Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Spanish Catholics witness to the family

On Sunday, an estimated one million people turned out in the cold weather for Mass in Madrid's Plaza Colon in honour of the Holy Family.

The Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela who promoted the family and the loving upbringing of children by a mother and father married to each other. He also spoke of abortion as one of the terrible scars of our time. Before Mass, the Holy Father spoke to the crowds via a live video link from the Vatican during his Angelus address. Here is a part of what he said:
"Dear families, do not let love, openness to life, and the incomparable bonds that unite your home be corrupted. Ask this continually of the Lord, praying together, that your intentions be illuminated by faith and exalted by divine grace on the path toward holiness. In this way, with the joy of sharing everything in love, you will give the world a beautiful witness of how important the family is for the human being and for society. The Pope is by your side, asking especially of the Lord for those in each family who have the greatest needs of health, work, comfort, and companionship".
The BBC, for whom Zapatero's government is presumably on the five smileys list of Jolly Good Things, captioned the photo in their story "The Church opposes some of the Socialists' liberalising reforms." They also reported that the Government had legalised gay marriage and made divorce easier "angering some clergy". In my experience the innocent party who has been unjustly abandoned by their spouse tends to get fairly angry about it too.

I'm working on a GPRS connection at the moment so it's not easy to post lots of photos. The photo above gives some idea of the crowds. You can see more photos of the event in this gallery at

TLM in Salford Diocese

Photo: Joseph McGarraghy - Flickr

Fr Francis Wadsworth has recently been appointed as Parish Priest of St Marie's in Bury. He will also assume the pastoral care of the neighbouring parish of St Joseph and St Bede in June upon the retirement of the present Parish Priest. Please remember Father in your prayers as he takes on these responsibiities.

There will be a regular Mass at St Marie's in the usus antiquior beginning on Friday 16 January and thereafter every Friday at 7.30pm. The first Mass will be a Missa Cantata; after that it will depend on the support of singers but Father hopes to have Missa Cantata at least for the First Friday of each month.

(The Church is in Manchester Road, Bury, BL9 ODR)

Monday, 29 December 2008

Youth, St Paul and Creation

Driving 250 miles in England is considered a long journey - I suppose you guys in the US do that just to go out for lunch or something! I'm up in the part of England that inspired some of the scenery for Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings", at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire for the Faith Winter Conference on the theme of "St Paul's Vision of Creation and Salvation."

We have 200 people here mainly young students but also plenty of priests, seminarians and religious. The Conference is not a retreat but there is Mass and some of the Office each day, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and time for private prayer as well as a "Ceilidh" (Scots country dancing) and an opportunity to catch up with many friends, priestly and lay.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

John Pridmore at Blackfen

Friday 9 January, John Pridmore, former gangster, now apostolic speaker for the Catholic Church, will be coming to speak at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. talk starts at 6.30pm in the Church.

Youngsters especially invited but all are welcome. Here is a link showing how to get to Blackfen.

Pro-Life Vigil at Maidstone

The Helpers of God's Precious Infants have a Vigil at the Marie Stopes abortion facility, Brewer Street, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1RV, on Wednesday 21 January which starts at St Francis Church, Week Street with Mass at 10am.

This vigil will be led by Fr John Boyle and includes a prayerful and peaceful procession to the Marie Stopes abortion facility with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Fifteen decades of the Rosary will be said in intercession and at midday there will be a return procession with prayers.

Afterwards people meet for tea and a get together.

South Eastern Trains run a direct line from Victoria to Maidstone East Station, which is directly opposite St. Francis Church. By road you need to take the M20 and come off at Junction 6. Follow signs to Town Centre then to Maidstone East Station. There is a car park at the station and also 2 car parks in Brewer Street and 1 in Wheeler Street, both of which are accessed by Lower Boxley Well Road. The shaded areas on the map are pedestrian areas only.

Do come along if you can - or if you can't, pray along with those who are there.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Icons, cakes and mulled wine

St Stephen's Day has been a special day for me in recent years. After our Altar servers' Mass - which is always a joy - I join the community at St Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster for their "extended recreation" to celebrate Christmas. This year, we were treated to an explanation of a typical icon of the nativity. After this and a few carols, the refreshments were ready.

One of the brothers had prepared some mulled wine; there were mince pies and Indian snacks: non-meat since meat is never included in the diet there. (The flasks contain tea and coffee.) I do not get a chance to talk to most of the community through the year, only the novices and simply-professed who come to my classes, so it is a welcome opportunity to greet and talk to the more senior monks whom I only see in choir at Vespers. They all take a keen interest in what is happening in the Church and in the world, making me feel even more grateful for their prayers.

When the bell struck four, there was a quarter of an hour for me to reflect on the icon while the monks went to say the little office of Our Lady in cell before assembling in the Church for Vespers of St Stephen. On the way to my car, I caught this scene of the terminum lucis.

Juventutem Scotland

Mark has just put me on to Juventutem Scotland "promoting traditional expressions of Roman Catholicism in Scotland, in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman rite, fostering the sanctification of the youth of Scotland" which you might like to take a look at - especially if you are from north of the border and looking for news of good liturgy.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christ leads us to heaven

Here is the text of my sermon for the Christmas Masses.

The Lord said to me “You are my Son” this day have I begotten You. (Ps 2.7)

The lovely traditional carol with which we began our vigil for Christmas, “Once in royal David’s city” sings our faith in the mystery of this great feast day:
He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all.
The eternal Word of God, born of the Father before time began, is now born in human flesh of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who herself was chosen by God and preserved free from original sin to be His immaculate Mother.
The carols also tell us the purpose for which Our Lord descended in humility to be with us in human form:
And our eyes at last shall see him
through his own redeeming love,
for that child so dear and gentle
is our Lord in heaven above;
and he leads his children on
to the place where he is gone.
“His children” refers to all of us. In the presence of the Most High God, we are all children and do well to come before him in humility. “The place where he is gone” is, of course, heaven, the place from which He came. Forty days after His resurrection, on the day we celebrate as the feast of the Ascension, Christ returned to heaven, being visibly taken from the sight of the apostles.

There, in heaven, he eternally intercedes for us. The sacrifice of which he first made offering at the Last Supper, and consummated with His death on the Cross, is a prayer that never ends. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that prayer, that sacrifice, is made present on our altar through the sacred ritual offered at the hands of the priest who shares sacramentally in the ministerial priesthood of Christ, the great High Priest.

Put simply, the purpose of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas is to enable us to go to heaven. That is also the purpose of our lives, the reason we are put here. God made us to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him for ever in the next.

We do well, therefore to consider what heaven is. In a world which routinely misunderstands our faith at best and ridicules or blasphemes it at worst, we can easily have our idea of heaven obscured or trivialised. This is a great evil because it impugns one of the most important motives for living a good and holy life and exercising charity to our neighbour – even towards our enemies as Christ taught us.

