Monday, 31 March 2008

A beautiful and historic chalice

This is the chalice which I was given to use for Mass a week ago in Helsinki. I emailed Marko Tervaportti for some further information about it and he has kindly replied with the information that it was made in Paris, probably around 1870 and is thought to be a gift from the Countess Leopoldina Cicogna (from Milan) who brought it from France together with many other objects, including another precious chalice with standing figures of the four Apostles, and the Way of the Cross which still hangs from the walls of the Cathedral.

The Emperor, Czar Alexander II, gave permission for the building of St Henry's Cathedral at the request of Leopoldina's husband, Count Berg.

Here is a close-up of the base of the chalice in which you can see the painted glass medallion of Saint Joseph and Our Blessed Lady. The third, hidden from view, is a medallion of the crucifixion. Following the advice of J B O'Connell, I used this to orient the chalice whilst saying Mass so that I knew to drink the ablution from the same side of the chalice as that from which I had received Holy Communion. Just another of those little details that one can also observe when celebrating the Novus Ordo.

The nightmare world of North Korea

It is not often that I would refer to the Sun newspaper here but there is a good article today by Oliver Harvey on "The Nightmare World of North Korea". The opening of the article could be used as a model for a journalism class:
IN a cold sweat, I was led away by the jackbooted and armed North Korean border guards to a bleak side room.

My crime was that I’d disobeyed strict orders and taken pictures of the Stalinist dictatorship’s long-suffering people and the ruthless military who keep them suppressed.
If you were being picky, you might say that there is not much real drama - a brief trip for journalists, a 15 minute scary interview and a 100 dollar fine; but I would disagree and take my hat off to the guy. He took a significant risk by trying to get some good photos and he wasn't to know what the consequences were. His article also gives a good description of the paranoia and numbness induced by Kim Jon-il's ghastly regime. The online version has a video clip with some covert footage he managed to get from inside North Korea.

I'm afraid I did laugh at this bit (italics original):
[I] remembered The Sun’s witty headline, “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Korea?” printed when Kim tested a nuclear device in 2006.

At that moment, it didn’t seem all that funny.
I bet it didn't!

H/T Kevin Knight at New Advent.

On not promoting condoms

Germain Grisez has written an article for Catholic World Report titled The Church Betrayed? with the strapline
Why does Catholic Relief Services forbid putting its logo on the “educational” materials it provides about HIV and condoms? It is time for the US bishops to investigate their charitable agency.
The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the US Bishops' aid agency and Grisez analyses their approach to giving information about condoms.

Grisez quotes the official (and insufficient) reassurance that "CRS does not finance, promote or distribute condoms."

Now where have we heard that before?

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Pro Woman, Pro Life - Sr Roseann

I have only just noticed that Sr Roseann Reddy, of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, was at the St Andrews University Canmore Catholic Society earlier in the month, speaking to the title "Pro Woman, Pro Life." You can download a (31Mb) podcast of the talk at the Canmore podcasts page.

The Sisters of the Gospel of Life blog is worth a regular visit - and they often ask for our prayers.

Sadly, someone recently vandalised the Sisters' car. That "someone" needs lots of prayers: imagine having to explain that sin to Our Lord on judgement day!

40 Martyr reflections

Have a scroll through Bashing Secularism for reflections that Richard Marsden has been posting on the 40 English and Welsh Martyrs canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970. He is humbly contrite about not posting all of them during Lent but I think we can all forgive him for that - they form an excellent series and he has promised continuing posts during Eastertide.

The English and Welsh martyrs are far too little known among Catholics in their own countries. If you don't know much about the martyrs, reading the reflections on Bashing Secularism is a good way to catch up.

Linacre Ethics Forum - April 2008

I am very happy to publicise the following forthcoming meetings of the Linacre Ethics Forum.
Linacre Ethics Forum

A chance for junior healthcare professionals and students (medics, nurses, pharmacists etc. are welcome!) to explore and discuss Catholic healthcare ethics. Each month a senior practitioner or other expert will be invited to give a 30 minute presentation, followed by discussion. The aim will be to understand the Church’s teaching, and explore ways in which we can present it sympathetically to patients, colleagues and managers.

3rd April - Fertility Treatments - Mrs Nicole Parker
30th April - Ethical Issues in General Practice - Dr Mike Delany

Meetings start at 6.30pm (for 7pm) and take place in Vaughan House, Francis Street, SW1P 1QN (behind Westminster Cathedral, near Victoria tube station). There is Mass at 5.30pm in the Cathedral.

If you would like any further information about these fora, please email Stephen Barrie or telephone: (020) 7266 7410.

Clinton under fire

I just realised that we haven't had any silly videos for a while. Here's one showing Hillary Clinton's much discussed arrival in Bosnia.

Saturday, 29 March 2008


Wikimissa is a directory of traditional Masses worldwide. I was amazed to see that our Saturday Mass at Blackfen was accurately listed. Rorate Caeli asks for help to keep the list current and accurate. To correct or update an entry is very simple: just double-click on the page and make the amendments.

Regular Missa Cantata at Lancaster Cathedral

St Peter's Cathedral in Lancaster, the home of Bishop Pat O'Donoghue of "Fit for Mission - Schools" fame, has a regular Traditional Latin Mass on the fourth Sunday of each Month at 12.15pm. The Mass is sung in Gregorian Chant by a mixed voice Schola. My correspondent tells me that anyone who would like to join the Schola, either regularly or on an occasional basis, will be most welcome.

Lancaster Cathedral has its own blog and website

Friday, 28 March 2008

Muslims support Catholic opposition to HFE bill

From Catholic Family News:
Dr A. Majid Katme(IMA) emails : 'British Muslims fully support the Catholic Leaders, Ministers and MPs in their opposition to the (Human Fertilisation & Embryology Bill), the worst Bill in the history of Britain, they will continue with their letter campaign to the MPs in order to oppose this inhumane, destructive and immoral bill . . . Signed by:

-Islamic Medical Association(IMA)
-Muslim Doctors Association(MDA)
-Islamic Medical Ethics Forum(IMEF)
-Union of Muslim Organisations(UMO)
H/T Catholic Action UK

Important interview with Cardinal Hoyos

Gregor Kollmorgen at the New Liturgical Movement has done us a great service by translating the whole of the recent interview given to L'Osservatore Romano by Cardinal Hoyos. (See NLM: Interview with Cardinal Castrillón on the Motu Proprio - updated). I would like to highlight two particular extracts:
We need to be clear: this is not a return to the past but a step forward, because this way you have two treasures, rather than only one.
This is a sensible answer to the clichéd characterisation of the use of the Classical Rite as "going back". His Eminence also picks upon one of the most important features of the "Gregorian Rite" as he says we may call it:
We must comprehend some differences: the larger room for silence for the faithful, that fosters contemplation of the mystery and personal prayer. Finding again spaces of silence is today for our culture not only a religious necessity.
I have found that it is important to explain to people unfamiliar with the usus antiquior that the Canon is said quietly by the priest. This can be counter-productively "disquieting" for those used to the Novus Ordo but need not be if it is explained properly.

