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Showing posts from March, 2009

Fr Andrew Wadsworth to ICEL

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Fr Andrew Wadsworth has been appointed by the Holy See as General Secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and Executive Director of the ICEL Secretariat in Washington DC, to take up post from September 2009. This is very good news. Fr Wadsworth has taken a leading role in England in promoting the worthy celebration of the liturgy in both the usus recentior and the usus antiquior. With regard to the latter, he played a leading role in the two highly successful training conferences for clergy at Merton College, Oxford.

Fr Wadsworth (47) is a priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster, ordained in 1990. He has Masters degrees in Italian and Theology, and is an accomplished musician. He has taught Latin, Greek and Italian as well as fulfilling various pastoral responsibilities, including parish work and hospital chaplaincy. He has most recently been Catholic Chaplain at Harrow School as well as teaching Italian there. As well has having good Latin and Greek, Fr Wa…

Pro Life vigils and the police

The Helpers of God's Precious Infants regularly hold prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. Recently there have been some instances of disproportionate attention from the police. Fortunately at Twickenham, this matter now seems to have been resolved satisfactorily with the Metropolitan Police agreeing that the vigils can continue without police attendance. (See: Victory for Pro-Life Abortion Campaigners facing Police suspension)

I take part in these vigils from time to time. What happens is that a group stands well away from the entrance and says fifteen decades of the Rosary and other prayers and perhaps hymns. Nearer the entrance a counsellor, or a small group of counsellors offer leaflets to those entering or leaving, or to passers by and are available to talk to people. The whole thing is quite peaceful and causes less obstruction than, for example, the people who give out free newspapers outside tube stations. In my experience, I have seen many people stop to talk and it is a…

LMS Birmingham & Black Country blog

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Matt Doyle has been made the assistant representative for the Latin Mass Society in Birmingham. He has started a blog for the LMS in Birmingham and the Black Country. Matt also runs a mailing list for those who want to get news of events so email him if you want to be put on the list.

Obviously one of the principal locations is the Birmingham Oratory which has a Low Mass every Sunday at 9.30am as well as the solemn sung Latin Mass at 10.30am in the newer form. On transferred Holydays, the Oratory usually has a sung Mass at 8pm on the proper day in the older calendar.

Nutritional advice from Mulier Fortis

After an exhaustive review of the research literature, Mulier Fortis has something to ponder regarding nutrition and health. The conclusion:Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Sort out the reformation for me, would you, Sir Humphrey

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Last Friday saw the debate in the House of Commons on the "Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill" which would modify the 1701 Act of Settlement by allowing royal claimants to marry a Catholic without forfeiting their claim to the throne.

In fact, as Joseph has pointed out on Catholic Commentary, there are far more pressing cases of indirect discrimination against Catholics in Britain today (see: Real sources of anti-Catholic discrimination) but it is always amusing to read MPs attempting to pronounce on religious matters (- arguably at least as funny as reading priests or Bishops trying to pronounce on political or economic matters.)

Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice seemed rather to be winging it as regards the contents of the Bill since Evan Harris had to point out to him that it concerned those who are allowed to marry into the line of succession, not those who might actually inherit the throne - wh…

Well that's a relief!

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Petition supporting rights of parents in education

I have received a number of requests to publicise the petition in support of the rights of parents that I posted some weeks ago. I am pleased to see that the petition now has 2735 signatures. If you did not get round to signing it, may I encourage you to do so now.

(Remember that this is about the rights of parents - you do not have to be a parent to see the benefit to society when such rights are upheld.)

Sign the petition here.

(Deadline 3 April 2009. You have to be a British citizen or resident to sign.)

"There is a reason why Cardinals sport the colour of red..."

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"... and it is not on account of their own dignity." - from the editorial of the March-April issue of Faith Magazine, all the content of which is now available (free) online. For a paper copy, here is the subscription page (there is a special offer on for new subscribers from the USA.)

The quotation above is from the editorial article Assault Upon the Sexes: Fostering the Papal Defence which looks at the Holy Father's comments on the question of gender, the Church's teaching on marriage and the male priesthood. There is also a meditation on Mary, Creation and the Church, and an appreciation of Fr Richard John Neuhaus RIP, as well as other articles of interest.

