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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Invocation weekend

Mass with Archbishop Antonio Mennini Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain

Fr Langridge has sent me news of the Invocation 2011 vocations discernment conference that was held at St Mary’s College, Oscott, Birmingham, on Trinity Sunday, June 19. The conference was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, bishops and priests from across the dioceses, together with event speakers and members of the seminary staff at the college.

The Nuncio celebrated the concluding Mass and wore the gold vestments and the pectoral cross used by Bishop William Bernard Ullathorne OSB, the first Bishop of Birmingham, who was installed in 1850 and who retired in 1888. The chalice used during the Mass was a gift from Pope Benedict to St Mary’s College, during his visit last year, when he addressed the Bishops of England, Scotland and Wales in the college chapel.

In his homily at the concluding Mass, His Excellency reminded the young people of the importance of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament:
I should like to commend to you the practice of Eucharistic Adoration which you have experienced during this weekend of discernment. Adoration draws us away from external distractions into a growing communion with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Encourage your friends to join you in this practice. In Eucharistic Adoration, whatever our personal circumstances, we are drawn out of ourselves towards the Sacramental Presence of Christ who came so that we might have life.
As the representative of the Holy Father in Britain, His Excellency also conveyed the Apostolic Blessing.

In his homily on the Saturday evening, Bishop Mark Davies said:
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict speaking in London’s Hyde Park on that unforgettable day last September said: “Dear young friends: only Jesus knows what “definite service” He has in mind for you. Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart … Ask our Lord what he has in mind for you!” And to do this he invited us to join him in meeting Christ, “present among us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar,” in those silent moments of adoration many of us will long remember. It is, of course, no coincidence that Christians celebrate marriage, ordination, the promises of consecrated life not in a hired hotel or a distant holiday resort but before the Altar, the place of the Eucharist where we could say with St. John: “This has taught us love – that he gave up his life for us; and we too ought to give up our lives for our brethren” (I John 3:16). For that is what every Christian vocation asks of us that we are drawn into the dynamic of the loving Sacrifice of Christ made present now for us in the Mass.
Along with the above photo, you can see more photos at the Flickr set of Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk. They provide a powerful witness that young people today are attracted not by an ephemeral attempt to mimic the culture of the world in an ecclesiastical setting but by the genuine and distinctive presentation of the Catholic faith with confidence, linked to the devout and reverent celebration of the Mass and of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

Let us pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life as the fruit of such excellent initiatives as Invocation.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Pope Benedict presses "Send"



Here is the video of the Holy Father with an iPad, launching the news.va site and sending a tweet. I hope he includes me in his "#FollowFriday" :-)

UPDATE: There are various other papal tweets at The Curt Jester. Here is an example.


Jeff also suggests that an infallible definition in 140 characters is "doable".

A rogue instruction in the new people’s cards for Mass


Earlier this month I wrote about a new rubric that has been approved by the CDW for England and Wales concerning the reception of Holy Communion. This says that in England and Wales, Holy Communion is to be received standing but adds the important qualification “though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling.”

I also mentioned the unconvincing claim in “Celebrating the Mass” concerning the act of reverence before receiving Holy Communion:
"In England and Wales it is through this action of walking solemnly in procession that the faithful make their sign of reverence in preparation for receiving Communion."
This has now been superseded by the new rubric which states that when they receive Holy Communion standing, “it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the sacrament.” It is a solid bet that both of these sections of the new rubric were insisted upon by the Congregation for Divine Worship.

It is surprising then, to see that in the cards for the people that are published by the CTS, the following instruction is included:
“Communicants come forward in reverent procession: they receive Holy Communion standing.”
This is unsatisfactory because it omits both the instruction to bow in reverence, and the option to kneel, while implying that the "reverent procession" is a sufficient act of reverence before receiving Holy Communion.

I'm not blaming the CTS for this; I presume that they produced the card under the direction of the Liturgy Committee of the Bishops’ Conference. Was their advice given to the CTS before the final text of the rubric was received? Or is the Liturgy Committee simply going to ignore the qualifications that were mandated by the CDW because they don't like them? In either case, I think that the New People of God have the right to what has been given recognitio by the Holy See.

Interestingly this rogue instruction does not appear in the people’s cards produced by the Redemptorists or McCrimmon.

Pope Benedict tweets launch of news.va



Benedict XVI has sent his first tweet to announce the launch of the new Vatican website news.va.

The video above, from the indefatigably good Rome Reports points out that this is the first tweet made by a Pope. And there was I, thinking that Gregory XVI was on Twitter ;-) More to the point, they highlight that he chose to make his first published tweet in English.

Here's the tweet:
Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI

Canadian Bishops on SSA

An excellent new document on same-sex attraction may be of help to some young Catholics, especially in view of the “Pride” events that are taking place at this time of year.

The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has just published Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction. With kindly pastoral advice, the document does not shirk from Catholic doctrine but presents it in a balanced way with a view to fostering the spiritual life of young people with SSA.

There are some sensible distinctions in the section speaking of the homosexual condition itself:
To the extent that a same-sex attraction is not freely chosen, there is no personal culpability in having such an inclination. Nonetheless, when oriented toward genital activity, this inclination is “objectively disordered.” This does not mean that the person as a whole is somehow defective or “badly made,” or that he or she has in some way been rejected by God. Inclinations to homosexual acts in no way diminish the full human dignity or intrinsic worth of the person. For many people, same-sex attraction constitutes a trial. They therefore deserve to be approached by pastors with charity and prudence.
Answering another objection sometimes raised against Catholic teaching, the bishops say:
A person with homosexual inclinations is not called to a “loveless” life, but to live in the love and grace of Christ Jesus. He alone fulflls our human personalities and lifts them up to the Father. Such a life entails both self-giving and self-sacrifce, the marks of true love for God and one’s brothers and sisters.
One of the most important pastoral concerns of the Church should be to protect young people from the strident and aggressive gay culture which is prevalent in many cities. In fact, in their advice to Educators, the CCCB address this question:
We ask you to pay particular attention to guiding adolescents and young adults with same-sex attraction away from two specifc dangers. First, help them see themselves as persons with a God-given dignity and not merely as individuals with sexual inclinations and desires. Second, help them avoid involvement in a “gay culture” opposed to the Church’s teaching, with its often aggressive and immoral lifestyle.
I recommend this document for parents, priests and educators, all of whom are addressed specifically, and especially to young people themselves, whether they experience SSA or not, to see what the Catholic Church really teaches as opposed to the malicious distortion of that teaching which itself forms part of the stock in trade of the “gay culture.”