One important point the Cardinal makes is in response to the question of the supposed "excommunication" of members of the Society of St Pius X:
The excommunication concerns only the four bishops, because they have been ordained without the mandate of the Pope and against his will, while the priests are only suspended. The Mass they celebrate is without a doubt valid, but not licit and, therefore, participation is not recommended, unless on a Sunday there should be no other possibilities. Certainly neither the priests, nor the faithful are excommunicated. Let me reiterate in this regard the importance of a clear understanding of things to be able to judge correctly.
Cardinal Hoyos is coming to England in June and I very much hope that I will have an opportunity to meet the great man who has done so much to foster the restoration of traditional Liturgy.

Pope Benedict and "Conversi ad Dominum"

In his sermon at the Easter Vigil, the Holy Father spoke about the presence of the Risen Christ in the Liturgy of the Church and, significantly, used the phrase Conversi ad Dominum in order to explain the effect of our participation in the Liturgy should have in our lives. The essential link between Liturgy and Life has often been used in recent years to justify aberrant, human-centred liturgical innovation. The Holy Father links the liturgical turning towards the East with the conversion of our whole lives, raising them on high in truth and love. Fr Z has a commentary on the sermon; here is the last paragraph:
In the early Church there was a custom whereby the Bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful: “Conversi ad Dominum” – turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the East, towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning, whom we go to meet when we celebrate the Eucharist. Where this was not possible, for some reason, they would at least turn towards the image of Christ in the apse, or towards the Cross, so as to orient themselves inwardly towards the Lord. Fundamentally, this involved an interior event; conversion, the turning of our soul towards Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God, towards the true light. Linked with this, then, was the other exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: “Sursum corda” – “Lift up your hearts”, high above all our misguided concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness – “Lift up your hearts, your inner selves!” In both exclamations we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism: Conversi ad Dominum – we must always turn away from false paths, onto which we stray so often in our thoughts and actions. We must turn ever anew towards him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must withdraw our hearts from the force of gravity, which pulls them down, and inwardly we must raise them high: in truth and love. At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love. Amen.
Notice how the Holy Father links the liturgical orientation, turning towards the Lord, with the interior conversion of heart. I cannot help smiling at the use he has made of the expression "Easter people." Not quite what the National Pastoral Congress had in mind!

Our Lady of the Taper

Fr Jason at the Welsh National Shrine of Our Lady of the Taper in Cardigan has a regular TLM at the shrine which is well attended. The photos are from the Palm Sunday Mass at the shrine. (The website tells the story of the shrine.)

Latin is particularly helpful in Wales where many people have Welsh as their first language and all signs have to be bilingual. The use of the universal language of the Church overcomes the sensitive question of the vernacular.

Fr Jason also tells of the now regular Sunday TLM at Lourdes which he came across on a recent pilgrimage. He also saw a confessional that advertised both rites for the sacrament.

Traditional vocations blog

A new blog Traditional Vocations offers information and links for those who might be called to serve God in one of the societies which uses the Classical Roman Rite. I was interested to see the summary of the Course of Studies at Gricigliano.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Congratulations to new Birmingham Monsignori

Thanks to Jackie Parkes (Catholic Mom of 10), I found the news of two well-deserved honours in the Birmingham diocese. Fr Paul Watson and Fr Mark Crisp have been made Monsignori. Fr Watson is the Director of the excellent Maryvale Institute and Fr Crisp is the Rector of Oscott College. Warmest congratulations to them both.

The picture is by Peter Jennings and is posted at the Birmingham Archdiocesan Website. Mgr Watson is second from left and Mgr Crisp is fourth from left.

"... by force if necessary"

There is one snippet from Jane's notes on the talk by Greg Gardner at the Birmingham Oratory on sex education that should be highlighted. Dr Gardner had a chilling quotation from Dr Brock Chisolm, the first director of the World Health Organisation. In 1946, he wrote in “Psychiatry of enduring Peace and Social Progress”:
“The concept of right and wrong is a barrier to developing a civilised way of life. This concept of right and wrong should be eradicated. Children have to be freed from … prejudices forced upon them by religious authorities … parents are dictators and suppressors of the child’s best nature. Sex education should be introduced … eliminating the ways of the elders, by force if necessary.”
Jackie Parkes also has "Jane's notes" on the recent talk by Frs Guy Nichols and Philip Cleevely (Sex education and moral development).

HFE Bill, Bishops, Frankenstein and medical charities

When boarding the plane to Helsinki, it was good to see front page coverage in the papers of various sermons made by Bishops concerning the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

In an excellent sermon at the Easter Vigil, Bishop O'Donoghue made the straightforward plea:
Please stop the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Stop exploiting embryonic human beings, and support adult stem cell research instead.
Cardinal O'Brien was equally forthright in his Easter Sunday sermon:
This bill represents a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life.
In a sort of "J-turn", Prime Minister Gordon Brown has now allowed a free vote on three "ethical aspects" of the HFE bill. However, they will still be required by the party whip to vote in favour of the Bill as a whole - which rather negates the right to vote according to conscience. essentially, he has admitted the injustice of his former position but not effective corrected it. The Telegraph has the text of Brown's letter to MPs in which he makes it clear that he will personally be voting in favour of all three measures.

Lord Winston has leapt in with unparliamentary language accusing the Bishops of lying (they are not) because they refuse to gloss over the ghastly ethical implications of this bill by using weasel terminology that makes it sound humane. Cardinal O'Brien is quite right to refer to experiments of "Frankenstein proportions"; the life of the very young is to be used in order to provide longevity for those who are older without regard to the sanctity of human life.

In the meantime, several medical research charities have given their unequivocal support to the bill. John Smeaton has a good article with the details: Let’s not support charities who refuse charity to the unborn.

Remember in all this that embryonic stem cell research has not yet produced any results whereas ethically acceptable adult stem cell research has led to many cures.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Lots of weather in Helsinki

Helsinki is covered in snow this morning and everybody says that winter has come late. Finnish public transport is renowned for being scrupulously on time and apparently snow causes some upset because the buses might be a minute or two late. I did have a bit of a problem getting a taxi over to the Church this morning (I had to take my suitcase) but apparently there are relatively few taxis in Helsinki because public transport is so reliable and inexpensive.

Low Mass this morning was in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of St Henry's Cathedral. Marko Tervaportti took photos during the Mass and has already posted the above photo and another at the Summorum blog.

After Mass, we had some excellent Finnish coffee in the Catholic Information Centre which is the hub for the administration of the Catholic Church in Finland. They have the Catechism of the Catholic Church on sale in Finnish along with Finnish translations of papal encyclicals and various other useful books.

Another Marko shepherded me on public transport until the final bus for the airport so I had the chance to visit the magnificent railway station which looks like Euston must have done before it was wreckovated in the 1960s. All seems to be well with the flight and the airport is a pleasure after the queues and maelstrom of our London airports.

I heard various interesting bits of news from elsewhere while in Finland so I'll have a little surf now while waiting for the flight to be called.

"Fin-igan Day Two" and Studium Catholicum

There are some pictures from yesterday's Missa Cantata at the Summorum blog on the post Fin-igan Day Two.

