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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Further on the priests' Support for Marriage Letter

Wedding ring Louvre AC924I put the press release, text and signatures of the Support for Marriage Letter in one post for the record. There are one or two things to add.

The letter was been published first on the Catholic Herald website and it will feature in the Catholic Herald printed magazine later this week. See Nearly 500 priests in England and Wales urge synod to stand firm on Communion for the remarried.

There have been one or two queries. A couple of priests have asked whether they could sign it as they did not have the chance to do so. I understand that the organisers of the letter did try to send a copy to every priest in England and Wales, but a database with such a large number of entries is bound to have a few mistakes. Unfortunately, I am told that there is no easy way to add signatures now. This was a competely independent undertaking of a small number of concerned lay people.

One or two lay people have asked if a letter could be organised for laity to sign. I would recommend lay people to keep in touch with Voice of the Family and to share ideas with them because they are a specifically lay group. Priests and laity each have their own important apostolates

Anybody, priest or lay faithful, who agrees with the priests' letter can help by using their own social media channels to publicise the letter and speak to others about the key points in it.

It is also open to every member of the Christian Faithful (clerics and laity) to manifest their concerns to the Holy See. Here are two possible addresses to write to:

HE Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri
Secretary General, Synod of Bishops
Palazzo del Bramante
Via della Conciliazione, 34
00193 Roma

HE Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller
Prefect for The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11
00193 Rome Italy
email: cdf@cfaith.va

Support for Marriage Letter from priests of England and Wales

See also the post Further on the priests' Support for Marriage Letter for answers to one or two questions. Here is the text of the Press release from the co-ordinator of the letter, followed by the letter itself and the list of signatories:

Press release from the co-ordinator of the letter:

Hundreds of Priests in England and Wales urge Vatican Synod to end confusion over Marriage and Sexuality.

In a dramatic turn of events, nearly 500 priests from England and Wales have written a letter in defence of the ‘traditional teaching on marriage and human sexuality’ in anticipation of the forthcoming Vatican Synod on the family. This letter comes at a time when a growing number of Catholics are concerned that the gathering of Church leaders in Rome, scheduled for October 2015, will seek to re-think Gospel teaching on marriage, sexuality, repentance and grace. Some Cardinals, particularly from Germany, have suggested that Holy Communion could be received by those in second and non-marital unions, or that active homosexual relationships could receive some positive recognition.

Despite the official channels of representation set up by the dioceses of England and Wales, a high proportion of the country’s priests felt the need to make their voices heard by an extra-ordinary open letter, which speaks of a climate ‘of moral confusion’ created by media coverage of the Synod and a lack of clarity from official church leaders in stating the settled teaching of the Catholic Church.

The large number of signatories is surprising since the initiative came from increasingly concerned laity and is not officially supported by any ecclesiastical body. One priest, who asked to remain anonymous, said that there ‘has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior churchmen’.

Another priest, when asked why such a large number of priests are so keen to sign the letter, said, ‘It’s a matter of pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel. Mercy requires both love and truth. There’s a lot at stake. Not all priests would be comfortable expressing themselves in an open letter, but I’d be very worried if there were priests who disagreed with the sentiments it contains’. The letter calls for fidelity to Catholic teaching, and that practice should remain ‘inseparably in harmony’ with doctrine. The priests state that they remain committed to helping ‘those who struggle to follow the Gospel in an increasingly secular society’, but imply that those couples and families who have remained faithful are not being adequately supported or encouraged.

There is a growing suspicion that the Synod will unleash division in the Church by attempting to re-shape Catholic teaching and practice to accommodate modern ways of living and thinking about relationships and sexuality. When asked whether this letter was reactionary or merely extreme traditionalism, one pastor responded, ‘Were Saints Thomas More and John Fisher obscurantist conservatives? No. They gave their lives in defence of the indissolubility of marriage. Catholics at the time of Henry VIII were willing to give up a thousand years of Catholic life and culture to defend the inconvenient but timeless truth. Now is our time to give witness’.

Theologians, philosophers, canon lawyers, well-known educators and evangelists are amongst the priests who have signed this appeal. Their letter urges those who will be pre-sent at the Synod to defend doctrine and put an end to confusion.

The letter and full list of signatories:
Sir,

Following the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2014 much confusion has arisen concerning Catholic moral teaching. In this situation we wish, as Catholic priests, to re-state our unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality, founded on the Word of God and taught by the Church’s Magisterium for two millennia. We commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting this teaching in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges of the Gospel in an increasingly secular society. Furthermore we affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony. We urge all those who will participate in the second Synod in October 2015 to make a clear and firm proclamation of the Church’s unchanging moral teaching, so that confusion may be removed, and faith confirmed.

