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Saturday, 30 June 2007

Parish Dinner and Dance

Social events are part of the life blood of any parish. Tonight we had a Dinner and Dance arranged by the team of ladies who run our lunch club in the parish. I am very glad that it was a great success and rewarded all the hard work they contributed to it. Here is the arrangement before the guests arrived:

For more pictures, see the Dinner and Dance post on the parish news blog.

I thought it would be right for me as Parish Priest to give a short off-the-cuff speech of thanks. From memory, this is roughly what I said:
I would like to thank Tricia and her team for this wonderful dinner tonight. They have arranged it to raise money for the Catholic Church. This is not a very fashionable cause. As you know, we in the Catholic Church use our money to hire Opus Dei Albino Monk assassins to kill anyone who tries to prevent us from covering up the fact that Jesus was married to Cleopatra, resulting in a bloodline that leads to Lili Marlene and Michael Jackson.

However, tonight's event will contribute to funding the refurbishment of the kitchen in our parish hall where Tricia and her team serve a reasonably priced three-course lunch every Thursday to 40 local people. Each of the team has contributed in their own way, with their own skills and attributes to plan, cook and serve the magnificent meal you have enjoyed. Many thanks to all of them for their hard work.
(As with all such speeches, it sounds better after dinner.)

Points from Motu Proprio

If you are looking for some information about the Motu Proprio in advance of its publication, Fr Z has a summary of points from an article by Andrea Tornielli in Il Giornale. As Fr Z highlights, the permission is expected to extend not only to the old rite of Mass but also the older rites of all the sacraments.

Congratulations

First of all to Christopher and Victoria:

and then to Kenny and Anna:

We had rather a nice blue Roller parked up outside the Church today...

In England, we also do the civil registers at a Wedding. I thank the Good Lord for having had the sense to appoint a trusty (and highly efficient) "authorised person" to do this - even the quarterly returns are now in the post. For my part, I have duly sent notification to the parishes of Baptism, made the entry in the ecclesiastical register, and filed and archived all the papers so I can go to the parish dinner and dance with a clear conscience after the evening Mass.

A priestly day

First thing today I have to get the newsletter finished by putting in the sermon summary that I do each week. Then I have Mass - our Saturday Latin Mass at the Lady Altar which is popular and a great consolation to me. After that, we have an hour of exposition during which I hear confessions.

Today, unusually, we have two weddings in the parish. When they are over it will be time for the evening Confessions and then the evening Mass. Fortunately, I have my regular supply priest for that Mass but I always go on to read the notices. Since I am not saying the Mass, I can also be there to see people as they come out of the Church. Once that is finished, I am off to the a Parish Dinner and Dance, a new initiative from our Lunch Club. For this we are using the Hall of my next-door neighbour, Fr Francis Hartley at St John Fisher, Bexley.

Although it is a busy day, I no longer find such days too tiring. They can be quite rejuvenating if you remember that each of the particular events has its own character and offers an opportunity to exercise the ministry of the priesthood in a different way. They remind me that:

Friday, 29 June 2007

Edinburgh to London

After the reception last night, I managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour which was just as well since some inconsiderate travellers down the corridor from me at the Parliament House Hotel seemed unaware that they might be waking everyone else up when they were shouting down the hall at 4.30am. Never mind - I managed to get a little more sleep and then call down to the Cathedral to say some office.

Wanting to see a little of Edinburgh, I got an all day bus ticket and rode around for a little on Lothian buses before making my way to the house owned by the Fraternity of St Peter. Fr Emerson is away and Fr Brendan Gerard is holding fort. He kindly allowed me to say Mass at the chapel in their house for the Feast Day.

Fr Michael John Galbraith then picked me up for lunch with Fr James Clark (from Southwark Diocese). We went to a very popular pub with a magnificent view over the Firth of Forth.

The 3pm train from Edinburgh to Kings Cross was quite full but I managed to get a reasonable amount of work done as well as saying the Office. The journey includes some lovely views of the East coast of Southern Scotland and Northern England. Here is a shot through the window as we passed Berwick-upon-Tweed:

The journey from Kings Cross to North Greenwich on the Tube was quite unpleasant. Even though it was 8pm, the trains were jam-packed and very hot. I met one of my young parishioners on her way home from a day's work doing people's nails at "House of Fraser". It must be rotten travelling home in those conditions each evening.

A total of five and a half hours after leaving Edinburgh, I was motoring homewards along the A2. Busy day tomorrow in the parish ...

Father Kevin Douglas

Warmest congratulations to Father Kevin Douglas who was ordained to the priesthood yesterday by Cardinal O'Brien at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Edinburgh.

The Cathedral itself is quite beautiful. I managed to get a photo before going in to vest for the Mass:

The Ordinary of the Mass was a short polyphonic setting which was sung with vigour and "attack", I think the word is. It was sublime, prayerful and well chosen for the occasion. Cardinal O'Brien's recent pro-life sermon in which he urged politicians to examine their consciences on the matter was a great boost to pro-lifers everywhere. Last evening, he spoke warmly of the priestly ministry and it was kind of him to mention those who had travelled from the South of England to be present.

Deacon for the Mass was the newly-ordained Rev Sean Riley who is studying at Oscott College:

After Mass the reception was held in the Hall next door. Father Douglas gave a warm-hearted speech of thanks.

Here he is with Sister Andrea Fraile of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life:

There was a good showing from the younger section of the Faith Movement, regulars at the major conferences that we hold for young people.

Fr Brendan Gerard from the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter is pictured here talking to Sr Roseann Reddy of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life:

Fr Hugh MacKenzie and Jamie McMorrin look here as though they are acting as bouncers for the occasion - "If your name's not on the list, yer not comin in!"

In addition to my "citizen journalism", the mainstream media was also represented... David Kerr (centre), whose research work on Panorama's "Sex in the Holy City" is featured in a whole chapter of Robin Aiken's "Can we Trust the BBC?"

Ad multos annos to Father Douglas. After summer, he will be spending the remainder of his first year of priesthood in Rome finishing his studies. This is a great opportunity for a newly-ordained priest, offering opportunities to celebrate Mass in some of the most historic Churches and Christian sites in the world. I remember my own experience of this privilege and wish him well.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Passing through the North

Writing this post, I am 'oop North, being on a train that is just pulling into Newcastle. I will then leave the North and enter Scotland. The GNER train is one of those that goes at a hundred and whatnot miles per hour with the tea only just staying in the cup. Pleased to find that there is free wifi on the train. When it works, it is great but it can be a little erratic.

My destination is Edinburgh where I will be attending the Ordination of Kevin Douglas at the Cathedral. I'm sure many of the best people will be there - after all, what better country than Scotland for a gathering of the clans?

The Martyrs of Vietnam

Andrew (Unam Sanctam) has a superb illustrated post about the Vietnamese martyrs who underwent some of the worst tortures in the history of Christian martyrdom - which is saying something. As well as torture, there was forced indignity. From 1832 Minh-Mang excluded all foreign missionaries and ordered Vietnamese Christians to renounce Christianity by trampling on the crucifix.

