Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Contraception - a "faith killer"

Fr Anthony Doe was the guest speaker for the Conference of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life today at the London Oratory. He spoke about the Gospel of Life in relation to the spiritual life of the priest, encouraging us to find in contemplative prayer the love of the Father which brings fruitfulness to the celibate life.

One of Fr Doe's memorable phrases was to describe contraception as a "faith killer". Within a generation or two, the faith dies away in many families as a result of the use of contraception owing to the collective rejection of the proper ordering of love.

In the afternoon, Fr Marcus Holden gave a short spiritual conference followed by half an hour's adoration (with confessions) and benediction. Fr Holden spoke about the fear of God in relation to the spiritual life of the priest. His conference drew from the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, especially St Basil and St John Chrysostom, and the teaching of St Alphonsus Liguori.

As ever, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children were most helpful in their assistance at the conference. It was good to talk to John Smeaton afterwards about the current situation in the UK, especially with the ghastly Human Tissue and Embryology Bill coming before us.

Talk at Oxford

Last night, I was the guest at a joint meeting organised by the Oxford University Pro-Life Society and the Oxford Newman Society. There was first of all a magnificent dinner at the Chaplaincy, attended by 24 students and cooked by members of the Newman Society. The Library was full for the talk with about 40 students attending. I spoke about Humanae Vitae, 40 years on.

I pointed out that Humanae Vitae was addressed particularly to married couples whereas now most people arguing about contraception are referring to non-married relationships. I looked at the breakdown of traditional Christian morality (as predicted by Pope Paul VI) and the response that we could make by upholding the teaching of Humanae Vitae and encouraging people to see that teaching as offering a nobler way of life.

It was really very encouraging to meet these students and I came away with great hope for the future. The chaplains kindly arranged for me to stay at Campion Hall, the Jesuit house in Oxford. This morning, in response to requests from the students, I celebrated Mass in the old rite. The Fathers were most helpful in providing everything for the Mass which I celebrated in the St Joseph's Chapel. Jospeh Shaw took a couple of pictures of the Mass - here is one:

After Mass and a quick cup of coffee at the Queens Lane Coffee House, I took the Oxford Tube back to London for the conference of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life

More great line art

Mike of in illo tempore has posted a link to his gallery of line art which is another excellent resource

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

APGL Conference reminder

Just a reminder for clergy of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life will be holding a Conference tomorrow, Wednesday 31 October at the London Oratory (St Wilfrid's Hall).

Our principal speaker is Fr Anthony Doe whose addresses have been very popular at various study days for priests. A buffet lunch is provided and the afternoon is given over to a spiritual talk, the Rosary, opportunity for confession, and Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction in the Little Oratory.

Registration is from 11.15am. The Conference will finish by 4pm.

The Conference is open to all priests and deacons (whether members of APGL or not). It is fine to leave a comment here if you wish to come. It is also OK just to turn up - you will be very welcome.

Catholic B/W image collection

At NLM: Images for Liturgical use Jeffrey Tucker has posted a link to a flickr collection of "images for use in liturgy programs".

Most of the images are black and white which makes them useful for newsletters and booklets run off in the parish. If, like me, you have been stuck with some not very good sets on CDs and the occasional search on google images, these are a Godsend. I recognise several from old missals and breviaries which were so beautifully illustated. There are some that I had a mind to scan for myself so it is a great help to have them collected.

St Peter's Mass - correction

On Saturday, I passed on a rumour from the Crimson Forum about Another old rite Mass in St Peter's. I don't think that the fellow had his facts right (it was a rather confused message.) I'll let you know if I hear anything more.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Is your alb back to front?

Fr Z has initiated a roaring discussion by asking the simple question whether maniples can be used in the Novus Ordo Mass. (What Does The Prayer Really Say?: Maniples)

One commenter has referred to an important source for the question that has proved popular among modern liturgists. An answer in Notitiae of 1978 said:
"When the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing or say little on particulars in some places, it is not to be inferred that the former rite should be observed. Therefore, the multiple and complex gestures for incensation as prescribed in the former Missal are not to be resumed."
This is, of course, a strange answer. Saying that it must not be inferred that a rite should be used does not imply that it must not be used. We need to check the Latin of this text. (If anyone with access to a library can check it, I have seen the reference given elsewhere as Notitiae 14 (1978) 301-302, no. 2)

Let us in any case take the more restrictive interpretation, beloved of so many liturgists and applied across the board: namely that if something is specified in the older rite and not specified in the new rite, then it must not be done. Maniples, Birettas, crossing yourself with the host and chalice when receiving Holy Communion - they all come under this provision.

But we must be consistent. The Ritus Servandus of the 1962 missal specifies the following:
Tum Alba induitur, caput submittens, deinde manicam dexteram brachio dextero, et sinistram sinistro imponens.

[Translation] Then he puts on the alb, lowering his head, then putting the right sleeve on his right arm and the left on his left.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n.336 in the latest edition) says one or two things about the alb but says nothing whatsoever about which sleeve you should put onto which arm. But we know that if something specified in the old rite is not specified in the new rite, it must not be done.

Therefore when celebrating Mass in the new rite, priests must put their alb on back to front. So don't let me see any of this old-fashioned, stick-in-the-mud, Lefebvrian, crypto-fascist "putting your alb on the right way round" rigidity!

Changing unjust laws justly

An important contribution to the debate about "time limit" measures was made by Colin Harte in his book "Changing Unjust Laws Justly. Pro-Life Solidarity with "the Last and Least." Rather than attempt to summarise the book myself, I refer you to the Publisher's notice (Catholic University of America) and to an excellent Review by Francis Phillips.

The closely argued book is not by any means light reading but it is lucidly written and makes a vital contribution to the current debate. One of the most important sections of the book is the author's analysis of Evangelium Vitae n.73 (and n.90).

Abortion law and practical politics

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Cardinal O'Brien recently published an Open Letter (pdf 99Kb) on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act. There is much to applaud in what they have written. One of the most important points is made in the first paragraph:
Even without a change in the law the abortion rate could fall dramatically if enough minds and hearts were changed.
We know this to be true from the example of Poland where the abortion rate fell dramatically after the fall of communist government without any change in the law. The lesson is vital for us in the UK.

The controversial statement in the letter is towards the end. The Cardinals list a number of ways to bring about change, the last of which is:
By pressing for achievable change in the law in the light of advances in medical developments, even if Parliament will not abolish the law. Whilst upholding the principle of the sacredness of human life, it is both licit and important for those in public life who oppose abortion on principle to work and vote for achievable incremental improvement to what is an unjust law.
Most people will understand this to refer to proposals for an amendment or bill lowering the "time limit" for abortion. Support for this approach is usually claimed from Evangelium Vitae n.73 where Pope John Paul wrote:
[...] when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.
The hope in many quarters is that the Human Tissue and Embryology Bill might be a golden opportunity for such a change to the law and that pro-life lobby should be united in pressing for such a change. The idea that EV n.73 can be used in support of "time limit" measures is the subject of considerable debate on the grounds that such measures are unjust discrimination and therefore do not "limit the harm" done by the abortion law. (Cf. Colin Harte's book)

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) have opposed this approach. Last week, the Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo, told the House of Commons Science and Technology select committee that the Abortion Act 1967 "doesn't require further amendment at the present time." SPUC expressed relief at this, saying:
Any amendments to the Abortion Act at this time are likely to result in an increase in the numbers of abortions. SPUC calls upon parliamentarians to resist calls, from whatever quarter, to table amendments to the Abortion Act and instead to focus upon the many practical ways of reducing the numbers of abortions, in particular by addressing the pressures upon expectant mothers which lead them to consider abortion.
A number of considerations convince me that this is sound.

