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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Why not sell chocolate instead?

A pharmacist points out the inconsistency of promoting healthy living in every area of life except sexual behaviour.

RoseMary Baker, a pharmacist from Wirral, Merseyside, has written a good piece for PJ Online, the internet version of the Pharmaceutical Journal, a publication of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. She points out that pharmacists do not sell chocolate or tobacco, they try to encourage their customers to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and warn about the consequences of smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise. Then she says:
But what about sex? Well now, that is different. Oh yes, we do display leaflets on how to have safe sex or where to go if you need an abortion. In Wales we can provide post-coital contraceptives free of charge without the necessity of obtaining a prescription from a doctor. Are we being as fair to the public about sex as we are about smoking or eating sweets or drinking alcohol? Do we highlight the failure rate of contraceptives or do we couch the true failure rate in terms like “if used effectively”. Do we shout from the rooftops the fact that many progesterone only pills are likely to fail if the dose is more than three hours late? Have we fought for a Government health warning on condoms which says “this product is likely to fail if you have never used a condom before and you are fumbling around in the dark at the back of the youth club”? Do we help to punch home the truth that sexually transmitted infections really are transmitted sexually, are highly unpleasant and often lead to infertility later in life?
Excuse a light-hearted anecdote, but this does remind me of a debate in the Junior Common Room at Corpus Christi College, Oxford back in 1977 or 1978. The motion before the House was "That a machine should be installed in the Plummer for the purveyance of contraceptives." (The "Plummer" was the public washroom area.) Finals student Paul Haffner (now a priest and an established theologian in Rome) supported by myself, a number of other Catholics, and some good Anglicans, stood up to propose the amendment: "That the word 'contraceptives' should be replaced by the word 'chocolate'." Sadly we lost but the wit was appreciated by our opponents.

Actually, I discovered a few years ago that chocolate is better at suppressing a tickly cough than most patent cough medicines so there is in fact a good reason for pharmacists to stock this relatively harmless item in place of cough mixture, never mind hormonal abortifacients.

On that matter (and indeed getting back to the point) in her article, RoseMary Baker also asks the pertinent question,
Why are we as a profession going along with the lie that postcoital contraception is not abortifacient?
She concludes the article:
The teenage pregnancy statistics for the UK are terrifying. What are we as a profession doing about it? We just find ways of making the morning after pill ever more widely available instead of spreading the word that sex, far more than chocolate and alcohol, needs to be treated with restraint and respect.
See the full article: More sex please! We’re pharmacists

H/T Caritas in Veritate

Resurrection - some enthusiastic Bible-bashing



During the Easter season it is good to see an enthusiastic presentation of the resurrection - both in video form and in thoughtful comments on the Gospel texts.

I found the above video by Rob Bell on the blog of the Archdiocese of Washington where Mgr Charles Pope regularly writes a lot of sense. Over the past few days he has been looking at the accounts of the resurrection in the Gospels. Many students of scripture will be familiar with the kind of exegesis that leaves you really no choice but to suppose that the "resurrection stories" are all rather confused, that the whole thing is probably a myth, and that it is more "grown-up" to imagine that the apostles were really sitting around like people at a funeral reception saying "it's as if old Bob were still with us."

Mgr Pope looks at the scriptural accounts in two excellent posts in which he offers a reconciliation of the accounts. I'm not a scripture scholar and I expect that some might want to disagree with some of Mgr Pope's suggestions, but it is good to see a different kind of approach to the scriptures, proceeding from a hermeneutic of faith, rather than suspicion.

Making Sense of the Resurrection Accounts – Are there Discrepancies?
A Chronological Sequence of the Resurrection Events

Friday, 29 April 2011

Pope John Paul II and priestly identity


One of the themes of Pope John Paul II's pontificate was his insistence on the necessity of the priesthood and his personal and heartfelt encouragement to priests, both in positive spiritual terms and, occasionally, in correction and admonition.

At the time Pope John Paul II was elected to the Papacy, it was quite common to hear, even in official circles, that the shortage of vocations to the priesthood was a work of the Holy Spirit, encouraging the laity to take their full part in the ministry of the Church. The fact that this is heard much less today (although there are still some dinosaurs who persist in the error) is largely due to the consistent teaching of Pope John Paul II on its falsity.

I well remember during the first year of his pontificate, the Pope's Maundy Thursday letter to priests. This was the first of a series that continued almost every year during his reign.In that letter, there was a moving exhortation to priests who were weary or doubtful:
Dear Brothers: you who have borne "the burden of the day and the heat" (Mt 20:12), who have put your hand to the plough and do not turn back (cf. Lk 9:62), and perhaps even more those of you who are doubtful of the meaning of your vocation or of the value of your service: think of the places where people anxiously await a Priest, and where for many years; feeling the lack of such a Priest, they do not cease to hope for his presence. And sometimes it happens that they meet in an abandoned shrine, and place on the altar a stole which they still keep, and recite all the prayers of the Eucharistic liturgy; and then, at the moment that corresponds to the transubstantiation a deep silence comes down upon them, a silence sometimes broken by a sob… so ardently do they desire to hear the words that only the lips of a Priest can efficaciously utter. So much do they desire Eucharistic Communion, in which they can share only through the ministry of a priest, just as they also so eagerly wait to hear the divine words of pardon: Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis! So deeply do they feel the absence of a Priest among them!... Such places are not lacking in the world. So if one of you doubts the meaning of his priesthood, if he thinks it is "socially" fruitless or useless, reflect on this!
In his letter to priests for Maundy Thursday 1986 Pope John Paul II reflected at length on the ministry and life of the Curé of Ars. He addressed in particular the question of the priest's identity:
Saint John Mary Vianney gives an eloquent answer to certain questionings of the priest's identity, which have manifested themselves in the course of the last twenty years; in fact it seems that today a more balanced position is being reached. The priest always, and in an unchangeable way, finds the source of his identity in Christ the Priest. It is not the world which determines his status, as though it depended on changing needs or ideas about social roles. The priest is marked with the seal of the Priesthood of Christ, in order to share in his function as the one Mediator and Redeemer.
The movement to a "more balanced position" concerning the priesthood was undoubtedly due in large part to the inspiration, example, and encouragement given by the Pope himself from the very start of his pontificate.

Well yes, proud to be British today


It is thrilling to see things done quite with quite such splendid perfection. It occurred to me too that gazillions of people, including most of the population of a Britain, beaten down by whinging secular killjoys, spent at least a little part of today following a religious service and listening to good sacred music, being inspired by it, and not feeling that their rights had been infringed or that they had been offended.

To be perfectly honest, I have been rather busy and have several funerals coming up, so I actually forgot about it all this morning until phoning the Vicar General about something and having to be reminded that it was a "Bank Holiday". (Not having a telly does at least release you from the obligation of national hysteria.) Looking at the coverage later, I was impressed by the sheer excellence of the Liturgy, and the procession from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace. I agree with Damian Thompson about the music and we should, I think, take our hats off to the dear old Church of England for the ceremony. Perhaps some advocates of happy-clappy liturgy might just join the dots after seeing what really inspires the general public?


