Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Different kinds of silence at Mass

One of the attractions for many people, of the celebration of Mass according to the usus antiquior is that there is more silence. I can heartily sympathise with this preference from my relatively rare opportunities to assist at another priest's Mass in addition to celebrating my own.

Interestingly, though, the ceremonies of the usus antiquior provide little in the way of pauses for silence. The "silence" that people love so much is mostly when the priest is praying secreto, that is to say, he vocalises the words in such a way that he can hear them but others don't. Thus the "silence" is a more or less determined length of time which comes to an end when the priest reaches the next part that is to be said out loud or sung.

In the older form of Mass, there are three moments where the priest pauses in silence. At the memento of the living in the Canon, he remains for a short time in silence, remembering those for whom he wishes to pray (stat paulisper in quiete). In this case, the rubric explicitly says that he does not need to express the names but may remember them in his mind. The instruction for the memento of the dead says that he remembers them in the same way (though now that the sacred host has been consecrated, he is instructed to look at the host.) In fact, the priest may have many names or classes of people he wishes to remember and may simply recall in general those for whom he has made an intention to pray during his preparation for Mass. When people ask for my prayers, I usually promise to remember them at my Mass in this way.

The third pause for silence in the usus antiquior is after the priest has consumed the sacred host (not after he has received Holy Communion from the chalice.) He is instructed to be quiet for a short time in meditation on the most holy Sacrament (aliquantulum quiescit in meditatione sanctissimi Sacramenti).

The Missal of Pope Paul VI provided for more pauses for silence; though you might not realise this since the overall impression of the Mass is that there is virtually no silence since the Eucharistic Prayer is said out loud, something that Gueranger deplored: Cardinal Ratzinger suggested that an option should be provided for saying it quietly. Very often the Offertory is also said out loud as well, so that the only time when there is a prayer of any length said secreto is before the priest's Communion. In fact, many priests, I think, feel slightly embarrassed at this and rush the prayer or say it out loud. The pauses for silence are detailed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM - I will refer to the edition promulgated with the 3rd edition of the Missale Romanum in 2002)

In the section on the Liturgy of the Word, there is a heading "Silence" and the monition that it is appropriate to have "brief periods of silence" (brevia momenta silentii) before the Liturgy of the Word begins, after the first and second readings and after the homily. (GIRM 56) The priest's own pause for silence after consuming the sacred Host is not in the rubrics though I think we might allow it to the priest without denouncing him as being just as bad as priests who say clown Masses and make up their own Eucharistic Prayer.

In the section headed "Communion", the Instruction says that when the distribution of Communion is finished, if appropriate (pro opportunitate), "the priest and faithful spend some time praying quietly." (sacerdos et fideles per aliquod temporis spatium secreto orant). (GIRM 88)

This silence for "some time" is an innovation: in Italy, it is known as the pausa. I am not sure that it always works very well. One danger is that it becomes an impromptu directed meditation. Paulinus has an amusing account of this in his post Witter, witter, witter... which prompted me to write this post.

The other problem is that if the pausa is genuinely quiet, nobody knows how long it will last. It is very much at the discretion of the priest, and people are left wondering "When is he going to start again?" rather than engaging in considerations, affections and resolutions, or resting in infused contemplation, depending on their spiritual state.

My own practice is to consider (as I suspect most parish clergy do) that the four pauses at the Liturgy of the Word are not really suited to the normal parish Mass. In particular, at the conclusion of my sermon, rather than sit and ponder my words of wisdom (howsoever brilliant they may be) I feel it better to direct people to the "action of God" that is to take place, "Conversi ad Dominum!" as St Augustine would say, (it was the beginning of a prayer) reminding them that the Sacred Liturgy is focussed on God.

After Communion, though, it seems to be a more general practice to have some time for silent prayer. My own practice is to purify the vessels with wine and water, using the option provided in GIRM 279. This paragraph does not specify how this is to be done but we are fortunate to have older books which give the instructions in greater detail; there is also an extra prayer which it is surely legitimate to use quietly if there is time (there always is). Again, I feel reasonably sure that this is not the first step on the road to dressing up as Barney the Bear.

The purification all being done quietly (the prayers said secreto), there is a reasonable time of silence for the people. In order to keep to the letter and spirit of the pausa instruction, I then remain at the altar and say quietly the Placeat tibi prayer so that the pausa is observed but of a determinate length. I remain at the altar because I have observed that if the priest goes to sit down, everyone who was formerly kneeling follows suit as though it were a form of instruction to them. If the priest remains standing at the altar, it leaves the People of God greater freedom in the Spirit, surely?

Let me conclude with a passage from the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger that was quoted by Mgr Marini in his address to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in Rome this year:
Fish live in the sea and are silent. Terrestrial animals cry out, but the birds, whose vital space is the heavens, sing. Silence is proper to the sea, crying out to the earth, and singing to the heavens. Man, however, participates in all three: he bares within him the depth of the sea, the weight of the earth, and the height of the heavens; this is why all three modes of being belong to him: silence, crying out, and song. Today...we see that, devoid of transcendence, all that is left to man is to cry out, because he wishes to be only earth and seeks to turn into earth even the heavens and the depth of the sea. The true liturgy, the liturgy of the communion of saints, restores to him the fullness of his being. It teaches him anew how to be silent and how to sing, opening to him the profundity of the sea and teaching him how to fly, the nature of an angel; elevating his heart, it makes that song resonate in him once again which had in a way fallen asleep. In fact, we can even say that the true liturgy is recognisable especially when it frees us from the common way of living, and restores to us depth and height, silence and song. The true liturgy is recognisable by the fact that it is cosmic, not custom made for a group. It sings with the angels. It remains silent with the profound depth of the universe in waiting. And in this way it redeems the world.”