First of all, let us remember that we are dealing with the Human Tissue and Embryology Bill. This is a Bill which will 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. Our first duty in response to this Bill is to oppose it vociferously and call upon MPs to vote against it.

Given the massive anti-life majority in the present Parliament, such calls are likely to fall on deaf ears. Nevertheless, it is important that our unequivocal opposition is clearly stated. The danger of attempting to amend such an appallingly anti-life Bill with pro-life amendments is obvious enough. It is not simply that such amendments are likely to fail but that the anti-life majority will use the opportunity to make the law even worse.

We can already see the lines along which pro-abortionists are marshalling their forces. David Steel has made it clear that he is opposed to lowering the present 24 week limit. Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) have voted for the removal of the requirement that two doctors should consent to an abortion and have said that women should be able to exercise "patient autonomy" and take the decision for themselves. At the same time, BMA members voted against lowering the "time limit". Not surprisingly, Abortion Rights have applauded the BMA statement. The BMA statement is entirely in line with the Marie Stopes Voice for Choice campaign. In a recent article (Plans to relax law on early abortion), The Times reports on active support for these campaigns among MPs.

The plan of the pro-abortionists is to relax the law on early abortions without any change to the 24 week "time limit". This is the most likely result if there is any opportunity for MPs to tamper with the current abortion law. We should not forget the outcome of the last attempt to "improve" the Abortion Law. It was hijacked with the result that the law was changed so that there is actually there is no "time limit" for babies with a disability. In the UK they can be aborted any time up to birth.

It is always difficult for Catholics to know what to do when faced with an unjust Government that is instrumental in the killing of millions of our fellow human beings. I can understand the desire of many pro-lifers in the face of the terrible onslaught against human life in our country today to "do something". At the same time, I fear greatly that a misguided attempt to do something by trying to amend the already appalling Human Tissue and Embryology Bill will inevitably result in easier abortion and more lives lost.

We should keep in our minds the words of the Cardinals:
Even without a change in the law the abortion rate could fall dramatically if enough minds and hearts were changed.
That must surely be our priority.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

The "Lefebvrite" Lexicon

A correspondent sent me the link to this very amusing post on the Angelqueen Forum.
As a result of all of the media attention being paid to the freeing of the traditional Mass, there has consequently been much attention paid to the traditional Catholic priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Journalists, bloggers and writers desiring to cover the topic have been forced to become quickly informed on a subject which many had previously known little or nothing about.

Due to their inherent lack of true knowledge, we've witnessed a wide range of unusual terms being used by these journalist to describe SSPX clergy and the congregants who attend their Masses. We've read about "Lefebvrites", "Lefebvrists" and even "Lefebvrians" - whatever those are.
The author then offers a "Lefebvricon" of approved terms. For example:

Lefebvriatrics - The field of traditional Catholic medicine.
Lefebvrionics - Traditional Catholic robot building.
Lefebvrafia - Traditional organized crime.

But you have to go down to the bottom of the post for the best bit - the products and services, including...

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Thérèse movie

The other day, my copy of Thérèse arrived from the good ol' US of A so it was time for me to take a drive down the Dover Road to that great temple of mammon, Bluewater, to get hold of a DVD player that could be hacked into being multi-region. Having checked that the cheapest one currently available had a hack available online, I was a little crestfallen to find that the shop had printed sheets with all the details. At any rate, I can now merrily play DVDs from the USA or anywhere else - which seems sensible after all.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film and will watch it again - probably with a few parishioners. However, I rather winced at one or two points; not from personal dislike but in anticipation of what I might read in the reviews; the Rotten Tomatoes page for Thérèse confirmed some of those fears.

UPDATE: I referred here to a NYT review. A commenter points out that it was a review of an earlier film. [wipes egg off face]

I would share the concern of some commentators that the movie might not give a very full picture of the Little Flower for someone who did not know much about her. I was amused by this comment from Chris Armstrong in his review of the film for Christianity Today:
As an evangelical Protestant, however, I felt as I watched this first full-length English-language film portrayal of the young lady of Lisieux that I had somehow wandered into a theater playing a foreign film without subtitles. Something was being communicated just below the surface here, I thought, in telegraphic symbols and catchphrases, but I was too dense to quite catch the deeper meaning. I felt uncomfortable, as if I sat with a sign around my neck reading "clueless Protestant."
That is a perceptive comment. At times the film operates almost as a slideshow of the saint's life and spiritual quest. Nevertheless, if you are familiar with the life of St Thérèse and have even a little devotion to her, you just can't allow it to pass by. (I got my copy via Amazon UK.)

Abortion: nonsense arguments continue 40 years on

A sad day for Britain, today marks the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act. There have been pro-life events around the country and the occasion has been an opportunity for some quite absurd propaganda from the pro-abortion lobby. One of the most crass is the leader in today's Guardian 40 Years On. They really don't like us at the Grauniad:
The tactics of this anti-abortion lobby - the cavalier distortion of research and the inflammatory use of neonatal images - obscure important truths and pervert the course of debate from more thoughtful channels.
Showing pictures of babies certainly does obscure the "truth" of their non-personhood. Actually it is generally pictures of babies in the womb that are used "neonatal" is a rather revealing slip of the keyboard, I think.

The article completely ignores the question of the personhood or rights of the unborn child in stating blandly:
No society that respects equality and individual autonomy could force a woman to maintain an unwanted pregnancy.
And in a summary of current secular orthodoxy it can make a risible statement such as:
We know why many women conceive accidentally: inadequate sex education and substandard contraceptive services.
One has to wonder what contraceptive services would meet the author's "standard": perhaps the school nurses need to make sure that children actually have a condom in their schoolbag to take home. That'll stop all those regrettable accidents!

In the meantime, David Steel, says that the debate has not changed over 40 years. It is true that the question of the rights of the unborn child is still ignored in most pro-abortion rhetoric. One thing that has changed, however, is the quality of the pictures of babies in the womb, especially the "walking in the womb" scans which presumably "obscure important truths" even more in the eyes of the Guardian's leader writer.

Sadly, the routine ultrasound pictures that mothers-to-be now carry around ensure that many people now know full well that abortion is the killing of a human baby but have to convince themselves that it is justified. This smooths the path for a more general acceptance of the logically impeccable corollary of abortion rights in the mind of Singer and others; namely infanticide. (Cf. Peter Singer, Taking Life: Humans)

How long before politicians are telling us that of course they are against infanticide, nobody wants it to happen, it is the fault of substandard abortion services, but regrettable though it may be, it is wrong to condemn a woman to a lifetime of caring for an unwanted baby that she only gave birth to by accident.

