Ever since reading Orwell's 1984 I have been concerned by how governments, and others, manipulate language. The control of language is about the control of the thought which gives substance to our being. This why those who control the media, and the arts too, are so powerful.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin made the following intervention at the Synod on Evangelisation a few days ago.

The challenge of language is especially felt in those countries where English dominates and which are often greatly influenced by linguistic philosophies with known epistemological challenges. There is however a further challenge of the day-to-day language, not just of the media, but of a culture of the manipulation of language and the management of information where the meaning of words is changed and manipulated for commercial, ideological or political motives.
A strongly individualist vocabulary is often developed and then applied in areas such area of human sexuality, where the concepts of relationship and mutuality of the sexes become obscured. Such language can become enshrined in an individualistic understanding of human rights language, with a consequent distortion of juridical and political language. The notion of right becomes separated from its ontological roots. Individual rights are treated as absolutes or attributed a dominant place over and against other rights and responsibilities.
Let me give one current example from public debate in Ireland. In discussions advocating the legalization of marriage between homosexual persons, the terms of the debate are shifting from ‘same-sex marriage’ to ‘marriage equality’. The debate is thus moved away from any debate on the nature of human sexuality into one apparently of equal rights.
Such a manipulation of language and meaning is cleverly developed to shape the debate in society about public morality in a particular direction. The concept of dialogue as robust confrontation of ideas in the search for the truth is replaced by vague interpretations of consensus and tolerance.

My thanks to Pastor Emeritus.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Missing from the Synod: a Sign of Hope

We have heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the President of the American Bible Society, the Patriach of Constantinople at the Synod on Evangelisation, well bless them but the dear old CofE in the West is dying visibly, the American Bible-belt is slipping and although I admire Bartholomew I there are less Orthodox Christians in Constantinople than most rural Greek diocese.

I haven't followed every intervention but most seem to be reflections on failure rather than success or thoughts on what we ought to do, rather than what actually works.

The one Church that is growing both numerically and in influence in Europe that doesn't seem to be given a high profile at the Synod is the Russian Orthodox. Alessio Schiesari presents a few statistics showing its recovery.

People are pretty disparaging about both the Patriarchate and the Patriarchate and his involvement with Putin but that should not overshadow the significance of the re-emergence of the Orthodox Church after 50 years of gosateizm which included a bloody destruction of the heirarchy, mass murder, mass deportations, imprisonment, torture, social ostracism, cultural destruction, state sponsored anti-religious education or re-eduction, in fact everything the State and local party officials could do to remove the Orthodox Church from the cultural and moral scene was done.

Glasnost came into being because Soviet Communism simply could no loger hold the Union together or hold onto power, it was shown to be bankrupt in every sense. Glasnost itself was really a vacuum, an act of dismantling, it covered the shrinking of the state but offered nothing. Whilst we heard of starving and freezing babushkas, alcholism, organised crime and corruption, family break-up, excessive wealth set against unemployment and poverty the Orthodox seemed to emerge, often literally from frozen wastes. With few clergy, badly catechised laity, few diocesan or parochial structures the Orthodox Church has emerged as one one of the most dynamic forces in Russia.

Its problems are similar to those we have in the West, the difference is that the Church sees itself as being "missionary". A Russian friend said, "For us, since the Revolution it has always been 'evangelise or die' but what the dark days taught us was the importance of a deeply rooted spirituality". In a world which was so bleak for the Orthodox Church it learnt to recognise signs of hope, the value of suffering and to discern what are false dawns.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What is needed?

As part of my own Year of Faith efforts, to boost my faith as much anyone else's, I have decided to go down to our soup run a bit more often this year.
We had about forty there there the other night, practically all men. We try not to be like Evangelical Christians and although the food is made with a great deal of prayer and devotion, we don't attach any "devotional element" to giving out food. We work on to simple premise: Christ tells us to feed the hungry, we feed. It is simple obedience to Jesus' words. Many of those who come do not know who we are or why my parishioners do it.
When I am there many of the men k/now me from the Church door, or having come to my house, so it is quite easy to talk a bit about God to individuals, but more especially because living on the streets brings them into direct contact with Divine Providence. They want to talk for many prayer is pretty constant, even if it is: God keep me from being knifed tonight or don't let me be lonely or don't let starve or freeze to death. Their own hunger witnesses to all kinds of other hungers: for God ultimately, but also for affection, kindness, for a warm dry place to spend the night and for drink and drugs and for sex too.

From time to time someone wants to be baptised. There is no way most could come along to an RCIA course or even for regular instruction, even the retention of much catechesis is rather difficult. For many it would be possible to communicate the doctrine of the Trinity pretty easily in terms of relationship because that is what they are really hungering for; ultimately to know God as loving Father. Forgiveness too they understand, being "sorry" is very much part of their lives, as is forgiving those who abuse, and dehumanise them. "Sin" is a bit difficult, extremes of poverty, like extremes of wealth give its own gloss to understanding Jesus' teaching and brings with it its own invincible ignorance.

The big problem is practice, and having regularity in lives that are often disordered by low level crime, psychiatric illness and social problems which are rooted, often, in dysfunctional childhoods. As far as desire for union with God in is concerned it is there but my difficulty is their ability to fit into the Church and its sacramental structures.