As a priest, I do lament that the happy couple have been living together for some time before their marriage, and therefore have set a bad example to others. Nevertheless, the pastoral aim is always to encourage cohabiting couples to marry, and to celebrate when they do, so I think that is the right thing to do today. I will certainly be remembering them in my prayers. Ad multos annos!

You may remember from this blog before, that I take a keen interest in the cars that are used at weddings. Prince Charles was a good egg to lend his son a vintage Aston Martin to drive off in.

Family & Youth Concern Spring 2011 bulletin


The Family and Youth Concern Spring Bulletin is now online. Here are a few headings:
  • The importance of grandparents
  • Government reaffirms that primary schools are not required to teach sex education
  • Sex Education Forum attempts to redefine science curriculum in bid to impose sex education on primary schools
  • Two competing views of marriage
  • Fragile families in the US and UK
  • Let’s Stick Together: The Relationship Book for New Parents
  • Tax burden on single-earner married couples continues to rise
The bulletin is well worth reading. As ever, there is good information, sourced, and with sensible comment. Do join Family and Youth Concern which has supported the family for several decades.

Transformation in the heart of Soho

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A historic parish Church in the heart of London is gearing up for a new era of evangelisation - with the adoration of God at the heart of all its activity.

While in London yesterday, I had a tour of the works that are going on at St Patrick’s, Soho Square. Soho is a byword for chic restaurants and bohemian culture; sadly it is also known as a centre of sleaze, prostitution, drug addiction and other ills. Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, the parish priest of St Patrick’s, spoke to me of his parish, probably the oldest public parish in Westminster Diocese, founded in 1792. He suggested that it was not overly dramatic to say that the evil one has to a degree taken over this part of London. His mission is to develop St Patrick’s as a beacon of Catholicism and a centre for the new evangelisation.

Unfortunately, his historic Church has been in a sorry state for some years: Fr Sherbrooke has been working hard to restore it, and to develop new facilities for both the worship of God and the pastoral and charitable outreach of the parish. Down to brass tacks, the cost of the project is £3.5 million. I presumed that he must have had some grants from English Heritage or other public funds. He was quite insistent that there had been no public money involved, just people both rich and poor digging deep to support the mission of the Church and to see it continue. His approach has been successful: he has so far raised £3.25 million of the total.

Fr Sherbrooke was keen to stress that the heart of the new evangelisation is the Sacred Liturgy, especially the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Hence he has taken great trouble to ensure that the Church is restored as a place of beauty fit for the worship of God. One detail that will be of interest to readers is that the altar has been slightly moved and re-sited so that it is now suitable for celebrating Mass ad orientem as well as versus populum. The parish is committed to the “Benedictine reform” of the Liturgy, and, though the usus antiquior has not been a part of parish life to date, there is an openness to the provision of this for groups who request it.

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The parish of Soho Square does not merely “talk the talk” when it comes to the charitable activity that should flow from our worship of God. Underneath the Church, a new hall has been excavated (above), and fitted out with a kitchen that meets industrial specifications so that the Church can enhance its already thriving ministry to the homeless and to drug addicts. The parish has a concrete commitment to reach out to the poorest and most outcast of those who fall in one way or another within its reach. Again, a key principle is that no public grants or funding is sought or received, so that the Church is free to act according to Christian principles.

St Patrick’s is also home to various ethnic communities. Each week, Mass is offered in Spanish for the Latin American chaplaincy, in Portuguese for the Brasilians, and in either Mandarin or Cantonese for the Chinese Catholics who form a part of the local “Chinatown” in Soho

I have been to St Patrick’s on a few occasions to lecture to the School of Evangelisation (SPES) which, each year, gathers young people from around the world to study their faith and to go out on to the streets to bring the gospel to the marginalised as well as to those who happen along this part of London. The transformation of the crypt area will provide SPES with new facilities for their classes. It will also make it possible for other groups to meet at St Patrick’s, both for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and for formation.

The opening festivities will take place from 31 May to 2 June. Cardinal Pell is coming, as is George Weigel. James MacMillan has specially composed a new "St Patrick's Magnificat" for Vespers on 1 June, to be celebrated by Bishop James Conley, Auxiliary in Denver. The parish website has the full programme. Unfortunately I will be away in Lourdes and will miss it all, but I do encourage you to support this model parish in the heart of London. (If you have some money, there is an Appeal page.)

St Patrick pray for us.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

In praise of Pope John Paul II


In my parish this Saturday evening we are showing a film about Pope John Paul in preparation for the Church's celebration of his beatification. (For those in reach of Blackfen: 7pm Small Hall.)

I well remember that day in 1979 (16 October) sitting in a room in Keble College with my good friend John Hayes, listening to Vatican radio. Most people didn't have computers then, and the internet was in its infancy. We relied on Vatican radio and the weekly English edition of L'Osservatore for news of the Vatican. John was probably one of the few people in England to have recognised instantly, during the Habemus Papam announcement, that the name Karol belonged to the Polish Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow.

The election of a Polish pope filled us with excitement and hope - and we were not disappointed. This vigorous, determined, relatively young Pope began the process of halting the decline in the Church. His obviously sincere and heartfelt devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady were made abundantly evident in his public celebrations of the Liturgy: his discourses always ended with a paragraph or more related to the Blessed Virgin and he took the motto Totus Tuus from his personal consecration to her. This may seem tame nowadays but it was a major shift from the dreary iconoclasm of the 1970s.

Over the next few days, I will be writing about my own experiences of Pope John Paul II's pontificate. I may even be able to dig out a photograph or two showing me meeting him. It only occurred to me the other day, that these are about to take on a new significance. I don't have any other photos of me meeting a Beatus!

I am well aware that some have reservations about the beatification but I hereby nail my colours to the mast: Pope John Paul II was a great Pope and I am looking forward to celebrating a votive Mass in his honour when I am Rome next month.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

St Augustine Week at Ramsgate


St Augustine's Church in Ramsgate was Augustus Welby Pugin's ideal Church, constructed according to his "true principles of Christian architecture." Pugin is buried there and the Church stands as a monument to the arrival of St Augustine in Thanet in 597 after being sent by Pope St Gregory the Great.

Fr Marcus Holden is the parish priest of Ramsgate. As well as the Church of St Ethelbert and Gertrude, he is also responsible for the Church of St Augustine which was, until recently, the Church for the adjacent Benedictine Abbey. (The Benedictines have now moved.) He has launched an appeal for the restoration and repair of St Augustine's and founded the Friends of St Augustine's Church.

22-27 May will be St Augustine week, with a Public Lecture by Catriona Baker of the Pugin Society and other education and spiritual events, concluding with a solemn High Mass in the Church celebrated according to the usus antiquior. Here is the poster for St Augustine Week:

St Augustine's week

Monday, 25 April 2011

Eiger climb - 2' 47"



Ueli Steck breaks the record for speed-climbing the Eiger solo: two hours 47 minutes. I have done a little bit of climbing myself and find this video really impressive.

H/T New Advent

"Actuosa participatio" photo

Family Retreat

This photo struck me as a fine illustration of actuosa participatio. It is from the flickr set of Birmingham LMS Rep, Matthew Doyle, taken at the recent retreat of the Saint Catherine’s Trust for Traditional Family Education, sponsored by the Latin Mass Society. (Joseph Shaw also has a flickr set with more photos, especially of the Sacred Liturgy.)

