Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sacred, Beautiful, & Universal

Thanks to Jeffrey tucker of NLM for posting this video which may help people to understand why music for liturgy matters. have a look at his comments, too.

Non-existent young women - the photos

Krista Gesaman reported in Newsweek that there were no young women at the recent March for Life in Washington.

Hilary has helpfully posted some photos of the non-existent young women. See: Balanced reporting

Friday, 29 January 2010

Thanks to the Catholic Herald

Many thanks to the Catholic Herald which has spoken very kindly about me in the leader article of this week's paper.

May I take this opportunity to draw your attention to the list of blogs by priests and religious in the sidebar. They represent a wide variety of styles and interests within orthodox Catholicism.

As soon as this post is published, I will add to that list a new blog: Let the Welkin Ring, which is written by Fr Wilfrid Elkin of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

Persecuted German homeschoolers granted asylum in USA

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) provides advocacy to defend the rights of parents to direct the education of their family, and to defend the freedom of families. They are also involved in political and media lobbying.

On their website today, there is news of a surprising case in which Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman granted the political asylum application of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, Christians from Bissinggen, Germany, homeschool their children and have fled from Germany because of its draconian anti-homeschooling legislation. Judge Burnham said:
“Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution…therefore, they are eligible for asylum…and the court will grant asylum.”
See: Homeschooling Family Granted Political Asylum

Mike Donnelly, staff attorney and director of international relations for HSLDA said:
“This decision finally recognizes that German homeschoolers are a specific social group that is being persecuted by a Western democracy,”
Donnelly also pointed out:
“It is embarrassing for Germany, since a Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children. This judge understood the case perfectly, and he called Germany out. We hope this decision will cause Germany to stop persecuting homeschoolers,”
In Germany, homeschooling families face fines, and the threat of imprisonment. In November 2007, the German Federal High Court in Karlsruhe ruled that children of homeschooling parents could be taken into care because homeschooling constitutes child endangerment, and because the public has the right to be protected from "parallel societies" based on religion or worldview. Families who homeschool are likely to be visited by the Police who will "escort" their children to school.

One family did appeal to the European Court of Human Rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, but the Court refused to hear the case. The Court did agree that homeschooling was an exercise of protected parental liberties, but accepted the concerns of the lower German courts that homeschooling would create a parallel society - and that this was sufficient to override parental freedom.

Homeschooling was made illegal in Germany on 6 July 1938 when the Reichsschulgesetz (Reich School Legislation) was signed by Adolf Hitler and Reichsminister Rust.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Good chastity presentation for schools

Robert Colquhoun has just published his presentation on "Theology of the Body for Schools". This is a good and straightforward exposition of the Churchs' teaching concerning chastity, together with some hard-hitting information in response to some popular myths.

Mgr Marini's address and Jeffrey Tucker's introduction

As an example of the use of the new media, encouraged recently by the Holy Father, a good example is the widespread distribution of the address by Mgr Guido Marini to the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy gathered in Rome earlier this month.

The Wanderer are going to publish this paper as a special monograph and they have invited Jeffrey Tucker of the New Liturgical Movement blog to write an introduction. Understandably, he describes this as "a rather intimidating assignment" but I consider that he has done justice to the task. One quotation:
Msgr. Marini has been a leader for Catholics of the world in the revival of the preconciliar form of liturgy and also in the reform of the modern ritual in a manner than makes it part of the great continuity of development that stretches from our times back to apostolic times. In this essay, he presents the rationale for reform from his perspective, from the perspective of the Pope, and also the perspective of uninterrupted Catholic teaching. There is so much to learn from in his speech, and it leaves us all with so much to do and for which we must all pray.
I encourage you to read the whole article: Introduction to Msgr. Marini's Address.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Remembering Queen Katherine of Aragon

Each year, the Anglican Cathedral of Peterborough holds various events in January to commemorate Queen Katherine of Aragon, the wife of King Henry VIII, who is buried in the Cathedral. This coming Friday 29 January, there are a number of events; of particular interest is that Mass will be celebrated by Fr David Jennings, of the Catholic parish of St Luke's in Peterborough, at the High Altar at 8.30am.

The Peterborough Cathedral website has details of various other events throughout the day. At 5pm there will be a candlelight procession at which people will be invited to leave a pomegranate (Queen Katherine's personal symbol) or a prayer, card or flower at her tomb. It is good to see that the events also actively involve local school children.

I am rather sorry that I cannot go to Peterborough on Friday. The saintly and heroic Queen Katherine deserves to be better honoured in the country to which she gave her life only to be humiliated by her lecherous husband; and Peterborough Cathedral is itself one of our most important buildings in its own right. I must make a visit some time soon.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Eastern Churches must face East

A correspondent kindly sent me this most interesting quotation from prescriptions applying to the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome:
Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches
Issued January 6, 1996 by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
The Vatican. Libreria Editrice Vaticana - 1996

107. Prayer facing the east
Ever since ancient times, it has been customary in the prayer of the Eastern Churches to prostrate oneself to the ground, turning toward the east; the buildings themselves were constructed such that the altar would face the east. Saint John of Damascus explains the meaning of this tradition: "It is not for simplicity nor by chance that we pray turned toward the regions of the east (...). Since God is intelligible light (1 Jn. 1:5), and in the Scripture, Christ is called the Sun of justice (Mal. 3:20) and the East (Zec. 3:8 of the LXX), it is necessary to dedicate the east to him in order to render him worship. The Scripture says: 'Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed' (Gen. 2:8). (...) In search of the ancient homeland and tending toward it, we worship God. Even the tent of Moses had its curtain veil and propitiatory facing the east. And the tribe of Judah, in as much as it was the most notable, encamped on the east side (cf. Nm. 2:3). In the temple of Solomon, the Lord's gate was facing the east (cf. Ez. 44:1). Finally, the Lord placed on the cross looked toward the west, and so we prostrate ourselves in his direction, facing him. When he ascended to heaven, he was raised toward the east, and thus his disciples adored him, and thus he will return, in the same way as they saw him go to heaven (cf. Acts 1:11), as the Lord himself said: 'For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be' (Mt. 24:27). Waiting for him, we prostrate ourselves toward the east. It is an unwritten tradition, deriving from the Apostles."[85]

This rich and fascinating interpretation also explains the reason for which the celebrant who presides in the liturgical celebration prays facing the east, just as the people who participate. It is not a question, as is often claimed, of presiding the celebration with the back turned to the people, but rather of guiding the people in pilgrimage toward the Kingdom, invoked in prayer until the return of the Lord.

Such practice, threatened in numerous Eastern Catholic Churches by a new and recent Latin influence, is thus of profound value and should be safeguarded as truly coherent with the Eastern liturgical spirituality

From the See of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, 6 January 1996, Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany.


[85] John of Damascus, Expositio accurata fidei orthodoxae IV, 12: PG 94, 1133-1136.
As you can probably see, there is nothing there that does not also apply to the Western Liturgy. The "new and recent" Latin influence is, in terms of Church history, very new and very recent.