Significant appointments

Today's Rinunce e Nomine section of the Bollettino is quite full, with some significant appointments. There is a new Bishop for Spokane (Mgr Blase Cupich), new auxiliaries for Boston (Frs Arthur Kennedy and Peter Uglietto), a new Rector for the Lateran University (Rev Enrico dal Covolo SDB), and a new member of the team of Pontifical MCs (Fr John Richard Cihak)

Archbishop Celestino Migliore has been appointed as Apostolic Nuncio for Poland. Up to now, he has been the Permanent Observer for the Holy See at the United Nations. Mgr Ignacio Carrasco de Paula has been appointed as President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I know that some will be very pleased to hear of these moves.

As widely expected, and now officially announced, Archbishop Fisichella has been appointed as President of the newly formed Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet (above) has been made Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A good day for fishing

Up at Papa Stronsay, Brother Ivan of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, suggested that today, the feast of St Peter and St Paul would be a good day to go a fishing. Leaving at 3pm and returning in the evening, they caught 183 fish - the largest catch for some time. They are all now in the freezer.

Here is a photo of the fish being prepared:

A new pallium

Photo from Reuters pictures at

Archbishop Peter Smith, recently installed as Archbishop of Southwark (and therefore my Ordinary) received the pallium this morning from Pope Benedict XVI during the Mass celebrated at St Peter's for the feast of St Peter and St Paul. This is his second pallium, since he was formerly Archbishop of Cardiff.

Here is a photo of Archbishop Longley (right) wearing his new pallium as Archbishop of Birmingham:

Please remember Archbishops Smith and Longley in your prayers.

The Chant Café

Catholic musicians have "gathered to blog about liturgy and life" at The Chant Café, a new initiative from the Church Music Association of America. Readers may recognise contributor Jeffrey Tucker of NLM, Scott Turkington, and our own Nick Gale of Gregorian Chant in the UK.

One of the concerns of the musicians in the Café is to liberate sacred music "from the prisons of obscurity and copyright." See the post Music Liberated by Colloquium XX for a packet of music including several items not freely available before.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Belgium: learning from the troublemakers

Rorate Caeli has been covering the events in Belgium where the police have, quite rightly, been  investigating crimes against children, following the revelations of the crimes of Bishop Vangheluwe of Bruges. The methods used by the police do, however seem over the top; they have included drilling into the tombs of Cardinal Suenens and Cardinal Mercier in the crypt of the Cathedral at Mechlin, as well as raiding the palace of the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and detaining the Belgian hierarchy for several hours.

One element of the story has caught the eye of many bloggers: the article written by Alexandra Colen, member of the Belgian Parliament for Antwerp for the Brussels Journal: The Fall of the Belgian Church. Other bloggers have warned, and I do too, that some of the sex-education material that she describes in the catechism textbook Roeach is disgusting and sick. The editors of Roeach was were Professor Jef Bulckens of the Catholic University of Leuven and Professor Frans Lefevre of the Seminary of Bruges. The Bishop responsible for both institutions was Bishop Vangheluwe, who, as it now turns out, was sexually assaulting his nephew at the time.

Colen describes her campaign against the sex-education textbook Roeach . She and her fellow-campaigners were stonewalled, told to be obedient to the Bishops, and characterised as troublemakers: the Nuncio told her that her campaign was offensive to the Church. Eventually she withdrew her children from the Catholic education system and started homeschooling.

In England, the Channel 4 sex-education programme "Living and Growing" has elements that are remarkably similar to some of the material described by Alexandra Colen. See, for example these posts:

Sex-ed: pouring petrol on the fire (18 July 2006)
Sex-ed programme slammed by Daily Mail (1 March 2007)
Mother's shock at Channel 4 sex-ed programme (10 March 2010)

I sincerely hope that this programme is not used in any Catholic schools now (it has been used in some in the past). It should not be used in any school since it is outrageous for such obscene material to be inflicted on any child.

The current storm engulfing the Church in Belgium is a warning that we need to undertake a long overdue reappraisal of the whole question of sex education in our own Catholic schools. To be authentic, such a reappraisal would have to take on board the criticisms of those offensive troublemakers, the pro-life activist Catholic parents, and commit to implementing The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality without reservation. To save re-inventing the wheel, it would be sensible for Dioceses to give a clear encouragement to schools to use programmes such as Alive to the World and This is my Body which I wrote about last November.

If challenged by the Government or the Inspectorate over the content of such pro-life and pro-family programmes, we could, for once, take the initiative, point to the example of Belgium, and insist that we are learning lessons from there about the effective safeguarding of children. A strong condemnation of the Channel 4 programme, with explicit examples, would restore some balance by calling the secularists to account for inflicting such material on innocent children. At the same time the Church would do a service to non-Catholic parents by alerting them to the danger posed to their sons and daughters.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

From a great pastor

Many Parish Priests or "Pastors" as they are called in the USA, write a short article each week for their parish newsletter. I do this myself, having got the idea from seeing newsletters from parishes in the US. In England we generally don't have as much space since we can't usually run to the 4 or 8 page folded large formats that they have in US parishes. Nevertheless, I think it is worthwhile for the parish priest to use the newsletter as an opportunity for catechesis.

Now and again, there is an outstanding "From the Pastor" piece, and today I received one such. It is from Fr George Rutler at the Church of Our Saviour in Park Avenue New York City:
June 27, 2010
by Fr. George W. Rutler

Insecurity is characteristic of adolescence. Those formative years are a time of figuring out how the self relates to others, moving from self-absorption to self-awareness. There are those who live a lifelong adolescence, whose narcissism, like an orchid living off air, lives off the approval of others. Their desire for self-esteem smothers a mature desire for eternal salvation. Instead of "Have mercy on me a sinner," the perpetual adolescent says, "I want to feel good about myself." Inevitably, that "feel good" approach enslaves the self to the opinions of others. It is the opposite of the glorious maturity of St. Paul, who spoke "not as trying to please men, but rather God, who judges our hearts" (1 Thess. 4).

There is a proper human respect, which is a reverence for others. The immature kind of human respect is a dependency on approval by others. "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10).

Some of the most popular cultural figures are those who exploit people's insecurities and make them "feel good" about themselves. Demagogues know how to flatter the spiritually immature into submission, but their intoxicating charisma is a deadly illusion: "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).

