Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Happy and Blessed Christmas

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A Happy and Blessed Christmas to you all and sincere thanks for your prayer for my return to health.
Now let us offer prayer and penance, our sickness and pain, our fears and worries for the health of Our Holy Mother the Church afflicted on every side by wicked men.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

What does the Immaculate Conception say about Amoris Laetitia

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Some say that Amoris Laetitia says God tolerates sin, that is impossible.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception says God demands holiness. Mary the 'All Holy', 'the Full of Grace' reminds us that God loves sinners but is totally intolerant of sin.
Her 'yes' to God, is a 'no' to sin.

Every dogma says no to sin!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

If there were no God, we would still have Saint Nicholas

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"If there were no God, we would still have Saint Nicholas", or so the Russians used to say. The ancient parish church of Brighton is dedicated to him. East and West there are thousands of ancient coastal churches dedicated to him, a mark of past devotion. There are legends but of him we know very little, or nothing.

The reason for such devotion to him is that prayer to him seems to worked. It is his post-mortem intercession that is important that matters. I suspect that is the reason the great Roman Canon contains its own list, canon, of saints is that 'they worked'.

Nowadays saints seem to be 'made' for political or factional reasons, when they were a rarer commodity, they emerged from the faithful's prayer and pilgrimage, from experience.

Behind the Amoris Laetiia controversy seems to be a sense of a loss of as search for holiness, Even the major protagonists seem to have lost this sense.

I suspect this is one of the reason Cardinal Sarah is calling for a return to 'ad Orientem' worship.
A Church that has lost that sense of Holiness has lost its reason to existence.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Heart Failure

Image result for heart failureA priest friend suggested I had been hiding out with the Pope, I have to admit I can't help but be a little amused by the Pope being hunted around the Vatican by Cardinals demanding the sweet Vicar of Christ does his job job and respond to their dubia. That like S Philip Neri, whose heart was twice the size it should have been, I had been called to soothe his reported rage, it is not true.
Since Friday 12th Nov I was in the "Heart Failure Unit" of the local hospital. Basically my heart had been working at twice its proper speed and had failed to remove fluid from my body, which I have been peeing in great quantity, I am home now and a fifth lighter than I was,
I should be alright once my heart has strengthened I have been back to hospital to have its rhythm corrected.
I would appreciate prayers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Hero of Hacksaw Ridge

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Something good from the States: Mel Gibson's new film Hacksaw Ridge received a 10 minute ovation at the Venice Film Festival, it is about a non-combatant Seventh Day Adventist medical orderly, Desmond Doss, and his repeated efforts to save 75 of his wounded comrades.

A Choice Between Monsters!

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For Americans a choice between two monsters, one perhaps just marginally lest monstrous than the other.
In nearby Lewes "Dave" Cameron our former Prime Minister who resigned after Brexit, was burnt in effigy at the Lewes Guy Fawkes Night festivities.
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They burnt the Pope too, but they always do, more-or-less ever since 13 Protestants were executed under good Queen Mary. For Americans Lewes was the home of Thomas Paine.
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Bad leadership seems to be a mark of the 21st Century, perhaps it ever was but I suspect in the Church the further we distance ourselves from what Jesus explicitly teaches, the worst leaders will get and as in the Church so in Western society.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Thank God for The Glorious Counter Reformation

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prays Holy Spirit will "help us rejoice in the gifts that have come to the church thru the Reformation"

Well, what are theses gifts?

  • A depleted protestant Bible
  • Ecclesial Communities, lacking Holy Orders and therefore the Holy Eucharist and the means to Grace. 
  • The elevation of an individual theologian over the whole Catholic Tradition. and a decided break with that Sacred Tradition.

We can add into the mix the massacre of peasants, anti Jewish pogroms, the rise in witch trials, the growth of superstition, the beginning of German nationalism.
The Reformation was welcomed by  European princes because it placed them over the Church and reduced the Church and the clergy to mere arms of the State.
We can add the destruction of Christian culture, not just the vandalism of religious houses and the iconoclastic destruction of Christian heritage.

Frankly, I see little that we should rejoice in, except for one thing, as an Oxford preacher once said, either at the Oratory or Blackfriars, "... except for one thing, by God's providence, the coming of the Glorious Counter Reformation".
It was the Glorious Counter Reformation that enabled the Catholic Church to withstand Protestant aggression through force of arms, that would have laid the West open to the expanding Ottoman empire.
It was Glorious Counter Reformation that enabled the Gospel to be preached to the Americas and to Asia and the Glorious Counter Reformation that gave Europe new a vibrant spiritual intellectual and artistic life.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Signor Tornielli's List

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Have you read the terrible toady-piece by Andrea Tornielli of Vatican Insider? Signor Tornielli has a little list and anyone who raises a question about the direction the Church is going in is on the list. He ends his piece by going even further than the headline, 'Catholics who are anti-Francis but love Putin'.
“It is the mythical idealization of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is presented as a “good” leader in contrast to the “bad” leader, the Pope, because of his stance on homosexual people, Muslims and immigrants. Russian foundations that have strong ties with Putin co-operate with the anti-Francis opposition.["]
Before I say anything else Putin is a serious threat to world peace, he is gangster, he places himself above the law of which he is contemptuous. I am not a supporter of Putin. My concern is Putinesque leadership style is spreading, it is DICTORSHIP, with all of its contempt for law, for reason, for anyone who disagrees with it. In fact Tournielli's article seems reminiscent of something from the dark days of Soviet Russia, when enemies of the state were denounced in Pravda just before a round of arrests and executions. Journalists in a dictatorship
Pope Francis speaks with Andrea Tornielli last year (CNS)
This is worrying because of Vatican Insiders semi-official status, and the Holy Father's obvious friendship with Tournielli. There is a dictatorial contempt for people who ask for clarification or simply disagree with the position the Holy Father takes.

I once asked a senior Vatican official why Benedict kept Cardinal Kasper and others, who historically had opposed him, in place, his reply was 'first of all to keep him sane and secondly to remind him there are other theological views than his own'. There is a great problem for any priest, but still more so for a bishop even more for a Pope to surround himself with a court of sycophants, and if they are given any power they quickly become bullies too, we saw that during the synod, we see that with Vatican clergy journalists, who even threaten those who are critical or even apprehensive with action in the civil courts.

Francis tends to do things by innuendo, he often can't remember documents he has only recently signed, perhaps his recent plea to journalists, was addressed first and foremost to his own court journalists

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Chocolate Luther

The statue of Martin Luther that graced the meeting of the Pope and Lutherans in Rome was made of chocolate - what does it mean?

It could mean that Martin is meant to melt in the warmth of the Pope's presence in Rome, like those harsh, hate-filled words he used about the Catholic Church, the Mass, Apostolic Succession, the Papacy, Orthodox Catholics, not to mention the Jews, the peasants and other protestant reformers.