Online sex game for children: sound comments from Kidscape

Papermint is a new online game for children which creates a cute virtual world in which children are encouraged to form "relationships", get pregnant and have a "paper baby". There is no lower age limit and no "date of birth" verification. Children playing in this virtual world are invited to set up a personal avatar and indicate whether or not they enjoy having sex.

Peter Bradley, deputy director of Kidscape is rightly concerned, and has done well to get several good points across in the Sun:
What on earth are they thinking? This website is irresponsible and of significant concern.

Even if this site were to be aimed at adults I would have concerns. But to think this can be accessed by any child - no matter what their age - is an outrage.

To encourage children to enable their avatar to have sex, become pregnant and then to talk about it to others is totally irresponsible.

This is not based on educational messages. It just encourages young people to have an inappropriate online lifestyle.

Kidscape also has concerns about communication between avatars - is the site moderated? If not, there are serious child protection concerns.
See: Kids web sex game slammed

Lessons for life from Fr Fortescue

There is a fun post at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping: Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from Adrian Fortescue. Just a couple of examples:
Fortescue on Modesty and Dating:
“Two points occur on which one might hope the authorities would simplify. One is the constant kissing.” --Introduction, xix (1920 edition)

Fortescue on In-Flight Meal Service, or possibly MacGyver’s Methodology:
“…with the addition of the bread, lemon, and a fresh hand-towel…” --Confirmation, p. 427, fn. 21
(McGyver refers to a character in a US action adventure series.)

Vatican on Twitter - not

Last week I put up a post celebrating the Vatican's being on Twitter. It turns out that this was an imposter (Te Deum has the details) so I have deleted the post. It seems that the incident has prompted at least one person at the Holy See to reflect “It wasn’t us — but it should have been us.”

Apologies for the misinformation. I have removed the offending post.

There are at least three other "Vatican" Twitter accounts so you can take them with a pinch of salt as well.

Monday, 25 January 2010

My sermon on ecumenism

As today marks the close of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, here is my sermon from yesterday on the subject:

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12.13)
Today falls as the Sunday within the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. 45 years ago, the second Vatican Council had a particular concern for promoting Christian Unity and addressed the question in a special Decree on Ecumenism. The Council did not in any way contradict the traditional teaching of the Church: indeed it said that the fullness of unity subsists in the Catholic Church. In one place, the decree says:
“Jesus Christ, then, willed that the apostles and their successors - the bishops with Peter’s successor at their head - should preach the Gospel faithfully, administer the sacraments, and rule the Church in love. It is thus, under the action of the Holy Spirit, that Christ wills His people to increase, and He perfects His people's fellowship in unity: in their confessing the one faith, celebrating divine worship in common, and keeping the fraternal harmony of the family of God.” (n.2)
Unfortunately, as the Council also observed, rifts arose in the Church from the beginning, and out of those rifts grew communities that are not blessed with the gift of the fullness of unity. Such would be the Nestorian and Monophysite Churches of the East in places such as Syria and Egypt, the schism by which the Orthodox Church broke away from Communion with Rome, and the Reformation which gave rise to the Lutheran and Calvinist Churches denying the priesthood, the sacrifice of the Mass, the invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics, indulgences, and most importantly the authority of the Church’s magisterium.

In England we had our own particular tragedy with the reformation of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I which gave rise to the Anglican Church. In the late sixties and early seventies, there was great optimism about the prospect of complete reunion with the Anglican Church. Sadly, events since then within the Anglican Communion, such as the ordination of women to the priesthood, have rendered that most unlikely – if indeed it was ever a real possibility.

Nevertheless, the work of ecumenism with the Anglican Church and other communities of the West continues in a spirit of mutual charity. The Church seeks to extend the hand of friendship to those belonging to the other Christian communities, to enter dialogue with the purpose of greater understanding, and to pray together where this is appropriate.

Locally, through “Churches Together in Sidcup”, there are many activities organised, and regular shared prayer so that we can co-operate with other good Christians where possible in giving witness to Christ. At a national level, I have been delighted to work together with other Christians, often evangelicals, who share our concern at legislation which seeks to limit the freedom of Christians to express their faith in public or in the workplace. Many also share our advocacy for the unborn, the elderly, the disabled and for the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

More recently, Pope Benedict has offered a concrete possibility for Anglicans wishing to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. He has issued a Constitution called Anglicanorum Coetibus which will enable them to be received as communities, with their own Bishop or senior priest in charge, and even using some of their own rites, provided, of course, that they are modified to reflect the fullness of Catholic faith. I have personally been in touch with some Anglicans who wish to make use of this generous provision and we may be sure that the Church will be enriched as a result.

In our prayers and work for Christian unity, we should not limit ourselves to the now traditional concern of unity with the Anglican and Protestant communities. Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict have worked very hard to improve relations with the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Overcoming prejudice and ingrained anti-Roman attitudes can be a task requiring patience and perseverance but both Popes have made considerable headway and some of the smaller Eastern Churches have been brought into full communion. Pope John Paul II said that if the Orthodox Churches were once again to be in full communion with Rome, the Church could again “breathe with both lungs”. We should pray to the Holy Spirit, to St Andrew, St Basil, St John Chrysostom and the other great saints of the East for this intention.

Finally there are others whose unity with the Catholic Church is a concern of the Holy Father, most notably the traditionalist Society of St Pius X, founded by Archbishop Lefevbre in the midst of the aberrations that followed the second Vatican Council in the late sixties and early seventies. His consecration of four bishops without the permission of the Holy See was a schismatic act but the Holy See has tried very hard to overcome this division. Recently, the excommunications of the Bishops were lifted, an event unfortunately overshadowed by the disgraceful remarks of Bishop Williamson minimising the Nazi holocaust. His remarks have been repudiated by the Holy Father and by the Society of St Pius X but caused considerable damage to the cause of unity.

Currently there are earnest and sincere discussions taking place in Rome to overcome any theological differences and essentially to agree on interpreting the second Vatican Council in accord with the whole tradition of the Church, as indeed has been a major theme of Pope Benedict’s pontificate.

There is therefore much to pray for and to work for in terms of Christian Unity. In our own lives, the Holy Father’s approach can set an example. We should be prepared to give way in charity to others in matters that are merely custom or non-essential (such as, for example the use of leavened bread for the Eucharist, or the use of local liturgical rites) while firmly preserving the fullness of the Catholic faith entrusted by Christ to the apostles. And if our desire for unity is to be compelling in its effects, we must live that Catholic faith generously so that the attraction of the truth of Christ is shown in practice and itself invites others into communion with the one Church which Christ founded on the rock of Peter.

Interview with Bishop Schneider

Many bloggers have already picked up on the video posted by Diane at Te Deum Laudamus. Bishop Scheider speaks about the reception of Holy Communion:

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Holy Father encourages us to blog - with a priestly heart

It has been a normally busy Saturday in the parish: Mass (EF) Exposition, Confessions, Benediction, arranging Baptism, and Convalidation, newsletter, Confessions, Mass (OF), house blessing with tea and cakes and chat about the Church and education. So I finally got home, finished the Office, checked my email, and remembered that today is the day for the release of the Holy Father's message for World Communications Day.