What does the Church do for the man who kneels and prays in the gutter, who wants what the sacraments can give but are always going to be out of step with the Church?
It is that old Catholic thing of what is the minimum of Christian practice, knowledge and behaviour necessary to receive be part of the Church's sacramental life. In many RCIA groups it is often just a matter of turning-up for the course, and being able to fill-in the forms, rather than anyone making a judgement about the particular candidate having a deep desire for Christ..

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

So Much for Voltaire

The story of the Canadian minister who wishes to ban Catholics teaching the evil of abortion under the countries mysogny laws, the black, deaf diversity officer who was suspended for signing a petition for a referendum on "gay marriage", my own MP who wants to ban Christian ministers marrying anyone, if they won't "marry" same sex couples, are all signs of political or legal positivism.

An American priest friend, Fr Z, put up on his blog recently a short video about Western versus Islamic birthrate, I don't know about the States but here it would be considered racist, I ceratainly thought that when I saw it. Cardinal Turkson came in for the same criticism, principly from North Americans Euopeans. It is the same video as was shown in the Synod Hall!

 I agree there are lies, damned lies and statistics, and statistics can be managed, massaged and manipulated.

What I see as being a serious problem is the shutting down of debate by political correctness, which is just a gnat's whisker away from forbidding by law. For example, we can't any longer discuss the health problems involved in certain sexual practices, the effects of having both parents working on a child, or having a absent father or multiple partners on the social develpopment of a child. There so many other areas which are simply not spoken about today, it is a new type of  fundamentalim.

Listen to this, from yesterday's BBC Today Programme (1.29) it is Mehdi Hasan trying to discuss his problem with abortion with the Guardians, Suzanne Moore. That is where progress seems to be leading us. Debate, as in the case of Cameron's redefinition of marriage will be made impossible, first of all activists screaming at us, then by politicians trailing the bizarre, and then by the constraints of law. So much for Voltaire's: I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

The growing facism of the illiberal left (even if they are on the right, like Cameron) is quite frightening, it bodes ill for society's cohesion and civilised debate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Saints and Airbrushing History

The dying Emperor Augustus cried out, "I'm becoming a God!"
It strikes me dying Popes might cry out, "I am becoming a Beatus!"
Apparently Paul VI might be declared "Blessed" next year, John XXIII is already beatified as is John Paul II, there is strong lobby for Pius XII and of course John Paul I, I have always had a sneaking admiration for Pius XI but no-one else is that interested.
My Orthodox friends are horrified by the haste of some of our beatifications and canonisation, and so I am I. I am not sure what we mean any longer when we beatify someone or canonise them, in the past three criteria where necessary:

  1. They were in heaven: proved by miracles
  2. They had an enduring and wellfounded cultus
  3. Their holiness was outstanding and an example to the faithful
Obviously those who have been beatified and canonised fulfil all of these requirements, however there does seem to be a danger of writing history with an airbrush in our present day haste to raise certain individuals to the altar. Although in all cases there is holiness, in many there seem to be many other issues too. Too often beatification/canonisation can be seen as a political act, placing the Blesseds or Saints actions and words beyond question.
There is always the danger when the following generation beatify their benefactors, their teachers, friends, patrons and masters that it is ideas that are being raised to the altar rather than individuals, it is a piece of nepotism, even more worrying than that of the Borgias
In the case of St Jose-Maria Escriva who was certainly outstanding but with the extreme haste of his canonisation one wonders quite what influence Opus Dei and its money, and the political situation in Spain at the time of his death,  had on the speed of his canonisation. Would a great deal really have been lost by letting the euphoria following his death have settled down for a few decades and for his cultus to have bedded down more firmly in the Church outside of Opus Dei and Spain before his canonisation?
In the case of Pius XII there are obvious questions being asked both inside and outside the Church, not just about his wartime record but also about his private life, which seems to be a little eccentric: that nun, the monkey glands, for example. 
Paul VI, "Hamlet" as his predecessor called him, is possibly even more ambiguous, he certainly suffered, he lived with self-doubt all his life, he was too ill even to attend seminary, even in his lifetime there were rumours about blackmail, which were spread by his enemies, but which have never been answered. I wonder is it right for someone with so many enemies to be raised to the altar, shouldn't a reconciliation be necessary first?

I am not arguing for or against the raising to the altar of anyone, just simply expressing mistrust of  "Santo subito". Had Marcel Maciel's crimes been a little better hidden, it would not be difficult to imagine him carried to the altar by the money and enthusiasm of his followers. Again I ask would waiting a century do any harm? In the age of the global village would expecting "many" miracles, increasing the number be a problem? Would demanding a strong widespread and deep seated cultus be too much to ask?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peasants, Plebs and Snobbery

Coat of arms of the Diocese of Speyer under Cardinal Damian Hugo Graf von Schönborn in Bruchsal (Coat of Arms at Bruchsal Castle)
I found this comment on a blog, it describes Pope John XXIII, I suspect it was one of those "that just got through", so in this instance I don't blame the magazine itself, but I was horrified by the snobbery of this particular reader:-
He was an avuncular Italian peasant who delighted, as peasants do, in such fripperies. Fortunately there fewer such people in positions of power in today's Church.
It reminded me of the alleged "plebs" remarks of the Chief Whip and also of those stories of a certain rather prominent Dominican Cardinal who when not holding a balloon at Mass or discussing theology seems most happily at home talking about his own family coat armour, quarterings.
Wise Mgr Gilbey once speaking about a particular group of Catholics who were into these things as "doing so very little good with the greatest possible amount of fuss".
It strikes me that one of the things Sunday's Gospel seemed to underline was leaving these baubles behind. I simply can't understand why really very good and holy clergy and laymen are into these things but then I suppose maybe they can't understand my fascination for lute music of the English Golden Age but then that doesn't seem to want to make distinction between people.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ecumenical [Οἰκουμενικόν] means "Worldwide"

My Greek is not that hot but I do know Οἰκουμενικόν as in Ecumenical Council means "Worldwide" or "General" Council, it doesn't mean the same as getting together with other Christians as this guy implies. This is the type of ignorant tosh that gives ignorant tosh pedlars a bad name.
I've heard it countless times before.