A cautionary tale of voiles and tea lights

Before you begin dealing with your in-tray or inbox this morning, I thought I should share with you a profound creative gathering experience from The Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley. They celebrated a wordless liturgy of Voiles and Tea Lights with music from whales (or Enya / Coldplay) and rituals featuring seaweed, rosebuds and hazelnuts. Not everything went smoothly but once the building had been evacuated, there was a shared experience of building a cairn. It is all very moving - do read the full account.

Archdruid Eileen has also shared the benefit of her experience after the blessing of cats service. (Hint: don't sprinkle them with blessed water.)

Monday, 27 June 2011

"Pride Weekend Mass" in London

In the combox, Oliver pointed me to a post at Reluctant Sinner about this weekend's Gay Pride Mass. (The author, Dylan Parry, is the one who came up with the idea of the guild of Catholic bloggers which is now online at The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma.) Dylan pretty well says what needs to be said, and properly refers to the relevant passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2357 – 2359) in which the moral teaching of the Church is accompanied by genuine pastoral concern.

The ministry of the Church should be directed towards helping homosexual people (along with everyone else) to “gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” It should not be involved with tacitly condoning the immoral ethos of “Gay Pride.”

Dylan has posted photos from various Pride events in different countries. I would rather avoid those here. The above graphic was taken from an advert placed in last year's year's Official Guide to Pride London. There are advertisements for fostering and adoption services, and for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority. Here is the one for the Metropolitan Police:


I once gave a Day of Recollection for Encourage but have not really heard much about them in recent years. I wonder if there are some young homosexual Catholics who might have a calling to revive this apostolate, get some events going, re-do the website, and generally encourage others in the following of Christ. It would, I think, help a lot of young people who have a homosexual inclination but do not wish to be associated with Gay Pride Masses and the like.

Carpet of Flowers at Five Feet Above Sea Level


Apologies for the content of this post not quite living up to the surreal title! Five Feet Above Sea Level (Occasional ramblings of your resident Oompa Loompa) is a blog by a 22 year old woman (kleine_katerina) who was received into the Church at Easter. Thanks to Amanda in the combox for the link.

The above photo is from the blogpost on The Carpet of Flowers at Arundel Cathedral. This is done every year at the Cathedral for the feast of Corpus Christi. A coach from my parish went this year and really enjoyed the day, so many thanks to all at Arundel Cathedral.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Confraternity of Papal Ninjas?


Conclusion to blogpost at defénde nos in proélio (from 9 year old): "Mummy, the Latin Mass is so much *simpler*".

I enjoyed reading that, and I am seriously wondering whether we should set up a new Confraternity of Papal Ninjas at Blackfen. I would promote this as authentic aggiornamento as envisaged by Blessed Pope John XXIII but in accord with the hermeneutic of continuity.

"Hostia" - new DVD on the Eucharist



Last March, I had an enjoyable trip to St Augustine's, Ramsgate to take part in the filming of a DVD about the Eucharist. The DVD has now been released by St Anthony Communications and I am very happy to have helped with it. The cliip above is the official trailer for the DVD.

The film is directed and produced by Christian Holden, and presents the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, both the real presence of Christ and the sacrifice of the Mass, in a way that is accessible without being patronising. One key theme that comes across powerfully is the way in which Our Lord’s sacrifice fulfils the sacrifices of the Old Testament. The presentation is visually attractive thanks to the use of sacred art to illustrate the various aspects under which the Eucharist is considered.

The DVD is 42 minutes long, but as it is helpfully divided into six “scenes” on the DVD, it can be shown for groups or classes at several sessions.

The speakers on the film are Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Andrew Pinsent, John Pontifex, Fr Nicholas Schofield, Hannah Vaughan-Spruce, Fr Bruno Witchalls, and myself.

The DVD is available from St Anthony Communications for £9.95. (After recent topical discussions, it may be worth stating neither I nor any of the other contributors derive any financial benefit from the sales of the DVD.)

"Western Mass" stopped Deo Gratias


Earlier this month, I advertised the petition to Cardinal Schönborn which was organised by Gloria TV, asking him not to allow the "Western Mass" which had been celebrated for some years, replete with abuses and desecration of the liturgy.

Thankfully, His Eminence has in fact now stopped the Mass from going ahead. There is a form at the original petition site to send a message to the Cardinal to thank him. I think that it is a good idea to do so, if only to offer a demonstration of the feelings of ordinary Catholics.

Mundabor speculates that the Cardinal may have been put under pressure from the Holy See. That may well be so. It is unlikely that any such pressure would have been brought to bear without the campaign organised by Gloria TV. There is a lesson here. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a YouTube (or Gloria TV) video is worth quite a lot more. You could write several thousand words to Bishops and Vatican dicasteries and get nowhere, but a short video clip buzzing round the Catholic blogosphere can be an economic way for the laity to exercise their right under canon law to manifest their concerns to their pastors.

Old Mississippi Country Club of Austria has announced that they have now turned to the Old Catholic Church for a celebrant. I think that some Old Catholics may be embarrassed by this.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Re-ordering/restoration with a pastoral intent

A good friend of mine who is a parish priest in Manchester, has sent me a copy of the proposal for the re-ordering of his Church together with some photos of work in progress and the completed project.

St Joseph’s is a thriving parish where baptisms, applications for places in the school and mass attendance have at least tripled. The Church which was arranged with a view to a small and declining congregation can, at times, barely accommodate the Sunday Mass congregation. The forward facing altar took up a significant part of the nave:

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and the tabernacle was on a standalone podium with a screen behind it, taking up more valuable space, essentially blocking off what was once the sanctuary:

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This is a photo of that stage in the works where the Parish Priest has nightmares and hopes that it will all turn out OK:

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It did!

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A lot of space in the Church has now been recovered for the congregation because the altar has once again become the focus of the main lines of sight onto the sanctuary, as the principal object in the Church for everyone. I think we could agree that the tabernacle has a more dignified setting:

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Details have not been neglected. For example, the sacrarium was disused and looking the worse for wear:

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It has now been repaired and restored to use:

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The Lady altar has been refurbished and has an altar that is moveable in case any older, visiting priests find it difficult to celebrate Mass ad orientem .

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and the Baptistery looks like a place where something important is going to happen:

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In this parish, a minority of the congregation have English as a first language and therefore the modern liturgical focus on wordiness rather misses the point. The new arrangement of the Church provides a much greater visual impact within the Sacred Liturgy. The provision of altar rails makes it easier for families with young children at crowded Masses to come for Holy Communion with appropriate dignity and reverence. (Young families are a significant part of this parish.)

The parish priest presented his proposals for re-ordering (should we not rather call it restoration?) not only on liturgical grounds but with reference to the needs of a growing, and ethnically very diverse parish in an inner city area.

