Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cagnacci's Penitent Magdalene

An interesting image of our holy patroness by Guido Cagnacci, I would find this too distracting as altarpiece but it is good meditation for the beginning of Lent.
Mary hears from Martha the Good News of Salvation, she repents and is willing to strip of the vanities of this world, 'Virtue' comes with power and vice flees. Martha and the Magdalen carrying her vase of unction then leave chiarascuro of house of bondage to enter the light of Christ.
This painting is at the National Gallery from 15 February – 21 May 2017, on loan from Pasedena's Norton Simon Museum

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Who am I for?

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"I am for Paul; and I for Apollos; and I for Cephas; and I for Christ" 1 Cor 1:12
The Church being divided into  partisan groups is what I fear if Pope Francis' papacy goes much further, it is the risk of be distanced from Christ that I dread and Francis and those of his faction seem to want me to take.

Over forty years ago I made the decision that the Catholic Church was true because it alone held fast to the teaching of Jesus on the permanence, until death. of those who it married. It taught this doctrine in cultures and periods of history that rejected it. It alone was willing to condemn kings a emperors because Jesus hmself had taught it. In England, even in the time of corrupt popes the Catholic Church was willing to lose nations and for its clergy and laity to suffer the most grievous tortures.

Image result for Metropolitan Anthony BloomWhen I met Catholics, many were unable to receive Holy Communion because they knew what Jesus had taught and for love him abstained. Others in recognition of his Real Presence lived heroically as brother and sister. This is the Church I joined, the Church I have loved, the Church which I recognise as

True. Protestantism had its attractions, Orthodoxy had its beguiling beauty and with the friendship and spiritual depth and erudition of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, it almost won me over, especially as Catholic Church post VII, post Humanae Vitae was at a pretty low ebb.

But it was the Catholic Church whose voice rang out as being true, its voice alone which rang out as being in accord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It strikes me that under Francis we are being stripped of certainties which sustained our forefathers consciences even in prisons dark, The Catholic Church's role is to bring us to Christ, to live united in Communion with him, Schism does indeed beckon and we will all have to ask, "Who am I for?"

For many it will tear our hearts apart.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Putting up Walls

When history looks back on the Papacy, how will Francis be judged?
It could be that he is seen as 'The Great Reformer'* , turning his back on 2000 years of Church teaching and starting something new. Those who disparage this position are perhaps blind to the fact most of the baptised have already done this, perhaps the Pope is merely catching up with them and the rest of the world.
Maybe the role of the Pope is to become the leader of a World Council of Churches or even religions,

When people criticised JPII's Assisi events, I used to half-heartedly point out that no other religious leader other than the Pope could call together such a band of diverse religious leaders from the Dalai Lama to Animist priestesses. Obviously, as Pope St JPII did, one can read the Vatican Council's documents in this light. Perhaps the Church is destined to become another NGO led by liberal opinion rather than the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Image result for l'osservatore romano fakeBenedict introduced, for good or ill, something new into the Papacy, the possibility of resignation, or of deposition, before that the only way of getting rid of a Pope was murder: smothering or poison, or the quack medicine that finally saw off the ailing Pius XII.

Something seems to be abroad at the moment, posters going up over Rome, fake copies of L'Osservatore or even satirical songs like 'That's Amoris' being circulated among Vatican staff, the response seems to be typical of South American dictators: getting the police in to investigate and clamping down on the perpetrators and treating something which really is school-boyish as a major incident. In response, it seems, even the Pope's Council of Cardinals have made a 'pledge of allegiance'. Today Cardinal Coccopalmerio cancelled a press release of his book on Amoris Laetitia, which some had seen as an answer to the 'dubia', one suspects to be briefed by the Pope and his advisers.

Francis' legacy, whatever else, will be that rather than building bridges he has put up walls between Catholics. The next Conclave must choose whether to go along with course he has set or to draw back. For many liberals like the St Gall mafia the question must be whether they are confident Francis can push forward their agenda or whether he will destroy it and the Church.

*'Great Reformer' with Alexander Borgia was greeted at the beginning of his Papacy, he turned out to be something quite different.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Wounded Healers

I was struck by the claim of this piece: 3 Saints who may have had autism spectrum disorder, there seemed to be a correlation between the Holy Father's reported anxiety about religious orders that have lots of vocations, calls them 'rigourist', yet they attract vocations and others repel them and seem to have nothing to say to the young, either those who are thinking of a religious vocation or those who want to practice their faith.