It rather puts you off of buying a second-hand dodgy Cathedral from him, though possibly it makes him a good candidate to buy one.
p.s. What is a "worship space"?

sorry if I'm just being unkind

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Acts of Faith

 Having spent my whole life as a Catholic discussing things, chattering, especially the Vatican Council, I think it should be time to act, fine to talk about the Church and the world but let's start to think about bringing Christ into the world. I like this video about a street artist, I would love the employ him for a week or two, to paint shrines around Brighton,
but there are other things we can do.

  • One things I must do is to put a crucifix or a statue in a window.

I really have an aversion to the Blessed Sacrament flash mob thing, it seems demeaning to take the Lord out of a suitcase but there are proper Corpus Christi Processions. However I have no problem with

  • Marian flash mobs, 
  • Crucifix flash mobs, 
  • Gregorian chant flash mobs,

Our religion is rich in signs a symbols we should use them

  • Does anyone know where I can get some cheap Rosaries and Rosary cards? In the Year of Faith it would be great distribute a few thousand.
  • The same with miraculous medals, does anyone have a source? I love the idea of blessing tons of them and getting people to pass them on.
  • I remember in Athens seeing a huge bowl of sweets outside of a church with a sign saying something like "Today is the feast of St Xxxx, share in her sweetness". We could put up statue of Our Lady and do the same thing.
  • Then there are mass distributions of prayer cards

Getting people to pray together is a bit difficult, 
  • I must get a supply of little bottles for Lourdes water and encourage people to pray with the sick. 
  • We have the November blessing of graves here in Brighton, I'll try and get more people go
  • We must also get people to pray there at Easter especially with lapsed friends and encourage people to take Paschal Water and Easter candles for the graves.
We can't keep our church open all the time, things get stolen, drug addicts use it to shoot up in and leave syringes around
  • We could get people to open up the church and advertise the times the previous week
  • I would like to celebrate the Office, preferably sing it but the books are so expensive, does anyone know of any online resources?
One of the things we will start doing is go and say the Rosary outside the local abortion clinic, I do it myself occasionally but during the Year of Faith it would be good to get others to come with me.

If anyone has anymore ideas for Acts of Faith leave them in the Combox.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Suggestions for the Year of Faith

I like Bishop Egan's first Pastoral Letter, in it he makes suggestions for the Year of Faith, good sensible things, well worth reading if you haven't done so yet.
In comparison I have been reading this Sunday's Gospel, it is the rich young man asking, "What must I do  inherit eternal life?" The answer Jesus gives is to tell him to keep the commandments. He does, so he asks Jesus what more must he do, "Go sell everything, give the money to the poor, then come follow me," Jesus tells him.

Whenever I read that passage I feel a certain terror, it is not simply that I keep the commandments personally in a minimalist way but I like most priests of my generation, I encourage others to do the minimum too, we are all nervous of excess.

It is probably why we have so little to say to young people today. In the past excess was encouraged, there was a sense that were the body went the soul would follow, it was SAS, Special Forces, Commando spirituality
When it is healthy Christianity is a young people's movement.
So here are few suggestions for the Year of Faith that have appealed to the young in the past:-

  • Seek to be more at home with the Cherubim and Seraphim than with men
  • Go, find a spiritual Master abandon your life and live with him in the desert as his disciple
  • Go and live in solitude in a cave or the cleft of the rock or find a pillar
  • Find a deserted island preferably in sea lane with marauding Vikings around
  • Wear sackcloth, go barefooted winter and summer
  • Fast continuously - mitigate it only on feasts
  • Spend your nights in prayer preferably, for the mortified and Celtic up to your neck in water
  • Recite the whole of the Psalter every day
  • First memorise the whole Bible, then most of the Fathers, sell the books wherein it says "sell everything"
  • Use penitential instruments continually: the hairshirt, the salice, the heavy spike chain girdle, always wear a course rope noose around your neck, use the disciple frequently (warning: stop using any of these if you find you no longer disgusted by them)
  • Go on long pilgrimages without any money or shelter and beg, preferably where your life will be at risk
  • Preach the Gospel anywhere where you will be jeered at, abused and pelted with filth
  • Preach the Gospel in places you are likely to be killed for it
  • Give your life to care for the sick, especially lepers and plague victims
  • Go and live where Christians are persecuted and carry a full sized Cross about with you always
  • Make a habit of kneeling outside churches at night, preferably in the snow

Possible other alternatives are become a faithful monk or nun, if you haven't the stamina for that what about becoming a religious or priest, or be a good faithful husband or wife and parent but don't be a spiritual wuzz!
Avoid minimalism at all costs!