The Holy Father could not be more explicit in encouraging of priests to use the new media in their apostolate:
[...] priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different "voices" provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.
I was reminded of the message by a correspondent who sent me a link to the Telegraph story headed Pope tells priests to get blogging. Newspapers quite naturally extrapolate from a message to get a good headline so I checked, and was pleased to see that the Holy Father did actually mention blogs. This is an immense encouragement for priestly bloggers. Perhaps he understands that the Catholics blogosphere is overwhelmingly loyal to the magisterium and provides an alternative to the negative slant often given to the Holy See in the mainstream media (both Catholic and secular).

Pope Benedict also has some wise words of advice particularly for priests hinting at the dangers present in becoming a voice in the "digital continent":
Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a "soul" to the fabric of communications that makes up the "Web".
That is a very good and easily memorable summary - be known for your priestly heart more than for your media savvy. That is an item to add to the priest-blogger's examination of conscience.

At the conclusion of the message, the Holy Father renews his invitation with reference to the public square:
To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new "agorà" which the current media are opening up.
I also checked the texts for the Press Conference introducing the message. For the speech of Archbishop Claudio Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the text simply says that he presented in PowerPoint a synthesis of the Holy Father's message. Good one! next step is to embed a slide show of the presentation. Mgr Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council, also gave a speech and this is posted in an English translation.

Nurses Opposed to Euthansia: Study Day

Nurses Opposed to Euthansia is a group within the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Here are details of an upcoming Study Day in central London:

Nurses Opposed to Euthanasia
Multidisciplinary Study Day
What do we mean by care?

10.00 – 15.30hrs (Registration 09.30hrs)

Venue: St Vincent’s Centre, Carlisle Place, Victoria, London SW1P 1NL (Disability access)
Cost: £40.00 (Includes lunch and refreshments)

Medical, Nursing and Legal speakers
  • Compassion and Care in Nursing
  • The Liverpool Care Pathway: critical analysis
  • Assisted Suicide: DPP Policy
  • The Government’s End of Life Care Strategy: Open to misinterpretation?
  • Conscientious objection
Email for a registration form.

Oxford Oratory Holy Hour for the Unity of Christians

The Oxford Oratory will be holding a Holy Hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament especially in the light of Anglicanorum Coetibus, on the feast of the Chair of Peter, Monday 22 February, at 8pm.

It is strange how things change over time. I am beginning to get the impression that ecumenism is becoming less of an enthusiasm among liberal Catholics - especially now that Pope Benedict is taking it so seriously ;-)

Friday, 22 January 2010

The most aggressively inarticulate generation

H/T Creative Minority via Fr Z

Event: John Pontifex (ACN) at "Call to Youth"

John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need, is speaking at the next meeting of the London Oratory's "Call to Youth". Here are the details:

Call to Youth
St Wilfrid’s Hall
Thursday, 4th February at 8pm
John Pontifex of the Aid to the Church in Need

“The Courage to be Christian: The Suffering Church Today”

Many of us think that the age of persecution is over, that it is something from the past but the speaker will remind us that for a large number of our fellow Catholics persecution is an everyday reality. In China, in Iraq, in the Sudan, in Pakistan and elsewhere Christians are actively persecuted. There is an old Catholic saying: “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” and it is exactly where persecution is at its worst that the Faith is seeing a resurgence. This is a chance to learn more about these stories and so to learn of ways we can help them – not forgetting that they too may help us with their prayers!

Please do come along if you are 18-35. Bring your friends. Food & drink afterwards as usual.

Report on Anglicanorum Coetibus meeting at Reading

A correspondent has kindly sent me a summary report that he made at the meeting to discuss Anglicanorum Coetibus which was held at Holy Trinity, Reading the other day. I was going to post it on Scribd but thought better of it, hoping that you will excuse a longer than usual post:
Meeting at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Reading on the subject of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus

The meeting was chaired by Fr David Elliott, parish priest of Holy Trinity. Most of the attendees were from Holy Trinity though there were representatives from elsewhere. Among those visiting were a priest with expertise in canon law of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, an Anglican seminarian, and two priests of the FSSP in Reading, Fr Armand de Malleray and Fr Leworthy. This meant that a greater number of questions could be answered from people with expertise in different areas.

Fr Elliott began the meeting by introducing the Apostolic Constitution using the headings What? Why? Where? When? and How?

The following is a summary of some of the topics covered in the meeting:

An Apostolic Constitution is the highest form of document which can be issued by the Pope and this emphasises how important it is. It is unique, and that is why it has an Apostolic Constitution. Some of the references may be like other things, but it is unique.

AC has come about because it was asked for from the TAC and other Anglican groups including in our own country from Bishops including our own Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough. It would be wrong to think that AC is designed only for Churches in the C of E – it is for various Anglican communities. The reason such representations were made to the Holy Father is that over the past 30 years or so the Anglican Communion has made many decisions which has made it difficult for catholics to remain in full and visible communion with other elements, both liberal and evangelical. It would be wrong to assume it was all about women bishops – that is a symptom not a cause. It is no mistake that over the 40 years of ARCIC discussions that many useful documents have come to fruition, but that there have been three on the topic of Authority with many issues outstanding. It appears that catholics within the Anglican Communion are anti-authoritarian, but that is because they believe that decisions have been made in the Anglican communities which have no authority. If there are to be such innovations as women priests and bishops, lay presidency at the Eucharist etc this could only happen with the consent of the universal Church. How can we say in the creed on Sundays and solemnities ‘we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church’, then allow local decisions to break communion. There was a period in the late 70s early 80s when reunion with Rome was a real possibility. This is what the catholic movement in the Church of England had always worked for. The issue of women’s ordination stopped this process, and no-one now sees any possibility of reunion. Given this situation many now feel that we cannot be united with Rome as a church, and there is never going to be any prospect of this. We have the choice of remaining increasingly marginalized as a group within the Church of England or become in full communion with people with whom we already agree, respecting those with whom we differ in the Church of England as workers in God’s vineyard rather than seeing each other as opponents on the floor of General Synod, and getting on with the business of mission in our churches and the communities which we serve. This is why we have to consider the AC very seriously.

The Ordinariate can happen anywhere where there is already an Anglican presence and where there is a demand for full communion with Rome. In England there could be more than one Ordinariate if the need arose. It was most likely that it would be small in the first instance. A group of a dozen or so parishes geographically spread would be ideal. This may in time grow if other parishes thought they may follow. The important thing to understand is that there is no deadline, so no parish has a date on which they must decide. Perhaps the most important decision is to ask ourselves how we can best flourish and carry out God’s mission at Holy Trinity. We need to pray earnestly for guidance from the Holy Spirit.

There were inevitably concerns people had as to how this could work in practice. Would we be able to keep the church buildings? It was believed that there would be discussions at a very high level as to the possibility either of being given church buildings where a community of people needed them, or of sharing Church buildings. The FSSP priests in Reading share William of York Roman Catholic Church with the mainstream RC but are responsible for their own finances. In the case of Holy Trinity Church sharing in the sense that there would be two congregations probably would not arise, but there may be an expectation because of laws concerning the Consecration of Churches and the legal implications thereof that Anglicans not in the Ordinariate may still be able to request baptisms, marriages, and funerals to take place there is they so wished. There would need to be discussion between the Anglican hierarchy, the proto-Ordinariate and the Catholic hierarchy, especially the three RC bishops who are charged with setting the ball rolling in this part of the world (Bishops Alan Hopes, Bernard Longley, & Malcolm McMahon OP).