Yours &c.
Fr John Abberton, Fr Raymond Abuga MSP, Fr Benedict Bullem Abuo, Fr John Adikwu CM, Fr Richard Aladics, Fr Dominic Allain, Fr Hugh Allan OPraem, Monsignor John Allen, Fr Jim L Allen, Fr Blaise Amadi, Fr Moses Amune, Fr Thomas Amungwa, Fr David Annear, Fr Matt Anscombe, Fr Paul Antwi-Boasiako CSSP, Fr Gabriel Arnold OSB, Fr Thevakingsley Arulananthem OAR, Fr James Austin, Fr Francis Austin, Abbot Francis Baird OSB, Fr Gerard Balinnya, Fr John Barnes, Fr Kurt Barragan, Fr Lee Barrett, Fr Bernard Barrett, Fr Andrew Barrett, Fr Christopher Basden, Fr Jeremy Bath, Fr Antoine Baya OFM, Fr Michael Beattie SJ, Fr Miceal Beatty, Fr Lee Bennett, Fr Jerome Bertram CO, Fr Kazimierz Bidzinski, Fr Pawel Bielak, Fr Jonathan Bielawski, Fr Robert Billing, Fr Martin Birrell OSB, Fr Paul Blackburn, Fr Raymond Blake, Fr Terry Boyle, Fr Constant Botter SCJ, Fr Bede Rowe, Fr Bernard Boylan, Fr Cornelius Boyle, Fr Stephen Boyle, Fr James Bradley, Fr Jonathan Brandon, Fr Martin Breen, Fr John Brennan, Fr Neil Brett, Fr Charles Briggs, Fr Marcus Brisley, Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB, Fr Andrew Brown, Fr Stephen Brown, Fr Martin Budge, Fr Solomon Gidu Bulus, Fr Alan Burgess, Fr Paschal Burlinson OFMCap, Monsignor Andrew Burnham, Fr David Burns, Fr James Burns, Fr Peter Burns, Fr Gerard P Byrne, Fr John Cahill, Fr John Cairns, Fr Xavier Calduch, Fr Joe Calleja, Fr Victor Camilleri OFM, Fr Darren Carden, Fr Patrick Carroll, Fr Bernard Caszo MSFS, FrJohn Chandler, Abbot David Charlesworth OSB, Fr.William Charlton, Fr Neil Chatfield, Fr Gregory Chillman OSB, Fr David Chinnery, Fr Dominic Chukka, Fr Eddie Clare, Fr Basil Clark, Fr James Clark, Fr Peter Clarke, Fr Jose Claveria, Canon Joseph Clements, Fr Michael Clotheir OSB, Canon Matthew Coakley, Fr Anthony Cogliolo, Fr Christopher Colven, Fr Anthony Conlon, Fr Thomas Connolly, Fr Philip Conner, Fr Francis R Cookson, Fr John Cooper, Fr Robert Copsey SOLT, Fr John Corbyn, Fr Eamon Corduff, Fr Hugh Corrigan OAR, Fr James Cosker, Fr Francis Coveney, Fr Ross SJ Crichton, Fr Finton Crotty SSCC, Fr Edward Crouzet OSB, Fr C Crowther, Fr Michael Crumpton, Fr Anthony Cussen SMA, Fr Justin Daanaah, Fr James Daley MHM, Fr William Damah, Fr Michael D’Arcy-Walsh, Fr Jeremy Davies, Fr Philip de Freitas, Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP, Fr Timothy Dean, Fr Patrick Deegan, Fr Scott Deeley, Fr Richard Diala CM, Fr Paul Diaper, Fr Gary Dickson, Fr Charles Dilk CO, Fr Stephen Dingley, Fr Michael Docherty, Fr Charles Dornan, Fr Kevin Dow, Fr Jeffrey Downie, Fr Francis Doyle, Fr Marcin Drabik, Fr Gerry Drummond, Fr Tom Dubois, Fr John Duckett, Fr Richard Duffield CO, Fr Anthony Dukes, Fr Bruce Dutson, Fr Paul Dynan, Fr Philip Dyson, Fr James Earley, Fr Peter Edwards, Fr Robert Ehileme SMM, Fr Wilfrid Elkin, Fr Mark Elliot-Smith, Fr Joseph Etim, Fr Jude Eze, Fr Josaphat Ezenwa, Fr John Fairhurst SJ, Fr Ian Farrell, Fr Joseph Farrell, Fr Robert Farrell, Fr James Fasakin CSSp, Fr Prassad Fernando, Fr Christopher Findlay - Wilson, Fr Tim Finigan, Fr Kieran Fitzharris SVD, F. Gerald Flood, Fr John Fordham CO, Fr Andrew Forrest, Fr Thomas Forster, Fr Peter Fox, Fr