David Steel also threw in a random insult against Catholics which even the Guardian interviewer referred to as a "sideswipe". He alleged that Catholic opposition to contraception "is actually contributing to abortion." That's right. In a country that is swamped by contraception-promoting sexual health services and explicit sex-education, the 200,000 abortions per year are the fault of a Church that promotes chastity. (Incidentally, there is an excellent article by Diogenes which addresses the closely related allegation that Catholic teaching spreads AIDS. Cf. Catholic World News: ransomed)

Another old rite Mass in St Peter's

A commenter put me onto this interesting message on the Italian Crimson Forum:

Referring to another celebration of the old Mass in St Peter's, it reads:
Sarà Sabato 10 novembre alle ore 10 nella Basilica Papale di San Pietro.
Celebrerà Sua Eccellenza Mons. De Magistris.
Vi posso assicurare che sono tutti molto contenti .
Vi posso assicurare che alcuni giovani Sacerdoti assisteranno per "apprendere" il modus celebrandi.

[Translation]It will be on Saturday 10 November in the Papal Basilica of St Peter. His Excellency Mgr De Magistris will celebrate. You can be assured that all are very happy. You can be assured that some young priests will assist in order to learn the manner of celebrating.

Calling a spade a handled instrument for turning earth

Earlier this week, there was a report (The Press: Ambushed) of two men being ambushed and beaten up in Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire by a group of thirty youths. The local police commander, Chief Inspector Jon Carter said that he believed that a local group called the Ravy Terror Squad was responsible. He also said that he had a lead and intended to lock them up. Since then, several have been arrested in early morning raids.

It was amusing, however, to see how careful he had to be to avoid using inflammatory language when describing the group:
"This is not a gang as such, more a peer group which has got involved in crime and anti-social behaviour"
Not a gang at all, nothing like that, no.

H/T to Laban: Ravensthorpe Ravers whose article offers customary sensible comment on the whole story and its context.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Christians in Britain can't foster either

There has been a worrying development this week in the UK's creeping discrimination against people who adhere to traditional Christian morality. Not only must the Catholic Adoption Agencies close, Christian foster parents will be struck off too.

Vincent Matherick (a non-conformist minister) and his wife, Pauline became foster parents in 2001 and have since fostered 28 vulnerable children through Somerset County Council's Social Services Department.

Social Services asked the Mathericks to sign a contract implementing the Sexual Orientation Regulations. The foster parents were told that they would have to discuss homosexual relationships with children of 11 and to explain how gay people date. It was made clear that they would have to present homosexual relationships as being just as acceptable as heterosexual relationships.

The Mathericks considered that this was a requirement for them to promote homosexuality and not simply a question of non-discrimination; they refused to sign the contract. Social Services told them that they would be taken off the register of foster carers and so they decided to resign.

As a result, their 11 year old foster son will be placed in a council hostel on Friday.

Newspaper coverage:
Daily Telegraph
The Times
Daily Mail

H/T St John's Valdosta

LMS Mass in St Peters

The Latin Mass Society has a quarterly Low Mass in St Peter's Basilica in Rome. Yesterday, John Medlin sent me the very good news that the Society has now received permission to celebrate the Mass in the Chapel of St Michael in the nave of the basilica instead of the Hungarian Chapel in the crypt.

The first such Mass will be at 7.15 am on Friday 23 November celebrated by Mgr Ignacio Barreiro, the liturgical representative of the Society at Rome.

In another welcome development, Mgr Barreiro celebrated a baptism in the Traditional Rite in St Peter's on Saturday 20 October. This was in the Chapel of the Choir, facing the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the nave. The proud parents had previously been married (new rite) in the same chapel by the then Cardinal Ratzinger. (There may be some pictures of this event on the way soon.)

Blogging lunch

Sometimes people criticise electronic communication because it might be a poor substitute for real face-to-face communication. To be honest, I have often found that email has helped me to renew acquaintances with old friends; and through the blogosphere I have met many new ones. Just over a month after the visit of Fr Zuhlsdorf, I found myself today having lunch in London with Fr Guy Selvester who writes the blog Shouts in the Piazza.

Fr Selvester is an expert in heraldry. The other day he had an interesting article on the diplomatic difficulty faced by the newly elevated Cardinal Brady and the elegant solution proposed by Michael Merrigan, the head of the Irish Genealogical Society. See Of Red Hats and Red Faces

"But we regularly speak in Catholic parishes..."

A Faithful Rebel recently drew attention to an event that had been scheduled to take place on 22 October at St Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Fr Leo Tibesar had sent out a message inviting bloggers to publicise the event in which Carol Curoe, a business consultant who lives with her lesbian partner and two children, was to speak, together with her father. The publicity described the event as follows:
Are There Closets in Heaven? lets us experience the real lives behind debates taking place in today's media on same-sex marriage, constitutional amendments, gays and lesbians raising children, and religion.
Following considerable publicity on the blogosphere and many phone calls and emails to the Archbishop, the event was banned by the Archdiocese. Aristotle, the author of A Faithful Rebel commented sensibly:
Of course, the Catholic Church loves homosexuals, but she loves them too much to give them the false illusion that to engage actively in that "lifestyle" is a legitimate choice that is compatible with Christian faith. Jesus Christ calls us all to holiness, and he calls gays and lesbians, where they are unable to change that orientation, nevertheless to live a life of chastity. This is the same that is required of unmarried heterosexuals.
In a follow-up post, he has drawn attention to the statement from Michael Bayly, Executive Coordinator of the "Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities". Bayly says that the Curoes have been engaged to speak at a variety of venues during the past month. He continues:
I hope this unfortunate event does not mean that CPCSM’s days of being welcomed to host educational and story sharing events in Catholic parishes are over.
CPCSM advocates gay adoption, gay marriage, and changing Catholic teaching on sexuality.

The Faithful Rebel asks that people contact the US Conference of Catholic Bishops urging them to forbid the use of Catholic Churches or property for by groups who oppose Catholic teaching.

Prayers for monastery threatened by California fire

Travelling back from St Mary Moorfields last night, one of the company had a copy of the free paper that is handed out to commuters. On the front was a picture of the fires in California. I offered up a prayer, knowing that almost certainly some of the people I know through the blogosphere would be affected. I find that this is one way in which blogs make news more personal than reading "shock horror" stories in the chip wrappers.

Fr Z reports that the Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside is not far from where the fires are raging. One of the community is the great blogger Fr Stephanos, of Me Monk, Me Meander.

The monastery, about two miles from the sea, has provided accommodation for about a dozen people fleeing from further inland. Fr Stephanos comments
Our danger is that brush-filled canyons constitute the western and eastern borders of our property. If a fire starts down inside one of them, it would race uphill to the monastery.
Fr Z has posted the text of a very appropriate prayer from the Roman Missal asking for rain:
Oremus. Deus, in quo vivimus, movemur et sumus: pluviam nobis tribue congruentem; ut, praesentibus subsidiis sufficienter adiuti, sempiterna fiducialius appetamus. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As you would, of course expect, his translation tells you what the prayer really says:
Let us pray. O God, in whom we live, move, and have our being, grant us seasonable rain, so that our temporal needs being sufficiently supplied, we may seek with greater confidence after things eternal. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever. Amen.
Do remember the community in your prayers and all those affected by the fires.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Hippolytus and Eucharistic Prayer II

When I was a student in Rome, I remember going with a priest for Mass in one of the ancient Churches. The priest said that he was going to use Eucharistic Prayer II because it was the most ancient of all the prayers and was specifically Roman, composed by Hippolytus. This was the standard view at that time (early 1980s) but has since been called into question. A number of people have recently mentioned the matter to me and so here are a few notes for you.

