Friday, January 30, 2015

Palliums and Bureaucracy

Palliums are now to be given in the home diocese of Metropolitans by the Nuncio rather than received directly from the Supreme Pontiff who had taken them from the tomb of the Apostle Peter where they had lain over night.
I seem to remember notes about pre-Reformation English Metropolitans receiving the Pallium at Evesham or Ripon or some such place, and even the red hat was occasionally delivered (as in the case of St John Fisher) rather than got directly from the hands of the Pope. When changes are made it is always worth asking why things developed as they are in first place.

My initial reaction is that it will give the Nuncii something to do, and also enhance their status as Papal go-between, or Legates, and do a little to dispel stories of walls of ice between Nunciatures and Metropolitan Cathedrals.

The problem is that it distances the Metropolitan from Papacy by imposing a middleman, another level of bureaucracy, which we had all hoped the Holy Father intended to dispel but actually seems to be creating. Vatican Monday has an interesting over-view of the diplomatic service. With such illustrious names as Mgr Giovanni Battista Ricca and Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski one must ask if the Diplomatic Corps is really in a healthier state than other members of what Pope Francis himself describes as the "leprous court". In England and Wales the consensus among the clergy seems to be that we have not been served well by previous Nuncii.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nothing of Value Here

My congratulations to Libby Lane and the dear old CofE, with her ordination to the Anglican episcopate in a sense it has reached its ultimate end begun at the Reformation.

A friend took me to a rather beautiful pre-Reformation church, in a side chapel, in the wall was set a small modern metal door covered by a little white curtain, it was the aumbry or tabernacle, stuck to the door was a notice, "this safe contains blessed bread - there is nothing of value here".

In this time when we seem to be invited to explore the nature of what it means to be 'Catholic', one of the most obvious threads is Catholics believe God is truly and actually present in the sacraments.

Cantigas de Santa Maria

This is one of my favourite websites, it supplies me hours of pleasure, it is a wonderful collection of  over 400 songs to the Blessed Virgin in Galician-Portuguese during the reign of Alfonso X El Sabio (1221–1284), if you are into thirteenth century music the Cantigas should already be known to you. Though the wonderful site which offers square and round note options, as well phonetic pronunciation for those with rather weak 13th Century Galician-Portugese, only appeared last year.
The only problem is that there is no Latin translation online yet, as far as I know

There are lots of recordings of performances on Youtube.

This is one my favourites, ideal for an evening with Mary.
I hope it gives you as much pleasure as it gives me.

This is in praise of Holy Mary. 

I have praised and praise and shall ever praise Holy Mary.

For among all the most honored men alive today, 
She has shown me more 
blessings, which I shall now relate. 

She caused me to descend from good lineage 
and willed that I should justly 
reign and be king. 

And with Her mercies She aided me in my grave illnesses, 
therefore, rest as- 
sured, I shall serve Her in return. 

And to those who bore me ill will and conspired 
and plotted against me She 
gave what they deserved, 
as I shall prove. 
She freed me from great poverty and gave me wealth, 
for which I shall name 
all Her great attributes that I can. 

For She who does not err nor ever erred made me lord of a fine land 
helped me in every war when I called on Her. 

She delivered me from misfortunes, death, and injury. 
Therefore know, good 
men, that I shall die for Her. 

All you join with me now to pray with all our hearts 
that She may help me 
in Her great mercy, for I have need. 

And whenever She so wills, may She take me from the turmoil 
of this world, 
and may I look upon Her whom I have always loved.

Another version

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sic transit

In the 1960s there were four hundred students in the chapel for this Mass at Ushaw, today, a little over 50 years later the seminary is closed.
It is very easy to say it was the Council but the seeds of whatever was to happen were already there, walking into the chapel in the hearts of those priests and students.
The post-war period was one of great flourishing in the Church in England and Wales, seminaries doubled in size, there was massive building of schools and churches, by the 1970s it was over, the decline had begun.
A friend visit four Orthodox seminaries in Moscow recently, each had 700 plus students, in the 1960s these seminaries did not exist.
Christ is Lord of History, when the Church appears strong then it is weak, when it stands before the Cross then it is strong. Huge numbers lead to complacency an d self referentialism, the barren Cross is our only hope.
Thanks to Fr Andrew Wadsworth for the video. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chid Victims