Sneak preview of news.va


The bollettino today announces a press conference that will take place on Monday to present the new Vatican portal news.va. Checking out the URL, I find that there is now a "sneak preview." There is not a lot to see, but it is obvious that this site will be much more attractive than the vatican.va site with its parchment background and confusing navigation, and useless search engine and missing documents, and homepage page that has to be scrolled sideways, and Summorum Pontificum only in Hungarian and Latin ... [stop whingeing. ED.]

The new site is not a replacement for the official site but a new portal for news and comment. Let us pray to St Isidore for good success when it goes live on Wednesday.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

"Why Catholics are Right" by Michael Coren


This is a good book to read on the tube if you want to get into discussions with people. You have to keep the dust jacket on and hold it up in front of your face so that people can see the title; especially if they are reading The God Delusion or something by Philip Pullman or Christopher Hitchens.

I have said before that in England, apologetics needs to be concerned much more with the objections of secularists than with proving the Catholic faith from the bible against protestants. The latter task is occasionally necessary when we meet evangelists on the street, but the far more important task is to have an answer at your fingertips on questions such as Galileo, the Inquisition, the Crusades, Pope Pius XII and the holocaust, the pro-life question, AIDS and condoms, and the clergy abuse scandal.

Michael Coren deals with all these subjects in a robust and engaging manner. On the child abuse question, he is properly respectful of those who have suffered while pointing out the imbalance in the media coverage of the Catholic Church compared to the coverage of other organisations where abuse has occurred and much less has been done to ensure that such crimes are prevented in the future.

The book is well written for ordinary people who may not have followed these topics on the blogs or in the Catholic press. Coren is a seasoned journalist and knows how to write: his presentation is comprehensive but easy to read. I recommend it both to Catholics and as a book for Catholics to give to their friends to help them understand that there is another side to the story apart from the one that they have been fed by the mainstream media.

Available on Amazon.co.uk or on Amazon.com.

Dominican vocations video



This video showing something of the life and work of the Dominicans was produced by Fra Lawrence Lew OP. It is partly intended to promote vocations but also gives a good summary of the Dominican life. Materials such as these help us all: we do not have to be envious of the vocations of others. As a secular priest, I am heartened by the growing life of the English Province of the Dominicans since it contributes much to the life of the Church in our country.

For more information about the English Province of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), see: english.op.org

Yet another blogging parishioner

I'm rather proud of the number of Catholic bloggers in my parish. Another one has now surfaced: defénde nos in proélio. Here's the blurb:
Occasional dispatches from the front line of spiritual battle. A Catholic blog. Postings often conceived in the garden, at the playground or at the kitchen sink and hastily typed out far too late at night after putting the children to bed.

Blog started on the Feast of The Divine Mercy 2011, the day of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. Blessed Pope John Paul II - Ora Pro Nobis!
In fact, the (homeschooling) family alternates between Blackfen and Languedoc. I look forward to their return.

Michael Voris is coming to London


Over at Smeaton's Corner, Paul has posted news of the visit of Michael Voris to London. The title of the talk is "Living the Catholic faith radically" and the venue is Regent Hall on Oxford Street. It will be on Wed 24 August at 7pm. Tickets are £5, available from Smeaton's Corner or by emailing voristalklondon@gmail.com.

I'm annoyed that I'll be away on holiday on the day that he is coming: I would very much have liked to hear Michael Voris speak live, and to meet him.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ditch the wedding planner?

There has been a fuss over the past couple of days about an increase in the fee for a wedding in the Anglican Church. Apparently it has increased from £284 to £425. Considering that the average spend on a wedding is in the region of £20,000, it seems a bit churlish to complain about the rise. To put it in perspective, the new fee is roughly what it costs to hire the wedding car. Another approach would be for the C of E to say that they would accept the same as the fee charged by the photographer – normally somewhere between £750 and £1500.

In the Daily Telegraph's report we are told that wedding planners have warned that the changes could force couples to cut their guest list and go without flowers to find the extra money. Yes – wedding planners – another unnecessary expense perhaps?

My own approach is to pass on the fees for the registration of the wedding (£40), the organist (£100-130) and leave people to give a donation. (A historic Catholic Church might need to charge a fee for using the Church, especially if people regularly come from outside the parish just because the Church is good for photographs.) I always tell people that they can get married here for the same cost as in the Register Office if they can’t afford anything more, or just want a quiet wedding: I want people to get married. In fact, most people’s expenses on things like the photographer, the car, the reception (and sometimes the “wedding planner”) dwarf anything they have to pay to the Church, Catholic or Anglican.

If St John Fisher and St Thomas More were bloggers


What kind of bloggers would St John Fisher and St Thomas More have been? Both would surely have written blogs had the opportunity been around. St Thomas More could have engaged in sharp controversy in his combox, and a blog would have been the perfect vehicle for St John Fisher’s monumental line-by-line refutation of Oecalompadius on the doctrine of the Eucharist. Both would have used their blogs to denounce scandals in the Church, especially among the clergy. The titles for their blogs? My quick guess would be "Meeting Merrily" and "The Fort is Betrayed" though those might be posthumous titles in truth.

St Thomas More would have been one for a mixed blog of serious pieces (with expert legal knowledge), jokes, and friendly advice, along with quick fire refutations of heresy. St John Fisher would have had one of those blogs without pictures, but with sensible and grave expositions of the scriptures and the Catholic faith that people feel guilty about when they don’t read it carefully enough. Mind you, he would also engage with heresy – the sheer weight of his scholarship would be devastating in any online debate. Above you can see his profile picture (I don't think he would have bothered with Facebook, but perhaps St Thomas More would.)

St John Fisher is my favourite of the two, mainly because of his priestly example, though I do love St Thomas More as well. In the internet popularity stakes, St John Fisher is the underdog. A search on Google (blogs) just now threw up 14,200 results for St Thomas More and 3,800 for St John Fisher. To be honest, I think this is an improvement on the balance when I was younger. It seemed that everyone had heard of St Thomas More but nobody had heard about St John Fisher. Perhaps the Catholic blogosphere is slowly closing the gap :-)

Happy feast day! St John Fisher and St Thomas More pray for us.

For some of the standard stories and quotations, here are some other posts that I have written on St John Fisher:

Feast of St John Fisher
Hymn to St John Fisher
St John Fisher's cell
Cardinals' badge of honour
Titular Church of Cardinal Fisher

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

St Norbert's monition to priests


Thrown from his horse in a storm, St Norbert asked "Lord, what do you want me to do?" He was told "Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it." He spent the rest of his life in prayer and penance, and founded the Norbertines (Premonstratensians.) He wrote this on the priesthood:
O Priest, who are you?
You are not yourself because you are God
You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ.
You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church.
You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man.
You are not from yourself because you are nothing.
What then are you? Nothing and everything.
O Priest!
Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you:
"He saved others, himself he cannot save!"
(Just to make it clear - the second line does not mean that the priest should be given divine honour or anything ridiculous like that. It means that when the priest ministers the sacraments or preaches in faithfulness to the Church, God works through him and he should not take credit for it personally.)