I have been staying at the Studium Catholicum which is run by the Dominicans, Fr Antoine from Paris and Fr Bill from Edmonton, Alberta, for whose hospitality and kindness I am very grateful.

Currently, the facilities are being worked on but there is already an excellent library in place which will be available for use by any students who are interested. We are just round the corner from the main square so it is an excellent location, too.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Missa Cantata at St Henry's

This evening's Mass at the Cathedral of St Henry in Helsinki was sung with a very competent small schola executing the chant flawlessly. I was very grateful for the opportunity to celebrate with a choir singing the Missa Lux et Origo. There will doubtless be some pictures at the blog Summorum fairly soon. (The title of course recalls the Motu Proprio but has another slight reference in that the Finnish name for Finland is Suomi.) In the meantime, courtesy of Summorum, here is a picture from yesterday's Low Mass.

The windows behind the altar were donated by an Irish lady, Mary Ryan 1n 1907, in memory of Fr von Christieeson. Either side of the Crucifixion, there stand St Patrick and St Bridget.

After Mass, Marko Tervaportti and his wife Pilvi treated a small group of us to dinner at their house. They say a decade of the Rosary with their two little girls before bedtime and it was a great privilege to be able to join in with this and to give a blessing afterwards. The Finns' sense of humour is very similar to the British and I greatly enjoyed the banter about the former Soviet Union and the GDR which, apparently, had quite an influence on Finland, as well as lots of intelligent and witty conversation about the Church today and various possibilities for evangelisation.

Tomorrow morning, I will be celebrating a Low Mass in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of the Cathedral before flying back to England. To any priests who like to celebrate the Classical Roman Rite, I would recommend a stay in Helsinki. It is a beautiful and fascinating City, the Finns are excellent hosts, and they would warmly appreciate your visit. I suggested that it should not be impossible to combine visits for three of us and celebrate High Mass.

Looking round Helsinki

As you can see from the ice floating in the harbour, Helsinki is quite cold in comparison to England; although apparently there has been a mild winter and the recent snow was the first that has fallen this year. I was glad to have remembered to bring some warm clothing. My very English shoes look silly here where it seems that everybody has walking boots on.

This morning I had an opportunity to visit the Ataneum, the National Gallery of Finland which currently has an exhibition of the work of Pekka Halonen (1865-1933).

(There is an article in English at Finnguide about the exhibition.)

After the Treaty of Tilsit between Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I, Russia attacked Finland in 1808. The following year, Sweden conceded Finland to Russia as an autonomous Grand Duchy. In 1812, the Tsar moved the capital to Helsinki and initially, Russian rule was of some benefit to Finland. Some of the architecture in the centre of the City bears more than a passing resemblance to St Petersburg. This is a photo of the Government Palace which is matched on the other side of the square by the main university building.

The Esplanade park leads to the main harbour. The wind blows up from the harbour making this one of the coldest areas through which I walked - you can see that the snow had not melted here as it had elsewhere.

It was in this park that one of the battles was fought during the war of 1918 which is referred to either as the "Civil War" or the "War of Independence", depending on your point of view. The Whites were the Government troops, fighting for a monarchy against the Reds who were backed by the Russians. The Whites won and installed a German monarch (Friedrich Karl, Prince of Hessen) but the German monarchy collapsed within weeks as the Germans lost World War I and a republican model of government was instituted.

Along the fashionable shopping streets, there is much evidence of the influence of Finland's own designers. I was told that one of the labels for the young and trendy is Marimekko:

Visit to Helsinki

I was off early on Monday morning to Heathrow airport for a flight with Finnair to Helsinki where I am visiting the Schola Sancti Gregorii Magni.

The Wikipedia article on the Roman Catholicism in Finland estimates the number of Catholics in Finland as about 7000 although local sources here indicate that it is probably nearer 10,000. Nevertheless, Finland is still the European country with the smallest proportion of Catholics. The majority of the population, about 84%, declare themselves to be Lutherans but the rate of practice is very low. Reading the page Churches and religions in Finland, I was astonished to find that it was only with the 1923 Freedom of Religion law that a Finn was officially allowed to be Catholic.

The whole of Finland is one diocese, centred on the Cathedral of St Henry in Helsinki. In recent years, the Society of the Sacred Heart from Poland have had a strong presence in Finland and the Bishop is Bishop Józef Wróbel SCJ. Here you can read his excellent sermon for Lent.

Yesterday evening I celebrated a low Mass at the Cathedral (pictured above); afterwards I gave a talk on the English Martyrs which generated much interest and some good questions. This evening, I am celebrating a Missa Cantata at the Cathedral and then joining the family of one of Marko Tervaportti for dinner. Fortunately, by doing some background reading beforehand, I was up to speed with some basic information about Finland and have been able to learn more during my brief visit. I do recommend a visit - although I will only be able to see a little of Helsinki, Finland is a beautiful country and most welcoming to visitors. Everybody seems to be able (and willing) to speak English although I am determined not to return home without a little of the language.

I have had time today to walk around central Helsinki and take some photos. I'll post a few more after I have had lunch.) As you may know, Lapland, in the northern part of Finland has many reindeer. I was very tempted by this offer of some sautéed:

Friday, 21 March 2008

The Triduum so far ...

... has been going very well, Deo Gratias. On the evening of Maundy Thursday, I washed the feet of twelve good men and true, and celebrated Mass ad orientem with the choir singing some beautiful pieces in both Latin and English. For the procession to the altar of repose (beautifully decorated by the sacristy team), we had two thurifers walking backwards, incensing the Blessed Sacrament. My alert deacon prevented one of them from hitting a pillar on the way round. Some young people asked me whether we could have watching before the Blessed Sacrament late at night on another occasion in the year. (Erm, let me think. Yes!)

Children's Stations of the Cross were well attended this morning and I hope that lots of indulgences were gained there - I explained about indulgences in a short homily at the end. Traditional Stations also well attended and lots of confessions afterwards - as there were during the watching last night. I was delighted that the queues were probably at least half composed of young people under 21.

Looking forward to the Easter Vigil...

Good Friday vestments

Shawn Tribe has a good post discussing the colour of vestments for Good Friday. (NLM: Red vestments, Black vestments; Two Liturgical Forms, Two Liturgical Colours)

Today in my parish, we had the Good Friday Liturgy in the ordinary form using red vestments as prescribed. I have two deacons and therefore we used our red High Mass vestments: a magnificent 19th century French set which are ideal for Pentecost or for Confirmations - or indeed for a solemn celebration of the feast of a martyr. They are not really suited to Good Friday.

I see that the Holy Father had the same dilemma today. Mgr Marini has dug out a wonderful set of red Roman vestments and it is great to see Roman vestments being used more and more for papal liturgies - but surely these ones would be better suited for a more joyful occasion?

I agree with Shawn's suggestion that black should, at the very least, be restored as an option for Good Friday.

More contraception the answer to repeat abortions?