As a priest myself and someone who has lived and worked among priests for over half my life I have a feeling that most priests I know are somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Is that alarming? It might be to some. To me it just seems normal, we are all damaged goods, wounded healers. It is after all 'by his wounds we are healed' and there is something about encountering Christ through our own needs. Most encounters in the Gospel result from people seeing their needs and turning to the Lord.
I would some priests I know are selfish or egoists but many are or become saintly.

Who is perfect? Who is unwounded? Who is without the scars of our own sins or often more and more significantly the scars of the sins of others?
I always think parents at a baptism who will bring up their child with as much love as possible but will probably leave that child marked, if not scarred, by their parenting. Parents do their best but often their best not perfect -only God is perfect- but is good enough.

Priests and religious choose an exceptional way of life, the norm, is marriage and a 9-5 job, if one probes there are bound to be reasons why God should chooses such men and women, if as seems to be the custom today one discounts the supernatural, then one is left with the individuals psychological needs. Part of the black propaganda going the rounds at the moment is that the Pope is on anti-psychotic medication, he has often spoken about his psychological needs, his reactions to most things seem to be 'psychological' rather than reasoned or rational. Post Freud, post Jung rather than accepting what is, we look for deeper motivation.

In an island where we have seen the dismissal of bishops even a Cardinal, who could hardly be described as 'rigourist', because of sexual predation other psychological problems are perhaps of less significance. The thing is, that as the Holy Father says the Church is a field hospital, but actually we are all patients, our role is to bring our wounded souls to heaven.
In the discernment of vocations - perhaps the most important things is: does this young man or woman desire goodness first and foremost, secondly I would ask are they humble enough to know they have nothing of their own to offer, only JESUS, I don't want people pushing their pet theories or ideologies down my throat, I want the to give the Lord.

Thursday, February 09, 2017


Image result for poison bottle"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord's body." 1 Corinthians 11:29

No loving Pastor would want to give those he loved the poison of damnation, if he did he would be diabolic and not loving at all. St Paul goes on to say, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep" or as some translations have it "have died".

It seems to me that this passage separates shepherds from hired men. Obviously we do not see those unworthy to receive taking the Body of Christ dropping down dead  in front of the altar rail, and I don't think is what St Paul means. What we do see is not individuals but the Church community dying.

Little by little the relationship with Jesus of the whole local church becomes distanced, his moral teaching dies away, we see no reason to evangelise, no reason why any of the commandments or any other part of his teaching should have any effect in our lives, we see no reason for a Redeemer and the Fatherhood of God is diminished to a senile old grandfather and we are closed to the action of the Holy Spirit and the Life of Grace is closed to us.

Christian charity dies and effectively the Church is DEAD

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Abp of Cracow celebrates his inaugural Mass 'ad orientem'

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The Polish congregation who celebrate Mass here on a Sunday seem delighted by the new Archbishop of Cracow Mgr Marek Jędraszewski. His inaugural Mass was celebrated in the Wawel Cathedral on 29th January.

Interestingly he chose to celebrate Mass ad orientem, see from 1:28 on the video

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A fearful email from Malta

I had this email from a friend in Malta who is concerned about the high handed way in which Archbishop Scicluna is dealing with his clergy over Amoris Laetitia,  I will be grateful if others could verify or otherwise its details. It is very sad that faithful priests are mocked by their bishop, who despite his CDF credentials and the apparent rebuke from Cardinal Mueller has not yet retracted his singular interpretation of the Pope. Several unconnected people have told me similar things by telephone or email.

If any other Maltese priests wish to comment anonymously, I will happily withhold their names before publication they can either comment in the combox or contact me here.