There is a single feast day for all the Vietnamese Martyrs - 117 were particularly named by Pope John Paul II but there were in excess of 130,000 who gave their lives for the faith from 1516 to the 20th century. 8000 Vietnamese in exile participated in the canonisation on 9 June 1988 as representatives for their catholic countrymen in Vietnam, who not were allowed to leave the country.

As is shown in the evangelisation of so many countries, including our own, the Christian missionaries brought many benefits. For example, the system of writing Vietnamese, called Quốc Ngữ or "national language" which is still used today was perfected in the 17th century by Alexandre De Rhodes, a Jesuit missionary.

Do see Andrew's full post for lots more.

Motu Proprio now official

The Vatican Press Office has issued a communiqué on yesterday's meeting between the Pope and various Bishops as reported on Kath.Net and followed up on Fr Z's blog, here and lots of other places. But the announcement is also an official confirmation that the Motu Proprio will be published in a few days once it has been sent to the Bishops round the world with an indication of its subsequent coming into force. ("entrata in vigore" - I like the sound of that.)

F Z reports that the Vatican site was knocked offline :-) He also has a commentary on an article in the New York Times. As he says, it reveals that someone did a little homework. Jeff Miller has an excellent boilerplate for mainstream media articles about the matter with all the right manifestations of ignorance about the matter. See

Build your own Motu Proprio story. He also suggests follow-up for human interest:
You can always do a man in the street interview outside of a Catholic Church after Mass. Though contrary to what you might think don't ask younger Catholics their opinion on this, look for someone with gray hair to get a good quote on why this change is bad.
Incidentally, now that there is an official mention of the Motu Proprio on the Vatican Website, I wonder if that chappie who implied that we were all fibbing about it and called us "Ultra conservative spin doctors" will be inclined to apologise at all? Fr Z suggest re-reading the article when the MP is published. Not a bad idea - perhaps we should do a video for YouTube?

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Motu Proprio 7 July

Fr Z gives us the lowdown on the final approach. This afternoon, Cardinal Bertone gave the Motu Proprio to 30 Bishops from around the world. The report is from Kath.Net and here is a partial translation.

The purpose of giving the translation to selected Bishops is to allow them to have the document before the press. This is wise and just on the part of the Holy Father. We can expect more leaks over the next week or so but this is surely a good way of managing publicity.

Prayer request

Richard Marsden has photos of the floods yesterday in the North of England and particularly in his hometown of Hull. Say a prayer especially for the poor man who was drowned after his foot was trapped in a manhole. Please also remember all those whose homes were flooded.

Fr Z on Tablet editorial

Fr Z draws our attention to an editorial in this week's Tablet. It seems to be a reply to the editorial in the Catholic Herald which expressed a sensible support for the Holy Father's forthcoming Motu Proprio on the Classical Rite of Mass. His trenchant critique is well worth reading.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

You were expecting another Motu Proprio?

The Pope issued a Motu Proprio today - on the process of electing a Pope. (He has abolished the provision for an election by simple majority in the case of deadlock and restored the requirement for a two-thirds majority.) You've seen this on a dozen or more Catholic blogs already. Here's my entry for the informal "Apt Papal Photo" contest:

Review of Hitchens

Amy Wellborn today has an extract from a very good review of Christopher Hitchen's anti-God book. The review is by Ross Douhat from the Claremont Institute. See Lord Have Mercy for the full text.

Another extract, from the Wall Street journal, reminds us why we should be bothered to take issue with the book.

Home for classical rite in Northampton diocese

Paul, a reader, sent me this text from the Northampton Diocesan Magazine "The Vine" (No 210, July 2007)
"Old Rite Finds Home"

The Old rite Latin Mass is being celebrated every Sunday in Bedfords Polish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Cuthbert. Bishop Peter gave permission for a regular Mass at 12 noon to begin on Low Sunday.

Father Nicholas du Chaxel FSSP, a Frenchman and member of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter will be the regular celebrant and 'parish priest' of the small community which gathers there. There have been Latin Masses around the dioscese for some time but seldom in the same place and at the same time each week.

Now Fr du Chaxel is looking forward to his 'quasi parish' as he calls it "It is wonderful for the diocese," he said, "that with the blessing of the Bishop , the people who desire the Old Mass can worship, pray, have catechesis, and live a proper Christian parochial life with some stability. I cannot express how happy I am to serve those people on a regular basis."

The Priestly fraternity of St Peter was founded by Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger (the present Pope) in 1988 to keep the Old Mass and the old way of celebrating. The FSSP has 300 members worldwide with at least 13 ordinations each year and also priests who are joining them. Fr du Chaxel is himself a convert. He says he went to an Old Rite Mass and was immediately moved to become a Catholic.

"Vatican II had a wonderful way of summarising when it said that the Mass is the source and summit of our lives," Fr Du Chaxel told the Vine. "But it dosen't mean that once we have the sacraments there is no need for anything more. People need proper formation, to learn about the liturgy, the meaning of what we do and say. And they need to support each other, to have some kind of community."
Paul also sends the following travel information:

The Polish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Cuthbert is at Mill Street, Bedford MK40 3EU. This is a few minutes from Bedford which has the following regular train services on Sundays:

* Every 15/30 minutes: Bedford to/from Luton, St Albans, London Kings Cross, Farringdon, City, Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport and Brighton. Journey time to Kings Cross approx 1 hour, 10 mins.

* Every 30 Minutes: Bedford to/from London St Pancras & Luton. Journey time to St Pancras approx 45-55 minutes

*Every 30 minutes: Bedford/to from Kettering/Leicester/Loughborough with alternate services continuing to Nottingham and Derby/Sheffield.

So if you are travelling it is a convenient place to break your journey and attend Mass.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Visit to St Anselm's

This morning, I was down in Canterbury at St Anselm's School at the invitation of Andrew Capone who teaches RE there, to speak to the sixth form. I have to be honest that my heart sank a little when he asked me to speak about the Da Vinci Code but I suppose young people are still watching the silly film on DVD and need to know some basic things about it.

I was accompanied by Peter Brown from Netherhall House who spoke particularly about Opus Dei so I could drop a few sections from my talk on the DVC and focus on things like the real character of Gnosticism, the Council of Nicea and the real reason for the success of the DVC (the Catholic Church is a popular "baddie".)

Especially for any of the sixth formers who were there today, here is a link to my parish website Controversies page.

Lesnes Abbey Procession

Yesterday saw the annual Blessed Sacrament Procession for the Deaneries of Bexley and Greenwich. It was raining quite hard in the morning and at 3pm there was an overcast sky, light rain and uncertainty about what might happen, rain-wise in the coming hour.

Fr Michael Scanlon (Dean of Greenwich) and I took the decision that we should shorten the procession and have Benediction. That way, if it really poured, we could finish quickly. As it turned out, even with quite considerably reduced numbers, it was a really joyful and devotional occasion. Archbishop Kevin McDonald participated this year, preaching and giving Benediction at the end.

There are some photos over at my parish blog (Lesnes Abbey Procession). This is one from after the procession with me walking some of our first Communicants back to the meeting point.