Trying Corpses

Le Pape Formose et Étienne VII ("Pope Formosus and Stephen VII"), 1870. Note the latter is now called Pope Stephen VI.
trial of the cadaver of Pope Formosus
I have always disliked Jimmy Savile and felt there was something creepy about him. Now he is
dead accusations and revelations seem to abound but there is something creepy about putting a corpse on trial, though of course media are trying the BBC and other institutions that gave him access to the vulnerable. There are obviously parallels as Fr Tim has drawn out with the situation of the Church.

A few commentators have suggested values and attitudes have changed, that sexual assault in the work place were common up until a couple of decades ago. Even violent rape against women was often not reported, if it happened against children, at a time when violent physical assault against them was part of official school discipline, it was not believed. Juries sought to excuse sexual crimes, the judiciary was far from sympathetic and the police ..., well I remember a women who had been raped saying to me her interrogation by the police was like being raped yet again.

Savile rose to fame against a culture which extolled sexual promiscuity and deliberately pushed the bounds of sexual taboo. Women and girls were expected to be sexually available. Pop culture tended to dehumanise and demean women: baby, doll, bird come to mind from the libretti and popular culture of the time, the time when we "let it all hang out". Conversation in the workplace was peppered with sexual innuendo, as much the walls of the workplace, at least where men worked, were plastered with semi-erotic imagery.

At the moment we are trying individuals and certain institutions but some groups claim that as many as 1 in 4 people have been sexual abused as children. In some environments, such as where there is stepfather or a succession of "uncles" it seems, possibly, to be even higher. It is significant that allegations are bought into the open only after Savile's death. There is an unstable silence amongst victims when they feel isolated, when society in a sense conspires to silence and isolate them, so much so that it is only after two or three dare to speak out that there appears to be a feeding frenzy.

The Catholic Church in New York paid out huge reparations for abuse victims, the New York City Council refused to accept allegations concerning its public schools service claiming it would bankrupt the city. Some people when allegations are made about priests suggest the police tend to go on a "trawling" expedition to find other allegations. personally I see no problem with this, I just wish it could be applied to the rest of society as easily as can be applied to a Catholic parish.

Indeed what the Savile allegations suggest is that sexual abuse is indeed deep seated in society but so too is a culture of cover-up. We need to replace that culture with one of disclosure, but what our society will look like if we did, and whether it would be pleasant to live in or riddled with whispers and suspicion is another matter.

Maybe, too we need to put on trial the cadaver of 1960s/70s then in 40 or 50 years our generation can be dragged to the dock too.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ecclesia Loquens:The Chattering Church

Huge support for ‘A Call to Action’ on Church renewal | A Call to Action, Heythrop College, vatican II, Ellen Teague, Gerard Hughes SJ

be warned this is a rant!
ICN reports on a meeting of "around" 400 people belonging to "Call to Action" who were supposed to meet at the Jesuit run Heythrop College. They seem to have come out with the same old stuff Heythrop has been pushing for the past 40 years, they were doing it when I was a seminarian and will continue until the place crumbles into dust.
There are interesting little snippets in the article such as:-
The first open meeting they organised on 18 July attracted 70 Catholic priests and deacons who shared concerns and discussed the future of the Church. In advance of the second meeting, some organisers had met with Archbishop Vincent Nichols at what was described as a “very good meeting”. Fr Joe Ryan of Westminster Diocese reported that “he agreed that something needs to be done” and “will observe our movement”. 
....young people see hypocrisy in the Church, where, for example, former Anglicans can be married priests but not cradle Catholics. He asked: “How do we make our Church the Church of our children?”
It was the "young people" bit that got me, it is all these old men and women who claim to speak for young people. The truth is young people don't really give a damn, in fact I suspect that young people are bored stiff with "the church endlessly talking about the Church", about the only thing I do agree with Hans Kung on is "when the church speaks about the church it ceases to be the Church". What they seem to be asking for is a Church that has its head up its own fundament forever examining its inner workings, it is the very opposite of the  baseline teaching of Vatican II.

I must say I am already getting bored with discussions about and on VII: yes, I agree with the Pope we must get back to the texts, but so what? I've read and studied Dei Verbum, Sacrosanctum Concillium, Lumen Gentium, they form the basis of my own faith and preaching, as does half of Gaudium et Spes. The other half where there are serious ambiguities I would like clarification on, but truthfully, I can live with that, the more incomprehensible it is the less people really take notice of it. It is scratching the itch of our indisposition, that is just so tedious.

Evangelisation can't be about endless talk and involving people in discussion after discussion after discussion. The real problem I see with VII is that it transformed the "teaching Church" into a "chattering Church", fine for the lower middle classes of suburbia but it has driven anyone else out. Pope John XXIII expected it to last a few weeks, it opened in October, it should have finished by Christmas but it went on for four years. Four years of interminable committee meetings, that transformed the Church, they got used to it, thought that was the nature of the Modern Church, and the Modern Bishop!

The chattering Church is BORING! Jesus taught with authority! He commends the faith of the Centurion who says to his slave, "Come here, do this, and he does it". There are no discussion groups in the Gospels except amongst those who want to destroy Jesus.