The great advantage of a chocolate Luther is that despite harsh attitudes of some Catholics to Lutherans about receiving Holy Communion; the expectation that they should actually be in communion with the Catholic Church, and that they should reject sin and having been to Confession desire to live the life of Grace in communion with the Church Jesus founded, a chocolate Luther can be shared by anyone. In chocolate Luther, we can all be sharers. As lutheran-lady-bishops wander to and fro, holding in their fingers a portion of the sweetness of Luther's broken body, to the words, 'A bit of Martin Luther', everyone can reply 'Amen'. To those who might find even this difficult, the words could be changed to , 'Do you want a bit of chocolate, dear', who would refuse?

Theologians might argue whether all chocolate takes on a degree of Lutheranisn and everyone is waiting for Cardinal Kasper's latest book, following on from 'Mercy', the world is hungry for 'Chocolate'. and Catholics of course wait for the words of the Great Chocolatier, or should that be the Great Confectioner, for a definitive statement.

Will bits of Luther be handed out at the next Consistory? Will some reactionary Cardinals develop a chocolate allergy?

The ecumenical world awaits a marzipan Calvin, a licorice Cranmer and a toffee Knox, all of which are due to appear in Rome over the next few years.

For now, choco-luther anyone?

Friday, October 14, 2016

A New General

Image result for Arturo Sosa AbascalThe new Jesuit General, Fr Arturo Sosa Abascal, from Venezuela.

At one time the whole Ultramontane project depended on the Jesuits, that fourth vow that senior Jesuits take of obedience to the person of the Pope, has meant that from their origin there has been a certain special relationship of Pope and Jesuits.

Ignatius of Loyola had said, 'Putting aside all private judgment we should always be ready to accept this principle: I will believe that the white I see is black, if the hierarchical Church so defines it.'

For many the Jesuits are a law unto themselves, a secretive, plotting group, known for their duplicity. From their beginning they grew wealthy and powerful, owning vast estates, the size of countries in South America, they were major exporters of and traders in both Asia and the Americas. Their education establishments were designed to form the influential and the wealthy and to extend their power base.

In the 20th century there were many heroic Jesuits suffering in the prisons and gulags of the Communists, and many struggled on the side of their people against the right-wing dictatorships of South America. Yet there were many accusations that not an insignificant number of the Jesuits themselves had taken on a theology that was more inspired by Marx and Engels than Jesus Christ. In Argentina, as in many places throughout the world the Society was deeply divided. In the case of Argentina and its Provincial, Fr Jorge Bergoglio, the division seems to have focused on eirenical group around the the Provincial, engaging in real-politik and radical cultural-warriors, whether they were wielding the Rosary or the red flag. The divisions have lasted and continued when the Provincial became archbishop of Buenos Aires within the diocese, and now within the Church as a whole.

Their fourth vow is perhaps the Society's greatest problem, really because the Pope's mind and will is interpreted by the General, or by the Provincial. Rarely have Popes revealed their minds to the Society as a whole, Benedict XVI did of course by telling them to return to promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Holy Eucharist. When the General can say he has the Pope's mind on a matter he does indeed become a second Pope, and if the Pope is weak or politically oppressed, the Black Pope can easily become the real power within the Church, especially if the Society of Jesus has control of many the Church's formational, educational and financial institutions.

Bergoglio was banned from even entering a Jesuit house by Arrupe because of his disruptive influence how interesting it will be to see how gets on with the new General.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cardinal-elect Simoni

Simoni. Albania.A friend of mine rang up last night excited that a priest he knew was being made a Cardinal.
My friend had worked in Albania for almost a decade and the Cardinal-elect is Fr Ernest Simoni, who suffered imprisonment for 28 years.
He was betrayed by his sacristan, on his release one of his first visits was to him, he embraced him and asked him to come back and continue his service.
In prison, at least in later years, his guards and local Communist officials would invite him to come and bless, or sometimes exorcise their homes.
Now, he spends much of his time giving spiritual direction and hearing confessions.
See Zenit's comments

Gifts: another thought

Catholics, Anglicans walk the talk as they seek unityJust one last thought following on from the last post.
What would the reaction be in Orthodox circles if the Pope gave either the Patriarch of Constantinople or Moscow a pastoral staff or another episcopal ornament?
It would of course never happen, or if it did it would probably cause a riot amongst the Orthodox, there would be cries of Papal aggression, monks on Athos would riot, names and Sees be struck from dyptrichs, East / West ecumenism will grind to a halt.
But Anglicans are a breed apart.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Rings and things

Image result for athenagoras paul feet"The image is the message", that apparently is what the Holy Father said about the meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow, the first since the the sixteenth century (?) but not as the Vatican Press Office inaccurately reported since the 11th Century.

Blessed Paul VI might have said the same about image being message after his falling at the feet of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras and kissing them at their meeting in Jerusalem. He was overcome by the encounter which was indeed the first since the Great Schism. Apparently the dear old thing would often burst into tears or make some extraordinary gesture. It was gesture politics, he was a man of gestures, to the point where many, not just his enemies, questioned his mental balance. Alas, poor Hamlet!

For Anglicans, there was yet another famous gesture. When he met Archbishop Ramsey for the first time, he gave him the ring he had used as Abp of Milan. Until recently my Anglican friends had told me it was 'Papal ring', that is the Fisherman's Ring, but no, it was a spare ring he happened to have, for which he had no use. Until his death Ramsey had worn it as his personal ring, it was on his finger as he died and was removed from his corpse, post mortem.

Image result for ramsey ringQuite what the Pope's intention was is anyone's guess. It is stretching things alot to assume it was a repudiation of Apostolicae Curae, or even a recognition of Ramsay personally as a brother bishop. Ramsay had gone to the usual extraordinary Anglican Catholic party's lengths after the publication of the 1928 prayer Book to ensure the 'Dutch tutch' and stories have gone the rounds for years, that after his Anglican episcopal ordination he was ordained by a rogue Orthodox too. Validity was important to him, as was full sacramental and doctrinal unity. For Anglican Bishops of Ramsay's generation, overcoming the problems identified by Apostolicae Curae, which are essentially about the roots of Anglicanism by giving it Dutch roots was seen as a solution. Of course that was before the ordination of women,

Mother Augustina Weihermüller, O.S.B., about 1959
 with pontifical gloves, ring, pectoral cross and crozier!
It is of note that successive Archbishop's of Canterbury have worn this Milanese ring in their subsequent encounters with Popes. For Catholics it is simply a ring, a sign of honour, like rings worn by the Canons of Northampton and other Cathedral Chapters, or even Abbesses, in itself it has nothing whatsoever to do with episcopacy.

Gestures are simply that, gestures. Anglican friends have been deeply moved by the current Pope giving the current a wooden replica of the ivory crozier reputed to have belonged to Pope St Gregory. What does it mean, beyond a photo opportunity? Well, little. It is an act of friendship, a recognition not of episcopal order but of jurisdiction. Nuns too can carry such an ornament, as laymen, 'commendatory abbots', often did. Certainly it is recognition that the carrier has 'oversight' or jurisdiction over a community, whether it is nuns or of Christian people but it says nothing about the validity of orders.