Discovering Priesthood day

Here is a photo from our Discovering Priesthood Day at Blackfen on Saturday. Fr Stpehen Langridge has a post about it over at the Southwark Vocations blog.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Classical rite questions and answers

Dwight Longenecker asked a number of Latin Mass questions. (His questions clearly refer to the Classical Rite.) I very much respect his protestation that these are "genuine and serious questions". Indeed they are often asked by good orthodox Catholics who do not see the point of the Classical Rite. It is useful for him to gather them together.

Shawn Tribe at the New Liturgical Movement in his post Fr Dwight Longenecker's Latin Questions has given considered and respectful answers to them. This makes for a most useful resource. Many thanks to Shawn for is work on this.

From a priest's point of view, I would also counsel any priest who is interested to learn to say the Classical Rite. "Pastoral reasons" would give most good priests a solid reason to do so. There is nothing like the experience of celebrating Mass in the Classical Rite to convince a priest of its value. I speak from experience.

John the Baptist - breaking news!

From the Judean Times, 29 August 0031

THE DISAPPEARANCE of a controversial preacher styled “John the Baptist”, the leader of a fringe religious group, has become the focus of a scandal that could threaten the government of King Herod.

The “Baptist” has previously been censured by the Health and Safety Inspectorate for failing to undertake a risk assessment before immersing people in the cold water of the Jordan river as part of an exotic religious ritual. The Judean Social Services' Jordan Bank Area Committee have begun an investigation into the emotional abuse of his congregation on the grounds of his insistence on sin and guilt and his use of an overly didactic approach to adult learning in which he instructs people to “Behold” another religious figure as the “Lamb of God” rather than explore different possible lambs of God in small groups according to the personalised learning styles of his hearers. The Judean Health Education Council has issued a statement warning that his “locust and honey” diet is lacking in essential vitamins. They have urged people to focus instead on the avoidance of saturated fats and salt and the consumption of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

In the past few days, however, his dogmatic assertions have caused more serious questions to be asked at senior government level. “The Baptist” is reported to have told King Herod that his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, was immoral. An aide to King Herod, Rupert Brownose, a leading member of the Judean Secularist Society commented that his remarks lacked Christian charity. “He is supposed to be a follower of Christ who, I understand, told us to love one another. It hardly seems loving to criticise a public figure for his choice of partner. John the Baptist is exhibiting arrogance and religious intolerance” the spokesman continued, “by presuming to pronounce on the individual conscience of the King.”

Unconfirmed reports suggest that “The Baptist” has recently expressed strong views on a recent event featuring the performance artist Salome, the daughter of the King’s partner by a previous relationship. The itinerant prophet referred to the cultural event as immodest and scandalous. Some of those attending the performance expressed outrage at his comments. Sir Herbert Syncretist-Rolltrouser said, “This so-called prophet's gratuitous insult to a sensitive piece of performance art is the mark of a philistine who has nothing better to do than attempt to impose his personal morality on others.” (Following complaints from Philistine community leaders, Rolltrouser later apologised, saying that his remarks had not been intended to offend any particular ethnic group.)

Since the Salome performance, the “Baptist” has not been seen. Some supporters have claimed that a headless corpse found in the basement of Herod’s Palace is that of their religious leader. They say that the King, besotted with Salome, offered her anything she chose; and that his partner had suggested that she ask for his head on a platter. Government sources have issued a strong denial, insisting that the Queen’s remark was made in jest and that no further action had been taken against the “Baptist.”

Blair & Pope: "frank exchange"

This is my own translation of a Communiqué issued yesterday by the Holy See's Press Office:
Today, 23 June 1007, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in Audience the Prime Minister of Her Britannic Majesty, the Hon Anthony Blair. Following this, [Mr Blair] paid a visit to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, accompanied by His Excellency Mgr Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

In the course of the conversations some significant contributions of Prime Minster Blair, during his ten years of Government, were reviewed. There followed a frank exchange on the present international situation, not omitting to face particularly delicate questions such as the conflict in the Middle East and the future of the European Union following the Brussels summit. Finally, after an exchange of opinions on some laws recently approved by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, best wishes were conveyed to the Hon Anthony Blair who is about to relinquish the office of Prime Minister, considering the fact that he expressed his keen desire to commit himself in a particular way to peace in the Middle East and to inter-religious dialogue.
Bear in mind that this is the language of diplomacy. The expression "frank exchange" is a translation of franco confronto ("confronto" does not usually mean "confrontation"). It is quite a significant expression in diplomacy usually interpreted by the press as "blazing row". That may be putting it too strongly but it is clear that Mr Blair did not simply have Pope Benedict smile and nod: he was challenged both on international matters and certain "laws recently approved" in the UK.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

"The Corruption of the Curriculum"

I am a "Friend" of Civitas which means that in return for a certain annual sum, I am sent all their new titles as soon as they are published. I do not always agree with everything that they write but most of it is really first rate. One important book, just published, is "The Corruption of the Curriculum". A collection of essays edited by Robert Whelan, it examines the imperative of social engineering and political expediency that now dominates education in Britain. There are essays on the teaching of English, Geography, History, Foreign Languages, Maths and Science.

The essay by Alex Standish "Geography used to be about maps" is one of the most thought-provoking. One quotation:
The elevation and conflation of the local and the global in the proposition 'Think Global, act local' is implicitly a rejection of the national sphere. It represents a denial of the political system through which citizens currently express their collective will via political representatives: the national will as sovereign power in the international sphere. Therefore not only is global citizenship disingenuous with regard to how the world currently operates (there is no world government, nor global body for citizens to hold to account), it is rejecting collective interest as a means through which politics is conducted while offering no democratic alternative.
Later, he says,
Through the language of empowerment and identity formation, global citizenship education replaces the political process with a new moral code and encourages deference to higher authority rather than independent political thought.
In "The New History Boys", Chris McGovern laments the rejection of narrative history in favour of teaching through perspectives so that students are not required to know what actually happened so much as to interpret an event (any event) through the "lens" of the experience of women, cultural diversity, the different beliefs of minorities, etc. In practice, as he points out,
"When children learn about Elizabeth I they are as likely to learn about how she dressed and went about her daily life as they are about what she did."
I look forward to reading the essays about languages, maths and science. This is a book I would recommend to anyone who is interested in education in Britain today, especially parents. If they are aware of the gaps in their children's education, they will be able to gather resources and provide experiences that will go some way to making up the deficiency. As Chris McGovern points out,
"Currently, the custodians of our national identity are Blue Badge guides and the Beefeaters."

Tony Blair at the English College

Tony Blair was entertained to lunch at the Venerable English College in Rome today as widely rumoured during the past week. Here are some photos.

Here we are in the College garden. On the left, next to Mr Blair is Mgr Nicholas Hudson, Rector of the English College. The priest on the right of the picture is Mgr Andrew Summersgill.

And then in the College Refectory, next to Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

Cardinal Cormac, who was sitting next to Mrs Blair, welcomes the PM:

And the PM replies:

Comments that will be published include: discussion of the meaning of this visit, the consequences and impact of it.

Comments that will not be published include: personal attacks, attempts to ask me, speculate about or publicise who sent me the photos. (The photographs were taken quite legitimately but the photographer wishes to remain anonymous.)