The other day, Mark Pritchard MP received a written answer from Dawn Primarolo to his question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many women in England had more than (a) four, (b) five, (c) six and (d) seven abortions by the end of 2006.
Here is the answer from Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo. There is a follow-up article in the Telegraph and a piece on the BBC website. The article in the Daily Mail gives most in the way of analysis of the figures: 1,300 women have had at least FIVE abortions.

In response to these appalling figures, the Department for Health obsessively sticks to the party line of "more and better contraception." They say:
"Women who have undergone abortion are at risk of future unintended pregnancies, and represent an important group with unmet contraceptive needs.

Future contraception should be discussed, and supplies offered, before a woman is discharged following abortion."
As if women are not already offered contraceptive advice when they present for an abortion! Pregnant young woman are hectored with contraceptive advice the moment they find their way anywhere near the health service. I have come across several disturbing cases recently which could quite properly be described as bullying in which women who have no desire to use contraceptives are hectored by the doctor or practice nurse for being "irresponsible." We also know that groups offering help to women in crisis pregnancies report that the majority are already using one or more forms of contraception. Whatever is at the root of this heartbreaking story, it is not "unmet contraceptive needs."

Labour MP Chris McCaffery said:
"The simple equation is that poor contraception services equal more rates of abortion, including repeat ones."
No, the simple equation is that more contraceptive services leads to more abortions, (and more STIs) because of the encouragement of irresponsible sexual activity. The "typical use" failure rate (i.e. rate of unintended pregnancies per year) of 8% for the Pill and 15% for the condom is quoted by sources sympathetic to the promotion of contraception. See for example, the table at Contraceptive Information Resource. That tells you all you really need to know about why promoting "risk free" contraceptive sex leads to abortion as a stopgap.

Our very own FPA gives figures for "Contraceptive methods with user failure" - but they give the figures for when they are "used according to instructions" i.e. when there is no user failure. The use of these completely unrealistic figures helps to explain why young women are fooled into a false sense of security.

The more interesting question is why the Department of Health doggedly persists in its current utterly discredited policy. Apparently, they are going to spend another £26.8 million of our money in 2008-2009 on the same approach.

I thought it was an appropriate day to write about this as we meditate on the Passion and Death of Christ offered up for our sins. Those include our sins of omission for failing to give adequate witness to the truth of the teaching of Humanae Vitae. Please remember in your prayers all those who have had an abortion, those who have co-operated by encouragement or by silence, and those who are in a crisis pregnancy now.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Chrism Mass

Southwark Diocese still has the Chrism Mass on the proper day so it was a chance to catch up with some priest friends today before the Mass. The priests were all given a prayer card with Our Lady of Trust and a quotation from Pope Benedict's address at the Major Roman Seminary. (see the post "Look at your Mother and do not be afraid")

To be honest, I do not really enjoy the Mass itself and regard it as something of a penance at the end of Lent. As with many large concelebrations, I could not actually see the altar, let alone the bread and wine I was supposed to be consecrating. There was a CCTV monitor but if that counts, I might as well concelebrate with the Pope via EWTN. I wonder whether the current time of liturgical rethinking might be a good opportunity to explore the possibility of attending in choro. I think that many clergy (not necessarily only "traditionalists") might be in favour of having the option to do so. You might argue that we do have the option de iure but it's best to try to get agreement.

The music is always a pot pourri of styles - "The Church's One Foundation", the "Lourdes Gloria", bits of David Haas, Marty Haugen's Mass of Creation etc. Oddly, Anne Quigley's "Jesus Lamb of God..." was executed with the Agnus Dei from Mass XVIII being sung in the background. The low point was a hymn after Holy Communion by Marty Haugen which began "Thanks be to God when people care" and then morphed into a hearty rendition of "We will overcome". I found it really quite bizarre.

It struck me after Mass that whereas these complaints might be dismissed as personal gripes of a grumpy traditionalist, we did not in fact do what the Novus Ordo liturgists are constantly urging, namely sing the texts of the Mass. The Introit is:
Jesus Christ has made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father: glory and kingship be his for ever and ever. Amen.
and the communion is:
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
but neither of these actually featured as sung texts.

Although the Cathedral authorities make a generous provision of hot food, they can only cater for the clergy (quite understandably) and I usually arrange to meet some of the laity after Mass. A few of us repaired to the Three Stags pub afterwards which has had the benefit of an overhaul since last year. Pubs, like Churches, can get wreckovated by these well-meaning makeovers but this one seems to have been improved.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Restoration in Rome

Fr Sean Finnegan (Valle Adurni) reports on a visit from the Heralds of the Gospel who gave an afternoon of recollection in his parish with a pro-life theme. The post includes and interesting snippet of talk from the Roman scene:
They told me that the rector of their church in Trastervere, Rome, one Mgr Angelo di Pasquale, a man who served under all the Popes since Pius XII at various liturgical functions, is much in demand at the Vatican for his memories of how papal ceremonies ought to be performed. We have all suspected that there was a clear agenda of restoration afoot; apparently there is a group of clerics who are officially but quietly planning and carefully steering it; there is a lot more to come! Others known to be involved closely in this group are Mgr Paccanelli, the Ceremoniere of St Mary Major, a Fr Sciacca, a senior official in the Roman Angelicum University and, of course, Mgr Georg Gänswein, the Holy Father's secretary.
It is very important to garner information and first hand experience from people who lived with the older form of the various rites while this is still possible. It is good to hear that this is being taken seriously in Rome.

Cardinal Zen's meditations for Good Friday

This year, the meditations for the Via Crucis at the Colosseum have been written by Cardinal Zen, the Bishop of Hong Kong. The Stations offer reflections on different moments in the passion of Our Lord but they do not correspond to the standard set that we usually have in Churches.

The meditations are illustrated by Chinese style pictures from the Archive of the General House of the Society of the Divine Word. The texts on the Vatican website are in Italian: I am sure these will all be translated in due course but here is one example.
Sixth Station
Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

From the Gospel according to Mark 15, 15b.17-19

Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 And they struck his head with a reed, and spat upon him, and they knelt down in homage to him.

The scourging in use at that time was a terrifying punishment. The ghastly flagellum of the Romans tore the flesh to shreds. And the crown of thorns, as well as causing acute pain, also made a mockery of the kingship of the divine Prisoner as did the spitting and blows.

Fearsome tortures continue to emerge from the cruelty of the human heart - the psychological kind are not less tormenting than those that are physical - and the victims themselves often become the executioners. Are these sufferings without meaning?

No. Jesus, it is You who continue to accept and to sanctify all sufferings: those of the sick, of those who die of hardship, of all those who are discriminated against; but the sufferings which shine out among all these are those undergone for Your name.

Bless your Church through the sufferings of the martyrs; may their blood become the seed of new Christians. We firmly believe that even if they seem at the time to be completely defeated, their sufferings, will carry the true victory to your Church. O Lord, give constancy to our persecuted brothers.
H/T to Fr Z for the link.

New blog on HFE bill - link

Sorry, when I posted on the new blog about the HFE bill, I forgot to put in the link. Here it is: STAND UP- Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Transcript of bullying session

I wrote a post last week called Bishop O'Donoghue stands up to the school bullies. You can now read the transcript of the session. I don't think that my description was in any way exaggerated.