The simmering danger in our political culture is not the deeply flawed people who often get elected, but the immaturity of the people who elect them. "They pursued emptiness, and themselves became empty through copying the nations round them" (2 Kings 17:15).

Pope Benedict XVI recently told ordinands: "He who wants above all to realize an ambition of his own, to achieve a personal success, will always be a slave to himself and public opinion. To be considered, he will have to flatter; he must say what the people want to hear, he must adapt himself to changing fashions and opinions and, thus, he will deprive himself of the vital relationship with the truth, reducing himself to condemning tomorrow what he praises today. A man who plans his life like this, a priest who sees his ministry in these terms, does not truly love God and others, but only himself and, paradoxically, ends up losing himself."

As the Pope practices what he preaches, he is so secure in his service to God, that he does not rely on newspaper editorials or talk-show pundits to craft the Gospel he preaches. What he said to those new priests applies to everyone who seeks spiritual maturity. Self-absorption eventually leads to self-annihilation, but eternal life begins with feeling good about God instead of ourselves. "To know (God's) power is the root of immortality" (Wisdom 15:3).

A simple prayer for the bicycle

Latest from the Via Romea blog which is currently charting preparations for the 1200 mile ride to Rome: they now have a motivational song. Though the languid gospel style acapella has its attractions, I rather think that if Joseph took the lead, Gregory could do a close harmony rumbling bass and Anna-Marie fill it out with "shoo-wap" embellishments. If they are back in time for the August parish music evening, it could be a star turn.

They have had lots of offers of help and support, even having a sports scientist preparing a training programme. I'm proud to say that our UCM is doing a strawberry & cream tea to raise money for the tent.

Don't forget to visit the fundraising page to suppjavascript:void(0)ort the designated charities.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

If the Vatican curia were a football team

On his Italian blog for L'Espresso, Sandro Magister writes about the reporting in various papers of remarks made by Cardinal Ratzinger on football. These were confined to one page of a book that he published in 1985. In fact, Ratzinger was not a great fan of sport. In Milestones, he describes his disappointment when Hitler changed the curriculum, cutting down on Latin and Greek to make more time for sport in school. (In the quotations that follow, you have my rough translation.)

Magister quotes the summary in L'Osservatore Romano of the future Pope's thoughts:
"Football requires one to order that which is one's own to the needs of the team; it unites by means of the common objective. The success and failure of each one is based on the success and failure of the team; freedom is maintained through the order and discipline in which we learn to act together."
Magister allows himself a rare moment of wry humour:
"As coach of the curia, Papa Ratzinger has little to rejoice in. His team does not act properly for him at all. Each player goes off on his own and every now and then lets slip an own goal."

In(ter) dependence Week at the Oxford Oratory

This all sounds great fun. The Oxford Oratory blog reports that The rebels are getting closer. They are raising funds for their "Reaffirmation and Renewal" campaign.
You are warmly invited to attend In(ter)dependence Week at the Oxford Oratory from 3rd-9th July. This is a week of fantastic events celebrating American culture in Oxford in aid of the Oratory's fund-raising campaign "Reaffirmation and Renewal". There is plenty of variety and everyone should be able to find an event that suits them.

It kicks off with a music festival at the Perch on Saturday 3rd July. Headlining at this beautiful pub on the Thames will be L'Angelus, a Cajun fiddle swing band from Louisiana. There will also be a host of other jazz and folk performers along with entertainment for children such as face-painting. You can buy a £5 pass which will get you 25% discounts on food and drink - all proceeds to go to the Oratory's fund.

Sunday 4th July, Independence Day itself, will be marked with all-American music at the 11 o'clock Mass and a sermon by a member of the Brooklyn Oratory.

On Monday 5th July, the church will be hosting Adam Brakel, the celebrated American organist, and the International Baroque Players in an exclusive concert entitled "Adventures in the New World." It will start at 8pm and tickets cost £12 (£8 concessions).

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons of the same week, there will be walking tours of Oxford with Oriel historian John Whitehead exploring different eras in the history of the city and university. Meet at the Oratory church at 2pm. Tickets cost £12 (£8 concessions) per tour, or as a special rate for both tours, £20 (£12 concessions). This includes a cream tea back at the Oratory at 4pm.

On Wednesday 7th July, there will be a talk in the church entitled "An American Remembers CS Lewis" by Lewis' last secretary, Walter Hooper. This starts at 8pm and tickets cost £5.

As a grand finale to the week, there will be a formal dinner on Friday 9th July at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. Tickets include a champagne reception with live harp music, a three course dinner, an after dinner talk from Fr Richard Duffield, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, and a charity auction. Tickets cost £75 and can be booked through the campaign website.

Programmes detailing all these events will be on sale at the Lodge and after every Mass at the Oratory. Tickets will be available on the door for all these events, except the dinner, for which advance booking is required. Please do support one, or more (or all!) of the events and do your bit for the restoration and expansion of the Oxford Oratory!
Further details here.

Assisted Suicide debate

This coming Wednesday (30 June) there will be a conference/debate on assisted suicide at the Royal Society of Medicine. See: The ethics of assisted suicide for details.

The following day, Thursday 1 July, the British Medical Association will be discussing ethics at their AGM. The pro-euthanasia lobby are trying to stack the Wednesday debate and generate publicity on Thursday morning ahead of the BMA discussion.

It would help if some well-informed pro-lifers were at the RSM on Wednesday to ensure that there is some balance in the discussion. You have to register at the website and the cost is £10. (Medical professionals can get 5 CPD credits for attending.)

Friday, 25 June 2010

New Lectors and Acolytes

Mass at Wonersh was at 8 o'clock this morning: a little later than usual in view of the festive occasion of the institution of several students as Lectors and Acolytes. Here are the lists:

Valentine Erhahon
Dominic Findlay-Wilson
John Watts
Daniel Weatherly

(left to right in photo above)
Harry Heijveld
Paul Keys
Thomas Lynch
Simon Dray
Oliver Lowson
Valentine Erhahon

Tomorrow, Gerard Hatton will be ordained Deacon. I was sorry not to be able to stay for that, but as well as the usual schedule in the parish I have a wedding and a baptism in the afternoon so we have our own celebrations here.

