Friday, 31 August 2007

Enrichment - keeping it mutual

Along with several other commentators, I mentioned the excellent homily of Archbishop Nichols last Tuesday at the opening Mass for the LMS training conference at Merton College. His words were particularly encouraging for the priests who had gathered to begin learning or deepen their knowledge of the older form of the rite. The Archbishop said:
I hope that your study of the Missal of Pope John XXIII will help you to appreciate the history and richness of that form of the Mass. And I trust that you will bring all that you learn to every celebration of the Mass you lead in the future.
In the context of this positive appreciation of Archbishop Nichols' words, I would like to take up one question which will, I am sure, be the focus of much discussion in the future.

Pope Benedict affirmed clearly that there are not two rites, but two forms of the one Roman Rite. The Archbishop says:
Why does the Pope insist that there is one rite of the Mass? Because, whichever form is being used, the same mystery is being celebrated, the same rite is followed. There is one mystery and there is one movement, or structure, through which that mystery is enacted.
I would suggest that there is something more to the Holy Father's insistence on the "one rite, two forms." After all, the various Eastern rites all celebrate the same mystery of salvation but they are not forms of the Roman rite. It is also worth remembering that where the newer form of the Roman Rite is celebrated well (as on Tuesday morning at Merton, for example), there can be no doubt that the kind of rite that is celebrated is Roman - it could not be mistaken for any other kind of rite.

This would all be a matter of terminology were it not for the purpose of the Holy Father: he sees the two forms of the rite as "mutually enriching." Most people seem to understand this in terms of enriching the older form with some of the prefaces of the newer form, and the celebration of some of the new saints; and enriching the newer form with the sense of the sacred that is found in proper celebrations of the older form.

I wonder whether we might also look for other more particular ways in which the older form could enrich the celebration of the Missal of Paul VI. The Holy Father himself, writing in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" suggested that the recitation of the canon in silence would be a good option to have available. He also suggested the possibility of using both the priestly prayers before Holy Communion. Pope John Paul quoted the scriptural prayer that the priest used to say before receiving from the chalice. There are several devotional prayers said secreto (the aufer a nobis, the oramus te and the placeat tibi for example) which the priest could say without in any way disrupting the flow of the newer rite. I have also heard that Cardinal Estevez was in favour of introducing the older offertory prayers as an option in the 2000 edition of the new Roman Missal.

I hope that in due course, considerable latitude will be explicitly allowed for priests to introduce elements of the usus antiquior into celebrations according to the ordinary form. Many priests have done so for a while now, perhaps wondering a little in conscience occasionally. Removing such scruples would be very much in accord with the project of Summorum Pontificum and would allow the ordinary form of the rite to undergo a slow and organic correction.

St Philip's Books

Before leaving Oxford yesterday, I took a short walk down St Aldate's to visit my good friend Christopher Zealley at St Philip's Books. Above you can see the entrance to the gallery in which the shop is located.

Inside, the shop is graced with a splendid Jacobean fireplace and plaster work ceiling

Among other things, I picked up a good copy of the Vesperale Romanum published by Desclée. I will have to wait for it: my suitcase was already so heavy with the various things I had to bring to demonstrate the celebration of the usus antiquior that I asked Christopher to send the books on.

There is an enquiry form at the bookshop's website if you want to get a printed catalogue. You can, of course, browse the titles on the website itself.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Hard work and glorious liturgy

I arrived at Oxford for the second half of Alcuin Reid's lecture on Tuesday, in which he expounded on the organic development of the Liturgy and the importance of Summorum Pontificum. I am sure he will publish the text in due course. He allowed himself one irresistible punchline by quoting the Tablet article which said that Pope Benedict was "not a trained liturgist". The ribald mirth generated by quoting this judgement confirmed that it has now firmly achieved legendary status.

From the lecture, we went to the College Chapel for solemn Vespers. Thanks to this conference and last year's CIEL conference I am a little more familiar with solemn vespers now and I would love to try to introduce it in the parish. It would provide an opportunity for people to experience the Roman liturgical tradition outside of the context of Mass.

After supper, I went to bed fairly smartly since my private Mass at the Oratory in the morning was scheduled for 6.15am. I was in the House Chapel. After making my thanksgiving the the Church, I took this photo of one of the several other Masses being said:

Wednesday was the main teaching day with four sessions going through the ceremonies of Low Mass with different groups of priests. My group was for "beginners". In his introduction, Fr Andrew Wadsworth answered the implied criticism of the Conference in the assertion of one Bishop, that a priest cannot learn to say Mass according to the usus antiquior in a two day conference. Nobody actually imagined that they could. But a two day conference is a good start and it gave priests the confidence and the resources to continue learning until they feel able to say the Mass privately with the assistance of an experienced server and perhaps also an Assistant Priest for their "first Mass" in the older form.

In all the groups, the practical teaching was mingled with some discussion of various pastoral points relating to the introduction of traditional liturgy in the "normal" parish, for example, the need for care, sensitivity and charity that was often lacking when the newer form of the rite was introduced in the 1970s.

After the two morning sessions, the clergy attended in Choir at the High Mass celebrated by Fr Anthony Conlon, the Chaplain to the Latin Mass Society, assisted by Dr Lawrence Hemming as Deacon and Fr John Emerson as Subdeacon:

(photo credit: Schola Sainte Cécile)

The magnificent vestments were loaned from France and (I think) were those used at the Chartres Pilgrimage Mass.

On the Wednesday evening, I was the second Assistant Priest for Pontifical Vespers at which Bishop Rifan presided. This was followed by a banquet provided at the expense of the Latin Mass Society which had heavily subsidised the Conference for priests. We were treated to an excellent meal, courtesy of the Merton College staff, rounded off by enjoyable speeches from Julian Chadwick, the Chairman of the LMS, and Fr Jerome Bertram of the Oxford Oratory.

Fr Bertram gave a witty and entertaining analysis of the phrase "Ite Missa Est". He pointed out that in many languages, the idea of "Go in peace" is introduced with no foundation in the original, obscure as it may be. He suggested that on the contrary, the Mass itself was the occasion of peace and that once finished, we went out to engage in the spiritual battle of the apostolate.

Although my Mass this morning was scheduled for the later time of 6.45am, the mitigated penance of rising not quite so early was spiced up a little by the fire alarm going off at about 1.30am. After my own Mass, I served Mass for another priest who welcomed a little discreet guidance here and there.

After breakfast, there was a discussion session followed by a public lecture by Dr Lawrence Hemming. He rightly chose to move away from the more particular rubrical matters that had formed an important part of the conference and gave a brilliant exposition of the nature of liturgy itself. The lecture was not a formal paper but Dr Hemming has a book out soon which will cover in detail many of the points that he discussed.

The conference ended with the celebration of Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was present with his chaplain for the whole conference. His engaging and gentle sermon compared the recent foundation of his diocese with the antiquity of Merton College, and compared that with the antiquity of the Roman Rite, speaking of the "tyranny of relative time."

(photo credit: Schola Sainte Cécile)

Have a look at the other photos at the Schola Sainte Cécile. The gold vestments and the magnificent mitre were loaned by Richard Luzar from his private collection. Just think: someone actually wanted to get rid of these things from their Church or Cathedral!

The Conference was a great success, especially in the confidence that it gave to the priests who came: not only in the particular matter of learning to celebrate Mass in the usus antiquior but also more generally for all of us, in our priestly identity. There was a genuine sense of "gaudium et spes" and a determination to continue with more events in the future.

(More tomorrow.)

Oxford LMS training conference links

For the conference, I had to pack quite a lot of things for my sessions demonstrating how to say Low Mass. I reluctantly left the big camera behind and made do with the plastic toy one - I have therefore relied on other people for photos and, thank goodness, the Schola Sainte Cécile have a good collection.