Here on earth, one of the purest joys that we can experience is to see the happiness of someone that we love. This is the reason that we give gifts to each other – to make someone happy and to enjoy their happiness. In heaven, the joy of the saints is to rejoice in the perfect goodness, beauty and perfection of almighty God, to experience his joy which is infinite and overflowing – the sentence Our Lord told us would be uttered to the blessed at the last judgement is “Come, you blessed of my Father. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matt 25.21)

St Alphonsus therefore says
“Among all the acts of love to God, there is no act of love more perfect than taking delight in the infinite happiness which God enjoys. This is certainly the continual exercise of the blessed in heaven; so that he who often rejoices in the happiness of God begins in this life to do that which he hopes to do in heaven through all eternity.”
Such a prayer is the prayer of adoration from which all our other prayers properly flow. In this life, since we do not have the certainty which the saints have, of never losing the love of God, such adoration is mingled with a holy fear. We are aware of our weakness and the possibility of losing God’s grace. We are also aware of sins unexpiated which make us unworthy to be in His presence.

Our life’s work is to persevere in the grace of God, humbly asking Him to have mercy on us, to assist us to avoid sin, conquer temptation, do penance, and show generous charity to our neighbour. The beautiful feast of Christmas teaches us that there is nothing that God will not do to assist us and to bring us to heaven. He even came down from heaven to be a little child, to teach us, to found a Church to bring us the sacraments, to give himself to us in the Holy Eucharist, to suffer and die for us, and to ascend again to heaven so that we have a sure path to eternal happiness.

The salutation “Happy Christmas” is therefore filled with a great significance. We wish one another the joy of a blessed life in following Our Lord here on earth and the joy of eternal blessedness in that heaven which He came to win for us.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas

May I wish all of you, my dear readers, a very Happy Christmas. May God bless you, your families and your loved ones, and shower his graces upon you on the occasion of this great feast.

Thank you for reading the blog and thank you for your many kind and encouraging comments.

Just about on schedule...

My Christmas tree is now up - perhaps I will post a photo of this masterpiece if I get time. All presents for my family are now in order, I think, and I have even wrapped some of them. The shops seem to have agreed on a holiday for St Stephen's Day which is surely to be commended; however, I have my family coming over on Saturday so I needed to get the shopping today. Fortunately, Sainsbury's was not too crowded.

My sacristan prepared things this morning and my MCs have been in the Church since 9.30pm sorting out all the last-minute adjustments for our Midnight Mass which will be a High Mass in the usus antiquior (the Dawn and Day Masses will be English Novus Ordo.) They've borrowed an Evangeliarium, found the gold tabernacle veil, laid out the gold High Mass set and prepared a gold cushion for the Bambino Gesu. The choir have been working very hard and have a good programme of carols and motets to sing before Mass. The Church looks beautiful, decorated mainly with greenery from around the grounds, and with some flowers bought in.

I will be preaching on "Christ Who leads us to heaven" with a little help from St Alphonsus - I'll post the sermon to go up on the blog tomorrow. Blogger's recent "scheduled post" feature is useful for Christmas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Hats off to Pope Benedict

The Holy Father has neatly summed up a number of themes of interest - talking about salvation, saving the planet, gender, Humanae Vitae, that sort of stuff. He even included the rain forests! You have to take your hat off to the man: this was just part of his end of year address to the Roman Curia:
Since faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian Creed, the Church cannot and should not limit itself to transmitting to its faithful only the message of salvation. She has a responsibility for Creation, and it should validate this responsibility in public.

In so doing, it should defend not just the earth, water and air as gifts of Creation that belong to everyone. She should also protect man from destroying himself.

It is necessary to have something like an ecology of man, understood in the right sense. It is not outdated metaphysics when the Church speaks of the nature of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this natural order be respected.

This has to do with faith in the Creator and listening to the language of creation, which, if disregarded, would be man's self-destruction and therefore a destruction of God's work itself.

That which has come to be expressed and understood with the term 'gender' effectively results in man's self-emancipation from Creation (nature) and from the Creator. Man wants to do everything by himself and to decide always and exclusively about anything that concerns him personally. But this is to live against truth, to live against the Spirit Creator.

The tropical rain forests deserve our protection, yes, but man does not deserve it less as a Creature of the Spirit himself, in whom is inscribed a message that does not mean a contradiction of human freedom but its condition.

The great theologians of Scholasticism described matrimony - which is the lifelong bond between a man and a woman - as a sacrament of Creation, that the Creator himself instituted, and that Christ, without changing the message of Creation, welcomed in the story of his alliance with men.

Part of the announcement that the Church should bring to men is a testimonial for the Spirit Creator present in all of nature, but specially in the nature of man, who was created in the image of God.

One must reread the encyclical Humanae Vitae with this perspective: the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against consumer sex, the future against the exclusive claim of the moment, and human nature against manipulation.
Thanks to Teresa Benedetta of the Papa Ratzi forum for the translation.

Pius clock

A big hat tip to the Hound of Heaven for this excellent Christmas gift idea: a Pope Pius clock with all the Pius's in order from 1-12. Yes, I would very much like one - and I don't mind Christmas gifts arriving late ;-)

Teaching young people about homosexuality

Some Catholic parents have asked for my comments on this part of the coursework for the AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) Religious Education GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education - a public examination usually taken by young people in England at age 15/16.)

In the key facts section, it is stated:
The Catholic Church teaches there is nothing wrong with homosexual feelings or relationships so long as there is no sexual activity.
This inaccurate statement would help anyone to think that Catholic teaching is absurd. How could the Church say that there is "nothing wrong" with homosexual feelings but still say that homosexual activity is sinful?

In fact, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts "do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity" and that the homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered". (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357-2358)

In other words, there is indeed "something wrong" with homosexual feelings and certainly with homosexual relationships - they are "disordered". This might be a difficult concept for young people to grasp and so it could be said that homosexual feelings tend towards something that is wrong, i.e. homosexual sexual activity.

The feelings themselves may not be culpable. We all have feelings that tempt us to sin - we cannot necessarily help having these feelings although we can encourage or discourage them in various ways. What matters is how we handle our feelings and in particular how we resist the temptation to sin.

The Course Book goes on to say:
The Catholic Church believes it is sinful to criticise homosexuals or attack their behaviour.
This is also misleading. The Catholic Church teaches that people who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. (CCC 2358) This in itself shows that the Church believes that homosexuality is disordered. You do not have compassion and sensitivity for people with a condition that is itself a moral good.

We should not "criticise" someone for having particular feelings but we would criticise someone for promoting a homosexual lifestyle. We should not "attack" the behaviour of homosexuals but if it is a question of sexual activity outside of marriage, we would include such behaviour in an examination of conscience before the sacrament of Confession.