Congratulations to all the students who have take a step closer to priestly ordination. I am proud to have a small role in their formation.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

End of term at Wonersh

St John's Seminary at Wonersh tonight celebrated the admission to candidacy for Holy Orders of Daniel Kelly, David King, Jonathan Routh and John Chandler. They will be ordained Deacons in a few months. Normally I find it difficult to get to Wonersh for these occasions but I was delighted to be able to come down this afternoon. I'll stay overnight for the ceremony at 8am tomorrow when several students will be made Lectors and Acolytes. Unfortunately I cannot stay for Saturday when Gerald Hatton will be ordained Deacon.

The new Candidates have all just taken (and passed) my course in Sacramental Theology so I hope that I have given them some help for their future priestly ministry. It is great to see them coming closer to ordination.

After the ceremony this evening there was a special dinner, following which the students invited me down to the "Dive" (their Common Room) to continue the celebrations informally. The television was showing the crushing defeat of the Danes by Japan.

After the Mass and ceremonies tomorrow morning there is to be a celebratory breakfast and then I will have to speed back to the parish in the space between rush hours on the M25.

Please remember the seminarians in your prayers.

Na na na

There must have been quite a few roads undug, kitchens unfitted, currency deals undone, black cabs in the driveway, and schools closed early yesterday afternoon, judging by the numbers who came to the Rosary Social Club to watch England v Slovenia.

A few years ago the Club Committee installed a big screen with projector as well as a large screen television near the bar especially for football matches so it makes for a comfortable place to watch the matches in company with others. There was plenty of wild celebration when England scored. Some of the "naughty boys" section started up a singing of "Vindaloo" at various points, though mainly with the chorus "Na na na ..."

We even had a vuvuzela. I guessed that they must be in the shops over here by now.

The match was watched with a discerning eye by people of all ages:

One big family

Something to cheer you up on a Thursday morning. A fun video of Paolo and Valeria Manca and their thirteen children.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Bishop Fisher speaks to the Irish Dominicans

When telling me of Sr Niamh's profession, the Irish Dominican who emailed me joked that there was no reason that the Oxford "Dogz" should have all the limelight. Indeed, I am happy to give a heads-up to their own website Dominican Friars Irish Province.

An important event held recently was a special day on the Dominican Priesthood to mark the end of the Year of the Priest. Bishop Anthony Fisher OP presented a paper on the Priesthood in the Dominican Order. You can watch the address on this video:

If you prefer, you can go to the website to read the text of the paper. I was particularly struck by one comment Bishop Fisher made, not about the priests but about the brothers:
Ironically, as the number of co-operator brothers declined to near-zero in many parts of the Order, everyone started using the title and the few remaining brothers were press-ganged into higher education or leadership. (In my view the demise of the brother’s vocation partly reflects the increasing middle-classification of the Order, Church and society.)
This applies, I think, to many orders that once had brothers. There was an opportunity for men who might want to pursue a vocation of service in the religious life, even if they felt daunted by the academic requirements of study for the priesthood. I know that there are several examples of saints who became priests despite this, notably the Curé d'Ars, but there are many men who would have a vocation to manual work in vowed religious life and this option is scarcely available today.

The principal purpose, though, of Bishop Fisher's lecture was to reflect on the relationship between the priesthood and Dominican life. He summarises his thoughts in this paragraph:
By analogy I have suggested today that we can be and often have been a uniquely successful cocktail of priesthood and religious life. A Dominican worships God in his cell with his beads as much as in the celebration of a High Mass at the altar. He studies both at his desk chair and in his choir stall. He evangelises the gentiles and then baptises the converts. He exhorts sinners and then absolves them. He preaches in the sacred Liturgy and then offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. Being friar and priest are genuinely complementary in him.
The other paper for the day was given by Fr Paul Murray OP, an Irish Dominican who lectures on spirituality at the Angelicum in Rome. The younger Dominicans look up to him: as they say, he "oozes Dominicanism" and is a great example to them.

When lives depend on the truth

First Things has today published an article by Matt Hanley: Reducing Risk, Increasing AIDS. Here are the first two paragraphs:
The predominant Western approach to preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa has failed. Though in theory the risk reduction strategies favored by Western governments and aid agencies—handing out condoms, promoting counseling and testing, and treating other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to block HIV transmission—can “work” in theory, they have not done so in practice. In Africa, despite years of promised improvements, they have not brought any downturn at all.

But a handful of African countries have actually forced down the AIDS rates, each of them by changing behavior—particularly reducing sexual partnerships—not through the heavily promoted risk reduction measures.
This point will be familiar to many of you but the approach of Western governments and commercial interests has continued to mask the real picture and indeed convince the public that the Pope or the Catholic Church is responsible for AIDS in Africa. As Hanley concludes:
We should expect our public health authorities not to pass on the prevailing strains of cultural thought uncritically, but to speak against them when people’s futures and their lives depend upon their speaking the truth.

Matt Hanley has also co-authoried a book with Jokin de Irala written a book "Affirming Love Avoiding AIDS. What Africa can teach the West", published by the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

Guitars are wonderful

When they are played like this.

The video shows Yvonne Helkenberg playing Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909)

You can see more videos of Yvonne Helkenberg playing the guitar at the YouTube channel of guitaryh.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

"Alone of thy peers"

Today is the feast day of one of my patrons, St John Fisher, who is also one of my favourite saints. He shares the day with the great St Thomas More who tends to secure more attention so I make no apology for focussing on the holy Bishop of Rochester. There are some famous episodes from his life such as the reply that he gave to Bishops Stokesley, Gardiner and Tunstal, whom Thomas Cromwell had sent to the Tower to persuade him to submit to King Henry VIII, which includes the memorable words: "The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it." There is also King Henry's outburst on hearing the news that Pope Paul III had created Fisher a Cardinal. (See my post for the feast day in 2006)

This year, I have searched out another episode in Fisher's life. In 1529 King Henry issued a warrant to permit the legatine court to open at Blackfriars, near the palace of Bridewell. The King's purpose was to deny the legitimacy of the papal dispensation given for him to marry Queen Catherine of Aragon and thus to pave the way for his marriage to Anne Boleyn. At one point, the King made a show of piety in setting out the counsel that he had received from the Bishops. The King and the Bishops then attempted to steamroller Bishop Fisher. Here is the account of what happened
[King Henry VIII] “I moved first this matter in confession to you, my Lord of Lincoln, my ghostly father. And yourself moved me to ask farther counsel of all you my lords; wherein I moved you first my Lord of Canterbury, to put this matter in question; and so I did of all you my lords, to the which ye have all granted by writing under all your seals.”