The timetable at the Conference was quite full and I would not have had much chance to take photos in any case. As well as the Schola Sainte Cécile, there are a couple of other sources I read on my mobile on the bus from Oxford to London:

Damien Thompson has posted on the very good homily given by Archbishop Nichols (Thank God for Archbishop Nichols). He has posted the full text of the homily in the comments box in response to requests. (The above photo is also from his blog.)

Fr Z has a couple of posts following up on Damien's, also commenting positively on Archbishop Nichols' homily.

The New Liturgical Movement has a number of posts and some more photos taken by Joseph Shaw.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Oxford LMS conference

Tomorrow morning I have a funeral (please pray for the repose of the soul of Maud Nazer). Then I will be off to London again, to catch the bus from Victoria to Oxford for the Conference organised by the Latin Mass Society to introduce priests to the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. Because of the funeral, I will miss the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Nichols in the morning but I hope to be there in time for Alcuin Reid's lecture at 3pm. I am looking forward to a couple of days in a City which brings back many fond memories of three years spent in the company of good friends.

My particular role, as well as giving one of the sets of tutorials, is to participate in the discussions with the experience of being a parish priest fostering traditional liturgy in a normal parish. Apparently there are over 50 priests attending. Many lay people will also be coming for the public liturgical celebrations during the conference (at the Merton College Chapel.)
  • Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer (Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem) will celebrate the Solemn Mass on Wednesday 29 August at 11.45am
  • Bishop Rifan will celebrate Pontifical Vespers on Wednesday 29 August at 6pm
  • Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma will celebrate the closing Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional Rite on Thursday 30 August at 11.45am.
There will also be traditional Lauds on Wednesday and Thursday at 8am and traditional Vespers on Tuesday at 6pm.

Assisting Bishop Rifan

Bishop Rifan was at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, this evening to celebrate a Pontifical Low Mass. I was scheduled to say a Missa Cantata but was happy to say a private Mass earlier in the parish and act as Assistant Priest for the great man. Mgr Gordon Read was the other AP. Neither of us had acted in this capacity before so we needed some prompts here and there. Fortunately, I managed to retain much of what is in Fortescue's mercifully brief chapter on the subject.

Bishop Rifan heads the Apostolic Administration of St John Vianney, established in 2002 in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil, to which about 30,000 faithful are attached. At the end of Mass, after unvesting at the altar and kneeling to say a thanksgiving at the faldstool, he asked us two capellani to accompany him to the back of the Church where he remained to greet all those who had come to the Mass. Nearly all of the people knelt to kiss his ring in recognition of his office as successor to the apostles.

Over dinner afterwards, Bishop Rifan told us of a recently founded group of Franciscans with whom he is great friends. They work with the poor and have established 100 houses in ten years. One of their houses cares for 600 poor people. They have perpetual adoration, live an exemplary life of Franciscan poverty.

Speaking to me personally, the Bishop spoke of how important it is that traditionalists should always show charity to others and avoid bitterness and dissension. His concern was transparently genuine and pastoral. It was a joy to spend an evening assisting him and I look forward to seeing him again at other events this week.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Underwhelmed by Inverness

Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, stands at the mouth of the Moray Firth, on the banks of the River Ness. The first recorded sighting of the famous monster is attributed to St Columba, although he saw it in the river, not in the Loch further south.

Above is a picture of the castle. The present structure is early 19th century but there has been a castle in this spot since the 11th century. Just beneath the building, the museum and art gallery houses a good interpretative exhibition or the history of the Highlands.

Parts of the City are picturesque. Below is a view along the river Ness:

And here you see the pedestrian suspension bridge. This is fun to cross since the bridge wobbles and shakes not only in the wind but also with the movement of people walking on it.

The area is redolent of the history of the Jacobite rebellions. Outside the castle is a statue of Flora MacDonald who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape "over the sea to Skye":

Sadly, the centre of Inverness is not very appealing. Throughout Britain, city centres have become homogeneised with chain stores filling all the main streets. In Inverness, the paved shopping street and indoor shopping mall (the "Eastgate Centre" - yawn!) have Boots, Waterstones, WH Smiths, Costa Coffee, Topshop etc. etc. etc. It was not much different from walking down the Broadway in Bexleyheath. The level of wide eyed, wobbling and relatively young drunks weaving across the pavement at 7 o'clock in the evening was probably slightly higher

In the main street, there are several Indian and Chinese restaurants. Along the Ness, there are various more trendy establishments leveraging the price of beefsteak by emphasising the number of days it had hung, the provenance of the cattle or the twee garnishments that would allow the restaurant to charge £20 or more for a piece of grilled meat.

To be honest, after walking around for a bit, I fell into a rather bad mood and decided to have a freshly grilled pattie of ground Argentinian beef, garnished with courgettes, tomato and mustard with French Fried potatoes, quick sealed to retain as much Vitamin C as possible. It seemed right to patronise an establishment bearing the name of Clan Donald and I saved myself quite a lot of money.

On the way into town on Sunday night, I took a taxi the seven miles from the airport and did not get much change from £20 (if you are in the US, that is forty dollars!!!) Therefore on the return journey I was determined to get the bus - not because I couldn't afford the taxi fare on the generous offerings of the Blackfen faithful - but because I don't like being ripped off.

After arriving by train at Inverness, I wheeled my suitcase the five minute walk to the Bus Station. That is after all where you might expect to catch a bus from the main city of the Highlands to its main airport. In fact, it is necessary to find a bus stop on the street by the Post Office. While waiting for the bus, I took this photo and mused that it could offer an explanation for the unfortunate failure of the Jacobite clans at the Battle of Culloden:

The history books tell of a failed night attack on the Duke of Cumberland's camp at Nairn, and the poor choice of ground, disadvantaging the Highland warriors by putting them into an open conventional battle against an army with superior artillery and cavalry, instead of choosing ground less suitable for cannon and horse and more fitted to the rush from cover of fearless clansmen with broadsword and dirk.

Looking at the bus, perhaps the truth is that the MacDonalds, Stewarts, Frasers, Camerons and Atholls were busy snapping up the latest 2-for-1 offer on Scotts Porage Oats.

I managed a couple of snaps from the aeroplane as we flew over Scotland. I'd be interested if anyone can identify where this is:

Reading at meals

The custom in most monastic communities is for a book to be read at meals. One of the monks is on duty as reader and takes his own lunch after the others. At Pluscarden, a short reading from the scriptures was read at lunch, followed by a secular book. At the end of lunch (I think), a list was read of those from the Subiaco Congregation who had died on that day. At supper, a more religious book was read.

The lunchtime book was the autobiography of Frank Muir. We were at the point where he was recounting his wartime experiences with the RAF in Iceland. Some of it was a little hard on the stomach; the indignities of wartime living do not always make for pleasant associations even with a frugal meal. However, Muir is a very amusing writer; his anecdotes and brilliant puns caused some ribaldry, skating close to the mark in some cases.

In the evening, we had the life of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. , telling of his experience in the army, and of his spiritual direction at the hands of Fr Athenasi. The priest who directed him seemed quite ferocious to me, almost inhuman at times. At the same time, there were elements of an approach to the spiritual life which were very telling of the immediate post-war era. The insistence, for example, on not being overly pious or devotional seemed very dated. Sadly, this is the kind of thing that some older priests continue to promote in today's culture where it is usually inappropriate. In modern England at any rate, any devotion at all is welcome and very much to be encouraged. If only we had the problem of excessive devotion!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

St Mary's, Inverness

My flight to Inverness last Sunday took me to Inverness in the early evening, too late to be barging into a monastic community. I was also rather interested to see Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. Frankly, I was a little disappointed with Inverness itself (more of that in due course) but I was delighted to find the Catholic Church on the banks of the river Ness.