William Fraser, Fr Patrick Gaffney CSSp, Fr Michael John Galbraith, Fr Andrew Gallagher, Fr Francis Gallagher, Fr Michael Gallagher, Fr Piotr Gardon SC, Fr John Gaul SCJ, Fr Guy de Gaynesford, Fr Vincent George CM, Fr Paul Gibbons, Fr Damien Gilhooley, Canon Leo Glancy, Fr Peter Glas, Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP, Fr Gonzalo Gonzales, Fr Maurice Gordon, Canon David Grant, Fr Brian Gray, Fr Andy Graydon, Fr Christopher Greaney, Fr John Greatbatch, Fr Julian Green, Fr Ian Grieves, Fr Nigel Griffin, Fr Philip J Griffin, Fr Tom Grufferty, Fr Jozef Gruszkiewicz, Fr Anton Guziel CO, Fr Bernard Hahesy, Fr Henryk Halman FDP, Fr John Hancock, Fr Neil Hannigan, Fr Francis Capener, Fr Stephen Hardaker, Fr Andrew Harding, Fr Benedict Hardy OSB, Fr David Hartley, Fr Raymond Hayne, Canon Brendan Healy, Fr Ian Hellyer, Fr John Hemer MHM, Fr Simon Henry, Fr Jonathan Hill, Fr Michael Ho-Huu-Nghia, Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Angelus Houle, Fr John Hunwicke, Fr Geoffrey Hurst, Fr David Hutton,
Fr Patrick Hutton, Fr Raymond Hynes OFM, Fr Jude Iseorah SMM, Fr.Matthew Jakes, Fr Dylan James, Fr Slawomir Jedrych, Fr John Johnson, Fr Michael Jones, Fr Peter Jones, Fr Darryl Jordan, Fr Kevin Jordan, Fr Nicholas Kavanagh, Fr Brendan Kelly, Fr Daniel M Kelly, Fr John B Kelly, Fr Michael Kelly, Fr Peter Kelly, Fr Joseph Kendall, Fr Vincent Kennedy OFM, Fr John Kennedy, Fr Ian Ker, Fr Brendan Killeen, Fr Peter Kirkham, Monsignor David Kirkwood, Fr Krzysztof Kita, Fr Peter Knott SJ, Fr Vitalis Kondo, Fr Jaroslaw Konopko OFMCap, Fr Saji Matthew Koottakithayil MSFS, Fr Wojciech Kowalski SDS, Fr Douglas Lamb, Fr Michael Lang CO, Fr Julian Large CO, Fr John Laybourn, Fr Brian Leatherland, Fr.Paul Lester, Fr Nicholas Leviseur, Fr Jacob Lewis, Canon Michael Lewis, Fr Joseph Liang AA, Fr Gladstone Liddle, Fr Christopher Lindlar, Fr Denys Lloyd, Fr Laurie Locke, Canon Bernard Lordan, Fr Christopher Loughran, Fr Roy Lovatt, Fr Robbie Low, Fr Alexander Lucie Smith, Fr John Lungley, Canon Brendan MacCarthy, Canon John Angus MacDonald, Fr Stanislaus Maciuszek, Fr Hugh MacKenzie, Canon Peter Magee, Fr Brian O Mahony CSSP, Fr Kieran Mullarkey, Fr John Maloney, Fr Aleksander Marcharski, Fr Geoffrey Marlor, Fr Francis Marsden, Fr Bernard Marsh, Fr Terry Martin, Fr John Masshedar, Fr William Massie, Fr Michael Bateman, Fr Stephen Maughan, Fr Laurence Mayne, Fr Paul McAlinden, Fr James McAuley, Canon Anthony McBride, Monsignor Canon Kenneth McBride, Fr Ian McCarthy, Fr Derrick McCulloch, Fr John McCullough, Fr.David McDonald, Canon John McElroy, Fr John McFadden CSSP, Fr Terry McGarth MSFS, Fr Brian McGilloway, Fr Denis McGillycuddy, Fr Brendan McGuinness SDB, Fr Rupert McHardy CO, Canon Patrick McInally, Fr Bernard McInulty, Fr Michael McLaughlin, Fr William McMahon, Fr Martin McPake SVD, Fr Anthony Meredith SJ, Fr Stuart Meyer, Fr Nazarius Mgungwe, Fr Jan Milcz CSsR, Fr Philip Miller, Canon Paul Mitcheson, Fr Thomas Monaghan, Fr.Augustine Monaghan MHM, Monsignor Vaughan Morgan, Fr Richard Moroney, Fr Mark Morris, Fr Stephen Morrison OPraem, Fr Frederick Moss MHM, Fr Andrew Moss, Fr Deodat Msahala, Fr Clement