“That is truth,” quoth the Bishop of Canterbury, “I doubt not but all my brethren here present will affirm the same.”

“No, Sir, not I,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “ye have not my consent thereto.”

“No ! ha’ the !” quoth the king, “look here upon this, is not this your hand with seal?” and showed him the instrument and seals.

“No forsooth, Sire,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “it is not my hand nor seal!”

“To that quoth the king to my Lord of Canterbury, “Sir, how say ye, is it not his hand and seal?”

“Yes, Sir,” quoth my Lord of Canterbury.

“That is not so,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “for indeed you were in hand with me to have both my hand and seal, but then I said to you, that I would never consent to no such act, for it were much against my conscience.”

“You say truth,” quoth the Bishop of Canterbury, “ but at the last ye were fully persuaded that I should for you subscribe your name, and put-to a seal, myself, and ye would allow the same.”

“All which words and matter,” quoth the Bishop of Rochester, “under your correction, my lord, and supportation of this noble audience, there is no thing more untrue.”

“Well, well,” quoth the king, “it shall make no matter; we will not stand with you in argument herein, for you are but one man.”
The King's dismissive guillotining of the discussion is deceptive. Fisher's opposition certainly did "make matter"; to such an extent that Henry imprisoned him and eventually executed him. St John Fisher's opposition on this occasion, in the face of every one of the other Bishops and under pressure from the unpredictably aggressive and violent King, is an outstanding example of moral courage. As Canon Byrne wrote in the John Fisher School hymn:
Alone of thy peers thou didst brook the displeasure
Of King and his court, God’s law to proclaim;
Loyal to England and Christ’s worthy vicar.
Death found thee fearless, despising the shame.
O strengthen us now.

Profession of Sr Niamh OP

The Irish Dominicans have sent me news of a great event that took place recently: the solemn profession of Sr Niamh Muireann as a Dominican nun at the Monastery of St Catherine of Siena at Drogheda. The Dominican nuns also run a Dominican Nuns Ireland blog. The Rite of Profession can be found at this post. Here is a photo of Sr Niamh making her profession into the hands of her Prioress:

The priest blesses the veil which Sister wears, using the following prayer:
Lord, bless + this veil which Sr N.N. wears for love of you and your blessed Mother Mary, ever Virgin, as a sign of her consecration to you. Through your help and protection may she always preserve the purity of heart that it mystically signifies. In wearing it may she be recognised as a house of prayer and a temple of intercession for all people. Clothe with your grace her entire being, so that she may love you with all her heart. May she always live in this love and be introduced one day to the joy of your kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Congratulations to Sr Niamh and to the community of St Catherine of Siena.

Invocation 2010 - national vocations weekend

Fr Stephen Langridge has sent details of this National Vocations Discernment weekend - the first ever. It runs from 2-4 July at Oscott College in Birmingham and is for young men and women discerning a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life or simply wanting to find out more. There will be a number of religious communities represented. Archbishops Longley, Smith, and Nichols will be celebrating the Masses. Here is the information:
Invocation 2010

Do you need space to consider what God wants you to do with your life? Are you intrigued by the possibility of priesthood or religious life? Would you like the chance to find out more?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, Invocation 2010 could be just the thing for you! It is our first ever National Vocations Discernment weekend and it will take place at St Mary's College, Oscott - where the Pope will stay when he come to England.

The weekend will begin on the evening of Friday 2nd July and end with a special Mass celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols on Sunday 4th July. Guest speakers will include Abbot Christopher Jamison and Sr Gabriel Davison.

Although it's not a recruitment weekend there will be lots of priests and religious present as well as inspiring talks and enlightening workshops. There will be Perpetual Adoration in the seminary Chapel throughout the weekend. There will also be a giant-screen TV to make sure you don't have to miss the football!

You can find out more, and book online, at the Invocation website.

There is a charge for the weekend - but many parishes are subsidising young people who would like to attend. Just have a word with your parish priest or Vocations Director.

It would be great to see you there!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Promoting and preparing for the Papal Visit

This morning my postman delivered copies of the Parish Resources Booklet for the Papal visit. Since the official website has now been updated fairly extensively, I spent some time looking around. Buried rather deeply is a link to the Twitter feed @thepapalvisit and the Facebook page The Papal Visit. I was the 25th person to follow on Twitter and the 187th person to "like" the Facebook page (they have been going for a few weeks.) I post the links here because I think it would be good to get those numbers up somewhat. (It might be an idea to put those links prominently on the front page of the official website.) Do promote them on your own blog, Twitter feed and Facebook wall.

You can also get a poster and web banners (as above) though there is not yet a contact or link for papal flags in various sizes. "Bones" has already commented on merchandise of various sorts and posted a link to items on Zazzle that come up on a search for "Pope Benedict". Perhaps some of you might like to get to work on some more items related to the visit to the UK. [UPDATE: see also Catholics With Attitude which has lots of papal visit t-shirts)

In the Parish Resources Booklet, there are plenty of resources for the kind of event where you meet in a hall, have a "Prayer Focus" with icon, open bible and scented candles on a draped cloth and the programme runs "Welcome and invitation to prayer (5 mins) Gathering Prayer (5 mins) Introduce the theme (1 mins) Sharing time (15-20 mins ) ...." Now look: there are people who love that sort of thing and I hope there are plenty of opportunities for them to share. I will probably facilitate one or two if I can (or facilitate someone else to facilitate them.) The rest of us, who have to resist the temptation to run screaming into the night when ambushed by such an event, it seems to me that we just need to come up with some other ideas rather than spend too much time taking the mickey. (You have to examine your conscience on how much time is just about right.)