St Mary's is a homely and well-kept parish Church; the newsletter is packed with events that speak of a parish full of life and confidence. The Church is finely decorated in what I have heard referred to as "wedding-cake" victorian gothic. Who cares! Better that than the kind of building Rowan Atkinson once referred to as "something that looks like an upturned dustbin with an old bicycle on top of it." It rather reminded me of St Mary's in West Croydon, a rather larger Church in which I made my first Holy Communion and learnt to serve Mass.

Here is a close-up of the statue of Our Lady:

The old High Altar is still in place and, thankfully, unspoilt:

I say "thankfully" because it could easily have been destroyed when the people's altar was built:

The pulpit is also still intact although it has obviously been repositioned, looking for all the world as though it has arrived randomly, a little like an ecclesiastical tardis:

I am sorry if that sounds unkind. Doubtless, the "re-ordering" of the Church was done with the best of intentions and it would have been practically impossible to continue using the High Altar in the fervour for "renewal" that would have prevented such a tradition until recently. Perhaps one day, Churches such as this will be able to return to the magnificence of their original design, freed from the constraints of Mass "facing the people". In the case of this Church, the reluctance to tamper too much with the original structures may well be a cause of great gratitude in years to come.

I also saw this indication of an important recent development in the life of the Catholic Church in many parts of Scotland:

The Polish-language version of the newsletter is needed because of the great influx of Poles to Scotland in recent years. Tomorrow sees the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Pluscarden. This is firmly billed as a "Diocesan" event in the interests of integration. However, the subtext makes it clear where the impetus is coming from. The Pilgrimage is to honour "Our Lady of Czestochowa" and has been increasing in numbers enormously. Several hundred Poles make the Pilgrimage on foot from Elgin to Pluscarden; at seven or so miles, this is a mere hop and a skip compared with the great pilgrimages to the shrine in Poland. The monks told me that many of the people arrive at the Abbey with tears of devotion. On a more mundane note, last year, the numbers were so great that the marquee erected for refreshments proved inadequate for the numbers arriving.

A foretaste of eternity

The daily liturgical timetable for weekdays at Pluscarden is as follows:
  • 4.45am - Vigils (similar to Matins of the Roman Breviary) and Lauds - approximately an hour and a half
  • c. 6.55am (half an hour after Lauds) - Prime
  • 8.45am - Conventual Mass and Terce
  • 12.35pm - Sext (followed by lunch)
  • 2.15pm - None
  • 6pm - Vespers, followed by prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the Lady Chapel (Supper is at 7pm)
  • 8pm - Compline
The offices and conventual Mass are all chanted in Latin. The community are using the new books edited by Solemnes as they are produced. The older Antiphonale Monasticum is used where necessary. Mass in in the Novus Ordo, using the new Graduale Romanum (readings in English).

One of the pamphlets I read spoke of the chanting of the psalms as an image of eternity. This could be joked about, especially at Vigils when, for example, we chanted the whole of psalm 77 - on a monotone as are all the psalms at Vigils. However, I think there is an important point in seeing this "sacred monotony" as a foretaste of heaven. Newman once gave a sermon, the title of which has always remained in my mind "Holiness: a condition of future blessedness". By immersing ourselves in the almost trance-like recitation of the psalms, day in and day out, we are brought to see that it is not excitement or entertainment that we should seek in our worship of God but fidelity, stillness and a focus on the Father as totally other yet intimately involved in our life and work. To spend a few days with the monastic community for whom this is a daily way of life helped me to put the breviary into perspective.

Priests are invited to join the community in Choir for the offices. I took up this invitation (some priests prefer to remain in the chancel which is another way of participating in the cycle of prayer). I was very glad to have done so. Brother Michael, who was in the choir stall next to me, not only helped me by pointing out the various pages in the books when I was not quick enough to find them, but also gave me, incidentally, an informal "masterclass" in Gregorian Chant.

The monks use the East end of the old Priory Church. The windows are decorated using a modern form of stained glass. Here is the East window in the morning:

After Compline, the Marian anthem is chanted and there is a custom of saying a brief prayer before the statue of Our Lady of Pluscarden

Guests are encouraged not to dawdle after Compline but to retire to the Guest House. Getting up at 4.30 in the morning is no problem if you go to bed at nine o'clock in the evening!

Here is a view of the South chancel and the night stairs:

The stairs lead up to an entrance into the enclosure. I used these each morning after Prime when I went to the Prior's Chapel to say a private Mass in the usus antiquior. The monks who are priests concelebrate at the conventual Mass each day but they were quite happy for me to say a private Mass and then to attend in Choir for the conventual Mass. I like to do this since the conventual Mass can then be a "thanksgiving" for one's own daily Mass. It also meant that I could concentrate on following the chant and singing (I hope I was not a distraction!).

The Prior's Chapel, as I mentioned, is where the Marquess of Bute arranged for Mass to be celebrated after he had taken ownership of the Priory. Here is a photo from early in the morning. The lighting conditions were a bit of a challenge but I hope this gives you something of the atmosphere of this beautiful and ancient chapel.

Pluscarden Abbey

After an interval of nearly 400 years, Benedictine monastic life began anew at Pluscarden. After the Reformation, the Priory had been in the hands of lay owners. In 1897, John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, and author of the eccentric but enormously useful translation of the Roman Breviary, purchased the Priory from the Duke of Fife. A devout and wealthy philanthropist, he helped the Presyterian congregation who had been using the ruins for services to build a Church in the glen, and arranged for Catholic Mass to be celebrated in the Prior's Chapel by Dom Sir David Oswald Hunter Blair Bt OSB of Fort Augustus Abbey.

On the death of the Marquess, the property passed to his son, Lord Colum Crichton-Stuart who was eager for a monastic community to take up residence. Eventually, he found Abbot Wilfred Upson of Prinknash willing to found a new monastic community and in 1948, five monks began to live the Benedictine life once more in the Priory.

The community has carried out much restoration work in the meantime. Here is an example from the Dunbar vestry:

Although the nave of the Church is missing, the East End is quite well preserved:

To the West of the Church, the community have built the St Benedict's guest house which offers hospitality to men:

This was where I stayed during the past week. The accommodation is simple but perfectly adequate. Guests are expected to enter into the spirit of the monastic life, including the dimension of manual work. At a minimum, this involves cleaning the room in preparation for the next guest to use it.

There is also St Scholastica's guest house for women, situated outside the main ground of the Abbey. There were several women staying during the week - one couple had come for a visit of a few days and stayed in separate accommodation on retreat.

One of the senior members of the community is Dom Camillus, a kindly man who has time to talk to the many visitors who come to the monastery each day. I asked him to hear my confession during my retreat - a special celebration of the sacrament in which traditionally, one tries to look at besetting sins and faults. I was very grateful for his kindly and wise advice.

While touring round with my camera one afternoon, I found him with this magnolia bush which was donated in honour of his 40th anniversary - I am afraid I cannot remember whether it was his profession or ordination that was commemorated.

Back online

Lots of photos from Inverness and Pluscarden to upload. I'm going to put them into Facebook albums and then link to them here. This saves the trouble of editing them down to size and then waiting ages for blogger to upload them.

Comments now switched back on.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Off to Pluscarden

Sorry that this is a little abrupt. As ever, the day before going away seems to be frantically busy with things that cannot be left until I get back.

After Mass this morning, I am taking the train to London, then flying to Inverness where I will be staying overnight. I will have some time to look around Inverness in the morning and then catch the train to Elgin. From there it is a 7 mile taxi ride to Pluscarden Abbey.