I am not at all sure that the Course Book is fair in stating that
Evangelical Protestants believe that homosexuality is sinful.
Most Evangelical Protestants that I have spoken to would accept broadly the same approach as the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this matter. They do not believe that an individual with deep seated homosexual tendencies is necessarily culpable but would agree that sex is for the procreation of children within marriage and not for self-expression in other relationships.

The book is going to have to catch up on the teaching of the Liberals. It says:
The Church of England and many liberal Protestants believe that life-long homosexual partnerships are acceptable but homosexual priests should not engage in sexual activity.
I think there are plenty of liberal Protestants now who would be perfectly happy with actively homosexual priests (or Bishops.) And it seems a little discriminatory to load this all on liberal protestants. There are plenty of liberal catholics who hold similar views.

The Course Book is used in many Catholic secondary schools in England. I hope that those who are teaching RE are familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the various documents issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that deal with this delicate subject. It might also be a good idea for Catholic teachers to ask the AQA to ensure that a more accurate presentation of the teaching of the Catholic Church is given in materials for students.

Monday, 22 December 2008

White Rose - White Flower

The other day, John Smeaton had an interesting post about the White Rose Society in Nazi Germany. (See: Join the pro-life resistance by supporting SPUC's White Flower appeal)

This group of patriotic Germans, many of whom had been in the Hitler Youth, came from various religious backgrounds. Increasingly horrified by the policies of the National Socialist Party, they distributed leaflets advocating resistance. The picture above shows Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst, who were executed in 1943. 

One influence on them was Bishop August Von Galen whose sermons attacked the Nazi euthanasia policy. The Shoah Education website gives some background on this. the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has more information and references on the non-Jewish resistance to Hitler, mentioning a recent work on Sophie Scholl which may well give more detailed information.

The Shoah Education website refers to Von Galen's sermon of 3 August 1941 which is said to have been a major influence on Sophie and Hans Scholl. In that sermon, Von Galen said:
For the past several months it has been reported that, on instructions from Berlin, patients who have been suffering for a long time from apparently incurable diseases have been forcibly removed from homes and clinics. Their relatives are later informed that the patient has died, that the body has been cremated and that the ashes may be claimed. There is little doubt that these numerous cases of unexpected death in the case of the insane are not natural, but often deliberately caused, and result from the belief that it is lawful to take away life which is unworthy of being lived.

This ghastly doctrine tries to justify the murder of blameless men and would seek to give legal sanction to the forcible killing of invalids, cripples, the incurable and the incapacitated. I have discovered that the practice here in Westphalia is to compile lists of such patients who are to be removed elsewhere as ‘unproductive citizens,’ and after a period of time put to death.
The courageous Bishop protested forcefully to the Nazi authorities but without success as the euthanasia programme descended into further depravity.

All these years later, it is apposite to compare the White Flower campaign of SPUC to the White Rose campaign of the resistance within Nazi Germany. They were working in very different times, certainly; but the parallels are most striking.

So do support the SPUC White Flower appeal in the New Year.

An honest atheist

New Advent has a very useful blog which rounds up stories from all over the place. One source often used is The Anchoress. Yesterday there was this interesting video of Penn Jillette, an American entertainer who is an avowed atheist. He tells of how a good, honest man complimented him and gave him a bible, admitting that he was proselytising. He speaks of his respect for those who proselytise, saying:
“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that?”

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Interesting details from Mgr Marini

Gregor Kollmorgen at NLM has picked up some comments made by Mgr Marini, the Master of the Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations to the Italian Catholic paper Avvenire. See: Details about the Papal Liturgies This Christmastide (Italian original: Vaticano Nella liturgia la gioia della Natività)

The note explains that there are no great novelties in the choice of vestments, just a sense of continuity and a healthy equilibrium between past and present. (There will be a Roman chasuble on the feast of the Epiphany.)

This year again, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass ad orientem in the Sistine chapel on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Mgr Marini explains:
"this means that at some points the Pope will turn towards the Crucified, thus underlining the correct orientation of the Eucharistic celebration. This is not about turning the back to the people, but about assuming the same orientation as the assembly, which precisely looks toward the Crucified."

Gearing up

The fourth Sunday of Advent is usually the day when we have our children's crib service. The children are invited to come dressed as a shepherd, an angel or a king. The catechists organise the children on the spot (no rehearsals) to come on at various points, to sing carols and to read from the scriptures. We look out during Autumn for a soon-to-be-born baby and this year, Joshua was the baby Jesus, after being baptised earlier in the day.

Some of our fine young students are home from university and can help out with things. We should have a good crew of servers for our various Masses and the choir are in very good voice. We also have a girls' choir for the early Mass, with some quite young children helped out by some very good young people.

At the Missa Cantata this morning, Ryan was MC for the first time. At ten years of age, this is no mean feat.

I have been treated to lots of very good meals and some people have reminded me of my own advice to find hidden ways to do some penance during Advent as well as finding small acts of charity that can help to keep the spirit of the penitential season in the midst of so many celebrations.

A couple of quiet days now in which I must get the booklet and carol sheets printed for the Christmas Masses. I am blessed with many good people who put in a lot of work to help get everything ready. One family even took home the crib figures to touch up the paintwork where they have been chipped here and there. The ox has also had its horn repaired.

Today I spoke especially about the prayer of adoration which is at the heart of our worship, and the reverence and holy fear, mingled with trust in the infinite love of God who humbled himself to be born among us.

Biblia Clerus

Over the past few years, the Congregation for the Clergy has quietly worked to make available a large collection of texts. It is possible to obtain a CD with these texts on or to download the whole collection to your hard drive. The collection is updated from time to time and there is a tool to update the collection on your hard drive.

The collection includes the bible, commentaries from the Fathers, various other patristic and spiritual texts, and various catechisms including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Catechism of St Pius X and the Baltimore Catechism.

The Liturgical section has the Missal of 2002 and the Missal of 1957. These are useful since although the old Missal is available on pdf, this version is a little easier to navigate through and the text a little easier to grab.

With the bible, there is a good tool provided in the "comment" button which changes the sidebar to give links from a chosen section to various patristic and magisterial texts.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Who will own the psalms?

Jeffrey Tucker has an important post today on a matter which he has consistently highlighted: copyright of liturgical texts. In this case it is the Revised Grail Psalter which is to be the official text for the psalms used in the English Liturgy in the USA. See: Grail Psalms: A Path Forward.