The one dissenting voice among the members of the Committee was Douglas Carswell, a member of the Cornerstone Group. He rather hit the nail on the head with one question he managed to get in to Bishop O'Donoghue:
Q266 Mr. Carswell: You have been subjected to some pretty full-on questioning, some of which has had a secular tone. Would you be subjected to questioning about the values that you impart to your pupils if you ran a Muslim school?

The Genius of Womanhood

"The Human Person" series comprises three books, one on the Theology of the Body, one on Manhood and a new book, just published, on "The Genius of Womanhood". It is written by Karen Doyle, the Australian Catholic author and co-founder of Choicez Media. Here's a video where Karen introduces the book:

Abortion campaign in Europe

John Smeaton has drawn attention to a worrying development in the "Council of Europe" with a new report calling on all European countries to remove all restrictions on abortion. He urges us all to write to our European Assembly member. See Help stop Europe-wide abortion campaign.

New blog on HFE bill

Niamh has started a blog to give information about the Human and Fertilisation and Embryology bill. (STAND UP- Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill) She says:
It has arisen from a campaign that I did with Fr Julian Green in the South Birmingham deanery for which I spent many hours digesting all the facts on the bill and regurgitating them so that the average person would be able to understand.
Lots of good info already there including advice on how to write to your MP.

Gregorian chant in Glasgow

My good friend Fr Gerard Byrne says a Latin (novus ordo) Mass every Sunday at 4pm in the beautiful late Victorian gothic Church of St Patrick's, Anderston in Glasgow. The Mass is a model of good practice for the ordinary form of the Roman rite - celebrated ad orientem, with the parts of the Mass all properly sung in Latin.

A small schola sings the parts of the Mass. Once a month, they sing the full chants from the Graduale Romanum and on the other Sundays, they use the Graduale Simplex. New members for the schola would be warmly welcomed. This would be a good opportunity if you would like to learn to sing Gregorian chant. The practice each week is on Wednesday evening from 7.30-9.30pm. Contact email is:

Monday, 17 March 2008

Abortion and mental health

The Daily Mail reports today on a statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists which points out that the risk of mental health problems from pregnancy should be balanced by a consideration of the risk of mental health problems following abortion. They also give an important reminder that the principle of "informed consent" is undermined if women's mental health is not good and there is no adequate care. (See: Woman 'should have abortions blocked' until mental illness risks are known)

This important statement undermined the most common ground for abortion in England which relies on danger to the mental health of the mother if the pregnancy is continued. As we have known for some time, the mental health of the mother can be adversely affected by abortion, especially if this is a decision taken under pressure from medical health professionals.

Relevant to this is a letter to the Times of 27 October 2006 from psychiatrists also drawing attention to research that indicates that doctors should warn of long term adverse psychological consequences of abortion. (See: Risks of abortion)

Declaration of interest: my sister and a parishioner are signatories of this letter, I am proud to say.

Our whole difficulty today...

... is not knowing Latin. A gem for fans of Reggie everywhere:

Weekday readers

There is a fairly obvious pattern here. Roughly 200 of you read this blog only on Monday to Friday. I hope I'm not responsible for too much lost productivity or late essays :-)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Papal Liturgy today

Catholic blogs round the world have been rejoicing at yet another notching up of gravitas in the papal liturgy for Palm Sunday today. So I took a little trip over to the Papa Ratzinger forum to get a good photo. They never let you down on things like this...

The Cardinal Deacons in dalmatics are obviously now a permanently restored feature of the Papal Liturgy. I wonder if that rather fine cross is here to stay?

"The Wisdom of Nazareth"

Family Publications recently sent me "The Wisdom of Nazareth. Stories of Catholic Family Life" selected and edited by Sr Crucis Beards FMDM and Anna Schafer, with a foreword by Lord Alton and an introduction by Michael O'Brien. The book is published by Family Publications jointly with the Centre for Marriage and Family at the Maryvale Institute. (205pp soft cover, sewn.)

This is an inspiring and heart-warming collection of down to earth stories from mothers and fathers. They tell of everyday family life and faith, of surprises, unexpected opportunities, and particular moments of grace. Families life has been undermined in various ways in our society today; this can put a lot of pressure on parents trying their best to live out the vocation of marriage in their love for each other and for their children. This positive and uplifting book will be welcomed by mothers and fathers as an antidote to the sneering and negative message so often given in the media. The Maryvale institute has done a great service to families by collecting these stories together.

Family Publications has established a consistently high standard of production for its books and this is no exception. The cover picture depicting the Presentation is by Michael O'Brien.

(The website for Family publications, seems to be down at the moment. But you can order the book via the Amazon link above.)

Chrism Mass - support for priests

For the past five years, Mulier Fortis has organised a group of women and girls to hand out holy cards to the priests processing into St George's Cathedral on Maundy Thursday for the Chrism Mass, to thank the priests for their work and assure them of the prayers of women from the diocese. There used to be a group of feminists protesting outside in favour of the ordination of women and I know that many of my colleagues were very pleased to see such a "counter demo" from women - although as Mac points out, it is not really a demo, just an expression of support for priests.

The prayer cards for this year include text from the Holy Father's address to the Roman Major Seminary in February this year and the picture is the one of Our Lady of Trust which the Holy Father referred to in his address.

They will be meeting outside the Cathedral at 10.45am. The Mass starts at 11.15am. Gathering afterwards in the Three Stags pub from about 1.15pm.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

"Faith schools" grilling - see for yourself

You can watch the session of the Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families at this link on Parliament Live TV

If you watch the video through, you can see how Barry Sheerman bowls gentle questions to those who think that "faith schools" discriminate against poorer pupils and then various bouncers at the Church representatives.

The Independent has spun the story round into an attack on the Bishop: Ban anti-Catholic books in schools, says bishop

When grilled about not wanting to allow anti-Catholic books in Catholic school libraries, the Bishop quite reasonably pointed out that everyone would ban some books - for example books denying the holocaust. In the hands of the Independent, this becomes
A Roman Catholic bishop has likened books which criticise the teachings of the Church to works that deny the Holocaust took place.
of course he did no such thing: this is simply misdirection in response to an unanswerable argument.

Oh, and by the way, for many of you reading this blog who will be interested in such matters: I have been contacted by two priests of the diocese who tell me that Bishop O'Donoghue issued an exemplary statement on the Motu Proprio and the TLM is celebrated regularly each month in the Cathedral by the Cathedral Dean. He also appointed the thoroughly orthodox Fr Luiz Ruscillo to head up the diocesan education department.

I'm sure it is not too late to start a book on him at Paddy Power for Westminster. He would be a better bet than a certain "Fr Tim Finigan" who is ludicrously quoted at 10-1. ROFL

Sermon at St Mary's Ryde

I am very grateful to Peter Clarke for this Photo and for his summary of my sermon at Mass yesterday at St Mary’s Church, Ryde:
In his sermon at Mass Father reminded the congregation that we commemorated the seven sorrows of Mary. It reminds us that, like ourselves, Mary had sorrows and tribulations in her life as well as joys and happiness. Father mentioned someone he knew with a severe illness, who knew that death was imminent. He sought to strengthen his faith by coming to daily Mass, and to prepare himself for death and to meet his Maker. Mary shares in many of the sorrows with which we can identify; bereavement, especially, like her, losing a son. Parents often find heartache when their children lapse and lose their faith.