This is my annual retreat so I will be incommunicado until I am back late on Friday. I have switched off the comments box: the 24 theses will have to wait until next weekend. I will be taking my camera so I hope to have some nice photographs for you when I get back.

I will include all of you in the Memento in my private Mass each day.

Friday, 17 August 2007

A "Joining of the ways?"

Fr Z and Gerald Augustinus quote the full text of a press release giving notice that EWTN will screen a live Solemn High Mass at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama on September 14, 2007 at 8:00AM EST.

The PR also says that EWTN has asked for the assistance of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an international Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right, to help celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.

This is very encouraging and joyful news. EWTN has always shown celebrations of the newer rite of Mass celebrated in Latin with dignity and reverence. They have come under fire in some quarters for not promoting the Classical Rite.

By screening the older form of the Mass on the date of the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, I think they have shown a certain humility in the face of Pope Benedict's generous initiative. I also celebrated only the Novus Ordo for many years and tended not to get involved in circles where the Classical rite was celebrated.

In Ireland, the Treaty with the British and the subsequent Civil War in Ireland was referred to as "The Parting of the Ways". Former friends and comrades in arms found themselves on opposite sides.

One of the effects of the Motu Proprio might be a "joining of the ways", a cessation of hostilities between the "neo-orthodox" and the "traditionalists". I very much hope so because there is so much good on both sides of this particular liturgical debate. The joining of forces in the interest of orthodoxy, reverent liturgy, and a solid spiritual life could be of incalculable value in the genuine reform of the Church. EWTN is giving a very good example which others may be inspired to follow.

Giant walk-in monstrance?

Jeff Miller, the Curt Jester has a post today that I found amusing.

He considers the liberal Catholic view that the Blessed Sacrament should be put in a side chapel and quotes LA Catholic's question "Shouldn't we also put the whole congregation off to the side, too?" - since Jesus is also present in the assembly.

Jeff's suggestion in his post Consistency is that we should have a giant, walk-in monstrance for the congregation to sit in.

Comments - some reminders

The number of comments to this blog has increased quite a lot in recent months and I am very grateful to you for your interest and for your contributions. These comments have given me (and perhaps you) wisdom, knowledge, correction, and often some good laughs.

I rarely delete comments. Thankfully it is not often necessary. However, just to remind you, here are two posts that are permanently linked at the bottom of the sidebar:
Comments on blogs in general
Comments on this blog

Another thing that I would urge you is to avoid posting comments that are simply "anonymous". You have the option to post a comment with your blogger name if you have one, or anonymously or - and this is the important one - "OTHER".

Please use "other" in preference to anonymous. You can remain anonymous by calling yourself Mr M. Mouse, Mr D. Duck, the Reverend Pantaloon Trouserpress or whatever. But by doing so, you will enable other commenters to refer to your comment without trying to pick their way through half a dozen anonymice. I don't want to prohibit anonymous comments because some people need to post anonymously (e.g. seminarians, Bishops etc.) and for young people it may be prudent to post anonymously. To help you out, here is a graphic of the comments box: the arrow points to the relevant radio button option.

(Click to enlarge)

May I also offer a gentle reminder about the helpful way to post links by the use of a little simple html: Putting links in the combox

Population Research Institute

Human Life International have set up the Population Research Institute which offers a very useful collection of articles.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

The Lord is my portion

Dominus pars haereditatis meae et calicis mei; tu es qui restitues haereditatem meam mihi.
The Lord is the portion of my inheritance, and of my cup; Thou shalt restore my inheritance to me

This was the verse that the new cleric used to repeat after the Bishop while his hair was being ceremonially snipped. In the Directorium Sacerdotale, Valuy suggests that the priest should kiss his cassock each morning before he puts it on, and recite that verse. Well it would be a good reminder for the cleric to value and cherish the ecclesiastical state.

I sometimes wish that I had been able to receive the minor orders. (They were substituted with "lay ministries" by Pope Paul VI in Ministeria Quaedam but are rarely given to lay people.) Nevertheless, the idea of the Lord being the cleric's portion is a good one to ponder from time to time.

Nowadays, the passing of the years have given me a natural tonsure which is shown particularly when I have a part in those photos of the Classical Rite of Mass that are such a staple of the Catholic blogosphere.

See this link for a Brief history of the cassock and tonsure

Is the Faith Movement modernist because it does not hold the 24 theses?

There has been quite a debate going on over recent weeks about the Faith Movement and I need from time to time to address some of these questions. This post is a little longer than usual and there are no jokes in it. Feel free to pass over it by all means, but do bear it in mind if anyone says to you that Faith priests are all modernists because they do not adhere to the 24 theses.

The Ex Laodicea blog has a post The 'Faith Movement', filed with the tag "modernism" which raises a number of matters, some of which I will address in due course as time permits. For those interested, the pamphlets "Philosophical Perspectives" deal with some of the questions raised. Here, I will deal with just one of them, namely the character of the 24 theses set out in the Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Studies in 1914 (DS 3601-3624).

Aelianus says that the 24 theses were
[...] enforced by the Code of Canon Law in 1917. This provision and its centrality was reasserted by Pius XII in his 1950 Encyclical Humani Generis §16-18 in a passage cited by Vatican II’s Decree Optatam Totius §15 when it prescribes the Perennial Philosophy for the training of Priests.
later he says:
The Twenty Four Theses define the indispensable minimum core of this Perennial Philosophy without which only the verbal form of the Church’s doctrine remains with the content removed. Stat crux dum volvitur orbis...
Therefore the Faith Movement's central ideas are incompatible with Catholic teaching.

The philosophia perennis is essential. The 24 theses are not imposed as of obligation.

My references are taken principally from the very helpful introduction to the Decree in Denzinger-Schonmetzer itself.

The philosophia perennis is indeed taught by the Church as the essential basis of Catholic theology. However, various protestations were made and dubia sent in to the Congregation by those who considered that the Decree might infringe the legitimate liberty of teachers in schools that were less "Thomist", to hold other opinions. Therefore in 1916, the same Sacred Congregation of Studies said that the 24 theses expressed the genuine doctrine of St Thomas and that they were safe directive norms. This indicated that the Congregation did not intend to impose them as of absolute obligation upon the various schools.

In 1917, Pope Benedict XV wrote to the General of the Jesuits, Fr Vladimir Ledochowski saying that he had judged rightly in saying that there was no obligation imposed of holding all of the theses, and that if the Jesuits were to dispute various customarily disputed questions they should not fear that by doind so they were giving less than proper obsequium to the Roman Pontiff.

(The introduction in Denzinger-Schonmetzer continues with a number of other references to allocutions from Pius XI and Pius XII which I will look up in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis when I next have access to it.)

As for Humani Generis, the paragraphs cited refer to tentatives named by Pius XII as "the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system" (n.15) and he refers to those who have contempt for terms and notions habitually used by scholastic theologians. He does not say that the 24 theses are of obligation.

Aelianus also draws up Optatam Totius n.15 in support. Therefore I will quote it:
The philosophical disciplines are to be taught in such a way that the students are first of all led to acquire a solid and coherent knowledge of man, the world, and of God, relying on a philosophical patrimony which is perennially valid and taking into account the philosophical investigations of later ages. This is especially true of those investigations which exercise a greater influence in their own nations. Account should also be taken of the more recent progress of the sciences.
So: no 24 theses and in fact an encouragement to take account of the recent progress of the sciences. Which is what the Faith Movement attempts to do in complete fidelity to the Church's magisterium.