I can understand why many of you might be somewhat afraid.
On Sunday this article appeared in The Sunday Times of Malta: in which Archbishop Scicluna says that he has held 'frank discussions' with his priests regarding the Maltese Criteria on Amoris Laetitia chapter 8. 
This is did not happen. 
Apparently all parish priests of Malta last Wednesday, 1st February were summoned to a meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna held a scheduled meeting last Wednesday, 1 February 2017. They were to attend by SMS text sent from the President of the College of Parish Priests. It was made known, also but not in writing, that the Abp will talk about the Criteria, but no one will be allowed to say anything in return. He started off by saying that he was not he was not planning suspend any of his clergy (many have read this as a subtle dig at Bishop Mario Grech, the Bishop of Gozo, who was reported to have threatened suspension to one of his priests because he found objection to the Criteria - See this link  
I know for a FACT that he did threaten to suspend this priest. Mario Grech is known for his bullying tactics: See here Several people have told me this

During the meeting, Abp Scicluna repeatedly  stressed that there there is only one interpretation of AL - the interpretation given by the Pope himself  to the bishops of Argentina. The Abp also said that if this is the interpretation offered by the Pope himself, who are we to say otherwise. He kept repeating the mantra he had said in a homily on the 25th January 2017 see here 
The mantra is this: We have one Pope, the present pope - Francis and reminded his parish priest that this principle is is the most traditional of principles: we follow whatever the Pope says. He went on to say that if the next Pope says something else, we will then follow what he says. We have one choice fundamentally; we are either Catholics with the Pope or we are not. The Archbishop quoted Saint George Preca, the Maltese saint, who said: Ego sum cum Papa semper. 
After the Archbishop spoke, the parish priests were not encouraged to voice their concerns.  Scicluna also took pleasure in attacking one of the parish priests who had been interviewed anonymously : see this link  
Many parish priests were disgusted at how Scicluna, while brandishing a copy of the newspaper, openly mocked the parish priest for speaking to the journalists about his concerns. Many said after that if this is how he deals with dissent, then they will not speak to him, and prefer to follow their own conscience in the matter.
It is worth and important to point out, that at that very morning, the interview with Cdl Mueller denouncing the rogue interpretation of Chapter 8 of AL, was published. Scicluna, while mockingly acknowledging its existence, he chose to ignore it completely even though Mueller clearly corrected the Maltese Criteria. This comes from multiple sources.
In the meantime, one of Abp Scicluna's attack dogs, Father Joe Inguanez, who is one of a group of liberal clerics who have plagued the local Church for decades, has written an article in the local press stating that Mueller's comments in no way correct the Maltese Criteria.
See this link:
We are quite desperate here in Malta.

Monday, February 06, 2017

'Ad Orientem' here

A priest friend asked me if I knew of some good catechetical material to teach about 'ad orientem' worship. Maybe you might be able to help him out in the 'comments box'.

For us the transition from 'contra populum' to 'ad orientem' was relatively easy as it happened in 2009 just after the publication of Summorum Pontificum. The great advantage we had was because of our restoration work we had no sanctuary floor for almost three months, the only sensible option was to celebrate Mass facing East in the narrow space between the pews and the sanctuary. In fact when the boards were laid and we did return to facing the people there seemed a general sense that East was best and at that time was the mind of the Pope, as it had been up until the late sixties the mind of the Church. Very occasionally, like once or twice a year, a visitor of which we have many might express surprise at the orientation of our worship, though the normal, almost weekly comment, is about the beauty of the Mass and the quality of our music.

We did do some catechesis, for Lent we, those took a significant role in parish liturgy studied Benedict's Spirit of the Liturgy but the for the majority of the congregation what convinced them was not catechesis but the actual experience that 'ad orientem' was obviously right and fitting.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Cardinal Müller: It is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace.

Image result for cardinal mullerI hope everyone has read the interview with Cardinal Müller, amidst the toppling heads of the lawless and ambiguous Rome he speaks with Magisterial clarity.