This Saturday will see hundreds, I hope thousands, of ordinary Catholics assemble outside Westminster Cathedral at 1.45pm and walk through the streets of London carrying the image of the Blessed Mother to Brompton Oratory; going oneself, inviting friends, this is evangelising, this is "being Church". Bringing people to meet or to obey the Lord, to live by Faith, this I hope is what will happen in the Year of Faith but, good God preserve us from chatter.

Return to the "letter" of the Council

Pope Benedict XVI Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council

Here is an extract from the Popes homily today at the opening of the Year of Faith, read it all here.

I believe that the most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the “letter” of the Council – that is to its texts – also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ann Widdecombe's Speech

This is a video of Ann Widdecmbe at her feisty in her best speech at the C4M meeting during the Birmingham Conservative Party Conference, speaking about the intolerance Cameron's "Gay Marriage" legislation will bring in.
She examines the implications the legislation will have, I think this is well worth passing on and giving maximum publicity to, pass it on by email if you don't have blog.

Try and get Conservative Party members and voters to answer her charges.

I believe in the Resurrection because I believe in the Father

A Harvard neuro-surgeon went into a coma for seven days and came out believing in life after death. I am not convinced.
One of my parishioners almost died and had that "light at the end of the tunnel" experience. She had that experience but she didn't die, so again I am not convinced. Someone else had an experience of seeing herself  lying in a hospital cardiac unit and watching the medics resuscitating her.
I am not sure what these experiences are but they tell us nothing except these experiences seem common to people who are in extremis, they are interesting but not much more than that. I have never taken hallucinogenic drugs but I am told that they can have a similar effect. Whatever their cause they certainly not a foretaste of the life to come, and the prove nothing whatsoever.

For me, I believe in the Resurrection because I believe in a Father who loves me so intensely that he doesn't want to me to be separated from him for any reason -except by my deliberate own choice. For me human grief, the sense of loss, or mourning gives us an insight to the intensity God's own desire for us. It is desire that transcends the gulf between Creator and creature, between God and Man, that overcomes time and space, and even my deadness to Grace and even my own death, and the coldness of the grave.

I believe in the triumph of the Resurrection because I believe that God is my Father, that Jesus Christ has bridged the huge gulf between him and me and that the Holy Spirit despite my continual refusal of his Sanctification has been poured out upon me making me by adoption, what Jesus is by nature, a son.

From Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP

From Fr Armand de Malleray
Altar servers’ weekend (residential): at St John Fisher House in Reading on 26-27-28 October 2012:
For single Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us). Starts on Friday 26 October at 6pm – ends on Sunday 28 October mid-afternoon.
Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, with Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP. In a convivial atmosphere, come and learn (or improve) how to set the vestments and sacred items before Mass and to serve EF Masses and Benediction.
EF Mass on the Friday evening, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. Limited overnight accommodation: please book now. Non residential participants welcome. Cost [for the whole weekend, 2 days + 2 nights, including full board accommodation at St John Fisher House]: no set price for students or unwaged – any donation welcome; others: £50 suggested. Contact: Tel: 0118 966 5284; Email:; website:

There is also a Vocation discernment weekend:
14-15-16 December 2012 at St John Fisher House in Reading: For any English-speaking Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us). 

Starts on Friday 14th December 2012 at 6pm (arrivals from 5pm) – ends on Sunday 16th December 2012 at 3pm. 
Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, assisted by Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP. Location: St John Fisher House.

Hunwicke is Back

Fr John Hunwicke
Returning to a computer near you: Fr Hunwicke!
His blog is now called Mutual Enrichment and in his first post he writes about a visit to Birmingham Oratory where he was present at the clothing of Andrew Wagstaff, who until July was our MC and Rubricist.
We have a new MC but I am searching for someone who will have the skill to be able to ensure everything we do is done in conformity with the mind of the Church.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Abp Müller to act on Soho Masses?

KatholischesMagazin für Kirche und Kultur says that Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller intends to do something about the Soho Masses, quite what, isn't apparent but apparently so many complaints have been made and so little action has been taken that the CDF feels it should act.

Of course the confusion comes from the CDF turning a Nelsonian eye to the whole matter under Cardinal Levada when Bishop Longley, acting on behalf of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, negotiated the community's move from an Anglican Church. To be fair the impression given at the time was that these Masses would be carefully overseen and regulated, subsequently of course Bishop Longley was moved to Birmingham and following Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's retirement, Archbishop Nichols took over at Westminster and things have been left drift.
These Masses were designed to give pastoral care to particular group who sort help from the Church instead people who attended, vulnerable people, some of my parishioners have been there, they found a lobby group for dissent against the Church's teaching "and rather spiritual than help, a gay dating agency", as one said.

The real problem has been a very serious lack of leadership and pastoral oversight. This, and the grave dissent is presumably what Archbishop Müller will want to deal with.
thanks to EpFl

Monday, October 08, 2012

Tories Against Cameron's Redefinition of Marriage

Ann Widdecombe leads the campaign against gay marriage

71% of local Tory Party chairman expressing serious concern over David Cameron's proposal for "gay marriage" saying it is likely to loose them votes rather than win them. I am told even in Brighton and Hove where our own gay MP Mike Weatherley, in all practical senses of the word refuses to discuss the matter, there is serious concern. My parishioners say he just sends them dismissive and contemptuous letters.