It is important that the philosophia perennis is given its proper place in the Church and the Faith Movement does not dispute this at all. The discussions about materia prima, substance and accident, intellectus agens, co-relative substance etc. are a part of this respectful approach to the philosophia perennis.

For those who have Latin and would like to look up the references, I will quote the introduction from Denzinger for the record. I will put it in small print for the sake of my regular readers' scrolling speed. If you are interested, you can enlarge the font size in your browser or cut and paste the text to read it more comfortably in a Word Processor or something:

3601-3624: Decr. S. Cgr. Studiorum, 27 Iul.1914

Pius X in Motu Proprio “Doctoris Angelici”, 29. Iun. 1914, scholis philosophicis Italiae praeceperat, ut, “principia et maiora Thomae Aquinatis pronuntiata sancte teneantur”. Inde quidam Thomistae ansam arripuerunt, ut ex disciplina metaphysica 24 theses ab iisdem propugnatas S. Studiorum Congregationi “examinandas” proponerent. Aliis videri potuit, ut hae theses, vi approbationis et promulgationis, obtruderentur scholis minus Thomisticis contra earum convictionem, et libertatem tuendi alias sententias auferrent. Cum ob eam rem protestations et dubia commoverentur, eadem Congregatio 7. Mart. 1916 declaravit: “Omnes illae 24 theses philosophicae germanam S. Thomae doctrinam exprimunt, eaque proponantur veluti tutae normae directivae” (AAS 8 [1916] 157). Non ergo absolutam obligationem imponunt, sicut neque exigitur ad “adhaerendum Sancto Thomae”, ut quis systema doctrinale S. Thomae qua totum adoptet.. Quo latiore sensu hae normae directivae intelligendae sint, elucet maxime ex Ep. Benedicti XV “Quod de fovenda” 19. Mart. 1917 ad Generalem S. I. Wlodimirum Ledochowski, data (Acta Romana S. I. 9 [1917] 318s / ZKTh 42 [1918] 206s):

“Neque minus iucunde animadvertimus aequa te lance rationum momenta perpendisse, quibus quemadmodum oporteat a S. Thomae doctrinis esse, hinc inde disceptando contenditur. Quo quidem in iudicio recte Nos te sensisse arbitramur, quum eos putasti Angelico Doctori satis adhaerere, qui universas de Thomae doctrina theses perinde proponendas censeant, ac tutas ad dirigendum normas, nullo scilicet omnium amplectendarum thesium imposito officio. Eiusmodi spectantes regulam, possunt Societatis alumni iure timorem deponere, ne eo quo par est obsequio iussa non prosequantur Rom. Pontificum, quorum ea constans sententia fuit, ducem ac magistrum in theologiae et philosophiae studiis S. Thomam haberi opus esse, integro tamen cuique de iis in utramque partem disputare, de quibus possit soleatque disputari”.

Conferre iuvat, quae in eandem sententiam protulerunt Pius XI: *3666; Pius XII: Alloc. Ad alumnos 24. Iun. 1939 (AAS 31 [1939] 246; Alloc. ad sodales O. Pr. 22 Sept. 1946 (AAS 38 [1946] 387) et maxime Alloc ad membra Univ Gregorianae occasione iubilaei quarti saeculi expleti, 17. Oct. 1953 (AAS 45 [1953] 684-686).

[Feel free to point out any transcription errors.]

Let him who despises admonition fear prayer

In his conference "The priest must be a man of prayer", St Joseph Cafasso admonishes the clergy on their duty not only to pray constantly but also to be masters of prayer. He then considers the efficacy of the prayer of one who prays constantly and perseveringly, citing the example of Moses. Following that, he quotes St Bernard who told Pope Eugenius III (a fellow Cistercian) that in the face of the "monsters of iniquity" with whom he had to deal, he should be "more than a man" in using the power of prayer. He quotes a pithy phrase of the saint, "Timeat orationem qui admonitionem contempsit." (Let him who despises admonition fear prayer.)

Cafasso then gives this striking example of what he means:
A certain person could not make up his mind to break off a sinful relation. The confessor after trying all means finally decided to have recourse to prayer. He said to the penitent: “If you do not consent to promise me to amend, at least permit me to pray for you; do you agree?” “Oh! yes, I will be even grateful to you.” “But remember that I will pray with all earnestness, and when a confessor sets himself to pray, it is a serious matter because God will not say no to him.” “All the better,” replied the penitent, “for if so I am sure you will be heard.” “Very well,” replied the confessor, “be prepared therefore for anything that God may dispose.” “And what do you mean by that , “ asked the penitent immediately, a little alarmed. “Up to this I might as well be speaking to the wind as to you, you would not listen to me or give up your life of sin, now I am going to have recourse to God and he will finish you.” “Finish me in what way,” asked the penitent. “It is easy to know,” said the confessor, “what God will do. Since you are determined not to give up that sin but continue committing it if you life, the Lord will take you, and then it will be finished.” “Oh!” replied the penitent, “if that is so, for heaven’s sake do not pray.” “There is no middle course,” concluded the confessor; “either amend your life or I pray; I do not need to have your permission.”

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Mary in battle

Quae est ista quae ascendit sicut aurora consurgens, pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata

Who is this who ascends like the rising dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army drawn up in battle array. Song of songs 6.9

Saydon's commentary in the (old) Catholic Commentary says "The verse is a familiar antiphon in the office of Our Lady's Assumption." Not so familiar for a while now: the verse is not included in the Liturgia Horarum texts for the feast. In the Roman Breviary, the above text was the Benedictus antiphon. In addition, the shorter text:
Pulchra es et decora, filia Ierusalem, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata
was the antiphon for the fifth psalm at Lauds and Vespers - and therefore also the antiphon for None.

It is interesting that the breviary text of the Benedictus antiphon differs slightly from the Clementine vulgate which has
Quae est ista quae progreditur quasi aurora consurgens pulchra ut luna electa ut sol terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata
Such differences often mean that an version of the scriptural text has been preserved through the tradition of the sung office. (Grateful if any experts can shed light on this.)

The verse was the inspiration for much of the imagery of the Legion of Mary, founded by Frank Duff. This highly successful lay apostolate spread throughout the world with the ideal of fighting the spiritual battle through prayer and active witness to the faith.

Similar gung-ho mariology is shown in the antiphon for the 7th psalm of matins:
Gaude, Maria Virgo; cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo.

Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; alone you have wiped out all the heresies in the whole world.
The perfect tense here should be understood as one of continuing action :-)

Another interesting text also absent from the modern office is the responsory for the second reading of the first nocturn, drawn from Ecclesiasticus 24.17 and 24.20:
R. Sicut cedrus exaltata sum in Libano, et sicut cypressus in monte Sion: quasi myrrha electa,* Dedi suavitatem odoris. V. Et sicut cinnamomum et balsamum aromatizans (Dedi.)

The "sicut cinnamomum" struck me particularly when I first heard it sung at Parkminster. Must check with Auntie Joanna whether there are any Catholic traditions that link the use of cinnamon with Our Lady.

Like the cedar, I have been exalted in Lebanon and like the cypress in Mount Sion: as chosen myrrh, I have given sweetness of odour. And like the cinnamon and balsam giving fragrance.
I reflected today on the Assumption as the glorification of Mary. After her largely hidden life on earth, she was taken up to heaven where she is the Mediatrix of all graces, a powerful intercessor and advocate who brings sweetness to our lives and terrifies the powers of evil.

Alcuin Reid on Vatican Radio

Dr Alcuin Reid, author of "The Organic Development of the Liturgy" was interviewed on Vatican Radio the other day. See the page "Old Rites, New Needs". The subtitle of the item is "With the Latin Mass Society in the UK reporting new interest in the celebration of the Tridentine rite, many priests are wondering where to turn for help..."

