Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Brotherhood of Mankind"

Image result for leo xiii

Joe Shaw has an interesting piece on Hamish Fraser's conversion.  It reminds me of my own conversion from socialism to Catholicism.

Fraser discovered Leo XIII's social teaching, for me it was the discovery of the lived experience of Catholicism, formed in part by Leo's teaching. As a Socialist there was something beautiful about a 'brotherhood of mankind' but it seemed to exist nowhere.

When I became a Catholic in the 1974 the liturgical destruction had already occurred but so many of those things that Dr Shaw speaks or hints of remained intact, there was still a 'Catholic culture'. Catholics believed in Life, so many of those I came across were involved in the caring professions because they were Catholics, they were doctors, nurses, social workers and teachers, they had larger than average families because they were Catholics. Family prayer, giving generously to the missions, caring about education were still marks of their faith, and whether they were politically right or left their politics came out of their faith rather than being an adjunct to it. In my own town it was Catholics who set up the first shelter for the homeless, It was Catholics who were predominant in caring for the handicapped. The two best schools, after the ancient Grammar school, were staffed by priests and religious sisters. Though not that common it wasn't unusual to see the nuns in the streets. The first visit I ever made to hospital before I even went to school I remember impressed by a Vincentian nun in her highly impractical coif, presumably she was there training. At my secondary school we had for a few terms a retired Jesuit, all our teachers wore gowns if they had a degree, he wore a gown and a cassock.

It wasn't that Catholics were ghettoised as our now retired Cardinal so often used to suiggest but rather they came of a strong place to give vigour to our society. Dr Shaw hints at what I discovered, that in the Catholic Church, under the fatherhood of God a new social vision existed a real brotherhood of man.

Our loss is more than a liturgical tradition, it is a culture. Nowadays the great problem of the Church is not what we have lost but the fact that we have now very little to offer, the problem is not what has been taken but that which have freely given up and we have no alternative vision to offer.

It was in the chapel of these sisters, not in their mother house but in the chapel of their convent of their hospital a few miles away, I was received and made my first Holy Communion.


James Callender said...

Couldn't agree more Father.

Long-Skirts said...


They cancelled all color
Sanctuaries stripped
First Communions were duller.

No crinoline whites
Pale hues they stressed
Only pearled-Pharisees
Are ever so dressed.

Roses, carnations,
Flowers, all manners
Left just to wither
Gainst assertive beige banners.

Pillars of marble
Corinthian styles
They decided to paint
Like pink bathroom tiles.

Cassocks of red
Habits blue, white,
Robes of distinction
Extinct over night.

Missals with pages
Embossed in gloss-gold
Latin in tint
English-black to behold.

Even the ribbons
To mark scriptural prayers
Were of green, yellow, silvers
So to keep us from errors.

The soft votive flames
The red opaque glass
Gave an aura of stillness
Like time could not pass.

Yet time it passed
Vividness drained
And populations without color
Cannot be sustained.

So those underground
Tradition’s red in blue veins
Birthe vocations, the True Mass
Great virtues they’ve gained.

They did not decay
God’s colors kept green
For the day up above
Once again to be seen.

Except for those beige
Gray fertility fades
In their black open minds.

Pelerin said...

I am surprised that there are no comments yet to Father Ray's words. Perhaps readers are a little stunned by his thoughts that the Church has very little to offer today?

The video clip was very moving and at the end were links to other films one of which I watched part of with interest although unfortunately I was not able to watch it all as I failed to find it again. One of the Bishops interviewed (not British) said :- 'Let's be honest, the Church is in a state of lethargy at the moment.' The film was dated 2003 some 14 years ago. I wonder what the Bishops have since done to try and reverse this state of lethargy?

Peter M said...

The Church has nothing to offer? Well, your Church is not the same as mine! I help out with one of many Catholic charities, this one operates in several very poor countries and cares for the most marginalised and vulnerable members of society. These include abandoned children with mental and physical disabilities, children born with the HIV virus whose parents have died from AIDS, teenage or younger pregnant girls who have been thrown onto the streets, children living on rubbish tips and many others. We provide homes, schools, clinics for our residents and as our homes are situated in the communities that abandoned the children, we provide training and jobs for local people both as carers and in our businesses - farms, potteries, bakeries- so that these people can earn money to lift them out of poverty and to enable our projects to be self-sustaining. The centre of each community is the chapel, masses are packed with residents, local people (as the church is often the only church in the area) and our volunteers, young old who come to help. We show people who had nothing that God loves them and that we love them too and they will never be abandoned again. Volunteers invariably testify that their lives have been changed by the experience - some have become or are currently training to become priests. The masses may not be in latin, the vestments may not be expensive, the music is definitely not gregorian chant, but the Lord is really present. So if anyone reading this feels that the Church has nothing to offer, I am sorry for you, you are missing so much. There are so many Catholics working to obey the Lord's command to love God and to love their neighbours.