At their Birmingham conference any discussion of "gay marriage" has been banned however Ann Widdecombe spoke to a capacity audience of 1,1000 at a fringe meeting in Birmingham City Hall, many others were unable to get in. She ridiculed the idea of getting rid of terms like "husband" and "wife" and replacing them with "partners to the marriage", she also hit out at Cameron's view of freedom:

"No society can be free without the freedom to dissent and no democracy real without the recognition of a plurality of views... David Cameron: Tell me how a party devoted to freedom, a party that has always opposed oppression and the power of the state over the individual, can even contemplate creating such a Britain?"
Speaking a few days ago to a couple of people who have strong contacts with Conservative Central Office, I am told that most MPs just wish this issue will go away. Like Mike Weatherley many have slim or shaky majorities and though personally they might be ambivalent to the either for religious or social reasons, or like Ann Widdecombe because of the freedom issues it raises, they are loathe to put their heads above the parapet, fearing charges of homophobia but on the other-hand so many Tory activists; the door knockers and envelope stuffers are social (small "c") conservatives and are even threatening to withdraw their support, if Cameron goes ahead with this.
Being cynical, I suspect various Tory ministers suggesting recently a lowering of the age at which abortion can take place is sop to those Christians against "gay marriage", an attempt to keep them on board.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Eternal Sound

What was heard before creation came into being, what is the harmonic that underlies, the sound of the cosmos?

Today in Rome begins the Synod on Evangelisation and on Thursday the Year of Faith begins to mark the opening of the 2nd Vatican Council. Today Sts Hildegard of Bingen and John of Avila will be declared Doctors of the Church. Today is also Rosary Sunday and today the Gospel speaks about marriage, Jesus saying Moses allowed divorce but I teach its permanence, I teach that remarriage after divorce is the same as adultery.
For our forefathers adultery was one of the great sins, on the level with apostasy or murder. Every culture seems to have allowed divorce and subsequent remarriage except the followers of Jesus. St Paul tells us the reason is because marriage is based on Christ's relationship with his Church, a relationship based on mutual giving, on the irrevocable exchange  of a promise that binds for life, of a word given that is irrevocable.

Our relationship with God is one that we see in terms of family, feminist baulk at the idea of God as "Father" but it is this that Jesus came reveal. I asked recently at a funeral what will God say to the deceased when she comes into his presence, I suggested the answer is he will say "Daughter" and she will say "Father" and this is what will occupy eternity. This filial relationship in which God calls us "Son" or "Daughter" and we respond "Father" is ultimately what Jesus the only begotten Son came to reveal, and through adoption is something we are called to share in. "Belonging" is something all human beings yearn for, we understand it as belonging to our heavenly Father, as Christians we will use the word "Communion". Communion with Jesus, most especially in sharing in his Body and Blood is about entering into this filial relationship with the Father. Our marriage to him by becoming one in his Body and Blood, in His Eternal self giving, the Sacrifice of the Cross, is about God calling us Son/Daughter here and now. It is a pledge of the eternal relationship with the Father.

It is this Mystical Marriage with the Lamb that is what Catholic Evangelisation is about, bringing the world, man by man, woman by woman into Communion, a marriage, with Christ, in our union with the Only Begotten, we hear the full force of his Father and Our Father calling us by name "Son", "Daughter".

In the Our Lady we see Christianity perfectly lived out, here is the beauty of the Father/Daughter relationship. In the Mysteries of the Rosary Mary participates fully in the the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ her Son and the Son of God. Here the Father constantly calls out "Daughter".
And when we pray the Rosary uniting our hearts to the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ we hear and participate in the echo of God calling the Mother of his Son, "Daughter".

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Its Never about Faith

There is post in Googlese translation on Eponymous Flower reporting that the loyal German Network of Catholics Priests has severely criticised the German bishops over "Church tax" asking what the public perception of the Church should be, "[t]wo years ago it was the abuse [theme], then the "Affaire Williamson", and now it's money -- it's never the Faith. ... It is tasteless, to give so much attention to money".

It would good in the Year of Faith, if every hierarchy in the world tried to put Faith front and centre.

A friend of mine says what marks Liberalism is an obsession with talking about Church, rather than about Christ, this he says has been the main problem of the Church over the last 50 years. It is not the Vatican Council itself but the direct result of it. The Church has become obsessed with itself rather than with Christ.

There is truth in this the Church has become somewhat masturbatory, impotently looking ad intra rather ad extra, moving dekchairs about on the Titanic whilst she crashes into icebergs.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Spirit of the Council stuff

Many people assume the "Spirit of Council" stuff is just arbitrary, a bit mindless, without any foundation but is very much the fruit of Bologna School, it works on the almost Manichaean premise that there were good and bad Council Fathers; in order to get good, liberal, modern doctrines through the Council it was necessary for the  good, liberal, modern Fathers to get on board the bad, conservative, out of date Fathers, therefore to discover the true "Spirit of the Council" one must subtract the doctrines that were imposed by the bad, conservative, out of date Fathers. Thus in documents like Gaudium et Spes which attempt to give a "both and" theology, the Spirit of the Council followers would take only the good, liberal, modern strand.
Thus ideas that have been part of normal parish life in many places for a generation but have no mandate from the Council, or are directly contrary to it, such as Communion in the hand, the use or misuse of Extraordinary Ministers, the extinction in most places of Chant, of Latin, even of Confession, of Marian devotion, of worship of the Blessed Sacrament, of the admission to Holy Communion of those in serious sin or non-Catholics, the preferring of the Local Church over the Universal,, the stressing of human authorship of scripture over the divine, a sociological rather than a pneumatic interpretation of Revelation or even such ideas as the abandonment of clerical celibacy, the admission of women to Holy Orders, denial of Sacramental Grace, all these are the fruit of the "Spirit of the Council".