Friday, 22 June 2007

Devotions and priestly talk

Calling in to the parish Youth Group this evening, find that they had two activities on offer after prayers: make-up for the girls and bicycle maintenance for the boys. Run by an enthusiastic group of parents, this group has made a great start and I hope that they will be able to join in some of the various activities that can link them with other young Catholics.

Then over to St Mary's Chislehurst where I catch the Friday Benediction after Mass. There is something very pleasant for a parish priest about being able to kneel down in the Church while another priest gets on with giving Benediction and then venerating the image of St John Fisher in the beautiful stained-glass window that they have in the South Wall of the nave. Fr Charles, the parish priest of St Mary's and a fellow alumnus of the English College, Rome, is the Diocesan Archvist and usually visits Archbishop's House on a Thursday. It is good to keep in touch with topics of conversation in the Diocese.

Herald on 99 names protest

You can see this week's Catholic Herald coverage of Tuesday's Prayer Vigil at the new "Exact Editions" version of the paper. (It is free until 27 July.) I am glad to see that the photo is centred on a joyful looking Fr Michael Clifton. Fr Clifton taught me many years ago at the John Fisher School and has been a doughty defender of tradition in the various parishes in which he has since worked.

The same page has a rather scathing review of the concert by Igor Toronyi. Page 11 has a very good editorial on the question of the Motu Proprio. The Letters on the same page include one by Dame Suzi Leather protesting that the Charities Act is not secularism by the back door - good that she feels it necessary to comment but sorry, I'm not convinced. Oh, and my little article "Catholic Dilemmas" - this week on telephone salesmen and telling lies.

Worldwide Children's Holy Hour

I just heard today from Connie Schneider who chairs the Children’s Programs for the World Apostolate of Fatima USA. Since 2003, they have been working to promote the Worldwide Children’s Holy Hour. This year, the Holy Hour will take place on Friday 5 October and the Holy Father has granted an Apostolic Blessing on all who participate.

My parish is now signed up and I am proud to say that we are the first parish in England to do so!

For more information, see Children of the Eucharist.

Silver Ring in the High Court

Say a prayer for Lydia Playfoot who is today taking her school to the High Court over her claim to the right to wear the Silver Ring as a symbol of Christian purity.

The ‘Silver Ring Thing’ is a Christian education project aimed at helping teenage girls value themselves, make right choices about their futures, and reduce Britain's ever-increasing rise in sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies amongst teenagers.

The case is being brought under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights which reads:
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship support Lydia in her challenge. Lydia will be represented today in Court by barrister Paul Diamond, who also represents Nadia of the ‘British Airways 'Cross' case.

The Governors at Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, banned Lydia from wearing her small silver ring, saying that it broke the school’s uniform policy. However, any "public order" argument on this basis is somewhat undermined by the fact that their uniform policy allows Muslims to wear headscarves and Sikhs to wear Kara bracelets. As Lydia has said, the school's uniform policy is 'discriminatory' as it allows all faiths, except Christians, to wear items symbolic of their beliefs.

This is an important case which highlights the general trend in public life that bans all forms of discrimination except discrimination against Christians. It is a good day for the case to be held as it is the feast of St John Fisher and St Thomas More. May their prayers aid Lydia and her barrister!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Cardinal Pell earning his red hat

Not, of course that he hasn't richly earnt it already. But his fearless witness to the faith is drawing some increasingly nasty opposition. In Australia, the Greens Party has won approval to have Cardinal Pell interrogated by the parliamentary committee for contempt of Parliament. This offence is punishable by up to 25 years in jail.

This is in response to the Cardinal's warning that Catholic legislators could face religious consequences if they supported a bill allowing therapeutic cloning.

For details, see the article Cardinal Pell to be interrogated by parliamentary committee on CNA.

Ontological argument - Oz version

From Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It! comes one in a series of "philosophical ditties". This is by "Mark" and is St Anselm's ontological argument for the existence of God to be sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda. Great for parties! (Well the ones I go to anyway.)

Once a jolly friar got himself an argument
And couldn't get it out of his mind.
He thought that he could prove the existence of the Deity
Because of the way that the words are defined.

CHORUS
Thus spake St. Anselm, thus spake St. Anselm,
Thus spake St. Anselm, who now is long dead,
And we're awed as we read his proof so ontological;
Who can deny a word that he said?


If that than which nothing greater can be conceived
Can be conceived not to exist,
Then 'tis not that than which nothing greater can be conceived:
This is unquestionable, I insist.

For in that case a being greater can be conceived,
Whose major traits we can easily list:
Namely, that than which nothing greater can be conceived
And which cannot be conceived not to exist.

For if that than which nothing greater can be conceived
Has no existence outside of man's mind,
Then 'tis not that than which nothing greater can be conceived,
Due to the way that the words are defined.

For in that case a greater can be conceived
(This is of course analytically true);
Namely, that than which nothing greater can be conceived
And which exists in reality too!

CHORUS
Thus spake St. Anselm, thus spake St. Anselm,
Thus spake St. Anselm with weighty intent,
And we're awed as we read his proof so ontological
Would that we could understand what it meant.

Altar boy training programme

Diane (Te Deum) is doing a series of posts on the altar boy training programme at the Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit, run by Fr Edward Perrone. Here is the list with links to the posts already written:
  1. All Male Program
  2. Masculinity of Discipline and Precision Required
  3. Headed by the Pastor
  4. Liturgically traditional parish with orthodoxy in doctrine
  5. Strong Catholic identity within the family
  6. Large homeschooling population
This programme will result in priestly vocations, have no doubt.

I'm not terribly gone on "mission/vision statements" but Assumption Grotto has a short statement on its homepage that strikes me as a good indication of what you might expect in that parish:
Assumption Grotto Church is a vibrant Detroit parish that champions fidelity to Catholic teaching, family values, and the rich cultural patrimony of the Catholic Church.
Here'a a photo of their Christmas Midnight Mass:

Personal comments

I am getting a little edgy about comments where an individual is named and then subjected to strong criticism. I know people have strong views but by and large, I would prefer not to have personal attacks on the blog unless there is a very clear public interest. We have to avoid detraction as well as calumny.

Waugh's "Edmund Campion"

I find that there are some books that act as landmarks in my life. With such a book, I remember the joy of reading it as much as I remember the contents. Waugh's "Edmund Campion" is such a book and I am always pleased to hear of others who have read and enjoyed it.

Fishing my copy off the shelf, I am confirmed in my recollection that I read it while at Oxford and see that it was in fact in May of 1979, during my second year there. Thank God, there have been many times in my life that can look back on as having been particularly happy. My time at Oxford was unique in that by my second year there, I consciously knew that I would always look back on those days with a little sadness, knowing that they were filled with a joy that could never quite be recreated. The happiness was entirely based on the good and wholesome friendships that I was blessed with during my time there.