With compliments to the website of the Norbertine Priory of St Philip, Chelmsford which I hope to visit before too long.

Fr Corapi: reflections from a priestly point of view

Fr Corapi has published another defence of himself, including a further attack on his accuser, the process by which he was being investigated, and the people conducting it. I think most priest bloggers will be profoundly disturbed by all of this, and, if sensible, will make a serious examination of conscience.

We priests start out blogging for the sake of the Kingdom, for the Church, and to help others to a deeper knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. We have different ways of doing that: some priests simply blog their sermons and I find that edifying. Others post about some particular area of interest or expertise. That is also edifying. Still others, like me, try to put in a mixture of comment, entertainment (funny YouTube videos and the like) and support for others (reviewing their books, advertising their events, putting up photos of reverently celebrated Masses and so on.) That is not quite so edifying but has a greater reach.

People are hungry for sound teaching; if they consider that I, or another priest blogger is giving that, then we receive a great deal of praise, appreciation and, let's be frank, love in return. The danger is that the love can become debased into hero-worship and lead to a sort of minor celebrity status. This is a very serious danger for a priest. Some time ago, when the hits started picking up on this blog, I made a resolution that whenever anyone tells me that they read my blog, I say "Thank you." It is a pathetically small thing but it does help to remind me that I should also be thankful for the grace of God if the blog has done any good to anyone, and that I should think carefully about what I post in case it does harm.

Considering that priests, along with the rest of the human race, are damaged by original sin and their own personal sins, "celebrity status" is also a danger for the "fans." When a parish priest falls, there are always parishioners who insist that "he was the best priest we ever had." When a "celebrity priest" announces that he is leaving active ministry, the number of the confused and hurt is likely to be several orders of magnitude higher. (I intend to write something more for their sake too.)

As priests,we are subject to the waking nightmare that someone will make a false allegation against us, and we will be out on administrative leave forthwith. Given the damage done by priests, we just need to accept that this will be a penance we have to do for the good of the whole Church. The process can seem unjust and a priest can feel he has been hung out to dry, thrown under a bus, fed to the crows or whatever; but we all know why this has to happen. I'm sure that some details in the process need to be corrected for the sake of justice but it is essentially the right thing for the Church to do.

I am not speaking purely theoretically here. Recently I met a good priest, an old friend whom I had not seen for some years. He told me that he had been put on leave because of a malicious allegation. After seven months it had just been proved to be false. When Father spoke of his joy at being able to wear a clerical collar again, it was hard not to be moved to tears.

So to a certain extent, priests will understand Fr Corapi's action in throwing over ecclesiastical discipline and leaving the priesthood. It's wrong, but we can understand. It is more difficult to understand the business of announcing this all on the internet as though it were a triumphant act of defiance. I am reminded of the line in the 1965 film, The Hill, from Regimental Sergeant Wilson (Harry Edwards): "We're not celebratin' a glorious victory 'ere. We're patchin' up a bloody disaster."

One priestly reaction is to remember that "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet 5.8) and to plead for prayers for priests in general and Fr Corapi in particular. Fr Z has made this plea with eloquence and true charity. I agree with him, have been praying for Fr Corapi and urge you to do the same. At the same time, there is no alternative but to say that it is objectively wrong for him to leave his order and to leave active ministry definitively, and wrong for him to seek support for this decision by broadcasting on the internet. Some good lay bloggers have analysed his speeches and I cannot disagree with what has been written by Mark SheaElizabeth Scalia, and Jimmy Akin to give just three examples.

I have mentioned another important lesson for priests, especially priests who are bloggers or otherwise well-known. We need to examine our conscience seriously and regularly, and put St Charles Borromeo's motto Humilitas somewhere prominent so that we can reflect on it often. In our situation, humility is not just a pious aspiration, it is a matter of spiritual life or death.

Family building a shrine in their back garden



Taylor Marshall at Canterbury Tales posted this video of How to Build a Backyard Catholic Shrine with pictures of his family. One or two Catholic families I know might follow up on this. (In England we call it the back garden.)

Monday, 20 June 2011

God's Chihuahuas



Matt and Pat Archbold of Creative Minority Report respond to Fr Corapi's video where he announces that he is devoutly leaving the priesthood. Savage perhaps, but frankly, after a video like the one he posted the other day, he's going to have to roll with the punches.

The New Vatican Website Redesign. Oh dear!


I had a window broken recently: I don't know who did it and charitably presume it was some kids playing and there was some sort of accident. These things happen. I'm glad they don't happen too often in my place since I have four buildings to look after.

The glaziers came round this afternoon, popped out the beading, replaced the double-glazed unit, and secured the beading again with what I think was a polythene hammer. It was fascinating to see two skilled workmen polishing off the job with ease in about five minutes. There is a mutual respect, I find, between myself and skilled workers. I don't tell them how to fix windows, roofs, plumbing, wiring, tarmac, or soakaways. Likewise, they don't tell me how to say Mass, baptise babies or conduct weddings.

Which brings me to the Vatican website. Matthew Warner is very polite in his criticism of the new design. I will therefore also try to refrain from any intemperate comments. Except "Dayum!"

If I need something doing in the parish, I ask around after Mass or go over to the parish club and find out if there is someone skilled in the particular trade or profession. The Vatican has a massively larger pool of people to call on. I know that there are hundreds of thousands of pages on the site - but computers are good at automating things, no? Even lots and lots of things all in one go. There are good Catholic people out there who would kill to give the site a proper makeover.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

CCC Colloquium

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (British Province of St Gregory the Great) has announced a Colloquium to be held from 27-28 October this year at the Oratory School, Reading.

Speakers are Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, Mgr. Andrew Wadsworth (Director of ICEL) and Edmund Adamus (Director of Pastoral Affairs, Westminster). The cost is £30 (includes all meals, refreshments and overnight accommodation.) You can download a form which enables you to join the Confraternity (if you agree with its objects) and to book for the Colloquium.

I shall be going and I look forward very much both to the lectures and to the company of fellow clergy.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

North Cheam hits the headlines


Damian Thompson has been unravelling the mystery of bloggerists and tweeters who have been involved in a byzantine plot, posting information and counter-information about Jacob Rees-Mogg, conservative MP for North Somerset. See: Updated: Jacob Rees-Mogg denies allegations of meeting wife in frozen fish department of Sainsbury's, Cheam

My personal interest in the story comes in with the question of the location of the Sainsbury's and the mention of North Cheam. I am proud to say that I was in fact born in North Cheam - at 139 Henley Avenue to be precise, at 9.30am on 1 July 1958. Along with G K Chesterton, I assert this information
"Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment or private judgment..."
I was moved to Croydon, along with my older brother and sisters, at about the age of one, so I am unable to comment on the location of shops at the time, though I was delighted to discover the above photo which shows the North Cheam Cross Roads shortly after I was translated.