To be fair, the Booklet also mentions Novenas, suggesting the Novena to the Sacred Heart (the website has  links to EWTN), and a Holy Hour. In fact it says "Perhaps diarise offering one hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?", but the Holy Hour could, of course, be solemnly celebrated and include Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Another possibility would be Solemn Vespers, or Rosary and Sermon with Novena devotions. For catechesis, some people would welcome lectures on the Petrine office, the life of Pope Benedict, his teaching, or the history of the Catholic Church in Britain. Feel free to make other suggestions in the combox.

The Booklet is quite right to emphasise the importance of visual signs, so the flags, banners and posters in windows are important. I like the idea of a "Commemorative Gesture" as well. The suggestions are "sponsoring the creation of a garden area" and donating books to a local school or charity. I'm sure readers could come up with some other ideas as well.

There has been a lot of quite justified frustration and annoyance about the arrangements for the visit but we do need to be positive, and make sure that we make a strong show of loyalty to Pope Benedict and use the opportunity of his visit as best we can to deepen in our faith and to extend the Church's mission in our country.

Always wanted to do that

This guy is chaplain to the French Foreign Legion in Afghanistan. I can understand that for elite forces in such a theatre, jumping out of aeroplanes is relaxing and harmless fun.

I did do a bungee jump once...

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Blessed Sacrament procession at Louviers c.1500

This magnificent window at the Church of Notre Dame in Louviers, France, was made in 1490-1500 and depicts a Blessed Sacrament Procession accompanied by various candle-bearing tradesmen.

Simon Cotton, an Anglican who is part of Forward in Faith, has a short article about the window in the June edition of New Directions (page 35). He ends with this quotation from the Curé of Ars:
"When we go before the Blessed Sacrament, let us open our heart; our good God will open His. We shall go to Him; He will come to us; the one to ask, the other to receive. It will be like a breath from one to the other."
The issue also has an article by Joanna Bogle reflecting on a difficult year for Catholics and the hope offered by Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Chesterton Answers Prince Charles

Recently, Prince Charles gave a speech at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. During the course of his address, he called for population control in the developing world. Since he had the gall to quote G K Chesterton (and indeed C S Lewis) in his speech, the Catholic G K Chesterton Society has posted a couple of pertinent quotations from the great man who was a vehement opponent of population control.
Chesterton Answers Prince Charles

In 1925 Chesterton wrote an introduction to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in which he said that “The answer to anyone who talks about the surplus population is to ask him, whether he is part of the surplus population; or if not, how he knows he is not.”

Elsewhere, in an essay titled “Social Reform vs. Birth Control,” Chesterton argued that it is typically the wealthy elite who are interested in promoting population control as a solution to poverty, often simply as a means of avoiding dealing with the more difficult root problems that lead to poverty. "If [the Birth-Controller] can prevent his servants from having families, he need not support those families. Why the devil should he?” wrote Chesterton. “The landlord or the employer says in his hearty and handsome fashion: ‘You really cannot expect me to deprive myself of my money. But I will make a sacrifice. I will deprive myself of your children.’”

Three go off to Rome

Three young people from my parish, Anna-Marie, Joseph and Gregory Treloar, are planning to cycle from Sidcup to Rome this summer by way of holiday and pilgrimage. The distance is approximately 1200 miles. As you can see from the above map, they have planned the route meticulously.

I saw Joseph this evening and told him that they must read Hillaire Belloc's "The Path to Rome" either beforehand or, perhaps even better, while they are on the journey. Gregory is currently walking round with his arm in a sling on account of a car driver opening his door as he was cycling past, throwing him and cycle across the road. He seemed to take some consolation in the damage he did to the car door. Anna-Marie is a nearly-doctor so should be able to help out with similar incidents in the Swiss Alps. I'm hoping that they will start a blog so that we can keep updated on progress.

The intrepid three have raised the money for the cost of the trip and want to use the opportunity to raise additional money for two excellent charities: the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative which is run by the Sisters of the Gospel of Life and Mary's Meals. They have set up a Facebook group for the event: Anna-Marie, Gregory and Joseph Treloar cycle to Rome. The description is as follows:
This summer, we're cycling from our home in Sidcup to Rome, a total distance of 1200 miles, passing through France, Switzerland, and Italy before we finally arrive in Rome.

The trip is a holiday and a pilgrimage, but we'd like to take the opportunity to raise money for two fantastic charities. We're funding the trip ourselves, so all monies raised will go directly to the charities, in equal proportion.

Mary’s Meals provides a staple, daily meal in schools for children in some of the poorest countries in the world, thus fighting poverty through tackling malnutrition and encouraging education. The Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative provides non-judgemental practical, spiritual and emotional support for mothers in the UK, struggling with crisis pregnancy and the prospect of bringing up a child alone.

So please give generously- £1, £5, £10... Whatever you give will make a difference; Mary's Meals can feed a child for a year from just £6.15.

Thank you very much! We're very grateful for your support, it will get us up those mountains! We will keep all our sponsors in our prayers en route.
Here is the Fundraising page where you can make a donation. You wouldn't really want not to.

Gherardini's book available from Carmel Books

Fr Hunwicke, Rorate Caeli and many other blogs commented in April on the book The book entitled "The Ecumencial Vatican Council II - A much needed discussion" by Mgr Brunero Gherardini, a Canon of St Peter's in Rome, which is available in English translation. In England it is available at £14.25 from from

Carmel Books
45 Base Point
Yeoford Way

Tel: 01392 824255

Carmel Books is a small supplier of good Catholic books; it would be worth having a copy of their catalogue.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

School Fête

Today was a highlight in the Blackfen social calendar: Our Lady of the Rosary School Fête. It is a great opportunity for people to meet up with old friends. As well as the children currently at the school and their parents, many former pupils and parents come along to meet up again. It is a kind of live "Friends Reunited" and much better than the online version. I was talking to one young man that I first knew when he was a child at the school and was rather pleasantly taken aback to hear that he is now in the second year of his Law degree.