Alcuin Reid and John Medlin are interviewed extensively in the fifteen minute piece which gives both of them an opportunity to make a number of important points and clear up misunderstandings.

A positive feature about the Latin Mass Society on Vatican Radio is another of those things that would have been unthinkable only a short while ago.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

St Maximilian's Act of Consecration

Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe's Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary
O Immaculate, Queen of heaven and earth, Refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, to whom God willed to entrust the entire order of mercy, I an unworthy sinner cast myself at your feet, humbly begging you to be so good as to accept me wholly and completely as your possession and property, and to do with me, with my whole life, death and eternity, whatever pleases you. If it pleases you, use my whole self without reserve to accomplish what has been said of you: "She will crush your head," (Gen. 3:15), and also: "You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world" so that I may become a useful instrument in your immaculate and most merciful hands for promoting and increasing your glory to the maximum in so many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus extend as much as possible the blessed Kingdom of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter, you obtain the grace of conversion and sanctification, since it is through your hands that all graces comes to us from the Most Sweet Heart of Jesus. Allow me to praise you, O most holy Virgin. Give me strength against your enemies.

H/T Vultus Christi

Anti-masonic army leader's heroic sacrifice

The Militia Immaculatae was founded by St Maximilian Kolbe after he witnessed demonstrations in Rome against Popes St Pius X and Benedict XV. St Maximilian's saw the Militia Immaculatae as a
"global vision of Catholic life in a new form, consisting of the link with Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, universal mediatrix with Jesus."
He stressed consecration to Mary as a "transformation into her" with the external manifestation particularly of catechesis and mission.

St Maximilian founded a monastery in Japan on the outskirts of Nagasaki. Fortunately, he ignored the Feng Shui experts and built his monastery on the opposite side of the mountain from that advised. Consequently, it survived the atomic bomb.

After his arrest in 1941, he was sent to the Pawiak prison. An SS guard asked him if he believed in Christ. Kolbe replied "I do" and the guard struck him. He asked him many times and, receiving the same answer, continued to beat him. After his transfer to Auschwitz, he was assigned, with other priests, the labour of cutting down trees and carrying heavy planks at a run. On one occasion, he was loaded with planks, ordered to run and, when he fell, was kicked in the stomach and face and then given 50 lashes. His consolation under these beatings was to say "Mary gives me strength. All will be well." He used to stand aside from the food queue so that others could get their ration, sometimes leaving none for him. The food he had, he shared.

As is well-known, he volunteered to take the place of Franciszek Gajowniczek, who had been picked out for execution and cried out that he had a family. St Maximilian is reported to have said
"I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children."
He was put in a cell with 9 others, to be killed slowly by dehydration and starvation, all the time leading his fellow prisoners in praying the rosary and singing hymns. After two weeks six of the others had died. St Maximilian was still to be found kneeling or standing, smiling cheerfully at the SS men who came to check. He and three of his fellow-prisoners were finished off by their tormentors with an injection of carbolic acid. His heroism gave new heart to others. A survivor, Jerzy Bielecki said that Father Kolbe's death was
"a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength ... It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp."
Franciszek Gajowniczek returned to Auschwitz every year on this day to honour the memory of Fr Kolbe and was present at his beatification in 1971 and his canonisation in 1982.

As well as St Maximilian, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and St Titus Brandsma, there were many other Catholic heroes of the holocaust. Jewish people respect their sacrifice too, as well as the "righteous gentiles" such as Pope Pius XII who helped to save so many Jewish lives.

Monday, 13 August 2007

3 cheers for Travelodge

The Catholic News Agency reports that Travelodge Hotels have taken the decision to stop supplying pornographic TV channels in their hotel rooms. Here is the Press release from Travelodge. Their Chief Operating Officer, Guy Parsons said:
"We have an ever increasing number of families staying with us and it's appropriate that we remove adult TV. Our other customers tell us that they would prefer to use a hotel without adult content available so we have responded to meet their needs."
This is very good news. My suggestion to any hotel chain announcing similar moves would be to drop the term "Adult" for this stuff; there is nothing "adult" about it. Just call it "pornography" or "sexually explicit" if you want to be coy. The decision not only makes the hotels more "family friendly" but also helps cut down the exploitation and abuse of women by pornography and the degradation of men with consequent damage to their relationships.

I have written in thanks to the Press Office contact and encourage you to express your appreciation to Travelodge. I will also be seeking to use Travelodge in preference to other hotel chains when I am travelling. Their prices are very reasonable and when I have used them in the past, I have found their rooms well-equipped and comfortable. For a family, they represent even better value. They do family rooms and cots at most hotels.

We need to support this kind of initiative so I do encourage you to think about using them and leaving a comment card saying why you have chosen their chain.

Chinese Via Crucis

Via Crucis: a short video dramatisation by Eric Forrest of the persecuted Church in China.

H/T Athanasius Contra Mundum

HTE Bill briefing

The Human Tissue and Embryos Bill is due to be introduced into Parliament in November. The Bill is a matter of serious concern for all who promote the sanctity of human life. It would provide greater scope for embryos to be produced for research, allow more embryos to be destroyed in the process of IVF, and legalise the creation of cybrids, hybrids and chimeras. The Bill will even allow sperm or eggs to be extracted from children or the unconscious in some circumstances without their consent.

The progress of the Bill will also provide an opportunity for amendments to be tabled to change the existing law on abortion. Although the current availability of abortion is very bad, changes could be made to the law which would make things much worse. The current overwhelming pro-abortion majority in Parliament means that amendments would be brought in to increase the overall availability of abortion.

SPUC has started a campaign focussing on this bill. They also have a very useful briefing paper (pdf - 238Kb). This gives a helpful summary of the what the Bill would introduce and why we should be concerned about it. The Briefing also gives straightforward and helpful answers some commonly asked questions about the possible reform of the law regarding abortion and explains why attempts to lower the “time limit” for abortion can backfire.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

St Joseph Cafasso

I only found out about Saint Joseph Cafasso the other day. He was a neighbour of St John Bosco and later became his advisor. He received a dispensation to be ordained priest at the age of 22, became a highly regarded Professor and Pastor, combining sound teaching with tireless works of mercy among the poor, those in prison and especially those condemned to death.

An eight day retreat that he gave for priests comprised 16 conferences. These are collected in the book "The Priest, the Man of God: his dignity and duties". Having read two of these, I am eager to read the remainder.

In the first conference, he speaks of the nature and office of the priesthood. The idea of the "dignity" of the priesthood is sometimes found confusing today but St Joseph Cafasso analyses the matter sensibly, with practical advice for the priest. He looks at the nature of the priest, the person of the priest and the habits of the priest.

In his nature, the priest is as other men - he is a man, afflicted by original sin, with human needs and weaknesses. The world draws the conclusion that the priest need not be listened to any more than anyone else. The tepid priest draws the conclusion that since he has not ceased to be a man, he is entitled to carry on just as any other man of the world. The good priest draws the conclusion that he must be on his guard, restrain his senses, moderate his appetites, shun dangerous company and use prayer and penance as his weapons for the fight.

In his person, the priest has been raised to a sublime dignity. He should first of all know this in order to avoid degrading the dignity of the priesthood. Then he must uphold this dignity by a virtuous life which is all that matters to him: honours and titles count for nothing.

In his habits, the priest is called to be different from others: this is his calling and he should strive to live up to it. He should abstain from evil and practise virtue more than others - the Fathers of the Church are copiously cited in support of this thesis. If he fails in this, he will become a source of confusion for himself and scandal for the laity.