Here is the context of the quotation from the editorial:Indeed, there has been little attempt even in Catholic circles to give a public and sustained support of Pope Benedict throughout these difficulties. The fact that even Bishops and Cardinals have not just criticised the Pope but have also kept silence, givin…

"full of the interplay of danger and promise"

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Fr Selvester has a post today, "To blog or not to blog" in which he refers to a quotation given by Paul Zalonski at Communio in his post Presence in the blogosphere.

The quotation was from the address of Pope John Paul II to the participants in the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in March 2002.

A little further on in this address, Pope John Paul referred to the internet and the text has a link to his message for the 36th World Communications Day, issued in January of 2002. the theme of that was "Internet: A New Forum for proclaiming the Gospel." I remember reading this back in 2002 and it is fascinating to revisit it.The Internet is certainly a new “forum” understood in the ancient Roman sense of that public space where politics and business were transacted, where religious duties were fulfilled where much of the social life of the city took place, and where the best and the worst of human nature was on display. It was a crowded an…

Retreat for Priests at Le Barroux

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There are some places left on a Spiritual and Liturgical Retreat for priests, organised by the Society of St Catherine of Siena, to be held at the Abbey of Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux, from 25th to 29th May 2009. The theme of the retreat will be ‘The Monastic Heart in the Everyday Life of a Priest’.

The foundation and growth of this Benedictine monastery has been one of the remarkable stories of faith arising in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The courage of its founder, Dom Gérard Calvet who died only last year, has been richly rewarded in the establishment of what is now an active and thriving community of young monks. Full details can be found on the monastery website.

Retreatants will share the life of the community, joining them for the glories of the traditional monastic office and Conventual Mass and taking meals with the monks in the monastic refectory. There will be a series of spiritual conferences which will include the insights of members of the monastic communi…

Green (Harvard): "as a liberal, I say the Pope is right"

Recently, I mentioned an article by Kathryn Jean Lopez, referring to Edward C. Green, the Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, who said that the Pope was right and that the best evidence that we have supports his comments. (See: Support for the Holy Father from Harvard.)

The Italian journal Il Sussidiario has interviewed Edward Green. Green says that as a social liberal it is hard for him to admit it, but the Pope is right. At one point, he says:People began noticing years ago that the countries in Africa with the highest condom availability and highest condom user rates, also had the highest HIV infection rates. This does not prove a causal relation, but it should have made us look critically at our condom programs years ago.His comments on "risk compensation" are important in understanding why it is that condom programmes have not reduced HIV infection rates.

HIV/AIDS "The Change Is On"

Have a look at this inspiring production "The Change Is On", an educational video produced in Africa and posted in several parts on YouTube. The video is in support of the programme "Education for Life. A Behaviour Change Process." It documents the response to HIV/AIDS in the diocese of Tzaneen, which has implemented a multi faceted and authentically Catholic response, rooted in the Gospel of Life. Here is part 6 as a sample:



I will give a couple of quotations that particularly struck me, the first one from Joanna Thabathi. Here we have a Director of Social Services (Mopani District, Limpopo Province) who encourages parents to take responsibility for educating their own children in intimate matters rather than leaving the task to others:"Let us talk to our children. Let us not be afraid of our own children. Let us give them the respect and the guidance that they want; because they need to be guided, they need to be shown the way. Let us not wait for our neighbo…

Bishop O'Donoghue on proposed abortion TV advertising

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Bishop O'Donoghue has issued an excellent statement on the news that the Advertising Standards Authority is considering allowing the abortion industry to advertise through the broadcasting media. As he says,This deeply damaging proposal originates from the Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health & HIV and therefore comes from the heart of the abortion industry – threatening yet another hammer-blow to the sanctity of human life in this country.Read the full statement here.

Nursing Times article questions teenage pregnancy strategy

At the Lancaster Diocesan website I found a link to an article by David Paton in the current issue of The Nursing Times: Teenage pregnancy and access to contraception: what does the evidence show?