If anything, the giving and receiving of a ring or crozier says more about the recipient and their relationship to the giver than it does about the one who does the giving, receiving a crozier from another involves an acknowledgement that they are in some sense your superior, this is what the Investiture crisis was all about.

By his reception of a crozier from the Pope, although it was still in its box, did Abp Welby concede that that his authority to exercise jurisdiction (not orders) comes from the Bishop of Rome. Was it repudiation of, "the Bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction in this realm of England". For those of Byzantine sensitivity about sign and symbol what was the significance of the crozier still being broken in its parts in its plastic covered box when carried out the church by the bishop. In this time of the most Ultramontane papacy ever, 'Dottore' Welby, as he was referred throughout the joint service should beware of Argentinians bearing gifts.

Added a little later
Image result for welby pope blessingSomeone, an Anglican. asked me about the Pope and il Dottore Welby given a shared blessing, it is unfortunate but much to their credit that Anglicans seem to have a higher theology of such things than most Catholics. For most of us a blessing has become simply a prayer.

In the past the Pope Francis seems to have been happy to be prayed over by Pentecostals and to have received their blessing whilst kneeling, and even to have hands laid upon him.
In parishes around the world lay people (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, especially) seem to bless other lay people with impunity.
The post - concilliar Rituale seems to have stripped any sense of 'change' to a blessed object, it merely thanks God for the object or person.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Feast of the Rosary, a celebration of Intolerance and Partisanship

As an aging hippy and son of the Council, I am uncomfortable with today's Feast.

Yes, it says in the Missal its the Memoria of Holy Rosary in the Old Rite it is a Feast but it is actually the commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto and the triumph of the Catholic forces under Don John of Austria. Pius V got the Church to pray and the Catholic navies won the day. Christians destroyed the dominance of Muslim forces in the Mediteranian and the BVM was venerated as Our of Victories, and all over Catholic Europe churches and chapels were erected in her honour, that is in honour of the destruction of the enemies of Catholic Christendom!

For the Catholics of the 16th Century, it was simple, Christianity was threatened, we had recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary and God acted. This feast is not about shades of grey but black and white: it is the Catholic faith good, Islam bad.

This feast challenges us to see God as Lord of History and on the side of the Church, to see the Mother of God as intolerant and partisan, this is not 21st Christianity!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Silent Church versus Chattering Church

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Why do attacks on the Church always begin attacks on contemplatives? It was the Carthusians the French masonic government first attacked in 1903, just as bloody Henry had begun his English Reformation with martyrdom of St John Houghton and his Carthusian companions.

The silent Church is always a greater threat than the chattering Church. The chattering Church is easily manipulated, it depends on its own resources, its own wisdom and insights, it is receptive to novelties and eager for change. The silent Church is close to Christ, it contemplates the essential mysteries of the faith, it is in the World but not of it, it depends not on its own resources but the Power of God. It is united to an unbroken Tradition.

The silent Church is a Church of prayer, it is not inactive but neither is it yet another NGO, its activity comes from its contemplation, its communion with God. The chattering Church is the foundation-less house built on sand, that has no permanence and come wind and rain will be swept away.

Pope Benedict in many ways has repeatedly acted a little like an Old Testament prophet, choosing prophetic signs often over words. I cannot help but think his retiring to a life of contemplation is a prophetic sign to a Church far more interested in chatter than silence.

Cardial Robert Sarah has an interview in Le Nef, translated here,  it preludes his new book The Strength of Silence - Against the dictatorship of Noise, at the moment it is only available in French. In the interview he speaks of silence in the Liturgy, returning to the subject of ad orientem worship, one can grasp a little of why he understands it as being so important.

Friday, September 30, 2016

To Sign or Not To Sign

I signed a private letter to their Eminences requesting clarification of certain aspects of Amoris Laetitia, as we saw in the Synod, such is the dysfunctionality of the Church in recent times,  even private letters from Cardinals to His Holiness, are leaked, so the making public of a letter from us is not unexpected.
Life Site News reports this, on that letter, we are indeed in cruel times!
Many of the signatories of the scholarly appeal remain anonymous to protect their reputation and jobs. Yet some are still suffering pressure for their attempt to stay faithful to Church teaching and tradition.
LifeSiteNews has gathered information – confirmed by several of the signatories, including the spokesperson, Dr. Joseph Shaw – that one signatory, who is well known internationally,  has lost his position as a director of academic affairs at a Pontifical university.
Another was threatened by his bishop that his academic sabbatical would be canceled, but he found another bishop willing to allow him to begin the process of incardination in his diocese.
Yet another has been forbidden to speak publicly about Amoris Laetitia, and another has been told to rescind his signature.
And a Cardinal put pressure on one of the signatories to withdraw his name.
Two clear conclusions can be drawn: first, many of the suffering parties are under pressure not by remote institutions but by high-ranking individuals in the hierarchy. Second, the scholars’ document has opened the discussion on a wide public field and given rise to similar demands by individuals and groups.
There is another letter on-line, a Declaration of Fidelity to the Church's Unchangeable Teaching which you may consider signing.

I can well understand many clergy not signing, not because they don't believe 'the unchangeable teaching' but because they fear the consequences, which isn't necessarily the displeasure of their bishop,
Fr Raymond de Souza has written a couple of interesting articles for the Herald, the latest is headed "Amoris Laetitia is destined to be forgotten" I can agree within him, Amoris Laetitia is best forgotten, and will soon be forgotten, it is a novelty as far as Papal teaching is concerned. The subsequent leaked letter (all these leaks!) of the Pope to the Bishops of Buenos Aires is a repudiation of the teaching of all Pope Francis' predecessors. I can't help being in two minds, if you have an eccentric but lovable grandfather, who does or says something stupid, or even illegal does one draw attention to it or look a little askance and ignore it.

We used to study Papal documents in the parish, I haven't done this with either Laudato si and I certainly won't do it with Amoris Laetitia, it is just too big, it just goes on and on. It is as one bishop described it to me as a 'very subtle document', so subtle that the Holy Father himself when questioned couldn't remember one of its most controversial footnotes.

Bigging it up, especially as it goes far beyond the powers of a Pope, as defined by either of the Vatican Councils could be described as sharing in folly. Orthodoxy has a sense that in order for a Council or the Magisterium of a Patriarch or bishop to become the Church's teaching it has to be accepted by the Church, though some dissident or sycophantic bishops might extol the more controversial aspects of Amoris Laetitia, this is actually an eccentric view. From both the Church's history but also from the Synod itself the controversial aspects of Amoris Laetitia have already been rejected.

The good thing is that the Pope is not the Church, it is not ruled according to his whim or the latest leak, his bright ideas are not that important, what matters is the faith, which is given it by Jesus Christ himself. The Church has a way, overtime, of purifying itself. It might well be that Church at a given time appears to be dominated by Protestantism or Arianism but Jesus is the Lord of history and the Church and has and will triumph.