Way back in the 1960s, the Grail (a group of lay women in England) gave over the rights to the Grail Psalter to Harper Collins. The rights to the US revision are in the hands of GIA, also a "for profit" company. Jeffrey is spot-on when he says:
The Grail used a copyright convention at the time to retain exclusive rights to them, and they handed them over to the publishing giant HarperCollins to manage the rights. In those days, not much thought was put into the problems of treating the Mass as the “intellectual property” of a private entity. Everyone was dependent on the mainstream publishers. There was no means of digital delivery. Even photocopies were cumbersome. But all that began to change in the years ahead. Today, an infinite number of versions of any text can be delivered without degrading the integrity of the original. For a Church devoted to bringing its faith to as many as possible and a Church with a special mission to the poor, digital delivery and on-demand printing is a dream.

But the dream could not be so long as copyright conventions were obeyed. On the contrary, access to The Grail took the same route as many short-sighted private lobbying arms in the private sector. They regarded any digital copying or on-demand publishing as a mortal threat to their financial well being. Instead of celebrating the spreading of the Gospel, they treated the proliferation of sacred texts as “piracy.” This will strike anyone as a grave perversion until you consider this background and the grave choice of the Grail to copyright their works and put a corporate giant in charge.
It is important to remember that Jeffrey is not speaking here as a barrack room lawyer trying to score a point. He and others are actively engaged in providing music for the liturgy, available to anyone in the world free of charge via the internet. These apostles of liturgical music are frustrated in their work by the continuing use of outdated copyright restrictions on liturgical texts.

To be honest, I am not that keen on the Grail Psalms. They were widely touted as the bees knees in the 1960s and 70s but they are part of the mid-twentieth century enthusiasm for denigrating the Vulgate and the Septuagint in favour of returning to the poetry of the Hebrew text. The problem is that the Hebrew text is uncertain and the version that most people work from is quite a late recension.

Furthermore, the Vulgate is hallowed by centuries of spiritual and theological commentary. This link is is obscured by the free translation of the Grail which seeks to reproduce the accented rhythmic pattern of the Hebrew. In some cases, the Vulgate preserves the meaning of a text quoted in the New Testament which is altered in the Grail. For example, Psalm 115 begins:
Credidi propter quod locutus sum ego autem humiliatus sum nimis
which is translated accurately in the Douai-Rheims version as:
I have believed, therefore have I spoken; but I have been humbled exceedingly.
The Grail corrects this, taking a different view of the structure of the sentence, giving:
I trusted, even when I said "I am sorely afflicted"
However St Paul in 2 Corinthians 4.13-14 accords with the reading which is preserved in the Vulgate psalter. He wrote:
Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
Of course the poor chap had to rely on Jewish tradition as learnt in the school of Gamaliel and did not have access to mid-20th century scriptural scholarship.

Iste Confessor

In October, Bishop O'Donoghue wrote to the Catholic Caring Services, pleading with them not to capitulate to the Government's legislation on same-sex adoption but to seek an exemption under Human Rights & Religious Freedom Legislation, or failing that, attempt a legal challenge.

The bishop has now written to say:
Thursday 11 December 2008 will forever be etched in my memory, because it was on that day that the relationship between the Diocese of Lancaster and Catholic Caring Services suffered an irretrievable breakdown.
Bishop O'Donoghue has resigned from the board and spelt out the consequences of the decision of the charity to drop "Catholic" from its title and go along with the Government legislation. Among other points, the Bishop says:
With deep sadness I must declare that all churches, parishes, schools and other Catholic organisations or societies are to have no formal associations with Catholic Caring Services and the new charity is no longer entitled to have access to Diocesan Collections - The Good Shepherd (Bishop’s Fund), or the Christmas Crib collections.
The diocese will also review the terms of the leases on properties currently occupied by the charity.

Bishop O'Donoghue also says:
Though Catholic Caring Services are involved in a whole range of valuable work with the disabled, the disadvantaged and the marginalised, how can I allow the Catholic Church to be associated with a body that has chosen a path that co-operates with actions that are against the explicit moral teaching of the Church?
A new diocesan agency will support adoption and fostering by encouraging married couples to take on this great work of love. diocesan collection will support this initiative.

The Bishop candidly acknowledges that these have been some of the most difficult months of his episcopacy and thanks all those who have supported him. Please continue to support him, especially with your prayers and penances. I am sure that the good Lord will reward his courageous stand both here and hereafter.

See the full text of Bishop O'Donoghue's letter.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Hand Illuminated Altar Cards

If you need a set of Altar Cards, Breviarium Romanum now offers you a set of free copies of hand illuminated altar cards. Don't use the one above which is just a low-res example to illustrate this post. Go to the original site and download the high-res versions, prepared over six months by the mother of a priest; print them out and frame them. Suggested donation is $30 for the support of a Catholic family.

H/T New Liturgical Movement

Alcuin Reid on "Dominus Est"

This weekend's Catholic Herald carries a review by Alcuin Reid of Bishop Athanasius Schneider's book "Dominus Est" (The little book that will cause a great storm). As I reported recently, Bishop Schneider's book is now available in English. (See: Bishop Schneider on EWTN)

The review's comments on Pope Paul VI's Memoriale Domini are important in understanding the background to the widespread introduction of Communion in the hand. (See also: Memoriale Domini - a reminder)

Dr Reid closes his excellent review with some pertinent observations about the impact of the book which makes a strong case for restoring the practice of receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue:
That it will provoke a storm is unfortunate, for the practice it advocates is a practice of love and of humility, one from which no one who truly adores Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament ought to recoil.

But perhaps today some controversy is necessary. Future generations, though, may well wonder why we took so long to realise that it is, indeed, the Lord, and once again to behave accordingly.

This is 2008. Benedict XVI is the Pope. The Holy Father has himself already reformed the manner of reception of Holy Communion at the Masses he celebrates. Let us follow his example. It accords with the teaching of Pope Paul VI.

The value of Humanae Vitae and frequent confession

This weekend's Catholic Herald carries an interview given by Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton with Andrew Brown: ‘You can't talk to young people about salvation. What does that mean to them?’. There is also a news article by Mark Greaves about the interview: Bishop advises against frequent Confession.

Fully aware of the respect that is due to our Bishops, and with assurance of a sincere Memento in my Mass tomorrow morning for Bishop Conry, I hope it will not be presumptuous to offer a few comments and suggestions regarding some of the matters of which he spoke.

Speaking of Humanae Vitae, Bishop Conry said that the basic commandment to love God, and love your neighbour has been left largely unexplored. I venture to suggest that Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" does in fact address the question seriously.