Paton refers to the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy (TPS), launched in 1999. this has involved millions of pounds being spent on access to "confidential sexual health services" for young people. As he says, "many nurses are uncomfortable with providing such services to children under 16, especially without parental knowledge, but do so believing that they are helping to reduce the risks of early pregnancy."He continues"Unfortunately, the latest data shows that pregnancy and abortion rates for under-sixteens are higher now than when the Strategy started."Professor Paton is an economist at at the Nottingham University Business School and has published widely on the economics of teenage pregnancy. As well as drawing attention to the empirical evidence, h…

Ireland win - Pope safe

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Sir Dan of the Blogosphere often leaves messages on my answering machine with useful snippets that he has picked up on his patrols. Last week, he was trying to persuade me that I should post something about Ireland's first Grand Slam triumph since 1948. Frankly, I saw little relevance to the hermeneutic of continuity.

Today, however, Paulinus of In Hoc Signo Vinces has provided an angle that makes it highly relevant. He refers to a Christmas 2008 (externally peer-reviewed) article in the British Medical Journal co-authored by Gareth C Payne, specialist registrar in clinical neurophysiology, Rebecca E Payne, general practitioner, and Daniel M Farewell, MRC/WAG training fellow in health services research/health of the public, entitled Rugby (the religion of Wales) and its influence on the Catholic church: should Pope Benedict XVI be worried? Here is the abstract of the article:Objective To explore the perceived wisdom that papal mortality is related to the success of the Welsh rugby …

People we couldn't do without

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Yesterday, after the morning Mass, I had to see various people as usual about Baptisms, Mass cards, routine maintenance, lost property and so on. When this had finished, I went through the Hall and had a chat with the ladies who keep everything in the Church clean, starched, pressed, mended, polished and spotless. Hilda, the "capo d'ufficio" said to me with her no-nonsense Lancastrian bluntness, "This is something that should be on your blog."

She's right, you know! In anticipation of Passiontide, the veils for the statues were being ironed and adjusted as necessary in a veritable factory operation:

It has been quite a busy week or two. First St Patrick had to be taken down for veneration:

then St Joseph had to be given that little bit of extra attention:

and then Our Lady had to be then dressed for the Feast of the Annunciation. The above two photos were taken by Dick who recently checked all the kneelers in the Church and mended and re-covered those that need…

Mass yesterday evening

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At last night's Mass of the Annunciation, we welcomed the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate who sang the chants from the Gradual, the Missa cum Iubilo, and motets at the Offertory and Communion.

Mulier Fortis has posted some photos at her post Feast of the Annunciation. In this one, she has switched on the "starburst" option or something but the effect is quite good:

Then she has a photo of some of the "cold-hearted, spirit-quenching agents of global horror" gathered in the Hall afterwards. It is such a joy to have the sisters here to visit. Young people in England today rarely see religious women in habits, and the sisters are always delighted to talk to them about the faith.

Hilda and Mary had suggested putting on tea after the Mass and I readily agreed. As ever, the "tea" included various cakes, home made scones, and sweets for the children who came out late for a long Mass.

Video of Alasdair MacIntyre lecture

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Thanks to Berenike of Laodicea for send a link to this page with a fascinating video of the lecture given by Alasdair MacIntyre at University College Dublin on the occasion of his being made an honorary Doctor of Letters by University College Dublin on 10 March.

The citation given by Professor Fran O'Rourke included reference to what has been called MacIntyre's philosophical nomadism:"MacIntyre’s enquiry has led him to visit various schools of thought, framing different periods of his career: analytic, Marxist, Christian, atheist, Aristotelian, Augustinian Christian, and Thomist."MacIntyre's most famous book "After Virtue" was written shortly after he was received into the Catholic Church. He has given a powerful and rational voice for virtue ethics and it is good both to see him honoured and to be able to hear his lecture.

More Cato

I was hesitant about posting this since it strays into political territory and I am conscious of the importance of being free of party political allegiance here. However, a video clip of Daniel Hannan, a Member of the European Parliament for South East England, giving a speech at the European Parliament, has been speeding round the internet (especially thanks to Gerald Warner's Telegraph blog "Is it just me?")

The clip in question is an attack on Gordon Brown so I won't embed it but if you want to see it, I will give the link since it is a fine example of modern British political oratory and worthy of consideration for that reason alone.

Browsing YouTube, I found another speech from Daniel Hannan regarding the Lisbon Treaty. Again, I cannot take a position on his political views but I was delighted to hear another speaker alluding to Cato (near the end of this speech.)



"We should have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; Pactio Olisipiensis censenda est."