I do not believe those conspiracy theories that see the pre- and immediately post-Concilliar period as being a time of direct Communist infiltration of the Church but I do believe that Marxist-Leninism dominated western thought throughout the 20th century and in the school of theology that had its home Bologna la Rossa one must see a clear theological expression of basic Communist principles: seeing the Church in Marxist terms of the masses at war with the institution, and perpetual revolution: Ecclesia Semper Reformanda. When such principles are applied to the Church ultimately there is no Church.

Read what Abp Müller actually says

There have been lots of garbled interpretations, and misinterpretation, of what Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller has been saying recently. It is well worth actually reading what he has to say for himself.
Edward Pentin has a two part interview on the National Catholic Register with him, here and here.

In the last few years there seems to have some good stuff coming out of the CDF; the Ordinariate, negotiations with SSPX, for example but I can't help thinking we need a very clear, rather tough Germanic mind there. For all the criricism, much of which isn't really justified I think Müller is the right man, theologically, he spans the broad middle ground.
I remember some people complaining about the last Germans appointment in the early days.

I think we might find him a bit of a ...
rottweiler supplements

Thursday, October 04, 2012

As in Francis' day, so today

I have had just had a conversation with a lady who works at a northern Italian University, she was at Mass and I had been preaching on St Francis, saying that Francis wanted to strip himself of everything that was not of Christ, so in fact until all that was left were the signs of Christ's passion.

Francis' saying, "Preach the Gospel wherever you go and if you must, use words", was entirely dependant on a dynamic and prayer life. His first disciples were primarily hermits, "the poor hermits of Assisi". They brought into the twelfth century an ancient monastic model of contemplatives living together with leader a life of prayer in a deserted place. The nature of the Franciscan life was the violence with which the the detachment occurred. It was not just the material detachment but the spiritual detachment too.

The story of Francis telling a brother to bury himself in a dung heap and then repeatedly asking him, "Brother are you dead [to self]" and only allowing him out when he could say "Yes, Father Francis, I am dead" illustrates something of his radical understanding of obedience and mortification as much as Francis' giving his own father's property to the poor, or embracing the leper in obedience to the teaching of the Gospel.

My visitor described the phenomena she was experiencing of young people filling Italian churches looking for a radical relationship with Christ. We couldn't help reflecting that Italy in the 12th century is quite like it is in the 21st century, and possibly not just Italy but the world. Twelfth Century Italy had little to unite it, feudal authority both ecclesial and civil was rapacious and bellicous, law if there was any was in the hands of, and at the service of the strong, quite like post-Berlusconi Italy, where government and all structures, really, are seen as corrupt and ineffective. One of the things that has always marked Italian society is a natural tendency to mistrust structures and institutions but to trust friends or those with whom one has a personal and tried relationship.

That personal relationship with Christ was what Francis showed to the people of his day, it is the same message Pope Benedict is pressing, especially in his writings Jesus of Nazareth, his catechesis etc. It is what my visitor said she recognised as being what young people are searching for. She said she felt what they were looking for was relationship with Christ which somehow rejects "the Church" and yet is entirely dependant on it. It is that Italian thing where bishops are seen as corrupt money grabbing out of touch aristocrats, the clergy are, generally, morally debauched middle managers, and yet we love Our Lady,  venerate Padre Pio and weep at the Cross and the crib and throng to the piazza for Corpus Christi.

She seemed to imply there was a love for what the Church could give but a mistrust of the Church, same today as Francis' day.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Bishop Mark Davies: why they wore choir dress

I had lovely evening in London last night at The Keys, the London branch of the Catholic Writers Guild, I missed Mass but I arrived for drinks and dinner. The speaker was Bishop Mark Davies, he spoke about the Second Vatican Council. He began by pointing out he was beginning his First Communion preparation when it began.
What I rather enjoyed and thought was quite insightful was his presentation of it as a spiritual event. Pope John had written to the entire Church asking for prayers for the Council, he himself according to his secretary  seemed deepened his own prayer life. He insisted on the Bishops wearing choir dress, as a sign that the Council was a quasi liturgical event and not simply about debate.
He quoted one or two sources pointing out that what was heard about the Council through out the world was often presented in terms of "factionalism" by journalists left in Rome for the duration of the Council, and most were second rate and scratching around for stories. concentrating on the human rather than Divine elements of the Council.
Interestingly he quoted Bishop Egan, his former Vicar General, who always warned against partisanship or "the football team supporter" interpretation of the Council, of seeing it in terms of Liberal or Reactionary, Traditional or Progressive. In the light of that I asked him how that squared with 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". He replied that the only criteria to apply to an interpretation of the Council is to ask "is it orthodox, is it Catholic?" "Orthodox" seems to be the becoming word amongst English  bishops.

I think what I find exciting and refreshing about Bishop Davies is not so much whether we might agree theologically, I suspect we might, but that he seems to see every thing in terms of a meeting with God. I think if I were going to speak about the Council I would have taken a very different tack but he has the extraordinary ability to relate everything to the person of Christ. In the questions afterwards he was asked about the confusion the Church has ended up in after the Council, he spoke about Christogical heresy.

