Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Beautiful photos of FSSP Ordinations


And the prize for best collection of liturgical photos so far this year goes to... John Aron's magnificent Flickr album for FSSP England. The occasion was the ordination to the sacred priesthood of Fr Stewart and Fr Sanetra at St Mary's Shrine in Warrington by Archbishop McMahon last Saturday.


I was very glad to be able to receive Fr Sanetra's blessing on Sunday. He was at the Shrine of St Augustine where we have our Thanet Deanery Blessed Sacrament Procession each year: this year, of course, he carried the Blessed Sacrament. He had also celebrated his first Mass at the Shrine in the morning. Father has a particular love for the shrine at Ramsgate which was influential on his vocation.

Congratulations to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter and thanks be to God for two new priests.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Recommended: Calloway's "Champions of the Rosary"

Fr Donald Calloway gives a substantial account of the history of the Rosary, a collection of briefer chapters on champions of the Rosary, including various saints, blesseds and popes. The third part (which I have not yet read) is a guide to praying the Rosary.

Fr Calloway is a priest of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. His conversion story is action-packed, and he is a tireless promoter of devotion to Our Lady and especially the Rosary.

In the book, he takes some definite positions on controversial matters which was partly what influenced me to buy it when a brother priest recommended it to me. Fr Calloway defends the historical value of the tradition that the Rosary as we know it, with meditations on the mysteries, was revealed to St Dominic by Our Lady. He also defends the Luminous Mysteries. I am concerned that simply by writing that last sentence, I may have put some of you off buying the book - so let me add that Fr Calloway points to the example of Blessed George Preca who suggested almost the same set of meditations almost fifty years earlier; St Louis Grignon de Montfort also suggested that we might meditate on other themes than the fifteen traditional mysteries. At any rate, it is worth reading something thoughtful on the question.

In one of the sections dealing with the tradition of the origin of the Rosary with St Dominic, my curiosity was rewarded by finding a trenchant appraisal of the skeptical thesis of Fr Herbert Thurston SJ: in fact a trenchant appraisal of Thurston himself as well. This is of interest to me since Thurston's biographer, Fr Joseph Crehan SJ, used to teach at Wonersh when I was a student there in the first year. I had the consolation of serving his Latin Mass from time to time. In those days (the late 70s) it would have been impossible for him to celebrate the traditional form, so it was the then still quite Novus Ordo. Fr Crehan taught sacramental theology at the seminary and I eventually became his unworthy successor: he was an immensely erudite man. As students, one favourite piece of mimicry was to burble inaudibly for a bit, ending the "sentence" with an audible "Father Thuuurston."

Reading Fr Calloway's sections on Fr Thurston prompted me to search for a copy of Fr Crehan's "Father Thurston: A memoir with a bibliography of his writings" and I was fortunate enough to find a very cheaply priced copy on AbeBooks which should be on its way to me from the USA within a week or two. Thurston interests me as one of those learned, but also clever and dismissive scholars who were chastened by the crack-down on modernism and liked to poke at established positions. Not the most healthy way of "doing theology", but of significant interest in understanding where we are a century later.

But do not let my reminiscences distract you from considering this excellent book during the centenary of Fatima. "Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon." is available from Amazon UK and US in paperback and Kindle formats and is very reasonably priced. If you haven't yet decided to do what Our Lady asked, and say the Rosary every day, this book might help to convince you.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst and the newly blessed Theodore House

The Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst aims to make the Stonyhurst Collections more accessible and to offer Christian leadership formation, education, and retreats in the tradition of Stonyhurst College. The Stonyhurst Collection is the oldest surviving museum collection in the English speaking world. It includes cultural treasures from the Catholic culture that were rescued from the reformation as well as object gathered by Jesuits on missionary and teaching work throughout the world.

A Stonyhurst Museum was established in 1884, but it was dismantled in the 1970s and the collection put in storage. The Stonyhurst Christian Heritage Centre Trust now wishes to house this incomparable collection in a suitable manner. It "is seeking to rectify the anomaly by which a collection of global weight and calibre has for too long remained virtually unknown."

Just by way of example, the collection includes a First Folio of Shakespeare, the Book of Hours of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a reliquary containing the rope that bound St Edmund Campion to the hurdle at the time of his execution. (right)

In addition to being a museum in its own right, the Christian Heritage Centre aims to provide a study, retreat and leadership centre with accommodation for guests. To this end, it will be renovating the Old Mill Building for which it will pay an annual rent of one loaf of bread and six altar candles. The building will henceforth be known as Theodore House. This is a fitting dedication. As one of the students noted in his introduction to St Theodore at the blessing of the building on Monday:
"He was 67 by the time he arrived in England. From this time until his death on the 19th of September 690 aged 88 and wonderfully described by St Bede as ‘being old and full of days’ he served as one of the most exceptional leaders in the history of the Christian Church in England."
In the middle of the photograph of the procession below, you can see Lord Alton the Chairman of the CHC Trustees. The students leading the procession with banners are members of the thriving Sodality of the college.