Friday, September 23, 2016


Pope Francis attends an interfaith peace gathering outside the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, Italy (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Assisi: as Fr Lucie Smith says needs revamping, it is a bit like any ecumenical event, it becomes self-referential, a bit 'same old' a bit dull. I have always justified it to those Catholics who disapprove of 'Assisi', as being the Pope being recognised in some sense as 'leader' of all 'faith communities', I admit its not necessarily good theology.

I don't know who draws up the guest list, or more significantly the veto list, presumably for the more important it is the Pope. This year the dear old Dalai Lama being struck from the guest list, that is not insignificant - presumable a more acceptable (to the Chinese and therefore Rome) patriotic Lama was found as a substitute for Chinese approved Tibetan Buddhism. I don't know if the there were other Chinese 'faith communities', most probably not Falun-gong. China and its treatment of Christians is deeply worrying, read this from First Things or the Catholic Herald on organ harvesting. It is pretty harrowing stuff but it is these are people, the Chinese government, Holy See plans to allow to choose Catholic bishops.
Image result for Assisi

Patriarch Bartholomew was also there behind and obviously junior to the Bishop of Rome but then to be honest he is always in need of friends (and money) being starved of both not only by Moscow and Athens but also the increasingly hostile Turkish state, which under Erdogan is taking a significant turn against the countries tiny Orthodox community, there have been accusations the Phanar was involved in the coup against him. As things are it is quite possible next year depending on how things develop with Moscow, or whether the Holy See wants a closer relationship with Turkey, he too could be on the way out, or being even more junior.

There were of course Sikhs and Bahá'ís who are always glad of an invitation: reaching out to other religions is part of their creed. This time round from the photographs there seemed to be a lack of pagans, animist and spirit worshippers. I don't know if the Vatican prohibits Voodooists, Spiritualists and Satanists, there didn't seem to be many in the photographs.

Image result for AssisiThere were various Jewish and Islamic leaders who were more 'ecumenical' than most of their brethren who frankly would not be seen dead at such an event or even in the company of those who would attend such an event. Many of course are what Catholics might consider 'Liberal'

What should not be forgotten is that Assisi is much more a political event than a religious one, increasingly it seems like event to show favour to political friends and disfavour to those who might compromise the Holy Sees global ambitions, as a peace maker of course, and at the table of peace-makers.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Drinking to Conscience?

I haven't seen the inside but the outside of this week's Catholic Herald reminds me of the words in the document on Christian Unity about the terrible scandal of disunity. "Leaks, intimidation, claims of heresy". indeed seem to be a mark of today's Church, indeed they seem to be more obvious marks of the Church than 'One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic', and increasingly so, there is a brutality and anti-intellectualism in today's Church, based on ambiguity, confusion and incoherence

It is an irony that the the Pope, himself, 'the minister of unity' should become the focus and source of disunity. Perhaps that is precisely what the Conclave of 2013 desired when it elected Jorge Bergoglio, he was already known as a divisive figure in both the Society of Jesus and his home diocese of Buenos Aires. In Et in Unum Sint John Paul had recognised the Papacy. among Christians in general, was a source of division and invited a discussion on the role of the Pope in the Church of the future. After Francis the Church will need to clarify, again, for its own adherents what is the role of the Pope, in what way is Universal Pastor, in what way should he exercise his jurisdiction, or even voice his personal preferences.

We all speak infallibly when recite creed or when we speak the truth of the Gospel. With the the Orthodox I suspect Pastor aeternus, with its hedging round of and very narrow definition of Papal powers is perhaps less divisive than the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, which most (all?) Orthodox would consider as unnecessary novelties. One could argue that the Great Schism only gathered theological significance with the promulgation of Ineffabilis Deus  in 1854 until then in practice Orthodox and Catholics believed that which was 'held always, everywhere and by all'.

As the headline says, "The Communion row gets nasty", I fear for many Catholics that rather than as Newman says, "I shall drink to the Pope, if you please, still, to Conscience first", we must make a conscious choice between Conscience and the Pope, and that choice will have very uncomfortable consequences for those who feel compelled to follow conscience. The Kasper doctrine which the Pope has signified he favour is for many of us a sign of the distancing of the Church from Revelation and the person of Jesus Christ, that is not what the Church is for. When we ask for clarification from the Cardinals of the Church, as we are bound to do, we are met with either silence or told, as we were in England, by many of our superiors that Cardinal Nichols 'was displeased' that we should even voice such a concern in a private communication to him and his fellow Cardinals, that is the absolute moral low ground, though maybe a not entirely unexpected response. It is certainly not what the Pope himself calls for, 'open fearless debate' nor is it inline with a Catholic search for truth and is certainly not 'pastoral' to leave Christ's faithful in a state of uncertainty and confusion. Recently someone asked, "Having divorced sixteen years ago in the light of the Pope's new rules, can I look for a new wife?
Another man was just angry that he thought his forty-five years of continence since his own marriage broke down was now considers by the Church as unnecessary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mutual Enrichment Goes Both Ways

This is a video of President Kennedy's funeral in 1963, amazingly it is 'Low Mass of a Bishop' with music, as opposed to a sung Mass or Missa Solemnis.
It is pretty apparent when the Old Rite influences the New, since Summorum Pontificum, that has been quite considerable, which I suspect was the main reason for it promulgation but people often ask to what extent the New Rite has had an influence on the Old. I don't think that today a prominent Catholic figure would be buried today with such a perfunctory Rite celebrated in such perfunctory way, even though Low Mass in the Old Rite without music is normal. Apart from a Mass with a Bishop I have never attended Low Mass with music, before the Council it seems to have been quite usual, in Germany first, then elsewhere there was Mass with hymns, before Veterum Sapientia hymns in the vernacular were widespread, hence the large repertoire of Catholic hymns. In Frances there were those pretty organ Masses.

Cardinal Cushing's manner of celebration today would be regarded as unusual even shocking to a Catholic who normally attends the Traditional Mass, it certainly seems to be light on prayerful recollection, possibly even in 1963 prelates were getting used to the use of not always reliable microphones.

Of course what we might do with Old Rite today might well regarded by our forefathers as a bit prissey

Monday, September 19, 2016

Mass Yesterday

I thought you might like this, it is our choir singing at Mass yesterday, with some pictures of the Mass. We ended with the traditional blessing for those departing on journey and a good  dousing with Holy Water for the Sisters and gave them a few souvenirs of Brighton, an even balloons (the balloons play no part in the Mass!) Poor Servant of the Mother of God don't get them often.

I shall miss the Sisters, they are good, holy, sensible women, who are much loved here.

p.s. the recording was done on a portable telephone, so the sound of our choir is not the best, though I thing they sound pretty good.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Garden of Allah

It is nothing about Islam. It is a 1936 film with Marlene Dietrich. It is about two people finding themselves. One is Dietrich, a devout Catholic, the other is a Trappist monk who has lost his faith and run away.
It gives an insight into spirituality of duty and the power of vows that we seem to have lost. It doesn't quite end happily but it does show the power of sacrificial love and self denial and placing God first.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Destruction of the Order of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate

Image result for "Franciscans of the Immaculate" benedict
Nothing seems to sum up the new brutality of Church life than what has happened to the Franciscans of the Immaculate. To his discredit Fr Volpi, the now deceased Papal Commissioner, brought various spurious legal actions against them all of which were thrown out by the Italian courts. Now gossip, innuendo and intimidation are the weapons used against them.