Stephen Turton said...

I noticed the Sunday evening mass I've just been to at Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral this evening is certainly an example of the social solidarity of catholicism - families, women, groups, pairs of friends, of virtually every colour and race I observed, elderly white people, young English, Polish workers, and Asians of every kind, Africans,all happily at one in a mass totally familiar to them - no diffidence in difference in offering the sign of peace. The Eucharist and the church have the power to create that.

Physiocrat said...

Keep an eye on Moscow. It is the fulfillment of one of the Fatima prophecies. Are we reading the signs of the times correctly?

Long Skirts - it has not gone away.

Easter liturgy in the church the communists destroyed in 1932

Physiocrat said...

@PeterB - you are right but it has to be both-and. The Catholic church will die if it is little more than an efficient welfare organisation supported by well-meaning people.

We exist, first and foremost, to proclaim with joy the Risen Christ and to follow Him. We do not achieve this by embracing as we have the cult of ugliness - ugly buildings, ugly music, ugly vestments, ugly statues, ugly everything. What does that say?

The liturgy is the signifier which becomes the thing signified. Weaken the signifier and the whole eventually dies. That is why the sixteenth century reformers began their work with an attack on the liturgy.

The use of a shared common language is a sign, and a means of sustaining the catholicity of the Catholic Church. Get rid of it and the catholicity fades away as the church splits up into national groups. This is painfully obvious in my own parish.

Ana Milan said...

The Catholic priesthood is the only way the faithful can access the Sacraments & Holy Liturgy given us by Christ Himself. If that isn't something spirituall & life-saving to offer then I don't know what is. The difficulty is getting them to realise this & giving their full attention to carrying out their ordination vows to the full. They must shake off the cloak of Modernism in all its guises.

fidelisjoff said...

Fr Ray's comment related to the Church here which in almost every way is a shadow of its former self. It's great that charities do such good but souls everywhere need to be saved alas here we should have grave concerns the loss of the moral compass, the failure to maintain our teaching and the victory of worldly values.....Much has been lost...And just forget about vestments and Latin and Gregorian chant you do the have to "endure" that anymore but rather seek it out and as a younger Catholic is see the loss of beauty in this loss as well...The older generation have much to reflect on in failing to pass on the fullness of faith.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray, when you speak about the Church having little to offer, I am puzzled.

To me, the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ will always have lots to offer...

The Church Militant may seem at this time to have little to offer to some, but this same Church offers me the sacraments...which I treasure and for which my heart rejoices despite the evil I see in the very highest levels of the Church.

Christ and His Church, Bridegroom and Bride. How on earth (and in heaven) for that matter can we say the Bride has little to offer?

To me, as I pray the Stations of the Cross I see my Lord disfigured, hurting, practically dying from His wounds. So too, I see His Bride, the Istitutional Church on earth, on her own Via Dolorosa. But in her very suffering, she has much to offer, as did Her Bridegroom.

I cannot say the Church has little to offer, because then I would be saying the same for the Bridegroom. And He has offered us everthing, and continues to offer the same through His Bride.

Physiocrat said...


The Catholic church in my part of the world offers sacraments, accompanied by poor quality settings of the Mass, heavy doses of Lutheran hymns on top, ie dreary and consciously anti-Catholic music carrying a completely different message, with inappropriately dressed female eucharistic ministers, painfully loud organ music, ugly church buildings and a lot more besides, the fruits of the Second Vatican Council and its ambiguously worded documents.

I was fortunate enough to miss this event, which typifies the dire state of affairs, complete with Protestant battle hymns from the time of the Thirty Years War for communion - it is like singing the Horst Wessel Lied at a barmitzvah.

Physiocrat said...

@Ana Milan "The Catholic priesthood is the only way the faithful can access the Sacraments & Holy Liturgy given us by Christ Himself."

That is not entirely correct. And the Novus Ordo Mass as usually celebrated is not easily perceived as the representation of the Sacrifice of Calvary.