C S Lewis made perfect sense to me when I read:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
Returning to the book itself, I am glad that I had already developed the habit of making a pencil mark in the margin of a book by passages that I might want to revisit. Here is one that I remember reading with amusement twenty-eight years ago:
In the spring of 1570 there occurred another event that completely recast the Catholic cause; Pope Pius V excommunicated the Queen. It is possible that one of his more worldly predecessors might have acted differently, or at another season, but it was the pride and slight embarrassment of the Church that, as has happened from time to time in her history, the See of Peter was at this moment occupied by a saint.
A passage that I had not remembered shows Waugh's genius at summarising the spirit of the time:
To the Catholics, too, it meant something new, the restless, uncompromising zeal of the counter-Reformation. The Queen's Government had taken away from them the priest that their fathers had known; the simply, unambitious figure who had pottered about he parish, lived among his flock, christened them and married them and buried the; prayed for their souls and blessed their crops; whose attainments were to sacrifice and absolve and apply a few rule-of-thumb precepts of canon law; whose occasional lapses from virtue were expected and condoned; with whom they squabbled over their tithes, about whom they grumbled and gossiped; whom they consulted on every occasion; who had seemed, a generation back, something inalienable from the soil of England, as much a part of their lives as the succession of the seasons - he had been stolen from them, and in his place the Holy Father was sending them, in their dark hour, men of new light, equipped in every Continental art, armed against every frailty, bringing a new kind of intellect, new knowledge, new holiness. Campion and Persons found themselves travelling in a world that was already tremulous with expectation.

Gricigliano seminary

Say a prayer for Benedicat, author of the blog Catholic Tradition. He has just sent off an application for the Seminary of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

He went on a visit to Gricigliano in February and has an interesting post describing the daily timetable at the seminary.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Concerts in Churches

Someone asked about the canon law relating to concerts held in Churches. Canon 1210 says:
"In a sacred place only those things are to be permitted which serve to exercise or promote worship, piety and religion. Anything out of harmony with the holiness the place is forbidden. The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place."
There is also a 1987 declaration by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on "Concerts in Churches".

Regarding the 99 names of Allah concert, the Cathedral authorities would argue that singing the names of Allah promotes peace and harmony and inter-religious dialogue etc. and is therefore OK. They have repeatedly made the point that this was not an act of worship but a concert.

The CDW's practical directives say that concerts should only be held in Church to perform music of a religious character and not music of a secular character, however beautiful. (It probably did not occur to the congregation to specify that the religion concerned should be the Christian one.)

One interesting provision is that:
In order that the sacred character of a church be conserved in the matter of concerts, the Ordinary can specify that:
[...]
c. Entrance to the church must be without payment and open to all.
This brings up a more general question which needs a post to itself.

Oxford Martyrs Pilgrimage

This Saturday, the Latn Mass Society is having a Pilgrimage to Oxford, in honour of Oxford's Catholic martyrs. The programme is as follows:

11.30am: Solemn High Mass in the Oxford Oratory (Fr Dominic Jacob is celebrant)
2pm: Procession, led by Fr Anton Webb, starting at St Michael's at the
North Gate, marking the route taken from prison to execution by the four
martyrs of 1589 (at the end of Holywell Street), and then back to the Oratory.
3.30pm: Benediction at the Oratory

Here is a link to a report on last year's pilgrimage - there are more pictures there too.

Prayer Vigil at Westminster

Having taken a very slow train down to Brighton, we were alerted to the advantage of taking a fast train up again to Victoria. Arriving in the Piazza at about twenty to seven, there were already some good people saying the Rosary and displaying banners with scripture texts. The concert singing the 99 names of Allah was subject to strict security with a mobile "airport security" style screening tent. The police kindly provided a corral for us to use for our prayers.

At 7pm we began by singing the Credo and it was immediately apparent that the participants in this prayer vigil wished to proclaim their faith in the Triune God with enthusiasm. As a priest, I was happy to provide leadership for this group whilst being prepared to recognise that many came under their own initiative. Many people said that they were pleased that a priest came to lead the prayers. We sang, prayed the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Litany of the Holy Name, the Litany of Loreto, the Salve Regina and the Christus Vincit. At the end, I suggested that we might have enough energy to sing "Faith of our Fathers" and was proved correct in my supposition!

Various reporters asked why we were there. My reply was simply that the Cathedral was paid for from the pennies of the poor for the worship of God according to the Catholic faith. We have many areas of agreement with our Muslim brothers and sisters, notably on matters concerning the sanctity of human life and the importance of chastity and family life. Nevertheless, we do not agree on the nature of God. Muslims do not believe that God is three in one, nor do they believe in the divinity of Christ. It is not right to sing the names of Allah according to the Muslim faith in a Cathedral dedicated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brighton Bloggers' meet

Some time ago, Fr Ray Blake kindly offered to host a meeting in Brighton for Catholic bloggers from the South. So after Mass today, it was off to Brighton via London Bridge. We had to change at East Croydon, a station I used to use every day when I went to school.

At the meeting were Fr Ray (St Mary Magdalen, Brighton), Fr John Boyle (South Ashford Priest), Mac McLernon (Mulier Fortis) and Fr Sean Finnegan (Valle Adurni) - discontiued pro tem but closely related to another blog.

Fr Ray treated us to an excellent lunch in the magnificent presbytery he has been left by his predecessors, clergy and laity. The SD card in my camera decided to have a hissy fit so I have shamelessly taken this photo from Fr Ray's blog.

A good suggestion was that we might arrange a serious Catholic bloggers' convention, perhaps with someone to do with Social Communications.

99 names of Allah - official line

In the combox of the post Outline for Prayer Vigil, there was a comment which began:
Anonymous said...
This from Mgr Langham:

Mgr. Mark Langham, Administrator of Westminster Cathedral explains the background to the concert and Sir John Tavener's composition. [...]
Well we know that Mgr Langham has a blog Solomon I Have Surpassed Thee about Westminster Cathedral and a google/blogger profile Administrator. Therefore what has happened here is that some lackey ("anonymous") has been asked to spam the press release round to various blogs. Thank you for that. Do feel free to reply, readers, if you wish.

The suffering Chaldean Church

This received in the combox today from Tim Shamoon:
Despite everything that we have gone through we will increase and multiply. We Chaldeans are proud of heritage and of culture. We speak an ancient language derived from the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will not be wiped out by a bunch of psychopaths determined to cause terror and drive us of our land. Christianity was started in what is now Iraq by St. Thomas while he was on India. We will survive with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Blood of Martyrs will save us. Please see link enclosed of a recent First Holy Communion of over 100 Chaldean Catholic kids at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego California and what you will see is just a fraction there are Chaldeans in the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK and many other countries and we will not be killed off by those who have no fear of God.
Here is a picture of the recent first Holy Communion celebration at St Peter's Church:

And here is a link to the Chaldean Church. To encourage you to read further, I quote from the page An invitation to save Christian Iraqis.
On November 21st, 2004 while Layla, a mother of two orphans, was heading home at Al-Dawara in Baghdad, a fanatic Islamist thug stopped her and ordered her to take off her Cross so she could become clean again!

Layla refused to remove her Cross using strict and polite words. The extremist Moslem reached to her Cross, snapped it off, threw it on the ground, then grabbed his gun and shot her in the head.
Tim Shamoon also wrote:
Iraqi Christians are now more persecuted than ever and now more than ever they need help. They have no armed militias and they are simply kicked from pillar to post. Please take time to read and then if you can please sign the petition the link for which I have enclosed and should you agree to sign it then you might be good enough to pass it to others for their signature too.