We must remember that at Mass we offer ourselves in union with the Divine Victim. It is at Mass that we can associate ourselves with Our Lady who stood at the foot of the Cross and witness the agony of her Son. She offered her own life in union with her Son and in this way she was a Co- Redemptrix for our salvation.

It is therefore important that we appreciate what is really happening in the Mass. Our understanding can be clouded in the jobs that we sometimes do (e.g. readers, offertory, ministers etc). There is the tendency to think that the Mass is a communal gathering of the faithful. It is far more. It is the participation with the priest in the perfect sacrifice of Christ for our salvation. For this we should prepare ourselves before and give thanks to Almighty God afterwards. This must therefore curtail any noise and chatter in the Church. We should be talking to God rather than our neighbour in the pew.

Let us remember that our participation in the Mass is based upon the four ends for which our Blessed Lord offered the sacrifice of His life for our salvation:
  • To give due adoration and praise to God the Father.
  • To give Him thanks for the graces that we have received.
  • To ask for forgiveness for our sins.
  • To ask for the graces that we need to perseverance in our Faith and in our Catholic life.
In the Liturgy, we are never "going back" but always looking forward to the New Jerusalem, the worship of the heavenly city at which we are present when we participate in Holy Mass.

Cardinal Hoyos to visit England

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos will be coming to England to celebrate Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 14 June 2008 at 2pm.

Cardinal Hoyos is the President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission in Rome, charged with oversight of the Vatican’s relations with the religious communities and laity committed to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The Cardinal will give and address at the AGM of the Latin Mass Society in the morning. For the Pontifical Mass, he will be welcomed at the west door of the Cathedral in cappa magna before processing to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to pray; he will then vest in the sanctuary whilst the Cathedral choir sings. Pontifical High Mass will then be celebrated at the High Altar with all the awesome ceremony and music integral to the Traditional Rite.

Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the LMS, said,
“This is the highlight of the LMS’s 43 years of struggle on behalf of the Traditional Latin Rite. It will be the first time since the liturgical changes of 1969 that a Cardinal will have celebrated the Extraordinary Form in Westminster Cathedral [Note: Cardinal Alfons Stickler, Vatican Librarian Emeritus who died in December last year, presided at a High Mass in the Cathedral organised by the LMS in 1992 but did not celebrate]. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has been unstinting in his work on behalf of the Extraordinary Form and this Mass is a clear signal from Rome that it wants the Traditional Rite reinserted into the heart of the Church’s liturgical activity. We are extremely grateful to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor for readily agreeing to this Mass and to Mgr Mark Langham, the Cathedral Administrator, and all his staff for their help with all the arrangements. This Mass literally represents the prayers of many thousands of LMS members and supporters offered up through the years and now come true.”
Do put the date in your diary - it is important that the Cathedral should be packed for this historic event.

Gratia ad robur

The photo shows a few of the young people from Blackfen who received the Sacrament of Confirmation administered by Bishop Patrick Lynch on Thursday evening. This is a always a delightful celebration with the young people being a real credit to their families and friends. Everything went smoothly and Bishop Pat spent a good time in the Hall meeting the various families despite having had a very busy day beforehand.

The grace of confirmation was often distinguished as a "gratia ad robur" (grace for strengthening) so please say a prayer that these young people will remain strong in their faith and Catholic life.

Back from Portsmouth

I took this photo on the beach at Bembridge this morning during a short walk after breakfast. Yesterday, I travelled to the Isle of Wight to say Mass at St Mary's, Ryde. Afterwards, thirteen of us went to a restaurant in Bembridge for a strictly fish meal and a good chinwag. The Latin Mass Society is thriving on the Island and the members are fully involved in their parish.

This morning, after breakfast and my beach walk, I crossed the Solent with a number of LMS members to go to St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth to give a Day of Recollection for the Portsmouth Latin Mass Society. It was a pleasant inconvenience for the organisers to have to put out more chairs in the Hall because the numbers were greater than expected. I spoke about the sacrifice of Christ, the sacrifice of the Mass and our participation in the Mass. (Sorry - I was speaking for various notes and do not have a text to post.)

The Cathedral is well kept and vastly improved from what I remember from my visit in the late 1970s. I was pleased to meet the Cathedral Dean, Canon David Hopgood, who was a few years ahead of me at Wonersh when I started there in 1976.

The journey back was not too bad. I just missed the worst of the fall-out from the Portsmouth-Villa game and managed to catch up with the breviary on the way home.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Bishop O'Donoghue stands up to the school bullies

See John Smeaton's post today (Bishop stands up under fire) for a summary of Bishop O'Donoghue's treatment at the hands of the House of Commons Select Committee for Children, Schools and Families.

The Committee Chairman, Barry "faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith" Sheerman took the opportunity in the course of questioning to refer contemptuously to Pope Benedict as the "present occupant of the Vatican"

This morning was an "oral Evidence Session" concerning Diversity of School Provision: Faith Schools. The stated purpose of the meeting of this committee which was established less than five months ago was to examine faith schools and their place within the school system. Suddenly there is talk all over the place about "faith schools" (ours are Church schools, actually) choosing pupils on the basis of social status or academic ability. This is nonsense: those of our schools that are over-subscribed have quite a hard time applying their admissions criteria fairly and are under constant scrutiny from appeal hearings and complaints to the ombudsman. Of course they make mistakes from time to time but not through any attempt to select by ability.

In fact, most dioceses long ago went in hook line and sinker for the comprehensive system, changing many excellent Catholic grammar schools in the process. Some of us might debate the wisdom of that policy but it certainly belies any accusation of social or academic selection.

This latest flurry of concern about selection is simply a convenient excuse for an attack on the Church's role in education. Congratulations to Bishop O'Donoghue for standing up against it and for asserting the right of Catholic schools not to support anti-life charities.

The Lancaster diocese policy document Fit for Mission - schools is now available from the CTS (80pp, A4, £6.95)

A Christian strategy for the London Mayoral election

On 1 May this year, London holds its elections for Mayor and for the London Assembly. George Hargreaves and the Christian Party have plans to make an impact. Alan Craig is standing on a joint ticket for the Christian Party and the Christian People's Alliance. I was delighted to hear that Canning Town South ward of Newham council is represented by three CPA councillors. Apparently some of the majority Labour members have taken to quoting the bible in their arguments: not something commonly associated with politics in Britain.

Over dinner, George outlined the Christian Party's strategy for the mayoral and assembly elections. The voting system for these is more complicated than usual for elections in Britain. The mayoral election has a "supplementary vote" system whereby the voter has two choices. If there is no clear majority on of first choices, the top two go through and the second choice votes for the others are then counted. The Christian Party will be focussing on encouraging Christians who do not normally vote to go out to the booths and vote Christian. They have a good team of experienced volunteers to co-ordinate phone canvassing, leafleting, mailing and rallies. Since they are likely to get out a sizeable number of people who previously did not vote, the major candidates need to be interested if only to sweep up their second choices.