The stalls seemed to be loosely organised into various topic-focussed areas. The industrial scale barbecue, candy-floss, cakes and teas were in the playground. For throwing things, there was the coconut shy and the crockery smash. Children wishing to look outlandish could get their hair sprayed bright colours or their face painted to look like spiderman, a tiger, or simply the St George's flag. There were several Tombolas: for teddies, bottles, and assorted prizes. There was even one exclusively for chocolate.

Games include fishing for ducks, hoopla and, for the more energetic, "beat the goalie" and sliding down a bouncy castle. I didn't do either of those but I did win a coconut at the shy and a can of diet coke at the hoopla so I went home a happy man.

Mulier Fortis has some more photos.

The above video is a report from Rome Reports on a new website set up to support priests. is to be launched this Sunday, Fathers' Day. It is an initiative of Catholics Come Home.

As a priest, I do find this a great encouragement and I am very grateful to the organisers of this site and to all its users for their prayers and kind wishes.

Resistance campaign petition

The Resistance Campaign has a petition against euthanasia and assisted suicide. As well as signing it yourself, please check whether your MP has signed it (or refused to do so) by using the MP database. If neither, do use the email form to urge them to sign the petition.

Here is the text of the petition:
We the undersigned fear that calls to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia are likely to intensify. Our concerns are heightened by the current economic climate and calls from politicians from all parties for cuts in public services.

We believe that people who are disabled or terminally ill (and their families) rely upon such services to live with dignity and that quality services make the difference between a fruitful life, led independently, and mere survival.

We support Not Dead Yet’s call to all MPs to sign up to the ‘Resistance’ Charter 2010 (full text here) declaring that they will support palliative care and independent living services and maintain legal protection for all people who are terminally ill or disabled.

Sign the petition here.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Bl Pio Nono's tiara for UK Papal Visit?

It is easy to forget anniversaries but Catholic Under the Hood has helped us with his post Today in Catholic History – Pius IX receives the Belgian Tiara.

On 18 June 1871, the Ladies of the Royal Court of the King of the Belgians gave a tiara to Blessed Pope Pius IX in honour of the 25th anniversary of his pontificate. It may also have been given by the devoutly Catholic King as a gesture of support for the Blessed Pio Nono after the loss of the Papal States the previous year.

The tomb of Blessed Pius IX (above) is in the crypt of the Church of San Lorenzo fuori le mura; when Fr Briggs and I are in Rome, we go to make a visit. He is a great devotee of the saintly Pontiff and knows far more about him than I do. Over lunch today, he did not mention the auspicious anniversary of the Donation of the Belgian Tiara, which makes me think that he was sparing my blushes at being so ignorant.

I very much hope that the Mgrs Ganswein and Marini persuade the Holy Father that the restoration of the tiara is the next step in the reform of the Papal Liturgical Ceremonies and that the visit to Great Britain would be the perfect opportunity to wear the Belgian Tiara. As all Germans and Italians know, the British love ceremony and are very good at it. Furthermore, everyone has heard of the Crown Jewels and knows that Her Majesty the Queen is one head of state who would not be upstaged by such fine headgear.

The other day, Fr Briggs showed me this photo of his ordination 25 years ago this year. The organiser of the Papal Visit, Mgr Summersgill, was Deacon at the ceremony. I might suggest to Fr Briggs that he could use his influence to - well, you know - "pull a few strings."

friday funny

Posted as the "friday funny" at The Crescat.

A child's view of Lourdes

Mac at Mulier Fortis has some posts on the recent Pilgrimage to Lourdes undertaken by the parishes of Our Lady of the Rosary and St Mary's, Chislehurst. She also has a large collection of photos at her Flickr photostream. (All the photos in this post are from there.) Above you can see a young pilgrim from my parish carrying the flag which I had made for our Lourdes Pilgrimages. We are at the start of the torchlight procession, waiting for it to begin and others to find us. Below is a photo from later in the procession.

Fr Briggs has sent me something written by one of his young parishioners:
Lourdes is a place I'll never forget. It gave me a new love of the Rosary and I had never learnt so much about Bernadette. I found it better than I had expected: all the churches were beautiful, and each was unique. Some had the Rosary and some had the saints. The Stations of the Cross I admired the most. I loved how they were bigger than life-size, and they looked amazing.

In those five days I learnt so much about St Bernadette and Our Lady, and how important the Rosary is, especially today. I'm glad that the weather was good: every day we were out for at least half a day and I enjoyed every bit. I wish I could go every year, that's how much I liked it. The grotto was amazing but the rock was smooth from people touching it! In the spot where Our Lady appeared there is a beautiful statue of her. Every night to finish the day there was a candlelight procession of Our Lady.

We would sing Ave Maria and say the Hail Mary, one language after another in prayer and in song. This went on for an hour and by then it was ten o'clock and it was time for me to go to sleep. I hope other young people from our parish will come to Lourdes, I know it will help them to love Our Lady and the Rosary.

(Jacinta, 9)
Thanks to Fr Bernard McNally who also joined us, we were able to celebrate High Mass in the Crypt of the Parish Church on the Wednesday and again on the Thursday. Since it was the feast of Corpus Christi, we had a procession in the Church followed by Benediction.

One of our Low Masses was in the chapel of St Gabriel which is easily rearranged. The sacristans don't mind, as long as you put everything back again.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The papal visit and popular Catholicism

Yesterday, Anna Arco posted her interview with Archbishop Nichols concerning the papal visit. His Grace rightly draws attention to the importance of the meeting of the Holy Father and Queen Elizabeth. That will surely be one of the greatest photo opportunities of recent times.

There is still considerable frustration about many aspects of the visit, and particularly the failure to organise a major event which people can attend en masse. Of course we can watch it all on the television and I arranged a while back for the big screen in the parish club to be reserved for the duration of the visit, but we can, after all, watch footage of the Pope most days via the Vatican's YouTube channel or EWTN. People want to be able to say "I was there" not "I watched it on the telly".