Anonymous said...


you say,

"The Catholic church in my part of the world offers sacraments, accompanied by poor quality settings of the Mass, heavy doses of Lutheran hymns on top, ie dreary and consciously anti-Catholic music carrying a completely different message, with inappropriately dressed female eucharistic ministers, painfully loud organ music, ugly church buildings..."

I do understand because that (and worse), is what happens, my part of the world... for example, one female liturgist/eucharistic minister has decided that everyone can receive the Eucharist, whether they are Catholic or not. I have spoken to her and to the presider priest, but the priest has abdicated, and leaves the responsibility to her. ... this has led me to put an extra weekly hour of Adoration, specifically for reparation of the offenses (on my part, and others who should know better)against Our Lord and His Bride, the Church. ...

This is also precisely why I have said that the Church is on her own Via Dolorosa, where many of the very people (people, bishops, clergy...) who are supposed to be there to preserve her dignity, and the beauty of all that she offers- which includes the sacraments, are defiling her.

However, no matter how she is defiled by the likes of ourselves, Our Holy Mother Church still has much to offer: our eternal salvation, and the means to achieve it. Which is why I still am puzzled about Fr. Ray's comment.

God bless

P.S. Fr. Ray, you and other blogger priests are included in my prayers during the weekly Holy Hour that I do especially for priests, bishops, Cardinals, and yes, even our current Holy Father. Praying for your return to health, as a special intention for you.

CatholicNI said...

Which priesthood will you be defending?

Peter M said...

I agree with Physiocrat that our primary obligation is to proclaim with joy the Risen Christ and to follow him. So as Christ's command is to love our neighbour, the proclamation and the love expressed by the caring activities of the Church are equally important - unless you did it unto the least of these my brethren etc. You can't have the proclamation without the caring, and vice versa.

As for the comment on 'painfully loud organ music' - I spent this morning playing the organ for a Novus Ordo mass and an Extraordinary Form Missa Cantata. I don't know whether it was painfully loud, but I pulled out all the stops as we are still in the Easter season and I received comments after both masses that the music had helped people to worship.In my experience, complaints by people about the organ being too loud are due to a) the church having bought an electronic instrument and placed the speakers in the wrong place and b) the complaining person insisting on sitting next to the speakers.

Physiocrat said...

@Peter M

Our church has installed the pipe organ which was originally in the First Church of Christ Scientist, now the Cadogan Hall. The organists (we are on our third in the past five years), are oblivious to please to play at a lower volume. I have even demonstrated the problem with a sound meter. It is impossible at times for the choir in the gallery to sing over it.

There is a more general problem with non-Gregorian ie diatonic/metrical music. Scientists are discovering that music has a powerful effect on the mood of the singers and listeners. This is not new knowledge, as it was known to the ancient Greeks; PLato refers to it in Book III of Republic.

Church music is written in the modes that Plato praised as engendering courage, solemnity and joy, in porticular the Dorian and Phrygian. The ordinary major and minor scales correspond to the modes which Plato said promoted depression, drunkeness, idleness and lassitude.

Plato gives this warning.

"Then to sum up: This is the point to which, above all, the attention of our rulers should be directed,–that music and gymnastic be preserved in their original form, and no innovation made. They must do their utmost to maintain them intact. And when any one says that mankind most regard ’The newest song which the singers have, they will be afraid that he may be praising, not new songs, but a new kind of song; and this ought not to be praised, or conceived to be the meaning of the poet; for any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited. So Damon tells me, and I can quite believe him;–he says that when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them.

"Yes, said Adeimantus; and you may add my suffrage to Damon’s and your own.

"Then, I said, our guardians must lay the foundations of their fortress in music?

"Yes, he said; the lawlessness of which you speak too easily steals in.

"Yes, I replied, in the form of amusement; and at first sight it appears harmless."

Luther, as is well known, used a new kind of music to promote his new Protestant religion. We should not be surprised that the removal of modal Gregorian music has helped to destroy people's Catholic faith. Why we have replaced it with Lutheran music can only be through ignorance or stupidity, unless it is a deliberate action of sabotage

Anonymous said...

Fr not to correct you but I was taught of the brotherhood of man under the father-ship of God. the comment made by your recommended confrere says we stood out amongst the other faiths, today we do not and we are part of some weird christian community where the common currency is not of our faith. in this commonality we are minority members since vat 2. t as an anglican canon wrote in a commentary on vat 2, "now we can evangelize them (us).

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