Although the Ordinariate would begin small this was not necessarily a bad thing (Mustard seeds etc). The Pope had said recently that sometimes the Church has to shrink first before it can grow again. The FSSP started 21 years ago with 17 priests and there are now well over 300 priests and seminarians, and had funded it all from their congregations as well as building two seminaries – one in Europe and one in the US. In the thirteenth century Pope Innocent III responded to Francis of Assisi’s request and took a leap in the dark which may well have failed. Look at the Franciscans 800 years later.

Both the Ordinariate itself and the individual churches within it would have to work hard to secure funding. There would be hardships – especially for many clergy who may be giving us houses, salaries and pensions. In parishes in very poor areas like Holy Trinity it was important that congregations are aware of the change in circumstances and bear some of that burden. Regardless of the Ordinariate, people must consider their church in their will, and especially at the moment ensure their bequests are restricted so the Church of England cannot get hold of the money. Damian Thompson in his commentary had encouraged former Anglicans who were now RC to consider helping to set up the Ordinariate. Ideally each church’s priest’s post should be wholly or partly endowed to take the pressure off a congregation. Current Anglicans and organisations need to look to their funds, and property should be put in trust away from the Anglican authorities. It is important however to try to work with the C of E to ensure the best result is achieved for all.

Although AC provides for NSM priests to exist this should not be seen as a way around paying for priests. Priests who are stipendiary now should continue to be ‘Full-time’ in the Ordinariate. The Ordinariate is not there for churches to mark time or provide terminal care; they are to provide flourishing communities of catholic Christians born out of the Anglican experiment. This can only happen if priests are there to provide care and ministry as their first and only calling. Without a pension it may be expected that priests will have to continue to work as long as they have breath.

There will probably be more priests than parishes. There will be all sorts of innovative ways in which this could work, establishing communities or using existing ones, and the seminary could well be a community as well as a teaching college. There could be a situation where a presbyter is shared with two or more priests one of whom may well be in secular employment and therefore is able to defray day to day costs.

At the end of the day Holy Trinity has to consider how it sees the future. Is its future to become increasingly isolated in a Church which has changed beyond all recognition, perhaps with no provision of a like-minded bishop? What is it to do when neighbouring churches begin to have lay presidency? Will any catholic priest be able to accept a post as bishop knowing that he will be in a college of bishops with women in the knowledge that the college of bishops is the very symbol of a united church? Are young catholic-minded young people any longer going to emerge from Church of England parishes? Would life in the Church of England be more like terminal care than the mission-minded zeal of our catholic forefathers in the Oxford movement?

The possibility of an Ordinariate should not be seen as a knee-jerk reaction to women bishops. Indeed, whatever happens, it important that those who do remain in the Church of England are properly catered for regardless of whether we will be around to benefit. There are many things to consider and many sacrifices will need to be made. With sacrifice however comes blessings, and often we look for happiness in what we know. A journey of faith is necessarily a leap into the unknown, and unless that leap is made the blessing which lay in the unknown remain uncovered. We must continue to pray.

On 22nd February on the Feast of the Chair of Peter the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed from 4-6pm. There will be Rosary at 5.30, and Mass before the Blessed Sacrament Exposed ending with benediction. We hope other catholics both Anglican and Roman will do something similar so that in our various places we simultaneously ask guidance from the Holy Spirit and we journey towards unity under the See of Peter.
Do continue to remember this parish in your prayers along with all other Anglicans who are considering the way forward in the light of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Book: Reflections of Pope Benedict XVI on the Eucharist

"Behold the Lamb of God" is a collection of extracts from the speeches and writings of Pope Benedict on the Eucharist, selected by Fr Gerard Skinner. Most of the extracts are about three or four pages long.

Back in the day, most people had to wait several weeks for the text of papal speeches. Enthusiasts would subscribe to the weekly English edition of L'Osservatore Romano and be ahead of the game. Now, if you are keen, you can go to the Vatican News service at about 11am and keep hitting the refresh button. Keen bloggers and readers might think that a book of extracts is not necessary for them because they saw it all when it first came out, we might assume that such a collection is really only for people who do not have access to the internet.

I'm not so sure. Many of us try to take in impossibly vast amounts of information and end up reading a lot but in a superficial way. Some of what we read would reward closer and more careful attention. "Behold the Lamb of God" is a book that one could use for daily spiritual reading or as the text to inform a period of mental prayer or meditation. The Holy Father's homilies and addresses bear quiet and reflective reading, and can be a springboard for affective prayer and positive resolutions to live the Christian life more fully.

For my own morning meditation, I'm currently reading slowly through Abbot Columba Marmion's "Christ the Life of the Soul" (more about that book soon) but when I have finished it, I intend to take up "Behold the Lamb of God."

The book is available from Family Publications priced £8.95. (111 pages)

Well-informed defence blog

For a few months now, James Corum has been on the list of Telegraph bloggers. I have known Jim since our Oxford days, and have followed his career with interest. He is now Dean of the Baltic Defence College in Estonia and is an acknowledged authority on counter-subversion. I have read most of the seven books that he has published and his writing style is engaging, conveying information on military matters in an accessible way without patronising the reader.

Last November, Jim was recruited to the team of Telegraph bloggers and writes a blog on defence. His in-depth knowledge of military matters, together with experience in the field make for some first-rate commentary on matters of current concern. His post today looks at the political correctness that has pervaded the Department of Defense and makes an observation that will have a familiar ring to many people outside the military:
Despite the negative effects on morale and efficiency these policies have had, they could not be criticised by anyone who valued his or her career.
He examines the report on the Fort Hood tragedy last year when a Muslim US Army Major killed 13 soldiers and wounded 28. He obseves:
The report failed to note some of the central facts of the case. For example, the perpetrator, Major Hassan, was never refereed to by name but as “the alleged perpetrator.” The report concentrated its efforts on issues such as base emergency response plans. In a way, this is a good idea because the politically correct policies of the Obama administration will do nothing to prevent future Islamist-inspired attacks and so we’d better have a good casualty response system ready for the next mass killing.
See: Pentagon report on Fort Hood is a travesty that doesn't even mention Islam

Trailer for St Margaret Clitherow DVD

St Margaret Clitherow was martyred on 25 March 1586 for the "crime" of harbouring priests. She refused to enter a plea for fear that her children and servants would be forced to give evidence against her. The penalty in such a case was to be pressed to death. She was laid on the floor, a sharp stone was placed under her back, a door was put on top of her and weights put on the door. She took fifteen minutes to die. Her last words were "Jesu! Jesu! Jesu! have mercy on me!"