He was asked about the Institute of Christ the King taking over New Brighton, he said it was a conjunction of circumstances, I think what he was really saying it was Divine Providence and we should trust God to bring forth fruit.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

From Mary’s Dowry a gentle New Evangelization

Bishop Philip Egan has given an interview to Radio Vatican
listen here 
or for a prece see the good Deacon Nick 

Sacra Liturgia 2013


The Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, France, Monsignor Dominique Rey, has announced a major international conference on the Sacred Liturgy:

Sacra Liturgia 2013 to take place in Rome from June 25-28, 2013.

The conference brings together a wide range of renowned international speakers including Cardinals Ranjith and Burke, Archbishop Di Noia, Bishop Mark Aillet and Monsignors Guido Marini and Andrew Burnham, Bishop Dominique, Abbot Jean-Charles Nault OSB, Ignacio Barreiro, Father Uwe Michael Lang, Cong. Orat., Fr Paul Gunter OSB, Dr Guido Rodheudt, Don Nicola Bux, Dom Alcuin Reid, Dr Gabriel Steinschulte, Professor Miguel Ayuso, Mr Jeffrey Tucker.

Sacra Liturgia 2013 An international conference to study, promote and renew the appreciation of liturgical formation and celebration and its foundation for the mission of the Church, particularly in the light of the teaching and example of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, falling within the Year of Faith called for by the Holy Father to commemorate 50 years since the start of the Second Vatican Council, in accordance with the pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“The Sacred Liturgy is at the centre of the new evangelisation,” Bishop Rey said. “The liturgy is the source and summit of the life and the mission of the Church,” he emphasised, “which is why, for the Year of Faith, we are following up on the success of our conference on Eucharistic Adoration (Adoratio 2011) with a conference specifically focussing on the liturgy and liturgical formation as the point of departure for the new evangelisation. In this we are following the example of the Holy Father, whose teaching and example continue to underline the fundamental and unique role of the Sacred Liturgy in all aspects of the life of the Church and its mission.”

Hollywood's new "big idea"

Biblical mega block-buster movies (in England read "films") are apparently on the way back, according to this Wall Street Journal article. There is obviously money in religion,

I am fascinated by religion  (re-ligere = to bind again) as a binding factor in society. Nowadays as "home viewing" grows and audiences become more and more "niche", Hollywood  is looking for as much as politicians, a "big idea", something that appeals to a world-wide market, religious epics are perhaps the only thing that can possibly fit the bill, especially if it has an appeal to the other "Abrahamic faiths". What else will appeal to someone in Dakkar or Dallas, Helsinki or Hiroshima?
I wonder if what Hollywood accountants seem to have discovered might be something that politicians might begin to grasp.
Thanks to Luke Coppen for bringing this to my attention.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Dublin Pro-Abortion Rally

Gary the Gargoyle, an experienced counter, has a fascinating meandering post on counting armies and crowds. He is concerned about the numbers at the Dublin Pro-Abortionist Rally, he estimates 850, others have postulated "several thousand", in fact anything from 500 the original Garda estimate to 7,000 according to one activist, the difference is Gary produces the evidence.

What I find interesting too is how the old rag the Irish Times was manipulated.
I am told this is Stonewall technique, well actually when I was a young Commie we used to do that kind of thing.

Modern Rites: Mormonism

This appeared on my Youtube feed: filming from within a Mormon Temple.

I cannot think of anything more American than Mormonism. One forgets how important ritualism and secret rites were in early 19th century religious revival.

A Few Thoughts on the Synod on Evangelisation

The real question I hope that will be asked at the Synod which starts on Rosary Sunday is: why are we so ineffective at Evangelistion?
It is pretty obvious that that renewal of the Church which Vatican Council called for hasn't happened. It was for the purpose of Evangelisation or "Renewal" of the Church that the Council was called, to address the political, social, economic, and technological change that the Church faced in the 20th century. It is worth reading Humanae Salutis in which Blessed Pope John announces the Council, interestingly, I couldn't find it English on Vatican website.
The forthcoming Council, then, will meet happily and at a moment in which the Church has a more lively desire to fortify her faith and to contemplate herself in her own awe-inspiring unity, just as she feels the more urgent duty to give greater effectiveness to her healthy vitality and to promote the sanctification of her members, the spread of revealed truth, and the consolidation of her structures. This will be a demonstration of the Church, always living and always young, that feels the rhythm of time, that in every century beautifies herself with new splendor, radiates new light, achieves new conquests, all the while remaining identical to herself, faithful to the divine image impressed on her face by her divine Bridegroom, who loves her and protects her, Christ Jesus.
The Pope's bright vision of the Church contemplating herself  "in her own awe-inspiring unity" seems to have disappeared like the morning dew. If anything this unity has devolved into factions; many parts of the Church seem to be on the verge of schism, some like the LCWR have moved beyond Christ, others seek to overturn the teaching of Christ and his Church especially on sex and sexuality, leading laymen and women openly dissent from her teaching, bishops and priests are weak and uncertain in the proclamation of her most basic teachings.
I presume that part of the reason for calling the Synod is again to underline the hermeneutic of continuity and the unity of the Church. Opening it on Rosary Sunday is I presume a little Benedictine ploy to underline the fundamental Christolgical mysteries of the faith.
The Synod will be an occasion for the Pope to redefine and reassess the Council.

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...