The reason for all this according to Franciscans of the Immaculate is not merely their support of 'Tradition', though all of them seem happy to celebrate both forms of the Roman Rite but their opposition to the speculative doctrines of Karl Rahner, the Jesuit.

Image result for "Franciscans of the Immaculate" volpi
How far has the destruction of the Order of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate progressed? This is the updating of a chapter that is like a dark shadow on the pontificate of Pope Francis.
In 1969 two Fathers Minor, Stefano Maria Manelli and Gabriele Maria Pellettieri, asked the Father General of the Order, after a thorough study of Fontes Franciscani, to be allowed to start a "new experience of Franciscan life" back to its original rigor. In 1970 an abandoned monastery of the Order was made ​​available to them where they gathered more men over time, and with the establishment of a female branch, women also joined. In 1990, the Community was canonically recognized as a separate order.
read more here

Friday, September 16, 2016

Irish Catholic's Response to Pope's letter

So here is response of the Catholic press to the Holy Father's letter to the Argentinian bishops, explaining, what bishop described as "a subtle document". Yes the sub heading is 'in strict circumstances", but this is not how it will be read, it is the head-line that matters.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Holy Cross, not like the corpse of a saint!

Image result for fragment "Holy Cross"I always feel uncomfortable coming across a piece of the True Cross in a museum I never know what to do, to gawp or fall on my knees.

Those who are thinking about 'doing something' on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross should remember that a fragment of the Holy Cross has more in common with the Blessed Sacrament than a bit of bone or the corpse of a dead saint.
All the prayers and rites surrounding the True Cross presumed the wood of the Cross was drenched in the life giving blood of Jesus - it was never treated as a merely relic. The Good Friday veneration of the Cross has its origins in the veneration of the Cross in Jerusalem, it seems fitting that a fragment of the True Cross should be used rather than an image of it but, however that is not what the Rite calls for.
Nevertheless when not exhibited for public adoration a fragment of the True Cross should be kept veiled in red, when it is exposed we are supposed to genuflect to it, in the same way as we do when the image is exposed on Good Friday, when it is carried in procession a red canopy or umbrellino is used and when a blessing is given with it, as with the Blessed Sacrament, a humeral veil is used, symbolising the blessing is not the priest's but come directly from God.
NLM has some nice photographs from the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Austria.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Canon 212 is IMPORTANT

Image result for church council

Canon 212 is important:
"Christ's faithful have the right, and, indeed, sometimes the duty, according to their knowledge, competence, and dignity, to manifest to Sacred Shepherds their judgement about those things which pertain to the good of the Church".

This is one of the chief roles of members of the Sacred College of Cardinal with regards to the Pope. It is often the onerous duty of bishops, presbyters and deacons and the lay faithful too. For priests it is one of the images of Lumen Gentium, them gathering as co-workers with the bishop, not in the sense of a bishop lording it over his priests but working with them, for deacons there are all those patristic texts about being the bishops eyes and ears. What we are not supposed to do is be silent. A silent Church is either dead or fearful.

The good Fr Hunwicke has an important post about an important issue here. I too have heard about pressure being put on individuals to shut up and stop asking embarrassing questions. This kind of bullying is not good for Christ's Church. Telling people to hold their tongues, whether it is about the debate Cardinal Sarah tried to start (in fact started by Joseph Ratzinger) about the orientation of worship, or that letter of 13 Cardinals to the Pope during the Synod, or the book Remaining in the Truth by 10 Cardinals which Cardinal Baldissieri intercepted rather allowing it reach Synod participants or the 500 priests supporting the Church's traditional view on marriage, or the issue Fr John raises, now about intimidation of the 45 theologians and pastors who wrote the letter to Cardinals and Patriarchs asking for clarification of certain aspects of the otherwise beautiful Amoris Laetitia.

Intimidation can work on several levels from the Mafia boss who sends messages saying, "I know where you live", to someone threatening to deprive someone of their living or home, all too easy in the Church. It is especially worrying when the downright heretical are give free range and those who defend what has always, and everywhere and at all times been held as being the Catholic faith are treated with violence. This is not mercy, this is violence in action, so very much at odds with the doctrine of our Holy Father.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Need for Judgement

Just to prove I am still alive, thanks for the enquiries, Mgr Pope, always a good read, makes a point about fraternal correction and how essential it is to the life of the Church.

Nowadays those loathe to make a judgement about the moral behaviour of an individual quote the Pope's, 'Who am I to judge' remark, they forget the second part of what he said which qualified the first part, which is itself a very clear judgement, 'if they are seeking God'. In this particular case His Holiness has the individual is seeking God, even if it is in a rather chaotic lifestyle.

I am not exactly sure the Pope's remarks are always wise but here they remind us that the search for God itself 'justifies' us sinners, we are not after all Gradualists. The problem of scandal remains, we cannot lose souls simply because we are afraid to correct one another.

Perhaps the big problem in the Church today is that Christians are so tolerant that we have almost become amoral, or at least so tolerant of sin that we have nothing to say to sinners.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Ark was seen in the Temple

I love this image from  the Beatus Facundus, it is a simple theological statement as bold as the colour scheme of this extraordinary theological work. It simply says Mary is in heaven clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and adorned by the stars.

The woman with the moon under her feet and the dragon has more significance in the Iberian peninsula that was struggling with the liberation of Spain during the lengthy reconquest period, which was fueled in part by the expectation of the second coming as the end of the first millennium drew near.

It comes from that period when East and West had a common theology.
The double page illustration adds depth: God has rescued her. Though the dragon seeks her destruction it is held at bay by angels, who will eventually subdue Satan.

Looking at these illustrations there is sense that they are concerned about theological fact: Mary, the Woman is in Heaven. They are not concerned with the mode of her transferal but with the statement of what scripture states, In comparison the artistic depictions of the Assumption from Trent onwards and even Munificentissimus Deus seem a little effeminate, even prissy, little wonder another priest can speak of the definition of Pius XII as 'radical austerity, the innovative agnosticism'.

Although the story of an Apostolic Funeral following Our Lady's passing is charming, and illustrates well Our Blessed Lady's death, it is obviously an illustration of and not root of the doctrine of the Assumption. This comes from the New Testament Apocalypse 11:19, where John says, 'Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the Ark of his Covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm'. He then speaks immediately aftewards of, "the Woman", who is obviously Mary, and yet is also the summation of all the women of the Old Testament. Mary is the ark who contains not the symbols of the Old Covenant; the manna, the tablets of the Law and Moses' staff but the bread come down from heaven, the Law writ on a heart of flesh and not the symbol of Moses' authority but the source of it.

