Thursday, July 31, 2014

Man stuff

I am not sure I believe what many traditional Catholics say about the old Mass being more appealing to men, than the new. Lace and brocade certainly have a superficial appeal to a small percentage, the historical 'rootedness' and symbolism to a larger percentage. What is pretty obvious is that men don't come to Mass, and possibly working class men come less than other men. When men do come to the old Mass, some at least seem to respond to it in a rather amazing way, it sets light to their faith. 
In some parishes it seems that lectors and everyone else on the sanctuary, except the priest, are women or girls, and that in our Catholic schools the majority of our teachers are women, especially in our Primary Schools. In that sense the Church of today is really, if not feminine, it is dominated at parish and diocesan level by women. I think that accounts in many ways for the breach between the 'local Church' and what is invariably nowadays called the 'institutional Church'. The faith is invariably transmitted through feminine perspective.
After the first celebration of the Novus Ordo at the end of the Council Card Heenan famously said that men of England wouldn't put up with what the Council Fathers had just witnessed in the Sistine Chapel, but his complaint was actually not about the changed liturgy but the chanting and psalm singing, something above the normal fair of Englishmen: Low Mass, Mass in its simplest and most unadorned form, a reasonably brief and peremptory Rite.
As a man, I hate fuss. I like clarity, yes I respond to beauty, like the well designed lines of a piece of efficient machinery, which is why I like High Mass. I prefer Trooping of the Colour to the ballet, a Beethoven quartet to symphony, a classical painting to a piece of Cubism, a Modrian painting to a Jason Perry tapestry. 
I suspect like most men I could well be descried slightly autistic, I prefer the clarity of a legal document to the airy- fairiness of the Spirit of ... Give me the Canons of any Council rather than the pages of canonised ambiguity and contradiction, give me the hard edge of Thomas or Bonaventure rather than the fluffiness of modern feminist theologians.
I remember a sermon once on the healing of the Centurion's servant, in which preacher compared the Centiturion to Our Lady, the Centurion want orders, Our Lady was willing to 'ponder these things in her heart', we men do ponder but against clear guidelines of 'do this', 'do that', I remember a young man at Sandhurst, who loved all that marching up and down because it gave him the chance to pray, obeying orders came naturally to him,

The Lectionary of the Old Rite certainly seems to be clearer than that of the New, quite a lot about the evils of fornication and unchastity in the Epistles, and quite a lot about how to live a 'good' life in the Gospels, whereas the New Rite Lectionary, certainly on Sundays, presents morally ambiguous extracts from the Old Testament, a rather massaged series of extracts from the Epistles and Gospels. The theology is different, the selection of readings rather than organically developing over centuries gives us a very definite 'Christ of the Council', or at a least a Christ, a Christology and Ecclesiology taken from the decade or so over which the Lectionary was compiled and of those involved in its manufacturing. It comes from a time when ambiguity was fashionable, the Christ that is presented to us is ambiguous, or at least it is different from the morally and theogically directive Christ of the old Lectionary. That is not surprising considering the old Lectionary came into being in a time of real theological debate and ecclesial growth whilst the new Lectionary was put together by men who were essentially conciliatory towards what was then the 'modern world'.

I am not suggesting the Lectionary is 'unmanly' but the Christ it presents is of its time. Dr Shaw, interestingly, says of Pope Francis that he isn't interested in  philosophy or the theology, that he is essentially a politician. I think that is a fair description. In that sense I think he is indeed a conciliatory Pope. The words of Cardinal Kaspar, "the Pope's theologian" ring true in this context, when he speaks about ordinary Christians not being given to heroism, “But it's a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian.” It is this absence of heroism that seems to be problematic for men (and boys) today. My Muslim friends, who are not wild sword wielding Islamic terrorists, see Christianity as wimpish and unmanly: The effeteness of the West, the destruction of the family, sexual ambiguity, amorality, materialism they put down to Christianity. Islam presents manliness in terms of heroism, a man is someone willing to die to defend his faith, his family and his country. A true man despite other pressures will pray five times a day and fast strictly during Ramadan. He will submit to the will of God and teach his family and neighbours to do the same. 
The post-Concilliar Chuch is very much one of, "Who am I to judge", it is seen as morally ambiguous: "gentle Jesus meek and mild" puts up with and accepts everything and anything, except and absence of gentleness, meekness and mildness, for most men this is profoundly unsatisfying.and is more likely to savage or criticise members of his household than act as leaven or source of change. >It is this kind of conciliatoriness that the Church n this country has been pushing for decades t has led to social acceptance, and reasonable relationships with those in power and the 'Establishment' but it has actually lost any power to change society, an often alienates its most committed members and leaves confused and ill informed those less committed, most especially men.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Job with SPUC?