I used to think of St Agnes as a fiesty teanager or a self confident young woumen in her twenties but the relic in her Church in the Piaza Navona belies this. It is her skull, so small it can be held in one's cupped hands. She was obviously a child, not even her second decade, maybe not even five or six. She died for the faith, like the Holy Innocents, like those many children, slaughtered or left to starve by ISIS or the aptly named, Boko Haram (boko meaning education haram meaning forbidden or sinful), who with child like faith said, "We will not give up Jesus". There is something frightening in that the Church holds St Agnes as a Virgin Martyr. We are forced to recognise that sexual violence in her martyrdom, it is not something new. Sexual violence, against the vulnerable has always been a weapon of war. The Romans had a superstition about executing children, hence those terrible stories about little S Agnes being exposed in a brothel.

War, and conflict in general are never really about glorious armies facing one another but crueler things, starvation, poverty, disease, dispossession, psychological and sexual oppression. In fact disproportionately it is always the weak who suffer most. The weakest and most vulnerable are always children, children going hungry, children homeless, children orphaned and unwanted, unprotected, even children consider vermin.

Its not just in war zones that children are victims, every broken family, every poor family, in every workless family children suffer.
As the Pope said yesterday, “I have heard that families with many children are among the reasons if poverty. It seems to me that this is a simplistic opinion. The main reason for poverty is an economical system that has removed the person from the center and has replaced it by the god of money.”

Where sex is used irresponsibly, yes, where "couples breed like rabbits", where it is separated from procreation and the life that is suppose to result from it, children suffer. The Church talks about 'welcoming children as a gift of God', teaching which for Western culture today is extraordinarily subversive. 'Responsible' or loving sex always considers the result of the sexual act, for us it is never a quick fumble in the dark.

Today in the great clash between cultures, the culture of Life and the culture of Death, children will be the first victims.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Common Enemy

 Zenith of French Glory cartoon by Gillray
I agree with Giles Fraser, at least in this little piece where he writes about the French idea of laïcité.
Linked arm politicians marking through Paris streets in solidarity with..., with what? worries me. Yes, I can understand solidarity with the victims of terrorism, with those killed but is this really what David Cameron et al were expressing? Probably, they were thinking more of media reaction to their absence, and solidarity with public outrage, or perhaps the wound was too raw to think too clearly.

I am sure that Muslims who like the Pope might think that gratuitous insults provoke some reaction, certainly not killing or violence, but some reaction, but then what reaction can there be from those who are marginalised and on the peripheries? They are after all powerless, whilst the state and even cartoonists in comparison are all-powerful. It might be easy for a French Muslim to conflate the state's policy of laïcité and Charlie Hebdo's cartoons into one.

What I like about Fraser's article is his understanding that the French revolutionary ideas, and the Enlightenment are actually at war with religion. The new exodus of Jews from France is caused in part by Muslim attacks on Jews, in part by a growing intolerance of religion within French society but also as a direct result of laws that are restrictive or intolerant towards religious expression. Fraser gives examples of 'pork or nothing' school lunches, of restrictions on religious dress but in France as in other parts of Europe there are also moves to ban halal and kosher slaughter of animals and to prohibit infant circumcision, if one adds to that an active hostility in education to any sense of religion, and active promotion of values which contradict essential religious values, the promotion of a gay agenda, attacks on the family, a reinvention of morality, one can understand not just Islamic and Jewish dis-ease with an increasingly secular world, and a world that is evangelically antagonistic to religion.

Benedict XVI's Regensburg address, where he speaks of religion without reason has been justly cited by many Catholics commenting on the Paris killings but this forms a diptych with his address to the Bundestag, which is perhaps of even more importance, here he addresses what happens when the state becomes the sole arbiter of right and wrong.

Pope Francis said, "In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a “grandmother”, no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions".