If we are to have a truly Christian faith, we must learn to love Mary as did Christ and the Apostles, and give her the same honour she is given in the New Testament.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Towards a Fourth Edition

I am fascinated by Joseph Ratzinger's liturgical writings, he says the Bugnini created the post-concilliar liturgy 'ex nihil' and yet he performs elaborate gymnastics to graft roots onto it.  Ratzinger's life work was see the hermeneutic of the Church in terms of 'continuity', simply because, although it is possible to understand it in terms of aggiornamento, it is impossible to see it in terms of  'rupture'. Rupture is simply not Catholic. Ratzinger pushed forward the idea of reading the Council its documents being understood in the continuity with all that had gone before but he actually spoke little directly about liturgy, the fons et origo of the Church's life and theology, in these terms. Yet of course his liturgical style, his choice of liturgical ornament spoke of 'continuity' but the greatest act of 'continuity' was of course the recognition of what scholars had been saying for decades the the ancient was not abrogated and what was good for past generations is still good and has value for us today.

One of the things that Ratzinger's resignation brought about was quietening of rumours about a fourth edition of the Roman Missal. It was expected to be issued possibly in 2015 or 2016, other events took over so presumably it is awaiting different times. It has apparently long been in preparation by what one or two Italian Vaticanistas refer to as 'the hidden Vatican', those academics and experts who carry on their work no matter who sits on the Apostolic throne. As real academics they are concerned about truth and academic rigour and resolving apparent ambiguity.

The last three CDW Prefects have hinted at the contents of such a Missal, suggestion that a future new edition of the Missal could contain more Latin, even be bi-lingual, has been suggested, the optional use of the ancient offertory prayers, increasing options to include many of the prayers of the 1962 Missal, even the possibility of the preparatory or prayers at the foot of the altar being included. Cardinal Sarah's recent intervention about the orientation of the celebration of the Mass is obviously very much in tune with the thinking behind such a Missal. His idea of the Liturgy of the Word being celebrated facing the people whilst the Liturgy of the Eucharist being celebrated facing the apse seems to be a very sensible implementation of Ratzinger's 'mutual enrichment'.

Whether there will be room in such a Missal for the non-Roman oriental-style Eucharistic Prayers II,III and IV, is another matter, perhaps they might go the way of the various Eucharistic Prayers, which are no longer in current Missal, perhaps they might be included in a supplement? One of the big problems will of course be the two calendars currently in use in the Latin Rite and of course the ancient one year Lectionary as opposed to the three year expanded one.

In this vein there is an interesting article: A Call for the Silent Canon which deserves some thought. In Low Mass the Canon was said in a low mutter, which reflects the origins of Low Mass's monastic origins; multiple priests offering multiple Masses at the altars in relatively close proximity but in High Mass the normal voice used was the un-projected ordinary speaking voice, loud enough for at least the circumstantes to hear and understand. I am told this is how Cardinal Piacenza, who at least was a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, he is the Apostolic Penitentiary at the Vatican, so presumably has some grasp of the Church's liturgical law. I like the idea the article presents that the Eucharistic Prayer is not a 'Presidential' prayer. Perhaps liturgically informed friends might comment here or privately.

At this time, it is perhaps important that those who believe in 'continuity' hold firm to this teaching and celebrate in the liturgy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Archbishop is not pleased!

To be told, "John Charles [Archbishop McQuaid] is not pleased!" was enough to quell not only the clergy of his own diocese of Dublin but the rest of clergy Ireland. Archbishop McQuaid was the worst kind of ecclesiastical bully and did much to reduce the clergy of Ireland to quivering 'yes men'. I am sure one of the reasons behind the Holy Father's call for parrhesia, is the realisation that without open and fearless speech on the part of the clergy, a culture of cover-up and bullying results, in which clergy are simply afraid to speak out, to ask questions and above all to demand answers and clarification. As members of the Presbyterate this is a key priestly function.

This is precisely what did not happen in the Irish child abuse scandal and in the even greater scandal, the episcopal cover-up that followed it, Except possibly in the most deformed form of Ultramontanism bishops, even the Bishop of Rome, are not above question or ever admonishment, No bishop is called to act alone but always with his 'co-workers' his priests. The great beauty of the Catholic Church is that between priest and bishop, despite the titles we might invent and the various bodies we put in place, there is actually no intermediary, the same with bishops and the Pope. 

McQuaid was not alone but some fifty years after his death. it is easy to make him emblematic of a style of episcopacy that today should be regarded as deeply sinister, that replaced the father-son relationship of bishop and priest based on a communion of charity with fear and intimidation, making the bishop more like a mafia boss than a humble disciple of Christ, and making priests into cowed and silent prisoners than disciples. In this country, we actually used to speak of the 'Irish Mafia', which was often a very real power of intimidation within dioceses, it often took the Dublin model of episcopal authority. I remember a young priest being told by episcopal favourite, a leading member of our Mafia, 'I can tell you I have the bishop's ear in this matter'. The young priest replied, 'Really? Then give it back to him Monsignor before he notices'. It was a throw away remark which quickly went round the diocese, and rather quickly led to this particular Monsignor's fall from credibility and power.
For years there have been questions about the theological and consequently moral formation of students for the priesthood at Maynooth, Various bodies have been set up to answer, or as is the way of the Church, not answer questions. There is an interesting article here which shows the rather interesting structures that are set in place to assess student's complaints, which seem more about deflecting and delaying them and ensuring the President is distanced from those who complain, rather than answering them.

The rather ridiculous press statement from Fr Hoban's Association of Catholic Priests reflects that frightening concern of priests of a certain vintage for the institution, rather than a concern for victims of abuse, or a desire for truth. It begins with, "The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) regrets that the seminary at Maynooth College has become a focus of unfair and unwarranted attention," The jury, from what has come to public attention, isd still out on whether the atention is either 'unfair' or 'unwarranted'. It ends with words so reminiscent of the bishops and others over child abuse scandals, "The damage this controversy will do to Maynooth is not in the best interest of the Irish Church."

I don't know if there is a gay culture at Maynooth others can comment on that, what I am concerned about is the abusive culture which seeks to silence questioning and close down debate and place certain people in the Church above intelligent and charitable questioning. This is real sickness within the Church, as far as Maynooth is concerned from the very beginning of a seminarians life there seems to be an attempt to enculturate them into something even more unpleasant and dehumanising than 'gay culture', a culture where obedience to an institution is supposed to take the place of honesty and truth. It is this terrible obedience that opens the door to every kind evil.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Secular France's inability to cope

An Anglican clergyman friend complained that I had posted an Aleteia picture of Fr Jaques Hamel, with the words 'martyr de France' on it. He is right of course France was born out of the Terror, the guillotine cut through the necks of far more priests and religious than oppressive aristocrats. The new Republic was born in the blood of Christ's faithful, precisely because they were faithful. The soil of the Vendee is rich in the blood of Catholic martyrs, the victims of the republic which chose the battle cry of "liberté, égalité, fraternité".