I have been asked to run this ad:

Want to work for a leading charity in the UK Pro-Life Movement?
Personal Secretary to the Chief Executive
A key role in building grassroots support for the pro-life movement in the UK
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) is looking to recruit a Personal Secretary to the Chief Executive based at its London HQ. The post is part-time (15-25 hours per week, negotiable). The deadline for applications is Friday 15th August. Salary details available on request.
The role
Applicants must have an absolute commitment to the pro-life cause, experience working at director/board level and the ability to cope with a wide range of secretarial responsibilities.
Duties will include drafting letters, taking dictation, maintaining a filing system, assisting in making travel arrangements, photocopying and printing.
Candidates must have a good level of word-processing skill and possess the ability to take dictation. Shorthand skills are highly desirable.
You must also have excellent communication and organisational skills and enjoy working under pressure.
For more information or to receive an application form please contact Patrick Kingman.
Tel: 020 7091 7091

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Magdalen Vestments

I love this set of vestments, they date from about 1910, I think. There is something about them that says, 'Magdalen'.
They are made up of embroidery, appliqué and gold thread, on the chasuble there are a few descreet pearls. The cope is completely perished, the silk has gone, the chasuble is almost unwearable and the decoration has become a little muted, the dalmatics aren't too bad.

Despite all that we were man enough to wear them last night at the High Mass for Magdalen Day.

As the choir are on holiday, it was a rather homely High Mass; De Angelis and a couple of motets sung by those lovely sisters.

One year, maybe, kettledrums, cornetti, citterone.  Call me an old liberal if you must, but I am not one of those fussy priests who object to the guitar in church, I have heard a quite adequate figured bass continuo played on an extended necked baroque guitar substituting for a bass vihuela.

There are more photographs here

p.s. say a prayer for Tom who is getting married to Vergine at an old rite Pontifical Mass in Paray-le-Monial on Friday, Tom is on the Gospel side.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Join us for St Mary Magdalen's Day

Tomorrow we celebrate our Holy and Glorious Patroness St Mary Magdalen, the chosen messenger to the Apostles.

The great problem is half our servers and most of the choir are away.

Actually we began our celebration on Sunday, anticipating her feast.
To help us out my friends those wonderful sisters have kindly agreed to come down to sing at our EF High Mass at 6.30pm.


Our Western tradition is that all of those women at the Lord's feet, the one who pours out costly ointment, the one who covers his feet with kisses and tears are the Magdalen, even Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the one who chose the better part who sits at his feet.

I am tempted to see the woman caught in adultery is her too; what crueller thing to do than to get Jesus to condemn a woman who was once notorious but is now a disciple of Jesus.

She becomes a symbol of the Church and the faithful remnant of Israel, despised and rejected like Jesus himself, and yet delighting in his presence.

To be a follower of Jesus means to be a Magdalen, to weep over one's sins, to choose the better part and recognise Him and be united, with him.
I don't know if I am being over imaginative but there seem to be three stages to the Magdalen's relationship: weeping she shows us purgation, sitting and listening is about illumination and finally in the garden in her encounter with the Risen Lord she is united to him.
She is 'every disciple', we are all called to weep over our sins, then we are able to indeed choose the better part, to truly listen to Jesus, only then do we recognise him and are able to announce his Triumphant Rising.

Only then perhaps may we have the grace to suffer with him, for the legend is that after the Resurrection she lived the life of a penitent and contemplative, all was to prepare for that and was to prepare her for the day when she would see Jesus' Father and her Father, Jesus' God and her God.

The Smile of a Martyr, well no...