In the 19th century, a number of ancient texts were discovered that were similar to the "Apostolic Constitutions", (of which the first modern edition was published in 1563). Among these texts was a document which came to be referred to as the “Egyptian Church Order”. In addition, the Canons of Hippolytus and the Testamentum Domini were discovered.

The scholarly consensus in the early 20th century on the dependence of these documents was that the “Egyptian Church Order” was in fact the "Apostolic Tradition" of Hippolytus, originating from Rome, that it was the earliest document, and the source of the others.

More recently, a number of scholars have questioned this consensus. Notably, Bradshaw et al. report the work of Metzger and extend it, saying of the "Apostolic Tradition" that:
We judge the work to be an aggregation of material from different sources, quite possibly arising from different geographical regions and probably from different historical periods, from perhaps as early as the mid-second century to as late as the mid-fourth.
(Bradshaw, P., Johnson, M., & Phillips, L. The Apostolic Tradition. A Commentary. Fortress Press. Minneapolis. 2002. page 14)
We need therefore to be careful about asserting too readily that the "Apostolic Tradition" is Roman, that it is our earliest liturgical source, that it is by Hippolytus and so on. The origin, authorship and dating of the document is not established with the certainty that would enable us to draw safe conclusions as a solid basis for practical liturgical proposals.

The reserve and caution in judgement of Bradshaw et al. contrasts with Vaggagini’s assertion that
“The anaphora of Hippolytus… would seem to give us the usual structure of an anaphora in the early Church”
(Vaggagini, C. The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform Geoffrey Chapman. London 1967 page 25)
Moreover, the text relied upon by those who composed the post-1967 liturgies was the reconstruction of Botte. While generally highly regarded,
“it gave the misleading impression that the reconstructed translation could be taken with confidence as reflecting what the author originally wrote, whereas any reconstruction involves a large number of subjective judgements, as well as the assumption that there was once a single ‘original’ text from which all extant versions derive.”
(Bradshaw et al. op cit page 12)
If the text from which Eucharistic Prayer II has been drawn up might be as late as the mid-fourth century, that does not give it any superiority to the Roman Canon, even were we to assume that archaeologism was a good way to construct liturgies. Parts of the Roman Canon are quoted by St Ambrose in the De Sacramentis establishing that it is, at least in part, of similar vintage.

In addition to Eucharistic Prayer II, the form (the words essential for validity) of the new rite for the ordination of a Bishop were taken from the "Apostolic Tradition", presumably on the same understanding that they were by Hippolytus.

(The forms for the ordination of priest and deacon have remained the same in the new rite as they were in the old Pontificale. Interestingly, though, in the ordination of a priest, the words "secundi meriti munus" (office of the second rank) have been rendered "co-workers with the Bishop" by ICEL, gratuitously introducing a theological idea that was popular at the Council but not present in the ancient text.)

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Mass at St Mary Moorfields

I am singing Mass tomorrow evening at St Mary Moorfields, the Catholic Church in the City of London.

The Blessed Sacrament will have been exposed earlier in the day. At 6pm, the parish will have Evening Prayer in the Church. This will be followed by Benediction and then by a Missa Cantata in the extraordinary form at 6.30pm. The Mass is arranged by the Latin Mass Society.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Why choose a particular text?

The other day, someone relatively new to the older form of Mass, told me that an elderly priest had explained to him that liturgical abuses used to happen in the old days with priests saying Mass too hurriedly. The old chap then told him (wait for it...) about how priests used to say the Mass for the Dead whenever it was allowed because it was shorter.

Now there are various possible views on the question of making Mass shorter. St Philip Neri used to remain so long in rapture after Communion that the altar server would leave him and come back later. But this was only at a private Mass. For public Masses, he insisted that priests should stick to 30 minutes maximum because the people might need to go to work and it would be wrong to discourage them from daily Mass.

But if it is to be considered an abuse to choose shorter texts, the abuse has by no means been corrected by the newer form of the Mass. It is very common for Eucharistic Prayer II to be said daily, and even on a Sunday, contrary to advice of the GIRM - simply because it is shorter. It saddens me greatly that some grand celebrations take an hour and a half but Eucharistic Prayer II is chosen because it is shorter - saving perhaps two or three minutes at most.

A further question has bothered me for some time with the new rite. What criteria do you use for choosing any of the options? Which memorial acclamation shall we have today? Which penitential rite? At seminary, we used to sit in small liturgy planning groups and agonise over such things. I suppose it still happens. You could argue that such planning needs to be a part of every liturgy. Frankly, I could not imagine a more inward-looking model of Church than one in which people spent time choosing whether to use Eucharistic Prayer 2 or 3 on Tuesday of the 29th week of the year. In any case, can you really fit one memorial acclamation to the readings more than any other? Let's face it, there is nothing pastoral or liturgical about the choice of texts in many cases. In practice, it comes down to the priest's whim or something like "we'll have number 2 today because we had number 3 yesterday." You might as well do "one potato, two potato, three potato, four..." (Then in Year B we could do "dip dip sky blue...")

So what do I do? When I say Mass in the Novus Ordo, I always use the first penitential rite, the second memorial acclamation (in English - i.e. the one that corresponds to the first choice in the editio typica). Most of the time, I say the Roman Canon although sometimes I say the third Eucharistic Prayer by way of entering into the spirit of the Novus Ordo and not "imposing my views" on others. However I am beginning to think that this is an unnecessary scruple and I am coming round to the view that it would be better simply to return to the Roman Canon for all Masses.

The advantage of this way of "choosing" is that there is less variation from day to day in the ritual of the Mass. The greater regularity "calms" the celebration of Mass a little and offers more opportunity for people to pray using the texts themselves, or to contemplate quietly the mysteries of Christ that are made present.

Leeds Diocese on Summorum Pontificum

Fr Z has the text and fisk of a statement by Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds Diocese on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Damien Thompson has highlighted the letter and quoted Fr Z in his post "An atrocious letter from Leeds" on his Daily Telegraph blog "Holy Smoke". Fr Ray Blake has his own observations, and Catholic Action UK have suggested "local action as appropriate."

The letter raises a number of serious issues that merit discussion (some have already been discussed extensively here and elsewhere.) I hope to find time particularly to look further at the question of the way in which the two forms of the rite can, as Pope Benedict said, be "mutually enriching." It does not seem to me at all "clear" that there is to be no transferring of elements from one form of the rite to the other. There is talk of adding some newer prefaces to the older rite. I can see no reason not to restore some elements of the older form as options for the Novus Ordo.

There is one point made by the Holy Father that deserves more attention. In the accompanying letter to Summorum Pontificum, he said,
"The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations."
This struck me as a very sensible point. I always felt that it was pointless extra bureaucracy for the Chancery to be issuing permissions for funeral Masses etc. Now that the Motu Proprio has freed the Bishops from this, it does seem odd that some Bishops seem be creating a whole lot more work in intensively "moderating" the classical form of the rite.

In the meantime, there is a very encouraging report from Orbis Catholicus: Summorum Pontificum: the Rome update. There is now a daily Mass at 8am in St Mary Major's in the usus antiquior, celebrated by one of the canons of the Basilica, many altars in Rome are seeing the return of their altar cards, indicating that more private Masses are being celebrated in the older form of the rite.