Here is a photo from the beautiful chapel of the Sodality, taken when I was celebrating Mass there a few years ago.

Independent Catholic News reported yesterday on the blessing of the foundations of the new Theodore House and there is an article at the Catholic Herald today.

Readers in the USA will be interested to read of the links between Stonyhurst and America.

Monday, 1 May 2017

New Oratory at Bournemouth to begin

Guido Reni - St Filippo Neri in Ecstasy - WGA19295

News was announced yesterday of the start of the new Oratory at the Sacred Heart Church in Bournemouth which will begin on 31 May. Fr Peter Edwards, Fr Dominic Jacob, and a student brother will form the initial community. The Sacred Heart is an ideal location for an Oratory, being in the centre of town, just off Richmond Hill.

Bournemouth is in the Diocese of Portsmouth and Bishop Egan has given his warm encouragement to the formation of the new Oratory.

Fr David Hutton was to have been one of the members of the oratory in formation but sadly he became seriously ill. He was clothed in the Oratorian habit in January and died on the feast of his patron St David, on 1 March this year. (See: obituary notice.) Please remember him in your prayers and please pray for the success of the new Oratory.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

A timely reflection on St Catherine of Siena

Dolci, Carlo - St. Catherine of Siena - Google Art Project

The full version of Butler's The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints is available at the Internet Archive and in a conveniently arranged online edition at Bartleby's Great Books Online. The 1894 Benzinger Brothers edition is very much abridged but is useful for short daily reflections on the lives of the saints. It can be found at the Sacred Texts website and put onto your mobile device as part of the excellent iPieta app.

I often use iPieta for various things and yesterday evening, in preparation for the various relevant spiritual and liturgical occurrences of today, I read the abridged entry for St Catherine of Siena. The abridged version adds short reflections for each day, probably written by the editor John Gilmary Shea. For St Catherine of Siena, it reads:
The seraphic St. Catherine willingly sacrificed the delights of contemplation to labor for the Church and the Apostolic See. How deeply do the troubles of the Church and the consequent loss of souls afflict us? How often do we pray for the Church and the Pope?
As things are at the moment, I think every single day would be about right.

Incidentally, when you consider all that St Catherine accomplished during her life, it is humbling to recall that she died at the age of thirty-three.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Accipe signaculum: Receive the seal

Fr Zuhlsdorf has written today in response to a query about a Bishop slightly changing the form of Confirmation (See: ASK FATHER: Non-standard form for Confirmation – valid?)

In the newest English version of the Rite of Confirmation, the form is: "N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit." In our new England and Wales and Scotland 2015 version, beautifully printed by the CTS on quality off-white paper with fine binding, the form is set in large type in bold and in small caps, making it clear that this is the really important bit. So I entirely agree with Fr Z that priests and bishops should just use the proper form for the sacraments and not leave the faithful in any doubt about the validity of the sacraments. He makes the point forcefully and has done so often in the past, particularly with regard to the sacrament of penance.

Without wishing in any way to detract from this important point, I have another quibble with the form of Confirmation in our current English version. Simply put, it is not a correct translation of the Latin text.

In 1971, in the Apostolic Constitution on the Sacrament of Confirmation, Pope Paul VI noted that the form of Confirmation used until then had first been used in the 12th century. He thought that the more ancient form of the Byzantine rite was preferable and so he ruled that from then on, the following should be observed in the Latin Church:
Sacramentum Confirmationis confertur per unctionem chrismatis in fronte, quae fit manus impositione atque per verba: "Accipe signaculum Doni Sancti Spiritus Sancti"

(The Sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the anointing of chrism on the forehead, which is done by the imposition of the hand and by the words: "Receive the seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit")
Except that in English translation (the new version does not change it from the previous pre-2015 version) does not say that. It says "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit." I do not think that it is pedantic to point out that "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit" is not the same as "Receive the seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit."

The seal is something that is given and received. In the Roman army, recruits were marked on the hand or the forearm with an abbreviation of the name of the general. This tattoo was called the signaculum. (In the film Gladiator, Maximus has the mark on his upper arm and cuts it away with a flint while he is being transported to be sold into slavery.) In Greek the word would be sphragis and there is a rich vein of material in the Fathers of the Church that brings out the significance of this in the rite of Baptism and Confirmation. Danielou in his "The Bible and the Liturgy" devotes a chapter to it.

The signaculum or sphragis was an indelible seal, a mark of belonging to Christ, of being incorporated into the Church, a mark of protection, and a mark of enlistment into the army of Christ. The notion of being a soldier of Christ did not originate with Faustus of Riez, it was there in St John Chrysostom. The military metaphor was made more explicit by the Roman use of signaculum, of course.

So using the phrase "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit" in our current translation is not the same as "Receive the seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit" which is what the Latin original means. The seal, as something given and received, is a rich source for catechesis and reflection. It is a great pity that after all the wrangling that we have had in recent years over improving the translation of the modern rites, this small but significant inaccuracy should have been allowed to remain.

