Sunday, 31 May 2009

Faith Magazine on Blackfen

The content of the latest Faith Magazine is now online. There is a good editorial on scripture and the hermeneutic of rupture, along with articles on Stanley Jaki, the epistle to the Hebrews, and moral theology.

The column by William Oddie, "Comment on the Comments" focuses on the Tablet's attack on my parish and summarises the issue very well.


In his sermon today for the Mass of Pentecost, the Holy Father mentioned that the Cathedral Choir and the Kammerorchester of Cologne sang Haydn's Harmoniemesse. He said that "the music and the singing which accompany this our liturgy, help us also to be united in prayer"

Here is a short clip from the beginning of the Gloria:

Interesting factoids on Irish abuse scandal

Fr Flanagan of Boys Town:
Speaking to a large audience at a public lecture in Cork’s Savoy Cinema he said, "You are the people who permit your children and the children of your communities to go into these institutions of punishment. You can do something about it." He called Ireland’s penal institutions "a disgrace to the nation," and later said "I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character." However, his words fell on stony ground.

He wasn't simply ignored. He was taken to pieces by the Irish establishment. The then-Minister for Justice Gerald Boland said in the Dáil that he was “not disposed to take any notice of what ........... said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them.”
(H/T Fr Ray Blake)

In relation to the Christian Brothers, this is relevant:
Indeed no one mentions, as Dr. Woods, a former minister for Education in Ireland pointed out, that corporal punishment, prohibited by Edmund Ignatius Rice was introduced after his death on the Insistence of the organs of state in Britain.
H/T E F Pastor Emeritus

The Theology of the Body

The other day I received my three copies of "A Pure Heart Create for Me: Theology of the Body Today, edited by Robert Colquhoun and published by Family Publications.

The book is a collection of the lectures given at St Patrick's Soho Square last year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. The first part of the book consists of lectures specifically on the Theology of the Body and the second part deals with "specific issues for today". There are contributions from Edmund Adamus, Fr Anthony Doe, Fr Richard Aladics, Nicole Parker, Teresa Klepacka and others - the book is well worth reading.

My own lecture ("A challenge to the culture") is included in the second part, along with the lecture by Fr Stephen Langridge on AIDS, Condoms and the Catholic Church. Fr Langridge generously acknowledges my own talk on the subject which I gave in his parish a while ago but I am happy to say that his paper is a very good summary of the relevant points with important new material on the statistical evidence.

I mentioned the book launch a couple of weeks ago so please do email St Patrick's if you are going so that they can get an idea of numbers attending.

On the question of the Theology of the Body in general, some correspondents have expressed concern about some of the statements of Christopher West. I would recommend Jimmy Akin's fair and balanced post on this subject.

Southwark Vocations Handbook endorsed by Holy See

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary for the Congregation for the Clergy, has written to commend the Handbook for Parish Vocations teams produced by Fr Stephen Langridge, our Diocesan Vocations Director (pictured with Fr Benedict Groeschel.) Archbishop Piacenza writes that the Handbook:
"appears to have struck a healthy balance between the centrality of the universal vocation to holiness by virtue of our baptism and the indispensable vocations to priesthood and the consecrated life by which the Church worships God, proclaims the Gospel, and witnesses to the work of Grace in her members".
He also praises the Handbook's emphasis on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament:
"Indeed, the volume might serve as a useful resource within the apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration, fostering an awareness of the responsibility of every member of Christ's faithful to pray for and encourage vocations to the priesthood, and to faithfully understand its nature and place within the Church, particularly in view of the Year of the Priesthood recently announced by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI".
Congratulations to Fr Langridge for this recognition of his excellent resources for promoting vocations to the sacred priesthood.

Religion and Law

Havbe a loook at Neil Addison's Religion Law Blog and especially his excellent talk given recently at the London Oratory on the subject of Religious Freedom in England Today.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

"As I had the occasion to clarify..."

Helping me to catch up on one or two things I missed while away in Lourdes, a correspondent sent me links for the address of the Holy Father at the opening of the Pastoral Congress for the Diocese of Rome.

Here is the original Italian text; and here are a couple of quotations in English translation, thanks to Rorate Caeli and NLM:
As I had the occasion to clarify in the address to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005, an interpretive current, appealing to a supposed "spirit of the Council", intended to establish a discontinuity and even a contraposition between the Church before and the Church after the Council, at times confusing the very objectively existing boundaries between the hierarchical ministry and the responsibility of the lay faithful in the Church.

The notion of the "People of God, in particular, was interpreted by some according to a purely sociological vision, with an almost exclusively horizontal severance, which excluded the vertical reference to God. This position was in open contrast from the word and the spirit of the Council, which did not will a rupture, another Church, but a true and deep renewal, in continuity with the only subject, the Church, which grows in time and develops herself, yet remaining always the same...
and on the manner of celebrating the Eucharist:
The centre of the life of the parish is, as I said, the Eucharist, and especially the Sunday celebration. If the unity of the Church is born from the encounter with the Lord, it is not secondary then that the adoration and the celebration of the Eucharist be very elegant, giving way to who participates in it to experience the beauty of the mystery of Christ. Since the beauty of the liturgy "is not mere aestheticism, but the concrete way in which the truth of God's love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us" (Sacramentum Caritatis n. 35), it is important that the Eucharistic celebration manifests, communicates through the sacramental signs, the divine life and reveals to men and women of this city the true face of the Church.
Parish priests who celebrate both forms of the Roman rite may be criticised for allowing the older form of the rite to "dominate" in the sense that the celebrations of the newer form are seen as being influenced by the traditional liturgy, rather than being informal celebrations of a conversational nature in which all solemnity is eschewed. The Holy Father here encourages us to make the celebration of the Eucharist "very elegant" so that those who participate experience the beauty of the mystery of Christ.