[Link to the petition]

For further information about the plight of Iraqi Christians you can go to a number of websites such as:

http://fayrouz.blogspot.com/

http://www.ankawa.com/

http://www.aina.org/

http://www.kaldaya.net/2007/4_DailyNews_April2007/Apr18_07_E4_ConvertOrDie_Fatwa.html

http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idcategory=33&idSub=125&idArticle=9136

Please note that by signing the petition you are NOT being anti multinational forces in Iraq or anti Islam however governments around the world are simply turning a blind eye to this disaster.

Can anyone imagine that in 2007 a group of people over 1 million are murdered threatened and not a finger is lifted! The last time the world did not act we had Rwanda and earlier last century we had the holocaust. Please sign the petition maybe for a change the Iraqi government the international community will act and not bury its head in the sand.

All we ask is your signature, prayer and please spread the word. This will not cost you any money!

When Fr. Ragheed and the three deacons where murdered while I was very sad I was not surprised a number of us (Iraqi Christians) have been warning people that something bad was about to happen. Please do not ignore us.
Tim - you said "Thank you for your time". This is very humbling. If we can give a little of our time, that is not much. Thank you and your brothers and sisters for your courageous witness to the faith. It teaches us a great deal.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Outline for Prayer Vigil

A group of us will be meeting from 7pm tonight outside Westminster Cathedral, in the Piazza. I have composed the following as a suggestion for this evening and will be happy to lead these prayers tonight. As there may well be press interest in tonight's event, I hope that this will give some clear information about what we are doing.

Outline for Prayer Vigil
On the occasion of the 99 names of Allah being sung in Westminster Cathedral

Introduction
We gather peacefully to witness to the Catholic faith as presented in the Nicene Creed and to express our love for the Holy Name of Jesus. We bear no ill will towards our Muslim brothers and sisters. In accordance with the teaching of Jesus Christ, we love them and we pray for them.

We also pray for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and for all those who have care of Westminster Cathedral, especially the Cathedral Administrator, Mgr Mark Langham.

We believe that it is wrong to sing the 99 names of Allah in a concert in the Cathedral. The Cathedral is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and was built by our forefathers in the faith for Catholic worship.

Programme
Our vigil of prayer, will include the following prayers, hymns and scripture readings:
  • Credo III
  • The five sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary
  • The Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Philippians 2.5-11
  • The Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus
  • Matthew 28.18-20
  • The Litany of Loreto
  • Salve Regina
  • Christus Vincit
Fr Timothy Finigan
19 June 2007

Monday, 18 June 2007

SORs talk

Gosh but was today a bit frantic! An early Mass for a deceased person, followed by binning most of my post and dealing with some of it, finalising the talk for tonight and then motoring off to Parkminster. The M25 was ghastly today and despite leaving early, I arrived 15 minutes late, just as the Novice Master was about to give up on me. Deo Gratias! If he had sent the novices and simply professed back to their cells, it would have taken ages for them all to gather again.

Sadly, I had to miss Vespers today in order to drive back round the M25, and up the A2 to North Greenwich to take the tube. Even so, the traffic meant I was a little late meeting Fr Richard Whinder at the Spaghetti House in Victoria before the Faith in Focus meeting.

There was a good attendance for the talk on "The challenge of the Sexual Orientation Regulations legislation." Several blog readers were there and I was happy to meet one or two commenters in person. I spoke about the SORs and their impact, the Catholic Church's teaching on sex, marriage, chastity and homosexuality, and then on the various responses that we could make, including, most importantly, the response of living as holy a life as we can. Sorry but some parts of the talk are still in note form. I will really try to find time to edit it and post it on the internet as I know some of you have asked to see a copy.

A couple of people afterwards told me that they had heard of the talk from the newsletter published at the Gay Mass at Warwick Street. They had been with the group gathered outside the Church to say the Rosary. They have promised to bring me the newsletter tomorrow at the Prayer Vigil in response to the "99 names of Allah" concert. I think there were also one or two people who came in response to the same newsletter who disagreed with what I said. I would have liked to have a chat afterwards but perhaps on another occasion we can talk. I know many of the people involved in the Gay Mass: they know I disagree with it and I know that they disagree with what I say. Hey! we can still talk.

Afterwards, many of the group repaired to the "Ha Ha Bar" in Victoria. This is one of those modern quasi-pub establishments that were not around when I was younger. All rather confusing to me but it had tasteful polished hardwood, glass, and leather seats and good continental wheat beer. Lots of good contacts made and some very stimulating discussion about various things including the law, the EU, medical ethics, and blogging.

London Oratory pilgrimage to Walsingham

Readers may be interested in this notice received from Fr Rupert McHardy at the London Oratory:

Oratory Pilgrimage to Walsingham June 30th

Walsingham is England's most important Marian shrine, dating back to the mid-11th century. For a number of years the Oratory has been taking a pilgrimage to this great shrine. The day includes Mass and a Procession. This year the Sung Mass will be in the Traditional Rite. A bus leaves from outside the V & A Museum at 8.30. We should be back in London by 8pm. Do encourage others to come. Tickets may be bought from the Oratory House. Bring a packed lunch with you.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Press comment on the Motu Proprio

The inaccuracy of so many press comments about the Classical Rite is now so commonplace that it is boring to draw attention to it all the time. Allow me just one example from the Telegraph article I mentioned yesterday. To save labouring the point, I will just put comments into the text:
The Tridentine Rite, which dates back to the 1560 Council of Trent, [no - the Council of Trent took place at various stages between 1545 and 1563. The Missal of Pius V was published in 1570 and it was simply a codification of the existing Roman Rite which was already in many essentials over a thousand years old then and was the most ancient of the rites then in use] differs from the new Mass in that it is [always] celebrated in Latin with the priest leading the people in facing east, the direction from which the Church believes Jesus will appear on the Last Day.

This means the priest has his back to the congregation, unlike the new Mass, which is [actually "may be"] celebrated in the vernacular [and may be celebrated] with the priests facing their congregations [but may also be celebrated in Latin and facing eastward - the other key difference between the rites is in the rubrics and the prescribed prayers. Here are some examples...]
Is it really so difficult?

Contrast this with the excellent, well-informed article of Andrea Tornielli in today's Il Giornale, Svolta di Ratzinger sulla liturgia: via libera all’antica Messa in latino. Rorate Caeli has translated part of the article. One of the most important points, one which I have occasionally drawn attention to in this blog, in whimsical fashion (see here and here) is that the Classical Roman Rite has never been prohibited or abolished.

Reading the whole of Tornielli's article, I thought that the following extract was also worth bringing to your attention (my translation):
Further, Ratzinger has already explained many times that “in the course of her history, the Church has never abolished or prohibited orthodox forms of liturgy because that would be foreign to the very spirit of the church” in that “a liturgy that expresses the true faith is never a collection of various ceremonies made according to pragmatic criteria, to be manipulated at will, today in one way and tomorrow in another.” It is, on the contrary, a living reality “an expression of the life of the Church, in which faith, prayer and the very life of generations is condensed, where at the same time the action of God and the response of man is incarnated in concrete form.” The Council therefore ordered a reform of the liturgical books, but did not prohibit the former books. Finally the Pope recalled that “there have always existed many forms of the Latin rite.” In fact, until Vatican II, alongside the roman rite, there were the ambrosian, the mozarabic, that of Braga, that of Chartreuse, that of the Carthusians, that of the Dominicans. “Nobody was ever scandalised” said Ratzinger “that the Dominicans, often present in our parishes, did not celebrate as did the secular priests, but followed their own rite. We never had any doubt that their rite was catholic on a par with the roman rite and we were proud of the richness of so many diverse traditions.”
Now that's what I call informed religious journalism. Bear in mind that Il Giornale is not a Catholic paper but a national Italian daily.