I found this on Facebook
This young Iranian has been sentenced to death by a judgment immediately executed by hanging because guilty of a heinous crime: being a Christian and do not abjure the faith by accepting the supreme sacrifice. The smile on his face is that of the first Christian martyrs in front of the mouth of the Lions. Don't know the name, but we know for a fact that is already listed in the Canon of Saints.
And I think with sadness to our lukewarmness in being followers (more often than not unworthy) of Christ (always ready with distinction and always ready for mediation of worldliness).
It has gone 'viral' under such a heading,
but apparently not, he is murderer ....
 Two men have been hanged in a Tehran square for the murder of a prominent judge, thought to be the first public execution in Iran's capital since 2002.
Majid and Hossein Kavousifar's deaths come a day after nine public hangings in other parts the country.
The government says it is part of a major effort to tackle violent crime and the illegal drug trade in Iran. .......

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Prayers: Mosul

Isis fighters hold their flag aloft after taking control of an army checkpoint in the north of the country - 11 June 2014
Brothers and sisters, pray for our brothers and sister under threat in Mosul, pray for those who have been forced to leave their ancient homeland.
Pray for those who murder, abduct, rape, mutilate, destroy and threaten.
We are at the beginning of a Christian Holocaust, will the world leaders act or be as silent ans as hard hearted as they were 70 years ago?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Breaking Cricket Bats

Archbishop Welby recently backed away from addressing 'gay' issues because he said he feared that in places like Nigeria pushing that particular agenda in the CofE would cause problems for the Anglican Communion and Christians in general.

A priest who works in an Islamic environment tells me that the paedophile crisis is often exploited by Islamic evangelists: Islam sees men as strong valiant defenders of their religion, of the families, of fellow Muslims, whilst Christians see men as weak and effeminate, meek and mild; not surprising as their priests are either paedophiles and homosexuals and any man involved with Christians was probably likely to be drawn into that lifestyle.

Geoffrey Howe spoke of his relationship with Margaret Thatcher, in his resignation speech as Foreign Secretary,  "It is ... that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain". La Repubblica's interview and the claim that one in fifty, two per cent of the clergy are paedophiles, seems very much like the sound of breaking cricket bats, yet again.

Now what was it Jesus said about Peter strengthening the brethren?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Francis against 'orthodoxy'?

For those who have a little theological insight or understanding of the history of theology in the last 150 years it is pretty obvious that what is commonly described as orthodoxy has been struggling for existence against a pragmatic approach to belief. Really, the big difficulty many of us have with Pope Francis' theology is that he seems to be an advocate of pragmatism and disfavours orthodoxy. In the previous papacy orthodoxy seemed to be triumphing over the theological approach Congar, Rhanner and the greatest of all proponent of this new approach to Catholic theology Hans Kung. Now, under Francis, orthodoxy is becoming a dirty word. the 'formlessness' of Kung seems to be on the rise.

My Italian is pretty poor, with 'google translate' I can with a bit of difficulty begin to make sense of something. Have a look at this article, which tries to understand Francis' theology The significant paragraph is this - my translation.
....the formulas and dogmas cannot be understood in terms of historical evolution, but every problem must be placed in its historical and socio-political context. The concept of orthodoxy must be overcome, or at least reduced, because it is used as a "reference point to stifle freedom of thought and as a weapon to police and punish" ... They define orthodoxy as "a metaphysical violence."The primacy of doctrine should be replaced by that of pastoral practice ... " (Concilium, 2/2014, p. 11).
Is this why the Franciscan Friars are being dealt with apparent harshness - because they were seen as the thriving proponents of 'orthodoxy'? Is this the reason why we seem to be into a 'hermeneutic of incoherence' - because those who equate being Catholic with being 'orthodox' suddenly find themselves in a Church where they are no longer at home or even belong?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Where have all the bloggers gone?

It is four months since Protect the Pope went into 'a period of prayer and reflection' at the direction of Bishop Campbell, someone recently asked me why tend not to post so often as I did, and I must say I have been asking the same question about other bloggers.

The reign of Benedict produced a real flourish of 'citizen journalists', the net was alive with discussion on what the Pope was saying or doing and how it affected the life of our own local Church. Looking at some of my old posts they invariably began with quote or picture followed by a comment, Benedict stimulated thought, reflection and dialogue, an open and free intellectual environment. There was a solidity and certainty in Benedict's teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood. Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty.

Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church, today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.

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...