Voting for the London Assembly, we have one vote for a local candidate and one for a London wide candidate. In a form of proportional representation, candidates may be elected from the London wide "top up" list if they gain a certain proportion of the vote.

Along with his pro-life, pro-family policies, and promoting Christian social policy, Alan Craig has long been an opponent of the proposed Olympics Mega Mosque in West Ham on the grounds that Alan Craigs' Campaign for London '08 reports that he has received support in this from leading Muslim figures. The mosque is proposed by Tablighi Jamaat which Craig describes as
... a global and ambitious organisation with a secretive, separatist nature. Its narrow medieval form of Deobandi Islam is deliberately hostile to the modern and open democratic societies of the West. Its frequent claims to be non-political and non-violent are at best a superficial cloak that hides a deeper agenda."
Known adherents to Tablighi Jamaat include Glasgow airport bomber Kafeel Ahmed, shoe bomber Richard Reid and the July 7 London bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer.

It was good to meet a number of the activists who will be supporting Alan's campaign and those standing for the London Assembly. I shall be following all this and George Hargreaves (below, centre) closely.

Global warming dissent

Christopher Booker had an article in the Telegraph recently, reporting on a major conference which questioned the consensus on global warming. (Climate dissent grows hotter as chill deepens). He refers to an interesting blog by Anthony Watts: Watts up with that. Booker comments that last year, Watts forced Nasa's Goddard Institute to correct a fundamental error in its data on US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s but the 1930s.

Watts is a meteorologist who promotes energy saving and alternative energy generation and puts this into practice with a solar array on his own home. It's just that he wants to look at the figures responsibly - and has the expertise to do so.

The picture is from the blizzard of the last week which reached as far south as Texas and Arkansas.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Pluscarden video

Thanks to Vocation Station whose "hermit without a permit" alerted me to this video from Pluscarden Abbey which features Fr Augustine and Abbot Hugh.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Meeting George Hargreaves

Just over a year ago, I posted an item (Disco hit generates pro-life funds) about Rev George Hargreaves who publicly repudiated his former way of life and ploughs the profits that continue to come in from the 1985 song "So Macho" into "Operation Christian Vote", a party that opposes abortion, human embryo research and euthanasia. He also initiated a high-profile case against "Jerry Springer - The Opera."

I will be meeting Rev Hargreaves this evening and it will be interesting to hear the latest ideas from this pro-life and pro-family campaigner.

Talk at Ealing Abbey parish tomorrow

Tomorrow evening, I will be at Ealing Abbey parish to speak on the subject of "Christ the Unique and Universal Saviour - as outlined in Dominus Iesus." This is the last in a series of Lenten talks and will take place at 8pm in the Abbey Hall. All are welcome.

I will examine how Dominus Iesus affirms that the salvific will of the Triune God is accomplished once and for all in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I will explore what it means to call Christ our Saviour and Redeemer and why the Church has affirmed the uniqueness and universality of salvation in Christ. I will also consider what the Church's teaching implies for our dialogue with people of other faiths and none.

After Asceticism review - link for students

My review of After Asceticism for Faith Magazine was mentioned today and a couple of students were looking for it. It is in the print edition of Faith Magazine for Jan-Feb 2008 and can be found at the Faith website here.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Two views of a subject

Commenting on my recent post about the Statue of Galileo, Edmund posted a couple of links. Although the story is from last December, the spin is so breathtaking that it is worth posting even now.

First, the story from Catholic World News: Vatican astronomers to move to bigger, more modern facilities. Basically, the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo is a beautiful historic building but a bit cold in winter and the facilities for people staying are not up to scratch. At the same time, more room is needed at the Apostolic Palace for visiting dignitaries. So there is going to be a brand spanking new facility built in the gardens - and everyone is happy.
The Vatican astronomers' new facilities will cover two stories with residences on one floor and, on the bottom floor, brand new offices, laboratories, a museum, a library, a large classroom for their summer school program and additional space for the summer students' use.
So how could we spin this? How about "Science bows to theology as the Pope dismantles Vatican observatory" with the opening paragraph:
Science is to make way for diplomacy at the Pope's summer residence, with the dismantling of the astronomical observatory that has been part of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, for more than 75 years. The Pope needs more room to receive diplomats so the telescopes have to go.
In fact, the telescopes are not going anywhere - the astronomers will still have access to them. The Indie does actually quote various of the people actually involved who flatly contradict the idea that the astronomers are being "evicted" to a "disused convent" (it is being refurbished, obviously.) However, the facts are not allowed to get in the way of the story of Pope Benedict's supposed rejection of science. It all goes to show that if you do not even have the facts to support manufactured outrage, you can spin some to fit.

In other news: the British Government is proposing to axe "the annual £2.5m public funding for "e-Merlin" - an upgrade to the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network between the UK's seven radio telescopes." The scientists involved there say that this will destroy Britain's leading role in radio astronomy. Simon Garrington, head of the Merlin project, said:
"It would be an enormous blow if it came to pass. It would mean a complete withdrawal from observational radio astronomy in the UK. Merlin is the UK's national radio astronomy facility. It's unique."
As the Times reports, the fate of Jodrell Bank is linked with that of e-Merlin.

The truth of the matter is that the Catholic Church continues to patronise and promote the natural sciences while secular governments become willing to put scientific research at risk. This is no coincidence. The Church is concerned with the search for truth. Secular governments increasingly see this as irrelevant.

A new Southwark priest blog

Fr Stephen Fisher, canon lawyer and parish priest of the Church of Saints Ethelbert and Gertrude in Ramsgate, has started a blog called Semper eadem. Regarding Summorum Pontificum, he writes "We have certainly taken advantage of the new situation here in Ramsgate." Canadians will be interested in his photos of Vimy Ridge - which he can easily get to on a day off. Fr Fisher has used the wording from the "Disclaimer (of sorts)" in my sidebar, hoping that I don't mind. Not at all - given his legal expertise, I regard this it a compliment.

St John Fisher's cell

After speaking about St John Fisher on Thursday, I was delighted to see that Fr Richard Aladics has posted some photos from the bell tower after a pilgrimage to the Tower of London in honour of the English Martyrs. The above photo is of St John Fisher's cell. He also has photos of the cell occupied by St Thomas More and of the group visiting the crypt at Tyburn Convent. See Friends with Christ: A pilgrimage of grace.

Where are the men in white coats when you need them?

The Catholic Herald this week has gone big on the story of the SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson's anti-semitism and the failure of the SSPX to distance themselves from his views. (Lefebvrists face crisis as bishop is exposed as ‘dangerous’ anti-Semite) Damien Thompson has also posted an item on his blog about the story: Bishop: Jews planning world domination

I wasted some time reading the comments. At one point, Damien himself intervened with the observation "Ye gods! this thread is drivel." (He was quite right.) Somehow conspiracy theorists of the world have united to post irrefutable proof on his blog (particularly YouTube video links and lists of other links) absolutely definitely showing that the CIA or someone blew up the towers themselves on 9/11. This confluence of comments can surely be no coincidence. The gathering of these conspiratorial theorists all of a sudden is, to my mind, irrefutable and unanswerable evidence that there is a conspiracy of conspiracy theorists intent on world domination and Damien's Holy Smoke has clearly got in their way. They are obviously further inflamed by Damien's robust line on Counterknowledge. It's all very sinister. I blame the masons, myself.