Family Life International Conference 9 May

Family Life International are holding a conference at Westminster Cathedral Hall on Saturday 9 May with a good line-up of speakers including Bishop O'Donoghue and Raymond de Souza. Individual tickets £10; Family tickets £15.

A nice touch is that a play area will be available where parents can both supervise their children and hear the conference speakers. There will also be a large selection of relevant literature and other resources.

The FLI website has further information. Space is limited so pre-registration is recommended.

Exsultet masterclass

Jeffrey Tucker at NLM points out that at this time of year, everyone starts looking for an Exsultet download and so offers links to
English modern notes
Latin Neumes
English with Neumes
If you are planning to sing it in Latin and would like a "masterclass" example, here is a video of Fr Guy Nicholls singing the Exsultet at the Birmingham Oratory last year:

Feast of the Annunciation

Prayers and good wishes to you all on the Feast of the Annunciation. On this feast day, I am always reminded of the parish Church I belonged to for the first 18 years of my life at Addiscombe. The new Church was built in 1964 and I have some childhood memories of the old Church and the High Mass which was the one my family used to go to. I was ordained at Addiscombe on 28 July 1984 and so this year is my silver jubilee. (Details of the celebration to follow soon.)

Today at Blackfen, we have our English Mass in the morning at 10am and a Missa Cantata in the evening at 7.30pm. The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate are coming to sing for us.

Talks by Lord Alton and Dawn Eden

Robert Colquhoun at Love Undefiled has recently posted two interesting talks, each about an hour long, so good for downloading to listen to on car journeys.

There is Lord Alton on Deus Caritas Est and Dawn Eden on Cutting to the Chaste.

Petition in support of Pope Benedict

From Human Life InternationalDear Holy Father,

Please accept our heartfelt love and admiration for your prophetic and courageous proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in season and out of season. We are in deep solidarity with you against the terrible distortions and attacks by condom-promoters in the press and, even more shamefully, in governments.

The Vicar of Christ will always be a sign of contradiction to those blinded by ideology. Your words of compassion and common sense are to be praised highly. Thank you for your witness of hope and love to a world that is increasingly hostile to the truth, especially if it calls into question the foundations of the "Sexual Revolution."

With gratitude,Sign the petition here.

Fr Mildew (and spirit-quenching global horror)

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Fr Mildew was one of my teachers for a while at the John Fisher School in Purley and so I was interested in his reminiscences of his time there. Fr Clifton (to give him his real name) celebrates his golden jubilee this year and has been writing several posts on "My life from a religious perspective." The post on his time at Wonersh gives some details of life at the seminary in the 1950s.

He also has chunks from a letter published in this week's Tablet. Let me give you a flavour:The ongoing revision of the ordinary rite, and the introduction of the extraordinary rite, together represent the same process of the surrender of the liturgy to the reactionary, spirit-quenching, traditionalist minority; and the surrender of the entire Church runs in parallel, making a mockery of the life of the Church before both God and the world.It gets better:There was a great move of the Spirit in the Church in Council in our time just over 40 years ago. I weep for its cold-hearted rejection …

NCBC piece on the Pope and condoms

The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia has a good piece on The Pope and Condoms by Matthew Hanley.
An exhaustive review of the impact of condom promotion on actual HIV transmission in the developing world concluded that condoms have not been responsible for turning around any of the severe African epidemics. This rigorous study was originally commissioned by UNAIDS, and conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco. Instead of welcoming the findings, and adapting HIV prevention strategies accordingly, UNAIDS first tried to alter the findings, and ultimately refused to publish them. The findings were so threatening to UNAIDS that the researchers were finally forced to publish them on their own in another, peer-reviewed journal.The report referred to was published by Norman Hearst and Sanny Chen in "Studies in Family Planning" for March 2004. The website of the journal has an abstract of the article. For further discussion, see UNAids…

Fr Durham travelling

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The website for the Finnish Apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter has announced that Father Benjamin Durham FSSP will visit Sweden, Finland, and Estonia during Passion Week leading to Palm Sunday. He is celebrating Mass, leading the Stations of the Cross and giving a one day retreat. Here is a link to the schedule.

The photo shows Fr Durham saying Mass in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of St Henry's Cathedral, Helsinki, on his last visit. I said Mass myself there a year ago and very much enjoyed meeting people and seeing Helsinki.