Please don't misunderstand me here. I do not doubt for a moment the validity of the sacrament of Confirmation conferred with the English form as it is currently translated. For one thing, the form of Confirmation has varied over the centuries and the Church has approved the current English form, so that is enough. Furthermore, the difference in meaning is not enough to destroy the idea of receiving a seal or of receiving the Holy Spirit or of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.

It is just such a pity that we have to continue for the foreseeable future with an impoverished form that could so easily have been corrected for the benefit of the faithful.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy Colloquium 2016


Aylesford Priory, the home of the brown scapular, recovered by the Carmelites 400 years after it was dissolved by King Henry VIII, was the venue for the 2016 colloquium of the British Province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy last week. About fifty of us gathered to hear a fine selection of speakers, celebrate the sacred Liturgy, and enjoy informal convivium.

Fr Jerome Bertram of the Oxford Oratory spoke on ‘Holy Orders: the Sacrament, Celibacy and the Vita Communis’, Dom Mark Kirby, Prior of Silverstream Monastery (and blogger at Vultus Christi), took the subject ‘Primary and Indispensable: the liturgy, Wellspring of Life’, and Fr Guy de Gaynesford, Rector of the School of the Annunciation which is based at Buckfast Abbey, spoke on ‘New Evangelisation and the Pedagogy of God’. The Mass on Thursday was celebrated by Bishop Paul Mason, Auxiliary in Southwark, who has pastoral responsibility for Kent, and on Friday, the celebrant was Mgr Newton, the Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

During these events, I always enjoy the opportunity over meals or at the convivium to catch up with old friends and meet fellow clergy engaged in a variety of apostolates. Among many others, fellow blogger Fr Ed Tomlinson was on good form, and Fr de Malleray had encouraging news of the continuing health of the FSSP in the UK.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Belfast bakery ruling and the feast of Christ the King

In the traditional liturgical calendar, tomorrow is the feast of Christ the King. Preparing for it it, and specifically re-reading the encyclical Quas Primas of Pope Pius XI, put me in mind of the appalling decision of the court of appeal in Belfast in the case of the Ashers Baking Company. I found the above video on various news websites, then tracked it down on YouTube for embedding here. Daniel McArthur gives a fine speech which is moderate, sensible and balanced. At the end he gives powerful witness to his faith, thanking God for His faithfulness. He concludes with vigour (2'04"):
"He is still on the throne, He is the ruler of heaven and of earth, and He is our God and we worship and we honour Him."
Not a bad way to end a statement for the press, and an ecumenical inspiration on the eve of the feast of Christ the King. May God bless Daniel and his family! Viva Cristo Rey!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Rosary at sunset low tide and communicatio in sacris


One of the great things about living in Margate is being able to walk on the beach and say the Rosary when there is an evening low tide. If this coincides with sunset, so much the better. The above photo was taken in mid September when it was warm enough for people to mess around in the sea at that time of the evening.

We have now just passed a significant point of the year: the beach motocross weekend. This happens in spring and autumn and marks the change of seasons. The sand on the beach is shoved around by heavy machinery to make jumps and obstacles for the two-stroke motorbikes and the quad bikes that young lads race around for a couple of days. Then the beach is tidied up and a berm is built up in the autumn to act as a secondary defence against flood tides. In the spring it is bulldozed down for the bikes and the summer season.

Just by way of putting photos on the blog that I am pleased with, let me mention also that living in Margate means that it is only half an hour on the train for a day off in Canterbury. The photo below is of the Cathedral from the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey. (You don't need me to tell you who ruined it.) I usually bring the day off to a pleasant close with a little communicatio in sacris by attending Evensong at the Cathedral.


Monday, 24 October 2016

A made-up Luther

After the traditional Mass yesterday, some children from one of our families gave me an early Halloween present: the Playmobil model of Martin Luther. This is a best-seller, apparently, having been issued in advance of next year's celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Martin's publishing his 95 theses and starting the Reformation.

Here are the contents of the box:

Luther bits

There is a rich learning opportunity here. The cloak could stand for the cloak of righteousness as in imputed justification: it clips on externally without changing Martin interiorly. You could discuss whether Martin should take off the clerical hat when he decides that the priesthood of the baptised is not distinct from the ministerial priesthood, or indeed whether the hat can be put on any other Playmobil figure that has been baptised. Then the scriptures could be taken away from Martin and made to stand on their own. Hours of fun.

Here's Martin made up with all his props:

Luther complete

Included in the box is a helpful map of places associated with Martin's life and legacy so that you can arrange a pilgrimage.

Luther map

As far as I know, you can't get an indulgence for a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Martin yet, but who knows what surprises might await us in the great centenary?

By way of broadening the historical perspective, I got out my model of Martin's friend, John.

Luther JFS

Unfortunately, they had some misunderstandings over the Eucharist, the priesthood, justification, indulgences, relics and other technical questions, but we know, boys and girls, that there won't be any misunderstandings for either of them now!

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