The text of one part of the interview addresses the importance or otherwise of Humanae Vitae:
"Well, first of all, I would disagree that it's a key teaching. The key teachings of the Church are in the Creed. It's not a life issue." To do with the transmission of life, then? "It's to do with what family and married life means, being open to procreation. So it's not a life issue because then you tie it in with abortion. The two are completely different issues."
With the deepest respect for His Lordship's apostolic office, I feel bound to disagree. All of the pro-life organisations who work with women who have, for one reason or another, turned to abortion as a solution to a problem, agree that contraception does not prevent abortion but leads to abortion. I remember hearing a stirring lecture by Sr Roseann Reddy of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life on precisely this point. The Good Counsel Network addressed the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life earlier this year, pointing out that the vast majority of those who came to them in a "crisis pregnancy", determined upon an abortion, reported that the reason for their decision was "contraceptive failure". And of course, we know that what is often spoken of as "contraception" may work in an abortifacient manner (as in the case of the pill) or is in fact designed to do so (as in the case of so-called "emergency contraception").

As long as we fail to give the teaching of Humanae Vitae due weight, we will continue to fail those young people who are confused by the massive pressure of "sexual health services" and imagine that sexual activity can be something engaged upon without serious consequences. We also fail our married couples who are deprived of the Church's vision of "openness to life" and all its consequences for their relationship.

Although Bishop Conry does affirm that young people have a sense of sin and talks of a moving "Reconciliation Service" at Lourdes, he will surely surprise people with his answer to the question "Is it a good idea to go to Confession regularly?":
"No, because my own experience when we had Confession every day at St Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham was that regular penitents came back with exactly the same words week after week. So there you would say, actually, there is no conversion taking place."
Again, with some trepidation and, I hope, humility, I beg to differ - offering in defence of my boldness the words of Pope Benedict XVI to a course offered by the Sacred Penitentiary earlier this year:
The Lenten Season, in which we now find ourselves, reminds us that in our Christian life we must always aspire to conversion and that when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently the desire for Gospel perfection is kept alive in believers. If this constant desire is absent, the celebration of the Sacrament unfortunately risks becoming something formal that has no effect on the fabric of daily life. If, moreover, even when one is motivated by the desire to follow Jesus one does not go regularly to confession, one risks gradually slowing his or her spiritual pace to the point of increasingly weakening and ultimately perhaps even exhausting it.
Certainly, we should avoid formalism and routine in our confessions; this formalism is best avoided by frequent, devout celebration of the sacrament with due and careful preparation. We may indeed find that we confess the same sins over and over again - but as Fr John Edwards explained light-heartedly during a mission he once gave in my parish, it would not be a better confession if we had a whole set of new sins to confess.

Regarding the importance of frequent confession for priests, Pope John Paul II said:
We priests, on the basis of our personal experience, can certainly say that the more careful we are to receive the sacrament of penance and to approach it frequently and with good dispositions, the better we fulfill our own ministry as confessors and ensure that our penitents benefit from it. (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 31.6)
Speaking of the importance of frequent confession for all, the same Pope said in 2004, at a course organised by the Sacred Penitentiary:
It would be an illusion to seek after holiness, according to the vocation one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and reconciliation.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also reinforces this teaching:
Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful. (CCC 1458)
Bishop Conry also made a number of comments about Summorum Pontificum which Fr Z has discussed in his post "Catholic Herald: Bp. Conry (Arundel & Brighton) speaks out". Damien Thompson has also written about the interview in his post "Church teaching on birth control could be wrong, says English Catholic bishop". Both Fr Z and Damien speak positively about Bishop Conry as a man (decent, compassionate, open, frank) whilst disagreeing with his doctrinal views. Along with Fr Z, I would imagine that a meal with a frank discussion would make for a pleasant evening. Now wouldn't that be a good blog photo!

PS. Valle Adurni has addressed the question of how many times hell is mentioned in the New Testament. See: Point of information.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The difference between a bandwagon and a hearse

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the diocese of Canberra and Goulburn in Australia, has spoken about the problems with St Mary's in Brisbane and the charge made the Australian press that Rome is "bullying" Archbishop Bathersby into taking action against the parish. Among many abuses, perhaps the most serious is the use of an invalid baptismal formula. (See: The consequences of invalid baptisms)

The Canberra and Goulburn diocesan website has the full article which is well worth reading. Here is one quotation which embodies true Oz bluntness:
In the end, communities like St Mary’s and those who support them, fail to recognise the difference between a band-wagon and a hearse. With the best of good intentions – and no-one is attributing any of this to malice – they jump gleefully on the band-wagon of a certain relevance and inclusiveness without realising that what looks like a band-wagon into the brave, new world of the future is in fact a hearse leading to a dead end that they do not see coming. Such confusions do not help, and it is the task of the Pope and the bishops to speak with one voice in pointing the way beyond them.
H/T The Muniment Room and Sentire cum Ecclesia.

Traditional Vocations blog

The Traditional Vocations blog exists "to promote vocations to Traditional societies and religious orders using the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, including religious communities for women."

Two key posts:

Vocations and Traditional Liturgy

Traditional Monasteries & Orders with websites

Tu scendi dalle stelle

We are very fortunate in the English speaking world to have such a rich collection of Christmas carols - all the more reason to curse the ubiquitous noise pollution of Noddy Holder's "So heer id izz merry crissmuss..."

As a student in Rome, I was surprised to find out that there are not many Christmas carols in Italian that are popularly sung. In fact, the only one that seems to be sung ever is "Tu scendi dalle stelle". Nevertheless, it is by St Alphonsus Liguori and is quite charming.

I knew that it would be on YouTube but it did take a while to find a halfway decent version that did not mess about with it. Here is a version from the Portale Cattolico Italiano:

Words and translation here. H/T to Orbis Catholicus for reminding me of this carol.

(Now what I would really love to find would be a recording of "Inni e canti sciolgiamo fedeli.", a hymn to the Blessed Sacrament that Don Augusto Cecchi used to have at San Lorenzo. It is one of the most beautiful devotional hymns I have ever heard.)

Christians in Iraq, the unfashionable minority

Many thanks to Jane Teresa at My heart was restless for this important article on the general Silence on Iraqi Christians.

On Tuesday, Edward Leigh MP managed to get a slot for a debate in the House of Commons on the plight of the beleaguered and persecuted Christians in Iraq: a plight contemptuously ignored by the mainstream media. In his opening remarks, Mr Leigh explained the importance of the question:
It is important because we are talking about a massive humanitarian disaster and the fate of the Christian population in Iraq. It is one of the oldest Christian populations in the world, having been settled there for 2,000 years, and is descended in great measure from the ancient Assyrians, who had been there for thousands of years. It is an historic, settled population. Just five years ago there were 1.2 million Christians in Iraq, and now there are only 600,000 left. There has been a massive flight of Christians from Iraq and it is reckoned that although the Christian population is as low as 4 per cent., perhaps as many as 30 per cent. of the Iraqi refugees in Syria are Christians.