Linacre Ethics Forum - Prenatal Testing

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Linacre Ethics Forum Presents a chance for junior healthcare professionals and students (medics, nurses, pharmacists and those interested inethics are welcome!) to explore and discuss Catholic healthcare ethics:

Prenatal Testing
Dr Helen Watt

Tuesday 31st March - 6.30pm for 7

The Forum is held at Vaughan House, SW1P 1QN (Just behind Westminster Cathedral) 

Kindly supported by the Department of Pastoral Affairs, Diocese of Westminster.

A demonstration of abstinence

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catholic.pages is a good website that I have not visited in a while. Thanks to a reader for pointing me there today. in the "smile" section, I found this story: School Sex Ed which makes a serious point about abstinence in an amusing way.

Parents among you will especially enjoy this light hearted treatment of rules for toddlers: Old Testament Parenting by Ian Frazier. Here is a sample from the Laws Pertaining to Dessert:But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert.

But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion t…

Laetare Sunday

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Laetare Sunday was celebrated with solemnity in my parish today. At both usus recentior and usus antiquior Masses, we used the new set of rose vestments made by Luzar Vestments and paid for by donations from around the world thanks to blog appeals by Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke) and Fr John Zuhlsdorf (What Does The Prayer Really Say) together with donations from parishioners and friends locally.

At our usus antiquior Mass, Dr Laurence Hemming (author of "Worship as a Revelation") was deacon and Rev John Harrison subdeacon. We had enough altar servers to field six torchbearers and a full congregation gave a model example of "full, active, conscious participation" throughout.

As ever, the bulk of the congregation was composed of parishioners and their families. Today we also had a few extra visitors who travelled to Blackfen specially.

As I have mentioned before, at the celebration of High Mass, I am very conscious of the subordination of myself as priest to the mysteri…

Family Day with Margaret Mizen

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Mrs Margaret Mizen visited the parish of Blackfen today. Margaret's son, Jimmy, was killed last May. (See Jimmy Mizen RIP) Margaret and her husband Barry have given outstanding witness to their faith, choosing to use the interest of the media in the death of their son as an opportunity to speak about their faith and love of God. It is a particularly difficult time for them at the moment because the trial is in progress of the man accused of their son's murder. Please remember Margaret, Barry and their family especially during the coming week. I'll be singing the Mass at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane on Monday and will offer it for their intentions.

Margaret's talk left many of us in tears and was a magnificent start to our "Faith, Family and Future" day in the parish.

It was one of those gloriously relaxed and slightly chaotic days, blessed with great weather.

We managed to use all our available space today. Daphne McLeod spoke to the Grandparents in the sacristy;…

Support for the Holy Father from Harvard

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National Review Online carries and article by Kathryn Jean Lopez: From Saint Peter’s Square to Harvard Square which has the subtitle "Media coverage of papal comments on AIDS in Africa is March madness."

Lopez quotes Edward C. Green, the Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Green said that the Pope was right and that the best evidence that we have supports his comments because condoms have not proved effective. Greater availability and use of condoms leads to higher, not lower HIV-infection rates. He explains:This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”Or, as we might put it simply, the promotion of condoms leads to promiscuity. Green also said,I also noticed…

Urgent: Suicide amendment Monday

Pasted from SPUC:URGENT Suicide amendment Monday, contact your MP now

Please telephone and/or email your MP and urge him/her to oppose a pro-suicide amendment tabled yesterday by Patricia Hewitt (former health minister) to the Coroners & Justice Bill. 

The amendment (which is a new clause in the bill) will be debated on Monday afternoon (23 March) if selected by the Speaker. The amendment's effect would be to make it lawful to help anyone travel to a country where so-called assisted dying is legal so that they can commit suicide. Although this amendment is primarily aimed at those who are disabled or chronically ill, it applies to anyone who may be suicidal - old, young, depressed, in debt, disabled, etc. It will make all those who may be suicidal easy prey to unscrupulous people. Ask MPs to oppose and vote against the amendment.

MPs can be contacted by email via http://www.spuc.org.uk/mps 
and/or by telephone through the House of Commons switchboard number 020 7219 3000.

Please te…

"The panel jeered when I said euthanasia"

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A correspondent has sent me a link to this excellent 1978 piece by Malcolm Muggeridge on Humanae Vitae. At that time, Mugg had not yet become a Catholic but he was a seasoned media operator and understood how the MSM (then the only medium) slanted coverage of Pope Paul's landmark encyclical.