European elections

My local Somerfield supermarket is open until 10pm and is usually quiet on a Saturday evening so I sometimes do some shopping after the evening Mass to avoid buying things on Sunday. The chap in front of me had four cans of butane gas for his barbecue. Saturday evenings in supermarkets tend to have more than the normal ratio of men to women. Hence it is possible for a little bloke-ish conversation at the till:
Me: "Blowin' up the 'ouses of Parliament then?"
Chap with butane gas: "'S been tried before - no harm 'avin another go."
Chap in front of him: "Bring back Guy Fawkes is what I say - all is forgiven"
I suppose that is a fair enough picture of the opinion of the average bloke about politics and politicians. It's a rather dangerous mood; I don't claim that parliamentary democracy is an objectively perfect method of government but I do fear that if there is to be a change in how our country is governed, the godless secularism of England at the present is not a promising basis on which to construct an alternative.

On Thursday we must vote in the European Elections (for the "must" see CCC 2240). The system is full-on proportional representation so we have to vote for a party rather than a person. You may want to have a look at the Christian Party / Christian Peoples Alliance ("Put your X by the Cross".) The mainfesto has a clear policy of opposition to abortion, embryo experimentation, cloning, IVF, and "marriage between one man and one woman for life as the best place for children to be raised, including by adoptive relationships."

An obstinate reminder of another world

Veilleurs Dans La Nuit ("Watchmen of the night") is a film showing a day in the life of the Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux from Matins at 3.30am to compline at 7.45pm. There are many vids, clips and photos around of lovely monasteries, glorious chant, and atmospheric photos of the consecration. "Veilleurs Dans La Nuit" has all these in abundance but also offers simple but outstandingly effective teaching on the monastic life in particular, much of it applicable to the Christian life in general.

For example, there is footage of a monk at his solemn profession singing the Suscipe:
Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam;
et non confundas me ab expectatione mea.

Accept me, O Lord, according to your word, and I shall live; and do not disappoint me in my hope. (Ps 119:116)
This is followed by a monk explaining:
"What he sings then is a commitment for his entire future. Man's greatness and nobility lies in his being able to pledge himself by a word, to direct his whole life in an instant."
This optimistic and confident understanding of the nature of man could also be applied to the vows of marriage.

There are scenes from the bakery, the smithy, the library and the fields, including some glorious views of the surrounding countryside from the weekly walk. The clothing of a new novice is shown by a young man who is divested of his military uniform and clothed with his new habit, recently cut for him by one of his new brothers.

The Liturgy is shown both in the simple arrangements for the little hours, the celebration of many private Masses between Lauds and Prime, and in the elaborate but smoothly conducted ceremonies of the Pontifical Mass for Pentecost. Here is a photo from the "bonus" section of the DVD:

The Abbot, Dom Louis Marie, explains that the Church is set aside for prayer: "Nothing else may be done there."

The shallow objection to monastic life is dealt with summarily. People often say to them that praying in Church for 5-6 hours a day serves no purpose. The reply:
"We don't serve a purpose. We serve someone. We serve God."
At the conclusion of the film, there is a quotation from Dom Gérard Calvet, the founder:
“Monks built Europe, but they did not do so intentionally. Their adventure is primarily interior, its unique motivation is thirst for the absolute, thirst for another world. Before being academies of knowledge and crossroads of civilizations, monasteries are an obstinate reminder that there is another world, of which this world is but the image, the herald, and the prefiguration.”
Thinking of the European elections in which we must vote on Thursday, the dreadful waste of money and institutionalised gravy train that makes our own recent sleaze look modest by comparison, it is amusing to ponder the monks building Europe as a side-effect of their life "hidden with Christ in God" and tragic to think of the enormous resources put into secularising it.

I am very grateful to Dom Edumund for kindly sending me a copy of this inspiring DVD. I warmly recommend getting a copy for yourself. You can order the DVD here. At the bottom of the page is a link for help in English when ordering it.

Here is a preview of the film:

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Fr Z also has a number of screen grabs in his post on the stunning DVD.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Blessing at the Grotto

After the torchlight procession, we were able to look at everyone's photos thanks to a card reader and laptop. Thanks to Wendy, Mac and Greg for sharing theirs. Above is a photo from yesterday afternoon's picnic which was followed by a game of rounders and then the Rosary at the Grotto. After the Rosary, I was allowed to bring the group of children closer for a blessing.