The terrible humanitarian disaster is continuing even as we speak. Even since September 2008, at least 14 Christians have been killed in Mosul and at least 2,000 Christian families have fled the city since 2003. It is not just about people leaving the country—at least 700 Christians have been murdered. The situation is very serious indeed.
The very sensible proposal for a 19th province around Nineveh to provide some security and protection for the Christian minority was dismissed by the Government minister Bill Rammell. It seems that ethnic cleansing is not a matter of too urgent concern if the people being beaten and killed are Christians.

Here is another powerful story from Edward Leigh which is recorded in the debate:
In a conversation with an Orthodox priest, I asked, perhaps rather naively, what would happen if somebody converted from Islam and joined his congregation. I had just attended an extraordinary, moving service at his church. The whole village turned up. These churches are entirely bare: there are no icons or ornaments. The priest gives a simple service in Aramaic, which was the language of Jesus Christ. These people are the last speakers of Aramaic.

As I said, when we were having coffee with the priest after the service, I asked, rather naively, “What would happen if somebody from the local Muslim community wished to join your church?” He said, “They could join my church today, but tomorrow they would be dead.” There was no doubt about that—it was no exaggeration. One simply cannot evangelise in Iraq or, indeed, in most Muslim countries, and if people seek to convert, they will be killed.
You can read the whole debate at Hansard. Jane googled this debate (held in the "Mother of Parliaments") on Tuesday and found nothing. There is still nothing. The mainstream media are not listening and they do not care.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Facebooking preborns

Thanks to the SPUC news service for this item. Someone has invented the "Kickbee" which will transmit signals from unborn baby to Facebook such as "I kicked Mummy at 11.38am." Although this is a striking reminder of the humanity of the unborn child and therefore important, those of us who agree anyway on the humanity of the unborn child might be able also to see that it is a little amusing as well.

It struck me that the Facebooking pre-borns need to be careful of some agencies that might foist on them the faintly Jansenist requirements of modern sacramental preparation. They could be pestered to join a Facebook group for lectionary-based pre-baptismal catechesis if they are not careful. Then I suppose us trads could counter that with subliminal recordings of the old Mass so that on birth, they could answer up "Ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam" or reach for a mantilla, depending.

See the article at Mail online.

They just don’t get it, do they?

There is a good article by Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail today (see: The Government's obsession with pushing sex education and contraception is just creating MORE teenage pregnancies). There is nothing that we have not all been saying for ages but Melanie writes up the basic points with vigour and clarity. For example:
The underlying message of providing contraception and sex education is that sexual relationships themselves for under-age children are perfectly normal and acceptable. But they are actually unlawful...

Giving the message that an activity is normal and acceptable means inevitably that yet more people will engage in that activity. Dishing out the condoms and offering children a menu of sexual techniques amounts to propaganda for sexual incontinence.

Cardinal Hinsley. Priest and Patriot

Family Publications have just published a substantial biography of Cardinal Hinsley by James Hagerty. Dr Hagerty was, until 2001 Headmaster of St Bede’s Grammar School in Bradford, which was founded by the Cardinal; he is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Over 400 pages, the book will surely be a lasting monument to one of the greatest English bishops of the twentieth century.

Hinsley’s fifty years of priesthood encompassed many and varied responsibilities, each of which might be considered a major achievement in anyone’s lifetime. He was a professor of theology at Ushaw College, the founding Headmaster of St Bede’s, Rector of the Venerable English College, Apostolic Visitor to the African colonies, and later Apostolic Delegate to co-ordinate missionary endeavours in Africa. His hopes of a peaceful retirement in Rome as a canon of St Peter’s Basilica were shattered by his appointment as Archbishop of Westminster in 1935 when he was nearly seventy.

Hagerty notes that “Hinsley’s career was never entirely free from controversy.” He changed dioceses after a disagreement with his bishop, was appointed to the Venerabile in defiance of the English and Welsh bishops, and later was to express “his frustration at the inner workings of the hierarchy”. Concerning the breadth of experience that he brought to his appointment at Westminster, Hagerty says:
“Hinsley’s vision and experience of the universal Church was far wider and greater than any possessed by an introspective English and Welsh Hierarchy weakened by years of idiosyncratic leadership, divisive disputes, and the jealous defence of Episcopal jurisdictions.”
The second world war thrust upon Hinsley the role of being a national spokesman for the Catholic Church in the face of totalitarian aggression. His love of country, a genuine example of pietas, and his international experience made him a trusted voice whose Sunday radio broadcasts reached six million listeners.

One part of the Cardinal’s life has a personal significance for me because he was Rector of the Church of Our Lady and St Philip Neri in Sydenham from 1911-1917. When I was there for a couple of years as an assistant priest in the early 1990s, there was an elderly Italian parishioner who used to speak of “Dottor’ ’Insley”. He also taught at Wonersh whilst being a parish priest – I expect that the journey down each week was more arduous than my spin round the M25.

Hagerty’s monumental and objective study of the Cardinal Hinsley’s life significantly enriches the corpus of work related to recent English Catholic history. Drawing from an impressive and well documented range of sources, the author manages to bring to life not only the character of Hinsley himself but also the impact that his strong personality had on others, particularly within the Church.

Family Publications are to be congratulated on this impressive addition to their list of titles. As we have come to expect, the book is of fine physical quality, substantially bound and printed clearly on good quality paper. The 32 plates are very well chosen, giving in themselves a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Church of the time. (List price £19.50.)

Something very English

The weather - sung in quintessentially Anglican chant. I remember singing this kind of thing for a short while at Oxford many years ago - although the words were from the Coverdale Psalter rather than the weather forecast.

H/T Orwell's Picnic

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The sun that bids us rest is waking...

... our brethren 'neath the Western sky
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
thy wondrous doings heard on high.

It's just before four o'clock here on Tuesday 16 December but at the Australia Incognita blog it is already the 17th and time for a post on the O Antiphons. There are plenty of YouTube videos of these Antiphonae Maiores, together with translations and explanations. If you would like some solid food for meditation and prayer, it is easy enough to google, listen and reflect.

This one of O Sapientia, the Magnificat Antiphon for tomorrow (for us Brits) was sung by the Dominican student brothers in Blackfriars, Oxford (blog Godsdogz) a couple of years ago.

Bishop Schneider on EWTN

Tomorrow, Wednesday, on EWTN (US schedule), there is an interview given by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the author of Dominus Est, with Fr Mitch Pacwa. For more information, links and pictures, see Te Deum Laudamus: Bishop Athanasius Schneider on his book, "Dominus Est" and the Church in Kazakhstan.

The book Dominus Est is now available in English, translated by Rev Nicholas L. Gregoris and published by Newman House Press. Diane of Te Deum Laudamus very kindly sent me a copy - the English edition has a photograph on the front showing Pope Benedict giving Holy Communion to a lady who is kneeling and receiving the sacred Host on the tongue, with an MC holding a communion plate. The book can now be ordered from Family Publications priced £5.99.