The great Mugg's description of the panel is amusing:The people who are assembled for these discussions or panels on the BBC fall, usually, into various categories which are invariable: you generally have a sociologist from Leeds; you also have a life-purist usually with a mustache; you also have a knockabout clergyman of no particular denomination and enormous muttonchop whiskers; and you have, I regret to say, also, usually, a rather dubious fatherHe describes how he mentioned that contraception would not stop with limiting families but would lead to abortion and euthanasia.And I remember that the panel jeered when I said particularly the last, euthanasia. But it was quite obvious that th…

Auntie Joanna ambushed - comes out fighting

It might seem that when ambushed, you should run for cover, conceal yourself, get out of danger. McAleese's "Fighting Manual" realistically points out that when the enemy has put out a deliberate ambush, he has chosen the ground and set up his weapons. You don't have the luxury of choosing cover. As he says, the only realistic response is to come out fighting with aggression and determination:"It's got to be "enemy left!" and straight in - as quick as that. If you start thinking 'Well, they could have a machine gun here ... should I, shouldn't I, could I, couldn't I, you're dead."Mutatis mutandis, this applies to an ambush by the presenter on live TV. Joanna Bogle was ambushed by Jon Snow on Channel 4 the other day and came out fighting. She didn't equivocate, apologise, wonder whether it might be right to use a condom to save a life, or try to hide under cover of "possible theological opinions."

From the luxury of…

Central London Catholic Chaplaincy

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Last night I was at 111 Gower Street: Newman House which is the Central Catholic Chaplaincy Centre for London Universities. (Newman House also has its own blog.) The chaplaincy invited me to speak about the principles of Catholic Moral Theology as part of their Faith Formation course. Obviously a massive topic, I tried to bring it down to manageable size by following the outline of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fathers Peter Wilson and Brian Creak were most welcoming as was Chris Castell, the pastoral associate who contacted me to come. There was a very good discussion afterwards - courteous and intellectually challenging.

The group of students was cosmopolitan and many languages were bandied around the room in conversation beforehand. The chaplaincy is obviously thriving with an impressive programme of events. After the talk, Fr Wilson led Compline in the chapel. As well as arranging Mass once a year in the usus antiquior, he introduces the students to the use of Latin in the n…

Faith Priests' Day at Dorking

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Fr Dominic Rolls, parish priest of St Joseph's Dorking, hosted a day for Faith Priests in his parish today, providing us with a good lunch and a most informative reflection on the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians.

Corinth was put to "fire and the sword" in 146 BC by Lucius Mummius but then refounded in 44 BC by Julius Caesar who was conscious of the strategic importance of its location. Populated by freedmen of Rome, Corinth was very much a "new city", despised by the Patricians and noted for its wealth and immorality. St Paul stayed in the city for a year and a half, trying to persuade the Jews that Jesus was the Christ until, tired of the "gainsaying and blaspheming", he turned to the Gentiles. His first letter offers fatherly admonishment and correction with the desire of bringing unity to the Christian community there.

On a table in the presbytery, there is a fine statue of St John Vianney, the Curé of Ars. It looks as though he is ready …

A Pope with nerves of steel

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Yet again, the Holy Father has become the object of worldwide media outrage. Replying to questions from journalists during his flight to Cameroon, the Holy Father's answer was asked about the Catholic Church's approach to HIV/AIDS, "considered by some as unrealistic and ineffective." The Vatican Information Service gives his reply as follows:"It is my belief believe that the most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/AIDS is in fact the Catholic Church and her institutions. ... The problem of HIV/AIDS cannot be overcome with mere slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanisation of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with the…

For God and St Patrick

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Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St Patrick with two Masses in the parish. My sacristan, Hilda, arranged a devotional display of our statue of St Patrick with some shamrock, candles and harps, together with a nice green cloth. After both Masses, we sang the hymn Hail Glorious St Patrick. Fr Guy Selvester posted the Wolfe Tones version which gives one interpretation. Another is that given by Frank Patterson which I have embedded below:



Neither version includes all the verses that we sang so here are the words. 43 years ago, Mrs Strawson taught us this hymn in infant school. She said that after each verse you had to reprise the last line, not "On Erin's green valleys" for each verse. So kudos to Frank Patterson for following this tradition.
Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, dear Saint of our isle!
On us thy poor children, bestow a sweet smile;
And now thou art high in the mansions above,
On Erin's green valleys look down in thy love.

Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, thy words …

More shouting in the piazza

I'm happy to post the good news that my good friend Fr Guy Selvester has decided to start blogging again after a few months of sabbatical from the blogosphere. His blog Shouts in the Piazza particularly focusses on ecclesiastical heraldry, on which he is an acknowledged expert.

This is a courageous choice of topic for a blog. If you want to swell your combox, try posting an opinion piece on some matter of ecclesiastical heraldry :-)

Fr Selvester is a parish priest and his blog will also carry items related to his pastoral ministry.

Great letter from Bishop Jarrett

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I met Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett many years ago, before he was ordained co-adjutor Bishop of the diocese of Lismore, Australia in 2001 (he succeeded to the see later in the same year.) Bishop jarrett, who occasionally celebrates Mass according to the usus antiquior, has written an excellent letter to his clergy in response to the Holy Father's recent letter to the world's bishops concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre.

I encourage you to read the whole letter but here is one quotation:I believe that this moment has brought to the fore as no other in recent times a critical question: that of the understanding and interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. Was it to be seen as a rupture with all that went before, so that nothing in the Church’s life and teaching was to be exempt from change, indeed a process of continual mutation to fit in with the perceived demands and approvals of contemporary thinking and behaviou…

Australian Bishops' sterling support for the Holy Father

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A correspondent from Australia has sent me the excellent statement from Archbishop Wilson, the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, asking for prayers during Lent for the Holy Father. (See: Papal Letter prompts call for Lenten prayers for Church unity)

Archbishop Wilson said:During this Lenten season of purification of heart and of turning back to God, I ask all Catholics to offer special prayers for the Holy Father, so that in this way we can support him in his enormously challenging ministry.His statement shows a real desire for reconciliation in union with the intentions of the Holy Father:I ask also for prayers for Church unity, that we too, can offer the hand of reconciliation to all our brothers and sisters, who might for one reason or another find themselves outside the Church’s loving embrace, but who have a genuine longing for Christ in their lives. It is in this way that hearts and minds can be changed.See also comment in this post from Australia Incognita

Update on a recent photo

The other day, I posted a photo of Pontifical Mass. Christoper, the photographer has been in touch with a link. The photo was taken at the Solemn Rededication of Old St. Patrick Oratory in Kansas City MO. Christopher's Lost Lambs blog has more photos from the consecration.

On blogs and blogmen

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Recently, I have noticed an increase in sweeping and generalised criticism of Catholic blogs. Words such as "savage", "spiteful", and "vindictive" are used, sometimes by those who do not read blogs themselves, rather akin to the attitude related a couple of years ago by one of my girl altar servers who said "My mum's a bit frightened of the internet."

I suppose that we should get accustomed to being lumped together in the same way as the traditional media and blamed collectively for various ills. Nevertheless, the internet does provide us with the opportunity to overcome some of the constraints of the traditional media.

Hilliare Belloc's fascinating essay "The Free Press", written in 1918 complains of the "capitalist press" and its shortcomings and looks at the disadvantages face by the free press - particularly their suffering from a lack of information, and the economic pressure if they did not manage to generate enou…

NLM on "hermeneutic of continuity"

After the Holy Father's comments today on avoiding "discontinuity", it is a good moment to draw your attention to this post on the NLM: Exploding a Myth: An Assertion About the "Hermeneutic of Continuity"

Holy Father proclaims "Year for Priests"

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On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars, the Holy Father announced this morning that from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010, there will be a special "Year of the Priesthood" with the theme "Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of the priest".

On 19 June, the feast of the Sacred Heart, Pope Benedict will preside at Vespers in the presence of the relics of St John Vianney, brought to Rome by the Bishop of Belley-Ars and there will be a Worldwide Meeting of Priests in St Peter's Square.

During the year, the Holy Father will proclaim St John Vianney "Patron of all the priests of the world." There is also going to be a new "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors."