Yesterday was also an opportunity to catch up with Fr George of Blogging Lourdes. Sadly, he is soon to be leaving. At his blog, there is a series of posts about the altars in the Rosary basilica. It is a pity that smaller groups (or individual priests) are not allowed to use the beautiful altars for Mass.

We have our Mass this morning in the St Gabriel Chapel and then a lunchtime departure for Toulouse airport and our flight home. Say a prayer for a safe journey.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Fr Peyramale tributes

Our Missa Cantata this morning in the crypt of the parish Church of Lourdes was assisted by the superb acoustic of the chapel. I hope to get some photos from Wendy later. We managed quite well with the portable kit that we brought along, including a lightweight self-assembly set of six candlesticks.

Afterwards, we spent some time at the statue of the parish priest of Lourdes at the time of St Bernadette. There was a girl of about St Bernadette's age for our reconstruction but as she is taller than I am, a younger girl played the part of St Bernadette while I played the part of Fr Peyramale. At first, he prudently rejected St Bernadette's story of the "beautiful lady": there were many such stories circulating at the time. He was converted when St Bernadette told him that the lady said "I am the Immaculate Conception." He knew that St Bernadette, who had very little formal instruction in the faith, could not have made this up.

Afterwards, the boys pinched my biretta to see if they could land it on the head of the Monsignore as he was later dignified. Mgr Peyramale is one of my heroes at Lourdes. He was a good and wise parish priest and once convinced of the truth of the apparitions, protected St Bernadette with determination.

Later we went to the Grotto for the Rosary in the afternoon and baked under the sun. I was able to give the children a special blessing at the Grotto. We're off now to the torchlight procession...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

News and views from Lourdes

Above is a photo from of our "catechetical Mass" by Mulier Fortis (see her blog for other posts about our Lourdes trip.) Many of us went to the baths in the afternoon and others today. Several of the children told me today that this was their most important experience of Lourdes.

After Mass, we did the Stations of the Cross - many thanks to Wendy for her photos. You can see above that one of our young pilgrims did the Stations barefoot - he remembered going barefoot for the Holy Mile at Walsingham and just took off his shoes and socks without any prompting; they were put on again to run down the hill at the end.

Here we are at the foot of the Stations, at the Celtic Cross - the parents wanted a photo of me and all the children:

One young server got a shoulder-carry from Mum for part of the torchlight procession in the evening:

At the end of the procession, I joined the clergy for the blessing, led by Bishop McGough, Auxiliary in Birmingham. Here is a view of the pilgrims over the shoulders of two fellow priests:

Today we had a quieter Mass in the morning, followed by various trips out. I joined the one going up the Pic du Jer via the funicular railway. There are good views of the Pyrenees from the summit, as well as an overview of Lourdes:

We also enjoyed enjoyed the "Petit Train" which manoeuvred expertly through the town to the foot of the hill.

Fr Briggs found the journey interesting despite his varied experience of foreign travel, including his attempt to extend the reconquista to North Africa which we recalled at the top of the hill.

This evening, to give the parents a rest, I led a session for the children at which we said the Rosary, interspersed with catechesis and questions about various doctrines of the faith. This was followed by various worksheets prepared by Mac. These included things called "Wordsearch". The children are used to these at school but I am not, so I amused them by blatantly copying Caitlin's work, and then hamming up the sentence completion exercise.

Tomorrow morning, we have Mass in the parish Church at 9.30am. This will be a sung Mass: perhaps a High Mass if we can persuade a further cleric to join us.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Semiotic ambuguity in Lourdes

Today has been rather overcast in Lourdes with drizzle most of the day so I haven't tried to take a lot of photos. I said some office in the Crypt Chapel and then a private Mass while most of the group were doing the tour "In the footsteps of St Bernadette." The guides who run these walking tours are to be commended for their work which is always much appreciated by pilgrims.

In the afternoon, most of the group went to the baths before an afternoon "catechetical Mass" - Low Mass with hymns and some catechesis for the children at various points in the Mass. Plenty of silence too, of course. We followed this with a somewhat penitential Way of the Cross. The Stations at Lourdes are very striking with figures about twice lifesize. They were helpful in catechesis for the children at various points. I haven't got a photo of my own so here is one from Fr Lawrence Lew's Lourdes Flickr Set.

At various points in Lourdes, there are signs telling you not to do various things that you shouldn't do in a holy place. As you can see, most of them are fairly obvious:

However, Jonanthan suggested that one of them was at least ambiguous. Many people thought it prohibited begging (or giving to beggars?) but he suggested it was an interdiction against Communion in the hand:

Monday, 25 May 2009

Grando magna

And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple, and there were lightnings, and voices, and an earthquake, and great hail. (Rev 11.19)
Well we didn't have an earthquake, thanks be to God, but on the road out of Toulouse, the coach was hit by golfball-sized hailstones. Having negotiated that, we arrived a little late for dinner at the Hotel D'Angleterre in Lourdes. Apparently the Gave has overflowed its banks in the last couple of days. I'll try to get some photos of the river in spate tomorrow.

There are 12 children and 18 adults in the parish group for Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. Fr Charles Briggs is with us so we will be able to have a "catechetical Mass" and perhaps High Mass one day.

We strolled down to the grotto after dinner with children waving the parish flag and singing various songs. They particularly seem to like "God bless our Pope" which will probably be the anthem for this year.