Apparently there will at least be the possibility of lining the streets: it is important for Catholics to do so in large numbers, cheering, singing and waving flags. (Now would be a good time to start learning by heart the verses of God bless our Pope!) There also needs to be plenty of footage posted on YouTube of the crowds in response to the inevitable mainstream channel "not as many people as expected" claims.

In Loss and Gain, John Henry Newman characterised Catholicism as "the popular religion". An estimated 286,650 people turned out for the visit of the relics of St Therese last October. The liberal establishment did not expect that. Popular Catholicism is far from dead in England.

LMS Training Conference at Downside

The Latin Mass Society sends news of its forthcoming Training Conference for priests. The Society of St Tarcisius is running a training course for servers to run concurrently. Here is the information from the LMS:
LMS Residential Training Conference for Priests Wishing to Learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Downside Abbey, Somerset.

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales (LMS) is organising a residential training conference for priests wishing to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Downside Abbey, one of England’s most prestigious monasteries.

The conference will run from Tuesday 10 to Friday 13 August 2010 and will feature Traditional liturgies in Downside’s beautiful chapel together with a Gregorian Chant schola and polyphonic choir.

Expert tuition in the celebration of Mass in the Usus Antiquior will be provided on a small group basis. There will be tuition in Low Mass, Missa Cantata and Missa Solemnis and there will be streams for beginners and more advanced students. Tuition will also be given in the other sacraments and in Latin.

There will be opening and closing High Masses, daily Mass, Offices and Rosary. There will also be a closing Conference dinner with guest speaker.

The subsidised fee to participants is only £115.00 which includes all accommodation, meals and training materials. There are limited places and priests are asked to register as soon as possible.

Further details and registration forms can be obtained from the LMS office (Tel: 020 7404 7284, email: or from the conference organiser, Mr Paul Waddington (Tel: 01757 638027, email:

Running alongside the training for priests, the Society of St Tarcisius (the LMS’s newly-formed sodality for Traditional altar servers) will organise a residential training course for servers and MCs. Further details can be obtained as above.

Paul Waddington said, “This is the sixth training conference the LMS has organised and we are delighted to be going to Downside Abbey. The Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’ has recently praised our work which makes us more determined than ever to provide training to every priest in England and Wales who seeks to learn the Usus Antiquior.”

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Good Counsel plans tube adverts

The Good Counsel Network has Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during the day as often as possible. It is an essential part of the GCN ethos that prayer, fasting and adoration support the work of the counsellors who try to offer compassionate and practical help to women seeking abortion, so that they are able to take the decision not to abort their child. Every day they deal with some of the hardest cases of crisis pregnancy and have a remarkable success rate in persuading women that there is another way out.

This afternoon I was there to give Benediction at the end of the day's adoration and had the opportunity of a sneak preview of the latest newsletter which was being stuffed into envelopes afterwards. The recently started blog Maria Stops Abortion is one of their latest initiatives in education which is also an important part of the work of the GCN. (The title of the blog is a pun on the name one of the largest abortion providers in the UK, Marie Stopes International.)

The blog has just announced a Campaign to raise money to put advertisements on the London Tube. The good news is that you can put one advert in one carriage for two weeks for £20. The bad news is that there are more than 500 active trains on the network (according to one estimate I could find), and each with about six or more carriages so it would take a lot of donors to cover the whole network. Nevertheless, since the Tube carries 3.4 million people every weekday, each one will get a reasonable number of people in a captive audience for an average journey time of 13 minutes so I think it is a good idea.

Corpus Christi Procession at Oratory School

The Oratory School in South Oxfordshire was founded by Cardinal Newman. Nine years ago, the school chaplain, Fr Anthony Conlon, revived the Blessed Sacrament Procession. This year on 10 June, the Octave Day of Corpus Christi, he carried the Blessed Sacrament in Procession in the school grounds, assisted by Fr Irwin as Deacon.

The canopy was carried by the House Captains of the school. The Procession was given a Guard of Honour by the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) of the school (which recently had its biennial inspection.) The Ceremony was competently assisted by the many servers who have been trained by Fr Conlon.

"Present Arms"

Officer saluting

Pupils and servers kneeling in adoration

House Captains with the canopy

Many thanks to Linda Coupland who runs the school's Marketing & Public Relations for sending me these superb photos taken by Jim Keogh. You can click on them to enlarge them.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Mgr Marini - print edition in "The Priest"

MARINIthe Priest March 2010

Back in January, the English translation of the lecture given by Mgr Guido Marini at the Rome Conference of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy was published widely on the internet. Fr McGavin, editor of "The Priest", the Journal of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy sent me the above file with Mgr Marini's lecture printed in the journal. You can read all the articles in the special March 2010 edition of "The Priest".

[The issue is copyright to Fr McGavin as the publisher for ACCC.]

ACN event at Birmingham Oratory

Michael Cowie writes to me of an event to be held by Aid to the Church in Need at the Birmingham Oratory on Sunday week. Here are the details:
The Light of the World
Sunday, 27th June at 2:00pm, followed by Mass at 5:30pm
The Oratory, Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8UE

An opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of the challenges facing Christians around the world – and how you are helping. Talks begin at 2:00pm, followed by Mass at 5:30pm.

We are delighted to welcome Father Samir Khalil Samir SJ as our guest of honour, speaking on Christianity and Islam in the Middle East. Father Samir is an Islamic scholar, Semitologist, orientalist and Catholic theologian based in Lebanon.

Xavier Legorreta, Aid to the Church in Need’s Latin America Projects Head, will report on how your generous support has helped victims of the earthquake which struck Haiti in January.

Fresh from project trips, UK Director Neville Kyrke-Smith will speak about the Faith in Ukraine, while Head of Press and Information John Pontifex will give an update on the difficulties Christians face in Pakistan.

This event is free, but please use the ACN website to reserve your place or call 020 8642 8668

Refreshments will be provided at this event.

Still alive

My sister just rang me to check that I was still alive since she hadn't seen anything on my blog for a few days. I realise that it is almost a week since I posted. Sorry about that - still alive and posting again now ... not too much this evening though as I have to read 5000 other blog posts first on google reader :-)
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