Q: Can there be a contradiction between doctrine and personal conscience?
A: No, that is impossible. For example, it cannot be said that there are circumstances according to which an act of adultery does not constitute a mortal sin. For Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for mortal sin to coexist with sanctifying grace. In order to overcome this absurd contradiction, Christ has instituted for the faithful the Sacrament of penance and reconciliation with God and with the Church.
A: “Amoris Laetitia” must clearly be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church. [...] I don’t like it, it is not right that so many bishops are interpreting “Amoris Laetitia” according to their way of understanding the pope’s teaching. This does not keep to the line of Catholic doctrine. The magisterium of the pope is interpreted only by him or through the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. The pope interprets the bishops, it is not the bishops who interpret the pope, this would constitute an inversion of the structure of the Catholic Church. To all these who are talking too much, I urge them to study first the doctrine [of the councils] on the papacy and the episcopate. The bishop, as teacher of the Word, must himself be the first to be well-formed so as not to fall into the risk of the blind leading the blind.
Q: The exhortation of Saint John Paul II, “Familiaris Consortio,” stipulates that divorced and remarried couples that cannot separate, in order to receive the sacraments must commit to live in continence. Is this requirement still valid?
A: Of course, it is not dispensable, because it is not only a positive law of John Paul II, but he expressed an essential element of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments. The confusion on this point also concerns the failure to accept the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor,” with the clear doctrine of the “intrinsece malum.” [...] For us marriage is the expression of participation in the unity between Christ the bridegroom and the Church his bride. This is not, as some said during the Synod, a simple vague analogy. No! This is the substance of the sacrament, and no power in heaven or on earth, neither an angel, nor the pope, nor a council, nor a law of the bishops, has the faculty to change it.
Q: How can one resolve the chaos that is being generated on account of the different interpretations that are given of this passage of Amoris Laetitia?
A: I urge everyone to reflect, studying the doctrine of the Church first, starting from the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, which is very clear on marriage. I would also advise not entering into any casuistry that can easily generate misunderstandings, above all that according to which if love dies, then the marriage bond is dead. These are sophistries: the Word of God is very clear and the Church does not accept the secularization of marriage. The task of priests and bishops is not that of creating confusion, but of bringing clarity. One cannot refer only to little passages present in “Amoris Laetitia,” but it has to be read as a whole, with the purpose of making the Gospel of marriage and the family more attractive for persons. It is not “Amoris Laetitia” that has provoked a confused interpretation, but some confused interpreters of it. All of us must understand and accept the doctrine of Christ and of his Church, and at the same time be ready to help others to understand it and put it into practice even in difficult situations.
And do see the erudite Fr Hunwicke on the interview.

Statement of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy on Amoris Laetitia

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Just in case you haven't seen it elsewhere here is the recently published statement of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy on Amoris Laetitia
As members of the International Confraternities of Catholic Clergy we believe there would be great value in an authoritative interpretation of the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia in line with the constant teaching and practice of the Church. This statement comes in light of continuing widespread divergence of understanding and growing divisions in practice. A clarification is clearly needed to correct the misuse of the Apostolic Exhortation to undermine sacred Tradition. We therefore thank the four eminent Cardinals who have recently submitted their dubia to the Holy See, requesting such clarification. The Confraternities recognise that this action has been taken out of love for the Church and concern for the salvation of souls. As the Cardinals themselves have made clear, this step has been taken with deep respect for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and should not in any way be used to foster divisions in the Church. The grave danger to the unity of the Church due to increasing moral relativism must be honestly faced and clearly remedied.
As pastors of souls, we are well aware of the many challenges facing the men and women of today. We strive to help our people, often living in complex situations, to hear the call of Christ and his Gospel. This task is made easier when the Church expounds her teaching boldly and clearly. It is also essential that the Church’s discipline must always follow her dogmatic teaching. In particular, since at the present time there is much confusion, it is necessary to make clear that Holy Communion cannot be given to someone choosing to live in a sexual relationship with a person other than their validly espoused husband or wife. Those who find themselves in this situation are of course deserving of pastoral support and must be helped to play as full a part in the life of the Church as their circumstances allow. In connection with this, it is important to state that conscience is not a law unto itself replacing the holy law of God with private judgment, but rather an echo of the voice of the Creator. The dignity of conscience must be assisted to overcome all ignorance and protected from becoming ‘practically sightless as a result of habitual sin’ (Gaudium et Spes, 16)
Requesting such a clarification, which reiterates the perennial teaching of the Church, is an act of filial love by faithful sons of the Church who turn to our Supreme Shepherd seeking his paternal guidance. It is our desire that this elucidation will enable us and other Catholic priests and deacons to carry out our ministry in ways that are faithful and effective. We hope that this request for clarification may be an occasion for the Holy Father to feed and tend the flock entrusted to him by the Lord and to support us, the clergy, in doing the same.

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...