Ordinations in St Louis

The above photo is of the ordination of Fr Matthew Talarico and Fr William Avis, of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest. The Institute has permission from the Holy See to celebrate the Mass, the Sacraments and the Divine Office according to the Liturgical Books of 1962. (Kansas City Catholic has some more photos.)

The ordinations were celebrated by Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke on June 15, 2007, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, at the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis, Missouri

I also found a magnificent photo of the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis on the front page of their website-under-construction:

H/T New Liturgical Movement

Ministry of dynamite

Totus Pius, the blog where each of the contributors is one of the Popes Pius, has a funny post on their Latest Liturgical Ministry. I have suggested to their Holinesses that given the present temporary shortage of priests in some areas, it may be necessary to petition them for extraordinary ministers of dynamite.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

V&A "sculpture"

Following the example of the scientologists, I carry my Xacti mini camcorder when I get filmed for TV. I do my bit as a "going live" reporter and get Joanna Bogle's reaction to a peculiarly silly sculpture in the glorious Victoria and Albert Museum:

English episcopal opposition to Motu Proprio

The Daily Telegraph today has a report titled Catholic bishops resist advance of Latin Mass. The key point:
In a confidential letter, the Cardinal, the head of the Church in England and Wales, has argued that the provision of the Old Rite was already adequate in this country.
Adequate for whom? one might ask. In many places, restrictive permission for the Classical Rite means that people have to go to Sunday Mass at 4pm, or travel to different Churches each Sunday, or have to find priests from the FSSP, the ICKSP or the Archdiocese of Southwark who are willing to travel. Many simply have no provision at all. Several blogs have already pointed out the inconsistency between this letter and the active negotiations which secured approved status for the Gay Mass at Warwick Street, Soho.

Despite the unfairness of this, I support Fr Zuhlsdorf's "rules of engagement" for the Motu Proprio. When he wrote it, the title was "when and if it comes" - recent official confirmations make it clear that we can now drop the "and if" clause. His first rule is perhaps the most important:
Rejoice because our liturgical life has been enriched, not because "we win". Everyone wins when the Church’s life is enriched. This is not a "zero sum game".

Youth 2000 retreat

In response to a reader's request, I am very happy to publicise the forthcoming Youth 2000 retreat from 22-24 June at Ealing. The deal:
There will be a mix of talks, workshops, time for quiet prayer, socialising and the sacraments.
Sounds good to me. For details, see the Youth 2000 website's information: praystation@ealing

Classical Rite training

A reader kindly sent me the following notice from the Latin Mass Society

The Latin Mass Society is organising a residential training conference at Merton College, Oxford from Tuesday 28 – Thursday 30 August 2007 for priests ordained within the last ten years to learn the Traditional Latin Rite. Information packs have already been sent to over 400 priests.

There will be three days of intensive practical training sessions, guided by priests who regularly celebrate the Traditional Mass, and supported by lectures on the Latin, history and doctrine of the Mass. There will also be a full schedule of daily Traditional Mass, Lauds, Vespers and Benediction.

The conference has been designed for priests who have little or no previous experience of the Traditional Rite, and a knowledge of Latin is not essential. Most of the tuition will focus on celebrating the Low Mass. It is planned that a follow up conference in 2008 will focus on the High Mass. The conference will conclude with a magnificent Pontifical High Mass celebrated by a visiting bishop.

Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the LMS said, "Interest in the Traditional Latin Rite has burgeoned under Benedict XVI’s pontificate, especially among the younger priests and faithful. In a service to the Church, the Latin Mass Society will provide growing opportunities over the next few years for priests to experience the reverence and devotion of the Traditional Rite. We see it as an integral part of the re-evangelisation of England and Wales, and know that a number of bishops are quietly appreciative of our efforts."

Full details of the Oxford Traditional training conference are available from the LMS at 11-13 Macklin Street, London WC2B 5NH; telephone 020 7404 7284.

99 names of Allah protest

The Daily Telegraph and Catholic Action UK both report on planned protests next Tuesday 19 June outside Westminster Cathedral on the occasion of the performance of Tavener's work setting the 99 names of Allah to music. (See Cathedral in the Eye)

Does anyone have any details - time to meet, what is proposed (Rosary, Litany of the Holy Name...?) I'll be there - any other priests coming?

Salvation our primary concern

I thought you might be interested in the sermon I will be preaching this Sunday as it touches on some matters that I have raised recently in this blog.

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7.50)

The story of the repentant woman who is forgiven by our Lord is very moving. Our Lord restores the woman’s self-respect which has been lost with her reputation and offers an analysis of his action to his friend, the Pharisee Simon, that will cause him and countless others after him to examine their conscience and begin to root out the capital vice of pride.

A modern reading of this episode might well stop there. However, the gospel account ends with our Lord’s proclamation of the woman’s salvation “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” This turns out to be the essential outcome of her encounter with Christ.

It is worth reflecting on this in relation to our own work in the parish. People often say to me that the parish is a good one and I like people to say this: it brings a sense of, I think, legitimate pride – I am aware that there are many things that we could do much better.

But the other day, I was being interviewed for a programme to be broadcast on EWTN and the interviewer spoke of the parish and asked about its “success.” I think it was a light given by the Holy Spirit which prompted me immediately to say that I will only know whether the parish has been a success at the last judgement when our Lord will show me how many parishioners have been saved.

Our “success” or “failure” as a parish is not measured by how we feel or how much money we raise or how many activities we can arrange. The true success of all our endeavours in the Church will be measured by how many of us are saved and go to heaven. A consequence of this view of “success” in a parish is that all our activities should be directed towards this final end.

In fact, the ordinary things that are done well here (and can always be done better) are not irrelevant to this end. A parish where people feel welcomed, where there are activities for people of all ages, where we are able to keep the buildings in good order, will be more likely to help people to get to heaven than one which is neglected or unfriendly. Therefore it is right that we should try to be more welcoming, offer more activities for people, and involve more people, in other words to try to do better the things that we sometimes do quite well.

Nevertheless, we should always keep in mind the real point of existing as a parish in the Catholic Church. In the end it is not so that we can feel good about ourselves, it is so that we can help one another to live the Christian life as well as possible, keep the commandments, pray devoutly and regularly, frequent the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, and especially foster vocations: both to Christian marriage lived according to the teaching of the Church and to the priesthood and the religious life.

Parish activities usually begin and end with a prayer. That is how it should be. We should never see this as a token gesture indicating that our activities are Catholic rather than run by, say, the local Council. Committing all our activities to the care of our almighty Father and our patron, the Blessed Virgin Mary, reminds us that the ultimate reason for any of our activities is that we should help one another to get to heaven.