If you really want to know what is going on, a good way to check is to look in the shops on the Via Conciliazione. Apparently they are now selling new hand missals for the laity, printed in Italy.

Oh, and the 1962 Missal is listed in the new publications section of the Vatican Press.

Blogger's Choice awards

My site was nominated for Best Religion Blog!Many thanks to various people who pointed out that I had pointed to the Blogger's Choice Awards for 2007 which are now closed. I have deleted that post to avoid any more confusion. Here is the link for the Best Religion Blog in the 2008 contest.

Talk at St Andrews

Liam has kindly advised me that the talk I gave at St Andrews University "A response to Richard Dawkins" is now available for download as an mp3 file at the Canmore (Catholic Society) podcasts page.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Harry Potter and the Open Closet

J K Rowling has "revealed" that Professor Dumbledore is gay (see BBC: JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay). A little metaphysical correction is needed here. The Harry Potter books are works of fiction. Professor Dumbledore is whatever J K Rowling makes him to be. Not so much "revealed" therefore as "decided".

Apparently a spokesman for the gay rights group Stonewall which has achieved such success in the UK said,
"It's great that JK has said this. It shows that there's no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do, even being a wizard headmaster."
I would say rather that it shows that there is no limit to what a popular author can do to court the approval of the politically correct lobby.

Rowling herself seems to have been piqued by the opposition of some Christians:
"[...] she added that not everyone likes her work. Christian groups have alleged the books promote witchcraft. The author said her revelation about Dumbledore would give them one more reason."
Well, if you insist...

Seekers and St Charles Borromeo

Yesterday evening I was over at the Holy Ghost Church in Balham to speak to the Seekers Meeting organised by Fr Stephen Langridge, our vocations director in the Archdiocese of Southwark. Fr Langridge has a variety of activities to promote vocations; the "Seekers Meetings" are for those who are definitely considering applying to the seminary. There are other events for those who are not yet at that stage.

He left me free to choose a topic to speak on. I chose to talk about the life of St Charles Borromeo and its significance for the priesthood today. The saintly archbishop of Milan lived through a time when the Church was struggling to renew priestly life and ministry as an essential component of the renewal of the life of the Church as a whole in response to the Protestant reformation.

There are many parallels with today when we look to revitalise the priesthood in response to the challenge of secularism. I spoke especially of Borromeo's encouragement of a solid rule of life for priests: prayer, the divine office, daily Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a solid asceticism and regular confession.

I am filled with Gaudium et Spes when I meet both the seminarians and those who are considering applying for the seminary. They are serious young men who wish to live wholly for Christ and to learn whatever it takes to follow him wholeheartedly.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Pilgrimage to Willesden

The Latin Mass Society are holding a Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden (Nicoll Road, London NW10) on Saturday 27 October. The programme is as follows:

10.30am - Conference with Revd Dr Laurence Hemming
11.00am - Rosary
10.30-11.30am - Confessions
11.30am - Solemn High Mass (Celebrant: Revd Fr Patrick Hayward)

The website for Our Lady of Willesden parish has more information about the Shrine.

Norbertine vocations blog

A new blog from the Premonstratensians in the canonry of Corpus Christi, started by the novices. Norbertine Vocations. I'm sure this blog will be worth watching.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Day trip to Walsingham

If you don't know about Walsingham, here is the Wikipedia article (could do with some more information there if anyone has time) and here is the official site.

I was there today to say Mass for the members of the Latin Mass Society who were participating in the Walsingham Pilgrimage of their parish, St Mary's Ryde. The Mass was in the Reconciliation Chapel which is a mile away from the village of Walsingham itself. It is near the last of the ancient Slipper Chapels that marked the Walsingham Way. On a future visit, I would like to celebrate the older form of the Mass in the Slipper Chapel itself.

The Shrine have always been very accommodating for pilgrims wanting to celebrate the older form of the Mass. I advised the organisers of today's Mass to ask the Shrine to provide the vestments - they duly brought out a fine Roman set that had been recovered from a closing seminary and improved with a beautiful medallion of Our Lady of Walsingham.

I left home a little early because I wanted to call up to the village before Mass to have a look at the new parish Church of the Annunciation. Here is a view of the outside from the Friday Market:

Here is the sanctuary:

Above the sanctuary is a crucifix set against a stained glass window:

And pride of place is given to the statue which was carried in procession from Kings Lynn when Catholic worship first returned to Walsingham after the reformation.

Don't forget (never forget!) what happened to the original statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. It was burnt at Chelsea under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, along with statues from shrines all over the country. The ashes were thrown into the Thames. There was a proposal reported (Catholic Action UK: Statue of Our Lady in Chelsea?) to erect a sculpture in reparation on Chelsea embankment. It would depict the stripping of the monasteries on one side, the burning of the statues on the other, with Our Lady in the middle, with her children gathered beneath, depicting her as Mary, Mother of all mankind. (Information about the sculpture at Art and Reconciliation.)

The sculptor, Paul Day and the architect, Tony Dyson of Donald Insall Associates, were responsible for the Battle of Britain monument on the embankment and are part of the team working on the design for the memorial monument for the Queen Mother. With that kind of heavyweight backing, the sculpture might well be built. There was a meeting of Westminster City Council on 10 October to discuss the proposal. Does anyone know what happened?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Filming an Advent reflection for EWTN

EWTN were filming myself and Fr Dominic Allain today at ...
[whirr zck zck... telly intro mode on...]
... the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of London's fashionable Mayfair district. The Church is known to Catholic Londoners simply as "Farm Street" ...
[ping ping... click ... telly mode off]

I was giving a reflection on the fourth Sunday of Advent. It was rather odd wearing a purple stole and having an Advent wreath lit in front of me. Even odder to see the hangings changed to rose for Fr Allain's third Sunday of Advent talk.

The photo on the left was taken while the crew were setting up for Fr Allain. It does not give a true impression at all because the Church looked warm and golden, with the sanctuary enhanced by the studio lights. My little ultra-cheapo camera manages to make it all look terribly gloomy (I think I would do better using the mobile phone camera). Having seen some of the footage on the TV monitor, I can assure you that the cameraman and his crew have done justice to this beautiful Church. He is also going to have to go off and photo the places I mentioned as being nearby - well they did ask me to add in some points of local interest :-)

I asked when the programme "Catholic Lives" with Joanna Bogle was going to be broadcast but nobody knew. If you see this in the EWTN schedules, please let me know so I can tell people here who may want to watch it.

Lay ministry and lay apostolate

Fr Paul Harrison (Thoughts from the Lune Valley) has been visiting Fr John Boyle, the South Ashford Priest and Fr Ray Blake at St Mary Magdalen's, Brighton.

Fr Ray has posted a very good article (Thoughts with the Lune Valley in Brighton) discussing the involvement of the laity in parishes before and after Vatican II. I agree wholeheartedly with his observations and would like to add an example of my own.

In the late 1930s, my father was a teenager in St Margaret's parish, Canning Town. The parish not only had the Knights of St Columba but also the junior branch, the "Squires". Several of the Knights were members on West Ham Borough Council. They used to give lectures to the young lads on Catholic social teaching and its application in practice.

It is important to note that Vatican II did not call for lay ministry in the Church. But it did publish a whole decree on the lay apostolate. Without the need for any "time bombs" or ambiguities, the Council's teaching on the laity has been largely subverted by the proponents of lay ministry.