Over 150 parents and children attended the retreat, including a family from my parish (I recognised quite a few other faces there too.) The retreat was led by Fr Andrew Southwell and ran alongside the Gregorian Chant Network course, so that appropriate music was available for the liturgy, and appropriate liturgy for the singing.

Here's a photo of some of the younger children. If I were an anti-Humanae Vitae, Tablet reader, I'd be worried for the future...

Family Retreat

Święcone in Brazil


Many thanks to Patricia in the combox for sending this photo of the blessing of Easter baskets in Curitibia, Brazil where there is a large Polish community. As I suggested in my earlier post, I think that this is a Catholic Easter tradition that could be revived for others as well as the Polish who have kept it alive.

(In relation to the discussion in that post about the timing of this blessing - note that this one was on Holy Saturday.)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Easter!


I was looking round for a picture to illustrate my Easter greetings to you. The great artists have featured on many blogs but I was especially struck by the atmospheric photos from the Easter Vigil of the Transalpine Redemptorists. If you do not already subscribe to their bi-monthly newspaper Catholic, do be sure to get the latest edition which also includes an absorbing 96 page A4 book about Pope Leo XIII with lots of fascinating photographs. (Scroll down the sidebar of their blog: you can get a pdf subscription form or subscribe by paypal.)

Anyway - Happy Easter to you all. May Our Blessed Lord enrich you with His grace during this holy season and especially bless your families.

"You shall be my witnesses"



Is it appropriate to post a controversial video on Easter Sunday? I think that this one captures rather well the spirit of the Apostles:
But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1.8)
More information at TFP Student Action.

Święcone - blessing of Easter food

Święcone


The blessing of meat, eggs and bread at the end of Lent is a Catholic tradition that has been preserved by the Polish people.

A Polish family in my parish asked to bless their baskets of food (containing these items) on Holy Saturday so I arranged to do so at 11am, letting others know also. Above you can see a basket (Święcone) that was prepared as a gift for me.

When I was asked to do this blessing by another Polish family a couple of years ago, I was intrigued to find that in my 1860 copy of the Roman Ritual (above), there is, precisely, a blessing of lamb, eggs and bread for Holy Saturday.

This convinced me that the devotion kept by the Poles must have been something more widely practised in past centuries. The immediate explanation might be that this is the blessing of food at the end of the Lenten fast. It must be more than that. People would have abstained from meat, and from lacticinia (including eggs) but not from bread. Perhaps there is a more specifically eucharistic reference. The modern Polish custom is to have a model of a lamb, or a lamb made out of sugar, but also to include other meats (including delicious Polish sausage.)

Liturgical observers will also note that the blessing is expected on Holy Saturday, late in the morning. This will seem odd to priests who have only known the evening Easter Vigil: Holy Saturday is nowadays observed as a day of mourning at the tomb of Jesus; although the altar of repose is not supposed to be a focus of devotion. We are simply meant to observe a void. I remember many years ago in Rome that a parish priest put up a liturgically correct notice at the altar of repose where there was a fine statue of the dead Christ. It admonished the faithful that this was not the tomba di Cristo. A fellow student suggested putting up an alternative notice saying "Si, é la tomba di Cristo e si deve piangere un pó" ("Yes, it is the tomb of Christ and you should weep a bit.") Not something to cling to in doctrinal terms but certainly a recognition of something that was eradicated from the sentiments of the faithful.

Until 1951 the Easter Vigil was in the morning: a ceremony lasting perhaps four hours or so. At the end of that, people would have a slap-up lunch to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and the end of the Lenten fast. Hence the blessing of the food before the meal. There may also be an element of prayer for restoration of health after a debilitating fast.

Now there seems to be a haze of mixed memories. One young (i.e. well after the 1950s) family I spoke to, said that in Poland there were always Masses on Holy Saturday morning. A Polish priest firmly assured me that the blessing was always done on Easter Sunday morning. The wholesale disruption of the Triduum services in 1955 served to confuse many long-standing popular customs and devotions that were centred upon the Liturgy. Naturally this was done with the scholars with little pastoral experience who felt that their bureaucratically tidy reforms would help people participate in the Liturgy.

Next year, I think I will try and encourage this devotion among all the families of the parish. The Easter baskets were fascinating for the children who were present this year, and I think it would be a good way to get families to come along to Church for a little prayer and catechesis on Holy Saturday.

Here is a link with more information on the current observance of the Święconka

For those who want a copy of the Latin text of the traditional blessings, here is a link to a pdf of the Rituale Romanum. The blessings of lamb, eggs and bread are on page 198. Here is an English translation taken from the very helpful Sancta Missa site:
THE EASTER BLESSINGS OF FOOD

Blessing of Lamb
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit

Let us pray.
O God, who by your servant Moses commanded your people in their deliverance from Egypt to kill a lamb as a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, and prescribed that its blood be used to sign the two door-posts of their homes; may it please you to bless and sanctify this creature-flesh which we, your servants, desire to eat in praise of you. We ask this in virtue of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.
All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.

Blessing of Eggs
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.

Let us pray.
Lord, let the grace of your blessing come upon these eggs, that they be healthful food for your faithful who eat them in thanksgiving for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.
All: Amen.

They are sprinkled with holy water.

Blessing of Bread
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit

Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, bread of angels, true bread of everlasting life, be pleased to bless this bread, as you once blessed the five loaves in the wilderness, so that all who eat of it may derive health in body and soul. We ask this of you who live and reign forever and ever.
All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.
I was told that there should also be a blessing of salt, since this is traditionally included in the Święcone. My guess is that it would be an exorcism of salt.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The excitement of Holy Week in the parish


I think I enjoy Holy Week more with each passing year. I'm quite familiar with the Novus Ordo ceremonies which we have for Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, and becoming more accustomed to the usus antiquior ceremonies that we have for the Maundy Thursday Mass (and for one of our Palm Sunday Masses.) Being able to worry less about the rubrics means that I have a little less distraction during the celebration of Mass.

The Monday to Wednesday of Holy Week, we have mass in both forms each day. Our English Mass is at the customary time of 10am. On Monday we had an evening Low Mass, yesterday a Missa Cantata with the sung Passion of St Luke, and today an early Mass at 7am. While there is not a massive attendance at any of these Masses, it is lovely to see so many children and young people making the effort to come.

My policy in Holy Week is "confessions after everything" which gives people a number of opportunities to celebrate the sacrament without being tied to one Penance Service. I also worry that the Penance Service could be misinterpreted as though it were not important to go to confession regularly at other times. We have already had quite a few confessions during the week and there will probably be a good number of confessions tomorrow and on Good Friday.

In the morning of Good Friday, we have two sets of Stations of the Cross. The first is especially for young children: we use something like the St Joseph Picture Book stations, though I have edited them a bit. The children can bring along a cross that they have made, to carry as we walk round the stations: often Dad helps out with this - which is a good way of getting fathers involved. We have the versicle and response at the beginning of each station, and the St Alphonsus act of contrition at the end, so the children get to learn those prayers. Afterwards we have the traditional St Alphonsus Stations.