(For my initial notice of the book, see: "Communion kneeling, on the tongue." For another interview with Bishop Schneider, see: "As a bishop I cannot be silent".)

One rather special detail noticed by Diane when Bishop Schneider visited Assumption Grotto is that his episcopal ring is a miraculous medal:

Here are Diane's comments on this:
He humbly permitted people to kiss his ring, which caught me off guard because I have seen some bishops gently pull their hand back. Because of this, I never attempted to kiss the ring of a bishop.

Some feel it is more humble to not let people kiss the ring, but I think the opposite is true. I did not see it prideful on his part at all, but more of an act of humility. He generously offered blessings upon people as they took his hand. One of the sisters observed that by having the Miraculous Medal as a ring, the people are kissing an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as the ring of an apostolic successor.

Cassock advice

The other day, Shawn Tribe at NLM posted a question from a young man soon to enter the seminary. See: Question from a Seminarian: Where to Get a Good Cassock? The readership were invited to contribute their expertise and there are now well over 50 comments, so if you are asking yourself the same question, that is a good place to start.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Musica Sacra Colloquium video

From the NLM today, a video of the Sacred Music Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America. Posting a couple of days ago, Jeffrey Tucker wrote:
Imagine what it would have taken, say, 20 years ago, to have 10,000 people view a video on Gregorian chant! What would Justine Ward or Dom Mocquereau have said?
Just now, it had ticked up 11,091 views.

Cardinal Cañizares on Holy Communion

Reading Jane at My heart was restless, I came across a link to this story at Rorate Caeli about an interview given by Cardinal Cañizares Llovera to the Spanish paper La Razón. Here is a link to the full interview (in Spanish). Rorate Caeli has translated a part of the interview:
[La Razón:] Nevertheless, Benedict XVI has reiterated in some instances the propriety of receiving communion kneeling and in the mouth. Is it something important, or is it a mere matter of form?

[Cañizares:] - No, it is not just a matter of form. What does it mean to receive communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What dies it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, his goodness, and his mercy. That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way; it is not the same to receive communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants.
Many people have suggested to me that the rumours of Archbishop Ranjith's departure from the Congregation for Divine Worship have arisen because he has been so outspoken on things like Communion in the hand and kneeling. It seems that now, even if he does go to Colombo, the line will be held even more strongly at the Congregation.

I do enjoy reading articles in Google's translator and this one had a gem.
Posee la poco común capacidad de aunar, cuando habla, la firmeza con la caridad, encarnando el epigrama latino de «suave en el fondo y firme en la forma».
is rendered as
Possesses the rare ability to combine, when he speaks, the firmness with love, embodying the Latin epigram "soft on the bottom and firm on the way."

Newman cause website

Br Lewis Berry, of the Oratory, Birmingham, has sent me news of a website dedicated to The Cause for the Canonisation of the Ven John Henry Newman.

There is a daily 'thought' from Newman's writings, as well as news, and regular features: extracts from Newman's writings, and other articles connected with the Newman and the Cause. Today's entry chimes in with something that I have been discussing recently with others, especially in relation to adoration:
We cannot understand Christ’s mercies till we understand His power, His glory, His unspeakable holiness … that is, until we first fear Him.
From the sermon Christian Reverence (1831)

That link, by the way, is from the excellent resource "Newman Reader".

"My heart was restless" blog

Jane Teresa has recently started a blog called "My heart was restless (Faithful musings of a young Catholic in Yorkshire)". I have been away from the blogs for a day or two owing to an exceptionally busy Sunday even by Blackfen standards so it was from looking through Jane's posts that I found news of Cardinal Cañizares Llovera's recent interview which is of great interest. More about that in a moment.

There is also a good list of Top 10 Arinze, collecting some of the bon mots of the previous head of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

There are lots of good posts at My heart was restless and it is a worthy addition to any blogroll.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Missa Cantata in the Abbey Church

The Abbey Church at Belmont is currently "in restauro" as they say in Rome. Encased in scaffolding, it is undergoing some major restoration. Therefore most of the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in a very well appointed temporary chapel in the Monks' Refectory.

Today, however, we were able to celebrate our Missa Cantata in the Abbey Church. Fr Harrison of the Oratory was the celebrant and a schola of three (two monks and Fr Wadsworth) provided the chant for the Mass which echoed through the stone walls of the beautiful Church.

Fr Wadsworth, the chaplain of the Society of St Catherine of Siena, preached today, and Dr Laurence Hemming served the Mass. In the setting of the Abbey Church, there was a sense of what really constitutes the traditional Roman "noble simplicity" without any of the dumbing down that is so often associated with that phrase. We were there to offer adoration to the Father through Christ His Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the timeless and unaffected ceremonies and chants of the Roman Liturgy as it has been celebrated for centuries.

High Mass at St Francis Xavier, Hereford

On Thursday evening, we went into Hereford to celebrate High Mass at the wonderful Church of St Francis Xavier in Hereford. Fr Michael, the parish priest, is a monk of the Abbey of Belmont and made us very welcome. The Church has been magnificently restored to its original splendour and was a worthy setting for the Sacred Liturgy in the traditional Roman Rite.

Fr Ignatius Harrison was celebrant, Dr Laurence Hemming was Deacon and I was Subdeacon. Here are a few photos from the Mass:

After Mass, Fr Michael treated us to a meal, arranged by some of his young parishioners. In the midst of an atmospheric gloom and mist, we returned to the Abbey for an early night in anticipation of the spiritual exercises of the morrow.

Back from Retreat

Many thanks for your prayers and kind wishes for my retreat with the Society of St Catherine of Siena. About a dozen of us enjoyed the gracious hospitality of Belmont Abbey to pray, to participate in Divine Worship, and to enjoy each other's company.

Fr Ignatius Harrison, Provost of the London Oratory, was the Retreat preacher and took us through various aspects of the Roman Rite, offering a good deal of food for meditation and prayer. Many of the participants were priests whom I have come to know through the Merton Conferences organised by the Latin Mass Society.

I have some photos of a couple of our Masses which I will post.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

On retreat

I am away on Retreat from today until Saturday lunchtime so there will be no blogging until then. The Retreat is organised by the Society of St Catherine of Siena and Fr Ignatius Harrison is the preacher for the Retreat; the theme is "The Roman Mass, the Blessed Sacrament and the Priestly Life".

It is at Belmont Abbey which I have not visited before so I look forward to seeing it. I know a couple members of the Community from the Merton Conferences. The first evening we will be celebrating a Solemn High Mass in the parish Church in Hereford which I understand has been magnificently restored by Fr Michael, a member of the monastic community who is also the parish priest.

The train ride is very relaxing - a lovely journey through the English countryside. You know when a station is coming up because you start to see houses. I enjoy these journeys because I am usually travelling through Greater London.

I will remember all of you readers in my prayers while I am away.