Mary's Dowry Productions have issued the following trailer for their forthcoming DVD about St Margaret Clitherow:

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cardinal Pell patron of St Bede's Hall

Back in June, I wrote about the establishing of St Bede's Hall at Oxford. St Bede's is an independent Catholic college which provides courses for "Study Abroad" and mature students. Today, St Bede's are delighted to announce that Cardinal Pell has become a patron of St Bede's Hall. His Eminence said:
"I would be honoured to serve as an honorary patron of St. Bede's Hall... I would be delighted to assist in any way that I can and look forward to visiting St. Bede's Hall when next I am in Oxford."
St Bede's already has a bi-lateral agreement with Campion College in New South Wales: today's announcement helps to further ties with Australia. The first student from Australia has arrived at St Bede's and has begun her courses with the tutors of the new academic community.

Interview with Bishop Léonard - and petition in support

Thanks to the Dutch blogger "in caelo", who writes In Caelo et in Terra, for posting a link in the combox to an interview which Bishop Léonard gave to the Belgian news outlet Knack. See: “The Belgian Church has been too passive”. The interviewer is confrontational but his questions intelligent and to the point, giving the opportunity for Bishop Léonard to show his considerable acumen in answering under pressure.

Sadly, it is a sign of the times that when a good Bishop, courageously loyal to the authentic Magisterium of the Catholic Church, is appointed, he is vilified in the press, and even by senior politicians in public statements. Thankfully, there is a petition to express support for Bishop Léonard. The explanation page is written in French (with an alternative in Flemish.) Here is my translation of the French page:
Since the appointment of Mgr. Leonard as successor to Cardinal Danneels, journalists continue to spread negative reactions about his person. It is striking to note that 20 years of restoration work in his diocese of Namur are passed over in silence.

Through this petition we, as faithful, wish to offer a counterweight to these reactions. We hope also to support our new Archbishop strongly in the task which awaits him.

Through this link you can sign the petition.

The list of people who signed the petition is located here.
I'm number 3170 but there don't seem to be many from English speaking countries yet, so spread the word and let's show the Bishop that there is plenty of goodwill and support for him around the world.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard

On Monday, Bishop André-Mutien Léonard, of the Diocese of Namur, was appointed as the new Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel (Malines-Brussels). He is the most traditional bishop of Belgium, has publicly defended Pope Pius XII against the allegation of "silence" made against him, and has often spoken out forcefully against abortion and euthanasia and on other moral issues concerning sexuality and bioethics. Regarding some comments that he made on television about homosexual behaviour, he said:
I know that within a few years, I will risk prison by saying this, but it could offer me a little vacation.
He was in fact charged with homophobia: the charges were dropped last April.

He welcomed Summorum Pontificum with enthusiasm, arranged for a daily usus antiquior Mass in his cathedral of Namur and, as NLM reported, celebrated Pontifical High Mass at the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in 2008 (see picture above.) Some years earlier, he took part in the 2001 conference at Fontgombault with Cardinal Ratzinger - an occasion at which the idea of the "Reform of the Reform" really took off.

Considering his approach to the Liturgy, I found this photo amusing (note the sign):

Since being appointed Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel on Monday, he has dropped the "Mutien" from his name and taken the name "Joseph" instead, in honour of St Joseph, the patron saint of Belgium. On his website, he lists his priorities for the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussel. These include:

  • systematic pastoral visitation of the parishes of the Archdiocese (something he did assiduously in Namur)
  • celebrating the Liturgy in a way that is dignified and faithful to the tradition of the Church, and encouraging Eucharistic adoration
  • social concern, especially for the homeless
  • the promotion of vocations; and the sharing of responsibilities

Belgium has 8 dioceses and a Military Ordinariate. There are 71 seminarians in Belgium. 35 of them are for the Diocese of Namur.

Latin Mass Society 1962 Ordo

The Latin Mass Society still has copies of the 2010 Ordo giving details for Mass for every day of the year. A new feature is that it includes the Rubrics for the Divine Office. Order from the LMS office at £7.00 (UK) including postage (Europe and overseas please ask the LMS for the price.) The LMS recommend ordering as soon as possible since stocks are limited.

Latin Mass Society,
11-13 Macklin Street,
London WC2B 5NH, UK.
Tel: 020 7404 7284
E mail:

Holy Father continues to encourage new digital media

This morning's Vatican Bollettino announces a Press Conference to be held on Saturday at the Holy See Press Office, to present the Message of the Holy Father for the 44th Wold Day of Communications on 16 May. Interestingly, the theme of the message is "The priest and pastoral work in the digital world: new media at the service of the Word."

It seems that the Holy Father is determined that the Church should make intelligent and pastoral use of the new media. These message will also a good opportunity for bloggers to examine their conscience in the light of the Holy Father's wise moral and spiritual advice. I expect that the message will be published on Saturday in various languages.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Holy Father's visit to Rome Synagogue

Yesterday's visit by the Holy Father to the Great Synagogue of Rome was a great success. The Vatican website has an English translation of his address. The Holy Father spoke sensitively about the Shoah "that tragically reached as far as Rome" and about the Bible. He highlighted the ten commandments as "a common ethical message of permanent value for Israel, for the Church, for non-believers and for all of humanity." Pope Benedict made particular reference to the family, highlighting an area of concern both to the Church and to Jews:
The "Ten Commandments" call us to preserve and to promote the sanctity of the family, in which the personal and reciprocal, faithful and definitive "Yes" of man and woman makes room for the future, for the authentic humanity of each, and makes them open, at the same time, to the gift of new life. To witness that the family continues to be the essential cell of society and the basic environment in which human virtues are learned and practised is a precious service offered in the construction of a world with a more human face.
Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy, told ZENIT:
"The press was blowing up an atmosphere of crisis, before the visit, and the media were very much disappointed that there was no crisis afterwards,"
Politics Daily has a good piece by Elizabeth Lev: At Pope's Trip to Rome Synagogue, Press Misses the Story. As she says,
Despite the trite headlines about the "Pope's Controversial Visit," there was no real controversy; the chief rabbi had extended the invitation to Benedict in 2006 and the Roman Jewish community pulled out all the stops for this event.
Later in the article, she points out:
The real spirit of the Benedict's visit and his encounter with the chief Rabbi was not one of recrimination but of furthering dialogue, though most major news outlets were too busy waving the red flag of WWII and Pope Pius XII to see that.
For a couple of illustrative examples, see the reports from theBBC report and The Times.

Looking for pictures, I found this one and couldn't resist wondering what Pope Benedict might have been saying...

Moishe rings his Mum and says "Mum how are you?" 
She answers "I'm just fine." 
So Moishe says "Sorry, I must have dialled the wrong number."

(There are some good photos at daylife.)

Fr Stravinskas defends new translation

Damian Thompson has written on the recent campaign by Fr Ryan, pastor of Seattle Cathedral to delay the implementation of the new ICEl translations with the petition "What if we just said wait?" (I recommend signing the petition "We've waited long enough".) Now that Fr Ryan has been given space in the Tablet for his campaign. See: The plot to sabotage the new Missal is a test of Archbishop Vincent Nichols's leadership. As Damian points out:
What we can expect now, I’m afraid, is a repeat of the situation in America: constant whispering against the new Missal by “senior clergy” and their lay allies who want to delay the introduction of the Missal until… well, we might as well be frank about this: until after this Pope dies, when they hope that a new regime in the Vatican will allow them to cling on to the grisly paraphrase of the Roman Missal currently in use, or to introduce something worse.
Fr Peter Stravinskas has written an excellent article in America magazazine which responds to some of the key points made by Fr Ryan. See: Defending the New Roman Missal.