We managed to meet up with Fr William Massie who is here with the Middlesbrough Pilgrimage. The Dioceses of Birmingham and Plymouth are here this week too, so we should meet some other priest friends. I'll remember all readers at Mass and at the Grotto.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

More on L'Osservatore

George Weigel has published an article about L'Osservatore Romano in National Review Online. (See: Parsing the Vatican Newspaper. It doesn’t always speak for the pope.) Fr Z commented on the article a couple of days ago. (See: Weigel on L’Osservatore Romano’s “fideist credulity”)

Weigel takes the line that although the newspaper is published by the Holy See, it "does not speak authoritatively for the Church in matters of faith, morals, or public-policy judgment", and that it is middle and lower-level officials who are enamoured of Barack Obama. He also discusses "the Vatican", saying that it is a confused bureaucracy and that "what counts is what is said by the Bishop of Rome."

This is fair enough up to a point and I can only commend George Weigel's loyalty to the Holy Father which I entirely share. Nevertheless, I think that this series of pro-Obama articles show that there are serious problems at the Vatican. L'Osservatore is the official newspaper of the Holy See and falls, for practical purposes, under the direction of the Secretariat of State. If it is true, as Weigel says, (and I agree) that "several recent pieces on the Obama administration in L’Osservatore Romano have been both factually questionable and analytically dubious" then that reflects badly on the Holy Father who exercises his pastoral ministry through the various departments of the Vatican, including the Secretariat of State and - well yes - L'Osservatore Romano.

Recent controversies have been harmful to the ministry of the Holy Father: the Williamson affair, the furious reaction to his mild and reasonable questioning of the effectiveness of condoms in the fight against HIV, and the appointment at Linz. It could be that his enemies now feel that it is "open season" and that his authority is weakened.

If so, that is wholly foolish on their part. Soft negotiating with Obama (or Tony Blair for that matter) will not help the Church but will assist the secularists in ushering in a new age of persecution, laughing as they see no effective resistance from the one organisation that could challenge their worldly consensus.

We must pray for the Holy Father. In doing so, it is worth remembering that St Vincent Ferrer pointed out that prayer for the Pope is not the same as prayer for any other individual. In the case of the Vicar of Christ, prayer is an appeal to his immediate superior.

Joanne Marie Preece

Yay! Congratulations to James and Ella Preece on the birth of Joanne Marie Preece the other day.

You can get the details of gas and air and things over at Catholic and Loving It

Pastoral care for a "lost sheep"

Firm, wise, and kindly advice from Fr Michael Mary FSSR to a commenter who has been attending a sedevacantist chapel. Father's advice includes the following:
[...] take a pen and a piece of paper, kneel down and write the following note:

“I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ upon the Apostle Peter, and today I fully accept Pope Benedict XVI as the true Pope of the Catholic Church and I submit myself to his authority in obedience to the same Jesus Christ who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.”

Then sign the paper and put the date beside your signature.
I advise you to make this act of submission to the Vicar of Christ. You will see the good that it will do for you.
While you are over at the blog of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, have a look at the new ship that has arrived to help them transport a marble altar, church furnishings, sheep, cattle, stone chips, fuel, tractor, trailer and machinery.

The ship is called the "Saint Alphonsus" - naturally. She was blessed on Ascension night:

Saturday, 23 May 2009

"It would be better for him ..."

The report of the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse has dominated religious reporting in England over the past few days. Here are the key documents:

Executive Summary

Full Report

They make sickening and heartbreaking reading. I don't intend to try and say anything clever or original in the face of this evil. Have a look at the above pious representation of Our Lord's love for children. Or this one:

Our Lord said what needs to be said in the case of one who commits scandal against children, let alone sodomy:
It were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt 18.6)
I am reminded of the heartfelt words of Pope Benedict at his Homily at the Mass for bishops, Seminarians and Novices during his visit to Australia last year:
Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. Indeed, I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured, and I assure them that, as their Pastor, I too share in their suffering. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain and have damaged the Church’s witness. I ask all of you to support and assist your Bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people.
It is worth watching the homily in the clip below for the emphasis he places on the words "unequivocal cnodemnation". The quotation above is at 08:23.

I will offer Mass at Lourdes next week for all those who have suffered as children in these ghastly cases of betrayal of trust.

There seems to have been a local resurgence in the craze for rosaries. I keep a large box of blue and pink plastic rosaries to give out for free, and small boys have been ringing my doorbell all day asking for them. It is a nuisance to be interrupted but I take some consolation in the fact that they haven't yet decided that every Catholic priest is a bogeyman.

If you are puzzling in your soul about what is at the root of the child abuse scandal, one good book is "After Asceticism" which I reviewed for Faith Magazine last year.


Pope2You is a new project from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications with links to the YouTube channel, WikiCath, and Facebook and iPhone apps.

I just got the item I need to fill up a space in this week's parish newsletter.

CBCEW photostream

Taking my daily flick through the blogs, I find that NLM has various photos of the Installation, Vespers etc. from ... the Flickr photostream of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. It even has a creative commons license.

Let's not be sniffy about this. Congratulations! Sincerely.