Fr Paul is coming over to visit Blackfen on Saturday.

Archbishop Ranjith in Holland

The text of an address by Archbishop Ranjith to the Dutch Association for Latin Liturgy (with the Apostolic Nuncio in attendance) on the subject of "Faith, Obedience and Theology has been posted at Rorate Caeli: Archbishop Ranjith's address in the Netherlands. The text was kindly provided by the Vereniging voor Latijnse Liturgie.

BBC balance

Just a little indication. On the search engine for BBC News and Sport:

Click here for your 23 pages of search results for "ramadan"

Click here for your 7 pages of search results for "lent" (actually quite a few of those are for "lent" as in "lent money")

H/T to Laban at UK Commentators

Monday, 15 October 2007

Rosary Crusade photos

By all accounts, the 24th annual Rosary Crusade of Reparation was a great success again this year. This year, the procession fell on the 90th anniversary of the great miracle of the sun at Fatima on 13 October 1917.

See the Rosary Crusade section of for photographs of the procession. There is a small selection below:

(John Medlin recently upbraided me for mentioning several events organised by the Latin Mass Society without mentioning the Latin Mass Society itself or giving it a link. So let me put that right by mentioning here that although the Rosary Crusade is not a Latin Mass Society event, members of the Society do feature prominently among the organisers and those attending.)

The procession led by the Knights of Malta (including Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society) and the clergy. [That's enough LMS links - ED]

Missionaries of Charity under the watchful protection of Her Majesty's Constabulary:

Inside the Oratory Church during Benediction:

Mother Teresa video

Made by Maxinne Marie for a school project in the subject "The Philosophy of Man"

Dawkins denies Churchgoing reports

In this forum at the official Richard Dawkins website, the professor himself has flatly denied recent reports of his being seen in Catholic Churches in Oxford. He says:
"I do occasionally go into Oxford churches for funerals and weddings. But these are nearly always, of course, Anglican churches. I don't think I've been in a Roman Catholic church (it happened to be St Aloysius) since a funeral in 1999"

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Zapatero opens old wounds

An article yesterday in the Telegraph reports on a Bill presented to the Madrid Parliament proposing a "Law of Historic Memory" to remove all symbols of Franco.

Under the new law the Catholic Church in Spain will lose state aid and financial subsidies if it fails to remove the plaques listing the names of pro-Franco fighters beneath the phrase "Fallen for God and Spain". In many cases, this will mean removing monuments to those brave martyrs who fell because they refused to renounce the Catholic faith in the face of communist persecution.

This is a very significant development. Modern Spain has been able to achieve a certain amount of reconciliation in the post civil war period by respecting the heroes and denouncing the atrocities that form a part of any civil war.

Zapatero's aggressively secularist government is in line with much of the rest of Europe in promoting anti-family policies. However Spain is a particular case in which many priests and religious went to their deaths outside towns and villages, shot by squads of soldiers and buried in unmarked graves. To re-ignite the hatreds of the civil war era is an evil thing indeed.

Friday, 12 October 2007

UNICEF etc support conference promoting abortion

C-Fam, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, have news of a conference in London next week

The conference is to be co-chaired by the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Asha-Rose Migiro, and will have in attendance the executive directors of UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the deputy executive director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as leading abortion providers such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes, Ipas and abortion advocates from across the globe.

The conference purportedly addresses maternal and child health but does not offer much in the way of sessions addressing the real issues that would actually help: such as vaccination, clean water, and the presence of skilled obstetricians. Instead the conference focuses on "reproductive rights" (read: contraception and abortion) and devotes its plenary session to the IPAS and Marie Stopes.

A representative of a pro-life NGO said,
"If UNICEF and the other organizers cared more about maternal and child health they would focus on the top killers of women and children. It is clear to us that this conference is more about promoting abortion than it is about dealing with the issues that most women face every day."

UNICEF Helps Convene Pro-Abortion Conference in London Next Week

Catherine Pickstock: forthcoming article

Jeffrey Tucker has posted a notice of an article received for the periodical Sacred Music from Catherine Pickstock. Entitled "God and Meaning in Music: Messiaen, Deleuze, and the Musico-Theological Critique of Modernism and Postmodernism", the article makes the case that without God, music itself is meaningless. I look forward to reading this as soon as it is published.

See NLM: Pickstock speaks

TLM - helps for the priest

There is an increasing range of resources for priests wishing to learn how to say the older form of the Roman Rite. A good idea is to keep an eye on the posts and the sidebar of the excellent New Liturgical Movement blog.

Fr John Zuhlsdorf has just started an excellent new resource for priests. He is recording as a podcast the latin texts of the forthcoming Sunday. See his post for further information.

TLM - notes for lay people

Increasingly, priests and others are looking for resources to help those who are unfamiliar with the older form of the Roman Rite. I produced a short leaflet for the people who come to my parish 10.30am Mass on a Saturday.

I have tried to emphasise that there are different ways of participating at Mass. Although it is praiseworthy to try to provide texts, I think that it is important not to give the idea that it is essential to follow every word. I also felt that it would be helpful to include the advice of St Francis de Sales on how to hear Mass

Here is a link to a printable version of TLM - notes for lay people. (pdf 23kb) It is accessible from my parish Free Downloads page which may have other things of use to you. (Help yourself!) Here is the text of the leaflet:
[Update - following comments, I have corrected "kneel from the orate fratres" to "kneel from the sanctus" both below and in the pdf.]

The Traditional Latin Mass - some notes for lay people

Stand as the priest and servers enter the Church.
Kneel when the priest makes the sign of the cross.
Stand for the Gospel
Kneel or sit for the Offertory (Kneel from the Sanctus)
Stand for the last gospel
If you are infirm, you may of course sit for any or all of the Mass as necessary.

Following the Mass
There are booklets with the “Ordinary” prayers of the Mass. The server alone makes the responses. You may join in quietly if you wish (in a whisper) or you may choose instead to say your own prayers as you meditate upon the mysteries of Christ that are made present in the Mass.

If you wish to follow all the texts, it is possible to purchase a hand missal such as the “St Andrews Daily Missal”. Alternatively, you may like to follow the advice given by St Francis de Sales to lay people. (overleaf)

Holy Communion
You may come up to the altar rails when the server rings the bell as the priest says his own “Domine non sum dignus

Holy Communion is received kneeling and on the tongue. The communicant does not answer “Amen.”

St Francis de Sales on “How to hear Holy Mass”
With the older form of the Roman Rite, there are many possible ways to participate in the Mass. This is one possible way from a saint who wrote a book on the Devout Life especially for lay people.

1. From the beginning until the priest goes up to the altar, make the preparation with him, which consists in placing yourself in the presence of God, acknowledging your unworthiness and asking pardon for your faults,

2. From the time when the priest goes up to the altar to the Gospel, consider with a simple and general consideration the coming and the life of Our Lord in this world.

3. From the Gospel to the Credo, consider the preaching of our Saviour; protest that you wish to live and die in the faith and obedience of his holy word and in union with the holy Catholic Church.

4. From the Credo to the Pater noster apply your heart to the mysteries of the death and passion of our Redeemer, which are actually and essentially represented in this holy Sacrifice, which, together with the priest and the rest of the people, you will offer to God the Father for his honour and for your salvation.