Sadly we don't have an adult baptism at the Easter Vigil this year but we do have a baby to be baptised on Easter Sunday. I feel very fortunate to have a parish with so many enthusiastic young families. I think that Holy Week helps the faith of children and young people significantly with all of the dramatic elements that only happen once a year. They seem to be excited and eager to celebrate these momentous days, and that can only help the rest of us.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Usus Antiquior in Groningen Cathedral

The NLM reported recently on the celebration of the Usus Antiquior in Groningen Cathedral.

In 2008, I visited Groningen Cathedral while on a trip to the Netherlands for the Catechetical Boot Camp. It struck me then, that the High Altar could easily be used for the usus antiquior since the versus populum altar could be moved without any trouble. This has now happened, and I was delighted to hear that the Mass had to be moved to the High Altar because of the numbers attending. I had an email the other day from Brother Hugo who said that I was "partly to blame" for all this :-) Warmest greetings to all my friends in the Netherlands. Congratulations on this splendid occasion.

You can see some more videos at Brother Hugh's blog and there is a report at In Caelo et in Terra. Here is a video with some of the powerful singing at the Mass:



(Sorry about the broken links for the photos on my earlier blog posts. I used to put photos on Facebook and link to them. Facebook has changed the links. Thanks a lot, Facebook!)

'Blogging' Bishop Campbell Welcomes Vatican 'Blogfest'


That's the title of the press release from the Diocese of Lancaster where Bishop Michael Campbell OSA updates his blog each week to give news of what has been happening in his diocese. So far, Bishop Campbell is the only Bishop blogger in Britain. Here is the comment from Bishop Campbell on the Holy See's meeting for bloggers:
The new media represent a revolution in communication as significant as the invention of the printing press. It has taken journalism and public discourse out of the hands of powerful media groups and put it in the hands of millions of ordinary people throughout the world.

Just as the Church was at the forefront of other revolutions in communication, such as the copying and dissemination of manuscripts, printing presses, radio and television, the Church is embarking on the development of the new media through the creativity and investment of time and money by thousands of Catholic bloggers and web designers.

The meeting in Rome on the 2nd of May organised by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications is a recognition by the Holy See of the importance of this fast-changing medium for the future of the Church’s engagement with modern culture. May Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, bless this endeavour.
That is a pretty good summary. Note to self: keep this one high up in the aggregator.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Friends, bogans, countrymen: put down your beers



"The Italians are on the right track Lambretta, Lambrusco, Lamborghini, but there's still a long way to go..."

Australia Day was on 26 January so this is really late, but I just looked up Australia's Lambasssador, Sam Kekovich, who managed to get himself blue-screened against various iconic sites in Europe to promote Australian lamb. It's silly but quite funny.

(To save you asking: Bogan.)

Old chestnut time: confessions in Holy Week

Priests are allowed to hear confessions during Holy Week; and during the Triduum. Every year, I mention this because of the silly positivistic interpretations of an older version of the Novus Ordo Missal which has now been corrected. See, for example: Let's smash this old chestnut once and for all (and yes, I know it is a coconut in the picture.)

Fr Z, with tremendous patience, has addressed the matter yet again this year: Confessions during the Triduum.

I am on my own in the parish and therefore cannot usually have confessions during Mass (which is permitted - see the link to Fr Z above.) During Holy Week I have the policy of hearing confessions after all services. Monday to Wednesday, we have two Masses each day: usus antiquior and usus recentior with confessions afterwards. there are confessions after the Maundy Thursday Mass, after the Good Friday stations, and after the Liturgy of the Passion, and at the usual times on Saturday. (If you want to come to anything at Blackfen, here is a link to our times of services.)

I estimate that we have more confessions than we would have if we set up a communal penance service: and the advantage is that people who have not been for a while experience the sacramental celebration in its usual context rather than as a one-off celebration that might give the impression that it is not necessary to go again until the next penance service.

Sometimes people are kind enough to sympathise with me, saying that it must be a very busy time. In fact, Palm Sunday is the most exhausting for the solo parish priest because you have to celebrate an extended Liturgy several times. (In Blackfen our usus antiquior blessing, procession, sung Passion and High Mass took two and a half hours this morning.) For the rest of Holy Week, it is actually very relaxing. Nobody has meetings or conferences, so all I have to do is celebrate the Liturgy of the Church. I almost become a monk for a week! BTW I will be attending Tenebrae at St Mary Moorfields in the City on Wednesday at 6.30pm. If you can get to it, I recommend it.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

iPad for Choir Directors


Clare, the Choir Director at St Mary Magdalen's Brighton, has a post about Catholic uses of the iPad 2 as a Choir Director. I was especially struck by the practicality of using it during the darker part of the Easter vigil, and for gently given pitching notes without having to use a tuning fork or go back to the organ. Her post has dented my obstinacy in refusing to go for anything proprietary. Let's see how the Easter offering goes ...

H/T Bara Brith

Friday, 15 April 2011

A Guild of Catholic Bloggers

The Reluctant Sinner has floated the idea of a Guild of Catholic Bloggers. I think it is a good idea and will be going along to the planning meeting on 7 May. In response to a comment on this blog, I suggested the idea of having Blessed Titus Brandsma as the patron saint. His feast day is 26 July so it might be good to organise a Mass for that day.

Bloggers naturally want to keep their independence intact but it is always good to meet up with other bloggers, commenters and readers face to face at blognics, traditional Masses, and other Catholic events. A Guild might well be able to help that along, so I'm more than willing to get in on this and encourage it along.

YouCat: not only problems of translation

OK so the Italian translation of YouCat 420 is to be corrected to make it clear that the Church does not teach that a Catholic couple can and should use contraception. That is a relief, I suppose. Ignatius Press, for whom I have the highest respect, have posted a loyal and serious defence of YouCat in this area.

Unfortunately, the quotation given from YouCat 421 gives further cause for concern. It reads:
421 Why are all methods of preventing the conception of a child not equally good?

The Church recommends the refined methods of self-observation and natural family planning (NFP) as methods of deliberately regulating conception. These are in keeping with the dignity of man and woman; they respect the innate laws of the female body; they demand mutual affection and consideration and therefore are a school of love. [2370–2372, 2399]
Both the question and the answer fly in the face of everything that loyal Catholics have done to promote the teaching of Humanae Vitae.

The Church does not say that contraception and natural family planning are "not equally good." It teaches that contraception is a sin (not a lesser good), while NFP may be a morally acceptable means of limiting the size of a family if there are serious reasons for doing so.

The Church does not "recommend" NFP as though artificial contraception were a less perfect option. Nor, in fact does it consider NFP and contraception to be the same kind of moral action. This is one of the basic elements of apologetics in support of the moral teaching of the Church: contraception is definitively closed to the gift of new life, while NFP recognises that new life may be less likely at certain times.

The composers of YouCat have made a classic mistake in their attempt to appeal to young people. A question and answer such as 421 above, looks like an attempt to put things diplomatically: to water down the teaching of the Church in case it is too difficult.

In fact, the young people who are still willing to listen to the Church want clear, unambiguous answers. On sexual ethics, they may fail to live the natural law as clarified by the Catholic Church but they will be willing to repent and come back to Christ in humility. As a priest working in perhaps the most secular corner of the planet, I am only too well aware of the import of the modern translation of Psalm 118 "How shall the young remain sinless?" The answer is "by obeying your law", not by waffling around in timid appeasement. (As I highlighted the other day, Waffle should only be served with syrup.) The last thing young people need is for priests to fudge what are crucial questions for their everyday lives.