Here's a photo from Solemn Vespers:

And yep -

Photo credit: CCN/Marcin Mazur.

Springfield's Got Talent

I heard about this one the other day and just found it on Yahoo.

Canon Ruscillo

At a meeting of the Faith Movement a while back, people were calling Fr Luiz Ruscillo "Canon". I thought they were joking but they weren't. On Tuesday 12 May, Bishop Campbell of Lancaster (successor to Bishop O'Donoghue) installed Canon Ruscillo and Canon Watson as canons of the Cathedral Chapter.

Luiz came to the Venerable English College just after I had been elected "Senior Student." (Something of a surprise result, it would be fair to say.) I therefore had the task of inducting him and fellow first years into life at Rome. It is great to see his sterling work recognised by his diocese. Canon Ruscillo is head of the Diocesan Education Service and has assisted Bishop O'Donoghue with some of the "Fit for Mission" documents. Here is a photo that we were chuckling over the other day (Canon Luiz is on the left):

Congratulations, Canons! (I have instructed Canon Ruscillo to bring his new kit down to Blackfen for my Jubilee Mass.)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Weekend shooting party

Fr Z has started a good game at his blog. (See: Weekend) Here are the rules:
You can invite EIGHT people to join you for a leisurely weekend. Call it a shooting party ala Gosford Park.

There will be slow and well-paced meals and, of course pre-prandials.

Since you are at the WDTPRS county manor (on my planet, that is), you will be able to talk into the night and continue the next day.

Who MUST be there?

Go over to Fr Z to see his list. Off the top of my head, here's mine for the party at the Hermeneutical Country House:
  • Damian Thompson
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Hilary White
  • Catherine Pepinster
  • Tom Pink
  • Mgr Basil Loftus
  • Fr Ray Blake
  • Tony Blair
I have an extra rule: No Confidentiality. Everything can be put on blogs, twitter, YouTube or in the dead tree press.

Fr Selvester moving to Blessed Sacrament Shrine

The Bishop of Metuchen has appointed Father Guy Selvester (Shouts in the Piazza) as Rector of the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Raritan, New Jersey with effect from June 16 2009.

The Shrine, built in 1856, was made the home of the Diocesan Eucharistic League in 1989. In addition, the Shrine has been the home of the usus antiquior in the Diocese of Metuchen. Under the Ecclesia Dei indult, the old Mass was celebrated there on Sunday morning twice a month. Since Summorum Pontificum it has been celebrated daily in addition to a daily celebration of the ordinary form.

Fr Selvester has a post giving more information about the shrine.

My warmest congratulations to Fr Selvester. Please remember him in your prayers as he prepares to take up his new appointment.

Pro-Life vigils: priests needed

Pro-Life vigils are a very good opportunity for priests to give support to active pro-lifers. The Helpers of God's Precious Infants often speak of how a prayerful presence outside an abortion clinic is a way of spiritually being present at Calvary. it may be that a life is saved, maybe not. What is important is to be there peacefully and prayerfully in union with Christ.

The Helpers always like to have a priest with them. It can be a little uncomfortable because sometimes there are hostile reactions - but sometimes it is painfully obvious that such reactions are themselves indicative of post-abortion trauma. I sometimes get over to the Maidstone vigils but I can't make the next one I was asked for. I suggested to Carole that I could make an appeal here for priest volunteers and she welcomed the idea.

So if you are a priest and can spare a couple of hours just once in a while to get over to Maidstone, please email Carole.

St Thérèse in Oxford

The relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux will be exposed for veneration in churches throughout England & Wales in the autumn of 2009. They will be in the Oratory in Oxford on 7th and 8th October and there is a blog giving news and updates concerning the visit. See: St Thérèse in Oxford. There is also a Brochure for the event.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Criticism of L'Osservatore Romano builds

L'Osservatore Romano recently published an article which was astonishingly favourable to President Obama. The other day, the Editor, Gian Maria Vian gave an interview to Paolo Rodari of Palazzo Apostolico, justifying the article. Catholic News Agency has a report in English. Vian astonishingly says that Obama "is not a pro-abortion president."

Concerning the commencement address, he says:
“His speech at Notre Dame has been respectful toward every position. He tried to engage the debate stepping out from every ideological position and outside every ‘confrontational mentality.’ To this extent his speech is to be appreciated.”
Vian plays down the opposition of "a few bishops", simple faithful and pro-lifers, presenting them as though they were one of two sides in a debate which is observed impartialy by L'Osservatore Romano.

Here are links to further comment:

Fr Z: Rodari interviews Vian on what he is up to with L’Osservatore Romano

LifeSite News: Vatican Attempting to Build Diplomatic Bridges with Obama Coverage in L'Osservatore Romano: Rome HLI Leader

Fr Z suggests that the reason for the approach of L'Osservatore and its positive approach to seeking "common ground" is pressure from the Secretariat of State in view of the forthcoming visit of Obama to Rome in July.