5. From the Pater noster to the Communion strive to excite a thousand desires of your heart, ardently wishing to be for ever joined and united to your Saviour by everlasting love. From the Communion to the end, thank his divine Majesty for his Incarnation, for his life, for his death, for his passion, and for the love which he shows to us in the holy Sacrifice, conjuring him through it to be ever propitious to you, to your relations, to your friends, and to the whole Church; and humbling yourself with your whole heart, received devoutly the divine blessing which our Lord gives you by the ministry of his priest.

(St Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life. Part 2. c14)

Thursday, 11 October 2007

The Church is alive, the Church is young

Canmore, the Catholic Society of the University of St Andrews, is thriving. Having travelled up with a revised version of my talk in response to Richard Dawkins, I was impressed to find myself speaking to a full house, including many atheists and non-Catholic Christians as well as the stalwarts of Canmore.

Student life changes in some externals but there are some basic constants. Food is one of them and we had an excellent dinner beforehand in the "Glasshouse" which offered a reasonable two course meal. There was no waste as one of the hearty Catholic students hoovered up whatever was left over.

Before the talk, I was taken to the pier and, I am proud to say, managed to do the "Pier Walk" which involves climbing a metal ladder and then walking along the top part of the pier which is only a metre and a half wide for the first 20 yards or so, with a sheer drop below. Apparently, if you fall off, you are posthumously awarded a first class degree!

After the talk, the students repair to "The Russell", one of the hotels looking over the famous Royal and Ancient golf course. After dutifully sampling some 18 year old Talisker, one visiting student from Charleston treated us to a rendition of "Dixie". English people in America are often told "I love your accent." I have to admit that in this case the roles were reversed and I really did enjoy hearing a genuine South Carolina accent redolent of the old South.

The Pro-Life Society at St Andrews has been very active recently. The Pro-Life Society is open to all but, as you would expect, many of the activists are Catholics. Recently, the Students' Association banned the Pro-Life Society from having a stall at the Freshers Fair on the absurd grounds that it has a "single viewpoint" (isn't that what an association or society is for?) The pro-lifers demonstrated outside the Student Association building and gathered many signatures for a petition against this unfair treatment. I understand that the protest was covered in the Daily Mail and would be grateful for a link to the story. Apparently it may be covered in the Catholic press this weekend.

The Catholic Society at St Andrews is a great sign of hope for the Church. The students are active, apostolic and prayerful. They attend Mass before their meetings, gather to say parts of the Divine Office and the Rosary at various times. They are also full of good old-fashioned student madness. One was explaining to me a jape in which two of them (one a medical student, naturally) were accustomed to run from St Salvator's hall down to the pier and then jump off - to the consternation of visiting golfers and other tourists. After climbing back out of the sea, they would run back to the Hall for a shower before spending the morning attending lectures, writing essays, studying anatomy or something...

In less than 24 hours, I was engaged in conversations about St John of the Cross, Liberation Theology, traditional liturgy, information theory, the uncertainty principle, the causality of the sacraments, the philosophy of education, and the role of government. Quite exhausting but most enjoyable and informative.

Do remember the students in your prayers. They have the potential to do so much good in the Church and in society.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

APGL Conference 31 October

The Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life will be holding a Conference on Wednesday 31 October at the London Oratory (St Wilfrid's Hall).

Our principal speaker is Fr Anthony Doe whose addresses have been very popular at various study days for priests. A buffet lunch is provided and the afternoon is given over to a spiritual talk, the Rosary, opportunity for confession, and Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction in the Little Oratory.

Registration is from 11.15am. The Conference will finish by 4pm. Publicity will be sent out to members of APGL as soon as the postal strike is finished. The Conference is open to all priests and deacons (whether members of APGL or not). It is fine to leave a comment here if you wish to come.

Rosary Crusade this Saturday

Assemble at 1.45pm outside Westminster Cathedral. The procession makes its way to the London Oratory for devotions and Benediction. This year, Fr Julian Large of the Oratory is preaching.

This is a major event which brings devotion to Our Lady onto the streets of central London. I am unable to go myself because of my duties in the parish but I do recommend it to you if you are free.

Margaret Sanger: KKK speaker

The Truth About Margaret Sanger is a blog dedicated to exposing the truth about the founder of Planned Parenthood. The blog carries items of general pro-life interest but focuses particularly on the eugenic thinking of this iconic figure in the anti-life promotion of abortion and birth-control.

They are currently running the 3rd Annual Margaret Sanger at the Ku Klux Klan Rally Art Contest which invites various representations of Margaret Sanger's speech in 1926 to the Women's Branch of the Silver Lake Ku Klux Klan as mentioned in her own 1938 autobiography.

The contest will not accept photoshopped entries this year but will accept any of the following:
Drawings, cartoons, historical novels, haiku, dance, plays, videos, paintings, quilts, rap, puppetry, modern interpretations of Sanger speaking to the Klan, reenactments of the speech on YouTube, mime, audio recordings of actual Sanger quotes she may have reused when speaking to the Klan

Canmore tomorrow

I am off up to Bonnie Scotland tomorrow to visit Canmore, the home of the Catholic Society at the University of St Andrews. I always enjoy my visits to St Andrews because of the particularly vibrant life of the chaplaincy there.

I'll be flying Air France to Dundee, then taking the short hop down to the university on the bus. As I have said before, St Andrews is a beautiful place to study and I always find that the students are enjoyable company.

This time, my talk is about Richard Dawkins. I'll be looking at "The God Delusion" of course but also at his other works. I feel that it is a great pity that the power and indeed beauty of his scientific writing is marred by his fundamentally irrational prejudice against religion.

For the first time, my talk has been featured as an "Event" on Facebook. This opens up a new dimension in communication since not only do I know several of the students from the Faith Conferences but now I can see a list (and photos) of people who have confirmed that they are coming. It's almost spooky!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Piranesi exhibition

Matthew at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping has an excellent post on the 18th century Venetian engraver, Giambattista Piranesi. As a student in Rome, I often came across reproductions of Piranesi's engravings and will now see if my next visit to the eternal City can take in a visit to Santa Maria del Priorato. See the post The Genius of Piranesi which reviews an exhibition running until 20 January at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, entitled Piranesi as Designer.

Masses at the weekend

As well as the homely celebrations at Blackfen, there were two liturgical celebrations in the usus antiquior at the weekend. Westminster Cathedral saw a solemn High Mass celebrated at the High Altar. The ordinary of the Mass was Mozart's Coronation Mass. Since the celebration of Fr Anthony Conlon's silver jubilee, the Cathedral authorities have kindly consented to the temporary removal of the forward-facing altar. This helps the High Altar to be seen in all its original glory. Apparently, the Cathedral was full for the Mass.

The above photo is from the collection available at

On Sunday, there was a High Mass at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Portsmouth at which Palestrina's Missa Brevis was sung. Afterwards, I hear that Bishop Hollis kindly came to meet and greet those who attended the Mass.

Selectively taking offence

Cardinal George gave an interview to John Allen last week which made a number of very good points. Here is a link to the full text of the interview (pdf 56Kb) and a summary with extracts at Allen's All Things Catholic.