Speaking to members of the Congregation for the Clergy this morning, Pope Benedict said that awareness of the radical social changes of recent decades made it necessary for the "best ecclesial energies to be applied to the formation of candidates …

Pontifical Mass photo

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No particular reason for posting this other than that I thought it was a particularly fine photo of Pontifical Mass. It was taken at the Solemn Rededication of Old St. Patrick Oratory in Kansas City MO. Christopher at Lost Lambs blog has more photos from the consecration.

H/T Ad Sanitatem Gentium

Celtic Craic

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This evening was one of those "busy parish priest" evenings. After the evening Mass, I met with a mother to arrange the baptism of her children, a couple who wanted to get married, and an elderly lady who needed a visit. Back then to the ranch, I called into the parish Social Club which had an anticipated celebration for the feast of St Patrick. (We'll also be celebrating on Tuesday with Mass and the hymn "Hail glorious St Patrick" - the Club will be open afterwards.)

We have an Irish Dancing Class in the parish and this evening they showed off their various dancing steps to great appreciation. The band was called "Celtic Craic" and they kept everyone entertained until late in the evening.

I took St Patrick as my Confirmation patron after reading a good CTS pamphlet on his life. The celebation of his feast day is always a source of joy for me.

Blessing of vestments

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The servers who come on Saturday morning for Mass and Benediction had some fun today opening up the new rose vestments and putting them so that I could show you a photo. Above is the shot where the servers didn't quite manage to be solemn.

Mass was offered this morning for all the benefactors who have paid for these vestments in response to kind appeals by Damian Thompson on Holy Smoke and Fr Zuhlsdorf on What Does The Prayer Really Say. I will write to everyone who has contacted me but it will take me a little time. Thank you all very much indeed. Next Sunday's Mass will be a High Mass so I'll make sure there are some photos of the vestments in use. This morning, I blessed them.

ICEL and 'liturgical anger'

In South Africa, from the end of November last year, Mass was celebrated using the new ICEL translations despite the fact that they had not been authorised for use. The CDW has now ordered the Bishops' Conference to end the practice until the translations are fully approved for use.

The Southern Cross, a national Catholic weekly, has run many letters, blog posts and articles critical of the new translations. The popular line seems to be that they are a betrayal of Vatican II. Bishop Dowling agrees with the 'liturgical anger' and the view that there should not in any case be a standard text.To me there is no cogent reason why the language which the People of God in any place use to express their faith and spirituality, and to celebrate the Eucharist, the sacraments and so on has to conform to a Latin text. People ask why — and rightly so. I am concerned that this latest decision from the Vatican may be interpreted as another example of what is perceived to be a systematic an…

Mass for benefactors tomorrow

Many thanks to all of you who have sent in contributions for vestments for the Sacred Liturgy via Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke blog, and Fr Zuhlsdorf's "pound Fr Finigan" campaign on his blog What Does the Prayer Really Say?. Tomorrow morning's Mass (EF) will be offered for your intentions.

Unfortunately, the current centralised banking system in my diocese does not allow for internet access to the current transactions so I will have to ask for a printed statement to ascertain the total of donations received. There are also pledges of further donations so we will easily reach the total required to pay for a fine set of rose vestments to be used for Mass on Laetare Sunday.

I have now managed to secure sacred ministers for the EF Mass that Sunday, so we will be able to celebrate High Mass in the fullest expression of the Roman Liturgy in a normal parish setting.

Thank you all for your generosity and God bless you. We will be blessing the vestments tomorrow and the se…

The dangers of keeping up with the times

Romish Internet Graffiti has a good post warning of the dangers of chasing after ephemeral relevance: I owned a Pet Rock in the 70’s. He refers to my cautiously positive post about Knine and points out quite reasonably that the only difference between that and the video above is... the time period.

Yep. Let's stick with Gregorian chant and polyphony

Bishop Fellay continues path of reconciliation

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On the same day as the release of Pope Benedict's letter of clarification (see: Our humble, peaceful Holy Father), Bishop Fellay, the Superior General of the Society of St Pius X, has issued a communiqué which responds generously to the spirit of the Holy Father's letter, saying, for example:The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its will to address the doctrinal discussions considered "necessary" by the Decree of January 21, with the desire of serving the revealed Truth which is the first charity to be shown towards all men, Christian or not. It assures him of its prayers so that his faith may not fail and that he may confirm all his brethren (cf. Luke 22 32).The ever-helpful Rorate Caeli blog carries the full text of the communiqué.

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