In Rome, the Gregorian University and other bodies had us fill in forms which routinely  asked for "Luogo di nascita" (place of birth.) I always used to put down "Cheam Septemtrionalis."

Congratulations to Maryvale

Congratulations to the Maryvale Institute which is now a Higher Institute of Religious Science. There is a full report at Independent Catholic News. The Institute is linked to the Faculté de Notre Dame at l’Ecole Cathédrale in Paris.

This new status means that students of Maryvale can gain the ecclesiastical degrees of Baccalaureate and Licence. Archbishop Longley said:
"The Maryvale Institute has demonstrated both the quality of the courses now recognized by the Holy See through the École Cathêdrąle, and its faithfulness to conciliar and papal teaching. This recognition strengthens the confidence already felt by many in what Maryvale offers widely within and beyond the Catholic Church."
I have many friends who have studied at Maryvale over the years and I know that many readers have benefited from the excellent courses offered there. They have been working for some time to achieve this status in order that their students can gain pontifical degrees. It is great to hear that this hard work has borne fruit.

Dalai Lama and the failed pizza joke



There really are layers of humour in this clip. And the joke is a good one too.

H/T The Church Mouse

Friday, 17 June 2011

Challenges for the Caritas Network

In The Catholic Thing today, Matt Hanley analyses some of the problems that bedevil Catholic aid agancies, and the path to a long-term solution. (See: Challenges for the Caritas Network.)

He is right to say that Pope Benedict's attempts to reform the Caritas network are revolutionary, and to point out that such a reform will not only be of pastoral and spiritual value but also of practical advantage in bringing back on board Catholic donors who are currently uncertain about giving to agencies that tend to act in the same way as secular NGOs.

Peers complain about BBC death-as-entertainment programme


Four peers from Care Not Killing have accused the BBC of campaigning for assisted suicide.

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Lord Alton of Liverpool and Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, have written to Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC and to Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, to complain about the recent programme "Choosing to Die" which showed the dying moments of a man who had travelled to the Dignitas "clinic" in Switzerland.

The peers pointed out that the BBC was running an orchestrated campaign in favour of assisted suicide. They wrote:
Setting aside our repugnance that the death of a patient with motor neurone disease should be turned into a form of voyeuristic entertainment, the BBC has a duty to provide balanced debate.
CNK also warns of the danger of copycat suicides and quotes the World Health Organisation recommendations to media professionals, most of which are contravened by the BBC programme.

Just so that you know: the Dignitas "clinic" is a hotel room or rented accommodation somewhere (they have to move quite often) where the person is given a lethal dose of barbiturates. The one who provides "assistance" does not have to be a doctor. In 2008, The Times reported on the warning issued by the Waste Disposal, Water and Energy Department to Dignitas about the human remains in Lake Zurich. To learn more about Dignitas, see the article by Peter Saunders: Twenty facts we did not learn from Terry Pratchett’s BBC ‘documentary’ on assisted suicide in Europe. An example is the fact that on one occasion, the relocation of the "clinic" was occasioned by residents encountering body bags in the lifts. (That's a problem people often forget about: What do you do with the bodies?) In some cases, the relatives arrange a funeral. In other cases, Dignitas is left to get on with things.

Peter Saunders comes in for criticism in the combox for daring to use the N word. In fact, he did mention the Nazi holocaust in order to point out that Leo Alexander, a psychiatrist who gave evidence at Nuremberg in 1949 said:
‘its beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans.’
I wrote about a important essay by Malcolm Muggeridge in which he made much the same point: "The life thou gavest, Lord, we've ended".

Apropos of nothing at all, did you know that the slogan for the Dignitas "clinic" is Menschenwürdig Leben - Menschenwürdig Sterben. It has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?.

(BTW the Matt cartoon for Wednesday in the Daily Telegraph was very good.)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Daily Mail poll on BBC's Dignitas advert

Today, in an article in the Daily Mail about BBC's Dignitas death programme, there is a poll on the question "Was the BBC right to screen an assisted suicide?"

This is just a quick heads-up for the poll which is only run for a day. Tomorrow I'll write some more about the Dignitas "clinic."

Can this desecration be allowed to continue?



The short video from Gloria TV explains things adequately, I think. Gloria TV has organised a Stop Vienna Western Mass 2011 petition, addressed to Cardinal Schönborn who was explictly thanked in the homily last year for allowing it.

I encourage you to sign the petition now. If you write a blog, you could also encourage your own readers to sign.

Intolerant PC mob as entertainment



The Christian Institute reports on the BBC Question time debate on the sexualisation of children. (H/T SPUC) It was extraordinary to hear Peter Hitchens jeered at by many in the audience when he said that there was a link between explicit sex education and the sexualisation of children. I was left wondering: what they do think? Sex education doesn't sexualise children? There hasn't been an increase in sexually transmitted diseases? Underage sex has really been reduced by sex education?

Peter Hitchens comments further on his own blog:
As for sex education, much of it is aimed at overcoming the inhibitions of pupils about what many of them reasonably regard as private or embarrassing matters (the use of joke words for body parts in class, etc). It is perfectly reasonable to describe this as taking away the innocence of those exposed to it. As I have said before, if any adult apart from a teacher said these things and illustrated these acts in front of our children, mobs of News of the World readers would be breaking their windows and demanding they be sent to jail forever. As it is, they’re paid to do it by the taxpayer.
Hitchens also spoke on other topics in a way that displeased the mob. I did not see the programme itself: I don't think that I could bear to watch more than five minutes of a programme like this. Hitchens articulates it well:
The howling intolerance of a vocal section of the audience (and the licence given to members of that audience to barrack me and interrupt me) shows how any defiance of current orthodoxy is now greeted not with argument but with rage.

The Vernacular Curate: About Blogging

Bloggers like to read posts about blogging. The Vernacular Curate (a new addition to the Ecumenical section of the blogroll) has written a number of sensible pieces which he has gathered on a page: About Blogging.

The vernacular curate is Fr David Cloake, a member of the team at the Anglican Parish of Aylesbury with Beirton and Hulcott. He is a married man with two children and writes on a variety of topics, including some good pieces on fatherhood. As an example, see Absent Fathers which explains why he does not shop at Iceland.

Mary's Dowry Productions: new blog


Mary's Dowry Productions produces devotional DVDs, especially about the lives of the Saints. The new website integrates a blog with static pages with information and links to the various products. The blog has an RSS feed that is picked up by Google reader: hence the addition to the blogroll.

The old  website and blog are still online so that your links do not get broken, but if you have a link in the blogroll, it would be good to change it to the new site.