These are very good counsels for priests and the distinctions he makes are most helpful. The priest is the same as other men, yes - he has his fallen human nature. He is different from other men - he has the character of holy orders. Therefore he ought to live a better, more holy life. He has a duty to do this and people have a right to expect it. It struck me that the words of St Joseph Cafasso are very much in accord with the thesis of the book that I mentioned in May: After Asceticism.

Women, Cardinals, supporting the family

(As in "Eats Shoots and Leaves", the punctuation of the title is important.) Three books arrived the other day from Family Publications.

"Built on Love" is the joint autobiography of Valerie and Denis Riches, the Founders of Family and Youth Concern. I have known Valerie and Denis for many years. They both exemplify courtesy and good manners and it is extraordinary to think of the vitriol that these two kind people have suffered over the years. They both became Catholics in 1982 and continued their work with the support of their Catholic faith.

Sr Sara Butler wrote her book "The Catholic Priesthood and Women" largely at the request of seminarians. It will certainly find its way onto the bibliography for my course in Sacramental Theology. At 112 pages, it is a brief and well-structured summary of the Church's teaching, objections to that teaching, and the fundamental reasons for the teaching. Another excellent title from Hillenbrand Books.

Fr Nicholas Schofield (Roman Miscellany) and Fr Gerard Skinner have come up with a great idea in "The English Cardinals". This consists of short biographical sketches of all the English Cardinals from Robert Pullen (d.1146) to Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. In addition to the fine collection of colour plates, there are plenty of black and white illustrations within the text.

Criteria for inclusion are discussed in the introduction. Foreigners appointed to English sees are included but not if they were given non-episcopal benefices as a means of providing revenue. The elevation of some reputed "cardinals" is historically dubious elevations and they have been excluded, but those raised to the purple by the anti-pope "John XXIII" are given "the ecclesiological benefit of the doubt."

This book is a good example of the principle that Fr Orbe taught us in the Patristics seminar in Rome - a minore ad maius (from the lesser to the greater.) By focussing on a particular area of study: in this case English Cardinals, it is possible to learn a lot about a much wider field: in this case political and ecclesiastical history.

This book and "Built on Love" are both published by Family Publications itself. They are beautifully produced books, properly sewn and cased. Although this has meant that "The English Cardinals" sells for just short of £20, it is a fine addition to the shelves and justifiable as a source of reference.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

St Philomena feast day

Happy feast day to all fellow-devotees of St Philomena. The Saturday morning Mass at Blackfen is according to the usus antiquior so we had the Saturday Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary with commemoration of Sts Tiburtius and Susanna. To make up the odd number of collects, I added a commemoration of St Philomena. In honour of her feast day, here is a Novena prayer that you might like to use:
O faithful virgin and glorious martyr, St Philomena, who works so many miracles on behalf of the poor and sorrowful, have pity on me, Thou knowest the multitude and diversity of my needs, Behold me at thy feet, full of misery, but full of hope. I entreat thy charity O great Saint. Graciously hear me and obtain from God a favourable answer to the request which I now humbly lay before you (here specify your petition.) I am firmly convinced that through thy merits, through the scorn, the sufferings and the death thou didst endure, united to the merits of the Passion and Death of Jesus thy Spouse, I shall obtain what I ask of thee and in the joy of my heart I will bless God, who is admirable in His saints. Amen.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Difficult journey to Mass

After my parish Mass this morning, I set off on what the AA estimate as a journey of one hour and twenty minutes. I actually queued for an hour just getting through Tunbridge Wells and the whole trip took about two and a half hours. Later I realised that the reason for the delay was traffic diverted off the M25 which was closed for most of the day. I assumed that someone had been killed as this is what usually gets the motorway actually closed. Thank God, there was just one person seriously injured - say a prayer for their recovery. The pile-up between junctions 6 and 7 on the clockwise carriageway involved two lorries, a car and a van - and 30 tons of plasterboard strewn across the road.

On the journey, I enjoyed the remainder of a sermon on judgement and one on hell from the FSSP sermon series. I also got in the Stations of the Cross courtesy of Keep the Faith.

The people waiting for Mass were very patient. As it was the extraordinary form, I said Mass without preaching and promised a sermon after lunch. It was great to see Fr Thwaites who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. He wants to start a blog but has not yet thought of a name for it. Any suggestions?

Lourdes facilitates extraordinary form

Some very good news today from Shawn Tribe over at NLM. The Shrine authorities at Lourdes will arrange for Masses in the usus antiquior to be celebrated in the sanctuaries at Lourdes each day during the French Pilgrimage.
“In full agreement with Msgr. Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes and with Msgr. Zambelli, rector, masses according to the “extraordinary form” of the Roman Missal, the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, will be celebrated each day in the sanctuaries of Lourdes by chaplains and priests of Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter..." (From a statement by Fr. Pozzetto)
See NLM: Classical Use to have prominent place at August 15th French "National Pilgrimage" in Lourdes

I have said before that I have been impressed with the Shrine Authorities at Lourdes and the leadership of Bishop Perrier. Not the least of his improvements have been the increased reverence at the Blessed Sacrament Procession and the organisation of places for quiet adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for every time of the day.

In Lourdes, a priest on his own or with a small group can celebrate a private Mass at any time of the day in the altars off the Crypt Chapel (just go to the sacristy and ask.) I have often celebrated the Classical Rite there. I have always had my rescript from Ecclesia Dei in case but they have not troubled me for it.

This year, I heard that the side chapels in the basilica of the Immaculate Conception were being used for Mass. On our Pilgrimage next year, if possible, I would love to celebrate Mass at one of the fifteen side altars in the Rosary Basilica. For example:

Apology - comments lost

There was a sackload of comments today. On the last lot (on the Caritas Social Action book), after reading them all, I selected all and pressed ... reject. Sorry about that - just a slip of the mouse. Feel free to repost them if you are not too annoyed with me!

Incidentally, regarding "course of action", first of all I intend to read the book carefully (should come from Amazon within a day or two). Then I'll do a review here. Any of you who have the stamina for this might do the same. This is a case of "unleash the power of the blog."

And yes, send letters to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Lots of them.

Trying to stem gossip

Gossip is such a nuisance. You can end up having to say really stupid things. Out in Iraq, Major Mike Shearer has recently had to make this announcement:
"We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."
British blamed for Basra badgers

Just for fun - Dream Snooker

H/T Mark Shea

Defending real atheism

Fr Benedict Groeschel was speaking the other day to the National Courage Conference in Chicago. One funny quote in reference to some of the recent atheist books:
"I am deeply insulted that atheism can be so badly represented. I am tempted to write a book defending atheism in response."
H/T Cafeteria is Closed:Courage Conference

Modesty - how shall we put this?

Making announcements about modesty in dress can be a challenge for the average parish priest. A little humour could help here. Thanks to The Deacon's Bench:Bulletin announcements I'd like to see, we have just that. My favourite:
BRITNEY SPEARS CONCERT CANCELLED! Unfortunately, our efforts to get pop sensation Britney Spears to perform a benefit fundraiser for the parish have proven unsuccessful. Her calendar is full. Therefore, those who have been arriving at Mass every Sunday dressed for a Britney Spears concert should know that they don't have to do that anymore. Modest church-going attire will do nicely. We will notify you if the situation changes.
H/T Fr Z.

Brother Francis Waddelove RIP

I met Brother Francis Waddelove many years ago when visiting the home of Claire Waddelove who was professed as a nun at St Cecilia's, Ryde in the same year that I was ordained. Brother Francis' sister, Mary, lives in my parish. The death of his sister Agnes was the occasion of my first celebration of the Classical Roman Rite of Mass. Brother Francis was a Jesuit brother of the old school and his life shows how traditional Catholicism went hand-in-hand with genuine work for social justice.
This obituary of Brother Francis Waddelove is from the Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe Newsletter for August 2007.