M Mukuka, Fr Ted Mullen IC, Fr Ghislain B Mulumanzi, Fr John Mundackal, Fr Aidan Murray SDB, Monsignor Provost Cyril Murtagh, Fr Noel Bisibu N’Tungu, Fr Bijoy Chandra Nayak CMF, Fr James Neal, Fr Arthur Nearey, Fr Roger Nesbitt, Fr Peter Newsam, Fr Ponder Paulinus Ngilangwa SDS, Fr Guy Nicholls, Fr Aidan Nichols, Fr Julius Nkafu, Fr Peter Norris, Fr Bernardine Nsom, Canon Kevin O Connor, Fr Dominic O Conor, Fr Liam O Conor, Fr Patrick O Doherty, Fr Kevin O Donnell, Canon Vincent O Hara ODC, Fr Conleth O Hara CP, Fr Dominic O Hara, Fr Andrew O Sullivan, Fr Kevin O Toole, Fr Robert Ogbede CM, Fr Flavin Ohayerenwa CSSp, Fr Tobias Okoro, Fr Addison Opkeoh, Fr.Clement Orango MCCJ, Fr John Osman, Fr Arockia Mariadass Pagyasamy OCD, Fr Binu Palakapally IC, Fr David Palmer, Fr Fortunato Partisano, Fr John Pascoe, Fr Michael Patey, Fr Eoin Patten, Fr Sunny Paul, Fr Maurice Pearce, Fr Anthony Pellegrini, Fr Neil Peoples, Fr Leon Pereira OP, Fr David Phillips, Fr Terry Phipps, Fr.Andrew Pinsent, Fr Dawid Piot, Fr Anthony Plummer, Fr John Lawrence M. Polis FI, Fr Graham Preston, Fr James Preston, Fr Peter Preston SDS, Fr Robert Pytel, Fr Gerard Quinn, Fr Behruz Rafat, Fr N Ratu, Fr John Ravensdale, Fr David Rea, Monsignor Gordon Read, Monsignor Alex Rebello, Fr Charles Reddan SDS, Fr Alexander Redman, Fr Stephen Reynolds, Fr John Rice, Fr Graham Ricketts, Fr Jonathan Rollinson OSB, Fr George M Roth FI, Fr Andrew Rowlands, Canon Luiz Ruscillo, Fr Tadeusz Ruthowski, Fr Paschal Ryan, Fr Mario Sanderson, Fr John Saward, Fr Nicholas Schofield, Fr Alphege Stebbens OSB, Fr Francis Selman, Fr Jean Claude Selvini, Very Rev’d Fr Daniel Seward CO, Fr John Sharp, Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, Fr John Shewring, Fr Chris Silva, Fr William Simpson, Fr Bernard Sixtus, Fr Thomas Skeats OP, Fr Gerard Skinner, Fr John Smethurst, Fr Bernard Snelder MHM, Fr Pryemek Sobczak, Fr Edward Sopala, Fr Michael Spain OCD, Fr Roger Spencer, Fr.Simon Stamp, Fr Andrew Starkie, Fr Pawel Stebel, Fr Jeffrey Steel, Monsignor George Stokes, Fr Brian Storey, Monsignor Richard Stork, Fr Damian Sturdy OSB, Fr Shaun Swales, Fr Martin Sweeney MHM, Fr Mark Swires, Fr Roman Szczypa SDB, Fr Ryssard Taraszka, Fr Brian Taylor, Fr Christopher A Thomas, Fr Sean Thornton, Fr Matthew Thottathimyali, Fr Adrian Tomlinson, Fr Edward Tomlinson, Fr Dennis Touw, Fr Simon Treloar, Canon Harry Turner, Fr Andrew Undsworth, Fr John Vallomprayil SDS, Fr Edward van den Bergh CO, Fr Ian Vane, Fr Peter Vellacott, Fr Gregory Verissimo, Fr Mark Vickers, Fr Neil Vincent, Fr David Waller, Fr Gary Walsh, Fr John Walsh, Fr Joseph Walsh, Fr Patrick Walsh, Fr Victor Walter, Fr Edward Wanat SDS, Fr Peter Wareing CMF, Fr Ged Watkins, Fr Peter Wells, Fr Richard Whinder, Fr Henry Whisenant, Fr Joseph Whisstock, Fr.David J White, Fr Christopher Whitehouse, Fr William Wilby, Fr Bruno Witchalls, Fr Anthony Wood, Fr Jeffrey Woolnough, Fr William Wright OSB, Fr William R Young, Fr Lucjan Zaniewski OFMCap, Fr Richard Mary Zeng SDS, Fr Paul Zielinski, Fr Bartholomew Zubeveil CSSp.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Holy League, a new spiritual initiative for men