One of the most noteworthy parts of the interview is where Allen presses the Cardinal on the text of the 1962 prayer on Good Friday - this is the one that prays for the conversion of the Jews (not the earlier version which prayed "pro perfidis Iudaeis"). After considering the question of whether the prayer might be changed, and who exactly is offended by it, His Eminence suggests:
"Maybe this is an opening to say, 'Would you care to look at some of the Talmudic literature's description of Jesus as a bastard, and so on, and maybe make a few changes in some of that?"
OK, now that has been exposed, we only have to wait for the world's media to bring it up at every available opportunity whenever toleration or inter-religious dialogue is under discussion. Or perhaps not.

H/T Holy Smoke

Parish feast day

Yesterday was the patronal feast day of our Parish. The Union of Catholic Mothers excelled themselves in decorating the Church with with floral displays and dressing the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. Our principal Mass was sung in Latin, eastward-facing, with the usus antiquior "helping to inform" the celebration of the newer form.

In the afternoon we had the Rosary, procession of the statue of Our Lady (with both the Lourdes and Fatima hymns), Litany of Loreto and Benediction.

I preached on the various intentions that we should bring to Our Lady: those who have lapsed from the practice of the faith, our families, our young people: those who are called to the priesthood or the religious life and those who are called to marriage, and our own deepening of faith, and especially our preparation and thanksgiving for Holy Communion. I made the point that it is never a question of "either or"; either praying to Mary or to Jesus. Whenever we pray to our Lady, she brings us straight to the heart of Christ. Par Marie a Jesus!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Pell for Westminster?

There is an interesting story on the front page of this week's Catholic Herald. Apparently Cardinal George Pell has jumped into the front-runners for Archbishop of Westminster. The book opened by Paddy Power has Cardinal Pell at 10-1, ahead of Aidan Nichols and Arthur Roche. Favourite is Vincent Nichols at 2-1, followed by Kevin McDonald at 5-1.

What a hoot!

H/T Mulier Fortis: How very interesting...

Knocked flat again

Thank you for all your suggestions for cold remedies. I actually made the request tongue-in-cheek and was going to follow it up by asking advice on the best route from Peckham to Heathrow. In any case, your kind responses were a tonic in themselves.

Having recovered from the cold, I was knocked flat again last night - this time with food poisoning. I have had this once or twice before and will not go into any details, nor indeed request any antidotes: the solution is much the same as for a cold (mainly sleep) but without the alcohol.

So just one or two quick posts then I'm off to bed. I want to be in good shape for our parish feast day. We have a sung Latin Mass at 10.30am. Liturgically, it will be "like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

Friday, 5 October 2007

New boiler

One of life's little challenges is when you need to put the heating on in the Hall - and it doesn't work. Fortunately, we have a very good central heating engineer in the parish who runs his own firm. It turns out that the boiler - installed 5 years ago and replaced soon after - has some sort of boiler version of gut rot. It could be repaired at some cost and labour time but we decided to call it a day and put in a new one. Apparently this is a "condensing boiler" which is more efficient too. And has a five year warranty: probably a good sign.

My boiler guru tells me that he is onto the supplier with the whole story and is emphasising the very public nature of such works to Church premises. This should have some effect on our discount. I said that if it would help, I would be happy to post a photo of the shot innards of the old one on my blog with a link to the website of the manufacturer and supplier. I told him that we could even do something on YouTube :-)

I'm happy anyway. Problem notified yesterday: boiler replaced and in working order by 10.30am this morning. It's that kind of parish.

1962 Missal pdf online

The Church Music Association of America and Jeffrey Tucker of the New Liturgical Movement have made available the 1962 Missal online in pdf format (72Mb). The file is hosted at Musica Sacra, the website of the CMAA, thanks to a generous gift from Fr Robert Skeris

While you are at it, take a look at the articles clarifying the rules for music at Low Mass and music at High Mass.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

A true story

The comment of Emma (17) on my last post reminds me of an episode from my time 13 years ago as parochial administrator of St John Fisher, Thamesmead South. I enjoyed my time there - I had a nice little town house on the estate, got permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the downstairs chapel and introduced daily Mass there on an eastward-facing altar I built myself. It was a small community in a "Local Ecumenical Project" (I did not opt to celebrate the "simultaneous eucharist".) The collection was about £100 per week so I used the skills learnt from my father and did all the repairs to the house myself (plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc.) Stood me in good stead when looking for builders later.

One year, two girls came and asked me if they could join the Confirmation class. At 16, they were four years older than the others but joined in with good spirit and came regularly to Mass. They were called Nicky and Tracy.

South Thamesmead is widely regarded as a "sink" estate. Its one international claim to fame is that is was the location for the filming of The Clockwork Orange. Its reputation was undeserved - I have worked in much rougher estates and the people were generally hard-working and honest. There were many refugees from all over the place as well as a good number of ex-servicemen. One convert who became a good friend was a sergeant from the Paratroop Regiment and veteran of the Falklands War.

When it came to the final part of the Confirmation preparation, I had a fit of conscience and said to the youngsters, "If there is anything that you would especially like in the way of music for the Confirmation, you can choose. Are there any hymns you would like to have?"

There was a rather dumbfounded pause. Then Tracy spoke up with confidence. "Look, Father, the only hymns we know are "Colours of Day" and "Bind us Together" so why don't you choose something decent for us?"

Never forgot that.

Crying in the chapel

Damien Thompson has been making people cry with his remarks about the composers of "contemporary" liturgical music. The reader who said that Holy Smoke was the first blog he had read which ever made him cry was writing on the Society of St Gregory Forum. The discussion there was somewhat prophetic since it took place in advance of Damien's post which included the comment that a better name for the SSG would be the "Society for Composers of Gruesome Seventies Ditties that Make You Want to Run Screaming for the Exit."

You are invited to make your own mind up by listening to some of the selections (try the Kyrie from the Mass for Easter) from "Baptised with Fire" - described by Damien as "a good choice of title, since judging by the extracts I’d rather be burned alive than listen to the whole album." Now generally on the blogosphere, this kind of comment will spark off a good old flame war and heads are metaphorically broken on both sides.

If some trendy musician were to suggest that the Mass settings so beloved of traditionalists were so awful as to make them want to pull their own ears off or whatever, I suppose nobody is going to burst into tears on behalf of Mozart or Pope Gregory the Great. One of the advantages of tradition, perhaps?

Anyway; Damien's response to the criticism?
Here’s why I don’t feel too guilty. First, the Mass settings produced by the “composers” of the SSG really are bad: they range from nails-scraping-down-a-blackboard painful to stuff that sounds like a wicked parody. Someone needs to say – in a loving way, of course – that it’s drivel.

Second, I’m getting a bit sick of the liberal response to any criticism, which is to bang on about how “hurtful” it is. The message is: emotions come first. So a congregation has to sit through a decade of wailed “folk Masses”, because if you complain you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.
I think that he has a valid point there. Perhaps we should fight back. When you next hear "Bind us together", tell the parish priest that you felt "violated". Or take out a big box of paper hankies and run out sobbing with anger when the liturgical dance starts up.

It is interesting that the SSG forum recognises the character of the Catholic blogosphere. As they say, "Catholic bloggers who follow other than a rigorously conservative line seem quite hard to find". (For "rigorously conservative" here, read "in line with the teaching of Pope Benedict".) Another telling comment was "They play in a different league over there, don't they!"

Indeed. Now which of those "leagues" is in continuity with the Church's past and which sees a rupture with the past some 40 or so years ago?
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