Most Muslims, most religious people, would agree with him. Europe is sick but not just Europe, the same accusations can be made against Western society in general. The great ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity, so attractive in their infancy have in their old age been transformed into the early sexualisation of children, the commercialisation of sexuality, the destruction of the family, pornography, drug and alcohol addiction, the estrangement of the elderly, of the young, youth unemployment, benefit dependancy, in fact a whole host of sicknesses and a a spiral of hopelessness. 

Catholics can understand something of Islamic alienation from a society that has declared war on its fundamental values. I was waiting for a bus recently at the bus stop a few yards down the street a couple of women were kissing, a Muslim mother with two small children saw what was happening and covered her children's faces with her coat, a few seconds later o0ne of my parishioners and her child walked past, they still at, she saw them and saw me and stood with her back to them holding her child's head so he couldn't see. Though there are serious difficulties (see the video at he end) Catholics and Muslims share a common enemy: secularism.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ex ore infantium et lactantium

Father Peter 1943 Catholic Extension Cutouts Booklet
I was amused, as I often am by Fr Hunwicke, who sometime ago hoped his grandson might grow into pedantry.

I love the pedantry of children, one of our children complained quietly to me that a visiting priest didn't say the Traditional Mass right, "He said, "miserere nobis" the third time in the Agnus Dei, instead of "dona nobis pacem". The same six year old went off  and learnt the Alma Redemptoris when someone mention that it, rather than the Salve, should be sung during the Christmas season.

A friend gave one of his 11 year old servers some Fr Peter cards for Christmas within few days it was all cut out and he was 'playing' Benediction and Missa Cantata in his bedroom, probably with reference to Fortescue. It was his favourite Christmas present.

I was sent photographs but I am having difficulty putting them online.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Je suis non Charlie

Cold blooded murder and terror is barbaric, shooting journalists or cartoonists in a magazine is deplorable, it is indefensible. Killing is always a grave offense against God. I would certainly want to show support with the dead, the injured and the bereaved. Terror must always be met with the full force of the law, there should be no hiding place for those who killed at the Charlie Hebdo office. Nothing can justify the killing of the innocent.

The Paris killings are deeply troubling, they show the problem of a dominant society that contains a minority that do not share its values, in fact a group that has values that are directly opposed to its values and find those values deeply offensive. France likes to think of itself as the epitome of the secular state and is therefore incapable of understanding the deep offense caused to religious sentiment by offensive imagery.

Many of those protesting the Charlie Hebdo murders on the streets of European cities are presumably not merely liberal secularists but members of the far right too, an alliance of the two is highly worrying, especially for a society like many in the West that are dependent for basic services on recently arrived immigrants, primarily because their own birthrate is so low.

There have been suggestions that the Charlie Hebdo murders were an attack on free speech but France like the rest of the West is against homophobic, rascist, sexist speech and has laws to restrict that kind of freedom. Charlie Hebdo is actually purile and offensive though it might be seen as court jester of French liberal establishment. It is not freedom of speech it defends but its own right to be gratuitously insulting, take a look at some of its front covers, some of which seem to be in the style of that German satirical publication of the 20s, 30s and 40s. It is a mark of any civilised society that all its members have some entitlement to be treated with respect. In a healthy society one moderates one's tone and uses language which is respectful, especially of an underclass or minority which is potentially explosive.

The Charlie Hebdo murders should invite greater freedom of speech, perhaps revisiting Pope Benedict's Regensburg lecture should certainly cause us to ask why Islam and the sword often go hand in hand, the vast majority of Muslims are the victims of murderous thugs rather than the thugs themselves but the relationship of Islam and violence needs to discussed. So too does the State's relationship with justice which was raised in his Berlin address earlier in his visit. The West contains a great number of disengaged young men and women who are increasingly alienated from our society, laws no longer bind, there are swathes of our society who make up their own rules, who have their own codes and see the establishment as corrupt and oppressive.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Sound of the Protestant Reformation

Isn't this nifty?
The bibelregal is the sound of the Protestant Reformation,
Henry VIII owned several, he even a special regal tuner, Protestant Neuremberg produced them by the cartload. Luther, that wicked anti-semite with bowel problems had one, as did practically everyone in Protestant Europe, they were mass produced.
I must say I wouldn't mind someone giving me one, obviously not to accompany nasty Protestant hymn singing.

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...