It neither surprised nor shocked any when a French left-wing politician issued the tweet below, and President Hollande, himself, could barely acknowledge that Father Jacques was a priest and was slain before his altar in a church as he offered the sacrifice of Christ.

France is secular, it is incapable of understanding religion, either Catholicism or Islam. I suspect this has been the reason for France's foreign policy failure. Once North Africa and the Middle East was Francophile, it benefited from the French Church's missionary endeavour, it never produced many converts but it did educate and and westernise. Fr Hamel's own involvement in 'dialogue' with Islam is perhaps an illustration of French Catholicism's of the years around the Vatican Council's involvement with Islam. We can see it the life of the Blessed Charles de Foucauld and in the killing of the martyred monks of the Atlas Mountains.

The Bush-Blair wars in the Middle East have caused the destruction of states, untold misery and instability throughout the region. The unfortunate result is that we have to pay for their mistakes - France has chosen to follow the lead of her NATO partners rather than the lead of the French Catholicism.

Closing European borders is no answer, certainly not if Europe (and the US) is to maintain its population. Contracepting and aborting Europe has created a vacuum that sucks in immigrants, the only alternative is a drastic economic and social change, founded on something other than economic power.

French left wing politicians have been going round the TV studios suggesting Fr Jacques murderers, like those in Nice or Paris had psychological problems, or that they were not 'real' Muslims. The Left refuses to even think that there is a Muslim problem. One might be willing to accept that to some degree but the question has to be asked is why are immigrants or the sons of immigrants so alienated from European society? Why should they become deranged, or deeply unsettled by and alienated by our contemporary?

I heard of a group trad -SSPX- nuns in a Paris veiled and wimpled dressed from head to foot in black who are welcomed and respected by the local Muslim community but are often jeered at by the local secularists and Front National. The veil and wimple have now become so un-French. The morality of Catholicism and moderate Islam at least are not that distant, but but there is a huge gulf between it and secularism.

For a barely educated Afghan or Middle Eastern peasant transported to France, or Germany, living in poverty in a Paris suburb, the West is a confusing place, especially if he is living in a lawless ghetto and unable to access to comprehend Western values. In Brighton there was a project, which fortunately fell through, of locating a refugee centre in the centre of Brighton's 'gay village'. In secular France one might expect that it might be a deliberate policy to do this, to expose new immigrants to 'French values', to expect the recently arrived to be immersed in secular culture.

À Brest, le FN réclame la démission d'une élue ex-EELV après "une blague de mauvais goût" sur l'assassinat du prêtre Jacques HamelOne of my parishioners recently asked whether English 'Equality' laws would still exist in 20 years time, it is unlikely with current levels of immigration. Cardinal Vingt-Trois has recently suggested a similar thing, are immigrants going to be comfortable with the secularist agenda: with economic driven feminism, with abortion, with euthanasia, with the gay agenda, with relationships closed to children or with the sexualisation of our children, to say nothing of our drink and drugs culture?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pere Jaques Hamel

If you want know
This is what the priesthood is about
This is what the Mass is about
This is what the Catholic Church is about

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison

Monday, July 18, 2016

Orientation: The crucial question is what is the Mass?

The crucial question is what is the Mass?

St Paul gives the answer, "When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory" 1Cor 11:26.
The Church, from its very beginning until the 1960's, zealously defended this understanding of the Mass over the 'fraternal meal' as its core teaching and consequently its understanding of the Church's life and mission.

Christ's death and return, and our place in it, is at the very heart of Catholic (and Orthodox) belief, it is this after all that is the essential part of the kerygma. It is this that page for page is the substantial part of the Gospels. It is this rather than Jesus' teaching or life that concerns the writing of the Apostles, and the writers of the sub-Apostolic age.

It is with Protestant worship in the sixteenth century where the idea of  the 'fraternal meal' takes over from the proclamation of the Lord's death and return in glory. Protestantism has a supreme discomfort with the notion that the Mass is a supernatural event. In the Catholic Church the 1960's brings in an understanding of the Mass that is essentially one of the 'meal'. It would obviously be foolish to suggest that the Eucharist is not set within a meal but for the New Testament and the Fathers, in fact everyone up to VII, this meal is the sacred act of the Pasch,  a communion  sacrifice with him the Lamb and Victim Priest.

The loss of a sense of the Mass as being about Christ's death and coming again has been the most significant change in both the Church's understanding of herself and her mission. It would be ridiculous to suggest that this change is not signified by the 1960s re-orientation of the Mass and it is for that reason that Cardinal Sarah speaks about the return to the ancient (and correct) orientation of the Mass as being both 'urgent' and 'necessary'.

To suggest that ad orientem and, errr..., contra populum worship are equal I would suggest is without foundation, certainly ecumenically and historically. The Temple was orientated to the East, there are countless reference Salvation coming from the East or with the dawn, the archaeological evidence, the Tradition of all the Eastern Churches all point to the norm of eastward facing as being normative for Christian prayer both liturgical and private,  Msgr Pope in a useful article here reminds us of the care for proper orientation in the Didiscalia written around 250 A.D.
Now, in your gatherings, in the holy Church, convene yourselves modestly in places of the brethren, as you will, in a manner pleasing and ordered with care. Let the place of the priests be separated in a part of the house that faces east. In the midst of them is placed the bishop’s chair, and with him let the priests be seated. Likewise, and in another section let the laymen be seated facing east. For thus it is proper: that the priests sit with the bishop in a part of the house to the east and after them the lay men and the lay women…Now, you ought to face east to pray, for, as you know, scripture has it, Give praise to God who ascends above the highest heavens to the east…
What is significant is that the correct orientation of worship was important for our forefathers. It was not arbitrary, one orientation or another was not a matter of choice, as it is still not in the Churches of the East today. One of my Orthodox friends seriously regards the Catholic Church as being protestant simply in regard of abandoning the the ancient orientation. For the Eastern Churches it is a serious issue, and not one of mere preference.

Westward or  contra populum worship can best be seen by its fruits, the first and foremost is to diminish the crucial question of what the Mass is about: the proclamation of Jesus' death and return in glory, that is unlikely to be the answer coming from most Catholics today, despite mouthing it in the 'Mystery of Faith' after the consecration.
If we get that wrong then our ecclesiology is bound to collapse, because of course the question raised by lay participants is, "what are we doing here?" If the answer is that we are guests at a fraternal meal, then that in itself raises questions, when there are far more fraternal fraternal meals around than a Catholic church on a Sunday morning. Of course what it marks is a departure from Scripture and Catholic Tradition

For the priest too there is more than a little danger, certainly he has always been seen as alter Christus but he has always seen in this role (literally) on the side of worshippers, like them in all things but ontology, rather than a stand in, or even replacement, for Christ the host of the meal. With the magnification of the priestly role comes also the exultation of congregationalism. Cdl Nichols warns against "personal preference" and yet the whole notion of forgetting the Pauline understanding of the Mass and raising the role of the priest means that individual congregations develop their own style of worship, their own musical tradition, their style of ministry, their own set of preferences, and ultimately their own theology.
Some priests reject the celebration of ad orientem worship based simply on the fact that their congregation would re-act against it. Could it actually be that they have already developed their own congregational theology that is at odds with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church also includes the Eastern Rites and has a history that goes back through the centuries to Jesus Christ and the apostles. Not understanding the significant fracture that non- ad orientem worship introduces is itself a sign of seriousness of our break with the past and the depth of the hermeneutic of rupture.