The pastoral and spiritual care particularly of men in our parishes is much needed at the present time. The Holy League is a recently-founded initiative which aims to to develop a network of parish based regular monthly Holy Hours with confession and fraternity for men.

Cardinal Burke gave an encouraging message earlier this month on the launch of the Holy League. Here is the video:



I did like his ultra simple summary of the one fundamental aim of the Holy League:
"It has basically one thrust and that is that we, as men, be in the state of grace..."
It reminds me of a remark attributed to St John Bosco when asked what was his principal aim in life. The saint who carried out so many spectacularly successful apostolic works said that his principal aim in life was to remain in a state of grace.

(By the way, here is a screen-grab at 3'05" where my good friend Fr Z has a cameo role in the video! I have just noticed that he has also posted on the Holy League today.)


Here is an outline of the aims of the Holy League. They are admirably specific and achievable:
Mission

The Holy League, in a Spirit of Marian Chivalry, under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Joseph, seeks to provide opportunities for the faithful to unite in prayer, especially monthly Eucharistic Holy Hours, for purification from sin and predisposition to Supernatural Grace for the fuller exercise of the threefold offices of Priest, Prophet, and King received at Baptism. The particular prayer of the Holy League is the monthly Eucharistic Holy Hour.

The Holy League, in fidelity to its mission as a Roman Catholic solidarity movement:
  • provides a Holy Hour format which incorporates: Eucharistic adoration, prayer, short spiritual reflections, the availability of the Sacrament of Confession, Benediction and fraternity;
  • encourages consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Purest Heart of Joseph;
  • promotes the Precepts and Sacraments of the Church; especially through devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and the praying of the Most Holy Rosary;
  • creates a unified front, made up of members of the Church Militant, for spiritual combat;
  • strives to have a regular monthly Holy League Holy Hour available to men in every Roman Catholic parish.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Sermon of Cardinal Burke at Ramsgate

Full text of the sermon of Cardinal Burke, given on Monday 9 March at St Augustine's, Ramsgate during the celebration of Pontifical High Mass:


VOTIVE MASS OF SAINT AUGUSTINE, BISHOP, APOSTLE OF ENGLAND
SHRINE OF SAINT AUGUSTINE
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OF RAMSGATE AND MINSTER
RAMSGATE, ENGLAND
9 MARCH 2015

1 Thes 2, 2-9
Lk 10, 1-9

SERMON

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

How great a blessing to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Shrine of Saint Augustine, Apostle of England, so near to the place at which he, together with some forty other monks, arrived in the year 597 on a mission received from the Roman Pontiff, Pope Gregory the Great: the mission of the new evangelization of the British Isles. Here we witness directly the unfailing activity of the glorious Christ in His Church. Saint Augustine and his companions, not unlike the 72 disciples in the Gospel, were sent forth by the Vicar of Christ on earth to bring Christ alive in the Church to a faraway land. Venerating the tomb of Saint Augustine, we receive the grace of missionary zeal which is most fully and perfectly expressed in the offering of the Holy Mass.

From historical accounts, we know how much Pope Saint Gregory the Great desired to bring the truth and love of Christ to the English nation. He had seen the English youth brought as slaves to Rome, and his heart was filled with compassion for them and for their fellow countrymen. He felt in his heart, the sentiment of the Lord who exhorted the seventy-two disciples for the mission with these words:
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.(1)
Thus, he called upon the monks of the Roman Monastery of Saint Andrew, from which he had been called to the See of Peter and of which Saint Augustine was the Prior, to undertake the long and difficult journey to England and to preach the Gospel in a place totally unknown to them.(2)

One can imagine that his instructions to Saint Augustine and the other monks were, in substance, the same as those of the Lord to the disciples:
Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”(3)
Thanks be to God, Saint Augustine and his companions carried out the mission with total obedience. The integrity with which they carried out their priestly labors is well described in the words of Saint Paul in today’s Epistle:
For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts.(4)
They never doubted that their work was Christ’s, not their own. The measure of their ministry, therefore, was Christ alone, His truth and His love. Thus, their preaching of the Gospel and their ministration of the Sacraments has unceasingly borne fruit for centuries in the British Isles and far beyond.