I would quibble with the choice of title, though (presumably sub-editor's choice.) We are not being given a "New Roman Missal", we are being given an accurate translation of the current one - a point on which many people seem to be misled. In this connection, you might like to read my suggestions in the post Training for the new translations.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Saints of Christian Unity

Fr Anthony Ho has an article for Pax Sinaica (scroll down for the English version) in which he looks at St Francis de Sales and Blessed Marie Gabriella (right). Concerning St Francis de Sales, Fr Ho makes this observation:
St. Francis won the heart of the people gradually with his patience and kindness. The parents would not come to St. Francis, so he came to their children and played with them. When the parents saw how kind he was as he played with their children, they started to talk to him.

Venerable Pierre Toussaint - an intercessor for Haiti

As well as sending money over to Haiti, I am sure that we are all remembering the Haitians in our prayers: especially those who have died, those who mourn them, and all those who are suffering in the aftermath.

I was grateful to receive from a correspondent today a reminder of the Venerable Pierre Toussaint who was born into slavery on a Haitian plantation. M. Berard, the plantation owner, moved to New York in 1787 because he could foresee the inevitable rebellion of the slaves that broke out finally in 1791 with the ensuing death of about 100,000 black slaves and 24,000 whites.

In New York, Ven Pierre worked as a hairdresser. He earned enough to buy his freedom but continued in slavery to Madame Berard after her husband died, in order that she would accept his help. One her deathbed, she wrote a directive that he should be freed.

The Ven Pierre could have amassed a considerable fortune through his hairdressing since his customers were among the most wealthy in New York and he was skilled at designing the elaborate hairstyles that were then fashionable. However, he gave away much of his money to the poor and, after his own freedom, secured the freedom of many other slaves.

Haiti has seen many tragedies in its history. The kindly, gentle and generous Pierre Toussaint will surely look kindly on our prayers for his country at this time.

Here is a link to a short biography of Ven Pierre Toussaint.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Suggestions for aid for Haiti

The other day I mentioned the work of Missio in Haiti. Fr John Boyle has a good informative post in which he gives a number of links to various Church based charities doing good work in the area.

He particularly recommends Aid to the Church in Need which is another excellent choice. They have contact with the Nuncio in Haiti so that funds can be speedily routed through one of the few administrative buildings still standing.

Yet another is the Knights of Malta which has been working in Haiti for fifteen years in support of a hospital. They are preparing to send an international medical team to support their people who are already on the ground.

"Normal and harmless"

In advance of the General Election, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party in Great Britain, Nick Clegg, has detailed a series of proposals regarding homosexuality. The most disturbing of these is that he considers that "Faith Schools" should be required to teach that homosexuality is "normal and harmless". He also wants gay couples to have the right to describe themselves as married, rather than in civil partnerships.

It is an indication of the lack of effective opposition from Churches, from other faith groups (who largely share our moral teaching concerning homosexual activity) and in particular from the Catholic Church, that the leader of one of our mainstream parties feels that it is a politically advantageous move to threaten the persecution of "Faith Schools" and the enforcement of regulations that could not be followed in conscience by many such schools.

See also the post from John Smeaton.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Missio in Haiti

I have received via email a report from Mgr John Dale, the National Director of Missio concerning the disaster in Haiti:

After the earthquake
Archbishop Bernadito Auza, Papal Nuncio to Haiti, only a few hours after the catastrophic earthquake, wrote:
‘I have just returned this morning. I found priests and nuns in the streets, without homes. The Rector of the seminary survived, as did the Dean of Studies, but the seminarians are under the rubble. Everywhere, you can hear cries from under the rubble. The CIFOR - Institute of Studies for the Men and Women Religious - has collapsed with the students inside, participating in a conference. The nunciature building has withstood the earthquake, without any injuries, but we are all amazed! So many things are broken, including the Tabernacle, but we are more fortunate than others. Many family members of the staff were killed, their homes destroyed. Everyone is calling for help. We will have problems of water and food before long. We cannot enter or stay inside the house much, as the earth continues to shake, so we are camped in the garden.’
‘Port-au-Prince is completely devastated. The Cathedral, the Archbishop's Residence, all the great churches, all the seminaries are reduced to rubble. The pastor of the Cathedral, who survived the earthquake, told me that the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince perished under the rubble, along with hundreds of seminarians and priests who are under the rubble.’

As I write, the Vicar General, Fr Charles Benoit is still missing and nothing has been heard from Missio’s Haitian National Director, Fr Clarck de la Cruz.

Part of the heartbreaking reality of the Haiti earthquake is that many of those who would have offered their support to the shattered lives of the people of the island are themselves victims, an uncounted number also listed amongst the fatalities.

The overwhelming tragedy wrought by the few brief seconds of the earthquake’s duration is poignantly summarised by a photo taken in the rubble of the cathedral in Port-au-Prince: Jesus hangs on the Cross in the midst of his people.

One of the poorest countries on earth, Haiti’s people have experienced a seemingly endless cycle of poverty, political upheavals, crime and natural disasters since it became the world's first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean State in the early 19th century.

Haiti, last year alone received more than £286,000 in support from Missio, supporting the work of the Church in basic and preventative healthcare, education, pastoral care and building projects, including major reconstruction in Port-au-Prince after massive flooding in May 2009.

‘Last year floods hit; now the earthquake has shocked us with the extent of its devastation,’ said Martin Teulan, Missio’s National Director in Australia. ‘We are saddened by the news of Archbishop Serge-Miot and how many lives have been lost. When the Victorian bushfires devastated people’s lives here a year ago, the greatest response we received for prayer came from the people of Haiti and the Caribbean – people who understand what it means to have little. Their prayers strengthened us. Our prayers will be greatly appreciated and encourage them.’

Another aspect of Haiti’s tragedy was expressed by Isabel Perez, an Ecuadorian who works for Missio in England and Wales and who worked in neighbouring Dominican Republic. ‘We helped many Haitians to set up small projects and schools, assisting them with many other concerns. I’ve been trying since yesterday to contact people to see how they are, but it is so hard. All forms of communication are down. I have heard nothing. All I can do is to watch television and read the news reports... and pray. Just now, all we have is prayer.’

The number of fatalities in the earthquake will probably never be known. One slum alone housed more than 70,000 inhabitants and there were many such slums in Port-au-Prince alone.

Mgr John Dale, National Director of Missio for England and Wales, commented.
Haiti’s loss at the moment is made even more difficult because so many clergy, Religious and seminarians are amongst the dead and so cannot give the pastoral care that is so urgently needed at this time.