YouCat has already earned the nickname LolCat. If the stuff on contraception is so muddled, what will it be like in other areas of theology? I await the published edition (released today) with some trepidation.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Youcat fiasco: Raffaella says "Give us a break!"


In the wake of the Youcat fiasco, Raffaella writes with true Roman fury on the betrayal of Pope Benedict by those around him. (I could imagine her reducing Roman Senators to quivering wrecks.)

I have spent some time translating her article: it was not easy because it is written with acidic Italian colloquial expressions for which there is no English equivalent. Figuraccia means something much more contemptible than the very British "poor show" (I have translated it as "mess" in the context); Basta! is really more intensive than "Enough!"; and I don't really know how to translate anonimo-rana: anonymous frog doesn't seem right :-) There are other expressions where I may have gone wrong but I hope that my version gives you some flavour of what she is saying out of love for Pope Benedict and anger at those who should assist him.

Here is the link to the original text. If you read Italian, you will love it for the power of its expression. And by the way, it you do read Italian, or even if you are happy to work through a google translation, I heartily recommend Il blog degli amici di Papa Ratzinger [4] (The blog of the friends of Papa Ratzinger [4]) The "4" is because they write so many posts, they have gone through the google storage limit several times.



The mistranslation of "Youcat" is the last straw on the camel's back. Sloppiness? Indifference? Little love for the Church? Give us a break already! Six years of shallowness is too much for anyone!

Dear friends, I think that that now is the right time to say “Enough!” One of those “enoughs” that is liberating and spoken openly. Nobody will listen to us, but at least we can speak about it among ourselves.

Let us speak plainly: we have all had more than enough of the sloppiness, ignorance, superficiality, and lack of commitment that surround the Holy Father

I find it appalling and shameful that, faced with an obvious error, someone in the Vatican should have tried to offload the blame onto the original German version of Youcat. I do not know who the anonymous bigmouth is who spoke with Aciprensa but given that he is skilful in the typically bad Italian practice of passing the buck, I bet that he is a fellow countryman.

After all, as is well-known, we Italians are great at trying to load our own faults onto the backs of others. The Vatican curia is good at showing this attitude.

This is not the first time that errors have been committed which are as serious as they are gross, sure of the most absolute impunity. Has anything changed in recent years? It doesn’t look like it! When all is said and done, for six years Benedict XVI has paid for the faults of everyone else: this is not the first time that we have commented on it.

In 2006, in January, he had to announce the issue of his first encyclical at a General Audience; its publication had been postponed time and again, supposedly because of problems of translation.

Have we perhaps forgotten the errors contained in the Italian version of the first volume of “Jesus of Nazareth”?

Or have we overlooked the mess that had to be put right with the (again Italian) version of “Light of the World” which even had spelling mistakes?

Or have we eradicated from our memory what happened in 2009 with the revocation of the excommunication of the Lefebvrists? There was a lovely meeting between cardinals in which it was decided with absolute autonomy that it was not worth bothering to explain the reason for the decree of remission approved by the Pope – with all the consequences that we are familiar with.

And when the Williamson “case” burst out, did we perhaps see someone from the curia (anyone) take one step forward to take on even a little bit of the blame?

Does anyone actually care, for heaven's sake? In the end it was the Pope who had to take up pen, paper and ink, and write a letter to the bishops in which he took on all the responsibility. Was someone in the curia sent off to take a crash course in savvy? Come off it!

And how can we forget the notorious year of 2010 when nobody managed to answer up as they should? Still – paedophilia was a thorn in the side of the Church and we should not have come upon this media storm unprepared. Not only were they not in a position to respond to each individual crime, as would be the duty of the Holy See: they were not even able to defend adequately the work of Ratzinger, as Cardinal and Pope.

But here the big question opens up: was it that they didn't know how to defend the Pope or that they didn't  want to? It is a mystery (not of the faith but of men.) In the end it was Benedict XVI yet again, who took the situation in hand.

In December, when the worst of the storm was over - only then - look how the letters of the then Cardinal Ratzinger magically sprang up, dated 1988, the proof, the “smoking gun” showing his ten year battle against the scourge. Shame! If we had had those letters in March, rather than in December, things would probably have gone differently. In any case, we would have had one more weapon for spreading the truth.

Now we come to the blunder of the mistaken translation of Youcat. OK, compared with the avalanche of last year, this sorry mess looks like a mere slipping on a banana skin: but it is a very significant episode because it is a symbol. It is the symbol of the sloppiness, bad faith, incivility, the “couldn’t care less” attitude of indifference, and of the very poor planning of those who hold prominent positions. It is not a trivial thing to put into the hands of young people a tool that contains a grave error from the point of view of Catholic doctrine.

Yesterday evening, Cardinal Sandri spoke of Joseph Ratzinger as the “Cyrenean” of Papa Wojtyla. This is a characteristic that I have always admired and continue to admire in John Paul II: his great shrewdness in the choice of co-workers. He understood straight away that Cardinal Ratzinger was the right man for the CDF. In that role the ex-professor of theology acted as a lightning-rod, a target for every sort of arrow; he acted, precisely, as a “Cyrenean.” He carried out that task with a total love for Christ and His Church, and with an absolute dedication to the Holy Father.

Yesterday evening, an anonymous friend asked intriguingly: who is the “Cyrenean” for Ratzinger today? The distressing reply is: nobody! You are right, Mariateresa: no Cyrenean, only a sack-load of pants. The question could be put in another way: who today is the “Ratzinger for Ratzinger?” The answer is the same: nobody!

The truth is as distressing as the answer. I am sorry to write this, but I see little love around the Pope. I do not see many people who genuinely wish him well; I do not see anyone ready to help him bear the cross.

Papa Wojtyla was surrounded by people who were not only faithful to him, but also genuinely wished him well; and this is the big difference with respect to Pope Benedict. But I would not say that John Paul II was lucky; I would rather say that he chose very trustworthy people, among whom was the “Cyrenean.”

I think that it is really time to say enough of the sloppiness and “couldn’t care less” attitude. It is not difficult to work out who is responsible for certain gaffes. They take the decisions that fit the bill. There comes a point when we must understand that it is the time to push for a decisive new direction.

All we can do is to have our say. The rest is not in our hands.

Raffaella

All about fancy gowns?


Fancy gowns and overblown triumphalist ceremony - I'm not talking about the traditional Mass but about one of our leading universities.

Damian Thompson has a post today which continues a theme where he (rightly in my personal opinion) expresses concern about the silly remarks made by David Cameron about Oxford University, accusing the University of discriminatory admissions policies.

I don't feel that is particularly a discussion for this blog but I was struck by the photograph used to illustrate Damian's post. The Chancellor, Chris Patten, is wearing a richly decorated gown, and assisted by a young train-bearer in buckled shoes. If you look at other photos of Encaenia (the annual honorary degree awarding ceremony) you will see all sorts of fancy gowns and accoutrements.