The latest project is a DVD on St Francis of Assisi which is set to be released soon. I look forward to that.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Immaculate Heart of Mary Pro-Life Prayer Vigil

40 Days for Life are organising another Pro-Life Prayer Vigil and I am happy to pass on the details. You may also like to see the response to Clare Murphy's article in the Guardian.


Immaculate Heart of Mary Pro-Life Prayer Vigil
Saturday 2nd July 2011 8.30am-1pm

A special grace: Did you know that at our first vigil on 28th May there was one confirmed mother who rejected aborting her child, right on the doorstep of an abortion facility. We witnessed this and prayed even harder. God has not stopped being good. An amazing 13 pregnant mothers have done the same thing, in less than two weeks. This hasn’t happened before on such a scale, and it began the day of our first vigil. Our pregnancy centre has been kept very busy recently.

What: Saturday 2nd July is the day we celebrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We will gather in Bedford Square to offer prayers of consecration and reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying especially for unborn children, their parents, and abortion employees. We will also have various readings, hymns, and other devotions.

Where: Bedford Square, London, WC1B (same location as previous vigils). Nearest tube station is Goodge Street (Tottenham Court Road station is closer but closed). Nearest train station is Charing Cross. You can get any bus going to Tottenham Court Road or Gower Street.

When: Saturday 2nd July 2011.

Time: 8.30am-1pm.

Contact: Daniel Blackman - daniel-40days@hotmail.co.uk

“God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart”
– Our Lady of Fatima

"Can I be your friend?" video



This is quite funny, though creepy at times (eg the "following" bit.) It is an advert for a Two Boys, a new opera at the ENO about the dangers of living our lives online, "a cautionary tale of the dark side of the internet."

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The war on clichés - raising awareness for bloggers

pen(The "raising awareness" bit was a joke.) John Rentoul in the Independent has a list of clichés that are best avoided ("banned" in his article.) I admit to having used one or two of them and will try to do better. Sometimes these phrases might be used in jest such as "a raft of measures" which I think is a funny way to describe a list of things that people are intending to do to pretend that they are solving a problem.

Is it better to read blogs or books? This is a futile discussion since people can read and write both. Many bloggers become better writers simply because they write so much: I am sure that my own writing has improved over the past few years. Bloggers are also instantly punished in their comment boxes for mistakes in spelling and grammar (there are not so many pedants in punctuation.)

If you write regularly, it is worth taking the time occasionally to consult some guides to good, clear English. The list of brief rules set out by George Orwell is still valuable:
  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
So now let us put our noses to the grindstone, our shoulders to the wheel, develop a more vibrant community that is fit for purpose, create a sense of going forward, so that our quantum leap is leveraged exponentially on a daily basis that a step change be made possible for real people in the real world, forward planning be rolled out and the can be kicked down the road. And yet, and yet ...

Photo credit: gwilmore

Jet Skis, smartphones, and Pentecost


In parishes hereabouts, we have outings to Aylesford, to Lourdes, Walsingham, and occasionally something more adventurous like the Festival of Flowers at Arundel Cathedral. To be fair, there is also football, golf, and the odd evening of watching the boxing.

St Edward's, Shaftesbury, is more adventurous. They have a parish Jet Ski outing in which the Parish Priest, my good friend Fr Dylan James, also gets to ride on a Jet Ski (above.) Fr Dylan is physically fit for this, since he regularly goes out running in the hills in Dorset, covering 14 miles in a recent endeavour.

Fr Dylan is also a respected Doctor of Moral Theology and writes a blog of his (excellent) sermons: a good and priestly thing to do. You might enjoy his latest on smartphones and Pentecost.

Laurel and Hardy on gay marriage



[UPDATE] As you can see, the video has now been removed because of a copyright claim. There are many Laurel and Hardy clips posted on YouTube that don't seem to have had any problems. Funny that!

[UPDATE 2] Thanks to a commenter for pointing me to another upload ;-)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Communion standing, no new altar rails in Westminster

The Congregation for Divine Worship has recently given its recognitio to a request from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to have a norm inserted into the England and Wales edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) regarding the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful. The text reads as follows:
"In the Dioceses of England and Wales Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the sacrament."
For the life of me, I cannot see what good this new clause is supposed to do, though I can predict a consequence that may not have been intended. With the publication of this norm it will be clearly set down in black and white for England and Wales that people may kneel for Holy Communion if they wish to do so.

(Many of us already knew that, of course: the CDW has responded to cases in the USA, saying that if people  kneel down, they must not be refused Holy Communion for that reason, despite the US Bishops' general norm of standing.)

In the GIRM (n.160) it is stated that when the faithful receive Holy Communion standing, they should make "an appropriate sign of reverence." Hence the recommendation in the new norm that they should bow. It is interesting that this new norm contradicts the official CBCEW "Pastoral Guide" Celebrating the Mass which spoke about the "Communion procession" and said (with a reference to GIRM n.160):
"In England and Wales it is through this action of walking solemnly in procession that the faithful make their sign of reverence in preparation for receiving Communion." (n.209)
I guess the CDW just wouldn't buy that.

In view of the approval of this new norm, the Archbishop's Council in Westminster has decided that it can see no place for the re-introduction of altar rails in the Diocese, and has informed the Historic Churches Committee of this decision.

Tongue-in-cheek, I suggest that this contravenes accessibility provision. The norm says that people may choose to kneel, but they may have difficulty doing so without something to lean on. If there are no altar rails, would they be within their rights to demand that the altar server go and fetch a prie-dieu? (That was a joke - please don't do that.)

In case it needs to be spelt out to anyone, Universae Ecclesiae n.28 means that this new norm does not apply to celebrations of Mass in the usus antiquior. At such Masses, communicants should kneel unless they are physically unable to do so. In Churches without existing altar rails, it seems that the "shifting the front bench forward" strategy is set to be needed for the next few years.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Fr Z & Fr Finigan caught red-handed


The New Statesman "Staggers" blog has a list of the top ten Christian blogs. Fr Z is second and I am third. How on earth did we get into the New Statesman for heaven's sake! It's slightly scary since Damian Thompson has only recently lambasted Archbishop Rowan Williams for being Guest Editor.

Tomorrow, I shall ask the Mulier Fortis if I can borrow Miaowrini so that we can deal with the Church Mouse who is number 1 apparently.

This blogging thing does get quite bonkers at times. I'm going to bed.

Losing a sense of proportion?

Fr Ray Blake has written a good post on how "And also with you" damages us. Meanwhile there is some really quite crazy reaction going on in Ireland. Recently, a group of Irish priests had a woman theologian along to say how the new translation was wrong and that refusing to use it would be like passive resistance to oppressive regimes. I wonder what grandma would think of this comparison: having hid in the coal hole from the Black 'n Tans, would she approve of comparing a more accurate translation of the Mass with her experience?