Dom Prosper Guéranger, in his commentary on the feast of Saint Augustine, reflects upon the enduring fruits of their missionary labors with these words:
Thus the new race that then peopled the island received the faith, as the Britons had previously done from the hands of a Pope; and monks were their teachers in the science of salvation. The word of Augustine and his companions fructified in this privileged soil. It was some time of course before he could provide the whole nation with instruction; but neither Rome nor the Benedictines abandoned the work thus begun. The few remnants that were left of the ancient British Christianity joined the new converts; and England merited to be called, for long ages, the “Island of Saints.”(5)
One thinks, for example, of illustrious figures like the Venerable Bede and Saint Thomas Becket.

Contemplating the saints who were the illustrious fruit of the apostolic ministry of Saint Augustine and his companions, we recall also how many suffered, even to the shedding of their blood, to be true to the apostolic faith handed down to them in an unbroken line from the Apostles and, in particular, from Pope Saint Gregory the Great, heroic Successor of Saint Peter, and Saint Augustine of Canterbury, illustrious successor of the Apostles. In a most particular way, we recall the figures of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher who held fast to the tradition of the faith received from the Vicar of Christ on earth, when so many betrayed and abandoned the apostolic faith. At his trial on July 1, 1535, Saint Thomas More held firmly to the living Tradition of the Church, which forbade him, in conscience, to acknowledge King Henry VIII with the title of Supreme Head of the Church. When, during the trial, the Chancellor rebuked him, citing the acceptance of the title by so many bishops and nobles of the land, Thomas More replied: “My lord, for one bishop of your opinion I have a hundred saints of mine; and for one parliament of yours, and God knows of what kind, I have all the General Councils for 1,000 years, ….”(6) The English Martyrs gave up their lives in martyrdom rather than giving up their greatest and lasting treasure, the life of Christ alive for us in His holy Church. Many others, both canonized saints and unknown heroes of the faith, selflessly and enduringly practiced the Catholic faith brought to the British Isles by Saint Augustine and his companions.

Surely, too, we are conscious of the great challenges in living the apostolic faith in our time. Truly, Satan, “a murderer from the beginning” and “the father of lies”(7), cannot stand the truth and love of Christ shining forth in His holy Church. He never takes repose from his deceitful and hateful labors. He is always trying to corrupt the truth, the beauty and the goodness which Christ never ceases to pour forth into our Christian souls from His glorious pierced Heart. The pervasive confusion and grave error about the most fundamental truths, the most beautiful realities, and the lasting goods of human life and its cradle, the human family, as they come to us from the hand of God, are the tragic signs of Satan’s presence in our midst. When we see how he has succeeded in corrupting a culture which was once Christian and in sowing the seeds of confusion and error even within the Church herself, we can easily become frightened and discouraged.

But, as Saint Augustine and his companions knew and preached, there is another presence which always conquers Satan. It is the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in His holy Church and, most perfectly and fully of all, in the Most Blessed Sacrament: His Real Presence. Holding fast to Christ and to His truth and love, even in the face of persecution, the victory over sin, the victory of eternal life will surely be ours. Our Lord Himself, when he placed his Church upon the solid foundation of the Petrine Office, promised us that the forces of evil would not prevail against her.(8) The last chapter of the history of the Church is already written. It is the story of the victory of Christ, when he returns in glory to bring to consummation his saving work, to inaugurate “a new heaven and a new earth.”(9) The intervening chapters are ours to write, with Christ and as His faithful and generous disciples. They will certainly be the story of suffering for the truth and love of Christ, but they will also always be the story of divine grace at work in every Christian soul, filling it with joy and peace even in the face of great suffering and death itself. Let us not give way to fear or discouragement, but let us, with Saint Paul, rejoice to fill out in our time the sufferings of Christ for the glory of God and for the salvation of the world.(10)

Coming on pilgrimage to this shrine, I cannot fail to note the example of the Catholic architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, architect of this beautiful church which is also the place of his burial. Augustus Pugin was attracted to the truth of the Catholic faith through its reflection in the beauty of the great Church architecture of the Middle Ages. He, in turn, sought to express and inspire by his architecture the nobility and beauty of a Christian culture during a time in which the Christian foundations of society were already under serious threat from the radical secularism of the thinking of the so-called Enlightenment. Offering Holy Mass is this church which can rightly be called his, let us thank God for him and for the great treasure of the beauty of the faith which he has given to us.

Christ now makes sacramentally present His Sacrifice on Calvary. Christ now offers to us the great fruit of His Sacrifice, which He first offered to the Apostles at the Last Supper and which Saint Augustine brought to England in 597: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Who alone is the Savior of the world. As the glorious Christ descends to the altar of this great sanctuary, let us lift up our hearts to His glorious pierced Heart. As He offers up His life for us in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, let us, with Him, offer our lives as an oblation of love to God the Father for the salvation of all our brothers and sisters. With the Virgin Mary, Mary of the Annunciation venerated as Our Lady of Walsingham on this beloved island, let us be one in heart with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. In the Heart of Jesus our hearts will find the courage and strength to remain true to the apostolic faith for the glory of God and for the salvation of England and of all the world.

Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who trust in Thee, have mercy on us.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary and Foster-Father of Jesus, pray for us.
Saint Gregory the Great, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, Apostle of England, pray for us.


Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE


NOTES
1. Lk 10, 2.
2. Cf. Prosper Guéranger, L’année liturgique, Le temps pascal, Tome III, 19ème éd. (Tours : Maison Alfred Mame et Fils, 1925), p. 571. [Hereafter, Guéranger]. English version: Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, Paschal Time, Book II, tr. Laurence Shepherd (Fitzwilliam, NH: Loreto Publications, 2000), p. 606. [Hereafter, GuérangerEng].
3. Lk 10, 8-9.
4. 1 Thes 2, 3-4
5. “Ainsi la nouvelle race qui peuplait cette île recevait à son tour la foi par les mains d’un pape : des moines étaient ses initiateurs à la doctrine du salut. La parole d’Augustin et de ses compagnons germa sur ce sol privilégié. Il lui fallut, sans doute, du temps pour étendre à l’île tout entière ; mais ni Rome, ni l’ordre monastique n’abandonnèrent l’œuvre commencée ; les débris de l’ancien christianisme breton finirent par s’unir aux nouvelles recrues, et l’Angleterre mérita d’être appelée longtemps l’île des saints.” Guéranger, p. 570. English translation: GuérangerEng, p. 605.
6. Gerard B. Wegemer and Stephen W. Smith, eds. A Thomas More Source Book, Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2004, p. 354.
7. Jn 8, 44.
8. Cf. Mt 16, 18.
9. Rev 21, 1. Cf. 2 Pet 3, 13.
10. Cf. Col 1, 24-26.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Cardinal Burke at Ramsgate


Sacred ministers, tired children, hard-working parishioners and many visitors from far afield are now home (or still on their way) from a wonderful evening at St Augustine's, Ramsgate. The Rector of the Shrine, Fr Marcus Holden, invited Cardinal Burke to celebrate Pontifical High Mass at the throne. Fr Louis Poucin de Wouilt came all the way from Gricigliano to MC and did a great job with discretion and quiet authority. He was only ordained priest last July for the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest and took charge of the ceremonies with exemplary calm and expertise.

I have some experience of Pontifical Mass but am by no means an expert, so I mugged up with Fortescue and Ahearne & Lane but was still rather nervous at the prospect of being Deacon for the Mass. Fortunately, since I sing Mass every Sunday, chanting the Gospel is not so daunting, but it is easy to go suddenly blank at various points, wondering what comes next that is different from the usual High Mass. Thanks to the Lord, I don't think my mistakes were too obvious.

It was a full day. The rehearsal for sacred ministers was at noon - it was great to have a convivial lunch afterwards with a good group of clergy and laity. Since I am only just over ten minutes drive from Ramsgate, I got back to do a little work at the desk before returning. In the meantime, the servers had their practice at 4pm. I was proud to have two servers from St Austin and St Gregory, Margate on the packed sanctuary.

In fact, the whole place was packed in a way that perhaps hasn't been seen for some time. The sanctuary choir was filled with Norbertines, Oratorians, Benedictines, Knights of Malta and brother footsloggers of the secular clergy, as well as servers old and young. In the nave and aisle, it seemed as though every element of Pugin's architectural masterpiece was complemented by the living faithful who came from far and wide to be there for the historic visit not only of a Cardinal, but of a man of courage and fidelity in his witness to the faith committed by Christ to the apostles.

It was a privilege to be with Cardinal Burke at the prayers before and after Mass, and to assist at the splendid ceremonies which give way at the heart, to the simple, yet awesome offering of the sacrifice in which the highest prelate is equal to the simplest curate when humbly, with fear and trembling, exercising his priestly power over the body and blood of the Lord who comes in silence and mystery to dwell among His people.

At the reception afterwards, His Eminence was generous with his time, affable and approachable, welcoming young and old with kindly words and a blessing. His sermon was commented on by everyone I spoke to - doubtless the text will be available soon. I am looking forward to a trip up to London tomorrow to hear him again when he will be speaking to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy at St Patrick's, Soho Square.

Photo credit: Mulier Fortis

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Catholic Dilemma 286: Difficulties in praying the Rosary

My friend is urging me to say the Rosary but I find it very difficult to concentrate. Aren’t these devotions optional? Should I persevere with it?