Were this a procession for a traditional Mass, there would undoubtedly be spiteful comments about how they are only concerned with outward show, lace and fancy cloaks, how it is all a bit, well, unmanly, and how much better it would be if they only made it more simple and immediately intelligible.

The gowns, hoods and mortar boards worn at Oxford are vestiges of its clerical past. It is interesting that they are acceptable when the living tradition of ecclesiastical dress attracts so much vitriol. Oh, and by the way, the formal orations at Encaenia are given in Latin.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A magnificent Conference to be held in Rome


If you are in Rome on the weekend of 13-15 May, you have the chance to participate in a most remarkable Conference, including a Pontifical High Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter's celebrated by the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship.

The Associazione Giovani e Tradizione (Youth and Tradition Association) and the Sodality of Priestly Friends of Summorum Pontificum are holding the third Conference on the Motu Proprio in Rome from 13-15 May 2011 with the theme "Hope for the entire Church."

The Conference is supported by officials of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, and the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

On the first evening of the conference, there will be a spiritual conference given at Ssma Trinita dei Pellegrini  by Fr Cassian Folsom OSB and Bishop Athansius Schneider will celebrate Pontifical Vespers.

On the Saturday, there will be seven papers given in the Aula Minor of the Angelicum. Speakers include Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, and Cardinal Kurt Koch - the line-up is outstanding so take a look at the English translation of the programme (Word document.)

The Conference will conclude with Pontifical Mass at the Faldstool in St Peter’s Basilica, celebrated by His Eminence Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera. At the Mass, the chant will be sung by the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music at Rome, and the polyphony (including Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli) will be sung by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation Choir, directed by Cardinal Bartolucci himself. Priests, Deacons and Seminarians are invited to assist in choro and must be in the Sacristy of St Peter's by 7.30am.

Sadly (to put it mildly), I will be leaving Rome on a flight that takes off at around the time the Conference begins on the Friday afternoon. I shall be returning to my humble work in the vineyard of the Lord and will pray earnestly for the success of this magnificent Conference.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Not tired of London

London 001

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life" said Samuel Johnson. Thanks be to God I have not yet tired of London.

An unexpected eventuality left me free yesterday evening since a good Franciscan priest wanted to say my Sunday evening Mass. I therefore seized the opportunity to take a rare "Day Off" which I spent in London, staying overnight in town. This morning I took a walk which included a circuit of St James's Park before meeting Sir Dan for lunch. It gave me the opportunity to take some photos of London in the spring.

Here is a view of Buckingham Palace:

London 010

the Foreign Office crowned by the Wheel:

London 017

a view of Horseguards from the end of the lake:

London 024

A wonderful bird is the Pelican
Its beak can hold more than its belly can:

London 018

We are shortly to have a Royal Wedding. Here is a venue for a previous Royal Wedding:

London 006

The Queen's Chapel was designed by Inigo Jones for the Infanta of Castile on her proposed marriage to the then Prince Charles. In the end, the chapel was completed in 1627 for the marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. It was used as a barracks from 1642 but restored to worship by Catherine of Braganza who established a Friary in the grounds. Sadly, it was given over to "reformed worship" by William III after the "glorious revolution" of 1688.

(Some cab drivers will tell you that the Elephant and Castle was in fact a cockney corruption of "The Infanta of Castile.")

Forthcoming Evangelium Conference



The Evangelium Conference has been a great success from a fairly recent "standing start". The publicity for this year's conference has been overshadowed a little by the World Youth Day in Madrid, so do take a look at the details of the conference from 5-7 August and book in if you are free.

Sir Dan - no waffle please

Dan

Sir Dan of the Blogosphere is a long-time opponent of meaningless waffle. We had lunch today in central London and I found a perfect photo opportunity afterwards at Charing Cross Station.

Sir Dan agrees with Hiscox Insurance that "Waffle should only be served up with syrup."

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Hilary's setting up the Taliban Catholic blognic in Rome

Today's invitation from Hilary White: Hey "Taliban Catholic" Bloggers!! Come to the *Other* Rome Catholic Blognic.

Well someone had to do it - and Hilary is just the girl! Michael Voris will be keynote speaker which sets the tone more or less unambiguously. There will be pizza and beer; and if you absent-mindedly leave your computer and turn up in pyjamas that will probably not be noticed too much. It will be happening on 3 May from 1-5 pm at a location yet to be determined since Hilary only had the idea on Friday.

I'm on the invite list, quite high up. Drat! My ecclesiastical career prospects were looking so hopeful and all. Well, since my cover is blown, I will freely admit that I was in on the conspiracy at an early stage (the beer & pizza bit was mine.) Unfortunately, I have already booked to go to Rome the week after and I can't just swan off from the parish at the drop of a hat. However, I think I will be allowed to participate in some way by Skype.

You can sign up on Facebook at the group for The *Other* Rome Catholic Blognic. If you have got fed up with Facebook and napalmed your profile, you can just put a comment on Hilary's blog.

By the way, this is not a spoof. It is actually going to happen. There will be video. If you are in Rome on 3 May and you are a Catholic blogger you really don't want to miss it. (Unless you are hoping to be a Monsignor, or get a job at Eccleston Square etc.)

Six Rules for Facebook


Danielle Bean writes about the rules that she set down for her daughter, Kateri, when she started her own Facebook profile. I think that they are quite sensible, hence I pass on the link to you, especially parents: Six Rules for Facebook.

Actually the rules are quite sensible for everyone, not just teenagers. Especially:
3. Remember: It's forever.

Yes, you can delete status updates, photos, and even "friends" who turn out to be weirdos, but a well-timed screen shot is all it takes to be your undoing -- with your boss, your kid's school, or your mother-in-law. Even if you maintain the strictest of privacy settings, remember that people love to talk and share, right-click and save. Don't ever share something on Facebook you wouldn't want the entire world to know.
The way I put it to young people is "Do not post anything on the internet that you would not want to be posted on the noticeboard in the school hall."

I was interested to read that Danielle's daughter was 16 when this issue came up at home. It's nice to read that. Children wander out into the wild too early here in SE England - often without the kind of wise advice that Kateri has been given.

Photo of Sitting Bull wearing a crucifix


"Have you ever seen the non-cropped version of the Sitting Bull?" was the question put to Taylor Marshall by Fr Phil Wolfe. The above photo (from Taylor's Canterbury Tales blog) may seem very familiar, but the crucifix is not normally shown.

Sitting Bull became a Catholic in later life, being influenced by the friendship of the French Canadians. Roman Christendom also has a lengthy post about him: A Roman Catholic Sioux leader: Chief Sitting Bull

Saturday, 9 April 2011

ACN Pilgrimage to Walsingham

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Aid to the Church in Need are running a Pilgrimage to Walsingham which you may like to join. Walsingham is a great place of devotion, steeped in Catholic history and it is always worth visiting, especially on a spiritual exercise: and ACN are an excellent group to go with. Here are the details:
Aid to the Church in Need UK
Annual Walsingham Pilgrimage of Hope
Saturday, 30th April 2010

Please join us as Aid to the Church in Need remembers suffering Christians around the world with our 2011 Pilgrimage to the Roman Catholic National Shrine in Walsingham.

ACN is organising coaches from London Victoria, Bressenden Place, departing at 08:00. Should parishioners wish to join us at Walsingham, travelling independently or, perhaps, organising coaches from their locality they are very welcome to do so.