Missio has always supported the Church in Haiti, helping it to grow and develop in its own distinctive way. We will remain in the country, helping it to rebuild and find hope. Missio is not an emergency aid organisation, but just as we have been present for the Haitians in the past, we will be there for their future as they try to reconstruct their homes and lives. In the present, the people of Haiti are in our thoughts and prayers. We pray for those who died and may those who survived the earthquake be given all the comfort, strength and help that they need.
Donations may be sent to Missio Haiti through the London office at 23 Eccleston Square. This will be used to rebuild the shattered Churches in Haiti. For further information, please phone 020 7963 6829 or e-mail Monsignor John Dale at

Bluegrass interpretation of "What a friend we have in Jesus"

I realised after posting a Youtube video last night that we have not had any bluegrass gospel for some time. My apologies for this dereliction and here is a bluegrass rendition of "What a friend we have in Jesus" by Ida Red.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Johnny and Chachi's Killer Community Tips

Some good advice for all those groups:

Equality Bill Petition

David Skinner has set up a petition to Number 10 Downing Street regarding the Equality Bill. The petition reads as follows:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Remove the current employment provisions set out in Schedule 9, Paragraph 2, subsection 8 of the Equality Bill (the occupational requirements relating to sex, marriage and sexual orientation for the purposes of organised religion). These restrict the rights of religious bodies to employ personnel who conform to their teachings only if their duties are confined to worship activities or the explanation of doctrine.
Further details:
As people from all walks of life, political parties, professions and religious faiths, we the undersigned have joined together to commit ourselves to reaffirm the value and necessity of religious and civil liberty and the rights of conscience across the UK today.

We believe that religion and civil liberty must include the right to live and speak according to one's conscience privately and in the public sphere, both individually and collectively, without harassment or the fear of civil or criminal penalty.

The proposed employment provisions set out in Schedule 9, Paragraph 2, subsection 8 of the Equality Bill (the occupational requirements relating to sex, marriage and sexual orientation for the purposes of organised religion) mistakenly seeks to deny integrity and authentic practical religion by separating religious belief and observance from behaviour and denies to religious groups rights that are extended to all other organisations, to employ only those who conform to their beliefs, practices and ethos.
Sign the petition.

(Deadline 5 April 2010. You have to be a British citizen or resident to sign.)

Anglicanorum Coetibus meeting at Reading

Fr David Elliott, Priest-in-charge of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Reading, is holding a meeting at his church on Wednesday 20 January at 7.30pm to discuss the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. Further details at his blog. He also has a post with links to the key texts and will be making hard copies available for his people this Sunday.

Fr Elliott has made it clear that the meeting is open to people who are outside of his parish. I pray that the meeting goes well and that Fr Elliott and many other like him will be able to take advantage of Pope Benedict's generous provision and be received into full communion with the Holy See. Here is a photograph from the fourth Sunday of Advent at Holy Trinity, Reading:

"The English Vicars Apostolic"

Shortly before Christmas, I received the splendid new book from Family Publications: "The English vicars Apostolic 1688-1850" by Fathers Nicholas Schofield and Gerard Skinner. The book gives short biographies of each of the Vicars Apostolic, arranged chronologically within each district.

A Vicar Apostolic is in bishop's orders but exercises his authority in the name of the Pope, rather than in his own name as bishop of a diocese. In the excellent introduction to the book, Fr Nicholas Schofield quotes Ronald Knox who described the English vicars as:
"emissaries from Rome, personally responsible to the Holy See - as if this island had been some newly discovered territory in the Pacific, whose inhabitants were mere beginners in the faith."
The most outstanding of the Vicars Apostolic was the saintly Richard Challoner, though there is also an increasing knowledge of Bishop Giffard. The period was marked by controversy, especially dissension between the secular clergy and the Jesuits, disagreement over what kind of agreement could be made with the State, and the actual extent of the jurisdiction of the Vicars Apostolic. At that time, clerical dress could not be worn openly and both priests and bishops faced the prospect of imprisonment if denounced to the authorities.

The book is a remarkable achievement, gathering together details of all these seemingly shadowy figures from a generally less known period of English Catholic history. Fascinating anecdotes and contemporary quotations enliven the basic information, making for a delightful read.

The English vicars Apostolic 1688-1850 is available from Family Publications priced at £19.95.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

"We are caretakers of the mysteries of God"

Archbishop Socrates Villegas was ordained priest in 1985 by the great Filipino Cardinal Jaime Sin whom I had the privilege to meet whilst studying in Rome. He was consecrated as an auxiliary Bishop in Manila in 2001 at the age of 40. Last year he was appointed as Archbishop of the diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. On 31 December he wrote a pastoral letter to his priests on the celebration of Mass, entitled "That our sacrifice may be pleasing to God." The Archbishop encourages his priests to celebrate Mass reverently, to keep the altar linens clean and distinct from each other, and to eschew secular love songs in the Mass.

Fr Seán Coyle, a Dubliner from the Missionary Society of St Columban, works in the Philippines and has added his own comments on the letter in a post on his blog Bangor to Bobbio. Many thanks to him for drawing my attention to Archbishop Villegas' letter.

The Archbishop was at the heart of the ESDA non-violent revolution which toppled Marcos, has fought for democracy and justice all his life, is known as a friend of the poor, and a stout opponent of government corruption. So tread carefully before you set up an opposition between his concern for the cleanliness of altar linens and social justice.

I encourage you to read the whole letter but here is one quotation:
Although we have many duties and functions as priests, in the mind of the ordinary Catholic faithful, we are priests because we can preside at the Eucharist and absolve sins in the confessional. We are priests called to bring to the Lord the sacrifice of thanksgiving from His worshipping people. We are priests called to bring the blessings of God to His chosen people. We are caretakers of the mysteries of God.
(The last sentence is from 1 Corinthians 4.1.)

Minor Basilica (on the feast of St Aelred)

In consideration of today's optional memoria of St Aelred, Zephyrinus has sent the above picture as a further sketch for the architectonic character of the proposed minor basilica at Blackfen.

The picture shows the Abbey of Rievaulx which was founded by twelve monks from Clairvaux in 1132. St Aelred as Abbot of Rievaulx, gave gentle and kindly pastoral care to a community of several hundred monks. (I should note, I suppose, that militant gay Catholics have claimed St Aelred as a kind of patron saint. This is utter tosh since the saintly abbot wrote forcefully in favour of chastity and warned against dangerous friendships.)

It seems that the gothic style is making a strong showing in such suggestions but I retain my predilection for baroque. Nevertheless, in the spirit of collaborative ministry, I recognise the need to take into account all points of view and to those who advocate the towering arch, I say "I hear you."

Monday, 11 January 2010

Domus Sanctae Marthae

The conference of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy of Australia and the US was based around the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican. Some of the participants were accommodated elsewhere but I was fortunate to be allocated a room in the DSM.

The DSM was constructed in 1996 with the primary purpose of providing accommodation for Cardinals during the conclave to elect a new Pope. It is inside the territory of the Vatican City State, just past the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall. Run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, it has 106 suites, 22 single rooms and one apartment.