The LifeSite News report quotes Mgr Barreiro who urges a realistic approach:
"Someone has to ask the question of whether we [as pro-life persons] can speak of a 'common ground' with those who believe that killing a baby in the womb is a right of women? That no authority, no human authority, can force a woman to respect the life of a child? From a logical perspective I cannot see how we can speak of a common ground."
He accepts the importance of dialogue in order to slow the advance of Obama's anti-life policies but points out that our ability to negotiate depends on the commitment of Catholics who are ready to defend life.

The L'Osservatore article makes the mistake often made by ecclesiastics in recent times of thinking that a good way of negotiating with politicians is to cosy up to them and play down our distinctive position in the hope that they will be nice to us and make concessions. It doesn't work.

Catholic Herald installation coverage

The Catholic Herald has live update coverage of the Installation of Archbishop Nichols which is starting in a few minutes.

[UPDATE] Here are a few screen grabs from near the beginning of the ceremony as televised live on BBC2.

First Communion photos

Saturday the 9th of May

Saturday the 16th of May

Derek Hope of Kent Photonews kindly sent me web-suitable versions of the official photos that he took of our first communion groups over the past two Saturdays. Please remember the children and their families in your prayers.

If you are looking for a wedding photographer, I recommend Derek - his website shows that he offers a very good and reasonably-priced service.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

"The 13th Day" - film about Fatima

"The 13th Day", a new film by Ian and Dominic Higgins, premiered last week at the Cannes Film Festival. The makers are currently negotiating for someone to handle the distribution and expect it to be available in North America in 6 months. I hope that they succeed and that it is also available for us over here. Here is the official trailer which looks good:

Summer School for Young Catholics

I am happy to pass on details of the Summer School for Young Catholics. I have known several young people who have attended this summer school and have gained great benefit from it.

International Summer School for Young Catholics
Restore All Things in Christ

July 25th – August 1st 2009 at the Oratory Preparatory School, near Reading

After the sad death of David Foster in late December, Dominic Sullivan, Sr. Valerie Walker O.P. and Susanna Ward intend to continue the International Summer School which he started in 1982. David had a high ideal of what a Catholic school should be, insisting that it must not simply impart religious doctrine as an isolated subject, but that supernatural revelation should inform the whole of its syllabus and life. Although only a week long, his summer school tried to cover a wide range of knowledge within a Catholic framework, and to demonstrate that modern culture both derives from Catholic roots and yet denies them.

The course is not a retreat, although there is Holy Mass and Rosary every day, and lessons on religious doctrine and spiritual subjects form part of the curriculum. There are also opportunities for swimming, sport and other activities in the beautiful setting of the Oratory Preparatory School. On most evenings there is a visiting speaker.

The course is open to young people between the ages of 13 - 19. The cost will be £220. For further information about application, please contact the Course Director by May 31st 2009.

Enquiries to:
Course Director
Dominic Sullivan
15 Maple Lodge
Whitefield Close
London SW15 3SS

Tel: 0208 788 8659


What the Dialogue Mass looked like

This fascinating clip, first broadcast on 25 September 1960 by Radio Canada, shows the beginning of a Pontifical Low Mass for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost celebrated by Bishop Émilien Frenette, Bishop of Saint-Jérôme, in the Studio. The Mass is celebrated as a "Dialogue Mass" versus populum, and the populum confidently bellows out the various responses in Latin.

Everyone knows what to do - the maniple is ready for the end of the Indulgentiam, the servers assist the Bishop ascending the steps by holding the fringe of his alb in ceremonial deference to his office as "Pontifex" and the bugia (hand-held candle) is there right on time for the Introit Miserere mihi Domine. Within a decade, all of this will be rapidly disappearing from the rite.


iConfess (leave the apples be)

H/T American Papist

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pre-reformation rite of installation to be used

The blog for the Installation of Archbishop Nichols has some interesting updates. The music promises to be superb:
James MacMillan has been commissioned to write two pieces: one for choir, organ, brass and timps, the other for choir a cappella. Both are settings of texts from the pre-reformation rite of reception and installation of an Archbishop of Canterbury.

Other music will include 2 specially composed fanfares by Colin Mawby, a former Master of Music, and his setting of Ave verum corpus. The mass setting is Palestrina's Missa Tu es Petrus, and the offertory motet is an 8-part Venetian setting of Iubilate Deo by Giovanni Gabrieli. The Te Deum is sung to gregorian chant alternating with a fauxbourdon by Victoria.
The rite itself is to be the ancient Catholic rite used in similar circumstances for the Reception and Installation of the Archbishops of Canterbury prior to the Reformation.

See also Christina White's excellent article in the Catholic Herald on the new vestments: Byzantium with a twist of mulberry silk.

Damian reports that the Tablet have been asking how much they cost. Sigh!

Quousque tandem abutere Tabula patientia nostra?

(google the phrase)

Collect for St Simon Stock

At Aylesford there is a reliquary containing the skull of St Simon Stock whose feast was celebrated last Saturday in the Archdiocese of Southwark. Here is the proper collect for his feast as found in the Southwark supplement to my old breviary:
Plebs tibi, Domine, Virginique Matri dicata, beati Simonis solemnitate laetetur: et sicut per eum tantae protectionis signum obtinuit, ita praedestinationis aeternae munera consequatur.