For those who would like to join us on this Pilgrimage and would like more information a brochure and booking form is downloadable from the ACN website. You could also contact us on 020 8642 8668

Friday, 8 April 2011

Vatican blognic


The Vatican is holding an official blognic the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Space is limited to 150 so if you are a blogger and want to get into this, you had better sign up quickly at the email address below. Please note that there is a dress code on Vatican property even for bloggers, and you would be advised to remember not to go in your pyjamas.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications gives the official information in Italian. Here is my own unoffical translation:
Information on the meeting in the Vatican for Bloggers
St Pius X Auditorium, 2 May 2011


A meeting of bloggers will take place on the afternoon of 2 May. The event, organized by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Communications, aims to enable a dialogue between bloggers and representatives of the Church, to share the experiences of those working in this field and to better understand the needs of that community. The meeting will also present some of the initiatives that the Church is putting in place in the world of new media, whether in Rome or at the local level.

In the two planned sessions, various speakers will present some key points to open a discussion open to all the participants. In the first, five bloggers, representing the different language areas, will address specific issues of general importance. In the second, there will be accounts from people involved in the communication strategies of the Church, who will present their experiences of working with new media, as well as initiatives for an effective meeting between the Church and the world of bloggers.

Participants will include Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Claudio Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See and of Vatican Radio. An important aspect of the meeting will be that of offering the opportunity for new contacts, informal exchanges among participants, and to open new avenues of interaction.

L’incontro si svolge il giorno dopo la Beatificazione di Giovanni Paolo II, per questo si prevede la presenza a Roma di numerosi bloggers. L’invito è aperto a tutti, ma, per partecipare, bisogna inviare un email a blogmeet@pccs.it con un link al proprio blog. Dato che lo spazio è limitato a 150 posti, e c’è il desiderio di avere una rappresentanza di tutta la blogosfera, i pass e i dettagli per l’evento saranno assegnati secondo criteri linguistici e geografici, la tipologia del blog (istituzionale, privato, multiautore o personale), le tematiche e la tempestività dell’iscrizione.

The meeting will be held the day after the beatification of John Paul II: the presence of numerous bloggers in Rome is expected for this event. The invitation is open to all, but to participate, please send an email to blogmeet@pccs.it with a link to your blog. Given that space is limited to 150 seats, and it is desires to have a representation of the entire blogosphere, passes and details for the event will be assigned according to geographic and linguistic criteria, the type of blog (institutional, private, multi-author or personal), the basic themes, and the timeliness of registration.

A simultaneous translation service will be provided in the following languages: Italian, Spanish, French, Polish and English.

The venue is the St Pius X Auditorium, Via della Conciliazione, No 5 (entrance on the Via dell’Ospedale.)
H/T Paolo Rodari who introduces his article with these observations:
For some time, bloggers on religious matters have been an important voice on the web. Their blogs are read in the Vatican. They influence opinions. I would say more: they influence decisions on the upper floors.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Beyond Pink Ribbon Blues

Gayle Sulik has criticised the manipulative and ineffective “awareness” campaign against breast cancer in her book Pink Ribbon Blues. She points to the fact that the campaign has done virtually nothing to lower the incidence of breast cancer. Matt Hanley recognises her valuable contribution but points out that she also has a blind spot (see: Pink Ribbons & the Mother of all Causes.) He says:
Had she dug deeper, she would have had to acknowledge a “cause” far more alluring and destructive – a “cause” which has contributed mightily to the tremendous rise in breast cancer over the past several decades: the “liberation” promised by the sexual revolution. This alleged “liberation” requires the radical disruption of natural biological processes which in turn imperil breast tissue, so it can only be out of deference to that supreme cause that she utterly fails to specify, let alone stress, three of the most protective things a woman can do to reduce breast cancer risk: have children earlier in life, refrain from artificial contraception, and avoid induced abortions.
In the logic-free zone of secular society, some people will doubtless cry angrily that Matt Hanley is "blaming" women for having breast cancer. So let me subvert that inevitable attempt at politically correct emotional blackmail. He is not blaming women for having breast cancer. He is blaming the culture which refuses to allow any critical assessment of its sexual revolution which has caused so much harm physically, emotionally, and spiritually to those who have been manipulated into accepting its dogma without question.

Good Counsel Network's welcome but worrying problem


The Good Counsel Network offer abortion-bound women alternatives and practical support. Their rate of success is good, but this has now created a problem: the number of women that they are seeing has increased five-fold but the increase in financial support does not match this.

There are currently 23 women who depend on the Good Counsel Network for food, and nine are being housed by them; this gives some idea of the need. Most of the women are able to return to independence after a year of so but some are in urgent need. You can read more at the Good Counsel's blog Maria Stops Abortion: see the post Five-fold Increase in Women Coming to Good Counsel - Help Us Feed and House Mothers and Babies Today

To donate, you can go to the Donations page. This offers you the choice of donating by PayPal, by credit/debit card at the Justgiving website, or by sending a cheque in the post. (Could I gently suggest that readers from outside the UK donate online rather than by sending a cheque since UK banks charge a considerable fee for clearing foreign cheques.) If you are a UK taxpayer, you can send in a Gift Aid Declaration which can be downloaded from the Donations page.

Marian retreat at Pantasaph


Fr Agnellus Murphy, of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, is leading a retreat on Our Lady at Pantasaph in North Wales from 6–8 May. Here are the details:
Mary in the New Testament
and in the Lives of the Faithful

6th - 8th May 2011

Grow in your knowledge and
love of Our Blessed Mother!

Talks by Fr. Agnellus M. Murphy, FI:
1) Who is Mary? The First Principle of Our Mariology
2) Immaculate Conception: Mary, Victrix over Evil
3) Mother Undefiled: Mary and the Infancy Narratives
4) New Eve: Mary and the Paschal Mystery
5) Clothed with the Sun: Mary, Archetype of the Church

Franciscan Retreat Centre, Pantasaph, Holywell, Flintshire CH8 8PE
Tel: 01352 711053
Email: pantasaph@gmail.com
Website: www.pantasaph.org.uk

£25 deposit - £90 full offering

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

James MacMillan at EF Mass in Amsterdam


Last week I wrote about the canonical establishment of the FSSP house in Amsterdam. Today, James MacMillan tells of his visit to the St Agneskerk during a trip to Amsterdam to conduct at the Concertgebouw. This was only the third time that he had attended the usus antiquior Mass but the title of his blogpost does not convey any ambiguity concerning his feelings: An Extraordinary Form Mass in Amsterdam – much more inspiring than the usual trendy rubbish.

Musicians who have worked hard to help people participate actively at Mass are usually struck by the way in which the people in the congregation at the older form of the Mass sing the parts of the Mass that pertain to them. James MacMillan also noticed this in Amsterdam: his observations would be borne out by a visit to any parish that regularly celebrates the extraordinary form.

This is exactly what Vatican II asked for:
"... steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 54)

Pro-Life climb of Croagh Patrick

Photo credit: Eamonn Keane

Pro-Lifers from the North and South of Ireland will be climbing Croagh Patrick to raise awareness of the need to protect human life.