Brother Francis Waddelove on 8th June, 2007, had a fall outside the dining room in Richartz House and fractured the top of his femur. A week in St Anne's brought the decision there should be no operation: his age and a kidney problem suggested rather not an operation, but six weeks in bed in traction in Richartz House. In the end, just too much for him, and at the age of 92, 74 years of them as a Jesuit, 70 years in this country, he left us to see his good God whom he had served for so much of his life.

Bro Francis Waddelove was born on 6th April, 1915, at Leigh in Lancashire. He was educated at the Brothers' School in Bolton. He joined the Society at Roehampton, London, on 7th April, 1933, and shortly after First Vows he came out to this country.

In 1938 Waddy (as he was always known) was at Monte Cassino; 1939 to 1943 at Chishawasha; 1944 to 1948 at Driefontein; 1949-1951 at Monte Cassino; 1952 to

1957 at St Michael's, Mhondoro; 1958 to 1969 at Chishawasha; 1970 to 1995 at Campion House; finally retirement first at Canisius House till 2001 when he moved to Richartz House.

In the first years Waddy was involved in a great deal of building work and in his time at St Michael's, Mhondoro, he built the church which is presently used. But he would be involved in the agricultural work, too, of the missions, and he was moved to Chishawasha for the second time to see if he could get the farm going properly.

It was while he was at Chishawasha on this second stint, with the encouragement and backing of the Regional Superior, that he inaugurated the Credit Union movement, beginning with Chishawasha Outschools. Waddy was very much helped by able laymen like Pat Arnold, the Jackson family and others who gave him every support. The strictly run Credit Unions were changed into Savings Clubs when it was found that at that time it was too much to expect members to understand and accept responsibility for lending each other money from the branch "homwe".

However, even at the Savings Club level Waddy was able to help people by gathering groups to buy, say, building materials for housing in a new township near the Hunyani river, Seke, at a very reduced price because they bought in bulk. He set up clubs all over the country - it grew into a national project. In his latter active years it was to the Savings Clubs that he gave his full time and effort. Two Jesuit General Superiors, Fr Jansens and later Fr Arrupe, wrote warmly commending the work.

In its time expansion brought problems and Waddy wanted it to remain small until it was well proven. By 1972 there were 210 Savings Clubs and Credit Unions with 7200 members, by 1998 7 000 Clubs - 100 000 members. He moved his operations to Seke and soon Savings Clubs started in neighbouring Mhondoro and then in Makumbi, Chikwaka, Mutoko, Rusape and farther afield in Matebeleland. And the clubs soon spread to the Salvation Army in the Mazowe area and to the Methodists.

Over the years his work caught the attention of the Adenauer Foundation who nominated him for the Adenauer Prize. He did not win the prize but the Foundation set up for him in Hatfield a Credit Union Centre which still exists today. Until very recently Waddy went regularly to help with the finances, to oversee the production of stamp cards and other stationary needed for running the Union. Even towards the end he would be picked up at Richartz to have a morning at the Centre.

To see Waddy engaged with simple people, old ambuyas even, who could not read or write, teaching them how to read and keep the simple accounts the savings club needed was a revelation - humour and patience and relationships which lasted for years. Waddy was one of the best speakers of Shona among the European element of the Province: one of the editor's earliest recollections was of Waddy when he was at St Michael's Mhondoro - Waddy was coming out of the dining-room after supper and he remarked that he would be spending an hour with Fortune's Grammar, and he didn't mean the red shorter volume but the larger volume, and this after a full day on building the new church.

Waddy also had a deeply spiritual side: a man of prayer, loving the rosary and Holy Mass. He had decided views on his faith which could not fail to impress because of his simple sincerity. His gruff manner and his dissatisfaction with too many liberal views could mislead you.

What people did not realize was how kind and generous he was. How often Tony Bex and Tom Jackson remember him taking them round town to do shopping more easily as he knew where to go and how to park easily; they would leave their cars at Campion House at some other suitable place. When you were ill how caring he could be, not only in visiting but in obtaining for you what a long stay in hospital required. There was the occasion when, not finding Fr Des Dale in the dining room, the editor/author sped up to Des' room to find him splayed out on his bed. Down fast to the dining room to get help from Waddy. Waddy leaves his lunch and comes up to Des' room, perhaps cursing and swearing a bit. Open the door and it is "Hello father, how are you? Let's see what we can do for you". And everything was all right then.

He was of help, too, to the Braille Institute in Fife Avenue, donated by Sr Catherine Jackson OP, and to there and the Savings Club Centre he went until his health broke down. He was a loyal friend and a caring one. (Tony Bex/Gerry McCabe)

Bro Waddelove's funeral Mass took place at the Cathedral on the morning of Wednesday 11th July, 2007. Fr Provincial was chief celebrant and he was assisted by Bishop Dieter Scholz and Fr Paul Edwards. There were about 30 concelebrants:

Gerry McCabe gave the homily. Considering his age and that Bro Waddy would not have been too well known, there was quite a sizeable congregation, and with Peter Joyce at the organ, it was felt to be a fitting tribute to Bro Waddy. The burial took place later at Chishawasha Mission and was conducted by Fr Provincial.

There have been the following messages - "I received the news of Bro Waddelove's death and I want to send you my sincere condolences. I have known him for a long time, going back to the time when he and Cedric Myerscough were stationed at Chishawasha. They were good friends and often visited us at the Convent. "Waddy did much for the local people through the establishment of Credit Unions and he was appreciated by many people. I always enjoyed his sense of humour and will always remember his deep faith and commitment to serve the local Church. May he now enjoy the fullness of life and be our intercessor in heaven." (Sr Reingard Berger, Mother General OP.)

"I am very sorry to hear about Brother Waddelove's death. I first met him at Campion House in 1993 as a novice. Chiedza and I stayed at Campion House and used to go to Baines Avenue for our experiment. I actually met Brother last day of our stay at Campion House because we had our breakfast very early in the morning. Two things about him though: he would not speak to a novice directly, and he knew his Shona very well." (Stephen Silungwe)

"Thank you for the notification of Bro Waddelove. He surely gave his life and energies to the work of the Province and his passing is a time of sadness for us all." (Peter Edmonds) May he rest in peace.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Caritas Social Action attacks Pope

There is a disturbing piece today on Damien Thompson's blog - Holy Smoke:Bishops support book attacking the Pope. He reports on a book published by Caritas Social Action called Catholic Social Justice: Theological and Practical Explorations.

Thompson says that the book (which has a foreword by Bishop Budd) "systematically rubbishes Benedict’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est". The book includes an essay by Fr Tissa Balasuriya whose work "Mary and Human Liberation" was the subject of a notification by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Apparently, Fr Balasuriya believes that Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict have lived “in a world dominated by white racism” and were therefore unable to understand the developing world. Thompson also rightly draws attention to the disgraceful inverted commas in Balasuriya's description of the 9/11 massacre as a "terrorist" attack.

Caritas-Social Action describes itself as
[...] the umbrella organisation for Catholic social care organisations working within England and Wales. We are an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and part of Caritas International.
Caritas Social Action is the "home" partner of CAFOD which is the agency of the Bishops' conference that is concerned with overseas work. CAFOD and Caritas Social Action are two of the 162 Catholic agencies that enjoys the support of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

More than strange then, that the book's approach to Deus Caritas Est is so much at variance with that of Cor Unum which was largely responsible for the second half of Deus Caritas Est and organised a special press conference to present the encyclical.

As Damien Thompson points out, Caritas Social Action is funded by the lay Catholics of England and Wales who are invited each year to contribute to the "National Catholic Fund".
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