Helter skelter down the slippery slope

Here in Blighty we are whooshing down the slippery slope to involuntary euthanasia at quite a pace. We got the crucial legal judgement a few years ago that we can sometimes judge that it is in someone's "best interests" to die. The Mental Capacity Act got food and fluids defined as treatment that can be legitimately witheld on request of the patient or of their representative if they are incapacitated.

Moves towards legalising assisted suicide are now coming thick and fast. The Director of Public Prosecutions has broken new ground in a case where he decided not to prosecute because it would not be in the public interest to do so. An assisted suicide was shown on the telly last night providing powerful propaganda in favour of it. Gordon Brown made a cleverly non-committal speech in which he said that he was "personally not in favour... difficult ishoos... difficult choices...

He has not committed himself personally - who wants to be the Prime Minister to back assisted suicide. But he has left himself plenty of room to step firmly out of the way when the inevitable next attempt is made to introduce a bill.

When that is all legal, look forward to harrowing tales of people who are incapacitated having to be starved and dehydrated to death because they could not ask for assisted suicide, and how unfair the law is.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

"Little Ratzinger" is new Prefect for CDW

Last June, along with many other blogs, I reported the rumour floated by la cigüeña de la torre that Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain was to succeed Cardinal Arinze as Prefect of the the Congregation for Divine Worship.

The announcement was made today in the Vatican Bollettino (translation shamelessly ripped off Fr Z):
The Holy Father has accepted the resignation presented by His Eminence Francis Card. Arinze, for having reached the age limit, as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments and has called to suceed him in this same role His Eminence Antonio Card. Cañizares Llovera, who has been until now Archbishop of Toledo, Spain.
Fr Z has more information from the Palazzo Apostolico blog of Paolo Rodari. Again thanks to him for translating some of it (original: Ecco il «Piccolo Ratzinger» Fr Z translation: More about Card. Cañizares Llovera)

This is very good news. The Cardinal is only 63 so I suppose he could be in post for twelve years, God willing. He has been a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1995, and a member of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei since 2006.

And God bless Cardinal Arinze in his retirement. He deserves our appreciation - especially for quotes like "If you can find any document from Rome saying "remove the altar rails", I will give you a turkey." (See Classic Arinze)

More praise from Rome for "Fit for Mission"

Archbishop Luis Ladaria SJ, Secretary to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written to Bishop O'Donoghue, warmly endorsing his teaching document "Fit for Mission? Church." Here is a jpeg of the letter (click to enlarge):The body of the letter concludes:
It is to be hoped that not only the faithful of your own diocese, but also Catholics throughout Britain, will find hope and encouragement in your document.
Bishop O'Donoghue has expressed his delight at receiving this communication. He said:
I would just like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for supporting the programme of renewal I have now fully set out in Fit for Mission? Church, and Fit for Mission? Schools. At the heart of both documents is the urgent appeal to Catholics throughout our country to reject the misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council that have become so wide-spread. Once again we must commit ourselves without reservation to the fullness of doctrinal, moral and liturgical truth safeguarded by Peter!
In September, Bishop O'Donoghue received praise from Archbishop Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy for the document.

An endorsement was also given in October by Cardinal Renato Martino, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. (see Lancaster's Fit for Mission blog)

The new revised and enlarged document "Fit for Mission? Church." can be obtained from the Catholic Truth Society.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Mas at St George's Cathedral

The annual High Mass organised by the Latin Mass Society in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, was celebrated last Saturday 6 December by Fr Andrew Southwell, assisted by Fr Peter Gee as Deacon and Fr Christopher Basden as Sub-deacon. The cathedral Dean, Canon James Cronin, preached about the life of St Nicholas and how Christians, inspired by St Nicholas, must never lose hope. The music was provided by the Cathedral choir under the direction of Nick Gale and the organ was played by Thomas Wilson, Precentor of Westminster Cathedral. Over 200 people were present at the Mass.

John Medlin, LMS General Manager, said:
“It’s wonderful to come back to St George’s which is such a vibrant hub of Catholic life in South London. Canon Cronin makes us very welcome and it’s pleasing to see how easily the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite can work alongside each other to build up the liturgical life of the diocese. We’re looking forward to our next visit!”

Don Camillo's procession

Bregwin on YouTube sent me this video which cheered me up today.

Bregwin links to his site Karamazov: the amorality of atheism which looks interesting.

FSSP Finland

Sorry - I got things a bit mixed up in my post about Finland the other day.

The new website is the one devoted to the activities and visits of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in Finland.

The Saint Gregory Society has been going for some time and continues to be a general point of reference for traditional liturgy in Finland.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Fr Bux: "Liturgy between innovation and tradition"

Thanks for Fr Z for posting the translation of an article by Fr Nicola Bux in L'Osservatore Romano: Liturgy between innovation and tradition. Here is an extract:
Christian liturgy, like the Christian event itself is not something we make... A word like actualization has given birth to the idea that we had the power to replicate it, to create the right conditions for it to happen, to organize it, as if we were the creators of what we affirm to believe. As a matter of fact it is Jesus Christ who makes the sacred liturgy with the Holy Spirit. Our role is to follow, give room to his work. The method within everyone’s reach is to watch what happens – they used to say to “assistere” – that is ad-stare, to stand before his presence; it means to adhere to Something that precedes us, to follow what he does in our midst, always capable of turning upside down the idea that worship is something we make. Liturgy is sacred because it is one Thing that comes from Heaven.
I am reading Fr Bux's recent book La Riforma di Benedetto XVI: la liturgia tra innovazione e tradizione which I have pinched from Fr Briggs.

Luxembourg Bishops on Euthanasia

the Catholic Bishops in Luxembourg have issued a statement (in German) on Euthanasia (see Nehmt den Menschen die Hoffnung nicht! - rtf)

They point out that life is always a precious gift and not in our hands to dispose of, and call for improvement in palliative care. They quote Pope Benedict in Spe Salvi (38):
The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through “com-passion” is a cruel and inhuman society.
the Luxembourg Bishops point out that those who permit killing on demand cross an important line, weakening the essential foundations of the human community.

Finnish "Societas Sancti Gregorii Magni"

There is a new Finnish website devoted to the activities and visits of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in Finland. There is also a homepage for the Saint Gregory Society, which will continue to be the general point of reference for traditional liturgy in Finland.

The independent blog Summorum also continues to provide news of various items of Catholic interest in Finland.

The Finnish Catholics also ask our prayer for a good new Bishop for Finland - let us pray for a Bishop who is an enthusiastic teacher of the faith and is willing to support and encourage the traditional liturgy in Finland.

From the Summorum blog, here is a clip of Pilvi Listo playing part of Francois Couperin's Messe Pour les Paroisses at the Agricola Church in Helsinki:

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