In the midst of all this, someone has started an amusing spin-off blog called The Wit and Wisdom of Richard Williamson which will save searching the internet for key quotes.

Postscript: the Williamson blog has now been discontinued.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Let's smash this old chestnut once and for all

The old chestnut I am referring to is the unbelievably silly interpretation of the rubric of the new Missal (older version) which said that, by tradition, the Church does not "celebrate the sacraments" on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Anyone with an ounce of sense and not infected with the daftest kind of positivism regarding liturgical law simply presumed that this did not intend to prohibit the longstanding custom of hearing confessions on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. If any support were needed, the press pictures of the Pope of Rome sitting in the confessional on Good Friday every year might just count for something?

Just to make things absolutely clear, the 2000 edition of the Missal adds in the clause "except for penance and the anointing of the sick." Fr Z also has the reference to a clarification from Rome on the matter as long ago as 1977. (See: Just to be clear, Confessions on Good Friday are NOT forbidden…. duh!)

31 years after that clarification and 8 years after the publication of the newer new Missal with the shiny new idiot-proof rubric, Fr Z reports that some priests, liturgical experts and even diocesan liturgy offices still believe that the rubrics of the Missal forbid confessions on Good Friday.

Statue of Galileo

CNA has reported that a statue of Galileo is to be erected in the Vatican gardens. It is good to see that the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has commented that it is appropriate for such a statue to be erected in the Vatican because Galileo was one of the founders of the Lincean Academy. This body has had a rather chequered history but it is not unreasonable for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to claim a link with it.

I rather like this idea: it fits in well with Pope Benedict's approach to the secularists. Of course, people will still bash on ignorantly about the Galileo affair but now they will have a new and inconvenient obstacle to the perpetuation of this portion of the black legend. Dramatic documentaries will have to include a new clip with the soundtrack probably something along the lines of "Surprisingly, in the Vatican Gardens, there is actually a statue of the man who was [tortured, persecuted ... fill in the blanks] by the Catholic Church." The plan for the statue is particularly apt in the wake of the controversy with La Sapienza university and the seeming inability of a number of lecturers there to understand that quoting a point of view on a subject does not commit the speaker to espousing that point of view - especially when it is quoted to illustrate a contrast with another point of view. (The problem, of course, is that if somebody does not understand that, they are unlikely to understand anyone explaining it to them.)

The Galileo affair is a great subject for bringing up inconvenient facts that escape the attention of most media presentations. Initially in Rome, the theory of Copernicus was given much positive encouragement: he asked permission (which was granted) to dedicate his De Revolutionibus to Pope Paul III. Luther, in the meantime, described Copernicus as an imbecile who wanted to turn the art of astronomy head over heels.

It is true that many Catholics at the time rejected the Copernican theory. But it is not often pointed out that so did the forerunner of the "enlightenment", Francis Bacon, who described the theory in his Novum Organum as a fictitious idea, an invention of which rational men should rid themselves, and "utterly false". One of Bacon's reasons for opposing Galileo was perfectly just: Galileo had offered the tides as irrefutable proof of the rotation of the earth and Bacon knew that the data possessed even then did not justify Galileo's conclusion.

The proof of the heliocentric thesis had to wait until Newton's discovery of the laws of gravitation which established that because of the difference in mass, the earth could not but rotate around the sun. The stellar parallax that had to be observed was only demonstrated in 1837 by Bessel.

Another example of the confusion of the time is Galileo's polemic Il Saggiatore in which he attacked the theories of the Jesuit Orazio Grassi who maintained that comets were fiery celestial bodies. Galileo answered with withering scorn and in most people's eyes won the debate, arguing that comets were optical illusions.

Nevertheless, Galileo was undoubtedly a genius and contributed greatly to the progress of the natural sciences. As Pope Pius XII said in a 1939 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, he was one of the "most audacious heroes of research … not afraid of the stumbling blocks and the risks on the way, nor fearful of the funereal monuments." We should simply be aware that the naive idea of the Galileo affair as one of the Church versus science and rationality was never more than a convenient building block in the black legend.

Galileo also invented the eponymous thermometer. I think I might ask my good friend and colleague, Fr Stephen Dingley, whether he can organise a group of PhD scientists to issue a collective apology on behalf of their colleagues around the world for Galileo's giving inspiration to the lava lamp.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Founder's Day at the John Fisher School

Today was observed as Founder's Day at the John Fisher School in Purley where I was a pupil between 1969 and 1976. This year I was asked to be the guest speaker and to celebrate Mass. I spoke about the school hymn to St John Fisher, what it told us about our patron saint, his relevance for the needs of society today, and the inspiration of his wisdom, courage and pastoral care which makes him a good role model for young men. I even managed to include a rugby analogy, comparing St John Fisher to a small scrum-half, tackling the opposing prop forward even though all his team mates had hung back. (St John Fisher was the only bishop in England to refuse the oath of supremacy. All the others caved in to King henry VIII and took it.) At Mass, I spoke about the Chapel as a sacred place and about St John Fisher's defence of the Catholic doctrines of the real presence and the sacrifice of the Mass.

The school has a good tradition of altar serving, the boys being directed by a senior pupil who is their regular (and very competent) MC. The Choir, led by Mr Murdoch, was stunning: their rendition of Mozart's Ave Verum after Holy Communion, was flawless and interpreted with a highly disciplined use of dynamics. Not only did the choir obviously understand what they were singing, they also made possible that participation of which Pope Benedict has spoken, where a congregation can be assisted to unite themselves to the sacred action by listening to a choir singing sacred music to the glory of God.

I met the Headmaster Mr Scully for the first time today: an old boy and a former teacher at the London Oratory School, he is now in his third year at the school. I was shown round the latest building works that will result in a new library for the school, and I was able to see some fascinating photographs from the archives that I have not seen before. His promotion of the Catholic ethos of the school was shown in his enthusiasm in speaking to the boys about the purpose of the day. He spoke very kindly about this blog and so welcome to any new readers from the school.

At the end of the Mass, as is traditional at the school, we sang the school hymn to St John Fisher. I asked the Headmaster whether someone might film this on my video camera and he kindly offered to do so himself. It is a little late now but I should be able to put the video onto YouTube within a day or so.

After Mass, I joined the staff for lunch in the school Hall and had a chance to chat with Sir Dan of the Nesbitry, Mr Liddiard and several other old friends. I was delighted to hear that there is a good number of boys entered for Latin GCSE (John Fisher is a comprehensive school, not a selective school) and I met several of the classics department who were considering, not without some trepidation, taking the boys on a visit to Rome to see Fr Reginald Foster. Over lunch, we were entertained by the Choir singing the three items that they have chosen for their entry in the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year competition.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...