Our secular government has recently decreed that religious charities must prove that they provide some “public benefit” apart from “advancement of religion.” The Bishops have quite rightly expressed concern about this and I have tried to do so myself through my own writing.

Reflecting on today’s beautiful gospel, we can see that our priorities are diametrically opposite to those expressed by the Charities Commission. For us, the “advancement of religion” is the supreme public benefit. It is ordered to the salvation of souls and not merely the increase of temporal benefit in this world, whether physical or psychological. If, please God, we do bring benefits to the public, we do so because we because we wish to follow the command of Christ that we should love our neighbour, and because we believe that anything done for the least of his brothers or sisters is done for him.

The Charities Commission may be right in one respect. The public benefit that the “advancement of religion” brings may not be measurable by secular standards. Indeed it may never be seen this side of the last judgement.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Interview for EWTN

After Mass today, and the consecration of the parish to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, taking phone calls and trying to skim a little off the paperwork menacingly building up on my desk, I went over to St Wilfrid's Hall at the London Oratory where a mobile studio for EWTN was all set up for Joanna Bogle (Auntie Joanna) to do a series of interviews for the series Catholic Lives. We did two fifteen minute sessions on the priesthood, the parish, the Church in England, blogging and vocation. It was great to meet the EWTN team as well as Marcus Grodi and his wife who were also in London.

Afterwards, Joanna and I went next door to the Victoria and Albert Museum for tea. Here is the tea:

And here is the setting:

It is a good place to have tea since you have to walk past various glorious exhibits to get to the tea room. On the way back, we stopped to look at this beautiful 16th century chalice:

In the entrance lobby, we were confronted by a ludicrous blob hanging from the ceiling, obscuring the Victorian Gothic architecture. I did a quick interview with Joanna on my mini camcorder and will post that on YouTube in due course.

Criminal mischief

Cosmos Liturgy Sex has a post about a some people who damaged a marble altar a the Annunciation Catholic Church in Morgan County, Alabama. They claimed biblical authority for doing so and consider Pope Benedict to be the antichrist.

Various penalties were imposed by the circuit judge, Sherrie Paler, including a 2 year suspended prison sentence and payment of restitution. They pleaded guilty to "criminal mischief".

I could think of one or two other Churches where criminal mischief has been wreaked but the perpetrators have never been prosecuted.

The latest Doctor Doyle

Great news today. Matt Doyle has passed his exams, is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB and is now Doctor Doyle. I did not know before that he is a descendant of another famous Doctor Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan.

Now Matt, if you have just a moment, I must talk to you about this twinge I have in the small of my back, it only happens when it's raining and usually on Tuesdays ...

Everything old is new again - example

Over at the New Liturgical Movement, there is a set of photos of St Marien in Berlin. The first shows the Church in the late 19th century. The second shows the Church after a 1960s aggiornamento which involved whitewash but thankfully did not destroy the Church too radically. The third shows the recent restoration after the Church came into private hands. The notes by Shawn Tribe interpreting this as an allegory of the reform of the reform are well worth reading.

Chronicle of a "Renovation of the Renovation"; an Allegory for a Reform of the Reform?

Caption competition

What's all this about the Motu Proprio?
You can say the old Mass anyway!

Others welcome...

Faith in Focus talk

I'll be speaking at the London Faith in Focus group for young adults on Monday evening (18 June). The subject is 'The SORs - Proving Humanae Vitae right' so I'll be looking at the SORs in the wider context of the teaching of the Church on marriage, love and family.

The Talk starts at 7pm and is at St Vincent's, Carlisle Place, between Victoria Station and Westminster Cathedral. Young (18-35-ish) readers of this blog very welcome. Afterwards, we usually go for a drink to the Cardinal pub nearby.

Motu Proprio white knuckle ride

Having shown so much interest in the Motu Proprio, I though I had better have a post on the latest information. See this Rorate Caeli post which has the translation of an Italian article at the Papal News website Petrus by Bruno Volpe. Apparently the MP is to be published before the Pope's summer vacation. When is that? you ask. "New Catholic" helpfully specifies:
The Pope's vacation this summer will take place in a small villa owned by the Diocese of Treviso, in the tiny hamlet of Lorenzago di Cadore, Province of Belluno, in the Veneto region, in the July 9-27 period.
In an interesting detail, the report says that the MP
[...] will be presented in a Press Conference by Cardinals Francis Arinze, Dario Castrillon Hoyos, and Julian Herranz.
The report has a quotation from the excellent Fr Nicola Bux who spoke at launch of Fr Michael Lang's Turning Towards the Lord in Rome in April last year.
"You may write calmly [that] Pope Benedict XVI loves agreement and collaboration, and does not wish to decide everything on his own, which is why he has heard several and repeated opinions, but the Motu Proprio for the liberalization of the Latin Mass has been signed and its publication is imminent, I would say it is a matter of days."
Ma Beck, commenting on Mulier Fortis's post on the subject hopes that it will be on her birthday, 17 June. Mine is on 1 July and it would be a good birthday present for me too!

Discovering Priesthood Day

These are days organised by the Southwark Vocations team for under 18s to find out more about the priesthood. We have Mass, adoration, games, and a session with one of our bishops who is "in the hot seat" to answer questions from the boys. The informal conversations with the priests present are also an important part of the day.

We have a Discovering Priesthood Day at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen on Saturday 23 June, starting at 10am and finishing by 4pm. Bishop Pat Lynch will be celebrating Mass and will be answering questions as "Bishop in the hot seat". The day is for boys aged 14-18. Email the Southwark Vocations Office info@southwarkvocations.com if your son would like to come.

Teaching martyrs

A very interesting article on Zenit in which Fr Robert Christian, a theology professor at the Angelicum in Rome shares emails he received from Father Ragheed Ganni who was recently shot in Mosul. (See Christian Martyrs in Iraq) Fr Christian says:
"We are used to teaching future leaders of the Church. When we hear about one of our former students becoming a bishop, we rejoice. But having taught a martyr is something else entirely. And sometimes we professors learn from our students."
He is in good company. A former professor at his rival university, now called the Gregorian, then called the Roman College, was St Robert Bellarmine. He taught a number of priests from the English College who died for the faith.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Christian Lawyers' concern over charity law

The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship has expressed concern over new charity rules introduced as a result of the Charities Act 2006. I mentioned my own concerns about this a couple of months ago (Prayer no longer charitable in the UK)

Previously, a charity could be formed under the head of "Advancement of Religion" and that was taken as a charitable purpose. The 2006 Act introduced a new requirement that the charity must show that it is for the public benefit. It was always that case that a particular religion could be deemed not to be a charity but the legal position now is that no religion is deemed to be a charity ipso facto, there must be a demonstration of something else called "public benefit".

Public benefit is not defined in the Act and it has been left for the Charities Commission to consult on the matter. On this, see my previous post Charities Act and the secularist agenda which offers some analysis of the consultation process.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and public policy officer at the LCF said:
It is of concern that the Charity Commission has said it will interpret 'public benefit' in the light of 'modern conditions'. What this could mean for Christian charities that exist for evangelism or which promote traditional Christian teaching on family and life issues is unknown."
Here is a link to the LCF's full response to the consultation (pdf)
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