O Lord, may the community dedicated to You and to the Virgin Mary rejoice at the solemnity of blessed Simon: and just as it obtained through Him a sign of such great protection, so may it gain possession of the gifts of eternal predestination.
The "sign of such great protection" is a reference to the brown scapular. When Our Lady appeared to St Simon, giving him this distinctive Carmelite clothing, she said that whoever died devoutly wearing it would not suffer the fire. Promises such as these are never intended to be a "get out of jail free" card but an assistance to those who devoutly use such sacramentals. Hence the prayer asking humbly for the blessings of eternal predestination, not a presumptuous claim.

I translated "plebs" as "community" following the late Latin use noted in Lewis and Short. It conveys the sense that there is a particular community that is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, including both the Carmelites themselves and those who wear the brown scapular.

It is a great blessing to be so near Aylesford. It takes me about minutes to drive there from Blackfen so I sometimes call over when I have an opportunity, especially to join the community for Saturday compline and the Carmelite anthem "Flos Carmeli" (more information at this post.)

Petition on Holy Days

A petition has been posted regarding the celebration of Holydays:
We would like Archbishop Vincent Nichols to reinstate the celebration of Ascension, Corpus Christi and Epiphany to their correct days.
It runs until the eve of Corpus Christi.

Sign the petition here.

Letter from Cardinal Hummes on year of Priesthood

Since Cláudio Cardinal Hummes became Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, I have occasionally received emails from the Congregation in the form of circular letters to priests. These are always encouraging and today's is no exception.

Cardinal Hummes has written to us concerning the Year of Priesthood. Here is the page for the letter. (You can either read it online or download it.) Here is a quotation:
The announcement of the Year of Priesthood has been very warmly received, especially amongst priests themselves. Everyone wants to commit themselves with determination, sincerity and fervour so that it may be a year amply celebrated in the whole world – in the Dioceses, parishes and in every local community – with the warm participation of our Catholic people who undoubtedly love their priests and want to see them happy, holy and joyous in their daily apostolic labours.
During the Jubilee Year, the Congregation for the Clergy collected a number of articles for its section of the Vatican Website. See: Jubilee for Priests.

Monday, 18 May 2009

High Mass at the Pantheon

The Pantheon is one of the most impressive buildings of ancient Rome which still survives intact. Built in 31 BC by Marcus Vispanius Agrippa in the aftermath of the Battle of Actium, it was destroyed by fire in 80AD and then rebuilt by Hadrian in 126AD. The inscription across the facade reads:


which means "Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, consul for the third time, built this." It is interesting that despite several other words being abbreviated, the word "tertium" appears in full. In his Noctes Atticae, book 10, (Latin - English) Aulus Gellius reports the controversy over whether one should say "tertium" or "tertio." Even Cicero hesitated to express a definite opinion and advised Pompey to have the ambiguous abbreviation "tert." inscribed on the Temple of Victory which was consecrated in his third consulship. It seems to me that Marcus Varro's solution as reported by Gellius, makes a cogent case for a distinction.

Quibus dictis...

In 609 the building was consecrated by Pope Benedict IV to Sancta Maria ad Martyres and this year marks the 1400th anniversary of that consecration. Last week, Solemn High Mass in the usus antiquior was celebrated for the occasion. J P Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus reported on the event, with the information that the celebrant was from Australia, the deacon was from Italy and the subdeacon was from the United States. It is encouraging to hear that the schola cantorum consisted of priests and seminarians from Pontifical Universities in Rome. Here is J P Sonnen's video of the first part of the Mass:

Young Catholic Adults Douai Abbey Retreat

It is very heartening to receive news of so many different retreats and events, especially for young people. Organisers frequently tell me that they receive many bookings after a notice has been posted here, so I am happy to help.

Young Catholic Adults Douai Abbey Retreat

During the weekend of the 18-20 September 2009. Young Catholic Adults (YCA are part of the International Juventutem Federation) will be running a Traditional Retreat at Douai Abbey in the south of England. The weekend will be led by Juventutem Ecclesiastical Assistant Fr de Malleray.

Here are some particularly encouraging points to note: they show that Summorum Pontificum is working - as Fr Z says - "brick by brick."
  • For the first time Young Catholic Adults will be using the main Abbey Church for Mass
  • For the first time YCA will be organising a Missa Cantata, sung by the Douai Singers; this will be followed by a Marian Procession
  • YCA has booked out the whole of the retreat complex this year, on the advice of Douai Abbey itself, as the monks were so pleased with the YCA retreat last year
YCA will have the retreat centre to itself, and there will be a social in the evening. Fr de Malleray FSSP head of Juventutem will preach the retreat, and all Masses will be in the Extraordinary form.

There will be a Sung Mass (Missa Cantata) in the main Abbey Church on Saturday 19 September 09 at 10am. (Choir: the Douai Singers) This will be followed by a Marian Procession at 11am around the extensive grounds of the Abbey. (If the weather is poor there will be Marian devotions in the main Abbey Church.) This event will be open to the public. There are also a few rooms allocated for all age groups (not just YCA) so please book soon.

How to book
The weekend will be full-board (except for the Sunday lunch.) The cost will be from as little as £25 for students (or £48-88 for non-students). For more details, please see the notice at the YCA website or email Places are limited so please book early.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Does God exist?