Friday, July 15, 2016

No 'Personal Preferences'

Apparently, in the light of Cardinal Nichols recent email members of the Brigade of George for Defence Against Liturgical Abuse (and Preferences) are being sent into his diocese to make sure there is absolutely no 'personal preference' used in celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy.
Each of these 'surveyors' has been highly trained and will answer a detailed questionnaire regarding the rubrics of the Mass. Of the over 1000 questions some of these might well be on the list.
Did the priest wear the correct vestments? Was the stole worn under or over the chasuble? Was his neck-wear completely conceal by an amice or the alb, especially in the case of religious with hoods? If he were a bishop was his pectoral Cross worn correctly? Was it suspended on a cord or chain? Did he wear the correct cassock? Where was the Blessed Sacrament reserved. Were the correct chants sung? If hymns were used did these correspond to the text of the Missal. Where hymns from a list approved by the Bishop's Conference? Was anything placed before the altar, chairs, flowers to obscure its significance? Did the priest extend his hands when performing the functions of a deacon eg at the Gospel? Were the correct Offertory prayers used? Were auxiliary bishops prayed for in the Eucharistic Prayer? Was EPII used on a Sunday? Was the correct voice used for various prayers? Were additional devotions inserted into Mass? Was the liturgy interrupted by any unauthorised rite, such as praise of small children bringing pictures into church? Were the correct translations of the Mass used? Did the blessing of  'communicants' take place during the distribution of Holy Communion? Was there any dancing before, during or immediately after Mass? Were there puppets?

It is expected that once the questionnaires have been answered it will take His Eminence several months to deal with each 'personal preference'. Some of course are personal preferences, some are congregational preferences and some the people in the choir gallery's preference, but some of course are downright abuses, were these take place, and are ongoing, they will be reported to the Cardinal Prefect of the CDW.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

When did facing the people become normal?

Just asking: where in the Missal or elsewhere is the priest directed to say Mass facing the people?
What document of the Church makes it normative?
The earliest CDW document I can find is from 2000, which simply suggests it as an option, 'to facilitate communication', but by then practically every priest in the Latin Rite was doing it, and zillions were spent to facilitate it, but who said do it and where?
The Missal clearly implies the priest faces the 'apse', and says when the priest faces the people.
Cardinal Nichols assumes it to be normative but gives no reference for such an assumption.

Even the Tridentine Missal allowed for those peculiarities, mainly Roman Papal altars, where the altar is built over a Confessio of a martyr so it was impossible to stand in front of the altar -with the people- but this was an exception. Indeed in the Michaelangelo re-ordering of St Peter's the people that mattered, the Papal Court, knelt behind the Pope between the Altar of the Chair and the High Altar.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cdl Sarah: Fallout and the Real Battle

I posted this comment on Fr Hugh's excellent blog, and on a thought provoking piece he published today entitled: The Fallout and Propaganda: Cardinal Sarah and Sacra Liturgia 2016. Fr Hugh speaks of the enthusiastic reception of the Cardinal's invitation to begin ad orientem celebration in Advent, I remember being at another conference when another CDW official made a similar statement, with a similar reaction from the floor, a few of us actually did re-orientate our worship. In recent years, after Pope Benedict's papacy, the urgency of the situation has gathered momentum.
Thank you again Fr Hugh, your accounts have been invaluable for those us unable to the conference.

The real issue here, with the Missal, is the same as with the Council itself: how should it be read?
It is either in the hermeneutic of 'rupture': meaning forget what the documents themselves actually say, forget what scholarship says, forget what the competent authorities say, or else it is 'continuity', which means a return to a strict reading of the text, listening to what scholars are saying, and listening to competent authorities.
In this skirmish the whole battle of the VII is being played out, including the rather shameful and not quite truthful bullying by the advocates the hermaneutic rupture of those who uphold the hermeneutic of continuity.
My personal fear is that despite what the texts clearly say and is open to everyone to read, that some 'experts' really hold an arcane truth revealed only to them, it is really about de-democratising the Church, and placing control into the hands of an elite and arcane oligarchy, who despite clear evidence insist they alone have authority to make a 'correct' interpretation.
This is not just about the preference of the priest as Cdl Nichols suggests, it is about how we read and implement the Church's teaching. In the case of Cdl Nichols email to his clergy it also seems about arrogating a power to himself that properly belongs to priests.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Far be it for me to correct Cardinal Nichols but...

Image result for vincent nichols
Far be it for me to correct Cardinal Nichols but it does strike me their Eminences are often badly informed or confused nowadays, he has sent an email to his clergy warning them off of follow Cardinal Sarah's call for offering Mass ad orientem.

There is a paragraph here:
Following Cardinal Robert Sarah’s appeal last week during the the Sacra Liturgia conference in London, Cardinal Nichols who is Archbishop of Westminster, wrote to priests reminding them that, “the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, approved by the highest authority in the Church, states in paragraph 299 that ‘The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible. The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the centre toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns. The altar is usually fixed and is dedicated.’”

His Eminence is wrong in his interpretation of this rubric that "which is desirable whenever possible", is not Mass facing the people, but that the "altar should be built apart from the altar from the wall". Perhaps the Cardinal should read Fr Lang's excellent Turning towards the Lord. Fr Lang is actually resident in his diocese.

This is how the CDW interprets it:
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been asked whether the expression in n. 299 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani constitutes a norm according to which the position of the priest versus absidem [facing the apse] is to be excluded. 
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, after mature
reflection and in light of liturgical precedents, responds: 
Negatively, and in accordance with the following explanation.
The explanation includes different elements which must be taken into account. First, the word expedit does not constitute a strict obligation but a suggestion that refers to the
construction of the altar a pariete sejunctum (detached from the wall). It does not require, for example, that existing altars be pulled away from the wall. The phrase ubi possibile sit (where it is possible) refers to, for example, the topography of the place, the availability of space, the artistic value of the existing altar, the sensibility of the people participating in the celebrations in a particular church, etc.
I have the protocol number for this letter somewhere, I can't find it at the moment perhaps someone might help out with it.

The pre-Vatican II  Sacred Congregation of Rites, had always recommended the separation of altar and walls and also the building of gradines behind altars so that candles and relics might be placed on them and not the consecrated mensa which was reserved for things which were truly necessary for Mass.

Mass in his cathedral is always more beautiful when celebrated according the rubrics, perhaps they should be read by HE, particularly those parts which talk about turning towards the people, which assume at other time he is not.

Petrus tells me 
"Prot. No 2086/00/L is the one in question"

And see here too

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...