Pat Buckley of the European Pro-Life Network invites pro-lifers from Ireland and abroad to take part in the climb on Saturday 7 May. Pro-Life T-shirts and other insignia are encouraged. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal from Derry will be taking part, and my good friend, Fr Fidelis, will celebrate Mass at the summit, where there is an Oratory dedicated to St Patrick.

Photo credit: Paul McIlroy

St Patrick fasted for forty days on the summit of Croagh Patrick and, according to legend, threw a silver bell down the side of the mountain, exorcising the she-demon Corra, and banishing all the snakes from Ireland.

Family Planning Official murder in China

Women's Rights Without Frontiers has published the story of the murder of Mr Xu Shuaishuai by a Family Planning Official in China.

The report tells of how the Family Planning Officials were looking for Mr Xu's sister so that she could be taken for forced sterilisation. Since they could not find her, they started beating up the Father of the family. Mr Xu tried to intervene and was stabbed in the heart twice with a long knife by one of the Family Planning Officials. He died on the way to hospital.

The Chinese website boxun.com reports that "The murderer is still enjoying his freedom as though nothing had happened." Attempts to gain justice from the local Public Security Bureau or to publicise the event in the local media met with excuses and inaction.

The Women's Rights Without Frontiers report makes the pertinent observation:
The fact that no action is being taken against the family planning murderer demonstrates one of two things: either the Chinese Communist Party sanctions murder to enforce its One Child Policy, or the CCP has lost control of its Family Planning Officials and is unable to bring the murderer to justice.
To allow such atrocities to go unpunished brings shame and loss of face to the hard-working and genuinely patriotic people of China. The authorities themselves show a lack of concern for their people by failing to summon up the moral courage to deal effectively with this lawlessness and repression. Please pray earnestly to Our Lady of China for all people of goodwill in that wonderful country.

H/T SPUC

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Photos of Mgr Newton with the Holy Father

© Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

This is the photo that I was waiting for! It is great to see Mgr Keith Newton with the Holy Father. The book that he is presenting to the Holy Father is a collection of the photographs of the Ordinariate groups which have been published on this website and the first ordinations. The Holy Father was also presented with a copy of Fr Michael Rear's new book about pilgrimage
to Walsingham, and an image of Our Lady of Walsingham.

There are some more photos at the flickr set of the Ordinariate.

Cantores Missae helping Japan

Click to enlarge

I am delighted to pass on this message from Charles Finch concerning a Concert for Japan which the Cantores Missae are holding on 11 May. I'm sorry that I won't be able to be there myself but I do recommend it to you.
Cantores Missae are pleased to announce a "CONCERT FOR JAPAN" on May 11th to raise money to help provide necessary aid for the victims of the recent earthquake and tidal wave in Japan. Please see the leaflet below for more details and how to book tickets.

In this concert we shall be marking the 400th anniversary of the death of Tomas Luis de Victoria, performing some of his best known motets and the Requiem Mass for 6 Voices. In addition the distinguished Japanese violinist, Yu Yasuraoka, will play solo works by J.S. Bach.

Only 200 seats are available for this concert and so early booking is recommended. For those unable to attend and who wish to make a donation, please follow this link below to the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund.

In order that the Japan Society can identify donations from this concert, please write "May 11" in the gift aid box. If you prefer to send a cheque made payable to "The Japan Society", please write "May 11" on the back, and post it to:

The Japan Society
Swire House
59 Buckingham Gate
London SW1E 6AJ

We hope that many people will wish to support a "CONCERT FOR JAPAN" or make a donation to help alleviate the suffering of so many thousands of men, women and children in Japan.

Finally, may I ask you to pass this message on to all your friends so that we can achieve our target of raising a minimum of £5,000 for this most worthy cause?

Monday, 4 April 2011

More news of the new English Missal



Pierpaolo Finaldi of the Catholic Truth Society gives us a look at the various features of the splendid new Missal that they are producing for the introduction of the new (corrected) ICEL translation.

The prices for the various editions have also been announced. They seem quite reasonable to me for such high quality books. You can see the details at the CTS Catholic Compass Blog. There will also be pre-publication discounts so I will be taking advantage of those.

Help Fr Byers get a decent chain saw


My good friend Fr George Byers has entered the eremitical life after a time of discernment with his spiritual director, his superior and the local Bishop. He will be dedicated to the sanctification of his fellow bishops and priests in the purgatory of this life and the next.

I met Fr Byers in Lourdes where he was a chaplain for a time. A few years ago I hauled him away from his coffee to accompany me to a Multicultural Youth Mass at Lourdes at which I took some nice photos and video footage.

In setting up the hermitage on the Blue Ridge Mountains, Fr Byers has found that his "suburbanite chainsaw geared to cutting little branches off cherry trees in the back garden" is not the proper grade for slicing up tree trunks for year-round heating and washing stuff.

So you can go buy him a decent chainsaw or, if you prefer, send some Mass stipends for the intentions of the Holy Father. Go over to the Holy Souls Hermitage. And please pray for Fr Byers in his new life of prayer and sacrifice.

H/T Mulier Fortis who has also hunted down the essential video which details the extent of the knowledge of most English people concerning the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Looking to the heavenly Jerusalem

2011 04 03_0041
Photo credit Mulier Fortis

Rose vestments, halfway through Lent - but what is happening in this antiphon? St Jerome's Vulgate has this for the text (Isaiah 66.10-11)
Lætamini cum Jerusalem et exsultate in ea, omnes qui diligitis eam; gaudete cum ea gaudio, universi qui lugetis super eam ut sugatis et repleamini ab ubere consolationis ejus
which is translated in the Douai Rheims as:
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all you that mourn for her. That you may suck, and be filled with the breasts of her consolations:
but todays' Introit reads:
Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.
which is translated:
Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.
The antiphons in the Mass are often different from the text in the Vulgate. This is one of those aspects of the traditional Mass that can send a shiver up your spine. The texts we are singing sometimes predate St Jerome (c.347-420) making us wonder just how far they go back in terms of the celebration of the Liturgy.

The part which interested me was the difference between "exsultate" and "conventum facite." The Greek word is panēgurisate. According to my Liddell and Scott, panēgurizo means "to keep or attend a public festival" (the second meaning is "to make a set speech in a public assembly, to deliver a panegyric" which is not ad rem here but interesting because people know the word "panegyric" in English.)

It seems that in this case, the old Roman text has an advantage: we are not simply celebrating the rejoicing of Jerusalem but the rejoicing of Jerusalem at a solemn festival. Applied to the Christian Liturgy, this means that we are celebrating here and now the joy of being in the presence of the solemn festival of the heavenly Jerusalem under the veil of signs and symbols. We are also looking forward to the day when we will celebrate in the heavenly Jerusalem in that divine Liturgy where we will see God face to face.

This is explicitly prophesied in Isaiah 66.22 where the prophet speaks of the new heavens and the new earth. The theme is taken up by St John in the vision he received on the island of Patmos (which I had the joy of visiting some years ago.)
I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone: and the sea is now no more. And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men: and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people: and God himself with them shall be their God. (Rev 21.1-3)
All of which goes to show that we should keep the traditions of our Liturgy, including rose vestments for the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Many thanks to Maria in my parish who made the new antependium which adorned the altar for this Sunday.
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