Apparently the DSM is often described in the media as a "five star hotel" and Professor Mary Ann Glendon had to contradict this misrepresentation. I was searching for an appropriate way to describe it when I remembered the phrase "noble simplicity" which is quite appropriate. Here is a photo of the bedroom. You will note that there is no Corby Trouser Press:

In the other part of the "suite" there is a desk with two chairs:

There is quite a lot of cupboard space and some bookshelves for Cardinals who might be there for two or three weeks. There is no television or minibar. Downstairs there are two television rooms with half a dozen upright chairs and in the basement there is a sign to "Bar" which consists of two vending machines, one for coffee and one for soft drinks.

The chapel (dedicated to the Holy Spirit) is dignified, simple and reverent: very Novus Ordo but a place where one can pray.

One little detail that I spotted will be of interest to US readers: the organ at the back of the chapel:

Here is the brass plaque on the side:

In English, it reads:
Organ for the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, donated to the Holy Father John Paul II by the foundation "Knights of Columbus", Mr Virgil C. Dechant being Supreme Knight. In the year 1997 (the 19th year of the Pontificate)
On the second and fifth floors there are small chapels where priests (or indeed Cardinals) can celebrate a private Mass at any time of day, and on the ground floor, in addition to the meeting room and refectory, there is a small room with three computers that have good internet access.

Comfortable, simple, a place to sleep and to pray. Ideal for the simple parish priest on a conference, or for a Cardinal making the decision of a lifetime.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Saying Mass at St Peter's

Every day, many priests say private Masses at St Peter's Basilica. Some are with groups, others with perhaps one or two people, some studying in the City, others on holiday. There are so many Masses said early in the morning that you can be kept waiting for half an hour before you get an altar.

The regulars will go in via the Sacristy (for which you have to have access to the Vatican City past the Swiss Guards and the Vigili (Vatican Police). The sacristy is to the right of the picture above (you can see a small part of the building.) If you don't have access to the Vatican by such means, you have to go through security and, even if you are there on the dot of 7am, it is five minutes or so before you get to the Sacristy via the Basilica and by then you are lucky to get an altar.

I often wondered how all this actually worked, and this morning I found out. I got up early and was wandering the area outside the Domus Sanctae Marthae (the area pictured above) at 6.50am. Since I don't know the Sacristy (it is a seven storey building - something else to think about for Blackfen) I decided to go in the other secret entrance which is between the white van and the stop sign in the picture the moment it was opened, just a few minutes later. At the top of a short ramp, you enter the Basilica via the door under the monument to Pope Alexander VII. Anyone in the world would be forgiven for stopping at this point and gazing at Bernini's masterpiece with the Sicilian jasper in folds, covering the skeletal figure of death, holding up his hourglass, yet failing to disturb the Holy Father at his prayers.

I left that to later and walked briskly to the Sacristy to find that I was the first one there. I know my way around so despite the slightly surprised looks of the Sacristan and the servers, got an amice from the large drawer which contains hundreds of them. At that point, the back door opened and there must have been thirty or more priests in one of those dignified rushes that indicates that they all know what they are doing and that they must act fast. They were obviously well-known and got handed vestments one by one while I began to fall behind. Nevertheless, I was ready fairly promptly and a boy was deputed by the Sacristan to carry a set of cruets and escort the interloper to the Altar of the Crucifixion of St Peter which was still free. By the time I got there, I guess that all the other altars in the upper Basilica were taken. Underneath the altar are the remains of Pope Saint Leo IX who died in 1054.

The side altars in the main part of the Basilica are perfectly arranged for the celebration of the classical form of the Roman rite. The brass runner at the back of each altar has ridges to hold the altar cards in place. The crucifix is designed to be at just the right height so that the priest looks at it when he raises his eyes at various points in the Mass. The altar is wide enough to distinguish the various parts of the Mass and the footpace is the correct depth to genuflect.

I was not by any means the only priest celebrating according to the usus antiquior this morning. There were plenty of scenes such as this:

As you can see, the priest is kneeling to say the Leonine Prayers after Mass (at the Altar of Our Lady of the Column) and the Missal is left on the epistle side after the Postcommunion Prayer.

There are several traditional Missals now available in the sacristy: though don't count on getting hold of one: bring your own if you want to say the old Mass. If you are on holiday or want to say Mass with a group, the best thing is to turn up at 7am and be prepared to wait. There is plenty to see and marvel at in the meantime and the sacristy does have some little booths where you can kneel and say the prayers in preparation for Mass. The experience of celebrating Mass at St Peter's, whether in the older or the newer form, is well worth the wait.

It occurred to me that the long-suffering sacristans must have a deal of patience with the various different instructions that they have received over the past few years on this matter. I have always found them helpful and efficient (very efficient) and they exhibit that fruit of the Holy Spirit which is so necessary at the Vatican: long-suffering. Perhaps you might remember them and the altar servers in your prayers.

I love the Basilica of St Peter and never tire of it. After my own Mass, there was a chance to adore the Lord at the consecration of a few other Masses and to spend some time praying before the tomb of St Peter. I took this photo of the alabaster window above the Altar of the Chair seen through Bernini's Baldacchino:

Friday, 8 January 2010

More on yesterday's Mass

Here are two of the photos posted by the NLM (more here)

and here is one of John Sonnen's at Orbis Catholicus - he managed to get up to a high vantage point (there are more at several posts on his blog for 7 January):

I decided not to go on the trip to Bagno Regio today but to spend a quiet day in Rome, make an extended visit to the tomb of St Peter, go to confession in the Basilica, and celebrate Mass quietly. I also had a long walk round the Centro Storico, visited various Churches and had plenty of time to ponder yesterday's experience of assisting at Pontifical High Mass.

First of all, I would like to emphasise what a devout and kindly man is Cardinal Cañizares Llovera. With devout bishops it is sometimes difficult to tell at first whether they are being prayerful or just rather grumpy and doing their best to suffer the attentions of their assistants. His Eminence took time to read the prayers in preparation for Mass quite slowly, then suffered the process whereby Fr Tattershall (Assistant Priest), Fr McDaniels (deacon), and myself (subdeacon), went through the elaborate but ultimately rather uncomfortable (for him) process of being vested for the Pontifical Mass with amice, alb, cincture, pectoral cross, tunicle, dalmatic, chasuble, buskins, sandals, gloves, ring and mitre.

Cardinal Cañizares was not particularly familiar with the ordinary rubrics of the usus antiquior. This meant that he had to be guided very closely by the MC and the Assistant Priest. Again he submitted to this with great humility and calm, remaining prayerfully attentive throughout the Mass.

After Mass, there is another process of tugging and pulling as the various vestments are removed and, once the mozzetta is back in place, the prayers in thanksgiving after Mass. His Eminence again took time with these and only after all was finished did he break out into a warm smile and thank everyone individually with obvious sincerity and joy. He took the trouble to meet all the seminarians individually as well as many of the clergy present.

For myself, I did wonder whether this was the most special moment of my liturgical life. When I was a student, I did serve Mass for Pope John Paul and on one occasion was Deacon at the papal Mass at San Lorenzo in Damaso so I think they have to rank higher. Nevertheless, of all the things that it is possible to do liturgically, assisting as Sacred Minister for the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship in one of the Major Basilicas will take some beating. It was a great privilege and a splendid example of the relationship between adoration and communion of which Mgr Marini spoke the other day.
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