In the ensuing discussion (which, as we hear, had a turn out of even more than 25 people):
Words and phrases such as “dominance,” “control,” “incompetence,” “bullying,” “lack of courage” and “fascism” were used by many of the speakers.
We are not told how the words were used by the speakers but it is a fair bet that a hysterical description of the implementation of the new translation was involved somewhere along the way.

Another speaker, a priest, asked various rhetorical questions, the funniest of which was:
If a priest feels that it is impossible for him to intelligently read a prayer with 60 or more words per sentence, what is he supposed to do?
Answers on a postcard please (or indeed in the comments box - but no swearing.)

Read the full account at Independent Catholic News. It is so completely barmy it is entertaining. On the downside, though, the keynote speaker identified four moments in the life of the Church since Vatican II in which she thought that the Church had erred and we should campaign for a copernican revolution.
The first was the way that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae was implemented and, especially, the treatment which was meted out to those who raised questions about it. The second was the refusal of the Catholic Church in Ireland and right around the world, to face up to the clerical abuse scandals in the 1970s and the 1980s. The third moment she highlighted was the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II – Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in which he stated that women could not be ordained to the priesthood. The fourth moment was the imposition of translation of the new Missal without adequate consultation.
To say that this lacks a sense of proportion (new translation on a par with child abuse?) really doesn't quite address the lack of judgement shown in this blind determination to trash the new translation.

On a lighter note: the other day I was at a meeting where a brother priest, an old friend (and someone with whom, let us say, I might not see eye-to-eye on all liturgical and theological matters) made fun of the new translation by talking about "And with your ghost."

I kicked myself afterwards for not responding "NO: it should be 'And with THY ghost.'"

"Poor Banished Children" - a great read



Every now and again I receive a book which I genuinely cannot put down. Fiorella de Maria's latest, Poor Banished Children was one. It tells of a girl ostracised by her superstitious family, adopted by a kindly and learned priest (she learns to speak Latin), and trying her vocation as an anchorite. She is kidnapped and enslaved by Barbary pirates and finally washes up dying on the coast of England. Threaded throughout the plot is a series of extracts from her general confession.

Poor Banished Children is written with a lively pace and some challenging twists. The characters take on a life of their own and one can easily form a mental picture - this could be made a stirring film. From a Catholic point of view, the priests are shown as human beings with dilemmas and faults but as people one can be in sympathy with. The villains are odious but understandable and the central character, Warda, is about as powerful a woman as you could get. Heartily recommended for your holiday reading with the warning that if you get it when you are not on holiday, you may find, as I did, that you have to catch up on some work after being absorbed by it.

Fiorella won the National Book Prize of Malta for her novel The Cassandra Curse. This one is even better. I am flattered to be included in the acknowledgements but I really did not contribute much.

Poor Banished Children" which is published by Ignatius Press and distributed in England by Gracewing.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Distributed Denial of Stupidity bearing fruit


Mgr Pozzo, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has given an extensive interview to Nouvelles de France, published today, in which he speaks of the discussions between the Holy See and representatives of the Society of St Pius X.

Full text in French: Entretien avec Mgr Pozzo, Secrétaire de la Commission pontificale Ecclesia Dei
Extract translated into English at Rorate Caeli: IMPORTANT. Pozzo speaks

In answer to a question about the principal subjects that are under confidential discussion, Mgr Pozzo says:
The themes under discussion are known: primacy and episcopal collegiality; relations between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic Christian confessions; religious liberty; the Missal of Paul VI. At the end of the talks, the results of the discussions will be submitted to the respective authorized levels for an overall evaluation.
I like the idea that the Secretary of Ecclesia Dei would so easily speak of themes "that are known." This is honest and sensible: we do all know the principal points under discussion, and Catholic blogs have helped, I think, in a sort of Distributed Denial of Stupidity by focussing on the real doctrinal questions. Some will offer various possibilities for resolving the questions, others will maintain that they are not capable of resolution. That is the frank discussion that needs to take place with good information driving out bad, reasonable people studying the evidence, and intelligent people suggesting conclusions and ways forward.

Mgr Pozzo deftly introduces a topic that is obviously dear to this blog [my translation]:
It does not seem conceivable that it would be possible to reconsider the Second Vatican Council. So where can these discussions lead? To a better understanding of it?

It is a question of clarifying points that detail the exact meaning of the teaching of the Council. This is what the Holy Father started to do on December 22, 2005, by understanding the Council within a hermeneutic of renewal in continuity. Nevertheless, there are certain objections of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X that do make sense, because there has been an interpretation of rupture. The objective is to show that it is necessary to interpret the Council in the continuity of the Tradition of the Church.
He is speaking of the hermeneutic of continuity in terms of keeping true to the tradition of the Church. Some traditionalists have opposed the idea of the hermeneutic of continuity as a way of insisting that all the reforms and abuses that have taken place since Vatican II must be regarded as "traditional" in some way.

That is what I would characterise as the "glass half empty" version of the hermeneutic of continuity. The "glass half full" version is to see the hermeneutic of continuity as a means of recovering the tradition of the Church which is a fundamental criterion for interpreting the text of Vatican II, and for judging the practical reforms that have happened since then.

(In case anyone is thinking of posting pedantic comments about the need to insert the words "reform" or "renewal" in the expression "hermeneutic of continuity", let me point out that those two words also need to be understood properly, as in getting us back to our roots in doctrine and liturgy, and making all that new again. Furthermore, the Holy Father himself has more than once used the abbreviated version given in this blog's title.)

Moldovan dance ensemble



Doina Buzut who presents the news on Gloria TV posted this video on Facebook yesterday. It shows
the National Academic Folk Dance Ensemble of Moldova "JOC". I enjoyed it and thought that it might provide a cheerful start to the day. [SSPX readers please note - it has nothing to do with that JOC ;-) ]

In the comments under the FB post, there is this exchange in response to Cannoli who enquired whether all Moldovan women are so pretty:
Doina Buzut Cannoli. All Moldavian women are very good looking. When God was distributing Gifts to the men of different nations, the Moldavian Man came late, because he was working in the field. God told the Moldavian: "You are late! I have no Gifts left". After a moment of thinking, God added: " I will give you a beautiful and patient Woman." This is where from come the beautiful women of Moldova :o)
A respondent From what a certain priest tells me of Moldovan men, I expect he came late because he'd fallen asleep under a tree ...
Doina Buzut If the priest is from Moldova, then "Quidquid recipitur per modum recipientis recipitur." :o)
LOL. I am reminded of the exclamation of Captain Bertorelli in 'Allo 'Allo when confronted by Helga: "Brains and beauty - what a combinaaaation!"