It is true that outside the sacred Liturgy, we are left free to pray in different ways. However the Rosary does have the recommendation of Our Lady herself at Lourdes, Fatima and on many other occasions, and has been encouraged by the saints and most of the Popes of the past 500 years. Therefore I would encourage you to persevere.

The Rosary combines both vocal and mental prayer. At times, we might focus on the words of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be, repeated lovingly as to a dear friend. We are also invited to ponder the great events of Our Lord’s life, death and resurrection, raising our minds and hearts to God in praise and thanksgiving, and drawing new resolve for our Christian lives. Both the vocal prayers and the mysteries on which we meditate, draw us directly to Christ. Our Lady does not ask for attention for her own sake but for the sake of her Son. In any kind of prayer we are prone to distractions. The Rosary can make these more obvious, leading us to try (though always in tranquillity of soul) to resist them, to bring our cares to Jesus, and to turn our attention gently away from ourselves and back to Him.

In 1959, Blessed John XXIII wrote an encyclical letter (Grata Recordatio) to the Bishops of the world. He began by speaking of the Rosary, and in the context of this call to prayer, spoke of his hope for the future, his prayer for rulers, and the danger of secularism and materialism. He closed by asking the Bishops of the world to recite the Rosary during October with particular devotion and to ask Our Lady to pray that the “forthcoming Ecumenical Council” would add “wondrous growth to the universal Church.” On the 50th anniversary of the Council, we could recall this intention of Blessed John XXIII, and ask that the Church might experience such a wondrous growth. [Note: this column was first published in 2012]

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome by email or via Twitter @FatherTF

Filial Appeal to His Holiness Pope Francis


May I recommend to you the Filial Appeal to our Holy Father Pope Francis, requesting him to reaffirm the chaste and fecund family model taught by the Gospel and in accordance with natural law.

Signatories include Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider.

A long journey to Margate


People travel to visit Margate, but not usually over a distance of 9,000 miles. To be fair, Fr Michael Rowe has been in Europe for other reasons, notably the international conference in Rome of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy which I was so sorry to miss in January. Nevertheless, he took the train down from St Pancras today to visit one of the oldest missions in the Archdiocese of Southwark and it was great to catch up on news from Australia and many friends there.

I was mortified to discover, after hearing confessions in the school, that it was actually snowing when I went down to the town centre to meet him. I thought that a good lunch was in order after such a journey and we were well looked after by the excellent bastion of good honest British restaurant tradition, Bentley's Lounge and Grill, at the bottom of the High Street.

Father Rowe is Rector of the Traditional Latin Mass Centre at St Anne's in Belmont. I promised to post a photo for his people as he told me that some are kind enough to read this blog. Greetings from Margate! Father is standing in our beautiful Lady Chapel at St Austin and St Gregory, designed by Edward Pugin, the son of Augustus Welby Pugin.

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Glasgow Faith Forum


For young adults in Scotland (aged 16-25), the Faith Movement offers a series of Thursday evening talks on the theme of "Friendship with Christ."

These talks take place at 7.30pm in Turnbull Hall, University of Glasgow Chaplaincy, 13 –15
Southpark Terrace, Glasgow, G12 8LG and are followed by refreshments and Night Prayer. The nearest subway is at Hillhead or Kelvinbridge.

5th Feb
‘Seek the things that are above’ (Col 3:1) – Prayer at the Centre of our lives
Fr Stephen Brown

19th Feb
‘Lord, Teach us how to pray’ (Lk 11:1) – The Our Father
Fr Michael Kane

5th March
‘Things both Old and New’ (Mt 13:52) – Finding Christ in Scripture
Canon Luiz Ruscillo

19th March
‘The seed that fell on good soil’ (Mt 13:8) – Christ and Culture
David Kerr

16th April
‘Planted in Love & Built on Love’ (Eph 3:17) – The Family: school of prayer
John Deighan

Evenings of Faith - London


The Faith Movement is running a series of talks on The Church and other beliefs. They offer a great opportunity to deepen our faith and to connect with other Catholics. The talks are folllowed by wine and pizza. All are welcome.

Talks take place on alternate Tuesday evenings at 7.30pm in the Crypt of Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church (entrance via basement steps to 24 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JR).Nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus.

The list of talks remaining in the series is as follows:
Tuesday 10th February
Are all religions equally valid?
Anna-Marie Treloar

Tuesday 24th February
Can I love Christ but not the Church?
Sr Andrea Fraile

Tuesday 10th March
The cosmic meaning of the Eucharist
Fr Roger Nesbitt

Tuesday 24th March
Should the Church impose lifestyle choices?
Edward Hadas




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