This video was produced by the "New Moment New Ideas Company" for the Government of the Republic of Macedonia's, Ministry of Education and Science. It is one of a series of commercials in a social campaign aimed at promoting education. The campaign headline is "Knowledge is Power"; the headline of the commercial is "Religion is knowledge, too. Bringing religion back to school."

ProLife Alliance petitions

The ProLife Alliance currently have two petitions running; one concerns the right to life of the human embryo, and the second calls for the rejection of abortion adverts on TV and radio.

(Don't forget the 10 Downing Street Petition against abortion advertising.)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Priest arrested at Notre Shame

This is an amazing video of the elderly and frail Father Norman Weslin of Omaha, NE, former army colonel and founder of the Lambs of Christ, being plasticuffed and arrested for his pro-life protest at Notre Shame University. They have to load him on a stretcher to take him away.

He is one of a number who have been arrested. As the Catholic Online story puts it:
This week probably marks the first time in the history of the University when individuals have been arrested on campus for exercising their Catholic convictions and praying a prayer that has been recited in their chapel millions of times since its founding in 1842.
Pity the Police. If they had the laws we have in the UK, they could have arrested people for taking the photos.

Video of Fr Ray's Jubilee Mass

The other day I wrote about the High Mass in honour of the Carthusian Martyrs on the occasion of Fr Ray Blake's silver jubilee. Here is a video made by Budaev with shots from the Mass:

Just in case there is any confusion: the video has been compiled with music from the Mass and various sequences but the music is not synchronised with the liturgical actions. The choir were the parish schola and the Brighton Chamber Choir, directed by Jane Money.

You can also read the excellent sermon given by Fr Sean Finnegan.

Talk on Religious Freedom in Britain

There is an important talk by Neil Addison at the next meeting of the London Oratory’s Call to Youth (for 18 - 35 year olds) this Wednesday 20 May at 8pm in St Wilfrid’s Hall, The Oratory, Brompton Road.

Neil Addison, a Catholic barrister, and author of the book "Religious Discrimination and Hatred Law" will be speaking on "Religious Freedom in Britain", especially addressing the threats to religious freedom today and the way in which we can use the law to protect our liberty.

The talk is important because although British Catholics have, in recent times, enjoyed relative freedom in the practice of their Faith, this is not something that can be taken for granted.

There will be refreshments afterwards and you can contribute to the discussion with your own questions.

First Communions - usus recentior photos

Another lovely first Holy Communion Mass today gives me an opportunity to post photographs of the celebration of Mass in the ordinary form, usus recentior, Novus Ordo, Missal of Paul VI at Blackfen. It is in fact the form of Mass that is used for the vast majority of our Masses at Our Lady of the Rosary.

Here is the Offertory Procession:

One of the standard photos of the usus antiquior is when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The photo doesn't quite work in the newer form because the priest disappears, apart from his bald patch:

Here is a good photo of the special moment itself:

Please remember the children and their families in your prayers.

Christ's real presence

The other evening at Blackfen, Raymond De Souza gave an excellent talk on "Jesus Presence in the Eucharist - real or just symbolic." The talk was excellent, demonstrating that Jesus used both literal and figurative language in his teaching, and that when he spoke of giving us his flesh and blood in John 6, he was clearly speaking literally and not figuratively. We finished off, appropriately, with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

You can find out more about Raymond at the website of Saint Gabriel Communications. He is well-known across the world from his various series on EWTN.

Bernadette and Gary Bevans of Mary's Dowry Productions kindly brought Raymond along and it was good to meet them too.

Retreat for Clergy in July

Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP will be giving a retreat for Clergy from Monday 13 July (3pm) to Thursday 16 July (12noon) at Douai Abbey in Berkshire, on the theme ”The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our priestly identification to Christ.” The retreat celebrates the Year of the priesthood with St John Mary Vianney, Curé of Ars.

This will be a silent retreat with reading at meals related to the theme of the retreat. There are full details at the website for the FSSP in Great Britain.

Donations are invited to help clergy attend the retreat: cheques should be payable to ”FSSP England” and sent to Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, 179 Elgar Rd, Reading RG2 0DH, Berks. (Please mention ”Retreat Sponsoring”.)

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Friends of the Suffering Souls

The Friends of the Suffering Souls is a Catholic Lay Association which conducts a perpetual novena of Masses for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It was inspired by the 100 consecutive Masses offered for the Holy Souls by the Venerable Archdeacon Cavanagh, Parish Priest of Knock prior to the appearance there of Our Blessed Mother in 1879.

The basic idea is that once a year, members ask a priest to say Mass for the Holy Souls. At the website you can read lots about why this is a good idea.

If you are a lay person, I encourage you to join the Association. If you are a priest, you may be able to help in a particular way. The Association needs priests who will be happy to accept requests for Masses for the Holy Souls. Unfortunately, I cannot put my name down because I have so many Masses already requested in my parish that I am unable to invite more from elsewhere. However I know that many priests do not receive many requests for Mass intentions. You can put your name down for the ordinary or extraordinary form, or both.

Email to join or (if a priest) to make yourself available to accept requests for Masses. Priests are especially needed from the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand.
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