Archbishop of Glasgow on the usus antiquior

In 2007, Fr Z wrote about the response of Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. (Glaswegian Archbishop’s hostility toward the Motu Proprio) In the light of that response, it is perhaps to be expected that His Grace might be less than enthusiastic about the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae.

Damian Thompson has written about a recent Ad Clerum letter from Archbishop Conti: Archbishop Conti tells clergy: do not promote the Extraordinary Form of the Mass – there is 'no call for it'. Having read through the Ad Clerum carefully several times (someone sent me a photocopy) I would simply add a couple of points to Damian's analysis.

Strictly speaking, it would be just about possible to defend the position that Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae do not explicitly offer any requirement or encouragement to promote the usus antiquior (though I, and many others, would defend the thesis that they do.) What cannot be denied is that both documents certainly encourage and require us to give it due honour:
"On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honour." (Universae Ecclesiae n.6. Cf Summorum Pontificum art.1)
Pope Benedict expressed his mind clearly in his explanatory letter to the Bishops of the world:
"There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."
Therefore, with the deepest respect, I disagree with His Grace when he refers to the older form of the Mass as "mysterious" in opposition to genuine "mystery." That would mean that it was harmful; moreover it would mean that there was a radical contradiction between the two uses. Does it not also fall short of maintaining the forma extraordinaria with appropriate honour to imply that it has "extravagant gestures"?

I wonder why it should be necessary to warn priests so sternly against the usus antiquior if there is in fact "no call for it."

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

If you don't like the new ICEL translation ...



... why not have Venetian baroque instead? I found this spirited rendition of Vivaldi on YouTube; its verve and attack made me long more than ever one day to be able to sing High Mass with this setting of the Gloria. There is a debate about the tempo Vivaldi would have preferred for it: this conductor goes for what Private Baldrick might have called the "as fast a a very fast thing" option: a sort of Brands Hatch interpretation.

Below are parts two and three from the set. I know that half an hour for a Gloria is a bit longer than normal but we could all maybe sit down and say some prayers while drawing spiritual edification from such sublime music. As Pope Benedict pointed out, that too is active participation.

This wonderful performance does come apart at the seams once or twice, and there is slightly more shuffling and snorting than I really like, but it has such power that you just have to make allowances. As our friends across the ocean say, "If it ain't Baroque, don't mend it."



Monday, 6 June 2011

A guest post on Lourdes

This post is from Joshua, who is shortly to make his first Holy Communion but has already learned to serve the usus antiquior Mass. It comes with my Fr Z-style emphases and comments. As you read it, remember that he is six years old.



Journey to Lourdes
We drove to Blackfen. [Huzzah!] We had to wait a few minutes then the bus came. Then we got on the bus and the bus drove to the airport. We had to wait for two hours. We had a cold drink, I had a strawberry milkshake which had cream on the top and little ice blocks [I never got one of those]. My Dad and I went upstairs to look at the aeroplanes. We went downstairs and we got on the bus which took us to the aeroplane. We got into our seats and then we put our seatbelts on. The pilot said 'crew, prepare for takeoff.' Then I heard the engines, and the aeroplane drove extremely fast on the runway, then the engines got really loud and then the aeroplane went up in the sky. [For boys, the flying bit is always great.]

First Day in Lourdes
After two hours the aeroplane landed, we came off the aeroplane. We then went on a coach to the hotel and ate dinner. I ate at the priests’ table and the priests called me Bishop Joshua. [On account of the fact that he was down as +Joshua after his parents on the guest list.] We went in the lift up to our room, it was on floor 7. The room was very big and very nice, it had 4 beds and a massive bathroom. We got everything ready to go to the Grotto, we went down in the lift and we put our umbrellas up and walked to the Grotto about 3 minutes walk away. We walked to where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette. After a little prayer it was time for bed, it was very late, after 12 o’clock. [NB parents: even though it was very late for a 6 year old, they said a little prayer together as a family before turning in.]

Second Day in Lourdes
When I woke up, we had breakfast in bed, it was very nice. We had hot chocolate, orange juice, bread and croissants. [I never got that either!] We went down and walked up to St. Gabriel’s chapel, I served with Thomas in Mass. The priest held the Body and Blood of Christ up. [He's properly catechised and ready for first communion, I think.] After Mass we went to visit the Basilica and the Grotto. A lady called Sabrina then showed us the underground Basilica, Saint Bernadette’s museum and then we went to Saint Bernadette’s house - she lived in a very small house where animals used to live. Then we went back to the hotel up to our bedroom and got ready for the Rosary Procession. There were lots of people, a man who worked there told my mum there were 30,000 people. [Processions of Our Lady - thing of the past - NOT!] Then it was bedtime, we went back to the hotel into bed.

Third Day in Lourdes
We woke up in the morning and got our things ready and went outside. It was a very sunny day. We went to the taps and got some Lourdes water. Then we went on a bus to Bartrès and we saw another one of Saint Bernadette’s houses when she was a little girl. We also went to the church she went to and I served with Thomas. Then we saw Saint Bernadette’s handwriting and her relic. We had an ice cream, I had a Twister. We walked to a playground and then we got on a bus back to the hotel. Then we did the Stations of the Cross with Fr Charles.

Forth Day in Lourdes
We got our things ready and went to Mass in the Parish Church. Thomas forgot his cassock and cotta and he got lost and went back to the hotel. I served on my own, it was a very nice chapel. Then we went back to the Grotto, to wait in a queue to go in the baths. The baths had Lourdes water inside and it was extremely cold. Before we went in we had to say some prayers. I prayed to Our Lady to make my vices go away and give me Her virtues so that I will always do the Will of God. [Yes, I think he is ready for first Communion.] I think it worked because I was very good afterwards, I think Our Lady was very happy and gave me some graces. [Remember that fashion in the "new catechesis" of the 1970s that you should not teach children about grace because they can't understand it? ] Then we went to the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament. There were lots of priests, I took a good photo of Jesus in the Monstrance. [Yes, I think he is ready for first Communion.] After dinner we went to the Rosary Procession, we all held a candle and we saw a golden statue of Our Lady.

Fifth Day in Lourdes

We went to Mass, I served with Thomas. After Mass, Thomas dropped his cassock and cotta down into a pit by mistake. We had to get a security man to get it out. Then we wrote our petitions and put them into the petition box in the Grotto. We said a goodbye prayer to Our Lady and it was time to get back on the coach to the airport. Then we went back on the aeroplane and it drove onto the runway. The engines went really fast and it made a loud noise and the aeroplane went into the sky. Soon we were back in England at Heathrow airport and we got our suitcases. We had to wait for our coach, so we played in the water sprays and I got all wet. I had to get changed into new clothes. [Boys will be boys.] The coach then took us back to Blackfen [Huzzah!] and it was time to go home.
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